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Fwd: The Lutheran Hour: January 10, 2016 "What's Running Your Life?"

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Subject: The Lutheran Hour: January 10, 2016 "What's Running Your Life?"

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Email Us button greenSermon Text for January 10, 2016 

"What's Running Your Life?" #83-19

Presented on The Lutheran Hour on January 10, 2016
By Rev. Gregory Seltz, Lutheran Hour Speaker
Copyright 2016 Lutheran Hour Ministries

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Text: Romans 6:1-11 

"What shall we say then?" says the apostle. "Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father; we too might walk in newness of life" (Romans 6:1-4).

Christ is risen! He is risen, indeed! Hallelujah! And in Him our life is one of resurrection and that means right now and forever. Amen!

What's running your life? What's running your life? What seems to have control of your thoughts, your actions, your successes, your failures? Control is a hard thing to give up, isn't it? It's a hard thing to give up. But sometimes good things can happen even then. Yeah, sometimes even when your life is out of control, there can be good things that happen.

That's what happened to Greg Gerhard. Life was amazing for him and his wife Elizabeth. Everything was going exactly according to the plan. He was thirty-four years old, two grown sons, the owner of a successful car dealership. Then something happened. He felt a twitch in his pinky finger. You know what that means? Well, Greg finally found out after consulting with a neurologist. The diagnosis: Parkinson's Disease, early on. 

Things progressed for the worst. Greg and Elizabeth sold their business, they retired, they moved. The tremors became more and more acute. Finally, brain surgery in Denver. All beyond his control. 

But an amazing thing happened. Amazing because the doctors implanted a microchip in his brain to accomplish something called deep brain simulation. It worked. It helped mitigate some of the pain and suffering and now, though, a computer was literally helping Greg's life. It was running his life. He was still out of control, but he was blessed.

So what's running your life? Some of us may even be too ashamed to answer that question. Well, let me tell you something. I want you to know that if you are struggling with that question, God has a proposal for you. God Himself has a proposal for you and here's what it says, "What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? No way! How can we who died to that still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were buried into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Jesus was raised from the dead, we too, we too walk in newness, in newness of life" (Romans 6:1-4).

Think about what God is actually saying to you tonight. If you're listening to us on the radio, think about what God is actually saying to you right now. Instead of letting sin run your life, instead of the advertisers telling you what you need to make you happy but you really don't ever get it, or a broken road that leads you from worry to worry, God is saying, "Let Me have a crack at it." What do you think about walking in the newness of life that comes from Him alone? That's His proposal. That's His joy. 

You heard the verses from Romans, chapter six: "Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? Buried with him? Yeah, but also raised with him so that we can walk in newness of life."

Being baptized, all that means is being washed in the Name, the powerful Name of God. The Bible teaches that God actually connects His promise of new life to simple water. Simple water because He comes from simple people like you and me with the very powerful message of grace. And He puts His Father, Son, and Holy Spirit Name on you so that you can know that it's His power to change your life. 

Sins washed away. Holy Spirit given as a gift. Old life no longer has control of you. New life is what's out in front of you. Why, because that's Who Jesus is and that's Who Jesus is for you and me. 

In other words, it's the Savior Who runs your life. But let's be clear: He is no tyrant. He's no tyrant. He's not a cold critic. He's a life-giver. But faith in Him, means He is in the driver's seat, He's behind the helm, He's sitting at the control panel. And for those who know Him as Lord and Savior, that's good news, right? That's what He offers. That's what the Gospel is all about. 

Paul goes on to paint this picture. He says it this way, "For if we have been united with him in death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know the old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we are no longer enslaved to it." But here's what He says, "If we now have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him" (Romans 6:5-8).

So think about what this really means. Really, in this world as it is today in your life as it is, the broken, corrupt, confused, misleading sinful world doesn't run your life. It does not run your life anymore if you believe in Christ, are baptized into Christ. Even your own wounded heart doesn't run your life either. 

