Faith and Pace

But [God] said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” – 2 Corinthians 12:9.

1. What does the passage say?
2. What does it mean to you today?
3. What does it change in your life?

If you were to ask ten people if they believe exercise is good for their health and well-being, how many of them do you think would raise their hands? If you guessed nine out of ten, you would match what we all intuitively know to be true. Exercise is good for us. But what do you think is the number one exercise that will help you feel younger, ramp up a sluggish metabolism, reduce and manage your weight, boost your energy, increase cardiovascular endurance, improve muscular tone and strength, enhance sleep, reduce stress, and bring joy and youthfulness back to your life?

The number one exercise to help you attain all of these benefits is the one you will actually do. Despite all the research surrounding the benefits of regular exercise, the only one that will make a difference is the program you will do consistently.

But we have a problem. Only about half of us exercise three or more days a week. The amazing health and life-changing benefits of exercise we all know about don’t motivate the majority of us to get off the sofa or easy chair and move.

Let’s get to the bottom of this. What if you wanted to exercise? What if you were inspired and truly motivated to lace up your gym shoes and go for a walk, a run, or a hike? What if you moved from thinking, “I know I should exercise” to “I can’t wait to exercise” and, by integrating motion with devotion, you could grow closer and stronger in your relationship with God?

Throughout this week, as part of the Daniel Fast, thank God for the many blessings He has given you. Take a couple of stretch breaks throughout the day to remember that this journey is about grace and pace. It’s not a sprint, nor a final destination. When you allow God to change your mind from a “have to” mentality to a “get to,” it allows room for grace and pace for yourself and for others.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Meditate on 2 Corinthians 12:9.
  2. Take several stretch breaks throughout the day.
  3. Take the time to consider what small things can make a big difference in your fasting, your exercise and your walk with God.
  4. Ask God to remind you that your strength comes from Him and that any small step toward better health is a step that will honor God.

Life In Compartments

“When there is a tendency to compartmentalize the spiritual and make it resident in a certain type of life only, the spiritual is apt gradually to be lost.” – Flannery O’Connor

There is a slogan commonly used when describing a trip to Vegas: “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.” The idea is that when people go to Las Vegas, they get license to do things they would never normally do, to act like they would never normally act. This is Vegas! So what if you lose a whole lot of money? This is Vegas! So what if you…?

The problem is many Christians are living their faith this way. When we compartmentalize our faith the slogan becomes, “what happens at church, stays at church,” or, “what happens away from church, stays away from church.” Often, our response to the all that is happening around us is to segregate these various areas of our lives into compartments like a super-organized California Closet: house, marriage, kids, family, schedules, friends, food, hobbies . . . and Jesus. Our attempt at order by compartmentalizing or controlling our lives, people, and tasks is really a heart issue. We have to ask ourselves what we believe. Do we believe that God is Lord over all, attentive to us in everything?

Christians are called to be Christians, not just some of the time, but all of the time. We are called to be Christ-like in all of our actions, not just some of our actions. When Christians live a compartmentalized life, they do a great job at being Christians some of the time, but the rest of the time the bets are off.

With the sacrifice of Jesus as our foundation, and the Holy Spirit as our guide, we are called to worship God 24/7. The scriptures don’t say anything about us putting aside our faith in compartments when we don’t want God to interfere with certain parts of our lives. We aren’t called to worship God just when it is convenient. We are called to trust and believe in Him even when it is inconvenient. The world might be pressuring us to compartmentalize our faith in Christ, but what the world desperately needs is for that faith to unify and integrate every aspect of our lives.

So how do we get rid of the compartments? Handing the reins over to our attentive God is the first step. We can acknowledge the propensity to compartmentalize and pray for wisdom to eliminate those areas of our life where God does not play a principal role. We need the Holy Spirit to help us (John 14:26) to see how we have pushed God aside as we “do” our lives.

The bottom line is this. It is turning our focus from our agenda to His, seeing Christ made great in our thoughts, actions, feelings, in fact, through all the details of life. The Bible says that we can be recognized by the fruit we produce in our lives. What kind of fruit are you producing? More than that, what kind of fruit are others noticing you are producing when they see you on a daily basis? Are you producing the fruits of the Spirit that are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control?

