The Road to Hell is Paved with Good Intentions

Quote

The road we walk is self-selected, but we are not doomed to walk the wrong path, God gave us a choice.

~ Lisa Blair

This is a long post, please bare with me.

Lisa Blair, designed using Word Swag

As Christians, we listen to God speak to us and then reinterpret what He said to continue down the path of self-interpretation. In short, we change how we should do what He said to soften the outcome. God’s primary command is to obey Him, yet we often choose to ignore His commands for our lives, thus the quote, “the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Our intentions are good but fall short of following His precept to be obedient. Obedience a requires 100% response. You cannot be 50%, or 75%, or 99.9% obedient. You are either obedient or you are not obedient, no matter the intention. God speaks to us, we either respond obediently or we disobey.

Take the case of Saul in Samuel 15.

Saul Disobeys the Lord

One day, Samuel told Saul:

The Lord told me to choose you to be king of his people, Israel. Now listen to this message from the Lord: 2 “When the Israelites were on their way out of Egypt, the nation of Amalek attacked them. I am the Lord All-Powerful, and now I am going to make Amalek pay!

3 “Go and attack the Amalekites! Destroy them and all their possessions. Don’t have any pity. Kill their men, women, children, and even their babies. Slaughter their cattle, sheep, camels, and donkeys.”

The Kenites left, 7 and Saul attacked the Amalekites from Havilah[b] to Shur, which is just east of Egypt. 8 Every Amalekite was killed except King Agag. 9 Saul and his army let Agag live, and they also spared the best sheep and cattle. They didn’t want to destroy anything of value, so they only killed the animals that were worthless or weak.[c]

The Lord Rejects Saul

10 The Lord told Samuel, 11 “Saul has stopped obeying me, and I’m sorry that I made him king.”

Samuel was angry, and he cried out in prayer to the Lord all night. 12 Early the next morning he went to talk with Saul. Someone told him, “Saul went to Carmel, where he had a monument built so everyone would remember his victory. Then he left for Gilgal.”

13 Samuel finally caught up with Saul,[d] and Saul told him, “I hope the Lord will bless you! I have done what the Lord told me.”

14 Then why,” Samuel asked, “do I hear sheep and cattle?”

15 “The army took them from the Amalekites,” Saul explained. “They kept the best sheep and cattle, so they could sacrifice them to the Lord your God. But we destroyed everything else.”

16 “Stop!” Samuel said. “Let me tell you what the Lord told me last night.”

All right,” Saul answered.

17 Samuel continued, “You may not think you’re very important, but the Lord chose you to be king, and you are in charge of the tribes of Israel. 18 When the Lord sent you on this mission, he told you to wipe out those worthless Amalekites. 19 Why didn’t you listen to the Lord? Why did you keep the animals and make him angry?”

20 “But I did listen to the Lord!” Saul answered. “He sent me on a mission, and I went. I captured King Agag and destroyed his nation. 21 All the animals were going to be destroyed[e] anyway. That’s why the army brought the best sheep and cattle to Gilgal as sacrifices to the Lord your God.”

22 “Tell me,” Samuel said. “Does the Lord really want sacrifices and offerings? No! He doesn’t want your sacrifices. He wants you to obey him. 23 Rebelling against God or disobeying him because you are proud is just as bad as worshiping idols or asking them for advice. You refused to do what God told you, so God has decided that you can no longer be king.”

24 “I have sinned,” Saul admitted. “I disobeyed both you and the Lord. I was afraid of the army, and I listened to them instead. 25 Please forgive me and come back with me so I can worship the Lord.”

Idlehearts.com

26 “No!” Samuel replied, “You disobeyed the Lord, and I won’t go back with you. Now the Lord has said that you can’t be king of Israel any longer.”

27 As Samuel turned to go, Saul grabbed the edge of Samuel’s robe. It tore! 28 Samuel said, “The Lord has torn the kingdom of Israel away from you today, and he will give it to someone who is better than you. 29 Besides, the eternal[f] God of Israel isn’t a human being. He doesn’t tell lies or change his mind.”

