Maple Grove Mennonite Church
Church Office open Monday-Friday 8.00am to 12.00 noon - Telephone 717 935 2513
Sunday School: 9.30am on Sunday mornings. Worship service: 10.30am on Sunday mornings. All are welcome
Pastor: Alan Kauffman
Ministers: All members of Maple Grove
Maple Grove Devotionals
During this time when circumstance prevents us from meeting in person a number of people within the church have expressed a willingness to write short devotionals to help maintain a sense of connection with each other. These may be based on passages that the writers have found speaks to them in a particular situation, passages that have a particular meaning to the writer, or maybe simply something that came to mind for the writer.
We are thankful for the willingness of so many of our church attenders to share their thoughts with us. If you would like to write a devotional to share please contact the church office.
"Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit", says the Lord of hosts - Zec 4:6
In Wednesday's devotional we looked at how it sometimes seems that God has got the wrong number, that someone else is better suited, more qualified, or just generally a better choice for the job than we are. Another classic objection to answering God's call is that it's difficult, or even that it's impossible.
I can only imagine how Moses must have responded to the idea that he, a slave, should face Pharoah and tell him to let the Israelites go. Never mind the way he was slow of speech, the idea that Pharoah would even consider the idea was preposterous. How Jonah might have thought talking to the Ninevites and calling them to repent might have been received? Scripture is full of people being called to do the outlandish or promised the impossible - even to the point that Abraham and Sarah called their son Isaac, derived from the Hebrew word for laughter or mockery. Truly it was a ridiculous idea that Abraham and Sarah, at the ages of 100 and 90, should have a child. And yet that's exactly what happened, as God kept his promise. In the valley of dry bones Ezekiel was given an instruction that, stripped down, said command these bones that have been dead for years to come back to life".
We shouldn't necessarily expect everything to just fall into place when we start to follow God's call. Sometimes it can happen - when Jonah finally went to Ninevah the city repented in short order but even so Jonah found something to complain about - he didn't think the Ninevites deserved God's compassion. Moses, on the other hand, made his request of Pharoah many times before finally leading the Israelites out of their slavery and even then had to deal with them complaining all the time.
It's certainly important to test a call before jumping in with both feet but if it truly is from God the fact it appears impossible isn't an obstacle. As Jesus himself said, "with God all things are possible".
Jer 1:6-7 NKJV Then said I: "Ah, Lord GOD! Behold, I cannot speak, for I am a youth." (7) But the LORD said to me: "Do not say, 'I am a youth,' For you shall go to all to whom I send you, And whatever I command you, you shall speak.
Here we see the beginning of Jeremiah's ministry, and Jeremiah's reluctance to heed God's call. In verse 5 God tells Jeremiah how he was ordained before he was even formed in his mother's womb, and here Jeremiah essentially tells God that he just isn't up to the job because he is too young.
In this specific setting Jeremiah's objection is his age. Moses objected to his calling on the basis that he was not eloquent, he was slow of speech and slow of tongue (Exo 4:10). Jonah didn't even speak an objection to his calling, he just went the other way as fast as he could manage. Maybe this can be reassuring to us - I suspect many of us can quite truthfully claim to follow in the footsteps of great prophets when we figure that maybe we're not the best person for the job, that God might have called us but maybe he got the wrong number.
Of course we have the advantage of knowing how things turned out. Jeremiah prophesied in the name of the Lord many times, Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt and Jonah merely uttered eight words (count 'em - "Forty more days and Ninevah will be overthrown" - Jonah 3:4, NIV) and the people of Ninevah repented. I don't know about you but it normally takes me more than eight words to say hello to someone. Changing the lives of that many people in eight words is the kind of thing speaking coaches can only dream of but this man who literally fled from God's calling did just that.
This, too, is encouraging. In secular terms it's often easy to see who the best person for the job is - if we want the job we can highlight our qualifications and our prior experience, and if we don't want the job the chances are we can come up with some fine-sounding reasons why someone else is better suited, just as many have done before us. But as God spoke through Isaiah, "My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways" (Isa 55:8).
God calls the person he wants to use for a job. Being woefully underqualified in a secular sense is no handicap in God's kingdom when goes before us. Let us avoid responding like Jeremiah or Moses and instead respond like Isaiah in Isa 6:8 when he said "here am I, send me".