How many of you have one of those things? I told everyone to turn their phones off. How many of you have one? Yeah, the smart phone. What is a smart phone? The smart phone is your TV, it's your radio, it's your GPS. What's a GPS? Global Positioning System. If you go to your MAP APP, and you type in your location, you'll immediately see a blue dot. It tells you where you are. It's good to know where you are, isn't it? But that's not the real beauty of a GPS. What's the best part about a GPS? If you type in where you want to go, it tells you how to get home and sometimes that's the real blessing.

Well, if you understand the Bible's message, think of it in terms of GPS. The Bible tells you where you are without God. Where we are without God, every human being on the planet, including us, without God, we are lost. That's what GPS says. That's what God's Gospel Positioning System tells you. Without Me, you're lost. But the good news is He doesn't want you to be lost. He tells you how to come home. He actually identifies what home is. In His Son Jesus Christ He actually shows you how to get home with Him and, literally, He comes to where you are in your location, He types the message in and He'll walk you home all the way to His grace as well. 

Point to point. When Jesus runs your life, you have a solid point of reference with God. You know who you are without Him, you know who you are with Him, and you know what it's like to be home in Him. 

Why wouldn't you want that; the Lord to graciously run your life? After all, He purchased you, He won you. He actually has eternal life for you and me. He gave His life for you so that you could break the hopeless bonds of whatever is against you today so that you could live with Him and live an abundant life now and forever with Him. 

But, don't we often settle for the fakes and counterfeits? Don't we often settle for something far less? Complications tend to come because of our sin and rebellion. They come up. They tempt us away from this. This which is good and holy and gracious.

Sometimes I think we do feel out of control, but even more so sometimes I feel like my life has been hacked. Sometimes I feel like I've been mislead. Sometimes I feel like I've been defeated. How does that happen?

Did you hear about this? I was just reading this the other day. Jeep's computer system; they were testing the Jeeps out one time and it got hacked by some computer professionals, Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek? Journalist Andy Greenberg was behind the wheel of a Jeep. They were testing out the vulnerability of the vehicle's entertainment system. Once he started driving, this Miller and Valasek gained access to the vehicle from their computers in a remote location, they began to control the SUV. 

First they turned the air conditioning on. It just blew really cold air at him. Then they turned on the heat on the seats. Have you ever had that? You don't want that in the middle of summer. The air was blowing and blasting, then the loud music starting blasting out of the radio. The windshield wipers sprang into action and Greenberg wasn't touching anything. Then it got scary. They actually started to accelerate the car and to drive the car and they finally drove it into a ditch. He was completely out of control. Once the vulnerability was exposed, Jeep sprang into action. They fixed it real quick.

The Bible talks about all of our lives even being hacked. What's hacked into your life? The Bible says Satan, sin, this corrupt world; they are trying to run your life. They're trying to hack into your system. Even your own sinful flesh is a flawed operating system too and it can drive you into ditches out of your control sometimes. It can even overwhelm you. 

In fact, the Bible actually says that all human beings are what we call sin addicts. Even when we are trying to feel better, gain control, or deal with reality, we tend to run to the wrong solutions; just for a momentary fix. The next high from drugs or alcohol! The next escape into pornography or sexual unfaithfulness! The next purchase that gives you a temporary thrill! It's all temporary and eventually it drives us into that ditch.

Even our emotions can do that. You might be struggling with anger right now and it might be driving you into a ditch. You might be struggling with self-criticism in a cage of hopelessness. The Lord understands that. 

What's running your life? It's not just a scheduling question; it's a much deeper question. It's a heart question. Jesus says "If those things are running your life, they won't last. If you think they are going to solve your problems, they won't. But I'm going to make an offer again to you. I'd like to take control of your life. I'd like to be your Lord and Savior and I've got something I want to say to you." 

If you know deep in your heart today, if you know deep in your heart that there are things that are in your life that are destructively out of control, things for which you can't even forgive yourself, then you listen up because God's got a word for you. 

He says this, "We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all of us, and the life he lives he lives to God. So you, (you who believe in Him, you who put your trust in Him, you who let Him take the wheel, control of your life,) you consider yourselves dead to that stuff and alive to God in Jesus Christ" (Romans 6:9-11). That's God's proposal to you in Him. 

We don't need to come up with a plan. He already has the plan. He's lived our life, He's died our death, and He gives us His life. That's the plan. That's the most radical plan in the world that God Himself would be vulnerable to us rather than demanding of us, but it's the only plan that saves. 

