A Different Plan

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2 Timothy 4:9-18

When he wrote to timothy, the apostle Paul was in prison, where he experienced physical discomfort, personal attack, and desertion.

For what reason would the Lord allow one of His most faithful servants to endure such suffering?

Why didn’t He step in and protect him?

At times God doesn’t pull us out of hard situations, because He has a different plan.

We may feel as if He’s abandoning us, but in reality, He is protecting us—not by deliverance but through strengthening.

When trouble and pain pay us a visit, we should seek to view the situation from God’s perspective, by asking ourselves these questions:

• Which is a greater demonstration of the Lord’s power—changing something around me or changing something within my heart? 

• Which is the greater faith builder—seeing God’s deliverance from every difficulty or experiencing His presence and strengthening in the midst of trials? 

• Which reward is greater—immediate relief from discomfort or tested and refined faith that will result in praise and glory when Christ returns (1 Peter 1:7)? 

• Which answer to prayer is greater—that God has removed something and given me external peace, or that He’s left me in a trial and given an internal peace that nothing can steal, not even my circumstances?

Does God have to fix something for you to be happy?

He removes the situation, you may never learn that He is sufficient for everything you need.

Instead, let Him change you, and you’ll discover His joy in whatever circumstance comes your way.

The Spiritual Fruit of Patience…

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Colossians 3:12-17

12 Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;
13 Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.
14 And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.
15 Let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.
16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.
17 And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.

Patience, or a lack of it, spills over into every aspect of our life.

For example, when you’re waiting for an elevator that doesn’t come quickly, do you repeatedly push the button? Or if you’re stuck in a grocery line that’s not moving, do you wait calmly or inwardly grumble about how poorly managed the store is?

Although to some degree our temperaments may determine our ability to wait, the kind of patience God wants Christians to have is that which is produced by the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23).

Apart from Him, we will naturally become impatient when people frustrate us or circumstances aren’t to our liking.

The spiritual fruit of patience allows us to say, I’m willing to let go of immediate gratification and wait for the Lord to supply.

 It’s an inner quietness and trust that comes from God alone. This doesn’t mean we’ll never feel pressure or stress, but when we release our expectations to the Lord, He will calm our heart and mind.

David understood this. While waiting to become king, he had several opportunities to kill Saul, the nation’s current ruler. By refusing to take advantage of the situation, David demonstrated patience and faith in God’s timing (1 Samuel 24:10-11; 1 Samuel 26:10-11).

Patience is a matter of trust in God.

Are you willing to release your expectations for both the small and large events in your life? Can you acknowledge that the Lord’s timing is more trustworthy than your own?

If so, you’re on your way to being a truly patient person

Are you too busy ?

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Psalms 143:5-12 (KJV)

5I remember the days of old; I meditate on all thy works; I muse on the work of thy hands.
I stretch forth my hands unto thee: my soul thirsteth after thee, as a thirsty land. Selah.
Hear me speedily, O Lord: my spirit faileth: hide not thy face from me, lest I be like unto them that go down into the pit.
Cause me to hear thy lovingkindness in the morning; for in thee do I trust: cause me to know the way wherein I should walk; for I lift up my soul unto thee.
Deliver me, O Lord, from mine enemies: I flee unto thee to hide me.
10 Teach me to do thy will; for thou art my God: thy spirit is good; lead me into the land of uprightness.
11 Quicken me, O Lord, for thy name’s sake: for thy righteousness’ sake bring my soul out of trouble.
12 And of thy mercy cut off mine enemies, and destroy all them that afflict my soul: for I am thy servant.

What do you think about when you wake up?

Are your thoughts instantly focused on the day ahead, or are they centered on the Lord?

Although most of us have busy lives that consume much of our time and attention, the most important and time-saving part of each day is that spent in quiet solitude with God.

Yet many believers feel so rushed that they don’t think there’s time for the Lord.

