Sunday, September 10, 2017

LH: Ruler

Proverbs 3:5-6 – Trust in the Lord with all of your heart, lean not on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.

Choose one kid to help with the lesson. Give him the blue marker and ask him to draw a straight line. Examine the line closely and look for where it’s not so straight. Give him the red marker and have him try again. Then give him the green marker to try a third time. Finally, let him use the yardstick to draw with the black marker.

You can draw and draw and draw free hand, and you’ll never make a line as straight as you do with a yardstick. The yardstick keeps your hand steady and keeps your marker from wavering. With a yardstick, you can draw straight and true every time. God has a path he wants us all to take, and like this line, it’s straight and narrow. But on every side of this path are distractions and temptations designed to pull us off on a different path. God wants us to lean on him, just as we leaned on the yardstick with this marker, so He can make our path straight.

Spend time with God every day. Pray at all times. Remember what God has done for you, and lean on Him. He will make sure you stay on a straight path.

What’s the fastest route from here to the boy’s room?  What’s the fastest route to the sanctuary?  Does anyone know the fastest route to the nearest restaurant after church?

When you and your family hop in the car to go some place, you take the shortest route possible.  Not many people drive ten miles out of the way to go to a place that’s only a few blocks over.  You take the quickest route possible. 

Can anyone tell me what the shortest distance is between two places?  It’s a straight line.  And what school supply makes the best straight lines?  It’s a ruler.  Rulers are an important tool in our backpack, especially if we’re doing math or art.  Rulers help us to measure distance, but they also provide a straight edge that helps us connect two dots in the shortest, most direct route possible.  Rulers are also a great reminder of today’s scripture.  What is it again?

Read Proverbs 3:5-6.

Solomon wrote most of Proverbs.  He says to trust in the Lord with all our hearts.  Instead of following our own wisdom, we need to lean on God – the way our pencils lean against our rulers when we draw straight lines.  If we do so, then God will make our paths straight.

Why is it so important to find that straight path?  Because this world is full of temptations and distractions, things that will pull us away from God if we’re not careful.  God wants us to rely on him so that we will not go astray.  Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus, and stay on the straight path.

Psalm 73 tells the story of Asaph who was once comparing himself to other people.  Then it tells of what happened when he finally compared both himself and them to God.  I have the text in bold and stage directions in unbold.

Surely God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart.

But as for me, my feet had almost slipped; I had nearly lost my foothold.  For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.
Show “Asaph” with a “bad guy” played by two kids

They have no struggles; their bodies are healthy and strong. “Bad guy” flexes
They are free from common human burdens; they are not plagued by human ills. Show bad guy going to doctor and getting healed while Asaph coughs.
Therefore pride is their necklace; they clothe themselves with violence. Bad guy starts punching the air.
From their hardened hearts comes sin; their evil imaginations have no limits.
They scoff, and speak with malice; with arrogance they threaten oppression. Bad guy: ha, ha, I’m going to beat you up!  Beats up Asaph
Their mouths lay claim to heaven, and their tongues take possession of earth.
Have bad guy stealing things from Asaph.
Therefore their people turn to them and drink up waters of abundance.
All the crowd asks the bad guy to be their friend.  Boo at Asaph
They say, “How would God know? Does the Most High know anything?”

This is what the wicked are like – always free of care, they go on amassing wealth.

Surely in vain I have kept my heart pure and have washed my hands in innocence.  All day long I have been afflicted, and every morning brings new punishments.
Asaph wears rags and is sick all the time.
If I had spoken out like that, I would have betrayed your children.  When I tried to understand all this, it troubled me deeply…till I entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood their final destiny.

Surely you place them on slippery ground; you cast them down to ruin. Bad guy falls down.
How suddenly are they destroyed, completely swept away by terrors!
Bad guy can’t sleep at night and has nightmares.
They are like a dream when one awakes; when you arise, Lord, you will despise them as fantasies.
Bad guy is taken away and Asaph takes center stage.
When my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered, I was senseless and ignorant; I was a brute beast before you.  Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand.
Have someone put an arm around Asaph and stay there.
You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory.  Whom have I in heaven but you?  And earth has nothing I desire besides you.  My flesh and heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. 

Those who are far from you will perish; you destroy all who are unfaithful to you.  But as for me, it is good to be near God.  I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds.

Let’s look closer at this Psalm.  Asaph was jealous of a wicked person because everything seemed to go his way while Asaph always suffered.

The wicked people were healthy all the time while he always seemed sick.  I feel like this is the case today.  I know people who have smoked cigarettes for years and years and they live long lives into their 80s and 90s.  Then I know people who take good care of their bodies, who eat healthy and exercise, and they get cancer at a young age and die.

And then these wicked people seem to be able to get married, have children, move into their own houses while honest people do all the right things but can’t get pregnant, can’t move out of their houses, and can’t find jobs.

And then, they think of all the wicked things they can do.  Perhaps they have found a way to destroy a certain group of people and then make a profit off of their destruction.  And people who are kind to everybody can’t seem to make friends.

But then, Asaph went to temple, the church of his day and noticed that the infinitely good God, his goodness has no end, is still alive and still watching his planet, planning everything that happens in a way that we don’t always understand, but that will benefit his church in the time to come.  For example, it was bad that Jesus died on the cross, but God planned that so that everyone who believes in him can have their sins paid for and live forever with Jesus in his new kingdom.  It was bad that Adam and Eve sinned and brought evil in the world, but God always planned on revealing Jesus to them who would save them from their sins.  It is bad that some people have lost their lives in standing up for their faiths in Jesus, but God took that and brought other people to Jesus through their testimony.

Jesus will never die, but wicked people will die and never spread their evil again. Asaph said that he was once a brute beast and ignorant, which is just another word for uninformed, even, dare I say, stupid.  Even Asaph was evil, but he came to know God in a saving way and to look forward to a day when Jesus would come.  He stopped comparing himself to an evil person who always seemed successful and compared himself to God who is the definition of good to see that both the wicked person and himself are sinful and need to be saved.  Only one person can save us, and that is Jesus.

What are some ways you have strayed from what God wanted you to do?  I know many times when I lose my patience and get angry with people.  I know God hates that.  I pray that he will heal me of that.  Have you been tempted by other kids to follow the wrong crowd, listen to the wrong music, do the wrong thing?  Maybe you cheated on a test, or were tempted to. 

Don’t be fooled.  People who hate God and his laws seem to star in all the shows, get the music or movie awards, get elected to office from all political parties and have many people who love them.  And other children who disobey teachers, parents, and God may seem to be having fun and friends right now.  But one day, if they do not turn to God and accept Jesus as their savior and Lord, their end will not be very good. 

If you die apart from God’s will, you will remain under his anger forever.  All have turned away from God and deserve this.  But Jesus came to take that punishment if you will only surrender your life to him and love him.  He will take your punishment and replace all your evil with his goodness so that you will grow more like him through the Holy Spirit for the rest of your life and then enjoy a perfect existence with him forever in his permanent Kingdom.  Measure your life against Jesus, and not against other people no matter how much you like them.

No comments:

Post a Comment