Right Choices

February 07, 2019
“When you come to a ‘fork’ in the road, take it,” is an oft-quoted bit of advice from Yogi Berra. It has brought a smile to the face of many when they first hear it. But if you listen to what he is saying, it’s rather dangerous. Let me explain.
“Wherever you want to go, is OK. Just follow your own path and enjoy life,” is what I think Yogi Berra is suggesting. But, is following our own self-designed path the best thing we can do with the life God has given us?
God gave us His Proverbs for us to have His understanding to know right from wrong. In fact, if we go back to a conversation between God and Solomon, his first request of God was for the gift of insight: he wanted to be able to discern right from wrong. Solomon, at that time, wanted to honor God with his whole heart. He knew that honoring God would be difficult without God’s insight to guide him. What a wise request! “God,” he begged, “please guide me.”
Perhaps he saw his father, David, struggling with his humanity when he had to choose right from wrong. Perhaps he saw his father grieve over a poor decision that cost someone their life. Perhaps he saw David, his dad, deal with guilt when he did not follow God’s guidance. There was something deep within him that challenged him to “be insightful, or discerning.” So, he asked God for this gift of “discernment,” and when he understood and applied it in his life, he recognized its value. When he recognized it’s value to him, he wanted to pass it on for us to use in our lives. How thoughtful of him to want to share God’s Word with us to guide us and keep us from sin.
God has given us the only resource we need to be discerning: His Word. If we choose to honor Him we can find His directions in His Word. Life is safe and certain if we follow His Word!
Prayer: Heavenly Father, we know that You will guide us and guard us if we seek Your will and stay obedient to Your Word. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Proverbs 1:4 For giving prudence to those who are simple, knowledge and discretion to the young. 
Everything we do in life is the result of a choice or decision we make. Every choice has its consequence or outcome. There are times when we make a choice and we are pleased with the outcome or result. Other times we make decisions that hurt or haunt us; bring results that embarrass us or bring our lives or our goals to a grinding halt. Sometimes the results of the choices we make force us to look carefully at what we have done with our lives. Every choice, however, contributes to the legacy that we will leave behind us.
David made some very important decisions that caused him pain and suffering, grief and fear. He knew that he was often disobedient to the promises he made to God and also knew that he had to face the consequences of his choices. With deep humility he recognized the poor decisions he made and said, “I am under vows to You, O God!” Making a commitment or decision to honor and serve God is serious. It is not to be made without considering the implications it will have on our lives and the lives of others. A vow to God is the beginning of a chapter of righteous living.
We all know of the tragedies in David’s life because he consciously broke his vows to God. With careful planning and deliberate choices, committed crimes against both God and man. He knew what he deserved but went to God repented, asked for and then received forgiveness. The result? “You have delivered me from death...that I may walk before You in the light of life.”
Prayer: We pray, Lord, that You will make us conscious of the choices we make and the consequences that follow. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 56:12 I am under vows to you, my God; I will present my thank offerings to you.
During the Revolutionary War, General George Washington was leading his army toward Boston. At that time it was under the control of the British. He was well aware of the fact that he could not recapture and gain control of the city without destroying most of the houses and shops. Facing this difficult, if not impossible, decision to make on his own, he asked Congress for their advice.
After his letter was read aloud to the members of congress, there was a long silence as the decision was being considered. Finally, John Hancock said, “Nearly all of the property I have in the world is in Boston. But if the liberties of our country require their being burned to ashes, give the command immediately.” He recognized the difference between worldly possessions and what Washington was fighting for.
As Christians we have dual citizenships. Our citizenship in our nation requires that we submit to its rules and regulations, pay taxes and show respect to our leaders. Our citizenship in the Kingdom of Heaven requires that we pledge to God our obedience and commitment. Jesus made this clear when He was questioned about the issue of paying taxes to Caesar. He said “give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.”
There is a distinction between the two citizenships. Jesus made this distinction obvious: He stated that loyalty to God does not necessarily mean that we are to be disloyal to our governing authorities. But He made it abundantly clear that if a choice has to be made, the Kingdom of Heaven has priority.
As Christians, our obedience and commitment, first and foremost, is to God. What we treasure reveals our priorities.
Prayer: Help us, Lord, to commit ourselves to seek Your Kingdom more than anything else in life and to be willing to make any sacrifice to put You first. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Matthew 22:15-22 Then he said to them, “So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”
A young man had just completed college and was having a difficult time adjusting to his new job. In his frustration he decided to speak with his pastor about the problem.
After a few moments of polite conversation he said, “I'm having a difficult time at work. My problem is learning to allow myself to be in second place.”
“No,” said his pastor, “the real problem is learning Who to put into first place.”
Jesus said, “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and He will give you everything you need.”
To “seek the kingdom of God above all else” means to put God first in our lives. To do this we must fill our minds with His Word, our hearts with His love and commit our entire being to doing His will and serving Him. It is all too easy in life to allow our priorities – our hobbies, our work, our friends – even our families – to slip into first place.
We have all heard the phrase that “life is choice.” And it is. Unfortunately, we often do not consider the consequences of our choices and allow God's Kingdom to be dethroned by the things of this world.
Prayer: Our Father, help us to make every effort to not only seek Your Kingdom but to place it above everything else in our lives no matter what it costs us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Matthew 6:33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

