James 4:13-15 (13) “Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain:”
(14) “Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.”
(15) “For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.”
This devotion is titled “2017?” The question mark is the primary focus of this devotion because as the text says, “Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow.” Therefore, working from this fact, should not all of us be careful not to fall in the deception of the flesh that says, ‘Do what you please, when you please, and how you please to do it’? The truth that all humans must face is that they really are not in control of tomorrow in any area of life.
The problem is that many people cannot admit that God is in control of “tomorrow,” and has already ordained all of our “tomorrows” according to His Plan and Purpose (Prov. 19:21; Job 14:5; 23:13-14). Only God, the Creator of all things, animate and inanimate, is the Controller and Consummator of His creation. This being truth; then, all humans should say, “For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.” The sad commentary on this is that most people of today’s world do not live their daily lives with this understanding; much less do you find many Christians seeking God for His will in their daily activities.
However, the band-aid of merely acknowledging the existence of God is not going to solve the problem. The problem will be solved only by an internal conversion in the heart by the Holy Spirit of God in regeneration; and not in a mere external acknowledgment in the existence of God. The Bible relates the depth of the problem is man is born “dead in trespasses and sin” (Eph. 2:1); therefore, he has no ability to perceive spiritual matters (1 Cor. 2:10-16), or to rely upon the promises of God. Until man’s resistance to the wisdom and guidance of God in His Purpose is brought to submission to the preeminence of God in his spirit; man will continue to rely upon his own intellect and strength to map out his supposed and desired destiny.
Where we all should be, and where we all must be, as children of God, is where the Apostle James wrote in (Jas. 4:15), “For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.” The Apostle Paul relates to us in (Phil. 2:13) the reason we should do as James said above, “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” Therefore, look to God to know what, when, where, and how of our daily activities since it is God and Him alone that is working in us according to “His good pleasure.”
Now that the key has been established for the children of God to be in submission to the Plan and Purpose of God for 2017; what is next?
What is next is not only admitting that God is Sovereign and has a Plan and Purpose for each person, and mentally submitting to this truth; but the actual walking daily in the rest and peace of the Purpose of God; and resting in God’s Power to perform His Promises for you in His Purpose for you. This submission and rest is called “Obedience.” The writer of Proverbs gives us the key to obeying God’s will in (Prov. 3:5-6) “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. (6) In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” Sometimes, people who acknowledge the Sovereignty of God in their daily steps, have a tendency to shy away from personal responsibility to submit to and to obey the commands of God. An example of this is in the area of prayer. What many say is, ‘Well, if God is in control of my every step, then why pray?’ The answer to such absurdity is, Because God has commanded us to pray. The truth is, prayer honors God; brings humility to the one praying; gives guidance to the one praying; and proves God’s Promise to answer prayer when the one praying, prays according to His will (1 Jn 5:14-15). God has ordained the avenue of prayer as a means of supply to the one praying.
Some even say, ‘Well, I am saved and that is all that is needed.’ This is also the statement of either one who really has not been regenerated by the Holy Spirit, but claims they have been; or is indicative of a child of God that is feeding on milk, and not the meat of the Word. But either way, notice (John 14:15) “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” Obviously, the “keeping” of God’s commandments is not the requirement to receive regeneration by the Spirit of God; but, rather, is the “result,” or proof, of regeneration by the Spirit of God. Therefore, if God has shed abroad His love in the heart of a person; then, his desire, his motive, his entire being will be to honor God as is evidenced in what he seeks daily and to where his affections lie: (Col. 3:1-4); for now he is a “new creature,” and he wills to please Christ and not the old man; and his old way of life is no longer in control of his actions (2 Cor. 5:17); for now he is controlled by the will of the “New Man” (Eph. 4:22-24).
In conclusion, your 2017 is in the hands of God. But, God’s ordained means of carrying out His Plan and Purpose for you as a child of God is for His children to surrender to Him as Sovereign; and to submit to His Will; and to obey His Word; and to endure in the same. These four things are accomplished in the believer’s life as he completely relies upon God; God’s Word; and God’s Purpose and Power to carry out His Will and Plan for the believer. The path for the believer to rely upon God is through:
- daily prayer to God trusting, and acknowledging Him as Our Sovereign God (Prov. 3:5-6);
- his confession of his faults and failures and sins to God (1 John 1:9);
- the realization that his sufficiency is not within himself; but in God alone (2 Cor. 12:9);
- walking by faith or (by Christ, Who is The Faith) (Phil. 4:13);
- resting in all the “Promises of God” (Isa. 43:1-7).
The theme that many people say to others at this time of the year is, ‘Happy New Year.’ The truth of the matter is that the only true and lasting happiness of the children of God on their earthly journey in 2017 is found in (Josh. 1:7-8). My salutation to the reader is, ‘Happy 2017 in Christ.’ It is only the ones who mediate in the Word of God and obey Christ’s commandments that will have “success” in 2017; that is not so much in the area of ‘material gain,’ but, in the area of spiritual growth in Christ, which growth gives the obedient believer peace, rest, power and joy of the Holy Spirit. If you will follow the above, 2017 will be the greatest year of your life thus far.