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The Satisfaction Trilogy: In - Friday

Posted on Fri, Aug 01, 2014

“A balanced spiritual life leads to a satisfied life” -Jon Weece
 
The Dictionary defines satisfaction like this: to fulfill the desires, expectations, needs, or demands of (a person, the mind, etc.); give full contentment to. As I think about this idea of satisfaction I realize I tend to compartmentalize satisfaction.
 
When I heard the above quote a couple weekends ago it honestly caused me to stop and think. A satisfied life… that’s complex isn’t it? I mean we can feel satisfied in many individual situations but an entirely satisfied life is something else altogether. 
 
I have some friends who met each other while serving together on Saturday nights. These women come together week after week to invest in the lives of kids and while doing so they formed a Life Group. I see pictures of them together at restaurants and events on Facebook all the time. They attend weekend services, Night of Worship events, and concerts together. They do service projects together and lean on each other for prayer. They live out the Triangle. They live with Jesus, in community, on mission. If you met them you would quickly see that elusive “satisfaction” Jon was talking about. 
 
Now don’t get me wrong. Their lives aren’t perfect. They aren’t free from trial and pain. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. They have significant health struggles, job issues, and relational problems just like everyone else. The difference is they have the balanced spiritual lives Jon talked about.
 
Think about this. Acts 4:32-33 says, “All the believers were united in heart and mind. And they felt that what they owned was not their own, so they shared everything they had. The apostles testified powerfully to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and God’s great blessing was upon them all.” It's a beautiful picture isn’t it? United in heart and mind. There’s peace there. There’s satisfaction. 
  • I’d like to encourage you to camp out in Acts 4:32-33 today. All the believers were united in heart and mind. Write it out so you can see it. Repeat it several times. Internalize it. Then ask God what it means for you.
  • Ask God how He would have you live out that verse with your group of friends, “In” your community.

Tobi Florence
Children's Groups Leader - Richmond Road

The Satisfaction Trilogy: In - Thursday

Posted on Thu, Jul 31, 2014

“As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.” -King Solomon
 
Our character is shaped by those with whom we spend time. I’ve been telling my kids this for years. I’ve cautioned them about choosing friends wisely. I’ve warned them they can be found guilty simply by association. By the same principle, we can grow and become better followers because of the community of friends we choose. 
 
My boys are in high school. They attend church regularly and have an extraordinary group of friends. Imagine 16 to 18 year olds who choose to spend their summers serving others, studying God’s Word, talking through their futures and how they will impact the world for Jesus. I have to be honest here, that’s not what I did as a teenager. I didn’t choose my friends well. I mean, I had great friends and all, but loving and serving others wasn’t on the agenda. Loving and serving ourselves on the other hand… well you get my point.
 
Choosing the right friends can be hard sometimes, but when we do, they rub off on us. They sharpen us. I think of it like our accents. Once you live in an area for an extended time you start to talk like the people of that area. It’s not intention. It just happens.
  • King Solomon tells us in Proverbs 27:17, “As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.” Will you lean into that today?
  • Ask God to help you identify the friends, the community He desires for you. Ask Him to help you be a friend who sharpens others.

Tobi Florence
Children's Groups Leader - Richmond Road

The Satisfaction Trilogy: In - Wednesday

Posted on Wed, Jul 30, 2014

“Jesus often calls us to risk. He asks us to be vulnerable, to be authentic, so others can see Him in and through us.” -Mary E. DeMuth
 
Living in community isn’t a one-size-fits-all proposition. Sometimes community develops based on a shared circumstance like in my Haiti story yesterday. Sometimes it develops out of purposed effort. Either way, connecting relationally can be risky.
 
When we were returning from Haiti, my new friend Krista started to inquire about my job in Children’s Ministry. She was quick to tell me she wasn’t very good with kids. I think she was hoping I wouldn’t ask her to join my volunteer team. Her wish did not come true! After spending ten days with this girl, I knew she had a huge heart for people and would be a great leader on our team. Long story short, a year later Krista is an incredible Coach leading a team of 16 volunteers!
 
