James 4:13-17: “13 Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” 16 As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil. 17 If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.”
Planning without God’s Perspective, What NOT to do!
Notice in verse 13 who is absent from these merchant’s plans? God. It says “we will” go here, we will spend this much time there, we will do this type of business, we will make this much money. Where’s the Lord?
These businessmen were making plans without consulting God.
How many of you have made plans, started moving in one direction, and then at the very end, you’ve said, “Now God, I have made this decision, I’m hard at work carrying it out, You will bless me in it!” Or said, “I told God I’m going to do this…”
When did you stop asking God? When did you stop following Him and instead try to lead God as if you were better than Him?
These planners were working on their own time (“Today or tomorrow”), their own location (“we will go to this or that city”), their own period of activity (“spend a year there”), and their own purpose (“carry on business and make money”). They had made definitive plans; they had fixed plans. They had said “We will” instead of “we might.”
We call these folks “Practical Atheists.” They had done their planning without taking God into account.
Another way to think about this is looking at puzzles. Cora loves puzzles. She is very good at putting together puzzles, as long as they are for her age. One day, she sat down to help Lyndsey with a 1000-piece puzzle and quickly got bored and frustrated because she couldn’t figure it out. Now, imagine if Lyndsey had tried to put together that puzzle without the box? She’d get frustrated pretty quickly and give up as well.
Practical atheism is trying to put the puzzle of life together without the box. In this case, the puzzle maker (God). You can try for a little while and may even get a few pieces, but you won’t be able to get the entire thing done because it is too difficult. Don’t do your planning without God!
Verse 14 tells us why we need God in our planning.
How many of you have plans for tomorrow?
How many of you are 100% certain you will be alive tomorrow?
How many of you know exactly when you are going to die? Exactly.
God’s perspective not only involves our day-to-day plans but our entire life. He is sovereign over our presumptions and our arrogance.
Life is uncertain, and life is brief. Life is a mist—a shadow, breath, cloud.
Life is short, don’t be deceived into thinking that you have lots of remaining time to live for Christ, to enjoy your loved ones, or do what you know you should do. Live for Jesus today!
Psalm 90:12: “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”
You can’t change your past, but you can number your days and live with God’s wisdom from here on out.
Don’t mishear me; we should plan, we should look to the future, but we should do so with God’s perspective and only after much prayer and time spent seeking the Lord.
Max Lucado says, “Prepare for what we can, always acknowledging God’s ultimate control.”
Some questions to consider:
-What plans have you made without God? Do you need to scrap them?
-How can you line up with God’s plan for your life and live fully for Jesus?