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Garden City Christian Union Church

What's The Plan?

James 4:13 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. PRAY

  • My text this morning is from the epistle of James.

  • This is probably the earliest letter in our New Testament.

  • It was most likely written by Jesus' brother who was a leader in the Jerusalem church and was martyred in the year 62 by the Jews being thrown from the pinnacle of the Temple and then clubbed to death to finish him off.

  • James was know for his personal piety.

  • This epistle is arranged in a very Jewish way sort of like a New Testament book of Proverbs with short statements containing great truths but not always directly connected to what is before or after.

  • R.C. Sproul calls it New Testament Wisdom Literature.

  • James speaks of things like

  • Trials

  • Testing of faith

  • Obedience

  • Good Works

  • Wisdom

  • God's Will

  • Patience

  • It is a very practical letter and gives good wisdom for godly living.

In our text this morning he speaks of something specific to the Christian life that is often misunderstood or overlooked in our day,

  • That is; God's part in our daily circumstances. PROVIDENCE

James 4:13 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”;

  • He begins with a call to examine our situation.

  • Come Now” we might say in our time HEY!

  • CHECK IT OUT!

  • Or a generation or two ago maybe NOW SEE HERE,

  • James wants to point out a flaw in the thinking of certain members of his audience.

  • James 4:13b 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”;

  • He is talking to planners.

  • Business men

  • Entrepreneurs

  • Probably some Jews who were converted to Christianity and still went on their way, as many Jews did in that society, making money in trade with the peoples around them.

  • Nothing wrong with a little planning is there?

  • Planning is good!

  • In the Wisdom Literature of the Old Testament we find these words...

  • Proverbs 6:6 Go to the ant, you sluggard! Consider her ways and be wise, 7 Which, having no captain, Overseer or ruler, 8 Provides her supplies in the summer, And gathers her food in the harvest. 9 How long will you slumber, O sluggard? When will you rise from your sleep? 10 A little sleep, a little slumber, A little folding of the hands to sleep— 11 So shall your poverty come on you like a prowler, And your need like an armed man.

  • Even the ant with no one to tell it to prepare makes ready for the lean season by storing up goods in the time of plenty.

  • We are commanded to look to the ant as an example in this regard.

  • All of us plan on some level or at least he hope for and expect things to happen.

  • But often times when we sit down in our board meetings and our planning sessions,

  • we get all of our ducks in a row

  • we evaluate our strengths and our weaknesses

  • we develop a plan of attack

  • but we forget to invite the most important of persons to our meeting.

  • We don't allow for His plans within our own.

  • I wonder what the business planners at GM are thinking right now as opposed to five years ago or ten years?

  • Would Lee Iaccoca have considered the prospect of Chrysler being owned by foreign companies in the '80's?

  • Or maybe you yourself sat down with a professional financial planner who was “certified” and you thought that you had your whole future covered only to find yourself out of money with lots of life left to live.

Next James gives the reason for calling this to our attention. James4:14 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.

  • All of our planning

  • All of our scheming

  • In some sense doesn't really matter because we don't know the future.

  • We don't want to be unprepared, but we don't want to put all of our hope in human ideas and machinations

  • Our culture tries to tell the future with everything from psychic hotlines to horoscopes to fortune cookies.

  • As an aside I want to tell you, Don't go there!

  • Leviticus 20:6 And the person who turns to mediums and familiar spirits, to prostitute himself with them, I will set My face against that person and cut him off from his people.

  • Deuteronomy 18:10 There shall not be found among you any one that makes his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that uses divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch, 11Or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer. 12For all that do these things are an abomination unto the LORD:

  • Most of these are ways of trying to tell the future whether it is appealing directly to a false god.

  • Divining by way of reading animal innards.

  • Looking at oil on water in a cup.

  • Gazing at the stars and planets.

  • You get the idea...

  • I would like to have the job of writing some fortune cookie sayings though, because some people are so superstitious.

  • Beware of Red Cars!”

  • Stay away from open windows”

  • Don't eat on Thursday”

  • He goes on.... James 4:14b For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.

  • Life is short!

  • At best we get 70 or if by reason of strength 80 years! Psalm 90

  • Many of us don't get that

  • In the context of eternity we are a flash on the screen and we are gone.

  • What a horrible situation with the little girl from down state!

  • Only five years in her life.

  • We need to pray for her family.

  • Charles Spurgeon said that “Life is but death's vestibule.”

  • We think of our lives as a monument to ourselves, like the pyramids of Egypt to the Pharaohs,

  • But in reality it is just the entry way to a far greater place, eternity.

  • It's like summer vacation when you are a kid

  • Or like your kids growing up when you're middle aged.

  • You ask, “Where did the time go?”

James 4:15 Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.”

  • We need to plan but we need to bathe it in prayer.

  • We need to be ready to have God's plan override our own.

  • We need to make sure that we do not make an idol of our plans and our futures.

  • We need to make sure that we trust the Lord for the outcome that best suits His plan.

  • God is sovereign in the affairs of man and though we may not always like Him intervening in our affairs, He is God and we are not!

  • This is called Providence and many even in the church today do not recognize it as God's prerogative.

  • If we know Christ as our Savior we should welcome this thought.

  • Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to those that love the Lord and are called according to His purpose.

  • I think we often lack the proper perspective on life in the here and now and life in eternity.

  • We spend our time decorating the vestibule that we are in for such a short time and neglect to take care of the building that we will inhabit for eternity.

