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Sunday, June 2, 2013

When Our Plans Go South!

“Woe to the obstinate children declares the LORD,
to those who carry out plans that are not mine,
forming an alliance
but not by my spirit, heaping sin upon sin;…”
Isaiah 30:1 NIV

Today I will spend my time in the garden walking a well marked pathway through the woods. It is serene. The tranquility is perfect for worship. The trees make available a canopy that provides coolness and a welcome relief from the heat of the sun. During this time of reflection, I stop and stroke a bed of soft, emerald green moss. The softness of the moss is reminiscent of the love of my Father in heaven.
As I walk I begin to ponder this question. Why is it so hard to accept disappointment when the plans I make fail? It is during this time I begin to search my soul for answers. My mind immediately goes to God’s Word. “In His heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.” Proverbs 16:9 NIV
As a child I learned a scripture verse found in Jeremiah 29:11, but I must confess there have been many times that I didn’t believe this scripture was true “I know the plans I have for you,… plans to prosper you …plans to give you hope and a future.” My questions of unbelief would come to me during the times when my heart was broken, when my dreams were unfulfilled, when death took a loved one, or when money was scarce. My response to God was, “How can this thing be good? How is this in my best interest? How will this prosper me? Why did you give me this talent and then not allow me to use it? Where is my hope and where is my future in this scenario?
During times when I am working through confusion I have found that it is best to go back to square one. Today God faithfully began to remind me that on the day I was conceived I was created as his masterpiece. A masterpiece is something that is created with extraordinary skill. It is not always perfect but it is designed with great care for a specific purpose. Every single person ever created by God is a masterpiece! All of God’s masterpieces come fully equipped with flaws and imperfection, yet every creation has the ability to carry out their own specific purpose. God has designed each one of us to look the way he wanted us to look, he gave us a mind to work as he deemed best, and he gave us all specific abilities, gifts and talents to use for his glory and our enjoyment. God also put within each of us an eternal soul. God gave each of us our own unique personality and temperament. He lovingly installed inside each of us a set of human flaws that he uses as tools as he attempts to draw us into a personal relationship with him. You see, our flaws create need, and that need is the need of a Savior. All of us need a Savior to help us deal with all that life sends across our path. God created us and on the day we were conceived he set the plan for our life in action and he began the plan by selecting our parents and our place of birth.
Taking the first step in God’s perfect plan for our life requires an understanding that we have a personal need for God to re-create us. This can occur as a child or as an adult. The process is also referred to by some as being born again. At the time we experience this new birth, we also receive the Holy Spirit, who lives inside of us. As believers we have the unique privilege of receiving direction for our life from the Holy Spirit as he speaks the words of the Father into our mind. Jesus said that this is a process that is as mysterious as the wind, and so it is by faith alone that we believe in the unseen and when we believe we begin to experience the mystery. But first, we must accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. We must invite him to come into our life. We must be born of water and then again born by the Spirit. …Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again. How can a man be born when he is old? …Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb to be born!” Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit….You must be born again.” John 3:5-7 NIV
God has had a plan for your life since the day you were conceived. This plan involves your faith, your family, your career, your finances, and your ministry. God has specific plans for you that include his love for you and you loving him in return. We begin to show God our love for him through our gratitude and our personal worship. After we have fallen in love with Jesus we should chose to live our life by being, doing, going, and playing according to his perfect plan for our life. God’s plan is the same for all humanity it is only the details of that plan that are custom made for each one of his masterpieces.
BeingIt is God’s plan that we be diligent in our work, be available for service, be responsible with our finances, and be there for our family.
Doing We are to do our best when we are at work, we are to do our ministry as well as we can while we work to accomplish God’s eternal purposes; we do our best to plan and manage our finances wisely. We are to do all we can to reach out in love to the needs of our family.
Going We are to go to work and perform our tasks with the mind set of being a dependable employer or employee, we go into our ministry as a humble servant, we go about managing our money with an openhanded spirit of gratitude and giving as we give back to God and to others, and we go about serving our family in selfless love.
Playing We are also created to play. We are to enjoy and play with our co-workers. We are to celebrate our ministry. We are to make time to play and enjoy life because this is necessary for our rest, relaxation and restoration. We are to enjoy and play with our family because this develops unity, love, respect, and makes happy memories.
God has also included in his plan space for us to rest. On the seventh day God rested and so must we. We are more productive when we take time to rest. There are also other times for relaxation and fun. Playtime makes us laugh, enjoy others, relax, and provides opportunity for restoration. Unfortunately, play also has a dark side. Too much play can cost too much time and too much money. Therefore, we must pass our recreation through the Holy Spirit and ask him to help us to play in a manner that is pleasing to God.
So why does the plan that God has specifically created for us often go south? My guess is because it is our plan, NOT his plan. The bumps in the road of our life are often there because of our disobedience and refusal to follow God’s plan. When we go about our life ignoring God we run the danger of stubbing our toe. When we fail to consult him before making a major decision we are going off, as they say, “Half-cocked”!
