Life's Key Issues 

      Many of the people you and I have known have gone through their entire lives just sort of existing. At the end of their lives there wasn’t really anything significant to say about them. Several years ago I received a call from the late Ralph Hicks of the Hicks Funeral Home in Elkton. He had been asked to find a minister to conduct a funeral for a member of this particular family. When I arrived I found that although this man had lived a long life there was not one relative or friend present. And so, with only Mr. Hicks and myself in the funeral parlor, I tried to give last respects to a man I had never met and knew nothing about…and who did not have one relative or friend to honor his memory. How sad.

     There are people who at the end of their lives we had no words to fully describe the impact they had on others. We recognize people like this in the political realm with such people as John Kennedy and Ronald Reagan; . . .in the entertainment realm with Elvis Presley; . . .in the religious realm with those like Billy Graham and Mother Teresa; . . .in the sports realm we have Muhammad Ali.

     What makes the difference between people who don’t even make a blip on the radar screen of life and those who appear so big the screen can only show portions of them at any one time? The answer is that those who become significant as a person and notable in their impact on others have settled the key issues of life.

     Each of us will be confronted with four key issues. It doesn’t matter whether we believe in God or don’t believe in God, we are going to come to grips with these four key issues. What we decide about each of them is going to determine the direction of our life and ultimately our significance and success. Or, if your funeral will be like the man I first mentioned.

Moses Shows The Way

In the eleventh chapter of the New Testament book of Hebrews we have God’s Honor Roll of Old Testament Heroes. Eighteen people are mentioned by name and perhaps hundreds of others implied. All made the right decisions about the key issues of life. Moses is the pre-imminent example. From him we learn:

Define My Identity - I must clarify to myself who I am and what I am.

In Moses’ case this was a major issue. Moses was born the son of Hebrew slaves in the land of Egypt. At that time, Egyptian law stated that all male babies of the Hebrews were to be put to death as soon as they were born. His mother made a bold move of putting him in a little basket and placing him in the Nile River where the daughter of Egypt’s ruler (called Pharaoh) normally bathed. When Pharaoh's daughter heard the baby Moses crying and picked him up her heart was touched with loving compassion. Moses’ sister, Miriam, was stationed nearby and ran up to ask, "Would you like one of the Hebrew women to nurse the baby for you?" And so, Moses was taken into the royal palace to be raised as a son of Pharaoh's daughter, . . .but his nurse was his real mother.

    The day came when Moses had to come to grips with the first key issue of life, his identity. "Do I continue pretending that I am the son of Pharaoh's daughter with fame, fortune, luxury and every pleasure. Or, do I identify myself as a Hebrew? If so, I will experience shame and humiliation and perhaps be put into slave labor along with other Hebrews and may even be put to death."

     It is at this point that we begin to see why God used Moses. He refused to live a lie. "By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter." Hebrews 11:24. Please note that word "refused". He reflected on that choice and disowned it. He defined his identity. His decision was, "Even though I’m called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, that is not really who I am. I was born a Hebrew, the Hebrews are the people of God. I choose to be identified with them because that is what God intended me to be.

     Those of us who have trusted Jesus to save us are children of God. Yet, we have been raised with the glamour and luxury the world has to offer. Like Moses, we must make a choice to live as children of God and do what God has planned for us. If we choose to be what God made us to be, it gives confidence and reduces stress. Recent studies have proven that stress among people of strong faith is far reduced. Psalm 139 tells us; "For you formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb…When I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.  Your eyes saw my  substance, being yet unformed.  And in Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them" Psalm 139:13, 15b,16.   God had a purpose for each one of us before we were born. Real success begins by deciding to be what God made us to be.

Accept Responsibility

     In today's society the prevailing thought is "Whatever faults, failures or incompetence I have is because somebody else is to blame. I was mistreated by my parents, or my teachers, or fellow students or a boss on one of my jobs." Do these things happen to people? Sure they do. These things happen to all of us. This world is not a perfect place and life is not fair. But that is no excuse. If you and I are going to become a complete person and have an impact by our life, then we must stop blaming other people and accept responsibility.

     Notice that Moses ". . .Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin."  . In verse 24 we saw him refusing to pretend he was somebody he wasn't. In verse 25 we see him choosing the direction of his life.

