Have you ever experienced a period of time where it seems everywhere you turn the same word or phrase keeps turning up? Lately the words life, blessing, focus and the phrase “choose life” seem to keep turning up and sometimes in the most unexpected places and at most unusual times. This has been going on for some time now and it is beginning to come together with some understanding.
Last night at Bible Study our topic was John 10:10, one that has been key in my life for the last several years. Before talking about it, we went back chapter 8 and began reading to get the full context of what was going on around this time. In chapter 8 we see the story of the woman caught in adultery and Jesus telling her accusers, “whoever is without sin, cast the first stone.” One by one they all walked away because Jesus was the only on qualified as without sin. Jesus did just what His Father would have Him do. He said to her, ” I don’t condemn you either. Go! From now on, don’t sin.” Next Jesus speaks to the Pharisees about His Father. There is a good bit of contrast between the religious practices of the Pharisees and those things that are truly important to God and that are modeled by Jesus. He points out the differences in what the Pharisees practice and the true desires of His Father for those who want to be His disciples. This debate or exchange of ideas which are opposed to each other leads to anger and the threat by some to stone Jesus but He slips away safely. As chapter nine unfolds Jesus heals a man born blind and an inquisition ensues. First Jesus is questioned, then the blind man, both tell the truth and their stories are the same. That is not good enough to satisfy the curious minds so the parents of the blind man are brought in. Fearing the repercussions of their words, they would only reveal: yes this is our son, and yes he was born blind. Then they told the people that he was an adult and could answer for himself. They inquire of the previously blind man again and when he answers him the same, he is thrown out of the synagogue. In His compassion of this man, Jesus reveals Himself to him and explains that:
39 Then Jesus said, “I have come into this world to judge: Blind people will be given sight, and those who can see will become blind.”GWT
The Pharasiees responded:
40 Some Pharisees who were with Jesus heard this. So they asked him, “Do you think we’re blind?”GWT
Jesus went on to explain:
41 Jesus told them, “If you were blind, you wouldn’t be sinners. But now you say, ‘We see,’ so you continue to be sinners.GWT
Next we see the story where Jesus explains His role as Shepperd and how to tell the true Shepperd from an impostor. This is were John 10:10 comes into play; “10 A thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy. But I came so that my sheep will have life and so that they will have everything they need.’ GWT
Now the Bible makes it clear that Satan is our enemy and that he is the father of lies. Here we see his purpose is always to steal, kill and destroy. Whether it is our joy and peace or our very life, he is out to wreak havoc and destroy (bring about destruction and death) but Jesus came to bring life and every thing that we need for life! What a great assurance! Now as I am pondering the wonder of this once again the phrase “Choose life” returns to me and my thoughts go to the Old Testament and the discussions of the blessings and cursings discussed with the Israelites in the later chapters of Deuteronomy and God’s declaration:
Deuteronomy 30:15 See, today I have set before you life and prosperity, death and adversity. 16 For I am commanding you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commands, statutes, and ordinances, so that you may live[ and multiply, and the Lord your God may bless you in the land you are entering to possess.(HCSB)
As I thought about this scripture, I realized the more I pay attention to the Word without allowing other thoughts, worries, concerns or any other intruder to interrupt or distract me, the more God will speak to me through it and the better I will be equipped with what I need to manage well and thrive in life. It will enable me to choose life. Wisdom and knowledge are in the Word and the Holy Spirit brings the understanding, but if I am burdened down by distractions, questions, concerns, etc.; I will miss out on part or all of what He is trying to teach me. Therefore, I must learn to set aside all the cares of this world when spending time with Jesus and in the Word; hand them over to Him! Then I can focus on the whole of what He has for me each day! The choice between life and death is a gift from Him. We get to choose! Distractions are from the enemy and diminish our peace, our joy, our contentment, and our fruit! May the Lord teach us to choose life, laying down all those things that lead to death and destruction and allowing the mind of Christ to dwell richly in each of our lives!