Planning Ahead with God – James 4:13-17

Acknowledge The Sovereignty Of God In All Things

13 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.” 14 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. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” 16 As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil. 17 If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.

Brash Boasting

Money is an interesting device.  It allows us to exchange our labor and efforts for the goods and services of others.  Money in and of itself has no real value apart from what people perceive it to be.  We often think that we cannot live without money.  But is it money that we need, or what it can obtain for us?

Most people would do just fine through barter.  Even if, for some strange reason, a kind benefactor were to provide you with food every morning on your doorstep (at a house which they provided you a clear title as well and paid all taxes), daily restocked your woodpile for your cast-iron stove, refilled your well with water, provided every tool and item to repair anything that broke, and left clothing (that fit you) every day, who would need money?  You would have everything that you needed to survive!

But we still seek after money, and when God gives us success in our endeavors, we forget that it is because of His mighty providence that we have what we have, even the ability to breathe, and we make mighty boasts about what we are going to do tomorrow.  This greatly displeases the Lord, for we have forgotten our place in His plan.

Mighty Mist

In this passage, we are likened to a mist that is here today, and gone tomorrow.  For the Lord, a thousand years is as a day.  Time appears to be against us.  In just a few years, each of us age, and our bodies begin to fail, until they can work no longer.  Just as the mist rises in the morning, then fades away once the sun shines down upon it and heats it up, our lives are but a short speck of time throughout eternity.

It behooves us to remember just how little time we have, and how fast it marches closer and closer to the time when we must give an account to God for everything we have done in the flesh with the gifts, provision, and calling He has provided to and for us.  By remembering just how short that time is, we will be better prepared to make the sacrifices that are necessary to honor and glorify God.

Moses once asked God to help him to number his days.  He recognized just how short our time here on Earth would be.  We should do the same.  When we ask this of God, we acknowledge that He is sovereign over all of His creation.

Solely Sovereign

We can acknowledge that God is sovereign through our attitudes and speech.  Rather than boast, “Next year we will go here or there and do so and so and be successful,” we can honor God by saying, “If we are alive and it is the will of the Lord, we will …”  It is this attitude of the heart that God is seeking in each one of us.

Once we begin to believe that we did these things with our own hands, apart from the divine strength and provision of the Lord God Almighty, we will begin to erect an idol in our lives out of pride and haughtiness.  We have been warned about what comes next:

Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.

Avoid Arrogance

Without the eternal perspective that God has through His nature and sovereignty, we are likely to become very arrogant when He richly blesses us.  And God has shown in His word, time and time again, that He will not tolerate such things.  It is for reasons such as these that Israel was continually conquered by her enemies and enslaved, Over and Over Again, to their great shame and dismay.  And if they are part of the true vine, and the rest of us are merely grafted in, how much more will we be subject to that very same treatment if we go the way of arrogance?

Onerous Omission

James, the author of this passage of scripture, reminds us that not only should we be avoiding those things that are abhorrent to God – sins of commission – but also that we are to be doing the things that we know God wants us to do.  When we fail to do them, we are engaged in sin – the sin of omission.  Both are abhorrent to God.  Let us now carefully evaluate what we do, what we plan, and what we say so that it comports to the attitudes, thoughts, and actions that please God.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Do I acknowledge God’s sovereignty in how I make my plans and go about implementing them?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You are to be praised and exalted above all.  Thank You for Your continued provision and providence in my life, and helping me to even breathe.  Father, show me the way I should go, and help me to get there.  Provide me the wisdom, discernment, and direction that I need to accomplish all that You desire to be done.  Give me clear direction, the strength, and the vision to overcome all obstacles that the enemy places in my path that I might bring honor and glory to Your name through everything You do through me.  Keep my heart far from pride, arrogance, and haughtiness, and instill within me an attitude of humility as I remember my place in Your presence.  Help me to experience success and joy in knowing that You are working out all things to good for me, for I love You, and I know that I am called according to Your purpose.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more? Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?


