Lord Willing and the Creek Don’t Rise

Lord Willing and the Creek Don’t Rise


James 4:13-16 ESV  Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”—  (14)  yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.  (15)  Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.”  (16)  As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.

  • Now this sermon… some of y’all are gonna be like “Duh”…
    • While others of y’all are going to be like “Huh… what…really?”
      • It is a sermon that is important because if you don’t have a firm grasp on this… then applying this message to your life is going to level you up…
      • Man you are going to get stronger in the faith. You are going to be a better believer… you are going to be more like Christ.
        • And for the rest of us it is going to be a reminder… because for whatever reason we need to be reminded how great God is and how great we are not…
          • For whatever reason, our pride just never wants to die all the way and it seeps back up from time to time… and this sermon for those of us who already understand it… it’s just a reminder to get that pride out of us…
            • Get that little guy out of there… no one wants that little nugget of pride!
  • Either way, if this is your first time hearing this or your hundredth… what I want you to walk away from this sermon knowing… not just knowing, but believing… and just believing but living like you believe it…
    • What I want you to walk away from this sermon knowing is this:
      • God is in control, and you are not.
      • God is in control, and I am not.
      • God is the all sufficient, all mighty, creator and sustainer of the universe.
      • I am but a small, insignificant vapor in the wind.

Lord Willing and the Creek Don’t Rise…

  • This is a statement that we used to use up in North Carolina.
    • I would say “See you tomorrow”
      • And who I was talking to would say “Lord willing and the creek don’t rise”.
    • Or we would make plans “Let’s get lunch on Thursday, Lord willing and the creek don’t rise!”
    • Or when we would talk about our future “Next year I am going to have my house paid off, Lord Willing and the Creek Don’t Rise.
  • It’s a statement of humility based on these verse from James… reminding us, that, well… maybe I won’t see you tomorrow.
    • The Lord could come back, or He could allow me to die in my sleep, or He might call me to some urgent ministry task…
      • We do our best to stay in the will of God but we must admit that sometimes God’s will is not what we expect.
        • So we would reminder ourselves “Lord willing, and the creek don’t rise”.
          • Cause’ there are two things that will keep me from keeping my word…
          • If the Lord says “No” or if the creek rises and I can’t get to where I need to be… which has happened to me on more than one occasion I might add…
  • Now, let’s pray over this message then talk about how insignificant we are, ok…

Point One – Outside of Christ You Have No Significance

  • Point one this morning, Outside of Christ You Have No Significance!

James 4:13-14 ESV  Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”—  (14)  yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.

  • What is your life? That is what James asks… WHAT IS YOUR LIFE?
    • In other words “Who are you? Who exactly do you think you are?! Don’t you know that in the grand scheme of things, you are as insignificant as speck of mist, a little peace of water vapor that is here for a moment and then is gone forever”.
  • James here is talking to people who think they are important… they think of themselves as big time business men…
    • “Look at me, look how important I am, I am going to go do business with THESE people… and I am going to THAT country to make a sale… I am important… people know me…”
      • James says “Your not important! Your not any more important than mist in the wind!”
    • It’s pretty much the same thing he told the rich people in Chapter one… You remember this?

James 1:11 ESV  For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. So also will the rich man fade away in the midst of his pursuits.

  • Man James is going at it with the rich… but it is NOT because of their wealth, it is because of their boasting…
    • Because they think they are somebody.
    • Because they think they have importance and significance.
    • But outside of Christ there is no significance.
    • Outside of God there is no meaning.
    • Outside of His church and His will there is no importance.
    • It is by Him, and through Him, and for Him that all meaning, and importance, and power comes!
  • Listen, can I make this point plain? Can I make it as clear as possible?
    • Elon Musk is the Worlds richest man again… he lost that status for a bit when he bought Twitter, but he is back on top with a Net Worth 211.43 Billion Dollars!
      • Now, strive as you may, you will never be as wealthy, as powerful, or as important as Elon Musk outside of Christ.
      • We have some incredibly brilliant business people in this church… but your never going to come close to that kind of wealth and influence… it’s just the reality of the matter.
        • And I think we can all agree that outside of Christ, Elon Musk, who started PayPal, and Tesla, and SpaceX, and now owns Twitter… I think we can all agree he is incredibly significant and important and powerful by the worlds standard… by the worlds standard he is worth more than 200 billion dollars!
          • But what is his worth, what is his value and significance outside of Christ? Let me show you…
          • *Bring out and lite cheap incense*
        • This is it, right here… if Elon Musk doesn’t get saved… if he doesn’t get born again… this is his eternal value… that’s what Scripture says…

Revelation 14:11 ESV  And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever, and they have no rest, day or night, these worshipers of the beast and its image, and whoever receives the mark of its name.”

