God has given great signs showing His will and way. Where do you draw spiritual stop lines on your spiritual journey? This sermon examines an analogy of God's signs, our personal responsibility in drawing spiritual stop lines and how it applies in our life.
[Steve Myers] Well, today most of us drove here. Anyone not drive here or come with someone else in a car? Most everybody came in a car, right? It seems that you can learn many lessons from driving.
Now Ohio has unique aspects to its highway laws. For a while we lived in New Orleans, Louisiana, and that’s a unique place. Many times I would be totally lost because of canals or one-way streets - all kinds of difficulties that you run into that are unique to New Orleans.
In fact, there was one intersection that I often came to that you could predict, pretty accurately, that the city was having financial needs because just down the block there would be a policeman, right near this intersection and I think it was his job to wave at the drivers that went through this particular intersection. Now it wasn’t that kind of wave, it was more like … (showing the brethren) and I hadn’t been sure exactly what the problem was, but I think they were mute and had a difficult time speaking, because they would pull out a pad and begin writing notes and give it to the drivers that they were telling to pull over.
Now, you may be wondering why I have such detailed knowledge about this particular intersection. Yeah, it wasn’t just a friendly, “Hi, how are you?” kind of a note. It was a ticket and there was a time I went to a traffic court to try to appeal one of those tickets, and I got an interesting judge in that particular courtroom.
There was a fellow who had been through that same intersection, and he was explaining about his situation. And I was paying very close attention, because I thought, “Well, we’ll see if he gets around this and I will use the same strategy.” And so he said, “Well, Judge, I came up to this intersection, I slowed down, I looked both ways, and then I kept going right into the intersection, so I was perfectly safe”. And the judge looked at him and he said: “Alright, think of it this way. What if the policeman who pulled you over took out his baton and started beating you on the head? Would you like him to slow down or stop?” Okay, point made. I guess I wasn’t going to get very far with this judge at all.
And yet, thinking about this particular situation, I could have avoided court. I could have avoided the note from that not so friendly police officer if I would have done one thing – if I would have paid attention to the stop line. If I would have paid attention to that little line, I could have avoided the whole situation.
Now you might ask, what is a stop line? Well, it is that great big white stripe that is there at a stop light or a stop sign. Sometimes they’ll call them a stop bar, but normally they are called stop lines and they are right there at a stop light or a stop sign. Usually it begins at the curb and then comes all the way into that lane to show you this is where you are supposed to stop. And so, as you approach a stop sign or a stop light, you see the line, it is coming right across in front of you and you can bring your vehicle to a halt right there. Or maybe it is that white line that is underneath your car as you drove through that stop line.
What’s the purpose? Have you noticed those? What’s the purpose of those stop lines? Well, it is supposed to tell the driver this is where you stop. This is the limit. This is where you’re legally able to go without violating the law. This is where you need to stop. So it tells you this is a requirement. This isn’t just a suggestion. You must stop. That is what the stop sign tells you. The stop light, if it is red, says you must stop. Now the stop line tells you this is where you stop. So the sign tells you, you must; the line says here is where you do it. Now, what if there isn’t a line on the street? Well, if you know your Ohio’s Drivers Manual, you are to imagine a line that extends from the stop sign all the way into that lane that comes all the way across, perpendicular to that stop sign. So even though you might not see it, it’s there, or at least the policeman sees it, so you better imagine where that line is because that is the legal limit. That is legally how far you can go before stopping your car.
Now why, why do they have these lines drawn on the road? Is it just because the city doesn’t have anything better to do with their money – anything like that? They just like to spend money and put workers to work with spray cans and that sort of thing? No, of course not. One of the reasons: it is supposed to protect you. You are driving your car. If you don’t stop at the stop lines you run the risk of running right into that intersection. You run into the intersection, you could be hurt – and even if only the driver’s airbag goes off, those things hurt. You could be hurt. You could be maimed. You could damage your car. It could result in hundreds of dollars, thousands of dollars of damage to your car if you don’t pay attention and of course then all the hurt and the pain, suffering that goes along with that. It could last for weeks or months or even a life time.
