The Power and Meaning of Choices
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The Power and Meaning of Choices

Introduction |I. The Importance of Choices Made | II. The Impact of Choices Made

There are times in my life ... when I've made Key Choices (My Personal Testimony)

III The Ingredients of Choices Made | Conclusion

Applying Prayer Notebook Principles Lesson 2 on 3/25/2008


Joshua 24:14-25

14 "Now therefore, fear the LORD, serve Him in sincerity and in truth, and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the River and in Egypt. Serve the LORD!

15 ¶ "And if it seems evil to you to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD."

16 So the people answered and said: "Far be it from us that we should forsake the LORD to serve other gods; 17 "for the LORD our God is He who brought us and our fathers up out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage, who did those great signs in our sight, and preserved us in all the way that we went and among all the people through whom we passed.

18 "And the LORD drove out from before us all the people, including the Amorites who dwelt in the land. We also will serve the LORD, for He is our God."

19 But Joshua said to the people, "You cannot serve the LORD, for He is a holy God. He is a jealous God; He will not forgive your transgressions nor your sins. 20 "If you forsake the LORD and serve foreign gods, then He will turn and do you harm and consume you, after He has done you good."

21 And the people said to Joshua, "No, but we will serve the LORD!"

22 So Joshua said to the people, "You are witnesses against yourselves that you have chosen the LORD for yourselves, to serve Him." And they said, "We are witnesses!"

23 "Now therefore," he said, "put away the foreign gods which are among you, and incline your heart to the LORD God of Israel."

24 And the people said to Joshua, "The LORD our God we will serve, and His voice we will obey!"


We make choices every moment of every day. When we arise we choose what kind and color of clothing we wear...when and what we eat...when we leave for an long we stay...on and on! Many of these seem of little importance to us or to the end result of our lives.

But here in our text we see that some choices affect us dramatically and permanently. These choices were in a large way determined by the little choices made which preceded them! And that truth makes the little choices rather big, now, doesn't it!


I. The Importance of Choices Made -- Josh 3:4

4 "Yet there shall be a space between you and it, about two thousand cubits by measure. Do not come near it, that you may know the way by which you must go, for you have not passed this way before."

In this passage, Joshua commanded to people to keep "a space between" themselves and the ark of God. If a cubit were 18", the space would amount to 10 football fields! They were venturing into territory that had not traveled before (only Joshua and Caleb had surveyed this land originally in Numbers 13).

The people could not be discerning of the way God was leading them if they followed too closely or acted as if they knew where He was going to go.

II. The Impact of Choices Made -- Josh 24:31

Josh 24: 31 Israel served the LORD all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua, who had known all the works of the LORD which He had done for Israel.

Judges 17: 6 In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.

When you make choices, you reap the consequences -- good and bad -- of those choices made. Galatians 6:7-8. 

7 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.

8 For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.


The words of the Israelites did not sound like they came from the heart in our main text. That is why Joshua said they could not serve the Lord for "He is holy" (v.19) right after their answer.

If they did mean it (the result mentioned in verse 31 above) they saw prosperity. But unfortunately they did not communicate it to the 2nd generation. Judges immediately reveals every man was doing "that which was right in his own eyes" (not the Lord's eyes!) (Ju 17:6; 21.25)

There are times in my life when I came upon significant choices I've made that have altered the rest of my life.

1) In 1972 after moving to Brighton from Denver, one night I, after being tired of doubting my own salvation, thought of Romans 10:13 and called on the Lord and asked for salvation once and for all. He saved me. It began revolutionary changes in my life and brought me to make significant future decisions.

2) On Easter Sunday, 1973, I humbled myself and submitted to believer's baptism before a congregation that saw me as a 4th grade Sunday School teacher, bus captain, Junior Church worker, Choir member and Youth assistant. I could have been proud of all these positions and thought it really doesn't matter if I get baptized in obedience to Jesus' example. But it did matter and I was blessed by God because I humbled myself.

3) By September, 1973, I had enrolled in Bob Jones University being specifically lead there and not to my 2nd choice school by God. (I later in the summer found an unopened letter of acceptance from the other school but had received and been accepted at BJU long before because it was of God that I go, and God used their quick response to my inquiry to assure it.)

4) During my first 2 years at BJU I met a young lady there I almost married, but when she dropped out and asked me not to finish my degree, I told her I could not choose between her and BJU. My brother, Gary, helped me make this choice, and boy was it crucial timing in my life! The day I received her "Dear John" letter, as I opened it in chapel, Dr. Dwight Gustafson lead the University Student Body of over 3,000 students in the song "He Leadeth Me." With tears streaming freely down my face I knew that, even though it hurt me deeply, I had chosen right!

5) After completing 3 1/2 years and graduating from BJU in January, 1977, I decided to remain in school moving to Chattanooga and enrolling in  Seminary at Tennessee Temple. I could have chosen to return home and beginning teaching Elementary Education and enjoy lower stress there.  (But I knew if I quit school at this point I would NEVER return for further education. I was also motivated to renew a poor relationship with my brother, Gary, who had rededicated his life to Christ and enrolled himself in Tennessee Temple for a Bible Missions major. His life has been a blessing to me ever since he did this!)

6) During my first week there at TTU I submitted myself to something I had refused to submit before: willingness to pastor if God should so call me. Dr. Roberson, from his pulpit, said, "Take it one step at a time, my son. God will guide you."

