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Choices And Decisions

Life is a series of decisions. Every day we must make decisions. Some are made easily while others are made with great consternation and anguish. Some turn out correctly, others turn out to have been made incorrectly.

How well do we make choices and decisions? Today we will discuss the principles of choices and decisions.

Do we make decisions via a coin toss or by drawing lots as was done in Nehemiah's and Joshua's time?

(Neh 10:34 NKJV) We cast lots among the priests, the Levites, and the people, for bringing the wood offering into the house of our God, according to our fathers' houses, at the appointed times year by year, to burn on the altar of the LORD our God as it is written in the Law.
(Josh 14:1-2 NKJV) These are the areas which the children of Israel inherited. . . . . . . {2} Their inheritance was by lot, as the LORD had commanded by the hand of Moses, for the nine tribes and the half-tribe.

Solomon felt that the drawing of lots eliminated hard feelings. But not every decision can be made by a coin toss.

(Prov 18:18 NKJV) Casting lots causes contentions to cease, And keeps the mighty apart.

The Bible gives us many guidelines about decision making. Decision making involves making choices. Let's turn to Deu 30 and see what it says about an important choice: Choosing between life and death, blessing and cursing.

Deu 30:19-20 (NKJV) "I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, <that> I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; {20} "that you may love the LORD your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He <is> your life and the length of your days; and that you may dwell in the land which the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them."

We would all choose life rather than death; blessings rather than cursings. But human nature tends to take us the wrong way. Our carnal nature and Satan plants thoughts in our minds to encourage us to make the wrong choice.

Jer 10:23-24 (NKJV) O LORD, I know the way of man <is> not in himself; <It is> not in man who walks to direct his own steps. {24} O LORD, correct me, but with justice; Not in Your anger, lest You bring me to nothing.

It is not within ourselves to make the right decisions. In verse 24, Jeremiah asks God for gentle correction so that he might learn the right way. Do we do this?

Prov 3:5-6 (Tanakh) Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And do not rely on your own understanding; {6} In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths smooth. [The NKJV says, "He will direct your paths."]

Solomon, who most believe wrote most of the book of Proverbs, knew about the need to include God in our decisions by admonishing us to trust God, not ourselves, to make the right decision.

Prov 14:12 (NKJV) There is a way <that seems> right to a man, But its end <is> the way of death.
Rom 11:8 (NKJV) Just as it is written: "God has given them a spirit of stupor, Eyes that they should not see And ears that they should not hear, To this very day."

What seems right to a person may be very wrong. God may actually be party to our incorrect choice if we are willfully rebellious toward Him.

Prov 16:25 (NKJV) There is a way <that seems> right to a man, But its end <is> the way of death.

This is obviously dual with Prov 14:12, which we just read. Duality indicates that God wants us to heed it, make it a part of ourselves. God wants us to use His principles to guide our lives.

How do we use God's principles to make right decisions? Let's look at seven ways.

1. We should take our problems to God first.

1 Sam 2:3 (NKJV) "Talk no more so very proudly; Let no arrogance come from your mouth, For the LORD <is> the God of knowledge; And by Him actions are weighed.

Take our problems to God and let Him influence, even make our decisions.

Psa 111:10 (NKJV) The fear of the LORD <is> the beginning of wisdom; A good understanding have all those who do <His commandments>. His praise endures forever.

If you want to have a good understanding of your problem and make sound decisions, bring God into your problem. How do you get God to come into your problem and help you make a sound decision? - By being obedient to God and asking Him. He will help you have a good understanding.

John 9:31 (NKJV) "Now we know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does His will, He hears him.

How many times have I seen Church people habitually make bad decisions and at the same time habitually disobey God's commandments?

Prov 1:7 (NKJV) The fear of the LORD <is> the beginning of knowledge, <But> fools despise wisdom and instruction.

If you don't think fools despise wisdom and instruction, consider their reaction when you say or do something in obedience to God which is not a common thing to do - like going to the Feast of Tabernacles or not working on the Sabbath or stating that God directs the fate of nations or not eating pork or you invite them to a Bible Study.

