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The Power of Decision (A Sermon)

Joel 3:9, 12-14
9 Proclaim ye this among the Gentiles; Prepare war, wake up the mighty men, let all the men of war draw near; let them come up:
12 Let the heathen be wakened, and come up to the valley of Jehoshaphat: for there will I sit to judge all the heathen round about.
13 Put ye in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe: come, get you down; for the press is full, the fats overflow; for their wickedness is great.
14 Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision: for the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision.

1 Kings 18:21
21 And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the LORD be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word.

I want to speak to you pointedly today, with as much force as I can muster about an action that all of us take every day, sometimes hundreds of times during our waking hours.  Most of these actions are small and insignificant; others determine the quality and even the length of our lives, and some are once-in-a-lifetime events that cannot be easily reversed, if at all.  Some of these actions made are under pressure; others scarcely rouse a raised eyebrow.  Some cause an outcry of protest; others are met with applause.  I am talking about making decisions. 

The title of my message is “The Power of Decision.”

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to wrestle with some of the greatest decisions that have ever been made in history?  For example, how was the decision to drop the atomic bomb on Hiroshima made? In a little publicized historical twist, President Truman did not fully understand the facts. Earlier, he had made it clear to his generals that only military targets were acceptable for the A-bomb. When he received news that Hiroshima had been bombed, he made this statement:

“The world will note that the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, a military base. That was because we wished in this first attack to avoid, insofar as possible, the killing of civilians. But that attack is only a warning of things to come. If Japan does not surrender, bombs will have to be dropped on her war industries and, unfortunately, thousands of civilian lives will be lost. I urge Japanese civilians to leave industrial cities immediately, and save themselves from destruction.”

One wonders that if the President had known Hiroshima was not a military base but a city with 300,000 civilian inhabitants, would he have approved of the bombing? The answer, it seems, is no. (Leo Szilard, USN&WR, August 15, 1960.)

Yet, some argue that, as gruesome as the bombing may have been, many thousands of lives were saved in the long run because it brought an end to our war with Japan. Regardless of the opinions, the decision-making task fell to the leader.

Decision Points is a book written by former President George W. Bush.  The review of the book says, “In this candid and gripping account, President George W. Bush describes the critical decisions that shaped his presidency and personal life.

“Decision Points brings readers inside the Texas governor’s mansion on the night of the 2000 election, aboard Air Force One during the harrowing hours after the attacks of September 11, 2001, into the Situation Room moments before the start of the war in Iraq, and behind the scenes at the White House for many other historic presidential decisions.”

God equipped man in creation with this uniquely human trait.  Animals do not have the cognitive faculties to be able to consciously process decision making.  They act instinctively, as with a built-in, automatic reactionary response to anything that happens in the realm of nature.  Although we may love them and think they are thinking, especially when they look at us with their cute, quizzical expressions, they are really only acting to stimuli in the proximity of their environment. 

If your little poochie turns his nose up at the food you pour into his bowl, it’s not because he’s read the nutritional components on the label and decided that there was not enough iron, riboflavin or protein to warrant wolfing it down.  He is probably acting instinctively to the taste or to his own physical condition.  The ape in the zoo does not say, “This is Friday, I think I’ll eat fish today;” or, “Today is Monday, I think I’ll eat that nice juicy rat I found running around my cage.”  No. Animals don’t decide.  They react to situations around them. 

You, on the other hand, got up this morning and decided you were going to come to church today.  Well, the first thing you did was decide to get up.  You decided what you were going to wear.  You decided what you were going to eat.  You decided if you were going to be early, late or right on time.  You decided the route you were going to take to get here.  You decided if you had enough gas in the tank or you needed to stop and get some more.  Need I go on?  You get the picture.  Hundreds of little decisions had to be made to do something as simple as come to church on a Sunday morning.

Then there are bigger decisions.

Are you going to buy that car?  That house?  Which insurance company are your going to choose?  What cell phone or cell phone plan do you want?  Are you going to take that vacation or do you need to stay home and keep the rabbits out of the garden?  And, by the way, who are you voting for this November?  

Decisions.  They keep coming at you, fast and furious.  School? Which one?  What major?  Doctor?  Surgery?  Medicine?  Treatment?  Join the army?  Job?  Loss of job?  Second job?  New job?  Promotion?  Marriage?  Kids?  Bills?  Loan?  Re-finance?  Home equity?  Lawsuit?  Investments? 

Sometimes we hate all the decisions we have to make.  At the same time, we wouldn’t have anyone else making our decisions for us.  We begin to struggle for the right to make our own decisions before we reach the ripe old age of one.  By the time we reach our late teens, it’s all we can think about.  “Once I get out on my own, I’m going to do it my way.”  “I can’t wait until I can get my own place!” 

