"... Choose ye this day... as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord ..." Joshua 24:14-16.
On India's Independence Day, 15th Aug'09, I had the privilege to speak on making choices in life in a city church in Mumbai. Later in the day, on " how shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation" as per Hebrews 2:3.
Our lives consist of hundreds of choices that we make every day, and the living out of the consequences of those choices. First we make our choices. Then our choices make us.
It was a harsh edict, every male baby must be killed, disobedience would be ruthlessly dealt with...But one mother was different. She looked at her baby,...then looked at her God....Then she made a choice:she would hide her baby, doing everything possible so this baby could live. The rest was up to God.
One moment of decision changed forever the destiny of Moses, and that of the Jewish people, one mother's choice saved baby Moses from a watery grave and propelled him into the palace fo a king, catapulting an unknown Hebrew into the annals of history. So much power resided in that choice.
For those of us responsible for other lives, our choices not only make us, they make the lives of those we are responsible for. The choices of the teacher affect the destiny of her students in ways that she may never fathom in this life. The choices of parents mould and determine the destiny of their children and their chidren's children.
Joshua in the history of ancient Israel made a crucial choice. He challenged the people to choose and then affirmed his covenant, saying, as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord. What a definite decision made by a dad! It clearly pointed to the welfare of the whole family and their allegiance to the One God they worshipped.
We can choose... to love or not to love. We can decide and choose to be patient and kind, not to be touchy or resentful; to forgive and not bear grudges. Or we can choose to indulge in self-righteousness and criticism, to judge and spiritually lord it over others in pride and prejudice, to slander others in our thoughts and words. Not loving, and not forgiving, is a choice that only serves to shackle us, rather than the offending person!
We can choose to learn or to stagnate. We can decide whether to learn from the mistakes that we make, or try to forget them in a hurry and hope that no-one else noticed. When a mistake has been made, we might as well learn from it, and if we are generous enough, let others learn from us, so they won't have to tread the same path - ouch!
We can choose what words to say. We can choose to encourage, uplift, cheer and affirm anyone and if we lack the words, there are plenty of good words in God's own Book. Who knows which soul will be brought to Jesus because of some words that you sow today?
We can choose how we're going to spend our time. To spend more time with people rather than with things. To serve the Lord instead of surfing the net. To talk more with friends and colleagues or with our families and children. To spend more time alone with God or in the company of people. How we spend our time is really how we spend our lives. Some people have their lives all spent. Others invest their lives, deliberately choosing to do the few things that last-and outlast them!
Freedom to Choose - Victor Frank once said that robbed of every freedom in the world, he still had the freedom to choose his attitude, and he did. In the midst of the overwhelmingly hopelessness of a concentration camp, he chose his attitude - that he wanted to live. And live he did.
Most of us are not in a concentration camp, and do not live in the degrading circumstances that Frank endured; yet in our minds, we may have chosen an attitude of defeat. We blame the 'system', whatever that may mean, the economy, the government, the church-we even blame God.
We need to be reminded that God holds us responsible for choosing our own attitude in any circumstance. Why else would Paul urge us to 'rejoice in the Lord always and again I say, rejoice"? He's telling us that we have the freedom to choose our attitude, and we should choose to rejoice in any and every circumstance.
How do we rejoice when the boss is mean, the children are hopelessly behind in their schoolwork, the prospect of retrenchment looms large, our spouses are unreasonable? One way is to pray and rejoice because our prayers are heard.
Choosing Our Attitude- Our attitude determines our action. Deliberately choosing an attitude of praise and rejoicing will lead to positive and powerful actions: of prayer, which releases the dynamite of God's power to work for us; of positive words, which will lead to a virtuous cycle of encouragement and faith.
One person who chose differently was Joseph. He chose to see Cod's hand through every misfortune. He chose to walk, and talk right. He chose to forgive, even before his brothers were brought to him. He chose to serve God everywhere he went-as a slave, as a prisoner, as a Prime Minister. Stripped of every freedom, Joseph chose his attitude- of faith and love. He chose to trust in the one and only God who never fails, no matter how depressing the circumstances he found himself in. Because Joseph consistently, persistently chose right. God favored him. And wherever he went, whatever he did, he prospered.
Choosing To Praise My personal favourite attitude-booster is the Book of Psalms. It is impossible to immerse myself in the praises of God's psalmists and not be infected by their attitude of praise, joy and positive cheer. "Let everything that has breath praise the Lord." Psalm 150:6. Do you have breath? Then praise the Lord and march into your day with a praise-attitude. Choose to praise!
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