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When God Messes Up Our Plans
When Jesus was born, nobody expected it, and nobody made plans for it. But what it did was mess up everyone’s plans.
• It messed up King Herod’s plan of being king because here was a new King. The Wise Men announced, “Where is He who is born King of the Jews?”
• It messed up the Wise Men’s plans for up to and possibly over a year. When they saw the star, they had to make other arraignments for their home and their trip.
• It messed up the Shepherds’ plan for a quite night of watching the sheep. Instead, they found themselves leaving their flocks to go and find the baby, and then they left to tell everyone the good news.
• It messed up the religious leaders’ plans in Jerusalem. They wanted a Messiah who would be a political king, who would set them free from their Roman captivity. But instead, they were introduced to a suffering Messiah, one who said, “Turn the other cheek,” and “Love your enemies.” Not the stuff they wanted from their Messiah.
But most of all it messed up Joseph and Mary’s plans. Here was a young couple with stars in their eyes looking forward to a simple quite life where they would work and raise little Mary’s and Joseph’s of their own.
But during the engagement period, God appears and messes with their plans saying, “Guess what, I’ve got something bigger, better, and far more rewarding for you.”
And so, Mary becomes pregnant through the Holy Spirit who places inside her womb, Jesus, the Son of God, the second person of the Godhead. Now, try to explain that to your fiancé. Try&& to convince your family and friends that the life you had planned was now totally different because God showed up and messed with it.
Now, most of us know what I’m talking about when I say God showed up and messed with our plans. For myself I can give a lot of different examples of how God saw my plans and said, “Nope, I’ve got something bigger, better, and more rewarding.66
It was such a change of plans that sees me here today. I thought I was going to be a multimillion-dollar businessman. But God said no, and used my business partner to bankrupt the company, which eventually saw me attend seminary and afterwards take over the church in Las Vegas.
Thinking about how our plans get messed up reminds me of a story where a woman in New York took her son to visit Santa Claus. When she got there, she realized that the man playing Santa was actually her ex-husband who hadn’t been paying child support. She came back three hours later with a court injunction. That guy got his plans messed up and I don’t think he was very merry about it.
The point is that our plans don’t always go the way we want. But what we also need to realize is that God is not always the one messing with our plans. Anything that is evil isn’t from God, because God is not the author of evil. The other thing is that a lot of my plans get messed up because of my own stupidity. But what God does promise is that He will work out these evil things for our good and for Kingdom of God good (Romans 8:28).
So, when God messes up our plans, or when He sovereignly changes the circumstances to bring about another ending than what was planned, how are we to take it? I mean, what can we do to not allow these plan changes to wreak havoc in our lives?
1. God’s Trying to Get Our Attention
God’s plan for Joseph and Mary was so far out there, so fantastic and unbelievable, that God used an angel to convince them of its reality. But please understand we don’t need wait for an angel for our plans to be messed up.
You see, the reason why God messes with our plans is because they’re just that, our plans, not His. And the problem is that we haven’t been listening. Instead, we’re listening to others say what we should be doing, or who we are to be. We listen to the TV, movies, or Internet, that tell us, “This is the way to find fulfillment,” or “This should be your goal in life.”
And so, to rearrange our thinking and our lives, God shouts at us through such things as pain and suffering. C.S. Lewis said, “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: It is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”
The Lord said, “If my people would but listen to me … how quickly would I subdue their enemies and turn my hand against their foes” (Psalm 81:13-14). But because they wouldn’t listen, the Lord said that He would give them over to the stubborn hearts to follow their own devices.
“There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.” (Proverbs 16:25 NIV)
There are a lot of things in life that look right and sounds good, but when we get to the end, it’s only a dead end or worse, disaster. And the reason is because we don’t know the future; therefore, we don’t know how things will turn out.
That is why God wants us to listen to Him, because only He knows the future. He can see the roadblocks far down the road, or that the bridge is out. And if we would just take time to listen to God, read His word and do things His way, then He will help us avoid a lot of pain.
Throughout God’s word, the Bible, God tells us to do this, and not to do that. And He doesn’t do so because He wants to make up a whole bunch of rules or be the big ogre in the sky. No, rather it’s because He loves us and wants the best for us. He made us, therefore, He knows what works best and what doesn’t. Therefore, it is to our advantage to get His take and follow His ways.
So, God messes with our plans so that we will wake up and start paying attention to His word and His way.
2. God’s Got A Better Plan
God made us with a purpose in mind. God made each of us unique, and He has a reason for why we are not only here on earth, but why we are here in Mesquite and at this church.
One of my favorite verses deals with this whole idea. The Lord said through the prophet Jeremiah,
“‘For I know the thoughts that I think toward you,’ says the Lord, ‘thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.’”(Jeremiah 29:11 NKJV)
God is saying that His plan and purpose for our life is good, and to give us peace and a hope for the future. Our problem is that we think following God will only make our lives miserable.
But let me share with you three things about God’s plan for our lives.
a. God’s Plan is Bigger
God’s plan is bigger than our plan. God is saying that His plan is far bigger and greater than anything we can think up on our own.
The Lord brings this out quite succinctly through the prophet Isaiah.
“‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,’ says the Lord. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.’” (Isaiah 55:8-9 NKJV)
Consider Mary and Joseph. They just wanted to get married, settle down, raise and family and bless their community. But God’s plan was to bless the whole world through them.