The challenge is being a Christian not just when everyone is looking, but also when no one is looking.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Do you desire Jesus Christ to be first in your life? Do you see every aspect of your life and work as service to God. How does that manifest itself in your life?
  2. Many people are tempted to compartmentalize their faith rather than allow God to influence every aspect of their lives. Discuss some of the reasons for this. In what ways can materialism be the enemy of single-mindedness?
  3. Which area of your life (relationships, finances, work, family, etc.) is hardest to submit to God’s will and guidance?
  4. How have you experienced the benefits of a single-minded focus on God?
  5. How has “seeking first the kingdom of God” brought God’s blessing upon your work, relationships, family, and finances?
  6. Pray and ask God for the wisdom to occupy all the compartments in your life.

Who Are You Inviting?

“Then the master told his servant, ‘Go out to the roads and country lanes and compel them to come in, so that my house will be full.” – Luke 14:23

Easter is one of the easiest times of the year to invite people to church. Easter weekend is just around the corner, and now is a great time to invite your friends and family to celebrate with us. With 13 services in 4 locations, in addition to our online campus, there are many great opportunities to invite those closest to you to check out Northstar, maybe for the very first time.

As a staff, we do everything we can to make sure our services are creative and welcoming, but that’s not why our church has grown. Our church grows and lives are changed when you respond to God’s call to reach those in your own community. Maybe it’s the friend across the street from you; maybe it’s someone at your lunch table at school. So, who is God calling you to invite this Easter?

But in this devotional, I ask that you think both short and  long-term as we approach the Easter season.

Evangelism is so much more than a conversation. It’s a life choice. It’s utilizing everything that God blesses us with to impact the people in our lives; our friends, neighbors, co-workers, and family members. You have heard us say that “people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” We show we care by giving of ourselves. By opening our homes, and caring for our friends and neighbors. Relationships make the awkward “Hey… Um…you wanna come to church with me” conversation much, much easier.  Simple in fact.  And relationships often determine the results.

You invite a friend to church. You are persuasive and even offer a perk or two such as breakfast or lunch after the service. The friend says OK, and how about Olive Garden for lunch. You are ecstatic and tell him he won’t be sorry.

When you invite an “unchurched” friend to visit Northstar, you’re asking them to come out of their comfort zone into a place that is foreign and unknown. They stand out of respect during praise and worship. You relax because things appear to be going well. Then the pastor gets up to preach. This is the aha moment. You are hoping that it will be so powerful that your friend leaps out of their seat during the altar call and heads straight for the baptismal, pausing just long enough to sign up for the membership and discipleship classes. Unfortunately, this is the one week that the pastor is preaching on tithing, unintentionally feeding into stereotypes.  Your friend looks confused and doesn’t say much over his soup and salad at Olive Garden. And worse, he chose not to attend church with you next week. Hopefully, that is not where it ends. God will not stop working on your friend’s heart and neither should we.

As is so often the case, we can learn from the apostle Paul. In Acts 17:16, Paul is in Athens. He was so disturbed by the widespread idolatry that he goes to the synagogue to talk with them. Then day after day he went to the synagogue and market place and reasoned with anyone and everyone he could. People thought he was just a crazy babbler, but he kept at it. Eventually, he made such an impression that he was invited to come and share the gospel.

Paul didn’t have to drag people out of their comfort zones, he met people where they were. And he did not give up easily, because he understood the value of each life to God. Jesus did the same, and he continues to meet and love people where they are. Most of Jesus’ work was not done inside the walls of the synagogue, but in the streets, the marketplaces, and homes of others.

Let’s make it a point to love people where they are. Let’s resolve to build relationships with our friends, family, neighbors, and co-workers. And then to use those relationships to invite them to church and to talk about spiritual things. No, every effort will not be a success. But it is so worth the effort.

Imagine the day when a friend, or relative, or coworker, or neighbor is worshiping God with their hands in the air as they stand next to you. Can you see their face as they worship the one who saved them, gave them peace, joy, purpose and new life? That picture can be a reality, but it starts with a relationship and an invitation. Will you be the one God uses to take a stand?

One more thing.  I won’t be talking about tithing on Easter.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Make a list of people you want to invite to church on Easter? Do you have a relationship with that individual(s)? Have you prayed for that individual(s)?
  2. Have you shared your story on how God has changed your life?
  3. Have you considered your role after they attend Northstar? Will you continue to pray for them?
  4. Pray and ask God for the wisdom to invest in the lives of others in a way that draws them to Him.

