Ever since the age of 12 I have been nudged to seek after God. Verses like Isaiah 55:6-9 touched my heart:
“Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
I grew up with an awareness of a God whose thoughts were higher than my thoughts, and whose ways were higher than my ways. As I grew and became alive to God through the new birth in Jesus Christ, my desire to know this God increased. I read the Bible, not in a scholarly way, but with the illumination of my new teacher, the Holy Spirit. I read books by Watchman Nee, who had tremendous insight into the ways of God. I attended the Basic and Advanced Seminar taught by Bill Gothard. I saw tremendous insights into the ways of God from His teachings.
However, as I struggled in my early walk, I realized that simply knowing the ways of God does not mean you are a Spiritual Christian. I had a tremendous head knowledge, but there was a huge void in my heart. After marriage, I continued to struggle in my Christian walk. I battled with enemies of pride, lust, greed, selfishness. I made many wrong choices. At one point in my life I remember thinking that I was a castaway like Paul mentioned in 1 Cor 9:27, that God had put me on the shelf and would no longer use me.
In my struggles with my walk with God, I would constantly turn to the Psalms. Here was a man (David) that I could relate to. His honesty with God encouraged me. I remember reading Psalms 25 and having my heart suddenly do somersaults.
Psalms 25:1-12 (KJV) 1 Unto thee, O LORD, do I lift up my soul. 2 O my God, I trust in thee: let me not be ashamed, let not mine enemies triumph over me. 3 Yea, let none that wait on thee be ashamed: let them be ashamed which transgress without cause. 4 Shew me thy ways, O LORD; teach me thy paths. 5 Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day. 6 Remember, O LORD, thy tender mercies and thy lovingkindnesses; for they have been ever of old. 7 Remember not the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions: according to thy mercy remember thou me for thy goodness’ sake, O LORD. 8 Good and upright is the LORD: therefore will he teach sinners in the way. 9 The meek will he guide in judgment: and the meek will he teach his way. 10 All the paths of the LORD are mercy and truth unto such as keep his covenant and his testimonies. 11 For thy name’s sake, O LORD, pardon mine iniquity; for it is great. 12 What man is he that feareth the LORD? him shall he teach in the way that he shall choose.
I could go on for hours of how much this Psalm meant to me. Briefly, however, it meant that David struggled with his flesh and sins and enemies too. He got down, but out of the depths of despair, he held up his soul to Almighty God. He affirmed His trust in Him, and asked God to remove any shame from his life. Then he said something that I have meditated on for over twenty five years, and I still do not know the full depth of these verses, but such as I know I will try to explain.
He said “shew me your ways” or as some translations say, “make me to know your ways”. Then He said “teach me your paths.”
I had always thought David had got it backwards. I had wanted to learn the ways of God, but David said show me your ways. The Hebrew word for show means not just a head knowledge, but a knowledge gained by intimate, personal experience. David desired a personal, intimate knowledge of the way that God worked in his life. Way in the Hebrew means course, in a broad sense. It required a personal intimate relationship to know the course, the way God worked.
Then David prayed “teach me your paths”. Teach implies close attention to what is being taught. Path is the word for a literal, step by step path. David was telling God that if He would show David how God was working in every thing that was happening in his life, the rejection, the pursuit by enemies, the isolation of being on the run, then David would pay close attention to learn and see step by step the path that God was wanting Him to take.
God gave me a picture of a guy who was experiencing the hand of God in a very intimate way, and sometimes that hand left bruises, sometimes it was a gentle nudge, sometimes it was a slap on the rear, but David knew intimately what God was doing, and because he had this intimate knowledge of God’s way, he was learning which path to follow, which step to take, and it was a daily even hourly lesson.
All of a sudden I could look back at what God had done in my life, and realize that His ways were in everything that had happened. I thanked Him for His ways, I asked Him to show me what He was doing, I asked for forgiveness for my sins and failure to pay attention to what He was trying to do.
I asked Him to teach me His path, to teach me which way I was to go.
I am convinced with every fiber of my being, that if you desire first of all to know intimately the ways of God, He will show you. He will even take you through things that are painful and difficult to understand. But if you pay attention, you will know His way, and once you commit to knowing His way, then you can start learning the path He has for your life. It will be as if a giant searchlight has been turned on. You will see the steps pf God before you.
