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Monday, May 1, 2006
"The Ancient Paths"
This is what the LORD says: "Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls. But you said, 'We will not walk in it'" (Jeremiah 6:16).
Last month after my Mom's burial service at a country cemetery in southwest Missouri we had a meal at the Harwood Community Center. My two brothers and several cousins then went over to the little white church Mom and her siblings attended while growing up. When I grew up we also visited the church several times a year when we visited my grandparents. In a stunning way my most significant memory of that church is singing, "What a Friend We Have In Jesus", a song that for me just never gets old and ministers to me even as I prepare this message.
We gathered in the old church and sang some songs before we completed our day together with a sentimental walk over to the very spot our grandparents lived (although the house burned down shortly after they died.) The only active businesses in tiny Harwood now are the Post Office and a feed store. We grandkids have moved all over the country, lived much of our lives and are now getting old ourselves. Life has changed immensely but my visit to Harwood was one of life's crossroads, a time to consider the ancient paths.
Jeremiah's ministry was to the Kingdom of Judah in the years just prior to the Babylonian Exile. His ministry essentially urged the people to repent of their sins and turn back to God. In today's verse the direct appeal is from God, "This is what the LORD says."
They were to "stand at the crossroads and look." The crossroads of life are a time of decision and also a good time to examine our lives. In the case of Jeremiah and the initial recipients it was the sobering reality of the imminent destruction of the kingdom. In our lives crossroad experiences may be the death of a loved one, a severe trial, our own aging and sense of our own physical mortality or even the sense that soon the good life as we have known it may be coming to an end.
God called them to "ask for the ancient paths." I believe the meaning here is spiritual and a call to obedience as found in God's Holy law and ways. This is the "good way" and by walking in it one will truly find rest for the soul. Jesus said, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls."
But many then and so many, many still today emphatically declare "We will not walk in it." The "ancient paths" are maligned from so many sources. This last Saturday I was perusing through books at a large Costco warehouse store where book after book attacked the foundations of the historic Christian faith.
We need to return to the "ancient paths." We must commit our lives to be obedient servants to Jesus Christ our Lord, to the entire Bible, and to the great example set for us by scores of dedicated, sold-out believers throughout the ages of the Bible and the Church.
My earnest prayer today is this, "I stand at the crossroads and look; I ask for the ancient paths where the good way is, and by God's grace I choose to walk in it and accept Your promise that I will find rest for my soul."
Many of you can listen to audio on your computer. If you are able please sit back a moment, close your eyes and listen to the old hymn "What A Friend We Have in Jesus." Consider the ancient paths. It's still true.
Be encouraged today,
Stephen C. Weber
Brooksyne's prayer: Lord, as I stand at the crossroads of decision it seems that some of my optional paths have neon lights blinking directly at me alluring for my attention and pulling at my heartstrings. One path presents the current philosophies and trends of my generation claiming they are the right way. Another path is directionless and has so many choices one can get lost. Another road laid out for me requires intense labor and plenty of good works. But then I see the well-worn path marked out by the faithful followers of God throughout the centuries – the faithful ones who remained true to Your ancient law whose hearts did not betray the One True God. With godly determination I earnestly desire to follow in the steps of the Master that lead me to my heavenly home where the soul will find rest and never dies.
*This music is courtesy of a musician named Lisa Bloecher who shares her music online.
Amish work team
(I took this photo while visiting the eastern part of Lancaster County on Saturday.)
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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission; and the King James Version.
Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."
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