Summary: What determines things in life? Chance, fate, karma? Who determines things in life? Me, others, Satan? God is the great Determinator.
INTRODUCTION: What actually determines things in life? Is it just luck? Is it karma? Is it Fate? Does everything happen simply by chance or coincidence? Although Arnold Schwarzenaggar was the Terminator, he was not the de-terminator. And neither are some others we’ll be talking about. We will discover how God is the only Determinator.
1) I am not the determinator. James 4:13-17. We often think that we are able to predict the future. We have a plan in place and are determined to carry it out. We are arrogant enough to think that we are calling the shots. We’re smart, we’ve got it all figured out; we know what we’re doing. We become overconfident, thinking that tomorrow is a guarantee. We want to think that we are our own determinator. We go where we want, do what we want; thinking we’re the ones in control. I’m the authority. First of all we’re wrong. Second, we’re not humble. And third, we’re not thinking of God’s will. When we run ahead of God we are depriving ourselves from learning what’s best for us. And we’re also not dealing with reality. We boast and brag about what will happen tomorrow as if we are the ones who determine what will happen tomorrow. Sometimes we put off what we could do today saying; “I’ll do it tomorrow.” We shouldn’t put off until tomorrow what we know we should be accomplishing today. We rarely conduct our affairs according to the phrase, “What if tomorrow never comes?” We put off sharing Christ with a specific person thinking, “I’ll get another chance somewhere down the line; no big deal.” I’m not saying that we should live in panic mode every day worrying if today is the last day. And I’m not saying we shouldn’t plan for the future. But the point of this passage in James is to make sure that we aren’t overconfident. We need to be humble and always seek God’s will for us today.
2) Others are not the determinator. Matt. 10:28-31. God determines when the sparrow dies. God will determine when it’s your time to die. Man may be allowed to take my life, but man does not make that determination. God determines what is allowable, not man. Jesus said, “Do not be afraid.” Too often we are controlled by this emotion. We go around fearful and about what could happen to us or worried about what someone might do to us. We don’t have to live like this. We don’t have to conduct our life according to the big, looming phrase, “what if?” This doesn’t mean we live a carefree life with reckless abandon, but we don’t have to avoid life either. We don’t purposely walk into dangerous territory to test God, but we walk by faith, knowing if God is sending me into harsh surroundings to do his will, I don’t need to be afraid, because other people don’t determine my fate, God does. When my work is done, God will take me home, but if it’s not, I will remain. 2nd Tim. 3:10-11. What were some of the things Paul was rescued from? 2nd Cor. 11:23-27. It’s obvious that Paul’s ministry involved many dangerous situations. But God rescued him from all of those. The people that put Paul in these dangerous predicaments were not the determinators. Jesus went through death defying situations too. In Luke 4, the people in the synagogue were furious with Jesus because he rebuked them for rejecting him. 4:28-30. God allowed Jesus to be put in this deadly position. But Jesus didn’t fret, he just walked through the crowd and went on his way. In John 8, the Jews were upset with Jesus because they felt he was guilty of blasphemy. The penalty for that was being stoned to death. Verse 59 says they picked up stones to stone him. Here again, Jesus was allowed to experience this near death situation. One would think at this point that Jesus was as good as dead. Instead, the rest of verse 59 says that Jesus hid himself and slipped away. Earlier in John 7, some other people were upset at Jesus and they tried to seize him. But verse 30 says that no one could lay a hand on him, because his time had not yet come. Jesus and Paul proved that if it’s not your time, it’s not your time. Therefore, we don’t need to be afraid of others because they are not the determinators.
3) Satan is not the determinator. In Job 1, we read about Satan and God discussing Job. God speaks highly of Job while Satan tries to cut him down. God allows Job to be tested. But, there was a stipulation. Job 1:12. Likewise, in chapter 2, Satan was at it again. God allowed the second test, but again, it was conditional. 2:6. Satan was allowed to go only as far as God determined he could go. You can be sure that Satan would’ve liked nothing more than to have been let off his leash to do everything he pleased to poor Job and in the end, take his life. But God showed that He was in control. What we learn from this account is that although we may be afflicted, it will never get beyond what God allows. Satan desires to devour us, but God is our great protector. Although it didn’t seem like he was protecting Job, he was. God was protecting Job from what Satan really wanted to do to him. We need to thank God that Satan is on a leash. Because I can guarantee you, you may think you’ve had it bad, but if God took Satan off his leash and said, go ahead, do whatever you want, we would all be in such bad shape we would all look like Job; perhaps worse. But thank God that Satan is not then determinator.