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Tuesday, July 19, 2016
A distant view of the imposing rock where the road, with lots of guardrails, wound around to get to the top of the mesa.
"A Lesson From Guardrails"
Message Summary: Let us thank God for the blessing of guardrails. When we see spiritual guardrails keeping us on the right road during our earthly journey we need to carefully and Scripturally assess the situation, recognize the danger that is close at hand, and prayerfully stay on course.
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"Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life" (Proverbs 4:23). "My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge" (Hosea 4:6). "For this reason I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day" (2 Timothy 1:12).
My brother Mike and I visited the Mesa Verde National Park in southwestern Colorado, especially to see where native Americans built their dwellings into steep cliffs some 1,000 years ago. After our long drive up from Flagstaff Arizona we were both tired but really wanted to see the park. As we pulled up to the entrance gate we were informed that the interesting area of the park with the cliff dwellings was about 25 miles from the gate! It wasn't a straight 25 miles, but rather a harrowing series of curves as we climbed up the mesa (table) as the road wound around mountains. There were guardrails along part of the mountain climb, other places there were not. As I observed the bordering landscape I figured the flimsy looking trees would do little to break a careening vehicle if I veered off the road.
I remember well our two trips to Guatemala some 25 years ago where we drove on narrow roads up large mountains with steep drop-offs and no guardrails. In addition people would pass us on blind curves. It was a nail-biting experience though we rode with locals who were well acquainted with the area. However the wrecked cars, buses, and multiple crosses we saw off to the side as we drove along reminded us of the peril of the road.
In some 45 years of driving I only recall hitting a guardrail once, while backing down a mountain on the Quehanna Highway in northern Pennsylvania when my engine went out. It totaled the older car we had at the time but thankfully we weren't hurt. We shared that story in this message.
Today let us consider how guardrails pertain to our spiritual life. Although highway guardrails can function to stop travelers from going down if they veer off the road they are best seen as a constant warning and guide. Tragically the vast majority are ignoring these God-ordained guardrails that He so wisely and graciously provides. "Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life" (Proverbs 4:23).
Today let us consider several guardrails that God has provided:
1) The Guardrail of Scriptural commands and prohibitions. God's Word is like a guardrail. It contains both commands, "You shall..." and prohibitions, "You shall not...". Our second text today states, "My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge." This is speaking about the knowledge of God and His Word. So many disregard this knowledge and we see our society racing headlong to most certain judgment which seems to be getting closer day by day. Regardless of what happens the faithful church must continue to "devote themselves to the apostles' teaching" (Acts 2:42) and "contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints" (Jude 3). "What God says is best, is best, though all the men in the world are against it." - John Bunyan, - The Pilgrim's Progress
2) The Guardrail of the Holy Spirit's guidance. The Holy Spirit can function as a spiritual guardrail. Paul was intending to continue his mission work in Asia Minor when he had his Macedonian vision. The Holy Spirit essentially stopped him and led him in another direction by closing a door: "When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to" (Acts 16:7). As we walk with the Lord, in sensitivity to His Spirit, we need to respect the guardrails of God's direction, oversight and protection.
3) The Guardrail of Godly counsel. Solomon wrote, "My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart, for they will prolong your life many years and bring you prosperity" (Proverbs 3:1,2). We need to heed the counsel of the wise and esteem the elderly who have gone on before us and those yet with us. It seems more and more young people have little regard for their elders. Wisdom has been defined as "knowledge rightly applied."
4) The Guardrail of Tradition. This point is most difficult to develop since many have a negative attitude toward tradition and even the Scriptures speak out against tradition in some circumstances. Certainly, tradition for tradition's sake needs to be evaluated carefully. But it seems to me that an attitude prevails in the church among more than a few that "new" is seen as better, more hip, and more appealing to a current generation and the old is bad. But good practices developed over years can be too quickly shrugged aside in favor of the new, without considering what significance is lost in the process or the consequences of abandoning them. We addressed this topic many years ago in a message titled "The Tyranny of the New".
