Most of us long for miracles. And Jesus’ perfect life, death on sinners’ behalf as the fulfillment of Passover, and His physical resurrection prove that He is willing and able to meet our greatest needs: complete forgiveness and a new heart to follow Him as our living King. But even in the Bible, most of the journey with Jesus is lived in the moments between miracles. In this 50-day series, we’ll consider some of those moments leading up to the next great miracle in the New Testament: the fulfillment of Pentecost and the incredible growth of the Church.
Most of us would probably agree that it’s usually easy to tell the difference between good and bad decisions: feeding our families junk food or feeding them balanced meals, nightly vegging out in front of screens or helping each other with real responsibilities, etc. It can be much harder to discern between good and better decisions. So is it okay to “flip a coin” for major decisions?
Acts 1:12ff suggests that it is, given that all other important parts are equal.
You may be familiar with the backstory. Judas had betrayed the Lord Jesus, in keeping with prophecy. (Zechariah 11:12-13, Psalm 69:25 in light of Acts 1:20) The Lord had even identified Judas at the last supper before He was arrested. (Matthew 26:25) So, after Jesus had risen, given His disciples their marching orders, and ascended back into heaven, Peter prompted the Apostles to replace Judas, according to prophecy. (Psalm 109:8 in light of Acts 1:20)
But their decision wasn’t left only to drawing lots. The candidates would also have to meet important and specific criteria. First, the person who would join the ranks of the twelve Apostles must “have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John until the day when He was taken up from us.” (Acts 1:21-22) And second, their prayer that “(You) Lord, who know the hearts of all” implies that the person must truly love the Lord, for even the disciples had been fooled by Judas. And after they cast lots, Matthias was chosen. (Acts 1:26)
These two factors of external evidence and internal integrity should guide most of our decisions. We may not always have the level of external evidence that we would like in every case, but the more we have the easier it can be to see which option is better. Whether we’re considering decisions at work or planning a day for the family, external evidences build a stronger case for some options over others. We might even say that’s common sense. Yet how often have choices been made simply based on someone’s desire, personality, “we’ve always done it this way”, or because it seemed the easiest route to fast results? And none of those guarantee success, much less a godly choice. External evidence can verify good choices, but heeding or ignoring the evidence is often an indication of our own internal integrity.
Knowing a person’s internal integrity or even our own requires prayer.
Over and over, God’s Word reminds us that we often do not know the depths of our own hearts or others’ (Proverbs 20:5, Jeremiah 17:9, Obadiah 1:3, Romans 7:11, 1 Timothy 4:2), but God does. (Psalm 44:21, Luke 16:15, Acts 15:8, Romans 8:26-27, 1 John 3:20) We must always call on the Lord to guide us because we can never see as clearly as He does.
The Lord guides His people by the clear commands of His Word, but He also guides us by His acts of providence. When we are considering college, marriage, jobs, etc. He closes some doors and opens others. Sometimes He does this to nudge us away from some paths toward other directions or other timing (compare Acts 16:7 and the later letter of 1 Peter 1:1), and sometimes He does it to test and build our faithfulness. (Luke 18:1-8)
The need for external evidence calls us to be responsible in weighing the options. The need for internal evidence calls us to trust God with ultimate decision and the results.
I hope today’s thought and others in this series will be helpful to you as you journey with Jesus in the moments between miracles.
Unless otherwise indicated, Jeff Dillard is the author of all posts in this blog, the goal of which is your greater joy in Christ through leadership and counseling. Jeff and his wife, Lauren, have been married since 1995. By God’s grace, they have four wonderful children and two grandchildren. Jeff was ordained by the Presbyterian Church in America and commissioned as an Army Chaplain in 1998. He has Master’s degrees in Divinity, History, and Counseling. Since 1998, he’s had the privilege of equipping and encouraging others’ faith and service to the Lord Jesus by leading congregations and counseling in multicultural settings across the United States. Seven of those years have been in Germany, Korea, and Iraq. For leisure, Jeff enjoys simple time with his family, exercise, playing guitar and trumpet, and trying foreign foods with friends.
Please note that the contents of tools4trenches do not necessarily reflect specific beliefs or practices of organizations in which Jeff works or worships.