When God claims your life, no matter the circumstance, because God is at work, all who put their trust in Him receive the blessing of life and salvation in Christ alone. That's His offer to you. 

Kari Bollig saw what it was like when someone stepped in to her life and made a difference. Kari was diagnosed with stage-four cancer. As she struggled, the likelihood of her own death, she started to reflect on some things in her life; what would mean the most to her in life. She did what a lot of us do. She came up with a bucket list, a bucket list of things she wanted to do in her life that were important. One item she decided to do was to write a letter to Peyton Manning of the Denver Broncos. Kari said this. She said, "I have followed Peyton Manning forever, especially being an Indiana girl. I just thought, 'Well shoot. I'm going to write him a letter and tell him how much he inspires me even now, not just because he's a football player, but for what he does off the field.' He was very personal. It was very heartfelt. I never thought though after I wrote it that I'd received any kind of response. I didn't even know if he would get it," she said.

Then a phone call came to Kari. Guess who wanted to meet her? Peyton Manning! That's right. He read her letter; he wanted to get together with her. She said, "I kind of stammered. I kind of stuttered; I didn't know what to say. Peyton Manning's on the phone. Are you kidding me?"

Peyton Manning was serious. He hosted Kari at the Denver Broncos Mile High Stadium. She sat in on a photo shoot together, she watched the players have their photos taken. She watched a walk-through practice and took a tour of the facility. This was amazing!

Then she was presented with free tickets to the Denver Broncos game! Not just tickets up in the stands, she was right down there on the field; she and her husband, right there. After the game, guess who came up to her to shake her hand; Peyton Manning himself. 

He took time. He chatted with us. Just for a little while, she wasn't thinking about her cancer, she said. It was like it didn't even matter. It had suddenly gone away. She wasn't even thinking about dying. She was just thinking about how this guy who's leading this very busy life took time just to be with her. 

Then he leaned in for a hug and he quietly said to Kari, "Keep fighting, Kari. I'll be praying for you." I just became a Peyton Manning fan, how about you? When I thought about that, he made such a difference in her life. He took time from where he was in his high, lifted up place, to come where she was and really try to understand what he could do. He was kind to her; uplifting to her and it made such a difference in her life to know that someone like that cared about her and even was praying for her.

But dear friend, if you are listening today, there is Another who is way more special, way more gentle, way more kind, way more powerful, and He is even way more concerned and capable for you right now. He's not your Hero. He's not your Hero because even our heroes are flawed. He's your Savior. He's your Lord and Savior, the One Who came at Christmas, the One Who makes New Years worth celebrating. He's the One Who's Lord each and every day of your life and each and every day of your life forever and ever, Jesus Christ. 
And He gives you and me a sure promise of eternal life and He faces all your obstacles and allows you the power to face them too with Him. He will not let you down. He challenges us to see our life in Him, with Him, and through Him and even promises us the blessings of the Spirit to live this life boldly now and forever; with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, and self-control.

Why, like Paul says, "Those who belong to Jesus Christ have crucified the sinful nature, they now live in Him" (Galatians 5:22-25 NIV). 

Let me just say this to you. When Jesus Christ runs your life, beauty and blessing flow to you. I know life isn't always easy, I know that this side of heaven, but He's the One Who makes a promise to you. If you put your faith and trust in Him, life is certainly good, it's certainly forever, and by faith it can be yours in the Name of Jesus right now. 

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. And all of God's people said, Amen. God bless you.

LUTHERAN HOUR MAILBOX (Questions & Answers) for January 10, 2016
Topic: What is Epiphany?

ANNOUNCER: Now, Pastor Gregory Seltz responds to questions. I'm Mark Eischer. Today a listener says, "I've heard that after Christmas comes the Epiphany of our Lord. What is an Epiphany?" 

SELTZ: Mark, I hear people say sometimes, "I just had an epiphany." And what they mean is "Now I see things more clearly," right?

ANNOUNCERY: Okay, they've had this sudden realization about something or maybe they've come to what we might call an enlightened conclusion.

