The PATH, November 30- December 4, 2020

The PATH, November 30-December 5, 2020

Theme: Someone suggested beginning to read the Gospel of Luke on December 1, as Luke’s Gospel has 24 chapters.  If you do this you will complete Luke’s Gospel on Christmas Eve and have a greater understanding and love for the Savior who was born on Christmas Day.  We will begin that reading plan this week, but first we will look into the prophecy contained in Isaiah 9.

Monday – Isaiah 9

Isaiah 9 begins with a beautiful announcement of change, “and there will be no gloom for her who was in anguish.”  In other words the nation that was filled up with gloom and anguish will now be filled with freedom and joy.  How does this happen? Only through the power of God!  God Himself can reverse the fortunes of nations and of people at any time and at any place, however here specifically Isaiah is prophecying about the coming Messiah.  When He comes, He will bring freedom and joy.  He will transform hearts and situations.  He will be King and this King will be called, “wonderful, counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”  He will be wonderful in the love that He has for His people.  He will counsel them and comfort them.  Isaiah later tells us that He will wipe away ever tear from their eyes.  He is truly wonderful and our counselor and our comforter.  Not only that but Isaiah wants us to know that the Messiah is not going to be just a person, He will be God come in the flesh.  He will be the Mighty God.  He will be our Everlasting Father.  He will be forever faithful to us and love us as our Father.  He will adopt us into His family, and He will bring peace.  This peace is 4 fold.  It is first and foremost fundamentally a peace with God.  We can have peace with Him through the Messiah.  We can also have peace with other people through the Messiah who is our counselor who dwells within us.  Because of His greatness we can also have a peace in the situations of life, and because of His great love and forgiveness we can have peace within ourselves.  It all starts with a relationship with this Messiah that Isaiah prophesied about, the one who is “wonderful, counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father and the Prince of Peace.”  HE transforms nations and people.  Isaiah told us He was coming and at Christmas we celebrate His birth! He is Jesus, the wonderful, counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.

Tuesday- Luke 1

Luke tells us here that Jesus is going to be born.  This announcement came to Mary, His Mother.  She was most likely young and definitely unmarried but now she was going to bear the coming Messiah.  This news of course changed everything about the course of Mary’s life.  It brought fear and anxiety we can be sure, but it also brought joy.  So much joy that when Mary visited her cousin Elizabeth, the baby in ELIZABETH’s womb leaped for joy (verse 44).  That is what happens with Jesus, when you believe in Him, He brings joy.  Elizabeth even tells Mary this in v. 45 as she says, “blessed is she who believed…..”  The word blessed in this context means happy or joyful.  Elizabeth was telling Mary an amazing truth, when a person believes in Jesus, that person is given a joy that they have never had before.  Joy in knowing that they belong to God the Father.  Joy in knowing how wonderful Jesus is, joy in experiencing His goodness.  Joy in knowing that He is always with us and that we can go to Him as our wonderful counselor and comforter.  There is joy in knowing that He is the Mighty God, and that He is in control.  There is joy in knowing that He is OUR Everlasting Father and that He loves us and has adopted us into His family and there is joy in knowing that we can have peace.  The peace that comes from having a relationship with God.  That relationship would be made possible through this baby who is in Mary’s womb.  HE caused joy then and HE still causes joy today.

Wednesday – Luke 2

This glorious passage of Scripture tells us that Jesus was born in a manger because there was no room for Him in the inn.  We are also told about the birth announcement of Jesus.  It wasn’t written in the heavens for all to see, it wasn’t given to the King in the palace, but instead to the lowly shepherds “out in the fields keeping watch over their flocks by night.”  The announcement didn’t go to everybody but this shows us that it is for everybody.  God announces the birth of the Messiah to the lowly shepherds here and to the wealthy wise men in Matthew 2.  The message is clear, the Gospel is for all people.  Lowly, poor Jewish shepherds and wealthy, great gentile magi.  It is for them and for everyone in between.  It is for us.  The birth announcement of Jesus gave those shepherds hope.  Hope in the midst of the routine of life.  Hope in the struggle.  Hope in the loneliness.  2000 years later Jesus is still doing the same thing.  He injects hope into the routine of life.  He gives hope in the loneliness and hope in the struggle.  He is the same yesterday, today and forever.  

Thursday – Luke 3

John the Baptist comes onto the scene in Luke 3.  We have met him before back in Luke 1 when he leaped in his mother’s womb when he heard the news about Jesus.  Jesus gave John joy even before John was born.  An unborn baby leaped for joy because of Jesus.  (Certainly there is an argument against abortion here).  However John is no longer a baby here, he is a grown man, and what is he doing? Telling people about Jesus.  He is preaching to people and he is baptizing people, but most importantly he is telling people about Jesus.  He does so with these words, “I baptize you with water, but He who is mightier than I is coming, the strap of His sandals I am not worthy to untie.”  

Imagine the scene, everyone is flocking to John and instead of lifting himself up, John humbles himself.  Instead of trying to get more followers, John tells people that another person is coming that is so much greater than him that he is not even worthy to untie his sandals.  This was normally the job of a servant or slave, so what John is actually saying is the one who is coming is so great that I’m not even worthy to be his slave.  John was looked up to by a lot of people, but his message to them is “I’m nothing, just wait to you see Jesus.”  

