James 4:13-17 (NKJV)
13 Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit"; 14 whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. 15 Instead you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that." 16 But now you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. 17 Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.
Intro: “As for man, his days are like grass; As a flower of the field, so he flourishes. For the wind passes over it, and it is gone, And its place remembers it no more.” Psalm 103:15-16
In 1899, Charles H. Duell, Commissioner in the U.S. Office of Patents said, “Everything that can be invented has been invented.” Since then, the world has witnessed the advent of airplanes, automobiles, manned space travel, plastics, computers, cell phones, and literally millions of other devices and products that we use and take for granted every day. I guess Mr. Duell just couldn't see too far into the future. In 1988, a book was distributed to nearly every pastor in America. Its title was: “88 Reasons Why Christ Will Return In 1988.” In that book, the author, Edgar Whisnant, predicted that the rapture would take place on Sept. 11, 12, or 13th of 1988. Many people believed the prediction. Trinity Broadcasting Network even went so far as to change their regular schedule and broadcasted selected videotapes telling non-believers what they should do if their loved ones suddenly disappeared. Over 3 million copies of that book were distributed, millions more believed it, yet it never came to pass. I suppose Mr. Whisnant couldn't see too far into the future either.
In truth, man just doesn't know what the future holds. People spend millions of dollars per year calling psychics and visiting palm readers to no avail. They still don't know any more than they did. By the way, did this thought ever occur to you: If those psychics know so much about the future; why don't they know you are going to call, and why don't they call you first? We are able to look backward fairly clearly on the past, but we cannot look forward into the future at all. To my mind, it is a great blessing to know that God has veiled the future. If we were able to see it, then our lives would be altered. If we knew that prosperity was coming, we would live carelessly. If we knew that adversity or trouble was the forecast, then we would live with constant anxiety and fear. Man would die a thousand deaths before his physical death ever arrived.
Certainly, God is good to keep the future a secret. James deals with this idea in these verses. He tells his readers that even though they cannot know the future, they should deal with it honestly. They are told not to presume on a future which they cannot control, or makes plans regarding the future without taking God into consideration. They are also told not to postpone until the future those things God has commanded to be done today. There were three mistakes being made by these early believers that many in our day still make. I would like to share these three mistakes with you in an effort to prevent us from falling into the same trap into which these folks fell. I would like for us to look into these verses together for a few minutes as I preach on the thought: Avoiding Future Mistakes.
Application: Keep God in your plans and avoid foolishness.
1. Avoid the Mistake of Foolish Plans: vs. 13
“Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit."
“Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” James 4:4
James' readers were guilty of indifference toward the brethren, now they are said to be indifferent toward God. He was ignored in their planning. This is a form of worldliness! Nothing is wrong with planning for the future, but it is a sin to leave God out of the planning process!
This is an example of a person with foolish plans: The plan is constructed with today or tomorrow in mind. The place is chosen and it is all about getting in on the ground floor and make a fortune. The period is calculated and their hope is that they would need only a year to succeed. The purpose is considered and they are going to buy and sell at retail. The profit is computed to expect gain and this becomes their focus. Isn’t it a shame they don’t realize their Putting treasures in the wrong world and this is a sure road to disaster. When we begin to love gold more than God, we are on shaky ground! So the one with the foolish plans lived their lives with no regard for God’s will. They plan their future with no regard for God’s will. Simply stated, many people live their lives as if God did not even exist!
Everybody knows Madelyn Murray O’Hair was an atheist, and she paid for it with her life. She simply did not believe God existed. Did you know there is another kind of atheist? And, did you know that some are sitting on these chairs today? You see, an intellectual atheist says, “I do not believe that there is a God.” They are honest, and while I disagree with them, I can respect an honest person. The other kind of atheist is called a “practical atheist.” While an intellectual atheist says there is no God; a practical atheist knows there is a God, but lives as if He does not exist.
Not one person in this room is an atheist. Everyone here believes that there is a God and you are here to honor that fact. However, is it not safe to say that many are living their lives as if there was no God? Is it not safe to say that many here are doing as they please; living as if God did not exist; making plans and living life with no regard for the Lord's will? If you fall into that category, you are a practical atheist. You may believe in God, but you live as if He does not matter! My friend that is a dangerous way to live your life! You will get into trouble if you continue to follow that path! A good question you might want to ask is: “What would God have me do with my life? What is the Lord's will in this situation?” All of the future is in the hand of the Lord. Your best course of action in this life is to find the Lord's will for your life and follow it to the letter. “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Romans 12:1-2
When we fail to acknowledge God and His leadership for our future, we are living in pride. We must do nothing, plan nothing and attempt to bring nothing to pass without first seeking the Lord's will in the matter. What I want is immaterial. What God wants is material. For what I want may never come to pass, but what He wants will always be done. Whatever we do, we need to be sure that God's goals are our goals and that we always maintain a proper view of the future. Have you been guilty of these things? Planning and leaving God out? Let's not be guilty of the sin of pride and presumption. Let us learn to trust the Lord and submit to His will for our lives. We must never leave God out of our planning.
