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In Christ we were chosen to be God’s people, because from the very beginning God had decided this in keeping with his plan. And he is the One who makes everything agree with what he decides and wants. Ephesians 1:11 (NCV)

I don’t know if this is a true story or not, but a great sculptor was allegedly asked how he went about taking a block of granite and transforming it into a statue. His response went like this: “Well, imagine I wanted to make a statue of a horse. I simply look at the block of granite and chip away everything that doesn’t look like a horse!”

For people like me that are artistically challenged in the area of sculpture, that explanation is completely worthless. My ability to make anything from clay or granite would have to have a plaque underneath it with the inscription “I don’t know either. It didn’t turn out the way I’d like.”

That’s not true with your Heavenly Father. Unlike you or me, he had a plan at the beginning of time. His plan was for you to have a relationship with him. It’s as though, in all his power and majesty, he looked a piece of clay and said, “I’m going to create my perfect lover, my perfect object of my affection. I’m going to make something for me that is exactly as I want it. Something I can love more than any of my other creations”

Once he finished molding and forming, your image appeared! You may think that sounds ridiculous. “Just look at me,” you say, “look at my scars. Look at the mistakes I’ve made. Look at the mess I’ve made of my life. Look at all the people I’ve hurt. How can you say that God created me to be some perfect love of his?”

Your question is understandable. We all have ugly scars from our past; we have all endured the consequences of stupid decisions that hurt ourselves and others. But the explanation is really rather simple, from God’s perspective anyway. When he looks at you, he looks beyond the scars and mistakes, he looks beyond the rebellion and anger, he looks beyond the frustration and worry.

God planned you from the beginning. He knew every obstacle you would have to endure. He knew your failures. He knew all about your rebellion. He knew all about the abuse and pain you’d have to suffer. That’s why he sent Jesus.

When I set my camera to manual focus I can make objects seem blurry or clear, perfect or imperfect; acceptable or unacceptable. Jesus is like God’s auto-focus. When you come to Christ and ask forgiveness for all the flaws in your life (the sin, the anger, the hate, the hurts) he looks at me through Jesus and sees the perfection of his plan.

You are planned by your Heavenly Father and his plans always work out just the way he wants them to. That’s what grace is all about. Grace is all about a relationship with the Father, through Jesus Christ, who sets us free from the penalty of sin.

PRAYER: Lord God, I thank you for your ability to carry out your plan for me exactly aw you intended. Thank you for Jesus and for the fact that because of him, I’m exactly what you want. Amen.

I say this because I know what I am planning for you,” says the Lord. “I have good plans for you, not plans to hurt you. I will give you hope and a good future. Jeremiah 29:11 (NCV)

Imagine what it must have been like for those who read the Prophet Jeremiah’s letter. They had been ripped out ofJerusalemand lost everything they had. The lost their homes, their jobs, their identity. Some had lost family members. They were strangers in a foreign land, forced to live among enemies.

While they were told their captivity would end and God would restore them, some died never seeing their belovedJerusalemagain. Others were born in captivity and died knowing nothing but a life of slavery. The onlyJerusalemthey knew was from stories from the elders. They lived and died as captives in a foreign land. Some were born late in the captivity and ‘return toJerusalem’, butJerusalemwasn’t really their home. As Hebrews the only life they knew was the life lived inBabylon. They ‘returned’ to a home that was based on their heritage, not necessarily their heart.

You may be going through a time in your life right now when you feel like one of the captives. Everything that was familiar and ‘safe’ has been ripped from your hands. You feel like a foreigner in a place that doesn’t understand your morals, your way of thinking or your heritage.

Once you knew “Jerusalem” in your heart. You walked close to God, felt his presence, enjoyed the company of his people but then the road of life took and unexpected turn. Now you long for the presence of God in your life like it once was, but things have changed and many of those changes are out of your control.

Perhaps you feel as one born into captivity. The things the rest of society consider ‘normal’ don’t match the standards God has told you to follow. You long for the ‘Jerusalem’ others have talked about; but still, there is nervousness about the future. You know God will be there, but the unknown concerns you.

God’s tells us he has a plan for our lives and it’s a good plan. He KNOWS his plans for you but he doesn’t always tell us what those plans are. He only promises that his plans for you are good, offer hope, and will come to pass in his time. There will be times when we feel like a captive, like an alien in a land where no one understands us, but during those times we can rely on the promise that God’s plans for us are good.

So, what do we do in the meantime? What action does God expect from us while we are in captivity? Jeremiah 29:7 says “Also do good things for the city where I sent you as captives. Pray to the Lord for the city where you are living, because if good things happen in the city, good things will happen to you also.”

There it is! The answer to how we should live as captives. Not worried; not angry; not demanding the right to live according to our heritage; not moaning and lamenting our plight. Nope. Just the opposite. While we are here in this foreign land we are to make our corner of the world the best we can make it because when good things happen to those around us, life will be easier for all of us.

PRAYER: Lord, I ask that while I am ‘captive’ in this foreign land, you would keep my attitude positive and my eyes on the promise of your deliverance. May the things I do today make my world a better place because I know your ultimate plans for me are good. Amen.

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