Being Decisive

Speaker: M.Noorhoff


The word of the Lord came unto Jonah .. saying, Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city' and cry against it." There were two possibilities open to this prophet: to go or not to go. He decided against the call of God. We have that amazing power. Having reached a definite decision to renounce God by disobeying him, he went on shipboard and fell fast asleep. The days and nights that had preceded his decision had been full of agony. When he at last decided, even though his decision was wrong, that decision brought sufficient peace to make sleep
"Why do you call me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say?  I will show you what he is like who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice. He is like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete."

 

 

Revelations 3:13

 

13  He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

14  "To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God's creation.

15  I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other!

16  So, because you are lukewarm--neither hot nor cold--I am about to spit you out of my mouth.

17  You say, 'I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.' But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.

18  I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.

19  Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent.

20  Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.

21  To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne.

22  He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches."

 

BEING DECISIVE

 ''Why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not

the things which I say?"

             LUKE 6:46

THIS sane question is addressed to the undecided. In speaking to you on being decisive I am speaking on a subject of major importance. This is an essential for successful living. If you know where you are going and are determined to get there, almost any old jalopy will serve the purpose. But if you cannot come to a definite decision as to your goal, then a Rolls-Royce will be of little avail. It would wear out and fall to pieces before you would reach your goal. Truly, for the ship that is bound for no harbor no wind can be favorable. No wonder therefore that our Lord is constantly calling us to be decisive: "Let your language be, 'Yes, yes,' or 'No, no." (Weymouth.)  How essential that is, and yet how difficult! So often our, "Yes" has in it a tincture of "No," and our "No" a tincture of "Yes." To give utterance to a "Yes" that is 100 per cent affirmation is about the most difficult task that we are called upon to perform. The burden of choice is SO heavy that many people go to pieces under it. There are young men who were happier in the army than they have ever been before or since. This is the case because there they were in some measure relieved of the burden of choice.

 It is difficult to get people to think. It is more difficult still to get them to be decisive. Actually the problem never really lies in the thinking as much as it lies in making a actual decision. Years ago, I worked with someone and Ifve known many similar people who were constantly thinking but rarely deciding. This one in particular she pretty much was losing her standing on reality becoming paranoid,  depression and slightly delusional. The first thing I recommended is that she leave this country as quickly as possible and get back home were she has a firm base and better yet she has a comfortable supporting environment where she can feel freer to make decisions she needed to. Or people could make them for her. Ifve talk to several people who deal with socially disoriented people I donft really like psychology as a science so much even though it was one of my majors in university. I have always felt that certain people had problem in living. And it always seems that one of the main problems is that they can not make firm decisions. They are wishy-washy and never actually do anything. It is a problem that unfortunately I see growing

Now look at this question of Jesus: "Why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?" We can

readily realize the kind of folks to whom this question was addressed. Our Lord is not speaking to those who are out and out against him. He is not speaking to his avowed enemies, nor to those who ignore him. Neither is he speaking to those who are wholeheartedly for him. He is rather speaking to people very like many of us. He is speaking to those who admire him, who honor him to the point of calling him Lord, and yet who are not fully persuaded to follow him. They give him an intellectual assent, but have failed wholeheartedly to give him themselves.

 Mark tells us of a man of this type. One day this man came to Jesus with this question : "Which is the first commandment of all?" When Jesus answered that the greatest commandment is to love God and man, his questioner approved his answer. In fact, he gave the answer of the Master such wise approval that Jesus commended him for his answer and then paid him this compliment : 'Thou art not far from the kingdom of God." It was a beautiful commendation, and yet it was not enough. Though so near the kingdom that his foot was almost upon the threshold, he was not in it. One decisive step would have brought him to life's finest adventure, but so far as we know, he failed to take that step.

 Now this company of the undecided is a vast company. It is not uncharitable to say that it includes a large percentage of the members of our churches. This does not mean that these undecided folks are hypocritical. Very few of them are. It does not mean that they do not refrain from certain evils every day out of loyalty to Christ. It does not mean that they do not do certain deeds of service every day because of that loyalty. It does mean that while they are obedient in many things, they still do not put the Kingdom of God first. Though decent, religious, and respectable, there are areas in their lives that they have never dedicated to him whom they call Lord.

 Not only does this company of the undecided include vast numbers who are in our churches, but it includes even more who are outside any church. As I have spoken to many outside the church and any reference to Jesus Christ, any word honoring him, is met with almost universal approval. Also as I have spoken to men individually who were outside the church I have found plenty of those who were harshly critical. These were@often critical of gChristianityh or the gchurchh. They could point out numerous flaws both in the church as a whole and in the individual members. But when I confessed that we were a faulty group all of us, and then asked this question, what about Jesus Christ?  What fault have you to find in him?" I do not recall ever to have heard from these one harsh criticism. In spite of all our faults, there is a sense in which Jesus Christ is the most popular character in most of the world today. Our tragedy is not that we are out and out against him; it is rather than we are not out and out for him.

"why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?" Now what is he asking at our hands? Let us

get away from what is incidental to what is really essential.

 To begin negatively Jesus is not asking primarily for our church membership. By this I do not mean that it is not the duty of every Christian to belong to some church. I realize that there are many decent and right-thinking people outside the church. But it is my conviction that those who take Jesus seriously will join some church. The church at the time of Jesus was even more faulty than the church of today, yet Jesus did not stand apart from it and stone it. He rather attended it as a matter of habit and conviction. He knew that what help he brought he must bring as a member of the church and not as an outside antagonist. Churches are hardly perfect but are you willing to help out because perhaps you are the missing piece to the puzzle or will you just keep on your search to find the gperfect churchh. Well my friend it doesnft exist.

