Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Old Paths


'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!’ Jeremiah 6:16

Each of us stands at a crossroads. One path is the culture of the day. Ever changing, never steadfast--- a "new path" to follow every year. Pop culture, technology, new age thinkers, tv shows, gaming and entertainment--- they are ever changing, offering no lessons of waiting, patience, and growth. The soul is not fed or nourished in an eternal way by the culture. It offers no satisfaction that is lasting, and it offers a frantic and hurried pace of life. If one's soul is to be satisfied, it will not find true and lasting satisfaction in chasing after every new trend. That is a confusing and soul draining way of life.

"There is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death." Proverbs 14:12

What we must understand as Christians is that we will almost never be called to walk the cultures paths--- because the cultures paths are generally not in union and abiding in God and His laws. We will not find satisfaction in the culture of the modern day. It changes rapidly from day to day and never fills the soul. We will spend money, time, health, and energy chasing every fleeting thing offered us and we will have spent a lifetime chasing the wind. There is no fruit produced from this tree of the world, it's branches wither and die.

“Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing."  John 15:5

The path of God stretches in the other direction. It looks dated to the world, it looks old and "uncool." Yet it offers eternal wealth---salvation. God's path promises a deep rest to the soul, one that the world's modern and ever changing ways know nothing of. It is a rest that each soul longs for and many never realize. 

"Like greedy dogs, they are never satisfied. They are ignorant shepherds, all following their own path and intent on personal gain." Isaiah 56:11

 In making a choice to not chase after the world, but rather to shed it's layers and walk the old, peaceful, simple paths, we are able to spend time with God, seek Him, and seek His rest and peace for our lives. 

"Mark out a straight path for your feet so that those who are weak and lame will not fall but become strong." Hebrews 12:13

 The ever strong winds of the day will blow against us, yet God's peace is stronger than these temporary winds. This means we may face questions, ridicule, persecution and mocking. Yet we are deeply satisfied. Our soul is at rest, abiding with God. We must take the time to seek God and His paths. Some of us set our feet on a path only to turn and follow a new one next week. We must take the time to really determine our path and then plant our feet firmly on it.

This may mean that our lives look radically different to those around us because we are chasing after the things of God. Our evenings are spent with our families, loving them and enjoying them. We are not out chasing after the latest events every night.

"Lead me in the right path, O Lord, or my enemies will conquer me. Make your way plain for me to follow." Psalm 5:8

We spend time with God. In prayer, Bible reading, and reading books filled with gems of wisdom from old, great writers and preachers.

We are not busying ourselves unnecessarily, even at times with church events, as too much busyness means we are neglecting the old, spiritual disciplines of prayer and Bible reading, and quietness in our lives.

"My steps have stayed on your path; I have not wavered from following you." Psalm 17:5

We are busy building up our families for God and that requires our time and full attention, it requires our presence.

We seek a simplicity, because the simplicity keeps away the soul clutter and gives us more room to focus on God. This means we have the Lord's discernment, discerning and praying about each new fad and trend that may tempt us, even ones in our modern and contemporary Christianity. 

"Mark out a straight path for your feet; stay on the safe path." Proverbs 4:26

God wants us to be steadfast and determined to walk His paths, and He will be faithful to lead us.

"I will lead blind Israel down a new path, guiding them along an unfamiliar way. I will brighten the darkness before them and smooth out the road ahead of them. Yes, I will indeed do these things; I will not forsake them." Isaiah 42:16

The Bible is full of God's words about following His paths. It is His command out of love for us that we walk in His ways. His way is the path with light illuminating it, the shining way of life.

God tells us His paths lead to life, peace, righteousness and joy. He longs for us to walk His paths; so He can reveal Himself and shower us with His peace. It is a path that is waiting for us, He has prepared it for His beloved people.

"This is what the Lord says— your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is good for you and leads you along the paths you should follow." Isaiah 48:17

"Oh, that my people would listen to me! Oh, that Israel would follow me, walking in my paths!" Psalm 81:13

"The Lord is good and does what is right; he shows the proper path to those who go astray." Psalm 25:8

Prayer: "Lord, show my mind and heart the path you have for me. Give me strength to let go of my old ways to walk your path for me. Lead me down the path to your still waters, and may I never fear where your path leads, knowing that it leads to your salvation. Amen."

