How many of you would call yourself a “planner”? By that, I assume you mean that you have a plan for the coming week. Or maybe you even have a plan for the next month. Perhaps you’ve got one for the rest of this year. Some of you go further out with your plans and you know where you’ll be vacationing in 2025. And there’s a few who have even longer-term plans: You actually know which university your two-year old will be attending 16 years from right now.
How many of you used to be planners, you know pre-COVID? And now you’re like, “There is no point in making a plan.” How many of you would say you’re more spontaneous than you are planned? And lastly - how many of you, like me, would say that you like to plan your spontaneity?
It’s kind of fun in a community like this to see where we all are on the planning spectrum. But things get a little more serious when we look at our lives, our families, our work, our city, and our world. If we’re honest, we see so many seemingly random things that cause us to wonder:
Is there really a plan for all of this?
If there is no plan behind it all and everything is random, then there’s no reason to look for meaning or purpose in life. We should just do our best and see what happens. But:
If there is an actual plan, there MUST be a planner.
This is what I want to talk about today as we begin a collection of messages we’re calling, “What’s the Plan?”
Here are some of the things we’ll discover over the next 10 weeks: Does God really have a plan? If He does, is there a specific plan for my life? How does God guide us into this plan? How do we discover the vocation and work God has assigned to us? Is there any freedom when it comes to God’s will? Do our desires matter in the plan or do only God’s desires matter? How do we increase our God-awareness and our self-awareness? What do we do when we don’t know exactly what to do? And can God make a wrong path right?
Do you ever see anything in your own life or in our world that causes you to doubt if God actually has a plan for all of this? Yeah, me too. But I’ve also experienced many things in my life that make me say: This could never have happened unless God had a plan. Even if you’re quite doubtful that there’s a plan, don’t you want there to be a plan? And don’t you want it to be a good plan?
I need to know there’s a purpose for all of this.
purpose – the reason for which something is done or for which something exists
When my physical eyes can’t see a coherent way this all fits together, I have to know there’s a reason for it all.
Psalm 33:10-11 The LORD foils the plans of the nations; he thwarts the purposes of the peoples. But the plans of the LORD stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations.
God has plans. His plans stand firm forever.
God has purposes in His heart. His purposes remain through all generations.
The evil and injustice in our world has not changed the fact that God has a purpose.
COVID has not changed the reality that God still has a plan.
Your current trial hasn’t defeated the purposes of God.
Listen in on what Job said after he had lost everything, wanted to die and questioned God:
Job 42:2 “I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted.”
Job didn’t realize this fully until after everything he went through. What if we could receive his wisdom and believe it by faith on the front end?
Proverbs 19:21 Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.
God has a plan.
No plan of his can be thwarted; His purpose always prevails.
But is His plan good for us?
2 Timothy 1:9 He has saved us and called us to a holy life – not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time.
Our confidence doesn’t have to rest on what we have done or what we haven’t done. It comes from the grace of God, which means God has acted on our behalf to make it happen for us. And it comes from the purpose of God, which we’ve already discovered cannot be defeated.
Now we have to decide if we’re going to give ourselves, our lives, to God’s plan or someone else’s. In Acts 5, Peter and the other apostles were put in prison. But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the doors of the jail and brought them out. They then start preaching about Jesus in the temple courts. The Sanhedrin, think the supreme court over Jewish life, brought them in and questioned them. They actually wanted to put them to death.
Just then a Pharisee named Gamaliel stood up and essentially said, “We need to be careful here.”
Acts 5:38-39 Therefore, in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.
The purposes of human origin eventually fail. The purposes that originate in the heart of God are unstoppable.
You can reject God’s plan, but why would you?
Luke 7:30 But the Pharisees and the experts in the law REJECTED GOD’S PURPOSE FOR THEMSELVES, because they had not been baptized by John.
What will you surrender your life to – a plan of human origin (yours or someone else’s)? or the divine plan that is unstoppable? Do you want to live a life fighting against God or one in which God is fighting for you?
Whose plans are you betting your life on?
Psalm 40:8 I desire to do your will, my God; your law is within my heart.
Martin Luther King, Jr. said these words in his last speech, given the day before he was assassinated:
“Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will.” Martin Luther King, Jr.
Our vision here at Epic is to orient our entire lives around Jesus. How did he play this one? He’s Jesus. Surely he would be only about His own plans, His own purposes, and His own will.
John 6:38 For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me.
Do we trust God enough to say “yes” to His will, even before we know the specifics of that will? If “no”, then it means our trust is in the what, when, where, and how more than in the who.
Do you trust Him? You might respond, “I don’t know if He’s good or if His plan is good.” Listen to this from Paul. We tend to concentrate on the first part of this verse and I’m sure we’ll do that at some point in this series, but I want to focus in on the last part.
Romans 12:2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.
But what about the suffering in this world? What about the injustice? What about all of the things that have happened to you? Whoever wrote this must have had an easy life. Well, the Apostle Paul wrote these words. Just two months ago, while in Rome and outside of Rome, I was able to visit the prison where Paul was kept and the place where tradition claims he was killed. He is the one who wrote that God’s will is good, pleasing and perfect.
It’s because he came to experience God as good, pleasing, and perfect. A good God could not have bad purposes or bad plans in his heart. But God has given human beings a certain amount of freedom to do as we choose. After Jesus brought a dead man back to life, we read these words:
John 11:53 So from that day on they plotted to take his life.
What happened to God’s good plan that cannot be thwarted? I thought the plans of man could never defeat the plans of God.
Acts 2:23-24 This man was handed over to you by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.
It looked as if God’s plan had failed.
It looked as if God’s power had met its match.
It looked as if maybe evil had finally won.
But God…His plan stands firm forever; the purposes of his heart through all generations.
But God…the one who works out everything to its proper end.
But God…His purpose always prevails.
But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.
Even the death of Jesus did not defeat God’s plan, because it was IMPOSSIBLE for death to keep its hold on him.
Will you trust The Planner?
Will you trust Him when you can’t see it all?
Will you trust Him when it appears you are being defeated?
Will you anchor your life to something that’s of human origin or something of divine origin?
This series is called, “What’s the Plan?” I titled it this way because I know this is what we all want to know the most – what’s the plan for my life and our world? I want to let you in on a little secret. “What’s the plan?” isn’t the most important question for your life or our world. The most important question for your life and our world is this one: Who is the Planner?
I want to invite you in this moment to put your faith, your trust in Jesus. He wants to do for you what you cannot do for yourself. Sure, you can reject his purpose for your life. But his purpose is for you to find life in Him. And you don’t have to make this happen on your own. You can receive his grace that brings you life.