Welcome to Daily Steps!
A weekly devotional message with daily scripture readings, prayer prompts, and action steps to help you spend time with Jesus and strengthen your relationship with Him.
Luke 6:12-13 "One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. When morning came, He called His disciples to Him and chose twelve of them, whom He also designated apostles."
Decision Making in the Hands of Jesus
Perhaps you've heard this famous quote from John Lennon: “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” While that sentiment sounds highly agnostic and coldly cynical it’s not that far off from the real — but thankfully more comforting — truth. Proverbs 16:9 says, "We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.” In other words, as author Emily P. Freeman said in her Next Right Thing podcast, “God will not let you miss your own future.” Now that’s not to say that we can’t do things that will put us far off course for a while. Revisit the story of Jonah and you’ll see exactly how God deals with us when we wander from — or purposefully rebel against — His calling in our lives. God used the power of the sea and a mighty whale to give Jonah a much-needed course correction. In that story, we vividly witness the force of God’s love colliding with Jonah’s self-induced pain to generate a staggering amount of positive change among hurting and lost people.
Initially, Jonah made the wrong choice because his first step in the decision process was to put as much distance as he could between him and God. Jesus, on the other hand, made it a priority every day to remove as much distance as possible between Him and God. Of course, Jonah was so caught up in his own fears, opinions, and prejudices that he failed to realize that no matter how far away he ran down the wrong path, God would be right beside him all the way urging him to listen, abide, and obey. Jonah wanted to make his own decisions, while Jesus wanted His Father to make them for Him. Luke 6:12-13 tells us everything we need to know about making the right decisions — get close to God in prayer and don't leave His presence until He speaks. The night before Jesus appointed His most important ministry partners — the apostles — He leaned into God's presence until dawn. Nothing was more important than choosing the right team members for the next three years of history-making work... not sleep, not what the crowds wanted or needed from Him... not anything. Despite His miraculous power and perfect wisdom, Jesus still chose the path of discomfort and inconvenience in order to be alone in His Father's presence as long as necessary.
The path to good decision-making begins, ends, and includes prayer every step of the way. Sometimes the choices we have to make have deadlines that may require staying up all night and pressing into Jesus until you receive His clear direction. More often than not, our day-to-day decisions seem smaller or less urgent, so we may toss up an occasional prayer or rely on our own reasoning and experience to determine what God wants us to do. This is one of the most serious mistakes we can make because the small and medium-sized decisions in our lives add up over time to forever alter the impact we could've had to love and serve others as Jesus did. While great sacrifice is often required to actively engage with God and invite Him to move freely in our daily habits, priorities, and choices, the blessings He will pour out because of wise decisions will far exceed anything we can even imagine. We're no different from Jonah in so many ways. Each one of us has a God-ordained destiny intricately designed to change or impact someone else’s trajectory. The problem is that we are usually too focused on the quickest and easiest way to get there, rather than resting and abiding in Jesus along the way. Jesus may not have gotten much sleep the night before He chose His disciples, but His vision was clear and His strength was renewed when He finished His mountainside prayer. Prayer does more than we can fathom with our finite minds, so if Jesus needed it, how much more do we?
Daily Bible Readings
This week, as you go through the daily readings below, ask the Holy Spirit to make each of the passages deeply personal and applicable to you. (NOTE: We suggest that you read each of these passages in several different versions of the Bible, including at least one paraphrase version.) As you contemplate these passages, make time to pray before and after you read them. Write down anything the Holy Spirit whispers to your soul.
Monday - Read Jonah 1-3 and ask God to reveal Himself to you through the story of this prophet who ran from the Lord’s calling. How do you see yourself in Jonah’s behavior? Which times of pain in your life do you think God intended as a course correction? Recall what happened and ask the Lord to fill your heart with gratitude and vision for how He provided for you during that time.
Tuesday - Read John 15:1-17. When we abide in Him, God’s plan for us will be fulfilled. We will bear good fruit by learning to literally breathe, think, and move within the framework of our personal relationship with Him. As we abide, He will prune us. It will hurt, but when we operate under His influence we will be able to see the purpose in the pain and visualize His dreams for us coming true. The fruit born out of a time of suffering and pain will ripen into joyous sweetness and savory satisfaction. In this passage of Scripture, Jesus brilliantly covers all of the decisions we’ll face in life. Spend time asking God to show you how you can abide more closely in Him.
Wednesday - Read Psalm 40 and James 1:5. Our natural talents, skills, and ability to reason will only carry us so far when making a decision about an idea or opportunity. Yes, God gave us a brain in order for us to use it, but His intention was that we submit it to Him for shepherding of our thought processes. AW Tozer said, “God will speak to the hearts of those who prepare themselves to hear.” When we move in the Holy Spirit’s leading, versus our own, every gift we possess has the potential to be directed and used by Him and in His timing (not ours!). We were created in His image and when we operate within His framework, any opportunity or idea can be effectively evaluated through His perspective.
Thursday - Read 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18. The Holy Spirit never acts like a high-pressure salesperson. That's simply not His way of doing things or motivating us to do something for Him. God will always give us time to seek Him and He doesn’t provide direction through circumstances alone. If life presents you with a challenging decision or opportunity, the Holy Spirit will speak to provide you with confirmation, usually through specific Scriptures, in prayer, and wise counsel. Are there any decisions you're wrestling with right now or perhaps procrastinating about? Lay them at God's feet hour by hour, day by day, and ask Him to open your eyes to seeing His direction and hearing His voice.
Friday - Read Psalm 29 and spend time meditating on the power, glory, and sovereignty (supreme authority and control) of your loving Heavenly Father. The same God who controls the universe invites you into His presence... to seek shelter under His wing. The core of our doubts or unbelief is usually tethered to a denial or rejection of God’s sovereignty. We want control of our own lives and the outcomes. We want to be our own arbiters of what’s fair and when things occur in our lives. Take a deep look in your heart and if you suspect that doubt, denial, or bitterness exists regarding God’s rightful control over your life, set aside some time to press into the presence of Jesus until you experience reassurance of His love and an outpouring of His peace.
TAKE YOUR NEXT STEP
Grow closer to God each day and explore what it means to be a part of bringing the Kingdom of Heaven down to earth.
Want to Go Even Further?
Check out our companion study guide to use with your community group, neighbors, or family members! Each week includes thought-provoking questions for discussion or individual study based on this week's sermon topic.