Your Mission, Should You Choose To Accept It
|James 4 (NKJV™)|
|13||Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit";|
|14||whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.|
|15||Instead you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that."|
|16||But now you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.|
|17||Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.|
New King James Version®, Copyright © 1982, Thomas Nelson, Inc. All rights reserved.
What is your mission in life? As we study this passage from James, we gain a clearer understanding of God's plans for each of us - inwardly and outwardly. Let's consider who we are living to please and the rewards of a life lived faithfully.
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Well, the proposition made famous by over four decades of the television and film series, 'Mission: Impossible', which chronicles the adventures of the IMF, the Impossible Missions Force. The clip you just saw is from the latest installment in the film series which is currently in theaters. And just this past month, it's been the top grossing film worldwide and it's anticipated that when it runs its course in full, it will bring in an estimated $600,000,000.
Now in that clip, we have the main character, IMF operative Ethan Hunt, presented with yet another mission, a mission that he can either choose to accept or reject. It's a mission that will have implications upon world peace and stability and security. And with that, many people flock into the theaters. One thing is clear, there is a lot of people that are interested in what his response to that mission is.
Now tonight, you and I are presented with a mission from God. And this mission is a mission that we can either accept or reject. It's also a mission that will have implications upon our own peace, stability and security. So, if you would please arrive with me at our passage tonight in James Chapter 4 beginning in verse 13. One thing I can tell you for sure is God is intensely interested in what your response to his mission is going to be.
So friends, follow along with me. Your mission should you choose to accept it will be made more clear as we study our passage for James begins in verse 13 with these words, "Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there buy and sell and make a profit. Whereas you don't even know what's going to happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time, and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that. But now you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil. Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin."
As we look at this passage more closely, it should be noted first off a few things that God is not using James to condemn. You see, God is not through James condemning the idea of planning or having a plan or seeing a plan, follow through on. Nor, is God through James condemning capitalism or the idea of free trade or commerce or even the act of making a profit. Lastly, he is not trying to condemn the idea of having godly ambition. Having initiative especially when it comes to doing things that would advance God's kingdom, none of those things are what God through James is targeting. But rather, let's start off with the consideration of James. James was a first century follower of Christ. James' father was Joseph, his mother was Mary. Yes, the same Mary and Joseph that were Jesus' earthly parents. James was Jesus' half brother, talked about a guy who had a radical change in his direction for his life after he had an encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ.
You see, nowhere in this scriptures does it indicate that James had been a disciple of Christ prior to the death and resurrection of the Lord. It doesn't indicate that he was antagonistic toward his brother. It just doesn't tell us that he had a relationship where he was a zealous disciple, one of the followers of Jesus Christ. But, we do find from a reading of the book of Acts that this very James, the half brother of Jesus was the first leader appointed to the church, contrary to a lot of people's belief who think that it was Peter that was the first leader, it was actually James. Not only was he the first appointed leader of the church, but he is also credited with this book as being the earliest writing of the New Testament.
And most Bible scholars believe that it was written between 44 A.D. and 49 A.D. And the reason that they don't go beyond 49 A.D. is because of what occurred in the book of Acts Chapter 15 known as the "Jerusalem Council." That was a council that involved Jews at the center and their concerns as they were a young church needing to be addressed and so this council takes place. This letter that James writes is addressed to primarily a Jewish audience. And so one would believe that if the writing of this book occurred after the Jerusalem Council, there would be no doubt a reference made to this council, but because there is not, a date of either 49 or before is what's applied to this book. So yet again, the earliest writer of the New Testament is this James. James wasn't just writing to a Jewish audience in general, but he was writing to a Jewish audience of believers in Christ. And more specifically as he refers to them in Chapter 1, he refers to them as the 12 tribes scattered abroad. You see, these were groups of believing Jews that were living outside of Palestine.
Now, there are various reasons why Jews even back then lived outside of Palestine. The earliest reason of which would take us all the way back about 500 to 600 years to the destruction of the first temple back in 586 B.C. It was upon the destruction of the temple that the Jews fled the area for their lives and for their safety. And so you had somewhat scattered generations before, centuries before. You also have other Jews who had just chosen to scatter as a result of perhaps pursuing commerce or trade or maybe a better life elsewhere. But it's better understood that recipient of this letter that James writes were those believing Jews who had scattered outside of Palestine because they were being persecuted for their faith. They were suffering, again fleeing for their lives as new believers in Christ not being received favorably among their Jewish countrymen.
