Praying and planning are part and parcel of my life. It’s difficult to remember when I wasn’t praying and planning. My personal prayer life has matured over the years of seeking to understand the will of God and yield to His will as revealed in the Bible. As I have walked and prayed, studied and prayed, wept and prayed, dreamed and prayed, counseled and prayed, the Holy Spirit has brought to my mind relevant passages of Scriptures. Often so pointedly that it almost seemed as if God has just audibly spoken to me.
Once years ago, while reflecting on a challenge ahead for our church, the Lord brought to mind a passage of Scripture so strongly that I literally jumped. It’s hard to doubt when God speaks that clearly in your thoughts from the Bible.
Trusting His Word in prayerful planning has led me and the ministries I have been responsible for to some wonderful places and significant victories. It is not my intention to celebrate those achievements but instead to encourage you to know that God’s Word, as in our passage from Jeremiah, is relevant for us today.
His plan is good but it is also significant that is a plan that you have to discover and be willing to obey. Let’s reflect again on Jeremiah 29.
This is what the Lord says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place. 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. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.” Jeremiah 29:10–14, NIV
God promises a plan that assumes we will call upon him in prayer. We will seek him with all of our heart (our passion, emotion and will) and he will listen and reveal himself to us. Doesn’t that encourage you? I’m smiling again and sense His peace as I think of us reading His Word, committing the Scriptures to memory and depending upon the Holy Spirit to empower us to live out His plan as revealed in the Bible.
The plan or will of God is not something that you beg for, but you must be willing to study God’s Word and obey what you learn. It’s another reason why Bible study is so important in small groups and at church.
God has a plan for the church, the world and yes specifically for you and your family. He wants you to succeed in life! He didn’t save you to make a failure out of you! He saved you in order to give you life abundantly and to fulfill your purpose in our generation!
To know and understand His plan commit to faithfully studying the Bible daily and to being a part of a small group that study’s the Scriptures together. At Woodland Church we are blessed with many groups that study together. Some of the groups take a book of the Bible at a time like the gospel of John. Others study the Sunday morning message in greater detail verse by verse. Then others are interest oriented, like what does the Bible say about raising our children.
God is just as interested in you and your family as he is the rest of the universe he created. Remember the hummingbird and flowers from yesterday? Jesus once used a similar illustration to indicate God’s care for you! And just in case you’re reading and wondering if there really is a God with a good plan, take just a few more minutes to read this story.
For more than half a century, Antony Flew was the most noted atheist in the world … until he shocked the intellectual world in 2004 by publicly announcing that he had changed his mind and now professed faith in God. As a philosopher, Flew was always prepared to go wherever the evidence led him, which toward the end of his life led him to argue that atheism is not logical. (Prior to his death in 2010, Flew maintained his belief in God, but he never publicly confessed faith in Christ.)
In his book There Is a God, Flew reflects on an argument regarding the probability of human origin that he had to deal with in his younger days. The argument runs like this: given enough time and chance, life on planet earth could have just happened without God’s design. Researchers tried to provide an example of this “time + chance = life” theory with a well-known experiment that posed the following question: How long would it take for an infinite number of monkeys pounding on an infinite number of typewriters to compose a sonnet by Shakespeare? (Believe it or not, this argument was based on an experiment conducted by the British National Council of the Arts.)
Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias offered the following summary of the experiment:
A computer was placed in a cage with six monkeys, and after one month of hammering away at the keys … the monkeys produced fifty typed pages—but not one single word. This is amazing, considering that the shortest word in English could be a one-letter word such as the letter a or I. But a one-letter word is only a word if there is a space on either side of it.
Flew points out that if one considers that there are thirty keys on a keyboard, the possibility of getting a one-letter word is one in 30 x 30 x 20, which is one in 27,000. If these attempts could not even result in one one-letter word, what is the possibility of getting just the first line of one of Shakespeare’s sonnets, let alone a whole sonnet?
For Flew, the entire universe (which of course is infinitely more complex than a Shakespearian sonnet) couldn’t have just happened. You will never get a sonnet—or the entire works of Shakespeare, or the entire universe, for that matter—by just allowing enough time + chance. And yet, Flew (quoting a contemporary scientist) said, “Some people still contend that the monkeys can do it every time.”
Ravi Zacharias concludes, “For Flew, the sheer improbability that such an intricate design as we have in the universe is the product of mindless evolution is insurmountable; the universe must have purpose and design behind it.” This “sheer improbability” caused Flew’s arguments for atheism to crack and eventually crumble.
Ravi Zacharias, Has Christianity Failed You, pp. 52-53
Peace and Joy!