Friday, December 30, 2022

WHY Jesus Will Lead Us Where He Leads Us

 Friday, December 30, 2022

But He said to them, "Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also, because for this purpose I have come forth."  Mark 1:38


WHY Jesus Will Lead Us Where He Leads Us 

Jesus gives reaching out to people a distinct flavor of evangelism.  He does not call us to merely become another bread line for the sake of taking care of the down and out.  But He leads us to take on His purpose of proclamation of the gospel to all we minister to.  
"The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel 
to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty 
to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who 
are oppressed; to proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD."
 Luke 4:18-19

Jesus shows us the “who” . . . poor, brokenhearted, captives, blind, oppressed . . . and then He tells us the “why” . . . preach, proclaim the gospel.  Through bringing people into a relationship with Jesus Christ, He brings about healing, liberty, and recovery in their lives. 

God saw the bondage of man to sin and sought to set men free.  He saw the sorrow of man in a fallen world and longed to bring joy.  He saw the blindness of their eyes to the truth and longed to bring revelation.  We are not proclaiming a welfare gospel or life enhancement Jesus but rather we preach Christ as the Savior of sinners.  Jesus leads His followers to have a passion for the lost. 

We need to have that passion as we follow Jesus together.  We ought to desire to be confronted with the needs of people, knowing we minister to them in the name of Jesus.  It's time to proclaim the acceptable your of the LORD in our community!  

The story is told of a group of people taking a tour of the great cathedral of St. Peters in Rome.  As the tour progressed the guide presented the historical and artistic importance of the cathedral.  He spoke of the greatness of its majesty and beauty.  When the tour ended the guide asked if there were any questions.  A voice from the back of the crowd asked, "Has anyone been saved here lately?  Isn't that the reason it's here?"  

Isn't that why we are here, to proclaim the gospel to all so as to save men from their sin?  Yes it is and we who follow Jesus must make that our purpose the purpose of the one we follow, our Leader Jesus Christ.

I admit the idea of following Jesus requires so much more of you and me than merely thinking ourselves to be Christians or believers.  To follow Jesus requires I let Him be the Leader of my life.  

Anyone want to play follow the leader?  It is called discipleship.

Scripture to Claim:

"For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost."  Luke 19:10


Thursday, December 29, 2022

WHO Jesus Will Lead Us To

Thursday, December 29, 2022

Now there was a man in their synagogue with an unclean spirit. And he cried out,  Mark 1:23
But Simon's wife's mother lay sick with a fever, and they told Him about her at once.  
Then He healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons; Mark 1:34a

WHO Jesus Will Lead Us To 

When we follow Jesus wherever He leads us, we discover that He leads us not to another where but to a who. Jesus leads those who follow Him to touch the lives of people.  The plights of men and women are constantly before us as the needs of ministry grow larger.  

These first followers were led immediately to begin confronting and meeting critical needs in the lives of others when led by Jesus.  A man with deep emotional needs, a woman almost dead with a fever and many with various troubles from life.  If we fail to make people the business of Jesus we fail to follow our Leader.  Being in the way with Jesus always leads to people. 

Jesus as the Leader has a distinct purpose for each one He calls . . . "I will make you become fishers of men." He wants to make us see and feel for people as He does.  

But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd. Matthew 9:36

Jim Cymbala, pastor of the Brooklyn Tabernacles says, "You can measure your closeness to the Lord by your attitude toward men and women around you."   Jesus "yearned" to touch people. He was passionately consumed with the needs of others and He leads whoever follows Him to also "yearn" to reach out to people in their plights.  

We cannot wait to feel competent in doing the work of God.  There are not enough Bible study classes, seminars or sermons to prepare us for what the Spirit of God will do in someone ready to be the hands and voice of Jesus in our world.  Jesus says I will make you . . . I will cause you . . . to become fishers of men.  He recognized that discipleship required stepping out and following.  There is nothing that can equip us or train us like the experience of doing something.

As we follow Jesus, there is something we experience that we cannot reason with our minds or understand by study...the heart of Christ.  Have you ever been with someone who seemed to exude compassion?  The disciples were overwhelmed by the compassionate heart of their leader.  He had the incredible ability to draw out of people their pain, despair or frustration.  He saw in people what they could not see and led them to open their eyes to what was around them. 

Are we ready to take the risk of falling in line behind Jesus?  We may very well meet people far different than we have experienced before as we reach out to the world.


