Choices


We recall the first time we visited a big city store, quite a few decades ago. So many floors of quality merchandise with the top one filled with extremely expensive furniture.

Returning to the ground floor via the escalator, we discovered there was yet another floor, one below ground that we’d missed earlier on my way up. The Bargain Basement down the escalator for ‘el cheapo’ deals. But as we went down we realised we had made a wrong choice. That underground cavern was so dismal, hot, airless and stuffy. We couldn’t wait to get out!
We never went down into a store basement again. But the memory came flooding back recently when we found the illustration below! There’s an escalator leading up to brightness, life and safety and one that leads down to the basement, to the danger of an unquenchable fire.

Naturally this icon produces thoughts of heaven and hell – and bright preachers will quickly come up with choice sermons warning about the dangers of ending up ‘down below’ where it is stuffy and airless to say the least.

Choice
Personally we want to highlight the sign – It’s Your Choice. It’s really clear – it’s up to the person standing at the edge to make the right choice
Of course any sensible, balanced person would make the correct choice in relation to those escalators! But what about life choices? Sometimes circumstances lead people to make wrong ones. Sometimes the choices themselves seem too hard to make.
The noun ‘choice’ means ‘the act, option or power of choosing.’ Used as an adjective it means ‘carefully selecting the best.’  Used in scripture choice means to make the best selection.
King David, of course, didn’t go shopping as we do today but in Psalm 16:4-5a (Mge), he makes an interesting observation on making the right choice: ‘Don’t just go shopping for a god. Gods are not for sale. I swear I’ll never treat god-names like brand-names. My choice is you, God, first and only.’
Then in verse 5(b) he adds his astounding discovery: ‘And now I find I’m your choice!’ What an incredible truth to be grasped by all – when we choose God, we then discover that we are truly his!
And because we’re God’s we can call on his help when hard choices have to be made.
Paul’s hard choice
In Philippians 1 Paul speaks of his difficult time in gaol. It seems that he is considering that death – his removal to heaven to be with Jesus – would be the perfect choice. 
He writes in verses 22-23, If I had to choose right now, I hardly know which I’d choose. Hard choice! The desire to break camp here and be with Christ is powerful. Some days I can think of nothing better.’
But Paul turned his thoughts and eyes away from looking down and the difficulties he had as an imprisoned Christian. He looked upward beyond his own problems to something brighter – to serving Jesus for his glory through his responsibility to his fellow-Christians.
In fact his choice was based on his acceptance of a realised truth – ‘Everything happening to me in this gaol only serves to make Christ more accurately known, regardless of whether I live or die. They didn’t shut me up; they gave me a pulpit!’ (v20).
No wonder he wrote: ‘But most days, because of what you are going through, I am sure that it’s better for me to stick it out here So I plan to be around awhile, companion to you as your growth and joy in this life of trusting God continues’ (v24-25).
Life choices
In our western nations with religious freedom we may never find ourselves in prison for our faith. But life itself repeatedly requires several natural choices. And life can also throw unexpected ‘hard’ challenges and some weird curves at times.
In life we have to make choices that not only affect us but others as well – family, children and friends. Life and Christian service choices such as –
+ Ministry
+ Church
+ Friendships
+ Career
+ Location
+ Vehicles
+ Marriage
+ Health
+ Study
+ Finance.
In all these matters we should make the right – the best – choices. Learning to rely on Jesus helps. Paul gives this advice in verse 27: ‘Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.’
An important aspect of honouring Christ in life choices is to rely on God and the Holy Spirit as Jesus did. Inspiration, guidance and direction from God are repeatedly found through praying. 
Jesus’ examples
Luke 6:12-13 is the classic example. Before Jesus chose his disciples he spent the previous night in prayer obviously getting God’s direction. Sometimes we too might have to think and pray for some time before we feel an assurance within to make certain decisions that will then prove correct and fruitful. 
Then there was that terrible time before Calvary when, as Mark 14:33-34 (Mge) puts it, ‘He plunged into a sinkhole of dreadful agony. He told them (Peter, James and John), “I feel bad enough right now to die. Stay here and keep vigil with me.”’ Jesus then prayed so earnestly to the Father and received an incredible strengthening and the ability to make the right choice that pleased God and would lead to victory for humankind.
Whatever decisions we must make in life – small or large, simple or intricate, personal or corporate, as we rely on Jesus and experience more of the reality that God is always there for us, we’ll be confident in making the right choices. And we too can discover an amazing strengthening within. 
Especially if we’re living daily in the light of Proverbs 3: 5-6, ‘Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track.’

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