So, that line is supposed to protect you, your driver, your passenger, protect those in your vehicle. And of course, it doesn’t stop there. It’s also on that road to protect other drivers – people that are coming from another direction. If you don’t pay attention to that stop line, you could go over the line, into the intersection. Someone else could hit you. They could get hurt. And so it is to protect them as well.
Of course, there is also one other group of people it protects. Normally, those stop lines are in front of the crosswalk. Pedestrians walk in the crosswalk. Now I know you’ve never done this. You’ve never gone over that line and the pedestrians have to try to wind their way around your car – that, of course, would never happened. So those stop lines are supposed to protect the pedestrians as well from getting hurt, or taking out their legs, from a driver who ignores the line. So it is supposed to help all of those people. They are there for our protection; they are there for our safety. They are there to protect the drivers, the passengers, the other drivers and the pedestrians, as well.
And, of course, when you begin to think about this whole idea of stop lines, how do people react to stop lines? Sometimes the reaction is, “Huh? What are you talking about? I’ve never heard of those things. I don’t know what you are talking about.” They don’t recognize a stop line. Of course, another group of people see that they are necessary. They are there for a purpose but you know, it’s pretty rare that any one would ever really get hurt from kind of going over a little bit or rolling through something like that. It is really not such big a deal. “If I kind of slow down pretty much and almost stop, it’s not really that important, is it?”
Of course, then there’s another group that knows exactly what those lines are for, and they don’t stop. They say, “You know these lines? They are painted so far back from the intersection, it is ridiculous. Why would I want to stop back there? I want to see everything that is going on. I am not paying any attention to those dumb lines. Why is the city wasting its money and all this paint? Any good driver should be able to recognize this. I am not going to do it. I am just going to disregard this line and I am going to do what I want to do, because I am a safe driver. I think I am okay. I think I know best.”
Of course, there is also another group – another group that actually recognize those lines and obey what the line is telling them to do. They recognize this is there for everyone’s safety. This is there for everyone’s protection and so they obey, not only the stop sign, but that stop line.
Now you are probably thinking, “What? I needed a driver’s education lesson today or what?” No, no, that is not the case. The point: There is a spiritual connection between physical stop lines and what I would like to talk about.
I would like to talk about spiritual stop lines – spiritual stop lines.
We know God’s signs. Most of us can probably feel pretty confident. We know the signs. God’s given us specific signs that show us His will – His way. We’ve got the big ten. The Ten Commandments are signs that God shows this is the way. “You want a right relationship with Me? You should follow these signs. You should obey these signs. Don’t go any further than some of these things that I say, and you will be safe. You will be protected. Life will be so much better if you follow My signs.”
So God gives directions in that way and He erects huge signs, in that sense, so we don’t get hurt. I think that is important, because as we think about these signs that God’s given us, He has also given us a responsibility when it comes to those signs. He’s given us the spiritual stop lines and the important part is, there is not some city crew out here with big white cans painting things on the road for us, spiritually speaking. God has given us that spiritual paint can, and you and I get to decide where do I paint this line in my life? Here’s God’s sign. He says this is what you need to do, now where do I put the line on the road? What is my personal standard that’s based on the law of God? Based on God’s signs, where do I draw my stop line, according to what God has given me? How do I choose my personal stop line, since God has already given me the sign? Where is my line to go?
So let’s think about that for a minute. Where do you draw the line? Where do you draw the line? You see one of the reasons this is important – if you think of it in terms of driving and you think of God’s signs that show us how to live, where to go, how to stop, which direction we should be – when we come to some of those intersections, they can be very dangerous, especially if you think spiritually.
Ephesians talks about the fact that we are battling spiritual wickedness in high places. When you think about that in terms of driving in some of those high places…. Have you ever seen those big monster trucks? They’ve got wheels that are this tall. We’ve got a demonic world out there, that is waiting at the intersection with their monster truck ready, for us to roll over that stop sign and get blasted by this monster truck. They would love to take us out. They would love for us to careen into an intersection so they could run us over, so we could lose our way. We could get off track and so we don’t want that. So God gives us that responsibility to paint those lines – those spiritual stop lines, according to God’s inspiration and guidance that He gives us in His way – His signs.
Let’s think about a couple of those examples that can maybe help us to see a little bit differently into God’s signs. We know God gives us the Big Ten in Exodus 20.
