Summary: If we want to succeed in life and enjoy the next we must always put God first in all we do.

A Plan For Life

Text: James 4:13-17


1. Read James 4:13-17

2. Illustration: There was an officer in the navy who had always dreamed of commanding a battleship. He finally achieved that dream and was given commission of the newest and proudest ship in the fleet. One stormy night, as the ship plowed through the seas, the captain was on duty on the bridge when off to the port he spotted a strange light rapidly closing with his own vessel. Immediately he ordered the signalman to flash the message to the unidentified craft, ’Alter your course ten degrees to the south.’ Only a moment had passed before the reply came: ’Alter your course ten degrees to the north.’ Determined that his ship would take a backseat to no other, the captain snapped out the order to be sent: ’Alter course ten degrees--I am the CAPTAIN!’ The response beamed back, ’Alter your course ten degrees--I am Seaman Third Class Jones.’ Now infuriated, the captain grabbed the signal light with his own hands and fired off: ’Alter course, I am a battleship.’ The reply came back. ’Alter your course, I am a lighthouse.’ No matter how big or important any of us think we are, God’s Word stands forth as an unchanging beacon. All other courses must be altered to His.

3. While it is true that if you fail to plan, you plan to fail, it is also true that if you leave God out of your plans, you still plan to fail.

4. Yet despite his frailty and the uncertainty of his life, man still ignores God and walks upon earth as though his future is totally in his hands.

Proposition: If we want to succeed in this life and enjoy the next we must always put God first in all that we do.

Transition: James tells us that...

I. Self-Sufficiency Is Planning Without God (13)

A. Come Now

1. There is nothing wrong with making plans. We should plan and prepare for the future. In fact, we should never fail to take the time to plan.

2. Rm. 12:11 not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord;

3. Planning before we act is not what this Scripture is talking about; it is warning us not to plan without God.

4. Go to now, compares to our expression, "Come now!"

5. It is a pointed call for attention that indicates the seriousness of what follows. - Expositor’s Bible Commentary, The, Pradis CD-ROM

6. Yet, despite the warning of Scripture—and Scripture gives warning after warning—most men plan their lives without God.

7. They plan as if their own wills and desires controlled the destiny of life.

B. Make God First Priority

1. Illustration: Professor Lowell of Harvard University was speaking many years ago to a gathering on Columbus Day. He said that there were 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!’

2. Every time we make plans without asking God for guidance we are asking for trouble.

3. Every time we attempt to do something without first bathing it in prayer we are flirting with disaster.

4. I like to call it "doing my will in God’s name."

5. All too often we walk out ahead of God instead of following His leading, and then when it all falls apart we blame it on Him.

6. If we want the blessings of God we have to stay in the will of God.

Transition: James also tells us...

II. Self-Sufficeincy Is Failure to Recognized the Uncertainty of Life (14)

A. You Do Not Know What Will Happen

1. There is a problem with these well-made plans--no one can know what will happen tomorrow, to say nothing of a year in the future.

2. Proverbs 27:1 Do not boast about tomorrow, For you do not know what a day may bring forth.

3. There are two reasons why tomorrow is uncertain. First, Our minds and nature are limited.

a. We just cannot know the future.

b. No matter what we may plan or think, we do not know what will happen tomorrow; we are completely in the dark.

c. We do not know about tomorrow. In fact, we do not know what will happen one hour from now.

d. The point is this: we forget and ignore our nature—who we are, how limited we really are, how uncertain life with all its happenings and events really is.

4. Second, Our lives at most are only as a vapor that appears for a brief time and then vanishes away.

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