What is the Meaning of James 4.13-17

“Making Godly Plans”

James 4:13-17

INTRODUCTION What is the Meaning of James 4.13-17

James 4. A home, once worth $3 million, overlooks the beautiful Oddicome Beach in Torquay UK. It has a panoramic view of the coastline and was once a popular retirement getaway in the 1930s. Gorgeous place!

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It was up for sale over a telephone auction. Sue Diamond puts in her bid at just $220,000… and she wins! A $3 million home sold for $219,826. She’s excited!

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But there’s a problem: she failed to make a plan to look at the house or have an inspection done on it.

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Would you ever buy a house without setting foot in it? Not a very good plan!

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Eight days after the auction, it soon became apparent that the auction hammer wasn’t the only thing to have fallen. Her garden and swimming pool also fell … because of coastal erosion, her dream home fell off the top of a 300 foot cliff onto the beach below… the tall coastline it was on was shifting underneath it.

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This left the attractive 1930s house just 50 yards from the edge of the cliff.

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Since then, further landslides have demolished the home. At the auction, the potential buyers were warned that this beautiful six bedroom house was structurally unsound and beyond repair, so Ms. Diamond didn’t win her lawsuit.

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Ms. Diamond clearly failed to make adequate plans.

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I think there’s a warning somewhere in Scripture about building your house on shifting soil, isn’t there?

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Truth be told, this is exactly how many professing Christian people are living their lives. They are building their life on a poor foundation… A poor foundation which is made up of their own choices and their own desires, apart from the will of God.

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But like that $3 million home, these choices seem so attractive. Living life this way, living life on the edge, apart from God’s will seem so exciting, especially with view that you have! But just like Ms. Diamond’s home, if you live life that way apart from the will of God, in the end you’re very soul will be swept out from underneath you. And you will fall, and perhaps for eternity.

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But if you act on Jesus’ words and trust in Him for salvation and hate your sin and you ask yea …. even plead with him to save you from your sin, He will, because He’s died for you… That’s God’s great plan for you!

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Bu you must make godly plans in light of His great gospel! Plans that have God at the center. This is James chapter 4 verses 13-17

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James 4:13–17 13 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.” 14 Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.” 16 But as it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil. 17 Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.

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And the problem is the church today is indirectly encouraging many people to live life apart from God. The church is becoming more and more secular and less and less sacred. The church doesn’t want to offend anyone, and so we don’t use the Scripture to give voice to God’s opinion on some sin. Approving of homosexuality or women pastors, which is strictly forbidden in Scripture. No offence ladies, God crafted you to do everything that men can’t do…and believe me, there’s a lot we can’t do!

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The church teaches it’s people to live apart from God when it advocates human psychology over and above Scriptural counseling … divorce is as common in the church as outside the church, failing to believe the Scripture’s account of a 6 day creation.

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And fewer and fewer people today are identifying as Christian, or praying or reading their Bibles or attending church services.

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And so people in the church are becoming more secular: living without reference to God. God is no longer a starting point. His word is no longer a foundation for many even professing Christian people. They live apart from the will of God. How many supposed Christians go to a church, marry whomever, choose their job, buy and sell their homes, and move to other towns and lands and the whole time they are doing this apart from seeking God’s known will?

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I’d like to preach this morning that we “Make Godly Plans.”

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And James is addressing those who have made ungodly plans, calling it evil … and arrogance. He especially addresses it regarding business practice. First this morning, James states the problem that’s in the church: Making plans apart from God’s will in verse 13…

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  1. The Evil Arrogant Boast Corrected (vv.13-14)
    1. The boast (v.13)

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James 4:13 13 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.”

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Now, what’s wrong with that? Is it wrong to go and make a profit? To engage in business? To spend a year there to engage in business and make a profit? To go to such and such a city and spend a year there and engage business and a make profit? Is that so wrong?

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James’s tone seems to indicate it to be wrong… “Come now … come now…you who say…”

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… Come on now, fess up! See, this isn’t really who you are…if you are a Christian, this isn’t how you are to live.

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These people that James addresses have decided that they will go. They have decided when they will go today or tomorrow. They have decided where they will go, to such and such a city. They have decided how long they will be there for: a year. And they decided what they will do in that city for that amount of time: they will engage in business to make a profit.

