daily Broadcast

Teach Them to Make Wise Choices, Part 1

From the series Leaving a Legacy that Lasts Forever

When your kids are faced with a big decision - an important choice - do they know how to evaluate their options?  Helping your children make wise choices can save them, and you, years of heartache and pain. 

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Message Transcript

We make our choices and then our choices make us. Some of our good choices have resulted in a happy marriage, a great job, and deep personal satisfaction. Some of our poor choices have resulted in destroying a marriage, losing a job, and suffering shame and reproach.

Few things will determine the quality and the fulfillment of your life more than the choices you make for better or for worse.

I have heard someone say that when you boil it all down, you will probably make a half a dozen very major, important choices about God, about future, about relationships, and about how to deal with some difficult things in your life that will determine all of your life.

So I just want you to mentally think about, What are maybe the top two or three choices you have made? And some of you just need to remember you have made some good choices.

Okay, now, I want to go to the other side. Just what is one choice that you have made that, if you could take this one back, you would take it back? One choice you made in the past that you just thought, Oh my. That was dumb. In fact, that was worse than dumb. That was biblically unwise. In fact, that choice cost me a lot.

And it could be a choice that cost you a lot of money, it could be a choice that cost you a relationship, it could be a choice that, in just a quick moment of time and it was like, it promised a lot of pleasure but it really delivered a lot of pain. Can you think of any?

Now, here is why I want you to get your emotions around that instead of just your head and your heart. In like manner, there are few gifts that you will give to those that are coming behind you, okay? This whole series is about passing on the things that matter most.

And when you think about that person you’re wanting to help grow spiritually, or that child of yours, or that grandchild, or someone in church, or someone who is looking to you and you want to pass on what matters most, few things could be a greater gift than you giving them the skill and the ability to make wise choices.

In fact, I would go out on a limb and say: To give people wealth without wisdom is to sentence them to a life of folly and failure in their future. And yet, the research is in, almost all followers of Christ have spent much more time thinking very carefully about how to transfer their wealth to their kids and grandkids, than they have their wisdom.

And so it’s not too late, but if you take time to make an estate plan and to make a will, to think about how important it is to give them your stuff, what you want to do is translate your soul, what are your values? Teach them how to make great, great decisions.

Great decisions about God, great decisions about relationships, great decisions about money, great decisions about how to respond to adversity, great decisions about how to resolve conflict. Make wise, wise decisions about opportunities that seem too good to be true, because they are.

Wise, wise decisions about how to discover who God made them to be, wise decisions about – if they are parents – how to parent well. Wise decisions about how to take care of their bodies. One of the greatest gifts you could ever impart to those that you care about the most is the skill and the knowledge and the ability to make excellent, wise decisions.

And so our transferable concept is: Teach them to make wise choices. And what I would like to do now is say, I believe there is a place to start and if I was going to just open the Bible in the middle here and it opened to Proverbs like it did, let me read one verse as a launching point.

It’s not in your notes, here is the wisest man in the world. Past, present, future. And he says, verse 7, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Only fools despise wisdom and discipline.” The fear of the Lord.

And the fear of the Lord is reverential awe, for sure. The fear of the Lord is an emotional, He is awesome and powerful and all-knowing and pure and you are actually afraid. You are afraid not to do life His way. The fear of the Lord, both positively and negatively, part out of admiration and part out of just actual fear, is to say to God, I want to do life Your way, because You have designed it in a way for my good. And, by the way, You are God. Whether it’s for my good or not, You are God and You created me, and You say these things. And I am afraid to do anything other than what the One who created me, and deserves to have rightfully anything He wants, He can have. He made me.

And so, the fear of the Lord. And what I would like to suggest is if we are going to learn to make wise decisions, we need to walk through a theology of holiness.

And I have summarized, I didn’t put all the verses there but I have summarized a theology of holiness. Now, when you hear this word, please do not go to black robes, lit candles, prune-faced people chanting in the dark. Or people who don’t wear makeup ever or don’t play cards. Okay? I’m not talking about external holiness.

