Good ideas are second to God’s great plan

After David was settled in his palace, he said to Nathan the prophet, “Here I am, living in a house of cedar, while the ark of the covenant of the Lord is under a tent.”

Nathan replied to David, “Whatever you have in mind, do it, for God is with you.” (1 Chronicles 17:1-2)

King David of Israel is getting settled in his grand, new palace. He looks up and realizes that the God of the universe is in a tent. 

Important Background: At this time, the Lord’s presence was in the Ark of the Covenant, a wooden chest that the Israelites carried as they moved throughout the Middle East. That chest was kept in the temple, which was a tent because the Israelites had been very mobile over the years. God chose the specifications for the chest and gave very explicit details on how He wanted it to be made and carried.

While the chest is made out of sturdy wood, David is convicted that his palace is grander than His God’s dwelling place. He understands the majesty of God, and he wants God to have the best. David shares his idea with Nathan, a godly advisor, and he encourages David to do what he has in mind.  

While these two verses are short, I think we can learn a valuable lesson. David notices his circumstances, makes an observation, and voices it to a trusted advisor and God. The advisor affirms David and tells him to do it. How simple. 

Don’t overcomplicate things.I think I overcomplicate things sometimes. Okay, I KNOW I overcomplicate things, a lot of the time. Thoughts and ideas pop into my head, but I wonder if it’s the right move. I’ll talk to seven different people about it, pray really hard, dwell on it, second guess myself, and almost run myself ragged until I finally make a decision. It’s a tiring process.

There are moments when God gives us freedom to make a choice. Don’t overthink it! Wait on God, but if He gives the go-aheadthen go ahead if it’s what He has put in your heart and mind to do. But remember, God doesn’t lie or contradict Himself or His word, the Bible. My pastor always says, “God affirms us through scripture and Spirit (the Holy Spirit).” Perhaps God reveals something to you through prayer, your daily quiet time reading, or counsel from another believer.  He could also give you awareness of your surroundings through the Holy Spirit and you know in that moment what you’re supposed to do. It’s not necessarily going to be the same kind of revelation every time, so don’t expect that. 

If you’re just waiting on a flashing neon sign from the Lord and “praying really hard about something,” be ready to keep waiting. He doesn’t reveal Himself in crazy, Old Testament ways often such as speaking audibly or writing it in the sky, although that would be super cool. 

Sometimes when I’m waiting to make a big decision and overthinking it, I’ll take everything as a “sign” to prove my point. For example, when I was making the big college decision, I asked the question,which university should I go to? I wanted to open the brochure from a college that I (and 700 other people) received that day and feel a certain way. That’s ridiculous! What if I ate something bad that day and feltsomething in my stomach and let that determine where I went to college?! 

Thankfully, when I was making that decision, I had many trusted advisors, one of which pointed me to Acts 1. Jesus has recently ascended into heaven and the 11 disciples are deciding who to replace Judas with by “casting lots,” which literally means “deciding randomly” or “drawing straws.” Yes, they prayed prior to this decision, but they didn’t hesitate, worry, discuss, or fight. They trusted God’s sovereignty and determined the next disciple by letting the chips fall (pun intended) (Acts 1:12-23, Hannah’s paraphrase).

Sometimes He’s given you a passion or a idea and He’s giving you the green light but you’re still sitting at the stop holding up the flow of traffic. If it aligns with the truth of scripture, and a godly person who knows your situation encourages you to do it, you’d better do it or you’ll miss that chance.

A couple of thoughts before we pack up this point. 

  1. Sometimes, you’re not going to have time to go into your prayer closet and ask God if it’s what you need to do. For example, if you see someone and you know that you need to share the Gospel with them, you need to do that. Right then. Not if, ands, or buts. That perfectly aligns with scripture. It’s literally what we’re made for. So, don’t overthink that. 
  2. There is always the flipside. Don’t be so quick to jump on every opportunity that you trample on other people or say yes to something just because your heart is beating really fast. Emotion and passion are good, but you also have to have the knowledge of scripture to keep that emotion in check. 
  3. REMEMBER, everything is contingent upon the phrase: “for God is with you” (v.2b) We can’t do anything of significance for the Kingdom of God if God’s power isn’t with us though our faith in Jesus. So, if you don’t have a relationship with Jesus, you need to talk to someone who does and get that ironed out. 

