Category Archives: Wisdom and the Church

Advice to Our Church During the Political Election Year

I’m writing this piece to you, dear people of God, to offer some guidance regarding how we should conduct ourselves during the course of this heated political election season. I (and perhaps you too?) am concerned that we deviate from our main objective and focus as a church, which is Jesus Christ.

We ought to be a church that has as our main concerns the clear perspectives of Christ’s kingdom and teaching.  Social, political, personal and other such important concerns are secondary to loving, honoring and glorifying God through Jesus Christ.  I say clear, because we can often find not-so-clear support in the Bible for our own political or social views which so easily distract or cause us to deviate from our purpose as Christ’s local body.

So, permit me to lend some guidance for how we can treat these political and social issues, but more importantly, treat others during this intense season.

First, each one of us should be convinced in his own mind about his position.  This is the general or broad principle of Ecclesiastes 7:25 and Romans 14:5.   Each one’s political view is best informed by the Word of God (Psa. 119:169; Rom. 14:5), and not merely informed by one’s cultural, familial or other influences.  At the same time, this is not a call for anyone to be sloppy about his or her political perspective. Again, using a broad application of certain scriptures, one should not be double-minded (Jas. 1:5-8), but should say what he means and mean what he says (Matt. 5:37; Jas. 5:12).

Secondly, each of us should recognize that everyone has an opinion, but that not all opinions are equal, nor are they all always valid (including our own).

An opinion is “The judgment which the mind forms of any proposition, statement, theory or event, the truth or falsehood of which is supported by a degree of evidence that renders it probable, but does not produce absolute knowledge or certainty” (Webster’s 1828 Dictionary of the English Language).

It would be prudent if each person has a well-informed opinion to share, not merely one that is based upon little knowledge (Prov. 28:26), feeling or intuition (Prov. 25:2).  Well-informed opinions bring a higher value to good discussions. Ill-informed opinions serve no one.
Further, we should respect one another through the love of Christ, even if we do not agree with or respect the other person’s opinion(s). Please note that in our congregation we do have a diverse group of people.That’s a very biblically healthy thing.  Opinions about social and political matters range from one side to the other, with much in the middle. We are to be reminded that Jesus’ own disciples held to quite divergent, indeed hostile, political and social positions. Consider Simon the zealot living and working side by side with his enemy Matthew the tax collector.

Thirdly, each of us is called to have the humble mind of Christ (Mic. 6:8; Phil 2:5ff; Rom. 12:3, 10; 1 Pet. 5:5).

All division, discord or fighting stems from an abundance of pride and a lack of humility (1 Tim. 6:4f; Jas. 4:1-3, 6).  This easily includes the propensity to try to impose our own political or social agenda or perspective upon others. So when we don’t get what we want (such as trying to make others agree with our own views) we make fertile ground for fights and discord within the church.

Humbleness means that each one of us is not seeking to please self.  This is to say that I/you/we are not to be:
(1)  Arrogant (Rom. 12:16; Jas. 4:16)
Which means one does not insist on my own way, ideas, or beliefs just because they are mine.
(2)  Domineering (1 Pet. 5:3)
(3)  Stubborn
(4)  Unreasonable (Ex: Gal. 6:3; Jas. 1:22)
(5)  Unyielding To be unyielding means one must not stand hard on things he believes when the truth and facts clearly counter his position.

Humility will take a genuine interest in others and in what they have to say (Rom. 12:9, 10). Humility is teachability, a willingness to give an ear to other perspectives in order to learn what others believe and perhaps why they believe them.  This is not a call to receiving all other views without discretion or discernment, but it is a call to be proactive in graciously and patiently listening to others.  Too many fights take place over straw men and too many divisions happen because of a deliberate and judgmental ignorance.

Humility is also thinking rightly about oneself (Rom. 12:3, 10, 16, 17), seeing oneself before the face of God. When we meditate on the implications of living before the presence of an almighty, sovereign Lord we will be more aware of such things as who we are even in the midst of a politically heated time, who God is with respect to elections and the future of our country,  and so forth.

