Scripture Reading: March 5 & 6

Jesus Is Tested in the Wilderness

Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, ‘‘If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written: ’He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’”

Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”

Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’ Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him. (Matthew 4:1-11 NIV)

 

 

 

Jesus’ Teaching on Prayer

One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.” He said to them, “When you pray, say: “‘Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread. Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. And lead us not into temptation.’” 

Then Jesus said to them, “Suppose you have a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have no food to offer him.’ And suppose the one inside answers, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children and I are in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.’ I tell you, even though he will not get up and give you the bread because of friendship, yet because of your shameless audacity[e] he will surely get up and give you as much as you need.

“So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

“Which of you fathers, if your son asks for[f] a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:1-13 NIV)


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Do You Bow?

by Mary Reigart

I kept asking God what He wanted me to write this year. I listened and as a result started with scripture rather than casually putting it on at the end.

Ephesians 3:14-21 is a great prayer for the Ephesians and for CABC (as Pastor Josh has told us).

 “For this reason, I bow before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and earth derives his name. I pray that out of His glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwelling your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide, and long and high and deep is the love of Christ and to know this love that surpasses knowledge-that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. And now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to the power that is at work within us”.

Do you bow enough before the God of the Universe?

Rather giving up something for Lent, maybe we could give more time to our Lord and Savior?

During this challenging, polarizing time, doesn’t unification sound amazing? If you are feeling alone, divided, or confused–this scripture calls the whole family to hear. Christ’s last plea on Good Friday was for Unity.

Never forget about the Holy Spirit- the helper, healer, comforter. We sing “The same power that rose Jesus from the dead lives in us”! That means you and me. Now talk about good news!

He calls us to be rooted in love–not Valentines Day love, but His love..to grasp just how big and wide and deep it is. Grand Canyon, look out!

A love that surpasses knowledge is great because fear of failure can make me feel afraid to trust God’s perfect promises or commands.

I have a great imagination-but I can’t comprehend His. After all, He did create everything, including the manatee.

Maybe this Lenten season I can remember the words of Holy Scripture. Or my favorite part. About how He loves me.


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Seek First

by Carl the Coconut

Carlos told me he was working on his Lenten devo for this year already, so naturally I took that as a challenge to turn mine in before he turned his in. That’s another fun fact about coconuts… we’re very competitive. (I’m told that’s not so with humans.) I like a good track record or winning streak and can get a little competitive to maintain those high score numbers. For example, Carlos and I in the last year downloaded one of those free digital Bible apps on our phones complete with daily and weekly streak counts and in-app badges for devotionals and readings we complete. However, I soon found a bit of a flaw in even this wonderful invention… okay perhaps it was more a flaw within myself than the app.

I recently realized that I was more concerned with opening this Bible app and participating in devotional readings in order to make my streak numbers rise than I was in actually spending devotional time with the Lord. What’s more, I was prioritizing reading these devos over reading straight up Scripture. And that made me stop and think one day: was I choosing reading about the power of God’s Word over reading God’s actual Word?

Don’t get me wrong, I loved and still do love this Bible app. I loved so many of the devotionals I read and the way I could connect with coconuts from the same walks of life and share stories and comments about these devotionals we read together. But if I’m honest with myself, I was letting the daily streaks and in-app award badges focus me more on checking off the devo list than spending real time in God’s Word.

And it’s not the app’s fault. I do think it is a wonderful invention and initiative to get Bibles written in all languages to anyone, anywhere across the globe, so everyone can have access to God’s Word. I still have this app on my phone and use it daily. But hear me when I say that I believe there is a difference between reading stories about the power of God’s Word and reading God’s Word. Hearing testimonies from others about how the Bible is alive and active is great but unless you make the time to experience that for yourself, you are still missing something. The devil is pretty crafty in using even seemingly good things to draw us away from God. I mean who would have guessed a Bible app and devotionals could cause a coconut to read less of the actual Bible?! It’s easy to avoid things we know are bad but when even good-intentioned things are used as stumbling blocks in our lives, it’s hard to stay focused. If I let anything keep me from God’s actual Word, it becomes a distraction from hearing God’s voice above everyone else’s voice.

Matthew 6:33 NIV says “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

We need to seek God’s Word first in our lives and read His actual Word daily. Because if He does not remain our focus and main priority, everything else that we do will cease being for Him and start to be for our own selfish motives. And without His voice guiding us daily, we start to get distracted by all the loud and flashy entertainments in this world and we stumble and wander away.

“But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night.” (Psalm 1:2)

 

Lord, thank you for Your Word and for the seemingly endless ways it is available to us. Please help us to read Your Word daily and to keep it at the forefront of our thoughts, actions, and own words. Help us to seek You first each day, that Your spirit would flow through us in all that we do and keep us from the temptations and distractions of this world. Amen.


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The Charge

by Pastor Joshua Trojak

I thought when I wrote my devo for the 2021 Lenten season that there had been a lot of change in 2020. It seems that the year of 2021 was no different. We saw two great staff members off to new chapters of their lives. We have continued to wrestle with the unknown of the world around us. In-building, online, and in-person ministry have happened. Some aspects of ministry have remained the same and other areas of ministry are still trying to figure out our new normal. In the midst of so much change, what has excited me the most has been the desire to continue to minister to our body and our community, despite all of the changes around us.

As we begin this season of Lent rightfully focused on Jesus’ life, I can’t help but remind us of the end of the story. What is the last charge Jesus gives before ascending to the Father?

