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December 2019

Volume 1

Are My Best Years Behind Me?

December 31 • December 31, 2019 • Kandi Zeller

"My best years are behind me.” I know I’ve whispered or shouted that lie to myself in times of transition—a new school, a new job, a new schedule. One of the most stinging times I remember was when I was about to go to college. I was leaving behind my beloved hometown, church family, and friends. At the time, high school had been my best four years yet. I couldn’t imagine how there could be better days after those times. But, guess what? If you know Jesus, your best days are never behind you. Because, even though one day you will die, you await resurrection in Him. Jesus is coming back to make all things new—heaven, earth, me, you, and everyone else who is a part of His family through faith. When we come back to life, our sin stays dead. Sin is what causes all that is twisted and broken, so, when it’s gone, there will be no more tears, pain, or death. Instead, through Jesus, we will live as we were made to—in perfect relationship with God and each other. Serving God then won’t be boring; contrary to popular belief, it won’t even be limited to singing. We will worship God by using all of the amazing talents and gifts He gave us. And while we don’t know all the details of our sinless, resurrected existence, we do know that we’ll have Jesus, our family of former sinners now saved by grace, and the promise of the best years of our lives—forever. And we don’t have to wait to start participating in this amazing kingdom work. That’s because Jesus started it and called us to continue it by the power of His Holy Spirit. As soon as you know Jesus through faith, you can jump right in. Go serve God in your everyday life through the gifts He has given you, asking Him and looking for opportunities to share the good news: through Jesus, our best days are yet to come. • What have been the best times of your life so far? What made them great? • What part are you most looking forward to about the new heavens and new earth? What questions do you have about them? • What talents and gifts do you have that you can use to share the good news of Jesus? But, according to his promise, we look for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells. 2 Peter 3:13 (WEB)

Trust God

December 30 • December 30, 2019 • Emily Rudolph

With our heads bowed and eyes closed, I sat in our weekly prayer circle at church. Every Wednesday before band practice, our ministry group would come together and pray. We took turns thanking God, praising Him, and laying our requests before Him. As I listened to my friend talk to the Lord beside me, I knew I was next to pray. “Lord,” I prayed, “thank You for Your grace and love. Thank You for our many blessings.” I paused because I wasn’t sure how to put the thoughts in my heart into audible words: “And...um...Lord, help me to trust You. Sometimes it’s just hard to trust You.” I closed my short prayer with an “amen” and then continued praying silently with the friends beside me. As I sat there listening to the other prayer requests, I realized what I had just said to the Lord: “Sometimes it’s hard to trust You.” Immediately, my heart flinched, and I felt convicted. Had God given me a reason not to trust Him? Was His track record tainted in some way? Was He not faithful to me? Had He retracted His love for me? As I wrestled with these questions in my mind, the solitary answer was a resounding, “No!” Here’s what I do know. God is the One who tells me that He will never leave me (Hebrews 13:5). He is the One who loves me unconditionally (Romans 8:38-39). He is the One who loves me even in the midst of my sin (Romans 5:8). He is the One who sent His only Son to die in my place (John 3:16). He calls me His own... His child (John 1:12). He can be trusted more than we can possibly imagine (Ephesians 3:14-21). • In our broken world, people can be untrustworthy. You may have been hurt by a person’s unfaithfulness. Read Numbers 23:19. Why God can be trusted, even when others are not trustworthy? • Read the Bible passages mentioned in the last paragraph of today’s devotion. For each passage, tell yourself (out loud) who God is. (For example, “He loves me forever. He will never leave me.”) Write down any of the truths that stick out to you. Those who know your name trust in you because you have not abandoned those who seek you, Lord. Psalm 9:10 (CSB)

