Reflections Week of 4.23.17

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 Matthew 18 (Tuesday 4.25)

“Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” The answer Jesus gave to this question is one that we often think about in Christian circles: child-like humility. Though this brief answer would seem to suffice, Jesus takes the conversation into another direction that really fleshes out what our view and treatment of our fellow believers should look like. Though at first glance it may seem that Jesus changes the subject, what he really is doing is using extreme language to show how precious every believer is to God. Jesus uses hyperbole to show the extreme lengths we should be willing to go to avoid not only the destruction of sin in our lives, but especially the destruction we can cause in lives of those around us. Jesus also uses the illustration of the shepherd to show the love and care that the Father has for his children.

So instead of answering, “be humble,” Jesus shows what it means to love others above ourselves and seek their good above our own. Jesus shows that to be great in his kingdom, we have to have that same heart for others that he has.

For Reflection: Do you view and treat fellow believers with a love and humility that shows they are worth dying for, as Christ did? Are there any ways you are causing your fellow believer to stumble?

Read Matthew 21 (Thursday 4.27)

The parable Jesus gives about the two sons in this passage can be pretty convicting. The two different responses and subsequent actions speak to the heart of true repentance. In myself, I can see it is very easy to take what is heard, taught, learned and respond with a positive, “Yes! I agree” as opposed to a denial or rejection. But following up with actions that are in line with what God is teaching me or convicting me? It is all too easy to think of ways where I have failed. What do my actions then say about my response? They say that the repentance of my heart did not match the response of my mouth.

In this passage, Jesus is using this illustration to preach against the hypocrisy of the religious leaders, who practice their religion and put on a face of holiness, whereas in reality they are actually unrepentant at heart. Their actions are ultimately a rejection of Christ. As a believer, I realize that when I am in agreement with my mouth but not with my actions, I am acting in rejection of Christ and his work in my life!

Reflection: In what ways do you see yourself unrepentant to the Spirit’s conviction in your life? Are you in a place where you need to come in true repentance before God?

Reflections written by Daniel Rico

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Reflections Week of 4.16.17

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 Matthew 6 (Tuesday 4.18)

Many of us learned the Lord’s Prayer as children. We find that prayer here in Matthew. Just last week the K-2nd graders at my afterschool program were reviewing this prayer, discussing each line, and what it means to their lives. I was discouraged that day, overwhelmed by the intensity of midterm papers and work problems. After reciting each line, the children ended by chanting, quite loudly: “For YOURS is the kingdom, and YOURS is the power, and YOURS is the glory, forever, and ever, AMEN!”

While these closing lines are omitted in some translations, thought to be added later than the original authorship, the words were no less powerful. After praising the Father for his character, and humbly requesting provision and forgiveness, these children boldly proclaimed the sovereignty of God over their lives and the universe. A timely reminder.

Has it been a tough day? Have you faced unexpected challenges this week? As you walk and talk to God today, remember his sovereignty. The kingdom, the power, the glory, it’s all his! Forever, and ever, Amen. Let these words encourage your heart this week.

Read Matthew 9 (Thursday 4.20)

Throughout our reading this week, Jesus interacted frequently with the Pharisees. The Pharisees were a group of Jewish religious leaders who emphasized strict adherence to the law and traditions. These leaders often criticized Jesus’ ministry, as he did not fit into their religious framework. In Matthew chapter nine, we see Jesus calling a tax-collector (known as potentially shady characters), to be one of his disciples. Jesus then spends time in Matthew’s home, eating with other tax-collectors and unreligious Jews. The Pharisees quickly pointed out that Jesus was interacting with “sinners.” Jesus, the Son of God, who was both completely human and completely holy, responded, not by defending his actions, but referencing his purpose in ministry. Jesus didn’t come for the religious, or the ones who knew the truth—but for the ones needing spiritual life and renewal.

Living on a Christian college campus, I find myself settling down into the “holy huddle.” I relish my own walk with God, but raise an eyebrow in skepticism at the seekers I meet who have little understanding of truth. Meanwhile, I peg members of my student body who do street ministry as radical, struggling myself to even find ways to interact with unbelievers.

This passage reminds me that God’s truth is not meant to be stockpiled within the walls of the church, the Bible college, or my heart. I am meant to live out God’s truth, being the hands and feet of Jesus to those who need spiritual life. How do you interact with unbelievers? Do you see God’s truth only for yourself, or also for the unbeliever? Let’s find some new friends to eat with!

Reflections written by Emily Alexander

 

Reflections Week of 4.9.17

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 2 Samuel 15:2-12 (Monday 4.10)

Have you ever noticed how easily we, as humans, can be convinced that we need something…else? We tend to search for fulfillment in anything, like new jobs, relationships and social status, and we even join special causes. We want to feel cared for, important, and valued.