2 Chr 1:8-10 (NKJV) And Solomon said to God: "You have shown great mercy to David my father, and have made me king in his place. {9} "Now, O LORD God, let Your promise to David my father be established, for You have made me king over a people like the dust of the earth in multitude. {10} "Now give me wisdom and knowledge, that I may go out and come in before this people; for who can judge this great people of Yours?"

Solomon looked to God for knowledge and wisdom. We must not put our goals too high. We must take even our small problems to God first. Ask Him to help us see His will.

2. Search God's word for truth and examples.

1 Cor 10:11 (NKJV) Now all these things [over-thrown in the wilderness, lusting for evil things, idolatry, fornication] happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.

We should study God's word for examples of the consequences of sin and God's comments before committing ourselves to a particular position or course of action.

Mat 4:4 (NKJV) But He answered and said, "It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.' "

Christ depended on every word of God. He did not succumb to Satan's deception because He could see through it via God's word and His own experience of being with God the Father for all eternity. We should learn to eat as much or more spiritual food as physical food.

Acts 17:11 (NKJV) These [the Bereans] were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily <to find out> whether these things were so.

This famous scripture shows us we should be willing to consider what religious teachers say but not automatically accept their every word of doctrine. There are many doctrines out there. Which are correct? It's up to us to find out. God will hold us responsible for doing that. We must prove new doctrine to see if it is true.

2 Tim 3:13-17 (NKJV) But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. {14} But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned <them>, {15} and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. {16} All Scripture <is> given by inspiration of God, and <is> profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, {17} that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Now, particularly in the end time, we see more and more preachers telling us a little bit of scripture, then filling in the rest of their argument with their own theories and conclusions. We must be extremely careful of these messages. They build on God's word, then corrupt it and you the listener. Prove every point of what is preached to you. If it can't be proved, reject it. Don't be sucked in to the confused religious world which is all around us or you will be as confused and deceived as those to whom you listen. If you want to prove the validity of something, go back to the trunk of the tree, the basics, and work out from there. Research scripture for the answer.

Hosea 4:6 (NKJV) My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being priest for Me; Because you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children.

This verse is talking about God's and me. How much true knowledge do you really have? How much have you proven? How much do you study? How many sermons do you review and prove? Will any of us be among those who are destroyed for lack of knowledge? How many of us forget the law of God when deciding to do something we yearn to do or whatever? How many of us say "well, this activity will take me into the Sabbath and it really isn't a Sabbath activity, but I'll do it anyway?" How many of us bend the truth? How many of us deceive others with half truths and white lies and are thereby deceived ourselves?

3. Get the Facts

Prov 14:29 (NKJV) <He who is> slow to wrath has great understanding, But <he who is> impulsive exalts folly.

Are we impulsive or do we think things out before deciding? With today's easy credit buying it's easy to act impulsively. With today's emphasis on pleasure, it's easy to rationalize "God wants me to enjoy myself." But the regrets come later. With today's lack of respect for honesty, its easy to be deceived. How do we react when someone cuts us off in traffic? Many Christians see their real character when driving on the highways.

Prov 14:15 (NKJV) The simple believes every word, But the prudent considers well his steps.

Don't be gullible or act on impulse. Never be hurried into a decision. If possible, wait 24 hours before making a decision. Be sure you see the whole story. The ad says in large print, "Return your winning number with your order (for something you probably wouldn't buy anyway) and win a million dollars". How prudent are you?

What are the alternatives?

4. Seek wise and abundant counsel.

Prov 20:18 (NKJV) Plans are established by counsel; By wise counsel wage war.
Prov 11:14 (NKJV) Where <there is> no counsel, the people fall; But in the multitude of counselors <there is> safety.

