He Has Done All Things Well


Then he returned from the region of Tyre and went through Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, in the region of the Decapolis. And they brought to him a man who was deaf and had a speech impediment, and they begged him to lay his hand on him. And taking him aside from the crowd privately, he put his fingers into his ears, and after spitting touched his tongue. And looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, Ephphatha, that is, “Be opened.” And his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. And Jesus charged them to tell no one. But the more he charged them, the more zealously they proclaimed it. And they were astonished beyond measure, saying, “He has done all things well. He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.” Mark 7:31-37

Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened,
and the ears of the deaf unstopped;
then shall the lame man leap like a deer,
and the tongue of the mute sing for joy.
For waters break forth in the wilderness,
and streams in the desert;
the burning sand shall become a pool,
and the thirsty ground springs of water;
in the haunt of jackals, where they lie down,
the grass shall become reeds and rushes. Isaiah 35:5-7 ESV


There was a man named Muharrem who lived in Turkey and was hearing impaired. He couldn’t talk with people by listening and making words with his mouth, but instead he used his hands to talk with sign language, and was able to understand others by looking at them if they used sign language. Muharrem couldn’t communicate very well with people who didn’t know sign language, because they couldn’t talk to him in a way he understood and they couldn’t understand what he wanted to say to them. But one day many people in his neighborhood had a surprise for him. They all learned some sign language, and when he went out with his sister, people talked with him in his own language. A man on the street wished him a good morning. The clerk at the bakery told him that there were hot bagels available. A man at the market offered him an apple. A woman on the street apologized for bumping into him. A taxi driver welcomed him into the taxi. Muharrem was no longer isolated from his neighbors, and it made him very happy.

Jesus returned to the Decapolis, where he had earlier healed a man who was oppressed by many demons, and had sent the demons into a herd of pigs. The people there had been very frightened and had begged Jesus to leave, but Jesus had sent the man he had healed home to his family and friends. Now when Jesus came back to the Decapolis, the people welcomed him. They brought a man to him who couldn’t hear or speak, and they believed that Jesus could help this man. Jesus touched the man’s ears and his tongue and said, “Be opened,” and right away the man was able to hear and to talk. He became able to communicate with his family and friends and the people in his community. Everyone was amazed and said that Jesus had done everything well!

We are all isolated from God and cut off from each other because of sin. We aren’t able to reach God or to hear what he has to tell us, and so often the things we say to other people or the things they say to us hurt us because of selfishness or hatefulness or just misunderstanding. But Jesus came to break down the barriers of sin. He died on the cross to open the way back to our Heavenly Father, and he sends us his Holy Spirit to help us to hear and understand God’s word to us. He gives us love to help us understand and care about other people and to speak in ways that are helpful and not hurtful. Jesus has done all things well for us and for the whole world!


Dear Jesus, thank you for breaking down the barriers of sin in our lives. Amen.



The Prayers of All Peoples


And Jesus went away from there and withdrew to the district of Tyre and Sidon. And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and was crying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon.” But he did not answer her a word. And his disciples came and begged him, saying, “Send her away, for she is crying out after us.” He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” And he answered, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly. Matthew 15:21-28 ESV

Let not the foreigner who has joined himself to the Lord say,
“The Lord will surely separate me from his people”

For thus says the Lord:

“And the foreigners who join themselves to the Lord,
to minister to him, to love the name of the Lord,
and to be his servants,
everyone who keeps the Sabbath and does not profane it,
and holds fast my covenant—
these I will bring to my holy mountain,
and make them joyful in my house of prayer;
their burnt offerings and their sacrifices
will be accepted on my altar;
for my house shall be called a house of prayer
for all peoples.”
The Lord God,
who gathers the outcasts of Israel, declares,
“I will gather yet others to him
besides those already gathered.” Isaiah 56:3a, 4a, 6-8 ESV


Our Bible reading about Jesus is a very difficult one to understand. Jesus seemed to be really mean and unloving to a woman who asked for his help for her daughter. First he ignored her, and then he said that his love and help weren’t meant for her because she wasn’t one of the people of Israel, and then he called her a dog! Why would Jesus act like that?

