Faithlife Sermons

Characteristics of Good Decisions

Decisions  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  38:40
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Judges 6:36-40
Gideon couldn’t conceive of carrying out the gargantuan task the Lord was requiring of him.
He was too insignificant, too weak, too … whatever!
How could Gideon—the least in his father’s house and identified with the weakest clan in Manasseh—ever deliver Israel from such a monstrous enemy army?
Although God had directly spoken to him, this godly young man still felt insecure about making the right decision.
To make sure he had actually heard from God, twice Gideon asked for a supernatural sign.
The first night he put out a fleece and asked God to make it wet and the ground dry.
The next night Gideon asked God to make the fleece dry and the ground wet.
Although God honored both of Gideon’s requests, today Christians have the indwelling Holy Spirit, who counsels them and the whole counsel of God to guide us.
2 Peter 1:19
2 Peter 1:19 AV
19 We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts:
Today, we are not to look to supernatural events to reveal the will of God.
Some people will always want visible signs to discern God’s will, yet these signs are based on normal occurrences such as chance phone calls or letters.
If you insist on “putting out a fleece,” make sure the sign is supernatural.
Suggestion: On a hot summer day, why not ask for a snowstorm!

I. Methods of Decision Making

If you could, wouldn’t you want to know the future?
If you could see the outcome, wouldn’t it make your decisions a lot more accurate?
Today people seek guidance through a bunch of occultic practices.
They search for answers in newspaper columns, carnival booths, and psychic hotlines.
Astrologers, palm readers, and fortune-tellers toting tarot cards all claim to speak for “God.”
But the God of the Bible says these dramatic ways are “abominations”
Deuteronomy 18:9
Deuteronomy 18:9 AV
9 When thou art come into the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not learn to do after the abominations of those nations.
Leviticus 19:31
Leviticus 19:31 AV
31 Regard not them that have familiar spirits, neither seek after wizards, to be defiled by them: I am the LORD your God.
Proverbs 14:12
Proverbs 14:12 AV
12 There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.
Making decisions can be approached in various ways, but most will fall into one of these following six methods or a combination of some of them.
Not all methods of decision making will prove to be profitable.

A. Dramatic Method

Some people misuse Scripture by flipping open the Bible and pointing to some random Scripture for guidance without considering the context.
Others expect God to come through with a spectacular, supernatural sign that will give proof of His will in a given situation.
Yet, God says …
John 14:26
John 14:26 AV
26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.
So even though we are dependent upon the Holy Spirit to guide us supernaturally, He leads us through His Word!

B. Defaulting Method

Scripture tells us there is an appropriate time to seek counsel, and that is a wise thing to do.
Proverbs 12:15
Proverbs 12:15 AV
15 The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise.
Proverbs 11:14
Proverbs 11:14 AV
14 Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety.
Ultimately, however, we are responsible for our own choices.
We can even be so pressured by the opinions of others that it becomes easier just to let others make decisions for us … even when we think they are wrong.
1 Thessalonians 5:21
1 Thessalonians 5:21 AV
21 Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.

C. Delaying Method

Many people choose to procrastinate when a decision is due, hoping that “it will all come out well in the end.”
They allow circumstances to determine the outcome.
However, not to decide is actually a decision.
In doing this are we placing our hearts focus on other things rather than on knowing God’s will through prayer, biblical counsel, and intimacy with the Lord.
Yet, God says …
Hebrews 3:10
Hebrews 3:10 AV
10 Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, They do alway err in their heart; and they have not known my ways.

D. Deductive Method

The Christian life is to be a life of balance between human deduction and spiritual insight.
If we become solely analytical in thinking through a situation and choose to rely completely on logic, we will miss God’s way.
Yet, God says …
Isaiah 55:8
Isaiah 55:8 AV
8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.

E. Desirous Method

Too many people allow their emotions to have control over their soul.
They allow their feelings to determine their behavior.
God gave us emotions, but He never intended emotions to be our “decision makers.”
Many of us don’t even realize that we often have an “if it feels good, it must be good” mentality.
Jeremiah 17:9
Jeremiah 17:9 AV
9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?
Yet, God says …
Proverbs 28:26
Proverbs 28:26 AV
26 He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool: but whoso walketh wisely, he shall be delivered.

F. Discerning Method

This is the best method.
To be discerning is to grasp what may not be evident, that is, “to have insight and understanding by going beyond what seems obvious.”
Spiritual discernment, therefore, is wisdom to determine what is true, appropriate, and superior in the eyes of God, regardless of how things may seem.
Yet, God says …
1 Corinthians 2:14
1 Corinthians 2:14 AV
14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