John’s focus is where our focus should be.  We should be concerned about telling others about Jesus.  We should be concerned with what people think of Him, not what they think of us.  We should realize even as John did that we need Jesus.  He is greater than we are.  He is God and we are not, so we should trust Him and follow Him.  Realizing that He is worthy because He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  

Friday – Luke 4

Jesus undergoes all types of temptations here in Luke 4 and He triumphs over every single one of them.  How does He do that? He uses the word of God.  He knows it and He uses it.  It is certainly a good example for us.  It should motivate us to read and know God’s word.  It should motivate us to know the great doctrines of the faith.  IT should encourage us to grow in our faith so that we can “take up the shield of faith” when the fiery darts come from the evil one.  Jesus is the perfect example for us, but this part of His story is also a reminder to us that we are weak.  He endured temptation and triumphed over it, there is no way we can do that on our own.  We need not only a knowledge of God’s written word, but we need a living relationship with God’s living word, which is Jesus.  He will give us the strength that is needed to overcome temptation and to live for the glory of the Father.  

The PATH, November 23-29, 2020

The PATH, November 23-29, 2020

Theme: This week we will continue looking at Jesus’ sermon on the mount, but we will shift gears just a little bit.  We will no longer be looking at the beatitudes that begin the sermon on the mount but Jesus’ other teachings in this message.

Monday – Matthew 5:13

Jesus tells His disciples that they “are the salt of the earth.”  That was true of His disciples then and it should be true of us today.  What does Jesus mean? To answer that we must look at what salt does.  It is a preservative.  We as followers of Jesus should be a preserving force for Godly society.  We should preserve the truth of God’s word and make sure that we are living it out and teaching it to the next generation.  Salt does more than just preserve things however, it is also a healing agent.  We should bring healing to the world through loving people with the love of Jesus.  We are to be “peacemakers” and “ministers of reconciliation”.  We are to show the love of Christ and we are to do all things with love.  We should have a positive effect on the world.  

Salt is also flavorful.  We should not be dry and tasteless but we should be filled up with joy and with peace and hope and because of that we should flavor society.  Salt also makes people thirsty.  We should also have that effect, as we make people thirsty for Jesus.  The way that we live should point people to the love of God, and make them desire a relationship with Him.  Being salt seems like a small thing but it is needed and necessary and only possible through the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit.

Tuesday- Matthew 5:14

We are not just called to be salt, we are also to be light.  We should shine the light of Jesus into people’s lives and reveal to them their need of salvation.  This does not mean that we stand in judgement over them or that we are harsh with them, but it does mean that we should show (and tell) that all people are sinners in need of a Savior.  The bad news is that we are all sinners.  The light will point to that but thankfully, the light also points to the answer and that answer is Jesus.  Our lives should be lights that point to Him, because He is the only remedy for sin.  He ultimately in the light of the world, and through Him light we have the wisdom that we need to know how to live.  We have a tremendous privilege to share His light and be lights in the world.  Ask God today to help you be that light.  Begin to pray for the lost people around you to be saved!

Wednesday – Matthew 5:14-16

We are all familiar with the children’s anthem, “This Little Light of Mine”, and we would do well to remember that it is not just a song for children.  It is a song that reminds us of how Jesus calls us to live.  We are to let our faith shine.  We are to let others know that we are Christians by the way that we our lives, and when the opportunity arises we don’t put our light under a bushel, no, we let our light shine by telling others about Jesus.  He has changed us and transformed us that should be as obvious as a city on a hill.  If we are true followers of Christ, that won’t be hidden instead it will shine through.

Thursday – Matthew 5:14-16

Jesus gives us a lot of wonderful spiritual truth in the sermon on the mount, but He is also intensely practical.  We are to be salt and we are to be light.  How do we do that? By doing good works.  We don’t work to earn our way into heaven, but instead we work because we are thankful for the salvation we have been given.  One person put it this way, “works are not the root of salvation, but instead the fruit of salvation.”  Because Jesus has shone His light into our lives and we are saved, we now do good works to show people the love of God.  Everyday we should be asking, “God what can I do today for your glory? How can I help people? How can I love them?”  Lets be honest, it has been a hard few months and the need is great, so ask God DAILY how you can help meet it for His glory.

Friday – Matthew 5:17-20

Jesus makes a bold statement here, in fact it would have been shocking to His hearers.  He says that He has fulfilled the law and the prophets.  In other words the Old Testament is about Him and He has fulfilled every law in it. He is directly claiming to be righteous and to fully be God.  It is an amazing declaration, that gets even more amazing in verse 20, as He says to the crowd, “unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees you will never enter the Kingdom of heaven.”  How on earth is that possible? It is only possible on earth because of the gift of heaven.  We cannot be righteous in and of ourselves, but we can be righteous through faith in Jesus.  We can be righteous because He really is God and the Old Testament really is about Him.  We can be righteous because He really did fulfill the law by keeping all of it, we can be righteous because He takes our sins and gives us His righteousness.  These verses point forward to the glorious love of God displayed on the cross of Calvary!

The PATH, November 16-22, 2020

The PATH, November 16-22, 2020

Theme:  Jesus’ longest recorded sermon is found in Matthew 5.   It is easily readable in 15 minutes or less but contains life changing amazing truths.  It is a sermon that we should read and be very familiar with because in it, Jesus shows us what Kingdom living looks like.

Monday – Matthew 5:1-12

“Blessed are the merciful for they will be shown mercy.”  These words seem to imply that if we are merciful to people then we can earn God’s mercy, but that is not what Jesus is teaching at all.  Instead He is teaching us that we show mercy to other people when we have tasted of the mercy of God.  We don’t have the power in and of ourselves to be merciful to people who have hurt us and wronged us.  It goes against the desires of our flesh.  Our nature does not want to be merciful, instead our nature wants to enact revenge.  If someone treats us wrong we want to mistreat them in response.  Jesus is teaching us something radically different.  He is teaching us to respond to people with grace and mercy because we have been given the grace and mercy of God.  God has been merciful to us when He didn’t have to be.  He gave us His mercy when we didn’t deserve it.  Because of that we should reach out with love and grace to the people in our lives, even people who hurt us, or “do us wrong”, even those who think differently than we do.  

