Monday, June 13
Read Genesis 33:1-17
Now Jacob looked up and saw Esau coming, and four hundred men with him. So he divided the children among Leah and Rachel and the two maids. He put the maids with their children in front, then Leah with her children, and Rachel and Joseph last of all. He himself went on ahead of them, bowing himself to the ground seven times, until he came near his brother.
But Esau ran to meet him and embraced him and fell on his neck and kissed him, and they wept. When Esau looked up and saw the women and children, he said, “Who are these with you?” Jacob said, “The children whom God has graciously given your servant.” Then the maids drew near, they and their children, and bowed down; Leah likewise and her children drew near and bowed down; and finally Joseph and Rachel drew near, and they bowed down. Esau said, “What do you mean by all this company that I met?” Jacob answered, “To find favor with my lord.” But Esau said, “I have enough, my brother; keep what you have for yourself.” Jacob said, “No, please; if I find favor with you, then accept my present from my hand, for truly to see your face is like seeing the face of God, since you have received me with such favor. Please accept my gift that is brought to you, because God has dealt graciously with me and because I have everything I want.” So he urged him, and he took it.
Then Esau said, “Let us journey on our way, and I will go alongside you.” But Jacob said to him, “My lord knows that the children are frail and that the flocks and herds, which are nursing, are a care to me, and if they are overdriven for one day, all the flocks will die. Let my lord pass on ahead of his servant, and I will lead on slowly, according to the pace of the cattle that are before me and according to the pace of the children, until I come to my lord in Seir.”
So Esau said, “Let me leave with you some of the people who are with me.” But he said, “Why should my lord be so kind to me?” So Esau returned that day on his way to Seir. But Jacob journeyed to Succoth and built himself a house and made booths for his cattle; therefore the place is called Succoth.
Jacob was scared to death to meet Esau. Esau was Jacob’s older brother. When both were younger Jacob had stolen Esau’s birth rite and then fled in fear. Jacob had never spoken to Esau since that incident.
Jacob agonized over meeting Esau. The night before the meeting he wrestled all night with an angel of God; he sent presents to Esau in advance. However, Jacob’s fear turned out to be greater than the reality. Esau was very gracious in meeting Jacob. Jacob’s advanced fears didn’t turn out.
Often our fears about a situation are much greater than the resulting reality. When we know we have to disagree with someone, our fears often are much greater than they need to be.
Healthy Disagreement is an important Core Value at Chain of Lakes.
Do you have a person with whom you are having a disagreement? Do you have fears about meeting the person? If so, are your own fears overblown? Without sharing personal names, please share your own story.
Tuesday, June 14
Read Matthew 18:15-22
“If your brother or sister sins against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone. If you are listened to, you have regained that one. But if you are not listened to, take one or two others along with you, so that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If that person refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church, and if the offender refuses to listen even to the church, let such a one be to you as a gentile and a tax collector. Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Again, truly I tell you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.”
Then Peter came and said to him, “Lord, if my brother or sister sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times.
This passage from Matthew shares an excellent process for approaching someone with whom you have a disagreement. First go and talk to the person in person. If that doesn’t work, take another person with you. If that doesn’t work, let the church—the community of faith know. If that doesn’t work, then let it go. The situation is in God’s hands.
Do you have someone with whom you are having a disagreement right now? Consider visiting that person today! Or consider contacting the person and setting up an appointment. What is stopping you from participating in this process outlined in Matthew 18?
Do you have an experience of using this process when you had a disagreement? Without sharing names, please share!
Wednesday, June 15
Read Philippians 1:12-26
I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually resulted in the progress of the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to everyone else that my imprisonment is for Christ, and most of the brothers and sisters, having been made confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, dare to speak the word with greater boldness and without fear.
Some proclaim Christ from envy and rivalry but others from goodwill. These proclaim Christ out of love, knowing that I have been put here for the defense of the gospel; the others proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but intending to increase my suffering in my imprisonment. What does it matter? Just this, that Christ is proclaimed in every way, whether out of false motives or true, and in that I rejoice. Yes, and I will rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my salvation. It is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be put to shame in any way but that by my speaking with all boldness Christ will be exalted now as always in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, living is Christ and dying is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me, yet I cannot say which I will choose. I am hard pressed between the two: my desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better, but to remain in the flesh is more necessary for you. Since I am convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with all of you for your progress and joy in faith, so that, by my presence again with you, your boast might abound in Christ Jesus because of me.
The letter that Paul wrote to the people in the town of Philippi is often known as the letter of joy. Joy is the principle theme of the letter. The word “joy” occurs five times and the verbs “rejoice” and “be glad” occur eleven times. If you have some time today, read this letter—it would only take about 20 minutes.
That Paul experienced joy is remarkable as he was sitting in jail not knowing if he was going to live or die when he wrote this letter. Despite being under a death sentence, he wrote of joy.
How can this happen? Paul was able to look beyond his own self and see how God was working and alive in the circumstances in which he found himself. Paul saw that his own imprisonment was helping spread the gospel. Paul was willing to suffer so that people would receive Christ. This gave him joy.
Joyful Love is an important Core Value at Chain of Lakes Church.
How easy is it for you to look beyond your own self? Do you have a story of when you were able to do this? What happened. Please share.
