Sermon:  Planning for the Future

Summary:  In making plans and conducting our activities, we need to recognize and 
consider the foolishness of counting on tomorrow as a guarantee and the frailty of 
our life on earth.  Our first action in making any plan is to consider the word of 
God above all else before going forward with it.  We need to avoid making our own 
plans and then asking God to bless it, but instead to begin with asking what God's 
will is.

Know:  All plans need to begin with the Lord's will acceptance of human frailty 

Feel:  Dependent on God for his counsel in making any sort of plans

Do:  Consider the typical way you make plans and identify how this reveals your 
view on life, yourself, scripture, and God.  Compare all of this to what the text 
says.  After listing personal difficulties and in doing what this passage instructs, 
formulate a plan that will help to overcome these difficulties so that you can put 
these instructions into practice

Text:  James 4:13-17

Scripture Reading:  Prov 3:5-7

1.  What have been some of the biggest decisions you have faced?
	a.  Ready to have another child?  Adopt?
	b.  New job, new house, new car?
	c.  What college or school to go to?
	d.  Maybe there is some other decision you are facing right now
2.  Making decisions in life is inescapable
	a.  What do you do when you are faced with a decision?
	b.  How do you determine what you are going to do?
	c.  Do you weigh pros and cons?  Do you seek advice?  
	d.  Do you perform some kind of research?
3.  This morning's text is about making decisions (James 4:13-17)
	a.  Have you heard the phrase, "If it is the Lord's will?"
	b.  What do people usually mean when they say this?
		- When something doesn't happen the way we want
		- When we pray, accepting God's will, say his will be done
	c.  This is all true, but not what the text is talking about
4.  This text is about making plans and decisions
	a.  Who is James addressing?
		- Those who are making plans of some sort
		- Those who are planning on having results
		-  We all do that, what could be wrong with this?
	b.  Remember the context of James
		- Not about profession of faith, but demonstration of it, being "doers
		- In chapter 4, said friendship with world is hostility toward God
		- Also says that God is opposed to proud, gives grace to humble
		- This text still talking about pride and friendship with the world
	c.  Text tells us that true faith considers God's will in making plans
		- We shouldn't speak in the manner of verse 13
		- There are certain things we need to consider when making plans
	d.  The text tells us the things we should consider

I.  The foolishness of counting on tomorrow
	A.  Notice who the text is aimed at:  Come now you who say...
		1.  Can you say with 100% certainty what life will be like tomorrow? 
		2.  Point:  You do not know what is going to happen tomorrow
		3.  Yet many people boast about what they will do tomorrow 
	B.  The text says boasting about tomorrow is arrogant and sin
		1.  May seem pretty extreme
			a.  Verse 13 seems so ordinary, we all talk that way
			b.  Doesn't seem arrogant or prideful, just ordinary
			c.  That is the point - It forces us to face our pride
				- We act as if life is our right, it belongs to me
				- We speak as if our choice is the deciding factor
				- We think we have the sole ability to succeed 
			d.  We forget that without God, we are poor, helpless, blind
		2.  (Lk 12:16-20) - Jesus story about bigger barns
			a.  Man had all kinds of plans for the future
			b.  He counted on tomorrow, but tomorrow never came
		3.  We simply do not know what tomorrow will hold
	C.  ILL:  Reminds me
		1.  My uncle Paul
			a.  All his life, worked hard and long hours at his job
			b.  Finally was able to retire
			c.  Now he would enjoy life, but then he had a stroke
			d.  He is confined to a wheelchair and is helpless
		2.  Johnny and Karen in Alvord
			a.  His health went south shortly after retirement
			b.  Johnny was miserable, and died less than a year
			c.  Karen said, "This is not how we planned to spend our 
			     later years together"
		3.  The man I met in a wheelchair from motorcycle accident
			a.  Thought he could deal with it, until the pain came
			b.  Constant pain, nearly drove him crazy
			c.  It changed him deeply
			d.  Not able to do what he planned in life, pain
	D.  Life is full of unrealized dreams and unfinished projects
		1.  There is wisdom in planning for tomorrow
			a.  The book of proverbs uses the ant as an example
			b.  He plans for the winter
		2.  But it is foolishness to count on tomorrow
			a.  Life is a gift from God
			b.  Each day is a gift from God, not a right
			c.  We do not know if tomorrow will come
			d.  If it does come, we do no know what it will bring
		3.  That brings us to another consideration in making plans...

II.  The uncertainty of life
	A.  Not only is tomorrow uncertain, but your life is uncertain
	B.  Notice the question:  What is your life?
		1.  How would you answer that question?
		2.  James says you life is just a vapor
			a.  You have no permanent substance on this earth
			b.  You are not durable or invincible
			c.  Your body is fragile, aging, and will die
			d.  Death could come even today
		3.  ILL:  Have you ever looked at vapor?
			a.  Coming out of a teapot, it is there, then is gone
			b.  Or how about a spray bottle?  There, then gone
			c.  Do you think much about it?  Ponder it?
			d.  Vapor seems pretty insignificant
		4.  Why did God create you?  
			a.  Did he create you to go to such and such a city?
				- Is it to go an do business for a year?
				- Is it so what you can make a profit?
			b.  No, Jesus said life is more than clothing, the body is more 
			     than food, Mt 6:26
			c.  Life is not about making money, having a good job, 
			     house, car, and making a respectable living - that is vapor
	C.  ILL:  Was reminded that life is a vapor when trying to find the Star 
	     Community south of Oakdale
		1.  My great grandfather and great great grandfather lived there
		2.  At the center of the community was the Star Church
		3.  The Telgren farm, the church building, the community - GONE
		4.  All of it is nearly forgotten
			a.  A couple of houses that were falling in
			b.  Telgren farm is just a pivot point
			c.  Imagine all the work, effort, the plans, the dreams
			d.  What is left?  Not a whole lot - Life is a vapor
	D.  Why did God create you? 
		1.  Not to go to such and such a place and conduct business
		2.  Not to go and make a profit and have a good return
		3.  There is more to life than this
		4.  Isaiah 43:7 - God created you for his glory...