2. Avoid the Mistake of Foolish Presumptions: vs. 14-16
14 Whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. 15 Instead you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that." 16 But now you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.
This is an example of a person with foolish prepositions:
- They Failed to Grasp the Difficulty of Life. They counted on too many things going just the right way. Life is filled with too many variables. How could they know what the future held? How can we believe that we do?
- They Failed to Grasp the Uncertainties of Life. Nobody knows what curve life will throw you tomorrow. Unexpected Death, illness, accident or injury are just a few of these. All of life is subject to God's will, not mine or yours! The future is best left in His hands. People ignore God when they make their plans because they are afraid that God will get in the way.
31 So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ 32 These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. 33 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.” Matthew 6:31-33 (NLT)
People would do well to remember that even with our best laid plans, our lives, our futures and all that we have and are, are in the hands of God. Only He knows what the future holds. The advice given in verse 15: “If the Lord wills…” should be more than a catch word with believers. IT SHOULD BE A WAY OF LIFE! This person with foolish prepositions also:
- They Failed to Grasp the Brevity of Life. At its very best, life is terribly short. How could these people know whether or not they would be alive tomorrow, much less next year? Death is coming and it comes suddenly and unannounced!
3. Avoid the Mistake of Foolish Postponements: vs. 17
“Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.”
Procrastination is nothing new. If we know that the end of life is coming, and if we know that it may come sooner than later, we are fools if we do not prepare.
This is an example of a person with foolish postponements: First is the matter of salvation - The pits of Hell are filled with men and women who said, “I'll do it later.” The problem with that is the fact that later may never come! Next is the matter of service. When we put off what we know we ought to do, in the Lord's work, it is sin! It is the sin of omission. There is a price to pay for this sin. There are some very important areas where we need to act and act today: We are to obey God's commands - the time to live for Jesus is now! A better day and more opportune time may never present itself. The time to witness, to preach, the worship, to go in His name is now. We are to surrender to God's will - Where are the Isaiah's who will hear the call of God and say, “Here am I; send me”? The time to serve Him is now. The time to go all out for Jesus is now. Tomorrow may never come. What a tragedy it would be to have to face God with unfinished business hanging over our heads!
In one of his sermons George W. Truett, long time Pastor of First Baptist Church of Dallas, TX, gave his testimony of his first efforts to win a friend to Christ. They were in a revival meeting and the preacher was coming over to the school every day and speaking. And he had a friend named Jim, and he and Jim went to the services one night and George Truett, just a young Christian, didn't know how to witness or anything, but he had a burden for his friend, so he said to his friend Jim, “Jim, let's go tonight.” He said, “I'll walk down the aisle with you.” He said, “Jim, give your life to Christ tonight.” And Jim said, “I can't do it tonight, George. Let me off tonight. If I still feel this way I'll do it tomorrow night, but let me off tonight, George.” George Truett said he went to school the next day and Jim wasn't there. He said he didn't think a whole lot about it, went to school the next day and Jim was not there again, so he went over to Jim's house, and when he got over there Jim's mother said to him, “Haven't you heard?”
And to make a long story short, what happened is that Jim had become seriously, seriously sick with fever and with pneumonia, so George talked the mother into letting him stay there on through the afternoon and on into the night. And late that night, in a delirium, Jim began to speak and here's what Jim was saying in his delirium, he was saying, “Not tonight, George. Let me off. If I feel this way tomorrow night I'll do it tomorrow night, but let me off tonight, George.” And that's the way he went out to meet God. You don't know what you'll be on the morrow, your life is a vapor, it appears for a little while and it's gone. What have you been putting off in your life? Have you been putting off serving the Lord? Make up your mind to do it today! Have you been putting off coming to Jesus for salvation? Get to Him today, tomorrow may never come!
“The saddest words of tongue or pen, are these four, “It might have been!”
“So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ 32 These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. 33 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. Matthew 6:31-33 (NLT)
In : Sermon
Tags: "avoid foolishness" "new year"
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