James 4:14 A View of Life On February 5, 1986, The Green Pond Baptist Church invited my family to pastor this church. Thirty years is a long time. For some, 30 years is a segment of life called a career, from some it is a segment called marriage, for some it is a whole life time. It is rare today for people to spend 30 years doing any one thing; but doing so can give some wisdom, some understanding, some perspective that others may not have. Let me share my Biblical perspective on life. I. Life is our choice. A. When I first had that thought, I wrote it "life is A choice." but it is more than that. Life is OUR Choice. 1. God has granted to each of us freedom and free will. We determine our own destiny. 2. Each of us makes of our life what we wish by the decisions we make. a. Every choice—the little ones and the big ones— either sets us on a direction or moves us further down a pathway. b. I have learned that the godly choices I select are always the best choices. B. There are many things in life we can not choose. 1. We can not choose when we were born. 2. We can not choose who our parents are. 3. We can not choose our race, basic abilities, or our gender. C. However, there is much in life we can choose. 1. We can choose to live THIS LIFE. a. Life is a gift from God. Ecc 3:11 He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end. Ecc 5:18 Behold that which I have seen: it is good and comely for one to eat and to drink, and to enjoy the good of all his labour that he taketh under the sun all the days of his life, which God giveth him: for it is his portion. b. Too many are wasting the gift of life. (1) In 2005, there were 32,637 suicides nationally (over 1%). (2) highest age group was the elderly - 5,404 (14.7%) (3) next was youth - 4,212 (10%) (4) White men attempt suicide more than any race/ gender group — 23,478 (71.3%) (5) Over 52% of all suicide attempts are with firearms (6) You do not want the period at the end of your life to be that you took it. http://www.suicide.org/suicide-statistics.html#2005 c. Some are indirectly killing themselves (1) drug abuse - DEA estimates as many as 12.7 million people in the US used illegal drugs in the last month. (2) 30 to 40 million in the last year (3) There are two problems with that figure: (a) The survey was done by a telephone meaning participants had to have a phone, answer the phone, and tell the truth. http://www.druglibrary.org/Schaffer/LIBRARY/basicfax2.htm (b) That does not count the Elvis Presleys or the Michael Jacksons who are finding ways to get "legal" drugs. d. Some are slowly killing themselves - Alcohol, cigarettes, and other risky lifestyles are accomplishing about the same thing (i.e. premature death). 2. We can choose to live ETERNALLY. a. The best day of my earthly life is when I chose to start living for eternity. (1) The greatest day in my life was the day I chose Jesus as my Savior. (2) It was a choice for me. God was drawing me, but I was resisting. (3) I could have said no, but I am glad I did not! b. Somehow there is a notion that I can either live for Jesus or have fun. (1) I am here to tell you that living for Jesus is fun. (2) Christians are NOT loosing out. Don’t give me this poor, poor Christian routine. I know it is a lie. I have seen people live with Jesus and without and the ones who have the least regrets and the most happiness are always the Christians. (3) Christians have peace, power, purpose in their lives and they get to have REAL FUN. (4) The Christians’ fun has no regrets, no hangover, no addictions, no lies to remember, no children left abandoned, no mates left betrayed, no axes to grind, no revenge to seek, and no chains that need to be broken. (5) It all begins with choosing Christ. c. However, choosing Christ was just the beginning of my life in Christ. (1) The second greatest day of my life was choosing to date and marry my wife. She and her family have been the second greatest Christian impact in my life. (2) The third greatest day of my life was having our children. Having young eyes and hearts in our home forced me to have a genuine Christian walk with Jesus. (3) The fourth greatest day of my life was being called and staying at Green Pond Baptist all these years. That calling has forced me to face my mistakes and failures for I have no place to run and hide. d. Having chosen Christ, we can choose to enjoy BOTH LIVES and to get the most of BOTH. 4. There is no conflict between having God’s best and the 3. I speak this to both the saved and the lost. 1. Life is a gift. 2. Get Christ and then get most out of both lives. 3. How can this be done? II. Life is just a lay-over on the road to eternity. A. This one tenet will do more to shape your earthly existence that all other beliefs combined. 1. Life is not all there is. 2. If you believe that this world is all there is, you SHOULD live it without restraint in any manner that you deem appropriate. a. There is little reason to consider others. b. There is no reason to consider eternity. c. There is no reason not to get everything you can in life as fast as you can and to get by whatever means you can. 3. That is what the godless do and understandably so. B. However, if you believe this life is not the whole journey but a stop on the road to eternity, you will have a completely different perspective. 1. You will have a different perspective about Jesus. a. Jesus makes the destination heaven. b. You will trust Jesus Christ as your Savior. 