Keep Calm And Trust God

One of the most loved stories from the Old Testament is the story of Daniel in the Lion’s Den. The whole story of Daniel starts when he was just a young boy. However, by the time Daniel was cast into the lion’s den he was an old man. Many things happened in Daniel’s life, but he continued to trust and serve God even though he was forced to work for ungodly people.

The story of Daniel in the lion’s den is a story we love due to the the happy ending. God shut the mouths of the lions and Daniel was not harmed. Still, it must have been a terrifying night for Daniel, sitting so close to lions. One of the chief lessons we learn from this story is gleaned from the confession of King Darius himself: “I issue a decree that in every part of my kingdom people must fear and reverence the God of Daniel. “For he is the living God and he endures forever; his kingdom will not be destroyed, his dominion will never end.” (Daniel 6:26). Hebrews 11:33 says, “…who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions.”

You might be enduring your own personal “den of lions” right now. The key is not to put your focus on your situation, but rather on God. Learn to trust God enough to take a stand when on the mountaintop or in the valley. The Bible tells us in Psalms 46:1. “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” The Bible has a lot to say on the subject of trusting God for the results.

  • “The Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life.The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore.” – Psalm 121:7-8
  • “But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one.” – 2 Thessalonians 3:3
  • “…my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold and my refuge, my savior; you save me from violence. I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies.” – 2 Samuel 22:3-4.
  • “…fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed,  for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” – Isaiah 41:10
  • “Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears us up; God is our salvation. Our God is a God of salvation, and to God, the Lord, belong deliverances from death.” – Psalm 68:19-20.

As you read and reflect on the verse(s) in this devotional and in future ones, I ask that you ask yourself three questions. (1) What does the passage say? (2) What does the passage mean? And (3) What am I going to do about what the passage says and means? The application step is not completed by simply answering these questions; the key is putting into practice what God has taught you in this devotional. Although at any given moment you cannot be consciously applying everything you’re learning in your daily devotional, you can be consciously applying something. And when you work on applying a truth to your life, God will bless your efforts.

Discussion Questions:

  1. God is bigger than anything we will ever face in our lives. What challenge or obstacle are you currently facing that you need God’s strength to help you endure through it? Does it involve taking a stand?
  2. In what ways do you experience God’s presence on a daily basis?
  3. Consider starting a prayer journal today. You don’t have to use a fancy notebook. Any paper that you can find will work. Use the journal to write down your feelings, emotions, and struggles. List your specific requests at the end of each page, and as God answers your prayers, be sure to write down the date and the way in which He answered you.

The Strength to Kneel

So King Darius put the decree in writing. Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before. Then these men went as a group and found Daniel praying and asking God for help.” – Daniel 6:9-11.

Daniel was committed to prayer. And I mean committed. A terrible law had been passed by King Darius. King Darius’ law stated that anyone who prays to any God or man apart from King Darius himself for 30 days will be thrown into the den of lions. In other words, he will be sent to perish. This law was signed, sealed, and delivered. It was done. It was official. No change can be tolerated. Daniel knew that the law against praying to God was signed and put into effect. The Bible tells us that he simply went to God in prayer. He placed his faith in God and it was a remarkable faith because he deliberately opened the windows. Why would he open the windows? He opened the windows so that others may see. Here was a man who believed in God and even though his head would roll if he should practice his faith, he trusted His God.

We can learn a lot from Daniel on the hard work of prayer. We can also learn why each follower of Jesus needs to make a commitment to prayer and why it needs to be an essential part of our lives. The fact is that if we are to be successful in our prayer lives, we must make the commitment.

Prayer was an expression of Daniel’s personal devotion to dependency upon His God. Notice that it says that he gave thanks to his God (v.10) and that he was making supplication to his God (v.11). Daniel was loyal to King Darius, but he had a higher loyalty to God.

Daniel devoted specific time for prayer. There was a consistency in his prayer life. Three times each day. Psalms 55:16-17 tells us: “As for me, I call to God, and the Lord saves me. Evening, morning and noon I cry out in distress, and he hears my voice.” Luke 18:1 says, “Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.” And 1 Thessalonians 5:17 says, “…pray continually,…” 

Another example of the power of prayer is the story of Hannah in 1 Samuel 1:10-28. We can learn from this story on how to pray, in a way like Hannah did, that God will use us and our life for his greater purposes.”…Hannah wept much and prayed to the Lord…’I have been praying here out of my great anguish…'” ~ 1 Samuel 1:10, 16

Remember that kneeling to pray is what gives you the strength to stand.

