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A Plan for Life #2

The Truth Pulpit / Don Green
The Truth Network Radio
October 17, 2022 8:00 am

A Plan for Life #2

The Truth Pulpit / Don Green

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October 17, 2022 8:00 am

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We're open to change because God is the one who is directing our path. He is the one who is making our path straight.

How much can you actually plan for? We're not even guaranteed tomorrow, much less many years. Well, as you'll learn from Pastor Don Green today on the Truth Pulpit, if you plan according to biblical precepts, you'll be on a sure path. Hello there, I'm Bill Wright, and we're so glad you're here. And Don, last time you began a message called A Plan for Life, and today you'll be wrapping it up.

So let's see if I have this right. If we plan according to God's Word, we won't ultimately be disappointed. Beloved, perspective is everything. We have to expect sorrow and disappointment in this sinful world. Scripture says that man is born for trouble as the sparks fly upward. And in my life, I've certainly known times of deep sorrow.

If you're in one of those times as you hear our program today, I want you to know I sympathize with where you're coming from. Just remember that your hope is in the future. Christ is preparing a place for those who know him. He will come again. And you can trust God's Word that when you see Christ, it'll be worth it all. Let that hope give you encouragement to move forward today.

Thanks Don. And friend, let's go back to Proverbs 16, as Don Green continues in his ministry of teaching God's people God's Word on the Truth Pulpit. Romans 8, 28. For God causes all things to work together for good to those who love him and are called according to his purpose.

Now look, I want to say this gently, but I want to say it directly. Do you believe that or not? Do you believe that or not? Do you believe that God is good to his people or not? If you belong to him, then make a personal application to your own life and to your own life circumstances right now. That says, oh, God is always good to his people in every aspect of life. And though the future is uncertain, whatever comes to me in the future is going to be a dispensation of the goodness and sovereign control of God directing my circumstances in order to bring me blessing in the end. That is the way every Christian should think about the future. That is the way, beloved, that you should think about the future. And if you are one that is prone to anxiety and wracked by the doubts about what's going to happen in the future, you need to bring your mind here and anchor it there and keep it there until you start to see a turning of your heart in this matter. Let's tie this back in with planning.

And the whole point of this is what I'm about to say. When we talk about planning, it's easy to plan with a sense from a defensive posture, a sense of fear that says, I've got to plan things out so that bad things don't come. I've got to plan and account for all of the contingencies and exclude them so that the bad things don't happen to me. Look, that's not why we plan at all. That is not Christian thinking at all.

It's okay to account for things and protect yourself. What I'm talking about is the fundamental way that you think about the future and the way that you think about the uncertain nature of what will happen to you in the days to come. We plan not from a perspective of fear that if I don't, bad things are going to happen to me. We plan because we understand the Word of God. We plan because we understand that God has promised blessing on those who take an intelligent approach to life. We plan because God has called for planning in his moral order. And so, out of obedience to that, out of a response of trust to that, we say, okay, I'm going to plan my life, I'm going to plan this day the best way that I can, not because I'm afraid of what will happen if I don't, but because this is what God has called for. As I look to the future, there's something other—oh, this is so very important— there is something other than my plans that I am resting in that produces confidence in me.

I'm not confident about what the future brings at all because of my plans. I'm confident because my great and holy and good God controls the future down to the hairs on my head, and he has promised to do good to me, and that's why I'm confident. That's why I trust.

That's why I am unafraid. It's because I know who God is. I believe what the Scripture says about his sovereign control over all things. I believe and I trust that he intends good for me no matter what. And so I rest, and so I'm confident, and so I'm unafraid, you say to yourself.

You see, that changes everything. And going back to hasty, impulsive responses, think with me here, because it's really important for us to understand this. Hasty, impulsive decisions are made because people fear the future in large part. They want to escape the present and hopefully find a better way for the future, but they're trying to overly manipulate their present circumstances in order to account for what they want to happen. Look, we don't live life that way, not in a hasty, impulsive way. We don't have to be hasty, beloved. We don't have to be impulsive because we truly believe the sovereignty of God applies even to the individual circumstances of our life, and we rest in that. You see, if you believe it, then it changes life. It lets you calmly put one foot in front of the other as you go forward. This changes everything.

This changes the way that you make decisions about life. And so, as we look to the future, we're confident. We're confident, and we're unafraid. And therefore, we live life from a position of courage and strength, not from fear and weakness.

That's why Christians can be men. That's why Christians can look at, over the course of history, martyrdom in the face and be unafraid and be unflinching in the midst of it. Confident. And it's better to live in confidence than in fear, right?

I mean, just given a choice, wouldn't you rather live confidently rather than fearfully? Well, why don't we just do that together and individually? Let's just do that. Let's just live this way and enjoy life together.

I'd like that. Now, I said that you should certainly plan, because God's woven planning into the moral order of the universe. This is what He calls us to do. We're not indifferent. We're not careless about the future. We plan. We plan confidently, because we know that God's going to direct everything to accomplish good for His people.

