As we get ready to enter a new year, do you have regrets about this past year? As Christians, we know we are not supposed to let the past haunt us, but what about the days ahead of us? Do you have anxieties about the coming year? When we look at the Word of God closely and rightly divide it, we see that there is a delicate balance between planning for the future and committing our ways to the Lord. Let’s look at what Scripture teaches us.
First, let’s look at the way we should not be:
Then He (Jesus) told them a story: “A rich man had a fertile farm that produced fine crops. He said to himself, ‘What should I do? I don’t have room for all my crops.’ Then he said, ‘I know! I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones. Then I’ll have room enough to store all my wheat and other goods. And I’ll sit back and say to myself, “My friend, you have enough stored away for years to come. Now take it easy! Eat, drink, and be merry!”’ “But God said to him, ‘You fool! You will die this very night. Then who will get everything you worked for?’ “Yes, a person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God.” (Luke 12:16-21 NLT)
Look 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 pretentious plans, and all such boasting is evil. Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it. (James 4:13-17 NLT)
“No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and be enslaved to money. That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to Him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, He will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith? So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs.” (Matthew 6:24-32 NLT)
Don’t brag about tomorrow, since you don’t know what the day will bring. (Proverbs 27:1 NLT)
But you (Belshazzar) have not honored the God who gives you the breath of life and controls your destiny! (Daniel 5:23b NLT)
Now let’s look at the verses that teach us how we should look at and handle the future:
“Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and He will give you everything you need. So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” (Matthew 6:33-34 NLT)
You can make many plans, but the Lord’s purpose will prevail. (Proverbs 19:21 NLT)
Let me hear of Your unfailing love each morning, for I am trusting you. Show me where to walk, for I give myself to You. (Psalms 143:8 NLT)
“But don’t begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first calculating the cost to see if there is enough money to finish it?” (Luke 14:28 NLT)
People may be pure in their own eyes, but the Lord examines their motives. Commit your actions to the Lord, and your plans will succeed. We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps. (Proverbs 16:2-3,9 NLT)
“For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so My ways are higher than your ways and My thoughts higher than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:9 NLT)
Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom. (Psalms 90:12 NLT)
For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven. (Ecclesiastes 3:1 NLT)
“Look, I am sending you out as sheep among wolves. So be as shrewd as snakes and harmless as doves.” (Matthew 10:16 NLT)
Even while we were with you, we gave you this command: “Those unwilling to work will not get to eat.” Yet we hear that some of you are living idle lives, refusing to work and meddling in other people’s business. We command such people and urge them in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and work to earn their own living. (2 Thessalonians 3:10-12 NLT)
These are the golden nuggets gleaned from the verses above:
1. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else.
2. The Lord’s purpose must prevail.
3. We must always pray, “Show us where to walk, when we give ourselves to You, oh Lord!”
4. Count the cost.
5. Commit our actions to the Lord.
6. Accept that God’s ways are higher than our ways.
7. Allow God to teach us wisdom by realizing the brevity of life.
8. Realize that for everything there is a season and a time for it.
9. Be as shrewd as serpents and harmless as doves.
10. Settle down and work to earn our own living.
11. Bigger barns are OK as long as we have a rich relationship with God that takes precedence.
12. We must always say, “If the Lord wants us to, we will live and do this or that”
When we do all the above, that is when we can rest upon the following verse:
May He grant your heart’s desires and make all your plans succeed. (Psalms 20:4 NLT)
So, in a nutshell, “What do we learn from all of this?” We learn that there is nothing wrong with making plans for the future. In fact, we are encouraged to do so in wisdom, but without worry. Even Paul made tentative plans as he wrote in his epistles and as it is recorded in the Book of Acts. But we are to do it in humility and submission to the Lord’s will. Even in the ‘Our Father’ it says, “May Your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.” When we boast of our plans and our purpose is to eat, drink, and be merry –> we are setting ourselves up for disaster!