God's hand has been involved in the sad things, the sinful things that have happened in your life that have led you to this point.
Understand that God was working through all of it to bring you to where you're at right now. This is the Truth Pulpit with Don Green, founding pastor of Truth Community Church in Cincinnati, Ohio, where Don teaches God's people God's Word. I'm Bill Wright. You've heard it said that those who fail to plan, plan to fail. But as Christians, we should reword that saying to those who plan without taking God's will into account, plan in vain. Today, Don begins a message called a Plan for Life. And Don, what should listeners expect to learn today? Friend, as you listen to our program today, I encourage you to contrast what you're about to hear with the frivolity and the silliness that you find in the world.
Be mindful of this one thing. God has given you one life to live, and He calls you to live that one life to His glory. It's a noble call.
It's a joyful call. And as you hear today's program, think about moving forward in life with a sense of meaning and confidence as you depend on the Lord and you commit yourself to living to the glory of Christ in the days to come. Thanks, Don. And friend, we'll be in Proverbs 16, so turn there in your Bible as we join Don Green now in the Truth Pulpit. What we have to talk about here really hits us all right where we live, whether you have regrets over past, failed relationships, concerns about the future. You know, I talk with people who are very concerned about taking care of their health and all of that and different aspects of planning for the future. And all of that has around it, there is a common thread that is woven through all of those things that we're addressing that are common to each one of us, that each one of us feels the weight of.
Unexpected events come. The common thread through all of this is taking our understanding of what the Bible teaches about the sovereignty of God and placing it and applying that to the details of our life, both great and small. This goes to the very, very heart of living a productive, wise, fruitful Christian life is to be able to do this and to be able to understand these things and to apply them properly to your life. You know, the Bible says in Proverbs 21, verse 1, for example, that the heart of kings is in the hand of the Lord.
He directs them wherever he wishes. The Bible teaches us that the very hairs on your head are numbered, that a sparrow doesn't fall to the ground or a deer alongside the interstate. God's hand is in everything that happens. He's in every detail of life, both great and small, the numbers of hairs on your head, the intervention of life and death issues in your life. Every aspect of it is involved with the sovereignty of God. Nothing escapes his sight.
Nothing escapes his direct care for us. And let me say this, and I say this sympathetically. I have to say this over and over again so that you never lose sight of it. This is always to build you up. And sometimes the Word, as the Word helps us, it rebukes us.
It exposes defective thinking, a lack of faith perhaps in our thinking. But even when the Word rebukes us, it has done so to build us up, to edify us and to encourage us. And so what we're going to look at is designed for your blessing from beginning to end and to give you a sense of confidence about the future and the ability to be able to see the direction by which you can put the past to rest and not be tortured by the things that have tortured you in the past. All of this comes under the wise counsel of God that is shown to us in the book of Proverbs. And I would invite you to turn to Proverbs chapter 16 for our message. It is always remarkable to come across a single verse of Scripture that unlocks the key to life. Not every verse of Scripture can be said to do that, but this is a verse that, properly understood, points us in a direction that helps us understand the nature of the Christian life, that gives you the capacity to live with a sense of resolution with the past and confidence about the future. And it takes all of the pressure off as you contemplate those things.
Look, I get it. Except for people that are just really, you know, narcissistic and just really wrapped up in themselves in the pursuit of pleasure, I understand that you take life seriously. Life matters to you. You want to live it well. You want to honor the Lord as a Christian with what you do. Here in this verse, it gives us the mindset by which we can do that. It's Proverbs 16 verse 9. It won't take me long to read it.
It's about 13 words in the English text. Proverbs 16 verse 9 says, The mind of man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps. What I want to look at here from this verse is to consider the whole nature of planning in the Christian life, how we approach life, how do we think about it, how do we prepare for the future, and also, as we do that, to be able to cast a look back with you at your past experience in life and be able to give you a means of understanding that and interpreting it in a way that will give you, as you meditate on these things, a settled sense of resolution and confidence that God's hand has been involved in all of it, even the sad things, even the sinful things that have happened in your life that have led you to this point, understand that God was working through all of it to bring you to where you're at right now.
