Bible Based Decision Making

“When we think, we generally use concepts that we have not invented ourselves but that reflect the shared understandings of our community” (White, 2015).

The question we need to ask ourselves is how much the Bible guides us and how much we are guided by our local culture (beliefs, behaviours, objects etc) and our own desires. We are told to,

(1) Begin with Prayer to God

Ask for guidance
“Do not be anxious about anything. Instead, in every situation, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, tell your requests to God” (Philippians 4:6).

Develop Godly wisdom
“But if anyone is deficient in wisdom, he should ask God, who gives to all generously and without reprimand, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without doubting” (James 1:5-6).

(2) Explore the True Bible Message

Basic guidance
We are reminded that – “Without consultation, plans are frustrated, But with many counsellors they succeed” (Proverbs 15:22).

The Bible provides clear directions about all aspects of our life through laws, principles and the lived experience of people over 4,000+ years. Our best counsellor is the Holy Scriptures, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path (Psalm 119:105).

“Be wise as serpents and harmless as doves” (Matthew 10:16)
We need to review the whole of God’s message for advice and guidance. Let’s look at just one small but powerful example. In Genesis 9:3 God tells Noah that “every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. I have given you all things, even as the green herbs. But you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood”. A basic Bible principle. Many thousands of years later the Bible records the Apostle Paul under inspiration advising Christian believers that:

  1.  ”if food causes my brother to stumble, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause my brother to stumble” (1 Corinthians 8:13) and
  2. “It is good not to eat meat or to drink wine, or to do anything by which your brother stumbles” (Romans 14:21).

Here we have a related Bible principle. We are clearly advised that if something we desire to do will weaken the faith of your brother or sister, we are to abstain.

(3) Trust, Acknowledge and Fear God

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not rely on your own understanding.
Acknowledge him in all your ways,
and he will make your paths straight.
Do not be wise in your own estimation;
fear the Lord and turn away from evil”
(Proverbs 3:5-7 NET).

“For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope” (Romans 15:4). Let us explore, reflect and see how we can apply biblical principles to our life.

References

White, B., (2015) World development report 2015: mind, society, and behavior, by the World Bank Group.

BibleCompass

February Glad Tidings Bible Crossword

crossword

Across
1 Jesus referred to Judas Iscariot as this (John 6:70)
6 Peter’s reply when Jesus asked whether he loved him (John 21:15)
8 The Ethiopian eunuch was reading from this book (Acts 8:28)
9 Bar-Jesus was this kind of prophet (Acts 13:6)
10 In the past (Acts 15:7) 11 Mordecai’s cousin (Esther 2:8)
14 Mary’s son would do this for his people (Matthew 1:21)
15 An angel was described as this (the original word is ‘satan’) (Numbers 22:22)
18 Esau’s alternative name (Genesis 36:1)
20 Baptised the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8:38)
23 Unwell (2 Samuel 13:5)
25 ______ heirs inherit together (Romans 8:17)
26 A proconsul at Achaia (Acts 18:12)
27 The first woman (Genesis 3:20)
28 Jesus was tempted to turn 7 down into this (Matthew 4:3)

Down
1 Evil things from within do this to you (Mark 7:23)
2 “More ___ than many sparrows” (Matthew 10:31)
3 An untruth (Matthew 4:2) 4 Given to Israel through Moses (John 1:17)
5 Jesus was in the wilderness for 40 ____ (Mark 2:19)
7 Jesus was tempted to turn these into food in the wilderness (Matthew 4:3)
10 He was diseased in his feet (1 Kings 15:23)
12 A wicked city (Genesis 13:13)
13 All this will be filled with God’s glory (Numbers 14:21)
14 Sarah’s original name (Genesis 17:15)
16 Temptation by this leads to sin (James 1:15)
17 Jesus did this in the wilderness (Matthew 4:2)
19 Mary anointed Jesus’ feet with this (John 12:3)
21 “The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the _____ of life” (1 John 2:16)
22 The first man (Genesis 2:19)
24 A priest in the time of Samuel (1 Samuel 3:1)
25 A blameless and upright man (Job 1:8)

A New Way of Thinking

God is pure and righteous and so He is totally separate from the thinking, desires, ambitions and ways of all men and women. Therefore, when we commit ourselves to God through baptism, He asks us to separate ourselves from the ways of the world and commit ourselves to His ways and principles. Thus the new way of life needs a new way of thinking:

“If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry” (Colossians 3:1-5).

In Galatians 5:16-24 Paul again shows how our thinking has to change. ‘Flesh’ stands for our sinful thoughts and ‘Spirit’ for Godly thoughts. He shows how they are opposites:

“… the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do”.

GALATIANS 5:19-21
THE WORKS OF THE FLESH ARE:

GALATIANS 5:22,23
THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT IS:

… sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

… love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

This shows clearly that there will be a continual struggle in our spiritual lives because “the fruit of the Spirit” (godliness) is very different from “the works of the flesh” (the ways of the world).

The apostle Paul also likens the change to taking off old clothes and putting on new ones. He tells us in Ephesians 4:22,24 to “put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires … and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness”.

 

So, What Does the Bible Say About Politics?

Should a Christian take an active part in politics to improve his or her country?

No. The Lord Jesus made no attempt to help rule his country. He resisted attempts to make him a ruler, and refused any position of power over others. The Lord knew that his Kingdom was “not of this world”, and that his first duty was to preach the gospel. A Christian should carefully avoid becoming mixed up with the affairs of the world.