30 Saul said, “I did sin, but please honor me in front of the leaders of the army and the people of Israel. Come back with me, so I can worship the Lord your God.”

31 Samuel followed Saul back, and Saul worshiped the Lord. 32 Then Samuel shouted, “Bring me King Agag of Amalek!”

Agag came in chains,[g] and he was saying to himself, “Surely they won’t kill me now.”[h]

33 But Samuel said, “Agag, you have snatched children from their mothers’ arms and killed them. Now your mother will be without children.” Then Samuel chopped Agag to pieces at the place of worship in Gilgal.

34 Samuel went home to Ramah, and Saul returned to his home in Gibeah. 35 Even though Samuel felt sad about Saul, Samuel never saw him again. (1 Samuel 15, CEV.Biblegateway.com)

The Lord spoke to Samuel and instructed him to speak to Saul. Samuel told Saul to “Go and attack the Amalekites! Destroy them and all their possessions. Don’t have any pity. Kill their men, women, children, and even their babies. Slaughter their cattle, sheep, camels, and donkeys.”

When Saul reported back to Samuel, Samuel asked if he completed the mission as commanded. Saul said ‘yes’, but as my pastor said, Samuel could hear the sheep in the background. Samuel asked again and learned that Saul killed all of the Amalekites except King Agag and the best cattle and sheep. This was an act of defiance, disobedience. Best intentions?

In verse 22, Samuel said, 22” “Tell me,” Samuel said. “Does the Lord really want sacrifices and offerings? No! He doesn’t want your sacrifices. He wants you to obey him. 23 Rebelling against God or disobeying him because you are proud is just as bad as worshiping idols or asking them for advice. You refused to do what God told you…”

Rlfwc.com

When we begin to manipulate what God told us to do, the outcome is not the outcome God planned for us. Think back to when you were a child. Your parents told you to clean your room and then you can go out to play when you are done. Sound familiar, what did you do? Your friends are waiting for you, so you smoothed out your bed spread and pushed clothes and toys under your bed or in the closet. You called your mother, who entered your room and looked around, but since it only took a few minutes, knew something was amiss. She opened the closet, looked down and saw something sticking out from under the bed and turned around to address you. The result was not as planned, you were grounded and could not go out and play. The story is not about being grounded; it is about partial obedience. The moral of the story is that partial obedience does not result in the outcome you expected.

Faithfellowshioministries.net

This is the case when God instructs us in what to do. We try to get around the full request. Sometimes, it is because we are afraid. Sometimes it is because it may cause slight discomfort, and sometimes it just does not seem to be the answer we wanted, again like Saul who tried to justify his decision to only follow part of the instructions he had been given. All too often our intention to obey is lost in self gratification. You cannot receive the intended outcome if you fail to follow the full instructions.

Verse 24 reads, ““I have sinned,” Saul admitted. “I disobeyed both you and the Lord. I was afraid of the army, and I listened to them instead.” We often listen to our inner voice. The inner voice is our carnal voice governed by Satan. It is the same voice Eve heard in the Garden of Eden. The intention of this Post to remind us that we must discern the voices, who are we listening to, the voice of God or the voice of the evil one, the great impersonator.

I will go out on a limb and say, when we alter God’s instructions to fit our needs, we reap the results that look nothing like the intended outcome, instead we reap the consequences of being disobedient. We, like the child, find ourselves in a predicament we created by our defiance to do what we were told.

When we disobey the Lord, we are walking down the road paved by our good intentions, but it is not the road to heaven, it is the road to hell.

But this is not the end. The Book of Samuel is part of the Old Testament and Christ had not yet visited earth or had been crucified. The New Testament informs us that Christ died for our sins, and we have been freed from eternal, no escape, sin. We are not destined to walk down the paved road that leads to hell. God gave us the freedom to choose. We can follow Him if we choose or deny Him and live our lives relying on our own decisions, good intentions. I choose to live in a relationship with the Lord. Do I sin, certainly, I do, we all do, that is, until Christ returns to redeem us.

