Weekly Devotion
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

THE AFTERMATH | Overcoming Tragedy

Job 27:1-4 NKJV
1“Moreover Job continued his discourse, and said: 2As God lives, who has taken away my justice, And the Almighty, who has made my soul bitter, 3As long as my breath is in me, And the breath of God in my nostrils, 4My lips will not speak wickedness, Nor my tongue utter deceit.”
 
It’s interesting to see how the book of Job starts in ch.1. We read that it is God who initiates the conversation with Satan about Job. It isn’t Satan who comes to God and asks to test Job. So why would a loving God do such a thing?
 
God knows the beginning from the end and is not surprised by anyone or anything. I believe the LORD knew how Job would respond and persevere through this, so He was not worried at all about His servant Job. So, if we are going through something difficult, we trust that God knows how we will respond, and He has a plan for that. We can take comfort that the LORD is all of eternity ahead of us, not just a day or a week, but all of eternity and He is able to guide us and help us.
 
Also, God was actually trying to bless Job, not just test him. We know that in the end Job gets double back for his troubles (Job 42:10). Of course, in our lives it’s difficult to see the blessing at the end when we’re in the middle of a tragedy. But, let us remember that what we go through is not just for our benefit but for the benefit of others and to glorify God.
 
The life of a true follower/disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ is one of trust through relationship. He says, “trust Me and know that I Am God.” So how can we trust someone we don’t know? We can’t! Our ability to overcome tragedy starts with knowing Jesus; having an intimate relationship with Him, not just head knowledge, so we will be able to trust Him in times of trouble. It isn’t about trying to figure it out or trying to guess what God is up to. So many think we can understand Him, but He never asks us to figure it out or guess what He’s doing. For it is impossible to understand Him (Isa 55:8-9) “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways, “says the LORD, for as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts higher than your thoughts.” I know 2 things for sure: there is a God and I’m not Him!
 
Job repented, at the end of the book in Ch.42, for uttering what he did not understand. Many times, Job said and believed things out of his ignorance about himself and the true nature of God. But even in the midst of his confusion he did not curse God or give up on Him. (Job 2:10) “But he said to his wife, “You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God and shall we not accept adversity?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips.

Can we say that about our lives in our walk with Jesus?

Jason Oehrlein

 
Questions to Consider

1. What questions do you have about God’s nature? Do you pray and ask Him to show you His true nature?
 
2. What keeps you from trusting Jesus when there is adversity in your life?
 
3. In what areas of your life do you still not trust Jesus? Are you willing to confess that lack of trust and ask for God’s help in those areas?



THE AFTERMATH | Roller Coaster Rhythms

Roller Coaster Rhythms
 
1 Kings 19:3-6 (NIV Translation) Elijah was afraid[a] and ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, 4 while he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness. He came to a broom bush, sat down under it, and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.” Then he lay down under the bush and fell asleep. All at once an angel touched him and said, “Get up and eat.” 6 He looked around, and there by his head was some bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water. He ate and drank and then lay down again.
 
We learn early on in life that there are wins and losses. We start competing at a young age to get in a sports team or get first chair in band. We learn the sweet taste of victory and the bitter taste of defeat.  These days there are more losses than wins. Loss of jobs, loss of social life, loss of loved ones, loss of financial stability. We start to feel helpless and feel like we’ll fail no matter how hard we try. It can be so overwhelming that we want to quit. Through the prophet Elijah, God tells us that it’s normal to feel that way.
 
You might have heard the term “self-care” a lot recently. Self-care is a generic term used to describe any activity we do to take care of our mental, emotional, and physical health. In 1 Kings 19, we see Elijah scared because his life was threatened. We see how God encouraged Elijah to rest by sending an angel to make him food. The angel didn’t tell him to get over it and wake up, but simply said “get up and eat.” There are more times than normal where all we do is sleep and eat. It can feel gross and shameful being so unproductive, but God tells us it’s okay. There are times where things are so overwhelming that it’s okay to get nothing done but sleep and eat. We need to take care of ourselves, but only in a way that is fulfilling and encouraging. 
 