To Krista’s surprise and delight, leading children isn’t the only thing that happens in Children’s Ministry. She has used her gifts to cultivate authentic community on her team. They pray together every weekend before the kids show up. They connect during the week via group text. They just had a game night, and once a month they meet for breakfast and someone shares their story.
 
As Mary says in the quote above, Jesus often calls us to risk. Thankfully Krista and her team were willing to take that risk on each other. I’m honestly blown away! My simple mind could not have fathomed what God has orchestrated. 
  • Take some time today to meditate on the verses below. What does God want to do in your life as it relates to living “In” community with other believers?

    Acts 2:42-47
    : All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer. A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity—all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved.

Tobi Florence
Children's Groups Leader - Richmond Road

The Satisfaction Trilogy: In - Tuesday

Posted on Tue, Jul 29, 2014

Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: What! You, too? Thought I was the only one. -C.S. Lewis
 
If you’ve never been to a third world country, you can probably relate to many of the concerns and fears I experienced as I prepared for my first mission trip. These issues were heightened by the fact that I wouldn’t be traveling with my close friends. 
 
Haiti was the destination, and I met the team with whom I would travel with a few weeks before we left. The trip was a first for several of us. I found that both scary and comforting! Scary for obvious reasons, but comforting to know someone else might understand what I was going through. 
 
Today I can say Haiti truly changed my life. I faced fear and sadness with virtual strangers. I felt lonely and irritated when some of us didn’t see eye to eye. Together we experienced joy to the point of tears. We walked through the unknown leaning on and trusting in new and fragile friendships.
 
Ultimately I was connected to people who are now some of my closest friends. 
 
C.S. Lewis nails it in the quote above doesn’t he? We are instantly connected with those who understand our experiences. We have a common bond that acts as a bridge connecting our hearts.
 
New friendships weren’t my goal, but they formed naturally. Living in community with new friends wasn’t on my radar, but God used Haiti to introduce me to some very special people. Together we have loved Haitians and each other in life changing community. 
 
1 John 4:12 says, “No one has seen God, ever. But if we love one another, God dwells deeply within us, and his love becomes complete in us - perfect love!” 
 
What a beautiful reality. God’s perfect love becomes complete in us when we love one another. Meditate on that today. Bask in the truth that God dwells deeply within in us if we love one another. 

Tobi Florence
Children's Groups Leader - Richmond Road

The Satisfaction Trilogy: In - Monday

Posted on Mon, Jul 28, 2014

“As part of humanity, each of us is called to develop and share the unique gifts we are given.” -Mollie Marti
 
So Jesus was a smart guy, right? On the surface it seems like He would choose highly intelligent, rule following kinds of people to be His disciples. You know, the kind of people who made good decisions and were well liked. On the contrary—He chose men who were ordinary at best.
 
Throughout the Gospels we see these men struggle, fail, and experience doubt. In reality they were a lot like you and me. For example, within a matter of seconds Peter went from having enough faith in Jesus he walked on water to nearly drowning in a ferocious sea of doubt. And what about the time in John 18 when he cut off that guy’s ear trying to “defend” Jesus only to deny even knowing Him a few hours later. Brilliant right?
 
So why did Jesus bring this group of men together in community? As I see it, He brought them together because collectively they were the perfect combination, faults and all, to deliver the Gospel message to the world. While each Disciple was full of imperfections, they were also uniquely gifted. God doesn’t make mistakes. Our strengths and weaknesses are all made perfect in Christ.
 
The Disciples followed Jesus. Each experience strengthened them. Each success and each failure contributed to their collective growth and spiritual maturity. 
 
I love 1 Corinthians 12:4-6, expecially in the Message translation. It says, “God’s various gifts are handed out everywhere; but they all originate in God’s Spirit. God’s various ministries are carried out everywhere; but they all originate in God’s Spirit. God’s various expressions of power are in action everywhere; but God himself is behind it all. Each person is given something to do that shows who God is: Everyone gets in on it, everyone benefits. All kinds of things are handed out by the Spirit, and to all kinds of people!”
 
