How’s your life plan working out?


 

Rather than being the first person that God couldn’t use, 
we are just another one of the many, many people that He wouldn’t use, 
because we won’t let Him.

If you’d like to know why that’s the case –
please –
read on.

“But deep down inside, we know that something’s not going according to plan.
Why?
Because what we say we believe and what we actually experience in our lives are out of balance and simply don’t line up.”
     from “Waking Up: To Who You Really Are (If You Dare)” by Ted Dekker

Do you ever feel this way?

I do.

I used to think it was because I couldn’t figure out what God wanted for me.

Of course, that was after I stopped wondering why God was doing things to me.

More and more – as you hopefully can see from what I’ve been writing –
I have been coming to believe that the real problem with my plans and His plans – is me.

Every Christian probably (hopefully) knows of this event –

The Healing of a Boy With an Evil Spirit

9:14-28; 30-32 pp — Mt 17:14-19; 22, 23; Lk 9:37-45

Mk 9:14 When they came to the other disciples, they saw a large crowd around them and the teachers of the law arguing with them. 15 As soon as all the people saw Jesus, they were overwhelmed with wonder and ran to greet him.
Mk 9:16 “What are you arguing with them about?” he asked.
Mk 9:17 A man in the crowd answered, “Teacher, I brought you my son, who is possessed by a spirit that has robbed him of speech. 18 Whenever it seizes him, it throws him to the ground. He foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth and becomes rigid. I asked your disciples to drive out the spirit, but they could not.”
Mk 9:19 “O unbelieving generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy to me.”
Mk 9:20 So they brought him. When the spirit saw Jesus, it immediately threw the boy into a convulsion. He fell to the ground and rolled around, foaming at the mouth.
Mk 9:21 Jesus asked the boy’s father, “How long has he been like this?”
“From childhood,” he answered. 22 “It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”
Mk 9:23 “ ‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for him who believes.”
Mk 9:24 Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”

Let’s take out the “background” info and get down the the key points for what I’m talking abut –

  1. A man in the crowd answered, “ … I asked your disciples to drive out the spirit, but they could not.”
  2. “O unbelieving generation,”
  3. ” … if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”
  4. “ ‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for him who believes.”

Now – let’s translate those items into something more descriptive of us – today’s people – you and me.

  1. Someone reaches out the to the person (people?) who taught us how to be Christians – because they had asked us for help, but we were unable to do anything to solve the problem.
  2. Our teacher isn’t to pleased.  He / She is wondering if we’ll ever get it.
  3. The person now asks our teacher(s) if they will be able to help him with his problem.
  4. Now our teacher isn’t happy at all.  “IF I CAN?”  Of course the teacher can – because he / she believes.

It all looks pretty good – right up to item #4

When we get to #4 – the whole translation falls apart.
Because our teacher is a human being.  But not Jesus.

Where did we go wrong?

For some time now – I’ve felt like we’re – or more properly, at least I – am going wrong with the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit should be our teacher

Let’s look at when the people really had Jesus as their teacher – for instance –

The Wise and Foolish Builders

7:24-27 pp — Lk 6:47-49

Mt 7:24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”

Mt 7:28 When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, 29 because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law.

Take a close look at that last verse –

because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law.

Jesus was able to teach with an authority that the Jewish leaders – the human teachers of the law – were unable to reproduce.
After all – Jesus, while human, is also God.
That’s an advantage that no human will ever have.

However – that doesn’t mean we don’t have the chance to learn from someone who does have that authority.
Not at all.  We read this from John 14 =

Jesus Promises the Holy Spirit

Jn 14:15 “If you love me, you will obey what I command. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20 On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. 21 Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.”

Jn 14:22 Then Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said, “But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?”

Jn 14:23 Jesus replied, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. 24 He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.

Jn 14:25 “All this I have spoken while still with you. 26 But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

Jn 14:28 “You heard me say, ‘I am going away and I am coming back to you.’ If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. 29 I have told you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe. 30 I will not speak with you much longer, for the prince of this world is coming. He has no hold on me, 31 but the world must learn that I love the Father and that I do exactly what my Father has commanded me.
“Come now; let us leave.”

