Decisions We Make
12 Now it came to pass in those days that He went out to the mountain to pray and continued all night in prayer to God. 13 And when it was day, He called His disciples to Himself; and from them He chose twelve whom He also named apostles: 14 Simon, whom He also named Peter, and Andrew his brother; James and John; Philip and Bartholomew; 15 Matthew and Thomas; James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon called the Zealot; 16 Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot who also became a traitor.
What do you do when you are facing a large decision? It may be a decision about your career. Do I pursue a promotion or not? Should I look for another Job? Should I get a job?
What about big decisions in relationships? Should I ask that person out - what if they say no? If you are asked out, the question is ... Should I go out with that person - Am I attracted to them? Then it’s, do I want to marry them or not? Then when the first argument comes along - Do I want to stay married to them? How do you make good decisions about relationships?
It may be that you have to face big decisions about money or finances ... What should I do with my savings - all $15 of it? Should I buy a new car or an old car? What sort of car should I get - a sports car or a family van? Should I buy a house or rent? How do you make good decisions about money?
At some point in your life everyone has some big decisions to make, You might be in the middle of a big decision right now. And you are wondering “How should I handle this? What’s the right answer? Where do I turn for help?” Tonight, I want to look at what Jesus did before he made a big decision because he made some good decisions.
In this passage, Jesus was faced with a decision that would shape the rest of history. Have you ever been faced with such a decision - probably not. Jesus at this time was selecting 12 men who would be trained and carry on his ministry when He died. But what if He made the wrong decision? This is just a “what if” scenario. We all know that Jesus makes all the right decisions. Again… “what if?”
Selecting the wrong men and everything He worked for while here on earth might just fizzle. Think about it for a while. Where would Christianity be today if the apostles had failed - just given it all up as a failed experiment and gone back to their old professions of fishing and tax collecting and the life after Jesus had died. We definitely wouldn’t have the NT as it is today.
We probably wouldn’t even know much about Jesus Christ at all. There would have been no Christian church. God’s plan of salvation would have been lost to all generations. Given that Christ was going to entrust the truth of His ministry and the health and well-being of the Christian church into the hands of these 12 men, this selection was critical - talk about pressure. I hope I never have a decision like that to make.
This was a big decision Jesus had to make and to make it worse, He was under immense pressure in other areas of His life. His enemies were breathing down His neck and plotting against Him. As we’ve looked through the book of Luke, we’ve seen again and again that Jesus seemed to step on toes everywhere He went. What He taught, His attitudes, behaviour and all that He stood for seemed to be offending the everyone.
He was a bit of a revolutionary and the Pharisees and the leaders of the Jewish Temple were upset. Actually they were so upset, that the verse before this passage says that they “began to discuss with one another what they might do to Jesus”. And don’t be fooled, they weren’t planning a surprise party - they were wanting to get rid of Jesus once and for all.
Do you ever feel the weight of decisions on you? Feel that the whole world - or maybe your whole future rests on this one decision? I think that Jesus felt that pressure ... So what did He do?
12 Now it came to pass in those days that He went out to the mountain to pray and continued all night in prayer to God.
How often do you pray about the decisions of Life?
What did Jesus do when He was faced with a big decision? He Prayed. Simply that. He Prayed. I want to ask you tonight, How often do you pray about the decisions of Life?
God is the best Father you could ever imagine. He is not like some human dads who don’t care for their kids or even abuse them. He is the best Dad ever - He is interested in you and the things that are going on in your life. He wants to hear from you what you are thinking - what you are struggling with. He wants to help you - to be a comfort when you need a shoulder to lean on, to be an encourager when everything seems like it is going wrong.
To be a friend when you feel like everyone else has deserted you. God wants us to include Him in our decision making - and just like a perfect FATHER, God has all the time in the world to sit and listen to us and direct us in our decision making - whether it be a big or small issue. He wants to help.
Now, I don’t think that God will give a clear answer to us for every decision we need to make. I don’t think He will necessarily write in the clouds - wear the blue shirt today. I don’t think He will make you read a passage about burnt offerings to tell you to put roast lamb on your sandwiches for lunch. I don’t think that He will even show you necessarily what car to buy or where to put your money. But I do know that God will provide us with the resources to make those decisions in a godly and wise manner. What resources you ask? – WISDOM
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.
For the Lord gives wisdom; From His mouth come knowledge and understanding.
Do you want to make good decisions? Seek wisdom. Where from - from God. Go to God in prayer and ask for wisdom. He won’t necessarily tell you which choice to make, but He’ll give you all the wisdom you need to make the best choice.
But to get this wisdom we need to include Him in our decision making. Have you got a decision to make? Well…have you prayed about it yet? You need to pray to get wisdom to make your decision making skills sharp.
How long do you spend praying about the decisions of life?
