July 31, 2023

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare[a] and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

-Jeremiah 29:11

How many times have you planned a big ride, well in advance, only to have the weather come along and change those plans?  We had that happen, just this past Memorial Day weekend.  Our annual trip to Maggie Valley had been planned since February, everyone was excited because we had such a great time last year.  As the date got a little closer, there was rain playing hide and seek in the forecast.  One day it was there, the next day it was gone.  This continued for two weeks leading up to the trip.  A few days prior to the trip, the rain was hanging around in the forecast and looked a little more certain.  However, not only did it look like it was definitely going to rain, it also looked like the temperature was going to drop.  So now it was looking rainy AND cold, perfect riding weather, especially when you are talking about riding in the mountains.  Steadily, people began dropping out of the ride but there were still a few who were determined to go.  The day of the ride came and ultimately, almost everyone bailed on the trip.  

I’m sure many of us have heard the Yiddish adage that translates as “man plans, God laughs.”  This applies to our lives, to all of our lives, and it is one that I am personally wrestling with as I work on the devotion for this week.  Subjecting ourselves to God’s will is easier said than done.  For the past two weeks I have been preparing for an interview for a promotion and I told myself that if it is a part of God’s will then it will be done.  I interviewed this morning and, regrettably, I did not get the job.  But here’s the problem, as I dig deeper into my focus for our devotion, I want God’s will to align with my will, not the other way around.  If I were truly willing to subject myself to God’s will and His plan, then I wouldn’t be so disheartened by the decision that was made.  It reveals to me a lack of trust in God and that He will guide my steps and that His plan is greater than my plan.  I admit this to all of you, knowing full well that I am not the only one who has struggled with this, but we all must be able to admit it to ourselves because it reveals to us a shortcoming in our faith and reminds us that perfection is unattainable.  It’s humbling, to be sure.

You see, we should learn to trust in God’s will for our lives, not just say that we are willing.  It is easy to say that we are obedient to God’s will when it seems to align so perfectly with what we want and desire.  But what happens when God’s will does not align with what we want?  Well, then we become somewhat despondent and downcast when we should be rejoicing in the knowledge that God is preparing us for something else.

Paul says this in his first letter to Thessalonica.

“give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

-1 Thessalonians 5:18

Those first two words are completely counter to what the human side of us wants to do in these circumstances.  We do not want to give thanks when things do not go our way, or meet our wants.  We want to be upset and we want to be angry.  But Paul tells us that we should give thanks because this is the will of God.  What could be more powerful than the will of God?  I can promise you that my will definitely does not exceed God’s will, it doesn’t even compare to God’s perfect will, so why do I get hurt or angry?  It’s because I am a human, taking it one step further, I am a human born into sin and that sin nature can make me selfish and forgetful of God’s will in my life and my commitment to willingly subject myself to His will.  Remember, our sanctification is a process.  

When we submit ourselves to God, we acknowledge His Lordship in our lives. We must give up our own desires, hopes, and wants and choose to follow Jesus wherever He leads. It can be hard to submit to God at times, but it is what we must do.

It is easier to listen to our sinful nature and follow after it rather than submit to Christ. It is more difficult to submit to God, but it is the right thing to do. As Christians, the Holy Spirit can help us submit to God. Since the Holy Spirit is the Third Member of the Trinity, He is God.

The Holy Spirit can help us submit to God by obeying Him and following Him. With the help of the Holy Spirit, we can cultivate the fruits of the Spirit in our lives.  These fruits of the Spirit are mentioned in the book of Galatians

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”

-Galatians 5:22-23

We must learn to accept the circumstances and events in our lives, those that are counter to our personal wants and desires.  We must understand that these are part of a plan and a design that is bigger than any of us, and we should do all we can to truly put our hope and trust in Jesus Christ.

I will close with these words from Hebrews:

“For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised.”

-Hebrews 10:36

We must endure and we must truly trust in Him, not just say that we do when it is convenient.  We were never promised it would be easy.

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