Summary: THIRD SUNDAY IN LENT - It’s been said that, “With God, our lives are an open book.” Sometimes, however, we may find ourselves in the middle of the book and still asking, “Whose bright idea was this anyway? It sure wasn’t mine!”


Isaiah 55:1-9; 54:10 John 14:1-7 Luke 1:36-37; 13:1-9 Ps 63:1-8 1 Jn. 5:4 Rom. 8:28; 12:2 1 Cor. 2:9; 10:1-13

It’s been said that, “With God, our lives are an open book.” Sometimes, however, we may find ourselves in the middle of the book and still asking, “Whose bright idea was this anyway? It sure wasn’t mine!”

We like to think of ourselves as the authors of our own lives, and in many ways we are. But what we often fail to consider are all the variables which we have no control over. They can be minor inconveniences or absolute train wrecks, but we’re certain they weren’t our idea. Unfortunately, though, they can play havoc with all our other plans. You can be half-way through writing your own book, certain that it’s going to be a best-seller, when suddenly the whole plot changes … and YOU weren’t even asked! What’s with that? Not really a surprising response from an ambitious author.

No doubt most of us can relate to this scenario. We plan; we plot; we aspire, but we don’t get to write the final chapter … or do we?

READ JOHN 14:1-7

At a Rotary Club meeting, a minister once introduced himself as belonging to “a global enterprise with branches in every country in the world.” He said, “We specialize in motivation and behavior alteration. We’re also into life insurance and fire insurance, and our clients range from birth to death. You might say that our specialty is in spiritual heart transplants, and our product is free for the asking.’’

“Our CEO owns all the real estate on earth plus a wide assortment of galaxies and constellations. He grew up in a small town, apprenticed as a carpenter, but never owned his own house, was misunderstood by his family and hated by his enemies, walked on water, applied medicine without a license, was condemned to death and arose from the dead. And he’s never too busy to talk with you. Jesus Christ is our CEO, and even though he lets us make some of our own decisions, chart some of our courses, and occasionally have a say in things, He’s still in charge. Yet, He still leaves the most important decision of our entire life entirely to us … to make Jesus Christ our CEO … or not.”

Yes, God is in charge, and frankly, I find that reassuring, but I haven’t always felt that way. Maybe you know the feeling? It’s the one where your best plans meet the train-wreck you didn’t see coming. That’s when we’re reminded who’s really writing our story – and no matter what we may think or others may say – God’s love and His plans trump everything.

In Isaiah 55:3, God invites us, “Give ear and come to me; listen, that you may live. I will make an everlasting covenant with you, my faithful love promised to David.”

Today, I’d like to reflect on How God is in Control, and how His ways are so different and so much better than our own. For one thing,

I. God is always positive, and never negative. In Isaiah 55:11, God says, “My word will never return to me empty.” His Word is His love, and ultimately, it always works. He doesn’t make mistakes. In Paul’s first letter to Timothy, he says, “This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance (and for this we labor and strive), that we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior … especially of those who believe.” (4:9-10)

You may not like the way your story is going at the moment, but don’t lose faith in who’s writing it. Only, • God knows the whole story… how it began and how it’s going to end. He has, however, given us some assurances. For one thing, Paul has told us, “…in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Our hope is not in our ability to write, but in God’s promise to publish our story for our peace and His glory.

Even from the cross, Jesus reminds us, • God never says never — nothing is impossible with God. The angel who appeared to the Virgin Mary told her, “Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age . . . for nothing is impossible with God.” Faith sustains us throughout the story – especially when things seem darkest. But our current circumstances don’t have to control our lives if we let go and trust God.

• One of the problems in our lives is lack of application. If we don’t apply sunscreen we’ll get burned. If we don’t apply faith, we’ll see only the sorrow and not the hope. …. And something else we should keep in mind,

II. Whatever the current darkness, it’s not the end of the story. In verse 11, Isaiah writes, “Instead of the thorn bush will grow the juniper, and instead of the briars, the myrtle will grow.”

Many times we feel that things are out of control, but when we call on Jesus, all things are possible. When we stop looking at our situation through eyes of pain – when we see it, instead, through the lens of the Holy Spirit – then we realize God is still in control. We may be disappointed in ourselves, but like the bumper sticker says, “God-doesn’t-make-no-junk”. If you’re worried and afraid, then you haven’t let go yet. You’re still suffering under the illusion that the final say in matters will come from this world.

