ZADOK PUBLICATIONS MONTHLY NEWSLETTER
March 1, 2020
You may watch this Newsletter in a video HERE
This month's newsletter is dedicated to reviewing several ways the Bible addresses decision- making. Although life seems to be a huge cluster of decision-making events, what we want to look at are factors surrounding those events.
1. Decisions made by "Fleece:"
One of the foremost processes for decision-making is the route chosen by Gideon. His fleece was acting as an indicator for the will of God in his life, and it is a method Christians often use for their own decision times.
After the Angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon and gave him his assignment to deliver Israel from Midianite bondage, the Angel refused to hear excuses and Gideon's self-abrogation. The Angel called him "a mighty man of valor." That is how God saw him; he saw him as a finished product.
"The Lord is with you, you mighty man of valor!"
Like the Shulamite in the Song of Solomon, the Angel refused Gideon's self-appraisals.
Then the Lord turned to him and said, "Go in this might of yours, and you shall save Israel from the hand of the Midianites. Have I not sent you?"
With further assurance, the Angel prophesied the future:
"Surely I will be with you, and you shall defeat the Midianites as one man."
Before departing from Gideon, the Angel of the Lord caused fire to come from a rock
altar in a display of the power of the supernatural in his behalf. It was after this that the Lord
instructed Gideon to decimate his father's idols. Even though this act incurred the wrath of the locals, it strengthened the resolve of the "mighty man of valor."
Yet, Gideon required further proof he could do the task of rescuing Israel. He tested the will of God using the famous "Fleece" scenario which everyone readily associates with Gideon.
36 So Gideon said to God, "If You will save Israel by my hand as You have said — 37 look, I shall put a fleece of wool on the threshing floor; if there is dew on the fleece only, and it is dry on all the ground, then I shall know that You will save Israel by my hand, as You have said." 38 And it was so. When he rose early the next morning and squeezed the fleece together, he wrung the dew out of the fleece, a bowlful of water. 39 Then Gideon said to God, "Do not be angry with me, but let me speak just once more: Let me test, I pray, just once more with the fleece; let it now be dry only on the fleece, but on all the ground let there be dew." 40 And God did so that night. It was dry on the fleece only, but there was dew on all the ground.
Some have said that using a "fleece" to determine a decision is the weakest approach of all decision processes. Others say that God always considers the person and is willing to meet
that individual wherever they are spiritually.
Have we not all, at some time or other, used a "fleece" to make our minds up? I have said, "Let this or that happen and I will know it is your will, O Lord." The range and number of "Fleece" is astounding. Someone might require an outlandish event to take place, while another might choose a simple response to a given stimuli. Whatever the "fleece" may be, the outcome of a decision is dependent on it.
The Lord often accommodates the "fleece person" in order to build confidence for the task ahead.
In Gideon's case, he rose to the occasion and followed the Lord's leadership with impeccable
accuracy. The result was phenomenal. Three hundred men defeated an entire nation overnight.
Gideon's faith gained him entrance to Hebrews eleven's hall of fame and peace reigned in Israel for 40 years.
Now, look at how God progressed with Gideon.
- God stated who Gideon was through His eyes: a "mighty man of valor." Even though
Gideon's self-appraisal was "he was the least" in the smallest tribe.
- God commanded Gideon to deliver Israel from the Midianites.
- 3. The Lord assured him of the covenant by stating, "I will be with you."
Almost always, the Lord follows the above pattern. He calls a person based on His appraisal of their capabilities. He issues a command. He assures that person He is in a
Covenant with him.
The Lord moved in supernatural ways to assure Gideon. First, He demonstrated His
Great power in causing fire to consume Gideon's offering. Second, He commanded
Gideon to destroy the idols of the people and of his own father. Giving him victory in this
matter, Gideon gained confidence to gather an army and carry out the master plan. Notice how the Lord moved from a "burning bush" experience to a larger venue (destroy the idols), then to the larger matter of defeating Midian.
An interesting event took place as God produced a fleece of His own for Gideon. Instead of a multitude of participants, Gideon was to pay attention to those who got down on all fours and those who did not—choosing those who did not—hence, the three hundred valiant ones.