There has not been a mistake in the overall sovereign plan of God. That's not to excuse our sin, but God overrules even our sin to accomplish His purposes. And so when we understand that as a believer in Christ, as we understand that Christ has come and reconciled us to a Holy Father and that He intends to bring us to heaven with Him, we realize that God's hand, His direction, has been involved at every step of the process. And when you understand that, when you take that to heart and realize that this is more than an academic truth that we're discussing here, you look back and you say, that particular regret, that thing that I still grieve over, somehow I must view this through the lens of the sovereignty of God, of His personal direction of my life. And therefore, therefore, that which caused me grief, which has still been a burden on my mind, I look at and say, there's an unseen dimension to this. There is an unseen element to this that has to affect the way that I think about it.
There's an unseen element that somehow the good, wise, sovereign hand of God was leading me even through that. And for those of you that are on the brink of life change, this gives you the greatest confidence as you step forward, as you make those changes in your life. This first provides for you the greatest confidence of the certainty of God's blessing as you move forward, even if it comes out different than what you expect.
This is wonderful truth. This takes the pressure off of your mind. This minimizes, this mitigates regret. This gives you confidence as you go forward.
This is what we need to hear today. And so we're going to talk about planning and see where that takes us. And I'm going to use the word plan today with the following sense, okay?
I like to define terms when we're together just so that we're all on the same page. The word plan, P-L-A-N. When you plan, you're doing this. You're using your mind to develop a proposed course of action with the means that you have at your disposal to achieve a result that you value. You plan.
I'll say it again. You plan when you use your mind to develop a proposed course of action with the means that you have at your disposal to achieve a result that you value. Now, in a very simple sense, in a common sense, everyday manner, we all plan to one degree or another.
I understand that. You make a task list for the day ahead. I'm going to plan out what I want to get done today. I've got a plan, one, two, three, that I'm going to follow.
Some people do that. You want your car to run well, so you follow a maintenance plan and you maintain it at regular intervals because you value the fact of having a long-term vehicle that is reliable, and so you take care of what you spent your money on so that it will serve you well into the future. The maintenance isn't necessarily necessary right today, but you understand that there's a cumulative impact, and so you plan and you take care of things because you're taking the future into account as you live life today.
Now, that's very simple and basic so far. There are elements of professing Christianity that believe that planning is inconsistent with trusting God. There are Christians who would tell you that you shouldn't have life insurance because you're not trusting God. I don't agree with that at all.
I think that's foolish thinking to make a blanket statement like that. And I want you to see today that there is a role for planning in the Christian life, and as you think about planning and what it means and what the Bible says about planning, it opens up your mind to these whole other issues that we're talking about, about the way we view the past and the way that we view the future. To understand this is to understand the whole nature of Christian life and how we live it here today.
So I'm going to give you three points here to think about. The first point here today is this, is that as you're thinking about your life, whether it's thinking about today or thinking about the longer-term future, according to the Scriptures, point number one, you should certainly plan. You should certainly plan. You should have a course of action in mind and not simply be a passive responder to every circumstance in life.
You should take the reins in your hands and start to direct the carriage in the direction that it's going. You should certainly plan. You should certainly plan. Look at Proverbs chapter 6. I want you to see that the Bible commends diligent planning.
The Bible commends diligent planning and promises blessing on those who do it. Proverbs chapter 6, verse 6. Go to the ant, O sluggard.
Observe her ways and be wise. So he's speaking to a lazy person and humbles him with his instruction. Go look at this insect. Go to the ant, O sluggard. Observe her ways and be wise, which, having no chief, officer or ruler, prepares her food in the summer and gathers her provision in the harvest. Solomon says, look at what an insect does to care for life. When the provision is there in the summer, she gathers it up and preserves it so that it's available when food isn't as readily available in the fall. An insect does that and experiences blessing and preserves life for itself and for its colony by those simple planning actions.