We're not afraid. And so we plan with confidence. But point number three is just as important. As you're thinking through biblical principles in life, when you get to these real foundational things, when you start to see, oh, there's a balance in consideration here. When you start to see the principles of balance, you know you're on the right track. And here's the balance in what we've said that brings us to point number three.

It's this. It's that you should plan dependently. You should plan dependently. Some of you look back on unfulfilled plans and disappointed dreams. Some of you look to the future, and your plans are on track. You're young, and things are going right, and it's good. Late in life, things can't be changed.

Young and aspirations just on the horizon. No matter where you're at on that perspective, you need to heed this passage carefully. You need to take it to heart.

And I'll try my best to help you do that. Let's look at Proverbs 16, verse 9 again. Proverbs 16, verse 9.

I want you to have the actual text in front of you as we talk through these things. Proverbs 16, verse 9. The mind of man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.

Proverbs 16, verse 9 teaches us this. Your plans for life are not the last word on what happens. You can plan it out to the greatest detail, but you can't guarantee the results. You don't know what's going to happen.

Mark these words here. All of your plans, every last one of them, are subject to change as the Lord takes them in a different direction. This is just an outworking of the overall principle of the sovereignty of God. You're not sovereign over the direction of your life. You can't dictate with certainty the outcome. All of our plans are subject to change as the Lord takes them in a different direction. The Lord, we plan on the front end. We look back on the back end and say, Oh, the Lord directed my steps this way. That wasn't what I planned at all. But you know what?

It was good anyway. Look at Proverbs 19, verse 21. Proverbs 19, verse 21. Many plans are in a man's heart, but the counsel of the Lord will stand. We plan a lot of different things, but it's God working out His purposes that is going to be established. It's God working out His purposes that will stand the test of time. The most instructive biblical passage on this point is James chapter 4, verse 13. Turn into the New Testament to James chapter 4, just after the book of Hebrews.

James chapter 4, verse 13. Come now, you who say, today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city and spend a year there and engage in profit and make a profit. Okay, we're going to go to such a city tomorrow. I'm going to spend a year there. We're going to engage in business and we're going to make a profit.

He's got it all planned out. Verse 14, here's the caution. Here's the biblical counter to that mindset. Yet, you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow.

You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. It says, how can you speak, watch this, how can you speak with such certainty about the future when you don't know what your life is going to be like tomorrow? We see it on the news every day. We just think it will never happen to us. Sudden intervention of catastrophe, of crisis, of death.

It intervenes when you least expect it. So, he's rebuking this false sense of confidence that says, here's what the outcome will be. He says, you can't speak that way, you don't know.

You little vapor, you little puff of steam, you little puff of smoke and you're gone. Who are you to speak with such certainty about the future? Verse 15, instead, you ought to say, if the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.

Now, James is talking about something a lot more fundamental, a lot more important than simply mouthing the words, if the Lord wills. He's talking about your whole attitude toward your approach to the future. When you've made your plans, you step back and say, I can't guarantee the outcome. I don't know for certain how all of this is going to come out. If the Lord wills, there's the dependence. If the Lord blesses what we're talking about, then it will come out this way. But there's always this room in your mind, there's always this margin in your thinking that God may direct it in a different direction.

And if He does... You see, beloved, through the force of His unseen providence, God determines the results of your plans in a realm that you cannot control. When we lived in California, we used to go to the beach a lot. We had to be careful because sometimes there were riptides under the surface that would pull people out to sea, even though on the surface you couldn't see what was happening. And so you had to be careful, you had to watch, you had to be careful lest the ocean would take you in a different direction. On the surface, things looked fine, but there were unseen forces at work.

That's kind of a negative example of unseen forces, but you get the point. As we live out life and as we go through seeing what we see, making our plans and living our life, understand this, beloved. There is a divine current in world history. There is a divine current in your personal history that is directing things where God wants it to go. And that current is strong, it is powerful, it is good, it is certain, and that current is going to take you where God intends it to go.

And sometimes that current will take your plans as you're going this way and will come along and move them someplace else. God is so sovereign that He even rules our plans, overrules our plans, He directs our plans to accomplish His purposes. Your planning is simply an instrument of divine providence. Now, let's work out what this means for us. That means that you plan with confidence because God promises to bless prudent planning.

You also plan with dependence, knowing that God has the final say. Here's what this means. What it means is that as Christians, as those who believe in the sovereign goodness of God, it means that we, you and I, are open to change as life unfolds. Unpleasant change and pleasant change. Sad change and happy change. We're open to change because God is the one who is directing our path.

He is the one who is making our path straight. And that changes the way that you receive a bad report from the doctor. It changes the way that you receive a bad phone call at night. It deepens your gladness and joy when unexpected blessing falls into your lap. You look at it all and step back and say, this is the direction of God in my life. Christians know that they're supposed to say, I trust God.

