BY PASTOR T. O. BANSO
“I pray that your love will keep on growing and that you will fully know and understand how to make the right choices. Then you will still be pure and innocent when Christ returns. And until that day” (Philippians 1:9-10 CEV).
Life is about making choices –right or wrong. If you fail to make the right choices today, it will not only affect your today but more importantly, your tomorrow. To refuse to make choices because of the fear of making wrong choices is a choice in itself! The choices you make today or you fail to make today, will affect and influence your tomorrow.
Every day, you are faced with the challenge of making choices; your choices are, largely, the determinants of your tomorrow. They are the vehicles that will take you to your future. Every choice you make has consequences, and a wise person will think well about the consequences before making decisions. Each time you act foolishly by making a wrong choice, you experience pain and lack of joy. That is not God’s plan for you.
The good news, however, is that if you have made wrong choices in the past, because of ignorance or Satan’s influence, God is willing to help you out of the negative consequences of your past wrong choices. There is nobody who can say that he has made the right choices 100 percent in life. However, God is a good God. If you will turn over your life to Him, accept Jesus as your Lord and Saviour, and follow His plan for your life, or rededicate your life to Him, God will work everything together for your good, including those wrong choices (Romans 8:28).
Some examples of people in the Bible and their choices
1. Adam and Eve. Eve chose to listen to the serpent and together with her husband Adam violated the instruction of God (Genesis 3:1-7; 1 Timothy 2:14). The consequence of that disobedience is still with us today.
2. The Israelites. God placed before them the choices to make to worship Him or other gods, to obey Him and be blessed or disobey Him and bring themselves under curses, and to choose between life and death (Deuteronomy 28; 30:15-20). Most times, they chose what was wrong and they suffered for it.
3. Moses. The choice Moses made brought him into the purpose of God for his life. The Bible says by faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He chose to suffer affliction with the people of God, the Israelites, instead of enjoying the passing pleasures of sin. Because Moses was looking ahead to the great reward that God would give him, he considered it better to suffer for the sake of the Messiah than to own the treasures of Egypt. Therefore, he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured as seeing Him who is invisible (Hebrews 11:24-27).
4. Esau. He chose a plate of red pottage above his birthright. He was a profane person. He wept for it thereafter just as we do after acting foolishly, but it was too late for him (Genesis 25:29-34).
5. Joshua. He chose on behalf of himself and his family to serve the LORD. He challenged the Israelites to choose whom they would serve (Joshua 24:14-15).
6. Judas Iscariot. He chose to betray his Master, and lost his bishopric, just for thirty pieces of silver! He discovered later that he did not need the money! However, his collaborators, the religious leaders, were not ready to collect it back from him. He committed suicide thereafter, wasting his life (Matthew 26:1-5; 14-16).
The power of choices
1. Choices create the atmosphere for your today – right or wrong.
2. They determine the direction and events of your future. Your choices today are the vehicles that transport you to your tomorrow.
3. They affect what God does or doesn’t do for you. Obedience and disobedience to God have consequences.
4. They affect how you use your resources such as time and money and what you use them for.
5. They influence your values. They help you to cultivate new values, good or bad. They could also strengthen or corrupt existing values.
6. They impact your relationships. Your choices can strengthen existing relationships or lead you into wrong or right relationships. Everybody needs relationships but it must not be with just anybody. “He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will be destroyed” (Proverbs 13:20 NKJV). The righteous should choose his friends carefully (Proverbs 12:26a).
7. They determine where you spend your eternity. Choosing to give your life to Jesus will earn you eternity with God. Rejecting Jesus as your Lord and Saviour will take you to eternity in hellfire.
How to make the right choices
1. Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Proverbs 3:5 says you should trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In other words, you should depend on the Lord, not on your intelligence, ability, and so on. Let God show you what you don’t know.
