Thursday, May 9, 2013


Stop judging by mere appearances,
and make a right judgment.
                               John 7:24

      It is red, octagonal, and sends out a warning that drivers understand. STOP! It is not a suggestion. It is a command. When you see the sign, you must stop. If you fail to obey, consequences follow.

     Like our roadways, God’s Word contains warnings to stop. Stop sinning. (John 5:14)  Stop grumbling. (John 6:43)  Stop judging. (John 7:24)

     This may be one of the most ignored signs both on our highways and in our spiritual lives. Have you ever accidentally run a stop sign? Did you see it in your rear-view mirror? Did you glance around to see if your actions caught the attention of a police officer? Did you get a sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach thinking about what might have happened if another vehicle had been approaching? Did you begin getting your story ready for an officer? “But officer, I didn’t see it. Honestly sir, I’m not in the habit of running stop signs. Could you just give me a warning this time, sir, please?”

     Isn’t it ironic that we might consider asking for a warning for not heeding a warning? Have you ever asked God for a warning ticket instead of the consequences you should receive?  How often—although you knew you should not—have you spoken words that you later wished you had kept to yourself? After ignoring the spiritual stop sign, did you ask yourself why you did it? Unfortunately, I don’t have to think too hard before I can remember such an occasion.

          I will never forget the night several years ago when God brought this home to me in an intense personal experience. Returning home after facilitating a Bible Study at my church, the road took me through a rural area that ran by the transportation administration area for the buses of our local school district—the bus barn.

     Because of the traffic caused by buses getting on and off the country road and because trains crossed the road just past the bus barn, a traffic light had been installed. During the school day, the light was a good thing. However, at night when there was not a car to be found in any direction and no train approaching, that light became an irritation.

     On this particular night, I caught the red light. After sitting for what seemed to be five minutes (it was probably really only one) I decided to ignore the red light. After all, I reasoned, I had worked all day, rushed to church, been in Bible study and still had to get home and get things ready for work the next day. I deserved to be able to get going. However, God had another plan.

      As I lifted my foot from the brake and reached for the accelerator, I heard God’s voice. For a moment I thought He was seated in the passenger seat rather than speaking into my heart. “Integrity is what you do when no one is looking.” Whoa! My foot hit the brake so hard my head bounced back and forth as I stopped the car’s forward motion.

     I sat waiting, listening, hoping for more; afraid of what that more might be. But, there would be no more. As I sat through another round of light changes, God said nothing else; nothing else needed to be said. He had given me a life lesson that would last from that night forward. If another vehicle had been present, the thought to run the red light would have never crossed my mind. Yet, while waiting and thinking I was alone, my true heart condition was exposed.

      Even now on that rare occasion when I’m at a traffic light that is broken and cars are stopping in all directions to take turns going through the red light, I remember that night many years ago. The words God spoke into my heart are as fresh as if He spoke them five minutes ago. “Integrity is what you do when no one is looking.” Whether that is to stop what you are doing or to abandon what you are thinking about doing, when God gives you a warning to stop, STOP!

      Today I pray this prayer for myself and for you:

“Father, help me to begin to see as you see, hear as you hear, and speak as you speak in order to make a right judgment in every area of my life and to recognize and obey your voice when you tell me to STOP.”

JP 2013

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