Making Godly Decisions

by Sewell Hall
via Biblical Insights, Vol. 7, No. 12, Dec. 2007

"What Does God Want Me To Do?"

This question will dominate every decision by a truly godly person. The apostle Paul wrote, "We make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him" (II Corinthians 5:9). Again, "Be diligent to present yourself approved to God" (II Timothy 2:15).

It seems especially urgent that gospel preachers, who ask and receive support from a church, ask where God would have them work. This is not always easy to determine. If a man's goal is to preach for money, he can easily compare the financial package offered by various churches. If his desire is a big church, counting the names in church directories is all that is necessary. If he is looking to be as close as possible to family, a road atlas can settle that for him. But if he is seeking to do God's Will, that is harder to decide.

Determining what God would have us do is an awesome task. My friend, "When you have weighed all the options, giving priority to what God would approve, you are not likely to make a mistake whatever you choose to do." I have found that a useful thought many times.

When God Says, "No"

Sometimes after a struggle to know God's Will, it rather suddenly seems to be clear. We dismiss all other options, begin to make whatever sacrifices might be required, and start preparing to do what we are confident God would have us do. There is a sense of relief that the decision is made and we plunge into our new purpose with the zeal that naturally comes from a clear conscience. Then after a considerable investment of time and energy, when we are on the verge of "doing God's Will", suddenly the door closes. It can be a shattering experience. The Joe Works family recently experienced this after nearly a year of deciding and preparing in the past. Brazil denied them the expected visa.

Of course, the Works are not the only ones who have known such disappointment. Most of us have had such an experience -- maybe several of them. Some Bible characters were disappointed in their efforts to please God.

Sometimes God has someone else to do the job. David was certain that it was right for him to build a temple for God (II Samuel 7). The prophet Nathan even agreed with him. But God said, "No". David was disappointed, but went ahead and made plans and preparations that were helpful to Solomon whom God did desire to build the temple.

It may be that the time is just not right and God sees something else more urgent. It is said of Paul, Silas, and Timothy: "Now when they had gone through Phrygia and the region of Galatia, they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the Word in Asia. After they had come to Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit did not permit them" (Acts 16:6,7). The result was that Luke joined them, the gospel was preached in Macedonia and Achaia, and later Paul preached three years in Asia.

Sometimes it is not God's Will that we do what we prefer. Even our Lord prayed three times, "O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will" (Matthew 26:39). It did not pass; it was not God's Will that it pass. A closing door may be God's answer: it is just not His Will.

"Have Thine Own Way, Lord"

On his Internet hymn annotation, Wayne Walker recently related the background of the familiar hymn, "Have Thine Own Way, Lord." He says:

The text was written by Adelaide Addison Pollard, who was born November 27, 1862. In 1902, at the age of forty and still single she made plans to go to Africa as a missionary teacher under the leadership of a man named Sanford. When she was on the verge of preparing to sail, at the last minute her funding failed and she was forced to cancel her trip. The discouraged woman attended a prayer meeting and, while sitting quietly, heard someone make the following statement: "It's all right Lord! It doesn't matter what You bring into our lives. Just have your own way with us." Thinking about these words on her way home, she put the hymn on paper before retiring that night.

Doubtless, this hymn has accomplished more for the glory of God than her mission to Africa would have accomplished. May God give us the grace to accept His "No" as these words suggest:

Have Thine own way, Lord!
Have Thine own way!
Thou are the potter,
I am the clay.

Mold me and make me
After Thy will,
While I am waiting,
Yielded and still.

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