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God Planner

"And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?..." Acts 9: 6A

Happy New Year! 2017 is here and ready or not, we are moving through life's journey on a trip we go on only once. So, let's make the most of it! The way to make the most of anything is to put God right in the middle of it. The wonderful Christmas scenery in the church sanctuary reminded us that the ordinary becomes extraordinary when Jesus arrives. My oh my, how things change when Jesus comes around. A smelly barn stable and a hay filled cattle trough became the throne of grace when the King of Kings and Lord of Lords appeared. I hope you are excited about 2017 and that you are not going to quit pursuing any worthwhile endeavor that honors God. God doesn't like quitters because he knows quitters never win and winners never quit. God has never given up on us, so let's embrace the new year with much spiritual gusto, expecting to see God do much for His glory and allowing us to celebrate the gift of faith He has entrusted with His people. Not only should Christians be able to handle life, Christians should be more than conquerors, because Christians have access to the creator of this world and universe. The Lord is my Shepherd is probably the most profound statement in all of scripture! The God of glory and of grace, who loves us with an everlasting love is our shepherd, our guide and protector too. So, to make the most of 2017, let's prepare to follow our Lord Jesus Christ, our Savior and Redeemer. In other words, let's approach the new year, really each day of the new year, in a way so that we realize this year, this day, is God's plan for us.

Instead of getting a "Day Planner" for our busy schedules for 2017, consider a God Planner this year. Really, bringing in the new year is waking up to a world of unknown plans prepared by God for us to become acquainted with. Why don't we utilize God's plan for the new year and each day? Since He knows the end from the beginning anyway, He is in a much better position to lay out the best plan for His glory and our good. Life gets pretty tough when we place our plans in front of God's. That's about like the tail trying to wag the dog! Please know that God also has a plan for 2017 and if you're still living on Earth, you are a part of His plan here. Even when things are going pretty rough for you, God has it all planned out. For example, when God's people were in captivity in the Old Testament times of the Babylonian captivity, God reminded them to refer to their God Planner.

"For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end." Jeremiah 29:11

Anne Frank, in her book "The Diary of Anne Frank" which is about her and her family's experiences during the Holocaust, said "I can feel the sufferings of millions, and yet, if I look into the heavens, I think it will come out right. What enabled Anne Frank to face the hardships of life was her faith and reverence to her "God Planner."

The older I get, the faster time seems to go by. That makes me think of a cross stitch slogan my grandmother had on her wall which said, "Only one life soon will be past, only what's done for Christ will last." As Christians, God has put eternity in our hearts so we want to do for Christ all we can, while we can. That is our response to grace, just as the Apostle Paul responded "Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?" Those eight words are the combination key number necessary to open 2017 and to live each day with a clear objective and passion for allowing God to work His plan in the new year and each day of our lives on Earth. There is something fresh and new about the beginning of a new year and really, about beginning each day. As we desire for God's will to be done, we realize that there is no place more splendid than being in God's will and that being in God's will means God's plans are more important than our plans, and we understand that. Instead of New Year's resolutions, why not make use of a God Planner to create a revolution Saul of Tarsus became the Apostle Paul when he found his God Planner on Damascus Road. Paul was serious when he said, "Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?" and God had a lot for him to do, including writing more of the New Testament than any other writer. Paul surely must have lived by his God planner as he experienced prison, infirmities, and whippings because he wrote Romans 8:28.

"And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose." Romans 8:28

It would make no sense for God to save us and call us, and not have a plan for us. A happy new year is being able to realize that everything that comes into our lives, God causes or allows. In other words, we'll be much better off acknowledging that God is in control than we would be to "kick against the pricks." Whether or not we use our God Planner will not change God's plan one bit. However, living by the master design will result in many blessings we would have missed. Here are three spiritual planner exercises that should help us shape up before we ship out.

First, Stretch Your Heart. You won't believe this, but as I was thinking what I might write pertaining to stretching our heart, I received a text from my daughter Ashley. The text read: "Thank you Lord for another day to spread your love! Love you dad." That's it; a heart stretched holds more love and the purpose for having God's love is to spread it. The darkness and pain my daughter has experienced would be unbearable for her and me without a God Planner. Sometimes God sends sorrow into our lives in order to stretch our hearts so that we can hold more blessings.