Be encouraged. The God of the universe personally chose how He would uniquely gift you! He loves you. He is for you and wants to use you in the lives of others. 
  • Are you intentionally living your life “In” community with other believers?
    • If so, are you actively developing and sharing your God given gifts and talents?
    • If not, will you ask God to help you take a step toward joining a Life Group or volunteer team where you can begin to live out God’s purpose for your life. 

Tobi Florence
Children's Groups Leader - Richmond Road

The Satisfaction Trilogy: WIth - Friday

Posted on Fri, Jul 25, 2014

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
 
When it comes to talking about living a life “with Jesus,” there are few examples as powerful as the Apostle Paul. Early in his life, Paul (formerly known as Saul) was the primary opponent of the church -- doing anything and everything in his power to put an end to the spread of the Gospel. Then, while on this way to arrest and kill Christians, Paul met Jesus and everything about his life changed. Seemingly overnight, Jesus transformed Paul from the church’s number one enemy to the church’s number one missionary.   
 
The rest of Paul’s life was spent in a passionate, intimate pursuit of the Jesus who met him on the Damascus Road. For Paul, nothing in life mattered more than being with Christ. Listen to some of this words:
 
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)
 
For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. (Philippians 1:21)
 
However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace. (Acts 20:24)
 
Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ. (1 Corinthians 1:21)
 
Someone once wrote of Paul, “His whole life was a passionate, longing after Christ.” What a way to be described! Is there anything you’d rather hear someone say about you than, “His whole life is a passionate longing after Christ” or “Her whole life is a passionate longing after Christ”?
 
In this world it is so easy to long for other things, lesser things, non-Jesus things. But if we want real satisfaction, it will only come from one source -- Jesus. Let’s make our whole life a passionate longing after Christ. When we find Christ, then and then alone will we be satisfied. Count Zinzendorf, an 18th century Moravian bishop famously remarked, “I have one passion: It is Jesus! Jesus only!” Let’s join Zinzendorf and Paul in making Jesus our only passion. As we do, satisfaction is sure to come. 
  • On a scale from 1-100, at what number would I place my current passion for Jesus?
  • Tangibly speaking, how might I increase my passion for Christ and raise that number?
  • By now you have surely memorized John 7:37-38. Say it aloud!

Dan Hamel
Teaching Pastor

The Satisfaction Trilogy: WIth - Thursday

Posted on Thu, Jul 24, 2014

When the leaders saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.
 
Most of us have heard the old adage “In time, you’ll become like the people you spend most of your time time with.” If all of your friends watch a certain television show, chances are that before long, you will, too. If all of your friends frequent a certain restaurant, chances are that before long, you will, too. If all of your friends spend their leisure time at the pool, chances are that before long, you will, too. You get the point. Those we spend the most time around inevitably shape our character and impact the type of people we become. 
 
Of course, this is also true with Jesus. As we spend time with Jesus, our lives naturally begin to look more like His. As we spend time with someone who loves his enemies, we learn to love our enemies, too. As we spend time with someone who had a radical faith, we learn to have a radical faith, too. As we spend time with someone who took up his Cross and laid down his life, we learn to take up our cross and lay down our lives, too. As we spend time with Jesus, we naturally become more like Jesus. This, after all, is what discipleship is all about—coming to look, like and love more like Christ. 
 
This is the very thing that took place in the lives of Jesus’ closest followers. After Jesus rose from the dead, people were able to tell that they had spent time with Jesus because their time with Jesus had actually resulted in a change in their life. They were transformed from arrogant, weak, fearful fishermen into humble, powerful, courageous preachers and missionaries. One day, after standing before some of the most powerful men in the nation of Israel, this is what we are told in Acts 4:13, “When the leaders saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.”
 
