“When your dread comes like a storm and your calamity comes like a whirlwind, when distress and anguish come upon you. ‘Then they will call on me, but I will not answer; They will seek me diligently but they will not find me, Because they hated knowledge And did not choose the fear of the LORD. They would not accept my counsel, they spurned all my reproof. So they shall eat of the fruit of their own way and be satiated (satisfied) with their own devices.’” Proverbs 1:27-31
Many believe that there are many roads to heaven. They believe it does not matter which “religion” you choose, eventually everyone ends up in one place. Many think that because God is Love, He would not “send” anyone to a place of Hell. However, verses like the one above, causes us to think about what we believe.
I do not want to live in a place where “. . . the deeds of the flesh are evident.” Those deeds, listed in Galatians 5:19 include: “. . . immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions (heresies), envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these . . .” I would not allow people who practiced these things to move into my home. God is telling us that we must accept Him as our Father and live according to His rules if we are to live in His house.
He is saying that if you do not want Him as your Father, do not expect to be treated as His child. Only His children are allowed to live with Him eternally in His home. Here is one way to look at it: I received both a BA and a Master’s degree from a wonderful non-accredited private Academy in Jacksonville. The curriculum had been developed with the help of educators from the University of North Florida. The Director of the Academy was told by UNF that Academy students would be accepted and their classes would be transferred because they met or exceeded UNF requirements. However, the University that I chose to attend for a Master’s of Divinity degree would not accept the classes because they were from a non-accredited school and did not meet their requirements. Because I had attended a school—even a quality school—and received a quality education with a high GPA, my work was not accepted because my Academy courses did not meet accreditation requirements.
God does not accept everyone who wants to live with Him. They must come through proper channels, through the accreditation process. Jesus stated, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.”
God our Father is always ready to help us. Jesus stated that if we reject Him as Father and serve other gods, then He will tell us to seek help from the one we serve. Only Jehovah, the True and Living God, is represented as “God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble.” Psalm 46:1
Most everyone is familiar with John 3:16, but let’s go back a few more verses:
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” John 3: 16-18
Jesus took upon Himself the penalty for our sin and transgression against our Creator and it is only through Him that we can become children with all of the rights of inheritance of a child.
Be sure to know the consequences of your choices. God does not “send” anyone to “outer darkness”. He only invites those who love Him to live in His light.
“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.” Joshua 24:15
Because Adam and Eve chose to listen to a voice that was not their Creator’s, their disobedience created a rift between God and man. Isaiah 59:1-2 states, “Behold, the LORD’S hand is not so short that it cannot save; Nor is His ear so dull that it cannot hear. But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear.”
It's like when a storm cloud comes between you and the sun. The sun is still shining, but the storm cloud blocks it from your sight. So sin blocks our ability to have the relationship that Adam and Eve experienced before they sinned by rejecting God’s direction. When they ate from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, it was as though a new gene was formed that would pass to every person who would come after them. As Romans 5:12 puts it: “Therefore, just as through one man's sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned—”
After fashioning us after His image, God placed something within us that draws us to acknowledge something greater than ourselves. One of my favorite books is “What We Can’t Not Know” by author J. Budziszewski. In it he states that we can deny that voice within, we can ignore it, but we cannot say it does not exist. Deep within each of us is the knowledge that there is a God.
In order to live our life with little or no guilt, we often deny that a Creator God exists and so, we create gods of our own. These are the gods that are spoken of in our opening Scripture. But it does not stop there. Since Adam and Eve, every group of people has developed its own deities. Some have decided that the only deity is man himself and that he's just not yet aware of the fullness of his divinity.
Proverbs 1:7 states, "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; Fools despise wisdom and instruction." And, according to Psalm 111:10, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; A good understanding have all those who do His commandments; His praise endures forever.”
But God does not force us to walk in His knowledge or wisdom. He allows us to choose whether we will serve the god of self, one of the man-made gods of the world, or the God who created heaven and earth and all that is contained therein.
Therefore: “Choose for yourself this day whom you will serve.”
Why do we have choices? When did it all begin?
Last week we began this study with a verse in Deuteronomy 30. This week we will look at this whole periscope or paragraph.
Deuteronomy 30:15-20 Choose Life
“See, I have set before you today life and prosperity (good), and death and (evil) adversity; in that I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in His ways and to keep His commandments and His statutes and His judgments, that you may live and multiply, and that the LORD your God may bless you in the land where you are entering to possess it. But if your heart turns away and you will not obey but are drawn away and worship other gods and serve them, I declare to you today that you shall surely perish. You will not prolong your days in the land where you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess it. 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, 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, that you may live in the land which the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them.”
So, why would God set before the people life and death and tell them to choose life? Why give people that kind of choice? Why would people not automatically choose life?