Scripture to Claim:

"... grant that Your bond-servants may speak Your word with all confidence, while You extend Your hand to heal, and signs and wonders take place through the name of Your holy servant Jesus."  (Acts 4:29-30)

Wednesday, December 28, 2022

Altering Our Priorities

 Wednesday, December 28, 2022 

And as He walked by the Sea of Galilee, He saw Simon and Andrew his brother casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen.  Then Jesus said to them, "Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men."  They immediately left their nets and followed Him. When He had gone a little farther from there, He saw James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, who also were in the boat mending their nets. And immediately He called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants, and went after Him . Mark 1:16-20

Peter, Andrew, James and John were by vocation fishermen as this was their regular business.  The day Jesus came calling they were busy with the ordinary things that kept them in business . . . casting or caring for their nets.  It was what they were comfortable with.  I doubt they ever dreamed of leaving the family business.  

But when Jesus came calling to be the leader of their lives all of a sudden their business was not as important.  They dropped and left their nets behind them to follow Jesus.  Following Jesus became their avocation that led them out of their comfort zone.  

Altering Our Priorities

Peter and Andrew ceased to cast their nets and began following Jesus.  James and John not only left their nets but also family ties so as to follow Jesus.  He called to them to "come after" and they "went after Him."  

 If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.  Luke 14:26-27

Comfort zones are those places we like to reside in because they offer us the ease of tradition and the easy ordinary means and methods of doing things.  We become proficient at casting and caring for the nets of our everyday lives.  But just like in the lives of Peter, James, John and Andrew, Jesus comes walking by and calls to us to follow Him to lead us out of the all too familiar comfort zones of our lives.  He longs to lead us beyond our own lives.  He longs for you and me to follow Him as our Leader. 

Can you identify where Jesus has led you that is beyond your traditional worship or service?  Maybe there are some places and people He is placing around you that He wishes to use you in a specific way to meet their needs.  Possibly, you do not feel comfortable doing that in your own power.  Don’t feel alone, neither did the disciples.

There is one common denominator in all of those who followed Jesus; they sacrificed something important in their lives.  They altered their priorities.  Each of them had to make the decision to leave something and come after Him.  Why would it be any different for us?    


Scripture to Claim:

And He said to them, "Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who will not receive many times as much at this time and in the age to come, eternal life." Luke 18:29-30


Tuesday, December 27, 2022

Looking Ahead

 Tuesday, December 27, 2022

As He was going along by the Sea of Galilee, He saw Simon and Andrew, the brother of Simon, casting a net in the sea; for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, "Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men." Immediately they left their nets and followed Him.  Mark 1:16-18

As we look toward a new year it is a good time to review our commitment to Christ.  This week we will take a look at the call He gave to His disciples to “Follow Me.”

Hey kids let's play "follow the leader!" Okay everybody wave their right hand just like I am doing. Now shake your left leg and foot like I am doing. Okay who wants to be the leader? Nope, I've decided that I still want to be the leader. Everybody walk in circles like me. Now everybody wave both arms in the air. Isn't this fun? Okay, who wants to be the leader now? Never mind, I've decided I like being the leader.  

Are we playing games when it comes to following Jesus? Let's face it.  We'd rather be leaders than followers.: S. I. McMillen, in his book "None of These Diseases," tells a story of a young woman who wanted to go to college, but her heart sank when she read the question on the application blank that asked, "Are you a leader?"  Being both honest and conscientious, she wrote, "No," and returned the application, expecting the worst.  To her surprise, she received this letter from the college: "Dear Applicant: A study of the application forms reveals that this year our college will have 1,452 new leaders.  We are accepting you because we feel it is imperative that they have at least one follower."  

We send our youth off to conferences, clubs and colleges in hopes they will come back leaders.  Leadership books are big sellers in the secular and religious bookstores to hopeful readers in hopes of improving their leadership skills.  Today even pastors, preachers and other called staff of the church are often considered for call or hire on the bases of how well they are able to lead a church into mega growth, rather than how disciplined they are to following Jesus. 

We forget that it was a small band of followers of Jesus Christ who turned the known living world of their day right side up (without Jesus we are upside down!).  The church today may not need more leaders but followers that are accessible and usable to God.  True leadership rises from the ranks of those who know how to follow and who never forget to keep following Jesus.  

