Steve lived in a large house in a pleasant suburb. It was a great place to raise his family of five, but his children have long since married and moved on. 15 years ago, Steve’s business failed, and although it would have made financial and practical sense for Steve and his wife to downsize, they loved their home and always put off the tough decision. Continue reading “How Are You In The Decision Making Process?”
“Jesus said, ‘No procrastination. No backward looks. You can’t put God’s kingdom off till tomorrow. Seize the day.’” (Luke 9:62 MSG)
In Mark 10, a huge crowd was following Jesus as he left Jericho. A blind beggar named Bartimaeus was sitting beside the road as Jesus was going by. When Bartimaeus heard that Jesus was nearby, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”
When Bartimaeus got up that morning, he had no idea that Jesus Christ was going to be passing by him that day. He thought it was just another ordinary day: same place, same cry for help, same miserable, lonely, pitiful lifestyle. He had no time to prepare for Jesus; it was just an opportunity that was dropped in his lap. He had to seize the moment!
He said, “I’m not going to miss this one. I’m going to take advantage of this opportunity! Jesus is coming by my place right now. I’m not going to delay. I’m not going to procrastinate. I’m going to do this now.”
That’s the first key to a fresh start in your life: Whatever you’re going to do, do it now. Don’t say, “Next year I’m going to make a fresh start. Next month I’m going to make a fresh start. Tomorrow I’m going to make a fresh start.” It’s now or never. Seize the moment!
Every day, there are opportunities all around you for a fresh start, but you don’t take
advantage of them. Why? One word: procrastination.
Procrastination is a strange phenomenon. We think it will make our lives easier; we think it will make our lives more present when actually it just creates more stress. The truth is, you already know the right things to do and the benefits of doing the right things in life. So why don’t you do them?
The Bible warns us over and over about presuming upon tomorrow. I’m not guaranteed a tomorrow, and neither are you. Jesus said, “No procrastination. No backward looks. You can’t put God’s kingdom off till tomorrow. Seize the day” (Luke 9:62 MSG).
You have no guarantee that you will live tomorrow. Whatever you’re going to do, you better do it now.
As the children of Israel were preparing to cross the Jordan River, Joshua sent the ark of the covenant ahead. He instructed the people: “When you see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, and the Levitical priests carrying it, you are to move out from your positions and follow it. Then you will know which way to go, since you have never been this way before.”
“Never been this way before” — I often feel that way! I run into a situation or a dilemma that’s all new to me, and I have no idea how to tackle it. Should I go or stay? Should I take this offer or turn it down?
Some decisions are easy to make. Sometimes the path ahead seems pretty straightforward, even if you’ve never taken it before. Other times, it can feel like there are potential dangers and pitfalls all around. Looking ahead can be exciting, but it can also be a little frightening because of the many unknowns.
The children of Israel didn’t know how things were going to play out for them either. They knew there was a promised land ahead, but there was also the River Jordan blocking their way.
The Israelites hadn’t traveled that way before. That’s why they had to follow the ark, which represented God’s presence and His promises. By following the ark—by following God—they could walk confidently, knowing that they were headed in the right direction.
Sometimes, the way God leads doesn’t seem to make sense. Sometimes it can look downright crazy, like when He instructed Joshua to tell the priests who carried the ark of the covenant to “take a few steps into the river and stop there.”
I imagine some of the people were more than a little anxious as they approached the flooded riverbanks. But we’re told that “as soon as the priests who carried the ark reached the Jordan and their feet touched the water’s edge, the water from upstream stopped flowing. It piled up in a heap a great distance away.” The priests stood in the middle of the dry riverbed while all the Israelites walked safely across.
I think this story offers a pretty awesome formula for making decisions. When you’re facing tough choices, when you “haven’t been this way before” and you’re dealing with brand-new challenges or seeming impossibilities, keep your eyes on Jesus. Only God knows what’s ahead, so it’s a good idea to follow His lead.
