Old Paths for a New Year

Sam Petitfils

"Thus says the Lord: “Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it,and find rest for your souls.  But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.’ Jeremiah 6:16

In the Book of Jeremiah, God calls Israel back to trust in Him, and an obedient walk.  Here He summons them back to His law, given by Moses, which laid the foundation for a godly nation that would serve God.  Instead, the Israelites opted for full-fledged idolatry that plunged the nation into ruin.

People today often try to kick-start their life by trying something new or exciting.  They begin to think that they only need a new experience or way of living.  Even Christians can fall into this trap.  Actually, we need to go back to basics: a close walk with God.

The “paths” that God envisions for His children include spending time with Him, more than we ever have.  David wrote in Psalm 119, “You have commanded your precepts to be kept diligently” (verse 4), “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you” (verse 11), and I will run in the way of your commandments when you enlarge my heart!” (verse 32).  Each quoted verse above speaks to the writer’s attitude towards God’s Word.  He not only does not shun God’s Word, but eagerly desires to know it better.  We need to have the same attitude.  Our year would go much better if we covenant to do a few things in the coming year:

1) I will spend more time in God’s Word.
Plan a set time to read the Bible each day, and ask God for the grace and discipline to keep pace with your commitment. Challenge yourself to dig deeper, and set apart quality time to study.

2) I will pray each day.
Jesus said we ought always to pray and not to lose heart (Luke 18:1).  He knew that His disciples would experience trying times, but what an opportunity to draw close to God.  The Westminster Confession opens with the purpose of life: to love God and enjoy Him forever.  Yet some Christians never draw close to God in prayer unless they feel their back's against the wall.

3) I will faithfully attend church services regularly.
It’s easy to slip into bad habits, but the early church met and served together every day (Acts 5:42).  We need to get back to that “old path,” the path of faithfully worshipping God with other believers.

4) I will serve God.
We own God our lives, and it seems He asks very little in return (Matthew 11:28-29; 1 John 5:3).  If we truly believe God has blessed us with salvation, we should be quick to serve Him in some capacity.

5) I will give of my time and treasure for God.

We could mention many more things, but the point is that we need to return to the fundamentals, the old path.  Since we need God’s help to live for Him, I close with a hymn that speaks to God guiding His children:

Guide me, O Thou great Jehovah,
Pilgrim through this barren land.
I am weak, but Thou art mighty;
Hold me with Thy powerful hand.
Bread of Heaven, Bread of Heaven,
Feed me till I want no more;
Feed me till I want no more.
Open now the crystal fountain,
Whence the healing stream doth flow;
Let the fire and cloudy pillar
Lead me all my journey through.
Strong Deliverer, strong Deliverer,
Be Thou still my Strength and Shield;
Be Thou still my Strength and Shield.

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