1. Choices For The New Year
“A land which the LORD thy God careth for: the eyes of the LORD thy God are always upon it, from the beginning of the year even unto the end of the year.” Deuteronomy 11:12
The first part of this chapter reminds the children of Israel all that God had done for them. “But your eyes have seen all the great acts of the LORD which he did.” (verse 7) The latter verses tell them of the promises of God’s blessings on them if they keep God’s commandments. “And it shall come to pass, if ye shall hearken diligently unto my commandments which I command you this day, to love the LORD your God, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul, That I will give you the rain of your land in his due season…” (verses 13 & 14) The children of Israel chould choose to serve God and receive His blessing, or choose to serve idols and be cursed. We also have choices. We are crossing from the end of one year to the beginning of a New Year. We need to look back with thankfulness on all the blessings God has given us. We need to look forward to the New Year and choose to follow His commandments, knowing that His eyes are always on us, “from the beginning of the year even unto the end of the year”.
2. In The Beginning
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.” John 1:1-3
We just celebrated Christmas, the birth of our Lord. But that was not the beginning of our Lord. He “was in the beginning with God”. We read in Revelation 19:13 that “His name is called The Word of God”. We know that there is power in the Word by reading the story of creation. Many, many verses in the first chapter of Genesis say, “And God said…and it was so.” We also see the power of His Word in the life of Christ. When Jesus was tempted by the devil, He answered by The Word of God. Many times in His ministry, He spoke and multitudes were healed. He spoke and Lazarus was raised from the dead. At the sound of His voice, the storms ceased. He is from the beginning until the end. The last recorded words of our Savior are, “Surely, I come quickly.” (Revelation 22:20) Trust in His Word. Look for His coming.
3. Choose Whom Ye Will Serve
“And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” Joshua 24:15
We are beginning a new year. We will all make choices that will affect the rest of our lives. Preacher Bob Sanders from Tennessee used this verse to exhort us to make good choices. Joshua said, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” He had lived his life in service for the Lord, and he chose to continue to serve the Lord. He was an example for all the children of Israel. We read in verse 31, “And Israel served the LORD all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders that overlived Joshua, and which had known all the works of the LORD, that he had done for Israel.” Each day you will choose whom you will serve, and your life and the lives of those around you will be affected by your choices. It is time for Christians to take a stand and say with Joshua, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
4. Mary Hath Chosen That Good Part
“Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word. But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? Bid her therefore that she help me. And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:38-42
Joshua told the children of Israel to choose whom they would serve. We read of Mary and Martha in Luke 10. Martha did well in her service to the Lord. When we have guests in our home, we try to serve them well and make them feel welcome. But sometimes we need to take time out of our busy schedule of service to sit at the feet of Jesus. Just like Mary, we need to sit and hear the Word of the Lord. There are many things in the world today that can trouble us. I have been reading about the earthquake and tsunami in Asia and it is very disturbing to think about those poor, helpless people. We have just come through the Christmas season and many times we have so much going on that we get stressed out and weary. We read in II Thessalonians 3:13, “But ye, brethren, be not weary in well doing.” Yes, we need to choose whom we will serve, but we also need to take time to sit at the feet of our Lord and listen to His Word. Take time to read God’s Word and pray, for that is also needful.
5. Israel Chose A King
“And Samuel said to all the people, See ye him whom the LORD hath chosen, that there is none like him among all the people? And all the people shouted, and said, God save the king.” I Samuel 10:24
I have often heard people say that because something happened, “it must have been God’s will”. Well, sometimes we make choices that are not God’s will. The elders of Israel went to Samuel and said, “make us a king to judge us like all the nations.” (I Samuel 8:5) “And the LORD said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them. According to all the works which they have done since the day that I brought them up out of Egypt even unto this day, wherewith they have forsaken me, and served other gods, so do they also unto thee. Now therefore hearken unto their voice: howbeit yet protest solemnly unto them, and shew them the manner of the king that shall reign over them.” (I Samuel 8:7-9) Samuel told the people how a king would take their sons and daughters to work for him and take a tenth of their seed and their sheep. “Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel: and they said, Nay; but we will have a king over us; That we also may be like all the nations; and that our king may judge us, and go out before us, and fight our battles.” (I Samuel 8:19 & 20) They wanted a king like all the other nations had. When my children were small I told them never to ask for something just because everyone else had it. We should be careful when we ask the Lord for things and not want them just because everyone else has them. God may give us what we ask for, even though it is not in His perfect will for us to have it. He chose a king for Israel, but He told Samuel to “protest solemnly unto them”. If you ask your parents for something and they tell you “no” and you keep asking even though you know they don’t want you to have it, they may give it to you. But things may not work out the way you hoped and you may not really want it after you get it. Make the right choices and be careful what you ask for.
