Sermon for Sunday September 12th, 2010
It's Your Choice by
Life is full of choices. From the minute we wake up in the morning until the moment we pause for the day and tuck ourselves to bed, we come across series of choices that would eventually determine our day’s performance. If two choices are comparatively similar, it would not matter much if we choose either one or the other. But if the contrast of two choices is miles apart, it would pose a huge challenge to choose which one, especially when one choice seems far more lucrative than the other. But challengingly enough, more often than not, the more lucrative choice would cost a lot in life – sometimes that choice poses to oblige us to bargain our integrity and reputation.
Success and Failure in life is a matter of choice!
Moses is one of the names of people labeled as “faith-greats” mentioned in the book of Hebrews, 11th chapter. His greatness was not an easy deal. It was neither attained by sheer luck nor was it obtained by sustained legacy. It was his faith, which was made sleek by the choices that he made in life. Only after he made those “major, major” choices that he had “major, major” experiences with the Almighty – the burning bush in the wilderness, the gushing mineral water out of a rock in the desert, and the tablets of God’s Law that he was privileged to hug. The tablets of stones were chiseled out from a rock mountain by God’s lightning and the writing of God’s Law was inscribed by the fingers of God. Awesome experiences indeed!
The choices that Moses made in life, which catapulted his name to become one of the “faith-greats”, are common to all Christian believers of today.
Are you ready to face the choices, rather challenges, of your life that would determine your spiritual rank before your creator?
I would like to draw our attention to the most common challenges that we face in life on a daily basis.
1. Godly Stance Vs. Worldly Measure!
Heb 11:24 By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh's daughter.
People race to climb the ascent of status quo and clamber the ladder of success with the electric motivation to reach the summit of self-advancement and self-gratification where a plethora of lurid applause lavishly overflows. But the only thing that matters most, in the final analysis, is how much of life transformation God has impacted in our lives. And that would be determined on the basis of the choices that we need to make…
Moses was challenged with choices, too. He was educated in the school of Pharaohs, and was trained in the affairs of royalty. He had the chance to become the next Pharaoh. But the loud anguish of the Hebrews was compelling. He chose the latter. Like Moses, we face similar situations…..and are challenged with choices….
a. Faith and Godly Purposes.
This choice might tow you into a dark alley of obscurity. To follow the tenets of faith does not guarantee our becoming famous. God’s purpose might even dump us into an open off-road of ignominy, swathed with shame in this world. But, in all of this, it would be a God-approved obscurity and a God-appointed ignominy.
b. Fame and Worldly Popularity.
This choice might require whatever it takes from you; integrity, dignity, and reputation; but you’ll have a chance to become a celebrity and be catapulted into a pedestal where human applause resounds. Look to the world around you and you’ll easily find people in this track.
Some celebs that made it in the silver screen did have choices in their life. Needless to name a few…. who started it right. They were church choir members at first, with golden voices that they use to glorify the Almighty. But when faced with a choice of fame and popularity, they chose the latter. Consequently, the end was tragedy.
A renowned lawyer, who was also a lay preacher whose church ministry was remarkably growing, was offered a position in the government. Here is what he said, “To be a Minister in the Kingdom of God is more honorable than to be a Prime Minister in the Kingdom of the World!”
2. Godly Suffering Vs. Worldly Pleasure!
Heb 11:25 He chose to be ill-treated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time.
The world has a culture for comfort and convenience. That culture has even crept inside the churches. When church finance is growing, facilities are improving, attendance is increasing, we deem to conclude that the church is growing. Not always. The same is true in our personal lives.
