Month: December 2019

Holding it Together

Colossians 1:17
He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

Written by: Sarah Gauer

Recently I took a trip to the Grand Canyon with my family. Standing there looking out over the edge, I was reminded of the magnitude of God. The depth, length, and beauty of the canyon are spectacular. While there I learned that it is a little bit larger than the state of Delaware. This fact blew my mind even more because, as large as the canyon is, it is very small in the scope of the entire world. An in comparison to the canyon, I’m even smaller.

The Grand Canyon is beautiful evidence of God’s creativity and power at work. As today’s verse states, He is not only the Creator, but Jesus is also the Sustainer, holding all things together. It’s easy to see that He created the Grand Canyon and is sustaining the life within it. Yet sometimes, I forget that the same Jesus who created and sustains the earth is my Sustainer as well.

God is big enough and creative enough to speak the entire world into existence. He thought of the mountains, beaches, sunsets, and billions of unique faces. If He is big enough and creative enough to set all of that into motion and sustain it for eternity, isn’t He big enough to sustain me, who He knit together in my mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13)? Isn’t He creative enough to handle my struggles?

The truth is that I can’t always hold it together. When I try to do it on my own, apart from Jesus, I crack. But the good news is that I was never made to hold it together on my own. Jesus is my sustainer, in whom I can trust to love, care for, and refine me each day.

KOH-12.17Thought of the day: What struggle are you holding onto today? Talk to Jesus, your sustainer, about this struggle and ask Him to help you trust in Him.

Prayer: Jesus, thank you that You are in charge of all things. Thank You for holding all things together, and that You don’t expect me to do the same. Thank You for the beautiful evidence of Your power and magnitude. Help me to trust You as my sustainer. Amen.

Poem with Purpose

Ephesians 2:10
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Written by: Larry Van Laar

I have always admired the incredible abilities God has given His children. Some individuals have such extraordinary gifts and talents. I wonder how it is even possible for them to be able to do what they do. This last summer, my family and I traveled to Europe for my son’s wedding. While there, we visited some of the oldest and most renowned museums in the world such as the Accademia Gallery in Florence, Italy where Michelangelo’s “David” resides. I was struck by my emotional and visceral response to a statue. It was hard to believe that with simple, crude instruments like a hammer and chisel, a human could create such flawless and intricate art.  I should not have been surprised. Our God is the Creator. He has created and made everything that has been made and continues to create to this day. He also created us to be like Him. We share His ability to create and appreciate that which is created.

Our scripture for today tells us He has bestowed upon us all gifts and abilities to demonstrate His splendor and majesty—it could be sculpting, painting, speaking, teaching, parenting, caring for others or something else. These are all from our Creator. We are His “poiema,” the pinnacle and the point of His creation.

KOH-12.16Thought of the day: Our gifts and abilities are not just there to serve us in our personal human pursuits, but to first and foremost bring glory and honor to the One who gave them to us. How has God uniquely created you? What are your passions and pursuits that are you using to glorify the creator? 

Prayer: Lord, thank You for creating me just the way You did. Now, help me to not be envious of gifts You gave others. Please remind me daily Your fingerprint is on me and You created me just the way you wanted. Help me to remember I am Your poem with purpose. In Jesus’ name, amen.

To Seek And to Save the Lost

Luke 19:10
For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.

Written by: Ian Rock

When Jesus lived on earth, there were many other religious leaders around. Rabbis and Pharisees devoted their lives to knowing the scriptures and teaching them to others. Though the Bible they had wasn’t fully complete and they hadn’t realized Jesus was the promised Messiah, there was still so much to learn and share regarding God’s love, goodness, and promises. When we study the people they spent their time with and taught, we see that they primarily focused on church people that looked and acted “good enough” on the outside.

Jesus went about His ministry very differently. He didn’t spend a lot of time with church people. Jesus spent His time loving and teaching those that the church viewed as outcasts, unclean, and hopeless. Jesus crossed cultural boundaries defined by race, nationality, gender, wealth, and family background. He showed them a love that they had never seen before and offered them hope for a future that seemed impossible before they met. To put it simply, Jesus didn’t expect people to believe or behave before they knew they could belong to Him.

KOH-12.13Thought of the day: Each day we encounter people that need the good news of Jesus. What if the thing that could change their lives is not knowledge or judgment, but our love?

Prayer: Jesus, thank You for loving me as I am, not as I should be and for loving others the same way. Give me the grace to offer others when I feel myself feeling judgmental, and the courage to seize the opportunities you put in my path to love them the way you do. Amen.

Changed by Association

Acts 4:13
The members of the council were amazed when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, for they could see that they were ordinary men with no special training in the Scriptures. They also recognized them as men who had been with Jesus.

Written by: James Washburn

You have probably heard of the phrase, “guilty by association.” Just being in the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong people can get someone in a lot of trouble, even if they are innocent. It’s the idea of “associating” with someone which produces some sort of negative result. Let me use a play on words here with the idea of “being changed by association.” Sometimes you are at a certain place with certain people for an experience that changes you for the positive. The two men in the scripture for today are perfect examples of this concept in relation to Jesus.

Peter and John were disciples of Jesus. A disciple can be simply defined as a personal follower/student of Jesus and these two guys were associating with Jesus all of the time and on a daily basis.

In Acts 4, Peter and John are standing and proclaiming the Good News of salvation before a large crowd of people. In the crowd are a religious council of priests, the captain of the Temple guard and the Sadducees (religious scholars Jesus had multiple negative run-ins with). These were very religious and highly educated people. The next day they all decide to confront Peter and John to give them a hard time about what they were teaching to the crowds the day before. Peter and John become bold by the power of the Holy Spirit and defend their teaching and proclaim salvation to all of them as well. The educated and religious people were shocked at how bold Peter and John were and how well they knew their stuff given the fact they had no formal education.

I love the very last part of verse 13 which states, “they also recognized them as men who had been with Jesus.” Just being associated with Jesus on a daily basis changed everything about the lives of Peter and John, including the way others looked at their educational status. Their lives were changed by association!

What if you and I decided to follow Jesus and to become a disciple of Him? The same thing that happened to Peter and John would happen to us. Every aspect of our lives would be changed because we would be learning from the greatest teacher there has ever been. We would be changed by association!

KOH-12.12Thought of the day: Just being associated with Jesus changes us and others can see it. Let’s allow ourselves to be “changed by association” with Jesus.

Prayer: Jesus, help me to draw closer to You and teach me more about my faith in You. Open my eyes to things I have never seen before and help me to be a student of Your Word. Give me the courage to not be afraid to be associated with You no matter where I am or who I am with. In Jesus’ name, amen.