And it's obvious that that's the right thing to do. Solomon goes to a human being made in the image of God guilty of the sin of laziness and says that's what you need to be like. And so for all of the sophisticated things that we like to commend ourselves for, Solomon takes us back and humbles us and says, look at an ant and get a view of how you should approach life. Now, turn over to Proverbs 21, verse 5. You'll see it in just a more didactic sense. And these things that we see here in verse 5 really shape the whole nature of your character.
It shapes the whole way that you think about life, and it preserves you from making foolish decisions in an impulsive reaction to adverse circumstances. This is the most common mistake I believe that people make in the Christian life is they make hasty decisions when adverse circumstances come, something happens that they don't like, and they change the whole direction of their life on an impulse, on a whim, without due consideration and simply because they find themselves suddenly in circumstances that they don't like. Well, we have to rise above that, beloved. It's not that we don't make plans and change our life. If that was the case, I'd still be in California rather than the pastor here.
But look at chapter 21, verse 5. The plans of the diligent lead surely to advantage, but everyone who is hasty comes surely to poverty. Hasty decisions are the bane of Christian living. Planning, the Bible says, leads to advantage.
Impulsive behavior leads to poverty. And the wonderful thing about this, the thing that you have to do to really appreciate this, is you have to step back and look at it from a big perspective because the consequences of hasty behavior aren't immediately evident. And people love to baptize their hasty, impulsive behavior with statements like, well, I think the Lord's leading me to do this.
Well, what makes you think that? What makes you think that the Lord would suddenly call you to the other side of the world when you've never given a thought to that, and then you would be making plans to do that instantly in response to some disappointment in your life. That's not the Lord's leading. That's you being foolish. That's you being hasty and not really taking into account the biblical merit, the biblical mandate of planning. God has woven this into the moral order of the universe as a principle to be honored.
And we can see this real simply. Consider a simple example, hypothetical example. You've got two men with the same job, same family, same basic expenses. One man orders his life, plans his life, plans his finances, and saves money at the rate of $200 a month. That's not much money, I understand.
But he orders it, and he's disciplined in that direction. You've got another man who's hasty, impulsive with his decisions, does a lot of things that are beyond his means, and he's spending at a debt rate of $1,000 a month. Initially, the hasty man has the appearance of external prosperity, enjoying life more. But check back in five years. Check back in ten years and see where the outcome of that approach to life leads. See, you can't measure it by the instant things that happen.
You have to evaluate what produces the best long-term result. You have to think. And for all of the way that we take life seriously, we also have to approach life with wisdom and to realize that God has established a creation that is very ordered. Just look at the circulation of the planets and the galaxies around us and you'll see the precision of His order. And realize that while we don't have complete control over what we do, that we approach life with an orderly sense in order to honor the One who made creation in an ordered fashion. You see, beloved, the wise man not only plans his finances, the wise man thinks through life. He plans life. He thinks ahead.
And see, here's the ultimate way to plan your life. The wise man, the biblical thinker, is going to approach things with this in mind. The wise man is going to plan his life with this in mind. You look ahead and you realize that coming ahead for your life is the certainty that one day you're going to give an account to God. You're going to stand in His presence as a believer in Christ. You're going to stand before the judgment seat of Christ. And he's going to reward you based on how you've lived your life. For the unbeliever, it's going to be before the great white throne and the certainty of eternal judgment. See, the wise person thinks ahead to that certain coming event that is more certain than what you will have for lunch today. He looks ahead to that event and says, Oh, I need to order my life so that that day, that event, that time in the presence of God goes well, as well as it can be.
How can I do that? Well, let me start by seeing what he says in his Word. You devote your life to things of eternal significance now because you value the good result of a good outcome in the presence of God in the future. And so you order life that way. You order life around godly priorities rather than the simple pursuit of your fleshly desires. Moses spoke to this in Psalm 90, verse 12.
