Saturday, February 28, 2015

Romans 8:38-39
38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Do you find comfort in the fact that nothing can separate you from the love of God in Jesus Christ? What do you think our response to this comfort should be?

Friday, February 27, 2015

Romans 8:1-4
1Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

Our scripture today reminds us that we are set free from the condemnation that we deserve. The question we need to ask ourselves is we are set free for what purpose. What do you think this freedom in Christ calls us to do? 

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Romans 10:9-12
If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. 11 As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.” 12 For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him,13 for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

Our scripture today lets us know that this salvation is available to all. The big part that we miss is that it contains two parts. The first is that we can receive this gift through our profession of saying “Jesus Christ is Lord.” The second part of this is that we believe and live as if Christ were the Lord of our life. What do you think it means to live with Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior? What does this look like in your life?

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Romans 5:6-8
You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Our scripture today reminds us that the greatest expression of love we could ever know is that God loves us. This love should define love in our lives. How does the love of God inform the way you love? How should the love 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Romans 6:23
23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Our scripture today recognizes that because of the sin we have in our life we deserve only one thing and that is death. This is a hard statement to take in because the gift of God’s grace is something that we did not deserve. The truth is that too often we make the mistake of looking at God’s blessings as financial or health based when the truth is that the greatest blessing we have ever received was through Jesus Christ. So no matter our health, financial standing, or position in life we are blessed because God gave us the greatest gift we could ever receive in Jesus Christ. Take a moment to thank God for this undeserved gift.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Romans 3:23
 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God

Reflection: This week we were reminded that God speaks and shares with us our greatest need, a Savior. Because of this we will look at what is known as the Romans road. This is a set of scriptures that have been used to help describe what God has done in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Today we start at the beginning that all have sinned. Why do you think it is important that we recognize that we have sinned?  

Weekly Theme February 22 through 28

Reveals Our Need

 In most religions the answer is the same: you must do something to become acceptable in order to receive your  reward in the next life.  In Islam you must follow the Five Pillars to receive your reward.  In Buddhism there is an eightfold path offered to lead an individual to nirvana.  However, the problem with doing something to achieve one’s reward is that you can never know if you’ve done enough to get the job done.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ provides what the various religions of the world cannot – we can have assurance of God’s love and eternal life that transforms our hearts and lives.  The ultimate question is “What will it take to be acceptable to enter into eternal life?”  In answering that question the religions of the world say there is work we must do.  The Gospel of Jesus Christ takes us back to a work that has been done.

God provides a way for acceptance through Jesus Christ.  How?  Through Jesus’ living up to the righteous standard God requires of humanity by obeying God’s word.  By living faithfully according to God’s word Jesus reversed the curse that sin has brought upon God’s people and his creation.  Jesus proved himself to be the faithful Son who obeys God’s word.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Matthew 8:1-4
1When Jesus came down from the mountainside, large crowds followed him.A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.”
Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” Immediately he was cleansed of his leprosy. Then Jesus said to him, “See that you don’t tell anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the gift Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.”

In our scripture today, we are reminded that like the leper even if we fall short God is willing to make us clean. This is a source of hope that God can clean up the mess we have made by following things other than his word. Take time now to share the mess you have in your life.

Friday, February 20, 2015

2 Corinthians 5:16-21
16 So from now on we regard no one from a
worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation:
 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

In our scripture today Paul is does a good job of telling us why we cannot judge. This is because we can only evaluate based on earthly standards. We do not know what God has done in their heart. The last verse cements this idea. There was nothing we did that brought about our own salvation it is the gift offered by God in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Why do you think it is important to remember that it is god who has saved us? 

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Romans 2:1-4
1You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. So when you, a mere human being, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? Or do you show
contempt for the riches of his kindness,
 forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?

Our scripture today reminds us that we should not judge others. We are sinners. We do not trust God fully. This is a problem with the church. You see that we need people to trust us to know the love of God. When one of us thinks we are better or thinks they have the ability to judge others it damages that trust. Why do you think judging is such a problem? How do you think it hurts the cause of Christ?  

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Romans 1:28-32
28 Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. 29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their
parents; 31 they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy.32 Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things
deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.

Our scripture today is a bitter pill to take. When we let
other truths run our lives and when we fail to trust God’s word there are consequences. Yesterday we talked about idolatry and how it is anything but God that rules your life. Because of this we can see that idolatry is not just a sin but it is the sin. All of these other things that Paul lists are all linked to idolatry. Because we fail to trust God and His word we let other things rule our hearts. This process is tough because it makes us more and more numb to God’s word. Why do you think we let other things rule our life rather than God? How do you think that can make us numb to God’s word?  

