The PATH, March 22-28, 2021

The PATH, March 22-28, 2021

Theme: This week as we continue to draw closer to Easter we will focus on growing in our knowledge of God.  It has been said that the most important thing about a person is what that person thinks about Almighty God.  With that being said we need to make sure that what we believe about God is from His word, so that we will be right in our beliefs.  Right belief shapes our thinking and should also shape our actions and even our attitudes. 

Monday – Exodus 33 (focus v. 18)

Moses’ passionate plea here is that God would show him His glory.  Moses wants to see who God is.  As one commentator puts it, “Moses wants an intimate knowledge of God Himself.”  He has seen God’s power, he has received God’s promises, and he has been assured of God’s presence (v. 14) but Moses wants something more.  He wants to know the person of God, because Moses knows that when he truly sees that he will be changed.  He will be filled with  a lasting sense of wonder and awe and will be filled up with a lasting satisfaction.  I can’t help but wonder as I read Moses’ words what our lives would look like if that was our prayer for each day.  Certainly if we got just a glimpse of God’s glory we would grow in faith and trust, we would worry less about the things of the world, and we would be more apt to stand strong against temptation.  What kind of difference would it make if we prayed that for our worship services?  If when we gathered together we gathered not just for the routine of it, but if we gathered longing to get a glimpse of who God is.  It would change us, it would empower us and we would see people hunger for things of God which would lead to people coming to know Jesus as their Lord and Savior.  Moses’ prayer may be 1000s upon 1000s of years old but it is a prayer that would be life changing and maybe even culture changing as well.

Tuesday – Leviticus 19 (focus v. 2)

Leviticus can be a very difficult book to read, after all it is filled up with all sorts of laws and regulations concerning a variety of things that we don’t think a lot about.  In fact many times we might read Leviticus and come away saying “what is the point”?  The point is simply the holiness of God.  God is holy.  That is why there were all of those laws and regulations given so that people could approach God.  Today we are made holy and can approach God through the blood of Jesus Christ thankfully.  Yet God is the same yesterday, today and forever, so God is still holy.  We may not spend a lot of time thinking about God’s holiness, but we should.  Yes the Bible makes it abundantly clear that God is a God of love, but it also reiterates time and time again that God is holy.  That means that He is separate.  He is not like us.  He is without sin or blemish in any way, and in His holiness He calls us to be holy as well.  How can we be holy? We are made holy first and foremost though the blood of Jesus Christ.  We are holy because His blood has washed our sins away and we are Holy because His Spirit imputes His righteousness to us.  In other words we are just holy because our sins are forgiven, we are holy because of that AND the fact that Jesus’ righteousness is credited to our account.  Because of that we should make every effort to live in all Godliness and righteousness.  Because we are declared positionally holy we should make every effort to live in practical holiness.  This happens when we pray, when we read God’s word, when we repent of our sins and when we cry out to Him for help.  We cannot stay away from sin on our own, we cannot do the right thing on our own, but we can through the power of God.  God calls us to be holy, and then makes us holy through the blood of His son and then empowers us to live holy through His Holy Spirit.  So even as we see the holiness of God, we also see God’s goodness and grace.  Ask Him today to help you walk in holiness as you follow Him.

Wednesday – Job 19 (focus verse 25)

We all know that Job’s life had been filled with unbelievable pain and unspeakable struggle, yet here he triumphantly proclaims, “I know that my Redeemer lives.”  In other words life has been unbearable, but I know that God is still God and I know that God is still good.  He is my redeemer.  The essence of redemption is “the recovery of that which is lost” and “the liberation of that which is bound.”  One person says “to say that God is our redeemer is to say that God is capable of restoring what has been lost.”  It is to say that God can restore relationships, that God can restore our missed opportunities and that one day God will restore this world.  Saying that God is our Redeemer also means that God has liberated us from what enslaves us .  God sets us free from the sins and fears that enslave us.  Jesus purchased us out of slavery and set us free.  He Redeemed us and one day He will further redeem us by restoring all the things that sin has destroyed.  Because of that we ought to joyfully proclaim even as Job did that “our Redeemer lives!”  Pray today and ask God to show you how He is working each and every day toward that redemption.  Ask Him to help you trust that He is working for your good and for His glory at all times  

Thursday – Zechariah 4 (focus verse 6) 

The reader is told here that the rebuilding of the temple will occur not through might or power, but through the Spirit of God.  The word that is used therefore might or power means substance, wealth or even military force.  God is saying I’m going to rebuild my temple but it’s not going to happen through the things of the world or even through the power of the people of the world.  He says I’m going to rebuild my temple through my Spirit.  The people of God had a problem because the temple was destroyed. God says I’m going to fix the problem, not through the things of the world but through the power of My Spirit.  I can’t help but wonder when I read these words how our lives would be different if we relied on the Spirit of God instead of trying to fix our problems ourselves.  What about if we relied on the power of God to build (and even rebuild, after Covid) His church?  If we truly realized that problems were solved by the power of God and that the church was built and rebuilt by the power of God we would spend time crying out to Him for help and for strength.  In fact we would cry out to Him with passion and with purpose instead of wasting our energy trying to do it ourselves.  God is good and we need to put that belief into action by calling on Him, and trusting Him for the results.

Friday – Romans 5 (focus v. 1-2)

God’s grace is on full display in Romans 5.  Paul proclaims here that the grace of God reconciles us to God (v. 10).  This grace is not given to us based on our own merits or accomplishments but totally on God’s goodness alone (Ephesians 1:6).  This grace doesn’t just save us and then leave us however, this grace gives us the power DAILY to walk with God and do the things that God calls us to do (1 Corinthians 15:10)  No wonder the hymn writer says, “Amazing Grace”.  God’s grace truly sets us free, we no longer have to live to earn God’s favor, but now because of  Jesus we can live everyday knowing that we are loved by God and because of that we can live our lives in gratitude wanting to glorify God because of all God has done for us.  We aren’t trying to earn salvation, but instead we are living and loving because we have been given salvation!  God saves us through His grace and empowers us through that grace as well.  We don’t have to earn salvation and we don’t have to live out our faith on our own.  God in His grace gives us the ability to follow Him.   Again it is an absolutely amazing grace.  Find some time today to read through Romans 5 and Ephesians 1 and be thankful for God’s amazing grace.  You might even want to get a copy (if you need it) of the hymn “Amazing Grace” and spend some time reading it or singing it.  Let the truth of the words hit you and realize that it is all about the grace of God!


March 8-14, 2021

The PATH, March 8-14, 2021

Theme: This week we will look at God’s call on our lives to be people of hope.  We live in a world that is filled with hopelessness and despair.  This is obvious when you pay attention to people as many are full of dread and gloom.  We however as followers of Christ should be different.  We should be full of joy, peace and hope.  How does this happen? Where is our hope found? Perhaps the old hymn says it best, “my hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.”  Jesus is our hope!

