If you want to move from where you are to where God wants you to be, then you are going to have to LEARN how to make good choices. Notice the word "LEARN" is capitalized. You have to learn how to make good choices or good decisions, because we don't always make good decisions naturally. Sometimes we make decisions based upon emotions, or knee jerk reactions or bad advice. However, we can LEARN how to take good counsel, know what wisdom looks like and sounds like, and we can surround ourselves with wise people. One decision can change the entire direction or course of your life as well as the lives of others. One decision can have enormous affect, either positive or negative.
The Roman Emperor, Constantine, chose to become a follower of Christ, and his decision affected countless millions of people. Constantine ruled Rome from 306 AD to 337 AD. Christianity became the religion of Rome, and the Roman Empire was able to spread the message as far north as England and as far east as Turkey. One man's decision spread the gospel to the known world.
NASA knew the Challenger had "O" ring problems, but decided to launch the Space Shuttle anyway, killing everyone on board. Their decision sent a nation into mourning and set back the space program. Sometimes one single decision can bring failure or success into our lives. We know this one thing for certain - every decision we make affects our life and the lives of others. Your life is a photo album so to speak or a "mosaic" of the choices you have made.
Have you ever looked through an old family photo album or clicked through a thumb drive to look at all the different places you have visited, seen all the different people in your lives and even the major events that have shaped your life, and realize that those were your decisions and choices that created those moments and albums? When it comes right down to it, we must realize that everything is a choice. Every situation is a choice. Whether you have a good day or a bad day - it's a choice. It's true that you can't determine what's going to happen to you - you can only choose how you will respond. Your health - it's a choice. To be angry or not - it's a choice. Every day you and I make choice. Some are big and some are small. Some are important and some are not so important. Some are consequential and some are in-consequential. One thing is for certain - the choices you make will determine the course of your life.
Here are some other thoughts about choices. Your choices either have REWARDS or CONSEQUENCES. They either move you forward in life or backwards in life. They either set you up for failure, or they set you up for success. Not only do we need to learn how to make good choices, but we have to also become "Students of Consequences." What does it even mean to be "Students of Consequences?" It means to learn from your mistakes. If you don't learn from your mistakes, what happens? You are doomed to repeat them again, and you have to re-learn the lesson. Choices have rewards and consequences. We are free to make any choice we want to make, but once we make that choice, we become slaves to its consequences or beneficiaries to its success.
Here's a great article that might interest you:
Early childhood specialist, Prue Walsh, noticed that more and more children between the ages of 2-7 were sustaining a greater number of injuries on the playground (based on the data collected). She said "the playground Nazi's have gone so far overboard designing the playgrounds that children were no longer able to assess risks."
Sometimes you have to learn there are consequences to what you do and hopefully once you have learned that lesson, you won't repeat it!
Lot, from the Old Testament, chose to relocate his family in Sodom and Gomorrah, the original "Sin City" (bad decision) and the results were, he lost his wife and his two daughters. The other two daughters sinned so greatly, that it affected the rest of all of their lives. King David decided to have an affair with Bathsheba and because of his decision, many other lives were affected as well.
THREE WAYS TO APPROACH LIFE:
1) GOD IS IN CONTROL - I believe that, and I believe that ultimately, God is in control. Don't misinterpret that as "God approves of everything that happens," because He certainly does not. Nor does it mean that everything that happens is pre-ordained by God, because it isn't. God is in control when we make bad choices or bad decisions, and He can take our messes and turn them into blessings, right? Let's break this down a little. If God were in complete control, then why would He allow there to be rapes, wars, murders or any other horrible atrocities? There is something else that needs to be added into the equation.
2) SATAN IS IN CONTROL - The other side of the coin is that Satan is the god of this world and he is in control. To a degree, I can see that. Satan is the god of this world, he has legal ownership of it for now, but if he were in complete control, why would he even allow us to be here today? Why wouldn't he have killed us before we got here to worship God and to serve, to be sharpened by the word, or to see people get saved?
3) OUR CHOICES AFFECT THE OUTCOMES WE SEE IN OUR LIVES - God partners with us to shape the world we live in. Whoa, now that changes everything! God will help you make good decisions. He wants you to make good decisions and good choices. That's why He has given us a book filled with wisdom, examples and promises - The Bible!
Everything happens for a reason and all things work together for the good. But there is another side to this saying that is just as true: Everything happens for a reason, and the reason is you're stupid and you make poor choices. We have to be careful that we don't confuse our disobedience as "the devil made me do it." I wonder sometimes, is the devil really attacking me, or have I lowered my guard, dropped my standards or given in to the flesh? 361 times in the Bible it says that if I do [this], then [this] will be the outcome. My doing something, my choosing, my decisions and my actions create the direction and outcome of my life.
The choices that you and I make allow us to be a candidate for a different future. If I don't like my marriage, my job, my finances or myself, then I can choose to be different. The most powerful force in our lives is the power of choice! When change is necessary (and it always is), then to not change is destructive. When it becomes necessary to change the way I eat, and I don't, then that's destructive. Change the way I spend money, and I don't, that's destructive. To change the way I treat others, and I don't, that's destructive.
In Deuteronomy 30:19, Joshua says, "This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live." Joshua basically says, "Here are the choices, and I'm going to go ahead and give you the answer to this quiz."
Here's a great tool to put in your tool box concerning decision making: Always choose the things that bring life. Exodus 20:5 says, "You shall not worship them and serve them for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquities of the fathers on the children on the third and fourth generations of them that hate me." Now, let me clarify this verse; this is not teaching generational curses. Jesus redeemed you from the curse. God is not putting curses on people. In fact, the word "visiting" basically means IMPACTING. It means the decisions we make not only affect us, but they affect our children and our grandchildren as well. That is why it's so important that we make good decisions; because decisions can be far reaching. The best decisions are made when we see the big picture, or take the long time perspective.
Look at the life of Jonah, who made bad decision after bad decision. He made his decisions out of fear, crisis, emergency and without thought of consequences. Hebrews 12:1-3 says, "Jesus endured the cross for the joy that was set before Him." He endured hardships, pain, suffering and betrayal, just so he could spend eternity with you.
I am responsible for my life. I can blame others and that creates temporary relief from the pain in my life, but will destroy my ability to find answers or solve problems in my life. Blame always looks backwards, and responsibility always looks forward.
Ask yourself this question: What am I going to do TODAY that will make a difference in how my life will look tomorrow? I included the word TODAY because if you don't do something TODAY, then you and I both know what tomorrow will look like. You can tell what the next two years of your life will look like by looking at the last two years of your life. Faith is NOW! Hebrews 11:1, "Now faith is the confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see." The greatest choice you can make is to choose faith in spite of the facts. People say, "Well, facts don't lie." No, they don't, but they don't tell the whole story either. Proverbs 3:5 says, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not to your own understanding." There are times that the facts of life work against us; they tell us opposite of what we want to hear. Facts will tell you, "you're too old; you're not qualified; you can't; you will never fulfill your dream; you're never going to get better; and your situation will never change." But I say - choose faith anyway!
Here is one very important fact: "God is God and He always will be God. And because He is God, He can do the impossible!" The facts may be against you, but God is for you! Here's the reality - God is not moved by facts! 2 Corinthians 5:7 says, "We walk by faith, not by sight."