Sometimes governments may do things that Christians cannot support — for example, going to war, or promoting gambling. Nevertheless as far as possible, a Christian should keep himself out of public affairs, and devote his energy to preaching the gospel and doing good to those in need; this was the example given by the Lord Jesus. (See John 6:15Luke 12:14John 18:36; 2 Timothy 2:4).

Should a Christian help others to gain political positions by voting in elections?

No. By voting a man shows that he is interested in politics, and a Christian should not be interested in politics. A Christian should accept whatever rulers God allows to be appointed, and pray that God will help them rule wisely. (See Daniel 4:25; Proverbs 2l:1; 1 Timothy 2:12).

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Decisions, Decisions

Life is full of decisions. Whether we think about them or not, our life is made of moments in time when we have to make this choice, that choice or another choice.

There are basic ‘everyday’ choices that we might take for granted, such as “What shall I wear today?” or “What shall I eat today?” There are more complex ‘life’ choices: “Who are those I choose to be my friends?”, “What do I choose to do with my time, my effort, my money?”, “Where and what do I choose to study or work for?” Sometimes we have plenty of time to mull over our thoughts, run them past others, discuss them at length; other decisions we make are instantaneous, reactive and spontaneous.

Every choice brings an opportunity to make a decision. Every opportunity to make a decision is an opportunity to include God in the life we live – however small or huge that decision may seem. God is looking for those who make their decisions considering Him first, with His Son at the centre of the choice being made and with His word at the heart of what they do.

This is the exercise of our conscience. With the word of God in mind – what is right, and what is wrong? Why is it right, or why is it wrong?

Some answers are clear, others are not and we must take care to recognise that life is not full of decisions we can always boil down to black and white. Yet in all our decisions God is looking for us to exercise our ability to choose His ways above our own and that of others who demand our allegiance.

“We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).

Life is full of choices. Not everyone’s choices will be the same and the extent of the choice we have as individuals will depend on the circumstances and opportunities with which we are presented. However, each choice and the decision can impact deeply on our ability to keep God at the front of our thinking. Godly choices, decisions made based on a desire to do the will of God and bring Him glory, will undoubtedly bring us into conflict with those who do not share God’s values and principles; for this we should be prepared. Jesus’ advice was for us to focus our minds clearly on God’s promise of the kingdom:

“Seek first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness.” (Matthew 6:33)

EDWARD CARR – Faith Alive

Who do we worship?

How, when, where, why and whom do we worship? Whose example should we follow? Whose should we not? What was worship like in the time of Abraham? And what might it be like in the kingdom of God?

The Bible is full of examples of true and false worship. True worship exalts the God of Israel, whereas false worship exalts other things or other people above God, often to the extent of denying His power and existence altogether.

Throughout the Bible, we are warned to avoid such false worship, often called idolatry. For millennia, it was common practice among the nations to devise gods who ruled over specific things like the harvest, fertility, rain or sun. Although these gods were said to have power over the elements, worshipping them was ultimately about a human desire for power and control. If a nation wanted rain, they offered sacrifices to the god of the rain. If they wanted to win a battle, they offered sacrifices to the god of war. Far from seeking a personal relationship with their gods and serving them in love, the question on their minds was: “What can this god do for me?”

Our idols do not live on Mount Olympus, and we do not build household shrines for them into the walls of our living rooms. They are less obvious, more subtle, more insidious. They are hobbies and money, work and friends. They are the things that distract us from putting God first. Often, our biggest idol is our pride and our ego: “What makes me feel happy? How can I look after number one?”

True worship takes the focus off self and directs our attention towards God. The God of Israel, whom we love and serve, asks for a humble attitude of mind, a gentle spirit and a heart willing to seek out the truth. True worship exalts God and acknowledges that He is in control. Rather than demanding things of God, true worship is about thankfulness and praise for the gifts He gives us.

God is not asking you to build an altar and burn animals on it. Instead, He asks for your commitment, loyalty and love. So let us offer our lives as living sacrifices, and honour our God by trying to imitate Him in all that we say and do.

God is spirit, and the people who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” John 4:24

from Faith Alive

Who is Your King: Thoughts from 2 Samuel Chapters 3-4

aaron-burden-287555 (1)The great and decisive question in life is not what we achieve, nor how good we become, and certainly not how much we acquire. It is, who is your king? It will do no good at all to be highly successful, seriously virtuous, and even ridiculously wealthy if you are on the wrong side of God at the judgement seat of Christ. Likewise, even if you achieve little, have a deeply flawed character, and lose everything, but have the right king, all will be well. This simple point is difficult for us to grasp because we hate the idea that we are weak, that we are sinners and that we are not masters of our own destinies. We love to pretend that we are in control.  The truth is that we are utterly dependent on our King.

We need a king who is powerful for us, one who is able to save us from our enemies and one that can give us security. If we have such a king, all is well. If we do not, then our lives will ultimately end in failure. This does not mean that how we live is unimportant. On the contrary. But it does mean that what our King does is more important. The King of whom I speak is of course our Lord Jesus Christ. Those who belong to him know well that his powerful goodness is decisive. Of course, with Jesus as our King, how we live, what we do with our money and what we do with our life does matter. But it does not matter as much as having him as our King. [Read more]