The word that we translate merciful is a word that not only means mercy but also compassion.  We are to care about what goes on in other people’s lives and show them compassion and we are to be merciful to people at all times.  The word “merciful” is used in Hebrews 2:17,  “Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.”  Jesus became our merciful High Priest, which means He shows us compassion, but it means more than just that He also showed us mercy (and grace) by going to the cross and taking our place.  He took our sins upon Himself and took our place, that is what the word “propitiation” means Jesus took the wrath of the Father for our sins.  That is mercy, and that is grace.  That is compassion in action, and once we have tasted the goodness of God it should inspire us and motivate us to be compassionate and merciful towards other people.

Tuesday – Matthew 5:1-12

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”  What a glorious promise this verse contains as it tells us that we can “see God”.  Of course it is a promise that is predicated on us being “pure in heart.”  So the question has to be asked what does it mean to be pure in heart?  How does someone become pure in heart?  Matthew  Henry, the great Biblical commentator of the 1500s describes it this way, “The pure in heart are happy; for they shall see God. Here holiness and happiness are fully described and put together. The heart must be purified by faith, and kept for God. Create in me such a clean heart, O God. None but the pure are capable of seeing God, nor would heaven be happiness to the impure. As God cannot endure to look upon their iniquity, so they cannot look upon his purity. “

We are purified by faith.  When we repent of our sins and put our faith in Jesus, He purifies us and changes our hearts.  He takes our sins away and clothes us with His righteousness through what Jesus did on the cross.  We can see God because we can come into the presence of God and we can come into the presence of God because when God looks at us He sees Jesus.  He sees Jesus’ purity and holiness because we are covered with the blood of Jesus.  In other words Jesus’ sacrifice purifies us, His sacrifice cleanses us and His sacrifice gives us the ability to come into the presence of God.  His sacrifice will one day admit us into heaven where we will fully realize this promise as we come face to face with our creator and redeemer.  That is how good God is!

Wednesday – Matthew 5:1-12

“Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called sons of God.”  Being a part of a family is certainly a great blessing and here Jesus tells us that we can be part of the family of God.  That we can in fact be called “sons of God”.  How? By being a peacemaker.  What does He mean by that? What exactly is a peacemaker?  The Greek term that is used there means, “peaceable” but part of its meaning is someone who “abides in peace”.  How is it possible to abide in peace? The only way is to first and foremost be at peace with God, and the only way a person can be at peace with God is through Jesus Christ.  Because Jesus took our sins on the cross and washed them away and gave us His righteousness, we are no longer God’s enemies, instead we can be called friends of God.  Once we have peace with God we are set free, free to have peace with other people and free to have peace even in the struggles of life.  Being at peace with God produces within us a peace in life.  That peace then overflows into the way that we live.  We are free to live at peace,  to abide in peace.  Then that peace overflows into our relationships and we are able to be peacemakers.  This isn’t because of who we are but because of who we are.  Because of Jesus we are at peace and we abide in peace.  Because of Jesus we become peacemakers and then we inherit the promise that we shall be “sons of God.”  What an amazing privilege, and just like the other promises this promise goes back to having a relationship with Jesus.  He changes everything, and because of Him we belong to the family of God and are called children of God!

Thursday – Matthew 5:1-12

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake,  for theirs in the kingdom of heaven.”  This verse also contains a beautiful promise, being given a part in “the kingdom of heaven.”  However the qualifier for the promise is difficult, “blessed are those who are persecuted….”  This does not mean that the only people who will inherit the kingdom are people who are persecuted, but it does mean if a person is persecuted for “righteousness sake” that they will definitely inherit the Kingdom.  What does Jesus mean by that? He simply means this if a person is willing to undergo persecution their faith is a real faith.  And of course entrance into the Kingdom is only possible through having a “true faith”.  If a person has a true faith in Jesus Christ, they may not have to undergo persecution, but if they were faced with it they would go through it.  Why? Because their faith is real and if a person has really trusted Jesus they will not walk away from Him.   Jesus is so good that a person will go through persecution for Him.  His goodness is also seen in the promise, “they will inherit the Kingdom of God.”  God takes care of His children.  He gives them entrance into the Kingdom!  God is that good.

Friday – Matthew 5:1-12

The last word of the beatitudes follows closely on the one before it, “blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil falsely against you on My account.  Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”  This verse closely parallels the verse before it, but it expands it.  Being blessed is not just limited to being persecuted.  Here Jesus says if people simply revile you and speak falsely about you because of Him you will be blessed and your reward in heaven will be great.  Once again God is saying, “I will take care of my children.”  We may go through being hated by the world and people may speak falsely about us, but God Himself will still take care of us and will greatly reward us in heaven.  

Jesus’ promise here is wonderful but it was also somewhat ominous to His disciples, because in this verse His tone has shifted.  He is no longer saying “blessed are those” but now He is saying “blessed are you.”  He is subtly telling His followers that if they follow Him, people will hate them.  If they follow Him people will speak evil of them and if they follow Him persecution is a very real reality.  The disciples certainly were aware of the shift in tone, yet they continued to follow Him.  Why? Because even if they were hated, it was worth it because of the relationship they had with Jesus.  If people spoke falsely of them it was ok because in reality they were now part of the family of God.  And if persecution was to come then they would continue to stand strong because of the promise of the Kingdom and because of the goodness of God.  

