Week of August 19

DNA: We Were Made For This

Luke 19:1-10. Story of Zacchaeus

Day 1. Imagine that it’s November 3, 2015, and you are in the crowded streets of downtown Kansas City. You know that sometime soon, the crowd will erupt as fans strain to get glimpses of the World Series Champions Kansas City Royals. But as you work the crowd vying for a spot, you recognize that from any position you find, you still can’t see. So, what do you do? Well, you climb up the stoplight pole, of course, just for a chance to see the team whose greatness everyone has seen and heard about. Now, read Luke 19:1-5. There were probably less than 800,000 people in Jericho the day that Jesus arrived, but the crowd that followed Him was large enough – and apparently tall enough – that Zacchaeus simply could not see. Jesus’ reputation preceded Him wherever He went, and in each city, the people clamored to get an opportunity to hear Him teach, to be healed, to experience Him personally. Consider today what a privilege we have to be able to know Jesus through the Bible and through the Holy Spirit.  

Day 2. Read Luke 19:1-6. What do we know about Zacchaeus? Imagine that the guy on the stoplight pole (see yesterday’s reading) was the head of the regional IRS office and was exploiting the taxpayers for personal gain. That was Zacchaeus. He was not just a “wee little man” as the familiar song goes. He was a wealthy, powerful, and greatly disliked man. Why do you think a man in his position was so determined to see Jesus? Maybe he just wanted an opportunity to experience the presence of this man that everyone was talking about. Or perhaps, despite all that he had gained, he knew that there was something that he still lacked. Either way, when Jesus called to him, Zacchaeus made a choice to respond. He invited Jesus into His home. Read verses 8-10. We don’t know what Jesus said to Zacchaeus in their time together, but we do know that it resulted in a changed perspective. Zacchaeus acknowledged his exploits and vowed to make it right! If Jesus was sitting at your dinner table, what things might you want to change or make right? Pray about it. Acknowledge it and declare it to Jesus.  

Day 3. Read Luke 19:5. Despite the crowds gathered around Him, Jesus chose to look up and acknowledge the despised tax guy in the tree. Jesus called him by name! He was aware of Zacchaeus and chose to pursue him. Throughout the course of Jesus’ life, He was continually looking up to take note of those around Him.  He chose to engage, to forgive, to love, and to save those who knew theywere lost.This is the heart of Jesus. It was how He lived and who He was. It’s also how He invites us to live. As we seek to know and become like Jesus, consider the ways that you can be aware of those around you. How well do you know the people you live your life among? Have you considered inviting your neighbors or co-workers into your home for a meal? What steps can you take to create margin in your life, so that you can have the space to look up and notice? 

Day 4 Read Luke 19:9-10. What does Jesus say is His ultimate purpose? He came to seek and save the lost. This is His pursuit of us. As He looked up toward Zacchaeus, Jesus is looking up at you as well.  He sees you and knows you completely. He sees through your religion. He sees beyond your sinful past - your failures, cheating, and facade - and He loves you. To be like Jesus is to reflect Him, and to follow Him means we choose every day to respond to know Him and to become like Him. Jesus spoke truth to Zacchaeus and His words stirred Zacchaeus to make a change! What truth is Jesus speaking to you? What change is he calling you to pursue? Do you hear Him?  

Day 5. Read Luke 19:7. What does this verse say to us about the crowd? What was their perception of Zacchaeus? How did they feel about Jesus’ decision to dine with a sinner? How often are we more like the crowd than we are like Jesus? Make it personal. Do I see those around me as sinners and pass judgement on them? Or do I see them with compassion? Who am I more like? When we read the gospel accounts of Jesus’ life, we see that He not only healed the lame, comforted the grief-stricken, and fed the hungry. He also had compassion on the politician, the tax collector, and the prostitute. Are we living like Jesus? Do we care for the soul of the person as Jesus did? Consider the people you’ve encountered in your life today. Is there anyone you’ve clearly judged or disregarded as “too far gone”? 

As you go about your day today, be aware and look up to see those around you. We just may find that we don’t know how we can be like Jesus to them. Let that turn into your prayer.

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Week of August 12

DNA: We Were Made For This

Day 1: Let’s be honest, death is scary and none of us wants to die yet how much do we actually consider dying? What if heaven is a real place, and if so, how do we get there? Read John 3:1-21.Nicodemus came to Jesus to find out more about who this Jesus character was. Jesus responds by telling Nicodemus that no one can enter the kingdom of God (experience a different kind of life) unless he has been born again spiritually. John continues to explain that anyone who believes in Jesus will have eternal life (verse 15), and that God loved the world and He gave His only Son, and that anyone who believes in Him will not die but live forever (verse 16). If you been around church for any length of time, you’ve heard this all before. In fact, we can become so used to hearing it that we can become numb to Jesus’ words. However, what would it look like today if you lived out this statement? 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” Have you been born again? How does this belief affect how you live today? Take some time to pray and right down your thoughts. 

Day 2: Yesterday we asked the question, “How do we get to heaven?” While this is important, there is much more to Christianity than eternity. Sometimes in our faith we can become more fixated on what we can get from Jesus rather than on following Him. Read Matthew 19:16-26.One day a man asked Jesus, “What good deed do I have to do to live forever?” Think about why Jesus answered him the way he did. The man just wanted to know what he had to do to get to heaven. Why didn’t Jesus just say believe in me and you’ll be saved? Why did Jesus tell him to give his money away and follow Him? According to Jesus himself, truly believing in Jesus will always coincide with a life of following Jesus. The two cannot be separated. For this young man the cost of following was too great. Is there anything in your life that may prevent you from following Jesus? Is there anything in your life so valuable that you are unwilling to let it go in pursuit of Jesus? Maybe it’s a job, relationship, or some dream of what you want to accomplish. Be honest and willing to wrestle through your thoughts with God in prayer. 

Day 3: Ephesians 2:8 says, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.” There is nothing we must do to be saved from sin in death. It is the free gift of God through faith. And yet Jesus says, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross daily, and follow me.” (Luke 9:23) Here is the principle; don’t miss it: grace is free but following is costly. The Christian life is one that is marked both by belief and by following. Because we believe that Jesus, being both fully human and fully God, died for us in our place on the cross, we therefore respond in gratitude by taking up our cross and following him. Are both belief and following true of your life today? What does it mean for you to take up your cross daily? Maybe it means making some huge life changing decision today, but more likely it will require you to make small sacrificial decisions each day. Read Romans 12:1-2 then take some time and write down one step that you can take to sacrificially follow Jesus today.   

Day 4: Before we move on today, how did you do on your action step from yesterday? Take a few moments to reflect on that. Now let’s move onto today. Is it possible for us to believe all the right things and yet have a useless faith? What good is a faith that doesn’t actively follow Jesus? Read James 2:14-17. Every day we live in a world where people are broken, hungry, hurting, and in need of hope. The magnitude of all that is wrong in this world is so great that it can leave us overwhelmed, incapacitated, and paralyzed into inaction. Yet, we are not alone. As a result of our new birth, we have been given the power of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8). Also, when we come together with fellow believers as the church, even the gates of hell will not prevail against us. (Matthew 16:18) As Jesus’ followers, we are able together to make a difference. When we live out our faith together following Jesus, we are more than conquerors. (Romans 8:37) Consider your words: Is there someone today you can encourage? Consider your prayer: who needs prayer and how can you pray for them? Consider your actions: who can you love for 30 seconds at a time today? Consider your community: who is around you that together you can make a difference? 

Day 5: Read Luke 5:1-11. When confronted with the person of Jesus, the first disciples were asked to make a decision. Today, we are asked to do the same. In response to who Jesus is and what He has done, will you followHim? Will you choose to walk along side of Him, to learn from Him, to care about what He cares about, and to live your very life as an act of sacrificial worship one day at a time? Following doesn’t mean you have to be perfect or have everything figured out. Instead, it means taking simple steps to pursue Jesus, working with and alongside Him in a daily relationship. (Matthew 11:28-29) I encourage you to take some time today to reflect. Maybe go for a walk around your neighborhood. Find some time just to get away and be with God. Tell Him that where He leads, you will follow. Be quiet and see if the Spirit nudges you in some way.

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Week of August 5

DNA: We Were Made For This

In and Through

Day 1. Have you been told that you are more than what you do? At first read, you may consider these almost one in the same. Yet a distinction can be made from doing and being. Our value, our worth, our importance is not in what we do but who we are. This has spiritual implications. If we want to become like Jesus, we will fall short if we develop only an intellectual understanding and a sound theological foundation. Knowing Jesus includes intellectual reasoning but moves to a more personal experience. Take the relationship I have with my husband as an example. I know him in such a way that I know how he responds in certain circumstances. I know what he does and what he believes. I know how he thinks, what he loves, what drives him crazy. I’m grateful for what he does for me and my family, but what makes our relationship is not what he does, but who he is. Do I know Jesus in that way? Am I intimately familiar with who Jesus IS not just what He DID? Am I working on obeying rules or am I trying to live my life walking by faith with a God I cannot see? The only worthwhile spiritual pursuit is to know Him in this personal, intimate way. Take a minute and read Matthew 5:1-10. As you read, do so with the perspective that Jesus is describing more than what He did but how He lived and how He is wants us to live.   


