The Old Paths – Lesson 1

It was around 8:30pm on Monday night when my phone rang while I was tidying up the kitchen. I saw that it was my son, Trace, so I dried my hands rather quickly and answered,

“Hey Trace!” 

Pause.

There was this silence on the phone that made me ask again.

“Trace? You there?”

Then I heard …

“Hey mom. Yea, I’m here. How are you?”

It was a good hello…a kind question…but in my spirit I had an immediate check. You know that feeling as a mom when you hear something in the voice of your child that you know something is wrong.

He and I spent the next hour on the phone as I listened to him tell me about how he’d been struggling. He is 22, in college, and had hit quite a wall … mentally, emotionally, and physically. He asked if he could come home because, “I need some help.”

I knew after our conversation that he not only was coming home, but he was in need of something so simple, yet specific to where he is right now in his life. He needed what we are actually just beginning to study here on the MEMBERSHIP of Interior Inspirations.

He needs ‘the old paths.’

He needs ‘the ancient ways.’ No, no serious rebellion, just a place in his life of struggle…feeling like a failure…overcome…overwhelmed…afraid….anxious….and simply needing hope and assurance.

And dear friend, I can tell you … since we got him from college he told Rip and I last night (as we were driving home from having spent the evening with our family), and after I asked him if he has had any anxiety since he’s been home, he calmly said, “No, not at all, and I know it’s because I’m here. I’m with y’all and I’m home.” 

joey photos of family

He’s finding rest for his soul.

Our commitment to Trace while he is here with his family for only for a few weeks is to help him begin walking on the old paths. His mind, emotions, and through personal and physical struggles, his whole self was letting him know that the modernized and hectic highways where you tend to find the masses, the competitive racing down the expressways of advancements, tolerance, compromise, stimulants and entertainment, is not the road that leads to rest. They are not the pathways to peace.

Let me share a little more with you before we keep going into our time of bible study —

Open your Bible or go to your Bible app to Jeremiah 6:16. Go ahead and either underline it or put one of these on the side “{” or bookmark that page. This is a verse that we need to really understand it’s full application in context, then and to our life today.

Now, before we go much further, I’d like for us to take some time to pray. To confess sin. To worship and thank God for who He is and for all He does every day to show His love and faithfulness in our life. Let’s stop right here, shut the computer or close down the phone and pray.

woman outside with bible

So, what are these old paths – these ancient paths – that Jeremiah 6:16 is pointing us to? For us to answer that question we are going to need to do a little walking and gathering of stones along these old paths. But one thing that I can go ahead and tell you is this – they are the paths that lead us all home – the home of God’s heart. They are the paths, like what Trace is experiencing, that Jeremiah 6:16 also says, where we find rest for our souls.

As you read that verse, underline the exhortations. What is an exhortation? It is an address or communication emphatically urging someone to do something. Then circle or underscore the words of promise that we will experience as we “do” what God is emphatically instructing.

What comes to your mind as you circle “rest for your souls”? Write it out.

We all can identify with the word “crossroad” can’t we? Because if we aren’t there now, we’ve been there before. We’ve been at that place in our life when we had to make a decision, and that decision placed us on a path. A crossroad is always symbolic of two things: 1) a point of deciding, and 2) a place of beginning — beginning to walk in a direction of peace or a direction of peril. It all starts with one decision.

What very real crossroad are you standing at today? Write it out.

Now, let’s go back to Jeremiah 1 and read verses 1-10.

If you could sum up those 10 verses to what they’re all about how would you describe them? What are they telling us?

If you said something like “the call of Jeremiah” or “God readying Jeremiah for the mission ahead” or “God addressing Jeremiah’s lack of confidence” then you are exactly right. After King Solomon’s death, the united kingdom of Israel had split into rival northern and southern kingdoms. The northern kingdom was called Israel; the southern kingdom, Judah. Jeremiah was from Anathoth, four miles north of Jerusalem in the southern kingdom. He lives and prophesied during the reigns of the last five kings of Judah. This was a chaotic time politically, morally, and spiritually. As Babylon, Egypt and Assyria battled for world supremacy, Judah found itself caught up in the middle of the triangle. Although Jeremiah prophesied for 40 years, he never saw his people heed his words and turn from their sins.

But before God commissioned him to prophesying, He first wanted Jeremiah to know something so personal and yet, so powerfully “empowering” that it simply had to be said first. There was something Jeremiah HAD to know before moving one iota in the direction of the path God was laying out before him. Jeremiah had to hear God say….

“I knew you…”

God knew him and He needed him to know that before saying another word or before sending him into the assignment of his life.

He knew Jeremiah.

And …

God knew you, too. Long before you were born or even conceived, He knew you. And when you were conceived, from that moment, He knew all the days of your earthly life in their totality. He thought about you and planned for you. He wanted you. Always has…always will. When you feel discouraged or inadequate, remember that God has always thought of you as valuable and that He has a purpose in mind for you.

I told you earlier that along the old paths, were would be gathering up stones. Stones that will mark where we’ve been and where we are going as we journey with God. Well, here is the FIRST STONE we need to gather up. We need to bend down and take it up into our hands and into our heart. It’s a stone that serves as a reminder…as a spiritual marker in our path.

