Reflections Week of 7/30/17

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 Titus 3 (7/31 Monday)

I know for me, I constantly want to do it all. Any responsibility I can ask for, I ultimately go for it. As you can imagine, this lands me in far more trouble more often than I can count. This very reflection you are reading was a day late in of itself. I miss up. Constantly. Like all the time. It gets frustrating. “Why can’t I just, you know, do everything right 100% of the time, all the time, every time?” Well, turning to Titus, we see something amazing. That fact, the fact that sometimes we don’t do what we need to do, or that we are foolish and disobedient as it says in verse 3, is okay.

In fact, Paul makes sure to say this over and over again. It’snot by our own works, it isn’t by what we can accomplish, it isn’t about the number of dollars in our paycheck or the amount of rooms we rent. It’s about Jesus. It’s about grace! It’s about the fact that Jesus comes in-between us and has died on our behalf.

Ultimately, try your best. Get your reflections in on time kids.

Question for Reflection: What is one thing you have been struggling with that you can give over to God?

Read Esther 7 (8/4 Friday)

Esther sticks out from the other books in the Bible for a number of reasons. Esther 7 shows just how calm, cool, and collected she is through this entire story. The fact that she was able to request anything from the king in the first place is a testament to her strong determination and massive amount of respect she had garnered from both the king and the kingdom itself.

What struck me the most was her selfless words in verse three, asking for peace and safety for not only her, but for the entirety of her people. She stood up for those who did not have a voice and could not speak out against the injustices set before her.

The story continues, and basically concludes, with Haman getting a death sentence, the foe ultimately being vanquished. However Esther never takes a moment to boast about how great she is, or how she single handedly defeated Haman. Rather, she remains humble, an excellent example to us all.

Question for Reflection: Have you ever met anyone who has shown humbleness similar to Esther?

Reflections written by Jax Gorman

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Reflections Week of 7/23/17

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 Nehemiah 4:14 (Monday 7/24)

“Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes”.

Our God will fight for us. He will see us through the storms. He will offer his encouragement and his helping hand because he is great and awesome! Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome. The definition of awesome is: extremely impressive or daunting; inspiring great admiration, apprehension, or fear. We use this word loosely in modern language but the definition of this word and its connection to Christ seems to be most fitting and appropriate.

Extremely impressive,

He shouts, “do not be afraid”,

Daunting in grand love,

Inspiring great admiration,

Our God will fight for us,

He will see us through the valley,

He will help us build the wall,

He will rise amongst the weary,

With him we will not fall.

When my enemies taunt and ridicule,

I will not be led astray,

I will protect the walls that have built this home,

Listen and obey,

I will defend and protect,

I will seek to know,

The wonder of our God,

Great and awesome,

Splendor and beauty,

Even the mightiest view,

Cannot be greater than our God.

*Spend a few moments to reflect on the awesome qualities of our God! In what way do you see his extremely impressive and yet daunting qualities? Write a simple poem about the awesome qualities of our God that you see in your daily life, through other Christians, or through scripture. (If you need help getting started, spell out the word AWESOME vertically, and write a word or phase that describes the awesome qualities of our God using the letters from the word awesome to begin your word/phrase.)

Read Nehemiah 9 (Thursday 7/27)

This passage allows for me to reflect on my own history and the ways in which God has revealed himself strongly in my life through different seasons. The Levites prayer expresses Gods abundant grace and mercy through memories of their lived history and God’s continued commitment to his people. Upon reflection of these accounts, confessions are interwoven, revealing insight to the times they, “stiffened their neck and did not obey your commandments” (9:16). Throughout the prayer they continue to recall our God who is, “ready to forgive, gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love…and did not forsake them.” (9:17)

I love the idea of praying prayers of memories of God’s abundant grace in our lives on super specific accounts. I can so easily get wrapped up in my day-to-day routine, which often distracts me from the grace and mercy that Christ continually has and does extend to me. I received a letter from my mom in the mail today which reminded me very much of this prayer. She started the letter by telling me really sweet mom things, but concluded the letter with a list of things To praise God for… On this list she wrote nine very specific accounts from this past month in which God was gracious, merciful, and abounding in steadfast love. It was a sweet and simple reminder of the many ways God has been present in my life the past month, many of which I would have glossed over had it not been for my mom’s written account of these blessings.

*Take the time to prayerfully consider the ways in which God has been so good to you. Make a list of 5-10 specific accounts in the past month in which his faithfulness, mercy and grace have been extended to you.

Reflections written by Leslie Garb

Reflections Week of 7/9/17

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.

