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On September 11, 2001 over 4,000 people were killed. They were future leaders of this nation, doctors who could have saved many, scientists who may have found a cure for cancer, evangelists who may have lead thousands to the Lord and they were loved. Yes on September 11, 2001, evil doers killed over 4000 people. But the truth is that many people don’t realize that on September 12, 2001 another 4000 people and again on September 13 and 14 and 15. Every day over 4000 people are killed. These are unborn babies- 4000 each day, 28,000 each week, 112,000 each month and 1,460,000 each year. On September 11, 2001 terrorists killed nearly 4000 people, and the outcry for justice was great, the cry of pain was heard throughout our Nation. Swift and accurate justice was rendered. 4000 unborn babies are being killed every day, but I see no national anger and no national outcry for justice. Perhaps you might ask, “Why does the church speak to this political topic? Hear me clearly.  This is first and foremost a biblical issue. All we need do is look around us to see the great loss for the value of life in our society. Will you stand for the reading of God’s Word? Jeremiah 1:5 “”Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations.” Psalm 139:1 “1 O Lord, you have searched me and you know me.” 13-15 “13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. 14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. 15 My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, 16 your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” Silent Prayer Let me just begin by saying that God is pro life.  He is all about life.  In fact, Jesus came to say that He came to give us an abundant life.  John 10:10 says, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” The battle between God and Satan, between good and evil, is absolutely on display in this one verse.  There is someone who is about death and destruction and someone who is about life and enjoying it to the full.  I like to think of the life Jesus gives like I think of my Speedway diet coke in the morning.  I like to have it filled so high to the top that usually when I’m pouring the fizz runs over.  I don’t want to miss a single ounce of space in that cup because I enjoy my fountain drink.  Jesus doesn’t want us to miss a single moment of abundant life and for that reason He came to fill our lives up to the point of overflowing.  Isn’t that what the Psalmist says in Psalm 23?  My cup overflows!  Life with Jesus is so rich and full it’s like an overflowing fountain all of the time. Or think of it this way. You have reserved a subcompact car like a Ford Escort to rent for a vacation. The Ford Escort gets good gas mileage. It runs fine. It will get you where you need to go. But let’s suppose when you go to the Car Rental place and you ask for your Ford Escort they tell you that all the Ford Escorts are in service. “Would you mind an upgrade?”  “Would you mind an upgrade?” you say to yourself. “Come on, get serious,” you think. You would love an upgrade. The car rental attendant says, “Well, it looks like the only car we have available is a Lincoln Town Car. Would that be all right?”  Of course that will be all right. So you hop into your Lincoln Town Car and drive off in style. Does this car get you to your destination any faster? NO. But you get there in greater comfort and in luxury. You feel better about yourself. You don’t mind a few stares and looks from people you pass on the road. When you get out at the motel you’re treated with a little more respect than you have been before when you pulled up in the Ford Escort. I am telling you that Jesus has come to upgrade your life.  He wants to give you an upgrade.  You won’t get to eternity any faster.  You’ll still have to deal with whatever scenery life affords you, but there will be a comfort added to your life that is supernatural and you’ll get the attention of people as they see your peace and confidence.  Anyone here want to sign up for an upgrade with Jesus this morning? Jeremiah 29:11 says, “I’ve got great plans for you.  I want to prosper you.  I won’t harm you.  In me you have a special hope and a great future.” Can’t you just hear Dick Vitale trying to explain this verse!  “In Christ, baby, in Him there is greatness.  You’ll be a Primetime Time Player in Jesus.  You’ll go all the way, baby.  You’ll be a special player in the game of life.” (Said impersonating him!)  Don’t you just love basketball season?  I digress. Everywhere we turn, people are looking for the “good life,” only until you find it in Jesus, you come up empty.  He’s the one with the special plan.  He’s the one with a best life scenario to offer.  He’s the one who holds a great future for you. So many of us don’t realize God has a plan for our lives and we’re trying to fill up our lives with our own plans. And what’s happening is we’re left feeling empty. I read a story on the CBS website about an African plant called Hoodia. It looks like cactus and it grows wild in the desert. The plant’s getting a lot of attention because it seems to be a good food suppressant. Scientists have discovered that when you eat small amounts of the plant, it leaves you with a sense of being full when in fact you’re not. Listen, people everywhere are filling up their lives with things that they think are making them full. They’re filling up their lives with work and material things. They’re filling up their lives with things that physically make us feel good. But as time goes on what they discover is that those things actually don’t make them full; they don’t actually give us a well balanced and full life. They in fact leave us empty.  