Tag Archives: God’s Plan

Taking Credit for God’s Blessings.

I wonder how many of us believe it is our effort, intelligence, and discipline that produced whatever success we have achieved at work or elsewhere in our lives? How easy it is to forget that God equipped us with whatever advantages paved our way to success. And how often do we fail to fully appreciate or acknowledge God’s role in our success and neglect to credit Him for our accomplishments? Instead, many of us convince ourselves we earned it on our own.

Take a moment to reflect on recent successes at work, in school, or in life. Have you given God all the glory for your achievements; for instance, when you deliver a great presentation, close a big deal, get promoted, receive a plum new assignment, perform successful surgery, win a difficult legal case, create a brilliant marketing campaign, earn an ‘A’ on a difficult exam, obtain employee-of-the-month honors, or receive a favorable annual review?

In these day-to-day wins we may be tempted to credit ourselves with our success. But the apostle Paul highlights the error in such thinking. He rhetorically asks, “Who makes you differ from another? And what do you have that you did not receive? Now if you did indeed receive it, why do you glory as if you had not received it?” (1 Corinthians 4:7, NKJV).

Paul reminds us that every attribute we possess reflects God’s design. Every aspect of our character, every advantage in our physical attributes and mental acumen, and every behavioral trait comes from God. He created us uniquely and equipped us with every characteristic we enjoy. Take a moment to meditate on what that includes:

– Your intelligence, work ethic, and attention to detail;

– Your passion for quality, ability to motivate others, and skill with numbers;

– Your speed, strength, and agility;

– Your analytic ability, artistic skill, and creativity;

– Your relentless energy to work harder than others;

– Your optimistic and engaging personality that makes networking
easy;

– Even your sense of humor.

God alone designed and constructed every strength, skill, and ability. He fashioned you, your personality, and your passions uniquely. And He did this for one specific purpose: His glory. He desires we follow His plan, honor Him in all we do, recognize His work in us, and testify of Him in all we accomplish.

That’s right. God has a unique plan for you. Isn’t that awesome? What an incredible thought to contemplate—that you are His creation and He has a precise plan for your life. That fact reveals an incredible truth: you are special to our Creator.

So what does God think when we take credit for the gifts and abilities He provides us? How does God view our pride when it exalts itself and claims credit for our success and His work? Such arrogance constitutes a rebellion against God because it reflects an idolization of self. By asserting that our skills and talents are a product of our effort, we establish ourselves as lord. Every time we redirect God’s glory to ourselves we fuel the vanity that drives that dangerous perspective.

Moreover, when we employ these gifts, abilities, and attributes to advance our own agenda and ignore His unique plan for us, we reject His sovereignty. When we use our talents to pursue our goals, we reject His Lordship. Such behavior deems our plan superior to God’s. But such a view is born of conceit. In reality, God calls us to use our skills to accomplish His agenda, not pursue our own benefit.

I encourage you to set aside time this week to take inventory of all the strengths and attributes God has bestowed on you. Make a list that includes innate skills as well as personality traits and behavioral attributes. Offer Him thanks for those gifts and let Him know you want them used for His glory – in accordance with His plan. In doing so you’ll not only strengthen your relationship with God, you’ll also find yourself growing in humility and less focused on personal gain.

Advertisements

Jesus’ Model for Making Decisions.

I wonder how many readers are wrestling with a difficult decision in their lives. You want to obey God but are unable to discern His will. Perhaps the Bible offers little specific guidance on how to move forward. On the surface, all alternatives appear acceptable to God, yet you suspect He prefers one choice. But which one? How can you determine with confidence the path forward?

Let’s look at Jesus’ life to understand His approach to decision-making, and in the process glean several important lessons and insights.

One of the most important decisions Jesus made was His selection of the twelve apostles; those men who would serve as future leaders of the church and in whom Jesus would invest Himself over the course of His ministry. Did Jesus simply trust His instincts in making this critical decision? If not, what pattern did He give us?

Scripture tells us that before making His decision Jesus “went out to the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God. And when it was day, He called His disciples to Him; and from them He chose twelve whom He also named apostles” (Luke 6:12-13, NKJV).

Jesus devoted significant time alone in prayer with God, making known His request and listening for direction. Similarly, our decision-making process should always begin with prayer as a foundation. We may not spend all night in prayer seeking God’s direction but we should certainly invest considerable time soliciting His guidance when confronting any decision of consequence.

We would also do well to exercise caution in placing too much trust in the advice of others. Though soliciting godly counsel is often valuable – Solomon tells us, “Where there is no counsel, the people fall; but in the multitude of counselors there is safety” (Proverbs 11:14, NKJV) – we must remain mindful of the fact that others do not always share God’s perspective, no matter how spiritually mature they are.

Recall Peter’s response when Jesus revealed that He would suffer many things before being rejected and killed. Scripture tells us, “Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him” (Mark 8:32, NKJV). Jesus’ teaching made no sense to Peter because he was processing the message from a temporal perspective, not God’s eternal one. Peter was certain God’s plan did not involve a tortured and brutal death for His mentor, especially at so young an age. Had Jesus followed His outspoken disciple’s counsel He would have avoided a violent demise, but humanity would have forever remained separated from God with no hope for reconciliation.

Take a moment to digest the significant insight this encounter produced: God often leads us to actions and decisions that appear foolhardy to the world and may confound believers and church leaders as well. Learning from this, we must not assume other Christians always know God’s direction for us, irrespective of their spiritual depth. God’s path for us is just as likely to contradict the consensus of those around us as it is to align with it.

By extension, we also ought to avoid assuming God’s plan always fits nicely with our own desires. Recall Jesus’ prayer the night before His crucifixion. “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will but Thy will be done” (Matthew 26:39). Jesus made known His desire to go down a different path, but also proclaimed His willingness to follow God regardless of the consequences. He refused to prioritize personal aspiration above obedience. We must adopt a similar mindset as we navigate choices throughout life. Inform God of our longings but always subject them to whatever plan He lays out for us.

Another important component of biblically sound decision-making involves actually acting on whatever direction God gives us. That can be challenging when His revealed path involves financial risk or jeopardizes our freedom, safety or life. In such situations it is critical we enlist the help of others, to hold us accountable and intercede with God on our behalf – asking Him to give us strength and boldness to move forward as directed.

An excellent example of this is found in the book of Esther. Following her decision to intercede with the king on behalf of the Jewish people, an act that had the potential to cost her her life, she makes the following appeal to her uncle, “Go, gather all the Jews who are present in Susa, and fast for me; neither eat nor drink for three days, night or day. My maids and I will fast likewise. And so I will go to the king, which is against the law; and if I perish, I perish!” (Esther 4:16, NKJV).

Esther knew what God wanted her to do. But she also understood that obedience carried the risk of an early grave. So she asked the local Jewish community to fast and pray for her – that she would follow God’s plan, that her life would be spared, and that God would honor her obedience by saving the Jewish people. Don’t hesitate to ask other believers to bathe you in prayer and fast on your behalf the next time you find yourself struggling to travel down the path God has revealed to you.

Finally, as you contemplate current and future decisions, consider taking the path that draws you closer to God and demonstrates His love, mercy, and truth to others. In doing so, it’s possible your decision will not just have an immediate impact on you; it might just have an eternal impact on others.