A Zoad, a Fork, and a Choice (5/22/16)

Posted by on May 29, 2016 in Sermons | 0 comments

A Zoad?  How does a Dr. Seuss character improve our own character; help us to walk in deeper faith?  If we’re going to get anywhere, we need to make a choice; step out in faith and commit to obeying God.

Click the below “Play” button and scroll down to follow along (the recording is from the 11:00  service)…

 

The scripture was Jeremiah 6:16 and Deuteronomy 30:15-19.  Click the following Drop Down box to follow along.  Pastor Jim read from the King James version; the New King James is shown below…

Jeremiah 6: & Deuteronomy 30

Jeremiah 6:16

Thus says the Lord:

“Stand in the ways and see,

And ask for the old paths, where the good way is,

And walk in it;

Then you will find rest for your souls.

But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.’

=========================

Deuteronomy 30:15-19

15 “See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil,

16 in that I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments, His statutes, and His judgments, that you may live and multiply; and the Lord your God will bless you in the land which you go to possess.

17 But if your heart turns away so that you do not hear, and are drawn away, and worship other gods and serve them,

18 I announce to you today that you shall surely perish; you shall not prolong your days in the land which you cross over the Jordan to go in and possess.

19 I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live;

 

 

Zoad- not Road.  That’s not a Misprint in the Bulletin!

There was a  lot of confusion in the office this week after Pastor Jim emailed his sermon information.  “Zoad”???  Surely he meant “Road”, didn’t he?  A followup email was needed, and Pastor Jim confirmed, indeed, he was going to preach about Zoads instead of Roads.

Dr.Seuss (Theodore Geisel) dedicated himself to writing simple, entertaining and thoughtful books and poems that used basic words that children would understand.  Many of his poems weren’t published into books, and one of them is a poem called “A Zoad in the Road.”

We don’t know if Dr. Seuss did any research into the meaning of his word “Zoad,” but it turns out that this is the same as a Greek word meaning “Stair Step” or “Ladder.”  A device that people would use to get somewhere.

What Zoad are we using?

Here’s the text of Dr. Seuss’ poem… (open the drop down box to follow along)

A Zoad in the Road

Did I ever tell you about the young Zoad

Who came to two sides in the fork in the road?Seuss- CatInHat 400x630

He looked one way then the other way, too.

So the Zoad had to make up his mind what to do.

Well the Zoad scratched his head, his chin, and his pants,

And he said to himself, ‘Now, I’ll be taking a chance.

If I go to place one, that place may be hot.

So how will I know if I like it or not?

On the other hand though, I’ll feel such a fool,

If I go to place two and find it’s too cool.

In that case I may catch a chill and turn blue.

So place one may be best and not place two.

On the other hand though, if place one is too high,

I might get a terrible earache and die.

On the other hand though, if place two is too low,

I might get some terrible pain in my toe.

So place one may be the best,’ and he started to go.

And he stopped and he said, ‘On the other hand though. . .

On the other hand, other hand, other hand though, and. . .

For thirty-six hours and one half that Zoad made starts and made stops

At the fork in the road, saying ‘No, don’t take a chance, you may not be right.’

Then he got an idea that was wonderfully bright.

‘Play safe,’ cried the Zoad, ‘I’m no dunce.

I’ll simply start off to both places at once.’

And that’s how the Zoad who would not take a chance

Got no place at all with the split in his pants.

(copied from http://www.funtrivia.com/askft/Question19581.html)

The poor Zoad couldn’t make up his mind which way to go.  So, he decided to not really MAKE a decision.  Instead, he tried to take both roads at the same time.

 

Have You Ever Had to Make Up Your Mind?

Have you ever made a decision for Christ?  As you go through life each day, do you decide to follow Jesus, or do you decide to not decide and “go with the flop of the mop” instead?  There’s a great danger of just trying to “play it safe”… just having enough faith to keep you comfortable, but not enough to be willing to commit your total life to Him.

Are you trying to keep one foot in God’s Kingdom and the other in a world which is opposed to God’s Kingdom?

Decisions are like hair; either you have it or you don’t.  There’s no middle ground.  Over and over, the Bible tells us to avoid the fear of “ruffling feathers” and playing it safe; try to keep peace instead of trying to keep pace.  Here are a few passages talking about decisions (all quotes are from the New Living Translation)…

Matthew 6:24 “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. 
Joshua 24:15 15   But if you refuse to serve the Lord, then choose today whom you will serve. Would you prefer the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates? Or will it be the gods of the Amorites in whose land you now live? But as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord.”
1 Kings 18:21    Then Elijah stood in front of them and said, “How much longer will you waver, hobbling between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him! But if Baal is God, then follow him!” But the people were completely silent.
Jeremiah 6:16   This is what the Lord says: “Stop at the crossroads and look around. Ask for the old, godly way, and walk in it. Travel its path, and you will find rest for your souls. But you reply, ‘No, that’s not the road we want!’
Deuteronomy 30:15-20 15   “Now listen! Today I am giving you a choice between life and death, between prosperity and disaster.  For I command you this day to love the Lord your God and to keep his commands, decrees, and regulations by walking in his ways. If you do this, you will live and multiply, and the Lord your God will bless you and the land you are about to enter and occupy.

