All Part of the Plan

Navigating Life's Challenges by Trusting in God's Perfect Plan

Dan Franklin
Mar 24, 2024    46m
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Do you find it hard to believe that God is in control when you face overwhelming challenges? This message explores how trusting in God's perfect plan can help you overcome doubt and embrace joy amid life's uncertainties. Video recorded at Upland, California.

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Intro: [00:00:00] Hey there. Thanks so much for checking out one of our messages here at Life Bible Fellowship Church. And we know there are two great ways you can connect with us. You can visit our website at LBF.church to learn more about all of our ministries and what we believe. Also, you can subscribe to us on YouTube to make sure that you don't miss one of our future videos.

Loren Van Woudenberg: [00:00:18] Good morning, I'm Loren Van Woudenberg. That's such a long last name, for 50 years, I've been called Mister VW, so VW is wonderful. I have the privilege, along with my wife, of doing kindergarten through third-grade LIFEKids, and every other Sunday in doing that and it's a joy. We also have the joy of facilitating a life group and also being part of the elder board here at Life Bible Church. Can I do a little exercise that we do every Sunday with the kids? First of all, I would stand up and say, this is. And they would say, God's Word. And I would say it's not very true. And they would say, it's always true, it's always true. And then I would say it has amazing, amazing stories about? And they would point up and they'd say, God. And it also has the best stories about? Jesus. This is? God's Word. And it's not very true. It's always true. And it has amazing stories about? God. And even great, great stories about? Jesus.

Loren Van Woudenberg: [00:01:17] Matthew 26, here we go, verses 14 through 30, Then one of the Twelve—the one called Judas Iscariot—went to the chief priests 15and asked, “What are you willing to give me if I deliver him over to you?” So they counted out for him thirty pieces of silver. 16From then on Judas watched for an opportunity to hand him over. 17On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Where do you want us to make preparations for you to eat the Passover?” 18He replied, “Go into the city to a certain man and tell him, ‘The Teacher says: My appointed time is near. I am going to celebrate the Passover with my disciples at your house.’ ” 19So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them and prepared the Passover. 20When evening came, Jesus was reclining at the table with the Twelve. 21And while they were eating, he said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me.” 22They were very sad and began to say to him one after the other, “Surely you don’t mean me, Lord?” 23Jesus replied, “The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me. 24The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born.” 25Then Judas, the one who would betray him, said, “Surely you don’t mean me, Rabbi?” Jesus answered, “You have said so.” 26While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.” 27Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. 28This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.” 30When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. This is God's Word. Thanks be to God.

Dan Franklin: [00:03:33] So how many of you, raise your hand if you've ever played the game Hearts? All right, good, a whole bunch of you have played it. If you don't know Hearts, it's a card game that you play with four people, and it's every person for themselves. And the whole concept of the game is you're trying not to get points, you're trying to avoid getting points, and you get points if you end up taking hearts, or if you end up taking the queen of spades, which counts for 13 points. And so the whole concept of the game is you're trying to avoid getting points, the lowest score wins, and you're trying to avoid getting points. Except there's one special twist to the game, and that's if you have a kind of hand where you think, I think in this hand, I could take all the points, all 26 of the points, all 13 hearts, and the Queen of spades. I think I could get them all, then you end up shooting the moon, and when you shoot the moon, you get zero points, even though you took every point and everybody else gets? 26. Those of you who play know, everybody else gets 26 points. It's very difficult to do, and if you're doing it, you got to kind of be sneaky about it, otherwise they will thwart you. So a bunch of years ago, Karina and I had a couple of friends over, and we were playing a game of Hearts, and I got a hand and I kind of thought, I think I can do it here, I think I can shoot the moon here. And so the game started unfolding and I started slow, I didn't want to give away what I was doing, and so I was playing very normally, but then I had to set things up where I took the Queen of Spades, just sort of the big 13-point card right away. And I did, I took the Queen of Spades, and when I took the Queen of Spades, I had to act bummed, I had to act like that was not what I was trying to do. So I let out a big sigh like, oh, can you believe this is happening to me? I didn't realize, but at that moment I made Karina and the couple who were with us super uncomfortable. They were like, Dan is really mad right now. My plan worked better than I thought, I'd made it awkward, but that's nothing new, I've been doing that since 1978. But the game continued to unfold, and I kept taking hearts, and they were not picking up on the fact that I wanted to take the hearts because I was acting bummed out as it happened, they became more and more uncomfortable with what was going on. And finally, after the round was over, I revealed that I had taken all of the points. I'd taken all 13 hearts, I'd taken the Queen of Spades, I shot the moon, I got zero, and they all got 26. Now, the funny thing was that they still, toward the end, they still hadn't realized what was going on. So you could see all three of them suddenly sort of reframe what just happened, and to realize every time I took a heart, every time something seemed to be going badly, every setback along the way was all part of the plan. It wasn't getting away from me, things seemed to be going bad, but they weren't going bad, it was all part of the plan. All part of the plan.

