Show Me The Way Finding God's Direction for Life's Agenda
Sermon Summary
This message takes up the very important subject of setting your life’s agenda which should impact your daily agenda! The book of James in the New Testament gives great insight concerning a person’s life. Pastor Larry looks at five verses and ask the following five questions: 1. Who’s in charge? 2. Why should it be God? 3. What should we say? 4. What’s the problem? 5. Why does it matter? If a person believes God has created them with a purpose in life, then it stands to reason this purpose should effect what goes on our daily agenda, and what is left off. The importance of seeking God’s will and then actually living accordingly can not be over stated. Why? Because it has temporal and eternal consequences! Life on planet earth is short, so we should seek to live every moment under the direction of God as we let Him show us the way!

Community Group Discussion Guide

1. What organizational tool or tools do you use when it comes to getting things done? Old fashioned paper calendar? Fancy planners? Notes written on your hand (the original Palm Pilot)? Your computer or smart phone? Or combination? Let’s us in on your secret for success!!

2. How do you decide what get’s on your daily things to do list, what doesn’t, and do you routinely factor in the more important life goals you believe God wants you to achieve?
Psa 25:4  Show me your ways, O LORD, teach me your paths;
Psa 25:5  guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.

3. Deciding who will be in charge of your daily agenda is critical to accomplishing God’s will. Why do you think it’s so hard for us to submit our will to God’s will? Is it not a matter of trust? The following passage was used recently, but has great application for this question...
Psa 37:3  Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
Psa 37:4  Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Psa 37:5  Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this:
Psa 37:6  He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.
Psa 37:7  Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes.
Psa 37:8  Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret--it leads only to evil.

4. Sometimes we focus on the don’ts of The Bible and forget to do the dos! Why does what we do matter as much if not more than what we don’t do?
James 4:17 Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.
1 John 3:16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.
17 If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?
18 Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.


Full Sermon Notes

"I will kneel in the dust at the foot of the cross where mercy paid for me!" Matt Redman
When it comes to living life, real life, you can't begin living real life until you've knelt at the foot of the cross and allowed God's mercy to cover you, to cleanse you, to renew you, to heal you, to inspire you and to put you into a right relationship with your Creator God! You can't even begin living the amazing life God wants for you until you do what kneeling signifies…humble submission of your life before God. And when that happens, you'll surrender your surrender your personal things to do list and begin seeking God's direction for life's agenda! You and I can't begin to know the freedom, the peace and the dynamic purpose this will bring into our existence until we surrender our will to His by kneeling in the dust at the foot of the cross! Let's pray!

“Father God, how I love You and trust You! You've shown me over and over again how Your agenda is the absolute best agenda for my life. At first glance, I may be hesitant to accept Your agenda, but that where trust comes in. I must learn to trust Your heart. The Father's heart! The heavenly Father's heart. Good dad's want what's best for their children. Good dad's spend much of their lives in pursuit of providing for the needs of their family! You are the best Dad ever, so Happy Father's Day dear God, You're the best! Thank You for being such an awesome Father and I pray that today You will teach us earthly dad's how to be better dads by learning to let you set our agenda's. And I know Your agenda will include time for what's most important in life and that's our relationship with you and our relationships with our spouses, our children, our parents, our siblings, our friends, our co-workers and our brothers and sisters in the family of God! Teach through me with the power of Your Holy Spirit and I will be quick to give You all the honor and glory You are due! Thank You Father, In Jesus Name I pray and believe, Amen!!

I want to begin today by reading you a quote from Randy Frazee from his book "Making Room for Life!"

"Simply put, many of us have squeezed living out of life. We don't have the time to soak in life and deep friendships. We're always running around trying to get to the next event. This presents at least two major problems. First, our busy lifestyles stimulate a toxic disease called crowded loneliness. But there's an even deeper problem. In our original design we were created with a connection requirement. If this requirement is not met, we will die."

Drastic words, but oh so true! Now let me read to you a portion of God's Word found in James 4:13-17...

James 4:13 Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city,  
spend a year there, carry on business and make money.”
14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life?
You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.

15 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”
16 As it is, you boast and brag. All such boasting is evil.
17 Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.

I want to share with you a song I wrote back in the 80's. Ok, so I realize I just said 80's, so let that serve as my disclaimer. It's kind of got an 80's sound thing going on, but if you can listen past the style and catch the words, I hope it will help set the tone for today's message...

