November 14 – Prayer for my Kids – Salvation

Read Mark 10:13-16

A sign in a local middle school says:

“Every mistake you make is progress.”

That could very easily be about being a parent.

Another sign in the school says:

“Mistakes are proof that you are trying.”

This could also be about being a parent.

Still another sign in the school says:

“It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.”

That is parenting!

As a parent, I am always asking myself about time management – what is most important? What are my priorities? What is more important: being busy with positive activities or God? How do I keep life in balance?

Here is the view of the founder of Focus on The Family:

“What is the biggest obstacle facing the family right now? It is over-commitment; time pressure. There is nothing that will destroy family life more insidiously than hectic schedules and busy lives, where spouses are too exhausted to communicate, too worn out to have sex, too fatigued to talk to the kids. That frantic lifestyle is just as destructive as one involving outbroken sin. If Satan can’t make you sin, he’ll make you busy, and that’s just about the same thing.”

James Dobson

Over-commitment can be a problem if we do not have time to talk about spiritual things with our kids and take them to church. Can the family share a meal together three or four times a week and pray together and communicate?

“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.” 1 Timothy 4:8

That verse helps.

In this parable in Mark 10, parents were bringing their children to Jesus to have Him touch them, but the disciples scolded them for bothering Jesus. (verse 13)

Jesus was angry and tried to resolve a problem. Jesus became angry about subjects that He cared deeply about. Here is a comforting verse:

“Train a child in the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.”

Proverbs 22:6

Jesus was composed as He talked passionately about salvation. In the red letters, Jesus said:

“Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” (verse 15)

Christ’s approach and intentions are a good gauge for how we, as parents, choose to balance our time, work and play.

Just because a parent is a Christian does not mean their kids will be Christians. What we as parents do, and how we do it, and what we say can be a big factor. Strive for a balanced life! As we pray for our children’s salvation and their future every day, remember to trust in God.

Jesus cared about salvation for everyone, including our kids.

Is your life in balance?

Tom Weckesser

November 11 – Miracles of Jesus – Bartimaeus

Read Mark 10:46-52

Dear Jesus,

I’ve been reading about some of the miracles you did while you were on earth so many years ago. I’m particularly intrigued by the story of You and Bartimaeus, the blind beggar from Jericho. 

The gospel book Mark wrote seems to focus a lot on Your humanity and the way You are both Jesus the man and Jesus the God we worship. I even read somewhere that the way Mark wrote seems to highlight the way You “redefined glory and greatness as humble and sacrificial service” (Introduction to Mark, The Abide Bible, Thomas Nelson Publishers). So, I can’t help but wonder if the fact that You, surrounded by that crowd of people, not only noticed but stopped and took the time to ask this lowly beggar sitting alongside the street where You walked? Did You choose this man specifically to help us know how much You value humility? 

I love it so much, Jesus, because the people who were walking with You were trying to get him to shut up. But You heard his cry and You stopped in Your tracks, called him over and asked him what he wanted. Did You already know? I can’t help but wonder.

Why did You ask him?

And, Jesus, how did his faith make him well? I’ve noticed that this is not the only time You said that, “Your faith has healed you.” So, I am curious . . . did You use his faith along with Your power to heal him? How come sometimes You used people’s faith and other times, You chose to just heal people or perform a miracle?

Finally, Lord Jesus, I am dying to know how long Bartimaeus stayed with You. Mark wrote that, as soon as he could see, he started following You on the road. It makes me think of when You gave me this new life, this freedom from shame and guilt. You worked a miracle in my life when You forgave my sins and made me truly alive, and I started following You. Jesus, I hope I get to meet Bartimaeus someday in Heaven.

Well, thanks for taking the time to oblige my curiosity. But even more, thank You for showing me how much You loved a poor and lowly beggar who had nothing to offer but a cry for mercy. You loved him enough to start a friendship with him even before You healed him. It gives me hope to know that I, being so much like that poor and needy man, was noticed and wholly loved by You, the God of the whole universe. I pray that those reading this note will show such compassion to those around us as you did to Bartimaeus.