Additionally, a humble person is teachable (Job 15:8; Prov. 26:12; Eccles. 7:16; Isa. 5:21; Rom. 12:16; 1 Cor. 8:2), and willing to change his mind about any matter if the other view bears legitimate weight and based upon revealed truth.

Therefore, each person can be (ought to be?) passionate about his position, but not arrogantly obnoxious about it (Prov. 11:2; 13:10; 21:4; 28:25; Mark 7:22; 1 Pet. 5:5).

Fourthly, each one has a right to state his position or speak his conscience in a godly manner (with grace, truth, clarity, kindness, etc.).  However, we should exercise wisdom and choose appropriate times in which to voice or discuss our views.

Fifthly, if it is a matter of an ongoing debate, the discourses should be tempered with humility and other Christ-like qualities.  For example, one should have restrained control of his attitude and tongue through gentleness and patience (2 Sam. 22:36; Ps. 18:35; Gal. 5:22, 23; 1 Thess. 2:7; 1 Tim. 3:2, 3; Jas. 3:17).

The biblical idea of gentleness, a very important character quality and precious to God (1 Pet. 3:4), is not that of being weak or sentimentally passive. Rather, gentleness is that of being patient, mild, reasonable, full of grace and graciousness.  This is exercised by not insisting on  own way or our own perspective. Jesus, the God-Man and omnipotent Lord of the universe was gentle.

The Bible portrays gentleness as seeing people as sensitive beings, deals with people where they are, and treats them with respect (1 Cor. 10; 1 Pet. 2:23).

It really is feasible for us to hold to divergent political and social views and still be fellow believers in Jesus Christ.  I think of the example of J. Gresham Machen, founder of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church and of Westminster Theological Seminary who voted for a Roman Catholic Democratic presidential candidate. On things biblical he was about as conservative as you can get, but on other matters he held to various views.  Fellow believers denounced his opinions and some even vehemently questioned whether he was a Christian because he did not hold to the same social or political ideas as they.  That’s just wrong.

The gentle person shows carefulness in choosing words and expressions so as not to unnecessarily offend (Gal. 6:1; 2 Tim. 2:25; Tit. 3:2). I am not saying that we can or should never offend.  There are appropriate times for that. For example, biblical truth and the Gospel would be a couple of main things that offend others.  Jesus’ exchanges with the high priest, the king and with the Roman governor demonstrate patient restraint. Jesus was blunt and truthful, but not loathsome.  Yet, at other times, Christ gave strong, forceful rebukes which were quite offensive.  Those occasions happened when Jesus was protecting his sheep from wolves, or clearing human or satanic impediments to the mission God the Father had for him.

A gentle person reflects care, affection and goodwill toward others (1 Cor. 13; Eph. 4:2). He is not callously abrupt, obnoxiously critical or arrogantly judgmental.

We must not be pugnacious. Literally, this means one is not a striker, not prone to violence, and not a fighter. We are not to be physically abusive. But by implication one is not is not to be mean-spirited with words. He doesn’t lash out when someone says something about which he disagrees. Neither does he incite arguments or alienate people through an attacking manner.
He does not follow through with an uncontrollably hot temper (Prov. 3:30; 15:18; 17:14; 20:3; 25:8; 26:17; Phil. 2:3).

A gentle, humble, godly person must not be quarrelsome. That means he is generally averse to verbal fighting or contentious arguing.  This is different from debating where you present and argue your position. The wise person knows what, when, and how to argue/debate rightly.
One ought not to be eager to make his point in order to get his way.  He is not to be a contentious disputer (1 Tim.6:3-5; 2 Tim. 2:22-26; Tit. 3:9)  Biblical gentleness does not relish or overly delight in crushing others by defeating their ideas and beliefs.
On the positive side, the godly person has a sense of peace, tranquility, and calmness.  He is a peacemaker – one who is able to bring calm to a stormy situation; not stir up a storm (Eccles. 10:4; Matt. 5:9; Rom. 12:18; 14:19; Heb. 12:14; Jas. 3:17).

