NOTE: We are still vacationing, so I am posting while I have Internet access!
~excerpted from The Pattern of Peace by Charles Stanley
“[I]t can sometimes seem as if we are victims of our highly stressful world, but in reality, every Christian can choose to live in peace rather than under a burden of anxiety. If we let apprehension rule our hearts, it will interfere with sleep, disrupt concentration, hinder productivity, steal joy, and even cause health problems. However, when Christ, the Prince of Peace, has full authority over our lives, He guards our hearts and minds by building a wall of protection against worry.
Stress may pull us apart mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually, but God’s peace will always bind us back together so we can be whole again. And while we cannot control many of the stressful situations in our lives, we can decide which master we will serve.”
If you do not know the inner peace that only God can bring, you can! This is the ideal season for you to meet His Son, Jesus, who came into the world to make peace between you and God. He died on the cross, was buried and rose again to bring you into a right relationship with God, the Father. (Romans 5:1) If you will accept Jesus as your personal Savior, all your sins will be forgiven, and He will give you His peace (John 14:27). Please visit the SALVATION tab above to learn more and to take the first step toward a relationship with Christ and His peace.
If you already have a relationship with Christ, this is a great season to rededicate your life to Him. You might start by reading these Scriptures: 2 Kings 20:3; Psalm 119:44. Read, too, Jacob’s story in Genesis 28:16-18, and begin the habit of rededicating yourself daily. Consider what that might look and sound like.
This semester I asked my college seniors to unplug for one weekend. No cell phone. No laptop, iPad, desktop, etc. No Twitter. No Facebook. No Instagram. No Internet.
“No way!” they said.
But they did.
And they shared their stories which were hilarious – the reaching for the phone that was not there, the lost “don’t know what to do with myself” feelings, the disconnect, the struggle to get anything done without the Internet.
People are more connected to one another than ever before because ours is an Internet and Social Networking world. When we are not talking, we are texting or instant-messaging or Skyping or tweeting or something. We are connected, and yet we are not.
Michael Price writes in his work, Alone in the Crowd, that we are “more lonely and distant from one another” in our “unplugged lives.” It’s true. Most any teenager will tell you that they’d rather text than talk. And while a lot of adults won’t readily admit it, they, too, would rather email than talk.
We live in neighborhoods but don’t know our neighbors. We work in offices but don’t know our cubicle mates. We go to churches but don’t know our fellow parishioners. Sometimes we live in houses and don’t know our family members! Not really.
We were made to be social creatures. In Genesis 2, God saw that it was not good for Adam to be alone and created for him a mate. So why do we retreat behind locked doors, shut blinds and closed minds? Well, probably for one – it’s just easier. Less drama and less headache. Admittedly, I’ve had my days when I have longed for an island. But, again, we weren’t designed for long-term island living. At least not in the sense that I mean – ALONE!
Like it or not, our lives are inextricably linked. The choices we make affect others. Deuteronomy 30:19 (NASB) says, “I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants…” Every day you are choosing for yourself but also for your descendants. You must make decisions today with tomorrow’s impact in mind, and you must consider current choices in light of future generations.
Are you choosing wisely? Someone’s life is inextricably linked with yours and the choices you make! Ponder that this week along with the following Scriptures and questions.
Monday: Joshua 24:15 (NASB)
“If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
Questions for Reflection: Whom or what have you chosen to serve? What is the impact of your choice on your descendants – immediate (now) and later? You may say, “I haven’t chosen.” Did you know that by not choosing you are choosing?
Tuesday: 1 Peter 2:9 (NASB)
“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;”
Questions for Reflection: Make note of the choices you make today – what to wear, how to drive, whether to speak to someone you pass on the street or in the hallway at work, what to eat for dinner, etc. How many choices did you make? They may seem insignificant, but what is the impact of each decision – for you, for those around you – immediate (now) and later? Do your choices reflect well on you? On your Lord?
Wednesday: Romans 2:6-8 (NASB)
“who will render to each person according to his deeds: to those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life; but to those who are selfishly ambitious and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, wrath and indignation.”
Questions for Reflection: Consider two choices you have made in the past – one selfless, one selfish. What has been the return on those choices – for you? For those you love? What, if anything, do you need to change as you go forward?
Thursday: Proverbs 14:12 (ESV)
“There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.”
Questions for Reflection: How do you make choices? Do you do what you think seems right, or do you pray for wisdom and direction?
Friday: Biblical Principles for Making Wise Decisions
But what’s between B and D? It’s a C. So what is C?
It is a Choice.
Life is a matter of choices.
And, if you are like me, sometimes that is good and sometimes that seems not so good. For example, there are days when I wish someone would just make all the decisions for me from what to put on in the morning to what to eat for lunch to what to do about a problem at work and, surely, what to serve for dinner. (How many ways can you cook chicken!)
My pastor preached a sermon once about our stuff and how much of our time, energy, mental faculties, etc. are consumed by our stuff. I remember him saying that if you only owned two shirts, chances are one would be on your back and the other in your closet. Not a lot to think about there – you’re either wearing one or the other. (Hmm, definitely a message there for us ladies, but I won’t touch that one today.)
The fact of the matter is that we have choices in life. In America, we tend to have the luxury (or the headache) of a lot of choices. Our closets, for the most part, are full. Our pantries are full. Our days are full. We are constantly bombarded by choices.
When it comes to life, I think the “choice” is whether to choose to live or just to exist until death.
And, yes, even in this we have a choice because Our Father has given us free will – the ability to make certain choices.
Consider Deuteronomy 30:11-20. (Please read the full text; I’ve shared an excerpt here.)
Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach. It is not up in heaven… Nor is it beyond the sea… No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it. I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. 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. “But if your heart turns away and you will not obey… you shall surely perish. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants – by loving the LORD your God, by obeying His voice, and by holding fast to Him; for this is your life and the length of your days. (NASB)
I love this text! It seems to have in mind those of us who simply don’t want the pressure of another choice, another decision. This is essentially a no-brainer; “what I am commanding is not too difficult for you.” There are but two choices – life and prosperity or death and destruction. Like those two shirts, you’re either choosing one or the other.
For years I struggled to have children. After many pills, procedures and prayers the time seemed right. My OB/GYN told me to act immediately, but a lot else was going on in life, so I told him I wasn’t ready to decide. I will never forget his response – “By not deciding, you are deciding!” Wow! That bit of wisdom is apropos for much of life (maybe all of life.) By not deciding, we are deciding. The author of Deuteronomy tells us to love the Lord, to walk in His ways, to keep His commands, to obey His voice, to hold fast to Him. This is life and the length of our days. And the opposite (the other choice) brings the opposite – death.
What is Life? It is from B to D by way of C – our choices. Choose life!