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Presuming on God - James Part 12

So What? / Lon Solomon
The Truth Network Radio
December 20, 2022 7:00 am

Presuming on God - James Part 12

So What? / Lon Solomon

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You know, the Scripture says in the book of Proverbs that pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall. Good verse of Scripture.

A lot of truth to that. I want to read you a little story that our Lord told in the book of Luke. It's in Luke 12. It's very short, though, and you don't need to turn there because our passage for this evening really is in the book of James.

But I want you to listen to this story. It's a parable. It's in Luke chapter 12 and verse 16. And he spoke a parable to them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully. And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do since I have no room to store my crops?

And he said, I will do this. I will pull down my barns and build greater barns, and there I will store all my crops and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years. Take your ease and eat and drink and be merry. But God said to him, You fool, this night your soul will be required from you.

Then whose will those things be that you have provided? So is he, Jesus says, who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich towards God. Now, this parable is really told to highlight the problem of being covetous, of going after money, of being greedy.

And yet I still think there's a point here a little different than that, and that is that we can't count on tomorrow. He was a rich man. All these possessions, so many possessions, he was going to build new barns to store them in.

He didn't have enough room. And I suppose he was figuring that he had many years to come because he says, Soul, for many years you have goods stored up. Eat, drink, be merry. And the Lord said, tonight we have a divine appointment.

Can't count on tomorrow. Most of us know that. And most Americans, I'm afraid, are so occupied with their plans for life and its materialistic goals and what they're going to do tomorrow and what they're going to achieve or buy with the money they're going to earn next month. But they've totally left God out of these plans. It's kind of like one man said, if the Holy Spirit were removed from the world, not only would the world, but I'm afraid much of the church would just keep on going, business as usual. And our friend James has some comments in this regard for us this evening. And I'd like you to turn with me to the letter that James wrote to the fourth chapter.

The letter or the book of James chapter four. We want to look at three points dealing with presumption. Number one, the problem. This is our outline.

The problem is that these believers to whom James is writing were approaching life in a presumptuous manner. Number two, the solution. That is that we need to include God in our every plan for the future. And number three, the conclusion, is that now that we know this, God will begin to hold us responsible if we neglect to respond to it. That's our outline.

Let's take it apart, put it back together, and come out with some life-changing truth for us in the 20th century. The problem, James says in chapter four, verse 13, come now you who say today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city and spend a year there and buy and sell and make a profit. Whereas you do not know what will happen on tomorrow. For what is your life?

It is a vapor that appears for a little time and vanishes away. I'm going to skip verse 15 and go to verse 16. But now you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. Here's the problem, that these believers were approaching this earthly life with a presumptuous, arrogant attitude. Now, I looked up presumptuous or presumption in the dictionary and it said that it means to take something for granted. To presume is to take something for granted.

Often with a negative connotation of being impertinent or disrespectful or arrogant. Assuming something is going to be there that arrogantly you assume is going to be there. In fact, the word in verse 16, but now you boast in your, my translation, which is the New King James says, you boast in your arrogance.

The Old King James will talk about your boastings. That word really means presumption. Arrogant presumption. So now you are boasting in your presumptions. And that kind of boasting, James says, is wrong.

It's evil. These believers, verse 13, were assuming impertinently that they would do the events of verse 13. Come on now, we'll go to this city. We'll stay there for a year.

We'll sell things and we'll buy things and we'll make a profit. I wonder if you'd notice with me all that they were assuming. Number one, that they'd be alive tomorrow. They were assuming that. Number two, that they'd be alive a year from now. They were assuming that also. Number three, that they were assuming that the world would even be here a year from now, much less whether they'd be here.

That the Lord wouldn't come and the world come to an end as we know it. They were also assuming that they would have the health to be able to go and carry on business enterprise for a year. They were also assuming that their business enterprise would be successful. Let's make a profit.

Well, how do you know you're going to make a profit? Well, we're assuming it. They were assuming the economy didn't collapse. That the Roman Empire didn't fall.

That Attila the Hun didn't raid wherever they were going. Who knows what else they were assuming. But do you see all the presumption that lies behind even such a simple statement as we're going to go here and we're going to do this or do that?

In fact, there's more than presumption here. There is really an indication that these believers in their own minds had taken their lives into their own hands. They were assuming that they had full control over their destiny and not God. Now, you might not have picked that up from just thinking about a simple statement like that, but when you really boil it down, that's what they were assuming. And that if we say we're going to that city, then no matter what God says or thinks, we're going. And if we say we're going to be there for a year, then we are. And if we say we're going to buy and sell, then we are. And if we say we're going to make a profit, then we will. James says that kind of attitude is wrong.

