It’s Your Choice

Deuteronomy 30: 19           NOG

I call on heaven and earth as witnesses today that I have offered you life or death, blessings or curses. Choose life so that you and your descendants will live.

Are you familiar with this verse? I want you to be. It is so very powerful and can change your life. In fact, this is a great one for you to meditate on. The piece of it I wish to highlight today is the word “choose.”

God has offered us life. He has offered us blessings. Death and the curse entered the earth in the Garden of Eden. So, both life and death and blessing and the curse are out there for the choosing. The interesting aspect is that we get to choose. I always smile when I read this verse because I hear it this way, “I have given you the choice between life and death, the blessing and the curse. Let me give you a hint. Choose life and blessing.” It is like God is trying to clue us in on which one to choose. It seems ridiculous at one level. We should be smart enough that He does not need to give us a hint and yet, it is a forebearer of a truth. We often make the wrong choice. We choose death instead of life and the curse instead of the blessing. Why would we do that?

Let me ask you a different question. Supposing you rather have life and blessing, how do you make that choice? What mechanism is in place for choosing? That is the main issue, I believe. Do folks know how to choose life? In how many ways do we choose the curse instead of the blessing? I believe most Christians do not realize there is a choice, how to make the choice, or how they are making the wrong choice daily.

One of the most poignant events in the Bible is found in the book of Joshua. As the book opens, Moses has just died. He, who was the liberator of Israel, who led them for years through their long sojourn, who importuned God for them, prayed for them, taught them, and cared for them, is dead. Now what? Shall the nation of Israel fall apart right there, having never crossed over into the promised land? It is a climactic moment is Judeo-Christian history. It could have all ended right there, on the wrong side of the Jordan. Instead, God appointed Joshua to be the leader of His people. How would you like that job, following in Moses’ footsteps? It must have been pretty frightening for Joshua. God took him aside, though, to give him the secret of success, to be his coach and mentor. God told Joshua, “Only be strong and very courageous; be careful to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, so that you may have success wherever you go. This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go,” (Joshua 1: 7 – 9).

I know that was a long quote but you need to see it all. Right here God gave Joshua the choice to fail or succeed. He even gave him the crib notes for the test. In other words, God didn’t make success a mystery. Success or failure lay at Joshua’s feet so God showed him the path to success. He gave him all the secrets. That is what God does.

Here is my point. Father wants us to succeed so He has given us the cheat sheet. “Here are all the answers,” He says. All we have to do is use them. How many points do you find in the quote from the book of Joshua? I counted seven. The real question is, how many of them are we doing. This is how we choose life and blessing. Joshua didn’t have to take God’s advice. We know he did because he enjoyed success and led the nation of Israel into the promised land. He chose blessing. He chose life.

Here are two of the big seven. One, do not fear. If we live in fear, we fertilize death and curse. Second, and this is a really big one, meditate in this Word day and night. When we meditate in the Word, we are actively choosing life and blessing.

This passage from Joshua teaches how to choose to live in the blessing. We need to follow where the Lord is leading. We need to communicate with him so that we see his ways generally and the specific path he points out for us. We can choose to be blessed. We can choose the abundant life Jesus said he came here to give us. I think if you will follow the advice God gave Joshua, if you will learn how to commune with Jesus and actually do it, that you will find yourself in overflow of everything good. Please, choose life, choose the blessing. It’s your choice.

Blessing is a Choice

Deuteronomy 28: 2, 45          NIV

All these blessing will come upon you and accompany you if you obey the Lord your God. 45 All these curses will come upon you. They will pursue you and overtake you until you are destroyed, because you did not obey the Lord you God and observe the commands and decrees he gave you.

He replied, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.” Luke 11: 28 (NIV).

I call on heaven and earth as witnesses today that I have offered you life or death, blessings or curses. Choose life so that you and your descendants will live. Deuteronomy 30: 19 (GW).

Lest we be deceived, thinking God has changed His tune since we are living in the New Testament, I included the words of Jesus from the gospel of Luke.  There is blessing in obedience.  No one wants to hear this, I know.  Obedience is not at the top of our favored subjects. We should not mourn, though.  There is plenty of good news here.  Yes, if we do not obey, the curse, which is in the land, will overtake us.  You do know that there is a curse out there, right?  It came with the fall of humanity, but God’s blessing is bigger than the curse.  And, it is elective.  Anyone who chooses to participate in the blessing, rather than the curse, can.  We learn that from Deuteronomy 30: 19.  God allows us to choose.  So, we can choose to be blessed and why wouldn’t we?

Well, because the price is obedience and, honestly, our generation has a problem with being told what to do, even by God.  We are very self-aware and self-guided.  That is the choice we make.  Will we humble ourselves to the direction of the Lord, or will we adhere to our own form of wisdom?  The answer seems obvious, doesn’t it, but if you observe the world around you, I think you will find very few people who are actually submitted to the Lord.

