A woman invited several people over for dinner. All the preparations were made and, at the appointed time, all the guests arrived. After some “pre-dinner” conversation, the guests were invited to the table. And once they were all seated, the hostess turned to her six-year old daughter and said, “Honey, would you like to say the blessing?” “I wouldn’t know what to say,” the girl embarrassedly replied. “Well Sweetie, just say what you hear Mommy say.” The little girl thought for a moment, nodded to her mom, bowed her head and said, “Lord…why on earth did I plan to invite all these people to dinner?!”
This morning, we continue to venture ever deeper into uncharted waters as we continue our current Sunday morning sermon series- Terra Incognita. Latin for “unknown land”, Terra Incognita describes that which is beyond the boundary of what has yet been discovered. It’s the great unknown- the things that are beyond our current understanding. Over the 7 weeks of this series, we are looking at several aspects of the “uncharted waters” into which we as a church are currently sailing. And every week along the way, we pause to focus on the beauty, the wonder AND the challenge of the “undiscovered country”!
James 4:13-15 And now I have a word for you who brashly announce, “Today– at the latest, tomorrow– we’re off to such and such a city for the year. We’re going to start a business and make a lot of money.” You don’t know the first thing about tomorrow. You’re nothing but a wisp of fog, catching a brief bit of sun before disappearing. Instead, make it a habit to say, “If the Master wills it and we’re still alive, we’ll do this or that.”
Jesus is saying that if you want to be His disciple, if you want to truly follow Him, here’s what you need to do- make plans that put Him first, above everything else in your life. It may be simple…but it’s NOT easy. Teddy Roosevelt said, “Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty… I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well.”
A couple on vacation was exploring the back roads of the Emerald Isle- Ireland. They inevitably got lost. They finally spotted a farmer who was leading his cow across the pasture. They stopped him. The wife asked (because we ALL know that men don’t ASK for directions!), “Excuse me, but could you direct us to Mohill? We’re lost.” A lovely smile creased the man’s leathery face and he replied, “You’re not lost at all, don’t y’see? You’ve found me…and I know where you’re going and how to get there.” When you’ve found Jesus you’re not lost at all, because He knows where you’re going and how to get there. And if you don’t make plans, if you don’t know where you’re going…you’re simply going to end up somewhere else.
Isaiah 32:6a, 8 For fools are fools and that’s that, thinking up new ways to do mischief. They leave a wake of wrecked lives and lies about God. But those who are noble make noble plans, and stand for what is noble.
Leadership magazine once ran a cartoon that showed a church building with a billboard in front that said: “The LITE CHURCH: 24% fewer commitments, home of the 7.5% tithe, 15 minute sermons, 45 minute worship service; we have only 8 commandments—your choice. Everything you’ve ever wanted in a church … and less!”
That might represent what some people are looking for in a church, but it does NOT represent what Jesus is calling OUR church to. The question ISN’T “Can I follow Jesus completely?” The question is, “Am I WILLING to follow Jesus completely?” We’re all human- sometimes we make mistakes, sometimes we make bad choices. But what God is confronting is NOT our ability to follow Him…but our willingness.
My wife’s parents live with us and, when they moved in, they brought with them a dog. She is a pood…cocker…shih…terr…she’s a DOG! And she’s a little dog. BUT…she THINKS she’s a big dog. Get her on the leash, take her outside and she begins to DEMAND that she is going to do…or NOT do…whatever it is she want do…or not do! “I want to go there! I want to stand here! I don’t want to go over there!” The reality is, however, she can THINK that all she wants- I outweigh her by some rather large exponent and therefore…she simply doesn’t get to dictate her plans!