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Romans 1:18-23
18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of
people, who suppress the truth by their
wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and
divine nature—have been clearly seen, being
understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.
21 For although they knew God, they neither
glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the
glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.

The last verse of our scripture today is a hint to the trouble of idolatry. Many times we think we are immune to idolatry because we do not have statues of Buddha or other false gods in our homes, but the truth is that whatever keeps us from God is an idol in our lives. Paul makes it quite clear here that too many times we obscure the truth that God is God because we let other things rule our lives. What other things do you think could rule our lives? What things do you think rule your life?

Monday, February 16, 2015

Jeremiah 31:33
33 “This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel
    after that time,” declares the Lord.
“I will put my law in their minds
    and write it on their hearts.
I will be their God,
    and they will be my people.

Last week we learned that we have a God who speaks to us but many times we fail to trust what God says. God wants to right His law/word on our heart so why do you think we still fail to trust him? In what ways do you see that you are not trusting the word of God? 

Weekly Theme February 15 through 21

We Fail to Trust His Word

In biblical times one of the most feared diseases was leprosy.  In modern times leprosy is easily treated but not so before the twentieth century.  Leprosy is highly contagious and in biblical times no one wanted to come in contact with a person who had leprosy.  So, in Jewish tradition a person afflicted with the disease was required to cry out “unclean, unclean” whenever anyone who was not infected with the disease came into their general area.  That would warn people not to come into contact with the diseased individual.

Leprosy was feared because of its results.  Leprosy, as the disease progressed, would disfigure the body of the one with the disease.  To illustrate how disfiguring this disease can be I will show a very quick clip from the movie, “Kingdom of Heaven.”  This movie is set during the crusade period.  The king of Jerusalem has just died from leprosy and his sister removes his mask so that she can look at him one last time.

As you can see the disease was potentially devastating.  How did this happen?  Leprosy adversely affects the nervous system.  It gradually numbs a person’s extremities to the point at which pain is no longer felt.  Pain serves a purpose.  Lepers are numb to pain, which means they don’t know when their hand is burning or when they have just hit their thumb with a hammer. 

More horrible than physical leprosy is spiritual numbness – the inability to recognize our sin and how it harms us and the inability to recognize God’s grace and how it benefits us.  Sin sears our consciences, leading us away from life.  The result is spiritual death.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Luke 10:25-28
25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?” 27 He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” 28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”

Reflection: In our scripture today, we see Jesus speak to the importance of the two commandments that we have read the last two days. It speaks to the need for both our relationship with God and our relationship with our world. We need our relationship with God to recognize that we are loved and through that love we are sent into the world to share that love with others. Why do you think it is important that we remain faithful to both our relationship with God but also in our relationships with others? What does this look like in your walk of faith? 

Friday, February 13, 2015

Leviticus 19:18
18 “‘Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.

Reflection: This commandment is one that we really mess up. The truth for many of us if we loved our neighbor the way we loved ourselves we would be terrible people. The better way to read this is that we are called to love our neighbor the way that God loves us. Why do you think it is important that we make this distinction? How do you live this out in your life? 

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Deuteronomy 6:4-9
Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates

Reflection: Our scripture today is one of the core prayers of the Hebrew faith, known as the Shema. It contains one of the greatest commandments of the Jewish and Christian faith. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” How do you live this commandment in your life?

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Romans 9:31-32
31 but the people of Israel, who pursued the law as the way of righteousness, have not attained their goal. 32 Why not? Because they pursued it not by faith but as if it were by works. They stumbled over the stumbling stone.

Reflection: Paul uses this odd term here, “stumbling stone.” What do you think this phrase means? How do you think we can avoid it in our daily walk with God?  

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Genesis 3:2-5
but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”“You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
Genesis 2:16-17
16 And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”

Reflection: Look at the difference between our second scripture (what God said) versus our first scripture (what Eve said God said). Eve adds that they were not even to touch the tree. This is not what God had said at all. This is part of the reason we need to read God’s word because so many times what we hear is in the Bible is either a paraphrase or something that God never said. Can you think of something someone has said is in the Bible that is not there? How do you think this could be harmful?

Monday, February 9, 2015

Genesis 3:1-2
1Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden,

Reflection: Last week we learned that we have a God who speaks to us but many times we fail to trust what God says. Many times our distrust of God’s words are the same as the serpent’s manipulative question, “Did God really say?” This is not to say that we cannot question, but we need to recognize the source of the question. This question questions both God’s character, whether God is a good God or a bad God, and questions God’s authority. You see the serpent tries to limit the idea that they can eat from no tree, when Adam and Eve had been given the whole garden. How do you think examining the source of our questions for God’s word could help us to trust God? 