So, if you ever find yourself going through a day without being productive, just tell yourself it’s okay. Even Elijah needed a day where he didn’t do anything. In times where our lives seem totally out of our control, the one thing that we are in control of is our own mental and spiritual health. I’d encourage you to find what fills your spirit. Maybe it’s through listening to praise music or drawing something (even if all you can draw are stick figures). Find something to do that is for no one else but yourself. It’s important because you’re important. Mark Schlasner 
Questions to Consider:
 
1. What are some ways you take care of your mental and spiritual health? 

2. What is your week like when you don’t do that activity?

3. Has there ever been a time where you needed a self-care day to focus on your own health? If so, how did you feel afterwards?

4. What word of encouragement would you give someone struggling during this pandemic? Also, what word of encouragement do you need right now?



THE AFTERMATH | May Madness!

Ruth 1:16-22 New International Version (NIV)
16 But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. 17 Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.” 
 
I graduated from Archbishop Brady High School (Now St. Croix Lutheran High School) in West St. Paul, MN. A musical group called, The Clash, released a song that we dubbed, “our senior class theme song”. The song was, “Should I Stay or Should I Go?”. We were a close group (only 64 students in our graduating class). We were all pretty much in agreement that graduation would be a bitter-sweet experience for us. We were caught in the quandary between leaving the life we know and embarking on something unknown. We struggled with leaving our friends, many admired teachers, extracurricular activities, and the protection of living at home or the excitement of all the possibilities life could bring after high school.  After graduation we were looking forward to gainful employment, college or trade school, new relationships, and most likely moving away from home. The sadness of change versus the excitement of what was yet to come. Thus, the question, “Should I stay, or should I go”? 
 
This Sunday, Mother’s Day, I am excited to give the message for our worship service because the story from the Bible is one of my absolute favorites. It is the story of Naomi, Ruth, and Boaz. The story begins with Naomi, her husband Elimelek, and their two sons Mahlon and Kilion, who leave their home in Bethlehem during a time of severe famine. They settle in a town called Moab and within 10 years, the two sons marry, Elimelek dies, and then the two sons die! The now widowed, childless Naomi tells her two daughters-in-law that they must each return to their families because she is unable to provide for them and because she will leave Moab to return to Bethlehem. One daughter-in-law kisses Naomi goodbye and leaves, but the other, called Ruth, stays by Naomi’s side, and tells her she will never leave her. It was never a question for Ruth of “should I stay, or should I go?”. Ruth was loyal and she was open to the challenges that life would bring as a widow and caretaker of another widow. And then enters a man named Boaz! 
 
May the story of Ruth teach us to trust God and trust others more fully.  May we learn from Boaz how to care for the poor and vulnerable around us. May we understand how God can use both big and little things to accomplish His great plans. May we all recognize Jesus as our true Kinsman Redeemer.

Pastor Deb Marzahn

 
Questions to Consider:
 
1. Is there a time when you have had to relocate somewhere? What adjustments did you have to make?
 
2. Have you ever had someone help you move? What did you appreciate about the help?
 
3. Have you ever had to rely on someone else for financial support? What were the circumstances? Have you ever given someone financial support? How did that make you feel?
 
4. Who is our true redeemer?  What is your relationship like with the ultimate “kinsmen redeemer?” How do you put your trust in Him?



THE AFTERMATH | Pandemic Exile

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Jeremiah 29:11 NIV
 
We are in the midst of a pandemic and this crisis is beginning to change. Crisis moments call for strong, decisive action. We all want to know that someone is in charge and things are being managed. But once the initial crisis calms, a period of disorientation sets in as we find our way to a new normal. The resolute leadership style that worked well during the initial crisis won’t work well in this ongoing unsettled space. “Stay at home” does not work forever.
 
We are now in a “liminal season”, stuck between an ending and a new beginning. The word liminal literally means threshold. Now, we have no choice but to let go of the old normal. We occupy space on both sides of a threshold. One foot is rooted in something trying to end; another is planted in a thing not yet defined, something waiting to begin. We cling to structures, identities and relationships formed by our old experiences, although we know that those processes and practices will not serve us adequately moving forward. It would be a mistake to shore up the old structures and practices as things get “back to normal.” We need to take advantage of this moment to let old things die, to experiment, to take risks and learn.
 