Romans 12:2 says, “. . . be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Remember, God specializes in motivation and behavior modification. Mistakes are something we frequently make, but by God’s grace, we don’t have to live with them forever. God has bigger plans for you and me, and

• God’s plans for your life are secure. You’re in good hands with the C.E.O. of Heaven & earth. He overlooks nothing, and nothing is out of His control.

III. God isn’t going to do things your way. He’s going to do them His way. In verse 8, God declared, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways.” So many times we try to tell God what’s best for us, but God knows better than we do what is best.

Have you ever devised a plan – maybe a business plan, or a plan for your crops, or even a plan for your family – and along the way things started going wrong?

Then suddenly some good fortune saved your enterprise from collapse. Did you think to thank God, or did you foolishly believe you had just made the right choices? It’s part of our nature to want the credit when things turn out right. It’s also common to blame others – even God – when they don’t. It takes intelligence to plan ahead, but it takes wisdom to know who has the final say. Remember, • God wrote the ending, and the glory is His.

There’s a story about Rev. John Osteen. He was about to purchase property for what seemed to be the best deal in town. The church elders all agreed, but just when they were supposed to sign the papers, the pastor declared that the Holy Spirit spoke to him and said, “Not now.” When John told the elders, they were shocked. But John was adamant, and so the elders accepted his leadership.

One week later, the city council of Houston did a major rezoning which included the property in question. The sellers contacted Pastor Osteen, and the church got the property for half the original price. John later related this divine enterprise to a gathering of pastors, and he concluded with Isaiah 55:9, “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are His ways higher than our ways.”

True stories such as this are actually more plentiful than many realize. So why don’t more people experience them? Personally, I suspect it’s because some aren’t really listening to God. They’re too busy with their own plans; too wrapped up in their own thoughts; too busy talking to themselves.

Here’s a short list of WHY you need to place your life in the care of JESUS CHRIST, the real C.E.O.

First, He knows every detail of your life, from start to finish, from the foundation of the world. He can go into your tomorrows before you arrive, and have a way of escape already charted for you.

Second, He secured your victory before you had the battle. As it says in 1 John, “This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.” As we know from God’s bestselling novel, in the end, we win.

Thirdly, Jesus is seated at the right hand of God. When someone is seated, it means that it’s finished. Death, hell, sin, and every other foe in your life is defeated. You have only to claim the promise of God. Jesus told you, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” If you truly believe that Jesus Christ is the Way, then prove it. Profess it to others.

And Fourth, Jesus is here now and in every tomorrow. In John 14:15, Jesus said, “If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever —the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. Anyone who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.”

In this world, there’s lots of struggling people, and for some, it may seem over-whelming. If this sounds like where you are, then let me encourage you to give fully to Jesus Christ. He can make a way even when there seems to be none.

The world will tell you that some things can’t happen. Scientists may claim it can’t happen, and doctors may say it’s impossible, but “God’s ways are not our ways. God’s thoughts are not our thoughts. As high as the heavens are above the earth, are God’s ways above our ways.”

Back in the 3rd-century, a pagan named Celsus said to a Christian named Origen, “When most teachers go forth to teach, they cry, ‘Come to me, you who are clean and worthy,’ and they are followed by the highest caliber of people. But your silly master cries, ‘Come to me, you who are down and beaten by life,’ and so he gathers the rag-tag and bob-tail of humanity.”

Origen replied: “Yes, they are the rag-tag and bobtail of humanity. But Jesus does not leave them that way. Out of material you would have thrown away as useless, he fashions people, giving them back their self-respect, enabling them to stand on their feet and look God in the eyes. They were cowed, cringing, broken things. But the Son has set them free.”

• In Jesus Christ is the message of transformation; the message that transforms us from who we are into who God wants us to be. Isaiah 54:10 declares from God, “though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,’ says the LORD, who has compassion on you.”

In the words of Paul to the Corinthians, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him.”

By faith in God’s promise, it’s time to let God be the author of the rest of your story and to let go of your fears. In the name of Jesus Christ, let it be so.


Heavenly Father, I thank You that I have been delivered from the power of darkness and transformed in the Kingdom of Your Son Jesus Christ. I surrender my fears and worries to You – for the power of Your Spirit has freed me from the law of sin and death. You care for me affectionately and care about me watchfully. You sustain me and cast out my fears so that Your power and grace will glow within me, and those I touch will find strength in You.

Thank You, Heavenly Father, for keeping that which I have committed to You. By the blood of Jesus Christ, I am free to walk in that peace which passes all understanding. In the name of Jesus Christ my Lord, I pray. Amen.