Monday – Romans 12 (focus on verse 12)

“Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.”  Romans 12:12 is one of those nice sounding verses that we tend to read quickly and don’t really pay a lot of attention to, however when we pay attention and break it down we find that it both comforts us and challenges us.  First the challenge, as it tells us to be patient in tribulation.  Most of us aren’t very patient people.  After all patience is hard, we live in the world of the immediate, where we want what we want when we want it, and we don’t like to wait.  We get impatient waiting on food in drive thrus, waiting on a parking place at Wal-Mart, and waiting on a friend to respond to a text.  We are impatient people, so patience goes against the grain of our lives.  However Paul’s call to the church is not to just be patient but to patient even in tribulation.  He is saying that as followers of Christ we should not only be patient when our hamburger takes a little longer than we expected but also when life gets hard.  We should be patient when we don’t feel well, when we are confused about life, and when we are struggling with decisions.  We should be patient when people have hurt us or have done us wrong.  Be patient in tribulation.  This is an extremely hard calling.  It challenges us beyond our ability.  We can’t be patient in our own strength, so be where can we find the ability to be patient in tribulation?  Go forward in the verse, as it tells us to “be constant in prayer”.  If you want to have the ability to be patient even in times of tribulation you have to be constant in prayer.  If you stay connected to Jesus, Jesus will give you the ability to be patient even when the storms of life are raging.  Go backwards in the verse as well, “rejoice in hope”.  The more time you spend rejoicing and being thankful the more patience you will have.  Where does your rejoicing come from? It comes from your hope.  Your hope in Jesus causes you to rejoice and be glad, and that bolsters your patience.  The challenge is real – be patient in tribulation, but the comfort is real is well.  God gives us the ability to be patient as we pray to Him and cry out to Him, and He strengthens our patience as we rejoice in the hope that we have in Him.  God calls us to be patient and then gives us the ability to do it.  That is the goodness of the Father!

Tuesday – Romans 15 (focus on verse 13) defines the word “abound” as “to be rich or well supplied, or to be filled.”  Paul says that through the power of the Holy Spirit we can “abound” in hope.  The word picture in the Greek language is of a well furnished house.  The Holy Spirit sets us residence in our lives and furnishes us with hope.  Through Him we are well supplied and filled.  Our hope does not come from the things of the world, or from ourselves.  It does not come from what we can do or from what we have.  Our home comes from believing (Romans 15:13) in Jesus Christ and from His Holy Spirit taking up residence in our lives.  This fills us with joy and peace and we abound in  hope.  When you abound, your cup overflows, so what Paul is saying is the Holy Spirit sets up residence in our lives, He fills us up with hope to where it overflows into the lives of other people.  

Wednesday – 1 Peter 1 (focus verse 3)

Peter tells the church that we bless God (meaning we praise Him and glorify Him) because He has saved us and has given us a living hope.  Where does this living hope come from? It comes from the fact that Jesus has been resurrected from the dead.  If Jesus is still in a tomb somewhere in the middle east then we truthfully have no hope.  Because He is alive however we truly have hope, and it is not just any hope, but it is a living hope.  It is hope that is alive and is transformative.  Because Jesus is alive everything has changed.  We can now rejoice in life’s struggles and  we can now display patience in life’s hard situations.  Because Jesus is alive we have a living hope that gives us joy and peace.  Because Jesus is alive our hope is not stale and stagnant but it is living and it flows from us into the lives of other people.  The resurrection of Jesus Christ truly does change everything!

Thursday – Romans 15 (focus verse 4)

Again Romans 15:4 is one of those verses that we read through fairly quickly, but we need to stop and linger on it.  We need to pay attention to what it says, “through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”  Paul is saying here that the Scriptures give us endurance in the midst of life’s struggles and that as we endure life’s struggles we find more hope.  Hope and endurance leads to more hope.  Also Paul is saying that as we read the Scriptures that the Scriptures will give us hope.  How does that happen? First it reminds us of Jesus and His power and love.  The Bible tells the old, old story of Jesus and His love and we are given hope when we contemplate the love of God.  The Holy Spirit also speaks to us through the Holy Scriptures and this gives us hope and encouragement.  The Bible also convicts us of our sins and leads us to repentance.  This means that we are turning away from the sinful things of the world that rob us of hope and turning to the living God who gives us hope.  The Bible also gives us hope because it reminds us of the Sovereignty of God and that God is working in all situations.  It also gives us hope because it shows us what God has done and it reminds us of what God is going to do.  We may think we are too busy to read the word of God, or that we may not understand it when we read it, but we need to make sure that we are reading it because if we aren’t we are robbing ourselves of hope.

Friday – Psalm 71 (focus verse 14)

Feelings can come and go.  Sometimes we may feel God’s presence and other times we may not, but  the reality of faith is that God is there all the time.  Sometimes we may feel more hopeful than others, but the psalmist lets us know that our hope does not waver, but that we have a continual hope.  This is extremely important because the point that it is making is this, there are times you may not feel like you have hope, but even then you do.  Your hope does not change, it does not run our, it does not end.  Whether we feel hopeful or not, our hope is continual and everlasting.  Because of that we should live everyday in faith, rejoicing in hope, and resting in the certainty of our hope whether we feel it or feel like it or not.  

The PATH, February 22-28, 2021

The PATH, February 22-28th, 2021

Theme:  This week we will look at one of God’s great gifts to us and it is the gift of prayer.  Many times we think of prayer as something that  we have to do or something that we do when life is hard and seemingly out of control, but in reality, prayer is a privilege and it is something that we should willingly engage in.  It is a privilege to go to God’s throne of grace and be able to talk to the creator of the universe. We will spend a lot of our time this week looking at Daniel’s prayer life during a time in which it was illegal to pray.

Monday – Daniel 6:1-13

Most of them are familiar with the story.  The governors in the Babylonian kingdom were jealous of Daniel and because of that they tried to find fault with him.  They were unable to do so because Daniel was a man of integrity, but then they devised a plan to make prayer illegal so that Daniel would be caught praying and thrown into the lion’s den.  Their plan of course worked and David spent the night in a den of lions but God protected him, and delivered him from harm.  

Even though the governor’s used Daniel’s dedication to God against him, it should cause us to sit up and take notice.  They knew that the only way to catch Daniel was in regards to his relationship with God.  He was obviously known as a God follower and he was obviously known as a person of prayer.  So what can we learn from Daniel about prayer? The first thing I would say is that he prayed because his faith was real and personal.  Some scholars believe that Daniel had a prayer chamber built on top of his house with the windows permanently opened toward Jerusalem.  They believe that he went there 3 times a day and in an act of faith knelt in prayer and cried out to God.  His faith led him to action and in this case that action was to pray.  

Our faith should lead us to pray as well.  James points out that when we are suffering, we should pray.  When we are sick we should pray and that we should pray for one another.  He also says that when we are experiencing joy we ought to give God praise.  In other words going to God in prayer or in praise should be a natural part of our lives.  It should be something that we do at all times because it grows out of a living faith, and that faith motivates us to pray.