My devotional life starts early in the morning when I sit and read the Bible with the cd player. Usually I read 4 chapters a morning and then I go back and read the footnotes using the New Living Translation - Life Application Study Bible. It amazes me the applications the footnotes have for me and also I enjoy the person reading to me and his knowledge of the correct pronunciation of all those names in the OT. Presently I am starting the book of Leviticus - discovering that those OT stories are fascinating and at times wondering why they are a part of God's Word but as I said the footnotes apply life applications for me in the present time.
During this time Herb and I are enjoying life. At first it was fun on a Sunday morning to sit with a cup of coffee, dressed in pj's, cross stitch in my hands and worshiping with not only Maple Grove but participating with parts of the Allensville, Locust Grove and Barrville churches. However, this morning it was not fun - it took an effort to even tune in - this whole ordeal is getting wearisome to the mind, body and soul. As far as feeling isolated I am not - thanks to the location we live. As I wash my dishes I can watch all the activity at Ye Old Dog House and needless to say there seems to be lots of action there even on the cold rainy days. I live between Sharp Shopper and the Dollar Store - if the need arises for a walk. This morning Herb and I rode 6 miles on the bicycle. I was happy he was content to ride the pace of 7 mph instead of the 16 mph he went later on with his biking buddy Scott. So with the above being said I do miss you all and will be so ready to return to some normalcy on a Sunday morning but I do remind myself that I may never want to return to the 'normal' again. How is God using this time to create and renew the right spirit within me? There is a prayer that I read this morning that I would like to share with you all.
A prayer about PERSPECTIVE
When I wonder if there's a pattern to my life
From my human perspective, the world and events in my own life often seem to be random and unpredictable. But your Word clearly states that you are still in control and that people's sinful ways do not ruin your sovereign plans. You can use even someone's poor choices to fulfill your bigger plan - just as the unjust treatment Joseph suffered at the hands of his brothers fulfilled your plan to save Jacob's descendants from famine and bring them to Egypt. I have faith in your eternal, comprehensive plan, and I believe that someday I will be able to see that you have made my life a beautiful tapestry. Right now I can see only sections of the back, with all of its knots and loose ends. But I trust that someday in heaven I will see the front in its entirety - the picture of world history and my own life from your perspective. How amazing that will be! So today give me the grace to interpret unexpected and even unwelcome circumstances as part of your grand plan. When I do, I know I'll be able to embrace both the good and the bad, knowing that you are weaving a beautiful picture with my life.
The Lord will work out his plans for my life.
This prayer spoke to me too that God is working out his plan for the whole world as the whole world is being affected. I rest in the thought that God is in control and I can place my trust in Him knowing that he sees the whole picture. What an awesome God we serve!
Jesus spoke to them again, saying "I am the light of the world. He who follows me shall not walk in darkness but have the light of life" (NKJV)
I've made a few things from metal over the years, and the final stage of the process is the finish. It's the part that can take an age, sometimes as long as everything else put together. Imagine starting with a piece of scrap metal. It's not in great shape, but it has the potential to be made into something good. So you take this piece, rough at the edges, maybe rusty, and figure out which part of it you can use. Then to remove the rust you use a coarse tool that's about removing a lot of material fast, to get back to the bare metal. Once you've got that far you can cut it to slightly over the size you need, and then file it back to the right size. Initially you'll be using a very rough file, then progressively finer files until the end process is using extremely fine polishing paper. At each stage you hold it to the light to look for flaws, to spot imperfections or unfinished sections, and work to a greater and greater level of detail. When something has a perfect finish you can shine a bright light on it and look really closely and not see any imperfections in the surface at all.
In the same way when Jesus calls us to himself we are like those rough pieces of scrap material. We were in the darkness, rusty and in bad shape. We were pretty much tossed into the corner and forgotten until Jesus shone a light and found us. When we first accept Christ and cast off of our former selves it's like the very coarse tool that strips the rust from the surface, leaving clean metal underneath. As we continue our walk with Jesus so more and more of us is cut away as we become more and more like Jesus. Initially the changes are obviously huge - perhaps we change overnight in a way that is obvious to anyone. And then, over time, the changes may appear less and less significant to external observers but we are still slowly being metaphorically cut, filed and polished by Jesus.
Just as we put a physical light closer and closer to a workpiece to see ever-smaller imperfections in the surface, the same happens as we draw closer to Jesus. The closer we draw to Jesus, the more our lives come into the light and give us the chance to surrender ever-more of our issues to Jesus.
