Ought to Do

James 4:13-17

13Now 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.” 14Why, 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. 15Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” 16As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil. 17If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.

What is your dream?

            Once upon a time, three students were advised which career path they should take. The adviser asked one student, “What is your favorite subject in school?” “I like Math; I am very good in Math,” the student answered. So the adviser said, “Pursue a career as an engineer. How about you?” he asked the next student. “I like chatting with friends in social media,” the next student answered. “Hmn! Pursue journalism or start a business,” the adviser said. “How about me?” the other student asked. “What are you good at?” the adviser asked. “I am not good in school. I am not good in technology. But I am good at fishing!” the other student answered. “Well, you may want to be fisherman or go to the seminary and become a pastor and fish for souls,” the answer came.

Most often, if you ask for advice on which career you should pursue, you will be asked about subjects you enjoy and courses you excel in school. What you passionately do without complaints is best lifetime career you may excel and enjoy. Do you believe that the Lord has uniquely wired or created you to excel and succeed? Do you believe that God planned a best lifetime career for you to excel and enjoy too?

It has been declared in Ephesians 2:8-10, 8For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9not by works, so that no one can boast. 10For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

By his grace, God saved us for good work purposes, not just for salvation’s sake.

Jesus Christ declared that he came for all believers to have abundant life or life in its fullness. By faith, we trust him! By faith, we believe God saved us from penalty of sin. Does he save us from consequential effects of failures? Failure is essential factor toward excellence. God can help us overcome failures. Excellence starts with God.

All believers are unfinished project or handiwork of God. Do you believe that?

God saved us through faith in Christ Jesus for godly purposes. The Scripture is our blueprint and manual to accomplish the mission purposes that God planned for us.

If you haven’t yet discovered your mission purposes, do not speculate it.

1.  Speculation

13Now 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.” 14Why, 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.  

                    What is your mission purpose as believer? Does it relate to your business plans?

We can enjoy and excel in mission purposes God planned for us. Can you agree?

Don’t speculate. Follow Christ’s leading. You heard the song “Shepherd:” “My life is better, I like it better when I am following you!” Christ is our Good Shepherd and we are his sheep. As Good Shepherd, Christ situates us where we experience much of his grace.

And, seek to be filled by his Holy Spirit. Why? He helps us discern and accomplish with gladness our mission purposes that God had designed for us from the beginning.            

Experts advise, “Set personal or business goals!” That’s very promising! How sure are you if speculated goals will progress or fail? We don’t control the future, but God does!

Outside the will of God, speculated result is just entertaining diversion of reality.

Do you think God has designed a career for us to excel? Are you praying which degree you pursue in college? Are you praying for change in your current career? Are you praying for betterment in your social status? Listen very carefully and attentively.

Continually pray sincerely to be filled with the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, stronger faith, godly wisdom and understanding. When God grants them you’ll know it.

All believers are admonished in Colossians 2:2-3, 2Know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

As we grow in our faith in Christ, we also grow in our knowledge of Christ and the godly purposes that he has prepared for us to excel and enjoy. A secret of knowing the career we can excel depends on relationship and knowledge of Christ. As believers, we can enjoy and excel in every aspect of our life and it is not limited to successful career only.

Family, school, career, hobby, leisure, or retirement life – we can enjoy and excel in all aspects of life as we grow deeper in our relationship with Jesus Christ. He came for us (believers) to have fullness of life, right? Even as problems common to mankind may disturb us, we can still excel with gladness in every activity we passionately do in life.

As individual believer, we make sure that our faith in Christ is active and strong.

How should we intimately develop relationship with Christ? What activity do you normally do to cultivate closer relationship with your friends, siblings or spouse?

Hang Out

Friends normally hang out for extended time. They share serious or not so serious matters. They keep each other’s company in making project together and sharing stories about anything and that even repeated stories are not boring when they hear them again.

At first meeting, you may even feel alienated from new acquaintance. Discover a particular activity that you want to do and spend time with your new acquaintance. If you want your friendship to grow stronger then, spend ample time together.

It says in Hebrews 10:24-25, 24Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

The church is the body of Christ. The time we spend with fellow believers is time spent with the Lord. Together as a church we pray, read God’s word, sing praise to him and get involved in the ministry. Those regular activities cultivate intimate relationship and friendship with Jesus Christ.

What do you think? He had declared it in John 15:14-16, 14You are my friends if you do what I command. 15I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. 

The Lord designated a particular ministry for us to excel with gladness. It can be in congregational or individual personal ministry. If ministry involvement is God’s plan for you, you sense peaceful gladness; and, you will praise and thank the Lord.

Sincerely pray for discernment how you may excel in your current situation. Pray that you may discern his will. Don’t speculate or boast in your superiority.

2.  Superiority

15Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” 16As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil. 

Boasting is self-confidence with superiority complex which is considered arrogant foolishness to the Lord. Boasting was very common among the first century Christians and in this present generation. Why is self-confidence arrogant foolishness to the Lord?

