Scripture Reading: Matthew 5:1-12

Introduction to the Sermon on the Mount
Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them.

The Beatitudes
He said:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.

Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Continue reading the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7.


We Never Know In Life Whom We May Meet

by Deb Leib

A man went to the park and saw a little girl sitting by herself. Everyone passed by her and never stopped to see why she looked so sad. Dressed in a worn pink dress, barefoot and dirty, the girl just sat and watched the people go by. She never tried to speak. She never said a word. Many people passed by her, but no one would stop. The next day he decided to go back to the park in curiosity to see if the little girl would still be there. Yes, she was there, right in the very spot where she was yesterday, and still with the same sad look in her eyes. Today he was to walk over to the little girl. For as we all know, a park full of strange people is not a place for young children to play alone. As he got closer he could see the back of the little girl’s dress. It was grotesquely shaped. He figured that was the reason people just passed by and made no effort to speak to her. Deformities are a low blow to our society and, heaven forbid if you make a step toward assisting someone who is different. As he got closer, the little girl lowered her eyes slightly to avoid his intent stare. As he
approached her, he could see the shape of her back more clearly. She was shaped in a humped over form. The man smiled to let her know it was ok; he was there to help, to talk. He sat down beside her and opened with a simple, “Hello.” The little girl acted shocked, and stammered a quick “hi” after a long stare into the man’s eyes. The man smiled and she shyly smiled back. The two talked until darkness fell and the park was completely empty. Finally the man ask the girl why she was so sad. The little girl looked at him with a sad face and said, “Because, I’m different.” Immediately he said, ‘That you are!”, and smiled. The little girl acted even sadder and said, “I know.” “Little girl,” the man said, “you remind me of an angel, sweet and innocent.” She looked at him and smiled then slowly she got to her feet and said, “Really?” “Yes,” he said. “You’re like a little Guardian Angel sent to watch over all the people walking by.” She nodded her head yes, and smiled. With that she opened the back of her pink dress and allowed her wings to spread, then she said “I am. I’m your Guardian Angel,” with a twinkle in her eye. The man was speechless – sure he was seeing things. She said, “For once you thought of someone other than yourself. My job here is done.” The man got to his feet and said, “Wait, why did no one stop to help an angel?” She looked at him, smiled, and said, “You’re the only one that could see me,” and then she was gone. And with that, his life was changed dramatically.

I know in my life there were two incidents that I often wonder, could God have placed an angel in my path to see how I would react to that person? If they were angels, I pray I past the test. I really feel in my heart they were angels sent to earth in a human form. I hope one day I find out.

Hebrews 13:2 “Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.”



by Deb Trojak
“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds,” Hebrews 10:24

Have you ever considered who has been a catalyst to you in your faith walk? This past month in the Pulse the teens focused on the word “catalyst” and what that meant in terms of faith. [A catalyst is something or someone that starts a reaction.] I had the chance to share with the youth group a few of the people that have “spurred on” my faith, and since then I’ve continued to mull over who has had an impact on my relationship with Jesus and why.

My great aunts, Welda Bell and Nancy Benedict come to my mind. They dragged my father kicking and screaming (literally) to VBS, were a huge influence on his faith, and were one of the reasons my parents met. They also invested time in my siblings and me. Under their supervision I attended CEF summer camp, did a summer missionary training in Baltimore, and organized a small group for my peers that met in their home.

My youth leaders in high school, Jason and Julie Chitester. They taught me how to dig into scripture and study the Bible. They asked deep questions and encouraged me to ask them as well. Their influence was a part of what helped me to
begin pursuing Christ and making my relationship with Him my own in a way that I had never done before.

The person in college who helped to reignite my faith, Shane Locke. I became the volunteer female youth leader at the church where he was leading the youth group. He was one of the people that drew me back to a faith I had walked away from. He also suggested I work at Christian summer camp, Camp Judson – where I ended up meeting my husband (and where we got the name for our oldest kiddo). My friendship with him set me on a different path from the one I was
headed down, and in some ways, changed my life forever.

My husband, Josh Trojak. A mutual friend from camp once commented that Josh was the same person both in the “camp bubble” and in the real world. Before I “liked” him, I was very aware that he was a man of integrity. And in the past 14 years, he is often the person that has redirected my focus when I take my eyes off of Christ and put them on myself.

This is just a small snapshot of all the people who have played such a huge role in spurring me on in my relationship with Christ. Grandparents, parents, siblings, relatives (both by blood and marriage), Sunday school teachers, pastors, mentors, bosses, coworkers, friends, authors, musicians…. The list goes on and on. There are so many people who have helped me deepen my relationship with Christ. Who called me out on sin that I needed to deal with. Who encouraged me and came alongside me when it seemed too hard to keep running towards Him. Who set an example that I want to follow.