But a Vapor
Life is but a vapor soon it vanishes away
We don't even have promised another single day
and life is like a river that flows into the sea, everyone has an appointment with eternity

So don't live your life so selfishly
storing up treasures you'll have to leave eventually
You can't take it with you so let go and you'll be free

If you're living your life for Jesus, there'll be rewards that will last
but so many will have nothing to show for their past,
Caring for others is what He said we should do, obedience in this will let His light shine through

So don't live your life so selfishly
storing up treasures you'll have to leave eventually
You can't take it with you so let go and you'll be free

Don't let real life pass you by no
Don't let real life pass you by

Now when you've helped a little one, in the name of Jesus Christ
The smile upon it's face will make it worth the sacrifice

Life is but a vapor soon it vanishes away
We don't even have promised another single day
and life is like a river that flows into the sea, everyone has an appointment with eternity
--------What is life, it is but a vapor, it appears for a moment and then it vanishes away.

So it stands to reason, if life is but a vapor or a mist that appears for a moment and then vanishes away, every second, every minute, every precious day, counts. A few weeks ago, Andrew preached a sermon titled, "Time Matters!" A great message about the importance of spending time with family.

Today, I want to help you figure out how to do that!! That and even more! You see, God has a divine agenda for you and me each and every moment of our lives. Now that doesn't mean every moment of our lives we are to be busy bodies, go, go, go, work, work, work, hurry, hurry, hurry, busy, busy, busy! Nope. God's plan includes r & r. Rest and relaxation. Yes, God wants you to make a place for rest and relaxation in your agenda! God's plan includes, work, but it also includes family, and even hobbies. We talked a few weeks ago about finding God's direction for your life's work. But it is equally important we find balance in our lives, and very few people today find balance.

Very few people have enough margin in their life for the things that really matter! We are maxed out on the schedule, maxed out on the calendar, maxed out on the credit cards…wait, did I mean to include that in the list? Yes, I did. When you're maxed out on your obligations and liabilities, you will feel the need to work all the overtime you can. You might even feel compelled to have two jobs or even three. There's so many ways in which the world traps us into busyness and that leads to stress, which leads to poor decisions, which can lead to more debt which leads to more busyness, which leads to more stress, which leads to more….I think you get the picture.

Some of you might even say, "of course I get the picture, that's a picture of my life!! Why are you bringing all that up? I came to church to forget the stress of my life!" I get that, but if I'm going to help you overcome this deadly cycle, then we've got to talk about it!
Let's look at our text and see if we can get some help. There are five questions about our life's agenda found in today's text we need to answer! So let's get started...

Who's in charge?

James 4:13 Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.”

This begs the question…"Who's in charge? Who set's the agenda for your daily schedule? Who set's the agenda for your life? Who set's the agenda for your life's goals? Now I know some of you might say, "I don't work for myself, so my boss sets my daily agenda!" Ok, I'll give you that, but what about the time you're not at work? And most all of us have some freedom to make decisions at work. Maybe not what we will do, but how we will do our job and if that is predetermined for you, you still have a decision as to how well you will do your job. And if your boss ask you to do things that are unethical, you have to decide where you draw the line and how you'll respond.

And when you are given the opportunity for overtime, promotions, or even transfers, you have to decide who will help you make that choice. Will you allow God to help you make that decision based on what matter's most in your life and not simply based on what is best for your career, but what is best for your family. Now, I realize if you are in the military, some of your options are limited, but you can still pray for God to lead you and to lead those who make those decisions in your life, and then bloom where you're planted, trusting God is leading your life!! It is not as important where you live as how you live!! You see, no matter what kind of job you do you have decisions placed before you each day. Will you allow God to give you divine guidance for each decision? Like how you start your day. Do you seek God's guidance and His presence for your life for the day that is about to begin? What did Jesus do when He was on this earth?

Mark 1:35 Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.
36 Simon and his companions went to look for him,
37 and when they found him, they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for you!”

If you ever thought Jesus doesn't understand the pressure you face, think again! He couldn't get away even for a few minutes without being reminded of the great needs all around Him. It wasn't easy, but He knew the importance of praying before He set His agenda. That's Jesus! If He needed direction for life's agenda, who are we to think we don't need The Father's direction? Listen to the words of the Psalmist...

Psalm 5:3 In the morning, O LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation.

