In continuing this series on overcoming fear and depression, we are talking about understanding that God has good thoughts and intentions toward you.
Revelation # 7 – Understand that God’s Thoughts & Plans toward you are GOOD.
When you are depressed, there is a tendency to believe that everything looks black. There is no hope, and if you think that even God is against you, you cannot conceive of Him having good plans for you. The Lord had to work on with me with not only setting my expectations to receive good from Him, but I needed to learn that God’s thoughts and plans toward me were always good.
Growing up, I was taught that God had plans for the work of the church. I was taught that not everyone was called to serve God. I was taught that certain people had special callings but I didn’t imagine that I was one of them. I had no idea that God had thoughts and plans for ME specifically as well as every person.
Even after I was born again, I went through a period in my life where I was afraid that God’s thoughts and plans for me might be terrible. Because of erroneous teaching, I was afraid that He might inflict sickness or some dreaded disease or terrible catastrophe on me so that I could prove my love and faithfulness to Him. I didn’t know His Word and, therefore, I didn’t know His thoughts and plans toward me were good.
It is true that none of us have done anything to deserve God’s goodness. You can’t do enough on your own, you can’t buy it, you can’t beg for it, and you can’t prove your worthiness for it. Everything God does and everything He gives is completely out of the love and goodness of His heart. We should love Him, praise Him and honor Him whether we are going through good times or bad. If we are going through bad times, we need to just keep trusting Him to bring us through.
The Bible says that His salvation is a free gift.
Ephesians 2:8-9 (AMP) tells us, "For it is by free grace (God’s unmerited favor) that you are saved (delivered from judgment and made partakers of Christ’s salvation) through your faith. And this salvation is not of yourselves [of your own doing, it came not through your own striving], but it is the gift of God; Not because of works [not the fulfillment of the Law’s demands], lest any man should boast. It is not the result of what anyone can possibly do, so no one can pride himself in it or take glory to himself."
We must look at all of Scripture, and certainly no one can take out only specific verses that they like and ignore the rest. Yet we must look at everything in the CONTEXT of all Scripture (which you learn over time) AND through the LENS of Jesus’ suffering and death for us – His Atonement. The entire Bible speaks of a God who loved us so much – all of us, rich, poor and in-between - that He sent His only Son to suffer and die for our sakes. It is God who placed that value on us, not we ourselves.
In Jeremiah 29:11 (KJV), the Lord says, "For I know the THOUGHTS that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of PEACE, and not of evil, to give you an EXPECTED end."
In the original ancient Hebrew for this verse:
1) The word THOUGHTS actually means "thoughts, plans, and purposes"
2) The word PEACE astonishingly means "completeness, soundness, welfare, peace, safety, prosperity, contentment, friendship, and covenant relationship with God." (Yes, all of that.)
3) The word EVIL means “evil, distress, misery, injury, and calamity.”
4) The word EXPECTED means the "future and/or outcome you hope for."
So if this verse were translated directly from the Hebrew language, it would read:
"For I know the THOUGHTS, PLANS AND PURPOSES that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of COMPLETENESS,SOUNDNESS, WELFARE, PEACE, SAFETY, PROSPERITY, CONTENTMENT, FRIENDSHIP, and COVENANT RELATIONSHIP with God, and not of EVIL, DISTRESS, MISERY, INJURY, AND CALAMITY; to give you the "FUTURE and/or OUTCOME YOU HOPE FOR. "
That's not ME saying that; that is God's Word. I’m not adding to it or changing it. It is the original Hebrew meaning of that verse.
This also perfectly ties in with the salvation that God offers through Jesus Christ. I used to think, as so many do, that salvation means I get to go to heaven someday when my body dies. That is true but there is more.
Throughout the New Testament the words “save,” “saved,” and “salvation” have their root in the original Greek word “SOZO” whose definition includes to SAVE, RESCUE, DELIVER, PROTECT, HEAL, PRESERVE, AND MAKE WHOLE.
