Faith Matters - Current Posts

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Trust God for the Outcome

I find it interesting to see how early Christians did things. When you look at the New Testament accounts of how Christian leaders made important decisions, it appears they decided the best they could and then acted on it. Listen to some examples:
“After all this had happened, Paul decided to go to Jerusalem.”
“It seemed good … to us…”
“Paul had decided to sail past Ephesus…, for he was in a hurry to reach Jerusalem.”
These early Christian leaders didn't have lightning from heaven. They didn't have absolute certainty. They loved God, read the Bible, prayed for wisdom, sought counsel and decided the best they could with the information they had.
Did they always get it right? If what you mean by getting it right is that everything turned out happy and pleasant, then they didn’t always get it right. If what you mean is that they followed a Christian process, yes, they got it right.
We’re prone to judge our decisions totally on the basis of a pleasant outcome. If the job is successful, the marriage is happy or the house appreciates in value, then we think that we made the right decision and discovered God's will. If, on the other hand, the job is hard, the marriage is difficult or the house needs a new roof, we tend to think that we missed God's will.Going back to those early Christian leaders, most of the authors of the Bible died as martyrs and many early Christians lived difficult lives. But that doesn’t mean they missed God's will or made wrong decisions, it means they lived faithfully, trusting God for the outcome.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Making Decisions

Throughout our lives, all of us are faced with decisions. We want to make the right decisions, but it isn’t always easy. In my life I’ve found that the best place to start is to pray for wisdom and then to ask others for advice. Before praying I try to check out what the Bible has to say. Three hours praying about whether or not to rob a bank is a waste of time. Just do what the Bible says. But if the Bible doesn't say anything on the subject, then pray for wisdom. Wisdom is taking knowledge and applying it. Wisdom is a gift from God given to every Christian who asks.
Try this. Instead of praying, “God, show me which apartment to rent,” try praying, “God give me the wisdom to figure this out for myself and get it right.”
In addition to prayer, it’s wise to ask others for advice. None of us is smart enough or experienced enough to make totally independent decisions. Part of asking God for wisdom is asking him who to trust, for not everyone's advice is equally good. Personally, I ask for a lot of advice when making decisions. I ask my wife, my co-workers, and trusted family members, friends and professionals. The Bible says, “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.” Multiple input is usually more helpful than just one counselor. But when it comes time to actually make the decision, you have to do what seems best. Check the Bible, pray for wisdom and listen to counsel. Then make your decision.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Love God and Do as You Please

A sixteenth century theologian and reformer said that Christians should love God and then do as they please. I like the simplicity of that. It’s saying that if we really love God, our decisions will be right. All too often we put too much of our energy in making decisions and too little of our energy into loving God.
Jesus said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” When we love God that passionately, our decisions will reflect that love.
The Bible is filled with practical advice on how to live and what to do and when we’re looking for specific advice, it should be our starting place. If the Bible says something is wrong, we shouldn’t do it. If the Bible is silent on a subject, make your decision according to what seems best to you.
For example: Are you thinking about moving in with the person you’re dating? Don’t. The Bible advises against premarital sex. Are you tempted to cheat on your income taxes? Don’t. The Bible tells us not to defraud the government. But if the major decision you’re facing is what color car to buy, the Bible gives no indication as to God’s color preference so chose whatever you like! I happen to like red.The Bible doesn’t tell us which job to take, where to invest or whether we should go out for lacrosse – but it does tell us that we should work honestly, invest wisely and play fairly. And, most of all, we should love God!