Beth Moore - Thriving in our Choices Part 5
I want you to go with me to the book of James, first of all, James chapter 1. James chapter 1, I want you to go there, and I'm also gonna grab on to Proverbs 3. So, you head over to James 1 and I'm gonna meet you there in just a sec, because I did memory work out of this book, and if I don't keep up with it during, I can only go about ten days between times without beginning to lose it and without beginning to really lose ground on my memory work. So, I have to say it really, really often.
So, when I go through this portion, it reminds me every single time the condition he is putting on this prayer. Listen to this in James chapter 1. It says... I think I wanna go ahead, I think I wanna start with 2. "Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing". Now, here's where we are, 5-8. "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be".
If anybody lacks wisdom, ask the one who gives it without reproach, will never shame you for asking, will never shame me for asking, "And it will be," do you see that? Anytime you see, I mean, that is a promise, and it will be given to you. But watch this in verses 6 and 7. "But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose he will receive anything from the Lord, because he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways".
Now, let that sink in in context, that God is saying if you lack wisdom, and how often is that true? I mean, day to day, just decisions that we need to make regarding our own path, our own work, our own relational choices, a matter that we're involved in, in the way we serve, in our families, whatever it may be. There's a host of choices that we need to make, and we need a lot of wisdom. We need wisdom, but did you notice with me that, for whatever reason, this is, I mean, think about all the things he tells us we can ask him, but this time he tags on, "I don't wanna hear any doubt from you". This is major, because what it's taught me to do, ever since I really got into this book, and I guess that would have been about seven years ago when I started just going through it verse by verse and phrase by phrase, and then ended up writing "Mercy Triumphs".
It occurred to me that when I asked him for wisdom, to go ahead and thank him in advance. That it means something to him that when I say, Lord, I'mma tell you something. "I need a ton of wisdom where this is concerned. I need to be smarter than I am here. I need to know more than I know. I'm asking you for what James goes on to say later in the letter is wisdom from above, not from below. Not carnal wisdom and natural wisdom or demonic wisdom, but wisdom from above, wisdom from on high. And so, when I ask him, I try to always follow it up with, I can expect it, Lord. I thank you in advance. I thank you. I'm not gonna be double-minded about it. I'm not gonna then stress about it. I'm not gonna ask you for wisdom and then have a nervous breakdown because I'm afraid you're not gonna give it to me. You have told me to ask for wisdom and do it without doubting.
So, see what kind of impact it has on you when you are seeking wisdom, when you make that petition, I desperately need you to give me wisdom in this matter", and then you go, "I thank you in advance I'm gonna get it". You're gonna bring it. You're gonna bring it. Now, the companion I want you to see with it, I'm gonna read it to you. You have heard it many, many times if you've been raised in the faith, and if you haven't, you're gonna love it. It's Proverbs 3, I want to read verses 5 and 6. It says this, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths".
So, I'm telling you, put these two things together. So, we're standing at a decision we need desperately to make, we may not have a lot of time to make it, and we're just, like, not really hearing an answer. But when I look back over the course of my life and decisions I made, I see now that some of those decisions were absolutely critical to where he was ultimately leading me, that, at the time, felt like I was going...? Anybody know what I'm talking about, where you think, "I have no idea what I'm supposed to do here"? I mean, sometimes it's, like, clear as a bell. Well, I mean I know that's not it. That's not even biblically in the will of God, so, okay, that one's out. Other times you just got two opportunities, and you're going, "I have no idea what to do here. I have no idea". And I look back on, at the time, his will seemed imperceptible. Like, I wouldn't have known, but I had to come to a place and I finally went.
Somebody's got to be able to relate to me. Does anybody know what I'm talking about? And I look back on that now, and I realize that even in that, when it came right down to it, and I said, "I need you to tell me. I don't know what to do, I don't know what to do," but I'm not hearing any voice. There's not, "Beth, choose B". There's none, and I get down to it, I gotta make a decision, and then it's just like. "Oh, choose that one. Choose that one". And I look back now, and I think, "It was strategic". There are times that we know God's going, "This is the one, this is". There's this gorgeous verse, I know many of you love it the same way that I do.
If you haven't heard it, you're gonna love it, Isaiah 30:18-21. "Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show you mercy. For the Lord is a God of justice, blessed are all those who wait for him. For a people shall dwell in Zion, in Jerusalem you shall weep no more. He shall surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry. As soon as he hears it, he will answer you". Verse 20, "And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your Teacher," I love that, that teacher as a capital T, and so to me, from a New Testament perspective, that is Jesus, "Will not hide himself anymore". I think of that being the incarnation, "But your eyes shall see your Teacher, and your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, 'This is the way, walk in it,' when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left".