God cares about your problems and concerns and dilemmas just as much as He cared about His people stuck at the banks of the Jordan River. The Bible promises, “The Lord is kind, and as soon as he hears your cries for help, he will come … and he will guide you. Whether you turn to the right or to the left, you will hear a voice saying, ‘This is the road! Now follow it.’”
God’s Word contains solid promises that you can stand on and claim in prayer whenever you’re desperate for His answers and direction in your life. Then as you keep your eyes on Jesus and follow His lead, you’ll be able to march confidently into the future God has in store for you.
Joshua 3:8 (NIV) Tell the priests who carry the ark of the covenant: ‘When you reach the edge of the Jordan’s waters, go and stand in the river.’”
Joshua 3:15-16 (NIV) Now the Jordan is at flood stage all during harvest. Yet as soon as the priests who carried the ark reached the Jordan and their feet touched the water’s edge, the water from upstream stopped flowing. It piled up in a heap a great distance away, at a town called Adam in the vicinity of Zarethan, while the water flowing down to the Sea of the Arabah (that is, the Dead Sea) was completely cut off. So the people crossed over opposite Jericho.
Isaiah 30:19-21 (NIV) People of Zion, who live in Jerusalem, you will weep no more. How gracious he will be when you cry for help! As soon as he hears, he will answer you. Although the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, your teachers will be hidden no more; with your own eyes you will see them. Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”
There are times in our Christian life when other believers are struggling with a decision, or struggling to discern God’s will for their life, and they seek you out for advice. What do you say? Below are some pointers in coming along side someone to assist in their decision making.
1. Do not tell the person what he or she should do, even if it seems obvious to you. The person is seeking God’s will, not yours.
2. Encourage the person to wait on God’s answer. He will reveal His will to those who earnestly seek Him. And remember that God is much more patient than we are.
3. Do not allow superstitions to enter into the decision-making process (such as blindly pointing to a passage in the Bible or following some dream or coincidence). God uses His Word, not luck or superstition.
4. God is most interested in a relationship in which we lean on Him daily for our strength and guidance. He will not show a person his or her entire life’s journey. He wants us to rely on Him throughout our lives.
5. Be careful not to put too much credence in a person’s feelings. Emotions can be misleading and may cause a person to sin. Often people will quote Psalm 37: 4 and say that God wants to give them the desires of their heart. This is true only after the first half of that verse is fulfilled, which is that they should be delighting themselves in the Lord.
Faith and action go hand in hand. It is not necessary to make a final decision hurriedly, yet we must also not become complacent and do nothing. We must engage in activities, like searching the Scriptures and prayerfully seeking counsel from mature believers.
When we have God’s peace concerning a previous action, we can receive it as God’s confirmation. This peace is a knowing, a revelation, a confirmation that God is with us and we are walking in His will. If the peace isn’t present, then we had better go back to the Lord and continue to seek His will.
1. God Will Show His Will – (Remind the person of James 1: 5– 6. Assure the person that God wants to reveal His will to him or her even more than the person wants to know it.) God will speak through His Word, His people, and through prayer. Search the Scriptures, be patient, and pray through the decision at hand.
2. Be Patient – At times it may be necessary to make the decision not to make a decision. In other words allow yourself the luxury of purposely not deciding until a later time. Often God’s will becomes evident after a period of time, and we have to backtrack because we rushed into a decision. During the waiting period, keep seeking God’s will.
3. Be Proactive – Think about the major decisions that you have made in the past. List the results of those decisions. Mark the decisions that you believe God directed. The Christian life is not merely a matter of getting from here to there, from point A to point B. Instead, God’s will for us in this life is more about the journey itself.
4. List Options – List as many options as you can think of regarding the current issue.
5. What’s Obvious? – Are any of these options automatically outside the will of God? For example, are any illegal or immoral?
6. Keep Praying – Commit yourself to praying over your options for a specified length of time.
7. Get Wise Counsel – Ask advice from a trusted Christian friend or family member regarding this decision.
8. Make the Decision – After the specified amount of time has passed, make a decision and accept that decision as God’s will.