As our attention turns to the upcoming New Year, the subject of planning takes center stage. Many people will be acquiring New Calendars or making plans as to what goals they want to achieve. Oftentimes discussions of such activities will include the vowing of New Years' resolutions. It is important to understand what is entailed in good planning - and more specifically - God-centered planning.
1. What God-centered planning requires (and why we fail) 4:1-5
The Bible testifies that there are at least three elements in godly planning. First, prioritization. Matthew 6:33 notes - "But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you." The second element in godly planning entails prayer as seen in Philippians 4:6-7 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." So, in addition to prioritization and prayer, we find a third element for making godly plans, namely passion, as seen in Proverbs 16:3,7 - 3. "Commit your works to the Lord and your plans will be established" ; 7. "When a man’s ways are pleasing to the Lord,
He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him."
2. Who planning requires (and how you can succeed)
All efforts of planning aim at success. However, when it comes to a Biblically defined sucess, by what do we mean? Success is more so focused on Jesus and faithfulness to His word than pleasing people and controlling outcomes (compare Joshua 1:8; Psalm 118:8; Luke 24:34; 1 Corinthians 4:1-6). In worldly conceptions of success, the first two parts of this definition are absent - with success only concerned with pleasing people or trying to control outcomes. Certainly if our planning can include making people happy or producing given results - all the merrier. However, such aims are not the main definition of success in scriptural terms. There will be those times when we find that unpredicable variables enter into our lives for which we had no control. Furthermore, there may be those times when we attempt to center our plans on God, either someone will be displeased or we ourselves may find it difficult to remain happy! Apart from Jesus Christ, it is impossible to make God-centered plans in the manner we are talking about.
James' layout of the humility described in James 4:7-10 lines up remarkably with what Paul would later write in Philippians 2:1-11 concerning Christ-like humility. We won't take the time to expound on the scriptures associated with this point - but rather list them in summary and comparison to the highpoints of Jesus' own life, death, burial, resurrection and ascension:
3. How you live out Christ - centered planning (depending on Jesus) James 4:11-12 & 4:13-17
Today we looked at what is necessary for God-centered planning (and why we fail) as well as Who is required for such planning (and thus, how to succeed). Having considered these two points, how is it we can live out such planning. To put it another way - what areas require us to apply these truths?
Remember, Jesus lives in you believer, and you in Him. He did this already, and by His Spirit desires to live it through you. So we apply God-centered planning around our relationships, but notice a second area...
b. With your Time. James 4:13-16 was quoted at the beginning of today's post. We must understand that on the one hand, failure to plan is planning to fail. With that said, too often we presume and worry about tomorrow while ignoring the fact that God has given us "greater grace" for today (see James 4:6; Lamentations 3:23-27). When Jesus is at the center of our planning, how we steward our time will change. We won't presume, but operate in faith. That is, we won't live on the basis of our five senses only, but also with that sixth sense, faith (Colossians 3:1-3; 1 Corinthians 5:7).