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By Milburn Cockrell

"Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there are year, and buy and sell, and get gain: Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that" (James 4:13-15).

Human beings are great planners. We make our plans for tomorrow like verse 13 says, yet the Bible says: "Boast not thyself of to morrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring a fourth" (Proverbs 27:1). Our text says: "Ye know not what shall be on the morrow." All we have is the present. Yesterday is gone beyond recall. We cannot be sure of tomorrow; for us the sun may never rise. We can only make the most of today. It is well that tomorrow is hidden from us. If we knew the future, we might not have a desire to continue to live.

When we tell someone we will perform certain duties in a few days, we "ought to say, If the Lord will, we will live, and do this, or that."


James asked: "What is your life?" It seems very few know the answer to this question. James gives a very good answer to this vital question. He says our life is like "a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away." We know very little about birth, growth in the human body. Legions of books have been written on this subject, yet life itself still remains a great mystery.

Our earthly life is derived from God. First Samuel 2:6 informs us: "The LORD killeth, and maketh alive." David exclaimed in Psalms 36:9: "For with thee is the fountain of life." The Lord not only gives us the breath of life at birth, but He also sustains our physical existence. Paul preached to Areopagus: "For in him we live, and move, and have our being" (Acts 17:28). He again declared: "He giveth to all life, and breath, and all things" (Acts 17:25). You and I live and have our existence because God permits us to have it through the goodness of His own heart.


Did you ever stop and consider these questions? Why were you born in America? Why to certain parents at a certain time? Why were you not born I thousand years ago? Why was not your birth place different? To the serious inquiries we can only say that the Lord did not so order it. We can only say with the Psalmist: "But our God is in the heavens: he had done whatsoever he hath pleased" (Psalm 115:3). I myself can only say as did my Savior: "Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in thy sight" (Matthew 11:26).

God made the earth for man, but He made man to glorify his Creator. Isaiah 43:7 reads: "I have created him for my glory, I have formed him; yea, I have made him." Man is a creature designed to bring honor to his God. The Creator made him for His own purpose. "The LORD hath made all things for himself" (Proverbs 16:4). But in spite of good intentions, man has utterly failed to bring glory to his Creator. He is constantly sinning and coming short of God's glory. "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23).


Of our earthly life David said: "Our days on the earth or as a shadow, and there is none abiding" (First Chronicles 29:15). He indicated by this that our life is vain and short; it is something which will end in perfect light or darkness. Job wrote: "Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble. He cometh forth like a flower, and is cut down: he fleeth also as a shadow, and continueth not" (Job 14:1-2). The psalmist again said: "My days are like a shadow that declineth: and I am withered like grass" (Psalm 102:11).

I read in Psalms 90:9–10: "For all our days or passed away in thy wrath: we spend our years as a tale that is told. The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they are fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away." Much of our years in this world we pass under the wrath of God because we live with a little purpose. Each one of us writes his own autobiography. The spending of our years is like telling a tail. Each year is a chapter. There are some chapters which are pleasant; others are tragic. They are all short and trasient through.

Of life Joe declared: "Now my days are a swifter then a post: they flee away, they see no good. They are passed away as the swift ships: as the eagle that hasteth to the prey" (Job 9:25–26). Job is saying never did a post rot so fast, never did a ship sailed to its port so swiftly, never did an eagle fly upon its prey with such rapidity, as my days pass so quickly. Time never stops. Its motion is swift. How we need to redeem the time. Time runs so fast toward eternity which approaches as time goes.

The Psalmist cried: "LORD, make me to know mine end, and the measure of my days, what it is; that I may know how frail I am. Behold, thou hast made my days as a handbreadth; and mine age is as nothing before thee: verily every man at his best state is altogether vanity" (Psalms 39:4–5). Life is so short it behooves us to prepare for death. The psalmist compares our life to the breadth of four fingers. We need no rod or measuring line to take the dimension of our days. We have the standard of them at our finger's end. It is but one little hand breadth in all. Our share of time is little in comparison to the eternal God and the eternal state.

The Bible says our life is like a weaver's shuttle. Job 7:6 states: "My days are a swifter then a weaver's shuttle, and are spent without hope." Our days are passing swiftly. Every throw leaves a thread behind. When the Master Weaver has finished His work, He will cut the thread. The finished product will be examined. We know not when the Weaver shall finish His weaving; even so we know not the length of our earthly pilgrimage.

