by Pastor Jeff Gipe

The First Last Supper

“Then came the Day of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover must be killed. And He sent Peter and John, saying, ‘Go and prepare the Passover for us, that we may eat.’” Luke 22:7-8

As I read Jesus’ instruction to “go and prepare the Passover” I was struck by the fact that these words have been spoken by Jewish families for thousands of years. The first Passover took place in Egypt as the children of Israel prepared for God to deliver them from the bondage of the Egyptians. Then, thousands of years later came the first Lord’s Supper, the new covenant counterpart to Passover where the disciples prepared for God to deliver them from the bondage of sin.

Open Hearts

“Open your hearts to us.” 2 Corinthians 7:2

You can almost hear Paul crying out to the Corinthians, “Please open your hearts to us!” Paul cared deeply for the Corinthians, like a father cares for his children. They had closed their hearts toward him after receiving his stern letter of correction and stopped having fellowship with him, so Paul desperately desired that they would open their hearts to him once again.  

A Parable on Prayer

“And it came to pass, as He was praying in a certain place, when He ceased, that one of His disciples said to Him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.’” Luke 11:1

It’s no secret Jesus made prayer a priority in His life, but did you know John the Baptist did as well? It appears when the disciples saw Jesus praying, they were reminded of the numerous times they saw John praying, so one of them asked Jesus to teach them how to pray. It was common for religious leaders to teach their followers how to pray. Prayer was and is the one of the greatest ways we can experience the power of God.

Marks of Ministry

“But in all things we commend ourselves as ministers of God in much patience, in tribulations, in needs, in distresses…” 2 Corinthians 6:4

It is a great privilege to be ministers of God, but as Paul points out, with that privilege comes pain and suffering. The apostle Paul understood this better than most. Despite their shortcomings, the Corinthians were a blessing to him. They loved him and he loved them, yet they also caused Paul a lot of pain and suffering. He experienced the full range of emotions as a minister of God, from the heights of joy to the depths of sorrow, which he openly expressed in this letter.

The Good Samaritan

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” Luke 10:27

Right after Jesus praised the Father for hiding the secrets of the kingdom from the wise and revealing them to babes, a lawyer tested Jesus by asking him, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” When Jesus asked him what the law said about inheriting eternal life, he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” Clearly the lawyer knew the law. He studied the scriptures and knew the traditions, but he didn’t understand what it meant to love.

What Happens Next?

“For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” 2 Corinthians 5:1

Every person who has ever lived has pondered that great question: “What happens next? What happens after we die?” Some think nothing happens after we die, that we simply don’t exist anymore. Others think we are reincarnated as another person or animal, and that how we live this life will determine what our next life will be. I don’t know about you, but these views leave me feeling hopeless.

The Good Shepherd

“I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” John 10:10b

I can’t count the number of times I’ve quoted this verse. It means so much to me and I pray it means a lot to you. It’s in this verse that Jesus not only promises to give us eternal life, but also life more abundantly. One of the first images that comes to mind when reading this verse is what David wrote in Psalm 23:8, “You prepare a table for me in the presence of my enemies, You anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over.” David experienced an overflowing cup in the presence of his enemies because the Lord was his Shepherd.

My Vessel, His Power

“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of power may be of God and not of us.” 2 Corinthians 4:7

Clay pots were everywhere in Paul’s day since they were used for everything from food to fuel. You would find them near the fireplace, in the windows of people’s homes and in the marketplace. In addition to being unremarkable, they were also very fragile and easily broken. That’s why Paul used them as a metaphor for human beings. We may be weak and easily broken, but by the grace of God we can contain the valuable treasure of the gospel.

Parable of the Unforgiving Servant

“Then Peter came to Him and said, ‘Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive Him? Up to seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.’” Matthew 18:21

Peter knew forgiveness was a key characteristic of God that he was called to exemplify for others. Knowing the Pharisees taught that they should forgive an offender two times, Peter must have thought he was pretty spiritual when he suggested forgiving an offender seven times. I wonder how shocked he was when he heard Jesus say we are to forgive an offender up to seventy times seven?

Remove the Veil!

“Nevertheless when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.” 2 Corinthians 3:16

I think Moses, like many of us, tried to keep appearances up and preserve his reputation with people. We see this when he put a veil over his face to mask whenever the glory of the Lord was fading from him. Isn’t that what many of us do? Don’t we want those around us to see how special and self-sufficient we can be?

