Planning to Fail (PART ONE)

SCRIPTURE STUDY IN JAMES 4:13-17

First, I would suggest you have your Bible close by in this study, for I’m going to be addressing your FUTURE.

[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.

GOOD INTENTIONS [Additional Bible verses: 1 John 3:18; Colossians 3:1-25; Psalm 126:1-2; 1 Timothy 2:4;Psalm 119:105;2 Peter 1:20-21; Romans 13:1-7; John 7:16, 14:15].

Verse 13:  “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.”

Most of us are interested in the future.  We want to know what’s ahead of us down the road in our families, our job, our community, and yes, our church.

People have different ways of looking ahead.  Would you believe that some use tea leaves, others use palm reading, others even use astrology?  Those are a little more sophisticated.  The real books like Megatrends and other things, trying to understand what the FUTURE holds are too numerous to name.  So I want to look closely at what God has revealed in His Word.

In James Chapter 4, we read a story about a first-century wheeler-dealer, a boastful businessman, a man who was making plans for his future.  

The man in the story, who in many respects, would be called a successful man in the first century or the 21st Century.  But let me first give you a definition of failure I once read about years ago in a journal.  It most likely will be a different definition than you’re used to:

“Failure is succeeding at the wrong thing”

Everyone in your community, your workplace, maybe calling your life a SUCCESS and you may secretly see yourself as an abysmal FAILURE.

THREE MISTAKES

This man in the story made three mistakes we should avoid.

First, beware of Self-centered Planning.

Listen to this man.  Get inside of his head, if you can, on his planning for the future.  He’s looking forward to a tremendous, successful, business endeavor.  And first of all, he’s planning the period of time it will take.  Look in verse 13:  “a year…”

Now this man, in his thinking, says, “All right.  Today, or tomorrow, I’m going to go to a city and I’m going to stay there a year.”  So I don’t know about you, but I can see this man pulling out his calendar.  He has his sharp pencil while he’s looking at these things.  And so, he encircles this day and draws a line through this year and he says, “That’s where I’m going to invest my time this coming year.”

But he’s not finished yet!

He’s also PLANNING the place where he’s going to.  Get out the travel brochures and the laptop!

Look again at verse 13:

“I will go into such a city…”

Now he has a ton of cities out there to choose from.  But he’s looking at THIS city, the advantages here, the advantages there.  He says, “That’s the city!”  And so on Rand’s Road Map, he puts a circle around THIS city.  Over here on the calendar, he has the DATE underlined.

So he has already planned the place, and he’s planned the time period.  But not only that, he goes on to plan something else.

Planning the Procedure.

Now he’s going to BUY and SELL.

Evidently, he has some marketing plan up his sleeve.  Maybe he has a degree in Marketing from the University of Jerusalem.  And he says, “I can buy the product for this and I can sell it for that and I can make a tidy profit.”

So he has planned.  He has planned the period, the place, and the procedure.  He’s also planned the PROFIT: “…I will buy and sell and make a profit.”  THAT’S IT!

It sounds good to me,  It isn’t like he’s doing anything wrong.  The Bible certainly doesn’t condemn business; it encourages it.  The Bible doesn’t condemn planning or making a profit either.  It encourages it.  These things are not wrong.

So, what then is wrong with this man?

Well, he left God out of his plans altogether.  He’s not consulting with God nor is he seeking God’s WILL in this.

This seemingly ‘self-made man’ is like so many today.

Your WORSHIP LIFE is one thing, your BUSINESS LIFE is another thing.

You’ve divided your life into the secular and the sacred.  And so you come to church and worship, and then plan your life as if there were no God.  Oh, you might run your plans by a family member, a close friend first before going ahead with your plan.  You know, it’s good to get a second opinion.  And the biggest fool isn’t the man who says there’s no God; the biggest fool is the man who says there’s a God and then doesn’t live like it!

THE KEY

Do you really take God into your planning?

The key to all of this is in VERSE 15:

Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”

He’d not said, “Lord, what is Your will?”  He’s not seeking the will of God first.  He’s not saying, “Oh God, show me Your will?”  He says, “I’m going to do it this time.  I’m going to do the procedure–I’m going to make this kind of money.”

How many times in my Christian life have failed to seek God’s will in my plans?

Have you ever asked God, “Lord, BLESS what I’m doing,” rather than, “Lord, help me to do what You’re blessing” to find really the will of God?

God wants to show you His will.

He wants to show you His will as you look toward your future.  Here are a few encouraging Bible verses to meditate on.

PSALM 32, VERSE 8 – Here’s A PROMISE:

I [the Lord] will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you. [AMP]

By the way, to GUIDE with God’s eye means that you have a very close relationship with Him.