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And they seem quite confident of that: making money.

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They have decided this. And conspicuously absent is any reference to God and his will.

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For James’s first readers as well as for all people in the history of the world, people have moved to increase their bottom line.

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Now again, there’s nothing wrong with making a profit. But it’s how the decision is being made. In other words, there’s nothing wrong per se with capitalism and wanting to make a profit. Rather the problem is that people make these decisions as if this world is all they have.

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Businesspeople are particularly tempted to make solely earthbound goals.

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But when they succeed at them, the fruit of their labor can never leave the earth, the money, the stuff, the personal success. But the same godly businessperson can make a profit with godly, heaven bound goals, the fruit of which will go with them for all of eternity. And that’s because they sought God, sought His will, and sought to be guided by Him through it all. If you don’t, it’s pride.

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ILL: In the OT book of Daniel, Nebuchadnezzar knows a thing or two about this kind of pride, the pride that says “I’m going to do this” with no reference to God. The king of Babylon strutted one day onto his palace roof. He looked out over magnificent Babylon, with it’s bright blue-tiled Ishtar Gate, impentarable walls, beautiful temples, streets and palaces…and not to mention the hanging gardens, the 7th wonder of the world, in the middle of a desert! What a beautiful place!

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Daniel 4:30 “The king reflects and says … ‘Is this not Babylon the great, which I myself have built as a royal residence by the might of my power and for the glory of my majesty?’

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Daniel 4:31–32 “While the word was in the king’s mouth, a voice comes from heaven, saying, ‘King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is declared: sovereignty has been removed from you, and you will be driven away from mankind, and your dwelling place will be with the beasts of the field. You will be given grass to eat like cattle, and seven periods of time will pass over you until you recognize that the Most High is ruler over the realm of mankind and bestows it on whomever He wishes.’

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That’s not the end of Nebuchadnezzar’s story…

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But how many of us have taken credit for something God has done? How many of times have we made plans without reference to God? Do you have every part of your life submitted to Him? Like a disobedient little child, are you holding something behind your back … “No, I didn’t take it…” God knows, just confess it all to Him!

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TRANS: James gives us 2 perspectives to help us not live so boastfully “I’m going to do this or I’m going to do to that…” while not seeking God’s will on the matter.

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2 perspectives to help us, first life is unpredictable.

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  1. Some perspective… (v.14)
    1. Life is unpredictable.

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    You boast like this that you’re going to do this or that without seeking God’s will…verse 14…James 4:14 14 Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow.

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    You don’t know what your life is going to be like tomorrow! What do you mean today or tomorrow you’re going to go into such and such a city be there for a year to make some profit. You don’t even know what your life is going to be like tomorrow!

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    Life is unpredictable. Life is uncertain.

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    ILL: Really? I don’t know what my life is can be like tomorrow? Technically, no you don’t. You don’t know what your life is going to be like tomorrow. Even with all of their highly sophisticated instruments, the most highly trained meteorologist a weatherman, is wrong what, half the time? You can’t predict the weather, and if we could predict the stock market, we’d all be millionaires or more!

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    You can’t really predict anything! I suppose you have statistical probabilities, but you really don’t know what your life is going to be like tomorrow.

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    ILL: One person writes about an unpredictable evening they had … “I was going to a Christmas play with my aunt. We ate at Max and Erma’s beforehand and a waitress tripped and dumped an entire table’s order of food onto a customers head. Then we went to the play. There was an angel statue that was supposed to “come alive” at the end, but instead he passed out and fell off the stage. And on the way home we were following an RV towing a Jeep. As the RV turned on to I-70 the Jeep came loose and went through a fence.”

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    You could have been any one of those guys, getting food dumped on your head, passing out and going to the hospital, or running your vehicle off the road…

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    Life is unpredictable… so you’re really going to make your own plans? As if, you can count on your ability to make plans? Are you really that arrogant?

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    ILL: It’s like a 6 year old buckling his seat belt, thinking he can drive the family car… “It looks easy when dad does it!” That ain’t gonna work! We need help making plans!

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    But we all know it goes deeper than just life be unpredictable…life is short, too! Here’s another persepective to help us depend on God to make godly plans. The rest of verse 14 …

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    1. Life is short.