Actually, we have elevated this definitely human characteristic to the point of being sacred.  I’m sure you’re familiar with these words:  “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”  It is ironic that the people who are for aborting life call themselves “pro-choice.”  They deny choice to unborn children that they hold dear for themselves.

Four years ago, I went into an attorney’s office in Union City, TN and obtained power of attorney for my mother.  She was no longer capable of making her own decisions anymore, so my sisters thought that I should be the one to take care of her.  I was happy to do it.  Then, a few weeks ago, I was called into the care facility where she live to sign a document.  They call it a DNR.  That stands for “do not resuscitate.” All of a sudden, it hit me that the decision-making power I have over another human being is one of the heaviest responsibilities ever laid on my shoulders: to decide whether or not another human being should live or die. 

Decisions.  “Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision: for the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision.”

Today, you are not deciding on dealing with national emergencies or whether or not to send troops into harm’s way.  You may not be facing a decision on whether or not to end someone else’s life.  But you are making decision that will affect your soul and your eternal life. 

One of the most amazing aspects of the way God deals with us is to give us the privilege, the responsibility, the opportunity and the obligation to choose our eternal destiny.  We decide whether or not we are going to obey the Word of God.  We decide who we are going to worship.  Consider for a moment the awesome privilege afforded us.  God leads us to an old rugged cross and tells us to gaze upon the sacrifice of His sinless form as the blood drains away and asks us what we are going to do about it.  We decide if we are going to take salvation seriously or brush it aside as immaterial to living real life in 2011.

Revelation 22:16-17 (KJV)
16 I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star. 17 And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.

Acts 26:28-29 (KJV)
28 Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian. 29 And Paul said, I would to God, that not only thou, but also all that hear me this day, were both almost, and altogether such as I am, except these bonds.

There are three things about making a decision that you must understand. 

  • You have to know enough before you decide.
  • You have to have the power to make the decision.
  • You have to accept the consequences of your choice.

 You have to know enough in order to decide.           

Before you make a major purchase, you need to do your research.  Before you choose a school, you need to get as much information as you can.  But, when it comes to your soul, how can you possibly know the best choice to make?  Here it is:  

When you can’t know the circumstances, you have to know your God! 

2 Timothy 1:12  For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day. 

Consider the case of Abram:

Genesis 12:1-5
1 Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee:
2 And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing:
3 And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.
4 So Abram departed, as the LORD had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him: and Abram was seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran.
5 And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother’s son, and all their substance that they had gathered, and the souls that they had gotten in Haran; and they went forth to go into the land of Canaan; and into the land of Canaan they came. 

What does it take to sell out, pull up stakes and leave?  On what basis does a person decide on such a drastic move?  

This is what I think.  Somewhere, back in Haran, Abraham got to be good friends with God.  So, when God called him to leave the familiar and go into the unfamiliar, Abraham said, “I don’t know where I’m going, but I know who’s telling me to go.  I’m walking by faith.” 

Where is God leading you?

Have you got questions?  Faith is the answer to every question.

Faith meets every adversity.

Faith bridges every disappointment and trial.

When you don’t know, read the Word. 

When it’s not in the Word, get to know the Author of the Word! 

You know enough about repentance, baptism, infilling of the Holy Ghost.

You know enough about sin and salvation, the tribulation and the mark of the beast.

You know enough about how to live righteously in God.


You may not have 100% of the information you would like to have, but that will never happen.  God has given you everything you need to decide for Him. 

You have to have the power to decide.

            The fact is, it’s all in your hands.

            No one is making your decisions for you.

            You alone have the control of the reins of your life. 

I want to take you back to the question of Elijah.  “How long halt ye between two opinions?”  If God be God, serve Him.  If Baal be god, serve him.” 

Here was a whole population vacillating back and forth between two choices.  You might think that the reason for their indecision was that they did know what to do.  No.  They had been schooled from birth onward about the one, true living God.  They were Hebrews.  They knew what to do.  They lacked the will to do what they knew to do.  

It is possible that they were so beaten down by the evil king Ahab and his treacherous wife, Jezebel, that they didn’t think they could decide anything for themselves.  It is possible that the worship of Baal that involved the sacrifice of babies thrown into the fire, ritualistic prostitution, and self-mutilation practices that they lived in total fear.  

This is when Elijah stepped out and called for fire from heaven.  If you read the context of the story, you’ll find that God’s true prophets were in hiding from Jezebel.  The servant Obadiah was scared to death that Ahab was going to kill him.  Paranoia gripped the entire nation of Israel.  The amazing thing that happened before God rained down fire from heaven was that Elijah had the courage to say to Ahab and Jezebel, “You’re not going to decide for me and you’re not going to decide for the people of God!  You don’t have that kind of power!”  