What a wonderful description of the disciples! These are just ordinary guys. Not particularly smart. Not particularly special. Not particularly talented. But there is one thing that set them apart—they have been with Jesus. When you spend time with Jesus, you begin to look like Him. You can’t follow Jesus and stay the same!
  • Over the last three years, how have you tangibly come to look more like Jesus?
  • Identify an area or two in your life that is not yet just like Jesus. What would a Christ-like change in those areas look like?
  • Memorize John 7:37-38: Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them. 

Dan Hamel
Teaching Pastor

The Satisfaction Trilogy: WIth - Wednesday

Posted on Wed, Jul 23, 2014

I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.
 
The twelve disciples had a great responsibility! Not only did Jesus entrust them with carrying his message throughout the world, he also told them to perform miracles, heal the sick, cast out demons, and announce the rule of God on earth -- no small task. The disciples were given incredible leadership, but the first and most important mission they were entrusted with was to be with Jesus. 
 
Take a look at how Mark describes Jesus’ selection of the disciples: 
Jesus went up on a mountainside and called to him those he wanted, and they came to him. He appointed twelve that they might be with him and that he might send them out… (Mark 3:13-14)
 
Jesus had a task for the disciples. Jesus’ movement would not advance without the disciples. Jesus’ kingdom would not continue without the disciples. But before the disciples would ever be able to accomplish their work for Jesus, their first and most important responsibility was to spend time with Jesus!
 
When Jesus invites us to join his kingdom and become His followers, He has work He desires to accomplish through us. Ephesians 2:10 says, “We are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Jesus has great plans He desires to accomplish through you. But first things first! Before focusing on what Jesus might be calling you to do, the focus must always be on Jesus Himself. 
 
In a task-oriented world that is all about production and performance, it is so easy to get caught up in a way of life, a way of viewing yourself. Even a way of evaluating God’s love for you which is based upon what you are doing and the work you are accomplishing. But remember, the first task of a disciple is simply to be with Jesus—not to do something for Jesus, but simply to be with Jesus. 
 
God has great plans for you. God wants to do great things through you. But unlike the way this world works, God values you more than he values your work. And the truth is, the more time we spend with Him (not worrying about the work you are trying to do for Him, just enjoying Him), the greater work he’ll be able  to accomplish through your life. 
  • Do I think God is more interested in my work than he is in me? If so, why?
  • Think about a five or 10 minute window in your day when you can steal away just to spend time in God’s presence. 
  • Memorize John 7:37-38: Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them. 

Dan Hamel
Teaching Pastor

The Satisfaction Trilogy: WIth - Tuesday

Posted on Tue, Jul 22, 2014

Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self?” 
 
Throughout the Gospels, when people wanted to follow Jesus, they were often required to leave things behind. In order to follow Jesus, people had to make a sacrifice. Take a look:
 
Peter and Andrew: 
As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew... “Come, follow me,” Jesus said. At once they left their nets and followed him. (Matthew 4:18-19)
 
James and John:
Jesus saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John….Jesus called them, and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him. (Matthew 4:21-22)
 
Levi (Matthew):
Jesus went out and saw a tax collector by the name of Levi sitting at his tax booth. “Follow me,” Jesus said to him, and Levi got up, left everything and followed him. (Luke 5:27-28)
 
The Rich Young Ruler:
Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth. (Mark 10:21-22)
 
In each of these examples, there was one, consistent prerequisite laid out in regard to following Jesus: Leave behind anything and everything that will hinder your journey to the Cross. If it’s your career (or career aspirations), leave it behind. If it’s your family (or family expectations), leave them behind. If it’s your wealth (or earning potential), leave it behind. Jesus is indiscriminate in His counsel: If you want to follow me, you have to make a sacrifice. Nothing and no one can come before Me.
  • What sacrifices have I made in the past in order to follow Jesus?
  • What sacrifices might I need to make today in order to grow as a follower of Jesus?
  • Memorize John 7:37-38: Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them. 

Dan Hamel
Teaching Pastor

The Satisfaction Trilogy: WIth - Monday

Posted on Mon, Jul 21, 2014

I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
 
Life with Jesus is the best possible life. Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10) Or, as it is translated in The Message version of the Bible, “I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of.”
 