With love and so much gratitude,

Your Daughter,

Bria Wasson

November 6 – Miracles of Jesus – Touching Jesus’ Garment

Read Mark 5:24-34 and Hebrews 4:15-16

Gym class made me sweat. Not because I was overly exerting myself. It had more to do with the rising emotions of standing in a clump of kids, waiting to be picked for a dodgeball team.

How do you feel about being a “last resort”?

When all other options are exhausted and someone finally looks your way, how do you feel?

The woman we read about today had tried everything before she tried Jesus. She spent everything she had trying to get well.

Her bleeding forced her to the outskirts of Jewish life. She was unclean. All the time.

She had to be weak.

Discouraged.

All kinds of tired.

And she hears about Jesus. Some guy who hangs out with the riffraff in town, makes religious leaders crazy, and throws in some sermons and miracles along the way.

“Could this be my moment? Could this Jesus provide a miracle for me?”

So, she makes her way through a sea of sinners who want a piece of Jesus. He’s been ministering – pouring Himself out all day – and feels power leaving His body.

“Who touched me?”

He asked His disciples. They didn’t have a clue.

In this mayhem, how could anyone know?

Then the woman, seeing that she could not go unnoticed, came trembling and fell at His feet. In the presence of all the people, she told why she had touched Him and how she had been instantly healed (Luke 8:47).

For twelve long years this woman was sick and forgotten. In one instant of faith, she was well. And because Jesus is a master at asking questions, she got to give Him all of the credit and praise in front of all of her on-lookers.

Jesus was her last resort. Her one last ditch effort to find healing.

He didn’t seem to mind.

Then He said to her:

“Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.”

There’s disappointment and pain, but no shame, in trying everything but Jesus.

It’s our nature.

And when we come to Him, we don’t get a lecture. We don’t get what we deserve.

When we approach Jesus with confidence rooted in faith, we find there’s more than enough mercy and a whole lot of lavish grace waiting for us.

How long have you been ‘bleeding?’

I’m not talking about the physical kind.

How is your soul?

Are you ashamed that Jesus has been on the back burner of your life? The last thought of the day as you hit your pillow?

Jesus is longing for you to approach Him. He understands you. He can’t help but notice you. He wants to help you in your time of need.

Isn’t it time you let Him?

Shelly Eberly

November 4 – Miracles of Jesus – Feeding of the 5K

Read Matthew 14:13-20, Mark 6:30-44, Luke 9:10-17 and John 6:1-15

The account of the feeding of the 5,000 is recorded in all 4 Gospels and is the only miracle of Jesus to be so recorded. The account is relatively short and objective and each version of the events sets the stage by telling how tired and exhausted the disciples and Jesus were. They were seeking a retreat from the crowds. However, they were followed by people wanting to hear more from Jesus. As the day is coming to an end, the disciples encourage Jesus to send the crowds away to find food for themselves. Jesus does the unexpected and tells them to feed the crowd.

Feed the crowd? With what? We’ve been with you all afternoon with no time to cater a meal to this huge crowd. Plus, we don’t have enough money to buy food from the villagers. You know this isn’t exactly a business area where food can be easily purchased.

Can you hear the excuses? Can you hear the desperation going on behind the scenes? This task was a daunting, if not an impossible, one.

Can’t we just let these people find their own food and we can go and find a place to rest?

How do you respond when you are given a seemingly impossible task? Do you let the circumstances overwhelm you? I know I do. I tend to focus on my abilities and my time just like the disciples did.

One of the disciples was able to round up a bit of food. Did he maybe laugh when he handed it over to Jesus, saying something like: “Here, this was the best I could do on such short notice. See, I told you so, there isn’t much food to give to these people.”

Jesus took the food (perhaps with a sly grin) and prayed to ask God’s blessing on the food. Then He began distributing it to the people. The disciples lined up and each took a basket of food to share with a group in the crowd and repeated this process until all were fed. When they were all finished eating, the disciples were able to collect 12 FULL baskets of leftovers!

It was a miracle! 

