Treasure God's Gift of Life
O Lord, we live in a depraved age when people think little of taking the life of the unborn or the terminally ill. Preserve us, O Lord, from such a callous disregard for Your gift of life. Grant us, rather, through the instruction of Your Word an increasing appreciation of all Your gifts and an understanding of the value of all human life. Move us, as You give us opportunity, to share Your message of grace and forgiveness for Jesus’ sake. Amen.
After the Flood, the LORD promised not to destroy the world again as He had through the flood waters. The LORD emphasized to Noah and his sons that human life was to be treasured and respected, for He had made man in His own image—an image we regain in part when we embrace our Savior Jesus by faith.
St. Paul reminded the Athenians that God “gives to all life, breath, and all things.” Life is a precious gift from God not to be despised. St. Paul also informed the Athenians that God gives us life for a specific purpose—so that we have a time of grace during which we can learn to know and believe in Him!
In spite of sin, God loves this world of sinners. He sent Jesus to save the world. All who believe in Him will not perish but rather will enjoy eternal life. May we be led by God’s truth to the light of God’s will, which includes a reverence and respect for the gift of life itself.
Text: Psalm 139:13-18
For You have formed my inward parts; You have covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well. My frame was not hidden from You, when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them. How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand; when I awake, I am still with You.
In Christ Jesus, the Author and Giver of life, dear fellow redeemed:
Finally, after 56 years a memorial is being built on the mall in Washington DC commemorat-ing the sacrifice that over 545,000 American men and women made for the sake of freedom during World War II. These men and women lost their lives while serving their country. It is only fitting that we honor them, for they made the ultimate sacrifice for us—they gave up their lives!
545,000 lives lost over a four-year period—how tragic! Yet that number pales in comparison to the 40,000,000 lives that have been lost through abortion in our country since the legalization of this form of murder in 1973. My dear friends, during World War II we lost on average just under 12,000 men and women each month. Since 1973 we have lost on average well over 123,000 unborn children each month through abortion. The life of one out of every three children conceived in America during the past 27 years has been aborted. This is a tragedy of epic proportions, and yet we hear little or nothing about it. This ought not to be. Our Lord tells us, “Open your mouth for the speechless, in the cause of all who are appointed to die. Open your mouth, judge righteously, and plead the cause of the poor and needy” (Proverbs 31:8-9). It is important that we Christians recognize the sanctity of God’s gift of life, and that we speak out in support of it and on behalf of those unborn children who cannot speak out for themselves!
What can we do? The most recent newsletter sent out by the Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life informs us that our Minnesota State Senate has a slight majority of pro-life members, while our Minnesota State House of Representatives has a considerable majority of the same. We should as individual citizens let our senators and representatives know of our concerns about the deaths of so many unborn children and the effects those loses have upon all members of our society. However, the real battle over abortion will not be won in legislative halls or in the courtrooms of our land. It will be won or lost within the hearts of individuals. God’s word speaks to our hearts and to the heart of this entire matter. Therefore, let us this day, review for ourselves this beautiful section of Psalm 139, which teaches us to TREASURE GOD’S GIFT OF LIFE!
We see, first of all, from these words of David that God forms our bodies! Proponents of abortion like to argue that a fetus is not a human being. They claim, rather, that it is simply a mass of tissue within a woman’s body, not unlike a benign or cancerous tumor she would have her doctor surgically remove from her body. This is simply not true! David writes, “You have formed my inward parts; You have covered me in my mother’s womb.” The basic meaning of the word “formed” is to “erect.” God is our builder—erecting us, forming us within our mother’s womb. The word “cover” literally means to “weave,” which when we consider the complexity of our bodies and the amazing fact that God places everything we are into such a tiny frame within the womb, is a good describing word. God intricately and delicately forms each of our parts and creates a harmonious union so that we can function in this world as His children. He gives to each of us our unique talents and abilities—each of us His special creation!
True science confirms the fact that our bodies are too complex to have occurred by accident as evolutionists suggest. Biologically, we know that from the moment of conception the genetic material necessary for a child’s entire development is present. That genetic material is unique to that child. Between 18 and 25 days after fertilization, an unborn infant’s heart begins to beat. That child may or may not have the same blood-type as his or her mother. By eight weeks after fertilization all body systems are present and by eleven weeks all are working. These are the facts recognized by science. They point to a truth we accept by faith that God through these natural processes is forming our bodies!
David’s response, as should be our own, is: “I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonder-fully made; marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well.” I have yet to visit the hospital room of a mother and newborn child, where the parents don’t look at their infant and rejoice in the “miracle” of life that God has given them! One new father, who regularly spends time as a volunteer at a crisis pregnancy center, told me that prior to becoming a father he had been pro-life, but once he held his own daughter in his hands, his commitment to life increased immeasurably. There in his hands was God’s gift of life—a gift entrusted to him and to his wife.
