Hebrew Words We All Should Know Pt. 2

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Remembering and forgetting… these are two words that appear in the Bible often.  In fact, to many who have grown up in the church or read the Bible for years, we tend to ignore these without asking the obvious questions that we should be asking. God forgets and needs to remember? In our English language, we view “remembering” as a focus on recalling or bringing certain thoughts, memories, or ideas back into our mind.  We would probably describe “forgetting” as a failure to bring certain thoughts, memories, or ideas back into our mind.

In Genesis 8:1 we have one of those moments where God has to remember. “But God remembered Noah and all the wild animals and the livestock that were with him in the ark, and he sent a wind over the earth, and the waters receded.”  Did God wake up and slap himself on the forehead, suddenly realizing he left Noah out bobbing around on the waves?  The answer would be yes, according to our western definition of remembering but the Hebrew word for remember (zakhar) is best defined by “do a favor for”, or “come to the aid of”. Every time we read in the text that God remembered it is an action, in Noah’s case God acted on the promise he made that Noah’s family and the animals would be rescued from the flood.

Genesis 30:22 Then God remembered Rachel; he listened to her and enabled her to conceive. Again, “remember” focuses on the action, not the mental activity.  God paid attention to Rachel’s needs, listened to her prayer, and answered it.  He intervened (remembered)

Forget (shakach) is also broad in definition meaning to ignore, neglect, or disregard a person or covenant, or to not act on a request. Deut 4:23 Be careful not to forget the covenant of the Lord your God that he made with you; do not make for yourselves an idol in the form of anything the Lord your God has forbidden. The emphasis is on the action, be careful not to disregard, neglect, or ignore the covenant of the Lord your God, it is not focused on the mental activity of literally forgetting the covenant!

Let’s look at Jeremiah 23:39 Therefore, I will surely forget you and cast you out of my presence along with the city I gave to you and your ancestors. God is saying he will disregard his people, he didn’t actually fail to recall they exist. Interestingly, forget is almost never used in combination with sin.  Often it does say that God will not remember (take action on) our sins, or in some cases, he does remember (take action on) sin. Hosea 9:9 They have sunk deep into corruption, as in the days of Gibeah. God will remember their wickedness and punish them for their sins.

This takes us to a conversation on forgiving and forgetting. Choosing to forgive and forget an action someone took against you really involves a choice to forgive and then disregard or not act upon what they did to you.  Maybe it is to ignore what they did because let’s face it, when horrible things happen to us at the hands of another person, especially another Christian, we can never truly erase it from our minds.

And sometimes we feel guilty about that…

But maybe it is not about erasing our mind because that would be a real Western mindset, maybe it is about the Hebrew idea of forget… to disregard it or even more important not to act upon it…

Not seeking payment or revenge for sins committed against us

 

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Hebrew Words We All Should Know Part 1

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Have you ever read a passage in the Bible and thought that it just doesn’t make any sense?

That happens to me… quite a bit and ironically enough, I believe the biblical writers did it on purpose so we would have to stop and dig deeper into the biblical text.  Another reason is simply the difference between the ancient languages and modern English.  Take Hebrew for instance… there are roughly 6000 Hebrew words compared to over 200,000 in modern English.  That presents a problem, English words are very narrow in their definitions while Hebrew words often have multiple definitions for each word and the biblical writers wanted the reader to figure out the intended meanings by reading the context.  

And sometimes they intend for multiple meanings to give us an understanding of the text.  These next few posts are going to take a look at different Hebrew words and how they help us better understand the Bible.

What comes to mind when you think of the word “fear”?  I think of various things, like irrational fears, terror, and being afraid.  No matter the specific meaning we put on it, the word “fear” has a negative feel. So when we see “fear” in the Bible, it is easy to simply put the same negative feel to it.  The word fear in Hebrew is Yirah (YEERah) and has several meanings.  It can have a negative meaning like terror or dread, but it also has several positive meanings like respect, worship, awe or reverence.

And we have to read the text to determine which meanings the writers wanted us to use.  Even in the New Testament, though much of it written in Greek, the Jewish writers would still implement the various meaning of their language.

Luke 2:9 And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear.

1 John 4:18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

In the Luke passage, it seems pretty clear that the negative meaning of fear, is being used… and they were filled with great terror or dread 

In the 1 John passage, the negative meaning of fear makes more sense.  There is no dread or terror in love, perfect love drives out terror/dread

Then we come to Proverbs 1:7 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.   The awe/worship/respect/reverence of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge… 

When I was younger in my faith, I could not grasp why I should be afraid of God, but yet that is what the Bible says… understanding that it is also defined by reverence for God, changes things completely. In a very real sense, “fear of the Lord” is being profoundly aware of the awesome, holy presence of God. I believe even devout Jews today understand this.  In many synagogues, over the ornate cabinets that hold the Torah scrolls is the phrase, Know Before Whom You Stand.  This is the fear of the Lord… the awe and reverence of God.

