Paths of Righteousness

I was watching a video on mountain biking in Sedona appropriately titled “Risk Acceptance.” In it three daredevils, apparently firefighters by profession, thread a course down a redstone mountain, with the second rider’s GoPro recording the more than “risky” descent.

We watch them carefully and cautiously select their lines, which involved some periodic breathtaking drops, timely braking and delicate pivots. At times gravity caused hair-raising accelerations with nothing but blurry rock in view. Then with a sudden halt on a narrow perch, nothing but blue sky ahead.

I was reminded of this gnarly ride while reading Psalm 23:3. “He guides me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.”

A shepherd leading his sheep would sometimes need to navigate a wadi, a dried up rocky stream bed that might be treacherous. Following him, the sheep would make their way to solid ground and surely greener pastures.

One comforting site to bikers on such trails are previous tire marks (I saw a few on their route down). You get a sense that you’re on the right track, that someone has completed the course before you.

With Jesus the trail has been nailed. We just need to follow his tracks. (Hebrews 12:1-2)

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Don’t Be a Wise Guy!

Check out Romans 2:17-29. Paul launches here against the hypocrisy and arrogance of the Jews. Don’t get him going you might say, and he is here. While this tirade speaks to the Chosen People who did not choose the Messiah sent to them as promised, we can gain some insight into what it’s like to be pompous and puffed up, just in case we’ve gotten too big for our britches.

It’s possible to ride a high horse as a Christian too. We too can think we are a “guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, a corrector of the foolish, a teacher of the immature,” and we may very well be, but what is done is not from the heart, or by the Spirit. What is done is to receive praise from men rather than God.

Don’t get carried away thinking you’re the “embodiment of knowledge and of the truth.”

Don’t get carried away thinking you’re the “embodiment of knowledge and of the truth.” Truth is, if you’ve got anything to offer, it is that which is given by the Spirit.

Don’t be a wise guy!

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But for the Grace of God…

If you know or don’t know the right thing to do, and do the wrong thing, God will judge you. In the case of the Gentiles, all they knew (or sensed) about God was that he was the creator (Romans 1:19), but they wantonly sinned. This truth (about the Creator) was enough to set them on the straight path but they ignored it.

The Jews, on the other hand, had their past miraculous deliverances and the law, but sinned anyway. They even had the audacity to judge those who didn’t really know any better. So they too are judged.

We should know that God doesn’t play favorites. When we sin in any fashion, that is to act in a selfishly ambitious manner to satisfy our own wants (Romans 2:8), many times in secret (Romans 2:16), we’re really pushing it. We’re storing up God’s wrath!

Those who persevere on the eternal path are focused on humbly doing good. They’re obedient to the truth and know, but for the grace of God, there go I!

For  all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus. (Romans 3:23-24)

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What’s the World Coming To?

There’s a line in an old Chicago song that says, “What’s the world coming to?” Well, the answer is, catastrophic judgment at the hands of God, that’s what. There’s another lyric in that same song that goes, “People gotta get it together.” But no, they won’t be getting it together without bowing the knee to Jesus Christ.

For his followers it’s painful to watch what’s going on. It seems that God’s losing out to evil in almost every venue. We all want to cry out to God to act, and act quickly! Sort of like what’s in Psalm 68, where David cries out, in a song, mind you, “Let God arise!”

The king wants God’s enemies scattered and driven away. Actually he wants them vanquished so that he might joyously exult his God without hindrance. But the truth is, the Lord rides unimpeded through deserts low and heavens high from his holy habitation, answering our cries for help (he is the ultimate superhero).

Only he is the a father of the fatherless, a judge for the widows, a liberator of prisoners, a safe place for the lonely, and a provider to the poor. (v. 5-6, 10)

I draw comfort and confidence in knowing my God’s “chariots are myriads, thousands upon thousands.” (V. 17)

So “blessed be the Lord, who daily bears our burden. The God who is our salvation. God is to us a God of deliverances; and to God the Lord belong escapes from death.” (v. 19-20)

And “cast your burden upon the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken. (Psalm 55:22).

Doing this will make your life, “Ooh, so much better!”

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One-track Mind

 There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all. Ephesians 4:4-6

We think it’s our right to have choices. We even think it’s our divine right, in fact. But with God there’s one way to everything, his way, and that’s the way it is. This is a good thing because he’s a good God, despite the press reports.

Two words dominate this passage; called and one. You could say we’re called to oneness. (Ephesians 4:13)

This we know, there’s only one way to God, and that’s through Christ. (John 14:6) From this one decision flows a bountiful harvest of blessings, as one follows the one true God.

The world wants the freedom to choose. God grants this freedom. But there’s really only one choice.

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Requisites for Success–Ephesians 3

Here’s (vv. 2-13) perhaps the longest parenthetical in the Bible. Twelve verses long, bookended by “for this reason.” This digression leads us into some significant spiritual truths.

At the time, the inclusion of the Gentiles in God’s plan was big news, as it was not obvious in scripture to that point. It was Paul’s job, by God’s grace, to divulge this mystery, this good news, which the apostles and prophets revealed (v. 5), to the Gentiles.

When Paul returns to his script, he will give credence to all that we as Christians possess at our fingertips, for starters, “boldness and confident access through faith” (v. 12), and end with a powerful doxology. “Now unto him who is able… .” (vv. 20-21)

Look for a moment at the “according to’s” in Chapter 3 (7, 11, 16, 20), certainly a sermon on their own. Paul acted, and we act, accordingly to the gift of God’s grace, the working of his power, without and within, his eternal purpose, and the riches of God’s glory.

In what you do, are you relying on his grace, requiring his power, refering to his eternal purpose for you, and revering his glory? These are the requisites for success.

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My Dad Can Beat Up Your Dad

As a kid you always thought your dad was strong enough to do anything. You placed a lot of trust in him that’d he’d be able to shoulder the load, or protect you from danger. Relatively speaking, we dads are much stronger than our kids for a season. But in my case, it seemed that even late in life my dad was a brute when called on to pry something loose or finish off a tree limb with a hand saw. Still, even he had his limits.

Now when our Heavenly Father works the strength of his might, things get done. Nothing is too heavy a lift for him. See what I mean below.

18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might 20 which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. Ephesians 1:18-21

Paul recruits four words to portray God’s surpassing greatness—power (dunamis from which we get dynamite), working (enérgeia from which we get energy), strength, and might—all of which can be seen in the raising of Jesus from the dead.

Now if the resurrection is a fairy tale to you, you might want to consider God’s power on display in hurricanes, volcanoes, tornadoes, tsunamis, wildfires, blizzards, and earthquakes for starters, to know that the Almighty packs a punch that can’t be blocked.

And we haven’t seen nothing yet!

There’s one more thought here that I don’t want to overlook. A strong man may possess a knockout punch, but his power and energy is dissipated once he strikes his opponent. God’s power is sustained, similar to the description of winds in a hurricane. He is unrelenting, which keeps us saved! In other words, there’s nothing we can do to peel his grip from our souls. (John 10:29)

Thanks be to him!

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