Choices

 

Every day of our lives we are faced with choices.

  • When we get up in the morning we have to decide what clothes we are going to wear and what we want to eat for breakfast.
  • If we drive to work, we have to decide which route we are going to take when there is accident or road work we have to avoid.
  • When go out to eat and the give us a menu, we have to decide between a multitude of possible food choices.
  • If your ever go to one of our snow cone stands and look at huge list of flavors and weird names they have, it becomes difficult to choose what in the world you are going to get. Usually, I stick with what I know and get something like cherry or strawberry instead of the Incredible Hulk or Vampires blood.

 

We also have to make choices about things like:

  • When a guy pulls out in front of you and you have to slam on your brakes to keep from hitting him, do you lay on the horn, shake your fist and rant and rave at him or do you simply let it go and thank God that you didnít hit him.
  • What about when someone takes advantage of us in some way?Do we retaliate and let them have what they deserve or do we treat them with kindness as Jesus taught us?

 

Many of the decisions we make, like what to eat or what to wear are not life altering or life threatening decisions, but others are especially when it comes to our eternal destination. While there a multitude of choices to be made when it comes to living life in general there are only two choices to consider when it comes to our eternal destination, which is heaven or hell. Jesus puts it this way:

 

Matthew 7:13 " Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it.14 "Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.

 

Many in the religious world have changed what Jesus has said here. What they teach is just the opposite. They will tell you that the way to heaven is broad road. In fact, some would even say that there are multiple roads that lead to heaven and the gate is not narrow it wide and willing to receive the masses. However, the road to hell is a difficult one and its gate is narrow and few will find their way there.

 

People who change the clear teaching of Jesus have made a choice to do so, but I hope you will choose to accept what Jesus has stated in these verses. He tells us that there are only 2 roads one may travel: either the difficult road that leads to the narrow gate of heaven that only a few will travel or the broad road that many will travel down, which leads everlasting destruction in hell.

 

As Joshua said:

 

Joshua 24:15 "And if it seems evil to you to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD."

 

We have to choose which road we want to be on. The way we choose is by the way live our lives. We either live our lives for God and serve Him or we choose to be like the world and live in sin.

 

If we want to stay on the difficult road that leads to eternal life in heaven, we must choose how we are going to react to the situations put before us. If we want to serve God we must response in such a way that will glorify God. Otherwise we will find ourselves opposed to God. As Jesus said:

 

Matthew 12:30 "He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad.

 

Matthew 10:37 "He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.38 "And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.

 

Since God wants all people to be choose to be saved and make it to heaven, I hope everyone in this room will choose to serve God in every aspect of your life so that you can spend your eternity in heaven instead of hell.

 

Unfortunately, many of us are going to make bad choices along the way and we will fall down and skin our knees, but our bad choices can be made right, when we choose to repent, and stand back up and press forward toward our goal of reaching heaven. As long as we are still breathing we have the choice of making ourselves right with God.

 

For our time this morning we will examine three different circumstances in which choices were made. Our first example comes from Peter in Mathew 26.

 

Jesus has just been betrayed by Judas and brought to the Sanhedrin Council.The high priest had sentenced Jesus to death and Peter, who had followed a far off, knew what was happening to His Savior. He had boldly proclaimed along with the other apostles that he would never deny Jesus and said he willing to die for Him.

 

Sometime people have good intentions, but when they find themselves in the situation, they do not always make the choice they thought they would. This is what we see with Peter:

 

Matthew 26:69 Now Peter sat outside in the courtyard. And a servant girl came to him, saying, "You also were with Jesus of Galilee."70 But he denied it before them all, saying, "I do not know what you are saying."71 And when he had gone out to the gateway, another girl saw him and said to those who were there, "This fellow also was with Jesus of Nazareth."72 But again he denied with an oath, "I do not know the Man!"73 And a little later those who stood by came up and said to Peter, "Surely you also are one of them, for your speech betrays you."74 Then he began to curse and swear, saying, "I do not know the Man!" Immediately a rooster crowed.

 

Not only did Peter choose to save himself and deny Jesus once, He denied him 3 times. No body forced him to make this choice, but he did and it would not be the only bad choice that Peter made in his life, but unlike Judas who went and hung himself for the choice he made, Peter chose to live and put his awful choice behind him. As we know he goes on to do great things for the kingdom of God.

 

Sometimes we are faced with the decision to acknowledge God or deny him like Peter did. We donít face physical harm or death as Peter did, but we might face ridicule from people. We may risk our social status or popularity with certain groups if we acknowledge God or claim to be a Christian. Sometimes peer pressure causes us to make poor choices, but as Christians we must learn to stand up and glorify God even when we face peer pressure. Like Peter, if we make poor choices do not let those choices keep you down or cause you to start heading down that broad road. Instead, acknowledge your faults before God, learn from your mistakes and press on. As long as you life in your body you can choose to make yourself right with God.

