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March 2020

2020

What Does Jesus Want Me to Do with My Life?

March 31, 2020 • March 31, 2020 • Andrew Stevens

What does Jesus want me to do with my life? Have you ever asked that question? I know I have. There’s so much pressure to know what you’re going to do before you even leave home. And at the same time—both a blessing and a curse—there are so many options. It’s honestly anxiety-inducing. What if I make the wrong choice? What if I choose something outside of God’s will? Good news: If you know Jesus, you’re already in God’s will. It’s not some nebulous, ethereal, fountain-of-youth thing. It’s living each moment of your life in light of what Jesus has done to free you from sin. It means devoting the little and big things in your life to serving Him. You find God’s will by understanding who He is. And that can be found in His Word, the Bible. If something isn’t sinful, you can do it in freedom—and to the glory of God. That’s the point, actually. So seek to honor God in all your choices—the big future ones and the little everyday ones. Study His Word, talk to Him about everything, and be in community with other Christians—in other words, get to know Jesus. The more you know Him, the more you’ll know His peace. Some days will have you feeling more anxious than others, but He’ll be with you every step of the way. • Kandi Zeller • If you know Jesus, how does knowing you’re already in God’s will change your perspective about the future? • What are some big decisions you are facing right now? Small ones? How does your faith in Christ affect those decisions? • What are your favorite Scripture passages to read when you are anxious about upcoming decisions? • What people in your life can give you Christ-centered wisdom about hard decisions? For this is the will of my Father: that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him will have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. John 6:40 (CSB)

Redemption in a Rubik's cube

March 30, 2020 • March 30, 2020 • Emily Tenter

I had finished my six-month dental checkup and was walking back to the waiting room at the dentist’s office. To pass the time before my appointment, I had brought my Rubik’s cube. I’d been practicing with it, and I had solved two sides that day as I waited to get my teeth cleaned. I didn’t want to bring it into the exam room with me, so I left it on a small table in the dentist’s waiting area. I planned to grab it on my way out after the checkup was finished. To my surprise, the Rubik’s cube I discovered after my appointment looked far different from the one I’d left in the waiting room. No longer were the two sides I’d solved gleaming in their bright, uniform colors. Somebody had come in after me and jumbled all the squares. What I had worked to create, someone had undone in the short time I’d spent having my teeth cleaned. In a similar way, because of our sin, we’ve jumbled the lives God created and gave to us. On our own, we could never solve the mess we’ve made with our sin. But God has plans to restore and redeem. Christ’s death in our place—paying the penalty and punishment for our sin— gives us the opportunity to begin a relationship with our Heavenly Father as forgiven new creations (2 Corinthians 5:17). When we turn to Christ and entrust our lives to Him, by the power of the Holy Spirit, the restoration begins! We won’t remain mixed up and jumbled like that Rubik’s cube I left in the dentist’s waiting room. God is faithfully working out His plans to restore us as His people and to one day make all things new—free from sin and death (Philippians 1:6; 1 Thessalonians 4:13–5:11, 23-24; Revelation 21:1-8). As we walk with Him day by day, He is fulfilling His good purposes in our lives (Romans 8:28-30). • Allison Wilson Lee • No matter how big of a mess sin has created in your life, God can redeem that mess. To learn more about how Jesus restores and redeems, check out our "Know Jesus" page. • As Christians, how can remembering the restoration God is accomplishing encourage us when we struggle with sin (Ephesians 2:1-10)? How does belonging to Him move our identity away from the things we do and to the things He has done (1 Corinthians 6:9-11; 2 Corinthians 5:14-21)? For it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. Philippians 2:13 (NIV)