Self-confidence is confidence in the self, right? People use it to motivate the self. Self-confidence implies independence from the Lord. If a person is confident in his human ability or his effort, that person won’t seek help from the Lord or from others.

Boasting is arrogant self-confidence; it implies superiority complex. How’s that?

Superiority complex feels no need for help from outside source, even God. Why?

Self-confidence relies upon self ability; it feels superior over effort from God or other people. Self-confidence is superiority complex of arrogant boasting which is considered evil.

God does not appreciate arrogant boasting? It says in Psalm 119:21, 21You rebuke the arrogant, who are accursed, those who stray from your commands.

Another term for rebuke is punish. God has decreed punishment for arrogance. The arrogant strays from godly instructions. Certainly, we cannot always obey the Lord.

By faith, we seek Christ’s help to obey him. How? When we plan our activities, we pray to be inspired by the Holy Spirit. If inspired by the Holy Spirit, we have enthusiasm, joy and peace. However, effort originated from self produces arrogance. It says in Galatians 3:10: 10For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse, as it is written: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.” 

 Seven sons of Sceva

Many religious people imitate their leaders and rely upon their righteousness. In the first century, Apostle Paul performed many miracles. Jewish people imitated him; they rebuked demons in Jesus’ name. They might have assumed that Jesus’ name is magical.

It narrated in Acts 19:13-16, 13Some Jews who went around driving out evil spirits tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were demon-possessed. They would say, “In the name of the Jesus whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out.”  14Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. 15One day the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know about, but who are you?” 16Then the man who had the evil spirit jumped on them and overpowered them all. He gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding.

It’s foolish arrogance of the seven sons of Sceva to assume that as sons of Jewish chief priest, they can command the evil spirit by invoking the name of Jesus whom Paul preached. It implies intellectual memory on Paul’s message. Probably, they heard Paul preached about Jesus, yet their intellectual knowledge of Jesus did not save them from embarrassing torment from the evil spirit. They did not have faith in Jesus Christ.

Here’s an insight: Anyone, even evil spirit can have intellectual knowledge Jesus.

Make sure that you’re inspired and filled with the Holy Spirit of Christ in all things you do whether small or great. Pray that God gives you godly wisdom so that you may perform, function and excel enthusiastically and passionately in your obligations.

Reflect of this: Self-confidence is arrogant boasting, a superiority complex with terrible result. Pray that God help you have firm confidence in him rather than in the yourself. In all things you do, pray to be inspired by the Holy Spirit and avoid the curse of sin.

3.  Sin

       17If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.

The context of this statement is to do the will of God instead of relying in self-confidence or arrogant boasting in self ability. A self-confident arrogant doesn’t realize that to seek help from the Lord is good. Can you accept that? God favors humility, not arrogance.

Self-confident arrogance is not a product of faith in God. Faith in God produces humility. In humility we have confidence in Christ and not in our ability. Hebrews 11:6 says, 6And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

If we disregard the good things that we are obligated to do, we sin against God. Of course, it is also by faith that we accept that reality. It exhibits faith in Christ when we do the good things, responsibilities and obligations that we ought to do.

Disregard of responsibility we ought to do is sin that conceives successive sins.

King David

Disregard of obligation and responsibility results to painful experience. King David realized such truth in a very painful way when he disregarded his obligation as king. It stated in 2 Samuel 11:1-4: 1In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war, David sent Joab out with the king’s men and the whole Israelite army. They destroyed the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained in Jerusalem.

2One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace. From the roof he saw a woman bathing. The woman was very beautiful, 3and David sent someone to find out about her. The man said, “She is Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite.” 4Then David sent messengers to get her. She came to him, and he slept with her.

Did David know that it was his responsibility as king to lead his army and go off to war in springtime? Off course! But, he was very confident in the capability of his army so that he let them go to war without him. Did King David commit sin in that decision?

During his unguarded moment of relaxing on peaceful night, temptation has just appeared nowhere, and he committed adultery. Later, he planned to cover up his immorality – he devised a scheme for the death of Uriah, the husband of Bathsheba.

Well, David sought forgiveness later and God forgave him. His immorality and murderous scheme was not erased from biblical records. His reputation as the greatest king of Israel was tarnished, and it began when he disregarded what he ought to do as king.

That unpleasant narrative may have caused spiritual suffering to King David, such that he prayed remorsefully in Psalm 51:11-14, 11Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. 12Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. 13Then I will teach transgressors your ways, so that sinners will turn back to you. 14Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God, you who are God my Savior, and my tongue will sing of your righteousness.

Friends: The Holy Spirit of God helps know which good thing we ought to do. If we disregard our obligations, we sense guilt in our inmost being, right? The Holy Spirit convicts us so that we might do what we ought to do and avoid committing another sin.

Guilty feeling can miserably cause spiritual and psychological pain and suffering.

We cannot be righteous before God when self-confidence prevails over us. We should always seek help and rely upon the Lord every moment we are awake. Even when seeking help from God, we should pray that God help us pray for his help.

Know that it is good to pray and we ought to pray regularly to the Lord. Amen!

It says in Philippians 4:6-7 6Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

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