James – Life is a Vapor

Peninsula Community Church

June 16, 2013

James – Life is Vapor

James 4:13-17 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit” yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.

Today is Father’s Day and we celebrate the role of the father. As with Mother’s Day, I searched my heart and prayed about where to go for this morning and I felt the Lord speak to my heart to stay right here in James. It is here that James speaks to the focus of our lives and our future. 

Probably most of you remember where you and what you were doing on September 11, 2001. It was a day that effected each of us in different ways. It was a beautiful sunshiny day in New York; there was hardly a cloud in the sky. I had made my usual stop at the 7-11 near our house on my way to the office. As I exited the building and I started my car, I began to hear the first news reports of a plane hitting the World Trade Center. I immediately returned home and our hearts sank as we sat at the TV to receive the latest updates. Since that day, I have struggled with the thought of how many on that September morning went about their day without regard to what was about to happen? What would they do differently if they know the events that were about to unfold?

There were many stories that came from this experience. One of those stories was of a husband and wife who had some marriage issues and on that particular day they were fighting about how he worked too much and was never home. The argument was getting a bit heated when their focus turned to the TV where early reports of the tragedy were coming in. Suddenly, they embraced and immediately asked for forgiveness as the plane had hit the floor where he would have been working that morning. The day changed them and was used to heal their marriage.

A second story that came from that day did not have the same ending. A wife saw the unfolding news on the TV and called her husband to ask him how he was making out. He said everything was great and that he was having coffee with his buddies at the office and they were about to go into a meeting. The truth of the matter was that he was in a hotel room with his another woman. How that day changed them.

The fact is we do not know what tomorrow may hold. We do not even know what the next moment will hold for us. The one promise we have is that while we do not know the future we do know who holds it for us. It is in this passage that James reminds us of the brevity of life. He reminds us that life is a vapor, that life is short and that life has unexpected turns and twists. 

The question for us is not how much time do we have but what do we do with the time we have. It should be noted at this stage that we are all given the same amount of time in a day, in a week, and in a year. We are all given 24 hours in a day, which means that we have 168 hours a week. That means that with eight hours of sleep we would still have a total of 112 hours. It is what we do in that time period that makes our lives a success or a failure. The unfortunate thing is that too many squander the hours they have been given by majoring in the minors and wasting time on things that have no eternal value.

As I was preparing, this I came across this story. Suppose for a moment you were like the man who wasn’t feeling too well and went to see his doctor for a physical checkup. Shortly thereafter, He went back to see him for the results. The doctor said he had “bad news and worse news…which did he want to hear first?” The man was a bit puzzled and said he’d rather hear the bad news first. The doctor said, “The bad news is that you only have twenty-four hours to live.”  At this the man jumped up, totally flabbergasted and distraught. He paced the doctor’s office and complained, “Twenty-four hours to live? I can’t believe it! How can I possibly get my affairs in order that quickly? I can’t believe this, it is incredible! What could be worse news than this?”  The doctor said, “The worse news is that I was supposed to tell you yesterday but I forgot.”

If you knew that you only had one hour, 24 hours, a week or a year to live, what would you do differently? What would matter most to you? 

Unfortunately we have a problem. Too often we fail to maximize our life and our walk with God and with our families. You see God is Sovereign but we can circumvent God’s plan by way of disobedience and sin. The problem is that in our carnal nature we can either obey God or we can ignore His will. The result of obedience is that we will find that we have an inner peace and a joy. This inner joy and peace is not based in our circumstances but in our relationship with Christ. On the other hand, we can also have a peace about our disobedience but it will lead to a lack of joy and a disruption in our lives. It will result in brokenness and devastation.

We cannot and must ignore God’s will and his purpose for us because life is a complexity of time and activities. We cannot ignore God’s will because life is uncertain and there is no guarantee of tomorrow. We cannot ignore God’s will as life is frail and fragile. It is like a vapor. 

God has created within us a tremendous ability to make decisions and make choices. The problem too often is that we are so bound by past failures and past hurts that we allow our past to determine our present circumstances. For others we become so consumed by the future that we cannot make effective decisions in the moment. When we excessively concentrate on either the past or the future we can end up missing out on what God is doing in the moment. We will be afraid of failure. We will be afraid of what may happen. In so doing, we will become bound by vision and hope quenching fear and anxiety.

Pride is the one great sin that plagues us all. We cannot rest in the security of our past successes or failures nor can with rest on what we think things should be in the future. Things change but pride keeps us from adapting to the changes of our life. Pride keeps us from adopting new principles of faith and a new understanding of God’s word for us. We refuse to see things from God’s perspective. We refuse to grow in an understanding of who God is and what His word commands us! Pride is a huge prevention to growing in Christ and becoming all that he desires or wants for us. We must deal with the pride of our heart. We must ask God to forgive us a heart that is free from pride.

We need to focus on God’s will, His plan and His purpose for our lives today. Why were we created? We were created to serve God and have a relationship with God. Too many times we are worried about being in God’s will but if we concentrate on God’s will today and obey God today we will in essence not have to worry about God’s will tomorrow or even next week. If we are in God’s will today, and we focus on God’s will for tomorrow tomorrow we will continue to be in God’s will all of the time. We need not worry about the big issues if we are taking care of the small steps of obedience and we are in His will each step of the way.

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