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James Merritt - As God Sees Fit

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    James Merritt - As God Sees Fit
TOPICS: From Here To Eternity

Let me kind of prepare you for the message today, it's gonna be different. Normally I give kind of a brief introduction and then we get right into the major points I want you to learn. We're not gonna do that today, and you'll see why. Today, I want to walk you through a story, and you need to pay attention. You need to stay close, because the story gets involved. Now, the bad news is my point's come at the very end, the good news though, it's very short. So don't be alarmed, 'cause some of you're gonna be going, "Gosh, we're still in the introduction and I got lunch".

So, don't worry, we'll get there. But I want you to pay attention. For thousands of years, the greatest philosophers, and thinkers and teachers have constantly said there are four huge questions that we all struggle with. First is the question of origin. Who am I? And how did I get here? And then there's the question of meaning. Why am I here? And what is my purpose in life? Then as you get older, you begin to think more about the question of destiny. Where do I go after I die? But then there's another question, and it's the one I wanna deal with today, that's the question of morality. What is right and what is wrong? And how can I tell the difference between right and wrong? And by the way, who makes the call? Who decides what's right and what's wrong? And by the way, why do we feel like there are certain things we ought to do and yet we feel like there are certain things we ought not to do? Where does that ought come from? How is that even generated in the way that we think?

Now, I'm gonna be very honest, the majority perspective in our country and for much of the world is found in a statement by an atheist from Canada who, although I don't agree with his atheism, what he said hits the, I mean, it really nails where we are as a country, where we are as a culture, and where many people even are in the church. Listen to what he said, "I've been told that without God there could be no morals, and that as an atheist, I can have no morals. I disagree. I believe in love, hope, honor, loyalty, honesty, trust, respect. Those things don't come from God. They come from within and from human interaction. If you need God to tell you what is right and what is wrong and you can't figure it out on your own, then maybe you are a part of the problem".

So he would say about a guy like me, for example, you're part of the problem, because you would be. You're telling me apart from God, you can't tell what's right and wrong. And I would say to that man, "Oh, it's worse than that, neither can you". Because this atheist has indeed put the question squarely in front of us, and this is the question. Can you have objective, not subjective? Can you have objective morality without God? Here's where we're gonna get into the weeds now, all right. So I want you to take your Bibles and I want you to turn to a book in the Bible called Judges. All right. There's a book in the Bible called Judges. So Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth. Joshua shouldn't judge Ruth. That's just what Joshua does. But Joshua, Judges, Ruth.

All right, I want you to turn to Judges 19. This is a story that tells us exactly what happens when you decide to take an approach, we don't need God to tell us what is right and what is wrong. You're gonna see this played out in this story. Now let me just stop right here. Let me tell you. If this story was put into a movie the way it happened, it would be X rated. If there are children in this room, I'm gonna tell you, and I don't think it's wrong to tell children Bible stories, but it's not for the faint of heart. It takes place in the nation of Israel. Here's what's going on. There is no king, there is no central government like we have. There is no constitution, there are just 12 tribes. And every tribe is functioning as a separate nation. They've got their own jurisdiction, they've got their own laws.

Now, let me back up. They did have a king, God. They did have a law, the 10 Commandments, but they had discarded God and disobeyed the law. So now we're gonna pick up the story in Judges 19. Now please remember, we're gonna go quickly, but stay with me. It's a very intricate story, but it's a story that is just mind boggling. We start in verse one. "In those days when there was no king in Israel," that's important. "A certain Levite was sojourning in the remote parts of the hill country of Ephraim, who took to himself a concubine from Bethlehem in Judah. His concubine was unfaithful to him. She went away from him to her father's house at Bethlehem in Judah, and there were some four months. Then her husband arose and went after her to speak kindly to her and bring her back. He had with him his servant and a couple of donkeys. She brought him into his father's house. And when the girl's father saw him, he came with joy to meet him".