I believe that if you follow the path that God has for your life, it will be a path of Blessing. It may not be riches as the world counts blessings, but Blessing is experiencing the Presence of God. That is the True Pathway of Blessing.
It seems very rare when every aspect of our life seems blessed. Seems like there is always a struggle either in our job, our finances, our friendships, our family, our possessions. David found the Pathway of Blessing in every aspect of His Life. I believe, and based upon the life lessons God has made me to experience, that we can find the Pathway of Blessing in every situation we face. If you have never committed to knowing the ways of God, let me encourage you to do this. I must advise you that the ways of God cannot be understood until you experience them. But I will give you encouragement, if you look at the events of your life with this mindset, to know the ways of God, you will discover a Pathway of Blessing that you may never have seen before. It will be like these video games with secret passageways. When you commit to knowing the ways of God, you will have the key to seeing God’s pathway that He has only for you!
The Pathway of Blessing
2 John 1:8 (NKJV) Look to yourselves, that we do not lose those things we worked for, but that we may receive a full reward.
John was a very elderly man looking back on life when he wrote this. He was writing with the benefit of a life lived walking in the truth of Jesus teachings. He had what John Bevere calls a “Grandfather Anointing”. It is when the young children listen to Grandfather because he is wise.
This last holiday God convicted me over not doing more to bring Jesus Christ into our family gatherings. We had tons of great family times with the kids and grandchildren, but other than a few prayers, I did little to bring the reality of Jesus into our gatherings. So I am going to institute the Pathway of Blessing Moment with Grandfather. I am committing to sharing with my children and grandchildren a lesson from my life and God’s Word in which God revealed His path for my life. Hopefully I can write these down and give them to my family so that when I am gone they will have an encouragement to learn the pathway that God has for their life.
From John’s “Grandfather Anointing” we learn a couple of very important things that will frame our study of the Pathway of Blessing.
- John is speaking with a sense of urgency when he says “Watch out”
- Don’t take this matter lightly, but look after this diligently.
- Don’t lose your FULL REWARD!
Some of you who grow plants can understand this vividly. Imagine planting acres of corn or wheat, and then fertilizing, watching the plants grow, seeing what looks to be an abundant harvest, only to have a hail storm or tornado or something else wipe out the crop. All that work down the drain. Or perhaps you area businessman, and have built a great business, but because of a few bad decisions, or maybe right decisions but at the wrong time, you lose your business. All that work down the drain. Many recently have watched their hard earned money go down the drain because of someone elses bad decision. Most of us have experienced the loss of our labor. We know how empty and discouraged it can make us feel.
Scripture repeatedly tells us to FINISH WELL:
Matthew 10:22, 24:13-Those who endure to the end will be saved,
James 5:11 Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord–that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful.
Hebrews 3:14 For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end,
Revelation 2:26 And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations—
Revelation 3:5 He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.
Christian Life is not a Sprint. It is an Endurance Run.
In the Bible we see people making Life-Defining decisions:
In I Kings 12, we find a new King, Rehoboam, son of Solomon faced with a dilemma. Do I lower taxes as the people are requesting, or do I do something else to establish my throne. He listened to the advice of his father’s advisors, and they said to speak good words to the people and they would follow him forever. Then he listened to the words of his young friends whom he had hung around all his life-“His Posse”. They gave him different advice. So when the people came back after three days, Rehoboam told them: “My father laid heavy burdens on you, but I’m going to make them even heavier! My father beat you with whips, but I will beat you with scorpions!”
This resulted in the destruction of the Kingdom his father had built, and 10 of the 12 tribes of Israel were permanently fragmented. One bad choice cost him dearly for the rest of his life.
Now this Life-Defining moment was not made then, it was made years earlier when young Rehoboam decided his friends and what they thought were more important that God or his dad. Rehoboam was one of these kids who rebelled against his dad and scorned what he said. When his life-defining moment came, he lacked the judgment to make the right decision.
Consider the Children of Israel
The children of Israel were given every opportunity to develop a trust in the power of God to protect them and provide for them. They saw Him part the Red Sea, destroy the Egyptians, provide food and water, daily guidance. Yet they never developed that trust in an awesome God. Their lack of trust did not cause too many problems until there was one Life Defining Moment. God had them send in 12 men to spy out the land He was going to give them. Ten of the men came back and reported how impossible the situation looked. Two men said God could overcome any situation. The people whined and complained because they had never developed the discipline of trusting in the power of God. The result of their life-defining moment was wandering, death, and never entering into the rest of God’s Promised Land.
Consider What God Wants
I went to a Bible College that believed if you obeyed the rules, you were a great Christian. But something in me said that was wrong. God showed me by sparing my life from a head-on collision with a tractor trailer rig, that it was more important to know His heart. To simply obey the rules did not bring joy to my heart. But when I obeyed because I knew His heart and what He was trying to teach me, it brought Joy. It brought meaning.
- The young Rehoboam never caught the heart of his father Solomon, and so 10 tribes of Israel were lost.
- The Children in the wilderness never caught the heart of Moses and so an entire generation of Israelites were lost.
If we as fathers and mothers do not learn to communicate this truth of the Pathway of God’s Blessing, we will lose an entire generation of children. We need to lead our children and grandchildren into catching the heart of God, and learning His path for our lives. As Solomon pleaded with his son Rehoboam, God also pleads with us:
Proverbs 23:26 (AMP) My son, give me your heart and let your eyes observe and delight in my ways,
Early in my life I made a decision that the God of the Bible was my God and guide for my life. Whatever I struggled with I would seek to know the Power of God’s Word in order to walk in the right path.
What Disciplines are Guiding Your Life? How are you dealing with the struggles within your soul?
Watch out, so you may receive a full reward!
- God is a Rewarder of those who Diligently Seek Him (Heb 11:6)
- In Keeping the Word of God there is Great Reward (Psalm 19:9-11)
- I will cry to God Most High, Who performs on my behalf and rewards me (Ps 57:2 AMP)
God loves to reward His children. He loves it when we seek Him and give Him our hearts. Now if it is possible to have a full reward, then it is also possible to have no reward or a less than full reward. Nexty week I intend to look at Rewards and how following the pathway of Blessing determines our rewards.
The Pathway of Blessing: The Value of Honor
If we are going to see the Pathway of Blessing that God has for our live, we must learn the importance of Honor.
The Ugly Package Reveals God’s Way
In John 9 we find a man who was blind from birth. The disciples ask Jesus whether this man sinned or his parents sinned to cause his blindness. Jesus said neither, but this happened so that the works of God should be revealed in him. This happened so that he might see the pathway of Blessing that God wants him to walk in. Jesus then took some dirt and spit in it. He worked the dirt and made a clay that he was able to place over the man’s eyes. Then He said, go and wash in the pool of Siloam. Now why did Jesus do heal the man this way. Remember, we prayed to be shown the ways of God. God’s way is to use ugly things to bring Him glory. Sometimes he gives us ugly packages and tells us to carry them around. In fact God wants us to rejoice in our ugly package. When we start walking then God gives us light and this ugly package reveals the path He wants us to walk in.
When the blind man honored Jesus and accepted the dirty clay, and then went and washed his eyes, they were opened and he could see the path God wanted him to take. The Blind man HONORED Jesus Christ, even before He knew him to be the Messiah. This man was holding an ugly package, blindness. He was scoffed at, spit upon, ridiculed. His parents avoided him, because blindness was considered a curse. Along comes a man of compassion. The blind man honors him by allowing him to put mud on his eyes, and then HONORS his command. As a reward, his eyes are opened and he can see. Later, Jesus reveals himself to be the Son of God. He asks the man do you believe? He says Lord I Believe!
Jesus is before each one of us this morning. He wants us to see the ugly package that we are holding. Some of us are holding more than one ugly package. Jesus says, are you willing to let me touch your ugly package and let me show you what I can do? Are you willing to believe that I am the Son of God? Are you willing to see how much Blessing can come from this ugly package? ARE YOU WILLING TO HONOR ME!
You may be struggling with your faith this morning. You may be struggling financially, You may be struggling in your marriage, in a friendship. You know what ugly package you have. It may be obvious to the world, or you may have succeeded in hiding it. But Jesus knows the distress of your soul.