Dan Franklin: [00:06:49] We are almost done with our journey through the Gospel of Matthew. We started into the Gospel of Matthew over a year ago, it's got 28 chapters, so we're in chapter 26 today. If you're here on Good Friday, which I hope you will be, we'll be going through some passages in chapter 27. And then next Sunday, Easter Sunday, we'll be going through chapter 28 about the resurrection of Jesus. So we are toward the end, we are here in chapter 26 today, and we are in a passage where, from an outside perspective, a whole bunch of things seem to go wrong. A whole bunch of problems arise. A whole bunch of setbacks happen for Jesus and his disciples. It appears to be a passage where everything is going wrong, but even when it seems like everything's going wrong, everything that unfolds is all part of the plan. In fact, not just for Jesus, but what we're going to see for all of us as we walk through this passage today is that even the most daunting problems are all part of God's perfect plan, for Jesus, for the world, and for us.

Dan Franklin: [00:08:13] As we walk through this passage in Matthew 26, we're going to see three specific problems come up, each of which can feel kind of daunting. But in each case, we're going to see that it's all part of the plan. So we'll start with the first problem that we encounter, and this is what I'm calling the problem of provision. The problem is when we have a practical need and we're not quite sure when it's going to get done. And if you're paying attention when Lauren was reading for us, our passage starts in verse 14, but we're going to circle back to verse 14 when we get to the point that Jesus predicts his betrayal.

Dan Franklin: [00:08:51] So we'll start in verse 17, "On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Where do you want us to make preparations for you to eat the Passover?” And so even today it is typically celebrated as Palm Sunday, which on Palm Sunday we celebrate that a week before his resurrection, Jesus entered into Jerusalem. Jesus entered into Jerusalem because it was the time for the Passover, all of the Jews were coming to Jerusalem to celebrate this festival. And so the disciples bring up a practical issue, they're like, hey, there's you, and there's 12 of us, so there's at least 13, and there were probably also some wives and kids and other people who were going to get in on this meal. They're like, there's a whole bunch of us that are supposed to eat this meal, and at least in the disciple's mind, there's not a plan yet. Like we don't know where we're going to do this, there's a whole bunch of us, where are we going to do this? Now, I want to grant, this right here, this is not the biggest problem that a person would face. It's not the biggest problem we're going to see in our passage, but it still is a very practical problem, and the disciples are looking at it saying, we don't know what's going on here, there doesn't appear to be a plan.

Dan Franklin: [00:10:06] And so Jesus responds to them in verse 18, it says, "He replied, “Go into the city to a certain man and tell him, ‘The Teacher says: My appointed time is near. I am going to celebrate the Passover with my disciples at your house.’ ” 19So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them and prepared the Passover." Now, I don't know about you, but verse 18 up there is a weird verse. It's sort of like what's happening here? Like, did Jesus set this up beforehand? Did this certain man know they were going to talk to them? It's all very strange. And Mark records the same story in his gospel, and I want to read you Mark's version of this because it even fills in a little bit more. So this is Mark 14, starting in verse 13, "So he sent two of his disciples, telling them, “Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him. 14Say to the owner of the house he enters, ‘The Teacher asks: Where is my guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ 15He will show you a large room upstairs, furnished and ready. Make preparations for us there.” 16The disciples left, went into the city and found things just as Jesus had told them. So they prepared the Passover." So in Mark's version, he fills in some details where we find out this is even a little bit more elaborate. Go into the city, there's going to be a guy with the water jar, identify him, follow him back to the house that he's at, knock on the door, talk to the owner, and say, hey, you got a room for us? And he's going to give you a room. And it's not clear in this passage, it's one of two things that is going on, and it's not 100% clear. Option number one is that what's going on here is that Jesus had coordinated this beforehand, he talked to this person, and he said, hey, have one of your servants meet them with a water jar, that's going to be the signal, they'll follow him. So it's possible that Jesus did that. The other possibility is that Jesus, miraculously, is setting them up with somebody who doesn't know they're coming but is going to be willing to house them. Both are possibilities, the way this unfolds, I think it's the second one. I think that this is a miraculous provision, where they don't appear to have a place to go, but Jesus just says, go to the right person at the right time, at the right place, and he's just going to welcome you. But even if it's the first one, even if it's that Jesus just set this up through the normal course of events, here's what's going on here. What's going on here is that there's a moment where the disciples say there's not a plan, but there was a plan. Jesus had a plan the entire time.

