Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Monday, 5 April 21:
- Joshua 9:14, 15 — “…but [they] did not ask counsel from the Lord. And Joshua made peace with them and made a covenant with them, to let them live, and the leaders of the congregation swore to them.”
The Israelites were deceived into a covenant with the Gibeonites, which eventually resulted in a war between Israel and five kingdoms. This happened because the Israelites trusted in their own understanding and did “whatever seem[ed] good and right in [their] sight,” (Joshua 9:25) rather than seeking the “counsel from the Lord.” (Joshua 9:25)
Both people and circumstances can be deceiving, and often we deceive ourselves for a multitude of reasons. How limited is our capacity to truly understand what we should do in any given situation, even on our very best day?
- Proverbs 3:5-6 — 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.
- Jeremiah 33:3 — Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.
- Psalm 25:12 — Who is the man who fears the Lord? Him will he instruct in the way that he should choose.
- Proverbs 2:6 — For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.
The essential first step of effective decision-making is seeking the Lord’s direction through prayer and study of God’s word. God says, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8, 9) Only God has the wisdom you need to make good decisions, and wisdom is a gift of the Spirit to those who seek it from God — “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” (James 1:5)
“But Jesus answered them, ‘You are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God.’” (Matthew 22:29) God gives His wisdom through His word enlightened by the Holy Spirit and through prayer empowered by the Holy Spirit. The Pharisees studied God’s word intently, but lacked the requisite power of relationship with God. Some approach God’s word as a glorified textbook, self-help book or guidebook for life success rather than direct, intimate communication with God, living and active. How does God’s word, written thousands of years ago, apply to your specific situation today? Beyond providing general principles and specific restraints and constraints, the Holy Spirit convicts you with His word based on God’s sovereign will for the specific situation at hand and in context with what He is doing beyond your natural understanding. There is no substitute for effective communication in a genuine relationship with God who knows the full situation when you don’t, who knows the hearts of others when you don’t, and who knows the truth of you, your biases and your blind spots when you don’t. Most importantly, God knows what you need more than you do, which is Him. Situations and people come and go, but your relationship with God is eternal. The most important thing is that your decisions draw you increasingly closer to Him.
- John 5:19 — So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise.
- John 5:30 — “I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge, and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me.
- John 12:49 — For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment—what to say and what to speak.
The key to good decision-making is being about the Father’s business, to look for His lead and follow rather than trying to get ahead of God in pursuit of your own agenda. Jesus modeled daily decision-making by doing and saying only what the Father told Him to do and say. At the point of decision, the important thing is not what you have going on but what God has going on, and only He can reveal that to you.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 5 Apr 21: What decisions are weighing on you today? Go to God’s word, pray, pray, and pray; listen patiently; and then, obey, remaining in prayer and with eyes wide open to see God’s activity around you. Where you see Him at work, join Him.