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We have been evaluating what it means to be in alignment with God.  We understand from Scripture that living aligned with Him is what enables us to live out our God-given purpose and it is what gives us the ability to receive the blessings God desires to give us.  Thinking again, about having the tires are your car aligned, living in alignment enables us to have an optimum travel experience as we journey through life.  We won’t be pulled to the left or to the right.  It is easy to get off track with God.  It is easy to be pulled in directions that take our focus off of Him.  When that happens, we can begin to value the things the world says are important instead of the things that God says are important.  Your alignment will determine your focus.  Your alignment will dictate your values. Your alignment will shape your ideologies and character. Keeping tuned up with God is the way to be on the path God wants you to walk. 

If you aren’t in alignment with God, you are making the choice to do what you want to do and to go wherever you want to go and to do whatever you want to do.  It puts you in a position where you are elevating your intellect and desires over the sovereign knowledge and will of God for your life.  Now, that may not be a conscious thought, but now that I have put it in those terms, perhaps that is something you can really consider as we walk through this message. 

Isaiah 30:21, 21 Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”  Learning to hear God’s voice is key to being in alignment with Him.  Pray to hear God every day.

Today, we are investigating God’s heart for all people.  No one could make a biblical case that God is a God of death.  Alignment with God means aligning with life.  We know Jesus has come to give us eternal life.  John 3:16 is clear on that and so are over 40 other verses on that topic. There is no eternal life apart from Jesus.  No matter what any other religion or philosophy might claim, you only get eternal life in Him.  Christ, alone, is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, John 14:6.

That said, life with God, alignment with Him, is about more than what happens when you die. God wants to impact our lives, our quality of life, while we are on earth.  He wants to satisfy our lives with good things, Psalm 103:5.  God doesn’t want you to live aimlessly, purposeless, bound up, angry, dissatisfied or without joy.  He wants you to live fulfilled, satisfied, joyful, and at peace and all of that comes from alignment with Him.

God wants us to have abundant life, to enjoy life, as we live here on earth.  Proverbs 8:34-36 is a weighty passage on aligning with God when it comes to the subject of life. 

Proverbs 8:34-36: 34 Blessed are those who listen to me, watching daily at my doors, waiting at my doorway. What a picture of alignment.  Someone who is seeking to hear from God, who is waiting on Him to act and to speak is crouched at the door just waiting for it to open.  This person is living in a state of anticipation and readiness to receive something from God.  There is an attentiveness to the movement of God because the person here doesn’t want to miss what He has to say.  What does the passage go on to say?

35 For those who find me find life and receive favor from the Lord.  When you accept Christ as Savior and Lord, you receive life in every possible way.  He gives life to your soul.  Your sin is lifted off of you.  Shame and condemnation are removed from you.  Victory over sin and death is given to you.  That is incredible!  Jesus gives life to your mind.  He gives life to the dreams that He places inside of you.  He gives life to your relationships.  Jesus is life.  If you don’t have Jesus, you don’t have real life.  You have physical life, but you don’t have real life because real life is eternal life which supersedes your physical experience. When you get Jesus, you find life AND you find favor.

Favor comes as you are positioned in Christ, as you are aligned with Him.  What do I mean by favor?  Favor with God means I am never alone.  Favor with God means that I have the resources of Heaven at my disposal for the challenges of life.  Favor with God means I will have favor with people.  God will use people to support what He calls me to do.  God will direct people to encourage me when I need it.  God will bring people into alignment with His Kingdom purposes to partner with our ministry and to help us advance the Kingdom. God will give me words to speak when they are needed. God will be responsive to hear and answer my prayers.  God will guard my ways and direct my steps.  God will manifest His presence in miraculous ways when I am overwhelmed or overcome.  God will elevate me in situations that otherwise would crush me.  Favor is supernatural help, supernatural strength, and supernatural supply to get through life with joy and peace. While sometimes favor includes temporal, financial blessings, it isn’t the focus.  God’s favor grants you the things that money can’t buy.  Psalm 30:5 says God’s favor lasts for a lifetime! A lifetime!  Those who find God find life and favor.  The favor lasts for a lifetime, and the life lasts forever.  Who doesn’t want to sign up for that? 

