Hope

Over the next 3 weeks I will be giving you some scripture, to reflect on some beautiful things that arrive with Jesus. This week we looked at Hope. When Jesus is born, it’s not just a baby being born in a stable but rather it is the moment when the door swings wide open to HOPE. Here’s the thing though. This isn’t just your standard run of the mill, “Geez I really hope this happens for me” wishful thinking kind of Hope. This is the, “God promised it; God will make it happen so I will expect it with confidence” kind of Hope. When Jesus is born true Hope explodes into reality for anyone throughout the history of mankind. This Hope is ever present for us, it is life transforming and it is ETERNAL!

 

This week, my invitation is for you to, on a daily basis, take some time to reflect on the amazing and wonderful Hope God has given us in Jesus Christ! Below is a list of scriptures and exercises to do every day to help you really dive into this concept of Hope!

 

Monday Day #1: He Shall Reign Forevermore by Chris Tomlin

Listen to this song by Chris Tomlin that proclaims this great and glorious hope we have in Jesus!

Really try to give this song a listen every day!

        

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J2NzLqpod0I&list=RDJ2NzLqpod0I

 

Tuesday Day #2: An excerpt from the Jesus storybook Bible

Back at the beginning of time- all had been lost when Adam and Eve rebelled against God, but even back then God made His promises to us. This excerpt is taken from a beautifully illustrated children’s Bible. Take some time to read this passage and consider the hope its words…

 

Before they left the garden, God whispered a promise to Adam and Eve: “It will not always be so! I will come to rescue you! And when I do, I’m going to do battle against the snake. I’ll get rid of the sin and the dark and the sadness you let in here. I’m coming back for you!” And he would. One day, God himself would come.

THE JESUS STORYBOOK BIBLE

 

Wednesday Day #3: Isaiah 9:5-7

Take some time today to read and reflect on this scripture written below.

For unto me a child is born, unto me a son is given;
   and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called

   Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 

Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end,
   on the throne of David and over his kingdom,

to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness
  from this time forth and forevermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.

 

Can you think of several hopeful statements in this passage?

 

Thursday Day #4: Words of reflection

Today we are going to reflect on a poem by Emily Dickinson, and then afterwards, I invite you to consider words that describe the hope God has given you and write them down on a notecard for you to tape or put somewhere you can see it. They don’t have to be anything super deep or philosophical. It could be a simple word or phrase. But it needs to make sense to you.

 

“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all….

~Emily Dickinson

 

Friday Day #5: John 1:9-14

Let’s reflect upon another great scripture passage filled with Hope.

 

Saturday Day #6: Colossians 1:26-27

With arrival of Jesus a new Hope has exploded into reality. God has come to us, to dwell in our hearts. Look at this amazing hope in this passage! What do you notice??

 

This is a brief list of verse and exercises for you this week as you reflect on advent! May the Lord bless you my brothers and sisters!

 

Pastor Ryan



God Is Trustworthy

Hi SNC brothers and sisters.

 

For this week’s 2nd look I invite you to join me in counting your blessings.

 

At the start of everyday take a few minutes to write out some things that God has blessed you with. Dr. Smith challenges us to get up to 50 or a hundred blessings by the end of the week. You can start simply by listing things like family, or beautiful sunsets, but ultimately the aim is to open our eyes to how far God has gone to bless us each and every day. You may be surprised to see just how much our great heavenly Father blesses us.

 

I will start by giving you my first ten things that I thought of, that came right off the top of my head, in no particular order.

 

Here they are…

  • My beautiful amazing wonderful wife!
  • My awesome great super cool kids.
  • Music: God you bless my life with all kinds of music.
  • Deep breathes: I love deep breaths, they feel so satisfying.
  • A roof over my head.
  • The Ocean and the Mountains.
  • JESUS: For saving me, cleansing me, giving me a new name.
  • My dear brothers and sisters at SNC!
  • THE HOLY SPIRIT: For loving me, guiding me, empowering me.
  • Coca-Cola!

 

What might be on your list?