Now, strange story, here is a Levite. That means he was a priest. He was a man of the cloth. He was supposed to be a man of God. He was supposed to be a preacher of the Word of God, but he wasn't any of those things. He was a wicked man. He had a concubine. What was a concubine? That was what we would call today a legalized mistress, that was kind of a woman on the side. Now, she was not a wife legally, but she performed all the duties of a wife. Now, God allowed this. He never encouraged it. He never confirmed it. He never approved it, but He allowed it. But this concubine in effect, now becomes an adulterous. She has an affair with someone else. She cheats on her master. To escape her husband's vengeance, she goes to her father's house in Bethlehem. Four months go by, the Levite starts missing the concubine. He decides he wants to go after her.

Now, here's the strange thing. Her dad doesn't even seem to care that she's a concubine. He doesn't even seem to care she's committed adultery. He sees his son-in-law and they party up for a few days. Well, then the son-in-law decides that he's gonna take her back home. Well, they leave Bethlehem, but I'm getting ahead in the story, so just kind of bear with me. They leave Bethlehem and they're gonna spend the night in Jerusalem, which is just a few miles away, but it was close to dark. Well, the master bought his servant with him and his servant said, "You know, I don't think it's a good idea we spend the night here, because the Jebusites have taken over the Jerusalem. It's now a Gentile city. You're an Israelite. I don't think we'll be safe here. We need to go someplace else".

So they go to a town called Gibeah, G-I-B-E-A-H. When they get to Gibeah, they go to the city square and they sit down. Now, why do they do that? Because back in that day, if you went to a city and you didn't have a place to stay, there were no Motel 6's. There were no Holiday Inn Express'. So if you went to a city, had no place to stay, you would go into the middle of the city square and you would just sit. Why would you do that? Because back in that day, they had what was called the Mideast Law of Hospitality. So if you went into the city square and you saw somebody sitting there, you are obligated to take them into your home. You were obligated to take them, feed them, give them a place to sleep.

Well, the problem was Gibeah was full of, let's just say less than nice people, and nobody took them in, nobody. But then they finally meet this old man. He's not even from Gibeah, he's from Ephraim, and he takes them into his home. Now, up to this point, this is kind of a PG 13 story, okay, no issues. But now, children ought to cover their eyes and cover their ears. So, here we go. Verse 22, "As they were making their hearts merry, behold, the men of the city, worthless fellas, surrounded the house, beating on the door. And they said to the old man, the master of the house, 'Bring out the man who came into your house, that we may know him.'"

So in other words, they want to commit literally, homosexual rape on this man. "And the man, the master of the house, went out to them and said to them, 'No, my brothers, do not act so wickedly. Since this man has come into my house, do not do this vile thing.'" Now, right now, you think this guy, boy, what a standup guy. What a hero this guy is. Keep reading. "'Behold, here are my virgin daughter and his concubine. Let me bring them out now. Violate them and do with them what seems good to you. But against this man, do not do this outrageous thing.' But the men would not listen to him. So the man seized his concubine, made her go out to them, and they knew her and abused her all night until the morning. And as the dawn began to break, they let her go".

Now even in 2023, that's a pretty hard story. And it's not a matter of she said, he said, and there's really not a whole lot to add to it. I mean, it is. This is one of the most vile, wicked scenes you'll read in all of the Bible. You say, "Good gosh, this is terrible". Oh, it gets worse. Verse 26, "And as morning appeared, the woman came and fell down at the door of the man's house where her master was, until it was light. And her master rose up in the morning, and when he opened the doors of the house and went out to go on his way, behold, there was his concubine lying at the door of the house with her hands on the threshold". He said to her, not, "Are you all right? I'm sorry this happened. It's all my fault". No, no, no, no. "'Get up, let's get going.' But there was no answer. Then he put her on the donkey, and the man rose up and went away to his home".

So you got this man of the cloth, you got this Levite, you got this priest, you got this guy that you would bet your money. This guy will do the right thing. He knows God. He knows the Word of God. No. He is a gutless, spineless coward, who sleeps through the night while his concubine is out being raped and abused. And when he finds her lying at the door, he simply tells her, "Get up". Doesn't even realize that he's dead. Now he realizes it, as you're gonna find out in the story. We don't have time to read it. The man gets angry, not over her abuse, he doesn't worry about that, but because he no longer has the concubine. So he wants revenge, but he can't take revenge by himself, because all hospitality has been violated. His concubine has been raped and murdered. Justice has to be done. Revenge must be taken.