Tuesday – Daniel 6:1-13

David Jeremiah rightly says that Daniel’s dedication to pray 3 times a day shows Daniel’s piety or his commitment to God.  He could have prayed silently or he could have shut the doors so that no one knew what he was doing but he continued to go into his prayer room and kneel in prayer.  It wasn’t convenient and it wasn’t easy but Daniel still prayed.  He had to, his faith had to talk to the God that he loved.  He wasn’t just praying to get out of a hard situation, in fact by praying Daniel was putting himself into a hard situation, but he still prayed.  His relationship with God was that important to Him.  Prayer must be more than going through the motions it has to be something born out of our dedication to God and our love for Him.  Because we love Him we want to talk with Him and be in His presence. 

Wednesday – Daniel 6:1-13

Have you ever wondered what Daniel prayed? What was so important that he would risk his life?  We don’t have a copy of Daniel’s prayer but we do have a hint of what he prayed in Daniel 6:11.  When his enemies caught him kneeling in his prayer room the Bible says that he was “praying and making supplications.”  This lets us know that Daniel was doing more than just going through the motions.  He was as one scholar put it, “praying prayers that were specific, applicable and passionate.”  I wonder if people would say the same thing about our prayers.  Are we dedicated to pray? When we pray are we just going through the motions? Again we shouldn’t be because as the hymn says, “what a privilege it is to carry everything to God in prayer.”  Our prayers, like Daniel’s, should be specific and they should be passionate.  We should pray about things going on in our own lives and in the lives of people around us.  Like Daniel we should be devoted to pray because we love our Father that much.

Thursday – Daniel 6:1-13

One of the dangers in reading passages that we are familiar with is that we just fly through it and don’t pay attention.  After all we have heard it and read it before so we think we know it.  When we do that however we may miss some extremely important things.  I have read Daniel 6 countless times but the truth of verse 10 didn’t really jump out at me.  When you read verse 10 however it says that Daniel knew that the king’s edict was signed.  He knew what would happen to him if he prayed and he prayed anyway.  We know that part and we certainly should pay attention to it because it shows us just how great Daniel’s dedication to God was.  It is the next part that we may not have noticed, Daniel went in and knelt in prayer and he “gave thanks”.  In other words Daniel knew the situation, he knew the difficulty, he knew what could happen to him and he gave thanks anyway.  This is a powerful example for us.  We need to be much about our Father’s business regardless of the circumstances that we find ourselves in and this includes giving Him praise.  We praise Him and give Him thanks because He is worthy regardless of what is going on in our lives.  When we take time to praise Him everyday it also motivates us to do the right thing no matter what.  I would also say that it empowers us to be people of integrity as it did Daniel, and on a practical level when we take time to be thankful even in the hard times and on the bad days we will find a joy that we didn’t know before.  So when you pray pour out your hearts to God and remember to take time to be thankful as well.

Friday – Hebrews 4:16

Daniel was devoted to God and that devotion showed in his commitment to prayer.  You and I today should have a greater devotion and a greater commitment because of what Jesus has done for us on the cross.  Daniel knew about the coming Messiah, he knew about the promise of forgiveness and about the promise of a kingdom.  We however know who the Messiah is, we have experienced His forgiveness and we are a part of His kingdom.  This should be all the motivation that we need to be committed to pray.  The writer of Hebrews adds something else however as he tells us that “we can come boldly before God’s throne of grace.”  This is only possible through the blood of Jesus.  When Jesus died on the cross, the curtain that separated people from the most holy place of the temple was torn in two from TOP TO rBOTTOM.  The Father tore it because our sins had been paid for once and for all.  Now we can go directly into the most holy place and commune with the Father.  We can go into His presence regardless of where we are or what kind of circumstance we find ourselves in.  So let us celebrate the cross by making prayer a priority and seize the opportunity that we have to come boldly before God’s throne of grace!

The PATH, January 31-February 6, 2021

The PATH, January 31-February 6, 2021

Theme: This week we will look at God’s calling to us to be active in service.  David Jeremiah rightly says, “Christian service is grounded in a prior commitment to serve God.  Claiming to serve God without serving others is hollow; serving others without first serving God is uninformed.  All service is based upon our identity as bearers of the image of God.”  We serve because we were created in His image and we serve others because they are also created in His image.

Monday – Isaiah 6

Isaiah 6 is a very well known and well loved passage of Scripture and rightly so.  In it Isaiah is overwhelmed by the circumstances of life.  The king has just died and Isaiah has no idea what the future holds for his nation or for himself.  He is overwhelmed and God meets him with grace.  God gives Isaiah a vision of His power and His majesty so that Isaiah will see who truly is in control and know who the real king truly is.  When Isaiah gets a glimpse of God’s greatness, he says he is undone, which means that he is simply blown away by God’s power and goodness.  This leads Isaiah to repent and after he repents, God asks a question, “whom shall I send and who will go for us?”  God isn’t really asking a question but instead he is issuing an invitation to Isaiah to get involved in service.  Isaiah has repented of his sins and put his faith in God, now the logical progression of faith says that Isaiah should get involved in service.  Isaiah accepts God’s invitation with the enthusiastic, “here am I! Send me!”  Once Isaiah sees God’s glory and repents Isaiah is eager to serve.  He is excited to get involved, after all look how much God had done for him.  God had given him the assurance that He was in control.  He had let Isaiah know that he was loved and He had taken away Isaiah’s sins.  Because of that Isaiah wants to serve.  

Isaiah could have made excuses.  He could have said this isn’t a good time after all the circumstances are hard right now.  Or he could have said, “send where?” “What am I going to be doing?”  Yet he didn’t make excuses and he didn’t ask questions, he just joyfully said “Here am I Lord, use me.”  We should certainly be inspired by Isaiah’s example.  God take me and use me.  I’m not going to make excuses, I’m not going to wait for a better time, I’m  simply going to trust and say, “here am I God use me.”

Tuesday – Matthew 5

Serving is not easy and to be honest sometimes we simply don’t want to serve.  It takes time, it takes energy, it takes effort, and that is on the good days.  Some days we would say we simply can’t do it.  That is just a half truth however, for in reality we can’t do it on our own even on our best days.  We can’t serve without the power of God, we can’t serve without His Spirit.  We can’t love without His love.   We must have Him and be empowered by Him.  Especially when you realize this life changing truth that is given in Matthew 5:38 and down to the end of the chapter, we are called to serve and love those people who are our enemies.  Why? Why would God ask us to do something like that? The simple answer is because they too are created in the image of God.  We are called to serve our neighbors, our families, our friends, our church family, and our enemies.  In other words we don’t get to choose whom we serve.  We as followers of Christ are to be “much about the Father’s business”, which means we are to serve and serve with love and enthusiasm.  We are to serve people, because people whether they agree with us or even like us are created in the image of God.  Sometimes our service will not be welcomed or accepted, but that is ok, God says “love them anyway!”  May we do that and get active in service for the glory of God.

