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Charles Stanley - Planning Without God


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Do you often wonder why your plans don't work out? You've done your best, you thought you'd thought of everything, you've laid it all out and somehow it didn't work. Why didn't it work? I'll tell you one reason it didn't work. I'll tell a reason that it doesn't work for most people. That is because you leave God out. You plan according to your knowledge and your understanding, and your resources and what you want to accomplish in life, where you want to go and yet you leave God out of the planning. Think about this. How foolish that is.

God is omniscient: He knows everything. Omnipotent: Has all power. And think about the fact that He is willing to give you guidance and direction. He's willing to show you when, where and how. He has all that's necessary to provide everything you need to walk in the center of His will. To leave God out of your planning is foolishness. When He's a God who loves you, cares for you, will provide for you, undergird you, protect you, and you leave Him out? And yet, that's exactly what many people do. They just leave God out of their life. So, the question is, Why do we do that? I want you to turn to a passage of Scripture that I doubt if you've probably read more than once. And when you read it you thought, Well, there's nothing in there for me. There's a lot in there for you.

So, I want you to turn if you will to the eleventh chapter of Genesis. And this is a passage that most people just look at and, read over quickly and keep going. The Scripture says, "Now the whole earth used the same language and the same words. It came about as they journeyed east, and they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there. They said to one another, 'Come let us make bricks and burn them thoroughly.' And they used brick for stone, and they used tar for mortar. They said, 'Let us build for ourselves a city, and a tower whose top will reach the heaven, and let us make for ourselves a name, otherwise we'll be scattered abroad over the face of the earth, whole earth.' And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower which the sons of men had built. The Lord said, 'Behold, they are one people, and they all have the same language. And this is what they began to do, and now nothing which they purpose to do will be impossible for them. Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, so that they will not understand one another's speech.' So, the Lord scattered them abroad from over the whole face of the earth; and they stopped building the city. Therefore its name was called Babel," like Babylon, "because there the Lord confused the language of the whole earth; and from there the Lord scattered them from abroad over the face of the earth".

Now, if you go back to the ninth chapter and the flood has come, the flood's gone now and God is saying something to His people that now that that's done. He said to them they were to separate and replenish the whole earth. That was God's command. They're to replenish the whole earth. In fact, that's God's command from the very beginning. As for you, be fruitful, and multiply, populate the earth abundantly and multiply in it. That was God's command and so the flood has come and gone. And so, Noah had three sons: Shem, Ham and Japheth. And so, all of these people in chapter eleven are descendants of Noah's three sons. He lived three hundred and fifty years after the flood; so these are the descendants, was a lots of them, three hundred and fifty years. And so, they make a decision here, a decision that is not the decision of Almighty God because God said to them, I want you to replenish the earth, scattered abroad, cover the earth. And so, they come to the conclusion now, three hundred and fifty years later, we don't want to do that.

What we want to do is we want to all get together and we want to build a temple here or a house or a city, probably all three, so that we'll all be able to stick together and have one language. And when God made it very clear they were to scatter to the uttermost parts of the earth. So, they decided not to do that. And so, God says, I'm going to have to break that up. So, this whole chapter here is really about the people of God deciding to do something other than God said do and to make their own plans.

So, let me ask you a question. Where does planning fit in your life? Do you plan daily, for activities? Do you make plans in your life considering Almighty God? You say that Jesus Christ is your Savior and your Lord. If He's your Savior and your Lord, all of our planning ought to take into consideration what does He think? What's His will? What's His choice? What's His plan for my life? Because you and I can't come up with a plan equal to His plan because He knows our weaknesses, our frailties. He knows what's best for us to have, what we ought not to have, so He knows all the intricacies of it. And yet, we take off and do our own planning; get ourselves in trouble and wonder why things don't work out. If God is in your plan, it's going to work out; because He's the plan maker and He has all power to make all the plans work out perfectly. But most people don't plan with God in mind. So, ask yourself the question, Do you make plans for your life without considering God at all? Do you make plans, for example, about you're going to buy a house? Do you ask Him about it? You're going to buy an automobile, you ask Him about that? You're going to get married, do you ask Him about that? We could just go down the list of all the things that we do that oftentimes people don't ask God about.

