Summary: A message about fleeces and confirming signs. When they can be used, when they can't. Pitfalls with and benefits of.
Making Decisions; Fleeces and Confirming Signs
Advertising can be defined as psychological warfare waged on the consuming public by advertisers who are attempting to influence and manipulate our purchasing decisions.
And it works.
In college in a psych class, I read one example that the day after Tide had a commercial on national tv they sold 90,000 more units.
The other week I was driving, and kablam my wife hauled off and belted me on the arm. I asked what's up and she told me she had just seen a Volkswagen. I'm like yeah, and? Apparently there is a commercial where if you see a Volkswagen you get to punch the person next to you. I don't know how it has impacted Volkswagen sales, but punches are up 400% across the nation.
If you think companies would spend millions of dollars on advertising just hoping they might work, you are very mistaken. They consult psychiatrists, and psychologists, and focus groups all in an attempt to maximize their influence on you.
The point I want to make through this, is that their are a lot of little nudges we get in life that impact and affect our decision making process. Last Sunday, I preached on small seeds. This is a corollary message. Divorce doesn't just happen, a small seed is planted. adultery just doesn't happen, a small seed is planted. People don't just get saved, a seed is planted, watered and ultimately harvested. We talked about being careful about the seeds that are being implanted into our spirits and those of our spouse, children. Get the message, if you weren't here last Sunday.
This morning I want to talk about making decisions, and especially the role of fleeces and confirming signs. Influences in our decision making process.
Read text Gen 24:1-27
In this passage of scripture Elieazar, Abraham's servant, put a fleece before the Lord so that God would confirm to him that he was making the right decision.
Wouldn't it be nice every time you had to make a big or important decision that we got a sign from God on what we ought to do. I mean something that would dramatically demonstrate to us that we were on the right track and going in the right direction. That would erase all doubt, and that we could confidently say, "I know I am walking in the Lord's will."
First church I went to pastor, Orilla Youker a lead woman in the church was in the hospital with a blockage. I prayed, it opened up that day, they voted me in. We both took it as a confirming sign I was to pastor that church.
Confirming signs are nice, but the heart can always find one when it wants to:
Illustration: A flight attendant spent a week's vacation in the Rockies. She was captivated by the mountain peaks, the clear blue skies, and the sweet smelling pines. But she also was charmed by a very eligible bachelor who owned and operated a cattle ranch and lived in a log cabin. At the end of this week, Mr. Wonderful proposed. But it had all happened so quickly that the woman decided to return home and to her job, feeling that she would somehow be guided to make the right decision. The next day, in flight, she found herself wondering what to do. To perk up, she stopped in the rest room and splashed some cool water on her face. There was some turbulence and a sign in the rest room lit up: PLEASE RETURN TO THE CABIN. She did--to the cabin back in the mountains (Reader's Digest [1/81], p. 118)
Illus: Girl I knew was wondering what school to go to, in her devotions she read about Bethany concluded it was God's will for her to go to Bethany Bible College.
While God may have wanted her to go there the bible says, 2Pe 1:20 But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is [a matter] of one's own interpretation, (NASB), and yet people put personal spins on the scripture all the time.
Illus: Guy who is thinking about buying a black Ford pickup, all of a sudden he sees them everywhere. He is tickling his own ears.
Simple decisions usually need a simple decision-making process. But difficult decisions typically involve issues like these:
Uncertainty - Many facts may not be known.
Complexity - You have to consider many interrelated factors.
High-risk consequences - The impact of the decision may be significant.
Alternatives - Each has its own set of uncertainties and consequences.
Interpersonal issues - It can be difficult to predict how other people will react.
Emotional confusion we do not live in a contaminant free clean room environment.
Pressure to act, by circumstances, family, friends, coworkers