Right next to this in your notes, a theology of holiness, put a dash and write the word wholeness. W-H-O-L-E-N-E-S-S. The root word of holiness comes from wholeness. It comes from health.

The prerequisite for the universe that a perfect, holy God has made, is for it to be whole and to be healthy, it must be holy. And the fall is like cancer. And it’s like eating away at the environment, at the world, at the structure that God created.

And so, His holiness is His standard that provides health. When we live a holy life, when we follow God’s holiness, it not only is what He expects because of who He is, but it’s also His way of helping us get health in our relationships with Him and with others, and what makes us whole and complete.

And they didn’t know all the scientific stuff that we know. And when He gave multiple commands and it looked like just ceremonial holiness, they didn’t know about bacteria and they are washing their hands all the time. They didn’t know that the platelets clot at, what is it, when you circumcise a child, Purdue did a study that the platelets clot the most on that very day.

But all these standards and all these laws that God gave His people to be this holy nation were for their health and for their good and so they would reflect Him.

And so, what does it mean? What is holiness? Let’s walk through it. First, God is high and holy and the idea of holy means He is totally other. He is not a bigger, better category. He is completely different. We are creation and He is Creator. He is the source of all life. And so, He is other.

He is not the old man with the beard who nods at His children and He is not a divine Santa Claus, or He is not a cosmic vending machine. He is holy.

God is absolute truth, John 14:6. Jesus came and He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except by Me.” God is truth.

God’s Word defines absolute truth. You might jot John 17:17, the last prayer of Jesus. “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your Word is truth.” And sanctify, that’s our same root Word for holy. Set them apart, is the idea. Something special. Not something regular.

A theology of holiness includes God’s Law, or morals, that is for our protection. When God lays out these commands, these guardrails, this is not from a prudish God that is against sex or someone that has all these rules to frustrate us and anything that we like to do, He comes up with a command to say, “Don’t do that.” They are for our protection; they are for our boundaries.

God’s aim is to make us holy and to reflect His Son. It’s a winsome, pure, not weird religious, out there, you people are, where are you coming from? holiness. It is a holiness that is loving and winsome and pure and approachable and Christlike.

When you are holy, you are like Jesus. And that is God’s agenda.

The Old Testament roots are we get Exodus chapter 3, verses 5 and 6. Moses sees the bush. God says, “Don’t come any closer; take off your sandals for the place where you’re standing is,” – remember? “holy ground.” Then He said, “‘I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob.’ At this, Moses hid his face because he was afraid to look at God.”

We have lost a generation of people that are afraid to look at God. We are casual with God. We think God is going to wink at stuff. I’ve got a lot of friends in churches all around the country and as we compare notes, I will tell you, the average single person in the average evangelical church, and I’m just going to throw a statistic out, it’s probably higher than this, but the average single person in evangelical churches is sleeping around, about eighty percent of the time.

And people will just look you in the eye and say, “Well, you know, I don’t think God really expects that anymore. Like, eight out of ten commandments, that’s pretty good. Isn’t that an eighty on a test?”

We have really lost the sense of the awesome holiness and purity of God. Here we have a situation with Moses, God says, “Take off your,” – why? “Nothing artificial, man. Wherever I am, it is holy.” You find John meets Jesus, right? Revelation chapter 1? Bam! He’s on his face!

Joshua meets the angel of the Lord. We have lost the sense of God’s transcendence. He is not our buddy. He is approachable, He is immanent, He is loving, He is kind. But He is unapproachable light and purity and holiness.

Isaiah caught it in Isaiah chapter 6. Listen to the verse, “In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord,” – what was He like? “high and exalted; and the train of His robe filled the temple. Above Him were seraphim,” special angels, “each with six wings: With two they covered their faces, and with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling out to one another: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty; the whole earth is full of His glory.’”

