SEEK THE LORD'S HELP WHEN MAKING DECISIONS
Dear Christian friends,
Over Labor Day we visited our son’s home in Myrtle Beach. I saw how Ben and Rachel entrusted our granddaughter who is in the first grade to make decisions. Noelle went to school on Tuesday, the day we were leaving. She came to the breakfast table wearing what she wanted to wear, a long sleeved blouse and blue jeans. Mom and Dad said it was too hot to wear that to school on a day that would be in the nineties. She didn’t particularly like to return to her bedroom to change. She returned wearing a short sleeved blouse but still wearing the jeans. Jeans? On a hot day? She was told to go to her room and find a pair of shorts to wear. Those stairs were noisy. She came down again wearing a nice blouse and shorts to wear, but also was wearing a pair of sparkly colorful shoes. You guessed it. She wasn’t going to wear them but her tennis shoes.
Poor Noelle! She burned up all the calories from breakfast that morning stomping upstairs because she was told to rethink her decisions. You know something? Grandpa was having a good time with all this. It was like déjà vu as I remembered when Noelle’s daddy and sisters did things like that when they were young. Her decisions didn’t meet her parents’ approval.
But the decision-making process as a six year old gets us ready for decisions we make as adults Training was going on. One day there are bigger decisions to be made about education, profession, husband and family. It’s nice that the Lord allows us to practice, don’t you think?
One thing we need to learn is never to omit the LORD from the process. Today’s story about Abraham and son Isaac teaches us to “Seek the Lord’s Help in Making Decisions 1) From his word; 2) Through prayer.
Sarah, Abraham’s wife and Isaac’s mother, had died. Abraham was 137 years old when that occurred, Isaac was 37 years old. We move ahead three years. Isaac still remained a bachelor. In that culture, as in some even to this day, the parents arranged for their children’s marriage. Abraham knew this needed to get done. A little side note here - studies have shown that such arranged marriages are more successful than when children are allowed to pick their spouse.
Isaac needed a wife. Remember that God had promised Abraham that from his loins would come a great nation and from that nation there would be someone who would bring blessing to all nations. A single Isaac wouldn’t work. “Abraham was now very old and the Lord had blessed him in every way. He said to the senior servant in his household, the one in charge of all that he had, …I want you to swear by the Lord, the God of heaven and the God of earth, that you will not get a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I am living, but will go to my country and my own relatives and get a wife for my son Isaac.”
Abraham was following the will of God. While Abraham and Isaac were living in theland ofCanaan, the land God promised to his descendants, no Canaanite woman would do for Isaac. Canaanite religion was a filthy combination of idolatry and adultery. Any Canaanite woman would not share a common faith with Isaac. She would not nourish and transmit a faith in the coming Savior to future generations. Isaac’s wife needed to know the LORD and love the LORD.
Abraham knew he needed to send his chief servant to the town ofNahor. (Nahor was Abraham’s late brother.) Nahor’s town wasHaran. They knew the LORD there. Abraham wanted a wife for Isaac who knew the LORD. That’s were one could be found. He wanted to carry out the will of God.
While there was no Bible written yet (Moses would write the first five books of the Bible 600 years later), God had communicated with Abraham some way and somehow. That’s why he left the city ofUrand believed God would lead him to the land the Lord would show him. Abraham knew he needed to make decisions on what the LORD wanted.
So it is for us. God has actually made that easier for us! He gives us a lot of answers to questions to decisions we must make that are recorded in this book. This is the book that Jesus, who rose from the dead and proved he is the Son of God, says is truth.
“But Pastor,” someone will say, “it doesn’t give directions about buying a car or a house or gummy bears!” There are no passages that will tell you to buy the GM car or the Honda or the house onPainter StreetorPointer Street. The Bible does give guidance on priorities and things that are important. The Bible teaches us how to examine godly motives.
That’s why we need to spend time to understand what it says. Frankly, it would really be good to get Bible- reference books to lead you to the answers like a Bible Dictionary or a topical Bible or a chain-reference Bible that makes looking up answers a lot easier. Make it a part of your budget to get one and learn how to use them.
The problem is we have a sinful nature that makes us unwilling to search the Scriptures for guidance. We get lazy or are too distracted by things far less important. Seek the Lord in making decisions. Consult his Holy Word!
Seek the Lord in making decisions by consulting his Word, but also pray that the Lord would guide you.
