Reflections Week of 8/27/17

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 Job 38-41 

This past week found many Americans standing outside, starring up at an amazing phenomenon taking place in the sky: the solar eclipse. We are enamored with the magnificent, the powerful, the works of nature that lie out of our control. This all came to mind as I listened to God enlightened Job’s thinking in Job 38-41. God, who laid the cornerstone of the earth, who completely understands the expanse of the universe, who teaches mammals when to give birth, who owns everything under the heaven, stoops down to meet with a man who has questions.

Job has questions about his suffering. Job doesn’t understand why his life has been turned upside down. And in due time these questions are met with the presence of an all-powerful God, who assures Job that he has been questioning the Almighty.

I wonder how many of you have questioned the Almighty in the past couple weeks. I have. I have asked God why more than once, concerning both the brokenness in our country and the brokenness in the lives of those around me. While the solar eclipse was exciting and cool, let it be a reminder, that an Almighty, all-powerful God is in control of this universe, and nothing goes unnoticed by Him.

Read Ephesians 1-4

Paul addresses this letter to: “the saints who are at Ephesus, and who are faithful in Christ Jesus.” While reading the remainder of this letter, my mind and heart kept returning to this greeting.

Who are faithful. 

Paul takes time to speak words of truth to the church at Ephesus. Paul both blesses and challenges, directs and corrects. This indicates to me that these believers were far from having achieved maturity in Christ (see 4:13), and yet were considered faithful. I find this comforting.

This week God has very clearly communicated His truth to me. Words of encouragement and correction. Words of discipline and blessing. Mostly I have seen the glaring areas in my life in need of the maturity which comes from knowing Christ. Yet, despite my need for growth, God consistently honors my faithfulness to Him by continuing to teach my heart and lead me on to maturity.

Faithfulness is not equivalent to maturity. Yet, by being faithful to God, He will continue to guide me into the maturity found in knowing my Lord. For this I am thankful.

Reflections written by Emily Alexander

 

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What I’ve Learned 1 Year Into Our Reading Plan

This week marks one year since we began our #2YearJourney reading through the Bible together. Every week we read 2 chapters every day Monday-Saturday. Throughout the year we also take a few breaks to be used as “catch-up” or just reflection on what we have been reading.

Multiple times in my life I have tried to do one of these “read through the Bible” programs…and failed. Between the large amounts to read every day and the feeling of being overwhelmed when you miss a few days, and what to do with things like the book of Leviticus, have made consistent reading really tough. Even though I knew all of this I also knew that pursuing a reading plan can produce great fruit. As we have pursued this great adventure together as a church I have learned a few things about the Bible and myself.

Being consistent is hard but worth it: I know that reading the Bible is good for me. I know that it reveals God to me and teaches and guides me. I know that I tend to focus more and think clearer when I am regularly and consistently in the Bible. Even though I know all of this, I still fail to be consistent. I still miss days. I skip days, I don’t make it a priority. As we’ve pursued this #2YearJourney and I have had days that I have missed or fallen behind I’ve had to regularly remind myself to just keep going. Just because my Monday got away from me doesn’t mean I should just give up. And that’s my encouragement to all of you, if you have tried to do this or any other reading plan, and you have found yourself falling behind, just keep going. Make a note and you can go back to catch what you missed. The point of things like this are not to be able to say “I did it! I’m awesome” but rather to help you connect with God regularly and maybe read and learn some things that you haven’t in the past.

God has perfect timing: It’s amazing to me the amount of times throughout this year that what we have read during the #2YearJourney has been applicable to something going on in my life or in what I was preaching. This year has been a regular reminder to me that God is in control and his timing is perfect. He has set up multiple times for me to read a specific passage or verse right when I needed it.

I needed to grow in discipline: As I’ve already stated, I’ve quit on things like this in the past. And I’ve been tempted to quit again here, I mean some of those lists of names can be rough to focus on. And it is going through these sections of scripture, these days where I didn’t feel like getting into the word, that I realized just how much growth I’ve needed in the area of reading consistently. I recently had a conversation with someone about how sometimes the thing you need to do with your relationship with God is just be willing to show up. Consistently engage with God even when you don’t feel like, because while you might not feel like talking with God, he’s got something to say to you! It’s really only in the two months or so that I have begun to realize that God has done a great work in my heart, because now when I’m not reading every day I realize I’m missing an important part of my day. I realize now that I was not nearly as strong as God wanted me to be in my discipline and he has grown me in that through this #2YearJourney.