 No more is Jesus asking first for our work. Of course if we are in earnest about following him we are certain to do something about it. But his first demand is not for our work. Neither is he seeking first for our money. Naturally if our Christianity is real we shall be glad to give, but money does not come first. No more is our Lord asking for some kind of emotional response. He is seeking neither for our laughter nor our tears. For what then, I repeat, is he asking? He is asking for ourselves. He is saying to us what he said to Matthew long ago: "Follow me." This publican was decisive. He at once left all, rose up, and followed. This also we are to do. Jesus is asking what Paul urged in these words: "Present your bodies a living. sacrifice." He is asking for our complete and unconditional dedication of life. Nothing less than that will meet his demands.

 If you think that sounds difficult I am ready to agree.@Jesus never hinted that discipleship was easy. But when he set out to redeem us he did not seek an easy way. He took the way of the cross. "This is my body," he declares, "which is given for you." "This," he is saying, "is my self, my very all, my everything, and it is given for you."

He asks that in return we take our discipleship seriously. As he gave his all, we are to give our all. We are to say day by day: ''Not my will but thine be done."

 Why should we do this?

 I. We ought to be wholehearted in our decision because nothing else will satisfy our Lord. He is never pleased with half-hearted devotion. In fact, it would seem, as we turn the pages of the New Testament, that

that is just the attitude that he hates most. He even prefers out-and-out antagonism.h I wish you were cold

or hot." What are we here to do? Not to win success primarily. Certainly we are not here to fail. We are here

to do the will of God. It is only by a wholehearted dedication to him that we can please him and thus fulfill God's purpose for our lives.

 2. It is only by our wholehearted loyalty that we can find satisfaction for ourselves. There is no peace for the

undecided. The most wretched hours of our lives are those hours when we are unable to reach a decision. Even a wrong decision brings more peace than does indecision. The wise story of Jonah emphasizes this fact.

 Listen to this : "it's possible.

 But the trouble with the peace born of a wrong decision is that it will not last. This is the case because God simply will not let us alone. He refuses to leave off his loving efforts to win us. "No man can be as bad as he wants to be." We may reject the high calling of God, but our rejection will bring us no permanent peace. It is only when we have fully committed ourselves to God that we come to know the peace that abides.

 Then a wholehearted decision to follow Christ brings peace because so many lesser questions are decided by it. There are those for whom no moral issue is finally decided. Every morning they must decide whether they will pray or not pray, whether they will look into God's Word or neglect it. Every Sunday church attendance is an open question. These people are therefore in constant conflict. They remind one of that old story of the man who possessed a dog whose tail was far too long, but desiring to give the dog the least possible pain, he decided to cut it off an inch a day rather than all at once. If you take Jesus seriously a thousand lesser decisions will then be made in advance.

 Not only will this one great decision include many that are smaller, but it will make every other right decision easier. The choice you made today was born quite largely of the choice you made yesterday. Every wrong choice makes the next wrong choice the easier and the surer.

When an alcoholic swears off drinking he would return to his bottle saying: "I will not count this

one." But even if he failed to count it his weakened will did not. It chalked that failure against him. Now just as every wrong choice makes the next wrong choice easier, even so every right choice makes the next right choice easier and surer. We can so cultivate our right choices in the fellowship of Jesus that they become all but spontaneous.

 3. Then we ought to be decided in the matter of fully following Christ, because this alone brings us to our highest usefulness. Indecision means weakness.

  In those dark days when Israel was being swept off its feet by Jezebel, it was Elijah who saved the day. Standing before a great throng he flung at them this sane question : "How long halt ye between two opinions?" In other words : "How long are you going to allow yourselves to be crippled by your indecision?" To be thus undecided is as silly as trying to win a foot race with a ball and chain on your ankle. Indecision brings weakness. Decision brings strength.

 In the past a group of men were trying to move the side of a mountain. They were not using bulldozers as we do today. They were using hydraulic pressure. When that water fell from the heavens it doubtless fell so gently that it would hardly have hurt a baby's face. But now, under its tremendous pressure, small trees were being uprooted and rocks were being rushed out of their places. why the difference? This water was saying: "This one thing I do." It is only as we are wholeheartedly for Christ that we find our highest personal satisfaction and highest usefulness.

 4. Then we ought to decide definitely for Christ, because by refusing to do so we decide against him. There

is a fable that a donkey once stood between two delicious bundles of hay. The donkey was hungry. Both bundles offered just the satisfaction he needed. But when he would turn toward the one the other would seem to call to him. Thus he could never make up his mind just which bundle he would eat first. Therefore he hesitated between the two until he starved. His death was not the result of a decision to commit suicide. It was rather the result of his failure to decide to eat.

 Even so we miss knowing Jesus Christ through lack of decision. Right now he is offering himself to us. Most of us have declared to him our allegiance in some fashion. But in spite of this some of us are keenly conscious of the fact that our religious lives often have been quite disappointing. We wonder at times if we had not better renounce the whole venture as a failure. What is the way to victory? Make a wholehearted decision. God longs to give you the best, but he cannot without your co-operation. Remember that God's one plan of salvation is for a surrendered heart.