Summary: Understanding the sovereignty of God, and how that should affect the way I live.
August 12, 2001
The Sovereignty of God is more than a doctrine. If I have learned anything about how much control God exerts on everything in life it is these two:
a. There are no accidents. When a cowboy applied for health insurance, the agent routinely asked if he had had any accidents during the previous year. The cowboy replied, No. But I was bitten by a rattlesnake, and a horse kicked me in the ribs. That laid me up for a while. The agent said, Weren’t those accidents? No, replied the cowboy, They did it on purpose. (Our Awesome God © 1997 Ray Pritchard, 1997, Oak Park, Illinois)
Beloved, we never catch God by surprise either.
b. His plans tend to mess with my plans. Did you ever feel like the small boy who was writing a letter to God about the Christmas presents he really wanted?
"I’ve been good for six months now," he wrote. After a moment of reflection he crossed out the six months and wrote in three. After that he crossed it out and wrote two weeks.
Then, he tore up the paper, went to the Christmas tree and picked Mary out of the nativity scene. He went back to his desk and started his letter again.
"Dear God….If you ever want to see your mother again…" (Mark Ashton, A Voice in the Wilderness (OM Publishing);
God’s plans (sovereign plans) have always gotten in our way.
There was the year I lost my legs. At thirteen, life was really getting good. Sports defined my life. I cried foul when the doctor took a look at my knees and put me in a chair for five months. God had messed with my baseball!
There was the year Jennifer (our first) was born.
I went from being #1 in Elizabeth’s life to, Oh, and don’t forget to pick up more Huggies when you get the groceries; and get some more of that diaper rash cream. I needed a honey-do rash cream!
God’s sovereign plans mess with a lot of people. James Emmons told me last week about a 54 year-old friend who died. They went to school together. Superman isn’t supposed to be vulnerable.
And Brenda wasn’t planning on fainting in the bank parking lot last year….and then having to grow her hair back after the surgeon did his work. God’s plans mess with our plans; boy, do they ever!
And so, if we listen to James – take the advice he offers, we will find two very important principles for running life’s race:
I. MAKE YOUR LIFE’S PLANS WITH ETERNITY IN FOCUS.
Stuff disappears quickly…just like our plans. James teaches us that making our plans requires a reality check about the sovereignty of God…
James 4.13-17 (The Message New Testament)
And now I have a word for you who brashly announce, “Today—at the latest, tomorrow—we’re off to such and such a city for the year. We’re going to start a business and make a lot of money.” You don’t know the first thing about tomorrow. You’re nothing but a wisp of fog, catching a brief bit of sun before disappearing. Instead, make it a habit to say, “If the Master wills it and we’re still alive, we’ll do this or that.” As it is, you are full of your grandiose selves. All such vaunting self-importance is evil. In fact, if you know the right thing to do and don’t do it, that, for you, is evil.
The greatest arrogance in the universe is presuming upon God. Some years ago the Florida lottery ran television ads attempting to promote ticket sales. The chances of winning a lottery are one in several million gazillion. In a variety of ways the commercials showed winners of vast sums of money. Each one would end by holding up the winning ticket, saying, "You never know…"
We need to remember that saying about tomorrow – you had better include God in your plans…because you never know if you have tomorrow…or if today God will require your presence before the bar! Friends, life is incredibly short; eternity is incredibly long.
It may not be necessary, but I’ll say it anyway, it is wiser to prepare for eternity, than anything in the here and now. It is certainly not begging the issue to repeat – failing to prepare for eternity is more than dangerous – it is foolish!
James is so thorough. He has told us not to leave God out of our plans. Now, he turns to the other vital issue, which naturally follows…how to do that on a practical level:
II. CARRY OUT YOUR LIFE’S PLANS IN A MANNER THAT WILL KEEP ETERNITY IN FOCUS.
James 5.7-12 (The Message New Testament)
Meanwhile, friends, wait patiently for the Master’s Arrival. You see farmers do this all the time, waiting for their valuable crops to mature, patiently letting the rain do its slow but sure work. Be patient like that. Stay steady and strong. The Master could arrive at any time.