Joel 3:14 Valley Of Decision

Huge valley

Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision! For the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision. Joel 3:14 

Everyday people have to make hundreds of choices, even thousands of choices. Many of these choices are nearly automatic in being made with very little thought put into them. There are other choices that come up that require some thought and consideration as to what to choose.

There are many people who freeze up when it comes to making a major choice fearing making the wrong choice. Or they are quick to make one, but then go back or regret that choice very quickly.

Joel points out that there will be a time when God will judge the nations. During that time the people will be in a valley of decision. They will have to make a choice.

While there are millions of decisions to be made all the time, there are really only two that are most important and provide the answers for all of the rest of the decisions. These are: the choice to love and serve God or not love and serve God. And the other is to obey God or not to obey God. Both these decisions go hand in hand. One cannot really be made without making the other. To love God is to obey Him, to obey Him is to love Him.

Once these two decisions are made, everything else falls into place. God’s word and His Holy Spirit guide every decision from that point forward.

Making these choices, either one of them in any way, is life changing. One way will draw a person into eternal relationship with God. The other choice will put one into eternal battle against God.

Most people will choose to serve self and not love God. Only a few will choose to love and serve God.

If you have already chosen to believe in God, you have chosen to love God. Now it is time to choose to obey God with all of your abilities. Each day you will be presented with thousands of opportunities to disobey God and sin. You have to make a conscious effort to turn away and flee from the temptation and keep from sinning.

You will also need to make the choice to serve God and build His kingdom in whatever way He opens the door for you to do.

Making these decisions will show where your heart is with God. What is your decision today?

I pray today that you will know Jesus as your Savior; that you will choose to love God with all of your heart; that you will choose to obey God in every area of your life; and that you will choose to trust God with your life.

Jeremiah 21:8 Two Paths Of Choice

Brown and green leaves

Furthermore, tell the people, ‘This is what the Lord says: See, I am setting before you the way of life and the way of death.’ Jeremiah 21:8

When traveling people often will have choices to make along the route. As one travels he may come upon a road that is closed due to road construction. To continue down that road, will lead to destruction by running off the road or getting stuck.

If he chooses the detour route, it will mean he can continue on safely. A choice has to be made.

God was getting read to destroy Israel as a nation and send the people into exile in Babylon. If they stayed in the city, they would die. If they went to Babylon in captivity, they would live. A choice had to be made between life and death.

There is still a choice for people to make to this day. Jesus died upon the cross and rose again to give every person a choice to make. The choice is still between life and death, captivity or personal freedom.

Making the choice of personal freedom, allows one to do what he wants and when he wants, but at the cost of death in the end. This is what sin is. It is doing everything to please self, and reject God.

Choosing to follow Jesus is to choose life, but in exile and captivity. One is bound to God to obey God. He is in exile away from this world and its sinful ways.

In the eyes of the world, this is suicide and ridiculous. And it is. Believers are to die to self so that they may live for Christ. It is the real path to real life that will last for all eternity, not just temporary happiness and enjoyment, ending in death.

Just as the Israelites had to make a choice between life and death, you must also make the same choice. This is not a one time choice, but a daily, even hourly or by the minute choice to make. You have to choose to die to self and to live for Christ on a regular basis.

Make the choice to follow and obey Christ. In the eyes of the world this is crazy, but in the end it is eternal life and worth the cost of being  enslaved to God.

Choose today the path of life in Christ Jesus, and reject the path of death this world is on.

I pray today that you will know Jesus as your Savior; that God will guide you in turning away from all sin; that you will be a slave to God and His ways; and that you will know the abundant life Jesus has for you.

Jeremiah 4:18 Consequences Of Actions

Chemical reaction

“Your own conduct and actions have brought this on you. This is your punishment. How bitter it is! How it pierces to the heart!” Jeremiah 4:18 

There is an old scientific law that states that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. This is the idea that there is a consequence to every action that occurs.

In life there are many consequences to the actions that people do. Some are positive and some are negative. Some occur immediately, while others don’t occur until many years later.

Speeding down the road when there is a policeman there will result in a ticket immediately. Eating a poor diet will take years to show, but it is result in weight gain and health problems later in life.

God is beginning to punish Israel for their rebellion and sins against Him. He points out that it is their own actions that had brought this punishment upon them.

God is a patient God and full of mercy, however, there are consequences that He brings about or allows because of sin. There are many health problems that occur because of a sinful lifestyle. There is a loss of peace and joy because of sin in one’s life.

For the believer, God is always striving to call him away from sin. He may use the consequences of sin to get his attention and draw him back away from sin.

Most people do not like consequences to their actions, unless they are positive. Yet, God has placed negative consequences upon sin in the life of a person. The ultimate consequence is eternal death and separation from God.

This is not God causing the consequence, but the actions of the person. One’s own self brings upon him the problems of sin. This does not have to be, since a person can go to God for forgiveness and be changed into a new person. Living for God and rejecting sin brings about positive consequences.

Is there something missing in your life, such as joy, peace, love, God’s presence? Take a look at your life and how you are living.

What actions have you been allowing in your life? Are they God honoring actions, or actions of selfish sin?

Jesus is right there to help you turn from sin. He is willing to wipe the slate clean and forgive you, bringing about positive consequences. Do not give God a reason to strike you to get your attention, but live for Him in His ways.

I pray today that you will know Jesus as your Savior; that all of your actions will honor God; that you will know God’s peace, joy and love in your life; and that you will hear God’s direction for your life. 

Isaiah 58:2 The Appearance Of Eagerness To Know God

Eager girl

For day after day they seek me out; they seem eager to know my ways, as if they were a nation that does what is right and has not forsaken the commands of its God. They ask me for just decisions and seem eager for God to come near them. Isaiah 58:2 

Eagerness is the deep desire for something to happen. People get very eager the closer they get to having a large vacation or when one is about to graduate. It is common for people to be eager for the weekend to arrive.

