(The following is an outline of the message preached by Michael Larsen on September 13, 2020.)
In times of crisis, there are 7 typical ways that people react to a crisis. They’re actually more like stages we go through, and you may go through every one of them. But my goal is to get you to stage seven.
1. Denial. Some people might say, “This is not my problem.”
2. Dismissal. Okay, it’s my problem, but it’s only a small problem that won’t affect me.
3. Defiance. I don’t care what they say. I’m not going to let this limit my freedom.
4. Delayed Acceptance. “Okay, it is a big deal and it will affect me.”
5. Disruption. Hmmm. I’m going to have to make some tough choices.
6. Distress. Oh, no! What am I going to do?
7. Determination. “With God’s grace, we’re going to get through this together. With God’s grace, we will make it.”
How does trusting God make tough choices easier? First let’s recall last week’s message from James 1:5-8:
If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.
From the first 8 verses, we got 5 very practical responses:
2. Request. Ask for wisdom.
3. Relax. Trust God.
4. Remember that all things come to an end.
5. Ask God for the faith to endure to the end.
Let me define what I mean by a tough choice. A tough choice isn’t necessarily a significant choice. You can have a tough choice deciding what to wear or what to eat. A tough choice means none of the options is obviously more favorable than the other. Now, in those kind of situations where you can’t find an obvious advantage to one or the other, since you can’t decide, you might just think, Well, I’ll just flip a coin. Please don't do that because that is giving your power to choose to a game of chance. And you don’t want to do that. Your ability to choose, your freewill, your ability to make decisions is one of God’s greatest gifts to you.
Today I want to share 3 ways that we get God’s wisdom. And then, I’ll share 3 reasons why trusting God makes decision easier.
3 Ways we get God’s wisdom
1. God promises to give me his wisdom when I trust God and put Him first.
And that's what I need when I have to make one of those tough choices where there’s no clear advantage to one or the other. James chapter one, verse five says this. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should pray. You should pray and ask God because he gives it generously to anyone who asks.
Psalm 111:10 says, “Reverence for the Lord is the foundation of all true wisdom.” Now, it says reverence for God gives you wisdom. What's reverence? Reverence means to honor, it means to respect, it means to give priority to, it means you trust God. When you trust God, God says I will give you my wisdom.
2. God promises to give me his wisdom when I practice God's Word in my life.
Not just trust God, but practice his Word in my life. Now, the Bible is filled with wisdom. But you don't get the wisdom simply by reading the Bible. You get God's wisdom by applying the Bible to your life, by doing what God says to do. In John 13:17, Jesus said, “Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.”
Why should I practice what God tells me to do? 2 Samuel 22:31 says, “God's way is always perfect. And God's Word is always true.” If I do it God’s way and I follow God’s word, then I'm going to do the right thing at the right time.
James 1:25, “But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.” If you look into God's perfect Word, which gives you freedom, and you continue to do so, in other words you make it a habit of daily Bible reading or daily listening to the Word of God, and you continue to do this, not forgetting what you've learned, and then you put it into practice in your life, God promises you will be blessed in everything you do.
3. God promises to give me his wisdom when I get some godly people in my life.
Proverbs 13:20 says, “If you keep company with wise people, you'll become wise.
But if you hang out with foolish people, you'll suffer from making bad choices because they make bad choices.”
Trusting God makes decisions easier. Why?
1. Trusting God will make decisions easier because he frees me from second-guessing myself.
If you’ve done the first three things – 1. trust God and put Him first, 2. practice God's Word in your life, and 3. get some godly people in our life, then you're going to know that your decision was the right one.
James 1:6-8 says when you ask God for wisdom, you can't be double-minded. 6 But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7 That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8 Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do. Don't expect to receive anything from God if you're doubting and double-minded. It blocks your prayers. Being indecisive keeps us from receiving what God wants to give us. Trusting God makes tough choices easier because God frees us from self-doubt and second-guessing.
2. Trusting God will make decisions easier because he acts on my behalf.
God is not moved by our whining or our complaining. But God moves into action, he moves mountains, he moves barriers in our lives when we trust him.
3. Trusting God will make decisions easier because he uses even my mistakes.
When I make the decision in faith, and I make the decision trusting God, God says this in Romans 8:28. “We know that God causes everything,” that's even my mistakes. “We know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those of us who love him and are called to live his purpose for us.” If you love God and you really want his purpose for your life, you can't miss God's will. Even if you make a wrong decision, God says that's okay, I'll bring good out of it. I'll fit it into the plan. I'll use it for good. You can relax.
That's an amazing thing to remember when you have a tough decision to make.
Even if I choose the wrong thing, but I'm doing it in faith, I'm doing it with a good conscience, I'm doing it trying to honor God, God says I will use this for good in your life. That's not a promise for everybody. It's a promise for those who love God and who are trying to live by his will.