You know that if you've been around at all. The mere environment of being in a church week by week would make it unthinkable for someone to openly say, I don't trust God here. And so it's verbalized in different ways.

But I want to help you on this very specific point here. When we say we trust God, so very often people are saying that. They've made plans and I'm trusting God that my plan will come out the way that I want it to do. I'm trusting God that my child will come to Christ. Or I'm trusting God that there will be financial blessing here or whatever the case may be. And that's okay as far as it goes, but that's really not what it means to trust God at all. That's no different than somebody saying, I want life to go my way.

I want it to come out like I do and I'm sure God will work that out. But that's not really trusting God. That's just an expression of saying, I want life to go like I want it to. Here's what trusting God means. Here's what it means to be dependent on the Lord as you plan. You trust God not that your specific plans will come out the way that you want them to. That may or may not happen.

That's the whole point of James. It may not come out the way that you plan it to be. And those of you that have some gray hairs on your head like I do, understand and you've got a track record of experience like that. And so life teaches you not to talk that way sooner or later if you think about it. No, you're not trusting God that your specific goals will come to pass. Here's what you're trusting God for. You're trusting God that whatever comes to pass will be coming to you filtered through His good hand and intended for your blessing. Whatever comes to pass will be from His good hand, and even if it differs dramatically from what you had planned or wanted. See, that's really trusting God.

That's saying, I'll let go of the future. I won't grasp and cling to what I want so much that when God brings something differently, He'll say, I turn into a defiant, sullen, depressed individual. In contrast, change came and you say, wow, this is what the Bible told me to expect.

Made my plans, the Lord took them a different direction. And you go one step further and say, I'm okay with that because I know that God is directing my steps. I know, even though I can't see it, even though I don't understand it, even though I wouldn't have chosen this, even though right now I don't really like this, I know that a wise, sovereign, good Father brings into my life exactly what is good for me at exactly the right time, and I trust Him for that, and therefore I submit to that. In the midst of this change, you say to yourself, you say to your loved ones, I trust Him. I'm confident.

I don't understand. I didn't see this coming, but I trust Him. And these spiritual realities have far-reaching consequences for how you react to life. If you're in a position of life where substantially what you have planned has come to pass and you're happy about that, humble yourself under the hand of God and realize that it was not your wisdom that made that happen. It was the blessing of God. He took your planning and He blessed it, and you are enjoying the fruit of His blessing, and your plans were just an instrument in the hand of God to bless you.

And you humble yourself. You bow before Him and you say, dear God, you've given me what I asked for. Dear God, I thank you for that. Not everybody gets to experience a blessing like this, Lord. Not everybody gets to have life go the way they want it to do, but you've given that to me even though I'm no better than the man sitting next to me. You've given that to me. God, I just thank you for that. I'm so grateful because this has been an expression of your will and your goodness in my life. Success has not come from my strength, oh God. Our family hasn't come out well.

My career hasn't come out well. Because of me, it's because you've been good. I thank you for that, and I disclaim any credit for that. And so this leads you to humility in the midst of blessing.

Now mark this. Changed circumstances are not an indication that God's grace has failed you. Changed circumstances do not necessarily mean that you've done anything wrong.

Understand this. When God changes your circumstances, oh, mark this. Write this down and inscribe it in the tablet of your heart. Changed circumstances are the means of God's grace to you, not that He's withdrawn His grace from you.

That is the only way that it could ever be because God is good to His people all the time, no matter what. And so, mindful of these things, we make room in our thinking for tragedy to occur. We make room in our thinking for profound sadness to occur. We're living in a fallen world. This is not the life that we're living for. And we understand that although these things can happen in general, and they could happen to me. And the life disappointment that you feel is a test to prove whether you will trust Him or not. We're never without hope.

We never have legitimate grounds for fear. Great God, great plan, certain fulfillment. That's Don Green, founding pastor of Truth Community Church in Cincinnati, Ohio, with part two of a message called A Plan for Life here on The Truth Pulpit. Well, Don, as you reminded us today, God is always directing everything to accomplish His purpose. And for Christians, that purpose always works together for our good and His glory.

So when someone asks you what you do differently, if you had it all to do over again, that's really kind of a trick question, isn't it? It is a challenging thought, Bill. My friend, as we close for the week, I just want to ask you to listen closely to what I'm about to say.

God's hand has been silently at work in everything that has ever happened to you. I understand you've sinned. I know that people have sinned against you.

You know what? They sinned against Jesus, too, and look how that came out. He's now exalted to heaven in glory. So I encourage you, forget the human activity, and realize that God has given this present life that you have to you to live in response to Him. If you know Christ, you can rest assured that He'll work it all together for good. Go in peace. And, friend, just before we go, let me remind you to visit TheTruthPulpit.com. There you can hear today's program again at your convenience. That's TheTruthPulpit.com. I'm Bill Wright, inviting you to join us again next time when Don Green continues teaching God's people God's Word from The Truth Pulpit.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-12-03 14:01:32 / 2022-12-03 14:10:33 / 9

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