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.

The Importance of Community

PSALM 68:6 – “God sets the lonely in families, He leads out the prisoners with singing; but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land.”

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Kurt Vonnegut was interviewed on PBS concerning Woodstock several years ago and he said, “I think Woodstock represents a very primitive need in all of us……at our peril we do without a tribe, without a support system. The nuclear family is not a support system. It’s hideously vulnerable, and so we again and again join gangs.” Vonnegut was right we need a support system. He was speaking of a time of major turmoil in our country and he said that in those times of turmoil and struggle we need that support system.

The truth of the matter is that we need that support system at all times, whether we are in times of national turmoil or national peace. We need a support system, we need community. Vonnegut’s words were intended to be a kncok on the family, that the “nuclear family is not a support system,” and to a degree he may be correct. Our families at their best can be a great support system but at their worst they can cause great harm. His words point to a deeper reality, that we do need a support system outside of our families. God in fact designed us that way, but perhaps a better way to say it would be to say that God designed us to where our support system becomes our family, because in reality our support system as belivers in Christ is supposed to be the church. The New Testament bears witness to this fact and we even get a glimpse of it in Psalm 68. God does set the lonely in families. Where? In the church, and it is there that we who were once prioners to sin should break forth into singing and find joy and love.

The church really is that important. Vonnegut was saying that people in the 60s were driven by a need for community, that is why something like Woodstock happened. It was a time of upheaval, disappointment, and national turmoil, and it was in that time that people found out they needed other people. The same thing is true today. We live in a time of pandemic, unrest, political division, and across the board mistrust for others. It is precisely in this time that we need other people. We need support. We need love. We need the Gospel of Jesus Christ and they only place that those things can be found is in the church of Jesus Christ.

Pandemic has created all kinds of “new normals” from masks to social distancing to churches scrambling to find out how to “get online”. I would say that online worship is good and I’m thankful for the opportunities that we have to worship in that way, but I would also say that we need one another. We need the church. If you aren’t comfortable coming to the buildings that is ok, but still find a way to connect with other believers. Call them, text them, check on them. Call someone and pray with them over the phone. Do something to connect. You need it and the other person does as well.

If you can get to church and are comfortable doing so then make it a priority. Don’t just go if there is nothing else going on. Don’t make excuses for missing church, let church be your excuse, no your reason to miss other things. Make it a priority. Come to worship, get involved in Bible study. If its too full and you can’t social distance, keep a lawn chair in your trunk and sit outside. Make worship a priority, make your brothers and sisters in Christ a priority. You need them and they need you.

The PATH, September 21-27, 2020

The PATH, September 21-27, 2020

Theme: This week we will continue to look at the attributes of God using some of the images of  God that are presented in the Psalms.  The book of Psalms was the hymn book of the Old Testament and of the early church.  It was made up of the songs that Jesus would have sung throughout the day and in worship as well.  Because of that it shows us the beauty of who God is and gives us reasons why we should praise Him and celebrate Him.

Monday – Psalm 68

David tells us here that God is “Father of the fatherless and  judge for the widows.”  He goes on to say that God “makes a home for the lonely.”  This is a picture of the Sovereign God of this universe who is mighty in power but who cares about the powerless.  This picture flies in the face of the thoughts of our world today.  Many in our culture only care about those who are strong and powerful.  In fact we let those people influence us as people.  We let them influence our thoughts and our feelings.  We let them dictate our fashion choices in some situations and even the music that we listen to.  The powerful people of this world impress most people.  However they do not impress God.  He is not in awe of their status or their riches.  He is not amazed by their position in life.  God’s heart is toward those who are less fortunate.  His heart is toward those who are struggling.  He cares about those who are powerless and who cannot help themselves.  The orphan and the widow in the Old Testament culture were almost in hopeless situations.  They could not help themselves.  Children were seen as property and women were as well.  A widow and an orphan in society’s eyes had no one to take care of them.  They were thrown aside by the world, God however did not throw them aside.  He cares about them.  He became a Father to the orphan and a judge for the widow, which means HE defended her.  God cares about those who are struggling and who cannot help themselves.  The psalmist even says “HE makes a home for the lonely.”  In other words God cares about the lonely and the hurting.  Which is good news for us because in reality none of us can help ourselves.  We are all helpless, we all need God.  Thankfully God is there.

Tuesday – Psalm 73

Psalm 73 is a psalm that is sometimes read at funerals.  The message of verse 26 is sometimes very appropriate there, “my flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”  There is in that verse a glimmer of hope because it points us to eternal life.  Our flesh one day will fail, our heart will one day cease to pump, but God is the strength of our hearts and our portion forever.  In other words there is more to life than just this temporal life.  We have the gift of eternal life to be thankful for, even when this life is over, there is more and this more will be immeasurably better than the life that we have now IF we are followers of Jesus Christ.  

This verse may give us hope and peace when we hear it read at a funeral but when we encounter it at other times it can be very sobering.  It is a hard reminder that this life does not last forever. One day our flesh and our hearts are going to fail.  That is hard to think about, but the next part of that verse should give us strength and hope and peace regardless of where we are in life, “but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”  Someone said that when you read the words “but God” in Scripture that something wonderful is getting ready to come.  That is definitely the case here, the psalmist says, one day this life is going to end, BUT GOD is our strength even then.  He is our portion even then.  In other words He is what we depend on each and everyday while we live in this life, and He will be what we depend on when we pass from this life to the next.  God is always dependable and always faithful.  That is the goodness of our Father!

Wednesday – Psalam 95

Psalm 95 has a warning in its heading, it is a “warning against unbelief”.  It is a beautiful psalm of praise that beckons us to come into God’s presence with singing and joy.  It invites us to “worship and bow down,” to “kneel before the Lord our God our Maker.”  We are invited into the presence of God to celebrate Him and His power and goodness, but then we are warned not to harden our hearts, not to test God, not to doubt Him.  In other words Psalm 95 presents us with the dichotomy of life, we life between praise and doubt.  Sometimes it is easy to “come into His presence with thanksgiving,” but other times we struggle with trusting Him and doubting what He says.  The good news is that even when life is hard and we are struggling to trust we can still run into His presence.  The hymn writer puts it this way, “standing on the promises that cannot fail, when the howling storms of doubt and fear assail, by the living word of God I shall prevail, standing on the promises of God.”  