Letters of Shame

December 29 • December 29, 2019 • Rebecca Roskamp

What am I? I thought as I stared down at my hand, now covered in words written in permanent ink. Cruel words—written all over my hands— stabbing me in the heart like knives. This can’t be who I am, I thought. Lazy, slow, fat, short, stupid, weak...every word stung with fresh pain when I looked at it. Insult after insult, crawling up my fingers and over my knuckles like ugly insects. Oh, God, no. This can’t be who I am. Where had the prayer come from? How had God come into this? God didn’t belong here, with this hand, covered in my brokenness. I was on the floor, crushed beneath the weight of the letters on my hand. What am I, God? This isn’t who you are, Becca. I blinked at the soft whisper over my heart. That writing isn’t you. That writing is what they think of you. It isn’t what defines you. I will tell you what you are. In Christ, you are My child—loved and treasured. Replace those words with My words, Becca. All that matters is what I think and say of you. Because I know you. And I love you. “Okay, God,” I said with sobs. “But it’s so hard. These words won’t just go away.” By My power, they can. Slowly and painfully, they will leave as you replace them with My words. It won’t be easy. But I will help you. I will remind you. I will love you. I looked again at the words, feeling their hot sting. NO MORE. “What God says is all that matters,” I said. I picked up a red marker from the floor. I opened my hand and, right over my palm, wrote the words, YOU SAY. The red ink, like Christ’s blood, covered some of the letters of shame on my hand. Peace settled over me. And while I knew it wouldn’t be easy, little by little, the poison of the words of shame would give way to the peace of the red letters representing what God thought of me. I would let His words guard me from the sting of lies. God would define me. I am what He says I am. • What are your letters of shame? Reread today’s Bible verses. In Christ, how does God see and define you? • How can you use God’s definition of you to replace the lies of your letters of shame? O Lord, You have searched me and known me. Psalm 139:1 (NKJV)

Christian Politics

December 28 • December 28, 2019 • Melissa Yeagle

There is one sure way to start an argument in a room full of people: start talking about politics. Social media feeds are full of opinions about politics and political officers—overflowing with conversations laced with fear and anger. Wherever these conversations take place, we as humans can be very negative and even hateful toward those we disagree with. But, as Christians, where should we stand as far as politics? There’s no verse in Scripture that says, “You shall be a Republican” or “You shall be a Democrat.” In fact, there are Christians on both sides. What the Bible is clear about is that we should always stand on the side of love of God and others—we are called to love our neighbors and pray for our enemies. So, even if a certain politician or party that we are against feels like our enemy, we are called to love them and pray for them. As today’s Bible passage says, it’s easy to pray for someone we like and agree with. But we are truly following God when we pray for those who have different opinions about politics than us, thinking the best of them (Philippians 4:2-8). So, when we find someone who has different political beliefs than we do— instead of responding in hatred and fear—we should treat them with love and respect. As Christians, we are called to show God’s love to others—the same love God showed to us through Christ (Romans 5:8). • Are you strongly for or against a certain political party or politician? If so, how do you treat those who have a different opinion than you? • Why is it important for us to pray for those in political offices (1Timothy2:1-4)? • Why is it important for us to show God’s love to others even when we do not agree with them? But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! Matthew 5:44 (NLT)

The Mimic Octopus

December 27 • December 27, 2019 • Linda Weddle

Have you seen a mimic octopus? Probably not, because not too many people have seen them or recognize that they’re looking at one and not something else. In fact, the mimic octopus is so good at mimicking, it wasn’t even discovered until the 1990s. Before that time, biologists knew that some octopi could camouflage themselves to blend into their background or imitate another creature. What’s different about the mimic octopus is that it can mimic multiple backgrounds and creatures. One scientist said they have counted the creature mimicking fifteen different species—most of them poisonous. For instance, the mimic octopus can hide its whole self, except for two legs, inside a hole. The two legs appearing above the hole look exactly like a sea snake. The octopus can also swim through the water headfirst, legs held tightly together— looking like a flatfish. Or he might lazily float, legs above his head, giving the appearance of a jellyfish. We can look at the mimic octopus and recognize the unfathomable creation of God to design such an animal, but we can also learn something else from this unusual creature. In Ephesians 5, the Apostle Paul tells us to “walk in love,” imitating Christ (Ephesians 5:1-2). We can discern what it means to imitate or mimic Jesus by talking with Him and reading His Word, the Bible. He also promises to give us help because He is with us through the Holy Spirit (John 14:26). Therefore, we can know that Jesus will give us the wisdom to know how to mimic Him in whatever situation we face (James 1:5). Next time you face a tough decision about whether or not you should do something, think about the mimic octopus. Are you mimicking Christ? • What does it look like to mimic Christ? • How does the Holy Spirit work in our lives to help us mimic Christ (Galatians 5:22-23; Titus 3:5)? Therefore, be imitators of God, as dearly loved children, and walk in love, as Christ also loved us and gave himself for us, a sacrificial and fragrant offering to God. Ephesians 5:1-2 (CSB)