Discussion Questions:

  1. If you were arrested for being a person of prayer, would there be enough evidence to convict you?
  2. Daniel prayed when it was against the law to pray. Why do you think he continued his daily prayer regimen even when He knew it could be dangerous?
  3. Do you have a daily prayer regimen? What were some characteristics of Daniel’s prayer life we can emulate?
  4. Have you ever felt like Hannah that no other person can meet your need ? How can prayer help?
  5. Make a commitment to pray to God daily.

Daniel Fast: Small Things Make A Big Difference

A few weeks back we taught a series called Small Things Big Difference. Small things make a big difference. Much of the Christian life is about small things. Matthew 25: 34-36 says,”Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.” There is nothing there about the grand, great or the spectacular. It is more about the little things.

Many people begin the Daniel Fast by simply trying a new health habit, just one small thing. They decided to start the day with breakfast, or add more veggies to their meals, or take a brisk walk each day, or invite a friend to work out. Small steps, yes. But they began to see surprising life change. Simple changes started to add up. Small steps took them closer to realizing their big dreams.

A gradual approach is the surest way to success. Trying to change everything at once almost inevitably invites disappointment. Don’t try to change dozens of unhealthy habits at once. Start with a few vital behaviors — the ones that will “have the biggest immediate impact” — and go from there. Here are a few small steps to try if you haven’t incorporated them yet:

  • Set a goal in faith to take time in God’s Word and be refreshed by His promises.
  • Start walking with friends.
  • Eat breakfast every day.
  • Eat some protein with every meal.
  • Drink water. Half your body weight in ounces.
  • Pray before your meals.
  • Try a new aerobic activity.

A key to The Daniel Fast is remembering that small steps lead to big results. This week, tell a friend or your Daniel Fast group about one small-step or positive outcome you have experienced.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Take the time to consider what small things can make a big difference in your fasting.
  2. From that list add one step each week to your new healthy lifestyle during the fast.
  3. Ask God to remind you that your strength comes from Him and that any small step toward better health is a step that will honor God.

Knocked Down, But Not Out

There was a man named Jim Jablon, who lived with two lions in their habitat for a month to raise money for his wildlife rehabilitation shelter in Florida. The two not-yet-ferocious feline occupants living with him were named Ed and Lea. Jablon completed the month together with the two-year-old lions with just a few minor scratches and significant donations to his cause. There’s a reason that this stunt made news. Even if the great cats were young and completely calm, some change or some provocation or simply an accident and Jablon could have been lunch. The risk of injury or death would frighten even the bravest soul.

In Daniel 6, that brave soul was Daniel. He knew his prayers would put him in the lion’s den. He refused to let that change a thing. Daniel was a man of excellence. Not only did he instill so much confidence in King Darius that he was in line to be the first in command (v. 3), but Daniel’s worst enemies were unable to find fault with him (v. 4). But that didn’t stop them.

Here’s a question for you. Have you ever been involved in office or business politics? Most people in business have. It impacts even the newest employee, as people begin to get him or her on their side and at the same time evaluate if the new person is a threat to their position or ranking in the unofficial business pecking order. Everybody takes sides so they are not left to themselves when power and influence is needed. That often requires currying favor with the boss or bosses on one hand and watching out for your back on the other. Because if people see you as a threat or as a competition, they will do whatever they can to eliminate that threat. It is the crab mentality. Crabs will pull each other back into the bucket, because if I can’t get out, neither will you. That doesn’t mean it will always be overt, illegal or unethical either. They can withhold needed information or deny you authority. Other times it may be slander or accusations. It is the survival of the fittest and it can feel like you are fresh meat for the lions.

In Daniel chapter 6, Daniel is now set in a high place and office politics has intensified. The people around him are jealous and devise ways to sabotage Daniel. They set up a conspiracy against him, and were looking to report to the king any error, or mistake Daniel would make. But in Daniel 6:4, we are told that: “At this, the administrators and the satraps tried to find grounds for charges against Daniel in his conduct of government affairs, but they were unable to do so. They could find no corruption in him, because he was trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent.”