Have you ever worked out in a gym with weights? It can be very hard work, and at first it might make your muscles sore. But the exercise and stress you give your muscles will make them stronger. Jesus is doing that with this woman’s faith. He knew she had a strong faith, and so he exercised it to make it stronger. Sometimes when we pray and it seems as if the Lord doesn’t hear our prayers or answer us, it might be that he is exercising our faith to make it stronger, too. We can be sure that he does hear us, and that he will answer us in the time and in the way that is best, just as he answered this woman’s prayer and gave her what she asked him for.

But there is something else going on here, too. Jesus wanted to teach his disciples an important lesson. When this woman kept begging Jesus for help, they didn’t feel sorry for her or ask Jesus to listen to her. Instead, they told him to send her away! Because she was a foreigner, they didn’t think she was worth any of Jesus’ time or help. Jesus said the kinds of things to her that they thought were right. They were surprised when Jesus said that her faith was great, and that he was giving her the help she asked for. The disciples learned a lesson about God’s love for all people.

For many years in the country of South Africa there was a system called apartheid. This system kept people who were black or mixed completely separate from people who were white. Black and mixed people were often forcibly removed from their land, and it was given to white people. People of different colors couldn’t marry each other, and this sometimes meant that families were separated from each other–husbands from wives and parents from children. Black and mixed people had to use different public facilities than white people, and people who weren’t white weren’t allowed to participate in the government. It was a terribly cruel system, and it was based on the idea that some kinds of people are better than others. This is the idea that Jesus wanted to show his disciples was wrong.

God loves all people, no matter what color they are or what nation they come from. Jesus came to die for all the people in the world, and all the people who believe in Jesus become God’s people. God give the gift of faith to people from all over the world, just as he gave the gift of faith to the Canaanite woman. He hears the prayers of his people from all nations, and he answers them in the way that is best for us with the love and compassion of a Heavenly Father.


Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for your great love for all the people of the world. Help us to share your love with others. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.



Blind Guides


And he called the people to him and said to them, “Hear and understand: it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.” Then the disciples came and said to him, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?” He answered, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be rooted up. Let them alone; they are blind guides. And if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.” But Peter said to him, “Explain the parable to us.” And he said, “Are you also still without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth passes into the stomach and is expelled? But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person. But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone.” Matthew 15:10-20 ESV

But if you call yourself a Jew and rely on the law and boast in God and know his will and approve what is excellent, because you are instructed from the law; and if you are sure that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of children, having in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth—you then who teach others, do you not teach yourself? While you preach against stealing, do you steal? You who say that one must not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? You who boast in the law dishonor God by breaking the law. For, as it is written, “The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.” Romans 2:17-24 ESV


When Linus was still a very little boy, his big sister Lucy would take him around the neighborhood and teach him things. She taught him that fire hydrants grew all over the place, and that nobody knew how people could get so much water out of such small objects. She taught him that the clouds in sky were what made the wind blow. She showed him a small tree and told him it was an elm tree and that he could tell how old it was by counting its leaves. Then she said that someday it would grow to be a mighty oak. Lucy really didn’t know anything about science, and she was only making things up to impress her little brother. She was like a blind person leading another blind person. Linus didn’t learn anything true or right from her.

When Jesus told the religious leaders that making up rules wouldn’t bring them closer to God, but that God cared about what was in their hearts and whether they truly obeyed his law, they were angry with him. Jesus warned his disciples that the religious leaders were blind guides. People who listened to them and learned from them would not learn what was true and right. They would be like blind people who were being led by other blind people–they would all fall into the ditch! Jesus also taught his disciples again that what they put into their mouths and ate wasn’t important to God, because what people eat doesn’t last. It’s what is in our hearts and comes out of our mouths and out into our lives that really matters. But this isn’t good news, because we are sinful people, and what comes out of our hearts is evil and wicked–having hateful and hurtful thoughts and behavior, sinning with our bodies, stealing, lying, and all kinds of sins.

