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Today’s Truth

He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.

Psalm 23:3

Friend to Friend

One Sunday my pastor had to do some housekeepin’ fussin’ at our congregation before he started his sermon. It was a “visitors, close your ears” moment as Jimmy interrupted the service for an important message from our
neighbors.

See, right beside our church property is a city park. On Sundays, when our parking lot is full, we tend to use the city park lot for our overflow parking. The only problem is that the folks going to the city park don’t like the fact that those daggum CHURCH people are taking their parking spaces.

It is not nice of us. Really. I’m sorry. I’ve done it, too.

And while our sweet pastor calmly asked the congregation, once again, to STOP PARKING IN THE CITY PARK PARKING LOT (he didn’t yell, but I bet he wanted to) folks still do it. As soon as Jimmy finished his announcement and began his sermon, God had a sermon just for me. He wasn’t finished with me and the forbidden parking lot issue. That’s what happens when you make a path or keep a path open, He seemed to say, “You’re going to walk down it eventually.”

See, while we have been warned, scolded, and pleaded with not to park next door, there is this nice little path through the bushes from the city park’s parking lot to our church’s parking lot. The bushes are trimmed on both sides, cobblestones are succinctly placed, and a nice little bit of concrete forms a gently curving sidewalk. Someone keeps the bushes clipped and the grass maintained. The breezeway almost beckons us (me) to break the rules.

Now let’s go down a different path. Let’s call the path sin. Let’s say that you have decided that once and for all you are not going to park yourself in the parking lot of a particular sin.

  • You’re not going to stop by Dunkin’ Donuts and eat a dozen chocolate-covereds in one sitting. You’re not even driving by.
  • You are not going to sleep with that boyfriend…ever again!
  • You’re not going to date that guy you know is bad for you…ever again.
  • You’re not going to look at that particular website.
  • You’re not going to flirt with the married guy in the next cubicle.
  • You’re not going to gossip about other people.
  • You are not going to drink because you know you have an alcohol problem.
  • You are not going to indulge in online shopping because you’re in debt.
  • You’re not going to _______________.

There are hundreds of vices you could put in that sentence. But then there’s a nicely groomed little path that you’ve kept open…just in case. You wouldn’t call it “just in case.” You wouldn’t say it out loud.

  • The guy’s name is still in your contacts list on your smartphone.
  • You still think about what that guy in the next cubicle would like when you get dressed for work in the morning.
  • You still pull up that website when you think God isn’t looking.
  • You still pull up a chair when someone begins to gossip.
  • You still take the route home from work that goes right by the Dunkin Donut store.
  • You keep a bottle in the cabinet…just for company.

The paths beckon you. And as long as you keep the breezeways open, you’ll probably breeze right through them…eventually.

The answer? Remove the path. Put up a gateless fence.

  • Remove the contact.
  • Change your job.
  • Get rid of your computer.
  • Get an accountability partner.
  • Take a different route home from work.
  • Remove the bottle.

Make the path impassable, implausible, and impossible to take, and put up a gateless fence instead.

Jesus said, “If your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out” (Matthew 5:29 NKJV). That is pretty dramatic. I’m not telling you to pluck out your eye, and I’m not sure that’s what Jesus was saying either. But He was telling us to remove the cause of the temptation.

Remove the path. Put up a fence.

So here’s my question: Do you need to put up a fence where you now have a path?

Let’s Pray

Heavenly Father, thank You for always giving me a way of escape. Forgive me for not always taking it. Help me to keep my resolve to put up a fence and close the paths to areas of my life that I have left open to sin.

In Jesus’ Name,

Amen.

Now It’s Your Turn

I’m erecting a fence the moment I press the send button on this devotion. Because now that I’ve told you about my little parking lot dilemma, I will never park in the city park’s lot again. Just telling you about it holds me accountable.

And maybe, just maybe, I’ve hit on a way for you to begin placing fences where those paths have been…tell someone, and ask her to hold you accountable.

Go back and look at today’s truth. What do you think it means “for His name’s sake?”

I’ve been pondering that. Here’s how the New Living Version translates it. “He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name.”

Are you willing to honor God’s name today by putting up a fence and avoiding that tempting path? If so, click over to my Facebook page and say, “I’m shutting down the path.”

More from the Girlfriends

I’ve compiled one hundred of my favorites stories, along with Bible verses and prayers in one book, Listening to God Day by Day. It is the perfect jump-start at the beginning of the day,

pick-me-up during the day, or wind-down at the end of the day. The 15-minute devotional is also a great gift for a friend, especially one who is seeking a relationship with God or is new to the faith.

