Every believer must face the same question, “Will I do things my way or God’s way?” In this message we will look at King Balak and God’s stubborn prophet Balaam.
Help. I’m stuck in a toilet! That was what I heard from the elementary boy in the bathroom at our Christian school. The teacher had come to get me out of my office because she was concerned that one of her students had been in the bathroom for some time and would not come out. She had called to him and he would say all was well, but he would not come back to class. Based on this knowledge I make my way into the bathroom and to my amazement, there he was with his rear-end stuck way down in the toilet seat. As a matter of fact, all I could really see at this point was a head, calves, and two little feet. This poor boy was literally up to his neck in you-know-what! He said to me, “Please Mr. Paul, get me out of here, I can’t feel my legs!” It was all I could do to keep a straight face as I pondered this poor kid’s plight. I reached over and went to free him but the more I pulled, the more realized this kid was not coming out! I began to think what my next step would be to try and free him. I went to the kitchen and got some liquid dish soap and return to the bathroom. Methodically I begin to apply the lubricant to all the right areas (ugh) and then told him on the count of three I wanted him to grasp my hands and I would give him one good yank. I began my count; One, Two, Three, Pull; and with a hard yank and a strange vacuum sound the boy was free. You have never seen a kid more excited than that little boy at that moment. He was free! I then asked him the question we all want answered, “How did this happen?” His response was simple, “I was curious as to what would happen if I stuck my bottom down in that hole?” This may be a little scary to some of you, but it made good sense to me. Honestly, it made perfect sense to me. Nevertheless, he lifted his pants, washed his hands, said I’m sorry and thanks, and then returned to his class. Life returned to its normal, happy state and I have never had to pull him from a toilet again.
After I returned to my office, I heard the Lord speak to me, “You’ve gotten yourself stuck up to your neck in poop before and I had to set you free.” I replied, “It’s true Lord.” If the truth be known, this metaphor has played out in my life more times than I would like to admit. There is an important lesson to learn here. Often in life we discover we have gotten stuck in the toilet of sin because we thought we could sit on that seat and avoid getting caught in sin. Instead, we get ourselves dug in deep and in desperate need of help. The question is, “How does God respond to us when we willingly get ourselves stuck in sin?” I think the answer is found in how we respond to our mistakes. This boy was truly sorry for what he did. After he was free he pulled up his pants, washed his hands, asked for forgiveness, and was grateful to be rescued. Notice his attitude and his actions. He responded to his sin correctly and then went back to class where he belonged. He did not turn around and put his rear end right back in the toilet. Because of his response, there was no need for me to discipline or correct the boy. He had learned his lesson and responded with the right heart attitude.
How do you respond when you get stuck in sin? Do you make excuses? Do you cast blame on someone else? Is it the toilet’s fault for being too big? God is watching our response when we act ugly, selfish, rude, critical, or mean. He is looking for a right response when we sin and make mistakes. His desire is for us to learn from our mistakes so that He won’t have to judge us. His heart is for us to mature and to allow life to teach us. I encourage you today to follow this little boy’s example the next time you get stuck in a toilet of sin. If you do, I can promise you an easy rescue.
There are times that we seem to create our own set of problems. We look away and ignore certain warnings in our life when we should have looked straight at the difficulty and applied God’s remedy (His Word) to our problem. It’s kind of like the warning light in the dashboard of your car. You know the one that glows brightly displaying the words “Check Engine”. We think to ourselves, “I should do something about that warning. We shrug our shoulders and mumble to ourselves that we will look into it later. The funny thing is, the warning light keeps glowing and we keep making excuses. Then the inevitable happens. The car breaks down and it’s always at the most inconvenient time. I remember a particular moment in my life when this exact thing happened to me. I was much younger (and had a lot more hair-dang it) at the time, a college student attending a local junior college close to my home town. I was dating a girl that lived about 40 minutes from my home and I always would travel the back roads (I lived in the country) to get to and from her house. I had stayed over quite late one night before I realized the time and after saying good night, I got in my truck to leave. It was in the middle of the winter and it was about 2:00 am in the morning. I was wearing shorts and a T-shirt. Not real smart, I know! Nonetheless, as I traveled home I noticed that “Check Engine” light that had been annoying me for days, was still glowing brightly in the darkness of the night. You know what happens next of course, you guessed it, my truck begins to overheat and smoke and I am forced to pull over on the shoulder of the road. Here I am out in the middle of Tim-buck-too! It’s only 25F outside and I’m in shorts and a T-shirt. I get out of my truck (mumbling under my breath something to God about the unfairness of it all) to flag down the only car I will see that night and believe it not, the fool tried to run me over. I had to jump in the ditch on the side of the road to just keep from becoming road kill! I thought I was in the twilight zone. I get back in the truck shivering cold, scared and furious. I sit there a minute or two trying to think of what to do next and telling God if He would just get me out of this fix, I would start going back to church or something like that. After a few minutes, I decide the best thing for me to do is to walk about a mile back down the road to a house I had passed and ask to use the phone (this was before cell phones…I know what you’re thinking and I’m not that old). I arrive at the house thinking soon this terrible night will come to an end. Boy was I wrong. I knock on the door several times and finally wake someone up. They yell out, “who is it?” and I proceed to tell them my situation but before I can get my story out they yell back and say, “I have a gun, I’m calling the police, get out of here or I’ll shoot”. You have got to be kidding me! Did I just hear someone say “Get out of here or I’ll shoot?” As I am running off the porch fleeing for my life, freezing and terrified I am yelling back at them, “call the cops, call the cops!” Well, to make this very long story a little shorter, I stayed the night in my truck and almost froze to death waiting for daylight to arrive. Once it got light enough to see, I walked around 5 miles to the next little country town and sat there freezing until 9:00 am until the first and only store opened in this one man God forsaken town.