So, he says, "You know what, I need help. I need a posse. I need somebody to help me take revenge on what's happened to me". So, to make sure that all of his fellow Israelites throughout the land will back him up, watch what he does, verse 29. "When he entered his house, he took a knife, and taking hold of his concubine, he divided her limb by limb, into 12 pieces, and sent her throughout all the territory of Israel. And all who saw it said, 'Such a thing has never happened or been seen from the day that the people of Israel came up out of the land of Egypt until this day; consider it, take counsel, and speech.'" Nothing will get your attention like opening up a box you get in the mail and finding a hand in it. That will get your attention. And that's exactly what happened. Mission accomplished.

Now you've got 11 tribes. They are totally ticked off at the tribe of Benjamin. They're going to see to it that justice is done. So here's what they do. They form an army of 400,000 men and they take three vows. They make three promises. Number one, no one will go home until Gibeah is attacked and destroyed. They say, "We gonna take care of this business". Number two, anyone who does not join against Gibeah will be killed. You don't have a choice, you're gonna join this army. You're gonna join this mob, you're gonna join this posse. We're gonna kill these people. And if you don't join us, we're going to kill you. And then number three, and this is important. No one will allow his daughter to marry anyone from the tribe of Benjamin.

Now, keep that oath in mind. We'll come back to that. So we got those three things. We're gonna attack Gibeah and destroy it. You're gonna go with us. If you don't, we're gonna kill you. And by the way, when we're all done, none of our daughter will ever marry anyone from the tribe of Benjamin. So keep that in mind. So at this point, a reasonable demand is now made. Chapter 20, verse 12. "And the tribes of Israels sent men throughout all the tribe of Benjamin, saying, 'What evil is this has taken place among you?'" Now, reasonable requests. "Therefore, give up the men, the worthless fellas in Gibeah that we may put them to death and purge evil from Israel".

So, they've kind of changed their minds and said, "Look, tell you what we'll do, we won't kill everybody. We won't raise this town to the ground. But you've got to turn over the guys that did this evil thing". Reasonable request. "But the Benjaminites would not listen to the voice of their brothers, the people of Israel". Now this is an amazing thing, but we see it happen all the time in our own country. All they wanted was the guilty party. That's all they wanted. But amazingly, the Benjaminites defended them. And here's what's amazing. They were willing to fight against what was right and willing to fight for what was wrong. Sound familiar? They were willing to fight against what was right, but willing to fight for what's wrong.

Now, because of time, we're gonna move ahead in the story. They attacked the city twice, doesn't work, 2,000 Israelites are killed. But on a third attack, they're successful. They killed every Benjaminite in that town, but 600 escaped, 600 got away. Well, they're not done. Verse 48, chapter 20, "And the men of Israel turned back against the people of Benjamin and struck them with the edge of the sword, the city, men and beasts and all that they found. And all the towns that they found, they set on fire". They killed everything. They killed everyone. They killed dogs. They killed cats. Which may not be a bad thing. Don't get mad at me. They killed dogs. They killed cats. They killed cattle. They killed sheep. They killed everything they could find. They killed men. They burned every house on the ground. They destroyed every town they could find.

It was a scorched earth policy on steroid. But, the Israelites do have something of a conscience. And now they realize to their heartache, we have almost wiped out an entire tribe. They're supposed to be 12, not 11. This is still a part of God's family. And so, their sense of family kicks in and they realize, you know what? We don't wanna be responsible for the total disappearance of one of the 12 tribes. They say, wait a minute, 600 male Benjaminites left, who had escaped and they needed women to marry in order to propagate the tribe and survive. But they had a problem. Remember the oath they took, I told you a moment ago? None of their daughters could do it. None of their daughters would do it. None of their daughters would be wives. They said, "Okay, so what are we gonna do? We're not gonna let our daughters marry them". But then they remembered something else.

