God Is Up To Something Great: His Plan For Your Life!
by Jurgen Rausch
“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.”
God’s Destiny For You!
What if I were to tell you that God has a plan for your life – what would you say?
Would you be thrilled about the fact that your life does have purpose and meaning?
Would you be skeptical knowing that your life hasn’t been far from perfect and how could God have been in this?
Would you mock the idea since it seems that you’ve always been the master of your own domain?
Would you stop whatever you are doing and wait around for God’s plan?
Regardless of your reaction, the fact of the matter is that God has a plan for your life! And nothing that comes your way will deter God’s dream for your life, as long as you are a child of God and walk in fellowship with Him.
There may be detours, constant adjustments, crazy zigzags and sometimes second bests, but God will accomplish his purposes in the lives of those who serve and follow Him.
If we learned anything from the people we have looked at in this series, it’s that God has a plan for people’s lives and that the good, the bad and the ugly of life will not deter Him.
Be it Paul and the dark places his considerable abilities took him before God got a hold of his life; or Peter whose missteps became the very building blocks to his later achievements; or even Joseph whose seemingly incredible bad luck was actually the path forward.
For all three and the countless more before and after including every one of us here this morning, you need to know that God has a plan in mind for your life!
A plan that was determined before our lives even began; before you were a twinkle in your daddy’s eye.
I love the opening chapters of Ephesians where it describes how God had a purpose for our lives long before we existed:
“For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will.”
This is absolutely astonishing. Before the creation of this world God not only saw your life but he chose you, singled you out, knew you by name and had in mind a plan and purpose for your life.
This is not my wishful thinking or an overactive imagination but God’s Word.
God’s Word says: “He predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ”, meaning that when we become sons of God through Jesus the pieces of the puzzle of what our life is meant to be fall into place.
Unlocking Your Destiny!
Becoming a follower of Jesus is like a key that unlocks your destiny and unlocks the ancient dream God has for you.
You need to know that none of this will be realized until you become a child of God!
That’s why it talks about “adoption to sonship”. That’s always the first step. Jesus, as the Lord of your life, unlocks the pieces of the puzzle to your destiny.
Before we go anywhere else, you need to know that your life will not make sense from a divine perspective until you are a born-again child of God.
That’s the first thing that needs to happen. You need to become a child of God through Jesus your Savior.
If you haven’t become that, then don’t talk to me about God’s plans or being a child of destiny since all of that is still locked away.
So are you a child of God? Does Jesus live within your heart? Are you following Him every day of your life? That unlocks your destiny.
A Joint Venture!
This doesn’t mean that you are reduced to a mindless puppet and that God drops his plans into your lap willy-nilly or that everything happens automatically.
It’s far more complicated than that. God’s plan for your life is not a finished product. He doesn’t make everything happen for you, with you reduced to a spectator.
It is a joint venture, an active partnership between God and you.
The word ‘predestined’ is really a key word to understanding this: “He predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ.” Eph. 1:5
The word predestined in the original language refers to something that is marked out.
So picture a vast territory out there with distant markers almost like a ranch. God says for you to roam wherever you want but to stay inside the markers. Lots of land, lots of places and you go almost anywhere.
Your life will look different depending on where you roam to.
Or better yet picture a sketch, just an outline of something that the master artist drew on his canvas after which he turns to you to color it in with the colors of your choosing.
If you can picture that, then you have a sense of what I am talking about. He has a rough outline in mind but then leaves it up to us to color it in. Depending on the colors you choose, so will the outcome be.
Making Order Out of Chaos!
The other thing I want you to notice is how joyfully God goes about mapping out our lives:
“He predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will.”
This phrase is a delightful way of saying how he goes about it. “His pleasure and will” speaks to his exuberance and absolute delight in his work of choosing us and mapping out our lives.
“This phrase carries with it the sense that God goes about such choosing with great joy.” Expositor Bible Commentary
He never says “Yikes, this is too much work” or “That one is far too gone for anything good to come” or “How will someone like that ever be anything half decent?”
He never says that. He never goes about his work with reluctance or disgust but always with great enthusiasm and joy.
You may wonder why. Does he go for kernels of greatness? Does he choose the cream of the crop, the best of the best only?
His enthusiasm is not because of who you are but because of his great ability to make order out of chaos and his desire to show what He can do in the midst of crazy chaos.
Notice that it not only says:
“For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship
through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will.”
But that it also says “to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.” Eph. 1:6
This speaks of God’s power and amazing grace that he wants to show by choosing a scoundrel like me, and turning what seems like a pretty useless life around into something better.
This is not about the praise of you or me. It’s not about us. This is about “the praise of his glorious grace which he has freely given us”.
God doesn’t choose us because we are the cream of the crop. He usually dredges around near the bottom and finds things that most would throw away.
Do you think Joseph was a prince when he started out? He was the runt of the litter, the little errand boy who no one suspected of greatness.