I love the fact that the Psalmist David acknowledged that God heard his voice, and expected God to answer! Now let me tell you how this works in the real world! I have a things to do list. In fact, I have 17! Yes! 17. I know that sounds crazy. But I can't put everything on one list. That would overwhelm me and discourage me. I have a list for senior staff, one for full staff, one for each staff member, one for home stuff, one for worship and sermon planning, one for fire department chaplaincy, one for leadership team, one for prayer, one for thank you notes, one for photography stuff, one for our pastoral care team, one for flight training, one for our Make a Difference team, and an overall master list...I guess you could say I like to do list and think they can be a fantastic tool of productivity. But here's the deal…You need to seek God's direction for your agenda. Daily agenda and life agenda!!

Some things will get on your list just because they have to be done. Get new tires, change the oil, buy or make groceries, depending on how much cajun blood you've got in ya! But you should think about your God-given life goals, and make sure that at least some of your things to do have to do with those big issue things! If not, it is likely you'll never accomplish your greater purposes in life. And don't forget flexibility. Circumstances sometimes change. God may just interrupt your schedule with something you didn't plan on. A God opportunity! Always be willing to let God's agenda supersede yours! It's important! Why? Well that's our next question. Why should it be God who sets your agenda?

Why should it be God?

James 4:14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life?
You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.

It should be God because He knows what you don't know. He knows what you can't know unless He tells you. Isaiah put it this way...

Isaiah 55:6 Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near.
7 Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.
8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD.
9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
10 As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.

When we seek and consult God's Word and His wisdom and follow His direction we can be assured that Word will not return empty, but will accomplish what God desires and will achieve the purpose for which He gave it! I want that! I need that! I'm desperate for that! I want to achieve my God-given purpose for living. Nothing else matters. Why? Because God's purpose is absolutely the very best because He's the ultimate Father and God the Father truly does know best! He wants the very best for you and your family. And there's another reason God should be the one who set's your life agenda. Even if you could learn everything on your own, you don't have time!

James 4:14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.

I don't care how smart you are, you aren't smart enough to juggle all the things that are thrown at us in this modern life. I-pads, I-phones, androids, and thousands of personal management apps, can't show us the way. They can remind us of things on our agenda, tell us when they're due, and put a check in the box when they're done, but they can't tell us what should be on the list in the first place. They can list your priorities, but you have to input the priorities, and if you've got that wrong, it won't matter if you put a check beside everything on your Personal Digital Assistant, or PDA. If you got it all done, only to find out it was all the wrong things, you haven't accomplished your life's purpose.

Randy Frazee told a story that put it in perspective for me!!

"Night after night a man came home to his family with his briefcase full of work. One evening his little son turned to his mom as his dad once again walked in with an overstuffed briefcase in hand. "Why does Daddy always have work to do when he gets home?" he asked.

His mom replied, "Because Daddy can't get it all done at the office." The boy innocently quipped back, "Why don't they put Daddy in the slower class?"

Wow! Don't get to your empty nest season and realize you've missed your kid's life because you had the wrong agenda. Now, some of you may say, "Been there done that! Wish I would have spent more time with my kids than with my work!" Don't beat yourself up, just make it up to the grandkids, and give gentle, loving hints to your children not to miss the special times. Why do I say gentle, because you don't need to forget the pressures of trying to juggle providing for the growing family and spending time with the family. And then there's the folks at the church always asking for volunteers to help with buildouts, Vacation Bible School, cooking meals for the sick, helping people move, etc.
Only God can give us the wisdom we need to know which plates to spin and which ones to let fall to the ground! So how do we make that decision? So far we've asked two questions: Who's in charge, and why should it be God? Deciding what goes on the agenda and what doesn't takes us to our third question for today…

What should we say?

James 4:15 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”

About five years ago I preached a whole sermon series on finding God's will for our lives. It was entitled…"Compass for the Soul" Nine sermons. Why? It's so vital we discover God's will for each and every aspect of our lives. We are so presumptuous when we say, "This is absolutely what I'm going to do and nothing can stop me!" Have you met Mr. Life? He can throw some pretty nasty curve balls at you and no matter how hard you swing your bat, or how determined you are to hit the ball, you may not be able without a little help from above.

The Psalmist, King David, new this all too well. Listen to his words.

Psalm 40:8 I desire to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart.”
9 I proclaim righteousness in the great assembly; I do not seal my lips, as you know, O LORD.
10 I do not hide your righteousness in my heart; I speak of your faithfulness and salvation. I do not conceal your love and your truth from the great assembly.
11 Do not withhold your mercy from me, O LORD; may your love and your truth always protect me.

Now, remember I said Mr. Life can throw some pretty serious stuff at you? What the Psalmist just said is pretty beautiful and amazing, but listen to the next few sentences...