Chapter 21, verse eight. "And they said, 'What one is there of the tribes of Israel that did not come up to the Lord to Mizpah?' And behold, no one had come to the camp from Jabesh-gilead to the assembly. For when the people were mustered, behold, not what are the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead was there". So, they kind of did their homework. They did their record order. They looked at all their papers, looked at all the people that signed it. They said, "Whoa, wait a minute! There's this one tribe. They didn't come. They didn't do what we told them to do. They shirked their responsibility. We gotta take care of them". So, you would think that they would ask the people of Jabesh-gilead if they could contribute some of their daughters for marriage to these men. Why don't you just do that? No, 'cause they made a promise. No daughter from any of the tribes of Israel could marry these men.

So here's what they did. Chapter 21, verse 10, buckle your seatbelt. "So the congregation sent 12,000 of their bravest men there and commanded them, 'Go and strike the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead with the edge of the sword; also the women and the little ones. This is what you shall do. Every male and every woman that has lain with a male you shall devote to destruction.' And they found among the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead 400 young virgins who had not known a man by lying with him, and they brought them to the camp at Shiloh, which is in the land of Canaan".

So here's what they did. They go into one of their own cities. They kill every man, every woman, every child except for 400 virgins. And they give them to be wives to the Bejaminites 'cause they've never been married. But wait a minute, they still have a problem. The good news is now 400 Bejaminites can marry and they can raise kids. But you got 200 left, and they need wives too. Now what are they gonna do? Oh, this gets better. They remembered there was this annual festival of the Lord at a place called Shiloh. We would call it today a Jewish Mardi Gras. Okay? I just got back from New Orleans, went down to Bourbon Street just to go to a restaurant. Don't go there. Anyway, they gave them permission to go up to the festival, and they said, "You can kidnap any woman you want to take as a wife, and you can force them into marriage". In return, the Israelites said, "Here's what we're going to do".

To all the dads of these daughters that say, "It's not right for you to do this. You should not kidnap my daughter. My daughter's done nothing wrong". They said, "Tell you what, we're gonna make you an offer you can't refuse. Since you didn't go to war, you give your daughter, we won't kill you". Well, guess what? The father's saying there goes the bride. And the story ends. Somebody has called this the sewer of the Bible. I've read the Bible through many times. I don't think there's a more disgusting, degraded story in the entire Bible than this one. There's not one admirable character. There's not one noble act. There's not one hero. And by the way, just an advice. If you're a parent with a young child, I wouldn't tell this story to that young child just before they go to bed at night, okay. Be Blair, you better hope and pray your little five-year-old boy says, "Hey daddy, tell me the story of the concubine and the chainsaw".

I hope that never happens to you. That's one of those stories, you know, you say, "You're not quite ready for prime time". Yep, it is the story that's just sorted, shocking, sad, but you ain't heard nothing yet, because the conclusion of the story is just mind boggling. Verse 24, "And the people of Israel departed from there at that time, every man to his tribe and family, and they went out from there every man to his inheritance". So after all this rape and all this killing and all this genocide and all this mutilation, total indifference, que sera sera. Whatever we'll be, will be. And everybody just goes back to business as usual. Cooking out, going to the lake, watching ESPN, as if nothing at all had happened.

You say, "Pastor, how do you explain that"? One sentence, verse 25, Judges 21. "In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in their own eyes". The biggest problem we having in this country is not who's sitting in the White House. And the biggest solution we're gonna have is not who's gonna be president next. The biggest problem we've got in this country is, is everybody's doing what's right in their own eyes. That's the problem. That is the problem. Everyone did what was right in their own eyes. These three chapters give us the ugliest story in the Bible. And yet, at every stage, this is what's amazing. Everything these people did, they thought they were doing right. They thought this is what I ought to do. This is the best thing to do.

As far as the men of Gibeah were concerned, rape was all right. To the farmer and the Levite, homosexual rape was unthinkable, but heterosexual rape was all right. The men of Benjamin thought, it's all right to defend what's wrong. The Israelites thought, it's all right to massacre innocent men, women, and children. It's all right to kidnap women and force them into marriage. It never occurred to any of them, not one time. This is wrong. This should not be. These things should not happen, because everyone did what was right in their own eyes. Listen carefully. It doesn't say that every man did what was wrong in their own eyes, but what was right. So herein lies the problem.

