SHOW ME THE WAY! – PSALM 119:105-112

Human beings need direction. The Lord gives us clear directions for living in his holy Word.

Following God’s Word helps us find our way in life!

God’s Word functions like a GPS, which tells us how to get to our destination. The Bible tells us where to go, which turns to take and corrects us when we get off track. We could call the Bible our SPS, a spiritual positioning system!
 
In Psalm 119:105-112 we see that following God’s Word shows us how to live life according to God’s plan.
We live in a day and age of moral and spiritual ambiguity. Our world has blurred the distinction between right and wrong. Few people believe in absolute truth. But God’s Word shows us right from wrong; it tells us about Jesus and his plan of salvation. He is the “way, the truth and the life” (from John 14:6)
 
We also read that following God’s Word preserves our lives and beckons us to higher ground.  In vs.107 the author wrote, “I have suffered much”. We don’t know the nature of his sufferings, just the extent. Have you suffered much in your life? God’s Word can preserve our life and faith in the midst of our sufferings. God can use our sufferings to build his kingdom. God’s Word beckons us to higher ground. It challenges our tendency to wallow in self-pity; it calls us to live our lives for the Lord and not ourselves.
 
Finally, following God’s Word fills us with joy and determination to live a godly life. The psalmist referred to God’s statutes as “the joy of my heart” (vs.111). When we obey God’s statutes and live according to his plan, joy will often manifest itself.
 
In what ways do you need to follow God’s Word? Do you need to witness to a non-Christian friend? Start tithing? Forgive an enemy? God help us to follow God’s Word as we live our lives!!


IT’S NOT A BORING, OLD BOOK! – HEBREWS 4:11-12

Did you know that the Bible can live within you?  The author of Hebrews states, “For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (vs. 12)

We read the “word of God is living and active”.  This means that the instructions, stories, and teachings of God’s holy word can and should affect our behavior, speech, decisions,  plans relationships, etc.   Does the Bible affect your behavior, speech, decisions, plans and relationships?

The Word of God should also penetrate our hearts.  We read, “it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow”.  God’s Word has the power to pierce through all of our pride, pretense, excuses, stubbornness, etc.  God’s Word has the power to change us from within. It can affect our motives, intentions, thoughts, and deep feelings.  When our innermost being has changed, this will improve our outward behaviors.

Finally, the Word of God can reveal our sin and judge us.  Note the last part of the verse: “it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart”.  Perhaps you’ve been far too concerned about money recently, to the point that it has become an idol to you.  One day you read in the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus said, “No one can serve two masters.  Either he will hate the one and love the other or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.  You cannot serve both God and Money” (Matthew 6:24).

After reading this text in your quiet time, you feel very convicted.  You get on your knees and confess your sin of idol worship to the Lord. God’s powerful Word can live within us.  Allow the Bible, the Word of God to live within you. God’s Word can help shape you into being the man or woman God intends for you to be.


CAN WE TRUST THE BIBLE? – 2 TIMOTHY 3:14-17

We can count on the trustworthiness and authority of the Bible because God inspired it and has preserved it over the ages!

We live in a day and age in which many people question the trustworthiness and authority of the Bible.  Unfortunately, lots of misinformation about the Bible has been disseminated on the internet through a variety of sources. Be cautious about what you read on the internet!

Paul tells Timothy that “ All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness”. 

“God-breathed” means that God inspired human authors to write the words of scripture.  God inspired human authors to write His words in cooperation with their own unique style, personality and gifts.  Paul tells us “All Scripture is God-breathed”.  Read all 66 books of the Bible with this understanding!  Many people seek to lop off sections or verses of the Bible with which they disagree.  The cults have a heyday twisting, ignoring, subtracting or adding to the scriptures to achieve their own selfish ends.

First, since God inspired the Bible, it has great power! The Bible has the power to transform lives. We experience the power of transformation as we obey the Word of God. God didn’t give us His written Word simply for information; He gave it for transformation!  So, strive to obey the Bible.

Second, since God inspired the Bible, it has great profit.  It makes us wise unto salvation (vs. 15) and it is “useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness”.

Third, since God inspired the Bible it has a wonderful purpose. In vs.17 Paul highlights the purpose: “so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work”.  God has inspired the Bible to help us know Him by faith and do good works!  Jesus wants all of us to be doers of the Word, not simply hearers or students. Strive to put your faith into practice!



’OPEN OUR EYES LORD’ – Luke 24:13-35

Have you ever been on a journey and suddenly realized that Jesus is with you?

For the disciples on the road to Emmaus that first Easter Sunday, this was their reality. They have set off to home from Jerusalem, a seven mile journey, dejected and downcast as they feel their world has come to an end. Jesus has been dead for three days and it would seem all their hope for the future has died with Him.

The disciples do not expect the resurrection and they do not even recognize the risen Christ when he begins to journey alongside them. When we struggle with unmet expectations and the depression that can come along with them, we can find ourselves in the same position. However, the great overcomer, Jesus Christ, at those moments comes especially close to us.

