Beth Moore - Thriving in our Choices Part 1
Everybody say, "Amen". Would you have a seat, please? And would you turn in your Bibles to Deuteronomy the 30th chapter. Deuteronomy 30. Now, I'm just wondering how many of you are facing some pretty big decisions right now. Can I see your hand, please? It has been big on your mind, a choice that you need to make. You are in the right place. And maybe it's that you're making some really hard choices, or sometimes we're making annoying choices. Like, some of you are in a situation where it annoys you to no end that you're even having to make this choice right now. Am I resonating with anybody in the room? Whatever it may be, I bet all of us could use a little bit of leadership from God on choosing what is the best of what may even be a number of fair or even good options.
I read a couple of different articles this week on decision-making and choices and one by business administration professional Lubna Najjar called "The Power of Choice". And she says that it is believed that the average working adult makes about 12 decisions before 9 a.m. Now, I try to make very few decisions before I turn on my coffee pot. I don't know about you. Well, the first thing I get outta bed, I walk straight over to the coffee maker, I turn it on, and then I go pray. I kinda do an introductory prayer. I bring my praises to the Lord, kinda get set in that direction. Go back, pour the coffee, sit down, and then have my actual Bible reading and prayer time, but the coffee machine is one of the very first decisions I make after I decide that I'm gonna go ahead and get up.
Now, she cites a study from Cornell University that estimates that the average working adult makes about 70-plus decisions a day. Now, I don't know why, but that almost made me wanna laugh, because I know for a fact that you working moms of young children are making that many decisions before you get their lunch kit filled and get them out the door. You have already decided whether or not to snatch them baldheaded many, many times before 9 a.m. I love the theme that God has led us toward for this weekend. I love it. I have never just given way to an entire conference on making choices. I mean, it would have hit in any message I ever would have given in all of these years, but I've never just, like, sold out to the topic, sensed the leadership of the Spirit directing me toward, "This is what the whole event is about, being choosy in a land of a million choices".
Then, I thought to myself, "Perhaps nothing more forthrightly testifies and radiates that we were created in the image of God more than the fact that we have been given the power of choice," liberties to choose. All kinds of choices we've got, and we're gonna address them all. We've got our high-impact choices, those that make a ton of difference and alter the direction of life. We have got our low-impact choices that, I mean, are just, kind of, day-to-day, week-to-week kinds of things. And then, we, sort of, have our mid-range, mid-impact choices. And I don't know about you, but there are some things that I just don't bother to stress over choice-wise, like, for instance, whether or not I'm gonna have a Mounds or an Almond Joy. I just don't. I just don't.
Sometimes, you feel like a nut. Sometimes, you don't. Almond Joy's got nuts, Mounds don't, so I don't really stress over it. I'm either in the mood for a nut or I'm not in the mood for a nut, but we're gonna see that there are a lot of choices that are high-impact, and a lotta high-impact choices that can take authority over a lot of mid-impact and low-impact, if we are willing. So, our theme launches from the pages of Deuteronomy. It's ultimately gonna jump. We're gonna go from the old covenant over to the new covenant. It's gonna jump ultimately over to John, John's Gospel, but, for now, I want you to go with me... now, we would see thousands of times in the Word of God that choices are made over and over and over and over again, all the way from Genesis to Revelation, even the decision, the choice God made to say, "Let there be light," and there was all the way to the very end of Revelation 22. But the word itself "choose" or some form of choice is used a number of times in the Scripture, several hundred times in the Scriptures, but probably the iconic one in the Old Testament is right here in Deuteronomy 30.
Now, I'm gonna need you to really, really focus on what we're reading for the next few minutes because I keep trying to think how I can cut down some of the reading so that it would get to where we need it to be, but it's so beautiful that I'm gonna read most of Deuteronomy 30 to you. Lemme give you a little bit of background on it. At this point, Moses is 120 years old. He's at the very end of his life. God has already told him, "You are sending them over, but you are about to go the way of the fathers, and Joshua is who we're going to commission. He is going to take them into the Promised Land". So, Moses has gathered them out in the plains of Moab, and he is renewing the covenant with them. They're about to now go into, very soon, into the Promised Land, and he is preparing them to do that, and he is reminding them what God's covenant said and what the promises were over their faithfulness and their unfaithfulness.
And so, in this speech I want you to just jump in with me at Deuteronomy chapter 30, and I wanna read through these passages with you and see if you don't find them absolutely beautiful. Says in Deuteronomy 30, verse 1, "And when all these things come upon you, the blessing and the curse, which I have set before you". Little bit of a comma. Let me pause right there and tell you one of the things that is so fascinating about this is because of the wisdom that God is giving Moses. And because God is giving him the Word in real time, he already knows and tells them in advance there are going to be disobedient and obedient seasons in the life of the people of God. He said, "We've set before you these choices, and we already know in advance you're gonna often make the wrong one. We're also gonna know that at times you're gonna make the right one". And so, with that in mind listen to these words. "Which I have set before you, and you call them to mind among all the nations where your God has driven you".
