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Your Future Is a Matter of Choice

“No man can serve two masters….”  That would be like going two directions at the same time. It would be like playing on opposing teams in the same game. In life as in athletics it doesn’t work.

Reality is every person serves a master, every person. You can’t opt out saying you don’t have a master. You do.

If you chose to serve yourself, the ultimate “me” you are choosing to serve is a corrupt master. The “me” you choose to serve is corrupted by being a member of the fallen human race.

Simon Peter warned there are persons who are “slaves to corruption.” (II Peter 2:19) Choose to serve the best Master.

“Me” is a malevolent master, that is, corrupted one with lower standards, having a degenerate disposition.

Choose instead to serve a benevolent Master, Jesus Christ. He can counter the corrupted nature within you. The benevolent Master can alert you to the error and emptiness of the world around you.

He can emancipate you from the selfish power of a “me” centered world. He can give you higher aspirations, ambitions, and attitudes. He can open your life to loftier dreams, desires, and drives.

Real freedom is coming under the power of His delivering influence, building a defense against further corruption, and opening a new view of life: abundant life.

Life consists of the choices we make every day. If you have not made a conscious choice, you have by default been serving the “me” god.

In Elijah’s day he challenged the people saying, “How long will you falter between two opinions?” (I Kings 18:21)

Joshua gathered the people at Shechem and charged them, “…choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve…” (Joshua 24:19) He put a time on choosing, “this day.” Even the most devout should use this day to renew and deepen the choice.

It is a mind-blowing concept that the God who created the Universe is looking for company, a real relationship with people. His love preempts the consequence of our sinful actions. In turn He offers us a cleansed joyous life with the ability to interpret the choices around us.

He gives us strength by which to live,

He gives us peace in which to live.

He gave Himself for whom to live.

Every decision affords a choice of which master to serve.

A New You

“Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.” (Proverbs 16:3)

Ageing is inevitable. Growing stale while aging is optional. It doesn’t matter if you have most of life behind you or ahead of you, it pays to often check up on what you are doing and how you are doing. Whether you’re living it to the fullest is important. Are you living it so as to hear the Final Judge’s “well done?”

Don’t get off course. If you do, use your vector corrector, the Word of God, to get back on course. Know where you are going and how to get there.

You can’t go back now and make a brand new start, but you can start now and make a brand new conclusion. Think about it, are there things you can do to make for a better you going forward?

Venture or vegetate. If you don’t make mistakes, you won’t make a difference. Everybody makes mistakes, it is how you take your mistakes that matters. Failure doesn’t have to be final. Recovery is renewing. 

Have you a dream or a vision of what is possible for you to achieve? A dream is what one sees as worthy and possible and wakes up and does nothing about it. A vision is the same, it is what you see as worthy and possible and go out and work to achieve it. Don’t let your vision die in infancy. Nurture it.

Begin creating a new and better you by setting worthy overall attainable goals, such as, to love others more, to engage in unsolicited assistance of others, to give more of myself and my substance, and be less self-centered. Establish what you want the new you to be like. What epithet would you like on your tombstone? 

As you become such a person, set some worthy material goals. Evaluate what it will take to achieve them, a timeline for doing so, cost and means of financing them.

Set your life’s commitment and declare: “To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me.” (Colossians 1:29)

To have the proper superstructure for this new you resolve to chase after God and resolve to live in a manner pleasing to Him. This will require daily time alone with Him, a system of Bible reading, and a devout prayer life. Make a part of your prayer life the romancing of God. Tell Him of your love and devotion as though He doesn’t know it.

“…may your hearts be fully committed to the Lord our God, to live by his decrees and obey his commands ….” (I Kings 8:61) 

There is an old truism worth committing to memory:

There is no looking back, I’ve stepped over the line.
I won’t let up, back up, give up, or shut up.
My focus is clear, my path is straight.
My God is reliable. I’m a follower of Christ.

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:9) 

Free Love

“He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him.” (I John 4:8, 9)

To say God “is love” (agape) is to say that God is the most self-sacrificial being in the universe, and as such he went to incredible lengths to set humankind right. For Christians, God is the very definition of self-sacrificial love (agape) and what it truly means. 

This love described in 1 John 4 implies something fundamental about the freedom of God. Love cannot be compelled, manipulated, or predetermined if it is to be genuine love. It has to be freely given and freely received. God did not have to love a world full of self-centered and sinful human beings, but he chose to do this—and this accorded with God’s very nature. Even more interesting and surprising is that 1 John 4 also tells us that God’s love comes to its fullest as freely expressed toward his “beloved humans.” 

Therefore, “We love (agapomen),”  “because he first loved (egapesen) us.” (1 John 4:19) Our response is also free. We are to freely obey the great commandment to love God with all that we are and to love our neighbor as ourselves.