Stand in the Gap

March 29, 2020 • March 29, 2020 • Andrew Stevens

Wow. Ezekiel was a prophet in Israel at a hard time to be following God! The priests, the government, and pretty much all the people were committing all sorts of evil. Nobody cared about God. God couldn’t find anyone to “stand in the gap”—to fill the void of righteousness in Israel (Ezekiel 22:30). Sound familiar? Following God has always been hard because our world is broken by sin. When people and society as a whole reject Jesus, evil is accepted and encouraged, including by religious leaders who claim to be following God. It’s hard to find true, sincere, fully committed Christians—people who are determined to know God and follow Him with all of their hearts. In this broken world, what does it mean to really follow God? What does it mean to “stand in the gap”? It’s an even harder question when you’re young and wondering, What can I do now? Good news: in Jesus’ kingdom, age is not important (1 Timothy 4:12). But how do you stand in the gap in such a sin-filled world? By seeking Jesus, who is God (Titus 2:13). You stand in the gap by knowing Him, the One who is righteous (or sinless) even when your actions are not (1 John 1:9–2:1). You grow in your understanding of this good news by talking to God through prayer, studying the Bible (His Word), and regularly gathering with other Christians to worship Jesus and encourage each other in your pursuit of making Him the center of your lives. If you’re a Christian, you are a part of the next generation of God’s people, who know and love Him and share the good news of His kingdom to a world that needs His rescue from all that is evil. • Christiana Cudworth • Who are strong Christians you know—people who have centered their lives on Jesus? How can you follow their examples (Philippians 3:17)? • Jesus is the One who stands in the gap for us. Without Him, we can’t stop sinning. But Jesus took God’s just wrath on Himself. Those who put their faith in Him are wrapped in His righteousness; it is like they have never sinned (Isaiah 59:16-19; Romans 3:22-26; 2 Corinthians 5:21). How could these truths encourage you when you see sin in yourself and in the world? Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity. 1 Timothy 4:12 (NLT)

Heavenly Things?

March 28, 2020 • March 28, 2020 • Emily Tenter

You might have been told by people in church to try your best and forget about “earthly things” (i.e., anything that is fun or enjoyable) and focus your attention on “heavenly things” (stuff like singing in church). Don’t do it, at least not in the sense that they mean. The reason Paul tells us to “seek those things which are above” is that Jesus Christ, after He rose from the dead and defeated death forever, ascended into heaven (Colossians 3:1). That is, in fact, where He is to this day. But Jesus’ ascension to heaven wasn’t a return journey, at least not exactly. Jesus has always existed, being God Himself, but His human nature was ascending to God’s space for the first time. The dust of earth has been exalted to heaven in Jesus—who is fully God and fully human. Paul actually says we need to set our minds on Christ, who is in heaven. Christ, who is human as we are. Who is of the earth as we are (John 1:14). Paul is not telling us to avoid setting our minds on things that pertain to Earth the planet. This is because, although Jesus has ascended to heaven, that is not where He is going to stay. When the time comes, He will return to Earth and He will raise the bodies of His people from death (Romans 8:19-24; Revelation 21:1-5). He will reign and rule on the made-new Earth forever and ever. So set your mind on Jesus, the earthy King of Earth. Rejoice in the victory He has won over sin and death and eagerly anticipate His glorious return. • Kevin Zeller • What do most people mean when they say to focus on “heavenly things”? Does this match what the Bible says? • Reread today’s Bible passage. We live in a world broken by sin. In our lives, what sort of things might be “earthly”—opposed to Christ and His reign (Colossians 3:5-17)? If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Colossians 3:1 (NKJV)

Garden Heart

March 27, 2020 • March 27, 2020 • Andrew Stevens

A warm wind blows through the trees And stirs the face of the water. Wandering about the garden free— Echoes of songs and laughter. A soul, a smile, A song to be sung; The start of a fire, His work had begun. He bent on His knees And sat in the dirt; Tugged on the weeds And toiled in the earth. All of this work Because He had treasured. Though His job was not finished, In this place He found pleasure. This work was perfection And beauty precise. All love, no rejection; Tears formed in His eyes. Its glory so bright, He loved so He bought; Completed and worthy, This garden, her heart. • Kylie Barnett • Where does our value come from? What kind of value did God create us with (Genesis 1:27, 31; Psalm 139:13-16)? • We are sinners who need to be rescued by Jesus (Romans 3:23; 6:23). When we put our trust in Him as our Lord and Savior, we become new creations: sin is no longer our identity (2 Corinthians 5:17). How is this newness both instantaneous and a process (Philippians 1:6)? • As Christians, if our hearts are gardens bought by the blood of Jesus and tended by the Holy Spirit, what does that say about our sin? Is any weed too big for the Gardener to pull up? Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, and see, the new has come! 2 Corinthians 5:17 (CSB)

Repent!

