In the heat of emotion or personal turmoil it is easy to make foolish promises to God. What seems to us a very spiritual act of devotion turns out to be a faithless attempt to exploit God's favor and power. Instead, we should rest in the certainty that God loves his people (Zechariah 8:2). It's written all over Scripture, and especially in Jesus' life and death. We can depend on God's love alone. We do not need to manipulate him to show us love and kindness. Is there a desire in your heart that seems overwhelming? Do you want something so bad you'd give up almost anything for it? Are you trying to make a deal with God, "If you just give me this one thing, then I will . . ."? Let Jephthah's experience be a warning to you. Making a deal with God isn't what God wants for you. Ask God to give you open hands and a patient heart. Give to him the desires you have, and trust him to respond with what's best for you.
The Bible promises that God’s plan is the best plan; the one for which we were created. Psalm 32:8 “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life.” God agrees to not only show us the plan, but He also promises to provide all of the strength and resources needed to carry out that plan. His sufficient and constant power is unleashed by our choice to accept and follow Him.
We were created by the One who knows us best and loves us most. There are no accidents with God. He never has to say, “Oops!” Before we were ever conceived in the heart and mind of man we were conceived in the heart and mind of God. Wanted, loved and planned since before the world began. He had a plan in mind and lovingly, purposefully created us in response to that plan.
I know that there are days when the will of God seems completely wrong and we simply do not understand. Every moment is pregnant with darkness and our hearts are numb, paralyzed by fear and doubt. We are treading water in the storm tossed sea of life, desperately longing to see Him walking on the treacherous waves toward us, rescue in His hand.
It is in those shadowed moments that we must choose to trust the Plan Maker even though our faith is small, and we cannot understand the plan. His ways are higher than our ways. His thoughts are higher than our thoughts. And one day, every one of our question marks will be yanked into exclamation points as we see that high plan as He sees it – perfect.
How God Views the Self-Directed Man
Luke describes a wealthy person who makes a lot of plans based only on his own thoughts, desires, and experience. Take the time to look at the passage again, and notice how many times he used the words "I" and "my." What you'll see is that his focus was squarely on himself. This parable is a sad picture of the self-directed man trying to make his own way and secure his own future with no help from anyone--including God.
The Lord didn't mince words: He called the man "fool" (v. 20). Worldly wisdom amounts to nothing in the eyes of our omniscient, all-wise Father (1 Cor. 1:20), and He expects His children to request and follow His guidance.
The message for us today is clear: When we figure out our own plans and take action with no thought about what God would advise, we are behaving like fools. The Lord has a plan for your life. He knows where you'll succeed and where you'll fail. Be wise and ask Him for directions. Luke 12:16-21 (NIV)
Yet it was good of you to share in my troubles. 15 Moreover, as you Philippians know, in the early days of your acquaintance with the gospel, when I set out from Macedonia, not one church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving, except you only; 16 for even when I was in Thessalonica, you sent me aid more than once when I was in need. 17 Not that I desire your gifts; what I desire is that more be credited to your account. 18 I have received full payment and have more than enough. I am amply supplied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God. 19 And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:14-19)
In God’s eyes, the way you spend your money is a “little thing” that reveals very important things about your spiritual life!
Paul had a confidence that God would always provide what he needed. Sometimes it came from his business. Sometimes it came through others. He was not overly concerned with where his provision would come from. His confidence was in God, his provider. So, his attitude was in affirming the benefit that came to the giver from a Kingdom perspective.
Paul learned that it wasn't a church or a business that was his provider. It was God. These were merely tools God used to support him.
He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much. Therefore if you have not been faithful in the use of unrighteous wealth, who will entrust the true [spiritual] riches to you?
The reality is that everything we have is God’s, and that includes all of our money. God, living in us, wants to spend His money, which He has entrusted to us, in His way, for His purposes. When we move with Him, using His money for His purposes, then God knows that He can trust us with bigger things.
Have you been holding back from giving generously to the work of God in this world, waiting for your business to get bigger and more successful so that you can give more later? In truth, if you do not give generously when your business is small, neither will you when your business is bigger.
How you use the Lord’s money has a huge impact on your spiritual life. Jesus is inviting you to make Him the leader of your whole life, even your finances. If you do, you will find that God’s blessings in your life far outweigh your giving.
You’ll experience His “true riches.”
Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we're in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed--that exhilarating finish in and with God--he could put up with anything along the way: cross, shame, whatever. And now he's there, in the place of honor, right alongside God.
For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope (Jeremiah 29:11, NLT).