II. Tests for Decision Making

In the Bible, Saul is facing a monstrous army of Philistines.
He has sinned against God over and over again.
The Prophet of God, Samuel, has passed away.
The Bible says,
1 Samuel 28:3-16
1 Samuel 28:3–16 AV
3 Now Samuel was dead, and all Israel had lamented him, and buried him in Ramah, even in his own city. And Saul had put away those that had familiar spirits, and the wizards, out of the land. 4 And the Philistines gathered themselves together, and came and pitched in Shunem: and Saul gathered all Israel together, and they pitched in Gilboa. 5 And when Saul saw the host of the Philistines, he was afraid, and his heart greatly trembled. 6 And when Saul enquired of the LORD, the LORD answered him not, neither by dreams, nor by Urim, nor by prophets. 7 Then said Saul unto his servants, Seek me a woman that hath a familiar spirit, that I may go to her, and enquire of her. And his servants said to him, Behold, there is a woman that hath a familiar spirit at Endor. 8 And Saul disguised himself, and put on other raiment, and he went, and two men with him, and they came to the woman by night: and he said, I pray thee, divine unto me by the familiar spirit, and bring me him up, whom I shall name unto thee. 9 And the woman said unto him, Behold, thou knowest what Saul hath done, how he hath cut off those that have familiar spirits, and the wizards, out of the land: wherefore then layest thou a snare for my life, to cause me to die? 10 And Saul sware to her by the LORD, saying, As the LORD liveth, there shall no punishment happen to thee for this thing. 11 Then said the woman, Whom shall I bring up unto thee? And he said, Bring me up Samuel. 12 And when the woman saw Samuel, she cried with a loud voice: and the woman spake to Saul, saying, Why hast thou deceived me? for thou art Saul. 13 And the king said unto her, Be not afraid: for what sawest thou? And the woman said unto Saul, I saw gods ascending out of the earth. 14 And he said unto her, What form is he of? And she said, An old man cometh up; and he is covered with a mantle. And Saul perceived that it was Samuel, and he stooped with his face to the ground, and bowed himself. 15 And Samuel said to Saul, Why hast thou disquieted me, to bring me up? And Saul answered, I am sore distressed; for the Philistines make war against me, and God is departed from me, and answereth me no more, neither by prophets, nor by dreams: therefore I have called thee, that thou mayest make known unto me what I shall do. 16 Then said Samuel, Wherefore then dost thou ask of me, seeing the LORD is departed from thee, and is become thine enemy?
He was scared to death—but it was to the dead that he turned for guidance!
The enemy army had gathered for war against his smaller country.
He wanted counsel from God, but
1 Samuel 28:6
1 Samuel 28:6 AV
6 And when Saul enquired of the LORD, the LORD answered him not, neither by dreams, nor by Urim, nor by prophets.
Desperate for supernatural insight, Saul disguised himself and went to a medium (a practice forbidden by God).
He asked to talk with the beloved prophet Samuel, who had died.
After Samuel appeared and after Saul complained that God no longer answered him, Samuel replied,
1 Samuel 28:16
1 Samuel 28:16 AV
16 Then said Samuel, Wherefore then dost thou ask of me, seeing the LORD is departed from thee, and is become thine enemy?
The Lord would not answer Saul because he had continually defied the commands of God—and since he did not reflect the heart of God, he became the enemy of God.
When faced with a decision, we need to see whether we “pass the test” so that our decisions will be blessed.
From God’s perspective, decisions are not to be determined by random selection, supernatural events, people’s opinions, delay tactics, analytical thinking, or good feelings.
God wants you to measure your decisions by His standards.
Rather than testing God, test yourself against the following eight Scriptures.
This will help you to make choices that are pleasing to the Lord.
Ephesians 5:8, 10
Ephesians 5:8 AV
8 For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light:
Ephesians 5:10 AV
10 Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord.

A. Scriptural Test

“Has God already spoken about it in His Word?”
Example: Marrying a nonbeliever in hopes of drawing the spouse to Christ even though 2 Corinthians 6:14 says
2 Corinthians 6:14
2 Corinthians 6:14 AV
14 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?
God has given us the Word of God to help us make decisions.
2 Timothy 3:16
2 Timothy 3:16 AV
16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

B. Secrecy Test

“Would it bother me if everyone knew this was my choice?”
Example: Thinking no one is hurt by keeping an overpayment of returned cash or credit
Proverbs 11:3
Proverbs 11:3 AV
3 The integrity of the upright shall guide them: but the perverseness of transgressors shall destroy them.
Survey Test
“What if everyone followed my example?”
Example: Assuming a little trash tossed out the car window will never be noticed on a busy highway
1 Timothy 4:12
1 Timothy 4:12 AV
12 Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.

C. Spiritual Test

“Am I being people-pressured or Spirit-led?”
Example: Accepting a commitment of time that has not been affirmed in your spirit by God
Galatians 1:10
Galatians 1:10 AV
10 For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.

D. Stumbling Test

“Could this cause another person to stumble?”
Example: Having an alcoholic looking drink in a public place
Romans 14:21
Romans 14:21 AV
21 It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak.
Well they should mind their own business!
Ok, but we are commanded by God to mind the welfare of others…
Hebrews 10:24
Hebrews 10:24 AV
24 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:

E. Serenity Test

“Have I prayed and received peace about this decision?”
Example: Deciding to make any major change without praying and waiting on God’s peace for confirmation
Philippians 4:6-7
Philippians 4:6–7 AV
6 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. 7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

F. Sanctification Test

“Will this keep me from growing in the character of Christ?”
Example: Failing to obey God when He prompts you to do something that is difficult or burdensome
2 Corinthians 3:18
2 Corinthians 3:18 AV
18 But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.

G. Supreme Test

“Does this glorify God?”
Example: Conforming to the world’s standards by living a lifestyle of indebtedness
1 Corinthians 10:31
1 Corinthians 10:31 AV
31 Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.
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