None of this is new of course; thousands of years ago, Absalom was able to actually convince many of the people of Israel that they needed to follow him as their king, while their real king was still alive and well. He made it seem easy, too.

Absalom intercepted those who were on their way to see King David, making them think that David couldn’t help them. “You can’t go to the king because he won’t hear you, but I can help you out! Just come with me.” [What a nice guy!]

Absalom kept the people from going straight to their king – as they should have – and drew their attention toward himself instead. They thought that he really cared, and that they needed him to make everything right.

Today, we still go after all sorts of people, ideas, and things, hoping to find justice, purpose, and fulfillment. We don’t realize that we’re turning away from our Real King, Jesus, who really can make everything right. We forget that in Him, we find purpose and value. We forget that when we go straight to Him, He can, and does, hear us, because He really cares.

For Reflection: Do you rely on people, experiences, or things to give you purpose or value? Do you really believe that Jesus cares for you? How do your answers to these questions affect the way you live?

 

Read 2 Samuel 22 (Thursday 4.13)

Here, we see David’s response to his victory in battle: a song of deliverance. Is anyone else impressed by his intense depiction of battle and the destruction of his enemies?

Sometimes I feel like he goes a little overboard with the whole destruction thing, but this time, I see that David just has an awesome view of God in His anger. He compares Him to earthquakes and volcanos, after all.

More impressive than David’s description of God’s wrath, is how and when it comes: against his enemies, right after David calls upon the LORD for help. To his enemies, this perfect God is a consuming fire, but to David, He is a shield of refuge and strength.

God is both just and merciful, taking vengeance on those who oppose Him, but showing grace to those in whom He delights (i.e. those who obey Him. v. 20-28).

How good it is that this awesome God delights in those who are in Jesus. How good it is that we are saved from God’s wrath, and He shows us His grace. All this, since God delighted in Jesus because He obeyed perfectly, and then was destroyed because of our disobedience. How good it is that we are delivered from the enemy and can run to a strong Rock of Salvation!

Spend some time praising God as David did, for His salvation and your refuge in Jesus.

Reflections written by Sarah Rico

Reflections Week of 4/2/17

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 2 Samuel 6:1-15 (Tuesday 4/4)

As long as your heart is in the right place… The church has championed this idea that God only cares about your heart. King David seems to have thought the same thing. David was returning the dwelling place of God, the Arc of the Covenant, on a cart instead of being carried as God commanded. Then as He is doing so the Arc begins to fall and naturally Ussah, who rightly feared the Arc hitting the ground reaches out to catch it thus touching what God had forbidden; and God struck him dead. Somewhat naturally we see David is angry with God. I imagine him yelling at God, “God he was saving your Arc!” We do this don’t we? We believe that as long as our hearts are in the “right place” our actions do not matter. God is showing David (and us) in this passage that our actions matter, doing things the way God says, matters. We have been saved so that we glorify God by obeying him.

Questions: Do you see the forgiveness of God as essential as the holiness of God? Are you seeking to have not just your heart but your actions transformed into the image of Christ? Do you do things God’s way or the way you think is “better”?

Read 2 Samuel 12:1-15 (Friday 4/7)

How easy it is to sit in the seat of judgement on others all the while blind to our sin. IT is easy to hear stories in the news or tales from friends and judge others actions but often times we are overlooking the blaring evil in our own hearts. But we do not only see a blinded ego here but a God fearing man who has fallen. Like all of us David sinned in the darkness but what kept him the “man after God’s own heart” was his fear of the Lord. Notice that Davids first response is recognition of his sin and a submission to God’s discipline. His sin was still covered for eternity and yet there were consequences for that sin in this life.

Questions: Do we respond this way when our sin is brought to light? Do we admit it? How about when God disciplines us?

**BONUS REFLECTION**

2 Samuel 12 (Friday 4/7)

You know how every Sunday Pastor Tim leads us in prayer to mourn the moments in the week that we chose to disobey God? In those choices, we are ignoring God and desiring sin.

With each sin, we choose to gratify us rather than glorify Him.

Throughout history, people have looked back at the relationship of David and God as a spectacular and unique one. Yet, here is David, who has been repeatedly sheltered from unthinkable danger, literally killing the people who stand in the way of what he wants. It’s like he is sinning just for funsies..

Because God is a hands-on God, He sends Nathan to remind David, in detail, of all the things God has done for him. “Why have you despised the Word of the Lord by doing evil in His sight?”

Ouch.

God pulls no punches with those He loves, and here He is painfully honest about the weight of David’s sin. David dismisses blessings the Lord heaped on him by choosing to gratify himself rather than glorify God.

David repented.

And God, because He is God, forgives it all.

There is so much more to this story, but I’ll stop there.

Your sin doesn’t go unnoticed, and it will not go unforgiven, but what is there to gain by choosing to gratify you rather than glorify Him?

Reflections written by Taylor Floyd and Liz Doogan