Series: Grounded in Love
Message: Our Circle
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 1:1-14 in the New Testament for Everyone (NTE). Note 1–3 insights or questions.
Reflect: Paul writes, “And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the Gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit” (Verses 13-14).
Jimmy and Tye were two students of mine with an amazing capacity for boredom. They just needed to sit down and be introspective for about 30 seconds before you’d hear them sigh and say, “I’m bored.”
One Sabbath afternoon, we were all sitting in the dorm after lunch when I heard it. “We’re bored. Can we hike up the trail next to the waterfall behind the dorm?”
I answered, “Sure. As long as there are two of you, you guys can run up the mountain behind the dorm.”
About two hours later, Tye came running into the dorm with an urgent look on his face. “Jimmy’s in trouble. He fell into the river and can’t get out!”
A bunch of us launched into action and ran up the side of the mountain along the waterfall until we found Jimmy.
As it turned out, he was trying to leap from boulder to boulder when he had slipped off one of the rocks and tumbled into the water. At some point, when he had tried to stand up in the powerful frigid water, his leg had lodged between some rocks and one of the bones had broken. Now he was stuck in the middle of the river with ice cold water running over his body. It wasn’t good.
I can still remember his mournful cry that afternoon. “Help! Save me!”
It actually took a while to save Jimmy. It took some EMT rescue workers, a lot of ropes, a mountain gurney, and many willing volunteers to dislodge his leg from the rock, pull him out of the water, and carry him down the mountain to safety.
One thing is for sure: Jimmy knew that he was in trouble. Jimmy knew that he needed saving.
There comes a time in every person’s life when they realize they are not able to save themself. There is a realization that they are incapable of overcoming, incapable of conquering their demons, incapable of becoming the person they are striving to be. We all come to the place of crying out, “Lord, save me!”
In this time of life desperation, God saves. Always. In our rescue, God reminds us of who we are in Christ. That we are included, chosen, wanted, and needed. He reminds us that we are destined for heaven. When we come back from the far country there is dancing, dining, and the killing of the fatted soybean. God is our Rock, our Rescuer, and our Salvation.
Recalibrate: Has there been a time in your life when you needed rescue? How has that been an illustration of God’s saving in your life?
Respond: Meditate on the promise that God will save you when you cry out. If there is an element of your life that has put you in danger, cry out to God for His salvation.
Research: Read this article about a miraculous rescue. Find ways to apply it to your salvation.
Remember: “Bring praise to God’s glory” (Ephesians 1:14, 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.
Try fogging up a mirror or window with your breath. Show your little one how to do it. Draw a love heart in the foggy part. Talk about how your breath did this. Show your child how to hold their hand in front of their mouth so they can feel their breath. Show how you can close your mouth and breathe out and feel that same breath come out through your nose. With every breath you take today, make something lovely with it. Ask your little one what they think “lovely” is?
Work on memorizing The Words to Remember for this week (“Bring praise to God's glory," Ephesians 1:14.) It is the middle of the week today. Think about what your favorite day of the week is. Why is that day your favorite? Ask a friend or parent what day is their favorite, and ask them why as well. Many people like different days for different reasons. What do you think God would say His favorite day is? As we keep thinking this week about the blessings of God, we remember we get to share the blessings He gives us. Take time today to count up the many blessings God has given you.
There is a word that Paul uses to describe God’s grace: Lavish. It means “to be given in great amounts.” God forgives us more than we deserve. Think about it this way: You got bad grades, broke the window with a baseball, didn’t walk the dog and ripped holes in the knees of your jeans. Every day. For a year! Instead of being mad or even grumpy, your parents give you gifts! That’s how God treats us. We mess up all the time, but He continues to bless us and lavish us with grace and forgiveness.
What is the greatest gift you have ever received? Someone might be thinking, “Oh, but of course, the gift of life.” And yes, I cannot argue that life is a fantastic gift, but what is something that was given to you that impacted you in a special way? For my first birthday I received a box. It was a big box, and so what do you do with big boxes? You sit on them. However, little did I know that inside this box was something even greater. Yet I was satisfied, as a one-year-old, by simply sitting on top of this box. It took some time for my parents, aunts, and uncles to coax me off the box. And once they did, they helped me unpack it. Inside the box, I found something greater than a cardboard box—a bright red, plastic fire truck! This fire truck was so much better than any box and if I hadn’t unpacked the box I wouldn’t have ever had the chance to play with the fire truck. God has given us a gift, an inheritance. An invitation to experience life abundantly. There is no return receipt and no return policy. It is ours forever. Now it is up to us whether or not we want to unpack this gift and use it and experience an abundant life here on earth, or if we want to keep this gift boxed up. Will you choose today to open God’s gift of salvation and embrace the life He is offering?
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.