Affection Determines Direction | Psalm 1

2023 Messages

A new year is a great time for a new path. From Psalm 1, Marriage & Family Director, Chris Sherrod, shows how God’s people can experience God’s blessing in Christ in 2024.

Chris SherrodDec 31, 2023Psalms 1:1-6

In This Series (4)
Affection Determines Direction | Psalm 1
Chris SherrodDec 31, 2023
Easter 2023
John ElmoreApr 9, 2023
Good Friday 2023
Timothy "TA" AteekApr 7, 2023
New Year’s Thoughts | Psalm 71
Chris SherrodJan 1, 2023


A new year is a great time for a new path. From Psalm 1, Marriage & Family Director, Chris Sherrod, shows how God’s people can experience God’s blessing in Christ in 2024. This whole Psalm is a contrast (Psalm 1:1-3, Psalm 1:4-6), even from its first and last words (blessed/perish). The contrast is ultimately between those who trust and love God (the root), displayed by their commitment to His Word (the fruit); and those who trust and love self, as shown by their commitment to their own wisdom. The big idea from this Psalm is: Our affections establish our direction, which results in our destination.

Learn more about Faith Path, a plan to help you guide your child's spiritual journey.

Key Takeaways

  • Affection (Psalm 1:1-2). In trusting Christ and receiving the gift of His Spirit, God gives you new hearts and affections.
  • Direction (Psalm 1:3-4). When you’ve been seized by the power of love for Christ, it re-orders your life; other things take a back seat. How you spend your time and money changes, what you talk about changes, etc. In short, your direction changes.
  • Destination (Psalm 1:5-6). Proverbs constantly reminds you to look down the path that your choices are taking you – your actual direction – to see the end result (i.e., your destination). “The Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the wicked will perish.”

Discussing and Applying the Sermon

  • In what are you delighting? Where do you go for joy? What does this reveal about your heart?
  • Who do you listen to the most, and why? Who has the most influence over your life? Friends, social media, family, news sources, teachers, coaches? Are any of those voices foolish or harmful? What captures your heart’s trust and love? Is there anything that you need to cut out of your life?
  • What is it about God’s Word that makes it worth delighting in? What does it tell us about ourselves? About God? About the good news of the gospel?
  • Do any of your New Year’s resolutions have to do with reading the Bible? How can you cultivate a love for God’s Word?
  • Read Philippians 3:7-11. Why is Christ and knowing him of surpassing worth? What does he provide that we need? Discuss with you community group how you can help each other remember and delight in the surpassing worth of Christ 2024.

Good morning, Watermark family. How are we doing? Happy New Year. Good to see you guys here. If I haven't met you, my name is Chris Sherrod. I am the marriage and family director here. So, how many of you said, "Hands the size of watermelons"? How many of you said, "Head the size of a tennis ball"? More watermelons than tennis balls. Interesting.

I want to start off this morning telling you a story that happened to me in 2009 back when I only had a semi-smart phone. It could give me the Internet and I could check emails, but it wasn't very fast at all. It had a map, but it was really vague. It kind of showed lines. It wasn't too detailed. Nothing like we have today.

Well, I was on my way to Columbus, Texas. I was going to a Pine Cove staff retreat, coming from the east, so I had to go through Houston, and it was stopped. The traffic was stopped. I could see taillights for miles. We were not moving at all. I have to confess I can get a little impatient when I'm driving, and I'm always looking for another way to get there. My wife knows this very well.

I looked on my map, and all I could tell was there was this line next to me. I looked over here, and it looked like it was a service road going somewhere, like, the path to freedom. So I was like, "I'm just going to go for this." So, I was that guy. I went off road a little bit through the grass up onto the side road. I already felt better about the freedom. Like, "I'm moving. This is great." To my dismay, I looked behind me, and other cars were starting to do the same thing. They were following me.

So, I was driving along. The road would veer a little bit away from the freeway and I'd be like, "Oh, no, no, no," and it would veer back and I'd be like, "Okay. Okay. I think we're going to be good." Well, you can imagine my horror when I came around a bend and it was a cul-de-sac. It was a dead end. So I turned around, and now I was having to drive by all of these cars that followed me that I'm sure were really angry at me by now.

Then I had to go back to where I started, go back on the grass, and then sheepishly be like, "Hey, can I get back on?" Crazy story. The lesson is I should have found a better… I'm just kidding. The lesson is you have to be really careful what you're following, who you're following, trusting what you're following or what is guiding you.

