To Walk the Ancient Paths: An Advent Devotional – Day Three

From the promise of a Messiah to come as penned in the final book of the Old Testament, to the opening words recording Jesus’ lineage in the New Testament, we step into a world that has mostly forgotten God. It is estimated that by the time of Christ’s birth, of the 300 million people in the world, there was little evidence of more than limited thousands being faithful followers of the Creator God. Four hundred years of silence between the Old and New Testaments allowed for four hundred years of forgetfulness and neglect to take root and flourish. Plenty of time to become enmeshed in the affairs of this life rather than cling to the truths revealed in centuries past. Ample opportunity to forfeit hope to the ever-present futility of trying to make one’s own way, responding more to the external religiosity of the day rather than to the inward reality of a life transformed by God’s love and faithfulness.

Hmm . . . sound familiar?

When God seems slow to speak, rather than patiently wait, we all too quickly fill the silence. After all, it seems awkward to allow the lack of communication to continue. So instead of waiting for the right words to come from the One who is all wise, we senselessly babble our way through life, filling the quiet with counterfeits of “Well, what I think God means is. . .” or “I would imagine God would want you to be happy, no matter . . . ” or any number of self-declared God-speak. In short, we insert our own desires into the silence — something, anything to take the edge off the difficult navigation of living holy through the stillness.

Please tell me I’m not the only one who can get so wrapped up in asking God to speak to me that I fail to listen to what He has already said. I’m sure I have at least a few partakers in this with me.

Distracted in seeking a new word, we forfeit the ancient truths already spoken. Wanting something more in touch with the times of current culture, we neglect the age-worn paths which have proven effective in times past. Perhaps the crux of the matter is we don’t so much want God’s truth as much as we want His stamp of approval on our life decisions, even when they run contrary to His commands. Political correctness is not just a system now prolific in our nation, it has overtaken the culture of God’s people. One wandering life at a time. Instead of following hard after truth, we pacify our sinful natures with placebos the world hands out like Halloween candy to children masquerading as something they are not.

Hebrews 2:1-3 is a wake-up call warning us of the importance of our precarious position:
So we must listen carefully to the truth we have heard, or we may drift away from it. For the message God delivered through angels has always stood firm, and every violation of the law and every act of disobedience was punished. So what makes us think we can escape if we ignore this great salvation that was first announced by the Lord Jesus himself and then delivered to us by those who heard Him Speak?

As God’s beloved children, we must listen carefully to the truth we have heard, or we may drift away from it. The tides of immorality are swirling, and much like they were in the days between Malachi and Matthew, God’s people are succumbing to the undertow. Because God seems silent to our ears today,  we refuse to remember the words He has already spoken. The Church does not need a new rendition of the Bible; it needs to stand solidly on the Word that is already in place. We need to remember Jesus Christ and Him crucified.

This is the direction of God’s will for us — to remember Him. And to live in ways that adhere to His word and emulate His nature. If you find yourself feeling restless today, wondering what you should do, how you should respond to a particular temptation, or what you are to believe about a “truth” that somehow doesn’t ring quite true, I encourage you to go back to what has already been spoken.

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

The Bible is filled with ageless wisdom still relevant for overcoming today’s problems, but seeking it out will require both your effort and your compliance. It may lead you to a crossroads where you have to take a good, hard look at your life and answer a few honest questions about yourself. It may mean giving up some selfish desires you’ve been pursuing or turning from a sinful habit in your life. My prayer is that you will meet God in these moments of truth. That this crossroads will find you setting your feet firmly upon the ancient paths and walking toward righteousness, enabled by the One who keeps His covenant to a thousand generations of those who love Him and keep His commands.

Where is it you really wish to travel?

crossroads1-1FOR REFLECTION
The directive from Jeremiah 6:16 was spoken to Israel, yet they chose to ignore it. They stubbornly clung to their own way of living and reaped the consequences of a nation separated from God. The same choice is before you and me today. We have the option of accepting its encouragement or not. While the choice is left to the individual, the consequences will be much more far-reaching. How you respond to truth today will play out in the lives of the people surrounding you, for generations to come. If you choose to look for God’s truth with an open mind, you will see Him faithfully pull you from error and teach you the way of life. But you have to be willing to listen and to walk in the way He directs. Are you really willing to do that?  What is your response to the crossroads before you today? What steps can you take toward strengthening your footing upon the ancient paths of truth?

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