Reflections Week of 2/28/16

Read John 5:1-24

In this week’s sermon, we saw that people criticized Jesus because of a fundamental misunderstanding of who Jesus was in relation to John the Baptist. Since john the Baptist had been baptizing people for longer than Jesus, they thought that john deserved more credit. In this passage a few chapters later in John, we see that once again, Jesus is misunderstood. Jesus performs a miracle and works on the Sabbath because he is Lord of the Sabbath. Pharisees didn’t see it that way. They thought that Jesus was brazenly defying Jewish law and then making excuses for it. But Jesus sets them straight once again by explaining something fundamental about himself: He is God.

Question for Reflection: What misunderstandings about Jesus do you see present in the world today?

Read Colossians 1:15-23

In John 5, it says that once we understand who Jesus really is, we will “marvel” (v. 20). This Colossians verse is full of things to marvel at. If John the Baptist’s followers or the Pharisees are confused about who Jesus is, this verse makes it clear. It is a statement of Jesus’ power, preeminence, omnipotence, and glory. These verses are particular favorites of ours; we re-read any time we want to remember who Jesus really is. The most amazing thing, though, about this selection is in verses 21-22. Read them again out loud! Immediately after talking about how amazing Jesus is, this passage includes you. Jesus stands before God holy and blameless and above reproach, and then because of Jesus, so do we. The passage concludes that the key is to stand firmly in the truth by believing it and not wavering. 

Question for Reflection: Do you see yourself as part of Jesus’ great plan?

Reflections by Wayne and Amy Giacalone

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Reflections Week of 2/21/16

Read Matthew 14:22-33

As we look this week at what it means to rest in grace and humility I was drawn to this scene on the water. We see Peter motivated by the power he sees Jesus display, as well as his own excitement in the moment ask to get out of the boat. Who would do that?! Peter would. Everything goes great and Peter is walking on the water toward Jesus until Peter looks at the storm around him. When we are walking with God when we are focused on him, it doesn’t matter what’s going on around us, but as soon as let ourselves get convinced that God isn’t in control we can sink. What’s great about this passage as well as what we read on Sunday is that when we are sinking, when we are desperate for God’s help, he is there, ready to save us. It is in those vulnerable moments that God shows us his character, if we are willing to admit that we are exhausted and sinking. 

Reflection Question:  What have you learned from God in the chaotic “sinking” moments of your life? How has that affected the way you live when there is no storm?

 

Read Zechariah 9:9-13

Jacob has his name changed to Israel which means “God Prevails”. This passage in Zechariah is a celebration of God prevailing. We are told to rejoice and shout because our King is coming! This is a prophecy of Jesus entering into Jerusalem, riding a donkey, humble as the carpenter from Nazareth. This passage speaks of ending the war and the pain and the battles. Jesus “shall speak peace to the nations,” we find that through this humble man war will finally end. Life gets ugly and hard and dark, but its passages like this that we need to remember. Because this spoke of that day when Jesus rode in to town to save us from our sins. And he will come back to put an end to the war, to finally defeat Satan once and for all. And for that, we should rejoice greatly!

Reflection Question: How does knowing “God Prevails” change the way you see the trouble and hardships of your life? How does it change the way you see the good things and the blessings in your life?

Reflections by Pastor Tim Gioia

 

Reflections Week of 2/14/16

Read Romans 5:6-11

This passage is pretty straightforward.  It only has one thing to say, and if you’ve been going to church for awhile, you probably already know it: grace.  We aren’t awarded based on our deeds, but based on who God is and what He has promised.  As familiar as it seems, it’s wise to reflect on a passage like this one.  The culture we live in, even our churches and often our hearts, are easily persuaded against the idea of free grace.  We want to believe that what we have, we have earned.  It goes beyond money; it can be status, relationships, a good family, a thrilling Instagram feed.  And definitely our salvation.  But what Romans (and the rest of the bible) reminds us over and over is: everything that is good is a free gift from God.

Question for Reflection: How has God blessed you beyond what you deserve?

Read Ephesians 2:1-10

This section begins with a recap of what we read in Romans.  Salvation is a free gift from God, and so is everything else that is good in our lives.  This passage goes on to explain why: for God’s glory.  The life that God has planned for us is better than the life we would plan for ourselves, because God’s plan is perfect for God’s own glory.  Anything good that comes from our lives is part of God’s workmanship, which He “prepared beforehand” (v.10).  This specifically includes our good works!   The passage also tells us that reflecting on this truth fosters humility: “so that no one may boast” (v.9).  Instead of our lives being a portrait of what humans can do, our lives are portraits of what God can do.

Question for Reflection: Think about the fact that whatever life God has given you is for His glory. Praise Him for it.

Reflections by Wayne and Amy Giacalone

Reflections Week of 2/7/16

Read Psalm 105:1-9

In this passage the psalmist wants us to remember God’s promises.  He uses Abraham and Isaac as an example of what that kind of remembering looks like.  When Abraham was tested by God, and asked to sacrifice Isaac, he remembered God’s promise.  God promised to make him a great nation.  He promised that the nation would come through Isaac.  Many scholars believe that because of this, Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice Isaac was a belief that God would not be limited by the death of Isaac.  In other words, Abraham had to suspect that God could work beyond death— something he did not yet have any proof of!  By using Abraham as an example, the psalmist shows that remembering the promises of God is not just happy reflection; it’s spiritual muscle-building.

Question for Reflection: What has God promised you in scripture?

 

Read 1 Corinthians 15:51-58

Speaking of God’s promises, and his ultimate triumph over death, this passage is a straight-up declaration of God’s plan.  As we enter the season of Lent, we begin mediate on the sinful nature of the world, and how that sin has lead to death.  But, it is important to remember that we only focus on that so that we can have a greater appreciation of his triumph over death. Much as Abraham relied on the promise of God’s covenant, we rely on the promise of Jesus’ covenant.  This promise is that sin has already been defeated by Jesus’ death on the cross.  And soon, the consequences of sin (death) will be defeated as well.  Therefore, “Death has lost it’s sting!” (v55). 

Question for Reflection: How great is that?

Reflections by Wayne and Amy Giacalone