Day 2: Often, we think talking to people about Jesus means we skip right to telling people their sins can be forgiven, and they can go to Heaven. Those are amazing truths to be told, but there is so much more truth in Jesus and the reason He came. Jesus showed us what it looks like to bring the Kingdom of God (or a different way) to our lives and to the lives of those around us. The truth that when Jesus called us to follow him, He was talking about us becoming like Him. Read Matthew 7:1-14. After Jesus describes how He lived and how we are to live (verses 1-12), He says most will not choose it (verses 13-14). If we truly want to become like Him, we must follow Him through the narrow gate because that is a path to heart transformation and life change. This path leads us to intentionally and consistently allow who Jesus to inform who we are and how we live. What currently in my life needs to change to align with what who Jesus is and how he lived? Am I willing, not to seek to change myself, but ask Jesus to change my heart?   


Day 3: Read Luke 10:25-37. Jesus tells the parable of a man who crossed racial, economic, religious, and cultural divides to show love and mercy. The ones who went out of their way to avoid the man in need were religious leaders of the nation God had commanded to “be a blessing to all people”. Becoming like Jesus and loving like Jesus means we need to be willing to risk our reputation, sometimes with the religious crowd, to be a neighbor. Jesus didn’t tell a story of a man that traveled across the globe in order to show mercy to someone in need. He was simply going about his life. Jesus says, “go and do likewise. Who is around me? How am I doing in living like Jesus around them? Do I look past the person in front of me or at the person in front of me?   


Day 4: Read Matt. 5:13-14 What does being “salt” mean and what does it look like? Salt is used to add flavor and to enhance flavor. Flavor can be considered what is good and beautiful about food. When we are “salt” we enhance and add goodness and beauty to the world and those in it. Who do you know like that? The person that brings goodness, brings beauty to whatever they are involved in? Who extends grace and mercy? Who works for justice and peace? Sometimes people like this are dismissed as naïve or idealistic or possibly in denial of how bad things are. What if they are none of those but rather they have chosen to see what the Kingdom of God is about and have decided to live in that way. What if they have believed that Jesus called us to be salt (and light) in all places? What flavor do I bring to my home, my office, my school, my neighborhood? Do I bring love, goodness, mercy? Do I bring peace or conflict? Does my involvement in the lives of those around me bring out the best in them? Am I making things better? 


Day 5: On Sunday, Steve reminded us of the opportunity to participate in the ongoing story of the church that began over 2000 years ago. Starting in those early days and leading up to today, there is a rhythm of being gathered and scattered. Followers come together (gather) and center their perspective on the person of Jesus and to experience worship, truth, love, and community. Then, we enter back into our everyday lives (scatter) to continue to experience worship, truth, love and community by living like Jesus in all that we do. Being the church “scattered” isn’t only starting a ministry or launching a program. It is more about seeing and loving the person in front of you. It might look like leaving the garage open and walking across the drive to engage in conversation with a neighbor. It might mean listening with love and understanding another’s bad day. It might mean risking your own reputation to walk across a divide to love and show mercy to someone not like you. It could look like a hundred different things, but it will always look like Jesus. Ask God to help you see people and to help you love them. Be the church today. 

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Week of July 29


I Corinthians 13:8-13

Day 1: On Sunday, we were invited to reflect on this summer series. What was your response? Have you found yourself living out a principle or verse? Does a challenging phrase keep coming to your mind or attitude? Here are some series’ truths or phrases:  

·       I Corinthians 13:1-13. I will show you the most excellent way. 

·       We’ve been given gifts, abilities and experiences to put into use for the sake of the church.   

·       When we don’t see eye to eye, can we still walk side by side.  

·       Having self-awareness is understanding your preferences.   

·       There are different categories of preferences: essential, important and trivial.  Paul tells us to love in all of them.  

·       We often judge people by their actions and judge ourselves by our intentions.  

·       Actions without love in our lives are like clanging, irritating cymbals.   

Which of these principles is easiest to live by? Which of these are most challenging to you? Ask God to help you grow in that area. Then take time to thank God for planting a truth that you needed to hear and ask Him to continue to form you into a person who loves. He’s not done with you nor any of us. 

Day 2: Have you seen a tuning fork? It’s a U-shared, two-pronged metal instrument that when struck, produces a pure musical tone at a constant pitch. Musicians use it to get in tune in preparation for performing a piece together. An orchestra does not get on the same pitch by tuning themselves to each other. They tune themselves according to a single source, the tuning fork. At the beginning of this series, we read this passage in I Corinthians 1:10-13. Now read I Cor 2:6-10. We all find wisdom and truth in God through the Holy Spirit because of our relationship with Jesus. God is our “tuning fork” (our source) and learning to listen to the Holy Spirit is how we “tune” our hearts and minds to be “in tune” to the consistent truth of God’s heart and mind. One example of “tuning in” is recognizing the Holy Spirit when you are searching for the way of love. Conversely, reflect on how and when you “tune” yourself by something other than our true source.  

Day 3: When dinner is ready on the table and the kids are still playing on the backyard swing set, it’s time to come in. One time when Iexplained this tomy four-year-old, it went something like this, “Hey buddy, it’s time for dinner. We can come out and play after dinner.” Instead of jumping off the swing and heading to the back porch, he ran for the slide. This went on for a few minutes. Then I took another approach. I lovingly grabbed him, picked him up and brought him into the house. I’m not sure if that was the best parenting strategy, but we did all eat dinner together that night. Read I Cor. 13:11-13. At some point, we are to learn to put our childish ways behind us. Since we all have the ability to choose, we will always be tempted to choose the childlike way of what is easy, less, harmful, or just selfish. When God calls to us to step toward a person in love, do we stop ourselves, go, listen, and serve? Or do we keep on swinging on the swing? Living out love that is patient and kind, a love that protects, trusts and hopes for can only be done when we step out of our childish ways. How can this help you today?  

Day 4: Read John 12:23-26. A kernel has to die to produce a multitude of wheat. This is how love works. It is meant to multiply. Loving people produce more loving people. If we seek to live for ourselves, that is all that we will get. But if we follow Jesus and give love away, we grow love. Where is love being multiplied in your life? Refrain from shame or blame when answering. Do you see evidence of love, a love that God daily and freely gives to you, making a difference in your family, among your friends, at work or in your small group? Here may be a harder question to answe; How are the people in your life loving others because of the love you’ve shown to them? Consider the multiplication of love as you go about your day today. “Spirit, help me to notice the person in front of me. Show me how I can love them in such a way that inspires love.” 

Day 5: Reflect on the last two passages we’ve read this week. I Cor 13: 11-13 and John 12:23-26. There’s the act of love and the act of dying to oneself. How are those related? How does becoming selfless promote love? One tangible response to dying to oneself is through baptism. In baptism, we relate to the person of Jesus as He was submersed in the water (as unto death) and raised to life (new life in Christ) as we commit to follow after Him submitting to “tune” our life to Jesus. Can you relate to this through your own baptism or a time when you specifically drew a line in the sand and committed to follow after Jesus? Has that moment produced a change or transformation in your heart and in the way you react and interact with others in love? What is something in your life you know you need to die to so God can raise up new thoughts or actions in that area? Tell a trusted friend of your new commitment and ask the Holy Spirit to remind you, strengthen you and equip you for the task ahead. Go live out love!   

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Week of July 22


Selfless Love in a Selfie World

Day 1: It’s hard to be selfless. I know. As my wife has pointed out to me, even when I try to be ‘unselfish,’ I can do it for selfish reasons! In ourselves even our best is like filthy rags because our motivations reveal our true intentions. Jesus showed us a selfless life. Not only that, we have the Holy Spirit in us to give us the ability to live selflessly. We have been given selflessness and the power to be selfless, so let’s live it out like we should. As Jack pointed out, a starting point for seeing this formed in us is to acknowledge Jesus’ selflessness for our sake. This week, let us not look past Christ’s unselfishness, accept and believe his selflessness given to us, and take steps to live in the selflessness of the Spirit. Meditate on II Corinthians 5:21 as you listen to or sing Amazing Love (You Are My King). Worship God for what you have been given in Christ. 

Day 2: Read Philippians 2:1-13 noticing Jesus’ attitude. What was Jesus’ original position (vs 6)? What are the actions he took (vs 5-8)? What was the result (vs 9-11)? Paul is calling us to have the same attitude. What will my actions be if I have this attitude of Christ? What will be the result? Think about Jesus’ words that whoever wants to be great should learn to be the servant of all. How is Jesus’ attitude similar or different to how I relate to God and live toward others? Choose one relationship in your life to answer that question. Jesus is secure himself and guarantees security. Being secure helps me to lay down my interests. Notice Philippians 2:12-13. God working in us, giving us the desire and power (NLT version). This demonstration is evidence of a sincere faith and our salvation. I will lay down my interests and put someone else’s interests first. 

Day 3: Read John 4:27-41. Why did Jesus refuse the disciples’ food? Jesus was probably hungry, tired, and thirsty (4:6-7). What was sustaining Jesus? Do you remember times of joy and encouragement when you believed that you were doing what God wanted you to do? That is the Holy Spirit in you. What was Jesus’ instruction to the disciples (4:35)? Jesus looked outward. Look outward and be perceptive to the need of someone you encounter today, thinking of how you could show selfless love to them. Consider a strained relationship. Is there a person by just the mention of their name, your initial response is to move away not towards them? 

