By: Shellie R. Warren
“There are many plans in a woman’s heart; nevertheless it is the Lord’s counsel that will stand.” Proverbs 19:21
“Advise and counsel him; if he does not listen, let adversity teach him.” A Proverb
In a bit, we’ll get into how we tend to plan; but let’s first look at how God plans for us. Indeed, He did say to Jeremiah, “‘I say this because I know what I am planning for you,’ says the Lord. ‘I have good plans for you, not plans to hurt you. I will give you hope and a good future'” (Jeremiah 29:11). Now, it is important to note that the New King James Version translates the verse this way: “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” That said, most of us are aware that the Most High (Genesis 14:19) makes it abundantly clear that “‘My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,’ says the Lord. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts’” (Isaiah 55:8-9). And do you know how I discern that to translate?
Don’t assume that just because you have a plan in mind for your life that God has that same plan on His agenda. He doesn’t think or operate in the way that we oftentimes do. We tend to make plans based on what we see. He tends to make plans based on what our spirit needs.
We are both flesh and spirit (Matthew 26:41), and so our plans are usually made with both in mind. God is all spirit. Therefore, His plans never make the flesh a top priority.
As I was doing a bit of research (2 Timothy 2:15) on plans as it relates to Jeremiah 29:11, I really liked what this particular author said:
“Hebrew word for plans in the above verse is ‘machshavah’ and is defined as ‘a thought, plan, purpose, or intention’ according to Gesenius’ Hebrew Lexicon. The root of this word is ‘chashav’ meaning ‘to compute, to compose, to meditate and reason’. If we read again in light of these definitions, Jeremiah 29:11 reads like this:
‘For I know the purposes and intentions (machshavah) I have composed and reasoned (choshev – root) for you. Intentions and purposes (machshavah) of (shalom – bonus word) satisfaction and fulfillment, wholeness and well-being, to give you a future and a hope.’”
Can we see in this definition that God isn’t glibly just trying to find something for you to do, surprised that you are here, wondering to Himself, “What shall I do with this one?” Nor was He thoughtless in what He planned. The definitions above indicate that He meditated thoughtfully and reasoned this out. He composed your purpose in the grand scheme of things more eloquently than a musician creating masterpiece compositions. Your life and purpose are highly intentional from His perspective and most highly unique.
What is even more stunning to me is that He planned this in Christ before time began. You were not an afterthought. He knew you would be here, and He planned on it. You are here for a purpose!
2 Timothy 1:9: “…who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began.”
God’s plans for you will always be connected to your purpose. To get back to our original purpose on this earth, we must first go back to the Garden of Eden:
“Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, according to our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’ So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.’”
If your plans are keeping you from reflecting the image of Elohim, from having dominion over the earth, from honoring the covenant (Malachi 2:14) of male and female unions in order to create more people in the image of Elohim, based on the formula that He put into place (which was to create even more godly offspring (Malachi 2:15), then you are not “planning,” you are scheming.
And yes, it can be really challenging, at times, to understand the difference between the two (hence, another need for wise counsel). I mean, just look at the definitions of “plan”: a scheme or method of acting, doing, proceeding, making, etc., developed in advance; a design or scheme of arrangement; a specific project or definite purpose.
Psalm 33:11 reads, “The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the plans of His heart to all generations.” God always planned for us to reflect the likeness of the Godhead. God always planned for us to have dominion over the earth. God always planned for there to be male and female covenant in place, partially to reflect the power of the Godhead on the earth in human form and also to produce godly offspring (not just children, but godly offspring; Psalm 58:3). This was a plan that is to be passed down throughout generations. That plan has not changed.
And then, because He fashions our hearts individually (Psalm 33:15), there are other specific projects that He has in mind for all of His children as well. However, one thing that you can be sure of is that our “specific projects” will never come at the expense or contradiction of God’s definite purpose for mankind.
Now, the definition of plan included the concept of a “scheme,” so let’s look at that definition as well: (n) a plan, design, or program of action to be followed; project; an underhanded plot; intrigue; a visionary or impractical project; (v) to devise as a scheme; plan; plot; contrive.
Synonyms: arrangement, blueprint, contrivance, device, game plan, layout, outline, pattern, presentation, project, proposal, purpose, schedule, strategy, suggestion, system, tactics, theory
If, in your planning, you have to devise, plot and contrive, then you are in a pattern of trying to make things happen based on your own schedule by conjuring up all kinds of tactics to prove the theory that your plan is a good one… again, it’s nothing more than a scheme—an impractical project. A “course of action” that isn’t going to lead you to God’s best (James 1:17), no matter how good you might consider it to be, is not a godly one.
In the midst of all of the things that God is, we cannot afford to lose sight of the fact that He is also practical (Ecclesiastes 7:18). He is not going to plan something for us that will prevent us from being, first and foremost, spiritually useful, especially when it comes to our ordinary affairs. This is one of the reasons why we’re given an entire biblical chapter entitled “The Value of Practical Wisdom” in Ecclesiastes 7. This is also one of the reasons why we are told the following in 2 Timothy 2:19-22:
“Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: ‘The Lord knows those who are His,’ and, ‘Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity.’ But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay, some for honor and some for dishonor. Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work. Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.”
If your plans are not rooted in the pursuit of righteousness, if they do not require faith in God (Mark 11:22, Hebrews 11:1, 6), if they do not grow you up into more godly love (I Corinthians 13:4-8), if they will not result in there being peacefulness (Isaiah 32:17-19), if your plans will take you deeper into a state of iniquity (sin, which is separation from progress in god), if they are going to hinder you from being useful for the master, then they are not the best plans for you. They are a form of scheming that needs more “fine tuning” (and quite possibly redirecting) with the help of godly counsel (Proverbs 3:5-8; 20:18).
