Stop making crooked the straight paths
Acts 13:9 But Saul, also known as Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him
Acts 13:10 and said, “You son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, full of all deceit and villainy, will you not stop making crooked the straight paths of the Lord?
Paul encountered a man who was a false prophet and also a magician. He was influential with the leaders of the area, able to share with them what seemed to be great words of advice, as well as do magic acts which gave the appearance of great power. However, when Paul met with this man, he could see right through him. He could see that this man was simply trying to improve his personal image, gain power and use it for his personal benefit. Also, while pursuing his own personal good, he was very willing to lead others astray. God has provided straight pathways for us, but self-interest turns those paths into winding roads which lead to destruction.
As followers of Christ we must pray for a discerning spirit. God is good and faithful and has prepared straight paths for us. What does that mean? It means that when we are sensitive to him and his leading, it becomes easy to know the direction in which we should go. Unfortunately it tends to be the voices of those who appear to be well-meaning individuals that can lead us astray. Why was Paul able to discern who was a true follower of Christ and who was not? Somehow he was able to see right through this individual for what he really was. He could see that he was the "son of the devil" an "enemy of all righteousness," "full of deceit." What's amazing is that the proconsul could not see it! This man had come in and dazzled the leadership team with all of the wonderful things that he could say and do. They were blown away by his personal prowess, charismatic personality and bag of tricks! The result was that the straight paths that God had prepared for his people were being made crooked. Being a follower of Christ was being portrayed as something it was not, and made much more difficult than God had intended.
In reality there may be times that we are making the straight paths of God crooked by our very own behavior. We may think that we need to take the matters of life into our own hands and when we do, we make the straight paths crooked. Suddenly we discover that we are no longer trusting in God for his leading and guidance and instead of following his easy path, we end up somewhere that he had never intended. One day we wake up and wonder how in the world we have arrived at this destination rather than the one that God has prepared for us. It's time to stop trying to do things with our own human power, to stop making the straight paths crooked, and completely and totally depend upon him.
Lord, may my life be one of complete and total dependence on you. Amen.