The Un-Promise of Tomorrow
We know that tomorrow is never guaranteed, and yet we really struggle to live out the ramifications of that truth. Learn how to live life differently.
INTRODUCTION / PASSAGE
Morning. David Sorn. Lead Pastor here at Renovation Church.
None of us really know what tomorrow will bring.
To be honest, we don’t even really know what the rest of today will bring.
I think I’m going to go home this afternoon and start watching the Vikings play…towards the end of the 1st quarter.
I think I’ll watch them win.
I feel confident in it, but I don’t really know.
They could lose.
And then I have to show up at the office this week, and face my good friend, and notorious Eagle’s fan, our director of operations, Ryan Speck.
And as he triumphs around in his Eagles Hat, shirt, and shoes…it could be painful.
We don’t really know what’s going to happen tomorrow.
We’d agree with that, right?
Well, then how come almost none of us live like that?
It’s a good question.
We say we don’t know what’s going to happen, but then we live like we do know
And when we live in that kind of non-reality, you better believe there are some side effects.
Thankfully the Bible has the remedy we need.
We’re going to find that remedy in the Letter of James in the Bible this morning as we continue in our “More Than Words” series.
Here’s what James, who was the brother of Jesus and one of the leaders in the early Christian Church, has to say:
(James 4:13-17) – NIV
13 Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.15 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” 16 As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil. 17 If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.
This is a great passage…
It’s “fresh truth” for us because for most of us this is not how we normally think and live
Let me explain what James is saying in a nutshell.
You and I make two critical errors here (write this down):
#1: We MAKE plans like we’re God
#2: And we DELAY plans like we’re God.
And I want to give you some Biblical wisdom on those things today…because both of those things are wreaking havoc on our lives.
MAKING PLANS LIKE YOU’RE GOD (ARROGANT BOASTING)
James says that we go “on and on” talking about our “arrogant schemes”…
“I’ll go here, make money this way”…and so on and so forth.
One of the things you ought to ask yourself every week when you listen to a message, and every day when you read the Bible is this: “Where am I excusing myself from this passage?”
And for a lot of us it’s that phrase, “Arrogant schemes”
You read “arrogant scheme”, and you think, “Pyramid Scheme”
You think of your crazy friend who always has a crazy idea about how to make money…
Like their latest idea about how they’re going to start a business selling VHS tapes because everyone loves retro!
But in truth, isn’t any statement where we say, “I’m going to do this next month/year and this will happen”, an arrogant scheme?”
Are we really God?
Do we really know?
Or are we guilty of making plans…like we’re God?
We do this WAY more than you might think.
We can’t stop prognosticating:
“There’s going to be a recession in 2 years.
“There’s no way the CUBS actually win the world series”
“I’m going to sell my house in the Spring”
“We’re going to have 3 kids”
“I will get my degree next Spring”
“I will pay off all of my debt in 5 years”
Do you know that for sure?
Are you God?
But James says, our words are just arrogant boasting.
What about all the people who on September 10th, 2001 were confidently talking about what they were absolutely going to do the next day?
We just don’t know…
My dad just recently retired as a math teacher, after 40 years of teaching.
When I was in 9th grade, my dad was my teacher for “Honors Geometry”
And that year, and there was a girl who sat behind me that I would often talk to.
Maybe she cheated off my work…since I could cheat off the Teacher’s edition that was conveniently at my house.
But she was smart.
But a few years later, she unexpectedly died in a car accident.
She had plans.
Not just for that day…but for her life.
We’re not ultimately in control.
There isn’t a person in this room whose cell phone is immune from ringing during my message with news of absolute tragedy.
We’re not in control.
It’s painful…I know.
James says in v. 14, “What is your life?”
You’re a mist!
(Get out spray bottle and start spraying)
You appear for a second, and you’re gone”
You’re not in control.
You’re just 1 of 7 billion…1 of countless billions and billions who have ever lived.
We’re a mist…
In the grand scheme of the whole timeline of it all, we’re gone in a second.
And James wants you…he dares you…to imagine the ignorance of a mist boasting about what it’s going to do.
“I’m going to be so Awesome and incredib……..
“I’m going to accomplish so m….”
And so is us making plans like we’re God.
A PROPER LIFE OF HUMILITY
So how do you live a proper live of humility?
Because this is a thinking-person’s church, surely the answer isn’t just “sit back and accept fate”
Notice in verse 13, they didn’t say, “We may go, but we WILL go”
Their fault isn’t in making plans, but in assuming they are in absolute control of their plan
You should still HAVE a plan!
