Challenging Days: Part Four
A Prayer to Open Our Study
“Heavenly Father, we surrender our will to You. Please help us persevere. Sometimes we feel like giving up. As we vacillate between Your will and our own desires. Give us the strength to endure the trials You have set up for our good.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen."
God Has A Plan And Purpose:
Mr. Stanley wants us to know that God has a plan and a purpose for our lives. That He is preparing us to live with Him forever; and that He has infinite numbers of ways to bring us to new levels of maturity in Christ. He knows who and what to bring into our lives to accomplish His very specific goals. Our problem is although we want the same goal as God, we would much rather that He would go about getting us there in a less painful way.
9. Charles had us read (Isaiah 55:8-9), “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways… As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts” Then he asked us, what does this teach us abut God’s plans for your life?
God’s ways are difficult for us to understand; but we can have confidence in God’s sovereignty. What does the Sovereignty of God mean? The word sovereign means to be in complete control of something. God is sovereign, which means He is in complete control of everything in the entire universe. God has the right to do whatever He wants. He is not bound or limited by the dictates of His created beings. Further, He is in complete control over everything that happens here on Earth. God's will is the ultimate cause of all things. The result of trusting in God’s sovereignty is knowing that His good purpose will be achieved. Nothing can hinder God's plan; history will be worked out according to the will of God.
The disappointments or disruptions may not make sense to us in the middle of the transition. When we’re called to lay aside our plans and live something different or waiting in a long season of widowhood, rehabbing from an injury or illness, or going bankrupt, it’s hard to understand why God would force us to walk this journey instead of giving us what we want.
Our new life in God's Spirit is based on his purposes for us, and sometimes that includes suffering. Difficulties in this life serve a purpose in God's sovereign plan. We cannot understand everything God does in our lives, because we cannot see from his perspective (Isaiah 55:8). We do not know what he is trying to accomplish or what mercies he is pouring out for us on this new path. Still, we can know that nothing in his plan will ultimately harm us, and everything in his plan will ultimately be better for us.
Read Proverbs 19:21 and Romans 8:28 and Isaiah 46:9–11
10. In the final question for this lesson Mr. Stanley asks, how do you feel about the prospect that God may have a purpose for adversity in your life?
I don’t really care for it at all, and I bet you don’t either. If God’s end plan for my husband and I was to serve in His house, how much easier it would have been for Joe and I to get right to work at the church, without all the upset and losses. But the truth is we wouldn’t have just dropped our business like the disciples dropped their fishing nets and applied for the Pastor and wife position. God in His infinite wisdom knew we would need a push to change our lives.
Stepping forward on a path different from what we would have chosen is intimidating. Often the way seems impossible to us. The Lord calls us to believe that He will provide and make the impossible possible. As each step unfolds, we are called to trust that God knows what He is doing and that He is taking us exactly where He wants us to be (Proverbs 3:5–6) “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”
Therefore, we have the choice of either trusting in our own understanding by continuing to force our own plans to work, or we can choose to trust God and ask that our desires be transformed into His desires. By His grace, we are empowered to forgo what we once wanted in order to say “Yes” to what He is asking of us now.
God’s plan is not about depriving us of good things. He delights to give His children good gifts. He also desires, above all else, for us to follow Him and delight in Him. Sometimes God will make us sacrifice something we want to secure our heart for the greatest good, Himself. It’s okay to acknowledge that change and disappointment are hard. But we also know that what we will be given instead is much more valuable than any goal or plan we could have created for ourselves.
Read James 4:13-16 and Acts 14:22 and Ephesians 1:11
Charles Stanley wants us to consider these thoughts: Today and Tomorrow
Today: God actually uses adversity to bring good things into my life.
Tomorrow: I will ask the Lord this week to change my way of looking at hardships.
Closing Prayer, Charles Stanley
"Father, we want to grow in You and become spiritually mature as believers in Christ. We want to learn the principles by which we are to live this life victoriously, triumphantly, excitedly, happily, joyously and we know that as we open Your Word, this is what happens. We want to get Your viewpoint so that everything in our lives takes on the sense of delight and transforming joy. For this we thank You and praise You today, in Jesus’ name. Amen."
Come join the conversation on my blog. I want to hear from you about your thoughts on lesson one.