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Jack Graham - God's Plan for Your Life

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    Jack Graham - God's Plan for Your Life
TOPICS: LifeWorks, God's Plan, Meaning of Life

Martin Luther King had a dream and it was the result of a dream and his heart that America was dramatically changed. You have plans, you have dreams in your life. For some of you, students, college students, high school students, it may be to graduate and you're planning on graduating this spring. How's that working? I hope that's working well for you. For some of you, you're single and you're making plans to get married. Or for some of you, you're praying for a child, you're praying that God would give you a child and you begin starting a family. For some of you, you're just planning to make it to lunch, you're just trying to get through the day. Maybe it's losing weight or whatever your goals, your dreams, your ambitions, maybe it's investing money. The stock market is pretty volatile right now and you're thinking if I could just know the future, if I just had a plan about the future. Jeremiah 29:11 says, God's plan for you is not to harm you, not to hurt you but for your welfare, to give you a future and a hope.

The message that I have for you today from James, is a very practical and a very personal message. It regards God's plan and God's future for your life. Interested? Good. James 4 verse 13, come now you who say today and tomorrow we will go to such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit, yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? Good question. For you're a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, if the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that. As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. Whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it for him it is sin.

James is telling us a story. It is a story that happens all the time in his day and in our day. It is about a businessman, a business person who is planning the future. This guy has got it together, he's obviously successful, he's ready, he's read Trump's art of the deal, he's on his way, he's working his cell phone, he's a got the corporate jet waiting and the wheels are about to go up. Again, so far so good, it's all right. He sure is going to have a winning successful business trip. He's going to a certain town, he has a plan. What he's going to do, how he's going to do it but something is missing. The most vital interest is missing, no God. He's planning his life and his future, his business without God. He's not living a godless life necessarily. In fact he might even be a believer of sort. He may believe in God. He's not Godless but he's living his life God less, without God. He's making decisions and making plans and God apparently isn't in his plans.

The fact is, if you plan your life to do anything, to do business or whatever, if you don't know where you're from, who made you and why you're here, you'll never know where you're going and why you're going there. God does have a plan for your life. This man was miscalculating at several levels that I want to mention to you today. He was presuming, pridefully presuming that he was in charge of his life, that he was in control of his days and his destiny but he was missing on several counts. One, on the uncertainty of life, on the uncertainty of life. He says in verse 13, "Come now you who say today or tomorrow we're going to go here, we're going to go there, spend a year, trade, make a profit". He said, "But you don't know what tomorrow will bring".

You don't know how uncertain life is, because this man, no man or woman is promised another day but today. This is the day God has made. The Bible says do not boast about tomorrow for you don't know what a day will bring. This is why Jesus tells us, live every day one day at a time. Don't worry about tomorrow, you can't change tomorrow don't spend your energy, your time, your efforts worrying about tomorrow, live today. Now, of course a lot of people they live life by chance. It's just whatever comes que sera sera. Some people want to get really lucky in life and so they go to the power ball and try.

I asked a researcher to give me some statistics on what are your chances of winning the power ball. That would be 1 in 292 million plus. Now, to put that in comparison with some other chances that people take every day. One, you've got a 1 in 3 chance of dying of heart disease, oops. You have 1 in 215 chances of dating a millionaire. Should we go on? Yeah, 1 in 464 or 4,644 to be injured while using a chainsaw. Oh here's one. One in 10,000 chance being injured by a toilet. I didn't say on a toilet, I said by a toilet. I'm not sure what that means. One in 600,000 plus of being killed by fireworks. Oh here's one. One in 2,300,000 to be struck by lightning.

Now, I was never very good at math but if I could just do some quick math here if there's 1 in 292 million to win the lottery, then if I have a 1 in 2 million chance of being struck by lightning then that means I have a better chance of being struck by lightning 100 times than winning the lottery, the power ball lottery. But, think about that, so many people are, they're just living their life by chance or hoping for a better day, better love, maybe I'll win the lottery and poor people. It's a bad thing. Remember your hope is in the Lord, not in the lottery. Let me give you a good number. You're looking for some numbers, try 419. Philippians 4:19, my God shall supply all of your needs according to his riches and glory in Jesus Christ. We don't need the lottery, we have the Lord. What about 3:20. "My God is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we can ask or think".

Use that number. It's a bad idea for the government to be running a gambling operation. They say, "Well it's just fine, it's just fine you've tried, there you go again trying to ruin all my fun. Just you know I just like to get a ticket, it's 10 bucks. I get to dream about being a billionaire, it's worth the 10 bucks". Well, it's really not. Plus this is on the back of poor people typically is a bad idea. The Lord is your portion, the Lord is your provisions and Christians never need to lean on luck. We have the Lord Jesus Christ at our lives. So, this man is boasting. He's pridefully living without God. He's got a huge ego. He's prideful, you know what ego is? E-G-O, edging God out? He's presuming on his life that he has another day. Life is tissue-paper-thin. James is saying, what is your life, it's so uncertain, it's like a, it's a mist, it's so short. There's some scriptures about that.