March 26, 2020 • March 26, 2020 • Emily Tenter

What does it mean to repent? Often we think of repentance as turning away from the wrong things we do every day. And this can be a result of repentance. But repentance in the biblical sense is less about what we turn away from and more about who we turn to: Jesus Christ. On the cross, Jesus destroyed our sin. In His resurrection, He defeated death. He is the king over the entire universe, exalted to the heavens. If we believe that He is Lord and that God has raised Him from the dead, we will be saved (Romans 10:9). This is the repentance the Bible speaks of. Not saying, “Whoops, I gossiped again. I had better repent of that right away.” Instead, we say, “I turn to the risen and living Lord and worship Him alone.” We turn to Christ, our King and the One who saves us from sin. And when we turn to Christ, all the things we have turned away from—and all the lies we have believed—will ultimately lose their grip on us. When we repent and turn to Christ, we are putting our faith in the promise that we now belong to Jesus, even though turning away from sin will be a lifelong process and even though we will fail time and time again. We are given the promise that Christ will rescue us from death itself in the resurrection. And we are brought into His kingdom, in which there will be no false gods, no lies, and no sin. • Kevin Zeller • Why should Jesus be the focus of our repentance? • Have you turned away from sin and to Jesus? What questions do you have about what this means? Who is a trusted Christian in your life you can bring those questions to? To learn more about turning to Jesus, check out our "Know Jesus" page. Peter said to them, “Repent, and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Acts 2:38 (WEB)

Slumber Party

March 25, 2020 • March 25, 2020 • Andrew Stevens

The term slumber party has always amused me. You all get into your pajamas, go to your friend’s house, and spend the night eating, watching a movie, and sharing stories with each other. You do everything except sleep! It’s more like a party without slumber. As we grow older, these slumber parties are replaced by all-nighters as we prepare for exams and other academic requirements. We have our friends come over to stay up all night with us—not to share fun conversations but to work on papers due the next day. We gulp down cups and cups of coffee just so we don’t doze off and miss the deadline. When life goes beyond slumber parties and thesis deadlines, it’s still not uncommon to lose sleep. A sick parent, an unresolved relationship conflict, waiting for a job offer, and anxiety about the future often rob us of sleep and quality rest. For an overthinker and worrier like me, sleep sometimes becomes a luxury. In times when getting shut-eye seems unheard of—and the uncertainty of the next minute jolts us awake—we can choose to lift our eyes to our Lord and Savior. Jesus watches over us. When situations are beyond our control, staying awake through the night won’t be of any help. Instead, we can rest because Jesus promises to ultimately keep us from all harm; we are held in His love and presence as He works all things for the good of those who love Him (Psalm 121:7; Romans 8:28, 38-39). God never sleeps, so we can sleep soundly in His embrace. • Jennifer A. Sun • Why can the Lord be trusted to take care of His people even when we are facing big problems (Psalm 121:2; 145:9; 1 Peter 5:7; Revelation 21:1-5)? • God calls us to rest because we’re human (Deuteronomy 5:12-15). We can’t keep going and going because we’re not God. Resting also reminds us that nothing we can do will earn God’s favor; that’s a gift He gives through Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8-10; Hebrews 4:9-10). How do these truths affect your perspective on resting? He will not let you stumble; the one who watches over you will not slumber. Indeed, he who watches over Israel never slumbers or sleeps. Psalm 121:3-4 (NLT)

