In truth, man just doesn’t know what the future holds. People spend millions of dollars per year calling psychics and visiting palm readers to no avail. They still don’t know any more than they did. By the way, did this thought ever occur to you: If those psychics know so much about the future; why don’t they know you are going to call, and why don’t they call you first? We are able to look backward fairly clearly on the past, but we cannot look forward into the future at all.
To my mind, it is a great blessing to know that God has veiled the future. If we were able to see it, then our lives would be altered. If we knew that prosperity was coming, we would live carelessly. If we knew that adversity or trouble was the forecast, then we would live with constant anxiety and fear. Man would die a thousand deaths before his physical death ever arrived.
Certainly, God is good to keep the future a secret. James deals with this idea in these verses. He tells his readers that even though they cannot know the future, they should deal with it honestly. They are told not to presume on a future which they can not control, or makes plans regarding the future without taking God into consideration. They are also told not to postpone until the future those things God has commanded to be done today.
There were mistakes being made by these early believers that many in our day still make. I would like to share these three mistakes with you in an effort to prevent us from falling into the same trap into which these folks fell. I would like for us to look into these verses together for a few minutes as I preach on the thought: Avoiding Future Mistakes.
One of the best known atheists in American history was a woman named Madelyn Murray O’Hair. She was responsible for prayer being removed from the public schools in this country. Miss O’Hair, along with her son and granddaughter were murdered for their money some years ago. But, during her life she was famous because she was an atheist. She said that she did not believe in God. She was an intellectual atheist, she said, “I do not believe that God exists.”
You may recall many years ago now when the first Russian Cosmonauts went into space and returned. Listen to what one of them said when he returned from his journey in outer space, “Some people say there is a God out there, but in my travels around earth all day long I looked around and I didn’t see him. I saw no God, nor angels, I don’t believe in God.” Well, if he’d stepped out of that capsule he’d have seen God within five seconds and he would have known that there was a God! But, he was an intellectual atheist, he said, “I do not believe that there is a God.”
Did you know that there is another kind of atheist? And, did you know that some are sitting on these pews today? You see, an intellectual atheist says, “I do not believe that there is a God.” They are honest, and while I disagree with them, I can respect an honest person. The other kind of atheist is called a “practical atheist.” While an intellectual atheist says there is no God; a practical atheist knows there is a God, but lives as if He does not exist.
Everyone here believes that there is a God and you are here to honor that fact. However, is it not safe to say that many are living their lives as if there was no God? Is it not safe to say that many here are doing as they please; living as if God did not exist; making plans and living life with no regard for the Lord’s will? If you fall into that category, you are a practical atheist. You may believe in God, but you live as if He does not matter! My friend that is a dangerous way to live your life! You will get into trouble if you continue to follow that path!
God has a wonderful plan for your life. And, as His child, your first consideration ought to be, “What would God have me do with my life? What is the Lord’s will in this situation?” The thought mentioned in verse 15 is worthy of note. All of the future is in the hand of the Lord. Your best course of action in this life is to find the Lord’s will for your life and follow it to the letter. You will find the Lord’s will by submitting to Him, Rom. 12:1-2.)
When we fail to acknowledge God and His leadership for our future, we are living in pride. We must do nothing, plan nothing and attempt to bring nothing to pass without first seeking the Lord’s will in the matter. What I want is immaterial. What God wants is material. For what I want may never come to pass, but what He wants will always be done. Whatever we do, we need to be sure that God’s goals are our goals and that we always maintain a proper view of the future. Have you been guilty of these things? Planning and leaving God out? Let’s not be guilty of the sin of pride and presumption. But, rather, let us learn to trust the Lord and submit to His will for our lives. We must never leave God out of our planning.)
AVOID THE MISTAKE OF FOOLISH PRESUMPTIONS
They Failed To Grasp The Complexity Of Life – They counted on too many things going just the right way. Life is filled with too many variables. How could they know what the future held? How can we believe that we do? Notice their “I will’s” – This was the main characteristic of Satan’s rebellion – Isa. 14:13-15.)
Some time ago, a Senate Sub-committee made the following predictions: Men will be working 22 hour weeks, 27 weeks per year and will retire by age 38. This was predicted in 1967, for the future. The year all this was to happen? 1985! They certainly did miss that one!) The fact is no one can know what will happen!
They Failed To Grasp The Uncertainties Of Life – Their statements in v. 13 – These people seem so certain regarding what is going to happen.) Nobody knows what curve life will throw you tomorrow. (Death, illness, accident or injury, etc.) V. 15-16 All of life is subject to God’s will, not mine or yours! The future is best left in His hands. People ignore God when they make their plans because they are afraid that God will get in the way – Matt. 6:31-33. And, He will! People would do well to remember that even with our best laid plans, our lives, our futures and all that we have and are, are in the hands of Almighty God. Only He knows what the future holds. Therefore, the advice given in verses 15 is of note. The phrase “If the Lord wills…” should be more than a catch word with believers. It should be a way of life!
When Napoleon Bonaparte mentioned to a friend his plans to invade Russia, the man tried to dissuade him by warning, “Man proposes, but God disposes.” Napoleon replied, “I dispose as well as propose.” The arrogant move of Napoleon was ultimately the turning point of his own downfall. He learned that while man may propose his plans, only God could bring them to fruition. So man must bow the stubbornness of his heart to the wisdom and might of the divine will.)
They Failed To Grasp The Brevity Of Life – At its very best, life is terribly short. How could these people know whether or not they would be alive tomorrow, much less next year? Death is coming and it comes suddenly and unannounced!
The Rich Farmer – Luke 12:19 – His mistake? He planned his future without God. He presumed on years that he had not seen!)
AVOID THE MISTAKE OF FOOLISH POSTPONEMENTS
Procrastination is nothing new. There are a couple of notable examples in the Old Testament times:
1.) Pharaoh – Ex. 8:10
2.) Belshazzar – Dan. 5:1-31
If we know that the end of life is coming, and if we know that it may come sooner than later, we are fools if we do not prepare. There are two areas of life where this is vitally important.
The matter of salvation – 2 Cor. 6:2; Pro. 27:1 – The pits of Hell are filled with men and women who said, “I’ll do it later.” The problem with that is the fact that later may never come! Felix and his procrastination – Acts 24:24-27.)
A certain king sent for his court jester one day and presented him with a stick. He said, “Take this stick and keep it until you find a bigger fool than yourself.” When he was lying on his deathbed, the king once again sent for his jester. “I am going away,” the king said. “Where?” asked the jester, “to another country,” replied the king. “What provisions has your majesty made for this journey and for living in the country whither thou goest?” the jester asked. “None,” was the answer. The jester handed the stick to the king. “Take it,” he said. “I have finally found a bigger fool than myself, for I only trifle with the things of time while you have trifled with the things of eternity.”
The matter of service – When we put off what we know we ought to do, in the Lord’s work, it is sin! It is the sin of omission. There is a price to pay for this sin – Luke 12:47-48. There are some very important areas where we need to act and act today:
We are to obey God’s commands – The time to live for Jesus is now! A better day and more opportune time may never present itself. The time to witness, to preach, the worship, to go in His name is now. The time to work is now, John 9:4. The time to do good is now – Pro. 3:27-28.)
We are to surrender to God’s will – Where are the Isaiah’s who will hear the call of God and say, “Here am I; send me”? The time to serve Him is now. The time to go all out for Jesus is now.