Life with Jesus is full.  Life with Jesus has meaning.  Life with Jesus is a wonderful life! Based on our texts for the message, I can say without reservation that it’s a wonderful life because we have been HANDMADE by God. God is an artist, a Creator.  Colossians 1:16-17 say, “For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: and he is before all things, and by him all things consist.” Everything that has been created whether you can see it or not has been touched by the hands of God.  We are not an ooze in the atmosphere or some kind of evolving metamorphic blob that made its way through some randomness into a person.  We have been handcrafted by God. We read that Jeremiah is formed in the womb by God.  The Hebrew word for “form” is the same word that depicts a creative piece of art work being formed by a potter as the clay is shaped and molded.  It’s the same word used in Genesis where we read that God formed man from the dust of the earth.  In the garden, God created man on purpose.  He wanted relationship with a living soul.  It was by design and with intention that God scooped up some dust and began to form it.  No person exists because of random chance.  Just as Jeremiah was formed and shaped in his mother’s womb, so we are the product of God’s creative handiwork. In the womb there is life.  Life begins at conception and continues to grow.  It’s a wonderful life, even in the womb where God is at work helping the life to shape and grow and be prepared to experience an even greater dimension of life outside a woman’s womb.  That’s what makes abortion such a violent crime.  Life is being snuffed out while the Master Creator is at work. It’s estimated that one out of six women who regularly attend church have had an abortion.  Church, we have got to be diligent to speak for life and help our children and young people know as they grow that God is at work in creating a baby and even in the womb because of the intricacies of design and the handmade way God is taking care of that baby that it’s a wonderful life that shouldn’t be snuffed out.  We need to step up and provide for and care for and pay for children whose mothers would make the loving choice to put their baby up for adoption and give other mothers the tools they need to raise their children with confidence when they make the choice to do so.  I want you to know that our Trustee board approved this past Thursday night that we’ll financially support the pro life women’s pregnancy care ministry in Charleston.  If not us, then who? Isn’t ironic that all of the people who favor abortion were permitted to be born themselves?  Did you know that in all of the wars in which America has participated, less than 1.2 million Americans have been killed.  By contrast, more than 25 times that many have been killed by abortion since the Roe vs. Wade ruling of 1973! Did you know that on Day 1 – conception takes place?  By 7 days – The tiny human implants in mother’s uterus. By 18 days the heart begins to beat.  By 21 days –  the baby pumps his or her own blood through a separate closed circulatory system with own blood type. By 28 days – eye, ear and respiratory system begin to form. By 42 days – brain waves can be recorded, the skeleton is complete, and reflexes are present. At 7 weeks – a photo of the baby sucking its thumb can be taken.  At 8 weeks all body systems are present and by nine weeks the baby squints, swallows, moves its tongue and can make a fist.  This life being handmade by Creator God is a wonderful and fascinating life even on the inside of its mother’s womb. Scripture says that God is so involved in our lives that He had his hand on Jeremiah’s life before he was even conceived.  Before Jeremiah was formed, God knew him.  You know people.  You don’t know blobs of tissue.  People are known.  Before Jeremiah was conceived, God knew him, considering him a person. The word knew (yād̠aʿ) means far more than intellectual knowledge. It was used of the intimate relations experienced by a husband and wife and carries the sense of a close personal relationship and protection. The word “knew” also carries with it a sense of relationship and approval. In other words God had a stamp of approval on Jeremiah’s life before he was conceived.  After that, God formed Jeremiah and gave him the genetic structure He wanted him to possess. Genesis also tells us that God created us in His image.  He didn’t just put some bones and flesh together, but He created in each of us the ability to reflect His image.  There is some special image of God trait in each one of us which gives us the opportunity to show the world what He is like.  That makes us valuable.  It’s not about the outside container, but what is inside it that makes it so valuable.  We aren’t spotted owls or seals, but we are bearers of God’s image which makes us priceless. God not only knew “about” Jeremiah, he “knew” him and was involved in a personal way with him before he was conceived. God is saying, “I started getting you ready, and the world ready for you, long before you were born. I worked through your father and your mother, your grandfathers and grandmothers, your great-grandfathers and great-grandmothers. For generations back I have been preparing you.” Now, if you read this verse in Jeremiah as though this were something extraordinary which applied only to Jeremiah the prophet, you have misread the whole passage. What the Lord said about Jeremiah is true about us also.  