Wednesday – Mark 10

Do you have a life mission? Do you have a reason for living? Does your life have purpose and meaning?  Jesus’ did.  He had a reason for living which was to bring glory to the Father and because He lived that way, His life certainly had a purpose and it had meaning.  Here in Mark 10:45, Jesus gives us His life mission, “for even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”  Jesus says to His disciples, “I came to be a servant.”  Isaiah of course had prophesied this years earlier as he wrote about “the suffering servant”.  Jesus came to be a servant.  He came to love people and to serve them.  He came to serve, and if we are His followers we should be willing to serve as well.  In fact we should be asking God everyday “how can we serve?” How can we make a difference? How can we serve  our families? How can we serve our friends? How can we serve our church family? How can we get involved and serve at church? How can we reach out to others and point people to Jesus? Who needs His love? Who needs to know they are cared about? Who can we serve for God’s glory?

Thursday – Philippians 2

Philippians 2 we are told is one of the hymns of the early church.  We don’t know the notes, and we don’t know the tune.  We aren’t even sure what kind of instrument it would have been played on, or if it would have just been sung acapella, but we do know the message and the message is that we should love others, and look out for their interests even above our own because that is precisely what Jesus did.  He willingly sacrificed His rights and came to this earth to serve.  He chose to empty Himself and take the form of a serve.  He chose to obey the Father and willingly went to the cross.  He chose to put our needs above His own.  Why? For the glory of the Father and because He loved us that much.  When Paul thinks about this glorious truth he can’t help but tell the church that they too are called to be servants.  If they are going to be like Jesus they have to be devoted to and passionate about loving other people.  We have to humble ourselves before God, rely on His power and strength, and in humility serve others.  It is what we as people, as families, and as a church are called to do.

Friday – Colossians 3

Paul lets us know here the why of service.  We don’t serve to magnify ourselves or for ourselves.  We don’t serve to just make others feel better, we don’t serve to make ourselves feel better.  Certainly when we serve we hopefully do help others and as we serve it might even make us feel good, yet those aren’t the primary reasons that we serve.  The primary reason that we serve is to glorify the Father.  Verse 23 gives us a good prescription for life, “whatever you do, work heartily as for the Lord and not for men.”  When you serve you are serving the Lord and you are serving for His glory.  (Of course Paul doesn’t limit that thought to just service, no he says “whatever you do.”  So when you go to work, when you are at home, when you are at church, when you are participating in your hobbies, or when you are resting, do them all for the Lord).  We are to live for Him and for His glory, so certainly as we serve we are to serve Him and serve for His glory.  That means we serve however He calls us too.  It means we serve regardless of the circumstances of life.  It means that we serve whether we feel like it or not.  The reality is we should prioritize serving God in our lives and we should serve Him in everything that we do, as we live for His glory!

The PATH, January 18-24, 2020

The PATH, January 18-24, 2020

Theme: This week we will look at one of the most neglected blessings of Christianity, the fellowship of the local church.  The psalmist says that “God sets the lonely in families, ” which means that God gives us the privilege to belong to the family of God!

Monday – John 17:20-26

Whenever we read the Bible we are standing on holy ground.  All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable to teach us more about God, but there is something special about John 17.  It is not more valuable than the other Scriptures but it is special because in it Jesus is praying.  We get to sit in and listen as God the Son talks to God the Father and what makes this prayer even more amazing is that Jesus is praying for us in this prayer.  He prays that we would be one and that we would know His love and share His love. That is a great description of the church.  We are to know His love and we are to share His love through evangelism and reaching out to those who are lost and hurting.  Once we know the love of Jesus we are not supposed to keep it to ourselves, we are to make it known.  We are also supposed to show Christ’s love to one another within the church as well.  In fact we are told that we are “to be one”.  That doesn’t mean that we compromise truth for the sake of unity, but it does mean that we don’t let things like personal presences and selfish actions get in the way of us loving one another and having true fellowship.  True fellowship is so important that we are to lay aside these things so that we can effectively follow Jesus and love one another.  True fellowship is so important that Jesus prayed about it when He prayed for us. 

Tuesday – Acts 2:42-47

The early church was making a difference in a world that wanted nothing to do with Christianity and in fact was hostile to it.  That simple fact ought to make us ask the question “how”? Because in reality many of the people in our culture want nothing to do with Christianity and in fact they are hostile to it. So how was the early church able to make such a difference? The Scripture tells us when it says, “they devoted themselves to the Apostle’s teaching, to fellowship, to breaking of bread and to prayer.”  The early church was devoted to remembering what Jesus did (breaking of bread), they were passionate about Bible study and prayer, and they were devoted to one another and to coming together for true fellowship.  One person while observing the early church said, “my how they love one another!”  He later decided to follow Jesus because of it.  Love makes all the difference so let us truly love one another.

Wednesday- 1 John 1

Here John says “if we walk in the light…….we have fellowship with one another.”  If we follow Jesus and live in His light then we truly can have fellowship with one another.  Fellowship is not a word that we use often outside of the church, but inside of the church we use it alot. We have fellowship dinners, fellowship halls and times of fellowship. Some churches even have fellowship classes and a handshaking time where they extend “the right hand of fellowship.”  True fellowship however is much deeper than those things. It carries with it the idea of oneness so when one member hurts all hurt or when one rejoices, all rejoice.  That is what True fellowship is and it makes a difference in the world. True fellowship happens as we walk in the light, in other words we can only have True fellowship when we are walking with Jesus.  After all His love truly enables us to love one another.

Thursday – 2 Corinthians 8

Paul writes to the church at Corinth here and gives us a wondrous picture of the church being the church.  The  churches of Macedonia gave to help provide for the relief of the saints.  They gave to help others’ needs.  We as the church are certainly called to help one another but this doesn’t always have to be financially.  We help through prayer, through giving certainly, but also through listening and reminding one another of the beauty of the Gospel.  We help one another through modeling Christ like behavior as well.  We help one another through the power of God for the glory of God.

Friday – Hebrews 10

The writer of Hebrews tells the church that they are to consider how to stir one another up to love and good works and that we are to encourage one another.  The church should be the most encouraging place in the world. It should be the place that we long to go in times of difficulty.  The family of God should be a support system for us in times of grief and struggle.  However if the church is to be the encouraging organism that it is called to be we have to be serious about encouraging one another.  We have to be deliberate about lifting one another up and loving one another.  The writer also says “don’t give up meeting together.”  It seems that he is saying that one way we encourage one another is simply by attending church. In other words it might just encourage someone to see you at church on Sundays.  Take time to seize those opportunities and let’s love and encourage one another as we go throughout 2021.  

The PATH, Jan-11-17, 2020

The PATH, January 11-17, 2020

Theme:  A new year always brings with its share of challenges and opportunities.  It brings good days and bad days.  In fact days can go from good to bad to good again, or vice versa.  Each day is new, but there is one constant in a new year (and a new day) and that is the presence of God.  He has promised to never leave us or forsake us and that makes all the difference in how we live.  Because of the promise of the presence of God we can now live with hope.  

