Are We on the Right Path? (No. 23)
(Edition 1.0 20001126-20001126)
God has given a direction to His kingdom and it is up to each of us to stay on the right path if we want to get there. Jesus said: "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but by me" (Jn 14:6).
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(Copyright ã 2000 David Prieskorn)
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Are We on the Right Path?
There are several programs that calculate the various celestial activities, such as sunset, and phases of the moon, but especially the exact times of the New Moons. This, along with the naval observatory, gives a variety of means to verify the date and time of the new moons. You will find that they all agree with each other. Additionally, they all agree with the days the Christian Churches of God publishes regarding the new moons.
What this means is that we can know the correct first day of the first month of Godís calendar. It also means we know the correct day of Passover and the correct time to observe the days of Unleavened Bread. Also we can know all the correct days to celebrate Godís holy days, especially the days for the Feast of Tabernacles. There are many questions being raised by some churches relating as to the correct days.
Have you noticed how easy to it is to feel spiritually good about ourselves, knowing we are on the right path heading towards Godís Kingdom.
The Ďright pathí is what we will talk about. But the question that begs to be asked is: "Doesnít everyone who believes in God think they are on the right path?" Is there a path? How do we know if we are on the right path?
Mainstream religions seem to be going in the right direction, while they promote the Bible as being Godís authoritative true word. They stress that scripture cannot be broken and therefore, all words of the Bible must be honored. They say all of Godís commandments must be kept, not just the ones that are easy or favorable. However, they fall severely short of the truth, when they substitute the Sabbath with "The Lordís Day." They vehemently preach that all God loving Christians must keep the fourth commandment by attending church every Sunday. What a travesty!
Some of these religions come very close to having and preaching the Truth. They come so very close to being on the right path.
But does it really matter if they are in error on just that one item? Does God give some latitude to us knowing this is a tough world and we are prone to the ways of the world?
We have heard it said many times: "We all pray to the same God; weíre all going in the same direction; weíre just on different paths."
Does it matter if we are on different paths? What do we know about this path to the kingdom?
Isaiah 2:2-32 And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD'S house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. 3 And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. (KJV)
God has given a direction to His kingdom and itís up to us to stay on the right path if we want to get there. Godís directions to us are not complicated. In fact, they are crystal clear.
John 14:3-63 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. 4 And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know. 5 Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way? 6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. (KJV)
Additionally, Jesus gave us direction on what choices to make in life. He told us the way.
John 14:1515 If ye love me, keep my commandments. (KJV)
There is a conditional word in that statement, the word "if."
John 14:2121 He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him. (KJV)
Note: Jesus qualified how we love him. "If you love me, you will keep my commandments." Also, there is a connection regarding what Jesus said: if we love him, God will love us, and Jesus will love us.
John 14:22-2422 Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world? 23 Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. 24 He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father's which sent me. (KJV)
This all hangs on that word "if." If you love me you will keep my commandments. Conversely, if you do not keep Godís commandments, you donít love him. Therefore, you are outside of Godís love. You are walking on your own path, not Godís path.
Also note, Jesus did not make these words up. These are the words of God, delivered to us by Jesus Christ.
So itís quite clear what we have to do. We must keep Godís words that have been given to us by Jesus Christ. That sounds like an easy and reasonable request, doesnít it? However, we have an adversary, an enemy, a lion who is roaming the earth looking for his spiritual prey. There is nothing more Satan would like to do than to lead us off the path and take us to his way of life. Jesus was extremely clear when he said Ė "those who love me will keep my word."
But thereís good news, brethren. We donít have to walk that path alone. We have a good shepherd that will lead us and keep us from harm. Jesus told us there would be false teachers in this world, but those that follow the shepherd will not be lost or fooled.
John 10:1-51 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. 2 But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. 4 And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice. 5 And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers. (KJV)
Note: There were not individual pens for everyoneís sheep. They were all placed into one area. When one of the owners came for his sheep he would call them and they would recognize his voice and follow him. They would not follow a strangerís voice.
John 10:9-119 I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture. 10 The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. 11 I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. (KJV)
There are many preachers in the world who give very convincing messages, that they have the way to salvation. Some come very close to the truth and give all kinds of reasons to follow them. But Jesus has told us to watch out for them. We know our shepherdís voice, we have heard the truth, and we have been shown the way to the kingdom. We have our good shepherd leading us, but we must be careful to listen for the correct voice. There are many imposters in the world using the voice of Satan to make us think itís the shepherdís voice.
Staying on the path sounds easy, but it is not without its problems. The path intersects with a smooth, wide highway called the ways of the world. Satan is the confuser of the truth and will do all he can to have us leave the narrow and hard path, to join him on his easy highway to condemnation.
Matthew 7:13-1513 Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: 14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. 15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. (KJV)
Note: Jesus said to enter through the gate. In John 10:9 he said, "I am the gate."
