THE MAKING OF GREAT DECISIONS

INTRODUCTION:

1.       For approximately six hundred years, Jerusalem and Judea were in a decline. The powerful Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar captured Jerusalem, claimed its spoil, and took many people captive.  Lets pick up an important story in (Daniel 1).

In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. And the Lord delivered Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, along with some of the articles from the temple of God. These he carried off to the temple of his god in Babylonia and put in the treasure house of his god.

 

Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, chief of his court officials, to bring in some of the Israelites from the royal family and the nobility—young men without any physical defect, handsome, showing aptitude for every kind of learning, well informed, quick to understand, and qualified to serve in the king’s palace. He was to teach them the language and literature of the Babylonians. The king assigned them a daily amount of food and wine from the king’s table. They were to be trained for three years, and after that they were to enter the king’s service.

 

Among these were some from Judah: Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. The chief official gave them new names: to Daniel, the name Belteshazzar; to Hananiah, Shadrach; to Mishael, Meshach; and to Azariah, Abednego.

 

But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way. Now God had caused the official to show favor and sympathy to Daniel, but the official told Daniel, “I am afraid of my lord the king, who has assigned your food and drink. Why should he see you looking worse than the other young men your age? The king would then have my head because of you.”

 

Daniel then said to the guard whom the chief official had appointed over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah,  “Please test your servants for ten days: Give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then compare our appearance with that of the young men who eat the royal food, and treat your servants in accordance with what you see.” So he agreed to this and tested them for ten days.

 

At the end of the ten days they looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food. So the guard took away their choice food and the wine they were to drink and gave them vegetables instead.

 

To these four young men God gave knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning. And Daniel could understand visions and dreams of all kinds.

At the end of the time set by the king to bring them in, the chief official presented them to Nebuchadnezzar. The king talked with them, and he found none equal to Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah; so they entered the king’s service. In every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king questioned them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters in his whole kingdom" (Daniel 1:1-20).

2.       These four Hebrew young men faced a very difficult situation. Their own nation crumbled to pieces and was completely destroyed before their own eyes. Then suddenly, they were given a tremendous opportunity to rise in their new nation. They would be trained, given special privileges, and then placed as rulers in key positions among their own people, possibly in their own land. But there was one problem, the change would also involve their religion. They would need to eat things that were not legal for Jews to eat. They would need to do things that would not be acceptable to God. Therefore, these four young men made a very courageous decision. They went God’s way rather than the appealing, lucrative, flattering way of the Babylonians. Their decision was one of the greatest and most thrilling recorded in the entire Bible. Their decision led them upward to greatness.

3.       The story in Daniel is an ideal introduction to the theme which I want to discuss with you this morning…The Making of Great Decisions.

4.       Throughout each of our lives, we constantly face the responsibility of making decisions. In fact, making decisions is both the most difficult and most important activity of our lives. The success which we achieve both here and hereafter depends largely upon the decisions that we make.

5.       This responsibility is both frightening and thrilling. It is frightening when we think of the magnitude of the effects of our decisions. It is thrilling to realize that we have the privilege of making these decisions. When God created man, he made him different from every animal on earth. Only man was made in the image of God and this included the privilege of being a people of choice. Man alone has the ability to make decisions and to determine his course in life and his ultimate destiny.

THIS MORNING, WE ARE GOING TO EXAMINE SEVERAL POINTS ON THE MAKING OF GREAT DECISIONS.

I.                    FIRST OF ALL, LETS LOOK AT AN OLD TESTAMENT EXAMPLE OF A GREAT DECISION.

1.      Throughout the Bible, we are introduced to hundreds and hundreds of characters. All are interesting, because they are real-life people in normal situations such as we face today.
 

2.      They are particularly interesting because we have the privilege of seeing them at the climactic moments in their lives when they make major decisions.

a.      For example, in (Gen. 12:1-3), we are introduced to a man named Abram…a man who had a difficult decision to make.  In (Gen. 1:1), God extended Abram this important invitation…

b.     Abram was living in Ur of Chaldees at the time which was the most advanced civilization of the day. God called him to leave Ur, with its known and familiar way of life and with its family and friends, in order to move into a strange new land which he had never seen before. Abram made a great decision to follow God’s directions. His decision eventually led to the development of a great nation - known as Israel which brought forth the savior of all mankind - Jesus Christ.  Abram's decision led him to move upward to greatness.

3.      Throughout our lives, God requires us to make important decisions…life changing decisions.  In fact, you may be facing an important decision right now in your life.  God may be calling you to a place of greater service and usefulness for Him.  If He is, don't let the comfort and security of your present position make you miss God's plan for you.  Make the decision that will move you upward to greatness. 

II.                  SECOND, LETS NOW LOOK AT A NEW TESTAMENT EXAMPLE OF A GREAT DECISION.

1.      The opening paragraph of the fifth chapter of Luke tells the thrilling story of Christ working a miracle among a group of Galilean fishermen.

a.      After Jesus had miraculously provided a great catch of fish, Peter fell down at Jesus’ knees and said, "Go away from me, Lord, I am a sinful man!" (Luke 5:8).  Jesus responded, "Don't be afraid, from now on you will catch men." (Luke 5:10).  The story ends with the words "so they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed Him (Jesus)" (Luke 5:11).

b.     Peter, Andrew, James and John made the decision to leave their home, occupation, and way of life to follow Jesus into the unknown future. In doing so, they made a decision that moved them upward to greatness.