People will try to tear you down because you are a Christ follower. You can’t always stop what people are thinking about you. You can’t stop how people plot against you. You can’t always defend yourself. And it is not always possible to be extricated from such environments. But we can understand that if we serve God, people will try to tear us down. And more importantly we need to understand our enemy. The forces of darkness are real and would like nothing more than to marginalize you and your relationship with God. And as Roy said on Sunday, “if we are not ready to face opposition, we are not ready to be used by God.”

God did not promise to give us a trouble-free life, but to give us victory over our troubles. He is a very present help in our troubles. We have the promise that He will never leave or forsake us and Jesus said that He would be with us until the end. Our trust in God is a conduit through which His power flows to and through us. It is called faith.  And when we take a stand for God, that faith will be tested.

Discussion Questions:
1. “When God raises you up, expect people to tear you down.” Have you experienced the truth of this statement? If so, how? Have you experienced office politics? What was your reaction?
2. What is it about Christianity that provokes the need to tear Christians down? Do you believe Christians are arrogant? On a pedestal?
3. Are we sometimes guilty of tearing down other Christians? Why?
4. How do we prepare for the day when we are confronted with people trying to tear us down? What can we learn from Daniel on this issue?
5. Pray and ask God to give you the wisdom and courage to keep your eyes fixed on God when confronted with people who wish to tear you down.

 

 

Weakness is Our Strength

One of the tools often used in business is a SWOT analysis. S.W.O.T. is an acronym that stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. A SWOT analysis makes sure you’ve considered all of your business’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as the opportunities and threats it faces in the marketplace. Knowing and leveraging your strengths is critical to business success. And knowing your weaknesses that detract from the value you offer, or place you at a competitive disadvantage is also critical, because these are the areas that will need improvement.

We are typically afraid to look at, much less articulate, our weaknesses because we are taught to concentrate on our strengths. We prefer not to dwell on those things that we do not do well. But suppose you were doing a one-sentence S.W.O.T analysis on weaknesses for you personally. What would you list as weaknesses? Would your weakness be expecting so much of your limited time that you feel paralyzed by the number of demands and opportunities; or maybe it would be the inability to maintain strong relationships, or the ability to tithe regularly, or maybe your knowledge of the Bible is not where you want it to be. If your list of weaknesses ends up being longer than you expected, you’re not alone. Most of us have areas in our life where we feel inadequate, or where we simply placed it in our queues with a low priority which means we will get to it when we can. Or maybe we simply don’t have the skills in that area.  

Fortunately, God’s power is the perfect counterpart to our weakness. It’s more than enough and more importantly, it is completely available to you. God isn’t scouring the universe looking for a perfect person through which He can display His power and glory. He’s looking for the person whose weakness provides God and His power with an opportunity to make their life unexplainable. An opportunity to turn our weaknesses into a Christ-exalting experience. No matter what you’re going through, no matter what or how many weaknesses you have, there’s no reason that can’t be you.

The truth is that the church never ran, and wasn’t designed to run, on human strength. The church runs on divine and supernatural strength. And God tells us, through Paul, that the way to access God’ supernatural strength in our lives individually and collectively as a church ministry is through weakness. So God has given us this door that we can open up for his strength, but most of us have locked it, closed it, or nailed it shut because we don’t like to think about our weaknesses. We don’t like to think about our insufficiencies.

If there’s one thing I hope you you take away from Sunday’s message is that it’s OK to have weaknesses. It’s in your weakness that you find God’s strength. It’s our weakness that draws us to him. In 2 Corinthians 12:9, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

The Holy Spirit will help us in our weakness. When we feel weak or vulnerable, our power comes from the Holy Spirit residing within us and turning to Him alone for guidance and direction. Romans 8:26 says, “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.”

So as we fast and pray for God’s will in our lives, don’t focus too much on finding your strengths. Give attention to identify and exploit your weaknesses. God has not given them to you in vain. Identify them. Accept them. Exploit them. Magnify the power of Christ with them. In the end, you will find that weakness in God’s hand is a strength.

