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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Share the Good News

by Brian Reigart
 

I’m sure we all agree that 2020 was a difficult, crazy year. Who would have imagined we would have a pandemic, civil
unrest, and an election like no other. I admit that I was caught up in the election media-hype and rhetoric more than I should have been.

Like many people, I wondered what could possibly happen next? Would it get worse? What could possibly happen to me or my family? As God is wont to do, he showed me a devotion about being content based on Hebrews 13:5-6. “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you. So we say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?’” That verse and devotion certainly helped calm my fears and put my mind at ease.

With all that going on in the world, my thoughts turned toward the end times. We know that before Jesus returns there will be troubles. But before He returns, He had to come to earth and become the perfect sacrifice for our sins. The babe of Christmas, Emmanuel God with us, who became the perfect Lamb and gave himself for our sins. That sacrifice is what we celebrate at Easter.

So as we look forward to Easter, let’s put aside the cares of this world and focus on the salvation provided by His sacrifice and His resurrection.

Do you KNOW He made that sacrifice for you? Have you ACCEPTED Him as your Savior? Have you ASKED Him into your heart?

If you know Him, are you willing to share the Good News of His sacrifice with others? There has never been a better time. People are wondering what is happening in the world and what is coming. Let’s tell them about Jesus, His sacrifice, and His return.

As Paul wrote to the Philippians, “I want to know Christ- yes to know the power of His resurrection…not that I have already obtained it….But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind [and around us in this world] and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal, to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:10-14)

God has called each of us to a heavenly prize but given us an earthly task, to share the news about the Savior.

Let’s prepare to celebrate Easter and Jesus’ resurrection and to share that Good News with those around us.


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Scripture Focus: Jesus Predicts His Death

Jesus Predicts His Death

“From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. ‘Never, Lord!’ he said. ‘This shall never happen to you!’”

“Jesus turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the
concerns of God, but merely human concerns.’”

“Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done.’”

“‘Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.’”

(Matthew 16:21-28)


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Living in Limbo

by Deb Trojak
 

Waiting. Oh, how I dislike to wait. And yet, that is what the past year of my life has been. Honestly, it is what the majority of my life has been. When I was younger, I thought life began at 13 because it was then that I could wear make-up, get my ears pierced, and babysit. (Yes, I definitely had my priorities straight….) During high school I could not wait until college. Then college came and I was super excited to graduate, get a job, get married. Then once married, I couldn’t wait to have kids. And now that I have kids…well of course, now I’m not waiting for anything. (Mmmhmmm.)

Then along came this past year – a year of blank calendars, uncertainty, and…yep…waiting. Some of that because of the pandemic but a lot of it was also from becoming a foster family. There is so much living in limbo when you become a foster parent. For a couple months we weren’t sure what children would be placed with us. We waited expectantly to see how many, what ages, genders, personalities, etc.

Since July and the arrival of our foster kiddos, it has been a long process of living with uncertainty with no foreseeable end in sight. Will they get to stay with us? Will the courts decide to give them back to their parents? Each month brings about delays and pushed back hearings. And yet, in the midst of all of this unknown – life happens. We continue to discover who these three beautiful children are and how they fit into our family. We continue to live. I’ve realized that this kind of living is very much how we are to live as Christians. In Hebrews 11:1 it says – “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” We do not know when Christ will return, but we do know He will return. There’s a theological concept called the “already-not yet.” It’s the idea that we as believers live in a time of tension. Christ’s first coming started the end times, but it is not “the end” until He comes again. So we are to live in the present, while holding on to the promises for the future.

And life continues to happen in the waiting. Thankfully, as a Christian, the expectation of what is to come makes the wait worth it. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 says, “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet
inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

On the days I lose heart, I need to change where my focus is. These circumstances are temporary. At some point, it will become clear whether these children will stay in our home or not. (And at that point, I will then have to start waiting for something else.)

The wonderful thing in the midst of all the “momentary troubles” is that at the end there is an “eternal glory.” So in the small amount of time I have with these children, I can hopefully have an impact that is eternal. I can be present in the
moment, while looking forward to the certainty of what Christ has for me and for them.


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