Day 4: Read John 13:1-5. What is the insight we gain from verse three as to how Jesus was able to serve the disciples in this way? In Christ, what power do you have, where did you come from, where are you going? Compare Christ’s security in his position to Philippians 2:6. Security in what Christ has accomplished and given to you is the foundation for selflessness. You can find rest knowing you are cared for; now you can care for others. Jesus did something that no one else wanted to do to meet a real need for purpose of showing the extent of God’s love (13:1). Do I know where I have come from, where I am going? Am I secure that I am in God’s love? Ask God for a way you can serve someone today. Find something that others do not want to do and do it for them. Actually write it down and make a point to accomplish it whether they know it was you or not. You don’t need their appreciation or any response from them. You can do it because you are loved, and in doing so, you communicate God’s gracious love.   

Day 5: Read Matthew 26:59-68. Jesus did not defend himself or deliver himself from their false accusations and mistreatment. He knew it was necessary for his Father’s will to be accomplished for our salvation. To do his Father’s will, he was willing to allow himself to be misunderstood, falsely accused, injustice done to him, mocked, tortured, and killed. We will not experience anything like Jesus did, but can we have this same attitude in our day-to-day experience? Can we be so oriented to following Jesus and loving others that we are willing to be wronged? Our natural hearts are not this way, but Christ’s heart is. To know and become like Jesus is possible as we walk in a daily relationship with him. With the guidance of the Holy Spirit, let us pursue selfless love. It is possible. 

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Week of July 15


The Highest Goal

Day 1. Last week, we focused on the first few verses of 1 Corinthians 13. Paul wrote that even the best spiritual gifts, when exercised apart from love, are meaningless. He writes: “I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal,” (v1) “I would be nothing,” (v2) and “I would have gained nothing” (v3). Read verses 4-5. How can you test yourself to see if you are motivated by love? Are you patient with others? Are you kind with those you disagree with? Are you jealous? Boastful? Proud? Rude? Is it all about you getting your way? Is it more important to you to be right than to be loving? Consider your motivations. Acting in love desires to build up one another, not tear them down. It desires harmony, not dissention. Think about your last week. If you had any disagreements, even on social media, how would you characterize your response? Did you see patience and kindness in your attitude? Take note of those interactions and pray specifically, “Holy Spirit, what needs to change in me for me to give more loving responses in future opportunities today and this week?”  

Day 2. On Sunday, Cory mentioned the Greek word for patience is “makrothymeo.” This word means both patience and understanding along with a refusal to retaliate. See how James 1:19 correlates. Think about that for a moment - slow to anger and quick to understand. We are living in a world of extremes, a world of us vs. them, a world where we are quick to excuse our own flaws while demonizing those we disagree with. What would happen if I turned the tables and sought to understand rather than to be understood? What if I snuffed the short fuse and took time to listen? Consider a person in your life with whom you have the most differences.  

Day 3. Read Matthew 7:1-5 We tend to judge other people by their actions, and to judge ourselves by our intentions. Reread that sentence. Ouch! Not one of us is perfect, and we will often look to the failure in others in order to justify our own sinfulness, but Jesus says, “The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged.” So, be patient with others as you would have them be patient with you. Show grace to others as you expect them to show grace to you. “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God's glorious standard.” (Rom. 3:23) As you go about your week, pay attention to the things that trigger you. Is it a specific person (co-worker, sibling, boss, employee, spouse, neighbor) or around a recurring topic? What step can I take to insert a buffer before I respond or react? Would that help me to take a step in becoming the person I hope to become?  

Day 4. Read John 13:34-35. Would anyone know your faith by observation? Consider yesterday or today. You may be familiar with the Brennan Manning Quote, “The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians who acknowledge Jesus with their lips and walk out the door and deny Him by their lifestyle.” Love is the basic building block of our faith because God is love. Jesus invites us to imitate him in love because He first loved us. “But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” (Rom 5:8). We can only give what we have received. How has God shown love to you? Where are you overwhelmed with gratitude because of what God has done in your life? Out of the fullness of that love, we show love to others.  

Day 5. Read 1 Corinthians 13:4-5 again. Is this the kind of Jesus that people see in you? Does your family see love, patience, kindness? Or do they see judgement and condemnation more often? Are you holding grudges or showing forgiveness and mercy? If you haven’t already, pick up a copy of Bob Goff’s book “Everybody Always” from the Next Steps Center ($10) and read through chapter 6. In this chapter, he gives an example of how to love a difficult person. When you encounter that person who hard to love, just give them 30 seconds of kindness. In that 30 seconds, pray for the Spirit to give you the grace you need to love them. Then do it again. Eventually, those brief times will add up as the Holy Spirit helps you. You may find yourself more routinely seeking the Holy Spirit and finding kindness. In doing so, you will be stepping into Paul’s invitation of patient love.  

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Week of July 8


The Highest Goal

Day 1: Do you have a bucket list? What kinds of things are on it? Bucket lists typically focus on once in a lifetime experiences or places we dream of visiting. If we have a bucket list, we have put thought into it. Maybe you aren’t a bucket list kind of person; but have you considered a “be” or “becoming” list? What would be on that list? What kind of person do you want to be? What would you consider your highest goal as a person? Take several minutes to think about these questions and jot down your thoughts. Our vision at LSCC is for all of us is “taking steps to know and become like Jesus.” So, maybe for you, maybe for me, our bucket list of “be” and “becoming” would include moving towards a person who intentionally and increasingly is thinking, sounding, and living more like the person of Jesus. Love is the most excellent way (1 Cor 12:31) The apostle Paul is telling us his highest goal, restating who Jesus is and how he lived, and who Jesus was emulating, God the Father. There is nothing we can discover about God, nothing we can discover about Jesus, that isn’t also loving. If we are becoming more like Jesus, we are becoming more loving. Thus, the question becomes, am I becoming more like love? If so, how and where?

Day 2: Read Mark 12:30-31.In the book Everybody, Always, Bob Goff says, “Jesus saw loving God and loving our neighbors as one inseparable mandate. They were tied for first in Jesus’ mind. He knew we couldn’t love God if we don’t love the people He surrounds us with.” Love is an action, it can be and is to be, seen. Giving love isn’t merely for those who love me or are like me. Our love is for all people: the enemy, stranger, persecutor, foreigner, the helpless and the opinionated. Love is an attitude, a posture of the heart that leads us more and more to “in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you.” This is a foundational, fundamental part of following Jesus, being Christian, knowing and becoming more like Him. Take time to pray for those in your life who you find it difficult to love. Then, find an opportunity to go love them today even in some small way.      

Day 3: Read Matt 5:44, John 15:12, 17.Jesus didn’t say it would be easy, he said it would work. When we look at the life and teachings of Jesus we see undeniable, uncontrollable, unconditional, and yes, even a reckless love. Take time today to listen to the song “Reckless Love”by Cory Asbury. As you listen to the words think about how the song describes the love of God. How this love acts. What this love looks like. This is how we are to love- as we have been loved. Am I willing to make love my highest goal? Am I willing to choose the way of love even if it could make me uncomfortable, even if it is puts me in a vulnerable place or means I will be misunderstood? When we choose to love, it changes who we are becoming.

Day 4: Read 1 Cor. 13: 1-3.What’s your “thing”? What are you good at? What do you have (or do) that is a gift to others? Maybe you’ve taken a Strengths Findertest or something equivalent. What are your strengths or gifts? Do you have a way with words? Do you have a way of seeing solutions when everyone else is bogged down in the problem? Do you comfort those who are hurting, grieving or lonely? Do you have an ability of bringing opposing views together? Write down a few of your strengths. Now insert them into these three verses and read again. Without being rooted and motivated in love, all these things cease to matter. It’s a sobering thought. Look at the gifts/strengths you wrote down. Do they matter? What are they rooted in? Is there desire for approval or recognition? Is there an agenda of some kind? Spend time in honest reflection. Pray: Father, I ask that you bring truth to me. Help me be self-aware and to look honestly at these things. Give me courage and strength, not only to see, but to change. Help me to recognize whether selfless love is present when my gifts are used. “Nothing can be changed until it is faced.” James Baldwin

Day 5: Re-read I Cor. 13:1-3.When we respond, even though it may be for others, isn’t rooted in and motivated by love, it is all for nothing. On top of that, our behavior actually becomes an annoyance, an irritant and a hindrance. The descriptive words Paul uses are in effect the opposite of what the gift was intended to produce. It’s off pitch, it’s noisy, irritating. It becomes more harmful than helpful. Can I recognize when what I’m doing is off? What clues or unbecoming behaviors help me to become aware? Do I have daily and weekly patterns to self-reflect and to allow God to speak truth about my heart, my attitude, and my behaviors? Do I have people in my life (community) that through relationship can speak truth to me? To gain some inspiration consider the book “Everybody, Always: Becoming love in a world full of setbacks and difficult people”by Bob Goff as a small group. Through small group community that we have the best opportunity to flesh out becoming like Jesus, becoming love. If you aren’t in a small group, consider starting or joining one. Contact Patrick at Patrick.hukriede@lscckc.org   

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Week of July 1


In Spite of Differences

Day 1: What we believe has the power to both unify and divide us. What we believe about politics, religion, and social issues, both brings us closer to people we agree with and separates us from people we disagree with. It takes just one look at our Facebook feed to know this to be true. Read 1 Corinthians 12:12-31.What happens when Christ followers disagree with one another? Do we “unfriend” them? Do we leave the church? Do we put on fake smiles and pretend to be nice to one another? Does Jesus call us to something better? Take some time to reflect and take an inventory. Are you willing to be in fellowship with people who believe or vote differently than you? Write down your thoughts. Do you think you could walk beside them even while not seeing eye to eye? 

