The Choice Is Yours

Deuteronomy 30:15-20See, I have set before you this day life and good, and death and evil; in that I command you this day to love the Lord your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments and His statutes and His judgments, that you may live and multiply: and the Lord your God shall bless you in the land where you go to possess it. But if your heart turns away, so that you will not hear, but shalt be drawn away, and worship other gods, and serve them; I denounce unto you this day, that you shall surely perish, and that you shall not prolong your days upon the land, where you pass over Jordan to go to possess it. I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both you and your seed may live: that you may love the Lord your God, and that you may obey His voice, and that you may cleave unto Him: for He is your life, and the length of your days: that you may dwell in the land which the Lord swore unto your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.

God has given us a free will. However, for us to exercise our free will there must be choices. So God has set before us choices. But choices are inherent with consequences; things that result from the choices we make. We have to live with the choices we make and sometimes the results of our choices are hard to live with. Among all the choices we face, God has set before us the choice of good, life, and blessing or evil, curses, and death.

The Path To Life: This path is a path of love. We travel this path when we make the choice to love the Lord our God and walk in His ways. We travel this path when we keep His commandments and His statutes and His judgments. We must choose to obey his voice and cleave unto Him in order to walk this path. The Results: We shall be blessed by the Lord our God wherever we go–v. 16. We shall live and multiply. This path leads to a promised land. For Israel it was a physical, temporal land here on this earth. For the Christians it is a spiritual, eternal kingdom in heaven.

The Path To Death: We walk this path when we choose to turn away from God and when we refuse to hear Him. Choosing this path, we are drawn away and worship other things and serve them. This path is a path of evil in varying degrees. The Results: Those traveling this path will shorten their days and perish. This path results in death. There is a physical death, but the worst is the spiritual, eternal death. The Bible refers to this as the second death.

God’s Plea:Choose life, that you and your seed may live”–v. 19.

Counsel For Living

Psalm 37:1-10:Fret not because of evildoers, neither be envious against the workers of iniquity. For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb. Trust in the Lord, and do good; so shall you dwell in the land, and verily you shall be fed. Delight yourself also in the Lord: and He shall give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way unto the Lord; trust also in Him; and He shall bring it to pass. And He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your judgment as the noonday. Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him: fret not yourself because of him who prospers in his way, because of the man who brings wicked devices to pass. Cease from anger, and forsake wrath: fret not yourself in any wise to do evil. For evildoers shall be cut off: but those that wait upon the Lord, shall inherit the earth. For yet a little while, and the wicked shall not be: yes, you shall diligently consider his place, and it shall not be.

Concerning Evil-doers:

  1. Evil-doers’ day shall come. They “shall be cut off”–v. 9.
  2. God will give them up to uncleanness, to vile affections, and to a reprobate mind (Romans 1:24, 26, 28).
  3. “They shall be cut down like grass and wither away”–v. 2. “They shall be cast into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 13:41-42).

Concerning Us:

  1. Fret not nor be envious of the evil-doers–v. 1. The worry will wear away our joy. The envy will take away our contentment with our own advantages and possessions. The treasures of the evil-doers are temporal while ours are laid up in heaven and are eternal.
  2. We are told to cease from anger, and forsake wrath–v. 8. We must not allow anger and wrath to direct our actions, words nor paths.
  3. We are to trust in the Lord and do good-v. 3. We must trust in the Lord with all our heart, and lean not unto our own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5). For God knows your needs and shall supply them (Matt. 6:25-33).
  4. We must delight our self (find our pleasure) in the Lord–v. 4. We must focus on Him; who He is, His greatness, love, grace, and mercy. We must focus on what He has done for us–a new birth, a new relationship, and a new home. We are to draw near to Him and He will draw near unto us (James 4:8).
  5. We are to commit (give) our way unto the Lord–v. 5. If, “In all our ways we acknowledge Him, He shall direct our paths” (Proverbs 3:6). “He shall bring it to pass”–v. 5. “He shall bring forth our righteousness as the light, and our judgment as the noonday”–v. 6.
  6. “Rest in the Lord”–v. 7. Let Him do the work, and wait patiently upon the Lord for He will do it–v. 7, 9.

God’s Remedy For Anxiety

Philippians 4:4-7:Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice. Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

We all have times when anxiety creeps into our lives. God has given us instruction in the scriptures above about what we need to do at these times. Let us look at God’s remedy for Anxiety.

Rejoice: The first thing we are instructed to do is to rejoice. No, we don’t rejoice about what is causing our anxiety. We are to rejoice in the Lord. This means to rejoice in who God is, rejoice in what He knows, and rejoice in what He can do. We are to rejoice about the fact that the Lord is at hand. He is with us as we deal with the source of our anxiety. We are not alone. He has promised that he will never leave us nor forsake us to the things that we have to face in this life. “Rejoice…and again I say, rejoice. Rejoice means to be joyful and glad. We express this joy and gladness in songs, hymns, singing and making melody in our hearts to the Lord.