Do you notice or did you notice, you can go back, read the three chapters yourself. God is never mentioned one time. God's law is never brought to bear one time. And here's why you cannot have real and true morality without God. Because when God goes, anything goes and everything goes. When God goes, anything goes, everything goes. So you can have Hollywood celebrities who celebrate abortion, who thinks abortion's a great thing. And that's why you could have parents who have the audacity to put a five or a 10 year old child through surgery to change their sex, because they think a 10 year old is old enough to know what sex they ought to be. All the same, did what was right in their own eyes. And when you try to make right wrong a matter of human choice, human reason, human decision, you're out on a limb that will break every single time. Because I want you to listen very carefully.

You young people over here, listen to me very carefully. One of two things is true. Either what is right is right in our eyes or what is right is right in God's eyes. You can't have it both ways. Either what is right, is right because we think it's right, or what is right, is right because God says it's right. So, I just wanna say three quick lessons. Ready? Write these down. Number one, because of God. Because of God, there are moral values we should defend. Because of God, there are moral values we should defend. Understand what I'm saying? I am not saying you gotta believe in God in order to believe in what's good. I'm not saying you've gotta believe in God to try to do what's good. I'm not saying you can't formulate a standard of values that may be good that you ought to live by without God. I'm not even saying you have to believe in God to believe that morality does exist.

The question I'm arguing is not the fact of goodness. I know there's goodness. The question I'm arguing is, is the foundation of goodness. To say that there's right and wrong that's always right and always wrong. If you would say that just about anything. Well yeah, there are some things that are always right and there's some things that are always wrong. Well, you can't say that unless there's some universal authority that declares what is right or wrong, regardless of whether the people may think is always right or wrong. For example, if I were to say to you, how many of you believe the holocaust was wrong? Well, you'd all raise your hand said, "Of course it was".

Well, Adolf Hitler didn't believe that. Didn't believe that. Hitler didn't believe that. Goebbels didn't believe that. A lot of Nazi soldiers didn't believe that. They thought they were doing us a favor by putting Jews in gas ovens. Because if there is no God, at the end of the day, it's just a matter of opinion. It's just a matter of power. I can never tell you what's right. You can never tell me what's wrong. And therefore that means there can be no final, ultimate objective, right or wrong. That only leaves us with one choice. I just gotta do what's right in my own eyes. The problem is, there is a God in heaven, and that God has given us a law and that God has told us what is right and that God has told us what is wrong. And because that God has told us what is right and what is wrong, that means what was right 1,000 years ago is right today, will be right 1,000 years from now. And what is wrong 1,000 years ago is wrong now, to be wrong 1,000 years from now, because there is a God.

And by the way, you say, "Well, where do you find it"? In His commandments. Psalm 119:160 puts this this way, "The sum of Your Word is truth, and every one," watch this, "every one of Your righteous rules endures forever". So let me tell you what that means. It is still wrong to commit adultery. It is still wrong to lie. It is still wrong to steal. It is still wrong to covet. It is still wrong to dishonor your parents. It is still wrong to worship any other God but the God that made us. It is still wrong, has been wrong, always will be wrong. Thou shalt not is one forever, 'cause there's this God that says, "I determine what is right and what is wrong". He tells us what we can and should not do, or can and should do, and can and should not do. And He tells us what we shouldn't do. So, what He tells us, He tells everybody. What He says one time, He says for all time. There are moral values we should defend, because of God.

Number two, there are moral virtues we should demonstrate. I mean, there's certain ways we ought to live. You know what's really interesting? Over the last several decades, anthropologists have done an exhaustive study of the various cultures of the world. And you know what they have found? One of the most fundamental findings of all their study. Here's what they found. Couldn't believe it, but it's true. They found out that morality is universal. These scholars that do, they're the experts. They say we've never found a culture, past or present that doesn't have some system of morality. The standards of morality may differ from one culture to another or even within a culture. But every culture knows deep down, there's a difference between right and wrong, between what ought to be and what ought not to be.

