Reflections Week of 5.28.17

 

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 Corinthians 2:5-11 (Tuesday 5.30)

The Church is the body of Christ and is incomplete without any one of its members. As the Church, we leave no man behind. This section is about a Christian who sinned against Paul and against the church. Paul points out here that the sin committed wasn’t just against him, but against everyone. That’s the nature of sin – it never affects only you, it will always affect the Church. Paul says that we are not ignorant of Satan’s designs – what are Satan’s designs? To keep a Christian in the dark, to keep him alone, to tell him that no one will ever know about his sin and it doesn’t hurt anyone. But who is Satan? The Father of Lies!

What is Paul’s instruction for the church in this case? Isn’t it to forgive the sinner and bring him or her back into the community? When we forgive a fellow Christian, we bring them into community and fellowship. Satan is about keeping people alone and in the dark, but God is about keeping Christians together, maintaining the unity of the Church, and bringing people into the light.

Questions for Reflection: Is there a fellow Christian whom you need to forgive? What do you find beautiful about the unity of the church?

2 Corinthians 11 (Saturday 6.3)

The Christian life is not all about feelings, we all know that. But they are important enough for Paul to address one aspect of our feelings towards Christ in this chapter: the sincerity of our devotion towards Him. Paul wrote this chapter to prove his apostleship, and by proving his apostleship he was telling the Corinthians that the gospel he preached to them was true. This was important because the Corinthian church was plagued by false teachers who were trying to twist Jesus into someone He wasn’t.

Like the Corinthians, we often have ideas in our heads about who Jesus is that are simply not true, and those ideas take away from the sincerity of our devotion towards Him. Ask the Holy Spirit if there are any false ideas you have about Jesus and ask Him to reveal to you who Christ really is. Take time getting to know Him and cultivate a sincere devotion to Him by spending time with Him. Find new ways to spend time with the Lord and let His deep love for you draw you to Himself and inspire a love for Him in return.

Questions for Reflection: How is your love towards Christ? Do you feel a love towards Him? Are there any false ideas of Christ that you believe?

Reflections written by Monica Friesen

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Reflections Week of 5.21.17

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 Kings 13 (Monday 5.22)

I don’t always know how to ask for things well. Even when it comes to legitimate needs, I find myself without quite the right words to tell God, or tell friends or family, that I need something. Is it pride that prevents me? Is it a strange asceticism? Often, I think it’s just that I simply don’t think of it; a kind of low-grade ennui. Things are the way they are, and I have to deal with them. In this story, King Jehoash is given a really strange command by Elisha. Elisha says to open the window and shoot arrows into the ground. This would, Elisha promised, give Jehoash victory over Aram. This is so interesting to me, because the means of grace in this story isn’t glamorous. It barely makes sense. It seems like just a symbol. When Jehoash shoots three arrows into the ground, Elisha yells at him, three victories?! That’s all you want? Somehow Jehoash fails to ask for enough. Maybe he feels silly. Maybe he doesn’t trust God to deliver. Or maybe he simply doesn’t think to ask for more, like I often do. I read this and hear what Elisha might say to me: Is that all you want? This is God you’re asking! Ask for more! 

For Reflection: Is there anything you neglect to ask God for?

Read 2 Kings 20:1-11 (Thursday  5.25)

Shooting arrows into he ground symbolically is maybe a weird way for God to have you get what you ask for. But in these verses we see a very normal, almost mundane means of grace: prayer. Hezekiah is told that he’s going to die. So he faces the wall, and in honest and earnestness prays for more time. This prayer isn’t like the prayers we’re taught to pray now. Because this is pre-Jesus, and pre-promise-of-eternal-life, Hezekiah really things he’s facing the end of things. And he banks on his own righteousness, reminding God how how good he’s been. What’s encouraging about this is that God accepts this prayer in all it’s imperfection. Before Isaiah makes it out of there, God’s decided to give him fifteen more years. Even more beautiful, when Hezekiah asks for a sign that God will fulfill his promise, God agrees to give him one. He stops time on the sundial! Of course God is not going to give every person who asks this exact grace. But what if Hezekiah had not asked?

For Reflection: What is the value of an honest, private, earnest prayer?

Reflections written by Amy Giacalone

Reflections Week of 5-14-17

Read 2 Kings 2 (Monday 5.15)

Only one other person in the Bible at this point had been taken up to heaven. Genesis 5:24 says that, “God took him”. With very little to go off of in terms of previous actions, this act was both incredibly significant and confoundingly mysterious. Considering the dramatic flair of the horse and chariots, it is clear that Elijah had done incredible work for the Lord. However, as a child, this passage left me perplexed. Embarrassingly, in my early years as an eleven year old, newly found believer, I had wanted that special treatment that Elijah had gotten. “You know how cool it would be if I was taken up to heaven in a sweet looking ride during the middle of my math test”, I thought to myself with a smile. Imagine my disappointment when I realized that I would have to hang out on earth for the time being. It’s possible that Elisha could have felt this way as well. As the next in line, imagine his struggle in living up to the man who was literally, personally, recognized by God himself! But if anything, it is Elisha’s resolve to continue on in the ministry that is inspiring in 2 Kings 2. “The Spirit of Elijah rests on Elisha” is said in verse 15, and serves as an excellent reminder to keep the faith after others go on.

