Summary: A sermon about the way we plan and live each day. Is it our plan or God's plan? Ultimately daily life is about God and not about us.


Lanier Christian Church

January 8, 2016

David Simpson

Priority Planning

James 4:13-15

Well, the New Year is well underway. I have heard several offer their thoughts about the New Year with a phrase that goes like this: “2017 is going to be a great year. I just know it!” I think all of us pray that to be the case. It is certainly a wonderful trait for the new year to have a great attitude and to think positively!

However, many are only using positive thinking techniques to guide their hopes for the future. It’s often a thought expressed along the lines of, “If I just think positively, positive results will occur.” I have nothing against positive thinking. In fact, I would rather be confronted with that any day, rather than the negative wet blanket approach! But, biblical wisdom follows a different pattern.

James wrote: “Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” (James 4:13-15)

So, I want to offer some practical thoughts about how all of us should approach 2017 and the days and weeks and months ahead of us:

Goals are important, but God must be at the center of every goal. Planning is essential, but it must be known that HE is responsible for the outcome

This year, try a new approach to planning. Often times we plan our day and never pray. Sometimes we plan and pray. 1. This year, why not pray first and then, plan. Make God your first focus, not your plans.

Pray first, then plan. Seek Him first. Place your needs second. I like the hymn: “I am thine, O Lord.” The words contain the phrase, “Draw me nearer, nearer blessed Lord…” That ought to be our prayer, “Draw me nearer”. Put yourself in the care of God. You are NOT the one in charge of each day. HE is. Pray with words like: “Lord, I seek your will, not my own.

Trent Dilfer is currently a football analyst with ESPN. He was formerly an NFL quarterback with several teams. He served for most of his career in back-up roles. When the starting quarterback got hurt, he went in. As a Christian, Dilfer prayed that the Holy Spirit would allow him to have an attitude of joy and peace in the midst of his setbacks.

Throughout the 2000 season Dilfer continued to back up the struggling Tony Banks who was quarterback for the Baltimore Ravens. Midway through the season Coach Brian Billick decided to make a change at quarterback. He eventually led them to the playoffs and to many a critic’s amazement, went on to lead the Ravens to an exciting victory in Super Bowl 35. In a league where big egos are everywhere, Dilfer showed a different side when he was interviewed after his Super Bowl victory. His words were indicative of what he had written earlier in his prayer journal: “Thank you, God, that you are using football as the means to break me so that I may know you better.”

Trent Dilfer prays to know God better, to be nearer to Him.

What about you and me? Perhaps this is the year that we pray first, before any plans are made. That we seek God above all – to be near Him, to know Him better to really allow Him to lead our every step.

2. Desire God’s Will above your own.

It’s an easy temptation to say our prayers and try to direct God as to how to answer our prayers. When we do that, we are praying selfish prayers. We are asking God to bless our will, not seeking His will.

Philip Yancey once wrote: “If God doesn’t want something for me I shouldn’t want it either.”

That is so true, but it requires us to be unselfish as we approach this new year and our daily lives.

Perhaps we should explore what the signs of a selfish prayer really are:

Focusing on Your Comfort

When you’re praying because you are just trying to get out of a tough situation and gain your own comfort, that’s a selfish prayer. The focus of that prayer is not in God’s plan for you. It definitely isn’t on his will. The focus is on you. Don’t be surprised if the prayer isn’t answered because God only wants the very best for you and in many cases, the very best situation is something that you need to realize through discomfort and challenges.

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