James 4:14 14 … You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.

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EXP: Your life is short, just as a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.” Take hot cup of coffee outside on a cold day and watch the steam and time how long it lasts … Breath out [WHHHHH] when it’s bitterly cold outside or start a good hot fire and try to watch how high the smoke rises…it’s gone! That’s how short your life is. As short as how long you see your breath on cold winter’s day…

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ILL: If the Lord doesn’t come back first, your chances of dying are 100%.

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What do you think of this title of an article … “Drinking Coffee Tied To Lower Risk Of Death.”

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So if you drink coffee, you are less likely to die…boy, wouldn’t that be nice! I realize there’s a way to do this study, but the title is a little misleading! The only way to reduce your risk of dying is to trust Christ and if the rapture happens, Christ will take you home without dying!

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Trust Christ, repent of your sin…He’s died for you! He’s been raised from the dead for you! And if you trust Him, all of this life will pale in comparison to the next. But if you do not trust Christ, it is true: this life is all that you have … “Eat and drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die.” You better live it up now and have your best life now, for tomorrow it’s the burning garbage pit for you, right?

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Don’t live like that Christian! Depend on Christ and be saved! Life is too short! Are you living for today and for this life alone, or are you making plans in light of God’s word, in light of his will?

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ILL: Folks, life is short and you’re not guaranteed tomorrow, no matter how healthy you may think you are… Michel Montignac, a French doctor, who developed the Montignac diet. He wrote best-selling books and the diet became the basis for a chain of restaurants and his work was the inspiration for the South Beach diet. He died of prostate cancer at the age of 66.

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Nathan Pritikin, was another diet guru. He was the first to connect diet with heart disease. He promoted a low-fat diet and his longevity centers have helped many stay in good health. But he would eventually contract leukemia and die by suicide at age 69.

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Robert Atkins, created one of the most famous diets, the Atkins diet, which is basically eat all things protein. Many have indeed lost weight on that diet. But Mr. Atkins would have serious heart problems and had a heart attack and congestive heart failure and hypertension, leading to his death.

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James Fixx, who in 1977, authored “the complete book of running.” He ran 10 miles a day… And died of a heart attack at the age of 52 … while running!

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APP: So don’t be so arrogant and proud and make plans on your own apart from God’s will! Life is undpredictable and life is short; make godly plans by praying, studying His word, and seeking godly counsel.

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TRANS: So instead of making plans on your own and doing your will apart from seeking God’s will, verse 15… Here we have the righteous, humble confession…

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  1. The Righteous Humble Confession (v.15)

James 4:15 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.”

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Instead of self-confident plans that have no reference to God, you ought to say and believe in your heart, “if it is the Lord’s will, we will do this or that.” If God is willing we will do this. If God wants us to, we will do this. If God works it out, if he permits it, we will do such and such.

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“Lord, Your will be done!” My life is in the hand of God. He is God, I am not. He is sovereign, he is in control of my life, he is the Lord. He is my master he controls all of who I am and what happens to me…”If the Lord wills,” we should say.

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This heart is found throughout the New Testament…

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Paul on his missionary journeys…

Acts 18:21 21 … “I will return to you again if God wills,” and he set sail from Ephesus.

1 Corinthians 4:19 19 But I will come to you soon, if the Lord wills…

Romans 1:10 10 [I am praying that] if perhaps now at last by the will of God I may succeed in coming to you.

1 Corinthians 16:7 7 For I do not wish to see you now just in passing; for I hope to remain with you for some time, if the Lord permits.

And the author to the Hebrews … Hebrews 6:3 3 And this we will do, if God permits.

Recognize the Most High in all your activities; commit every part of your heart and life to Him, give it all to Him!

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ILL: Nebuchadnezzar learned this the hard way, did he? Turn to Daniel 4…Daniel 4 … Nebuchadnezzar thought that he, by his hand and might and glory, made all of Babylon, but he did not recognize the Most High, God. And God said that he would eat grass like the cows until he recognized the Most High.

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Immediately that word was fulfilled and he was driven outside the city and began eating grass like the cows. His hair had grown like eagles feathers and his nails like birds claws.

