Sermon -01-20-2008 - The Power of Choices
NORTHEAST HOUSTON COMMUNITY CHURCH
Sermon – The Power of Choices
Scripture: Deut 30:15-20
I have been trying to devote this month to providing some godly and scriptural encouragement for us to begin the New Year with. The type of year each of us will have will depend on the choices we make. I believe all of us want to have a happy New Year.
I have learned that if I want lasting happiness (joy) it can only come from a right relationship with God. There is no doubt that sin can provide pleasure and even happiness but it truly is only for a season.
Choices you and I make are a gift of God. God has given man the ability to make decisions on his own that will affect his/her life. The power to choose is very great and we make choices all day every day. To choose is to decide. Before we lie down at night we make a choice/decide as to what time to set the alarm, then we choose the time we eventually get up. We choose our clothes, our breakfast, the route to work, our speed; well I think you get the picture. We make hundreds or maybe thousands of choices each day. A robot or puppet cannot make choices therefore God did not make us like them. The power to choose is a gift of God and like all power in the hands of man it is subject to abuse.
Some of our choices are good ones and some are bad ones. I don’t think any of us purposely desire to make bad choices. To minimize bad choices and to maximize good ones it is imperative that we first have good information (knowledge) then we must understand that information (understanding), and thirdly we must properly apply information and understanding to get wisdom.
Definitions: Wisdom = Judgment; knowledge (intelligence)
Stupid c: lacking intelligence or reason :
Fool 1: a person lacking in judgment or prudence
In short; if a person desires Joy and happiness and the way to obtain it is given to them then the first of the three ingredients has been satisfied (knowledge) If the information is explained clearly to them then the second ingredients has been satisfied (understanding). Only that person can add the third being wisdom.
The making of bad choices due to incorrect or lack of knowledge can be called “stupid” But the deliberate ignoring of knowledge and having the knowledge made clear to your understanding either through your own intelligence or through teaching and a person choose to make bad choices, renders that individual to be placed in the category of being a fool.
Prov 4:7 7 Wisdom is the principal thing; Therefore get wisdom. And in all your getting, get understanding. NKJV
If you seek understanding you will seek knowledge to get greater understanding.
I believe that the freedom to chose given to man is one of God’s greatest gifts to us. After life was given to Adam, shortly thereafter he was given the freedom to choose.
Let us look at our focus passage and see a few examples of choices given and the power associated with the choice. This is the second time God told the people this through Moses (Deut 11:26-28) Moses was 120 yars in age.
15 "See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil, 16 in that I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments, His statutes, and His judgments, that you may live and multiply; and the Lord your God will bless you in the land which you go to possess.
Some choices in our lives are very critical, stopping at red light, speeding, choice of doctors, choice of mates and others. They could be called, “life and death choices.” But there are none more important than the ones we make that affect our relationship with God. God has preserved for us this day some examples. In verse 15 the Israelites were give a choice and it is the same choice we have.
Set before them was life and good (Prosperity (NIV, TLB)) or death and evil (curse/adversity). Now which one would you choose? The first question I would as is, how can I get life and the good ? Here is a natural request for information/knowledge. No doubt God had anticipated this question so He give the information.
1. Love God
Matt 22:36-38 36 "Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?" 37 Jesus said to him, "'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.'* 38 This is the first and great commandment. NKJV
2. Walk (live) in His ways
Simply put it means to live He would live. Jesus came to earth to demonstrate that walk/life. The more you know of Jesus the more you will know how to walk.
Eph 5:8-9 8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light NKJV
We are to walk in Christ
Rev 21:23-24 The Lamb is its light. 24 And the nations of those who are saved* shall walk in its light, NKJV
3. Keep His commandments, statues and judgments.
These three are about the same they all fall under the heading of God’s commandments.
Matt 19:17 17 So He said to him, "Why do you call Me good?* No one is good but One, that is, God.* But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments." NKJV
Remember the choice of life or death? The connection is made here.
1 John 5:2-3 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments. 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. NKJV
If we love Jesus we will keep his commandments.
John 14:15-16 15 "If you love Me, keep My commandments. NKJV
If we do this we are promised that the Lord God will bless us and we will have eternal life.
John 3:16- 16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
17 But if your heart turns away so that you do not hear, and are drawn away, and (you choose to) worship other gods and (choose to) serve them, 18 I announce to you today that you shall surely perish; you shall not prolong your days in the land which you cross over the Jordan to go in and possess.
Let me address this just a little. I don’t know of anyone that will admit that they are serving other gods rather than Jehovah.
Worship (verb) 1 : to honor or reverence as a divine being or supernatural power 2 : to regard with great or extravagant respect, honor, or devotion <a celebrity worshipped by her fans>
1. Respect - 1 a: to consider worthy of high regard : b: to refrain from interfering with
How much respect do you have for God? Is there anything in your life that you hold in greater respect that God or Christ? I know that there are people that respect their mates more than God. I know there are people that respect what others say of versus what the Bible says. There are people that respect their time, processions, life style more that God. We all make the respect choices every day. How would you evaluate yourself?
2. Honor 1 a: to regard or treat with honor or respect b: to confer honor on2 a: to live up to or fulfill the terms of. a showing of usually merited respect, to esteem in public.
