February 11, 2011
What's the Plan?
"'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'" (Jeremiah 29:11, NIV).
Friend To Friend
I have come to the conclusion that many of our problems stem from the fact that we are not prepared to run the race of life. Some people are not even sure what kind of race they are in and wonder where the finish line is or if there really is a finish line. It seems that we are busier than we have ever been but accomplishing less and experiencing fewer successes than ever before. Stephen Wright says, "I think God is going to come down and pull civilization over for speeding." Can you relate?
I believe Christians should be goal-oriented and focused people. Setting goals is not about what I want to do with my life as much as it is what God wants to do in and through my life. Someone once said that goals are the "rudder of our lives, and God's wisdom is the wind filling the sails." Should Christians make plans and set goals in life? Absolutely! Is goal planning Biblical? Yes! In fact, we were created in response to God's plan. Psalm 139:13 says God created our "inmost being" and "knit" us together in our mother's womb. We were created for a reason and God has a specific plan for each one of us.
God has always had plans and has set goals according to those plans. God created the world with a plan in mind. Can you imagine the bedlam creation would have caused if God had not had a set plan and goal? Part of God's plan is for each of us to have a personal relationship with Him. The forgiveness of our sin is part of God's plan. When Jesus came to earth, it was again part of God's plan as were His life, death, burial and resurrection. God does not ordain chaos and is a God of order and peace - not confusion and turmoil. He wants us to live with purpose and joy and that means we must learn how to plan and set goals that please Him and line up with His Word. Fitzhugh Dodson said, "Without goals, and plans to reach them, you are like a ship that has set sail with no destination."
I have a friend who believes that setting goals is a worldly and unspiritual habit. She has no real schedule to speak of, makes no concrete plans and sets no goals. In other words, she aims at nothing. Why? She says that she wants to be free to do what God tells her to do. She prays before making the smallest decision. That concept sounds very right and very spiritual, doesn't it? Prayer is definitely an essential part of setting life goals and plans but my friend has taken this concept to a whole new level - one I believe to be dangerous. She prays about whether she should go to work or church, clean her house, pay her bills, buy groceries, pick up her mail ... you get the idea. There are a couple of problems with her way of thinking and living.
First, she is basing the leadership of God in her life on her feelings. We cannot always trust feelings because they are fickle and can easily change with each circumstance. If Jesus Christ had based His life on feelings, He would never have gone to the cross. In the garden, Jesus prayed and asked if "this cup could pass from Me" (Matthew 26). He did not feel like being crucified but He knew it was God's plan and purpose for His life - and so He chose to endure Calvary. If Jesus had based His plans on feelings, He would never have let one of His best friends, Lazarus, die; but He did, because there was a higher plan in place. When Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, God received more glory than He would have if Jesus had only healed His friend. We must learn to plan and set goals instead of relying upon feelings to guide us through life.
Second, my friend assumes that God does not lead us to plan or set goals. The apostle Paul constantly made ministry plans as did Jesus Christ and His disciples. Jesus planned to go through Samaria where He met the woman at the well. Paul planned trips to the various churches he served. In fact, the Bible is filled with accounts of men and women who made plans as God led them.
I have another friend who religiously follows her daily list of things to do to the point that if it is not on the list then it is not of God and it is not going to happen. Having a rigid and inflexible set of plans or goals is just as wrong as having no plans or goals at all. God not only gave us a mind to use but a heart as well. Some people live as if they are omniscient when setting goals and making plans.
Only God is omniscient and has our tomorrows under control. Matthew 6:34 says, "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." My friend who makes no plans and sets no goals uses this verse to substantiate her position when the opposite is true. We do not have to worry about tomorrow because we are living according to God's plan and purpose reflected in our plans and goals today.
Setting goals is serious business. We should not be so anxious about life that we make rigid plans which are beyond our capacity to keep, nor should we be so lazy that we make no plans at all. The balance is found when we truly and humbly seek God and His plan and then step out in obedience to make our life goals a reality.
Father, I need Your direction and guidance in my life. I really want to do what You created me to do. Show me the steps I need to take in order to walk in obedience and faith and then give me the strength to take those steps.
In Jesus' name,
Now It's Your Turn
Take the time this week to review and evaluate 2010. What goals did you achieve? Record your answer in your journal.
Read Isaiah 30:1: "Woe to the obstinate children," declares the LORD, "to those who carry out plans that are not mine; forming an alliance, but not by my Spirit, heaping sin upon sin." What does this verse say about the importance of seeking God's plan for your life?
Read Psalm 20:4: "May he (God) give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed." According to this verse, what is the relationship between the desires of your heart and successful plans?
More From The Girlfriends
I know you have heard the statement, "If you aim at nothing you will hit it every time." If you want to be successful, seek God's plans and goals for your life.
Mary's Bible Study, Take This Job and Love It offers six principles from the life of the Proverbs 31 woman that will help you be successful in your work, no matter where you work or what your job may be. Study guide included.
It's not too late to enroll in Mary's weekly online Bible Study, Light for the Journey, and have access to all of 2011 studies. The current topic is How to Handle Hurt. We will experience pain and hurt but we can learn how to handle the hurt in a way that honors God and assures a life of victory.
Click here to find out more about
how to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Click here to learn more about hosting a Girlfriends in God conference in your area or having one of the GiGs speak at your next women's event.