Discussion Questions:
1. What top two strengths (natural talents or learned abilities) has God wired into you from birth or helped you develop over the years? In what way have you used or could you use those strengths to do God’s work on earth?
2. In what way could any of your weaknesses be blocking your desire to serve God wholeheartedly?
3. What are the weaknesses that Paul has in mind here when he says, “The power of Christ is made perfect in weakness”?
4. What is the purpose of such weaknesses? Is there a goal or an aim for why the weaknesses exist?
5. Pray and ask God that your weaknesses will be filled with the power of God and that God will be exalted through them.

Caution: God at Work

“Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the Lord is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him…And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.” – Isaiah 30:18, 21

I love these verses because they demonstrate an active, loving God: He longs, He rises, He speaks. God did not give us an instruction manual, the Bible, and then sit down on His throne and watch what transpires from heaven. Instead, He is there when we have problems. He is working behind the scenes. The Holy Spirit tells us which way to turn so we don’t get lost.

I know that God does not sit idly, watching our life take place. And that is a good thing because there will be times in all of our lives when we simply don’t understand how God is working. It doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t align with what we can grasp with our minds. It doesn’t fit into the way we believe things happen in this world. But remember this. God keeps His promises, God gives you the right instructions according to His perfect will and He won’t mislead you. No matter how much you don’t understand life as it is right now – no matter how uncomfortable it may seem or how hard it gets, don’t worry. The same God who spoke life into you, the same God who is and knows the beginning and the end, the same God who knew you before the foundation of this world is with you. Knowing that, what can stand against you?

Proverbs 3:5 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” I believe that when you come to the place where you trust God, you will rest in the knowledge that He has everything under control even when life seems to be out of control. Trusting God will get you to the point where you make a decision to trust in Him and not in your own logic and understanding.

God doesn’t expect us to understand everything He’s doing. It’s okay to have questions. It’s okay to want to know more. It’s normal to think what’s happening just doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. And we will experience a whole variety of emotions along the way.

The reality is, we will never fully grasp all God is doing this side of heaven. But, He does want us to really know this with all our hearts: He loves us and He’s working on our behalf in ways beyond what we can even comprehend.

Discussion Questions:
1. Do you sometimes feel that God is stringing you along? Why or why not? Why is it difficult to not be afraid? Or anxious, because it will all be worked out in the end?
2. How would you rate your trust in God?
3. Proverbs 16:9 says, “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” Proverbs 20:24 says, “A man’s steps are from the Lord; how then can man understand his way? What do those two verses mean to you?
4. Pray and ask God to give you courage to completely trust in Him, even when you can’t see or understand what is going on around you.

Don't You Care?

In this week’s message we looked at Daniel chapter 10. One of the points I made in that message was that God is a caring, loving, compassionate father. He loves you more than you will ever understand. He loves you more than you can ever comprehend. He is loving toward you in everything that He does. The Bible says in Psalm 103:13, “As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.

Some of the disciples were fishermen. In Mark 4: 35-37 we read about Jesus calming a storm: “On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling.”

As fishermen, they were used to storms. But this one must have been out of the ordinary because they were scared. The ship was rocking and rolling, and water was coming into the boat. They were distraught enough to wake up Jesus to ask him one of the most important questions in life: “Teacher, don’t you care?”

Sounds familiar doesn’t it? We have asked or thought that question in any number of ways throughout our lives. “God, don’t you know I flunked that test and I may get kicked out of college. Don’t you care? My relationship with my kids is an absolute mess. Don’t you care? I should not have gone into business with him, but now I am stuck and this could blow up in my face. Don’t you care? I just can’t kick this habit. Don’t you care? My marriage is crumbling. Don’t you care?”

The answer is yes, God cares. In fact, He cares more than you care. He wants to help more than you want help. He knows what will help you more than you know what will help you. He is aware, and He has a plan for your life.

God continually calls us to come to Him with our burdens and find rest for our souls: “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:28 – 29) He invites us to cast our worries on Him because He cares: “…casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7) He invites us to come to His throne and ask for mercy and grace to help us in our time of need: “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16) He offers strength when we are weak. “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13)

If you knew and felt how much your heavenly Father cares about you, you’d have to love Him back.

Discussion Questions.
1. What are the things in your life right now that are troubling you?

2. Do you believe that God cares about your concerns? What does it mean to “cast” your anxiety on God?

3. How would life be different if you were confident that God cares about you?

4. How does it impact you to know that God cares about the little as well as the big things in life? Share one way you’ve personally experienced Him caring for a “little thing”.

5. How and where is God calling you to care? What action will you take this week?