Sitting on a steel girder high above the ground, Joe opened up his lunch container, looked at his sandwich and said, “Peanut butter and jelly. Three days in a row now, I’ve had peanut butter and jelly.”
“Why are you complaining to me? Complain to your wife. Tell her you don’t want peanut butter and jelly,” said his friend, John.
“Don’t blame my wife,” said Joe. “She didn’t make them. It’s my lunch so I make my own sandwiches.”
In one way or another, we all “make our own sandwiches.” What goes in between the slices of bread is, in the final analysis, up to us. We can eat the same old thing or experiment with new tastes.
When we receive Christ, we are regenerated spiritually and emotionally and God wants to give us a new way of thinking. The Spirit of God comes to make His home in us and wants us to have the mind of Christ in us to guide us.
Even so, we chose what goes into our lives. We still have our own nature and will, but we do have a new source of insight and wisdom available to us. We can, with the Lord’s guidance, fill our minds and hearts and lives with the best that God has to offer if we are only willing to seek His guidance.
Prayer: We ask, Father, that we will allow Your Spirit to guide our choices so that we may live worthy of You. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
Scripture for Today: 1 Corinthians 2:16 For “who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him?” But we have the mind of Christ.
In 1927 many businesses had difficulties that forced them to close. One was an insurance company in Savannah, Georgia. There were more than 500 stockholders who lost hundreds of thousands of dollars. The owner, a man named Mercer and his son, promised to repay each one of them.
Twenty eight years later the final debt was paid. Even though the father had died, the son paid each debt in full.
The son had become a famous songwriter and it was one of the songs he wrote that enabled him to pay the debts. The songwriter was Johnny Mercer and the song was “Accentuate the Positive.”
Choosing to do the right thing is often difficult, sometimes painful. There are times when it may mean the loss of money or some valued object. It may even cost a friendship with someone who is destroying our walk with the Lord. It may mean giving up a job that would cause us to compromise our honor. Honoring God always forces us to choose to do what He has asked us to do: obey His teachings. Knowing what is right is rarely the problem. Doing what is right, however, is. However, greater is He who is within us than he who is in the world.
Prayer: Lord, may we always honor You by honoring our word and living open and honest lives. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: 1 Chronicles 29:17 I know also, my God, that You test the heart and have pleasure in uprightness.
My Dad worked for the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad for nearly fifty years. He was responsible for maintaining over 200 miles of railroad tracks. Part of the tracks ran from the docks of the harbor to a steel mill that was the largest manufacturer of pipe in America. Although the distance from the harbor to the steel mill was only a few miles, the tracks formed an intricate system of switches and tracks that had to be carefully laid out and spaced for the engines, coal cars and steel cars to pass each other safely.

One evening when he returned from work, he was visibly shaken. He sat quietly and said nothing. All of the family knew that something serious had happened and we knew not to ask questions. When he was ready to talk, he would tell us the story.

Finally he said, “We had a terrible accident in Elyria today. The men who worked there did not prepare the bed properly for the tracks and they gave way today. The engine fell over on its side and killed the engineer.” Someone failed to take the time to build the bed strong enough for the trains to pass safely. That engineer did not have to die and leave his family. Someone failed and it cost the engineer his life.

“The highway of the upright avoids evil, he who guards his way guards his life,” wrote Solomon. The word “highway” refers to a raised roadway that is carefully groomed and maintained. Those who value their walk with the Lord will avoid evil and guard every step.

