Choosing Correctly

Sun, Feb 19, 2017
Teacher: Mark Hull
Duration:25 mins 12 secs

Message text

CHOOSING CORRECTLY Philipians 3:17–21 and John 10:10

As most of us are well aware there has been a lot of talk during this election season about media bias. And now that the election is over it is obvious that some in the media are upset about the election results.
Well, it is not my intention to talk about any of that this evening. But I do want to remind you that efforts to ask "gotcha" questions are not new at all.
For example, back in 1988 Dan Quayle was selected as the vice-presidential running mate of George H.W. Bush. Within hours of that announcement he faced the most intense media questioning of his life.
One of the "gotcha" questions, & his answer, not only dominated the news reports of that press conference, but was used to dog his steps the entire time he was the Vice-President of the United States.
The question was that while the Viet Nam war was going on why did he enlist in the National Guard & thus avoided the draft. He could have answered that legally he had the right to make that choice and was within his rights in doing so.
But instead of defending himself that way, he candidly replied, "I didn't know back then that I'd be standing before you today." In other words, "If I had known back then what I know now, I would have made a different choice."
Many people have echoed that same cry, “If only I had known, I would have done things differently than I did.”
Lyle Alzado, a star player on the Super Bowl 18 Champion Oakland Raiders team, died at age 43. He was convinced that his use of steroids during his football career had caused the brain cancer that was destroying him, & he warned fellow athletes to stay away from steroids.
Mickey Mantle, one of the most famous baseball players who ever lived, during a press conference in Dallas while waiting for a new kidney, expressed regret over years of alcohol abuse.
He said that he wished he had known the damage alcohol was doing to his body all those years, & warned young people everywhere, "Don't be like me."
And it's not just in sports where this happens. It can happen in every walk of life. Our choices have consequences that can affect not only our life but also the lives of those around us.
In Deuteronomy 30:19, God told the Israelites that He was setting before them "life & death, blessings & curses" & He encouraged them to choose life.
Joshua challenged his countrymen, "Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve... but as for me & my house we will serve the Lord." (Joshua 24:15)
Now let me summarize the whole point of this sermon: Every day, make sure your choices honor God. You'll never regret it!
A. We are living in an age when many are consumed with the idea of success & winning. Some will do almost anything to succeed or to win.
When Bill Veeck owned the Cleveland Indians baseball franchise, it is said that he would have the outfield fences moved either in or out, depending on the team that they would be playing next. He would position the fences in a way that he felt would give the Cleveland Indians an advantage over their opponents.
When league officials found out, they passed a rule to make that illegal. So Veeck, evidently a very creative cheater, would sneak out to the ball park and dig up home plate & move it either a few inches closer or a few inches further from the pitcher's mound in an attempt to accomplish the same purpose.
That sounds more ridiculous than shocking today. Nowadays we aren't easily shocked. We aren't all that surprised when a politician casts innuendoes or tries to paint an unsavory picture of his opponent in an effort to gain an advantage in the campaign.
Whatever it takes to win, some people are willing to do. Whether in politics or athletics or business, they focus on instant gratification. Their only motivation is to satisfy their desires.
Paul wrote about such people in Philippians 3:18-19. He said, "Many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their God is their stomach, & their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things."
Then he goes on to say in Philippians 3:20-21,
"But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables Him to bring everything under His control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like His glorious body." C. Paul says, "You have a choice. You can focus on earthly things, or you can choose citizenship in heaven. You can allow your stomach to be your god, or you can worship the one, true God. Your destiny can be destruction, or it can be eternal life. And the choice is yours."
So the question this morning is "Which choice are we making?" The answer must be one or the other because we only have those two choices. We can choose either to make the focus of our life the world & the things in the world, or God & the things of God. We only have those two choices.
Think about those who focus on the things of the world. Paul says that these people have nothing to look forward to, for they are dying every day - dying in three ways.
A. First of all, they are dying physically. We're all dying physically. We know that. We look in the mirror & find another wrinkle or another gray hair, or feel another ache or pain. We know we are dying physically.
Do you remember Dick York? He used to co star with Elizabeth Montgomery in the old TV series, "Bewitched." He never became a big star in Hollywood, but he was a good, solid supporting actor, & made a decent living as an actor.
About 3 years before his death a news article was published with a picture of York, only 60 years old, but looking much older. Attached to an oxygen tank, he was suffering from emphysema & a wrenched spine which left him in constant pain, & virtually bedridden.
The article told of his decline into poverty. He had wasted all his money, & was living in a borrowed home and on welfare. In the article he was quoted as saying, "Blame it on heavy smoking. Blame it on over indulgence with drugs. Blame it on bad luck. Blame it on whatever you choose, but I'm the one who lost."
