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Dr. Ray Pritchard Christian Blog and Commentary

Dr. Ray Pritchard

Author, Speaker, President of Keep Believing Ministries

We have put together a page with 25 Thanksgiving sermons. ou are welcome to use this material in any way that might be helpful to you as you prepare sermons and Bible studies or simply to increase your own gratitude to the Lord for all his blessings.

Choices

We have heard it said many times that our choices matter. We know this is true because all of life is shaped by the choices we make. We make our choices and our choices turn around and make us.

As I ponder the situation, I realize that at the age of 61, I am nothing more than the sum total of all the choices I have made over all the years of my life. I am what I am, where I am, doing what I do, as a result of thousands of choices made over a long period of time. For instance, I was a college junior in Chattanooga, Tennessee when I began to notice this pretty girl on campus who I thought I’d like to meet, but I couldn’t think of how to do it because she was the secretary to the chairman of the Music Department, and I rarely went in that building. I don’t exactly remember how we met or what I said. We had our first date to a Valentine’s Banquet, then we went on a picnic double-date with Tom and Fay Phillips (who were dating but not yet engaged at that point). One thing led to another, and not long ago we celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary.We make our choices and our choices turn around and make us

Choices.
So important.
So crucial.

We make our choices and our choices turn around and make us.

Because our choices matter, the Bible speaks of them often. Near the end of his life Moses challenged his people this way:

"This 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" (Deuteronomy 30:19).

As Joshua was an old man and nearing death, he reminded the people of Israel about what God had done for them. Then he exhorted them with these words:

"But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD" (Joshua 24:15).

Many years later Elijah stood atop Mount Carmel and addressed the people of Israel this way:

“How long will you waver between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him” (1 Kings 18:21).

Psalm 1:6 shows us the end result of the ultimate choice:

“For the LORD watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish” (Psalm 1:6).

Then we have these familiar words from Solomon:

“There is a way that seems right to a man but its end is the way to death” (Proverbs 14:12).

Finally we can add this solemn warning from the Lord Jesus Christ:

“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few” (Matthew 7:13-14).

Every person is on a journey that leads to life or death. Jesus calls it a “way.”

One “way” is wide and easy.
The other “way” is narrow and hard.
Many take the easy way.
Only a few take the hard way.

Jesus is saying to all of us today,

“Make sure you are on the right road. You don’t want to end up in a place you never wanted to be.”

That brings me back to where I began. Our choices really do matter. We make our choices and our choices turn around and make us. Never is this more important than when hard times come and life seems to move against us. When trouble comes, you find out very quickly what you really believe.

That’s what is happening to Habakkuk.

He is finding out what he really believes.
Now God is bringing him face to face with the choice he must make.

You can read the rest of the sermon online.

You can reach the author at ray@keepbelieving.com. Click here to sign up for the free email sermon.

In this message we need to hold two texts together because one is the key to the other. Let’s start with the words of Paul in Romans 1:17:

For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”

Note the last part of that verse where Paul says, “Just as it is written.” That means he is quoting the Old Testament. Where did he find the phrase, “The righteous will live by faith”? It comes from Habakkuk 2:4.

“Behold, his soul is puffed up; it is not upright within him, but the righteous shall live by his faith.

Everyone agrees that this is the central verse of Habakkuk. It is certainly one of the most crucial verses in the Bible. Here is a verse so important that it takes three New Testament books to explain it. The phrase “the just shall live by faith” is quoted in Romans 1:17, Galatians 3:11, and Hebrews 10:38.

This is the text that changed the world

This is the text that changed the world. It first changed a man, and that man changed the world. Most of us know the story of Martin Luther, at one time an obscure Roman Catholic monk, who entered the monastery seeking to be set free from the heavy burden of guilt he felt because of his sin. Though he was an obedient son of the church, he found no rest for his soul in prayer and fasting and penance. His eyes were opened by God when he studied the epistle to the Romans. As he came to Romans 1:17, he pondered the meaning of the quotation from Habakkuk 2:4. Reflecting back on what this text meant in his life, Luther offered this testimony:

When by the Spirit of God, I understood these words—"The just shall live by faith"—then I felt born again like a new man. I entered through the open doors into the very paradise of God.

When Martin Luther found this text—or more accurately—when this text found him, it turned his life upside down. No longer was he willing to remain a simple monk at the monastery in Erfurt. Once the blazing truth of justification by faith gripped his soul, he ignited a fire that eventually spread throughout Europe and eventually to the ends of the earth.

You can read the rest of the sermon online.

You can reach the author at ray@keepbelieving.com. Click here to sign up for the free email sermon.

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