If you're taking notes, you can just jot that reference down and look it up later. Moses said, Teach us to number our days so that we may present to you a heart of wisdom. Lord, he says, my life is brief and it's going to be over in a flash before I know it. Help me to take account of the brevity of life as I live it so that I would use these brief passing days in a productive way that reflects the wisdom that you've shown us in your Word. Teach us to number our days. You see, beloved, this is what we have to do. This is how we have to think. We have to step back and say, Oh, life is brief.
Oh, life goes by quickly. And God is going to hold me accountable for how I live my life. Therefore, I want to live it in a way that is honoring to Him.
And that has the effect of excluding a whole lot of life options from your consideration. It leaves out, it pushes out all manner of sinful living and narrows you down to the path that is revealed in the Scriptures. Just being conscious, just being conscious of coming judgment has a sanctifying effect upon you. And if you've never taken into account the reality of coming judgment in the way that you approach life, today's a great day to start. Look, you know, that day of accountability that is all coming for us, we're not going to be able to stand before that together. There's going to be individual accountability. We're going to go through a turnstile, as it were, and collectively we're not going to be able to stand and support each other through it. We're going to be individually accountable to Christ for the way that we've lived our lives. And our time together to help each other through the life now, we take advantage of that, but one day it's not going to be, you know, there's not going to be anyone there.
It's going to be you in the presence of a holy Christ. And so take that into account, beloved. If you've been clinging to sin in your life, if you're conscious of anger and bitterness that you've been holding on to because of past relationships or whatever, this is the time to deal with that and straighten it out. It's a good time to apply the principle of biblical forgiveness in relationships, for example, because all of that is laid open and bare before our holy God with whom we have to do. Teach us to number our days so that we may present to you a heart of wisdom. Godly Christians plan their approach to life because God commands and commends planning in His Word. Now, secondly, you should plan confidently. You not only plan certainly, but you should plan confidently.
And I love this point. This goes into the settled peace that is available to every true Christian. Turn back to Proverbs chapter 3. We're sort of keeping ourselves anchored in Proverbs, although there's a lot of other places we could go for these things. Proverbs chapter 3, verse 5. We've been awakened to the need for planning through thinking through life, approaching it, taking it seriously, using our minds to plan both our days and our future.
And now we see that we do this with confidence. Chapter 3, verse 5. Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding.
Watch this in verse 6. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your path straight. As you are planning, as you are trusting, the Scriptures say that the Lord is going to direct your paths and make them straight. He's going to open up the future to you in a way that displays His blessing in your life. He will make your paths straight. That is the confidence that we have.
Now, this gets really personal really quickly. For those of you that are prone to anxiety, fear, uncertainty, what if this, what if that, need to do this so that that doesn't happen. And it's a burden to bear. What Proverbs and the whole tenor of Scripture teaches to us that know Christ is this. True Christians should plan their future with a serene confidence that the future will bring good to them even though that future is uncertain. Let me state that as a personal second person statement rather than in the third person. If you're a Christian here today, you should increasingly look to the future with a sense of serenity, with a sense of confidence that God is going to be good to you no matter what happens.
God is good all the time no matter the circumstances. As you've been reminded today on The Truth Pulpit. Don will have the second part of this message titled A Plan for Life next time and we hope you'll join us then. Well, you know there's so much to see and learn at our website thetruthpulpit.com.
There you'll find free podcasts and so much more. And you'll get a sense of the heartbeat of this ministry. Don, how would you summarize your calling and mission? Well Bill, my whole life is really driven by a single thought. And that thought is that one day I am going to stand before Christ and see him face to face.
It's exhilarating and it's sobering at the same time. When I see him I want to hear Christ say, Well done thou good and faithful servant. That's the only thing that really ultimately matters to me in life. And you know over the years God has directed my life in ways that I didn't understand or sometimes sad. But now I have a season in life to preach his word. And my duty and privilege are to press on toward the goal of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. I hope that's your perspective on life too. Whatever it is that God has given you to do. Thanks Don. And friend again do visit us at thetruthpulpit.com. I'm Bill Wright inviting you to join us next time as Don Green continues teaching God's people God's word from The Truth Pulpit.
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