Interference and Choices

car radio-tagged

This week I was listening—or trying to listen—to one of my favorites, the Hallelujah Chorus from Handel’s Messiah. Evidently, however, the power lines nearby created enough interference that another station began to override what I wanted to hear. It was so annoying that I turned it off.

Life can be like that. The mundane so often pre-empts the sublime. The mediocre, if we let it, prevails over the excellent.

While there wasn’t much I could do about the radio interference, what can we do to keep our focus on what matters most?

Life: a series of choices

Once we make up our minds to obey Christ, then we must subject even our thinking to His Lordship. “Finally then, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things” (Philippians 4:8).

This implies that whatever is not true, honorable, right, pure, etc. is off-limits for us.

God made our wonderful minds. The greatest commandment, Jesus said, is to love the Lord with all our heart/soul/mind” (Matthew 22:37).

So what will we choose?

Since so much of what we think about is affected for good or bad by what we see and hear, then how will this affect our choices regarding entertainment, computer use, reading, friendships, etc.?

It is both naïve and foolish to think we can watch and listen to garbage and not be affected by it (1 Corinthians 10:12; James 4:4; 1 John 2:15-17).

“Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good” (Romans 12:9).

How Satan works to persuade us that good and evil are the opposite of what God says (Genesis 3:1-6; Isaiah 5:20).

Satan is the ultimate source of interference. With God, the signal is clear.

Hallelujah!

 

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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Salvation Options?

I heard once about a man who was quite intelligent and highly educated, and yet when he tried to add oil to his car engine, he poured it down the narrow dipstick tube. Well, that’s one way of getting the job done!

Multiple approaches

With some tasks, however, there may be several satisfactory methods. If we need to send a communication to someone, we can use email, fax, telephone, texting, or an old-fashioned letter. The message is the same, regardless of how it’s conveyed.

And then there are wedding options. Whether a big church wedding, a private ceremony at home, or being wed by a justice of the peace, you’re just as married in any case. There are advantages and disadvantages to each arrangement, but still, one can choose.

We are conditioned to multiple options in almost every department of life—from menus to makes of cars to brands of detergent.

Wouldn’t our ancestors be astonished if they could see the almost unlimited choices available to us?

Many avenues?

In regard to salvation, are there many roads to heaven? Does the Bible teach that?

Christ “became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation” (Hebrews 5:9). But what if we disobey? See 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9.

“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

The Bible says there is only one gospel, only one faith, only one Savior, only one way to be saved, and only one road that leads to life (Galatians 1:6-9; Ephesians 4:4-6; John 14:6; Acts 4:12; Matthew 7:13-14).

So what’s our choice? Take it or leave it.

If God offers us one and only one way to be saved, and He does, should any of us have a problem with that?

After all, isn’t that far more than we deserve?

Jesus bridge-tagged

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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Need Help?

I was in my thirties before I learned that men are reluctant to ask directions when driving. That was news to me! When I was growing up, my dad would often stop and ask. So when I got out on my own, I thought nothing of doing the same.

When GPS and roadmaps aren’t quite enough, it strikes me as silly to be in a strange place and forge ahead, hoping to figure out the right road when a simple question could save a lot of time and gasoline.

Pride? A sense of self-sufficiency? Is that it? Is that why macho men don’t want to admit they’re lost?

Choosing our destination

Life is a journey with a destination. We’re all headed somewhere. Some don’t have a clue where they’re headed or what the alternatives are. That’s why we have the Bible.

The Bible tells us: 1) There are two roads. 2) One road leads to life, the other to destruction. 3) We must choose (Matthew 7:13-14).

The road to destruction requires no particular effort to reach that destination. We can go to hell by default, by doing absolutely nothing.

By choosing life

If we choose the road to life, we need to understand: a) how to get on the only road that actually leads there, and b) how to stay on that road.

In other words, we need lots of help to make it. We need the grace of God to forgive and sustain us, we need the Holy Spirit to strengthen us, the Scriptures to teach us, the fellowship of believers to encourage us, and the daily intercession of our Mediator at the Father’s right hand.

Proud people don’t like to admit they need help. But is there anyone who doesn’t? There’s no such thing as a truly self-made man, especially when it comes to our salvation.

No wonder the Scriptures repeatedly urge us to humble ourselves, to seek God, and to admit our inadequacies (Luke 18:9-14).

Reluctance to seek the help we so desperately need and which is so readily available for the asking is far worse than silly—it is eternally fatal to our souls.

So go ahead, ask!

man driving-tagged

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“Then What Shall I Do with Jesus?”

His question/Their answer

The governor was in a dilemma, and he knew it. As Caesar’s official representative in Judea it was Pilate’s responsibility to deal with those brought to him for judgment.

Never in his career had Pilate dealt with anyone like Him. He knew this Galilean was innocent of the charges so vehemently made against Him. He also knew what lay behind the vicious accusations: It was envy.

When Pilate asked, “Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?” The people shouted, “Crucify Him!” (Matthew 27:22).

Countless sermons been preached on the subject “What Shall I Do with Jesus?” It’s a good question, a disturbing question, one that deserves and demands an answer.

When we meet Jesus

Jesus is not simply a great Teacher who lived nearly 2,000 years ago. He lives today, reigning at the right hand of His Father.

Someday He will return. His second coming will be quite unlike His first. He came the first time to make our salvation possible. He’ll come again to bring it all to a conclusion. He will judge the world (Acts 17:30-31).

