Jennifer and I have now been here in Albertville, Alabama for over a month and we are starting to get into the swing of things. We have moved into our house, bought appliances, painted six rooms, arranged all my books in my home office, and set up our internet and phone service. We have attended two Aggies (Albertville High School) football games and we cheered hard (especially Jennifer, you should have heard her at the Boaz game!), though to no avail. I even had the privilege of going to an Auburn football game (sorry Bama fans)! Jennifer and I are already regulars at Guntersville Walmart and I think Jennifer is probably considered a regular at JaMoka’s in Boaz! Though we have only been here about a month, you could say that Jennifer and I already feel like regular Albertvillians!
Things have settled down quite nicely for us. I have begun to get into a regular routine of preparing to teach Wednesday nights, planning the Sunday morning services, writing curriculum for community groups, and meeting with Students and Adults throughout the week. Things at our church are starting to flow nicely for me and I am glad. I like when things flow, when I have a schedule, a routine, a plan. Plan’s are useful. God is the master planner. He planned from all eternity to send His only son to the earth to die on the cross paying our penalty for sin (Acts 2:23). Ephesians 1:13 tells us that God “works all things according to the counsel of His will.” There is nothing that God doesn’t perfectly plan out—He is king of planning, His is the perfect routine (if you can call it that).
However, I think my plans fall short of God’s glory. While there are many good things about my plans—there are all also many aspects of my plans that fall short of God’s glory. The second line of the Lord’s prayer reads, “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” You see, the goal of my planning ought to be to see God’s plans and purposes come to fruition in my life and to see Christ’s kingdom manifested more clearly. The problem with my plans is that many of them are aimed at making my life more comfortable and more at ease. While that is not necessarily a bad thing, it certainly could be. Jesus once said, “no one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62). I don’t really know what to do with that—there are many things that Jesus said that make me feel pathetic as a follower of Christ! I think the point, though, is don’t get so comfortable in this life that you aren’t ready for the next.
The things we do day-in and day-out are important. I don’t want to give you the idea that you should abandon your family and go to North Korea and have your head chopped off for preaching the gospel (that is probably what would happen if you took the gospel to North Korea). But I do want to say that all my plans and strivings are loss if they are not directed toward building the kingdom of God!
We have been studying the book of Philippians at Student night on Wednesdays and there Paul, writing from prison in Rome, says, “it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death. For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Phil. 1:20-21). To be quite honest with you, in my walk with Christ right now, I am not where Paul is. I want to be, I desperately want the burning passion of my life to be that Christ would be magnified in my body!
So what do we do? How do we begin to make sure our daily plans are pointing us more toward Christ? How do we ensure that what we are doing day by day is building up the kingdom of God? I can’t spell that out for you. I could make some suggestions, but I don’t know where you are in your walk with Christ and I can’t lay out the perfect plan of how to live a Christ-glorifying life.
I will just suggest what I suggested to the youth last Wednesday night. If you really believe that Jesus is Lord and that there is no one like Him, then take a step of faith today toward setting your affections more firmly on Him. Just take a step toward setting your focus more firmly on Christ. Maybe you need to spend 5-10 minutes each night praying with your wife before you go to bed. Maybe you need to set your alarm 10-15 minutes earlier so you can read a chapter of the Bible and pray in the morning. Maybe you need to have your neighbors over for dinner so that you can build a relationship with them in hopes of sharing Christ with them. I don’t know what steps you need to take, but I know that Christ is the greatest treasure in the universe and that there is nothing greater than Him. So my goal this week is to spend a little more time with Him in His Word and to talk to my wife about what I am learning so that I might point her more towards Christ.
Don’t think that you need to do more to gain Christ’s favor. If you think by doing more you can somehow earn good standing with Christ, then maybe you need to take a step back and examine your life before Christ because we are not saved by works but by grace through faith. Our favor with God is His free gift to us through Christ. Paul describes Christians in Phil. 3:3 as those “who glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh.” In other words, Christians are those who give up on trying to win God over with their good works and instead glory, boast, and delight in Christ Jesus. There is no one like Christ, you can delight in nothing greater than Jesus—you don’t have to try and win His favor, but by faith, you can rest in knowing that you have it! You can draw nearer to Him this week by simply taking a step toward knowing him more intimately. Take a step this week and trust the Lord. Trust the Lord, you won’t regret it.