Notes: LEARNING TO TRUST
SCRIPTURE READING: James 4:11-17
- Relationships are important to God.
- How we treat and respond to others is something that God takes notice of.
- We cannot get away with treating others incorrectly indefinitely.
- We have to remind ourselves that within each human being the ‘breath of God’ resides.
- So, we cannot treat others as we like or as we think they deserve.
- We have to follow Christ’s example and treat others with the knowledge that His breath is in them.
- We should always remind ourselves that we will reap what we have sown.
- Our interaction with others, especially other believers, should be done in a way that honours God and His Spirit that lives within them.
- This is the challenge to each one of us.
- This is an area in each of our lives that needs to change and be constantly aligning with the pattern of Jesus and His love and treatment of others, even in His most difficult and desperate hours.
1. WE SHOULD NOT ‘SPEAK EVIL’ OF OTHERS.
- This is a very practical bit of advice that the Apostle gives us.
- James 4:11 ‘Don’t speak evil against each other, dear brothers and sisters.’
- It’s not vague or suggestive in any way.
- It is direct and instructive and is something we can take hold of and apply to our lives.
- ‘Speaking evil’ of others comes in many forms and varieties.
- It can be as simple as saying unkind things.
- At the same time it can include deliberate, intentional and malicious unkind truths and lies.
- Speaking evil can include criticism, gossip, backbiting and slander.
- A more subtle form of speaking evil is speaking down to others.
- In one of its worst form it includes the concept of slander.
- Slander is when we actually speak lies or make misrepresentations to damage another person or their reputation.
- James 4:11 ‘Brothers, do not slander one another.’
- The truth of the matter is that when we engage with these things, we are in effect not submitting to God.
- God has given us clear instructions in this regard, and when we rely on our better judgement as opposed to His divine instructions, we step out of line.
- To know what the right thing is to do and not to do it, is sin.
- We need to challenge ourselves in this area and walk in victory so that we can enjoy God’s blessing and favour on our lives and be a blessing.
2. OUR PLANS
- Often, we live our lives guided by our own plans and ideas.
- James 4:13 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.’
- Planning is not evil; in fact it is very wise to plan and prepare for the future.
- I believe that planning is vital for success in every area of life.
- Can you imagine building a house without a plan?
- Taking such action would be doomed to failure.
- So planning is important.
- However, sometimes we can feel so immortal and so in control that we think all things rest within our own power and ability.
- When I was a young man, I felt very much like this. My life seemed to stretch endlessly ahead of me. I felt immortal (as if I would never die) and anything was possible if I just applied my heart and mind to it.
- We can almost become arrogant, thinking we can go wherever to like, stay for as long as we like and do whatever we like.
- This can easily become the sentiment of the way we live our lives.
- It can get to the point where we try to plan our whole life without HIM.
- Don’t plan your whole life without Him.
- Too many of God’s children have become so ‘mature’ that they have stop trusting God and His word.
- They rely more on what ‘seems good unto them’ and don’t really trust Him.
3. LIFE IS UNPREDICTABLE
- There is a problem with these great plans that we develop.
- When I was a young man in my father’s church, we went through an exhaustive planning program. We spent days and many hours devising our mission statement and our goals and vision. We had a facilitator come in and help us to put this all together so that we had a short-term, medium-term and long-term plans for the growth of the ministry. We were even taken through a detailed SWOT analysis to analyze our strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to guard against every eventuality. By the end of it we were all exhausted, but at least the plans were in place and we were very happy with ourselves.
- Now I believe it was a good and a valuable exercise and would recommend it to others. But one aspect was overlooked, and that was if something happened that none of us could have ever imagined. That is exactly what happened, my father dropped dead at a Christian march a few years later. Most, if not all of those plans proved of little value and were abandoned and have been relegated to the annals of history.
- The truth of matter is that life doesn’t always go according to our plans.
- James 4:14 ‘You do not even know what will happen tomorrow!’
- A plan is very specific, yet we don’t know what tomorrow will hold.
- Tomorrow is certainly unknown, but next year could be even more different than we could imagine.
- Proverbs 27:1 ‘Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring.’
4. HIS PLANS ARE ALWAYS THE BEST
- Our plans are good and well, and they have their place, but they must not be done with arrogance or with a sense of entitlement.
- There needs to be a flexibility, realising that the future is not guaranteed.
- It is not a matter that we should not plan because of potential disaster.
- The issue is that we should realise that we, in fact, control very little and therefore we should learn to trust the Lord more than our own plans.
- James 4:15 Instead, you ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.’
- We should be open to the knowledge that things could change in ways we could not have imagine, but in all of it God still has a plan and His plans are still for our good.
- Jeremiah 29:11 ‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’
- In the midst of all the uncertainty of life, we can have the greatest security of all and that is knowing that:
- God is still in control!
- He still has a plan!
- He can work everything out for our good.
5. LIFE IS SHORT
- The truth of the matter is that life is short.
- James 4:14 ‘What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.’
- The brevity of life is always something that has intrigued me.
- Life is short, no matter how long we may live.
- We must not deceive ourselves into thinking we have plenty of time.
- ‘Now’, is the only thing we can be sure of.
- Don’t wait to use your special things on a special day. Today is that special day! Bring out the best china and celebrate now.
- The strange thing is how that in the midst of the reality that life is short and uncertain, we can feel so secure. It’s only when we face an unexpected reality that we can be rattled to the core.
- The only way to overcome this is to know where our hope and trust should be, and place it there, and then rest in our trust in the Lord.
- Another translation says it like this:
- James 4:14 ‘What is the nature of your life? You are really but a wisp of vapor a puff of smoke, a mist that is visible for a little while and then disappears into thin air.’
- Psalm 103:15-16 ‘Our days on earth are like grass; like wildflowers, we bloom and die. The wind blows, and we are gone – as though we had never been here.’
- Life is short, God is good, (a good, good Father) and the purpose is to learn to trust and depend on Him at all times and in all situations.
By: Andrew W Roebert
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