As believers, we are called to be just (Tit. 1:8). This means to be upright, righteous, and impartial in dealing with people. A just person is able to forget personal interests and seek the truth in situations, in interpersonal conflicts, or as an umpire over differences, especially differences of opinions.  Being just also calls each to speak what is right, while maintaining the  ability to hear various sides and weigh the evidence, facts, or arguments honestly (Deut. 16:20; Ps. 82:3; Prov. 21:3; Isa. 56:1; Rom. 13:7; Col. 4:1).

In short, the godly believer exercises the fruit of God’s Spirit (Gal. 5:23; Phil.4:5), especially in the context of the life of the assembly of God’s people.

If one cannot persuade others of his own position he should be content that he tried, and follow through according to a biblically informed conscience.  At the same time, one should be mature and secure enough to permit others to hold their views without condemnation, rebuke, or ridicule.

Having said all this allow me to conclude by providing specific ways to apply this:
1.     We have such a divergent group of people when it comes to political and social views. This is not a bad thing. We need to continue to actively respect one another and refrain from judging (condemning) each other.

2.     Unless we are having an obvious discussion about certain “hot” topics we should refrain from making political or other statements that are not germane to the subject at hand.  There are opportunities and venues we could arrange for us to do this. Note: I am not saying we are to be quiet about our views. It’s a matter of when and where to say them.

3.    We should be careful about making personal political pronouncements during times when we have guests (especially during worship).   For example, you might feel passionate about a     political position and voice that opinion, but to voice that with guests present could too easily     distract them from knowing that we are first and foremost about Jesus Christ and not about, say, a conservative or  liberal social or political agenda.  In other words, it would be simply wrong for someone to go away believing that we are primarily about “right-wing     Republicanism” or “liberal socialism.”

In any case, we always need to exercise discretion, kindness, and love while uplifting and making much of Jesus. Other matters are secondary (even if important) and are appropriately discussed in other contexts.

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What Does a Wise Leader Look Like?

God’s Word puts a premium on wisdom; therefore, so should we.  God not only expects his people to seek wisdom, but also to be wise. What’s more, he wants his leaders to also be wise in every way (Deuteronomy 17; Psalm 1; Proverbs).

However, just what is wisdom?  That’s what this Bible study is about.  Check out the attached lesson.

A Wise Leader

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The End – Again

Two years after becoming a Christian I had the privilege of meeting and befriending Bob Ayala, one of the early contemporary Christian musicians. Both of us had experienced the end of high school and now shared a very new beginning through faith in Jesus. We met at a community college.

Bob was a friend of a family who had just lost their son in Viet Nam (if my memory serves me well). The mother claimed God had revealed to her numeric values and symbols in the Bible that correlated to the date of her son’s death, and somehow had mysteriously tied into the dates of the deaths of John F. Kennedy, Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr.   Bob and I would frequently go to her house for “Bible study” to learn about this fascinating and elaborate revelation from God.  Names and dates of historic American figures somehow connected to her son’s birth date and death, with the address numbers of various and “significant” Bible passages.  It was intriguing and exciting.  It certainly got my adrenaline going, but had me worried that God was putting an end to the world very soon. There were moments when I felt like Chicken Little going around telling my friends the end was coming. To my unbelieving friends and family I probably looked like some terrified chihuahua.

Living in Southern California presented many opportunities to hear about other revelations God had supposedly given to “prophets” and to those who earned great profits from the sales of their end-times books, cassette tapes, and conferences. Those of us who had this secret knowledge were excited, yet scared witless that Jesus was coming.  It took years for me to figure out Christians have no need to fear his coming. And it has still taken many more years to try to figure out how I got caught up into the fervor.

