Summary: Ninth in a series on the book of James. Deals with both the right and wrong ways to deal with the future.


Sermon # 9

“Right and Wrong Ways To Deal With the Future”

James 4:13-17

Mankind has always demonstrated an almost insatiable desire to know the future. Psychics in this country rake in millions of dollars annually because people want to know what the future holds. Probably every major newspaper in this country runs a daily horoscope for its readers.

Even Christians are fascinated by a desire to know what the future holds. Dwight Pentecost, a long time faculty member of Dallas Seminary, is held by many to be a premier scholar on biblical prophecy. He stated that when he spoke on some subject other than prophecy the attendance at his meetings was greatly diminished. He related that he had made a study of the New Testament of every reference to the second coming of Christ. In his study he stated “I was struck anew with the fact that almost without exception, when the second coming of Christ is mentioned in the New Testament, it is followed by an exhortation to godliness and holy living.” [Charles Swindoll. The Tale of the Tardy Oxcart and 1,501 Other Stories.(Nashville: Word, 1998) p. 227]

That is exactly the point that James is making, knowing the future is not near as important as being prepared for the future.

Perhaps all of us know at least one person who claims to be an atheist. Although I must admit that it seems odd to me that someone would take the time to take a stand against something or someone that they say does not exist.

The concept of atheism is still a strange idea to most of us! Atheism is of course the denial of the existence of God. The word atheist is made up of two Greek words theos – God and a – the letter of negation and thus the meaning of “no god.” Scripture refers to those people in this way, “the fool hath said in his heart there is no God.” Psalm 14:1.

Avowed Atheist, are not that prevalent even in our modern world. But perhaps one of the most prevalent sins of our modern day is simply leaving God out of our lives. When one talks, plans and even implements those plans with a total disregard for the will of God, regardless of what they may say they believe, that man is in practice an atheist. The test of what one believes is not found in what one says, but in how one lives. Many people today profess to believe in God, but nevertheless continue to live as if there were not.

We discovered last week that it is a wonderful thing to live in uncommon grace.

But there is a tendency to live with the benefits of God’s grace, yet not acknowledge it. It is all too easy to get to the point as a Christian that you start living as if God does not matter. Now of course we would never say that in words, yet we live like it. We can get so use to the grace of God that we take it for granted. Some has suggested that the steps are that we

•Experience Grace

•Become Accustomed to Grace

•Expect Grace

•Finally we think we deserve Grace

The situation attitudes the James addresses in this passage are not so very different from the attitudes of today, when people live in total disregard for the wishes of an all-knowing and all-powerful God. In this passage we see both right and wrong ways to deal with the future.

The Wrong way to Deal with the Future

Three Common Mistakes in Dealing With the Future.

Mistake Number One: Planning Without God. (v. 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”;

What is under consideration here is not open defiance of God, but of an utter disregard for God. This is an attitude of arrogant self-sufficiency. It is possible for one to acknowledge God’s existence with their mouth and yet live their daily life in such a fashion as to deny in a practical way all that they say.

James rebukes this arrogant self-sufficiency by saying, “come now,” today we would say, “Oh, come on now.” It is a plea for re-examination, expresses disapproval of this way of thinking.

It is directed to “you who say,” literally

it is “the ones continuing to say.” The present tense signifies that it is a habitually practice that needs to be corrected.

By rehearsing their plans he reveals that they treat the future as something that they can not only know, but have control over. At least in their minds the plans have already been implemented. They have decided on a precise time, “today or tomorrow,” a part-icular place, “such a city,” the predetermined duration of the stay, “spend a year there,” the planned activity, “buy and sell,” and the profit they expect to gain, “and make a profit.” The complete picture is one in which the will of God is not even considered. These men who undoubtedly are decent, respect-able, even consider themselves religious men, but in their daily lives they live as if God had no place in their plans. To thus live independently of God is to live as an atheist regardless of the beliefs one may say that they hold dear.

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