I’d like to ask you a question and the question is this: How do you have big decisions?
I can still remember the fear of graduating from high-school and having NO IDEA what I wanted to do with my life. I could go to THIS college or THIS college, and it seems like everybody else has strong opinions about what you should be… Well, I knew that I loved the bible. So I decided to go to bible college. And then I remember graduating from bible college and feeling the fear of STILL having no idea what I wanted to do with my life.
I think all of us at one point in our lives or another find ourselves standing in front of a huge, life altering decision and just being paralyzed at the prospect of making the wrong decision and ruining your life forever.
After the resurrection and ascension of Jesus.
The apostles find themselves standing in front of a HUGE decision. They have a big practical problem.
Judas has betrayed Jesus, killed himself, so they have to figure out who is going to take his place.
Have an open slot in the band. If you think of the 12 apostles, this is a very exclusive, and important community.
This is the small group that is thinking “Ok, so how are we gonna go spread the message of Jesus to the entire world?” Without electricity.
How do you decide something this important?
Van Halen – David Lee Roth – Sammy Hagar – Auditions
Metallica documentary There was that Whole Metallica documentary where they were auditioning a new bass player.
You’d think this is a little more important than that. 13 guys that will change the world forever.
How did they decide? Obviously gonna be something deeply spiritual.
In those days Peter stood up among the believers (a group numbering about a hundred and twenty) (Acts 1:15)
and said, “Brothers and sisters, the Scripture had to be fulfilled in which the Holy Spirit spoke long ago through David concerning Judas, who served as guide for those who arrested Jesus. (Acts 1:16)
He was one of our number and shared in our ministry.” (Acts 1:17)
(With the payment he received for his wickedness, Judas bought a field; there he fell headlong, his body burst open and all his intestines spilled out. (Acts 1:18)
Everyone in Jerusalem heard about this, so they called that field in their language Akeldama, that is, Field of Blood.) (Acts 1:19)
“For,” said Peter, “it is written in the Book of Psalms: “ ‘May his place be deserted; let there be no one to dwell in it,’ and, “ ‘May another take his place of leadership.’ (Acts 1:20)
Therefore it is necessary to choose one of the men who have been with us the whole time the Lord Jesus was living among us, (Acts 1:21)
beginning from John’s baptism to the time when Jesus was taken up from us. For one of these must become a witness with us of his resurrection.” (Acts 1:22)
So they nominated two men: Joseph called Barsabbas (also known as Justus) and Matthias. (Acts 1:23)
Then they prayed, “Lord, you know everyone’s heart. Show us which of these two you have chosen (Acts 1:24)
to take over this apostolic ministry, which Judas left to go where he belongs.” (Acts 1:25)
Then they cast lots, and the lot fell to Matthias; so he was added to the eleven apostles. (Acts 1:26)
So they cast lots to decide. That’s amazing.
If you don’t know what casting lots is. It was basically a way to decide something at random.
We think it involved maybe sticks of varying lengths, or stones with markings on them, or dice, or something. But basically they rolled the dice.
They get together have a prayer meeting, pray “Lord lead us in the right direction”, flip a coin, and there’s your guy.
Can imagine if you were the other guy?
What a horrible story to have to tell forever.
“THIS CLOSE – Van Halen.” “Sure you did, Bob.” Don’t you think this is weird?!
Many preachers will say ‘Well, this is just before they got the holy spirit, after the holy spirit, they didn’t need to do this kinda thing. Or others – they didn’t have the New Testament, once you have that, then you’re able to discern the will of God.
Yeah that could be. I just know that for me, I’ve had the holy spirit and the New Testament, and I still feel like I’m rolling the dice on all kinds of things. There’s tons of stuff that is in my future that I have no idea about.
I’m hoping you can see your own life in this story.
Many of us, if not all of us, have choices to make in our lives that really matter.
Whether you go on that path or THAT path, is going to have a huge impact on the rest of your life.
- Where should I go to school?
- What job should I apply for?
- Who should I marry?
- Should I get married at all?
- Is it the right time for kids?
- Do we even want kids?
- I’m not saying that this just gives us permission to flip a coin.
