Summary: God has created you and me with the freedom to choose – quite a scary thought!
1. Introduction: There seems to be a principle or law at the very heart of this universe – God has created man with the freedom to choose – quite a scary thought when you consider we have the freedom to choose:
· Life or death,
· Right or wrong,
· Heaven or Hell.
But this freedom to choose seems so important to God. Otherwise He could have “conditioned” us like robots, programmed only to do the right thing.
2. Blessings or Curses ~ the choice is yours! The heart of God longs and yearns for people to make the right choice. He helps us to make the right choices. Deuteronomy Chapter 28 lays out the choice facing Israel:
· Verses 1 & 2 “If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully follow all his commands that I give you today, …… All these blessings will come upon you “
· Verse 15: “However, if you do not obey the Lord your God and do not carefully follow all his commands and decrees I am giving you today, all these curses will come upon you and overtake you”
There was a choice, notice the little word “IF”! - If they chose to obey God – big blessings, if they chose to go their own way – curses would be the result of ignoring God’s guidelines for success.
3. Freedom to make your own choice ~ good or bad! Jesus similarly gave people the freedom to make their own choice to follow Him.
· If we look at Mark 10:17 – 23 we learn that the rich young ruler was given the space and choice to make his own decision to follow Jesus for himself.
· How many of us would have ran after him, trying to persuade him, for his own good (In love, of course!) to do the right thing? But no, Jesus let him go, He gave him the choice – and “looked at him and loved him”.
· Maybe we need to let people go (a son, or daughter perhaps), to let them make the right choice themselves, even if painfully, they make the wrong choice.
4. It’s the freedom to choose that I believe God wants
· You know using force, demands or even manipulation does not work – its usually temporary at best, and people are quick to return to their own way when the pressure is off.
· God wants people to choose Him for themselves prompted by love, responding with grateful hearts. When people choose for themselves it’s a heart change not a forced change. God does not want to force anyone to love Him. We shouldn’t try to make them either.
“Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom” (2 Cor 3:17)
5. Look at Jesus words, so often its that little word again: “IF”!
“If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me”. Mark 8:34
“If you love me, you will obey what I command.” John 14:15
“If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching.” John 14: 23
“If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you will, and it will be given to you”. . John 14:7
· You see, our often “you must” does not give the response God wants. What husband/wife or parent wants to force their partner/child to love them? Neither does Christ. Its “IF – CHOICE – then because you love someone you choose to obey out of gratitude and love. Can I point out that this obedience results in blessings for ourselves and others? It makes sense!
6. Helping to make right decisions. So is it hands off, no interest or participation whatsoever in helping people to make the right choices. Not at all. We can and should help people in whatever way we can to make wise decisions:
Sometimes, God will give extra special help to assist people in making the right choices! Lets remind ourselves of the “help” God gave Jonah to make the right choice! Stay in a whale’s belly or go and preach to Nineveh! I am not suggesting that we arrange for our dearly loved ones to spend a week in similar conditions to come to their senses. But here are some practical things worth considering:
· Lets choose to make the right choices ourselves, living the right life style before we start to help others (think of getting the plank out of your own eye first before helping to get that speck out of your brother’s!). For it was for “freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Gal 5:1
· We need to pray, often in secret without saying a word to the person we are praying for in our prayer closet.