I'm just wondering if those times, that somehow, some way, his voice behind me go, "This is the way, walk in it". And over time, the Word and the Holy Spirit just kept drawing me and drawing me and drawing me and drawing me, and Jesus just won me over. Travis has a son, he has the cutest kids. Travis is like, he's my flesh and blood. I've said so many times, in the beginning, 20 years ago, they named this Living Proof... Living Proof is the name of my ministry, and they named it Living Proof Seminar. I've said so many times I signed up for a seminar and I got a son because he's been in my life. His family, they're like blood to us. He's like a brother to my daughters and a son to me, and I love his wife and kids so much. And his youngest kid is just about to turn 15, and he is just, whatever you're picturing as just the consummate high-school athlete, that is Levi Cottrell, and everything about him, and he just talks like a jock. You know what I'm talking about?
And so, I looked at a text that he sent his daddy yesterday, and I wrote it down because I'd never heard anything of this language in my life. It said, he just texted his daddy, "UNC and that thick dub". I'm like... I said, "Buddy, what is a thick dub"? Well, does anybody know? It's a big win, you know, dub is W, so it's like that thick dub. And I thought, you know, that, Lord, it's the first time in my life I've ever prayed that God would come to LPL and bring that thick dub. But somewhere along the way, that thick dub, and he just won me, he just won me. So, here's what we're gonna do. We're gonna ask for wisdom, and we're gonna expect it, and we're gonna acknowledge him as Lord over all our paths. Those are the two things we can do.
If we wanna boil it down, we're gonna be in the Word, so we even know what our direction would be, but we're gonna come to a decision, and we're gonna think, "What choice should I make here? I don't know what to do. I'm not really getting clear leadership. I'm asking you, Lord, for wisdom, and I'm acknowledging you. You're Lord over my path, take it, take it". But say we still don't really know clearly what to do, then you know what we're gonna do? We're just gonna pick one. Pick one, I mean, like, what are you leaning toward? Go, go, and we're gonna have to believe. And listen, if we're wrong, welcome to the human race. You know what I'm saying?
If you did due diligence, if I did due diligence, and still later I think back, "You know, really that wasn't the right choice," okay, so, God can still use it, and we're still called according to his purpose, and he can still work it for good. I have to remember over and over again God's job where I'm concerned is not to make me look good. It's not so everybody can know how victorious she is. That's not it. It's for us to do some good. Anybody got this with me? It's not our happiness that is this huge goal, it's our usefulness. But in the usefulness, we find this peculiar happiness. Can anybody go with me there? That's what has been fulfilling to me, he said in that usefulness, that that usefulness, over and over again, he was after doing some good. That's what he's after in your life. He's got good works prepared in advance for you. Good works that do some good, that do people good. That's his priority. But in that usefulness, we so often find this strange kind of happiness.
Number six, so it's not gonna make any sense. Number six is not gonna make sense to anybody who is not here with us, but with what we've just said, we're looking at James chapter 1, so that we can ask him for wisdom. We're looking to Proverbs chapter 3, acknowledge him in all our paths, and so we come to number six, think high, bow low and choose to trust God's sovereignty. That at some point, you've got to surrender your chronic second guessing, anybody? Just all the second guessing, I bet I should have done that instead. A little different than chronic regret. There's chronic regret, no, I'm talking about just second guessing, second guessing, second guessing, second guessing.
Listen, our compulsive second guessing is getting in the way of our first love. At some point, we gotta go, okay, I'm not positive if that was the right move or not, but I did the best I knew how to do. I sought wisdom, I said I bow to you, this is yours, your authority over it, and so what I'm gonna do is, I'm just gonna bow to your sovereignty, that's what I'm gonna choose, that's what I'm gonna choose, 'cause what I know for sure is you can work it for good. Would you repeat number six with me? We're gonna do what? We're gonna think... High, bow low and choose to trust God's sovereignty. Hallelujah, you are right there in James, what have you got right across from you, the book before it? What do you see? Hebrews, would you go with me to Hebrews chapter 11?
Remember, our whole theme this weekend is about making choices, and we're gonna hear God choosing something right here. And so, it says in Isaiah 58, ah, let's see where I should start. It says in verse 5, because it's talking about in 3 that the people of Israel have said, "Have not we fasted and you saw it not? And we humble ourselves before you, and it's like you have no knowledge of it". And they're saying all this, and he's saying that they've said this to him, and in verse 5, God says this. "Is such the fast that I choose, a day for a person to humble himself? Is it to bow down his head like a reed, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? Will you call this a fast, and a day acceptable to the Lord? Is not this the fast that I choose, to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free"?
Do you hear the power of the gospel? "To break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless and poor into your house; and when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh? Then shall your light break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up speedily, and your righteousness shall go before you, and the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard". Do you hear what he's saying? I'll tell you the fast I've chosen. I've chosen for you to fast from yourself and help somebody.
