James 4:13-17   Life is Full of Surprises

                             Read Verses


Now, we must not take what James says here as meaning that we shouldn’t plan - 

            Life involves Planning!


Small business owner:    you need a   Business Plan

Lose weight or get in shape …..      Exercise Plan

Parent: Kids college retirement …. Financial plan

Pilot………..                                       Flight Plan

Home Builder ………………….       Floor Plan

Coach ……………………………..    Game Plan

Teacher ………………………….     Lesson Plan

Traveler ………………………….    Travel Plan


Life involves planning – infact there are pp today who get paid to help others plan!

A) Remember the kid in High School that you never wanted to share an idea with  - because they would over plan everything


B)Well now a lot of those kids are still over planning and they’re getting overpaid to do it.

1) We need Planners


C) Wedding planners / City Planners / Corporate planners / Financial planners / Project planners


D) Planning is important – I want you to note that the Bible doesn’t put down planning.

Jesus talked about the man building a home and his need to plan it out and count the cost to make sure he could complete it.

A) Jesus also talked about the wise General going into battle – having a plan


B) God put together a very specific plan for the building of the Tabernacle & the Temple in the OT.


C) There is a strategic plan in how the solar system has been put together /

1) As well as how the Human body is put together


God is into planning! – So don’t think that James here is trying to knock planning.

A) No, the issue that James is dealing with here is an attitude of the heart that approaches life independently from God!


B) Note 5 things today in the verses before us

#1 The Problem illustrated. V.13

#2 What is at the heart of this kind of planning. V.16

#3 The Foolishness of Making such plans V.14

#4 The Right way to plan. V.15

#5 A final warning. V.17


#1 The Problem illustrated. V.13

Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit";


Many of the Jews, in the ancient world were traders.  A) They were businessmen then as they are now and they were very successful. 


B) As towns sprung up in the ancient world – the trade routes grew connecting commununities

1)Those trade routes became a focal pt of Business.


C) A strategizing businessman would set out to do his trade in a hot spot where he could succeed and lay out his plans. 

1)That is what James is describing here- those Businessmen in the fellowship making their Strategic Business plans


Now in and of itself, is that kind of planning sinful? 

A) Is there something ethically wrong with planning like that? 


B) Is there something immoral about saying we're going to go over here we're going to stay there, we're going to do this, we're going to make money? 

1) I think every Smart businessman would say that. 


C) I don't think in itself there's anything immoral about it, anything unethical about it. 

1) In fact, any businessman worth his salt ought to have some kind of plan. 



You see, the issue here is not in what is said, the issue here is in what is not said.  That's the implication. 

A) what is not said  reveals the problem because there's no mention of God in this plan.  


B) There is no thought for God.  This is the man who runs his own life,

1) this is the woman who runs her own life, foolishly ignoring God and showing utter disrespect for His sovereignty. 


C) That is the Problem with this plan!


#2 What is at the heart of this kind of planning. V.16

“But now you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.”

A) James says at the heart of the Problem is pride!


B) This is not atheism pretending that God doesn’t exist – this is selftheism – Pretending I am God


C) This is a continuation of what we have been talking about the last few weeks

1) God resist the Proud – gives grace to the humble


D) It is a heart of pride that makes plans independently of God.


Napoleon Bonaparte was a military genius, but his pride led to his downfall.


He was about to invade Russia, but a friend tried to dissuade him. When it became apparent that Napoleon would not be budged, the friend shared the familiar proverb, “Man proposes, God disposes.”


Napoleon angrily snapped back, “I dispose as well

as propose.”

A Christian upon hearing this remark said,


“I marked that down as the turning point of Bonaparte’s fortunes. God will not suffer a creature with impunity to usurp His prerogative.” Sure enough, Napoleon’s invasion of Russia was the beginning of his downfall


It is basically an attitude that says I don’t need to consult God – I have this figured out.

1) I have a wonderful Plan for my life!


#3 The Foolishness of Making such plans V.14

“whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.”


James tells us two things about life here:

1st Life is full of surprises – You don’t know what is going to happen tomorrow!


We are living the reality of that right now!

A) The last thing that I ever imagined happening to my Dad – was a stroke – Strong – golf – active always on the go – worker

B) Learned: Life can change just like that!


C) Making plans – moving along – Your company decides to down size and you are out of a Job!


I was thinking about how complex life is and I read this, interesting analogy:

A) suppose you take ten pennies and mark them from one to ten... put them in your pocket


B) shake it around for a while, mix them up.  Now try to draw them out in sequence from one through ten, Putting each coin back in your pocket after each draw. 


C) So You draw out "one" you put it back, draw out "two" put it back, draw out "three"...your chance of drawing out number one is one in ten. 


Your chance of drawing number one and two in succession is one in a hundred. 


Your chance of drawing number one, two, and three in succession is one in a thousand. 


Your chance of drawing one, two, three, four in succession is one in ten thousand, and so on.


Now  your chance of drawing number one through ten in succession would reach the unbelievable figure of one chance in ten billion.



Here is the Pt.  if you can't deal with ten pennies in your pocket, how are you going to control everything in your environment?  You can't. 

A) Infinite complexities that are far out beyond your ability and my ability to control. 


B) And yet there are some people in the world who imagine foolishly that they are in charge. 


C) That type of approach to life ignores a very vital principle

1) What your ignoring is not just the existence of God's will but the benefit of it. 