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20 NIV)

Jesus gave us the example of how to live in His life, death, and resurrection. That should cause us not just to declare His name as Savior (which He IS) but should compel us to declare Him as Lord of our life too. Let’s take this season of Lent to get to know Jesus better – to both know Him and make Him known in our lives. I’ll end with a few verses that have stayed with me since we spent time with them in the fall.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:8-10 NIV)

Lord, we pray that in this season of Lent we would turn our lives back to you and the example you gave. Help us to be reminded not only of what you did, but also to have the courage and perseverance to live a life modeled after your example. We place this 2022 Lent season in your hands. Amen. 


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Tech Tuesday: Spam Email

by Laura Courtney
 
This is a bit longer than our typical “quick help” post on tech related issues, but it is one that undoubtedly one that every person reading this has encountered. There are estimated 122.3 billion spam emails distributed every day. Many of these are very obvious, but others can be a little more thought out.
 
Staff at CABC recently had a sneakier spammer contact several of us which made us think it might be a good time for such a topic. In this instance we’ll give our spammer a little credit since they did their research and tried to take a familiar name for staff (aka Pastor Josh) and then sent the below message to the staff email addresses posted on our website to try to solicit fraudulent payment. (Get thee behind me Satan!)
 

 
So here a just a few pointers to check if you are wondering if an email is spam or not:
 
  1. Sender email. As with our example (see image above), the spammer tried to use the name of someone we’d recognize or deem credible (aka Pastor Josh). However, if you look at the email address associated with the name, while better thought out by our spammer in order to look more credible, it is not a correct email of Pastor Josh. If you don’t see an email address listed immediately in the email, you can usually hover over the sender’s name and a contact box will pop open with the full “from” email address. This is always the quickest way to spot a spammer.
 
  1. Other contact. Again with our example, the spammer was specific in stating it could only be email contact. However, if you are suspicious that an email is spam and definitely if you know the sender name, reach out the them by another means of communication (phone number, Messenger app, etc.). This is of course the easiest way to confirm if any email is legitimate.

 

  1. Link address. Often spammers send emails telling you to sign in or click on a link. Number one rule if you think anything is ever spam is don’t click on links. (But you already knew that because you so smart!)
Opening or even replying to an email does not mean you will be hacked or that you’ve lost your persona info already (that is a common misconception though). However, if you click on a link that is fraudulent and proceed to enter login details, personal info or payment info, this is where you run into hacking and identity theft issues.
If you ever see a link in an email you suspect is fraudulent, hover your cursor over the link. The full HTML or web address can then be seen either in a temporary pop-up window or at the bottom left corner of your screen. If the web address is anything that does not make sense or does not match to the business it is referring to (e.g. if the email says its from CABC, but when you hover over the links within the email and they read something other than www.christabc.org) there is a good chance it is a spam link.

 

  1. Check the link. If all else fails and you still aren’t sure if a link is spam or not there are several web resources you can check the links or emails against. Norton Safe Web, ScanURL, Google Transparency Report, and URLVoid are just to list a few. Again, make sure you’re not clicking the link but instead just copying the text from the email itself. Having security software on your tech devices is also always encouraged. Basic free versions are available and more robust versions can be purchased with a relatively minimal monthly or yearly cost.
 

Hope this was helpful and if you have any follow up questions feel free to comment here, on our social media, or by email (so long as you’re not a spammer 😉)!


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Love Never Stops

by Laura Courtney
 
We are wrapping up our summer looking at the characteristics of love from Paul in 1 Corinthians 13 (verses 4-7).

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

This is quite an extensive list. To ask where you need to grow is a little rhetorical because we all need to continue to grow in all these areas. Perhaps we are better in one or two of these areas most of the time, or it is easier to control some of these characteristics within ourselves usually, but overall we are human and thus prone to selfish and broken ways.

We need to constantly be striving to better ourselves in all these areas. That may seem like an impossible task, but if we continually fix our eyes on Christ we will always have a clear course marked out for us.

I think its interesting that this list starts out somewhat easy or at least in a way where we can say, “yeah I can try to be more patient, or more kind.” But as we work on bettering ourselves and our actions of love in each of these characteristics, we will continue to meet more and more difficult characteristics within ourselves that we must overcome to love more like Christ. One can attempt to be more patient, but it can be harder to catch oneself being envious, or harder to control envious thoughts perhaps. And then still to not be self-seeking, or to not be easily angered. Finally we are tasked to the “always” clauses which undoubtedly we will struggle to always do.

But the more and more we continually focus on these characteristics, and the more we try and try and try, even after failing and falling short in between each attempt, the closer to grow to Christ and the closer we grow to a peace and joy that points others to Him too.

Because ultimately this list is not for our own end. Its not a checklist to get into Heaven. It’s not our report card by which God grades us each year. It is instead a collaborative embodiment that demonstrates the love of Christ to others. That when we are more patient, more kind, less self-seeking, unendingly hopeful and unwavering in our perseverance – that is what sets us apart. That is what exemplifies that we belong to a Kingdom that is not of this world, and that cannot be shaken by the whims of political powers and earthly authorities.

We love through it all because God loved us through it all. Despite our sin, our guilt, our shame, and our evil ways, He gave His all that we might have new and endless life in Him. May we seek to live our lives worthy of that sacrifice and as ambassadors of a King who loves unconditionally. Let us continually strive to never cease growing in love just as His love is so endless.
 
“But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)
 
“Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations…” (Deuteronomy 7:9)

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