So, God moves James to righteous letter and in this book of James we find a series of tests, tests to prove the authenticity of ones relationship with Christ. I believe God led James to write these tests and present them to this group of believers because James knew that the only way that they were going ultimately endure these sufferings that were coming from their persecutions was to having a vibrant faith in Jesus Christ. And so being presented with these tests, it would be an encouragement to the reader who would pass these tests to say, "Yes, I am in Christ. My faith is solid. And because of that I'll be able to endure these sufferings."
But there are also other benefits to these tests having them presented to this group. In fact, consider those who would be reading the letter, listening to the letter being read and examining themselves in light of these tests and maybe discovering some weaknesses in their relationship with Christ, holds in their faith. This would now offer them the opportunity to identify where they were weak and now apply themselves to become strong in these very areas again with the purpose of having what it takes ultimately to endure these sufferings, these persecutions. But then there is also another benefit, perhaps those within the hearing of this book or reading it themselves, they would apply these tests to their lives and perhaps be discovered as not authentically believers.
So, when we go back to the statement that James makes to this group of people that is our passage tonight, we don't exactly if he is referring to either some who are believers but had simply grown lax in an area they'll walk with the Lord and there was a hole being exposed in the relationship to God, or maybe he is also addressing some of that same group that were in fact not believers at all.
The text doesn't tell us exactly who he speaking to except to say that more than likely just as even in a group like this tonight, we could expect that there is a mixed bunch. There are those who are solid believers. There are those who are having weaknesses exposed in their relationship with the Lord for the purpose of God saying, "Hey, let's work on that, let's become more strong in this area." And then there are perhaps those who would realize, "Wait a minute I've been playing this thing called church and perhaps I'm not a believer and then calling them to make the necessary changes so that they might have relationship with Christ."
Well, we have to now consider who it is that James is addressing here.
Whether it was a weakness in their faith or no faith at all, we know that there was a contingency within this group of Jewish believers that had gone rogue. They had gone rogue. Perhaps in an effort to improve their situation, maybe to even alleviate their sufferings. They went rogue in the sense that they were no longer obedient, no longer controllable by the Lord. Perhaps they were impatient, not wanting to endure sufferings, but they got together and they devised a plan, a mission. The problem with this mission, it didn't involve God. It was made apart from God.
As James addresses this group, we would do well to try to consider the impassion, the plea of James. Sometimes we lose a lot of the scriptures' thrust if we just casually read it from one verse to the next. But as I study this passage, as I read those who have gone before me and studied this passage, a great number of those scholars who've looked at this passage acknowledged that what James is doing is he's calling this group of erring believers out. In fact, somebody have even used the word, "attack." James is attacking them. James is seeking them out. In fact, consider the language where says, "Come now you who say." Almost as if to raise his voice and refer to those who are on the outskirts of where they should've been regarding the flow or the flock of God. Within God's fold, they're wayward, they're out there. They've gone rogue. They're renegade believers. And so almost with an idea that James rushes to them and confronts them face-to-face, he wants to alert them to something. He wants to alert them that in their pursuit of what perhaps they would've called, "The better life." They were missing out on the best life, the best life. Well, it's in contrast to these who had gone rogue.
Now, we're going to look at our passage and in doing so, obtain a more clear understanding of what God's mission is for each of us. You see His mission is first accomplished inwardly, involving an attitude of the heart and then it results in the correct outworking of that attitude in our life, in our mission. So tonight, we're going to look at the rogue's rejection of God's mission. We're going to consider the righteous' resignations to God's mission. And then lastly, we're going to have a good time looking at the rewarding results of God's mission. So, consider with me if you will, the rogue's rejection of God's mission.