Even when life is hard we can run into His presence and stand on His promises. 

When fear assails us we can still “shout joyfully to the Lord.”

When we are assaulted by doubt we can still “kneel before the Lord our God our maker.”  

We should take heed to the warning about doubt, yes life may be hard and yes fear and doubt may accost us every day, but even then we still need to trust God and bow before Him in praise.

Thursday – Psalm 121

The psalmist gives us a beautiful picture of God here: He is our keeper and the one who keeps Israel (v. 3 and v. 4).  He keeps Israel, this means that He cares about the entire nation.  He protects them, and keeps them, He is with them.  But He also keeps us.  He is great enough to care about and guard an entire nation, but He is caring and personal enough to keep us and guard us as well.  God is so big that He is in sovereign control, but He still cares about you and me.  In fact we are told that He keeps us.  This means that He is there for us at all times.  This means He keeps us from stumbling.  This means that He holds us together.  Colossians 1:17 puts it this way, “And He is before all things and in Him all things hold together.”  God keeps this world spinning, God keeps the nations, and God holds us up as well. 

Have you ever felt like you were going to fall apart? Have you ever felt like the weight of the world was on your shoulders and that it was going to crush you? Have you ever felt that life was falling apart? And yet it didn’t.  The weight of the world didn’t crush you and somehow life didn’t fall apart.  How? God held you together.  HE holds the moon and the stars in the sky and He holds you in the palm of His hand.  You don’t fall apart because God is holding you together.  

Friday – Psalm 144

David declares here that God is “my high tower.”  In that day and time a person would go up into a tower so that they could better see and thus be prepared for any attacks of the enemy.  David was very familiar with this concept and here he applies it to God.  God is our “hightower”, which means He helps us to see more clearly.  He helps us see what is important in life.  He helps us see so that we can make correct decisions.  He helps us see when the enemy tries to attack us.  He helps us see what life is all about.  John Newton sums that up well in the hymn “Amazing Grace” when he says, “I once was blind but now I see.”  God is our strength, God is our stronghold, God is our foundation and thanks to God we can truly see what life is all about.  Take time today to praise Him for His amazing grace! 

How Did That Get There?

Philippians 4:13 – “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

A famous Biblical commentator used to keep a picture of a turtle on a fencepost on the wall behind his desk for all to see. When he was asked why he would have a picture like that his response was, “I keep it there to remind me that just as the turtle didn’t get there by itself, I didn’t get to where I am by myself either.” The same thing could be said of all of us, we didn’t get to where we are by ourselves. We have had countless people who have helped us throughout the years. Their generosity, their advice, their wisdom and their prayers have helped us become who we are today. They have helped us get to this place, and we should simply and humbly be thankful.

The book of James tells us that “every good and perfect gift we have in our lives is a gift from God, our Father.” That means that all of these people who have helped us onto the fencepost are gifts from God and we should be thankful for them. More than that we should be thankful to God Himself for His blessings and for the countless times He has picked us up and put us where we needed to be. He has lifted us up through His grace. He has delivered us with His strong hand, and He has saved us with His mighty arm. He deserves all of the honor, glory and praise.

Let’s not by into the deception of the world that says you have got where you are by your own strength or by pulling yourself up with your bootstraps. You are where you are because God has blessed your life with many people who have helped you along the way. God Himself has been your help and your strength. So be thankful today and live in humility knowing that you are where you are only through the grace and the love of God!

The PATH, September 14-20, 2020

The PATH, September 14-20, 2
2020

Theme: This week we will continue to look at the attributes of God using some of the images of  God that are presented in the Psalms.  The book of Psalms was the hymn book of the Old Testament and of the early church.  It was made up of the songs that Jesus would have sung throughout the day and in worship as well.  Because of that it shows us the beauty of who God is and gives us reasons why we should praise Him and celebrate Him.

Monday – Psalm 46

“God is our refuge and our strength a helper who is always found in times of trouble.”  That is the psalmist cry in Psalm 46 but it is not a cry that everyone can make.  Charles Spurgeon rightly says, “not everyone can sing this song of peace amid commotion and calamity.”  Only the redeemed can cry out to God and be assured that God hears.  We live in a time of turmoil and struggle and in this time God is our refuge and strength, but He is not our refuge and strength because of what we do or how good we are.  He is only our refuge and strength because we have been redeemed by the blood of the lamb.  Because we are forgiven by Him we can run to Him in prayer and we can come boldly before His throne of grace.  

When Martin Luther the great church reformer of the 15th century met with great opposition, he would grab one of his friends and say “come, let us sing the 46th psalm, let us pray it, and then let the devil do whatever he can.”  In other words let us run to Jesus in the calamity of life, let us hide in Him when persecution rages, and when we feel like we can’t go on let us draw our strength from Him.  That is who God is, He is a refuge we can hide in, He is our stability that we can run to and He is our strength.  That is why we are told in the New Testament, “be strong in the LORD.”  Stop trying to do it yourself and run to the strength, the grace and the love of Almighty God.

Tuesday – Psalm 48

“This God, our God forever and ever- HE will always lead us.”  Once again the psalmist makes it personal, “this God OUR God…..”  He personally knows and has a relationship with God.  If you just pause right there it is an amazing statement isn’t it?  God, the creator of this universe, the one who formed and fashioned us in our mother’s wombs can be personally known by us.  It is an amazing assertion.  We can have a relationship with God and because we have a relationship with Him the psalmist makes another amazing assertion, “He will always lead us.”  This is certainly a foreshadowing of the words of Jesus when He says, “I will never leave you or forsake you.”  It is a pointing forward to Jesus’ words “and lo I am with you always.”  That is who Jesus is, He is forever faithful.  What does the word always mean? It means forever.  He will forever be with us.  He will forever lead us.  That is great news is it not.  When we don’t know how to walk God takes our hand and leads us.  When we don’t know which way to turn God points us in the right direction.  When we have questions about life? God willingly answers them.  When we search for His will? He willingly shows it to us.  When we are weeping, He sits beside us and wipes the tears from our eyes.  And even when we face the valley of the shadow of death, He walks with us there as well.  He leads us in life and even into death and when we enter 

that place, it will be a place of joy.  Why? Because in His presence is fullness of joy.  If we personally know God through the person of Jesus Christ then we have the assurance that He will always lead us, in life and in death.  

