“Choose Life! - Celebrate at the Table”

 

Sermon Text: Deuteronomy 30

Matthew 28   

Date: April 1, 2018; Easter Morning Message 

 

Life is full of choices. We make dozens, even hundreds, thousands of choices every day. In an important sense, choice is a fundamental part of what it means to be creatures made in God’s image. Just as God makes choices – so too as those created in God’s Image – we make choices.

But tragically we human beings don’t have a great track record when it comes to making choices and  sadly we often make the wrong choice – choices that often have devastating consequences.

Today in Deuteronomy 30 God through Moses encourages us to choose wisely by Choosing Life – and the power for life can ONLY BE FOUND IN GOD HIMSELF and ultimately in coming of Jesus Christ – God’s Only Son who conquered SIN and DEATH on the cross and leads us into NEW LIFE – an ENRICHED AND ETERNAL LIFE that we celebrate at the Table of the Lord’s Supper.

Deut.30. 6The Lord your God will circumcise your hearts and the hearts of your descendants, so that you may love him with all your heart and with all your soul, and live7The Lord your God will put all these curses on your enemies who hate and persecute you. 8You will again obey the Lord and follow all his commands I am giving you today. 9Then the Lord your God will make you most prosperous in all the work of your hands and in the fruit of your womb, the young of your livestock and the crops of your land. The Lord will again delight in you and make you prosperous, just as he delighted in your ancestors, 10if you obey the Lord your God and keep his commands and decrees that are written in this Book of the Law and turn to the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.

11Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach. 12It is not up in heaven, so that you have to ask, “Who will ascend into heaven to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?” 13Nor is it beyond the sea, so that you have to ask, “Who will cross the sea to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?” 14No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it.

15See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. 16For I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess.

17But if your heart turns away and you are not obedient, and if you are drawn away to bow down to other gods and worship them, 18I declare to you this day that you will certainly be destroyed. You will not live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess.

19This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live 20and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.”

So God encourages His children to CHOOSE LIFE!

VERSE 19This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live 20and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life,”

Sometimes we like to fool ourselves into believing that we don’t have a choice in order to deflect responsibility and so what do we do – We play the blame game! We blame others for our faults or we blame the circumstances. Back in Genesis 3 - When God asked Adam very clearly directly – “Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not eat from?” Adam deflects the responsibility of his CHOICE and says, “The woman you put here with me – she gave me some of the fruit and I ate it.” Almost like –“It’s that woman God – YOU put her here with me! Everything was fine until she showed up. Who knew it was from that tree?”

When things go well we want credit for our choices but when things go wrong we like to distance ourselves from any responsibility – that it was almost as if we were forced or manipulated into making the choice we did.

We say, “That box of donuts was just sitting there – I didn’t know it was yours!” / “Officer I didn’t know I was going that fast – that hill is so steep I couldn’t help but speed up” / “I didn’t mean to hit mail box dad but I do think you put it a little too close to the driveway”/ “Sorry I’m so cranky today – I guess I’m just tired.”

We need to realize first of all that we have a REAL CHOICE on how we can behave. And all of our choices have consequences and we need to take full responsibility for those consequences.

Unfortunately – as members of the fallen human race – we often make unhealthy choices – choices that ultimately lead to death and destruction instead of choices that lead to fuller life and greater fruitfulness.

Again -  this tragic tendency goes all the way back to our first parents – when Adam and Eve chose to disobey God and ate the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil even though God had given them freedom to eat from any tree on the whole earth – except for that one. And God had clearly warned them from the very beginning - not to eat that fruit saying, “When you eat of it you will surely die.”

So rather than trust their Creator’s word – Adam and Eve chose to rebel against God’s rule and instead chose to put themselves in charge. Even they had free reign to eat from ANY OTHER TREE they chose to eat of the ONE TREE God had forbidden them to eat from. And sadly we still see traces of that willfulness in each of us today.

For instance I think we’d all admit that if we’re just about to do something – say put our dishes away in the sink and our parents or our spouse just before that moment of action tells us to put our dishes away – suddenly we don’t want to do it as much. “Oh you’re telling me I need to put my dishes away?” And so the very fact that someone is telling us what to do – offends our pride and suddenly we want to do JUST THE OPPOSITE – just to SHOW that we make our OWN CHOICES – just to show that we are the one who determines our own destiny – we are the Captain of our OWN SHIP – NO BODY TELLS ME WHAT TO DO! Even something good – Your mom tells you “Son go ahead and Eat your ice cream before it melts!” “Oh you want me to eat my ice cream – yeah well - I’m just gonna let it melt now.”

Sadly Adam and Eve’s tragic CHOICE – set the course for the rest of humanity and now unless we make an effort to Change our thinking and repent of our Self-Centered Choices – we too will simply follow the path of rebellion against God’s rule and set ourselves up as our own god.