Now, listen carefully, because they were told, one of the things that God made clear to them is, "I will put up with a lot", I'm gonna paraphrase this. I will put up with a whole lot, but I'm gonna tell you what I'm not gonna put up with. I will not put up with idolatry. To God, in the Old Testament, and we do see that thematically all the way through, but them turning to other gods was a form of spiritual adultery. He was like, "You know what? I can deal with a lot of areas of disobedience, but I'm gonna tell ya when you insult me by turning to the false gods of the nations, and I remind you over and over again through my prophets to repent and you do not do it, I will let you be taken captive by other nations, and you who wanted to be like the other nations will find yourself in those other nations".
Now, watch the grace of God in play as he says then when you are in those nations and it comes to your mind why God has driven you there, look at verse 2, "And return to the Lord your God, you and your children, and obey his voice in all that I command you today, with all of your heart and with all of your soul," verse 3, "then the Lord your God will restore your fortunes and have mercy on you, and he will gather you again from all the people where the Lord your God has scattered you". Look at verse 4. It is spectacular. "If your outcasts are in the uttermost parts of heaven, from there the Lord your God will gather you, and from there he will take you. And the Lord your God will bring you into the land that your fathers possessed, that you may possess it. And he will make you more prosperous and numerous than your fathers. And the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live".
Jump down to about the mid portion of verse 9. "For the Lord will again take delight in prospering you, as he took delight in your fathers, when you obey the voice of the Lord your God, to keep his commandments and his statutes that are written in this Book of the Law, when you turn to the Lord your God with all your heart and with all of your soul". I wanna make sure somebody sees that even under this old covenant, that God said, "And when you turn back to me, when you find yourself held captive in those nations because of your direct disobedience, because I'm gonna be faithful to my Word, I want you to know that when you come back to me, I will delight to prosper you". What you gonna do with that? "For the Lord will again take delight in prospering you, as he took delight in your fathers, when you obey the voice of the Lord your God, to keep his commandments and his statutes that are written in this Book of the Law, when you turn to the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul".
Verse 11: "For this commandment that I command you today is not too hard for you, neither is it far off. It is not in heaven, that you should say, 'Who will ascend to heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?' Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, 'Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?' But the word is very near you. It is in your mouth and it is in your heart, so that you can do it. 'See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil. If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God that I command you today, by loving the Lord your God, by walking in his ways, by keeping his commandments and his statutes and his rules, then you shall live and multiply, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to take possession of it".
Verse 17: "But if your heart turns away, and you will not hear, but you are drawn to worship other gods and serve them, I declare to you today, that you shall surely perish. That you shall not live long in the land that you are going over the Jordan to enter and possess".
Verse 19: "I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live, loving the Lord your God, obeying his voice and holding fast to him, for he is your life and length of days, that you may dwell in the land that the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them". I looked up every single time in the Scriptures that any form of the word "choice," "choose," "chosen", any time that comes up. I was so intrigued that many, many, many times, in fact, I know that I can say the majority of times in the Old Testament that the word "choice" is used, it is used as an adjective. It describes something else. Like, it will be the choice fruit, the choice lamb. Over and over again it is the choice, this choice theme, choice people, this choice tribe, and I want you to keep that in mind because that divine choice is coming very much into play in what we're going to study.
So, we've got a choice motto. This is gonna be what is gonna rise above everything else we're talking about in this session tonight, even as we scoot out from under the old covenant and go right there to the new at the cross of Christ, so jot down our eight-word choice motto because I'm gonna be asking you about it. And it's this right here. It is "therefore choose life, for he is your life". Doe that hit anybody besides me? It's in 19 and 20, so if you mark in your Bibles, mark those phrases, because they're so powerful. Tie them together. Draw an arrow between them. Get out your good pen. Therefore, choose life, for he is your life.
Now, I want you to say those eight words with me, if you would please. Can you say them with me? Therefore, choose life, for he is your life. Say it one more time to me. Therefore, I thought no matter what the previous paragraph, no matter where we've been, what we've done, what we've experienced, what valley we've been through, what extreme mountaintop we've climbed, whatever it may be, it can always come to this therefore. Choose life, for he himself is your life. There's one more that is the second most famous verse that has "choose" in it in the Old Testament, the second most iconic verse where we find that kind of choice. And you probably are even thinking, if you've got a little familiarity with the Old Testament, especially the book of Joshua, you're already thinking what it is. Go with me to Joshua. It's the very, very next book, and go to the end of it to Joshua 24, and I wanna show it to you. Anybody glad to be in the house of the Lord tonight? I love this so much. It's why you're turning and planting yourself in that place.
