You Are Not Alone

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I just returned from FUEL2018 “Mission” – a great event for youth which brought together students and staff from many states and Canada.  It was better than a week of vacation or band camp or soccer camp or working that good old summer job.    And what made it so powerful was our connection through God’s Word.

I enjoyed reminiscing about a missions trip I had taken with other staff members years ago – a trip in which our mission was to teach about God, His Word, His Son and His Coming Kingdom.  I enjoyed the worship music which helped us praise our Creator (which we read about in Genesis) and remember the sacrifice of His Son, our Savior (as recorded in the gospels).  The general session teachings, classes, workshops and family group times brought Godly men and women speaking God’s Word and how it had impacted them and those they knew.  They spoke wisdom from the Scriptures on who God is, what He desires from His children, who His Son is and how to grow a personal relationship with Him.

And, then we all went home.

Perhaps in some small way we can feel the emotional let-down of the disciples as they watched Jesus ascend into heaven and then asked themselves – what next?  They had been so close to God’s representative – his own Son – and now they were separated?  How would they continue learning, growing, acting in his name – without his bodily presence and audible words there to guide the way.

So, too, we can feel a little lost and let-down upon leaving such a spiritually pumped up place as FUEL.  But, remember, you are not alone!

Stick close to your Christian brothers and sisters and mentors.  Get into church this morning – and throughout the year!  Listen well to God’s Words through your pastor and SS teacher and worship leader and youth leader.  Ask questions, look for connections, serve the church body, talk to the lonely, encourage the weak, invite a friend, share what inspired you at FUEL, and then make an opportunity to meet up with some faithful followers sometime this week to encourage and strengthen one another.  In a section sometimes titled “Call to Persevere” the writer of Hebrews gives these directions: “ 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.” (Hebrews 10:24,25).  Don’t try being a lone-ranger Christian.  You need the body of believers – and they need you!

And, just as you wouldn’t dream of not eating again until you were back on Manchester’s campus next July, don’t waste away from a lack of God’s Word!  Keep serving yourself daily portions of God’s Word – for this is your source of spiritual food and nourishment.  You are not going home alone when you are going home with God’s Word.  It is here He reveals himself, His love for you, His precious Son, His plan for the ages, His goals and dreams for you, and the Mission He has given you.  It is here he shares all truth and how to be wise against deception and evil.  You can not protect yourself from falling for false worldly Gods if you do not know the true God in His Word.  It is here you learn of His all-mighty power, holiness, wisdom, presence, mercy, forgiveness, as well as His fatherly (good) discipline when needed to help you stay where He wants to bless you.

This blog/email list of daily devotions is one way we want to encourage you to stay in God’s Word every day.  God’s Words are the Best Words.  Every week you will read daily devotions written by someone in our FUEL family who is passionate about God – and YOU – and wants to help keep you connected to Him through a deeper understanding of His Word.  Thank you to Aaron Winner who wrote during FUEL on the MISSION we have!  The week before I wrote on an overview of the Old Testament, so this week we will continue on with an overview of the New Testament.  So, come back tomorrow ready to jump into the gospels!  You can be thinking about . . . what do you most appreciate about Jesus?   What is your favorite miracle?  Favorite parable?  See you tomorrow!

You are Not Alone,

Marcia Railton

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Meeting the Mission

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Throughout this week,  we have laid the groundwork that leads us from the call to the kingdom.  We considered how Jesus sought those who were seeking something better, and how those men recognized the call, the voice of their master (John 10:27).  Next, we considered how the heavens declare our salvation, and the continuing metaphor we have in the heavens declaring the glory of God (Psalm 19) and His salvation plan for mankind.  Knowing this, we applied this knowledge to God’s presence even in the darkest points in our lives – in the highest heavens he is there, but also in the deepest chasm (Psalm 139:8). His Spirit is promised and available to those who ask to receive it.  When we accept Jesus into our lives, we not only receive the Spirit of God, but also the weight of the cross – not our sin, which Jesus has paid for once and for all – but the daily responsibility to carry the name of the Lord with us wherever we go. Finally, we looked at how faith should be our great motivator.  It assures us when we don’t see God working the way we desire that he is working all things together for those who love him (Rom 8:28). The culmination of this hope comes when we arrive home. We will not be returning, but experiencing for the first time the place we have been called, where the light has been leading, where the Presence of God is close and real, where the cross paved a way for us, and the plan, having all who have believed and waited, rewarded together (Heb 11:39-40).

It is a beautiful story unfolding before us, but right now, we’re in the middle.  The part in between being called and being home. So where does our mission begin?  It begins with prayer. Prayer is our conversation with God, admonishing him, asking for repentance, lifting up concerns, and seeking his will.  Paul tells us that we should pray repetitively or without ceasing (2 Thes 5:17) constantly thanking Him, seeking His word, and listening for His voice.  It is the best way to align ourselves with his will for our lives. These are everyday acts of spiritual warriors, the same as someone who runs or lifts every day in preparation for a marathon.  In Acts 9, Saul is blinded when He sees Jesus Christ standing before him on the Road to Damascus, but it is Ananias, a man most likely practicing his faith in his hometown, that is called to a great mission.  Risking his life to go before the Christian persecutor, he speaks to him, ““Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” With these words, the course of Paul’s life and Christianity are forever changed.