Here’s the key portion of this event –

Jn 14:25 “All this I have spoken while still with you. 26 But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

Jesus is leaving us the Holy Spirit.
The third person of God.
And the Holy Spirit will remind us of the things that Jesus said.
Further – the Holy Spirit will teach us all things.

So while we don’t have Jesus walking the earth anymore –
as Christians, we do have the Holy Spirit in each one of us.

And the Holy Spirit teaches with the same authority that Jesus did.
The authority of being part of God.
Again – an authority that no ordinary human will ever have.

I know the plans I have for you

We often talk about this verso from Jeremiah.

Jer 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

But how often do we read / think about it in context?

Jer 29:10 This is what the LORD says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my gracious promise to bring you back to this place. 11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”

The context is so important!

Without context – we look at just verse 11, and we think that if we follow God’s plan for us, then we will be prosperous and will not be harmed.

The problem is – it says something very different if we look at the full context!

If we look at the section from a logical point of view – it would be like this –

  • Jer 29:10 This is what the LORD says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my gracious promise to bring you back to this place.
  • 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”
  • 11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Looking at this from a more descriptive and logical view –

  1. After some period of time, God will reach out to us, as He promised He would.
  2. Then – after He reaches out – he will reach out to God – pray to Him for help – search for Him.
    When we do these things – He will find us – and take care of us.
  3. God is doing this – because He wants only good things for us.

It would work equally well in this order –

  1. God is going to do this – because He wants only good things for us.
  2. After some period of time, God will reach out to us, as He promised He would.
  3. Then – after He reaches out – he will reach out to God – pray to Him for help – search for Him.
    When we do these things – He will find us – and take care of us.

Do you see what’s going on?

We are in exile – removed from God.  We are supposed to be on our way back to Him when we first come to believe in Him / get baptized / grow in our faith.

God hears us – reaches out to us – gives us the Holy Spirit – to bring us back to Him.

He reaches out to us because He wants only good for us.

There’s a catch here though

Maybe two catches.

First – we have to want to reach out.  And we have to want to go back to God.  And we have to allow the Holy Spirit to work in us.  Otherwise, none of this happens.

Second – we have to really believe.  If we believe that things such as this stopped after the early church – stopped after the last Apostle died – then nothing’s going to happen.
If we think we’re too smart – to sophisticated – too modern to believe in the kinds of things the Bible talks about – then nothing’s going to happen.
If were too arrogant – nothing’s going to happen.

By arrogant – you may think I mean we think too much of ourselves.
And you’d be right.
Sort of.

I’m not thinking uf us believing we’re too “good” / “smart” for things like this.

No – I’m thinking arrogance the other way.
Like we’re too “bad / “evil” for God to be able to work in us.

Earlier today, I was thinking about adultery and murder.  Like when Jesus said these things –

Mt 5:27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ 28 But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

Mt 5:21 “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ 22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.”

We read these things, and look at it from the point of view of how bad it is to think certain things.
And that’s right.

But what about the other way?
What about the fact that – in spite of what the Catholic Church (maybe others?) say – murder is forgivable.  
Adultery is forgivable.

Literally anything – with one exception – according to the Bible, is forgivable.
Other than that one thing – anything we could possibly have done will be forgiven, if we ask.
So it’s not like we could be so bad that God would decide that His plan for us isn’t good.
Because He already knew what we’d choose to do – and He still had a good plan for us.

It’s not like God said, “I have a plan for you – except for the following 27 people – I haven’t got anything for them – because they’re just too awful.”

No – God said to all His people in exile – “I have a plan for you”.  No exception list for bad behavior.

BTW – if you’ve heard that this statement is only for Jeremiah and no one else, I’d like to point something out.  The Hebrew word for “you” in verse 11 is the same Hebrew word that’s used in verse 14 –

Jer 29:14 I will be found by you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”

There’s no way verse 14 was for only Jeremiah.  It refers to gathering “you” from “all the nations and places …”.  Clearly – that’s plural – unless Jeremiah was cut into many pieces and God’s going to put him back together again.

So –  what is that one thing – the unforgivable thing?

Mt 12:31 And so I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. 32 Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.