Day 2: Read 1 Corinthians 1:10. What does it mean to be a Christian? Is it a combination of Bible knowledge, doing good things, and loving people? Or, is it having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ? If it is the later, what does it even mean to have a relationship with Jesus? How can we know a man who lived 2000 years ago? Take a moment and consider: what is the core of your faith? How do you get to know someone? Usually, it requires conversation, listening, finding out who they are, and letting them get to know you. We can’t have a relationship with someone without knowing anything about them. This is why our theology (knowledge of God) matters. It is for this reason that we are united in what we believe. Go to www.lscckc.org/beliefs and read it through. How do these statements strike you? If you agree with them why? If you don’t agree with them, that’s ok. I’d like to invite you on a journey to follow Jesus, to get to know Him, and to explore the tough questions. With whom can you discuss your questions? Are some of your questions answered during Sunday services or in your small group? Regardless of where you are at today, stay in pursuit of the questions you hold today.  

Day 3: Yesterday, we took a look at how our beliefs unite us as Jesus’ followers. Today, let’s consider how the things we believe can divide us.Read 1 Corinthians 8:1-3. While knowledge of God is crucial to having a relationshipwith Him, knowledge can also be a pitfall for us. It is so easy for our perceived knowledge of God to, “puff us up.” We can easily think we’ve got things all figured out and that anyone who disagrees with us is either ignorant or stupid. How silly it is that we mere mortals can often be tempted to think that we have the eternal God of the universe all figured out. (Isaiah 55:8-9) God is so vast and beyond our understanding, that a better for us to approach our knowledge of Him with humility and others knowledge of Him with grace. In dealing with differences of theology, could it be that there might be times when God invites us to walk side by side even when we don’t see eye to eye? Is there someone in your life that disagrees with you theologically? Take some time to pray for them or maybe offer to pray with them. Pray also that God would strengthen unity as he continues to reveal Himself to both of you today.  

Day 4: Read 1 Corinthians 13. It doesn’t matter how right we are, if we don’t have love, our knowledge is worthless. Our theology is only as good as its ability to help us love well. Right knowledge of God and His word will always lead us to love. Take out a piece of paper and write down these words: impatient, unkind, jealous, boastful, proud, rude, demands its own way, irritable, keeps record of being wronged, rejoices about injustice, gives up, loses faith, and hopeless. This is what our lives look like without love, even if we believe all the right things about God. Love doesn’t demand its own way (v. 5a). Keep this list with you today as a reminder of how desperately we are in need of God’s love in us and through us.

Day 5: Read Colossians 3:12-17. In order for there to be unity in the church, there must first be forgiveness. Is there someone in your life that you need to ask to forgive you? Is there someone in your life that you need to forgive? Take a full five minutes to consider these questions. We, the church, are God’s chosen people, and He declares us holy and dearly loved. Pray that the peace of Christ would rule in our hearts, and that we would be united in the peace and love of Jesus. As you go about your day today, remember that everything you do, you do in the name of the Lord Jesus. Refer back to this statement at the end of the day. How did you represent Jesus today? We are his body and His representatives to the world.

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Week of June 24


Part Of The Whole

Day 1:   Preferences. The church of Corinth had experienced several different pastors, leaders, teachers AND they had their favorites. Paul says they are acting like spiritual babies. Read I Corinthians 1:11-13 and 3: 1-4.  Everybody has preferences. What fits us, our history, our lens, wiring, personality. It can be what we bring to the band and contribute, or it can lead us all to want or believe we should be the drummer.  Can I contribute my gifts and or preferences in a way that is for or makes better the common good? If so, how? Having a preference or point of view is not a bad thing; it’s certainly not a call to be silent. It's in how it's expressed (non-verbals count) and for what purposes. One of the most toxic things in church is to attribute our preference to God. That is to say, to wrap God up in my opinion, claim my way is God's way, the right way, what He wants. Have you ever had someone end the conversation altogether by saying, "God told me to_________?” Is there an area of your life that preferences have gotten unhealthy, that you need to repent of in how you express your preferences? Do you have community, or have you become isolated in your thoughts with no feedback or accountability? Ask the Holy Spirit to show you.  

Day 2:    Read I Corinthians 8:1-13. Values and convictions. The issue centered around eating meat sacrificed to an idol. Some believed it was wrong while others thought it was no big deal. These issues of values and convictions led to divisions, factions, and schisms. The issues Paul addresses were specific to them at that time, yet we have our own issues with their own underpinnings. We also have values and convictions which we hold to and often attach God to based more upon our personal experiences than theology. Which preference do you tend to live out of? Why or where do you think these come from?   

Day 3:   Read Luke 9:23 I know in my own life what I value and find most important to me often gets in the way of this verse being lived out in my life – actually shaping my values, attitudes and behavior. What is most important to you? Really, how do you relate to others, spend your time and money? These things have a way of revealing what is often most important. Were you ok with your answer? What tends to be more important to you, being right or being kind? To be understood or to understand? To judge others or to join with Jesus in His view of others? Am I more concerned about being able to express what truth I have to others, or in how my expressions of truth comes across to others? Are you willing to value relationship and unity as more important than getting your way? Humility before God, commitment to love and relationship, grace and compassion all should work to inform or shape how we assert our preferences and opinions.  When it comes to living in harmony and unity, we do not always have to see eye-to-eye in order to walk side-by-side. 

Day 4:    Self-awareness plays a big role in understanding and communicating our preferences well. To be self-aware is to know yourself as you really are. Getting to know yourself inside and out is a continuous journey of participating with God as He peels back layers of who we once were and transforms us to be more like His Son. Self-awareness means spending time reflecting on your heart, attitudes, beliefs, behavior, and dealing with the stuff that keeps taking you to places you don’t desire to go. Too often we don’t take time to do this and instead stuff our emotions, escape reality our preferred way or trample on our hearts. So how self-aware are you?  We are all on a different journey. What God is seeking to teach me most likely is not what He is wanting to teach you. We need to open up our hearts to God and focus on our own heart and transformation. It’s a great exercise in learning to trust God’s transformation process of others.  Where are you in the self-awareness journey? What is your next step? (For more on self-awareness buy the book Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves.) 

Day 5:   Read 1 Corinthians 8:1-2. “While knowledge makes us feel important, it is love that strengthens the church. Anyone who claims to know all the answers does not really very much.” Take time today reflecting on these verses and quote.  You may want to walk along a path in the woods or get alone in a quiet place or think deeply about this by digging deeper with other resources. You may already know where you need to apply this verse into your life, take that step of trust and do it. We all have different pathways that allow us to hear God speaking to our hearts. Walking in the woods may not be yours, but it’s important to discover how or in what environments or practices you most easily hear God.  

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Week of June 17

Harmony: Different Together

Do Your Part

Day 1: How do you see yourself today? Does it line up with how God sees you? Ephesians 2:10 says, "For we are God's masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago." Through Jesus, the dark, old, sinful parts of us are dead. We are loved, highly valued children in His eyes. That is how God sees you and me. Find a few quiet moments and let that sink in. Use one of these ideas or come up with your own:  

·       Recite the verse 10 times 

·       Turn it into a prayer 

·       Have someone read it aloud to you, and you do the same for them  

These can help us to exchange the perspectives we have about ourselves for the perspective God has of us.  

 Day 2: On Sunday Travis provided some background on the church in the city of Corinth and the letter that was written to them. Paul, the author of the letter, was not the center figure of this church; he was just one figure. He was a contributor because he used his strengths, stepping into God's purpose for him to guide and advise this particular community. This particular community in Corinth was also just one church in the region. Read I Corinthians 12:4-11. Do you know what gifts the Holy Spirit has given you? If so, how have you used them in the church and with your family? How has that changed you? If you are unsure, consider a book by Erik Rees called SHAPE. Talk to a Jesus follower who you trust and ask them how it has impacted their life and how they have seen your gifts impact yours as well. Using our gifts is how we will find the good works He planned for us long ago.  

 Day 3: Are you in an orchestra? Our current message series, Harmony: Different Together, reminds us that our life isn’t meant to be lived with us in the center; rather we are part of something bigger. Read I Corinthians 12:4-12. The Spirit gives different gifts for the purpose of following Jesus. It’s easy to get confused in thinking the church is a building or the paid staff. However, the role of the pastors and staff is to help those who come to thebuilding to be the church. Yes, pastors do have an important role to play, but so do you and others in the church. Anyone who calls LSCC home is a part of the church. If our church were an orchestra, a pastor may be a conductor, however his job is still to train, equip, and coordinate the musicians. Consider this important question that we should all ask ourselves: Are we playing an instrument or watching in the audience? If not, what has kept you from playing an instrument right now? If you are, how are you doing? Is your playing helping others? Is it filling you? Have others been inspired to pick up an instrument because you are playing yours?  