We're going to see this this morning in Psalm 1. I picked it for a few reasons. First, this time of year is a great time when we're considering our paths…new choices, new direction, new decisions. Also, Join the Journey is going to pick up in the Psalms and Proverbs this whole year. It's going to be thinking and feeling God's way.

So, having to do with choices is always a huge deal. Then, at the end, I want to talk to you parents about a path we're going to help outline for you as you guide your kids, but this sermon is not just for parents. It is for all of us. All of us need to learn from Psalm 1 about the influences and the choices we're making, but also learning what we delight in. That's going to be a big message that I hope you take away today…what you're delighting in.

So, read with me in Psalm, chapter 1. It says, "Blessed is the man…" That means "How fortunate are those…" or "How rewarding is the life of…" That's what it's about to explain. "…the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.

He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; for the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish."

That word way shows up all through Proverbs especially, and it's talking about the direction you're taking. Here's what I want you to memorize with me today, three words: affection, direction, destination. We'll do some hand motions for your kids if you guys want to memorize this with me. So do affection. You can put your hand on your heart. That's talking about what you love, what you're passionate about, what you delight in, we're going to see here.

Then direction. You can just point, like, "This is where I'm heading," because your affection determines that. Then destination. Put your hands up, either crossing the finish line or touchdown, whichever one works. So, affection, direction, and destination. Turn and say that to those around you really quick. Make sure you got it. Great. If it helps also, parents, remember ADD. I tried to come up with an H in there we could put in, but it's just ADD.

This whole psalm that we're now going to go through verse by verse is a contrast between two people. Even from the very first word and last word, blessed and perish, it's talking about two different people: those who trust and love God, shown by their commitment to God's Word and what they're meditating on, and those who love and trust themselves, shown by their commitment to their own wisdom.

When I talk about affection, I want to contrast that with obligation, like, challenging my motives for why I'm doing what I'm doing. Your New Year's goal might be spending more time in God's Word. Is that because you delight in it or you feel obligated? Is it an affection or obligation? So, look at verse 1 again with me.

"Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers…" It is essentially talking about not listening to those who have their passions and priorities wrong. Now, when we say wicked, just so you guys know, especially you young kiddos, what we're talking about is this.

All of us are sinners before God. We're all broken and in need of rescue, but when you talk about righteous versus wicked here, especially in Psalms and Proverbs, it's talking about those who are bent on living their own way, doing things the way they think is best, versus those who are striving to love and live by God's Word by his grace, by his power, and repenting when God rebukes them. You're on two different paths. That's what it's talking about here.

So, the blessed man that we're talking about specifically avoids three patterns. Did you guys notice them? The counsel of the wicked, the way of sinners, and the seat of scoffers. That's a pattern of thinking, a pattern of behaving, and a pattern of identifying. Did you guys notice also the progression that happens there? You're walking, then you're standing, then you're sitting.

First of all, the pattern of thinking. This is why Colossians 2:8 says, "See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy that is based on human tradition and the basic principles of this world and not on Christ." So it's a pattern of thinking. What is the counsel you're allowing to go into your mind?

Then it's a pattern of behaving. That's standing in the way of sinners. When I was younger, I used to think that was like you're in the way of sinners, but it's this is the way they're going. The choices you're making are taking you down this path. So that's this pattern of behaving. Then, eventually, there's this pattern of identifying. You're not moving anywhere. You've planted yourself.

The seat of mockers or scoffers, especially in Proverbs… It says this is someone who doesn't listen to your rebuke. They're hardened by their sin. They're not moving. They're not going anywhere. It's always a temptation for us to have this growing comfortability with the influences of the world. The wise man doesn't do that.

Young people and children, this is why your parents make it a big deal who your friends are and say things like, "Show me your friends and I'll show you your future," you know, these kinds of expressions. It's because it's true. What are you listening to? For all of us, what is the counsel I'm most allowing to enter my mind? Whose worldview, whose vision of life is directing my steps?

Proverbs 4:14-15 says, "Do not enter the path of the wicked, and do not walk in the way of the evil. Avoid it; do not go on it; turn away from it and pass on." It's talking about recognizing this is the path you're trying to avoid, to stay clear from. How do you know sometimes "Is this right? Is this wrong? Is this sin?" I love this reminder from Susanna Wesley. Way back in the 1700s, she wrote to her son Charles Wesley.

