God's Plan

You Want Me To Do What?

“Now there was a believer in Damascus named Ananias. The Lord spoke to him in a vision, calling, “Ananias!” “Yes, Lord!” he replied.” Acts 9:10 (NLT)

Ananias was a Jesus follower. One day he was minding his own business sitting in his house and God spoke to him. When Ananias heard God call his name he replied with a “Yes, Lord!” The Lord then instructed him to go to help Saul.

Wait. What? Saul as in THE Saul that killed people who love you? The SAME Saul that was there when Stephen was stoned? The very Saul who has shouted threats against your people and is making it his life mission to go around killing us. That Saul?

Yes, that Saul.

Right at this point Ananias had a choice to make. He could take everything he knew about this guy and decide it’s too risky and obviously the Lord wouldn’t call him to do something so dangerous because God loved him and wouldn’t want him to put himself in such a risky position. Or, he could go.

Ananias must have really trusted God. Because in spite of the reality before him, in spite of knowing he could be arrested, thrown into prison and die, he went. He went because he trusted God. He went because he knew the Person behind the voice and he knew that no matter what was going to happen, God’s plan would be better. God’s purpose for his life would be fulfilled even in his death and that was what he lived for.

He got up, went to Saul, He laid his hands on him and prayed for him. He commissioned the man that would further the Christian faith like no other. Of course, he didn’t know all this at the time. Afterward, he went home and felt good that he did what God said (and he didn’t die.)

What about you? What is God asking you to do that you are afraid to do? Maybe, like Ananias, you should remember the God you know and follow his lead. Maybe there will be a kingdom impact beyond what seems humanly possible. You see, when we follow God and say “Yes, Lord!” the kingdom impact is always more than is humanly possible. It is God ordained.

He's Still King

John’s two disciples found Jesus and said to him, “John the Baptist sent us to ask, ‘Are you the Messiah we’ve been expecting, or should we keep looking for someone else?’” Luke 7:20 (NLT)

John was in prison. Can you imagine it? The prisons then were damp, dark cells in the bowels of some structure. While there, his disciples came to visit and told him of all the things Jesus was doing. Jesus was healing tons of people. He was casting out demons; he was raising people from the dead. Miraculous things.

John sent them to Jesus to ask him if he was really the Messiah. Wait. What?

John’s whole ministry was about declaring that Jesus was the Messiah. He said it over and over again. Early in his journey he saw Jesus coming and declared “Behold, the Lamb of God!” When he baptized him he saw the Holy Spirit descend on him. John knew Jesus was the Messiah.

So what happened? John knew his end was near. He knew he was going to be put to death. And I bet he was afraid. I wonder if as he sat in his cell and contemplated what was coming if he began to wonder why Jesus wasn’t helping him out of this. Do you think he reasoned that if Jesus was the Messiah, why didn’t he free him?. After all, John had served him faithfully all these years. Maybe the thought crossed his mind that Jesus was not the Messiah. After all, if he was, he could do something.

Ever happen to you? Have you ever been in the thick of it (whatever it is) and you have prayed and prayed and prayed. And no relief. No answer. It is so tempting to believe that if God were God he would fix the problem. Maybe he’s not. Satan loves to put that lie in our heads.

Jesus did answer John. He told John to look at everything that was happening; not just at his cell. Look broader. God is moving. Refocus and you will see it.

Jesus did not save John. There was a purpose and plan for John’s life. Jesus did not interfere with that. Even though John was beheaded, Jesus was still the Messiah. And he is still the Messiah today. No matter what your life looks like right now, Jesus is still King. He still died for you. He loves you. Even if you don’t get the answers to the prayers you are praying.

Ultimately It's Up To God

And may the Lord do what seems good to him. 1 Chronicles 19:13 (ESV)

David was King. The King from the Ammonites died so David sent a delegation to express his sympathies to the King’s son. His son, not trusting David, humiliated the delegation and sent them home. Afterward, he realized he made a mistake. I love how the ESV says it “When the Ammonites saw they had become a stench to David.” When the Ammonites realized they were stinky, they hired an army to fight for them. In response, David sent his might men and his army to fight.

Now David’s mighty men and his army had a great reputation. People from all around knew who they were. These were not ordinary men. As you read through the Bible, some extraordinary feats are listed. They were powerful.

