What I would like to do here is to try to persuade you to set aside time each week in the coming year to plan—and specifically to plan your life of prayer and devotion and ministry.
That’s right I said your ministry. We all are called into the ministry. When Jesus told us to go and make disciples. He meant everyone. There are people in your life that BJ & I will never be able to reach for Christ, but God has placed them in your life for a reason. For you to be a witness to them.
The same Holy Spirit that works inside of pastors also works in you and the same Bible that we preach to you is available to you. The Gospel that we preach to you is the same Gospel that you will share with others.
We Pastors might be able to define the Gospel a little clearer, but we will never be able to preach a better Gospel than the same one you received from Jesus Christ. The bulldozer of God’s Spirit often arrives at the scene of our heart ready to begin some great work of building, and he finds that due to poor planning there are piles of disordered things in his way. I am afraid that one of the reasons why this community is 85% unreached is because Christians have failed to plan. I believe that the Spirit of God wants to move on this place, but We are not ready for Him.
The way I hope to motivate you to do this is to give four examples of planning in the Bible. First, some illustrations from the Proverbs; second, the planning of the apostle Paul; third, the planning of God; and fourth, the planning of Jesus.
In other words, we see that not all goals are equal. It is not good enough to have goals, but that those goals help you get more joy out of your relationship with God so that you in return will be able to glorify Him more.
What makes this especially significant is that as far as we know the plan fell through. He was arrested in Jerusalem. He went to Rome as a prisoner and probably never got to Spain. It’s just like we saw in the Proverbs. God is the one who finally makes the future. But we plan nevertheless. God uses our planning even if he aborts it.
For example, if Paul had not planned to use Rome as a base of operations for a trip to Spain, he probably never would have written the greatest letter the world has ever known—the letter to the Romans. Planning is crucial in Christian living and Christian ministry—even when God overrules our planning.
And we all probably have similar examples, when I was planning on becoming a physical therapist, God still used that degree to get me into seminary. When we had planned on getting done with seminary as fast as possible and returning home to Knoxville. But God used my planning and preparation to fill a position in Flemingsburg at just the right time.
The ultimate reason for planning is that God is a God who plans and we are created in his image to exercise dominion in the earth under his lordship.
I do not think it is even possible to conceive a God who does not act according to his own eternal planning—that is, a God who has knee jerk responses to circumstances rather than deliberate actions that fit into a wise purpose.
When Adam failed in the garden, it did not catch God by surprise. Jesus entering this world to die for our sins was not plan B. When the Romans lifted His Son on the Cross, it was not God just trying to make the most of a bad decision. No, from the beginning of time, God prepared a way for you to be able to come to Him and be forgiven of your sins, because he loves you. He loves you so much, that it looks like he hates his one and begotten Son by comparison.
Make Planning a Regular Part of Your Life
But it won’t work just to plan something tonight or tomorrow. Planning must be a regular part of your life. When I make my goals for the year I fold them and place them in the book that I am reading that way, I am able to look frequently at my goals to see if I am accomplishing what I had set out to accomplish for the year. If you only look at your goals once then you will most likely never achieve them unless you are setting the bar too low.
So my plea to you is that you set aside time each week to plan, especially to plan your life of prayer and Bible study. For example, since Sunday is the first day of the week (not the last day of the weekend!) and belongs to the Lord, take ten or fifteen minutes each Sunday and think through when you will pray and what you will study that week. Give some thought how God might want to use you that week in a special way. Plan the emails you need to write, the Bible verses you want to memorize, the visit you want to make, the book you want to read, the neighbor you want to talk to, etc.
The Proverbs teach us to plan. The greatest missionary who ever lived was a planner. God is a God who does all things according to plan. And Jesus set his face to go to Jerusalem because of the most loving plan ever devised.
He planned for our joy; we ought to plan for his glory.
Now as we plan for our time of invitation, I want to be clear. My message this evening is not try harder by your own will power to be a better person in 2013, but to put yourself in position to be used mightily and supernaturally by God this year. God promises that our work for Him will not go in Vain; it might not go as we planned, but it will go for His glory and our good.