The Tomorrow War
There is this movie on Amazon Prime called the “Tomorrow War.”
In this movie Dan Forester (Chris Pratt) is a former special forces soldier who is a biology teacher now. He is struggling in his career and just in a difficult situation.
He is watching tv with his family when there is a portal opened up on the soccer field.
This is people from the future, year 2051, coming back for help in this war they are fighting. They have been engrossed in this war since 2048, when the aliens arrived, and the earth’s population is nearly depleted. They came back for soldiers to help fight this war.
Pratt is drafted and taken to the future to fight this war. Most everyone who goes for their seven-day tour of duty do not return. The movie goes through many twists and turns as the story develops. It is interesting and quite good really if you are into action movies that are pretty clean from sex and language.
But with the future travel and everything the people finally figure out the solution is in the present not the future.
These people had an advantage we do not, they had the future come tell them what was to be expected. They were warned of exactly what the future held for them. They knew what was in store, where we do not. We have no idea what the future holds.
Even though this is true, we still try and live our lives like we know exactly what it holds.
James states that this is the ultimate form of arrogance and pride. It is because when we say what our future holds, we have taken God out and placed ourselves in His place.
That is why he begins this section with an emphatic “Come now...” He is saying in effect, ‘you all who think you can do this here, listen closely because you cannot because you have no control.”
But we want to have control. We want to do what we want. We want our lives to be exactly what we want them to be. Yet, we have no idea what the next second holds much less the next year.
We do not have people from the future to come back and tell us what happens. We can only trust God and lean on Him to carry us along every day.
And this is what we see in James 4:13-17
13 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— 14 yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. 15 Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” 16 As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. 17 So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.
This section is so practical and so easily fits us today. It does because many are…
Trying to Control Life(13)
Trying to Control Life(13)
We all desire to control what happens in our lives. We do this in the schools we attend, the jobs we apply to, the person we date or marry, the food we eat, the vehicle we drive, and many other things.
We want to control all aspects of our lives all the while not knowing what is coming down the road to us. James was dealing with this same thing with the early believers. He is telling them that trying to say emphatically what you will do in the future is wrong and foolish.
It is because we have no control of what today will even bring. This section has a strong connection to Jas. 1:9-11 , In that section James wrote of the rich man and his pursuits. He wrote of how it will all fade and disappear even the rich man.
Basically James is saying we have no control even though we try to control everything in our lives.
The first way we do this is we try
Making Plans Without God
In verse 13 James is dressing them down for saying “Today and/or tomorrow we will go and do such and such.” They did not say we maybe will, we will try and do, we are planning if all is right, but “we will.”
There is no acknowledgement to God or anything, just a sure fired self-sufficiency. They are so certain they will go and do they disregard God completely.
How often do we do this exact thing? We may not be seeking material wealth like the recipients of this letter, but I am certain many are. But we are saying in a year I am going to have this horse ready for that big sale. I am going to have myself ready for that marathon. I am going to have myself in a position where I can do more traveling.
There is one common theme in that, “I am” not God willing or by God’s grace I will, just “I am.”
This is what James is saying. Come now you who say. Come now stop that. Who are you to say you will do such and such. It is not God glorifying but self-glorifying and self-seeking when we say these things. It is us
Seeking Material Over God
The recipients were set to go and make profit. James is not saying that we should not have wise business plans for the future. No, we are to do so. Proverbs 6:6-11 tells us to look to the ant and prepare in times of plenty for times of less. Yet, in Luke 12:16-21 the rich fool had plenty and decided to tear down his barns and build bigger barns to store all his grain in so he could have ample for years to come and do nothing but enjoy that. Yet, God said his soul was required of him that night. He died in his illustrious plans.
We need to be prepared for bad situations in life but not plan to be extravagant. In Proverbs the author is telling the reader to work and plan for the future because you do not know what the future brings. This man from the parable in Luke was planning His future he was laying out exactly what his future would bring.
