Faith is believing in what we cannot directly observe. Faith is trusting in God instead of our own nature. In Hebrews 11:1, Paul encourages the Hebrews by describing faith and later goes on to provide multiple examples of people who showed tremendous faith throughout the bible. A common theme in...
This Week's Life Lifter: For God loved the world so muchthat he gave his one and only Son,so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.(John 3:16) Think back to a time you fought for something. Was it important to you? We fight for things we...
There is an old saying that goes, “Stay prayed up!” This is one way to keep the devil at bay and to remain closer to God. Who doesn’t want to be closer to God? There are many ways to develop a close relationship with Christ. Over all the praises, songs, prayers, and...
We have all heard about Satan or the devil, envisioning anything from the snake in the garden to the red-suited, pointed-eared, trident-toting, Halloween costume. Satan in mentioned throughout the Bible and is referred to by many names including the evil one, the devil, our adversary, the...
At the end of last October, I took my family to serve for one evening of the Winter Relief program. It was a very remarkable experience and as I reflect back on it, there are three main takeaways that made a huge impact on my family...
Too often we confuse magic with prayer. Magic is instant. Magic is showy, we just kind of wave a wand and it happens -but that's not supernatural!Prayer is for THROUGH and not around!Prayer is the window through, but we want around! So many of us, on our journey, have been stopped by Satan...
Luke 11:4 says, "and forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us." Now, this is a difficult thing to do. It's one of those things that sound easy but is very, very difficult. It's been said that forgiveness is kind of like drinking poison to punish someone else. We all have...
“They all joined together constantly in prayer.” Acts 1:14 People often have an idealized idea of what praying as a family should look like. In a perfect world, praying with children would be easy. We would sit around the table with our well behaved children (who would have...
Father loves the lost, and prayer is the way the lost get found. When we pray, God does something in us and something through us! When we pray, we enter into the presence of God and if you go there often enough and you pray with all of your heart, and if you do not give up, you...
The day starts with the best of intentions. You tell yourself in the most convincing manner possible that today is the day. You will absolutely find the time. You will have the most amazing prayer time ever. Then its off to the races. Your feet hit the floor running. There’s no...
We all want to be at peace, but we allow many things to come between us and that peace that we are looking for. Let's turn to the Bible for answers to those things that separate us from peace.
1) 1 John 3:1-2
See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.
We should reflect on God's love for us and study it. God's love for us is not earned, yet he calls us his own. God is not of Earth and because we are his children, neither are we. This explains why we have so many problems with living in the world. However, we can find great peace in considering God's love for us and that one day we will be with him forever.
2) Deuteronomy 31:7-8
Then Moses called Joshua and said to him in the sight of all Israel, “Be strong and of good courage, for you must go with this people to the land which the Lord has sworn to their fathers to give them, and you shall cause them to inherit it. And the Lord, He is the One who goes before you. He will be with you, He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear nor be dismayed.”
In Deuteronomy 31, Moses comforts Joshua telling him that the Lord goes before him, providing as he has promised. We cannot go anywhere God hasn't already been and where he hasn't already been working. We should be courageous because we trust that God is with us and he will not leave us.
3) Ephesians 2:14-18
For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.
In Ephesians 2, Paul describes how Jesus has broken down the things that separated the Jews and the Gentiles and now they can come together as one community identified as followers of Christ. Disharmony among believers or between believers and non-believers can only be resolved through Jesus. If we work on improving our relationship with Jesus, drawing him near, then we will see improvement in our other relationships. We are all identified as children of God and by growing closer to him we will grow closer to each other.
4) Matthew 11:28-30
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.
A common barrier to peace is the desire for us to accomplish as much as possible in our professional life. Hard work does not have to be a bad thing, but we can begin to idolize our own success and forget to rest. When we rest, we are relying on God to take care of us while we focus on the blessings he has given us. It is important that we prioritize rest, where we do not worry about the future or struggle with our past but go to God and lay our burdens at his feet.
5) Colossians 3:15-16
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.
Ultimately, we are our own barrier to peace. Sometimes we get caught in a place where we feel that someone or something in our life is keeping us from peace, but these thoughts are just wrong. The offer of peace is always there, we just have to be willing to soften our hearts and let Christ rule in our hearts as Paul wrote to the Colossians.
Jesus wants you to have peace because when you are in Him, you have all you need to live your life. He’s got this!
How were you first introduced to Jesus? It’s a good bet that you learned about Jesus because someone shared with you. They shared their personal experiences and the joy that he brought into their life. That person shared with you because they knew the impact Jesus would have in your life. Something about that interaction stuck with you, and your life began to change.
