Help for Today — Hope for Tomorrow
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My life is just the result of blind chance! Have you ever felt that way? Have you wondered if everything happens by coincidence or is there more to the story? Do you have a destiny?If you do have a destiny, then why does it seem like life spirals out of control with no meaning or direction? Perhaps God is somehow involved, but you're not sure why He seems so distant and detached from your everyday problems. Well stay tuned to a special edition of Beyond Today as we help you realize that “You Have a Destiny!”On this special edition of Beyond Today we're going to join Gary Petty with his congregation in San Antonio, Texas. And Gary is going to address the topic of “You Have a Destiny!”And we'll join Gary in just a moment. We're also offering free literature with additional insight into today's subject. One is our free booklet, What Is Your Destiny? The second is a free subscription to The Good News magazine. You can call at any time during his message to request your booklet and magazine subscription, or go online to our Beyond Today website and read them now or place your order.I'll be back at the end of the program for more on this topic. No matter how confusing life is, you can know your destiny—why you were born! So, let's join Gary Petty in San Antonio.The original Star Wars movies have become icons of American culture. Although the movies, their themes, are not Christian, we are attracted. People are just attracted to the theme of the movies. Where you have Luke Skywalker, who, must choose his destiny, between good and evil. Between being a Jedi Knight and the dark side. And in fact, I don't know about you, but I remember the sort of chills it gave me the first time I saw the movie when Darth Vader tells him to choose to follow him and he says, you should choose the dark side because, Luke, it is your destiny. And ah! Then that almost mechanical voice, you know and that imposing figure. It was just terrifying. Choose your destiny! This is your destiny!What is a destiny? What does that mean? Do people have destinies? You know, we generally talk about a destiny; we talk about a path that you're on in which you have no control over. And which events just sort of drive you towards this conclusion. One of the things that was so attractive about the Star Wars movies, and people were attracted to them and why, you know, generations now watch those movies, is because the realization and the idea that was in the movie: that we get to choose a destiny. We can choose good or we can choose evil. We have some control over what happens to us here, by choosing good or choosing evil. Like I said, Star Wars were not Christian movies or based on Christian themes, but the destiny concept really drew people towards it.Well, your Creator, your God has a destiny for you. You can choose this destiny or you can…not choose this destiny. What is the destiny that God is offering to you?Let's go to Genesis 1—the very beginning of the Bible—Genesis 1, and let's begin to look at the answer to this question. Say, Oh I have a destiny? What is it that God is offering to me?Genesis 1:27So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.×, “So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”Now this is a very important statement. When God made human beings, He made them different than any other animal. You know when they classify animals, human beings are mammals. But we're not like any other mammal. And the reason why is: you and I were created in the image of God. Now what does that mean?Cause we're obviously finite. We're not all-powerful, like God is. We're not all-knowing, like God is. What does it mean to be made in the image of God? He didn't say we were made God. He said we were made in the image and likeness of God. What does that mean?You know, one of the ways of looking at this and beginning to understand this is to think about how we are different than animals. As human beings we are dramatically different than any other animal. As I said, science may classify us as mammals, but the difference between us and other animals is vast.For one thing, you're self-conscious. You know you're sitting here. Some of you are looking at your watch and saying, boy I hope he doesn't go overtime, right? You're quite aware that your legs hurt. Or you're quite aware of what somebody down, you know, next to you is doing.We are self-conscious, and we possess a remarkable intelligence that's different than any other animal. And in that way we are like God. God is self-conscious and He has intelligence. Now remember, I didn't say we were like God in quality, I'm saying we're in the image of God—a little image of God. But it's important to understand this if you're going to understand your destiny, because you have one, if you want it. You choose.We are like God in that we have the ability to think and plan in time. You know how unique that is? To think and plan in time. You can think about your future. You can think about achievements. You can make goals. You can carry out those goals. You can plan out what you're going to do today and tomorrow and the next day and next week. When was the last time you ever saw a gorilla open his day planner? You know?… Sorry! I can't entertain you at the zoo today. I have a business meeting to get to. And yet we have this unique ability to think not only in the future, you and I are aware of the past, aren't we? Not just in terms of memory. We are acutely aware, both in a reasoning aspect and an emotional aspect of the past.We have creativity. You and I are the recipients and creators of art and literature, of music. In our back yard, we have birds. My wife has bird baths, a little garden and it's full of birds all the time and I listen to all these birds sing. But you know, these birds, all sing the same little set of notes. It's the same set of notes that their parents did, and their parents did, and their parents did, and their parents did. Human beings create music out of nothing. I am not a musician. I'm always amazed at people who create music, put little dots on a piece of paper and a sound is created by people who can read those dots.Literature. Art. Problem solving. Problem solving. You know, beavers are amazing in that they build dams. Beavers will never get together, create computers, draw out blue prints and create the Hoover Dam. I don't care what you do to those beavers; you will never get them to do that. We