“But if your heart turns away and you refuse to listen, and if you are drawn away to serve and worship other gods,  then I warn you now that you will certainly be destroyed. You will not live a long, good life in the land you are crossing the Jordan to occupy.  “Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live!

Matthew 7:13-14 13  “You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way.  But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it.

Revelation 3:15-17 15  “I know all the things you do, that you are neither hot nor cold. I wish that you were one or the other!  But since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth!

Jesus wasn’t indecisive about going to the cross.   Are we doing our best to get the Word out?

 

Broadway or The Lamb’s Way??

Our church is on the corner of two roads named BROADWAY and LAMBS Road.  In a way, it’s a fitting metaphor.  The Lamb of God (Jesus) tells us in Matthew 7:14 that “Wide is the gate and Broad is the road that leads to destruction…  But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life.

Pitman United Methodist Church (Broadway & Lambs Rd.)

Pitman United Methodist Church (Broadway & Lambs Rd.)

Every time we drive into our parking lot we have a choice between using Broadway or Lambs Road.  And so many time in life we have a choice between using the “Broad” way or the “Narrow” way.  To take the easy route or to take the Lamb’s route.

Some people act like the Zoad and always try to compromise.  The narrow road is too… narrow.  In fact, the world has a phrase for that.  They call this path “narrow-minded” because it’s intolerant.  It’s too strict.

The world and our culture say that “a little of Jesus is a good thing, but it’s possible to be too moral, too straight laced, too pure, too  holy, too religious.  So, Loosen Up!” we’re told.  “Don’t be so serious.  Mix a little worldliness in with your faith.  Go ahead and commit little sins… everybody does.  It won’t matter.”

We are taught to take the broad way.  In fact the world has a term for this too- “broad mindedness.”  It’s tolerant, it’s accepting,  if it makes you happy, then everything is OK.

In what ways has the culture taught you to take the “Broad Path”, to compromise, to take the easy way out?  Are you afraid to go against the grain and take the “Narrow Path”?

 

Be Different!

You have to make a choice.  God calls us to be different and keep both feet in His path.  God doesn’t want us to split our pants.  Here’s what Paul said about sticking to the Narrow Path (in 2 Corinthians 6:14-18, New Living Translation)…

Don’t team up with those who are unbelievers. How can righteousness be a partner with wickedness? How can light live with darkness?  What harmony can there be between Christ and the devil? How can a believer be a partner with an unbeliever?  And what union can there be between God’s temple and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God said:

“I will live in them and walk among them.

I will be their God, and they will be my people.

Therefore, come out from among unbelievers,

and separate yourselves from them, says the Lord.

Don’t touch their filthy things, and I will welcome you.

And I will be your Father, and you will be my sons and daughters,
says the Lord Almighty.”

Tough words.  But God is calling us to be separate, to “walk in the light.”  When you turn on the light, the darkness disappears.  God wants His people to look like His people.

In Matthew 6:24, Jesus tells us:

 “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other…”

Which master do you serve?

 

It Can Be Done!

Not everyone compromises… Jesus certainly didn’t.  Of course, He was Jesus and we’re not, but He knew it would be difficult.  And so He told us (Luke 6:22-23, NLT)…

What blessings await you when people hate you and exclude you and mock you and curse you as evil because you follow the Son of Man.  When that happens, be happy! Yes, leap for joy! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, their ancestors treated the ancient prophets that same way.

The road can be hard, but Jesus assures us that the rewards will be worth it.

But we do have examples all around us of  people who have taken a stand for Christ.  They felt the bumps of the narrow road, but their faith kept them committed…

A preacher in Vietnam was sentenced to two years  in prison.

When he was offered an early release,  he turned it down.  He explained that there was a group of new believers in the prison, and he wanted to continue to disciple them in their faith.

In Columbia, a missionary was kidnapped and was told that she only had two hours to live.

She told her captors that if she only had two hours to live, she wanted to spend it telling them about Jesus.

In the Sudan, a Christian boy had his knees and feet nailed to a board and was left to die.

When he was rescued he said that forgave the man who did this to him because Jesus was also nailed and forgave those who did that to Him.

Who is God asking YOU to forgive?

Indecision causes stress.  But when we choose to walk the narrow road, we’ll find that it is freeing and liberating.

 

Ask for Directions!

