Tag Archives: choose

Choose Now Part 2

Think about the images of Jesus that we in Canada have seen most.  Jesus holding a lamb, Jesus welcoming the little children, Jesus the kind, the gentle, the welcoming.  Did you know that this is not how Jesus is pictured elsewhere in the world?  Images of suffering, of pain, these are the images of Jesus most common in Central and South America and other cultures which have had to deal with great suffering.  The gentle, mild Jesus is easy to follow.  But the bloody Jesus, the suffering Jesus, the abuse and ridicule and physical pain Jesus went through, this is not so easy for us.  Jesus tells the disciples that to choose Him is to choose this  far more difficult road. The road to the cross.


I have never imagined disciples leaving Jesus.  In my mind they followed and they all stayed with him until the end.  I don’t know why I didn’t recognize the all too human tendency to lose interest, to quit when things get tough.  Still, with Jesus’ real, human and immediate presence, how could you walk away and go back to your old life?  Well, that is exactly what many people did in this story.  The disciples said that what he was presenting to them was too difficult and many left him at that time.  After being part of such a radical, exciting and successful ministry, being busy every moment of the day and never really knowing where you were headed next or what the next miracle you witness might be, imagine returning to your work-a-day life.  As they walked away they must have felt a great let-down, and yet they knew that they were not ready for what Jesus required of them.   How sad!


Jesus challenged those who stayed with him, wanting to be sure that they really understood what they were getting into. “Do you also want to go away?”  How discouraging it must have been for him to see so few remain faithful.  Even though he knew that not all would believe and that one would even betray him. These people had been following him, listening and learning, how could they fail to understand?


As I said earlier, it is very hard for me to imagine walking out on Jesus.  Simon Peter wraps it all up for us I believe, when he says, “Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life.  We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.”  There is no better place to be, no better one to follow, than God in Jesus Christ.  So we have chosen.  We choose the one true God!


The Ephesians reading addresses the nitty-gritty of the question.  I would paraphrase this one as, if you choose God then you need to be prepared to stand firm.  God provides us with all we need to stand firm in the “armor of God”.  What is our armor to be? “Stand therefore, and fasten the belt of truth around your waist, and put on the breastplate of righteousness.   As shoes for your feet put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace.  With all of these, take the shield of faith…Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” (14-17)  In Canada these days I believe talking in terms of putting on armour for the fight is a bit of a touchy subject.  As citizens we see our troops deployed in far off lands, in harm’s way.  Many questions arise which challenge the faithful.  Is this a “just war”?  What justification can there be for war when Jesus taught peace and turning the other cheek?  This is not an easy area and not really the point of our readings today, however it needs to be noted that the question of fidelity to either God or worldly rulers is not clear-cut.  We are indeed subjects of human government.  It is in questions like this that we most need our armor.  The truth that Jesus was God, doing our best to do what is right, reliance on the sacrifice of Jesus for our salvation, believing when it is not easy, and allowing the spirit of God to open His holy word to us in our time are the tools that we need to make our way through this tricky world.


I would like to close with a simple song that we taught the children at our Vacation Bible School at St. James.


I will follow Jesus Christ

I will serve Him with my life

I have courage I have strength

I will choose Him every day


I am ready for the call of Jesus, ready for the call

Ready for the call of Jesus Christ

I am ready for the call of Jesus, ready for the call

Ready for the call of Jesus Christ!


Are we ready for the call?  Do we have the courage and the strength?  At the beginning of  every new day, whom will you choose?

Aug 27, 2006 Stanley



Old Testament-   Joshua 24:1-2a, 14-18

Responsive Reading-   Psalm 84


New Testament-  Ephesians 6:10-20

Gospel Mark – John 6:56-69

Choose Now Part 1

Choose Now!

How many times in books, movies, Broadway musicals, and television shows have we seen this story?  A young attractive girl or guy has been dating for a while.  They are very popular and have more than one person vying for their affection.  One day the two, or more, either discover that they are not alone or get tired of it and demand that the young person choose now.  They are unwilling to share, they want all of the person’s love and devotion.  Torn, most of the movie will be about the agonizing decision. There are two possible endings to these stories, either the person chooses, or they try to keep both and in so doing lose both.  This is our story today.

In our story from Joshua (24:1-2a, 14-18) God comes right out and says “Choose now!”  Either follow the gods of the local people or follow the God of your ancestors who has done so much for you in the past.  Making the choice to follow God today is a commitment to last a lifetime.  This may be easy today, but all sorts of challenges will arise: “losses, betrayals, promises of success from other gods of wealth and position and power.”  How do we make good on our commitment?  How do we keep ourselves in line and avoid falling back in with those other “gods”?

How many of you have tried to change a habit?  Quitting smoking, getting rid of the credit cards, eating a more healthy diet, and exercising more are all examples of common habit changes.  Was it easy?  For the first few days many of these things probably go pretty well.  We have committed to a plan, we are keen.  As time goes on we run into the other challenges of life and these new patterns can very easily fall by the wayside. Without even thinking about it we reach for a chocolate bar or a cigarette after a stressful day at work.  One leads to another and we are right back where we started.

What do we have to do to be successful in these efforts?  Many people join support groups where they go each week for encouragement, a reminder of the benefits of the change, a reminder of the goal.  With this sort of support people can often make major changes in their lives.

Making the choice for God involves a life change as well.  In a way the message we get from the reading in Joshua is that we need to remember our goal.  For our support we need to read our Bibles, need to hear it read in worship and discussed in classes. If we want to remain faithful we need to put ourselves in a place where we will be reminded daily of all that God has done and has promised us in His son Jesus Christ.  This is what led us to our choice in the first place.  To quote a sports phrase, we need the Bible to help us keep our eye on the prize.

In the Gospel lesson we have basically the same challenge put to us.  Jesus completes his explanation of His purpose here as the bread of life and then we hear the reaction of the disciples.  To paraphrase, “are you kidding?  That is way too hard!”  Like the disciples, we are keen to sign on for the salvation, but not so keen on following Jesus path of persecution and suffering and death.  We are frightened by the idea of carrying our own cross.

Aug 27, 2006 Stanley

Joshua 24:1-2a, 14-18

Psalm 84

Ephesians 6:10-20

John 6:56-69