Monday – 2 Chronicles 5

God had always been with His people.  He had brought them out of Egypt, He had given them the 10 commandments and He had won numerous victories for them on the fields of battle.  He had even led them with a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night.  Now that the people of God were becoming a more settled people they wanted to build a temple where they could go and worship Him.  The temple is nearing its completion in 2 Chronicles 5 and many of the relics from David’s reign and the victories that were won during that time were being put into the temple.  It would serve as a visible reminder of God’s faithfulness and His goodness to His people.  The temple proclaimed the good news of God’s majesty and goodness to His people.  And yet the good news stretched beyond the temple as God continued to be with His people all the time, not just when they met inside the temple.  That good news continues today as God is with us at all times.  In fact we need to live with the realization that God’s presence is always with us.  This will change how we live as it will enable us to live with hope, knowing that God is always there.  It gives us stability and an anchor in life, knowing that God is always there, and it also shapes the people that we are and it should motivate us to stay away from the sins of the world, knowing that God is always there. 

God’s presence is continually with us as we go throughout this new year.  He is the constant when everything seems different or changing.  He is our anchor point and as Paul says, “He holds us together.”  Celebrate God’s presence today.  Know that He is with you and live with hope and joy because of that.  Let that fact change you and motivate you to live for His glory.  Let that amazing promise shape you and let it motivate you to worship, to be thankful each and every day but also to make worship with the body of Christ a priority as well.

Tuesday – Job 23

This is certainly a difficult chapter to read as Job contemplates God’s works and the things that He has done and has allowed.  Job says basically God is always there and for that I’m thankful, but there are some things that don’t make sense to me.  He says God does what God wants to do and I simply have to trust Him even when what He does doesn’t seem to make sense.  Verse 13 says “God is unique”, what Job is saying there is that God is wholly other, there is no one like Him and because of that we cannot fully understand Him.  Certainly He does as Job says “whatever He wants and desires.”  Because of that realization Job says I am terrified and not just terrified but terrified of God.  Job is scared because He realizes that God is so much greater than Him and because of that Job cannot put Him in a box.  Job now has a holy reverence for God and the greatness of God.  We would do well to have that today as well.  Yes we can run to God as our Father, and yes He is the friend that sticks closer than a brother, but He is also the God of the universe.  He is in total control and we need to understand that and have a holy reverence for Him.  We can only come to Him because He may be a way for us to do so, so we come to Him on His terms and even when we don’t understand Him (as Job didn’t) we trust Him, and we know that He is always with us.

Wednesday – Psalm 16

Psalm 16 is beautiful in tone and filled with hope.  It tells us about God’s faithfulness and the victory that comes through the Messiah.  It tells us that because God is always with us that we should not be moved (v. 8)  In other words we can stand strong because of the presence of God.  Verse 9 even tells us that we can live rejoicing and we can live with hope because God is always with us.  He will not forget us, He will deliver us, and He is faithful to us (v. 10).  David even says “you will not allow your Holy One to see corruption” in verse 10.  This is prophetic to Jesus, who died but who did not stay in the grave, but up from the grave He arose.  Because of God’s faithfulness that is seen through the person of Jesus Christ we can have joy.  David in fact says we can have fullness of joy in God’s presence.  This is a promise that we experience joy now when we spend time in the presence of God.  It is a reminder that we can have joy everyday of our lives because God’s presence is continually with us.  But it is also a forward looking passage that says in heaven, in the kingdom of God we will have “fullness of joy” because then we will be fully in His Presence and fully aware of His presence.  We can rejoice everyday because of God’s faithfulness and because of the promise of God’s kingdom which means there is always light at the end of the tunnel.

Thursday – Psalm 121

Psalm 121 lets us know that God does not sleep or slumber but that He keeps watch over His children.  He is continually with us and He is continually watching us and watching over us.  What an amazing Father.  The psalmist says, “I will lift up my eyes to the hills – from where comes my help? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.”   Let that sink in.  The God of this universe willingly watches over you.  He chooses to care about you and to love you.  He also chooses to help you.  The God of this universe, the one who created heaven and earth helps you.  Don’t get overwhelmed by what goes on on this earth but instead trust the one who made the earth.  He helps you, He loves you and He is always with you.  Simply trust Him and don’t be dismayed.

Friday – Matthew 1

Matthew 1 is a passage of Scripture that we usually read at Christmastime.  It contains the genealogy of Jesus and then tells us about His birth.  So why should we read Matthew 1, this Christmas passage of Scripture when we are 343 days (49 weeks) from Christmas? Because of the glorious promise that we are given in verse 23.  It is a promise that tells us who Jesus is, He is Emmanuel, which means “God is with us.”  Whatever we face in 2021, whether good, bad or in between there will be one constant, God will be with us.  There is reason to live with rejoicing hope because of that!

The PATH, January 4-10, 2021

The PATH, January 4-10, 2020

Theme: When we turn the calendar on a New Year we are faced with excitement and perhaps anxiety at what the New Year will hold.  After 2020 many were eager to turn the page and run quickly into 2021, but what will 2021 be like? What circumstances will we face in this New Year, what challenges will we overcome?  What victories will we celebrate? These are all questions worth considering and things that are especially worth praying about because as we pray we will be reminded that we are dependent on God and that no matter what occurs this year God will be with us.  Because of that fact and because of God’s might and majesty we can approach 2021 with a spirit of hope, knowing that we are loved by God, that He is in control and that nothing can separate us from His love.

 Monday – 2 Chronicles 7

One of the biggest words in the dictionary is the word “if”.  Here the Biblical author uses it to remind God’s people of their responsibility to repent, and to cry out to God in faith.  2 Chronicles 7:14 has become a very familiar Scripture to us, “if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will heal from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”  Theologians will discuss and debate whether this promise applies to us today.  It was definitely a very specific calling and promise to the people of Israel during the time that it was written.  Their land was suffering because the people had turned away from God and God had left them to their own desires.  God now graciously called them to repent and change and He gave them the promise of forgiveness and healing.  

Many would say that this promise is then not meant for us, that God is not obligated to send healing to our land if we repent.  I would agree that God is not obligated to do so, but I do believe if we repent He will forgive us and I do believe that if we repent and follow Him that our land (and our own lives) will be much better off.  This passage then becomes a reminder to us as God’s people of how we are to live our lives.  We are to repent daily, we are to humble ourselves before Him everyday, we are to seek His face and pray everyday, and we are to follow Him everyday.  When we do those things God offers us forgiveness and grace.  When we do those things our lives will be what they were created to be and we will become a blessing to the world.  When we do those things God will certainly turn “our land” around because we are living for His glory.  The interesting thing about this verse to me is it doesn’t talk about the world at all.  It doesn’t say if the people of the world will turn to God then God will do this, instead it says if God’s people will repent and pray and seek His face then God will work.  In other words it doesn’t start with those outside of the church, it starts with those inside.  So may we realize that it starts with us and may we live accordingly.

