Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: How can we make decisions that are most glorifying to God and resulting in His blessing of our lives? When you surrender your decision-making process to God; God will guide and direct you in your decision-making process.

Opening illustration: Listen to this description of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster in northern Ukraine (summary of the report): "There were two electrical engineers in the control room that night, and the best thing that could be said for what they were doing is they were 'playing around' with the machine. They were performing what the Soviets later described as an unauthorized experiment. They were trying to see how long a turbine would 'free wheel' when they took the power off it.

"Now, taking the power off that kind of a nuclear reactor is a difficult, dangerous thing to do, because these reactors are very unstable in their lower ranges. In order to get the reactor down to that kind of power, where they could perform the test they were interested in performing, they had to override manually six separate computer-driven alarm systems.

"One by one the computers would come up and say, 'Stop! Dangerous! Go no further!' And one by one, rather than shutting off the experiment, they shut off the alarms and kept going. You know the results: nuclear fallout that was recorded all around the world, from the largest industrial accident ever to occur in the world." This city, which formerly had 55,000 people, is now largely abandoned.

The instructions and warnings in Scripture are just as clear. We ignore them at our own peril, and tragically, at the peril of innocent others. (Bobby Scobey, Cornerstone Church) Let us turn to Ruth 1

Introduction: Decisions determine destiny. Your life tomorrow will be the direct result of the decisions you make today. In the first five verses of Ruth we encounter a man named Elimelech, a man whose destiny was indeed determined by his decisions. The Bible tells us that he was a Hebrew of the tribe of Judah. As such, he was privileged to have extended to him the promises of God. Sadly, Elimelech failed to realize the fullness of those promises. Being a Hebrew, he had been taught the absolute truths of God's revelation of man. Though the Old Testament had not been completed at the time of Elimelech's life, he did have the divine truth of the Pentateuch (Genesis through Deuteronomy). Elimelech, however, chose to make critical life decisions based on human rationale instead of God's divine leading. We can learn three principles from Elimelech's decision-making.

What happens when you MAKE the WRONG DECISIONS? When you make decisions based on human rationale instead of divine leading …

1. You distance yourself from the blessings and promises of God (vs. 1-2)

Names in the Bible are very significant. We miss a great deal in our Bible study if we fail to note the meanings of names. The name Elimelech means, "My God is king."' It could also mean "God is my king."' What a great name for a man to have! Imagine what it must have been like for Elimelech to go to the marketplace in Bethlehem. As he made his way through the crowds people would say to him in essence, "Hello, Mr. God Is My King.” His name made a personal theological statement. Regretfully, Elimelech did not live up to his name. He chose to rule his own life by leaving Bethlehem of Judah to go to the land of Moab. The children of Israel were to live exclusively in the Promised Land. God had made that clear through Moses (Deuteronomy 6:1). Therefore, Elimelech's sojourning was an act of disobedience.

The word Bethlehem means "house of bread." The word Judah means "praise." In Psalms 108:9, we read of the Lord's evaluation of Moab. God said, "Moab is my washpot" (KJV). In other words, in God's sight, Moab was like a pot that one would use to wash his feet-a pot that was common and filthy. Elimelech left the house of bread and the land of praise to journey about thirty miles away to a filthy wash pot. Though there was a famine in Bethlehem, he would have been far better off to have stayed there, for Bethlehem was the place God had designed for Elimelech and his family. Instead, he sojourned to what he thought was a better place. He disregarded and dismissed the directives of God and set out based on what he himself thought was best. The result was not the best it was the worst. Such is always the case. His journey to Moab was one of disobedience. Subsequently, he put distance between himself and the place of God's blessings and promises. Christians do the same thing when they make decisions based on human rationale instead of divine leading. They leave the house of bread and the place of praise and journey to the wash pot. They put distance between themselves and the blessings and promises of God.

I will never forget the words of an old preacher. He told me once, "Christians are bad about walking past the honey comb to eat out of the slop bucket." Perhaps he was well acquainted with the meaning of the word Moab and had adopted it to his own vocabulary. Marriages, families, careers, and reputations become wash pots (slop buckets if you will) when God's people make their own decisions instead of following God's directions. Have you considered the fact that the Bible is a record of God's directions? Many a times when I counsel people, I often hear people say they need to pray about decisions which God has already made clear in His Word. All they really mean is they have not yet decided to obey. You do not have to pray for wisdom about matters stated in God's Word. Pray all you wish, but God will never give new revelation in addition to the Bible. You need only to obey what He has already said. When you submit to Scripture, you take sides with God and position yourself in the arena of His blessing. When you do as Elimelech did and make decisions which seem right from the human perspective, you distance yourself from God's blessings.

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