One of the big ones for all here today is: Remember the Sabbath. Keep it holy. We know what that passage says in Exodus 20:8 Exodus 20:8Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.
American King James Version×. We are to remember the Sabbath day. Well, where do we draw the line when it comes to the Sabbath?
Of course, in all of our families we are a little different. There might be minor little differences in certain situations that that line might be a little different for us as different families. But, we find ourselves slipping into the Sabbath intersection. Is it a minor violation or is it something that could really get us into trouble? Well, depending where we draw that line, do we get into Sabbath distractions that pull us off our path or maybe…maybe some times we are just driving down the road and we are in high gear and we are rolling along on Friday and we are moving full out, and here comes the stop sign of the Sabbath, and as we are getting closer we go uh-oh. We hit the brakes and we slide right into that Sabbath intersection.
Ever happened? Where is the line? Where was our line drawn to help us to recognize where we needed to stop? We know Leviticus 23:32 Leviticus 23:32It shall be to you a sabbath of rest, and you shall afflict your souls: in the ninth day of the month at even, from even to even, shall you celebrate your sabbath.
American King James Version×– it tells us we are supposed to remember that Sabbath. We are to keep it holy from sunset to sunset. Evening to evening we keep our Sabbath. Or do we slam on the brakes running into it? Are we ready for the Sabbath? Do we realize the Sabbath is an amazing opportunity to develop our relationship with God that much more deeply?
Or maybe we slip into that intersection, because you know, TV’s already on, movie is already playing – it is not that much longer. “I’ll finish up this show and then I’ll think about God a little bit,” and an hour later, finally it ends. “Well, maybe I should turn it off now. I am sure God would understand. He wouldn’t mind if I just finish up the show, right?” So we may think in those terms, but where does that put the line that God wants us to draw for our own selves?
Maybe, maybe it’s, “Oh, I think I will watch a little news. It is always good to keep up on the news.” Certainly nothing wrong with that. We want to know what’s happening. We need to be aware. We want to watch – we want to be updated on what’s happening in the world – so we can see maybe how prophetic events are coming together. That’s all great, it’s wonderful. Not a thing wrong with that. So I turn on the news on the Sabbath and I can watch Blitzer, or I can watch Cooper, and then Dobbs, and then Greta, and I can let it go into Hannity and O’Reilly and all the way down the line. Maybe, after hours and hours, I finally turn it off. Oh, the Sabbath is over. Okay. Guess I caught up on all…every little bit of news. And when we do that, I mean, don’t we find ourselves into the intersection? We watch one after another after another after another and we find ourselves in the danger zone. You see, I think God says, “Where do you draw your line?” Where do you draw your line?
There is another one, the big one – Exodus 20 talks about it: Don’t have any other gods before Me – no other gods. Love the Lord your God – we know Christ said that with all our heart with all our soul, with all our mind. That is the commandment. I know that sign. I understand that sign. Where do we draw the line? Where do we draw our personal spiritual stop line, when it comes to “no other gods before Me”?
Well, I know as a spiritual person I should be praying. I am supposed to be developing my relationship with God. He has given me His amazing Word and I need to talk to Him. I need to grow in my relationship; I need to pray; I need to praise Him; I need to honor Him; I need to worship God. Certainly those things are part of what I know. I know the sign. I know I should come before God. I know that I should talk about the problems and the difficulties, the sins that I’m dealing with. I need His forgiveness. I want His forgiveness. I understand I have to pray and talk to Him about those things. I want His will done in my life. I want to respond to His Spirit. I want to be submissive to His ways. I want to thank Him. I want to honor Him in that way. I want to ask Him to give me wisdom.
I know the sign, but you know, when it comes to doing it, we’re just kind of roll right through it, and it’s not really a complete, well thought out stop – then an afterthought – an afterthought – kind of rolling through the intersection. You know, I think sometimes it is kind of like that, isn’t it? I mean it’s, “Yes, we’re guilty of that. I am guilty of that. I am at the spiritual stop light and I am waiting for that thing to change, and I know I am in a hurry, and the lights are going to change, so I’ve got to go.” Do we do that? I mean once in a while, you’ve got to – that’s life – but if that becomes our habit, where have we painted that spiritual stop line?
