A New Year and New Plans

James 4:13-16 “Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and are money. Why you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for  little while and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If  it is the Lord’s will we will live and do this and that. As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil.”

I love to plan and these verses stop me in my tracks. James isn’t telling us that planning is bad in and of itself. He is telling us that the problem comes about when our attitude is wrong.

It is so easy to go about life in our self-sufficiency. Matthew Henry, in his commentary on these verses says that “We are always to depend upon the will of God. Our times are not in our own hands but at the disposal of God. All we design and all we do should be with submissive dependence on God.

Proverbs 27:1 “Do not boas about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring.”

There is not one of us who knows when their last breath will come. Yet, we often assume that we are in control of our future and think that everything will go according to our plans. All too often we don’t give a second thought to God’s plan. Everything in our lives is dependent upon the will of God. We will live if it is His will, we will do this or that, if it is His will.

It is God who is in control of our futures. We are fully dependent on Him whether we recognize or acknowledge that fact or not.

James tells us we “boast” in arrogance when we discuss our plans separate from from God’s will. Yet, if we think that just using those words “if God wills” makes it any different, we are wrong. It is about what is in our heart. It comes out of our belief system.

Do you believe God is sovereign? Do you believe He is the One in control? We have what we have because of God’s grace. And James is reminding us here to recognize our dependence.

  • Our plans need to come out of prayerfulness.
  • Our plans need to come out of a submissive heart.
  • Our plans need to come out of wiling dependence.
  • Our plans need to come out of acknowledging His sovereignty.
  • Our plans need to be accompanied by thankfulness responding to what the Lord has given, done, and what He is doing.

It all starts in our hearts, and our hearts need to remember that our lives are about God’s purpose and God’s will He created us to serve Him and bring Him glory.

Job tells us “Remember O God that my life is but a breath…”(7:7a)

Our lives fly by so quickly and then they are gone. I remember on the wall above my bed, when I was little, there was a small plaque that said “One life twill soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last.” All of our best laid plans are worthless unless they are God’s will. So what will living according God’s plan and purpose look like for you in 2017?

I recently read Ann Voskamp’s book The Broken Way. I found so much of it thought-provoking. It is a book I will re-read and go back to often, there is so much I can take from it to help me in my walk. One of the things that captured my attention was when she talked about the mason jar of wheat seeds, the contents equaling about 70 years of life, a seed for each day. Her daughter wanted to know how many Ann had left in the jar. I did a little math figured out for myself  the number of days I have before age 70 comes. “…only what’s done for Christ will last” echoes in my mind. Life is a gift- how will I use my days? 

Some questions to ponder:

  • How will I determine to acknowledge the Lord’s Sovereignty as I consider my future day-by-day?
  • How will move forward in His will, living for His purposes, to serve and to glorify HIm?
  • What will that mean for my plan this day? this week? this month?

It all starts with living humbly before the Lord, seeking His will for His glory. I think that I will start by writing James 4:13-16 in my planner as a reminder. How will you move forward?

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