Speaking something against Jesus – that’s forgivable.
Speaking something against the Holy Spirit – that’s not forgivable.

Let’s take at look at two of the words in that quote –

blasphemy – 1 slander, detraction, speech injurious, to another’s good name. 2 impious and reproachful speech injurious to divine majesty.  Strong, J. (1995). Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon. Woodside Bible Fellowship.

speak — 1 to say, to speak. 1A affirm over, maintain. 1B to teach. 1C to exhort, advise, to command, direct. 1D to point out with words, intend, mean, mean to say. 1E to call by name, to call, name. 1F to speak out, speak of, mention.  Strong, J. (1995). Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon. Woodside Bible Fellowship.

The Holy Spirit is the object of the unforgivable sin.
We read the following from Paul, when he was writing about being what the NIV calls “Living as Children of Light” –

Eph 4:29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Paul warns us not to “grieve” the Holy Spirit.  Let’s see what that means –

grieve — 1 to make sorrowful. 2 to affect with sadness, cause grief, to throw into sorrow. 3 to grieve, offend. 4 to make one uneasy, cause him a scruple.  Strong, J. (1995). Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon. Woodside Bible Fellowship.

So now – what do we have?

In Matthew,  we read of The Great Commission – what Jesus wants us to do –

Mt 28:19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

If we are truly to do this – the Holy Spirit must be involved.  
To the extent that we do not allow the Holy Spirit to guide us and allow Him to work through us – we fail in fulfilling our part in the task of The Great Commission.
To the extent that we do that – I have to believe that would make both Jesus and the Holy Spirit, among other things, sad.  Grieved.

We are to be salt and light to others – including non-Christians.
To the extent that we do not allow the Holy Spirit to guide us and allow Him to work through is – we fail in those tasks as well.
To the extent that we do that – I have to believe that would make both Jesus and the Holy Spirit, among other things, sad.  Grieved.

Why our plan doesn’t match God’s plan

Now – let’s back up a bit.

To the extent that we don’t allow the Holy Spirit to guide us and work through us = we don’t turn back to God.
Therefore – we don’t fulfill one of the statements from Jeremiah.
Remember – God wants only good for us.  He did reach out to us – Jesus is obvious evidence of that.  So is the Holy Spirit.  
But, as I said – if we don’t allow the Holy Spirit to work through us – we haven’t called out to God.
And so His plans will not be ours.
His plan for us comes via the Holy Spirit.  But if we grieve / quench / speak / act against the Holy Spirit – we won’t know God’s plan for us.

Jesus the Way to the Father

Jesus had some really amazing words in John’s Gospel –

Jesus the Way to the Father

Jn 14:5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”
Jn 14:6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”
Jn 14:8 Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.”
Jn 14:9 Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. 11 Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves. 12 I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.

  • Philip, even though he had been with Jesus – didn’t understand.
  • If we have faith – if we believe – we will be able to do what Jesus did.
  • More than that – if we believe – we will do even greater things.

We say we believe.

But do we really believe those words above?

Jesus said them.  So we should believe them.

But do we?

In fact – there are churches – the organizations of denominations kind of churches – that actually teach that these things will not happen today.  

What does that say about the beliefs of our teachers?

What does that say about the authority that we give to our teachers – when we allow them to contradict what Jesus Himself said?

Should we believe the ordinary humans – who lay claim to a higher authority based on their position in an organization?

Or should we believe the words of God?

Are we (fill in your denomination – including evangelical or non-denominational) –
or are we Christians?

That should answer the question.

Does it?

Conclusion

Let’s bring it full circle now.
Remember I talked about arrogance a while ago.

God isn’t the problem here.
God isn’t the reason our path doesn’t line up with what He has in mind for us.
We are the problem.
We are the ones who are either afraid to believe Him – or who think we know better.
We are just too arrogant.

And sometimes – probably way too often – it’s for this reason –

Rather than being the first person that God couldn’t use, 
we are just another one of the many, many people that He wouldn’t use, 
because we won’t let Him.

As the man said –

I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!

I want to really / truly believe what Jesus said.

>I want to really / truly follow Him.

I want the Holy Spirit to really / truly guide my life.

Amen!

 

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