Dan Franklin: [00:12:52] And again, this is not the most overwhelming problem, we're going to get to some more intense stuff, but this is right on point for what this whole passage is about and so I wanted to make sure we don't miss this. Some of you right now are dealing with a provision problem. Like, I'm not sure how we're going to make ends meet. I'm not sure how we're going to have enough money. Or I'm not sure how we're going to have enough space. Or I'm not sure if we're going to have the right people. You're dealing with a provision problem, and you don't see how it's going to work out. And what I want to make sure that you see is that even when we seem to lack resources, God never does, and your provision problem is not an actual problem in God's mind because even the most daunting problems that we face are all a part of God's perfect plan.

Dan Franklin: [00:13:51] The problems though, get more intense, so the second problem that we see Jesus and the disciples encounter, I'm going to call this the problem of people. And the problem of people means that sometimes we are wronged by people, they neglect us, or they're thoughtless about how they treat us, or they sin against us in some way. And that's what Jesus faces right here. So starting in verse 20, we read, "When evening came, Jesus was reclining at the table with the Twelve. 21And while they were eating, he said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me.” There's an act of evil that's about to be perpetrated against Jesus. He says, one of you will betray me, and this shouldn't be a surprise to us because we were clued into this a few verses earlier, back in verses 14 through 16. "Then one of the Twelve—the one called Judas Iscariot—went to the chief priests 15and asked, “What are you willing to give me if I deliver him over to you?” So they counted out for him thirty pieces of silver." And by the way, 30 pieces of silver is not an overwhelming amount of money, it's about a month's wages during that time. So it's not nothing, but it doesn't seem sufficient for the act of evil that Judas perpetrates here. Verse 16 says, "From then on Judas watched for an opportunity to hand him over." Which meant the Jewish authorities didn't want to arrest Jesus when the crowds were around because the crowds liked Jesus, they wanted to get him alone so that the crowds wouldn't riot when they made the arrest.

Dan Franklin: [00:15:44] So the plan has already been put in place, Judas has already got the pieces moving, and Jesus is revealing that he knows about it, that it's not a surprise to him, but it is a surprise to Jesus' disciples. And so that brings us to verse 22, which says, "They were very sad and began to say to him one after the other, “Surely you don’t mean me, Lord?” Just one by one, eleven of them are just saying, it can't be me, you're not talking about me, right? "Jesus replied, “The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me." The way that John tells this gospel, it's a bit more specific, but at least in the way that Matthew is unfolding it here, Jesus still hasn't given his hand away. He still hasn't identified who his traitor is, he's just said it's going to be one of the 12.

Dan Franklin: [00:16:36] But we're going to get back to verse 24 in a second. If we skip ahead to verse 25, we see that Jesus knew exactly what was going on, because in verse 25 it says, "Then Judas, the one who would betray him, said, “Surely you don’t mean me, Rabbi?” And so we know this is all for show with Judas, this is just an acting job. The 11 others have all said, well, it's not me, Judas has got to play his part. So he says, “Surely you don’t mean me, Rabbi?” Jesus answered, “You have said so.” Which sounds a little bit like beating around the bush when we read this in English, it was not beating around the bush, this was a way of Jesus clearly identifying that he knew what was going on. It might be a little bit like today, the way this conversation might go down is that Judas might say, well, what, you think I'm going to betray you? And Jesus responds and says, you said it. Jesus not only knew he was going to be betrayed, and he not only knew he was going to be betrayed by one of the 12, he knew exactly who was going to betray him, this was all according to plan.