When my children were little and my wife and I both sang in the church choir, they would at times be cutting up.  Nobody else would know it, but I’d look down and say from the choir loft, “You’re going to get it, right where you are!”  And then go right on, just GUIDING with our eyes.  There, and they’d straighten up.

That’s the kind of intimate relationship we need with the Lord.

JOHN 16, VERSE 13 –

Jesus gives the PROMISE with more specificity, speaking of the Holy Spirit:

“But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all truth.  He will not speak on His own; He will speak only what He hears, and He will tell you what is yet to come.”  [NIV]

We have a heavenly GUIDE.  He’s the Holy Spirit.  He’s here to LEAD us.

One more verse, Romans 8, VERSE 14 –

For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.  [AMP]

How wonderful it is to know that we’re sons and daughters of the King–God’s GUIDING us with His eye.  How wonderful to hear His voice in a dark world, saying, “This is the way, walk in it.”  How wonderful to be led by the Spirit of God.

God has a PLAN for every area of your life, no, just at your church.

Your education, your business, your marriage; God has a PLAN for your life.

DO YOU WANT IT?

[Continued in PART TWO]

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CREDITS

PHOTOS/IMAGES:  Google Image search.

Bible Translations:  New International Version (NIV); Amplified Bible (AMP).

SOURCE:  Topical Bible – What Does the Bible Say About Good Intentions.

 

 

HEARTS OF STONE REVEALED

“Does GOD Have A Bad Memory?”

After my last Blog-post (Plugging Into the “Eternal”!),  regarding the question “Can a Christian lose their salvation?”, another question then arose:  “ISN’T THERE A BIBLE VERSE ABOUT THE “UNPARDONABLE SIN?”  So here we are once more, attempting to answer an often misunderstood and questioned verse in Scripture.

The “BUT’s” In Two Bible verses Matthew 12:31,32 AMP.

JESUS says,  [31] “Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy (every evil, abusive, injurious speaking, or indignity against sacred things) can be forgiven men, BUT blasphemy against the [Holy] Spirit shall not and cannot be forgiven.

[32] And whoever speaks against the Son of Man will be forgiven,  BUT whoever speaks against the Spirit, the Holy One, will not be forgiven, either in this world and age or in the world and age to come.”

Don’t you just love it, when someone uses the word “but” in a sentence?  “I know I told you that I could do [such and such], BUT…something has come up and I can’t attend.”

The Online Dictionary defines the word But – used to introduce something contrasting with what has already been mentioned.”

I capitalized and bold typed the word “but” in Matthew 12:31, 32 for this purpose–Jesus made a declaration, then introduces something contrasting to what was said.

The Scene That Precedes These Words of Jesus: Matthew 12:22-30

A man who was both blind & mute has just been healed.  Matthew tells us that the man was also possessed by a demon and that Jesus ordered the demon out of him.  Once the demon left, the man was able to see & speak.

This should have been a time for great rejoicing, because the man could see the faces of loved ones and friends.  He could now see the sunrise and sunsets and all the beauties of nature.

BUT…it wasn’t a time of celebration for everyone for the hard-hearted Pharisees were upset by what Jesus had done.  They couldn’t deny His miracle, but they could attempt to explain it away.

So they said,  “This Man drives out demons only by and with the help of Beelzebub, the prince of demons” (Matt. 12:24).

Then JESUS responds to them by saying they should have learned by now that JESUS isn’t a good one to challenge to a debate.  He always won!

This time is no different, and JESUS makes some solid arguments in His behalf.  He says, “If Satan drives out Satan, he has become divided against himself and disunified; how then will his kingdom last or continue to stand?” (Matt. 12:26).

Then JESUS Issues A Warning!

Matthew 12:32:  Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven,  but whoever speaks against the Holy One, will not be forgiven, either in this world and age or in the world and age to come.”

JESUS is saying here that the SIN against the Holy Spirit is unforgivable, not because the Holy Spirit is greater than the Father…greater than the Son, but because the Holy Spirit is later than the Father and Son.

WHAT IS THE “UNPARDONABLE SIN” OF WHICH JESUS WARNS?

At the time that JESUS was speaking, the Jews had their own teaching about the Holy Spirit.  According to Jewish teaching, the Holy Spirit had two supreme functions:

#1.  Holy Spirit brought God’s truth to men and women; the Holy Spirit was God’s instrument in helping us come to know God’s will for us.

#2.  Holy spirit enabled men and women to recognize and understand God’s TRUTH when they saw it.  The Holy Spirit works upon the heart & minds of man.

So, man needs the Holy Spirit to receive and recognize God’s TRUTH.  Putting it another way, Holy Spirit is working on us to BELIEVE in Jesus Christ, to bring us to accept Him, our Savior & Lord.

An important principle we can’t forget!  “What you don’t use, you lose!”  