Second Samuel 14:14 compares man's life to "water spilt on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again." When water is spilled on the ground it leaves an imprint, even so do we and our brief appearance in this lower universe. When the water is dried up by the sun, it is gone forever. Even so it is with us. When our life ends with death, we are past recall "as water spilled on the ground."

As soon as we are born we commence to die. No wonder Job said: "O remember that my life is wind: mine eye shall no more see good. The eye of him that hath seen me shall see me no more: thine eyes are upon me, and I am not. As the cloud is consumed and vanisheth away: so he that goeth down to the grave shall come up no more. He shall return no more to his house, neither shall his place know him any more." Our earthly abode is brief and uncertain. Our removal from it is sure and speedy. Our return is not expected. Our momentary passing may be noisy like a thunder storm but is quickly over and passed retrieve.


Some one today may have had his fill of sin. You may be a drunkard, or a gambler, or a whore, or a thief, or a dope addict, or even a jail bird. As you look back over your past life, you see that you have made a horrible mess of it. You may think that you have no friend but your dog. Like Jonah, you may be saying: "It is better for me to die than to live" (Jonah 4:8).

Some other person may be saying, "I have so many temptations, tears and trials. Nothing seems to go right for me. I am a miserable failure." Then you are like Rebekah who said: "I am wary of my life" (Genesis 27:46).

Still someone else may cry, "I have suffered so much in body and soul. Death will be a sweet relief." You may feel like Solomon when he wrote: "Therefore I hated life, because the work that is wrought under the sun is grevious unto me: for all is vanity and vexation of Spirit." (Ecclesiastes 2:17). Someone may even be as despondent as Job who exclaimed: "So that my soul chooseth strangling, and death rather than life. I loathe it; I would not live alway: let me alone; for my days are vanity" (Job 7: 15–16).

All such feelings just go to show how so many have missed the real purpose of human existence. Human friendship is uncertain. Human comforts are transitory. The human body is subject to suffering, pain and death. Rich men take their own lives. Famous people do themselves to death. All this proves that the words of Christ or true. He said: "A man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth" (Luke 12:15).


Jesus Christ is the bread of life (John 6:35). He alone can give real meaning to our life in this world. Without Him as our Savior, life has no meaning. He came that we might have a purposeful life (John 10:10). Those who know Him can say: "the Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid" (Psalms 27:1). And still with Paul: "The life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me" (Galatians 2:20).

You cannot be happy in this life and less you live according to the teaching of the Holy Book. The Bible says in Proverbs 8:35 "For whoso findeth me findeth life." Jesus Christ said: "If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments" (Matthew 19:17). In this verse He did not prescribe keeping the commandments as the means of receiving spiritual life. But rather He tells those who already have spiritual life how they can have a purposeful and meaningful life in this world. If you want your life to be happy, to have real purpose, then you must conform to the teaching of the Word of God. Obedience to the precepts of the Scripture prolongs our life. The Lord told Solomon: "And if thou wilt walk in my ways, to keep my statutes and my commandments, as thy father David did walk, then I will lengthen thy days" (First kings 3:14).


How long we shall live in the present evil world only God knows. To a Christian, this life is a pilgrimage. Jacob told Pharaoh: "The days of the years of my pilgrimage are an hundred and thirty years: few and evil have the days of the years of my life been" (Genesis 47:9). Jacob reveals in this how the hundred and thirty years had seemed to him like days. He knew himself to be a stranger in a pilgrim in this world. He realized he was a traveler "to a better country, that is, an heavenly" (Hebrews 11:16). We, like Jacob, would do well to realize that the earth is our hotel, not our home. This is only true of those who have prepared to die, of those who know their sins are forgiven, of those who know Christ as personal Savior.

This earthly life to the unsaved is a broad way that leads to destruction. It is a place of a few sinful pleasures which is soon to terminate by God saying: "Thou fool, this night they soul shall be required of thee" (Luke 12:20). How horrible to reflect upon a wasted life. How terrible to see a Christless coffin, a Christless funeral, a Christless grave and a Christless eternity out before you.

All men, whether evil or good, must face the record of their life. We must give an account for "the things done in our bodies, according to that we have done, whether it be good or bad."

Grace Bible Baptist ChurchR> 26080 Wax Road
Denham Springs, LA 70726

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