For some of us, our mission will lead us to a foreign country, a great stage, or into a dramatic change of circumstance; however, we are all called to be faithful, seeking opportunities for God to use us as a vessel to speak peace and hope into the lives of those around us in the present; Many lives are lived, fearing God and keeping his commandments, in hometowns before neighbors, coworkers, or fellow students, a task that is can be ironically harder. We continually pray for those who are within our reach and influence, attuning ourselves to the will of God.  When we are faithful, we most assuredly will be ready for the harder things God calls us to as we will reach out and unabashedly share His Kingdom, leaving behind our ego, leaving behind our reputation, and even leaving behind our lives – in a moment or daily, knowing our mission is met.

-Aaron Winner

Thank you, Aaron for writing this week!  We did miss you at FUEL, but we are thankful for your continued commitment to God’s mission in your life.  Aaron recently shared his newest recorded song: How Great You Are.  Thank you for pointing us to the One who is Great!

Leave the Boat Behind

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Many of you who subscribe to this blog are currently on voyage towards your “Mission” or FUEL 2018.  Sadly, I have been left behind (electively) for the first time in almost 20 years, which gives me a wonderful opportunity to man the deck and steer the course for your inspiration from the scriptures.  My hope for those attending FUEL 2018 is to place a mark on your map, so you can begin navigating your day. Those of us not attending or those who don’t even know what FUEL is, I hope to remind you of the called Christian’s day-in-day-out commissioning that sets us on a life-saving and life-giving course, not only for ourselves, but for all who have set sail seeking the truth.

 

To provide some context for our key text today, Matthew 2-4 shows us the preparation of Jesus for His ministry and purpose.  He was born with distinction, baptized to be righteous, and tempted to be proven. He is now ready and worthy for his calling to share a game-changing gospel to both Jews and Gentiles (Isaiah 9:1-2).   He begins sharing this good news, specifically, looking for disciples to come follow Him. The events that unfold in Matthew 4:18-22 are shocking to most of us. Jesus calls a set of brothers to follow him, and they actually do it.  And then it immediately happens again. WHAT!? Now to be fair, we are not given a lot of context. It is possible the conversation with these fishermen was longer than “Come, and follow me and I will send you out to fish for people,” but keep in mind, this is before the miracles of Jesus — when he was baptized, tempted, and sharing the gospel like us.  If Jesus spoke any other words or had a reputation, it was regarding two things: repentance and the Kingdom of God (v.17).

 

Now, it has been said the two best days of a boat owner’s life are the day they buy their boat and day they get rid of it.  It would be disingenuous to say all boat owners feel this sentiment, but the majority do. Why? The infatuations and pleasures brought by owning a boat quickly are outweighed by the unforeseen investments, burdens, and maintenance.  Andrew, Peter, James, and John could very well have been content, but were undoubtedly ready to disembark because they were looking for something better. These four men left their nets, boats, and fathers and immediately followed Jesus. I know. You are scratching your head — “It doesn’t happen like this; people today don’t actually leave their stuff, work, or family behind to follow Jesus.” It actually does.  Quite a bit in the Bible, but as I have seen with my own eyes, quite a bit today WHEN there isn’t contentment with leaving people on sinking vessels.

 

We do not have to perform miracles to create this type of rapid response to the gospel, only share the message that removes the burdening responsibilities “owning” a boat. What is that message?  “Come, follow Him, ” in this many words or more, not merely left to a cryptic metaphor with our actions. Additionally, we must be ready to verbalize our answer to the hope we have, the faith that makes us live differently (1 Peter 3:15).  These words are our net, our bait, our way of setting the hook for conversation; otherwise, we are just fishermen, waiting for a fish to hop onto the shore (which is pretty ineffective). No matter what we catch, those who share our message and praise it, those who hate our message and curse it, or those who are seeking our message and find it, we are His fishers of men who continually cast our message of the Kingdom of God, seeking and searching for those who are ready to leave the boat behind.

-Aaron Winner

Growing Pains

Romans 12

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The Seaver Family became a familiar household name from 1985-1992.   This tight knit family had weekly story lines with the children in the family having common family situations, and even some more serious situations,  such as relationship issues, drinking, violence and gangs.  Each week the show began with the catchy B.J. Thomas tune, “As Long as We Got Each Other”.  The lyrics were:

 

Show me that smile again. (Show me that smile)

Don’t waste another minute on your cryin’.

We’re nowhere near the end (nowhere near)

The best is ready to begin.

 

As long as we got each other

We got the world spinnin right in our hands.

