Reflections Week of 9/24/17

Different members of our church family write these reflections each week to go along with the two year reading plan the church is participating in. It is our hope that these reflections help you to get in to your Bible throughout the week and be challenged by the word of God.

Read Psalm 23 (Monday 9/25)

I remember my seventh grade Bible class at Desert Christian Middle School like it was just seven years ago. Which is to say, not very well. However, my one shining memory was a quiz that involved writing this very passage out, in its entirety. Now, with only one hundred and ten words to write, this seems upon first blush to be an incredibly simple task. However, as someone who struggles deeply with memorization, I buried my entire being in getting this passage committed to memory.

It was at that moment that I realized how this had become a universally acclaimed passage. David seems to hit on some pretty large tenants of the Christian faith. Quotes about restoring his soul in chapter three, fearing no evil due to his presence in verse four. If there is any one feeling that speaks to me, it is a feeling of reassurance. That God has not, does not, and will not abandon us under any circumstance.

In the end, I believe I got 100 percent on that quiz. Obviously, fourteen year old me was ecstatic. A good grade was a good grade, to be sure. However, the implications were far reaching. It showed me for the first time some of the many attributes that God has, and for that, I will always be grateful.

Read Psalm 27 (Wednesday 9/27)

Continuing the theme of my wondrous middle school years, we would often sing the same set of worship songs during chapel. One of the hooks on a particular song would sing out in a large crescendo, “whom then shall I fear?” It was a constant question that seemed to ring out for a lot of my time at the school.
Taking a step back and looking at fear, in general, we see a huge pull in today’s society when it comes to fear. There is a fear of the economy, our congressional leadership, fear of losing our friends and family. I could spend eight bulletins talking just about individual fears in America.

However, David says later in verse four that he asks only to dwell with the Lord in his house. At first, to me, that seemed like a non-answer. “David!” I thought to myself. “You aren’t dealing with the increased tensions with North Korea’s nuclear tests!” But at the end of the day, David was well aware of his problems, and as seen by later books, he certainly did not ignore them. Rather, he found solace in God’s promise. And that is a beauty that is far greater than fear.

 Reflections written by Jax Gorman

 

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Reflections Week of 9/17/17

Different members of our church family write these reflections each week to go along with the two year reading plan the church is participating in. It is our hope that these reflections help you to get in to your Bible throughout the week and be challenged by the word of God.

Read Psalm 12 (Monday 9/18)

David laments that the faithful and true are gone, that all of us are sinners. We deceive ourselves and each other, believing that we are in control of our bodies and minds, that we are our own masters.

If that were true, why would we need God? Why would God sacrifice His Son for us? We can speak words of creation or destruction. Words are powerful. God shows us by example how to live and what to avoid, if we would only listen.

God protects the weak and the needy, He rises to the occasion when the weak and needy are in harm’s way. God is always true and is never wrong. God can be counted on always.

David prays that God will protect us from the liars and deceivers, because humans glorify what is vile to God. God will always show us the truth, we must seek Him and seek relationship with Him.

We must always be careful not to deceive ourselves, not to hurt others, and to have faith and trust in God only.

For Reflection:

  1. Do I speak truth to myself and others? Do my words come from God? If I am not sure, I should pray to God and ask him. Be quick to listen and slow to speak.

  2. Do I follow God’s example by protecting the weak and the needy? Do I surround them with truth?

 

Read Psalm 14 (Tuesday 9/19)

The person who does not believe in God is corrupt and vile because he/she does not understand what is good. This person has a skewed perspective of the world because he/she does not understand why or how it was created.

God looks to see who seeks and understands Him. He sees all, believers and nonbelievers. He offers refuge to believers, and nonbelievers are filled with dread because they have no one to turn to for support.

Nonbelievers do not want to be alone; they will try to corrupt believers to make themselves feel better or to feel like they have someone on their side. To be seperated from God is the worst fate I can imagine. When I think of all the challenges I have been through (my husband dying, raising a son with autism who does not speak at all by myself, letting my son go to a group home to get the structure he needs rather than living at home with me, helping my parents as they age), I can not imagine getting through all of that alone, without God. I may feel at times that God has turned His back on me or that He is punishing me, but in the end I know that is not true. God has shown me His mercy and love time and time again, and it is because He is with me that I get through all of these challenges.

For Reflection:

  1. Do I allow myself to be tempted by the world? Do I run to God when this happens and confess, or do I try to hide it from Him?