III.  God's Will
	A.  This should be the number one consideration in making plans
	B.  The problem in verse 13 - God is not in it
		1.  "We" shall go, "We" shall stay, "We" shall make a profit  
			a.  All about what "we" plan to do
			b.  There is no mention of God in it
		2.  "We" are just a vapor, but God is not (Isa 40:6-8)
			a.  All flesh is grass, or flowers - They don't stay alive forever
			b.  But God's word does stand forever
			c.  This is why we need to consider God's word and will
		3.  When you do not consider God's will bad things could happen
			a.  Joshua 9 - Israel and the Gibeonites
				- Gibeonites pretended to be travelers from far away
				- In reality, they were Canaanites, to be driven out
				- Josh 9:14 - Without asking God, made a covenant
				- They were supposed to have driven them out!
			b.  1 Sam 13:8 - Saul offered sacrifices
				- He was NOT to offer the sacrifices
				- Took matters in his own hand when Samuel was late
				- 1 Sam 13:13 - Did not keep God's command, his 
				   kingdom would not endure because of it
			c.  1 Chr 15:13 - The way David transported the Ark
				- The first time, the result was disastrous, Uzzah died
				- David said it was because they did not seek the Lord 
				  according to his ordinance
			d.  Each of these cases, it was about what "We" will do
				- There was no saying, "If the Lord wills..."
				- There was no seeking after God's will
				- It was simply, "This is what I am going to do"
		4.  It should be, "Whatever the Lord wills"
			a.  (Prov 3:5-7) - Look at what this says
				- In all your ways/activities/plans - acknowledge Him
				- Don't be wise in your own eyes - Consult God's will
				- You are not a know it all, but God does know all
				- If you do this, he will make your paths straight
			b.  (Prov 19:21) - Consider this one carefully
				- Many plans in our heart - What plans do you have?
				- But it is the counsel/instruction that will stand
				- In other words - Consider God's counsel/instruction
				- If do, you life wont be forgotten dilapidated house
			c.  Start with Lord's will, not your will and ask God to bless it
				- Often times we simply decide what to do
				- Then, we ask God to bless what we have decided
				- Instead, we should begin by asking what God wants 
				   us to do
	C.  ILL:  During the US civil war Abraham Lincoln met with a group of 
	      ministers for a prayer breakfast. 
		1.  Lincoln was a man of deep, if at times unorthodox, faith. 
		2.  A minister said, "Mr. President, let us pray God is on our side"
		3.  His reply, "No, gentlemen, let us pray we are on God's side."
		4.  Do you see the difference?
	D.  Whenever we plan, we begin with the Lord's will
		1.  Planning for College, Marriage, Children, a Trip
		2.  What to wear, what to do, what projects to take on
		3.  Always begin with, "If the Lord wills, this is what I will do"

1.  What plans do you have in your life right now?
	a.  A hunting trip, a vacation, college, girlfriend, boyfriend, new job, home
	b.  Maybe it is entertainment, what to wear, going to an event
2.  Will you begin with these considerations in making plans?
	a.  The foolishness of counting on tomorrow
		- We don't know what tomorrow will hold
		- I knew a man who decided to be baptized, but he was going to 
		  wait a week
		- Before the week was over, he was killed in a car accident
		- He waited too long -- Don't count on tomorrow (inv)
	b.  The frailty of life
		- What is our life?  A vapor
		- Here just a little while and then is gone
		- On earth, we are not invincible and we do not stay here forever
	c. Therefore, we need to consider God's will first and foremost
		- All flesh is grass, but the word of the Lord stands forever
		- Therefore we need to stand on his word, do his will
3.  How do you consult his will?
	a.  Live in the Word - Unlike everything else, it stands forever
	b.  Pray in the Word - We need to take our concerns to God
	c.  Seek "godly" counsel (Prov 15:22)
		- Older, godly, wise people
		- Not worldly young people who think they know it all
4.  As you make plans this week - Remember - "If the Lord Wills, this is what I will do"


Small Group Questions:  Planning for the Future

Summary:  In making plans and conducting our activities, we need to recognize and consider 
the foolishness of counting on tomorrow as a guarantee and the frailty of our life on earth.  
Our first action in making any plan is to consider the word of God above all else before 
going forward with it.  We need to avoid making our own plans and then asking God to bless 
it, but instead to begin with asking what God's will is.

Open: (choose one)
- What place in the world would you like to plan on going to?
- What are one of your wishes for the future?

Explore:  James 4:13-17

1.  Describe the type of people this passage is apparently addressed to.

2.  Discuss the types of planning and areas of life that this text mentions.   

3.  What are the possible pitfalls of planning out our lives according to this passage?

4.  Describe the attitudes, outlook, and considerations this passage instructs Christians to have.


5.  What is typically the first consideration when you make purchasing, income, or other money 
related plans?

6.  On a scale of 1 (never) to 10 (always), how often do you pray about your plans before making 

7.  Compare your responses to what the text says.  What are some possible reasons you don't pray, 
reflect on God's will, think of scripture to guide you, etc. etc. etc. in making future plans?  

8.  What are some ways you can consider the Lord's will in making future plans?