The Book of Proverbs in the Bible is filled with verses about the wisdom of planning
It’s not a sin to be organized.
Some of you just said, “Amen.”
Some of you just said, “I never agree w/ everything he says”
Look at verse 15 if you have it in front of you:
We’re supposed to say, “If it’s the Lord’s will, we will do x, y, & z”
But notice, they STILL HAVE A PLAN..
But that plan is firmly planted in humility.
In recognition that God is sovereign…He is in control…He has the ultimate plan.
And that doesn’t mean that you have to say “If it’s the Lord’s will…” to everything
I will “eat a bacon cheeseburger for lunch…if it’s the Lord’s will”
“I will get up from my chair…if it’s the Lord’s will!”
No, it means that we speak with humility on our lips.
I’m experiencing this in my own life right now.
This passage is quite relevant in regards to Renovation’s search for land.
As many of you know…our church is growing fast…and we’re not going to fit here at Northpoint forever if God continues to allow us to keep reaching this many people for Christ.
And yet our search for land has been long process, and at times difficult.
And yet, after our church spent some considerable time in prayer this summer…
we now feel like we’ve had some significant movement in the last month…
and we’re starting to feel like we’re really close to making our first real offer w/ decent potential…
And hopefully over the next month, we’ll be bringing many more details to you.
But listen, I don’t know.
We can make all the plans we want (and we should)
We can seek God and feel confident that He’s leading…but it’s hard to be 100% certain.
That’s why we call it faith and not knowledge.
And anything could happen…
The seller could turn us down
The seller could pull it off the market.
1,000 things could go wrong
And if so, we just have to trust that God has a different plan.
But when we talk about what’s going to happen, we have to speak with humility about what WE THINK the plan is…but with great CONFIDENCE that God indeed has a plan.
And when you live this way, you’ll find life doesn’t feel so turbulent.
Do you remember when reality singing shows were at their absolute peak?
I can remember when American Idol came out in 2001.
I was in college, and my summer job was awesome.
I was a DJ at a local radio station.
But I can remember working the evening shift, and we had a TV in our studio…and I’d turn down…Lionel Richie, or whatever soft rock classic I was supposed to be playing at the time…and turn on American Idol and listen.
And for years, we’ve watched as all sorts of teens and young adults attempted to philosophize the reasons for their success on national television.
Ryan Seacrest would ask them: “How’d you get here??”
And they’d tell us, “If you just work hard, set your mind on it, you can live your dreams!”
And there were always a small handful who said something like, “I’m just thankful to God that I’m here. He got me here”
It doesn’t seem like a big difference, right? One of those people is a bit more spiritual that’s about it?
Maybe not a big difference in the moment, but how you think about WHO exactly is in control of your past…has massive ramifications for how you will handle your future.
Let’s follow the story arch.
In the beginning, these shows churned out real stars:
Kelly Clarkson, Daughtry, Carrie Underwood
But as time went on, it just didn’t happen anymore.
Like, name me a legitimate star who got their start on “The Voice?” (cricket)
And 1 of the things that drives me crazy about these shows nowadays is when judges tell the contestants, “Wow. You’re going to be SUCH a star! So successful!”
Except 99% of them won’t.
Flash forward to 5 years later for most of these contestants, when the high from being “Reality TV Famous” has long worn off, and they’re suffering from fame-withdrawal, and none of their co-workers at White Castle know who they are…
The question now is: What is their life-philosophy doing for them now?
If it was their own passion & hard work that got them to stardom, who’s fault is it that now nobody knows who they are?
When they’re lying in bed at night, , they’re going to answer that question in the only way they can, they’ll say it’s their own fault.
“I didn’t work hard enough. I’m not good enough. Not pretty enough. Can’t sing well enough. I didn’t focus enough”
Do you see the breakdown of what happens when you think you’re completely in control?
The problem with making plans like you’re God, or living like you’re always in control, is that when things go really well, guess who gets the credit?
YOU! (This is how people get prideful!)
And then when things don’t go well, guess who gets blamed?
We end up wallowing in self-pity because…it’s all our fault.
This is why a lot of unbelievers (& even some believers) live such up and down lives.
They come to work on Monday and they’re so happy about life and what they’ve accomplished…
But by Wednesday, they seem like they’re in a severe depression because something they had planned to go a certain way just didn’t.
When you live in the illusion of control, life feels like one big nauseating rollercoaster that you can’t seem to get to go your own way.
If you haven’t surrendered the results of your future to God…you WILL struggle.
