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  • Writer's pictureDoug Lee

James 4:13-17 - Making Plans

Updated: May 13

How do our own preparations fit within God's sovereign plan?

This is the fifteenth of an 18-part devotional series. Sign-up here to have these devotionals sent straight to your inbox.

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”—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. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.”As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.

James 4:13-17


Everyone in government service has been part of organizational planning. A new President can deliver an executive order, a boss may pull together a team to create a new strategic plan, or she may ask you what your goals are for the year.

I think we can safely say that making plans is part of everyday life! In fact, our days would be quite chaotic without plans. Gas would never get into our cars, kids would not get to school, food would not be prepared, and money would not be earned.

These verses proclaim several key points to remember as we make our personal and corporate plans.

First, our lives are as a “mist” and we are not quite as independent or powerful as we might think. None of us knows what tomorrow might bring and whether or not our plans will come to pass.

Second, we should approach planning with humility. As one lexicon suggests, the word “boasting” means an impious and empty presumption which trusts in the stability of earthly things.

Third, we understand that we live our lives under the generosity of the Sovereign God whose interest in our plans is far more significant than we may realize. A parallel verse is Proverbs 16: 9,

In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.

Many a plan has been interrupted when God stepped in to insert His plan instead!

So, whether we are making corporate or personal plans, we make our plans in accord with His Word and always with a mind to God’s sovereign designs. How encouraging to know God is interested in our plans, and that some of them even come to pass!

Chaplain (Brig. Gen.) Doug Lee, U.S. Army (Ret.) is the Chief Operations Officer of Ministry to State.


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