Of course the devil would love us to think that we can figure it out on our own, we can get on with the filing and polishing by ourselves. We can always improve ourselves, right? Well, perhaps, up to a point. Trying to finely polish a piece of metal without a source of light to inspect it is perhaps best described as a fool's errand. We could get busy filing and polishing, hoping for the best. But, as 1Co 4:5 describes, when the Lord comes and brings to light the hidden things it will be plain to see that our attempts at polishing fall badly short.
Let us heed the words of Rom 13:12, cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light.
Jesus spoke to them again, saying "I am the light of the world. He who follows me shall not walk in darkness but have the light of life" (NKJV)
Many people describe darkness as the opposite of light, when the reality is that darkness is simply the absence of light. If you go into a dark room you can't see anything, but turn on the light and the darkness retreats instantly. With the light on we can see clearly but, as soon as we turn off the light, the room falls straight into darkness.
If we are looking to walk, we need to see where we are going. If we are trying to work on something very small and fiddly we'll try to shine a bright light on it so we can clearly see what we are doing. In the same way our spiritual walk needs light so we can see the path ahead rather than stumbling in the darkness.
Isa 9:2 says "the people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, upon them a light has shined" (NKJV). Isa 42:16 includes the phrase "I will make darkness light before them". Where we previously walked in darkness, Jesus provides the light for us to see.
Once we have that light within us we too can shine. Matt 5:16 says "let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven". John 1:5 says how the light shines in the darkness but the darkness does not understand it. The world may struggle to make sense of our good works - from a worldly perspective the priorities of a Christian life make little sense. If the world preaches "Look after Number One" while Jesus preaches "love your neighbor as yourself", we shouldn't be surprised if people are confused. It's an ideal opportunity, as Peter put it, to be ready with reason for the hope that is in you (1Pe 3:15).
In a time like this many people are afraid. As others have already written we shouldn't be looking to test God to make a point but perhaps even something as simple as continuing to love each other and being like the Good Samaritan may be all that is needed to sow a few seeds for God's kingdom.
"The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing." Zephaniah 3:17
I first encountered this verse during a 24 Hours of Prayer event held at our previous church in London, England. At the time I was going through a "dry" season in my walk with God, feeling a bit like the wandering sheep, but as I walked through the church doors that day I went in with the prayer that God would be revealed in a personal way.
As I was leafing through some of the various resources, I came to a meditation titled "The God Who Sings Over You". What jumped out at me was author Fran Andrews' thoughts on the last part of the verse:
"HE WILL REJOICE OVER YOU WITH SINGING - Can you think of anything more wonderful and more humbling? The Lord, Your God, who is Mighty, sings over you. No matter what is happening in your life, no matter your trials and mountains to climb, God is with you every step of the way and He is rejoicing in you and who He made you to be. He is so happy, He sings!"
Wait, what!? God sings over ME? Not only that, it is a song just for me; my very own heart song from God. Wow!
For my church family this will come as no surprise, but I LOVE to sing. In fact, thanks to my late Aunt, music has been a part of my life since childhood. I find joy and great freedom in singing. Freedom from fear, anxiety, and worry- which are things that taunt me on a daily basis. As I pondered the Scripture verse I began to wonder, what does God's song for me (and you) sound like? It is a sound that my heart longs to hear. But, instead of resting in the quiet, I often allow the chaos of this life to drown out the still small voice of my Creator. It is my prayer for each of us, especially now during these chaotic days, that we take time to rest in the quiet, and just listen...
Philippians 4:8,9 "Finally brethren, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report, if there be any virtue and if there be any praise, think on these things."
While cleaning I found these notes that I'd kept from Rick Warren, author and pastor of Saddleback Church in CA, (he wrote "Purpose Driven Life") as given in an interview by Paul Bradshaw during his wife's battle with cancer. During the early, endless days of quarantine I found this especially helpful. However, the more I thought about it, I thought there was encouragement and challenge for everyday living. Here are some of his quotes. Be encouraged and challenged. :)
I used to think life was hills and valleys - you go through a dark time, then you go to a mountaintop, back and forth. I don't believe that anymore.
Rather than life being hills and valleys, I believe that its kind of like two rails on a railroad track, and at all times you have something good and something bad in your life.
No matter how bad things are in your life there is always something you can thank God for.
You can focus on your purposes or you can focus on your problems.
