Determined in the wrong direction

Hosea 5:11 Ephraim is oppressed, crushed in judgment, for he is determined to follow what is worthless. 

I try not to sin.  Even amidst the failure, I am pretty determined not to.  It’s not because I think it is yucky or that it will cause me to go to hell.  It’s not because I am trying to follow a bunch of rules.  I genuinely want to please the Lord with my life.  So I try.  I fail, but I try.  And there are those times that it seems like we fail over and over again.  Do you ever experience that?  You know – you just blow it day after day.  So we try harder not to mess up and focus on not doing bad stuff.  But it doesn’t work.

Recently, I was staying at a campground that had lots of rules.  I swear the word “no” was on a hundred signs.  No running, no diving, no riding bikes here and there, no kids in this pool, no tents on these sites, no, no, no, no, no.  You know what that does?  It focuses me on the word no.  I was thinking about all the things I couldn’t do rather than the things I could.  Later in that trip, we visited a waterpark.  I noticed that their signs were different.  They said things like, “please stack your tubes when you leave the lazy river.”   They focused on what you should do rather than what you shouldn’t.  It was a happy place.

Living life as a train wreck is no fun.  But you won’t pull out of it if you continue to focus on what you shouldn’t be doing.  You will just fail over and over again.  And to God, it will seem as though you are determined to follow what is worthless.  Friends, that is determination in the wrong direction.  Now we all know that you probably aren’t determined to sin, but apparently that is what it looks like to God.  What you need to do is turn your determination in a different direction.

If you don’t, you will end up trying to walk forward while looking backward.  Have you ever tried that?  You will inevitably crash into a telephone pole.  So turn your head around and start walking away from sin.  Determine to do right things.  Determine to please God with your thoughts, your actions, your life.  Determine to point your determination in the right direction.  Start focusing your thoughts on what you should be doing rather than what you shouldn’t.

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