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Your Plans, God's Will

“A man’s heart plans his way: but the Lord directs his steps” (Prov. 16:9).

Joseph planned to do as his father told him. He went out thinking he would see how his brothers were doing and then come back and report to his father. But Joseph never made it home because God had other plans for him. His brothers did him wrong, and Joseph soon found himself far away from home in Egypt. Later he told his brothers the hand of God was behind this journey: “So now it was not you that sent me here, but God” (Gen. 45:8).

When he was forty years old Moses thought he would deliver the Hebrew slaves from Egypt (Acts 7:23-25). He had good intentions, but he did not see the future. God sent him to lead His people out of Egypt—forty more years later. Even when a man’s plan and God’s will coincide, his timetable is usually not in line with God’s.

David wanted to build a temple for God. He was pure and unselfish in his desire: “I dwell in a house of cedar, but the ark of God dwells inside tent curtains” (II Sam. 7:2). Who could fault David for wanting to build the temple? His plan was noble, but God intervened and told David he would not live to see the temple built. His son would build it after David died (II Sam. 7:12-13).

How often even our good plans fail! How many times do we agonize and rush to make things work out like we envision and end up seeing those plans dashed to pieces in an instant? We forget that we control very little of what happens in this world. We forget that life can change suddenly and dramatically. We forget that the hand of God works in our lives to open doors and close doors as He works all things after the counsel of His own will. We forget that our ways are not God’s ways and that it is not in us to direct our steps (Isa. 55:8-9; Jer. 10:23). We forget that God does not just defeat us in things that are wrong. He also defeats us in our plans to do good so that He can do something better.

God does not take away our free will, but He does limit our choices. Sometimes He overrides the decisions we make in matters that pertain to the world. We plan to do one thing, but God intervenes so we will do something else. We plan to be in one place, but God arranges things so we will be in another. Instead of getting frustrated, we need to be patient and trust in the providential hand of God.

We have free will. We choose between serving God or following the devil. We choose either a life of righteousness or a life of sin. We choose where we will spend eternity. Many passages teach this (Josh. 24:15; Heb. 11:24-26; Rev 22:17). God does not take away our free will in regard to choosing heaven or hell. Each of us makes that choice.

We alone decide where we will spend eternity, but the hand of God often decides where and how we spend our life on earth.


West End Bulletin for October 11, 2020


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