Most people don’t have any REAL plan for their lives. They go through life without a clear picture of what God wants. They have no idea of their God-given destination. Many years ago, Albert Einstein was on a train bound for New York City. As the ticket taker came walking through the car, Einstein reached into his pocket to retrieve his ticket, but couldn’t find it. He frantically searched his coat pockets, turned his pants pockets inside out, but still couldn’t produce the ticket. The ticket taker said, ‘Don’t worry, Mr. Einstein, we all know who you are. Forget about it.’ About 20 minutes later, the ticket taker came back through the car, and by this time Einstein was on the floor searching everywhere for the lost ticket. Again the ticket taker tried to reassure Einstein by saying, ‘I told you not to worry about the lost ticket. We trust that you purchased one, and that’s good enough for us.’ Einstein looked up at the railroad employee and said, ‘Young man, this isn’t a matter of trust but of direction. I need to find the ticket because I forgot where I am going!”
When we seek to honor God with our lives, if we trust God will all our heart then He will work out everything for His own ends. In other words, even when we mess things up…we STILL belong to God and God will STILL work it out. Without God guiding you, you might think you know your plans, but the end result probably won’t be where you hope to be. The danger for every Christian is to put God on a shelf somewhere, on hold until we REALLY NEED HIM, and make our plans without giving any thought to what He wants of us.
An atheist, in what he saw as one last great act of defiance, left his farm to the devil. When he died, the legal system was baffled over how to honor his wishes. Finally, the court decided that the best way to carry out the farmer’s wishes was to permit the weeds to take over the farm, let the house and barn rot and to let the soil erode and wash away. The court declared in its ruling, “The best way to let the devil have possession of anything is to do nothing.” The best way to allow Satan to destroy your plans and dreams is to simply do nothing. Just continue to live with no plans…and you’ll never arrive at your desired life destination. A plan is simply a road map for getting you to where God wants you to be.
There is nothing wrong with planning. The problem is when we make plans without including God. The foundational question we should ask about any plan we make should be, “Is this plan consistent with God’s will for my life?”
So, how do you develop a plan that’ll get you from where you are to where you God wants you to be- in your marriage, your finances, your career, your ministry, your faith, your life? Well, first, you need a defining purpose. “What am I here for? Why do I exist?” The answer is clear: You are here…to glorify God. We are ALL here…to glorify God. That’s our purpose. Author and pastor Rick Warren offers a five-point purpose plan:
1. Worship. Our main goal as human beings is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.
2. Fellowship/Membership. God wants EACH of is to be a contributing member of His body.
3. Maturity. God wants us to be spiritually mature- Christ-like.
4. Ministry. God wants us to meet a need in the world and to be a contributing part of the body of Christ
5. Mission. God wants to communicate to the world…through us.
A lot of people are simply NOT into planning. They just put their hope in “fate” and then accept whatever comes. But a plan for your life should involve something that you’re passionate about. But how do you identify what you’re passionate about? Bob Biehl, president of Masterplanning Group International, suggests six questions to help you identify your passion:
1. What needs that I see in the world are of concern to me?
2. If I could meet any need in the world, what need would I meet?
3. What are the most urgent needs in my country, my community, my work, my school, and my church?
4. What age group or type of people naturally interests me?
5. What are the major needs among my neighbors, my friends, and my family?
6. If I don’t meet these needs, who will?
Your plan, your purpose, should involve something for which God has given you special gifts. And I firmly believe with all my heart that God has given EACH of us unique gifts designed to help us fulfill our unique purpose…our plan…in the world.
In the end, there’s nothing wrong with making your own plans. But the Old Testament Book of Proverbs says that no matter what plans you make, God decides where those plans will take you.
Proverbs 16:1-3 Mortals make elaborate plans, but God has the last word. Humans are satisfied with whatever looks good; God probes for what is good. Put God in charge of your work, then what you’ve planned will take place.
If we commit our plans to God, then He will make our plans succeed and our paths straight. What’s the shortest distance between two points? A straight line! And when we submit our plans to God, He says He’ll make our paths straight. If we plan to go where God wants us to go, He will help make our path straight. Abraham Lincoln once said “No one ever got lost on a straight road.” Why? Because on a straight road, there’s only one direction to worry about. Oh sure, there might be little side roads, diversions and rest stops along the way, but as long as you stick to the straight road that God has for you, you’ll always know where you’re going.
Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day! Please make sure and come back again tomorrow, and stick with Jesus!
Tomorrow- Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head