Life lessons provide wisdom to follow our Lord and live by His Word. As we mature, we more readily repent of the sin we committed and over time, no longer adhere to our old habits. We can choose to travel down the road paved by good intentions, or we can obey the Lord and change lanes from the road that leads to hell, that is – self affirming, manipulated intentions, or to coin another phrase, we can ‘begin to walk down the straight and narrow’ the best we can.

God tells us, ‘not to look to the left or right’. Why you ask, enticement resides on the side roads to the left or right. Do not veer. Walk straight ahead with blinders if needed, God is leading you down the paved road to heaven. Proverbs 4:27 NKJV warns us, “turn not to the right or left; Remove your foot from evil.” The NLT version reads, “Don’t get sidetracked; keep your feet from following evil.” And, the EST version warns, “Do not swerve to the right or to the left; turn your foot away from evil.”

The key terms are: turn not, sidetracked, or swerve. They all lead to good intentions and are unfruitful. They lead us down the path of disobedience, coined the path to hell.

Heavenlytreasuresministries.org

The thing we all must remember is that good intentions or bad intentions, both driven by self gratification are not a form of obedience. Both lead to hell. There is no justification for our actions as seen in the story of Saul. His hell was the loss of being king and possibly the eventual aftermath. Repentance is the catalyst, obedience is the key in moving forward.

Resources: biblegateway.com; biblestudytools.com; biblehub.com. Images: Google Images, sites noted below the image.

Conceptually Forgiveness Should Be Easy, but Is It?

Quote

We can learn from the stories and characters in the Bible.

~ Lisa Blair

Bible stories share the pathway to Christ. Each person in the Bible experiences challenges in life. The stories teach us how we can tether ourselves to God. This year I am studying the Book of Genesis. Throughout this Book we see the trajectory of Abrahams descendants that led to the life of Christ and our salvation. Abraham, Issac, and Jacob’s lives reflect our experiences today. Each experienced a personal relationship with God, yet each stumbled time and time again in their humanness. God’s promises thrived despite their sin. Each persons bond grew stronger as they experienced how much God loved them, and never forsake them; they learned to forgive others as well as themselves.

I am sharing scriptures that will emphasize how we can rely on the Lord despite our weakens. He commands us to forgive. Have you forgiven yourself, what about others? Genesis 45-47 shows how Jacob and Joseph grew to understand how God loves us, leads us, and directs us to forgive and reconcile with others.

Colossians 3:13 NKJV

“bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.”


Colossians 3:14 NKJV

“But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.”
‭‭

Ephesians 4:32 NKJV

“And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.”
‭‭

Isaiah 41:10 NJKV

“Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’”


‭‭Psalm 23 NJKV

“The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the LORD Forever.”

‭‭Proverbs 3:5-6 NKJV

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.”
‭‭

Psalm 27-14 NKJV

“Wait on the LORD; Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the LORD!”
‭‭

Psalm 42:8 NJKV

“Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; For I shall yet praise Him, The help of my countenance and my God.”

1Peter 1:3-5 NLT

“All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation, and we have a priceless inheritance—an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay. And through your faith, God is protecting you by his power until you receive this salvation, which is ready to be revealed on the last day for all to see.”
‭‭

ENJOY reading these scriptures. Recommendation – memorize them to help guide your path.

Scriptures – Bible.com

Images – Google Images

His Hope

Quote

God is patiently waiting for all of us to become like Christ.

~ Lisa Blair

“God’s purpose for His people is that we become like the Lord Jesus Christ.” (BSF-Bible Study Fellowship)

For those whom He foreknew [and loved and chose beforehand], He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son [and ultimately share in His complete sanctification], so that He would be the firstborn [the most beloved and honored] among many believers.” Romans 8:29 AMP

God’s hope for our lives is to become more like Christ. This statement sounds easy, but is it really? The answer is YES and NO. Our mission as Christians is to read the Word, stay in prayer, and allow God to transform our daily walk. He expects us to treat people as Christ treated people, to spread the Good News as Christ spread the Good News, to become more than our sinful self-indulged selves. The more we read, study, and share, the more we become like Christ.