The way we “did church” even two months ago is done. We have been asked by our government to not gather for worship in our buildings. We can reassure ourselves by pretending the disruption is temporary. As Pastor Dan and I preached on Sunday, no one knows what normal looks like after sheltering in place. Likely, we will resume many familiar things, but congregational life will not be the same. Some will be disoriented and confused. Some will fear coming back to corporate worship. There will continue to be grief and struggles with finances. 
 
I believe that this new season of change requires a different approach to our thinking and feeling. Our actions and responses must originate from a Spiritual center. We are called during this season to be less busy and more yielding. More than ever, I believe God is calling us to surrender. To surrender does not mean giving up or giving in. It does not mean we languish or grow lazy. It is quite the opposite. It means we lean into the disorientation and trust the leading of the Holy Spirit. Striving, rather than surrendering, was the mood of the first season of this crisis. Striving is the act of working harder and longer to prove mastery, merit and worth. Through our hard work and determination, pastors and leadership figured out how to put church online. We toiled to demonstrate our care for people when we could not physically be present with them. We dropped off blessing bags and made phone calls. We learned new ways to connect with those in need. We set up Zoom meetings for small groups and had socially distanced events like our Easter Drive-in worship. We emphasized online giving via the website and texting. CROSSROADS leaders have done good industrious work. They have continued to be the church and offer hope to our community. 
 
This next season requires adaptive learning.  Learning begins with surrender. I acknowledge that I don’t have answers. I yield my spirit to God’s leading and invite the CROSSROADS family to do the same. In our Scripture passage from the prophet Jeremiah, we see hope and encouragement. The chosen people of God have been defeated by Babylon’s army and are taken into captivity. They know someday they will return to their land. Meanwhile they live in a liminal season getting used to the New Normal. Yet in the midst of their exile, Jeremiah reminds them that God is still with them and God has a plan for them. Those same words still ring true for us in our pandemic exile. May we continue to remember that God is with us. May we always seek out God’s plan for our lives. May all of us use this liminal space and time to surrender our will to God.
 
In Christ’s Love and Service,
Pastor Paul Marzahn 
 

Questions to Consider:

1. What is one “new normal” you are experiencing? How has this change affected you or those around you?

2. How does one experience peace during a pandemic? How can we draw closer to God during this time?

3. What does it mean to surrender to God during this liminal season? How can we still be productive and effective during this season?



THE AFTERMATH | New Normal

New Normal

Ezra 3:12-13 “But many of the older priests, Levites, and other leaders who had seen the first Temple wept aloud when they saw the new Temple’s foundation. The others, however, were shouting for joy. The joyful shouting and weeping mingled together in a loud noise that could be heard far in the distance.” (NLT)
 
Jerusalem and the Temple had been destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 BC. They took the Jews to Babylon where they would remain in exile for 70 years. Then the king decreed that the Jews could return to their homeland. When the Jews returned to Jerusalem, they started work on rebuilding the Temple. There was rejoicing when the foundation was completed. But the older Jews, who remembered the original Temple, started weeping because they could see the New Temple would be inferior to the original. 
 
The aftermath of this pandemic will be similar to the mixed emotions experienced by the Jewish exiles. As we start to return to “normal”, things will be different than before. There will be much rejoicing as people begin to resume familiar routines and activities. We will celebrate being able to congregate at church again!  But at the same time, there will be sadness and weeping. The isolation of “sheltering at home” will affect us in unknown ways. Many will still be fearful and anxious. Some will feel disconnected because they’re unable to show affection by shaking hands and giving hugs. Widespread economic hardships could follow with many businesses unable to reopen and workers having no jobs to return to. People will long in their hearts for the pre-virus world that is now part of history.   
 
How can we as followers of Jesus be prepared to respond to this new normal? We can pray that God can use us to bring the Good News of Jesus to a world experiencing mixed emotions. To the rejoicing, may we remind them that this is a time to offer thanks to God who brought us through the pandemic. To the weeping, may we bring comfort, hope, and new life that comes only from Jesus. The aftermath will soon be upon us.  May we, with the power of the Holy Spirit, seize this opportunity to affect many for the kingdom of God! 

Pastor Dan Schauer

 
Questions to Consider:

  1. How will you rejoice and worship God as we begin to return to a new normal?
  1. What are some ways God has gifted me to minister to those who will mourn?
  1. In what way can I shine a light to the future to those around me in the aftermath of this pandemic?