Rejoice and Weep Together

March 24, 2020 • March 24, 2020 • Emily Tenter

Your friend beat you out for the role you wanted. Maybe it was a spot on the varsity soccer team, the lead in the musical, or the job you applied for. It’s so difficult not to let bitterness fester after receiving a disappointment—especially when a friend receives what you were hoping for. One way to fight against the bitterness? By leaning into the gift of community God gave to us as Christians. But this is easier said than done. I personally am competitive, so it’s hard for me when I see my friends achieving things I want. But the kingdom of God is not a zero-sum game. What does that mean? Basically, just because my friend got the role I wanted, that doesn’t mean there are no more roles left for me. What is given to her is not taken away from me. God gave Christians the gift of community so we could strengthen each other through empathy for each other. As the church, we’re called to “rejoice with those who rejoice” and “weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15). That means we rejoice when our friends rejoice. When a friend accomplishes something, we celebrate with them. At the same time, we’re called to weep with those who are weeping. If a friend is facing disappointment, we mourn with them. Lament and rejoicing are equally important responses for us as the Body of Christ (which includes all Christians around the world and throughout history). We can do this because Jesus Himself wept with His friends over the death of His friend Lazarus (John 11:35). He also asked His friends to stay awake with Him during the dark moments before His betrayal (Matthew 26:36-46). And, that same night, He celebrated the Passover—and the first ever Communion—with the disciples (Matthew 26:17-29). Jesus understands our hurts and our joys, and He is with us through both rejoicing and weeping (Hebrews 4:14-16). So, we can bring both our letdowns and our celebrations to God and to our brothers and sisters in Christ. We are secure—in disappointments, grief, or joy—because we have Jesus. We are heard by Him and by His people. • Naomi Vroegop • As Christians, why is it important to share our hurts and joys with other Christians? How does this protect us from bitterness when one friend receives something we wanted? • How can you mourn and rejoice with people in your life? Rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep. Romans 12:15 (CSB)

Dramatic or Not

March 23, 2020 • March 23, 2020 • Andrew Stevens

Of all the conversion stories in the Bible, none is more dramatic than that of the Apostle Paul. Before knowing Jesus, Paul—also called Saul—was one of the most vicious, violent persecutors of the early church. Brilliant in intellect, he used his mind to orchestrate beatings and deaths against the converts of this new religion called Christianity, fearing it threatened his Jewish faith. His conversion story has been told and retold countless times. He was traveling the road to Damascus when he was blinded by a great light while the voice of Jesus asked, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” (Acts 9:4). Saul’s conversion was so dramatic that the leaders of the fledgling church didn’t believe him at first. It took a good amount of time before they finally accepted the truth: Saul the persecutor was now a disciple of Christ. My conversion was nothing like that. My brother shared the gospel with me when I was twelve, and I prayed a simple prayer while sitting on the side of my bed. There were no fireworks, no lights, certainly no voice from heaven. Later, my story of conversion was mostly met with shrugging shoulders and blank stares. I wasn’t a rebel or criminal before my conversion, so afterward, few noticed any differences. But, like the Apostle Paul, I was different, even if nobody really saw it. I was a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). The death and resurrection of Christ that was sufficient to convert Paul in ancient Israel also covered a twelve-year-old in California. Maybe you don’t have a Paul conversion story either. Whatever your story, your sins are forgiven and you’re a new creation in Christ, all based on His sacrificial death and victorious resurrection. • Mike Hurley • If you’re a Christian, how would you describe your salvation story? • If you know Jesus as your Savior, you are a new creation. You are free from the power of sin and death, and one day, when you see Jesus face-to-face, you will be made completely free from sin and death’s presence (1 Corinthians 13:12; 2 Corinthians 3:18; Revelation 21:1-8). How does knowing you are a new creation help you through the ups and downs of life? If you don’t know Jesus and want to learn more about what that means, check out our "Know Jesus" page. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, and see, the new has come! 2 Corinthians 5:17 (CSB)