We honor God with our words and our the living (walk) of our lives. When people live and act outside the will of the Father they are denying that they are of the Father
Matt 10:32-33 32 "Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. 33 But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven. NKJV
The same rule applies to people that live and act outside the will of Christ. We in fact dishonor Christ. My constant prayer is that I never do anything that will bring shame (dishonor) to the name of Christ. That should be every Christians words to live by.
John 5:23 23 that all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him. NKJV
People back then are no different than people today. They said then that they honored God, probably with their version of “God is good, yes God is good all the time?” People gives words of honor in prayers, teachings, preaching’s and testimonies but their words fall short before God as does their worship.
Matt 15:8-9 8 "These people draw near to Me with their mouth, And* honor Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me. 9 And in vain they worship Me, NKJV
A conversation consist of listening and speaking. Many people not only honor God with an unconnected heart when they speak, but also when they pretend to listen to what He has to say and do not honor Him by obeying.
3. Devotion - 1 a: religious fervor (passion). b: the fact or state of being ardently dedicated and loyal (faithful).
I admitted to you that I have learned to accept that every Christian I know or every member will not have the same passion for God, Christ, His Church and His word as I do. I also accept that I do not have the same level as some others that have gone on before me. So I strive to reach a higher and higher level because it is a form of worship and God and Christ deserve the highest form of worship I can give them.
This level of devotion or passion cannot come from the outside it is an internal desire and emotion. It must come from within your heart not from someone else’s.
There are people that are more devoted to their families, mates, jobs, and even “churches” than they are to God and Christ. They will also serve these things before and more than they will serve God.
Again I ask you to evaluate where the number one priority of your devotion lies as we begin 2008. If it is not God, Christ and His church then admit that and make the necessary changes. I am not talking about kicking all these other things to the curb but only putting them in their proper place.
The Choice is between life or death, being blessed or being cursed.
Deut 11:26-27 26 "Behold, I set before you today a blessing and a curse: 27 the blessing, if you obey the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you today; 28 and the curse, if you do not obey the commandments of the Lord your God…
Just so you don’t think curses applied only to the OT, there are related curses in the NT.
Mark 16:16-17 16 He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. NKJV
John 3:18 18 "He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. NKJV
God is Serious
19 I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live;
This is a serious verse. God is proclaiming this so emphatically that He is calling into hearing both heaven and earth. I is almost like saying I mean this s much I want two infallible witnesses to hear it.
Also God said in His word that by the witness of two or three a matter is established.
Deut 19:15 by the mouth of two or three witnesses the matter shall be established. NKJV
God did not have to say or do this because God cannot lie. This was done for the benefit of the hearers and us readers today.
God gives them the choice and the advice on what to choose. Isn’t that a great loving God?
God has and is giving every sinner a choice, be they non-Christian sinners or Christian sinners, we all have to choose and often we have to make similar choice throughout the day when tempted.
Obedience to God’s commands always includes a blessing.
20 that you may love the Lord your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days; and that you may dwell in the land which the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them." NKJV
Therein again lies the choice like Israel, we can choose life or death, good or evil for us. We have the knowledge, and if I have not given you all the understanding, the understanding is available. All that is left is the application (wisdom). To ignore the knowledge and understand caused us to be counted among the stupid and to lack the judgment (wisdom) numbers us among the fools.
Isn’t God awesome? He is full of love yet He is a just God. He is full of grace and mercy because He wants to save us. Give God the Glory and give God the praise for He is worthy. Let us Worship Him. He chooses you. You choose life.
Jesus had a choice.
4. He could have stayed in heaven but He chose not to.
5. He could have left man to die in his sins but He chose not to.
6. He could have called 7 legions of angels while in the Garden, but He chose not to.
7. He could have come down from the cross but He chose not to.
8. He could have chosen to let me be lost forever but He chose not to.
Knowing all this
1. I choose to serve Him,
2. I choose to worship Him,
3. I choose t lift Him up.
4. I CHOOSE JESUS.
22 "For if you carefully keep all these commandments which I command you to do — to love the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways, and to hold fast to Him —
23 then the Lord will drive out all these nations from before you, and you will dispossess greater and mightier nations than yourselves.
24 Every place on which the sole of your foot treads shall be yours: from the wilderness and Lebanon, from the river, the River Euphrates, even to the Western Sea, shall be your territory.
25 No man shall be able to stand against you; the Lord your God will put the dread of you and the fear of you upon all the land where you tread, just as He has said to you.
26 "Behold, I set before you today a blessing and a curse:
27 the blessing, if you obey the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you today;
28 and the curse, if you do not obey the commandments of the Lord your God, but turn aside from the way which I command you today, to go after other gods which you have not known.
The most important things in life are the thoughts you choose to think.—Marcus Aurelius
The Choice Behind The Sound of Music
Rosemaria Von Trapp, one of the famous “Sound of Music” children, has this to say about her famous parents, Baron Georg and Maria Von Trapp, who fled Nazi-occupied Austria instead of cooperating with the Nazis:
Only yesterday I talked to high school students—sophomores—who were doing research papers on the Holocaust of Hitler in Germany. They wanted me to talk about the Nazis. I told them that Hitler gave us a symbol of a cross with hooks on it. But our Christian faith gives us a symbol of a cross that brings freedom and resurrection. The world, you know, offers us a glossy cross with hooks in it. My father and mother had to make a choice. They chose the cross of Christ.*
Morgan, R. J. (2000). Nelson's complete book of stories, illustrations, and quotes (electronic ed.) (554). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.
* Author’s interview with Maria Von Trapp, September, 1994.