6. Jonah's Choice
“Now the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me. But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the LORD, and went down to Joppa; and he found a ship going to Tarshish: so he paid the fare thereof, and went down into it, to go with them unto Tarshish from the presence of the LORD.” Jonah 1:1-3
We are still talking about making the right choices throughout the year. When I know that I have made wrong choices it troubles me. I have trouble eating and sleeping. But we can sometimes make the wrong choice and convince ourselves that we are doing the right thing and it doesn’t bother us. Jonah went aboard the ship and a great storm came, “Then the mariners were afraid, and cried every man unto his god, and cast forth the wares that were in the ship into the sea, to lighten it of them. But Jonah was gone down into the sides of the ship; and he lay, and was fast asleep.” (Jonah 1:5) Jonah was comfortable in his decision and was able to sleep even during a great storm. We know this because of Jonah’s answer to the Lord after He turned away from the evil He had planned when they repented. “And he prayed unto the LORD, and said, I pray thee, O LORD, was not this my saying, when I was yet in my country? Therefore I fled before unto Tarshish: for I knew that thou art a gracious God, and merciful, and slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repentest thee of the evil. Therefore now, O LORD, take, I beseech thee, my life from me; for it is better for me to die than to live.” (Jonah 4:2 & 3) Jonah wanted to see Nineveh destroyed because they were very wicked. That is why he chose to run, and he didn’t decide to follow God until he spent three days in the belly of a great fish. Jonah was comfortable with the wrong choice until God made him uncomfortable enough to make the right choice.
7. How Long Halt Ye Between Two Opinions?
“And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the LORD be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word.” I Kings 18:21
We begin our small lives following the things we are taught by our parents, teachers, and as we grow older, even our peers. But there comes a time in all our lives when we choose to either follow the Lord, or follow Satan. Jesus said, “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” (Matthew 6:24) I think it is interesting in our verse from I Kings that “the people answered him not a word.” It is the same way today. Our preachers explain the gospel and lost people think they don’t have to answer, or make a decision. But Jesus told Nicodemus, “…Ye must be born again… For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” (John 3:7 & 16-18) Jesus came and gave His life so that you might live. Don’t wait until it is too late to follow Him.
8. The Choice Of Nicodemus
“There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him. Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” John 3:1-3
Did Nicodemus choose to follow Jesus? He went to Jesus at night because he was afraid to be associated with Jesus since he was a Pharisee. The next time we read about Nicodemus is in John 7:47-52. “Then came the officers to the chief priests and Pharisees; and they said unto them, Why have ye not brought him? The officers answered, Never man spake like this man. Then answered them the Pharisees, Are ye also deceived? Have any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed on him? But this people who knoweth the law are cursed. Nicodemus saith unto them, (he that came to Jesus by night, being one of them,) Doth our law judge any man, before it hear him, and know what he doeth? They answered and said unto him, Art thou also of Galilee? Search, and look: for out of Galilee ariseth no prophet.” Nicodemus showed a little boldness here in speaking up for Jesus. When we get to John 19:38-40, after the death of Jesus, we find Nicodemus again. “And after this Joseph of Arimathaea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, besought Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus: and Pilate gave him leave. He came therefore, and took the body of Jesus. And there came also Nicodemus, which at the first came to Jesus by night, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight. Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury.” Mark 15:43 tells us that Joseph of Arimathaea went in boldly to Pilate. These men first followed Jesus secretly, but later were not ashamed to be considered followers of Jesus. We may be timid about our Christianity, but there comes a time when we need to stand up for Jesus. Romans 10:9 & 10 tells us, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” We need to not be ashamed to say with our mouth what we believe in our heart.
