The Discovery

Trusting God in tough times can help you make good decisions.

Douglas Poole
Jan 13, 2019    33m
Pastor Douglas Poole talks about decision making. He discusses how when we are faced with a hard choice, sometimes we just do nothing out of fear. This is where we find out that trusting god in tough times can help move you toward making decisions instead of staying stuck in the what ifs. He used a story from First Samuel about King Saul and his son Jonathan to illustrate how they reacted very differently to the need to make a decision. The underlying difference was their trust in God to support the decision they made. Video recorded at Clearwater, Florida.

messageRegarding Grammar:

This is a transcription of the sermon. People speak differently than they write, and there are common colloquialisms in this transcript that sound good when spoken, and look like bad grammar when written.

Douglas Poole: 00:02 Alright, anybody besides me ever come to a Friday, and you want to do something, but you can decide what you do going to do so you stay home. You know, I've told you in the past you know, that happened to Jackie and I more than a few times, we now have a plan to avoid that. But what it would look like, it'd be a Friday, you know, end of the work week, and we're tired and we're going home. And you want to do something? Yeah, let's do something. And we'd get home, and get out the the weekender section of the newspaper, and go there's a lot of things to do. It was like, you know, six new movies that are out, we could choose from. There's six major concerts going on, with nationally known artists who were in our area. There is like, a hundred restaurants to be able to choose from. There's community festivals that are going here and there, in this community, that community. And there's lots of plays that are taking place. And we can't agree on a single thing, so we stay home and do nothing. Which I guess is an option, right? And so I think it's okay to spend an occasional Friday night not being able to make a choice, and staying home, but it's not a really great way to live your life. It's one thing to waste a Friday night, it is something entirely different to waste a life, right? Because you just don't know what you're going to do with that.

Douglas Poole: 01:15 Well, today we're going to talk about how do we experience it, how do we know, and how do we live the life that God has for us. A life that I believe is full, a life that I believe has meaning, and a life that is full of purpose.

Douglas Poole: 01:27 Now, last week, we looked at a moment in time where Jesus says to a group, to the whole church, where he says these words, "Wake up, wake up." Because these things that you love, these dreams you have for your life, it's like they're dying on the vine. And we all understand what it's like to have dreams for our lives, right? Because either you once had, or you currently have, you have some dreams for your life. This person you're going to become, these adventures you're going to go on, these beautiful things that you're going to create and that you are going to do. And we have these wonderful dreams that are so compelling for us, and we feel so alive when we're chasing them, and this is what we want to experience in our life. But the reality of it is, so oftentimes, the life we are living is keeping us from the life we want to live. That is, we get into this daily grind of expectations and responsibilities that we have, and they grind away at our souls and they grind away at our dreams. Until we discover, there's this life I want to live, but the life I am living is keeping me from living the life that that I want to experience, and who I want to be in this world. And we find ourselves almost being like a Zombie, right? Like we're the walking dead, we got a little bit of a pulse, but my soul has become all shriveled up, and it has died. And so there's this moment where Jesus comes to hold church, and he says, "Wake up, wake up, these dreams that you have, they're dying on the vine." And if you don't wake up one day, you're going to wake up with regrets. Some of us need to wake up, because we said last week what Jesus said to the church, he's saying to us. Like, wake up, because your kids are trying to validate themselves in all the wrong places, and all the wrong people, and you're sleeping through it. Wake up, because your marriage is about to get derailed, it's a train wreck just awaiting you, it's only a matter of time. Wake up, because there's these dreams for your life that are so beautiful, that you are just sleeping through. Wake up, and if you don't wake up, the day's going to come when you will wake up. And on that day when you do wake up, it'll be too late, and you're going to say woulda, coulda, shoulda. But that will have passed, and that day will be gone for you.

Douglas Poole: 03:52 So wake up, Jesus says, don't just dream about living, have the courage to live the life of your dreams. So once you decide I'm going to lead a life wide awake, to experience all that God has for me. Then the question becomes, what am I going to do with my life? What's my life going to be about? I mean I want to live a full life, and a meaningful life, but I'm not sure what to do about that.