Planet Home

December 26 • December 26, 2019 • Kevin Zeller

The spacecraft settled one last time. It was only when all was quiet that I realized I was back. I started to take my helmet off, then paused. Could I really do it? Walk outside without a helmet? Were the computers lying to me in their atmosphere reading of 21% Oxygen, 1% argon, and 78% nitrogen? The rest of the crew didn’t seem to think so, and they all lumbered off the ship through the airlock, struggling against 9.807 meters per second of acceleration. I had expected blinding sunlight and sky, but the sun was veiled by clouds, and raindrops patted against my helmet as I emerged. Instead, my first impression was of green everywhere. Trees, grass, even the uniforms of the attendants who greeted us. My suit sensor buzzed, warning me of microbial life. I silenced it with a verbal command. I hadn’t heard it during the trip, so I had forgotten it was still on. The rest of the crew had removed their helmets, so I reached up to do the same. My fingers felt weak, but I finally managed to undo the constraints and twist the thing off. Water sprayed me. Oxygen and argon-flavored nitrogen washed through me, filling my lungs and my blood. Invisible microbes landed on my skin and hair, like an organic blanket welcoming me back home. For the first time in months, life surrounded me. The trees, the people, the animals, the insects, and the smallest creatures high in the atmosphere and deep in the mantle. I was on Earth, the best place in the universe. • Why is Earth special in the universe that God created? How is it different from other planets and moons in the solar system? What kinds of details did God include in making it a habitable place for humans? • Jesus lived, died, and rose again on the earth and will return to reign on the made-new earth forever. How does this knowledge affect the way we look at our planet now? For this is what the Lord says—the Creator of the heavens, the God who formed the earth and made it, the one who established it (he did not create it to be a wasteland, but formed it to be inhabited)—he says, “I am the Lord, and there is no other.” Isaiah 45:18 (CSB)

Jesus is Fully God (Part 2)

December 25 • December 25, 2019 • Taylor Eising

Three wise men, three kings, three magi—who were these people? The truth is, we don’t know a lot about them. But the Bible and history together do tell us a few things. To begin with, the Bible never says there were three. The only reason we say “three wise men” is because they gave three gifts, so historically, Christians have talked about three people. And what are they called, anyway? The technical term is magi, which is a Greek word referring to a certain group, possibly from Persia, who studied the stars. When they traveled, they tended to do so in big groups, so maybe a better title for the song “We Three Kings” would be “We Caravan of Magi.” God showed these magi a star that predicted the coming of a great King. As they traveled, probably for months or even years, He led them to Jesus, who was about two years old at the time. They recognized Jesus as the King whose birth had long been foretold. God opened their eyes to show them that this toddler was their Savior, and they bowed down and worshiped. These travelers from afar recognized Jesus as God before most of Israel, Jesus’ own people, did! This incredible part of the story of Christ’s birth shows that Jesus is fully God. The very stars proclaim who He is. Jesus is God, and because of His goodness and holiness, His handiwork cannot help but praise Him. His Name and His divinity are written all throughout creation, and if we earnestly seek Him, He will reveal Himself to us, so that we may join in that chorus of praise (Psalm 19:1-3; Romans 1:20). • Why is it important that Jesus is fully God? Could His sacrifice on the cross have saved us if He wasn’t fully God? (2 Corinthians 5:21; Philippians 2:5-11) • Has God revealed Himself to you in any unexpected ways? What are some ways that you catch glimpses of God in creation? • It can be really hard to wrap your mind around the fact that Jesus is both completely God and completely human. It’s a divine mystery that can only be understood through faith. What questions do you have about it? Bring them to God! Who is a trusted Christian in your life you can also ask about these questions? All Your works shall praise You, O Lord, and Your saints shall bless You. Psalm 145:10 (NKJV)

Jesus is Fully Human (Part 1)