D) It is a confident and comforting thing to believe in a sovereign God who knows perfectly and with unerring accuracy every factor in the universe


E) A God  who is controlling every factor  to His own purposes & wants to make you a part of those purposes. 



So not only is it foolish to order your life, ignoring the will of God from the viewpoint that you can't control it

A) But it is foolish to try to live that way because you're cancelling out the very thing which can give your life meaning, and that is the work of God in your behalf. 




James also reminds us that Life is also Short

A) Your life is vapor – appears for a little while and then it vanishes away.


B) NLT- Morning fog – Foggy by the beach in the morning – burns off, beautiful sunny day


C) Job declared Job 7:7 – My life is but a breath –

1) Everyone take a deep breath – There goes your life


D) Obvious comparison to eternity! – Life is short


E) One person: It is like a Sparkler on the 4th of July – burning bright one minute – out the next


F) The Brevity of life is no respector of persons – Young and old    { Heath Ledger  28


LK 12 Jesus told the story of the farmer who had a bumper crop; bigger barns…… You fool, tonight your life is required of you and you are not rich toward God


In Constantinople of old, when an eastern monarch was crowned as emperor, the royal mason would bring before him slabs of marble on his coronation day.


The emperor himself would select from the marble slabs his own tombstone. "The ancients thought it wise for him to remember his funeral at the time of his elevation, for his life would not last forever"

                 Life is short – Make it count!

What if we had such a practice at high school or college graduation?

A) It might bring a sense of reality to life that the future is uncertain for it belongs to the Lord alone to unfold it.  DON’T HAVE FOREVER! Make it count


B) So the point that James is making is this: it is foolish and prideful to plan our lives without consulting God Because:

1) Life is full of surprises.  You never know what is going to happen to upset your plans


C) And life is short – You might think – I have ten years and in reality you only have 1 more day!



#4 The right way to Plan: V.15

“Instead you ought to say,"If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that."

A) If the Lord wills is not a trite formula but an attitude of the heart that says:

I know that God is sovereign and I want to be submitted to Him!


B) Interestingly, the expression “If it is the Lord’s will” appears nowhere in the Old Testament, but it is used several times in the New Testament.


C) Paul promised the Ephesians, “I will come back if it is God’s will” (Acts 18:21).

D) To the Corinthians he said, “But I will come to you very soon, if the Lord is willing” (1 Corinthians 4:19; cf. Romans 1:10; 1 Corinthians 16:7; Philippians 2:19, 24;


E) It was an attitude that said: I have this desire – this is what I am praying about –

1) I will wait for God to either Give me the green light or – to change my direction.



Romans 12:1-2


“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”


A) The safest and best place that we can ever be as a person is in the center of God’s will.  Why ?

Psalm 33:11  “The counsel of the Lord stands forever; the Plans of His heart to all generations.”


B) This reminds us that “The will of God comes from the heart of God,”

1) I don’t need to be afraid of God’s will for me!


D) Jesus said  John 4:34 “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to finish His work”


Being in the center of God’s will doesn’t mean that you will never be surprised by life.

A) It simply means that you are not going to be devastated by that surprise


B) My Dad – has had a few moments this week – broke down crying { Not like my dad – not a Crying – laugh movies

1) Then I am crying – Worried – that he was getting depressed and discouraged


C) Found out from one of the therapist – That is normal – they lose control of their emotions


D)Friday we had a good talk – My dad was like – No I am not depressed – I know that God has a plan in all this

1) I have no idea – might even seem stupid


We believe all things do work together for Good to them that Love God and are called according to his purpose.

A) Note that He doesn’t say all things are going to be good


B) When my attitude and approach to life is God I know that you are Sovereign – but also Know that you care – I want to be led by you !


When I am living in that mentality not only am I not devastated by a surprise – might get knocked down put I don’t stay down

A) But also if my life is shortened – others can take comfort in knowing – I was doing what God wanted me to do.


B) Jim Elliot 28 Ed McCully,28 Roger Youderian, 32 Pete Fleming, 29 Nate Saint 33

1) All Killed in Ecuador trying to share the gospel with Indian tribes


C) All young – all lives cut – short – but everyone who knew them – knew they were doing exactly what God wanted them to do


Jim Elliot – No man is a fool to give up what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose!  ….


Kieth Green – He could have done so much more – Maybe true

But He did what God intended him to do!


Life is about the Journey!

A) Abe / Moses / Joshua / Apostles / Paul – unfolding plan


B) Submitted seeking – God led one step at a time !




#5 A Final Warning! V.17

“Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.”

A) At first glance v.17 seems out of place – but it isn’t the word therefore connects it to what was just said


B) Immediate context is this: James has just told us how to make godly plans

1) If we fail to apply that – the Point is clear we are sinning.


C) Of course, this verse applies to all areas of the Christian life pertaining to what are called “sins of omission.”


D) We tend to look at sin as wrong things we do

1) James says it is also a sin to not do what we know is right.


E) We can fool ourselves in thinking – well I am not doing anything wrong –

1) But in reality – it is just as wrong to not be doing what we know is right


God has clearly marked things in His word that are His will. –

A) When we ignore those things – even though we are not breaking a 10 commandment it is still sin


B) And when God moves on your heart – Conviction

Ignore – Sin –

All of which simply reminds us – We need a savior

A) See at the top of God’s list on His will – that we would be saved.


1 Timothy 2:4

“God  desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”


That is the starting point!


Where are you at today? Life submitted to God

A) Confident in his love – His plan


B) Yielded heart