I lost track of Bob and his friend after joining the Army.  While stationed in Japan my spiritual mentors were of the Dispensational persuasion. The intricate details of prophecies, the elaborate charts, intriguing schemes tickled my mind. Men like Scofield, Larkin, Walvoord and Hal Lindsey (who, in recent years successfully published The Late, Great Planet Earth) had everything pertaining to the end figured out. It was all the more convincing that, while stationed in Japan, Mao had proudly declared China had a standing army of 200 million men, which, coincidentally fit  Revelation 9:16. We learned that John F. Kennedy, shot in the head, would rise again to take over the world as the antiChrist.  Uh, no, it was actually Mikhail Gorbachev who would become the antichrist because of his port wine mark on his forehead. And everyone knows the Pope would be the actual beast.

Since the generation that saw Israel become a national state again in 1948, and everyone knows that a generation is exactly forty years, that meant 1988 was the year of the end of history. We were convinced of that because of the Arab-Israeli war that broke out on the sixth day of the sixth year of 1966 (hmmm, but that is one too many sixes) happened in the generation that lived since 1948.  In any case, the end was going to happen any moment!

After reading too many books, attending too many end-times seminars, and worrying about whether this man’s prophecy or that man’s revelation from God was going to be fulfilled any second now, I became more than disillusioned and disgusted. The end did not happen as that distraught woman said. The end did not occur in 1970, or 1972, or 1978, or 1980. Indeed, even though there were 88 indisputable reasons why the end would happen in 1988, it just did not take place. Not one of the predictions came true, other than the prediction that these men would make mountains of money from their tracts, books, tapes and conferences.

It was in 1998 that a rather informative book came out about end times predictions. Richard Abanes’ End-Time Visions is worth reading. In it he documents how fascination with the end of the world has been with humanity since the beginning. It has not merely been a Christian phenomenon, but it has been a profound interest among the ancient Chinese, Hopi Indians, the Mayans, sects of the Jews, spiritualist Nostradamus, and, well, the list is rather long. In other words, then end keeps coming again and again and again.

Appendix C of his book posts a lengthy, though incomplete list of end times dates.  Check this out:

* St. Martin of Tours 316-397), Bishop of Gaul predicted the end would come between 375-400.

* Hippolytus (died 236) predicted the end of the world would take place in 500 A.D.

* Spanish monk Beatus (died 798) was convinced he would see antichrist arrive by the year 800.

* Thiota, the prophetess, tells her large following the end would happen in 848.

* It was a largely held belief in Europe that the end would arrive in A.D. 1000. Why not? It’s a nice round number and marked the end of the thousand-year Millennium (sorry for the redundancy).

* When the end did not happen, again, most figured the calculations were off by 33 years, so the end definitely would occur in 1033.

* When the moon aligned with planets and Jupiter aligned with Mars, then the end would come in 1186.

* Then the end was certain to come in 1260, or between 1345 and 1385, and 1420; but absolutely on February 20th, 1524!  Melchoir Hoffman said Jesus would return in 1533, but his follower Jan Matthys, the popular Anabaptist leader, called Christians to rise up for a violent revolution to cleanse the world for Christ’s coming in 1534.

* Christopher Columbus calculated the end would occur in 1656.  He should have made it a nice biblical number like 1666 or 1777.

* Even the American Puritan Cotton Mather predicted 1697. Woops, he actually meant 1716. Nope. Didn’t happen then? Oh, well, it had to take place 1736.

* The Shakers were adamant that 1792 is the big year  of fear.

* The American Baptist preacher William Miller claimed the end would take place between 1843 and 1844. October 22, 1844 is considered “The Great Disappointment.”  Oddly enough, even though the followers were disappointed, they were not disappointed in Miller!  From his growing following came the Seventh Day Adventists and the Jehovah Witnesses.

* In England, the Anglican minister M. Baxter wrote a little booklet with a large title: Louis Napolean, the Infidel Antichrist Predicted in Prophecy to confirm A Seven Years Covenant With the Jews, About the Year 1861… Well, the title goes on for another ninety-four words. Too long for me to type.  Much like Hal Lindsey and Harold Camping he had no doubt as to what would happen and when, and who the real antichrist and beast were. The Napoleonic Wars convinced a great many non-French, non-Roman Catholics that indeed the world was ending, thanks to Napoleon!

