Biblical Decision Making Part 4: Accurate God Concept
Because of the many Scriptures that delineate between the flesh and Spirit (Rom. 8:1-14), many wonder how to discern the difference for ourselves. Everyone is susceptible to not discerning the Spirit and the Word of God clearly due to the “cloudy” lenses from which we see the world and God. These lenses develop out of past experiences, our flesh, the impact of influential individuals in our lives, emotional issues, etc. For instance, someone may develop an inaccurate image of God and see him as emotionally distant and disinterested in his or her life. Or someone’s image of God may be “the God of impossible expectations” leading them to see every Scripture passage as excessively condemning. A distorted God-image leads to difficulty trusting God and submitting to His Word. The key to combating a distorted God image is to test what we believe about God through the whole counsel of the Bible, counsel with others, and prayer.
Application: It’s important to spend some time meditating on how we “picture” or perceive God right now. How do we feel He feels toward us? Do we view him as present and active? Distant or silent? Are these feelings about God consistent with Scripture? It may help to talk with a close friend or mentor about these perceptions of God and get their input on what they hear from us.
Acknowledging God’s Sovereignty.
God is sovereign. He is all-knowing (omniscient), all powerful (omnipotent), and present everywhere (omnipresent). As such, he is not bound by the limitations of time and other aspects of human finiteness. We can take comfort that his eternal purposes will be accomplished in our lives and in this world. Remember God is in control both when life is going smoothly and when it is confusing or turbulent. That includes times of uncertainty about decisions or other times when we lack clarity.
1 Chr. 29:11-13, “Thine, O Lord, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine; thine is the kingdom, O Lord, and thou art exalted as head above all. Both riches and honour come of thee, and thou reignest over all; and in thine hand is power and might; and in thine hand it is to make great, and to give strength unto all. Now therefore, our God, we thank thee, and praise thy glorious name.”
Is. 55:8-9, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith 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.”
Is. 43:10-11, “Ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me. I, even I, am the Lord; and beside me there is no saviour.”
Application: Take 5-10 minutes and mediate on these three Scriptures. Consider writing down some of the thoughts that come to mind. What do these verses tell us about God’s knowledge and power? What do they tell us about his knowledge of our life situation? What do these verses help us understand about God’s perspective of life on Earth? Think about how we can remind ourselves of these truths in the days to come.
Walking with God
God cares about our decisions and our life. He is aware, present, and involved. At times, however, this divine presence may not be clear or evident. It may feel as if we are diligently seeking and yet He remains silent. By faith we believe and know He is near, but the perception of his silence may be more persistent. Periods like this happen to every believer from time to time, and often it is not fully possible to know why. During these times self-examination in light of the Word is good. However, during difficult times of searching for direction, be aware general distress can occur which can easily lead to self-questioning, over-analyzing, and using scripture out of context. Seek guidance and counsel from spiritually mature people and do not try to go through these times alone.
We don’t have to fear we are alone as we make decisions throughout life. As Jesus reminded His disciples in Mat. 10:29-31, “Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.” God knows our needs, desires, and cares. Take comfort. He knows our needs even before we ask (Mat. 6:8).
The Bible, God the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are all in perfect harmony. The safest and most blessed place to be during times of decision making and uncertainty is walking with the Lord by submitting to him, obeying the Holy Spirit, praying without ceasing, and reading the Word. As we become more acquainted with Jesus, we are comforted he will not leave us comfortless (John 14:18) and he will be with us both on the mountain top and in the valley. We can trust and depend on him believing he will guide us as we seek him.
Jer. 29:11-13, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.”
John 10:27, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:”
Application: Take 5-10 minutes to meditate on these verses. What do they teach about God’s care in times of decision making and uncertainty? What do they indicate about who God wants you to be? Think about how we can trust the promises in these verses even when we don’t have clarity or certainty in life.
Praying for Direction.
Fervent prayer is a key to requesting wisdom from God and submitting our will to his. God is a loving heavenly Father who wants the best for us. His plans and purposes are for our good and the benefit of His kingdom. Therefore, while submitting our will to God can be a difficult task, it also can provide us with great peace and comfort. God is good and trustworthy. He is willing and ready to give us wisdom to deal with issues we face. As Paul earnestly prayed in 2 Cor. 12:7-10 to have his “thorn in the flesh” removed so should we earnestly bring our requests before God. We must also realize, as Paul did in this passage, that submitting our requests to the Lord means we are entrusting him to answer as He knows best. Making adequate time for prayer can be a difficult challenge, but it must be a priority.
Jas. 1:5-6, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.
Mat. 7:7-8, “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.”
Application: We must all guard against viewing prayer to God in a manner similar to a “vending machine.” We don’t simply put in two prayers and out comes an answer. Sometimes God’s answers are not what we would have chosen. Give some thought to how we can be intentional about praying in a manner that brings our requests to God with thanksgiving (Phil. 4:6) while also being humbly mindful that we don’t always know what we need or what outcomes will be best in light of God’s plan (Rom. 8:26, 2 Cor. 12:9-10)
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