Summary: What is the nature of God’s plan? Provision, hope, and a future.
Every weekday morning TV viewers are treated to an hour of high-energy television with the legendary game show "The Price Is Right.” We are constantly bombarded with offers for various things. It seems as if every TV commercial has a fast talking salesperson that says, "Have I got a deal for you!"
Our economy rises and falls on our ability or our unwillingness to purchase items. If we buy, great, the economy goes forward. If we don’t, the economy falls backward.
Why do we buy so much? Why do we consume so much? Why do we listen to the infomercials at all hours of the day and hope that the new diet pill or exercise plan will help us lose weight? Why do we hope that what we buy will help us live not just more easily but better? One reason is that we are looking for something to give meaning to our lives something to give us hope and peace and contentment.
Last week we looked at God’s call of Abram to pack up and move to a new place. And we asked ourselves, "Why did God do this?" because He had a plan for Abram. We also spent sometime reflecting on the impact that God’s plan had for Abram by thinking about how we would feel and what the impact would be on us if God called us to do the same thing. But, there is one question that went unanswered last week. One that perhaps we notice that we ask, "What are God’s plans like?"
What is the nature of God’s plans? Are they different or similar to our plans? Are they good plans or bad plans?
At a very different time and place in Old Testament history God, through the prophet Jeremiah, gave an answer to that question. "For I know the plans I have for you," says the Lord. "They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope." I believe that some of us here today are really considering God’s plan for our lives. But, we want to know a little more before we make the commitment to follow His plans.
Three words in this verse are critical to understanding the nature of God’s plan: It is a good plan, it is a plan to give us a future, and it is a plan to give us a hope. (Overhead 1)
In a passage on prayer that is recorded as Matthew 7:11, Jesus made a statement about the goodness of God’s plan. "If you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask Him."
God’s good plan includes a couple gifts. (Overhead 2) The primary gift of God’s plan is our salvation. The greatest gift that God has given to us is the gift of forgiveness. Everything else about God’s good plan grows out of and is rooted in that good plan. God’s greatest desire for us is to have a relationship with Him.
I know that I have said this over and over again to the point that I might sound like a broken record. But, the central part of the Christian faith is a right relationship with God through the confession and forgiveness of our sins, those things that break our relationship with God. Without Good Friday and without Easter, there is no Christian faith. But, is that all there is? No!
Another gift of God’s good plan for us is a purposeful life. And the reason that I say “purposeful” is that “all things work together,” as Paul wrote, “for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.”
I could have said “happy, content, or fulfilled” life instead of purposeful, but that is not what the Bible teaches. What scripture teaches is that when we entered into a relationship with God through Christ, then our agenda and hence our purpose changes. We become more concerned about following God’s plan for our lives and not our own.
As proof, I would have us listen to what Jesus told the disciples, as He prepared to return to heaven. “Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you.” And in another place He said, “But when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, you will receive power and will tell people about me everywhere – in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
Our lives, as Christians, are to be given to this purpose of going and telling and helping people become followers of God like we are becoming. All we do therefore is centered on a purpose that is not our own.