They immediately jump onto the treadmill of life and then wonder why they’re so frustrated, confused, and dissatisfied.

Even if their desire is to follow God, they don’t know where He’s going since they haven’t stopped to get directions for the day.

There’s also a disconnect because they’ve ignored their relationship with Him.

No one can have intimacy with Christ without daily communication.

Perhaps the problem is our own human logic. We think spending time reading the Bible and praying each morning will result in having less time and lower productivity.

However, when we seek Christ’s direction and wisdom for the day and invite Him to control our lives,

He’ll accomplish more through us than we can do by ourselves. He’ll give us wisdom for good decisions, increase our strength and energy, and free us from time-wasting anxiety.

Are you too busy for the Lord?

If so, you’re denying yourself the blessing of an intimate relationship with Christ.

When you make time for Him, He’ll fill you with peace and joy, guide your decisions, grant you wisdom, empower you to obey, make you more productive, and comfort you with His love.

The Most Central Element…

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1 Peter 1:3-9 (KJV)

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you,
Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations:
That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:
Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory:
Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.

Faith is perhaps the most central element in the Christian life because it is the means by which we enter into salvation.

But that’s only the beginning.

From then onward, our faith–or lack of it–shapes our lives and determines what happens to us when the winds of adversity blow. Some Christians never lose their footing even in hurricane-force winds, but others are toppled by the slightest gust.

To understand why this is true, we need to examine the source of our faith.

Inherited faith:

If you grew up in a Christian home, you probably adopted some of the beliefs of your parents. This kind of godly foundation is a wonderful gift from the Lord, but eventually, each person must assume responsibility for his own beliefs.

Textbook faith:

The Bible is the ultimate guide for establishing our beliefs. But that’s not the only source of influence. Books, preachers, teachers, and friends all impact our convictions. Our theology may in fact be sound, but faith is merely mental acceptance until it’s put to the test.

Proven Faith:

Only when we trust the Lord through the fires of adversity will we have faith that can stand. It is no longer based on what others have told us or what we’ve accepted as true but on our firsthand experience of His faithfulness.

To evaluate your faith, consider how you react to adversity.

Do you cling to the Lord or get angry at Him?

Is your attitude one of rejoicing because He’s making you more like His Son, or are you bitter?

No one can escape adversity, but those with proven faith will benefit from it.

God’s Love, Power, and Provision…

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Philippians 4:19 (KJV)

19 But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

Jim saved for a long time to take an Alaskan cruise.

At last he was on board with two carefully packed suitcases. The first evening, when he heard “Dinner is served” announced over the loudspeaker, he took peanut butter crackers from his suitcase and sat at the table in his small cabin.

Every day at mealtime, he repeated the ritual.

It wasn’t that Jim didn’t like the ship’s tasty banquets. He simply didn’t know that his meals were included in the price of the ticket.

For two weeks he enjoyed beautiful scenery off the decks but ate dry, stale food in his cabin.

This sad story is a metaphor for how some believers live the Christian life.

God has promised to meet every need of His children—His riches are included in the price

Christ paid for their salvation (Eph. 1:18). Yet many folks are trying to live out of their own resources.

They don’t know that the wealth of God’s love, power, and provision is on their menu.

The Emotional Prisons…

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John 8:31-36 (KJV)

31Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed;
32 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
33They answered him, We be Abraham’s seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free?
34Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin.
35 And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever.
36 If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.

Freedom is something we all love, but do we really know what it is?

Some people think it’s being able to choose or act with few if any restraints, limits, or accountabilities.

But that is what God calls rebellion because it’s a rejection of authority, as each one does as he sees fit (1 Samuel 12:14-15).

True freedom is being released from bondage to sin, and that is only possible through Jesus Christ.

The first step to freedom is recognizing areas where we are imprisoned.

People who have not received Christ as Savior are in bondage to sin and unbelief.

They can neither believe God nor trust the promises of Scripture because sin has blinded their eyes to the truth that they need a Savior.