Jesus came to save us from all the ways we disobey God’s law and from all the evil that we carry in our hearts. He obeyed God’s law perfectly and taught his followers the truth about God’s ways. He took all our sins to the cross with him and died for them there. Because of what Jesus did, all of our sins–even the secret sins in our hearts–are forgiven every day. Jesus sends us his Holy Spirit to help us trust in his forgiveness and to learn to follow God’s law in our lives.


Dear Jesus, thank you for being our Teacher and our Savior. Help us to follow you and trust in you always. Amen.


Schulz, Charles M. The Complete Peanuts 1955-1956 Seattle: Fantagraphics Books, 2004, p. 166.

Making up the Rules


Then Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said, “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat.” He answered them, “And why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? For God commanded, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ But you say, ‘If anyone tells his father or his mother, “What you would have gained from me is given to God,” he need not honor his father.’ So for the sake of your tradition you have made void the word of God. You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said:

“‘This people honors me with their lips,
but their heart is far from me;
in vain do they worship me,
teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’” Matthew 15:1-9 ESV

O Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth will declare your praise.
For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it;
you will not be pleased with a burnt offering.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. Psalm 51:15-17 ESV


Do you wash your hands before you eat? It’s really a good idea to do that. There are many germs that get on your hands as you go through your day, and they can make you sick if you don’t wash them away. A teacher taught her students how important it was to wash their hands by doing an experiment in her class. She took three pieces of bread and three sandwich bags. She put the first piece of bread in one of the bags while she wore gloves, and the second piece of bread in another bag with clean hands that she had just washed. She put the third piece of bread in a third bag with dirty hands. After a few days, the first two pieces of bread were fine, but the third piece of bread was very disgusting. All the germs had grown on the bread and made it not good for anything except to throw away. No one would want to eat it!

The religious leaders of Jesus’ time didn’t know about germs, but they always washed their hands before they ate. This wasn’t God’s command, but just a rule they had made up. It helped them feel as if they were closer to God if they followed all kinds of extra rules. They wondered why Jesus’ disciples didn’t wash their hands before they ate. Jesus knew all about germs, of course, because he knows everything, but he also didn’t want the religious leaders to think that following the rules they had made up would win God’s favor. He talked to them about how they were breaking a very important commandment of God and teaching other people to do the same thing. The Lord commanded that everyone should honor their father and their mother, but the religious teachers taught that if people promised their money to God, they didn’t have to help and take care of their parents when they were old. The religious leaders used a made-up rule to set aside God’s commandment. That’s kind of like washing your hands carefully before you eat, and then eating some very disgusting, contaminated food.

The Lord isn’t interested in how carefully we obey the rules, especially the rules we make up for ourselves, but instead he is interested in what is in our hearts. But that’s not good news at all, because we all have sinful hearts that turn away from God and his ways. Jesus came to die on the cross, and his blood washes away all our sins. He gives us new hearts and sends us his Holy Spirit, who helps us to love and follow him and to obey God in ways that give him honor and help others.


Dear Jesus, thank you for washing our sins away. Please help us to love and follow you always. Amen.



This is a Hard Saying


The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”

[Jesus said:]As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like the bread the fathers ate, and died. Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.”

When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?” But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples were grumbling about this, said to them, “Do you take offense at this? Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before?

After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. So Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.”  John 6:52,  57-59, 60-62, 66-69 ESV

If we have died with him, we will also live with him;
if we endure, we will also reign with him;
if we deny him, he also will deny us;
if we are faithless, he remains faithful—

for he cannot deny himself. II Timothy 2:11b-13 ESV


Cancer is a terrible disease, and people sometimes die from it. But there are many times that cancer can be treated, and some people are able to survive if they get the treatment they need. When Mr. Robinson was diagnosed with cancer, his doctor wanted to do what he could to save his life. The doctor told him that his chances of getting better were very good if he would get some treatment, but if he didn’t do it, he would die. But Mr. Robinson didn’t want to get treated for cancer, and so he didn’t do what the doctor recommended. He became sicker and sicker, and then he died.