Baby, rain or shine, all the time

We got each other, sharin’ the laughter and love

We all may not have the perfect homes, the perfect bodies, the perfect grades, the perfect relationships, etc… The great thing we do have is a loving Father and so many people in our FUEL family that love us and care about us.  I just looked through the Facebook page for FUEL and there is so much joy and love in the faces of the friends gathered and united in Faith.  Romans 12 verses 9-11 encourage us to love and honor and be faithful in prayer.  Reach out to those friends and encourage them.  As long as we have each other, we can get past some of our daily challenges and rely on His love and understanding.  

-Emily Moyer

Keep Learning and Growing

I John

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Saturday, July 15

As many of you head to FUEL either tonight or tomorrow, I challenge you to make new relationships with other Christians and enjoy the lifelong fellowship that follows. These new friends will help maintain your faith through encouragement, prayer, and love. FUEL is my favorite week of the year, when I can attend, and I always enjoy the lessons I learn through classes, family group, and each session that is offered. However, the sad thing that happens once the week of FUEL ends, is that we start to become complacent and fall back into our old habits.

The apostle John warns us to not love the sinful ways of the world and warns against people who deny that Jesus is the Christ. 1st John 3:9-10 states that “no one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God. This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother.” Luckily, all we must do is confess our sins and ask for forgiveness and “he will forgive us and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1st John 1:9 NIV).

To show that we love God, we need to obey his commands. According to 1st John 3:23-24, God instructs us “to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. Those who obey his commands live in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.” We are to lay down our lives for our brothers so that they may not falter. 1st John 3:18 tells us to “not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.” If you know somebody who is struggling with anything- family matters, sickness, relationship issues, etcetera—pray for them or have a conversation with them and let them know that you are there if they need anything.

During this week at FUEL, at work, or wherever you may be, remember that God loves you so much that “he sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him and that he sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins” (1stJohn 4:9-10 NIV). It is a wonderful feeling to know that we are tremendously loved because Jesus Christ laid down his life for everyone in the world. 1st John 5:14-15 says “that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.” I ask that God teaches the life lessons that you need to learn this week through whatever outlet possible—a song, class, general session, prayer, conversation, or while reading the Bible. I know that I always learn something about myself in this process while at FUEL and feel a lot better afterwards.

Dear Heavenly Father,

Please keep everyone safe as they travel to FUEL from wherever they may be coming from. I ask that you guide them through whatever life issues they may be facing and heal them from those obstacles. I ask that everyone meets someone new and makes a new lifelong friend. Please be with all participants as they learn how much you love them while studying your word. I love you, Lord, and cannot wait until you return.

In Jesus’ Glorious Name, I pray, Amen.

-Cynthia Fyfe

 

(Photo Credit: https://dailyverses.net/1-john/3/21-22)

Just What I Needed

Hebrews 5-7

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Sunday, July 9

Every so often, I open my Bible and turn to a random book and start reading. I know that whatever page that I turn to that there is a lesson that I specifically need to learn. Interestingly enough, I found that the devotionals that I chose to write on about a year ago were the books of the Bible I needed to read now.

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I wish I could say that I grew up in the Church of God- Abrahamic Faith, attended Sunday School, and went to church every single Sunday. A lot of my friends have grown up in the church, gone to state camp, Family Camp, Southeast Camp, and on retreats throughout their entire life. Growing up, I felt like I wasn’t spiritually fed and was still like an infant in my faith. Hebrews 5 explains that many people should be teachers of scripture yet they are still learning the basics rather than expanding their knowledge of what God wants to teach them.
I decided to attend FUEL for the first time about ten years ago to learn more about the Church of God of the Abrahamic Faith and just what it meant to be a Christian. I wasn’t disappointed. Hebrews 6:13-15 states: “When God made his promise to Abraham, since there was no one greater for him to swear by, he swore by himself, saying, ‘I will surely bless you and give you many descendants.’ And so after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised.” I love our church because I know that we are a part of this promise.
Hebrews 7 talked about how Melchizedek (who is known as a priest forever) and Abraham (the father of the chosen people) were two men who were faithful to God and followed Him because they had confidence that God would fulfill His promises. None of this would have happened without an oath. “Because of this oath, Jesus has become the guarantee of a better covenant” (Hebrews 7:22). Jesus is known as the high priest who is able to mediate between us and God since he sacrificed himself giving the ultimate sacrifice for the sins of the people. Hebrews 7:28 states: “For the law appoints as high priests men who are weak; but the oath, which came after the law, appointed the Son, who has been made perfect forever.” I don’t know about you, but I am extremely thankful that Jesus saved us from our sins.
It is important to understand that God wants us to obediently devote time in our every day lives to offer up prayers, work hard for His glory, and wait patiently for His promises. So take some time today and pray that God will provide confidence in you and that He will teach you something new.
-Cynthia Fyfe
 
(Photo Credit: http://www.alittleperspective.com/hebrews-7-our-better-hope/)