Bible commentator John Gill challenges, "Turn not to the right hand nor to the left, either into the road of immorality and profaneness, or into that of error, superstition, and false worship; but attend to the way of holiness and truth, directed to in the Word of God. Don't be cast down with adversity, nor be lifted up with prosperity; but keep on in an even way, attending to that which is just and right; leaving all events with God, as knowing you are in the way of your duty, and in which He would have you walk."
Today let us thank God for the blessing of guardrails. When we see spiritual guardrails keeping us on the right road during our earthly journey we need to carefully and Scripturally assess the situation, recognize the danger that is close at hand, and prayerfully stay on course.
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, it is because of Your wise and loving character that You teach us about the wiles of our adversary, the devil, and his cunning ways. We are not caught unaware but recognize his strategy as we regularly read Your Word and store it up in our hearts. Your precepts are right and because of that we hate every wrong path. Direct our footsteps according to Your Word so that we stay in pace with You, observing the yellow lights of caution, stopping at the red lights of danger, and staying within the confines of Your guardrails. As we do so we will not allow sin to dominate our lives or lead us astray. We pray for Your guidance which leads to blessing in Jesus' name. Amen.
Last night I interviewed John Uhler for chaplaincy endorsement. John senses a call to serve in an interesting chaplaincy role as a "Living History Chaplain"; that is, participating in reenactments as a WW2 military chaplain. He is able to provide chapel services as well as giving personal counsel. His ministry includes not only other members of his reenactment unit but the public as well who come to see the living history. Here is a description of reenactment from Wikipedia.
John is shown in his authentic WW2 uniform. His approach is strictly appropriate for the period. In other words he prepares a sermon just as it would have been preached during that time period as he seeks to assume the persona of one living in that period. Guests essentially visit the location as it would have been viewed in the early forties. (Similar to a living history exhibit in Massachusetts called "Plimouth Plantation".
However due to the timeless truths of God's Word he ministers to all generations.
John has developed a powerful personal mission statement titled, The Code Of My Cross" (pdf)
Mesa Verde National Park
This week I am sharing photos from the trip I made to the Southwest for a Chaplaincy Conference in Phoenix. Since I had never been to the Southwest I went out several days early and met my brother oldest Mike for some sightseeing.
Today I share photos of a trip through northeast Arizona and Southwest Colorado on the long ride from Flagstaff, Arizona to Durango Colorado.
Since I was a kid I have enjoyed geography and have been intriqued by the Four Corners, the only part of the USA where four states meet. Our route took us right by the spot and we paid $5.00 each to the Navajo Nation to enter. It was a very hot and long line as we waited to take a photo at the spot where the four states meet. We were tired so I settled for just walking around the middle and being in all four states in about 15 seconds!
Most wanted to be right on the marker to be in four states simultaneously thus the long line.
The main part of the park is off the main highway about twenty-five miles on a long winding road up, around and through mountains to get to the Mesa. Lots of beautiful views getting there.
A view from near the top of the mesa.
On top of the Mesa we went through an area destroyed by a forest fire nearly 15 years ago.
The cliff dwellings
Some walked down to the dwellings for a special tour.
It was on cliffs down these canyons where they built dwellings
Entrance road to Mesa Verde National Park
This interesting sculpture of a climbing Native American was at the Mesa Verde National Park visitor's center.
Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
"Guard Your Heart" Video Steve Green
"Slow Fade" Video Casting Crowns
"Higher Ground" Video The Smucker Family Dedicated to our friends in the Smucker family and Jerry Smoker. This family is having a huge reunion this month here in Lancaster and includes descendants from all over the country. The Smucker Company that makes jellies and jams is related to this.
Lord, lift me up, and let me stand
By faith on Canaan’s tableland;
A higher plane than I have found,
Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.
"Three Reasons Why You Must Guard Your Heart" Michael Hyatt
"What does it mean to guard your heart?" (From gotquestions.org)
More photos from Mesa Verde National Park (Google)
Arriving in Durango I bought a fish sandwich at a popular fast food restaurant and caught an interesting scene as I waited for the order.
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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.
Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."
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