So, we know we have a well-defined path to follow. It is narrow and hard to travel on. We also know there is a wide and easy road that leads to destruction. Considering what is at stake, we have to wonder why anyone would want to take the easy path. But thatís where Satan comes into the picture. He is a master at making good look bad, and evil look good. Satanís way is the way of the world filled with glitz and glitter. He makes it look good, but itís not the path to be on.
How about if we stay mainly on the path, but just of walk on the edges, and once in a while take a quick trip on that easy road of the world? What about if we keep most of the commandments most of the time? What about if we keep one foot in Godís church, and sometimes one foot in Judaism, or some other religion? What about strong words that some religions teach that indicate our beliefs are wrong, that the laws have changed, so called Ďnailed to the crossí with the new covenant? Some groups will give many reasons for keeping a 2 day old New Moon.
We have been told that keeping the new moons is paganistic. How does all this affect us? Can we be easily convinced to get off our path? Remember Ė "if you love me, you will keep my commandments"; "if you love me you will keep my words."
Matthew 5:17-1917 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. 18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. 19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. (KJV)
These are strong words that leave no doubt what God means. God, through the teachings of Jesus Christ, tells us to keep all his commands. There is no room for doing it our own way. God has given us the truth and we must abide by it. Our salvation depends on it. But yes, since we have a free will, we can walk on that wide easy road, but the dangers are severe. What happens if we lose our direction and canít find our way back to the path? Once Satan gets between the path and us, he will do all he can to prevent you from returning. Remember, out of sight, out of mind. The longer and farther you get away from Godís teachings, the more danger there is that you will be lost. Jesus said the path was narrow and hard to find. We had to find it the first time and if we get lost, can we find it again? Do we really want to take that chance?
A little straying from the path is not okay. A little stealing is not okay. A little anger towards a brother is not okay. A little use of Godís holy name in vain is not okay. We need to keep all of Godís commands all the time.
Job 8:11-1311 Can the rush grow up without mire? can the flag grow without water? 12 Whilst it is yet in his greenness, and not cut down, it withereth before any other herb. 13 So are the paths of all that forget God; and the hypocrite's hope shall perish: (KJV)
There is definitely a wrong path to be on, one that leads to hopelessness and destruction. This path that we have found ourselves on has some stumbling blocks. Theyíre called trials. We have our problems that get us down, we can get depressed, and we can get discouraged.
There are holes that we can fall into. We can fall into the temptations of sin. But we have a forgiving God who picks us up, dusts us off, and letís us continue on his path. God, in His mercy tells us that we will never receive a trial greater than we can handle. The problem is that we, as mortal beings, donít know how much we can handle and we get depressed. But keep in mind that God promised to take care of us.
Scripture tells us that God will answer our call; He will give us everything we need. But he said, "First, seek the kingdom." We need to keep our priorities correct. God said we could even ask for worldly things and He would give them to us. But first, seek the kingdom.
To help us stay uplifted, God said He would smooth out our paths for us.
Isaiah 26: 7 tells us the way of the righteous is level; O just one, you make smooth the path of the righteous.
God knows there are problems in this world. But if we stay close to him, if we follow his word through the teachings of Jesus Christ, our paths will be smooth. If we have trials, if we fall down, itís only temporary. Our paths will once again be smoothed out.
On this path you can meet a lot of people who are at their crossroads. They may be hearing things in their church that are confusing. They may be struggling with their current church and arenít satisfied with what they hear from there. They may be looking for a spiritual direction in life. They may be looking for the correct path to walk on.
We need to look for opportunities to spread the good news that God has given us. As we heard many times we need to be ready to answer questions relating to Godís true word.
Sometimes we can plant that seed of truth and do nothing more. That person may come back for more information, or start looking by themselves. Give them the address to the web site and tell them to start reading. We have a purpose in the church. We need to promote the truth whenever we can. We may say a couple of words that will lead to bringing a new person onto the path.
Life is tough, brethren. Jesus knew this when he prayed to our Father for us.
John 17:13-1713 And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves. 14 I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. 15 I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. (KJV)
John 17:20-2320 Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; 21 That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. 22 And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: 23 I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. (KJV)
How can we not feel good about ourselves? How can we not have a warm and happy heart? Jesus said that God loves us just as God loved him.
We have Godís protection in this life. We have His love, and we have a promise of the kingdom. To keep it, all we have to do is walk on the right path. That path consists of keeping Godís commandments, keeping His Holy Days and His New Moons. It consists of staying in his church and having fellowship with one another. It all hangs on that one word: "if." "If you love meÖ"
Never turn away from the chance to tell someone else of Godís good news. Thereís plenty of room on this path and weíre happy to share it.
Have a warm and happy heart, brethren. Weíre on the right path.