The benefits of accountability are real: One of the reasons we wanted to do this as a church was so we would have built in accountability with one another. In the last month and a half I have gotten a new accountability partner for my reading in my son Ben. Because I want him to know scripture and hear scripture as much as possible I’ve made sure that I’m reading or listening to the Bible with him every day. It has helped me in my own desire to read and make time for reading to know I have someone counting on me and expecting me to read every day. If reading plans like this have been tough for you in the past, get someone to do it with. Work as a team. We are the body of Christ, meant to hold each other up and strengthen each other.

CF Rocks: I didn’t learn this, I already knew, it but I wanted to say it anyway. Every week we have different people in our church write reflections that go with our reading plan. They write short devotionals and give us questions or challenges to help us engage with the scripture. Thank you to everyone who has written a reflection because they have helped me to think differently about the text and have been helpful with some of those tough passages. I’m very blessed to be in this community and serve alongside wonderful people.

If you haven’t tried, or you tried and gave up, I want to encourage you again to jump in to this reading plan. It’s a manageable amount of reading each day, there are breaks built in, there is a group doing it together. Whether you start from the beginning or you jump in today, however you want to do it get in to the word because God has something to say to you!

You can find all of our resources related to the #2YearJourney here at this link: http://churchinroscoevillage.org/teaching/read-through-the-bible

What have you learned through this process? Share it in the comments below.

Reflections Week of 8/20/17

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 Job 23-24 (Monday 8/21)

Have you ever written a lament?

Have you ever considered that, even as a Christian, you are ~allowed~ to lament? Life is hard. I don’t need to tell you that there are some seasons of life that getting out of bed in the morning isn’t even easy. Each day feels like an uphill battle, and that’s before you even click on the news. Why does God make your life so hard? Why does he allow for bad things to happen, for illness to grow, for depression to strike? I find that, in the times when life is hard, I don’t lament. I mean I do, but not to God.  In fact, I sort of shut Him out. Have you ever done that? We talk to our moms and our friends and our Facebook wall about how difficult things are right now, and the burdens we are carrying. But when someone who loves us asks, “Well, have you prayed about it?” We shrug and say, “I’ve been busy” or “not really.”

The thing about God is that He is always right there with you. Nothing that is happening to you is shocking to Him. He has laid out every step of your life (even the hard ones.) So why not talk to Him about it? Why not get frustrated with Him, mad at Him? Say what you feel about Him to His face. He will listen. And He won’t go anywhere. He loves you. He hears. You.

Challenge for this Week: Write a lament this week.

Read Job 28 (8/23 Wednesday)

Twenty-Seven verses of build-up.  Twenty-seven verses of Job’s meticulous and downright poetic walk through each level of creation. He highlights each of their inability to find or equal the value of wisdom. Of all the majestic creatures, priceless jewels, and delicious foods that come forth from the earth (thank you, Job, for loving food the way I do) – none is as valuable as wisdom. And where does it come from? At the very end after working so hard to make sure we understand the gravity of it all; in just two verses, Job explains what all the hubbub was about: Wisdom comes from God alone. More than that, God knows where to find wisdom. He knows from where the fountains of wisdom flow. In the book of James, God uses the author to explain that, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” So, not only does God know where all of the wisdom is, but He is willing to give it out freely to His children who ask for it. Which is nice, since Job made it pretty clear that there’s no way on earth we could get it or match it on our own.

Isn’t that encouraging? No matter what you are doing or who you are – you are incapable of finding wisdom for yourself. But your God? He is excited to pour this precious gift upon you if you would just seek Him out and ask.

Challenge for this Week: Pray for wisdom each day this week.

