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Author:Dr. Wes Bredenhof
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Congregation:Free Reformed Church of Launceston, Tasmania
 Tasmania, Australia
 
Preached At:Mission Smithers -- Fort Babine
 Fort Babine, British Columbia
 www.babine.org
 
Title:Have a Christian attitude to the future!
Type:Mission Sermon
Text:James 4:13-17 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:Life in Christ
 
Added:2004-01-20
 

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Dr. Wes Bredenhof, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.


Beloved congregation,

Well, here we are at the end of another year. In a few short hours, we'll be in 2003. What are you hoping to do in the new year? Are you making plans? We often like to do that. We like to make our plans for a new year. There's nothing wrong with that, of course. But we always have to ask the question: how do we make our plans? Do you make your plans thinking that God is in control? Or do you make your plans without even thinking about God and His rule over your life, the universe and everything?

That's the question that's brought to us tonight by our text from the book of James. What is our attitude to the future? In the early church there were people who said they were Christians but lived like they didn't care about God. The apostle James saw this. He saw that these people were arrogant. He wrote this letter to them to shake them up. He wrote to them to tell them that if they call themselves Christians, if they have been bought with the blood of the Lord Jesus, they need to live like it. And that includes how they look to the future.

Tonight, on New Years Eve, I will preach to you God's Word with this theme:

Have a Christian attitude to the future!

That means we must:

1. Hate foolish pride.

2. Love the wisdom of faith.

1. We must hate foolish pride.

As I already mentioned, the apostle James is writing to a group of Christians. These Christians were mostly business people. They were known to have a certain kind of attitude. These people decided for themselves where they would go and when, how long they would stay and what they were going to do. They thought that their lives were in their own hands and God didn't belong. God was weightless in their lives, so to speak. He didn't carry any weight for them. He didn't matter. He may be out there somewhere, nice to have if you need some extra help, but He is irrelevant to what I'm going to do tomorrow. God just doesn't matter.

We read from all of chapter 4. We saw in the earlier verses that James is bringing his readers down to earth. He's telling them to be humble, not to think so highly of themselves. In verse 14, James continues to tell them to be humble. He says, "You do not even know what will happen tomorrow." In other words, you're a man, you're just a creature. You can't look ahead and say what's going to happen. Simply put: you're not God! Don't people also tend to forget that today? Don't we also face the same temptation? We make our plans and then we think that nothing will interfere with those plans.

That's why we need to humbly look at who we really are. More importantly, we need to know who God is. God is the one who is in control. You can say whatever you want, but if God calls your number tomorrow, it's up. You can make all your plans, but God is the one who brings everything to pass. You have no say in the matter.

James makes this clearer when he asks the question: what is your life anyway? Who are you? Then he brings the answer the Bible gives: you're just like some vapour coming out of a kettle. It's there for a moment and then it's gone. Your life will come and go and there's nothing you can say or do about it. You might think that you're in control, but then you're lying to yourself. It's foolish pride. You can pretend that God doesn't have any control over your life, but you're just being a fool. James calls his readers to smarten up and stop being so foolish. Because the way of fools doesn't fear God and respect Him for who He is. A fool says one thing and then turns away and says another. He is a double-minded man. That's not what God wants to see in people who call themselves Christians.

It's like a little girl like Julie sitting on her Dad's lap. Julie likes to sit on my lap. But sometimes she reaches up and slaps me in the face. She couldn't do that if she wasn't sitting on my lap. That's what we do when we don't say that God is in control and we pretend that we are. We are slapping him in the face while sitting in his lap. He supports us and gives us life, breath and everything. And then we slap him in the face. Then you see why this foolishness would make God angry. Who would want to make God angry?

So, beloved friends, we have to hate this type of foolish thinking that doesn't see that God is in control. As we're about to go into 2003, we can't have the idea in our heads that we are the ones in control. If we believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, we have to realize that we were bought with a big price. So, there's also a big requirement for us to live in thankfulness. Being thankful means that we have to throw out our pride and arrogance in the way we live and plans. Make your plans for 2003, but do it in a way that loves the wisdom of faith. That's our second point:

2. We must love the wisdom of faith.

Let's begin this second point by asking a question: What does it mean to be wise? I'm sure we could all think of somebody we consider to be wise. Maybe an elder in the community or maybe a grandparent. In the Bible, wisdom is knowing the right thing to do at every time of your life. If you're wise, you always know the right thing to do. Psalm 111:10 tells us that wisdom starts with the fear of God. Fearing God means that you respect Him and listen to Him. He is number one in your life. So, if you want to be wise, God has to be number one. You can't be wise apart from having faith in God and in His Son, the Lord Jesus.

This is important, because in our text, God is telling us to hate foolish pride. He is telling us to follow the way of humbly giving in to Him. Lots of people know that our lives are not here forever. Everybody knows that we're going to die. But it takes a Christian to know that God is in control. That's why James says that we should say, "If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that." When we say that, then we say that God is the one in control of our lives, not ourselves.

Now, I have to make something clear. We don't have to say, "If it is the Lord's will." every time that we make a plan to do something. But we definitely should be thinking that. The Bible passage here from James is concerned about how we think. It's concerned about our attitude. God wants to see that we think and know that He is in control of our lives. Christians have to show, both before God and those around them, that God is in complete control.

So, it's not a sure thing that we will do this or that tomorrow or next year. You can plan, but don't be sad when things turn out differently. We wish each other a happy and blessed new year, but let's be realistic: for some of us there will be disappointments and sadness. Maybe someone close to us will get sick and even die. What then? What good will foolish pride do you when that happens? What comfort will you find in yourself? But if you love the wisdom which comes from faith, then you have what it takes to handle any sadness that God might send you. All the more reason to love the wisdom of faith and have that Christian attitude to the future!

There is still one more thing to say. If you've heard what this passage says and don't put it into practice, then God says that is sin. If you just ignore it, then you're storing up God's wrath for yourself. You're not going to get away with ignoring it. So you've heard the right thing to do, now you have to do it! You have to do it, because you have to be thankful for the riches of salvation in Jesus Christ. God cannot be weightless for you if you claim the name of Christ. He has to be very heavy in your life. He needs to be everywhere, including in how you think about the future. Tomorrow is 2003. As you come to this new year, you need to call yourself down. You need to fear God and have him heavy in your life. You need to have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Remember what James says in verse 6, "God opposes, He goes against, the proud but gives grace to the humble." With the attitude of faith then, let's all have a blessed new year, growing to glory of God! AMEN.




* As a matter of courtesy please advise Dr. Wes Bredenhof, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
The source for this sermon was: www.babine.org

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