“…Do not listen to the dreams you encourage them to have... 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 upon 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.” (Jeremiah 29: 8b, 11-13 NIV)
In the movie Evan Almighty, there’s a scene in which ‘Evan’ (played by actor Steve Carell) laments to actor Morgan Freeman (who attempts to play the role of The Almighty) that what God has asked him to do is not part of his (Evan’s) future plans. God’s reaction is simply to laugh. Now casting Morgan Freeman, or anyone for that matter, in the role of the Almighty is an impossibly far stretch, however, I think, at times there’s a lot of truth to the old Yiddish proverb – “Man plans and God laughs.” For those of us who have ‘resolved’ to make positive changes in our lives, lifestyles, attitude, choices and/or behaviors in the New Year, it is imperative that before we make ‘future plans,’ we seek the wisdom and guidance of the ‘One’ who plans the future.
In the book of Jeremiah, The (real and only) Almighty speaks wisdom and guidance through His prophet, who lets His people know that despite their disobedience, He still loves them and has a plan for their lives, ‘but,’ as always, the fulfillment of that plan includes obedience to God’s will. This is the part that always seems to trip up most people – them then and us now. As you enter 2017, here are four thoughts to consider for the New Year when it comes to your ‘future plans.’
Listen for God’s Plan – Unlike Biblical times, we don’t have a ‘weeping prophet’ constantly relaying God’s instructions, however, we have something just as powerful – the Bible, which has been said to stand for Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth. This year, I encourage you to ‘plan’ on spending more time in God’s word, meditating and seeking His will for your life. In addition, I encourage you to consider joining your brothers and sisters in Christ during our upcoming 21 Days of Prayer & Fasting. The purpose is to humble ourselves through sacrifice, and to seek ‘His’ direction and plan for our lives and His Body of Christ known as the church.
Love is Always Part of God’s Plan - In the movie Evan Almighty, Evan learns that the word Ark is actually an acronym A. R. K., which stands for Acts of Random Kindness. One resolution you might consider is attempting to view people in the same way God views them, especially those who are struggling or who don’t know the love of Jesus. Resolve to serve, to be that love and to pray that God changes hearts – including yours.
Let Go of Your Plan – God warns His people not to listen to false predictions, and tells them not to encourage those making false claims to tell them what they want to hear. When I worked in the business world, I attended a few meetings in which I was invited to take part in high risk, high reward ‘opportunities.’ Despite the promise of great financial gain, though tempted, I passed. In at least three cases, those supposed experts ended up losing their jobs, homes and in one case going to prison. Proverbs 19:21 reminds us that Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails. Sometimes we need to let go of our selfish plans and ask God to give us a selfless heart, guiding and directing our plans and motives. My experience is that when my heart is right, things generally go right, especially when God gets the glory.
Let God Implement His Plan – As noted earlier, God has a plan for our lives and that plan is for our good. He uses encouraging words such as prosper, hope and future. He beckons us to call out and pray to Him, and promises to listen. He then tells us He will reveal Himself when we seek Him with all our heart. This year I encourage you to make your number one New Year’s resolution to pray daily and call out to God regularly: to seek Him and His direction with all your heart. It’s important to remember that our future, and our future plans, need to be placed in His very capable hands.
In Him alone,
Cambridge Baptist Church