Douglas Poole: 04:16 So starting today, and the next few weeks, we're going to step into a moment in time, and we're going to learn from a warrior prince, who decided he was going to live life of his dreams. Were going to learn principles from him. His name is Jonathan, and he is the son of the first king of Israel, Saul. The timeframe is about 1000 BC. The situation is this, the nation of Israel is at war with the Philistines, and the Philistines are oppressing them and wanting to overrun their country. The Philistines are a nation that is remarkably well armed, remarkably fortified, they are experienced war hardened veterans who are absolutely ruthless. The Philistines worshiped at the temple of the Dragon, and what they would do is when they conquered a people, they would bring them into their country and enslave them. And in the most ruthless, unthinkable manner, women, these slaves, were considered fair game for any man's desire at anytime he wished. People were abused, people were killed, and then in the temple of the Dragon, they practiced human sacrifices. And so they would take these folks they conquered as slaves, and then offer them as a sacrifice to their gods. And as we think it doesn't get any worse, it does, because then they would take children, and offer child sacrifices to their god. And so God has said to the nation of Israel, you go to war with these people. And I've had people tell me, you know, oh, the God of the Old Testament is such a bloody God. You know, it's go to war with these people. You know, and I think about that and I think, you know what if I had been in a country with my family that have been conquered by the Philistines. And it was my family that had been removed and put into the land of the Philistines. And it was my wife and my daughters who were being raped by the Philistines, and it was my granddaughter's who've been ripped out of the arms of my sons and my daughters, and my grandchildren are being offered as a sacrifice to their god. I would be praying to God, and I would be asking God to please intervene, and whatever it takes to come and to stop this, wouldn't you? Sometimes friends, I think we get awfully harsh, and want to judge God for being so bloody, for being so violent. Some of us need to learn our history before we judge God. And if you studied philosophy in school, you may remember a school of thought called the Philistinism. It was an anti-intellectual attitude that despises art, beauty, and intellect. Sounds wonderful, doesn't it? Right? And if they had a motto, if they had a model for Philistinism, it would be this. Ignorant, ill behaved, ruthless, and darn proud of it.

Douglas Poole: 07:11 Alright, that said, Israel and the Philistines are preparing to engage in a conflict. And we're going to pick up the accounts on this, it's found in the book of First Samuel, chapter thirteen. And you can turn there in your Bible, or you can just follow along on the screens, we'll put the scripture up here. But we're going to set the stage for this, beginning in verse five, "The Philistines assemble to fight Israel." Now remember these numbers, okay, because I'm going to refer to them. "They assembled to fight Israel with 3000 chariots, 6,000 charioteers, and soldiers as numerous as the sand on the seashore. They went up and camped at Mikmash." That's a BC version of Mcdonald's, but, "They camped at Mikmash east of Beth Aven. When the men of Israel saw that their situation was critical, and that their army was hard pressed, they hid in caves and thickets among the rocks, and in pits and cisterns. Some Hebrews even crossed the Jordan (Which is a river.) crossed the Jordan to the land of Gad and Gilead. Saul remained at Gilgal, and all the troops with him were quaking in fear." Sounds like just the army I hope it's protecting us today, don't you? That they're hiding in cisterns and caves, quaking in fear, just gives you a lot of confidence, doesn't it?

Douglas Poole: 08:40 So King Saul, the King of Israel, he's at an absolute loss of what to do. He's got options before him, God has already said go to war. So he's got all kinds of options here before him, but he's afraid of choosing the wrong one. And because he's afraid of choosing the wrong one, he doesn't make any choice at this moment. It's Friday night, what do you want to do? I don't know. What do you think? I don't know, I can't decide, why don't we just stay home. So Saul awaits the arrival of the Prophet Samuel, and he's really hoping this prophet now is going to beseech God on their behalf, and that God will give them which option to choose. So he's decided this, we're going to wait here until God gives us a go. Problem is, God already said, go. He already said, go to war. But we're going to wait here until God says, go. Have you ever been there? You've got a decision to make, and there are very real consequences with the decision you're about to make. And you've got options before you, but you're afraid of choosing the wrong option, so you choose none. Then you pray, God please, God please, show me what to do. But it's like you have an assignment, so you wait, and do nothing, and things get worse. Have you ever noticed how that happen? The longer you wait, the worst this thing seems to get.

