Friday, January 1, 2010

How Do We Make Wise Decisions?

Opening his newest series "Deal or No Deal", Johnson Bowie explains what the basic premise of the game show is.  Basically, you have a series of decisions that you have to make over the course of the show.  Where wisdom comes in is, you have to either take an "offer from the Bank" or you have to make more decisions which could increase or decrease your offer.  All the while you have your friends and family on the side screaming out to you telling what to do.   There is always this one friend in the corner who keeps saying "Take the deal!!"  Then there is always the one saying, "go for the million dollars! Go all the way!" What we are talking about here is , how we can make great choices, not on a game show, but in life. We are living with the repurcussions of bad decisions even now, but going forward, we want our choices to be wise. 
Our entire life, on a tombstone, is going to be summed up by a dash.  We are born in one year and die in another and the dash in between is our life.  What we need to realize is that our life is the sum total of our decisions.  That is how important this subject is.  We've probabely all met the 50 or 60 year old person who seem to be reliving their past replaying how things would have been or could have been different if they had only made wiser choices; if they had held their tongure, if they had only reached out, if they had married the right person, if they had not gotten a divorce, etc.  God doesn't want us to live a life of regret. 

On any given Wednesday, Johnson will drink a lot of caffeine during the day.  Even though he knows he will be bug-eyed if he drinks too much, he still will make the same mistake each Wednesday.  But we've all done these dumb things in our life and we want to be able to consistently make great choices. 

Our country is jacked up because of our unwise decisions as a country.   Recently, Johnson was in Charleston for a wedding.  During his stay, he and his family went to Fort Sumter.  Afterwards, they went to this humongous historical estate.  The house was magnificent.  What struck Johnson was how, when they toured the plantation and went to the slaves' quarters, it was so obvious how much injustice existed in our history.  The homes of the slaves were small, cramped and dark.  It was shameful.  Then, when Johnson went to attend the wedding, the father of the bride and the bride were both nearly drunk.  Already, they were making some bad choices.  Their memories of the wedding was going to be non-existent.  Johnson knows a guy in prison because of bad financial decisions he has made.   He knows the woman who married a crack addict.  These are bad choices and once we make some of these bad decision, it can be very hard or impossible to get out. 

On the flip side, Johnosn knows the people who made good decisions.   He knows the girl who chose not to abort her child,  He knows the guy who prayed about the right college to attend.  He knows about keeping sexual purity and how that has transformed lives.  Why are older people so wise?  Because many of them have lived the trial and error life and they know the truths of life.  But God doesn't want us to live by trial and error!  What if we could start makeing good decisions always, right now?!?   Wouldn't it be a testimony to Jesus if we can say we followed Jesus and made some great choices?   Instead of us being on unemployment, being heavily in debt, being on the HIV program etc. 

There are big macro decisions we make in life,  Generally, the three biggest are, "Who's your master?, Who's your spouse and What is your mission?"  Proverbs speaks directly to the second question.  It says "It is better to be on the corner of a rooftop than in the house of a nagging wife."  Most of us are all really in the middle of making at least two of these important decisions.   There are also many micro decisions we make every day, like "Should I go to Fusion tonight?  Should I have a quiet time today? Should I burn the coffee?"  We have to have wisdom for our small decisions as much as we need that same wisdom for our big decisions.   Wise choices can't just be a single event.  Marriage, for instance, can't happen in 55 minutes like it did with Brittany Spears.   There has to be a series of events involving a string of questions which work towards a primary event. 

In this message, Johnson wants to focus on the importance of using wisdom in every decision of our lives.  Recently, he was flipping through a magazine and came across this adult basketball camp sponsored by Michael Jordan.  This article was primarily for people who had no hope of making a basketball career for themselves but who had enough money to pay a pro like Jordan to teach them.  It seemed crazy at first to Johnson, but he thought about it and realized it wasn't that crazy after all.  If you wanted to learn to sing, wouldn't you like to learn from Celine Dion?   What if you could learn about golf from Tiger Woods?  We want to learn about the subject matter from the best, right? 

Well, what if we could learn about life from the only sinless person who ever lived?  What if we could live like Jesus?   Do you remember when Jesus was out in the Desert at the very beginning of His ministry?  He was out there for 40 days and 40 nights.  He was out there, having fasted, completely drained and completely exhausted.  Then, after this long ordeal, that is when Satan came.  This is what Satan does in our lives.  He comes when we are drained and tired.  With Jesus, Satan tried to take Him off course from His purpose.  He only wanted to pull Jesus out of God's will. 

Satan asks Jesus if He is hungry.  Then he suggests that Jesus make bread from the stones.  But Jesus says, in Matthew 4:4, "It is written man does not live by bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.  Then, Satan wisks Jesus to the top of a building, telling Him to throw Himself over the heads of people and angels would save swoop down and save Him. Jesus responds with, "It is written, do not put the Lord your God to the test."   Then Satan tells Jesus that if He will only worship him, he will spare Jesus fromt the cross.  Jesus responds again with scripture, "It is written, worship the Lord your God and serve Him only.  So...Our first question, when we are face with making wise decisions is, Is it written?  We can only make wise decisions when we know what the will of God is and the will of God is in the Word of God. 

Before King David was king, Saul had sent his men after David because he was fearful that David would replace him.  David's men knew that he had been annointed the next king and they wanted to kill Saul, but when the opportunity of all opportunities arose, what did David do?  Saul took a break from his men to go the bathroom alone in a cave where David and his men were hiding!  David's men were adament about killing Saul.  "Take the deal, David!!  C'mon!!"   But David must have gotten this Divine Morse Code.  He chose to wait.  Why would he wait?   Could it be that maybe David asked himself, "Is it written?"   The Bible says "Thou shalt not kill". 

"Should I burn this CD for my friend or not.   Sure, I save money and sure, I will be seen as cool.  But is it written?  "Thou shalt not steal".  Often we choose to make decisions based on how we feel, but Johnson says, "Heck, I didn't FEEL like getting out of bed this morning!  Besides, what if you are making a decision about sex at a time when it really feels good?   Your feelings will mess you up nearly every time!"  We have to ask the question, "Is it written?" 

The second foundational question is, Is it Love?  Matthew 22 asks "what is the meat behind the ministry?   It talks about love; "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul and all your mind.  Love your neighbor as yourself."  Jesus, his entire life, was motivatied by love.  Jesus ignored the laws of men and said "(basically) Screw that.  I am going to love these people and bless them." 

Love can look different when you are dealing with different people .  Some people need to be smacked upside the head with the word of God.  Sometimes, you have to show people mercy.  Is it written and is it love?  Those will help us make great

I Corinthians 13  lays out the the whole idea of what love is in the eyes of God. It says;

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

They very last thing said about love is I Corinthians14:1  which says to follpw the way of love.  Once we know then, what love is in these verses, then we can respond according to this verse. 

The third question to consider when makeing decisions is, Is it on the agenda?  Somehow, in the mind of God, He has a will for this world.  Luke 19 says the son of man came to seek and to save that which was lost.  That was his life, so when Satan came to Jesus, he knew what was written, what was love and what was the agenda?  God had an agenda!  Somehow, when we can know what God's purpose of our life is, we can make excellent choices. 

In Mark 16, Jesus tells us to go into all the world an preach the good news to everyone...That basically is the purpose for each one of us, but in different packages.  These three foundational questions are going to get you on the right track, but there are also personal life questions that will enable us to drill down and answer these questions further.  These questions will be addressed later in the "Deal or No Deal" series.

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