Read 2 Kings 4:1-7 (Tuesday 5/16)

This passage always struck me as powerful because it sets such a clear example of God’s provision. A woman befalls tragedy. Elisha asks how he can help and what resources she has. She literally has nothing except a jar of oil. It is at this point that Elisha could have given her a few coins and moved on. Instead, she has to grab extra containers to hold all the oil she now has. What’s so interesting to me is the fact that she eventually says that there are no more containers, and then, “…the oil stops flowing.” While seemingly trivial the idea is huge. The idea of the perfect amount. This story could have ended with the widow having an overabundance of oil, and by extension, wealth. However, the idea of the containers matching up with the exact amount of oil needed to both pay their debts and live on is an act of God within itself. There is a duality here, of this woman being able to be rid of her debt, but also being able to continue to live as she had. No more, no less. It shows as an awesome example of God’s provision.

Reflections written by Jax Gorman

Reflections Week of 5.7.17

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 1 Kings 11:1-8 (Monday 5.8)

It’s very easy for me to read about Solomon and his 700 wives and 300 concubines and say, “Good thing I don’t have that temptation!” and continue on our merry way. But as I was reading this passage, I got stuck on the wording of God’s instructions. “You shall not enter into marriage with them, neither shall they with you, for surely they will turn your heart after their gods.” We may not be faced with Solomon’s exact dilemma here- when was the last time you had trouble resisting marrying 1000 pagan princesses? But we do have other things that take our focus and our attention from God. I can easily think of three to five things that sometimes get in the way of my relationship with God. It’s very easy for me to read those instructions and change the wording slightly to reflect how God feels about some of the things I give my attention to. Don’t listen to those songs, for surely they will turn your heart after other things. Don’t get hung up on your bank balance and worship money, for surely it will turn your heart after other things. Our choices have consequences- maybe not on as large a scale as Solomon’s, which impacted a whole nation of people, but in our personal lives for sure. And, as Dumbledore from the Harry Potter books said, “It is our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” We can preach good sermons and write good reflections and know all the books of the Bible backwards and forwards, but if we still pursue things that draw us away from God, that reflects on who we are more than how we present ourselves. We may even think that our choices are hidden, and no one else has to know about them, but we know that God does. We will still choose things that are detrimental to us and our relationship with God, but the beauty of the cross is that we keep getting second chances to make better choices.

Reflection Questions: What are some things that take away from your relationship with God? When you pray, acknowledge them and ask God to help you overcome them. Consciously think about some of the choices you make today and how they impact you in this way.

1 Kings 19: 9-18 (Friday 5.12) 

This passage has always intrigued me, and it has struck me a different way each time I read it. I imagine Elijah in this cave, knowing that someone is trying to kill him, and frustrated by the lack of faith of the people he is trying to help. And this is just after a great display of the Lord’s might (1 Kings 18:20-40) that was so clearly demonstrated for all to see. Let’s compare the two acts of God that we read about here. The first, in chapter 18, is a public display of God’s might. In a challenge issued to the priests of Baal, a false god, Elijah suggested that they call upon their respective gods to light a fire. Baal’s priests (450 vs. 1 Elijah) try everything they can think of to ask Baal to prove them right. Nada. Then Elijah doesn’t just ask God to light this fire for him, he even douses the wood with four jugs worth of water. Not even a really good Boy Scout could light that up. Yet God does it with ease when Elijah calls on his name. And still, the spiritual war against Baal and his priests and the people in power who hold this god above the true Lord is an uphill battle. If I were Elijah, I’d be pretty frustrated. So here Elijah sits in this cave, still grieving the lack of faith from the people of Israel. God shows up again for Elijah, in a very different display. Elijah experiences a strong wind, an earthquake, and an intense fire, but scripture says that the Lord was not in any of these. Instead, the Lord is in a small whisper that comes after the fire. I like to think that after all of these intense things, this small whisper brought with it a strong sense of peace. Sometimes we forget that not only can God do great, extraordinary things, He is also with us in mundane moments. God is our fierce warrior, but He is also our gentle comforter.

Reflection Questions: Are you actively listening for the gentle whispers from God? Will you allow him to impact you in a gentle and maybe unexpected way?

Reflections written by Lauren Devries

Reflections Week of 4.30.17

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 27 (5.1 Monday)

“46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”  These are the only words recorded by Matthew of Jesus as He hung on the cross.  After He cried these words, Matthew recorded that He cried out one more time and yielded up His spirit, but other than that these are the only words in Matthew’s Gospel of Jesus during His time on the cross.

He did not mention the physical pain of the crucifixion, or of the pain crown of thorns that had been placed on His head earlier.  He did not cry or become angry because of the insults and the mockery that was being flung at Him.  He did not mention the dried saliva from those who had spit on His face.

Some of the other books recorded Jesus saying some other words as He was on the cross, but not Matthew.  This makes me wonder if he was trying to emphasize these particular words.  Either way, the words are there.  It seems to me like what put Jesus in the most agony, what He was most concerned with, was God the Father “forsaking” Him.

Reflection Questions: Do you think that God has ever forsaken you? Or that He ever will? What do you think would happen if God did forsake, or turn His back to someone?

Read 1 Kings 3:1-15 (5.3 Wednesday)  

“Solomon loved the Lord, walking in the statutes of David his father, only he sacrificed and made offerings at the high places.”  Solomon loved “the Lord”, not what the Lord could give Him.  Reflecting on this text I thought that this was a very important point to note.  This reminds me of Psalm 42:1-2: “As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. 2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?”

As this scene progresses, we see Solomon ask for wisdom so he can faithfully lead God’s people.  He calls it a great task to lead God’s people.  The fact that Solomon asked for wisdom for the purpose of leading God’s people faithfully, I believe points back to the fact that Solomon loved God.  Solomon loved God, it even says that he would offer 1,000 burnt offering at a time to God.  So when he got the chance to get anything he wanted, it was not unnatural for him to ask for something that pleased God and others first and foremost.

Reflection Questions: Do you find that you love and desire God Himself? Being in His presence? Or do you find yourself having more happiness from what He might do for you?

Reflections written by Wade Henderson