Most of the regrets and heartache in my life have come when I’ve tried to find “the best life” from somewhere, something, or someone other than Jesus. When I was young I tried to find “the best life” through achieving athletically. In college I tried to find “the best life” through achieving academically. After graduation I tried to find “the best life” through achieving professionally and relationally. Every time I’ve tried to find “the best life” apart from Jesus it has led to frustration and disappointment. God is teaching me that the reason “the best life” can’t be found apart from Jesus is because Jesus Himself is “the best life.” 
 
Trying to find “the best life,” outside of Jesus, is like trying to quench your thirst by drinking salt water. Other avenues may promise to satisfy, but in the end, Jesus alone is a life-giving stream. As Jesus says in John 7:37-38, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” 
 
C.S Lewis once remarked: “Idols always break the hearts of their worshippers.” Instead of searching for satisfaction from what the world has to offer, or from accomplishments, approval, or acceptance, let’s search for satisfaction from the one place—the one Person—who is guaranteed to give us what we long for most. Let’s look to Jesus!
  • Think about ways you have tried to find “the best life” apart from Jesus. What has come from those attempts?
  • What are ways you may currently be trying to find “the best life” apart from Jesus?
  • Memorize John 7:37-38 this week: Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them. 

Dan Hamel
Teaching Pastor

Great 8: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego - Friday

Posted on Fri, Jul 18, 2014

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 
 
The people I admire most in this world all have one thing in common. Their lives aren’t about them. They walk in humble confidence, knowing Jesus is everything. And it’s Jesus whom they desire more than anything, or anyone, else. Each of them, in their own way, have come into a profound understanding of how very loved they are by our Father in heaven. And as a result, they live recklessly abandoned to His desires. 
 
While Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego may not have known Jesus as we know Him, I’m convinced that they lived their lives like the friends I’ve described above. We look back at their story and we surely learn from them. But we don’t do this because they were so amazing. We do this because they chose to live lives of faith, surrendered to our amazing God.
 
I don’t know exactly what you’re called to do in His Kingdom. But I do know who you’re called to be. The Bible speaks clearly to that matter through many, many verses, including the one above you just read (1 Peter 2:9).
 
You’re not called to be Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach or Abednego. But you are called to take up your spiritual armor, and begin to follow in the meek and compassionate footsteps of Jesus, the greatest and most powerful King that will ever reign. 
 
Our heavenly Father didn’t fail Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. And He won’t fail you. If we seek Him, we won’t always understand His ways. They are far higher than ours. But we will come to more deeply understand His love. And it’s His love that will, ultimately, give us the courage to be all we were created to be.
  • Is there a step of faith you’re feeling called to take these days? If so, commit to seeking God’s direction on the matter. Talk with Him about it, read His word, and seek godly counsel. No need to feel overwhelmed or alone. He’ll be making the journey with you.
  • Do you feel greatly hindered by fear when you consider stepping out in faith? Don’t let the enemy keep you in that place. If you’d like to talk with someone about your struggles or if  you’d be interested in learning about some helpful resources, contact Will

Katie Bodager
Life Groups Administrative Assistant

Great 8: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego - Thursday

Posted on Thu, Jul 17, 2014

He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”
 
The word courage has the potential to draw up so many pictures, doesn’t it?
 
A few days ago, my husband asked me to watch a YouTube clip that was an advertisement for the GoPro camera. It was crazy. Not just a little bit. Absolutely mind-blowingly insane.
 
The video featured a girl climbing an incredibly tall, and way too narrow, rock formation over a gigantic canyon. As the video unfolded, she climbed higher and higher until she reached the very top of the rock. At that point, when I was pretty sure she couldn’t get any crazier, she took a flying leap off the rock (with the help of a parachute) and sailed hundreds of feet into the canyon below. 
 
Afterward, there was a brief interview with this daring young woman. You know what she said? She said she never again wanted to live a life without risk. She didn’t want to waste her life doing mundane things. She wanted to live a life of adventure and of purpose.
 
