LIVING A LIFE WITHOUT REGRETS

LIVING A LIFE WITHOUT REGRETS by Pastor Shah, Clearview, Henderson

Living_A_Life_Without_RegretsMany people are caught up in the “what if” syndrome. What if I had chosen a different career? What if I had married a different person? What if I had lived at a different place and time? They are constantly wondering what their life would look like if they had taken a different path. They are living in constant self-condemnation and apathy. They see only defeat and hopelessness on the horizon. All of us have been there at some point or there right now.

Rom. 8:28-39  28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.  29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.  30 Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified. 31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?  32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?

Background: The chapter we just read – Romans 8 – is a Jewel of a chapter. Martin Luther (the German Reformer) said, “If the Bible is a ring, then Romans 8 is the Jewel. In this chapter, we find the verse that, next to John 3:16, is the most quoted verse from the Bible, Romans 8:28 – “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” It is a powerful verse! R.A. Torrey (the man who helped D.L. Moody tremendously) called it “A soft pillow for a tired heart.” It has brought peace, assurance, and comfort to many a traveller on the road of life. It has helped many come out of a life of regret to a life of rejoicing.

This morning we will drop anchor at this verse but look at it in its proper context.

When you look at this verse carefully, you see 3 kinds of people. The first are people who do not love God and are not called according to His purpose. These are lost people who have false assurance or no assurance that all things will work out. The second are people who do love God and are called according to His purpose and they do know that all things work together for good. Then, there is the third group of people. These are people who do love God and are called according to His purpose but they do not have the assurance that all things work together for their good. They are living the “what if” life.

This morning – only you know which category you belong to. As we walk through each of the group, let the Holy Spirit bring you to right understanding of yourself so you can make the right decision. Let’s look at them one at a time.

I. LOST PEOPLE WITH FALSE ASSURANCE OR NO ASSURANCE

Listen to that verse again – “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. This verse is not a blanket promise for every human being. Many people quote that verse but they only quote the first half. They say something like – “I know it’ll all work out.” “Tough times don’t last forever.” “I don’t know why I was so worried because things have worked out and it’s so much better.” All those statements have nothing to do with Romans 8:28.

A lost person falsely thinks that just because a problem has ended, it’s all worked out. You will hear things like – “I had back problems two years ago but it’s all better now.” “I lost my job last month but I found a new one and I tell you it’s a whole lot better now.” “I had a flat tire but luckily I was near a garage and they had a sale going on and I got new tires for real cheap.” Romans 8:28 is not about these tough times of life. Everybody has problems and sooner or later they end. Every problem has a life cycle – whether you are saved or lost. Some lost people are even thankful that they went through some problem in life or made some mistakes. “Man – I’m glad I went through that because I wouldn’t be the man I am today if it wasn’t for that.” All that has nothing to do with Romans 8:28.

Listen again to that verse – “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.Meaning: It’s not just about one or two things but all things—the whole gamut of life, from start to finish. It means every single good or bad, happy or sad incident of life. There is a beautiful tapestry that is being made! Every thread has a purpose. Furthermore, it’s not just about “I’m a better person.” “I’m stronger now.” “I’m wiser now.” It’s about God’s purpose.

A lost person who does not love God cannot live His purpose. You cannot have the first half without the second half. The first half is contingent on the second half. Without the second half, the first half is invalid. You could say – “All things don’t work together for good if you don’t love God. There is no eternal purpose in your life.” In fact, life is just a cruel joke. As Shakespeare wrote so brilliantly in Macbeth:

Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player

That struts and frets his hour upon the stage

And then is heard no more. It is a tale

Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury

Signifying nothing.

You are born. You struggle. You cry. You laugh. You die. There is no purpose or meaning. If you belong to this group, you need to be saved.

II. SAVED PEOPLE WHO KNOW THAT ALL THINGS WORK TOGETHER FOR GOOD

Listen again to that verse – “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”

Background: There is a definite confidence in that statement. This not we think or maybe or hope so. God is the guarantee behind this promise.

F.B. Meyer said, “If any promise of God should fail, the heavens would clothe themselves in sackcloth; the sun, the moon, and the stars would reel from their courses; the universe would rock, and a hollow wind would moan through a ruined creation the awful fact that God can lie.”

How can we know this so confidently? You have to understand Romans 8:28 in its proper context. The subject of Romans 8 is the Holy Spirit. This chapter mentions the Holy Spirit more than any other chapter in the whole Bible – 19 times. It’s the Holy Spirit of God who helps us understand this promise. Without Him you will be a circumstantial Christian – driven by circumstances of life.

He helps us to see that:

–       Good times work together for our good. That is not hard to do. Blessings come in your life; God is working.

–       Sad times work together for our good. That is hard to do. Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were dragged away to Babylon. Torn away from family but God was working. It worked together for good. A loved one is taken away, sickness has plagued your life, James says in 1:2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.

–       Sinful times work together for our good. Sin is horrible. Even Christians when they sin, there are temporal consequences. Gal. 6:7-8 7 “…for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.  8 For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.” Having said that God will even turn your disobedience to bring something good in your life.  Luke 22:31-32  31 And the Lord said, “Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. 32 But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.”

–       Satanic times work together for our good. I see two examples immediately. One in the Old Testament and the other in New. Job (OT) was afflicted because Satan was trying to make a point. God worked all things together for good. Paul (NT) had a thorn in the flesh – a messenger of Satan. Paul prayed repeatedly and here’s the answer that he received – II Corinthians 12:9-10  9 And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

For a Christian – everything happens because God has allowed it to happen for the good. The good is “His purpose.” His purpose is to conform us to the image of His Son – Jesus Christ. You cannot understand this without the help of the Holy Spirit. Rom. 8:26 “Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.”

Application: The question is not do you believe that all things work together for good. The question is you resting and trusting in the Holy Spirit to remind you that all things work together for good.

III. SAVED PEOPLE WHO DOUBT THAT ALL THINGS WORK TOGETHER FOR GOOD.

Listen again to that verse – “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”

Background: You can love God and be called according to His purpose and yet live in doubt. There are Christians who are living a life of constant regret. What if I had done better? What if I had chosen a better path? My life is a mistake. I call them the Jacob syndrome Christians. Remember Jacob? – His dad favored Esau and his mom favored him. That was a mistake. You shouldn’t play favorites with your children. Then he tricked his brother by putting on sheepskin and stealing his blessing. His brother wanted to kill him. Then he had to run for his life. “What you sow is what you reap.” Then Laban tricked him. He asked for Rachel and he got Leah. Now he had to work 7 more years. Now he had 2 wives. Then there was quarrel between the sisters because Rachel could not have children. Then his children would not behave. Then he got news that his favorite Joseph had been killed but I believe that he knew better. Then there was famine in the land. Then he sent his sons to Egypt to get food and the ruler locked up Simeon and then he wanted Benjamin. Listen to his response in Genesis 42:36 “And Jacob their father said to them, “’You have bereaved me: Joseph is no more, Simeon is no more, and you want to take Benjamin. All these things are against me.’”

Many Christians live that verse everyday – “All these things are against me.”

Paul answers back from across the sands of time – “And we know all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” What Jacob didn’t see is that God allowed Joseph to be sold into slavery and go to Egypt to prepare the way for Jacob to come one day and take the land of Goshen – the place where a family became a people and a people became a nation through whom Jesus came.

Without the Holy Spirit all you will see is Sodium and Chloride. Both are deadly poison but put together they become sodium chloride – table salt that we put in our food everyday and it seasons it.

Application: The Holy Spirit is the one who does that in your life. Is He in charge of your life? Are you saved? 

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