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Mario Ducic                                                                        

August 2010
The Choice Is
Up To Us
 
 
 
 
"See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil, in that I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments, His statutes, and His judgments, that you may live and multiply; and the LORD your God will bless you in the land which you go to possess." (Deuteronomy 30:15-16)
 
As I read these words in Deuteronomy I believe that the Lord wanted to show me some important facts about everyday life decisions.
 
I can testify that in my experience, life pushes us toward many decisions that we must make throughout the week.  We can remain neutral toward some of those decisions while others we can avoid or leave for later.  However, there is one that our entire life and eternity hang upon - and that is obedience to God and His Word.  Although God does not force us to be obedient to Him and His Word, the decision to obey is life and death, and should not be taken lightly.  
 
In God there are no so-called grey areas, as some would like, but through the Word we are instructed that He seeks for us to make clear decisions that are "life and death", "blessing and curses", and even "joy and sorrow".  
 
Once while preaching, Jesus told His listeners that they could not stand undecided on the sidelines when it came to Him and what they had heard, they had to make an important decision.  "He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters." (Luke 11:23)
 
While reading Exodus we know that the old generation, lacking faith, wandered forty years and died in the desert.  Moses' address to them was very important - because God's work, Israel ought to hope in and follow Him, because of what they were expecting, they ought to listen and do, and because of who He is, they ought to obey Him and love Him fully.  If they understood and accepted these statements, they would be ready to enter the Promised Land
 
Moses, in his speech, said that the final responsibility rested on them, not on God.  They heard the commandments and before them was the decision - to listen to God and enter the Promised Land or to remain "neutral",choose the alternative to die.  Blessing or curse - joy or sorrow - they had to choose!
 
God lays before us the very same thing; He gave us His Word and expects us to choose between obedience or disobedience.  Obedience brings favor and God's blessing; disobedience removes the blessing and leads us to spiritual death. 
 
1.   IF WE WANT TO HAVE LIFE WE SIMPLY MUST DECIDE TO BE OBEDIENT TO GOD.
 
"I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live." (Deuteronomy 30:19) 

During my time in pastoral work, I have had to the opportunity to see that most believers often do not understand the simple aspect about God and His Word, simply because they do not have a good attitude about obedience to God, and rather than believing His Word and experiencing blessing, they say that they do not understand it and complicate that which is simple. 

I would like to emphasize that God is not so distant or deep that we cannot reach Him and understand His Word.  He has called us to obedience to His commands and wishes to remind us, as the younger Israelite generation, that His commands are not hidden or out of our spiritual understanding.  It is very simple - God lays before us each and every day a simple choice - it is up to us to choose. 

The Apostle Paul, while speaking about righteousness that comes by faith, describes those who complicate matters and say, "'Who will ascend into heaven?' (that is, to bring Christ down from above) or, 'Who will descend into the abyss?' (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say? 'The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart' (that is, the word of faith which we preach)." (Romans 10:6b-8) 

God is not mysterious or far from us, He wants us to know and understand what He is doing.  Have you ever heard someone say, "If I could just know what God wants from me"?  While at the same time do not want to be obedient to God and His Word?  This attitude is nothing other than an unjustified excuse, because God's law is clearly described in the Bible.  He simply wants us to be obedient to it through the power of the Holy Spirit. 
 
Often the problem isn't in complicating our understanding but in the simplest form of faith - obedience to God and His Word.  God has done His part and left it to us; now it is up to us to make a choice. 
 
This is why Paul, in his letter to the Romans, confirmed this when he said that we must make a choice and trust God; leading to a very simple example, "that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the Scripture says, "'Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.'" (Romans 10: 9-11)

Do we want to experience life found in the Lord and that which He promised as a blessing?  It is very simple - we must make the decision to be obedient.
 
2.   IF WE WANT TO HAVE LIFE WE MUST NOT DEPEND ON OUR EMOTIONS.
 
How many believers unknowingly live without the life and blessing of God because they depend upon their emotions?
 
How many times have I heard them say, "I didn't feel that good at the service today", "I didn't feel the word was for me", "I don't feel that I need to worship", "I don't have positive feelings about myself", "I don't feel in my heart that it is right", etc.  Yet, at the same time they are disobedient to the simple things in the Word of God.
 
For many, the Christian life is led by emotions, feelings, and decisions based on momentary circumstances that do not bring the life of God, but more trouble and in the end spiritual death because of disobedience.

The Apostle Paul tells us that our heart, which is the center of our emotions, must not be led by our emotions but must submit to God's Word.  "But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered." (Romans 6:17)
 
In other words, The Apostle Paul is saying that we became free when we heard and received the truth of the gospel, and with our heart obeyed it.  God did not just touch our feelings when the worship was so nice and we were in God's presence.  We had to make a willful decision in that emotional moment to be submitted to God's Word that is the foundation of our faith, freedom, and blessing that we have in Him.
 
Believers that are not obedient to God and the principles of God's Word are often immature and emotionally unstable in their conversations and reactions because they walk by the "appetites of the flesh", or by their momentary feelings, and end up deceiving themselves that by doing this they will succeed one way or the other in life, even if God doesn't give them true life, though they are not submitted to His Word.
 
Moses clearly told the Israelites that these would come under a curse, not a blessing.  "...and so it may not happen, when he hears the words of this curse, that he blesses himself in his heart, saying, 'I shall have peace, even though I follow the dictates of my heart'". (Deuteronomy 29:19)  Another translation says, "...that he blesses himself in his heart saying, 'I will have peace, although I walk in the imaginations of my heart'". 
 
The Hebrew word for "imagination" is sheriruth and speaks to us about something that is distorted, obstinate, and unrepentant.  In other words, this kind of person blesses himself thinking that everything is all right with him, despite the fact that at the same time he walks with a distorted, unrepentant, and insubordinate heart.  Is this even possible?
 