Entering His Still and Quiet Peace


"And the effect of righteousness will be peace, and the result of righteousness, quietness and trust forever."  Isaiah 32:17

 Quietness of the heart comes from a trust in God that runs deep. A heart that can rest in His presence and just be with our Father. How many times are we asking God questions, talking to Him, peppering Him with our requests? We are as hyper toddlers to our Heavenly Father; sometimes He just longs to calm us and settle our spirits. As a mother or father holds a child lovingly; God holds us. He loves us and desires our hearts to be peaceful. A mother tries to settle an unruly child by holding him in her arms, how much more does our Heavenly Father want to do this for us? Maybe the heart is so used to being "hyper" that we need a lesson from God in how to have a still and quiet heart.

"Instead, I have calmed and quieted myself,
    like a weaned child who no longer cries for its mother’s milk.
    Yes, like a weaned child is my soul within me." Psalm 131:2

Concern for so many matters that are out of our control plague us. We worry and fret and it comes to no good end. Our hearts are burdened and worried with the unknown. The truth is it is out of our control. God holds these problems and worries in His hands, He is the Father who carries His children. He doesn't make us bent beneath our loads, though they may feel heavy at times.

"Tears of joy will stream down their faces, and I will lead them home with great care. They will walk beside quiet streams and on smooth paths where they will not stumble. For I am Israel’s father, and Ephraim is my oldest child." Jeremiah 31:9

Many search for a secret to rest and peace. God doesn't keep His ways a secret, He makes them known. Though we won't enter His full rest---salvation---until we reach heaven. Abiding in Jesus here on earth gives us rest, and Jesus abides in us. "Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him." John 14:23

Jesus makes His home within us, we abide with Him, walk with Him and drink from His streams of righteousness. At times this rest is not entered into because of our own sin, rebellion and anxieties. The Israelites were not allowed to enter the promised land because of their own rebellion. The promised land is a picture of heaven. If we seek our own way, we will wander and wander like the Israelites seeking the rest and peace of the Promised Land, never attaining it.Yet, it is there for those who turn their hearts towards God and follow His ways.

"For forty years I was grieved with that generation,
And said, ‘It is a people who go astray in their hearts,
And they do not know My ways.’ So I swore in My wrath,
‘They shall not enter My rest.’” Psalm 95:10-11

The Lord tells us that when we "eat the bread of our anxieties" it is in vain. When we focus on our anxious thoughts we are wasting our time, we are not focusing on God's rest that has already been completed. Jesus work on the cross is complete for us; He has now entered His Father's rest. We can partake of that rest with Jesus, resting in His completed work on the cross.
"It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep." Psalm 127:2 

We rush to act. We want to "solve" the source of our anxieties. We run to human sources, thinking that our human strength and might can solve, will allow us to enter into rest yet again. Only God can save us; only He can provide the rest that our souls long for.

"So the Lord must wait for you to come to him
    so he can show you his love and compassion.
For the Lord is a faithful God.
    Blessed are those who wait for his help." Isaiah 30:18

Our rest is found in Christ's finished work on the cross. In God's salvation, in quiet and confident waiting on the Lord. God cannot break a promise, His throne is built on justice and righteousness. He promises rest for all who are willing to submit their hearts and abide with Him.

"This is what the Sovereign Lord,
    the Holy One of Israel, says:
“Only in returning to me
    and resting in me will you be saved.
In quietness and confidence is your strength.
    But you would have none of it." Isaiah 30:15

Prayer: "Lord, show me the path to your rest and peace. Examples in the culture are few and far between and your rest is not known to them. Show me your rest and peace and show me your plan. Remove the anxieties that are a sickness to my body and allow me to enter your healing rest. Keep my feet planted on the path of your salvation. Amen."

"That times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago." Acts 3:20-21

"Of Benjamin he said, “The beloved of the Lord dwells in safety. The High God surrounds him all day long, and dwells between his shoulders.” Deuteronomy 33:12