We find it first in considering their rhetoric. These words we read that they used to described this mission that they made apart from God. Before we consider what they said, yet again, it's a timely reminder for us to consider the words of Jesus Christ in Matthew 12:34 and the second part of that verse where He says, "Know this for it's out of the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks." Whatever is going on inside, whatever is overflowing in the form of thought and interest and passions is going to be what comes out of your mouth. And what comes out of these rogue's mouths is a bombastic statement. It's a statement that shows how self-assertive they were. It's a statement that's full of arrogant assumptions.
Let me read it to you the way that perhaps James would call them to task on in reiterating their words back to them. Perhaps they sounded something like this, "Today or tomorrow, we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy, sell, make a profit." Arrogant assumptions. What are some of things that they were assuming here in a very boastful and arrogant manner? Well again, this was a mission of their own devising. And as such, they arrogantly assumed the timing of their mission. That they were going to be in control of when exactly it would start, today or tomorrow. They also arrogantly assumed the location of this mission, "such and such a city." That should not be read or understood as perhaps their consideration of a short list of the few places that they may or may not go. The original language implies a city that the speaker already had in mind. The place that they had already determined they were going to go. And so they arrogantly assumed, "we're going to be there."
Furthermore, they arrogantly assumed the duration of this mission, one year. They believe they had full control over the timetable of their mission. Furthermore, they arrogantly assumed the agenda of their mission. They were going to participate in commerce, trade, buying and selling. Interestingly, there's no mention of anything that would directly impact the kingdom of God or benefit the expansion of God's kingdom, God's initiatives here on this earth. Buying and selling was their task. They also assumed the results of their mission. We will make a profit. No humble consideration of unforeseen circumstances that could get in the way of them fulfilling their mission seemed to have come to their mind.
Perhaps the most indicting of all of their assumptions is found in two words that are found in their statement. It's the words, "We will." We will. Friends, that is the heart of their problem. They were self-willed, not yielding to the mission of God. In response to this bombastic statement, consider if you will James and how he must have sounded to them, maybe even looking at them with bewilderment as he again speaks very impassioned toward them. He says, "Wait a minute. You say this whereas you don't even know what's going to happen tomorrow." Then he asks some question, "What is your life?" It is even a vapor that appears for just a little time and then vanishes away. You see, James here is actually doing an act of love in trying to reason with them to get them to wake up to the foolishness of their mission and how confident they were in it. He's trying to reason with them to show them that they lacked humility to acknowledge that tomorrow isn't promised to anyone.
Friends, means' plans, the best of them are always tentative. Man's plans are always tentative, ultimately depending upon the will of God. Furthermore, he's trying to reason with them, pointing out to the them that they're spending all of their energy, they're investing their life in the temporal by referring to their life as but a vapor. You see, these would have done well to be benefactors of Peter's description that's found in a later writing in the New Testament where he describes, "Our life lived on this earth as we walk through this earth." He describes us as sojourners and pilgrims.
Friends, the truth is, we're just passing through earth. It's simply a holding cell for our entrance ultimately into an eternity spent with Christ and he's trying to reason with them showing them that it's foolish to spend so much of their life and energy on this vapor as it compares to eternity. Lastly, he's trying to reason with them, showing them that they lack the proper perspective of who exactly is in control, who's to be making their plans. You see, these could be referred to as living as practical atheist. What is a practical atheist? A practical atheist is someone who with their mind would acknowledge all the truths of scripture to be true. Yet, in their day-to-day life, they live as if God is irrelevant. God has no impact in their life because they don't let Him. Practical atheist. So, that's a consideration of their rhetoric.
Now, let's look a little bit closer at their rebellion. You see, as we listen to these words, we discover that this group, why they're dripping with self-confidence. We might say these were the Donald Trumps of the first century. These might be looked at as the movers and shakers of their day. Other's might point at them and say, "You know what? Those are the guys and the gals that get things done." It's unmistakable. They had a well-laid plan. What was the problem with their plan? Their mission didn't include God. That meant everything.
In response to this, James says to them, "But now..." Verse 16, "...you boast in you arrogance. All such boasting is evil." Quite literally translated, we would read, "You're boasting in your arrogant pretensions." Thinking that you have a right to lay claim to such fancies, yet God has not been the author of these plans. He calls them on the carpet for glorying in empty assurances, assurances in their own knowledge, their own cleverness, their own business acumen, their own resources apart from God. And really what the Holy Spirit is trying to convey to these people is that He is wanting them to understand that God is denouncing the believer living a life of habitual disregard for the authority of God to determine and control the daily affairs of their life. That my friends, is the issue that God is taking with these group of rogues.