9. The Greatest Choice Ever Made
“Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence. Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.” John 18:36 & 37
We just celebrated Christmas. When Jesus had been taken and was brought before Pilate He said, “To this end was I born, and for this cause came I unto the world…” The arrest and crucifixion of our Lord was no surprise to Him. He said in John 10:11 & 18, “I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep… No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again…” Why did He choose to lay down His life for you and for me? We find the answer in John 13:1, “Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end.” He gave His life for us because He loved us. In the book of Matthew we can see the choice Jesus had. In the garden of Gethsemane He said, “Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?” (Matthew 26:53) And then on the cross the chief priests and scribes said, “He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him.” (Matthew 27:42) Jesus could have saved Himself, but He chose to save us instead. “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13)
10. Choosing To Follow Jesus
“Now as he walked by the sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew his brother casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. And Jesus said unto them, Come ye after me, and I will make you to become fishers of men. And straightway they forsook their nets, and followed him. And when he had gone a little farther thence, he saw James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, who also were in the ship mending their nets. And straightway he called them: and they left their father Zebedee in the ship with the hired servants, and went after him.” Mark 1:16-20
Jesus called twelve apostles to follow Him. We can also read of the call of Levi, who was also called Matthew. “And after these things he went forth, and saw a publican, named Levi, sitting at the receipt of custom: and he said unto him, Follow me. And he left all, rose up, and followed him.” (Luke 5:27 & 28) Jesus called certain men to follow Him and they left all they had and followed Him. Later in the book of Luke we read, “Then Peter said, Lo, we have left all, and followed thee. And he said unto them, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or parents, or brethren, or wife, or children, for the kingdom of God’s sake, Who shall not receive manifold more in this present time, and in the world to come life everlasting.” (Luke 18:28-30) We have missionaries today that have given up houses and families to go where God sent them.
11. Choose To Honor Your Parents
“Esther had not yet shewed her kindred nor her people; as Mordecai had charged her: for Esther did the commandment of Mordecai, like as when she was brought up with him.” Esther 3:20
The book of Esther is one of my favorite books in the Bible. King Ahasuerus had a huge feast and on the seventh day of drinking he asked Vashti, the Queen to come show all the people and princes her beauty. She refused and the wise men convinced the King to banish her to show the other women in the kingdom that they must always do as their husbands commanded them. Later, King Ahasuerus missed his beautiful Queen and his servants told him to gather all the beautiful young maidens together and choose the most beautiful young maiden to be the new queen. Esther was chosen to be the new queen. That is just the beginning of the story. I hope you will read the book of Esther… it is a very interesting story. Esther had been carried away captive and her parents were dead. Mordecai took Esther in and brought her up because she was his uncle’s daughter. The verse above shows how Esther listened to Mordecai “…like as when she was brought up with him.” She chose to respect and honor him as her parent even though he wasn’t her natural father. One of the Ten Commandments says, “Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.” (Exodus 20:12) There are many being brought up in extended families today. But God still wants us to honor our parents. Esther still respected Mordecai even after she became the Queen. We never get too old to have honor and respect for our parents.
12. Moses Chose To Suffer With His People
“By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of pharaoh’s daughter; Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward.” Hebrews 11:23-25
Sometimes it may be hard to make the right choice. We also read of Moses in Acts 7:20-25. “In which time Moses was born, and was exceeding fair, and nourished up in his father’s house three months: And when he was cast out, Pharaoh’s daughter took him up, and nourished him for her own son. And Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and in deeds. And when he was full forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his brethren the children of Israel. And seeing one of them suffer wrong, he defended him, and avenged him that was oppressed, and smote the Egyptian: For he supposed his brethren would have understood how that God by his hand would deliver them: but they understood not.” Moses was brought up in the palace of Egypt as Pharaoh’s daughter. He had the best of everything and could have been a mighty Egyptian. But as he grew older, “he refused to be called son of pharaoh’s daughter” and chose to suffer affliction with his own people. It was also a difficult choice because he was not readily accepted as the deliverer of his people. He had spent forty years in the wilderness when God spoke to him from the burning bush and sent him back Egypt. If we make a choice and everything seems to go wrong, we are prone to think we must have made the wrong choice. But sometimes it is hard to make the right choice, and even harder when we have to suffer with the choice we made.