Why (and How) GOD’S COUNSEL Stands
In research for this message, I “happened upon” (Proverbs 16:33, Luke 12:12) a story entitled, “Jonathan Defeats the Philistines,” in which these verses subtitled “Saul’s Rash Oath” stood out to me.
“Now Saul said, ‘Let us go down after the Philistines by night, and plunder them until the morning light; and let us not leave a man of them.’
And they said, ‘Do whatever seems good to you.’
Then the priest said, ‘Let us draw near to God here.’
So Saul asked counsel of God, ‘Shall I go down after the Philistines? Will You deliver them into the hand of Israel?’ But He did not answer him that day. And Saul said, ‘Come over here, all you chiefs of the people, and know and see what this sin was today. For as the Lord lives, who saves Israel, though it be in Jonathan my son, he shall surely die.’ But not a man among all the people answered him.
Then he said to all Israel, ‘You shall be on one side, and my son Jonathan and I will be on the other side.’
And the people said to Saul, ‘Do what seems good to you’” (I Samuel 14:36-40).
Saul asked for counsel. God did not immediately answer him, and so he went with “the counsel” of man. People are still just like that. They don’t get the immediate answer that they want, so they “do what seems good to them” (Acts 1:7). That’s a very dangerous, arrogant (Proverbs 16:18) and counterproductive way to live.
As I was downloading all of this information into my spiritual psyche, I thought about the lead verse and how it’s oftentimes taught (and poorly taught, at that; Galatians 6:6). You know, growing up, I was told to wait until marriage to have sex (Hebrews 13:4). Fourteen sex partners later, if you ask my mother what she believes about the marriage bed vs. single sex, her counsel from way back when will still stand. She still thinks that I should have waited.
Along those same lines, I discern that a lot of us think that if we make a plan and God doesn’t intervene then it means He is in agreement (or at least He’s not disgusted with it) and that, because in the midst of our plan-making His counsel stands, then there must be some kind of cosign somewhere on our idea. Yet this is what we need to always remember about God’s counsel (and godly counsel): It will always refer us back to the “deliberate purpose; plan; design” that God has for us. When the Word tells us that God’s counsel stands, it means that His deliberate purpose, plan and design for our lives will always be “upright” and “steady” and that His plan will “endure or undergo without harm or damage or without giving way.”
This is why Romans 8:28 can so confidently state, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” It’s like God’s way of saying, “In your scheming, that’s all you. But the moment that you decide to break free from iniquity, you decide to love me by keeping my commandments and get back to my original purpose for your life, you won’t be able to help but to receive counsel from me and the kind of counsel that I give is based on the kind of Spirit that I am. My counsel is ever upright and steady, and I will show you how to endure and undergo things without being harmed or giving way to anything less than my Spirit of truth.”
This is why Christ could be revered as a “Wonderful Counselor” (Isaiah 9:6). It’s because His entire life model showed us how to make the right kinds of life plans—ones that consist of living upright and steady, enduring without giving way. This is also why we are given biblical counsel like the following: “weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning” (Psalm 30:5); “His work is honorable and glorious, and His righteousness endures forever” (Psalm 11:3); “[Love] bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Corinthians 13:7); and finally…
“According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire” (1 Corinthians 3:10-15).
Do you want to know if your plan is going against God’s counsel? What is your foundation? Because if it’s not Christ (and Christ said that you had to lose your life in order to find it—Matthew 10:39, 16:25), it’s a plan that is going against God’s counsel.
How are you handling the times of testing? Because if you are not enduring the fire, there’s a huge chance that it’s a plan that is going against godly counsel.
Finally, who are you looking to be rewarded by? Because if it’s anyone other than the Most High, that’s also a sign that it’s a plan that is going against godly counsel.
We know that last one to be biblically-sound because the Word clearly tells us that when we do things for an audience response, their reaction is our reward (Matthew 6:1-6). Sadly, for some people, having “fans” is the only reward that they are after. As children of the Most High (Psalm 82:6), our standards should be so much higher than that.
“For He repays man according to his work, and makes man to find a reward according to his way” (Psalm 34:11).
“But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6).
A reward is “something given or received in return or recompense for service, merit, hardship, etc.” A final sign of if your plans are going against God’s counsel is this: if you are more concerned with getting accolades from man than rewards from God, if you are less committed to enduring for a purpose just so that your own schemes can come to pass, if you are not willing to serve and endure hardship so that godly purpose on this earth can be revealed, then your plans are going against godly counsel.
Godly counsel comes from the Word. Godly counsel comes from prayer (James 1:5). And godly counsel also comes from godly people. I discern that a lot of people reading this are at a crossroads when it comes to determining if they are really following God’s plans or following through with their own schemes. Remember that with God, purpose trumps anything that “the joker” (John 8:44) will bring to you. Without question, if you are forsaking (Genesis 1:26-28) to try and make something happen, it is a scheme indeed; without counsel, plans, especially in the form of schemes, go wrong. That said, if it’s the counsel from (wo)man that you need a bit more clarity about, a man by the name of Francis Bacon, Sr. couldn’t have said it better:
“He that gives good advice, builds with one hand; he that gives good counsel and example, builds with both; but he that gives good admonition and bad example, builds with one hand and pulls down with the other.”
Don’t just listen to counsel, watch the counselor as well.
These are some really “trigger happy planning times” that we are living in. Before you make a move, remember: Satan hates God’s original plan, and he will encourage you to come up with schemes to divert you from it.
This is why you must stick to godly counsel.
It will get you right to your just reward every time.
Just like God planned it…all along.
©Shellie R. Warren/2012