Tuesday – Psalm 42

This psalm seems very poetic as the psalmist writes about his longing for God.  He used to go to the temple and worship and he used to join with the multitudes in shouts of praise.  He remembers it well but because of the exile in the Old Testament he is not able to get to the house of God anymore.  The reality is however he could still worship, he could still pray, he could still rejoice in the Lord and seek God’s face, yet he doesn’t and he reaps the consequences of it.  Verse 5 would tells us that he is downcast and his mind is in turmoil.  Why? Because he has chosen to ignore the presence of God.  God’s presence was not limited to the temple but he lived as though it was because of that he is emotionally spent.  In verse 6 however he remembers the Lord and his hope is restored.  

His words are thousands of years old, but they are extremely relevant to us today.  If we want to live with hope, if we want to overcome the negativity of our circumstances, if we want to rise above being downcast we must remember the Lord, each and every day, not just when we are in the house of God for worship, but when we are in our homes, when we are in our cars, when we are at work or when we are at play.  We must remember the Lord at all times, because God is good and He is the source of our strength, and our hope.  

Wednesday- Matthew 6

Jesus’ disciples ask Him about prayer in this passage and Jesus of course responds to them by giving them the Lord’s Prayer.  However before He teaches them the way to pray, He teachess them how to pray.  He tells them to pray in secret.  This is not a prohibition against praying out loud in church or in prayer gatherings, but it is a warning about praying to be seen by people. After all when you pray you aren’t praying to people you are praying to God.  So Jesus encourages His disciples to pray in secret, which would also mean to pray with sincerity.  If you are praying in secret, you have to truly believe in the power of the God that you are praying to.   Jesus calls us to do that numerous times in this passage of Scripture and then He gives us this promise in v. 6, “and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”  Many times we probably gloss over that promise and don’t pay attention to it, but we should pay attention because God is promising us that He will reward us when we pray with sincerity.  We aren’t told what the reward will be, but perhaps it is hope.  When we cry out to God and are sincere when we do so, certainly God will give us hope.  Hope in knowing that we are loved and hope in knowing that God is in control and that He is working all things together for good.  When we sincerely pray, God will give us hope.  So as we go into a New Year let us have a renewed focus on prayer, and let us pray with sincerity so that we can live with hope!

Thursday – 1 Timothy 2

Prayer gives us hope and when Paul writes to Timothy he of course talks about prayer.  He in fact tells Timothy that he wants people to pray and to lift up holy hands in worship (v. 8).  This would be a normal desire of someone who was a pastor or church planter as Paul was, however he doesn’t just say I want people to worship and pray, he also says and I want them to do it without anger or quarreling.  His words are a reminder that our faith must impact our lives.  If we are praying and worshipping we should love other people.  When do we get angry? Many times it is when we are offended.  So Paul is saying that because of our faith we should love people and not be offended.  That is great advice as we go into a new year, in the midst of a culture that loves to be offended.  We as Christians are called to live differently, to not be offended by others, but to love them and live not to have our own way, but to live for the glory of God.

Friday – James 1

“If anyone lacks wisdom, let him ask God who gives generously to all without reproach and it will be given to Him.”  These words remind me of an old hymn that says, “beautiful words, wonderful words, wonderful words of life,” because they are life giving words.  God promises us His wisdom if we just ask.  We need His wisdom to deal with all that life throws at us and certainly as we go into 2021 we need God’s wisdom and help.  The wonderful thing about our Savior is that He promises to give it to us.  He will give us His wisdom and His help, if we just cry out to Him.  When we cry out to Him we are showing that we are dependent on Him and that we need Him.  In His grace He gives us the wisdom that we need for life.  So make it a priority this year to cry out to God in prayer and specifically to pray for wisdom, after all He promises to give it to us!

The PATH, Dec 28- January 3, 2020

The PATH, December 28-January 3, 2021

Theme: Christmas 2020 has come to a close and we are on the verge of a brand new year.  What will this year hold and how should we live in 2021?  These are questions certainly worth asking and worth praying about.  This week as we think about those questions we will look at the reasons that Jesus came into this world and as we do that, His word can certainly show us how we are to live each and everyday.

Monday – Mark 10

Mark makes the declaration in Mark 10:45, that “the Son of man came not to be served but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many.”  Jesus came into this world to serve us by ransoming us.  The question is why do we need to be ransomed?  One commentator puts it this way, “we sold ourselves into sin and because of that we have been alienated from a holy God.  When Jesus gave His life as a ransom, He set us free.  He delivered us from our slavemasters: our sin, death, and the devil.”  Now because of Jesus those things have no claim on us.  We no longer have to give into sin.  It has no claim over us.  We will all die but we will be raised to eternal life.  Death therefore is defeated, it has no claim over us.  The devil has been defeated as well and he has no claim on us.  We are ransomed by the blood of Jesus.  Paul says Jesus ransomed us and redeemed us so that “we might receive  adoption as sons.”  We sold ourselves into sin but Jesus ransomed us and set us free and then He took us into His own family.  Because the son of man gave His life as a ransom we can now be part of the family of God.

Tuesday – Luke 5

Jesus says in Luke 5:31-32, “Jesus said to them, ‘ those who are well have no need of a physician but those who are sick; I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.’”  Once again we are told a reason for Jesus’ coming.   This time it is in His own word, “I have come to call sinners to repentance.”  

We could not ransom ourselves so Jesus ransomed us, He redeemed us.  For us to experience that redemption however we must repent and turn from our sins.  We turn from them to the true and living God.  Jesus knows this and so He calls us to repent.  We will not repent on our own.  The truth is we are happy in our sins, but Jesus knows what sin does to us and so He calls us to repent.  HE calls us to turn from our sins so that we can be forgiven and be ransomed.  He calls us to repent so that we might be redeemed and set free.  He calls us to repent of our sins and embrace His forgiveness.  We do this for salvation but it is something that we should continue doing each and everyday, not because we have to be saved everyday, but because we want to turn our own hearts to Jesus everyday.  We repent once for salvation and we repent daily to turn our hearts toward Jesus so that we might live for His glory, so that we might follow Him and stay away from sin and its destructiveness.

Wednesday – John 12

Jesus once  again tells us why He has come into this world, “I have come as light into the world.”  In other words He has come to shine the light of God into our lives.  This light shows us the way of salvation (which is only through Jesus) and this light shows us how to live each and every day.  He shines His light so that we might be saved, but once we are saved He does not leave us alone.  He continues to shine into our lives to show us how to live.  He gives us His wisdom if we just ask Him and He shows us how to live and how to stay away from sin.  His light shows us how we can truly love God and love others.  His light shows us the way to experience the fullness of life (John 10:10).  Thank God for Jesus, the light of the world!

Thursday – John 3

No discussion of why Jesus came would be complete without looking at John 3.  Verse 16 tells us that Jesus came to reveal the love of God to us so that we might have eternal life.  However we don’t need to stop reading at v. 16.  Verses 17-18 are extremely powerful as well, “for God sent not the Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.”  Jesus came to save us from divine condemnation.  In fact the Bible tells us that He does more than just save us from divine condemnation, He takes the condemnation for us.  The reality is that sin always has to be punished.  God is holy and just and He will not and cannot look past sin.  However Jesus in His grace takes our sin on the cross and takes the punishment for us.  What an amazing God we serve!