Douglas Poole: 10:08 I remember a man talked to me once, he told that there were some challenges in his marriage, and they were in deep weeds, and they said, what do I do? And I said, go get some counseling. And they said, okay. So the next week I saw him, I said, did you go to a counselor yet? No. I said, why not? He said, there's so many of them out there, I don't know which one to choose. Here's three that I really recommend to you. The next week, I said, did you make the call yet to meet the counselor? No, I just can't decide on which one. Pick one, like any one, and if it's the wrong one, okay then go to another one, but pick one. Just a couple of weeks ago, a man came to me and was wanting some money. I was doing a project with one of my son-in-laws, we were working. A guy interrupted us, and wanted some money. Well, what's your story man? And he's telling me his story, and he said, you know, I don't have a job right now. I said, okay. He said, I had two job interviews, and he said, I got offers from both of them. And it took me so long to make a decision, he said, both offers got rescinded. Pick one. Just say yes to one of your jobs, and if it's not the right job, well then go on and apply and get another one, but just just pick one.

Douglas Poole: 11:24 Saul is sitting there not choosing, he's waiting and he's waiting, and he's still not choosing. And what happens during times of indecision, when you're a leader? The troops, the morale, begins to sink. Troops began to defect, and to leave Saul. The situation gets more dire, the prophet, he's days late in showing up. And so Saul decides he's going to take matters into his own hands. And so Saul decides he's going to make an offering to God, that God has said, only a priest can offer. So Saul makes this offering to God that he's not supposed to make. The prophet shows up, Prophet Samuel, and he says, let me get this straight Saul. Let's see, you just did something that God clearly and plainly said don't do, in hopes that God will now tell you what to do. Really, what are you thinking, Saul? And then the prophet says, the very fact that you have made this decision disqualifies you from being able to lead God's people.

Douglas Poole: 12:37 Let's pick up the account now in verse number nineteen, of chapter 13, verse 19, and continue in our account. This is now about the nation of Israel, it says, "Not a blacksmith could be found in the whole land of Israel, because the Philistines had said, otherwise the Hebrews will make swords or spears. So all Israel went down to the Philistines to have their plow shears, mattocks, axes and sickles sharpened. The price was two-thirds of a shekel for sharpening plow shears and mattocks, and a third of a shekel for sharpening forks and axes and reporting goads. I'm not sure why we got the the list, but it's bad. "So on the day of the battle, not a soldier with Saul and Jonathan had a sword or a spear in his hand; only Saul and his son Jonathan had them." The whole army, all of them, they only have two swords. No wonder they are quaking in fear, and hiding in cisterns, right? Verse twenty-three, "Now a detachment of Philistines had gone out to the pass at Mikmash. One day Jonathan son of Saul said to the young man bearing his armor, come, let's go over to the Philistine outpost on the other side. But he did not tell his father. Saul was staying on the outskirts of Gibeah under a pomegranate tree in Migron. With him we're about six hundred men."

