James 4:13-17 “Making Plans God’s Way”
People who know what they want amaze me.
Some people know what career they wanted to pursue from a very young age; what they are looking for in a future spouse; and some even plan for retirement.
* I, on the other hand, have been winging it for most of my life.
Without much planning, God blessed me with a wonderful wife and two amazing children.
I was blessed with fantastic parents which I certainly had nothing to do with.
I have had a blessed life in many ways, but it is not because I planned it that way.
For most of my life I would jokingly say, “I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up”, but inside I knew that it really wasn’t a joke.
Then about 5 ½ years ago I was asked to minister to this church family.
Not too long after that I realized my purpose in life…to teach the word of God and to minister to His children.
It is by far the toughest job I have ever had but at the same time it is the most rewarding.
For me, there can be no greater satisfaction than to see people become more like Christ.
I use myself as an illustration not for attention, but to encourage you about your future.
After all, if a person who has planned so little for his future on this earth can be commissioned with such a responsibility, how much more will those who plan ahead be blessed?
Maybe some plans just happen by accident, or maybe there is a Higher Power involved.
Professor Lowell; of Harvard University was speaking many years ago about Columbus Day.
He pointed out three profound things about Christopher Columbus’ discovery of America:
First, when he left Spain he didn’t know where he was going.
Second, when he arrived in the New World he didn’t know where he was.
Third, when he returned to Ferdinand in his court he didn’t know where he had been.
‘And he did it all on borrowed money!’
He must have been quite a salesman!
* James writes about some folks with a business plan. (4:13-17)
They knew “when they would begin their venture”. (Within the next few days)
They knew “where they were going”. (To a city that would be good for business)
They knew “how long they would be there” (A year or so)
They knew “what they were going to do” (Carry on business)
And they knew “the ultimate purpose of this business trip” (To make money)
Sounds like a good plan doesn’t it?
We don’t know all the details but the basics are there.
But according to James there was a major flaw with their plan.
It is almost as if he is saying, “You make all these plans, you talk all this talk, yet you really don’t have a clue what is going to happen in the future.”
And besides that, you leave out the most important factor; GOD!
Luke 12:13-21 On one occasion when Jesus was speaking, someone in the crowd said,
"Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me."
Jesus replied, "Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?"
Then he said to them, "Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions."
(He didn’t tell him that it was wrong to want his share of the inheritance, He warned him to keep his desire within its proper perspective)
And he told them this parable: "The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop.
He thought to himself, 'What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.'
"Then he said, 'This is what I'll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods.
And I'll say to myself, "You have plenty of good things laid up for many years.
Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry." '
"But God said to him, 'You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you.
Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?'
"This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God."
Once again, Jesus did not say that it was wrong to store up things for himself.
He said the problem comes when we make plans but leave God out of the picture.
* He made preparation for his life on this earth without considering the here-after.
You see, in a world filled with self-promotion & self-satisfaction there is little room for God.
When God is NOT involved, we measure success differently.
When God is NOT involved it is measured by earthly standards and with earthly wisdom.
When God IS involved it is not a matter of “I will” but “if the Lord is willing.”
When God IS involved it is not all about “my accomplishments” but “God’s blessings”.
When God IS involved it is not just a matter of “storing up treasures on earth” but it becomes a matter of “storing up treasures in heaven”.
Prov 16:3 “Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.”
When God is in our plans we are always successful, even when it doesn't appear that way to the world.
* Back to James; not only did these business persons fail to include God in their plans, they put too much stock in the future. They presumed that the future would be at their disposal.
But God never promised us tomorrow; He has only given us today!
That is why it is so important to act today when God calls.
* James reveals a few reasons why it is unwise to put too much stock in tomorrow…
* The future is unpredictable.
He wrote, “Why, you don’t even know what will happen tomorrow”.
Who could have predicted just a few short years ago that thousands would lose their retirement because of corrupt businesses leaders?
Who could have known that in 2009 unemployment would be in excess of 10%?
And who can predict the future of one’s health?
Ill. The TV series “V” where the aliens body scan could tell past diseases and future ones.
We don’t have the luxury of knowing what will happen in the future.
But there is one thing that will never change; the Rock we call Jesus Christ.
Our Lord is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
That is why, it is through the consistency of God’s character that we should make our plans.
* Not only did they make the mistake of presumption, they failed to realize the brevity of life.
I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again; as morbid as it may sound, I think it is a good idea for every adult to go to a funeral on occasion…other than their own!
There is nothing like a funeral to put life back into perspective.
I can assure you that if we are blessed to have our faculties about us on our death bed we are not going to be concerned about our next business venture.
* Recently we’ve had a few foggy mornings.
Sometimes it is pretty dense but when the sun appears it burns off and is quickly forgotten.
That is how James describes our lives.
Compared to eternity our lives are like a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.
1 Pet 1:24-25 Peter describes it this way.
"All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord stands forever.”
Eccl 6:12a Solomon puts it this way.
“For who knows what is good for a man in life, during the few and meaningless days he passes through like a shadow?”
* There is nothing wrong with planning for the future, but perhaps we shouldn’t place too much stock in our plans.
Prov 19:21 “Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the LORD's purpose that prevails.”
Maybe we should call our plan, “Plan B” with the realization that God’s purpose will prevail.
With God in our plans, perhaps it won’t be such a shock when He intervenes.
And when He does intervene, and He will, we can fall back on our faith and say,
“Not my will Lord, but your will be done”
James 4:15-17 James concludes his thought on the matter.
Instead, you ought to say, "If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that."
As it is, you boast and brag. All such boasting is evil.
Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins.”
* For hundreds of years Christians used to write the initials D.V. at the end of their letters.
They would sign their name and then write D.V.
It stood for the Latin phrase "Deo Volente" – which means "Lord willing".
Instead of boasting and bragging about the plans that they had made, they should have said,
"If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that."
* It appears that these business persons neglected to do something that they knew they should do…like trust in God.
You see, it is not enough to cause no harm; we are also commanded to “do good”.
Sitting on our hands can get us into as much trouble as using them for selfish purposes.
* Sometimes this is called the sin of “omission”.
There are sins of “commission” that we commit with an act.
Then there are sins of “omission” that we commit by neglecting to do those things that we should.
James 4:17 “Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins.”
“Do not withhold good from those who deserve it, when it is in your power to act.
Do not say to your neighbor, "Come back later; I'll give it tomorrow"-- when you now have it with you.”
Maybe sometimes we are so caught up with the future that we forget to take care of the present.
But everything that I read about our God tells me that He is a God of “NOW”!
* You may recall the parable of the “Talents”. (Matthew 25:14-30)
Matthew 25:14-30. A man entrusted his servants with his property while he went on a trip.
The one given the one talent who hid it in the ground was called wicked and lazy and thrown outside into the darkness.
He knew that he was supposed to do something good but he CHOSE not to do so.
And he had an excuse just like anyone would.
“Whoever watches the wind will not plant; whoever looks at the clouds will not reap.”
In other words, if we look for an excuse not to do something, we can always find it.
We can only put God off for so long but we will all face him sooner or later.
Let’s not make the mistake of “not doing” something we should do.
Let’s not forget that “today is the day of salvation” and our God is a God of “NOW”.
Let’s not forget to make God the CEO of all our plans.
According to James this should be the response to all our plans.
It is when we seek His will and His favor in all the things we do that will truly be …
MAKING PLANS GOD’S WAY!!