  2. Do I believe and trust in God’s promises? Is God the first and most important thing in my life?

Reflections written by Anne Wilson

Reflections Week of 9/10/17

Different members of our church family write these reflections each week to go along with the two year reading plan the church is participating in. It is our hope that these reflections help you to get in to your Bible throughout the week and be challenged by the word of God.

Read Ephesians 5:1-2 (Monday 9/11)

Have you ever known a kid who was just like his parents? Not just in looks, but in mannerisms as well? Kids often do things the way their parents do because they observe and then imitate them. One of the ways little kids learn is through doing things with their parents – they learn how to behave by watching their parents and participating in an activity together.

When we are commanded in Ephesians to imitate God as beloved children, think of it in the same way that little kids learn from their parents. God, the perfect Father, acts with us, enabling us through His Holy Spirit. And as we work with Him, observing how He does things, we learn to act like Him and it is obvious that we belong to the same family. Even Jesus took His cues from His Father – looking to Him and only doing what He was doing (John 5:19).

So how exactly does the Father act – what should I be doing to imitate Him? Verse two explains how God acts – in love. And Ephesians is chock full of examples and instructions on what that looks like practically. If you read a bit further, you’ll learn what that looks like in husband-wife, parent-child, and master-servant relationships. Take some time this week to OBSERVE God – read His Word and look at how the rest of Ephesians describe healthy relationships. After you’ve observed Him, IMITATE what you see, knowing that you become like Him not in your own strength, and as His beloved child.

Application:

How does the fact that I am a child of God change the way I follow Him?

What one passage or verse in Ephesians stands out to me as a way I need to imitate God?

Read Psalm 10 (Saturday 9/16)

Take a look at the first 11 verses of Psalm 10 – wat kind of emotions do you hear? The Psalmist is questioning God – asking Him why He seems so far away and is not acting to stop evil men from hurting the innocent. And look at the attitude of those evil men – they exploit the poor and think God has forgotten and doesn’t see the evil things they do.

When you look at the events happening here in Chicago, in the States, and around the world, do you ask along with the Psalmist, “Why God? Why don’t you act?” When people take advantage of you or those you love, do you ask God why He allowed it to happen? The Psalmist had the same questions, and He brought them to God.

Things shift, however, in verse 14 – “But you do see…” And the psalmist goes on to express His confidence in who God is and that He will act. Note the action words in verses 14-18: God sees, He notes wrongdoing, He is a helper, He hears, He strengthens, He inclines His year, and He does justice. When you are hurt or afraid or angry because of the senselessly evil things that people do, take your questions to God and like the Psalmist, anchor yourself on the certainty that God is just, and He will act.

Application:

Do you have confidence that God is just and will punish the wicked? If not, tell God about it and ask Him to show Himself to you as just.

Where do you go first when bad things happen, either to you or to others? Is your first response to turn to God with your questions? If not, what should change in order to develop a habit of turning to Him?

Reflections written by Monica Friesen

Reflections Week of 8/27/17

Different members of our church family write these reflections each week to go along with the two year reading plan the church is participating in. It is our hope that these reflections help you to get in to your Bible throughout the week and be challenged by the word of God.

Read Job 38-41 

This past week found many Americans standing outside, starring up at an amazing phenomenon taking place in the sky: the solar eclipse. We are enamored with the magnificent, the powerful, the works of nature that lie out of our control. This all came to mind as I listened to God enlightened Job’s thinking in Job 38-41. God, who laid the cornerstone of the earth, who completely understands the expanse of the universe, who teaches mammals when to give birth, who owns everything under the heaven, stoops down to meet with a man who has questions.

Job has questions about his suffering. Job doesn’t understand why his life has been turned upside down. And in due time these questions are met with the presence of an all-powerful God, who assures Job that he has been questioning the Almighty.

I wonder how many of you have questioned the Almighty in the past couple weeks. I have. I have asked God why more than once, concerning both the brokenness in our country and the brokenness in the lives of those around me. While the solar eclipse was exciting and cool, let it be a reminder, that an Almighty, all-powerful God is in control of this universe, and nothing goes unnoticed by Him.

Read Ephesians 1-4

Paul addresses this letter to: “the saints who are at Ephesus, and who are faithful in Christ Jesus.” While reading the remainder of this letter, my mind and heart kept returning to this greeting.

Who are faithful. 

Paul takes time to speak words of truth to the church at Ephesus. Paul both blesses and challenges, directs and corrects. This indicates to me that these believers were far from having achieved maturity in Christ (see 4:13), and yet were considered faithful. I find this comforting.