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And then he gives his own testimony in Daniel 4:34-35

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Daniel 4:34–35 34 “But at the end of that period, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever; For His dominion is an everlasting dominion, And His kingdom endures from generation to generation. 35 “All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, But He does according to His will in the host of heaven And among the inhabitants of earth; And no one can ward off His hand Or say to Him, ‘What have You done?’

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He alone is God, the Lord, Master, and Sovereign. King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

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Nebuchadnezzar learned to know in his heart that God is God and that he isn’t.

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APP: So, “if the Lord wills” should at least be a part of our hearts and actions, if not a part of our lips. Of course, we’re not into just saying things and not meaning it. We’re not to just say “if the Lord wills” and then go off and desire our own way.

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So, “if the Lord wills … Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.” Is that your heart?

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And again, James isn’t just concerned about your speech, but about your operation in this life; the true foundation of your life and your decision making and how you make your plans…that’s what’s James is concerned with here. Is God and His will really at the center of how you make plans? It very well could be God Himself put this idea on your heart; He just wants to see if you’ll seek Him about it.

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APP: So let’s take a very realistic scenario: you get a job offer in another city … and your primary concern is “but how much does it pay” instead of “but is there a Bible-believing church there?”

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That’s a problem… Instead, our first and primary concern is God’s will… “if the Lord wills”… Because I know, that wherever I am, he wants me regularly to meet with God’s people and He wants me to be exposed to good preaching and to serve and grow together with a group of His people. That’s clearly God’s will.

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“if the Lord wills”… How do I know what he wills? It is in the Scripture. I do not have to guess about what is in his word. There are principles in God’s word to direct you.

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TRANS: James calls for your decision: Will you demand your own way? Will you fail to desire God’s will in the matter? Well, if you boast as described it’s evil. And if you fail to make plans according to God’s will, it’s sin!

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The two sins in verses 16 and 17…

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  1. The Sins of Commission and Omission (vv.16-17)
    1. Commission: You can actively commit this sin=>boasting in your arrogance.

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      First, is a sin of commission, a sin you may actively commit regarding this…

James 4:16 16 But as it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil.

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You may commit that sin, a sin of commission.

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This is the description of what you do when you make life-building plans without God. “Here, let’s go to that city and start a business and earn a profit.” And where’s God? Did you pray about it and seek counsel?

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What does James call this? A boasting in your arrogance. You glory in your pride! You brag about your pride of life… I can do this, I have the resources I have this and that and the other I can do it and I will do it. That kind of bragging is evil!

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Dear people, we must recognize what Paul says in Romans 7:18 that, “in me dwells no good thing.” Anything good through me is from God and anything bad in me is me.

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Really, we should glory in God…”God, do you want me to go to such and such a city?”

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TRANS: But when we make life plans without God, we’re boasting in our arrogance and that’s the sin of commission, you commit this sin actively: bragging in your pride. Or you may sin a sin of omission, you may omit doing something… verse 17 …

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  1. Omission: You can omit this good thing=> making plans according to God’s will.

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James 4:17 17 Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.

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You know the right thing to do now. You know to seek God’s will on the matter. You know to pray and to seek counsel … don’t be arrogant and fail to seek God out on the matter…

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You may not brag in your pride about how you do this or that, but you still might not seek God’s will and make plans according to God’s will. Don’t omit the good thing. Don’t leave that out. Don’t commit a sin of omission by omitting to do the good thing: seek God’s will in the matter.

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CONCLUSION What is the Meaning of James 4.13-17

Pray, on your knees pray … get counsel, get biblical counsel. Pray, ransack the Scriptures, get counsel and pray! Tell the Lord you genuinely want to surrender all things to Him! Ransack the Scriptures again, get all the godly advice you can, and pray, give it all to Him and never take it back! And if you feel yourself taking it back, give it back again!

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Jesus says in …

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Matthew 7:24–27 24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 “And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. 26 “Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 “The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell—and great was its fall.”

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Poor Ms. Diamond who bought a house built on an eroding coastline! Don’t be like her! Build your life on the Lord Jesus Christ; seek His face and His will in everything and learn to make godly plans.

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552 I surrender all.

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Go to James Main Page

Go To New Testament Books

Go To BibleTrove Home Page

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