The PATH, Nov 9- 15, 2020

THe PATH, November 9-15, 2020

Theme:  Jesus’ longest recorded sermon is found in Matthew 5.   It is easily readable in 15 minutes or less but contains life changing amazing truths.  It is a sermon that we should read and be very familiar with because in it, Jesus shows us what Kingdom living looks like.

Monday – Matthew 5:1-12

Jesus begins the Beatitudes, with the words “blessed are”.  The word blessed that is used there means “happy”.   So Jesus is telling His disciples that the way of life that He is going to describe is the way to true happiness.  What follows the words “blessed are” in each verse is surprising or maybe even shocking.  When Jesus tells us the way to blessedness, the way to happiness it is opposite of what we think.  It is the opposite of what the world says leads to happiness.  The world says happiness comes from pursuing what you want and living only for yourself.  The reality is when we live that way we are miserable.  That is why when you look around at the world you see so much selfishness but in reality also so much misery.  The pursuit of selfish things always leads us there.  Jesus’ way is radically different.  It is the way of “taking up your cross and denying yourself.”  When you do that you are following Jesus and you are on the path to true happiness and joy.  Jesus’ happiness goes far beyond the happiness that this world offers, and it is everlasting.  

Tuesday – Matthew 5:1-12

“Blessed are the poor in Spirit”.  These words were how Jesus began the sermon on the mount and they were words that would have shocked the listeners.  Many of them may have wanted to leave after hearing such words.  Happy are the poor in spirit.  He is teaching them something that was the antithesis of the world’s beliefs even then.  Most people believe that happiness comes from self sufficiency.  They believed that 2000 years ago and they believe it today.  Jesus’ words fly in the face of that.  His words declare that happiness comes from dependency.  Happiness comes from realizing your need.  Happiness comes from realizing that you need Jesuss.  You need His forgiveness.  You need His grace.  You need His wisdom and HIs power.  You need His promises.  You need Him.  Jesus begins the sermon on the mount by saying “happy are the people who recognize their need.”  He begins here, because if you don’t get this part of the sermon on the mount, you certainly won’t get the rest.  We must recognize our need.  We must see that we need God’s presence each and every day.  If we don’t recognize that then nothing else Jesus says in the sermon on the mount is going to make sense.  But when we see our need not only does it make sense, we see that Jesus’ way is the way to true and complete happiness in life.

Wednesday – Matthew 5:1-12

Jesus’ next words were almost as shocking as the first.  “Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted.”  Blessed are those who mourn?  We would have understood it if Jesus had said, “blessed are those who are comforted when they are mourning,” yet that is not what Jesus said.  He said, “blessed are those that mourn ”, yes there is the promise of comfort, but Jesus says blessed are those that are mourning.  It is counter-intuitive.  Happy are those who mourn?  Mourning is anything but happiness.  Yet Jesus is not talking about mourning over loss or over bad news, even though thankfully He does promise to comfort us when we mourn over those things as well.  He is talking about those who mourn over their own sins.   There is a joy in recognizing your sins and repenting of them.  Their joy comes from being released from the guilt and the shame.  God gives us joy when we repent.  (The book of Acts says we should repent so that seasons of refreshing might come from the Lord).  Jesus is certainly describing that here.  You will be happy and joyful when you realize your sinfulness, when you confess it, and when your guilt and shame are taken away.  Blessed are those who see their need and blessed are those who confess their sins.  It’s definitely not what the world would say leads to happiness, but it is the way to eternal joy.

Thursday – Matthew 5:1-12

“Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.”  Jesus takes these words from Psalm 37 and reminds His listeners (and readers) that these things have always been God’s way of happiness and joy.  Here He says, “blessed are the gentle.”  Most people think happiness comes from demanding your own way and living the way that you want.  Here Jesus opposes that.  Happiness comes from gentleness and humility.  Happiness comes not from always having to have your own way.  Happiness comes from humility and putting others’ needs above your own.  This is meekness but it is certainly not weakness.  Living this way takes a tremendous amount of self-control but even more importantly Holy Spirit control.  Followers of Christ should live this way, in humility and gentleness, happiness comes from that kind of living.  But then look at the promise, “for they shall inherit the earth.”  That is certainly talking about God’s kingdom, when His kingdom comes His followers will inherit the earth.  It is a tremendous calling but also a tremendous promise and both are only possible because we serve a tremendous God.

Friday – Matthew 5:1-12

Just in case His listeners had started to drift off or get hungry, Jesus now says, “blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”  We equate hunger and thirst with misery, so much so if we are the least bit hungry we might get “hangry”, which is of course a combination of hunger and anger.  Here Jesus doesn’t say hunger leads to misery, in fact just the opposite, if you are hungry after the right thing hunger will lead to happiness.  Happiness doesn’t come from hungering after the things of the world however, in fact happiness doesn’t come from hungering after food.  Why not? Because you get hungry AGAIN.  However when you hunger and thirst after righteousness, you will be SATISFIED.  Satisfaction and joy come from hungering after righteousness.  What does that mean? It means those that are searching for the righteousness that comes from God.  The righteousness that means our sins are forgiven and that our relationship with God is restored.  Paul tells us about this righteousness in 2 Corinthians 5:21, “for our sake God made Him who knew no sin to become sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.”  That righteousness leads to joy and satisfaction, again only through God’s amazing love.  