Matter of fact, brilliant Jesus even said, all these moral virtues we ought to live by can be summed up in one word that should flow in two directions. And you probably know what that word is. That word is love. He said you can really sum up all of our virtues in one word, love. He said love should always flow in two directions. Love should flow vertically. I just taught all my grandkids a scripture verse. Now, I'll just go ahead and tell you, I bribed 'em. I give 'em $10 each every time they memorize a verse. But they just memorized Matthew 22:37, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind". Love ought to flow vertically. But Jesus knew what He was talking about, 'cause He said, you know what? If love flows vertically, it will flow horizontally. So you shall love your neighbor as you love yourself.

Now here's what happens, when you follow those two commandments. If everybody on planet earth decided today, I'm gonna love the Lord God with all my heart, soul, and mind. I'm gonna love my neighbor as myself. You know what you start finding everywhere you go, loyalty, honesty, kindness, generosity, sacrifice. In other words, you know what you'd find? You'd find what is good and you'd find what's right. There are moral values we should defend. There are moral virtues we should demonstrate. Last thing, because of God there is a moral vision we should declare.

Now, let me give you one last reason why God is necessary for anything to be true, anything to be right, anything to be wrong, anything to be moral. If there is such a thing as right and wrong, and we agree there is, if there is such a thing as moral and immoral, then let me tell you what that means. Only with God will people be held morally accountable for their actions. So for example, let's say we all agree, Hitler was wrong in what he did to those Jewish people, and the Holocaust was just unbelievably, terribly wicked. If there is no God, Hitler doesn't get punished for that. Hitler's not held accountable for that. That's why he took cyanide and blew his brains out in that bunker, 'cause he thought that was his way of escaping.

That's what his way of saying to the Russians, you're not gonna get me, to the Americans, you're not gonna get me, to the British, you're not gonna get me. I'll beat you to the punch, I'm going to end it all. I got news for you, no you didn't. And you found that out the second you drew your last breath. Because we are all going to run. We're gonna faceplant into the holiness of God one day. There's a God we're gonna stand before. We are going to be held accountable, because only with God can we know, nobody will get away with anything. All evil, all wrong will be punished. All goodness and all righteousness will be rewarded, because only with God will the scales of justice be finally, completely balanced.

So let's just suppose, let's just for a minute, just for argument's sake, let's suppose that without God, you could still have morality. Then I'm gonna raise the question to you. Think about this. What good is morality without accountability? I mean, think about it. If you knew, I'm not gonna be held accountable for anything I do, why wouldn't you be selfish? Why wouldn't you find a better looking woman and you're married, run around with her, have an affair? Why wouldn't you do that? You'd get away with embezzling from your business. You could take a million dollars and nobody will ever know it.

Why wouldn't you do that? What good is morality, if there is no accountable? I mean, if this life is all there is, what difference does it make? What difference does it make whether you live like Mother Theresa or you live like a Adolf Hitler? Because without God, serial rapists and killers that never got away with it, get away with it. Without God, militant Islamic terrorists get away with it. Without God, unjust judges, crooked politicians and religious hypocrites get away with it. But nobody gets away with anything, because there is a holy God in heaven, and He's gonna make the wrongs right, and He's gonna right every wrong.

And by the way, let me tell you a major reason why I'm convinced without God, you're morally out on a limb. Jesus Christ on the cross tells us forever there's a right and there's a wrong, 'cause He died for what is wrong, so we could be made right, and He alone decides which is which. I'm grateful I don't have to get up in the morning and flip a coin as to what's right and wrong. I'm grateful I don't get up in the morning and decide, okay, do I run around on Theresa today or not? Well first of all, I value my life. But beyond that, there's a reason, 'cause I know God's watching. I know I take Jesus with me everywhere I go. That's why I'm so very careful what I say from this pulpit, 'cause one day I will give an account to God for every word I taught you, every single word. That's why I don't handle the church's money. I don't take a dime from a kid. Never write a check. Don't go to meetings. Never handle the money. Why? I'm gonna be held accountable. 'Cause without accountability, morality is useless.