She said, "Whatever weakens your reason, impairs the tenderness of your conscience, obscures your sense of God, takes off your relish for spiritual things, whatever increases the authority of the body over the mind, that thing is sin to you, however innocent it may seem in itself." I have to consciously be recognizing, "Are these influences, is this counsel, this way of thinking, right? Is it according to God's Word?" This is why Romans 12:2 says, "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind…"

So, that's what this blessed wise person doesn't do. He doesn't listen to that counsel. Well, what does he do? Look in verse 2. It says, "…but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night." That's what he's turning to. Now let me give you a little disclaimer. On my own, in my flesh, I don't delight in God's Word. I can't delight in God's Word. God's law condemns me. I look not just at the Ten Commandments but at Jesus' explanation about "Hey, it's all about the motives of the heart," and it condemns me.

More than that, in my flesh… It says in 1 Corinthians 2 that I'm hostile toward God's Word and it doesn't make any sense. So what do I need? I need a new heart. When I recognize Jesus fulfilled all of the righteous requirements of the law for me, that it reveals the beauty, the character, and heart of God himself, I can delight in it now. He gives me a new heart with new desires. So keep that in mind. It's ultimately going back to the fact I have to have a new heart.

Do any of your New Year's resolutions have to do with reading the Bible, meditating on it? This is what we're seeing in this passage. Well, again, is this affection or obligation? Listen to Psalm 119, the psalmist's attitude in verses 14-16. "In the way of your testimonies I delight as much as in all riches. I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways. I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word."

In early American history, the Quakers had this phrase, "I have been seized by the power of a great affection." This is how you delight in something, when you've been seized by this new affection. Two hundred years ago, a guy named Thomas Chalmers wrote The Expulsive Power of a New Affection, and he argued that bondage to sin is broken by a stronger attraction, a more compelling joy than just obedience.

He said, "This love is not a duty one performs. It is a delight one prefers." So it's an affection before it's a commitment. Augustine said basically the same thing years ago. He held that we're influenced most not by what we believe but by what we love, what we give our hearts to. That's what really shapes us. He believed our problem isn't always that we love the wrong things or bad things; it's that we love things in the wrong order. He called it disordered loves. That's ultimately my problem.

Tim Keller explained it like this: "Whatever captures the heart's trust and love also controls the feelings and behavior. What the heart most wants, the mind finds reasonable, the emotions find valuable, and the will finds doable. […] What makes people into what they are is the order of their loves—what they love most, more, less, and least. […] Your loves show what you actually believe in, not what you say you do."

Obligation will take you only so far as you're going along with resolutions, but when you love something…you're captivated by it or you want it most…everything else gets in line. This is the way it works in our lives. Right? We have favorites. We have favorite movies, favorite songs, favorite foods, favorite children. (Just kidding. Some of you kids are looking at your parents. Nobody said, "Amen." That's good.)

Here's the point: it's the order of our lives. You can have a new movie after you see it, and now everything else gets in line behind that. You could love sleep, but if you love hunting more than sleep, you'll get up early. When my son Caleb got passionate about basketball, no one had to make him go out in the driveway and shoot baskets for hours at a time. It's just what he wanted to do.

In my own life, when I was 19 years old… I'd just finished my freshman year of college. I loved my city that I'd grown up in, sunny San Diego. I loved my family and my extended family being there. I loved the church I'd grown up in, but then I went to go work at a summer camp and fell in love with Katie Ford. Everything changed. Some new affection took the place, took priority.

Do you know what I did? At the end of the summer I went home, canceled my classes, sold my car, got on my motorcycle, and drove 2,000 miles to Auburn, Alabama, to be where Katie was. Yes, I was going to miss all of those other things, but I had something new that was taking the place of those things. They had to get in line behind that. Here's what's interesting. When I was doing that, I knew I was giving up those things, but it didn't feel like sacrifice because I just knew, "This is what I have to do."

What that did also is it showed everybody else the value I was placing on Katie, because they saw what I was willing to give up. That's this new affection we're talking about. So, as you look into the new year, I want you to consider the order of your loves. When you read about delighting in God's Word, it's all about…Do you have disordered loves? How do I get God's Word to be up to the priority it needs to be? We make time for what's important to us.