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” - Matthew 28:18-20
Jesus is at the center of everything when it comes to sharing the gospel. It was Jesus that commanded us to go and make disciples. It is his Spirit that fills us and overflows to others. It will be Jesus that convicts someone and transforms their life when they welcome him into their heart. The number one thing to remember about sharing is that it all comes back to Jesus.
He should remain the center of our conversation:
- Ask what they think about Jesus.
- Share your Jesus story-about how Jesus is real and relevant to you.
- Talk about answered prayers, or how you’ve seen Jesus work in your life or the lives of others.
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. - John 14:6
Prayer is always a great place to start. Pray for opportunities to share Jesus and know that they will come. We should also pray for boldness in those moments, as it will take some faith to act on those opportunities once they arrive. It can be uncomfortable to open up about your life and how Jesus has changed it. You have to make yourself vulnerable to describe the highs and lows of the walk with Christ, but what makes it uncomfortable is also what makes it so important. Those feelings of triumph and redemption are exactly what we need to communicate. That is real life and what sticks with someone long after.
We can also share Jesus in our every day lives. If we have allowed Jesus to be in every part of our lives then he will always be on our minds and come up naturally. A friend once told me that she thought a coworker was a Christian, so she would often talk to her coworker about their beliefs and what Jesus meant to them. She did not become aware that her coworker had not known Jesus until the coworker told her they had only recently began attending church and accepted Jesus into their life. That's how quickly and powerfully Jesus can transform someone's life once he has been introduced.
As you prepare to follow the command of Jesus to “Go and make disciples,” you can do these things:
- Pray that Jesus will bring people into your life who are seeking him, and for your courage and boldness to share.
- Know how Jesus has made a difference in your life. Think of a time when you knew that Jesus helped you either in a time of peace, a time of trouble.
- Learn how to talk about how Jesus is real to you in your everyday life. Have you seen answers to prayer? That’s something to share. Have you had peace in a time of trial? That’s a story about Jesus in your life.
- Make new relationships, or start bringing up Jesus in your conversations with people you know.
- Be willing to help people when they are in need, this is part of sharing Jesus.
- Love well and believe big!
If you have experienced the love of the Father through the life of the Son, then sharing that love is a natural next step.
Who are you sharing Jesus with this week?
Greater love has no one than this:
to lay down one's life for one's friends.
The greatest love is to lay down your life for your friends.
Certainly we aren't called to die for our friends...are we?
Well, yes. We are.
If we mean to show the love of Jesus to the world then we must die!
We must die to self.
We must lay down our own lives -- set aside our prejudices, our rights, and our own desires -- for a better way.
A way of love.
There is no other option in Scripture.
If we want to live we must die to the desire to put ourselves first.
We must lay down our busy lives for our friends...
- We can lay down our To Do List and help a friend in need.
- We can turn off Netflix and be with our neighbors to start relationships.
- We can set aside our prejudices and instead show empathy and share God's love.
Laying down your life and helping someone else pick up theirs is the beginning of a relationship that shows the love of Jesus.
Laying down your life and helping someone else pick up theirs is the beginning of a relationship that shows the love of Jesus.
And in case you were wondering, God has equipped you to lay down your life. He has equipped you to share his love. He has even put someone in your life who needs to know about Jesus.
What are you going to do?
Love has called your name and gifted you. Love is sending you and offering you the greatest joy of eternity--leading the lost home. Love asks you to lay down your life.
For whom will you lay it down? Who will you lead home?
For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works,
which God prepared in advance for us to do.
We are often reminded of our “first world problems” on days when things just don’t go right. The drive to work is slow, the bus is late, the coffee tastes lousy, the day of work or school is demanding, the refrigerator isn’t stocked with the favored snack of whatever it is we happen to be craving.
We are grumpy, frustrated, irritated until someone finally reminds us these are first world problems - be grateful! Begrudgingly we agree but continue to count our problems.
Throughout the world there are problems to which we can’t relate. Problems we have no experience dealing with on an everyday basis. Daily problems that are found in third world countries. Places where the one water source is contaminated and is available only after a hike of several miles. A place where the average income is less than a $1 a day. Where education is only available to those who can afford it and are not needed to work at home. Homes are largely constructed of mud - the only available and affordable building material. Transportation is a scarce commodity if one would need to traverse rutted mountain roads. The local communities have been decimated by AIDS leaving children to be raised by older siblings, who are children themselves, or by grandparents.
Pastor Drew, in meeting his sponsored child for the first time, thought to himself, “These children are real.” They are real and they have true third world problems.