"Fleeces" are not bad!
2. Decisions based on a sign: The Rustling in the Mulberry Tree-David's sign:
Early on, David recognized the necessity of inquiring of the Lord before making decisions. (His life failures were those times when he did not follow this method.) In this focal passage, David inquired of the Lord before attacking the Philistines, and being assured of victory by the Lord, he went against them. In this passage, we see him returning to inquire of the Lord and not being presumptuous.
2 Samuel 5:19-25:
19 So David inquired of the Lord, saying, "Shall I go up against the Philistines? Will You deliver them into my hand?"
And the Lord said to David, "Go up, for I will doubtless deliver the Philistines into your hand."
20 So David went to Baal Perazim, and David defeated them there; and he said, "The Lord has broken through my enemies before me, like a breakthrough of water." Therefore, he called the name of that place Baal Perazim. 21 And they left their images there, and David and his men carried them away.
22 Then the Philistines went up once again and deployed themselves in the Valley of Rephaim. 23 Therefore David inquired of the Lord, and He said, "You shall not go up; circle around behind them, and come upon them in front of the Mulberry trees. 24 And it shall be, when you hear the sound of marching in the tops of the Mulberry trees, then you shall advance quickly. For then the Lord will go out before you to strike the camp of the Philistines." 25 And David did so, as the Lord commanded him; and he drove back the Philistines from Geba as far as Gezer.
It is safe to say that any believer making a decision must seek the Lord and hear Him clearly.
A sign was given to David: "the sound of marching" in the Mulberry tree. Waiting for a sign from the Lord requires faith and patience. Missionaries often testify they have received definite
signs from the Lord on various matters and have been successful when they moved on those signals of assurance.
Let's say a missionary is inquiring about where he/she should minister in a certain region. As he /she waits for a sign from the Lord, a person may emerge from a certain area and in doing so, calls attention to a place or village of interest. Is he a physical sign from the Lord to move in that area? Two witnesses may be needed to establish such a fact, but more than likely other indicators are supportive of such action.
It is better to wait for the rustling of the Mulberry Tree, than to move on man's reasoning.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
6 In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.
3. Decisions by Revelation and Vision:
One of the chief exponents of this method of decision-making is Paul, the apostle. He saw a vision of a man from Macedonia and knew this was from God.
6 Now when they had gone through Phrygia and the region of Galatia, they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia. 7 After they had come to Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit did not permit them. 8 So passing by Mysia, they came down to Troas. 9 And a vision appeared to Paul in the night. A man of Macedonia stood and pleaded with him, saying, "Come over to Macedonia and help us." 10 Now after he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go to Macedonia, concluding that the Lord had called us to preach the gospel to them.
Two actions were working together in this passage, the forbidding of the Spirit (which we will explore as a separate area) and the use of visions. It is not unusual for a believer to have a vision prompting a decision.
Personally, I have been the recipient of such activity.
While in a gathering of saints, listening to various speakers and participating in worship, I had a vision of a city, as if I was flying over the entire area. I could see into lives and businesses and government dealings and knew issues in each arena. I received multiple revelations about the spiritual needs of that populous. I heard a command to move there and establish a home, then
God would open doors for me to be known widely among its citizens. I moved on that call and enjoyed favor on every side.
There are open visions like Simon Peter experienced with the sheets coming down and being told to "Eat." This vision opened the door for recognition of the Gentiles as part of the plan of God.
Explicit aspects arose from that encounter.
9 The next day, as they went on their journey and drew near the city, Peter went up on the housetop to pray, about the sixth hour. 10 Then he became very hungry and wanted to eat; but while they made ready, he fell into a trance 11 and saw heaven opened and an object like a great sheet bound at the four corners, descending to him and let down to the earth. 12 In it were all kinds of four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, creeping things, and birds of the air. 13 And a voice came to him, "Rise, Peter; kill and eat."
14 But Peter said, "Not so, Lord! For I have never eaten anything common or unclean."
15 And a voice spoke to him again the second time, "What God has cleansed you must not call common." 16 This was done three times. And the object was taken up into heaven again.