If we don't seek God's guidance and direction in our planning, we lose. Make wrong decisions. Make them before... in other words, sometimes what we plan is the will of God, but the timing is not the will of God. God is interested in what we do in our lives and how we plan. In other words, just think, He's interested in everything you and I are interested in. And He has a plan, that is. Now, there are many choices are not life and death, but there are choices we make. And we make choices and get in the habit of making choices doing certain things. Well, before you get in that habit, you should ask God, Now Lord, what's Your will in this? What's Your purpose in this? In the business world, people say, Well, this is just the way it is. No, but God has a will in every single aspect of our life. And here they said, Here's what we're going to do. So, let's think for just a moment about the consequences of just leaving God out.

Number one's this, You can't claim God's promise of provision and protection. You leave Him out, you do not have the right to claim His provision and His protection. And how many times have people said to me, Well, I sort of, I, watch this. I sort of prayed about it. What that means is, I made up my mind and told God what I think, ought to be right. No. And one of the consequences you cannot claim God's presence and His power and provision when you don't ask Him. When you don't ask Him to give you the plan, which is a serious consequence. A second one is this. You can't honestly ask for His blessing if you don't ask Him whether to make this plan or not. And many people, they'll pray and tell God what they're going to do and ask for His blessing. Well, is it the will of God? Is it His purpose, is His plan for your life? If I don't ask Him for guidance and direction, I don't have the right to ask Him to bless it. And people make wrong decisions that sometimes are very expensive decisions, emotionally, martially, financially, educationally, you name it.

And so, the Tower of Babel is a good example of planning without God. They said, Here's what we're going to do and here's how we're going to do it. Absolutely opposite from what God said. I think about how many parents today are in debt, deeply in debt because their son or daughter said, Here's where I want to go to college. I know it's going to cost but I'll get it and I'll pay you back. And their parents are deeply in debt for thousands of dollars because it costs thousands and thousands of dollars per semester for them to go to that particular school. Not asking, Lord, is it Your will or is it Your way? And parents need to have the wisdom to say, Well, I want you to go to college and I want you to get an education. I want you to do your best in life, but, you're asking us to go in debt and I don't think that's the will of God. You need to think about some other place you can go. Then either get a scholarship or where you can work and pay your way through. And many parents today are paying off college debts that they should not have to. God is interested in every decision you and I make.

Think about this. You are a holy son or daughter of the Living God. You are. You are indwelt by the Holy Spirit. You are a treasure of God. He saved you; wrote your name in the Lamb's Book of Life; you belong to Him. He's made a commitment to you to guide you and lead you and make your provision for you, whatever that is. Not always make you happy but make provision for you. Now, you've got to ask Him. Lord, what's Your next step? So, without planning, something else happens. The absence of God limits the possibilities of whatever we do. Whatever we do in life, if we don't ask Him for His direction and guidance, we set a limit on what we can do. We'll make decisions that may not be right or wrong, but they could be better and far more profitable if we had asked Him, Lord, what would You have us to do?

So, decision-making is a vital part of our life; and we make them every day. And some days decisions make, decisions are made by people that affect them in one hour the rest of their life. So, the Holy Spirit living within you is a very, very important aspect of your life. He's there to give you guidance and direction; see that you have the provision to do the will of God, not something you just think up to do. So, the absence of God limits the possibilities of what you do. It's an indication of pride. Listen. You say, Well, I'm not a prideful person. You get up in a day. You take off. You do your thing all day long and you come home, and at night and you say, Thank You, Father. Well, did you ask Him about it to start with? Listen, when you and I make plans without God, we are expressing personal pride. I don't need Him today. This is just a normal day. It's raining but it's just a normal day. And so, I don't need to ask Him. Yes, you do. We need to ask God every day to give us direction for our life and show us how to make decisions that seem to be very insignificant. But they're not insignificant.