* Lee Spangler, grocery store owner, reveals the end by fire in 1908.

* Halley’s Comet was sure to end it all, again, in 1920.

* 1914 is the year the Jehovah’s Witnesses proclaim Armageddon would take place. They were, perhaps, a little bit closer to the truth with the coming of World War One.  When the great last-days battle did not take place, they readjusted their date to 1925. They tried again and predicted Armageddon arrived some time in the 1940s.  When the end did not materialize they published that the year 1975 would bring the end. After all, 1975 would mark 6000 years since the creation of the world and there would be another 1000 years of kingdom reign, which would bring the world to 7000 years (you calculate 6 as the number for mankind, and add 7 for the perfect number, and add 1000 years for each period of time, ad infinitum, ad nauseam).

* Herbert W. Armstrong wrote in the 1934 summer edition of his Plain Truth magazine that the bad times in the United States and Europe would continue until the Day of the Lord brings the end of everything in 1936. Plain Truth revises the revelation and announces the end would come – again – between 1975 and 1977. I’m sure for some it did.

* On February 4, 1962, when the moon aligned with planets, and Jupiter was near Mars, then the end would rule our planet and dust would fill the stars. The date was the spawning of the age of destruction…!

* Hal Lindsey writes more materials, does prophecy conferences, goes on radio and television to warn that the rapture of Christians will transpire December 31, 1981. Like Jack van Impe, he is still making predictions and making plenty of money off the end times hype.

* Not to be left behind, Louis Farrakahn, the leader of the Nation of Islam tells the world that the Gulf War of 1991 will usher in the final battle of Armageddon.

* Pentecostal leader Lester Sumrall  disagrees. It will happen in 2000.

* The year 2000, has held a preeminent spot for at least a millennium. Nostradamus, psychics Edgar Cayce and Jeane Dixon, Satanic churches (Process Church and Foundation Church of the Millennium), computer geeks, UFO specialists, some geologists (predicting a cataclysmic shift of the earth’s poles), along with dozens of others, all claimed the end would begin in 2000.

* That brings us back to Harold Camping’s first major prediction that Jesus’ second coming would arrive September 7, 1994. I do not recall if he had a particular time for that date.  Maybe it was 7:06 (which, for the enlightened is 6:00 and 66 minutes)?

These are just a few of the thousand(s) of prophecies about the end times, which have been predicted only in these past 2000 years. Every year, every decade bring upon us every kind of arrogant prophet who happens to have that secret knowledge no one else has come upon: the knowledge of the end of the world.

There is the beauty and peace of resting in the clear statements of Jesus that only God the Father knows the moment of the end. We cannot say with absolute certainty when the end will arrive, or for that matter when it will not arrive.  It’s not for us to figure out or worry about. Each of us will come to our own end on earth. Being prepared to meet God after our own end is what we should be more concerned about. Having a saving faith in Jesus Christ to save us from  our own destruction is what we should seek or possess; not the year, the month, the date, the hour, the minute, or the second the destruction of the world will happen.

So, in case you missed 1988, or Y2K, or end up missing Harold Camping’s May 21, 2011 cataclysmic end, you will at least have the Mayan “prediction” of December 2012, or astronomists’ killer comet, or the environmental wipeout of all living things with which to look forward. After all, there will be the end – again!

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A Guide for Making Wise Decisions (as a godly leader)

A. Proverbs 3:5-8 Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil.  It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.

1.  There are several principles regarding decision-making can be seen

from this verse as well as from other verses (Prov. 14:12; 18:12;

28:26; Jer. 17:9; James 4:13-16; Gal. 6:7-8; John 15:5):

a.  God wants his people to be humble and to approach him

humbly.

b.  He wants us to realize that we must consider who we are

before him and recognize just what our abilities truly are.

c.   And even when we think everything is right, trusting in our

ways or methods will fail.

2.   Keep your priorities in sight.

a.  Your primary priority is your relationship with God.

b.  Your secondary priorities can be organized by determining:

(1)  What is required?

