God Knows the Plans
School Opening Service
God Knows the Plans
Text: Jeremiah 29:10-13
There are only a few left who would remember this. It was the Spring of 2008. Christ the King had been given a small grant to start up a preschool. The search was on to find a location. We had been renting out Wadsworth Elementary School for worship, but we had no place to start the preschool. At the time, there weren’t a lot of spaces available in Palm Coast.
One of the first sites we looked at was the empty space attached to the gas station way over I-95 on the corner of Palm Coast Parkway and Clubhouse Dr. A contract was being worked out, but the owners became afraid of insurance liability with a school and they backed out. We didn’t know it, but that was a very good thing. Then we looked at one of the retail spaces behind Goodwill. But that was way too small.
Then we looked at the strip mall on Palm Coast Parkway right next to Sears. Right now the spaces are occupied by Massey. They were two big open spaces—big enough to seat both our Sunday morning worship and to host our preschool. It was perfect! No more lugging things in and out of Wadsworth every Sunday, dripping sweat and wasting time. One ministry location for both the church and the school. And a decent price, too! It was perfect! Quickly we signed the contract.
I’ll never forget the excitement I had on that one Sunday as I pulled the keys out of my pocket and announced we soon would be moving to a new, permanent. Everyone (which was about 25 people back then) cheered. But that very next week the city of Palm Coast said they wouldn’t allow a playground area there and we had to cancel the contract.
Dejected, the search went on. The next location was the landscaping business in Bunnell next to the campground and the storage facilities, across from Church on the Rock. It was spacious and very affordable. A contractor made drawings for the renovations. A contract was drawn up. It looked promising—until the agent didn’t return my phone calls. Finally, two weeks later he got back to me to say that he sold it out from under us to someone else.
Time was running out. School was going to open in a matter of months and we didn’t even have a location. I had literally been on every single street of the city, driving up and down all day long, calling every single phone number trying to find a location. What was God doing?
That was about the time that Becky and I stopped by Stone Plus down the road for a landscaping project at our house. She saw the sign across the street and said, “That place is for rent. You should call.” It looked a little dumpy and I was a little tired of these phone calls, but we were a little desperate. But sure enough, within a week we had a contract. The location was approved, we did renovations, and we opened our first school year (just two weeks late) in the fall of 2008.
Who would have known, right? Who would have known that our school would finally open in the last and only place in this entire county that a preschool would be allowed? Who would have known that a school ministry that barely started and barely stayed afloat with 18 students would be full with 40 students the next year—and then be in this new building the following year? Would would have known that in six school years we would have some 240+ students from age 1 to the 8th grade? And who would have known that our church would be so blessed through this school it started? Who would have known?
Well that’s easy. God knew. God knows every moment of our entire lives in detail. He knows where we will be, when we will be there. He knows when we will fail. He knows when we will succeed. It is always true that God Knows the Plans.
That’s not a very easy pill for people to swallow though. I don’t like that so much because I have plans and I want my plans to go my way because those plans are my plans and I tend to think they’re good plans.
Think of the Israelites of old. I’m sure they had plenty of plans. They had plans for their kingdom to flourish and grow to what it once was. They had plenty of troubles over the years. The entire north had been wiped out by Assyria. Now it was time to turn things around. Now it was time to bring the milk and honey back to the Promised Land that once was flowing with it. Now it was time to build up the kingdom like the good old days of David and Solomon when every Israelite had an HD TV in their house, a gold bar in their wallet, and Cadillac chariot in the garage. Yes, those were the good old days, and they had plans to somehow bring Israel back to that.
But God had other plans. They were plans that involved patience and hardship and suffering and consequences for their many sins. These were plans that included the Israelites being conquered by Babylon and being carried off into exile. And where we pick up in Jeremiah 29 today they were plans that soon would include even Jerusalem and the temple being destroyed. How frustrating that their plans were falling to pieces right along with the walls of their cities!
There’s been a few plans floating around Christ the King these days. Truth be told, we’ve had lots of plans for lots of years. But lately the planning has ramped up for a new school building. Many of you know that we’ve taken the next steps in working with banks and architects. We’re getting closer.
But we’ve talked to close to 30 banks now. We’re closing in on a deal, but no one has committed to us yet. Our building designs? Those have changed at least five times so far. The clock is ticking on this project we need to complete soon before we are out of space. So here we are still planning, still praying, still waiting for something to happen.
Why won’t God bring out good plans to fruition? Why do we have to wait to do good work for God’s kingdom? How frustrating when our best plans seem to fall to pieces! Doesn’t God want us to succeed? Doesn’t God know how badly this county needs quality, Christian education? Doesn’t God see how many blessings our church receives through the school? Doesn’t God know how many people we are reaching? Doesn’t God care about our plans?How frustrating when our good plans for God’s kingdom fall apart! How frustrating when my ideas don’t go my way and my plans don’t go the way I want!
Such is the sinful heart. Ever since Adam and Eve thought eating fruit was a better plan than obeying God, humans have been unsuccessful with plans ever since. Sometimes our plans are just bad and sinful. Sometimes our plans are selfish. Sometimes our plans are good and God-pleasing, but we puny humans with our puny plans have no clue how much bigger God’s plans are.
So in all this we become frustrated. We become bitter and angry. We worry. We doubt. I’ll do just about anything I can think of to make my plans work because I know so much better than God. How foolish we sinners are!
