Do You Believe

by Pastor Joshua Trojak
 

Anybody feel scarred by this past year? I can say I physically will probably have an actual lifelong scar because of 2020. That sounds ominous, but it really isn’t that bad. One of my 2020 moments was having to run down a problem with our sanctuary projector setup. While crawling around in the attic of the sanctuary, I cut my wrist on a metal joist bracket. I didn’t think much of it at the time but I can still see it on my wrist today. It got me to thinking about the lasting affect that 2020 will have on our lives, whether we like it or not. There were plenty of things this past year that we would like to forget. But in the midst of the painful scars, there were times of God’s presence, provision, and healing that we must not forget.

The question is, how can we heal from those scars? I think Jesus gives us a great example. When He rose and conquered death, He wasn’t the same. His divinity was now on full display but his body still bore the marks of what happened on the cross.

“Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you!’ After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.” (John 20:19b-20)

His hands and side had scars of what He went through but the end result made those scars worth it.

Our scars are not on the same level as Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice for us but our scars (from 2020 or any other time in life) can remind us that God can redeem anything. He hasn’t left us in the struggle and can use those scars to bring people to know His love in the future. Thomas wouldn’t believe Jesus was alive until he could physically touch those wounds on
Jesus. After doing so, he believed. We can’t touch His scars but we can rest in the promise that Jesus made just after Thomas believed.

“Then Jesus told him, ‘Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.’” (John 20:29)

Do you believe?


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Scripture Focus: The Greatest Commandment

The Greatest Commandment

“Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: ‘Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?’”

“Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.’”

(Matthew 22:34-40)


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Finding Joy

by Brooke Arney
 

The year of 2020 was a year of many ups and downs for me, as it was for all of us.

My 2020 consisted of my parents getting a divorce, Covid, helping my mother move, getting engaged, planning a
wedding, getting married, moving, and so much more. One thing 2020 has taught me though is that even when I can’t see what will happen next, I need to trust in God.

James 1:2-4 have always been some of my favorite verses because it flat out tells you life won’t be easy. I’ve read these verses many times through 2020 to remind myself that I should find joy in these times, because even if everything in my life falls apart, God is using those moments to teach me how to listen for that quite whisper of His voice. When a teacher is teaching, you have to be quite otherwise you’ll miss the lesson.

My favorite way to spend time with God and when I feel most connected with Him is by listening to worship music. Some of my favorites are “Lean Back” by Capital City Music and “Midnight” by Rita Springer. God’s Word and some amazing songs have taught me so much this year. So I challenge you to find a song and just listen to it or pour your heart out to God as it plays. God is always eager to hear from us, and the good thing is that He never gets tired of us.

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:2-4)


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Remain In Him

by Mark Schumacher
 

During a recent quiet devotional time (like you are doing now), I read in John 15 where Jesus talks about the fact that He is the vine and we are the branches. In verse 4 He says, “‘Remain in Me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in Me.’”

As Christians, I suspect we all want to accomplish things for Jesus – have our lives mean something and have purpose. The word remain stuck with me after this most recent reading of that verse. What does that really mean? How can I remain in Jesus?

I can recall times I have desired to remain in a particular setting or moment – the birth of one of our children, taking in a spectacular sunset, or standing at the edge (not too far out) of the Grand Canyon. All of these moments, and others we can all remember, are times where we cannot remain. My Bible dictionary/concordance defines remain: to abide or continue unchanged; to be something yet to be shown. One thought from this is that when I remain in Christ, I do not get pulled into worldly things – not moving away from the mindset and activities God has deemed for me to ponder and to do. But that can be accomplished only through the power of the Spirit that God has placed in me and by becoming sensitive to His leading. Giving me the ability to love others as He commands. Keeping me unchanged, still redeemed and obedient to God’s call.

I also like the part of the definition that says something yet to be shown. Could that be opportunities that God has for me to experience? Can that mean He will reveal to me the person I can truly be in Christ? How can I be successful at doing that? He has provided His Word, His constant presence, His Spirit living in me, the fellowship of our church body, and a mind and heart that can decide where my mind remains.

Dear God, help me in my quest to want more of you. As the world continues to reach for my time, my heart and my mind, help me to find ways to remain in you. You desire that, I know, and you have a plan for me. A plan that can include sharing your love when I do avail myself to your will and leading. Thank for your love for me and the gift of your availability. So when I do decide at any moment, you are there for me to remain in your presence and love.

Have a blessed Easter season!


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Cast Your Cares

by Ariana Slenker
 

In any anxious situation, you have two options. You can either break down or break through. I have had many anxious moments in my life but in many situations, I have tried to turn towards God. In those times, I have turned to two different verses.

“Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken.” (Psalm 55:22)

This verse helps to remind me that even though I have my rough patches, I am still loved by God and He will help to guide me through my struggles.

The other verse is “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7)

This verse is the one I turn to the most. It helps me remember that I’m not in this fight alone. I can trust God to help me and to not abandon me.

A lot of times I feel like I fight the same fight over and over again but the difference is when I put my trust in the Lord, the fight feels different. There is a weight lifted off my shoulders and I know that God has my back.


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When We Don’t Know What to Pray For

by Linda Zeigler
 

“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself
intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. (Romans 8:26-27)

In February 2014, my granddaughter Addie had a liver transplant. Five years later, March 2019, she was diagnosed with cancer. On the same day, Doug’s Dad, Steve, had a stroke and in April he had open heart surgery. On June 28, 2019, Doug went to be with Jesus.

I found these words in Romans that helped me make it through. I got to the point I just didn’t know what to pray for; all I could do was groan.

These words of Jesus still help me through the days when it hurts so much. Sometimes life gets so overwhelming. Even with all that everyone is going through, God is there for us.

Thank you, Jesus.


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