Scriptural Refs (NIV): Deuteronomy 30:15-19, Philippians 4:8,
Matthew 6:12, Matthew 7:13, John 10:10, Proverbs 4:23
Pastor Lorne delivered last Sunday's message before flying off to Australia:
He started by talking about having a pet such as a dog. In the morning, you open the door and let your dog out. Then sometime during the day when you feel like it you, you let him back in. For the most part, the dog gets told what to do and when to do it. He doesn’t have any say in the matter.
Pastor Lorne said he heard choices described this way by a marriage counselor: On Sunday morning you need to get dressed for church so you go to your closet door, stare and your clothes and say, ‘I have nothing to wear’. Now if you’re a woman, what you really mean is that you have nothing new to wear. Yet if you’re a man, you mean you have nothing clean. But they both have a choice.
Every day you face choices. Your first choice was to get up or stay in bed. Then you made a choice what to wear and what to eat for breakfast. And you choose whether to go to church. You made a conscious choice. Our life is filled with choices. Pastor Lorne said just for your own interest, keep track of how many choices you make throughout the day.
Pastor Lorne reminded us of Moses and the Israelites. Moses is about 140 yrs old and he’s led the Israelites around the desert for 40 yrs under God’s guidance. Finally after all those years of following the pillar of fire at night and the pillar of cloud during the day, they’re about to cross the Jordan River without Moses. He preaches this sermon. Deut 30:15-19 says, ‘15See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. 16 For I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the LORD your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess. 17 But if your heart turns away and you are not obedient, and if you are drawn away to bow down to other gods and worship them, 18 I declare to you this day that you will certainly be destroyed. You will not live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess. 19 This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live.’
We have a choice in our life of how we’re going to live. And we have a choice in our attitude. We can choose to be negative or not. Have you ever talked to someone who is negative about everything you say? It take the life right out of you. But you have a choice of how to look at things in life. You can look at the negative and bad things or the positive and good things. The positive is that God’s hand is on everything and He’s got it all under control. You can choose to take that positive route. Or, you can take the negative one and let it bring you down. Pastor Lorne said he likes to bring out Dennis’ friend Dennis in situations like this. Every time Pastor Lorne meets Dennis and asks how he’s doing, Dennis answers, ‘Any better and I’ll be in heaven.’ He chooses to say that.
Pastor Lorne said God doesn’t treat us like a dog that is put out and has to stay out in the cold until He decides to bring us in. He lets us choose when we want to come back in. He also gives us the freedom to choose life in our lives. Pastor Lorne urges you to choose an abundant life. He said he can let what someone says to him bring him down and ruin his day or he can choose to forgive and forget and carry on. He gave the example of a retired preacher who’d gone through some rough times in his 90 yrs of life. During a conversation with Pastor Lorne, this preacher brought up something that happened 20 yrs previous. He couldn’t forget the incident and let it eat away at him. He chose to dwell on it.
Philippians 4:8 says, ‘Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.’ In this scripture, Paul is writing to the Corinthian church and he encourages them to think about good things.
Pastor Lorne wanted to encourage you to think about good things, too. Positive things. Pleasing to you and to God. He said we can chose to hold grudges and let it destroy us – or, we can forgive and forget like in the scripture Matt 6:12 ‘Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.’
Pastor Lorne said he likes standing near the church door greeting the people and listening to them say things are going great. He said it’s so uplifting for him to shake hands and experience the people’s good choices. It lets him know God is blessing their lives.
We choose the road we will travel in our lives
Matt 7:13 "Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.’ Pastor Lorne thought about the broad road some people choose. It starts out fun and then it narrows down and they lose the ability to choose because it’s controlled by some addiction of this world. Remember this line – ‘I don’t smoke, I don’t chew, and I don’t run with those who do’.
When you come to Christ, you may think your life is stifled. Some think being a Christian is taking away your freedom. You have to walk on a thin path with no freedom. But Pastor Lorne said the road opens and widens when you realize all the freedoms you have in Christ. The big difference is that you have the freedom not to do a lot of things; the freedom to be happy; the freedom to forgive others; the freedom that opens our life up if we allow God to lead it. The narrow gate leads to Life. You have the great freedom of knowing you can go to God in prayer at any time and for any reason at all. You can leave it with Him and He’ll take care of it.
John 10:10 ‘The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.’ The thief is Satan who’s purpose is to kill, steal and destroy. But, if you choose God, He will bless you abundantly.
Pastor Lorne said he wanted to talk directly to the 4 young boys in the congregation for a minute. He said they already are – or close to – being teenagers. Pastor Lorne urged them to choose life especially in these teen years. He said he remembers when he was at their age with all those things going on inside him. You’re a kid trying to be an adult. All the decisions… what you’re going to be… what direction you’re going to take… relationships you’ll have in your late teens and early 20’s to consider your life partner… whether you want to follow the wide or narrow path. So many choices that weigh heavy with you.
And how do they know if they’ve taken the right path? He said he wanted the boys to mark Prov 4:23 in their Bible. Solomon asked for and received wisdom. In Prov 4:23, Solomon says ‘Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.’ Guard your heart. It is so important to keep your heart pure. Today, would you choose Life? Would you choose the positive or the negative?
Pastor Lorne urged us to choose God. Choose the high road. By choosing the things that enhance our life we become a blessing to others.