Welcome to the Sunday Devotion. I come in such thankfulness for the blessings of fellowship, friendship and love of my faith community. It is so strengthening to share the faithfulness of united hearts. I was blessed to attend Community of Christ’s World Conference this last week where roughly 60 countries were represented. The delegates in front of me represented the Pacific Islands and before we adjourned the conference, I had been blessed by Rajini from the Fiji Islands and Ral from Hawaii, whom I had never before met. I saw friends whom I’d lost touch with several decades before, a woman who had been a youth when I served as Youth Group Leader about 40 years ago. I reunited with friends who had lived in the DC area, but who now resided in Florida, Arizona, Ohio, Colorado, Oregon and Washington state.
I share this because I want to testify about the value of being in a faith community following the ministry of Jesus Christ, the Peaceful One, with hearts united in purpose. Together we advocated for the refugees, examined our role in Climate Change, and addressed our responsibilities while having difficult conversations of racial, ethnic and gender injustice. Do you have such a community, one in which you can grow and offer opportunities to others to grow in Christ-like behavior and values.
The disciples had such a group as they traveled with Jesus. It must have been such an amazing bond of “family”. Their conviction of faith, although severely tested, was strengthened by having one another – a strong lesson for us today. In Hebrews 10:24-25 we read, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
We need each other. We find great value and strength in our community of faithful believers. In Romans 1:11-12, we are told, “I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong— that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith. In Romans 12:5 we are told, “so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.”
This is the strength of participating in a faith-filled community. It doesn’t preclude us from reaching out to others who have not pursued or been introduced to a spiritual path. But as one body we gain strength, knowledge, and a treasure of gifts that enhance our abilities to do more in Christ’s name.
Seek the fellowship of a faith community. Find the light of Jesus in others. Then share it with the world.
Welcome to the Sunday Devotion. Together we face a new week and a new beginning. Take a deep breath and let the peace of starting fresh seep into your soul. I find that I need this sense of newness and starting fresh. Have you been in this situation?
When you feel overwhelmed, or sinking in exhaustion, are you one to barrel through or do you step back and allow yourself to refuel and heal?
I’m normally one who barrels through. I move forward, confident that I will survive and regain the sleep that I’ve lost or just get a flood of renewed energy sourced by my adrenaline. How do you face such times in your life?
Over these last few weeks, I finally realized that I needed to step back and refuel. It’s hard to do that. It’s one thing to tell someone else that when you’re busy and burdened, know that you can find rest in God. I say that because I believe it. In Matthew 11:28-29 we are told, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”
But there are times I just refuse to take a breath. I am too anxious about completing all of my good ideas to allow the priority of feeling God’s peace. Recently I came across this scripture. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” These words have a remarkable message in them.
Sometimes we feel we are too busy to allow ourselves some quiet time with God. So I challenge you (and myself) to find time with God each day. Try it for 3 days. Track your time with God. And once you come to the end of those 3 days, add a few more. Create a new habit where you find a renewed energy and attitude about spending time with God.
God is always ready to spend time with us.
So once again I say “take a deep breath and let the peace of starting fresh seep into your soul."
(Author: Bonnie Barber)
Various authors throughout the Chesapeake Bay Mission Center and beyond provide these thought-provoking weekly devotions.