Summary: We make our plans, but we forget to seek God’s plans for our lives.
First Baptist Church
August 12, 2001
My Plans or God’s
I would like to ask you a few questions. Please raise your hand if you answer yes. How many of you have purchased homes in your lifetimes? How many of you have worked? How many of you have taken a vacation or will take a vacation this year? Who has ever bought a car? How many have gone are will be going to college? How many of you are married or plan to get married? Who has children or would like to have children? How many plan to have a great retirement? For the youth — have you bought a scooter, bike, play station games, or anything like that? I don’t think I have left anyone out!!
Thanks for participating in my little survey. Now, I have one more question for you, it is one I want you to think about, because it is what this scripture is about. I also don’t want you to raise your hands. When you bought your last car, your house, began a new job, or decided on a vacation — did you pray about it? When you believed you met the right person and wanted to get married, did you pray about it? Have you prayed about your retirement -- what you’ll do or how you’ll finance it? Have you tried to discern and understand God’s will?
The scarey thing is that most of us don’t consider God in the midst of our everyday plans, unless of course, it is prayer for healing. The majority of us, me included don’t seek God’s guidance and will in our purchases -- let alone in the major events in our lives. I’m not talking about what color socks should I wear, I’m talking about marriage, having children, career changes, new cars, houses, vacations and so on. How do you make those decisions and plans?
Debbie and I have been in the market for a new television and VCR. The VCR doesn’t work and the television is 21 years old and doesn’t have very good color. Until I began to look at this scripture I didn’t really think about praying whether or not we should buy a television and VCR. Normally, if the money’s there, we just do it. But now I have to stop and reconsider what God wants us to do. Are these new luxury items in His plans for us, or are they simply our plans.
I was appalled this past week when I was in Wal-Mart, Sam’s and Shopko. Each store said that you could bring in your government rebate check and sign it over to the store. Shopko even offered an additional 10% off, if you used that check. But what would God want you to do? Have you ever asked that question?
Of course, making plans is normal and acceptable. We must make plans in life if we would like to succeed. It is said that if you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll never get there. We must make plans for retirement, saving money for homes and cars and college tuition. We seek the proper college to attend and we plan on finding a career that is fulfilling. Plans are a vital, vital part of life. But the question James is asking us is God involved in those plans?
Making plans is biblical. Paul often made plans regarding his travels. See Acts 15:36; 18:20-21; 1 Co 16:5-9. In 1 Corinthians 16:7, Paul states, he hopes to spend some time with the people of Corinth, "if the Lord permits." And in Acts 18:21, he adds, ‘he will return to Ephesus if God wills.’ Do you see what Paul was doing? He wanted his plans to be contingent upon the Lord’s plans.
Even in many of his letters Paul would remind the people to be filled with the knowledge of God’s will (Colossians 1:9) or ‘not to be foolish, but to understand God’s will’ (Ephesians 5:17). When we make decisions we must seek God’s will and learn to understand the plan He has for us. Even Jesus reminded us in Luke 14:28 that we must make plans when we build a home or go to war. So God has nothing against making plans.
Let’s look at what James is telling us in these five verses. People were making plans about how they were going to accumulate more money. They had plans to go to this town and that town, make a few million and move on and make a few million more in the next town. Their plans were set. Understand, James is not against making money, he is against making definite plans and not allowing God to have any say in those plans. The people were making plans as if God didn’t exist. Instead, they should be prayerfully making their plans. They need to be alert to the possibility that God will change those plans, moving them in a new direction . One they had not anticipated, but one that will ultimately prove more fruitful.