When the word plans comes to mind it tends to bring up two different feelings in me. Human plans and God’s plans. You plan right? You’ve got a plan right? At work they have a plan right? Your family has a plan right? Your friends have plans right? Your politicians have plans rights?
Some plans are specific to a category or topic: financial plans (make, save, give, …), travel plans (vacations, honeymoon, anniversary, …), daily plans (meetings, school, activities,…), weekend plans, family planning (number of kids, where you will live, what you will do…), company or work plans (expansion, sales, product development, …), church plans (service order, mission trips, outreach events, guest speakers, conferences, …), and so many more.
But where do you come up with the plans? What is the motivation for the plan? What is the purpose for the plan? What is the source of the plan? What is the driver for the plan?
On the other side I consider God’s plan and what God’s Word even says about our plans…
- Jeremiah 29:11 – 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.
- Proverbs 16:9 – The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.
- Jeremiah 29:11-14 – 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. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.
- Proverbs 19:21 – Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.
- Matthew 6:25-34 – “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. …
Ephesians 2:10 – For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
- Jeremiah 1:5 – “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”
1 John 5:4 – For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.
- Philippians 4:6-7 – Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
- Ephesians 2:8-9 – For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
Do you write down the plans? Do you consider how God helped you with those plans? Do you celebrate what He did and does with and through your plans? Will you trust God and give your plans up to Him? Will you work with God to come up with your plans? Will you allow Him to work in and through the plans? Will you allow Him without worry or fear to lead you and guide you?
When facing a decision point God’s Word came to me which helped me to consider what to do, it was:
“Where there is no counsel, the people fall; but in the multitude of counselors there is safety.” –from Proverbs 11:14
We weren’t supposed to do it all on our own! Turn to God! Turn to godly people around you! Consider the inputs in order to help you make good decisions!
Don’t be a manipulator!
How to Plan Your Life — Day 180: Bible In One Year 2017
Devotional, Proverbs 15:31-33, Proverbs 16:1-7, Acts 19:14-41, 1 Kings 22
Our plans … Proverbs 15:31-16:7
We do not always get it right (certainly I do not). But it is not wrong to make plans. Indeed, it is good to plan ahead. As has been pointed out, it wasn’t raining when Noah built the ark! The writer of Proverbs says, ‘To human beings belong the plans of the heart… Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed’ (16:1,3).
Here, we see the key to success. Your plans should never be made independently of the Lord. You are called into relationship with him. Your plans need to be aligned with his plans. Your vision and your plans need to be led by the Spirit. As you sense God’s leading, commit your plans to the Lord. Bring them to him. Lay them before him. Then God promises ‘your plans will succeed’ (v.3). What does it mean to commit to the Lord whatever you do?
One translation of the Hebrew word for commit is to ‘roll towards’. There are two ways to go through life. One is to decide that we are perfectly capable of running our own lives – without God. We make plans independently of God to please ourselves. This is the way of pride (v.5) and independence. The proud cannot be told anything because they think they already know.
The other is to be willing to lay aside your own desires. This is the way of faith and humility: ‘Humility comes before honour’ (15:33).
God has good plans for your life (Jeremiah 29:11; Romans 12:2; Ephesians 2:10). Cooperate humbly with him, being willing to give up everything that clashes with his purpose for you.
To commit your plans to the Lord means to speak to him about his plans – to make plans together with him. At the start of each day you can commit your plans to him. I find that holidays are a good time to plan ahead and commit the months, or even the year ahead, to God.
I remember hearing the actor David Suchet, when he had recently become a Christian, being asked on the radio whether there were certain roles he would turn down. He replied, ‘That is a very difficult question. All I can say is now when I am offered a part I go away and pray about it and if I feel it is wrong I turn it down, whereas before it would have been, “How much?”’
