Weekly Devotion
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

BUILT TO LAST | Mission Statement

Built to Last – Mission Statement
 

In our “Built to Last” sermon series this summer, we’ve taken a look at each of CROSSROADS’ core values that our church is built on. Now by putting our core values together, we arrive at CROSSROADS’ Mission Statement: “To reach out in love and acceptance so all may become fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ.” A mission statement answers the question “how?” How are we going to put into action our core values? 

The scripture text for our Mission Statement is Jesus’ Great Commission found in Matthew 28:19-20 “Therefore go 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 I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (NIV). We are to “Reach out in love and acceptance” (Go and make disciples of all nations) “so that all may become devoted followers of Jesus Christ” (Teaching them to obey everything I have commanded). We want to be about reaching out to our community and disciple people to be fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ! This is our mission statement. 

So how can we obey Jesus in accomplishing our mission statement? First, we can reach out in love and acceptance by inviting someone to a CROSSROADS event for example our Block Party coming up this Sunday at the Inver Grove Heights campus and next Sunday at Lakeville. Also, during our everyday conversations with others, we can ask and answer spiritual questions. Finally, we can invite someone to attend a CROSSROADS worship service. 

Second, we can take steps to become fully devoted followers of Jesus. It starts with developing a personal devotional life. A daily quiet time where you read the Bible and pray is the foundation of a vibrant relationship with God. Joining a small group Bible study is vital because Christianity is not a solo endeavor. We are interdependent on each other. We can find a place to serve in ministry. God has given each of us gifts and talents to strengthen the church. We need to be willing to step up and serve others in our giftedness. And finally, God calls us to make a formal commitment to be a church partner. God calls us to make covenants with Him and our brothers and sisters in Christ and a great way to do that is to covenant to be a church partner. Taking these steps puts us on a path leading to being fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ! 
 
Pastor Dan
 

Questions for Reflection:
1. What difference can the concept of “being on mission for God” make in a person’s life?
2. What is one way I can reach out in love and acceptance this week?
3. What is God challenging me to do this week to become more fully devoted to Him?



BUILT TO LAST | Relevance

Built to Last – Relevance

Indeed, the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing until it divides soul from spirit, joints from marrow; it is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. – Hebrews 4:12 NRSV
 
At seminary, they taught us that the bible is a multifaceted text. It’s not a single book, but a library of books. Not only is it a historical text that was written thousands of years ago, but it’s also a modern text. We read the bible in modern day English, not in the original ancient Greek and Hebrew. When we read the word “love” or “freedom” we read it through a capitalist American understanding where we can choose whom we love instead of having to bargain for a marriage. How can it ever be possible that authors from thousands of years ago, in countries thousands of miles away, write scripture that we find relevant today? Does it matter what Jesus was saying about Julius Caesar or is it more important what we think he’s saying about the American Government?
 
When I was a chaplain intern, I realized that the bible is the most important resource in times of trouble. I had met with a patient who had just had a successful surgery where they removed a cancerous tumor. Visiting with him, I realized that he was happy that the surgery was successful but still anxious that it may come back. I asked him for a favorite scripture of his and he mentioned Psalm 23. So, I read that scripture and prayed with him. As I was reading and praying, I could see the tears coming down his face. He was so touched! I could tell that what had happened in that room offered a healing presence. God was there in that moment. 
 
For him, scripture was written for him right there in that situation. There was power in those words. Even though it was written by men thousands of years ago; the Holy Spirit lives and works today in those words. God’s peace dwells within that ink. The healing power of Jesus Christ emanates out of those pages. As a church, we are to declare the relevance of scripture in the midst of a secular age that is in need of Jesus. That’s why we preach sermon series topics because Crossroads Church believes that the Christian faith is relevant and important. 

Mark Schlasner

Questions to Consider
1. Why do you think that some people find Christianity to be irrelevant? 
2. How has scripture helped you during a difficult time?
3. Where do you think the Holy Spirit is most needed today?



BUILT TO LAST | Acceptance

Built to Last – Acceptance
 

Have you ever entered a social gathering and felt unaccepted? Maybe no one came up to talk to you? Maybe you felt ignored. Maybe some seemed to glance at you with a “What is he/she doing here?” look?  Few things are more uncomfortable than feeling unaccepted. It virtually guarantees that you will not want to come back again.  

Did you know God is always accepting toward us? 2 Corinthians 6:2-3 tells us, “For God says, “Your cry came to me at a favorable time, when the doors of welcome were wide open. I helped you on a day when salvation was being offered.” Right now, God is ready to welcome you. Today he is ready to save you. 3We try to live in such a way that no one will ever be offended or kept back from finding the Lord by the way we act, so that no one can find fault with us and blame it on the Lord” (TLB).

This passage can be divided into two parts; God’s accepting attitude toward people (v. 2) and what their response should be toward others (v. 3). God put out the welcome mat for all people. He wants Christians to offer the same welcome mat to others. 

