Key Scriptures: James 4:13-14, Judges 11:30-36, James 4:15-17, Matthew 5:37, Jeremiah 29:11
Guiding Question: How do we make plans for our future while still making room for God’s plans for our life and His timing?
Optional Introductory Activity: Give each student a small piece of origami or other brightly colored paper. Tell them you have a plan for an origami figure for them to make with that piece of paper. (Find an online pattern you can execute well. Warning: If you have not tried origami before, it can be harder than it looks! Make sure you practice before class.) Tell them without consulting anyone or anything else you want them to take that piece of paper and make a __________(whatever object or animal you chose). Give them some basic instructions like, “Make sure your folds are crisp.” “No cutting of paper allowed.”, etc. Do not give them the specific instructions you have found. Give students two minutes to make the origami figure and show their results. Show students the one you made before class. Ask them why their origami figures look so different from yours. (On the off chance someone knows origami and makes it perfectly, ask them how they were able to match your design so well.)
Lesson: (Questions to students are in bold italics.) What plans do you have for this week? Do you have anything planned for later this year? Do you have any plans to go to college or get a job? How did you go about making those plans? Read James 4:13-14. What does this passage tell us about making plans? Even the most careful planners realize things don’t always go like we plan. If we plan to go to the beach and get some sun, a hurricane or storm front could keep the beach covered in clouds and rain for several days. Read Jeremiah 29:11. What does it mean that God has plans for us? Does that mean we have no voice in the matter? Does God want to take away our choices and our freedom to do what we want? The awesome thing about God is that not only did He create us, but He knows us better than anyone on earth ever will. He knows what gifts and talents He gave us, He knows what we love to do and most importantly, He knows what is best for us. The Bible tells us over and over again whether or not we choose to follow God and His plans for our lives is always our choice. The Bible also tells us over and over again, the wise person will choose to follow God and follow His plans – as that will lead to the best possible life on this fallen earth and allow us to spend eternity in Heaven. Probably the most important plan God has for us and hopefully we will follow is for us to become Christians by being baptized and receiving the remission of our sins and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. When you become a Christian what do you say? What implied promise are you making to God with your baptism? When we are baptized, we say something about confessing that we believe Jesus is the Lord of our life. We are implying we are giving up total control of our lives and are promising God we will choose to follow His plans for our life for the rest of our life. The problem is we begin to forget about our promise and start making our plans for our lives without checking to see if they are the same plans God wants for our lives. Read Judges 11:30-36. What did Jepthah forget to do before making his vow or promise? He forgot to see if his plan for his promise was in God’s Plans for his life. He probably assumed the first thing he would see was an animal. He certainly didn’t plan he would have to sacrifice his daughter. He had great intentions to glorify God, but the way he planned to do it was not a part of God’s Plans. How can we get stuck in the same trap as Jepthah? Suppose we decide we are going into the mission field to teach others about God. Good plan, right? We aren’t trying to do anything wrong. We want to glorify God, serve others and share our faith. Yet sometimes wonderful, godly plans aren’t necessarily what God wants us (personally) to do. He may want us to change our timing, our focus or how we accomplish those godly things. What are some ways to know our plans are not in God’s Plans for us right now, or ever? Obviously, before doing anything we need to pray for God to show us His will. It is great to tell God what you would like to do, but give Him the room to change your plans slightly or drastically along the way. If you start to see roadblocks or stop signs in what you are doing, take a step back for a minute. Pray God will give you a clear understanding of whether or not He wants you to continue. Try again and see if you get similar results. Consult other godly people to make sure you aren’t missing something (be careful though as some people will tell you what they want you to do or what they think you want to hear, not what they actually see God doing in your plan.). If you get additional roadblocks, chances are great God wants you to wait or change directions entirely. Take small steps in a different direction may show you where He wants you to be. (Share any personal examples you have seen or experienced.) Read James 4:15-17. What does James suggest we say and think as we make plans for our future? Why do you think he suggests this? What does saying this imply you are doing?
Application Challenge: Take time this week to pray to God about your plans for the future. Ask Him to show you whether or not your plans are also His Plans for your life. Pay attention to anything that happens after you pray. Be prepared to share anything you notice with the class next week. (Note: God’s timing may mean you have to wait for a period of time before seeing God’s next steps for you.)
Authors: Bobby McVey and Scott Gage