Lesson 3: The Power of Choice Part 2
Focus Text: Daniel 1:8
“But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank.”
Making the Right Choice
It is one thing to say that we should make right choices; it is another to have the conviction of heart to do it. What are some ways that we can program our minds so that we are more likely to make the right choices?
Daniel 1:8 “But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank.”
The Israelite prophet Daniel was taken into captivity in 605 BC at the time Babylon conquered Israel.
As a young slave, Daniel found that the palace foods did not enable the physical and mental strength or wisdom he was accustomed to. He asked the keeper of the slaves if he and his Israelite friends could eat according to their Israelite customs rather than eat the king’s meat and drink the king’s wine.
A 10-day test was set up to see how Daniel and his friends would fare if they were allowed to eat pulse instead of the king’s meat and to drink water instead of wine.
After 10 days the king found them healthier and stronger. After three years he found them 10 times better in wisdom than the most learned in the kingdom.
In the end, we are free to choose. Like Daniel, we must “purpose” to have a predetermined resolution in our hearts, to choose what is right.
Discussion Questions: Consider the circumstance in which Daniel had to make his choice.
- Daniel lived in an enemy territory.
- Daniel was surrounded by rules and regulations that went against his values including what he should eat.
- Many of Daniel's peers went along with the rules that were placed on them.
- Daniel did have a few friends who were willing to stand up with him.
- Daniel made up his mind before he was confronted with his trial; "But Daniel purposed in his heart"
- Explore more
Key elements that may help us in making the right choice. Explore:
- Supportive community-family, friends, church family can provide an amazing support system for making the right choice and help us to be accountable (Mark 2:1-13-story of the paralytic lowered through the roof).
- Seek wise counsel (“but in the multitude of counselors there is safety”- Proverbs 11:14; "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God"-James 1:5).
- Right information-it can provide the right motivation and a clear direction (Proverbs 15:23, 25:11; Matthew 24:45).
- Spiritual Conviction (1Corinthians 6:19-20; Romans 12:1-2).
- Avoid temptation-do not put yourself unnecessarily at risk. (Matthew 26:41; "If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down from hence:" Luke 4:9-12).
- Accept help with humility (2 Kings chapter 5-story of Naaman).
- Create an environment that will work for you and not against you-make changes to your environment to minimize your habit's triggers. e.g. don't have unhealthy sweets around the house if you want to avoid them.
Choice and the Next Generation
How do you understand the idea that choices you make will impact the generations to follow?
How can our choices impact our children?
The consequences of life choices affect not just us but often our children, as well. Our influence is so much greater than we imagine, especially on our children.
One obvious example is that of drinking alcohol. Alcohol (wine, beer, or liquor) is the leading known preventable cause of developmental and physical birth defects in the United States.
When a woman drinks alcohol during pregnancy, she risks giving birth to a child who will pay the price — in mental and physical deficiencies — for his or her entire life. Yet many pregnant women do drink alcohol. It is estimated that each year in the United States, 1 in every 750 infants is born with a pattern of physical, developmental, and functional problems referred to as fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS), while another 40,000 are born with fetal alcohol effects (FAE).
It is known that about 7 percent of persons who take a first drink will become alcoholic or problem drinkers. The choice to introduce alcohol into our homes, even just a little here and there may or may not have repercussions on us individually. You may not be damaged greatly by it but what about your children? What about the example you leave?
If you drink, it’s much more likely your children will as well. Is it worth choosing something that may steal the life of your child?
Studies clearly have shown that children raised in homes where alcohol is present are much more at risk of alcohol problems than are children raised in homes where alcohol is not consumed. That simple fact alone should make us even more cautious about the examples we set.
Choice and Chance-God Knows Our Circumstances
Though all have the power of choice, not all have an equal array of opportunities. Some choices limit future possibilities and opportunities. Some individuals suffer disadvantages without the choice being theirs. Consider the disadvantages that cloud the lives of some: children born into homes where drugs are used, where domestic violence prevails, where poverty is extreme. Consider the ravages of violent corruption and desperation. We all, to one degree or another, have been placed in situations that are not of our own choosing.
Read Psalms 87: 5-6 “And of Zion it shall be said, This and that man was born in her: and the highest himself shall establish her. The Lord shall count, when he writeth up the people, that this man was born there. Selah.”
God knows our circumstances; God knows that many of us have been brought into horrible situations not of our own doing. God alone fully knows the backgrounds of us all.
Who hasn’t, at times, met people struggling with some terrible issues, issues brought about by choices that others made: a choice of an alcoholic parent, choice of an obese parent with diabetes, choice of a parent to abandon the family; a choice of a spouse to commit adultery; a choice of a friend to betray someone who had trusted him or her? The variables are endless.
What are some of the things you have struggled with that are the result of choices that others, not you, have made?
How has God worked in your life to negate some of the negative results of those choices?
What better choices can you make yourself that could help in the healing process?
Challenge: The good news is that we can still make choices for a better life. But the most important choice of all is to choose to follow Jesus. Make His counsel a priority in our lives. As we choose Jesus as our personal Savior, we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Through this gift, God now enters and influences our hearts and minds to direct our actions and to lead us to all truth (John 16:13), including the truth about health.
For more Bible Lessons on Health click HERE.