Straight paths? – Level footings.
Preached at the Beacon Christian Fellowship, Turre – Sunday 15th September 2002
(and at ALBOX – Sunday 25th March 2007)
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Proverbs 2 vv 12-15
A warning to walk in wisdom, and along straight paths.
12 Wisdom will save you from the ways of wicked men, from men whose words are perverse,
13 who leave the straight paths to walk in dark ways,
14 who delight in doing wrong and rejoice in the perverseness of evil,
15 whose paths are crooked and who are devious in their ways.
Proverbs 3 v 6
An instruction to acknowledge the Lord in all our ways, and He will make our paths straight.
in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.
Proverbs 4 vv 10 – 12
When we walk along straight paths, our steps will be easier, not hampered by stumbling blocks.
10 Listen, my son, accept what I say, and the years of your life will be many.
11 I guide you in the way of wisdom and lead you along straight paths.
12 When you walk, your steps will not be hampered; when you run, you will not stumble.
Isaiah 40 vv 3-4
A prophecy of the coming of John the Baptist, predicting that the rough would become smooth!
3 A voice of one calling: “In the desert prepare the way for the LORD;
make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God.
4 Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low;
the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain.
Matthew 3 vv 1-3
An instruction from John the Baptist, to prepare the way of the Lord, and make straight paths for Him.
1 In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the Desert of Judea
2 and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.”
3 This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah:
“A voice of one calling in the desert, `Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.’ “
Proverbs 4 vv 20-27
20 My son, pay attention to what I say; listen closely to my words.
21 Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart;
22 for they are life to those who find them and health to a man’s whole body.
23 Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.
24 Put away perversity from your mouth; keep corrupt talk far from your lips.
25 Let your eyes look straight ahead, fix your gaze directly before you.
26 Make level paths for your feet and take only ways that are firm.
27 Do not swerve to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil.
Amos 7 vv 7-8
God has previously measured up his people, Israel, using a plumb line. A plumb line is a heavy weight on the end of a piece of string which shows if something has been built straight or vertical. if it is not vertical it should be rejected. god is saying here that if we are not upright and straight in our dealings then we are likely to be in for judgement.
7 This is what he showed me: The Lord was standing by a wall that had been built true to plumb, with a plumb line in his hand.
8 And the LORD asked me, “What do you see, Amos?” “A plumb line,” I replied. Then the Lord said, “Look, I am setting a plumb line among my people Israel; I will spare them no longer.
What does God want from us?
Straight paths and vertical lines. God seems to set a very high standard amongst His people. How are we measuring up?
Look around us, look at the corruption we have to face. This land (Spain) is not so different to many others, it is a religious country, but it seems to have few morals.
People like us who come to live here become confused, because it seems there are laws which are written but not followed, even by the authorities. Then there are some unwritten laws which always seem to be closely adhered to.
How brave are we in standing up for our principals?
Are we prepared to stand up for principals only if it doesn’t cost us some property tax?
We are surely not alone when it comes to struggling with the morals surrounding land deals and money transfers. We have all heard of black money which is to top up the official price of a property to the real price. The term black money in itself says so much about what is going on. Black because it lacks light, is obscured and hidden. It lacks light because it cannot stand scrutiny. However, if we want to buy property around here, we are very likely to be faced with a moral dilemma, which is simply about saving the seller and buyer a few €uros in taxes. Will we have the God given courage to make a straight path?
Are we prepared to stand up for our faith, but only if we can keep our friends?
How good are our relationships with our friends? Do we find ourselves compromising just a bit too much when we are around certain people? I once had a friend who was constantly using our Saviour’s name as a swearword, and I was very uncomfortable about this. I mentioned it to him on several occasions over a period of time, that I was offended each time he took the Lord’s name in vain. One day, when this friend visited our house, on the third occasion of blasphemy I lost my temper and told him that he would have to leave, and that he would not be welcome in our house unless he could stop his blaspheming. He has never been back. True friends respect your boundaries, and they respect the straight paths too.
Are we prepared to stand up for our love of God, but only if we can keep our job?
Joyce Meyer relates the story of when she was working for her boss, she received a telephone call for him. When she told him who was on the phone, he told her to say that he was out. Joyce passed the telephone over to her boss and said, You had better tell him that you’re out yourself. She was not prepared to lie, and her boss was furious about it. Later when Joyce explained that she was not prepared to lie, her boss respected her, and she was rapidly promoted. In this case her honesty paid off for her, but she took the risk of losing her job, rather than lie.
Are we prepared to be measured with God’s plumb line when the time comes?
With God, there is no appeal Court, no lies can be covered over, it’s going to be very harsh for some on judgement day.
Did we accept Christ and God’s Grace in vain – what does that mean?
2 Corinthians 6 vv 1 – 10
1 As God’s fellow workers we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain.
2 For he says, “In the time of my favour I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you. “I tell you, now is the time of God’s favour, now is the day of salvation.
3 We put no stumbling block in anyone’s path, so that our ministry will not be discredited.
4 Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses;
5 in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger;
6 in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love;
7 in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left;
8 through glory and dishonour, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors;
9 known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed;
10 sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything.
We must join together in encouraging each other in these verses remembering that
1 Thessalonians 5 v 11 says:
Therefore, encourage one another, and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.