Friday – John 3

Read it again.  Read every verse again but marinate on verse 16.  Jesus came into this world as a gift from God the Father and this gift is so amazing that through Him we have another gift, the gift of eternal life.  Because of this gift we can live with hope.  Life does not end.  Death is defeated, Jesus is alive.  We live with hope because of this gift.  Hope that people that have “gone on before us” will be seen again, and hope that death does not have the last word.  We have the gift of eternal life! Thanks be to God.  

The PATH, December 21-27, 2020

The Path, December 21-27, 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 – Luke 21

Jesus is on His way to the cross in Luke 21.  He is getting ready to be betrayed and stand trial.  He is getting ready to be beaten, mocked, and crucified and He knows it.  The amazing thing is He is talking about His second coming with His disciples.  This shows that He knows He is not only going to die but be resurrected.  It shows that He knows about His ascension back into heaven and about the fact that one day He is going to return.  It shows not only that He knows but that He trusts.  He knows that He is going to suffer a horrific death on the cross but He also knows that the Father is going to vindicate Him by resurrecting Him.  His trust never wavers and He goes on to call His disciples to live with that same kind of trust in this chapter as well. 

He tells them that they are going to be persecuted and imprisoned (v. 12).  He tells them that they will be betrayed by friends and family (v. 16-17).  He tells them not to be weighed down by the things of the world (v. 34).  In other words He tells them to stand strong and be faithful even when temptations arise or persecution comes.  He is calling them to live just as He was living with full trust and obedience.  

The chapter doesn’t start that way however, it starts much more humbly with Jesus recognizing a widow who puts 2 small copper coins into the temple’s offering box.  This story seems not to be related to the rest of the chapter.  It seems to be a sweet tribute to a lady who gives what little she has to God, but in reality it is significantly more than that.  It is an object lesson.  This woman is putting her full faith and her trust in God.  She is believing that God is going to take care of her .  and provide for her.  She is a widow, she is in a place of struggle, and yet she chooses to give all that she has to God.  Not because people are watching her, not for her own glory, but to because she is living a life of faith.  She is living precisely the same way that Jesus calls His disciples to live in this chapter.  Trusting Him completely and walking in total obedience.  Jesus didn’t do things randomly.  He knew this widow was going to be where she was and He knew His disciples needed to see her.  It would serve as a visual reminder to them in the days and weeks ahead of how they were called to live.  May it serve as that reminder to us as well.

Tuesday – Luke 22

This chapter is a hard chapter to read because it shows us just how sinful we really are.  It is the chapter that reveals to us Judas’ betrayal of Jesus.  It is the chapter where we hear about Peter’s impending denial, and it is the chapter where the disciples debate who is going to be the greatest in the kingdom.  Jesus has told them He is going to the cross to die but He’s not dead yet and they are debating who is going to be in charge after Jesus is dead.  It is a sad picture.  These disciples have been with Jesus and have trusted Him for over 3 years but now they aren’t concerned with Him they are only concerned with themselves.  The ironic thing is Jesus is getting ready to go to the cross.  He is getting ready to be the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.  He is getting ready to be our Savior and the disciples are displaying just how much we need a Savior.  We may look around at others and shake our head at their sins, but in reality this chapter forces us to admit our own.  It uncomfortably makes us look at our own sinful hearts and it should lead us to cry out for forgiveness and salvation.  It should also lead us to live with thankful hearts for what Jesus has done for us on the cross.

Wednesday – Luke 23

Luke 23 tells us the story of Jesus’ trial, His beating and His crucifixion.  It also gives us two people that we haven’t met before, the thieves on each side of Jesus.  We don’t know a lot about them, but we do see their sinfulness on full display.  They are such terrible thieves that they have received the death sentence and now they are being crucified.  They both while they are dying decide to mock Jesus, but one of them has a change of heart.  He watches Jesus die, he hears Jesus cry out for the Father to forgive the ones who are crucifying Him, and he decides to trust Jesus.  In verse 42 he says to Jesus “Jesus remember me when you come into your kingdom.”  It isn’t much but it is a huge statement of faith.  He believes that the one who is being killed is going to have a kingdom.  He believes that Jesus truly is the Messiah and he trusts Him.  

Jesus then says to that thief those beautiful words, “today you will be with me in paradise.”  What a day this thief had.  He woke up in prison, he then went to a cross and died a condemned criminal, but after death he ended up in paradise.  How? Simply through the grace of God.  And that is precisely what Jesus’ grace does for us.  He delivers us from prison, He sets us free, He helps us triumph over death, and He gives us a place in His kingdom.  God’s grace truly is amazing.

Thursday – Luke 24

Jesus is crucified, dead and buried.  The betrayal is over, the trial is over, the Jesus movement seems to be over and Jesus does as well.  Death has won, until it loses.  Luke 24 gives us the beautiful picture of resurrection.  The stone is rolled away, the angels say “why do you seek the living among the dead? HE is not here, but has risen!”  

Jesus is alive and everything changes.  He has triumphed over death and sin.  The grave is defeated and Jesus is victorious.  He has defeated Satan, He has defeated sin, He has defeated death.  He is conquering King and through Him we are victorious as well.  If we are “in Christ” (as Paul says numerous times) then we are victorious over sin, Satan and even death as well.  We aren’t victorious because of us, instead we are victorious through what Jesus has done.  He truly is the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world and He is the conquering triumphant King!

Friday – Matthew 1

Merry Christmas!  Matthew 1 reminds us of what the season is all about.  Trimmed trees are nice, family gatherings  are wonderful, and seeing children’s eyes light up when they receive presents is priceless.  Singing Christmas carols is great, dreaming of a white Christmas is good, and eating turkey and roast beast is enjoyable as well, but Christmas is about so much more than that.  Christmas truly is about the birth of Jesus.  It is about Emmanuel being born.  The word Emmanuel means “God is with us”.  Christmas is Jacob’s dream coming true.  He dreamed of a ladder in Genesis 28 (maybe we should call it a prophecy instead of a dream).  This ladder reached to heaven but Jacob doesn’t climb the ladder to get to God instead God descends the ladder and comes to us.  The Scripture says the Lord stood above Jacob in Genesis 28:13.  The Hebrew word above also means beside.  Jacob is laying down sleeping with His head on a rock but God has descended the ladder and now is standing above him but is also beside him.  This is what happens at Christmas, God comes down to us.  We can’t work our way to God, we can’t ascend the ladder but God in His amazing grace and love comes to us.  He comes to show us how to live, He comes to let us know we are loved, but more than that He comes to save us and deliver us.  To God be the glory!