"Keep looking in the road ahead and make sure Christ is there. Make sure He is walking in front of you. Keep walking with Him and then look over your shoulder and you'll find there is someone following you because you are following Christ." - Joseph Stowell  

One thing we need to bear in mind and heart is that leadership is at best temporary, whereas being a follower is a life time call.  This week we will examine what following Jesus does to our lives.

When we become a follower of Jesus, He will take us . . .  

To places we have never been before.  

To people we have never gone to before.  

For reasons we have never gone before.  

Scripture to Claim:

Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 3:13-14


Monday, December 26, 2022

Friday, December 23, 2022


Friday, December 23, 2022

When the angels had gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds began saying to one another, "Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us." So they came in a hurry and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger.  Luke 2:15-16 

Keep the Main Thing the Main Thing - FIND HIM and WORSHIP HIM
It starts with Jesus. It ends with Jesus. This is the holistic approach God had in mind for Christmas. It’s the party of the year. Entering the story of Christmas means entering this season with an overwhelming passion to worship Jesus to the fullest. The tragedy of life is that there are so many good things that force out the best. We can easily get caught up in all the shopping, parties, programs, etc…, and forget about focusing on the one thing that is most important.  And then the season is over and the opportunity is gone for another year.  

The world shows little priority to spiritual things.  We must look for the miraculous amid the mundane. We are burdened with choices of things that are not bad in themselves, but in their amount they become burdensome and oppressive. We are not rushed and pushed by things that we don’t like or want to do but by too much of a good thing.

Take Time to Think it Through
And all who heard it wondered at the things which were told them by the shepherds. 
Luke 2:18 

Meditate on the real meaning of Christmas. The Incarnation was real.  Christ’s identification was complete. His complete identification means he can save you, whatever your situation.  The baby was born to die – Savior.

His understanding and sympathy are real because he had the same type of physical body we have, and still does. This baby was the anointed one – Christ.

That baby, God’s Son, demands our complete allegiance. This baby is Lord of all - Lord.

He really did come into the world, and because of this, he really can come into your heart.

Worship Fully - Faith
The shepherds went back, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen, just as had been told them.  Luke 2:20
Keeping Christmas to ourselves will rob us of the greatest opportunity we have to discover true joy and truly have a Merry Christmas. This time of the year is perfect for sharing your faith with your family.  

·      The whole reason for the season is found in the birth of Christ.  

·      Faith” not only means trusting, the word is also used to define what we believe.

·      Our beliefs should describe who we are. 

Have you allowed Christmas to make a positive difference in your life?  Do you return to work after the holidays, praising God for the gift of his Son and rejoicing in a merry Christmas? Real worship changes all of our life.

O come, let us worship and bow down, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.   Psalm 95: 6

Thursday, December 22, 2022

Are You Struggling This Week?

Thursday, December 22, 2022

These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. 1 John 15:11

Are You Struggling This Week? 

Maybe you are struggling to get it “all” done before Christmas while juggling small children, babies, wrapping, company, and the overwhelming urge for it to all be perfect. 

Or are you dealing with heartache that you are pushing away again and again because it is Christmas and that adds a whole new level of pain? It is supposed to be such a happy time and no matter how hard you try you just can’t feel it. The damper of all that lies beneath covers over like a black cloud of smoke you can’t find your way out of. 

Unfortunately all the heavy stuff we are carrying doesn’t disappear for Christmas. In fact, the season magnifieseverything we are feeling, good and bad. We have to wade through all the cheer of the season feeling like we might not be able to make it one more step, hoping that some of the holly jolly everyone else is feeling will rub off on us, at least for a while. But no matter how hard you try, it doesn’t happen. 

This is the time of the year that we try so hard to focus on the hope, love, peace, and joy around the birth of Jesus. It is so hard to truly enjoy the Christmas season when there is chaos churning in our hearts. I just want you to know that you are seen by a Heavenly Father that loves you and cares. He knows what you are carrying and trying to deal with and trying to suppress just so you can get through this week. 

Just know someone cares for you and understands.

It's so hard to cover up those feelings, and you can only do it for so long. Especially in a season like Christmas that, in itself, provokes so many other feelings. You can stuff it, deny it, numb yourself to it, and ignore it, but I promise you that, at some point, you will feel it. It is like a holding a beach ball under the water. Eventually it will explode to the surface. There will come a point where you cannot deny, ignore, numb it, or stuff it anymore. There is no way through it but to sit in it and feel it.  

