Forget About It

Forget About It

Do you remember your first girlfriend or boyfriend?  Perhaps it was in junior high.  You held hands.  You went to a  ball game together.  You talked to each other in the hall.  Maybe you let her wear your jacket.  Maybe you let him wear a ring of yours on a chain around his neck.

I remember my first “dating” experience.  I was innocent.  I was in love.  I was so awestruck that someone would want to go out with me.  I was in 7th grade, she was in 8th grade.  I asked her out at a church youth rally.  How’s that for romance, huh?  I wrote her a note while some guy was speaking, and she replied with a note in return.

After we had been “dating” a week or so, a group of friends were going to go to Opryland (yes, it was still a park then, and yes, it was awesome).  I remember on the “Skyride” cable cars that went across the top of the park, we finally held hands.

And then, the next day, she called me and dumped me because someone else had asked her out.  So goes a junior high romance.

I remember I could not eat for days.  I was heartbroken.  I went to bed thinking about it, and woke up the next day with it on my mind again.  I realized then and there – its hard to be in junior high.  But its also hard to forget about that things that hurt us.

Paul had a few things to say about forgetting.  In Philippians 3, he says “Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.”  

I honestly thought I’d never forget about her.  To a 14 year old boy, it was devastating.  I would never love again.  I’d live my life alone.  No one would ever want me.  Simply put, that was not true.  Yes, she tore my heart out when she did that, and yes, it hurt.  But, that was just a passing moment in my life, that helped me learn and grow.

Paul says we need to forget about the past, and move on.  In this situation, he’s talking about his past mistakes in persecuting Christians, how he at one time thought it was what God wanted him to do, but he realized the error of his ways.  I’m confident Paul would do anything to go back and change how he treated so many before he saw the light of Jesus shining down on him, but he couldn’t.  So, he did the next best thing – he forgot about it.

I’ve always hated it when people say “Forget about it.”  Or, they say things like “Man, you’ve just got to let it go.”  Its hard when someone wrongs you to just let it go.  But simply put, what’s in the past is in the past.  And the fact that Paul has repented and moved on to bigger and better things, helps us see that the best way to forget about the pain in our life is to move forward and move on.

I haven’t been a saint all my life either.  I’ve made my fair share of mistakes.  I’ve apologized, I’ve repented, I’ve changed my way – and sadly, even with all of that done people still want to hold those things against me.  We all know people who can’t forget about what things have been done against them.  So, in that case, I have to move on.  You have to move on.  You have to forget about the past and press ahead to the goal, because that’s what God has called us to do.  And while you’re at it, pray for those who can’t forget about it.

I don’t know how Paul was able to say this so confidently, but he did.  I want to know how you can “forget” about something, but mention it so many times like Paul does.  Had he truly forgotten about it?  I think he was so confident in his forgiveness and repentance, that he could mention it and it not phase him at all.  He knew he would not return to that lifestyle.

So, the question to ask is this – what’s lurking in your life that you need to forget about so you can move on?  Who has caused you pain?  Who has hurt you?  Who has done you wrong?

What have you done to hurt others?  Have you sought forgiveness?  Have you changed your path?

Remember this:  Satan loves to use our past to prevent us from a great future by keeping us miserable in the present.  He’ll stop at nothing to keep you from Heaven.  Its time to forget and move on.

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I’ll Be Here For You. Sincerely, God.

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Today, I just couldn’t come up with anything better to post than the devotional from my wife’s daily devotional book she’s been reading.  I love how when she comes across one she things will impact me in a certain way, she sends it to me to read.

My family needed this today.

From the book “Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His Presence” by Sarah Young

I AM WITH YOU AND FOR YOU . When you decide on a course of action that is in line with My will, nothing in heaven or on earth can stop you. You may encounter many obstacles as you move toward your goal, but don’t be discouraged— never give up! With My help, you can overcome any obstacle. Do not expect an easy path as you journey hand in hand with Me, but do remember that I, your very- present Helper , am omnipotent.