2. You will have a different perspective about your goals. a. Christians are not living this life merely for today. We are living it for eternity. b. The things that the world is seeking, Christians are waiting for the best of it in heaven. (1) Our nicest things (2) Our greatest wealth (3) Our highest recognition (4) Our highest position (5) Our greatest happiness 3. You will have a different perspective about how to live your life. a. Christians are looking for something different in this life. (1) They look for pleasure. We look for peace. (2) They look for fun. We look for forgiveness. (3) They look for enjoyment. We look for joy. (4) They look for the carnal. We look for the spiritual. (5) They desire freedom to sin. We desire freedom from sin. (6) They are stuck in the present. We look to the future. b. We have found that by doing so, this life is better. (1) That does not mean, "Poor Christians." Christians are not to be pitied, for we are getting the best of two worlds. (2) I heard Richard Dawkins, popular atheist and scientist, make the statement that, even though he did not believe in God and Christianity, he understood why people wanted to. He could see where our beliefs in forgiveness, eternal life, and so forth would make you "feel" good. III. Life is an opportunity. A. Of course, life itself is filled with opportunities. 1. That is one reason why I told you at the beginning of this message to live it. 2. As an American, you have access to some of the best this world has to offer. a. education b. comforts c. opportunities d. resources B. However, life IS an opportunity for you to either score big in eternity or to loose everything. 1. Saved people have the opportunity to use their life to impress God. Matt 25:14 For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods. 15 And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey. 16 Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents. 17 And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two. 18 But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord’s money. 19 After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them. 20 And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more. 21 His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. 22 He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them. 23 His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. a. The first two servants used what they had while they had to make an impression on their master. b. As a result, the master promoted them to some task commensurate with their abilities and drive. c. However, the servant who wasted his opportunity, lost everything. Matt 25:24 Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed: 25 And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine. 26 His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed: 27 Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury. 28 Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents. d. Lost people are certainly wasting their opportunity but so are many saved people. (1) Don’t live your life like there is no eternity if that’s not what you believe. (2) There are all kinds of opportunities available to you. (a) There are lost souls who need to be told. (b) There are saved people who need to be trained. (c) There are hurting people who need to be helped. (d) There are mission projects both within and outside of the United States. Some last for a week, some for a month, and some you could spend the remainder of your life on. (e) Just in our area, there is every kind of need you can imagine… i. There are cities with thousands of people within one-half hour’s driving distance to the north, south, east, and west of us. ii. Are you a compassionate person? We have some of the best hospitals in the nation right around us. iii. Do you want to work with foreigners? Between Birmingham and Atlanta, you probably have 1/3 of the world’s nationalities represented. iv. Do you want to work with the military? We have an Air Force base in Montgomery and a Navy base in Pensacola. (3) Do something big and lasting for Christ! 2. You may get away with complaining about your lot in this life—your lack of talent, your lack of connections, the bad breaks you had—because you didn’t get to choose many of the factors in your life. 3. However, you are deciding everything about your eternity. a. Where you will spend it. b. What you will do there. c. Even what position you will have. 4. And here is the clincher, you know it! IV. Life is as short as a vapor. A. That is the truth that our text is giving to us about life. B. The point is that you and I can not count on life lasting. 1. There are a lot of unexpected funerals going on this weekend. 2. There are a lot of people complaining about going to work on Monday who will not be going. C. What is the point? Do with your life what you plan to do! Ephesians 5:16 Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. 1. I have already issued the challenge not to waste your life in idleness. 2. If you have spent your whole life dreaming about what you are going to do and have not done anything with it, you’re stuck in neutral and need to get it into gear. V. Life ends in a judgment. A. If death is not the end of the road we are on, what is? B. The answer is that every human being will one day stand before God. Rev 20:11 And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. 12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. 13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. 14 And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. 15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.
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