All that to say, it can be really hard to feel the joy with all that going on. In fact, it feels impossible, but it is not. Even when there is turmoil in our lives, we can experience joy, but beware – Joy never feels more in your face than when you cannot feel it in your heart. It is possible to have an underlying, unshakable joy and still experience sadness. True joy in Him can be present, even if we do not feel it. It doesn’t disappear when things get turned upside down, and though we may lose our footing and fall apart for a moment, it is still there. It is not something we have to go in search of again. If we find our joy in Christ, it is a constant. Other emotions will come and go but we can hold tight to the joy we find in Him. Laughter through tears is a real thing and sometimes it even feels very good. 

If you are struggling this week, know that there is comfort and peace in Him. And the image of that tiny baby in the manger – priceless gift to all – He longs to be all we need. Try focusing on Him and what this week is really about. Give Him the gift of your heartbreak. Yes the gift! Bring it to the baby in the manger and let Him have it. He is capable, He cares, and He absolutely longs to take our burdens from us – lifted off of us completely - so that the joy found in Him can come once again to the surface. 

Wednesday, December 21, 2022

Repeat The Sounding Joy!

Wednesday, December 21, 2022

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Romans 15:13 

Repeat The Sounding Joy!

The Advent season is a season of excitement and anticipation. It is the season where we focus on the birth of Jesus. The Jews waited over 400 years in this anticipation. They anticipated His arrival and waited expectantly, and God did what He promised He would do. He sent His Son, the promised Messiah, to be born of a virgin. He came to save us from our sins.

The Advent season takes on a journey to hope, peace, love, and joy. Even though we focus on these during Advent, they are important aspects of our Christian walk every day. These elements perpetuate our faith in Jesus Christ as we build on the fact of His birth. Jesus is the firm foundation and from that firm foundation all growth comes. 

With Jesus at the center of the Advent Wreath, we see hope, peace, love, and joy forming an infinite circle around Him. It is a chorus that keeps us tethered to Him in a resounding harmony as we come together in Him. It builds like the chords in a beautiful piece of music. We find all of these things in Him – the foundation of our faith. In Jesus we find hope, and that hope leads to peace. Hope and peace set us free to love, and all of these finally lead to Joy – all built upon each other and the foundation of Christ. It is the song of our heart that goes on forever, never ending, but repeating an endless cycle of resounding joy. 

Joy being a condition of the heart more than an experience of the flesh is hard for people to understand. If we consider the fact that the Bible speaks of being “filled with joy”, it seems there must be some kind of container. The fruit of the spirit is all related to the condition of the heart.  We understand the “heart” to be center of one’s being understanding that everything emanates from that source. When our “heart” is filled with hate, then our life is deeply affected with negative actions and attitudes. A heart filled with hope, peace and love will naturally exhibit joy!

So, how is the heart filled?  By “believing” according to Romans15:13; in other words, through faith.  It is faith that rises above the noise and fears of this world and brings the promise of hope. Hope is based in the fact of the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, God’s gift for our salvation! Praise Him! “Repeat the sounding joy, repeat the sounding joy! Repeat! Repeat the sounding joy!”    

Tuesday, December 20, 2022

Good News For All People

Tuesday, December 20, 2022

 And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. Luke 2:9-11

Good News For All People

“Good news of great joy that will be for all the people…”  The birth of the son of God; Emmanuel, God with us; Jesus Christ’s arrival on planet earth was without a doubt the most joyous news that anyone had ever heard.  The announcement wasn’t “Joy to the territory surrounding Bethlehem.”  Nor was it “Joy to the people of the nation of Israel,” this announcement was wide open.  This joy was for all people!  The grace of God would now be extended to include all people…whether Jew or Gentile, Hebrew or Greek.  

So why aren’t we bubbling with joy?  One word…Distractions.  Christmas can be a real Joy stealer.  The cost, the worry, the stresses, the pressure…these and a thousand others can reach into the fullness of the Joy of Jesus and strip it bare…if we let them.  The cure? Discover once again the Joy of Christmas.  God has given us the greatest gift ever in his son Jesus, and Satan is hoping that we’ll lose that gift amongst the trappings of the tree.  

So press through the seasonal bustling and let’s grab a hold of that “Good news of great joy that will be for all the people…”  That day, a Savior was born for us…Christ the Lord.  His name is Wonderful Counselor, Prince of Peace, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and of His Kingdom there shall be no end.