  • The smoke of the tournament of the people in hell goes up forever and ever…
    • And some suggest that the language here means “like sweet smelling incense, the smoke of those in hell goes up forever and ever”.
    • So BEST CASE scenario, Elon musk’s eternal worth is this… a stick on incense that cost like probably 2 cents to make.
      • That’s BEST CASE, I don’t know, the smoke could smell like brimstone… which smells like rotten farts…
  • So weather it is farts or incense, I don’t know but that’s not the importance and value Elon musk was going for…
    • I mean he sent a Tesla into orbit…
      • But this is the best he can hope for outside of Christ.
      • *Pray for Elon*
  • Now if you still have doubts that there is any kind of value outside of Christ, I encourage you to read the book of Ecclesiastes…
  • Ecclesiastes was written by King Solomon, the third King of Israel and the richest man to ever live, wealthresults.com did a study of the 10 richest people to ever live and they put King Solomon as number 1 with an estimated net worth of 2 trillion dollars in today’s money… that is a whole lot more than Musk’s 200 billion!
    • This is what he wrote about the significance of his wealth, his hundreds of wives and concubines, his power, his dominion ruling over the middle east… this is what he wrote in Ecclesiastes…

Ecclesiastes 1:2 NIV  “Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher. “Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.”

  • The whole book of Ecclesiastes is how King Solomon tried everything… money, women, power, alcohol, gaining knowledge, working hard, being lazy… he tried it ALL… and the end of it… without God life is completely and utterly meaningless.
  • But church, hear me, this is good news! Because it means that we don’t ever have to worry about the worlds pressure to be great.
    • We don’t have to try to be somebody… we don’t have to make a name for ourselves… we don’t have to leave behind a legacy…
      • We have absolutely no pressure to try to be great… because our job is to die to ourselves and let Christ live through us.

Galatians 2:20 ESV  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.

  • Listen, if you are in Christ then you have eternal value… you have eternal worth…
    • Because you are going to be with Him forever… worshiping Him… walking with Him and talking with Him on streets of gold.
      • You have a heavenly mansion…
      • And you wear a jewel encrusted crown…
        • And the work you do here on earth has eternal value, because it eternally leads people to salvation, to Christ, to being with Him forever as well.
          • You can be worth more than the burning stick of incense that others are worth if they don’t know Christ…
            • And all you have to do is give your life to Jesus!

Colossians 3:2-4 ESV  Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.  (3)  For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.  (4)  When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

  • Now this brings me to point two this morning… God is of Ultimate Importance… God is in Charge… Live Like You Believe it!

Point Two – God is of Ultimate Importance. God is in Charge…Live Like You Believe It.

James 4:13-16 ESV  Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”—  (14)  yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.  (15)  Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.”  (16)  As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.

  • So first of all James says “Your not important… you are but a vapor in the wind… your not important, so stop acting like you are… that kind of boasting is evil…”
    • But secondly James makes this point “STOP ACTING LIKE YOU ARE IN CHARGE!”
      • Got is of Ultimate Importance. God is in charge! Live like you believe these things church.
      • Live like you are the servant and He is the master.
        • Man if we could understand this… what a stress free and anxiety life we could live…
  • I remember one night in North Carolina… I had worked a long day at the church and was coming home around 10 or 11 PM… it was raining all day and as I came out of the building to my little 1989 Toyota Camery… it was raining hard…
    • I was tired and looking forward to getting home.
    • As I drove home the road I normally took was closed…
      • This upset me a little because it meant I had to take a detour…
        • The detour would add another 10 minutes to my normally 7 minute drive…
        • But I reluctantly took the detour… and I drove the 10 minutes down this road…
        • And that road was flooded too.
        • So now I am getting really mad, now I have to drive back 10 minutes to get on the freeway, take the freeway past my house, and drive back to my house… this was gonna add another 25 minutes to my already long commute…
          • And because of this… I was so angry… I started driving too fast… and wouldn’t you know it, I ended up running my car into a tree that night…
            • I WAS SO ANGRY.
              • But who was I angry at? Who’s fault was it that the roads were covered in water.
              • Truthfully, I was angry at God.
    • Because I said all the time “Lord willing and the creek don’t rise”.
      • But I didn’t mean it. I didn’t act like it. I didn’t live it.
    • Because every day I would tell people “Lord willing and the creek don’t rise” but in my heart I meant “As long as everything goes the way I think it should go”.
      • Because in this situation the Creek had literally rose… and it drove me mad!
  • How much more at peace would I have been if I just accepted that God was in control and if that meant I was going to be late getting home then that meant I was going to be late getting home…
    • Not only would I have been at peace, but my car would have remained in one peace!
  • These guys in James… they are doing what I see so many people do… falling into an error that I see so many people fall into… THEY THINK THEY ARE IN CONTROL.

