Reflections Week of 12/25/16

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 2 Peter 3:8-10 (Monday 12/26)

“…with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” That’s one of those truths I don’t think I will ever be able to really wrap my mind around. I can understand it (sort of) intellectually, God is outside of time and thus time is not measure for him like it is for us. But what that means, how it affects (or doesn’t affect) the way he he acts and what he does, that’s a mystery to me. That he can see all the good, all the bad, all at the same time, and still be just and and righteous, clearly we are not like God. Because time doesn’t apply to God it means he isn’t slow to act, he isn’t ever running late, he’s never uttered the phrase “there’s not enough hours in the day”— something I feel all to often. Time controls us. When’s my next appointment, how much time do I have to write this reflection, how long will this meeting take? Time is always pressing on us, but not on God. Which means when he answers prayers and we feel like he is taking too long, in reality it is right on time. God is always on time, even when we are perpetually 10 minutes late to everything.

For Reflection: Think back to a time when you felt God was taking too long to answers a prayer one way or the other. How would things have been different if it would have happened on your imperfect timeline as opposed to God’s? What did you learn in the waiting?

Read Deuteronomy 1:1-8 (Tuesday 12/27)

I recently heard a great sermon from Pastor Mark Batterson entitled “Enough is Enough” (go check it out when you have a chance). As I think about this passage I think about the seasons we go through in our lives. Sometimes it is a season of constant change and movement and we don’t know what is coming next. Sometimes we go through hard seasons where God is trying to teach us something or correct something in us. As we move from one season to the next I can picture God saying “You have been in this season long enough, it’s time for something new.” I am so thankful to have a God who knows what I need and where I need to be and the fact that he is paying attention to just how long I need to be in each stage or season of my life. With 2016 coming to a close and 2017 on the horizon I can’t help but begin to daydream and pray about what’s next for me, my family, and our church. Here’s what gets me excited, God never tells us to leave somewhere without a future place already set up ahead of time. 

For Reflection: Is God telling you to leave the mountain you’ve been camped at and go to something new? Pray for clear direction, pray for wisdom and discernment. What would it look like for a new season in your life to come about?

Reflections written by Tim Gioia

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Reflections Week of 12.18.16

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 1 Peter 1:6-9 (Wednesday 12/21)

As I was reading the passages for this week I was stopped by this text. I have read these verses numerous times and yet I realized that I always assume trials to be mountains. Let me explain. We I have read this in the past I have been tempted to think of those dying for the faith, a painful divorce, or severe health issues. First I want to assume that this passage does include incredibly difficult trials such as these. But I also want to ask what else qualifies?

You see when Peter wrote this He had God’s sovereignty in mind. That means that in ever single situation/trial/thing that is difficult or uncomfortable, God allowed it. That means that every time you stub your toe, lose your wallet, are late for work, lose a job, relationship, or a life, God is there and What this passage tells us is that God is there not as a judge but as a blacksmith who is molding/purifying us. God gives us trials to shape us and mold us, to make us better. What would your day look like if every time something went wrong you saw it as a trial and that every time a trial came you approached it knowing that God is making you into pure gold through it, if you will let him?

For Reflection: Next time something goes wrong don’t ask God what you did wrong but rather what would God like you to do right. How is God purifying your soul?

Read 1 Peter 4:1-6 (Friday 12.23)

Have you ever had a conversation that felt like this? Ever been asked to go along with a group but said no because of the activities? Have you ever been ridiculed because you wouldn’t go along? It sees that in todays world I have this feeling more and more often. We live in a nation that glorifies every type of sensuality, encourages the feeding of every fleshly passion without restraint and then turns around and criticizes or worse those who disagree and do not participate.

I find this a helpful reminder that this is not abnormal behavior, that the way our world is looking does not come as a surprise to God. It is also notable that the beginning of this passage is an encouragement to step away from a worldly lifestyle and to pursue the will of God. It is not only the world that will rage against us for being different but our own flesh demands obedience, and it is in that struggle that Peter exhorts us to live rather for God.

For Reflection: Have you ever but judged for not participating in sin with everyone else? In what ways might you still be living for human passions rather than God’s will? What steps can you take this week to pursue God’s will over those passions?