We get to benefit from yet another writing that occurred after the book of James is written, this by Paul, writing to Timothy in I Timothy Chapter 6:17 where Paul tells Timothy, "Command those who are rich in this present age to not be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches, but rather in the living God who gives us freely all things to enjoy." Just a side note, he doesn't say that the problem is in them having riches, but they're trusting in them. Command them not to be haughty, nor to trust in these uncertain riches. Yet, that's exactly what these rouges were hoping to accomplish, the accumulation of riches to make their situation better.
Unfortunately, today as back then, this approach to life demonstrated by this rouge, it's applauded and celebrated by many. Unfortunately friends, even some on the church have fallen in love with this type of person and this approach to life, so much so that it's a sad commentary on the current day church that these types of men are often afforded seeds of the Lord's leadership tables sought out, not because of their spiritual credentials or calling, but because of their abilities with commerce or power broking. Why? Why do we as people have a tendency to be lured in by this kind of approach to life? Well, partly because it offers the illusion of power and control.
So, is that what it yielded? No. What was the end of their pursuits? What was that which their mission accomplished? Well, we find that in Verse 17. "Therefore who knows to do good, and doesn't do it, to him it is sin." What's really sad about this rogue is that they knew better. Their sin, their error wasn't because of ignorance. They knew better, they just didn't follow through again living as practical atheist. See, it's often described as missing the mark. We picture the arrow flying toward the target and not hitting the center. What happened with these, they missed it. They missed out on what God had for them. When it came to God's bounty, they were disavowed, denied.
Their speech is telling, our speech is also telling. Question, what are you talking about these days? What are the words that are coming out of your mouth? How are you talking to others and to God about your life? Are you listening for God? Friends, is there an area in your life where you've grown self-confident apart from God?
If in any way you recognize that there's an aspect of your life in which it mirrors the experience of this rogue, I issue you this challenge. Call yourself into account for it and make changes tonight. You might ask, "Well, how do I make those changes?" Fortunately, our passage gives us a look, a consideration of those that actually did it right. So now, we turn our attention to the righteous' resignations, the righteous' resignations. We find this in the first part of Verse 15 where we read, "Instead you ought to say if the Lord wills."
In order to accept God's mission, the righteous need to do some resigning. When I use the term resignation, I use it in two senses and the first of which is to resign in a sense that you formally give up an office or a position. So, what is the righteous suppose to do? They're to resign as commander. They're no longer in charge. They've relinquished the controls. This word, "if" in the statement that this ought to have been saying, this word, "if" is a beautiful word. It indicates the presence humility. So that the righteous would say, "Of any kind of plan like this, you know what? My hands are off. It's not my call. I don't run the show when it comes to my life."
We find and incredibly powerful and beautiful elucidation of this attitude. In the letter that Paul wrote to the Galatians wherein Chapter 2 Verse 20, Paul makes this proclamation. "I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." That my friend, is somebody who had it right. They understood that when they came to faith in Jesus Christ and that relationship was begun, they resigned as commander-in-chief of their lives.
Additionally, when we consider the idea of resignations, I mean it in another sense as well. I mean it in the sense of one having an accepting, unresisting attitude of submission. And for the righteous, it would be an unresisting attitude of submission to God's command. These are those who have taken great delight to nestle themselves up under the lordship of Christ. Again our passage, "If the Lord wills." Consideration of the Lord.
The word Lord is the word "kurios". You know that in the New Testament alone, we find it 717 times in 660 verses. That tells us how much importance the lordship of Christ has in the New Testament. The vast majority of those uses of the word "kurios" is referring to the lordship of God, the lordship of Christ. And notice that we're told that it's the Lord, not a Lord, not the one that I simply report to and maybe others report to somebody else, but we are suppose to report to The Lord, The Lord God. This refers both to His name and His position. You see, this word "kurios" combines two elements with reference to God, His power and His authority and the righteous get it. They understand and appreciate that their Lord is all powerful and all in control. We call that sovereign.
