Monday, June 30, 2014

Seeking Him at the Crossroads

This past weekend, a verse was pointed out to me during church that I feel like I've never truly seen before. It literally JUMPED out at me and I haven't been able to get it out of my mind; I just keep mulling it over and over in my head....

Ezra 8:21 Then I proclaimed a fast there, at the river of Ahava, that we might afflict  (humble) ourselves before our God, to seek of him a right way for us, and for our little ones, and for all our substance. 22 For I was ashamed to require of the king a band of soldiers and horsemen to help us against the enemy in the way: because we had spoken unto the king, saying, The hand of our God is upon all them for good that seek him; but his power and his wrath is against all them that forsake him. 23 So we fasted and besought our God for this: and he was intreated of (listened to) us.

When big decisions arise in our life, where do we turn? Do we google? Ask our friends? Panic alone? Pray and seek God? I'm guilty of often trying to reason my way through a situation, making the best decisions I possibly can. I pray some, I seek good counsel, and then I think....and think....and think some more. :) Add that to my natural lack of patience, and you have a very intense week or so of thinking, hard. lol Ezra 8 really caused me to stop and listen to what God was trying to teach me through this verse: when the Israelites hit a tough decision they 1. stopped and 2. sought God. 

A second thing that I found extremely important in this verse was the phrase, "and for our little ones." Though Tim and I do not have children yet, it is so important that we make good (God-directed) decisions now, because it will affect our future little ones. It's easy as a couple with no children to make decisions that seem to just affect us, but I think the Holy Spirit included this phrase in this chapter to remind us that our decisions and choices affect all areas of our lives. Our decisions matter!

This study led me to Jeremiah 6:16, which says, "Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein."

Like Ezra 8:21-23, this verse reminds us to stop and ask God what path He would have for us, and stop rushing into what we think is best. "Ask for the old paths" to me seems to suggest "seek Godly counsel." Another important step in the decision making process that we often overlook. 

My online study continued on to Acts 13 where we see the early church leaders seeking Christ's leading through fasting and prayer:

Acts 13:1 Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called themAnd when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away. So they, being sent forth by the Holy Ghost, departed unto Seleucia; and from thence they sailed to Cyprus.

The leaders gathered together as fellow believers. They sought God together. They came to a decision together. If you and your spouse or you and a group are seeking a "crossroads" decision, I think the Bible is pretty clear that it should be a group decision and that means everyone is involved in the prayer, fasting, and resolution/decision. Until there is peace throughout the group about the decision, I think the Biblical examples are to just wait (as hard as that can be!) and continue seeking God.

Nothing overly profound in any of these verses, but I wish I could explain to you how they jumped out at me! :) As Tim and I encounter big decisions in our life, it is so important that we remember that first and foremost, we HAVE to seek Christ, and like the Israelites and early church leaders, we must stay put until we have clear direction from God. 

The other thing that I love about each of these passages is the resolution. In each example, we see how the groups were directed by God through their fasting and prayer to choice the "correct path." If their lives were anything like ours, it probably wasn't as quickly as they wanted, but the point is, God "came through" when the diligently sought Him. Prayer can be difficult, and fasting can be physically unpleasant, but the end result of God's clear direction on what path to take, is more than worth it!

What decision are you  facing right now? Are you tempted to just make your best choice, or are you sensing God's instruction to "Be still (cease striving) and know that He is God" and He has everything in control. Seek Christ and then....wait. He won't fail you.

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