Share: Let your moderation (calmness, trust) be known unto all men. The source of our calmness and trust is the nearness of the Lord–”the Lord is at hand”. Let others see and experience your calmness and testify to them of your calmness and the reason for it. Speak to them about the Lord’s presence with you. Talking about the promise of the Lord’s nearness also increases our faith and trust and helps us to be calm.

Resist the anxiety: Be careful (anxious) for nothing. Choose to resist it.

Pray: In everything by praying humbly with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. Tell God about what is causing you to worry and be anxious. Tell him what you want and thank Him for what He is going to do. Ask Him to give you His peace which passes all understanding.

God’s Answer: You will receive the peace of God (perfect peace) which passes all understanding. Even you will not understand the peace that shall come upon you. This peace cannot be understood or explained. It must be experienced. Only through the experience of this peace can we begin to understand it. When this peace comes from God it is God’s way of saying, “you don’t have to worry about it any more”. God is saying, “I have it”. This peace of God shall keep you heart and mind through Christ Jesus.

Two Kinds of Prayer / Worship

Luke 18:9-14:And he spoke this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalts himself shall be abased; and he that humbles himself shall be exalted.

The scene here is the temple and the activity is prayer. However, this deals with all of our life; our prayer, worship and how we live our lives and treat others. These two people represent everyone who has the spirit of the Pharisee or that of the publican.

The Pharisee: He uses the personal pronoun “I” five times. He speaks of and trusts in his works. He is proud and puffed up with his works of righteousness. But God says, “We are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousness is as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away”. The Pharisee has made himself the standard by which all others should be measured. He does not acknowledge God’s word as it applies to him. There is no confession of sin or plea for forgiveness and cleansing. He exalts himself. It says he, “Prayed thus with himself“.

The publican: He stands afar off, not feeling worthy to go any further into the temple. He feels sorrowful, and is crushed by the awareness of his sin. He is ashamed, humble, bowing before God and not able to lift up his eyes toward heaven. He confesses his sin and asks God to be merciful to him.

The Declaration: The publican went away justified and the Pharisee did not. God honored the prayer of the publican. Those that exalt themselves shall be abased (brought down). Those that humble themselves shall be exalted (raised up).

We can see the spirit of these two men in the world around us today. The spirit of the Pharisee can creep into us from time to time if we are not careful. Every time I read these verses I have to reexamine myself and say, “God be merciful to me a sinner”.

The Eyes Of The Lord

Proverbs 15:3 The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good.

The ever present eyes of God. His eyes are in every place. We can’t hide from God. He sees what we do and say no matter wherever we are. He sees the evil and He sees the good.

  1. Proverbs 5:21; Psalms 33:14 The ways of man are before the eyes of the Lord. He watches everyone and the way each lives his / her life. He thinks about us and how we live.

Penetrating eyes: 1 Samuel 16:7 tells us that, “The eyes of the Lord penetrate to the very depth of our being.” Nothing is hid from Him.

Exploring eyes: 1 Chronicles tells us that, “The Lord searches all hearts, and understands all the imaginations of the thoughts.” He knows us better than we know our selves.

Eyes watching over the righteous: Psalm 34:15; 1 Peter 3:12 “The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers”. His eyes are upon us and His ears are open unto us. This tells us that He cares and is concerned about the things that are going on in our lives.

2 Chronicles 16:9The eyes of the Lord run to and from throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him”. He will take action in our lives when we need Him. On our behalf means, our benefit, support, and defense. He watches throughout the whole earth.

Finding grace in the eyes of the Lord: Genesis 6:3 “But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord”. God saw the wickedness in the world in Noah’s day. He also beheld Noah who was a just man and walked with God. God watched over Noah and directed him in what he needed to do. God will do the same for us as we walk with Him and live a life that is pleasing to Him.

Taking On The Character Of God–The Fruit Of The Spirit

Galatians 5:22The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

The fruit of the Spirit is the character of God. Spiritual maturity is related to the degree that the fruit of the Spirit is manifest in our life. The fruit of the Spirit is God’s fruit. It is an outward manifestation of the character of God within the Christian in the form of the Holy Spirit. This fruit does not issue from the natural man. It is God lifting us up above the natural character of mankind. Jesus demonstrated this love as he hung on the cross. After the beating and other things he had experienced he was able in all of his agony to pray for the people who had put him there. He said, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do” Luke 23:34.

  1. The individual fruit. God’s love exceeds the natural love of mankind. The joy is the joy of the Lord “that is unspeakable and full of glory” 1 Peter 2:8. This peace passes all understanding therefore it can not be explained. “The peace of God passes all understanding” Philippians 4:7. Like the other things of God, this peace not only passes all understand and cannot be explained but it must be experienced. This longsuffering is God’s. God is longsuffering with us and desires for us to have this same longsuffering toward others. This gentleness and goodness exceeds any gentleness and goodness that man might exhibit in his natural ability. We can operate on God’s faith level as the Spirit moves us. During this time we are very aware that we don’t naturally have this strong a faith. However we realize that God is at work and we dare not back away from it. God’s meekness as seen in Jesus does not seek to exalt itself. This temperance (self control) is God’s enabling us to be under control in the most difficult circumstances.
  2. Our life witness. As the fruit of the Spirit dominates our life others will see Jesus in us. They will see the character of God in our lives and know that there is something different about us.

