12 Choices To Live My Best Life - Part 1
This week and next we are celebrating the high school graduates among us. John Vetter and Anna Scott are among the graduates this year from our Church Requel congregation. My own oldest grandson, Grayden, is also graduating this year from Galion High School. Wow! I’ve never been asked to share a commencement address. So this Sunday and next I’d like to share what I think I’d like to tell our younger parishioners… and what I’d like to also share with my own grandchildren.
If I could only share one guiding principle that I’ve learned in my life, it would be this:
Life Is A Choice, So Choose Wisely!
Every day in our lives we make choices. It may not seem like it, but those daily choices do add up. Everything I am today… and everything you are today… is because of the choices you have made before. We are the result of a lifetime of choices. Now some of you may argue with me about that, believing that there are times in life when things happen to you that are out of your control. I completely agree. Lots of things happen in our lives that we have no control over. Even the parents we have and the families we are born into are outside of our choice.
Yet, with that said, we still have a choice in how we respond to what happens to us. So choose wisely, because surely your choices today will impact your life more than you can possibly imagine.
Now if this is true - that life is a choice so choose wisely - are there choices we can make daily that will have an even greater, more profound impact on our lives? YES! In fact, in thinking about this, I came up with 12 choices that we can make each day, each week, each month, and each year of our lives that will help us live our very best lives. Let’s consider six of those choices today, and then another six next Sunday.
#1 - Choose God’s ___GLORY___ .
After the Reformation of our Christian faith in the 1500s, we came up with a series of Q&As that help us to understand what we believe as Christ-followers. The very first question is: “What is the chief end of man?” What should be your primary goal? What are created for? The answer? “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever.”
Did you know that your chief end, your #1 reason for being, is to bring glory to your Heavenly Father? It’s true! Paul tells us:
”For from Him and through Him and for Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever! Amen!” Romans 11:36 NIV
There are two things about the creation of humankind that is unique in all of God’s creation. First, we have a will. We can decide. We can choose. So do you daily make the choice of your own free will to give God the glory He so richly deserves?
The second unique thing about us is that we have a voice. We have language. We can give voice to our praise of God. We can pray His glory. We can sing of His glory. We can shout His glory!
This is your chief end: to glorify God. If you are not making this choice as often as you can, and you find yourself frustrated, unhappy, feeling out-of-sync, without purpose - this is why! Because no matter your job or your education or your family or social background, your chief aim in life is to bring glory to God. If you don’t choose to do this, very purposefully, then you won’t. We don’t think of it this way, but not CHOOSING to bring glory to God is also a CHOICE. It’s a choice to NOT glorify God today. And when we make that choice (by not choosing) day after day, we will have missed our primary reason for being!
#2 - Choose God’s ___VISION___ .
“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the LORD. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:9-9 NCV
We are often trapped within our own vision of life. We just can’t see beyond the boundaries of our own experiences and education. The truth is that there are almost always opportunities that we do not see, choices that we could make - and indeed that we would make - if only we knew about them.
You have a God that is keenly interested in you and your outcome. He knows things about you and your future that you do not know. He has a vision for your life that is so much bigger and brighter and fulfilling that - as Isaiah tells us - is “far beyond anything you could imagine!” Yet most of us do not choose this vision for our life, and for one simple reason. We fail to ask. God has a vision for us. And He wants to share that vision with us. But we fail to seek out God’s vision for us…
#3 - Choose God’s ___ADVICE___ .
“Ask and keep on asking and it will be given to you; seek and keep on seeking and you will find; knock and keep on knocking and the door will be opened to you.” Matthew 7:7 AMP
Some people, who really don’t know that God has a vision for their life, never bother to ask for God’s advice. It just never occurs to them. That’s a kind of ignorance that is very sad. But other people, who are raised as Christ-followers, who are taught about God and His love for them and God’s vision for them, will sometimes say: “Well, I did pray and ask God once, but I never heard back.” Here’s what Jesus says about asking God for advice. Don’t just ask… keep on asking! Don’t just seek God’s vision, but keep on seeking! Don’t just knock on God’s door… keep on knocking!