Because God is so accepting of us, He wants us to accept people where they are and enable them to grow in faith. We should remove barriers in us and in our church that keep people from a meaningful relationship with Jesus Christ. We at Crossroads Church never want anyone to leave our worship service feeling that they were unaccepted. Let’s be followers of Jesus who are accepting and welcoming to all people in our lives.
 

Questions for Reflection:

1.    What are some societal barriers that make it challenging for people to reach across to others?

2.    What hinders me from being as accepting of others as Jesus wants me to be?

3.    What step does God want me to take this week to better embody a life of welcome to others so they can be reached for Jesus?

 

– Pastor Dan



BUILT TO LAST | Joy

Built to Last – Joy

Nehemiah 8:10 “Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” (NIV)

Have you wondered why some people seem to experience deep and authentic joy in their daily lives? Others can’t seem to find it no matter how hard they search? Sometimes we forget that joy is available to all of us. As I’ve discovered in my own life, joy is not about your circumstances or about how you feel. Joy is something much deeper, richer, and more accessible. I’ve learned that joy is much more than external things. It’s much more than just a happy feeling that comes every once in a while. The joy that God speaks of in His Word is something you can count on.

Happiness depends on circumstances, but JOY depends on Jesus. That’s the beauty of the joy God offers. We no longer need to live in fear or worry, because God’s joy will always be available to us. We are not dependent on anyone other than God and ourselves to know joy. In other words, whether you realize it or not we are in charge of our joy. The sooner we embrace this reality, the sooner we can begin to live a more joy-filled life. Nehemiah reminded the Israelites to celebrate and remember the joy that God provides as a source of strength to the community. May we all seek the joy of the Lord as our strength. May we share the joy of the Lord in everything we do.

In Christ’s Love and Service,

Pastor Paul
 

Questions to Consider:

1. Why do circumstances sometimes affect our joy?

2. How do we access the joy of the Lord when we are going through difficult times?

3. How can we share the joy of the Lord with others?



BUILT TO LAST | Excellence

Excellence
 
“People were overwhelmed with amazement. ‘He [Jesus] has done everything well.’” Mark 7:37
 
I love this description of Jesus that comes from Mark. It describes Jesus as doing his ministry with excellence. As followers of Christ, this passage should give us great pause. As those seeking to imitate Jesus in every way imaginable, can we say we are doing everything well? Can we say we are doing everything with excellence at work and at home? The fact is that all of us have areas of our lives where we are falling short of Jesus’ excellent standard. I think this is truer today than ever before. Why? 
 
Many of us are overcommitted, overwhelmed, and overstressed, making a millimeter of progress in a million directions because we fail to discern the essential from the nonessential in our work and in our homes. This is a recipe for mediocrity, not excellence, and I would argue the problem is epidemic in the Church today.  Why should we care? Because anything less than excellence falls short of the standard we Christians have been called to. In 1 Corinthians 10:31, Paul writes, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” The late great pastor Dr. James Kennedy used to paraphrase this passage, calling his congregation to “excellence in all things and all things to God’s glory.”  I believe that is the standard we are called to.
 
There are many good reasons to pursue excellence in all things, especially in our chosen work. Excellence in our vocations advances our careers, makes us winsome to the world, grants us influence, and can lead to opportunities to share the gospel. But none of these good things should be the primary motivators for us as we pursue excellence in our work and the other roles God has called us to fulfill in our lives. We pursue excellence for a much more fundamental purpose. We as believers of Jesus should see how excellence best reflects the character of Christ. Excellence helps us to love and serve our neighbors as ourselves. In other words, excellence is our most everyday form of ministry. May you experience excellence within the body of Christ, so you see God glorified. May you inspire others to live a life of excellence by how you live your life.
 
In Christ’s Love and Service,
Pastor Paul
 

Questions to Consider

1. Why do you think God loves excellence?
2. What are some of the barriers we have in our lives to living a life of excellence?
3. How does living a life of excellence inspire others to do the same?



BUILT TO LAST | Compassion

COMPASSION

Mother Teresa, founder of the Order of the Missionaries of Charity, a Roman Catholic congregation of women dedicated to helping the poor, told this story: “One night, a man came to our house to tell me that a Hindu family, a family of eight children, had not eaten anything for days. They had nothing to eat. I took enough rice for a meal and went to their house. I could see the hungry faces, the children with their bulging eyes. The sight could not have been more dramatic! The mother took the rice from my hands, divided it in half and went out. When she came back a little later, I asked her: “Where did you go? What did you do?” She answered, “They are also hungry.” “They” were the people next door, a Muslim family with the same number of children to feed and who did not have any food either. That mother was aware of the situation. She had the courage and the love to share her meager portion of rice with others. In spite of her circumstances, I think she felt very happy to share with her neighbors the little I had taken her. In order not to take away her happiness, I did not take her any more rice that night. I took her some more the following day.”

Mother Teresa is a great example for each of us. God wants us to model Jesus’ servant heart by showing compassion to others. The cool thing is that the woman Mother Teresa helped caught the spirit of compassion and helped another. It’s like compassion is contagious!