 



THE AFTERMATH | It’s Still Easter

It’s Still Easter
 
“And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20)
 
In a pandemic world, many of us are afraid; we are afraid for our finances; we are afraid for our health. Some of are even afraid of their neighbors.  A recent phenomenon has occurred that is not reported on as much as the toilet paper crisis. It is the gun and ammunition crisis. Gun shop owners are also with empty shelves. People are purchasing them out of fear. 
 
I am not an anti-gun advocate. Many of you reading this are aware that I own several guns. I inherited them from my grandfather and father and also purchased one for my son.  Growing up out on the farm, guns were part of life. We used our guns for hunting and sport target practice. We used them to kill wild animals that would attack our sheep or cattle. They were not purchased out of fear of our neighbors. Yet in today’s world some are purchasing weapons out of fear.
 
Jesus understood fear and that is why he reminded his followers that love can overcome fear.  Our last words when we say goodbye to someone matter.  We tend to remember a final phrase more than anything else.  Jesus wanted his disciples to be assured he wasn’t leaving for good, and that they did not need to be afraid because He would remain with them in Spirit, even though his body was returning to heaven to be with His Father. Jesus wanted to reassure them that they were not alone. He would journey with them to the very end of their lives until they would join Him, together in heaven. 
 
We have this same opportunity to accept the words of Jesus and remember we do not need to be afraid. We need not fear because Jesus will be with us until the end of the age. We can feel a sense of peace and hope because Jesus reassures us that death does not have the last word. May we live into our faith rather than our fears this Easter season. May we envision an eternity with Jesus, so we never forget “It’s Still Easter”.
 
Questions to Consider:
1. What is one Easter tradition you or your family celebrate? What changed this year?
2. Where have you experienced the presence of Jesus this Easter season? Have you been able to experience Peace during the Pandemic? Why or why not? 
3. Hope is all around. Where have you seen signs of hope recently?



Easter Hope

 

Easter Hope
 
“Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance….Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her.”  John 20:1, 18 NIV
 
Plot twists are great. In movies, when we find out a family connection (‘Luke, I am your father!’), or even when the mask is removed and we discover the real culprit of a crime (‘And I would have gotten away with it too, if it weren’t for you meddling kids and your dog too). Something hidden is revealed, and it’s a great relief.  The Easter story is a plot twist beyond compare. What was hidden to some was revealed. What was known to others was confirmed.
 
Rabbi Jesus had led a rag-tag band of 12 followers for three years and ushered in the Kingdom of God in their presence. He taught them to love God and their neighbors as themselves. He demonstrated how to heal and do miracles. They recognized Jesus not as an ordinary Rabbi but as Messiah but as Peter proclaimed him “The Son of God.” Yet their leader was beaten, tried, crucified and buried. They were left devastated and alone. Their world was shaken.
 
Yet God had the last word. He shook the world by rolling away the stone of a sealed tomb. Mary Magdalene shared that Jesus was resurrected to continue his message of HOPE; the hope that death could not contain the love of God. God’s message through Jesus is more than just a plot twist story from history. It is a faith we can build our lives around. It offers HOPE even over the past, that our mistakes, and our failures, are not greater than God’s power to transform. HOPE for the present that we are loved and that we have purpose. HOPE for the future that God will see us through this shaken world of the pandemic virus.  Jesus brings the message of HOPE through his resurrection. May we embrace Jesus as the living HOPE this Easter.
 
In Christ’s Love and Service,
 
Pastor Paul
 

Questions to Consider:
 
1. What is one of your favorite plot twists from a movie or book? What made it such a surprise?
 
2. Jesus shook the world by dying on the cross. What is shaking in your world right now? What things seem to be falling apart?
 
3.The resurrection of Jesus brought HOPE to his followers. Where are you experiencing HOPE in your life? What are stories of HOPE you are seeing in the lives of others?
 