Dan Franklin: [00:17:43] And now I want to highlight verse 24 for us, because I think verse 24 is the most profound verse in the whole passage. Jesus says, "The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him." Says, hey, you think this betrayal, you think this upcoming arrest, you think this is random, do you think this is chaotic? He's saying it's not random, it's not chaotic, I am going to go just as it is written about me. He is saying this is always the way it is going to go down. In fact, Jesus at different times sort of marveled at the fact that his disciples didn't know that suffering was going to be a part of his story. That he had to suffer before he entered into his victory and glory. And the reason why Jesus seemed to marvel at the fact that they didn't know this is because it was written that this was the way it was going to go down.

Dan Franklin: [00:18:47] It was written in a number of Old Testament passages, and maybe the one that talks about it most profoundly is Isaiah 53. So let me just pause and read a couple of verses from Isaiah 53, these are verses 4, 5, and 6, "Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. 5But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. 6We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all." About 700 years before all of this happened, it was written. Jesus says, do you think this is random? Do you think this is a problem? This is all part of the plan. He says, "The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him."

Dan Franklin: [00:20:02] But he doesn't finish there, look at the second half of what he says, "The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born.” So Jesus here, on the one hand he says it's happening all according to plan, but he doesn't in any way exonerate Judas. Judas is fully culpable; he is fully guilty of the evil that he's doing. So Jesus does something here, he brings together two things that we sort of hold in paradox, or we hold in tension. On the one hand, he's saying God is in complete control of everything that's happening, he's completely sovereign, nothing is surprising him, and on the other hand, we are 100% responsible for our actions. We bear the guilt of every act of evil that we do. Jesus doesn't look at Judas and say, I am so thankful that you're betraying me, otherwise, this wouldn't happen. He says this for always the way it was going to go down, this was always the plan. But Judas is still completely culpable for what he does.

Dan Franklin: [00:21:13] And if this troubles you, if you're looking at this and you're like, this is confusing, heck yeah, this is confusing. This is difficult. If you feel like I can't get my mind around this, I want to let you know, not only can you not get your mind around this, but no human being on earth can get their mind around this. Sometimes as Christians, we're like, well, how do we deal with this paradox? Man, every worldview is dealing with this paradox. There's a whole bunch of atheists that don't know what to do with the issue of free will. We're all confused by this dynamic, and yet we all are living, that there's no other way to live, other than in the reality that God truly is in control, and nobody can thwart him, and at the same time, our actions matter. And if you're going to demand, well, I'm not going to live in light of that until I sort of understand it fully. Most of us don't fully understand the law of gravity, and do you know what we don't do? We don't walk on cliffs because I understand it. You will never fully understand that, no human being will fully understand this, but in the reality that we live in, that somehow these words paid together and going to get contradictory. And the truth, this truth that Jesus is unfolding, this truth, hey, no matter what 20 mill of evil that any person ever does, nothing can hurt God's perfect plan.

Dan Franklin: [00:22:37] This is a truth that is both incredibly comforting. It's frustrating and also troubling. It's incredibly comforting, because that means that no act of evil that any human being does against you, no abandonment, no insult, no bullying, no abuse. Like nothing, no matter how bad it is, no act of evil that any human being ever does against you can ever thwart God's perfect plan for you. Nobody is that powerful, God is more powerful. But it's also disturbing to us because it makes us live in the reality of saying, well, wait a second, so that means that that act of evil that happened against me, God could have stopped it, but it was all part of the plan. And that's hard for us to swallow, it's hard for us to deal with because we want to trust God, but we look at things that we face and we say, well, I wouldn't have done that, I wouldn't have chosen that.

Dan Franklin: [00:23:41] And what I want to say is a few things. First of all, this is a problem we will always wrestle with, I'm not going to solve this in five minutes right now. But what I want to say is just even in my own life, the older I've gotten, the more perspective I've been able to have to be able to look back on ways that I was wronged and to see the good things that God did in my life that would not be present if those hadn't have happened. Whether it's something as simple as getting bullied in junior high, which, by the way, when it was happening, did not feel like a small thing, or ways that I was mistreated at different points in my 20s and 30s in employment situations, every act of evil that's been done against me has been something that God has used profoundly to bring about good that would not be present in my life if those things hadn't have happened. That doesn't excuse any act of evil, it doesn't mean those things were good, it doesn't even mean that I look back and I'm like, I'm glad that person did that. But what it means is that the older we get, the more we're able to see instances where God uses even acts of evil, like the betrayal of Judas, to put us in positions where he does profound good in our lives. I heard a sermon, a couple of years ago, and there was a quote from it that I would give the guy credit, but I don't remember the guy's name who said it. So Jesus knows, and he'll get rewards in heaven. But the quote was, "We shout in the light so we can whisper in the dark." And here's what he meant, what he meant is that there are deep truths about God, challenging truths about God, but the deep truths about God, that when times are good, when things are going well, we shout those truths so that when we're in the dark, when things are going badly, we can gently whisper them to remind us that they're true. I think that this is one of those truths.

