GOD'S PLAN FOR OUR LIVES
Every athlete needs a coach to mold their talent. Medical interns need a mentor doctor to apply their knowledge to real life situations and aspiring writers need an able editor to sharpen their sentences.
We all need trainers and tutors to develop our skills. But what about life skills. Who can be our tutor for living?
Psalm 32:8 reveals the answer:
“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.”
The Lord Himself is our guide. He has designed for us a way which we should go- a life plan so to speak. And He is willing to instruct, teach and counsel us on how to follow that plan.
He doesn’t just point us in the right direction and abandons us to stumble along a lone. According to this verse, He keeps His eyes on us, watching over us throughout our journey. There is no better life guide than God.
God, Our Guide
The Lord guided and watched over prophet Jeremiah.
“The word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” Jeremiah 1:4-5
Before Jeremiah knew God, God knew Jeremiah
Jeremiah’s life didn’t start with Jeremiah.
Jeremiah’s salvation didn’t start with Jeremiah.
Jeremiah’s truth didn’t start with Jeremiah.
He entered the world in which the essential parts of his existence were already ancient history.
The same could be said of us- before we knew God, God knew us.
This realization has a practical result: We don’t have to run here and there, panicked and anxious, searching for answers to life. Our lives are not puzzles to be figured out. Rather, we come to God, who knows us and reveals to us the truth of our lives.
The fundamental mistake is to begin with ourselves and not God. God is the center from which all life develops.
If we are going to live according to God’s will, we need be aware that we are living in the middle of story that was begun and will be concluded by God.
God knows us, and more than that, He has a mission He wants us to fulfill.
I consecrated You
The Lord also tells Jeremiah, “Before you were born I consecrated you” (v.5). Consecrated to do what? God consecrated Jeremiah to join in the spiritual war and battle for souls.
“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”
There is evil and cruelty, unhappiness and illness. There is superstition and ignorance, brutality and pain. God is in continuous and energetic battle against all of it.
God is for love and against hate
God is for hope and against despair
God is for heaven and against hell
There is no neutral ground in the universe, every square foot is contested.
Jeremiah before he was born, was enlisted on God’s side in this war… He was already chosen as a soldier in God’s army. And so are we.
The implications are so great; You have a set-apart place that only you can fill. No one can substitute for you. Before we were good for anything, God decided we were good for what He was doing.
God is out to win the world in love and each person has been selected the same way that Jeremiah was, to be set apart to do it with him.
Before we were born, He chose us for His side- consecrated us.
I appointed You
God appointed Jeremiah to a specific life’s calling as a prophet. The word “appointed” is literally “gave”. I gave you as a prophet to the nations.”
Jeremiah was called to be "a prophet to the nations" (Jer. 1:5), not a priest like his father and his grandfather. A prophet was a chosen and authorized spokesman for God who declared God's Word to the people.
Jeremiah protested his calling;
“Alas, Sovereign Lord,” I said, “I do not know how to speak; I am too young.” Jeremiah 1:6
“Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the Lord. Then the Lord reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, “I have put my words in your mouth.” Jeremiah 1:8-9
Jeremiah protested God’s calling. “I am young and I don’t know how to speak.”
What are the excuses you make to avoid doing God’s work?
God has a way to overcome weakness and our insufficiencies. I have learned over the years, however, that the person most aware of his own inadequacy is usually the person most dependent on God's all-sufficiency. My inadequacy has caused me to rely upon God. His strength is made perfect in my weakness. His glory is manifested through my flaws.
Eventually Jeremiah trusted God and served in ministry.
God told Jeremiah, “I gave you away as a prophet to the nations.” Giving is an expression of God’s loving character and a vital piece of God’s created order.
God gives Himself. He also gives us away. He makes no exceptions for any of us.
We are given away to our families, to our neighbors, to our friends, to our enemies- to the nations. Our life is for others. That is the way creation works.
Some of us try desperately to hold on to ourselves, to live for ourselves. We look so pathetic doing it, afraid to risk ourselves on the untried wings of giving. We don’t think we can live generously because we have never tried it.
But the sooner we start the better, for we are going to have to give up our lives finally, and the longer we wait the less time we have for the soaring life of grace.
God brings each of us to that same place that Jeremiah clung to. As with Jeremiah, God has known, consecrated, appointed us for a particular purpose.
Someone asked, how can I follow God’s will when I can’t hear His voice?
Guidelines for Reading God’s Lips
Those who can’t hear the voice of others, learn to read their lips. We can learn to read God’s lips by following the movement of His Spirit in scripture and in our hearts. Here are five guidelines.
An Accepting Frame of Mind
Everyday a lot of sound bites compete for our attention. TV, phone, video games, newspapers, movies, bosses, noisy children. Even our inner anxieties hardly giving us a moment of peace.
Perceiving God’s message through all these noises depends on our frame of mind. Are we stressed out and distracted? Are we over busy, overtired, and overwhelmed? If so, we will lack the focus necessary to distinguish God’s guidance.
For this reason, we need to cultivate times of solitude and silence, through which we can train ourselves to slow down. Open up. Tune in to God. In other words, we need to become sensitive and skilled in reading His lips, perceptive and patient because His plans are continually unfolding. And then we need to accept His will, whatever that may be.
We already mentioned reading scripture to discern God’s will. Here are a few approaches to studying the Bible;
Using a Bible Concordance or topical reference tool. Study what the Bible says about a particular word or concept, for example suffering or prayer.
Read a Bible passage with a friend and discuss together.
Take a look at a Bible passage from different versions of the Bible to discover different things about the text.
Keep digging into scripture, meditating on it and memorizing verses so that the Spirit can illuminate your mind with God’s truth.
Remember, scripture is the ultimate filter in discerning God’s will. God will never lead us to do something that is contrary to His word.
Clarification and Conviction from the Holy Spirit
In his book, “The Mystery of God’s Will”, Chuck Swindle describes the way the Holy Spirit tugs on our hearts;
“This combination of God’s Word and God’s Spirit work within us like an inner compulsion. You’re drawn, almost as if somebody has grabbed onto your clothing and is pulling you in a certain direction…like an inner magnet, drawing you toward that goal.”
Sometimes we must be content to wait for the spirit’s pull if it doesn’t come right away. As David prayed;
“Show me your ways, Lord, teach me your paths. Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.” Psalm 25:4-5
Determine if Peace is Occurring
Another indicator of God’s will is His peace. The peace of Christ can act as a ruling agent in our decision making process. Like a green light at an intersection that signals, “All is clear. Proceed”
Expect Struggles and Surprises
Sometimes we make decisions that we believe is God’s will and suddenly a series problems appear. Disappointments, setbacks, exhausting delays. The journey is rougher now than when we started it. All these difficulties have you wondering, “Have I taken a wrong turn?”
Not necessarily. Problems are not always signs that we have missed God’s will; they could be the tool that God uses to refine our faith and shape our character.
“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” James 1:2-4
Even within the will of God, there are struggles and surprises. But we can still have peace, knowing that God is working out His plan in us.
When Jeremiah hard God speak to him, the main problem wasn’t knowing God’s will but trusting God. Perhaps like Jeremiah, you feel God nudging you out of the nest, and you have objected with a list of reasons for why you are inadequate for the call. Jeremiah said; “I am a youth.”
Our inadequacy, though, is the very thing that qualifies us to be successful. Why? Because success in doing God’s will rest with God.
Will you trust God?