My Morning Routine

Reading is our responsibility, why because that is how we create gather the knowledge base we need to become more like Christ. We should read scripture every day. It may be a verse, a chapter, a book. Whatever works for you. I have several hardcopy Bibles – different versions, and parallel Bibles and commentaries. I also have several Bible apps and refer to scriptures and commentaries to dig deeper when studying. This has become the beginning of my daily practice. Daily devotionals also feed me each morning.

Praying is very important, I pray before I get out of bed, thanking God for another day’s journey and praising Him for who He is in my life. I also pray throughout the day and praise Him every time I see Him is something I see or am doing.

Thoughts on Transformation

I find that as I continue to mature in the Word, I notice my transformation and His activity that weaves through my life.

As we become more knowledgeable, most of us experience the need to share what is going on in our lives. The light of the Holy Spirit breaks through our continence. People recognize a difference in us. we begin to shine as we beccome more Christ-like.

One thing I have found, as well as those who shared the same experience, is that as you recognize God’s love, and your relationship with Him grows, He expects more of you. He will put you in positions and situations to pray for others; you will see Him orchestrating your life more and more. And, for some of us, He invites us to become spiritual leaders in some capacity. If this happens, it’s easier to say, Yes Lord,” early on. He will not stop asking. He knows what we need to grow and become more like Christ. And He will continue to move you in the direction we should go.

One of my many stories about my Walk.

God will always provide the game plan for your life if you ask, or when He charges you with new responsibilities. Most of us doubt our readiness; Moses doubted his ability when God charged Him to save His people. Moses was just one of many. We never really feel we are ready. But when God calls, He immediately tells us how to go about the task. He will train you. All you have to do is be obedient. For example, many years ago, one of my Boardmembers told me about BSF and invited me to attend. I said I did not have time. God is patient. He waited awhile and introduced another person who invited me to join BSF. I said, once more, I do not have time, thank you anyway. The third time he asked, he arranged for me to be free of excuses, and I agreed to go with the third friend that asked. That was three years ago. In my second year, the Lord put it on my heart to sign up as a leader. I did, hesitantly, not because I feared becoming a leader, I had been one throughout my career. Not because I felt inadequate, I had served as a teen Bible Study teacher. I was hesitant because this was a new level of serving Him.

This past year the pandemic hit, and the world began to shelter-in-place. Well, my 11-year-old Granddaughter lives with us, and this year she is attending Virtual 7th grade through our district; the schools have not reopened in California. With this in mind, I declined to serve as a BSF Group leader this year, using the excuse that I may have to become a home-teacher. This was in June. In late July, God shared He wanted me to lead a BSF group this year. I said I have other responsibilities with my granddaughters’ education this year in addition to other commitments. BSF takes a lot of time. After I finished making excuses, I said, ‘okay’ and contacted our head administrator. She shared that many leaders had withdrawn for one reason or another (all pandemic related, including many were not comfortable with the ZOOM format) and that she was happy the Lord encouraged my return. The bottom line, God knows what we can handle. I have sixteen people in my group and a lengthly lesson each week, as well as leadership training, and my other commitments. When I was done making excuses, He immediately told me I needed to be very disciplined this year and laid out my weekly schedule. He provided time for every aspect of my life. God is truly an amazing, attentive, and yes, a demanding Lord.
Walking with Christ is very rewarding.

As children of Christ, we are blessed to have a relationship with Him. We are blessed to have the opportunity to become more like Christ. We are saved and have the opportunity to: confess our sins, repent – asking forgiveness, being forgiven, and renewed. Our walk is not easy, we have a sin nature that works hard to derail us. Our salvation is a daily endeavor because once we give in to sin, the struggle becomes more of a battle to get back to who we are in Christ. He patiently observes our actions and is pleased when we say, enough, your will and not mine. Our journey on this earth is ongoing until the day we transition to heaven.

Surrendering is one of the most fulfilling things you can do in this life. His hope is that we will accept Him as our Lord and Savior and walk down the path God placed us on long before we were born.