Furthermore, these righteous acknowledge as Paul made reference to in the passage out of Galatians that I just shared with you that they are no longer their own. God is their owner. He is the one to whom we belong and therefore He is the one who calls the shots. So, when the Christians nestles themselves up under the lordship of Christ, it involves an expansion of their vision to include the sovereignty of God that overwhelms their life. The implications of which or that God has complete control of what they do.
It also implies that no matter what we think and no matter what we do, that whether or not we say it as was stated in this passage, the Christian whoever operates on the condition that everything in their life is dependent upon God. In addition to resigning to God's command, the righteous will also resign themselves to God's commission, God's commission. Beyond God's mission. What is His mission? Answer, whatever He wills, whatever He wills. Whatever He wills for your life is God's mission in your life.
What's our responsibility? Our responsibility is to maintain an unbroken dependence upon the will of God and then actually do it. You see, this resignation to God's command is to be an active resignation, not a passive resignation. We're to have what the scripture describes as a working faith. In fact, consider the words of James himself earlier in this book in Chapter 2 Verse 20 where he says these words. He says, "Do you not know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?" We're to have an active faith. A hallmark of a true believer is one who has a desire and willingness to do the will of God, whatever it might be. And that desire to do the will of God must always be greater than any desire they have to fulfill their own agenda.
And friends, here's where it gets interesting. Here's where it interesting for these believers that James is writing to. It got so interesting that someone rogue and figured, "I'm going to solve this problem a different way." It gets interesting for us as true believers. When we're willing to do the will of God, even when it doesn't look like or feel like we expected it to look or to feel. You don't have to turn there, but I just want to take you in your mind's eye back to II Corinthians in the first chapter. For those familiar with that chapter, Paul spends some time giving a list to the recipients of the letter of the hardships that he and his traveling journey, journey buddies had experienced. And as he's listing these hardships, he comes to Verse 9 and he says, "In conclusion yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves." Basically, we felt we have a death sentence. It was over, we were done. But then, he goes on and shares some insight that God had given him as to why God allowed it to get that tough for them. He says, "We had the sentence of death in ourselves for this purpose that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead."
Did you know that God will actually allow circumstances to exist in our life that outwardly seemed against us when they're in fact for us? God's allowing them for the purpose quite often to not just hoard an ever greater dependency upon Him just as with Paul's experience. I want you to look at it this way. Had there been no flood, there would've been no ark. Had there been no murderous army of Pharaoh, there would have been no parting of the Red Sea. Had there been no death of Lazarus, there would be no Lazarus rising from the dead. Had there been no storm, there would be no Jesus calming the storm. Had there been no occupied tomb, there would be no empty tomb of the Lord Jesus Christ. Consider as well, how often Jesus himself while He walked this earth didn't appear to be in control, yet there was never a moment where He was not in control.
Friends, your life to yourself in submission to God's mission, it will be those times where it doesn't look like He's in control. There's going to be times where you don't feel like He's in control, but He is never not in control. So, what was happening in the lives of these rogues? You know what they did? They made a bad trade. They traded in all that they could have experienced with God for what they thought was a better deal, what they thought was a better life. It was keeping them from the best life.
Question, what unsightly or uncomfortable thing in your life are you not yielding to? Now single ladies out there, I'm not talking about the guy you thought was very unattractive who asked you out earlier this week. I'm not implying that you should go seek him out, find him and say, "Well, I think based upon what we studied that I have to say yes now." I'm not meeting in that sense. But seriously, what unsightly or uncomfortable thing in your life are you not yielding to? Can I encourage you by faith in staying true to God's mission? Would you please just yield to the master's touch? In fact, take a play out of the life of Jesus himself, have and perhaps the most agonizing time of His life where He was there in the Garden of Gethsemane knowing the torture that He was about to face, anticipating the incredible suffering of the cross and knowing that the pain of momentary separation from the Father was just hours away. Jesus himself said these words. He said, "Oh my Father, if it is at all possible, let this cup pass from me." But then He says these words, "Nevertheless not as I will but as you will."
