November 18, 2020

Dear Friends,

Everyone is looking for shalom. And we’re looking to be markarios. The problem is, we’re all ptochos. And it’s only when we recognize that we’re ptochos that we can begin our journey toward shalom and markarios.

I know I’m mixing my languages here (and maybe even butchering a word or two), but hang with me.

Shalom is the Hebrew word that we often translate peace. But its meaning goes deeper than our English word typically does. It is derived from a root that means to be whole, uninjured, safe and sound. It doesn’t mean there is no storm raging around you. It means you can be at rest in the storm, knowing it cannot harm you.

The Greek word markarios is the word that we translate “blessing” or in some cases “happiness.” It is an inward contentedness that is not affected by circumstances, based on the fact that you are right with God.

Who doesn’t want peace and happiness? Who doesn’t want to be safe and sound, fortunate and blessed?

But the peace and blessing we long for is out of reach for us. We forfeited it when we rebelled against God. We headed down a path of our own choosing, thinking we would find greater peace and joy and happiness by going our own way. There is a way that seems right to a man, the Bible says, but the end thereof is death.

But Jesus has good news for us. In the greatest sermon ever preached, Jesus declared that the first step on the path that leads to blessing is for us to recognize what we don’t have. To recognize that we are ptochos.

Most Bibles translate ptochos as “poor in spirit.” But honestly, it’s worse than that. The Jews had a word for “poor.” In Luke 21 for example, the woman who offered only two copper coins when she made her offering was described as a poor woman. There, the Bible uses the word penichros. It’s a word that means to be needy. Ptochos is a word that means to be bankrupt. Someone who is pehichros has meager resources available. Someone who is bankrupt has nothing.

Actually, he has less than nothing. He is in debt.

What a sermon introduction. “Listen up everyone,” Jesus says. “You are blessed if you are spiritually bankrupt.” That surely got everyone’s attention. When you’re spiritually bankrupt, Jesus says, it is then that you will experience God’s favor.

Huh? How does that make any sense?

Here’s how.

There are two kinds of people in our world. There are spiritually bankrupt people who recognize they are in debt and have nothing to bring to the table to offer to God. And there are spiritually bankrupt people who still think they have something in their account.

Everyone is spiritually bankrupt. But only those who know they’re bankrupt will ever experience God’s favor. As long as you think you have some righteousness of your own to offer to God, blessing and peace are out of reach.

The hymnwriter said it this way:
Nothing in my hand I bring,
simply to the cross I cling;
naked, come to thee for dress;
helpless, look to thee for grace;

The Apostle Paul came to understand that his own attempt to accrue righteousness that would make him acceptable to God was a losing endeavor. In Philippians 3, Paul talks about his lifelong quest to attempt to fill his spiritual bank account with human accomplishments. But when he came face to face with Jesus, he suddenly realized that all his religious achievements counted for nothing.

Ptochos. Bankrupt. Jesus says that blessing comes to us when we recognize what so many people are too proud, too stubborn or too blind to see.

Here’s a prayer for all of us to pray today. “Lord, I have nothing that gives me any standing with you. Nothing. In fact, it’s worse than that. I’m in your debt.”

That’s the kind of prayer leads to God’s blessing in your life. You have Jesus’ word on it.

Don’t forget, this weekend, you’re invited to a drive by housewarming party for the Gurneys! Saturday morning from 10:00 am – 11:00 am.

DAVID O’DODD ELEMENTARY CHRISTMAS SHOEBOXES

Last year at Christmas, we came together as a church to provide an early Christmas gift for each of the children at David O Dodd Elementary School. The kids were thrilled. And the teachers and staff were so grateful for our love and generosity.

This year, in light of COVID, we are doing shoebox gifts a little differently. Instead of asking you to pick a child’s age and gender and go shopping for that child, we’re asking you instead to decide how many kids from Dodd you would like to provide a gift for this Christmas. We will take care of the shopping, the packaging and the delivery. This way, each child receives gifts that are similar in value. And each child will also receive a small tract that explains the Christmas story and presents the gospel.

There are 175 total kids and we want to give them all something fun and meaningful this Christmas. We’ll be spending about $25 per child for their gift.

We’re asking you to let Pastor Matt know how many children’s gifts you’d like to provide. Text him at 859-771-6581. Or email him at mattgurney77@gmail.com. Then mail your check or click here to make your donation to cover the cost of the gifts you’d like to give to students this year.

And pray with us that God will bless our efforts. Pray that the seeds we’re planting might bring a spiritual harvest in their lives of the students, their families and the teachers and staff at the school

In the book of Romans, the Apostle Paul calls Abraham “the father of all who believe” (Romans 4:11). In His interaction with the Pharisees, Jesus tells these proud Jews that because they don’t do the works that Abraham did, they have a different father – the Devil. We’re in John 8 again this week.

See you (in person or on line) Sunday!

Soli Deo Gloria!
Pastor Bob

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