Monday, June 18, 2012

...But Is It What God Wants?

James 4:13-16 “Look here, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we are going to a certain town and will stay there a year. We will do business there and make a profit.’ How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone. What you ought to say is, ‘If the Lord wants us to, we will live and do this or that.’ Otherwise you are boasting about your own plans, and all such boasting is evil.

Up until yesterday, I read this passage of scripture as if it were telling us not to plan ahead, because we don’t know if we’ll still be alive to do what we’ve planned. That’s probably why I didn’t pay very much attention to it, since I knew that Proverbs 21:5 specifically tells us to make diligent plans for the future - “The plans of the diligent lead surely to plenty.” So what is it? Should we make plans or not?

I think asking this question is beside the point. Of course we need to make plans for our life! In two different passages in Proverbs (6:6 and 30:25), the lowly ant is considered wise because it stores food in the summer to eat during the winter. Isn’t that planning ahead? Should the ant give up its preparation because it doesn’t know if it’s going to be stepped on today? And what is our Christian walk if it’s not a plan for the future? I don’t know about you, but my plans extend 1,000 years into the future and beyond!

The issue in this passage isn’t the planning itself. The issue here is, who’s responsible for the decisions in your life - you or God? You see, when you made Jesus your Lord - you made Him your owner, your ruler, your boss. You no longer have the right to direct your own life anymore. Didn’t you know this already? 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 says, “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.” Your life belongs to God now! That means, whatever He says you do!

Psalm 37:23 shows what this kind of life looks like, “The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD.” Romans 8:14 echoes this, “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.” When you truly give your life to Jesus, you’re surrendering the control of every decision you make!

Sadly, this couldn’t be any more different from the modern American ‘gospel.’ We’re being told that God’s grace allows us to add God’s forgiveness to whatever lifestyle we want. We’ve told Jesus to be our Savior and never really made Him Lord. The motto of this gospel is, “Jesus died so we could live (any way we want)!”

The fact is, Jesus didn’t die so we could live our own life. He died so we could die to our own life! 2 Corinthians 5:14-15 says this: “If One died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.” When Jesus died for us, He gave us the power to die to our will and live in His will.

No more of this American religion! No more calling Jesus ‘Lord’ and ignoring what He tells us! No more hearing and never doing! Listen to how your Lord ended His most famous sermon:

Matthew 7:24-27 “Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock.”
“But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.”

The first type of man represents the people who hear (and read) God’s Word and do it! Even though it’s tough, even though everyone says there’s an easier way, even when it takes longer to get what they want - they build their life God’s way. This kind of life, built on obedience to God’s Word, stands up to the storm.

The second type of man represents the people who hear God’s Word and go about their own way. They know they should spend time in the Bible, but they’ve got a busy life. They know that God loves cheerful givers, but money’s tight at the moment. They know that the Bible tells parents to discipline their kids, but they want their kids to like them! So, instead of doing things God’s way - they decide that God will understand if they do it their own way. After all - “God knows my heart!” So they call Him ‘Lord’ and then act like they’re living their own life. This is a life built on sand, my friend! Let a few raindrops fall, and everything collapses!

I know God’s way isn’t always easy - but it is always right! It’s time for a true altar call this morning. It’s time, once and for all, to lay down your life as a living sacrifice. It’s time to finally make Jesus your Lord and Savior. Stop pretending like you can still do things your own way!

Luke 6:46 “So why do you keep calling me ‘Lord, Lord!’ when you don’t do what I say?

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