Children, young people, and older young people, tonight I will need you to use your imaginations. And when I say older young people, I am talking about older young people like me, Brother Benaiah and Brother Ross. I don’t want to call us old people. Young people and children, you who give your hearts to God at a young age will have this to look forward to. When God saves us, no matter what we go through or how old we become, we will always be young in heart! So now, let’s begin this evening by reading the following three verses in Genesis. I need you to listen very carefully because the following verses hold a clue to a question I will ask you later.
“15And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.
16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat:
17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.”
Now, let’s use our imaginations!
In front of me, I have a box. So I want you also to imagine a box. Now I want you to imagine this box wrapped in beautiful paper. My box is wrapped in paper of shiny silver and green. You can imagine a beautiful bow of colorful ribbon on this box, and inside this beautifully wrapped box is a gift. Someone gave me this gift, but I won’t tell you who it is yet. Let me open this gift so I can describe to you what is on the inside of the box. Oh my! There is a piece of paper in this gift; it looks like a letter or note of some kind! But there is only one word written on this piece of paper. Oh my, this is my gift, and it has great power! I’m not bragging. It’s just the nature of the gift. Let me describe it to you, and let’s see if you can guess it.
- This gift is so powerful that it can cause mass destruction depending on where someone is and the situation they use it in.
- This gift has the potential to get you great contentment or great poverty
- This gift’s power can alter the course of someone’s future
- This gift can cause you good health or terrible sickness
- This gift can give you beautiful relationships, make your dreams come true, or turn your life into a living nightmare.
- It can even make you skinny or fat
- It can keep you busy or make you lazy
- And the results or consequences of people exercising this gift are all around us.
- Sadly most people never allow themselves to use this gift to its full potential or for the right things.
- This gift isn’t new, and in fact, it’s been around since the beginning of time.
I want to give it to you, but I realize I can’t because it’s not mine to give away, and the reality is you already have it – everyone does! Do you know what it is yet? Brother Ross, why don’t you tell the children, young people, and older young people what this gift is. It is the gift of choice! Or we can also say the gift to choose!
God gave each of us this unique and incredible gift. Accomplished men in the history of our world recognized this great gift and its power. Some even spoke and wrote about it. I will read to you quotes from a few.
Frederick Bailes, a 19th-century philosopher, wrote:
“Man’s power of choice enables him to think like an angel or a devil, a king or a slave. Whatever he chooses, his mind will create and manifest.”
Fredrick Bailes Philosopher
Do you know that the Bible supports his words?
“7 For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he: Eat and drink, saith he to thee; but his heart is not with thee.”
The author of the following quote is not known:
“The concept of the ability for humans to decide, using free will, the course of their lives, has separated the species from the rest of the animal kingdom.”
This quote is also true. Is there a fish, a plant, or any other living animal who can reason and choose like us? Not any. God gave this gift specifically to His human creation and made all other living things to perform their tasks out of necessity and instinct. God created even the angels to love and worship Him without any choice.
And the last quote I will read was written by a man named Stephen Covey, and he said,
“There is always a choice in everything; you just have to know what is the right and the wrong.”
God gives each one of us the ability to choose from the time of our birth. Our opening scriptures teach us that God gave this gift to man from the beginning, and this ability is passed down from generation to generation. Do you remember Brother Ross’s lesson last week about the complaining Israelites? They had a choice to trust God and live in contentment and peace or complain, and the Israelites chose to complain over and over again. No one forced them to complain. Complaining was their own choice. Complaining takes a lot of energy and makes a person feel down, tired and unhappy. Did you know that complaining is also contagious? If one person complains to another, they start to complain then another, and so on. Not all the Israelites complained, but many did, compared to the number who didn’t. I will let you in on a secret; you have the choice to decide not to complain. And that is God-given power.
Genesis 2:15-17 shows us that God gave Adam and Eve the same gift along with the same command. All they needed to do was obey God’s words. Eat anything you want except the fruit from the tree that bears knowledge of good and evil. But Eve chose not to obey, and her choice changed how we would have a relationship with God forever. On the other hand, Adam was content when he was alone or with God, but he chose to allow Eve to influence him. Then he also chose to blame her for his actions. Adam made a series of bad choices in a very short period of time. You see, young people, the gift to choose can result in change for the better or, the worse. In Eve’s case, it was the worse.
Sometimes children, young people, and older young people fall into this trap. They may be good-natured and fairly content to do what’s right when they are alone, but when their friends come around, they choose to let their friends have power over their choices, just as Adam chose to give his power of choice to Eve. Then they blame their friends for the trouble they find themselves in. Have you ever heard a person say, but he made me do it! Or she made me do it!”? But young people and children, you can remember that you don’t have to give up your power to choose or give control over yourself to someone else. Because your ability to choose is a gift from God that you can use, and because it comes from God, it also carries great power. All you need to do is use it for what is right. If you do, this God will give you grace from above, happiness in your heart, and contentment that brings peace. And this is true power in Christ. Let’s look at what Timothy had to say.
“6 But godliness with contentment is great gain.”
So children, young people, and older young people, you have a God-given gift, and this gift comes with great power. It is the ability to choose, and today if you will, you can make a choice to give God your life. Then God can help you choose the things that are right for your life.