Reflections Week of 1/29/17

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 Joshua 10 (Monday 1/30)

Do you ever feel like life is a battle and you’re trying to fight it alone? Recently, it occurred to me that I had been living in a constant state of fear and anxiety for months, but I had just “sucked it up” until it produced physical problems and pain.

A few weeks later, I read Joshua 10, and two things stood out to me. First, God told Joshua not to fear (v.8). Not a suggestion, a command. Wait a minute, does that mean that to hold onto fear is disobedience…sin? Yep. Deciding to fear, to worry, to withhold trust from God when He has commanded otherwise is sin. Okay, mind blown. I’m so used to holding onto my thoughts and feelings like they belong to me, but clearly, God demands control of those, too.

The second thing that stood out to me was that God didn’t just tell Joshua to trust Him, He fought for Israel (v.14, 42). He actually defeated Israel’s enemies Himself, by raining down hail and making the sun stand still for a day.

This is super comforting to me because it proves that God doesn’t tell me to surrender my struggles and then not do anything about them: He follows through. If God conquered five armies at once, and He commands even the elements, He can certainly solve my problems.

So how about my heart and mind? My anxiety hasn’t completely gone away, but now I view it differently. I know I don’t have to hide it from God or give into it – in fact, God tells me not to: He says, “Trust Me, I’ve got this.”

For Reflection: What “battles” are you trying to fight alone? If you knew that God was fighting for you, would you trust Him?

Read Joshua 12 (Tuesday 1/31)

This passage makes me feel a whole jumble of emotions: triumph, vindication, incredulity, disgust, anger, sadness, fear, humility, awe, and praise. My first thought is, “Yeah! Get ‘em!!” like when the bad guys get caught and the good guys win in a cop show or movie. It feels great when justice is served.

But then I realize that the warriors of Israel defeated, destroyed, 33 kings and their people. War is horrible, and thinking about it makes me sick and angry; How could God command the destruction of even one city?

Then I remember that those cities did not know, love, trust, or obey God; they were not His friends, but His enemies. God does not take rebellion lightly, and He always serves justice (in Exodus, we saw that God prevented almost an entire generation of Israel from entering the Promised Land because they rebelled by mistrusting Him).

Suddenly I’m sad that justice has two sides, and I fear for those whom God does not count as His friends. It is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of The Living God.

Then I am humbled when I remember that I rebel, I mistrust, and I disobey God on a daily basis: I deserve to be destroyed as His enemy. Yet The Almighty God who always serves justice calls me His friend because Jesus paid my rebel’s debt. The God who conquers kings and nations fights for me because He destroyed His own Son in my place. Oh, what a God; what a Savior!

For Reflection: Do you see God as Holy and Just? Do you ever praise Jesus for paying the price for your sin?

Reflections Written by Sarah Rico

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Reflections Week of 1/22/17

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 Romans 13 (Monday 1/23)

“Let everyone be subject to the ruling authorities” complicated… Trump…Hillary… what are we to do? Thinking about this I was keenly aware of the next verse that speaks of God’s sovereign decision to elect our leaders. But what happens if we have an evil leader? What if they want to do bad or force us to do things that are unChrist-like?

My first thought here is that we can rest in God’s decision to place our leaders over us, knowing He is in control. There have been many evil and wicked leaders that God has used to bring about justice and righteousness for His name sake.

The second thought draws from Jesus’ words “render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s and unto God that which is God’s.” Authority has been given to our leaders by God and as I look upon this text I feel the conviction to serve those leaders. Paul in this passage implies governments that are generally seeking good for their people and punishing evil. Today I believe we have a government who does the same and as far as it is biblical and Christ-like we ought to render our new leadership the respect that their offices deserve. We as Christians should be the first to fight for what is right but also to do so in a God honoring and loving way.

Read Romans 14 (Monday 1/23)

For many years I have looked to passages like this one to find out the rules for engagement. What should we be doing or not be doing, in front of or away from others. As I was reading through this passage again I realized something… Christ died so that He could be Lord over all. In our zeal for truth and for right living I think we tend to forget the reason and the way we live rightly and that is Jesus Christ.

Paul, in this passage, is reorienting our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith. He is saying, “Stop looking at your good and bad scale and look to Jesus!” We all need to be looking to Jesus for ourselves and allowing others the same vision, to look upon the Son of God and behold his Righteousness and Love. When we are looking to Christ our priorities change and our vision of the world begins to morph. Our lives change coarse and our actions follow suit as we seek the very person we are being conformed to.

Reflections written by Taylor Floyd

Reflections Week of 1/16/17

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 Romans 1:9-13 (Monday 1/16)

Life has many wrenches and detours which are placed in our paths. The Apostle Paul was no exception to this rule, indeed many times his plans were changed or altered on the spot. His love for the Church in Rome lit a fire in Paul to desire to see them and to be with them to encourage them. Even when he cannot make it in person he takes the time to write and send them quite a hefty letter. He makes an effort to do the next best thing possible in his situation. I know in the past year there are have been many changes in my life and ministry plan. My earnest desire to travel and encourage a specific group of people has become at the very least pushed far to the future. Like Paul, I have the option to look at my situation in life and reflect on how this time can be used for the purpose of gaining ‘fruit’ for myself and others. I could also look at it as a set-back which presents doom and disaster for my whole life and precedes a meltdown. Yet, Paul gives an example for how believers are to rise up to their circumstances and bear fruit.