 



PALM TO PASSION Sunday

03-31-2020 – Palm to Passion Sunday
 
““Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.””
John 14:1-4 NIV
 
As we approach Holy Week we are celebrating this Sunday with what is known as a Palm to Passion worship experience. Some churches celebrate Palm Sunday and then celebrate different worship services throughout the week commemorating the final events in the life of Jesus Christ. Other churches like CROSSROADS combine all the final events of Christ into one Sunday. Since we are not able to come to special services during Holy Week, everyone is able to see the final events in the life of Christ within the Sunday experience. Together in worship we will celebrate Jesus’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem riding on a donkey. Since you will most likely be watching from home this year, we would encourage families to either make their own palm branches or if they stop by the church we will have some outside in the planters people may take. Palm branches will be available for pick up Friday after 6:00 pm through Sunday morning’s service time (9:30). We will be singing two Hosanna songs Sunday and would encourage people to wave their branches wherever they are. You may even wave them from your deck or front porch. Post a video on social media reminding others it is Palm Sunday.

We sing Hosanna and wave palm branches during this part of worship reminding us that Christ is the King.  We will experience together Jesus with his disciples in the upper room where they celebrated the Passover Seder and then we will celebrate with communion in remembrance of this meal.  For those who would like to participate in a time of communion remembrance at home, we will have a time of prayer and encourage people to use bread and water (instead of grape juice) from your home. This follows an earlier Wesleyan tradition known as a “Love Feast” where laity would share in a ritual similar to communion without a priest present to bless the elements.
 
We will also re-live the passion scene of Jesus being beaten, sentenced and crucified set to pictures.  (It is somewhat graphic so if you have young children you may choose to end the service with the closing Scripture and not play the closing song – we will give a verbal warning before we play it.) Although the worship service ends with the death of Jesus, we are reminded of the hope of the resurrection that is to come. Pastor Paul, Pastor Deb, Pastor Dan and Pastor Mark will all be leading worship together from the Lakeville Campus with Lynn Suilmann and the praise team doing live music. We will be encouraging people to sing at home, and we will be streaming the lyrics on screen along with the music. 
 
Holy Week we are setting up a virtual “Stations of the Cross.”  We will do it “live” on Wednesday evening for those who would like to go through it together. We will also video tape the “Stations of the Cross Experience” so people can go through the stations anytime leading up to Easter morning.  We are still making plans for Easter Sunday by continuing to follow best safety protocols and yet celebrating the Resurrection of Jesus. We are considering an outdoor service where people stay in their cars spaced out in the parking lot. Some churches have been worshiping this way throughout the country. We would appreciate your feedback if you think this a good idea or not.
 
Jesus spent his final hours with his disciples before being crucified. In an upper room eating supper, he shared words to try to encourage them. He wanted them to know that no matter what happened he loved them. He wanted them to not be afraid or troubled. That is the same prayer Pastor Deb and I have for you. We want you to know we are praying for you daily and love you very much. We pray that you do not give into a spirit of fear but instead rely on your faith during these difficult times. May you continue to remember the promises of Jesus so we can be assured that we know we are going to a place prepared for us when he calls us home.
 
In Christ’s Love and Service,
Pastor Paul Marzahn



BLESS THE WORLD | Sent

03-24-2020 – Blessing and Not Stressing
 
“Don’t be afraid, I’ve redeemed you. I’ve called your name. You’re mine. When you’re in over your head, I’ll be there with you. When you’re in rough waters, you will not go down. When you’re between a rock and a hard place, it won’t be a dead end— Because I am GOD, your personal God, The Holy of Israel, your Savior. I paid a huge price for you”: (Isaiah 43:1-2 Message)
 

I have read this passage for years and meditated upon it and quoted it in difficult situations. It is a reminder to me that God is with me in my struggles and not to be overwhelmed. It became personal for me in January when I went snowshoeing on the pond behind our house.  As I shared the following Sunday in worship, I was on Facebook live and encouraging others to get outside their homes to enjoy the fine January snowstorm. As I was talking, I suddenly fell through the ice. I dropped my phone and I put my arms out to catch myself.  I realized I was about to be pulled under and would probably drown. I literally was in over my head and holding myself up by my arms and losing my grip. Time seemed to stand still as I cried out to God. Right away I heard God tell me I would be ok, and a sense of peace and calm came over me. I remembered that I had nails in my winter coat pocket thanks to ice fisherman Pastor Gordon Deuel who shared with me the importance of carrying them when Ice Fishing. I was then able to use those nails to help claw my way out of the water and pull myself on top of the ice.  The walk back home was extremely cold, but I was grateful to have survived. I thank God for the verse ringing in my mind “when you’re in over your head, I’ll be with you.”
 