These choices to choose God’s vision and to seek God’s advise go hand in hand together, not only for your initial big choices of life’s main directions and companions, but set the stage for all of your life. Here’s what I’ve learned about seeking God’s vision and advice - He only gives us a little vision and a little advice at a time. He never lays out the whole roadmap for us from beginning to end. It’s more a “turn-by-turn” instruction that the whole life road map laid out. If we will seek and keep on seeking… if we make seeking good advice from God as a foundation of our life, then each time we need to make a decision, a choice, going to God about it will just feel normal. Like why wouldn’t I want to go to God about this when He knows my life even better than I do?
#4 - Choose God’s ___WORK___ .
Choosing “God’s work” is loaded with meaning… and sometimes unintentional meaning! So let’s take it a word at a time. Work! Not a dirty word! God intends that we should work! Did you know that?
”Hard work always pays off; mere talk puts no bread on the table.” Proverbs 14:23 MSG
No matter whether your current work is getting your education, or making the money to pay your bills, even if your work is not currently your chosen career or your preferred employment - work is important. “Hard work always pays off!” So don’t be afraid to work hard. You can honor God and bring Him glory by your hard work, if you’ll dedicate all of your work to Him.
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.” Colossians 3:23 NIV
So when you show up for your job, say a little prayer. “God today I choose to glorify You by working at this job as best I can. Give me strength to do this job well. Give me guidance to be as efficient as I can. Give me an attitude of heart that comes straight from You and right back up to You to please You. Today this is my worship of You!”
If you pray a prayer like that at the beginning of every workday, you’ll be surprised how much better your day will go and how quickly you will excel at whatever it is you are doing. Before you know it your day will be done. Before you know it your heart will be full of joy and not dread. And you’ll bring this joy to everyone you work with and everyone you work for. This is how you choose God’s work - by making all your work for God and for His glory!
The last two “choices” we talk about today are super important for a successful life, but we don’t like to talk about either one of them. They go together and it’s important to choose both…
#5 - Choose God’s ___CORRECTION___ .
“For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” Hebrews 12:11 ESV
Here’s the choice - am I willing to be corrected by God or not? Will I heed His discipline or not? Will I grow toward the man He wants me to be or not? Will I change away from the selfish man and toward the generous man… or not? We all face this question on a daily basis, but sometimes this choice can also come to us in the form of a crisis. It doesn’t have to be a crisis, but sometimes we just don’t choose to hear from God and accept His correction on a daily basis, and then… not surprisingly, we find ourselves in a crisis. Even then some of us will not accept correction.
#6 - Choose God’s ___CONFIDENCE___ .
“In the reverent fear of the LORD there is strong confidence, And his children will always have a place of refuge.” Proverbs 14:26 AMP
If I were to ask you if confidence is an important character trait in order to be successful in life, I hope all of you would agree. No matter what you attempt, a confident approach will lead you to a better outcome. With that in mind, the problem we ultimately have with this is that by “confidence”, most of us have in mind “self-confidence.” I believe in myself! I can do it! EXAMPLE:When I was a youth, I was greatly influenced by this famous quote by Napoleon Hill: “What the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve.”
Now, as a 65-year-old man, I’m not nearly so confident in either myself or in Napoleon Hill. What I have learned to have confidence in is in God Almighty. I am confident that God has a vision for my life, that God has created me and knows me and that He loves me. I have confidence that if I go to Him seeking His advice, and keep seeking His advice, that I will come across the solution to what I seek. I am confident that if I live my life in submission to God and to His instructions, that He will show me when I have move out of sync with His will. I won’t have to wonder. I will know. As I grow in my confidence in God, I also grow in my confidence in myself, because His Spirit lives with me and guides me. Each morning I begin my day with God. So each day my confidence grows.
No matter what your education, no matter what your chosen career, no matter whether you choose to live as a single or as a member of a growing family, seeking God first, finding your confidence in Him is job #1. This isn’t just Pastor Mark talking. These were also Jesus’ words:
“Seek the Kingdom of God above all else and live righteously, and He will give you everything you need.” Matthew 6:33 NLT
Where do you place YOUR confidence? What do you seek above all else? Will you submit to God’s loving correction and grow confidence?