Series: Grounded in Love
Message: Our Church
Preacher: Japhet De Oliveira
Reflection: Mark Witas
Live Wonder: Zan Long
Live Adventure: Jenniffer Ogden
Live Beyond: Andrew Jones
Live Purpose: Emily Ellis
Editor: Becky De Oliveira
Refresh: Begin with prayer. Ask for the Holy Spirit to open your heart to new understanding and for God’s character to be revealed.
Read: Ephesians 3:1-21 in the English Standard Version (ESV). Note 1–3 insights or questions.
Reflect: Ephesians 3:20–21 says, “Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”
My best childhood friend was a next-door neighbor named Tim. I met Tim in 1967 when my family migrated from Southern California to our new Seattle-area neighborhood. Our kindergarten year cemented our friendship as a deep bond that would last for many years.
Tim and I did everything together, for good and for bad. The bad, without going into detail, led us both down a path into substance abuse. When I was in my early 20s, I came to Christ and, through the power of the Holy Spirit, was freed from the bad habits that I had formed so many years earlier. Tim did not follow me down this path.
One of the saddest days of my life was the day that Tim’s wife and kids called me to come help them move. They were being evicted from their apartment. Tim had been gone for three days and was on a roll (partying with his drug of choice, crack cocaine) and they had to be out of the apartment that day. I went over with my truck and a couple of kids from my youth group to help out. When I got there, Tim had wandered in. He was laying in his living room (all 280 pounds of him) in his underwear, a fan blowing in his beet red face. He was barely alive.
I ended up sitting in the living room with him, his head on my lap, running my fingers through his hair to calm him down. Finally, when I was able to talk so that he could respond, I said, “Tim, you are one of the most loved people I know. Everybody loves you. You walk into the room and everybody’s mood lifts. You have so many gifts, so many talents. There’s nothing that you can’t be or do.”
His response broke me. “Mark, that’s not true. The only thing I know how to do is sell drugs and take drugs. That’s the only thing I’m good at. That’s the only thing I’m good for. I don’t think I can do anything else.” Tim believed the lie.
It was just a few months later that Tim’s sister Carole called me with the sad news of Tim’s overdose and death.
It didn’t have to be this way. It really didn’t. God’s promise, His miracle, is that when given the opportunity, He can change the inner man and the outer man. He can cleanse and heal and redeem and empower any human being who responds to His call. The Holy Spirit has power to conquer all of our demons, all of our self-destructive habits, and all of our self-doubt. He is able. That’s the truth! All we have to do, is hand Him our junk and, in return, He will hand us a crown. A victory crown. He is able to do more than we can ask or imagine.
Recalibrate: Spend time in thought identifying one thing in your life that keeps defeating you. Why do you think it’s so hard for you to hand it to God and let Him deal that thing a death blow? Why do all humans seem to have something that holds them back?
Respond: Thank God each day for the victory He has promised you. Have faith that His good timing will carry you through.
Research: God sometimes uses people to help us break bad or establish good habits. Here’s an interesting article on habits.
Remember: “The heavenly world will know God’s wisdom” (Ephesians 3:10, ICB).
Mark Witas is the lead pastor for the Sunnyside Seventh-day Adventist Church in Portland, Oregon. He is a regular contributor to the Daily Walk.
Share this creation video from The Bible App for Kids, an interactive storytelling app available for your devices. Ask your little one to name the things they see in the video: oceans, fish, sky, stars, land, animals. Talk about how clever God was to make the homes first and then fill those homes with living things. God knows where everything is supposed to be because He made everything. If you are feeling a little lost or out of place, know that God knows where you belong and knows how to get you there. Your home is with Him, as it was in the very beginning.
It was the end of church and I was walking out to say goodbye to people in our church lobby. One woman was sitting alone in a pew, crying. I stopped and gave her a hug and held on far longer than I normally do. I still don’t know why she was crying, but I got a card later that thanked me for stopping and for the hug. Sometimes people we know have really hard days. Maybe you know someone who needs a good long hug, or a friend to listen to them, or a friend to bring ice cream by their house. Think about who at your church could use some encouragement today and take time to do something that will let them know someone cares for them!
Being noticed feels great. Being accepted feels amazing. We all know what it feels like to be liked and be a part of a group. Today, try to show gratitude to those people who accept you and notice you. Think about who does this in your life: Your teacher, your parents, your siblings, your friends—maybe it’s even the bus driver. Be sure to thank them for making you feel good and tell them that you appreciate and enjoy the feeling of acceptance.
We are more powerful than we think or might even believe simply because we are children of God. And everything changes once we believe that. One summer while I was the girls director at summer camp, there were two girls crying about how things were going. I had been noticing as the week progressed that these two girls had been having a rough time and were pretty closed off, so naturally I came swooping in to the rescue and asked them what was wrong. We sat down and they both expressed how they felt that everyone was judging them and that they did not feel accepted. They went on to share stories of their struggles and how their family wasn’t accepting them. We all hugged each other and cried. I told them that I accepted them but more than that, there is a Father in Heaven who loves them not despite but because of their brokenness. After this conversation, their demeanor changed. They walked confidently and they started to actually enjoy camp! Once they started to genuinely believe that they were accepted and loved by those working at camp, and by God, they began to act differently. We experience the life-changing power of God when we believe we are who He says we are. There is no telling what He can do through you!
Zan Long is GRC director for faith development groups. She lives in Sydney, Australia, and serves at her local church in nearby Kellyville.
Jenniffer Ogden serves as the children and family pastor at the Walla Walla University Church in College Place, Washington.
Andrew Jones teaches grades seven and eight at Vista Ridge Academy in Erie, Colorado. He is originally from Oregon and attends Boulder Church.
Emily Ellis is a junior studying theology at Walla Walla University and interning at the Eastgate Seventh-day Adventist Church.