Joy to the world, the Lord is come…Let earth receive her King.  Let every heart prepare him room, and heaven and nature sing.  This joy is yours…and mine.  

Kerry Patton

Monday, December 19, 2022

Do You Know Joy?

Monday, December 19, 2022

 After hearing the king, they went their way; and the star, which they had seen in the east, went on before them until it came and stood over the place where the Child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.  Matthew 2:9-10 NASB

Do You Know Joy?

Christmas certainly is considered to be a season of joy.  We sing Joy to the World. We read scriptures about joy. We send Christmas cards that wish people the joy of this season. 
And yesterday we lit an advent candle for the joy in knowing that the coming of the Messiah would bring joy to all men. These are traditions that are a part of our Christmas holiday every year, but do we really know joy?

Joy is a state of being more than an emotion.

We so often confuse joy and happiness. Joy is more than happiness, which is temporal and conditional. Happiness is an emotion dependent on personal feelings. Joy is the unconditional state of mind that accompanies fellowship with God. It is a contentment that cannot be shaken no matter what the present circumstances are in our lives. 

The Greek word for 'joy' is derived from the Greek word for 'grace.' This is important to note, for it tells us categorically that joy comes from the grace of God. This means 'joy' isn't a human-based happiness that comes and goes.  Rather, true 'joy' is divine in origin.  It is a Spirit-given expression that flourishes best in hard times. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23)

Joy is not dependent on circumstances.

You also became imitators of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much tribulation with the joy of the Holy Spirit. 1 Thessalonians 1:6  The Thessalonians were under great stress due to persecution; yet in the midst of it all, they continued to experience great joy. In fact the text strongly implies that their supernatural joy was due to the Holy Spirit working in them. Paul even called it the "joy of the Holy Spirit." 

Real joy is something much deeper and much more lasting than being happy.  Unlike happiness, we are not responsible for it.  It exists within us and comes into our lives as the gift of God. Joy breaks into our lives often in the most unexpected ways. It can be in a moment when love is expressed, when we are suddenly caught up in the unbelievable beauty of our world, or when that which is lost is found.  There is the joy that comes in being forgiven when we have been wrong, the joy of being together when we have been separated, and the joy that lingers in the heart, even when tears run down our cheeks. 

Joy is found in a relationship with God 

While most seek for happiness in temporary things, real joy is found in the spiritual realm. Listen to the Psalmist: But let all who take refuge in You be glad, Let them ever sing for joy; And may You shelter them, That those who love Your name may exult (be joyful) in You.  Psalms 5:11 NASB  And again in Psalm 126:2 Then our mouth was filled with laughter And our tongue with joyful shouting; Then they said among the nations, "The LORD has done great things for them."

If you don't know joy, go to God who longs to give us real joy and  Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!  Philippians 4:4 NASB

Sunday, December 18, 2022

Peace Into Joy

Peace Into Joy

Romans 15:13

The Bible has much to say about peace. Our world certainly needs peace between nations and within nations.  But even more, the people of the nations need the inner peace only God can give.  There is no joy except we have such peace.

The presence of worry is a manifestation of the lack of peace

Real peace is not found in escaping but in engaging life with purpose.

Two Kinds of Peace

The Peace of the World

“Not as the world gives” clearly states that the world offers a false peace.

Worldly peace is basically temporary, subject to change quickly.

The Peace of God

Real peace is not found in what we can achieve but in whom we can believe.

Peace is not found in the absence of conflict but the presence of God through the Holy Spirit.

One of the greatest losses of peace comes from guilt

Our past needs be dealt with for our future to be free for peace.   

Peace occurs in association with righteousness.

Receiving the gift of God requires that we do these things:

·      Acknowledge your sin and separation from God.

·      Repent of your wrong and ask for forgiveness for your sin.

·      Receive the gift of salvation from God.

·      Commit to follow Christ as your Lord. 

·      Experience the presence of Christ as we deal with consequences of our sin.

God’s peace comes to us as His gift when we surrender to Him in the circumstances.

We lose peace when we worry about a future that may never happen.  

Urgency should not steal our peace.

 What if…” is a sure sign of fearing circumstances in place of trusting God.  

You will never have peace of mind until you come to peace in your heart and soul through faith that God is in control.

Heavenly peace is not fighting God but trusting Him in whatever the circumstances of life may be.

Joy is ours when the Peace of God is received through the Prince of Peace.


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