Douglas Poole: 14:15 Three words I want us to know, come, let's go. Now it may not seem like much, but these three words totally separate Jonathan from his father Saul. And these three words separate Jonathan from most all of us, come, let's go. He saw what was before him, he made a choice, and he acted on it. No more hiding, no more playing defense, we're going to going offense. Come, let's go. One man, one sword, one armor bearer against the Philistinian outpost, which we know had at least twenty men in it. Meanwhile Saul, King Saul, and six hundred men are staying on the outskirts of Gibeah under a pomegranate tree, choosing not to make a choice out of fear. Which is essentially choosing not to make a choice, is choosing what? To do nothing. Friends, fear always, always has a way of paralyzing us, it does, it keeps us from taking action. Because there comes the what if, what if, what if it doesn't work out? What if they don't come through? What if the economy changes? What if? And so we say these what if's, and so we just step back, and in fear, we refuse to advance. And so I wonder how could Jonathan be so bold, and so courageous, to make a choice and go. Verse number six, "Jonathan said to the young armor bearer, come, let's go over to the outpost of those uncircumcised fellows." I think that was a, a 1000 BC, that was quite an insult. That if you want to start a bar fight, you'd walked up and poke somebody, you uncircumcised fellow, and like a fight would erupt. And I read this, and I thought of so many cute and clever things to say. And I ran it by Jackie, and Jackie said, you know that middle school boy that still lives inside of you? Don't channel him tomorrow. So you can thank Jackie that we're just moving on. "So Jonathan said to the young armor bearer, come, let's go over to the outpost of those uncircumcised fellows. Perhaps the Lord will act on our behalf. Nothing can hinder the Lord from saving, whether by many or by few." Verse seven, "Do all that you have in mind, his armor bearer said. Go ahead, I'm with you, heart and soul. Jonathan said, come then; we will cross over toward the men and let them see us. (Which is not a really great military strategy.) We'll let them see us. If they say to us, wait there until we come to you, we will stay where we are and not go up to them. But if they say, come up to us, we will climb up, because that will be our sign that the Lord has given them into our hands." How in the world could Jonathan make a choice and go? Here it his friends, it was his resolute confidence in the goodness of God, and this is paramount to everything I'm saying today. His resolute confidence in the goodness of God.

Douglas Poole: 17:54 Verse six, let's go, "Perhaps the Lord will act on our behalf." I don't know about you, if I want to go into a life situation, I don't want it to be perhaps. I want to know certainly, without question, God's coming through. We got this thing in the bag, so let's go. But no, Jonathan says, let's go perhaps, perhaps. But then he adds these words, "Nothing can hinder the Lord from saving, whether by many or by few." So question, if God is in it, how many swords do you suppose God needs to win? If God's in it, how many men does God need to accomplish his purposes? Or for that matter, like how much money does God needs to do it? And by the way, if God is against you, how many swords do you suppose it would take to overcome god? Then he adds these words, verse nine, "If these uncircumcised fellows, if they say, wait there, we'll come to you." We're going to take that as God is giving us a no on this option, right? "But if they say, climb up." Which again is not a very good military strategy, because your enemy has the high ground, and they have all of the weapons and it's just a bad strategy militarily. But if they say, choose the really bad military strategy, we're going to take that as God's saying, great choice, go get them. So Jonathan can make a choice, because he was confident not in himself, he was confident in how much God loved him. That God loved him enough to stop him if he was making a wrong choice. Saul's plan was what? Let's wait, let's wait until we're convinced God says, go. Jonathan's plan was we're going to go, unless God gives us a no.

Douglas Poole: 19:59 And isn't there a world of difference between the two? Because one leads to action, beauty and victory. The other leads to passivity and inaction. So Jonathan reasons this, I think God's a really smart guy, and I believe he loves us and has our best interest at heart, and I think he's rather powerful to boot. So we've got several options right now we can choose from, and God seems to be leaving the choice up to us. So I'm going to make a well reasoned, well thought through, prayed through decision, and then we're going to go. And then we're going to trust that the same God who can say go, is the same God who can say no to us, and Jonathan was willing to bet his life on the goodness of God.

Douglas Poole: 20:46 Far to often friends, we have choices before us, choices of what we're going to do with our lives. We can say, I'm waiting on God to show me what to do, I'm waiting on God to show me what to do. When in reality, maybe God is just waiting on you. And we say, we are so fearful of making the wrong choice, I don't want to make the wrong choice. Instead of trusting, that the God who can say go, isn't he also the guy who can say, no? Let me just ask you, if your kid is making a choice that's going to lead to disaster, don't you love them enough to say no. Your kids moving towards that light bulb because it is so bright and so shiny, and he's reaching for it, and you say, no, no, no, no. I know you're choosing to touch a lot of things, but no to that one. Your kid wants to ride their trike up and down McMullen Booth Road, No, there's a lot of other places you can ride it, but no to that option and to that choice. So let me ask you, do you really think your heavenly father loves you less than you love your kids? Do you think you're a better parent than God? He loves us, and he cares for us.