David put Joab in charge. Joab realizes the odds are not in their favor and he puts together a plan. He tells everyone what to do, and then I love his next line.

And may the Lord do what seems good to him.

Some days, it feels like we are fighting a battle. It feels like the odds are against us. No matter how well we plan, the odds do not seem to be in our favor. We need to remember, just like Joab, that in the end it is up to God.

God is the tipping point. He is the One greater than everything we see. It’s His plans that get executed, not ours. Will He fight for us? Most definitely! But there will still be things that don’t work out the way we want them to…..and that’s OK. Because we know in the end that God is the One in control. And if He allows it, there is a purpose.

Like Joab, we need to plan. We need to do everything we can to succeed but after all that is said and done, we need to trust God in whatever the outcome.

Plans As Different As You Are

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11 (ESV)

We were sitting around in a circle sharing stories. This is a group that gets together every other week to talk about our journeys with God; sharing and encouraging each other. As each person took a turn to share their story, one woman shared an amazing answer to prayer. She had been struggling with a situation for a while and God finally answered. He finally showed up in a very powerful way.

I was really happy for her. She is my friend. But, there was a part of me that wondered why not me? Now, believe me, I know this is completely selfish. And I know that this is not an appropriate thought to have when your friend was blessed by an answer to prayer. I know I should stay quiet about the fact that I thought this....but, I think more of us think this kind of thing than we’d like to admit. So, shaking my head, I am admitting it.

That night as I laid in bed, I talked to God about it. First, I asked him to forgive me for thinking so selfishly but then I honestly asked him “Why? Why has it taken so long for you to answer my prayers?” Then, I felt inspired to tell him what prayers I would have him answer if I could choose anything at all. And to my surprise, as I lay there and thought about it, I didn’t ask for the things I thought I would. The things I had been focusing on that I thought I wanted answers to, those were not top of my list. I was whining about him not answering this one prayer but when asked to prioritize, that did not fall in the top five.

I went to sleep.

The next day as I talked some more with God about all this, I remembered. I remembered some amazing answered prayers that I’ve had in my recent past. There was an answer to prayer for a reconciliation that I was praying about for 15 years. There was the prayer that asked God to send someone so I could share Jesus. There was the reunion with my biological brothers. There are so many more and each one has been amazing. 

Then I remembered what God says in his Word. “For I know the plans I have for you.....” Your plans are not everyone else’s plans and their plans are not for you. My plans for you are uniquely individual and the answers to prayer are the same.

All I could do was bow my head and rejoice in a God who loves me so individually and in a way that is uniquely me. He knew what my heart wanted even when I didn’t.

Silencing Doubt

Joshua had given orders to the people, “Don’t shout. In fact, don’t even speak—not so much as a whisper until you hear me say, ‘Shout!’—then shout away!” Joshua 6:10 (MSG)

The people of Israel were camped outside the city of Jericho. The city was shut up tight because of the people of Israel. No one dared come in or out. They had heard about Israel’s God. This way, the residents of Jericho thought they were safe.

God told the people to march around the city once a day for six days. Do nothing. Just march. Say nothing. Just keep walking.

I wonder what they thought about this plan. There were a lot of people marching around the city. Do you think some of them wanted to complain because this seemed silly? Were there people who thought they had a better plan of attack? How about folks who knew all about fortified walls and were sure they could come up with something more effective?

What about us? When we are doing the same routine day in and day out with no end in sight, are we more apt to complain? Do we voice out loud the fact that God is not doing anything to change our current situation? Or do we keep walking? Do we trust that God has a plan and he is working that plan out even if we can’t see how it’s going to come together?

There are times, even when we want to do something different, we need to just keep walking. We need to trust that God’s plan is coming together. We may not see how he is going to bring the walls down, but one day we will. That’s when we get to shout!

Which Job?

With all this going for us, my dear, dear friends, stand your ground. And don’t hold back. Throw yourselves into the work of the Master, confident that nothing you do for him is a waste of time or effort. 1 Corinthians 15:58 (MSG)

I have two jobs. One is the job I do to make money and the other is the job God has called me to do. In the past, I would get frustrated because it was hard juggling these two things. I kept feeling that if I was doing the God thing, I wasn’t being committed to the pay thing. And visa versus. What I really want to do full-time is the God job but that is not what he is allowing (at least right now.)