Now the next verse is pretty sobering.  I want you to consider it with great intention and an open heart. 36 But those who fail to find me harm themselves; all who hate me love death.”

Those who won’t accept the Lord are harming themselves. How so? They are harming themselves because they are cut off from spiritual life and are cut off from the favor of God which adds quality of life to life on earth. The last part of the verse might be tough to receive. It says, “all who hate me love death.”  Again, probably not a conscious choice anyone makes.  I don’t know anyone who would say they prefer death over life.  I don’t know anyone who thinks promoting or cultivating or celebrating a culture of death is a desired way to live. What I do know, is that they don’t know what they are missing out on by not living life with Jesus. This verse tells us that because Jesus is life and gives life, not choosing Him is choosing a pathway that is the opposite of life.

We see evidence of this happening all around us. There is no way anyone can make a biblical case for abortion.  You can’t find Bible verses to support it.  There are verses that argue against it. There are theological underpinnings which point to it being against God, who is the “Author of Life.”  Abortion is the opposite of life.  Anything that is the opposite of life cannot be of God.

Before I go further, let me invite those who disagree with me to hear me out, and let me offer to anyone who has had an abortion this truth, God isn’t done with you.  He has life for you, life that comes from forgiveness and life that comes through healing.  We have all done things that are the opposite of what God would want us to do.  If you have chosen an abortion over giving your child life, that decision doesn’t have to take your life as well.  Give God the chance to heal you and set you free.  That is what He does.  That is Who He is.  What we have done, what we do, doesn’t minimize Who God is or what He can and wants to do.  God wants you to have an abundant life, not matter what choice you have made.

If I didn’t preach the truth about God’s position on life, I wouldn’t be telling you the truth.  I would be withholding information that can be life-giving to people who are suffering the pain from having had an abortion.  I have talked to several women who have had an abortion, and they all tell me there is trauma associated with having one.  I care just as much about the person who has undergone the trauma of the abortion as I do those being aborted, and so does God, actually infinitely more than I could. 

Psalm 127:3 Children are a heritage from the LORD, offspring a reward from him.

The eight children we dedicated to the Lord this morning are so precious.  Each one.  There is a Divine plan for each of their lives. Not one of them is an accident. All of them are a blessing. The latest data we have regarding the number of abortions annually is from 2020.  It was estimated that there were 916,460 abortions that year. But children are a heritage from the Lord.  They are a reward from Him.  I believe Satan has been at work to confuse and overwhelm people and put fear on people to the point they would seek an abortion because he doesn’t want humanity to receive a heritage, a reward, a blessing from God. 

Genesis 1:27 says, “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.”

Satan also doesn’t want God’s image to be reflected on the earth. The sacredness of the birth of a baby helps many see God’s image in the world.  It is the image of God that forms the basis for civil rights. That is why the Declaration of Independence contains the words: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” Self-evident.  That means it is obvious.  It means it doesn’t have to be explained. Unalienable rights are rights that cannot be taken away because they belong to us by virtue of our participation in the human race. And where do these rights come from? They don’t come from Congress or the Supreme Court.  They come from the Creator of the universe. And that is precisely the truth revealed in Genesis 1.

Biologically speaking, life begins at conception. Something is alive, something is living, something is growing when an egg and sperm come together.  Conception = Life.  Exodus 20:13 is one of the big Ten Commandments.  “You shall not murder.”  We cannot participate in activities that do not uphold the sacredness, the sanctity, the value, the dignity of life.  Protecting life in the womb is fundamental to protecting life at every age and stage.  If one life is disposable, every life is disposable.  What does that say about the sacredness of life? 

Proverbs 24:11 11 Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter.

