Our plans vs. God’s plans

Farmville Enterprise May 2, 2018

In a Bible Study on Romans someone brought up the fact that at times God does things differently than the way would choose to do them. From a human standpoint it might seem that the Apostle Paul would have been best equipped and the logical choice to minister to Jewish people. After all, Paul was educated under Rabban Gamaliel, a Pharisee doctor of Jewish law who was held in high esteem by most Hebrews. Paul’s credentials as a Jew were impeccable. He wrote, “If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless. But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things.” (Philippians 3:5-8)

Despite these deep connections with the Hebrews Paul was led by God to minister mainly to the Gentiles. The Apostle Peter first preached the gospel to the Gentiles but ministered primarily to the Jews in Jerusalem.

At times we can be audacious enough to think that God could use our advice and that our plans would be better than His. Especially for us who have Type A personalities, we like to believe that we can map out the ideal future for ourselves and our family members including the steps along the way. We even might make the mistake of praying as if God would benefit from our problem-solving abilities. God does not need our help or advice. He often does not act in ways that fit our preconceived molds but always remains true to His nature. Our Triune God is all-loving, all-knowing, all-just, all-powerful, and all-present but the ways He chooses to use us in this world can be surprising and often delightfully so. While the Bible encourages us to plan and to pray about our plans, it also shows that we should remain flexible. “In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.” (Proverbs 16:9)

The early disciples, faithful followers of Christ, experienced changes to their plans even on missionary journeys. “Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia. When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to.” (Acts 16:7)

There are many noble and godly causes needing workers but each Christian is not called to help with every effort. God’s calling to each individual is specific and can be out of the ordinary. It is important for us to practice spiritual disciplines such as personal Bible Study and prayer so that we will be attuned to the way the Holy Spirit is guiding us. God knows the big picture; our vision is limited. Living in faith requires that we daily and intentionally seek God’s guidance while understanding that He is so much more gracious and kind than we could ever imagine. “’For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’
declares the Lord.  ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.’” (Isaiah 55:8-9)

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