17 Now while Peter wondered within himself what this vision which he had seen meant, behold, the men who had been sent from Cornelius had made inquiry for Simon's house, and stood before the gate. 18 And they called and asked whether Simon, whose surname was Peter, was lodging there.
19 While Peter thought about the vision, the Spirit said to him, "Behold, three men are seeking you. 20 Arise therefore, go down and go with them, doubting nothing; for I have sent them."
Simon did a complete 180 degree turn in his attitude toward Gentiles because of this vision.
4. Decisions by the Spirit:
Treating this aspect as a separate entity is necessary. Have you ever awakened and heard a voice saying: "Go to Honolulu?" Well, I have! Still rubbing my eyes, the voice continued: "I will show you a man that will change your life and you will change his." From that moment, things fell into place supernaturally and we booked a flight to the islands. We wound up preaching in eight hotels on Sunday and during the service in the fifth hotel (the Royal Hawaiian), a couple entered the room and the Spirit pointed out, "there is the man."
Now this fellow and his wife did not know me. They had never heard of services in the hotels, but his wife (following the Spirit) urged her husband to enter the hotel and upon entering, saw a sign about a non-denominational service taking place. She said, "The Lord wants us to attend this service."
Since the Spirit takes care of every detail when He leads in decision making, it was so in this case. Obedience in both parties wound up creating a friendship spanning more than thirty years.
In segment three, we touched on how the Spirit forbade Paul from entering Asia and Bithynia. He closed the door on Paul's intentions. The Spirit has that authority and it requires attention on our parts to discover His direction.
In 1994, there was a special television documentary on Romania under communism. The Lord
said, "Go to Romania and do not plan an itinerary; even your family must not know where you are at any given time. I want to teach you to listen for my directions on a moment by moment
I did nothing initially, until two strangers came to my office and asked, "Did not the Lord command you to go to Europe?" That got my attention.
All I knew to do was fly to Budapest and go by rail to Arad and wait for His instructions.
Events began to unfold rapidly. People would approach me seeking prayer and healing. Groups invited me to speak at their church gathering. Persons would invite me home with them for meals in order to testify evangelistically to their family and then spend the night.
During this time, the Spirit would direct me to stand in central plazas and speak in tongues, bringing into view spiritual matters of which I had no knowledge, but He did! What a wonderful time of learning to be sensitive to the slightest urge or movement of the Spirit.
Notice Paul's reaction.
When Silas and Timothy had come from Macedonia, Paul was compelled by the Spirit, and testified to the Jews that Jesus is the Christ. 6 But when they opposed him and blasphemed, he shook his garments and said to them, "Your blood be upon your own heads; I am clean. From now on I will go to the Gentiles." 7 And he departed from there and entered the house of a certain man named Justus, one who worshiped God, whose house was next door to the synagogue. 8 Then Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his household. And many of the Corinthians, hearing, believed and were baptized.
9 Now the Lord spoke to Paul in the night by a vision, "Do not be afraid, but speak, and do not keep silent; 10 for I am with you, and no one will attack you to hurt you; for I have many people in this city." 11 And he continued there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.
5. Decisions by Revelation:
Although there are elements of each of these decision-making aspects interwoven with one another, to view them separately is important. By revelation, I mean the Spirit brings to your attention an element that changes the picture totally. Where you perceived the issue required a decision one way, it now becomes clear it was quite another. Illumination on a given matter sharpens one's ability to hear clearly from the Lord.
But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession. 2 And he kept back part of the proceeds, his wife also being aware of it, and brought a certain part and laid it at the apostles' feet. 3 But Peter said, "Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price of the land for yourself? 4 While it remained, was it not your own? And after it was sold, was it not in your own control? Why have you conceived this thing in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God."
5 Then Ananias, hearing these words, fell down and breathed his last. So great fear came upon all those who heard these things. 6 And the young men arose and wrapped him up, carried him out, and buried him.
7 Now it was about three hours later when his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. 8 And Peter answered her, "Tell me whether you sold the land for so much?"
She said, "Yes, for so much."