Reflections written by Taylor Floyd 

Reflections Week of 12/12/16

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 Numbers 24:10-25 (Wednesday 12/14)

This is a book of the Bible we haven’t often visited, and we’re surprised to see Biblical themes we know well in stories we’re not used to. In this reading of Numbers, we noticed the theme of power. In fact, the whole reading, that is what we kept coming back to in our discussion: from Moses to the donkey to the Baal worship at Peor, it is about people trying to take power from God. In this section, Balak had been trying to get God to change his mind about Israel. Finally, Balaam says, look. You think it’s just me that’s saying this stuff. Look around you! All the nations you know of seem like they’re being controlled by people. You think Moab and Edom and Seir are strong nations run by powerful leaders. But God knows how each one of these nations will be destroyed. And you won’t even be around to see it! After hearing this, Balak is finally convinced. He stops arguing. And he realizes that God is too powerful to be swayed.

For Reflection: Who in your life do you think has power over you?

Read Numbers 27:1-11 (Friday 12/16)

If the God of the previous section seems scary and unyielding, there is comfort in this story. God still has the power. But he demonstrates his softness, and reasonableness, and grace. Some women in the community say, “Hey our dad died and he was a sinner and he got what he deserved. But because we’re women, we’re now being punished for our dad’s sin. Because we can’t own his property. Our whole line goes down the toilet unless something can be done.” In the last section, over and over we saw God say, “No. I am in charge. You don’t get to make the rules.” Here, we see a different side of him. Yes, God says, You’re right, you don’t deserve that. And because God makes the rules, God is able to set a precedent. This side of God is personal and interested in the fate of these three women.

For Reflection: Does it ever feel like God is too big to have your own personal interests in mind?

Reflections written by Amy and Wayne Giacalone

Reflections week of 12/4/16

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 Numbers 9:1-14 (Tuesday 12/6)

I’m taken aback by this telling of the Passover. It’s not about the Passover observation, rather the people who observe it. This passage takes place just two years after the Jews escaped 430 years of slavery in Egypt.

So we step into verse 6 to see a group of Jewish men; they are concerned about their involuntary uncleanliness and how it could affect their participation in the Passover celebration. They go to Moses hoping for grace to partake; a year seemed too long to wait to celebrate God’s mercy. Moses has the wisdom to say,

“I don’t know, I have to ask God.”

Through the Tent of Meeting, God tells Moses that those who are involuntarily unclean may wait just one month, not a year, for their Passover. Our God is gracious, He loves His people, and gives Himself freely to those who desire Him.

At Passover, a lamb is slain to represent the Lamb of God, Jesus, who was to be sacrificed to pay for the sins of mankind. Christ paved the way for Jews, Gentiles, Children of God to seek Him freely. We have the opportunity to go before Him each day. And yet I don’t believe most of us long for Him in the way this group of men did. They begged Moses for a way that they could celebrate the gifts God had given to them. Christ is our Great High Priest who allows us to go before God at any time.

For Reflection: When was the last time you longed to give praise to God like these men did?

Read Numbers 15:22-28 (Friday 12/9)

I have a tendency to avoid the Old Testament. Some of my favorite instances in Scripture are there, and yet, I am terrified of it. There is so much law, and so much anger. It’s a place where the Holy Spirit is fleeting and sin is repaid by death.

But I’m wrong. That’s not the case. Well. Ok. Sort of it is because this is pre-Christ. But what I’m seeing so much of, more than I ever expected, is grace. In Numbers 15:22-28, we see God, through Moses, give a plan for grace to those who sin unintentionally. Have you ever looked back on an even and wondered, “Did I do that wrong? Was that wrong?

In this case, whether an individual or a whole nation, God offers a way out for the sinner, through the community sacrificing a goat or cow. But then, come verse 30 we see what happens when someone does defy the Lord intentional: They are to be stoned, exiled, or killed.

First glance: Zero grace.

Second look: Flooded in grace.

But think back to Jesus, He who is to take away the sin of the world, our ultimate sacrifice who is and was and is to come. Our very beings are sinful. The things we do are not what make us sinful. We are inherently people who mess up. When measured against God’s holiness, we would all be found wanting. But seeing this person who was killed for chopping lumber on the Sabbath is, for us, a reminder of the death from which we have been saved.

For Reflection: What does God’s provision of a communal sacrifice for the sins of a nation say about His Atonement for the sins of the world?

Reflections written by Liz Doogan