Reflections written this week by Liz Doogan

Reflections Week of 8/13/17

Read Job 11 (Monday 8/14)

Verses thirteen to fifteen say, “If you prepare your heart, you will stretch out your hands toward him. 14 If iniquity is in your hand, put it far away, and let not injustice dwell in your tents. 15 Surely then you will lift up your face without blemish; you will be secure and will not fear.”  As I read this I was reminded of how I need to hold advice and counsel up to God’s word.  We can have godly, loyal and trustworthy friends who we love, and yet they still can give us bad advice.  I do not know how close of friends Job was with these men, but I know that they came in hopes of comforting him, and in the process, they gave him some pretty bad advice, that did the opposite of bringing comfort.  I want to have a well-rounded knowledge of God’s word, and I need people in my life who have that knowledge as well.

Good friends know each other well, and this passage makes me think that these friends of Job’s did not know him well, or they at least did not take the time to listen before they spoke.  We, as the readers, know from chapter one that Job was living blamelessly.  God Himself said this (1:8).  We need friends in our lives who love and desire God and His word, and who will love and comfort by understanding and then speaking.  And we can rest as we already have this in Christ, who will never let us down.

Read Job 18:21 (Thursday 8/17)

“Surely such are the dwellings of the unrighteous, such is the place of him who knows not God.”  One of Job’s friends says this as he tries to prove that Job is guilty of sin.  He is saying that wicked men are punished by God, it seems that Job is being punished by God, therefore Job must have wickedness in him.

So here he says that God punishes the wicked.  What struck me about this is that if this statement were always true: that God always physically and materially punishes those who do not fear God and who do evil in this life on earth, then all people would be living terrible and painful lives.  This is so because everyone who does not have faith in Jesus cannot please God (Heb. 11:6).  And even those who do have faith in Christ still fall into sin, and they do not always face physical and immediate punishment from God.

So many people in the world who do not believe in Jesus believe this principle that Job’s friend tried to convince Job of.  Essentially, as long as you are a good person, you will live a good life and you have good coming your way.  All of this reminded me of a basic, yet extremely relevant and contemporary issue.  That is that people do not know they are sinners.  They do not know their wickedness.  So many people are in dire need of a spiritual physician, but they have no idea that they are ill with a disease that is truly leading them to ultimate death.

Reflections written by Wade Henderson

Reflections Week of 8-6-17

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 Job 1 (Tuesday 8/8)

Job has always been one of my favorite books of the Bible. In Job we see God’s sovereign hand and divine purpose for the believer’s life in the midst of immense suffering.  I think it can be easy to fall into the temptation of believing that by obeying God, we are assuring ourselves of an easy or good life.  I know there is much to be said in Scripture regarding this idea, and it is often spoken in positive affirmation (e.g. the Psalms).  We also hear from the world around us that if we do good and treat others well, we will receive good and be treated well.  While this again is a truism, what do we do when things do not go “as they should”?

This is where we glean an important lesson from Job: our struggles or suffering in this life are not a result of God’s negligence or always a result of our own doing. God has a bigger plan for our lives than what we realize or plan. And just as in Job’s case, it could be for reasons we may not realize.

For Reflection: What struggles might you be going through currently? How do you feel about those struggles, and how do you view them? How might you think about your situation differently if you view them with the understanding that God is totally in control and has your best interests in mind?

Read Job 9 (Saturday 8/12)

“How can a man be in the right before God?”

This is a question that is repeated in Job. Job’s struggle and the conversations between him and his friends sort of revolves around this question. How can someone be in the right before God? In Job’s case, and in Old Testament times in general, there was definitely a different perception of, and relationship to God than what we are used to in modern western christianity. Our American culture tends to view God as a source of good fortune when needed. There seems to be a lack of fear in relationship to God, and instead the prevailing operation is to approach God in “humility” when you really need something.

In Job’s case, there is a fear before God, one in which the individual did not expect anything from God unless they could be found in the right before him. As a result of this, there was a constant striving towards appeasement.  Sacrifices were necessary where sin was committed, and blessing was not expected unless one was right with God.

Ultimately, the answer to Job’s questions lies in the person of Christ. A person can only be found in the right before God because Christ’s righteousness in us places us in that position.

For Reflection: How does having Christ’s righteousness in you affect the way that you deal with suffering? Does it give you strength or encouragement knowing that you are found “in the right” before God?

Reflections written by Daniel Rico