Does God Really Have A Plan For My Life?
Has this question ever crossed your mind? I am sure that many people wish they knew "why am I here?" and have posed that question to themselves countless times. We usually ask this question when something disastrous happens and shakes our world. Does God have a plan for our lives?
The unequivocal answer to the question is YES! God does have a plan for our lives!
How can I be so sure that God has a plan for our lives (yours and mine)? First of all, He has told us He does. I can hear you saying "Now, how does God tell us He has a plan for our lives, really?" The simple answer is that He wrote us a letter explaining this phenomenon, it's contained in the book we call "The Bible". The Bible has been recognized by experts, historians, philosophers and even some atheists as coming from some "higher source", we call him God. For centuries geologists and researchers have tried relentlessly to prove that the facts in the Bible are not true - they keep coming up with the same answer. They cannot disprove the facts in the Bible. So if we accept this as God's word to us than we ought to believe all of it since none of it has been proven wrong. My point here is to show that what God does say is in fact true. If we accept that one simple fact we can start to investigate what God has told us about how He designed us and most of all WHY.
He Created Us
I don't think it is a stretch to assume that we did not make ourselves so we have to admit that someone very intelligent designed the human body, mind and soul. The Bible is filled with the marvels of His creation but this verse probably summarizes about as well as any: Psa 89:11 "The heavens are yours, and yours also the earth; you founded the world and all that is in it." It simply states that He made the heavens and the earth and everything in it - you, me, animals, birds, vegetation, you get the idea, everything. If that is the case than the one that designs something knows exactly why he created it and how it is supposed to work. Let us take the example of a automobile. The manufacturer spent much time, effort and brain power to put a bunch of miscellaneous parts together that would constitute an automobile. Along with this automobile comes an owner's manual that tells us how to care for this mass of machinery so it will perform properly. We can choose to not follow the instructions and reap the consequences. For example we can say "well, it says to change the oil every six thousand miles, but I don't agree. If comes with oil in it, that's good enough for me!". If we take that attitude and don't ever change the oil we can expect to be walking instead if riding some day.
The obvious point here is that if God designed us He planned for us to do something and He told us what that something He wants for us in the Bible. I should point out here that God's original plan was for man to live in total harmony with God in an intimate relationship, being able to walk and talk with God at any moment and know His every thought. But man broke that relationship in the Garden of Eden when he allowed Satan to lie to him and do something God forbade them to do - eat the fruit of a certain tree. Seems pretty petty but that small disobedience broke a perfect relationship with our Creator. Because of this God came up with another plan for man to restore that relationship. We will look at that plan next.
Because man broke this relationship he became separated from God, we refer to the action of man that broke this relationship as sin. We have to realize that if God is God than He is perfect and unable to be unrighteous, we refer to this quality as holy. Since God is holy and man is not, God cannot have a direct relationship with man. Its like mixing oil and water. But God loved us so much and wanted to have a relationship with us so much that He provided a way to have a relationship with Him that was without sin. This plan was the sending of His Son Jesus to bridge the gap between God and man. God stated this purpose in the following verse: John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life".
Because someone sinless had to fill this gap only one sent from and part of God could fill the part. Anyone else would have had sin in his life that would not allow access to God. Jesus was the answer! He came to earth from Heaven, where He had existed since the beginning of time. The Bible tells us He was not only present at Creation but participated in it. So God sent His sinless, holy Son to earth to seek and save those that were lost. As we all know He was born as any other child and grew up like any other normal boy, with the exception that He never sinned. That means not only did He not lie, cheat or steal but He never even had an unclean thought or performed an unkind deed. No one was ever like Him and nobody ever will be sinless as He was.
He grew up to be a man who had a purpose on this earth - to bridge the gap for lost men. He knew His plan and He allowed God to work that plan out through Him. At the age of thirty having learned the Scriptures like all Jewish boys he was baptized by John and set upon His mission. He demonstrated His being God in the flesh through miracles, things only God can do. Over the next three years He would tell people why He was here and how to re-establish the relationship between God and man. Many believed and followed Him, and as He shared the plan of God with them, they realized He would have to die to pay the price for the sins of man. His life was the ransom of all. This leads us to the next part of God's plan.