You're a child of God, has a plan for your life; has a will for your life. Decisions aren't insignificant. It's thoughtlessness, prayerlessness, we get in a hurry. Somebody says, Well, God isn't interested in everything. Well, name what He's not interested in. Well, He's not interested in whether I wear brown shoes or black shoes. Well, probably not because He already knows you don't have but two pair and it doesn't make any difference. So, that's not an issue. But He is interested, listen to this, He is interested in you looking your best. Being your best, look your best, be your best, do your best; Because you represent Him. It doesn't mean that you compare yourself with somebody else. But you want to do your best, be your best, look your best because you represent the Son of God.

And so, in every aspect of our life, makes a difference, and so when I ignore that, I'll pay the price. For example, if we don't seek His guidance and direction, we'll choose the lesser than. In other words, you may choose much less than God would have for you because from your perspective you can't afford this or this, that and the other. And sometimes God's worked out something already in your behalf that you don't know about. And He's waiting for you to trust Him. And He's waiting for you to wait upon Him and to seek His guidance before He opens the door. And so, sometimes we think, Well, you know, Lord, I've tried and tried. Mm-mm-mm. If God doesn't give you a go-ahead, I'm telling you. And I've lived long enough to know, if you disobey God, you pay the consequences. And sometimes you just have to wait. And I could tell you some other examples.

And one was that I wrecked my car, and I waited for a while and well, the second day, this lady hit me from behind. The second day my kids wanted to know what I was going to do about a car cause each one of them had one and my wife had one and who is... I had to have; wonder whose car I was going to take? That was their problem. And so, I waited several months and then one of my deacons let me have one of his cars. And so, one day I was driving down the street with a fellow, wanted me to go to a meeting. I said, Okay. He asked me a question. He said, When are you going to buy your car? I said, I don't know. I've been waiting for God to show me. And he said, Well, what kind would you buy if you were going to buy one? God knows this the truth. I didn't even think. I said, Well, if I could just make a choice, I'd have one like this, which was the best. Three days later I got a check in the mail to buy that car.

So, I had all kind of choices to do most anything except to obey God. And sometimes time is the biggest enemy because we don't get it when we want it, we think, Well, God, You've just forgotten. No, He hasn't. I could give you other examples, but I'm just saying, Asking for God's direction is the key to your life; to what you have, where you go, what you do, what you accomplish, whatever it might be. So. When you and I disobey God, we get ahead of Him, not only does it cost us, but think about this. It's going to result in confusion. Here's what happens. When you make the wrong decision, there's confusion for the simple reason you have to start thinking, Well, what did I do wrong? Well, was it ahead a... well, who did I listen to? What made me do this? Likewise, there's going to be conflict. When you make a decision without asking for God's direction, there's going to be conflict in your heart.

Watch this. Because the Holy Spirit is going to give you and uneasy feeling. He's going to give you a sense of inadequacy and a sense of question, of doubt. There's going to be conflict in your heart when you do the wrong thing. And we do the wrong thing by getting ahead of God. What's the will of God and what's His plan? Likewise, it can prove costly. And I can think of things in my life and so can you, that have cost us probably because we didn't do the right thing; or we didn't do it at the right time. And we didn't do it the right way. God gives us direction, the time, the place, and the how. And with whom, if that's necessary.

And the Tower of Babel is a perfect example of planning without God. Here's what we're going to do. So, what did God do? The Scripture says He sent them confusion. That's what God did. He just said, All right, you're not going to listen; here's what I'm going to do. He put them in a state of confusion and what happened? They had to separate. It didn't mean that every single person was in a different language, but all those hundreds and thousands of families that developed, they separated, different parts of the globe. Why? Because God forced them to do what He intended for them to do to begin with. There's always confusion when you don't listen to God. Likewise, there's going to be loss in some point. When you don't obey God, you don't follow His leadership and guidance, it costs you something. It could be emotionally or it could be physically. It could be in your own physical body, whatever it might be. Likewise, there's going to be regret.