May we be profoundly aware of whom we worship.

Being Present

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Being present is something I think our culture struggles with every day.  We are in a conversation but our minds are elsewhere, or we are in a meeting at work and our minds are distracted.  We are so overwhelmed with information and media and busy schedules that it can be difficult to focus on the task at hand, even for me.

Think about it…

Have you ever been in a situation where you are constantly thinking about being somewhere else other than where you physically are?  I began a new book by Lois Tverberg “Reading the Bible with Rabbi Jesus” and came across an interesting thought on a passage from Exodus.

In Exodus 24:12 God has summoned Moses up to the mountain. “The Lord said to Moses, “Come up to me on the mountain and stay here, and I will give you the tablets of stone with the law and commandments I have written for their instruction.”  While we look at this as Moses going up to the mountain to wait, rabbinic commentary on this would read more like “Come up to me on the mountain and be here.”  Oddly enough one would think that Moses is already there if he came up to the mountain.  Our English would translate it as “stay here” or “wait there”.

Rabbi Mendel, a nineteenth-century rabbi, had spun a sermon from this passage.  He commented “If a person exerts and ascends to the summit, it is possible to reach it, while not being there.  He stands on the summit of the mountain, but his head is somewhere else.” It is possible to go somewhere and not really be there.  It is entirely possible to spend a lot of money and time to get to a destination while your thoughts remain at the original point of departure.  The rabbi imagined God telling Moses not only to come up Mount Sinai but to be there fully, with complete attention and concentration.  As if on this momentous occasion of giving Moses the covenant, God wanted Moses to be there in body, mind, and spirit.

This is great advice for our own time and culture…

Be present

As Tverberg points out, “this is very helpful advice for reading the Bible.  As you read, do your best to be there. In our cellphone-saturated world, some of us need to go into airplane mode and detox so our heads quit buzzing, just so we can think straight.”  As hard as it is, we have to be present in our walk with God.  It doesn’t “just happen”.  It takes intentionality and purposeful decisions to stay engaged with our heavenly Father.

 

 

A New Hope

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I am ready for Spring and I know I am not the only one!  Honestly, I am a four seasons kind of guy. I love them all in their time and place but Spring always holds some special things.

Easter

Spring Break

Opening Day of Baseball

Warmer temperatures that replaced winter snows

Renewed life in flowers, plants, and trees

Hunting morels (hopefully finding morels)

Fresh green grass and the first mow

Preparation and planting of the garden

A return to outdoor campfires

I could probably go on with other things but the main idea is new beginnings, renewed life, and hope. Some of the things in our garden will come back after appearing to be dead all winter while other things have to be replanted every year.  For baseball fans, maybe this is the year your team will make the playoffs.  Spring brings the anticipation of life and hope from the cold of winter.

We have a greater hope that comes from the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Jesus was crucified during the Jewish Passover.  But even more astounding is the Scripture passage from Ezekiel 14 that would have been read on the Sabbath following Passover and the death of Jesus.

1The hand of the Lord was on me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry. He asked me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” I said, “Sovereign Lord, you alone know.” Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.’” So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I was prophesying, there was a noise, a rattling sound, and the bones came together, bone to bone. I looked, and tendons and flesh appeared on them and skin covered them, but there was no breath in them. Then he said to me, “Prophecy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to it, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Come, breath, from the four winds and breathe into these slain, that they may live.’” 10 So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet—a vast army. 11 Then he said to me: “Son of man, these bones are the people of Israel. They say, ‘Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off.’ 12 Therefore prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: My people, I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them; I will bring you back to the land of Israel. 13 Then you, my people, will know that I am the Lord when I open your graves and bring you up from them. 14 I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I the Lord have spoken, and I have done it, declares the Lord.’”

I want you to picture yourself as one of Jesus’ followers on the third day after he died.  On the Passover Sabbath, you heard the Ezekiel passage read as it is always read on this particular Sabbath.  But now it is the third day and you start hearing rumors that Jesus is alive!  Could it be true, just like in Ezekiel, has life been breathed back into the bones and body of Jesus?  Have the words of Ezekiel come to fruition?

Our hope and joy in life come from a much stronger and much deeper place than we can even imagine.  The same power that restored the body of Jesus is the same power that is alive in all of us who have accepted Jesus Christ and who now follow him as a disciple.  I pray that this brings you great hope, encouragement, and peace.