God says, "The LORD would not spare him; for then the anger of the LORD and His jealousy would burn against that man, and every curse that is written in this book would settle on him, and the LORD would blot out his name from under heaven.." (Deuteronomy 29:20)
 
Not only will these believers lose true life that comes through obedience, they often will not be able to survive in churches where the Word of God is preached.  The Word says that in the last days people will be emotional because they will gather around them various teachers that will "tickle the ears".  Their ears are sensitive because they are a "sensitive but disobedient creation".
 
Consider closely some of the portions of Deuteronomy where Moses clearly describes some characteristics of people who are unfaithful to the Lord.  For example, in Deuteronomy 31:27 he says that they are "rebellious and stiff-necked".
 
One thing in the Bible is certain - God hates disobedience in His people and clearly says, "They have corrupted themselves; They are not His children, Because of their blemish: A perverse and crooked generation. For their vine is of the vine of Sodom And of the fields of Gomorrah; Their grapes are grapes of gall, Their clusters are bitter. Their wine is the poison of serpents, And the cruel venom of cobras." (Deuteronomy 32:5, 32-33)  I am convinced that these kind of believers are the weeds that Jesus referred to in the gospels and are found in churches throughout the world .  A terrible judgment of the Lamb awaits them for their constant disobedience to God and His Word.
 
They often keep an outward appearance of religiosity or self-righteousness, wanting to appear more godly and more wise than others, when in reality they are rarely led by the Holy Spirit because their senses and hardness of heart are working opposite of God's revealed word.
 
Moreover, we read in the Word that they think that they are right and they bless themselves while their hearts are actually bitter and far from the Lord.  "...so that there may not be among you man or woman or family or tribe, whose heart turns away today from the LORD our God, to go and serve the gods of these nations, and that there may not be among you a root bearing bitterness or wormwood." (Deuteronomy 29:18)
 
In other words, Moses was telling them that, because they had not submitted to the Lord, they would have bitter roots that bear poison among God's people. Apart from being led by their emotions, it is possible that due to disobedience they become bitter and poisonous to those around them; even develop in them dissatisfaction and distrust, a bitterness that is very dangerous in the body of Christ.  While we must help these people, we must also take care and flee from these believers so that we do not fall prey to their emotional games that threaten to turn us from obedience to God.
 
Bitterness is a very dangerous thing in Christ's body, because of which the Word warns us to be careful to flee and rebuke bitter Christians.  "Looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled."  (Hebrews 12:15)
 
The hardest thing to see, as a pastor, is a believer this way.  If they continue thus, after a while, though from the outside they appear to succeed in their personal life, marriage or career, in the end they simple fail.  "I announce to you today that you shall surely perish; you shall not prolong your days in the land which you cross over the Jordan to go in and possess." (Deuteronomy 30:18)
 
If we want to have the true life of God, one thing is certain - we cannot depend upon our feelings and our heart, as the center of our feelings; we must be obedient to God and His Word.

 
3.   IF WE CHOOSE OBEDIENCE, I BELIEVE WE WILL BE BLESSED IN MANY WAYS.
 
 "I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; that you may love the LORD your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days; and that you may dwell in the land which the LORD swore to your fathers..." (Deuteronomy 30:19-20)
 
The only hope for us, according to Moses' instructions to the Israelites, is "return to the LORD your God and obey His voice according to all that I command you today, you and your children, with all your heart and with all your soul." (Deuteronomy 30:2)
 
We need to repent (change our way of living and thinking) and seek the Lord to remove from us a hardened soulish stain that has nothing to do with spirituality, as we so often try to present it.  We also need to "listen to His voice".  We need to decide to listen and do that which He says, and not allow ourselves to make decisions based on our feelings.  His commands are not hard, but the area of our battle is often in question.
 
When we do not listen to what God is saying in His Word we open ourselves up for various emotions that can conceal the real picture of truth.  This is why it is vital to learn to listen to the Lord and adhere to Him and His Word, and all His servants that bring the Word to us.
 
Only then in these tempestuous times will we have peace that surrounds us and keeps us in the "Promised Land", in which we entered as soon as we chose salvation and new life.  If we do this and receive it with our heart God promises blessing that will be seen from all directions.
 
First, I believe that this is the only way we will truly live victoriously and as the church, reflecting the joy of our salvation and passion of surrender, because we will return to our source - the Lord alone! If we listen to His voice, Moses says, "The LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live." (Deuteronomy 30:6)
 
Second, We will see freedom from evil spirits that oppress us, the growth of our churches, and blessings both personal and in our churches.  "Also the LORD your God will put all these curses on your enemies and on those who hate you, who persecuted you. And you will again obey the voice of the LORD and do all His commandments which I command you today. The LORD your God will make you abound in all the work of your hand, in the fruit of your body, in the increase of your livestock, and in the produce of your land for good. For the LORD will again rejoice over you for good as He rejoiced over your fathers." (Deuteronomy 30:7-9)
 
Therefore, the Word that God gives is not too hard or too far removed from us; we do not have to wait for someone "special" to explain it to us, nor is it so far removed from us that we must wait for someone to come and bring it to us - as we often expect of guest speakers.  The Word is near to us, on our lips and in our hearts, and  so we can perform it.  "It is not in heaven, that you should say, 'Who will ascend into heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?' Nor is it beyond the sea, that you should say, 'Who will go 
 
What will we do with this word?  Will we then turn our lives around and cling to Him or continue on our lost way that will surely lead us to death and destruction?
 

The choice is ours.  We cannot hold back, because holding back proves we are against life.  God has placed a decision before us "life and death, blessing or curse".
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