Prayer:  Father, make us sensitive to the attraction of evil and the importance of guarding each step we take. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 16:17 The highway of the upright avoids evil; those who guard their ways preserve their lives.

It was a heated argument: “Your mind is so closed that can no one could get a new thought in there even if they used a sharp wedge.” “Oh yeah,” he replied. “You’re so open-minded that your brain can’t hold anything that makes sense!”

Each of us has developed our own particular way of thinking. Solomon placed the way we think between two intriguing words: “Simple minded and prudent.” Being “simple minded” is actually expanded in the verses that follow. It can mean anything from being overly gullible, too hot headed or arrogant, reckless, foolish or crafty. On the other hand, some people are “prudent.”

The “simple minded” are so confused that they are willing to believe anything said by anybody at any time. Whatever they hear makes sense to them and if it is a popular idea that most people embrace, it’s got to be right! They lack sound judgment for lack of clear thinking.

The “prudent person,” however, may have evil or good intentions. Evil intentions would be using knowledge in a way that is sinister, shrewd or misleading. Good intention would be using knowledge to discern the truth, understanding people, knowing what is going on, looking for opportunities and how to make good decisions.

The wisdom of a prudent person comes from “giving thought to their steps.” They carefully consider choices and consequences, weigh every option and opinion and make their decisions on wisdom they have gained from their teachers. Unfortunately, not all teachers honor God.

Prayer:  Lord, may we choose wisely those who we allow to teach us. May we “test their spirits” before we trust them. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 14:15 The simple believe anything, but the prudent give thought to their steps.

“I wish I could buy him for what he’s worth and sell him for what he thinks he’s worth. We could both retire!” said a colleague to me after interviewing a potential employee.

Many people lead “presumptuous” or “inappropriate” lives and never get in touch with who they are and what their strength or limitations might be. They see what no one else can see - even act on it - and refuse to admit what is or what has happened. “It’s not my fault. It's theirs. They just wouldn’t admit they were wrong.”

In the final analysis, we all have the freedom to choose what path we will take - even though, as Solomon warns, “But in the end it leads to death.” We may choose a path, even claim that it was a "path from God and it is His will for my life" only to discover that our decision was ill conceived and even ill advised. It was “our decision.”

“Seems right” is a frightening combination of words. It simply means that “I (or someone else) did not know what was right” and went off in the wrong direction and it ended in disaster - perhaps death. “Seems right” is full of presumptions, beginning with sincerity. Although we may be very sincere about most anything we choose to do, sincerity does not lead to fulfilling God’s plan or our own personal success. “Seems right” can be “surely wrong!”

Those who truly want the “right way” will find it in God’s Word. The “right way” is acting in agreement with the Word of God, becoming obedient to His commands, by waiting upon Him and putting His will before my wants.

Prayer:  Father, we can only avoid what “seems right” if we surrender our lives to You and do right by living right. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 14:12 There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.

“There are three sets of alternatives,” our professor of ethics once said. “They include ‘either/or, neither/nor or both/and.’” We often tend to focus on one of them when we face certain situations, never bothering to consider that the one we have chosen may or may not be the right one. We often rush into a decision without thinking it through completely or wanting to get it over quickly because we don’t see any other “alternatives.”

But God’s Word is very clear when choices are to be made. There are times when one has no options: so it is “neither” this “nor” that. For example, “You shall have no other God except or before me!” It’s neither this god nor that god. For, “I am the Lord your God!”

There are also times when it is “both/and.” For example, we read, “Do this and you will live.” This alternative is a win/win approach. When we follow the rules of God, we will live and live well because we are assured of His blessings and the prosperity that comes from being obedient to His laws and commands.

Solomon said, “A man cannot be established through wickedness, but the righteous cannot be moved.” Stability in life comes from following God and being obedient to His Word. “In the beginning was the Word,” said John. God’s Word has been, is and always will be! This truth cannot be negotiated. The one who builds his life and ways on the Word of God will never have to question what is right or wrong, good or bad, honest or deceitful. It’s “either/or” either God’s way - the way of stability and security, or...

Prayer:  May we have the courage, conviction and will to follow Your ways, Lord, and enjoy stability and blessings. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 12:3 No one finds security by wickedness, but the root of the righteous will never be moved.

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