- I believe that God CAN speak in a way that is just totally overpowering and absolutely clear. I believe God CAN and DOES do that.
- Go – particular brook.
- Walk around the city this many times.
- Take this job.
- Marry this person.
Let me say: I believe that it’s RARE.
For most people, there’s a handful of times at most that this happens. 100% sure. This IS the right thing.
Jordan and I are adopting.
Was it like we were just going along, and we heard this voice that was absolutely beyond a shadow of a doubt that it was the almighty God and he spoke in complete sentences “You shalt have a child shall get them California”.
Of course not.
And now that we’re in process, we’re at this place where we have to make decisions. Which agency to go with. A boy, a girl, what age. Domestic? International?
Here’s a situation, you interested here? How about THIS situation?
So many parts of that are not “completely certain”
But we believe that ever since we were young, God has been working in both of our hearts preparing us for this path.
But it IS a step of faith. And it was a process of us building up enough courage to actually do it.
Wedding season It’s wedding season, and I see all these amazing people making decisions that I think in so many ways they don’t even know how serious of a decision it really is. I can think of 1 decision in this life – following Jesus – that’s more important, but other than, yeah that’s the most important one.
High School Seniors I work with youth, so there’s seniors who are having to go and try to decide big parts of who they want to be.
My point is that people are constantly making huge decisions, and for Christians, we WANT to hear God speaking, but those times when you hear him clear as day, those are rare.
If you’re thinking :
And if you’re thinking ‘Not me. I hear God’s voice plain as day everywhere I go.’
You’re the one I’m worried about.
That kind of certainty will surely contribute to you making some bad decisions.
Two guys. I can think of two guys in particular. (Ryan Angell and Jeremy Smith) who when I talk to them and just so supremely positive of what God is always telling them to do, it’s unbelievable. So you can imagine my surprise when it seems like they’re making more dumb decisions than the rest of us.
For people like me who were raised in the pentecostal movement, when we say “I’m certain God told me” is really to say “I’m about 53% convinced.”
Times in our Lives
Wether or not you actually flip a coin, there’s time in our lives when we’re just like these apostles. There comes a certain point where you look at al the information you have, you have a conversation with community, you pray about it. Then you make a choice and go for it. You’re not SURE. You’re not 110%.
Church building programs.
I think about church building programs. Do you really think that every time a church starts a building program, they’ve definitely heard from God 100% of the time?
We’re in a building program here at the church. We’re talking with architects. But what I love about our pastors, is they don’t hop up and say “God SAID that if we tear down this wall, God will bring a harvest like we’ve never seen!”
No, they say this “We believe that God is leading us to do this, so we’re going for it.”
Too secular to call it ‘a strong hunch’?
It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to burden you with anything beyond the following requirements: (Acts 15:28)
You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality. You will do well to avoid these things. Farewell. (Acts 15:29)
Here’s why I think this is important: We all come to crossroads in our lives, there’s a left and a right. And you have to decide which way to go.
If you think that for good Godly people like us, inevitably God will speak to you in a way that’s totally clear and unmistakable. And if you don’t hear God like that, then something must be wrong with you, that’s a miserable way to live.
Making choices – paralyzing.
What if I’m wrong.
Making choices becomes so paralyzing. Again SOMETIMES that does happen. God makes things so clear that there’s ZERO doubt.
Predestination, and what God controls and do we have free will, and does Satan have a part to play, how about demons, etc.
Really, the big question is this: How much of this is scripted? I know that’s a really big question.
If you want my take, which I know not all of you will agree with. I think there’s a part in all of this that God plays, a part that we play, and part that a broken world and forces of evil play. I believe that’s all at work to create the world that we see around us.
But I DON’T believe there is some ultra specific script for all our lives that show who we’re supposed to marry, how many kids you’re supposed to have, what job you’re supposed to take, and if you screw it up, then not even God can help you.
Jesus take the wheel.
Kerry Underwood – Jesus take the wheel. Beautiful idea.
But in a lot of ways, I feel like Jesus is telling you ‘Hey man, take the wheel’. He’s given us the keys, and he’s trying to teach us how to drive.
And how even the “wrong” turns that we make in our lives turn out being incredibly important. People end up making the “wrong” decision, and so often it’s that exact situation that God uses to save their life.