The PATH, November 3-9, 2020

The PATH, November 2-8, 2020

Theme:  Most of the time when we think about the book of Revelation we think about future events, and yet Revelation also contains some stories of past events, specifically the 7 churches that are mentioned in Revelation 2 and 3.  Regardless if we are looking at the prophecies for the future or thinking about these 7 churches of the past, Revelation impacts our present.  Over the next few weeks we will examine the 7 churches and see what they can tell us about the church and even about ourselves in 2020

Monday – Revelation 3:1-6

Places have always been very significant in the Bible, and the churches in Revelation are no difference.  Sardis was a community that was situated on an acropolis, which was a raised area with natural defenses.  It was seen as being an unbeatable location.  This was great in one way but perhaps not so great in another.  This kept the people of Sardis safe, but it may have also led them to feel that they were independent and unbeatable.  The Bible warns us about the effects of pride and perhaps we see those effects at Sardis.  At one point it was a church that was doing pretty well.  Melito who wrote the first commentary on the book of Revelation was a part of the church at Sardis, but when John writes to the church in the late 90s ad, it is a church that has died.  They think they are alive, but in fact they are dead, and because of that Revelation 3:1-6 is hard to read.  

What led to the church’s demise? Perhaps it was forgetting sound doctrine.  Verse 3 calls them to “remember what they have seen and heard”, so evidently they had forgotten some of the truth of what they had been taught.  Perhaps though it was that they had been pulled into the sins of the world.  After all verse 4 says “there are some there who have not soiled their garments”, which means that most of them have.  They have fallen back into the sins of the world.  Worldliness and lack of sound teaching have led to a dead church, but I don’t think that is all.  They have also grown prideful because of their location and the things that they have.  Pride has truly gone before a fall, and the church is now dead.  Sardis became prideful, they were also worldly and they had forgotten truth.  These things can cause a church to die and they can certainly pull away as individuals from our relationship with God.  We won’t lose our salvation  but we will lose the joy of our salvation.  That is what had happened at Sardis.  May they serve as a warning to us.

Tuesday – Revelation 3:7-13

The church at Philadelphia was so named because the person who founded the church at Sardis, had a great devotion to his brother.  That is why it is called Philadelphia because Philadelphia is a greek word that means “city of brotherly love”.  The church at Philadelphia mirrored the city in that they were also a church of love.  In fact the Spirit speaks to the church and commends them for their works.  He not only commends them for their works, He also commends them for their perseverance, and the fact that they have kept God’s word.  This is a faithful church and it is to be celebrated and emulated.  Upon closer inspection it becomes obvious as to why they walk so closely with God.  Verse 8 tells us that they “have a little power”.  They aren’t prideful, they aren’t puffed up.  They know that they are weak and because of that they depend on God.  The contrast between them and Sardis is obvious and shocking.  Sardis thinks they have power, but they are dead.  Philadelphia knows they are weak and so they depend on God.  Because of that they are faithful.  Let us learn from their example.  Life is not about pulling up “your bootstraps” and trying harder, life is about calling out to God for help and relying on Him and His grace.

Wednesday –  Revelation 3:7-13

If you pay close attention to God’s word to the church at Philadelphia, verse 10 will jump out at you.  “You have kept the word of My perseverance…….”  The church at Philadelphia is commended for persevering, but they don’t persevere with their own strength, persevere with God’s perseverance.  The Holy Spirit that lives within them gives them the ability to persevere.  They are living in a difficult time, there are many who deny Jesus, but the church at Philadelphia perseveres.  How? Their secret is simple.  They depend on Jesus and not themselves.  They rely on the power of the Holy Spirit.  They don’t say we can do it, they say as Paul did, “we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.”  We live in  a world that celebrates power, but true power comes from relying on God and on His power, not on your own.  

Thursday – Revelation 3:14–22

The church at Laodicea was another church in an interesting location.  They were situated in a place close to cold springs of water and also  close to hot springs of water.  They had neither by the time the water arrived in Laodicea it was lukewarm.  It wasn’t good.  The church at Laodicea was just like that water.  Lukewarm.  They weren’t cold which meant they provided no refreshment to their community and they weren’t hot which means they weren’t on fire and dedicated to Jesus.  They were just lukewarm.  Because of that God says I want to spew you from my mouth.  God doesn’t spew them out however, in fact in His grace He gives them a chance to repent (v. 19).  This church is blessed tremendously but has lost their focus.  They have lost their dedication, still God in His grace wants them to repent.  He may be angry with them, He may be disappointed in them, but He still loves them and wants them to repent.  One thing that we need to learn from this church is the beauty of grace.  God’s grace never fails.  He never stops loving us, even if we grow lukewarm.  Even if we aren’t doing what we are supposed to do and providing refreshment and hope, even if we aren’t as dedicated as we need to be, God still loves us.  However He doesn’t want us to stay there, He wants us to repent and come back to Him so that we might be what we are supposed to be and so that we might be used for His glory.

Friday – Revelation 3:14-22

The contrast between these three churches is startling.  One is dead, one is faithful, and one is just going through the motions.  Upon further inspection it would seem that the church at Sardis and the church at Laodicea had at least one thing in common, and that was pride.  The church at Sardis celebrated what they had and especially their great location.  The church at Laodicea thinks they are rich and in reality they have nothing.  On the surface it would seem that they have a lot.  They are a community that makes eye salve and helps people see, they also make fine clothes for people.  They are wealthy at least on human terms and they know it.  In fact v. 17 says because of this they say, “they don’t need anything”.  In reality they were poor and blind.  The irony here is obvious.  They think they have it all, they have nothing.  They may make eye salve that helps people see but they are actually blind.  They may make clothes but they are actually naked.  They are a church that has grown prideful and a people that has grown prideful, because of that they aren’t concerned about refreshing other people (they are lukewarm, not cold) and they aren’t dedicated in their relationship with God (they aren’t hot).  They think they have all they need and because of that they have forgotten what is important.  May we learn from their example as well.  May we not be Laodicea or Sardis, but instead may we be Philadelphia realizing that we are moment by moment and day by day dependent on God.    