Paul told the Thessalonians – he said, “Pray without ceasing.” We should be in an attitude and a mindset of prayer, and honor, and worship to God all the time. Now of course, that is a challenge in our world, but how does it apply?
That’s where we come into play. That’s where God has given us that responsibility to not just take it lightly – not just think we know the rules of the road – but really come to see it as it really is in our life. How is the condition of that intersection, you know, in our spiritual life? Where have we placed that line? Have we placed it in a fashion to avoid running into short-changing God, just waiting for that light to change?
Another example in Exodus 20. He tells us: Do not commit adultery. “Well, I am not going to cheat on my mate. Of course not. I would never do that.” We know that seventh great stop sign tells us very specifically, but yet, what about the line? What about the line? We know the sign. What about that line that we need to draw?
There is an interesting example of this – one that we are familiar with. It is over in Genesis 39. It is the story of Joseph – one that we are very familiar with. We know that Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers, right? They threw him into the pit. They took his coat, they told dad he is dead – sold Joseph down in Egypt. Joseph comes into favor, because he is a talented young man, and he comes to work for a man named Potiphar. He comes into his household – becomes the steward – watches over everything in his house. And all was great, except there was a problem. Look at Genesis 39:6 Genesis 39:6And he left all that he had in Joseph's hand; and he knew not ought he had, save the bread which he did eat. And Joseph was a goodly person, and well favored.
American King James Version×. I am going to read this from God’s Word Translation so it might be a little bit different than yours. It says:
Genesis 39:6 Genesis 39:6And he left all that he had in Joseph's hand; and he knew not ought he had, save the bread which he did eat. And Joseph was a goodly person, and well favored.
American King James Version×– … Joseph was well built and handsome – at the end of verse 6.
So this guy – pretty cool, right?
V.7 – After a while his master’s wife began to desire Joseph. So she said, “Come to bed with me.”
All right, Joseph knows the sign. What’s he going to do?
V.8 - Joseph refused and he said to her, “My master doesn’t concern himself with anything in the house. He trusts me with everything he owns. No one in the house is greater than I. He’s kept nothing back from me except you because you are his wife. How could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?”
Now it says:
V.10 - Although she kept asking Joseph day after day he refused to go to bed with her or be with her. One day he went into the house to do his work. None of the household servants were there. She grabbed him by his clothes and said, “Come to bed with me.” But he took off. He ran outside, left his clothes in her hand.
Joseph knew where to paint the line, didn’t he? Can you imagine running out of that house in your underwear? That is kind of what he did, didn’t he? He left his cloak right there in her hands and he took off. He just took off. He recognized the fact he had to draw the line, because this woman was after him. She was after him day after day after day after day, and it is interesting he had to adjust the line. He already had a line drawn, but once he was in this situation, he’s at that intersection. Did you notice what it says he did? If you look at the end of Genesis 29:10 Genesis 29:10And it came to pass, when Jacob saw Rachel the daughter of Laban his mother's brother, and the sheep of Laban his mother's brother, that Jacob went near, and rolled the stone from the well's mouth, and watered the flock of Laban his mother's brother.
American King James Version×, not only did he refuse her, but he wouldn’t be with her.
So that meant the line changed. This is a tough situation. I can’t just be normal with this lady. I can’t even afford to be with her. You read that in another translation. It says: He kept out of her way. He didn’t spend time with her. He didn’t stay around her. He wouldn’t even be with her. He had to repaint that line, and he understood that he was a man in covenant with God. And that meant something to him. He had a responsibility beyond even the responsibility he had with the master of the household. Yes, he had responsibility to him, but he called it a sin – a sin. This is a sin! It doesn’t matter if she wants me, because you could justify that, couldn’t you? No, Joseph could not. He knew he was tempted of sin and that would be against God. That would violate God. He would go careening right out into that intersection and would be hurt terribly.
Now we know the spiritual side of this whole aspect of “don’t commit adultery.” Christ mapped that out in Matthew 5. He talked about that very thing. You know that. I am going to flip over there for just a moment. He addresses specifically the spiritual side of where we draw the line. Let’s see if this applies.