The Greek word “soteria” (which has origin in “sozo”) is the primary word translated as "salvation.” “Soteria” also means deliverance, health, well-being, salvation, and to save and saving.
Additionally, there is a connection between the Greek word for salvation "soteria" and the Hebrew word shalom or “peace.” The word shalom means “completeness, wholeness, peace, health, welfare, safety, soundness, tranquility, prosperity, perfectness, fullness, rest, harmony, absence of agitation or discord, to be complete, perfect and full.”
Beloved ones, because He so greatly loved us, God did not put us here to live miserable unfulfilled lives. His intent was that we would learn from His Word (Joshua 1:8), renew our minds to it (Romans 12:1-2), and then continuously apply that Word to our lives and situations, enforcing His Word and His ways against the obstacles the devil throws our way (Ephesians 6:17).
Every good thing we have and receive is from God’s Hands. So if we believe God for salvation, then we should trust God for provision, for healing, for deliverance, for preservation, for well-being, and to be made whole, and more. His Word says so.
Additionally, it is God who said in His Word that we are under a new covenant.
Hebrews 8:6-7 tells us of this covenant, " But in fact the ministry Jesus has received is as SUPERIOR to theirs (the ministry of the Old Testament high priests) as the [new] covenant of which He is mediator is SUPERIOR to the old one (the Law), since the new covenant is established on BETTER PROMISES. For if there had been nothing wrong with that first covenant (the Law of the Old Testament), no place would have been sought for another."
Look at these verses in Galatians, Chapter 3 (paragraph titles in caps are mine); if you need to, read them slowly to understand (I had to the first time I read them as well); the Lord tells us:
LIVE BY FAITH.
7 Know and understand that it is really the people who live by faith who are the true sons of Abraham.
9 So then, those who are people of faith are blessed and made happy and favored by God [as partners in fellowship] with the believing and trusting Abraham.
DON’T DEPEND ON THE LAW TO SAVE YOU OR TO EARN BLESSINGS.
10 And all who depend on the Law [who are seeking to be justified by obedience to the Law of rituals] are under a curse and doomed to disappointment and destruction, for it is written in the Scriptures, Cursed (accursed, devoted to destruction, doomed to eternal punishment) be everyone who does not continue to abide (live and remain) by all the precepts and commands written in the Book of the Law and to practice them.
11 Now it is evident that no person is justified (declared righteous and brought into right standing with God) through the Law, for the Scripture says, The man in right standing with God [the just, the righteous] shall live by and out of faith, and he who through and by faith is declared righteous and in right standing with God shall live.
CHRIST PURCHASED OUR FREEDOM
13 Christ purchased our freedom [redeeming us] from the curse (doom) of the Law [and its condemnation] by Himself becoming a curse for us, for it is written [in the Scriptures], Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree (is crucified);
THE PURPOSE OF THE LAW WAS TO TRAIN US – TO MAKE US AWARE OF GOD’S STANDARDS FOR LIVING AND TO REALIZE OUR NEED FOR A SAVIOR, AS NO ONE COULD KEEP THE LAW PERFECTLY.
19 What then was the purpose of the Law? It was added [later on, after the promise, to disclose and expose to men their guilt] because of transgressions and [to make men more conscious of the sinfulness] of sin; and it was intended to be in effect until the Seed (Christ, the Descendant, the Heir) should come, to and concerning Whom the promise had been made. And it [the Law] was arranged and ordained and appointed through the instrumentality of angels [and was given] by the hand (in the person) of a go-between [Moses, an intermediary person between God and man].
THE GOOD PLANS AND BLESSINGS OF GOD ARE AVAILABLE TO US – NOT BECAUSE WE PERFORM PERFECTLY BUT – BECAUSE JESUS PERFORMED PERFECTLY AND WE HAVE BELIEVED IN HIM! WE OPEN OUR HEARTS AND LIVES TO GOD’S GOODNESS THROUGH OUR FAITH IN JESUS.