It is, of course, true that in the great commandment, “You shall love (agapeseis) the Lord your God with all your being” (Mark 12:30), the writer is not referring to feelings.

The commandment to love God has little to do with feelings. It has to do with self-sacrificially loving God and others just as we have been loved by God.

That is the greatest challenge any person will ever be given.

In Greek there are four basic kinds of love. They are:

Eros: Romantic love; erotic desire; intimacy; infatuation with another’s beauty.

Philia: Brotherly love; friendship; affectionate regard for and loyalty to friends, family, and community, requiring virtue, equality, and familiarity.

Storge: Familial love; affection; natural empathy for one’s family, country, or team.

Agape: Unconditional, self-sacrificial love; charity; God’s unconditional, self-sacrificial love for humankind and humankind’s love for a good God and for others. 

It is the last of these that is used of God and our love for Him. Read that definition and ask yourself, am I showing that kind of love for God and people?

Metaphors With Meaning

The Bible is full of metaphors. Metaphors? Yes. A metaphor is a figure of speech in which a term or phrase is applied to something to which it is not literally applicable in order to suggest a likeness, as in “A mighty fortress is our God.”

God is not literally a fortress, but He does for us what a fortress does for its occupant. It provides strength and protection.

Humor is found when people mix their metaphors, as in:

He is trying to get all of his ducks on the same page.

He has a lot of black sheep in his closet.

I’ve got it right on the fork of my tongue.

I looked to see what I could hear.

Consider the following metaphors in the Bible and their meaning.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)

Here Jesus compares Himself to a vine and calls His followers branches of the vine, in that they are extensions of Himself and good things will come as a result of their faith.

Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” (John 10:11)

Jesus compares Himself to a shepherd, and His people to sheep. A shepherd’s job is to protect the sheep from danger and lead them to pasture. Similarly, Jesus explains that He has to die to protect His people. This is a clear depiction of Jesus dying for our sins, and of our relationship to Him.

As sheep in the Bible are completely dependent on the shepherd, so we are dependent on Him. As the shepherd is to the sheep, so Jesus is to us.

As you venture in life, go forth with the confidence of the psalmist who wrote, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want … He restores my soul.” 

Reenact that and live confidently, as in a mixed metaphor, don’t run around like a chicken with a bad haircut.

Prayer With a Purpose

Jesus Christ prayed for you as noted in John 14. If Jesus prayed for us, we should pray for one another. 

Paul prayed what might be considered a model prayer for one another in Colossians 1:9-11. This prayer embodies two great requests:

(1) For an understanding of God’s will, and

(2) For the power to do it.

Prayer is not so much trying to make God listen to us as it is us trying to listen to Him. 

It might be described like a ship docking. The ship’s mooring rope is thrown over the docking post on the wharf, not to draw the wharf to the ship, but to draw the ship to the dock. Prayer is not an attempt to convert God to our will, but to draw us to His will. This prayer includes a request for …

* Knowledge of God’s Will. (vv. 9-10)   His will is revealed in His Word. Knowledge is God’s will for our general moral conduct, perception of spiritual values, and priorities basic to a Christ pleasing life.

* Wisdom is the knowledge of the best way of attaining God’s will.

* Understanding. Ability to apply first principles. It is the conversion of comprehension into conduct.

This prayer contained an appeal to be real. (vv. 10-11a)

“To walk” is a summary expression for lifestyle. Let your lifestyle be —

“Worthy” (axios) as used means “having the weight of another thing.”  The picture is of a set of balancing scales. Christ is the counterbalance against which your life is to be measured. The more nearly the scale is balanced the more “fully pleasing it is to Him.” To do this you must be —

“strengthened” (dunamoo) meaning to have the inherent power to do, to be made strong. To accomplish this God gives “power” (kratos). You have a certain inherent strength which is motivated by His manifested strength.

Therefore, don’t just hope for the best while thinking the worst. Your thoughts are the architects of your deeds. God Himself wants to be the builder.

Such a lifestyle results in three virtues. (v. 11b)

* Patience, under trial (hupomone), with things and circumstances. This is the ability to deal triumphantly with anything life throws at you. It is not the kind of patience that just sits with head bowed and lets life roll over you like a tidal wave. It is the ability to turn them into your good and His glory.

* Longsuffering, under provocation (makrothumia) of people. This is the ability to bear people’s maliciousness and bitterness. It is the mental ability not to give vent to passionate violence. It is brave patience. 

* Joy. This results from a heart at peace with itself because of a preoccupation with Christ. It refers to a buoyant sense of mastery.

Having read this, now go back and study it, asking for these qualities.