Scripture Reading: Matthew 14:22-36

Jesus Walks on the Water
Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.

Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.

But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”

“Come,” he said.

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”

Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”

And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

When they had crossed over, they landed at Gennesaret. And when the men of that place recognized Jesus, they sent word to all the surrounding country. People brought all their sick to him and begged him to let the sick just touch the edge of his cloak, and all who touched it were healed.


Children of Light

by Barb Schumacher

Ephesians 5:8-21

It always amazes me (and it shouldn’t) when Pastor Josh’s sermon is reflected in our discussion at adult Sunday school (School of Christian Living) or when what we share at KidzLife on Wednesday evening lines up with one of my small group studies.

Recently, during one of our KidzLife meetings, we were discussing Jesus’ charge to us as believers to “let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16. As God’s Garage became completely dark and quiet, we realized the impact of light, as each child took turns turning on a small flashlight. What a difference light makes in the darkness…..even a small light!

In the same way, Ephesians 5:8-21 was the text for a recent discussion in my ladies’ Bible study group where the apostle Paul tells the believers in Ephesus (and all believers) that “you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light.” The questions that beg to be asked are “How do we live as children of light when we see so much darkness in the world today?” and “Exactly what does it look like to live as children of light?” First of all, I believe it isn’t living in a bubble and avoiding the world at all costs. It also isn’t staying super busy and ignoring those in our community, our
neighbors and our friends. And it definitely isn’t pointing our finger at those living in darkness and having no love and compassion for them.

Instead, the Holy Scripture from Ephesians 5: 8-21 goes on to tell us how we are to live:

  • First, we are to be filled with the Holy Spirit – daily dying to self and allowing the Spirit control.
  • We are then filled with His goodness, His righteousness and His truth.
  • We are to be careful how we live.
  • We are to sing and make music in your heart to the Lord! (Singing hymns in the car counts!)
  • We are to give thanks to God the Father for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
  • And we are to make the most of every opportunity. An interruption could be a God appointment!
  • And finally, we are to be humble and submissive out of reverence for Christ.

All of that sounds like a tall order…and it is! It goes completely against our human nature, which is why we need the Holy Spirit to “fall afresh on us” each day. He will empower us to be His light in this dark world.

May the Lord, through His Holy Spirit, help us to shine His light into the darkness so that others will see the True Light, glorify God and live for Him.

Heavenly Father, fill me anew today with Your Holy Spirit. Help me to make the most of every opportunity to live as a child of Your light so that others may be drawn to You. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.


Go Tell It On The Mountains

by Laura Courtney

This past summer, my husband and I decided to celebrate our ten year anniversary hiking a couple 14,000 ft mountains in Colorado. We spent several months planning and preparing for such an adventure – and by preparing I mean months of running on a treadmill to help with cardio endurance as well as altitude.

Once we finally got out there, our first mountain on the hiking itinerary was a loop of four “14ers” called Decalibron – Mt. Democrat, Mt. Lincoln, Mt. Cameron and Mt. Bross. Now, if you’re like me, you would think this would be a pretty isolated adventure. Well, like me, you’d be wrong. We began hiking a little before 5:00am and the parking lot was already full. As we began climbing we were able to keep to ourselves for the most part, but as we started the steeper ascents up each mountain we started passing more and more people (both those hiking up and those already hiking down).

Throughout the rest of the morning, we passed (and were passed) by many hikers. It seemed almost ridiculous how many people were on this mountain. Finally, as we reached the summit of #3, Mt. Cameron, and started onto our last summit, we came into a stride another woman. Naturally, for some of that time we were close enough, and breathing more
evenly enough, that we could have a small conversation. And one part of that conversation I have thought about quite often since. It was nothing profound, she simply gave a comment about how beautiful the wild flowers and weeds were that grew on top of the mountains. I had the quick thought in my mind to say, “Yes they are. Isn’t it amazing to see how God has made such beauty even all the way up here?!” But I didn’t. I thought it might be awkward to say that…Then I thought about how maybe I should still say it…Then I thought I really, probably should say it…Then I thought about how much time had passed since the comment that now it’s too late to say anything at all because it would be so delayed, and awkward, and…. So I didn’t. And I have been so annoyed at myself ever since.

That whole afternoon I kept thinking of 1 Peter 3:15, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” Always. Be. Prepared.