Weekly Theme February 8 through 14

Makes Known His Design

We respond to God’s word by trusting its’ truth.  However, even though God’s word is trustworthy; we question it.  We see this through Genesis 3:1-2 (NLT).  “Now the serpent was the shrewdest of all the creatures the Lord God had made.  ‘Really?’ he asked the woman.  ‘Did God really say you must not eat any of the fruit in the garden?’  ‘Of course we may eat it,’ the woman told him.  ‘It’s only the fruit from the tree at the center of the garden that we are not allowed to eat.  God says we must not eat it or even touch it, or we will die.’

What the serpent was doing at this point was sowing the seeds of mistrust.  The serpent is suggesting that we should question God’s trustworthiness through his word. 
Some people question God’s word because they do not believe it to be God’s word.  They do not trust God’s word.  They see no authority behind it. 

Some people diminish God’s word by subtracting from it.  They look at God’s word and the parts they don’t like or agree with they ignore or remove.  They do not trust God’s word.  They see no authority behind it.

Some people don’t trust God’s word so they try to add to it.  They refer to other religious sources and try to make those teachings as authoritative as the Bible.  Sometimes people, such as Joseph Smith, claim that they have received direct revelation from God, such as the Book of Mormon and they want to make that supposed revelation a part of God’s word.  They cannot trust God’s word as it is.  They want to add to God’s word.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Luke 24:25-27
25 He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.

It may be hard at times to see the new life we have in Christ, but our scripture today reminds us of the marks of that new life. The marks of that new life are the fruit of the Spirit. Too many times we make the mistake to think that there are fruits of the Spirit, but the word here is singular fruit of the Spirit. This mistake can lead us to think we can pick and choose but the fruit of the Spirit grows together. When we see fruit in our lives, we can see the marks of the new birth in Jesus Christ. Where do you see fruit in your life? Where do you see fruit in the church? 

Friday, February 6, 2015

2 Peter 1:19-21
19 We also have the prophetic message as something completely reliable, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. 20 Above all, you must
understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things. 21 For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

The other place that God reveal’s God’s self to us is through scripture. This is God speaking to us through the power of the Holy Spirit helping prophets to reveal God to us. The key to this is that the scriptures are not a dead sealed document written thousands of years ago it is alive and active. Because it is alive and active scriptures role in our life should be more than as source material that we memorize for inspiration. It is the beginning of a never-ending tale of God’s love that calls us to be God’s followers and share that message with the world. Why do you think we do not have an appreciation for the word of God that has been revealed to us in scripture?

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Romans 1:18-20
18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their
wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

There are many places we can see God revealing God’s self to us. The greatest is through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, but our scripture today reminds us that we can see the revelation of God in other ways as well. One way that God is generally revealed to us is through God’s creation and God’s work in our world. This makes sense. If God created the world, then creation would bear the marks of its creator. How have you seen God’s revelation in your world? 

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

1 Corinthians 4:6-7
 6 Now, brothers and sisters, I have applied these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, so that you may learn from us the meaning of the saying, “Do not go beyond what is written.” Then you will not be puffed up in being a follower of one of us over against the other. 7 For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?

We many times throw the word “blessing” around without much of an afterthought. The truth is that our greatest blessing is that God revealed God’s self in Jesus Christ. Why do you think our greatest blessing is that God has revealed God’s self in Jesus Christ? 

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Genesis 1:27-30
27 So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. 28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” 29 Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. 30 And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.” And it was so.

Our scripture today reminds us that our God speaks but is specific that the good news is that God speaks to us. Why do you think it is good news that God speaks to us? 

Monday, February 2, 2015

Genesis 1:1-3
At one In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. 3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.

Our scripture today reminds us that our God speaks and that God’s words have power. And when God speaks it carries power to create the world through God’s Word. Our God is not silent God’s words pierce the darkness and set planets spinning and creates our very existence. Have you ever thought of the truth that our God speaks creation into existence? What does this mean for you that God speaks and the world is created? 

Weekly Theme February 1 through 7

Unchanging Message

 “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.  The earth was empty, a formless mass cloaked in darkness.  And the Spirit of God was hovering over its surface.  Then God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light.” 
Genesis 1:1-3 (NLT)
From the beginning of time God has chosen to speak and be involved with his creation.  There is nothing more Important in life than hearing from God and obeying his voice.
The first chapter of Genesis, the very first book in the Bible, focuses on God speaking creation into existence.  “Then God said, ‘Let there be light.’”  Every single element of creation comes into existence through the word of God.  This emphasis that God has placed on speaking and on communication should underscore our need to hear from God.  Without God choosing to reveal himself to us, we would be deaf and blind to the reality of the world in which we live.  Without God’s revelation, we would be unaware of his expectations for us and of his provision for salvation.