December 24 • December 24, 2019 • Taylor Eising

Sorry, guys, but I’m going to ruin Christmas for you. Jesus probably wasn’t born in a stable. Read the passage again. It doesn’t say “stable” anywhere. We usually hear about Jesus being born in a stable because it says He was laid in a manger, which is where animals eat, and in our current time and place, animals live in stables. Makes sense, right? The problem is, in the time and place that Jesus was born, animals lived in the house. Archeologists are discovering that most homes in the area were built with one small room for the animals to sleep in at night, one larger room for the family, and one room upstairs for guests. The room for the animals had large bowl-shaped indents in the floor, called mangers, to hold the animals’ food. Also, the Bible says Joseph had family in Bethlehem, so he and Mary would have been welcomed into a relative’s house with open arms. In that culture, failing to show hospitality brought an incredible amount of shame. When the Bible says there was “no room” for them, it probably means the upstairs guest room was full, so they stayed downstairs with the family and animals. So, when Mary gave birth, she was surrounded by family to help with the delivery. But the house was packed so full that the only place they could put Jesus was in the manger. Why does this all matter? Well, the circumstances of His birth say something very powerful: Jesus is human. He had a relatively ordinary birth for His time and place in history. He was surrounded by the people He came to save, right from His first moments out of the womb. Jesus experienced everything it meant to be human. Although He is also fully God, He became every bit as fleshy as we are, so that He could save every bit of who we are. • Why is it important that Jesus is fully human? Could He have taken our place on the cross if He wasn’t fully human (John 1:14; 14:6; Romans 5:12-21)? • How does the fact that Jesus is fully human affect your relationship with Him? • As we study God’s Word, why is it important to understand the culture and history of the Bible? This High Priest of ours [Jesus] understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. Hebrews 4:15 (NLT)

Prepare Him Room

December 23 • December 23, 2019 • Melissa Yeagle

Pop quiz: What famous Christmas carol was based on today’s Scripture reading? If you guessed “Joy to the World,” you’re right. This psalm talks about looking forward to Jesus’ return: when He comes to judge the earth in righteousness, bringing justice for every wrong done and destroying sin and its effects (2 Peter 3:8-13; Revelation 21:1-8). Okay, here is your second pop quiz: Can you sing the first line of “Joy to the World” without looking at the words? “Joy to the world / The Lord is come / Let earth receive her king.” In fact, this Christmas carol was originally written about Jesus’ return (or second coming) rather than His birth. Both Jesus’ birth and His return are cause for rejoicing and singing! When Jesus came as a baby, He created a way for us to be freed from sin and death so that we could be with God forever. This is because Jesus came to earth the first time to die on the cross for our sins. If we put our trust in what He did, we are freed from sin and death. Jesus’ second coming is when He returns to dwell with His people forever. But the second line of this carol is just as important as the first: “Let every heart prepare Him room.” Born that night in Bethlehem, Jesus came to prepare the hearts of His people to be in relationship with Him. Without Christ, our hearts long for the wrong things—going after sin instead of the God we were made to serve. This Christmas, if you haven’t already, consider the Savior who offers to free every part of you—including your heart—from sin and death. Put your trust in the forgiveness He offers you through His death and resurrection. • How does Jesus’ death and resurrection make it possible for us to be free from sin and death? Why is His return so important? (For more information, check out our "Know Jesus" page!.) • If you know Jesus, what are some ways He is freeing your heart from sin even now, through the power of the Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:17-18)? Let the rivers clap their hands in glee! Let the hills sing out their songs of joy before the Lord, for he is coming to judge the earth. He will judge the world with justice, and the nations with fairness. Psalm 98:8-9 (NLT)

Celebrating Christmas Around the World

December 22 • December 22, 2019 • Melissa Yeagle

On the night Jesus was born, there was a lot of celebrating going on! And those celebrations continue on to this day—all around the world. In the US, our Christmas celebrations center around putting up a Christmas tree and a nativity scene. On the actual day, we have a big meal and exchange presents. In Norway, they start celebrating on Christmas Eve. Church services start at 5:00 p.m., then people go home for a special dinner. They generally have porridge, and one lucky person gets an almond hidden in their bowl. In Poland, on Christmas Eve everyone watches the sky, eagerly waiting to spot the first star of the night. Once a star is spotted, dinner begins! This tradition is to remember the magi, who followed the star to find Jesus. They also have a tradition of putting hay on their dinner table underneath their tablecloth. This reminds them that Jesus was born in a manger. In the Gambia, they have parades at Christmas time. They carry with them something called a *fanal*. It’s something they make out of bamboo with white paper hung over it, usually in the shape of a boat, and decorated with candles or lights. In Russia, they celebrate Christmas on January 7. They go to church and then come home to a meal with twelve dishes—one dish to honor each of the first twelve disciples. In reality, it doesn’t matter how we celebrate Christmas but rather who we celebrate. Christmas is the time we set aside to celebrate Jesus. He became human to save us from sin and death. That’s something worth celebrating all year. • What is your favorite Christmas tradition? • Why is it so important that Jesus—who is God—became a human (John 1:1-17; Romans 8:3-4; Hebrews 2:14-15, 17)? For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life. John 3:16 (WEB)

Christmas: Truth Stranger Than Fiction?