This is why Paul can say in Philippians 3, "Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him…" What he originally found valuable that he could boast in, he just went, "You know what? Now with this new love, this new affection, all that stuff is rubbish."

He can even tell the Corinthians later, "Even your trials that you face are light and momentary compared to the weight of glory we get to experience one day." Jesus put it this way in Matthew 13: "The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has…" He sold everything to buy that field. He had a new affection, a new priority. "In his joy."

That's why your affection comes first. Your affection determines your direction. Not your intention, your actual direction. The steps of my feet demonstrate the devotion of my heart. When you've been seized by the power of a new affection, a great affection, it reorders your life. Other things take a back seat. How you spend your time and money changes. What you talk about changes. So, are your affections in the right order?

What do you do, though, when it just feels like obligation? That can happen. Right? Well, thank the Lord that you do feel a sense of "I need to do this. That does need to be my priority." Maybe you don't have it, but you can ask the Lord to give you a new affection, to give you new desires, new taste buds, spiritually, to give you a hunger and a thirst for righteousness. Here's what I love. John Newton, who wrote "Amazing Grace," addressed this issue in one of his hymns. He said:

Our pleasure and our duty,

Though opposite before,

Since we have seen his beauty,

Are joined to part no more.

Isn't that beautiful? When you see his beauty, that sight gives way to delight. William Cowper also wrote it poetically this way:

To see the law by Christ fulfilled

And hear his pardoning voice

Transforms a slave into a child

And duty into choice.

Now it's what I love. I have a new affection. But it's not just reading God's Word. What do we read there? It's meditating on God's Word. So, it's not just information; it's transformation that's going on here. Meditation is not just emptying your mind, like Eastern meditation. This is deep thinking on the truths and spiritual realities of God's Word.

Here's the way J.I. Packer described meditation: "Meditation is the activity of calling to mind, and thinking over, and dwelling on, and applying to oneself, the various things that one knows about the works and ways and purposes and promises of God. It is an activity of holy thought, consciously performed in the presence of God, under the eye of God, by the help of God, as a means of communion with God."

You're chewing on the nutrients of God's Word. It's like a tea bag soaking in hot water. It's soaking up God's Word. That's the role there. God's Word is feeding faith's appetite for God himself. The truth is you meditate on what you delight in. You think about what you care about, and then the more you delight in that thing, the more you'll meditate on it. Parents, here's a great reminder. Your kids are watching what you value, what you delight in. We show our kids what we actually value by what we pay for, plan for, and praise.

So, how are you showing your kids the value of God's Word or that you delight in God himself? Also, parents, training your kids. Are you training your kids how to sit under the teaching of God's Word, even in a setting like this, or is it just "Sit still and be quiet"? We train them to do their chores. We train them on how to multiply fractions. We train them in a lot of things…how to make up their beds. You can train them in how to sit under the teaching of God's Word.

So, here's the result. Look with me in verse 3. After rejecting the counsel of the world and meditating on God's Word, it says, "He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers." So he has the roots down there, and then there's the fruit. Remember that order, though: root before fruit. As you think about the new year, things you want to look different, roots first.

By the way, you can read almost the exact same description in Jeremiah 17 of this type of person. It says the man who trusts in the Lord is like this tree that's planted that sends out its roots. It's the same thing, that I'm meditating on God's Word. I'm trusting in God as my source of counsel. So, I want to sink my faith roots deep, saturate my mind and my heart with it. That involves acceptance, surrender, and obedience on my part, but I want it to invade my mind, arrest my heart, consume all of my life. Then Romans 6 says now you're raised to walk in newness of life. You have a new direction because of that.

Well, here's the contrast. Look in verse 4. "The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away." So, he just talked about the permanence and the fruitfulness of the righteous, like a tree. Literally the opposite of that would be rootless, fruitless, weightless chaff. If you want to think of chaff, think of when you open up a peanut and there's that little shell that covers it, that little light, papery-type thing. That's chaff, completely opposite from this beautiful picture of a tree that has planted itself.

So, you have stability and you have windblown chaff. That's where God is trying to make this distinction. Then in verses 5-6 it says, "Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; for the Lord knows the way [the path, the direction] of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish."