Who are those being led away to death?  No specific people group is mentioned here so as not to limit or try to quantify which lives are sacred and have value.  The understanding here is that an intervention is needed whenever and wherever life is being threatened.  It doesn’t matter what a person’s race might be, what their socio-economic status might be, what their age might be or where they live whether inside the womb, on the street, in their own home or in a nursing home.  Whoever, wherever and whatever their circumstance, if they are being led to death, if they are being discarded, if their life is being threatened or diminished by abuse, neglect or violence, if they aren’t deemed worthy to live, God says, “Intervene.”

The next verse is Proverbs 24:12 12 If you say, “But we knew nothing about this,” does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who guards your life know it?  Will he not repay everyone according to what they have done?

He also says that we can’t claim ignorance.  We cannot turn a blind eye. Believers, we must stand for life, speak life and support life as a way of life. (That is the overarching point to this message.)  Stand.  Speak.  Support.  Align yourselves with Christ who is life.

Proverbs 18: 21-“The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.”

Intervene when someone is downgrading someone.  Don’t be part of speaking disparagingly about someone. Don’t participate in negative talk. Speak words of life.  Invest in people by encouraging them. Share the Word with people. Work to be a life-giver in the way you talk. I am so thankful for those who participated in our Cardboard Testimonies today. Sharing your testimony is a way to give life to other people.  It shows them what is possible with God’s help. It is a way to speak life. 

How about sharing Good News versus gossip?  How about investing in and elevating people instead of condemning them?  How about we use our words to build and bless instead of to curse and destroy people?  Tell people how much they mean to you.  Let them know you love them.  I was out in the community this past week and saw Zane Hutchinson, a young man who attends this church.  We chatted for a few and as he left, he said to me, “I love you, Pastor Melissa.”  Oh, how that thrilled my soul!  Affirm people.  Appreciation people.  When you thank someone for what they do to you, you are giving them a life lift.

“The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life, but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence. The lips of the righteous feed many, but fools die for lack of sense.” Proverbs 10:11 and 21

I want to be a fountain of life.  I want to feed and nourish many with my words.   

Stand for life. Speak life. Support life. Look for ways to give help when people are going through difficulties.  Cindy Farley is leading our Congregational Support Ministry.  She has a monthly meeting now on Thursdays to share about people in our congregation who might need a ride to an appointment, who need assistance following a surgery, who need some practical help that you can give which will improve their quality of life.  Get involved in supporting the life of a brother or sister in Christ. 

Many in our congregation have fostered and adopted children. What a way to support life!  These are precious lives who need a caring home.  Maybe you can’t foster a child, but you can provide support for those who take on this awesome responsibility.  You can pray for them.  You can find out what need you could meet to help them meet the needs of those in their care.

Almost Home Ministries, the group that has joined us today, is a life-giving support ministry for those who are coming out of addiction.  How can you support their work?  What about sponsoring a night of pampering for the ladies or dropping off a special hot meal?  Maybe you could ask what practical help they need at the home.  Sometimes a small act of kindness is life-giving to those who are trying to overcome a challenge.

We heard last week from Angie Williams about Heartbeat of the Valley, a group that offers to support to moms and dads who are scared, who need direction, who need help to make the decision to choose life and then who need assistance as they support the lives of their children after they come into the world.

The Barboursville Juvenile Detention Center needs people who will come once a month and lead a class or a devotion with young people who are incarcerated. Does God want some of you to offer life to them? 

When you volunteer in this ministry to serve our kids or to hang out with our teens, you are supporting life.  When you come to the prayer pots and take names and needs to pray for, you are supporting life.  When you show up at difficult moments in people’s lives, you are supporting life.  When you take a meal to someone who is grieving, you are supporting life. When you sit with a tired caregiver and offer them time and friendship, you are supporting life.   

Stand for life, speak life, support life, as a way of life for a lifetime.  This issue is much more comprehensive than the issue of abortion.  Too many believers are anti-abortion, but aren’t really pro-life.  If you are truly pro-life it will be seen in the ways you speak for and support life in the lives of those around you and it will be the evidence that you are properly aligned with Jesus.

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