Learning Spiritual Communication–Part 3

1 Corinthians 12:8 To one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit.

Communicating in ministry to others: The Spirit manifests Himself through us through the gifts of the Spirit.

  1. On the day of Pentecost:They were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Acts 2:4). The Holy Spirit enabled them to express themselves in tongues other than their own. Paul said, “For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prays, but my understanding is unfruitful. What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also” (1 Corinthians 14:14-15).
  2. Bringing to our remembrance: Sometimes the Holy Spirit brings to our remembrance what God has spoken to us (John 14:26). In this way the Holy Spirit gives us words of wisdom and knowledge from God’s word.
  3. Words of wisdom and knowledge: Sometimes the Spirit gives us words of wisdom and or words of knowledge (1 Corinthians 12:8). These words of wisdom and words of knowledge relate to something specific to that moment and as we speak them we know that the Spirit has given them. These words of wisdom and words of knowledge are often for someone in our presence and are to be spoken to them.
  4. Words of faith: Sometimes He gives us words of faith, and even as we speak them, we know we naturally don’t have that kind of faith. But as we speak the words of faith and act on them, we see God doing something that is not natural to the physical realm and is hard to explain.

Learning Spiritual Communication–Part 2

John 4:23The hour comes, and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeks such to worship him.

Communicating in Worship: Learning to communicate spiritually involves worship and we are to grow in our ability to worship God. Communication with God in worship is to be done in the spirit and in truth. Having been born of God’s Spirit we now have the ability to be true worshipers of God and to worship in spirit and in truth. We can worship God on a higher level. We can worship God in the spirit and not in the flesh. Worshiping in the spirit goes beyond being there physically and physically singing the song. Because of our spiritual life we are enabled to experience the presence of God and to make a spiritual connection. In worship God becomes the focus of our attention. Worship is a reaching out to God and a seeking of his presence. Worship is an acknowledgment, and a celebration of the worth of God. Some of our songs are directed toward God as prayers or praise. Some of our songs are directed toward others gathered together there and declares the character, power, love, mercy, grace and works of God. These are songs of testimony. As we learn to communicate through worship we will grow in our experience of what it means to be a Christian.

Learning Spiritual Communication–Part 1

Luke 11:1 Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.

Learning to talk is a necessary part of growing up. As a new-born babe must learn how to talk physically, we as new born Christians must learn how to communicate spiritually. This spiritual communication relates to prayer.

Communicating in prayer:
In the Spirit:
God’s Spirit assists us in the forming of thoughts and words that we are to speak. “The Spirit helps our weakness: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered” (Romans 8:26). The Spirit helps us pray as “he makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God” (Romans 8:27). Prayer is a part of the Christian experience and we are to grow in our ability to pray.
In faith.Let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavers is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. A double minded man is unstable in all his ways” (James 1:6-8).
Jesus gave instruction on prayer in Matthew 6:9-13. Prayer is communication with God. Prayer is to be directed to our Father, which is in heaven. The word Father acknowledges our spiritual birth by His Spirit and our unity as the family of God. The word “our”, acknowledges relationship with other Christians as brothers and sisters in the family of God. Hallowed be thy name is acknowledging the holiness and sacredness of God and His name. Prayer is to include an offering of praise; to acknowledge and declare the worth, majesty, glory, and power of God. Prayer is to be in submission to the rule and will of God. Prayer is to be related to our daily needs and those of our brothers and sisters. Prayer is to be offered from a forgiving heart and should ask for God’s forgiveness. Prayer should seek God’s help in the face of temptation and deliverance from evil. Prayer is offered based on God’s kingdom, His will, His power, and His glory.
Learning how to pray: A Christian can learn how to pray by examining the prayers found in the Bible, especially in the New Testament. Examine the focus of the prayers. What is the person praying for? Notice the motive for the prayer. You will find that some of the prayers are for the person themselves, while other prayers are focused on the needs of others. Some of the prayers will be for both the person praying and for others. You will find that the prayers include things of the past, present and future. There are many good books on prayer. You might ask your pastor for the titles of some of these books.

Learning To Walk–Part 8

2 John 1:6This is love, that we walk after his commandments. This is the commandment, That, as ye have heard from the beginning, ye should walk in it.

Walking worthy of the Lord: We are to live our life in a way that expresses our esteem for the Lord. We are to live in a way that expresses how important the Lord is to us and how much we value our relationship with Him. Our life should also be an expression of our thankfulness for all that he has done for us. To do this we must walk Circumspectly.

Walk in Obedience: We are to “walk after his commandments.” God’s word is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path Psalm 119:105. We are to walk in the light of God’s word. His word will direct our paths. We must be doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving ourselves. “To whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness”? (Romans 6:16). Our obedience is to be an “obedience of faith” (Romans 16:26). We are to “bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).

I leave you with these words of Jesus, If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15).