First Chronicles 29:15 says, "We are strangers before you and sojourners". As our fathers were, our days on the earth are like a shadow and there is no abiding. That is nobody lives forever. Our lives are like a shadow, we're sojourners here. Job 7:6, my days are swifter than a weaver's shuttle and come to there end without hope. How could you live like that without hope? "My days", he said are like a weaver shuttle moving quickly. Psalm 90 verses 9 and 10, for all our days pass away under your wrath. We bring our years to an end with a sigh. The years of our life for 70 and even by reason of strength 80, and yet their span is but toil and trouble, they are soon gone and we fly away. Yes, life is uncertain. But, not only the uncertainty of life but this man presumed upon the brevity of life. Don't presume up on the brevity life. I don't know about you but I'm wondering these days, who push the fast forward button? Really? When we're young tiny sort of crawls and you can't wait to get older, can't wait to get out of class.

I remember sitting in class just watching the clock, waiting for it to move, it never moves. You can't wait to get your driver's license, you can't wait to graduate, you can't wait to get I mean and it's just, slow down. Then maybe at midlife it stalls and churning water a little bit. Then as you get a little older, life starts speeding up, doesn't it, and starts moving faster and faster. We find ourselves in a race against time. We ought to do the best we can with the time that we have. Your physical health is very important. Your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. You need to take time for the temple, your physical life, physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually we are one.

Paul said in first Thessalonians 5:13, "That we should be sanctified, made more like Christ, body, soul and spirit". This is a spiritual commitment, to take care of ourselves. We should never abuse our bodies in any way whether it's food or drink. It produces sickness and sluggishness and many people are old before their time because they are not really taking care of themselves. Yes therefore, eat well and exercise well and rest well and manage stress well and all the rest. I would encourage you as I do to get a check up, an annual check up every year to measure your health and to pick up problems that you can deal with early.

In 2009, in my annual physical, they picked up prostate cancer. Thank God I did that physical. I'm now healed, I'm now well. I'm through all of that, but the fact is, it could have been a very different story. All of you men, make sure you're getting your PSA checked. Make sure guys and girls that you're getting your body checked out. Then, based on your doctor's recommendation, get in a fitness program. Doctor Ken Cooper is my physician and he's known as the father of aerobics. He's an outstanding Christian man and physician. Doctor Cooper says, "If you don't have time to exercise, then you better prepare to take time to be sick". Get moving, you don't have to be a marathoner just get moving and get some counsel and drop some pounds and discipline your mind and body. It may not add. It may but it may not add years to your life but I promise you it will add life to your years.

That's what we want. Dr Cooper talks about squaring off the curve. He says in so many people's lives, it's just a slow decline down down down down down down down down and then death. That's not how God made our bodies. He talks about squaring off the curve. That you live healthy lives and then you're gone. That's a good way to think about it. I will say this, having said all of that, life is still very short. No matter how long and how well you live. In the race of life, in the race of life, there's one that you cannot be, father time. Amen. I mean father time eventually wins. The Bible therefore tells us the number our days that we may apply our hearts to wisdom. We're taught in the scripture to redeem the time, to seize the day. Live every day fully.

Jesus promised a flourishing life, a full and fulfilling life. He said, "I've come that you might have life and have it more abundantly". The key is not to aim for a long life necessarily, but as Jim Elliot the martyred missionary said, "To live a full life like the Lord Jesus". Make a difference while you're here. God did not give us life just so we could take up space or just to make a living but to make a life and to make a difference in people's lives all around us. This is why it is so important to invest our time, our treasure and talent in the work of Christ in his Church. In the ministry of evangelism after we're talking about, think of the eternal impact you can have on someone's life when you pray for them, invite them and bring them. I'm saying your life is short.

If you keep saying, "I'm going to share Christ with my family member. I'm going to share Christ with my child. I'm going to share Christ", what are you waiting for? What are you waiting for? "Well, you know, I don't want to push too hard. I don't want to run people off", but where are you going to run them to? Hell number 2? People are without Christ, they need Jesus and now's the time. Today's the day. Don't presume on the uncertainties of life and don't presume on the brevity of life. One final thing, don't presume on the sanctity of life. Now here's the problem this guy had. He was, as I mentioned living his life without God. He was living like so many people today live. A secular life. Oh, he may have gone to church, he may have gone to worship, he may have had some notion about God, about Jesus, but every day of his life he lived as if though God did not exist. We call that a practical atheist.

You say, "Well, I'm no atheist", but you're living by all counts as though God does not exist because you're not including him. We divide life up too often between the sacred and the secular. Well you know Sunday morning, that's sacred. I'm going to church, good. Really glad you're here. Really glad you're watching online. Good. Then if you think but on Monday, come Monday is business baby. You don't live the same way on Monday as you say you live on Sunday and you cut off. You live in a little compartment. You have the religious side or the sacred side over here and the rest of the time you think that's my time. That's my time. That's making money time, that's business time. Nothing wrong with doing business or making money, but remember this, if you are a follower of Jesus, every day is a holy day. Every day is God's day. All time is God's time. Everything belongs to him. That's why I say the sanctity of life.

