Deep Creek Baptist Church
Sunday August 7
- This Is My Father's World
- God Be Merciful To Me (Psalm 51A)
- God Be Merciful To Me (Psalm 51A)
- All Glory Be To Christ
- INTRODUCTION:I read a compelling book several years ago called “The Christian Atheist: Believing in God but Living as if He Doesn’t Exist.” Here’s how it begins:“Hi, my name is Craig Groeschel, and I’m a Christian Atheist. For as long as I can remember, I’ve believed in God, but I haven’t always lived as he exists…you might think it’s odd for a pastor to struggle with living like there is no God. However, in my corner of the world, Christian Atheism is a fast-spreading spiritual pandemic, which can poison, sicken, and even kill eternally. Yet Christian Atheism is extremely difficult to recognize, especially by those who are infected.”We’re going to see from today’s text how common it is for Christians to be infected with this self-centered sickness. As we read James 4:13-17, let’s ask this question: Am I living my life as if there is no God?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.”Here’s where we’re headed today:Verse 13 provides the symptoms of our disease:James 4:13 (ESV)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”—This person makes plans without any regard for God’s purposes.Tone changes in this passage – 'Come Noe you say -mYou Listen up..– you had better pay attention.His tone becomes a little more abrupt and brusque.As we look at this passage I want us to understand there is:The Problem: Prideful Living that Ignores God.That presumption is this, we are in control and masters of our own fate while here on this earth.We determine we will let God handle our eternal fate but we that we are capable of handling our earthly faith just fine without Him.We are given the illustration – probably not fictitious – of a 1st century business man. He is a 1st century wheeler and dealer.His tribe is alive and well today.This guy was no slacker. He was no dummy.If we saw him today we would say –this guy is bright – industrious – hard working – intelligent and ambitious.We would admire him.We would see him as a person who has it all together.He would be a poster-child for a successful businessman and up and coming CEO.These business people had a solid business plan – they had a place, a program and a purpose.It seemed like they had everything figured out – or almost everything.The phrase, “you who say” is in the present tense, meaning they said these kinds of things all the time.• When: “today or tomorrow”• Where: “such and such a town”• How long: “spend a year”• What: “and trade”• Why: “make a profit”In all their planning,they left out the most important – the “who.” God was nowhere in their plans.They wereself-absorbed,self-assured,self-confident, self-sufficient,self-indulgentand self-centered.Notice they said, “we will go…” as if nothing can slow them down.I’m reminded of the five “I wills” spoken by Lucifer which led to his banishment from heaven inIsaiah 14:13-14: “13 You said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; above the stars of God I will set my throne on high; I will sit on the mount of assembly in the far reaches of the north; 14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.’”• I will ascend to heaven; above the stars of God• I will set my throne on high• I will sit on the mount of assembly• I will ascend above the heights of the clouds• I will make myself like the Most HighMaking plans is a good thing,but planning without acknowledgement of the Almightyis presumptuous and puts you in a precarious position.You look at that – especially those of you in the business world – you are thinking there is nothing wrong with that. That is good planning. That is good business. What is wrong with that? In all honesty I would have to say – nothing. There is nothing wrong with what he did.- Bible is not against order and planning – it is for it.Plan for your futures.Look further out than today.- Bible is not against hard work – it is for it.- Bible is not against investing – it is for it.Plan your retirement, estate, expand your business and invest your money wisely.- Bible is not against your making a profit and having money/wealth – it is for it.Your pastor's for it – make more money (don't let it become your God)and then tithe and give sacrificially.The problem is not what he did but what he did not do.This man is not placed before us as a bad example because he was interested in and successful at businessbut because he was not interested in God.He made his plans but God was nowhere to be found in them.The problem is we have a man who – supposedly – is a man of faith and has somehow managed to plan his life out without any reference to God. If we are a people of true and genuine faith then that faith invades every – should invade – every arena of life.Perspectives We Should Believe and Practice.Live as if today is the last day of your life.James 4:14 “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.”Let’s ponder the brevity of life from the Book of Psalms.• Psalm 89:47: “Remember how short my time is!”• Psalm 90:10: “The years of our life are seventy, or even by reason of strength eighty; yet their span is but toil and trouble; they are soon gone, and we fly away.”• Psalm 102:3: “For my days pass away like smoke...”