Hi this is Pastor Ken and these are my thoughts on a Thursday…Choosing Life
In past episodes of this podcast I have occasionally shared lessons I learned from experiencing cancer. I say that I experienced cancer because the disease did not cause me all of the pain and difficulty I have witnessed it cause others. Lynn and I have a dear friend who is at this moment battling cancer in a way I never had to, she is literally fighting for her life. When you pray today…please pray for Leasa and her family. As I said, the fight I had with cancer was not as intense as hers and others have been, so I feel it unfair for me to categorize my struggle with theirs.
Unfortunately, my cancer was not discovered until it had already engulfed my prostate. The cancer had a rather aggressive nature and according to my doctors should really only be treated by a complete removal of the affected organ. Other treatments were discussed but only as options for those where the cancer was less aggressive or the disease had not progressed to the extent mine had. Though each alternative treatment was explained, it was made abundantly clear to us that surgery was really the only way to go…if I wanted to live.
With that information in mind, my wife Lynn and I made one of the easiest, weighty decisions we ever have…I would have the surgery. It was weighty because any decision to have an organ removed, even a diseased one, should come only after a healthy dose of consideration. It was easy because choosing to keep the cancerous organ, would lead to death, while choosing to have it removed, would lead to life. When given the opportunity to choose life…choose life!
I have been spending some time reading in the book of James lately in my personal time with the Lord. In James 1:12-17 it says this in the New King James Version: 12 Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. 13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. 14 But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. 15 Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death. 16 Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. 17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.
The spiritual decision before all of us is really no different than the one Lynn and I faced in that hospital room. To make one choice will lead to death, to choose the other will result in life…abundant life.
We are all tempted from time to time. In our current state, we are still subject to being called out to by our own evil selfish desires. We may even know that certain things are not good for us…and yet we can sometimes crave those very things. We can be fully aware that to act in one way toward another would be godly and selfless but still struggle to not look out for number one. We can, as James goes on to write about later say that we love God and even sing aloud his praises flowing into our cars via the Christian radio station…and then curse His creation out of the other side of our mouths when we get cut off in traffic. Examples abound, though I don’t think it necessary to name each one here. The fact of the matter is that when we are faced with those choices and others, it is a life and death decision. Don’t misunderstand. I am not saying that a Christ follower who momentarily exercises poor judgement is in danger of hell-fire. What I am saying is that when given choices like those I mentioned a moment ago, we are making a choice bigger than the particulars of the one at hand.
According to James, if we endure the temptations and make the right choices, the loving, selfless ones, we are blessed, become approved and can look forward to the gift of life, promised to those who love God. He goes on to say that we should understand where the choices come from in the first place. God does not implant in us a longing to do the wrong thing, it would go against His righteous nature. Temptations come from our own selfish desires, and if we give into those cravings, they become sin in our lives. Practicing sin, or in other words, making sinful action a regular and accepted way of life for us, brings death if it is not dealt with. We are all born in a fallen state, and that means we have a sin-nature that has to be controlled. Thank God He has provided the Holy Spirit who offers the ability to apply self-control to our sin nature.
When James says that every good gift, and every perfect gift comes from the Father, he is reminding us that God is good and therefore only offers to us what is good. In fact, He gave us the perfect gift, Jesus, who as the Lamb of God was the only sacrifice sufficient to forgive us of and erase the record of our sinfulness. James wanted us to know that this good, good Father never changes His position, He always loves us and always wants to give us everything we need to be able to choose life.
God is life. Choosing God’s Son, Jesus as Lord and Savior is the only choice that can bring life by eradicating and curing the cancerous sinful condition we all suffer from. James said it and I’ll say it again. When given the opportunity to choose life…choose life!
So now, choosing to live for Jesus because He died for you to cure your sin sickness…Go be awesome!