Imagine if you were given the task the servant was given to do. Abraham instructed him to go to a city several hundreds of miles away and find a wife for his son. By the way, there are a few stipulations. She needs to know the LORD; she needs to be of my brother’s household; she must be willing to leave home and come here hundreds of miles away and live here sight unseen. Hey, Abraham, I have enjoyed working for you. Can I count on you giving me references?
The servant did have all kinds of questions and misgivings. “The servant asked him, “What if the woman is unwilling to come back with me to this land? Shall I then take your son back to the country you came from?” If she doesn’t come, is it possible to take Isaac there?
Abraham said, “The Lord, the God of heaven, who brought me out of my father’s household and my native land and who spoke to me and promised me on oath, saying, ‘To your offspring I will give this land.’” God wants to give this land to my offspring, notHaran. She needs to come here. That’s from the LORD himself.
There is a lot to this story that I can’t get into for time’s sake. But as I was studying this story, it reminded me of call day at our Seminary in 1977 when I got a call to come to Atlanta. My assignment was to start a mission. Build a church where there is no church. Find people who don’t know you are coming to build a congregation that doesn’t presently exist. I remember asking myself the question, “How do I do that? I realized “the someone” who was going to do that was not Larry but the Lord. Larry, don’t sit there and wonder how you are going to do that, get on your knees and ask the Lord to gather a church. He is in the business. He is the God of what seems impossible. The aged Abraham added this, “(The LORD) will send his angel before you so that you can get a wife for my son from there.” The angel he is talking about is not an angel but THE angel of the Lord, the second person of the Godhead.
Abraham loaded up the servant with ten camels. Each was carrying a lot of valuables. The woman they would find would know she was not going to be taking a vow of poverty to go to a land and a family sight unseen. Not only did the servant take all kinds of valuables but he also took with him the gift of prayer.
When the servant arrived in Haran, “He had the camels kneel down near the well outside the town; it was toward evening, the time the women go out to draw water.” Then he prayed, “Lord, God of my master Abraham, make me successful today, and show kindness to my master Abraham. See, I am standing beside this spring, and the daughters of the townspeople are coming out to draw water. May it be that when I say to a young woman, ‘Please let down your jar that I may have a drink,’ and she says, ‘Drink, and I’ll water your camels too’—let her be the one you have chosen for your servant Isaac. By this I will know that you have shown kindness to my master.”
Abraham’s servant prayed with a child-like faith. He believed in God’s providence, that is, he believed that the Lord controls and shapes all events both great and small. He prayed an unselfish prayer. His request wasn’t for him, he prayed, “Make me successful today, and show kindness to my master Abraham.” The Lord’s answer was prompt. “Before he had finished praying, Rebekah came out with her jar on her shoulder. She was the daughter of Bethuel son of Milkah, who was the wife of Abraham’s brother Nahor.”
What a lady the Lord sent! Her name was Rebekah. She was considerate; she was generous; she was hard-working. She gave the servant a drink of water, but she also offered to water the camels. Camels can drink up to twenty gallons of water at a drinking. Times that by ten because there were ten camels. By the way God threw in an extra bonus; she was a babe and she was a bachelorette. She met all the criteria.
There is a lot to this story, but I believe we learn two lessons that we can go home with today. The first is this: I am not going to say to you that every prayer that we pray is going to be answered so fully and quickly like the servant’s was with a bonus added. I can tell you that God will answer even though at times it is a “no.” There are two prayers in the Bible that I know were met with that answer. Jesus pleaded three times for God to "Take this cup from me" and Paul begged God to cure the "thorn in my flesh." But I am also reminded of the passage in James, “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.” Don’t doubt that God hears. Don’t doubt that God answers. When we as repentant sinners come to our God we know we are forgiven. The sin that separated us from God is no longer there. God is not interested in accusing us. Pray confidently like the servant did. Whether he answers the way we would like or answers some other way, we know his answer is in love.
Secondly, this was a selfless prayer. The servant was praying for Isaac and his father Abraham. It was about the family of God, after all Rebekah and Isaac would parent Jacob who was connected to Jesus’ family tree. Your child might be a baby in your arms, but it is not too early to pray that the Lord would lead them to the right partner or that they would be the right partner one day for someone else. Pray that they find someone who would exhibit all the godly virtues that Rebekah did. Those are the traits not only to pray that your child have but that you have and are able to teach your child by your godly example.