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Casting lots


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#1 Travis Richey

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Posted 23 September 2010 - 05:21 PM

Proverbs 16:33 says, "The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD." And Acts 1:26 reads, "Then they cast lots, and the lot fell to Matthias; so he was added to the eleven apostles."

Would 'casting lots', or todays equivalent of flipping a coin, be an appropiate means of making a decision? If, as in Acts, a matter has been prayed about, then can the decision be placed in the Lord's hands by casting lots and trusting the result is God's Will? And when would casting lots be considered right? After a month, or a year, or a decade of praying for an answer and seeing no answer?

Your thoughts please.

#2 Marvin Harrell

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Posted 24 September 2010 - 07:06 AM

That is a tough one, Travis. I recall the scriptures that say "my sheep hear my voice" and "you will know his good, pleasing, and perfect will," and yet sometimes I'm not hearing or knowing. Can't say as I have ever cast lots, but I tend to think that "God won't drive a parked car" so I tend to head cautiously in the direction I get the best sense of. I guess it is kind of like driving on the ice...slow and steady wins the race.

There have been times when I hear and know...and move rapidly in that direction. I guess that's why this life is the great adventure! I'm praying for your decision and that you will hear Him telling you which way to go, Travis.
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#3 Travis Richey

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Posted 24 September 2010 - 05:35 PM

I had thought of posting this under the post about Surrender, because in my mind, the casting of lots has a lot to do with surrendering. Let me explain a little further. The decision my wife and I are faced with is over something we are and have been deeply involved in for a long time. As a result, we question our own abilities to remove ourselves in mind, will and emotions from the situation enough to be able to hear the Lord's answer. And I have to doubt my ability to be truly able to surrender my will to God's will, because I am so involved in all of it. Add to that the fact that I battle pride and arrogance on an almost daily basis, and the casting of lots begins to seem to me a very clear way of finding this particular answer, and knowing that I had nothing to do with the decision. In other words, I would be totally surrendering myself to the flipping of the coin, or whatever means would be employed. Of course, the difficulty would then be avoiding the temptation to tell God, "best two out of three" if I don't like the way it goes....lol.

I thank you for your prayers, and I shall let you know how we decide to decide, and what that decision results in. No matter what though, The Word still reminds us "that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."

#4 Matthew Holmes

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Posted 29 September 2010 - 09:32 AM

I've wondered about this too. I've always heard that the Spirit replaced lots in the decision making process. Are there any references to lot casting after the apostles (or rather God) picked Mathias?

When I think of flipping a coin for big decisions in my life though, WOW that would require trust that God is in it!

#5 Julie Daube

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Posted 29 September 2010 - 09:54 AM

Matt, I had heard the same thing about the Spirit replacing the lots. I don't recall if lots were used after the choosing of Matthias. One thing I can say that we can't reduce God to a formula. In other words, if we look at Scripture and see that one particular approach (formula) "worked" at a given time (whether it's casting lots, putting out a fleece, or whatever) and then decide to use that same approach all the time, we are really putting our trust in the formula and not in God. That's just my two cents!

#6 RuthAnn Nicholls

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Posted 02 October 2010 - 01:58 PM

I had a similar struggle about 15 years ago. I had been doing a chronological reading of the Bible, just a few verses or a few chapters each day depending on how much time I had that morning. I had just returned to the Lord after many decades away from God. I was getting to know Him all over again. I would ask the Lord to show me his truth each morning before i read. Then I would read the Bible where I left off the day before and read as far as I could. Then I would pray for those in need. That was my discipline.

This time in my life, we had what seemed to me a huge decision. My husband left it up to me as he was working and it didn't matter as much to him. It seemed so crucial at the time.

I had been praying for the answer for a couple of months. Nothing came.

This one day, I prayed for God to show me what we should do. I felt I was against a wall and had no idea what to do. And it seemed so important. Then I read where I had left off the day before. Judges 6. Gideon not only had thrown out fleece-twice! but he had earlier asked the Angel of God to prove he was who he said!

I read the chapter.

