"Where Do You Place Your Confidence?"
In the Sermon on the Mount, people worried about what tomorrow may bring. Here in James, people take confidence in their tomorrow. The truth is we don't have control over tomorrow.
Where Do You Place Your Confidence?
A. If you are like me there are times when you read your Bible you know God is speaking directly to you . Sometimes I believe God is cheering on something I am doing well for Him and other times I believe God is trying to help me see life from His perspective instead of mine. Those are the more difficult times.
B. Luke 12 has an extended section where God challenges me to think beyond my finite mind about eternity. In this section Jesus is asked to step into a family squabble about money, inheritance, and his response challenge the way people view this life (READ Luke 12:15) Then Jesus tells this parable (READ Luke 12:16-21).
C. It was Robert Burns who wrote, “The best laid schemes of mice and men often go askew.” In that poem, he is dealing with the idea that when we plan for the future, things don’t always turn out as expected.
D. I am a planner; I am also a procrastinator, but a procrastinating planner is oxymoronic. James deals with a similar concept to the parable Jesus told. As we had in our reading, some people place their confidence in the future and make plans like tomorrow is guaranteed, but we all know it is not. Too many people made plans for their future only to face a sickness or disease that caused that plan to go askew.
E. Let’s spend a little time walking with James about life now and the future to come.
A. Listen to James 4:13. Here is a person whose life is centered on what they will get in this life. It is about getting more, just like the parable Jesus told us. Do you see the twenty-first century America in this? The Stock Market crash of 1929 or 1987 or 2008 sent many people spinning because they had planned for their economic future only to be told it was gone. Panic set in with many of us in 2008.
B. It is not a sin to plan for the future. The sin is planning without God’s will being a part of the process. The sin is making this world’s pleasures your goal. And James puts reality right in the middle of this.
C. READ verse 14. I love the musical “Annie.” It’s a great feel good, utopian story, and the signature song is, “Tomorrow.” The words simply say, “The sun will come out tomorrow, bet your bottom that tomorrow, there’ll be sun.” But here’s the question, “How do you know that?”
D. The news that my mother had pancreatic cancer when she was 65 hit our family hard. The thought that she only had months to live changed lives. My parents had been married 45 years and had plans on what to do when they retired. But everything changed with that diagnosis. You don’t know what tomorrow will bring.
II. If The Lord Wills
A. If you want to know a man’s heart, listen to his private prayers. When Jesus prays in the garden we hear the heart of our savior in anguish. “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” (Mark 14:35-36) When Jesus talked about prayer, he taught that we should pray, “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” These are not simply good words to say, but the idea behind them, the conviction, is that God has the final say on everything and the future is in his hands.
B. Listen to James 4:15. The phrase “If the Lord wills” is a surrendering of our own view of control to the better view of God being in control. James teaches us that God governs what we accomplish. Not only are our lives in his hands, our success is in his hands.
C. READ verse 16. The boasting and arrogance is believing we really are in control of what tomorrow will bring. It is how a Christian can live like an atheist. It is when the Christian professes God but lives like God is in a part of this life. That is presumptuous and arrogant.
III. Sin of Omission
A. READ James 4:17.
B. “Knowing the right thing to do” (ESV) or “knowing the good he ought to do” (NIV) is when you and I do know the will of God but choose to not do it. It is sometimes called “sins of omission.” We often talk about sins that we commit and how difficult it is to break a sinful habit or action, but James talks about sinning by not doing what we should.
C. The best illustration of sins of omission is told by Jesus himself. In Matt. 25 Jesus talks about separating the sheep and the goats and then describes those who will be condemned on Judgement Day. (READ Matt. 25:41-45)
D. There was no sin committed against these needy people—they were not intentionally starved or deprived of their clothing. But the sin of omission was committed when those who could have provided for them chose not to.
A. Ira Stanphill wrote a song and the words of the chorus says: “Many things about tomorrow, I don’t seem to understand. But I know who hold tomorrow, and I know who hold my hand.” I just want to say, “Amen” to that chorus.
B. Let close by telling you that we put our hope and trust in that one who holds tomorrow. When you walk out of here today you don’t what will life will bring, except that if you are in Christ you walking towards glory. Your future is placed securely in the one whose has given us all things we need for life and godliness. It is in him and to him and through him that we live today and will live with him for all tomorrows. If we can help you to have that strength and hope in your walk, then come as we stand and sing.