Wednesday – Psalm 59

David is the author of Psalm 59 and it was written at a time when King Saul in his jealousy was trying to kill David.  When you see the context of the psalm, David’s assertion in v. 9 is nothing short of amazing, “God is my stronghold.”  Most likely when David writes these words he is inside of his house surrounded by Saul’s forces.  He is in serious danger and his life is in jeopardy.  Even then when things are at their lowest point, David says, “God is my stronghold.”  The irony of that verse rings out to us, David is holed up in his house, but its not his house that is sheltering him.  Its not the walls that are protecting him, it is God Himself.  He is an unconquerable stronghold and in His mercy and sovereignty, He protects David from certain death.  

I can’t read David’s words without thinking about Paul’s words in Romans 8:37, “we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.”  We are victorious! But its not on our own, it is through Jesus.  We win because of Him.  The same thing is true of David, he was victorious because God was his stronghold.  

I also can’t read David’s words without thinking about Jesus.  When He was on the cross, He was surrounded just like David was.  His enemies had closed in on Him, but God the Father was His stronghold and He was ultimately victorious because of that.  The hymn writer captures that well, “up from the grave He arose with a mighty triumph over His foes, He arose the victor from the dark domain and He lives forever with His saints to reign.”  Jesus won the battle over even the foe of death, and through Him we can be victorious as well.  He rose and now He is preparing a place for us, the place that will be our stronghold throughout all eternity.  The place of victory in God’s kingdom, not because of what we have done but because of what Jesus did on the cross.  The victory is won! He is our stronghold and we are victorious through Him.

Thursday – Psalm 59 (focus on verse 10)
David makes another phenomenal statement here in verse 10, “MY faithful God will come to meet me; God will let me look down on my adversaries.”  When David writes those words he is in trouble, he is surrounded and his enemies are looking down on him.  Still David is not hopeless.  The world might say David was at the end of his rope, but thanks to God David was not at the end of his hope.  He was patiently waiting on God and still trusting in Him against all circumstances.  David can’t get to God.  He can’t leave his house.  He quarantined but not by a virus, by the army of king Saul.  He can’t move, but he says, God will come to me.  God will make a way where there is no way.  That is ultimately what He did for us in Jesus isn’t it?  Our sins surrounded us, Satan plotted our demise, death and hell awaited us.  We could not move.  We could not get to God.  We were paralyzed by our sins, but when we could not get to Him, God came to us.  He came to us in the person of Jesus Christ, born in a manger.  He came to us through the perfect life of Jesus.  He came to us through the cross and through the empty tomb.  He came to us, when we could not get to Him and He saved us because of His goodness and mercy.  He is faithful and just as David said He came to meet us, and one day He will raise us up.  Thanks be to God for His indescribable plan!

Friday – Psalm 61

Many of the thoughts of Psalm 61 have already been declared in other psalms.  God is our refuge.  God is our strong tower.  God is faithful, and God has heard our cries.  God is our rock of safety.  David is once again clinging to God in the midst of the turmoil and struggle of life.  This time we aren’t told what the struggle is, and perhaps that is purposeful.  Maybe we don’t need to know what David was struggling with so that we could simply see that God is with us in all the struggles of life.  David is once again seemingly at the end of his rope, but God is not done with David.  

I love how Charles Spurgeon puts it, “It is a blessed thing to wait only on God.  You have proved everything else to be a failure and now you simply hang upon the bare arm of God alone.  There is certainly enough for us to depend on here.”  Everything and everybody may fail you but God never will.  You may try to find strength in 1000 other things and they may all fall through, but if you cling to God, He will never fail you and He will never let you go.  He truly is our rock and our refuge.  He really is our strong tower and our strength.  He certainly is faithful and He hears us when we pray.  So regardless of the circumstance and the turmoil let us celebrate God’s goodness, majesty and power today and everyday!

The PATH, September 7-13, 2020

The Path, September 7-13, 2020

Theme: This week we will continue to look at the attributes of God using some of the images of  God that are presented in the Psalms.  The book of Psalms was the hymn book of the Old Testament and of the early church.  It was made up of the songs that Jesus would have sung throughout the day and in worship as well.  Because of that it shows us the beauty of who God is and gives us reasons why we should praise Him and celebrate Him.

Monday – Psalm 22

Psalm 22 is a Messianic psalm that points to Jesus.  Specifically it points to His death on the cross and how He was forsaken by the Father.  When Jesus took on our sins and became sin on the cross the Father turned His face away from Jesus.  This shows us the horrific nature of sin.  God the Father and God the Son, along with God the Holy Spirit form the Trinity, but because of sin, the Father has to turn away.  God cannot look on sin.  So when Jesus willingly took on sin for us the Father turned away.  Jesus was forsaken, and this Psalm predicted it 1000s of years before it happened.  It is amazing!

The psalmist then gives us a great description of God in verse 19, “But you Lord don’t be far away, My STRENGTH, come quickly to help me.”  In this Messianic Psalm that points to Jesus, the psalmist is still personally struggling with something so what does he do? He cries out to God for help and he says, “God is my strength.”  The word strength that is used there means help, or protection, or power.  Let that sink in for just a moment, God the creator of this universe helps us.  When we struggle to go from one day to the next, God helps us.  When we feel as if life is too hard to go on, God gives us strength and in fact He is our strength.  When the forces of darkness assail us, God is our protection.  His power is available to us because of His grace and mercy.  

The reality is we were enemies of God and His power wasn’t for us but against us.  Because of our sins He wasn’t our help, instead we were under His wrath.  We were His enemy so His strength was not available to us but because Jesus was forsaken on the cross, all of this changed.  Because Jesus took our sins and washed them away on the cross we are no longer enemies of God but we are friends of God.  Because of His great love we are transformed, we are no longer children of wrath, but we are children of God, and because of that God is our strength!  We have many reasons to rejoice.