The PATH, December 9-13, 2020

The PATH, December 7-13, 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 – Luke 7

In this chapter we have a striking contrast between the centurion and the widow.  The centurion’s servant is very sick and he sends a delegation to Jesus to inspire Jesus to come and heal his servant.  The widow doesn’t have a servant, but she does have a son and her son has died.  She doesn’t have a delegation to send to Jesus, but she doesn’t need one, as He sees her and has compassion on her. 

The centurion’s delegation says to Jesus, “this centurion deserves having you heal his servant.  He is a good person, he loves our country, he built the synagogue.”   Jesus went with them toward the centurion’s house but when he got close to the house another delegation from the centurion came to Jesus and said, “you don’t even have to come under the centurion’s roof.  He trusts in you, if you just speak the world then his servant will be healed.”  Jesus marvels at the centurion’s great faith and he tells the crowd how great his faith is.  The second delegation turns around and goes back to the centurion’s house where they find the servant healed.  

The first delegation says the centurion deserves something good from Jesus, and then they tell Jesus why.  He is a good man, he loves our country, and he helped build the synagogue.  In other words the centurion is moral, he is patriotic and he is religious.  None of this impresses Jesus.  What does Jesus marvel at? In verse 9 He marvels at the centurion’s faith.  The point is clear, what matters to Jesus is simply your faith.  The man’s faith touched Jesus.

After this encounter Jesus goes to another town and when He gets to the gate He sees a funeral procession, where a woman’s only son has died.  She is also a widow and when Jesus sees her He is moved with compassion for her.  He tells her “don’t weep” and then He raises the son from the dead.  Here it is not the woman’s faith that moves Jesus but instead it is her hopelessness.  She is a widow and her son is dead.  She is truly in a hopeless situation and Jesus is moved with compassion for her.  The point is clear here as well, Jesus is not impressed when we think we deserve something, He is not impressed by our “greatness”, He is however moved when we are in despair.  When hopelessness pervades our lives it touches Jesus.  This is certainly good news.  Life knocks us down and causes despair and pain.  The good news is that Jesus cares.  He will act and He will have compassion, not because of our goodness but because of the trust that we have in Him.

Tuesday – Luke 8

Luke 8 gives us a beautiful picture of who Jesus is and what His mission is.  Here He is seen being followed by the 12 disciples and a group of women who have been healed of various diseases and have had evil spirits cast out of them.  It is another reminder that Jesus cares for those who are hopeless and in despair.  He also spends time teaching His followers and the crowd who are trying to decide what to believe about Him.  Then He calms a storm and casts a demon out of a man.  He also heals a woman and raises Jarius’ daughter from the dead.  

This majestic chapter shows us who Jesus is.  He is in control of nature.  He is Lord even of the demons and He is so powerful He can raise people from the dead.  Even though He has this kind of power, He still loves those who are struggling and in despair.  He still cares about those who put their faith in Him.  He is Love personified.  

Why does Jesus do the things that He does? First and foremost for the glory of the Father.  When He loves people, He is doing so so that they will glorify the Father.  When He raises the dead and calms the storm, it is also for the glory of the Father.  When He teaches the people the truths of God it is for the glory of the Father.  Jesus’ main mission is to glorify the Father and to “seek and save those who are lost.”  So we see Him in Luke 8 engaging in a grand rescue mission.  He rescues the women from their hopelessness.  He rescues the man who is demon possessed.  He rescues the woman struggling with the issue of blood and He rescues Jarius’ daughter from death.  Jesus glorifies the Father and rescues people who are lost, hopeless and struggling.  What an awesome God we serve!

Wednesday – Luke 9

Jesus has been busy.  He has been healing and teaching.  He has been casting out demons and raising the dead.  As we have seen this is not just activity for the sake of activity.  It is activity to glorify the Father and to show people that they are loved.  In Luke 9:21-22 however Jesus shifts gear for just a little bit, as He tells His disciples that He is going to suffer and be killed at the hands of the elders, chief priests and scribes.  He is going to be raised however.  None of this would have made sense to His disciples.  Surely Jesus wasn’t going to be killed.  After all look at all the good that He is doing and everyone seems to love Him.  There is no way that He is going to be killed especially by the religious leaders of the day.  They had to think that Jesus was just giving them another strange teaching.  It made no sense.  And what was this talk of being raised? Was Jesus saying He was going to be resurrected? It didn’t make sense.  But they still trusted and they still followed.  

Today we know what Jesus was talking about the cross and about His resurrection from the grave.  He is talking about His reason for coming.  He has come not just to heal and to teach, but specifically to die for our sins.  The good news is that death will not have the last word as He will be raised from the dead.  Jesus is alive! And because of that death will not have the last word for us either.  Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!

Thursday – Luke 10

In this chapter we are given the parable of the Good Samaritan.  It is a story that we are familiar with, in which Jesus talks about a man who is robbed and beaten and in need of rescue.  He is not rescued however by the people that you assume will do the rescuing.  The priest and the Levite, typical heroes of that culture pass by and don’t rescue the man.  In fact they go out of their way to get away from him and to avoid him.  A Samaritan happens along however and he rescues the man and takes care of him.  Jesus then tells His followers to go and do likewise.

This seems to be just a beautiful story of love and compassion, but to Jesus’ jewish listeners it would have been shocking.  A Samaritan taking time to heal a man.  A Samaritan being the hero of the story.  It just shouldn’t be that way, after all Jews and Samaritans do not get along at all.  So they would have been shocked but they also would have paid attention.  Jesus ends the story by telling His listeners to “go and do likewise”.  One of the points of the story is that we should show that same type of compassion to other people.  We should be like the Good Samaritan.  However if we dig a little deeper we see that we are alot like the man laying in the ditch.  

We are hopeless.  We have been beaten and robbed by our own sin.  We can’t help ourselves and we are in effect dead.  The good news however is that the rescuer is on the way.  He rescues us and He cares for us.  He bandages us and He pays the price so that we can be healed.  This is who Jesus is.  He loves us and that love is worth celebrating!

Friday – Luke 11

 In the middle of Luke 11, Jesus tells us what it means to be truly blessed.  True blessedness comes from hearing and knowing the word of God.  True blessedness comes from keeping God’s word.  This is shocking to our ears today.  We think being blessed means being healthy and wealthy.  We think of being blessed in relation to the things of the world.  Yet Jesus says being truly blessed comes from hearing the word of God.  Being blessed means coming to church and hearing God’s word.  Being blessed means coming to Sunday School and hearing God’s word.  Being blessed means spending time reading the word of God each day.  Blessedness doesn’t end there however, a person is also truly blessed when they keep the word of God.  In others we are blessed when we hear and blessed when we do!  James tells us to not just be hearers of the word but to also be “doers of the word.”  How is that possible? We can only keep God’s word and do God’s word through the power of the Holy Spirit that lives within us.  In other words we are blessed when we have a relationship with Jesus.  We are blessed when we have a relationship with Him and when we act on that relationship.  We are blessed when we have a relationship with Jesus, when we hear His word and when we through the power of the Holy Spirit live out His word.  That is what it means to be truly blessed!