Plans for the future. It is all about understanding God is the director of your life. It’s all about getting it straight what is important.
Aren’t you glad God has not revealed to us the details of our time on this earth. READ James 1:14. Life is short. Life is uncertain. Boom. In an instant the world changes. One of the great satisfactions of life is to live God’s unfolding plan. God writes the most amazing story you will ever read. (God bless the Hammond family who join us today as they eagerly await the turning of a page to begin a new chapter.) Sometimes I joke about me being the most entertained person on the planet as I go through my day. I love Disney’s Jungle Book. Mowgli, raised by wolves, sets about to return to the man village; the story line is the journey as he meets one character after another, some dangerous like Kaa the snake, King Louie the Orangutan, Shere Khan the tiger, and others are friends like Baloo the bear, Bagheera he panther, Major Hathi the elephant. Mowgli has a goal, whether he makes it is uncertain; the path is filled with fears and joys along the way. Sounds like my life. I hope all of you are amazed by your life and God’s unfolding story.
We don’t know the future…but God knows. That is the best news of all.
“NOW LISTEN” the scripture begins. James is taking on the mantle of the Old Testament prophet. “Pay attention, this is important.” Get this right and you will draw closer to God. Keep presumptuously making plans without consideration for God, keep boasting about how brilliant and confident you are in controlling your future, keep on being lazy and not doing what you know is right, and you will distance yourself from God. The goal of James is to help us be disciples of Jesus, patterning our life after him, and trusting him to guide us. This book is a survival manual to find freedom in Christ. We’ve talked about controlling our tongues, facing trials, humility, not showing favorites, and many other wise practices to follow God with a whole heart. Today: How to make godly plans for the future. The Jester is right: Don’t trifle with things of eternity!
The Sin of Presumption: READ James 4:13-14 i.e. keep a healthy perspective….the example in James is given in business, but it could be anything. Make plans for a vacation but understand anything could happen and your plans will change. It’s up to God. Facebook has an annoying device in which several times a week they resurrect something I posted a few years ago and ask if I want to share it with the world again. Back in 2010, apparently I was impressed with something Connie DeBoer told me. Connie found helpful a saying she heard, “Make your plans in pencil. God holds the eraser.”
What an awesome way to think about our plans for the future. Rather than being presumptuous, leaving God out of the equation, make plans in pencil. God may change them. A young couple dreams of the child that will soon be theirs. When the child is born he has Down’s Syndrome. Nobody would have that as a dream, but how many faithful couples have found their child with Down’s syndrome to be the greatest blessing of all. When Horace and Mari Stokes first arrived in Sumas for the border patrol 50-60 years ago (?) Horace said he looked around and hoped the stay would be short… Make your plans in pencil. God holds the eraser. Surely God has a sense of humor as he directs your life in unexpected twists!
People that are presumptuous squeeze God out. When plans go askew how easy depression sets in, or the inner control freak comes out, or maybe you get a headache, or bitterness surfaces, even illness. One thing is certain, sooner or later problems will derail our plans. How much better to see God with an eraser in his hand; He is the author.
Life is short it says in James 4:14…life is uncertain… I can truly say that if I do not make it through this day for some unknown reason, do not feel bad for me, I have had more than a full life and everyday is grace. As far as I know I will make it through this day, I will sleep tonight, and I will wake up tomorrow, but that’s my plan written in pencil. God can change it in the blink of an eye. Do not be presumptuous making assumptions about your plans working out exactly as you imagine.
Arrogance is sin: READ James 4:16. Pride is self centered. In 1899, Charles H. Duell, Commissioner in the U.S. Office of Patents said, "Everything that can be invented has been invented." Since then, the world has witnessed airplanes, cars, space travel, plastic, computers, cell phones…
Boasting is a set up for a great fall. Look at me. Look what I have accomplished. In a pond on a farm were two ducks and a frog... these neighbors were the best of friends, all day long they played together. As the hot Summer days came, the pond began to dry up & soon there was such a little bit of water that they realized that they would have to move. Now the ducks could easily fly to another place, but what about their friend the frog? I have an idea said one of the ducks…. it was decided that they would put a stick in the bill of each duck, & then the frog would hang onto the stick with his mouth & they would fly him to another pond.... So Off They Went.