That is what James is telling these people not to do. It is not wrong to make plans for your business. That is good and proper. It is not wrong to plan to make money in business. That is good and proper. What is wrong is not what was said, but what was not said. There is no though for God. He does not even get an acknowledgement.
This is the height of arrogance to plan and design your future without acknowledging God.
This is the case because of…
The Uncertainty of Life (14)
The Uncertainty of Life (14)
James delivers the reason here. “You do not know what tomorrow brings.” We have no idea what tomorrow will bring. We do not know what the next second will bring.
Yes, we may have an idea because of what has happened before many different times, but we do not know with certainty. James tells us that our life is a vapor. It is brief like the breath that exits your mouth on a cold morning. Here a second and gone the next.
Life is just like that mist or vapor. It is brief. Some breath vapors hang around longer than others, and others are shorter. We do not know. What we do know is…
Life is Unpredictable
This word vapor we have addressed already carries the meaning of meaningless and nothingness. This means that life is only meaningful with God. If we seek to do it without Him, we are living a vain and meaningless life. Just like Ecclesiastes tells us, Vanity of vanities, life is vanity. He is saying that life is a vapor it is useless without God.
This means that life is brief and uncertain but it is also a gift. We have every minute we have as a gift. It is not deserved but a gift.
Our life begins without our knowledge and say and it ends the same way. So we have no reason to think we can control the future anymore than we controlled our beginning. We are not sure if something will work because the market may crash, the car my breakdown, horses become crippled, and many other things.
We have no control yet we desire to have control. We cannot control what we do not know or understand. Life is to unpredictable. It is unpredictable in many ways. One is…
Life is Short
We do not know the time we have. It may be 100 years or 100 seconds or any age between. Even though this is true, we still try to control it. We try and make life our possession and make it submit to us, when we cannot do that. James is saying you have no control over this because you have no idea what tomorrow brings. Jesus told us in the Sermon on the Mount in Matt 6:34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”
We need not burden ourselves with what tomorrow will bring because we cannot control that.
Yes, there are things we can help avoid and stop if we do things right now. We can avoid a DWI if we do not drink and drive, we can help the culture be better if we share Christ with many and help grow many people in Him. But we cannot determine if we will be here in a years time to see that to fruition. So we make the best of the time we have by living every minute we have for the Lord.
That game is not that important, that fence may be able to wait until later, that movie can be seen later, that rodeo, roping, barrel race, bronc riding, can all be done later and if not it was not that important. The Lord is more than them, time with family is more than all that. Live every day as it may be your last but in living it like that live it for the Lord.
We have seen much tragedy lately. A good friend of mine lost his fiance age 36 this last week. In the same incident another man, 43, lost his life too. A Hollywood actress, age 53, passed this last week. Another good friends mother, age 50, passed earlier this month. Last week Marvin, age 75, passed. We do not know when it will happen. It can happen now and we would not know until we opened our eyes in eternity.
Our Lives are a Gift, a blessing, but not something God is obligated to keep and continue.
It is because of this that I beg, not ask, but beg you today if you have not believed in Jesus for your eternal salvation to do so now. He is offering and He wants you to believe. He died was buried and rose again for the forgiveness of sins. He did the work. He promises you everlasting life. He prepares you a place. He will come for you again. Believe because as the list of people I just mentioned show, we do not know when we will die.
But to do this means we must…
Avoid Self-Sufficiency in Life (15-17)
Avoid Self-Sufficiency in Life (15-17)
James concludes this section telling us that we should say that we will do what we do if God wills it.
This is not just tacking on if God wills to every sentence we say. No, this is living our lives in the light of the gift of life God has given us. We are thankful every day for this gift and we submit all of our lives to Him in it. We live in a manner that shines Him in all we do. We are no longer saying I,I, I, I, but God is in control and if this is what is to be it will happen.
