Foundation # 1 God’s Ways
“You ways, O God, are holy.” Psalm 77:13a
Are God’s ways good? Can He be trusted? Are His plans better than I could plan for myself? Can I trust His ways instead of going my own way?
I learned that God’s ways were better than what I could plan for my own life. I learned that I could rest in knowing that because He is God – infinite and omniscient – He knows better than I ever could, because my understanding is finite. Even though His ways are far beyond my comprehension, if I wanted the best for my life, trusting His plan would be a better choice than trusting my own plan.
After many years, I finally understood that God’s ways for sex to only be within the committed relationship of a marriage make sense, because outside of that, there were inevitable, continuous breaking of relationships. And the more you experience that brokenness, the more hardened you become towards the opposite sex, towards your relationships, and its easier it is to treat sex (and people!) in a casual way.
Going my own way (making decisions according to my own thoughts and wants) hurt me. There were times when I even heard the Holy Spirit say, “Don’t do this…”, but I did it anyway. I remember putting myself in danger by getting into cars with strangers after a night of partying, and I really believe that God spared me from harm more times than I can count. He protected me even in my wilful obstinance. I remember one time in grade 12, I had a date with a handsome, very mysterious, older guy. My non-Christian friend said she felt uncomfortable about it, and advised me to cancel. I didn’t though, because he was hot and exciting. But he never showed up. The date never happened. I really feel that God protected me from something in that circumstance. The path I was heading down was getting more and more risky, though. I sensed strongly that, should I continue down this path, the ramifications would become dire.
This is what the Lord says:
“Stand at the crossroads and look;
ask for the ancient paths,
ask where the good way is, and walk in it,
and you will find rest for your souls.
But you said, ‘We will not walk in it.’
“Ruin and misery mark their ways, and the way of peace they do not know.”
“Their hearts are always going astray, and they have not known my ways.”
“If my people would only listen to me,
if Israel would only follow my ways,
how quickly I would subdue their enemies
and turn my hand against their foes!
Before I understood how much my choices impacted everything, it was easy to choose the easier way. I couldn’t see it, but in each choice to sin I was being wrapped in captivity one chain at a time. I knew at every choice that Jesus was there, waiting, arms open, but I heard the liar say, “Take this way. You’ll get whatever you need. Jesus’ way will take too long. You’ve already gone so far, nothing more will happen if you keep walking down my road.”
When I realized that I was totally enslaved, I cried out to Jesus to save me. He swiftly came to my rescue. Because in reality, He was always with me, always there, but I was always turning to other things, so I couldn’t see how close He was.
I had had enough of the devil’s ways. I had had enough of the devil masquerading sexual sin in pretty packages, only to unleash the chains of hell as soon as you open it. I never knew I was being wrapped in chains until I was fully ensnared! That’s the deceit of sin!!! There is pleasure in sin for a season. Full pleasure! You may think you have no consequences. But there will always be a day where the debt collector will come knocking. Letting you know what you owe for that ill-beggotten pleasure. And often, what you owe, will be your freedom in exchange for captivity. I became the slave of the one whose ‘choice’ I took (Romans 6:16). My resolve was chiseled away. I became so weakened that every wind of temptation blew me over. My self-worth, self-love, was chiseled away. I was marked. The same opportunities to choose sin kept coming to me at the most inopportune times.
“Lead me, Lord, in your righteousness
because of my enemies—
make your way straight before me.”
“The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.” 1 John 3:8b
Jesus said, “You can have freedom instead of captivity. I paid your debt.” When I honestly never thought I could be free – overwhelmed by sinful thoughts, triggering dreams, feeling victim to my weaknesses… Jesus said, “I WILL WALK YOU INTO FREEDOM. EVERY DAY YOU WILL BECOME STRONGER. YOU WILL SEE THE DEVIL’S TEMPTATIONS FOR WHAT THEY ARE, AND YOU WILL STAND FIRM AND WILL NOT BE SHAKEN.” (Extra: What did Jesus come to do? Isaiah 61:1-4)
Once I was captive to sexual sin, and now I walk in freedom. Just like there is pleasure in sin for a season, there is hardship in the Path of Life. This path took me on a journey of singleness for the last ten years and counting. I have experienced deep loneliness and impatience and temptation. What I received from God, I am fully UNWILLING that anyone take it away. It was a gift, it came through great affliction, (both mine, and Jesus’!) and it IS my resolve to say no to anything but God’s ways. He taught me about the better way. I will never turn back to captivity again. It was horrible. Every single thing the devil offers comes with horrible consequences. Waiting (even when it feels impossible) for God’s ways is WORTH FAR MORE THAN GOLD. Even when I don’t understand, I will choose to trust Him!!!!!!! This has been branded into the depths of my being; won through many battles.
