Have I Missed God’s Plan?
As you ask the Lord to bless this study today, consider thanking Him for being Who He is. There is no one like our God, Who becomes for us all that He requires. Come with an open heart and a ready mind, and expect to hear from Him!
"For I know the thoughts that I think toward you," says the Lord, "Thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope," Jeremiah 29:11.
Please allow me to define guilt using Webster's 1828 dictionary:
Guilt: "...To constitute guilt there must be a moral agent enjoying freedom of will, and capable of distinguishing between right and wrong, and a willful or intentional violation of a known law, or rule of duty. The guilt of a person exists, as soon as the crime is committed... Guilt renders a person a debtor to the law, as it binds him to pay a penalty in money or suffering. Guilt therefore implies both criminality and liableness to punishment. Guilt may proceed either from a positive act or breach of law, or from voluntary neglect of known duty."
Have you missed God's plan for your life? Have you messed things up so badly that all is lost? You know that it won't be what it would have been if you had had God's best for you, and there is no going back. You can't undo what was done to you, no matter how many times you relive it or block it out of your mind. You can't make the choice again, or you would; you would do it differently. You can't do what you should have done, or not do what you shouldn't have; it's too late and there's no going back. Life keeps going, but you struggle with having missed God's perfect will for your life. How can you live with confidence and make decisions from here with this wound that never will heal? You look at your children and you know that this is not the inheritance you want to give them. Have you passed the point of hope? Does Jesus – can He – give you hope in this mess? How does God see you? Will He hear you, and if He could heal you, would He?
Let's consider titles for these conditions of life: Plan A and Plan B.
Plan A is learning what is right and having no trouble accepting it and following through on it. It is focused on the Lord in thought, word, and deed, and being totally given over and obedient to the Lord. It looks good – because it is good. To trust in the Lord with the whole heart, believing Him to be fully the God who loves, and to love others at one's own expense, and to do it right the first time; that is Plan A.
How about Plan B? This is for those who have failed. Plan B is all about falling down and needing mercy to even look up. It is far short of good; it is helpless hopelessness. This is the way of someone who has blown it so much that they aren't even sure that God can use them again. Or if He'd even want to. Weakness, failure, and selfishness exposed, it has an awareness of such unrighteousness, yet an area of numbness that doesn't want to admit it has failed that badly. That is Plan B. It will never be Plan A. How does God see this?
Plan A carries God's heart of love. It is greatness like we have never fully seen, and He loves Plan A. But because of our lack of love, He will wait for heaven to work out His Plan A. His sights are still on it. It is still His intention, but He will wait.
In our human nature, we have a desire for continuing in Plan A by refusing to acknowledge that it has been made unreachable by our own fault. So when we attempt to achieve it, we must do so using force, anger, and manipulation. We have actually set up ourselves as the measurement of what is good in this; an attempt to be our own god. This results in a system which looks good on the outside, but is dry and empty on the inside.
To enter the failure of mankind is to enter the steadfast love and self-sacrificing nature of our Mighty God. We need to know that we have God's attention. This Plan B, the place of missing God's perfect will, is where He showed us His greatest demonstration of commitment and fervent love as He took nails in His hands, in His feet. This is where He meets us where we are with eternal words of promise to give us hope and a future. It is Plan B where He promises us great things that He will fulfill unfailingly by His power. This is where we learn by personal experience the faithfulness and the love of God! This is where our own faith in Him is made authentic. Yes, you are in Plan B. And God is fully committed to Plan B!
Yet in any ground we gain, any area of life we give to Him here in Plan B, we can have a taste of Plan A; a foretaste of heaven! We'll have the full Plan A when we get to heaven, and there we will walk in it perfectly, but we can experience something of the character and the mercy of our God now, and experience Him, incredibly, because of Plan B.
Please make note of how God feels about you, and His promises to you.
Psalm 3:3 (Is God the author of shame?)
Psalm 37:37 (Remember, if you are in Christ, He has transferred His blameless and upright character to your new identity.)
Right in the place where you have failed – maybe you are afraid you married the wrong man, or are in the wrong place, maybe you've gossiped and ruined a friend's trust, acted unfaithfully, had an abortion, been violated in body or soul, or have treated your children harshly – in every kind of failure you have experienced, God has gone ahead of you, and in fact, He has a plan to use that very failure.
