New Life Church of Tampa
The Path Principle
Sermon Notes For Pastor Thomas Atchison
Many people are "directionally challenged". In other words, they have no goals in their lives and often end up in painful relationships and situations because they don’t plan to get anywhere in their lives.
OPEN: On New Year’s Day, 1929, Georgia Tech played UCLA in the Rose Bowl. In that game a young man named Roy Riegels recovered a fumble for UCLA. Picking up the loose ball, and he ran 65 yards toward goal line. Unfortunately… he had gotten confused… it was the wrong goal line.
One of his teammates - Benny Lom - ran him down and tackled him just before he scored for the opposing team. Several plays later the UCLA had to punt. Georgia Tech blocked the kick and scored a safety further demoralizing the UCLA team. From that day on, Roy Riegels was branded “Wrong way” Riegels”.
There are many people live their lives that way.
They go the wrong way, because they’ve lost sight of - or never had - a goal.
Many people are what you might call directionally challenged.
They don’t know where they’re going. They haven’t a goal.
They just wander thru life expecting that everything will turn out all right.
And that’s kind of the picture we get here in Proverbs.
Solomon is sitting on his porch watching a young man wandering down the street.
Verses 7 & 8 say: “I saw among the simple, I noticed among the young men, a youth who lacked judgment. He was going down the street near her corner, walking along in the direction of her house.”
The picture we see is of a boy that is “walking along”.
The boy doesn’t seem to care about where he’s going. He has no specific direction, he’s just wandering along the road at twilight (it’s getting dark).
He seems to be just killing time.
He’s out taking in the sights of the city because he’s got nothing better to do.
But he’s apparently in the wrong part of town, at the wrong time of day, and he meets up with the wrong kind of woman. She comes out to meet him.
She’s a good looking woman, and she’s interested in him.
She makes him feel good about himself.
And since this young man has nothing better to do with his time he goes home with her and spends time with an adulterous woman.
Proverbs 7:22-23 tells us
“All at once he followed her like an ox going to the slaughter, like a deer stepping into a noose
till an arrow pierces his liver, like a bird darting into a snare, little knowing it will cost him his life.”
In other words, he will live to seriously regret this decision. But how did he end up in such a dangerous arrangement? Well… because – as Solomon tells us – he “lacked judgment”
Some time back, a few of the Indiana Pacers got into trouble at a bar in Indianapolis. They were at the “8 Seconds Saloon” in downtown Indy at 2:15 in the morning, when a fight broke out. Some people said the Pacers were in the middle of it, the Pacers said they had nothing to do with it. But one commentator noted that nothing good can ever come of being out at a bar at that time in the morning. If these guys had wanted to avoid getting into trouble… they should have been at home in bed. But, like the foolish young man in Prov. 7, they were in the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong kind of people.
Proverbs 7 is a lesson Solomon is sharing with his sons. He’s telling them a story because he wants to drive home a special insight into life. But what lesson did Solomon have in mind?
Why did he tell about a foolish boy meandering down the street and being distracted by a harlot?
Well, he told this story because he wanted his sons to understand the value of “knowing where they was going”.
Solomon paints the picture of foolish boy being seduced by a loose woman. And the reason he is so easily swayed into her bedroom is because this fellow doesn’t seem to care where he’s at or who he’s with.
Them Solomon contrasts that with the story of some place they should want to be at and someone they should want to be with.
Look with me to Proverbs 8:1-6 “Does not wisdom call out? Does not understanding raise her voice? On the heights along the way, where the paths meet, she takes her stand; beside the gates leading into the city, at the entrances, she cries aloud: ‘To you, O men, I call out; I raise my voice to all mankind. You who are simple, gain prudence; you who are foolish, gain understanding. Listen, for I have worthy things to say; I open my lips to speak what is right.’”
The foolish man meanders along in places he doesn’t belong, in places he shouldn’t be, because he has no specific direction he really wants to go and has no specific objective in life.
By contrast the wise man has a specific destination. He doesn’t stumble into the harlot’s bedroom because he is pursuing a different kind of woman. He has destination. He has a direction he wants to go.
This is the “Path Principle”
He says: “We know that in driving, the direction you are going determines the destination that you arrive at.”
STORY : Wrong Direction
Now, if that’s true when I drive my car, it’s certainly true in how I live my life. If I want to get somewhere with my life… I had better have a direction in mind.
So, the first question we have to ask ourselves is this: Where should we want to go?
Yogi Berra once said:
"You got to be careful if you don’t know where you’re going, because you might not get there."
Too many people don’t know where they’re going.
They’re like that foolish young man in Proverbs.
They have no specific destination for their lives, and so one day, they’ll end up going someplace they’re going to regret.
Solomon says: Don’t do that.
Don’t live your life aimlessly.