The second thing we see about Jesus’ method of decision making is that His prayer was not just a “Please help me Lord” prayer thrown up to God on the run ... No, He was serious about praying and waiting for God for the answer - for wisdom to make the decision. He actually spent all NIGHT praying.
How long do you spend praying about the decisions of your life? This is a challenge to me as much as it is probably to you. Have you ever stayed up all night praying about something? But this is the example Jesus sets for us. His was an important decision and He devoted time to praying it through with His heavenly father.
How much time do we spend in prayer? 5 mins per day? 10? 20? 30? Are you facing a big decision? How much time are you willing to spend talking to God about it? The amount of time you spend in prayer probably reflects how close you actually are walking with God.
Some of the famous Christians through-out history were great prayers. That is why I think they were so influential - because they learnt the power of prayer. You see, prayer is the deadliest weapon we have at our disposal but also the greatest source of sustenance for our daily lives.
Martin Luther said, "I am so busy now that if I did not spend three hours each day in prayer, I could not get through the day." Luther knew the effectiveness of prayer.
Billy Sunday, a famous preacher once said "If some people looked at their watches when they started praying and when they ceased praying, they would think their watches had stopped."
Does your watch seem to stop every time you pray? Maybe you develop your prayer life longer because without it, your life will not have any stability.
Have you ever wondered why a bird sleeping on its perch never falls off? Usually birds manage to sleep perfectly well without falling off. How do they manage to do this? The secret is the tendons of the bird’s legs. They are so constructed that when the leg is bent at the knee, the claws contract and grip like a steel trap. The claws refuse to let go until the knees are unbent again. The bended knee gives the bird the ability to hold on to his perch it gives it stability in its life.
Just like a bent knee in a bird helps that bird stay balanced and safe through the long hours of darkness, a knee bent in prayer enables us to get a firmer grip on life and the wisdom needed for decision making. It helps us when we make the big decisions and the small decisions. I want to challenge you as I have been challenged this week that maybe we need to spend more time in prayer.
How do we pray about the decisions of life?
The third thing I notice about Jesus’ prayer life is that He prayed in solitude. He went up to a hillside to a QUIET place away from the noise and the people who were desperate to benefit from His healing power. He went away from those who would seek to pressure Him more. He got away from the daily grind and the commitments and went to where He could focus on one thing - GOD. Praying through the busiest parts of the day is good - don’t get me wrong, but we need to set aside specific times for quiet meditation on God.
A man working in an ice factory lost a valuable watch. His fellow workmen searched with him for more than two hours through the sawdust on which the ice was stored…but were unable to find it. They left the plant for lunch and returned to find a little boy with the watch in his hand. "How ever did you find it?" They inquired. He replied, "I just lay down in the sawdust and heard it ticking."
Sometimes we try to find God in our business, our activity and our noise. But we can’t find God that way - we must "be still and quiet - then we can know that He is God."
How do you pray about the decisions of life. Do you take time out and find a place of solitude to spend time one on one with God or do you try to squeeze him into your schedule amidst the noise of the TV.
Jesus knew the importance of including His heavenly Father in the decisions He was making. It was the only way He could make good decisions. Keep in mind that by choosing the right 12 men, would have a big impact on the rest of the world. The future of all Christians rests on the choosing of the 12 Apostles. (MINUS 1)
Jesus prayed often to God. How OFTEN do you pray about the decisions of Life? Do we need to pray more often about the big things and the little things? Let’s keep our prayer life sharp and ask for the wisdom that God promises to give us. Wisdom to help us make good decisions.
Jesus prayed at length to His Father. How LONG do we spend praying about the decisions of life? If we don’t have power in our lives or clarity of thought, it is probably because we need to be praying more. Let’s be on our knees and develop our grip on life. It has been said that "Preaching affects men; prayer affects God.”
The pastor who is not a praying pastor is a playing pastor. The congregation which is not a praying congregation is a straying congregation. To be much for God we must be much with God. Do we pray enough?
Here is a short poem that I read from one of my devotions, that went well with this message.
I got up early one morning and rushed right into the day; I had so much to accomplish that
I didn’t have time to pray. Problems just tumbled about me, and heavier came each task.
"Why doesn’t God help me?" I wondered.
He answered, "You didn’t ask." I wanted to see joy and beauty, but the day toiled on, gray and bleak;
I wondered why God didn’t show me. He said, "But you didn’t seek."
This maybe just a short message, but it was straight to the point. You see…the Christian life is a life of prayer. Simply because that is the only connection, we have to get the help that we need from God. I have never heard of a Christian, who never prayed. Let this be challenge for all of us, to always keep the Lord in every decision that we make. No matter how big or how small, Jesus needs to be involved!
Let Us pray:
Pastor Richard Santos
Audio copies of previously delivered messages are now available in CD. Requests can be made on the 'Contacts' tab.