The Source: Spiritual Disciplines

THE SOURCE – LESSON 12

 

DECISION MAKING

 

Left or Right, Stay or Go, Fast or Slow. Everyday life is filled with multiple decisions. And God does care about our decisions. But, how do we know we are doing what God wants us to do? Is there a pre-determined path that if I follow, I will be blessed and if I stray, I will be cursed? This lesson will overview an understanding of God’s will as well as offer some practical helps to guide you to knowing and obeying God’s will for your life.

Introduction

Our English word “decide” comes from the Latin word “decidere”, meaning “to cut off”. This shows that decision making is hard because it represents cutting off and saying no to other options. Even more as Christians, we feel the weight of wanting to honor God in life so at times we find God’s will a mystery.

One of the common misconceptions is the way the Bible speaks of God’s will. It actually is mentioned in at least 3 categories that are helpful to understand:

  • God’s decreed or secret will: This refers to God’s ultimate plans which are unchanging and unstoppable. God is the Sovereign Creator and He knows what will happen in the future for everything and everyone in creation. God’s decreed will is holy, just, and good because that is the nature of God.

 

God knows and plans all things; He is in control and we are not!

Job 37:6, 10-12 “For to the snow he says, ‘Fall on the earth,’ likewise to the downpour, his mighty downpour…By the breath of God ice is given, and the broad waters are frozen fast. He loads the thick cloud with moisture; the clouds scatter his lightning. They turn around and around by his guidance, to accomplish all that he commands them on the face of the habitable world.”

Cf. Job 38-42; 42:2 Job responds, “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.”

Isaiah 45:6-7; 46:9-10 “I am the Lord, and there is no other, besides me there is no God; I equip you, though you do not know me, that people may know, from the rising of the sun and from the west, that there is non besides me; I am the Lord and there is no other. I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity, I am the Lord who does all these things…; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose’”

Ephesians 1:4, 5, 9, 11 “He chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will… making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose which he set forth in Christ… In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will.”

God knows and plans each day.

Psalm 139:16 “Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them”

God knows and plans intricate details; He cares more than we will ever realize.

Matthew 10:29-31 “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.”

  • God’s declared or revealed will: This refers to what God has commanded and has shown through His Word. It is God’s desired intention for His creation; ultimately salvation and sanctification. In this declared, revealed will God permits or grants humanity the freedom to respond. It is the mystery of God’s sovereignty and human responsibility, of which the Bible affirms both.

 

God communicates with His creation; He is not concealed.

Deuteronomy 29:29 “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.”

John 6:28-29, 38-40 “’What must we do, to be doing the works of God?’ Jesus answered them, ‘This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent…For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”

 

 God commands His creation; He is not cryptic.

1 Thessalonians 4:3; 5:18 “For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality…; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

1 Peter 2:15 “For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people.”

1 John 2:17 “And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.”

  •  God’s directional will or practical will. This refers to decision making and the questions posed for what God wants a person to do, whether ordinary or significant.

 

God’s Spirit guides in decision-making
Note book of Acts: Believers cast lots before the Holy Spirit comes (1:24-26); Peter and disciples are filled at Pentecost (2:1); Disciples are filled with the Spirit continue to be led (4:31); Stephen (6:5); Paul (9:17); Believers make decisions based according to the fullness and speaking of the Spirit (6:1-7; 9:31; 13:2-3, 13:52; 15:22, 25, 28, 34; 16:6; 18:21

God’s Son frees us to decision-making

Matthew 6:25-34 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

Romans 12:1-2 “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

Colossians 1:9-10 “And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.”

  

Kevin DeYoung, Just Do Something: A Liberating Approach To Finding God’s Will – OR – How to make a decision without dreams, visions, fleeces, impressions, open doors, random bible verses, casting lots, liver shivers, writing in the sky, etc. p.26, 28, 41-42

“expecting God to reveal some hidden will of direction is an invitation to disappointment and indecision. Trusting in God’s will of decree is good. Following His will of desire is obedient. Waiting for God’s will of direction is a mess. It is bad for your life, harmful to your sanctification, and allows too many Christians to be passive tinkerers who strangely feel more spiritual the less they actually do.
God is not a Magic 8-Ball we shake up and peer into whenever we have a decision to make. He is a good God who gives us brains, shows us the way of obedience, and invites us to take risks for Him. We know God has a plan for our lives. That’s wonderful. The problem is we think He’s going to tell us the wonderful plan before it unfolds. We feel like we can know – and need to know – what God wants every step of the way. But such preoccupation with finding God’s will, as well intentioned as the desire may be, is more folly than freedom.