solve problems! We think through problems. Because beavers build, now they're a little bit innovative but it's all within a very strict structure that their brain is designed to do. Totally different than what we are.We have the ability for abstract thought. Beauty? Think about that. Humor. And we all have different ideas even of what beauty and humor mean. They're abstract. They're absolutely abstract. I mean, think about how a person, an architect, creates a blue print out of nothing, and then construction people take that blue print and create a building. And how did it start? It started in the mind of the person who created the blue print! It's abstract. It's not even real. And we have the ability for abstract thought, as does God! That's why He was able to create—is the ability for abstract thought.The ability to create languages. The capacity for scientific thought. The ability to consciously change our environment. The ability to experience a higher plane of emotions. Certain joy and happiness, and especially when you get into the expression of love that is unique to human beings. Empathy—the actual ability to feel what another person is feeling. These are unique to us because they are qualities of God. It's how we were made in the image of God.Even our desire to search for meaning and suffering. We have funeral services. We have monuments to people. We discuss and try to figure out: Why am I suffering? What is death? What happens to me after I die? We write books. We discuss. We have ceremonies. We ponder. We worry, because we try to figure out meaning in things.And then one great ability we have is the ability to conceive of morality. That makes us like God. There is right and wrong. Now I say it makes us like God. God knows the difference between right and wrong, we simply have the ability to experience them. William Shakespeare, one of the characters in one of his plays said, “what a piece of work is a man!…in form and moving, how express and admirable! In action… like an angel! In apprehension…like a god.”Well if we're like a god, why can't we solve our own problems? We may be in the image of God, but we're not like God in many ways. What is our problem? Only by understanding this, will you ever understand your destiny. Only by understanding why human beings have great capacity for beauty and love and empathy, self-sacrifice, and at the same time we have this capacity to murder and steal and lie and cheat and hurt—Why? What has happened to us?Romans 8. Let's go to how the Apostle Paul, he doesn't describe what happened, he describes the effects. Romans 8:7Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.×. You know people expect to hear, especially in mass media, a gospel message that says, I'm okay. You're okay. It's not what the Bible says.Romans 8:7Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.×, the Apostle Paul says, “Because the carnal mind”—the natural mind, is the enemy of God—“is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be.” You and I have at the core of our being a hostility towards God. And you say, Well no I'm don't. I'm a good Christian. I don't have any hostility before God or against God. I love God.I want to read this again and I want you to stop and think about your reaction to the last word in this verse. “Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be.” The last phrase: it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be.What was your reaction to the word law? Oh, I'm so glad we're not under the old law. I'm so glad that the law was done away with. I'm so glad that I don't have any obedience that I have to do to God.I want you to think about what Paul just said. The natural mind is the enemy of God and its normal reaction to the law of God will be what? I'm so glad I don't have to keep that! I'm so glad I don't have to do that! I can't be subject to that. You just proved it in your emotional reaction to the word law!God doesn't expect me to obey? Why are we like that? Why are we like that?You know the answer is actually found back in Genesis. So let's go back to Genesis. Genesis 3. You won't hear this message much. It takes us where we don't want to go but it is the message that God wants us to hear. Because it is the only way we will understand and turn back to Him. It is the only way we will go back to what we're supposed to be. If we were made in the image of God and we have become horribly disfigured images of God, so corrupt that we have no hope or no future except the world that you and I create, why?Genesis 3:1 Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, Yes, has God said, You shall not eat of every tree of the garden?×“Now the serpent…”—Satan. Oh no, now I'm into something else we shouldn't talk about. You know by the way there are certain words you shouldn't say on television. Now, some of you might remember a comedian that actually did the seven words you can't say on television. It came out on vinyl records—all of you old enough to understand what a vinyl record is. And he would say them so fast and so all the teenagers would get the record, listen to them and say them so fast that the adults wouldn't know what they were talking about. And they were the seven words you couldn't say on television. And this comedian made millions doing this way back in the '70s.But there are certain words that you shouldn't say on television, by the way. We shouldn't use the word sin. Oh, people will turn you off. Cover your kid's ears. I'm going to talk about sin. We shouldn't talk about Satan. People don't believe he is real, but he is real. And what happened here was an angelic being in rebellion against God, created by God, told us it's okay. Remember God told them they couldn't eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. What the point is, is God says don't take upon yourself deciding what's good and evil, because the moment you do, you will become corrupted. Just do what God says and you will be okay. The moment we choose for ourselves—cause only God knows what's good and evil—the moment we choose for ourselves, something happens to us. We become hostile towards God. We establish ourselves as gods.I find that interesting where Paul says, you look at the natural mind and it's the enemy of God, which is the exact opposite of the new age movement which is infiltrating into mainstream Christianity. You're supposed to find the god within yourself. When you look at this Book and you look at what our Creator said, and you look within yourself and what you find is not God, you find a horribly disfigured image of God; because we're not God. We're not God.And so verse 2, “And the woman said to the serpent, ‘We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which [stands] in the midst of the garden, God has said, “You shall not eat [of] it….”'”You won't see or hear this read in a lot of Christian churches because it's seen as just some kind of allegory. No, this is the truth. This is what happened and you and I are part of this.