Much, much stress results from your wanting to make things happen before their times have come. One of the main ways I assert My sovereignty is in the timing of events. If you want to stay close to Me and do things My way, ask Me to show you the path forward moment by moment. Instead of dashing headlong toward your goal, let Me set the pace. Slow down, and enjoy the journey in My Presence. 

What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? –ROMANS 8:31

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, even though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; though its waters roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with its swelling. PSALM 46:1–3 NKJV 

“For nothing is impossible with God.” LUKE 1:37

The Keys: BACKSPACE

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Have you ever heard about someone who has worked hard every day, always on the job, always working.  To the point where they end up neglecting their family.  And then on their death bed, they say they would take it all back and work less and not worry so much about the money – all for the relationship to be restored as fully as could be.

There is no backspace key in life.  You can’t just hit a button and make things disappear and you’re able to start all over.  But there are steps you can take to do your best to have a clean slate with other people, and with God.

One thing we have to do is realize the problem.  Sometimes that comes with a self realization and a confession to the world – I need a change, I need to do something different.

We work and play so very hard, but we look back and see we have neglected our relationship with Christ and have put it on the back burner. This is one of the many relationships that we need to make sure, at the end of our life we don’t find ourselves  saying “How I wish I could have drawn closer to God, closer to Him.  How I wish we hadn’t neglected our relationship.

In fact, Sometimes we need to be shown the bad decisions we have made in our relationship with God.  And that’s what God is doing in Isaiah 43.

God shows all the things that He has done for Israel.  In the first 13 verses – God talks about how much He has done for them.  How he created them, formed them, redeemed them.  How he has protected them from enemies.  How he loves them.  How He is with them.  How he has rescued them.

He then goes on to say How as Creator, the wild animals honor HIM, the jackals, the owls, because He provides for them. BUT then in verse 22 – He pulls out the hard words to read.

He says “You didn’t call on me…I was there for you, I helped you, I saved you, but you didn’t call.”  In fact, look close at verse 22 – He tells the Israelites – “YOU HAVE BEEN WEARY OF ME.”

Instead of seeing God as a deliverer…they have grown weary of Him.

Its as if they’re saying – “You’re wearing me out with this, God!! – stop being there for me – stop trying to help me.  We’re exhausted with all this.”

In verse 23 – He talks about the sacrifices, but the people don’t want to bring them.  They did not want to bring sacrifices to God, or honor Him.  They did not want to give their money, or their gifts to God.

Their worship was not centered on praising or honoring God.  Instead they thought it was rather tiring.  It was such a burden.  It made them weary.

And God has a legitimate question – have i really been that big of a burden?  The only true and living God, who has loved them through all sorts of messes,  says  “I’m the only true God…i’ll help you, i’ll protect you, I’ll carry you…

But they’re Not interested God.

SO God goes on in verse 24 and says if anyone is burdened, its not you…its ME!!

God had done so much for them, and He says “You burden me with all your sins..I’m the one carrying the load…”

Have you ever stopped and thought – “This whole God thing, its getting wearisome, its a burden, its hard, I just want to live my life, SURE i’ll go through those motions, I’ll bring a song to Him at worship, I’ll close my eyes during prayer, I’ll bring my 12 pack of soft drinks for the next event – but let me tell you what, if we go over time on Sunday morning, and if we don’t start singing the songs I like, and if they run out of food at the fellowship…”

But then you stop and hear this message from God: –

 “You think its weary to serve me? – its a burden for me to carry your sins…”

Why is this a beautiful message?  What does this have to do with the backspace key??  Well here’s what God says –

“Fine – I’ll leave you alone…that’s fine…I’m done with you…you don’t want to put a little more time into our relationship?  You don’t want to bring gifts to me cheerfully?  You don’t want to be wrapped up in my love?  I’ll just find someone who does.”

NO – he doesn’t say that.  In fact – He keeps doing, keeps trying.

Here’s why I like God, the one true God.  Other gods, you do for them, you do for them, you do for them…but GOD – the one true God – keeps trying to win us over.