Peter was an uncouth fisherman who ran off his mouth. Moses stuttered. Saul of the Old Testament was too tall for his own good. David was near the bottom of his obscure little family.
But what about Saul of Tarsus – wasn’t he somebody great? You could say that: “Circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee.” Phil. 3:5.
Yeah, but look at where it landed him: “as for zeal, persecuting the church.” Phil 3:6
In fact, Saul had to be idled for three long years in some Arab backcountry where God deconstructed him, before putting ‘Humpty Dumpty’ back together again.
His own words attest to this: “But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith.” Phil. 3:7-9
So this is not about you. It’s not to your praise, not about your shame, but it’s about “the praise of his glorious grace which he has freely given us.”
Your Good Works!
You see the same thing again in the next chapter:
“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Eph. 2:10
Again, this is about God’s handiwork and workmanship and not about us at all. It’s about his ability to make order out of chaos.
The “good works” mentioned is what our lives become. For Joseph his good works was the saving of many lives. For Paul it was being the great defender of the early church. For Peter it was becoming like a rock.
Your good works are different from my good works, which are different from his good works or her good works.
Every one of us has a different set of good works. God’s plans are different for every single one of us. For Joseph it was the saving of many lives. For Paul it was being the great defender.
For me it has always been about being a pastor with a twist. What’s it for you?
Again, none of these were dropped into their laps. Joseph didn’t just become a prince overnight or Paul a defender of the faith.
It took years and years of shaping, molding, evolving and overcoming the many crazy gutter balls and zigzags of life to bring Joseph or Paul to where they were.
It’s the same for you and me. So let me ask again, what are “the good works” that you are to be about?
If you still think that God is going to drop it into your lap then you need the reality check of Eph. 2:10 which says: “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
God may have prepared your good works as in a rough sketch or a faint outline off in the distant somewhere, but you definitely are the one who ends up taking matters into your own hands, becoming the master of your own domain and giving shape to the plan God has for your life.
You paint within the boxes. It clearly talks about “good works, which God prepared for us to do.”
The doing is us! The phrase “for us to do” comes from the Greek word ‘peripateo’ from which we get our English word ‘periphery’.
What’s periphery if not the far off boundary of something. Peripateo means to walk within the periphery of the boundaries.
Where you walk to is entirely up to you. If you are waiting for God to point out a tree or a rock on the ranch, then nine times out of ten that is not going to happen.
Walk within the vast space that is God’s plan and will for your life. Walk ‘hither and thither’. Use any color you wish.
While God may have established the boundaries and markers that give shape to your destiny, it is up to you and me to color it in, walk within his sketch, filling it out and making it become reality.
Joseph, Could You Have Known?
Joseph, you always had this crazy dream, this faint outline of something princely. Could you ever have known that you would become the Prince of Egypt? Life handed you lemons and you made lemonade, and even lemon meringue pie.
Paul, you had always had this sense of absolute right and wrong. Could you have ever imagined that you would one day become the great defender of the faith?
Peter, you were always first to speak up which many times landed you in hot water. Could you ever imagine that this boldness could become holy boldness and cause you to someday be the first bishop of Rome?
Jurgen, you came from a family of immigrants where English was not the first language, and where a grandmother vowed to have you be God’s if your life would be spared as an unborn.
Could you have known that coming to Canada at age 13 gave you the ability to easily move between cultures and languages and that all of that would one day bring you to pastor a grand old lady called Scott St. MB Church?
None of this, people, was special, least of which myself. I bet if we were to do some soul searching and reflection all of us would realize deep inside us is the faint outline of something divine.
When Life Throws You Lemons!
I want to wrap this up not with Joseph, Paul or Peter but with the children of Israel at one of the worst times of their existence.
This was during the awful time of their captivity in Babylon under the tenure of Jeremiah, the weeping prophet. In the midst of that utter desolation, God spoke about his plans for them:
“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.”
Tony Evans points out that this is not a great verse in a great chapter but a great verse in a really bad chapter of captivity.
So in the midst of their misery he talks to them about the plans He has to prosper and not harm them, to give them hope and a future.
In the midst of this promise of hope and a better tomorrow, look at what God says to them:
“Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.”
In other words, don’t sit around wishing for better days or weeping for what you have lost. Instead make the best of what life has dealt you.
Make lemon meringue pie, lemon loaf, lemonade, lemon chicken or even lemon facial toner. Anything but lemon juice.
Land on your feet, build your houses and plant your gardens, because if it prospers you too will prosper.
“Paul, Peter and Joseph all had to learn how to trust the Lord, how to work within His plan for their lives to accomplish what He had in mind for them. And ultimately, while they waited on Him they learned an awful lot by doing the very things the Lord told the Israelites to do.”
And that is build your houses, plant your gardens and for gosh sake, make lemon meringue pies!
Scott Street MB Church invites you to write your reflections and thoughts about the weekly messages shared by lead Pastor Jurgen Rausch.