Matthew 5:27 Matthew 5:27You have heard that it was said by them of old time, You shall not commit adultery:
American King James Version×Christ says: “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.”
Yes, Exodus maps that out very clearly, but Christ says:
V.28 - “But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
Now if you read it in The Message, it says this:
V.28 - “Don’t think you preserve your virtue by simply staying out of bed. Your heart can be corrupted by lust even quicker than your body.
An interesting way to put it. Your heart can be corrupted even quicker than your body by lust.
And so it is a good reminder. We’ve heard this before but what about that line in our personal life? How does it apply? Well, what do we watch? We all go home, we turn on the Television, what do we watch? I mean sex on TV – it’s everywhere. Turn on Netflix. What do we watch over internet? Pornography? Those are issues every one of us have to determine where the line is drawn in our life.
Do we catch ourselves saying, “Well, you know, it’s not that bad. If that’s where we draw the line, I think the alarms should be going off. We should be seeing the lights flashing. It’s not that bad? I mean, is that the standard that we are striving for? Well, if it is “not that bad” that must mean, if we flip it around, it can’t be that good. It can’t be that good if it’s not that bad. It certainly can’t be good. It can’t raise the standard of what the sign is set, therefore.
How are we going to be protected? How are we going to be safe? How are we going to grow in a deeper relationship with God the Father and Jesus Christ, if we are satisfied with “not that bad?” So we could fool ourselves with television and Netflix and video games and Internet and porn and the whole range of entertainment that is out there? And yet often times we don’t connect it with “don’t commit adultery,” but Christ says it is connected. It is connected and it’s dependent much, in a sense, of where we draw the line.
Think about it for a moment. Have we ever felt that it doesn’t seem that I can get beyond this problem? I can’t seem to overcome this. I keep slipping back into sin and this issue keeps coming up. I just don’t know why I can’t overcome it. I just don’t seem to get anywhere and I make the same mistakes over and over. Is it possible that it is related to where we’ve drawn that personal spiritual stop line? Have we drawn it much, much too close to that intersection so that it is not helping us in gaining the success that God wants us to have? You see if we just roll through in that spiritual car of ours, as it’s hanging over to the intersection, most likely it’s going to get hit every single time.
So where do we draw that line? I mean, we know the big line – the big sign - it says, “Don’t kill” or “Do not murder.” Exodus 20 reminds us of that. Christ said, once again in Matthew 5:22 Matthew 5:22But I say to you, That whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whoever shall say, You fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.
American King James Version×. He told us, “All right, it is not just about, ‘Well, great, I kept that one. I didn’t kill anybody lately.’” We know that’s not it. Christ said, “Don’t be angry with your brother without a cause. It is unacceptable. If you are angry with your brother, it’s the spiritual sense of murder.” Now we might say, I’ve got a good handle on that one but are we creeping into the intersection at all? Are we recognizing that maybe we don’t have the peddle all the way down on the brake?
You know, the people we just don’t like, people that sit here with us – “I just don’t like them.” Hopefully, nobody is coming to mind when we say that, because you think about that for a second. Where does that take you? Where does that attitude lead? I mean, if we ever thought, “All right, I have to love them, but I don’t have to like them.” Really? Wait a second. We say that. We think that. Does that show some kind of…maybe that is just a polite way of letting differences lead to dislike, and dislike keeps that car rolling into the intersection that leads to the lack of unity, that leads ultimately, to hate, which ultimately leads to that spirit of murder. So we can’t kid ourselves when it comes to these kinds of things, because if there is a trace that we are still moving ahead in the wrong way in getting into that intersection, we are going to put on the brakes, because God’s way – His sign – is clear and it is obvious.
But our application of it comes down to a personal decision where we draw that line. And, in so many ways, it’s up to us – that we’ve got to make the judgment call in our life – in our situation. There’s a wonderful Psalm, in Psalms 119:66 Psalms 119:66Teach me good judgment and knowledge: for I have believed your commandments.