December 21 • December 21, 2019 • Christiana Cudworth

What a fairy tale! Angels, a virgin birth, a manger, shepherds, magi...it’s a great story to make us all fuzzy and warm at Christmas. But can we seriously believe the story of Jesus’ birth is true? God knew the Christmas story was going to be wildly unique. In fact, He made it that way on purpose. Why? So we could know that it really is truth. How? He told us about it beforehand. The Old Testament prophecies aren’t just Christmas poetry; they’re solid, compelling evidence that the baby in the manger was God. Take a look! “Bethlehem Ephrathah, you are small among the clans of Judah; one will come from you to be ruler over Israel for me. His origin is from antiquity, from ancient times.” That’s Micah 5:2. The Messiah would be from lowly Bethlehem...written about seven hundred years before Christ came! “Therefore, the Lord himself will give you a sign: See, the virgin will conceive, have a son, and name him Immanuel.” This one is Isaiah 7:14, also about seven hundred years before Christmas. Immanuel, we know, means “God with us”; Isaiah is saying God will come to be with us, born of a virgin. “Then a shoot will grow from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots will bear fruit. The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him—a Spirit of wisdom and understanding....His delight will be in the fear of the Lord” (Isaiah 11:1-3). Jesse was King David’s father: Jesus’ direct ancestor. And Jesus—discussing theology with the religious leaders at age twelve and blessed by the Holy Spirit at his baptism—fits the prophecy entirely (Matthew 3:13-16; Luke 2:41-52). Those three verses are just a tiny taste of the prophecies that the miracle called Christmas fulfilled. Truth stranger than fiction? Sometimes it’s meant to be, so that we know it’s no coincidence. “Jesus is Truth” is the only explanation (John 14:6). • How does Jesus fulfill the promises of Scripture (Luke 24:27, 44; John 5:39; Acts 10:43; 2 Corinthians 1:20; 2 Timothy 3:15)? He [Jesus] began by saying to them, “Today as you listen, this Scripture has been fulfilled.” Luke 4:21 (CSB)

When Unexpected Emotions Appear

December 20 • December 20, 2019 • Abigail Rose

Have you ever been in a really emotional place—one where you’ve never been before? I have. Those situations are hard to navigate: they’re overwhelming and scary. Sometimes you even start to believe the lie that you need to isolate yourself until you “fix” the problem or “get over” your feelings. But real freedom is found in asking friends and family to come alongside you and listen to your struggle. You may worry that the situation will seem “small” or “stupid” because you “shouldn’t be feeling like this and just need to get over it.” Or you might think, because your emotions are so big and overwhelming for you, that you don’t want to “burden” anyone else with them. These worries can make you feel lonely and even worthless. But let me encourage you in your struggle, whatever the size of the problem. Any emotion you have, whether someone says it’s “correct” or not, is real. Because—whether you are misunderstanding a situation or the situation truly is that difficult—your emotions are telling you it’s time to take a step back and figure out what’s going on in your mind. Believe it or not, no matter what situation you are going through, God understands. He wants you to come to Him with every single emotion you have (Hebrews 4:14-16; 1 Peter 5:7). He created you with emotions, and you live in a world broken by sin and death. Jesus Himself knows the same emotions we feel because He came to live among us. Even in the Old Testament—all throughout the book of Psalms—David (who was called a man after God’s own heart) poured out his heart to God, no matter what he was feeling. So, take some deep breaths, call out to God and those around you, and know you are NOT alone! • Was there a time in your life that you felt alone with your emotions? How did you handle it? • Who can you go to with those struggles? • How did David express his emotions? What can you use from his example to let out your own emotions? Why, my soul, are you so dejected? Why are you in such turmoil? Put your hope in God, for I will still praise him, my Savior and my God. Psalm 42:11 (CSB)

Idols Among Us

December 19, 2019 • December 19, 2019 • L.M.

