Faith and Values: Look outward for spiritual growth in the new year – The Spokesman-Review

The best direction for your new year may not be new at all.

In fact, the thirst for something new and different may well keep you from growing in devotion, discipline, selflessness the steady rhythm of a God-centered life you desire yet struggle to maintain.

Youre not alone in this.

People of faith always swim against a strong current of new fascinations that pull us away from the proven, ordinary graces that grow our love toward God and others.

This is what the LORD says: Stop at the crossroads and look around. Ask for the old, godly way, and walk in it. Travel its path, and you will find rest for your souls. But you reply, No, thats not the road we want!

We really dont know who we are apart from the God who made us. And our Creator tells us through the prophet Jeremiah that we are a people in desperate need of evaluating direction from time to time: Stand at the crossroads and look around.

The implication in that command is that we will not find right direction, nor satisfaction, by looking within.

God never leaves us to rely upon ourselves or our own resources when it comes to growing spiritually. Self, as it turns out, is often the greatest obstacle to spiritual growth.

Even when looking outside of ourselves, well find plenty to distract us.

Social media shape what we think of ourselves and others. A nonstop news feed shapes what we think of our world. None are especially truthful or complete.

Happily, God does the necessary work of telling us which way to turn when were at the crossroads of evaluating direction: Ask for the old, godly way, and walk in it.

We cant become our best selves by looking inward or staring incessantly at our smartphones. We need to look outward at the Word of God.

Jesus, the only perfect person who has ever lived, needed time with the Father every day first thing.

Morning by morning He wakens me and opens my understanding to His will, says Isaiah 50.

The Father continuously called to the Son, and Jesus continuously responded with glad attentiveness: The Sovereign Lord has spoken to me, and I have listened. I have not rebelled or turned away.

Jesus, the person Christians strive to imitate, craved time alone with the Father morning by morning.

His love toward and attentiveness to the Father surely must inform our own.

As God speaks to us through Scripture, He hears from us through prayer.

The Christian is never deprived of a listening ear, someone who cares, someone who understands, someone whose strong presence truly matters. What a privilege is prayer; and how frequently we trade this privilege for far lesser things.

Again, Jesus pattern is meant to be ours: Before daybreak the next morning, Jesus got up and went out to an isolated place to pray, Mark 1:35.

Of course, spending time with God in Scripture and prayer does not sound new and exciting to us. It sounds so routine; and yet, for many of us, its really not our routine.

Did you notice that the God who knows us best also anticipates such a disposition? But you reply, No, thats not the road we want!

A new year brings us a new opportunity to change our reply: God has spoken to me, and Ive listened. Ive not rebelled or turned away.

This year it might be time not to try something new. The best direction for your new year may not be new at all.

Why not try something old and find rest for our souls?

Steve Massey is pastor of Hayden Bible Church. He can be reached at (208) 772-2511 or steve@haydenbible.org.

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Faith and Values: Look outward for spiritual growth in the new year - The Spokesman-Review

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