During the month of January our pastor, Dr. Tim McCoy, led an incredible series called, "A New Year Started Right." In case you may be curious, we attend Ingleside Baptist Church in Macon, GA. This was the second church we visited when we moved almost a year ago and we knew immediately that it was where we belonged. It was the perfect mix of contemporary and traditional, and it felt like home.
Dr. McCoy is truly a wonderful pastor, and I am excited to hear the message he brings each Sunday. During our engagement and the first three years of our marriage we attended North Point Community Church in Alpharetta, then Athens Church in Athens (We also attended Watkinsville First Baptist our last year in Athens), which are both pastored by Andy Stanley. Those of you who are familiar with Andy know that it can be challenging to find anything that compares after you've heard him preach. Well, Dr. McCoy has captured our hearts just as Andy did so many years ago. Our church gives you these handy little binders and the notes each Sunday have holes pre-punched so that you can fill out the listening outline and file it immediately! I love this!
Our prayer should be one of...
1. Joy rooted in our partnership in the Gospel.
2. Confidence that God will complete the work that He has begun in us.
3. Our love may abound more and more in knowledge, and in depth of insight.
4. We will discern what is best.
5. We will be pure and blameless.
6. We will overflow with the fruit of a right relationship with Jesus Christ.
7. We will bring great glory to God.
My sense of purpose may be at odds with what other well-meaning people desire of me. Can I get an amen?
What should I do, where should I do it? My personal sense of purpose should be connected to the larger purposes of the Father.
-Embracing the Father's purpose for my life does not spare me from suffering or difficulties in this world.
-Fulfilling God's purpose for my life is intended to bring glory to God's name.
-My purpose is to glorify, to bring pleasure to God, and to make God smile.
-"Vision is a clear mental picture of what could be fueled by the conviction of what should be." -Andy Stanley
But, a vision without a plan is just a dream. Dreams without a plan don't usually come true.
Biblical Perspectives on Planning:
1. God plans. He is purposeful. "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
"What I have said, that I will bring about; what I have planned, that I will do." Isaiah 46:11b
2. God expects me to plan. "But everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way." 1 Corinthians 14:40 "We should make plans-counting on God to direct us." Proverbs 16:9
3. Planning is spiritual work. Read 1 Chronicles 28:11-19 "...and he gave me understanding in all the details of the plan." **It is a myth that if something happens unexpectedly, it is more spiritual than if it is planned.
4. I should make plans with a spirit of humility and on-going dependence on God because God is in control and I am not ("There is no wisdom, no insight, no plan that can succeed against the Lord." Proverbs 21:30)...and my understanding of God's plan can be wrong. ("In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps." Proverbs 16:9 "Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails." Proverbs 19:21)
A Plan for Profitable Planning: Based on Nehemiah 1-2
1. Pray first. Nehemiah 1:4
2. Think it through. Nehemiah 1:1...Nehemiah had been thinking and planning for 4 months. "A wise man thinks ahead; a fool doesn't and even brags about it!" Proverbs 13:16
-Where am I now? -Where do I want to be? -How will I get there?
Failing to plan is planning to fail!
"Nothing is more profitable than serious thinking, and nothing is more demanding." -Howard Hendricks
3. Prepare for opportunity. Nehemiah 2:1-3
4. Establish a definite goal (that you can communicate in a sentence or two). Nehemiah 2:4-5
5. Establish a timeline. Nehemiah 2:6
6. Anticipate the problems. Nehemiah 2:7 " A prudent man foresees the difficulties ahead and prepares for them; the simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences." Proverbs 22:3
7. Calculate the costs. Nehemiah 2:8a Jesus said, "For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it?" Luke 14:28
8. Take action based on the plan. Nehemiah 2:9
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
I will have pressures and troubles in this world...
1. Because of the fallen nature of this world.
2. Because of the sinful or foolish actions of others.
3. Because I am a follower of Jesus. "In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted." 2 Timothy 3:12
4. Because of my own attitudes, words, choices, and actions. "Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows." Galatians 6:7
5 Ways God Uses Problems in My Life:
"It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees. The law from your mouth is more precious to me than thousands of pieces of silver and gold." Psalm 119:71-72
1. God uses my problems to direct me. "Sometimes it takes a painful experience to make us change our ways." Proverbs 20:30
2. God uses my problems to inspect me. "These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed." 1 Peter 1:7a
3. God uses my problems to correct me. "The suffering you sent was good for me, for it taught to me to pay attention to your principles." Psalm 119:71
4. God uses my problems to protect me. "You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done..." Genesis 50:20a
5. God uses my problems to perfect me. "Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." James 1:2-4
So, I know that was a lot of information, and those of you who have been regular followers know that I don't often do posts that are this heavy on Scripture. However, with this series I just really felt the Lord prompting me to share this with y'all because I think these are topics that all of us need either reassurance or guidance on. So many of us struggle with trying to determine what it is we are supposed to do with our lives. We wonder if we are doing what we are called to. We second guess ourselves. We limit ourselves by not fully allowing God to show us what He wants from us. This is where having a pastor and a church family can really help us chart our courses.
I personally believe that what sets a pastor apart and makes him exceptional is his ability to not only share the Word, but to give us application principles and to put the stories of the Bible into present day terms for us to relate to. Sharing stories, anecdotes and personal testimonies are all great and entertaining, but I long to be fed and to be given steps to apply the teachings of the Scripture to my everyday life. I yearn for depth of knowledge and true understanding of the Word. I am so thankful that we were able to find such a pastor who embodies all of these traits in a healthy and vibrant church family. It is my prayer that each of you who feel like you are wandering will find your calling and make a plan to answer it with an open heart. It is also my prayer that those of you who do not have a home church will find the strength to find one. Even if you've had a bad experience at a church, please consider giving it another chance. When our cars quit on us, do we quit driving them and start walking everywhere? No, we try another one because we have to have a way to get around.
Anyway, I hope that you can take something valuable from this series and apply it! I know I did and it's provided some clarity on some things in my life. (This was a sunrise last week from our back porch.)