Reflections Week of 3/27/16

Different members of our church family write these reflections each week to go along with the message preached the previous Sunday. 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 Mark 16:1-7

In this sermon series, we’ve spent a lot of time looking at God’s covenant with his people. Over and over throughout the Old Testament, to Noah and Abraham and Moses, we saw God promising the people of Israel that he would guide them, protect them, preserve their lineage, and lead them to exactly where he needed them to go. Well, happy Easter! Today we get to skip ahead in the story and see the spot God was leading them to: the death and ultimate resurrection of Christ! And in the resurrection of Christ, we have a new promise. Instead of God focusing his grace on the Israelites, he opens the floodgates to include all people. Every believer’s sins are paid in full by Christ’s work on the cross. And in the resurrection we see a beautiful conclusion to the story started in Genesis. Jesus triumphs over death–remember the original punishment for sin?

Question for Reflection: How has God fulfilled his promises through Christ?

 

Read Hebrews 4:1-13

Jewish law mandated that the people celebrate a Sabbath, or a day of the week set aside for rest. Sometimes in church it seems like we get a lot of commands to do certain things. But in this one there’s a little paradox hiding there. In this passage God is commanding us to rest. Which is kind of the opposite of good works. Today especially, it’s important to remember that all the work of salvation was completed at the cross. Jesus defeated death. This passage, in fact, says that “his works were finished from the foundation of the world” (v3). All of God’s promises and plans, all across the Old Testament, were leading to our reconciliation with him at the cross. So today, treat it like a Sabbath day. Remember that the work is done. Today we rest.

Questions for Reflection: Do you feel like you are resting in the work of Christ? Why or why not?

Reflections by Wayne and Amy Giacalone

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Reflections Week of 3/20/16

Read Matthew 16:24-28

In church growing up, we would sing a chorus that echoed Jesus’ statement of gaining the whole world, yet ultimately losing our soul. Being young, my assumption meant that this kind of sacrifice would entail the loss of my GameCube for a few hours, at most. My realization of this concept of sacrifice grew astronomically as I grew up. Faced with temptations based on everything from friend groups to a career path, there have been countless times where I could have forged ahead while leaving behind the relationship I had formed with God.

Years later, I boarded a plane, heading to Chicago, ready to commit my life in pursuit of spreading the Gospel. My cross that I carry is ultimately this very fact, as I wrestle with the idea of what a life looks like that is solely dedicated to the teaching of God’s love. We all have our cross that we have to take up, and like Jesus’ death, we are going to feel an incredible amount of pain.

Questions for Reflection: What is something in your life that you have had to sacrifice in pursuit of Jesus? How has this act altered your lifestyle?

Reflection written by Jax Gorman

Read 2 Timothy 3:10-17

Paul reminds Timothy of his own persecutions and then states blatantly all Christians will be persecuted at some point. To encourage Timothy to focus on the most important things, Paul reminds him to stay grounded in the truth he has been taught. Paul’s reminder that “all Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” should be a reminder to us that the Bible is not just an old book that has no bearing on our lives. We should take Paul’s encouragement and ground ourselves in the truths we have been taught.

Questions for Reflection:  What about studying the Bible regularly is a challenge for you? What steps can you take to help get past these challenges? Who do you know that can help you in your own study?

Reflection by Pastor Tim Gioia

Reflections for 3/13/16

Read Psalm 46

There were two kinds of people in the Egypt when the plagues happened.  One was the Egyptians, who believed the world was falling apart around them and dissolving into chaos. The other was the Israelites.  They were looking at the world remembering God’s promises to his people so far— remember Noah and Abraham?— and instead of seeing chaos they could know that God was working.  They trusted He was all-powerful. Because they knew God was on their side, “their refuge and strength” they had nothing to fear.  This passage is a good reminder of that fact.  God’s strength and power is constant.  He does not dole it out in little bits, instead, everything that happens is a direct result of his sustaining power.  And when something bad happens, we can know that he is still there, as strong as ever, fighting for the good of those he has made promises to.

Questions for Reflection: Do you ever feel surrounded by chaos? Do you think God can work in those circumstances?

Read Romans 8:31-39

In a world that feels like it is falling apart and dissolving into chaos, this passage is a balm and a lifeboat.  The Israelites knew God was their refuge and deliverer, even though God had allowed them to be enslaved in Egypt.  In the same way, we need to cling to this truth as well.  In this passage, we have a response to the world: no matter what happens, God is in control.  Nothing stays put or moves unless God allows it to do so.  And God’s promise to Christians is so strong, that there is a whole list of things that cannot separate us from the love of God!  Reflect on that list.  And remember that in a world that feels increasingly fueled by fear and anger Christians should be the opposite.  We should marked and defined by a complete lack of fear.

Questions for Reflection: What are you afraid of?  Pray to God and ask for confidence in Him instead.

Reflections by Wayne and Amy Giacalone

Reflections Week of 3/6/16

Read Philippians 4:4-9; Matthew 16:24

This week we saw God call Moses to be obedient. God was going to use Moses to save Israel! This is amazing and yet Moses is finding every problem he can to get out of it, “I don’t speak well, they won’t listen, who will I even say sent me?” If I’m honest I think I often think this way when God is calling me towards obedience. Jesus tells all of us if we want to be disciples we must “pick up our cross and follow him” (Matthew 16:24). Just like Moses we are given a command “deny ourselves, pick up our cross and follow.” And just like Moses we have an opportunity to obey God or not. But also just like Moses, God promises to be with us as we bear our crosses (Phil. 4:9). The journey is treacherous and is not about us but about God’s plan for redemption and yet we know that He is with us, living and active. 

Questions for Reflection: What area of your life might God be calling for your obedience? What does being a disciple mean? What benefit is there in knowing that God is with us?

 

Read 2 Timothy 1:6-14; Mark 15:16

Paul is writing to encourage his spiritual child Timothy. He isn’t just writing for leisure however; Paul is awaiting execution. Even knowing that the end of his ministry and his life are coming and his friends have mostly deserted him for fear of persecution, Paul is concerned that Timothy find strength in the power of God. We are called to go and proclaim the gospel to all the ends of the earth! Sometimes knowing that we may rock the boat we prefer to stay silent for fear of the condemnation people may hurl at us, the social out casting or being labeled judgmental. Paul’s exhortation rings clear! “Do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, but share in the suffering for the gospel by the power of God!” Moses was called to deliver a message to Pharaoh, we are called to deliver the gospel message to a dying world. May we embrace the message that is greater than any before and any to come and that comes with the authority and power of God!

Questions for Reflection: Does it frighten you to share the gospel? If so, why might that be? Does 2 Timothy change that? Paul mentions (2 Tim 1:12) “he knows whom he has believed,” do you know whom it is that you have believed? 

Reflections by Taylor Floyd