Each of us will face Him personally in Judgment. Awesome thought!

The choice we make

We can face Him prepared or unprepared. We can hear Him say, “Come, you who are blessed of My Father . . . .” Or we can hear Him say to us, “Depart from Me . . .” (Matthew 25:34; 7:23).

Do we want Him to bless us? “. . . God raised up His Servant and sent Him to bless you by turning every one of you from your wicked ways” (Acts 3:26).

Do we want Him for our Friend? Jesus said to His disciples, “You are My friends if you do what I command you”: (John 15:14).

Do we want Him to save us? “. . . He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation . . .” (Hebrews 5:9).

What will you do with Jesus?

making decision-tagged

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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What Moses Declined–And What He Chose Instead

A major test of our character is what we choose—and what we do not choose.

Moses’ choices

As an infant, Moses was adopted by the Egyptian princess and was given a first-rate Egyptian education (Acts 7:20-22). Moses had it all. But then he gave it all up. Why?

“By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to endure ill-treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, considering the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he was looking to the reward” (Hebrews 11:24-26).

Moses would appreciate John Newton’s great hymn, “Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken,” which includes these lines: “Fading is the worldling’s pleasure,/All his boasted pomp and show;/Solid joys and lasting treasure/None but Zion’s children know.”

On two separate occasions, decades later, God was so angry with Israel that He told Moses he would destroy them and make Moses the father of a great nation. Moses declined the honor and pled with God to spare Israel. And God did (Exodus 32:7-14; Numbers 14:11-20).

Like Moses

God promised to raise up an even greater Prophet like Moses—none other than Jesus Himself (Deuteronomy 18:15; Acts 3:19-24; John 5:45-47).

Moses endured because he was “looking to the reward” (Hebrews 11:26). Jesus endured “for the joy set before Him” (Hebrews 12:1-3).

And we?

choice of paths-tagged

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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Good Cling/Bad Cling

Wise counsel

Nearing the end of his life, Joshua urges Israel to be faithful to the God who had done so much for them. He tells them, “But you are to cling to the LORD your God . . . . For if you ever go back and cling to the rest of these nations . . .”─and then Joshua warns them of the consequences of such a choice (Joshua 23:8, 12).

These two “clings” are mutually exclusive. The pagan nations were involved in idolatry and immorality. To cling to them would be to become infected with their sins. The only safe recourse—and the only logical one—is to “cling to the Lord your God.”

Lessons for us

First, we will cling to someone or something.

Second, we have a choice what we cling to.

Third, clinging to God is greatly to our advantage.

Fourth, clinging to the world, however attractive it may be, is fatal.

Fifth, we cannot cling to both at the same time.

Our choice

Jesus said we can’t serve both God and Mammon (wealth) (Matthew 6:24). James warns that friendship with the world makes us God’s enemy (James 4:4). John says that if we love the world, the love of the Father is not in us (1 John 2:15-17). God or money? God or the world?

We who are Christians have already made our choice! May it not be said of us what God said of Israel, “‘For as the waistband clings to the waist of a man, so I made the whole household of Israel and the whole household of Judah cling to Me,’ declares the LORD, ‘that they might be for Me a people, for renown, for praise and for glory; but they did not listen” (Jeremiah 13:11).

So how do we?

God intends for us to learn from their tragic experience so we won’t repeat the same error. So how do we cling to God? By clinging to His word, by clinging to Him in prayer, by clinging to His church.

Are we on clinging terms with God?

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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Division Over Jesus

Jesus at the center of controversy

Three times the apostle John uses the word “division” regarding the opposite views people were taking about Jesus (7:40-43; 9:16; 10:19-21). Some believed in Him; others rejected Him.

  • Some argued that Jesus is the Christ, while others said He could not be the Christ because the Messiah was to come from Bethlehem (John 7:40-43).

They were right in believing that the Messiah would come from Bethlehem (Micah 5:2; Matthew 2:1-6). But they were ignorant of the fact that Jesus of Nazareth was born in Bethlehem. Because they didn’t have all the facts, they came to the wrong conclusion.

  • In the second case of division (John 9:16) some were saying that Jesus could not be from God because He did not keep the Sabbath. Others argued, “How can a man who is a sinner perform such signs?”

Because Jesus healed on the Sabbath, some accused Him of violating the prohibition against working on the seventh day (Exodus 20:8-10). What Jesus violated was not God’s law, but the Pharisaic traditions regarding the Sabbath. Even Jesus’ opponents allowed certain kinds of work on the Sabbath (Matthew 12:1-7; Luke 14:1-6; John 7:22-24).

  • And then the third division: “Many of them were saying, ‘He has a demon and is insane. Why do you listen to Him.’ Others were saying, ‘These are not the sayings of one demon-possessed. A demon cannot open the eyes of the blind, can he?’” (John 10:19-21).

And our response?

So how shall we decide about Jesus? A fair-minded reading of the New Testament shows abundant evidence that Jesus really is who He claimed to be: the Christ, the Son of God.

It’s really impossible to be neutral about Jesus. We must decide what we believe about Him, but whatever we conclude, we had better make sure we’re right!

What if one were to assert that George Washington is a mythical figure who never actually existed? Would it matter, ultimately, if we took that view, wrong as it is?

We cannot have a personal relationship with George Washington. He did not die to save us from hell. Nor will he be our judge on the last day. If we choose to reject Washington as a historic figure, what difference really does it make in the long run?

But what if we’re wrong about Jesus?

young man thinking-tagged

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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