The disciples’ focus was on the here and now and the overwhelming task at hand. Jesus was concerned with the process . . .how to conquer that overwhelming task. Jesus demonstrated how to trust God with the daunting task we may face – yes, even the seemingly impossible task!

Trust God. Ask Him to intervene and then do your best. God would not ask you to do something that you can’t handle. God can use that tough task to get your attention back on Him. He will not abandon you in your time of need. He will more than supply your needs just like in the miracle of feeding 5,000 (Philippians 4:19). 

Are you facing an overwhelming task? Are you exhausted from keeping up with the day-to-day tasks of life and just can’t handle one more thing? Stop focusing on the task(s). Look to Jesus and ask for His help. Pray for a perspective change. Ask God to use you to do impossible things!

Tammy Finney

November 1 – Miracles of Jesus – Calming the Storm

Read Mark 4:35-41

Here you are again. Another sudden storm – another impossible problem.

How are you going to pay the bills this month?

How are your kids going to thrive in school?

How are you going to make it through your loved one’s diagnosis? What’s next?

You are so busy you don’t even have time to talk to your spouse. You have to use texting.

Have you considered reminding yourself of what Jesus has done with you before?

What storms of life are you dealing with?

Did you think to pray?

Sometime in the sixties (AD 60), Jesus told the wind to “pipe down” while on a boat with His twelve disciples in the Sea of Galilee. He had been asleep in the back of the boat (the stern) and He used a bag of sand as His pillow. A sudden violent and furious storm arrived – cool air from the Mediterranean Sea came down from the mountains and collided with the hot humid air that was over the lake.

It created a mega storm.

The red letters are the simple but powerful words of Jesus Christ, the Son of God:

“Quiet. Be still.”

The storm quieted down. He calmed the storm, which was the impossible problem. And He can do that for us, as well, if we cast all our cares on Him and lay our burdens down at His feet.

Then pray, wait, and listen.

“Who is this?”

The disciples were asking each other questions, trying to figure out how a man could get the wind and waves to obey Him. They found out. And the readers of the parable know already that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God. That is the only answer to the question. Mark witnessed this event as he was one of the guys in the boat.

In the storms of life, do not forget that God is with you! (See Romans 8:31b).

“Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”Hebrews 13:5b

“The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me? The Lord is with me.”

(from Psalm 118:6-7a) and Dance, the song by Jesus Culture.

“He is with you.” (The Blessing, by Elevation Worship).

“Earth has no sorrow

that heaven can’t heal.”

Come As You Are, from the song by Crowder.

Can you conquer your fears and trust Him even in the middle of the storms of life?

Tom Weckesser

October 23 – I Will Remember: Resting in God’s Power

The following is a YouVersion plan written by the Billy Graham Center. To participate with this plan on YouVersion, download the app, create an account and click on the link here to participate:

I Will Remember – YouVersion Plan

Don’t forget to share your comments and takeaways every day!

Read Mark 4:35-41, Mark 5:22-43

In times of trial, one of the most treasured passages in scripture is of Jesus calming the storm while out to sea with the disciples. Falling asleep, Jesus is awoken by disciples who are not only fearful of the storm, but disturbed by Jesus’ apparent lack of care for them. Into this chaos Jesus rebukes the wind and waves, causing them to immediately cease. 

This passage is the first of three stories in Mark that underscore Jesus’ power. Here, Jesus reveals his dominion over his creation, calming the storm. In Mark 5:1-21, Jesus casts a demon out of a man, revealing his dominion over the spiritual forces at work in the world. 

Finally, in Mark 5:22-43, Jesus heals a woman and servant of a chronic illness and death, respectively, revealing his dominion over even disease and death. 

In all, Mark reminds us that during seasons of trial and opposition, there is nothing that is beyond the power of Jesus. 

This is a hard lesson to remember when we are in the midst of storms, facing opposition, or dealing with illness or possible death. Yet how we react in the storm speaks to how well we understand who Jesus is and how he cares for us. 

Jesus rebukes the disciples because they don’t grasp these two points. They don’t know who he is as the creator and ruler of the universe, fearing the storm is greater than he is. They also don’t trust that he cares for them, going so far as to ask, “Do you not care that we are perishing?” 