American King James Version×, where we can call out to God and ask God to teach us good judgement, so that I know where to paint this line. It is different for us as individuals, but if I am a recovering alcoholic, where is my line going to be drawn from that intersection of Bourbon street? Not going to be where somebody who doesn’t have a problem with alcohol draws the line. It’s not going to be a problem for them to come up to the intersection of Wine and Beer, or Bourbon and Burgundy. It is not going to be a problem for someone…maybe they have a drink, or maybe two, at dinner. It is not a problem at all. But if you are recovering, you probably can’t even go down that street that has the liquor store. You just can’t do it. So your line is going to be different than someone else who has no issue with that particular problem.
Maybe its stewardship – finances. God tells us, as good Christians, we have to be good stewards and take care of business. Well, where do we draw our financial spiritual stop line? Is it when the credit card is maxed out and they won’t take it anymore? Well, that is my stop line because we can’t go any further. Well, that’s not the best, is it? So where do we draw that line?
Or where do we draw the line when it comes to truth? We stand for truth as God’s people. We know God’s word is truth. We want to tell the truth. We know the big sign says: Don’t lie. Do not bear false witness. We know that. So I don’t tell any outright falsehoods. I tell no boldface lies. I got it. Well, what about that little white lie that we had? It is not really hurting anybody so that doesn’t really count or, yeah, I told them I will do that but I don’t really want to. At least I’ve got them off my back and I don’t have to deal with it now.
Do we do things and say really nice things to people and we don’t really mean it? Well, that is not truthful. They might like me better because I told them nice things, but we are not supposed to be hypocrites. We are supposed to be truthful. Even half-truths, that technically are truth, but well, maybe they mislead others…is that continuing to roll into that difficult intersection? Well, it certainly can.
So the point is, we have to be careful. God has given us standards of right and wrong. He has shown us the best way to live, the most wonderful way to live our lives so that we can be safe, so that we can be protected by Him. There are lines that God gives us that says: Don’t cross this line. I don’t want you to get hurt. I don’t want you to go into this intersection. I don’t want you to have to pay the consequences of those kinds of decisions that lead in the wrong direction. I know what is best for you. I know what is best.
But yet, He tells us, we get to choose. Choose for ourselves whether we will paint that line on the road in the way that it needs to be painted for each of us individually. So what do we do? Well, we are going to make sure that we draw those spiritual stop lines. Or maybe we are going to be like Joseph. Maybe we have to re-draw some of those lines in our life.
There is an interesting street over by Glen Este-Withamsville Road. It is right by the…there is a buffet there, there’s a car wash, as well. I don’t know if you’ve ever been down this road. You go down this road, and it is a dead end, but just before you get to the end, there is a little street that cuts over to Highway 32, and they used to have this little bitty little arrow right there at the street that pointed to the left, that you’ve got to turn or you are going to be stuck at the end of the street, at the dead end. So they had this little line painted there.
Well, the other day I was driving by there and there’s no arrow. It is gone! They kind of erased it. You could see kind of where it was. Then I looked down the street and there were like 3 cars at the end of the block turning around in somebody’s driveway trying to come back the other way because they got stuck. A couple of days later I came down the street and they had repainted this arrow, but it wasn’t this little arrow pointing to the left. If you go down there today, there is this gigantic arrow. It’s got to be 5 feet wide and it is all pointing to this street because I think the people at the end got sick and tired of people turning around in their driveway all the time.
And this is a reminder. Maybe we’ve got to erase the line and redraw it more appropriately. More appropriately for our lives so we don’t get into the problems we seem to continually have.
So if we are going to draw closer to God, if we are going to have a much deeper and better relationship, we are growing in the way that God wants us to, we must draw those spiritual stop lines. How do we do it?
I think first, we have to know the road. If you don’t know the road you are going to…you are down at the end, stuck, turning around in somebody’s driveway, trying to come back the other way. In other words, we’ve got to know the road. Right?
We’ve got to know what God has planned for us. We’ve got to understand His Word. We have to review His Word. We have to know the signs. We’ve got to be not just familiar with them, but we have to understand the aspects of God’s signs that He gives us, and not just the big ten, but the spiritual side, the spiritual intent. And we just can’t say, “Well, I know the road. I know it. I have been around all this time. I know it. And we turn on our GPS – and we know our GPS never takes us in the wrong way, because it always takes us exactly – okay you’ve got lost with your GPS too. It took you to some other place that you didn’t want to go to and sometimes we do get into that. Well, I am looking on my phone or I’ve got my internet out and that’s going to be perfect, because I don’t even have to think about it, but that is not the case at all. God has given us His word and we have to study it. We have to know what He has mapped out for us, and review it, and deeply strive to understand what it is. Right? We have to do that and that will help us.