As followers of Jesus, we may or may not choose to climb an enormous rock and leap off into the unknown below. But this is for certain: God wants us to live in such a way that people would look at our lives and be challenged by the level of risk involved in our choices.
 
It’s not about our reputation, it’s about His glory. And it’s not about living recklessly. It’s about living lives of faith that overflow from His love and His purpose.
 
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were undoubtedly men of great courage and great faith.  They believed in their God and they believed the promises He made to them. They knew the stories of their people, and they had encountered Him in their own lives. 
 
Even so, they could have understandably chosen the seemingly “safer” route. They simply chose to put their faith in God instead. They could have chosen to allow the difficulty of their immediate situation to define their God. But they chose to allow Him to define their experiences. They invited Him into their circumstances, and they trusted not in the outcome, but in Him to carry them through.
 
Have you ever found yourself in such a hard place that it was difficult for you to truly see the goodness of your Father, much less take one more step of faith? I sure have.
 
When we find ourselves in the “flames,” we’re faced with two options. We can choose to walk by faith, trusting in the One who loves us more than we can comprehend. Or, we can choose to allow the enemy distract us from our Father, and in turn, from our Kingdom purpose. 
  • Are you struggling to find faith? Don’t allow the enemy to lead you to feel ashamed. Just tell our Father about your need. Ask Him to help you believe. 
  • If you’d like to hear what Jesus had to say about faith, and the way God can use just a bit of it, take a moment to read Matthew 17:20.

Katie Bodager
Life Groups Administrative Assistant

Great 8: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego - Wednesday

Posted on Wed, Jul 16, 2014

During the night the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a vision. Then Daniel praised the God of heaven…”
 
I think it’s safe to say that most of us, at some time or another in life, have found ourselves in a situation so overwhelmingly complicated that we simply couldn’t begin to figure it out.  
 
It may have been a relational or financial situation for you. It could have been a family struggle or a long-term battle with a habitual sin. It might have been a job decision or a parenting issue. And it may be that you’re experiencing something like this right now. 
 
When we face situations like these, we often find ourselves confronted with one of the most painful of human emotions: the feeling of complete helplessness.
 
In chapter 2 of the book of Daniel, we read about a time when Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego must have been tempted to feel this way. 
 
King Nebuchadnezzar’s “mind was troubled,” and he could not sleep. He had experienced a dream so troubling that he felt desperate to understand it’s meaning. He summoned lots of “spiritual” and wise people to interpret them, but no one was successful. So, in his frustration and anger, he ordered all the wise men be put to death. 
 
This included Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. Upon hearing the news, Daniel was greatly disturbed, and he asked the king’s officer “for time so that he might interpret the dream for him.” 
 
But it was the next part of the passage that stood out to me most: “Then Daniel returned to his house and explained the matter to Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah (Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego). He urged them to plead for mercy from the God of heaven concerning this mystery, so that he and his friends might not be executed with the rest of the wise men of Babylon. During the night the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a vision. Then Daniel praised the God of heaven…”
 
Will you note three things from this passage with me? 
 
First, in this incredibly complicated and literally life-threatening situation, Daniel’s “go-to” move was undeniably clear. He sought those closest to him, and he asked them to pray. Secondly, Daniel believed the prayers of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego mattered. There’s no doubt that he believed their prayers could alter the outcome of the situation. And thirdly, he praised God for answering their cries for help. Without God’s revelation, they would have been both helpless and hopeless.
  • Is there a situation in your life right now that has left you feeling unsure of how to proceed? Whether it’s seemingly big or small, take it to your Father. He wants to lead you!

Katie Bodager
Life Groups Administrative Assistant

Great 8: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego - Tuesday

Posted on Tue, Jul 15, 2014

“For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.” 
 
When you hear the term discipline, what’s your initial response? What feelings or thoughts come to mind?
 
If you see yourself as a super disciplined individual, the word might give you a measure of satisfaction. Discipline may seem to come almost naturally to you. Or, as is true for most people who have matured in this area, it may be something you’ve worked hard in life to establish.
 