Friend, what in your life tonight do you have to have that response to God in order to remain faithful to His mission? In order to allow yourself to continue to be placed, positioned in a way that you're going to see incredible things from God yield to Him.
Lorraine shared something with the school of ministry this morning when she and the children had shared. She talked about a time nine years ago when she was ready to quit. The previous experience with the former kids' ranch went terribly wrong and her heart was just torn out of her chest. She was done. It was her three children that said, "No mom, we cannot let these children not have us be there to love them." And she said, "FHL, what you saw on that video, the beauty, the love." She said, "All of that was born out of adversity." Friend, yield to what God is allowing in your life even that which doesn't look like He thought it would look or feel like you thought it would feel. Because if you do that, you're going to experience the rewarding results of God's mission which is what we'll consider now.
Verse 15, "If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that." These results my friend, are much more profitable than anything that these rogue would have yielded had their mission been successful according to their terms of success. This is where true riches are. This is where true profit in the Lord is found. And these my friend are your takeaways, your applications for this evening, first of which, confidence, confidence. Again Verse 15, one part of that phrase, "If the Lord wills, we shall live." Those three words, "We shall live."
Thanatophobia is the fear of dying, the fear of death. And I believe that the Holy Spirit let James to go to the center of gravity, the issue of death in order to make a very powerful point. You see, it's a matter of perspective. "If the Lord wills, we shall live." As if to say, whether or not we even breathe our next breath, is under God's control. Therefore, if He controls our very existence, then everything else that is a part of our life would be a lesser difficult task for God to control. If He can take care of the fact that He is the one that sustains us on this earth, then all the affairs of our life are easily taken cared of by Him as well. Faith in the lordship of Christ should allay even the fear of dying. Friends, Christians, you are invincible until God calls you home.
I was incredibly ministered to earlier this week as I consider the words of David out of Psalms 62. We'll only consider a few of those verses.
But in addition to those verses, I was touched by the fact that the heading of this Psalm found in my Bible read this. Psalm 62, "A calm resolve to wait for the salvation of God." Did you catch that? "A calm resolve to wait for the salvation of God." First two verses of that Psalm read this, "Truly..." David says "...my soul silently waits for God. From Him comes my salvation. He only is my rock and my salvation. He is my defense. I shall not be greatly moved." Verses 5 through 7 of that same Psalm read, "My soul wait silently for God alone, for my expectation is from Him. He only is my rock and my salvation. He is my defense. I shall not be moved. In God is my salvation and my glory, the rock of my strength and my refuge. All of that is in God." Talk about invigorating confident living. That is what's found when you're faithful to God's mission. Additionally, another reward is that of compliance, compliance.
Verse 17 tells us yet again, "Him who knows to do good and doesn't do it, to him it is sin." But what would be the implication for those who actually know to do good and do it? Well, the implication there is, boom, that arrow hits the bulls-eye. They get it. They comply. They hit the target. This word good is the Greek word "kalos." I just like how that rolls off the tongue, "kalos." Not only does it refer to that which is morally superior, but it has an even more pregnant meaning to it and that it refers to that which is worthy or valuable or worthwhile.
For us as believers, remaining faithful to God's mission, it's important for us to do good at all times but especially just as the readership of James, especially in the midst of persecutions, hardships, sufferings. Why? Well, it's in those times folks that circumstances don't afford us much blessing. Life is just difficult, yet doing good, even when life is difficult affords us the pleasure of knowing that we are pleasing to God. In fact, it affirms the fact that our life counts even when it doesn't look like it counts to many onlookers or it doesn't feel like it counts to us. As we do good, our life matters. It's worth it. It's worth us being here on this earth.
In addition to compliance having that benefit, there's also the benefit of the clear conscience it gives us and my friends, a clear conscience makes for a very soft pillow. Furthermore, I like what C.S. Lewis says about the issue of compliance or obedience. He says, "Obedience is the key to all doors." So as we're walking on God's mission, we have the excitement of anticipating what's next because I'm doing good in the Lord. I'm trusting Him. What door is he going to open now?