This guy is thinking, I don't owe God anything on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday. He lived his life without the Lord. He didn't understand the sanctity of life. All of life is a gift from God. Born and unborn. Created by God in mother's womb. Even before you were born God had a plan for your life. Jeremiah 1:5, before I formed you in the womb I knew you and before you were born I consecrated you. I appointed you a prophet to the nations. And to what was true for the prophet is true for every person. The psalmist said in Psalm 139:13, For you formed my inward parts and you knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise you for I'm fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works, my soul knows it very well.

Life begins before birth. Life begins in the womb. We're determined by God's grace to keep fighting the good fight of faith to end this holocaust in our nation which is abortion. In the past generation revolving out of the sexual revolution of the 60's came Roe V Wade and now since Roe V Wade 60 million abortions in America. I tell you this, minds are turning, minds are changing. We have an opportunity in this generation. I say to the next generation. Some of you are in your teens and 20s. You have an opportunity in your generation to end this terrible thing of abortion in America. You do, you do. That's why we say elections matter. You must vote. Register to vote. How can you be an American and not be registered to vote.

The last election, the last presidential election over 30 million evangelical Christians did not participate and about half of these weren't even registered to vote. It's vital that we vote for people who are pro-life. I quote Jerry Falwell on this and I agree and say Amen. "I wouldn't vote for dogcatcher for anyone who was pro-choice. It's bad for the dogs". Only God can fill the void, the vacancy, the hole in your heart. What is your life? For many people, life's a vacation. It's just fun and games. Then they die and there's no fun and games in a Christ-less grave. For a lot of people life is a void, just there's nothing and there's, it's a vanity, a hole in their hearts. No purpose, no meaning, no direction.

There's a man like that in the Old Testament, his name was Solomon. You know Solomon as a great man, a man of wisdom. He tells his story in the book of Ecclesiastes how early on he was trying everything and anything to find meaning in his life. He was partying, it was pleasure, it was women, it was wine, it was song it was making money, it was all and he had it all, but he concluded life under the sun on a horizontal plane. Vanity of vanities, all is vanity. Meaning nothing, nothing, nothing. Empty, life is empty for so many people.

Jesus talked about a man who was a wealthy man, he was a wealthy farmer and he had so much and he is on a hammock and he's drinking his margarita and he's having a great day. He's thinking how much more money can I make and how many more barns can I build. "Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow you die". That's the way some people live. Life is meaningless so I'm going to have as much fun as I can. "There came a knock that night", Jesus said, (a knock at his door), He said, "Who is it"? He said, "Death is at your door". "That man awakened in hell", Jesus said. He had it all planned. He had it all together, he thought. He was having fun, he was living the life, but without God and without hope. Again Jesus said, "I've come that you might have life". Life with a capital L. Life can be a vanity, can be a vexation for so many people, life can be miserable.

There's so much suffering in the world and there's so much pain in the world. What is your life? Paul said, "For that me to live is Christ and to die is gain". Do you know Christ? The purpose of your life is to know and do the will of God. That's why James tells us here, you ought to have said, you should have said, "This is how you live, if it be the Lord's will". I will do this, I will do that, I will go here, I will go there, if it be the Lord's will. Success in life is knowing and doing the will of God. It is the progressive realization in your life of God's will and God's purpose. Surrendering your life to do the will of God. I get asked questions all the time about the future of course and then about our daily decisions, how we make decisions, how do we know the will of God? Should I buy that house? Should I get married? Should I go to this school?

Here is what I've discovered about the will of God over time. Romans 12:1 and 2 referenced earlier says, "Present your body as a living sacrifice under God". Your reasonable service, your reasonable worship, and don't be transformed or don't be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, the way you think, by the power of Christ that you may demonstrate, prove, live, the perfect good and acceptable will of God. I know this about God's will for your life if you're a Christian. It's good, is perfect and acceptable. It may not always feel good, it may not always look good but God is always working everything together for our good for his purpose and His glory and for our best in life.

If you will surrender your days to the Lord, your destiny will be given to him. I found in life, most of the time the will of God doesn't hit me in the face. I mean there are on a few occasions when I just really sense God thundering something in my soul and speaking in my heart and I know the scripture says, "As many as are led by the Spirit of God these are the children of God". We're led by the word, we're led by the Spirit, we're led by godly counsel but most of the time I'm seeing God's will unfold in my life when I just am obedient to what is right in front of me and do what God's call me to do right now.

The question of the will of God is not what am I going to do the next 20 years but what am I going to do the next 15 minutes. Yes, the will of God is not something you have to do, it's something you get to do. It's God's best, God's plan, God's purpose, it's good, perfect and acceptable. God would choose for you what you would choose for yourself if you had sense enough to choose it. He knows what is right, he knows what is best. Just stay steady. Be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord. You know your labor in the Lord is not in vain, so stay steady, stay strong, do what is in front of you and God will just unveil. God will keep showing you what the next step is and the next step and where you're to go now and what's you're to do next. That's the will of God. Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Do not lean under your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will direct your path.
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