News commentator Ted Koppel once said this, "There is harmony and inner peace to be found in following a moral compass that points in the same direction regardless of fashion or trend". God has provided that moral compass, it's right there in that book. I know where true north is every time I get up in the morning, 'cause I got the book, I got the law, I got His commands. My youngest son is an airplane pilot. And every pilot's taught one basic lesson at the beginning of their training. One basic lesson. When you're in an air traffic control zone, listen to me, you're a pilot, you know this. When you're in an air traffic control zone, you don't do what's right in your eyes. You do what the control tower tells you to do. And there's a reason for that.

See, that control tower knows things you don't know, and that control tower see things you don't see. And that control tower's talking to people you don't talk to. And that control tower has the right information and the right perspective to guide that pilot to do everything that is absolutely right. So, here's where we are today. We know this, ethically, morally and spiritually, everything seems to be changing. There's a lot of confusion out there. And you can fly by the seat of your pants, live by your own rules, do what's right in your own eyes. But I'll tell you this, you will end up in disaster. You will crash the plane of your life. Because the wonderful news for us is, as we get into the plane of our lives every day and take off every morning, we have a divine controller and His name is Jesus.

And we have a flight manual and it's called the Word of God. And when we look to Jesus and we live by His Word, we'll not only know what's right, we will do what's right in the only eyes that matter, the God who alone, who decided before this world was created, what is right, what is wrong for every one of us, every time and every place. So the good news is for these young people over here, some about to graduate, some about to go to college, everything you're gonna hear, a lot of what you're gonna hear in the universities, the colleges, even the schools you go to today, will be directly opposed to what I just said to you. Everything you hear, I'm just telling you.

So you gotta make a choice. Everybody's gotta make the same choice. I gotta make the same choice every day. You're gonna walk one or two paths in your life and there's no in-between, and you can't sit on the fence. You will do what is right in your own eyes, or you're gonna do what is right in God's eyes. And all I can tell you is this. I'm not a perfect man, but I try to be a blameless man. And since I was nine years old, as best that I knew how to do it under the power of God, I've tried to do what is right in His eyes, and I'm telling you, it works.

Would you pray with me. With heads bowed and with eyes closed. I have a big, big question I want to ask you right now. Big question. It keeps me up at night, believe it or not. You know what I've not been able to get outta my mind this week is that submarine. I couldn't get it outta my mind. Five people in a submarine. A guy on TV got up, an expert. Here's what he said. I didn't know this. Your spinal cord takes four nanoseconds to tell your brain something is wrong. That submarine imploded in two nanoseconds. In other words, they literally didn't know what hit them. They literally went from light to dark. They literally were alive and in two nanoseconds dead. And I thought about that billionaire dad and his son and all that money, didn't mean a thing. I thought about all the successful people on that ship.

A lot of successful, five people. Very successful. What did it matter? So I wonder, for you, maybe it's a sudden heart attack. Maybe it's a catastrophic car accident. Maybe it's a stroke, maybe it's a drive-by shooting. Just get honest with God for once. That's you, boom, you're gone. Do you know for sure you'd be with God? And don't be flippant. Well, yeah, I got baptized. Doesn't mean a thing. I went to church. Doesn't mean a thing. I believed in God. Doesn't mean a thing. Well, I believed in Jesus. Did you trust Jesus? Did you know Jesus? Was there fruit in your life? Did you repent? Has He really become the Lord of your life? We're not trifling around here.

So if you're here today or you're listening online right now, and you'd be honest enough to say, you know, I'm not ready to do that. I wouldn't be ready to be in that submarine, or I'm glad I'm not. I'm glad I wasn't in that submarine. And you know you need to nail down your relationship with Jesus and you need to do it today, then do it now. Don't listen to that voice on your shoulder. No, you got time. They thought they did too. So if you even have an ounce of a doubt, why don't you just say this to Jesus right now.

I believe You are the Son of God. I believe You lived a perfect life. I believe You died for my sins. I believe God raised You from the dead. I believe You're alive right now. Would You come into my heart? Would You save me? Would You forgive me? I repent of my sins. I turn away from my old way of living and I accept You as my Lord today.

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