If you focus on your problems you're going into self-centeredness, which is, "my problem, my issues, my pain". But one of the easiest ways to get rid of pain is to get your focus off yourself and onto God and others.
Happy moments, PRAISE GOD
Difficult moments, SEEK GOD
Quiet moments, WORSHIP GOD
Painful moments, TRUST GOD
Every moment, THANK GOD
We bought our daughter, Jenna, The Promises of God Storybook Bible by Jennifer Lyell for Easter. Each of the stories shares a promise of God. One of the first stories we read was, not surprisingly, about Adam and Eve. The story was told in much the same way that I've always read it-- explaining that Adam and Eve listened to the serpent, not God. How they lied, and blamed someone other than themselves. But this version of the story really focused on Adam's and Eve's hearts. And this is the part of the story that stood out to me, and has been rolling around in my mind since we read it. The story said Adam and Eve's hearts changed when they disobeyed God. Their hearts became hard. And the story explained that hard hearts can't hear, obey, or love God. Hear. Obey. Love. Those words stood out to me.
Over the next few nights, as we continued to read more stories, I saw that the condition of the individual's heart was woven through almost every story. Noah had a soft heart and obeyed God when it seemed crazy to build an ark. Abraham had a soft heart and listened to God when he was told to sacrifice his own son. Joseph's brothers had hard, jealous & angry hearts, wanting to kill him. The condition of our heart determines how we respond to God and others around us.
If I want a soft heart towards God, and I do, then hearing, obeying, and loving are so important. I want a soft heart that hears God, obeys God, and loves God. That involves action on my part.
Ezekiel 36:26 says "I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you. I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh." In my Bible notes about this verse it says "In this verse, God declared he would bring about the change." Action on God's part.
As I was thinking about these two ideas--action on my part and action on God's part--I realized that God starts the initial change of our hearts. He takes care of the initial transformation. But then it's our turn. We have to be willing to be still and quiet long enough to hear Him. We have to set aside our selfishness and choose to obey him. We have to love with our actions. A soft heart is willing to do this. And as we hear, obey, and love our heart continues to soften.
Quarantine is hard. The modern freedoms and conveniences that we are used to have been ripped away because of something that we cannot see. Change is difficult under normal circumstances, but none of us could have imagined the situation in which we are currently living. Some of us are finding ourselves being forced into positions that we have never been in before. For instance, as a parent, I am now expected to also be a kindergarten teacher. It's a challenge! Some of us are having to learn new things about computers and technology in order to communicate as well as participate in events. My wife has even tried her hands (literally) at becoming a barber!
Naturally, times like these force us to examine ourselves and our lives. The sheer amount of time we have had to do this is staggering. As Alan mentioned in his sermon a few weeks back, it can be a very revealing thing. I am finding some things I like about myself, and a lot of things I don't. It's a lot to unpack.
If you are like me, you have experienced every range of human emotion. Sometimes I am really happy with all the extra time at home. I am spending much needed time with my wife and children. I am getting some things done that I haven't had time to do in a while. On the other hand, if I spend more than 5 minutes on social media, or reading or watching the news, I find myself sliding into a pit of despair.
Anxiety, fear and anger are rampant right now. As Christians, we sometimes feel the need to have all the answers for people that are struggling with these things. We feel guilty when we feel these things ourselves. We question if we have enough faith and belief in God's promises.
I believe that God fully understands our plight as humans. We know that God sent His son to suffer in our place, but He also sent Him to experience everything that we do. We need to look no further than Jesus' reaction to losing a close friend, or praying in the garden while facing crucifixxion. Jesus grieved. Jesus wept. We often think of the physical pain that Jesus experienced on the cross, but I was struck recently to think about the mental anguish He must have experienced. It must have been nearly unbearable to know that He would be betrayed by someone who walked with Him daily while He ministered on this earth. Someone who saw firsthand the miracles He performed. Someone who saw Him at His most powerful, and at His most vulnerable.
As we shelter in place it can be easy to feel overcome with our emotions. As we reflect, we need to remember that God chose to send His son not as a deity with whom we could not relate, but as a human, born into humble beginnings, who went through everything that we do on a daily basis. Jesus is so relatable because He truly knows our joys and our struggles. And for that, there is always reason to praise Him!
The trumpeters and musicians joined in unison to give praise and thanks to the Lord. Accompanied by trumpets, cymbals and other instruments, the singers raised their voices in praise to the Lord and sang: "He is good; his love endures forever." Then the temple of the Lord was filled with the cloud, and the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled the temple of God.
