SCRIPTURE STUDY IN JAMES 4:13-17
First, I would suggest you have your Bible close by in this study, for I’m going to be addressing your FUTURE.
 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.”  As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil.  If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.
GOOD INTENTIONS [Additional Bible verses: 1 John 3:18; Colossians 3:1-25; Psalm 126:1-2; 1 Timothy 2:4;Psalm 119:105;2 Peter 1:20-21; Romans 13:1-7; John 7:16, 14:15].
Verse 13: “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.”
Most of us are interested in the future. We want to know what’s ahead of us down the road in our families, our job, our community, and yes, our church.
People have different ways of looking ahead. Would you believe that some use tea leaves, others use palm reading, others even use astrology? Those are a little more sophisticated. The real books like Megatrends and other things, trying to understand what the FUTURE holds are too numerous to name. So I want to look closely at what God has revealed in His Word.
In James Chapter 4, we read a story about a first-century wheeler-dealer, a boastful businessman, a man who was making plans for his future.
The man in the story, who in many respects, would be called a successful man in the first century or the 21st Century. But let me first give you a definition of failure I once read about years ago in a journal. It most likely will be a different definition than you’re used to:
“Failure is succeeding at the wrong thing”
Everyone in your community, your workplace, maybe calling your life a SUCCESS and you may secretly see yourself as an abysmal FAILURE.
This man in the story made three mistakes we should avoid.
First, beware of Self-centered Planning.
Listen to this man. Get inside of his head, if you can, on his planning for the future. He’s looking forward to a tremendous, successful, business endeavor. And first of all, he’s planning the period of time it will take. Look in verse 13: “a year…”
Now this man, in his thinking, says, “All right. Today, or tomorrow, I’m going to go to a city and I’m going to stay there a year.” So I don’t know about you, but I can see this man pulling out his calendar. He has his sharp pencil while he’s looking at these things. And so, he encircles this day and draws a line through this year and he says, “That’s where I’m going to invest my time this coming year.”
But he’s not finished yet!
He’s also PLANNING the place where he’s going to. Get out the travel brochures and the laptop!
Look again at verse 13:
“I will go into such a city…”
Now he has a ton of cities out there to choose from. But he’s looking at THIS city, the advantages here, the advantages there. He says, “That’s the city!” And so on Rand’s Road Map, he puts a circle around THIS city. Over here on the calendar, he has the DATE underlined.
So he has already planned the place, and he’s planned the time period. But not only that, he goes on to plan something else.
Planning the Procedure.
Now he’s going to BUY and SELL.
Evidently, he has some marketing plan up his sleeve. Maybe he has a degree in Marketing from the University of Jerusalem. And he says, “I can buy the product for this and I can sell it for that and I can make a tidy profit.”
So he has planned. He has planned the period, the place, and the procedure. He’s also planned the PROFIT: “…I will buy and sell and make a profit.” THAT’S IT!
It sounds good to me, It isn’t like he’s doing anything wrong. The Bible certainly doesn’t condemn business; it encourages it. The Bible doesn’t condemn planning or making a profit either. It encourages it. These things are not wrong.
So, what then is wrong with this man?
Well, he left God out of his plans altogether. He’s not consulting with God nor is he seeking God’s WILL in this.
This seemingly ‘self-made man’ is like so many today.
Your WORSHIP LIFE is one thing, your BUSINESS LIFE is another thing.
You’ve divided your life into the secular and the sacred. And so you come to church and worship, and then plan your life as if there were no God. Oh, you might run your plans by a family member, a close friend first before going ahead with your plan. You know, it’s good to get a second opinion. And the biggest fool isn’t the man who says there’s no God; the biggest fool is the man who says there’s a God and then doesn’t live like it!
Do you really take God into your planning?
The key to all of this is in VERSE 15:
Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”
He’d not said, “Lord, what is Your will?” He’s not seeking the will of God first. He’s not saying, “Oh God, show me Your will?” He says, “I’m going to do it this time. I’m going to do the procedure–I’m going to make this kind of money.”
How many times in my Christian life have failed to seek God’s will in my plans?
Have you ever asked God, “Lord, BLESS what I’m doing,” rather than, “Lord, help me to do what You’re blessing” to find really the will of God?
God wants to show you His will.
He wants to show you His will as you look toward your future. Here are a few encouraging Bible verses to meditate on.
PSALM 32, VERSE 8 – Here’s A PROMISE:
I [the Lord] will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you. [AMP]
By the way, to GUIDE with God’s eye means that you have a very close relationship with Him.
When my children were little and my wife and I both sang in the church choir, they would at times be cutting up. Nobody else would know it, but I’d look down and say from the choir loft, “You’re going to get it, right where you are!” And then go right on, just GUIDING with our eyes. There, and they’d straighten up.
That’s the kind of intimate relationship we need with the Lord.
JOHN 16, VERSE 13 –
Jesus gives the PROMISE with more specificity, speaking of the Holy Spirit:
“But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on His own; He will speak only what He hears, and He will tell you what is yet to come.” [NIV]
We have a heavenly GUIDE. He’s the Holy Spirit. He’s here to LEAD us.
One more verse, Romans 8, VERSE 14 –
For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. [AMP]
How wonderful it is to know that we’re sons and daughters of the King–God’s GUIDING us with His eye. How wonderful to hear His voice in a dark world, saying, “This is the way, walk in it.” How wonderful to be led by the Spirit of God.
God has a PLAN for every area of your life, no, just at your church.
Your education, your business, your marriage; God has a PLAN for your life.
DO YOU WANT IT?
[Continued in PART TWO]
PHOTOS/IMAGES: Google Image search.
Bible Translations: New International Version (NIV); Amplified Bible (AMP).
SOURCE: Topical Bible – What Does the Bible Say About Good Intentions.