The people that had followed Jesus were a little like Mr. Robinson. Jesus told them that he was the bread of life, and if they believed in him he would give them eternal life. He used the picture of eating him the same way the people of Israel had eaten the manna that God had sent them from heaven. Jesus said that he was better than manna, because the people who ate manna died, but whoever would feed on him would live forever. The people didn’t want to trust Jesus for life forever with God, and so they grumbled. When Jesus heard them grumbling, he said that just as he had come down from heaven, he would return to heaven. Telling them that he would return to heaven offended the people so much that many of them stopped following him. They turned away from the life he offered and chose death instead. When Jesus asked the twelve apostles whether they would also leave him, Peter said that Jesus had the words of eternal life and was the Holy One of God. They wanted to keep following him.

Jesus sends us his Holy Spirit to help us trust in him for eternal life. Without Jesus we would die forever, but we know that Jesus came down to us from heaven to die on the cross so that our sins could be forgiven and we could become his people. We trust him to keep us close to him and to help us follow him every day, and to be his people forever.


Dear Jesus, thank you for giving us eternal life. Please keep us close to you now and always. Amen.

The Bread from Heaven


Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” So they said to him, “Then what sign do you do, that we may see and believe you? What work do you perform? Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’” Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.”

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. . . .  For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”

Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever.” John 6:28-35, 40, 47-51a ESV

For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven
and do not return there but water the earth,
making it bring forth and sprout,
giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it. Isaiah 55:10-11 ESV


People from all around the world eat bread, but different parts of the world make different kinds of bread. In parts of South America, people eat what is called arepa, which is a flat round cornmeal patty usually stuffed with ham or cheese. In some parts of India people eat chapati, which is a flat wheat bread usually eaten with curry. People in Ethiopia eat injera, which is a spongy sourdough bread made with teff flour. In Sweden people enjoy knackebrod, a flat dry cracker made from rye flour. The Russians eat qistibi, a baked flatbread stuffed with mashed potatoes or meat or millet, while the Irish are known for their soda bread, which is made with baking soda instead of yeast. There are many other kinds of bread made all around the world, but bread is important to almost everyone as a basic food.

Before they entered the promised land the people of Israel were fed by God with bread from heaven, called manna. They never forgot this blessing, and when Jesus said that God wanted them to believe in him, they wanted to see a sign from heaven like the manna that their people had known long ago. If they saw a sign, then they thought they would follow him they way their ancestors had followed Moses. But Jesus reminded them that it wasn’t Moses, but God, who had given them the bread from heaven, and then he said that he was the greatest gift God had sent down from heaven. Jesus called himself the bread of life, the bread that came down from heaven, and said that anyone who believes in him would never be hungry or thirsty, but would instead have eternal life. People who believe in Jesus would never die, but instead would be raised up on the last day to live forever with Jesus in his heavenly kingdom.

Jesus came down from heaven as God’s greatest gift to us. Jesus gives life to everyone who believes in him, just as earthly bread gives health and strength to everyone who eats it. He came to give us life, not just for a little while in this world, but life forever with him. He gave his life on the cross so that our sins could be forgiven, and he rose again from the dead on the first Easter to defeat death. Because of Jesus, we know that we have life forever, and that even though we might die, he will raise us up on the last day to be with him always.


Dear Jesus, thank you for being the Bread of Life and for giving us life with you. Amen.



Food that Perishes


On the next day the crowd that remained on the other side of the sea saw that there had been only one boat there, and that Jesus had not entered the boat with his disciples, but that his disciples had gone away alone. Other boats from Tiberias came near the place where they had eaten the bread after the Lord had given thanks. So when the crowd saw that Jesus was not there, nor his disciples, they themselves got into the boats and went to Capernaum, seeking Jesus.

When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?” Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.” John 6:22-27 ESV

Come, everyone who thirsts,
come to the waters;
and he who has no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without price.
Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,
and your labor for that which does not satisfy?
Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good,
and delight yourselves in rich food. Isaiah 55:1-2 ESV


Calvin’s dad got up on a beautiful summer morning and felt gloomy. It was such a nice day, and he didn’t want to go to work. He didn’t want to deal with the traffic and the stressful schedules and the phone calls, but instead he wanted to stay home and enjoy the house and the family that he was working for. He had just about decided to take the day off when Calvin came running by, and in a minute Calvin’s mom came after him, very angry and yelling at Calvin for putting dead bugs into her shampoo. Calvin’s dad realized that the home and family he was working for wouldn’t satisfy him or make him happy if he took a day off, so he went to work after all.

