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.

Don’t Do It Now

Joshua 1: 8

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.

You’ve heard the popular saying, “Do it Now.” It was a great message and helped a lot of us in our everyday life. In fact, that saying has become part of the cultural jargon of our age. So, why am I telling you not to do it now? There is a time to be still and that is the subject of this Word of the Day.

Have you ever sat down to meditate and your mind been flooded with the myriad of things you need to do? Of course. Me too. We run at such a fast pace at times that it is challenging, no, very challenging to slow down physically, much less mentally, long enough to meditate.

Today’s verse is one of my favorites because it is so poignant. Moses has just died and Joshua is about to take over for him. Yahweh Father spoke with him regarding this huge task and God gave Him the best advice He had. Today’s verse is that advice. Now, to my way of thinking, if meditation is the single piece of advice God gave the one who was to lead His people, Israel, then it must be really important. Note that God didn’t say, “Pray Joshua, make sure you pray every day.” No, He told him to meditate. So, I took that to say that meditation is really important stuff. So, I set a goal to meditate daily.

Wow, what a challenge that turned out to be. First, I couldn’t sit still. I used Dr. Jim Richard’s guided meditations to help me learn to calm my physiology. Then, I found my mind was running rampant. Dr. Mark Virkler taught me Psalm 46: 10, “Be still and know that I am God, (KJV).” Well, easier said than done but I knew this stillness was important. The NASB says, “Cease striving and know that I am God.” Wow, that is loud. It goes along with some of our recent Words of the Day about letting God work in your life. I needed to master this skill, and I finally did. One of the things I had to learn, though, is “Do not do it now.” I had to discipline myself to let things wait. I had a to do list with each item prioritized. I knew the most important things to get done but I actually treated them all as if they were “A” priorities. If something came off of my master list and onto my daily list, then it felt to me like an imperative. Those things haunted me when I tried to meditate. Additionally, when I slowed down a tick, all sorts of other to do’s and ideas came to mind. Finally, I learned to put my to do list or even just a pad of paper and a pen beside me when I sat down to meditate. As those things came to mind, I wrote them down and went back to meditation. Sometimes it was more of a mind purge than meditation but then again, that turned out to be one of the benefits of meditation. Some of the things God had been trying to show me for ages freely flowed out of my sub-consciousness as soon as I got still for a moment.

Whatever your “A” priority is, and I am hoping meditation is one of them, you may have to learn, as I did, not to do everything else which comes to your mind. We have to learn to calm ourselves down and stick to our task. Writing down those other things is one way to help you stay on task. You cannot always do everything now and get the priority items done. Those are usually the more involved tasks, the ones which take a bit of time and concentration. It is so easy to do the little minute tasks instead of sticking to the big, important item. You will feel like you got a lot done but you will not be accomplishing the important, life altering tasks. Put these on your schedule, block out time for them on your calendar. Close your office door, turn off you cell phone and focus. Breathe deeply and settle your physiology. Breathe and relax your mind. Turn your eyes on Jesus. You will see that he is there with you and that he is already paying attention to you. Then ask him to help you with your task. Invite the Holy Spirit to be the leader. Put your mind on them and let them guide and support you. I promise you, this is a better way to work than the haphazard way I did.

Prayerful Meditation

Jeremiah 29: 12 – 14

Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you,’ declares the Lord, ‘and I will restore your fortunes.’

Yesterday we talked about delighting yourself in the Lord and meditating on His Word day and night. This morning I was thinking about that. I said that the words from Joshua 1:8 should be proclaimed routinely and loudly. As I meditated on this very thing this morning, I thought, if there is one piece of advice I would give it is to soak in the Word, but then I questioned myself as to why. Here is the answer I found for myself.

If someone were to ask me what the most important thing about Christianity is, I would say a close and personal relationship with the three persons of the trinity. However, that begs the question, how does one develop that intimate relationship. We are all different with different strengths. Some people connect with the Father more intimately through prayer, some through meditation. There are those who reach their most connected point in rituals while others reach God through the Bible. These are all good and proper ways to connect with God and we should all participate in all forms of communion with God.

The Lord teaches us by His own words how to connect with Him through this verse. After my meditation this morning I was a bit surprised to open my Bible and find this passage staring at me. Jeremiah 29: 11 is famous. It is God’s declaration that He has good plans for you and your future. It is of interest, though, that the next words out of His mouth are about seeking Him. He even promises that if we seek Him, we will find Him. Notice, however, that we must seek Him with our hearts, and not only that but with all of our heart. He wants to connect you to His good plans for you but you must connect with Him first.

So, what does this have to do with yesterday’s verse and the Word? If someone asked what one thing I would advise them to do to develop their relationship with God would be, I would advise them according to Joshua 1: 8, read your Bible and meditate therein. There is a reason God gave that Word of wisdom to Joshua. In the Word we find God. I believe in prayer, don’t think I don’t, but the Word is our anchor and our beacon. For persons who will develop into prayer warriors, they get their foundation first from the Word. It is where we find God as we develop into the people we will be. It is, therefore, where I would start everyone. For the visionaries, the Word becomes their anchor. We want those people doing what they are gifted to do but they must be tethered in God’s reality. Those who are easily bound to routine will find all kinds of experiences in the Word, the explainable yet unassailable.