  • Luke 12:15 And [Jesus] said to them, “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.” 16Then He spoke a parable to them, saying: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully. 17“And he thought within himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops?’ 18“So he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods. 19‘And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.” ’ 20“But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?’ 21“So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”

  • This is the point that I believe James is making with his audience.

  • Far too often we are looking out for ourselves and we are not even thinking whether what we have planned is God's will.

  • God's will!” you say. “How can we ever know that?”

  • If you have not trusted Christ as your Savior and He is speaking to you today it is His will that you put your trust in Him to save you from your sin and His judgment.

  • 2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.

  • There are some things that we can all do as Christians that we can be assured of as being God's Will.

  • 1 Thessalonians 4:3 For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality; 4that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, 5not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God;

  • 1 Thessalonians 5:16 Rejoice always, 17pray without ceasing, 18in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

  • 1 Peter 2:15 For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men

  • 1 Peter 4:9 Therefore let those who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls to Him in doing good, as to a faithful Creator.

  • As we do the will of God that is plainly revealed in the Bible we will also have the opportunity for God to lead us into His providential will.

  • Romans 12:1 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. 2And 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.

  • And so as we live according to what we know to be God's will and build ourselves up in the faith we will demonstrate God's perfect will in our lives as He governs them through providence.

  • Remember though that His focus in on eternity and not so much on the present.

  • He is not looking to give us our best life now but to prepare us for eternal life!

  • And so to those who are living for temporal reward and banking on their own plans for present rewards James says...

James 4:16 But now you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.

  • Literally we boast of our boasting.

  • Our plans that preclude God instead of including Him are arrogant in them selves.

  • They are proud and boastful and we boast in them all the more as we tell others of what we will accomplish.

  • We think we have it all together.

  • We do not realize that if life has been good then we have been blessed!!!!!!

  • Paul asks the question to the Corinthians, “What do you have that you did not receive?”

  • 1 Corinthians 4:7 For who makes you differ from another? And what do you have that you did not receive? Now if you did indeed receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?

  • Whatever plans have prospered it is the Lord's doing!

  • Proverbs 16:9 A man’s heart plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps.

  • We need to give God the glory for the Good that He brings into our lives.

  • We do not deserve this goodness! GOSPEL!

  • And yet He gives us life, family, intelligence, ability and all that we have.

  • If we know Him as Savior He has given us even more. Forgiveness of sin, Eternal Life...

  • There is not room for boasting in anything and yet we think that somehow we have come to where we are of our own doing.

  • We will then make our way in the same way.

  • James says that all such boasting is EVIL!

  • On a fundamental level it is opposed to God and our right relationship to Him to trust in ourselves and disregard His oversight of our lives.

  • Arsenic and Old lace -

  • Overview

  • Carry Grant [Mortimer] “It's not only illegal but its wrong!”

  • It is self reliance when our reliance should be in God.

  • It comes from a corrupt heart!

I hope that by now you see that God is in control and that we can hope to know His plan for us as we submit to what He has already told us though He still has the prerogative to override whatever we think He is doing.

  • This is a good thing in the long run though it is at times difficult to see the good in our situation we are assured that God has a good plan that He is working for our benefit.

  • Remember Romans 8:28.

  • But because of the uncertainty of life James gives us a “therefore” and he sort of makes a sharp left turn in his thinking as he does this.

James 4:17 Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.

  • Somehow knowing that life is uncertain makes us accountable for our daily conduct.

  • This is an interesting perspective on things.

  • James says James 4:14 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.

  • Because life is like this, You need to do good whenever you have the opportunity!

  • Many commentators feel that all he is saying is that we should do what he has instructed us in the strict sense of deferring to God's will.

  • I think that he is saying more than that.

  • I think that he is saying that the uncertainty of tomorrow obligates us to make the most of every opportunity today!

  • We might not get another chance to do the good that we have left undone!

  • You say, “Well, I'm planning to do those good things that I know that I should!

  • What good thing should you be doing?

  • Teaching your family

  • Training your children

  • Reaching out to your neighbor, friend, family member or coworker.

  • Dealing with that sinful habit

  • Restoring that broken relationship

  • Serving in your church

  • Taking that young person under your wing and encouraging them.

  • You say, “Well, I've been meaning to do that, I'm just so busy!”

  • I say with James you better get to it because as long as you don't its SIN!

  • If you are too busy to do God's revealed will then you are too busy!

  • I will close with a couple of commands from the New Testament

  • Ephesians 5:15 See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, 16redeeming the time, because the days are evil. 17Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is.

  • Paul tells the Ephesians that they should live right and make the most of their time to oppose the evil of their day.

  • Literally to buy it back or purchase opportunities.

  • They will cost us something but it will be worth it!

  • He says don't be stupid or “unwise” but understand that this is God's will!

  • Galatians 6:7 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. 8For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. 9And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. 10Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.

  • Again, God knows where you put your hope;

  • ungodly people live for the world

  • godly people live for the Spirit

  • Those who are godly are expected to continue in doing good and looking for God's fruit.

 

So, what are your plans for the future?

  • I hope that you are planning for it.

  • But I also hope that you recognize that the Lord has the right to override your plans.

  • Are you including God's will in your plans?

  • Are you planning and saying in a real way and not just as trite words, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.

  • And since some aspects of God's providential will cannot be known,

  • Are you making the most of the opportunities that you have to do good?

  • Pray for those opportunities

  • Trust Him for those opportunities

  • Use those opportunities for His glory!

  • If you neglect those opportunities remember that you are in sin!

     

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