God's Plan for You
By Charles F. Stanley
Are you living according to God’s plan? Or does it sometimes feel as if you‘re working against Him and yourself? Oftentimes, we desire to follow the Lord’s ways, but we insist on doing so by our own means. Experience, talent, motivation, willingness, training, clear directives–we might have it all. But even if we do, those things aren’t enough. We need the Holy Spirit. Why? Because God desires us to do His work, His way: “Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit” (Zech. 4:6).
God wants to alter the heart of man—to bring renewal from the inside out. And that cannot be done apart from the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
The Wrong Way
Sadly, there are many wrong approaches to the Christian life—approaches that neglect the Spirit and yet often pass for the right way:
- The Flesh Approach
“But wait,” you may say, “I know some folks who operate in the flesh but are very successful.” By whose standards? I have been around long enough to see dozens of accomplished men and women rise and fall. Their success is a “flash in the pan.” Or as the psalmist says, “They are like chaff which the wind drives away” (Ps. 1:4).
From singers to businessmen to pastors–those who walk or labor in the flesh will have lives characterized by their deeds. No one violates the principles of God and lives to rejoice about it. Work done in the flesh goes no deeper than emotions. It may look impressive on the surface but lacks the power to produce lasting change in the world—or in the heart of the person laboring. Only the Spirit-filled life has the balance necessary to be successful on all fronts.
- The “Praying about It” Approach
Doing life God’s way does not mean simply praying about it. I’ve heard a lot of prayers that were nothing more than an attempt to secure to the Lord’s help in accomplishing an endeavor of the flesh. That is one reason He gets so much attention at the beginning of a project and so little credit at the end. When we work in the flesh, we forget to express our appreciation; prayer becomes a formality, or worse—a tool for getting what we desire.
- The Desperation Approach
Following God also means not working ourselves to death and then throwing our hands up in defeat. Saying, “I give up! Please take over, because I can’t do it anymore” is a sign of desperation. And usually it’s a frantic cry to be saved from a mess we have created (or complicated) by attempting His work our way.
- The “Let Go and Let God” Approach
I’m not really sure what people mean when they say this, but it makes me uncomfortable. God chooses to do His work through men and women, and He has gifted each of us for specific tasks. To “let go and let God” implies that we have no part in the matter. However, the Scriptures clearly illustrate that man has a very important role in fulfilling the Lord’s will on earth.
To approach life God’s way is to follow the path of sacrifice and surrender. The only way to ensure that you fulfill the responsibilities He has given you is to approach them from the standpoint of complete dependency. God alone is capable of meeting all your needs.
When you do God’s work God’s way, you will:
- Be convinced that if He doesn’t come through, your project is bound to fail.
- View the Lord as your only source for everything you need.
- Look for evidence of His supernatural intervention.
- Not be stressed out.
- Spend more time thanking and praising God than requesting things from Him.
It’s time to examine your life. Are you doing God’s work His way or your way? Are you operating in His strength or your own? Remember that nothing lasting can be accomplished in your own strength. Instead, trust in God’s provision of the Holy Spirit—the Helper living within you (John 14:16-17).
Adapted from “The Wonderful Spirit-Filled Life” (1992).