Who has been a catalyst in your faith walk? My encouragement to you is to start making a list for yourself of who and why they specifically are someone who has impacted you. (Maybe even take some time to thank a few of them for what they’ve meant to you and your relationship with Christ.) Then take it a step further – Who can you be a catalyst for? We interact with people every day, and God has placed people in our lives that we can affect (for better or worse). What sort of catalyst will you be to those around you?


Alone Time

by Terry Hess
Matthew 6:6
“When you pray go into your room close the door and pray to your Father, who can’t be seen. He will reward you. Your Father sees what is done secretly.”

This was our KidzLife lesson on January 25, 2023. When we talked about this in our group the answers were not a surprise. No one had the time to do it and the excuses were all very similar. They did not have the time, the did not want to put their phone down, they did not want to put away any of their devices, turn off their TV, or put down their computer. When you ask children a question you get the truth. They just did not see the need to take the time for alone time prayer.

I feel we as adults use the same excuses when it comes to our devices such as phones, computers, TVs and other
distractions. I have also found that children learn from us adults doing these things so they feel it is okay for them. As parents and grandparents, we need to set the example for them.

Luke 5:16 tell us Jesus often prayed alone. He prayed so He could stay in touch with His Heavenly Father. We need to do the same. We need to be the example for our children/grandchildren. Find a place, put away your distractions, empty your thoughts and talk to Jesus. You will be amazed at the results.

Prayer: Lord, let me set time to be alone with you and to listen to you. Amen.


Do You Know Me?

by Joe Becker

We watched from a window as an unfamiliar vehicle pulled up our driveway. Then there came a faint knock at the back door. “Come in!” I hollered, from a choice center of repose. “Come in!” I yelled from my favorite couch – from just off the kitchen. Soon a perfect stranger was standing in our doorway. He whispered, “Don’t you know me?”

Although his face was totally unfamiliar, he insisted he knew me, and rather well at that. But I noticed when the older gentleman cautioned our rug, that he could hardly raise his voice at all. Suddenly I was saddened by a speech impediment. I struggled deeply to recognize him. Deeper still, I wanted to know him. Then the stranger, as troubled as he was, again turned to my wife and whispered: “He doesn’t know me.”

Now we were all three affected by such an uncomfortable greeting. Yet I studied his face and adjusted to some more of his whispers. As I focused on the subtle nuances of his voice and manner, I noted how much we may actually “know” a person, not only by one’s face, but by their voice as well. Presently, I remembered him from meager accounts with mutual friends, some of them from fifty years ago…

Someone has said: “We may know some things that we haven’t remembered yet”. But I still could neither recognize nor identify this man without his voice. This started an hour-long conversation which revealed that he had experienced Cardiac Arrest a year or two earlier. We discussed how he was saved by the Providence of God, his Grand-daughter’s actions as a nurse, and her CPR training as well. We were all quick to be thankful for friends and family.

After he had gone, we considered his visit, and commented on his calm spirit. Then we looked up terms like ‘Intubation’ and the “Mitral Valve” etc., to better understand various CA heart conditions, – particularly, terms associated with the larynx and vocal chords.

Initially, it was easy to connect the day’s events with John 10:27: “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.”

In further review, I think about the vast greatness and wisdom of our God, to create us in His image, with an ability to speak and hear and commune with not only each other, but with God through Christ, remembering Him who ever lives to intercede for us.


Preliminary Questions

by Anonymous
It seems much of how our minds process data is based off of first impressions. We see something, make a snap judgement of it, and based off that our mind categorizes what just happened. We process data based upon these schemas; they are what allow us to function in life without using up all our mental capacity on menial or rapidly occurring happenings. This is why first impressions matter so much. Every decision afterwards that pertains to the same person or a similarscenario will always be impacted by the parameters defined by that first encounter, even if we don’t consciously realize it.
Because of that, I often wonder why Luke chose to introduce us to Jesus as he did. In the Gospel of Luke, the first time Jesus speaks he says, “Why were you searching for me?” Why did Luke choose that as the first recorded words of Jesus in his Gospel? I know contextually it is because a 12-year-old Jesus was just missing for three days, and He is asking his parents this question. However, what if Luke was using that question as a challenge to us as the readers? I’m assuming that is not the case, but if it is, what would your answer be? If that question is pointed dead at you and no one else, how do you answer? Why were you searching for Jesus? Each one of us needs to know the answer to that question, and use that answer to direct us even more towards Christ. The reason we searched for Christ doesn’t end once we find Him.
Then in the Gospel of John, again the first recorded instance of Jesus speaking is a very candid question, “What do you want?” If Jesus, with all the intensity of the Lord Almighty, is staring you alone in the eyes, into your very soul, how do you answer Him? What do we want from Christ?
Each one of us is responsible for our own answers to these questions. These answers help us define and focus our faith. Why were we searching for Him and what do we want from Him?