God says in verse 25 “Even though you are the way you are…I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins.”

He had just finished saying  “YOU HAVE BURDENED ME.”  But in verse 25 – he says i’ll deal with it..  I’ll take care of it.

WHY is he saying that?  Why is He dealing with it?  He didn’t make the mistake.  He didn’t mess up!!

HE says “for my own sake” – its not for us, its for HIM.  He’s doing it because of who He is.  He is goodness, He is loving, He is merciful. IN FACT we really have nothing to offer God that causes HIM to say “I’m going to do this for you”.  He just says “You are wicked, you are evil,  you are filled with sin, you keep messing up – but I love you – and I’m going to do this for you.”

He says I’m going to forgive you for my own sake and I’m not even going to remember them.  We serve a God who says “I won’t remember your sins”.  They’re gone.

Yes, there are consequences, called Babylonian captivity.  But if you look at 44:1, God says  “but listen up – i’ll help you.  YOU Deal with the consequences – BUT I’M STILL… going….to… help you. Don’t fear, don’t be afraid.”

And then in verse 3 – HE SAYS  “i’ll pour water out on the dry ground, I’ll pour my spirit on your offspring, and they will spring up among the grass like willows by flowing streams.”  Now if you’re not understanding what Isaiah is saying here – HE’s saying A COMPLETE RENEWAL will occur.  When God says I’m going to send rain or water – its usually a sign for renewal.

He is going to cause a radical renewal.

And notice VERSE 5 – They’ll be saying “I am the Lord’s”  They’ll be a group that says they belong to God.  That they are proud to belong to God. Maybe that’s what we should pray today.  God will you change my heart to make me want to desire you more and more?

Ever wish there was a backspace key in your life?  Where you can just start over?  Clean slate?  Its already there.  Its called Jesus.  He can bring about this fresh start, this cleansing.

Are you weary of service to God?  Have you been through this charade too many times, and it means very little to you?  God can change your heart.  He can take you back to where you first fell in love with Him.  Start over today.

God, help us to know you forgive us, you love us, and want to pick up right where we left off.  Help us to forget our sins, because we know you do.  Amen.

The Keys: Command

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I don’t know about you, but in a world where we get upset with each other so very quickly, and anger seems to immediately turn to hate – its a painful reminder that God’s greatest command to us is simply this:  Love.

The Bible is full of commands.  Especially in the Old Testament.  But when Jesus is asked in the New Testament which command was the greatest, which command out of all of those things they had been taught all of their lives was the most important – Here’s what Jesus said –

“Love God.  Love others”

But there are two things we must consider – how do we love God and how do we love others?

The Bible tells us to love God with all our heart, soul, might, strength – or another way to say it is to love God with your everything.

Your will, your desires, your passions, your affections, your perceptions, your thoughts –  We love God from within but also our entire being, our soul, the thing that makes us who we are – how we walk, how we talk, how we think, how we use our talents, how we react – our entire being is to display that we love God.

We need to love God not only with our physical muscle but with everything we have available for honoring God – which includes our spouse, our children, our house, our wardrobe, our tools, our cell phones, our movies and music, our computers, our time.

Every part of who we are – should be showing love to God. So that’s how we are to love God, but what about that “others” part.

I love my wife.  I love my daughter.  I love my mother and father.  I love my brother and sister, and their spouses, and their kids.  I love my family. I love my friends.  Those friends of mine that I can call up at anytime and talk, go eat lunch with, hang out with.  I love you.  I love the church.

So you see the trend here.  I love people I’m close to, that I’ve gotten to know, or that i have respect for.

But – How do I love my enemies?

Throughout history, people tend to make their enemies less than human.  Its not any different for us really – we tend to view criminals, our enemies, and those we don’t like, as less than human.  When we dehumanize others, its much easier to justify hatred.  But I want you to Look at the example Jesus gave us in Luke 19:41-44

41 As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it 42 and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes. 43 The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. 44 They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you.”

