Summary: Be Careful When You Plan Ahead – James chapter 4 verses 13-17 – sermon by Gordon Curley PowerPoint slides to accompany this talk are available on request – email:


• Faith in the future is uncertain (vs 13).

• Our view of the future is blind (vs 14)

• Trusting God with the future is wisdom (vs 15)

• Boasting about the future is arrogant (vs 16)

• Doing good in the present is required (vs 17)



• A man was given the job of painting the white lines down the middle of the motorway;

• On his first day, he painted 6 miles;

• The next day he only painted 3 miles;

• And the following day less than a mile.

• When the foreman asked the man why he kept painting less and less each day,

• He replied, "I can't go any faster;

• Because each day I keep getting farther and farther away from the paint can."

• TRANSITION: As daft as that story is;

• It is a good reminder that all of us need to learn to plan ahead!

• Quote: “Remember, it wasn't raining when Noah built the ark”


• Michael Gerard Tyson is an American former professional boxer;

• Who competed from 1985 to 2005.

• He reigned as the undisputed world heavyweight champion;

• And holds the record as the youngest boxer to win a heavyweight title,

• (at 20 years, 4 months and 22 days old).

• Boxer Mike Tyson once said,

• “Everyone has a plan ‘till they get punched in the mouth.”


• It’s amazing how easily our plans are derailed.

• If you’ve ever planned a trip, a family get together,

• Or the launch of a business plan, or , a church event;

• You know to expect the unexpected.

• Because sometimes life punches us in the mouth!”

• The apostle James reminds us in these few verses;

• That often in life our plans may go astray;

• But God has an ultimate plan for our lives, and his plans are never derailed.

(1). Faith in the future is uncertain (vs 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.’”

Notice that nothing the people plan to do in this verse is apparently wrong.

• They hope to:

• Move to a certain city.

• Spend a year there.

• Buy and sell.

• Make a profit.

• It all sounds nice and innocent enough,

• But… James addresses the attitude with which these people make their plans.

• Because the problem is with their attitude and not their actions.


• On the 18th April 2017

• Prime Minister Theresa May called for a snap general election on 8th June.

• She said Britain needed certainty, stability and strong leadership;

• Following the EU referendum.

• TRANSITION: It all looked like a certainty;

• She was ahead in the polls and the opposition was weak and unelectable.

• Yet, we know she was to quote Iron Mike Tyson; “Punched min the mouth”

• She won the election but seems to have lost her credibility.

• All the political commentators and analysts;

• Are talking about ‘when’ she will go and not ‘if!’

• To use a modern expression:

• “Don’t count your chickens before they’re hatched.”

• TRANSITION: Today if James was writing he might also say:

• “Don’t count your chickens before they’re hatched.”

• And that saying is not just for Theresa May;

• But for everyone!

Now in verses 13-14:

• It would maybe that James was primarily addressing Christian businessmen,

• Wealthy merchants who were part of this particular assembly.

• They were successful and good at trading;

• But they were causing a problem in the Church,

• Because they were discussing their business deals;

• And boasting about their plans to succeed and make plenty of money.

• Now it is not wrong to be involved in running a successful business;

• Nor is it wrong to make a good profit (if you are not exploiting workers etc).

• But notice in these verses:

• There is no evidence that they sought the will of God or prayed about their decisions.

• They measured success in life;

• By how many times they got their own way and accomplished what they had planned.

• So James addresses the folly of living with that attitude;

• The foolishness of living life without seeking God’s will;

There are two things we can say for sure about the future:

• FIRST: Only God knows what’s going to happen.

• SECOND: We don’t

Quote: Charles Spurgeon:

• Spurgeon was the great eighteenth century Baptist Preacher & author;

• He said this concerning this verse:

“Is it so, O man, that thy life is self-governed? Is there not, after all, One greater than thyself? Is there not a higher power that can speed thee or stop thee? If thou dost not know this, thou hast not yet learned the first letter of the alphabet of wisdom.”

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