SELTZ: The literal meaning of this word means to shine upon or to reveal. And with respect to the Bible, it speaks about the revealing of Jesus to the world after His birth.

ANNOUNCER: And this event called the Epiphany of our Lord is marked by the visit of the
Wise Men coming to visit Jesus.

SELTZ: Right. When the Magi, or Wise Men, visited Mary, Joseph, and the Child Jesus, and presented their gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh; this was the first recorded time when the Savior was revealed to the Gentile world. Revealed, things becoming clear, the Epiphany of Jesus, that's what the church celebrates every January 6th which is traditionally the twelfth day of Christmas.

ANNOUNCER: That's where the song comes from!

SELTZ: That's also part of the flow of what is called the church year.

ANNOUNCER: The church year traces the life of Jesus and it also walks believers through a
life of faith.

SELTZ: So Christmas, you're right then, is on December 25th, but the season of Christmas lasts through the day of Epiphany. 

ANNOUNCER: And that also ushers in a season of Epiphany according to the church year.

SELTZ: That's also right. The answer to our listener's question involves both a day and then several weeks of celebration. 

ANNOUNCER: What is the focus of this Epiphany season?

SELTZ: As we mentioned, the day of Epiphany is the world's recognition of Jesus as the true Savior, true God. Jesus isn't just a religious figure. He is the world's Savior, Friend, Refuge, and Strength. The first Sunday after the Epiphany of Jesus celebrates the baptism of Jesus. 

ANNOUNCER: The event when John the Baptister called Jesus "the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world."

SELTZ: Going to church at this time you're going to hear that. That's Who Jesus is. The Bible reveals Him as the Son of God. As the Savior, at His baptism, God the Father spoke from heaven saying, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased" (Matthew 3:17). People heard it publically. Once again, it is the revealing of the Savior to all people. The Epiphany season gets really personal.

ANNOUNCER: In what way?

SELTZ: For the next several Sundays you're not going to only hear about Who He is, you'll see the Son of God in action. He begins to call His disciples. The Savior who came to our world says, "Follow me." For each of us, this is a call to faith in Him and to a life that walks in His steps. That's how the season of Epiphany unfolds. It's a time when we see Jesus for Who He is, put our faith and trust in Him, and grow as His followers. 

ANNOUNCER: And during this season of Epiphany, we might hear stories about Jesus' temptation and even His Sermon on the Mount.

SELTZ: It depends on the year, but yes, those are great examples you're going to hear in church. In Jesus' temptation, for instance, we see Him do what we failed to. He defeats Satan, resists temptation. He is the holy, sinless Son of God, living the righteous life we could never live, all in our stead to fulfill God's will perfectly in our place. 

ANNOUNCER: Another way in which Jesus, the Son of God, is revealed to us as our perfect Savior. 

SELTZ: That's correct. Then, in His Sermon on the Mount, like you said, Jesus teaches us what it means to be His disciples; our lives are redirected, even changed. The grace of God changes everything, even how we live.

ANNOUNCER: It's appropriate at the beginning of a new year that we are given a new way to live. God teaches us His ways and He allows His light to shine through us to the world.
SELTZ: Exactly. Epiphany is the revealing of Jesus not only as the newborn King, the teaching Messiah, but He's also then revealed through us as His followers.

ANNOUNCER: The culmination of this Epiphany season comes on Transfiguration Sunday.

SELTZ: I love that Sunday too. That's the event where we get to really see Jesus for Who He is. Peter, James, and John, saw Him on the Mount of Transfiguration in all His glory. He's seen as the true God, the fulfillment of God's promises. The season concludes with a clear call to faith when God the Father says, "This is my Son, whom I love, listen to Him." 

ANNOUNCER: All in all Epiphany sounds like an exciting time. 

SELTZ: It is. It's a time to get to know this amazing Jesus, to grow as His followers, and to get to show Him to other folks in our lives.

ANNOUNCER: Thank you, Pastor Seltz. This has been a presentation of Lutheran Hour Ministries.

Action in Ministry for January 10, 2016 
Guest: Kurt Derouse

ANNOUNCER: You're listening to The Lutheran Hour and this is Action in Ministry. Today's message asked what is running your life. We might think that we are in control but I think so often that we run to the wrong solutions. 

