Devotional on James

Planning for tomorrow with an eye toward God

James 4: You don’t know the first thing about tomorrow.

James challenges Christians in how they talk about the future. He advises us to not state with an attitude of certainty what will happen tomorrow. Instead, we’re to be humble about it, saying things like, “If it’s the Lord’s will we’ll do this or that tomorrow.” Now, he’s not giving us some formula to say as much as he’s describing an attitude we’re to have. He’s opposed to Christians living self-willed, God-ignoring lives in which we imagine ourselves to be self-sufficient and operating independent of the Lord. He’s not against my making plans and having dreams. At the same time, he’s in favor of my planning and dreaming with an eye toward God. The Lord, himself is a planner, operating on a scale far beyond my comprehension. As an individual created in his image I too plan, thinking about a desirable future and working now to bring it to pass. However, unlike my Heavenly Father, my view is limited and because of that, my expectations are flawed. I remember that I’m to pray for my “daily bread” trusting the Lord to supply the need of the day. To plan for the future while ignoring God isn’t only foolish. According to James it “is evil.”

Take Away: Ultimately, my future – my life – is in God’s hands and not my own.

Devotional on Isaiah

Making God’s plan my plan
Isaiah 22: You looked and looked, but you never looked to him who gave you this city…who has long had plans for this city.
Disaster’s coming and Isaiah speaks of it as though it’s already happened, in what’s called “prophetic perfect tense.” He describes the preparation for battle: weapons, fortifications, even the securing of the water supply. It seems they’ve done all they can do. However, they’ve totally missed it. In all their plans they’ve failed to look to the One who has plans of his own for their city. Isaiah says that God’s plan includes their repenting of the sins that brought them to all this in the first place. Instead, they make their own plans and then throw parties, saying, “Eat and drink now, for tomorrow we may die.” This refusal to acknowledge God and, instead, to rely on themselves is going to cost them everything. The truth is that we ought to identify with all this, possibly as a nation, but definitely as individuals. God has plans for you and me and his good will to us has been abundantly demonstrated. With that in mind my life should be focused on him. Instead, I tend to do things my own way and then, once in a while (especially when things get difficult) I pause to look to God and ask him to help me do what I’ve decided to do. That isn’t the way it’s supposed to be. It isn’t that I’m to never have a thought of my own, but it is that I’m to live in partnership with the Lord. Instead, I tend to “look and look” but never look “to him who gave” me life in the first place; to him “who has long had plans” for my life. When I fail to look to him it’s a recipe for disaster.
Take Away: Failing to look to the Lord is a recipe for disaster.