Living A Second Choice Life

Bible Book: Acts  16 : 6-10
Subject: Christian Living; Forgiveness; Second Chances

I received an e-mail recently, which came from a dear person who spoke about the power of words that come out of our mouth. This sister said:

"You are snared by the words that come out of your mouth. Stop complaining about the situation and start praying and believing God. Stop talking negative about everything that goes on in your life.

Instead of saying you are stressed, you should say you are blessed. Instead of thinking you are having a breakdown, realize you are having a breakthrough. Instead of saying you are sick and can't be cured, say in the name of Jesus by His stripes I am healed. Instead of saying you will never get out of debt, speak a blessing over your life and say you will be debt free. Call those things to be not  as though they are. Instead of saying that you can't get another car because of your credit, say thank you Lord because you give me the desires of my heart. You hold yourself back with that negative attitude that is not of God. Speak a prophetic blessing over your life, speak into your store house. You are blessed and not cursed brothers and sisters.

If you say that you are going to have a bad day, you will have a bad day. If you say that my day will be great or blessed, then that is what will happen. Think before you speak. The enemy loves when you talk negative or have nothing nice to say at all. When you are very sleepy, bind that slothful spirit and cast it and move on. In closing, God's Word says Death and Life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof. (Proverbs 18:21) Now speak to that mountain in your life!"

Is that true? Is is true that words have a powerful impact? The answer to that is a definite yes. However, is it true that the speaking of our words changes our reality? That is an entirely different issue. If that were totally true, I assure you there would be many things we would wish to speak into a different reality. Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could change all of the disappointing, discouraging events of our lives by speaking a prophetic blessing over them?

The reality is that we all have experienced disappointment and discouragement. Sometimes those disappointments come from our own sinful lives. Other times, disappointments come from the actions of others and tragedies that beset human beings in general. We all believe that God has a special plan for our lives. We want our children to experience that special, perfect plan with no deviation. The reality of grown up life however is that many times we experience disappointment and we often live less than perfect lives. Sometimes we find ourselves living a second-choice life.

How can you face disappointment with despair? How can you live with what seems to be a second choice? The apostle Paul has some answers that will help you.

In Acts 16:6-10 we are told how he encountered a very disappointing experience. Paul desperately wanted to launch an aggressive, new missionary thrust in Asia Minor. But the Bible says, "The Spirit ... did not allow them." There was still hope, however. He had always wanted to go into Bithynia, that fertile province on the shores of the Black Sea. But again the Scriptures say he was prevented from doing it--another disappointment right on the heels of the first one.

Troas was a third-rate area, which was unproductive and unresponsive. Paul had to accept his third choice after facing a double disappointment, but he discovered some secrets that will also help you cope with disappointment.

I. You Can Keep Moving On

Paul didn't retreat. He didn't turn back to Jerusalem. He didn't sink in despair and give up. He kept moving, even if it was in the direction of his third choice. It may well have been out of his experiences at Troas that he learned to say, "Forgetting those things which are behind, . . . I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 3:13).

Yes, you can keep moving on. Einstein racked up more scientific failures than scientific achievements in his career. Henry Aaron struck out many more times than he hit home runs.

There is a story of an old man who was traveling down a road. Weary and tired, he carried a huge bundle of lumber on his back. He nearly stumbled beneath the load, and finally in despair the weary traveler sat down and said in disgust, "I wish I were dead." Suddenly, like a flash, there stood Death right beside him in the road. "You called me? What do you want?" Death said. And the man with big eyes, answered, "I want that bundle back on my shoulders and my feet on the road again right now." To stop under the weight of disappointment is to die.

Don't let disappointment wreck your life and block what you are attempting to do. Move on past it. Are you laden with disappointment? Could it be that you're disappointed with your Christian life? The only way to reach maturity is to keep on moving past the sin and apathy that keeps you from growing as you ought.

When Elijah went through his disappointing and discouraging valley time in 1 Kings 19, the Bible tells us of his deep discouragement and disappointment. However, in 1 Kings 19:5, the angel touched him and said, "get up and eat." In verse 7 the angel of the Lord came back a second time touched him and said, "get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you." My point is simply this. When you are in a time of discouragement and disappointment, the worst thing to do is to sit and do nothing. The evil one knows the validity of the old American proverb, "idleness is the devil's workshop." Don't let disappointment wreck your life. Move on past it seeking to grow in the Lord.

Remember that there is a purpose and that purpose is being fulfilled in a process. One of my favorite scriptures in the whole world is 2 Corinthians 3:18 and it says, "And we with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the spirit." If you stop and allow disappointment and discouragement to paralyze you will have thwarted the ever-increasing glory which God wants to bring into your life.

II. You Can Look For God's Plan In Your Second Choice

Disappointment comes when one of your dreams shatters all about you. In the shattering of hopes and dreams, however, we are sometimes more able to see clearly the purpose of God for our life. It happened like that with Paul. He wanted to go to Asia. He dreamed of going into Bithynia. But it was only when those hopes and dreams were shattered that Paul would see God's leading him to Troas and beyond.

The real failure in disappointment is when you let it blind you to the possibilities God's plan may be in that second chance.

III. Your Second Choice May Be The Best

Paul couldn't have known it at the time, but the disappointment that sent him to Troas instead of Ephesus and Bithynia would soon be forgotten. For in Troas the door opened for him to cross into Macedonia, and Paul found himself preaching in the great city of Corinth, in the greater city of Athens, and eventually in Rome, the very heart and center of the Empire. These were places he never dreamed he would have the opportunity to claim for Christ. His third choice, even though disappointing at first, was really the absolute best.

In 1845 there was a young struggling artist who painted what he considered to be his best work. He took it proudly to Paris and was shocked when the critics harshly rejected it. He didn't have enough money to buy another canvas to start over again, but he had courage to start again and over the surface of that painting he painted another. It became a great masterpiece, and launched a great career for him. It will help you to cope with disappointment to remember how often your discouraging, second choice may be God's first.

The gospel anticipates the fact that we all meet with disappointment at one time or another. The message is one of forgiveness for those who have failed and one of restoration. The gospel is the message of a new start when you failed in the first one.

The message of the New Testament is that Jesus Christ becomes a personal power who can keep you going when you are tempted to give up. Living within you, He can give you wisdom to see His will in your second choice. Won't you make a fresh start today?