Tuesday – Psalm 27

“The Lord is my light.”  What does light do? It gives you the ability to see.  It shines on your path and helps you not fall.  God is all of that.  He helps us see, no wonder the hymn writer says, “I once was blind but now I see.”  God helped him see his need for a Savior, he repented and put his faith in Jesus.  God shined His light on him and he was saved.  Of course God doesn’t just shine His light on us for salvation, He shines His light on us everyday to help us see.  This means He gives us the wisdom that we need as we try to navigate this life.  That has been needed all throughout history but I think in these days that we live in today it is especially needed.  He shines His light so we can make wise decisions, so we can stay on the path, and so we can follow Him.  That is the goodness of God, He could just save us and leave us to our own devices, but He doesn’t.  HE leads us and guides us daily.  He gives us wisdom daily and He keeps us from falling daily.  He calls us to take up our cross and follow Him daily, but He doesn’t just leave us to figure out how to do that on our own.  He calls us to do it and then in His grace and goodness, He shines His light to give us the ability to do it.  That shows us a little bit about the character of God, when He calls us to do something, He will then give us the ability to do it.  What an awesome God we serve!

Wednesday – Psalm 3

David is on the run from his son Absalom in Psalm 3.  This is a time of extreme struggle for him.  Not only is his life in danger but it is in danger from his son.  It has to be a time of physical exhaustion combined with mental and emotional exhaustion.  Being physically tired is one thing but being emotionally and mentally drained is another.  David is most likely all 3.  He is facing an insurrection against his throne and this insurrection is led by his son Absalom.  Living with the pressure of someone trying to remove you from office is bad but when that person is your son then certainly the stress is compounded.  David is dealing with all sorts of pressure and even though he is the king and a man after God’s own heart, the pressure causes David to drop his head.  David is simply overwhelmed.  The picture is of a man who is defeated.  We see this from time to time in the sports world today, when a person suffers defeat they simply drop their head.  They are unmoving, disappointed and struggling.  That is David here but he is not playing a game he is dealing with the extreme pressures of life.  They overwhelm him and he drops his head.  It is a picture of man who is on the verge of giving up.  The situation is so bad that many people are saying that God can’t even help David.  In other words people think he is beyond help.  The good news is that is not true because in verse 3 God shows up and David’s hope is restored.  

He goes from being a man who is hopeless to a man who is filled up with hope.  He goes from dropping his head in defeat to  having his head lifted up.  Take note of this David is so weak that he can’t even lift up his own head.  God however bursts onto the scene and lifts David’s head.  He is no longer defeated, he is victorious.  He is no longer overcome, he is restored.  He is no longer hopeless, but now he is hopeful.  David was the king of the country but he couldn’t do these things for himself, God however could.  He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords and as David shows us there are no hopeless situations because of the power of God.  

Thursday -Psalm 18

David faced many battles and many struggles in his life.  He dealt with the lion and the bear when he was a shepherd.  He faced the giant known as Goliath.  He battled many of the Philistines.  He also had to deal with his son’s rebellion and he battled Saul, the former king who wanted him dead.  In all of those battles and struggles David relied on God.  If he would have tried to win the victory by himself, David would have been defeated.  Certainly Psalm 3 shows us that as David’s head is down and he has all but given up.  God intervened and that made all the difference in the world.  The struggle that we read about in Psalm 18 was also very extreme.  The problem was severe, David’s enemies were pursuing him and King Saul wanted him dead.  God intervened however and David writes Psalm 18 as a song of praise to God for His dynamic intervention.  In verse 18 David proclaims God is my “support”.  He isn’t saying that God is there to do everything David asks Him to do.  He isn’t saying that God is at his beck and call, instead David is saying that God has supported him and held him up.  In essence God has held him together.  Paul makes that same assertion in the New Testament when he says, “and by Him all things hold together.”  That is truly a glimpse into just how amazing God is.  He holds the universe together, He holds this world together, and in His personableness He holds us together.  He is our support.  He holds us up and holds us together.  Without Him we would fall apart.  Without Him the world would fall apart and the universe would cease to be.  God is holding all things together and thankfully “all things” includes you and me.  

Friday – Psalm 43

Many of the psalms express the struggles of humanity and how God is good to us even in our struggles.  He is our light, our shield, the lifter of our heads.  He is our support and our strength.  All of these things are certainly needed when life is hard, but in Psalm 43 the psalmist wants us to know that we don’t just need God when life is hard we need God all the time.  Psalm 43 is a psalm of struggle, where God once again vindicates the writer and delivers him, but in v. 4 the psalmist says I am coming to the altar of God in the house of God to worship because God is my exceeding joy.  God has delivered him and given him joy so he is rejoicing.  God is faithful in the hard times and the good times so he is rejoicing, but this statement goes even deeper than that, the psalmist is saying God IS MY JOY!.  When times are hard I can have joy in Jesus.  When life is normal I can have joy in Jesus.  When life is good, great and amazing, I can have joy in Jesus.  We need Him in the hard times, the normal times, and the good times.  He is always our joy.  

The PATH, Sept 1- Sept 6, 2020

THe PATH, September 1-September 6 , 2020

Theme: This week we will continue to look at the attributes of God using some of the images of  God that are presented in the Psalms.  The book of Psalms was the hymn book of the Old Testament and of the early church.  It was made up of the songs that Jesus would have sung throughout the day and in worship as well.  Because of that it shows us the beauty of who God is and gives us reasons why we should praise Him and celebrate Him.