Even followers of Christ can find themselves in bondage to particular sins despite repeated attempts to change.

But for some of us, the struggle is with more subtle kinds of enslavement.

Habitual feelings of inferiority, insecurity, rejection, or worthlessness can cloud our responses to life’s challenges by altering our ability to think or act while undermining our trust and obedience to God. 

The Lord wants us walking in freedom, and Jesus describes the pathway.

He says that if we’ll continue in God’s Word, we will know the truth, and it will set us free (John 8:31-32).

First of all, we are liberated from sin and its condemnation through faith in Christ.

Then, as we continue reading and meditating on Scripture, our mind, will, and emotions will be changed.

The sins that once enticed us will become repugnant, and the emotional prisons will be opened as we discover our position in Christ

Aligning Ourselves With God’s Intentions…

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Galatians 5:13 (KJV)

13 For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.

God has a purpose for your life.

If that weren’t true, He’d have taken you home to heaven at the moment of salvation.

Do you ever wonder why He left you here?

The Lord intends to influence others through you.

Our purpose is to be a vessel through which Christ overflows to others–touching those who hurt and desperately need a Savior.

Once we are saved, Scripture teaches, our involvement is threefold.

First, we love others.

Jesus clearly stated that this was one of the two greatest commandments (Matt. 22:38-39).

Second, we share the good news of salvation (Acts 1:8).

Some travel across the world to spread the gospel, while others teach neighbors across the street.

The Holy Spirit will direct us to the right people if we are willing to obey.

Third, we serve in a variety of ways, like helping those in need, sharing our resources, and lifting others in prayer.

Jesus is our perfect example of all three. His entire life was marked by caring for people–both those who loved Him and those who did not. In fact, the Bible teaches that He humbled Himself and became like us, willing to give up His life for our redemption.

There is no greater love; there is no greater act of service.

Scripture clearly defines the believer’s purpose. Aligning ourselves with God’s intentions for His children–loving others, witnessing, and serving– bring us great satisfaction.

In fact, we’re still on earth not merely to hear more teaching but to act on it and share with others what we learn.

The Heartache of Disobedience…

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Psalms 37:1-9 (KJV)

1 Fret not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity.

2 For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb.

3Trust in the Lord, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed.verily: Heb. in truth, or, stableness

4Delight thyself also in the Lord; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.

5Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.Commit…: Heb. Roll thy way upon

6And he shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday.

7Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass.Rest in: Heb. Be silent to

8Cease from anger, and forsake wrath: fret not thyself in any wise to do evil.

9For evildoers shall be cut off: but those that wait upon the Lord, they shall inherit the earth.

 Waiting on God is an important spiritual discipline in our walk of faith.

King David’s life teaches us about the value of following the Lord’s plan and the danger in moving ahead of Him.

When David was a young shepherd boy, the prophet Samuel anointed him as Israel’s next king. Yet he did not become the ruler for many years.

Waiting for the Lord to place him on the throne was made more difficult because the current king, Saul, turned against David and repeatedly tried to take his life. Despite the opportunity to take matters into his own hands and kill his enemy, David held back. He wouldn’t allow anyone else to attack Saul either (1 Sam. 24:1-7).

He waited on God and was greatly blessed for his obedience.

King David also knew what it was like to move ahead without the Lord. One year he chose not to join his troops in battle, even though that was one of his duties (2 Sam. 11:1). During the time he stayed home, he noticed Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah, and he coveted her.

Acting upon his desires, he conceived a child with her and then tried to cover up his sin.

What a mess he made of his life. Instead of following the Lord’s plan and being blessed, he experienced divine chastisement and much heartache.

As believers, we want to obey the Lord, but there may be situations when intense desire propels us forward without waiting for His direction. Like David, we will experience the blessing of obedience or the heartache of disobedience.

Be sure to seek out God’s plan before you act.

 

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