Matters of Faith: By Choice, Not Circumstance


By: Rev. J. Loren Russell, BA, MDiv.


Luke 16:30-31 And he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ 31 He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.”


Our lives are shaped, formed and fashioned by the choices we make. Each choice we make has a ripple effect on every aspect of our life. Think about it, eating choices determine our health, spending choices determine our financial well-being, and our choice to respond to the Lord’s invitation to have a relationship with Him determines our eternal destiny.


Two men; one rich, one poor. One lived lavishly, the other by the crumbs that fell from his table. One had the best of medical care; could see any specialist he needed. The other, the only doctor he had were the tongues of the dogs that licked his wounds. One wore the finest of clothes, the other, just torn rags. One lived high society, the other was homeless. One had friends who would drink and party like there was no tomorrow, the other was friendless and hopeless.


Some things in life are not our choice. We can be born into dire circumstances and/or situations. Some things are beyond our control, giving us little to no room to choose. Some things are not by choice. As the story of Lazarus and the rich man shows, the common denominator in both of their lives was death. It doesn’t matter how much money you have, how much influence you have, how much property you possess, you will die! And, on the other side, it doesn’t matter how poor you are, how faithful you are, how other people treat you, how difficult life is to you, you are going to die! At the end of the day, the one choice that will matter the most is the choice you make wither to be in relationship with Christ or not. The rich man trusted in his riches, his possessions, his relationships, his pedigree and his wisdom. Lazarus trusted in God. One was called a rich man, the other by name; Lazarus! His name was found written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, the rich man’s wasn’t. Lazarus entered into paradise, the rich man, Hell. It was their choice, not circumstance!


Lazarus, a poor man who struggled in life, had nowhere to lay his head, no food to eat except what others threw out, had no bank account, no 401K, and no medical plan…, died! The rich man, despite all his wealth and possessions, also died. Lazarus could see and hear the rich man in torment, pleading with Abraham to let him come and dip his finger into the water to let a drop fall on his burning tongue. He could see and hear him pleading with Abraham to let him go back and tell his brothers that Hell was waiting for them too if they didn’t choose Christ as their savior. Lazarus could see him; he could hear him; he could feel his anguish, but there was nothing that could be done. Choices had been made and eternal homes had been decided.


The prophet Joshua challenges us through his writing to the children of Israel, “And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the river, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord!” (Joshua 24:15)


What about you? What chose have you made? Choose wisely.


God Bless +++


Rev. J. Loren Russell, BS, MDiv is President/CEO of The JLR Company, and an associate minister at both Goodwill and Greater Universal Baptist Churches in the Bronx and hosts Matters of Faith The Radio Show on Soul 1 Radio (internet), Mondays 8:00 10:00 PM., or by phone at 626-226-1448. Note: You don’t have to talk, but you can access the show by calling in. *Show airing 5/23/16 will be prerecorded. No live callers please.  

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