Thursday, June 16
Read Jeremiah 1:4-10
Now the word of the Lord came to me saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”
Then I said, “Ah, Lord God! Truly I do not know how to speak, for I am only a boy.” But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am only a boy,’ for you shall go to all to whom I send you, and you shall speak whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, says the Lord.”
Then the Lord put out his hand and touched my mouth, and the Lord said to me,
“Now I have put my words in your mouth.
See, today I appoint you over nations and over kingdoms, to pluck up and to pull down,
to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant.”
This passage shares God’s passion for youth. God didn’t believe that being a young person disqualified a person for service. God issued a call to Jeremiah even though Jeremiah was a teenager.
This was quite a risk that God took to call Jeremiah. God wanted Jeremiah to share God’s word with the country of Judah. So much was at stake in what God was asking Jeremiah to do.
Jeremiah tried to avoid God’s call by sharing that he was only a youth. (look at verse 6). Being a young person wasn’t a reason not to receive a call. Look at what God said in verse 7, “Do not say, ‘I am only a boy’; for you shall go to all to whom I send you, and you shall speak whatever I command you.”
Over time Jeremiah witnessed the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem and the terrible exile of the people of Israel. Despite what Jeremiah witnessed, he is still known as one of the most important prophets in the Old Testament.
Investing in Future Generations is an important Core Value at Chain of Lakes.
Do you have a story of seeing a young person being called to do something special? When have you seen youth go above and beyond what you would expect? Please share.
Friday, June 17
Read 1 Samuel 3:1-21
Now the boy Samuel was ministering to the Lord under Eli. The word of the Lord was rare in those days; visions were not widespread.
At that time Eli, whose eyesight had begun to grow dim so that he could not see, was lying down in his room; the lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the Lord, where the ark of God was. Then the Lord called, “Samuel! Samuel!”] and he said, “Here I am!” and ran to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” But he said, “I did not call; lie down again.” So he went and lay down. The Lord called again, “Samuel!” Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” But he said, “I did not call, my son; lie down again.” Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord, and the word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him. The Lord called Samuel again, a third time. And he got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” Then Eli perceived that the Lord was calling the boy. Therefore Eli said to Samuel, “Go, lie down, and if he calls you, you shall say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’ ” So Samuel went and lay down in his place.
Now the Lord came and stood there, calling as before, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” Then the Lord said to Samuel, “See, I am about to do something in Israel that will make both ears of anyone who hears of it tingle. On that day I will fulfill against Eli all that I have spoken concerning his house, from beginning to end. For I have told him that I am about to punish his house forever for the iniquity that he knew, because his sons were blaspheming God, and he did not restrain them. Therefore, I swear to the house of Eli that the iniquity of Eli’s house shall not be expiated by sacrifice or offering forever.”
Samuel lay there until morning; then he opened the doors of the house of the Lord. Samuel was afraid to tell the vision to Eli. But Eli called Samuel and said, “Samuel, my son.” He said, “Here I am.” Eli said, “What was it that he told you? Do not hide it from me. May God do so to you and more also, if you hide anything from me of all that he told you.” So Samuel told him everything and hid nothing from him. Then he said, “It is the Lord; let him do what seems good to him.”
As Samuel grew up, the Lord was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground. And all Israel from Dan to Beer-sheba knew that Samuel was a trustworthy prophet of the Lord. The Lord continued to appear at Shiloh, for the Lord revealed himself to Samuel at Shiloh by the word of the Lord.
Just like in the story of Jeremiah in this story we read a story of a youth who was called by God. God called Samuel to be his follower. In his life Samuel went on to help choose Saul and David to be kings—Samuel was one of the most important prophets in the Old Testament.
Not only was Samuel young, he was mentored by an adult. Look at the start of this story. “Samuel was ministering to the Lord under Eli.” (1 Samuel 3:1) Samuel received a call from God, but needed Eli to help him know that it was God who was issuing the call. Samuel couldn’t have known that God was calling him if he hadn’t had Eli.
Do you know of a youth to whom you could be an Eli? A youth who you could mentor, someone in whom you could take a special interest. That youth could be a part of Chain of Lakes or the youth could be someone in your neighborhood.
Think how powerful we at Chain of Lakes would be if every youth had an adult mentor in the church!!
Have you had an experience of mentoring a youth? Please share.
Saturday, June 18
Read Matthew 28:16-20
Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. When they saw him, they worshiped him, but they doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
This story of the Great Commission is a foundational story of the Bible. These are the final words of Jesus to his followers before Jesus ascended into heaven. Jesus commanded those who were with him to go out into the world and to preach the gospel.
This certainly was an Outward Focus. Jesus didn’t want his followers to keep the message about him to themselves. He wanted his followers to share the message with outsiders.
Having an Outward Focus means we focus on personal needs of people who are not part of our congregation, and focus on community or social needs.
To learn the personal needs of people we need to build a relationship with them. By being in relationship with them we communicate how much we care about them.
The Connection Team has talked about each person at Chain of Lakes inviting four friends to our congregation who are outside of the church.
One step to living out this Core Value is to immediately know of these four friends. Do you have four friends who you consistently invite to Chain of Lakes. Please share.