2. Seek to know and do the will of God. If you already have an idol in your heart, your preferred choice, you will miss God’s right choice for you (James 4:3; 1 Samuel 16:7). Don’t be covetous, greedy, or self-seeking.
Proverbs 3:6 says, “Seek his will in all you do, and he will direct your paths” (NLT). Another translation says, “In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths” (NKJV). The Contemporary English Version renders the verse thus: “Always let him lead you, and he will clear the road for you to follow.” Commit the matter you’re trying to make a decision on to God for divine guidance and follow the leading of the Holy Spirit (Proverbs 16:3; Romans 8:14).
3. Be guided by the Word of God. The Bible is already categorical on certain things, and you don’t need prayer or divine leading again on them. You’re already led! You can also be guided by the Word of God as you listen to the preaching of the Word of God or while you’re alone (Psalm 119:105, 133).
4. Follow what the Holy Spirit is telling you in your heart. The common advice “follow your heart” is not the right piece of advice if the Holy Spirit does not dwell in such a person’s heart and it does not keep the Word of God. It’s a wrong piece of advice if it is a heart filled with sinful thoughts and desires. The psalmist said, “I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you” (Psalm 119:11 NLT).
Listen to the Holy Spirit in your spirit or heart. Sometimes, even before you pray, your heart feels uncomfortable about a matter. Stop and pray about it before you take any step further.
5. Fast and pray. Take the matter on which you want to make a choice or decision to God in prayer. Fasting and prayer help you to draw closer to God and make you spiritually sensitive. When you fast and pray, follow Jesus’ instructions (Matthew 5:5-8; 6:16-18).
Before Esther finally decided to go and appear before her husband, King Ahasuerus, without the king calling her as the tradition demanded, an offence punishable by death, she fasted three days and asked the Jews to do the same. “Then Esther told them to reply to Mordecai: ‘Go, gather all the Jews who are present in Shushan, and fast for me; neither eat nor drink for three days, night or day. My maids and I will fast likewise. And so I will go to the king, which is against the law; and if I perish, I perish!’” (Esther 4:15-16 NKJV).
The day she went to appear before the king, she found favour in his sight, and he held out to her the golden scepter that was in his hand (Esther 5:2). Fasting and prayer are very efficacious when you want to make a choice.
The choice of the twelve disciples or apostles was a very important decision for Jesus Christ because He had many disciples. Before He chose them, He went to the mountain to pray and continued all night in prayer to God. When it was day, He called His disciples and chose from them twelve whom He also named apostles (Luke 6:12-16). Fasting and prayer would be helpful when you want to make an important decision.
6. Listen to experts, but understand that the experts aren’t always right. Listen to the experts on the matter you want to make a decision. However, if what you are receiving in your spirit contradicts experts’ advice, follow what you believe the Holy Spirit is telling you. The experts are not spirits; they are human beings and, therefore, don’t know everything. However, if you’re not receiving anything follow experts’ advice and trust God to make everything work out well.
In Acts 27, those in the ship with Paul nearly perished on the sea because the centurion listened to experts (the ship’s captain and the owner of the ship), rather than listen to divine warning through Paul.
7. Consider the facts. Sometimes the facts can substantiate what you perceive, but you cannot explain. Sometimes, God’s leading can go against the facts. Facts deal with what you can see; faith deals with what you cannot see but exists. “Any enterprise is built by wise planning, becomes strong through common sense, and profits wonderfully by keeping abreast of the facts” (Proverbs 24:3-4 TLB).
8. Listen to your parents. This is particularly useful if you are a child still under parental authority. God uses parents to help their children make the right choices in life; although, in some cases, some parents, ignorantly or deliberately, lead their innocent children astray. Such parents will reap the fruits of their actions. However, a child who has Christian parents has an advantage.
Proverbs 1:8-9 says, “My son, hear the instruction of your father, and do not forsake the law of your mother; for they will be a graceful ornament on your head, and chains about your neck” (NKJV).
