Straight Paths

The choice to follow Jesus is the most important decision that we could ever make. It’s a choice to be free, to walk in light and not darkness, and to live and not die. When we receive the sacrifice of the blood of Jesus, our sins are forgiven, and we are born again by the power of the Holy Spirit. It’s a divine exchange—our lives for His—and it could not be more unfair. Our sin and imperfection is redeemed by the only One who has ever been perfect. That’s the beauty of the Gospel!

When we think about choosing to follow Jesus, most of us will remember a prayer that we prayed at an altar. While that is salvation, walking with God is not a choice we make one time in a church. It’s a decision that has to be made over and over again, day in and day out, as long as we live.

The Bible tells us the path of salvation is narrow. This means that every day, whether we’re alone or surrounded by people, we have walk out our salvation. The writer of Hebrews talks in chapter 12 about the importance of receiving the discipline of God and then it says in Hebrews 12:13,

“Therefore, lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed.”

It’s our responsibility to make straight paths for our feet, by filling ourselves with His word and keeping ourselves in alignment with it. His word is a lamp unto our feet and a light to our path (Ps. 119:105)! Salvation is not a one-time thing, and while God will never go back on His Word, it is possible for us to walk away from it. In Paul’s two letters to Timothy, he talks about this a great deal, encouraging him to avoid that which would draw him away from God and to seek after the truth. Let’s look at a couple of Scriptures:

“But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.” (1 Tim. 6:11-12)

“Guard the deposit entrusted to you. Avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called “knowledge,” for by professing it some have swerved from the faith.” (1 Tim. 6:20-21)

“Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you.” (2 Tim. 1:13-14)

Paul told Timothy not once, but twice to guard the good deposit—the truth and power of God—that had been sown into him. Look at those scriptures again. He said to guard, take ahold of, follow and pursue. None of those things are passive. We cannot just float through life expecting to arrive to the place God has for us by accident. In the Old Testament, the Israelites not only had to choose to believe God’s word and enter the promised land, but they also had to fight for it. That doesn’t mean that the life God has for us is hard, but it does require our decision and the tenacity to fight the good fight of faith.

Paul also encouraged Timothy to be watchful of the things that would cause him to “wander” from the faith (2 Tim. 1:6 and 4:4) and to avoid “swerving” from the truth (2 Tim 2:18 and 2 Tim 6:21). Just as no one arrives at their promised land on accident, very few wake up one day and decide to walk away from God. Usually, they grow distant and depart from the faith without even realizing it! However, the Bible tells us how to keep this from happening. Psalm 119:9-11 says,

“How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word. With my whole heart I seek you. Let me not wander from your commandments! I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.”

His Word and His Spirit will guard us and keep us in the truth! 1 Sam. 12:20-22 says,

“Yet do not turn aside from following the LORD but serve the LORD with all your heart. And do not turn aside after empty things that cannot profit or deliver, for they are empty. For the LORD will not forsake his people, for his great name's sake, because it has pleased the LORD to make you a people for himself.”

God promises to protect us, keep us, provide for us, love us, and heal us as we walk with Him. It is the Father’s good pleasure to give us the kingdom. All that’s required of us is that we continue every day to follow after Him. The path is narrow, but it is illuminated by His Word. Just as He came to walk with Adam and Eve in the cool of the day, He longs to walk with His people today. He paid the highest price so that we could come close! If you feel out of joint, or like your feet may have wandered, don’t despair! His Word gives us the answer and all you have to do is come home. The way may be narrow, but it’s easy to find.

Finally, this week, I want to encourage you to remember that while we aren’t called to struggle, we do have to fight. This isn’t a fight that will leave us exhausted, but it is a fight of faith and it takes tenacity. 2 Timothy 2:1-4 says,

“You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also. Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him.”

We are called to actively pursue righteousness, seek His Kingdom, guard what He’s given us, and take hold of the promises. We have a part to play, but the great news is we don’t have to do it in our own strength! He’s given us His Word, His Spirit, His power, and His love and the best part is that our fight is one with a promised end—our victory! All that’s required is that we continue following the Shepherd of our soul and that’s a choice we get to make every single day!

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