Have a destination… know where you’re going… and do what it takes to get there.
So what kind of destination should you choose?
Where do you want to go?
Well, if you’re here, that means you want to go where God wants you to be.
And God has good news for you.
He knows the direction you should take in your life.
“… we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10
You are HIS workmanship
You were created in Christ Jesus for good works – which have already been prepared for you.
God has already planned out the direction your life should take.
And His plan for your life is tailored to your needs and desires.
God has planned out GOOD things for your life. He’s planned out a direction that He know you’ll appreciate/ enjoy/ and really need.
Thus, if I want the best destination for my life… I should build that destination around God.
Now, how does that work?
Well, Solomon starts out by talking to his son about “relationships”.
Solomon tells about this young man who wanders down by the home of an adulterous woman.
This boy establishes a relationship with this loose woman because she likes him.
She compliments him. She wants to do things for him. She makes him feel like a man. She’s attractive to him.
It seems to him as if he has been destined to enjoy her company and receive her blessings.
If you asked him, he might even say that he felt God wanted him in that relationship. After all, she’s just returned from “fulfilling her vows” and she has “fellowship offerings at home” (vs. 14). She seems to be a very religious person. How could God not want him to spend time with her.
That’s often what adulterous people will say.
They’ll say they felt their “love” for each other was ordained or fated to be.
But, of course, that’s all a lie.
These people just stumbled into a relationship that was dictated more by their lust/ selfishness than by any celestial involvement. And they stumbled into these immoral relationships because they didn’t start out by being concerned with what God wanted for their lives.
They made those snap decision without even asking God what His opinion was.
They didn’t bother to look for God’s insight and wisdom for their decision.
And as a result they get hurt and they hurt others.
LOOK AGAIN AT Proverb 8:1-6
Does not wisdom call out? Does not understanding raise her voice? On the heights along the way, where the paths meet, she takes her stand; beside the gates leading into the city, at the entrances, she cries aloud: ‘To you, O men, I call out; I raise my voice to all mankind. You who are simple, gain prudence; you who are foolish, gain understanding. Listen, for I have worthy things to say; I open my lips to speak what is right.
Solomon tells us God’s wisdom is like a woman out in the street shouting and waving her arms.
You can’t hardly miss her. She’s easy to find.
In the same way, God’s wisdom is easy to find… if you bother to look for it and ask for it.
James 1:5 says: "If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him."
Look to God. Ask Him for His insights into your lives, and you will gain the wisdom necessary to plan your life properly.
You cannot arrive at your life’s purpose by starting with a focus on yourself. You must begin with God, your Creator. You exist only because God wills that you exist. You were made by God and for God - and until you understand that, life will never make sense. It is only IN GOD that we discover our origin, our identity, our meaning, our purpose, our significance, and our destiny. Every other path leads to a dead end.”
As Christians, we know God has a destiny for us.
And we know that if we set our hearts on that destination, if we forge forward in that direction ignoring anything that gets in the way – that we will obtain the best God could give us.
That’s what Paul believed.
He wrote: "Forgetting what is behind, and straining toward what is ahead, I press on." Philippians 3:13
Paul was convinced that nothing else in this life compared with what God had in store for his life SO he left everything else behind and he strained towards God’s destiny for his life.
When you have such a destination set in your mind, you’ll just naturally begin to prune away every relationship or activity that hinders or bogs down your commitment to that goal.
Now… let’s revisit what we’ve learned today:
1. The direction you are going determines the destination that you arrive at
2. God has already established that best direction for our lives (He’s made a plan for us)
3. So, if I want what is best for my life…then I want to build my life around His plan.
4. AND I discover that plan by asking for His wisdom in my decisions.
The last thing I want to discuss mention today is this fundamental question:
What if I’ve made bad decisions?
What if I haven’t included God in my plans?
What if I’ve messed things up so badly that there doesn’t seem to be any way of fixing them?
God is the God of “beginning again”.
He’s the God of “do overs”.
He takes our failures and faults and removes them – replacing them with a new clean slate. And then God takes that clean slate and builds our destiny into our lives.
Roy Riegels had failed his team. They went into the locker room with an 8 point deficit.
Coach Price looked at the team and said, “Men, the same team that played the 1st half will start the second.”
The players got up and started out… all but Riegels.
He didn’t budge. The coach looked back and called to him. Riegels didn’t move.
Coach Price went over to where Riegels sat and said,
“Roy, didn’t you hear me?” The same team that played the 1st half will start the 2nd.”
Roy Riegels looked up, his cheeks wet with tears.
“Coach,” he said, “I can’t do it. I’ve ruined myself. I can’t face the crowd out there.”
Coach Price reached out, put his hand on Riegel’s shoulder and said,
“Roy, get up and go on back. The game is only half over.”