TUESDAY – Psalm 3 (God is our shield)

David was fleeing from his son Absalom when he wrote Psalm 3.  He felt the pressure of an enemy closing in on him, but it wasn’t just any enemy, it was his son.  David knew conflict because he was the king of the country, but this is a different type of conflict.  This one is personal and this one was more than just a physical struggle.  It was also an emotional and mental struggle and it was taking its toll on David as he wrote Psalm 3.  In this song of praise however we get a wondrous description of God, He is a shield about us.  David introduces us to a very important concept, God as divine warrior.  He is our protector and as we are told in the New Testament, “if God is for us who can be against us.”  Of course that proclamation leads to a question, “how can we make sure that God is for us?”  There is only one way and that is through the blood of Jesus Christ.  If we repent of our sins and place our faith and our trust in Him, then our sins are washed away and His righteousness is imputed to us.  Because of that we go from being enemies of God to being friends of God.  God is on our side.  He is for us, as Paul says in Romans 8:31,  which means He is our shield as well.  Because God is the divine warrior nothing can separate us from His love (see Romans 8), He is our protector and He keeps us and guards us so that nothing removes us from His love.  It is an amazing thought.  David was dealing with violence and with hatred.  He was dealing with a very difficult family situation but in all of that God is his shield.  He is on David’s side and through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross He is on our side as well.  Our world may be filled with uncertainty due to all of the division within our country and due to Covid 19, but God is our shield.  In the midst of that uncertainty and in the midst of our personal struggles, He is our shield.  He covers us and nothing can take us away from His love.

WEDNESDAY- Psalm 18 (God is our Rock)

David’s life seems to be marked by conflict and struggle.  There is the battle with Goliath, there is the feud with Absalom, there are numerous other enemies and battles, and there is the jealousy of Saul and the hardship that it caused.  In Psalm 18, David is finally delivered from Saul and as he thinks about God’s goodness and God’s protection, he says “God is my Rock”.  David had had many struggles and at times his life seemed to have no stability, but as David looks back he says, “God is my rock.”  A rock is stable.  David is most likely looking at some of the rocky terrain that surrounded his residence and as he looks at these huge rocks that would have been considered immovable in his day, David says “God is my rock.”  In other words He is David’s stability and He is immovable.  David has experienced shifting political sands, he has dealt with family turmoil, he has been confronted with his own sin and his own instability, but as David looks at his life, he says God is my rock, God is my stability.  He is unchanging and immovable.  The writer of Hebrews tells us that God is the same yesterday, today and forever, which means if He was David’s stability thousands of years ago, He is our stability as well.  Our world is changing, our lives change, the people around us change, but  as Christians we have a constant in our lives. We have stability.  We have God, He is our immovable rock, so we can cling to Him within the storms that are raging and when life is changing.  He is our stability and He is always faithful.  

THURSDAY – Psalm 5 (God is our King)

We don’t know the tune of Psalm 5, but we do know that it was a psalm that was played on the flute and it was a psalm that celebrated God as king.  The irony of this is that David, the King is writing this psalm but he recognizes that he is not the real king.  He may be the earthly king of the county, but God is the King of King and Lord of Lords and because of that David, the King yields to Him.  We may sometimes fall into the trap of believing that we are the kings or queens of our own lives, that we are in control, and that we are masters of our own fate.  In reality we control very little in our own lives.  God however is in total and complete control.  How do we respond to that? We must yield to Him.  We must know that He is in control and because of that we run to Him for strength and for wisdom.  We run to Him for help and we admit our own limitations.  He is not limited at all and so we must trust Him.  He is king which means we shouldn’t be trying to live life our own way.  We shouldn’t be seeking our own will but instead we should seek to yield our will to the will of God.   After all knowing and doing His will is ultimately what matters in life.  And the good news is this, “His will is good and perfect and pleasing.”  In other words God’s will is what is best for us, so pursue His will today, after all He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

FRIDAY – Psalm 23 and Psalm 80

The most familiar image of God in the psalms is found in Psalm 23, “the Lord is my shepherd….”  This refrain is not limited to Psalm 23 however as it is also repeated in Psalm 80.  Psalm 23 is a psalm of David, whereas Psalm 80 is a psalm of Asaph.  Psalm 23 is written at an unknown time but it is a time where David is looking back on his life and celebrating the faithfulness of God.  Psalm 80 is written around 722 bc when the 10 northern tribes are carried into captivity.  They are being taken captive not because God has forgotten them, but because they have forgotten God.  God is still their shepherd.  He still wants to protect them and provide for them.  He still wants to lead them and guide them, but their hearts have grown hard and in their stubbornness they want to go their own way.  This has led to disaster and to their impending captivity.  Psalm 80 is the psalmist crying out for God to intervene and to save them, to come to their rescue even though they are “sheep that have went astray.”  When you take these two psalms together you see a very important principle and it is simply this that God is a shepherd in the good times and the bad times.  He is with us at all times of life, even when we feel as if He is silent and we are being carried into captivity.  Even in the hard times God is still good and He is still our faithful shepherd.  

SATURDAY – Psalm 7 (God is Judge)

Psalm 7 was most likely a very harsh sounding psalm, it probably had a very irregular rhythm as is shown in the title, “a shiggaion of David”.  Whatever it sounded like musically it was a song that was sung in worship, and it was written about God’s faithfulness to David even when Cush, the Benjamite brought false charges against him.  These charges had disrupted the rhythm of David’s life.  They had left him wondering and hurting and yet even in the midst of the lies, David reaches out to God to vindicate him, because of course God is the ultimate judge.  This psalm shows David running to God and asking for God to hear his cries, it shows David standing before the judge and awaiting a verdict.  There is never any doubt that God, who is a righteous judge is going to judge justly and fairly.  David knows this and that is why he runs to God for help.  God is our righteous judge today as well, which means He will judge in fairness and justice.  That sounds like good news until you realize that we are all sinners deserving of punishment.  The good news is that Jesus took the punishment in our place because of that we can stand before Him and be judged forgiven!y. 

The PATH, August 25-31, 2020

The PATH, August 25-31, 2020

Theme: This week we will continue looking at the character of God, but this time we are going to look at how that is revealed in Jesus Christ.  Jesus is the living word of God and the revealed glory of God, as we look to Him we see what God is like and we see how much we need Him.  We live in perilous and uncertain times and what we need in these times and in reality in all times is to keep our eyes on Jesus.  The hymn writer puts it this way, “Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.”