This week God has very clearly communicated His truth to me. Words of encouragement and correction. Words of discipline and blessing. Mostly I have seen the glaring areas in my life in need of the maturity which comes from knowing Christ. Yet, despite my need for growth, God consistently honors my faithfulness to Him by continuing to teach my heart and lead me on to maturity.

Faithfulness is not equivalent to maturity. Yet, by being faithful to God, He will continue to guide me into the maturity found in knowing my Lord. For this I am thankful.

Reflections written by Emily Alexander

 

What I’ve Learned 1 Year Into Our Reading Plan

This week marks one year since we began our #2YearJourney reading through the Bible together. Every week we read 2 chapters every day Monday-Saturday. Throughout the year we also take a few breaks to be used as “catch-up” or just reflection on what we have been reading.

Multiple times in my life I have tried to do one of these “read through the Bible” programs…and failed. Between the large amounts to read every day and the feeling of being overwhelmed when you miss a few days, and what to do with things like the book of Leviticus, have made consistent reading really tough. Even though I knew all of this I also knew that pursuing a reading plan can produce great fruit. As we have pursued this great adventure together as a church I have learned a few things about the Bible and myself.

Being consistent is hard but worth it: I know that reading the Bible is good for me. I know that it reveals God to me and teaches and guides me. I know that I tend to focus more and think clearer when I am regularly and consistently in the Bible. Even though I know all of this, I still fail to be consistent. I still miss days. I skip days, I don’t make it a priority. As we’ve pursued this #2YearJourney and I have had days that I have missed or fallen behind I’ve had to regularly remind myself to just keep going. Just because my Monday got away from me doesn’t mean I should just give up. And that’s my encouragement to all of you, if you have tried to do this or any other reading plan, and you have found yourself falling behind, just keep going. Make a note and you can go back to catch what you missed. The point of things like this are not to be able to say “I did it! I’m awesome” but rather to help you connect with God regularly and maybe read and learn some things that you haven’t in the past.

God has perfect timing: It’s amazing to me the amount of times throughout this year that what we have read during the #2YearJourney has been applicable to something going on in my life or in what I was preaching. This year has been a regular reminder to me that God is in control and his timing is perfect. He has set up multiple times for me to read a specific passage or verse right when I needed it.

I needed to grow in discipline: As I’ve already stated, I’ve quit on things like this in the past. And I’ve been tempted to quit again here, I mean some of those lists of names can be rough to focus on. And it is going through these sections of scripture, these days where I didn’t feel like getting into the word, that I realized just how much growth I’ve needed in the area of reading consistently. I recently had a conversation with someone about how sometimes the thing you need to do with your relationship with God is just be willing to show up. Consistently engage with God even when you don’t feel like, because while you might not feel like talking with God, he’s got something to say to you! It’s really only in the two months or so that I have begun to realize that God has done a great work in my heart, because now when I’m not reading every day I realize I’m missing an important part of my day. I realize now that I was not nearly as strong as God wanted me to be in my discipline and he has grown me in that through this #2YearJourney.

The benefits of accountability are real: One of the reasons we wanted to do this as a church was so we would have built in accountability with one another. In the last month and a half I have gotten a new accountability partner for my reading in my son Ben. Because I want him to know scripture and hear scripture as much as possible I’ve made sure that I’m reading or listening to the Bible with him every day. It has helped me in my own desire to read and make time for reading to know I have someone counting on me and expecting me to read every day. If reading plans like this have been tough for you in the past, get someone to do it with. Work as a team. We are the body of Christ, meant to hold each other up and strengthen each other.

CF Rocks: I didn’t learn this, I already knew, it but I wanted to say it anyway. Every week we have different people in our church write reflections that go with our reading plan. They write short devotionals and give us questions or challenges to help us engage with the scripture. Thank you to everyone who has written a reflection because they have helped me to think differently about the text and have been helpful with some of those tough passages. I’m very blessed to be in this community and serve alongside wonderful people.

If you haven’t tried, or you tried and gave up, I want to encourage you again to jump in to this reading plan. It’s a manageable amount of reading each day, there are breaks built in, there is a group doing it together. Whether you start from the beginning or you jump in today, however you want to do it get in to the word because God has something to say to you!

You can find all of our resources related to the #2YearJourney here at this link: http://churchinroscoevillage.org/teaching/read-through-the-bible

What have you learned through this process? Share it in the comments below.

Reflections Week of 8/20/17

Different members of our church family write these reflections each week to go along with the two year reading plan the church is participating in. It is our hope that these reflections help you to get in to your Bible throughout the week and be challenged by the word of God.