Then I wondered if God wanted me to throw out a fleece. It was just so opportune that I read that chapter that morning. So I prayed asking if that was what God wanted.
After I asked, I believe God spoke to me quite clearly, the only time I have ever heard such communication. I told God I thought it was tempting him to throw out a fleece. The thought came to me, again, clearly, 'You are mine. Whatever you decide is my will for you.' I was filled with wonder!

I felt a weight lifted.
I pulled out the documents that were related to this decision and reread a letter that was the last correspondence. Suddenly I saw this entire situation differently. The decision was so obvious!

From then on, whenever I can't decide, I consider options, pray and decide. I no longer worry about making the correct decision. If I am abiding in my Lord, talking with Him and reading his words to me, I will make the correct decision.

On looking back, that impossible decision was not worth all of my anxiety. And the correct path was taken. My husband and I both believe we took the right path.

I think He taught me an important lesson that day. And I praise Him for it. I can count on him in every detail of my life.

I don't know if that's any help, Travis, but your post made me remember this wonderful morning of my life!

I want to live my life so that every morning
when I wake up Satan says, "Oh, no! She's awake!


#7 Ruthie Hankins

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Posted 04 October 2010 - 03:36 PM

I see that you sited the passage in Acts where they cast lots to decide who would take Judas' place among the apostles. The lot fell to Matthias. When you look further in Acts, do you ever hear about Matthias again? I don't think so. Could it be that God didn't want either of the two choices presented (Matthias or Joseph called Justus) and really wanted the eleven to wait until Paul (Saul of Tarsus) was ready to fill this spot?

I wouldn't make a major life desicion based on "casting lots". In my experience, better insight comes from searching the scriptures to see if they have anything specific to say on the issue, or if the Holy Spirit speaks more specifically to you through the Scriptures about the matter. Then I would also look for godly counsel from a pastor or other leader I trust. Finally I really like what RuthAnn wrote, that God spoke to her saying whatever she decided was His will for her because she is His. I think sometimes we stress over a decision, wanting to know exactly what God's will is, when he just wants us to commit the matter to him in prayer, do our homework (consulting Scripture and godly counsel) and then make a decision.

#8 Julie Daube

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Posted 05 October 2010 - 11:22 AM

I also liked what Ruth Ann said. I believe either Simpson or Tozer said essentially the same thing (that when it comes to decisions not addressed in Scripture, believers are free to do as they will, because they belong to Jesus).

#9 Travis Richey

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Posted 25 October 2010 - 06:05 PM

As an update on this post, the lot was cast on Sept. 30. I appeciate very much everyone's input to this question. I can say a couple of things. The decision of the lot was not how I would have decided the question that night, or even now. That casting of the lot did however remove the doubts and the stresses that had been haning over the decision. I wish I could say that the next day saw a miracle in the circumstances that surrounded the decision, but it didn't. But each day since that night has brought about a clarity in this circumstance, and in many others as well. I will continue to move forward believing that God made this decision, and that this will work out according to His Will, Praise His Holy Name!!!

#10 Mark Wood

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Posted 26 October 2010 - 01:21 AM

As an update on this post, the lot was cast on Sept. 30. I appeciate very much everyone's input to this question. I can say a couple of things. The decision of the lot was not how I would have decided the question that night, or even now. That casting of the lot did however remove the doubts and the stresses that had been haning over the decision. I wish I could say that the next day saw a miracle in the circumstances that surrounded the decision, but it didn't. But each day since that night has brought about a clarity in this circumstance, and in many others as well. I will continue to move forward believing that God made this decision, and that this will work out according to His Will, Praise His Holy Name!!!


Travis, I'm glad you have made the decision. You have received good insight from many here. One thing I am coming to see is that often we don't hear or receive and answer because God's desire is for us to ask others and join in our struggle or decision. I think lots are legit (no one mentioned the thummim and urim). However I see in my own life a reluctance to share with others and gain their Godly wisdom and insight. If you have not I would encourage you to share your decision with a pastor or Godly couple you look up to.