(2) What gives the greatest return?

(3) What will be the reward? –  John Maxwell

I was forced to re-evaluate my priorities.  What did God want me to

do on earth?  What was He seeking?  Educated Christians?

“Successful” pastors?  Popular writers?  No.  At least, these are not number

one on His list.  He was seeking worshippers!  He was looking for men

and women who knew Him.  “The people who know their God will

display strength and take action” (Daniel 11:32).  In fact, the Scriptures

teach, “The eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth that

He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His”

(2 Chronicles 16:9).

– Irwin Lutzer in Failure, the Backdoor to Success

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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B. Proverbs 4:26-27 tells us to “Make level paths for your feet and take

only ways that are firm. Do not swerve to the right or to the left. Keep

your foot from evil.”

1. A principle that can be derived from this is:

a.  Pursue realistic courses or options, and pursue those paths

that seem to be firm.

b. Don’t be distracted by wrong goals, motives or pursuits.

2.  Some questions you can ask:

a.      Are my options realistic?

b.      Are any of my options unrealistic?

c.      Is my heart’s motive pure in this?

d.      Will this choice further my relationship with the Lord

or hinder it?

e.      Which choice will give God the greater glory, if any?

f.       Do any of my options violate Scripture?

C. Make your plans by seeking advice. (Proverbs 9:8-9; 11:14; 15:22;

20:18; 24:6)

1.   A principle here would be:  Look to those who can offer advice

(biblical, with common sense, etc.) and give guidance, such as elders

and those who have gone through a similar experience (and learned

from it) (Eccles. 5:1-7; 9:17-18).

Warning, as Pastor Robert Needham has said, “Do not make

you decision one the basis of the experience of others! It is

absolutely impossible for you to know all the hidden variables

that entered into their circumstances and decision(s). This is

not meant to invalidate the counsel of parents and others in

authority, but to avoid the trap of assuming that other’s

experiences are a suitable model for your decisions (2 Cor.

10:12; Eccles. 7:10).”

 

2. The best advice, of course, is from the Lord. Seek him through

prayer and ask for his direction. (Matt. 7:7-11; 21:21-22; John 14:14;

15:7; Phil. 4:6-7; Col. 3:17)

3.  Some questions you can ask:

a.  What does God say from his Word about the question(s) at

hand?

b.  Who do I know that can offer straightforward advice?

c.   What elders can I seek out who can make some wise

suggestions or give insight?

d.   Are there others who have gone through the same kind of

experience or have had to make the same kind of decisions

that might have “hindsight wisdom?”

D.  The way of a foolish person is right in his own eyes, but a wise person

listens to counsel  (Proverbs 12:15)

1.  A  Principle:  Seeking to be wise, I will consider the advice I have

been given, and will listen intently, even when it goes against what

I want.

2.  A few questions to consider:

a.  Am I seeking the advice of others in order to find someone

who will give me what I want to hear?

b.   Am I listening intently to the advice of others and seriously

considering what they have to offer?

c.  Am I listening intently to the advice of Scripture and the Holy

Spirit?

d.  Am I willing to take risks or make changes if this is God’s will

for my life?

E.  A person who lacks judgment enjoys his foolishness, but one who is filled

with understanding keeps a straight course (Proverbs 15:21).

1.  A Principle: Bliss or feeling happy about something doesn’t make a

decision right.

Being a biblically wise person (seeking to think God’s thoughts after

Him) will help me keep a good course of direction in a diligent

manner. Wavering is a pleasure for the fool.

2.  Some questions you could ask:

a.  Do I find more comfort and security in not making decisions

than in making one?

b.  Am I seeking to think God’s thoughts about this matter?

c.  Have I searched the Scriptures to see if there is anything that

speaks to these issue(s)?