We cannot leave the wisdom of God aside. As you grow in the things of God, learn to pray, learn to meditate, develop your visionary capacity, engage with your angels but forget not the Word. Do not set aside the one piece of advice Yahweh gave Joshua when he had to take over leadership of the nation of Israel, meditate in the Word day and night. Then add today’s verse to that, seek the Lord with all your heart and you will find Him. Pray to Him and He will listen. It is His promise to you. Pray and meditate over the Word. Allow God to reveal His hidden mysteries. Call upon Him, seek Him and receive of His great and wonderful bounty.

His Ways

Psalm 145: 17

The Lord is righteous in all His ways and kind in all His deeds.

I like this Psalm, as many of you do, and I have several passages highlighted. As I read it today, I kept coming back to this verse. I imagine that for most of us there is no revelation in this verse. We expect God to be righteous and at a minimum we want to believe He is kind in all His deeds. Still, I find value in reviewing this verse for two reasons. First, it is good to be reminded of His goodness. Second, when we ponder this verse, it grows in our understanding.

God is good, all His ways are righteous. That means God isn’t out there performing badness. Isn’t that good news? He bring righteousness to everything. That means that everything we invite Him into enjoys that same quality of righteousness. When He comes to our event, He brings with Him everything that is good. The only way He knows how to be is right; doing right, being righteous. All His interactions with each of us are filled with righteousness. God will always do right by you.

Mediation on this verse leads us to examine each word. The word “all” captures my attention. I am especially taken by God’s kindness in “all” His deed. What does that mean if you rephrase it? Every single act of God is kind. Now if you are a person who believes in the Bible, that can have a major impact on your theology. If everything God does, every act, is an act of kindness, then He never does an unkind thing to anyone. That necessarily means that He did not blow out my knee even though some people told me He did. It means He never gave anyone cancer. He never, ever, in all the millennia, did an unkind thing. Everything He has ever done has been kind.

Soak that in. He didn’t allow you to get fired from your job so that you would learn to seek Him. He didn’t break you so He could make you. His way of making you, actually, is to love you into the version of you that He sees when He looks at you. He loves you and only wants the best for you because His kindness extends to the way He thinks of you and the plans He has for you. Every thought He has towards you is kind.

As we expound on the little words in a verse, they expand our understanding and our insight. Thinking our way through these kinds of verses illuminates the very nature of God. Then, as we begin to appreciate His inherent goodness, we grow in our trust in Him. Soon, the entire dynamic of one’s relationship with Him is altered for the good and forever.

Take your time with this little verse and let the Father’s kindness infiltrate your life.

3 Things

Psalm 34: 10


But they who seek the Lord shall not be in want of any good thing.

I am impressed again at the beginning of this week that there is a great spiritual key revealed in these few simple words. You know, if you could really hear God’s voice clearly you would surely be successful in everything you do. You would most assuredly be led down the best paths. You would have insight and wisdom that would be enviable.

This sort of grace comes through your intimate, warm relationship with the Lord. That warm relationship comes from your seeking Him with all your heart and strength. If you will do three things you will find tremendous results in a very short time. Start today. Read your Bible. Pray to your Dad. And spend a few minutes before Him in silence. Those three things will launch you into a new level with the Lord of Hosts. Don’t worry about how much you read or how long you pray. Just start where you are. That is where He expects you to begin. He doesn’t expect you to read as much everyday as someone who is in full time ministry. Just read it. Start in Matthew and just read a bit each day. Then spend a few minutes just talking to your Dad. Don’t pray elaborate prayers; simply talk with Him as your friend and father. I wouldn’t even worry about praying for all of the things you think you need. Spend those precious moments just being with Him. Then sit in silence for a few minutes. That’s it; three things that will quickly change your life. Today is a great day to start or start over.

Whiteboard – Version 2.0

Psalm 51: 10

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

In the March 1, 2016 Word of the Day I wrote about our hearts being like a whiteboard that we can erase and write upon as we wish. If there are bad messages there, we can erase them. Then we can write the truth upon our hearts. I have an updated version of that image which I would like to share with you today.

While in the mountains, I had some quiet meditations. Once, I looked in my heart and thought about the whiteboard I saw God approach it and pick up a marker. “Well, this is pretty curious,” I thought and just settled in to watch what was going to happen. Father began to write on my board (my heart). Can you guess what the first thing He wrote was and in what color? You guessed right! He is always about love first and of course, it was written in red. I sat there and watched Him write the things He says about me.

Later it dawned on me what a powerful revelation this truly is. We can allow the Father to write on the whiteboard of our hearts. He always writes truth and encouragement. If we allow Him to write on our hearts, we will always be strengthened. So, get into a quiet state of mind, close your eyes and picture yourself in a comfortable, overstuffed armchair. See Dad walk up to the whiteboard and pick up a marker. Later make sure that you record all that he wrote and remind yourself of those statements frequently. In this way, you can have the heart and the beliefs about yourself that God has, He can create in you the perfect heart.

Heart & Mouth

Psalm 19: 14                      Index Card 1

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

I am beginning a new series today. Many times I recommend that you take really meaningful verses and write them out on 3 X 5 index cards then put them in plain sight so that you can review them frequently. Well, it may please you to know that I take my own advice. Today’s verse is the first in a series of Ivey’s index cards. I hope you enjoy seeing which verses I have recorded in my scripture deck of cards.

This verse is first and foremost in my mind and, in my stack of cards, because my failures so often come out of my mouth. In truth, it is what is in our hearts which bubbles up and out of our mouths (Matthew 12: 34) and often in the most inconvenient of times. So, this verse reminds me to check the content of my heart and set a guard over my mouth (Psalm 141: 3).