Many of us are feeling overwhelmed right now. I have been praying with business leaders who feel like they are drowning. Some of us physically and some of us emotionally feel like we are in over our heads. We have been delivering food and supplies to families who are feeling extreme stress. Kids home from school are going stir crazy and parents are now being asked to be home school instructors. People are feeling the pressure. Some are experiencing health worries and others financial worries. It seems as though worries are closing in on us. But worry isn’t productive. In fact, it’s a failure to trust God. The word worry comes from an Old English term that means “strangle” or “choke.” That is what worry does. It chokes us. Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow; it empties today of its strength.
 
Modern medical research has proven that worry breaks down our resistance to disease. A research team led by Carnegie Mellon University’s Sheldon Cohen has found that chronic psychological stress is associated with the body losing its ability to regulate the inflammatory response. It actually affects the nervous system, and more specifically, breaks down the digestive organs and the heart. In fact, 79 to 90 percent of all visits to primary care physicians may be stress related. Stress and anxiety in our life can actually contribute to the spread of Covid-19 virus.
 
My wife, Pastor Deb, reminded me that “worry is the advanced interest we pay on troubles that may never come to fruition.” Studies have found that 85% of the things we worry about never happen. This means that of all the things you’re worrying about right now, 85% of it won’t happen. But what about the other 15 percent? That is when we can turn to God and allow him to help us in our time of need.
 
“Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.” (Philippians 4:6-7 MSG)
 
The Apostle Paul reminds us to turn our worries into prayer. That requires developing a conditioned reflex. We all have natural reflexes, like when we touch something hot and immediately pull back. Then there’s a conditioned reflex, something that becomes natural after we’ve done it so many times.  We can’t control our world or circumstances, but we certainly can pray about it.  The next time we’re tempted to worry, let’s pray instead. During this stressful time, let us turn our worries into prayers. The next time we are stressed, let’s bless others. When we serve and give it takes the focus off of us. When we are blessing others, our stresses get released. May we all look at ways we may bless instead of stress this week.
 
In Christ’s Love and Service,
Pastor Paul Marzahn
 

Questions to Consider:
 
1. Would you consider yourself to be a person who worries? On an average day, how often do you dwell on things that you have no control over?
 
2. What do you typically worry about? (relationships, career, health, etc.) 
What negative effects has worrying caused you?
 
3. Ask God to reveal His truth to you over the next few days in regard to worry. What can you give to God in prayer today?
 
 



BLESS THE WORLD | Eat

BLESS THE WORLD | Eat

Luke 19:5 “When Jesus came by, He looked up at Zacchaeus and called him by name. ‘Zacchaeus!’ He said. ‘Quick, come down! I must be a guest in your home today.’”

Zaccheus wanted to see Jesus so he climbed up a tree to view Jesus walking by. Jesus spotted him and invited himself over to dinner. Why did Jesus want to eat with Zacchaeus? He wanted Zacchaeus to know He accepted him. Jesus signaled to Zacchaeus that He wanted to build a relationship with him. A meal was a symbol of social acceptance and friendship. Jesus blessed Zacchaeus over a meal.

Meals together are still a blessing. Eating together is less popular in modern culture
-46 % of Americans eat dinner alone
-37% eat while on the phone
-52% eat while working

But studies show that meals with friends and family are good for the soul – and even your health. People of all ages eat better when they share a meal with others. They tend to eat more fruits and vegetables and other nutrient-rich foods. They also eat less fried foods and drink less pop. Eating together gives young children the chance to learn more words and how to communicate better.

Other benefits for kids and teens include:
-healthier eating into adulthood
-healthier body weight
-lower risk of disordered eating
-less use of cigarettes, drugs, and alcohol
-fewer behavior problems
-better self-esteem and less depression
-better grades and higher scores on achievement tests at school

Take time this week to bless someone by taking time to eat with them. Invite someone over to your home or take someone out to lunch. May you be a blessing this week to others over a meal. May we all bless each other this Sunday, March 15th as we share in a “Pot-Blessing” after worship. Bring a dish to share and enjoy food and fellowship this Sunday.

In Christ’s Love and Service,
Pastor Paul