Evil. And although I suppose there could be hundreds of reasons why, James points out a very important one, verse 14. Because you don't know what will happen on tomorrow. Moreover, you don't even know you'll be here tomorrow. James says based on the fact that life is uncertain and life is fragile, it's too uncertain and too fragile for us to make these kinds of automatic assumptions. Too uncertain, James says, whereas you don't know what will happen tomorrow. No one knows the events of tomorrow.

Proverbs 27, verse 1 says, do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day will bring forth. A couple of years ago, when the silver market was going crazy. In fact, really just, I suppose, a little over a year ago. I decided the time had come for me to join Bunker Hunt in the silver market. And so I went down to the bank and got the very little bit of savings that we really had available and went out and bought silver. I thought, it's got to keep going up.

I'll only stay in it for a little while, put the money back in the bank, thank you, Lord, for the blessing and go on just as normal as ever. So I went out and bought silver at the going rate. Now, you might think that was very mercenary, but it's no more mercenary than investing in a seven percent past book rather than a five because you get two more percent interest. I saw a chance, I thought here, to make a good investment. Well, about a week later is when old Bunker ran into his problems.

And when Bunker ran into problems, so did I. Because if you remember, the silver market went from about forty-some dollars an ounce to less than ten in a matter of a week. Now, if I'd have bought it at ten, I'd have been happy. But I regret to inform you when I bought silver, it was a lot higher than ten dollars an ounce. And in the year plus since, that silver is still not worth what I paid for it. And God taught me a very important lesson, that life is too uncertain to assume anything. I assumed silver was going up.

Bad, bad move. Life's too uncertain to make assumptions like that. In fact, James says, not only is life uncertain, but even if it were certain, you're not even sure you would be here for the certainty of it next year or tomorrow. Even if it were certain.

He says, what is your life? It's a vapor that appears for a time and then it's gone. It's fragile.

So even if you could count on tomorrow, you could not count on the fact you'd be here tomorrow. Just a couple of weeks ago, we had a dining room, piece of dining room furniture that we had ordered a while back and it withheld delivery on until we moved because we didn't want to move it. We thought it'd be safer to leave it in the cart and just let the company ship it to us in Virginia. And these men came over and they brought this piece of furniture. It was two young fellows, one in his early 20s and I guess the other one was still a teenager, was 17. They brought it in, dropped off this piece of furniture, you know, said hello, talked to him a few minutes, everything was fine. Then the same company had to come back just this past week.

That's not really true, I'm sorry, last week, I'm losing track of where I am, last week. And they called me early in the morning of the day they were supposed to come, it was the owner of the company, an elderly lady. She said, you know, I'm not really sure we can get the truck by there today.

And I said, why not? She said, well, one of the two men who work on our truck has died. And I said, you mean one of those two young fellows? And she said, yeah.

And so she said, well, if we can get the truck by, we'll try to get it there. So sure enough, it got there later and the fellow, the 21-year-old who was the driver was on the truck, he had gotten a friend to help him. And I got to talking to him a little bit, I said, boy, that was really, I mean, is that true?

I mean, your helper died? He said, yeah, he was my girlfriend's brother, 17 years old. And they went in in the morning, his dad did, to wake him up and he was laying there stone cold, dead in his sleep, 17 years old. And I said, well, what in the world happened? He said, I don't know, they think he had a cerebral hemorrhage and pow, was just gone.

No noise, didn't even get out of bed, just lay there and was gone. I mean, he's 17, I'm almost twice his age already. And he went pow, just like that, I mean, think how I could go, you know, or some of the rest of us. 17, you don't expect that to happen to 17-year-olds. You see, we don't really expect for it to happen to anyone, but it does all the time.

Because that's the way life is. And if you realize the hundreds and thousands of situations around you every day, that should the slightest thing go wrong, we could say goodbye to you. Then we'll understand the truth of what James says, that life is like a vapor.

It's here for a minute and then poof, it's gone. Psalm 39 verse 4 says, Lord, make me to know my end. And the measure of my days, what it is, that I may realize how fragile I am. Psalm 39 verse 4, it's a good prayer. Make me realize, Lord, how fragile I really am. Psalm 144 verse 4, man is like vanity.

