Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Path to Paradise

The way of a fool seems right to him but a wise man listens to advice. 
- Proverbs 12:15

A good friend recently equated the problem of sin to a vacation he once endured some years back.   To hear him tell the tragically humorous story is to feel for him....  

It's a long way down from Holiday Road 
- Lindsey Buckingham, Holiday Road

A long time videographer, Jed was asked to film a wedding on a beach in Hawaii.   The bride and groom told him they would take care of the cost of the flights if he could handle the expenses once he arrived in Kauai.    He thought, "how much could it cost?  I'll grab a hotel room once I arrive and eat on the cheap.  There will a little bit of work but then again I'll get a great free vacation thrown in!" .....WRONG!

Outlandish hotel costs depleted all his extra spending money.   The logistics of the wedding were a nightmare.   The people he went with were far from easy traveling companions and in the long run he lost a lot of money on the deal.   He had a few days left in Kauai when he realized, "I cannot wait to get out of this paradise!".

Sin will take you further than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay and cost you more than you want to spend!  
- Pastor Tim Chaddick, Reality L.A.

In The Obedience Option David W. Hegg writes that "the deceptive mechanics of sin are such that we overestimate it's benefits while at the same time underestimating it's devastating effects on our lives".

By the time we've realized that we are in error it's typically too late and we're already suffering the consequences of our sin.  Paul warned the church in Galatia, "do not be deceived.  God cannot be mocked.  Whatsoever a man sows he shall reap" (Gal 6:7) .  Life can be a school of hard knocks learning one way or another, either with wisdom or through consequences, that we need wisdom that is beyond our natural ability to grasp. 

There is a way that seems right to a man but in the end it leads to folly.  
- Prov. 14:12 

Researcher have concluded that only 10% of our mind is conscious to us.   Thus it's easy to conclude that a major slice of our decision making process must be driven by our subconscious mind?

Consequently it's supremely important that we seek God's wisdom throughout our day in an effort to make decisions that are fueled by His objective truth rather than making decisions tainted by our subjective experiences, fleeting emotions or compulsive passions.

How many times have I made inner declarations or outer proclamations about my future intentions only to be disappointed in myself as I fail to live up to my own self-imposed expectations?

Do not boast about tomorrow for you do not know what a day may bring forth. 
- Prov. 27:1

Tilling the soil was a big part of first century life.  Goads were used to exert influence over rebellious oxen pricking them to follow the farmer's lead.  If the ox "kicked against the goads" the prick would drive deeper into his flesh creating more suffering for the oxen.   In Acts 26:14 Paul hears a voice essentially telling him that submission to God brings blessing while "kicking against the goads" brings suffering.

I must decrease that He and His will might increase in my life.  Ultimately, He will have His way with me either way.   So what sense does it make to choose to suffer the consequences of disobedience by kicking against the goads?

Paul learned that "having it your way", as the long-running Burger King advertisement preaches, only leads to suffering and confusion in our lives....

But Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. 
- Prov. 3:5-6
Did you notice the "lean not on your own understanding bit"?  The human heart deceives itself.  Jeremiah 17:9 says that no human can even understand the extent of the heart's deceitfulness. 
In Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland, The Cheshire Cat tells Alice, "if you don't know where you're going any road will take you there".  Because we cannot see where certain choices will lead us, trusting an all-knowing God who has our best interests at heart is the only wise choice.   Obedience and faith grow simultaneously and snowball into the holiness that glorifies God and brings us into a deeper knowledge of Him.   This is His path for us.

In his heart a man makes his plans but the Lord determines his steps.
- Prov. 16:9 

Jed did not understand the expenses, the complexities of the work or the relational dynamics of his "free" vacation to Hawaii.   Thus he was blind to the difficulties that lay ahead.   We only know ourselves to the degree that we know the one whose image we bear.   Jesus Christ has made a way for us; in Him we have "Sonship" with God (Eph 1:5). 

So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven.
- Matthew 10:32 

Resting in the Father's wisdom does not keep us from difficult choices or suffering but it will put us on the path towards righteousness paved with Spirit-led obedience. The sinner who hung on the cross to die beside Jesus recognized Jesus for who He was and believed.  Christ then told him, "today you will be with me in paradise" (Luke 23:43).  Even during his last breaths of life Christ pointed the way to paradise and absorbing our debt offered all the key to the kingdom of Heaven.

In knowing Jesus we know the way.

Blessings and Happy Trails,

This Week

* Tyler Men's Gathering - 7am Wednesday AM

   The Obedience Option - Chapter 5
   2 American Center, 5th Floor (Ritcheson Law Firm)

* Please pray for us this week as we meet with several couples whose marriages need Christ's healing and redemptive touch.


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