Summary: This sermon looks at three mistakes people make about how to handle the future. Mistake One: Planning Without GOD Mistake Two: Taking Tomorrow For GRANTED Mistake Three: Delaying doing GOOD

Facing The Future

Today we’re going to look at James chapter four – verses thirteen thru seventeen and see what James tells us about “Facing the Future”.

As Americans we are all concerned about the future. We ask: “What will gas prices be next week?” “Who will win the election?” “When will we get out of Iraq?” “Will I have enough money for my retirement?” And the list goes on and on. We ask question after question about the future. Did you know that James talks about the “How to Handle the Future?” He tells us that there are three common mistakes people make when it comes to facing the future. That is our topic for today: “Facing The Future”. Let’s look at what James has to say. He starts in verse thirteen by saying:

“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.” James 4:13 (NKJV)

Verse thirteen starts out as a normal conversation – it’s something you may hear in a business office every day. Two fellows are talking and they say, “Let’s make plans about our economic security – about our future. Today or tomorrow – let’s go to say – Chicago. There we’ll start a new business – we’ll spend a year or two there – getting the business established before we move on the next city. We’ll make money. We’ll make a profit. We’ll build a company. We’ll build an empire.”

This sounds like good planning – doesn’t it? Sure it does! But here we find the first mistake:

I. Mistake One: Planning Without GOD

Did you notice that in the verse we read that there was no mention of God? The business men knew what they wanted. They wanted to make a profit – they wanted to make money. They knew how to get there – they had a plan. They knew what they needed to do. But they left God out of the planning. They had an attitude of self-sufficiency. The Bible encourages good planning. In fact Jesus said:

"For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost, to see if he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation, and is not able to finish, all who observe it begin to ridicule him, saying, ’This man began to build and was not able to finish.’” Luke 14:28-30 (NASV)

Jesus is telling us that planning is a good thing. In fact if you don’t plan well – you will be considered foolish. The book Proverbs says:

“Careful planning puts you ahead in the long run; hurry and scurry puts you further behind.” Proverbs 21:5 (MSG)

But the Bible also tells us that God needs to be in the center of our plans. Proverbs says:

“Commit your works to the LORD, And your plans will be established.” Proverbs 16:3 (NASV)


“The mind of man plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps.” Proverbs 16:9 (NASV)

James brings us back to the same conclusion when he says:

“You ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.’” James 4:15 (NKJV)

God needs to be the center of our planning. Go ahead and circle the word “if” in verse fifteen. Murphy’s Law says: “If things can go wrong – they will.” Life is just one big if. Life is pretty if-fy. If you spell life out: “L – I – F – E” – what letters do you have right in the middle of the word? “I – F” – and that spells “if”. I don’t know what will happen tomorrow – neither do you. We are not the ones who know what the future holds. God is the One who knows what is around each bend. We must rely upon Him.

There are three ways I can respond to God’s will in my life:

A. I can show INDIFFERENCE to it

B. I can make REFERENCE to it – only talking about it now and then – or:

C. I can give PREFERENCE to it

More than anything else I want to give God my preference. I want to do what God wants me to do with my life. I hope you do too. Proverbs chapter sixteen verse one in the Message Bible says:

“Mortals make elaborate plans, but GOD has the last word.” Proverbs 16:1 (MSG)

Planning without God is the first mistake. The second mistake is:

II. Mistake Two: Taking Tomorrow For GRANTED

Look at what James tells us in verse fourteen:

“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.” James 4:14 (NKJV)

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