After Jesus had fed many, many people with only five loaves of bread and two fish, he quickly went away to be by himself. He knew that the people wanted to make him their king so that he would give them food every day. In the middle of the night he joined his disciples in their boat after walking on the water to meet them, and the next day the people wondered where he had gone. They got into boats and went to the other side of the lake themselves, and were very surprised to find Jesus there, teaching and healing. “When did you come here?” they asked him. Jesus didn’t answer their question, but instead he started to teach them and to warn them. He knew that they were only looking for him because he had given them food to eat, and he wanted them to see that he had so much more to offer them than that. He told them not to put all their energy into earning money to buy food and other things that don’t last forever and don’t really satisfy. He wanted them to look to him for the gift of eternal life.

Jesus came to give everyone who believes in him the gift of eternal life. Sometimes we also get caught up in the things of this world. We work hard to get nice homes and clothes and delicious food other things that we think will make us happy, but these thing won’t last forever, and they can’t really satisfy us. Jesus calls us to turn to him and see the things that really do matter, our life with God and his love for us. He came to die for us for our sins of turning away from our Heavenly Father and going our own way, and he forgives our sins every day. He sends us his Holy Spirit to help us trust in him for everything we need, and especially for his best gifts of all.


Dear Jesus, help us to trust you for everything, and to value your gift of eternal life more than all the things we have in this world. Amen.


Watterson, Bill Attack of the Deranged Mutant Killer Monster Snow Goons Kansas City: Andrews and McMeel, 1992, p. 18.

Coming for Healing


When they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret and moored to the shore. And when they got out of the boat, the people immediately recognized him and ran about the whole region and began to bring the sick people on their beds to wherever they heard he was. And wherever he came, in villages, cities, or countryside, they laid the sick in the marketplaces and implored him that they might touch even the fringe of his garment. And as many as touched it were made well. Mark 6:53-56 ESV

Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and all that is within me,
bless his holy name!
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits,
who forgives all your iniquity,
who heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit,
who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
who satisfies you with good
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. Psalm 103:1-5 ESV


In the British Isles and in Ireland there are many places that are thought to have holy wells. These might be wells or natural springs or very small lakes that were seen as sacred sites long before Christianity came to the area, although some of them later were named for Christian saints. One of these sacred wells is the Loch Sheanta spring on the Isle of Skye. People would never go fishing in the spring, because they believed that there was a sacred trout swimming in it that was the guardian of the well. They also wouldn’t cut down any trees near the spring, because they thought these trees belonged to the spirits of the area. But people would come from all over the island to drink the water, because they believed it would heal them from whatever sickness they had.

These wells are interesting stories, but they really didn’t have any power to heal sick people. Jesus is the one who has the power to heal all the sicknesses in the world, and whenever people heard he was in the area, they would come to him for healing or bring their friends and family members who needed Jesus’ touch. When Jesus came to the other side of the lake after walking on the water, they even carried people on their beds if they were too weak to walk! People had probably heard of the woman who had been made well by just touching the edge of his clothes, and so they begged Jesus to let them touch the fringe at the edge of what he was wearing, and anyone who did this was made well.

We also can come to Jesus for healing from our sicknesses, and he will heal us if that is best for us. We can know for sure that when he brings us into his heavenly kingdom there will be no pain or sickness or death. Jesus healed us from the worst sickness of all, the sickness of sin. The sickness of sin leads us to death, but Jesus died on the cross to destroy death and to give us life with him that lasts forever. We know that Jesus will heal us from all our sicknesses forever in his good time.


Dear Jesus, thank you for healing us from sin and death and giving us life forever with you. Amen.