II - I knew you stone

And as God appointed Jeremiah to be a prophet to the nations, He has appointed you and me to a calling, an assignment, in our walk with Him. He has a purpose for each Christian, but there are some Christians who are appointed by God for specific kinds of work. Let’s look at some of those uniquely appointed men and women.

Look up Judges 13:3-5 – Who was appointed here?

Look up 1 Samuel 16:12,13 – Who was appointed here?

Look up Luke 1:13-17 – Who was appointed here?

Look up Galatians 1:15-16 – Who was appointed here?

Look up Luke 1:26-28 – Who was appointed here?

All of those appointed were set apart for specific works for God. Whatever work you and I do should be done for the glory of God. Read Philippians 1:9-11.  If God gives you a specific task, here is how I want to encourage you…accept it cheerfully and do it with diligence. If God has not given you a specific call or assignment, then seek to fulfill the mission common to all believers – to love, obey and serve God – until His guidance does become more clear.

Read Jeremiah 1:6-8 again. What do you notice is going on with Jeremiah? What is he feeling?

At times, we all may struggle with the lack of self-confidence, feelings of inadequacy, lack of ability, lack of training or experience. Jeremiah felt all that because he thought he was “only a child.” Simply too young and inexperienced to be God’s messenger to the world!

But God…

God promised 2 things to him. What is the first promise?

If you wrote, ‘to be WITH him’ then you’re correct. God’s first promise to him and to us every time He calls us to a specific assignment is this – “I am with you.” (v.7) We shouldn’t allow feelings of inadequacy to keep us from obeying God’s call because He promises to always be with us. How can we be inadequate to the task if we are called by the God of sufficiency!!

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

When we do find ourselves avoiding something that we know we should be doing, let’s be careful not to use lack of self-confidence as an excuse. Because if God gives us a job to do, if He calls us to an assignment, a life assignment, He will provide all we need to do it. To carry it out and to see it through. Instead of excuses, let us go to the Word of God! There is where we will find the strength, the confidence, the answers, the hope, the grace, and the love we need to keep going! Let us go to the Word of God … it is Life!

woman-reading-bible

When we read verse Jeremiah 1:8, what is the 2nd promise God made to Jeremiah? 

God assured Jeremiah that He would rescue him from trouble…not keeping trouble from coming. God did not insulate him from jailings, deportation, or insults. And the same with us. God does not keep us from encountering life’s storms, but he will see us through them. In fact, God walks through these storms with us and rescues us. We are included in Jeremiah’s message of judgement and hope, and as believers we are to share God’s desire to reach the whole world for Him. It is His instruction to us all…and if we heed that instruction to, “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” (Matthew 28:19), then we will prosper and be blessed by the Lord.

“Whoever gives heed to instruction propers, and blessed is he who trusts in the LORD,” Proverbs 16:20.

Let’s spend some time this week prayerfully seeking God’s call on our life. Let’s not get in a hurry, and by all means, let’s not get pulled into the comparison game. I do believe that everyone who is a part of this bible study is here for a purpose and a very strong motivational reason. God longs to and loves to be the Source of our motivation in serving Him. And if you are reading this right now, I want you to know that I have stopped while typing this study to pray for you! What you do at this time of your life is so vitally important to the Kingdom. And I’m asking God to help you know, to hear His voice, and to be surrendered to His specific assignment for your life.

Go back to a path again…find time to walk alone. Pray. Talk with God from your heart. Let Him search your heart and your mind. Let Him surface anything in you that needs purging – deep cleaning – and bringing into His order. Read your Bible in stillness and solitude if you can.

And when He touches that place in you that hurts, or is fearful, or overshadowed by guilt or shame….when He touches that area of your thoughts where you battle the most, trust Him to rub that healing balm of His Spirit into the wounds you may be carrying around with you day after day, and allow His healing.

God’s calling on our life comes NOT when we finally “get it all together.” God’s call on our life comes when we are most broken and He sees that face-down humility in us. When we come to a place of being breakable and moldable, then our Master Potter is at His greatest work. He is taking His own hands onto your precious life and mine, and is shaping us into the vessels He has always known us to be, and has set us apart to be … for His name sake. For His glory and our good.

Remember … God knew you. He set you apart at the first ounce of thought He had of you and He is not going to let you go now. Spend time this week resting in His grace. Thanking and worshiping Him. And spend even more time reading His Word…maybe outside, after having enjoyed a good walk down an old path.

Woman+Reading+Bible

Reflect on the verses in this one post, and then pray asking Him, “What is your call on my life?” And friend, trust that He will answer you.

Before next Saturday’s post, read on through Jeremiah 1:11-19.

I love you and I’m so glad we are going to be studying this together!

Lisa

*Commentaries/notes from the NIV Life Application Bible [/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

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Lisa Rippy

I’m Lisa Rippy, a happily married woman to my wonderful Rip. We have 5 children and we live right outside of Madison, MS. For as long as I can remember, I’ve always had a love for all things “homey” from decorating, simplifying, remodeling, organizing and simply turning a house into a "Home Sweet Home." My passion is helping families live the life they long for in the interior of their hearts and homes. It all requires thought, planning and work that Rip and I both love to do! But if there is anything at all I can do to help you and your home life, please reach out to me. Nothing would thrill me more than to inspire YOUR heart and home!

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