When we stretch our hearts, we celebrate our faith. And since faith pleases God, we should expect God's plan for us in 2017 to consist of some mountain top successes and some low valley failures. How are we going to appreciate God being both the God of the mountains and the God of the valleys, except we experience them both. God's plan for us is that we love Him with all our heart. To love God means we follow Jesus and we submit to Him and His plan for us. Now remember, God's ways and our ways are not the same.

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord." Isaiah 55:8

Let's get our priorities straight this year. That means we ought to follow God rather than expect God to follow us. After all, Jesus teaches in the model prayer "Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done." That sounds like God must have a plan bigger than mine and yours.

Living by our God Planner doesn't mean that we don't make plans or have goals. The scripture and wisdom are clear that we should plan and prepare to be good stewards of what God has entrusted us with, whether that be spiritual or material blessings. When God gives you a passion for something, He gives it to stretch your heart. So, whatever God places on your heart this year, do it with all your might for His glory. But if you are disappointed, remember that our disappointments are often God's appointments. Ruth Graham, wife of Billy Graham said, “Thank you God for not letting me marry the first two men I thought I wanted to marry.” So, use your God Planner this year as you do all you do with all your might as long as it is within the boundaries of God's word, realizing that God can override your plans.

"For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that." James 4:15

Second, Tuck In Your Wants. It's real important that we know the difference between what we want and what we need. The Great Shepherd of our souls has decreed to provide all our needs. God, though, has not promised to give us everything we want. Knowing that we need God is a great way to start off the new year. We can be sure that God's plan for us this year will provide many opportunities to deny our selfish wants. John Piper said that "God is most glorified when we are most satisfied with Him." And, since God's word says that "godliness with contentment is great gain," we can be sure His calendar will include situations which will test our "tucking in."

The born again believer has been purchased by the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus has redeemed us, he has purchased our souls, we are His. There is no need to fake it, he is the potter, we are the clay and God's mission statement for us is that we are being conformed to the image of Jesus Christ, who was not concerned about what he wanted, but what the father wanted. A servant lives by the master's plan and so should every believer. God made us, and He bought us, we are His; and we will live with Him forever in Heaven! That should refresh our spirit with the Holy Spirit and enable us to start the new year off right. What better situation could we want, knowing that God knows what we need and has planned it for us.

Third, Push Through Your Problems. No doubt about it; problems are in the plans God has for us this year.

"...In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world." John 16:33b

The problem is not the problem. The problem is our attitude about the problem. When we see our problems as a part of God's will for us, or as catalysts to create a deeper dependence on God, we are in a position to benefit from life's bashes and to live out a plan of Grace. There is no better way to start the new year and each day for that matter, than by realizing we need God. A fresh awareness of God's hand at work in our hearts and lives assures us of receiving every aspect of life as a blessing from God and comforts us as we respond with reverence to His plan and control of our days.

This year, each day, set aside a chunk of time that is just for God. Set aside a moment of genuine communication with Him, not just a quick prayer of thanks. I once asked a couple celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary what the key to their marital bliss was. The couple answered, "We were always able to talk about everything." The same is true with our relationship to God. This poem by an unknown author tells why "one moment please" is posted on each calendar day of the God Planner.

          We mutter and sputter.
          We fume and we spurt.
          We mumble and grumble.
          Our feelings get hurt.
          We can't understand things.
          Our vision grows dim.
          When all that we need is
          a moment with Him.

Starting each day with a holy hush before the morning rush can make the difference between a day wasted and a day well lived.

"My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O Lord; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up." Psalm 5:3

God already knows what's ahead for us this year, and we can be comforted in knowing that whatever comes, it will be for His Glory and our good. Get out your God Planner, don't let the past hinder your present, don't worry about the future and remember that our God is a God who gives but also is a God who takes away. When you're driving your car somewhere, do you wonder and quibble because the road has a curve in it or you have to stop sometimes? No, we just follow the road don't we? Likewise, begin your 2017 journey determined to live by a God Planner.

Brother Randy

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