Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Choices ~ Rabqa

Today we are going to be looking at choices & will continue to
do so for the next week or so.

Everything we do begins with a choice. You choose what to eat for breakfast, you chose your job, you chose your friends & even your spouse. But ultimately, you & I have a choice to either live for God or not. That is called free will, that means freedom to choose, which is an amazing gift from God which He gives to all of us.

Sometimes it's easy to forget just how wonderful the gift of free choice really is. If God wanted to force us to love Him, He could. If He wanted to make us choose right all the time, He most certainly could do that too. But He won't; God will never interfere with the freedom of choice. This is because it would go against everything He is—a Father motivated by love.

I would like to say that God's love is the dominant power in all activity & enterprise. So even though God never forces us to do the right thing, He's always there urging us to make decisions that would bless us & honour Him.

Deut 30:19 Here God is presenting a choice to the people of Israel He says, "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";

What God is saying, when He says "I have set before you life & death, blessings & curses", He is showing us that life goes with the blessing & death goes with the cursing. He is presenting us with the choice & leaves it up to us.

Then comes the word "therefore". That is where He tells us what we should choose. Remember that God doesn't make us choose life—He knows that life is all about choice. Now when we choose to seek His best, He is faithful to show us the right choice—the choice that brings His blessing not only to us, but also to our children, our children's children & our children's, children children!

If today you need to make a choice about something, maybe you have problems in your body, choose to believe that by Jesus stripes you are healed (Isa 53:5). If you are having financial problems, choose to believe that God will supply all you need (Phil 4:19). Whatever it may be choose life.

Matt 16:25 If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.

Understand & accept that discipleship means forsaking all selfish & personal ambition. With Jesus, righteousness no longer consists in observance of an external code. Jesus defines it as an apprenticeship to Himself as Master & Teacher. through the Holy spirit.

Righteousness is now defined by the Person of Jesus & not by the law. This Person who is righteous requires our loyalty which is true discipleship & that means total commitment without distraction or compromise. What do you choose? the high life or the low life, which is God's kind of life or the worlds kind of life. You can't have it all, that is to say you can not have your cake & eat it, you have to choose.

Now you may try & put off that choice. You may try to hang on to the low life while reaching for the high life at the same time, so you can see if it is something you really want before you give up everything the world has to offer. But believe methat is not possible. You will never be able to sample the high life for yourself till you are willing to take God at His Word & trust Him to take care of you. You are probably wondering what will happen if you that. The answer is that you will start to live the life God wants you to live described in Paslm 1:3&4 They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither,& they shall prosper in all they do.

These verses promise prosperity to those who delight in God's law that is His precepts & instructions & all who meditate on His Word day & night. In other words those who give God & His Word first place. The stronger the winds blows, the more you will bend in the breeze. Depression & inflation will not be able to break you. When the rains stop coming & everyone else is withering away, you will just keep on thriving & bearing the fruit of the Spirit because you are drawing nourishment from the river bed!

That is what the high life is like & there is nothing the world has to offer that can even compare. I know this from experience, & so will you once you dare to let go & trust God.

The Word mediate in the Hebrew is hagah & it means to reflect, to moan, to mutter, to ponder, to make quiet such as sighing; to mediate contemplate something as one repeats the words. Hagah represents something quite unlike the English "meditation" which may be a mental exercise only. In Hebrew thought, to meditate upon the Scriptures is to quietly repeat them in a soft droning sound, while utterly abandoning all outside distractions.

From this tradition comes a specialised type of Jewish prayer called davening that is reciting texts, praying intense prayers or getting lost in communication with God while blowing or rocking back & forth. Evidently this dynamic form of meditation – prayer goes back to David's time.

We learn in Matthew 16: 13-20 that we can hear from God, that is our spirit is tuned in to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. These verses tell us in Caesarea Philippi, a stronghold of the ancient demon—gods of Syria, Greece & Rome, where Jesus deliberately set Himself against the background of the worlds religions' of error & confusion; & here He inquired of His disciples about His identity. Peter's answer "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God". (v16)Which is set apart from beyond human reason, as Jesus said that He had heard from God (v17)

 Jesus emphasised that His church would always lead based not on man's ability to reason things out but would need to be receptive to hear from God through revelation knowledge which means the things God unfolds to you by the work of the Holy Spirit. Matthew 16:19 says that we can have authority as believers to bring heaven's will to earth by acting in partnership with God. He is in heaven, & we are on earth. Because His Spirit is in us, & because we have His Word, we can know what His will is. We have authority on earth to bring heaven's will into action. What God binds or looses in heave is what He allows or disallows is all we can allow or disallow on earth.

Matt 18:16 But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established Jesus shows in verses 15-20 the proper
procedure for disciplining an erring brother. Three steps are specified (1) In private, (2) with witnesses & (3) before the church.

When another Christian wrongs or offends you, your first inclination maybe to run & tell someone about it or to let your anger or hurt build up inside of you, however Jesus teaches the correct & appropriate method for bring correction & reconciliation.