Being a Light

March 22, 2020 • March 20, 2020 • Emily Tenter

Bullying. It’s painful to experience. But here’s the thing: I don’t know bullying’s pain because I’ve been bullied. I know its pain because I have been the bully. I’ve made fun of people. I’ve gossiped about people I didn’t like. I’ve secretly judged the so-called “losers.” But, because I was a Christian, I thought I was different from bullies. I wasn’t one of those people, right? But I was one of those people. I was a bully. It took a long week—full of conviction, tears, and prayer—for Jesus to help me see that reality, changing my life and outlook. I realized I wasn’t just hurting the people I was mocking, teasing, gossiping about, and hating. I was hurting Jesus, the One who died for my sins, including bullying. I was not acting like I belonged to Him. I was taking God’s creations, made after His own image, and raising myself above them. Like I was better than them. But I’m not. I’m a sinner, and I need Jesus’ grace—just like everyone else. Bullying is a sin because it forgets that every person was created in God’s image. Basically, making fun of other people is hating on God and His good creation. As I sought to turn away from the sin of bullying, Jesus was with me—working in me to make me more like Himself. I apologized to the people I hurt. God was humbling me so I saw myself not as better than others but as equal to them in God’s eyes. I started to see people as wonderful, interesting creations of God Himself, even becoming friends with people who were still being hated on by others. No matter how badly we’ve messed up, Jesus can restore us and use us to become a light to others who are struggling. He redeems us from our brokenness and gives us the opportunity to share His love and truth with others. • Natalie Gilkinson • Why is it important that (1) God created all people in His image (Genesis 1:27) and (2) we are all sinners in need of Jesus (Romans 3:11-12, 23; 6:23)? How do these truths affect the way we see those around us? • If you are a bully, are being bullied, or are seeing bullying happen, who is a trusted adult you can talk with about it? • If you have questions about sin and how it affects all of us, check out our "Know Jesus" page. Rich and poor have this in common: The Lord is the Maker of them all. Proverbs 22:2 (NIV)

Abraham's People

March 21, 2020 • March 21, 2020 • Andrew Stevens

We are the people of Abraham. We don’t come from the same families or nations or ethnicities. We don’t have the same color skin or eyes. We don’t have the same cultures or backgrounds. The people of Abraham are ultimately not a race bounded by descent, but by faith. In ancient times, God made a covenant (or promise) with Abraham, and God swore by Himself that He would keep it (Genesis 12:1-3; 17:1-8). Abraham couldn’t keep his end of the promise, and neither can we. The Old Testament proved this, as Abraham’s physical descendants, the people of Israel, failed and failed again morally. They kept trying to worship anything other than the One True God, and we do the same thing. We are sinners and desperately need God’s intervention. Fortunately, Christ, the physical descendent of Abraham, kept the promise for us, and we are secure in Him through faith (Galatians 3:16, 26-29). Abraham didn’t just believe in God. He believed God could raise the dead (Hebrews 11:19). This is the faith that saved him, and this is the faith that saves us as Christians. We have all the more confidence, knowing God has raised Christ from the dead. Like Abraham, we believe God will raise our bodies from death, and we will die no more (Romans 8:11). As Christians, our faith is more than two thousand years old. Abraham lived at the very dawn of civilization, and God has been adding to His family ever since. One day, the whole family will be together. Abraham will see the children God promised him, like the sand on the seashore. They will come from ancient times, the medieval period, and the modern era. They will come from the land Abraham settled and every other land under heaven. Christ will gather them because He was the One who made the promise. • Kevin Zeller • God’s covenant with Abraham required Abraham’s full obedience, but, as a sinner, Abraham couldn’t live in obedience. Instead, God counted Abraham’s faith in Him as sinlessness (or righteousness) (Genesis 15:6). It was as if Abraham had never sinned. How did God’s faithfulness to Abraham show what He was going to do through Jesus (Romans 4:1-8; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Ephesians 2:8-9)? • As a Christian, what does being in a family this huge mean to you? And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, heirs according to the promise. Galatians 3:29 (CSB)