Have a blessed week everyone!

Pastor Ryan



Gifts

Hi everybody!

For this week’s 2nd look I’d like to invite you to spend some time in the Scriptures.

Take a few minutes every day this week and read the following Scriptures. As you do – what thoughts come to mind?  What do you notice? What do these passages teach you about the spiritual gifts? 

I’d also like to ask you to take a few moments and pray asking God what your spiritual gifts are. Here is a reading order for you…

Monday: 1 Corinthians 12

Tuesday: 1 Corinthians 13

Wednesday: 1 Corinthians 14

Thursday: Ephesians 4

Friday: Romans 12:3-8

Have a great week everybody and may God bless you!

Pastor Ryan



Advent Week 2

Hi everybody.

This is the beginning of week 2 of advent.

Here is what we’ve looked at so far:

Miracle #1: When Jesus Appears Nobody Becomes Somebody.

Miracle #2: When Jesus Appears Nowhere Becomes Somewhere.

If you remember from the sermon- we talked about how Jesus chose to make himself a kid from the wrong side of the tracks because he chose to be a servant; and because he chose to be planted in the middle of darkness to bring the light of God. This week as we continue looking forward to the birthday of our savior- I’d like to invite you to consider these verses that talk about these issues. Please remember to give yourself a five minute space of time to read a verse and simply reflect and pray on it. What truth is it teaching you? Have a great week everybody!

Monday– John 1:1-13

Tuesday– Matthew 20:28

Wednesday– Philippians 2:5-11

Thursday– John 8:12

Friday– 2 Corinthians 4:6

Saturday– Ephesians 5:8



What Enables Your Faith?

Hello everyone,

I want to give you a verse to contemplate with me this week. Here it is:

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.  Ephesians 3:20-21

Take some time to read this verse every day. What do you notice? What comes to mind for you as you read?

I pray the lord will bless you as you reflect on His word this week!

Have a great week everybody!

Pastor Ryan

 



Just. Love. Jesus.

Hello Everyone,
As we close this book of Ephesians, we are left with a powerful reminder.
Just. Love. Jesus.
This love grows from God’s great agape love for us.
A love that moves Him to action.
A love that moves Him   To pursue us
                                        To identify with us
                                         To Sacrifice for us
                                          To live with us
                                           To forgive us
                                            To be for us.
This week I’d like to invite you to read Ephesians 1:3-14 again and look for the ways God has loved you. It’s pretty amazing.
Have a great week everybody!
Pastor Ryan


Live In Truth

Hello everybody. Here’s a question I think would naturally arise from this past week’s sermon:

 “Ryan, you talk about how important it is for us to live in truth. How do I know I’m doing this?”

 Let me give you several things that are indicators you ARE living in truth…

 

1. Lying is not present.

This is obvious. Lying is the opposite of truth, and when we lie to God, ourselves, and others, we create a sort of momentum of untruth in our lives. It becomes easier to lie again. We become a tiny bit hardened to the fact that we have invited untruth in our lives. Now, the natural question is: Yea I get that Ryan, but what about those moments like when your wife asks you – hey honey do you like this dress? Obviously, this is a tricky situation. I would suggest you opt for truth even in situations like this – but you don’t need to give them a full out assault. You could say something like: “Honey to be honest, I don’t really like that dress on you…. And you know, it’s uncomfortable for me to be here shopping with you and you ask me these questions.” You could always just say: “I don’t want to go into this conversation” and then run away!  But the reality is – if you don’t like the dress and you lie about it – then she may buy the dress and you will have to see her wearing it over and over again. Lying is usually something we do to protect ourselves. We tell ourselves we are protecting the other person – but deep down that is actually a rare occurrence. We are protecting ourselves… In the end, it usually bites us. Living in truth is a healthy place to be. It may be awkward sometimes – and certainly we need to speak the truth lovingly,  but in the end, lying rarely ever helps..  