If you aren't sure about something or think you may not know the whole story, seek other's opinions. But be sure the other person knows something about the subject. Ask several people to get as much information as you can before making a decision.

verse 15 (NKJV) He who is surety for a stranger will suffer, But one who hates being surety is secure.

How many of you have been asked to co-sign for someone else? This is an extremely dangerous practice. I would not recommend it 99% of the time. There can be exceptions, however. e.g. If your child is going off to college and, in your mind, needs a car or motor bike for transportation, you might consider co-signing his loan. But even then, you must be in a financial position to be able to afford the loss should he default. In practically every case, you should avoid co-signing, no matter how great the need of the other person. If you feel you really must help out, give them the money and hope you get it back.

Prov 15:22 (NKJV) Without counsel, plans go awry, But in the multitude of counselors they are established.

This verse is a little like Proverbs 11:14, which we just read. But this verse is different in that it is addressing plans, not decisions in general. Before you decide to build a house or go on an extensive trip or embark on some new venture, discuss your plans with someone who knows about the problems you may encounter. If you don't, you can expect problems...some of them so major as to threaten the whole operation. Again, don't be limited to a single counselor. It's always tempting to talk to one expert and proceed on their advice. There are many so-called experts out there who like to voice an opinion but don't know much more than you do about a matter.

Prov 13:20 (NKJV) He who walks with wise <men> will be wise, But the companion of fools will be destroyed.

Who do you associate with? Do you like their life-style? Do you desire to live their same life-style? How wise do they seem? Is their life filled with good decisions or foolish ones? How well accepted are they? If you want to be wise, associate with the wise, not the foolish. Both wisdom and foolishness are contagious.

Eph 4:11-16 (NKJV) And He Himself gave some <to be> apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, {12} for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, [to teach people enough that they can teach others] {13} till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; [Are any of us even close to that?] {14} that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, {15} but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head; Christ; {16} from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.

Does that describe some of us, some of us who have been exposed to scriptural truth for a very long time?

In verse 11 we read that Christ gave us teachers for the equipping of the saints. How well are we using the teachers He has given us? Some people show little hesitation to ask questions but some seemingly hate to do that. Church leaders are here to help you, not so much with secular decisions such as what car to buy, but with spiritual decisions. Use the help that is available. And if you don't feel comfortable with the advise you receive, ask another leader. We're here to help, not to force feed you.

Heb 13:17 (NKJV) Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.

If you are given advice by a trusted leader, follow that advice to the best of your ability. If you don't like it, ask another, but be sure you mention your previous advice. It is always more pleasant to advise someone before they make a decision than after they've made a bad one.

5. Make the decision

Some decisions can be made immediately. That was the case with Simon called Peter and Andrew his brother; also James the son of Zebedee and his brother John.

(Mat 4:18-22 NKJV) And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. {19} Then He said to them, "Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men." {20} They immediately left their nets and followed Him. {21} Going on from there, He saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets. He called them, {22} and immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed Him.

But, whether the decision is made immediately or not, we must ask in faith.

James 1:5-8 (NKJV) If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. {6} But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. {7} For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; {8} <he is> a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

When Christ was determining who His disciples were to be, He prayed about it all night.

(Luke 6:12-13 NKJV) Now it came to pass in those days that He went out to the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God. {13} And when it was day, He called His disciples to Himself; and from them He chose twelve whom He also named apostles:

When we have gone to God and to human counselors, and have made a definite decision, make that decision in faith, with no doubting.

James 1:22-25 (NKJV) But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. {23} For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; {24} for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. {25} But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues <in it>, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.
Rom 2:13 (NKJV) (for not the hearers of the law <are> just in the sight of God, but the doers of the law will be justified;

6. Have faith and confidence in your decision.

Heb 11:1 (NKJV) Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

Don't worry and fret over your decision. You have prayed, considered, counselled, and researched to make the best decision. Now feel assured you have made the right choice.

