Friday, November 10, 2017

God's Plans For You

I was brought up learning to have a mission and objectives with strong goals for life in every category like health, wealth, work, hobbies, and relationships. Planning is next to godliness was an unspoken rule. In fact I traveled the country facilitating strategic planning for hospitals. Each had to have a mission, vision, 5-year objectives and an action plan for achieving them. My life, however, was a disaster in many ways.

I was working pretty much on my own recognizance in my pre-Christian days. My own emotions and desires dictated my ways. My center was built around my needs. That led to some pretty bad decisions. My career was peaking, as I was the CEO of hospitals in the early nineties. Yet I had isolated myself as many at the top do. I found myself alone often. In fact I was a way from home, some 400 miles. I was working hard, often 14-16 hour days. I exhausted myself and started drinking and losing judgment.  The hospital was turning around successfully, but I was turning too, away from good to bad. Decisions I made hurt many people, even if the hospital succeeded. It took a crisis to turn me to God in the middle of the night driving home in a blizzard. There in the snow by the side of the highway, I knelt and received Jesus Christ as my Savior. The Lord part would come slowly and is the subject of this three volume book, This is the Way, Walk in it. His ways and thoughts are higher than ours,  Isaiah 55 tells us.

  I have changed in my approach to life. It isn’t that I don’t think about a plan and make lists. I do. But today, God leads my steps. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths (make you paths straight)” (Proverbs 3:4-6). Is planning a bad idea, no I don’t think so, but ask God first and not to plan and ask Him to bless them.

God said in Jeremiah 29:11-14, For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.  I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.He is saying that He has plans for the Israelites return from captivity caused by their disobedience and rebelliousness. He even tells them to live normally and be thankful in their struggle and that then He will bless them. He tells them through Jeremiah the Prophet to seek Him in prayer with all their hearts. God is directing their paths back home.

Job said, “I know that You can do all things. No plan of yours can be thwarted” (Job 42:2). Another Scripture like it says, “I have learned the secret of being content…I can everything through Him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13). God does not want this to be a secret, but it seems to be for most humans. Solomon expresses his dismay and troubles in Ecclesiastes saying, “Everything is meaningless!...Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man” (Ecclesiastes 12:9,13). He had tried life on his own without God and it had failed. It is thought that Solomon also wrote the Book of Proverbs in which he says, “Do not those who plot evil go astray? But those who plan what is good find love and faithfulness” (Proverbs 14:22). He continues in Proverbs to speak about planning. “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisors they succeed” (Proverbs 15:22). In Proverbs 16:1&9 he says, "To a man belongs the plans of the heart, but from the Lord comes the reply of the tongue…In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.” A similar thought comes in Proverbs 19:21, “Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it it’s the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” Perhaps then a summary of these proverbs might be Proverbs 14:12 saying, There is a way that seems right to a, but in the end it leads to death.” Well, think about that one.

The Apostle Paul’s letter to the Ephesians admonishes us, “In Him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of Him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of His will in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise and glory of God” (Ephesians 1:11-12). Christ is the center of God’s plan. It is only in relationship to Jesus Christ that there is a meaningful future destiny.

Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount, “Enter through the narrow gate. For the wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many who enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow is the road that leads to life, and only a few find it” (Matthew 7:13-14).

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