James 4:13-16 NKJV
Acts 1:6-8 NKJV
Romans 8:28 NKJV
Life is full of twists and turns, ups and downs, and facing the unknown. I wasn’t a big fan of Algebra, and I think that’s because life is like algebra. Every problem has an unknown element. The biggest difference between life and algebra is that we can turn to God for the unknown elements in life.
In James 4:13-14 James wrote, “Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit”; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.”
There have been times earlier in my life when I had a plan for my life. It was a good plan. It was well thought out. It was viable…but it never came to pass.
That’s because it wasn’t part of God’s plan for my life.
My plan didn’t include sorrow and grief. It was all sunshine and roses.
Looking back over my life, the truth is that my greatest sorrow produced a rich harvest of growth. God knew that sorrow was needed.
I think the same was true of the early disciples, Their intention was to tell others about Jesus and build the church for Jesus. I don’t know for sure, but the trials and tribulations they experienced in the second half of the first century would not have been written into their plan. After the resurrection Jesus appeared to them and in Acts 1:6-8 we read, “Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” And He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
Jesus told them they would scatter “to the end of the earth”. I believe they accepted that and understood it, but I’m not sure they fully understood the cause of the scattering (the diaspora).
I’m pretty sure they didn’t expect Nero to come to power and go crazy martyring Christians.
I’m pretty sure they didn’t expect that all of the twelve disciples except one would scatter or be martyred. The eleven who died at the hands of the Romans did not include Judas. It did include the Apostle Paul who many believe took the place of Judas. Biblical historians believe that the only disciple who died of natural causes was John. John had been exiled to the Island of Patmos there he received the “Revelation”. John was the youngest disciple and many believe he lived until the end of the first century.
The disciples didn’t expect their scattering would be caused by mass killings of the followers of Jesus. Certainly, Nero thought that his efforts would end the people of the Way (Christians) forever.
But it didn’t.
It actually had the opposite effect.
People scattered and when they did, they took the message about Jesus’ love with them.
A very bad thing brought about a very good thing. I know I quote it often, but Romans 8:28 says, “all things work together for good.”
The scattering wasn’t what the disciples planned, but it was what was needed.
Likewise, I can’t say my most horrible moments were part of my plan. But years later I can say that God was with me. God brought great good from the bad.
I can say God has never failed me.
I can say that I’m stronger for having gone through the fire.
I can say that God prepared me for what was ahead.
So, in James 4:15-16, when we read, “Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.” But now you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.”
James was telling the Jews living outside Jerusalem not to hold onto their plans as if they were set in stone. He was warning them that God may have other plans for them…better plans.
In the last sentence in verse 16 he reminded them WE are not God. In our arrogance, we should not think we possess the power of God. He also reminded them that kind of boasting is evil. That’s exactly what Lucifer thought, and we know by Isaiah 14:12-17 what became of him.
The same is true of us. We need to hold our plans loosely.
We need to let God be God.
After all, it was God who created all we see.
Today’s Spiritual Practice is: give your plans to God.
Practice giving your dreams and plans to God and leave them with Him.
In God, Deborah