The Lord says, ‘Woe… to those who carry out plans that are not mine… Who go down to Egypt without consulting me’ (Isaiah 30:1–2a). To commit to the Lord means to consult him and discuss your plans with him and seek his wisdom and advice (Proverbs 15:33a). With major decisions a wise person will consult others to check that you have accurately heard from the Lord (vv.31–32).
Having committed your plans to the Lord you can trust his promise of success. God is sovereign over your plans. ‘Mortals make elaborate plans, but God has the last word’ (16:1, MSG). ‘In your heart you may plan your course, but the Lord determines your steps’ (v.9).
God gives you the freedom and responsibility to make plans. It is positively right for you to do this. And yet, God relates your decisions to your future. This is not a reason to be passive or fatalistic, but rather it is an encouragement that you can rest assured that God is in ultimate control of your life. You need not be frozen in a state of indecision.
You can trust that God will work out everything for good for those who love him (vv.6b,7; Romans 8:28).
Paul’s plans … Acts 19:14-41
Paul was a strategic thinker. He made careful plans. ‘After all this had happened, Paul decided to go to Jerusalem, passing through Macedonia and Achaia. “After I have been there,” he said, “I must visit Rome also.” He sent two of his helpers, Timothy and Erastus, to Macedonia, while he stayed in the province of Asia a little longer’ (vv.21–22).
Paul’s vision, mission and plans revolved around the evangelisation of the whole known world. His strategy focused on cities: Jerusalem, Rome, Corinth and Ephesus.
He spent a great deal of time in these cities preaching the gospel to as many people as possible, whether in the synagogues or in the lecture halls.
He was not unopposed. Interestingly, in Ephesus the opposition was not doctrinal or ethical but economic. Demetrius thought he might lose money as a result of Paul’s preaching. So he stirred up opposition (vv.24–29).
But God also had a plan. Another proverb for today tells us that, ‘The Lord works out everything for his own ends’ (Proverbs 16:4). In this instance, God worked through the city clerk (Acts 19:35). Even though he didn’t seem to believe in God (vv.35–36), his actions still stopped the riots. God often works through those who are not believers to achieve his plans.
God’s plans … 1 Kings 22:1-53
It is not a good idea to try and outwit God! This was Ahab’s problem. He tried to manipulate people and events in order to defeat God’s plans.
Jehoshaphat wisely told him that before going to war with Aram he should seek the Lord’s counsel: ‘Before you do anything, ask God for guidance’ (v.5, MSG). This is another example of the vital principle. If you want your plans to succeed you need to ask God for his guidance in making your plans.
The 400 ‘puppet’ prophets may have been state-employed parrots who simply did what they were paid to do – that is, say whatever the king wanted them to say.
However, Jehoshaphat knows that this is not genuine prophecy and asks, ‘Is there not a prophet of the Lord here whom we can enquire of?’ (v.7). The king replies, ‘There is still one through whom we can enquire of the Lord, but I hate him because he never prophesies anything good about me, but always bad. He is Micaiah son of Imlah’ (v.8).
Micaiah, who is a genuine prophet, speaks the word of the Lord to them. Whereas the 400 prophets put forward the popular view, Micaiah was the only one who in fact knew the mind of the Lord. We must not be swayed by popular opinion if it does not come from the Lord. The fact that we may be outnumbered is not conclusive.
Micaiah is courageous enough to speak the truth: ‘As surely as God lives, what God says, I’ll say’ (v.14, MSG). He warns them of the danger of going against God’s plans. For his troubles he is put in prison on nothing but bread and water (v.27).
Ahab is determined not to listen to the voice of God. He continues his manipulation. He thinks he can outwit God by disguising himself (v.30). But, as we have read, ‘The Lord works out everything for his own ends’ (Proverbs 16:4).
We see this principle at work as ‘someone drew his bow at random and hit the king of Israel between the sections of his armour… The king died… and dogs licked up his blood, as the word of the Lord had declared’ (1 Kings 22:34,37–38).