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Monday, June 23, 2008

What Are Your Plans?

I had to take a break from blogging this last month as we had the opportunity of opening our home to a relative in need.  This young lady was in need of a major change in her life and the first night she came to live with us she said she would do anything to change and was excited to learn from us.  We laid out some rules and she agreed that they were good. 


My husband and I are teachers.  We have a heart to teach those that are teachable and want to learn.  So we tackled every opportunity to teach character qualities, spiritual fundamentals, and practical life skills.  We knew that this would take some time, so we planned many things to teach over the coming months.  One of the first lessons we wanted to teach is that our actions speak louder than our words.  We can say we love God, but if we aren’t keeping His commandments we don’t truly love Him. (John 14:15,21)  In fact, John tells us in I John 1:4 that, “He who says, ‘I know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.”  Well, this woman’s actions spoke louder than her words and subsequently she is no longer with us.


We have no ill feelings over the situation and, in fact, I can glean many lessons from it.  She has only harmed herself and not us.


I was mopping my floor this morning thinking over the whole situation.  I was thinking about all the things I had planned to teach her.  Plans to teach character qualities, spiritual fundamentals, knowledge of the Bible and God’s plan and character, and practical information, like how to handle finances, how to clean house and cook.


But with all my plans, it still came down to her choice.  She chose not to be meek and teachable, showing us through attitude that she really didn’t want a change in her life.


It is the same way with God.  Jeremiah 29:11 says, “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.” (NIV)  God has plans for every one of us, BUT it is up to us to CHOOSE to follow God.  Jeremiah 10:23 says that man is NOT to direct his own steps; we are to let God direct our steps.  Ps. 37:23 says that the steps of a righteous man are ordered of the Lord (I particularly like the New Living Translation of this verse). 


What are your plans for your life?  It is certainly okay to have goals, but I think we all need to stop more often than we do and ask what God’s plans for us are.  It is our choice, we can choose to live a mediocre life or we can CHOOSE to partake of the abundant life that Jesus promised in John 10:10.  It saddens me that many Christians don’t live that abundant life.  It all comes down to our choices.  After Moses read the law to the Israelites he told them they had a choice, in Deuteronomy 30:19, to CHOOSE life or death.


I truly believe this means in ALL areas of our life.  We must NOT departmentalize God, put Him in a little corner of our life, go to church, do our duty, and then everything else about our life is up to us.  We are only going to have that abundant life if we allow God into those other areas of our life.


The important thing to remember is that every one of us has influence on those around us.  If we aren’t living that abundant life, the people around us aren’t going to want anything to do with Christianity.


Many times the apostle Paul compared the spiritual walk with a race.  His readers were very familiar at that time with the Olympic games in Greece.  We, too, are familiar with the Olympic games, so I would like to expand on that comparison.  Imagine this year in Beijing the Olympics is including a special race open to anyone in the world and some wealthy benefactor has paid expenses for as many people of the world that want to come and participate in this race.  All you have to do is go and pick-up your plane ticket to China.  Many people will take this man’s word to be true, and go and pick-up their plane ticket and fly to China.  Once they are there, it is their choice whether to follow the plan of the games or do their own thing.  Some will say, “Hey this is great, I got a free ticket to China, but now I’m going to do my own thing and go sightseeing.”  Others will participate in this special race, but once the gun goes off, they don’t go anywhere.  They think, “This is so great, I’m at the Olympics in Beijing”, but they’re not cooperating and not actually doing any running, as if they don’t understand why they are there.  Others are running half-heartedly, not really putting much effort into winning.  Some come upon hurdles and then stop, not knowing how to jump them.  Now if the world was watching this race on television at home, most would change the channel.  People would lose their interest in the Olympic games. 


What I suggest to you is that the world is watching you as a Christian, and if you aren’t following God’s plan, then you are influencing those around you and they will want to turn the channel.  They won’t want anything to do with the Christianity that you’ve got.  Those that were off sightseeing, those that never started the race, those that ran half-heartedly, and those that were blocked by the hurdles ALL hindered the world’s confidence in the Olympic games.  Christians that are doing their own thing, or are never growing, or only put half a heart into following God (I’ll go to church, but I want to have my fun, too), or come upon obstacles and crumble, ALL hinder the gospel message.  So I say to you, are you going to be one of the runners in this race, striving for the gold medal?  Paul says in I Cor. 9:24 that we should all run like we mean it, to win the prize.


God has many plans for you, many things to teach you, the question is, are you going to let Him teach you and lead you?  God has given us a whole book of His will.  I know it sounds clich√© and many years ago, I would’ve nodded my head in agreement, but not actually taken it to heart.  I can now tell you from experience that your life will change when you diligently study God’s Word, seeking God’s kingdom first (Matt. 6:33).

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