We think being in control is the best way to feel stable.
But friends, the tighter you’re hanging on to control, the more painful it’ll be when God has to pull you off of it when He needs to take you a different direction.
But for the believer who knows the Lord is in control, there is so much more of stability to life.
When life doesn’t seem to work the way you wanted…you trust Him anyway.
And when life goes well…you praise Him. You thank Him.
Yeah, sure, you planned for it…you worked hard to get your degree.
But so did others…who got sick along the way, or life unexpectedly through a massive wrench at them that stopped their progress in school.
Blessings are first and foremost a blessing, not a reward.
What plans do you need to surrender to Him?
Where do you need to stop taking credit?
Where do you need to trust Him?
DELAYING PLANS LIKE YOU’RE GOD (ARROGANT PROCRASTINATION)
So James tells us that we ought to remember we’re just a mist…we can’t make plans like we’re God…
That’s just arrogant boasting.
And for some of you…if you’re not “a planner,” and the last thing you are is a “control freak”…you’re eating this up.
You’re going, “yeah, just sit back and enjoy the ride…if you get to it…you get to it…”
And it’s to you that James now turns his attention J
After warning us that we don’t even know what tomorrow will bring, he essentially tells us that:
We fail not only when we “make plans like we’re God,” but also when we “DELAY plans like we’re God”
Look at verse 17.
I had to read this 2 or 3 times until I went… “Oh wow!”
(James 4:17) – NIV
17 If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.
It might feel like a random or unconnected verse, but it is not!
Think of it this way:
Do you have any place in your life where you’ve been saying, “Yeah, I know I need to do this…but I’ll do it later?”
“I need to talk to my boss about this”
“I need to just tell my brother I’m sorry”
“I need to finally share my faith with my best friend”
“I need to get serious about God again!”
James says, “If we know the good we ought to do, and we don’t do it, it’s wrong”
And in this case, it’s not making plans with arrogant boasting.
It’s DELAYING plans with arrogant procrastination.
The Bible brilliantly tells us that both control & procrastination have the same root problem: Pride
It sounds funny to hear some of those words together though, right?
Like: Arrogant procrastination.
But that’s what it is.
We, falsely, think that we are in control enough that we can do it later.
We delay plans like we’re God.
Like we KNOW that “Tomorrow is promised” .
We want to live like we’re dying, like each day is our last, but we just can’t seem to
I heard a quote recently that said, “We are always complaining that our days are few yet acting as though there would be no end of them.”
Maybe God’s even moving your heart right now.
And you’re thinking, “I’m going to leave here…and pick up the phone…and finally do this”
I pray that you do!
But many of us won’t.
We’ll fall right back into “arrogant procrastination.”
I’m doing this in my own life.
I haven’t had conversations I know I need to have.
For a lot of us, it’s not because we don’t know life is short…
But because, we are CERTAIN we have more time.
We can’t be certain of anything.
We’re not God.
A PROPER LIFE OF OBEDIENCE
James says, stop living like that.
It’s sin. It’s evil.
We say, “Don’t call my procrastination, sin!”
But James says, it is, and here’s why:
It’s sin because it’s rebellion.
Sin isn’t just doing what God tells you not to do. (don’t lie, don’t steal)
Sin is also…NOT doing what God tells you what you should do!
What has God been telling you to do?
Listen, if God keeps putting these ideas on your heart for what He wants you to do, stop killing them in their infancy.
If God’s calling you to forgive…forgive now.
If God’s calling you to be obedient in something…be obedient…now.
To delay…is actually to rebel…it’s to kick Him off His throne.
You’re saying both that YOU KNOW BETTER…and you know that YOU HAVE MORE TIME.
And neither of those are true
W.M. Lewis once said, “The tragedy of life is not that it ends so soon, but that we wait so long to begin it.”
I just started reading the biography of William Booth, who started the Salvation Army.
And when he was a young man, one of his common sayings, was: “God shall have all there is of William Booth.”
Give up making plans like you’re God.
And stop…delaying plans…like you’re God.
You’re not God (SPRAY THE MIST)
Life is always better when we step down off the throne and let Him back on.
And I would be remiss to cover this passage and not mention that the Bible tells us that we can’t know 99.99% of the future.
But it doesn’t say that we can’t know 100% of the future.
We are told there are some things we can know.
We’re told that our lives on earth will end.
On our own, we cannot beat death.
Of that we can be certain.
And yet, there is one who has beaten death
And can point us the way to eternal life.