Monday – John 6 (Jesus is the Bread of life)

We have to have food to survive.  The main food in Jesus’ day in the middle east was bread.  It was widely available and people ate it at almost every meal.  It sustained the people.  In the same way Jesus sustains us.  He sustains us physically, spiritually, mentally, and emotionally.  Some people make the mistake of thinking that Jesus only sustains us spiritually, but the Bible is clear that He sustains us in all ways.  In Him “we live, we move, and we have our being.”  The Bible also says that He “holds all things together”, which means He is sustaining us in all ways.  He holds us together physically when we feel as if we are falling apart.  He gives us strength emotionally when life is hard.  Paul puts it like this, “we can have the peace of God which passes all understanding.”  He sustains us mentally by giving us wisdom especially when we ask Him for it.  And of course He does sustain us spiritually.  He saves us, He strengthens us, He keeps us from falling, and He helps us to grow.  He helps us in all ways.  He truly is the bread of life, and He gives us life both eternal and abundant.  God is good and we see His goodness on display in the bread of life.

Tuesday – John 8 (Jesus is the light of the world)

Many of us probably get up during the night and in an effort to not “wake the whole house up” we may walk around in the dark.  After all we are familiar with our homes so we can walk through them without paying a whole lot of attention.  I can remember a time when we moved the bedroom around however and when I got up to go to the bathroom I ended up in the closet.  Thankfully I realized where I was.  There have been other times that I have gotten up and wandered in the dark only to stub my toe on something or worse yet step on a lego (if you have ever done this you know the pure horror of it).  Walking in the dark can be hard.  Thankfully we don’t have to live in the dark.  Jesus is the light of the world and He shines His light into our lives to lead us and guide us on the right path.  He shines His light to keep us from stepping on things and having to deal with what the hymn writer calls, “needless pain”.  He shines His light to keep us from falling or even from stumbling.  That is why we are told in the book of Jude that “He is able to keep us from stumbling.”  He shines His light into our lives so that we won’t stumble and then He holds us up to keep us from falling.  We desperately need His light.  Which means that we are limited.  We are not the masters of our own fate, we are not able to make right decisions, we cannot hold ourselves up and keep ourselves from stumbling.  We need Jesus’ light, we need His wisdom, which means we daily need His presence.  Fortunately we have it because He is promised that “He is with us always.”

Wednesday – John 10 (The door of the sheep)

Have you ever been outside in a storm?  You thought it was a nice sunny day and you went outside but all of a sudden a violent storm blew up.  What did you do? Most likely you ran into your house.  You run through the door for safety.  That happens a lot in the Bible.  Noah and his family ran into the ark for safety.  Rahab and her family were told to run into the house when the Israelites came into the land and they would be safe.  After Jesus’ ascended into heaven the early church hid behind closed doors so that they would be safe.  You run behind the door for safety.  David certainly has that image in mind when he says in Psalm 32:7, “you are my hiding place; you protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.”  David had sinned and in his guilt he tried to hide from God, when he realizes that he can’t and he repents he then hides IN God.  God is his shelter.  That is what Jesus is talking about.  He is our shelter.  First and foremost we run to Him in repentance and then we hide in Him because of our sins.  After we have that relationship with Him we can run to Him in all things.  When life is hard,  when the waves come crashing in, when the storms are raging, when it feels like you are in a battle.  Run to Jesus.  He is the door.  He is our rock of safety.  He is the only way to have a relationship with the Father.  He truly is the door to eternal life.

Thursday – John 11 (Jesus is the resurrection and the life)

Jesus was raised from the dead! That is worth celebrating! In fact it is the greatest news in the world.  But it is not the end of the news.  Jesus is raised from the dead and He is alive!  He is alive now and forevermore and because of that we who are in Christ can live as well.  We can truly live in the here and now but when we get to the end of this life we will continue to live eternally.  We too will be resurrected.  Death does not have the last say.  In fact the Bible makes it abundantly clear in Isaiah 25, “death will be destroyed forever and God Himself will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”  Through Jesus we have life now and through Him we will live eternally.  Through Jesus death is destroyed and it will never be again.  God does many wonderful things for us.  He created us, He provides for us, He gives us people to love and to be loved by, He blesses us in so many ways, but one of the greatest ways is that He destroys death.  He is the resurrection! Which means He has power even over death and one day death will be destroyed forever.  That is why we can have peace in this life, because we know that no matter what we have life eternally.  

Friday – John 10 (Jesus is the Good Shepherd)

A shepherd’s job in Biblical times was to simply care for the sheep.  He protected them, He provided for them, when they were hurt He took them in His arms and cared for them.  That is what Jesus does for us.  He protects us, first and foremost from the wrath of the Father.  We are all sinners and sin will always be punished.  On the cross of Calvary, Jesus took our sins upon Himself and when He did He endured the wrath of the Father.  So Jesus protects us from that wrath.  He took it so we don’t have to.  Sin is either punished on the back of Jesus on the cross, or it will be punished in hell.  If we are found in Jesus, the Good Shepherd, He protects us by taking the punishment for us.  

Of course He protects us each and every day in 1000 ways that we cannot see.  Why? Because He is the Good Shepherd and as the good shepherd.  HE also provides for us.  He gives us every good thing that we have.  All those things come from the providing hand of the Good Shepherd and when we need wisdom, He says we can come to Him and ask and He will even provide that for us.  

He is the Good Shepherd which also means that when we are hurting, Jesus takes us in His arms and cares for us.  He loves us that much, so let us celebrate the Good Shepherd today.  Let us bask in His love, let us be thankful for His protection and guidance, and let us truly remember a time in which we were hurting and He took us in His arms and cared for us.  

The PATH, August 17-23, 2020

The PATH, August 17-23, 2020

Theme:  CS Lewis once said, “what a man thinks about God is the most important thing about that man.”  I believe that he is correct and so for the next few weeks I want us to spend some time studying the names of God that are revealed to us in the Bible.  Biblically many times a person’s name reflected their character and this is certainly true with the names of God.  When I was younger I remember my home pastor preached a series of messages on the names of God.  The names were extremely comforting to me then and certainly we need that comfort in the world that we live in.  