How much power are you ceding to the devil today?  It could be that you are stuck in neutral because you don’t think you can choose.  Maybe your habits are saying that you don’t have the right to make your own decisions.  Maybe your friends are telling you that you are too entangled, too sold out, too far gone to even think that you can escape their clutches. 

It is time for you to say to the Ahabs and Jezebels and the false gods that surround you that the chains are broken! You’ve been running scared long enough.  It is ludicrous that you should have to ask your cigarettes if you can stop smoking.  It is ludicrous that you should ask the drugs and alcohol whether or not they will let you alone.  It is ludicrous that you should check with your “friends” whether or not you can serve God. 

Don’t let Satan strip you of the basic human right that God created in you—the power to decide.    

Deuteronomy 30:19 (KJV)
19 I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live:  

Once you decide, the consequences belong to you. 

Galatians 1:7-8  Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.  8 For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.  

Last year, I preached to you about living with your choices.  

“It comes down to this, you can choose your choice, but you cannot choose your consequences.  When you make your choice, you—of necessity—choose the consequences that go along with the choice.  

“You cannot plant one kind of crop and expect to reap another kind of crop.  If you plant corn, you will reap corn.  If you plant potatoes, you will reap potatoes.  Furthermore, if you plant a low grade of corn, you will not reap a high grade of corn.  Well, you say, I would have planted a high grade, but the seed was too expensive.  I’m sorry.  The consequences of the choice are part and parcel of the choice.” 

You may ask, “Now that I have decided to serve God, what ‘s going to happen to me?”  Jesus has the answer to that question: 

John 14:1-3 Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.  


You need to know enough to decide.

You have the power to decide.

You own the consequences of your decision. 

The Dangers of Decision-making 

I now want to talk to you about the dangers of making a decision.  Even though decisions must be made, be aware that decision making relieves stress, even if the decision is wrong!  

It has been reported many times that people who have made up their minds to commit suicide appear to be relieved of a tremendous load of stress.  They may even seem happy and content.  Indecision causes stress, so it makes sense that making a decision can greatly diminish stress.  

The power to make decisions means that you have the power to make terrible decisions, decisions that can destroy your life.  Some people consciously decide to enter into a life of crime, or perversion, or immorality, or gross sinfulness.  And, they say that they are happy with their decision.  Sometimes, they actually argue that their decision is the best thing for them to do.  

I may be talking to somebody here today who is contemplating a major decision, a decision that you know is going to hit the people in your world like a bomb.  You say, “I feel good about what I am going to do.”  The temporary feeling of the moment is not enough.  The emotional impact of a decision is not the criteria upon which the decision is judged. 

Finally, there’s one more thing that I want to tell you about a decision.  This is what I find most exciting! 

Do not underestimate the power of a right decision! 

Ephesians 3:20  Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,

There is a power that works in us.

When you exercise your power to decide for God, God activates His power to do the miraculous, lift the fallen, heal the brokenness, and set the captive free. 

When you decide for truth, you will have it.  “He whom the Son hath set free is free indeed.” 

When you decide to obey God, watch what He does! 

Malachi 3:10-11  Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it. 11 And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the LORD of hosts.  

God is looking for someone who will decide for revival!

2 Chronicles 16:9 For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him.”  

Your decision is God’s activation signal! 

Years ago, Brother Billy Cole, as a missionary to Thailand, experienced a great revival.  The way it happened over there was unusual in that the altar calls were much different than in the states.  They didn’t have long sessions at the altar, begging and pleading with God for the Holy Ghost baptism.  They simply came and received it.  Brother Cole made a decision.  He decided to take God at His Word.  He began to lead people into repentance, and then praise and worship.  He believed that they would receive the Holy Ghost immediately.  It happened in the Bible that way.  He discovered that it happened in Thailand that way as well. 

Forty years ago, he came to the First Apostolic Church in Toledo when we were located on Jackman Road.  At the close of his message, he asked how many wanted the Holy Ghost baptism.  Twenty-six people raised their hands.  Then, he asked the ushers to set out chairs.  It took time.  It was noisy.  It wasn’t exactly thrilling to see ushers set out chairs.  There was no “Come to Jesus” music filling the sanctuary.  But after everything was in place, he asked for those who wanted the Holy Ghost to come and sit in the chairs and follow some simple instructions.  In a few, short minutes, all twenty-six received the Holy Ghost!  Some of you participated in that service. 

It wasn’t the begging.  It wasn’t the pleading.  It wasn’t the crying.  It was the decision.  There is unbelievable power in making a right decision.  God marshals His forces behind those who decide to take Him at His Word! 

Where are you today?  Are you in the valley of decision?  How long are you going to stay there?  

You know enough to decide.

You have the power to decide.

You can have the rewards of your decision. 

It is time.

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Reader Comments (1)

Spoken directly to the heart of a lost backslider. Thank you! Decision has been made

September 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAngela Roth

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