Walking on Water


And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.” Matthew 14:28-33 ESV

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2 ESV


Did you know that it’s actually possible to walk on water? Not the ordinary kind of water that Jesus and Peter walked on, but rather a mixture of cornstarch and water. When you mix two parts of cornstarch and one part of water, the fluid you get sometimes acts like a solid and sometimes acts like a liquid. The tiny cornstarch particles are evenly distributed in the water, and if you apply a slow steady force the particles have time to move away and your body will slide right through just as it would in regular water. But if you apply a sudden force, the particles don’t have time to move away, and the substance acts as a solid. As long as you keep moving you can run, dance, do a flip, jump rope, play soccer, or ride a bike! But if you stop moving, you will sink down, and the substance is so thick and gooey that you might need someone to help pull you out!

When Peter heard Jesus’ voice calling to them in the storm, he said that if it was really Jesus, he wanted to be able to get out of the boat and walk on the water too. Jesus told him to come to him, and Peter got out of the boat and started walking on the water toward Jesus. Everything was fine as long as Peter looked at Jesus, but when Peter felt the waves splashing against his feet and heard the wind roaring in his ears, he was afraid. As soon as he stopped looking to Jesus in faith, he started to sink. Then he called out, “Lord, save me!” and Jesus reached out and caught him, and he scolded Peter for having such little faith. As soon as Jesus got into the boat the storm stopped, and all of his disciples were amazed, and worshiped him as the Son of God.

We are often like Peter. We walk though life with faith in the love and forgiveness that Jesus won for us on the cross, and we believe that he will provide us all we need to get through our lives no matter what happens. But when we look away from Jesus at the troubles and sorrows of life, we get scared and wonder how we’ll ever make it. That’s when we start to sink into sadness and worry. But Jesus is always there, ready to catch us when we start to sink and call to him for help. He loves us, and he sends us his Holy Spirit to strengthen our faith in him, now until the end.


Dear Jesus, help us to keep our eyes on you, and please catch us when we are weak and start to sink. Amen.




A Ghost!


Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but the boat by this time was a long way from the land, beaten by the waves, for the wind was against them. And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” Matthew 14:22-27 ESV

God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble at its swelling. 

The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.  Psalm 46:1-3, 7


Long ago, in a little valley called Sleepy Hollow, people told stories about a ghost that haunted the area. This ghost had been a German soldier during the American Revolutionary War, and had had his head shot off by a cannon. People said that this soldier’s ghost, a headless horseman, was sometimes seen galloping through Sleepy Hollow until it reached a bridge where it would disappear in a flash of fire. One night the schoolmaster, Icabod Crane, was riding home from a party when he saw a headless horseman riding after him. The schoolmaster was terrified and tried to get away, but the horseman galloped after him. When Icabod Crane reached the bridge, the horseman rode over the bridge after him, and suddenly threw the head he was carrying at the schoolmaster. No one ever saw Icabod Crane in Sleepy Hollow again, but the next day they found his saddle near the bridge, with a broken pumpkin next to it. The headless horseman hadn’t been a ghost at all, but instead another man called Brom Bones who was just trying to scare him.

After Jesus had fed the crowd of people with five loaves of bread and two fish, he was tired and wanted to spend some time alone praying to his Heavenly Father. His disciples got into a boat to sail to the other side of the lake. As they sailed, the wind picked up and waves began to beat against the boat. Late at night while the storm was blowing Jesus came to the edge of the lake and then walked on the water! He walked toward the boat, and when the disciples saw Jesus coming toward them on the water, they were terrified. They were sure they were seeing a ghost floating toward them in the storm! But Jesus spoke to them above the noise of the wind and the waves. He told them not to be afraid. He said that it wasn’t a ghost, but instead their teacher and friend who was coming to them.

We are sometimes afraid of things we think might hurt us. We might be afraid of the dark, or of getting lost, or of losing the people we love. Sometimes we get scared because of our sins. We worry that God won’t love us because of the things we’ve done wrong. But Jesus is always with us, and he tells us not to be afraid. No matter what happens, he will be with us and help us. We don’t have to be afraid of God’s anger, because Jesus took our sins to the cross with him and paid for them there. Because of what Jesus did, we can always be sure of God’s love and forgiveness, and come to him with our fears and worries. God will always help us in the way that is best for Jesus’ sake.


Dear Jesus, thank you for being with us always. Please help us to trust you when we are afraid. Amen.