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Decisions: Prayer & the Spirit

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How many of you guys have moved before? How did packing go? Did you feel overwhelmed or nah?
I remember when I moved to college, and I had a pretty good amount of stuff. It took me like 2 days to pack it all up. But I did it, and I fit all my stuff into my little Ford Focus and went off to college. And I moved around a bunch during and right after college to different apartments with my friends. And moving was never fun, but I never had that much stuff.
But then, Karly and I got married. And then I had way more stuff. The amount of clothes in my apartment quadrupled. And then we got a bunch of stuff for our kitchen. Before that I had like 1 plate and 1 bowl and 1 cup. And then we got furniture. So, when it came time to move from Ohio here to Texas, I stood in our apartment, and I looked around at all our stuff, and I was like, where in the world do I even start?
And as we think about decision-making, I think we do that. We’re like, I know I want to make good decisions, but I feel so overwhelmed. Where do I even start? Well, I want to talk about two places to start tonight that are related: Prayer, and the Holy Spirit.

Wise decisions start with prayer

James 1:5 NLT
If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.
At the very beginning of the book of James, he makes this simple statement of promise: if you don’t have wisdom, ask God, and he will give it to you. That’s amazing! Because I often get overwhelmed with how to live and what the most wise thing is. You know, I think, often we think that life is like National Treasure: we’ve got clues and the clues lead to other clues and it takes super smart Nicolas Cage to decipher where to go next. And you’re like, man, I could never figure that out. But imagine that you’re in National Treasure, and you’ve got the phone number of the guy who hid the treasure. And if you ask, he’ll help you find the right answer.
Now, that’s not to say that he will outright give you the answer. This verse doesn’t say, “If you want to know the specific answer, then ask God, and he will write step-by-step instructions in the sky for you.” No, he will give you wisdom. Wisdom, by definition, means there is not a clear answer, and you have to determine what the best option is.
In the Old Testament, the example of wisdom is Solomon, and this kind of weird story about a baby. There are two women who both claim a baby is theirs. No one can tell whose the baby is. So, Solomon says this: How about we cut it in half? Then you can each have half. The real mom, who obviously cared more about her child than herself, said: No! Don’t do that. Give the baby to the other lady. But the fake mom was like “whatever.” So, he figured out who the real mom was. What’s the point here? Solomon was able to cut through the lies and the stuff he didn’t know, thinking about human nature and God’s character.
When we make decisions, we have to cut through lies and stuff we don’t know. God will give you the ability to do this. He will teach you how to make decisions. So, any good decision should start with PRAYER.
You know, it’s so easy to skip this step. We’re like. I’m gonna do all the research and I’m gonna make my pro/con list and I’m gonna make a wise decision. But we forget to talk to God about it. God wants you to be wise. He wants to help you. Ask him.
What is the first thing you usually do when you need to make a decision?
Have you ever asked God for wisdom on a decision and what was his answer?
What do we do when we don’t see a clear answer?

Wise decisions start with the Holy Spirit

Galatians 5:22–26 NLT
But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. Let us not become conceited, or provoke one another, or be jealous of one another.
Galatians 5:22–23 NLT
But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!
Okay, so the second thing we need to do if we’re going to make wise decisions is to follow the lead of the Holy Spirit.
When we become Christians, we get a new leader, with a totally new way of living. It’s like two teachers, right: maybe you have one teacher who just stands at the front and talks for 45 minutes straight. You can’t eat in the room. You can’t talk. You have to stay in your seat. You have to take notes. But then, next period you go to a different class, and your teacher has all these interactive games for you. Now, you’re required to get up and move around the room. You’re supposed to talk to your friends as you work on the project. You’re encouraged to eat if you need to. Your success depends on totally opposite actions because you have a totally different teacher.
When we become Christians, the Holy Spirit becomes our teacher and he totally changes the way we live. In the verse right before this, it lists all this bad stuff that we do when we follow out sinful nature, but then, it tells us what characterizes the person who is following the Spirit: Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self-Control.
That’s what your life should look like!! And here’s the thing: this doesn’t happen just once. Like you can’t just wake up and say, “I’m gonna live by the fruit of the spirit today” and immediately change forever. The Spirit works in your life over time. You have to practice living by the Spirit—just like you practice anything else. And when you do this, this Spirit-living will characterize all your decisions.
Because it’s not just the “big” decisions that matter. Everyday you make little tiny decisions that have a major affect on where your life is headed. And most of them, you make almost instinctually. So, you have to train your instinct to be Spirit-oriented and not selfishly-oriented.

Jesus makes a way for prayer and the Spirit

Ultimately, this is the problem. Our hearts just naturally tend toward selfishness and toward foolish decisions. Jesus knows this: That’s why he modeled this so well. Jesus was constantly going off by himself to pray, to spend time with God, to seek his wisdom. Jesus himself was powered by the Spirit as he lived his life on earth.
And Jesus knows that we could never know wisdom outside of him. In fact, the Bible says that the wisdom of the world is often the opposite of God’s wisdom. But Jesus opened the door for us to pray to God, and to be filled with the Holy Spirit, by going to the cross for us, and rising three days later.
So, if you want to make wise decisions, follow Jesus. Pray. Live by the Spirit. He paid a big price for you to be able to.
How do you listen to the Spirit and know when he is speaking to you?
What are some small decisions you make every day that are different from someone who doesn’t have the Spirit?
Why is God’s wisdom different than human wisdom?
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