January 15, 2008
"And the Lord God commanded the man, "You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die." (Genesis 2:16-17)
At the risk of dating myself, how many of you remember the song, "One Bad Apple...don't spoil the whole bunch?" ...Donny Osmond. Cute song, to be sure, but thousands of years ago, one man, one woman, and one piece of fruit, affected every human being on the face of Planet Earth for generations to come. One man. One woman. One piece of fruit. One choice.
The word "choice" broadly implies that we have the freedom to choose from a set of possibilities or courses of action. We make so many choices every day. This morning you chose what you would wear from the numerous articles of clothing in your closet. You chose what you would eat for breakfast or even whether you would eat at all. You chose which route you would drive to work. You will choose whether to cook or get carry-out tonight for dinner. Will you read a book, watch TV or turn in early at the end of the day? Choices....some that really don't matter a hill of beans, but others will have consequences that can forever influence your destiny and the lives of those around you. Robin McGraw says, "You can make choices in your life; in fact, you must make choices in order to have the life you want. And whether or not you're aware of it, you do make choices all the time; even choosing not to choose is a choice." (McGraw, Robin. Inside My Heart: Choosing to Live with Passion and Purpose)
While I do like to involve God in every decision that I make throughout the day, I don't really think that He is so concerned with whether I eat broccoli or corn, or whether I wear red or brown today. My Heavenly Father wants the best for me and He sets before me the road to His best. Then it's up to me to choose. He wants the same for you and He says, "This day, I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to His voice, and hold fast to Him. For the Lord is your life, and He will give you many years in the land He swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob." (Deuteronomy 30: 19-20) It's like having a multiple choice test in front of you. Question one is (a) Life or (b) Death. Question two is (a) Blessings or (b) Curses. And it's an open book test! The correct answers are Life and Blessings. You've been given the answers by the Teacher and it's up to you to make the right choice.
Ever since that fateful day in Eden, men and women have been making choices. Moses "chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time." (Hebrews 11: 25) His choice laid the ground for his destiny as God's spokesman to Pharaoh and empowered him to lead his people to the edge of the Promised Land. When Ruth said, "Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God", she met her Boaz and her name is recorded in the genealogy of Jesus Christ. (Ruth 1: 16) When Saul disobeyed God and did not completely destroy the Amalekites, he forfeited his kingship over Israel (see 1 Samuel 15). The haunting words and decision of Esther when she said, "and if I perish, I perish" (Esther 4: 16), changed the destiny of a nation. David should have gone to war in the springtime like the other kings. Instead, he stayed behind and made the choice to follow his lust for Bathsheba and even murder her husband to have her for himself (see 2 Samuel 11). That decision, that choice, brought calamities upon his household that would trouble him until his death. Judas turned on Jesus for a few silver coins. That decision brought him guilt and a noose around his neck. (Matthew 27:5) Jesus of Nazareth "made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant...humbled Himself and became obedient to death--even death on a cross. [And] God exalted Him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name." (Philippians 2: 6-11) Choices determine destiny. Your choices determine Your destiny! When you choose to bring your alabaster box to the feet of Jesus, your life will never be the same.
The words of Eleanor Roosevelt ring true: "One's philosophy is not best expressed in words. It is expressed in the choices one makes. In the long run, we shape our lives and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And the choices we make are ultimately our responsibility." We can't play victim. We can't make excuses for our bad decisions. We are the ones who ultimately make the choice, for good or bad. For blessing or cursing. For life or death. Eve blamed the serpent. Adam blamed Eve. But God told Adam, "because you listened to your wife..." Adam had a choice. So do you.
Our choices aren't always the big, monumental ones. The Bible says that it is "the little foxes that spoil the vines." (Song of Solomon 2: 15) What choices do you make when no one is looking? When no one would know? Character and integrity are developed when you make the right choice even when no one is looking! When you do the right thing because it is the right thing. When you do it even though no one else is. The prophet Samuel told Saul that the Lord delights in those who obey the voice of the Lord. "To obey is better than sacrifice." (1 Samuel 15: 22) Oswald Chambers said, "We can disobey God if we choose, and it will bring immediate relief to the situation, but it will grieve our Lord. If, however, we obey God, He will care for those who have suffered the consequences of our obedience. We must simply obey and leave all the consequences with Him." (My Utmost for His Highest (Updated Edition). 1995, 1992 by Oswald Chambers Publications Association, Ltd.)
Choices determine destiny. If you're not convinced, do yourself a little Bible study. Read Deuteronomy, Chapter 28. God spells out rather clearly the blessings that come from obedience and the curses that come from disobedience. Notice the length of each section. The destiny that you reap from your choices cannot be reversed or taken away by any one or anything. If God said it, that settles it! When you choose the Lord's way, you get blessing. When you choose your own way, you get cursing. If you reap the blessing, no devil in hell can take it away from you. But if you get cursing, the same is true. Nothing could ever reverse the effects of the wrong choices in David's, Judas' or Saul's life. Jesus said that Mary's choice to sit at His feet while Martha slaved over the stove was the right choice. He said, "Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her." (Luke 10: 42) My dear friend, choose what is better. It will NOT be taken away from you!
I leave you with these words from C. S. Lewis:
"When the author walks onto the stage, the play is over. God is going to invade, all right; but what is the good of saying you are on His side then, when you see the whole natural universe melting away like a dream and something else comes crashing in? This time it will be God without disguise; something so overwhelming that it will strike either irresistible love or irresistible horror into every creature. It will be too late then to choose your side. That will not be the time for choosing; It will be the time when we discover which side we really have chosen, whether we realized it before or not. Now, today, this moment, is our chance to choose the right side."
Choose carefully today. Choose wisely today. Choose rightly today. Your future depends on it. Always remember that choices determine destiny.
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