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FRIDAY DAILY CONNECTION

Why not step out?

By Neil Renno

The waves are crashing around you and someone says to get out of the boat. Are you kidding? I have been looking at the book of Matthew lately. The story in chapter 14 of Jesus walking on the water has always intrigued me. Jesus had just finished feeding the five thousand and there was a lot of extra. Everyone had the bellies full and then Jesus sends his disciples out in a boat on the lake. He wanted time alone. I remember several years ago I had the opportunity to go tuna fishing. We ate a good breakfast and then boarded the boat and proceeded to go out one hundred miles off shore to fish. That was the wrong thing to do, as I got sick. So the disciples are out in their boat with full bellies and rough waters. It was night and they had been up all day with Jesus. The wind was blowing and a storm came up and there they are struggling to row the boat. I am sure there was some grumbling and arguing over who was doing the right thing. That is how we sometimes operate in these situations. I have to wonder if they were thinking, where is Jesus at and what is he doing. Do you feel that way sometimes that here I am struggling in this circumstance and Jesus is nowhere to be seen. All of a sudden they saw a figure walking toward them on the water. Now we tend to give them a bad rap here for not recognizing Jesus immediately. They were probably hungry and physically exhausted by now. When we are in the middle of something that has sapped the life out of us it is hard to see clearly sometimes. If we want to admit it there is usually fear involved in these instances because of the unknown ahead. Jesus saw their fear and spoke to that, “take courage, I am here”. Now remember that the waves are still crashing around them and the boat is still rocking even though Jesus is standing on top of the storm. They were still in the storm. Jesus may show up in our storms but that usually doesn’t calm it right away. Peter wants to know if it is Jesus so he asks a question. Is it you Lord? Jesus says “Yes, come”. He lets him know it is him but he also asks him to do something. A lot of times Jesus will not act until we exhibit our faith in him. We want calm immediately but Jesus wants us to take the first step. Peter steps out of a rocking boat in a storm. I bet that was a sight to see. He faces his fears and the chaos around him and puts total trust in Jesus. He walks and is fine until he remembers the storm that he is in and looks around and starts to feel caught in it even though Jesus is still standing right there. He cries out again to Jesus and Jesus calmly reaches out his hand and helps him in the boat. Jesus wants us to put total faith and trust in him and he helps us back in the boat and then calms the storm. Jesus invites us to come but we need to act before he acts. He is always waiting for us in our storms to take our hands and lead us home, but we need to get out of the boat.

THURSDAY DAILY CONNECTION

 

Healed for Revelation

Ivan Yoder

This past Sunday I shared a message from John 5:1-9 about the healing of the man at the pool of Bethesda. This records the story of a man who had been an invalid for 38 years. The beautiful part of this story is how Jesus went out of his way to heal this man. This unnamed man neither asked for, did anything or exhibited any faith, at least that is recorded. I believe what we can see is that he was healed for a purpose that went well beyond displaying the power that Jesus had at his disposal. I mentioned that when Jesus healed this man, he began the process of not just physical healing he also brought wholeness to his life. His physical healing was just the beginning to bring wholeness to his soul and spirit as well. He was also healed for holiness. Jesus met up with him later and instructed him to stop sinning. Sin is what breaks our relationship with God and limits our move toward holiness. However, there is actually a third purpose for this healing that is even more important. This man was healed to reveal Jesus as God. If you follow the story into John 5:17 Jesus said in response to their accusations of his breaking the sabbath: my father is always at work to this very day, and I too am working. The people’s response was immediate because they recognized he was claiming to be God. Jesus was not only displaying that he had access to God’s power but that he was in fact God. Well, you may say, that’s something I know already, but this is a critical point. Jesus could be very powerful but we need more than that. Jesus must be God or everything that we believe and have faith in crumbles. So, here’s my question for myself and you as well. When I/you are touched by Jesus do we keep it to ourselves or is it an opportunity to display and call attention to God’s power and does it reveal Jesus as God?

Many times, I miss the power of God displayed in the everyday. Let me share a short story. Recently we had a noise develop in our car. As much as I tried, I could not identify where it was coming from or what was causing it. So, we prayed that God would fix the car. A week or so later as Pam was driving and suddenly there was a loud noise and then nothing, everything was normal. Now my logical side wants to say, it must have been this or that. But I choose to believe that God fixed our car. I share this story for two simple reasons, to put God’s power display and to demonstrate that because of Christ I know that God has an interest in our lives. I share this to point you to Jesus. I believe our car was fixed not because I am a great prayer person, or because I deserved to be blessed, but so that I could promote God. So, I am.

Questions for the day

How can I daily seek to reveal Jesus for who he truly is?

Is it important for me to be made well for my benefit alone, or can I use it as an opportunity to point the world to Jesus?

 

WEDNESDAY CONNECTION

with Kara Kauffman

TUESDAY CONNECTION

                                                                              

By Pam Yoder

On a recent hike, while practicing social distancing, I came upon a sign that read “Hidden Vista”, which seemed like a curious thing to me.  “What good is a vista if it is hidden”?

