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Pastor Scott Richards, First United Methodist Church, Post

Choose Life!

Published Aug. 15, 2012 @ 6 a.m.

Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am being tempted by God," for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. - James 1:13-16

Every Christian is engaged in spiritual warfare.  Many of us are not aware of our warfare simply because we are unaware of how much we have already capitulated to the enemy.  Our lives seem calm and uninterrupted because we do are no longer living to the beat of God’s heart within us.  We are not able to see with God’s eyes what is going on around us and within us.  If we could see with God’s eyes and we lived to the beat of God’s heart we would see and understand the work that needs to be done and the battles that need to be fought.

When we give our lives to Jesus Christ we are born from above (John 3:3) and we are made a new creation. (2 Corinthians 5:17)  We are given a new nature, the nature of Jesus Christ, and the old nature passes away.  But we continue to live in a world controlled by an enemy who uses our emotional needs and our bodies desires to try and draw us away from the Lord. It generally works something like this:

"Your very tired and you have a lot to do.  Your social life is already full and there are ball games to go to and practices to attend.  You can always worship the Lord another time.  God will accept your worship even if it is while you are in bed and alone.”  Then your own mind seems to say, “I know that the Lord has a lot of work for me.  But I am so tired and I am so busy.  If I don’t get my kids to practice the coach won’t let them play and school work has to get done.  I’m sure the Lord will understand."

Pretty soon the enemy doesn’t have to speak to you anymore.  When you think about the Lord it is only when you have a need.  You are no longer a threat to the enemy because you aren’t really doing anything for the Lord at all.  You use the Lord’s name from time to time and your mouth remembers the right language but you are serving yourself and your family and you have long since forgotten serving God.

Every now and again you heart feels remorse.  You remember the fire of God that once filled your being and you wish it was still there.  But as you look around you find that almost everyone you know is like you.  They all have the right language and they all talk about their faith in Jesus and they are all sure the Lord will understand.  You have easily become just like your neighbors because there is no difference between you.  Their commitment to God is pretty shallow just like yours.

When you walk down the street and you see the needy you think somebody else should help them.  When a friend's child makes a major life mistake you feel really bad and you support them emotionally the best that you can.  But you discover that you have not spiritual support to give.  Your own life with God is little more than cold embers.  What do you have to share with your friend?

What you might not understand is that the likelihood of your friend's child making that mistake was greatly enhanced by the lack of spiritual life the child has.  Your own insistence upon making school or athletics or playing first in your life and thus in your child’s life has left them just as vulnerable.  They are separated from God with little more than a superficial faith to protect them.  Yes, it is true that even really committed Christians sometimes have children who go far away from their parent’s teaching but it happens on a far less frequent basis.

We are tempted and we are led astray by our own desires.  We hear the Bible’s words to us and we think of sexual temptation or maybe the temptation to steal or commit murder.  We don’t realize that those sins are really just symptoms of a far greater sin.  That sin is idolatry.  We have given up worshipping God and we have begun to worship ourselves.  Paul puts it plainly in Romans 3 when he quotes from the Psalms:

As it is written: "None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one."(Romans 3:10-12)

Thankfully, we serve a God really is always willing to forgive and whose grace is sufficient for all.  If we are really willing to turn and to be committed to God we will be accepted.  The Lord will fill our lives with real life once again and we will know the fullness of God’s Holy Spirit within our lives.  Return to the Lord and you will discover that the Lord is there waiting for you.

But do not let the enemy deceive you.  It is dangerous to wait.  Today does matter.  God will not turn away from you but every day you are not turning towards God you are turning away from God.  Your heart is becoming more hardened and your spirit dies a little more each day.  You might not can tell the difference from one day to the next but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t one.

Life without God’s full participation is really just living death.  Why would you want to continue in that?  Choose to return to the Lord today and you will discover the fullness of life God has for you.  Choose to worship yourself again today and you will discover that you are dying a little more each day.  Why live in the enemies deception any longer?  Choose life!

 

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