Monday – Psalm 23 (Jehovah Raah – The Lord is my Shepherd – Psalm 23:1)

How many of you have ever eaten cornflakes?  They are good and good for you (at least we are told).  We have eaten them so many times however that perhaps we don’t really appreciate how good they are.  Because of that the Kellog company released a commercial a few years ago that talked about CornFlakes and then added the tag line, “taste them again for the first time.”  We may have that same response to the 23rd Psalm.  We have heard it so much that perhaps when we hear it we just glide through it.  Maybe we need to hear it as if we were hearing it for the first time so that we might be encouraged and inspired by what it tells us about our God.  The first declaration that it makes is, “the Lord is my Shepherd I shall not want.”  God is the shepherd and we are the sheep.  He provides for us, He guides us, He protects us.  Jesus picks up on this imagery in the New Testament when He says, “I am the Good Shepherd.”  This is an amazing claim as He is saying that He is God.  He is the God of Psalm 23, He is the Shepherd and because of Him we are never in want.  That too is an amazing statement isn’t it?  We will never be in want?  Theologian Fredrick Beuchner puts it this way, “The Lord is my shepherd.  I shall not want.  Is that true? There are lots of things that we want.  Maybe some material things but also things like good health, things like happiness for our children, things like being understood and appreciated, things like relief from pain, like inner peace for ourselves and the people that we love.  Believers and unbelievers alike want a lot of things.  We long for things that never seem to come.  We pray for things that don’t seem to be answered.  But just maybe the psalmist is telling us the truth.  Maybe what he means is if we keep our eyes open, if we keep our hearts and our lives open, we will never be in want of the one thing that we want more than anything else.   Maybe it means that whatever else God gives us that He always gives us Himself and He is what we want and need more than anything else.”  Take time today to simply be in the presence of the Shepherd.  The one who you need more than anything else.

Tuesday – Ezekiel 48 (Jehovah Shammah – The Lord is There – Ezekiel 48:35)

The people of God are building the city of Jerusalem but interestingly enough the name of the city is never mentioned.  The reason for that is God is going to give the city a new name, it is going to be named Jehovah Shammah, or “The Lord is There”.  God is the God of the city.  He is in the city.  Ezekiel had experienced the horror earlier of seeing the glory of God depart from the temple.  Then he had the assurance of seeing the glory return, now in this new name for the temple he has the promise that God will remain in the city.  He is not going to come and go, He will always be there.  What a blessed thought, this certainly points forward to heaven where God is continually and when we are in our heavenly home we will continually be in the presence of God.  That means that we will have continual joy because in His presence there is joy.  But I think we would be limiting this Scripture if we limited it to just heaven and the Kingdom of God.  Jesus after all picks up on this imagery when He says that He will never leave us or forsake us.  In other words God is there with us.  We need to realize that everyday.  God is here and through Him we can have peace, joy and hope even in the here and now.  This should cause us to rejoice but it also should cause us to pray.  We should pray that the presence of God would be felt in our homes, in our church, and in our lives.  We should pray that the presence of God would be felt in our communities, in our nation, and in our world.  After all God’s presence is what we need and what our world needs more than anything else.  

Wednesday – Jeremiah 23 (Jehovah Tsidkenu – The Lord Our Righteousness 23:6)

Righteousness is a word that is used a lot in the Bible but it may be one that we don’t think a lot about, however we should.  When we hear the word righteousness we might think about someone who is self righteous and has a negative connotation to it, but in reality the word righteous is nothing but positive.  The word righteousness means “cleansed, just, right, equitable, and fair.”  Jeremiah makes the assertion that the Lord is our righteousness which means that we cannot be cleansed on our own.  We cannot be just or right on our own.  We are not equitable or fair on our own. On our own we are lost or as the New Testament puts it we are dead in our trespasses and sins.  This verse is a reminder of how much we truly need Jesus.  We may try to cleanse ourselves but we can’t.  We may try to be good people but we are going to fall short.  We might even try to work our way to God but we can’t get there.  The only way that we can have a relationship with God is to be righteous, and the only way that we can be righteous is through the blood of Jesus Christ.  We are righteous only when we put our faith and our trust in Him.  He is our righteousness.  He is our cleansing.  He is our salvation.  He is our only hope.  When we place our faith and our trust in Jesus, He takes our sins and gives us His righteousness.  It is the most unfair trade in the history of the world.  HE gives us His righteousness so He is our righteousness.  Celebrate that today.  Get your mind off of Covid, off of politics, off of your own personal struggles and what ifs and just simply celebrate today that if you have placed your faith in Jesus, that He has washed your sins away and He has made you righteous!

Thursday – Exodus 31 (Jehovah Mekoddishkem – The Lord who sanctifies you, Exodus 31:13)

Righteousness and sanctification go hand in hand, so even though Exodus 31 and Jeremiah 23 are separated by hundreds of years their ideas are the same.  This shows the continuity of God.  It shows us that God is the same yesterday, today and forever.  God is the one who makes us righteous and God is the one who sanctifies us.  The word sanctification means to consecrate or to cleanse.  It means to dedicate and to purify.  It means to make holy and to make whole.  God takes us and dedicates us as a people for Himself.  He purifies us and cleanses us.  He make us holy and the only way that happens is through His blood on the cross.  All of this makes us whole.  Let that sink in for a minute, we are not complete with a relationship with God, but when He sanctifies us through His death on the cross He makes us whole and He makes us holy.  What an amazing God we serve.  We aren’t holy through our own actions, but we are holy through what Jesus has done.  When we put our faith and our trust in Him we are cleansed and purified.  We become His holy people and we become complete.  Jesus is what makes us complete, not our earthly relationships or the things we have.  Those relationships and things may be good and we should be thankful for them, but they don’t complete us, only Jesus can do that.  After all He made us to have a relationship with Him and as every name of God shows we need that relationship more than we need anything else.  

Friday – Genesis 22 (Jehovah Jireh – The Lord my provider, Genesis 22:13-14)

We know the story Abraham and Isaac.  We know how God stepped in and provided a ram for the sacrifice.  We know how this story points us to Jesus and how it also calls us to obedience.  It is one of the most important stories in all of Scripture and it reminds us of the wonderful truth that God provides for us all we need.  He is our shepherd and provides us with a relationship with Himself.  He provides us righteousness through His blood on the cross.  He provides us with holiness and He makes us whole.  He provides us with His presence and then gives us the wonderful promise that He will never leave us or forsake us.  This is how good God is, He provides us with all that we need and He takes care of our greatest need which is to have a relationship with Him.  The Lord is our Provider.  He provided the sacrifice for Abraham and He provides for us through the sacrifice of His son.  God is that good and we need to praise Him for His goodness and His grace.  We need to thank Him for Jesus!