Crazy story huh? I look back now and consider my plight and kind of laugh (kind of laugh…it still stings a bit). I will tell you this much though, I will never ignore the glowing “Check Engine” light again! Never! Let me encourage you not to ignore your warning either. The Holy Spirit has a unique way of warning us ever so gently that we are headed toward problems. Life is hard enough without creating a mess of our own. The funny thing is, we ignore the warning light and our life breaks down and then we get really angry at God and blame Him for our plight. We humans are a peculiar bunch. Warnings, they are going off all around us and we somehow find a way to ignore them. The warning of a short temper, stress, irritability, fighting with our mate or avoiding conversation all together, making little compromises (which by the way, always leads us into bigger and worse compromises), ignoring our children who are asking us to spend time with them, making a habit of missing church, hanging around the wrong people, not praying or reading our Bibles, spiritual apathy…. the warning light on the dashboard of our heart is glowing brightly yet we continue full steam ahead toward a complete and total breakdown.
Let me encourage you. Don’t ignore the illuminated warning of the Holy Spirit. Heed His voice. Be obedient to His leading. He will help repair what is broken and make life much easier in the long run. It may take some extra effort and maintenance on the front end but it is worth it on the back end. Trust me, I know from experience!
Now back to the beginning of this blog. Life can throw you a curve ball and sometimes we throw ourselves one. Whichever it may be, we can rest in the complete confidence of knowing that God will be there to help us in either situation. God is a good and faithful Father. He loves us and cares for us. He is always keeping His watchful eye on us twenty four hours a day. That is comforting and sobering at the same time.
The Bible proclaims that God is our ever present help in time of need.
Call unto me and I will answer declares the Lord.
Many are the afflictions of the righteous but the Lord will deliver us out of them all.
If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Watch out for your enemy, the devil, for he prowls around like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour.
If God be for us, who can be against?
Be encouraged today and keep a watchful eye on the dashboard of your heart.
I would rather see a sermon than to hear one any day
I would rather that you lead than merely point the way
The eye is a more eager pupil than ever was the ear
Advice is often confusing but example is always clear.
The Apostle Paul said in his letter to the Corinthians, “They can see that you are a letter from Christ, written by us. It is not a letter written with pen and ink, but by the Spirit of the living God; not one carved on stone, but in human hearts.
How important it is for us to walk out what we profess. I encourage you today to live the LIFE! Remember, what you say is important, but what you do will give you the right to say it.
Prayer: Father God, help us to live a life worthy of your calling. Help us to represent you in ALL we do. Forgive us of our sins and short-comings. Empower us with your holy Spirit as we pray, meditate your Word, and worship you.
You are on a journey and every journey has a path. My experience has revealed two distinctly different paths. There is what I will call the “Decided Path” and the other I will call the “Conforming Path”. The vital and most critical decision is which path you will choose. The only similarity these paths have in common is they will both lead you to a certain destination.
The Decided Path is a very intentional path. It requires planning and forethought, it takes effort and commitment, it is a narrow path and very few people choose to put forth the discipline to travel it.
On the other hand, there is the Conforming Path. This path requires no planning or forethought, it takes no effort or commitment, it is wide and many people choose to travel it.
Choosing which path almost sounds like a no brainer! The wide, easy path is certainly the most appealing at face value. The problem lies in how you choose the path. The first thing to consider in choosing any path isn’t how difficult or easy it may be to travel; instead, the deciding factor is where it will lead. Will it take you where you want to go? Many people want to walk into peace, blessings, wisdom, influence, prosperity and many other positive outcomes, but choosing the right path will determine where you end up. I want to encourage you to consider your desired destination in every decision you make. Beware of conformity! Every decision you make will take you one step closer to your desired destination or one step further away. God wants to pour out His blessings on you. He has created a path that will lead you to these treasures. You may become weary as you journey and be tempted to take the easy path, but don’t forget that God has great things waiting for you as you travel the Decided Path.