God never made another one like you, and he never will. God never made anyone else who can fill the place you can fill and do the things you can do. This is the wonder of the way God forms human life – that of the billions and billions that have been born upon this earth there are no duplicates. Each one is unique, prepared of God for the time in which he is to live. Do you know what upsets me the most about the lie of evolution besides the fact that it isn’t true?  It insists that God’s image isn’t in me.  If I’ve evolved from some lower life form, God didn’t create me in His image.  If I’m not made in His image I’m not valuable.  If I’m not valuable I’m optional or disposable.  Do you see the path the enemy has taken our culture down? Recall our Psalm 139 passage, ““13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. 14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” I will never accept the lie of evolution when my God tells me I am created by Him and bear his image which makes me valuable. Not only is it a wonderful life because we were handmade by God, but it’s also a wonderful like because we have been HANDPICKED by God to fulfill a purpose and walk into a destiny that no other person was created to possess. The second part of Jeremiah 1:5 says, “Before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations.” Jeremiah was handpicked to be a prophet for God.  While Jeremiah’s mom was carrying him in her womb, she no doubt dreamed about what he would become, what role he would play, what his purpose was, but God already knew it.  God already was preparing Jeremiah, even in the secret place, to become a prophet to the nations. The apostle Paul had a similar understanding of his life.  He said in Galatians 1:15-16 But when God, who set me apart from birth and called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not consult any man.” You might think that sounds arrogant of Paul to say he didn’t need man’s approval.  It’s not arrogant at all, but confident.  When God ordains something, man’s opinion doesn’t matter. I remember sitting before the ordination committee in OH. I had heard horror stories about how rigorous the process was, how grueling it would be, how many questions I’d be asked and how many papers I’d write and books I’d read before I’d get the certificate that said I was “acceptable to be ordained to the ministry.”  I sat down and the six people staring me in the face said to me, “Tell us why you want to be ordained.” I simply replied, “I guess I just want you to recognize what God has already done.  God has called me and set me apart for ministry and that’s all the affirmation I need.” I’m not making light of the ordination process.  People need to have their lives examined when they are going to lead God’s church, but hear me clearly whatever that committee might have said to me could never trump what God had already said.  I had been ordained by God for the purpose of full-time Christian ministry. You might be thinking, well that’s good for Jeremiah, Paul and you, but you’re special cases.  Not everyone is created with such a lofty purpose. While it is true that not all people are created for fulltime ministry, to say that all unborn children do not have divine purpose is to contradict God’s Word. The Bible says that “God is no respector of persons.” (Romans 2:11) Every unborn child has a divine purpose. Whether they fulfill that purpose or not is another question. But they should be given the opportunity to do so? There would be nothing worse than knowing you were called but not being given a place and opportunity to serve.  There would be nothing worse than being handpicked for the team and never getting an opportunity to play.  There is nothing sadder than a child who doesn’t get to appear on the stage of life because he or she was inconvenient and was an interruption to the selfish plans of a mother and father when they have been handpicked by God to make a special difference in the world. Because of circumstances sometimes it’s hard for us to see any purpose for the birth of some children. Sometimes we feel that some children would not have a chance if they were brought into this world. But this choice is better left in the hands of God. We are not God. I ran across an interesting article that illustrates this point. It asks the question. Would you consider an abortion in any of these circumstances? 1) A preacher and his wife living in extreme poverty. They have 14 children and she is pregnant again. 2) A mother has TB and the father has chronic sinus problems. The family has four children already. One has TB, two are deaf and one is blind. Would you consider abortion? 3) A thirteen year old black girl is raped by a white man. 4) A teenage girl becomes pregnant but not by her fiance’. He is very upset. Would you consider abortion? If you aborted in the first case you have killed John Wesley. If you aborted in the second case you killed Beethoven. If you aborted in the third case you killed Ethel Waters the black gospel singer. If in the fourth case you aborted you killed Jesus of Nazareth. You see we don’t have the ability to play God. Out of the millions of aborted children over the past thirty years who knows what great purposes of God, what great potential was snuffed out depriving mankind of great blessing. The unborn child has great God given purpose and potential. Remember Jeremiah 29:11.  God has great plans for you.  You’ve been handpicked.  