Do you really believe that God’s ways are good? Do you believe that God is good? Can He really be trusted with your life? Are His plans really better than you could plan for yourself? Can you really trust His ways (even when it’s hard) instead of going your own way? What are the areas in your life where it is most difficult to trust God and follow His ways?
Take some time to think through these questions. Remember, this 55-day Challenge is not about giving the ‘right biblical answer’, it is about asking yourself what you really believe, deep down, and then asking the Holy Spirit to “guide you into all the truth” (John 16:13). Our actions stem from what we really believe, deep down. I knew so much about the Bible – I could recite all the books of the Bible in order, I could recite many verses, and could retell hundreds of Bible stories, but heart revelation is different from head knowledge.
As a simple example, this is one of the most well-known Christian children’s songs: “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.” By the time I could walk, I knew this song. But the true revelation of His love came much, much later. Now, this song is sung by adults in worship, and is incredibly powerful when you are singing from a place in your heart where you TRULY KNOW that He loves you.
Read the following verses aloud, and after reading, pray out the verses to God. Thank Him, express your amazement, express your desires.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the LORD.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
And my thoughts than your thoughts.”
Psalm 1:1-3, 6
Blessed is the one
who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
or sit in the company of mockers,
but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
and who meditates on his law day and night.
That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
whatever they do prospers.
For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked leads to destruction.
The ways of the Lord are right;
the righteous walk in them,
but the rebellious stumble in them.
The law of the Lord is perfect,
refreshing the soul.
The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy,
making wise the simple.
The precepts of the Lord are right,
giving joy to the heart.
The commands of the Lord are radiant,
giving light to the eyes.
The fear of the Lord is pure,
The decrees of the Lord are firm,
and all of them are righteous.
They are more precious than gold,
than much pure gold;
they are sweeter than honey,
than honey from the honeycomb.
By them your servant is warned;
in keeping them there is great reward.
“You have made known to me the path of life;
in your presence is fullness of joy.”
Teach me your way, Lord,
that I may rely on your faithfulness;
give me an undivided heart,
that I may fear your name.
I will praise you, Lord my God, with all my heart;
I will glorify your name forever.
For great is your love toward me;
you have delivered me from the depths,
from the realm of the dead.
Psalm 119:9; 18; 32; 68; 71-73; 105
How can a young person stay on the path of purity?
By living according to your word.
Open my eyes that I may see
wonderful things in your law.
I run in the path of your commands,
For you have set my heart free.
Before I was afflicted I went astray,
but now I obey your word.
It was good for me to be afflicted
so that I might learn your decrees.
The law from your mouth is more precious to me
than thousands of pieces of silver and gold.
You are good, and what you do is good;
teach me your decrees.
Your hands made me and formed me;
give me understanding to learn your commands.
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.
Invitations of Wisdom (Proverbs 7:1-4; 8:1-11; 32-36; 9:1;4-6;13-18)
My DAUGHTER, keep my words
and store up my commands within you.
Keep my commands and you will live;
guard my teachings as the apple of your eye.
Bind them on your fingers;
write them on the tablet of your heart.
Say to wisdom, “You are my sister,”
and to insight, “You are my relative.”
Does not wisdom call out?
Does not understanding raise her voice?
At the highest point along the way,
where the paths meet, she takes her stand;
beside the gate leading into the city,
at the entrance, she cries aloud:
“To you, O people, I call out;
I raise my voice to all mankind.
You who are simple, gain prudence;
you who are foolish, set your hearts on it.[c]
Listen, for I have trustworthy things to say;
I open my lips to speak what is right.
My mouth speaks what is true,
for my lips detest wickedness.
All the words of my mouth are just;
none of them is crooked or perverse.
To the discerning all of them are right;
they are upright to those who have found knowledge.
Choose my instruction instead of silver,
knowledge rather than choice gold,
for wisdom is more precious than rubies,
and nothing you desire can compare with her.
“Now then, my children, listen to me;
blessed are those who keep my ways.
Listen to my instruction and be wise;
do not disregard it.
Blessed are those who listen to me,
watching daily at my doors,
waiting at my doorway.
For those who find me find life
and receive favor from the Lord.
But those who fail to find me harm themselves;
all who hate me love death.”
Wisdom has built her house;
she has set up[h] its seven pillars.
“Let all who are simple come to my house!”
To those who have no sense she says,
“Come, eat my food
and drink the wine I have mixed.
Leave your simple ways and you will live;
walk in the way of insight.”
Folly is an unruly woman;
she is simple and knows nothing.
She sits at the door of her house,
on a seat at the highest point of the city,
calling out to those who pass by,
who go straight on their way,
“Let all who are simple come to my house!”
To those who have no sense she says,
“Stolen water is sweet;
food eaten in secret is delicious!”
But little do they know that the dead are there,
that her guests are deep in the realm of the dead.