  • He first made a negative decision about what he would not be,
  • He made a positive decision about who he would be and what he would do

     When did he do this? "when he became of age." Verse 24a. As a child Moses lived under the authority of others, but when he grew up he began to reflect on the direction of life others had chosen for him. He rejected that direction and chose another, and accepted the responsibility for his decision. So must we because the scriptures tell us "So then each one of us shall give account of himself to God." Romans 14:12.

Determine Values and Priorities

     Our life can be one that makes an impact on others. If we are going to attain our goals, be the person we're convinced we should be and impact others we are going to have to define what is important and what is not.

     Moses considered " Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he  looked to the reward." Hebrews 11:26. After lengthy thought about the decision he should make, Moses determined, "If I continue to be somebody I am not and live according to what others have chosen for me I will enjoy the best that being a member of the royal family has to offer. On the other hand, if I choose to be who I really am and choose the direction in life God has made me and shaped me to take, it can be tough in this life but I will enjoy the best that God has to offer for all eternity. In the vernacular of today Moses decided "This is a 'no-brainer'. I'm going with God.!" And flowing out of that decision Moses determined his values and priorities to successfully carry out this decision.

     Have you really decided what really matters most in life for you. Have you made a list of your values such as love, faith, integrity, commitment, etc? Have you made a list of your priorities such as the place of God, family, your Christian life and service, your vocation, your social and civic responsibilities, etc.? Life Strategists state that when we must act in a crisis, we always fall back on our basic values. If a man who has strong values of commitment, family and love is tempted to an extramarital affair, he can resist. A person who has strong values of integrity is less tempted to cheat, or lie, or steal.

     I encourage you to start today making a list of what's really important in the life. Keep working with it until you have everything of importance. Even more important, I encourage you to follow Moses' example. He rejected the values of this world system which are power, prestige, pleasure and possessions and he did it when he was enjoying all these things. He chose the values of God and determined these were the values by which he would live. Moses decided:

    1. God's purpose is more important than power
    2. God's people are more important than the pleasures of sin
    3. God's riches and rewards are greater than the riches and rewards of the world.

     Moses was motivated in determining his values and priorities by his faith. "By faith. . .he was looking to the reward" Hebrews 11:26 and , ". . .he endured, as seeing Him who is unseen."   Hebrews 11:27. He believed that his eternal reward would be waiting and that God would always be with him in his journey of life.

4. I Must Choose My Authority

     This issue is the most important of all. Who is really going to be in charge of my life? Bob Dylan laid hold on this truth when he used to sing:

"You're going to have to serve somebody.
It may be the devil. It may be the Lord.
But, you're going to have to serve somebody."

     Jesus put it this way, "No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon (money)." Matthew 6:24.

     We see a clear indication of who Moses chose as his authority in verse 27, "By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured, as seeing Him who is unseen." The word of Pharaoh carried the power of life and death. The Egyptians lived in fear of the wrath of Pharaoh. . .not Moses. He had chosen the Lord as the authority in his life and with the eyes of faith God was always in sight.

     When we choose God as our authority we have it settled that it doesn't matter what anybody else is going to say about our life. What matters is what God says about it. One day, every one of us will stand before God and be held accountable for the question, "Who was in charge of your life?"

     Who are you living for? What is the direction of your life whether you have got ten years left or fifty? Would you like to make an impact with your life? It is your choice. You can start now by settling these four basic issues:

          Identity: I am going to be who God made me to be
         Responsibility: I take responsibility that by God's help I will be what I should be and do what I should
        Values and Priorities: My values and priorities will be based on what God's word tells me are the really most important things in life.
         Authority: God is going to be the One in charge of my life.

     God wants to use you and He will use you to the extent you settle the four basic issues of life.     I urge you to get these issues settled. Right now would be a good time to tell the Lord that with His help you are going to choose His way.

     As you leave, remember the words to this poem:

"I asked God for all things that I might enjoy life.
He gave me Life that I might enjoy all things."

     If you have not yet received Jesus Christ as your Savior I urge you to do so today and get your salvation settled. That is your first and most important step towards resolving the basic issues of life.

Copyright © 2002 Thomas E Berry
All Scripture quoted from NKJV unless otherwise noted

    Copyright © 2008 Truth Helpers Inc.