The Expository Files


“Didn’t We Almost Have It All?”

After a week in Florida, we arrived home late on Saturday, Feb. 11. I looked over my class and sermon material for the next day (prepared before the trip), and had one nagging thought – the Sunday morning sermon needs one good illustration. The topic was Choices and Consequences. If you leave the Lord today, can you live with that tomorrow? If you walk away from your marriage today, can you live with that tomorrow? If you don’t do your part, and the local church disbands, can you live with that tomorrow? Then, wrapping up with a positive: If you love the Lord and keep His commandments, can you live with that tomorrow? I had all of this worked out with smooth transitions, strong thematic emphasis, easy audience navigation; all the sermon flow keys you look for. Most important, all of this was based on clear, simple statements in God’s Word. But, I just needed one good illustration. I went to bed thinking about that need, figuring I would get up early Sunday morning, consult my resources and find that valuable illustration.

Then I turned on the TV for the 10pm news. Lead story – Whitney Houston, Dead at 48. There’s my illustration. And as past interviews were re-played, she spoke frankly about her “issues,” and choices of friends, alcohol and drugs.

I remembered some of her lyrics (as one who appreciated her musical talent). “Didn’t we almost have it all . . . Just remember that family comes first . . . I love the Lord . . . Yes, Jesus loves me, the Bible tells me so . . . Guide Me, O Thou, Great Jehovah . . . When the earth all around me is sinking sand, on Christ, the Solid Rock, I stand,” and this: “I lose control, can’t seem to get enough.” (source: lyrics from

“How many stars have to go this route before people realize that money and popularity are not the answers to life? There was a time when no one could touch her golden voice, but she bit the fruit of success and later fell hard. Wealth doesn't cut it. Fame won't make you happy. The wise man said it long ago: all is vanity and grasping for wind. Life is to be lived to the glory of God.” – Doy Moyer, Facebook.

“Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. 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. And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart,” (Gal. 6:7-9).

By Warren E. Berkley
The Final Page
From Expository Files 19.3; March 2012