3.  It is wrong to have a mind that nearly always wavers back and forth,

or is indecisive. This is especially true of a leader. Leaders who

cannot make decisions are not leaders at all.  (Rom. 14:5; James

1:5-8; 5:12)

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Be decisive.  A leader is a decision maker, not a consensus seeker.  If you are going

to introduce significant innovations, know that you will have to make some tough

calls and will probably offend some good people by virtue of your decisions.  Be

sensitive and flexible, yes, but be firm in pursuing your convictions. George Barna,

edit, Leaders on Leadership p. 208

In 1 Kings 18:21 Elijah cries out, “How long will you go limping with two different

opinions: if the Lord is God follow him; but if Baal then follow him.” A leader

cannot be paralyzed by indecisiveness. He will take risks rather than do nothing.

He will soak himself in prayer and in the Word and then rest himself in God’s

sovereign as he makes decisions, knowing that he will very likely make some

mistakes.  John Piper from an article The Marks of a Spiritual Leader

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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4. James 3:17 gives you direction for making decisions. Notice how

this verse can provide you with a seven-fold decision making process:

a.  Is the decision pure. Does it separate me from sin and evil?

Does it promote moral holiness?

b.   Is the decision peaceable? That is, does it promote peace?

This does not mean that just because you feel peaceful about

the decision then it is a right decision. The emotion of peace

can mean that you are relieved that you have found the

means to shirk responsibility. It can mean that you have

found a way to absolve you for doing something you did not

want to do. It could mean that you are pleased you have

decided to do something you wanted, but your conscience has

been seared sufficiently enough to repel any conviction about

a bad or sinful decision.

On the other hand, you should not make any decision if your

conscience is troubled. Now this means that your conscience

should be informed as much as possible from God’s Word.

Sometimes your conscience is bothered because making a

decision requires making an uncomfortable but needed

change; or because it goes against the culture you were

brought up in. If your conscience is bothered, then continue

to look into the matter and seek as much information and

counsel as you can before making a decision. As Robert

Needham has said, “If this principle (of conscience) is

violated, the end result is seldom a happy one…” The old

statement is often true, “If in doubt, don’t.” (Eccles. 1:18;

Rom. 14:13-23; 1 Cor. 8:7-13; 10:23-31)

c.  Is it gentle (forbearing, considerate)?

d.  Is it reasonable (willing to yield)?

Dr. Robert Stuart makes the following recommendation for

trying to figure out the reasonableness of the matter:

(1) Divide a page in to two sides and label one side “pros” and

the other side “cons.”

(2) List all of the pros and cons as you can possibly think of.

(3) Go back and label all of the pros and cons with “A” for critically

important, “B” for  important, and  “C” for not that important

(4) Put the list away and take time to pray for guidance and

wisdom.

(5) Go back and change all of the “B’s” into either “A’s” or “C’s”

(6) Now throw all of your “C’s” away and consider only what you

have left.

e.  Is it full of mercy or compassion?

f.   Is it something that will produce good fruit? Will you get a good

return, is it of value or profitable (not necessarily in terms of

monetary rewards)?

g. Is it without favoritism or prejudice?

h.  Is genuine, sincere or without hypocrisy?

F.  Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that

prevails (16:33; 19:21).

1. Principle: No matter how hard I plan to do things, ultimately it is

God’s Sovereign plan for my life that succeeds.

2.  A wise leader will recognize God’s authority, presence and power

in everything. He will understand that only God can bless anything

and everything at all (Psa. 37:4-5; Matt. 6:19-34;  Jn 8:31-36; 15:1-7;

Phil. 4:6-7; Col. 3:17; James 1:5-8).

3.  Some helpful questions you could ask:

a.   Have I committed this decision to the Lord? (In other words,

have I told Him that I will rest in the knowledge that He is

control ultimately, no matter what decision I make?)

b.  Have I purposed in my heart not to worry, but rather to give

thanks for the process and for the outcome?

c. Have I made the commitment to do what is right before the

Lord?

G.  There is great counsel and sound wisdom in God and His Word.

Seeking God’s wisdom is understanding and great power for success

(Proverbs 8:14).

A Principle: Success is always linked to godly wisdom and good counsel.

The person who plans well will often “win” or succeed.

 

(c) D. Thomas Owsley

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