As they were flying, a farmer out in his field looked up & saw them & said... "Well, isn't that a clever idea! I wonder who thought of that?"
The Frog Said."I Diiiiiiiiiddddddddddd......." Splatt. Boasting always leads to splatting.
Prov. 29:23: A Man's Pride Shall Bring Him Low: But Honor Shall Uphold The Humble In Spirit.
Boasting is sin because it puts the focus on me instead of God; we are not capable of controlling our own destiny, we cannot make fool proof plans. Eventually we open our big mouth and tumble down to the ground. Splatt.
One more sin. The Sin of Omission: READ James 4:17. the sin of omission is perhaps the greatest sin of the Christian world today. Maybe it is fear that keeps us boldly walking in God’s path for us. Maybe we confused. When I was a kid, for a short time, it was popular to carry in your pocket a particular wooden coin. Older people will probably remember this… (Hold one up and explain it is a ROUND TUIT). The idea is to motivate us to no longer procrastinate, because it is so easy to put off until I get around to it. So now I have one for everyone, a ROUND TUIT. No more excuses… were it so simple.
Procrastination is my sin,
It brings me naught but sorrow,
I know that I should stop it,
In fact, I will…..TOMORROW!
Sin is missing the mark by not only doing wrong which separates us from God, but also by failing to do that which is right. Most of the time we know what is right. We don’t need a divine commandment to be a responsible person, to fulfill our commitments, to be kind to another, to share the love of Christ. We know it is right to be a spiritual disciplined person, we know it is good and pleasing to God to serve in his name.
I am convinced following the way of God and doing his will is less about the activities we take on and more about the character of who we are as we serve in the name of Christ. I am doing God’s will by building others up whether it is the form of serving at the foodbank or being nice to the clerk in the grocery store line. I complicated the dentist two weeks ago when I went to the dentist instead of telling him I didn’t like to see him. Affirming one another is always God’s will. Being responsible. Thinking more of others and less of yourself. Listening for God’s voice through prayer, reading the Bible, fellowshipping with God’s people, worship are all in keeping with God’s will.
When we fail to do these things we are distancing ourselves from God himself. That is why not doing is sin.
Listen for the still small voice of God speaking to your heart, urging you to act on the convictions he has placed within you to make that bold decision, maybe it is to volunteer in a new ministry, or go in a different direction. Nobody but you knows you are holding back God’s clear conviction tugging on your heart, and by NOT acting, you sin against God and yourself missing the opportunity he lays before you.
The formula for making godly plans is found in James 4:15. READ. In other words: “Write Your Plans in Pencil, God holds the eraser.”
Christians from several centuries ago had a fascinating practice when they wrote a letter. 100-250 years ago, if you were to read a letters that Christians wrote you would notice a simple two letter postscript: D.V. These two letters stand for the Latin words, "Deo Volente," which means "God willing." D.V. I don’t care about literally continuing the same practice, but most definitely this summarizes the attitude we must strike whenever we make plans of any kind: God willing. There is humility knowing God holds the eraser. We are still called to be responsible and make the best plans we can, we must not make plans with presumption or pride, we must not put off doing that which God calls us to do in that wonderful Godly character.
Paul says the same thing in a slightly different way: “If the Lord will permit” (1 Cor. 16:7). The way you know God’s will for your life is to go ahead and make plans and as long as the door remains open, as long as there is no reason to adjust, then keep on keeping on. If God takes out his eraser and there is a change, perhaps a tragedy, a reason you cannot go on, that’s ok, because God is in control. Don’t open your mouth like the frog and brag about how awesome you are. Don’t be presumptuous assuming there will be no changes to your thoughts. But in humility be prepared for God to direct you.
Our planning and our future are not in our own hands, but in the hands of the Lord. We need a duel sensitivity to the world around us and to the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
Write your plans in pencil. God holds the eraser. Do not presume. Do not boast. Do not hold back. May this be the conviction of your heart: Deo Volente. God willing. Amen.