Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Two Paths

Right before Easter, Nick Swan came to visit [M28]. His message was called "Two Paths". Nick's message reminded me very much of a prophetic word my mom had during a Youth Conference back in 2007 (wow that was a long time ago!) Please take the time to read what she wrote here: http://humbled4ever.blogspot.com/2008/01/crossroads.html.

Nick began by reading us a fairly well-known poem:

The Road Not Taken
by Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I marked the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

A road...a journey...a path...this poem is talking about how we walk out our lives and the choices we make every day. Just like in the poem, we keep moving forward and we cannot go back to re-live anything. One way leads to another way and you cannot make a decision and then go back and make a different one...you are never at the same crossroads twice. Choose the road less traveled and it will make all the difference.
Matthew 7:13-14  “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.
It all comes down to two pretty simple things: 1. the wide and easy path leads to death and 2. the narrow and difficult path leads to life. There are eternal consequences to what path you take. When we choose Christ, he puts us on the narrow path, when we choose ourselves or our sin, we land on the wide path. As Christians, we have a new way of living and a new path to walk down. Too often though we forget why we got off the wide path and our old ways become more appealing to us. Don't go back to the old way of living...the old might be easy and wide and popular but it leads to death....the new path and new life lead to eternal life. As Christians, we are called to walk the narrow path and be transformed in our lives.
Ephesians 4:17-24(ESV) Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. But that is not the way you learned Christ!—assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds,and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
So a couple of things to help you stay on the narrow path when the old ways look better...
  •  Don't Go Back
    • Don't go back to what you were, how you acted, living your life before you met Jesus
      • You life before Jesus was futility, uselessness, having a pointless mind and a pointless life. You were darkened, alienated, separated, hardened, blind, and ultimately...dead.
      • With each decision we made before we lived for God, our hearts became hardened and overtime we became desensitized and calloused to our sin. Cravings and desires ruled us...we turned to what was hardening us.
      • We gave ourselves up...we didn't fight, we became like drug addicts...craving bigger doses, becoming more addicted, needing more...our souls are like addicts.
    • Do not go back to the path of destruction...
      • We are no longer our old selves.
The only problem is...old habits die hard...
  • Put off and Put On
      • Check out verses 20-24(NIV)...That, however, is not the way of life you learned when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
    • Surely you have heard of him...that's how you got off the old path and onto the new one. Someone told us about him. We are his sheep and we know his voice...we heard Jesus voice when we heard the gospel. His voice took us from death into life. Going back to the old way is not an option because that isn't how we know Christ.
    • When we heard and responded, we died once and for all. We were created new in Christ.
    • We must now live in light of our new identity in him...but how do we do that?
      • v23. be renewed in the spirit of your mind...get rid of the old perspective/way of thinking that you lived with before. You cannot live for Christ if you mind is still thinking in the ways of the world.
    • Ephesians 4:25-6:9 is a great tool to help you stay on the narrow path. Take each verse day by day and challenge yourself. For example...lying is part of the old way of living...so pray about any lying that remains in your life. It's a progression...it's simple but it's not easy. You have to repent, believe and follow.
I think there are three groups of people out there...
  1. Someone who isn't on the narrow path at all.
    1. The question then becomes: Are you actually going to follow Jesus? Are you turning? Does your life look the old way? And ultimately...Do you know Jesus?
  2. Someone who is a recent Christian.
    1. The old died recently...your whole life is in an upheaval...it's hard...so you need to:
      1. Find strong Christians to disciple you.
      2. Make a clean break with your former way of life.
      3. Don't chuck your old friends out...you might be able to share the gospel with them.
  3. Someone who has been doing it for a while...walking the narrow for a while.
    1. Be aware of the subtle creep of your old self into your new life. Where is the subtle creep in your life? Where does the old way look more appealing?
Walking the narrow path can be hard, steep and lonely at times...the wide path seems fun and full of friends...but ultimately, the narrow leads to life and the wide leads to death. Remember when you choose the narrow path...Jesus is always with you. So...which path will you take?

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