Moses, a son of a Hebrew slave who had his royal privileges, had a choice. And he chose the hard way, yet he knew it was God’s way. In this entertainment-oriented world, we always come across contrasting choices…
a. Fellowship with God’s People
You just notice it. Anywhere in the world, weekend, which is an appointed worship day, is also the world’s leisure day. Holidays, when we are relaxed and free, which are ideal days for spiritual retreat, are mostly spent for non-spiritual purposes. And when there are some hours left, those poor quality hours, we give to God. Not many people, even within the community of devoted believers, can we find people who would travail in prayer as a gesture of their compassion for the lost and the needy.
b. Fun with the World’s Programs
Look at your calendars. Sundays are marked red. But we often don’t notice it. Our eyes are focused on those circled dates with handwritten remarks…. “A friend’s birthday, a colleague’s anniversary”, and so on… Church is no longer an exciting weekly event to some people, maybe most. Let alone, committing your life to the service of God and humanity. Worse by far, entertainment has become a religion to some. The happier they are, the more spiritual they think they will be.
On August 26, 1910, a teenage Albanian girl, Agnes Gonxhe Bojaxhiu, was born. She was only 12 years old when she was convinced that she would devote her life to religious life. She left home at age 18 to join the Sisters of Loreto as a missionary. She never again saw her mother and family. She arrived in India in 1929, and began her novitiate in Darjeeling, near the Himalayan Mountains. She took her solemn vows on 14 May 1937, while serving as a teacher at the Loreto convent school in eastern Calcutta. Although Teresa enjoyed teaching at the school, she was increasingly disturbed by the poverty surrounding her in Calcutta. On 10 September 1946, she experienced what she later described as "the call within the call" while traveling to the Loreto convent in Darjeeling from Calcutta for her annual retreat. "I was to leave the convent and help the poor while living among them. It was an order. To fail would have been to break the faith”. Her works of charity has impacted the whole world. We know her today as “Mother Teresa”.
With the numerous touching accounts of human sufferings for a good cause, I would say, “To Shed a Tear with the People of God is more significant than to Shout a Cheer with the People of the World!”
3. Godly Sacrifice Vs. Worldly Treasure!
Heb 11:26 He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward.
We live in an era where the prime motivation of life and efforts is to gain, although, at times we lose. Everyone wants a fat paycheck, robust bank account, steady income, and all the likes. Who doesn’t want them? We all do. But when we are challenged to let go a big fraction of what we possess for a godly cause, we think twice, maybe more.
Moses lived in affluence and luxury. He had the royal rights to enjoy the best riches of Egypt. But he knew he’s a son of a Hebrew slave. It was a tough decision to make, yet he chose to follow the way of sacrifice. Moses knew.. and so must we know ….
a. The Eternal rewards of Sacrifice
Sacrifice, in its practical sense, has its eternal rewards. We will be remembered by what, and how much, we have given away that impacted people’s lives. National heroes and heroines are remembered, not by what they have accomplished for themselves, but by what they have contributed to their country. Their names echo through generations.
b. The Temporal rewards of Abundance
Many people have the mistaken notion that the more material things they possess, the more they have security and peace. Not always true. Sometimes, riches can be a fuse that ignites one’s disaster. Besides, personal riches last only as long as physical life lasts. Material riches are for this material world. We can’t bring any to the after life. As the wisest man that ever lived says, “Vanity of vanities….. All is vanity…” Eccl. 12:8.
Listen to the words of some of the richest people in history, people who have, in our own opinion, reached the summit of success. They belong to the lines of “the extremely rich and famous”. Henry Ford says, “To do more than the world has done for you – that is success!”. Oprah Winfrey says, “What material success does is provide you with the ability to concentrate on other things that really matter.” Those words imply that material abundance is not the pinnacle of life. But they point to the more important things in life, which Henry Ford implied in his words “to do more than the world has done for you”, and Oprah’s words, “other things that really matter”.
In the lives of the world’s rich and famous, who became the world’s renown philanthropists, I can boldly exclaim, “The Joy of Giving from what we have far exceeds the Happiness of Gaining what we want!”
What Moses Gave Up – Most of us are Chasing After:
The World’s Measure
The World’s Pleasure
The World’s Treasure
Words to live by:
Your happiness is determined by your character
Your character is determined by your choices
Your choices are determined by your values
Your values are determined by your attitude
Your attitude is determined by your faith in God