You choose a life of blessing and reward OR a life of mediocrity and defeat. We all know that a life of blessing and reward don't just happen automatically or by chance. There is no such thing as an auto pilot switch for your life. It all happens by CHOICE. One of the greatest mistakes anyone can ever make is when they fail to CHOOSE! Choosing to not choose is a bad choice. Many people assume that life just happens to them - randomly or haphazardly. They want a better life and they are just waiting for life to get better. They have this belief (which, by the way, is a wrong belief) that they have no power over their own lives. You don't get a better life; you create a better life by the choices you make. And then there are those who are just "comfortable" in believing that fate, chance or luck are what are controlling their lives. And then there are other who think/believe that "if God wants them to have something, then they will have it." In other words, "Let's just put the monkey on God's back for how my life turns out." Let me repeat, "The will of God is not automatic; you have to pray; you have to have faith; and you have to choose." The BLESSED life happens by CHOICE! The greatest power you have is your power to choose. The Bible says you can choose life or death, blessing or cursing, to be happy or sad. God DOES NOT make our choices for us. We do! We choose and we decide.
As I mentioned in PART TWO of this study on CHOICES - You have already made a good choice by being in church, but you don't stop there! You have to keep making good decisions. Good decisions create momentum for your life. Follow up good decisions with more good decisions. Here are some examples for choosing your level of participation in church:
WORSHIP - How am I going to worship today? With my whole heart or just half heartedly?
PRAYER - Are my prayers going to be ritualistic (meaning without passion) or faith filled? Are my prayers going to be powerful and anointed?
GIVING - I can choose to be an extravagant and cheerful giver. Is my giving going to be an act of worship or just another bill to pay?
HEARING - Jesus said, "It's important the amount of emphasis you place on mixing faith with the word you are hearing." In other words, am I just sitting through another church service OR am I allowing the word of God to change me and equip me?
RELATIONSHIP BUILDING - Into whose life can I be a blessing today? How can I let God use me to be a blessing?
Making good choices begins with your non-negotiable reality. Here's an example of Joseph: He was sold by his brothers into slavery (he had no choice). He was betrayed over and over (he had no choice). He was falsely accused (he had no choice), and he was falsely imprisoned (again, he had no choice). But, giving up or giving in were not options for Joseph. Even with all these things, Joseph still CHOSE his perspective, his attitude and his responses. And his CHOICES affected his outcome.
Victor Frankl, a prisoner/survivor of Nazi concentration camps, lost everything he had or had everything taken away. His wife died in a concentration camp. His mother and his brother died in a concentration camp. He himself was imprisoned in Auschwitz - one of the worst. But he had decided he was still in control of his attitude and he refused to be a victim or to submit to defeat. After being liberated, he continued his career as a successful psychiatrist, educator, author and teacher. His most famous book was "Saying Yes To Life In Spite of Everything." Here are a couple of quotes from this book: "Between stimulus and response, there is a space and in that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom." "When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves." The point here is that circumstances cannot take away your power to choose! You can CHOOSE today to not be afraid. You can choose today to deal with the guilt that has consumed your life. You can choose today to not be lonely. You can choose today to not be angry. And you can choose today to not worry.
So many people struggle with worry. Let me remind you that worry is doubting God. You can choose to worry, or your can choose to live by faith. When you come to know Christ, and I mean REALLY know Christ, then that whiny attitude of yours becomes a thing of the past! When you walk by faith, it means you are not a crisis Christian and that you are not controlled by your crisis. Instead, you take the name of Jesus, the authority of that name, and you attack the crisis! I Peter 5:7 says, "Casting all your cares (anxiety) onto the Lord because He cares for you." How many cares? All of them. Not some and not just the small ones, but ALL of them! The big ones, the scary ones and the mean ones. The Bible says, "But thanks be to God, which gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." Here's the point behind this verse - God has given you the victory - it's already yours!
VICTORY is a gift from God, just like salvation is a gift from God. Did you have to work for your salvation? NO - you just believed and received it. We need to CHOOSE victory over defeat every time. All good choices begin with right thinking. You can choose "stinking thinking" or "Jesus thinking." Thomas had stinking thinking - "I'll have to see it before I believe it, or touch it with my own hands." Now Paul on the other hand, was snake bitten, criticized, beaten, stoned, shipwrecked and imprisoned and here is what he said, "These are all but light affliction." WHAT?????? So you can see that one had "stinking thinking" and the other had "Jesus thinking." You might ask "what is Jesus thinking?" Jesus thinking is when you choose to have the mind of Christ. To have the mind of Christ means to have the same outlook on life that Jesus had. An outlook towards God and not blaming Him, but believing Him; not doubting Him, but trusting Him. An outlook towards man - to seek, save and restore. An outlook on life - no doom, gloom or pitiful me, but always focused on doing God's will.
HERE ARE FOUR STEPS TO RENEWING YOUR MIND
RE-SURRENDER YOUR LIFE - Paul said to present our bodies as a living sacrifice. That means that every day we are to re-submit ourselves to God and re-align our thinking with His thinking. It's a daily decision to follow Christ and a daily decision to make Jesus the Lord of your life. DAILY DECISIONS DETERMINE DIRECTION.
REJOICE - Philippians 4:4 says, "rejoice in the Lord always and again I say rejoice." You can complain and remain or praise and be raised! It's a joy to serve God, not a burden. Delight yourself in the Lord. Love being a Christian and don't ever feel sorry for being a Christ follower.
REMEMBER - You and I are better with God than without Him. Remember everything God has done for you. Remember His word and what He has said. Remember His power and willingness to answer your prayers. Ask the Holy Spirit to quicken you and remind you every time you start to slip - this will keep you from slipping back into self-destructive patterns.
REPLACE - Replace old worn out thoughts with new and better thoughts. You have to stop thinking one way and start thinking a new way. STOP thinking about your old boyfriend/girlfriend. STOP thinking about how your Ex treated you. STOP thinking about people who have made your life miserable. STOP thinking about all the times you were mistreated. STOP thinking about and digging up all those hurtful emotions.
How many of you need to CHOOSE between life and death? How many of you need to go from good to great? Let's all be ready to create the life we desire.