MANY VOICE, CAREFUL CHOICES?
(All my sermon use illustrations from www.sermoncentral.com and the scripture is NIV unless otherwise noted.)
I am pretty sure that all of us want to make wise choices, I feel confident that we would all instruct our children to be careful when making choices, because we know that there is bad advice out there. There are some things that are fairly easy to see. FOR INSTANCE:
1. Letting the cat out of the bag is a whole lot easier then putting it back in.
2. If you are riding ahead of the herd, you should look back every now and then to make sure they’re still there.
3. If you think you are a person of some influence, try ordering somebody else’s dog around.
4. Never kick a cow patty on a hot day.
5. There are two theories to arguing with a woman. (Neither one works.)
6. If you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.
7. Never slap a man who’s chewing tobacco.
8. After eating an entire bull, a mountain lion felt so good he started roaring. He kept on roaring until a hunter came along and shot him.
THE MORAL: When you’re full of bull, keep your mouth shut.
What seems like many years ago I was asked to be the speaker at 5-6th grade camp in New Castle, Colorado. Actually I had the honor of speaking to this age group for five consecutive years, and each year I was awed at the response we got when we invited these kids to accept Christ. Each year I tried to come up with something that would be new and fresh for these kids and rivet there attention. One year, I had them blindfold a volunteer, then they set up a bunch of obstacles all over the floor of the room, I instructed the volunteer, to attempt to come to my voice and the person who did it fastest would win a prize. The other kids were going to tell them what way they needed to go, how to avoid the obstacles and get to me. Of course the kids were screaming, telling the blindfolded victim to go this way and that, it was a great illustration of how many voices there are in the world, that continually distract us and keep us from hearing the One we really need to hear. In order to filter those voices and distractions we need to have DISCERNMENT.
In the Old Testament the word translated discernment or discerning speaks of one who has insight, good sense, and wisdom. The discernment here speaks mostly about those who have understanding and respond to the Lord and His instruction. Most of the passages speaking of discernment come from the book of Proverbs, which we believe was written by Solomon, (who asked God for Wisdom) In the New Testament the word really only shows up once, although we learn about discernment in many other places. It means to examine, interpret, test and approve; it also is speaking of understanding and responding to God and His instruction.
The Book of James tells us James 1:5-8
If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. 6 But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7 That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.
Discernment is essential in making wise choices. It is a very valuable resource to have in the world we live in, and can be easily obtained by simply slowing down, and listening to God.
With all the voices of the world pulling us in so many directions it is most difficult to hear God’s voice! We must learn to find time to be alone with God and understand that being still and hearing God is as much a part of prayer as is telling God of our needs. If we truly desire God’s wisdom, the ability to discern, we must accept His Word and never try to manipulate the answer to fit our need. Our prayers are not always answered the way that we would like them to be. Prayer for discernment means asking God what is best for us in any given situation, and then accepting His answer. Not always an easy thing to do.
DISCERNMENT I. BY PRAYER
James 5:13-15 Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. 14 Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven.
(We get discernment by praying with a believing attitude, when we ask God for discernment, He will provide it vs. 1:5 says so. When we are in trouble, happy or sick we should pray.) Many voices, careful choices!
(I love some of the Old Hymns, because they say it all, “ O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear, all because we do not carry, everything to God in prayer.” Neglecting to pray is one way to allow Satan to steal our peace and our joy.)
Yet perhaps the most important point that James makes, as He tells us to pray for the wisdom, and make good choices, is that we must fully accept what God has told us to do. OR PRAY WITH FAITH
So many times we pray asking God for protection, health, help with finances, and then we act as if God is not going to answer the prayer. We get discernment when we accept, in faith, that God will answer the prayer, and we show this through our actions.
There was a man who was having some very serious financial problems. He went to his pastor and told him of all his troubles. The Pastor told him that if he would pray then God would provide for his needs. So the man went home that night and prayed “Dear Lord please let me win the lottery so that I can pay all my bills. Thank you. Amen.” So the lottery came and went and the man did not win. So he went back to his pastor to ask why God hadn’t answered his prayer. The pastor told him that you must have faith; if you have enough faith then God will always answer your prayer. So the man went home and prayed even harder. “Dear Lord Please let me win the lottery. I believe that you can hear me and that you will answer my prayer. Thank you. Amen.” The lottery again came and went and he still did not win. He went back to his pastor and asked why God had not answered his prayer. The pastor told him that if he would repent and beg God for help He would surely help him. So he went home and started praying, “Dear God forgive me of my sins, I want to live for you Lord, Lord just please...” All the sudden a loud voice came from heaven “WOULD YOU PLEASE BUY A TICKET!”
Some times God is waiting for us to take the necessary action so that He can bless us. (Now buying a lottery ticket is not one of those actions, but it makes the point.)
ASK God for wisdom and then act upon the answer He will give.
DISCERNMENT by: II. KNOWLEDGE OF GOD’S WORD
Heb 5:11-14 We have much to say about this, but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn. 12 In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God