"Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh His name in vain."
Exodus 20: 7
King James Version
"The Power to Choose"
"Destiny is not a matter of chance, it is a matter of choice."
William J. Bryan
What choices in my life have affected my future?
"It might be the devil or it might be the Lord, but you've got to serve somebody."
"Wilt thou leave they sins and go to heaven, or wilt thou have thy sins and go to
(The voice John Bunyan heard.)
During the last five days we began to study the book of Leviticus by looking at five characteristics of God that are woven throughout the tapestry of this often under-read book. As we studied, we came to recognize our God is a God of order. He is a God who is truthful. He is a God who is pure. He is a God who heals us and makes us whole. And above all, He is a Holy God.
It was important for us to look at these qualities of God because they help us understand Him better. What's more, by studying these divine characteristics, and yearning for their presence in our own lives as God's children, we can become more like God, our Father, as we focus our vision on Him.
It is this longing for godliness we are going to study about as we look at a very unusual story contained in Leviticus 24.
The Bible begins with these words:
"Now the son of an Israelite mother and an Egyptian father went out among the Israelites…. The son of the Israelite woman blasphemed the name of the Lord with a curse; so they brought him to Moses. (His mother's name was Shelomith, the daughter of Dibri the Danite. They put him in custody until the will of the Lord should be made clear to them." (Leviticus 24: 10-12 N.I.V.).
As we reflect on this story, we are going to look at "choices" made by individuals. Choices which made the difference between a life of good and a life of evil. Interestingly enough, although this incident took place thousands of years ago, the lessons God had for His children at that time apply directly to our time.
I want to share with you what noted psychologist Erich Fromm said about our human choices. "Our capacity to choose changes constantly with our practice of life. The longer we continue to make the wrong decisions, the more our heart hardens; the more often we make the right decisions, the more our heart softens for better, comes alive."
This week, we will look at decisions and choices that were made and the consequences that resulted.
Tomorrow we'll look at a mother's choice, an Israelite woman who chose to marry an Egyptian man. Then we'll look at a son's choice to blaspheme and curse the name of God. We'll also look at the choice the Israelites made – and believe me, it is a critical one. And finally, we are going to identify the consequences of making wrong choices – because there are consequences to our behavior, whether we think so or not.
As we will find out, the words expressed by Pastor W. E. Sangster ring loudly with truth. "Every day the choice between good and evil is presented to us in simple ways." This is exactly what we see played out in the lives of a family which did not choose to recognize the holiness of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
I love this beautiful prayer of Thomas a Kempis as he asks God to help him choose to have a heart directed toward his Father in heaven:
"Write thy blessed name, O Lord, upon my heart, there to remain so indelibly engraved, that no prosperity, no adversity shall ever move me from thy love. Be thou to me a strong tower of defence, a comforter in tribulation, a deliverer in distress, a very present help in trouble, and a guide to heaven through the many temptations and dangers of this life."
"The decision we all face is this: whether to consciously lock God out of our lives or open the door of our heart and invite Jesus Christ to come in."
"Give me, O Lord, a steadfast heart which no unworthy thought can drag downwards; an unconquered heart which no tribulation can wear out: an upright heart which no unworthy purpose may tempt aside. Bestow upon me also, O Lord my God, understanding to know thee, diligence to seek thee, wisdom to find thee, and a faithfulness that may finally embrace thee; through Jesus Christ, Our Lord."
St. Thomas Aquinas
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus