* Choices given to us by God
God gave Adam responsibility for the garden and told him not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Rather than physically preventing him from eating, God gave Adam a choice and, thus, the possibility of choosing wrongly. God still gives us choices, and we, too, often choosing wrongly. These wrong choices may cause us pain, but they can help us learn and grow and make better choices in the future. Living with the consequences of our choices teaches us to think ad choose more carefully. (NLT)
* Why God gives us the freedom to make our own choices
Why would God place a tree in the garden and then forbid Adam to eat from it? God wanted Adam to obey, but God gave Adam the freedom to choose. Without choice, Adam would have been like a prisoner, and his obedience would have been hollow. The two trees provided an exercise in choice, with rewards for choosing to obey and sad consequences for choosing to disobey. when you are faced with the choice, always choose to obey God. (NLT)
Genesis 2:15-17 – The Lord God placed the man in the Garden of Eden to tend and care for it. But the Lord God gave him this warning: “You may freely eat any fruit in the garden except fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If you eat of its fruit, you will surely die.”
* What choices seem wise vs. what is wise
Good pasture and available water seemed like a wise choice to Lot at first. But he failed to recognize that wicked Sodom could provide temptations strong enough to destroy his family. Have you chosen to live or work in a “Sodom”? Even though you may be strong enough to resist the temptations, other members of your family may not. While God commands us to reach people in the “Sodom” near us, we must be careful not to become like the very people we are trying to reach. (NLT)
Genesis 13:12-13 – So whole Abram stayed in the land of Canaan, Lot moved his tents to a place near Sodom, among the cities of the plain. The people of this area were unusually wicked and sinned greatly against the Lord.
* Abraham made a good choice
We all know that there are consequences to any action we take. What we do can set into motion a series of events that may continue long after we’re gone. Unfortunately, when we are making a decision, most of us think only of the immediate consequences. These are often misleading because they are short-lived.
Abraham had a choice to make. His decision was between setting out with his family and belongings for parts unknown or staying right where he was. He had to decide between the security of what he already had and the uncertainty of traveling under God’s direction. All he had to go on was God’s promise to guide and bless him. Abraham could hardly have been expected to visualize how much of the future was resting on his decision of whether to go or stay, but his obedience affected the history of the world. His decision to follow God set into motion the development of the nation that God would eventually use as his own when he visited earth himself. When Jesus Christ came to earth, God’s promise was fulfilled; through Abraham the entire world was blessed.
You probably don’t know the long-term effects of most decisions you make. But shouldn’t the fact that there will be long-term results cause you to think carefully and seek God’s guidance as you make choices and take action today?
Although Abram had been demonstrating his faith through his actions, it was his belief in the Lord, not his actions that made Abram right with God. We, too, can have a right relationship with God by trusting him. Our outward actions—church attendance, prayer, good deeds—will not by themselves make us right with God. A right relationship is based on faith—the heartfelt inner confidence that God is who he says he is and does what he says he will do. Right actions will follow naturally as by-products. (NLT)
Genesis 15:6 – And Abram believed the Lord, and the Lord declared him righteous because of his faith.
* Why God chose Israel as a special nation
Why did God choose Israel as his nation? God knew that no nation on earth was good enough to deserve to be called his people, his “special treasure.” He chose Israel, not because of anything they had done, but in his love and mercy he chose Israel in spite of the wrong the nation had done and would do. Why did he want to have a special nation on earth? To represent his way of life, to teach his Word, and to be an agent of salvation to the world. “All the nations of the earth” would be blessed through Abraham’s descendants. Gentiles and kings would come to the Lord through Israel, predicted Isaiah. Through the nation of Israel, the Messiah, God’s chosen Son, would be born. God chose one nation and put it through a rigorous training program, so that one day it could be a channel for his blessings to the whole world. (NLT)
Exodus 19:5 – Now if you will obey me and keep my covenant, you will be my own special treasure from among all the nations of the earth; for all the earth belongs to me.
* Disobedience a foolish choice
It is amazing that God set before the Israelites a choice between blessings and curses. It is even more amazing that most of them, through their disobedience, chose the curses. We have the same fundamental choice today. We can live for ourselves or live in service to God. To choose our own way is to travel on a dead-end road but to choose God’s way is to receive eternal life. (NLT)
Deuteronomy 11:26 – “Today I am giving you the choice between a blessing and a curse!”
* Making right daily choices
Heroes are easier to admire than to define. They are seldom conscious of their moments of heroism, and others may not recognize their acts as heroic. Heroes simply do the right thing at the right time, whether or not they realize the impact their action will have. Perhaps the one quality they share is a tendency to think of others before they think of themselves. Boaz was a hero.