Through the Pain

March 20, 2020 • March 20, 2020 • Emily Tenter

The Holy Spirit prays to God the Father for us. What a comforting promise! All those words we cannot form out of the depths of our pain and sorrow, all the times when we can do no more than whisper, “Jesus!”—He is there, pleading to the Father on our behalf. When we just can’t seem to pray, “God’s will be done,” He prays it for us (Matthew 6:9-13). The prayers of Jesus rise before the throne of God the Father, the One who loves His Son, Jesus, and the One who loves His people beyond compare (Romans 8:31-39). Whatever life brings, we can take God at His Word: He will work in those things for good (Romans 8:28). A situation itself might not be good. In fact, many of life’s challenges and disappointments are heart-wrenching. But, as Christians, we can be encouraged. Jesus died, rose again, and is returning to destroy sin and death forever (Revelation 21:1-5). He knows our hurts, He is with us, and He is working through the bad stuff and through the pain to make us more like Himself (Matthew 28:20; Philippians 3:7-14; Hebrews 4:14-16). When we go through that dark night of the soul, we can lean hard on Jesus. He can use even our deepest pain to draw us ever closer to Himself. Receiving the comfort we long for from God the Father will equip us for helping others who are walking through fire (2 Corinthians 1:3-4). God is there in all our troubles and through the pain, pouring out His comfort and compassion on us, so we can be there for others in their pain. Through it all, we know that, because of Jesus, suffering will not have the last word (Revelation 21:4). • Savannah Coleman • In our world broken by sin and death, some things that happen are just downright awful. It might seem impossible that God is working in certain situations for good, especially if the things that took place were anything but good. How does it comfort you to know that God promises to work in all things for good, a process that will be completed when He returns to make all things free from sin, suffering, and death (Romans 8:28; Revelation 21:1-8)? • Since the Holy Spirit prays for us, we can go to God with our hurts even when we don’t have words. What are some hurts you are experiencing right now? And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28 (NIV)

Give Generously

March 19, 2020 • March 19, 2020 • Andrew Stevens

The offering plate passes by, and you watch others put in change and envelopes. Your school asks for volunteers to serve as tutors to the younger grades, and nobody raises their hands. A friend comes up to you after class, and you realize they asked you to pray for them two weeks ago, but you forgot. As Christians, what does giving generously look like in our everyday lives? Giving has always been an important characteristic of God’s people. All the way back in the book of Genesis, Abel gave God “the best portions of the firstborn lambs from his flock,” and God “accepted Abel and his gift” (Genesis 4:4). Then, later in the Old Testament, God called the Israelites to be generous in many ways, including to set aside one tenth of their agriculture and animal production (Deuteronomy 14:22-23). For Christians today, it isn’t as cut and dry as a simple 10%. Instead, these Old Testament passages show a general principle of giving our first and best to God—of making Him the center of how we use our money, time, and talents. Giving back to God is a way to show we trust Him to continue to provide. This will look different for everyone, but the principle is the same (2 Corinthians 9:7). Giving generously serves as a reminder that every blessing we have comes from God (James 1:17). God Himself is generous: He has given us Himself— Jesus (John 3:16; 10:25-30). Without Jesus, we are sinners, so generosity doesn’t come naturally to us (Romans 3:23; 6:23). As Christians, we have the opportunity and power to be generous because we have God’s Holy Spirit working in us (Galatians 2:20). But what if we feel too young to give? In God’s kingdom, no one is too young, and no gift is too small—whether that gift is money, talent, or time (Luke 21:1-4; 1 Timothy 4:12). Jesus has redeemed all of it. Because of what He has done, as Christians, we are free to glorify Him in everything we do, including in our giving (Colossians 3:17). • Naomi Vroegop • What questions do you have about giving? Who is a trusted Christian in your life—such as a pastor or a friend—you can bring those questions to? You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.” And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others. 2 Corinthians 9:7-8 (NLT)