The stay-at-home mandate has me missing many things: family, old familiar routines, familiar faces on a regular basis, freedom to go where we want when we want, events, and more. But I have also found myself longing for the day when we can worship together. It is almost like my spiritual stomach is growling! There are just some things, no matter how hard we may try, that cannot be duplicated. And as the passage from 2 Chronicles illustrates, singing together is one of those.
I have told a couple people this story: About 6-8 months ago, and about 4-5 times, long before Covid-19 and all of its accompanying lingo was common, I found myself sitting in church on Sunday mornings, acutely aware of the privilege of being immersed in live music, whether it was our joined voices or the instruments playing along or just the instruments themselves for prelude or offertory. It occurred to me that not everybody has this opportunity and wondered what would it be like if it were taken away. It was hard to even imagine. ... but not anymore.
Youtube videos and car stereos and mp-3 players are wonderful substitutes, but they are not the real thing. There is something about live music that is powerful and engaging and motivating that sermons and Sunday School lessons are not. (To illustrate: If you are on your deathbed, you have a much better chance to remember a song than one of my sermons!)
To be singing a song of worship to God together regularly moves me. For me, nothing restores my soul like music, this rich mixture of lyrics and music, creating a sum greater than the individual contributors. And so yes, I am looking forward to seeing you again. But if the truth be told, I am also looking forward to hearing your voice join mine in glorifying God's goodness and love, which lasts forever.
I have been keeping a personal diary of sorts to help me sort some thoughts and hopefully track my feelings during this unusual, unprecentened, scary, confining time. As I reread it and as I survey my own thoughts/feelings I have seen a common thread... let me learn my lesson and get on with this, get back to the freedom of visiting my family, when I want without any fears or concerns.
Then I remembered...When the 5 of us would travel to KS, non-stop, for 24 hours, my focus was always getting to Mom and Dad's house. I HATED the trip, sitting still for 24 hours in a 'tin can' was awful. At times we were quite squished as I was between teen 2 boys in the back seat worCOLT. It was years before I had the revelation "maybe I should just try to enjoy the trip". Things were a bit better after that.
When I read Acts 1:6 I read, The apostles kept asking Jesus "Lord has the time come to for you to free Israel and restore our kingdom?" v7 He replied, "The Father alone has the authority to set those dates and times and they are not for you to know".
Today is the 4th of April and we are looking for days of this to continue... possibly by the time you read this, this will not be as relevant, but for now... the footnotes of this really spoke to me. They said, "Like other Jews, the disciples (me) chafed under the Roman rulers, (Wolf and other leaders with their directions). They wanted Jesus to free them from Roman power (Covid-19) and then become their king (free to come and go). Jesus replied that God the Father, sets the timetable for all events-worldwide, national and personal. If you want changes in your life that God hasn't made yet, don't become impatient. Instead trust God's timetable." Life Application Bible.
SO... again I reign in my emotions and try trust His timetable and continue to look for blessings along the way...and "enjoy the ride"!
by Alan Kauffman
As often as I have the opportunity, I caution people against pulling verses out of context. There is nothing absolutely wrong with this in my mind, if the verses are meaningful to us; unless we treat what we find in the verses as absolute. As much as possible, we should try to read verses in the largest context as possible, the greatest being the whole Bible itself. And as we do, to ask, how do these verses compare with the rest of scripture?
Cherry picking scriptures is especially prone to happen during times of hardship and crisis, like the days we find ourselves living right now. And Psalm 91 is a case in point of the temptation to read a text in isolation from the rest of the Bible. Psalm 91, read alone without respect for the whole of scripture can come across as a kind of "God-shield" around us so that nothing could possibly harm us.
And so verses from Psalm 91 like: "Surely He will save you from the fowler's snare"; or "no harm/disaster will come near you"; or "He will command His angels concerning you, to guard you in all your ways"; and finally, "because he loves me, I will rescue/protect him." And this is just a sampling of the comforting guaranteed protection described if you read the entire Psalm.
So why should we have to practice "social distancing"? Don't we really believe God will protect us? Do we believe Psalm 91 or not, some may say with an air of confidence. In the context of Psalm 91 alone, those who say these things are absolutely right in having such confidence. But does this hold true under the light of the entire scripture?