Imagine if you were able to provide an education and clean water to a specific child who’s name you know and family you know about. Imagine being part of supporting a community that is able to have sustainable businesses and services that once seemed impossible. Imagine being part of releasing a child from poverty in Jesus’ name!
Don’t just imagine, go do it!!
Compassion International is an organization that can and does make this happen with the support of people just like you. According to Compassion International regarding their child sponsorship programs, “All of our child development programs provide opportunities that encourage healthy development in four areas — spiritual, physical, social and economic.”
The Bible speaks specifically to our role in helping the poor. Proverbs 19:17 says, “Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward them for what they have done.” God doesn’t tell us this because it’s a nice thing to do, he tells us this because he created us and in doing so he knows that joy comes when we give our lives to serving and caring for others.
Jesus modeled this compassion throughout his ministry. Ultimately he told his disciples to, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,…” (Matt 28:19)
We are to go!!
Will you spend time focusing on third world problems and being grateful for your first world problems? Will you pray and search for guidance on how God is asking you to respond? Will you take the steps of compassion as Jesus modeled?
For more information on child sponsorship, go to https://www.compassion.com/child-development-model.htm. For ways to get involved locally go to severnrun.com/get-involved or call the church office at 410-551-6654.
In less than a year, God has completely turned my life upside down.
My family and I began attending the Church at Severn Run about two and a half years ago. Though I missed my old church, I tried to get in the swing of things, participating in the college-age Connect Group, SMASH, and working in the preschool wing. Other than teaching Sunday School for the three year olds, which I’d done before I came to Severn Run, I wasn’t really interested in taking up any other leadership positions.
Last summer, I attended a church conference that encouraged those of us still in college to start Bible studies on campus, and to spread the Word particularly on secular campuses, such as UMBC. Initially, I thought about it, but ultimately decided I couldn’t do it. I wasn’t outgoing enough; I didn’t know enough about the Bible. I came up with dozens of excuses.
I went home, and life went on, until, last fall I was asked to co-lead SMASH when some of the original leaders were moving away. My mind went back to the sermon at the church conference, and after good deal of prayer and discussion with my parents, I agreed. It was scary and outside of my comfort zone, but this, I figured, was all God was going to call me to for a while.
My life continued to change, though I didn’t see it at the time. I’d kept in contact with Joe Thompson while he was in Hawaii with YWAM. [Read Joe's story here] One night, after attending a campus Bible study that was focused on missions, I remember telling him that I would never be able to do what he was doing. I couldn’t go so far away from my home and my family. I’ve never even been away from my parents for more than a week. I’m also extremely introverted. So many excuses, all saying that I felt I was not made to go to distant lands to teach or spread the Word.
Meanwhile, I was beginning to feel run down. My education classes, though rewarding, weren’t teaching me what I felt that I needed to know. They told me that I needed to adapt my lessons for students with learning disabilities and linguistic differences, but they weren’t telling me how to do it. I felt that I was inadequately prepared to be a teacher even though I’ve wanted to be a teacher since I was in kindergarten. I began to pray about whether this was the career path that God wanted me to follow.
Not long after, I saw a video posted about a Teaching English as a Second Language Program at YWAM. The program would teach the students how to create lessons and units for English Language Learners, and then, because Hawaii has such a diverse language population, it would allow the prospective teachers to actually teach those students.
I was somewhat interested, but knew that there would be too many obstacles. I start student teaching in the fall, and the schedules obviously wouldn’t line up. The funds were also an obstacle. As a child in a family of six where the parents are now trying to put three kids through college at the same time, my family simply doesn’t have the money to fund this type of trip. Nonetheless, I was strangely compelled to look into the program, and the scheduling.
Surprisingly, due to the new law in Maryland that schools cannot start until after Labor day, I wouldn’t have to start student teaching until after the program had finished, and my job, which is directly connected to that of the school system, would only be marginally affected. UMBC’s academic schedule cooperated too. The more I looked into this option, the more it looked like God was giving me a good kick in the pants. It was as if there were a billboard saying, “Cara, this is where I’m sending you. Now, go. Apply.”
I’ve learned I’ve been accepted into the program, and I leave July 11. With some donations from family and a bonus for extra professional development from work, I’ve bought the plane tickets, and I will officially be going to YWAM for a 6-week program over the summer. I don’t know what God has in store or how He will provide the funds for the tuition, but I do know that God has a plan for my life. I can’t wait to see what it is!
Cara Campbell is a senior at UMBC, majoring in Literature and Elementary Education who works in the after school childcare program. She is the oldest of four children and has been a believer for as long as she can remember. If you are interested in learning more about this story or Cara’s mission trip, please contact the church office.