Tuesday, February 8
Verse of the day
1 Behold my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my Spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations.…
6 “I am the LORD; I have called you in righteousness; I will take you by the hand and keep you; I will give you as a covenant for the people, a light for the nations, 7 to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness.…
9 Behold, the former things have come to pass, and new things I now declare; before they spring forth I tell you of them.” — Isaiah 42:1,6,7,9 (ESV)
You are not alone.
One of the great truths of the Bible is that God sent Jesus to be with us, to dwell among us, to be one of us. He experienced pain, suffering, cruelty and death. Yet he lived a life of joy, with purpose, including to bring God’s justice to the nations. Jesus told His disciples, “As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you” (John 20:21). And when it came time to send out His disciples, He sent them out to make disciples of all the nations … with a promise, “I am with you always.” When you are sent out on Jesus’ mission to follow Him, you are not alone – He is with you.
You are not invisible.
You are not invisible to God, no matter what your situation or circumstances. The suffering that you’ve faced is not unseen. The prison that you have been in – whether figurative or literal, God sees it. The darkness that you’ve felt … God says, “Even the darkness is not dark for Me” (see Psalm 139:12). And just as that is true for you, it’s true for others. The suffering of this world is not invisible to God – the eyes that are blind, the prisoners in the dungeon, those who sit in darkness. Even through the darkness – Jesus sees you.
You are not forgotten.
There are times that we may feel God has forgotten us. Joseph cried out from prison. Job cried out from a bed of pain. The Israelites cried out from Egypt and then again as exiles from Babylon. Psalm 42:9 raises that very cry of the heart, “Why have you forgotten me?” But Peter reminds us, “You are a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people” (1 Peter 2:9). He has a mission for you, new things – for you, for Crossroads, for those in need, for the nations. Jesus, calls you by name. You are not forgotten – you have been chosen.
Missionaries – Pray for our missionaries near and far – for God’s protection, provision and fruitfulness from the One who promises to be with them!
Missions locally – Pray for the existing and new things that God is wanting to start through Crossroads – to see those who feel unseen in our Amstelveen and broader community and respond with God’s love.
Missions globally – Pray for an increased fruitfulness from our global missions – reaching those who may feel forgotten. Pray for God’s destiny and calling on their lives to be fulfilled.
wednesday, February 9
Verse of the day
I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. — John 6:35 (NKJV)
When our LIFEgroup meets, we meet around the table. We eat. A lot. Sometimes it is just a pbj (peanut butter and jelly sandwich) but more often we enjoy cooking for each other and just eating good food. We go all out when there is a birthday to celebrate, especially if it is a child’s birthday. The sheer delight we experience in witnessing their delight makes it all worth it. There have also been times that we grieved together. We grieved the death of parents, of a much loved life group member, and of people moving countries. And we rejoice with each other when life is good. The good food sets the tone for the rest of our conversation. There is just something about sharing meals and eating together. Jesus was no stranger to this. We all know the stories of the wedding feast and the last supper, and of Jesus inviting himself into the house of the tax collector.
Communion happens around the table, that sacred and holy place. At Crossroads we often remind ourselves that there is place for everyone around the table. The table isn’t ours, it is Jesus’. Being part of Crossroads means embracing a lot of different kind of people. We share the table with each other and gather together in homes with diverse cultural decors and scents. I have eaten food that was way too spicy for my untrained palet, I have looked at Scottish haggis, and have taken in more than my fair share of fried bread. What is not to love? Last year my husband and I were reminded of the joy of unity during the 12-week teaching series on Ephesians. The study groups were set up to be diverse (in age, gender, culture, language, church background), and to stay that diverse for the entire 12 weeks. We knew we wouldn’t always agree, and we knew that we were all welcome around the table and could pray together. It was an awesome experience.
Today’s devotional is about embracing each other. How about we just go out and do some warm embracing? Invite each other over for meals and coffees, share your food and bake some unhealthy things to share. Get to know some people you haven’t interacted with before. Or maybe even some people you think just have strange ideas about life and faith. Now that the world is opening up again, I already delight in seeing you face to face again to meet around the table.
Jesus says, I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.
What are you hungry for?
What has sustained you?
What is you best spiritual meal experience? (It can be an actual meal!)