There are times that a person can give the appearance of being eager, but are really not that eager. Children often play being eager, while not wanting something to happen, only to make their parents happy.

Isaiah describes the people of Israel as if they were eager to get near God, to have God near them. They were acting as if they were a nation who did what was right.  However, they were living in sin and rebellion against God.

It is no different today with some people. There are some who appear to be eager for God. They are always at church singing all the worship songs, loudest in prayers and can quote the bible very well. Yet, outside of church, they are living in sin on purpose, refusing to repent or change.

In some places there are even churches who appear to be followers of God, yet, condone and promote sinful acts among the people.

The nation of Israel had been living like this, yet, were steeped in sin. Many in America claim that America is a nation who seeks God, yet, it is also steeped in the same in sin.

Believers who are truly eager to know and have God near will live for God. They will seek to change and turn from sin.

You must take a look at your own life and determine if you are really eager to know God and have Him near, or if you are just playing a game. As you seek to know God, are you willing to change and run from all sin?

Or are you willing to accept some sin in your life as the world does?

Look at the life of Jesus and determine how well your life measures up to His. The closer it is, the more true your seeking God is. Do not just appear to be eager to know God, but be eager to live for God as you get to know Him.

I pray today that you will know God in a close way; that you will know God’s presence in your life; that you will turn away from all sin towards God; and that you will live your life as Jesus did. 

Fruit Of The Spirit: Self-Control

Self control word

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23 

Today I will be looking at the last fruit of the Spirit–self-control. Thank you, if you have been following this little bible study on the fruit of the Spirit. If you have not been following and just joined, you can find the other studies here: love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and gentleness.

This final fruit of the Spirit is the culmination of all of the rest. Without the rest of the fruits, one cannot have this last one. It is one that many people do not really want to talk about or think that they already have it, though most people struggle in this area. Self-control is being able to control one’s own thoughts and actions. It is taking responsibility for yourself.

Self-control is often looked at in the areas of exercising and dieting. Very few people exercise good self-control in these areas and will admit it. However, self-control needs to be exercised in many other areas of life.

Hole in wall

Like a city whose walls are broken through is a person who lacks self-control. Proverbs 25:28

Solomon points out the value of self-control, or rather the destruction of the lack of self-control. In his time cities had a wall surrounding the city to protect it from the enemy. If there was a hole in the wall, their protection was gone. The wall was then worthless and the city could be overrun.

In the same way, a person who does not have self-control in his life has a hole broken through. Not having self-control allows the enemy to enter into your life. It gives the devil a foothold into your life, causing you to breakdown and choose to sin, rather than flee the sin.

My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, James 1:19

One are that many people lack self-control in is with their speaking and listening. Many are slow to listen and very quick to get angry. They are quick to strike back with words, cursing someone, when something does not go their way, rather than trying to understand and listen.

Angry person

In order to follow what James is telling us to do, we must have self-control. You have to make a choice to listen. You have to make a choice to be slow to speak and not become angry so quickly. This takes practice over time, because it goes against the human nature.

Immediately many people will rise up now and say that they cannot do this. It is in their nature to sin, that they have no self-control. This is true, if they are relying upon their own strength and abilities. Man does not have any self-control in himself. However, it does not have to stay that way.

For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, Titus 2:11-12

Titus tells us that God’s grace teaches us to say ‘No’ to sin and to live a godly, upright life that is self-controlled. We have the perfect teacher–God’s Holy Spirit.

Blocking hand

However, just like children in school, we often do not want to learn. Some will say that they cannot do it, it is not in their nature or some other excuse. This is true if you say that, but it does not have to remain true. You can change.

Remember that in Christ you are a new creation, a new person. You have the ability to say ‘No’ to sin and run away from all temptation. However, to do this, you must be in control of yourself. You have to conscientiously choose to not sin or walk into sin.

In your own strength and power this is difficult, even impossible to do. You cannot live a self-controlled, sinless life without God’s help and power.

I can do all this through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13

Another version says that I can do all things through Him who gives me strength. God is there to give you all the strength you need to do what needs to be done. This is not just physically doing things, but also strength to do the not doing things, to turn away from sin.

Pushing a bolder

In yourself, you cannot stay away from sin, but in Christ you have that ability. There is no reason for you to continue in sin. Christ has made you a new creation. All you have to do is live as the new creation, live as Jesus lived. Every time temptation pops its head up to cause you to sin, turn to God for strength and a way out of that temptation. Refuse to sin. Allow His Holy Spirit to guide you in the right path.

But all of this is a choice you have to make. It does not come automatically. It is not built into you. You have to be self-controlled. The great news is that with God’s Holy Spirit you can have that self-control to make the right choices every time.

Two choices

Give your life over to God and allow Him to be in control. Allow the Holy Spirit to guide you and help you live a godly life here on this earth. As you are filled with His Holy Spirit, you will have to bear some fruit.

God does not want you to fail, so He has given you everything you need to be successful in walking a holy, righteous, sinless life. You must now make the choice to accept it and live in it.

As you are filled with His Holy Spirit, you will show His love, which will lead to joy bringing about peace, which leads to forbearance/patience, bringing on kindness and goodness, which will make you faithful and gentle. Once all of these fruits are in place, you will have self-control to keep in them and in God’s will.

Be the man or woman God has called you to be in Christ Jesus. Do not conform to the ways of this world any longer and remain in sin.

This finishes looking at the fruit of the Spirit. Next week I will bring this study to a finish with an overview of all that we have studied and what it means to you as a believer. Please feel free to comment and/or share this post with anyone you think that could use it.