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Right Paths

May 13, 2020 Dear Friends, Thank you for being willing to share with us in prayer for our prodigals and for revival. Billy Sunday asked and answered the question of revival, “When may a revival be expected? When the wickedness of the wicked grieves and distresses the Christian.” I would go a step further and add, “When the wickedness of my heart grieves and distresses me more than the pleasure of doing it.” As you read Psalm 23 there is flow and progression. He begins by talking about his personal relationship with the Shepherd. He speaks of the Shepherd’s care for the sheep in keeping them calm and still in His presence. Now in verse three, he emphasizes the need for soul restoration and behavior that honors the name of God. “He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake” (Ps. 23:3). God speaks about His servant David and calls him, “A man after my heart, who will do all my will” (Acts 13:22). Some have misunderstood this phrase and placed David on a high pedestal of perfection. As you read his story, you quickly learn that this was not true. David was far from perfect, but his heart was tender and he sought after God in earnestness and reality. In Psalm 23, he acknowledged that like any literal sheep, he strayed, wandered, and found himself at a distance from the shepherd. He needed the tender restoring work of the Shepherd in His soul. I can relate! You will remember that at one point in David’s life, he strayed far from his Shepherd. He lusted, pursued, lied, and murdered an innocent man. Forever linked with his name is his adulterous affair with Bathsheba. The results of those thoughtless, selfish, sinful actions affected David for the rest of his life. This reminds us that sin has consequences. Despite his sin, David was restored to his God and walked in right paths again. Listen to his words, “Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin! Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit” (Ps. 51:2,12). We have all had the experience of wandering from the Shepherd. The journey of some is longer and farther than that of others, but restoration always requires repentance. Repentance, confession, and seeking God’s face will enable us to enjoy the fulness of His presence again. He promises to forgive and restore us when we come to him in humble, contrite prayer. Do it today if you are experiencing distance between you and your Shepherd because of sin. And when you confess your sin, accept His forgiveness by faith and live in the good of that forgiveness. It is the soul who knows the wonder of being refreshed, renewed, and restored by the grace of God, who will be able to walk the paths of righteousness. In his book, A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23, Phillip Keller said, “Sheep are notorious creatures of habit. If left to themselves they will follow the same trails until they become ruts; graze the same hill until they turn to desert wastes; pollute their own ground until it is corrupt with disease and parasites. Many of the world’s finest sheep ranges have been ruined beyond repair by over-grazing, poor management and indifferent or ignorant sheep owners.” Good shepherds don’t leave their sheep in one spot. They purposefully lead their flocks from one pasturing ground to another, on paths that are safe for the sheep. David said, “He leads me in paths of righteousness for His name' sake.” When you said, “Yes” to Christ at salvation’s day, you started on a new path. Jesus said, “I am the way…no one comes to the Father except through me” (Jn. 14:6). He is not just the entrance to new life, but He Himself is the way. While it is impossible to positionally leave this road that leads to the Father (we are eternally secure), we do stray from His leadership and follow sinful, selfish directions that are unhealthy and disastrous. Solomon said, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death” (Prov. 14:12). As believer-sheep, we can follow these destructive ways that cause distance between us and God. Closeness with Him is only found in walking the path He has for us. The path to life and righteousness is found alone in following Christ. This path may not necessarily be an easy path, as the psalm goes on to indicate, but it is the right path. And if it is the Shepherd leading, then the sheep can be sure that a lush pasture awaits. The right path for each of us is a close relationship with Christ and He desires to lead us in ways that honor the name of our God. When you choose to trust Christ in suffering, that honors God. When you reach out to a neighbor in need, that honors God. When you love your spouse selflessly, that honors God. When you build others up rather than tearing them down, that honors God. As you can see, the list is endless. Our continual sanctification is what scholars call, progressive sanctification. Ultimately, as we follow our Lord, the paths He leads us on will help us become more like our Savior. Love in Christ, Bryan and Rachel


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