It is not us, it is Him. It is what He does, not what we do. That is why we are told to avoid self-sufficiency. James says even though, as it is, you still boast in your arrogance. But the one who knows what is right and does wrong is in sin.
He is telling us…
Self-Confidence is Worthless
It is worthless because we are not powerful enough to do anything. We cannot change the future or make anything be what we want it to be. We try and we get mad when it is not. That is because we are resting on our ability and ourselves as god. We can’t be God.
But we can live a full and complete life when we submit our self-sufficient ideas to God. We can live a life that loves and cherishes every moment we have when we submit it to God.
But any attempt to take charge of our future apart from the sovereignty of God is arrogance. It is worthless because it is apart from God and that is a meaningless.
Much like when our children plan to have ice cream for breakfast. They planned it, they have it all worked out. But you see this and say, “No way, you aren’t eating ice cream for breakfast.” They cry and squawk that it is not fair that they cannot eat that. But their plans are not the right plan and they do not get what they want but what is right.
This is us. We do the same thing when we do not get what we want and planned. We cry and moan and squawk over our failed plans. Maybe, just maybe, those plans were not God’s plans. Maybe, just maybe, those plans were all your self-sufficiency.
That is why we must…
Boast in God Alone
All boasting in self is evil, James says. It is because it rejects God and places us as God.
We may not think that but it does. James lets the recipients know that they know what is right and for them to ignore this and fail to do it, it was sin. They would be in open rebellion to God if they claimed to control their future and boast in their prowess over God.
We may not think this is what we are doing but it is. We say to God when we say this is what we are going to do and we do not seek Him or His will on it, that we do not need you God. I can do all I need to do alone and I do not need you.
This is not what we should do. We should fear God and strive to always want to do what He says, and seek His will.
When we do we can be more joyous because when our plans fall through, as they so often do, we can say that it is all okay because it was not the right plan apparently. We can rest in God’s wisdom and guidance and trust Him in all things.
“The everyday aspects of life—work, pleasure, relationships, money, and so on—are outside of our control, but they are under God’s control.” (Samra, Jim. James, 1 & 2 Peter, and Jude, 64).
When we fear God and seek Him, we can have peace. Fearing God basically means, “to allow God’s will to guide and direct us through life, to ask him for wisdom, and to not make plans without consulting him.” (Samra, 64).
When we do this, we will have more Joy. We will have more peace. We will have more control in our lives because we are not trying to force things that do not belong. We will live more for God and less for selves and that is what will carry us through all things.
We cannot control our lives, because life is uncertain, and since it is self-sufficiency is pathetic and worthless. Take for example this story from a former president.
In 1846 former president John Quincy Adams suffered a stroke. Although he returned to Congress the following year, his health was clearly failing. Daniel Webster described his last meeting with Adams: "Someone, a friend of his, came in and made particular inquiry of his health. Adams answered, 'I inhabit a weak, frail, decayed tenement; battered by the winds and broken in upon by the storms, and from all I can learn, the landlord does not intend to repair.'" (Today in the Word, April 11, 1992., http://www.sermonillustrations.com/a-z/d/death.htm).
This is the future we all will have, if the Lord tarries and does not take us out of here first.
We do not know when. It may be today, tomorrow, or many years from now, but it is inevitable that we will all die.
As I said earlier, I beg you to not walk out that door back there without believing in Jesus today. He is the only answer to life, He is the only way to live. He died for us and bore ll the shame and guilt and punishment we deserved.
You are not guaranteed tomorrow, believe today. Believe and receive everlasting life. You may be cut short in years and if you have not believed your end will be a sad, sad, sad, state.
Think again of those you have lost over the years. Many were young, some middle aged, and some old. Yet, all went to the grave whether ready or not. We are not promised tomorrow. We are not promised the next second. So, today before you say I will believe in Jesus tomorrow or later, know that you may not have tomorrow.
I do not want to be pushy but I would be failing my Savior if I do not tell you that your very life depends on your belief in Jesus. Believe today before you do not have the time.