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GOD'S PLAN FOR YOU

Ephesians 1:11-12
20th July 2003

More than 10% of all university students in Australia drop out of their courses before they have finished even the first year. Dr Clive Williams, Head of student counselling at Sydney University, made this point: "Very few students drop out of their courses because they are unable to complete higher education. Most discontinue their courses because they lack direction or a plan in their life. Many students in faculties such as Science, Education or Arts, dropped out because they had no clear idea of what they were going to do or what kind of a job they were preparing for."

Some drop out of university because they do not have a clear plan, direction or goal. Some drop out of life because they do not have any clear plan for living. Many people feel that life has no plan, no destiny, no goal, no purpose. Many people feel they are powerless and the forces of life push them around. Some time ago I read an appeal letter that was sent out to thousands of businesses in South Australia. The organisation wanted funds to train youth. There are many young people in Australia who are unemployed and many coming onto the work market. They wanted to train young people to live permanently on the dole. They were not going to be trained to acquire a skill or be trained to help themselves break into a workforce or do something constructive in society. They were simply going to be trained to enjoy themselves while they are permanently unemployed. Some young people might think that could be a great future. But let me tell you, it is one of the worst things possible, to say "we don't expect you can make any contribution to society. You are not needed."

It is no use blaming social forces, or this government or that government because they have robbed you of the opportunity of a future or for work or for a plan. You have to discover within, a plan, a goal, some direction and motivation. Well, hear the good news! God has plan for your life. It does not matter whether you are advanced in years doing nothing with the rest of your life, or just retired; or whether you are a young married couple who seem to be both working to pay only the accumulated debts; or if you are a teenager facing the prospect of unemployment; it does not matter your age or circumstance all who feel you are only existing and not living, hear the good news: God has a plan for your life!

Nothing could be more exciting. In spite of everything that might come upon you - hardship, difficulties, persecution, - if you believe that God has a plan for your life it is going to make all the difference to everything that ever happens. How we need to discover that ordinary people, together with God, make a majority. If you could only realise that God has a plan for your life. God has done great things in Jesus Christ and He has something special in mind for you. "In all His wisdom and insight God did what He had purposed, and made known to us the secret plan He had already decided to complete by means of Christ. This plan, which God will complete when the time is right, is to bring all creation together, everything in heaven and on earth, with Christ as head. All things are done according to God's plan and decision; and God chose us to be His own people in union with Christ because of His own purpose based on what He had decided from the very beginning. Let us, then who were the first to hope in Christ, praise God's glory" Ephesians 1:8 12

1. GOD PLANNED.

Things did not happen by accident. This world did not evolve by some mysterious force. Everything that is and has been and is to come is part of God's plan, including you, your life and the things that are happening to you right now. God has a plan for you. Nothing occurs by accident. God promised Jeremiah who told us it was a promise for all His people: "I know the plans I have for you, plans to bring your prosperity and not disaster, plans to bring about the future you hope for. Then you will call to me. You will come and pray to me, and I will answer you." Jeremiah 29:11-12.

The Gallop Poll revealed that 81% of people in Australia answering the poll said they believed in God and believed in prayer. Now if you believe in prayer that means you believe that God may bring about for you those things for which you pray. Nothing happens by chance, God is alive and at work in you and in everybody else. God can bring His will to bear in your life. Once you accept that God cares for you, that God loves you and that He has a plan for your life, everything else becomes different. Everything that happens, happens for His will.

God guides along the way. We read Psalm 32:4 "The Lord says, 'I will teach you the way you should go; I will instruct you and advise'." Psalm 119: "Your word is a lamp to guide me and a light for my path." People who take the Word of God and read it, discover that God shows a light upon their way, and through the light of God's Word discover His plan for their life. So we believe as Christians that with God beside us we are able to fulfil the wonderful plan He has for our lives.

2. GOD PLANNED TO CHOOSE YOU

God not only has a plan but God has planned to choose you. That is the heart of the Gospel. You are not just another piece of creation, God has chosen you to be adopted into His family, joint heirs with His Son. My heart was saddened to read of the little boy whose mother has sued the doctor who allowed him to be born because a sterilization procedure failed. The parents had neither wanted nor planned for him, so the doctor must pay child support for the next twelve years. How does Jordan feel when he discovers a stranger pays for his care and keep, his Christmas and birthday presents, his education and sport and not his parents? So many people feel unwanted but God has a plan for your life. God says in His Word that "He has chosen you to His people, to be in union with Christ." He has chosen you. Why?