The PATH, August 3-9, 2020

The PATH, August 3-9, 2020

Theme: This week we will continue looking at the majesty of God.  This time we will use Psalms 42 and 43 to see what they teach us about God’s power and His glory!

Monday – Psalm 42:1-8

Several months ago we experienced a terrible storm that left us without power for a few hours.  The two youngest boys panicked because they weren’t used to dealing with the darkness without any electricity.  We decided that we would go and drive around to pass the time until the power came back on.  Since that time every time it gets cloudy Isaac asks, “daddy is it going to storm?”  Most of the time I’m able to assure him and tell him that it’s just clouds and that they will quickly pass.  Sometimes however I can’t tell him that because I know that the storm is getting ready to be raging.  What do I do then? I just simply assure him that we are going to be okay.  I tell them that most likely the electricity isn’t going to go out and that if it does it will come back on and we will be okay.  Thankfully the last few storms have come through at night and they have slept right through them.  They were at peace in the storm.  How? They know that they are loved and that they are secure.  In Psalm 42 the psalmist is going through a storm, and he knows that he is in the middle of the storm.  It is raging all around him, but God keeps him from panicking because he sends his faithful love during the day and gives him a song at night.  He turns to God in worship and in prayer and when he does he finds the peace that he needs.  Peace in the midst of a raging storm.  I would say to you that we certainly need that today.  Life in 2020 seems to be one constant storm, but even as the thunder rolls we can find peace and assurance in the love and faithfulness of God.  He is our security and when we turn to Him we can experience His love in the day and be given a song in the night.  That is how good God is.

Tuesday – Psalm 42:1-9

The psalmist is much like us, one minute he feels close to God and the next he feels alone.  He goes from celebrating God’s faithful love and the fact that HE gives him a song in the night to saying, “oh God, my rock why have you forgotten about me?”   The stark contrast between v. 8 and v. 9 is almost unbelievable, until you realize that many times we live exactly that same way.  One minute we are close to God and we are trusting Him, the next we are wondering why He ha s forsaken us.  One minute we are celebrating His goodness and singing songs of worship to Him even in the darkness and the next we are looking at our circumstances and wondering why God has left us.  The good news is that even when we feel that God has forgotten about us, He really hasn’t.  He is still faithful.  The psalmist proves his own statement here, he says, “The Lord will send His faithful love…..” and God does just that when the psalmist looks to Him and lifts us “a prayer to the God of my life,” and God sends His faithful love even when the psalmist has turned away and is overcome by his circumstances.  He may be asking why God has left him, but the reality is God hasn’t left him, God is still there.  God is faithful no matter what.  He is faithful no matter the circumstances of life, and He is faithful when we put our hope in Him AND when we are overwhelmed by our circumstances.  Great is God’s faithfulness!

Wednesday – Psalm 42:9-10

The psalmist reminds himself here of the faithfulness of God, and we would certainly do well to do the same.  In verse 9 he says, “My adversaries taunt me,” they are tormenting him and mocking him by saying, “where is your God?”  His enemies are asking if God is real and if God is so good why doesn’t God rescue you? Why doesn’t He step in and do something? And I’m sure that that very question has run through the psalmist’s mind.  But then in v. 10 he undergoes a transformation, from “woah is me, how terrible things are” to “I’m going to trust in God no matter what.”

What made the difference? Simply put in v. 10 he has reminded himself of the faithfulness of God.  We would do well to do the same.  We need to remind ourselves of the Gospel, we need to remind ourselves of the love of God, and when things get overwhelming in life we need to run to the faithfulness of God.  After all God is good ALL the TIME!

Thursday- Psalm 43

Psalm 43 in many ways seems to be Psalm 42, part 2.  In both psalms the psalmist is struggling.  In both psalms he is at the point of being overwhelmed, and in both psalms he has to remind himself of the love and power of God.  When he does that his hope is restored.  We live in a world where even though our circumstances are different than Psalm 42 and Psalm 43, it is still easy to lose hope.  We can get overwhelmed with the bad news.  We can get swallowed up by social media.  We can quickly give in to despair.  We can be overwhelmed.  What should we do when life brings us to that point? The same thing that the psalmist does in Psalm 42 and Psalm 43 run to God in prayer, and bow before Him in worship.  The psalmist is in exile in both of these psalms, he can’t get into the house of God but that doesn’t keep him for praying and that doesn’t keep him from worshipping.  In fact look what he prays in v. 3, “send me your light and your truth and let them lead me.  Let them bring me to your holy mountain.”  That would be a great prayer for us to pray in our world today.  God we need your guidance, so send us your light and your truth to lead us and guide us.  Let them guide us to worship.  Like the psalmist we haven’t been able to get inside the house of God but that shouldn’t keep us from worshipping, in fact it should drive us to worship.  It should remind us that God is worthy of worship, not just on Sunday at church but each and every day and in fact every moment of our lives.  So cry out to Him the way the psalmist did, “God let your light and your truth lead us, and God help us to remember to worship, wherever we are and in whatever circumstance we find ourselves in.”

Friday – Psalm 43

The Bible is filled up with bold statements and that is certainly the case in Psalm 43:4, as the psalmist says, God is my greatest joy.  Could we truthfully make that same statement? Is our relationship with God our greatest joy.  Jesus says that “in His presence there is fullness of joy,” so we know that our relationship with God should be our greatest joy, but the question remains, “is He our greatest joy?”  We find joy in a lot of things.  We find joy as we gather with family and friends, as well we should.  We find joy in leisure and some of us find joy in sports.  We find joy in going to a nice restaurant and we find joy in many other places.  A lot of those things have been interrupted over the past few months, but our joy should not be interrupted, because we still have the beauty of our relationship with Jesus.  Nothing can separate us from His love, which means that even in these unprecedented and uncertain times we still should have joy.  After all Jesus is with us and in His presence there is fullness of joy.  So we should be joyful in God no matter what.  To put it another way He should ALWAYS be our greatest joy!