Dan Franklin: [00:25:49] Some of you are in here right now and nobody is going through nothing, everybody's going through some trial, but some of us in here, we're like, hey, like, I feel kind of clear-headed, I'm not upset with God, I feel like I can take this in. So if that's you right now, please take this as a shout, and as a victorious shout, there is no act of evil anybody can ever do against you or will ever do against you that can in any way thwart God's perfect plan for you. Even those acts of evil are all part of the plan. Take this as a shout. And if you're in here today and you are right now wrestling with whether or not you can trust God because of an act of evil that you've suffered, you're like, I can't believe God would allow me to experience this. If that's you right now, please receive this as a whisper. Not because it's not true, but because you need to receive it with gentleness to be patient, be patient, trust God, and walk with him. We shout in the light so that we can whisper in the dark.

Dan Franklin: [00:26:58] And if right now you're like, all right, right now I'm not sold. Like I'm going to choose to still walk with Jesus, I'm going to choose to trust him, but I'm wrestling with this. If we kept reading Matthew 26, we would find Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, praying for his Father to get him off the hook from the cross. Praying, if there's any other way, let's not do this. So even our Lord in the moment had a hard time seeing God's plan as good. You're not betraying God if you are struggling with this, don't lose hope, and keep walking with him. Allow it to be a whisper in the darkness that was shouted in the light. Jesus said, even the problems with people and some evil night here thwart God's plan for us.

Dan Franklin: [00:27:52] But there is one more problem we're going to encounter, and that's the problem of pain, the problem of suffering, that we all experience, but that Jesus predicts he's about to experience. Verse 26, While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.” 27Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. 28This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins." Jesus here hijacks the Passover meal because this wasn't the normal practice in the Passover meal, and he makes the Passover meal not about Moses and not about the Israelites, he makes it all about himself. Who in the world does this guy think he is? He thinks he's the king. He says this is now all about me, this is my body broken for you, this is my blood shed for you. Jesus initiates a symbol that we still practice today, sometimes we call it Communion, and sometimes we call it the Lord's Supper, but where we take bread and we eat it, and we take from a cup, and we drink it. We did it last week, if you were here, if you're here on Friday for our Good Friday service, we'll do it again. We do this to remember the sacrifice of Jesus, and here Jesus initiates it as part of the meal to give them a preview of what's about to happen. He says, not only am I going to be betrayed and then arrested, but my body is going to be broken and my blood is going to be shed. There is pain and suffering coming.

Dan Franklin: [00:29:47] But Jesus says something in verse 28 that hints at the idea that this is not random, that this is about to happen because you notice what he said. He said, "This is my blood of the covenant. That's a big Old Testament word, it's a big Bible word, covenant, it sort of means promise slash agreement. And so we hear this statement, and those of us who are familiar with the Bible, we always think of communion. Yeah, the blood of the covenant. When Jesus' disciples heard this, they would have been thinking of something different, they would have been thinking of the Exodus story, the story that centers around the Passover. Because the people of Israel received the law and the covenant was, here's God's law, we're going to do what God says, that was the covenant. That was the covenant that then was ratified by Moses in chapter 24, he slaughtered some animals, and then look at Exodus 24 verse 8, "Moses took the blood and sprinkled it on the people, and said, “Behold the blood of the covenant, which the LORD has [d]made with you [e]in accordance with all these words.” Jesus now says this is my blood of the covenant, he's referencing back to the fact that when the covenant of the law was given, it was ratified by blood. But when Jesus says, this is my blood of the covenant, he's not talking about this covenant, he's not talking about the giving of the law, because God had made promises about a new covenant that was coming.

Dan Franklin: [00:31:30] And Ezekiel talks about this, Jeremiah talks about this. Let me just read you a few verses from Jeremiah 31 when he talks about what this new covenant is going to be like. Jeremiah 31:33 says, "This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,” declares the Lord. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. He says in this covenant I'm not writing my law on tablets of stone; I'm writing it on their minds and on their hearts, I'm going to give them the Holy Spirit to bring inside-out transformation.