Our prayer needs to be ‘open our eyes Lord’ to recognize, not only His presence with us, but the plan He has for our lives in all times and situations. Jesus is waiting for all such invitations and is willing to stop His journey and abide with us, revealing Himself in word and action.

When our eyes are opened, let us take the example of those early disciples and gather together to share Jesus, praise him and then reach out, in His love, to those whose eyes are currently closed. Take time this week to seek Jesus in His word, invite Him into your home and share your encounters with Him with others.



HE IS RISEN! – LUKE 24:1-12

We read in this text the most powerful words in human history:  “He is not here; he has risen!” (Luke 24:6a).   Jesus wasn’t in the tomb because he had risen from the dead!   By rising from the dead, Jesus gave us the gift of eternal life.

Note the angel’s exact words:  “He is not here; he has risen!”  The word “here” indicates spatial reality; it indicates space and time.   It means that a bodily resurrection took place.  If Jesus had simply been raised as a spiritual being, the angel would have said, “he is everywhere”.

Why is it significant that Jesus rose bodily from the grave?  First, because that’s what actually happened!   Second, it honors and affirms Jesus’ full humanity and divinity.   This means that we too will experience a resurrection of our soul and body.   Our bodies will rise with Christ when he returns for his second coming.   What else does Jesus’ bodily resurrection mean for us?

First, it means that Jesus spoke truthfully!   In vs.6-7 the angels recall the words Jesus had spoken about his crucifixion and resurrection.  Jesus told his disciples on numerous occasions that he would die and be raised to life.  When it finally happened, the events confirmed what he told them.  Second, Jesus bodily resurrection means we can avoid the fear of death.  We don’t have to afraid of dying because we will be ushered into a much better situation in heaven. Heaven features a life in which there is no pain, suffering, illness, darkness and the everlasting presence of God!   Why would we be afraid to enter such a place?   Finally, Jesus’ bodily resurrection means we too will live eternally!

Our life in heaven will not end!  Hallelujah!

In order to receive this gift of eternal life we must receive it.  Have you received the gift of eternal life?   We receive this gift by receiving the gift of salvation in Christ.   This involves acknowledging that we have sinned and confessing our sin to the Lord, believing Christ died on the cross for our sins and committing to following Jesus as Lord of our lives.  If you have never taken these steps, please do so!   You can pray right this very minute to receive Christ and his gift of eternal life!   This Easter will mean so much more to you if you have received Jesus’ gift of eternal life.



JESUS, YOU ARE MY KING! – ZECHARIAH 9:9-13

Zechariah spoke eloquently of Jesus, the coming King.  He spoke to Jews who had returned from exile in Babylon about 500 years before Christ.

Zechariah spoke of Jesus’ character in vs.9-10 “See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.  I will take away the chariots from Ephraim and the war horses from Jerusalem and the battle bow will be broken”.  
Jesus exemplified all of the traits mentioned in these two verses: righteousness, having salvation, gentleness, and humility and power.

Zechariah also wrote of Jesus’ conduct: “He will proclaim peace to the nations, His rule will extend from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth”.

Jesus proclaimed peace and He came to be our peace.  Further, Jesus rules over the earth!  Note how Zechariah says “His rule will extend from sea to sea”.  It’s exciting to see this prophecy coming true in our lifetime! Thousands of churches are being started everyday across the globe; millions of people turning to Christ, the scriptures being translated into more and more languages!

Since Christ came to be our King, what should our response be? We should live a life of joy! Zechariah said, “Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion!  Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem!  See, your King comes to you”.  Second, we should live a life of freedom!  Zechariah wrote in vs.11 “As for you, because of the blood of my covenant with you, I will free your prisoners from the waterless pit”.

Water often refers to life in the Bible; so “a waterless pit” means something lifeless and dead.

Do you feel lifeless and dead today?   Your joy might be constrained.  You might feel bound by something you haven’t yet identified.  It could be that someone close to you has hurt you and your hurt has transitioned into anger and hatred!  Or, your financial investments have become an obsession which binds you.  Jesus can set you free!

Finally, live a life of blessing.  Zechariah refers to God blessing the people in vs.12.  Coming as our king 2000 years ago, Jesus blessed his people and He wants to bless us today.  Be open to receiving God’s blessings in your life!



TRUSTING GOD IN THE HARD TIMES – ACTS 27:9-44

Are you struggling with a difficulty or hardship in your life?  Perhaps you have a financial problem that seems insurmountable.  Or, you are having some real challenges with one of your kids.  Your marriage might be going through a difficult period of time and you’ve been fighting a lot with your spouse.

We learn from our text today that we

should keep trusting God when difficulties in life occur.

God wants to help you!  He cares deeply about you and your well-being. Jesus told us in Matthew 11:28-30 “Come to me, all who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light”.

In our text, Luke describes a storm battered journey.  Roman guards were taking the Apostle Paul to Rome on a large ship. When the storm hit, many of the sailors and men on board thought they would die.  But an angel visited Paul and told him that everyone would live.  The men threw cargo overboard and tied ropes under the vessel to keep it from breaking apart. These common sense measures helped considerably.  But Paul was also open to God’s guidance and He received it!  We learn from Paul’s example that we too must use common sense but also be open to God’s guidance when hardships strike.

