3-Week Series: Double Blessing


Summary: If you want to succeed ask God's what he wants you to do.

Planning And The Will Of God

Text: James 4:13-17


1. Illustration: On September 11, Lt. Col. Brian Birdwell watched the television in his boss’ office as a second hijacked airplane slammed into the World Trade Center. The Army officer had no idea that minutes later madmen would ram a Boeing 757 into the Pentagon, just three windows away from his own office in the outermost ring. At 9:40 a.m. Brian was stepping out of the men’s room as a massive explosion hurled him to the floor. Instantly a fireball engulfed him. He could not get to his feet and agonized that he would never again see his wife, Melanie, and 12-year-old son, Matthew. But within seconds, an overhead fire sprinkler water on his charred body. Brian stumbled down the hallway and fellow Pentagon workers carried him to safety. Meanwhile, both Mel and Matthew were watching TV and saw the damage to the Pentagon. "I knew right away Brian’s office could not have survived that impact," Melanie reflects. Mom and son tearfully prayed together for Brian to have been out of his office at the time of the crash. Burns seared 61 percent of Brian’s body - 41 percent third-degree (arms and hands); the rest second-degree, scorching much of his face, ears, legs and back. Heavily sedated and clinging to life, Brian didn’t open his eyes for two days. The same day President and Mrs. Bush visited Brian. When President Bush greeted the bed-ridden Brian with a salute, the soldier painstakingly attempted to raise his heavily bandaged arms in a return salute. No eye was dry in the room. The next 12 weeks were the longest of Brian’s 40 years. Infection gnawed away at the remaining flesh on both arms. He required nearly 20 surgeries to cleanse wounds and graft on fresh skin. But Brian is not focusing on what he lost through the attack, but what he has gained. "My living through all this is one of God’s many miracles," Brian states. Of those endless days and nights at her husband’s bedside, Melanie says, "Now I don’t take things for granted as much. Your priorities change. The things that used to bother you in life, you now see that they are really not that important. Life is so precious and is so fragile."

2. Perhaps you have heard the proverb that says, "If you fail to plan, you plan to fail!" While there is great wisdom in this proverb there is another proverb that should go with it, "If you fail to seek God's will your plans will fail!"

3. Psalm 14:2 (NLT)

2 The LORD looks down from heaven on the entire human race; he looks to see if anyone is truly wise, if anyone seeks God.

4. James tells us that the truly wise seek God's will before they make important decisions. He tells us...

A. Planning Is Good, But The Will Of God Is Better

B. Seeking God's Will First Is Wise

5. Let's stand together as we read James 4:13-17.

Proposition: If you want to succeed ask God's what he wants you to do.

Transition: First, James tells us that...

I. Planning Is Good, But The Will Of God Is Better (13-14).

A. How Do You Know?

1. "In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable." ? Dwight D. Eisenhower

2. "Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe."

? Abraham Lincoln

3. Both of these men talked about the importance of planning. They were both President of the United States, and they were both successful.

4. Another man, Thomas A Kempis, someone you've probably never heard of, said, "Man proposes but God disposes. The quotation Man proposes but God disposes may come down to us as a direct translation from a work of devotion written in Latin by Thomas a Kempis. This work, his celebrated Of the Imitation of Christ, is the second most widely read Christian text after the Bible itself. It contains many sensitively and wisely expressed insights into spirituality and morals.

5. Planning is a good thing, as long as God is in it.

6. James says in v. 13, "Look here, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we are going to a certain town and will stay there a year. We will do business there and make a profit.”

A. The you who say is most likely businesspeople. Addressing this letter to scattered people presumes, at least in part, people moving to establish new lives in distant places. But its lessons apply to any situation that requires planning.

B. Business travel in the first century was very common, and Jews, especially, traveled widely for business purposes. Notice the well-laid plan: (1) "go to this or that city," (2) "spend a year there," (3) "carry on business." and (4) "make money." The starting time is arranged—"today or tomorrow." The city has been selected—the Greek text simply says "this city". But God has no place in the plans (The Expositor's Bible Commentary – Volume 12: Hebrews through Revelation, 197).

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