Who would have thought I would have had an opportunity to speak the name of God to someone else on top of a
mountain? Clearly I didn’t. And clearly I wasn’t as prepared as I thought for that trip. Two days later we had traveled to our second location to hike, Mt. Elbert. It is the tallest mountain in the Rocky Mountains and second tallest in the continental United States. If that first mountain was busy, I figured this one would be too. So I prepared myself. I prayed for courage to just speak God’s name if the opportunity presented itself again. (I didn’t want to preach a sermon or anything, I just wanted to speak if I had the chance to redeem myself a little from that first encounter.) But I didn’t. Mt. Elbert was much less populated hiking up and we only passed one person throughout our entire ascent.

So, I’m still waiting. I still think about this encounter a lot and would like to think I am more prepared and more readily looking for the opportunities God has for me in the future. Currently my husband and I are planning another Colorado trip this June to hike two more mountains. We’ve already started preparing – both physically and spiritually. I just want to encourage you as well that if you think there is no opportunity to speak the name of Jesus where you are, don’t worry… God has a habit of putting people around you in even the most remote of places to share His hope and good news (read Acts 8:26-40 if you don’t believe me). God can use us wherever we are, we just have to be willing to listen and obey. Take the time, meanwhile, to make sure you are prepared for those encounters too.


The Commission

by Don Abbey
Recently Chris and I finished watching the third season of “The Chosen.” I was mesmerized by the portrayal of how Jesus chose, taught and encouraged his disciples. We all know how the story goes: He selected a band of ragtag individuals from various backgrounds and identities; He asked them to follow him without many, if any, questions; He taught them by performing signs and wonders; He preached through stories (parables) that were relatable and relevant to the times. And then He asked them to go two by two to the “corners of the world” to share the Good News of God’s Kingdom. Yes, the disciples had doubts and anxieties over this assignment because they didn’t feel worthy or even up to the task. They didn’t think they were qualified or equipped to handle such a monumental undertaking.

I think, sometimes as disciples of Jesus, we might feel the same. However, Jesus was clear to each of us in Matthew 28: 18-20. Here we find the “marching orders” from Jesus that we know as the Great Commission. I think there are two things we should remember about this passage. First, these words are a command and not a suggestion. That’s why it is the Great Commission and not the Great Suggestion! These words were given to every follower of Jesus. If I am His disciple, I am commanded to go and make disciples of others. Secondly, some believe that to fail to do this could be a sin. James 4:17 says, “Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is a sin.” This is called a sin of omission, which is not doing what you are supposed to do. A thought to certainly ponder!

The Commission is not to wait for the world to come to us; it is to go into all of the world. Are you going into all of “your world?” Am I doing the same? If we are not trying to make disciples of others, then maybe, we are not being the disciple God wants us to be. These words were not only given to the original apostles, nor were they exclusively for pastors, evangelists, and missionaries. They are for every follower of Jesus. They are for us! It doesn’t necessarily mean we are to cross the sea. But certainly a good start would be crossing the street to talk to a neighbor.

I am struck by the contemporary Christian musicians and singers called Cain. Chris and I heard them in concert two summers ago. Their worship song titled “The Commission” tells the story of His command to the disciples and others. Pay close attention to the lyrics as you listen to this beautiful song ( Yes, “go tell the world about me.” Interestingly, this song is 3 minutes and 16 seconds long. A coincident, I think not! Blessings, as you serve our Lord!


Foster the Family

by Aimee Moul

This past year I read a book titled, “Foster the Family”, written by Jamie C Finn. Some of you may already know, our daughter, Sarah and our son-in-law, Jacob are foster parents. They had their approval meeting on January 27, 2023. In preparation for helping them with the children, I have been reading a lot of books on foster care. Hands down, this is the best one I have read so far. (Thank you, Deb Trojak!)

This book has changed me and my thinking in many ways. As a foster parent, Jamie is often in the position to not only care for foster children but also the biological parents of these children. Jamie talks about her struggles with the
biological parents and how she classifies them as enemies. She states that this helps her because she then knows how to treat them because the Bible is clear on how we are to treat our enemies. The name “enemy” includes those that hurt her or the children a little or a lot.

“But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.”
Luke 6:27-28

“Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone…On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” Romans 12:17, 20

“Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a
blessing.” 1 Peter 3:9

“But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you”
Matthew 5:44

Not easy, I know!