Who is on your heart to invite to your home to share a meal or coffee with you?
thursday, February 10
Verse of the day
For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost. — Luke 19:10
There are numerous passages in scripture that tell us that Jesus intentionally went to look for people. In Mark 5, Jesus crosses the lake to go to the region of the Gerasenes, to look for the demon-possessed man. In Luke 18 and 19 Jesus goes to Jericho to meet the blind man as well as Zacchaeus. After his death and resurrection, Jesus is in the garden of the tomb, so that Mary of Magdalene can encounter him.
In 2 specific situations Jesus raised someone to life; in Luke 7 we read that Jesus went to Nain and raised a young man to life, and in John 11 we are told that Jesus went to Bethany to raise Lazarus to life.
Luke 19:10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.
We may know, rest assured, that Jesus seeks the hearts and lives of the youth, teens and young adults. Both in our congregation and in the world. When we look around us at the young people, maybe as close as our own children, and we see so much brokenness, alienation from the faith, maybe even spiritual death; we may look at Jesus who went to look for those who weren’t looking for him at all. He went to look for them, to bring healing, wholeness, life. Isaiah 30:18 says: The Lord longs to be gracious, therefore He will rise up to show compassion.
Jesus, thank you that you came to seek and save the lost. We lift this young generation before you and ask that you, who knows each of them by name and circumstance, reveal yourself, your love and grace to them. That they may get to know you, not because of us, but because you seek them out, you touch them and you give life. We pray for this young generation to turn to you, seek your face and walk in your ways. To the glory of your name.
For our family ministry
– Allen, Manuel, Neha and Melba, and the leaders in their ministries
– For love for and authentic relations with the youth, teens and young adults
– For wisdom to prepare and organize programs that will speak to the youth, teens and young adults
For our community
– That the youth, teens and young adults will feel part of the body of Christ in Crossroads and have a sense of belonging
– For wisdom for the parents how to raise their children in this era, with so many questions and influence from social media
– For all the adults (parents, leaders, etc.) who struggle to know how to reach the youth, to keep their eyes fixed on Jesus
For the youth, teens, young adults
– That each of them will encounter Jesus
– That faith may prove relevant even in 2020
– That God will pour out his Spirit on all people. That our sons and daughters will prophesy, our young men will see visions, our old men will dream dreams (Acts 2:17)
Friday, February 11
Verse of the day
This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters — 1 John 3:16
This text is at the heart of a larger passage in John 3. John tells us in this passage that God’s command to us is to believe in the name of His son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he loved us.
This is the Gospel in a nutshell. The gospel creates community. It points us to Jesus who laid down his life for us, and it leads to relationships in community, relationships of service rather than selfishness.
As a church community we constantly need to learn and relearn this with the help of the Holy Spirit. Reading this, knowing this and agreeing with this is one thing. Living this out is another thing. It is not easy. John also says this in verse 18: Let us not love with words and tongue but with actions and in truth.
Loving one another can only be done in community. One thing I found challenging during Corona was the multitude of opinions on the pandemic within our community. On social media I can just push ‘unfriend’ and only be left with people that think like me. But that is not how it works in the church, is it?
True biblical community leads to a group of people inside the church that would never get along outside. Because the gospel changes us, the spirit of God changes us, creating a radically different community from any society around it.
To love one another we need to get close to one another, not unfriend one another but get close, the main way we grow in grace and holiness is through deep involvement with the family of God. Christian community is more than just supportive fellowship; it is an alternate human society.
It requires me to lay down my life, my opinions, my preferences. To seek to understand the other person, to find a way to disagree yet be brothers and sisters in Christ together. To be gospel focused and have unity in Christ. This is not always easy and it keeps me humble. Time and again I need to go to the father and ask for His love, grace and compassion flow through me to others because I seem to have a limited supply. Time and again I need to go to the father to ask his forgiveness for my attitude toward others.
But with the help of Christ and following the example of Christ, a community will form that is a witness to the world. In John 17 Jesus states that our deep unity is the way the world will know that the Father sent him and that the Father has loved us even as the Father has loved him.
So, in the coming year let’s take time to have many conversations together over cups of coffee or a meal. Let’s take time to listen to each other and encourage one another, seeking unity together. As we are leaving covid behind, let’s get close and love each other as Christ loved us, shaping us in a community that will be a witness to the world.
For the Father to fill us with love, grace and compassion for our brothers and sisters.
For courage to get close, meeting in real life having real conversations.
For love to radiate out of our community.