- Sermon Notes
A Life Worth Living
John 8:12 -15
January 1, 2023
Happy New Year everyone!
Story & Illustration – Ernest Hemingway
What a charmed life this guy lived? Well, not exactly.
- Hemingway was Married and Divorced four times.
- Had a lifelong habit of losing friends.
- Had a drinking problem that crippled his health and eventually ended his literary career.
- He struggled with depression and paranoia.
- July 2, 1961, he took out his shotgun and killed himself.
If career success, money, personal notoriety, exotic vacations, an abundance of friends, homes all over the world, a Pulitzer prize and a Nobel prize – – if all of this doesn’t make life worth living, then what does?
When we look in the Bible, God tells us there are four things we all need to live a life that’s worth living. Interestingly, these are four things that only a relationship with Jesus Christ can supply.
We want to talk about these and I hope that as we do, you’ll take a look at your own life.
During my early college days, and I recall them like yesterday, the challenges I was facing and the need to better understand life’s purpose for me. I thought I had arrived; on a baseball scholarship at the U of North Carolina. But a relationship back home and academic challenges brought on by my choosing left me with questions about life’s purpose.
Eventually, with the help of my now dear wife, Sherri, I ran into an incredible piece of information and it is my initial text for this evening.
John 8:12-15, Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.” So the Pharisees said to Him, “You are testifying about Yourself; Your testimony is not true.” Jesus answered and said to them, “Even if I testify about Myself, My testimony is true, for I know where I came from and where I am going; but you do not know where I come from or where I am going. You judge according to the flesh; I am not judging anyone.
I. An Abundant Life Over Darkness
#1 – We all need genuine meaning and purpose in life
In Shakespeare’s, Macbeth, they all lie, cheat and murder their way to the throne of Scotland.
- In the end, he said, “Life is a tale, told by an idiot full of sound and fury, but signifying, meaning nothing.”
When I gave my life to Jesus Christ, He gave me all the answers I needed about the meaning and purpose for my life, He gave me a reason for being alive, that stretches beyond this life, that stretches beyond the grave, that stretches into eternity.
Like you, my days are filled with challenges. However, I wake up every morning with eternal meaning to my life. Pastor Rich calls this spiritual joy, a far cry from one’s search for happiness. Are you in search of joy or happiness?
I maintain, that in order to live a life worth living, every human being needs this kind of eternal meaning in their life. But where in the world will you find such a life.
I’ve been around people of all walks of life, from severe poverty in Vietnam to the wealthy, from the USA to Asia, to Africa, to Australia.
The only place I’ve found a life worth living and observed it in others, is in a relationship with Jesus Christ.
#2 – We all need power over our passions
Did you know Shakespeare was an astute observer of human nature? In play after play, the dramatic plot, if you will, was this struggle of men and women against their own passions.
- Macbeth, Shylock, Othello, Romeo & Juliet, Hamlet
But in each of these pieces of literature, the constant message was the inability of people to master these self-destructive passions that live right inside of them. Which is why all these Plays were called, Tragedies.
Virtually anytime you want to look, you’ll find a story about a well-known person who uses poor judgement, their integrity lost, because of a passion living inside.
This is not just a struggle of the newsworthy. This is a struggle everyone of us has.
Everyday, what are these struggles? To live right, to act right, to talk right, to drive right and yes, to eat right.
We all know there’s passions in us that distract us. Where are you getting the power to resist these things?
John 8:34, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin.
John 8:36, “So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.”
The supernatural power promised to us from Jesus Christ is phenomenal, He promised to give this kind of power to His followers and He does.
How do we know this? I’ve done many things in my life, in my younger years…some of them fairly destructive, but here I am.
When Jesus Christ entered my life, all that changed. Am I without sin – O no! But, I am no longer a prisoner of those old passions.
He has given me the power to change and grow. The power to live a healthy functional life. And for you to live a functional life, you need that same power in your life. I believe you can only do so from the resurrected Christ.
II. God Promises Peace & Immortality
#3 – We need peace of mind
Nothing you or I can do guarantees we wake up tomorrow.