He knew what Rome would do to his fellow Jews in Jerusalem as he wept over the city. The people he was about to die for, didn’t love him.  He loved the people who were about to kill him.  He wept for them.

In the OT Jonah was asked to preach a message of salvation to people he despised.  I think loving our enemies looks like that. The Ninevites were vile, horrible people. Jonah never got over God’s wanting to forgive & bless them.

Loving your enemies is being willing to be a conduit of God’s grace to another, even when they have brought you pain and suffering .

The world may cry “Why?”  But we know the real reason God tells us to love others.  Its because HE loves us – and HE wants us to be like HIM.

On the computer keyboard that I use, the “Command” key is used as a shortcut.  I type command plus c and it copies.  I type command plus v and it pastes.  But when God says that love is the greatest command, we realize quickly there is no shortcut in love.

The New Testament says in I Corinthians 13 that if I have eloquence, if I preach with power, if I have monstrous faith, if I give away all my possessions to the poor – it doesn’t amount to anything if I don’t have love.

You know what else it says:  Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails.

This is not just a passage for the minister to read at weddings.  This is a national anthem for us as Christians – when we look at the Greatest Command which is love – this is the description of the love God commands!!

We understand loving family and friends.  But the enemy part is much harder.  Take 5 minutes and watch this moving video:

Jesus was hanging on the cross.  On either side of him were criminals.  Roman soldiers who didn’t know Jesus were just doing their job, following orders.

Jewish leaders, the ones who would have crucified Jesus themselves if the law didn’t prohibit it.  They hated Jesus.

There was a crowd of people – some who used to follow Jesus around and listen to his message of love and forgiveness.  They used to cry “Hosanna” and now they shouted “Crucify Him”

And our Lord says “Father – forgive them.”  And then he dies for them.

And for us.  For you, and for me.

Jesus is standing in front of you today – he has his arms wide open, ready to love you, no matter what it is you’ve done.  And when I say no matter what, I mean no matter what.

He loves you – do you love Him?

The Keys: The Arrow Cluster

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When you think about the arrow keys on the keyboard – their main function is to direct things to where you want them to go.  The cursor on a word document, your character on a video game, a text box on a powerpoint – the list goes on and on.

I don’t think i’m the only person here who needs direction in my life.

It used to be that settlers and explorers would go out into new lands and with the help of their cartography skills would draw maps so people would be able to find their way.

Road maps evolved – and recently, technology has taken over.  We can get directions to anywhere just by talking into our cell phones.

Except one direction – and that is the direction God wants us to go with our life.

Unfortunately – I often times like to give myself directions and pretend like I know exactly what to do and where to go.

But that’s not what Proverbs tells us.  In Proverbs 3:5-6 it tells us this:  Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

Is it possible we have become so self-sufficient that we think we don’t need God anymore?

I really hope this isn’t true – but I’m afraid that when things are going well, we act as if we don’t need God.  Sick?  We call the doc.  Car accident?  We call our insurance.  Visitors?  Run out to the store and get some food.  Run out of money?  Pull out the plastic.  Can’t make ends meet?  Loans. Relationship trouble?  Counselors.

Let me ask you if this sounds familiar:  Sit down with your family and lay out a plan – we will do this that and the other. We can take this step and that step and end up here doing this.

We plan everything out and then perhaps our best thought out plans fail.

Because we forgot to include God in them.  Instead of trusting in the Lord – we lean on our own understanding.  Instead of submitting to him we ask HIM to submit to us, and our paths don’t end up straight, but as crooked as humanly possible.

Look at Jonah.  He tried to tell God which way was best.  He was called to Ninevah to tell them how much God loved them and wanted to save them.  The message was to repent.  But Jonah went the opposite direction, and tried to tell God not to spare the city.  He took matters in his own hands, went his own direction, and He ended up being thrown off the ship he was on and being swallowed by a big fish.

But I want you to notice something:  In the last verse of Jonah 1, it says: “Now the Lord provided a huge fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.”

The fish was provided by God.  It was God rescuing Jonah.  And then in chapter 2:10 it says that God caused the fish to spit Jonah out on dry ground.

