How to Face Your Future

The Book of James  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  34:03
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James 4:13–17 NLT
13 Look here, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we are going to a certain town and will stay there a year. We will do business there and make a profit.” 14 How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone. 15 What you ought to say is, “If the Lord wants us to, we will live and do this or that.” 16 Otherwise you are boasting about your own pretentious plans, and all such boasting is evil. 17 Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it.
Americans have always been forward looking people. right now, people are obsessed with the future. Some people are worried about what’s going on with all the wars. Others are worried about the economy, or their retirements, or families.
People will do all sorts of things to try to forecast the future. tea-leaves; fortune cookies; astrology; palm reading; physic hotline; People read books, go to seminars, to forecast economic predictions.
We attend conferences and take classes on goal setting and planning. It begs the question of
What is the Christian viewpoint toward facing the future?
How am I to relate to it when it happens? What should my reaction be?
In this passage tonight, James talks about how to face the future. He says that there are 3 mistakes that we commonly make that we need to learn about and stop making.

3 Common Mistakes to Avoid

1. Planning without God

James illustrates the first one with a conversation between a couple of businessmen. They are talking and discussing their plans.
James 4:13 NLT
13 Look here, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we are going to a certain town and will stay there a year. We will do business there and make a profit.”
On the surface it looks ok. People make plans every day. These guys made a plan, as do many of us. They plan to go to a city and make some money. There is nothing wrong with making money or even planning.
But notice. There is not a single mention of God in their entire conversation or business plan. He knew what he wanted and planed how to get there, but never consulted God. Once again, planning is good, but this guy forgot to pray about it.
James isn’t saying it’s bad to plan, but he is talking about planning as if God didn’t exist. He forgot to include God.
Article in Readers Digest by Alexander Saul: "Since I have spent well nigh fifty years working on the history of the Russian Revolution, in the process I've collected hundreds of personal testimonies, read hundreds of books, contributed eight volumes of my own. But if I were asked today to formulate as precisely as possible the main cause of the ruinous revolution that swallowed up some sixty million Russians, I could not put it more accurately than to repeat the phrase, `Men have forgotten God.' What is more if I were called upon to identify the principle trait of the entire Twentieth Century I would be unable to reflect anything more precise than this statement, `Men have forgotten God.'"
That’s what James is talking about. You ca be a believer and forget God in your daily life which makes us a practical atheist.
It’s sad to meet someone who says they do not believe in God. It’s even sadder to meet someone who says they believe in god but then acts like He doesn’t exist.
So if you say that you believe in God. Does he have a say in your business? your relationships? your finances? All business is God’s business, so don’t plan without God involved in the process.
The solution is to include God in your planning.
James 4:15 NLT
15 What you ought to say is, “If the Lord wants us to, we will live and do this or that.”
The key word here is “if.” Have you ever made plans only to see the fall through? Of course… we all have. I don’t know what is going to happen tomorrow, but God does, so it’s pretty presumptuous of me to make plans without God’s help.
The starting point to facing the future is to say, God what do you want me to do? What do you want me to NOT do? Planning without prayer is living as if God isn’t real. We probably should begin our planning with the phrase, “if the Lord wants us to.”

There are 3 possible responses to God’s Will.

1. You can make reference to it.
That’s what James is saying here. We admit that God has a will for us and we accept it… acknowledge it… make reference to it.
2. You can show deference to it.
This is where you say that you really want God’s will for your life and accept it into your life.
3. You can show preference to it.
More than anything else, you want God’s will in your life. What God wants becomes your plan.
Proverbs 16:1 GNB
1 We may make our plans, but God has the last word.
Man proposes; God disposes.
Proverbs 16:9 LBP
9 We should make plans—counting on God to direct us.
We need to stop asking God to bless what we are doing. Instead, ask God to help you do what he is already doing and blessing. God is doing a lot of great things all over the place and I just want in on what He is doing.
YFC joining in where God is at work
Planning without God is the first mistake we make.