• Psalm 144:4: “Man is like a breath; his days are like a passing shadow.”It’s rather prideful to live your life as if it’s going to last forever here,and that what’s most important is earthly gain now.It’s prideful to live as if you determine your days insteadof acknowledging that the days you have left are in God’s hands.In contrast, the humble person is one that knows his days are numbered by God, and so he lives every one of them for what’s eternally valuable.Because life is brief,live as if this is the last day of your life.James uses an illustration all of us can understand.He says our life is like a mist.The Greek word can mean vapor or even a puff of smoke.Our lives are like droplets of mist from a spray bottle. That is pretty small.Think about the fall or spring here in the mountains. You wake up and go to work in the fog heavy or light, then as the suns works it way up in the sky the heat of the sun begins to burn of and dissipate the fog. The only the proof of its existence is the water droplets in the grace.Our lives are like that.We are here for a brief moment, and then we are gone in a flash.What becomes of all of our plans and dreams?Do you see how delusional we are about the way we live?We need to think about our lives with vapor theology.Just think about how quickly life goes.We are nothing more than a morning mist.Soon our lives with be gone and then what will matter?saying over my dresser.Only one life will soon be past. Only what is done for Christ will last.All of us are shocked by how old we are and how quickly this thing called life is slipping by.It is here, and it is gone.We tend to think we will be here forever or even just a little longerbut that is how everyone in the cemetery felt too.We need to approach life with humility.It doesn’t just go on and on.Life is briefJohn Blanchard offers this insight: “The moment a man is born he begins to die, and death could come at any time – by design, disease, disaster or decay. Man is not here to stay, he is here to go.”We often think this is the land of the living, and when we die we go to the land of the dead.The opposite is really true – this is the land of the dying.When our life here is over,we are transferred to the land of the living –either to a place of eternal joy called Heavenor to a place of terrible torment called Hell.Life is short;Death is sure;Sin the cause;Christ the cure.Brothers and sisters, life is too uncertain and too short to live it without God at the center.We count our lives in years but God tells us in Psalm 90:12 to number our days.Every one in this room is just one heartbeat away from eternity.To not be 100 percent ready for something that is 100 percent certain is 100 percent foolish.Second PrincipleAcknowledge God’s sovereign arrangement of all things.Again, the Bible is replete with passages about God’s meticulous governance of all things. Proverbs 19:21 even addresses God’s sovereignty in relation to our planning:Proverbs 19:21 (ESV)21 Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.We should be aware of God’s sovereign purposes in our planning and living.James 4:15 “15 Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.””We’re called to move from arrogant independence to intentional dependence upon God.God is actively and personally involved with His people.Because He has plans and purposes for us, we must seek Him and His will.The little word “if” makes all the difference. “If” the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.James is encouraging us into a kind of planning and living that acknowledges that all things are in the hands of our loving Father.Sure, plan out your days—that’s fine—but not in such a way that when the Lord makes it otherwise, you’re not getting frustrated and clinging to your plans and raising a fist at the Lord for frustrating them.Again, mere planning is not the issue here,Planning without holding your heavenly Father’s hand in it all is the issue.Paul would sometimes include language like this in his letters.He was making plans to come visit churches—he longed to be with people face to face.But in his planning, he would say things like this:Romans 1:9–10 (ESV)9 For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I mention you 10 always in my prayers, asking that somehow by God’s will I may now at last succeed in coming to you.1 Corinthians 16:7 (ESV)7 For I do not want to see you now just in passing. I hope to spend some time with you, if the Lord permits.the exact same phrase that James uses (cf. 1 Cor 16:7).We need to be like the Puritans, who were known to conclude their written correspondence with two letters: “D.V.,” which stands for “Deo Volente,” meaning “as God wills.” It would be helpful for us to say, “Lord willing” whenever we make plans.God’s sovereignty doesn’t mean that we don’t plan.But it does mean that we acknowledge his sovereign rule in all our plans.Which means that our confidence cannot lie in our plans, our jobs, our economy;our confidence must be in the Lord himself.His plans will bring all things into submission to the Lord Jesus Christ, not ours.So ifhe chooses to let your car break down,or he chooses to permit an illness,or he chooses to take life or give life,or if he chooses to dissolve your job position,or if he causes the stock market to fall—we must humbly acknowledge and submit to his sovereignty over it.Part of the difficulty with acknowledging God’s sovereignty over our planning and living,is that we often doubt his goodness and his wisdom.We’re afraid to say, “If the Lord wills…,”because what he wills for us might hurt—we might suffer more, and that can’t be good for us.But the cross of Jesus Christ tells a better story.He is loving, so loving that he gave up his only Son for us.And for all those united to Jesus,he really is working all things together for your good.His sovereign orchestration of all things in the universe will be for you becoming more like Jesus,it will be for your ultimate satisfaction with his forever glory in his forever kingdom.And when that’s in our sights,we can say wholeheartedly in all our planning,“If the Lord wills.He is good.He is wise.We don’t know everything; he does.”One commentator offers this helpful insight:• We should refer to God’s will.