Authority

by Herman Crawford
Our small group this month is looking at authority—and our homework assignment was to answer two questions: “who do you have authority over” and “who has authority over you.” The genesis of this is 1 Peter 2, where Peter tells us we are to “submit to every human authority.”
 
As I was thinking about the question “who has authority over me,” I thought about God and His authority. Talk about ultimate authority. In Genesis 1, there are about nine times in the NIV translation that reads “And God said” and things happen. He said “Let there be light” and it was so. He said “let there be” again and the heavens and waters separated. He spoke again and there was earth; again and there was night and day. This continued until finally God looked at His creation, said it was good, and rested.
 
Then look at “authority” in the New Testament. Matthew 7 tells us that Jesus was “teaching them as one having authority.” The New Testament speaks of Jesus having “authority” over unclean spirits, to forgive sins and in Matthew 28, He says “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.” With this kind of power, how did Jesus end up nailed to the cross? He told Peter in the Garden of Gethsemane when He was arrested to put his sword away and in verse 53—“Or do you think that I cannot appeal to My Father, and He will at once put at My disposal more than twelve legions of angels?” This, my friends, is authority!
 
Then He was crucified, He died, and was buried. Is this where His authority ended? Peter says not even. Acts 2:24, Peter says “God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power.” Authority over death! We celebrate that authority at Easter. We celebrate a risen Christ who has all authority in heaven, on the earth and in the grave. All authority over all things—ALL things!
But does He have authority over your life?
Father, thank You that with Your authority to create with just Your voice, You also give us authority. That authority allows us to go against what You have deemed to be good and in our best interests. May Your Spirit watch over us and lead us in Your way, under Your authority. Amen.

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What About Me?

by Mark Schumacher
How often do I ask myself that question—more often quietly to myself? Well, I should keep track on a given day or each day for a week. While I believe my heart is usually in the right place, catch me in my work setting and next thing I know, a shift has taken place (not that this is the only place, but it seems to happen quicker at work). Work provides a vast array of personalities and situations, people who can’t or just don’t feel like doing their work thoroughly, followed by demands from upstairs I am not ready to hear. Well, those good intentions I carried with me from my morning devotions have taken a big hit. I am in self-preservation mode—more like selfish mode.
 
Can I give examples when I am elsewhere? You bet I can. But this is to be a short devotional, so I’ll share those another time. Why is it so easy to focus on what is best for me, what I can do for my enjoyment, what my goals are for the day and receiving what I believe I deserve? If I allow my natural tendencies to control any situation, selfishness reigns!
 
Philippians 2:3-4 reminds me clearly…“Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” Well, Paul has made that clear!
 
Key reminders that I see in this passage are: Don’t be selfish Be humble (lowliness of mind) Consider others’ interests more than my own These motives will stem from love (God’s love for me, passing through me to others)
 
That surely sounds like Jesus—giving up his rights for others while helping those around Him wherever He could. He is the truest, most perfect example of a servant. This verse involves what I can do for those in my workplace. It does not matter if they meet my standards. They are God’s children.
Opportunities are not limited to just my workplace, but also my neighborhood, my church family, my biological family, and the family of God everywhere. The Lord can use me anywhere and anytime to help someone and to share the love of Jesus in some way, if I am open and willing.
 
Can I start working on my perspective? Can I not allow my surroundings to distract my focus away from what God’s Word convicts me to do? I am for trying harder, loving the unlovable, and asking God to show me where He wants to use me—today and each day I wake up. Are we all up for that challenge?
 
We are only here on earth for a short time. Why not make the most of it before we meet Jesus at the end of our time on this earth. Just ask Him…where and how would you like me to serve You, Lord, and others, today, this week, this year? He will not leave our side, and I expect we will enjoy being a vessel for His kingdom work. We have to admit—it does feel better to give than receive. Also, maybe once in a while, we can reward ourselves too. We should celebrate those special times when ministry goes well and when we have cleared a hurdle that has stood in our way.
 
I guess it is getting pretty clear: it is not about me, but it is about how I can share God’s love. Others’ needs ARE more important than mine. I am already very loved and cared for—God has that covered with a big blanket!
 
Enjoy this Lenten season as we prepare to celebrate the Resurrection of our Lord and Savior!
 
Dear Lord, allow me to be sensitive to the needs of others around me. Let me experience the joy that comes from pleasing you and fulfilling your purposes for my life. I ask this in the name of your son, Jesus, our loving Savior. Amen.

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What Is Better?

by Deb Trojak
The story of Mary and Martha (Luke 10:38-42) has always bothered me until recently. This is probably because I identify with Martha. I love hospitality, but I also have to make sure that everything is perfect. I stress over details and so when I read the story and it says that Martha was “distracted by all the preparations that had to be made…” I am right there with her. I’m just as indignant as she is that Mary just sits at Jesus’s feet doing nothing (or seemingly nothing). And I have always been a bit miffed that Jesus sticks up for Mary.
 
In 2018 a song that resonated with me was “Breathe” by Jonny Diaz. A particular line in the song caught my attention and flipped my perspective of Mary and Martha. The line says, “Let your weary spirit rest, lay down what’s good and find what’s best.” This line somewhat mirrors Jesus’ response to Martha: “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:41,42)
 
What Martha is doing isn’t bad, but it isn’t what’s best. So often in my life I get caught up in trivial details that really don’t matter. I’m so busy trying to make sure that everything is exactly where it needs to be that I forget where I need to be—at His feet. Mary chooses what is best. She chooses to listen to Jesus and to sit at His feet. In the grand scheme of things, that is what is most important. Martha isn’t doing anything intrinsically bad. In fact, what she’s doing could be considered good. But in all that she’s doing, she’s completely missing the point.
 
