Monday, February 9, 2015

Choose This Day

The first few years of my teaching career were spent in first grade.  I stapled the word 'choices' in large letters above the chalkboard to emphasize to my precious students they had a choice in how their day went.  Now, these choices amounted to finishing their seat work, sharing with their friends, and not biting themselves. (True story.  There were teethmarks.  And an adamant denial.) These choices may not seem like a big deal in the great scheme of life, but to a six year old these choices were life.

I love the idea of choices still today, long after my days of teaching first grade have passed.  As adults we too are inundated with choices every day.  A choice to face life and react to its surprises on our own terms.  A sampling of your day to day choices:

Soy or skim?  (Umm...whole?  With whipped cream?)
Leggings or jeans?  (Leggings.  Keep your rump covered, by all means, though.)
Loafers or boots?  (Usually loafers.  What can I say?  I would live in a J. Crew catalog if I could.)
Highway or scenic route?  (I live in the country.  Here I have no choice:  always scenic route.  These scenes usually involve cows.)
Salad or burger for lunch?  (I am a teacher, so this choice confuses me.  What is this thing called "lunch break?"  I must learn more...)
Deal or no deal?  (No deal!  The big money is hiding in your briefcase!)

You get the idea.

All of these little choices during a day are coupled with ones of far greater importance.  Such as:

Will I respond with kindness to those around me?
Will I greet challenges with a positive attitude?
Will I speak truth in love?
Will I fight for what's right?

See, all of these choices say less about who we are and more about who we serve.  And I want all of my choices to reflect Jesus - the One I serve.

Friends, let's get real today - we are sinners.  We are imperfect and have the capacity for a laundry list of evil: unkindness, lies, laziness, and the like.  We makes choices throughout our day knowing they are not godly.  We choose to call our sin a "mistake" or our "imperfection" or explain it away with But-I-Go-To-Church! entitlement.  You can dress it up however you'd like, put a bow on it, and take it to the county fair, but it's still sin.

So, my question to you today is this:

Are you still clinging to a sin, but claiming God?  Do you still knowingly make choices in your life that are in direct disagreement with God's Word, but choose to explain it away somehow?

My most precious friend, how God longs to bless you.  Bless you with freedom and relief, healing and true love.  But do your choices block your blessing?  

Do you keep God from giving His best to you because you won't give your best to Him?

In the book of Joshua, Joshua himself calls for repentance among the Israelites. He reminds them of God's blessings and fulfilled promises.  He then asks in confusion why they are still hanging onto things that are bad for them.  Things like false gods and false promises.  He shouts, "Choose this day whom you will serve!"  He suggests they serve the gods from across the Euphrates or the gods of the Amorites:  illuminating that these gods were not real and could promise no security.  

What follows is one of the most often quoted verses of the Bible.  A verse that may very well be hanging in your home above the mantle or at your front door.  Joshua makes his clear choice:  "As for me and my house we will serve the Lord."

Jesus Himself said He's not interested in lukewarm believers.  In Revelation 3:14-16 Jesus says He would rather followers be hot or cold than somewhere in the middle.  Either be with Him or not, make a choice.  Choose a side.  He says those who don't fully commit to Him will be "spit out."  Yikes.

He doesn't leave it at that, though.  There's a sweet and merciful message that follows in Revelation 3:19-20.  Jesus says:

I correct and discipline everyone I love. So be diligent and turn from your indifference.
(emphasis mine)

The reason Jesus speaks to us in such harsh tones is because He desperately wants us to choose Him.  

I want, no, I need you to hear me:  you are loved.  Valued.  Worthy.  Precious.

But if you are not repenting then Jesus is calling you to do so now.  He's not calling you to perfection.  He's asking you to allow Him to cover you in His perfection.  And this can be done with repentance:  confessing our sin, calling it a sin, and asking for help in turning from it.  Hosea 12:6 says, "By the help of your God, return!"  

Precious child, return.  Let go of the choices that keep you from claiming your place at God's table.

Choices.  I'm here to say I've made some sinful choices in my life.  In my past choices I have turned my back on God, on my family.  My past choices asked, no, mandated, that I turn my back on the Bible. 

My choices were sin and I lived in the thick of it and pretended I wasn't.

But I also made a choice to repent.  And on that day of repentance I found healing and love and safety.  And that day awaits you, too.  

Jesus disciplines you because He loves you.  I scold my own children for disobedience not because I dislike them, but because I long to keep them safe and teach them good things.  An undisciplined child is an unloved child - and my friend, you are loved beyond measure.


How thankful we are for your love!  Your patience!  Your mercy!  But you waste no words when you tell us to turn from our sin.  Richard Sibbes said that there is more mercy in you than sin in us.  Let us hold fast to this fact and come to you confessing, knowing you have loved us with "an everlasting love and call us to you with loving-kindness (Jeremiah 31:3)."  In that loving-kindness, Lord, call us to repentance.  Let us choose this day who we will serve.  And dear Jesus, let our choice be you.

Lord, may it be so.

No comments:

Post a Comment