His days are like a shadow that quickly pass away. You see, when we begin to presume on the events of tomorrow, or even that we'll be here tomorrow, we're on shaky ground. That's what these believers were doing. Not only presuming they'd be here, but presuming on all they were going to carry out, apart from our Lord.

That was the problem. And these were believers. We're not talking about people who don't know Christ. These are believers.

Let's look at the solution. James says in verse 15, instead, you ought to say, if the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that. You see, God knows all the variables. In fact, not only does God know them, He controls them. And therefore, if God's will is in your every plan for the future, the variables have been properly accounted for. We'll be alive tomorrow if God wills. Psalm 31 verse 14 and 15. But I trust in Thee, O Lord, I have said, Thou art my God, my times are in Your hands.

Now that's true, whether you believe it or not. But it's a good idea to remember that. I'll be alive tomorrow, Lord, if you will it so.

If you don't, I could be gone like that. Moreover, we'll do this or that or the other thing tomorrow, Lord, if you will it to be so. We quoted this verse this morning, Proverbs 16, 9. The mind of man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps. And whatever step you're planning to take should be conditioned with if God is willing for me to take that step. In fact, Paul knew this truth so well that you can go almost anywhere where he wrote and promised anyone, anything for the future, and you will find that man always saying, if God wills.

Let me give you some examples. You don't need to turn. You might want to jot these references down. I'll begin as early as we begin with Paul in the book of Acts. Acts chapter 18, verse 21. Paul here is on his way back to Antioch and leaving the believers that he's led to Christ, he says this. But I took leave of them, saying, I must by all means keep the coming feast in Jerusalem, but I will return again to you God willing.

And he set sail for Ephesus. Listen to Romans chapter 1, verse 10. He said, I've been asking and praying to God that I might come by some means and find a way to you in the will of God. The same book, chapter 15 and verse 32. Paul says, pray for me that I may come to you with joy by the will of God and be refreshed along with you. First Corinthians chapter 4.

We've already studied this. Paul saying, I may come to town. Do you want me to come with a rod or do you want me to come gently?

But listen how he says it. He says, but I will come to you shortly if the Lord wills. And First Corinthians chapter 16, verse 7.

For I do not wish to see you now on the way, but I hope to stay a while with you if the Lord permits. And on we could go. I won't belabor the point.

I think it's clear. And here was a man of God who was plugged in the biblical truth. And that's why he kept saying, if God wills, if God permits, if God is pleased.

Because he knew that his every plan had to be conditioned by the will of God. The elders have been after me to make a schedule, so I've got a schedule. There are not too many weeks where I keep my schedule. Now probably some of that is because I'm disorganized. Some of it's because I'm not as self-disciplined as I ought to be. But most of it is because every time the telephone rings, I know God's changing my schedule.

Never fails. In fact, I've learned some of those, you know, the phone always seems to ring, but somehow I get the ominous feeling which ones are going to totally upset my week. It's funny that I can walk to the phone some days, and as I'm on the way to the phone, I'm saying to myself, I don't know what's coming, but whatever it is, I know it's going to change things. And so I try as I walk to the phone to say, Lord, help me to flex with you. Help me to hang loose.

Help me to make my plans and always leave room for you to change them, and I'm going to pick up this phone and you change them. And he always seems to. So and so's in the hospital. So and so's sick. So and so has passed away.

So and so has a crisis. And away goes the schedule. And in comes the Lord willing.

This was so true of our Christmas service. I'd really been praying that the Lord would make sure that we got all the people here safely and back home safely because the weather report was simply not good. And I knew that at our seven o'clock hour, the weather would be vastly different than it would be two hours later with the front they were calling to move through and the blast of cold air. And the streets were already wet and icy. So then I got that phone call. The electricity's out. But we had the whole thing planned. We had a flannel graph coming and special music here.

We rearranged all the seats and everything. And God says, you know what your mistake was? You should have been saying we will have a Christmas service December the 24th if the Lord permits.

And in this case, He didn't. George Sweeting of Moody Bible Institute wrote this. He says, if God wills is not just a trite phrase or a neat formula. No, he says, it is an indication of an attitude of complete submission to God. Our Heavenly Father should be our partner in all our plans.

He's right. The solution to our problem is that we need to learn to include God in our plans and His will. Finally, the conclusion. James chapter 4, the last verse of the chapter. Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin. The conclusion, now that we know this, God will hold us responsible if we don't respond properly. Believe it or not, there are things that are wrong that God does not get upset about if you as a believer do. I say, what are you talking about? Doesn't God get upset about everything?