This is the only time you ever find God addressed as three different things. In Hebrew, they don’t have, I can’t even remember what you call them in English. We say “very good,” or “best,” or “better.” They don’t have that in Hebrew. The way you make a stronger statement, it’s, “Holy,” or you go, “Holy, holy,” or if you want to make it, “Holy, holy, holy,” it’s a majestic, exponential, it’s, whoo.

And that’s what the angels were doing then and, according to the book of Revelation, that’s what they are doing now. And there’s going to come a day where they are going to keep doing it and we are going to get in on it.

But that’s who God is. And these are perfect angelic beings that are of the higher ups. I don’t understand all the cherubim and seraphim and who knows how all that works. But I’ll tell you what, they are in the very presence of God, night and day.

Later we find out they have eyes all over them and there is all this wisdom and they are innocent and they are pure. And yet, in the presence of God, they hide their face and they cover their feet and they declare who He is. I will tell you, when you get a glimpse of who God really is, it changes everything.

And you have this process that I think needs to happen. The old word for it is, repentance and renewal.

But it’s this process where we get into the Scriptures, and in community and in worship, where we, again, get a glimpse of who God really is, which leads to an accurate view of ourselves, which leads to a realignment of our agenda with His.

And that process is over and over and over in Scripture. And that has to happen with us. And it’s painful. Sitting quietly before God, worshipping God for who He is, versus just asking and telling and whining and complaining. We can do all that. But we need to come before God and worship Him for who He is and remember who He is and then ask Him to, by His searching light, pray the prayer that David prayed, “Search me, O God, and know my heart. Test me, examine me, see if there is anything in me.”

And you know what? Then sit quietly and unless you’re living on a different planet than I am, He will show you stuff. And you just need to get the fiery flame of the holiness of God to purge you and purge me and allow Him to do that and then we recognize with a new level, how unworthy we are. And guess what that does – the work of Jesus then becomes very precious because you realize, without Him, you’re in big trouble. And so the cross takes on new meaning.

The biblical profiles are Moses and Stephen. I like the Hebrews passage where it says Moses chose to be mistreated for a time than live in a pagan culture and enjoy the pleasures of Egypt. There is a price tag to be holy.

And Stephen, you have this, when they chose Stephen, remember Acts chapter 6? “Choose from you men who are full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom.” And the very first name is Stephen. He is a holy man. He is filled with the Holy Spirit and wisdom.

And then chapter 7, what do we have? We have Stephen making this defense and they bring these trumped up charges. And as he is looking up, God gives him a vision of Jesus next to the throne. And you have courage when you’re holy and you have boldness when you’re holy. And you know the Word of God, because He goes through the entire history of Israel when you’re holy.

And then he gets to the end and you have a forgiving heart. “Father, forgive them. Please don’t take this into account.” That’s what a holy life looks like. Not people who dress funny or put, “Praise the Lord!” on the back of their cars or have big, black Bibles.

Holiness is a quality of life that is winsome and loving and Word-centered and deeply caring and morally pure.

The New Testament command is 1 Peter 15 and 16, “But just as He who called you is holy, so be holy,” – in your notes, will you circle the word all? “in all you do. For it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy.’”

In all you do. In what you watch. In what you put into your mind. In what comes out of your mouth. In what goes into your mouth. In what you say. In what you think. Be holy in all that you do.

Holiness is not an option. The Scripture says, “Without holiness, no one will see the Lord.” Holiness is not external religious activity. Holiness is a condition of the heart, a purity of the mind that expresses itself in a righteous lifestyle.

And then notice the great promise: “Blessed are the pure in heart,” because what do they get? They see God.

And at the end of the day, that’s God’s heart’s desire. And you’ll never get greater reward. Just see God, know Him for who He is.

And, by the way, that’s how transformation occurs. 1 John will tell us we don’t know exactly what we are going to be like, but this is what we know, 1 John 3:2: When we see Him, we will be like Him.