2. We presume about tomorrow.

We take for granted that we will live forever.
James 4:14 NLT
14 How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone.
James 4:16 NLT
16 Otherwise you are boasting about your own pretentious plans, and all such boasting is evil.
There are a couple of reasons that we do not need to take the future for granted.
1. Life is unpredictable.
How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? None of us know what is going to happen tomorrow, next week or next year. No one saw COVID coming and what it would do. War could break out. Life is unpredictable. some who work on commission do great some months while in others they do not.
Don’t let the fact that life is unpredictable scare you. Just let that drive you to trust God more.
2. Life is brief.
Life is a mist or like the fog. None of us knows how long we will live.
The Bible describes our lives with phrases life a leaf, grass, shadow, cloud, puff of smoke or a vapor. Life is short. Eternity is not.
Isaiah 56:12 NLT
12 “Come,” they say, “let’s get some wine and have a party. Let’s all get drunk. Then tomorrow we’ll do it again and have an even bigger party!”
Do you know anyone with that attitude? Life is great! Let’s party… get drunk… Live it up and have fun. James says that’s not smart to live that way. Solomon says the same thing…
Proverbs 27:1 NLT
1 Don’t brag about tomorrow, since you don’t know what the day will bring.
We love to announce our goals and plans. Next year I am going to…
Having big goals can either be arrogance or big faith. The difference is your motive and whether or not you have been including God.
God says it’s great to have goals, just include Him.
What’s the solution?
The Solution is to live one day at a time.
Matthew 6:34 LBP
34 “So don’t be anxious about tomorrow. God will take care of your tomorrow too. Live one day at a time.
That’s how God wants us to face the future. People who are facing many options will often ask, what do I do next? Just do the next right thing. Live on e day at time.
Plan fo the future, but live in the present. Life is usually what happens while we are planning for something else.
Today is the good ole days you will be talking about in 15 years.
Enjoy today. Make the most of it. Include God in your planning and live each day as if it’s your last.
Spencer Johnson, the man who wrote the book The One Minute Manager wrote another book called The Perfect Present. In this book he said the perfect present is literally the perfect present. The present time. That's all I have. That's all I have to give to this world. Not next hour or next month but right now. That's the gift that God has given to me so I ought to use it. That's all I have -- the present.
Just because the future is uncertain and unsure and brief, doesn't mean you get all uptight and get paralyzed with panic and worry. It's the motivation to trust God more. You put your trust in God -- that's how you face the future. "I don't know what the future holds, but I know Who holds the future." That's what counts.

