“Plans” / Acts 16:9-15; John 16:22-33; Revelation 21/ Pr. Lucas Andre Albrecht / Sunday, May 22nd / Easter Season
Text: Acts 16:9-15; John 16:22-33; Revelation 21
Intr – Some are written on the rock, some on the sand. They may involve material goods, finances, career or education. Family, personal, existential…Plans! Even though we might not write them down on paper or computer screen, somehow we end up making plans which we expect to fulfill in the days, months or years ahead.
But, what if none of them would come true? Don’t get me wrong; I don’t want that for you. I do wish you make them all happen. But there always is the possibility of one or two, some of them, or even all of them, go wrong. What happens then? Anxiety, excessive frustration and despair may settle in. Even our best plans might not be exactly the best for our life, for this is something God only knows. It is important to remember that things may happen differently than what we first thought. And that is not necessarily bad.
Take, for example, the first reading for today.
Acts – Paul’s Plans and God’s Plans
*Paul and his companions are heading to Macedonia. All according to the plan they’ve made, correct? Not really. In the verses right before today’s pericope we see that twice their plans were frustrated. We don’t know if it was in a supernatural way, or just the regular way of things that happen preventing you to take a certain direction - as happens to us too.
Now, I can imagine that they got frustrated, disappointed, and everything else that comes in the package when our well elaborated plans meet the water. We perhaps can even hear their thoughts, “But what is this now? Here we are doing our best to preach the Gospel, having one hard time after another, and as if things weren’t rough enough, now nothing that we plan seems to succeed!”
God’s plan succeeded though. They pass on to Macedonia to help Cornelius. They meet the ladies, they meet Lydia. People hear the Gospel, people are baptized. The Gospel has another open door all according to God’s plan.
What do we see about frustrated expectations in the Gospel?
John – The Disciples plan x Jesus Plan
When Jesus speaks clearly, the disciples think they’ve got it. “Aha! Now we know. You are our promised king. We just can’t wait your next steps into establishing your kingdom among us.” Maybe some of them even recalled that idea about who would be sitting at Jesus’ right and left hand.
Jesus’ words reveal a different plan though. “Behold, dthe hour is coming, indeed it has come, when eyou will be scattered, each to his own home, and fwill leave me alone. gYet I am not alone, for the Father is with me.”
The disciples thought: “Ah! Your are God! We are good then”.
Jesus’ words reveal: “Ah, now you know that I’m God. Now, trust me that I know what is good for you”.
In Revelation 21, we see God’s plan for eternity –.There is even and entire city of Jerusalem already planned! And with the names of all the tribes inscribed on it. God’s plan is to have you and all Christians with Him, in the New Earth and New Heavens.
It makes me think of the phrase: “Sometimes God doesn’t tell us His plans because we wouldn’t believe Him anyways”(Carlton Pearson)
As Christians we certainly make plans. We plan our Services; we plan our Church work. Our career, our family life, etc. As we plan, or even before we do, we need also to practice 3 other important “P”s.
Prayer – Asking God what you wish
Preparation - Asking God conditions to make it happen
Provision – Trusting God’s Will for what will come and for what will be the outcome.
Sometimes what we dream of and plan does not come true. And we should be thankful for it.
Here’s a story about how the Spirit of Jesus continues to “interferes” in our plans even today.
One day (back in Brazil) one of our Master Degree’s professors, who is a pastor as well, was not feeling well during lunchtime. He tried everything possible to make the discomfort go away but nothing worked. Eventually the students suggested him to go to a doctor. He took the advice. The appointment was unpleasant, uncomfortable and expensive, too. However, when he was back in class that afternoon, he opened the meeting letting the students know: "I know why this happened to me today!"
Then he described the event. The doctor asked for an electrocardiogram; even though there was no indication that the ailment was that serious he wanted to be on the safe side. Because of that, he needed to go to the examining room, where the professor/pastor had the opportunity then to chat with the nurse. He told her where he was from and what he did at his church. Then she also started to talk and, during the conversation, revealed that she was having many financial concerns and that it affected her emotionally, too. The nurse told also that she used to attend church but had not done so for a long time. She even shared with him that a few days before the leaders from her church had visited with her. "And they told you that all those problems were the result of you not going to church anymore, right?" - said the professor. The nurse said, "yes, they did...how did you know?"