The word redemption simply means to pay for. Jesus came
to pay for our sins so that we would not face the penalty for that
sin which is eternal separation from God - Rom 6:23 "For the
wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in
Christ Jesus our Lord." Because of man's sin he is separated
from God but God provided a way for us to come back into
relationship with Him through Jesus, and then even gave us a bonus
- eternal life with Him in Heaven. If we accept the payment Jesus
made, a complete gift from God, we are not only restored to an
intimate relationship with Almighty God but when we die we don't
go to Hell, we go to Heaven to enjoy His presence forever! He not
only took us back but gave us an eternal gift we can count on. The
point to get here is that all we have to do is accept the gift of
Jesus and we can expect the rest. He said it and He does not lie
so we can count on going to Heaven if we simply invite Jesus to be
our Savior and accept His gift. In other words, we cannot work our
way to Heaven because our sin gets in the way. By Jesus paying for
our sin God sees us as if we never sinned. The next part of His
plan reveals how that works.
The word justification is defined as "to be declared innocent or blameless". The Bible puts it this way: Rom 8:1 "Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus"; Rom 8:30-34 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified. What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all--how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died--more than that, who was raised to life--is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Gal 2:16 "know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified." I don't know how I could improve on that explanation only to say that not only are found innocent but God treats our sin as if it never happened. What a revelation! We don't have to live with the guilt of sin, God, through His Son Jesus, forgave and forgot the sin committed against Him. We are totally free from penalty!
Sanctification is a little harder to understand but is too important not to look at. Sanctification is defined as a separation from evil, a choice to be holy through Jesus Christ, simply put - to be a holy people. How can we be holy? In ourselves we cannot be holy. It is only through Jesus that we can attain a level of holiness. Here is what the Bible says about being sanctified or holy: 1 Th 4:3-7 "It is God's will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong his brother or take advantage of him. The Lord will punish men for all such sins, as we have already told you and warned you. For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life". 2 Th 2:13 "But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers loved by the Lord, because from the beginning God chose you to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth". Heb 12:14 "Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord". 1 Pet 1:13-16 "Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: "Be holy, because I am holy." To sum up what the Bible says is that we cannot be holy accept through Jesus Christ. With His Holy Spirit empowering us we can strive to live moral and upright lives, to be Christlike in lifestyle. That's a very high standard but we can attain it only because God provided this for us, we are to be holy because He is holy. Holiness is a process of endeavoring to "clean up" our lives as the Holy Spirit causes us to see those areas of our lives that need attention. As we do that we are "set apart" from the rest, not better, but very much different. We don't have to succumb to the evil desires of this world, we can live lives consecrated to God and have peace knowing we are living the way God intended for us.
Now, if God who designed us so magnificently, loved us enough to give us another chance through salvation - the provision of His Son; provided redemption for our transgression, our sin, through the payment on the cross; then said "I forgive you of all your sin, make you a holy people and on top of that I forget you ever committed that sin", what does He want us to do? That's next.
Spread the Good News
The good news is telling the world about Jesus through His Gospel, The Bible. God makes it very clear in His Word what we are to do. In the words of Jesus He states what our purpose is: Mat 28:18-20 "Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." The Apostle Paul stated it this way: Rom 1:16-17 "I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: "The righteous will live by faith."
He never wanted us to be separated from Him. We are not only His Creation but we are His children. He is referred to as "Our Heavenly Father". We are all part of His family, brothers and sisters, in the family of God. But, there still exists a separation between God and man because of sin for those that have not accepted the gift of God, Jesus. You see, He says: 2 Cor 5:18-21 "All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." He has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ. That means that without Jesus we are not reconciled to Him, or as stated earlier we are eternally separated from God. What is the consequence of being separated from God? Again, He has provided a way for us to communicate directly with Him and have eternal life if we accept Jesus into our lives, otherwise we are totally lost and doomed to die in our sin (we go to Hell not Heaven). God's statement of purpose is really summed up in one verse in the Bible, it is probably the most quoted and memorized verse of the Bible, it is: John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." God loves us so much He sacrificed His only Son so that we can have a relationship with Him. The "fringe benefits" of having a relationship with God is He fills us with His love (we can love others), joy (we can live knowing we are going to Heaven), and peace (we know that He will always be there for us).