I'm gonna tell ya, one reason why this never gets old to me is this completely changed my life. Anybody know what I'm talking about? I had a heart to love God, but my mind was so tormented, just so tormented. Just I'd seen so much and been through so much and done so much, and I had such a victim mentality in there, such a constant replay of so many hurtful things. And there were so many things I wanted to do right, but I kept just cycling back into that same old behavior, same terrible decisions. And I'm gonna tell you, when I first started studying the Scriptures, I did not even know it was already working toward my healing by just really, honestly, re-wallpapering my mind. But already I just started studying 'cause I love to study. Once I got a taste of it, I just could not put it up, but already, even from the very beginning, it was starting to change the way I thought.
And then, when God began to show me, made me recognize the power of it to pull that mind captive into the knowledge of God so that it would demolish how much deception lived in my brain, listen, this was my freedom. This was my freedom. When it says, "You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free," it doesn't mean when the truth is sitting on our bedside table. It's got to get in there. It's got to get in there, to know him through the pages of Scripture, to experience the life of the Holy Spirit, animating those words and those phrases. This has been life and liberty to me. I want you to see these words in Joshua 24:15.
Now, it's a very interesting thing because he himself is about to die and a lot of the things he is saying to them are echoing back. He's remembering very well the message, the speech under the power of God that Moses gave the people, and now it's his turn. And, I mean, he's just going like, "I'm telling you, I can tell by the look on your faces you're not gonna be obedient to the Lord". I mean, you could read it for yourself. That's exactly where he's going here, exactly where he's going, and it says this in verse 15, "But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you," I'm reading out of the NIV, "then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods of your ancestors that they served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord".
Choose this day whom you will serve, but as for us, we're gonna serve the Lord. I need somebody to know this upfront before you just look for the first moment that you can run out that exit. To the best I know how to assure you, I promise you this is not gonna be a guilt-shaming message. What it is liable to do is that you are at great risk of some healing, of some restoration, and maybe some powerful equipping, if we're willing to really listen up. I want you to know in this room everybody has made regrettable choices. Everybody has, even the person that you are so convinced has it all together because she wants you to think she has it all together, and one of her big regrettable choices is that she has never told you differently. That is a regrettable choice, because people need to hear the real thing.
And so, you need to know we're gonna try to do that in this room. You've already made a good decision even thinking to yourself, "I wanna put myself in an environment where God may move me to trust him". Good choices. God choices. Fruitful choices. Choices that bless and benefit not only us, but many. You gotta understand from the very beginning that this group of messages is not about being naughty or nice. It's about thriving. It is about being equipped to get to situations where we need to make some choices and under the leadership of the Spirit as best as we can perceive it. We make choices that God can use to cause us to thrive. It's about discerning, deciding, and seeking direction. Anybody game for that? Anybody? Anybody?
So, here's what I wanna do. I wanna give you a little title. This is what we're going to be doing, what we're gonna be compiling. This is the heading: eight choice tools... remember, we're using that adjective "choice". Eight choice tools for making mostly great choices. Now, I don't like to throw off my rhythm in a point, but I had to throw it off here because I had it like this: eight choice tools for making great choices. I love that because I had both the cha-chas going, the choice and choices. I had the eight and great. I mean, it wasn't nearly perfect, nearly perfect, but I thought, "No, no, I'ma have to keep, I'ma have to put in 'mostly.'"
And you know why I'm gonna have to put in "mostly"? Because we are not called to a formula. We are called to faith. And when we get addicted and think that a formula has become our way of success, then I'm gonna tell you something. Every single time, ultimately, that formula is going to fail us, because he has not called us to a formula. So, we can't just take it and we go, "Now, if I do the following things, I will always, always", I mean, it's always, "I'm gonna always make the right choice. I'm gonna thrive in my choices". No, what I'm gonna tell you is we've got eight choice tools for making... can everybody say that next word. Look at one other and say, "Just mostly". I'd love to really see you use your hands on this one. "Mostly. Mostly. Mostly".
Got to throw in a little parenthetical there, because mostly, mostly great choices, mostly, mostly, and it starts right here. So, we're gonna have eight of 'em. We're gonna start with number one, and number one is this: quash false voices about choices. Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. There are some lies that need dispelling. If you and I are gonna get to the truth about really, really good decision-making, about making good choices that set us up by the power of the Holy Spirit to thrive, then we gotta dispel some lies before we ever get to the truth. Let's get some things outta the way so that we're not confused by 'em. Let's set the deception aside, and there are some lies that really, really, really need dismantling.