A friend of mine recently called me to invite my wife and I to go somewhere with him. I said, “Sure! We’d love to.” He paused for a moment, then nervously asked, “Are you going to check with your wife first to make sure she doesn’t have any plans for y’all?” It was a good question with much wisdom behind it. I was about to make plans without checking with her first, much like many of us make life changing plans without asking God.
A friend of mine recently asked on Facebook, “Where in Scripture does God, or any of His prophets, tell us to follow our dreams?” Many people attempted to put verses from the Bible in there, but none could give one. His point was that we’ve become people who teach our kids to follow their dreams and to become anything they want, but we haven’t taught them to ask God what plans and dreams He has for their life.
There’s a saying that’s been changed through the ages, but the current one says, “If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans.” Too many times, we are making plans and telling God our plans without consulting Him first. Proverbs 16:1 says, “Mortals make elaborate plans, but God has the last word” (MSG). So many of my plans in life have changed because God’s plan overruled my plan. Thank God too because His plan is much better.
If the plans you’ve made for your life are falling through, don’t despair. Pray and seek God for what His plans are for you. Jeremiah 29:11 says, “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord” (NLT). God knows the plans He has for each one of us. It’s time we stopped what we were doing and asked for His plans. Until then, our plans will continue to fail. Trust me. I’ve been there and have had to start over a few times. It’s better when we ask for His plans. They’re more elaborate than ours.
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Throwback Thursday is a feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other writing ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.
Do you know someone that just rubs you the wrong way? Every time you meet, you clash. It seems like every time you’re around each other, they bring out the worst in you. Then there are others you come into contact with who seem to make you want to be a better person. You have long, deep, conversations about things. They ask questions that keep you thinking for days. You can’t wait to be near them because they bring out the best side of you. I think it’s good to have both types in your life. I know it sounds crazy, but even the people who seem to bring out the worst in you can help you be a better person.
The people who bring out the worst in me reveal my rough edges. They show me the side of me that I work hard at covering up. When that side of me flares up, it’s a reminder that it’s still there and that I still have work to do. We all have rough edges in our lives that need smoothing out. When a piece of wood is rough, we don’t hold back the sandpaper. We apply it because we know that wherever it is applied will even be smooth. When a knife is dull, we don’t throw it away. We apply it to a whetstone or a grinding stone in order to make the edges sharp. Relationships, the good ones and the difficult ones, can have that same affect on you.
Proverbs 27:17 says, “It takes a grinding wheel to sharpen a blade, and so one person sharpens the character of another” (TPT). One of the things I pray often is, “God, put the right relationships in my life who will help me to be who you’ve called me to be, and take out the ones who don’t.” God is able to use relationships to smooth out our edges and to make us sharper people so we can fulfill our purpose. If you’re around people who seem to bring out the worst in you, ask God to use them to make you better or to help you break away from that relationship. We all have room for improvement in becoming more like Christ. Some relationships require you to end them so you can improve, and others will be used to smooth out your rough edges. Seek God’s wisdom for what to do in those relationships in your life and keep seeking to be sharp.
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Several years ago the Lord spoke a simple word to me while I was praying. He said, “Prepare.” I replied, “Prepare for what?” Again, all I heard was, “Prepare.” I said, “Lord, if I’m going to prepare, I need to know what to prepare for.” For the third time, He said, “Prepare.” I had breakfast coming up with a pastor friend. I couldn’t wait to discuss what I heard. After our pleasantries, he said, “You know what I heard God say to me the other night? Prepare.” I told him I had heard the same thing. We began to discuss what it meant, but agreed we needed to each spend more time in prayer, in reading the Bible and in holding each other accountable to it.
Preparing is a necessary process in almost everything in life that’s worth anything. The greater the task, the greater the preparation. Think about taking a test. The more significant the test, the greater amount of time you spent preparing for it. Most of the time you had an idea of what could be on the test, but you weren’t sure what the questions were going to be. You needed to prepare for them to ask you anything. Life with God is a lot like that. We need to be prepared to be used in whatever situation He chooses to use us in. 1 Peter 3:15 tells us to always be ready to give an answer for the hope that lies within us. The on,y way to constantly be ready is to prepare ahead of time what you will say.
Proverbs 24:27 says, “Do your planning and prepare your fields before building your house” (NLT). Too often we try to get the cart before the horse. We want the payoff without going through the process, but God’s plan is that you and I prepare for the greater things He has for us by being faithful in the small things. If you’re looking ahead to where God has promised to take you, take time each day to do the little things that will prepare you for that place. This proverb us to plan and prepare how we will be sustained once we get there rather than to focus on how we will stay there. God’s process always involves sowing first and then reaping later. If He’s being slow in keeping His promises, ask Him to tell you what He wants you to do today to prepare for your future.
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One of the things I love to do is to go to the beach. To me there’s something fun about going in up to my waist where the waves are crashing and leaning into them. I start off feeling like I could fight them all day, but after a while, they just keep coming and I get wore out. I’ve had it happen before where I’ve lost my footing. When I would try to get up, a wave would knock me back. Then I get into this cycle of not being able to get back up, and I have to switch into survival mode. The good news is that I’m close to shore and if I can time it right, I can get back up and breathe because it’s not very deep.
We all like to think we are resilient with the ability to bounce back. Life sometimes looks at that determination and says, “Challenge accepted!” None of us are exempt from tragedy, death, sickness, loss of a job, emotional pain, disappointment or devastation. We sometimes get hit over and over with things and have to switch into survival mode. There are times when it feels easier to stay down than to try to get back up, but we can’t stay down. Life is about getting back up. Christianity is about doing it with God’s strength rather than your own. He is our firm foothold in our time of desperation. He is the One who helps us get our head above water.
Proverbs 24:16 says, “For the lovers of God may suffer adversity and stumble seven times, but they will continue to rise over and over again” (TPT). God creates purpose in our suffering and has a way of working it out for our good. When we get back up from being knocked down, we show that our faith is stronger than what gets thrown at us. People also find hope and healing from their situations when they see that someone else survived disaster. By being resilient and getting back up, we show our faith isn’t based on circumstances. The same God who makes you lie down in green pastures and leads you beside the still waters, is the same God who walks with you through the valley of the shadow of death. Don’t stay knocked down by what you’re going through. God is your firm footing and will help you bounce back.
Photo by Joshua Earle on Unsplash