Day 4: Read John 10:10-11. What kind of a life does Jesus offer us? What kind of a shepherd is Jesus for us? He invites us to live a meaningful and significant life, a full life. Flip to John 15:5-8. How are we to live this life? Notice that we do not bear fruit on our own, but remain connected to Him. This kind of life comes through Jesus. As we recall from this week's message, we are all to play our part, some part in a "larger story." We “play our instrument” in expressing love for our sake and the sake of others. When we play our part, Jesus will produce the fruit, as long as we do not become weary and choose to remain faithful in Him. Pray and ask God to show you today how your strengths and abilities can be put in play to love and serve others. 

Day 5: Nike says to "Just do it," and we agree. If an obstacle is in your way, just do it anyways. Read Hebrews 10:22-25. Let’s consider how we can spur one another toward love and good deeds. At the age of 23, I was dating someone who lived 90 miles away from me. Not only did I intend to visit her on many weekends, I actually did visit her many weekends. My intention was clear. I was motivated to get to know this person and to spend time with her. I rearranged my daily life to make those trips. When our motivation is clear, we can climb over obstacles to reach our destination. Where are you at spiritually? What is God stirring and working at in you? Is it to find a part, to practice your part, or try a different part? Or is He speaking something else to you? Whatever it is, just do it. Even if its messy, hard or confusing, keep at it, and do it anyway.

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Week of June 10

Harmony: Different Together

Part of the Whole

Day 1. Read Matthew 16:13-18. When we talk about the body of Christ, we are talking about the church. Who does Jesus say the church is? On Sunday, Cory taught about this. He said, “The belief that Jesus is the Son of the Living God is the foundation of the Church.” The Greek word Ekklesia, usually translated “church,” actually means gathering. The church is the gathering of believers. Does that change your perspective on what it means to go to church? The location isn’t the church. The people are. We are the church. We are the body of Christ. Think about the ways you are representing Jesus outside of Sunday service. Have you ever thought about church in this way? How would this change your perspective on Sunday mornings? Spend some time in prayer. Ask God to give you wisdom to know what steps you can take to become more like Jesus to those around you.

 Day 2. Read I Corinthians 12:4-6. We all are aware that each of us was created uniquely. We are different genders, ethnicities and have different personalities, strengths, and weaknesses. There are no two of us exactly alike. It should not be surprising, then, to think that God has created us spiritually unique. He has gifted us uniquely and works differently in each of us. When a ballerina takes the stage, one would expect to see a beautiful performance with everything working together as a part of a well-rehearsed dance. Every part of the body moves in harmony, complementing every other part to make something much more delicate and graceful than simple toe-tapping. Every part of the dance is choreographed beautifully, the whole body in sync, each part working together, balancing the dancer and keeping her moving. This is how the body of Christ is designed. How do you view the church? Do you see it as a work of art or as a building? When with other believers this week, pay attention to how each of us can work together to reflect Jesus and can be the church.  

Day 3: Read I Corinthians 12:17-18. Each of us has a role to play that, when in sync with the body, has greater potential than any of us alone. Imagine the dancer poised and ready, anticipating the music’s downbeat. The performance begins as the bows are gently pulled across the strings of the violins. The dancer lifts her hands above her head and begins her routine. As she takes her first step, she stumbles and falls to the ground. She has two left feet. Can you imagine? What was previously such breathtaking potential now lies in an embarrassed heap on the stage floor. If the right foot decides it wants to be a left foot, it will cause the whole body to stumble. Are you fulfilling your role or do you long for another? If you are currently playing a role, how are you affecting the church?

 Day 4. Paul writes in I Cor 12:27: “All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it.” The body of Christ is “bigger than me.” Consider a personal experience where you were part of a “bigger than me” scenario. A team? Your marriage? Your family? A workgroup or partnership? You might find yourself working on a project with someone you wouldn’t normally even talk to, but you are united in something bigger that causes the differences that normally keep you separate to matter less. God has invited us to be part of something bigger than ourselves. Isn’t that awesome? God has invited you into His plan – to fulfill your role in the growth of His Church and the advance of His Kingdom. Do you see Jesus’ church as “bigger than me”? Ask God to show you a bigger version of church than you’ve ever seen before. 

Day 5: If the church is the gathering of believers, how do individuals affect the health of the body? We each have an important role, and it’s good for us to learn how to best serve within the body. Read I Corinthians 12:22-27. What does this tell us? Learn what role suits you but be careful not to think that your role is more or less important than others because all parts are necessary! Also, consider your motivation. Are you content to just go to church, or is your desire to be the church? Consider ways that you can make a tangible difference in the world around you! Pick up the Summer Guide at the Next Steps Center for ideas to serve. How about VBS later in June? Or consider learning more by attending a three-week class on SHAPE on Monday evenings starting June 18 (see the program for details or contact Patrick Hukriede at patrick.hukriede@lscckc.org).

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Week of June 3

Harmony: Different Together

Who are the people God wants me to love, serve and share with?  

Day 1: Read Acts 18:1-6 about Paul’s visit to Corinth. Paul saw the receptivity and opportunity to share with the Corinthians and took it. If you read on in chapter 18, you find many people began following Jesus. Paul stayed in Corinth almost two years, working alongside of them, sharing his faith, and helping to make disciples. Paul’s approach was unique to the religious cultures and people of this eclectic city. What are the environments and who are the people that you have a unique understanding of, that you are a part of? Is it a team you’re on, a work environment, your neighborhood? Everyone we know is someone we can love and serve. Every environment you’re in is an opportunity unique to your life where you can love and serve. Which relationship(s) would you like to be more intentional?  


How do I love others while in disagreement with them?  

Day 2: The city of Corinth was a thriving city by the sea attracting people from the surrounding region. Just like us, the people of Corinth had differing experiences, views, cultures, and religious backgrounds. Diversity is crucial but often invites tension and division. What arena of life today do you experience division? Are you on a side or somewhere in the middle? What has most informed your decision to be on a side? Can you love the people on the other side? Read Matt. 12:25. A kingdom divided cannot stand. Do you have opinions that stand in the way of your ability or willingness love and harmonize with others? Whether in politics, at work, home, or church, Jesus points us the posture and tone we are to have with others. Read John 13:34-35.How do you apply these verses with openly debated issues?  Or what about arguments you have in your own mind (about others)? What are 1-2 practical ways you can apply these verses to specific people this week?  


What does harmony sound like?  

Day 3: In I Cor 1:10 Paul writes, “that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought.” On Sunday, Cory used the term harmony, which is best understood in the context of music. Different parts, different tones that make onepleasingarrangement. In an orchestra, consider the instruments – violins, flutes, clarinets, horns, cymbals... Hearing most in isolation can be enjoyable. However, when played in unison, a whole new experience unfolds. Take 10 minutes to listen to a well-known symphony. Try Beethoven Symphony No 6. Sit back in a chair and close your eyes. As you listen, notice the harmony…every instrument speaking its own voice yet playing together. That’s the beauty of harmony and how we are called to live in our homes, schools, places of business, and as a church.  


What is your responsibility to the group?  

Day 4: reflect back to the orchestra from yesterday? How easy would it be for this group of musicians to get off track? One section or individual with a different desire or agenda dramatically changes the experience for everyone. Eves drop on Jesus’ prayer the night before He dies. Read John 17:20-23.What amazes you about Jesus’ prayer? Consider that for a few minutes. Does it give you a different glimpse of God? One point, maybe the main point Jesus was making had to do with unity. As He and the Father are in step with each other, Jesus wants us to be in step with him and one another. Notice the reason or the why, “…so that the world will know.” Considering your role in a larger group – church, small group, family. What is your responsibility to the group in making harmony? What part are you currently playing or could you play?  


Others’ interests above our own. 

Day 5: When we are insecure in our identity, we’re at risk of putting ourselves first, of securing power or position, asserting our own rights or opinions. Read Philippians 2:1-11. What was Jesus’ attitude and behavior? Secure in his identity, he lived in humility and self-sacrificing love. If we are united with Jesus (as He is with the Father), how are we to live? There are several practical and specific ways to demonstrate love and unity: do nothing out of selfish ambition, consider others, look beyond your own interests to the interests of others. Here is a sobering quote from Oswald Chambers. “Am I getting nobler, better, more helpful, more humble or am I getting more self-assertive, more deliberately determined to have it my own way? In the context of unity with others and putting them first, Paul is pointing us to Jesus and how he lived, the attitudes and behaviors we are to take on as his followers.   

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Week of May 27

A Call To Courage

Day 1: In Pastor Jack’s message he issued a call to courage. What does courage look like? Describe a time that you had to do something that required courage. What was it like? Courage isn’t necessarily about overcoming difficulty as much as it’s not being overcome by difficulty. Courage is the ability to navigate through something difficult. There are universal “difficulties” – failing health, loss, pain, and sorrow - the concept of “difficult” means something different for each one of us. Our own definition of difficulty also changes throughout our lifetime. What you consider difficult today may be very different than ten years ago. The common theme here is a call to courage whenever we bump up against something that causes us to stop and recognize that we are facing something beyond or bigger than us, our current strength or abilities. Read Matthew 7:24-25 and Colossians 2:6.How might building a foundation of trust and putting into practice His teachings help us live in courage? What does Jesus say a foundation in Him will do for us (and in us) when difficulties come? As you go through the next few days, notice how you react and respond when faced with something challenging, difficult, painful, and/or unexpected. Be mindful of the foundation of faith and trust you are building. 