The better way is the biblical way: Seek first the kingdom of God, and then trust that He will take care of our needs, even before we know what they are and where we’re going.”
 

“Some Christians need encouragement to think before they act. Others need encouragement to act after they think.”

“Because we have confidence in God’s will of decree, we can radically commit ourselves to His will of desire, without fretting over a hidden will of direction. In other words, God doesn’t take risks, so we can… God has a wonderful plan for your life – a plan that will take you through trial and triumph as you are transformed into the image of His Son (Romans 8:28-29). Of this we can be absolutely confident. But God’s normal way of operation is not to show this plan to us ahead of time – in retrospect, maybe; in advance, rarely.
Are you feeling directionally challenged by this? Don’t despair. God promises to be your sun and your shield and to carry you and protect with His strong right arm. So we can stop pleading with God to show us the future, and start living and obeying like we are confident that He holds the future.”

Summary Thoughts

µ      The Bible’s emphasis of God’s will is on being who God wants you to be by grace through faith for salvation and spiritual growth THAN doing actions in this life. This ultimately will result in a gospel-centered decision making process for an individual. Deciding a right or wrong choice does not determine a person’s worth or destiny; being whom God called you to be brings glory to God in all things. So, delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart (Psalm 37:4).

µ      This world is not our home. God does not promise comfort and happiness for every decision – even when we follow Him. He does promise to provide assurance of His presence (Matthew 28:20), His strength to avoid temptation (1Corinthians 10:13), and the reality that He works all things together for good (Romans 8:28; Genesis 50:20).

µ      Be careful of blaming God or making spiritual excuses for decision making. Some people use subjective, feeling-oriented language at the expense of biblical wisdom and practical common sense. Jesus warned of this, essentially telling the disciples to simply make decisions based on the Lord and stand by those decisions (Matthew 5:33-37).

  • Classic example of using subjective feeling oriented decisions is saying “God told me to _____” but later when it doesn’t work out the person is left only either to say God made a mistake or they were wrong! Therefore, it is best to say, “It seems God is leading in this way…”

 

µ      Bible reading & prayer are essential. The only way we can know God’s will is from the revelation provided in the Scriptures (Psalm 119:105) and from the guidance of the Holy Spirit (John 16:13). This means an active and intentional process for reading, studying and internalizing Scripture is needed to hear God’s voice and discern godly decision making. In this we are able to see God speak through both circumstances and other individuals (Blackaby).

  • Review the practical tools regarding the spiritual discipline of Bible Intake. Decision making is not about manipulating Scripture to justify personal goals or search for the mysterious clue. God speaks and our obedience to His will is found in TRUST/FAITH IN GOD’S DECREED WILL; OBEDIENCE TO GOD’S DECLARED WILL AND HUMBLY BUT BOLDLY LIVING OUT GOD’S DIRECTIONAL WILL.
  • Micah 6:8 “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.”
  • 

Practical Application

In pursuing God’s will in decision making there are some practical helps. Below are some guidelines for to make G.O.L.D decisions.

1 Corinthians 10:31 “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”

Colossians 3:17 “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

 

GOD & GUIDANCE

When making a decision, seek out what God has to say on the topic in the Scriptures. You can also ask trusted Christian friends to assist in your decision-making.

Matthew 6:10, 33 “Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven… But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness…”

Proverbs 15:22 “Without consultation plans are frustrated, but with many counselors they succeed.”

OUTCOMES

When making a decision, understand all the expected (and unexpected) consequences. Every decision you make will have an impact on yourself, others and your circumstances. Think through the results you would like to bring about and those which you would not.

Galatians 6:7-8 “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, form the Spirit will reap eternal life.”

LIMITS

When making a decision, know God’s boundaries and your own. Also discern your own personal limits based upon your personality, talents, spiritual gifts and sometimes comfort level. Trust that God will bless those who follow his will even when it means stepping outside of your comfort zone.

Psalm 16:6 “The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance.”

1 Corinthians 10:31 “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”

Colossians 3:17 “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

 

DETAILS

When making a decision, gather all the facts so you can make an informed decision. Break down the decision into small identifiable pieces and compare them to the big picture; and remember your priorities!

Proverbs 3:13 “Blessed is the man who finds wisdom, the man who gains understanding.”

Proverbs 19:8 “He who gets wisdom loves his own soul’ he who cherishes understanding prospers.”

RESOURCES

Henry Blackaby, Experiencing God: Knowing and Doing the Will of God, bible study

Kevin DeYoung, Just Do Something: How to Make a Decision Without Dreams, Visions, Fleeces, Open Doors, Random Bible Verses, Casting Lots, Liver Shivers, Writing in the Sky, etc.

Charles Swindoll, The Mystery of God’s Will

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