And then in chapter 3 –  to begin the chapter – it states “Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time: ‘Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you.’ Jonah obeyed the word of the Lord and went to Nineveh.”

Do you see that?  How much hope does it give you that if you mess up and go the wrong way – God will re-route you.  Even when we head in the wrong direction, God re-routes us, shows us the way, and gets us back on track.

But notice something about Jonah – he was re-routed, but he did not repent.  Just because we’re redirected, or shown the right way, does not mean we change how we act or feel.  You see, its up to us to change.  That change is what the bible calls repentance.

When we enter into a relationship with God, there are many things, many obstacles, blocking our way.  These things keep us from having a true relationship with God.  And that’s why we need to repent.  Repentance is not just changing direction from one thing or even a few things – its a complete surrender.  Jesus tells us this in Matthew 16:24-26 as he says if you want to follow me, you’ll deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow Him.

So – which way do you need to go?  I read this story not too long ago and thought it fits so well here:

A father was walking through the woods with his young son one day and wanting the boy to start thinking about finding his way if he were lost paused and asked:

“Do you know where we are?”

The boy looked up, and with a sweet smile replied that he didn’t. A little farther along, the father TRIED to look puzzled. “Do you know how far we have come?” “No,” replied the boy.

A little later, the father pressed his son again, “don’t you think we’re lost?” The boy grinned an unconcerned grin and said “I can’t be lost – I’m with you.”

Understand this:  You can’t be lost if you stay with your Father.  Let God guide you today.

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Safety in the Storm

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On Thursday night, we had a major storm move through the area where we live.

At about 8pm, the Tornado Warning popped up while watching the weather report.  Kristen and I chatted a bit, and decided at one loud crack of thunder to go and get our little gal and bring her downstairs to our “safe place” – which ended up being our couch watching the weather.

Josie sat down on the couch, and we watched Ron Howes on News Channel 5 show us where the warnings and watches and storms were located.  We could hear the sirens blaring, the trees waving, the winds howling, and see the lightning flashes.

When Josie came downstairs, she was tense, nervous, apprehensive, worried….the list goes on and on.  We laid her down, put her blanket over her, let her cling to her baby doll, and then I sat down next to her.  We watched the radar, I explained what was going on, gave her a quick science lesson on weather, and then we waited.

She went from nervous to calm.  That is, until we told her that the warnings had passed, and we were going to take her back upstairs to go to bed.  She began to get nervous again – and that’s when I showed her the radar, and showed her that the worst part had passed, that from now on there would be some wind, and some rain, and some lightning, but the worst was behind us.

I looked at her and asked her – do you understand?  She nodded yes.  Then I asked her – do you trust me?  Again, she nodded yes, albeit not quite as enthusiastically.

I told her I’d be right here for her – and if she needed us to call out to us. Kristen got her flashlight, Josie got hers, and they marched off to bed.

Doesn’t that remind you of something?

Sin and death was prevalent.  The warnings came from the prophets.

Christ came and told us how to protect ourselves.

He conquered death.

The worst part passed – death was defeated.

He looked at us and said “I’m going back home now, but I’ll be right here to protect you.  If you need me, just call on me.”

What a mighty God we serve.

What Are you Leaving Behind?

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Tomorrow at the Granny White Pike Church of Christ, my lesson will be on what we are leaving behind for future generations.  I will be using this poem at the end of my lesson – entitled “The Sculptor” – author unknown.

I took a piece of plastic clay
And idly fashioned it one day
And as my fingers pressed it still, 
It moved and yielded to my will

I came again when days were passed
The bit of clay was hard at last
The form I gave it, it still bore, 
But I could change the form no more.

I took a piece of living clay
And gently formed it day by day,
And molded with my power and art
A young child’s soft and yielding heart

I came again when years were gone
It was a man I looked upon;
He still that early impress wore
And I could change him nevermore.

