Summary: Now in this passage today we find a story that deals with the future and it tells the story of someone who was making plans but he was going about it in the wrong way. So let’s try to learn from his mistakes.
"Back to the Future"
In the film Back to the Future, Michael Fox plays the role of a guy named Marty MacFly who suddenly is thrown back into time 30 years earlier. Because he knows what the future hold for his family he feels compelled to make sure things happen the way they are supposed to. His future Mom and Dad actually now go to high school with him so he makes sure that they go to the prom together and fall in love with each other. The goal for Marty when he went into the past was to make sure things turned out as they should. The problem was when he went back 30 years the young woman who was supposed to marry his father, instead, fell in love with him.
So let me ask you a question. If you were suddenly thrown back in time and you were able to know what was going to happen before it happened, what would you do? If you could do it all over again what would you do different? How would you use that knowledge? If you knew where the winning lottery ticket was going to be sold, would you go there in hopes of be able to purchase it? If you knew that the stock market was going to go up, would you buy low & sell high, & make a lot of money? If you knew that someone was going to be in trouble & needed help, would you run to help them? Maybe you would be a hero. You knew someone was in danger & would die, would you be there to prevent that from happening? What would you do if you knew what was going to happen tomorrow?
In my opinion there are two areas where we are not supposed to live. One is the past and the other is the future. We have to learn to live in the now. Many people today are obsessed with the idea of trying to learn the future. They look into crystal balls, read tea leaves, & check their horoscope. I saw a fortune cookie and the note inside said, “don’t believe what fortune cookies tell you.” They got it right. The truth is, none of us really know the future here on this earth. Life is brief and we must live every single day to the fullest. And that is exactly what James is saying to us in this passage today.
Dwight Pentecost just a year ago went home to be with the Lord, 99 years of age, was a long time faculty member at Dallas Seminary. He is considered to be one of the premier scholars on the subject of Bible prophecy. He wrote over 20 books and lectured all over the world on many topics in the Bible, mostly on Bible prophecy. He made this statement…he said that when he would speak on some subject other than prophecy the attendance was always lower. But if he spoke on prophecy it would be higher. He stated that he had made a study of the NT of every reference to the 2nd coming of Christ and in every passage he was reminded that as believers, our first priority is not to know WHEN Jesus is coming back; remember that while on earth Jesus said He didn’t even know. Our first priority a believers is not to know when Jesus is coming back; our first priority is to live a holy, separated life. Knowing the future is not nearly as important as being prepared for the future.
Now in this passage today we find a story that deals with the future and it tells the story of someone who was making plans but he was going about it in the wrong way. So let’s try to learn from his mistakes.
The first mistake we make is that we leave God out of our planning completely. V. 13. Remember that James is the one speaking here and he is speaking directly to the people in Jerusalem …that was his audience but he is also speaking to us today. In other words James is talking to you and me.
Now this man described here in this passage is not really rebellious; he doesn’t mean to be fighting against God….what he is doing is more neutral…he is disregarding God. It is this attitude of being self-sufficient. It is the attitude of saying I can do this all by myself. We sound like children. Now this happens with nonbelievers every day…that does not surprise me but this passage is not directed at nonbelievers. It is directed at those who have placed their trust in Jesus. The church. And it surprises me that the Lord God Almighty; creator of the universe wants to help us and we simply brush Him off …….thinking we have a better idea. A better way. James says to those who do this, “Come now.” Today we would say… come on now… you can do better than that! Every single one of us need to stop and take a good long look at our priorities; reexamine our lives. We are too much like the individual found in this passage…we are saying… “I not only know what the future holds for me but I also have complete control over the future.” Look at verse 13 with me. 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.”