As we try to navigate difficult seasons, we must continually refresh our faith in the answers to these two questions. Jesus is the lord of the universe, the second member of the trinity, to whom all dominion and power has been given. He is also our savior who endures with and has given to us his Spirit.  

Questions for Reflection

How are you responding to God as you are walking through this difficult time? Do you see him as asleep? Unaware, unable, and uncaring of your situation? 

Recognize that those who don’t know Jesus are like the disciples in the boat: fearful and uncertain. How can you share how Jesus has provided calmness in your life in the midst of the storm?

October 3 – Living Courageously – Live for Jesus

Read Mark 12:28-31

A man had a strained relationship with his neighbor. Whenever they would see each other they would shout at each other over trivial matters. The man was bothered by it. So, he decided to be patient with his neighbor by not raising his voice at him. It was difficult and actually practiced it at home in front of the mirror! He took deep breaths when the neighbor would raise his voice at him. The man was determined to have self-control, so he would respond in a very low and respectful tone, despite his racing heart.

The man then decided to look for ways to be kind to his neighbor. When the neighbor had to have his driveway repaved, the man offered to let the neighbor park in his driveway. He did! Then the man sent his neighbor a Christmas card with a scripture verse in it (Luke 2:11) as well as a lyric from a Christmas carol “let every heart, prepare him room” from the song Joy to the World.

Did the relationship improve? Maybe. Hopefully.

But the man was trying to live for Jesus and it is something you and I can do on a daily basis.

Being consistent in prayer is something that can help one live for Jesus.

We can serve others and can start by serving the ones we are closest to, such as our spouse and family. Serve by listening to them. Serve your spouse by intentionally putting their interests above your own.

We love others by being humble. Keep your mouth closed when you’re hurt so that your spouse is not wounded by your attack of words.

Check your ego.

We love God by studying the Bible daily. Which book in the Bible do you know the least about? Why don’t you and a friend start to read it and talk about what you read?

How we talk and how we live are keys to the Jesus that people see in us.

Love God by sharing His word. Share your story of what He has done in your life.

Prevent temptation. Jesus was tempted. (See Matt 4:1-11) While temptation is not a sin, we can resist and prevent it by what we think about, what we read about, what we watch, who we spend time with, the music that we listen to and where we go.

Be consistent in attending church. Go with neighbors, go with people you love or go by yourself. Just be there!

Put God first (See Exodus 20:3). He wants to be your number one priority.

Love God by living for him. Your audience is one: Jesus.

Love people as you would want them to love you.

Love others by developing loving relationships with both believers and nonbelievers.

Love God by remembering that you are free from your past. (See John 8:36).

How do you love God and how do you love others? I challenge you to grow in these areas starting today!

Tom Weckesser

September 4 – Missions Spotlight – Ely and Nikki Ducatel

Read Mark 1:10-11

Ministry: We serve multiple campuses within the East Ohio area. We provide spiritual support, missional training, and developmental programs to students, staff, and faculty that are advancing the kingdom of God on their campuses.

Missionaries: Ely & Nikki Ducatel

“Jesus was seen before sent out.”

In today’s reading, John the Baptist fulfilled prophecy by preparing the way for Jesus to go on mission with God to create disciples and to proclaim the Kingdom of God. Before all of this takes place, God affirms Jesus through the Spirit, Sonship, and Love. In this devotion, we’ll explore what it is like to be seen before sent on a mission with God.

“Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, He saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: ‘You are my Son, whom I love; with You, I am well pleased.’” Mark 1:10-11

Here are 4 God affirmations in this text:

1.“The Spirit descending like a dove.” The Spirit descended on Jesus as a sign that He was the chosen one and that ministry would only be done through the Spirit of God.

2.“You are my Son.” God established His relationship with Jesus before He was sent out. Jesus knew who He was beforehand.

3.“Whom I love.” God told Jesus, ” I love you!” Jesus knew that He was loved.

4.“I am well pleased.” Jesus had not yet started His ministry but the Father was already pleased with Him.

