Reflections Week of 1/31/16

Read Galatians 3:5-10

If you hang out around Christians enough, sooner or later you’ll hear someone mention the concept of faith verses works.  This passage speaks clearly to that issue.  In this section, Paul is likely talking about circumcision.  Some people in the early church thought it was important to circumcise adult Christians in accordance with Jewish law.  Paul didn’t.  To back up his point, Paul takes us back to the story of Abraham.  Before circumcision was even invented, God told Abraham that not only did He plan to bless Abraham’s descendants, but that someday all nations (that’s us!) would be blessed through him.  Paul concludes that faith is more important than following the law.  And to see what faith looks like, we can look to Abraham as an example: Abraham believed that God was going to fulfill His promise, even though it sounded impossible.  That’s what faith looks like, and it comes before the law.

Question for Reflection: Do you count faith as greater than works in your own life?  
 

Read Hebrews 11:8-10

Last week, we looked at what it means to be prepared.  In this passage, (which should look familiar to those in Sunday morning bible study!) we see Abraham as an example of what it means to be prepared. It means to live by faith.  These short verses take us through three steps of living by faith.  1) Abraham went where God told him to go, even though he didn’t know what he would find there.  2)  Once Abraham was there, he lived as a stranger or sojourner in the land, a life of faith.  3)  Abraham consistently looked toward the future Kingdom of God, a “city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God.”  In three short verses, we have a solid example of what faith looks like from the life of Abraham.
 
Question for Reflection:  Are you living faithfully in these three areas?
 
Reflections by Wayne and Amy Giacalone

 

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Reflections Week of 1/24/16

Read Matthew 24:36-44

This isn’t a cheery passage, and it isn’t supposed to be.  Unfortunately the natural follow-up to last week’s sermon (The Fall) is this week’s sermon: The Flood.  God is perfect, and his judgment against everything that doesn’t meet his perfect standards is going to be severe and complete.  In this passage, we see that there will be a final judgment when Christ returns.  This judgment is compared to the “days of Noah,” which we just heard about this week.  In other words, lots of people will be evil and oblivious to the judgment that awaits them.  But!  There is one recourse offered in this passage: to stay awake.  To be ready.  Noah is a good example of what this looks like; he was a righteous man who was listening to God.  For us, that means accepting salvation through Christ (and His righteousness) and being immersed in Scripture. 

Question for Reflection: What steps have you taken to “be ready,” as this passage says?  

 

Read Isaiah 54:8-10

 This passage is the beautiful counterpoint to God’s judgment.  It is about God’s covenant with us.  A covenant is a promise from God.  When God promised not to flood the earth again, he made a covenant with all people; in this passage, he makes a covenant with a specific nation, Israel.  He promises never to depart from them again, because they are chosen and He loves them.  The good news (literally) is that God makes this covenant even more specific in the New Testament.    God has a new covenant with every individual that is a believer in Jesus.  And despite how scary judgment is, and how perfect God’s standards are, anyone who believes in Jesus gets to share in His righteousness.  Meditate on God’s promise here, “…My steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed.”

Question for Reflection: Does knowing about God’s judgment make his covenant feel more important?

Reflections by Wayne and Amy Giacalone

Devotional For 1/17/16

Read Romans 5:12-21

Whew!  This is a difficult passage to read.  It’s laid out very logically, but the sentences are long and it can be difficult to keep track.  We had to read this passage a few times through to make sure we got it.  And it’s worth it!  Ultimately, the truth it presents is one that is full of hope and life.  It says that even though the fall was terrible, even though it lead to the death of everybody— really, everybody— God in his grace plans to fix that.  God already has fixed that.  The beauty of the gospel is that in Jesus, we get a free gift of righteousness.  Which means that  even though we’re fallen people living in a fallen world all day, every day, we can be confident that God’s grace will supply all of our righteousness.

Question for Reflection: How have you experienced God’s grace in your life?

Read 1 Corinthians 15:20-28

This passage is very similar to the Romans  passage we also read.  The difference here, is that the Fall and Redemption exist as part of a process that we are still in the middle of.  Yes, Satan has already been destroyed and we can be confident of our victory in Christ.  But in this passage we see that this is an ongoing process that is happening all around us.  We live in a world that is somewhere between defeat of sin, and defeat of death.  Every day, we need new grace to live in that world.  But the good news is, we have someone in power; Jesus.  We’re fighting the battle from the winning side.

Question for Reflection: What struggles are you in the middle of?  How are you still waiting to see how God is going to make things right?

Reflections by Wayne and Amy Giacalone