2.      Both the Old & New Testament contain stories of people who made great decisions…decisions that impacted their lives and the Kingdom of God.

III.                THIRD, HERE ARE SOME SUGGESTIONS FOR MAKING GREAT DECISIONS.

1.      Every day we are faced with making important decisions…some minor and some are major. Just how are we to make these decisions? What guidelines are there? Let me suggest a few.

(1)         SUGGESTION 1 - EVERY DECISION MUST BE MADE IN A WAY THAT PLEASES GOD.

1.      When we make decisions that please God, we will be blessed.  So before any decision is made, we should ask the question…will this decision please God.

(2)         SUGGESTION 2 - OUR DECISIONS MUST NOT BE MADE IN HASTE, BUT ONLY AFTER WE HAVE EXAMINED ALL THE FACTS.

1.      In (Luke 15), we read the story of the prodigal son. Rashly and without full consideration, he asked for his inheritance and immediately went into a far country and wasted his life in wild living. If he had taken more time to make his initial decision, had talked with wise counselors, and had faced all the facts, he would not have found himself in a pigpen in a foreign land.

2.      Many bad decisions that we make are the result of fast and not well thought out decisions.  Before we make decisions, we should pray, ask God for His direction, and consult with family and friends.  The more we investigate…the better our decisions will be. 

(3)         SUGGESTION 3 - OUR DECISIONS MUST NOT BE MADE WITH EMOTIONS ALONE, BUT WITH THE MIND.

1.       In the Old Testament we read the tragic story of David’s sin with Bathsheba. His emotions carried him away and before the story had ended he had committed adultery, had lied, and even had Uriah murdered.

2.       How different it would have been if David had made his decision concerning Bathsheba with his head instead of his emotions. We must use our rational mind (not our emotions) in our decision-making.

(4)         SUGGESTION 4 - OUR DECISIONS SHOULD BE BASED WITH ETERNITY IN MIND.

1.       In (Luke 18:23), we read the story of the rich young ruler who came to Christ asking what he needed to do to be saved. Jesus told him to keep the commandments and then told him to sell all that he had and give it to the poor. The story ends as the young man departed sorrowfully, for he was one who had great possessions. He gave up his soul for worldly possessions.  He made his decision not with eternity in mind but with temporal pleasure and satisfaction in mind.  To often, we make worldly decisions instead of heavenly decisions, and when we do, we find ourselves in a mess.

2.       Brethren, every decision that we make must be based with eternity in mind…Amen.  

(5)         SUGGESTION 5 - OUR DECISIONS MUST NOT MERELY FOLLOW THE CROWD, BUT MUST BE BASED UPON THE RIGHT OR WRONG OF THE SITUATION.

1.       In (Mark 15:8-15), we are told that Pilate upon the facts of the case found no fault in Jesus. He considered him both unworthy of death and of imprisonment and tried to release him. The multitude insisted on Barabbas, so ultimately Pilate washed his hands of the whole matter and caved in to the pressures of the crowd. Right led one way, social pressure led the other. Pilate made the wrong decision.

2.       My friends, our decisions must be based upon what is right and wrong and not based upon the pressure of our peers.

CONCLUSION:

1.       All in all, we must all strive to make great decisions.

2.       The most important decision that we must all make is the decision to follow Jesus Christ and accept the gift of salvation.  We must decide our eternal destination. No one else can make that decision for us.

3.       This morning, you have a decision to make.  Do you want to give your life to the Lord Jesus Christ and be baptized for the forgiveness of your sins?

4.       As you contemplate this decision, listen to this story?

According to writers Kent McDill and Melissa Isaacson, Don Calhoun worked for five dollars an hour at an office supply store in Bloomington, Illinois. He had attended two Chicago Bulls basketball games in his life, and now he was going to his third. When he strolled into Chicago Stadium, a woman who worked for the Bulls organization walked up to him and told him they were selecting him to take part in a promotional event during the game called the Million Dollar Shot.

The Shot came after a time-out in the third quarter. If Calhoun could shoot a basket standing seventy-nine feet away that means he had to stand behind the free throw line on the opposite end of the court and throw the ball three quarters of the length of the court-he would win one million dollars.

Calhoun played basketball at the Bloomington YMCA but he had never tried a shot like this before. He took the basketball in his hands and looked over at Michael Jordan and the rest of the Bulls. He could see they were pulling for him.

Calhoun stepped to the line and let fly. As soon as the basketball left his hand, coach Phil Jackson said, "It's good." Indeed, the ball went through the basket in a swish. The stadium crowd went wild. Calhoun rushed into the arms of Michael Jordan, and the Bulls players crowded around slapping him on the back.

When Don Calhoun went home that night, he had only two dollars in his wallet, but he would receive fifty thousand dollars a year for the next twenty years of his life.

Sometimes one action, one decision, one moment can change everything for you. So it is when you choose to receive Christ into your life.

5.       If you decide to give your life to Christ this morning, that decision will change everything for you. You will receive more than fifty thousand dollars a year for 20 years…you will receive eternal life in heaven…please, make the decision to come to Christ now as we stand and sing.

Primary Resource Used To Develop This Lesson: 

 

 

Windell Gann's Bible Study Resources - Much of this sermon is adapted from a sermon presented by Batsell Barrett Baxter.