Douglas Poole: 22:02 One of my favorite stories in the Book of Acts, is a story about this very thing. The Apostle Paul has heard the words of Jesus, to take the faith, hope and love in Jesus, into every corner of the planet. And so then you've got to decide where we're going to go. We know what to do, but where are we going to go. And so he thinks about it, he prays about it, and he makes a choice to his entourage. We're going to Bethania. By the way, if there's anybody who you would think would know the mind of God, it'd be the apostle Paul. He wrote half the New Testament books. He started churches all over the Mediterranean. He's like a superhero, you know, for Christians. So if anybody knows the mind of God, it's Paul. And so Paul says to his entourage, I've prayed, I've sought God, Bethania. And then in Acts chapter 16, there's this interesting moment where it says, "But the spirit of Jesus prevented him from going in." I'd love to know more details on that one, like when you wrote that story, why didn't you give us a few more details? How did Jesus do that? It just says, Jesus prevented him from going in. Here's Paul and his entourage. We prayed, we asked God, we sought him, we made a choice, and now he's saying no to us. So he says, no harm, no foul, must be a different choice. And so they pray, and they seek God. And the scriptures tell us that in a very clear way in Acts 16, that God revealed to Paul, they are to go to Macedonia. So they go to Macedonia, and they begin to start churches there.

Douglas Poole: 23:40 And friends, when I read this, and I think about this, it's such an important thing here. You see, in Paul's heart, his heart was to honor and serve Jesus. He knew what his what was, start churches. But there was a lot of where’s to choose from all over the Mediterranean. And so he's making a choice. He had to make a choice where that is going to be, and he said Bethania, and Jesus said No. And so Paul made a different choice and went to Macedonia. So what the scriptures make clear to us is this, when we are committed to living the life that God has for us, he will make sure we get in the right place at the right time. I hope I can convince you of that.

Douglas Poole: 24:22 Many of you know the story of how Jackie and I ended up here. Some of you don't know the backstory, where we thought we were going to end up. When I was in Grad school working on a Master of Divinity degree, Jackie and I were praying about where are we going to go and invest our lives. We would actually fast 36 hours every week, just seeking God, where should we go, what should we do with our lives, Jesus. And in the course of that time, as we're fasting and we're praying, we're seeking God, we believed God was asking us to go to New Zealand and start some churches. So in my studies, yes, I got a Masters of Divinity, but I got a minor in the church history of New Zealand. I can still tell you about the Maori and Episcopalians and everybody. Anyway, so I studied, and then it's time to graduate. So I went for an interview with a group of people who eventually led me here, but I went to them to say, if they were starting churches in New Zealand, I'm your guy. So they brought me in for an interview, and they finished the interview and then they said, no. What? No. I said, are you kidding me? Do you know I have a minor in the church history of New Zealand, right? And so I go home, I tell Jackie, they said, no. Oh, wait a minute. we fasted for months, once a week, we've prayed, we've sought God. We're both convinced we're supposed to go to New Zealand. SauI said, well, I'm going back in for an interview. So I did, I asked them for another interview. I said, I think we need to redo this thing, can we back up the bus, and can we redo an interview? And so they said yes, and they finished and said, no, really, no. They did. We mean it. And just said, we're only sending experienced, proven, veterans, and so no. So I went home, you know you feel the personal rejection, but a part of me is like, God, I thought I heard from you. I prayed, I fasted, I wrestled with this, I think you've impressed so hard upon me. And then I realized this was my Bethania. He just loves me, just has my best interest at heart, and he said, no. He said, your Macedonia's Clearwater. I can't tell you how many times I've looked back on that. I would have missed you, I would've missed you, Haiti, Kenya. I've looked back, and I just said, thank you for loving me so much, just to say no. I made a choice, no harm, no foul, I made a choice. You see, when you are committed to living the life God has for you, he will make sure you get in the right place at the right time.