In his dealings with other people, he was always sensitive to their needs. His words to his employees, relatives, and others were colored with kindness. He offered help openly, not grudgingly. When he discovered who Ruth ways, he took several steps to help her because she had been faithful to his relative Naomi. When Naomi advised Ruth to request his protection, he was ready to marry her if the legal complications could be worked out.
Boaz not only did what was right; he also did it right away. Of course he could not foresee all that his actions would accomplish. He could not have known that the child he would have by Ruth would be an ancestor of both David and Jesus. He only met the challenge of taking the right action in the situation facing him.
We are faced with this challenge in our daily choices. Like Naomi’s nearer relative, we are often more concerned with making the easy choice than with making the right one. Yet more often than not, the right choice is clear. Ask God to give you a special awareness in your choices today as well as renewed commitment to make the right ones. (NLT)
Ruth 4:10 – “And with the land I have acquired Ruth, the Moabite widow of Mahlon, to be my wife. This way she can have a son to carry on the family name of her dead husband and to inherit the family property here in his hometown. You are all witnesses today.”
* May need to seek more options, choices
David put both Bathsheba and Joab in difficult situations. Bathsheba knew it was wrong to commit adultery, but to refuse a king’s request could mean punishment or death. Joab did not know why Uriah had to die, but it was obvious the king wanted him killed. We sometimes face situations with only two apparent choices, and both seem wrong. When that happens, we must not lose sight of what God wants. The answer may be to seek out more choices. By doing this, we are likely to find a choice that honors God. (NLT)
2 Samuel 11:15 – The letter instructed Joab, “Station Uriah on the front lines where the battle is fiercest. Then pull back so that he will be killed.”
* The day to day choices we make are important
From her [Bathsheba] life we see that the little, day-to-day choices we make are very important. They prepare us to make the right choices when the big decisions come. The wisdom to make right choices in small and large matters is a gift from God. Understanding this should make us more conscious of the decisions we make and more willing to include God in our decision making. Have you asked for his help with today’s decisions? (NLT)
2 Samuel 11:26-27 – When Bathsheba heard that her husband was dead, she mourned for him. When the period of mourning was over, David sent for her and brought her to the palace, and she became one of his wives. Then she gave birth to a son. But the Lord was very displeased with what David had done.
* Consider choices long-range effects
Sin is enticing because it offers a quick route to prosperity and makes us feel like one of the crowd. But when we go along with others and refuse to listen to the truth, our own appetites become our masters, and we’ll do anything to satisfy them. Sin, even when attractive, is deadly. We must learn to make choices, not on the basis of flashy appeal or short-range pleasure, but in view of the long-range effects. Sometimes this means steering clear of people who want to entice us into activities that we know are wrong. We can’t be friendly with sin and expect our lives to remain unaffected. (NLT)
Proverbs 1:10-19 – My child, if sinners entice you, turn your back on them! They may say, “Come and join us. Let’s hide and kill someone! Let’s ambush the innocent! Let’s swallow them alive as the grave swallows its victims. Though they are in the prime of life, they will go down into the pit of earth. and the loot we’ll get! We’ll fill our houses with all kinds of things! Come on, throw in your lot with us; we’ll split our loot with you.”
Don’t go along with them, my child! Stay far away from their paths. They rush to commit crimes. They hurry to commit murder. when a bird sees a trap being set, it stays away. But not these people! they set an ambush for themselves; they booby-trap their own lives. Such is the fate of all who are greedy for gain. It ends up robbing them of life.
* Benefits of good choices
Godly living safeguards your life. Every choice for good sets into motion other opportunities for good. Evil choices follow the same pattern, but in the opposite direction. Each decision you make to obey God’s Word will bring a greater sense of order to your life, while each decision to disobey will bring confusion and destruction. The right choices you make reflect your integrity. Obedience brings the greatest safeguard and security. (NLT)
Proverbs 13:6 – Godliness helps people all through life, while the evil are destroyed by their wickedness.
* Questions to ask to help us make right choices
Because of his unity with God, Jesus lived as God wanted him to lie. Because of our identification with Jesus, we must honor him and live as he wants us to live. The questions “What would Jesus do?” and “What would Jesus have me do?” may help us make the right choices. (NLT)
John 5:19-23 – Jesus replied, “I assure you, the Son can do nothing by himself. He does only what he sees the Father doing. Whatever the Father does, the Son also does. For the Father loves the Son and tells him everything he is doing, and the Son will do far greater things than healing this man. You will be astonished at what he does. He will even raise from the dead anyone he wants to, just as the Father does. And the Father leaves all judgment to his Son, so that everyone will honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. But if you refuse to honor the Son, then you are certainly not honoring the Father who sent him.”