- The Brittanie Cecil story.
Our world is full of uncertainty. Two years ago people were celebrating the economy’s positive trajectory. Now, many of the retirement funds which protect wealth in this country aren’t doing so well. No doubt the cost of living is affecting everyone here.
Homes are filled with unexpected challenges. Parents are finding their voice needed more than ever in education. Little boys and girls are being told confusing things in the classroom relative to how God made them.
This world has more uncertainty in it than politicians have paper-shredders, if you know what I’m saying.
And the problem with this kind of uncertainty is that it robs us of peace of mind, it robs us of inner peace, it allows, as I say in counseling, the enemy to steal our joy. Why would you allow the enemy to win one day! Don’t allow it.
John 14:27, Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.
John 16:33, These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”
Jesus says the kind of peace I give you can’t be found in this world, because I give peace that transcends tragedy, peace that rises above pain, peace that flows triumphantly through any and every circumstance of life – the kind of peace that the Bible says,
Philippians 4:7, And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Would you say, “I want every part of the gift that He has given?” May this new year be a year of revival. Pastor Rich says, may we experience the depths of spiritual increase in our hearts.
Jesus says you will not find this kind of peace in this world, it’s my peace Jesus said, and He’s willing to share it with you if you are willing to let Him be a part of your life.
#4 – We need the assurance of immortality.
There’s this gravestone and the inscription on the gravestone goes like this.
- “Here lies an atheist, all dressed up and no place to go.”
That would actually be hysterical if it wasn’t so tragic? Can you imagine facing death and you have no idea what’s going to happen to you, you have no sense of what comes next?
And then there’s the agnostics, meaning, God is unproven, heaven doesn’t exist, there’s nothing after the grave.
The man who coined this word was Thomas Huxley, a friend of Darwin. But his own agnosticism scared him to death.
He said, “When I think that within 50-years I will be as if I have never been, the thought terrifies me. I would rather exist, even if it be in hell.”
- It’s too bad he didn’t spend a part of his life reading and believing the very Bible he spent his entire life trying to destroy.
- The answer to his terror was right in front of him, in the Bible. It remains in front of you as well. Rejecting it today doesn’t change the truths that are in it. Doesn’t change we all choose our landing pad; heaven or hell the Bible says.
I lost both my dad and my younger sister this past year. Both knew exactly where they were going. My dad knew it was any time. My sister prayed for more time, yet trusted God with His plan for her days.
John 3:36, He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”
John 11:25-26, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?”
What proof does Jesus give to back up this offer of His. He rose from the grave to show the power of His father and that same power was given to Him to back up these promises.
Jesus not only claimed to rise again, He did it. The reason He did it was so you and I could know this side of the grave, we could know before we die, which way to God actually gets you there.
I’m sure you’ve heard it said, follow a dead savior and you’ll end up just like him, but follow the risen, living Messiah and guess what, you’ll end up just like Him.
Dwight L Moody story.
How’d you like to face the grave with the kind of assurance Moody speaks of? Where are you going to get this type of assurance? From Buddha, from Mohammad – they are still in the grave.
You let it from the one who rose from the grave and said, I am the resurrection, I am the life and if you want life after the grave you can have it, but you only get it from me because I am the life and the resurrection. That’s where you get that kind of assurance.
In order to live a life that’s worth living, we need this kind of assurance in our life. Only Jesus Christ can give it to you.
If you are here today and you’ve already trusted Jesus in a real and personal way, if you already know Christ, I hope you walk into 2023 simply reminded of all God has done in your life.
Be encouraged and lifted up.
Now if you are here and you’ve never trusted Christ like that and you are tired of trying to get these four things on your own. All you have to do is open up your heart and life and invite Him in and let Him become part of your life.
We’re going to give you that chance today.
John 8:12 -15 NASB
12 When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
13 The Pharisees challenged him, “Here you are, appearing as your own witness; your testimony is not valid.”
14 Jesus answered, “Even if I testify on my own behalf, my testimony is valid, for I know where I came from and where I am going. But you have no idea where I come from or where I am going. 15 You judge by human standards; I pass judgment on no one.