The next time you are hurt or wronged by another believer, remember what Jesus taught. You may have been there many times standing in the valley of decision perched somewhere between victory & defeat. On one side of you is the word of the world authored by satan that says for example "you are not going to be healed". On the other side of you is the Word of God saying "My Word is Yes & Amen & "by His stripes you are healed". Only you will determine how it will turn out.

You might meet some one who wants you to pray for him, so you say to him the Word of God says you are healed, but he interrupts & says "Yeah I know but I have this terrible pain here..." You look him in the eye & again say "By His
stripes you are healed". I know he answers but I have this terrible pain... You shake your head & say "Listen the Word says you are healed!" Now he turns as red as a beetroot & says I KNOW BUT I HAVE THIS... Finally he stops & stares at you. He didn't realise it, but he had allowed his physical symptoms to become his evidence. It was what he believed. No matter what the Word said, he believed the thing he could see & feel. You wait for him to calm down & become quite & tell him that he is wanting you to agree with him, but you wont, you tell him that he needs to agree with you & the Bible that he will be healed. Now he gets it, his eyes light up, oh WOW praise the Lord I see what mean, yes I will agree with what the Word of God says. So you lay hands on him expecting God for a miracle You must decide to get into agreement with God, you can receive your healing anywhere, in your bedroom, driving down the road, just anywhere.

Decide to believe in God's Word. When you pray not doubting in your in your heart but believing what you say will take place, it will be done for you (Mark 11:23) Rom 8:6 For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. When condemnation comes against you, be encouraged quote Romans 8:1 as a weapon which says There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. Remind satan & yourself that you do not walk after the flesh but after the Spirit. Walking after the flesh is depending on yourself; walking after the Spirit is depending on God. If you fail that does not mean that you are a failure. It simply means that you do not do everything right. We all have to except the fact that we have strength along with weakness.

Let Christ be strong in your weakness; let Him be your strength on your weak days. If you are waiting for victory in an area & you have not seen it, rather then feeling commended about it, be patient. Refuse to accept receive condemnation; walk in the Spirit. If you were given the choice between life & death which would you choose? The answer seems obvious. But in reality it is not. You see choosing death does not mean jumping of the nearest cliff. It is much more subtle then that. The Bible says death is being carnally minded, being entangled in this present worldly realm. The Bible also tells us what life is in Proverbs 4:20-22 My son, give attention to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. Do not let them depart from your eyes; Keep them in the midst of your heart; For they are life to those who find them, And health to all their flesh. To be worldly minded is death, to be Word minded is life.

In Luke 10 there is a story that illustrates this principal extremely well. It is the story of Martha & Mary. You will probably remember it was Mary sitting at the feet of Jesus listening to Him teach while Martha was busy in the kitchen cooking dinner for all of them. Finally Martha had had enough & said "Lord don't you care that my sister has left me to do all the work myself? Tell her to help me"! Jesus answered, "Martha, Martha you are worried & troubled about many things, But one thing is needed & Mary has chosen the good part Which will not be taken from her" (Lk 10:41-42).

Mary had set everything aside so she could hear the Word. But Martha had let the seemingly important business of living take priority over the Word. She had chosen death not life. you see how easy it is to slip in to. but you may say if I didn't spend all my time taking care of the business of living my life would fall apart. Martha probably thought that too. She probably thought that if she didn't cook dinner they would all go hungry. But they wouldn't have Jesus had miraculously fed multitudes before & He could have done it again in Martha's home. She too could have sat down at Jesus' feet & they could have had a banquet at God's expense. Don't make the mistake that Martha did.

Don't get so entangled in the business of living that you choose death by default. Decide to put the Word first & choose life. When the deceiver speaks to us, he cannot give peace. When we try to solve things with our own reasoning, we cannot find peace, because according to Romans 8:6, the mind of the flesh is death, but the mind of the Holy Spirit is life & peace. If you have to make a decision, lay it on the "peace scale" & do not proceed if peace cannot hold its weight against the guidance you have heard. You do not have to explain to others why you do not have peace about it; sometimes you will not know why yourself.

 You can simply say "It is not wise for me to do this because I don't have peace about it." Even when you believe God has spoken to you, you should wait to act until peace fills your soul before you do what He has instructed you to do. In this way you are sure that your timing is right. Let your emotions subside & then decide. Because if we wait for God's true peace, we will be obedient with faith. Peace is true confirmation that we are hearing from God. Romans 8:6-14 teaches us to understand the difference between following our fleshly desires & allowing God's Spirit to lead us. Any time our flesh wants to do one thing & the Spirit of God wants us do do something else, by choosing to follow the Spirit of God we need to know that our flesh will suffer.

We of course do not like that, but the Bible says that if we want share Christ's glory then we have to be willing to share His suffering. (1Peter 4:13) I would like to encourage those who are just beginning to walk with God that once the fleshly appetite is no longer in control, you will get to the point where it is easier to obey God.

Even if obedience is difficult you will get to a place where you actually enjoy doing it. So if you are new to the Christian faith be encouraged. Remember Even when you believe God has spoken to you, you should wait to act until peace fills your soul before you do what He has instructed you to do. In this way you are sure that your timing is right.

Acknowledgement Kenneth Copeland.

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