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Planning the Christian Life

This is an outline of a message preached recently at Faith by Bro. Anthony Harper.

Luk 14:25 ¶ And there went great multitudes with him: and he turned, and said unto them, 
Luk 14:26   If any [man] come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. 
Luk 14:27   And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple. 
Luk 14:28   For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have [sufficient] to finish [it]? 
Luk 14:29   Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish [it], all that behold [it] begin to mock him, 
Luk 14:30   Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish. 
Luk 14:31   Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand? 
Luk 14:32   Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace. 
Luk 14:33   So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.

Jesus tells us here that we need to carefully consider exactly what it means to follow Him.
There is a cross to bear in the Christian life, and we’d be foolish to not count the cost before we set out to work for Him.
The same principle applies to every area of our lives as Christians.
We need to seek God’s wisdom to live out the lives He has given us, living according to His plan.
On December 22, 1899, the evangelist D. L. Moody lay dying.
His first job had been as a shoe clerk in Boston, gathering 18 ragged boys off the street to organize a Sunday school class.
In 2 years the class had grown to 1,500.
In his lifetime Moody was to take 2 continents in his hands and shake them for God.
As he died, he left this epitaph written on the flyleaf of his Bible:
“If God be your partner, make your plans large.”
So, God has a plan for us, and we need to make plans to live our lives for Him, but how?
Do you remember taking tests in school?
Planning and preparation helped, but sometimes fear of the unknown still lingered.
That’s where trust comes in.
You trust as if it all depends upon the Lord, and plan and prepare as if it all depends upon you.
Success doesn’t come to those who sit around on their rear ends because stagnant minds are the greatest obstacles to success.
We have to constantly plan and prepare for the next great success in our lives to do great things for God.
Our plans don’t always work out, but at least we had a plan!
Don’t be afraid of failing; be afraid of not trying.
You learn practically nothing from a victory.
Let defeat be your teacher.

Plan Your Walk

We need to plan our daily walk with the Lord, otherwise the flesh will turn on autopilot and get us off course.
We need to plan to acknowledge the Lord daily in a devotional time.
Our daily devotion should consist of reading the Bible and praying – planned 2-way communication with God.
This will take time and effort.
We need to plan for this devotion because life has a tendency to get in the way.
Toddlers and teenagers, traffic and trouble – the whole world seems bent on taking up all of our time.
If you plan accordingly, your devotion time won’t suffer.
As for me, I plan my day so that I start out the day with my devotion.
I find that my devotion works out really well before this old flesh really wakes up.
Whenever and however you plan your devotion, just make sure that you’re staying one step ahead of the flesh.
You may have to be creative.
You might have to get Alexander Scourby’s narration of the Bible to listen to during your commute.
You may have to keep a copy of your prayer list taped to your bathroom mirror, your exercise equipment or your sun visor.
Putting a plan into place will help you to avoid the flesh taking over and life getting in the way.

Plan Your Work

“Prepare thy work without, and make it fit for thyself in the field; and afterwards build thine house.” Proverbs 24:27
You must have an objective and a sense of direction every day.
What do you want to accomplish today?
Plan what you want to do, then do it.
Be accountable to yourself.
If you don’t get everything done that you intended to get done, then your plan for the next day needs to be adjusted.
Maybe there were more obstacles than you had planned for.
Maybe you didn’t give yourself enough time to get it all done.
Do you ever feel that you have more responsibilities than time in which to perform them?
Actually, I don’t know of anyone who doesn’t feel that way!
Thankfully, God has given us a resource to help us make decisions concerning our time.
It’s called wisdom!
This is why when God commands us to redeem the time, He tells us:
“Be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is” (Ephesians 5:17).
When we’re evaluating what should be taking our time, we need God’s wisdom to discern His will for each moment of our lives.
Keep these things in mind when you’re planning your work:

God’s Work Is Sustainable

It isn’t God’s nature to give us more than we can handle without also providing enabling grace.
He doesn’t give us more to do than we can get done in the time He has provided.

Not All Opportunities Are Obligations

More opportunities present themselves to us than we are physically able to accomplish!
Only wisdom can help us prioritize.
If we fail to make the right decision, we will find ourselves overburdened and underequipped.
What God gives us is sustainable.
What we put on ourselves may be unbearable.

We Need to Focus on What’s Important

Every opportunity looks important at the moment it presents itself, but living with an eternal perspective will help us sort out what matters most.
We must learn to distinguish between the trivial and the truly important.
 “What is going to matter when I stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ?”

Waiting Is Not Idle Time

Ours is a society where instant gratification is paramount.
But sometimes all we can do is wait on the Lord.
Contrary to our busy natures, waiting on God is good use of our time.
Waiting allows us to sense His purposes for our lives, and it equips us to serve with His power.
Isa 40:31   But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew [their] strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; [and] they shall walk, and not faint. 

We Need to Stay True to Our Calling

There are some things that only I can do.
For instance, nobody else can meet the needs of my wife and children.
Regardless of any other life achievements I may make, if I neglect these responsibilities, I have failed… and my family members are the ones who will suffer.
1Ti 5:8 But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.
If I spend all of my time doing what many others could do, to the neglect of my primary call, I’ll miss the purpose God has given to me.
Whatever it is that God has called you to do, you must identify it and then center your time around it.
By the way, did you know that God has called us all to spread the Gospel?
Mar 16:15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.
Time is a valuable resource from God, and I’m thankful that God freely gives His wisdom (James 1:5) to help us best use the time He has given to us for His glory.

Help for Planning the Christian Life

Whatever method you use to plan your life for God, it’s success is measured by how well you can execute the plan.
Some simple advice:

Identify Your Goals

Matt Emmons had the gold medal in sight.
He was one shot away from claiming victory in the 2004 Olympic 50-meter three-position rifle event.
He didn’t even need a bull’s-eye to win.
His final shot merely needed to be close to the center of the target.
Normally, the shot he made would have received a score of 8.1, more than enough for a gold medal.
But in what was described as “an extremely rare mistake in elite competition,” Emmons fired at the wrong target.
Standing in lane two, he fired at the target in lane three.
His score for a good shot at the wrong target?
Instead of a medal, Emmons ended up in eighth place.
It doesn’t matter how accurate you are if you are aiming at the wrong goal.
Many people invest their entire life aiming at the wrong goal.
Take time to ask God for wisdom as you identify how you want to develop your walk and work.
Write your goals down and pray over them.

Plan Your Strategy

Identify what spiritual growth is and then take specific actions that will help you develop into a more spiritually mature Christian, walking with Him and working for Him.

Develop Accountability

In 2008, Japan enacted a national law requiring their citizens to have their waistline measured.
Those Japanese whose waistline is greater than the government prescribed standard will undergo diet counseling.
We may not like the way Japan holds their citizens accountable for their weight, but they certainly understand the power of accountability.
Share with others what God is doing in your heart and life and encourage them to partner with you to help you accomplish your goals.

Be an Example

As a Christian, set the pace by modeling spiritual disciplines for growth.
When others see the excitement that a closer walk with Christ can bring, they too will seek what you have discovered for your own life.

Assess Regularly

Look back and evaluate your goals.
Make adjustments as necessary.
Spiritual transformation is not automatic.
God will reward your labor in His timing.

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