In fact, the Bible tells us that there is a way to be certain of where our eternal life will take place.
But first we need to understand something:
It’s pretty clear in today’s passage, that it doesn’t take much to sin.
Even avoiding the things that we should do (apologize, forgive, etc.) is sin.
And the Bible tells us that we ALL sin.
(Romans 3:23) – NIV
for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
And we “fall short of the glory of God” because God is perfect.
God is Holy. He’s just.
God can’t ignore sin.
We can’t cross the bridge into heaven until something has been done about all of our sin.
And so justice must be done for our sins.
And that the Bible says…is an eternal separation from God…in hell.
We can’t cross into heaven when we are so sinful.
But see God isn’t only JUST…He’s also LOVE.
Here’s the beauty of the Bible…because it’s the beautiful middle ground, not the extremes of the world.
It’s not just that God loves you, but doesn’t care what you do.
And it’s not just you’re just 1 of 7 billion, so how could God possible care about you.
The Bible says…God cares both about your sin…and about you.
About each and every person. All of them.
In fact, God is SO in love with you…He’s so crazy about YOU…that He couldn’t bear being a part from you.
And so here’s what He did.
He sent His only Son Jesus to earth…on a rescue mission…to die on the cross…in your place…for your sin.
This is WHY Jesus died.
He’s taking our punishment…because justice must be done!
And the Bible says, that if you BELIEVE in Him…you believe that He died for you…and you want to now follow Him as your God…you can be forgiven.
When you believe in that, the Bible says that God will take the punishment off of you, and onto Jesus…and you will be clean in God’s eyes.
This is why He sent Jesus!
But this forgiveness is not automatically given to everyone.
You must believe in faith…that Jesus died for you.
And offer up your life to Him…as He offered His for yours.
Will you do that this morning?
IS there anyone that needs to do that for the first time this morning?
Will you say, “I surrender. I believe He died for me, and it’s time for me to follow Him with my life”
This is how you’re forgiven.
And listen, what we’ve been saying all morning about “tomorrow is not promised,” nowhere is that more important than this very topic.
If you were to die tomorrow…you will spend eternity (forever) in either heaven or hell.
Jesus came to forgive you and change your life”
Surrender to Him today.
Don’t put this off anymore.
You don’t know.
And so right now…I want to give you an opportunity to believe in Jesus and give your life to Him.
In fact, let’s just have everyone bow their heads and close their eyes as I want this to be a special moment between you and God.
If that’s you…and it’s time for you to put your trust in Jesus for the first time…in a moment…I’m actually going to ask you to respond by quietly standing up right where you are.
It’s a symbolic way to say to God, “Here I am. I surrender. I believe you died for me. I want to follow YOU”
NO ONE will be looking at you…no one (don’t even think about that!). This is about you and God.
I just want to give you an opportunity to draw the line in the sand.
So wherever you are, if I’m talking to you.. and you’d like to become a follower of Jesus Christ, to enter into a relationship with Him, and accept his gift of forgiveness, I want you to stand up wherever you are.
If God is nudging your heart in this…that means He’s talking to you. That means…it’s TIME. If you feel it in your pulse…in your heart…that’s God. Accept His forgiveness. Start a new life with Him. It’s amazing!
If you’re standing up, would you pray this prayer with me?
It’s not a magic prayer…but just a prayer to tell God where you’re at… the Bible says, we 1) believe in our hearts and 2) confess with our mouths.
So I want you to say it out loud with me. Repeat after me
IN fact, there are a lot of other believers already in the room, and this is what we believe.
So, let’s all say it together with these new believers.
Repeat after me
I confess to you, that I have sinned against you.
But God I believe, that you sent your Son Jesus, to take my place
And God I thank you, for forgiving my sins.
And now I commit, to following you, with my life.
As everyone else still has their eyes closed, I want to talk to those If you are standing for one second.
I need you to do one more thing for me.
It will only take a few small minutes of your life, but I believe these are a few of the most important minutes of your life.
You’ve just made the most important decision of your life, and I believe in any scenario, that requires some more information…
So here’s what we’re going to do…In just a second, I’m going to pray, but right before I do that, I need you to quietly sneak out of your row, and head towards the hallway where it will be quiet.
Members of our follow-up team are standing there to talk to you right in the hallway, and they want to give you some extremely important resources & next steps to get started on the most important journey in your life.
I promise you’ll be able to sneak right back into the service & your seat in just a few moments.
But for now, would you please had out there.
Go ahead. You can all go together. Thank you.
Let me pray.
Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN
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