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Thursday, April 21, 2022

Psalm 27:11

"Staying On The Straight Path"

Message summary: Today let us firmly resolve within in our hearts that we will stay on the straight path, not veering to the right or the left.

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"Teach me your way, O LORD; lead me in a straight path because of my oppressors" (Psalm 27:11). "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight" (Proverbs 3:5,6).
"Make straight paths for your feet" (Hebrews 12:13).

We've driven on roads all over Pennsylvania. Presently our chaplain work necessitates travel through southeast-central PA, mostly in Lancaster and Lebanon Counties. This is often known as Pennsylvania Dutch country. In Pennsylvania there are very few long, straight stretches of highway, likely due to the hilly terrain and the time it was settled. There are a few stretches of straight interstate for several miles such as a very busy section of I-78 south of Allentown. But even the straight ones are still hilly!

Sign on I-80 in UtahSeveral years ago I went on a long road trip with my older brother Mike. I flew out to San Francisco and we drove from his home to a family reunion in eastern Nebraska. During this trip we were on two of the longest, straightest stretches of road in the country, both on I-80.

The first stretch was in western Utah in the Bonneville Salt Flats. On this stretch of dry lake bed it's 45 miles of straight and flat as a pancake road, dotted with large yellow warning signs about driver fatigue and drowsiness.

But on that trip we also drove on the longest straight stretch of interstate anywhere in the Interstate Highway System, the approximately 72 miles of I-80 between exit 318 in the Grand Island area and mile marker 390 near Lincoln. Along this length, the road does not vary from an ideally straight line by more than a few yards!

But the world's longest stretch of completely straight road is 160 miles on Saudi Arabia's Highway 10. But I've never been on that road!

Today let us consider the spiritual straight path we are to stay on! Living on the straight path means maintaining a morally upright way of life; making choices that are morally and legally correct. It means staying consistently faithful to God and His ways.

David's prayer in Psalm 27:11 should be a daily prayer of ours as well, "Teach me your way, O LORD; lead me in a straight path because of my oppressors".  Our oppressors come in many different forms but we all have them.

Throughout the Bible following the straight way or straight path is emphasized. Proverbs 11:5 states, "The righteousness of the blameless makes a straight way for them, but the wicked are brought down by their own wickedness". John the Baptist came to "Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for Him". And we often paraphrase the words of our Lord Jesus in regard to living by "the straight and narrow way". (This is taken from a phrase in Matthew 7:14.)
Hebrews 12:13 instructs, "Make straight paths for your feet".

Proverbs 3:5,6

A passage many of us have memorized in Proverbs 3:5,6 gives us three keys in keeping our paths straight.

1) Trust in the Lord with all your heart;
2) Lean not on your own understanding;
3) In all your ways acknowledge Him.

If we faithfully practice these instructions, God promises that "He will make your paths straight" (NASB).  Other versions render this "He will direct your paths".

Living out these three instructions is not a one-time event. It is a life-long process!

Today let us focus our attention on that which lies ahead as we stretch toward the mark of the prize of the high calling which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Let us firmly resolve within in our hearts to stay on the straight way, not veering to the right or to the left.

Be encouraged today, (Hebrews 3:13)

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Lord Jesus, You are the Way, the Truth, and the Life. You've given us the road map to follow through the guidance of Your Holy Scriptures. You've established that Your way is the only way to eternal life. It is the only way that we can have victory in our walk here on earth and the assurance of a victorious eternity in heaven. Just as John the Baptist went before You preparing straight paths, I thank You for going before me preparing the way for my journey. Though Scripture describes the Christian's walk as being a straight and narrow path it has steep inclines and its route will also take me through deep valleys. If I wander off-course I'm grateful for Your Holy Spirit who reminds me of my commitment to follow You and the importance of my example to those who walk beside me or behind me. We will not veer from our heavenly destination if we acknowledge You in all our ways. Amen.

Additional study note:  The Apostle Peter speaks of those who "have left the straight way" (2 Peter 2:15). Today we will all make decisions and be confronted with temptations of various sorts to leave the straight way. Our enemy wants to throw in a few curves that steer us off the straight way. Many continue to wander off to follow the way of Balaam, son of Beor, and love the wages of wickedness.

Balaam is a prophet mentioned in Numbers most famously for having a conversation with a donkey. He did not have a consistent walk with the Lord but rather wavered in his loyalties and commitment.

The Precept Austin online commentary notes regarding those referred to in ,

"Doctrine is important - Balaam's doctrine polluted their mind and led to their unrighteous acts. False teachers are master purveyors of false doctrine. We desperately need churches where the pastors are teaching sound doctrine to renew minds able to identify and resist false doctrine that is creeping into even the most conservative, evangelical churches."

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Straight & Narrow Road"  Video   Blood Bought

"2nd Opinions"  Video  Casting Crowns   We just heard this for the first time recently. The lyrics are spot on pointing out the error many people fall into by following the "inspirational" thoughts and methods typical of our culture rather than sticking with the Bible's clear doctrinal teachings for our lives.

"His Heart Beats"  Video  Andrew Peterson  This song describes the Lord's resurrection. It's style is distinct and the message brings to life the Lord's first breath as he was resurrected from the dead. In this video you will see a literal beating heart.

Andrew Peterson is probably least well known for his popular "Tractor, Tractor" children's song (Video). He likely wrote that song while his children were small. It is especially popular in our area due to all the agriculture in this part of the state. Stephen, youngest son of our friends Jesse and Anna Ruth, loves to sing this song!

Peterson's song, "Is He Worthy" Video has been sung around the world and is a personal favorite of our choir.

Lombard Street
Brooksyne's Note: Our message theme reminds me of one of our visits to San Francisco when Ester and I walked down Lombard Street. It is famous for a steep, one-block section with eight hairpin turns. You can see the first two hairpin curves in this photo with the cars descending. You sure want to have good brakes before attempting to drive on this famous road. (If you read my caption carefully you noticed I said Ester and I walked down, not up this very steep road.)

Bonneville Salt Flats
I took this photo of the Bonneville Salt Flats in western Utah, some of the most desolate land I've ever seen. Here on Google maps.

You can see the world's longest stretch of highway in Saudi Arabia on Google maps here.

This Saturday following a men's breakfast at the Shady Maple I plan to drive up to Jim Thorpe with some friends. We will ride the Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway bike train with our bikes loaded on a separate car going up the Lehigh River Gorge. At the end of the train ride the bikes will be unloaded and returned to their rightful owners. That's when bike riders (families even with small children, teens and adults) will bike 25 miles back down to Jim Thorpe on a former railroad grade. If anyone (local readers) is interested in either of these events let me know and we can meet at the breakfast or Jim Thorpe station! According to the forecast it should be nice weather.

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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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