Sermon Recap — March 26, 2023

Sermon Recap

If the Lord Wills

Jeremy Bell
James 4:13-17
March 26, 2023
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James 4:13–17 [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. (ESV)

Main Point: Live each day in humble dependence upon the Lord, eager to do His will.

Three reasons we should live each day in humble dependence:

I. You Don’t Know Tomorrow – (verses 13-14a)

  • The very fact that we don’t know tomorrow should humble us and drive us to the Lord, the One who is sovereign over all things.
  • The Lord is the One who holds all things together, so we remember Him as we make plans, as we look to the future.
  • To not look to Him, to not consider Him in our plans, is to be foolish and arrogant and presumptuous, James tells us.

“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” — Matthew 6:34

  • We don’t know what tomorrow may hold, but He does.
  • And whatever tomorrow holds, He promises to provide all that we need as we look to Him.
  • We can trust the Sovereign plans of our good God!

II. Life is Brief (verse 14b)

“So teach us to number our days, that we may get a heart of wisdom.” — Psalm 90:12

Numbering our days:
(A) Increases our thankfulness to God. Each day that we live and breathe and have our being is a gift from God to us.
(B) Reminds us that we serve an eternal God.
(C) Brings focus to our lives and what we’re living for.

Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.
And when I am dying, how happy I’ll be,
If the lamp of my life has been burned out for Thee. — CT Studd

III. God Is In Charge (verses 15-17)

Instead of making plans for our lives with no reference to God, we should say “if the Lord wills”
Saying if the Lord wills in our hearts is an acknowledgment (A) that we are not in control (B) that we are finite and (C) that God’s will for our lives may take a direction that we didn’t necessarily plan for.

“Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but Yours, be done.” — Luke 22:42


1. Actively, daily submit your heart and your plans to the Lord and His will.

O God of the open ear, teach me to live by prayer as well as by Providence, for myself, soul, body, children, family, church; Give me a heart frameable to Thy will, so might I live in prayer, and honor Thee… I can only succeed when I pray according to Thy precept and promise, and to be done as it pleases Thee, according to Thy sovereign will… Teach me that it is wisdom for me to pray for all I have…[and] that there is no wrath like the wrath of being governed by my own lusts for my own ends. — Valley Of Vision, Living by Prayer

2. Take great hope in God’s good character.

Questions for Discussion/Application

  • Re-read the text, James 4:13-17. What initial insights and observations do you have from reading this passage?
  • Is there a way to make plans for our lives in a self-sufficient, godless, proud way that neglects to take into account God’s sovereign right to overrule our plans? Explain.
  • What would you say to the person who said “God is sovereign, so I might as well not wisely plan?” How would you counsel them?
  • How do we hold in tension the biblical necessity of wise planning and yet make our plans in a way that trusts God if he decides to overrule our plans?
  • Counselor Mike Emlet writes, “God calls us to live not by our own power, nor by foolish presumption regarding His providence, but by a wise and balanced prudence. Make plans, but hold them loosely.” Summarize what Emlet is saying in your own words and how it applies to our own lives.
  • Consider taking time to pray, asking God to help each us to grow in the area of trusting God with the plans we make for our lives.
  • Recommended Article: Planning for the Future while Trusting God’s Provision 

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