Day 2:  Consider the following statements: 

“I can live with faith, courage and confidence, looking forward to the next adventure." 

“I can be stuck/paralyzed by fear, insecurity and uncertainty and one day look back with regret." 

We all experience fear. Fear can serve as an alert to danger and influence us to take action. Feeding and obsessing in the fear can lead to mental/emotional paralysis. Read John 14:27 and 16:33, and Philippians 4:7.The definition of peace/tranquility is "freedom of the mind from annoyance, anxiety, distraction, an obsession, etc. Free from or unaffected by disturbances." The first statement demonstrates living from a place ofpeace– whether difficulties are present or not. Peace doesn’t mean we have no fear, it just means that we don’t get stuck in it. What practices are in place or would help you feed peace and tranquility instead of fear?  


Day 3: We all have default responses or automatic reactions. We do them without thinking, What is your go-to response whenever you bump up against something difficult, painful, or overwhelming? Below is a list of reactions that trigger a default response:  

worry – self-doubt – defensiveness – anger – judgement – blaming – isolation – engage in “numbing” activities (anything that disengages you from what you are facing) – denial – seek to control – “flight” (run or retreat) – entitlement – procrastinate – anxiety and so on.   

Do you relate to any in this list or are there others? Our common defaults turn into a habit. How have you replaced a negative default reaction into one of trust and confidence in God’s presence? Are there responses you feel like control you every day?  


Day 4: Do you have a giant? Maybe your giant is health related, financial, emotional or in your career. Your giant may be dealing with anger or addiction. The idea behind “giant” is at first glance insurmountable. We see what we are up against, and we see our inability in our own strength to face it. At times, change itself can seem like the giant that taunts and intimidates us. Following Jesus is about us taking steps to know and become like Him. Taking steps requires a change- putting aside a way of thinking or doing and learning the way Jesus invited people to live. Most of the time it will require us to have courage (and strength) to do this kind of spiritual work. A giant, much like an elephant, is best “eaten” one bite at a time. What is the one step you can take to take a bite out of your giant? Maybe it is reading a book or joining a group that deals with giants like yours. Identify a step, pray for courage to take it. Then take it! After, celebrate and thank God.  


Day 5: Google the song “Trust in You” by Lauren Daigle. Consider looking up the lyrics or just close your eyes and listen to the song. We can learn to walk with confidence, courage, and faith, one step at a time. Whether our mountain is moved, or we learn to climb over it, courage isn’t about what happens in our life, it is how we live no matter what trials come our way. Read Ephesians 3:14-19.Pray this prayer from Ephesians for yourself, pray this for someone else. When you bump against something difficult, return to this prayer. Remember that God is with you. Remember that God will strengthen you. Remember that you are being rooted and established inJesus as you trust in Him. Your faith in Him will grow and soon you may see great courage God has put inside of you.   

Read Jack’s blog, “Riveted,” at www.jackanderson.org

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Week of May 20

In Remembrance of Me

Day 1: Quick history lesson: The Bible is a story about promises. Our modern Bible is divided into two testaments, which are also called covenants. A covenant simply means a solemn promise or agreement made between two parties. The first part of the Bible, the Old Testament, focuses on a special promise between God and the family of a man named Abraham. (Genesis 15) God made a covenant with Abraham, promising that his family would become a great nation, He (the Lord) would forever be their God, and that they would inherit a special land. Every nation of the world would be blessed through them. Thus, the Old Testament is a story about God’s plan for the people of Israel.Read Exodus 2:23-24.The story of Exodus tells us how God kept His covenant promise by delivering Israel from slavery while in Egypt. Is this story familiar to you? Does this story relate to your life today? Why does the story of Abraham still matter thousands of years later? Try this:Right down your thoughts on paper including questions about God and this story.  


Day 2: Read Exodus 12:1-14, 31-32. (Read the whole chapter for the full account.) Yesterday’s devotional was about God and His promise to Abraham and Abraham's people. While they were in Egypt, God kept His covenant promise by delivering Israel from slavery. God then established the Passover feast as a memorial to be celebrated by His people forever (Exodus 12:24). God wanted His people (the nation Israel) to remember that He had done great wonders and had delivered them, and that He also accepted the sacrificial blood of a spotless lamb in order to protect the people from judgement. He had been faithful to His covenant with a sacred promise to bless them, multiply them, and to be their God (Genesis 17:1-8). Do you have celebrations or practices that remind you of God’s faithfulness? Has God done anything in the past year that you can say thanks for or that you wish to take time to remember? Try this:The next time you eat with others, stop and give thanks to God. If you feel comfortable, ask those at the table with you these same questions.  


Day 3: Jesus and His disciples sat down together on the night that Jesus died to celebrate the Passover meal. As a Jewish Rabbi, observing the Passover was a fundamental part of Jesus' faith. It was in the context of this celebration that Jesus would introduce the New Covenant. Read Luke 22:15-20.Jesus was taking theold practice of Passover and making something new. This is what the prophet Jeremiah had promised in Jeremiah 31:31-34. In the Old Covenant, Israel was freed from the bondage of slavery, yet in order to keep up their end of the promise, they were given a long list of rules to obey in order to be holy before God's eyes. Jesus’ New Covenant, however, is unconditional. This New Covenant, according to Jeremiah, changes our hearts, allowing us to know God in a personal way. It provided for the forgiveness of our sins. In return, we simply are to believe. What are the implications of the New Covenant for you today? Does this alter or change your view of God? How will you respond today to Jesus’ invitation to enter into His Covenant? Try this:Consider listening or singing a favorite worship hymn or song. 


Day 4:  As Jesus and His disciples remembered the Passover together, Jesus said, “Do this (eating of the bread and wine) in remembrance of me.” Was Jesus replacing Passover with something new, namely, The Lord’s Supper? Read Matthew 5:17.The Passover was to be practiced forever to remind Israel that God had rescued them from slavery by the blood of the spotless lamb. Now in the New Covenant, Jesus declared that He is the spotless lamb that delivers us from the slavery of sin and death, and that God’s firstborn son will be the only firstborn son to die. By becoming the lamb, Jesus is fulfilling the covenant with Israel, and in doing so, the whole world will be blessed. Read Genesis 12:1-3.Try this: Take a ten-minute walk today and reflect on how Jesus has spiritually delivered you.  


Day 5: When we take bread and juice (or wine), we are remembering what Jesus did for us, freeing us from mistakes and regret. Read Galatians 5:1.What freedom have you found through remembering Jesus in communion? When we take communion, we take it with others identifying as followers of Jesus, who unite together through the following of Jesus. He (Jesus) simply said that if we want to be His disciples, we will be known by how we love others. Communion is a chance for us to remember, “Is there anyone in my life I am unwilling to love?” Try This:Be honest and consider this: Who is at the top of the list of people I amunwilling to love? Do you even have oneof these mental lists? Is Jesus calling you to forgive or to love without condition?

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Week of May 13

Mother's Day

Day 1: Sometimes, things just happen. We don’t choose them. We can’t change them. We just find ourselves in a situation that is less than ideal and often downright discouraging. What do we do in response? If we’re honest, we can often times respond in less than God-honoring ways. We can start the ‘who done it’ blame game. We can complain, "Woe is me" and fall into the victim mentality. We can become bitter and withdrawn. Think about a challenging situation in the last week or two. How did you respond? Is this response a typical pattern for you? Did your response bring you closer towards God or further away? If you turned further away, what beliefs do you have about the character of God that keep you distant? If you turned towards Him, how has this difficult situation deepened your trust in Him? Can you honestly say, “I’m in the middle of a difficult situation, yet I will still praise God.” 

Day 2: When have you carried around pain, frustration or anger and you desperately wanted the situation to change? As the desperation took over, YOU began to take over. You took control by coming up with your own solution to fix the problem. Can you relate to the story of Leah? Maybe there was a person (maybe a family member) who you’ve felt rejection from and you’ve tried to please them with different behaviors, witty conversation, gift giving, or other methods to please. The never-ending madness of "maybe this time", only to feel rejected again. In the message on Sunday, Leah fell into the trap of using things (in this case her children) to try over and over to fill a void. Like Leah, can you identify a pattern of behavior you use to fill a void?  

Day 3: You’re enough. You are loved. You are worthy. You are valued. You have been equipped with all you need. God is for you! Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Do you believe this? Or are you currently striving to fill a void? Do you think Jesus can truly fill this void? Take several quiet moments to get honest with God and ask Him if you are holding onto something that you are getting your value from. What is that carrot dangling just out of reach that you keeps striving for more? Write it down or write a word on your hand. Carry it with you. Ask God for a person or a time to release it.   

Day 4: He’s enough. Jesus is sufficient. Think of it. Jesus is greater than that one thing you want most in the world. Does that make sense in your mind? Does it make sense in your heart? Jesus can satisfy our deepest needs and desires. If we come to terms with that, we can feel peace and gratitude. Think about a time you experienced the provision and preparation of God when you have been in the middle of crisis and struggle. You tasted this peace and thanked Jesus. Write down or offer a prayer to God for how He has satisfied you in the midst of past struggles.  