Well, let me explain what I mean. As you're growing, as we're all growing as believers, there are certain things that we're doing incorrectly to which God addresses His attention. There are lots of other things we're doing wrong. But because of our maturity level, our age in Christ, whatever, God will get around to them later. And as we continue to do those, those are not the things that break our fellowship with God. God hasn't even shown us they're wrong yet.

It's the response to the things we know are wrong and need to be changed, or that we know that are right and need to be implemented. That's what God's interested in. In fact, that's why 1 John 1-9 says that if we confess our sins, that is the ones God's working on us about, God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins.

Ah, but He doesn't stop there. And to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. All the unrighteousness we're doing that He has not convicted us of as being wrong, He cleanses that too. If the attitude towards the things we know are wrong is proper, God's interested in an attitude. And I've had young Christians go, oh ho, but I do so many things wrong, what happens if I forget to confess one? Ah, if you get most of them, that's all that matters. Because God's interested in the attitude, not a list.

He knows the list better than you do. And so therefore, there are times in our lives when we are doing things wrong and we're not aware that they're biblically wrong. And those aren't the things that affect our fellowship. For example, most of us have had young children or have them now. Is it wrong not to make your bed?

Well, I'm sure it is. I mean, you know, people make their bed. Most normal people make their bed. But do you hold your three-year-old or your two-year-old responsible?

Are you upset? Does it affect your relationship with them if they don't make their bed? Of course not.

First of all, you probably haven't demanded that they do. And you probably haven't done that because as a two-year-old, they're simply not mature enough to do it. Is it wrong to hop out the bed and not make it? Well, maybe for someone a little older.

Maybe in principle. But for a two-year-old, not old enough to handle the responsibility of it yet. Ah, but if you tell that two-year-old, don't you get out of bed and get a drink of water. And you know he understands that. And suddenly you hear the faucet. And you're looking at your wife and she's looking at you and there's only one other person in the house. Then you get upset. See, there's a difference. And we're children too.

And we're growing and we're developing. And I'm not trying to justify sin and say it's right in no sense. But I am trying to say that there is a point where God begins to hold us responsible for certain things that before that point, He didn't.

This is what James is saying. That now that I've taken the trouble to explain this to you carefully and now that you know it, and that God knows you know it, He is going to hold you responsible for doing it. Maybe some of us have been guilty of going on and conducting our lives presumptuously just because we just never thought about it. We did it unconsciously. We didn't even think that making a statement like, I'm going to do this, or I'll see, or this, never even occurred to us. We were presuming on the Lord. Fine, that may be true.

But now we should be aware of the implications of these kinds of statements and should be careful. A fellow in our college career class come up to me one Sunday after class and he said, Why is it that every time I ever ask you anything, you always say the Lord willing? He said, can't you answer anything like I ask you? Are we going to play tennis Tuesday?

Yeah, Lord willing. Why can't you just say yes or no? And I said, well, John, very simple. I can't tell you yes we're going to play tennis on Tuesday because I don't know for sure what may happen between today and Tuesday. I might not even be here Tuesday. I might have a broken leg Tuesday. You may not be here Tuesday.

You didn't think of that one. And I suppose if we say it all the time to people who wouldn't even understand that it could seem a little trite, that it could seem a little banal, that it could seem a little bit pious. And I don't think we always have to say if the Lord wills or the Lord willing. But the important thing is we always need to be thinking it. And to a believer who'd understand, we need to say it, reminds them of the tentativeness of this life.

To someone who'd never understand or in a place where it might be inappropriate, doesn't need to be said as long as you are thinking in those terms. Will I do this or that? Yes, the Lord willing. Will I meet you tomorrow for lunch? Yes, the Lord willing. Let's have prayer, shall we? Heavenly Father, even as the psalmist said, teach us to number our days. Teach us, Lord, how fragile we really are.

Father, we pray that despite the fragile nature of our lives and the uncertainty of this life, that you would take us and use us to honor yourself. And keep us consciously aware of this need to be constantly assuming only what you assume. Presuming only what the Word of God allows us to presume.

And no more. Presuming your love for us. Presuming the promise of your guidance and direction. Presuming the promise of heaven. But no more. Lord, make us people who in action and in word are examples of people whose lives are in subjection to your will. In our Savior's name we ask it. Amen. Amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-12-22 11:28:41 / 2022-12-22 11:39:32 / 11

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