13. Shadrach, Meshach, And Abednego Chose Not To Bow
“Nebuchadnezzar spake and said unto them, Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, do not ye serve my gods, nor worship the golden image which I have set up? Now if ye be ready that at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and dulcimer, and all kinds of musick, ye fall down and worship the image which I have made; well: but if ye worship not, ye shall be cast the same hour into the midst of a burning fiery furnace: and who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands? Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.” Daniel 3:14-18
King Nebuchadnezzar made a golden image and commanded that everyone bow to the image when the music was played. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were Hebrew children who had been carried away captive to Babylon. They served the one and only true God and refused to bow. The King told them he would throw them into a fiery furnace if they did not bow. But they said, “…we are not careful to answer thee in this matter…” They did not have to even think about their answer. They had already chosen to serve God and refused to bow to the idol. “If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace…” They trusted God to deliver them. They knew He had the power to deliver them. But they also said that if God chose not to deliver them, they still would not serve the false gods. The King had the furnace heated seven times hotter and the flames killed the mighty men who threw them in. But God delivered the three Hebrew children. Nebuchadnezzar said, “Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.” (Daniel 3:25) Jesus walked through the fire with them. Who are you serving? Don’t bow to the gods of money, alcohol, or fame and fortune. Serve the living God and when you go through trials, He will be right there with you.
14. A Good Name
“A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favour rather than silver and gold.” Proverbs 22:1
When I was young I thought people who had nicknames were special. You had to think of someone in a special way to choose a special name for him or her. Many times a nickname given to a child sticks and the person is called “Skippy” or “Buddy” even into adulthood. People we read about in the Bible were given names that characterized them. When Naomi’s husband and sons died and she went back home to Bethlehem everyone said, “Is this Naomi?” “And she said unto them, Call me not Naomi, call me Mara: for the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me. I went out full, and the LORD hath brought me home again empty…” (Ruth 1:19 & 20) Naomi means “pleasant” and Mara means “bitter”. She wanted to change her name to match her experiences. God changed several names in the Bible, Jacob became Israel, Saul became Paul, Simon became Peter. Think about your own life. If God chose a name for you that expressed your true character, what would it be? What prefix could go with your name? We don’t choose our birth names, our parents usually do that. But we can choose the way we live that affects who we really are. We read in our history books of “Honest Abe” and “Stonewall Jackson”. A good name is really important. Our name can live on even after we are called away.
15. Lot Chose The Well Watered Plains Of Jordan
“And Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered every where, before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, even as the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt, as thou comest unto Zoar. Then Lot chose him all the plain of Jordan; and Lot journeyed east: and they separated themselves the one from the other. Abram dwelled in the land of Canaan, and Lot dwelled in the cities of the plain, and pitched his tent toward Sodom. But the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the LORD exceedingly.” Genesis 13:10-13
God blessed Abram with great riches in silver and gold and much cattle. When Abram went to Bethel, Lot went with him also. They had such an abundance of flocks and herds that the land could not bear them and their herdmen argued and fought for the land. Abram told Lot to choose the land he wanted and they would separate themselves from each other. Lot looked out over the well watered land and chose the plains of Jordan. He chose what looked like the best place to live. We can’t always make our choices on how things look. Sodom was a wicked city, but we read that Lot “pitched his tent toward Sodom.” But Abram went to Hebron and built an altar to the Lord. Lot made a poor choice on what looked like the best choice. Maybe he never really planned to enter into Sodom. But he saw that it looked good, and went towards it, and we read in Genesis 19:1 that “Lot sat in the gate of Sodom”. This was a great position in a city. We know the rest of the story. God sent His angels to tell Abram of His plans to destroy the city and Abram asked if He would destroy it for 50 righteous people in the city, then 45 righteous, all the way down to 10 righteous people in the city. And the Lord could not find even 10 righteous people. Lot finally escaped from the city with only two of his daughters. His wife looked back and became a pillar of salt. Lot paid dearly for his wrong choice. When you are at crossroads in your life, don’t just go down the road that looks the best. Start at an altar, and ask God to show you the right direction, and He will guide you.