For Reflection: What situation in your life do you feel is put on hold? How can you bear fruit in preparation for when or if that chance presents itself? Who are some people you can meet up with and encourage? What are the circumstances which you need to overcome to strengthen their spiritual gifts?

Read Romans 12:1-2 (Saturday 1/21)

I am occasionally struck by the thought that many who do not believe in Christ consider Christianity illogical or fancifully foolish. Granted there are aspects of the Christian life which are difficult and may go against the grain of our humanity (i.e. Loving your neighbor). Particularly for Paul the mind is one of the most powerful tools a Christian has. With it one can hear and believe, by employing it fully one can understand and embrace teaching, and when constantly renewing one’s mind they are able to find transformation. Too many times I tend to let my mind wonder or be distracted. I may give my mind to the flashes of color that we call television. I may absorb my mind in negative thoughts which are like rotten fruit. But Paul calls his readers to renew their mind, to present themselves as a living sacrifice. This action is what he calls a logical service, something which makes sense in light of the powerful claims of the Gospel. I believe Paul’s exhortation is a wise statement for believers to follow today. As a Christian, our minds are one of the most important ways in which we may live the Christian life well.

For Reflection: What is something in your weekly schedule which takes some of your ‘Brain Space’ away from being renewed? What would it look like it you cut that out of your day? What are some doctrines or teachings which you are interested in learning more about?

Reflections written by Jake Carlson

Reflections Week of 1/8/17

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 Deuteronomy 28 (Wednesday 1.11)

Have you ever heard someone say, “I deserve this; God owes me this”?

It’s usually just before a selfish move or an unholy act.

We have this understanding of God that He is so loving, so gracious, that He…owes us something?

But when you look back over Deuteronomy, over so much of the Old Testament, we see that it cannot be the case. It took about 27 chapters of laws and rules to get to Chapter 28, where the blessings of the Lord are outlined. But wait: It’s only half the chapter, because in verse 15 we jump right back into the ways our unrighteousness is causation for curses.

Reminder: This passage is meant for the nation of Israel, God’s chosen people. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t meant for you and I, the Gentile. We are no longer held to this law, but we are measured by it. In Galatians 3:10, Paul uses this passage to show that literally everyone is sinful.

What I’m getting at here is that we are all sinful. We do not deserve blessings from God; we do not deserve God. But He keeps doing this thing where He says “You are always going to fail me, but I am always going to love you.” Some days I feel like I cannot stop sinning. Be it speeding or thinking an unkind thought or whatever else. God is aware of all of the opportunities we take to sin. And yet God has still called us to Himself.

For Reflection: When was the last time you were honest with God about the motivation of your obedience? Why not try talking to him about that today.

Read Deuteronomy 32-33 (1.13-14 Friday-Saturday)

Have you thought recently about how much poetry there is in Scripture? I often consider the historical side of the Bible, with all of its letters and accounts. But then I come to places like the end of Deuteronomy where Moses ends this heavy book of law with two beautiful songs of praise– and I am awestruck.

I like to imagine that Moses felt so heavily the weight of the law and was so very overwhelmed with the goodness and righteousness of our God that he collapsed into a time of writing for the joy of it, because the need to praise was real. And, for a writer who loves their God, it is not surprising that this incredible love song flowed from his pen.

Did you know that this is the first time in Scripture that God is called a “Rock”? To us that seems like a standard description, found on mugs and t-shirts. But this is the first time, at least in writing, that these words were spoken of Him. He is permanent, He is constant, He is unwavering. He is a firm foundation that we might stand on all of our days and never lose our footing. Moses could have said that straight out, but instead he described God as a rock. He said what He felt about God based on what he knew was true of God. He used his gift of writing that God had given him to write the law, then he used his gift of writing to turn it into poetry.

For Reflection: Try to think of a new way to describe God that is special to you. What represents His role in your life?

Reflections Written by Liz Doogan  

Reflections Week of 1/1/17

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 Deuteronomy 12:8-9 (Monday 1/2)

These two verses of Deuteronomy 12 stuck out to me in particular when I think about the way Christians are called to be set apart, and do things differently than the rest of the world. The “to each his own” mentality is a very worldly mentality that divides people and makes our society much more individualistic than is healthy. I think the phrasing here can apply to a lot of different things in our lives, and points us to what is always a better way, a way in Christ. We have yet to come into what God has to offer us, which allows us to continue to live in a sense of togetherness, under God’s law and covenant. When we live by “each doing what is right in their own eyes”, we lack community and push people away. We leave little to no room for vulnerability and dependence. What I love most about CF is how close we are as a community of believers. We don’t have to fend for ourselves or be alone in anything, because we know that our community is furthering the kingdom of God. Rather than let our individuality (which often means our selfishness) lead us, we should let our sight on God lead us together.

 

Read Deuteronomy 14:22-29 (Tuesday 1/3)

Growing up without a lot of money or financial stability, tithing has always been a little hard for me to wrap my head around. However, reading from Deuteronomy and seeing the original instructions and intention for tithing has something more beautiful and understandable about it. Tithing has always been about two things- thanking God for his provision by giving back to him, and taking care of others in the community. Perhaps things were much simpler in biblical times when communities were more compact and close, but coming from a megachurch to CF, a much smaller church, I can see this more clearly reflected in our tithing. We give back to God by supporting His church, and in turn, we can clearly see in our budget where our tithes go, and how we support each other and our community. This context for tithes has been a blessing for me in my understanding of a current tradition that we continue now.

Reflections written by Lauren DeVries