King Josiah!” Shaphan, the scribe, said as he burst into the palace. “We found this book in the temple. I’ve never read anything like this—if it’s true, then woe for Jerusalem!” “Read it to me,” said Josiah. Shaphan did, and then Josiah tore his robes and wept! What Shaphan read was the Book of the Law, the rules God’s people followed to sustain the covenant between God and themselves before Jesus fulfilled the law (Matthew 5:17; Romans 10:4). Josiah recognized that Jerusalem was full of sin—the breaking of God’s good rules. There were idols at every corner. So Josiah destroyed them! The next era of Jerusalem was filled with fire; but instead of burning incense to false gods, the city had a thick cloud of smoke over it from burning the shrines, altars, and temples of the idols. But what does a story about burning idols have to do with us today? You might be thinking, I don’t have any idols! It’s not like I pray to the moon or anything. Consider this: When [insert tragedy] happens, which do you do first? Post about it or pray about it? We as humans often go to other things before we think to go to God. Humans have a desire to worship. Unfortunately, we tend to forget who made us with that desire and try to fulfill it by worshiping unworthy idols. One of the biggest idols today is our phones, which we place at the center of our lives instead of Jesus. Maybe you have a different idol. Whatever it is, anything or anyone that takes God’s place in your heart is an idol. So what can we do? By the power of the Holy Spirit, we can burn those idols like Josiah did long ago. (Note: please don’t literally burn your phone—the fumes are toxic!) “Burning” today could look like setting restrictions on your phone, taking time to pause and remember your worth in Christ before you try to find it in an idol. Once we’ve removed the idol, our hearts need to be built up to become an altar to the true God. Josiah did this by calling Jerusalem together to read God’s laws and to make a covenant with the Lord. In the same way, the Holy Spirit helps us, as Christians, to refocus our hearts on Christ alone. • What idol(s) do you have in your life? • What can you do to “burn” them—remembering that Christ, not your idol, is worthy of worship and where you can find worth and identity? You shall have no other gods before me. Exodus 20:3 (WEB)

Caddywhompus

December 18 • December 18, 2019 • Kandi Zeller

Sometimes things are a little out of place—a bit caddywhompus. For example, as I was shopping in the frozen foods section at the grocery store, a funny sight caught my eye: mingled among the frozen bacon were a dinosaur, a tiger, and a deer. While it was obvious that kids had been there and had deposited their favorite finds from the toy aisle into the frozen foods, I couldn’t help but smile. It was a humorous reminder that, while things are a little caddywhompus now, we look forward to when Christ makes all things new, placing His people, and everything else, in the splendor and places they were made to be in. All to glorify Him. When Jesus, who is God, died on the cross and rose from the grave, He beat sin, death, and brokenness. And that means that, as Christians, we have real hope about the future because of what He did. We face brokenness, but—by the power of Christ’s death and resurrection—we look forward to a forever with Jesus and His people, our brothers and sisters in Christ. A forever that will be free from sin, death, and brokenness. So, when the weight of brokenness becomes too much, we can know that we serve a good God who is restoring us and who is with us even though things are a bit caddywhompus at the moment. • What things are caddywhompus in your life right now? What things are caddywhompus in the world right now? • How does Jesus’ promise to make all things new affect our understanding of broken situations? • How can you help bring the promises and restoration of Jesus into broken situations? He who sits on the throne [Jesus] said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” He said, “Write, for these words of God are faithful and true.” Revelation 21:5 (WEB)

Look Up

December 17 • December 17, 2019 • Cara Campbell

As I was out running one day, I realized how often I look down. I found myself watching my shoes, somewhat to keep my footing but mostly because I didn’t want to make eye contact with anyone who might see me. Sometimes we bury ourselves in distractions to avoid the uncomfortable, the insecurities. Or we focus on our circumstances, looking for some thing or some one to fix what’s wrong in our lives. The answer to all of it? Jesus. So, LOOK UP: From your feet...in Christ, you are a child of the King, delighted in, chosen, free. Stand tall because you are His. From your distractions...the device in your hand, the social media scrolling, the texting...look up at the beautiful people He has surrounded you with. Look them in the eyes, show them Christ’s love, and be in regular community with other believers. Look to Jesus to fill your desires, bring peace to your anxious heart, and give you strength for each day. From your circumstances...like Peter walking on the water to Jesus, when we focus on the wind and waves—the impossible, the struggles—we lose sight of Him. We begin to sink in fear. But, when we take our eyes off of Him, He reaches out His hand to catch us. Even when we fail, He loves us enough to reach for us, not abandon us. Keep your eyes on Jesus. Look to Him. He is faithful. He is able. And He is worthy. • What causes you to look down? Fear? Insecurities? • Why is it important to fix our eyes on Jesus in every situation? • How does belonging to Jesus allow us to love others—free from fear of what they’ll think of us (1 John 4:18-19)? Keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith. Hebrews 12:2 (CSB)

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