The PATH, October 13-18, 2020

The PATH, October 13-18, 2020

Theme: One of the terms that we as Christians use quite a bit is “gospel”? In fact we use it so much that we may not think about what it means. So what does the word “Gospel” mean?  This week we will seek to answer that question as we look at the usage of the word in Scripture.

Monday – Romans 1

The word Gospel is used over 70 times in the New Testament.  We also use it to describe the first four books of the New Testament, the Gospel of Matthew hew, the Gospel of Mark, the Gospel of Luke and the Gospel of John.  The word Gospel comes from the greek word “evangelion” which simply means Good News.  We call those four books Gospels because they give us the good news about Jesus Christ.

D. Martyn Lloyd Jones the great preacher of a couple of generations ago says this, “we are so familiar with the word gospel or so academic in our approach to it that we are not moved to the depths of our being by the wonder of it all, however we should be.”  We should be absolutely shaken by the beauty of the Gospel.  This is good news that is given to us and in Romans 1, Paul makes it abundantly clear where this good news originates, it is the “gospel of God.”  God Himself is responsible for the Gospel.  God gives us good news in the gospel, and the Gospel is all about God.  It is God making a way out of no way and giving us the ability to be forgiven and have a relationship with Him.  The Gospel should shake us to the core and cause us to rejoice.  The Gospel was promised beforehand and described in the Old Testament.  That is why when we look at a passage in the Old Testament we need to look at how it points us to Jesus.  Isaiah 53 lets us know that the Gospel is about the lamb of God, later we are told that this lamb of God takes away the sins of the world.  

The Gospel of God should cause us to simply pause and rejoice.  We live in a world of what seems to be perpetual bad news, but the Gospel of God is the good news from God Himself.  It is the Good news about Him and it is the good news that shows us how to have a relationship with Him.  The Gospel is God’s amazing grace and good news to this world collectively and thankfully to us individually.

Tuesday – Galatians 2

Paul writes to the church at Galatia and lets them know that the Gospel is truth.  He doesn’t just say this however he lets them know that there have been some people who have tried to infiltrate the church with a false message and that these people were not concerned with the Gospel of truth.  His point is that the Gospel is truth and truth is extremely important.  Truth is something that we should never attempt to compromise. 

We live in a world of falsehood and deceit.  Because of that we are sometimes not sure who or what to believe .  We watch the news and wonder what is true and what is added on or editorialized.  We wonder why some things are deemed true while others are silenced and never 

mentioned.  It can cause confusion but Paul says to the church we do have an anchor, we do have a place of truth and that place is the Gospel of God.  His Gospel is true.  It is true because it is about God and it is given to us by God, and God cannot lie.  The Gospel is true and it is truth so if you are struggling with confusion, if you are searching for what is true, or if you wonder if anything is true, anchor your life to the Gospel of God.  It is true and it is truth.  It has stood and will stand the test of time, and through the Gospel we can be saved and have a relationship with God through Jesus, who is the way, the TRUTH, and the life.

Wednesday- Acts 20

When Paul addresses the Ephesian elders in Acts 20 he tells them of all of the struggles that he has been through for the sake of the Gospel.  Even though these struggles are horrific, he willingly goes through them so that he can share the Gospel.  In other words the Gospel is that important.  

Then in v. 24 Paul tells us what his goal is, he wants us to finish his course and tell others about  the Gospel of the grace of God.  Here we get another description of the Gospel.  It is gracious.  It is the Gospel of grace.  What does this mean? The word grace means that we are given what we don’t deserve.  We don’t deserve the Gospel but God gives it to us because He loves us.  The Gospel is in fact a declaration of the grace and love of God.  He loves us so much that He sent His son to die on the cross to take our sins away.  It goes beyond that however as Jesus not only takes our sins away but He becomes our sin and then He gives us His righteousness.  This is grace at its most beautiful.  The Gospel is amazing.  It is true, it is gracious, it is beautiful and it is from God!

Thursday – Acts 15

Before we go any further we must ask how do we respond to the Gospel?  In Acts 15, Peter tells those he is speaking to that God allowed the Gentiles to hear the Gospel so that they might “believe.”  The word believe that is used there is actually a  Greek word that means to “trust and to commit to.”  How do we respond to the Gospel? We believe it because it is true but we must go beyond that.  We not only believe it but we trust it.  We know that it is the power of God for salvation and that through the cross and the empty tomb God forgives us, we trust that and we trust that this Gospel has come from God.  Because of that we commit ourselves to the one who gives us the Gospel.  The Gospel is great, beautiful, and gracious.  The Gospel is truth because it is from God.  We must respond to it in belief and in trust and we must commit our lives to it and to the one who gives it to us.  

Friday – 2 Thessalonians 1

Paul gives the church at Thessalonica some very sobering words God will punish those who do not “obey the Gospel of our Lord Jesus.”  He is not teaching a works based salvation here, because the Gospel is all about grace, but he is saying if you believe the Gospel and know the beauty and the wonder of the Gospel you will walk in obedience to the one who gave you the Gospel.  Your obedience is born out of a heart of love.  You obey Jesus because you love Him.  When you obey the Gospel you are believing it and repenting of your sins and putting your faith in Jesus.  Then because you love Him you walk in obedience to Him.  I love how one pastor put it, “your love for Jesus is the receipt that your sins have been forgiven.”  What he is saying is that when your sins are paid in full you have to love Jesus because of all He has done for you.  When you love Him you are declaring to the world, to other Christians and even reminding yourself that Jesus has paid for all of your sins, past, present and future.  That is the Gospel of Jesus Christ!

