The Great Re-Arranger

I was thinking to myself this afternoon about the times I asked him, Who are you, God? and about how he had answered — Trail Guide. Teacher. Empowerer. Friend. Warrior.

I wasn’t really asking that today, but he interrupted my thoughts to say, “and Great Re-Arranger.”

Suddenly some events of Joseph’s life came to mind. Joseph, the dreamer, youngest son of Jacob, owner of the many-colored coat, had an agenda, an itinerary and plans for his day. But his jealous brothers changed all that. Some plotted to kill him, one plotted to save him, but he was sold into slavery and they all lied to their father about his fate.

Joseph’s agenda, itinerary and plans were all rearranged. And so were those of his brothers! (Genesis 37; 50:20)

Saul the law-enforcing Pharisee had a wonderful career, zealously defending the Law of Moses. On the road to Damascas, he had an agenda, an itinerary and plans for his day. But a jealous God changed all that! His agenda, itinerary and plans were all rearranged – and his name was changed too. (Acts 9; 26)

Have you made New Year’s Resolutions for 2019? Do you have an agenda, itinerary, plans for the year? You should probably hold them lightly.

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Give us our daily plans

Collage02Jeremiah 29:11 is a familiar verse to many of us: “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you,” saith the LORD, “thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” (KJV)

The NIV translation reads, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Reading those two versions, the words thoughts (KJV) and plans (NIV) stood out. I can certainly have thoughts that aren’t plans. Like, it’s chilly today but considering the time of year, that’s normal. Just a thought. Not a plan, unless it’s to wear a sweater.

However, in this verse the Hebrew word is “machashabah” (pronounced ma-hash’-a-va), translated thought, device, plan, purpose, or invention. That’s quite a variety of meanings.

This word is translated “cunning device” in many places, such as the evil thoughts of men before the flood, or the good inventions of anointed men in the building of Solomon’s temple. (See my earlier post on Plans, https://estherspetition.wordpress.com/2014/01/06/plans-as-in-jeremiah-2911-niv/)

Such plans may include directions, itinerary, agenda, goal, purpose, blueprints, schematics, activities … many things. Plus necessary supplies for each part of those plans. “What are your plans for Christmas?” we might ask a friend. That might include shopping, baking, traveling, mailing cards, attending parties, lots of things.

We’re not normally thinking inventions, unless it’s a new recipe. But that idea is included in this verse. God might just invent something new for us, something designed just for us, to get us to where he wants us to go. That would be fascinating.

One thing about that verse – plans is plural. Many plans, many activities go into any building program, whether we (God and us) are constructing a house or a character. Plans may include schooling and training. Exercise. Practice. Building a warrior, for instance.

There may be one plan for Monday, a different plan for Thursday. One plan for 9:00 AM, another plan for 4:30. God has plans for us, and I think he has daily plans. Which leads me to another verse:

Matthew 6:11, “Give us this day our daily bread.”

The phrase “daily bread” is found only in two places in the Bible, Matthew 6:11 and Luke 11:3, both quoting the Lord’s Prayer. It comes from two words that mean our next necessary bread.

Bread is from the Greek word artos, bread made from flour and water or food of any kind. Sometimes it is translated loaves. That word occurs many places in the Bible.

Daily comes from the Greek word epiousios, meaning necessity. That word is found only in the Lord’s Prayer. The verse could be translated “Give us this day the bread of our necessity.” Our next food.

The idea of necessity is a critical key here, I think. What does God think is our next necessary food? And, does it have to be physical food? In Hebrews 5:12-14, “meat” refers to spiritual food.

Perhaps what we need next is spiritual food. Mental food. Emotional food. Information. Direction. Instruction. Empowerment. Mentoring. Wisdom. Encouragement. Comfort. Peace of mind. Correction. Tools. Equipment. Weapons. Armor. Experience.

For God to fulfill the plans he has for us, we have to cooperate. We have to hear his ideas on the subject, get his thinking. After all, we have the mind of Christ. (I Cor. 2:16)

To cooperate with him fully, we need to ask him daily, follow through with what we learn, daily. Get and consume our next necessary food, daily.

The next step in our day is the next step in God’s plan for our future, our good. Because if you think about it, really think about it – the future isn’t way off in the distance, it’s as close as the next hour in our day, or the next day in our week.

Plans, as in Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV)

I came across this in a book the other day. The verse being quite familiar, my eyes were skipping down to the next paragraph when the Lord stopped me. “Plans,” he said. “What are plans?”

He often does this, asking me a question to get me to stop and think, to meditate about something. To not just read, but to communicate. To have a conversation with the Holy Spirit.

So, okay, plans. Automatically I began to define plans. Agendas. Itineraries. Events. Happenings. Occasions. Places to go, people to see, things to learn, things to do, those are plans.

blueprints2Blueprints, he said. Think blueprints. Oh, wow. My thoughts took off in a very different direction.

He began to unroll a set of blueprints in my mind’s eye, and then to show me the results of those blueprints. Mud huts and wood shacks. Three-bedroom brick houses. Manufacturing plants and office buildings.

Chapels, churches and cathedrals. Ornate palaces and castles. Fortresses.

Temples.

For many minutes we discussed this concept, as he began to describe the steps necessary to build a natural structure. Foundation. Electrical. Plumbing. Insulation. Walls. Roofing. Furnishing. End goal? Inhabit it.

There was so much more, many details. And then he began to describe what he is doing in the spiritual, building a supernatural structure for himself to inhabit.

Plans are good, he said, and he has plans for every one of his children. No two are alike, but all have one thing in common. He has building plans for each one, and he himself will inhabit them.

You know, it’s really fascinating to read God’s word with the author at your elbow.