Just one brief example should do. This happens to be the exact text the devil used in trying to tempt Jesus. As you recall, Jesus resisted the first temptation by quoting scripture, "Man cannot live by bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God." (Italics are mine. This is Matthew's telling of the temptation story.) So the devil, using Jesus' quoting of scripture against Him, decided to use "a word from the mouth of God" to trip up Jesus.
The devil tempted Jesus to do something risky/crazy. "Throw yourself down from the highest point of the temple, for (God's word says) 'He will command His angels concerning you. . .'" . Why not do it? Doesn't Psalm 91 say God's angels would protect Him? But Jesus does not do it. Why? He tells the devil we are not to put God to the test.
In other words, God has created us with a mind for a reason, in order to reason. God has put His Spirit within us to guide us. We are not to take unnecessary risks and in doing so, put God to the test. We are not to do risky things expecting God's protection no matter what we do.
So yes, trust and obey scripture; but we are to use the brains and the Spirit God gave us as we continue to work diligently to keep ourselves and those around us safe from harm. Interestingly, the Matthew 4 telling of the story ends with, "then the devil left Him, and angels came and attended to Him."
by Lynn Peachey
John 16 has often been a chapter that speaks to me because I love to have answers. So did the disciples want answers. I like to understand things - so did the disciples.
Jesus tells them, it is for their good that he is going away. He says, unless He goes away the Advocate will not come to them, but if he goes, He will send him to them. (Verse 7) Jesus does what is good for us. How comforting that is. He will always do what is good for us, because He loves us.
Verse 13 Jesus tells them that the Spirit of truth will guide them into all the truth. Verse 15 says the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.
How wonderful that Jesus who WAS truth sends a Spirit that will guide us into truth. His care for us carries on - He made provisions for us. The Spirit will make known to us what Jesus tells it to give us. It is our daily bread, our peace, our comfort and truth. We can rely on Jesus to look after us faithfully. Because He said he would.
In verses 17 and 18 the disciples have questions. They are struggling to understand. I feel their pain. I have lost 5 family members in 4 years. My Mother on October 12, 2016, my Aunt Nancy December 24, 2017, my Father November 21, 2018, Uncle Bob September 15, 2019 and Zachary our beloved grandson December 24, 2019. Each loss was painful and difficult. The 4 eighty-year olds each played a huge part in my life and I cared for them over a 15 year period of time. Zachary was like a son/grandson to Jon and I. His death shook my life like nothing else ever has. I thought I would die of a broken heart. I struggled to understand. I didn't want it. For many days I was numb. My mind struggled to accept it as fact... I wanted to wake up. To me it almost felt like God had left me. This wasn't supposed to happen. It wasn't fair. Not my Zachary. No No No!
Our daughter helped greatly with her calm and quiet faith by just listening to my cries and then reminding me that God loved Zachary even more than I did. I must admit I wondered if it were possible but finally my faith came back to the surface and I knew it was true. One day I turned to John 16 and I read it a few times. I found no peace until towards the end in Verse 22 "so with you: now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice and no one will take away your joy." There is was! This is what I needed! I know these verses are for the disciples and to assist them with their grief from being separated from Jesus - but they were mine too and soothed me in my grief of being separated from Zachary.
The last verse, Verse 33 says, "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world!" YES, YOU HAVE JESUS! Ok, because nothing else I know can overcome this crazy and painfilled world but you - I will trust in you! I will rest in you! Thank you for being a "way maker" through all my grief and heartbreak. I look forward to the day when I will see you and there will be no more tears - only JOY! Your daughter, Lynn
by Betty Hartzler
During Lent we normally think about giving up something. This Lent season we weren't given a choice. It was made for us. Visitation with friends, with families, the joy of working, contact with the community have all ground to a halt - or nearly so for many of us not in essential jobs.
What if instead of chafing against the virus isolation, we accept it as a gift from God. What if we see it as a "sabbatical" - a time to relax from the busy pace of life, a time to get more sleep, eat healthier, enjoy the beauty of each day, a time to do all those things we were previously to busy to do. It can also be a time to watch God recreate the earth with Springtime - leaves budding, flowers blooming.
What does God want to teach us during this "sabbatical?" When this is all over, what kind of person do I want to be? We will not pick up our lives and go on as before. A world-wide experience like this creates a "new normal". It changes our outlook on what kind of things are important. As a result of this, how will my priorities change? Will I be more compassionate, more aware of others, more aware of the global world - less self-centered? What is God preparing me for in this "sabbatical" and the "new normal" that will eventually come?
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