This is where a new hope and a renewed life come from.  Spring is for me, a pale reflection of the real hope found in the resurrection of Christ.  Dry bones being made alive!

 

 

Life is hard

This hope is real

Live in hope!

 

Act Justly, Love Mercy

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In Matthew 23:23-28 Jesus lights up the Pharisees and the religious leaders about their hypocrisy.

23 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill, and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy, and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. 24 You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel. 25 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26 Blind Pharisee! First, clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean. 27 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. 28 In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous, but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.

They have the appearance of righteousness but on the inside are full of wickedness… wow, this is such an indictment against the religious leaders! The Pharisees and the religious leaders were always concerned about obedience to the law but had no concern for the burdens they were inflicting on their fellow Jews.

For example, the basic laws concerning the Sabbath were “do not work and do not build a fire”. By the time of Jesus, they had added another 3000 rules to clarify what would be considered work and what wasn’t.

Just a few verses earlier in chapter 23 Jesus says  2 “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. 3 So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. 4 They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.  

The definition of a hypocrite is someone who has the appearance of being what they are not.  Jesus does not condemn their obedience to the law, but he does condemn them for their treatment of others.

Love Justice, love mercy, be faithful

 

The ruins of a house church in Priene, Turkey. Paul would have traveled through here. The foundation of the ruins suggests it was also set apart from other homes as a place for the sick.

 

Micah 6:6-8

With what shall I come before the Lord

    and bow down before the exalted God?

Shall I come before him with burnt offerings,

    with calves a year old?

7 Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams,

    with ten thousand rivers of olive oil?

Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression,

    the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?

8 He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.

    And what does the Lord require of you?

To act justly and to love mercy

    and to walk humbly with your God.

 

Or Amos 5:21-23

“I hate, I despise your religious festivals;

    your assemblies are a stench to me.

22 Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings,

    I will not accept them.

Though you bring choice fellowship offerings,

    I will have no regard for them.

23 Away with the noise of your songs!

    I will not listen to the music of your harps.

But let justice roll on like a river,

         Righteousness like a never-failing stream

In our western culture, we view justice through our lens of understanding, defining it as getting the proper punishment for a crime that has been committed.  But Biblical justice centers on the positive, correct or fair treatment of others.  Isaiah ties justice to the rightful treatment of the oppressed, orphaned and widowed in 1:16-17. “Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil,17 learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.”

Of all people, the Pharisees and religious leaders should have known this, but how they appeared on the outside was not how their hearts were on the inside.  Obedience without care and love for others is like a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. Learn to act justly, show mercy, and this is how we are faithful as disciples of Jesus.

What Will People See?

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When people see you, what do they see?

I believe that is a valid question in today’s world.  Christians are often perceived as a hateful, self-righteous, ultra right-wing, bigots.  Some of that is a false portrayal by various forms of media and entertainment, but we have also done this to ourselves.  Christians attacking Christians on social media for a variety of reasons, church members fighting and not getting along, church splits…

You get the idea, we haven’t always been good about putting God on display.  Even in those moments when we may be “right”, fighting to push our rightness just because we want people to know we are right and they are wrong causes more damage.

I have a nerd game I love to play, Sentinels of the Multiverse.  It is a co-op game deck building game where 4 or 5 people can play the game as superheroes against a villain.  One hero that I love having in the game is Haka, he is a “Hawaiian” superhero that can do some serious damage to the villain in the game.

There is one card that comes in handy but only in certain situations… it’s called Rampage and it will do 5 damage points to all villains but also deals 2 collateral dagame points to all heroes.  At the wrong point of the game, it can actually hurt the heroes more than it damages the villains.

Sometimes well-meaning Christians do the same things… in an effort to do what is right it’s possible to do more damage than good.  That means we have to be willing to take a good look at ourselves to see how are we really displaying Jesus.

In Exodus 28 we see the commands of how the high priest was to be dressed.  31 “Make the robe of the ephod entirely of blue cloth, 32 with an opening for the head in its center. There shall be a woven edge like a collar around this opening so that it will not tear. 33 Make pomegranates of blue, purple and scarlet yarn around the hem of the robe, with gold bells between them. 34 The gold bells and the pomegranates are to alternate around the hem of the robe. 

The high priest was a living picture, putting God on display to the Israelites and to the Gentiles around them.  Because of the bells, everyone knew who the high priest was and where he was.  He was always on display, all the time… never off.  We aren’t called to where bells on the fringes of our clothes.  But we are called to put God on display.