This is why we say your direction (your way, your choices, your path), not your intention. We're all full of good intentions right now at the new year, but your actual direction is going to take you to your destination. This is showing you the final destination. This is what Proverbs is all about. If you read Proverbs, over and over again it says, "Listen. Look at the choices you're making and the path that's putting you on, and follow that path. See where it's going to end up." All throughout Proverbs it talks about, "But in the end…" "But in the end…"

So, don't be fooled. This is why Galatians 6 says, "God is not mocked. Don't be deceived. A man reaps what he sows. If you sow to please your flesh, you're going to reap corruption. If you sow to please the Spirit, you're going to reap eternal life." A lot of people think, "I can just keep going in this direction, and I'm not going to reap the consequences." God just goes, "You're fooling yourself." There's a final destination.

It says, "The Lord knows." I love the reminder where Paul said to Timothy, "The Lord knows those who are his." He sees all these things. Hebrews 4:13 says, "Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account." Knowing him, not just knowing about him.

There's a really sobering passage in Matthew 7 where Jesus said, "Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, we did all these things in your name.'" He says, "I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you,'" when they stand before him. So it's not just knowing about him; it's knowing him in a real, relational way. That's your actual destination, not a delusion. A lot of people, again, are going to be surprised. "I wanted that." But all of your choices were taking you down that path. That's why our choices are so crucial.

If you're worried when you read about the word judgment and standing before God, I want to give you some encouragement. I want you to listen to 1 John 4:17-18. "By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love."

So, why can I have confidence in the day of judgment? Well, it's not because of anything I've done. It is not my righteousness. My deepest problem is God demands perfection because he's holy and perfect, and I can't offer that perfect righteousness, and then God demands that my sins be punished, and I can't bear that, but that's where Jesus comes in as my perfect, sinless substitute.

He lives the life I should have lived. He dies the death I should have died, and that is my only claim before God, not having a righteousness of my own that comes by works but that which is by faith in Jesus Christ. That's the only way I can have confidence. Romans 8:1 says, "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." It's because Jesus took all of your condemnation. So that's good news at the end.

I want to remind you. Think back to my first story, following my semi-smart phone. What are you following? I can assure you, if you're following God's Word, there is no need to fear that you're going to be led off some wrong path. Kids, as you follow your parents, as you follow your elders who have gone on before you, you can be confident God's Word never returns empty. It never returns void. It's a trustworthy guide. So, two paths, one leading to flourishing life, the other to withering death. The difference is what you meditate on. The blessed person rejects the world's lies and meditates on God's truth.

So, I want to introduce you parents to something. All of you can get excited about this. We have a new tool for you called the Faith Path. This is hopefully going to be something that blesses you that you can use as a family. You can pick up a little description as you pick your kids up. What we're trying to do here is offer for you some resources.

From when we first have children and we do a baby dedication all the way through to when we launch them out of high school, what are some steps we can take intentionally that will guide our kids along the path? I know it can feel overwhelming sometimes to think, "I have so many things my kids need to know and memorize and learn."

What we're trying to offer you here is a tool (it's just a tool) to say, "Hey, listen. How about you start, when they're 3 years old, praying a blessing over them?" Just get in that habit when they're 3. How about when they're 4? You then next begin having family time together, making that a priority. How about when they're 5? You start intentionally having gospel conversations. You can obviously do these anytime you think your kids are ready.

Then 6 years old. That's a great time to really explain prayer with our kids and to be praying as a family, to teach them how to pray and what to pray for. At age 7 we can give them their first Bible. At age 8 we can start to teach them about worship. These are all steps you can take them down, these milestones or habits or new resources.

So, here's what we're going to do. You can opt in for this, and every year on your child's birthday we'll send you an email. "Happy Birthday. Hey, 6 years old is a great time to start doing this." We're going to give you resources, tools, ideas, books you can read, sermons and talks you can listen to. All of this at each of these milestones is so you can have something to hold on to, like, "This is guiding me as I'm going down this path with my kids."

Listen to what Proverbs 4:10-12 says, parents. "Hear, my son, and accept my words, that the years of your life may be many. I have taught you the way of wisdom; I have led you in the paths of uprightness. When you walk, your step will not be hampered, and if you run, you will not stumble."

Parents are to talk about and walk out God's truth in front of their kids, leading them, talking about them. This is part of our responsibility as parents. We want Faith Path to be a resource, a tool in your tool belt. As I said before, we're kind of using the Home Depot motto: "You can do it. We can help." We want to make this as a resource available for you as you go out.

