February 26, 2006

Five Steps Toward Making Godly Decisions

These came to me during our worship service today, and I believe they were inspired by the Holy Spirit. There needs to be a process to deciding how we are going to walk with Jesus. He's not going to send you an e-mail or write a blog. We have to expend some effort to learn his will for our lives. Here is my approach.

1) Listen. As I've written before, this is becoming a lost art in American society. People are often too busy talking to hear what anyone has to say, especially if they believe the other person might disagree with them. We generally don't learn very much with our mouths open and our lips flapping, however. We learn when we listen to what information people are disceminating, be it one-on-one, through the media, or via the written word.

2) Ask. Once you have received information, you need to question it. This is something painfully lacking in many of our churches. If the preacher says it, many of the people sitting in the pews accept it as fact. I've learned, however, that the people talking the loudest are often the ones who either have not done their homework and are not well versed on their subject or, even worse, they are intentionally misrepresenting information and counting on people not questioning their facts. Ask the questions. This needs to be done respectfully without challenging anyone's position of authority. We all should be on the same journey seeking truth.

3) Research. If someone gives you an interpretation of scripture, go back and read it yourself. It's even better if you review more than one translation, and review the context of the scripture. If somebody tells you that there is absolutely only one way to interpret a particular section of the bible, there is an excellent chance they are wrong. The bible is not an easy book to understand. Otherwise very intelligent people studying it through the filter of their own prejudices can still get it very, very wrong. When we stand up on judgement day, WE are responsible for the choices we made. If we accepted someone else's word at face value and they were wrong, then we're wrong and WE have to suffer the consequences along with them.

4) Pray and discern. Now it gets tough. It's hard to get into the habit of praying, and even harder to discern answers. One thing you can know, however, is that Jesus is listening. Our words in prayer will NEVER fall on deaf ears or be ignored. When we ask for wisdom or courage in deciding how to follow God, he will provide it to us. We may have to look very hard for the answers, however, and the more we pray and get into His word (the bible), the more accurately we will be able to discern his will.

5) Decide! Okay, now you've heard teachings and opinions, you've questioned them, done your homework, and prayed about them. The Lord is showing you what path to take. The hardest part is often stepping out in faith and following that path. Sometimes God will want us to give up things, other times he'll lead us to do things we don't think we want to do. Count on this, though--something I've learned the hard way--His will is a lot better for us than our own. If left to our own devices, we will ultimately self-destruct because that's how Satan can keep us away from having a nourishing relationship with Jesus. It's up to us as individuals to follow the path that God lays out for us.

We only have everything to gain by doing so.

3 comments:

  1. Jim,

    I don't believe in God, but your items in a series nicely describe what I see as being a responible citizen.

    Peace,

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  2. I like the process, and suggest that it be circular. Once you have done this, made your decison and acted, then listen again to youre experience, the new information that is coming your way, the feedback to be weighed and so on. And on and on you go, moving by the grace of God into the kingdom of faith, hope and love.

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  3. Please expand immensely on....

    "The Lord is showing you what path to take."

    Are you sure?
    How can you tell?
    What if you're still pulled different ways?


    Why is this step always simplified, while the obvious is thoroughly examined...

    ReplyDelete