Deciding Factor

Genesis 13:10-18

10 Lot looked around and saw that the whole plain of the Jordan toward Zoar was well watered, like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt. (This was before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.) 11 So Lot chose for himself the whole plain of the Jordan and set out toward the east. The two men parted company: 12 Abram lived in the land of Canaan, while Lot lived among the cities of the plain and pitched his tents near Sodom.  13 Now the people of Sodom were wicked and were sinning greatly against the Lord.

14 The Lord said to Abram after Lot had parted from him, “Look around from where you are, to the north and south, to the east and west. 15 All the land that you see I will give to you and your offspring forever. 16 I will make your offspring like the dust of the earth, so that if anyone could count the dust, then your offspring could be counted. 17 Go, walk through the length and breadth of the land, for I am giving it to you.”

18 So Abram went to live near the great trees of Mamre at Hebron, where he pitched his tents. There he built an altar to the Lord.

Introduction

When our children were still very young, our first child said, “Let’s go to McDonald!” “Who demanded it?” I asked. She confidently answered, “I said it!” And sure, we decided to go not because it’s healthy but because all of us like to go. The demand of one child triggered the decision we made.

As the head of the family, I have made many impulsive and instinctive decisions when it comes to spending money. Someone said that when you go shopping your groceries, be sure that your stomach is full. If you are hungry, you will be more inclined to buy food you don’t suppose to buy.

How often do you decide on something impulsively or instinctively? What can we learn from the decision of Lot about instinctive decision?

1. Instinctive

10 Lot looked around and saw that the whole plain of the Jordan toward Zoar was well watered, like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt. This was before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah. 11 So Lot chose for himself the whole plain of the Jordan and set out toward the east. The two men parted company: 12 Abram lived in the land of Canaan, while Lot lived among the cities of the plain and pitched his tents near Sodom.  13 Now the people of Sodom were wicked and were sinning greatly against the Lord.

Previously, Abram told his nephew Lot that they have to part ways so that they can avoid quarreling. Abram let Lot choose first. Lot chose the plain of Jordan instinctively because it was well watered. No one needs to tell him that water and greener pasture were good for grazing animals.

Indeed, Lot decided by instinct and did not mind the wicked people of Sodom. Someone may say, “That’s common sense!” Human instinct agrees that Lot’s decision was right. Lot was not concerned much about the possible influence of the wickedness of the people of Sodom to him and his family. He was more concerned about his livestock.

Don’t we decide like Lot most of the time? We grab any job offer that may give us higher income. We don’t care much about how it affects our testimony as long as we get what our human inclination dictates.

But God would allow us to make instinctive decisions to teach us something. Even godly people made decision out of instinct and suffered the consequences. At one time, Moses the greatest leader of Israel made an instinctive decision that may have given him hard time regretting it.

Moses

In Exodus 2:11-15, 11 One day, after Moses had grown up, he went out to where his own people were and watched them at their hard labor. He saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his own people. 12 Looking this way and that and seeing no one, he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. 13 The next day he went out and saw two Hebrews fighting. He asked the one in the wrong, “Why are you hitting your fellow Hebrew?” 14 The man said, “Who made you ruler and judge over us? Are you thinking of killing me as you killed the Egyptian?” Then Moses was afraid and thought, “What I did must have become known.” 15 When Pharaoh heard of this, he tried to kill Moses, but Moses fled from Pharaoh and went to live in Midian.

The story tells us that Moses spent 40 years away from his family. Moses was very hesitant when God told him to go back to Egypt to lead the Israelites out of the Egyptian slavery, why? He might still regret what he did. Besides, he already tried to lead the Israelites when he was still strong.

Moses was already 80 years old when God commanded him to go back to Egypt. Instinctively, Moses might have presumed that if the Israelites did not listen to him when he was still living like prince in Pharaoh’s palace, would they listen to him that he was a shepherd?

If they did not listen to him when he was young, strong and educated with Egyptian eloquence, will they listen to him when he was old, weak, and may not even know or understand the language of that current generation?

Aren’t we like Moses? God is calling some of you to join the church leadership but hesitate because of no leadership experience. You say, “I’m not eloquent!” “I’m scared to stand before other!” “I’m needy!” You ask, “What if someone needs help?” “I have nothing to share!”

Someone humorously said that Elders and Deacons should be managers. He interpreted incorrectly 1 Timothy 3:5, 5If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?

In the original language, the word translated ‘family’ can also be translated ‘home’ or ‘house.’ Meaning, the ‘family’ includes those who live under one roof and not necessarily wife and children. What does it imply?

Elders and deacon should see to it that their family should follow biblical instruction. We observed that not a few church leaders and pastors who are devoted in serving the Lord tried their best to manage their family but cannot control the lifestyle of their children. When children reach adulthood maturity, they decide on their own. Parents cannot control it.

In Ephesians 6:1-4, 1Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise—“so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.” Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.

These commands for children to obey their parents and for parents to train their children in the Lord are godly commands that need the help of the Holy Spirit. Children and parents need God’s to obey His commands.

With God, there are unlimited resources we can avail of. When God told Abram that He will make his offspring like the dust of the earth that cannot be counted, God offered Abram His indefinite power and resources.

As believers, we should be aware that God’s indefinite power and resources are available for us even when making small or great decisions.

2. Indefinite

14 The Lord said to Abram after Lot had parted from him, “Look around from where you are, to the north and south, to the east and west. 15 All the land that you see I will give to you and your offspring forever. 16 I will make your offspring like the dust of the earth, so that if anyone could count the dust, then your offspring could be counted. 17 Go, walk through the length and breadth of the land, for I am giving it to you.”