2 Chronicles 30:6-9

It’s very easy to get caught up in the mindset of “This is how it always has been, and that’s how I will continue”. We see it all the time- in US and world history, in the Bible, and in our own families and personal lives. It’s easier to keep going the direction you’ve always gone than to break from it. Here, Hezekiah is urging the people of Israel to return to the Lord, and to not be like their fathers before them. Perhaps they turned away from the Lord, or did not do what was right, but with each person or generation, there is always grace in the choice to come back to God. This offer from Hezekiah also has some cultural connotations relating to captors and freedom. He promises that those who fled will find “compassion with their captors” because of the Lord’s mercy. One of my favorite worship songs is “Draw Near” by Bethel, and the lyrics that catch my ear are “Draw near to me/For I have drawn near to you. Pull on the strings of my hear/For I long to respond to you.” This is the message conveyed in the last half of verse 9. The Lord is offering an alternative to His righteous anger, if only His people will return to seeking him. The two points I want to make here are that sometimes we lose sight of what it means to be seeking the Lord, and that it is never too late to return to the way we were meant to be with the Lord, whether your parents or grandparents or whoever spiritually mentored you exemplified the right way to do so. You can break free from your wrong ways at any time, and go running back to the Lord. The best part is that He will always take you back.

Questions for reflection: Where in your life have you strayed from the right way? What will it take for you to return to the Lord? Ask the Holy Spirit for guidance and strength to do so.

1 John 1:1-5

Sometimes, I think that the part of being a Christian that I am the most uncomfortable with is confession. It’s hard to own up to things that we’ve done that we knew were wrong, or things that we didn’t know were wrong until after we did them. It’s uncomfortable to acknowledge sin. However, I think that reading this passage is a good reminder of why we need to live in that discomfort- not constantly, but when necessary. We can’t be truthful followers of Christ if we don’t acknowledge our sin, and now just the blanket fact that we are sinners, but our specific sins. The gift of forgiveness is well within our reach, if we are willing to grab for it, and we can only do that when we bring our sins to light. God is faithful! We have nothing to lose from admitting our sins, and everything to gain, if we can get over that discomfort. It’s just like dunking into the cold water of Lake Michigan for the first time. You must do it, and you know you’ll feel more comfortable once you get it over with. It’s hard to take that plunge, anticipating how cold it will be, but you know that after that moment, you’ll be glad you did it.

Questions for reflection: What are you uncomfortable admitting, to yourself, to others, or to God? Spend some quiet time meditating in the fact that the discomfort will not last long, and afterward you will be able to bask in forgiveness.

Reflections written by: Lauren DeVries 

 

Reflections Week of 7/2/17

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 Chronicles 20:15-30
Our God is faithful and honorable. He is the ultimate authority in all things. King Jehosephat sought to honor God. It was a newish thing he was trying out – but he was doing it.

When told that his land was about to be under siege, Jehosephat became scared. Which I find to be totally rational.

How do you react when you’re afraid? Do you become angry or aggressive? Do you hide or cower? Or do you, like King Jehosephat, give it to God? Because this thing that you fear? It is not yours. The battle belongs to God.

Jehosephat dressed his singers in their best clothing and sent them before his army with their holiest songs. His people did not flee, they did not lash out in anger, they did not seek to control. By the grace of God, they saw that the battle was not theirs. The battle belongs to God.

They won. But you already know that. They marched on singing a line that I know well, and you might too:

“Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! His love endures forever!”

God lets us lose battles all the time. We get cut off. We are disrespected by peers and co-workers. We fight with our friends and with our family. Battle is inevitable, but we are called to step out in faith.

Remember: The battle belongs to God.

Read 2 Chronicles 26:16-23

Control is an illusion.

We love control. We like to know what is safe, dangerous, black, white, easy, hard, friend, foe, up, down. Control makes us feel powerful. Control gives us a firm grasp on safety. Control is something we take pride in.

Control isn’t real.

When we believe that we have control over enough things for a long enough time, we begin to develop (say it with me) pride. And with enough pride (aka assumed control), we think we can do anything.

Take King Uzziah for instance.

He became powerful, grew prideful, felt total control over his kingdom, people, and even his God.

Stepping into the sanctuary of the temple of God and burning incense when you weren’t a Priest or a High Priest was no-go. God ordered this and Uzziah knew this. But Uzziah felt that he was powerful enough to control the situation, so he stepped into a forbidden, secret, holy place.

So God struck him with leprosy.

Seriously. Uzziah’s crazy control/pride issue lead him to become a permanent outcast for the rest of his life, living in physical and emotional misery until the day he died.

The lesson here is simple and profound: Stop trying to control your life. Trust your God. Follow His example and His guidelines. You don’t have control. He does.

Reflections written by Liz Doogan