When God Changes Your Plans - Acts 16:6-10 NIV
This is a question we ask all the time when things don't go the way we expect. Why? And is God really involved? How should we respond?
#1 - God has _________________for us .
Before we talk about Paul's experience, we need to address this - God DOES have good plans for us!
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11 NIV
Not everything that happens to us happens because God ordained it personally against us. In fact, God is on our side. He desires for us to thrive, to prosper. He does not wish us harmed. He wants us to feel hopeful. He wants us to know that we have a good future! But also...
"Many are the plans in a person's heart, but it is the LORD's purpose that prevails." Proverbs 19:21 NIV
Ultimately it is God's purpose that prevails. There is only ONE God. We should always want our plans to serve His purpose. In any battle between God's will and our will, God's will wins! We should be comforted that God is good. His purpose is good! One more thing...
"I'm convinced that God, who began a good work in you, will carry it through to completion on the day of Christ Jesus." Philippians 1:6 GWT
Not only does God have good plans for us and not only is God's purpose good, but He also has the power to see this good work through to completion!
All 3 are necessary. Take any one out and we have a problem.
(1) If God had good plans as well as good purposes but no power to carry it out OR
(2) God had good plans and all the power, but His purposes were not good OR
(3) God had good purposes and power, but didn't really care for us individually one way or the other... then God's plans for us wouldn't be a comfort. Would be a torment.
God has good plans for us, has a good purpose, and has ability to cary them out! Amen!
#2 - Three ways we are led by the Holy Spirit: (How-to section)
A) By __________________ .
Sometimes God "hems us in."
"Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia." Acts 16:6 NIV
This is not really a "yes" or a "no" but a combination of the two. Paul, I want you to preach here (a "yes"), but I don't want you to preach there (a "no.")
Have you ever felt like there were boundaries in your life? You can go only so far, but no farther? It is at times like these that we really need to hold to all the things we learned in #1 above. It's also useful to know that this boundary life is not permanent. God may have something better for us later, but the boundaries now keep us waiting. Tough patience!
One boundary we must always keep in mind:
"All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." 2 Timothy 3:16-17 NIV
Often we don't need to ask the Holy Spirit for guidance because He has already answered our question in the Bible. I'm not suggesting that every specific and personal issue of God's will for your life will be answered in the Bible. But we should be assured that God's Word establishes boundaries for how we live our lives. God's Holy Spirit will never contradict God's Word!
B) By _______ .
Sometimes the answer is a hard, clear "NO!"
"When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to." Acts 16:7 NIV
3 things to remember about "no" in light of #1 above.
(1) God may know things that we do not. We think that job, or that boyfriend, or that house, or that career would really make us happy. But it may only cause us grief. How many of you can remember a time when you got exactly what you wanted only to find out it wasn't so great after all?
(2) No doesn't always mean "no forever." It may mean "No, not yet."
(3) No may also mean, "I've got something so much better for you!"
C) _______ .
We don't even have to ask. God sometimes jus says "GO!"
"After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them." Acts 16:10 NIV
Notice that this "Go!" was by a vision. God does proactively plants seeds of ideas into our minds. Especially when we have been disciplined about our quiet / devotion times with God. This is why it's so important to carve out time in our busyness to get down to business with God. How would you ever know what God may want for you if you don't take time to hear from Him?
So how do we handle when God's plans are different? Two things...
#3 - When God's plans are different than ours, we _________ and __________ .
"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." Romans 15:13 NIV
Sometimes it's all about trusting God. That doesn't come easy or quickly. The above verse is tricky in terms of order. Notice that joy and peace come "AS" we trust in Him. Both happen simultaneously but only "AS" we are already trusting. No trust? No joy and peace. Then from that hope comes in an overflowing abundance. And that is powered directly by Holy Spirit in our lives. Joy and Peace - automatic. Hope - powered by God!
This "trusting" is not always easy or obvious, especially when our plans are not working out the way we want them to. This is why we are instructed to NOT LEAN on OUR OWN UNDERSTANDING.
"Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and he will make your paths straight." Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV
We won't always understand. That's the why of trusting. And submitting. Submitting here really means, "God, I'm going along with your plans right now even though I don't get it. I don't understand. But I know you love me. I know you are good. I know you want only the best for me. I know you will work it out in the long run. I want what you want!
That attitude leads us right into the second thing we do...
#4 - When God changes our plans, we should _____________ .
"For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." 2 Corinthians 4:17-18 NIV
Worship is not all praise music and singing. When worship is done right it's all about fixing our eyes upon God. Seeing the things we cannot physically see. Knowing that whatever I'm going through right now is temporary. But that we serve an eternal God. Who has eternal good plans in mind for us. And that we are eager to see those plans fulfilled!