Summary: As we consider the resolutions and plans we are making for the New Year ahead we need to realize that planning is important and that there is a right and wrong way to plan.


JAMES 4:13-17

Introduction: Most of us make resolutions and plans for the coming new year ¡V things we resolve to do and plans we intend to carry out. At the beginning of a new year, a high school principal decided to post his teachers¡¦ new year¡¦s resolutions on the bulletin board. As the teachers gathered around the bulletin board, a great commotion started. One of the teachers was complaining. "Why weren¡¦t my resolutions posted?" She was throwing such a temper tantrum that the principal hurried to his office to see if he had overlooked her resolutions. Sure enough, he had mislaid them on his desk. As he read her resolutions he was astounded. Her first resolution was that she was not going to let little things upset her in the New Year. (Copied from Frank Houston) As we consider the resolutions and plans we are making for the New Year ahead we need to realize that planning is important and that there is a right and wrong way to plan

I. The Benefit of Planning

A. There is nothing wrong with making plans. We should all plan and prepare for the future.

B. A lasting work requires extensive preparation.

C. Luke 14:28 "For which of you, intending to build a tower, sits not down first, and counts the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?"

D. In the spring of 1981, a young man was flown into desolate northern Alaska to photograph the natural beauty and mysteries of the tundra. He took along 500 rolls of film, several firearms, and 1,400 pounds of provisions. As the months passed, the words in his diary changed from wonder and fascination into a nightmare. In August he wrote, ¡§I think I should have used more foresight about arranging my departure. I¡¦ll soon find out.¡¨ In November he died in a nameless valley, by a nameless lake, 225 miles northeast of Fairbanks. An investigation revealed that though he had carefully planned his trip, he had made no provision to be flown out. (Our Daily Bread, March-May, 1998, p. for March 24)

E. Romans 12:11 "Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord;"

F. He who aims at nothing is sure to hit it.

G. Areas of planning reflected in verse 13 ¡V ¡§To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain¡¨

1. Where you will live - move, establish a residence

2. How you will make a living - get a job, start a business, launch a career

3. What you are going to do ¡V vacation, travel, leisure activities

H. He who lays no plans for the future will have an empty old age

I. Proverbs 6:6-8 "Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise: [7] Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler, [8] Provides her meat in the summer, and gathers her food in the harvest."

J. Paul does not censure forming plans and designs. It is not looking forward that he condemns but looking forward without God.

II. The Sin of Humanistic Planning ¡V Planning without God

A. Verse 15-16 ¡V ¡§For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that. But now ye rejoice in your boastings: all such rejoicing is evil.¡¨

B. Most go through life doing what and living the way they want seldom considering God.

C. The Rich Fool - Luke 12:16-20 "And he spoke a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: [17] And he thought within himself, saying, ¡¥What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits?¡¦ [18] And he said ¡¥This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods.¡¦ [19] And I will say to my soul, ¡¥Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry.¡¦ [20] But God said unto him, ¡¥Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?¡¦"

D. Man often foolishly boasts about his abilities, work, successes, and possessions without considering that all that one has is due to God and rests in His hands.

E. Psalms 10:4 "The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts." That is ¡§In all his thought processes there is no room for God.¡¨

F. We impart this ¡§without God¡¨ mindset in our children while they are young asking them, ¡§What do you want to be when you grow up?¡¨ when we should be saying, ¡§What do you believe God wants you to do when your grown up?

III. The Necessity of Including God in Planning

A. Uncertainty of events

1. We do not know about tomorrow.

2. Proverbs 27:1 "Boast not thyself of to morrow; for you know not what a day may bring forth."

3. In the political arena the unexpected generally happens. ¡V Someone has said, ¡§The president of today is the postage stamp of tomorrow.¡¨

4. In the commercial world ¡V poor men are raised to affluence and rich men reduced to the rags of poverty.

5. Everything changes but change itself. John Fitzgerald Kennedy (1917-1963)

B. The Uncertainty of Life

1. Verses 14-15 ¡§Where as ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time, and then vanishes away. For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.¡¨

2. There is nothing certain in a man’s life but that he must lose it. - Owen Meredith (1831-1891)

3. ¡§Our life shall pass away as a cloud, and shall be dispersed as a mist that is driven away with the beams of the sun, and overcome with the heat thereof.¡¨ (Wisdom 2:4)

4. In the movie Casualties of War, Michael J. Fox plays Private Erikson, a soldier in Vietnam who is part of a squad that abducts and rapes a young Vietnamese girl. He didn’t participate in the crime. Afterward, as he struggles with what has happened, he says to the other men in his squad, "Just because each of us might at any second be blown away, we’re acting like we can do anything we want, as though it doesn’t matter what we do. I’m thinking it’s just the opposite. Because we might be dead in the next split-second, maybe we gotta be extra careful what we do. Because maybe it matters more. Maybe it matters more than we ever know." Death, for all of us, is a breath away. And the nearer death is, the closer we are to answering to God for all we have said and done. ¡V Joel Sarrault in Fresh Illustrations for Preaching & Teaching (Baker), from the editors of Leadership.

C. Accountability

1. Hebrews 9:27 "And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:"

2. Romans 14:11-12 "For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. [12] So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God."

3. Live today, as you will wish you had lived when you stand before God.

4. A life given to God is a life well spent; a life not given to God is a life wasted.

5. Proverbs 3:5-6 "Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. [6] In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths."

6. Hudson Taylor had definite convictions about how God¡¦s work should be done. We can make our best plans and try to carry them out in our own strength. Or we can make careful plans and ask God to bless them. ¡§Yet another way of working is to begin with God; to ask His plans, and to offer ourselves to Him to carry out His purposes.¡¨ (Wycliffe Handbook of Preaching and Preachers, W. Wiersbe, p. 243)

D. Obedience

1. Verse 17 ¡§Therefore to him that knows to do good, and does it not, to him it is sin.¡¨

2. There are certain areas of that we already know the will of God concerning because He has revealed them in His Word.

3. We know that it is God¡¦s will for us during the next year to plan and endeavor to¡K

a. communicate with God regularly in prayer and studying the Bible

„h 1 Thessalonians 5:17 "Pray without ceasing."

„h Isaiah 34:16 "Seek ye out of the book of the LORD, and read...

b. be faithful in our church attendance and support of God¡¦s house

„h Hebrews 10:24-25 "And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: [25] Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching."

c. share Christ both by lifestyle evangelism and personal evangelism

„h Matthew 5:14-16 "Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. [15] Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. [16] Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven."

d. exercise the spiritual gifts with which God has endowed us

„h 1 Timothy 4:14 "Neglect not the gift that is in thee¡K

Conclusion: I am the New Year. I am an unspoiled page in your book of time. I am your next chance at the art of living. I am your opportunity to practice what you have learned about life during the last twelve months. All that you sought and didn¡¦t find is hidden in me, waiting for you to search it but with more determination. All the good that you tried for and didn¡¦t achieve is mine to grant when you have fewer conflicting desires. All that you dreamed but didn¡¦t dare to do, all that you hoped but did not will, all the faith that you claimed but did not have -- these slumber lightly, waiting to be awakened by the touch of a strong purpose. I am your opportunity to renew you allegiance to Him who said, "Behold, I make all things new." Planning is important. Planning without God or outside of the will of God is sin. Plan to do God¡¦s will in this coming year.