I really enjoy hiking and don’t mind putting in a little extra effort doing a steep climb, especially if I know there could be a beautiful vista to be enjoyed once I reach the top.  The challenge is, unless you have a map that has the vista’s marked or you have previously hiked the trail, you have no idea what you will find at the end of the climb. 

It could be that you find yourself in a heavily forested flat once you reach the top, or it could be a bench or a pause in the uphill and you find yourself at the base of yet another steep section of trail to climb or, you find yourself at a breathtaking vista overlooking a valley with mountains in the distance, or perhaps a river valley or a wide expanse of farmland.  A place that is breathtakingly beautiful and serene, a place that has been worth the extra effort put forth to attain.

In most cases you have to want to reach a vista or know that it exist to be able to appreciate or work hard to reach it.   

 

As I think about the current state of our country, the uncertainties, the very different way life is for all of us as a result of it, I wonder, what is the “hidden vista” for us in this time?  This thing that has been so disruptive, that has me going stir crazy, that brings questions to mind such as, “What, no school, no work, social distancing? How can I survive the isolation”?

Right now it doesn’t seem that we are working our way up the climb towards a beautiful view at all or that the end of the climb is even in sight! It seems that we may be in the heavily forested place where there is no breathtaking view to be seen or appreciated or even on the map, or so we think. 

Sometimes God chooses places, just like this, to have us in. This place where He calls us to trust Him to help us navigate through. To allow Him to take the lead as we hike on because He alone knows where the Hidden Vistas are, what the outcome will be, and where the beauty in it is. God alone knows the distance and we will arrive at the vista in His perfect timing.

The challenge for each of us in this is to look, search for, and expect there to be hidden gems in each day instead of just trying to tread water until we come out the other side of this. Search for hidden little vistas.  They can be things as small as early spring flowers blooming, the return of Robin’s to your yard, a 50 degree day, blue sky, spending a little extra time reading to your children, a walk in the woods or maybe things as simple as spring cleaning, writing letters to friends and family or making phone calls and having sweet conversations with people you love.

Maybe the hidden vista is rest, carving out more time to spend in the Word and in stillness before the Lord, in prayer and worship.  Be on the lookout for what the Lord is doing each day. Look for “God moments”, take time to recognize the vista’s He is blessing you with each and every day. Give yourself permission to sit a little longer, hug your babies a little tighter and as many times as you have opportunity to.  Play a game, take a walk, breathe. 

The vistas are there, we just need to be on the lookout for them.

“This is the day the Lord has made. We will REJOICE and be GLAD in it. Psalm 118:24 One of my favorite songs right now is “Way maker”, a good reminder of the sovereignty of the God I serve.

He alone is our Way maker, miracle worker, promise keeper, light in the darkness.

Here is a link to the song, enjoy!

https://youtu.be/SE_M9noEhNE

 

 

MONDAY CONNECTION 

Is This A Gift?

Max Zook 

Several weeks ago, I preached a sermon, “The Gift of Nothing,” in which we looked at God’s gift of the Sabbath.  “Sabbath” in the book of Genesis meant to cease, stop, rest, and be still.  That is what God chose to do on the seventh day of creation.  Jesus later taught us that the Sabbath was created as a gift for humans, humans were not created to fulfill the structure of the Sabbath for its own sake.

That sermon has come back to haunt me recently.  Churches, schools, businesses closed, and even preachers are restricted from visiting hospitals, nursing homes, and prisons. Our president and governor have ordered many of us to stop, cease, rest, and be still at home.

Sound familiar?

Many of us, not all, have been given a Sabbath order, from, of all people, our governing officials. We certainly must stop doing life the way we were doing it. 

Is this order a gift?  Is it a “Sabbath?”  Can we see it that way?

Is it possible for us to see this time as an opportunity for rest, refreshment, and to pause our lives to realize the concept of “enough?”  What is enough?  The Sabbath enforced the notion that one day in seven, one year in every seven years was for people to depend on God for what they needed to be carried through without depending on their own efforts.

So to truly live in this unusual shut-down of our way of live and experience it as a kind of Sabbath, we must stop thinking about what we would or could be doing, the money we would be making, that value of our stocks if the economy wasn’t depressed, or the education our kids would be getting if the schools were open.  We must rest in what God has and is providing for us.  And find rest in His gift of “enough.”

Let’s look at all the opportunities we now have.  And let’s begin to count the blessings we experience through this imposed “Sabbath.”

-          Time to read books, put puzzles together

-          Clean up the house, finish the projects your started long ago.

-          Work outside around the house, preparing the garden, flower beds

-          Calling or texting friends, neighbors

-          Going for walks in a socially distant kind of way

-          Practicing “living room worship” where worship happens with the family at home

-          Connecting with neighbors by combining your trips to the store or pharmacy

-          And being members of the church of God who cares deeply for each other and become known by our love for neighbors.

Let’s receive, open, value and enjoy this gift of God…. This Sabbath…. The Gift of Nothing!