Please turn to the book of Joshua. Chapter 6 recounts the victory at Jericho, the first city that the children of Israel defeated. The Lord gave explicit instructions they were to follow, and with their obedience, they saw the arm of God move on their behalf. The city was taken in the Lord's name, and a place was gained for them to inhabit in the Promised Land.
A city here may picture a place in your life which has been inhabited by the enemy. The people of the city are temptations and they keep the stronghold of the city from the reign of Jesus in your life. You have God's authority as a child of His to take it under His control and, as with Jericho, maybe you have experienced God's power in your life and are longing to see Him move again. Only by your obedience will you see Him work on your behalf! Without Him, you can't; without you, He won't!
Chapter 7: A nearby city was Ai, a small town, and Joshua sent spies over to it. They knew the Lord was fighting for them, and decided to let most of the men rest, sending over 2-3,000 men to easily gain ground. But what they didn't know was that one of their own men had disobeyed the Lord and had taken some of the treasures of Jericho and hidden them for himself. Because of this sin, when the army went to fight, they were chased away and ran from Ai, confused and confounded in terror.
Joshua sought the Lord: what had gone wrong? God revealed to Joshua where there was unrepented sin (v. 11-26) and what to do about it. Only after they had cleansed the nation from sin could they proceed. It needed to be confessed and forsaken!
Here we are, in chapter 8. Now the children of Israel are sent back to Ai, and God gives them the battle plan. It will only be the same as that at Jericho in that all of the warriors were to be involved. From here the strategy is a whole new plan. They are to divide in groups and set an ambush on two sides behind Ai by night. Joshua and his men were to gather in the valley in front of the city, in plain view. When the king of Ai and his men saw the Israelites in the valley, they got themselves ready quickly and ran out to meet them in battle. The Children of Israel were to run for their lives! They fled – and when the Lord nudged Joshua that it was time, he turned and held up his spear into the air. At that signal, the men hiding in ambush rose up and came from behind, lighting the city on fire and sandwiching the men of Ai and Bethel in the middle of the armies of Israel.
They fought until every enemy soldier had been killed, and then turned to the open gates of the city. Only the livestock was to be kept as booty. Please record here (either word-for-word or in your own words) what took place in the first attack from Joshua 7:4.
Now turn to Joshua 8:5. How was this second attack to go?
This tells us something incredible about our God! He is so sovereign, and so flexible and full of grace that He will actually use our failed attempts at life as part of the strategy for coming victory. How powerful the work He did on the cross, how complete and beyond our desire to hope. He not only redeems us from the pit, but sets our feet upon a rock and enables us to be established in our walk!
See Psalm 40:1-3. In what horrible pit, miry clay, have you found yourself hopelessly stuck?
What should you do?
What are God's promises to you in verse 2?
In verse 3, what are His promises to you?
Please hold your place in Psalm 40 and also find Psalm 18:31-34. From Psalm 40:2 and Psalm 18:31, what guarantees that the place God sets you on is steady?
Psalm 18:33 says that God makes our feet like a deer, able to scale the heights, to go places without fear and with confidence. Verse 36 tells us how. How does this increase your confidence in and love for Jesus?
When He makes our way 'perfect'(verse 32), it means that from this point, after we have come to Him with our failure, we can rest in confidence in Him. The consequences of our sin He will use as His servant, as our servant. The time spent He will not deem as wasted or useless. The longer I know Jesus, the more grateful I am for Him showing me such mercy.
And the longer I know Jesus, the more I don't want to find myself in a pit or in clay! He teaches us how to avoid the pitfalls of the enemy, and we become more skilled in standing on the Word of His truth as we continue in daily study with Him. But when we do find ourselves bogged down, He will always reach us in mercy. Praise His name!!
Will you come before the Lord with me?
Our Father, You are my Redeemer. You made me, and You've bought me back again. There is no one like You, Who uses even the ashes of my life so that I can walk in Your victory. You don't treat me as my sins deserve, but You use it all to serve Your purpose: to redeem that which was lost. I worship You, Lord! By Your Spirit, I believe You that You forgive me, and that You are not ashamed of me! I believe You have a plan for my life and have already worked my failure into it by Your grace. By Your Spirit, I am not ashamed, but am trusting Your sovereign power and love! In Jesus' name, A-men!