Matthew 5 we get this command14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead, they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

We are a people who are supposed to be a picture of what God is like, there is never a time where we aren’t supposed to put God on display.  And Jesus not only lived this way but teaches us to do the same.  Let your good deeds be seen by others so that they may glorify God in heaven.

Does Prayer Really Work?

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Does prayer really work?  This might be a question that you have asked yourself before, and maybe you doubt that prayer is all that effective. Have you ever found yourself saying in frustration, “I guess all I can do is pray”?

Let me speak from first-hand experience and suggest that prayer can make all the difference.  It isn’t something we resolve ourselves to when it seems like everything else is beyond our control.  It should be our first line of offense and defense in our spiritual life.  It should be our default setting, our go-to thing right from the beginning. It’s also something I believe the Holy Spirit can lay on our hearts if we take the time in our day to listen.

Not just for ourselves

But also for the sake of others

On Monday my wife and I were in a pretty significant accident in a pickup truck.  After driving for 45 minutes on slightly wet roads, we suddenly hit a thin layer of ice at 60 mph.  There wasn’t much I could do at that point, there was no controlling truck, we slid sideways, hit the ditch and did a complete roll landing on the wheels.

A shattered windshield that miraculously still held together, a crunched in roof all with no serious injuries.   Just bruises, a couple of goose eggs and a concussion. At some point just after, maybe on the way to the hospital, I began texting some close friends and received the following message.

“Oh my word!!!! You guys were so heavy on my mind this morning too!  God was covering you guys.”

Last week, after returning home from a convicting all staff conference, we felt the need to establish a dedicated prayer group with the members committed to pray on a specific day each week for us and our campus ministry.  This accident occurred exactly one week after establishing this prayer group.

I 100% believe we were supposed to be prayed for on Monday morning to such an extent that despite my side of the truck hitting first as it rolled over (we were still traveling between 50-60 mph), the driver side window did not even have a crack in it…

We were protected

Erica, Kaylee, Elle, and Emily praying in the Jordan River

 

Acts 4:23-31 23 On their release, Peter and John went back to their own people and reported all that the chief priests and the elders had said to them. 24 When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God. “Sovereign Lord,” they said, “you made the heavens and the earth and the sea, and everything in them. 25 You spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of your servant, our father David:

“‘Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? 26 The kings of the earth rise up and the rulers band together against the Lord and against his anointed one.

27 Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed. 28 They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen. 29 Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. 30 Stretch out your hand to heal and perform signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” 31 After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.

There is great power in prayer, the believers in Acts believed it and not as an afterthought or a last resort.  They knew times would get more difficult so they prayed for boldness.

Be bold enough to pray

God may bring someone’s name to mind in your prayers, quiet time, bible study, he might even wake you up in the middle of the night thinking about someone.  It may be in those times that we need to pray for them.

I don’t believe it a coincidence that we were heavy on a friends heart the same morning we were in an accident.  And I don’t think it a coincidence last week we asked a certain group of people to pray for us on specific days of the week with a commitment through all of 2018.  Pray for others and allow them to pray for you.

Don’t be under prayed for!

Ezer Konegdo

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We heard a great message today from our Lead Minister Tim Stewart! It made me remember a something I was taught a couple of years ago on the very passage Tim spoke from in Genesis 2:18-24

 The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. 20 So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds in the sky and all the wild animals. But for Adam, no suitable helper was found. 21 So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and then closed up the place with flesh. 22 Then the LordGod made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.

23 The man said,

“This is now bone of my bones
    and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called ‘woman,’
    for she was taken out of man.”

24 That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.

Ezer means help but in many cases where the root word ezer appears in other biblical text, it is associated with strength or power.  Coupled with the verses that “woman”  was taken from man and is called bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh, we should see the idea that woman is created as an equal power or strength. We get the idea that woman is created as mans “ezer konegdo,”  Hebrew that means a help that opposes.

A what?

Think of it like this, if you were to take one board and stand it on edge it will fall over.  What happens when you take a second board and lean it against the first?  You have one board that is exerting equal and opposite force against the other board.

A help that opposes

An equal and opposite force that helps.

Equal partners

This thought should push out any idea that women are subservient to men.  That is simply not how “woman” was designed in Genesis.  She was to be Adam’s help but why, why create woman?  The answer to that comes in verse 18.

It is not good for man to be alone

I am convinced the reason God gave Adam the task to name the animals was so he would see none of them as suitable mates.  We, male and female, are made in God’s image (Genesis 1;26), the word for image is tselem and would be more accurate as God having carved his image and likeness in us.  And when both a Christian husband and wife treat each other as such, then God’s image should be readily evident.  The world around us should see something different than marriages that are not God-centered.