On the other hand, discipline may still be a real challenge for you. You may have struggled with feelings of guilt with regard to your lack of discipline, and in response, you’ve just tried to avoid thinking about altogether. I’ve been there, too!
 
Well, when we look at the lives of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, we simply can’t avoid noting this area of their lives. Behaviorally speaking, these were three incredibly disciplined men. My guess is that even if their story never got further than their food choices (described in Daniel 1), that fact would be pretty evident. But there’s so much more to their story, isn’t there? These men lived remarkably focused and intentional lives.
 
And while I’m deeply challenged by these choices, let me tell you what challenges and inspires me most about these men. As disciplined as they were, I feel sure it was not discipline their hearts desired most. It was God. He was their reason for living, and as a result, they honored Him above all else. 
 
In our world full of ambition, fad diets, addictions, and insane workout plans, it’s easy to become focused on simply training our physical beings - and ignoring the deeper things. But Scripture challenges us to something more. 1 Timothy 4:8 says this, “For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.” 
 
Discipline won’t get us to heaven. Jesus died to make that possible. He paid the price in full. It’s a gift to receive, it’s not a reward to earn.
 
But discipline can provide us with consistent and rich opportunities to know God more. And as a follower of Jesus, there is no greater goal. 
  • Is there an area in your life in which you’re attempting to just manage your sin, rather than seeking wholeness in Him and for Him? If that’s the case, please know He wants so much more for you. Don’t hesitate to ask Him to help you claim the freedom for which He died.
  • Do you desire to grow in discipline? Check out our newest video series that can help you do just that. 

Katie Bodager
Life Groups Administrative Assistant

Great 8: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego - Monday

Posted on Mon, Jul 14, 2014

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
 
A couple of nights ago, my hubby came in from manning the grill. He’d been at it for a while, and he had a forearm of singed hair to prove it. Thankfully, that was the extent of his loss, and we moved right on from the incident to enjoy the fruit of his labor (aka tasty burgers). Because we all know when we get too close to the “fire,” we’re gonna burned, right?  
 
Well… most of the time. But you see, there are times when, for reasons only He can understand, God seems to temporarily override the laws of science and nature. The natural link between cause and effect seems to momentarily be broken, and the seemingly impossible becomes the reality. We describe these events as supernatural, and when we are confronted with them, we can’t help but be reminded of this challenging truth: Nothing is impossible for God (Matthew 19:26). 
 
Let me introduce you to three men who are witnesses to this truth. At birth, their names were Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. But they’re better known by the names they were given later in life: Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. I’ll sum up their story, just in case it’s new to you.
 
These three men, and their good friend Daniel, were exiled Jews who’d been appointed as servants to the Babylonian king. The king was impressed with their qualities, and they initially found favor with him. But when the king built a huge gold statue to honor himself and ordered everyone in the kingdom to bow down to it, these three men—who were devoted to God alone—refused to do so. In response, the king ordered they be thrown into a massive, blazing furnace. 
 
End of story? Nope, not a chance. When the men were thrown into the fire, they didn’t burn. The guards tried everything, but their efforts repeatedly failed. The flames couldn’t touch these men. 
 
It seems impossible, doesn’t it? Well, it would be, except that someone else was in the fire with them—guarding them, protecting them, and rescuing them. And as a result, these three men walked out of that furnace without even smelling a smidge like smoke.
 
I think it’s tempting for us to mentally log these events in a special category with all the other miraculous works of the Bible, and write them off as irrelevant to our lives today. But let’s not do that. He is still a God of miracles. He still moves in supernatural ways. And when all seems lost, He still rescues those who call out to Him. Though we may struggle to get our minds around this truth, let’s make the choice to believe it today.
  • Sometimes God lifts us out of the “flames,” and sometimes he walks through the fire with us. If He’s done either for you, take a moment to give Him thanks and praise today.
  • If you’re in a situation that seems beyond rescue, know that He's still more than able to save you. Spend some time pouring your heart out to Him today. And if you have a few extra minutes, check out this verse, too.

Katie Bodager
Life Groups Administrative Assistant


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