SELTZ: Actually, this can ruin our lives but the good news is that in Christ we have victory over sin and Christ is right here with us to fight every battle. 

ANNOUNCER: And with us today is someone who can attest to that victory because he has experienced it. His name is Kurt Derouse and his story is featured in our online Bible study titled Regrets, Reality, Restoration. Kurt, thanks so much for joining us today. 

DEROUSE: Grateful to be here.

SELTZ: Kurt, looking at you, one might think you were just the all-American guy. I love the pin stripes, my friend. Many people probably assume the best about you. Give us a glimpse of what your life was really like for many years.

DEROUSE: Well, it really started out quite normally. People really thought "there's a normal guy." Athlete, good family, a couple brothers, mom and dad. From the outside it did look very normal. As I got into more of my young adult years, I recognized that there was a problem and other people, more importantly, recognized there was a problem long before I did. Then it became a really long struggle to have a normal life.

ANNOUNCER: What was it that was causing the problem? 

DEROUSE: I was an active alcoholic for 30 years; from the age of 14 to 44. I was a cocaine and crack addict for 20 of those years. 

ANNOUNCER: And what happened as a result of that dependence on alcohol and drugs? 

DEROUSE: Alcoholism strips you of everything. There's other challenges in life that people have whether that be fear, anxiety, or lack of faith. Alcoholism really strips you of everything; financial, emotional, and ultimately spiritual as well. Ultimately you hit a spiritual bottom that there is no other answer for. 

SELTZ: Did you try to get a hold of that? What did you try to do and how did that work? 

DEROUSE: Yeah. For 15 years I tried to get a hold of it. I tried to get a hold of it through many, many efforts; whether that be drug and alcohol treatment, whether that be getting very involved in the church. When you are in the middle of this, you really try anything. You read these books that they're going to change your mind. None of that worked for me. 

ANNOUNCER: But something finally did click. Something happened. What was that? 

DEROUSE: I was coming out of my last binge, what I will call it, I went downstairs one night on September 10 of 2012; I fell to my knees and I asked God to help me. And for the first time in my life I truly, truly meant that. As an alcoholic, we all do foxhole prayers: "God, please don't let them give me a DWI." "God, please get money in the account so we can feed the family tonight." But, on that night, I was desperate.

SELTZ: I love to hear stories like this because it's really about the power of God, I think that's what you're talking about, and how God can take those regrets, and sins, and struggles and really bring restoration to not just you but for all of us. It still happens today and we're just glad that you're able to share that. How's your life been different and how are you staying on track now today? 

DEROUSE: If you looked at my life, my life is not that significantly different. I still have the same family. I still have the same three children. I still go to the same church. 

SELTZ: Okay.

DEROUSE: So if you looked at my life, my life is not that significantly different outside of the fact that God has removed from me the need to actively use alcohol or drugs as a solution. So, God is my solution today and that is a massive change. That should not be understated. That is a massive change for someone that their only answer to everything in life was alcohol and cocaine to their answer in life today is God, and prayer, and meditation. 

SELTZ: Like you just said, that permeates everything too. On the outside maybe things don't look all that different, but it is completely different....

DEROUSE: One hundred percent.

SELTZ: What a wonderful thing to see God at work; all life changed, your life changed. 

ANNOUNCER: You can see Kurt's story and more in the online Bible study titled, Regrets, Reality, Restoration. Kurt Derouse, thank you for being with us today.

DEROUSE: Thank you. 

SELTZ: That's our Action in Ministry segment to bless, to empower, and strengthen your life in Christ for others. 

ANNOUNCER: The name of this video is Regrets, Reality, Restoration. For more information on this resource call 1-855-john316. That's 1-855-564-6316. To view or download this material for free, go to and look for the tab that says Action in Ministry. Our email address is 

Music Selections for this program:

"A Mighty Fortress" arranged by Chris Bergmann. Used by permission.

"To Jordan Came the Christ, Our Lord" From The Concordia Organist (© 2009 Concordia Publishing House)

"As with Gladness Men of Old" From The Concordia Organist (© 2009 Concordia Publishing House)



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