Difficult Decisions (Acts 20-21)
We are in a message series called “Need Direction?” We’re talking about how you can know and follow God’s will for your life. God wants you to know His will, He wants to guide your decisions in life. Every believer acknowledges Jesus as Lord of their lives. That means that Jesus is the one who gives us direction for life. Every decision in life should be only made after consultation with God. When we make decisions on our own, without God’s help, is when we get into trouble.
God wants you to know and follow His guidance.
Isaiah 30:21 (NIV) Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”
God wants you to hear His voice as you walk through life. He promises to speak to you and show you the direction you need to go in life. We need to have ears that hear God’s voice.
Today, my message is entitled “Difficult Decisions.” Although God desires to guide us, sometimes the decisions we must make are difficult. Last Sunday, we talked about four main ways that God guides us. In order of importance:
- God’s Word is our most important guide. Whatever decision we make must be in keeping with the principles of the Bible.
- The guidance of the Holy Spirit, that voice within us that tells us the direction to go.
- Thirdly is godly counsel from other believers.
- Finally is the particular circumstances of the situation we are in.
Decisions can become difficult when these ways of guidance appear to conflict or when we introduce other ways of guidance. Some people are guided by their emotions, which are not reliable guides. Others are guided by ungodly counsel of people who aren’t following God. Sometimes, we have our heart set on wanting God to direct in a certain way. If He doesn’t appear to be going in the direction of our expectation, we don’t want to follow. In order to follow God’s direction, our will must be put in neutral. We must set our desires to follow God’s desires. The classic example is when Jesus prayed in the garden of Gethsemane.
Matthew 26:39 (NIV) Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”
Our will must be submitted to God’s will when we have difficult decisions to make. Many times, God’s will for our lives may involve suffering, just as in Jesus’ life.
Philippians 1:29 (NIV) For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him,
As believers, we must be prepared to embrace suffering when it is God’s will in order to fulfill our purpose in life.
Today, we are going to look at an interesting example from the life of Paul. Paul had just completed a very fruitful season of ministry in the city of Ephesus. But God was calling him to a make a difficult decision to travel to Jerusalem. Jerusalem was not a safe place for Christians, as the Jews were very antagonistic to the Gospel. So, we’re going to learn some principles from the life of Paul on how to make difficult decisions when some of the ways God guides seem to be in conflict.