The frustration kept bubbling around in my mind and honestly, it was derailing me so that I didn’t feel like I was doing anything well. Lately, God has been teaching me though. Can I share some of what I’m learning?

We all have two jobs. There is the thing you are doing each day as your “day job.” This could be working for a paycheck, being a stay-at-home mom, caring for elderly parents, etc. Then, we each have a call that God has put on our life. That call looks different for everyone and it is super specific to you. What I’m learning is there is usually a theme that runs through your day job and your call.

Usually, you are using the gifts you have been given by the Holy Spirit at both your “jobs.” You are just using them in different ways. And that’s OK because where ever you are and whatever you are doing is actually all for God.

I am learning that each day God places before me what he wants me to do. Some days that leans heavily toward my paying job. Some days it leans heavily toward my God job and some days it’s a complete mix. Instead of trying to make it look like I want it to, I am trying to let God lead. I am asking him to guide my day and make it what he wants.

Does it always look neat and tidy and predictable? Absolutely not. That’s probably what drives me nuts! But so far, I have not missed a deadline, I have not shirked on any major responsibilities (there are little things that don’t get done, I’ll be honest.) But most importantly, I feel that I am right where I need to be. I can let up on the striving. I can rest and let God be God and lead me where he wants.

One more thought, whatever God gives you to do today, do it with all your might. Every little thing we do should be for his glory.

How Big Is Your God?

It was by faith that Abraham offered Isaac as a sacrifice when God was testing him. Abraham, who had received God’s promises, was ready to sacrifice his only son, Isaac, even though God had told him, “Isaac is the son through whom your descendants will be counted.” Abraham reasoned that if Isaac died, God was able to bring him back to life again. Hebrews 11:17-19 (NLT)

What do you think went through Abraham’s mind when God directed him to sacrifice Isaac? God said, “Take your son, your only son—yes, Isaac, whom you love so much—and go to the land of Moriah. Go and sacrifice him as a burnt offering on one of the mountains, which I will show you.” (Genesis 22)

This wasn’t the same “Go” command that God gave him when he told him to “Go to a place I will show you.” This command was completely different. In this command, God seemed to be back stepping on everything that had happened to this point.

He had called Abraham to be the Father of a Nation and that Nation would come about through his son Isaac. How can he be the father of a Nation if Isaac was gone? How could his descendants be as numerous as the stars if there were no descendants?

God had worked miracles in the birth of Isaac. Abraham and Sarah were very old when Isaac was conceived. The fact that they conceived at all was a miracle. Why would God do that if he was going to take Isaac from him?

Abraham could have reasoned his way out of this situation. But he didn’t. He didn’t try to fit God into his scenario. Instead, he looked at his scenario in light of who God was.

The Bible says that Abraham reasoned that if Isaac died, God could raise him from the dead. He didn’t look at his chaotic circumstances and make a decision. He looked at God and made a decision. He knew who God was and what he was capable of. He trusted that above all else.

Let me ask you. Are you more likely to try to fit God into what is happening in your life or are you more likely to plan your life based on what you believe about God?

Obeying In My Corner

I said, “Here I am. Send me.” Isaiah 6:8 (NLT)

Have you ever read Isaiah 6? Isaiah comes face to face with God’s glory. He’s caught up in the praise and worship and responds by surrendering to God when God says “Who will go?” Have you ever done this? Been so moved by the awesomeness of God, so infected with his love that you tell him you’ll go anywhere or do anything. Send me! Send me! I’ve asked God to send me. I am sure you have too!

BUT

When God asks us to go talk to our neighbor, we offer excuses. “God, I don’t know them. I’m not good with strangers. I don’t want to intrude.”

When God tells us to go visit someone in the hospital, we say things like “God, I’m not good with sick people. They might not want visitors. They might want privacy.”

When God says go spend time with your friend today, we think of all the things we have scheduled and how long it will take us and we opt not to be sent.

If we won’t follow his leading in our community, how do we expect to be willing to “be sent” on bigger missions? If we won’t walk next door, how will we move to another state or another job?

I really, really want God to send me. I want to be on mission for him. But I am coming to realize that first I need to surrender to what he has for me to do today. When he says go, I need to go. No excuses.

My mission needs to start in my own little corner of the world. It needs to start by obeying God wherever and however he sends me. Each and every day.