And so God’s Word to His Children the Israelites and to us today through Moses is - CHOOSE LIFE!

Israel stands on the brink of the promised  land and in Deuteronomy Moses is giving a series of sermons to the Israelites before he dies. Moses is not being permitted to enter into the promised land due to an earlier failure in leadership. But doesn’t complain or seek to explain away his earlier actions but HE FULLY accepts the consequences of his actions. So NOW by the Lord’s command -  Joshua will lead them into the promised land and so Moses is trying to convey his Last and Best Advice and Teaching!

 So Moses tells them - YOU MUST CHOOSE Life – which means following God, the Author of Life – not just when it’s easy and feels natural – but even when it is hard and feels awkward and unnatural and the price is High.

We may think – well that seems obvious – of course I would choose life. But sadly our minds are often so full of worldly thinking – that LIFE is just about seeking pleasure and comfort and our hearts are so corrupted by self-interest that choosing the Way of Life/ The way of God – is not often the obvious choice and so we must constantly train our minds to filter out worldly thinking using the wisdom of God’s Word as our guide.

Yet we also sometimes think that it’s just to HARD to follow God’s word but he says in VERSE 11:11Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach. 12It is not up in heaven, so that you have to ask, “Who will ascend into heaven to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?” 13Nor is it beyond the sea, so that you have to ask, “Who will cross the sea to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?” 14No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it.”

The WORD IS NEAR YOU!!  IT is IN YOUR MOUTH AND IN YOUR HEART!

But we think – But I’m so weak and so incapable to living up to God’s standard of Holiness and some people look at Law of God and just give up! So Where is the Hope for us sinners – trapped in a web of Sin and Selfishness – of Self-Absorption – all of our own making.

Our Only Hope of being the people God calls us to be – to be loving and forgiving and full of grace and peace and patience and kindness and compassion – Lies NOT IN OURSELVES – BUT IN GOD’s WORK IN US THROUGH THE POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. And the clue to this lies back in VERSE 6:  6The Lord your God will circumcise your hearts and the hearts of your descendants, so that you may love him with all your heart and with all your soul, and live.”

WE have HOPE BECAUSE IT IS GOD WHO CIRCUMCISES OUR HEARTS!

To circumcise literally means to CUT AWAY something and so when God circumcises our Hearts – He cuts AWAY THE OLD, DEAD AND DECAYING parts of ourselves – the Sin and selfishness AND GIVES US A BRAND NEW HEART!

St. Paul tells the Colossians: Ch. 2.10and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority. 11In him you were also circumcised with a circumcision not performed by human hands. Your whole self ruled by the flesh was put off when you were circumcised by Christ,12having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead. 13When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, 14having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross.”

God KNOWS that we are WEAK and that OUR WILLS often fail us – we fail to do the GOOD we want to do. But thanks be to God – HIS POWER works in us when we TRUST IN JESUS AND HIM CRUCIFIED.

TODAY is the Day of Salvation! None of us are promised tomorrow!!

TO CHOOSE LIFE MEANS What?

VERSE “15See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. 16For I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess.

 So it’s very clear in God’s eyes – once path leads to life and prosperity and the other path leads to death and destruction – but unfortunately the course of those paths is not usually so clear to us.

But Moses says that the path of pursuing LIFE means:

1)     To Love the LORD your God

2)     To walk in His ways

3)     Keep His commands

VERSE 19 – Climax - 19This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live 20and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life.”

To choose to Love and Obey God is to Choose LIFE!!

Not just earthly life – which decays and dies – but eternal life through the power of Jesus’ Resurrection!

 

The Good news of Easter is that Jesus is Risen. The news was first announced to the women who had gone to the tomb of Jesus to finish anointing his body – but when they arrived at the tomb it was empty and an angel appeared to the women and said,”5 “…Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. 6He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. 7Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”

8So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. 9Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. 10Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”

Friends the Risen Jesus greets you today as well!

He comes to you even as you are surrounded by the darkness of sin and dread of death. But in Jesus there is no need to fear because He has overcome that darkness by the power of His light.

So Choose Life by clinging to Jesus! Hold fast to Him! For Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life. And that Life can be yours if you will only trust in Him and be fed at His Table.

 


 

August 21, 2018

 

Men's Breakfast

Each Tuesday at 7 a.m. at The Tank in Atkins, VA

 

Prayer Meeting

Every Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. in the Conference Room 

 

Youth Resumes on August 22

 6:15 p.m. Middle School Youth

7:35 p.m. Senior High Youth

in the Youth Center 

 

A Service Dog for J 5K

Saturday, September 8

Start & finish at Royal Oak

Check out the link on our website under News for more information and to register for the race.

 

Picnic at the Park

Wednesday, September 12

6:00 - 7:30 p.m. at the beach picnic tables at Hungry Mother State Park 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



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