Psalm 40:12 For troubles without number surround me; my sins have overtaken me, and I cannot see. They are more than the hairs of my head, and my heart fails within me.
13 Be pleased, O LORD, to save me; O LORD, come quickly to help me.

The Psalmist knew God's will was the ultimate best. He desired to do God's will and God's principles were in His heart. And yet he was honest with God and shared his struggles with God! He said troubles surrounded him and his sins had overtaken him and even blinded him. His heart was failing due to these issues.

When you find these same kind of issues in your life, what should you do? For that let's turn to the words of Jesus...

9 “This, then, is how you should pray: “ ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,
10 your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

What does this mean, "Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven?" In Heaven, God's kingdom is in full force, because God rules there! God's will is done in heaven, and it should be our desire for God's will to be done here on earth. We should pray for God's will to be done in our lives as we seek His direction for our life's agenda! But there seems to be a problem that prevents most of us from totally accepting and living out God's will in our lives. So the next to last question...

What's the problem?

Our text tells us plainly...

James 4:16 As it is, you boast and brag. All such boasting is evil.

You're not going to like the answer! It's you and me! Yep, that old pride thing just keeps getting in the way. We just think we know best! How many times must we learn the hard way that our ways or not God's ways and that God's ways are the best ways and we should submit our will to His when it comes to our daily and life agenda? We follow God's will for a while and then the world entices us with the lure, the false advertising, and much of today's advertising is false although not blatantly enough to get them into trouble with the Federal Trade Commission. It's the way they lead you to believe their product will change your life and bring you true happiness. So we are left believing true happiness can indeed be bought if we have enough money!
So we work so hard to attain what the world tells us we need to be really happy. But here's the truth...

"The excessive money of many Americans may be the single greatest obstacle to attaining a stress-free lifestyle. We can have the money to purchaser the nicest and most exotic hammock made, but it doesn't mean that we'll find much rest in it."

Again, what's the problem? Why do we fight this battle multiple times throughout our lives? And why do we pass this struggle down to our children. It is because we all struggle with human pride. The Psalmist, King David struggled with it and he was considered a man who had a heart for God.

And guess what? He passed this struggle to his son Solomon. In fact, Solomon, the richest man who ever lived and fought this battle throughout his life, wrote the following words in the Bible…Proverbs 11:2-7

Proverbs 11:2 When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.
3 The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity.
4 Wealth is worthless in the day of wrath, but righteousness delivers from death.
5 The righteousness of the blameless makes a straight way for them,
but the wicked are brought down by their own wickedness.
6 The righteousness of the upright delivers them, but the unfaithful are trapped by evil desires.
7 When a wicked man dies, his hope perishes; all he expected from his power comes to nothing.

What a sad thing to get to the end of one's life and discover it counted for nothing. The agenda was all wrong! The agenda was flawed, upside down, messed up and focused on things that wouldn't last! And this takes us to our last question…

Why does it matter?

Why does it matter what my agenda is? Why do I need God's help setting my agenda? Why can't I just be selfish and do things my way? After all, God made me a free being. I have the God-given right to do what I want to do. Yes you do! But it matters because...

James 4:17 Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.

And some of you have always focused on the don'ts. "But Pastor Larry, I don't do drugs, get drunk, cheat on my wife or my taxes! I don't cuss, and I've never done any of the big sins!" Ok, that's good, but what about the things to do list? What about God's agenda? What about that? If you're life's been focused on you then guess what, you've made yourself to be an idol. And if you're the god of your life where does that leave God? And here's the issue. You thought you were good on the avoiding the big sins. Let me remind you of the first two of the Ten Commandments…

Exodus 20:3 “You shall have no other gods before me.
4 “You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on  
the earth beneath or in the waters below.

An idol is anything that takes the place of God! Whether that's something, someone, or even you! God was clear that nothing is to become an idol to us. When we yield our lives to God and trust Him, and when we allow God to set our life's agenda and our daily agenda, then there will be some good things for us to accomplish!

Ok, what are those things? He will show you what those things as you daily submit to His leadership in setting your life's agenda. And we're not talking a legalistic list of do's and don'ts, I'm talking about letting The Holy Spirit of God show you how you can be God's arms to love, His hands to serve, His mouthpiece to share His good news and His feet to take that good news to the ends of the earth! You've heard of John 3:16, but what about 1 John 3:16?

1 John 3:16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.
17 If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?
18 Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.

 Let's pray!