Second, we should keep up our courage and good cheer!  In vs.25 Paul told the men on board the ship,

“So, keep up your courage, men for I have faith in God that it will happen just as told me”.

 Imagine being battered and blown about by a huge storm.  You can’t eat because you would surely get sick.  You wonder if the ship will stay afloat.  Paul has the audacity to tell you to keep up your courage!  But that’s what he did.  As we experience the storms of life, we should keep up our courage and good cheer!

Finally, exercise faith in God.  Paul did!  Believe that God will help you endure your storm or help you find a way out of it. Whatever storm you’re experiencing today, keep trusting God! Use common sense and God’s guidance to deal with it, keep up your courage and good cheer and exercise faith in God.



THE FEAR OF LOSING A LOVED ONE – LUKE 7:11-17

In our text Jesus observed a funeral procession in the town of Nain. A man had died, the only son of a widow.  Jesus quickly evaluated the situation, calmed the woman’s fears of losing her only son and used his divine power to restore the man to life!  Clearly, Jesus calmed the woman’s fears.

As we consider the fear of losing a loved one, whether it’s a spouse, child or good friend, we can invite Jesus right into our fear.

The very presence of Jesus in the tender area of our heart can calm our fear!  As we experience the presence of Jesus by his Holy Spirit, our trust in the Lord for our loved ones will grow.

As we invite Jesus into our fear, we can give up control of our loved ones.  The woman in the text knew she didn’t have control over her son.  She didn’t get to make the decision regarding his life.  Only God could make that decision.  The same holds true for us.  We do not own our loved ones; God does.

As we invite Jesus into our fear we can grant Jesus a prominent place in dealing with our fear. Luke stressed the active role Jesus played in the account.  Jesus’ name or the pronoun referring to him occurs more than references to the man who died or his mother combined.  

Jesus acted with compassion as he raised the man from the dead.

Finally, celebrate Jesus’ power over death!  Remember that Jesus has conquered death. He has overcome it!  We don’t have to be afraid.  Whatever fear you carry today, invite Jesus right into your fear; He can overcome it with his wonderful presence and power!



RESOLVING CONFLICT WITH YOUR SPOUSE – Colossians 3:8-10,13-15

Every married couple experiences times of conflict. We can mitigate these experiences of conflict by learning to communicate graciously with our spouse. Good communication involves much more than talking and listening. It involves a process of sharing information or feelings with another person in such a way that he or she understands the message you’re trying to communicate.

Gracious communication with our spouse includes communicating honor and respect! Paul tells us we “must get rid of anger, rage, malice (hateful feelings), slander (insults) filthy language (shameful speaking)” (Col 3:8) Communicating honor and respect involves getting rid of these negative communication traits. Further, gracious communication includes communicating tolerance and forgiveness. Paul writes in vs.13 “bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you”.

Note the phrase “bear with”. It is literally, “hold yourselves back from one another”. When something your spouse did or said makes you upset, give her/him some space! Demonstrate tolerance! The big challenge is to forgive “as the Lord forgave you”. Wow! Finally, communicating graciously means communicating love and commitment. Paul writes, “and over all these virtues put on love.”(vs.14).

Cultivate your love for your spouse. Look for ways you can build more love into your marriage. Of course, one key way to do this is by striving to communicate graciously in a consistent manner. May God help all of us who are married to improve in this area of gracious communication!



BLUE CHIP SHEPHERDS – 1 PETER 5:1-9

Peter directs his comments to church elders. In the Presbyterian church we have two kinds of elders: teaching elders who are also called “Pastors” and ruling elders. In our local church we have two teaching elders and twelve ruling elders serving on our Session. Once you are ordained as a teaching or ruling elder you are ordained for life. However, we have term limits. Our ruling elders can serve a three year term and be elected to another three year term and then they must go off the Session for at least one year.

In this section of scripture, Peter gives instructions to elders. He tells us that we must be good shepherds of God’s people. First, Peter counsels us to care deeply for the people of the church. We do this by serving as overseers, who exercise care and set a godly example for the flock to emulate. Second, we “clothe yourselves with humility(vs.5b)

As Jesus demonstrated humility by wrapping a towel around his waist and washing his disciples feet in John 13, so our lives and leadership should also be characterized by humility. Finally, good elders are aware of and resist the Evil One. The Evil One loves to stimulate division in congregations, discourage church leaders and operate in a very deceitful and insidious way. We leaders must be constantly alert and aware of the devil’s activity and schemes! God has blessed our local church with faithful, godly and humble elders. They are a joy to work with and serve alongside in ministry! Pray for your elders! They use their spiritual gifts of leadership and faith.

The Apostle Paul wrote to the Thessalonian church…

“Now we ask you brothers, to respect those who work hard among you, who are over you in the Lord and who admonish you. Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work.” 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13