This is so true in almost every area of our lives.

TRUE PHYSICALLY – Failing to use and exercise certain muscles (how well I know this principle), will weaken and become unusable.

TRUE MENTALLY – What we’ve learned in school years ago is forgotten because we haven’t used them in years [ex. foreign languages, conjugating verbs, etc].  The knowledge we once had has long since gone because we did not exercise and make use of it.

The Pharisee’s Heart and Minds.

We can also lose the ability to be moved or changed by God’s goodness & truth when Holy Spirit presents it to us.  This is the STAGE to which these particular Pharisees had come.

1.  The Pharisees know the Scripture (But still lost-not saved!).

2.  The Pharisees formally prayed in public… often, because that was what man expected them to do.

3.  The Pharisees went to church every time they had the chance (still not righteous).

And yet, they had so long been blind and deaf to God’s guiding hand; insisted on their own way of doing things; they had come to a stage of their lives that they couldn’t recognize God’s truth and goodness when they saw it.  Not even in a MIRACLE!

They could look at God’s goodness and call it Satan’s evil…

They could look at JESUS, the Son of God, and call Him the devil.

Whatever the UNPARDONABLE…UNFORGIVABLE SIN is…it has to do with the idea of A SIN

A SIN AGAINST THE HOLY SPIRIT–

That is what the Bible says–and the Bible clearly says “every sin and blasphemy can be forgiven” (verse 31).  

So, the “unpardonable sin”  isn’t a kind of sin.  The Bible says any SIN you can name (adultery, murder, the angry fist in god’s face, impatience, lying, cheating, stealing) will be forgiven IF…we come confessing (1 John 1:9).

There are, no “ifs”, “but’s”, or “maybe’s” attached to Jesus’ Promise–

The “unpardonable sin” must be a continual rejection of the Promptings of the Holy Spirit. 

The UNPARDONABLE SIN   is not the first step you take or the second step you take.  BUT when God calls you, and you keep going persistently AGAINST Him, it is possible for the mind to become callused and the heart becomes hardened; you no longer HEAR GOD’S VOICE.

Does all this mean that everybody that denies God’s voice and doesn’t hear His promptings has committed the “unpardonable sin”?  Not at all!

There are many people who don’t listen to God’s voice today, feel that their heart is pretty hard, but at some stage of their life some dramatic event comes into view and they turn to God.

But is it possible, according to God’s Word,  to enter into a STATE OF SIN; you keep on sinning, and sinning, and sinning–habitual sin–your heart turns into stone, not because the Holy Spirit stops calling–He keeps on calling, but you can’t hear anymore!

Something to Remember…

2856407085_ece25fe731If you keep hardening your heart, and you die suddenly [in your sleep, a car accident, etc.], if you’ve hardened your heart up to this point…you have REJECTED the Holy Spirit.

The Final and Complete Rejection–

“Blasphemy” against the Spirit is the final and complete rejection of Jesus Christ.

This SIN is a denial of the Spirit’s message and the rejection of the Lord’s deity.

JESUS made it clear from the beginning that ALL SINS can be forgiven; but God can’t forgive the REJECTION of His Son.

It is the Holy Spirit who bears witness to Christ Jesus and convicts the lost sinner.  When it all come down to it; the ONLY SIN where there is NOT FORGIVENESS, is the SIN for which no forgiveness is wanted!

The Pharisee’s Condition Presented in Matthew 12…

Over time, they hated and hardened their hearts against JESUS, for them there was no turning back.

They witnesses an Awesome Miracle…

They make a Baseless Accusation…

They heard an Undeniable Answer…

BUT, they were GUILTY of the UNFORGIVABLE SIN!

SALVATION is denied them, not because it wasn’t offered, but because they have PERMANENTLY REJECTED the message given by the Holy Spirit.

THE MESSAGE:

For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He [even] gave up His only begotten (unique) Son, so that whoever believes in (trusts in, clings to, relies on) Him shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal (everlasting) life”  (John 3:16 AMP).

But there is MORE GOOD NEWS!

JESUS came to deliver forgiveness that is available to everyone!

The ever flowing waters of the Well of Life is always available to those who desire to come and quench their thirst.

I always have an old Hymn Book close to my computer to USE for reference in my Blogs.  The lyrics (and the tune) became renewed in studying for this  particular POST:

There is a fountain filled with blood

Drawn from Emanuel’s veins;

And sinners, plunged beneath that flood,

Lose all their guilty stains.

If you are reading this Blog-post and there are SINS ON YOUR HEART–if you have been considering the Gospel–then don’t put it off another minute!  Each time you hear an invitation and don’t respond, your heart grows a little harder.  As long as the Gospel of Jesus has an effect on your heart, there is still hope.