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. (NIV)
However, as it is written:
“What no eye has seen,
what no ear has heard,
and what no human mind has conceived”--
the things God has prepared for those who love him (NIV)
1 Corinthians 2:9
When you read this, what does it say about God's plan for your life? How does it make you feel?
Now Read this passage:
Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. (NIV)
When the Lord speaks to us in the first two passages, He is revealing that He has the most wonderful plans for our life. Jesus also said that He has come to give us life more abundantly. It is easy to see the abundance of God's plan for our life through the first two passages. But then in Luke, we see that the Lord is telling us that we must be willing to lose this most wonderful plan that God has for us before we can receive it. To fully understand what the Lord is asking of us, let's read this passage about Abraham and Isaac.
Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!”
“Here I am,” he replied.
2 Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.” (NIV)
Isaac was the son whom the Lord had promised to Abram, but 15 years went by between the time God promised a son before Isaac was born. Now, Isaac is a young teenager and the Lord asks Abram to sacrifice him. How do you think Abram felt?
Why would God ask Abram to give up his promised son? (Facilitator Notes: If we are not willing to lose the plans that God has given to us or promised to us to obey Him, then the promises are more important to us than He is.)
If the promises are more important to us than He is, then do we really love Him? What do we forfeit if we really don't love God more than anything, with all of our heart?
When we are sent out, we are sent out to live a life of obedience which will cause suffering as we love people who are hard to love just as Jesus loved those who crucified Him. To obey will mean at least a temporary forfeiture of a wonderful life. How hard is it to do this in our daily lives?
What are some examples of the suffering you have had to endure in order to obey the Lord?
Obeying Him though it causes suffering is proof that we, like Abram, are willing to lose His promises in order to obey Him. It proves that we love Him more than His promises. The wonderful life that God has for us is connected with being sent and suffering and being willing to obey even when it hurts.
How well do you think Christians do this? Why do you think?