James 4:13 ESV  Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”—

  • Let me tell you about my plans… I am going to make so much money… I am going to do this thing, and that thing… I am going to start this business and it is going to be so awesome… I am going to get this kind of job… I am going to marry this kind of woman… I am going to have this many children… I am going to live in this kind of house…
    • Yeah maybe all of that is true… or maybe God has something different for you.
    • “Well I don’t know about all that, but I know this, tomorrow I am going to go to this town over there and make so much money”

James 4:14 ESV  yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.

  • Did you pray about it?
    • Has God said… or have you said?
    • If my kids do things without my permission, they get in trouble… because they know who is in charge.
    • If you do things at work without your boss’s permission, you will get in trouble… because you know who is in charge.
      • If we understand this in our families… and we understand this in our workplaces… then can we not understand this with God?
  • Jesus, who is our ultimate example of how to live life, says in John 8:28 that He does nothing on His own authority and that He only does and says what God the Father tells Him to.
    • Can we live like Jesus and say “I am not going to do anything on my own authority, I am only going to do what God tells me to.”
      • Where we live.
      • Who we marry.
      • What Job we take.
      • What ministry we perform.
      • What we do with our finances.
      • How we spend our time.
      • How we raise our children.
      • What friends we make.
      • What hobbies we have.
        • What if we gave God all the authority. What if we lived like we actually believed that God was of ultimate importance and not us?
  • When Amanda and I were asked to church plant through Victory Family Center in Singapore… both of us wanted to say no.
    • We didn’t like the idea…
    • We loved where we were at.
    • We didn’t even like Victory Family Center or it’s leadership at the time.
      • But we said we would pray about it, so for a week we prayed.
      • On the day it was time to turn in our decision, would we church plant for VFC or not, Amanda and I are driving and I say “Did you pray about it”
        • She said “Yup… did you?”
        • I said “Yup… I think God wants us to do it.”
        • She said “I heard the same thing, God wants us to do it.”
          • That was the END of the discussion… neither of us wanted to do it, but God wanted to. We know He is in charge. Conversation over.
          • And because of that Christian Life Church Cedar Rapids was planted by two kids from Seattle and a team of Singaporean missionaries.
  • I have a pastor Friend in Seattle, Pastor Jeremy… He is the Youth Pastor at Faith and Victory, he raised up Ryan for us, thank you Jesus!
    • Pastor Jeremy wants to be a Senior pastor… he feels called to it.
    • An opportunity came for him to pastor a church just an hour from here in Iowa.
      • Building paid for, tithing congregation already in place.
      • It was PERFECT! The dream job for pastor Jeremy.
      • But Jeremy knows he is not in charge, God is.
      • So Pastor Jeremy and his wife prayed.
        • And the answer was no. So they said no.
          • It is as simple as that… no stress… no anxiety… just submission to God’s word. That’s it.
  • It’s really this simple church… want to live evil, live like you are in charge… want to live holy, live like God is in charge.
  • I have seen far to many lives destroyed, set back, or put on hold because of good looking opportunities that were not Gods will.
    • People marrying the wrong person.
    • Taking the wrong job.
    • Buying the wrong house.
    • Chasing after the wrong things.
  • Though it looks like it is not sin, though it looks fine… if God is not in it, it is not good, it is not fine, and it IS sin… that is what the next verse tells us and it will be the sermon for next week…

James 4:17 ESV  So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.

  • Now, instead of preaching next weeks sermon from this verse… let’s just conclude this thing.


  • Who is in charge of your life? You or God?
    • Where does your importance come from? You or God?
      • Today two choices are put before you…
      • You can try to be somebody… you can try to have the biggest ministry, the biggest influence, the most money…
        • And this way leads to anxiety, and stress, and pain, and ultimately death…
        • And what are you striving for anyway, to be the biggest incense stick burning in hell?
    • Or are you willing to say “Christ is all, and I am nothing”
      • Because if you are willing to say that… you might die a pauper, but you will wake up a prince.
      • You might die in poverty, but you will wake up in wealth.
  • If you give everything to Christ… if you live with the mindset “Lord willing and the creek don’t rise”… then the stress of success or failure will never be on your back.
    • The only way you fail as a Christian is if you give up… if you quit…
      • But what about sin? NO! Sin will not cause you to fail as a Christian… nothing can pluck you from the hand of God…
      • But if you quit… if you give up and give into your sin… if you stop repenting… NOW YOU HAVE ISSUES. Because you haven’t been plucked from the hand of God, but you have chosen by our own pride, and free will, and sinfulness to jump out of the hand of God…
        • Live like God is in charge… live like He is of ultimate importance… let your worth, your value, your meaning be from Him and through Him and for Him… and never Give up… and you will find more value, importance, meaning, and value then you could ever imagine…
  • Gospel Call

Aaronic Blessing


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