Tuesday, July 5, 2016

God first — in planning and in doing



Christians are often told that we must do the Lord’s work the Lord’s way. I’ve observed that this advice is often ignored, both in doing the Lord’s work or any other kind of work. Many get caught up in the world’s motives and methods.

First of all, everything we do is supposed to be under the direction of God and for His glory. All of life belongs to Him. This is easy to say but more difficult to remember — even the most ordinary activities of life are for God.

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. (1 Corinthians 10:31)

Every morning my to-do list waits for me to act. I’m not to jump right in, even though I think I know what to do and how to do it, yet I often take that jump. Today, Chambers focuses on planning that to-do list and his topic is big elbow nudge from the Lord. He says even planning the to-do list must be with His direction. These verses do the nudging:
Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act. (Psalm 37:5)
Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established. (Proverbs 16:3)
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. (Proverbs 3:5–6)
Chambers says the obvious: Don’t calculate without God, but I’ve done it far too often. First, I just forget Him, which is bad enough. I also think I am able to make and carry out my own plans, another mark of self-centeredness. Too often only failure gets me thinking about prayer and seeking His direction.

However, at times I’m asking Him for a good route home in rush hour, or what to say when the doorbell rings. God is in the details of life and I want to trust Him with every little one of them.

Yet some think it is impertinent to rely on God in the practical issues of life. One Christian friend insists that we should not ask God for help with everything because, “He gave me a brain and expects me to use it.” I don’t know what God is doing in His life, but when I think that way, He brings me up short by showing me that my brain is not as reliable as I thought it was. As Chambers says, I cannot reserve Sunday for God and the other six days for me.

Chambers also says not to plan with evil in view. That is, I’m not to calculate my to-do list thinking about all the ‘what if’s’ and things that could go wrong. This is almost always done in business, but Christians also come up with Plan B, just in case.

God says that if we trust Him and live a life of love, then we will not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoice with the truth. (1 Corinthians 13:6) Chambers says this includes not taking evil into account — as if God is not going to take us through Plan A, assuming of course that I relied on Him to give me Plan A in the first place. This is not ignoring evil. It is following His plans but continually taking into account all the negative things that could go wrong. Such worrying puts me outside of relying on God.

I’m thinking about a rainy day fund. It could be okay if God says to make that provision, but it would not be okay if it came from worry and lack of faith . . .
“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. (John 14:1)
Chambers says if I am trusting Jesus, I cannot lay up for a rainy day, but I can if He tells me to. What the Lord is saying here is to not let my heart be troubled and let that state of mind govern my actions. Being motivated by worry is supposed to lead to prayer and peace . . .
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6–7)
Putting God first in making plans does not guarantee a trouble-free life. Instead, it is relying on my all-knowing, loving Life-Coach whose planning is far superior than mine. If left on my own, I’d wind up in trouble, but His goal is to bring me into a deeper relationship with Him through trouble if need be, and to transform me into the image of His Son.

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