From time to time I receive encouraging letters from my friend Tom where he expounds on some topic that has been on his mind. Recently he wrote on the matter of following Yeshua. Before I really had time to contemplate what he had written, I received another letter about walking in the “ancient paths.” They were so good I thought I would share them here. I hope you find his words edifying.
What does it really mean to be a believer, a follower of Yeshua? Most of us who claim Yeshua as Savior and Lord think we know what it is to be a believer. It is easy to get into the rut. I observe every Sabbath, read my Bible in the morning as I drink a cup of coffee. I pray every morning as I prepare for the day and every night as the day comes to an end. I tithe. I even talk to a stranger or two about my faith in Yeshua every now and then. I think I am doing a pretty good job as a believer.
Even as I do these things I cannot help but wonder, do I really know what God wants from me? Do I really know the “why” behind being a believer? Am I just going through the motions? What is God’s purpose, His overall plan? What could the creator God who literally could have anything He wants, possibly desire from me? I know I am not alone in pondering these questions. David writes in Psalm 8:3-4, “When I consider your havens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them.”
God did not need to create man. God was not lonely before he created Adam and Eve. He already had company in the multitude of angels. God did not create man because He had a craving for tributes or sacrifices or even a craving to be worshiped. God was in need of absolutely nothing, for his life was perfect as-is. Again I raise the question what does God really want from me? I think this question is answered by Yeshua in Mark 12:30-32 (quoting Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18), “‘And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’”
When it comes to you and me, God wants you and God wants me! God wants a loving relationship with each of us! Then He wants me to take the vertical love of God and make it horizontal, following his example and treating others with love. He created us so that He might love us and so that we might love him. Everything in Scripture points to this fact! As John wrote, “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19). God just wants us to accept His love for us, for us to love Him, and for us to love one another in response to his love for us.
My personal response to God’s love for me is obedience. Yeshua stated, “If you love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15). This means I need to be in God’s word, obediently following His teachings. Why? Because God loves me, I have personally accepted His love, and now I am called to obediently live in His love. When I understand the love of God, my one and only response to his love is obedience. I will observe every Sabbath, read my Bible in the morning as I drink a cup of coffee, I will pray every morning as I prepare for the day and every night as the day comes to an end, I will tithe and I will talk to a stranger or two about my faith in Yeshua. Why? Because of the transforming love of God!
When it comes to accepting God’s love, man has made it more difficult to accept than God ever intended! First, realize that “God demonstrates his love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Yeshua died for us” (Romans 5:8). Because of God’s love, he pursued man by sending his son Yeshua. Follow what Paul writes Romans 10:9-10, “If you declare with your mouth, ‘Yeshua is Lord’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.” It is that simple. And know this, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved!” (Romans 10:13). Allow the love of God to transform your life. “Be on your guard, stand firm in the faith, be courageous, be strong. Do everything in love” (1 Corinthians 16:13-14).
As I have stated before, I love the Old Testament! And once again here is a verse from Jeremiah with a powerful message and promise for use today: “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 fine rest for your souls. But you said, ‘We will not walk in it’” (Jeremiah 6:16). From the moment I wake up, I stand at the crossroads!
Crossroads are simply choices I have before me that will impact my day and those around me. Some crossroads are simple, the choice is almost automatic and some of my choices are made for me. Most of the crossroads of life are not what people would call major life-changing decisions. The simplest and what seem to be the most minor, insignificant decisions can have life-changing, eternal impact. I cannot help but think about how I decide to start my day could have an eternal impact in someone’s life.
Do I get up, read scripture, pray and focus my mind on my savior and Lord Yeshua or do I get up, turn on the news feeding my spirit and mind with negativity. David writes in Psalm 5:3, “O Lord in the morning you hear my voice, in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch.” Yeshua also had a morning habit; (Mark 1:35) “rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.”
The Lord states “ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is.” Yeshua is the same yesterday, today and forever. Although the world around us is changing every day, God is still the same. What was truth in the Old Testament is truth in the New Testament. Yeshua stated 2,000 years ago that He is the way, the truth, and the life and that is still true today! Yeshua is not one of many ways or the best way. He is the only way to eternal life with the Father.
Notice too, that it is not enough for me to “ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is” but I also have to “walk in it.” It is a conscious decision I have to make daily follow him. Paul writes in Colossians 1:10, I must “walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.” “Walk in it” means moving forward one step at a time, making the conscious decision to walk “where the good way is.”
If I choose to walk in the ancient paths where the good way is, there is a promise; I will find rest for my soul. I am reminded of the words of Yeshua in Matthew 11:28-30, “Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Yeshua is not talking about rest for my body. Yeshua is talking about rest for my soul, my spirit, my mind. No matter what I am experiencing in this physical body, I can have a deep-settled inner rest, and inner peace, a peace that surpasses all understanding.
“By you said ‘we will not walk in it.’” As God is speaking to his chosen people, the nation of Israel, he is also speaking to those who claim Yeshua as Savior and Lord. Just because I am a believer does not mean that I always choose to “walk in it.” How many times in my life, like the nation of Israel, have I said to God “I will not walk in it?” Most of the time, I am not openly defiant to God. I cannot remember a time that I have said to God “I will not walk in it.” Making the choice not to choose waking in God’s path, I have chosen to do life my way. And by the way, the times I choose to not walk in it, the ancient paths where the good way is, these are the times in my life that I lack peace, rest for my soul, my spirit and my mind.
Today and every day, as you “stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths where the good ways is and walk in it, and you will find rest for your soul.”