Day 5: Recently a small group challenged each other to share reasons they are grateful daily. This daily practice is an opportunity to lead the group members into becoming people that are more grateful. This action of recognizing goodness in their lives and sharing it aloud with another will change them. There is power in sharing with someone. You can start with a gratitude journal then move from just a quiet, personal declaration of gratitude to actively articulating to others. If you’re married, share these thoughts of gratitude with your spouse. Share with a friend. Find someone who will commit to sharing daily examples of gratitude. Communicate gratitude directly to the people who you are grateful for. Notice how expressing gratitude effects the rest of your day.

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Week of May 6

Reactions to the Resurrection


Day 1: Senioritis - getting a glimpse of the next season but stuck in a current reality. How many days left before graduation? Of course, you know. But senioritis isn’t just for those graduating. We all still experience a senioritis feeling at times. Consider car shopping. Sitting behind the wheel in the showroom, you instantly notice that new car smell. Everything is clean, shiny and fancy. The seat heater is awesome! When it is time to return your old car all of the sudden it smells worse and you notice you don’t even have floormats anymore. Whether it is school, a new car, a different job or whatever, there is a real force pulling us to the next season. But right now we are stuck in the waiting period. Is it more or less difficult to wait when you know the season ahead? Read Acts 1:4-9. Did you catch the senioritis there? Jesus told His disciples to wait for the gift of the Holy Spirit who will help them during the next season. The disciples’ response - they were looking for something different. They thought they knew the future. Do you feel stuck in a current reality seeing the next season on your horizon? Give some words to it. Do you have fear and anxiety about the future? Do you find yourself complaining about the present? Have you given yourself permission to slack off? How is being stuck affecting your heart or attitude today?  

Day 2: Sometimes we can find ourselves in circumstances beyond our control leaving us perturbed. Maybe we’ve even thrown in the towel and are just going through the motions. Being in that state of mind makes it easy to long for something else. For you, maybe it is looking for the next thing or holding on to what you once had. Either way, it’s easy to recognize not being mentally or emotionally present in a current situation. Not being present plays out in many ways. We spend most of our time, effort, thoughts or energy on what we think will happen. Yet doing so, we are in danger of missing God. More often God uses our pain and struggle to show us more of Him and of who He wants us to become. If you are stuck today, what are some ways God could use this current situation? How open areyou to hearing and following Him at this time? Write out some possible learning He desires for you. During this season is joy, contentment, kindness, forgiveness, and love present? Do you think Jesus is more concerned about your heart or your future?  

Day 3: Read Jonah 4. Expectations: the act or state of expecting or being in anticipation. When our expectations are not met, when things don’t turn out the way we thought they were supposed to, we often wonder why. There is nothing wrong with asking the tough questions. But when you get the tough questions answered and you don’t like the answer, what do you do with that? Do we close the book on the subject? This is why community is so important. Some of us are wired to trust our own thoughts more and not seek a second opinion. When doing so, we become more certain of ourselves. Being in community with others challenges us. Do you have all of the answers about why you are stuck today? What are they? Have you discussed them with others you trust? Do you look for agreement or are you open to their opinion without judgment? 

Day 4: Waiting. It can be easy to coast when we near the end of a semester, a job, or a task. Have you said, “I’ll get serious when the next season arrives” or “Life is going to be so much better when ____” . But is that what God wants for you? Or does He want to give you something more? In the book, The Principle of the Path, Andy Stanley states, "Direction NOT intention determines destination." People don’t decide their future. They decide their habits and their habits decide their future. What current habits are deciding your future? Share your thoughts with a friend.  

Day 5: Read Psalms 37:23-24; Psalms 147:10-11. Get out a pad of paper to help you answer some of these questions. Ask God - What do you want to do in me or through me in this season? Am I putting more hope in my next season over God? How can I better prepare for the next season? Does God want to prune something in me? Where am I comparing my season with another and how does that hurt me? What does comparison do to my heart? Is that the kind of person I want to be? Pray for a change within your own heart instead of a change in your situation and find comfort in these verses in the Psalms.  

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Week of April 29

Reactions to the Resurrection

Our Reaction to the Resurrection

Introduction. This week, we will be doing a lot of reading, so bookmark your Bible in Matthew chapters 5-7. As we have learned over the last few weeks, Jesus followers had different responses to His resurrection. Some doubted, as Thomas did. Some pursued Him, as Mary did. Some were broken by their own failures. Judas took His own life as a result, while Peter’s repentance started a movement that began the Church. We may know many facts about Jesus, yet how well do we know His heart? Each day this week, we will look at a portion of what is known as the Sermon on the Mount and simply ask a few questions.  

Day 1. Jesus begins this sermon by describing those who are a part of the Kingdom of Heaven. As you read Matthew 5:1-12, pay attention to the attitudes that Jesus calls blessed. What are the results of having each of these characteristics? Where do you see strengths and weaknesses in your own life? Jot down or memorize one of the verses. Pray that God would reveal opportunities to demonstrate this verse over the next few days. Ask for His help. In doing so, you will be building an experience with Him.  

Day 2. As followers of Jesus, we are called to live differently – called to be salt and light. Read Matthew 5:13-16. What does Jesus mean when He says, “You are the salt of the earth” and “You are the light of the world”? Reflect on the last week(s) in your own life. In what ways have you been salt? How have you given light to those around you (shown mercy, kindness, comfort, etc)? In verse 16, Jesus specifies that as we do these things we bring honor to God - to worship Him by reflecting His goodness and mercy to those around us. Look for opportunities in the week ahead to shine His light.  

Day 3. Read Matthew 5:17-48. The disciples were familiar with the rules that Jesus taught about here. While the religious leaders and Phariseessought to uphold the letter of the Law of Moses, they didn’t really grasp it’s true meaning. Chasing the rules will only lead to failure. Pursuing a relationship with Jesus, however, leads to greater trust in a relationship with Jesus. Read these verses again. Instead of reading them as rules to follow, see how someone with a soft heart towards God could respond in right and good ways.  

Day 4. Read Matthew 6:19-34. If you worry about money, you are not alone. Most of us at one time or another are concerned about it – either we don’t make enough, or we haven’t saved enough for retirement, or we won’t have enough to pay for our kids’ education, etc. While our reality seems to necessitate having significant financial resources, Jesus simply invites us to trust. In vs 27, He says “Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?” What does Jesus say that we should be concerned with in vs 33? And what will God provide? Are you more concerned with money than with the characteristics of the Kingdom of Heaven that we looked at in Day 1? If so, confess to God and ask Him to give you the faith to trust Him for your provision. Do you have a friend you can share with? He/she can be a support to you. At the same time, you may be able to be a support to them.  

Day 5. Read Matthew 7:24-29. How does one build his house on the rock? Who encourages, reminds and challenges you to follow Jesus? Consider the people in your life. How often are you giving and receiving spiritual and emotional support? If you are in a small group, what is one step you can take to reinforce the foundation? If you’re not in a small group, what is a step you could take over the next couple of weeks towards joining or forming one? One next step may be to join a “Followers Made” group. Contact Patrick at patrick.hukriede@lscckc.org for more info. 

Summary.  If you have time, look at the rest of the Sermon on the Mount specifically in Matthew 6:1-18 and Matthew 7:1-23. How has your perspective changed by reading through Jesus’ teaching this week? What are the specific steps that God is calling you to practice as you relate to Him and to the people in your life? Spend some time in prayer today thanking Him for His invitation for us to follow. Ask Him to grow and change you. We all know that reading and even talking about this teaching doesn’t make us more like Jesus, rather it is as we knowing and following Him.

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Week of April 22

Reactions to the Resurrection


Day 1: We’ve all blown it before; it’s a universal experience. Peter blew it, so did Judas, and to some extent their story is our story. If you just thought, “I would never…,” remember that’s how Peter’s failure began! Judas had hoped for a different kind of Messiah and King, but he was disappointed. Peter was afraid. In pivotal circumstances, neither one of them could get past their fear or disappointment. They left their Shepherd. What has led you astray this week? What emotion, attitude, or desire when combined with a difficult circumstance has taken you where you didn’t want to go? Disappointment? Fear? Anger? Frustration? Pride? Anxiety? Instead of hoping or praying not to have those emotions, attitudes, and beliefs, what would it be like to ask God to help you with them and to discover where they come from?  

 Day 2: If you have blown it, now what? How you respond may be as important as the sin committed. Judas stepped away from community and isolated himself. He responded in hopelessness; he ended his life. In the same way, Peter was distraught. We don’t know the guilt he may have been hiding or the prayers he may have prayed. Despite guilt, anguish, embarrassment and shame, Peter chose to stay in community. With that choice and humility, Peter put himself in a place to be reconciled to Jesus. Read Luke 15:11-32. As you read, put Peter in the place of the younger son. Then put yourself in the younger son’s shoes. In this parable Jesus is saying, “This is our Father!” In the same way, that is how Jesus was with Peter and how He is with us. This sacrificial love and forgiveness is available to us thru Jesus. Is there an old sin or failure that has created one of the emotions, attitudes, or beliefs you identified in Day 1? Can you take a step and voice your sorrow or guilt to the Father? Do you need to voice it to someone you have community with, or risk an apology to someone who was hurt by your failure?  

