Make a Good Plan that Honors God

Jun 20, 2024

Are you a planner?

I've learned that in most couples, there's usually a planner and a non-planner. The planner is the one who organizes the vacation. They get the tickets, make the reservations, research things to do in the area, and set the itinerary for the week. They'll plan the whole thing, and then the night before the trip, the non-planner will say, "And where are we going tomorrow?" That's usually how it works.

What's interesting is that God is a planner. You see that God had a plan when you read Genesis 1-3. Each day, He created something specific, and there was an order in His plan. When Adam and Eve sinned, God wasn't surprised. He knew it was coming, and He already had a plan for our salvation: His Son, Jesus.

We see other men in the Bible who followed a plan. Moses followed God's plan to set His people free from slavery in Egypt. Nehemiah followed a strategic plan to rebuild the wall. Jesus's entire ministry was part of a plan. He identified 12 men and intentionally developed them so that they would carry on His mission after His resurrection.

The Bible teaches us that planning for the future is a good thing. Luke 14:28 says, "Suppose one of you wants to build a tower, won't you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it?" Proverbs 15:22 says, "Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisors they succeed." 

In James chapter 4, we read what appears to be, at first glance, a good plan.

"13 Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit"— 14 yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. 15 Instead you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that." 16 As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. 17 So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin." (James 4:13-17)

This passage seems to have all the necessary components of a good plan, right? He talks about when they'll go and where - today or tomorrow to a specific town. How long they'll be there - a year. What they're going to do while they're there – trade. And why they're going – to make a profit. As a planner myself, I think this sounds like a great plan. So, what's the problem? The problem is, where's God? He's missing from this plan. A good plan honors God.

Here are Three Keys to Making a Good Plan that will Honor God:

The First Key to Making a Good Plan is Committing to Total Dependence on God.
Many people decide on a career path based on how much money they will make. Of course, you want to consider the pay, but it shouldn't be your first question. The first question is, "Does God want me to take this job?" Prayerfully determining if God is leading you in that direction is the only thing that matters. If the pay is less, so be it. I want to do what God is leading me to do.

In verse 15, James says, "Instead, you ought to say, if the Lord wills, we will live, and we will do this or that."

If you're going to make a plan that honors God, your attitude has to be "if the Lord wills." As faithful followers of Jesus, we need to make sure that we insert that phrase into our plans. "If the Lord wills" must become a regular part of our vocabulary. Do your words reflect a dependence on God, or do your words reflect a dependence on your own strategy?

The Second Key to Making a Good Plan is Maintaining a Humble Attitude.
When you make a plan without seeking God, you're arrogant. You're boasting in your own knowledge, and James says that's evil. To make a plan that honors God, we must maintain a humble attitude. When we're not humble, we think we don't need God. We believe we can do it in our own strength. But when you surrender your plan to God, you're saying, "Your will be done." 

The key to remaining humble is to be flexible. Being flexible is a small thing, but it's actually a huge attitude adjustment for most of us. It's a flexible plan that requires faith. A consistent relationship with Christ, trusting Him through each step of the journey. God is in control, and He might change things. When He does, we've got to adjust and trust. Of course, strategy and planning are required but at the same time we must be flexible and wait on God's timing.

So, how do you respond when things don't go according to your plan? Most of us would answer one of two ways. We either get discouraged and give up or we try to control the situation. We must understand that many of the detours in life are actually brought on by God to grow and mature us. When we fight against the detours, we're fighting the will of God. We've got to be flexible so that the Lord can teach us what He wants us to learn. When you are humble, you can then be flexible.

In verse 14, we find another reason why it's so important to be flexible."You do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes." The original Greek word for mist here is the word "atmis." It's where we get our word "atmosphere." Life is like a vapor. It's a breath, a puff of smoke. We shouldn't assume that we have a lot of time left.

It reminds me of the parable of the rich fool in Luke 12. He had so much wealth that he didn't know what to do with it all. Instead of being generous to people, he built bigger barns to store his crops. Verse 19 says, "But God said to him, "Fool, this night your soul is required of you and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?" Jesus was teaching that we must be generous today because life is unpredictable. Our time is short so we can’t put off things that we know we're supposed to do today.

The Third Key to Making a Good Plan is to Execute the Next Step of Faith.
Verse 17 says, "Whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it for him, it is sin."

It's natural to want to know the whole plan, but it doesn't work that way. You don't need to know all the steps. You just need to execute the next step that you know to take. Each time you do, you'll see more of the plan unfold before you. When you know God is leading you to do something and you don't do it, James says it's sin. So whatever God has put on your heart to do, get after it today. Stop waiting around. Pray, be flexible, abide in Christ as you plan, but get after it. Don't wait for the perfect scenario because it will never be perfect timing.

Proverbs 3:27 says, "Do not withhold good from those who deserve it. When it is in your power to act, do not say to your neighbor, 'Come back later, I'll give it tomorrow,' when you have it now with you."

The key to executing the next step is to be faithful now. In the Parable of the Talents, Jesus tells the story of a master who gave one talent to one man, five to another, and ten to another. He returned sometime later to find that the first two men had doubled their money, but the third man had buried his. The master calls him a wicked servant. Why? Because he did nothing with the money that his master had given him.

You see, it is a sin when you do nothing for God with your money and talents. So, whatever you intend to do for the Lord, do it now. Stop waiting. If you have the power to help someone, do it today. If you need to give your life to Jesus, if you need to get baptized, if you need to start serving, do it now. Be faithful to what God is calling you to do. If it's witnessing to a friend and inviting them to church, do it today. If it's teaching a class, getting involved in a Bible study, or starting to give and be generous to God's church, don't put it off. Don't wait until tomorrow. Tomorrow may not come. Don't wait until you feel like it. You're never going to feel like it. Execute the next step by being faithful now.

To make a good plan that honors God requires total dependence on Him. The key is to acknowledge Him and maintain a humble attitude. That means being flexible because God's going to adjust the plan. He's going to throw some detours along the way. As we continue to submit to Him, we've got to execute the next step of faith by being obedient to what He's calling each of us to do right here, right now. When you do your part and patiently wait for God to do His part, He will respond in His time. He is always on time. He's never late. He's never early. He always comes through at just the right time.

MAKE TODAY COUNT

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