* Following Christ means making difficult choices
When Jesus called Matthew to be one of his disciples, Matthew got up and followed, leaving a lucrative career. When God calls you to follow or obey him, do you do it with as much abandon as Matthew? Sometimes the decision to follow Christ requires difficult or painful choices. Like Matthew, we must decide to leave behind those things that would keep us from following Christ. (NLT)
Matthew 9:9 – As Jesus was going down the road, he saw Matthew sitting at his tax-collection booth. “Come, be my disciple,” Jesus said to him. So Matthew got up and followed him.
* Maintain an eternal perspective in choices
When we don’t know Christ, we make choices as though there were no afterlife. In reality, this life is just the introduction to eternity. How we live this brief span determines our eternal state. What we accumulate on earth has no value in gaining eternal life. Even the highest social or civic honors cannot earn us entrance into heaven. Evaluate your life-style from an eternal perspective, and you will find your values and decisions changing. (NLT)
Matthew 16:26 – [Jesus said] “And how do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul in the process? Is anything worth more than your soul?”
* God allows us to make choices
These people chose to reject God, and God allowed them to do it. God does not usually stop us from making wrong choices. He lets us choose independence from him; even though he knows that in time we will become slaves to our own rebellious life-style and lose our freedom not to sin. Does life without God look like freedom to you? Look more closely. There is no worse slavery than slavery to sin. (NLT)
Romans 1:24-32 – So God let them go ahead and do whatever shameful things their hearts desired. As a result, they did vile and degrading things with each other’s bodies. Instead of believing what they knew was the truth about God; they deliberately chose to believe lies. So they worshiped the things God made but not the Creator himself, who is to be praised forever. Amen.
That is why God abandoned them to their shameful desires. Even the women turned against the natural way to have sex and instead indulged in sex with each other. And the men, instead of having normal sexual relationships with women, burned with lust for each other. Men did shameful things with other men and, as a result, suffered within themselves the penalty they so richly deserved.
When they refused to acknowledge God, he abandoned them to their evil minds and let them do things that should never be done. Their lives became full of every kind of wickedness, sin, greed, hate, envy, murder, fighting, deception, malicious behavior, and gossip. They are backstabbers, haters of God, insolent, proud, and boastful. They are forever inventing new ways of sinning and are disobedient to their parents. They refuse to understand, break their promises, and are heartless and unforgiving. They are fully aware of God’s death penalty for those who do these things, yet they go right ahead and do them anyway. And, worse yet, they encourage others to do them, too.
* Trusting in God’s choices for you
Was it right for God to choose Jacob, the younger, to be over Esau? The statement “I showed my love for you by loving your ancestor Jacob. Yet Esau was Jacob’s brother, and I rejected Esau” refers to the nations of Israel and Edom rather than to the individual brothers. God chose Jacob to continue the family line of the faithful because he knew his heart was for God. But he did not exclude Esau from knowing and loving him. Keep in mind the kind of God we worship: He is sovereign; he is not arbitrary; in all things he works for our good; he is trustworthy; he will save all who believe in him. When we understand these qualities of God, we know that his choices are good even if we don’t understand all his reasons. (NLT)
Romans 9:12-14 – not according to our good or bad works.) She was told, “The descendants of your older son will serve the descendants of your younger son.” In the words of the Scriptures, I loved Jacob, but I rejected Esau.” What can we say? Was God being unfair? Of course not!
* Making choices on sensitive issues
1817 All of us make hundreds of choices every day. Most choices have no right or wrong attached to them—like what you wear or what you eat. But we always face decisions that carry a little more weight. We don’t want to do wrong, and we don’t want to cause others to do wrong, so how can we make such decisions?
~If I choose one course of action: . . . does it help my witness for Christ?
The Christian life involves both freedom and discipline. The goals of Paul’s life were to glorify God and bring people to Christ. Thus, he stayed free of any philosophical position or material entanglement that might sidetrack him, while he strictly disciplined himself to carry out his goal. For Paul, both freedom and discipline were important tools to be used in God’s service (NLT)
1 Corinthians 9:19-22 – This means I am not bound to obey people just because they pay me, yet I have become a servant of everyone so that I can bring them to Christ. When I am with the Jews, I become one of them so that I can bring them to Christ. When I am with those who follow the Jewish laws, I do the same, even though I am not subject to the law, so that I can bring them to Christ. When I am with the Gentiles who do not have the Jewish law, I fit in with them as much as I can. In this way, I gain their confidence and bring them to Christ. But I do not discard the law of god; I obey the law of Christ.