Day 3: “Come as you are” is Jesus’ invitation to us. Not come as you want to be or think you should be but as you are right now. “As I am.” That is powerful to take in. We don’t like being weak, broken, poor, or vulnerable. Culture and our selfishness whisper for us to go and hide. Read Matt. 5:3-10 and 2 Cor. 12:8-10. Jesus says there is beauty in our weakness, poverty, meekness. He says that those who embrace these qualities will receive his Kingdom. Peter ran (or swam) toward Jesus just as the younger son ran to the Father in yesterday’s reading. He has seen Jesus forgive others, heard the parables, and built enough trust in Jesus to run to him. What would running to Jesus look like for us now? Imagine a child approaching a parent in sorrow, does the parent need to hear much before they bend down, hug and forgive the child? How much more so with our Heavenly Father. Reflect on this picture with your Heavenly Father.  

Day 4: Read Rev. 3:20.You may have heard this verse used evangelistically, but in this verse Jesus is talking to his followers who have lost their way, inviting them back. He is with you, no matter how guilty and hopeless you feel, Jesus is there, actively offering forgiveness and ongoing relationship. Read John 21: 15-17.Jesus meets Peter where he is. With three stinging denials burned into his head and heart, Jesus provides him a way to confront each denial with an affirmation of following and love. Forgiving Peter, or forgiving us, is not some legal transaction, or an eraser from a sin ledger. Forgiveness is always a desired act of sacrificial love on Jesus’ part. Forgiveness is about relationship. How do you picture or understand Jesus’ forgiveness towards you? Disgruntled, forced, put out or bothered by? Is there something in Peter’s story of forgiveness that needs to become a part of your story?  

Day 5: A living, resurrected Jesus forgave Peter and changed his life. He offered Peter another chance. Jesus didn’t just forgive him, he called him back into life. A life of purpose, meaning, significance, and following. How are you living out forgiveness? Have you experienced forgiveness from God lately? Consider the last time, mustering courage, you turned toward God and admitted a sinful attitude in your heart? If something comes to mind, how did forgiveness affect your heart, your relationship with the Father? But what if you don’t recall the last time you asked for forgiveness? Why do you think that is the case? Luke 7:47 “Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”

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Week of April 15

Reactions to the Resurrection


Day 1: From the time Mary encountered Jesus for the first time, we see in scripture her seeking Him out. Mary pursued Jesus, she sought out his company and His presence. Who do you enjoy being with? Why do you enjoy being with them? Think about at least one person you genuinely enjoy spending time with. Is it the conversation that you enjoy? Is it laughter? Is it the ability to fully be yourself when you are with them? Is it just easy to be with them, doesn’t matter what you are doing, just being together is life giving? Is it all these things? Think back to the person you enjoy being with most. Write out 3-5 reasons you enjoy being with this person. Do you think any of these reasons might have been Mary’s reasons for wanting to be with Jesus? Why or why not? Can you translate any of the reasons you wrote down to your relationship with Jesus?

Day 2: Imagine you are going to meet friends for coffee and conversation. You enter the crowded restaurant and begin to look around for your friends who have already arrived. In a corner, you see one of your friends trying to get your attention. You make eye contact and you see his eyes light up as he excitedly motions for you to join them at the table. Your friends are excited you are there and you feel immediately welcomed. Conversation is flowing between the three of them, and they are eager for you to join in. This is a safe place. Now imagine these friends are God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Spirit. Does this change the scene? If so, in what way? In the Magnificent Storyby James Bryan Smith, he writes, “Members of the Trinity are intermingling, known and fully known. Each of us is designed for and invited to participate in the greatest, truest, most real, most intimate relationship that exists: that of the Father and the Son. The Spirit reveals this to us and invites us to join.”We are welcome. We are wanted. We are invited in. How might understanding the relationship in this way change how, and maybe even why, you pray? How might it change the way you interact with God? Imagine the scene described above for a time of prayer today. Consider writing about what you experienced in your journal.  

**This weekend Cory mentioned a Next Step Challenge: To spend a total of 60 minutes pursuing a deeper relationship with Jesus. For the remainder of the week we have provided four different ideas to help you focus on being in His presence. 

 #1: What words come to mind to describe God? What words come to mind when you think about Jesus? Are they the same? Read John 14:9. “If what you imagine God to be like is anything other than Jesus, then you have the wrong image of God.” -Keasler. Our image of God profoundly impacts our relationship with him and Jesus. We can’t have one without the other. Spend 15 minutes reading and meditating on John 1:1-5, John 14:9 and Hebrews 1:3. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you to learn more about Jesus and yourself.  

#2: Beauty is meant to draw us to the ultimate beauty, which is God himself. Take 15 minutes to listen to something beautiful. Before you begin, take a moment to pray and remember that Jesus is present with you. Listen to whatever music you find beautiful, whatever speaks to you. Find a place where you won’t be interrupted or distracted. Notice the sound and nothing else. You might think about what you like about it. Or you may want to think of nothing and just enjoy the sounds. As the music ends, think about how God has given us our senses, not just for useful things, but also to take in beauty. How does the beauty you’ve just heard reveals attributes of God?   

#3: Set aside 15 minutes for a “prayer walk”. The idea is to spend time in conversation with God while you engage in your surroundings. If a walk isn’t feasible, consider taking a drive or sitting on the back deck. Notice the trees, or the birds, maybe people walking by, or children playing. Imagine walking with a good friend and enjoying not only one another’s company, but the beauty surrounding you. What do you see? What is on your mind? Are there things that are worrying you? Things you are excited about? Talk to God as you would a close friend. As in all good conversations, both speaking, and listening are involved. What is God saying to you? What do you learn from the surrounding nature?  

 #4: Through serving, attending to the needs of someone else, we are following the example set by Jesus. As we love, live, and serve as He did, we deepen our relationship with Him. Think about how you can help someone today. Maybe it is someone at work overwhelmed and could use some help. Maybe it is a mom with her hands full with kids and groceries. Maybe it is someone standing on the corner in need of a meal. Ask God to open your eyes to see someone you can serve. What do you learn about God through serving another?  

One more step: Think back through the different ways you encountered the presence of Jesus this week. Was there anything that surprised you? What did you discover? Consider talking about these practices with a friend or your small group.  

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Week of April 8

Reaction to the Resurrection

John 20: 24-29

Day 1: Read John 20. Jesus’ first followers did not merely believe in the resurrection; they saw it firsthand. In fact, they were so convinced of the resurrection that many of them were willing to give up their lives for their belief. In many ways it’s easy to be envious of those first disciples. How much easier would it be to believe if you could see and touch this man who died and came back to life? Instead, we are asked to believe the impossible about a man we’ve never met in person. Did Jesus truly rise from the dead? Is He alive today? And if so, what are the implications for our lives? Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Blind faith can often be a weak and immature faith, whereas a faith that is tested and thought-through will be a stronger faith. Write down doubts you have about God or the issues you have about having a faith in Him. Put it on paper.   

 Day 2: What happens when we die? I mean, how do we really know? What if we have created the idea of God so that we don’t feel scared and alone? What if Jesus died but never actually came back to life? 1 Corinthians 15 speaks to this. Death is our enemy. No matter how rich or happy we are, no matter how good or loved we are, we are all going to die. Yet, the resurrection of Jesus declares to everyone for all time that there is hope! Do you have a safe community that you can be real and discuss faith and doubt with? Is there someone in your life who you admire? They live a life of character and faith. How do you think they would respond to your list from yesterday? Do you know how they’d answer? Could you ask them?  

 Day 3: Read John 20:24-31. When Thomas was told that Jesus was alive, he responded by saying, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” Can you relate to Thomas? Where is the proof? Are there areas of your faith that you say to God, “Unless I can see for myself, I won’t believe?” When Thomas finally saw Jesus alive in person, Jesus didn’t reject, shun, or push Thomas away because of his doubt. Rather, Jesus invited him to come and see, to touch, and to place his hands here. Then Jesus toldThomas, “Don’t be faithless any longer. Believe!” If there is an area of your faith in which you struggle with doubt, know that Jesus won’t reject you. Instead, He says, “Come see for yourself.” Take some time to pray that Jesus would reveal Himself to you today. Full disclaimer - He may answer your prayer and show up in ways you least expect.  

Day 4: Where do our doubts come from? What feeds them? Are they driven by fears or past circumstances? Add to your list from Monday. Where did these doubts originate? The more we understand our doubts, the better we will be able to make peace with them. Is it possible to believe in God yet struggle with disbelief? Go back to what you do know about God: His power, His love, and His goodness. How does your picture of God and His character affect your doubts? Read Mark 9:14-27.Consider praying back to God the words of the man from Mark 9:24, “Lord, I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” Jesus wants to work in your life, but He is looking for you to have faith in Him. Notice, He wanted the father to express belief before he healed the boy.

Day 5: Once Thomas had the evidence to settle his doubt, he was able to respond in faith, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28). In one pivotal moment Thomas went from doubting that Jesus was alive to believing that He is the living God. Read Romans 6:5-14.Once we move from doubt to belief in the resurrection, our lives are able to radically change. Just as Jesus is raised from the dead, so we too are given new life, and not just new life some day in heaven, but new resurrection life here and now. Everlasting life doesn’t start someday when we die; it starts when we believe. That doesn’t mean that you will never struggle with doubt again. It doesn’t mean you won’t struggle with sin anymore either. However, it does mean that you have completely changed and will never be the same. What is next for you? Do you have enough evidence to answer your doubt? Or do you need to remain in the doubt for a time? Maybe this week you see that Jesus is asking you to believe? If so, what would that mean for your day today? 

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