Decision-Making by the Book

A reporter investigating the citrus industry in Florida, found a man at a conveyor belt putting large oranges in one hole, small ones in a second hole and damaged ones in a third hole. After several moments of watching this monotonous routine, the reporter asked how the worker can do this day after day. He said, sir, you don’t know the half of it. Every day, all day long it’s decisions, decisions, decisions.

There’s a Hunger for Guidance – Deuteronomy 18:10, 11-12. There’s a silence in the Bible, and no step by step process for finding God’s will.

There are Many Divining Christians

Some people meditate, empty their minds and allow God to speak directly to them, but inner impressions may not be the will of God.

Biblical roulette allows your fingers to do the walking and pick out a passage or let the book flop open to read a word from the Lord. We’ve heard the story of the man seeking guidance and the passage found was Matthew 27:5, Judas went away and hanged himself. Then Luke 10:37, where Jesus finished the parable of the Good Samaritan and said, “Go and do likewise.” Still not satisfied, he found John 2:5, where Mary, the mother of Jesus says, “Do whatever He tells you.”

Promise boxes can be another way – taking the next verse in the box, at breakfast, and that is God’s word for you that day. I read of a man (whose wife was terminally ill), who sat at the table and the next card was John 11:25, “I am the resurrection and the life, he who believes in me will live.” He was convinced that God had spoken to him, so he spread the great news that God was going to heal his wife, only to be disappointed later that week. People came to the conclusion that the man was a religious fanatic or that God had gone back on his word.

There are Classic Searching Questions, like whom should I marry? Should I take this Job or that one? Should I buy this home or rent? Should I go to this school or that one? So how do you know? Will there be a sign over the proper direction? Or how about the right person to marry? How will I spot her? Will she be carrying a large Bible or wear her hair in a certain way?

The Bull’s-Eye Theory – that there is a range of possible choices that are acceptable to God, so our main goal is to find the bulls-eyes, or the center of God’s will. We think that the center would be for missionary service, pastors, Christian businessmen who support missionaries. Then there’s a second ring further out, they went to church but were not as involved in God’s work as others. Finally we get to those who missed the target completely! These people missed the center and will never have the chance to be in the bulls-eye, because they married second best, or they settled for second best.

Three Wills of God

Philosophers are right to explain what we mean by the term, “God’s will.”

God’s sovereign will – God’s purpose from eternity past to eternity future, and he determines that all of it will take place. In Ephesians 1:11, “we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will.” History is God’s story and he writes the story line. Theologians will call this God’s hidden will, because he doesn’t have to reveal the secret things of God to humans. He reveals what he wants!

God’s moral will – God wants us to know this one because he reveals it in the Bible. Scripture tells us what to believe and how to behave. Its moral and it’s clear.

God’s individual will – God would seem to have my life all mapped out on a blackboard in heaven and we need to see it to make the right choices that he has for our lives. It’s here that we ask the question, “What is God’s will for my life” when really we are asking the wrong question. The question is, “What is God’s will, and how can I bring my life in tune with it?” He works his sovereign will, sometimes even through atheists and unbelievers; he reveals his moral will; but he doesn’t necessarily reveal his specific plan for our lives. Individual will is not to be on the same level as the other two.

Peace as Proof of being in God’s Will – Colossians 3:15 says to let the peace of Christ rule your heartsyou were called to peace.” Some would say that you are living within God’s boundaries when you experience peace. When you step outside the boundaries, the umpire blows the whistle and peace is lacking. It sounds good until you look at the examples of Jonah and Jesus.

  1. Jonah was totally at peace, asleep in the boat, and absolutely out of God’s will.
  2. Jesus was in agony in the garden, devoid of peace, but totally in God’s will.

Freedom and Responsibility – The question we should ask is no longer, “How can I know God’s will?” Instead we should ask, “How can I make good decisions?” If we change the question, we change the direction of the answer. “How do I know God’s will?” makes us passive, in receiving mode. “How do I make good decisions?” makes us active. It shifts the responsibility of decision-making from God to us. It’s like helping your kids across the street… we’re very directive, hold my hand and we’ll cross together. Then at one point they grow up and they can cross without hold our hand, and then if we have taught them well enough, they will be able to cross in our absence, having taught them to make good decisions.

How to Make Good Decisions on this Life Journey?

Take a position of humility and submission is a good start. It’s hard to be humble when we are selfishly looking out for our own interests.

Allow the law of love to guide – what is the most loving thing?

Know your strengths and weaknesses – some things you are able to do with a certain ease and effectiveness; other things do not.

Consider the circumstances – Tornadoes on the east side of Louisville KY, near SBTS. Interpretation is difficult, if God was angry over horse racing, gambling and bourbon, why did he leave Churchill Downs in tact?

Open doors – it is not always the Lord leading you through an open door. Just because it’s open does not mean you need to go through it. Don’t let circumstances determine your decisions. The phrase is used five times in the NT (Acts 14:27, 1 Corinthians 16:9, 2 Corinthians 2:12, Colossians 4:3 and Revelation 3:8) and they all refer to an opportunity. “When I came to the city of Troas to preach the Good News of Christ, the Lord opened a door of opportunity for me. But I had no peace of mind because my dear brother Titus hadn’t yet arrived with a report from you. So I said good-bye and went on to Macedonia to find him. 2 Corinthians 2:12-13. If an open door determines God’s direction, what Paul did is puzzling.

Seeking wise counsel – This is a sure way to get better at making decisions.

A Final Verse – “Though the Lord gave you adversity for food and suffering for drink, he will still be with you to teach you. You will see your teacher with your own eyes. Your own ears will hear him. Right behind you a voice will say, “This is the way you should go,” whether to the right or to the left”. – Isaiah 30:20-21

This tells me to make a wise decision with the light I have, and then God will confirm that I have chosen the right direction. I can choose the wrong direction when I totally disregard the decision-making steps above.

A.W Tozer said that the man or woman who is wholly and joyously surrendered to Christ can’t make a wrong decision.

The action to take when struggling with a decision, get to know God and He will make His will, your will.

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