Abraham and Sarah were handpicked to have a special son in their old age through which all the earth would be blessed.  Moses was handpicked to lead millions out of Egyptian slavery.  Joshua was handpicked to lead the charge to possess the Promised Land.  Mary was handpicked to bear the Messiah.  All of these people were common, ordinary people like you and me.  Remember today that you have been handpicked by God for a great purpose. You have been handmade.  You have been handpicked and you are being watched, helped, and guided by a God who is “Hands On.” It would be ridiculous if a craftsman created something special, taking time to fashion it with great precision and detail knowing that it would be useful in a specific way only then to set that creation on the shelf and say, “You’re on your own.” Praise God this morning that our God is a “hands on” God! He is the God who is with us because truthfully, He continues to shape and mold us until we reach the perfection of looking exactly like Jesus.  He continues to be with us because we need to know which way to go.  We need spiritual power and strength to accomplish our destiny because just like He was with us in the womb, He is with us in life.  Just like we depend on Him for every breath, we depend on Him for everything in life.  Can you see that even in the establishing of Creator and creature rhythms, God has kept us with Him and Him with us because He loves us so much He can’t put us down.  He loves us so much He can’t take His hands or eyes off of us.  Even in the dependency we have on Him we see God has made it so that we will be in constant fellowship and relationship with Him. He knew Jeremiah in the womb and He didn’t ever quit knowing Him.  His hand is on your life right now, even if you aren’t cooperating with Him.  The fact that you are here, listening to me talk on a Sunday morning when we’d all rather be in bed with the covers up around our necks relaxing and taking it easy is evidence that God has His hand on your life.  In fact God has his hands so tight on some of you, you wish He’d let up a bit. Life’s tragedy is that sin entered the world through the sin of Adam and Eve.  We’re all born with the sin disease, the sin nature.  The Bible says that death entered the world when sin did.  Heartache, sickness, pain, death-none of them was God’s plan.  Man’s willful disobedience is the culprit.  But that doesn’t mean that God leaves us to fend for ourselves and hope for the best.  No, He sent Jesus to pay the price for our sins so that we could be free from sin as a Master, have Him as our Master, and spend eternity in heaven away from everything that is boring, unlovely, disgusting, hurtful, violent or evil.  You’d better be praising God this morning that His hands are on you because if not, you’re not going to make it. Psalm 139:7 and following says,  Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? 8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. 9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, 10 even there your HAND will guide me, your right HAND will hold me fast.” Some of you are running from Him.  He sees you.  You can’t get away.  He’s pursuing you.  Some of you are at the water’s edge but you haven’t put your foot in yet.  He sees you.  He’s wooing you.  Some of you are hurting and broken.  He sees you.  He’s holding you.  Some of you are going through difficult life transitions.  You’re getting older and you’re not able to do what you used to.  You are feeling limited and maybe lonely and alone.  He hasn’t forgotten you. There was a married couple that stopped for gas in Montgomery, Alabama. After the husband finished pumping gas, he got in his car and continued his journey. 5 hours later he realized he’d forgotten something back at the gas station…his wife! So at the next town he stopped at the police station, got in touch with his wife and tried to explain to her what happened. Eventually he had to tell her that for 5 hours he just didn’t realize she wasn’t in the car with him. Listen, God doesn’t forget us!  He doesn’t leave us in the dust. He always knows what’s going on. Because of that truth, we don’t quit living while we’re still alive, we don’t hasten death as in the case of euthanasia or wish our lives away, but we say, “God, since you are with me and know what I’m going through, help me and use me even in the midst of my personal limitation and pain.  Show me what abundant life looks like with cancer.  Show me what abundant life looks life with loss.  She me what abundant life looks like with challenges.” And we make the commitment to remain in His hands. In sharing this message this morning, I don’t want to run over the fact that there are likely women in this room who have had abortions.  There are likely men who have encouraged women to do so.  I want you to know you are still in God’s hands as well.  He loves you.  Statistics tells us that most women who have aborted babies report regret, shame, hurt, and grief for the rest of their life.  Jesus is here to bind up your broken heart, to forgive you and to heal you.  Our sister’s ministry in Charleston does special counseling for women who have had abortions.  There is grace and mercy for you.  Please do not hear condemnation this morning. The truth is for all of us here this morning.  No matter what we’ve done, God loves us.  He has handmade us and handpicked us for special work and it’s not too late to accomplish it.  His hands are reaching for you this morning.  Will you lift your hands and life in surrender to Him?
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