Today’s Reading: James 4:13 – 5:6
It is good that we are starting out our morning in God’s presence, inviting Him into our day, because He is the only one with THE PERFECT PLAN for us today – the plan that offers us prosperity, hope and a future. Let’s start our day by submitting to God and whatever plan He has for us. Let’s draw near to Him so that He has our full attention.
Listen here, you who say “Today or tomorrow we are going to a certain town and will stay there a year. We will do business there and make a profit.” How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog – it’s here a little while, then it’s gone. What you ought to say is, “If the Lord wants us to, we will live and do this or that.” Otherwise, you are boasting about your own plans, and all such boasting is evil. – James 4:13-16 (NLT)
I am a planner. I like it when my life is rolling out just the way I expect it to. I feel most comfortable when I feel like I am in control of my circumstances. I desire for God to be in control of my life, but I want the result of that control to look just like I expected it to – MY PERFECT PLAN. Yet, in those moments when the future seems uncertain or scary, I am comforted by these Scriptures:
“I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11
Your eyes saw me when I was formless; all my days were written in Your book before a single one of them began. – Psalm 139:16
We are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. – Ephesians 2:10
From one man He has made every nationality to live over the whole earth and has determined their appointed times and the boundaries of where they live. He did this so they might seek God, and perhaps they might reach out and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us. For in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, “For we are also His offspring.” – Acts 17:26-28
I am guilty of laying out my plans before God and defending their value. But sometimes God has a different plan. He has “appointed times” and boundaries for me. My faith has been put to test over the years and I have had to make a conscious decision to submit to God’s plan. On the other side of those decisions, I have to say there is no better place to be than in the center of God’s will – right where He wants me to be. And He continues to challenge me today. Am I starting to lay down my own plans for today or will I trust Him and seek His will for how He wants to use me today or tomorrow or the next day. In submission, I need to draw near to Him, staying focused on Him, asking for wisdom, and seeking Him.
Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it. – James 4:17 (NLT)
I can’t ignore this verse – If there is good that God has asked me to do and I choose not to do it, I am sinning. I can avoid God today so that I don’t have to take the chance that He will ask me to do something I don’t want to do OR I can submit and draw near to God. This is the great part – If I draw near to Him, He will draw near to me. Oh, how I love to be in God’s presence! It’s worth the risk.
Just like I cannot hang onto my own PLANS, there is danger in holding onto my own POSSESSIONS:
Look here, you rich people: Weep and groan with anguish because of all the terrible troubles ahead of you. Your wealth is rotting away, and your fine clothes are moth-eaten rags. Your gold and silver are corroded. The very wealth you were counting on will eat away your flesh like fire. This corroded treasure you have hoarded will testify against you on the day of judgment. For listen! Hear the cries of the field workers whom you have cheated of their pay. The cries of those who harvest your fields have reached the ears of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.
You have spent your years on earth in luxury, satisfying your every desire. You have fattened yourselves for the day of slaughter. You have condemned and killed innocent people, who do not resist you. – James 5:1-6 (NLT)
There are two issues to consider in this passage. First is the issue of hanging on to our worldly possessions when there are those around us who are in need. Remember back in chapter 2, when we discussed faith without deeds in reference to the physical needs of our brothers and sisters – what good is our faith if we do nothing about the needs of those around us? We are often guilty of doing unnecessary spending when the basic needs of others are not being met, yet we claim to understand what it means to “love your neighbor as yourself.”
There’s a second issue here that I think we can miss if we read it too quickly – owing someone else. We may immediately discount this section because in our own minds we would never cheat anyone of what we owe them. So let’s consider this – how often does our desire for more than we can afford lead us into a situation of going into debt instead of waiting until the money is there?
This is the ultimate danger – GREED. As Americans, we hope to be prosperous, we crave more stuff, and we love buying something new. Our closets and cabinets and garages stack up with items we never use but we continue to buy more and more stuff until there’s not enough room to store it all – so we move to a bigger house. If you could see my overstuffed closet you would know I am speaking to myself.
Lord, please reveal to me the ways in which I am holding on to earthly possessions instead of clinging to you. Lord, reveal to me any ways in which I am withholding something from someone – something that rightfully belongs to them. Redefine “luxury” to mean that YOU are satisfying every God-given desire in my life. I long to count on nothing but YOU. Amen.