Read Job 23-24 (Monday 8/21)

Have you ever written a lament?

Have you ever considered that, even as a Christian, you are ~allowed~ to lament? Life is hard. I don’t need to tell you that there are some seasons of life that getting out of bed in the morning isn’t even easy. Each day feels like an uphill battle, and that’s before you even click on the news. Why does God make your life so hard? Why does he allow for bad things to happen, for illness to grow, for depression to strike? I find that, in the times when life is hard, I don’t lament. I mean I do, but not to God.  In fact, I sort of shut Him out. Have you ever done that? We talk to our moms and our friends and our Facebook wall about how difficult things are right now, and the burdens we are carrying. But when someone who loves us asks, “Well, have you prayed about it?” We shrug and say, “I’ve been busy” or “not really.”

The thing about God is that He is always right there with you. Nothing that is happening to you is shocking to Him. He has laid out every step of your life (even the hard ones.) So why not talk to Him about it? Why not get frustrated with Him, mad at Him? Say what you feel about Him to His face. He will listen. And He won’t go anywhere. He loves you. He hears. You.

Challenge for this Week: Write a lament this week.

Read Job 28 (8/23 Wednesday)

Twenty-Seven verses of build-up.  Twenty-seven verses of Job’s meticulous and downright poetic walk through each level of creation. He highlights each of their inability to find or equal the value of wisdom. Of all the majestic creatures, priceless jewels, and delicious foods that come forth from the earth (thank you, Job, for loving food the way I do) – none is as valuable as wisdom. And where does it come from? At the very end after working so hard to make sure we understand the gravity of it all; in just two verses, Job explains what all the hubbub was about: Wisdom comes from God alone. More than that, God knows where to find wisdom. He knows from where the fountains of wisdom flow. In the book of James, God uses the author to explain that, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” So, not only does God know where all of the wisdom is, but He is willing to give it out freely to His children who ask for it. Which is nice, since Job made it pretty clear that there’s no way on earth we could get it or match it on our own.

Isn’t that encouraging? No matter what you are doing or who you are – you are incapable of finding wisdom for yourself. But your God? He is excited to pour this precious gift upon you if you would just seek Him out and ask.

Challenge for this Week: Pray for wisdom each day this week.

Reflections written this week by Liz Doogan

Reflections Week of 8/13/17

Read Job 11 (Monday 8/14)

Verses thirteen to fifteen say, “If you prepare your heart, you will stretch out your hands toward him. 14 If iniquity is in your hand, put it far away, and let not injustice dwell in your tents. 15 Surely then you will lift up your face without blemish; you will be secure and will not fear.”  As I read this I was reminded of how I need to hold advice and counsel up to God’s word.  We can have godly, loyal and trustworthy friends who we love, and yet they still can give us bad advice.  I do not know how close of friends Job was with these men, but I know that they came in hopes of comforting him, and in the process, they gave him some pretty bad advice, that did the opposite of bringing comfort.  I want to have a well-rounded knowledge of God’s word, and I need people in my life who have that knowledge as well.

Good friends know each other well, and this passage makes me think that these friends of Job’s did not know him well, or they at least did not take the time to listen before they spoke.  We, as the readers, know from chapter one that Job was living blamelessly.  God Himself said this (1:8).  We need friends in our lives who love and desire God and His word, and who will love and comfort by understanding and then speaking.  And we can rest as we already have this in Christ, who will never let us down.

Read Job 18:21 (Thursday 8/17)

“Surely such are the dwellings of the unrighteous, such is the place of him who knows not God.”  One of Job’s friends says this as he tries to prove that Job is guilty of sin.  He is saying that wicked men are punished by God, it seems that Job is being punished by God, therefore Job must have wickedness in him.

So here he says that God punishes the wicked.  What struck me about this is that if this statement were always true: that God always physically and materially punishes those who do not fear God and who do evil in this life on earth, then all people would be living terrible and painful lives.  This is so because everyone who does not have faith in Jesus cannot please God (Heb. 11:6).  And even those who do have faith in Christ still fall into sin, and they do not always face physical and immediate punishment from God.

So many people in the world who do not believe in Jesus believe this principle that Job’s friend tried to convince Job of.  Essentially, as long as you are a good person, you will live a good life and you have good coming your way.  All of this reminded me of a basic, yet extremely relevant and contemporary issue.  That is that people do not know they are sinners.  They do not know their wickedness.  So many people are in dire need of a spiritual physician, but they have no idea that they are ill with a disease that is truly leading them to ultimate death.

Reflections written by Wade Henderson