Although college students are sent to college, they may not feel seen. We want college students who come across InterVarsity on campuses in East Ohio to know that God sees them! When students hear that, they are surprised because they don’t think God has time for them. We follow that up by saying that, not only does God see them, but, more importantly, He loves them! God loved them before they were even born (Psalms 139). Lastly, God can only be pleased with them through Jesus. It is true of you too. God is pleased with you when you accept Jesus’s life, death, and resurrection. I believe these God affirmations are game-changers for college students. This creates a safe space and a soft heart for college students to hear the Gospel message.

We have the privilege of creating spaces for many college students to hear the Good News of Jesus Christ!

Please pray that God would prepare the hearts of thousands of college students, staff, and faculty to return to college campuses all over East Ohio. May they know this year that God sees, loves and desires deeper intimacy with them.

Ely & Nikki Ducatel

July 10 – Leadership – Service

Read Mark 10:35-45

Since making the decision to go into full time ministry and getting the opportunity to do so at Grace Church in Wooster, I have been in a season of observing and learning. Coming into an internship in the summer of 2015, I knew little of what it took to actually be a pastor. Sure, I knew in a general sense from my dad being a pastor the majority of my life but, then stepping into the mix, I needed some guidance.

There were two people who really helped me learn the ropes and that was Randy Moomaw and Steve Kern. From taking me on hospital visits, to funerals and coaching me through tough situations, Steve and Randy have been incredible for my professional growth.

However, one thing stands out from all of the rest and has become a core motto in my own leadership:

Don’t ask someone to do something that you aren’t willing to do yourself!

Leadership is not telling someone to go clean out a closet, organize a bunch of files or do other tasks that you have neglected up until this point. Leadership is leading the way and showing people that nothing is beneath you.

In our reading today, Jesus had to have a tough conversation with His disciples after a couple of them got caught up in being the greatest of the bunch. Jesus turned their thinking upside down by saying:

“…whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave to all.”

A huge part of leadership is actually serving and leading people through your actions. There is no better example of this than Jesus. Did He enter into Jerusalem on a white horse with sword drawn and ready for war?

No.

He came into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey.

Did He demand that His disciples care for His every need?

No.

He washed their feet.

In your circle of influence, how can you best lead through your actions? How can you take the next step of serving? Do you communicate, audibly or not, that something is beneath you as a leader? Do you cast vision so that people know the “why” behind their responsibilities or do you pass off tasks that you have neglected?

You would be surprised how much of an impact you would make through your leadership if you were committed to serve!

Jake Lawson

April 18 – Church & State – Love Your Neighbor

Read Mark 12: 30-31

Love God. Love People.

You know, Jesus could have picked anything. He could have said,” Don’t steal. Don’t put other gods before me. Don’t murder or commit adultery.” He could have gone on and on about the sacrifices, about things that were wrong with society at the time, but He kept it simple: “Love God. Love People.”

You want to know what the greatest commandment is?

“…love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all of your mind.”

Did you catch that? He didn’t say to love your country more or your party or a law or your convictions; He said to “Love the Lord your God with all of your heart, soul and mind!”

Love God.

How are we doing with loving God? Is knowing and understanding God a priority for us? Are we taking time to fall more and more in love with the Creator of the universe who created US in unique and wonderful ways? Are we taking time to be grateful to Him for the love He showed us on the cross by sacrificing Himself?  WOW!  I’m convicted! I long to focus more on WHO God is and what He wants me to do and how He wants me to love!

Which leads us to the 2nd part of Jesus’ statement. The teacher hears Jesus talking and he only asks for the greatest commandment, but of course, our Savior gives him a little bit more!  He gives him the 2nd commandment too: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

And again, we need to ask ourselves some questions. Are we only loving the people who agree with us or are we loving ALL of our neighbors, whether they see eye to eye with us or not? Are we sharing love in the way that Jesus would or are we only pushing our agenda on people? Convicting again!

What are some ways that you can grow in your love of God? What are some ways that you need to better at loving those around you, regardless of whether they agree with you on everything?

May we be known as people who deeply love God, who long to know Him more!  And then may we also be known as people who show love and kindness to everyone!

Tim Boucher