Summary: You want to face your future? Face your future by giving your heart to Jesus Christ and letting and Holy Spirit of God be in you to guide you.
Turn to the Book of James. We’re going to be talking about your future so you ought to be interested. James, Chapter 4, and in a moment we’re going to begin reading in verse 13.
We’re interested in the future. We want to know what the year is going to bring to us. People have different ways of looking in the future. Would you believe that some use tealeaves to try to look into the future. Others use palm reading. Others use astrology. Those are a little more sophisticated. They read books like Megatrends and other things, trying to understand what the future holds for us.
Now I’m going to read to you a story. It’s a story about a first century wheeler-dealer, a boastful businessman, a man who was making plans for his future. And he has many brothers here in this twenty-first century. And I want us to look at the story and we’re going to learn some lessons from it. This is James, Chapter 4, beginning in verse 13:
“Go to now, ye that say, Today or tomorrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain; Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that. But now ye rejoice in your boastings; all such rejoicing is evil. Therefore, to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.”
Now, we’re going to be talking about a man who, in many respects, would be called a successful man in the first century or the twenty-first century. But let me give you a definition of failure before we even get started. And it may be a different definition than you’ve been used to. But failure is succeeding at the wrong thing. Failure is succeeding at the wrong thing. Everybody in this city may be calling you a success and you may be an abysmal failure.
All right. This man made three major mistakes, and I don’t want you to make them. So, as you plan for your future, I want to give you three warnings, and we’ll let each one of them begin with the word beware.
First of all, beware of self-centered planning. Beware of self-centered planning. Now listen to this man. Get inside of his head as he’s planning. He is looking forward to the future in a business endeavor. And first of all, he’s planning the period of time. Look, if you will, in verse 13: “Go to now, ye that say, Today or tomorrow we will enter into such a such a city, and continue there a year…” Now, this man, in his mind, he says, “All right. Today or tomorrow I’m going to go to a city and I’m going to stay there for a year.” So I can see this man. He has his calendar out. He has his pencil sharp. He’s looking at these things. And so he encircles this day and draws a line through this year and he says, “That’s where I’m going to invest my time this coming year.” So he’s planning the period of time. But he’s not finished yet.
He’s also planning the place where he’s going to go. Look at it again in verse 13: “….I will go into such a city…” Now he has all of the cities out there. He’s looking at this city, that city, the advantages here, the advantages there. He says, “That’s the city.” And so on the map, he puts a circle around the city. Over here on the calendar, he has the date underlined. So he has already planned the place, and he has planned the period. But not only that, he goes on to plan something else.
He plans the procedure. Now he’s going to buy and sell. Evidently, he has some marketing scheme. Maybe he has a degree in marketing from the University of Jerusalem. He has a degree in administration, so he has been running the numbers. And he says, “I can buy the product for this and I can sell it for that and I can make a profit.” So he, he has planned. He has planned the period, he’s planned the place, he’s planned the procedure.
He’s also planned the profit. He says, “…I will buy and sell and get gain.” That’s it.
I am going to make a bundle this year, and he’s doing all of this planning. Sounds good to me. It doesn’t like he’s doing anything wrong. The Bible certainly doesn’t condemn business; it encourages it. The Bible certainly doesn’t condemn planning; it encourages it. The Bible is certainly not against making a profit; it encourages all of it. These things are not wrong.