The other question which must be addressed is, “What, or whom, are we to obey?”  Jesus answered that question in Luke.  We must first humble ourselves to hearing and receiving the Word of God.  Then we obey what the Word says.  That’s it.  Listen and obey.  It sounds easy but it requires slaying our egos and that is hard.  Still, I think I would rather have the blessing than build an altar to my already over-inflated ego.  What about you?!

Choices

James 4:4

You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

James had such a gentle and tender way of getting the point across, didn’t he? Well, sometimes we need someone to care enough to speak to us plainly. This is Jesus’ brother writing to us today. I said yesterday that we are called to be different from the world. James makes it much more plain. He said that “being in bed” with the enemy makes us adulteresses. Ouch! If that doesn’t sting just a bit you better take your pulse.

Of course, we all want to fit in and of course, the things of the world are attractive. God isn’t trying to deny us luxuries or pleasures, He just wants you to purchase them through the Kingdom instead of through the world. Why? Because the Kingdom is life and the world is death. God is trying to get life to us but we, being the great intellectual giants that we are, keep choosing death. I have always loved this passage from Deuteronomy, “I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants” (Deuteronomy 30: 19). Father gives us the choice, like a multiple choice question on a test but before we can even choose, He gives us the answer. None the less, how many of us continue to choose death over life, the curse rather than the blessing?

To choose to live in the world and to be of the world is to choose death and curse. Jesus said that we are not of this world any more than he was. We live here but we are not “of” this world. Our choices are to be made on Kingdom principles, expecting Kingdom results. Brother James says it rather plainly – to be friends of the world, in other words living as the world lives, makes us enemies of God. Now here is the question. Do you think James wrote these words to believers or the unsaved? This is an important question because if you believe, like I do, that he wrote to believers then you understand that we, God’s own chosen and beloved, can become enemies of God by being lovers of the world. That is a huge statement. James saw a dynamic taking place in his own time and sought to address it. His passion poured out for his people. Let us, therefore, seriously contemplate our own place, whether in the world or in the Kingdom. What choices are we making on a daily basis that shift us from living in Christ to living in the world. Choose to be unique, peculiar. Choose life. Choose Christ.

Living Long

Genesis 6: 3

Then the Lord said, “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, because he also is flesh; nevertheless his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.”

How long should we live? In this passage from Genesis God says a hundred and twenty years. Personally, I think that should be a minimum because this was after the fall. In other words, man in his fallen state should live to be one hundred and twenty years old. How long, then, should redeemed, restored people live? Before the fall and before the curse presumably people would live longer. Or before people learned how to die young, they lived longer.

Even in the depths of our disobedience people had an expectation of long life. In Psalm 90: 10 Moses wrote, “As for the days of our life, they contain seventy years, or if due to strength, eighty years, yet their pride is but labor and sorrow; for soon it is gone and we fly away.” In this Psalm Moses wrote about the Israelites’ fallen state and how they had invoked the anger of the Lord. It is a lament, not a declaration. He is almost weeping as he writes this dirge. The Israelites were not living in the grace of the Lord. They had spurned the loving grace of God and chosen instead to worship idols. Still you couldn’t kill these guys. The life of God within them continued to bear witness in their flesh despite their gross disobedience. And to further undermine this life span limitation, Moses lived to the age of one hundred and twenty. Furthermore, “Although Moses was one hundred and twenty years old when he died, his eye was not dim, nor his vigor abated” (Deuteronomy 34: 7). Moses was still climbing mountains when he reached the end of his life. He wasn’t feeble and broken and you are not meant to be either. We are children of the King, endowed with the life giving power of God Almighty living in our bones. He that called forth life from the very beginning is alive and well in every cell of our bodies right now. Only, we have the switch. We can be in life and health or we can increase in sickness. God said, “I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants” (Deuteronomy 30: 19). Why, then, do we keep choosing death? For goodness sakes, Moses was 80 years old when he went into ministry. “Moses was eighty years old and Aaron eighty-three, when they spoke to Pharaoh” (Exodus 7: 7). His ministry was just beginning. The job that he is still known for didn’t even begin until he was what some may consider advanced in years and then he stayed in that job for forty years. Let’s get a revelation folks. We have been lied to.

Now let us quickly look at Psalm 91: 16, “With a long life I will satisfy him and let him see My salvation.” While the 90th Psalm was written in the context of disobedience and God’s anger with the rebellious Israelites, the 91st Psalm is written about they who trust in the Lord. If you have section headers you may want to look in your Bible at this Psalm. My chapter heading reads “Security of the one who trusts in the Lord.” This is a direct promise to you if you live your life in Christ as we have been taught. If you trust God with you daily life then you should move out of the 90th Psalm into the 91st and expect to be satisfied with a long life. The late Kenneth Hagin said, “If you hear I have passed on you will know that I got satisfied.” And he did. He was satisfied with a long life and just laid his body down and moved to heaven.

Live as long as you want to and remain in good health the whole time. Be active and fruitful. Our Father has said “And I shall fulfill the number of your days” (Exodus 23: 26). So don’t go early unless you are satisfied. If you want to see your great-grandchildren then hang around and rely on the life giving power of our Heavenly Father.