 

In the Beginning…

Happy-New-Year-2014-1-1Those words are uttered at the start of the Old Testament, and perhaps are three of the most significant words in our language as Christians.  There was, at least for us, a beginning.  Mankind entered into the world that God created.

Praise God!  He gave us life!  He gave us emotions!  He gave us a chance!

As we begin 2014, just like every new year, we can once again utter those words with sincerity and honesty – in the beginning.

In the beginning.  Its a new year.  What will you do with it?  Where will you let it take you?  How will you respond to circumstances that are less than desirable?  How will you make 2014 the best year you have ever lived?

Does God Love Me?

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Ever wonder how much God loves you?

When I married Kristen nearly 10 year ago, I wrote her a poem that was called “I Love You Because…”, and in it I try to list all the reasons why I love my beautiful bride.

When you love someone, there is a reason you love them.  When you love someone, there are things about them that cause you to have feelings for them. There are things that trigger that emotion, maybe at first its the way they look, or a friendship that develops, an attitude, but there is something that causes that initial attraction.

When you have a child, the “because” or “why” is a little different.  You love them because they’re your child.  You love them because they were given to you.  For some of you, you love them because you have to…

So I’ve been thinking about this over and over again – why does God love me?  If God were going to write me a poem and tell me why He loves me, you know what I think He’d say?  He’d simply say “I love you”.

Because you see, when God says He loves me, there is no because.  God just loves me.

John 3:16 states “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him would not perish but have everlasting, eternal life.”

Romans 5:8 states “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

You see, God doesn’t love us BECAUSE we did anything, or because of who we are, He just loves us.

Today, live you day knowing that our God, the Supreme Creator of the Universe, the One who gave us life, the One who gave us emotions, friendships, family, the One who gave us HIS Only Begotten Son – loves us.

“How He Loves Me”

He is jealous for me,
Loves like a hurricane, I am a tree,
Bending beneath the weight of His wind and mercy.
When all of a sudden,
I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory,
And I realize just how beautiful You are,
And how great Your affections are for me.

And oh, how He loves us, oh,
Oh, how He loves us,
How He loves us all

And we are His portion and He is our prize,
Drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes,
If his grace is an ocean, we’re all sinking.
And Heaven meets earth like an unforeseen kiss,
And my heart turns violently inside of my chest,
I don’t have time to maintain these regrets,
When I think about the way He loves me.

-How He Loves Me- Original Words by John Mark McMillan, rewritten by David Crowder

 

Guideposts – An Introduction

Guidepost Intro Pic John 14-6

Last night, we started a new series at GW for the summer, entitled “Guideposts on The Way” for our evening worship time.  I am so excited about presenting this series, and hope you’ll join us for it on Sunday nights at 6pm in our Fellowship Hall.

What verses do you think of when you think of core, foundational, strongholds of our faith?  What verses do you think of when you need the strength to hold on?  What verses do you think of when you’re lost and need to find your way?

I love watching signs on the interstate.  I especially like the signs that tell me how far away I am from a certain destination.  I grew to appreciate interstate and road signs even more when I lived in Houston.  Its easy to get turned around and lost in a big city.

However, road signs don’t always mean a lot to us – especially when we can’t understand them!  Imagine, being an American driving on the streets in Shanghai without a modern day GPS to get us from place to place, and all you had were the road signs.  By the time you matched up all the characters in their language – it would take you hours to get anywhere!

I like it when I can understand the signs.  I like it when they mean something to me, and guide me like they are meant to do.  That’s why I like Jesus.  He’s my guidepost.  He’s not only shown us the way, HE IS THE WAY!

In John 14:6, Jesus tells us “I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.”

Our ultimate journey is taking us toward Heaven, and Jesus is guiding us on the way.

We get pulled in a lot of different directions, and its easy to get distracted.  But, we have a Savior who has shown us a reliable, well worn path, and many have gone down that path of faith.  I invite you to check back every so often to see a new “Guidepost” and read about passages that can show us the way.

None of these will be overly complicated.  None of these will lead you on a treacherous journey.  These verses will simply guide us.