Jamie sums up her chapter on the topic this way: “God’s direction for dealing with our enemies is counterintuitive,
countercultural, seemingly counterproductive. I’m the first one to get my back up and stand up for myself and others, and verses about “blessing” and “doing good” are like a slap in the face to my sense of justice and righteousness and, well, self-righteousness.
“The ability to love our enemies is found in a deep trust in our God. In our finiteness, we think that if we don’t see and experience justice now, injustice must be reigning. But our God always reins. He will right every wrong and repair every broken thing. He will punish wrong and defeat evil. Sometimes He will even restore and redeem what we—in our limited wisdom—thought needed to be punished and defeated. In any case, God will have the final word with our enemies. In every case, He will reward our love to them.
“But friend, you were loved by God when you were hard to love. You still are. “beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” (1 John 4:11). When I’m weary and weak and unwilling, I remember this love—shown to an enemy—that has colored ever part of my life. It is the love of Christ that made my dead heart alive and able to love and that gives me the strength to do all things, even love my foster child’s family. “

This is all very fascinating to me, but what does it mean to me? I may never meet a biological parent of a foster child, but all the same, I need to show love to those that hurt me and others “a little or a lot”. I need to love people who are different from me. I need to love people who think differently than me. I need to love those who persecute me. I need to love those that have a differing political view than me. I need to love people who look different from me. I need to love those that don’t like me. I need to love those that say mean things about me, true or not true. I think you get the picture. It all comes down to love. It doesn’t mean we have to agree with any sin associated with these our enemies, but we need to love the people committing those sins. In the words of Lord, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”

Although, God has been working this out in my heart for quite some time, God really got my attention when I read it in this book. This is such a challenge for me. Maybe you too?

Precious Heavenly Father, I thank you for this day and I pray that you help me to love like you love. You know that some are easier than others. Help me to see what you see in each of the people I come across. I know you created each one of us and you love each one of us. Help us to focus on the things we have in common, not our differences. Help us love you and people. In Jesus’ Holy Name, Amen.


A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words

by Laura Enslen
Pictures are so wonderful! Often, they can trigger a memory or tell a story. As a mom of three, I’m usually not the one in the pictures, but behind the camera capturing the smiles of those I love. Our dear brother, Pastor Polo captured this
picture however back in July 2022, and I am so thankful to have this image.
Although I am a mother here in the US to three extraordinary kids (ok…end mother brag here!), I am “mom” to some extraordinary kids that live in Dominican Republic. This sweet boy is called, Mario Felix. When we went on our team trip in March 2022, he was a student in the classroom that I was assigned. He is a student at our school at Batey 35 in the sugar cane fields of the DR; a school that so many of you here support. Mario Felix is one of many whose life has changed because of our school. He knows about His savior, Jesus Christ and his basic needs are provided for daily through the
education, care and nourishment he receives at Batey 35 school. Mario Felix has a way of capturing your heart with his sparkling eyes and dynamic personality.

There was a song some years back called, “When God Ran.” Part of the lyrics say, “He ran to me. He took me in his arms. Held my head to his chest. Said my son’s come home again. Lifted my face. Wiped the tears from my eyes. With
forgiveness in his voice He said, ‘Son do you know I still love you?’” What you can’t see in this picture was the surprise, joy and the fact that Mario Felix and I ran to each other just before this embrace. See, Mario didn’t know I was coming back in July. That embrace was God using me to show Mario that he is seen; He is not forgotten and God loves him so much. The Haitian boys and girls that live in the DR are often unseen. Their lives are very simple. Each day is the same as the next. Life in the Batey is monotonous at best and incredibly difficult at worst.

In Matthew 18, Jesus was asked about who is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven? Jesus takes the opportunity to teach the disciples that “whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.” (vs. 4-5) Children are treasured by the Lord. In the same chapter then, Jesus shares the parable of the wandering sheep and reminds them that a shepherd will leave the 99 sheep to find the one that has wandered off. “In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should perish.” (vs. 14)

Please keep our team in prayer as 37 of us are traveling March 4-12 and will be serving alongside our staff at the school in Batey 35 to continue to share the love Jesus has for each of them.

Lord Jesus, thank you for saving us, for loving us, and for seeing each of us. There have been times in my life where I know you have run to me to remind me that you are my Father and you love me. May we each share that same love around us, and may the children in our lives know that they are gift not only to us in this world, but to their Heavenly Father. Amen.