Resources: BSF Handbook; biblegateway.com

Images: Google images

Grace and Mercy

Quote

Without God’s Grace and Mercy, we would be lost.

~ Lisa Blair


Grace is when God gives us what we don’t deserve. It is the act of endowing unmerited favor. In God’s Grace, He gives us the gift we do deserve – heaven. If we are the light, then we must follow Christ and extend grace to those we feel don’t deserve it. That’s right, we should stop judging, that is not our job. None of us are deserving of grace because we are all sinners. Christ was crucified to save us. Given our model, we too must extend our love for others in much the same way. This is not to say we should allow others to walk all over us, definitely not, but we should be more forgiving. We should see through the eyes of God’s mercy. We should treat others as we would like and expect to be treated, see the Fruit of the Spirit For a list of Christ’s virtues (previous posts or go directly to Galatians 5:22-25. Before delving into mercy, let’s further look at the definitions of grace and mercy. In the Greek, grace is defined as charis, favor. The Greek word used for mercy is eleos which means pity, compassion. In short, we seek God’s favor and compassion.

Mercy is when God doesn’t give us what we do deserve. He has compassion for us. God gives us mercy, which means He withholds the punishment we deserve. The punishment we sinner’s deserve is hell, which He holds back. But note, holding back does not negate disciplining us, which like parenting is an expression of love. God disciplines us to produce holiness which is kind and gracious regardless of how painful it may be in the moment. Luke 6:36 reads, “be merciful, just as our Father is merciful (to us).

We, like David call and cry out for God’s mercy often. How do we cry out? We demand that He answer us, praying He will respond in the way we cried out. Think about this, we live in the now, we do not know the future that God provided before we were born, we do not know the plans He has for us, we do not know the whole story, but yet and still, being human, we want what we want, and when we forge ahead without consulting God, it tends to backfire, takes us down an unforeseen path, often harms others, and can lead to less than desirable outcomes. At this point we cry out for God’s redemptive love. At it’s core, mercy is God’s forgiveness of our sins. Mercy is God’s steadfast loyalty. We should ask God for guidance and direction out of the goodness of His love.

Fortunately, God takes us to the path for forgiveness. David is the perfect example of God’s mercy. He lusted, killed, and fornicated. Abraham feared and lied. Sara was impatient and Jacob was a cheater and trickster. Rehab was a prostitute, and the Israelites rebelled against God, yet God forgave them, had compassion and used them to accomplish His purposes. Further, God converted Saul to become Paul, the author of much of the Bible, and Paul became the apostle of Christ. The Bible is filled with stories of God repeatedly forgiving sinful humans. He works in and through us for our own good and ultimately His glory. God’s unmerited mercy is new every morning, we are not consumed by our sin because His compassion never fails (Lamentations 3:22-23 NKJV). Without His compassion, we are doomed to live in our sin and perish.

Matthew Schmalz, Associate Prof. Of Religion, College of the Holy Cross, wrote, “WHAT I learned is that mercy begins by opening oneself to those with whom one might strongly disagree,Mercy doesn’t end there, of course, but it begins with such small acts of understanding, which can lead to life-changing experiences of love.”

Mercy

Hebrews 4:16; Ephesians 2:4-5 ESV; Psalms 51:1-2; Matthew 6:14; Psalms 40:11; 1Peter 1:3; James 2:13 ESV; Titus 3:5 ESV; Psalm 23:6 ESV; psalm 103:8 ESV

Grace

2 Timothy 1:9; 2 Corinthians 8:7; Ephesians 4:7; John 1:14; Hebrews 4:16; James 4:6; Isaiah 41:4 GNT

**Ways to Respond to God’s Grace and Mercy. Go to Christianity.com

Resources: Book – Strength For Today. What We Don’t Deserve, Aug. 3. Brenda Walsh; Christianity.com, What is the Difference Between Grace and Mercy? Philip Wijaya; The conversation.com, What is the True Meaning of Mercy? Matthew Schmalz; pure life ministries,org, A Biblical Definition of Mercy.

Images: LAB PHOTOS; Google images; Mercy Bible Verses; theconversation.com