How can we have a heart of compassion? It comes from a combination of our personal faith and putting that faith into action by serving others. As God transforms our hearts by His incredible compassion He demonstrated to us by sending His only Son Jesus to die for our sins – making a way for us to be united with Him for eternity, our hearts are so radically changed by God’s compassion so that we cannot help but show compassion to others!

Mathew 9:35-38 says, “Jesus traveled through all the towns and villages of that area, teaching in the synagogues and announcing the Good News about the Kingdom. And he healed every kind of disease and illness. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were confused and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 He said to his disciples, “The harvest is great, but the workers are few. 38 So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields.” (NLT)

We can show compassion to others this Saturday July 4th by coming to the Inver Grove Heights Campus to serve others at the Grocery Giveaway. See you all there!

– Pastor Dan Schauer

Questions to Consider:
1. How does my personal faith in Jesus affect my heart and compassion for others?
2. Has there been a time when I reluctantly went to serve someone in need but ended up having my heart changed as a result of serving?
3. What practical step(s) is God challenging me to take so that I am more compassionate toward others?



BUILT TO LAST | Interdependence

INTERDEPENDENCE

1 Corinthians 12:4-7 “There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit is the source of them all. There are different kinds of service, but we serve the same Lord. God works in different ways, but it is the same God who does the work in all of us. A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other.” (NLT)

Over the past few months we’ve all given each other a pass when it comes to hairstyles. Most of us aren’t hairstylists and we either had to trust a loved one with some clippers or just see how long our hair can grow. I was one of the ones who waited it out and let my hair grow. My wife can’t stand seeing me with long hair, but she wasn’t going to help me get it cut. Thankfully now I saw my hairstylist, got myself a haircut and now my wife is finally happy again.

We’ve really realized how we can’t do things on our own. Whether it comes to getting a haircut or getting a cup of coffee in the morning. We depend so much on one another in our daily lives that you can’t simply live on your own. God created us in such a way that we have to work with one another if we want to accomplish anything. That’s why interdependence is important in ministry. 

We all bring something to ministry. We all bring gifts that have been given to us through the Holy Spirit. There isn’t one of us who isn’t important! Each one of us brings something to the table, and no one should ever feel left out. During this time, if you are struggling with where you are seeing yourself in God’s plan, then please pray and ask God where you can help. There’s a lot of need in this world, and each one of us is tasked to meet that need through the specific skills and talents provided to us by God. May we all be in prayerful reflection this week as to how we can better serve one another and bring glory to God.

Mark Schlasner

Questions to Consider

1. What’s one thing you’ve missed, like a haircut, that you couldn’t provide for yourself? How has it affected you?
2. What are some of your skills or talents that other people enjoy or depend upon?
3. How do you, personally, see interdependence in the world? How do you see it in the church?
4. How are you a part of God’s mission? If you don’t know, then what stops you from prayerfully discerning your role?



BUILT TO LAST | Small Groups

SMALL GROUPS

“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” (Acts 2:42-47 NIV)
 
On a typical week I am a part of 7-8 small groups. Some meet weekly. Some meet twice a month and some meet once a month. Some are very fellowship based and others are based on studying the weekly message topics. Some small groups are ministry minded and we plan activities around tasks to accomplish. Some of my groups are focused on outreach efforts or supporting others. One group is only 3 of us and another is 17. Some are with adults and others are with our youth at church. Each group is unique and is a blessing in my life. 
 
Why am I in so many small groups? What do I get out of them?  I guess I love small groups because I also love Jesus.  We as believers are the body of Christ.  Small groups are Jesus with skin on. Small groups are the church and not a program of the church. Small groups are where I can share my highs and lows, my hurts and dreams, my life with others who care about me. I am in a small group because I want to grow in my faith and my groups challenge me to think and pray more often. They help me discern life differently than I can do on my own. Covid 19 and recent racial inequity discussions have helped me grow as a person through small group dialogue. I have always been in a small group of Christian disciples all my life. My family small group, my Sunday school classes, my youth groups, my college groups, and now my groups at CROSSROADS. 
 
Small Groups are a Core Value at CROSSROADS because God built us to be in community.  We recognize that fact and want every fully devoted follower of Jesus to find a group where they can grow in discipleship. We want everyone to experience the love of Jesus through committed, caring believers. If you are not a part of a small group prayerfully consider finding a place where you can connect with the body of Christ. If you are in a small group, invite others to join you. Let’s continue to form relationships that are built to last.

Pastor Paul Marzahn

Questions to Consider:
 
1. In addition to temple worship, where else did Christians gather? Why do you suppose they gathered in these small groups? What do you think they gained in small groups that they could not gain in larger gatherings? 
 
2. Have you been part of a spiritual small group? Why or why not? If you have been a part of one, what did you enjoy about it?
 
3. What kind of small groups do you think we need at CROSSROADS? Would you be willing to join a small group or start one?



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?