For the answers to these questions, we have to begin at the beginning, and before we begin let me make this statement:
As we can already see, not everyone chooses to believe in the words of Scripture found in what we call the Bible or God’s Word. God has specifically stated for each person to choose whom he will serve. At Pools of Bethesda, we believe the words found in the Bible are words given to men by the inspiration of the Spirit of God Himself. This is what we live from personally and what we teach.
The thoughts and comments we make are based on a study of the whole Bible, Old and New Testament. We believe the New is in the Old concealed, and the Old is in the New Revealed. Our teachings are not based on one individual verse or even on one book (such as Genesis or Matthew or Proverbs, or Romans), but on "The Book" as a whole,
In the Scripture above, God is teaching the people that to love and obey Him, to hold fast to HIM is life and brings long life. In the Old Testament, God is speaking to a particular group of people, the Children of Israel to whom He has promised a particular land where they will live, grow, and reflect Him to the rest of the world. Combined with many other verses throughout the Bible, such as one in Matthew 28:18-20 which states:
“. . . Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (emphasis mine)
--this promise is for all of us to inherit a place in His Kingdom for eternity.
In the first book of the Bible, Genesis, we read that God has given man a wonderful place to live and told him to “(have) dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth (Gen. 1:26); to “ Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moves upon the earth” (Gen. 1:28).
God’s plan for man was good. “And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day. . .” God walked and talked with the man and woman (Adam and Eve) in the Garden. They had a relationship with Him. But, just as God has given us the ability to choose to follow Him because we love Him and want to follow Him, He gave the first man and woman that same ability.
“And out of the ground made the LORD God caused to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.” (Genesis 2:9) “Then the LORD God took the man (Adam) and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it. The LORD God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.” (Gen. 2:15-17)
In the verse from Deuteronomy, we have seen that God wants us to choose to do what He tells us to do, In Genesis, the woman (Eve) listened to a voice that was not God’s tell her that God was not being truthful and that if she ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil she would be just like God. (Gen. 3:1-7)
That sounded like a good thing (Knowledge of GOOD AND evil) and so she obeyed the strange voice and disobeyed God. There were consequences that we are suffering even to this present generation. God could have stopped them, He could have silenced the strange voice, He could have only planted a Tree of Life. But that was not God’s plan.
We can live from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil our whole life. Some will suffer greater consequences on this earth than others, but everyone will suffer the same consequence in the end. We cannot enter God’s house if we have not come under His rule for life. If you don’t want to follow God’s Word on this earth, why would you want to live in His house for eternity? Do you think there will be different rules there? To the extent a nation follows the laws of God is the extent that the nation will live in peace and prosperity. We all suffer to some extent because we live in a world where we are all free to choose to do good or do evil; to follow the Creator God or to follow a god of our own making. To live by the Creator’s rules or each live by his/her own rules.
“I have set before you today life and prosperity (good), and death and evil (adversity); in that I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in His ways and to keep His commandments and His statutes and His judgments. . . I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live.” (Deuteronomy 30:15-20)
Until next time we are:
Pools of Bethesda—Houses of Healing
Restoring Hope & Wholeness to Lives Broken by Addiction & Incarceration
You are where you are today because of the choices/decisions you have made.
Adrian Rogers stated that God has given us the ability (and responsibility) to make choices, but He did not give us the ability to choose the consequences of our choices.
The Word of God has much to say about choices:
“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.”
“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.”
“Elijah came near to all the people and said, ‘How long will you hesitate between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.’ But the people did not answer him a word.”
“When your dread comes like a storm and your calamity comes like a whirlwind, when distress and anguish come upon you. ‘Then they will call on me, but I will not answer; They will seek me diligently but they will not find me, Because they hated knowledge And did not choose the fear of the LORD. They would not accept my counsel, they spurned all my reproof. So they shall eat of the fruit of their own way and be satiated (satisfied) with their own devices.’”
We are told by God Himself to choose—and, His Word gives us insight into the possible consequences of some of our choices. Over the next few weeks, I would like to unpack these Scriptures and look at how God's Word from so long ago, effects us today. John states in 3 John 1:2 "Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers." First, he is speaking the heart of the Father since all Scripture is inspired by the Holy Spirit. Second, he is saying that our prospering and good health is in perportion to our soul's prospering. As we look at the above verses and follow them to their completion in the New Testament, we will gain a deeper understanding of what John is saying and how to prosper in our physical life as well as our spiritual and emotional life.
These meditations are part of the teachings and counseling concepts taught at Pools of Bethesda. We believe that to make lasting changes in lives that have become unmanageable, the first choice is to place God in His proper place in one’s life.
We will have new classes beginning soon. Watch our blog page for a list of possible subjects.
To reserve your place, call 904-377-1554 or 904-377-9422. The classes are held in Hastings Fl. at Christ United Methodist Church.