Do you have a plan in life? Most of us plan our educational path, our career path, we make family plans, house plans, yard plans, and on and on. However, we often don’t think about planning for our spiritual lives with God. Did you know God has a plan for you? Just as a coach challenges his team, Jesus challenges us with his teaching in the Sermon on the Mount regarding HIS plan for the Christian life. It is HIS plan for YOUR life.
God’s plan isn’t about “right” and “wrong” and a general behavior modification program as many believe. It is about internal, formational heart and soul changes. This isn’t about becoming “your best self” as pop culture would promote, but about becoming the you God created you to be - from the inside out. Ultimately that will provide the most joy, peace and happiness in life. In fact, Scripture tells us when we stay plugged “into the vine” (John 15), we are promised what is known as the “fruits of the spirit.” In Galatians 5:22-23 those fruits are laid out for us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. Who doesn’t want those fruits in their lives? However, God’s plan does not mean it will always be easy and work out the way we expect. Doing all the exercises and putting in the hard work the coach requires is not easy either. But there is an ultimate goal and purpose. In the book of James we are told it will be hard to do life with God and with His plan for our lives. However, it is always for our ultimate best! Do you trust God with HIS plan for your life? Are you ready to seek--and live out--that plan with all your heart, mind, body and strength?
INVITATION: Why not study the teachings of Jesus about this “upside down kingdom”? Why not study HIS plan that can produce the fruits of the spirit? Are you ready to consider God’s plan as your plan? Are you ready to have the Holy Spirit “coach” you during your day in day out life? Are you willing to listen for his still, small voice?
MONDAY: Matthew 6:1-4: When you order your life around God, what is the true motivation in your heart? Is it truly for the love of God, or have other motives crept in? These verses deal with your heart stance toward giving. Are you giving to others for God, or are you doing it for human accolades, attention and approval? Perhaps you can begin to pray for a genuine heart this week. God is all about heart change, and only he can do it. Our own efforts in our own power will not elicit these internal changes God calls for.
TUESDAY: Matthew 6:5-15: Jesus next teaches about heart stance and genuineness regarding prayer. Then, he gives us a model for prayer in the “Our Father” or the “Lord’s Prayer.” Spend some time today thinking about the true meaning behind the words Jesus gave in this prayer. It wasn’t meant to be exact words to memorize and say here and there in a rote way. These words are meant to guide us and shape our hearts as we seek to live according to God’s plan while we are here on this earth. Consider taking this prayer into your day today, asking Jesus to have it permeate and resonate within you in a new and deep way. Does a particular word or phrase stand out for you? Ask God what that might mean.
WEDNESDAY: Matthew 6:9:13: Once again, we look at The Lord’s Prayer. Someone once approached an ancient teacher and asked her how to cultivate a deeper prayer life. “Say the Lord’s Prayer,” she replied, “but take an hour to say it.” Far from being a quick, rote form, this prayer Jesus taught us can become a life giving pattern for rich communion with God. Take some time today to slowly and meditatively pray the phrases of this prayer. Consider each clause an invitation to be specific and personal with Jesus. What invitations do you hear God speaking to you?
THURSDAY: Matthew 6:16-18: These verses deal with fasting and again teach about our true interior motives. Interesting, the verse says “WHEN you fast…” It seems to have an assumption that on the Christian life journey fasting will be a spiritual practice. Fasting can involve many areas of life other than just food. Has there ever been any kind of fasting in your spiritual life? Why or why not? Are you willing to ask God about this area of the Christian journey and what He might have for your life? Even if you have some resistance, ask God about that.
FRIDAY: Matthew 6:19-24: We all have the potential to do the right things for the wrong reasons. We all crave and long for recognition, appreciation, attention and approval. But God’s plan for our lives is to get up each day and live sacrificially FOR HIM and for HIS GLORY - - not for any man-made reason. No one can serve two “masters.” Is there a master in your life other than God? Is it motivating your life or somehow determining your value? Things the world sets up as ultimate goals eventually make cruel masters and enslave us. Think about it in your life. Do you and God need to “watch film” and have a new game plan together? Perhaps that “game film” is digging deep into your interior life, i.e. your motives and your heart stance. It never feels good to make big life and value changes initially, but ultimately your life will radiate the fruits of the spirit and you will live in freedom. Living for the benefit of Jesus and not the world is a game changer.
SATURDAY: Matthew: 6:25-34: Righteousness doesn’t come naturally or passively to us. We have to seek it. In fact, it is something we’re told to seek FIRST, along with God’s kingdom. What are your primary pursuits? What do you value most? What do you think about as you lie awake at night or drive down the road in the middle of the day? What aspects of your life occupies most of your energy? How does your life reflect your desire to seek God’s kingdom and experience his righteousness? Pastor Adam showed a film clip of a coach pushing an athlete beyond what he thought he could do. Keep going and going and going in this life. It's hard. This is NOT our permanent home. We are not made for this world. Keep going for Jesus. Keep going knowing there is an ultimate purpose and an ultimate plan.