This blog has been edited for spelling errors and clarity

Love of God – 1 Corinthians 13:4

Nothing Is Impossible With God

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.

Patient Persistence

In this well-quoted passage, Paul talks about one of the defining character strengths of God – Love.   The first aspect of God’s love is that it is patient.  Because of our sin nature, we are naturally impatient.  And, in recent times, we have taken this to a new level, almost making it an art form.

We have instant coffee, instant potatoes, microwave ovens, Gbps internet bandwidth, instant banking, instant (fill in the blank).  Just about every aspect of our lives denotes the very nature of our impatience.  People are so focused on the moment that they fail to take the time to wait in line.  On the roads in the United States of America, cars whiz by each other as fast as possible and change lanes without regard to the safety of themselves or others on the same road.

But God is patient, waiting for years – possibly decades – with a full-on assault of kindness and blessing to lead us into repentance with Him.  And we can barely stand still long enough to say “Amen!” when a prayer is offered.  Patience is a lost art in the Western world.  Yet it is the very first characteristic of love that is delineated by Paul in this great treatise on love.

Keeping up Kindness

It’s the little things in life that make the day go by easier and more smoothly.  Kindness is listed next in the characteristics of Godly love.  The primitive church disciples of Christ were known as chrestos, or kind-ones.  It was mistakenly believed that they were being called Christians because they followed Christ.  In reality, they were just so kind, that they stood apart from the world.

The chrestos ministered to a dying world in an amazing way.  When Roman citizens would throw their babies into the river to get rid of them, the chrestos went into the river, rescued them, and raised them as their own children.  When plague and sickness invaded cities, everyone fled, but the chrestos rushed in, providing comfort and care to those who were suffering, often dying of the very diseases that they were helping others to overcome.  Such was the life of kindness displayed in the primitive church.

Evading Envy

Having said what love was, Paul now tells us what love is not.  Love is not envious.  Envy is a terrible sin.  Desiring the property, relationships, wealth, position, status, authority, or anything else of someone else is effectively saying that God made a mistake in not providing it to you.  Since God does not make mistakes, it is we who make the mistake when we desire what we do not have.

Banning Boasting

We also have the desire to promote ourselves, rather than God.  We seek to lay claim to His glory as our own, for it is God who enables us to do all things.  Nothing that we do is done solely by us, but rather with the express prior permission, provision, and protection of God.  We cannot take a breath of air without His help.  Christ holds all things together, and created all things.

When we boast, we are in effect saying that by our own ability something was accomplished.  Yet anything done without the power and provision of God is hay and stubble, tainted by the very nature of sin that now threatens to usurp God’s rightful claim to glory and praise.  If we must boast in something, let it be in our weakness, for when we are weak, God is strong.

Purging Pride

The three main threats we encounter in our sinful nature are the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.  Pride is the seed and root of boasting, believing that we are the authors of our own destinies.  Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.  We are setting ourselves us for failure when we buy into the belief that we are the authors of anything good.

God alone is good, and we need Him to help us accomplish anything worthy of praise.  And because of our dependence upon Him, we can rightfully give all glory and honor to God.  Since God and God alone is worthy of all praise and glory, it is right to give it all to Him.  The Bible says that we will be tested by our praise.  Let us remember the source of all our power, energy, strength, and ability – The Lord Jesus Christ, who is the vine.  We are merely the branches, drawing life from the root of the plant.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Am I demonstrating the love of God to others, or am I adhering to the cultural norms?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You have demonstrated Your love for us, in that You sent Your One and only Son, Jesus Christ, to bear the punishment for our sins.  Help me this day, Father, to bear Your image properly.  Help me to see others as You see them, and to love others as You love them.  Show me how to shed the attitudes of culture so that I can embrace Your character instead.  Guard my heart against the desire to promote myself, and help me to promote Jesus instead.  Let my life be a testament to Your glory, grace, mercy, forgiveness, and the supernatural power that You have to free us from the bondage of sin.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?


This blog has been edited for spelling errors.