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Thursday, December 3, 2009

Making Spiritual Decisions

Making decisions can be difficult. Perhaps because we're afraid we're going to make the wrong choice, we won't step out and make any decision at all.

I heard about a farmer who hired a man to work for him. He told him his first task would be to paint the barn and said it should take him about three days to complete. But the hired man was finished in one day. The farmer set him to cutting wood, telling him it would require about 4 days. The hired man finished in a day and a half, to the farmer's amazement. The next task was to sort out a large pile of potatoes. He was to arrange them into three piles: seed potatoes, food for the hogs, and potatoes that were good enough to sell. The farmer said it was a small job and shouldn't take long at all. At the end of the day the farmer came back and found the hired man had barely started. "What's the matter here?" the farmer asked. "I can work hard, but I can't make decisions!" replied the hired man. What could have helped the man sort the potatoes? Prayer. "Prayer?" you ask. "About potatoes?" Yes. God is concerned even about our work, and if we go to Him He will give wisdom.

Monday night in our Bible study of A Woman After God's Own Heart by Elizabeth George, we learned that if we have a heart for passion in prayer we will make no decision without prayer.

Another blessing she learned in prayer was greater confidence in decision making. Before Elizabeth learned the principles of biblical decision making she made her choices based on how she felt at the moment someone was asking her something. If they called early enough in the day when her energy level was high, she found herself drumming her fingers on the table waiting for them to take a breath so she could say, "Yes! I can do that! When do you want me to come?" If the phone call came later when she wasn't quite so perky, she found herself shaking her head, no matter what the other person was asking. Then she realized that she wasn't making spiritual decisions, she was making physical decisions. If she felt good the answer was yes. If she felt bad the answer was no.

In Acts 13:22 we read: And when he had removed him, he raised up unto them David to be their king; to whom also he gave their testimony, and said, I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfil all my will. To be a woman after God's own heart, we must fulfill all God's will. It's important how we make decisions because we want to do His will. In Acts 9:6 we read about Paul on the Road to Damascus on his way to kill Christians, And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do. We must ask the Lord the same question, "What would you have me to do?"

When Elizabeth faced a decision she learned to write them down on a 3x5 card and prayed about it. When she was invited to a baby or wedding shower, she wrote it down and prayed about it so she would make no decision without prayer. Who should I disciple? How long? Which Bible study should I teach? These decisions were all made seriously in prayer. She refused to accept a responsibility that took her away from home until her girls were married and out of the home so she could keep her priorities that the Lord has given her.

On the 3x5 card she would write the decision that needed to be made and also four questions. Jeremiah 17:9 says, The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?
The questions to ask when facing a decision are:

  1. Why would I do this?

  2. Why would I not do this? -
The reason to ask these two questions is that it surfaces our motives. Elizabeth's example is if someone's asked her to teach a Bible study. She asks, "Why would I do this?" Her deceitful heart says, "Because your name will be in the bulletin. Everyone will know you're a great Bible teacher. Even if they don't come they'll know you're the teacher!" Proverbs 11:2 says, When pride cometh, then cometh shame: but with the lowly is wisdom. This is a bad reason. Then she'd ask, "Why would I not do this?" Perhaps it's an invitation to speak to a large gathering and her heart says, "I'm afraid!" That's another bad answer. God has not given us the spirit of fear...

3. Why should I do this?

4. Why should I not do this?

Another safety valve for those of us that are married is the advice of our husbands. If he doesn't want us to do a particular thing we need to listen to his counsel. How blessed to have a husband that will support, pray for and bless his wife's endeavors. How blessed is the wife that has a husband that would tell her "no" and protect her by his loving decision for her! Listen to what he has to say.

If you're making a decision and you feel pressured by the church secretary who needs to put your name in the bulletin as to whether or not you're going to teach that Sunday School class, say "no." if God hasn't given you direction about it. Susanna Wesley said, "God forbid that I should venture on any business without first begging for thy direction and thy assistance."

The farmer's hired hand in our opening illustration could have made light work of those potatoes had he prayed about it. "Lord, give me wisdom to make the right choices here. Guide my hands as I work and help me to know which pile to put each potato in."

Today as you "sort your potatoes" don't make any decision without prayer!

1 comment:

hkeels said...

Denise....I love reading your blogs and would love to reflect back on them. Do you have the option of making the page a "printer friendly" page so I can print it and file it in a notebook?