Roots & Fruit

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I love living in the country surrounded by a lot of trees, don’t know why but it is pretty much how I have been most of my life.  As I understand trees, it would not be uncommon for a healthy tree to have as big of a root system below ground as you see with the crown of the tree above ground.  Simply put, it is what you don’t see that determines the health of a tree and how well it will stand up against heavy winds and storms.  Take any tree with a very shallow root system and it will probably get blown over.  If we are talking about fruit trees, the health of the roots also will affect how well it produces and if it produces fruit.

Roots matter.

What is unseen is more important than what is seen.

What do your spiritual roots look like?  How deep are they?

These are valid questions if we want to grow in our faith.  If we want to weather storms of life, and we want our faith to bear any kind of fruit, then we have to grow our spiritual roots.  In Matthew 6:5-6, Jesus elaborates a bit on prayer.  “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”  So many times in the gospels we see Jesus doing this very thing, going off to pray, often early in the morning.

Prayer is one of several ways to grow our spiritual depth, another is to read passages from the Bible and think about them, meditate on them.

Psalm 1:1-3

Blessed is the one
    who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
    or sit in the company of mockers,
but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
    and who meditates on his law day and night.
That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
    which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
    whatever they do prospers.

The word law here means the teachings of the Lord… the Bible… specifically it probably meant the Torah or the first 5 books of the Bible.  But it applies to all of the Bible.  Did you catch the imagery?  Meditating on the teachings of the Lord grows spiritual roots where we will be like a tree planted by streams of water.  Our spiritual roots will grow.

There is some other imagery at play here too.

The Hebrew word for meditate in verse 2 is hagah…  in Isaiah 31:4 we see the phrase “As a lion(Q) growls, a great lion over its prey—” the word for growl is the Hebrew word hagah…

Same word

How would it be if we hunger for God’s teaching, hunched over it and growling over it as a lion over its prey, how much deeper would our spiritual roots be?  It is the roots of the tree that produces good fruit, it is the roots of a tree that enables it to withstand vicious winds and storms.  Jesus often went off alone to pray and Jesus knew his text, he quoted Deuteronomy, Psalms, and Isaiah more than any other Old Testament book these were two aspects that were crucial to him, and he was God’s son.  How much more are they crucial to us?

At The Crossroads

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We have seen them before, old signposts.

Maybe it was in a movie

Or a trek across the countryside.

Their purpose was quite simple, to show the way when you reached a crossroad.

Jeremiah 6:16

 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.”

I like the sound of that… but I find it a curious thing to ask.  Why ask for the ancient paths?  Maybe this connects to Psalm 23 where “He leads me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake”.

Think about a person you know and greatly admire.  Maybe they have the kind of marriage you want, maybe they are an incredible musician.  And you say to yourself, “I want to be like that.” How are you going to accomplish that?  Do you try and go it alone to learn it?  What about someone who you look up to for their faith?  Why not ask and look to them as a model for your own life?  We live in a culture that likes to do it our own, but why recreate the wheel?

Take another look at the photo of the sheep and shepherd from Israel.

 

Sheep under the watchful eye of the shepherd

Notice the paths are not created by the existing sheep.  The paths were already there, they are following the same paths that they have followed for hundreds of years.  Why? Because it takes them where there is sustenance, where there is life.  The paths of righteousness aren’t anything different.

Hundreds of thousands of believers have walked the paths before us.  They devoted daily to spiritual practices like prayer, Bible reading, Bible study, worship and adoration of God, and fasting all because they loved God.  The very things that would draw us into a closer relationship with God, deepening our spiritual foundations, are the same things that have been drawn believers to God for centuries.

“Ask where the good way is and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls”

Ever wonder why someone who is solid in their faith can seem so at peace even when life gets painful and messy?  Watch them closely and see how closely they walk with God.  Ask them what things they do on a daily basis that strengthens their faith to such an extent that they handle difficult things with so much grace.

I might be wrong, but I don’t think it’s rocket science.  If a spiritual mentor of mine memorizes massive amounts of the Bible and I desire to be like that as well, I am going to ask him how he does it.  What is his routine?  If I want to gain a solid overview of the whole Bible then I will ask someone who has a really good understanding of the Bible what they do and how they learn it.

Jesus says his yoke is easy and his burden is light.  I don’t believe he made it difficult.  So far, the daily Bible reading plan has been a fantastic thing for me.  Even when I may not understand why or what something means, being able to read and have that connection with God through the biblical text helps me to start my day right.  (Here is a link to download the Bible Reading Plan)

And I can sure tell the days I start it wrong.  Follow the paths of those who have gone before.