Dan Franklin: [00:32:13] He goes on in verse 34 and he says, "No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,” declares the Lord. “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” So this isn't going to be a covenant now where God says, do this and then you're okay, this is going to be a covenant where all of your sins are wiped away by something that God does for you. And Jesus says, this is my blood of the covenant. It's going to be through a sacrifice, through pain and suffering and death that this new covenant comes about.

Dan Franklin: [00:33:00] Jesus predicts all this, and then I want to make sure that you see this. There's something amazing that happens right as this passage ends that we could skip over in verses 29 and 30. Jesus, after instituting communion in this way, he says, "I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.” 30When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives." Verse 29, Jesus says, here's the bread, this is my body. Here's the cup, this is my blood. And then he says, I'm not drinking from the fruit of the vine again until I'm drinking it with you and my Father's kingdom. When Jesus has come back and there's justice on the earth, and we're renewed, and we're in new bodies, on a new earth, on a perfect world with Jesus on the throne, he says, that's the next time I drink.

Dan Franklin: [00:33:57] When Karina and I were engaged, we rented an apartment for where we would live once we were married. And because I lived already in the area where we were going to live, I moved in there for the month and a half leading up to our wedding and lived there in anticipation. And I'd previously been living with a bunch of guys, and for about a year I had just slept on an air mattress, which wasn't, I was 22, it's like an air mattress was fine. About three weeks before our wedding, our bed arrived, and I got it all set up in the room. And Karina just kind of assumed like, yeah, like, feel free, our bed is there, that's better than an air mattress. And I was like, there is no way, like, I'm not sleeping in that bed until we're next to each other in that bed. And so I spent three more weeks on the air mattress. Which, just to be clear, is not something that I think was some heroic feat by me. Jesus has been waiting for 2000 years for his next glass of wine. And you know why? Because he wants his next glass of wine to be with you, in his kingdom, when everything's fixed. He says, I'm not doing that, I'm not drinking that until I'm with you. This is how much Jesus loves you. This is how much he longs for closeness with you that he's saying, I would rather not drink a glass of wine for 2000 years, than drink without enjoying that with you.

Dan Franklin: [00:35:32] So even when we're experiencing pain, even when we're experiencing suffering, and even when sometimes in that pain and suffering, it feels like there's not a plan. There is always a plan, and we can trust the one who longs for us so much that he's been waiting for 2000 years for his next glass of wine. There are times we face problems, and the problems feel daunting, but this passage in amazing ways shows us that even the most daunting problems are all part of God's plan. And man, this is good for us to hear because this means everything that we face, maybe some of you are facing provision problems right now, and please know it is all part of the plan. And the same Jesus who fed 5000 with five loaves of bread and two fish can handle your problem. As some of you right now are facing the problem of people. You're like, man, after what was done to me, after the way I was sinned against and wronged, I don't see how I could ever have a life that's full of joy. But please know that even that wrong that you suffered, and it was wrong, and Jesus would never excuse it, is all part of God's plan, and he will use it for his glory and for your good. And there's no amount of pain or suffering that you could experience that will in any way thwart God's perfect plan for you. We walk in the peace of knowing that that's true.

Dan Franklin: [00:37:08] But I think there's even a greater way that we're called to respond to this passage, and that's to remember that this passage is not primarily about us, this passage is primarily about Jesus. It's not simply about our suffering, it's about his suffering, and his suffering was for us. His suffering was so that we could experience all of the benefits of living free and forgiven and adopted into the family of God. And so as great as it would be for us to respond to this, to say, I'm going to trust God, and I'm going to walk in peace because nothing can thwart his plan; an even better response to this passage is to say, I'm going to respond by embracing and living in all of the benefits that Jesus purchased through what he did for me. There might be some of you here that you've been coming to church, and your attitude has sort of been like, tell me what I'm supposed to do. Like I need guidance in my life, tell me what I'm supposed to do, tell me kind of the rules I'm supposed to follow, tell me and give me some guidance so that I live better. And maybe you've even been doing that, and maybe you've even experienced some positive things in your life from that. But what I want to make sure that, you know, is that the good news of Jesus isn't here's some principles, go follow them. The good news of Jesus is not even just that he came to save us from our inept ability to live good lives. The good news is that he came to solve the ultimate problem, to take away your sins and to save you from death and hell. And I want to invite you to embrace his benefits by putting your faith in him. Not just by saying I'm going to live better, but by putting your trust in Jesus.