B. Not only are we dying physically, but we can also be dying spiritually. The Bible clearly teaches that there are moments in life when we are more sensitive to the things of God than at other times.
The Holy Spirit comes & offers the redemption that comes through Jesus Christ, the price that has been paid for our sins, and the eternal life that is available to us.
It is in those moments, when our spirit responds to God's Spirit that we have the opportunity to repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus.
But the Bible also says that if we let those moments pass, then the next time the opportunity comes it's easier to say "No" to His invitation. Again and again that happens, until finally, Paul says in Ephesians 4, we reach the point where we are no longer sensitive to God, and thus die spiritually.
Look around. We're living in a world that is dying spiritually. We're no longer shocked by the vulgarity that parades across our TV screens. We're not even repulsed by the immorality constantly being paraded before us.
Much of our nation is dying spiritually, drawing further and further away from God. In almost no public arena is God even given a hearing today.
C. Not only are we dying physically, & many are dying spiritually, but without Christ, we'll also die eternally. For the apostle Paul reminds us, "The wages of sin is death." (Romans 6:23)
We have failed to be like Paul who, with tears in his eyes, warned of the destruction that comes to a world outside of Christ, to those whose "minds are fixed on the things of the world, whose destiny is destruction, whose God is their stomach, & whose glory is their shame."
A. But then Paul says, "Our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ." (Philippians 3:20)
This is the Christ who said, "I have come to give you life, and that more abundantly." (John 10:10) Do you feel like you are living that abundant life today?
ILL. Over the years I have heard some young people say, "Man, that's really living!" And usually they are referring to indulgence in alcohol or drugs or sex. But they are deceiving themselves. They're not "living," they're dying.
ILL. A California executive has on his desk an object that looks like a miniature casket, with a button on its side.
When you push the button the casket starts buzzing. Then the lid opens, & a hand slowly comes out. It reaches over, pushes the button, & the buzzing stops. Then the hand goes back into the casket, & the lid closes. That's it - that's all it does.
I wonder how many are living like that - getting up in the morning, turning on the switch, going to work or whatever they do each day, then coming home, staring at the TV, going to bed, turning off the switch. Then the next day getting up & going through the same mon ot o nous routine.
Are they really living, or are they just going through the motions?
I believe that there is something more to life than that. There is a greater motivation for life than just getting up & going through the motions. There is a purpose, a goal, a vision that God wants us to catch.
There is a reason, a motivation behind life higher than anything that the world has to offer - something that will last for all eternity. And through Jesus Christ that abundant, wonderful, eternal life is offered to each of us.
ILL. Buzz Aldrin was the second man to set foot on the moon. In an interview a few years ago, he told of the deep depression he experienced once he returned to earth - a depression that finally led to a complete emotional breakdown.
When asked why this had happened, he said, "The only way I can explain it is that I trained intensely to get to the moon. That was the one consuming thing in my life - just to get there.
"I learned how to operate the space craft, and what I was supposed to do once I got there. I didn't think about anything else for months, for years of my life. Finally I got there. Finally I placed my feet on the surface of the moon. Then I came back, and there was nothing else to look forward to - nothing."
B. Abundant life goes beyond the physical, goes beyond our earthly life & brings us into the presence of God both now & forever. It will never end.
Jesus said to Martha, the sister of Lazarus, "I am the resurrection & the life. He who believes in Me will live, even though he dies..." (John 11:25)
What He was saying is, "If you believe in Me, even though you die, you never stop living. The moment you are absent from the body you are present with me."
Abundant life is eternal life. It is a citizenship in heaven. It will go on and on forever.
We have received a blessing this evening by being in God's house, singing to and praising the Lord together, and rejoicing in the victory that our faith makes available to us. And for a few moments we have tasted some of the joy of heaven.
But we haven't seen anything yet. That which is before us is so much greater. And God offers it to each and every one of us.
So the question this evening is, "What choices are you making about your life, and your relationship with Jesus?"
Are we just grabbing whatever you can get for the moment, and forgetting about everything else? Or are you looking for a better life, a greater life, an abundant life that will last forever?
CONC. We offer you the invitation of Jesus. It is offered in the spirit of love. It is offered as the greatest blessing that God has to give. "I am the way and the truth and the life," Jesus said. "If you gain the whole world and lose your soul, what have you gained?"
But if you can say, "I am a citizen of heaven," you do have it all, and you have even more than we even dare to imagine.
That is what is offered to you this evening. God offers you eternal life, citizenship in heaven, & we pray you'll respond to His invitation as we stand and sing.

Reference Sermon
Melvin Newland
January 2017


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