2.01.2016

I Peter 3:18-22 | LCA Reading Plan

18 Christ suffered for our sins once for all time. He never sinned, but he died for sinners to bring you safely home to God. He suffered physical death, but he was raised to life in the Spirit.

19 So he went and preached to the spirits in prison— 20 those who disobeyed God long ago when God waited patiently while Noah was building his boat. Only eight people were saved from drowning in that terrible flood. 21 And that water is a picture of baptism, which now saves you, not by removing dirt from your body, but as a response to God from a clean conscience. It is effective because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

22 Now Christ has gone to heaven. He is seated in the place of honor next to God, and all the angels and authorities and powers accept his authority.

Reflection: What does it mean to you to know that Christ's suffering for our sins is complete, once for all time? 

1.25.2016

I Peter 3:13-18 | LCA Reading Plan

13 Now, who will want to harm you if you are eager to do good? 14 But even if you suffer for doing what is right, God will reward you for it. So don’t worry or be afraid of their threats. 15 Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it. 16 But do this in a gentle and respectful way. Keep your conscience clear. Then if people speak against you, they will be ashamed when they see what a good life you live because you belong to Christ. 17 Remember, it is better to suffer for doing good, if that is what God wants, than to suffer for doing wrong!

18 Christ suffered for our sins once for all time. He never sinned, but he died for sinners to bring you safely home to God. He suffered physical death, but he was raised to life in the Spirit.

Reflection: As you continue to reflect how to live a questionable life in Christ, in what ways are you suffering for doing what is right? Even though it may not be the typical “suffering”, how does orienting your life around Jesus “hurt” you?

1.18.2016

I Peter 3:15-16 | LCA Reading Plan


Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it. But do this in a gentle and respectful way. Keep your conscience clear. Then if people speak against you, they will be ashamed when they see what a good life you live because you belong to Christ.
I Peter 3:15-16
Reflection: How often are you asked about the hope you have as a believer? In order to be asked this question, we must live “questionable” lives in the name of Jesus. In what ways will you follow Jesus that is "questionable" to the world? How will you live a “questionable” life this week?

1.11.2016

I Peter 3:8-12 | LCA Reading Plan

Suffering For Doing Good
8-12 Summing up: Be agreeable, be sympathetic, be loving, be compassionate, be humble. That goes for all of you, no exceptions. No retaliation. No sharp-tongued sarcasm. Instead, bless—that’s your job, to bless. You’ll be a blessing and also get a blessing.
 
     Whoever wants to embrace life
          and see the day fill up with good,
     Here’s what you do:
         Say nothing evil or hurtful;
     Snub evil and cultivate good;
         run after peace for all you’re worth.
     God looks on all this with approval,
         listening and responding well to what he’s asked;
     But he turns his back
         on those who do evil things.
Reflection: How agreeable, sympathetic, loving, compassionate and humble are you? Who are you freely living this out towards? Who are you withholding this from? Who do you need to be a blessing to this week?

1.04.2016

I Peter 3:1-7 | LCA Reading Plan

Cultivate Inner Beauty
1-4 The same goes for you wives: Be good wives to your husbands, responsive to their needs. There are husbands who, indifferent as they are to any words about God, will be captivated by your life of holy beauty. What matters is not your outer appearance—the styling of your hair, the jewelry you wear, the cut of your clothes—but your inner disposition.

4-6 Cultivate inner beauty, the gentle, gracious kind that God delights in. The holy women of old were beautiful before God that way, and were good, loyal wives to their husbands. Sarah, for instance, taking care of Abraham, would address him as “my dear husband.” You’ll be true daughters of Sarah if you do the same, unanxious and unintimidated.


7 The same goes for you husbands: Be good husbands to your wives. Honor them, delight in them. As women they lack some of your advantages. But in the new life of God’s grace, you’re equals. Treat your wives, then, as equals so your prayers don’t run aground.
I Peter 3:1-7 MSG
Reflection: As we read this week, take time to reflect on what it means to be a man or woman. We are different in so many ways! 
In this passage it is clear that God says we are equals in our new lives, yet the world portrays this very differently. What response is God prompting as you read this?

12.28.2015

John 1:1-18 | LCA Reading Plan

Christ, the Eternal Word

In the beginning the Word already existed.
    The Word was with God,
    and the Word was God.
He existed in the beginning with God.
God created everything through him,
    and nothing was created except through him.
The Word gave life to everything that was created,
    and his life brought light to everyone.
The light shines in the darkness,
    and the darkness can never extinguish it.

God sent a man, John the Baptist, to tell about the light so that everyone might believe because of his testimony. John himself was not the light; he was simply a witness to tell about the light. The one who is the true light, who gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.

He came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize him. He came to his own people, and even they rejected him. But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God.

So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.

John 1:14 The Message
John testified about him when he shouted to the crowds, “This is the one I was talking about when I said, ‘Someone is coming after me who is far greater than I am, for he existed long before me.’”

From his abundance we have all received one gracious blessing after another. For the law was given through Moses, but God’s unfailing love and faithfulness came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God. But the unique One, who is himself God, is near to the Father’s heart. He has revealed God to us.
Reflection: As we ready for the New Year, let us reflect on Jesus' incarnation, His taking on flesh and living among us to set the true example of love and serving. To whom is God sending you this week to show unfailing love and announce the coming of Christ?

12.21.2015

Go Tell It On The Mountain

Think of a story you were excited to tell someone recently. What was it about that story? Most of the time, we were moved in some way by an event or conversation and we just had to share with someone else.

Think of the stories that have endured through the ages. They’re the ones told from one generation to the next because they resonate with us in such deep, meaningful ways. They inspire us. They give us hope and strength. We see ourselves in them because they move us.

From his birth to his death, the story of Jesus was one that compelled those around him to retell their experiences with him. The gospel story is often referred to as the “good news” but as Christians, we know that it is actually the best news. It is a story that moved those closest to it and continues to resonate with us today.

The birth of Jesus is the beginning of the greatest story ever told. Go Tell It On The Mountain speaks with a sweet simplicity in the third stanza: “Down in a lowly manger/The humble Christ was born/And God sent us salvation/That blessed Christmas morn.”

The wise men came to hear it and spread the word to foreign lands. The shepherds were so moved by what they witnessed that they ran and told everyone who would listen. The Gospel of Luke reads, “When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.” (Luke 2:17-18)

We can tell how much we are impacted by the Christmas story by how much we share the story. After all, we continue to share stories that have truly moved us day after day. Perhaps this season is about realizing once again the incredible story of the birth of Jesus in a fresh way – one that moves us to share with the same wonder and energy who were on the scene in those early days.

It is this same Jesus who left his followers with the words, “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19-20)

We are called to share the greatest story of all. This Christmas season, may you find yourself moved once more by the ultimate gift of love and share the joy with others.