Social Media?

I have been convinced over that last week or so that I need to live “more in the moment”, as I spend time with the people that I love. Today as I was reading the news I came across an article that said “do this one thing to destress your life.” It was an extremely catchy headline and in 2020 who couldn’t use less stress, so I clicked on the link.

The article basically said if you want to destress your life and truly have more happiness, then turn off social media. Here are some of the findings:

“People who continued to use Facebook were 55% more likely to be stressed. Those who stopped their social media habits experienced less concentration difficulties, felt more satisfied in their (real life) social lives, and were 18% more likely to feel present in the moment.”

This study took 2 groups and shut off their social media, one was allowed to go back on while the other was not for the duration of the study. The one who stayed off of social media was less stressed, happier, able to concentrate more, and lived more in the moment.

The days of life may seem long while the years may appear short. If you want to make the most of those days and those years spend less time on social media. Happiness will follow the study says, but more importantly Jesus said “He came so that we might have life and live it to the fullest.” I dont think living it on social media all the time was what He had in mind.

Astounding!

1 Corinthians 15:26 – “The last enemy to be destroyed is death.”

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Have you ever really paid attention to the words of the hymn, “How Great Thou Art”?  They are beautiful and they are stirring and they should move us to a greater appreciation of who God is and of His majesty.  There is a line in there though that would cause us to pause IF we were listening: “when Christ shall come with shouts of acclamation and lead me home what joy shall fill my heart.”  Those words are astounding because in reality for the believer the way that we are “led home” is through death.   Most of the time we aren’t thinking about that when we sing the song, in fact many times perhaps we are just going through the motions as we sing it. 

However if we did stop and listen to the words they would cause us to pause, especially this line.  In it the hymn writer is saying that death is joy for the believer.  He is not watering down the sorrow of death or the struggle of death but he is pointing us towards the greatness of God.  He can take something as horrific as death and make joy come out of it.  In fact for the believer death leads them in to the presence of God and in His presence there is “fullness of joy.”  The hymn writer is not minimizing death, instead he is pointing us to the greatness of God.  Yes! If God can take death and make joy HE truly is a great and amazing God! 

We worry on this earth about many things.  Covid 19, the election, the stock market, our own health, our friends and family members, and on and on and on.  If we are honest we definitely worry about death, in fact it is something that we are all scared to death of.  But we shouldn’t worry.  We shouldn’t worry about any of those things, not even death.  That is the point of what the hymn writer says, God is so great that He even transforms death.  That is astounding.  Our last enemy, death, is transformed by the one who loved us first.  That is the greatness of Almighty God.  Let us take time to slow down and really listen, not just to the hymn, but to the brillance of the word of God.  After all it is living and active, and it has the power to uplift us and to change us. 

The PATH, October 5-11, 2020

The PaTH, October 5-11, 2020

Theme: We have spent the last few weeks looking at the character and power of God.  We have looked at His goodness and His majesty.  This week we will spend some time looking at some of the “big prayers” of the Bible. As we consider these Scriptures and hopefully begin to pray some of them, we need to remember who we are praying to.  He is the ONE who works and moves and answers prayers and because of that He is the ONE who deserves all of the honor, glory and praise.

Monday – 1 Samuel 24 and 1 John 1:9

Saul hated David and because he viewed him as a threat he wanted him dead.  He had tried many times but had failed, now David catches Saul in a cave, and sneaks up on him while he is “relieving himself” (yes that does mean what you think it means).  David has a chance to kill him and get rid of the threat to his life, but David doesn’t, instead David cuts off a corner of Saul’s robe.  It was a way of saying, “look what I could have done, but I didn’t.”  It was a way for David to say to Saul “I had you”, and to show Saul that he was more intelligent than him.  Something strange happens however in verses 5 when David’s heart strikes him.  What does this mean? It means that David was convicted.  

Earlier we are told that the Holy Spirit takes up residence within David, so it is the Holy Spirit that is touching and convicting David’s heart.  The BIble says that our hearts are “deceitful and wicked” but this shows us that the Holy Spirit within us can still convict our hearts.  David is feeling conviction.  He has sinned.  His pride has gotten the best of him as it would many times throughout his life.  David felt bad about his sin and he should have.  In fact I would say to you that feeling bad about our sins and being convicted is a gift from God, because when we are convicted we then can run to God for forgiveness.

John tells us in 1 John 1:9, “if we confess our sins that He is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  The word All that is used there is a beautiful thing, when we feel convicted and repent of our sins, God forgives us of all of our sins and unrighteousness.  He takes all of our sins and washes them away.  He cleanses us of the sin of pride just like he did David.  He cleanses us of our mistreatment of people and calls us to change.  He cleanses us of all of the sins that we think we are hiding in our hearts.  He forgives us and through the power of the Holy Spirit He changes us as well.  

Be bold today when you pray and pray that God will forgive you of your sins.  Pray also that He wouldn’t just forgive you but that He would change you and transform you so you don’t commit those same sins again.

Tuesday -Romans 3

God’s word is penetratingly direct.  It reveals to us our sins and it lets us know that all people are sinners.  In fact Romans 3:23 puts it this way, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”  We all have fallen short.  We all have sinned.  Thankfully the Bible doesn’t stop there.  Romans 3:23 is followed by Romans 3:24.  The good news follows the bad news because v. 24 says, “we are justified by His grace as a gift through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.”  

We are sinners, but thankfully we have a Savior and His name is Jesus.  In fact Paul is indirectly saying here that Jesus is the only way for us to be saved.  There was no way, but God made a way out of no way through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross.  Because of that Paul says we who are sinners can be justified by the redemption that is offered through Jesus.  