Friend, if you're doing good in the Lord and you're walking faithfully according to His mission, whatever doors He wants to open are going to blow open. He's going to take you to places you've never imagined before. He's going to use you in ways that you would never fathom because you're remaining faithful by doing good. Beloved God is not looking for super heroes. God is not looking for tycoons. He's not looking for power brokers. What is God looking for? You can beautifully understand your mission as God's child, God's operative, knowing that God is looking for faithful obedience in His children, staying to the task, sticking to the mission.
Another reward is that of creativity. That comes to us in a consideration of James' word where he says, "If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that." The idea here is that the believers have their eyes open. They're seeking the Lord. They have their eyes open looking for what God's doing now, what God's going to be doing next and there perhaps even wondering in their minds, "Wow, is that where God's going? Is that what He's doing?"
And as a result, their mind is fiery, they're being creative. Now, to say that a Christian is creative, in one sense it's a misnomer. It's a misnomer and that none of us can create anything. The best we can do is rearrange that which God has already created. But even when it comes to the issue of rearranging or reorienting and seeing how God might rearrange our lives, we have this beautiful reward of being able to live creatively.
Remember what God declared in Isaiah 43:19? He says, "Behold I will do a new thing." Friends, what new thing does God want to do in your life? What thing that you've been doing that maybe you're growing a little dull doing it? Have you considered asking God how He might want you to change things up? How He might want you to reorient, rearrange your life in such a way that you stay faithful to the mission, but He's affording you this ability to be creative and to spice things up? You know that axiom that variety is the spice of life? I believe that comes from the heart of God and He wants to allow us to have the benefit of being faithful to His mission and in doing so live creatively.
I mentioned the fear of dying earlier. Here's another phobia for you. Atychiphobia, it's the fear of failure. Do you know Christian that as you're faithful to God's mission, you do not need to have the fear of failure? Why? Well as you're creative, as you're wondering what God's doing next, as you're exploring what it is that He's doing in your life, you can try things out because guess what? If it's not of Him, it will come to nothing. But if you try something out and it is of Him, He is the one who gives it life, so you don't have to fear failing. You can try it out. If He wants it to flourish, if He wants it to prosper, He'll make prosper.
And lastly we have the rewarding result of completion, completion. Again back to Verse 15, "If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that." It'll get done friends. God wins, His will gets fulfilled. God's mission gets accomplished and we have the privilege of being a part of it. It's no wonder why Paul writing to the Philippians would make this statement out of Chapter 1 Verse 6 where he says, "Being confident of this very thing that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ." If God wills it, it will get done.
Friends, that is some good living. Those rewards from being faithful to God's mission should excite us about our life here on earth. So, what is your mission? Should you choose to accept it? It's this, faithful resignation to the lordship of Christ which gives rise to a willingness to demonstrate that trust by remaining faithful to His mission even when it doesn't look like or feel like you expect it.
I want to simply share with you my adaptation of a statement that comes from a man by the name of James Sizoo. Together we write these words. "Let it never be forgotten that glamour is not greatness; applause is not fame; prominence is not eminence. The Lord's man of the hour is not apt to be the man of the ages. A stone may sparkle, but that does not make it a diamond; people may have money, but that does not make them a success. It is more often what the seemingly unimportant people do that really counts and determines the course of God's mission throughout history. The greatest forces in the universe are seldom spectacular. Summer showers are more effective than hurricanes, but they get no publicity. The mission of God being accomplished through his people will soon dies but for the fidelity, loyalty, and consecration of those whose names are often unhonored and unsung."
Friends, that might be true of earth's perspective but I can tell you this much. You remain faithful to God's mission, He has his eye on you, you're hitting His target and you're pleasing the only one that you should be living to please. Friends, that is your mission, choose it. Let's pray.Father, we thank you so much that we have the opportunity to nestle up under your lordship to live a life of faith, to trust you even in midst of those circumstances and times at which things aren't feeling too hard or even looking too certain. We can know God that as long as we're faithful to you, as long as we're not going rogue that God, we're in your control and that is the best place to be. So Lord, however it is you can take what we've considered this evening and make it personal to each and every man, woman, and child that has joined us tonight. We pray you would do your work that we would resign to your lordship and in doing so, live this life of incredible rewards. We ask all of this in the name of our great God and savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.