If you are not a believer you must realize that you do not have access to God’s plan for your life. Non-believers eyes are veiled from spiritual understanding. On the other hand, when one becomes a believer that person must open their eyes and hone in on God’s plan for their life through the direction of the Holy Spirit, because now, God will little by little reveal his plan for your life through the Spirit. When believers ignore the directives of the Spirit there will bumps in the road and personal failure. Seeking to know God’s will and hearing his voice requires that we set aside blocks of time in solitude without intrusion from the world around us. Sometimes we are simply not willing to do what is necessary in order to hear from God. Hearing the voice of God takes more than one visit to the beautiful garden of prayer! We must desire to know God’s plan for us and then we must seek him and ask for him to reveal his will to us.
The bumps in the road come when we choose to do it our way. In our work ethic and our career, if we are slackers we will fail. If we insist on having a career that makes us feel good or lets us do what we believe we are gifted to do, we often leave God out of the equation and do it our way without even consulting him. We often pursue our desire more than we pursue God. If achieving success in our career is measured as the world defines success, then we set our self up for future disappointment when we begin to experience an inner emptiness at the end of the road of so called success. It is at this point we cannot understand why what we wanted and desired has left us feeling so empty and unfulfilled after we have achieved our goal. At this point we again go off chasing the next thing that strikes our fancy as we look for fulfillment and what we believe to be happiness.
God’s plan for all of us includes our faith, family, career, finances, and ministry.
Failure in faith occurs when one rejects the call of God. This can be the greatest mistake anyone can make in this life. We are eternal beings and we will live forever. This life is NOT the end. Our choice to find and follow Jesus will result in eternal pleasures forever in the presence of the very one who made us, loved us, and gave his only Son so that we can be forgiven and restored to the fellowship with our Creator. However, rejection of this opportunity will result in eternal separation from your creator and all that is good for all of eternity.
Failure in family occurs when a family member becomes selfish and is not concerned how his actions and attitudes will affect other members of the family.
Failure in career occurs when we run ahead of God and do not consult him and our career choice does not agree with God’s choice for us. We may have some measure of success but it will never produce the joy that following God’s choice would bring. I have noticed that sometimes, when one gives their gifts and talents to God’s service, he often blesses that person by weaving their gifts and talents into a career. When people flip this scenario around they choose what they want and then ask God to bless their choice. This often results in failure.
Failure in finances comes when we mismanage our money and go in debt. This lifestyle fosters constant worry and stress! When we hold on to what little we have too tightly, we become selfish. When we refuse to trust God to be our provider we also sit ourselves up for failure. A lack of gratitude, a heart that covets, and a spirit of greediness will create a distance between us and our Lord. These are major bumps in the road that breeds discontentment with life and can even cause depression.
Failure in ministry occurs when we simply choose not to serve or we create our own ministry apart from God’s direction. It is important for Christians to understand that we will never have a ministry if we are not first of all available to God for his use. Busy people who hold God at a safe distance have no ministry. People with excuses have no ministry. People who think they have nothing to offer have no ministry. God slights no one. We must dig deep within ourselves to find where our loyalties lie because it may be here that our ministry is waiting to be discovered. Our thoughts from the Holy Spirit are designed to ignite desire and point out need. What are the things in this world that break our hearts? What new ministries would we like someone else to start? What triggers compassion within us? Answers to these important questions may be the key to discovering your God blessed ministry. Maybe you are the one God is calling.
Few people have extremely visible ministries. Most people have quiet behind the scene ministries that bring just as much glory to God as the more visible ministries do. This is true because God judges not on what we do or how much we do, but he judges our simple obedience one task at a time. All believers must be willing to minister as God chooses. God is the one who will choose where and when he needs us to use our gifts and talents. Other times God calls us to step completely out of our comfort zone and serve him. When we fail to step out in faith this is disobedience. Sometimes I wonder just how many blessings I have failed to receive by ignoring the voice of God.
If we are to walk a path in this life that succeeds we must consult our Maker. He knows us better than we know ourselves. He knows how he designed us, why he designed us the way he did, and how he plans to use us. He knows our strengths and he knows our weaknesses. He knows the number of our days and what the future holds. Our Maker knows the plans he has for us that will give us hope and a future.
Even when this fallen world surprises us with poor health, pain, suffering, loss of a loved one, or we become the brunt of sinful behavior, abuse, injustice or tragedy, God still has a plan for our life. That plan includes his love and comfort, inner peace and joy, eternal reward, and vengeance that belong to him alone. If we will embrace this truth and trust our Lord, then when we meet Jesus face to face, we will hear him say, “Well done, my good and faithful servant,” because we have chosen to trust him for all that enters our life. The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord…He makes his steps firm. Psalm 37:23 KJV It is the Lord that makes our steps firm even when the ground trembles below us. It is the Lord that directs our going and our coming, our starts and our stops. In God’s great design for our life he has made plans for our protection, our comfort, our refinement, and his glory.
The Lord brings specific people and opportunities into our lives. We must be alert and watch for his gifts. When the plan is long in coming together, remember that his delays are delays of love and our waiting on the Lord produces patience. Sometimes we hinder God’s plan by not being obedient to what he has asked us to do. Often our obedience reveals the next phase of God’s wonderful plan for our life.
Sometimes in this life we are privileged to witness God’s healing, restoration, and justice. But if it is God’s will to leave the suffering in our life I believe he will make it up to us in heaven. I also believe that there is never any disappointment in Jesus. In this life we often look back and see that his plans were best. But in eternity we will observe that all his plans were perfect. We will understand that the flaws God created within us were placed there to accomplish his purposes and the adversity that he allowed to enter our life he also used for our good. I am convinced that if we insist on knowing the answers to all the “whys” in life we will miss out on his joy and peace.