This should lead us to a bold prayer as well.  It should lead us to pray a bold prayer of thanksgiving to God for His spectacular, amazing grace and it should lead us to pray for those who are still “in their sinful state.”  This passage should convince us to pray for those that are lost.  We should pray that God would save them and that they would know the “redemption that is in Christ Jesus.”  

Make a list today of people who don’t know Jesus.  Pray earnestly and boldly for them starting today, but pray everyday and don’t stop praying until they all come to faith in Jesus as their Savior and Lord.

Wednesday – 1 Peter 5

1 Peter was written during a time of uncertainty and persecution and even though we aren’t facing persecution today, there are many similarities between his world and ours.  We too live in very uncertain times and just like in Peter’s day anxieties abound.  What should we do in times of anxiety? What should we do when things are uncertain? What should we do when the world SEEMS to be spinning out of control?  1 Peter 5:7 gives us the answer, “cast all your anxieties on Him because He cares for you.”  Peter is very bold in his statements here.  “Cast all your cares on Him”, that is bold because it says ALL.  We are to cast ALL of our fears and our anxieties on Jesus.  For many of us that flies in the face of who we are, we aren’t good at turning things over to others.  Instead many times we want to figure it out and fix it all by ourselves.  Peter in boldness calls us to realize we can’t fix it on our own.  We can’t solve it, we can’t figure it out.  We are limited and God is not.  So Peter says “Cast your cares on Jesus”.  Realize that you need Him.  

Then there is a statement that is beautiful in its boldness, cast your cares on Him “because He cares for you.”  Sometimes when anxiety hits or you feel fearful about the future you may feel like no one understands you.  When worries about you may feel like you aren’t loved. Peter however boldly says, “God cares about you.”  In other words He understands you and cares about all of the things that you are going through.  Ask Him to search your heart and to reveal any fears that are within you, then take those fears and cast them on to Jesus because He really does care for you.

Thursday – Matthew 16

Our culture bombards us with messages calling us to “look out for ourselves.”  The irony of these messages however is that in reality the companies that are telling us to look out for ourselves are only concerned with themselves and selling us s

something so that they might make a profit.  They want us to have the must have fashion or the brand new car not because they care about us but because they want to sell us something.  McDonald’s really doesn’t believe that “we deserve a break today”, they do however want our $5.99 for the Happy Meal.  

Jesus’ call to us is different; it really is for our good and for His glory and it is not a call to self.  In fact it is just the opposite, “if anyone wants to come after me let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”  These are hard words.  We don’t naturally deny ourselves.  We don’t naturally take up a cross and if we are honest the only person we naturally follow is ourselves.  So Jesus’ words are counterintuitive and yet they are the way to true peace and freedom.  His words are the way to life and to joy.  We may not naturally follow them, but we can supernaturally follow them.  What do I mean by that? I mean we can pray for God’s Holy Spirit to empower us to live a life not for self but for the glory of the Savior.  We can pray that He will supernaturally empower us to follow Him.  In reality it is the only way that we will.  We can’t make up our minds to do so, or we can’t just simply try harder.  No we need the power of God to change us so that we might “deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Him.”

Friday- Psalm 34

Psalm 34 is beautiful and poetic and contains some life changing truth.  We see that in v. 18 when we are told “the Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who  are crushed in spirit.”  What a promise!  Psalm 34 doesn’t say brokenhearted about what, it just says brokenhearted.  We can be broken hearted over our own sins, or over the sins of someone else.  We can be broken hearted over sickness or grief.  We can be broken hearted over the place our country is in, or we can be broken hearted over someone that we love.  In all of those cases the promise is that God is near to you.  So if you are wounded and weary today, if you are beaten down and broken hearted run to Jesus and cry out to Him.  He is near to you and wants to comfort you and strengthen you.  That is the goodness of God so take time and pour your heart out to Him.  He is near to you and He cares about you.  

Redefining

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John 13:14 – “If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.”

Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “everyone can be great, because everybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve…..You only ned a heart full of grace, and a soul generated by love.” He is 100% correct, greatness comes from service, and yet the world says just the opposite. The world says greatness comes in possesions and in power, King said “greatness comes from service.” Not knowledge, not power, not riches, or possesions. We need to redefine greatness and what it means to be great. Greatness comes from serving God and from serving others. Dr. King learned this at the feet of Jesus. Jesus in fact said, “He came not to be served but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many.”

Jesus was the ultimate servant, and He calls us as His followers to be people of service. He demonstrated service on the cross of Calvary, but even before that He served His disciples. He served them by doing one of the lowest acts, He washed their feet. That was a shocking display of service, but then He upped the shock value and called His disciples to “serve others.”

He also didn’t put any qualifiers on His words. He didn’t say serve others if they believe like you. He didn’t say serve others if they share your political ideology. He didn’t say serve others if they dress like you and come from your part of town. He didn’t say serve others if you deem them to be good people. He didn’t even say serve others if they are of the same race as you. He just simply said to serve others and since He didn’t qualify His remarks, maybe its time that we as His followers quit qualifying them as well. Maybe we just need to serve other people and love them. Regardless of their beliefs, their idealogies, their dress codes, their skin color, or their hobbies. Maybe we just need to serve because that is what Jesus did. The disciples had different thoughts, different feelings, and different ideologies, Jesus didn’t let that stop Him, He just washed their feet. He just loved them, and because of that love, they listened to Him and followed Him.

We must do the same. IF we served and loved instead of complaining about how bad the world is, we might not need to complain. Instead we might just be celebrating what God was doing, after all He is the answer to all of the problems of the world and He calls us to love and to serve.