So now that we have explored what God has to say about His plan for us, let's re-ask the question - "What is God's plan for me?". We have learned that He created us with an express purpose in mind, saved us from our self destructive ways so that we can further the "Good News of Jesus Christ". I know, you are asking yourself how you do that. God in His infinite wisdom created us all equal but has different plans for each of us. Let me give a light-hearted example of this aspect. Suppose you were to give everyone in your family red sweaters for Christmas. Everyone from little Johnny to Grandpa Harold gets a red sweater that year. Everyone received the same gift but obviously they are in many different sizes. That's sort of how God's plan works. He gave us all the same gift, but each of us has an individual plan for that gift.
How do I know what my individual plan is?, you're saying. All we have to do is ask Him, God. We do this through prayer. How does God speak to me, you're thinking. He speaks to us through His Holy Spirit. This is how God communicates with those that are in a right relationship with Him. Because of Jesus' bridging the gap for us we can go directly to God and ask Him to reveal His master plan for us. Don't expect a booming voice out of Heaven to shout down at you what He wants for you to do. Through our prayers and seeking Him He reveals His plan, but we must be totally surrendered to Him for this to happen. If we keep thinking we have "The Plan" He will not be able to get "His Plan" to us. We must submit to Him and allow Him to work in our lives. This generally happens as a process. As we ask and seek He arranges our thoughts and actions to point us in the right direction. We may start off with just taking a dinner to a sick friend or neighbor. Maybe it is working in the food bank or volunteering at the hospital. It could be serving the church by working in the nursery or teaching a Sunday school class. He starts us one place and keeps moving us to others as we are needed. No job is more important than another, just different. As we grow in His ways He moves us into more demanding positions, so we can grow more. As we do this we experience joy, love and peace - the fruits of the spirit. We exercise our faith by loving those with the love of Christ, creating joy in their lives and causing them to feel the peace of God. God does His work here on earth through us, His children. As we seek His direction for our lives His work gets done through us - His plan for our lives is lived out.
In closing, I would like to encourage you to seek God's plan for your life. The first step is to admit you have sinned and fallen short of God's plan for you, then accept His gift of salvation, Jesus Christ, into your life, thanking Him for providing a way back, then pray and ask God to put you to work in His Kingdom here on earth. He says if we ask He will answer because God is a man of His promises. Then and only then can you know God's plan for your life.
If you have not asked Jesus into your life, you can do it now by very simply asking Him. He does not force Himself into your life, you must invite Him to come and live in you. If you ask, He will come. You can pray this pray from your heart to ask Jesus to save you:
Dear Heavenly Father, I admit I have sinned and separated myself from You. I repent of that sin now and ask Your forgiveness. I thank You for the gift of Your Son, Jesus, and the price He paid for me. Right now I ask You, Jesus, to come into my life to save me and renew me. I receive You into my life and accept You as my Savior and Lord. I will serve you the best way I know how the rest of my life, knowing that someday I will be present with you in Heaven forever. Thank you for saving me and loving me. I pray this in the Precious and Holy Name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
If you prayed that prayer and meant it with your heart Jesus has come into your life to reside and strengthen you. Romans 10:9-10 says "That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved". The next step is to tell a fellow Christian that you have accepted Christ and allow them to celebrate with you. The very moment you say "yes" to Jesus Heaven stops and rejoices, that's how important it is to God for you to come into His family. He's happy you are home!
The next steps are very important in your walk with the Lord. If you don't have a Bible, go buy one. Start to read it, starting with the book of John first, then move around. Begin to develop your prayer life with God. You don't have to be fancy, just talk to Him, remember, He is your Father. You can call upon Him anytime, anywhere, He is always available. Pray and ask God to lead you to a church where you can worship and fellowship with other Christians, we all need each other. As you do these things God will reveal to you His special plan for your life! May God bless you as you serve Him.