My dear friends, do not believe the lie that a fetus is not a child, for God very clearly says that He formed all of us as unique human beings within our mother’s wombs, bestowing upon us all the gift of life. Let us TREASURE GOD’S GIFT OF LIFE!
Let us do so, secondly, for GOD PLANS OUR FUTURES! I have seen on occasion a bumper sticker that reads, “Thank your mother she chose life!” Such a message should cause us to pause for a moment to consider how this world would be changed had we never existed or had our existence ended in the womb. Much of the philosophical support for abortion lies within the Darwinian theory of biological evolution. This theory denies the existence of God and, consequently, His involvement in our lives. Life exists as a matter of chance survival of the fittest species. Life has no meaning beyond that which we give it ourselves. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Not only does God form and so give us our bodies, he plans our futures.
David writes, “Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them.” We are not adrift in a random universe—purposeless and meaningless beyond the satisfaction of our own desires. No, our God has a purpose for each of us in our lives. He has placed us here at this particular place and at this particular time for a particular reason. At times we may struggle with our understanding of that purpose, but God has given us one. Consequently, as we seek Him and His guidance, we can rest assured that He will lead us and use us in accordance with His will.
Don’t be surprised if God’s intentions for your life are not what you expect them to be. James and John did not expect to leave their father’s fishing business that day Jesus stopped by as they cleaned their father’s fishing nets, but when Jesus came and invited them to follow Him, they left everything and followed! When I visited one of our senior members some time ago in a nursing home as he recuperated from a fall off a ladder, I was so delighted to hear him inform me, “Pastor I figure God has somebody for me to talk to here. Otherwise He would not have allowed this to happen!” Paul assures us that “we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10).
My dear friends, TREASURE GOD’S GIFT OF LIFE! He forms our bodies and plans our futures!Consequently, we can awake each day thanking God for a new opportunity to fulfill His plan for us, thereby glorifying His name and therein bringing blessings to those around us!
Finally, TREASURE GOD’S GIFT OF LIFE, for He redeems our souls! One of the slogans used by those who support abortion is “no unwanted child!” On the surface that slogan may sound appealing, but consider the implications behind the slogan. That slogan implies that a woman who finds herself pregnant unexpectedly and without wanting to be cannot or will not change her mind as time passes. Clearly, this is not the case as one considers the changes experienced by those mothers who have chosen life for their child, and by the regret expressed by many mothers who have chosen the pathway of abortion. That slogan implies that only unwanted children experience abuse after birth, which is clearly not the case. That slogan ignores the clear desire of many infertile couples who want children and would gladly adopt them. Beyond any of these clear contradictions, however, lies the simple fact that there is no unwanted child in God’s eyes.
David writes, “How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them. If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand; when I awake, I am still with You.” Just as David’s earlier words apply to all, so these words apply to all. Our Old Testament lesson pointed out how God promised all people after the flood that He would never again destroy the world as He had destroyed it then. Our Epistle lesson declared that God creates all people and provides for their existence. The Scriptures in their entirety point out that God extends His hand of blessing to all in spite of our unworthiness. The Psalmist writes, “The eyes of all look expectantly to You, and You give them their food in due season. You open Your hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing” (145:15-16). Elsewhere the Psalmist writes, “He (God) causes the grass to grow for the cattle, and vegetation for the service of man, that he may bring forth food from the earth” (104:14).
Beyond the mere preservation of our God, however, lies the love He has revealed through our redemption. In the face of mankind’s rebellion, we are told in our Gospel lesson, “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). The highest expression—the most precious expression of God’s love is found in His gift of Jesus. Jesus provides us with righteousness. Jesus paid our penalty. Jesus’ blood cleanses us from our sins. Faith in Jesus reunites us with our Savior God and brings us the sure promise of life everlasting.
There are those who might question why God permits such a tragedy to go on, when looking at the violence of our society and in particular the violence over against the unborn. Such questions, however, imply that God is somehow unjust, rather than placing the blame squarely upon the shoulders of sinful mankind. The reason abortions continue lies not with God, but rather with man—man’s fear, man’s selfishness, and man’s greed!
The only way that we can break the cycle is by recognizing that this practice is sinful, by repenting of it, and by embracing a saving faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. Of the 40,000,000 abortions performed in the United States since 1973, over 400,000 have been performed here in Minnesota. There are many individuals and families in our midst who know people or who may themselves have become involved in this sin. Many of them are hurting—suffering the pangs of conscience, enduring the sorrow of a great loss. It is imperative that we as individuals and as a congregation prepare ourselves to help those people. How do we do that?
For those people struggling with past sins, let us assure any and all who are penitent, that God has forgiven them for Christ’s sake! God has delivered us from every sin—even those involving the violence of abortion. While the loss will remain, God can and does renew us, allowing us to rejoice in His love and compassion, and enabling us to fulfill His purpose for our lives. My dear friends, let us TREASURE GOD’S GIFT OF LIFE!
—Pastor Paul D. Nolting