2021 and beyond: God has a plan…so listen
Wouldn’t it be perfect if God would send down a blueprint for each of our lives? What if, when we were born, we came with an instruction manual that He wrote out for us? A manual that would outline what we should do to follow His plan for our lives? Sometimes, life can be so confusing and stressful that it can be difficult to understand what God wants for us over the noise of the world and the sounds of all the obligations pulling at us. Fortunately, God has a perfect blueprint drawn up for our lives.
Something To Talk About:
It is one thing to go to church on Sunday and hear the pastor’s sermon and another when you take time each day to devote to being in God’s word. Taking just a few minutes each day to read what’s in the Word will give you a better understanding of the calling God has put on your life, and it will allow you to better live out the life He desires for you:
- God has a plan: Jeremiah 11-13 says, “ For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.” We spend a lot of time thinking about God’s plans for us. While this is definitely a wonderful thing, it’s easy to have the attitude: “It’s all about me.” God cares about every intricate detail in our lives. Jesus said that He even numbers the hairs on our heads (Luke 12:7). And after all, when compared to God, everything is small. But should we expect that the main purpose of God’s plans is to make us happy right here, right now? Jeremiah wrote to a group of people held captive. They were ripped from their homes and now live in exile. He was reminding them that although they’re not where they expected, God has not forgotten them. Even amidst this insanely hard situation, God’s plan will stand. As Jeremiah knows very well, God’s plans are always good. God hasn’t forgotten them. God hasn’t forgotten His people—just like He hasn’t forgotten us. Just a few verses earlier, we see a big part of God’s plan for them is to “work for the peace and prosperity of the city where I sent you into exile” (Jeremiah 29:7). In other words, God wants them to know His plans are not just to benefit them personally. God is also telling them that He is not removing them from the situation immediately. He does promise to restore them, but it’s not coming quickly. It may take time but God will fulfill His plan.
- Learn to listen: I believe we can learn to listen to God if we are equipped with the right tools. The first tool is a regular time and place. Select a slot on your schedule and a corner of your world, and claim it for God. Take enough time to say what you want and for God to say what He wants. The second tool is an open Bible. Pray first, asking God to help you understand it. Study the Bible a little at a time. Read until a verse “hits” you. Then meditate on it and write it down. The third tool is a listening heart. We know we’re listening when what we read in the Bible is what others see in our lives. If you want to be just like Jesus, spend time listening for Him until you receive your lesson for the day—and then apply it. Mastering the art of listening is one of our greatest challenges. We tend to want to jump in and fill in the blanks. The question is do we do the same thing to God. We need to discipline ourselves to remain silent. The art of listening for God invites me into a realm I find uncomfortable: silence. I must quiet my heart and embrace the stillness that allows me to truly know that He is God. Silence asks me to close my mouth in order to open my heart. The first few moments of silence are the hardest. In the stillness, a wave of things we need to do. Listening forces me to learn patience. Waiting isn’t easy and doesn’t always deliver the answer we desire. Learning to hear, recognize, and discern the ways in which God speaks isn’t quick. But in the waiting time, God works within us in ways that are unrecognizable at first but over time reveal their worth.
- Would you describe yourself as a planner, why or why not? What are the essential components of a good plan? What makes them essential?
- Why is it sometimes difficult to believe God works out things for your good in a world of sin and suffering?
- What plans have you been making for yourself? How well do they reflect your trust in God and His destiny and purpose for your life? Why do you think God lets us make decisions about our destiny?
- How does truly trusting God’s plan for your life affect your prayer life, your relationships with other people, and your perspective on world events?
- What decision is God asking you to make today? How will you respond?
- Read Hebrews 1:1 What is this saying about God speaking in the OT and NT?
- God speaking is receiving communication from God. We receive this through whatever vehicle God uses, usually, in a manner, we can hear, as He chooses, at the time He desires. So as you look back, do you see times when God may have been speaking to you and you may have never realized it?
- God speaks through the Holy Spirit in an “inner voice” Have you experienced this? What was the effect on you? How did it impact your faith? Your closeness to God?
- What are some things that would hinder us from hearing from God?
- Talk about the benefits of the Bible and how we can hear God speak through the Bible.
- Reflect with your group on what you have learned from this message. Has anything surprised you? Have you learned something new?
- Share with your group any changes you want to make as a result of hearing this sermon?
Take one thing home with you:
You will trust God only as much as you love Him. You will also only love God as much as you trust Him. As you drive along your journey in life, you’ll find that confidence in God’s love is always coupled with trust: both are necessary to accept God’s plan for your life and enable you to go anywhere that God is taking you without fear. Give God control of your life. Granted, this can be hard, especially when life is tough and you’re not sure where the road may lead. However, moment by moment, if you choose to trust Him; if you let go, you’ll find peace, rest, contentment, communication, and joy.