• We should defer to God’s will.• We should prefer God’s will.Live for God’s glory not our glory.James 4:16 (ESV)16 As it is, you boast in your arrogance. [literally, in your arrogances—plural].” All such boasting is evil.That is, their God-less, day-to-day planning permeates their life, and they’re okay with it.They boast in it.They love planning without God in mind.They love making money without a Godward focus.James concludes, “All such boasting is evil.”We might call ourselves Christ-followersbut by leaving God out of our lives,we are acting like atheists.Boasting is evilbecause we are defying the true state of our livesand living like we don’t need God for anything.2 Cor 8:9 “9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.”The richest person in the universe made himself lowly to make others rich with life.Riches give us the opportunity to give and give and give away,so as to reflect the way Jesus saved us.We must boast in Christ and his humiliation for us.When we boast in anything else except Christ and the glory God receives through our planning and living for Christ,we end up living for self-glory.And living for self-glory is evil.The gospel points to a better and more satisfying way—it is a life that forsakes god-less planningand living that makes much of us for Godward planningand living that makes much of God.I appreciate Charles Spurgeon’s advice for conquering pride:• Embrace your Nothingness – “Be not proud of race, face, place, or grace.”• Embrace Christ – “Pride cannot live beneath the cross.”• Embrace Suffering – “The benefit of the furnace; it melts, tries, and purifies.”Aim to do the Lord’s revealed will in all our planningJames 4:17 “17 So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.”Many people miss that James is drawing a conclusion in verse 17.The ESV has the word “So…” at the beginning of verse 17.It could also be translated, “Therefore…” “Therefore, whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.”Sometimes our greatest problems and darkest sins arenot in what we dobut the things we don't do.My pastor Bro. Metts always said there are three types of sin. -Omission -Boy in SS said – all sins we could have committed but did not get around to.Omission are good things, right things, Godly things we should have done but never got around to.Commission - Things we knew we should not have done but did them anyway. -Disposition - Sins of attitude and thoughtJames is talking about sins of omission.He is talking about things we should have done –could have done but did not. -Relying on God, seeking God, walking in the Spirit, reading, praying, taking care of the poor and needy- widows and orphans – tithe – share our faith –do good to others when it is in our power to do good.Most of us define our spiritual purity, maturity, devotion and holiness by the things we avoid our don't do.We think we are good – clean – right with Godbut the truth is we are not.While we may succeed at avoiding some forms of evil we fail to actively do what is good.- Dr. Adrian Rogers said the sin of omission is at the heart of all other sins. If we are actively doing what is good – right – pleasing to God we will not have time to do what is evil – can't do both at the same time.EXAMPLE: There is a number of ways to destroy a church and ground a ministry.- Fights –power struggles –too steeped in tradition –too enamored with personal preferences –immorality but the most common andeasiest way to destroy a church is by doing nothing –by not doing the things that we should –the things that we could –by pursuing our purpose and doing what we were designed to do.- Interesting –in Scripture there is only one thing we find that Jesus curse (not cussed) and it was a fig tree.Do you remember why?It was not doing what it was supposed to do – it was not bearing fruit.Do what is right.When we fail to do what we know we should then it is sin.Do what you know is right and do it today –delayed obedience is immediate disobedience.We have a tendency – at least I do –to do what I want – the things that interest me –that I never get around to the things that God wants.What have we basically learned so far? Life is short, God’s purpose rules, his glory not mine.Scripture is God’s revealed will to us.Now, it’s not going to tell you where to live and make money necessarily.But it certainly tells ushow to live andwhat to live for where we are andwhat that looks like with the people he places in our lives.In other words, it’s just plain arrogant to do whatever we want and just slap on the slogan, “If the Lord wills…” The Lord works out his purposes through his people doing what he said.CONCLUSION:4 Perspectives to having God over your life: Brevity of Life, God is Sovereign, Seek God’s Glory, ObedienceIf You Are not Dead - You are Not DonePastorJack Graham said it this way: ‘If you’re not dead, you’re not done. God still has work for you to do.’At this moment, I’m not dead;therefore I’m not done…I figure if I live each day as if it might be my last, one day I’m bound to be right.”In light of eternity, you and I must live differently today.
- Take My Life, and Let it Be
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