He’s the great artist that turns ugly things into beautiful things.
There ARE people who just think that everything is scripted, and we’re in a way puppets in a play. Everything that happens happens for a reason.
The result: The feeling that you have to always make the perfect decisions or you’re gonna mess this whole thing up, that’s too much weight to carry around your whole life.
- We want to choose wisely.
- We want to be lead by the spirit.
But remember: You might go to the “WRONG” school or take the “WRONG” job, and that’s exactly what God uses to get you to exactly where you need to be.
Not b/c he makes you take the wrong job, or even that he wanted you to. It’s simply b/c he makes beautiful things out of our lives.
I guess in this simple message I’m hoping that it would be an encouragement – Not every decision has to feel so heavy.
Always in fear of wrecking the car.
Too much pressure
I want you to know that God is able to move even when we do the wrong thing. BTW that’s the story of the bible. – “Despite our unfaithfulness, God is faithful to us.”
One thing that can be so paralyzing in the Christian faith is we have the tendency to feel like if we’re not using our faith in the right way, somehow that stops God’s ability to move. Which is ridiculous.
Jesus healed lots of people because of their faith :
- Woman w/ issue – blood
- Blind Bartemaeus
- Jairus’s daughter – dads faith
Jesus healed lots of people that had no faith
- The demon possessed man Luke 8
- Putting the ear back on the guard.
Of the 35 healing miracles recorded in the gospels, only 10 had something to do with the faith of the recipient.
I’d like to do a thought experiment – Imagine yourself facing a big decision – marry, kids, career, etc.
And you’re kinda thinking “Which door is God behind?” Imagine the pressure.
Especially if God is kinda ‘moving things around’. – Never know.
Again, I think there’s better ways to do things, so I’m not saying all the doors are equally good.
God is behind all the doors. In front of all the doors, no matter the situations we find ourselves in, he’s always there taking care of us.
Jesus tells 3 parables in Luke 15 – Parable of the Lost Coin, the Lost Sheep and the Lost Son.
Lost : Sheep / Coin / Son
(God pursues – Even – far away.) : Even when we’re not pursuing him. Even when we’re running from him.
He’s still: The Shepard who will leave the 99. He’s the woman who will tear her house apart frantically looking for you. He’s the father who day after day will look out onto the horizon eagerly waiting for you to return.
David Psalm 139′
Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? (Psalm 139:7)
If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. (Psalm 139:8)
If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, (Psalm 139:9)
even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. (Psalm 139:10)
So it’s not a question is God will be present, he will always be.
And he’ll always be doing something beautiful and redemptive.
That’s not to say that you can’t do dumb stuff that you’ll regret.
Not to say that there’s not consequences, you jump off a building, you’ll almost always go splat.
But there is no path where on the other side there is no God, or there is no redemptive work happening.
You’re never gonna break down your life so bad where God can’t come in and do something beautiful and surprising and redemptive.
Because of Jesus, there’s no such thing as a dead end.
I’m hoping that this message would be an encouragement, and by that I mean something that would fill you with COURAGE.
Life is risky
We can never put so enough locks on our doors to insulate ourselves from the fact that sometimes we just have to get out of the boat, take a risk, and believe that God is with us every step of the way.
My hope is that we wouldn’t be so paralyzed by fear that we don’t TRY stuff.
Nobody’s inner voice is an encourager. – You’re just gonna have to decide that you trust God and you start pedaling the bike.
At least for me, I’m trusting that as a walk out my life, I believe he’s guiding me, and when I make wrong choices, that he’ll reveal that to me and show me the way forward.
I think that’s so much more healthy than sitting and waiting for lightning to strike. It would be better to start walking and doing things, and let him guide you.
Turning the wheel of a car does nothing when the cars not moving. Sometimes we have to put ourselves in motion and then God is able to come steer us a little. I just want to give someone permission to move.
Permission to move. – Pedal-bike, row-boat.
Pray, ask direction – Go for it.
Pray, ask God for his direction and have the courage to go for it. And always know that wherever you end up, that God will be there, and if you need a course correction, God will show it to you and help you make it.
Resolution: Less afraid – last year. – Go for it.