9 Responses to “That Little Sneaky Path to a Bad Place”

  1. Missy T says:

    I am shutting down the path. I am not a smoker, and yet when I’m stressed, I will. It makes me physically ill and yet I enjoy the act. Perhaps it’s defiance; perhaps it’s because I do enjoy it. But I know I shouldn’t. This post was timely – God amazes me with bringing me enlightenment exactly when I need to hear it. I took one of hubby’s cigarettes last night & put it in the cabinet… “just in case”. This morning during my devotion/bible time, I took it out on the porch to read & smoke. I’ve left open the path. God wants me to care for my physical body so much that He gives me the consequences of migraines when I smoke. But I’m stubborn. I don’t like to listen. He tells me in subtle and not so subtle ways that He wants more from me. Today’s message was a not so subtle reminder. Thank you for that reminder. I will remove the path & put up a gateless fence. I will not smoke – for His name’s sake.

    • Lanette Smith says:

      Missy,
      Thank you so much for sharing. I’m struggling with the same thing. I’m so convicted but yet I keep giving in and smoking.
      I will pray for you. Maybe we can encourage each other.
      I putting up my gateless fence now. No more smoking for the glory of God.

  2. Sandy says:

    This resonated with me SO much. Thank you for speaking truth and speaking to me. I have had to put up many “fences” based on items you listed. The one I struggle with the most is food with dating taking a close second. I took a break from dating and decided to give that to God since I wasn’t doing so hot on my own, but the food is much harder to let go.

    How do you block it when the temptation is everywhere? This has been my lifelong struggle and I don’t want it to control me any longer. I work hard at the gym only to sabotage myself by eating “bad” foods because I had a stressful day or I am too tired to grocery shop or cook a healthy meal.

    I honestly wish foods didn’t have connotations. I wish I could have a cupcake and not feel guilty, and that I could stop at one… I feel like I let myself and God down every time I buy or eat junk food. It is a vicious cycle that I need help in breaking. I am going to try your suggestion of an accountability partner and see if that helps me.

    Thank you again and Merry Christmas to you all! I love your emails and read them every morning as part of my daily Devotionals.

  3. Amy V says:

    Wow… “just in case” paths are what the Holy Spirit called them for me but I never wanted to admit that. I DO have them… on my smartphone, Facebook friends and on messenger. There is NO way that this isn’t a strong confirmation from God. I’m learning about walking in His ways the past year and a half and this entire post was like a flashing warning light. I am living proof that if a path is open, eventually you WILL take it. Maybe not today or even next month, but you WILL. It’s time for me to deactivate Facebook, delete #s, delete messenger… because it is too easy to think I can “handle it” and have the mistaken belief that I’ve got it under control and I call the shots- not “that thing”. That’s a lie. Truth be told, it’s a lack of trust in God and His plan for me. Thank you for posting this timely message!

  4. Cynthia says:

    I’m confessing alcohol use but my husband and I keep a big liquor cabinet for guests. And fussing at traffic when I could just slow down. Lord help me to be accountable. Lord help us when we know to do right and decide we’d rather suffer due consequences. Amen

  5. Amy says:

    To put a stop to hanging out with a gentleman from my job. Already asked my mom if I could stay the weekends with her. So I hold my self accountable with my mom. No more weekend hangouts. Need prayer because I’m so lonely.

  6. Dawn Wilson says:

    This is so good. It’s exactly what I was talking about with my nutritionist yesterday. We pamper our pet sins. Your post is another way to say that. We keep a pathway open to our sins and weaknesses. We get as close to the edge of the cliff as we can, instead of avoiding the edge of the cliff entirely. Thank you for this reminder today, Sharon.

  7. Back in the day I heard about a guy who did pluck out his eye, it was a family story passed down. Don’t go that far ask God to help you build a hedge of protection.

  8. Kerrin says:

    My vice is wine. I always have a bottle in my fridge for when I’ve had a bad day, or when I feel like I need to relax. The truth is, my lack of Faith in God for being with me when I am most weary, or trusting that he has a greater plan when things goes wrong, is the exact reason that I feel that I need wine.

    I also tend to date guys that I know are bad for me. I am in love with the adrenaline of it all, even when I initally know it is bad for my relationship with God.

    I need to shut down the path to all these things. Thank you for this devotion, I have never felt the Holy Spirit speak to me so clearly <3

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