Moses and the people of Israel stood on the edge of the Promised Land. Moses recalled the covenant God had made with the people and declared a series of blessings for obedience and curses for disobedience (see Deuteronomy 28-30). The people had a choice: obey the Lord, receive blessings and live, or disobey, experience curses and die. Moses exhorted, “Therefore, choose life, that you and your offspring may live, loving the LORD your God, obeying his voice and holding fast to him, for he is your life and length of days” (Deuteronomy 30:19-20).
As you read the Old Testament, it becomes apparent that the people of Israel turned their hearts away from the Lord and experienced the curses God promised, including being attacked and eventually exiled from the Promised Land. It is heartbreaking to know all the blessings that God had promised the people of Israel and then to see their failure to receive them. He promised that they would prosper in ALL they did, that He would take great delight in prospering them, that all the nations would be subdued before them, and that the people of Israel could live in comfort, security and plenty forever. All they had to do was walk in the way of the Lord. Instead they chose to walk in their own way.
The people of Israel missed all the blessings God had in store for them because they chose to walk in their own ways.
Rather than trusting in the Lord and what He had promised, they trusted in themselves and what they could see. I wonder, how many blessings do we miss because we choose to walk in our own way rather than God’s way? What have I missed out on because I chose to believe and act according to my circumstances, rather than trusting in God? What pain have I experienced as a result of choosing comfort and conformity rather than God’s best?
As we stand at the beginning of a new year, we too have a choice to make.
We can choose to follow the Lord with our whole heart, walking in his ways, or we can choose to walk in our own way. We can walk according to the Spirit or walk according to the flesh.
How will I respond at the end of the day when I am tired from answering all 5,492 questions my toddler has asked and then my spouse wants my opinion on something? Will he hear graciousness from my lips or complaining? How will I respond when my child has colored all over the bathroom wall with a Sharpie? What will I do when I feel like I just don’t want to make dinner or wash another mountain of laundry? Will I selflessly serve my family or will I be embittered against them for being so needy? How will I respond when someone angers me? When someone says an unkind word about a family member? What will I do when my alarm goes off and I have a few spare minutes? Will I hit snooze because I am so tired, or will I be disciplined and take the quiet moments to pray and read Scripture? Walking according to the Spirit is often a series of small moments in which we choose to say no to what feels good and yes to God.
We do have a choice: Walk according to the Spirit or walk according to the flesh.
God does not force us to walk according to his ways. But, let us beware. Just as He promises blessings and life for obedience, He warns of corruption and death for disobedience. “Those who are in flesh cannot please God” (Romans 8:8). “Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life” (Galatians 6:7-8).
May this be a year that we choose to walk according to the Spirit, walking in God’s ways rather than our own. May we find great blessing in our obedience. May 2016 be a year that we choose life!
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