He wants you to Honor Him this morning. He want you to believe that he can use the ugliness in your life to show you His Pathway of Blessing. He wants to Reward your love for Him, your obedience to Him, Hour Honoring of Him.
One more illustration to underscore the truth that Honor is the foundation of learning the Pathway of Blessing that God has for your life. If you fail to Honor Jesus Christ, you will never see the Pathway of Blessing. You will never realize your FULL REWARD!
Mark 6: Neighbors Refuse to Honor Jesus
In Mark 6, we see Jesus entering into his own country, the country of his upbringing, Nazareth. The people were astonished at His claims to be the Messiah, to be the fulfillment of Prophecy. They said, “isn’t this the carpenter, the Son of Mary” Why just last week he was fixing my chair. Someone else said, mu Johnny went to school with Jesus. He used to play in our back yard. Mark 6:3 said they were offended at Him.
And then we read in verse 5: “Now He could do no mighty work there, except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them.”
Here was the Son of God, the creator of the World, and the people of Nazareth kept Him from doing any major miracles. They were restraining the Power of the Son of God! How did this happen? What were these people doing to restrain the Son of God? Jesus reveals what was restraining Him in verse 4: A prophet is not without honor except in his own country, among his own relatives and in his own house.” The thing which prevented the Blessing of Jesus was their failure to Honor Him as the miracle working Son of God!
To Show Honor is to Give Value. To Honor someone we consider them valuable, precious, just like gold or a precious jewel. Other words to describe honor are appreciation, esteem, respect. To Show Dishonor is to show no respect, to give no value. To treat it as common, ordinary or menial. We Show Honor in our actions, our words and even our thoughts. All true Honor originates in our heart.
The Pharisees had more head knowledge of God’s Word than any other people, yet they failed to see Jesus as the Messiah. He did not “fit” their image of what the Messiah would look like. They were looking with their physical senses. In Luke 17:20-21 they even asked Jesus when the Kingdom of God would come. Listen to His reply:
Now when He was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He answered them and said, “The kingdom of God does not come with observation; nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you.”
Jesus told them the key to seeing the Kingdom of God was seeing with their heart, for indeed, it is inside us. That is why they never saw Jesus as the Messiah, for their hearts were far from God, tin fact they did not honor God in their hearts.
On the other hand, Simeon honored God in his heart, and was able to recognize the baby Jesus as the Messiah. In Luke 2:25-32 we read:
“And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon, and this man was just and devout, waiting for the Consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. So he came by the Spirit into the temple. And when the parents brought in the Child Jesus, to do for Him according to the custom of the law, he took Him up in his arms and blessed God and said: Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace, According to Your word; For my eyes have seen Your salvation Which You have prepared before the face of all peoples, A light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, And the glory of Your people Israel.”
Simeon saw with his heart that Jesus was the Messiah. He honored God’s instruction to him, that he would see the Messiah, and he waited till God’s chosen one was revealed to him.
Do You Want to walk in the Pathway of Blessing in 2009. Do you want God to take all the ugliness in your life and turn it into a Pathway of Blessing and Life?
Do You want Jesus to do great and Mighty things in your life?
You must do Three Things:
- Commit your life to paying attention to God and letting Him Show you first hand His Ways, even when they are ugly and unpleasant.
- Honor Jesus Christ with all your heart, your mind and your body.
- Look for God to Teach You His Path for your life, day by day, moment by moment
Demonstrate that Honor with times of Delighting in His Word and with times of Delighting in Conversation with Him.
- Do You Desire God’s Blessing in Your Life this Year?
- Do You want to see the path that God wants you to take?
- Do you want to know first hand the mighty miracle power of Jesus Christ?
You Need to take the step of Honoring Him with all your life. You need to take every ugly thing in your life and give it to Him and say thank you Jesus. I know you can take the ugliness in my life and make it beautiful. I know you can make my path straight, you can give me renewed strength and love for you.
Will You Honor Jesus Christ, the Son of God? Will You Allow Him to Work Mighty Miracles in Your Life.
Will You Commit to Honoring Him in Your Family with Your Grandchildren?