7) About March, 1977, I decided to enter Highland Park Baptist Church's Afternoon Sunday School ministry, and providentially was directed to the 9 year old girl's assembly where Bim Rowley and Bob Domrese were leading the group. I later found out Bim Rowley was in several of my Seminary classes. Bim Rowley is now and has been my Pastor since August 26,1983.

8) When summer was approaching I faced yet another choice: shall I leave the rigor of Seminary and responsibility of classes, studying and weekly ministry in the Sunday School, OR stay for Summer School and remain faithful to good things I'd begun in my life? Though it was extremely distasteful to my lazy sinful flesh, I chose to stay and enroll in summer school.

9) In July, 1977, Evangelist Ron Comfort came to Highland Park/ Tennessee Temple to lead a "Mid-Summer Revival." He had just come from the Philippines for his first ever 3rd world meeting, and he was excited at the prospect of Missions Service. His message all that week was: "If you've never volunteered for foreign missions service, you need to do it this week since 85% of the world's Christians are serving 15% of the world's lost." The right choice was obvious, but only courage, and patient waiting on God, could drive one to surrender.

It was July 20, and I surrendered. (I was tired of resisting the Lord and this year I was proving it with my life.) I followed up the decision with actions: 
a.) I began praying for missionaries I'd known every day in my prayer time. (This is when this prayer notebook was developing.)  
b.) I began attending the Foreign Mission Fellowship (FMF) -- a nightly meeting on campus after supper in which visiting missionaries, and student candidates for missions met and gave prayer requests and presented their work reports. Some time in early August I saw the British West Indies Missionary Christine Wise give her presentation. (This lady is now my wife since August 13, 1988!)

Even at Tennessee Temple I tried to date and found no one God led me to get serious about, or He led them not to get serious with me. By the time of my graduation I was forced to conclude I might be single for the remainder of my life (I knew I was going to CT and the likelihood of me meeting someone of my  comparable spiritual level was very low, as I was thinking I'm going to a mission field, and not many eligible candidates will be there!). 

Even when I arrived in East Hartford in 1983, I could have said, I don't care now, I've got to be married-- I'll shop around wherever I can go even if it is other churches while I'm up here in CT and I will find a wife! But I decided to be loyal to Truth Baptist Church, and only attended there.

It was not until February, 1988, I began to realize God was going to do a wonderful work and bringing an astounding event into my life: The rest of that story is here. []

A number of other decisions follow which I can add later, but these 9 major decisions have largely defined my life as it now is with all the blessings that I enjoy now. But there were some key ingredients to all of these decisions. They are found in our text today.

III The Ingredients of Choices Made -- Joshua 24:22-23

22 So Joshua said to the people, "You are witnesses against yourselves that you have chosen the LORD for yourselves, to serve Him." And they said, "We are witnesses!" 23 "Now therefore," he said, "put away the foreign gods which are among you, and incline your heart to the LORD God of Israel."

Joshua told the people everyone was witness that they had chosen to serve the LORD, and there were two important ingredients if they were to do really and truly serve Him:

1) Put Away the Foreign Gods. Foreign gods were the Baal's and Asheroth's* for Israel -- deities the Canaanites had bowed to and worshipped. For us, however, the gods we can be worshipping can be anything that robs our time and devotion from God: Sports, vocations, girl or boy friends, food, sex, toys and gadgets, and an endless list of "things."

2) Incline Your Heart to the Lord your God. This is also called "preparing your heart." This too is also the reason the foreign gods were present in 1) above. If we are and have prepared our heart to serve the Lord alone, there will be no other gods to interfere. But the nature of life is to incorporate idolatry into it and subtly is happening all the time. In 1977, idolatry was far from my life and the decisions made that year proved it so. But life is made up of many, many decisions and they have to be continuously made until life on earth ends or our translation happens. Those decisions have to keep to the right side of "choice."


The moon goddess of the Phoenicians, representing the passive principle in nature, their principal female deity; frequently associated with the name of Baal, the sun-god, their chief male deity #Jud 10:6 1Sa 7:4 12:10 These names often occur in the plural (Ashtaroth, Baalim), probably as indicating either different statues or different modifications of the deities. This deity is spoken of as Ashtoreth of the Zidonians. She was the Ishtar of the Accadians and the Astarte of the Greeks #1Ki 11:5,33 2Ki 23:13 There was a temple of this goddess among the Philistines in the time of Saul #1Sa 31:10 Under the name of Ishtar, she was one of the great deities of the Assyrians. The Phoenicians called her Astarte. Solomon introduced the worship of this idol #1Ki 11:33 Jezebel’s 400 priests were probably employed in its service #1Ki 18:19 It was called the "queen of heaven" #Jer 44:25 -- from Online Bible's Easton Dictionary



If you have made some wrong choices of life remember the scripture above (Galatians 6:7-8), confess sin and restore your devotion to the Lord. You will prosper -- God's true and lasting sense of prosperity!

1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.

Seek; Forsake, and Prosper

Isa 55:6ff Seek the LORD while He may be found, Call upon Him while He is near.
7 Let the wicked forsake his way, And the unrighteous man his thoughts; Let him return to the LORD, And He will have mercy on him; And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon.
8 "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways," says the LORD.
9 "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.
10 "For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, And do not return there, But water the earth, And make it bring forth and bud, That it may give seed to the sower And bread to the eater,
11 So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.

Revised and updated 5/31/2008.