Jeremiah said  “Ask for the good road.”  Don’t just look at the roads… ask for advice from God.  Allow the Holy Spirit to guide us; sometimes the choice is hard for us to figure out.  Jesus told us (in Matthew 7:7, American Standard Version):

Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock,
and it shall be opened unto you.

God wants us to ask for advice.  We see this over and over again in the Bible… dozens of times, in fact.   (all quotations are from the New Living Translation)…

Matthew 21:22   You can pray for anything, and if you have faith, you will receive it.”

Psalm 50:15   Then call on me when you are in trouble, and I will rescue you, and you will give me glory.”
Amos 5:4   Now this is what the Lord says to the family of Israel: “Come back to me and live!
John 15:7   But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted!
James 1:5-6   If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind.
Psalm 145:18   The Lord is close to all who call on him, yes, to all who call on him in truth.
Hebrews 11:6   And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.
Jeremiah 33:3   Ask me and I will tell you remarkable secrets you do not know about things to come.
Mark 11:24    I tell you, you can pray for anything, and if you believe that you’ve received it, it will be yours.
Isaiah 55:6   Seek the Lord while you can find him.  Call on him now while he is near. 
Proverbs 8:17   “I love all who love me.  Those who search will surely find me.
Jeremiah 29:12-13   In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.  

 

The Spirit is at the Crossroads…Ask Him for Help!

We are not left as orphans….  Jesus leaves us with the Holy Spirit.  Here’s what Dr. Luke writes in Acts 2:17-18 (quoting from the prophet Joel)…

‘In the last days,’ God says,
‘I will pour out my Spirit upon all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy.
Your young men will see visions,
and your old men will dream dreams.

In those days I will pour out my Spirit
even on my servants—men and women alike—
and they will prophesy.   NLT

In John 16:13, Jesus tells us that the Holy Spirit will play a huge role in our lives.  He says,

When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own but will tell you what he has heard. He will tell you about the future.    NLT

Let Him guide you.  Ask Him!Seuss- GertrudeMcFuzz 400x300

I’ve encountered many crossroads in my life.  Even though I’ve been a pastor for 27 years and in ministry for 34, I don’t always know what to do.  So I ask for advice.  I turn to friends, experts, and other people who have been where I’m at.  I ask them, “Which path should I take?”

In order to understand what the Holy Spirit is saying to us, it helps to get together with other Christians and figure out what the Holy Spirit is saying to them.  When we seek advice and bounce ideas off each other, and pray together, we can sense where the Holy Spirit is leading us.

What do we have to fear???  Even if we make a wrong choice, the Holy Spirit will put us back on the right road.

Check out the following wisdom from the book of Proverbs…

Where there is no counsel, the people fall;

But in the multitude of counselors there is safety.  (Prov 11:14)

Without counsel, plans go awry,

But in the multitude of counselors they are established. (Prov 15:22)

Counsel in the heart of man is like deep water,

But a man of understanding will draw it out. (Prov 20:5)

A wise man will hear and increase learning,

And a man of understanding will attain wise counsel,  (Prov 1:5)

The Zoad didn’t seek anyone’s help.  He didn’t get advice, and he didn’t make a decision.  The fork in the road is always just ahead.  It’s not enough to just SAY I want to walk with Jesus.  It’s not enough to just pray and ask for guidance.  The fork is upon us and we must make a decision.

 

At the Crossroads…

Preacher Larry Elder made the following intriguing observation:

Jeremiah says “Stand at the crossroad” and this preacher said:

“For us it’s quite literally a ‘Cross Road’. ”  He noted that back in the days of Christ, “The throngs  flocked to Jesus because He fed them, and they wanted to see signs and wonders.  But when He would not just give them what they wanted to see and hear, they walked away.  He could have kept the crowds coming if He’d only given them excitement, entertainment, and intrigue. 

But instead He said,  ‘Take up your cross and follow  me.’  It’s a Cross Road we are asked to trod.”

We always come to a “Cross” in the road.  The Cross stands there in our path… and we know we’ve got to make a choice.  We have to make a decision because Jesus is right there in our path, and He’s asking us to pick up the cross and follow Him.Seaville Outdoor Chapel Cross _0906041024

But many people stop right there.  They don’t pick up the cross.  They just stand there like the Zoad in the road and think God will be satisfied it they try to compromise.

That’s what happens to too many people.  They stop at the cross (or crossroads) and go no further.  They see Jesus crucified for them, but they don’t really want to make the decision to follow Him.

What will you decide today?

Will you be a  Zoad in the road, or will you choose to become a child of the King of the universe today?

RoadFork _meadow-677878_960_720 _600x200

 

 

 


Quiz Time!

As you reflect on what you’ve just heard/read, give this quiz a try.  If you don’t understand an answer (or if you disagree with the “correct” answer, post a comment)…

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