Plans, Purposes and Priorities

“I didn’t accomplish a single thing I set out to do today!” How many times have we stewed in the frustration of such seeming futility? Whether self-discipline came up short or interruptions stretched out long, events turned out to be nothing like we’d expected and we fret the failure of our plan. But what if execution were actually the least of our problems, that a glaring omission in our plan rendered today’s to-do list a frustration from its conception?

Plans follow purpose. This is why organizations articulate mission statements—to establish one shared sense of purpose for its people and a focal point for the supporting strategies by which they accomplish it. Yet while any number of leadership books extol the value of alignment, virtually all of them overlook this indispensable Biblical truth: “Many are the purposes in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.”1 We may have dutifully conceived plans that follow our pursuits, but if ours do not sync with God’s, and if our daily demands override His clarion call, we will never be completely satisfied, nor our purpose fully realized. For at the other end of what we might regard as an interruption is often a person struggling with a need—be it physical, emotional or spiritual in nature. We’ve been in their place before, and how grateful we were when someone sacrificed their comfort and convenience to share our burden and lighten our load. Perhaps they, like we, felt the frustration of a less productive day, but we thanked God for His love poured out through these, His obedient ones, as they helped to overcome our troubles.

For those of us who like structure and order to our day, ceding our agendas over to the higher and broader purposes of God can feel messy and at times downright burdensome. As Solomon wrote, “A man’s steps are directed by the Lord. How then can anyone understand his own way?”2 But on the other side of obedience is blessing, not only for those who cut in on our calendars, but ultimately for us, too. So we watch for God’s daily directions—His divine appointments—and prioritize His purposes over our plans. Life is more fruitful this way.

Father, we confess our plans cater to ourselves and overlook Your higher purposes. Fill us with Your Spirit, that we would hear your call today and give ourselves over to your plans and purposes, that others would be blessed and You would be glorified. In Christ we pray. Amen.

1 Proverbs 19:21
2 Proverbs 20:24


Starting Where We Stand

We had never had hurricane damage like this before; we live in Ohio, after all. But Ike was different: making landfall in Galveston, Texas, it held a disproportionate share of its damage in reserve for the upper Midwest part of the country, including our backyard, which was entirely mid-calf or deeper in branches, limbs and twigs. It was September 2008, I was away for the week on business, and there stood Peggy, facing the enormous clean-up job alone and wondering, “Where do I start?” Then starting where she stood, it took this hard-working woman three whole days to bag, bundle and/or burn the debris.

Sometimes on our life-journey, the Kingdom work before us seems overwhelming—paralyzing, even. All around, there is brokenness in need of care, so where do we start? Every day, there is Spiritual birth in need of nurturing; of whom shall we come alongside? No matter where we are, someone is searching for truth, then when must we speak, and what should we say? Far too long, I was so paralyzed by the smallness of my imprint against the vastness of need, that I did very little to start at all. But somewhere along the way I began to see and understand God works chiefly through His people, and His people are everywhere. In my mind, I had limited God to the confines of my own span and abilities, yet every day the body of Christ rises around the globe, each member starting where they stand. This is the beauty of the body.

We must not be overwhelmed by the enormity of need in the world, for God’s people are all around it. We ought not be paralyzed by our limitations, for it is God who works in and through us. We need only to be diligent in seeking His guidance for direction, trusting in His faithfulness to act, and submissive to start where we stand and go from there—ready and eager for whatever awaits us today.

God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them. We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, so that what you hope for may be fully realized. (Hebrews 6:10, 11).

Father, you are good, and we trust you. Lead us today to where we should go and in what we must say and do. You will do great things through your people today; you always do. We love you, God. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.


A Daily Dose of Eternal Truth

“Forever, O Lord, Your word is settled in heaven.” (Psalm 119:89 NSAB)

Bad news, delivered badly. Can we agree on this assessment of our daily newsfeed? A global pandemic, unchecked lawlessness, and ineffective leadership—taken together, they consume us with concern. Compounding the problem is the constant barrage of information—all of it slanted, much of it untrue, and now some of it censored. This is not healthy; this is not good. People need truth; what we do with it is up to us in our freedoms, but we need the firm foundation of truth. Is there a place where we can find our footing again?

Fortunately, there is; it is the immoveable bedrock that has always been there: God’s Word. The psalmist proclaims it to be “Forever, O Lord.” It is “settled in heaven,” and it always will be. It’s not going anywhere; it cannot be moved. The Bible will not keep us current on world events of the day, of course, but it strengthens us in God’s power to face them, it inspires us in His love to serve amid them, and it rests us in the sovereignty of Him who has authority over all things. His Word “sustains the weary,” said Isaiah, for “the Sovereign Lord … wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being instructed.”

Might today be different if we prioritized and protected a few minutes to pray, to absorb a Bible passage, and to incline our ear “to listen like one being instructed”? Might God’s Spirit shine through us as hope to someone who has lost hope? Couldn’t we all use a little good-newsfeed these days?

“The Sovereign Lord has given me a well-instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary. He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being instructed.” (Isaiah 50:4)

Father, your Word is truth, and your truth never changes. How refreshing the thought! Send your Spirit to breathe life through your Word, that we would draw near to you in confidence, resting in your sovereignty, shining in your joy, and serving with compassion. In Christ we pray. Amen.