Douglas Poole: 27:24 So Jonathan, he wanted to live a life wide awake. And once he was awake, he had to choose what am I going to do with my life? Right? And the answer was so obvious, it was right there before him, you're going to free your people from the Philistines. This is your what. And then he had to decide how he's going to do it, right? He made the choice of what he was going to do. How am I going to do this? So he made a thought through, prayed through, decision and said, God, I'm going to go unless you give me a no.

Douglas Poole: 27:52 So let me ask you, what has God put before you? What is it, that is right there before you? What is it God has put in your heart? Friends, he has put it there for you to do something about it, for you to do something. Last night somebody grabbed me, something God has put in their heart. And then you have to do this, and I'm going to [inaudible.] No I'm not, I said, it's not my deal. He told you, he said he wanted you to [inaudible]. So I'm going to pray for you right now, you'll have the courage to do what God wants you to do. You're ready? Let's pray. Maybe they'll be back next week. But if he puts something in your heart friends, he spoke to you, he spoke to you.

Douglas Poole: 28:34 There are times when you want to live fully wide awake, and you really don't know what to do. Like, what
am I going to do? What I'm going to do? I'm going to give you advice from Mother Teresa. I have read her teachings, and her writings, and I've gained so much wisdom from her. But Mother Teresa said this, in those moments when you don't know what your thing to do is. This is what she just said, just do the next right thing, that's it. You feed that person who's hungry. You go visit that person who's lonely. You care for this man, this woman, that nobody else seems to be caring for. You do the loving thing and then she said, and then just do the next right thing. Whatever the next little right thing is, you just do the next little thing, and then you do the next right thing and the next and the next. And she said, and when you keep doing the next right little thing, eventually what God shows you what the big thing is to do, but you got to get moving. Just do the next right thing, and you'll begin to discover your what? So don't just watch life, live it. And when you fail to choose, you are really choosing to fail. So don't put your life on hold because of indecision, because life will move on with or without your approval. But choosing not to choose does not put off a problem, Friends, it only exacerbates it. So how does Jonathan story end? You're going to have to either read it for yourself, or show up here the next few weeks if you want to know how it ends. Really.

Douglas Poole: 30:09 In the meantime, what's your what? And if you're not sure what that is, just start doing the next right thing, and then the next right thing, and the next right thing. And then you've got to figure out how you're going to do it. Well, you think it through, you pray it through, you get some really wise console from others. And then you go, unless you get a no. Living wide awake, friends, is the life that God has for you. And can I tell you one choice that I know is the right choice for you? That'll effect all your other choices, it's Jesus. It's Jesus. God so loved you he sent his one and only son Jesus. And he gave his life, that you might have life full and abundant today, and forever in the city of God. So the best choice you can make is to give your life to Jesus, and when you do that man, oh man, he helps you to make all the other choices in life. And to begin to get those things right in the life that is life. If you've never given your life to him, just in the moment where you're sitting, you can pray to him silently and just say, Jesus, I give you my life. Jesus, I give you my life. He'll give you his life, a life that is life.

Douglas Poole: 31:30 All right, let's stand together for closing. Oh Father, we stand here in this room on one of these absolutely beautiful winter days we enjoy here in Florida. And Lord, what our souls are crying out for is the God who creates this kind of beauty around us, would you create this beauty within us? Father, may it begin for some by giving their life to you through faith in Jesus. And father, some of us are wanting to live a life that is so wide awake, and we're just, we're not sure what it is. I pray, Lord, we'd all walk out, and start doing the next right thing, just the next right thing. Father, some of us know that we've just been spinning our wheels and indecision, just stuck, fearful of making a decision for getting it wrong. Lord, I pray that we would seek you, read your word, we'd get some good, strong, wise console. And trust enough in your goodness, that we're going to go unless you give us a no. Some folks are saying, no right now, Lord, and may they not ignore it. Some folks are saying, go. May they not ignore it. And may we all experienced the life that you have for us in Jesus, your son. It's in his name we pray, everybody agreed and said, Amen.

Recorded in Clearwater, Florida.
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