Fire

March 18, 2020 • March 18, 2020 • Emily Tenter

Do you like campfires? To me, there’s nothing more relaxing than sitting around a campfire talking with a group of friends or family. But fire can be dangerous too. In today’s Bible passage, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were faced with a tough choice involving fire. They could (1) do what God said was wrong and worship a statue set up by King Nebuchadnezzar or (2) refuse to worship the statue and get thrown into a fire by King Nebuchadnezzar. They made the right choice, refusing to bow down to the statue and trusting God would be with them no matter what happened. Everyone around them probably thought they were crazy for making that decision. There was no way the three men would survive. Especially since the furnace was so hot that it killed the king’s soldiers who threw Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego into the furnace. But, when King Nebuchadnezzar looked into the furnace, he was amazed. In addition to the three men he had thrown in, he could see a fourth one who had the appearance of a heavenly being. God had sent a deliverer to protect Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Even in the furnace, God was with them. As Christians, whenever we go through a trial, we can trust God, following Him wherever He leads us. No matter how scary our situation might seem, Jesus will be with us every step of the way (Matthew 28:20). • Melissa Yeagle • It can be hard to know what God wants us to do in a scary situation. One thing we can know for sure? God will never tell us to go against the truths revealed in His Word (2 Timothy 3:14-17). When we need wisdom, what can we do (James 1:5)? • Who are wise Christians in your life you can talk with if you need help (Proverbs 11:14; Galatians 6:1-2)? • If you belong to Jesus, what can separate you from God and His love for you (Romans 8:39)? If the God we serve exists, then he can rescue us from the furnace of blazing fire, and he can rescue us from the power of you, the king. But even if he does not rescue us, we want you as king to know that we will not serve your gods or worship the gold statue you set up. Daniel 3:17-18 (CSB)

On Solid Ground

March 17, 2020 • March 17, 2020 • Andrew Stevens

Life digs a pit and throws me, kicking and flailing, inside. I hit the bottom hard. There’s no escape, so I call out, “Lord, save me! I’m not meant to exist in this pit. I know Your plan is good!” I sit down and wait for my Savior, expectant for His face to appear over the edge. Time passes, and I fidget, wondering why it’s taking Jesus so long to intervene. I know He heard me. I stand up. I hear noises! My eyes flit back and forth, expecting a rope or a hand. Instead, I see dirt from a shovel come flying into the pit. I duck my head just in time to protect my eyes. More scoops come until my hair and shoulders are dusty and my nostrils twitch with oncoming sneezes. “Who’s up there?” I shout. Satan pokes his head over the edge and grins. “It’s me. Adding misery to what Life does. Fun, isn’t it?” Another scoop follows his words down to the bottom of the pit. I back myself against the wall of the pit. I press my lips together, trying to keep my heart steadfast. I know my Savior loves me. I eventually snap over the shovelfuls that don’t stop. “Lord, if you’re not gonna get me out of here, could You at least bring me a shovel so I can throw some dirt back at him?” I shout. “Don’t You care that Satan’s winning?!” Jesus comes. All the way to the bottom. He has a board and begins tamping the loose dirt. He sings the Song of Grace as He works. I frown. “Why are you down here? Can’t You get me out? Don’t You wanna thwart Satan’s dirt?” Jesus looks at me with love. “Trust Me,” He says. “It might look like Satan is winning, but here’s the secret. I am using his evil, feeble work to fill in the pit. He thinks he is destroying forever. But I am restoring things—even this very pit— using his evil intentions for good. When I am done tamping, we will walk out of the pit together on solid, level ground.” H. K. Rausch • We live in a world broken by sin (Romans 8:19-24). How did Jesus—on the cross and through His resurrection and ascension—destroy sin and Satan’s power (Colossians 2:9-15)? • Read Romans 8:28-39. How can we know God is good and is working all things for good? What is the end result of God’s purposes for His people (see verses 29 and 30)? • Read John 11:35 and Hebrews 4:14-16. What comfort can we get from knowing God became human and experienced life in this broken world? Why is it important that Jesus knows what suffering— including death—feels like? • What can we, as Christians, do while we wait for God to reveal how He will work in a particular situation (Proverbs 3:5-6; Philippians 4:4-8; 1 Peter 5:7)? Why is it important that He is with us while we wait (Matthew28:20)?Is suffering the end of the story (Revelation 21:1-5)? And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28 (NIV)

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