Let me end with hopefully some reminders from God's Word that will stir up your affections as we talk about delighting in God's Word, for all of us, as we go into the new year in delighting. Here are some things we know about God's Word. Jesus said it's the truth. James called it the perfect law that gives freedom. Paul called it the sword of the Spirit, a living and active sword, according to Hebrews 4:12, that pierces to the deepest part of a person.

Scripture is likened to a fire that refines, a hammer that convicts, a mirror that reveals, and a light that shines in the darkness. Isaiah said it's like the rain and snow that water the earth and produce life. It's compared to milk, bread, water, honey, and seed. Psalm 19 says it revives the soul, makes wise the simple, rejoices the heart, enlightens our eyes, and is more valuable than the finest gold.

Psalm 119 says it gives strength to the weak and comfort through God's promises. It gives life and understanding and peace. It gives guidance to our steps like a lamp lighting our path. It's our moral compass. It reveals the beauty and power and character and heart of our God. As you're reading, you're encountering the God of the Old and New Testament, all that he is, all that he does, coming face-to-face with him.

The Psalms especially celebrate the steadfast love and faithful promises of God, showing us how to rightfully ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name and cry out to him for rescue. Romans 3 explains how God's law shows us the sinfulness of our hearts but also the righteousness of God, a righteousness he freely offers to us in the glorious message of the gospel. Romans 15 says all of these stories you read about are to give us encouragement and hope.

I also love how Jesus explained that all Scripture points to him whom Hebrews 1 says is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature and Colossians 1 says is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation, the head of the church, the beginning, the first one from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. I pray that those reminders stir up your affections for God's Word, and then your affection determines your direction and then your destination.

In closing, I want you to reflect on how this applies to you. Maybe some of you recognized, "Man, I am becoming increasingly comfortable with the world's wisdom, what the world is offering for advice." Maybe it's Instagram or Netflix or YouTube or Hulu or TikTok or your music or your friends. You always have to ask, "What counsel am I listening to? What view of life is influencing me? What is the actual current path I'm on?"

Maybe for some of you it's realizing, "I've had some disordered loves. I need to reorder those things and put Jesus back as Lord." He's either Lord of all or not Lord at all. Right? Make sure he is your first love. Maybe you've also been reminded, like, "Lord, I need new affections. I need new desires for your Word." Be honest. Admit if you don't have it. The good news is he gives you the desires of your heart. He gives you the desire and the power to do this.

Maybe, for some of you, that thought of God's judgment is weighing on you. You've finally understood the gospel for the first time, that it's not what I'm doing; it's all what Jesus has done. Jesus used the path analogy in another way. In Matthew 7 he talked about two paths. He said, "Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many." Most people are going to pick that path.

Then he says, "For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few." When you understand the gospel, you're amazed. You're not amazed that the gate is narrow; you're amazed that the gate is open, that God has provided a way for you. My prayer is if you've never accepted that free gift of the righteousness and forgiveness Jesus offers that you'd do that today. Would you bow your heads with me?

Father, we're so grateful for this reminder from your Word about the importance of our paths. God, I pray we would recognize, first and foremost, we need new affections. God, I pray you would stir up our affections for you and for your Word, that we would truly delight in it, that you would be our first love, that all things would fade into the background when we think of the greatness of who you are and the privilege, the gift, and the joy of knowing you, like the man in the parable, that in our joy we would be willing to give up all things.

I pray for us to reevaluate in this new year the counsels, the advice, the direction the world is offering compared to your Word, Lord, that we would set our minds on things that are above and not on things of the earth, that you would renew our minds and transform us, God. I pray for anyone here who needs to trust you as their rescuer, as their Savior for the first time, so that they can not have any fear but confidence on judgment day, Lord, that you have covered all of their sins through the blood of your Son. I pray, God, that they would make that choice as well.

Give us wisdom as parents to direct our kids. I pray for these children, Lord, that they would have tender hearts, that they would make choices that honor and glorify you. I pray for young people here, that they'd be bold in their faith, that they would recognize that they are the new generation you're raising up to follow you.

I pray for all of us, young and old, single, married, with kids, not with kids, Lord, that we would take seriously that this is the family of God and we would desire to pass on faith to the next generation. Lord, we give you all the praise and all the thanks because of your Son, Jesus. It's in his name we pray, amen.