In a way, you might say, “I’m coming into that intersection and we better check the brakes.” Different cars have different kinds of brakes. Some of them will put you through the steering wheel, if you are not careful because they are really strong. Other’s not. We better know our brakes. Is our braking system working the way that God intended it?
One of the Proverbs talks about this. I think it is kind of talking about spiritual brakes and really knowing the road, and knowing how it applies to me – really understanding God’s signs, because as we understand those signs at a deeper level, we will know exactly where we need to draw our spiritual stop lines.
Proverbs 19:16 Proverbs 19:16He that keeps the commandment keeps his own soul; but he that despises his ways shall die.
American King James Version×– He who keeps the commandment keeps his soul, but he who is careless of his ways will die.
I mean, for today’s purposes it kind of reminds me when I read that, that intersection…we draw those lines in the appropriate place. We are not just going to go carelessly right into that intersection where there is only trouble. The New Century says:
Proverbs 19:16 Proverbs 19:16He that keeps the commandment keeps his own soul; but he that despises his ways shall die.
American King James Version×– Obey the commands and you will be protected. Those who are careless will die.
And so we’ve got to know that. It’s not just enough to pay attention to the sign. We’ve got to know how to apply it in our life and that becomes critical.
So then that means, I think, secondly, we’ve have to know ourselves. We’ve got to know the map. We’ve got to know the road. We’ve got to understand God’s way and His signs, but we also have to know ourselves. We have to know our strengths. We have to know our weaknesses. We have to know the areas we need to grow in. They are all different. They are all different. Just go to Planet Fitness and you will see, physically, we are all different. Man, some of those guys can pump iron and it is unbelievable! I can hardly lift it. We are all different. We have different routines. We have different strengths. We have different areas we need to grow in. Something that may be a huge challenge for me is not an issue with you. But perhaps you’ve got something else so we have to know ourselves so that we know how to apply those signs and how they fit in our life.
I think a third thing that we can do as well is to be conservative – to be conservative. And I know we are in a political season, and I am not talking about politics, but to be conservative with where we place those lines more, in a sense, of really be thoughtful. Take care. Be reasonable, be honest with ourselves.
Paul told those in Thessalonaica, he told them:
The Old Kind James says:
So every form he says – like a Joseph – keep away from it. Refrain from it. Avoid it. Stay away. Reject it outright – every form of evil. Well, how are we going to do this if we are not really honest – if we’re not really straightforward, if we’re not really conservative as we paint that spiritual line? We could end up in a whole different place if we are not careful.
One of the Proverbs gives an example of this. If you are still there, go to Proverbs 1. Right off the bat we have a father giving his son advice, and of course, one of the challenges, especially for young adults – for young people – who do you hang with? Right? Who are you with? Does that matter? Would that have any impact on where we paint the lines? Anyone ever go to high school? Yeah, it definitely makes a difference, doesn’t it?
Look at Proverbs 1:10 Proverbs 1:10My son, if sinners entice you, consent you not.
American King James Version×– I’ll pick it up there. It starts out in an interesting way as a father starts talking to his son and he tells him, “Be careful.”
We are going to be faced in situations in life that there will be temptations all around us.
The Message says:
Whether it is a situation like this – it gets into a kind of crazy stuff here. It says, “Let’s go out and raise a ruckus. Let’s beat up some old people. Let’s take them for everything they’ve got.” Okay, we may not do that. We may not steal from others, but the point is, do we go along? Do we just go along for the ride? You see, we get to drive our own spiritual life. We get to choose. We can’t just go along, so we’ve got to be conservative when it comes to drawing those lines. Be very careful about it. We can’t paint those lines too close to that intersection of bad companions. We can’t paint that intersection or that stop line too close, because then we are going to be hanging over the edge where they are going to come along and take off our front bumper, if we are not careful.