22 But the Scriptures picture all mankind as sinners, shut up and imprisoned by sin, so that [the inheritance, blessing] which was promised through faith in Jesus Christ (the Messiah) might be given (released, delivered, and committed) to all those who believe [who adhere to and trust in and rely on Him].
24 So that the Law served as our trainer [our guardian, our guide to Christ, to lead us] until Christ came, that we might be justified (declared righteous, put in right standing with God) by and through faith.
29 And if you belong to Christ [are in Him Who is Abraham’s Seed], then you are Abraham’s offspring and spiritual heirs according to the promise.
I encourage you to read the entirety of Galatians 3 slowly and prayerfully.
In conclusion, if you can grasp a hold of these truths, you can hold your head a little higher in faith. You can draw closer to God without fear. You can have more confidence not only in God’s ability to answer your prayers and help you, but in His willingness to do so. Maybe you can truly see the Lord for the loving Heavenly Father He is!
Learn to recognize – and don’t listen to – naysayers who tell you how angry God is with you and how you better watch your step or you’re gonna get it! Don’t listen to people who put you in fear and condemnation over every mistake you make. THAT is not the heart of the Father toward His children – that is not the heart of Jesus. In fact, that attitude actually discredits and dismisses the sacrifice Jesus made. It is like saying Jesus ‘sacrifice wasn’t enough to deal with your sin. I am always surprised and dismayed by folks who, even after seeing the Scriptures, insist on viewing the Lord through a lens of harshness and anger. They get upset when one talks about how much God loves and cares for us, or about how God wants to help, heal and provide for us. Why in the world would you get angry over someone talking about the love and goodness of God, and not only that, but they show you from the Word of God where He says so?
Sin has already been judged and God’s wrath against sin has been poured out on Jesus (Isaiah 53:6). Jesus came to take away the sins of the world (1 John 3:5). He came not to condemn the world, but to save it (John 3:17). God knew that no one could perfectly keep all the commandments. That is why Jesus came as our substitute – He took our place, He fulfilled the requirements of the Law, and became the perfect, sinless, spotless sacrifice for our sakes. Because of that, we have only to accept Him as our Lord and Savior, and receive His righteousness according to what He did on Calvary. The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 5:21 that we actually become (spiritually) the righteousness of God:
“For our sake He made Christ [virtually] to be sin Who knew no sin, so that in and through Him we might become [endued with, viewed as being in, and examples of] the righteousness of God [what we ought to be, approved and acceptable and in right relationship with Him, by His goodness].” 2 Corinthians 5:21
Does this mean that it doesn’t matter what we do or how we behave or live our lives? Of course not! We should learn and follow God’s instructions throughout Scripture for godly living. We should do our best because we love God, because we honor Him by doing so, we are better witnesses for Christ, and we also keep the devil from messing in our lives.
Yet by resting in Jesus’ sacrifice and depending on His atonement for our sins, we can shift our focus from sin-consciousness to Christ-consciousness; we can focus on learning and growing in Christ without the fear of a divine baseball bat coming down on our heads! As we focus on the Lord and His Word, and renew our minds to His Word, He will take us through a process of sanctification and transformation into the image of Jesus.
So grab a hold of God’s GOOD thoughts and plans toward you and for you as one of His precious sons or daughters. When you begin to see God this way, just as I did, you will see your relationship with Him grow closer, and your faith and confidence in Him will bloom, and your growing faith and trust will open the door for Him to not only deliver you from fear and depression, but deliver you from and through every other situation in your life!
This blog is also available from my Bible teaching website:
Until the next posting in this series, be blessed!
For Part 1 of this blog Overcoming Fear & Depression, look here:
This blog is part of an overall Walking by Faith series that began on April 12, 2013. The introductory blog link is below, and blogs in the series follow from there in numbered order: