Teays Valley Church of God what is your story? “I am created by God and am re-created by the Holy Spirit to become like Jesus. I trust God, seek Him, follow Him, worship Him, and tell others about Him. When I sin, I will ask for forgiveness and move on in victory. That’s my story, and I am sticking to it.”
On this Right to Life Sunday I want to remind you all of the grace of God. It never runs out. It never is insufficient. If you find yourself having made choices which weren’t for life, choices that drained life, minimized life, marginalized life, belittled life or discarded life, today is a day to obtain mercy, grace and forgiveness or if you have asked for forgiveness today is a day to celebrate that because God’s mercy runs deep, you stand free in Christ and are not condemned. Life and the concepts of spiritual life, abundant life, and eternal life in Christ are centerpieces of the Gospel message. They illustrate the reasons God created you and why He sent Jesus to redeem you.
Let’s look briefly today at some things that result not in life, but in a sort of death when we choose them.
1. Choose Life for Your Circumstances-“Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” Proverbs 18:21
- What you say about what you are going through will shape how much victory you will have in your life while in the midst of a challenge.
- What you say about what you are going through can also impact how long the situation will last.
- What you say about what you are going through is going to determine how much strength you gain, how much you grow and how much God can do with your circumstances.
- What you say about what you are going through will determine if you are going to be a victim of your circumstances or if you will come out as the victor.
The Psalmist knew these realities to be true. Psalm 35:27-28 (NIV) 27 May those who delight in my vindication shout for joy and gladness; may they always say, “The LORD be exalted, who delights in the well-being of his servant.” My tongue will speak of your righteousness and of your praises all day long.
God delights in the well-being of His people! Whatever you are muddling through, dealing with, are in need of, or are trying to flush out of your lives and pipes 🙂 God has got your back. He also has your future. He is making a way for you. He delights in the well-being of His servants. You can praise Him and trust Him as the provision is on its way. Tell your neighbor, “It’s on its way.” Don’t act like you won’t be cared for. Don’t give your circumstances authority over your feelings and sense of security, peace, and well-being. Don’t quit, don’t lose heart or hope. Persevere and speak positively over your circumstances because God is at work in ways you can’t see and wouldn’t believe if He told you up front.
I like the lyrics to Toby Mac’s song, “Speak Life.” He says:
Some days, life feels perfect.
Other days it just ain’t workin.
The good, the bad, the right, the wrong
And everything in between.
Though it’s crazy, amazing
We can turn a heart with the words we say.
Mountains crumble with every syllable.
Hope can live or die
So speak Life, speak Life.
To the deadest darkest night.
Speak life, speak Life.
When the sun won’t shine and you don’t know why.
Look into the eyes of the brokenhearted;
Watch them come alive as soon as you speak hope,
You speak love, you speak…
You speak Life.
Some days the tongue gets twisted;
Other days my thoughts just fall apart.
I do, I don’t, I will, I won’t,
It’s like I’m drowning in the deep.
Well it’s crazy to imagine,
Words from our lips as the arms of compassion,
Mountains crumble with every syllable.
Hope can live or die.
So speak Life.
I heard an audio snippet on Youtube by a preacher named K. L. Warren who helped me understand something about this topic this week. He pointed out that we allow seen things to impact unseen things all of the time. We can analyze something negative that can be seen like a bad doctor’s report as the x-ray is read. We can look at the x-ray and though we may not even feel physically bad at the time, when we evaluate the physical circumstances and hear the doctor’s explanation of the test he or she holds in their hands, something that is seen begins to impact the unseen, namely us on the inside. We can experience nausea, stress, heart palpitations, become confused, afraid, and begin to feel weak. Are you tracking with me? We often let something seen impact something unseen in a negative way.
K.L. Warren suggested we simply turn it around. He said it only stands reason that if something seen can impact something unseen, then something unseen ought to be able to impact that which is seen. Why not let our faith in God, which is unseen, impact our circumstances which can be seen by starting to talk to our circumstances as if we believe the victory is ours.
Not one positive thing will come from speaking negatively about your circumstances. In fact, it will bring death into that circumstance. It will make it worse. It will complicate it. It will give the negative aspects of your negative situation even more power causing a downward pull on your life. You become a victim of yourself when you let circumstances speak to you and dictate your feelings and stress level. For Christians it is to be the other way around. Today you need to choose life by choosing to take authority through the Word of God in faith over your circumstances.
2.Choose life by confessing your sin. The Bible is pretty clear that sin brings death. Romans 3:23, for example tells us, “The wages of sin is death.” James 1:15 says it this way, “Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.”
We could read a description in Romans 5 about how Adam and Eve’s sin impacted the world in a way that caused death to become part of the human experience. Before sin entered the world, there was no earthly experience known as death. Before sin entered the world, God and man had a perfect relationship. It was unbroken, untainted by sin. But as sin entered the world, physical death became a reality, and each person who was subsequently born including you and me inherited a sinful nature from birth which made us enemies with God.
From the moment we were born, and even while we were being fashioned in our mother’s wombs, God began the process of calling to us, coming to us, and revealing to us that we are broken and in need of something, in need of SOMEONE, to restore us to fix us so we can walk with God in relationship rather than run from God because of sin which creates guilt and condemnation. In that sense, even though you and I were born alive physically, we were born spiritually dead. Hence the process of the Holy Spirit coming to us to speak to us and teach us about our need for God which is why each of you is sitting in this audience this morning. So, to summarize, physical and spiritual death are the consequences of sin. Neither is a pleasant reality. That’s why Jesus had to overcome both; so you and I could overcome both! Sin caused Jesus’ death. Your sin and mine and the sins of everyone from all time were placed on Him as if He had committed them. God punished Jesus instead of us! Those who place their trust in Jesus as Savior overcome death in the physical sense as eternity in heaven is secure and will be enjoyed in a new body and a new way of existing. We also gain the benefit of unbroken fellowship with God in this life and in the life to come which is our spiritual life.
The Bible tells us to confess our sins in order that we might be healed. (James 5) You can choose life, eternal life and no fear in death, by confessing you are a sinner in need of a Savior this morning. You can choose life by asking God to forgive you of every sin you have ever committed, the ones that you are currently involved in, and the ones you are planning on committing and have already scheduled for next weekend. 🙂
Confession is simply agreeing with God about your sin. It means not trying to wiggle out of being guilty. It means not trying to shift the blame. It means not trying to justify wrong choices. It means not trying to cover it up or dress it up by giving it an alternative name. S-I-N should be a four-lettered word. Maybe I’ll just add another “N” to it. 🙂 Because it is bad! It is awful! It is filthy! It describes how wretched we are. BUT GOD, who is rich in mercy, BUT GOD, who is slow to anger and abounding in love, BUT GOD while we were still sitting in our pile of sin, He demonstrated His love for us not His love for our sin, but His love for us, that while were still holding onto sin as if it could give us hope or life, as if we could talk our way or pretend our way out of its consequences, God gave Jesus to die for us and pay the price for our sins (Romans 5:8, the Melissa Pratt Version!).
Once we give our lives to Christ, we begin a life of discipleship and a quest to live without sin as Jesus did. Just as sin is a definite choice, so too is holiness. The Bible says we are to be transformed (Romans 12/Galatians 5) by the Holy Spirit. As we yield to Him, He gives us everything we need for life and godliness (II Peter 1:3). While our inner man is being transformed, and we are strengthened to make godly choices, our free will, our ability to choose sin is still a factor. We will still have to deal with the responsibility of free will and with temptation. That means every day we will face a series of choices. When we choose God’s way, it will lead to greater life, greater blessing-to what the Bible calls “abundant life.” When we choose sin, we will experience death-like consequences. By that I mean, we will lose opportunities, we will settle for less than God’s best, we will destroy relationships and hurt people we love, we will experience a disconnect from God’s leading and Lordship because sin destroys things in the physical realm and it hurts our fellowship with God in the spiritual realm (Isaiah 59:2).
When King David, whose story is detailed in the OT committed adultery with Bathsheba and she got pregnant and then he tried to kill her husband and a big cover up ensued, David was choosing death. He felt it inwardly. It wasn’t a consequence for a later date, but he started to experience a decay to his quality of life instantly. We see the evidences of death at work in his life in Psalm 51:8. He said he even felt like his bones were crushed inside of him as a result of his sin. Why do you think Satan works so hard to tempt us to sin? Because sin steals life from us. John 10:10 tells us Satan wants to destroy our lives. One way he does so is by inviting us relentlessly to sin. When you say “no” to temptation you are choosing life!
God assures us in His Word He will provide a way for us, that even when we are tempted, He will open a door for us, a way of escape for us to dart into (I Cor. 10:13). Look for the open door. It has Jesus’ fingerprints on it. He is holding it open, making a way for you to run to safety! But we know we all don’t always make the right choice. We all can react impulsively. We all can decide without praying. We all can cave to pressure. We all can be deceived. Eve didn’t just decide on her own to disobey God. There was an element of deception at work as Satan started to manipulate things to look differently than the way God had told Eve they really were. Eve thought she was going to improve her life by tasting from that forbidden tree.
Here is the sympathetic side of God. Here is the heart of God for us that I love! We are not supposed to sin, but He understands there will be moments, even in the life of a believer, when we miss the mark, when we make a mess, when we get it wrong. He understands there can be an element of deception at work in temptation. He knows that we get that “hind sight is twenty-twenty.” I am not trying to hand anyone a license to sin. That is not Bible! We are to be holy. God knows my heart, and He knows your heart, and He knows all of our hearts when we are contemplating sin. I just want you to be assured that He knows we are weak and frail and easily led astray. That’s why He tells us in 1 John 2:1-2 (Are you ready for this? Can you say, “Bring it, Sister!”) He says, “My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense–Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.
Hebrews 7:25 tells us Jesus is praying for us. He is our Advocate. He is speaking to the Father in our defense. Do you know one thing that is on Jesus’ prayer list this morning? It is that you and I will confess our sins. He is reminding the Father of His blood that still atones for whatever you did last night. When Jesus died, He died for the sins of the past, the present and the future. So that thing that you are doing right now, even though you love Jesus and want to follow Him, it is covered by the blood if you will confess it!
Sin isn’t to be the pattern for our lives, but when we veer off course, confession is the way to choose life and to get back on track! God wants us to catch it quickly when we sin. Sin ought to feel wrong to the believer. Yes, Jesus wants us to be sorry for sin, but He doesn’t want us to live sorry! He doesn’t want us to lead sorry lives. He doesn’t want us to go through life feeling sorry. That’s why He designed confession. That’s why Jesus blood covered all sin for all time. If guilt and shame were only removed from us at salvation, if it was just a one-time cleansing, you and I wouldn’t have any quality of life! But because God is all about life He wants us to have a mechanism, a vehicle, an avenue, a way to have the weight of sin removed from us. So, when you sin, open your mouth, agree with God about it, ask for forgiveness, receive it and get back on the path of holiness.
3. Finally, Choose life by coming home. Turn to Luke chapter 15 as we take a look
at a man who had life but chose death and then made a choice for life again. He was one of two boys who had it made. He lived in his father’s house, enjoyed security, warmth, food, and the fellowship and love of his family. Who knows what prompted his decision to leave, but one day he decided he wanted something different. Maybe he didn’t want to follow house rules anymore. Maybe he didn’t want to live under his father’s authority anymore. Maybe he decided didn’t need anyone else’s guidance or support to make it in life. Whatever the case, he did the unthinkable in that culture. He asked for his inheritance early. People didn’t receive inheritances until a person had passed on, but this young man had the nerve to ask his dad for his share of the inheritance while his dad was still living. His dad gave it to him, and the young man, Luke 15 tells us, squandered or wasted all of his money on wild living. Whatever comes to your mind when you think of wild and reckless living, that’s what he did.
This young man represents anyone who has at one time been one of God’s children and has been at one time inside the safety of the Father’s house. For whatever reason, they have made a choice to leave, to turn their back on God, and to walk away from His provision and protection and to strike out on their own. One problem with the young man’s decision was that he didn’t think long-term. What happens when the money runs out? What happens when the drugs become addictive? What happens when sexual promiscuity leads to an unwanted pregnancy or disease? What happens when the alcohol becomes so intoxicating you forget you aren’t supposed to drink and drive and you are arrested for DUI? What happens when the seductive pictures you sent of yourself on Instagram, Snapchat and KIK really didn’t disappear in seconds, but are stored in cyber space to be used against you at a later date? What happens when the people you were running with that you thought were your friends abandon you in the time of crisis? What happens when the gambling becomes a stronghold, and you lose your car or home or family because you can’t stop? What happens when you have left the Father’s house and left your church family and you get the news you have cancer or experience the devastation of your marriage or lose your job or whatever other hardship life can and does bring? What happens down the road from reckless living is death.
The young man in Luke 15 had it all in the Father’s house, but he lost it all when he struck out on his own. Everything he had dreamed of was gone. He was destitute and alone. Verse 16 of Luke 15 tells us he got so desperate he was willing to eat the slop the pigs were eating, but no one would give him any. Start reading with me at verse 17: “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.’
He had come to realize he had made a choice that led to death. He didn’t know in that moment if his dad would take him back, but it was his last and only hope. He was out of options. If he was going to live again and dream again and prosper again and eat again, he was going to have to be accepted by his father. He rehearsed what he was going to say. His apology was straight-forward and sincere. He was ready to own what he had done. He hadn’t just impacted his life, but he had hurt his family. He had disappointed his father. He had been raised better. He knew better. He wasn’t going to try to sugar coat it or sweep anything under the rug. He was ready to admit what he had done and why it was wrong. Verse 19 tells us he was even willing to work himself back into his father’s good graces.
The beautiful homecoming begins in verse 20. The father had been waiting. He had been studying the horizon. He was out on the porch as often as possible in hopes that one day his boy would be back. Finally, the day came. Before the son could get to his dad and get a word out, as soon as his silhouette appeared in the distance, the father ran to embrace his son and celebrate his homecoming. The son still confessed his wrongdoing in verse 21, but the father embraced him first! There was no working himself back into his dad’s good graces, he was simply extended grace because he chose to come home.
God is waiting on several people to come home. Many who have known better and had better, many who knew what life Jesus could offer have turned their backs on the Father’s provision and have gone their own way. Perhaps you are like that son who didn’t think long-term and you find yourself now, having lost the very life you thought you could pursue and gain by striking out on your own. You are not here by accident this morning. God wants you to know He is scanning the horizon, and He is waiting to embrace you and to welcome you back home. You don’t have to work up to your status as His child. He will take you back “as is” and restore you to the position in grace you held before you chose to leave His care. Has anyone come to their senses this morning? Is anyone ready to come home?
God wants you to live. Choose life! Speak life over your circumstances! Choose life! Don’t live sorry. Live free. Confess your sin. Be healed. Be cleansed and be empowered to walk in holiness. Choose life! Come home. The Father is scanning the horizon this morning, and He is waiting for you!