When I am with those who are oppressed, I share their oppression so that I might bring them to Christ. Yes, I try to find common ground with everyone so that I might bring them to Christ.
~If I choose one course of action: . . . am I motivated by a desire to help others know Christ?
Paul gives several important principles for ministry: (1) Find common ground with those you contact; (2) avoid a know-it-all attitude; (3) make others feel accepted; (4) be sensitive to their needs and concerns; and (5) look for opportunities to tell them about Christ. These principles are just as valid for us as they were for Paul. (NLT)
1 Corinthians 9:23 – I do all this to spread the Good News, and in doing so I enjoy its blessings.
~If I choose one course of action: . . . does it help me do my best?
Winning a race requires purpose and discipline. Paul uses this illustration to explain that the Christian life takes hard work, self-denial, and grueling preparation. As Christians, we are running toward our heavenly reward. The essential disciplines of prayer, Bible study, and worship equip us to run with vigor and stamina. Don’t merely observe from the grandstand; don’t just turn out to jog a couple of laps each morning. Train diligently—your spiritual progress depends upon it.
At time we must even give up something good in order to do what God wants. Each persons’ special duties determine the discipline and denial that he or she must accept. Without a goal, discipline is nothing but self-punishment. With the goal of pleasing God, our denial seems like nothing compared to the eternal, imperishable reward that will be ours. (NLT)
1 Corinthians 9:25 – All athletes practice strict self-control. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize.
~If I choose one course of action: . . . is it against a specific command in Scripture and would thus cause me to sin?
1 Corinthians 10:12 – If you think you are standing strong, be careful, for you, too, may fall into the same sin.
~If I choose one course of action: . . . is it the best and most beneficial course of action?
Sometimes it’s hard to know when to defer to the weak believer. Paul gives a simple rule of thumb to help in making the decision: We should be sensitive and gracious. While some actions may not be wrong, they may not be in the best interest of others. While we have freedom in Christ, we shouldn’t exercise our freedom at the cost of hurting a Christian brother or sister. We are not to consider only ourselves; we must be sensitive to others.
Paul’s criterion for all his actions was not what he liked best but what was best for those around him. The opposite approach would be (1) being insensitive and doing what we want, no matter who is hurt by it; (2) being oversensitive and doing nothing, for fear that someone may be displeased; (3) being a “yes person” by going alone with everything, trying to gain approval from people rather than from God. In this age of “me first” and “looking out for number one,” Paul’s startling statement is a good standard. If we make the good of others one of our primary goals, we will develop a serving attitude that pleases God. (NLT)
1 Corinthians 10:23 – You say, “I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is helpful. You say, “I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is beneficial.
1 Corinthians 10:33 – That is the plan I follow, too. I try to please everyone in everything I do. I don’t just do what I like or what is best for me, but what is best for them so they may be saved.
~If I choose one course of action: . . . am I thinking only of myself, or do I truly care about the other person?
1 Corinthians 10:24 – Don’t think only of your own good. Think of other Christians and what is best for them.
~If I choose one course of action: . . . am I acting lovingly or selfishly? . . . does it glorify God?
Our actions must be motivated by God’s love so that all we do will be for his glory. Keep this as a guiding principle by asking, Is this action glorifying God? or How can I honor God through this action? (NLT)
1 Corinthians 10:28-31 – But suppose someone warns you that this meat has been offered to an idol. Don’t eat it, out of consideration for the conscience of the one who told you. It might not be a matter of conscience for you, but it is for the other person.
Now, why should my freedom be limited by what someone else thinks? If I can thank God for the food and enjoy it, why should I be condemned for eating it? Whatever you eat or drink or whatever you do, you must do all for the glory of God.
~If I choose one course of action: . . . will it cause someone else to sin?
1 Corinthians 10:32 – Don’t give offense to Jews or Gentiles or the church of God.
* Mature choices vs. immature choices
One way to evaluate spiritual maturity is by looking at the choices we make. The writer of Hebrews notes many of the ways those choices change with personal growth.
Mature choice – teach others — rather than — immature choice – just being taught.
Mature choice – developing depth of understanding — rather than — immature choice – struggling with the basics.
Mature choice – Self-evaluation — rather than — immature choice – self-criticism.
Mature choice – seeking unity — rather than — immature choice – promoting disunity.
Mature choice – desiring spiritual challenges — rather than — immature choice – desiring entertainment.
Mature choice – careful study and observation — rather than — immature choice – opinions and halfhearted efforts.
Mature choice – active faith — rather than — immature choice – cautious apathy and doubt.
Mature choice – confidence — rather than — immature choice – fear.
Mature choice – feelings and experiences evaluated in the light of God’s Word — rather than — immature choice – experiences evaluated according to feelings.
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