(Dan 3:16-17 NKJV) Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego answered and said to the king, "O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. {17} "If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king.
Mark 9:23 (NKJV) Jesus said to him, "If you can believe, all things <are> possible to him who believes." [This is a mark of faith.]
(2 Cor 3:4 NKJV) And we have such trust through Christ toward God.

We must believe in our sound decisions. When a doctor advises a better way to good health, do we believe him? God is our great Physician. Do you believe Him?

7. Work to achieve our decisions.

Before most decisions can be fulfilled, some effort must go into the endeavor.

Eccl 9:10 (NKJV) Whatever your hand finds to do, do <it> with your might; for <there is> no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you are going.

We must work to assure success. Rare indeed is the person who can achieve anything without working for it.

Prov 14:23 (NKJV) In all labor there is profit, But idle chatter <leads> only to poverty.

Some people do a lot of talking but never do much of anything else. If you have gone to all the effort to make the right decision, put forth maximum effort to assure the decision will work out. But work honestly.

Prov 13:11 (NKJV) Wealth <gained by> dishonesty will be diminished, But he who gathers by labor will increase.

We will prosper if we work at it honestly. We must make things happen.

Prov 20:13 (NKJV) Do not love sleep, lest you come to poverty; Open your eyes, <and> you will be satisfied with bread.

Don't waste your time sleeping. Extra sleep will not gain you anything. The extra earnings for applying your time beneficially will earn you more money and hence more food and the things you need.

Prov 26:13 (NKJV) The lazy <man> says, <"There is> a lion in the road! A fierce lion <is> in the streets!"

The lazy can find a dozen reasons for not doing something. We need to jump in and get the job done now.

verse 14 <As> a door turns on its hinges, So <does> the lazy <man> on his bed.

Both the lazy and the door turn but do not change their place. A door turning of its hinges is just so much wasted effort. So is extra bed time for the lazy.

verse 16 The lazy <man is> wiser in his own eyes Than seven men who can answer sensibly.

The lazy are thoroughly convinced that their life style is appropriate, even when sensible argument is presented to them by others. It is futile to reason with them.

Deu 28:1-6 (NKJV) "Now it shall come to pass, if you diligently obey the voice of the LORD your God, to observe carefully all His commandments which I command you today, that the LORD your God will set you high above all nations of the earth. {2} "And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, because you obey the voice of the LORD your God: {3} "Blessed <shall> you <be> in the city, and blessed <shall> you <be> in the country. {4} "Blessed <shall be> the fruit of your body, the produce of your ground and the increase of your herds, the increase of your cattle and the offspring of your flocks. {5} "Blessed <shall be> your basket and your kneading bowl. {6} "Blessed <shall> you <be> when you come in, and blessed <shall> you <be> when you go out.

These are the blessings of obedience. Let's strive for them.

Eccl 2:24 (NKJV) Nothing <is> better for a man <than> that he should eat and drink, and <that> his soul should enjoy good in his labor. This also, I saw, was from the hand of God.
Eccl 3:13 (NKJV) and also that every man should eat and drink and enjoy the good of all his labor; it <is> the gift of God.
Eccl 5:18-19 (NKJV) Here is what I have seen: <It is> good and fitting <for one> to eat and drink, and to enjoy the good of all his labor in which he toils under the sun all the days of his life which God gives him; for it <is> his heritage. {19} As for every man to whom God has given riches and wealth, and given him power to eat of it, to receive his heritage and rejoice in his labor; this <is> the gift of God.
Eccl 8:15 (NKJV) So I commended enjoyment, because a man has nothing better under the sun than to eat, drink, and be merry; for this will remain with him in his labor <all> the days of his life which God gives him under the sun.

In conclusion, let me again give you the seven major ways to make the right decisions:

  1. Take your problems to God first.
  2. Search God's word for truths and examples.
  3. Get the facts.
  4. Seek wise and abundant council.
  5. Make the decision.
  6. Have faith in your decision.
  7. Work to achieve your decision.

Sermon given by Wayne Bedwell
4 May 2013
Copyright 2013, Wayne Bedwell

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