 

Our next example comes from the parable of the talents in:

 

Matthew 25:14 " For the kingdom of heaven is like a man traveling to a far country, who called his own servants and delivered his goods to them.15 "And to one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one, to each according to his own ability; and immediately he went on a journey.16 "Then he who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and made another five talents.17 "And likewise he who had received two gained two more also.18 "But he who had received one went and dug in the ground, and hid his lord's money.19 "After a long time the lord of those servants came and settled accounts with them.20 "So he who had received five talents came and brought five other talents, saying, 'Lord, you delivered to me five talents; look, I have gained five more talents besides them.'21 "His lord said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.'22 "He also who had received two talents came and said, 'Lord, you delivered to me two talents; look, I have gained two more talents besides them.'23 "His lord said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.'24 "Then he who had received the one talent came and said, 'Lord, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not scattered seed.25 'And I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the ground. Look, there you have what is yours.'26 "But his lord answered and said to him, 'You wicked and lazy servant, you knew that I reap where I have not sown, and gather where I have not scattered seed.27 'So you ought to have deposited my money with the bankers, and at my coming I would have received back my own with interest.28 'Therefore take the talent from him, and give it to him who has ten talents.29 'For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away.30 'And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.'

 

The one talent man was faced with a choice:to use his talent or not. If he used this talent and something happened to it or he made a bad decision he thought he might loose it, so he hid it in the ground. He was scared of what would happen if he messed up. Since he made a bad choice and never tried to correct it, when his master came it was too late for him. He was cast out because of the poor choice he made.

 

However, we can see that the other two servants made wise choices and they used the talents given to them. Since they chose to serve their master well, he was pleased with them and they received their reward.

 

In a similar way, all Christians have been given talents by the Lord. No not physical money as in the parable, but abilities that you can use to glorify God in your stay here on this earth. You have choice, you can use you talent for the Lord or you can hide it like the one talent man did. It is your choice, but you need to learn from this parable that if you do not take advantage of the talents God has given you and you hide, when Jesus comes again, He will say to you the same thing the master said to the one talent man 'You wicked and lazy servant and then you will be cast into place where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.

 

I hope none of in the room hides our talents or keeps hiding them of fear that you might mess things up, because God wants us to use our talents to the best of our ability. Remember, it is your choice, but I certainly do not want to repeat the choice made by the one talent man, and I hope you do not either. Instead, lets choose to be like the 5 and 10 talent man and serve God.

 

Our third example comes from the time of Joshua. In Joshua 24, Joshua gathered the people of Israel together at Shechum where God first appeared to Abraham in Genesis 12 where he promised him the promise land for his descendants.

 

Joshua reminded the people how God had taken care of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and how he delivered their fathers from Egyptian bondage and from their enemies in the land of Canaan. He warned them about worshipping the Gods of Egypt and the surrounding countries.

 

Joshua 24:14 " Now therefore, fear the LORD, serve Him in sincerity and in truth, and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the River and in Egypt. Serve the LORD!15 "And if it seems evil to you to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD."

 

While Joshua did not always make the right choice every time, overall he was a faithful servant to God and Moses helped train him to be the spiritual leader had turned into. He understood that there were two choices. Serve God or serve something false. The choice for Joshua was easy, he and his family was going to serve the Lord. Joshua had seen first hand what wonderful things happen when you choose to serve God and when you choose not to.

 

I have no doubt that he never forgot what God told him at the beginning of his leadership role over Israel:

 

Joshua 1:5 "No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life; as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you.6 "Be strong and of good courage, for to this people you shall divide as an inheritance the land which I swore to their fathers to give them.7 "Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go.8 "This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.9 "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go."

 

Joshua did not fail God. Overall he made all the right choices that pleased God and because of his influence on the people to choose to follow after God, they were able to fulfill the land promise made to Abraham. We can see how united the people were under his rule because after he told them to make a choice who they would serve we learn their responsein:

 

Joshua 24:16 So the people answered and said: "Far be it from us that we should forsake the LORD to serve other gods;17 "for the LORD our God is He who brought us and our fathers up out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage, who did those great signs in our sight, and preserved us in all the way that we went and among all the people through whom we passed.18 "And the LORD drove out from before us all the people, including the Amorites who dwelt in the land. We also will serve the LORD, for He is our God."19 But Joshua said to the people, "You cannot serve the LORD, for He is a holy God. He is a jealous God; He will not forgive your transgressions nor your sins.20 "If you forsake the LORD and serve foreign gods, then He will turn and do you harm and consume you, after He has done you good."21 And the people said to Joshua, "No, but we will serve the LORD!"22 So Joshua said to the people, "You are witnesses against yourselves that you have chosen the LORD for yourselves, to serve Him." And they said, "We are witnesses!"23 "Now therefore," he said, "put away the foreign gods which are among you, and incline your heart to the LORD God of Israel."24 And the people said to Joshua, "The LORD our God we will serve, and His voice we will obey!"

 

We have the same choice today. If we want to be like Joshua and serve God then we must be willing to obey him. We must be willing to put Him first in our lives because it is not enough just say you love God and will serve Him, the proof of what is in your heart will be shown by your actions.

 

As Jesus said:

 

Matthew 7:21 " Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.22 "Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?'23 "And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!'24 " Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock:25 "and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.26 "But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand:27 "and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall."

 

The question becomes are you go to chose to build your house on the foundation of Godís Word and be a doer of it, or are you going to build you house on sand, by being a Christian by name only.

 

The choice is up to you. I hope you will choose serve God so that you will travel up that difficult road that leads to the narrow gate of heaven instead of going broad road that leads to destruction in hell.

 

If you are hear this morning and you have never obeyed the Godís plan of salvation. I want you to understand that you have choice today to get off the broad road that lead to hell and start your journey on the road lead to eternal life in heaven. Give invitation.

 

Adapted in part from Greg Dial.