  1. What is the first step in allowing God to direct your life and reveal his plan for your life to you?
  2. Have you taken the first step? If not, why not do so right now. Tell Jesus that you want to partner with him and follow his lead as you move forward with your life.
  3. As a believer, what specific area of your life is causing you the most frustration?
  4. Have you considered that the bump in the road may be the result of you doing things your way instead of God’s way?
  5. Will you surrender your plans into the Lord’s hands for his direction?

Dear Lord.
In Proverbs 19:21 your word tells us, “Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the LORD’S purpose that prevails.” Father, forgive me when I rush ahead of you. I want to follow the plans you have for my life because I know that within your guidelines and plans I will find peace, joy, and contentment. “You hem me in – behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me.” Psalm 139:5 Lord I do not want to be an obstinate child, who is determine to  carry out my own plans instead of yours. I have experienced that when I pile repeated sin upon repeated sin there is nothing left but disappointment and failure. “I know, O Lord, that man’s life is not his own; it is not for man to direct his steps.” Jeremiah 10:23 Father, I pray that I would willingly surrender my plans into your Sovereign hands. Lord, I pray that you will direct my steps and lead me down your path because it is the only path that will give me hope and a future. Father, when my plans go south, help me to see that disappointment as an opportunity to re-evaluate my position before you. Am I leading or am I following?
It is in you name I pray. Amen.