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Plan with Patience

This lesson is for elders, Bible class teachers, preachers, parents, teenagers, and retired seniors who are looking ahead.

David had a noble plan to honor God. He wanted to build God a temple for the ark of the covenant. He felt bad that he was living in “a house of cedar, but the ark of God dwells inside tent curtains” (II Sam. 7:2). He wanted to build a better, more permanent place of worship. At first even Nathan the prophet encouraged David to build it. They both had the right motive. There was nothing wrong with the plan. It was a good idea.

The Lord accepted the idea of building a temple. But He told David he would not be the one to build it. The Lord said, "You shall not build a house for my name, because you have shed much blood on the earth in My sight" (I Chron. 22:8). Instead, David’s son would build “a house for My name” (II Sam. 7:12). That son was Solomon.

David didn’t feel down and dejected because God said no. He praised God. “Who am I, O Lord God?” (II Sam. 7:18). “Therefore You are great, O Lord God. For there is none like You” (II Sam. 7:22). He had his hopes up but he understood and submitted to God. He was not prideful. He didn’t devise this plan to glorify himself. The important thing to him was that the temple would be built. Who did it was not an issue.

God did not reject the goal of building a temple, but He did change the details. God said yes to the plan but no as to who would carry it out and when. David never lived to see the house of God his son Solomon built. He never felt the awe the Israelites experienced when Solomon prayed with all his heart in I Kings 8 when the temple was dedicated. But he had faith in what God promised.

It is good and necessary to plan for the future. Some of our plans are about earthly needs. There is nothing wrong with looking ahead because of financial or health concerns as long as we put spiritual matters first (Matt. 6:33). Having goals and desiring to grow spiritually is far more important. It is great to aim at praying more, reading the Bible more and having a more Christlike spirit.

Elders must plan ahead for the congregation. They must be men of vision. These overseers set goals and try to find ways to reach those goals. They put time and money into programs to get members more involved and interested in visitation, attendance, and evangelism. Sometimes these projects work and sometimes they fall flat. The idea may not have been good to start with, but in some cases the plan and the motive was good but it just didn’t bring the results they envisioned. There is no need to lose hope. The idea may have been good but the timing may not have been the best. The plan may work better under different circumstances with different people. Then there are times when results just seem to come from nowhere even without planning and programs. Elders have to be patient.

Preachers probably do this more than anyone. We brainstorm and dream and come up with big ideas for the church. Again, this is a good thing as long as our motive is right. We get excited when the elders approve a program we have suggested. Once in a while we hit a home run but sometimes we strike out. When we miss the mark we are disappointed and take it personally. We need to learn to be mature and patient. Twenty or thirty years later we look back at some of those great ideas and wonder why on earth we thought they were so wonderful. But sometimes the idea and the program was exactly what the congregation needed but it didn’t work out like we thought. That’s when we need to remember those great Old Testament stories like the plan of David. We need to remember that Moses thought his time had come when he was forty years old to lead the Hebrews out of Egypt but he had to wait forty more years to do the job. It is astonishing to see what God will let us accomplish if we are willing to wait. And we must also have faith that God may use another preacher after us to do the job better than we can.

Parents make all kinds of plans for their children. But circumstances can alter those plans, and children may not want them. The most important desire that parents should have for their children is that they love God and live the Christian life. Parents, have faith and patience. The struggle is not over. Keep holding to God’s unchanging hand. It may be years before your prayers are answered. It may be after you die that they make the changes you wanted so badly to see. You may have descendants in the future that will answer your prayers in ways you can’t imagine. One thing is sure. Your sacrifices and labor and teaching will not be in vain.

Bible class teachers, have faith to look ahead—not for the details of what will happen, but at the promise that the power of the Word will bring results years ahead in your lifetime and after you are gone.

Teenagers, you have more hopes and dreams than you can count. Make sure your first goal is to live for God. Many of your plans will be dashed to pieces. But someday you will look back and be glad some of those hopes did not happen. Patience is a hard lesson to learn, but you will always appreciate it.

If you are retired, you are making arrangements for your future. If you are a Christian, you have plans for the church and your family and your own Christian life. Some of those things come to pass in ways that will thrill your heart toward the end of your life. But there will be much more after you leave this world. Your works will follow you (Rev. 14:13).


West End church of Christ bulletin article for November 26, 2023


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