As Jesus says—“few things are needed—or indeed only one” and that One is Him.

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New Ways

by Mona Dutterer
Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path. (Psalm 119:105)
 
Three years ago our first grandson, Murphy, put an app on my phone. It is YouVersion – an online Bible. When I got this app, I started to read the Bible again, from Genesis all the way through to Revelation.
 
Last year, our second grandson, Gavin, told me about the devotionals that are on YouVersion. Many of these devotionals are short, five to seven days, but they all have resulted in tremendous growth in my relationship with GOD. These devotionals are easy to find, easy to follow and provide much information, inspiration and insight. Two recent devotionals that I really enjoyed are “The 7-Day Anxiety Detox” and “How Joyful People Think”.
 
Our third grandson, Emmett, and I are experiencing The Bible Project together. This website, TheBibleProject.com, is a wonderful way to experience GOD’S Word. The Bible Project “helps people see The Bible as one unified story that leads to Jesus.” It does this with videos, pictures, background information, and explanations, along with allowing you to read and or listen to The Bible.
 
I am grateful for grandsons who can show me so many new ways to stay strong and focused on my relationship with JESUS. These tools are a quick, easy, and convenient way to grow, learn, and shine HIS Light.
 
If you need help getting started on this app or website, please ask our grandsons, your grandchildren, or any of the youth at CABC.
I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness. (John 12:46)

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A Three Day Story

by Pastor Todd Witmer
 
How quickly do you want an answer to your prayer? Most of us would reply, “immediately”. The events of this season remind us that often God sends His answer in a three-day pattern.
 
Devotional writer Dave Adamson explains, “I was thinking about what the Saturday after Jesus died was like. History says Jesus died on Friday and rose on Sunday, which means that Saturday in between is the only day in 2,000+ years when no one on earth believed Jesus was alive. But that dark day was the middle part of a three-day story that recurs throughout Scripture.”
 
We hear a call to Abraham in Genesis 22 to offer his only son Isaac in sacrifice to the LORD. The trip to Mt. Moriah took three days. It wasn’t until day three that the Lord provided a ram for the sacrifice.
 
Queen Esther is convinced she must speak to the king on behalf of her people, the Jews (Esther 4). She asks the Jews to pray and fast three days while she prays and plans to risk her life. On day three, the king grants her a hearing and the treacherous plot of Jewish extermination is exposed.
 
What requests are on your heart this season (concerns for your children or grandchildren, health issues, financial struggles, etc.?) Do you find yourself in the middle of your own three day story? You pour out your heart to the Lord, believing He hears, and you wait. Saturday between crucifixion and resurrection can be a very long day. Remember that God does not finish a story on day two. If the Savior lived out a three day story, you can expect the same. Jesus trusted His Father for the resurrection answer on day three. Will you join me in trusting our Savior for the answer we need on our day three?
 
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, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. (Matthew 16:21)

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An Abundant Love

by Tessa Miller
Mercy, peace, and love be yours in abundance. (Jude 1:2)
 
In Fall 2015, Pastor Todd preached on Jesus feeding the 5,000. He shared how most likely we are all familiar with this story; however, he wanted to add some different insight that we may have not heard before. One of the things that he pointed out is that after all 5,000 people were fed and no longer hungry, there was still bread and fish remaining. There was not only enough for everyone, there was an abundance left over. Pastor Todd then shared that often when God answers prayers He does so in abundance. He doesn’t just answer our prayers, He does so in a way that is more than we could ever imagine.
 
I couldn’t help but think of my family, and how God has answered our prayers for another child. My husband Cory and I prayed for another child for many, many years. We were faced with unexplained secondary infertility and endured so many disappointing months waiting for God to give our son Jonah a sibling.
 
In those days of waiting, God showed us another way and led us to adoption. We adopted Ellie when she was 10 years old after she had lived with us for one year as a foster child. Our prayers had been answered and we had another child and she had a forever family. And yet, God was not done. He not only answered our prayers for a second child with Ellie, He then abundantly blessed us with two more biological children!
 
When I announced our miracle pregnancy with Hope, there was a collective sigh at the wonder of God. We found out we were pregnant less than two months after adopting Ellie. Therefore, there were lots of people commenting how God had blessed our family tremendously by answering our prayers after years of waiting. When we found out we were expecting a girl, God confirmed that the daughter named Hope that we had dreamed of for years truly was going to be a part of our family. It was as if a foretelling by God was coming to life. Our Hope was coming.
 
And then two years later when we announced our pregnancy with Gabriel, there was a collective awe at the abundance of God. I heard from so many people the amazement they experienced when they read our Christmas card announcing our pregnancy, and were blown away that we were expecting another baby. More than one person told me “my jaw dropped”. Gabriel was and truly is our sweet surprise miracle baby. And fun little fact, our “bookend boys” Jonah and Gabe are over 14 years apart! God writes the best stories.
My days are so filled now and I am reminded constantly of how God loves us so much that He not only answered our prayers, He did it in abundance. Each day, I have an abundance of dishes to do, laundry to remember, nails to clip, reminders to give, food to cut, and encouragement to share. This may seem like a lot of monotonous stuff to do for some. I choose to look at the little things that fill my days as constant reminders of God’s abundance. My dream has always been to be a mom. Not only did God give me the gift of a child 19 years ago, but I still have 14 years left before I am an empty-nester. That’s 33 years of full-time parenting! Another prayer He has granted me in abundance.
 
God has given far more than I could have ever imagined. Where do you see His overwhelming abundance in your life?

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