From there our professor had the opportunity to share God's word of forgiveness and comfort, letting her know that God does not punish according to our mistakes. He went on, "If that was so, who would be spared? Instead, through His love and grace He leads us to repentance; forgiving, embracing, erasing all our sins giving us strength for life."
Tears welled in her eyes, and she said to the pastor: "These are wonderful words! You know, I have never heard this before!" In the classroom, tears also came to the professor's eyes as he exclaimed: “Imagine what this means, my dear students! How is it possible that someone who goes to church never hears that Jesus' forgiveness and embrace are above all condemnation, threat and punishment?"
And he returned to his opening sentence: “Yes, my dear friends. I know why God let this happen to me today.” 
We so easily get frustrated when our plans and desires fail that we forget to realize that God is always working according to His time. Even a moment of distress, illness our peril may become an opportunity for us to share with someone who had never seen nor heard learn something invaluable. And that could make the difference in the life of a friend, colleague, loved one. Even the difference for someone we barely know.
Sometimes what we dreat of and plan does not come true. And we should be thankful for it. For God’s Plan and will for our lives is always at work. The greatest proof of this plan of love is most successful plan ever – the One in which God planned to bringing back to himself the human being, in Jesus Christ. The plan:
_Through His suffering he relieved us;
_Through death he gives us life;
_becoming sin He gave us forgiveness;
_dying unjustly he delivered us from just death;
_through water He gives us faith;
_in bread and wine He gives his body and blood;
_in His Word he provides for our life until the end of the ages.
This is a perfect plan. And not only perfect but a plan that works every time. This doesn’t mean that planning, anticipating and having dreams is something wrong, but our Christian Faith brings perspective to them. God makes us think about how much of our goals depend only on our ability and effort, and how much we put them in the hands of the One who really knows what’s best for our lives.
As you live your plans and dreams, remember,
-first, that you are a sinner in a sinful world. Things go wrong, things go bad, thing go terribly bad. God’s will is perfect, but ours is corrupted.
-Remember constantly also that there is a solution for sin, and it is not planning our way out of it. It is trusting God’s plan on the Cross.
-And remember Jesus’ words to his disciples right after he tells them they’d be scattered when the hour comes: “I have said these things to you, that hin me you may have peace. iIn the world you will have jtribulation. But ktake heart; lI have overcome the world.” His promises and plans for our lives are always the right thing for what we need, even though it might not be exactly what our planning envisioned. Or even when things happen which he is not the author of - like sufferings and trouble caused by the sin and devil – he is still working according to his plan for our good, as St. Paul reminds us in Romans 8.28.
Cc - I do wish that your plans come true. But what I wish even harder is that you and I will remain steadfast in Christ, trusting that at every step we take in faith in him He watches and guides us by his love. Thus, you can begin every new plan with the assurance that your life is inside God’s plan.
As you walk in faith n Jesus fed by Him in Word and Sacraments know that God’s plans can change, can surprise you, can leave us speechless, can leave us without understanding them for some time. But there is one thing they can’t: they can’t fail.
 Does God laugh? We often see pictures of Jesus teaching, walking, interacting with people that portray him as a quite serious man. It's not easy to see him smiling. To think of Him having a laugh, or telling an anecdote, then, seems almost a sin. But perhaps on one occasion we can manage to make God laugh: just tell Him about your plans for the future. What we think is best for our life. How we imagine life will be. How we think that everything must happen, converge and unfold so that we have the best possible in our life. When we tell the Father how we children predict we are going to live better.
This illustration is not intended to claim that planning, anticipating and having dreams is something wrong, but to bring some perspective to them. It makes us think about how much of our goals depend only on our ability and effort, and how much we put them in the hands of the One who really knows the two most fundamental things:
1 – What will the future look like?
2 – What will be best for ours.
The idea is also not to suggest mockery, but that the Father, with affection, would have a good laugh and say: “All right, my son, but leave it to me and I will show you.”
However, there are situations in which I have no doubt that our Father smiles with pleasure. When he sees us trust, when he sees us obey, when he sees our life with Him. He doesn't like to be saddened by our pointless insistence, or our baseless desires. I believe He prefers to laugh with us when we achieve an achievement, so that He can rejoice to see us thank you. Mainly, by accompanying us living in faith, willing to face what lies ahead holding in your hand. In fact, then, it is not that God laughs at our plans. He just wants them to be traced in the perspective of the joy of living under his Love.
 “I have never heard this before”. http://toquedevida.blogspot.com/2012/08/eu-nunca-tinha-ouvido.html