But that night the word of God came to Nathan, saying: “Go and tell my servant David, ‘This is what the Lord says: You are not the one to build me a house to dwell in…Wherever I have moved with all the Israelites, did I ever say to any of their leaders whom I commanded to shepherd my people, “Why have you not built me a house of cedar?'”

“Now then, tell my servant David, ‘this is what the Lord Almighty says: I took you from the pasture, from tending the flock, and appointed you ruler over my people Israel. I have been with you wherever you have gone, and I have cut off all your enemies from before you. Now I will make your name like the names of the greatest men on earth…I declare to you that the Lord will build a house for you: When your days are over and you go to be with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, one of your own sons, and I will establish his kingdom. He is the one who will build a house for me, and I will establish his throne forever. I will be his father, and he will be my son. I will never take my love away from him, as I took it away from your predecessor. I will set him over my house and my kingdom forever; his throne will be established forever.’” (1 Chronicles 17:3-14)

Nathan reported to David all the words of this entire revelation. Then King David went in and sat before the Lord, and he said: “Who am I, Lord God, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far? And as if this were not enough in your sight, my God, you have spoken about the future of the house of your servant. You, Lord God, have looked on me as though I were the most exalted of men. What more can David say to you for honoring your servant? For you know your servant, Lord. For the sake of your servant and according to your will, you have done this great thing and made known all these great promises.” (1 Chronicles 17:3-19)

Uh oh. David had an idea, but God had a different one. God told Nathan to tell David that number one, He doesn’t need a palace, although David’s intentions might have been noble. And number two, God has a better plan for His dwelling place. Instead of David building a house for the Lord, his son, who we later find out is Solomon, will. One of the biggest lessons we can learn from this is:

Be flexible.Plans change. God is sovereign and knows all plans before we make them, but sometimes we think of a grand idea and God does the opposite. 

If we claim to be God’s child and servant, we should be willing to bend to the will of our Father and Master’s plans. In order to develop David’s go-with-the-flow attitude when our plans change, we have to know about God’s character. The more that we read God’s Word, fellowship with other believers, and pray, the more we become acquainted with His character. This helps our respect, awe, and fear of Him grow so that when our plans change, we trust Him because we know Him. We know He loves us and knows what’s best for us, and we trust Him to guide us because He’s the ultimate Shepherd. 

I think this will always be something that our flesh struggles with. However, God is a God of grace and He wants us to live this life trusting in Him. We have to ask ourselves: How much do I complain when plans (big or small) change? Do I truly believe that God’s plans are better than mine? 

Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain. (Philippians 2:14-16)

Paul challenged us not to complain about anything. Do we have so many bad things going on in our lives, or do we feel that our complaints need to be heard so badly, that we’re choosing to go against a direct command from the Word of God? 

As far as we know, David, who was absolutely human, didn’t complain or argue with God. After Nathan told him that he wasn’t going to be the one building the house of God, scripture tells us, “then King David went in and sat before the Lord” and in awe of who God was, he thanked Him for allowing Him to be a part of God’s will and purpose (1 Chronicles 17:4, 16-19). Isn’t that what we’re supposed to be about? Selflessness, thankfulness, and just genuine gratitude that God chooses us to serve Him?

We have to come to the realization that God, the CREATOR of the entire world, does not need us.He loves us so deeply and He chooses to use us to accomplish His will. 

How do we practically acknowledge this daily? It’s saying to yourself, “I have a plan because God’s allowed me to make choices to get here, but if that plan changes in a big way or a small way I will be content and not complain because God’s changes are better than my original plan.”

Finally, remember that we are overwhelmingly blessed because we get to be used and stay on this earth to serve God at all. Once a person makes Jesus their savior, they GET to be a disciple who make disciples. 

It’s hard, but is it worth it? 

I think so, and I hope you do too. We can continue going through this life missing opportunities and getting distracted by the plans that don’t go our way and complain about it. Or, we can be obedient. God wants to use his creation to make His name famous. Get ready to be used by God. 

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