So that means, the fourth thing: We have to watch for the precursors. Watch for the precursors.
Now what am I talking about? Well, if you’ve driven around some of the roads around here, you go down Highway 32, they’ve got some extra signs. Have you ever seen these signs that say: “Be prepared to stop when flashing?” Right? You watch that thing really carefully and you step on it before that things starts flashing, right? I want to get through that intersection! When it starts flashing, you know – or you are supposed to know – there is no way you are going to make it through that light. You better start slowing down, because that sign is a precursor to what you need to do.
Sometimes it’s funny signs. “Watch for sign.” Okay, that’s a precursor. I guess I’ve got to watch for something. Or sometimes, you will have a sign that says: “Blind corner”, “Blind intersection”. You come to an intersection that has a great big mirror up there that’s supposed to help you, and so you are aware ahead of time. It gives you a warning that there’s something coming up. There is something ahead – sometimes there will even be signs that say, “Stop sign ahead,” because you are supposed to be prepared for it.
Well, when we think about that spiritually, don’t we have to be prepared for what’s ahead? I am not just talking about the future. What I am trying to get at is, that we have to make a determination of how we got into that intersection to begin with. How did we get there? If we don’t set a precursor for ourselves, where are we going to be the next time we come up to that intersection? What is there to stop us from just doing the same thing all over again? We have to set that precursor and redraw that line back so that we don’t repeat the same thing all over again.
And so it comes down to that concept of “How did I get into this mess to begin with?” And “I’ve got to step back this process to recognize if I just keep doing the same thing, and somehow think I am going to have a different result, that is just silly. That is just not going to happen. I have to rethink how I got there, so that I’m going to do something different. This time I am going to put on the brakes long before I get there, otherwise I’ll be in that same mess all over again. So I’ve got to set that precursor. If I am going to avoid that same thing all over again I’ve got to recognize it’s my thinking – it’s my thoughts – that led me there, and, if I don’t change my thinking, my actions are not going to change either. And so I’ve got to set that spiritual precursor or it is going to lead me all in the wrong direction.”
I mean, think about that. How long do we want these spiritual lives to last? We want to go right into the Kingdom, right? We want to. I know when I first got to drive, for some reason my parents were really worried about it. I don’t know. My dad always used to make fun of me and say, “Okay, you’ve got your license. Everybody get off the sidewalk.” But he had a little bit of wise advice. He asked, “Well, how long do you want your car to last?” I got my first car – “Wow! How cool is that? Now I can really obey every single stop sign, okay?” He knew me. “How long do you want your car to last?” he asked me. “Wow! I am poor. I want it to last as long as it possibly will last.” He said, “If you drive carelessly, your car won’t last a lifetime.” In other words, “You get out in that intersection you are going to get killed, and it will last you a very short life time.”
And I think there is a spiritual connection, though, isn’t there? I mean, we long for God’s Kingdom. We want to be a part of His family forever. He sees it that way already. We don’t want to take ourselves out of the Kingdom. We’re on that road, and so God wants us to follow His instructions. He wants us to follow His signs He has given us. It is even bigger than that arrow over in Glen Este is. He gives us a shining light to map the way and show us how to live and He wants us to continue to grow and so He instructs us and He guides us and He corrects us and He teaches us and He shows us the way to be safe and secure. And He protects us because He doesn’t want us to get into any kind of spiritual accident at all.
So let’s take advantage of God’s way. Let’s take advantage of this wonderful Creator that we have, and let’s recognize that every time we get out there on the road, when we live life…in fact, when you go home today, look down when you stop at that stop sign. When you come to that stop light, start noticing those lines every time you drive. I hope you’ll keep it in mind now. Keep it in mind as long as you can. You come to a stop sign, look for that line. Where is it drawn? Where is your line drawn? I hope that will be a spiritual reminder for us. Don’t just look at the light. Don’t just look at the sign. Where is the line drawn? And hopefully you will remember this analogy, because we can ask ourselves, “Are my spiritual stop lines in the right place?”
God certainly has given us His signs for our good, so let’s be very sure to place our spiritual stop lines right where they belong. Then, once we stop, let’s step on the gas and get going. Let’s get going to our great ultimate destination, the Kingdom of God.