Many children are regretting today because they rejected the voice of their parents in their lives. They were deluded to think that they could run their lives without the input of their parents. For some time, it looked as if they were right, but things turned sour not long after.
Solomon’s decision to build the temple was not his. It was his father’s choice, acting on God’s Word that Solomon was the one to build the temple for Him (2 Samuel 7:12-13; 1 Chronicles 17:1-15). Solomon only carried out his father’s instruction.
Even in His sovereignty, God still uses unbelieving parents in some circumstances to help their children make the right choices until they become responsible for their lives.
However, parents must be careful not to mislead their children. Sometimes, the voices of carnal, ungodly parents are not necessarily the voice of God. For instance, Isaac’s choice of Esau for blessing was contrary to God’s plan although Esau was entitled to it, ordinarily, as the firstborn (Genesis 27:1-4). Neither was Rebecca’s method of accomplishing God’s original intention of transferring the blessing to Jacob right. It only delayed the programme of God in Jacob’s life (Genesis 27:5-17). Parents must give their Children GOD’S COUNSEL and not just GOOD COUNSEL for their own selfish reason.
Even if you have to disobey your parents because their position is contrary to the Word of God or contrary to God’s will for you, do not disrespect them. “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the LORD your God is giving you” (Exodus 20:12 NKJV). That’s God’s commandment both in the Old Testament and the New Testament (Deuteronomy 5:16; Matthew 15:4; 19:19; Mark 7:10; 10:19; Luke 18:20; Ephesians 6:2-3).
9. Seek and respond to your Pastor’s counsel. Proverbs 12:15 says, “Fools think they need no advice, but the wise listen to others” (NLT). Sometimes you need your pastor’s counsel on some issues. Don’t wait until you have an avoidable problem on hand before you seek pastoral counsel.
I am not talking about the extreme case of waiting for a pastor to make all decisions on behalf of his members or being involved in all their decisions, which has led to all kinds of abuse. Nevertheless, pastoral counsel has saved many people from making wrong decisions. Don’t wave it aside. From the outset, however, be sure that your pastor has good standing before heaven, and he’s a man of the Spirit who won’t counsel you outside the will of God.
10. Benefit from godly counsel from Christian friends and mature believers. Sometimes Christian friends and mature believers can help you in making choices. However, be careful; not all of them will be in the Spirit. Some of them have their own plans, wishes, and desires for you; some of them can be sincerely wrong. Let them talk, but make the final choice. It is your life. Rehoboam made the mistake of listening to his friends who counseled him against mature counsel (1Kings 12:6-16; Proverbs 11:14; 15:22).
11. Don’t act under pressure. Avoid being put under pressure in making choices. You’re likely going to make a mistake if you act under pressure. God doesn’t pressure you; He allows you to make choices. When you don’t know what to do yet, do nothing. Wait until you are convinced of the right thing to do. Don’t make a decision to please someone who wants you to decide hastily. Be patient.
Conclusion: Be wise, choose wisely, and choose by the Spirit. Weigh the options in the Spirit. “So be careful how you act; these are difficult days. Don’t be fools; be wise: make the most of every opportunity you have for doing good. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but try to find out and do whatever the Lord wants you to” (Ephesians 5:15-17 TLB).
Don’t make choices based on today alone; consider tomorrow. Make choices in light of destiny, not just on physical facts. Don’t sow a bad seed of wrong choices, so that you won’t reap a harvest of regrets with tears like Esau – his weeping was belated (Hebrews 12:16-17). “I pray that your love will keep on growing and that you will fully know and understand how to make the right choices. Then you will still be pure and innocent when Christ returns. And until that day” (Philippians 1:9-10 CEV). It is well with you in Jesus’ name.
If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit you are a sinner and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto You today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and resurrected the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank You, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like the palm tree and grow like the cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The Lord be with you.
T. O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
Phone No: +2348155744752, +2348033113523
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