16. Solomon's Choice For Wisdom
“In Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream by night: and God said, Ask what I shall give thee.” I Kings 3:5
I read and heard many stories growing up of people being granted three wishes. In each of the stories the wishes were made hastily and the people didn’t gain anything from them. Those were all make-believe stories to teach lessons on being content with what you have, or being careful what you wish for. Well, here is a true story of a time when God said to King Solomon, “Ask what I shall give thee.” Solomon, in humility, asked God for wisdom and understanding to rule the people. “And the speech pleased the Lord, that Solomon had asked this thing. And God said unto him, Because thou hast asked this thing, and hast not asked for thyself long life; neither hast asked riches for thyself, nor hast asked the life of thine enemies; but hast asked for thyself understanding to discern judgment; Behold, I have done according to thy words: lo, I have given thee a wise and an understanding heart; so that there was none like thee before thee, neither after thee shall any arise like unto thee. And I have also given thee that which thou hast not asked, both riches, and honour: so that there shall not be any among the kings like unto thee all thy days.” (I Kings 3:10-13) We can read of Solomon’s wisdom in the book of Proverbs. We also need wisdom, to make the right choices throughout the year. James tells us, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” (James 1:5) Pray for wisdom, so that you can make the right choices.
17. Chosen By God
“Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.” John 15:16
Jesus chose twelve disciples, or apostles to follow Him and preach, and gave them power to heal the sick. He was speaking to these special men when He said, “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you…” There were multitudes that followed Jesus for the miracles, or the loaves and the fishes. And we read in John 6:64, “But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him. And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father. From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away? Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.” (John 6:64-68) Aren’t you glad God called you? Most of us know John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” And in Revelation 3:20, “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” Christ chose to come to earth and die a cruel death to give us life. He is calling you. Have you chosen to follow Him? Peter answered, “Lord, to whom shall we go?” Where else can you go? Turn to Jesus and believe on His Holy name.
18. David Chose Five Smooth Stones
“And Saul armed David with his armour, and he put an helmet of brass upon his head; also he armed him with a coat of mail. And David girded his sword upon his armour, and he assayed to go; for he had not proved it. And David said unto Saul, I cannot go with these; for I have not proved them. And David put them off him. And he took his staff in his hand, and chose him five smooth stones out of the brook, and put them in a shepherd’s bag which he had, even in a scrip; and his sling was in his hand: and he drew near to the Philistine.” I Samuel 17:38-40
The giant Goliath stood against the armies of Israel and challenged them to send out a man to fight against him. I Samuel 17:16 tells us that he went out morning and evening for forty days. David was sent by his father to take food to his older brothers in the army and he heard Goliath. “And David spake to the men that stood by him, saying, What shall be done to the man that killeth this Philistine, and taketh away the reproach from Israel? for who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?” (I Samuel 17:26) David told King Saul that he would fight the giant. “And Saul said to David, Thou art not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him: for thou art but a youth, and he a man of war from his youth.” David told him that he had killed a lion and a bear while watching the sheep and the “Philistine shall be as one of them, seeing he hath defied the armies of the living God.” (I Samuel 17:36) Then Saul put his armor on David. But Saul was a head taller than all the Israelites, and David was a young man, so the armor did not fit David and he chose not to use it. Our verses tell us he took the staff “in his hand, and chose him five smooth stones out of the brook, … and his sling was in his hand…” David used what God had given him. If God has called you to do something for Him, He will give you what you need to accomplish the task. If God has given you musical talent, use it for His glory. If God calls you to teach, or preach the gospel, He will give you the desire and boldness to accomplish His work. It took great faith in God for David to stand up against the Philistine. Exercise your faith. Stand up for what’s right and use what God has placed in your hands.