When you don't wait for Him and you do it on your timetable, there's going to be regret, because listen, God chooses the best. He chooses the right, the best timing, the best way, you name it. They couldn't wait. They were going to do it their way. Well, God let them do it that-a-way and there was deep regret. Likewise, there's going to be pain. There are lots of decisions we step ahead of God on, there's pain. Sometime it's physical pain, but the worst kind of pain is emotional pain. If-I'd-a. Think about this. If-I'd-a done this. If-I'd-a waited. If he, if she, if that. And so, the result of disobeying God, stepping ahead of Him, is always going to be if-I'd-a. And sometimes it's a disaster. Because people don't wait upon the Lord and seek His direction, they make decisions they're disastrous, disastrous financially, emotionally, you name it. Listening to God is a major, major, major principle in the whole Christian life. Listening to Him and waiting upon Him.

I do not know of a more valuable lesson to learn than to listen to God and obey Him, period. And there's this whole story of all the languages and all the chaos that resulted, the Tower of Babel, lot of stuff. But the basic lesson is they didn't listen to God. They didn't wait for Him. And so, God confused the whole thing. And I think there are a lot of people living in confusion today, in their daily life because they haven't listened to God back here, decisions. And they're confused today, or frustrated, or discouraged because well I don't know what happened. Well, just stop and ask God, Lord, did I make a wrong decision? Have I stepped ahead? Then I ask You to forgive me; I genuinely repent of that; things may not ever be like I'd like for them to be, but that I can start today doing what You want me to do in light of the circumstances.

It's never too late to listen to God. It may be too late in order to enjoy all the blessings that God had in mind, but it's not too late to listen to Him. Because one of these days we're all going to die; and we're going to face Him. It's better, listen, it's better to die and face Him having listened to Him six months than to die having not listened to Him at all. So, the whole theme of that chapter is all about listening to God; doing what He says rather than what man says. And so, what happened? God stopped the project. He shut the thing down totally, shut it down. They couldn't speak language that they could do things together. And so, what happened? He changed their plan.

So, let me ask you this question. Where is God in your planning today for your life? At your age, or whatever's going on, what's your plan? Are you asking God to give you a plan? You say, Well, I don't think my life's... mm-mm-mm, and on and on you go about, no, no, no, that's not the question. God has a plan for every single one of us. Now, the interesting thing is that sometimes people want to tell us what the plan is. And they want to tell us how to operate. You always listen to God before you listen to somebody else. And after you listen to somebody else, you still listen to God. Lord, what's Your plan? What's Your plan about whether I buy this, whether I sell that, whether I go this way? In other words, this much be my friend, not my friend? What, in other words, what's Your plan? And listen. God is willing to answer that question about anything and everything you ask Him about.

So, I would simply ask you a question. In all of your planning; you and your husband, you and your wife or your children or your parents; do you ask God to give you direction for your plan? Where you go, when you go, who you go with, you name it. It's all important. And I pray that you'll not forget that. I want us to stand and have a prayer together, all right? Father, we thank You that You have a will for our life. You said You did. Thank You that You're living within every single one of us who has trusted Christ as our Savior. Thank You that You care about all the things that we care about. You care about some things that we don't even think about. You love us unconditionally. You want the best for us. You've given us Your best in Christ. All of us face decisions today and every day. I pray the Holy Spirit who indwells all of us who are believers will make us sensitive to His presence and help us to realize that every decision is important to You. And grant us this morning the wisdom to make wise decisions, having listened to You for Your guidance.

Father, I pray for somebody here who is unsaved; that they might recognize this morning their sinfulness; that they do not have Your assistance, Your help, Your guidance about anything. That if they're willing to confess their sinfulness, surrender their life to You, that You will begin at that moment to give them guidance for their life. And Lord, I pray for that person standing here who's thinking, Well, one of these days. Remind them, Lord, that they have no assurance of another day. But that today and every day You will give us guidance because You love us. And we pray this in Jesus' name, amen.
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