3. We put off doing good.

James 4:17 NLT
17 Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it.
James is talking about procrastination. I meant to do it… I’m fixing to do it…
We love to put things off. James says that’s a trap. It’s not enough to know what the right thing to do is, we have to do it.
We usually define sin as something like murder; adultery; lying; stealing… those are sins of commission. We commit them.
But then there are different kinds of sin… sins of omission. That’s when we know the right thing to do, but for one reason or another we don’t do it.
Christianity is more than avoiding evil. It’s doing good.
What’s the solution?
The solution is to do it now.
Proverbs 3:27–28 NLT
27 Do not withhold good from those who deserve it when it’s in your power to help them. 28 If you can help your neighbor now, don’t say, “Come back tomorrow, and then I’ll help you.”
If someone comes and asks you for a favor, don’t say … tomorrow I’ll help you. Don’t procrastinate. If at possible do it now.
There are
Three things you can do with your life.
You can Waste it.
There are all sorts of ways to waste your life. Advertisements will show you how to wast your time, your talents and your treasure.
You can spend it.
You can spend all your time trying to get just a little bit more. fame, money, power…
You can invest it.
The best use of your life is to invest it in something that will outlast it.
He is no fool who gives up that which he cannot keep for that which he cannot lose.
The WOG and people are what will last forever. People will live forever either in hell or heaven. How I spend my time now may determine where I spend my eternity. Invest your life in things that will last -- the word of God and people.
Remember the story that Jesus told about the talents? The master gave one talent to one man, five to another and ten to another. He left and came back years later. Two guys had doubled their money. (A talent was a weight of gold.) The third man had taken his gold, buried it in the ground and did nothing with it. The master said, “At least you could have put it in a passbook account and got interest on it!” He said, "You wicked servant!" Why? What had he done? Nothing. That's wickedness. Doing nothing with your life is bad. Make your life count.
God wants us to be proactive. IOW, to do the good works he planned for us.
Whatever you intend to do for the Lord, do it now! Not next week, next month, next year. Thinking about witnessing to a friend and inviting him to church? Do it now! Thinking about teaching a class and getting involved in Bible study? Do it now! Thinking about starting to tithe and giving? Do it now! Do your giving while you're living, then you're knowin' where it's goin'
2 Corinthians 6:2 LBP
2 For God says, “Your cry came to me at a favorable time, when the doors of welcome were wide open. I helped you on a day when salvation was being offered.” Right now God is ready to welcome you. Today he is ready to save you.
When is the best time to get it together with God? Luke 12 Jesus told a story that illustrates what James is teaching in this passage of Scripture. He tells the story about a man who is very successful in life but he made a very foolish decision. He made the same mistakes that James talks about -- all three mistakes. He planned without God. He presumed about tomorrow. He put off doing good.
Luke 12:16–20 NLT
16 Then he told them a story: “A rich man had a fertile farm that produced fine crops. 17 He said to himself, ‘What should I do? I don’t have room for all my crops.’ 18 Then he said, ‘I know! I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones. Then I’ll have room enough to store all my wheat and other goods. 19 And I’ll sit back and say to myself, “My friend, you have enough stored away for years to come. Now take it easy! Eat, drink, and be merry!” ’ 20 “But God said to him, ‘You fool! You will die this very night. Then who will get everything you worked for?’
This guy planned as if there was no God. He presumed about the future. And he didn’t do the next right thing.
You don’t have to worry about things.
I invite you to give your life to Jesus tonight, not because you might die tonight. but because you are going to live tomorrow.
Remember in your planning…
Plan with God.
Don’t presume on tomorrow. But live today and make it count.
Don’t wait to do the right things.
Right now, God is ready for you. You were created to do more than go to work, come home and eat, go to bed and get back up and go to work all over again.
What are your plans for the future? Have you set days, marked your calendar, scheduled appointments and then prayed, "By the way, God, I want You to bless my life." God says that's practical atheism. The person who acts as if God doesn't exist in his planning is no different than the person who doesn't believe He exists. Does God have a say in your schedule or do you just fill it up? Does God have a priority in your planning?
Let's get specific. Have you talked to God about how you're going to retire? Or have you just thought you can do it any way you want to? Have you talked to God about your plans to go back to school, to get that degree? Have you talked to God about your plans to get married, to get divorced, to date, to remain single? Don't you think He's interested in those kinds of things? He is. Have you talked to God about your business? A career change? Your investments and how you spend your money?
James is saying that none of us have any right to just plan our lives as if God doesn't even care. Check in with Him first. Consult Him.
Do you have a tendency to take tomorrow for granted? "There will always be time to spend time with my kids. Right now we're just trying to make ends meet. Once we reach a certain economic level, then I'm going to spend more time with my husband/wife." Right! What starts out as a temporary condition ends up as a permanent lifestyle. People are going 100 miles an hour, bringing in the bucks. And then once they have them, there are no relationships left.
If you only had a week left, how would you spend it? What would you do with your husband, wife, children?
God says, live each day and each week as if it were your last. Don't get morbid about it. And plan for the future. But you can only live right now. That's what counts.
The number one way we presume on tomorrow is credit buying. An undue amount of credit buying is presumption on the future. "We can afford it. Things are only going to get better!" That's presuming on tomorrow. Live each day as if it were your last. James says you don't know what is going to happen.
Is God a partner in your business? How? Prove it. How do you know if God's a partner in your business? Simple. Does He get part of the profits? Whoever heard of a business partnership where one partner took all the profits? I know there are men who tithe not only on their personal account but on their business account. They say, "God's in my business so we tithe on the profits of my business income." They write two checks a week.
What have you been knowing that you ought to do and you know is the right thing to do but you've just been putting it off? ..."Someday I'll get around to it." James says, “Do it now.” Right now! Don't wait. "Someday I'm going to give my life totally to God." Why not today? There's not a better time.
Salvation Prayer
Decide to include God in your planning. Ask him to help you. Others need to plan for tomorrow but live today. Trust God. Maybe you need to ask God to help you stop putting off what you know He is calling you to do.
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