Thursday, October 22, 2015

Start at the Source

             On an average day, we make 35,000 decisions.  The way we make those decisions determines the course of our lives.  We’re in a series called Decision-Making 101.  Last week, we talked about how God is trying to make us into people of wisdom, which is the learned ability to choose the right path.  We talked about how, if we keep the main thing--seeking God’s Kingdom and His righteousness--first in our lives, He will provide us with what we need, including the answers we need.  Here’s what I want you to remember most from this series: As we walk with God and become the people He created us to be, we learn to make good decisions.  But sometimes, God speaks to us unexpectedly, steering our lives in a brand-new direction that we wouldn’t have chosen for ourselves.  My decision to enter the ministry was one of those moments.  So how does God speak?  And how can we be sure we’ll hear and understand Him?  That’s what we’ll be discussing for the rest of this series. 
            How does God speak?  Think about stories you remember from the Bible about God speaking to people.  How did He speak to them?  In a variety of ways; Sometimes it was through an audible voice, or an angelic visit, or a dream or vision.  Does God still speak in all these ways?  He certainly can.  I have heard stories of people hearing from God in these ways, and some of them sound credible, although I’ve not experienced them myself.  Let me give you a warning, however.  In Scripture, whenever God spoke to a person through a dream or vision, it was obvious to that person that it was God speaking, and it was obvious what He was telling that person to do.  No interpretation or guesswork was necessary.  Recently, I had a dream that I was sliding down a freeway on one of those mats you ride at a waterpark. Instead of trying to interpret that dream as a sign from God, I laughed it off…as should you.
            There were other ways God spoke to people in the Bible.  Sometimes it was through the words of Scripture itself, or through prayer, circumstances of life, or through the counsel of His people, the Church.  God seems to speak most consistently these days through those four means.That’s what we’ll talk about for the next four weeks.  This Sunday, we’ll talk about how to hear God’s voice through His Word, the Bible...and how NOT to make decisions using Scripture.  

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Decision-Making 101

                Many people reading this are in the midst of making a big decision. Should I marry this person?  Should I ask this person to marry me?  Should I stay in this dating relationship, when people who love me tell me it’s no good?  Where should I go to college? What should I major in?  Should I change careers if it means short-term sacrifices for my family, with no guarantee of success?  Should I stay in a job I don’t enjoy, but that pays the bills?  Should I send my child to the school in our neighborhood, or to a higher-ranked school that is further away?  Should I move so that my child will be zoned to a better school?  Should I pull my child out of the public schools altogether?  Should I let my adult child move back in with me, when that didn’t work out so well last time? Should I move back in with my parents, when I’m not sure we’ll get along any better than we did when I was growing up?  Should I retire now or work a few more years?  Should I try to convince my elderly parent to move into an assisted living facility, or move them in with me?  If you’re not facing a decision like that now, you will be soon.  Life is made up of decisions.  The average person makes around 35,000 decisions every day, starting when the alarm clock goes off, and you decide whether to get out of bed or hit snooze.  The pessimists among us say, “That’s a lot of opportunities to mess things up!”  So how can we know what to do?

            Good news: Help is on the way.  This Sunday, most of our adult Bible Study classes will begin a new book called Seven Realities for Experiencing God, by Henry and Richard Blackaby, two men who have taught me invaluable lessons about discerning the will of God.  Our Bible Study classes meet at 9:45 on Sundays; if you would like to be involved, let me know ( or 713-723-6428).  Also, I am beginning a new sermon series this Sunday called Decision-Making 101.  Here's a little of what we'll be discussing:

            Making decisions well is a skill that the Bible calls wisdom.  Wisdom is different than academic intelligence; the wise person may not score any higher than you or me on his SATs, but he knows how to choose the right path.  Again, wisdom is a skill.  That means it can be learned, just like the ability to ride a bike.  How do we learn it?  The Bible says Solomon was the wisest man who ever lived.  He compiled the book of Proverbs to be a guide in teaching us wisdom, the art of good decision-making.  Here’s what he had to say about where wisdom comes from: The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and discipline. (Pr. 1:7).  For the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding.  (Pr. 2:6)  Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding; think about Him in all your ways, and He will guide you on the right paths.  (Pr. 3:5-6)  So wisdom comes from God, and from God alone.  But why doesn’t God just give us the answers Himself?  If He knows all things, why not just send us a clear message on each of our 35,000 decisions?  Because He wants to shape us into wise men and women, the kind of people who know how to choose the right path.  

           In this series, we'll talk about ways God speaks to us, guides us and makes us wise.  But we'll start this Sunday by looking at the main factor we need to consider any time we have a decision to make.  I hope you'll DECIDE to be there!