And so, our next point, which number are we on? Number seven is choose others, choose others. When you and I are making choices, there just comes a time when what will be our healing, and what will be our joy, and what will be our fruitfulness, is that I'm just gonna fast from my own selfishness and I'm gonna get in there and I'm gonna see if I can be a benefit to others. Hebrews 11:24, "By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter". Verse 25, "Choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeing pleasures of sin. He considered," verse 26, "The reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, and he was looking for the reward".
Our world is mass producing narcissists, just mass production. 2 Timothy 3 said it would be so. "In the last days, difficult times will come. For people will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, irreconcilable, slanderers, without self-control, savage, opposed to what is good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, loving pleasure rather than loving God". Does that sound like any world you live in? And if you and I are not gonna get sucked into that, which will be our misery, to live our lives as narcissists will make us miserable. We were created in the image of a God who is a giver, and it is in our lives being filled up with what he came to give us, and poured out for others.
That, that is where meaning comes to us. That is where our joy breaks in. That is where our healing comes from, choose others. I felt like, about a year ago, that God just brought such a revelation to my mind about something. Because I thought, you know one reason why so many of us servants are so terribly and completely exhausted and depleted? Can anybody just stay with me a sec? Because we are pouring out every drop of energy we have to empower the powerful. I'll just wait. People, so many people hurting out there, and we just keep, listen, I'm all for serving whoever, but my belief is that what we're doing here is that we go out from here and we are just, like, multiplied into the thousands of people doing the ministry, serving people the way God has called them to. Be the voice for the voiceless. Anybody know what I'm talking about?
And listen, we think we're gonna be there, so that we can help them find healing. He said then your healing shall come forth. What a marvel, what a marvel, that we've just got this long on this earth, this long on this earth, and to Moses, it was not worth living in his high privilege, there was something worth more than that, that was getting down in there with those people that were oppressed and treated unjustly, coming alongside them and doing the thing with them, and great, great would be his reward. You ready to go to the last one?
You're right in it, you're in Hebrews, I want you to stay there, but I wanna show you, every time I come to the last point, I get a lump in my throat, almost every time. You know, we look so forward to y'all, and then it's just, like, over. And it's like, so we bonded in the Spirit, and it's like, "Bye". I don't know, it's just like, what? I mean, it just seems like we ought to have, like, Bible school for the next week or something. That we just wanna see the fruit, you know, we wanna see the fruit of what God's doing. I think I'm gonna have you... would you just flip, you're right close to it, Revelation 17:14. I wanna show you a verse, 17:14, and remember, don't lose Hebrews 11.
When the last time I studied Revelation with any depth, one of my commentaries, I wish I would have been ready to say this, because what I owe him is to quote him by name, but I wasn't prepared to say it, so I'm not able to do it. But his feeling was that this one verse, Revelation 17:14, capsulizes the entire book of Revelation. So, you might star it, because it's a really, really powerful verse, and it says this. "They will make war on the Lamb," of course, the Lamb is Christ. "They will make war on the Lamb, and the Lamb will conquer them, for he is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those with him are called and chosen and faithful". Called and chosen and faithful. Let me say it again. "He who is the Lamb, who is King of all kings and Lord of all lords, and those who are with him, who are called, chosen, and faithful".
Now listen, he's already done all the calling and the choosing, so I bet you know what number eight is, because it just, like, it brings it all to a finish. Just choose faithfulness, choose faithfulness. Sisters, let's commit to this with one another. There are so many times we cannot change our circumstances. We can't necessarily just catapult ourselves out of our present season and get ourselves into another. So many times, we would change what we were going through. So many times, we would run for our lives from whatever our present surroundings are, but do you know what we can always choose?
Never think to yourself, "I have absolutely no choices. I am out of choices". Nothing feels worse than that. I have no choices. We always have a choice. I can choose to be faithful. What I'd really choose is to get out, but I can always choose to be faithful. I'm gonna be faithful to my God, knowing that he says, Romans 8:18, "For the sufferings of this present time aren't even ready to be compared with the glory that he shall reveal in us". Choose faithfulness.
Last verse, Hebrews chapter 11, verses 32 through 34. "And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell you of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets," verse 33, "Who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions". Verse 34, "Quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. Women received back their dead by resurrection. Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life".
Would you notice what he's describing here? Did you see it where it said that they were made strong out of weakness? Do you know the one thing, the one thing that put them in that chapter, everyone he just mentioned? Is that in their situation, in their weakness, they chose faith. They just chose faith. They just chose faith. They chose to believe God. They chose to go with him. And because they did, he strengthened them and they became someone they could not possibly have become had their lives depended on it.