Sunday, August 07, 2005

Whew... long time gone... Well, so much for all the wonderful plans I had for keeping you all updated... This has been a very full summer for me. I've been working full time at the clinic (I think I've learned more this summer than all the others combined), and the rest of my time has been spent caring for my veeery pregnant wife (any day now... :^) ), taking long walks in the cool of the evening, researching business ideas (lots of new ones and new twists on old ones :^) ), visiting with family and friends, and just generally enjoying life. It's Sunday today, Heather is still sleeping, and I'm preparing for the meeting that will happen in a few hours. I love mornings like these, where I can spend extended time studying the Word and just enjoying close fellowship with God- it makes such a difference to my outlook on life. Ever since the middle of this past week I've had the hymn "He leadeth me" running through my head, I couldn't remember the words to any of the verses, but the words of the chorus kept on playing over and over. "He leadeth me, He leadeth me, by His own hand he leadeth me: His faithful follower I would be, for by His hand He leadeth me". What a profound thought; here I am, a man of questionable significance, a seeming mere speck in the universe... and the God of all creation cares enough about me to lead and guide my steps. If that doesn't excite you I would recommend having someone check your pulse immediatly. I kept on ruminating on these words and finally looked up the rest of the song's lyrics:

He leadeth me, O blessed thought! O words with heav'nly comfort fraught! Whate'er I do, where'er I be, Still 'tis God's hand that leadeth me... Sometimes mid scenes of deepest gloom, Sometimes where Eden's bowers bloom, by waters still, over troubled sea, Still tis His hand that leadeth me... Lord I would place my hand in Thine, Nor ever murmer nor repine, Content whatever lot I see, Since tis my God that leadeth me... and when my task on earth is done, When by thy grace the victry's won, E'en death's cold wave I will not flee, Since God through Jordan leadeth me.

I began reading in Psalm 23...

Psalm 23:3: He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
When I looked closer at this verse, I made a few observations:

"He restoreth" is from a Hebrew word that means to return back, or retreat for the purpose of gaining strength and purpose. Sometimes God will place us in situations that force us to refocus on Him (the children of Israel didn't forget God in the bad times).

"In the paths" means a track; a rampart (as circular), trench. Here's a definition of a rampart that I found:

"The mass of earth and masonry formed to protect an enclosed area from artillery and small arms fire and to elevate defenders to a commanding position overlooking the approaches to the fort so created. A bulwark or defense upon which parapets are raised. The main wall of a fortress."
In other words, when we are willing to live lives of obedience, God will lead us in paths that are free from true danger.
Mat 10:28: And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
God doesn't necessarily promise paths that are free of physical discomfort...
Psalm 34:19: Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the LORD delivereth him out of them all.
but when we allow Him to lead us in these paths, we are privileged to lead lives that are lived in the power of the living God!
Col 1:29: Whereunto I also labor, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily.
"For his name's sake" : for his glorious purpose. (Our conformation to the image of His Son).
Romans 8:29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.

It struck me that leading has two contexts in the Bible; the push and the pull.

A push in the right direction.

Psalm 23:2: He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
Nahal (naw-hal' )"to run with a sparkle, that is flow: to conduct, protect, sustain, carry, feed, gently lead on."
Isa 40:11 He shall feed his flock like a shepard: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young

A pull through the difficult areas.

Psalm 23:3: He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
Nachah (naw-khaw) to guide, by transport: bestow, govern, straiten.
Psalm 78:14 In the daytime also he led them with a cloud, and all the night with a light of fire

Leading involves education, God doesn't throw a rope around our necks and drag us toward righteousness, He uses our experiences and the influence of the Holy Spirit. Notice Hebrews 12:5
And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him

And Heb 12:6
For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.
Chastening is not just discipline- it is true education. The word Paideuo (translated Chastise) is used many other places as "learn, teach, educate, etc". The fact that God cares enough to teach us through our experiences is evidence of His love for us.
Revelation 3:19: As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.
Verse six elaborates on this concept, chastening is accompianied by scourging...
Both gentle training and consistant discipline are involved- as with children, the two cannot be divorced without disastrous consequences. God cares enough to guide us in the paths of righteousness, maturing and strengthening us if we allow Him.

David in old testament times understood this. Though he did make some terrible mistakes and received some bitter punishment, he received and accepted the admonition of the Lord and grew. David's attitude, not his accomplishments were what gave him favor in God's eyes. Consider:

Psalm 25:5: Lead me in thy truth and teach me: for though art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day.

Psalm 143:10 : Teach me to do thy will; for thou art my God: thy spirit is good; lead me into the land of uprightness.
It's all back to trust again... God has promised to work all things together for good.
Romans 8:28: And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to this purpose.
...And obedience.

Be encouraged my friends, God has not left us to our own devices- let Him guide and direct your life, He is so very able.

Till next time,

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