"For I know the thoughts that I think toward you," saith the Lord, "thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart." --Jeremiah 29:11
Did you hear about the man who was going to sell his cow? He lived close to the market so he decided to walk his cow to town to sell her. On the way he met a neighbor who was plowing with his team of mules. Being a good neighbor, he stopped to talk.
The neighbor man asked him where he was going.
The man with the cow said, "I’m going to market to sell my cow."
The neighbor man, who was a Christian said, "No, you mean you are going to sell your cow at the market if the Lord be willing."
The man with the cow said, "No, I’m going to market to sell my cow whether God is willing or not!"
This morning I want us to think about how to handle the future.
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:" Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. For that ye ought to say, "If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that." But now ye rejoice in your boastings: all such rejoicing is evil. Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin. --James 4:13-17.
There is nothing wrong with making plans. We should plan and prepare for the future. In fact, we should never fail to take the time to plan. Being a good steward of our lives necessitates the making of plans. Jesus advocated planning. He told the person who was getting ready to build a building to sit down and figure the costs to be sure he would have enough to finish the project. Jesus told us to plan for the future by laying up treasure in heaven. James warns us to be sure to keep God in our plans. Unfortunately, far too many of us plan our lives without an eye to God. Self-sufficient planning will bring disaster to the soul
What is under consideration here is not open defiance of God, but of an utter disregard for God. This is an attitude of arrogant self-sufficiency. It is possible for one to acknowledge God’s existence with his mouth and yet live his daily life in such a fashion as to deny in a practical way all that he says.
James rebukes this arrogant self-sufficiency by saying, "Come now." Today we would say, "Oh, come on now." It is a plea for re-examination, expresses disapproval of this way of thinking.
By rehearsing their plans he reveals that they treat the future as something that they can not only know, but have control over. At least in their minds the plans have already been implemented. They have decided on...
- ...a precise time: "today or tomorrow"
- ...a particular place: "such a city"
- ...a predetermined duration of the stay: "spend a year there"
- ...a planned activity: "buy and sell"
- ...a profit they expect to gain: "and make a profit"
The complete picture is one in which the will of God is not even considered. These men who undoubtedly are decent, respectable even, consider themselves religious men, but in their daily lives they live as if God had no place in their plans.
To thus live independently of God is to live toward coming disaster.
And he spake a parable unto them, saying, "The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: And he thought within himself, saying, 'What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits?' And he said, 'This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. And I will say to my soul, "Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry."' But God said unto him, 'Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?' So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God." Luke 16:16.-21
Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you. Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are moth eaten. Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days. Behold, the hire of the labourers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth: and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of sabaoth. Ye have lived in pleasure on the earth, and been wanton; ye have nourished your hearts, as in a day of slaughter. Ye have condemned and killed the just; and he doth not resist you. James 4 :1-6
This is a powerful scripture regarding self-sufficiency and those who put their trust in material things. James gives us reason to include God in our planning.
Boast not thyself of to morrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth. --Proverbs 27:1Everything may be going fine for you right now but a trip to the grocery store could change your life forever. You may go to bed tonight and not wake up.
2. Tomorrow is Uncertain.
And I will say to my soul, "Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years, take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry." But God said unto him, "Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?" --Luke 12:19.
This man was so sure he had tomorrow, he had planned on building bigger barns to store his goods. This man is never heard of again in the Bible.
And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled, and answered, "Go thy way for this time: when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee." --Acts 24:25 That time never came for Felix, as we never read of his conversion.
3.Time is Unsure.
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. --James 4:14
It is funny that when you are in your youth you wish to be older, and when you are older you wish to have your youth again.
All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field: The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: because the spirit of the Lord bloweth upon it: surely the people is grass. The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever. --Isaiah 40:6-8
I know that I am getting older because my body tells me my get-up-and-go and has got up and gone.
Life is gone quickly. Since we do not know when the Lord will call for us, it pays to live for him day by day. That way, should he call we will be ready. Time is unsure in that we do not know when the Lord will return.
Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh. --Matthew 25:13
Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain. Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh. --James 5:7-8
Rick Warren said: "People ask me, 'What is the purpose of life?' And I respond: 'In a nutshell, life is preparation for eternity. We were made to last forever, and God wants us to be with Him in Heaven'".
This statement made me do some serious thinking about life. Not just about life in general but thinking about my life. You see, one day my heart is going to stop, and that will be the end of my body-- but not the end of me. It is so easy to get so caught up in living down here that we forget about living up there. Man pretty much expects things to be hunky-dory down here.
I may live 60 to 100 years on earth, but I am going to spend trillions and trillions and trillions of years in eternity. This is the warm-up act, the dress rehearsal. God wants us to practice on earth what we will do forever in eternity.
We were made by God and for God, and until we figure that out, life isn’t going to make sense. Life is a series of problems: Either we are in one now, just coming out of one, or getting ready to go into another one. The reason for this is that God is more interested in our character than our comfort. (We have so much to look forward to going to heaven.) God is more interested in making our life holy than He is in making our life happy. We can be reasonably happy here on earth, but that’s not the goal of life. The goal is to grow in character, in Christ-likeness. The Lord never ever promised me that I would be rich, or happy but He did promise me that He would be with me to the end.
I believe personally that no matter how good things are in our life, there is always something bad that needs to be worked on. And no matter how bad things are in our life, there is always something good we can thank God for. We can focus on our purposes, or we can focus on our problems. I’ve learned that if I focus on my problems, I will go into self-centeredness, "which becomes my problem, my issues, my pain." It can very easily and very quickly become all about me…
Life is not about me or you or my problems or your problems….Life is all about God! If life is about God then the only major goal in life is to do the will of God. If we do that then all other things concerning life will fall into place.
James chapter 3, verses 13-18 deals with living in Godly wisdom.
Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom. But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.
But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.
Then look at James chapter 4, verses 4-10 It deals with submitting to God.
Know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy? But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.
Remember the man with the cow? Well, it seems that on down the road to town the man with the cow was stop by some bad men and they beat him up and stole his cow. After he came to himself, he started back home and the man plowing the field ask him if he was going home. The man said, "If the Lord’s willing, I’m going home!"
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. --James 4:14
I want to leave you with these questions today.
- How are you living your Life?
- Is it in the will of God?
- Are you prepared to meet God if He calls you today?
- Where are you going?