1. It was my first year end as controller. The year had just ended and in two months the auditors would be in to check the books. Accounts had to be reconciled and analyzed. Costs had to be projected on unfinished projects. For two months I worked an average of 16-20 hours a day, seven days a week. After it was all over, I was exhausted. I decided never to go through such an experience again. The next year I knew what was required and so I planned ahead. In November I gave my staff a schedule of what I expected from them on a weekly basis. Pages and pages of details of work that was to be done and reports made and accounts reconciled. The planning took extra work, but it was worth it. What had been a nightmare the year before, became a pleasant experience. The work was done more efficiently and correctly, and I did not even have to work any overtime. We were ready for the auditors two weeks before they were scheduled to arrive.
2. I believe in planning. We need to know where we want to go and we need to plan how we are to get there. This is true for our lives and our church. And yet I often get frustrated with people who wait for the last minute and seem to not think ahead. Who throw surprises upon others by not announcing their ideas ahead of time and allowing them to think things through.
3. Perhaps the passage before us is there especially for me. Perhaps it is not. James seems to be down on planning, but is He really?
4. Tonight we take a look at what James tells us by planning for the future. And it is an important passage for all of us. For we are all facing the need to plan ahead. Whether it be plans for college, job, a wedding , vacation, or retirement. Is it right to plan? If so, how are we to plan?
1. James is talking to Christian business men. They are probably not among the wealthy but they are at least middle class. The words he has are particularly addressed to business people, but the principles apply to us all.
2. The business plans they are making do not seem ungodly. They are planning an itinerary for a business trip. They have goods to sell. They had to check shipping schedules and work out a plan as to which cities they would visit and how to get from one city to the next. The entire expedition would take a year before they would return home. When they were there they would carry on business - buy and sell goods. And of course, they would make their money. Everything was planned out. Just like me with my year end.
3. But they are making three mistakes in their planning.
4. The first is that they are planning without God.
a. They know what they want to do. But they show that God is not part of their plans. In verse 15 James says that they should say "If this is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that." One of the things I appreciated about many Ontario classis ministers in the earlier years of the classis was that any announcements about upcoming events would include the letters DV, Deo Volente - God willing. In other words, these are our plans, but they will only take place if they are the Lord’s will. See that with yesterday's women's retreat which had to be cancelled - Cpor's funeral..
b. DV it acknowledges that it is alright, and necessary, to make plans, but that these plans are subject to God. T that we are not in control, that we cannot determine the future. That God is sovereign and although we may plan all we want, it is He who will determine what we will even be able to do. We can do nothing unless God enables us .
c. Paul knew that and showed it in his letters. He told the church in Ephesus Acts 18:21 , "I will come back if it is God's will." And the Corinthians in 1 Cor 4:19 But I will come to you very soon, if the Lord is willing, and then I will find out not only how these arrogant people are talking, but what power they have. Yet not always did he say this, but it was still his attitude (words not always req’d - like a magic formula)
1 Cor 16:5-8 After I go through Macedonia, I will come to you--for I will be going through Macedonia. Perhaps I will stay with you awhile, or even spend the winter, so that you can help me on my journey, wherever I go. I do not want to see you now and make only a passing visit; I hope to spend some time with you, if the Lord permits. But I will stay on at Ephesus until Pentecost,