So that you can be His. You can belong to Him, You can be part of the family of God. Ephesians 2:12 We read "At that time you were apart from Christ. You were foreigners and did not belong to God's chosen people. You had no part in the covenants, which were based on God's promises to his people, and you lived in this world without hope and without God." Some people are like that, living in this world without God and without hope. "But now, in union with Christ Jesus, you who used to be far away have been brought near by the death of Christ. For Christ Himself has brought us peace by making Jews and Gentiles one people. With His own body He broke down the wall that separated them and kept them enemies. He abolished the Jewish Law with its commandments and rules, in order to create out of the two races one new people in union with Himself..." Ephesians 2:13 15

God has chosen you to be in union with Christ. Many people who ask me what it means to be a Christian. A Christian is a person who lives in union with Christ Jesus, who opens his heart, who lives in fellowship with the Lord, who seeks to obey His teaching, and is conscious that Jesus, who cleansed him from sin, who died upon the cross for him, who rose again to rescue him, now lives in union with him. That is a Christian. That is why we cannot expect Christian behaviour in a society where people do not live in union with Jesus Christ. And that is why we can expect Christian behaviour from those who claim to be Christian. You cannot claim to believe but not behave. That is why a homosexual minister in a sexual relationship is a contradiction of terms. If you live in union with Him, you behave like Him. Until you have been regenerated or reborn you cannot live a life of righteousness. The heart of being a Christian is to be in union with Christ Jesus.

I have a remarkable African-American friend named John Perkins. He saw his brother brutally murdered in Mississippi. He rode the freedom buses in Alabama. He lived under the hatred and prejudice of the Deep South. He told me that when he was 27 he discovered for the first time what it means to be a Christian. John Perkins said 'I came to see that the Christian life was more than I was seeing in some churches. It was the out living of the in living Christ." The apostle Paul would agree with that completely. You must have the in living Jesus Christ and then out live that in your relationship with other people. God chose you that you might live in Him and His life and qualities lives out in you. You have been chosen to be the person in whom other people will see God.

3. GOD PLANNED TO CHOOSE YOU INTENTIONALLY.

God planned to choose you, to be His, and He did that intentionally. It does not depend upon what you have done or how much money you have, or what sort of a house you live in. God has chosen you to be His and to be with Him. "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." John 3:16 God has already chosen you to belong to Him. Why don't you respond and come and follow Him?

I spoke to Dr E Stanley Jones about his wonderful book called "The Way". Dr Stanley Jones told me about a man who had been given that book by a relative when he graduated from University, hoping it might help him in life and bring him to the Lord. He never read it and put it on the top shelf of his bookcase. Although he shifted house many times over the years, he always put it back on the top shelf and never opened or read it. Then there came a time when his life folded in upon him. Everything was bad. His marriage was broken; his business was ruined and he was in shame. He decided to commit suicide. He emptied out a whole bottle of tablets, but they were too dry to swallow. He needed water. He went to the bathroom and as he did he skidded on a mat, bumped the bookcase, and fell. A book was knocked down down, hit him and opened at his feet. He looked at it. It was "The Way" and had opened at the place which said 'You can get up from where you are now, for God has a future for you." The man said, "I sat on the mat and read the book through entirely and I threw away the tablets and started a brand new life." God has a way of showing you His way and is calling you because He has a plan for your life.

4. THEREFORE, PRAISE GOD!

What is the result of all this? Ephesians 1:12 "Let us, then who were the first to hope in Christ, praise God's glory." If God has called you, praise Him and praise His glory. There are three things you can do.

First, accept the salvation He offers you. Romans 3:23 "Everyone has sinned and fallen short of the glory of God." Because we have sinned we have fallen from His glory but if we accept the salvation He offers us, we bring praise to His glory.

Second, surrender to Him in belief in your heart. The Scriptures say "If you confess that Jesus is Lord and believe that God raised Him from death, you will be saved. For it is by our faith we are put right with God; it is by our confession that we are saved." Romans 10:9-10

Third, you not only accept the salvation and with belief surrender to Him, but you must then commit your life in His service. God calls you to save you and to help you in order to let you serve other people. That is His goal for your life. That is the purpose He has. Answer that call, accept that salvation, in belief, surrender your heart and then be a committed servant for Jesus Christ for the rest of your life. You will never again feel unwanted, lacking purpose and a plan for your life. "I know the plans I have for you, plans to bring your prosperity and not disaster, plans to bring about the future you hope for. Then you will call to me." This is the time for you to call on Him in faith and find the plans and purposes He has for you. God has a wonderful plan and purpose for you.

Wesley Mission, Sydney.