Live to Please God

“For our boasting is this: the testimony of our conscience that we conducted ourselves in the world in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom but by the grace of God, and more abundantly toward you.” 2 Corinthians 1:12

Someone once said, “If you live to please people, misunderstandings will depress you, but if you live to please God, you can face misunderstandings with faith and courage.” Have you ever been misunderstood by others because of something you said or did? I know the times I have been misunderstood it has caused me to toss and turn all night long. It appears the apostle Paul experienced some sleepless nights as well. Some in Corinth misunderstood what Paul said regarding his plans to visit them, leading them to accuse him of using fleshly or worldly wisdom.

Pieces of the Puzzle

“Jesus said to them, ‘Have you understood all these things?’ They said to Him, 'Yes, Lord.’” Matthew 13:51

The question Jesus asked, “Have you understood all these things?” can also be translated, “Have you rightly put all these things together?” As we’ve been going through the parables, we’ve learned the disciples didn’t understand everything Jesus taught them. The same can be said of Jesus’ disciples today. The reason many lack understanding is because it takes a great deal of time to put all the pieces of the parables together. To fully understand them you must take pieces of the Old Testament and fit them together with pieces of the New Testament.

The Parable of the Pearl

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that the had and bought it.” Matthew 13:45-46

Have you ever felt like a little piece of sand being tossed around a giant troubled sea? Well, that is because according to this parable, you are. You are a little piece of sand, but the good news is that you are being changed into a precious pearl.

Worship Leads to Works

“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 15:58

When we are reading the Bible it is important to remember there were no chapter breaks in the original manuscripts. Last week we covered 1 Corinthians 15 where Paul focused in on the resurrection, the last trumpet and the victory over death we have in the Lord Jesus Christ. The chapter concluded with the verse above, which is an exhortation from Paul to enter into true worship. True worship is much more than an emotional experience, it is when the Spirit of the Lord is so present in our lives that we give ourselves entirely to Him and strive to always be abounding in the work of the Lord.

Deconstructing Christmas

The word “deconstruct” means “to break something down into its separate parts in order to understand its meaning, especially when this is different from how it was previously understood.” Last Sunday Tyler deconstructed the first Christmas. He took us on a step by step adventure and it was glorious. We saw prophecies being fulfilled. We saw the angel of the Lord shining in the glory of God saying, “I bring you good tidings of great joy.” We saw that this caused an eruption in heaven and a multitude of heavenly hosts praised God and said, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”

Born to Die and to Rise

“Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?” 1 Corinthians 15:12

“Joy to the world, the Lord is come, let earth receive her King!” Without a doubt this is one of my favorite Christmas carols, but what if it wasn’t true? What if the virgin birth was just a myth? What if Jesus didn’t save His people from their sins? What if Jesus wasn’t raised from the dead?

A More Excellent Way

“But earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way.” 1 Corinthians 11:31

If you have been wondering what the more excellent way is since last week’s message, don’t worry because I won’t keep you wondering any longer. The more excellent way is love. Paul began his letter to the Corinthians saying that even though they were experiencing all the spiritual gifts (1:7), they lacked love. And it was because of their lack of love that envy, strife and division entered into their church body. It must have been a glorious morning for Paul when he picked up his pen and began writing this powerful passage on love.

The Parable of the Hidden Treasure

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for the joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” Matthew 13:44

It is important to take note that the last three parables Jesus shared are different from the first four parables He shared. The first four parables were given to the multitude while the last three parables were only given to the disciples. This means the final three parables are meant to bless those who believe in Jesus because they reveal what He is doing through the church during the period between His first and second coming. The first four parables spoke of corruption in the kingdom of God, but the last three parables speak of how highly Jesus values the people of His kingdom.

Manifestations of the Spirit

“Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be ignorant.” 1 Corinthians 12:1

We have now come to a new section of Paul’s amazing letter to the Corinthians. I would like us to keep in mind that the key verse of this letter is 1 Corinthians 1:9: “God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” In reality, this is not only the the key verse of this letter, but is also the key verse of the Christian life. The key to the Christian life is walking day by day, moment by moment, in fellowship with Christ. Our strength comes from Jesus being the center of our lives. He is the abundant life He came to give us.  

The Parable of the Leaven

“The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal till it was all leavened.” Matthew 13:33

Last week I stated that the parable of the mustard seed is the most misunderstood and misinterpreted parable of Jesus. Well, I may have misspoke. I believe the parable of the leaven may be even more misunderstood. There seem to be two main opposing views of this parable. One view is that the leaven is a symbol of good, teaching that the gospel will permeate the entire earth until every human is saved. The other view is the opposite. It teaches that the leaven is a symbol of evil. Obviously, both interpretations cannot be correct. So, which one is correct?