19. Daily Choices
“This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24
We have been talking about choices. We begin each day with choices. We can choose to get up and follow our scheduled routine, or, if we are not feeling so well, we can choose to stay in bed and rest. We choose what we will eat, and what we will wear. We can choose to brush our teeth, and how we will comb our hair. We may choose to walk the dog, pack our lunch, or watch the morning news. That’s several choices already, before we have been awake for an hour. But even more importantly, is our choice of how we will face the day. The Psalmist said, “This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.” Are you rejoicing for this day? I have found that when I get up with a prayerful heart, thanking God for the new day, my day goes much better. And even if problems do arise, God gives me peace that He is with me. If I get up late and grouchy, my whole day seems stressed. But when I get up in time to read God’s Word, and talk to Him, He talks to me throughout the day. Let’s say with David, “My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O LORD; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up.” (Psalm 5:3)
20. Ruth Chose To Go With Naomi
“And they lifted up their voice, and wept again: and Orpah kissed her mother in law; but Ruth clave unto her. And she said, Behold, thy sister in law is gone back unto her people, and unto her gods: return thou after thy sister in law. And Ruth said, Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for where thou lodgest, I wil lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God:” Ruth 1:14-16
After Naomi’s husband and two sons died in Moab she decided to go back home to Bethlehem. She urged her two daughters-in-law to go back home to their families and their gods. Orpah went back, but Ruth said, “Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God.” Once you have made the choice to follow God, don’t turn back. We read in Luke 9:62, “And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” Go forward for God. Ruth went with Naomi and worked , gleaning in the fields behind the reapers. And a beautiful story unfolds of how Boaz, the kinsman redeemer told the young men working in his fields to “let fall also some of the handfuls of purpose for her…” (Ruth 2:16) When we are where God wants us to be, He can drop handfuls of bountiful blessings down just for us. Boaz eventually married Ruth and they had a son named Obed, who had a son named Jesse, who had a son named David. Ruth was the grandmother of King David. And it all was made possible because she chose to follow after Naomi and her God, the true and living God.
21. Samson Made Bad Choices
“And Samson went down to Timnath, and saw a woman in Timnath of the daughters of the Philistines. And he came up, and told his father and his mother, and said, I have seen a woman in Timnath of the daughters of the Philistines: now therefore get her for me to wife. Then his father and his mother said unto him, Is there never a woman among the daughters of thy brethren, or among all my people, that thou goest to take a wife of the uncircumcised Philistines? And Samson said unto his father, Get her for me; for she pleaseth me well.” Judges 14:1-3
Samson was given a special gift. Before he was even born, he was chosen by God to begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines. He was given great strength and used mightily. But he made bad choices, which eventually led to his fall. He saw a Philistine woman who looked good to him, and he told his parents, “Get her for me; for she pleaseth me well.” Marriage is a very important part of life. Don’t choose your marriage partner just because you like the way he or she looks. And if you are a Christian, don’t go out into the world looking for a life-time partner. Paul told the Corinthian believers, “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?” (II Corinthians 6:14) Later, Samson met a woman named Delilah who begged him day after day to tell her how he had such great strength. And Samson told her of the Nazarite vow and that his hair had never been cut. Delilah called the Philistines, who shaved off his hair and Samson awoke “And he wist not that the LORD was departed from him.” (Judges 16:20) Samson was taken as a prisoner by the Philistines and his life ended tragically. Pray and seek God’s will about your choice in a marriage partner. That choice will make a difference in the rest of your life.
22. God's Chosen People
“I was in the city of Joppa praying: and in a trance I saw a vision, A certain vessel descend, as it had been a great sheet, let down form heaven by four corners; and it came even to me: Upon the which when I had fastened mine eyes, I considered, and saw fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air. And I heard a voice saying unto me, Arise, Peter; slay and eat. But I said, Not so, Lord: for nothing common or unclean hath at any time entered into my mouth. But the voice answered me again from heaven, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.” Acts 11:5-9
Peter saw this vision three times. While he thought on the vision, three men came to him, sent by Cornelius. God told Peter to go with him and he did. “And Cornelius said, Four days ago I was fasting until this hour; and at the ninth hour I prayed in my house, and, behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing, And said, Cornelius, thy prayer is heard, and thine alms are had in remembrance in the sight of God. Send therefore to Joppa, and call hither Simon, whose surname is Peter… who, when he cometh, shall speak unto thee. Immediately therefore I sent to thee; and thou hast well done that thou art come. Now therefore are we all here present before God, to hear all things that are commanded thee of God. Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons. But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.” (Acts 10:30-34) We can look back in Deuteronomy 7:6 and see that the children of Israel were God’s Chosen People. “For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God: the LORD thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth.” And when Jesus sent His twelve disciples out to preach He “commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 10:5-7) I am so thankful God gave Peter this vision and chose to give salvation to “whosoever believeth on Him” and not just to the Jews only. “For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Romans 10:12 & 13)