And yet how gracious our God is! How gracious is our God to include sinners like us in his grand plans. Our God has been making splendidly spectacular plans since the beginning. Since Adam and Eve made their own plans, God stepped in with his plan of grace that was even bigger.
God’s people continued to devise their own devices. And despite wayward plans, God continued his grand plan. He brought them out of Egypt. He brought them to the Promised Land. All part of the plan.
Then we step into history in Jeremiah 29 and we see the Israelites with these little plans for worldly growth and blessings. We see them terrified and afraid as they suffered in exile. But God still continued his bigger plan. The first verse today: “This is what the Lord says: ‘When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my gracious promise to bring you back to this place.’” God had made a promise and God had made a plan. He was going to keep those and bring the Israelites back. And though God’s people would continue to make their own little human plans, God would continue his bigger plan until it finally was fulfilled.
Then finally that plan was revealed to us. A Son was born. His Son. His Son walked and talked among us. He healed. He performed wonders. And God’s people again had plans for establishing an earthly kingdom with this possible Bread King. But continued his plans.
His Son went to a cross and suffered, died, and was buried. Meanwhile humans cried, “No, God! Why, God? Why would he die?” How puny are our plans. God’s plan was bigger. His plan was for his Son to die so that we wouldn’t. His plan was for his Son to pay for all our wrongs and open wide the gates to heaven that we might one day walk through. Now 2,000 years later, we see clearly just how great, grand, and gracious that plan of our God was.
Back to ancient Israel. This is what God was trying to tell his people. His plans were bigger than their plans. Suffering wasn’t fun. Exile wasn’t exciting. But God’s bigger plan was better than their little plan. So again, God sent this message through Jeremiah: “This is what the Lord says: ‘When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my gracious promise to bring you back to this place. 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.’” God had bigger and better plans for the Israelites, and they needed to trust him.
What a beautiful message for Christ the King as we begin another school year and as we carry on our plans for the future. We have big plans for the school year. We have big plans for a big, new building. We have big plans for our church to continue to grow.
There might be some times of frustration along the way. There might be a snag or two. (From our past experience building in Palm Coast several times, I can almost promise you there will be more than a few snags.) Our plans might shift or change. We might have to wait longer. (Hopefully not 70 years like the Israelites with their captivity.) But these are not reasons for frustration or anger with each other or with God. These are reasons to trust.
“I know the plans I have for you.” Notice how God says, “You know your plans and you will do whatever you want.” God says, “These are my plans for you. I’m in charge here. And I know my plans I have for you.” Best of all, these are good and gracious plans. God isn’t going to leave us hanging. He isn’t going to let our church crash and burn. He isn’t going to let our school fall apart. He isn’t going to let your life fall apart. God’s plans are, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Dear Christ the King family: God Knows the Plans. So trust him.
Of course that doesn’t mean it’s time to sit back and relax. Just because God knows what his plans for us, that doesn’t mean we kick back on the Lay-Z-boy with a bag of Doritos watching Monday Night Football waiting for his plans to magically happen. “You’ve got this, God. Just let me know when you are done.” Oh no, not at all. God’s plans are always so gracious that God’s plans also include us. This is the message God shared through Jeremiah. The last two verses: “Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” As the people of Israel patiently waited for God’s plans and promises to be fulfilled, they weren’t to sit idly by. They were to call upon God and go to God and pray to God and seek God. And God is so gracious that he promised that he would listen to them and be found by them.
What a beautiful message for Christ the King as we begin another school year and as we carry on our plans for the future. God is not telling us today to trust him and his plans and then go hang out at the beach and see what happens. God still wants us to make plans. God wants us to support those plans with our time and talents and treasures. But as we trust that God will guide those plans, we also need to go to God.
What do we do when we have a few problems in this new school year? Go to God. What do we do if our budget looks a little ugly this year? Go to God. What do we do when our building plans hit a few snags? Go to God. What do we do if our flourishing church plateaus for a while? Go to God.
This is how good and gracious our God is: Not only does he have bigger and better plans for us that we can trust, but as we make our plans along the way he promises to listen to us.
So we cannot and will not stop at Christ the King, nor will we in our daily lives as Christians. Keep pushing ahead. Keep making plans And as you do, keep reading and studying the Word of God. Keep meditating. Keep praying. Keeping joining with your brothers and sisters here in worship of our God joyfully each week. The amazing thing about our good and gracious God is that you will find him. He will listen and he will answer. Dear Christ the King family: God Knows the Plans. So go to him. He will be found and will answer.
Who would have known? Who would have known that when we started a tiny new mission church here that we would also start a school here? Who would have known that our church and our school would be this blessed in only seven years? Who would have known that we would be tackling another building project (and a big one at that) this quickly? Who would have known that you would be here in this place on this day? Who would have known that all the things prior in your life would have happened to lead you to where you are at in your life today?
There’s no way that any human would have known any of these things would happen. But God did. Our good and gracious God always has good and gracious plans for his people that are bigger and better than we would ever expect. That was true with his plans for salvation through his Son. That was true with his plans for the Israelites. And dear Christ the King family, that’s true for us as well. As you move forward in your life, as we move forward into a new school year, as we move forward in our building project, and as we move forward in all our ministry as a church and school, trust God’s promise in our school verse for this year in Jeremiah 29:11. God Knows the Plans.
Posted on August 29, 2014, in Church, School, Sermons and tagged Babylon, Back to School, Christ the King, Church, CTK, Exile, Future, Hope, Jeremiah, Jeremiah 29, Opening Service, Palm Coast, Plans, School, School Year, Sermons. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.