Human instinct dictates that we need to be concerned what may benefit us when we decide. When Abram let his nephew Lot decided first, it showed his concerned not for himself but for Lot’s welfare. Can we assume that Abram relied upon God’s indefinite power for such decision?

Abram might want to be very sure that the Lord has given the land of Canaan to him. Remember, Abram was already old and he might have considered the possibility of being delusional in hearing God’s voice.

He let Lot to decide first to avoid instinctive decision. Interestingly, Lot decided not to choose the land of Canaan. It confirmed that Abram heard God’s promise clearly. Are you still doubting of God’s call for you to join the leadership ministry? You are not alone! Let’s learn from Gideon.

Gideon

Gideon doubted his leadership ability. In Judges 6:15-17, 15 “Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.” 16 The Lord answered, “I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites, leaving none alive.”  17 Gideon replied, “If now I have found favor in your eyes, give me a sign that it is really you talking to me. 

He made sure that God has chosen him. In Judges 6:36-40, 36 Gideon said to God, “If you will save Israel by my hand as you have promised— 37 look, I will place a wool fleece on the threshing floor. If there is dew only on the fleece and all the ground is dry, then I will know that you will save Israel by my hand, as you said.” 38 And that is what happened. Gideon rose early the next day; he squeezed the fleece and wrung out the dew—a bowlful of water. 39 Then Gideon said to God, “Do not be angry with me. Let me make just one more request. Allow me one more test with the fleece, but this time make the fleece dry and let the ground be covered with dew.” 40 That night God did so. Only the fleece was dry; all the ground was covered with dew.

The story teaches us that Gideon defeated the Midianites. Gideon did not doubt in the power of God to defeat the Midianites. He just wanted to confirm very clearly and not to have hasty or impulsive decision. He just wanted to totally rely upon God’s power.

If we have faith in Christ, is it possible to sense a little doubt? It says in John 20:24-25, 24 Now Thomas also known as Didymus (Twin), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”

Many believers don’t want to identify with Thomas but they ended defeated in their faith. It’s normal to have doubt in God even for believers. But don’t settle where you are in your spiritual life. Keep desiring to grow spiritually. Spiritual maturity is active. As we grow deeper in our relationship with God, we realize we need to grow deeper in our faith in Him.

Keep asking God to help you grow spiritually. Be intentional in your decision to grow spiritually mature in your faith.

3. Intentional

18 So Abram went to live near the great trees of Mamre at Hebron, where he pitched his tents. There he built an altar to the Lord.

When Abram decided to built an altar to the Lord, it demonstrated that he was very intentional in his relationship with God. He left the place where he parted with Lot because he might want to forget that agonizing chapter of his life. He was very intentional to move on in his life.

For many years, Lot has been under his care, and Abram might have loved his nephew like a son. That was why he would rather want them to separate instead of quarreling. It is really tough experience when someone dear to us leaves. But it is better that they left rather than quarrel with them.

Proverbs 16:3, 3Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.

In Psalm 37:3-7, Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this:  He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn, your vindication like the noonday sun. Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes.

Jephthah

One impulsive decision of a leader that resulted to unpleasant result was when Jephthah made vow to God. In Judges 11:30-31, 30 And Jephthah made a vow to the Lord: “If you give the Ammonites into my hands, 31 whatever comes out of the door of my house to meet me when I return in triumph from the Ammonites will be the Lord’s, and I will sacrifice it as a burnt offering.”

God gave Jephthah victory over the Ammonites but the result of his vow not what he expected. It says in Judges 11:34-36, 34 When Jephthah returned to his home in Mizpah, who should come out to meet him but his daughter, dancing to the sound of timbrels! She was an only child. Except for her he had neither son nor daughter. 35 When he saw her, he tore his clothes and cried, “Oh no, my daughter! You have brought me down and I am devastated. I have made a vow to the Lord that I cannot break.” 36 “My father,” she replied, “you have given your word to the Lord. Do to me just as you promised, now that the Lord has avenged you of your enemies, the Ammonites. 

This is one reason not to make any vow before the Lord or make decisions instinctively or impulsively. But what if we have already done something impulsively? What should we do?

Someone wrote, “Unsuccessful people make their decision based on their current situation. Successful people make decision based on where they want to be.” Instinctively, when something is wrong, we often make things right away because of different reasons. We want to be acceptable to others. We want to be relevant. We want to prove something. And, we worry about many things.

Christ teaches us in Matthew 6:25-33, 25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Why is it that many Christians still find it hard to put into practice how to seek God’s kingdom? To seek His kingdom is godly command. It is also godly command to not worry. But Christians still worry a lot, why?

Keep remembering that godly commands require godly effort.

To obey His command to seek first His kingdom and His righteousness and not to worry, we have to ask the Lord’s help, and pray: “Lord, help me to seek Your kingdom, to let Your righteousness reign in my heart, and help me not to worry about tomorrow. Instead, fill me and empower me with You Holy Spirit. Give me wisdom to decide on Your will.”

Like impulsive decision making, worry is human nature. Worry does not come from God. When the Lord righteousness reigns in our heart, there’s love joy peace patience, goodness, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Rest comes from Lord. He invites us to find rest in Him.

Each time you sense the urge to worry or anxiousness attack, and there’s urge to make impulsive decisions, keep asking the Lord to reign in your heart. Ask the Spirit of Christ to prevail, fill and empower you.

Pray and ask Christ to reign in your heart, now!

><(((‘> ltsii/2017 <‘)))><

 

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