Let Go and Do Not Fear

Read Mark 4:35-41
On a recent trip to Mexico I was on a boat enjoying the sunshine and relaxation. When the boat stopped in a cove and the captain announced it was time for a snorkeling adventure I was not excited. I stayed on the boat and watched my sister jump into the water. She came back so excited and said, “You have to do this – you will not believe the beauty!” After much persuasion I reluctantly jumped in. The water was cold and dark and the mask was tight. I was not enjoying this. Once I relaxed the scenery below came into focus. There was a world of beauty hidden below. I saw small colorful fish, some sardines, a sea turtle and beautiful rock formations. The only way to experience this was to face my fears and jump in.

God commands us many times in the Word, “DO NOT FEAR”. In the middle of a storm Jesus asks His disciples in Mark 4:40, “Why are you so afraid?” In our world today it is easy to have fear filled thoughts. We can worry about our health, accidents or shootings, storms and loss of loved ones. That is why Jesus tells us to cast all our cares on Him, with the assurance that He cares for us.

When we can let go of our worries and fears God can open our eyes to beauty all around us. That beauty is not visible when we are rushing about. How often do we hurry about our daily activities and just skim along the surface of life? We need to stop and appreciate all the blessings and beauty in our lives. The goodness and gifts of God are all around us when we slow down and take time to notice.
Make It Personal
Let’s invite Jesus to take over our worries and fears and then open our eyes to the blessings all around that we so often take for granted. Appreciate the beauty, slow down and give thanks.

~ written by Gloria Yoder

Spiritual Grownups

Read Ephesians 4:1-16
Did your parents ever tell you to choose your friends wisely? I remember my parents telling me this when I was young. How hard could it be to make good friends? What did that mean actually? I am sure many of you, like me, look back at your childhood through the lenses of an adult and see “choosing your friends wisely” to have a far clearer meaning. 1 Corinthians 15:33 “Bad company corrupts good character.” Children should choose friends that treat them kindly, know how to stay out of trouble, friends who care about doing well, friends that will go to Sunday school and youth group with you, and friends who have similar interests. I am sure there are several more qualities on the list that parents may have, but these are often qualities that follow a child into adulthood and show maturity. Sometimes these are the qualities that belong to the friends that last a lifetime.
Just as a child chooses friends wisely, I think it is important for us as adults to do the same. We should surround ourselves with people who are spiritual grownups, and also be spiritual grownups ourselves. Surrounding ourselves with people who are moving forward in their faith will also encourage us to move in the direction of God. Proverbs 27:17 ” As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” Having positive friendships as an adult is very important. God created us to connect with people and share in the goodness of God. Like in our adolescents, we should choose people that will not bring us down. We should surround ourselves with friends that will lift us up, pray for us, and help us talk through the tough situations in life. Surround yourself with friends who Love Jesus!
Make It Personal
Spiritual Grownup Inventory:
1. Am I clear about my choices?
2. Do I know my bible well enough to have an answer before the question?
3. Do my choices mirror immaturity or maturity?
4. Do I sway my opinions or do I stand firm in what God says in his word?
5. Do I show the love of God to the people around me?
6. Do I understand that I cannot justify sin with “it makes me happy”?
7. Do I speak in truth and love?
~written by Emily Kauffman

Safe and Secure

Read: John 10:22-30
When you were little, did you ever have other children try to snatch candy or maybe your lunch money out of your hands? It’s really hard to hold onto something when a stronger person is prying at your fingers, trying to get it out of your hand. Tiny children often lose what they’re holding. They aren’t strong enough or tall enough to protect it. There was one kid in my 6th grade class that nobody could try that on. He was only 11, but he was already over six feet tall. He could just hold the candy over everyone’s heads! Nobody could take things away from him.
Jesus carries us safely in His hands, just like that. He is greater than everyone; nobody can reach over Him or around Him or take us away. He is smarter than all our enemies. And he is stronger, too. Jesus is the Son of God, who loved us so much that He became a human being to live, suffer and die on a cross in order to break the power of death over us. None of us could do that, but Jesus could – and He did. Death could not hold Him. On the third day he rose from the dead, and He will never die again. He gives that same life to you and me, to everyone who trusts in Him. He holds us safely in those strong, nail-scarred hands – and nothing can snatch us away from Him, not sin or death. We are safely in Jesus’ hands forever.
Make It Personal
Being safely in Jesus’ hands is not oppressive, it’s very liberating. Jesus doesn’t say, “Do this, and then maybe you will be good enough to be one of my sheep.” He says, “You belong to me already. No one can snatch you out of my hand.” Secure in this belonging, we are free to live the abundant life which Jesus has made possible. It is life that is abundant in the love of God made known in Jesus Christ, love which overflows to others (John 13:34-35). Let us spread that love of Jesus!
~ written by Lynn Marner

The Great Acceptance

Read: Acts 10

Prayers, conflict, confusion, reliance, listening, directions. Peter was confronted with it all in this encounter. Peter was a good Jew, never eating anything impure or unclean. He followed all the old ways and lived a wholesome Jewish existence. This trance confused him. He pondered it. He didn’t have all the answers right away. When Cornelius’s attendants arrived, Peter showed them hospitality and then went with them the next day.
Fear, Prayers, Gifts, Offerings. Cornelius lived in an upright manner and was wondering what this direction was all about. When Peter arrived, Cornelius recounted his story and had gathered a group to listen to what God commanded.
Verses 34-43 is Peter’s speech where he focuses on the key points: God doesn’t show favoritism, Jesus Christ is Lord of all, God anointed Jesus, There are witnesses to all this, Jesus was killed on the cross, God raised Jesus from the dead, There are witnesses to Jesus after He was raised, We are commanded to preach.
An outpouring of the Holy Spirit into Gentile believers happened because of this encounter and then they were baptized in Jesus’s name. Today, we are able to live fully in Christ Jesus because of this historical event. God doesn’t show favoritism.
Make It Personal
Do you show favoritism? Would you be open to God’s changing of that? Are you willing to act in the midst of confusion? Are you prepared to preach (or speak) in an uncomfortable spot?
God, Thank you for this passage, for showing us different ways that you speak and act in history and how that links to us today. May you allow us, your disciples, to speak boldly what we hear the Holy Spirit share, even if we are confused or fearful, let us be faithful! Amen.
~ written by Jenni Marner