Dan Franklin: [00:39:03] Some of you right now need to embrace his benefits because even though you are forgiven and you are saved, you're living right now like you've still got to make up for stuff. Like you've still got to do some penance. You've still got to prove yourself to God, and God longs for nothing more than for you to live in the peace and the joy of knowing that every sin was covered when Jesus's body was broken and when his blood was shed. And, you know, on top of this, for some of us, we've been welcomed into the family, but if you look at the way that we're living, we're not really enjoying all the benefits of that. We've been welcomed into the family of God, and we have closeness with him, and we can talk to him at any time, and our attitude is sort of like, all right, God, I'll see you next Sunday. And how sad that he would die to bring us these benefits and we wouldn't be experiencing them. We are invited to walk with, to pray to, and to experience deep closeness with God because of all Jesus has done for us.

Dan Franklin: [00:40:09] And so maybe some of you don't know what to do with this. Let me just give you a practical suggestion for this week. If you're looking at it and saying, man, I've been brought into the family and I'm not really enjoying all that goes into being a part of the family. Right now in our LBF church Bible reading plan, we're finishing the Gospel of John, we'll finish it on Easter Sunday, next Sunday. So today we're in John 14 and we're just reading a chapter per day. Right now, you're like, I just want to experience what it's like to walk with Jesus. Here's my simple suggestion: you don't have to commit to doing this for the next ten years just for these seven days, just read the chapter of John for each day. And then if you really want to turn it up a little bit, to experience even greater joy and closeness with God, take ten minutes just to journal a response to that. Taste it and see if you like it. Put your toe in the water and just see, is this good? Is this good walking with God? Is this good casting my burdens on him? Is this good praying to him and being reminded of all he's done for me because my bet is, if you just start into this, you're going to want more and you're going to get more and you're going to experience more of the benefits that he brings.

Dan Franklin: [00:41:28] What we're going to do now is not a full experience of this, but I thought, hey, right now, let's get a taste while we're all together. So before I explain this next part, I am going to invite the members of the prayer ministry team to come forward. Because I know after this, there may be some of you that feel like I need a follow-up with prayer. I've got a provision problem, or a people problem, or a pain problem, I need some prayer. And so afterward, the prayer ministry team is going to be up here for that.

Dan Franklin: [00:41:58] But what we're going to do now is we are just going to take a couple of minutes of quiet. We're going to take a couple of minutes of quiet just to remember that if we've been brought into the family, God rejoices in the idea that we draw near to him and spend time with him. So I'm just going to ask you to bow your heads right now. You might be wanting to come to God with a confession, with a longing, with a burden, maybe just with a Thanksgiving. But we're just going to take a couple of minutes of silence to get a taste of how good it is to be with God right now.

Dan Franklin: [00:43:48] Father, the psalmist said, "Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere." And Father, even just two minutes of dwelling in your presence fills our souls, please help this to be a taste that makes us come back for more. Thank you that you carry our burdens, thank you that you hear our prayers, thank you that you give us joy, that you receive us, and that you hear us. We don't deserve any of this, but we claim it all as our right because of what Jesus has done for us. Father, comfort us where we need comfort, strengthen us where we're wavering in our faith. And Father, please give us the strength to believe that even in the most daunting of times, that everything that happens is all part of your perfect plan for us. Prepare our hearts for Good Friday and for Easter to bring you glory, to worship you with joy, and to have our souls filled. We pray this in Jesus' name, Amen.

Dan Franklin: [00:45:02] Let me just ask you to stand for a moment while I read a word of benediction over us, and once again, afterward, the members of the prayer ministry team will be on either side of the stage, and they would love to be part of what God is doing in your life now. But as a preview of all the benefits that Jesus has bought for us, let me just read a couple of verses from the last book of the Bible. Revelation chapter 21, verses 3 and 4, "And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” 5He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Amen? Amen.

Dan Franklin: [00:46:04] God bless you and thank you so much for being here on this Sunday. We look forward to seeing you on Friday and on Easter Sunday.



Recorded in Upland, California.
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Life Bible Fellowship Church
2426 N Euclid Ave
Upland, California 91786
(909) 981-4848