9 Then Peter said to her, "How is it that you have agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord? Look, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out." 10 Then immediately she fell down at his feet and breathed her last. And the young men came in and found her dead, and carrying her out, buried her by her husband. 11 So great fear came upon all the church and upon all who heard these things.
Many times in my life, I have had such revelation. In Costa Rica, while ministering in a congregation, my preparation for that meeting was negated by a revelation of the real issue facing this church, which required me to preach on entirely different portions of Scripture. The far-reaching result of that discovery virtually involved the entire Mission, and the ramifications linked to that revelation caused the firing of a pastor, the restoration of fellowship between pastors and missionaries and the clearing out of liberation theology being taught in the Seminary.
In Brazil, for another instance, one prophetic word of revelation prior to traveling to this large gathering caused the whole congregation to be struck with conviction and reached into the avenues of intrigue hindering the moving of God in that arena. It cleared the air by exposing the hidden venues blocking the Spirit.
6. Decisions determined by doing, "The Righteous thing:"
Sometimes decisions are required by just doing "the right thing." The Good Samaritan didn't have to wrestle with his decision to assist the needy man. The father did not have to query God when his son returned home. The lost sheep did not cause a dilemma when the Shepherd decided to leave the ninety-nine. Jesus had no problem with cleansing the Temple.
Some situations require an instant decision based on Scripture.
If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, "Depart in peace, be warmed and filled," but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? 17 Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
Simon displayed compassion on a man who called out to him and he did the righteous thing.
Now Peter and John went up together to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour. 2 And a certain man lame from his mother's womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms from those who entered the temple; 3 who, seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, asked for alms. 4 And fixing his eyes on him, with John, Peter said, "Look at us." 5 So he gave them his attention, expecting to receive something from them. 6 Then Peter said, "Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk." 7 And he took him by the right hand and lifted him up, and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. 8 So he, leaping up, stood and walked and entered the temple with them — walking, leaping, and praising God.
7. Decisions by prophecy:
Again, Paul is in the spotlight with the prophetic words spoken to him by Agabus. Early into Paul's ministry, he met Agabus and from his first encounter was convinced he was a true prophet.
27 And in these days, prophets came from Jerusalem to Antioch. 28 Then one of them, named Agabus, stood up and showed by the Spirit that there was going to be a great famine throughout all the world, which also happened in the days of Claudius Caesar. 29 Then the disciples, each according to his ability, determined to send relief to the brethren dwelling in Judea. 30 This they also did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul.
Those who heard the prophecy acted correctly and sent relief based on Agabus' words. So, when Agabus prophesied over Paul on another occasion, he knew the accuracy of this brother.
And as we stayed many days, a certain prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. 11 When he had come to us, he took Paul's belt, bound his own hands and feet, and said, "Thus says the Holy Spirit, 'So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man who owns this belt, and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.'"
12 Now when we heard these things, both we and those from that place pleaded with him not to go up to Jerusalem. 13 Then Paul answered, "What do you mean by weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus."
14 So when he would not be persuaded, we ceased, saying, "The will of the Lord be done."
Paul knew the certainty of the prophet's words and made his decision to continue his journey.
The reliability of the prophet is a major issue in this kind of decision-making. We live in a day when prophetic words are often rather cheap. In order to make life decisions based on some of them could produce a perilous situation. Tragically, some good people have gone to mission fields or made some financial decisions based on prophetic words that did not originate with God.
Biblically, one must test the spirits and also wait for two or more witnesses to establish the
prophetic word. The Old Testament is filled with instances of false prophets (see: Jeremiah, for instance). Unfortunately, there are some today!
On the other hand, I personally know a couple who were crying out to God to know where to minister, after completing their studies at Rhema. They received a powerful word saying in a short time they would be pastors—which came to pass in a remarkable turn of events, and they found themselves in a formidable ministry, serving that congregation for many years.
In the book, En Punto, there is a premise made for just waiting on the Lord to bring people and things into our lives, which alter our plans and change our lives. These are not based on our understanding, but are totally a "God thing." His ways are higher than ours, and He often makes decisions for us. That's the wonder of the faith walk!
Until next month,
Dr. Cosby R. Oliver, PhD.