God has made each one of us for a purpose that He wants to work within us and through us. So, we need to be like Mary who prayed, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38).
b. God’s Plan is Harder
I always have a hard time with this, but I think not to say anything about it would be wrong.
Following God’s plan isn’t going to be easy. It isn’t going to be peaches and crème. You see, that is what we want. We want an easy slide into heaven sort of life, but the truth is following Jesus Christ isn’t taking the path of least resistance, rather it is filled with resistance, because we have an enemy, Satan, who will do everything in his power to stop us and to turn us back.
Jesus gives us what this life in Him will be like.
“If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.” (Luke 9:23-24 NKJV)
And so, God’s plan isn’t always easy, rather it is hard, but know this, it’s worth it. And that’s because God isn’t interested in our overall comfort. No! Rather, God is interested in our overall character. God wants us to be people of a godly character and integrity, taking responsibility for the way we live our lives in this world, which by the way, those of this world are looking at us to see if this life in Christ is worth it for them.
Think about how hard it was for Joseph and Mary to follow this plan. Mary would be ridiculed and looked down upon. Joseph would be considered a fool for trusting Mary. And think how hard it was with only a week before delivery to get on a donkey and travel to Bethlehem, and then instead of finding a suitable room to give birth, they had to settle for a stable. It wasn’t easy, but it was worth it.
c. God’s Plan is More Rewarding
I love the verse that says, “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him” (1 Corinthians 2:9 NKJV)
When we cooperate with God’s plan and purpose, then we can look forward to a life filled with significance. Because we will have found our purpose, our niche, and we’ll realize that we were not made to take up space, breathe air, and waste resources. In other words, we’ll realize that it isn’t all about eating, and drinking, and being merry.
How will we know the difference? Because we won’t be fatigued, frustrated, or filled with fear.
What we fail to realize is that this life is a warmup for the next. This life is lived looking forward into eternity. And the biggest purpose God has for us is to get to know Him, and who He is and what He has done to keep this relationship alive.
When this life is over, we’ll all be standing before the Judgment Seat of God, and He’s going to ask, “What did you do with My Son, Jesus? Did you live your life by faith in Him?”
The Bible says, “By grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9 NKJV).
And so here is the question, “Have we opened up God’s Christmas present? Have we unwrapped His present of His Son for our lives?”
Please know that God isn’t going to be impressed with our rendition of Frank Sinatra’s “I did it my way?”
God’s plan was for us to come into a saving and personal relationship with Him, and so He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, that Christmas morning, so that He could take upon Himself our sin so that we could be redeemed back unto God the Father with an eternity in heaven as our expected end.
And so, God messes with our plans to get our attention and to give us a much better, a much bigger, a much harder, but also a much more rewarding plan. Which leaves me to my last point, and that is God messes with our plans because …
3. God Wants Our Trust
Can you imagine the faith it took for Joseph to do what he had to? If your fiancé came to you and said, “I’m pregnant, and it’s God’s,” how would you respond? The Bible says Joseph didn’t believe at first, so God sent an angel to tell Joseph that Mary was telling the truth and to marry her. And the same can be said for Mary when the angel told her.
With such a plan, all we have is trust. Either we trust God, trust His word, or we don’t. But trusting is the only way we can please God. You see, trust and faith go hand in hand.
“Without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” (Hebrews 11:6 NKJV)
God wants us to learn to trust Him, and every time God messes with our plans He is testing us to see whether or not we will trust Him, or will we trust our own understanding. The only problem with our own understanding is that it is faulty and can’t look into the future. Whereas God’s understanding is infinite and way above our own.
Again, I go back to what the Lord said through the prophet Isaiah.
“‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,’ says the Lord. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts’” (Isaiah 55:8-9 NKJV)
Some of you are celebrating this Christmas differently than in years past. This year may be the first without a loved one, or with a disability, or with an illness. And you look at next year and your future and you become worried at what it may look like, because it isn’t coming out the way you planned.
But let me give you another promise that God gives to you. The first one we’ve looked at already, and that is that God’s plans for you are to give you a future hope (Jeremiah 29:11 NKJV). This promise is that God will turn whatever you are facing to something good.
“We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28 NIV)
And so with these promises firmly in hand, will we trust God when He messes with our plans, because not only is He working something out far greater than what our plans could ever possibly accomplish, that is peace with Him and a future hope, but He is also working for our good, or should I say for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose rather than their own.
And so, where do you stand? To love God is to love His Son, Jesus Christ. And to love Jesus Christ is to believe in the sacrifice He made for you out of that love, as He willing went to the cross and died for your sins, so that whosoever believes in Him will have everlasting life, as opposed to everlasting death.
And so, when God messes with our plans, He is doing so because
• He loves us and wants to get our attention to change the direction our lives is going, which is usually in the wrong direction. God wants to change our direction and get us on the right path, the narrow path that leads to heaven and everlasting life.
• He also wants to give us a better purpose for our lives than what we are presently living life for. And so, His plan is larger, harder, but far more rewarding than any plan we can come up with.
• And finally, God messes with our plans because He wants us to trust Him and to put our faith in Him, which is what pleases God the most, because it is by grace we are saved through faith, and that not of ourselves, it is a gift that comes directly from God.
And so, let’s not look upon the changes that are happening in our lives as something bad, but rather as something that God is doing to give us His peace, along with a hope for the future.
Wednesday Evening Bible Study