“…nor shall you touch it, lest you [shall] die.” Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die.” Satan said nah, God's not telling you the truth. You are a little god and you can know the difference between good and evil. In fact, it's good for you to know the difference between good and evil.“So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant [for] the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave [it] to her husband with her, and he [did eat].”What happened? They chose, I need to know. I'm as good as God when it comes to choosing what's right for me, and so I grabbed it. I took it. And something changed inside human nature. It became corrupted. It's what we are. It's what we are.And so we see this, the problems around us all the time. We live in a world of corrupt human nature. So what do we do? Where does that leave us? What happens? How do we get out of this? It all has to do with why God sent Jesus Christ here to die for us. And when Jesus was here, He gave a parable and unfortunately this parable has become a cliché.Let's go back and look at the power of the words. Luke 15. Luke 15. So many of these teachings have become clichés. People know them. Children learn them in their little schools—their little Christian schools—and they become stories like SpongeBob SquarePants. And they just become stories and that's not what this is! He's teaching a lesson that has to do with who you are at your very nature. Luke 15. And let's start in verse 11.Jesus says there was a man who had two sons. The younger one of them said to his father, “‘give me the portion of goods that falls to me.' So he divided to them his livelihood. And not many days after, the younger son gathered all together, journeyed to a far country, and [there]… wasted his possessions with prodigal living”—prodigal living. It just means he went out and he blew it. He wasted everything his father had given him.Now you read through this story in Luke 15 and the story is a father had two sons; one son stayed loyal to the father, one son said hey, I want to live my life my way. I'm tired of living by your rules. I‘m tired of doing it your way. The older brother gets all the benefits anyways. I want to go out and just have a good time. And that's what he did! That's what he did. He took his father's inheritance that he gave to him and he went out and he squandered it. He squandered it to the point where he wasted it and he was no longer his father's son. If you read through, it gets to the point where he's out slopping pigs for a living and eating with the hogs.Verse 17 says, “But when he came to himself, he said, 'How many of my father's hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before…”'” earth. Oh there's that word. Cover the children's ears! We can't say the word sin, people will turn us off. The problem is there's a problem between us and God. That's the problem. And it is… sin! It's sin! All sin means is anything we do, or we say, or we think that is against the way God designed life. We are so arrogant. We think the Creator of life doesn't know how this works. So we grab our inheritance and we run off and we waste our lives. We waste it and sometimes when we're eating with the hogs, we wake up.Now what's God's reaction to this?Verse 20. So the young man arises and it says, “he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him. And the son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son.'” And there it is folks. Nothing gets better.Nothing gets better until you and I recognize that we have to go before our Father, cause we took His inheritance and we're squandering our lives. And we have to go back and we have to say: I have sinned against You. I am no longer worthy to be called Your child, Your son, Your daughter. And I come before You and I ask for Your forgiveness.You read the rest of this story and what's fascinating is the father's response: I am so happy you came to yourself! I am so happy you came home! I have gained my child back. But it could not happen until he recognized, it's not a religion of, I'm okay, you're okay. This isn't about Jesus loves me, so I just give a little prayer and everything's okay. That's not what true Christianity is all about.We have in this country we live in a watered down, politically correct Christianity that doesn't tell you the truth! The simple truth is we live our lives in rebellion against God and we pretend Jesus loves me so I can stay the way I am and it's okay with God. No! You and I have to go home. You have to understand, the prodigal son could have stayed out eating with the pigs. He could have stayed there and never gone home. He had to go home. He had to go back to the father. He had to repent. He had to enter back into relationship with his father, his creator. And his father healed him. That's the message of Jesus Christ. That's why He came. He was telling all. That parable is about why He came.And the authentic Christianity is more than acceptance of Jesus. Authentic Christianity is more than an acceptance of a set of doctrines. Authentic Christianity is the acceptance of your destiny; that you were in the image of God… that you have become a terribly disfigured image of God, worthless for eternity unless you return home. And Your Father recreates you back to your original purpose.Christianity is about salvation. It's about being recreated into what God made us to be to begin with. And that is to be His children! That's why you're here. That's who you are if you want the destiny. If you want the destiny. The bland, culturally correct Christianity that we're getting so used to, isn't what God wants, because it allow you to stay eating with the hogs and think that the Father's happy. It allows us to stay eating with the hogs and think the Father's happy. That's the problem with it. That's not what God wants for you. God really does love you! God really wants to change you. God really has a destiny for you. He simply wants you to come home.