 

2. Growing to cling more and more to the truth of our identity in Christ.

We live in truth, when we make an effort to learn and remind ourselves about our identity in Christ. Do you know your identity in Him? Do you know how God sees you? Do you know who He says you are to Him? This is extremely important and can be very freeing for us. A great book on this issue is: “The Search For Significance” by Robert McGee. The more we can be reminded of our true identity in Christ, the more freedom we begin to experience in life. This is some of the most powerful truth you can know.  Seriously. It’s life changing stuff!

 

3. I know and am able to acknowledge the truth about me.

One of the most damaging things to us is our inability to know and acknowledge truth about ourselves. Here are some powerful areas of truth we need to know and acknowledge

  • Our feelings… so often we don’t have a good sense of what we are feeling in life. We are tired and we don’t know it. We are angry, lashing out at others and not able to see it. We are weak, unwilling to admit it. We lack emotional awareness and it can create havoc. One way to combat this is to take some time at the end of your day, and sit down and think back over your day. What things did you feel during the day? What was going on when you feel these things. How do you feel now? You can also stop at any moment and simply take stock of your feelings. This develops emotional awareness and can help you in the long run.
  • Thoughts And Beliefs: For many of us we are led by our thoughts and beliefs. The things we truly believe will lead us. They are like a pair of sunglasses through which we view the world. Everything is colored by them. We often need to learn why we do the things we do. Why did I react the way I did to that situation? It often has largely to do with some kind of belief system we carry within ourselves. Let me give you an example: the next time you get angry, take a moment and ask yourself: “What am I truly angry about right now? Can I describe what is making me angry in a short succinct sentence? What belief is driving this anger?” It’s not always easy but you can go deeper and deeper with this and discover some powerful reasons why you live the way you do? Why do you feel the pressure you do? Why are you a work-a-holic? Why are you addicted? There are deep roots and getting to the truth of these things can have powerful consequences! 

4. Others know more and more of the truth of me. 

As humans our most natural tendency is to protect ourselves and stay hidden from others. This was the first thing we see Adam and Eve doing after they fell in the garden. They hid. We’ve been hiding ever since the garden. But this is not a movement of truth. Each of us needs a handful of people who know what’s really going on with us. They know our weaknesses, or strengths, our failings and accomplishments. They know how we truly feel and what we truly believe. They know our dreams and our fears. We don’t need a large group like this but we need a few folks. The more people know the truth about us – the more we can find deeper healing. The challenge is- for many of us as Christians, we worship together on Sundays; but in many ways we are alone. We struggle in our marriages but nobody really knows. We struggle with pain, sadness, anger, addiction and nobody is there to love and help us through it. We need this in our lives.

 

So as you think of these four indicators of living in truth, please remember: God loves you. It doesn’t matter if you don’t have this down. God is going to keep leading you towards these things. He has not given up. The question is: “Are we ready and willing for him to develop these things in our life?” I guarantee you: it will change your life.

 

Have a great week everybody!

 

Pastor Ryan



Does the Bible Condone Slavery?

Does the Bible condone Slavery?

It doesn’t seem to say “No” to slavery – so it must be condoning it right? Slavery still exists in the world today – should Christian be people who crusade against slavery or should we just let it go?

These are great questions, and something I’d like to address in our 2nd Look today.

The difficulty with answering a question like this is that once again there seems to be a million miles between the ancient world and today. Slavery in the ancient world looked different than we understand it today. We need to be careful when we consider a question like this – to take their context into mind.

I’d like to share two website links with you that really addresses this question quite well. I have two reasons in doing this –
They address this issue very well and say it as well or better than I could.
I think very highly of these sites and believe they can be very helpful resources for you with a variety of questions.
Here are the links.

http://www.gotquestions.org/bible-slavery.html
http://compellingtruth.org/Bible-slavery.html

May the Lord enable you to experience His grace and peace this week!

Pastor Ryan



God Is Our Heavenly Father

God is our heavenly Father.
For some of us that is difficult to understand because our fathers made many mistakes and hurt us. We struggle to understand and see God as our heavenly father apart from how we view our earthly fathers. Make no mistake – God is our heavenly father and the reality is: He is unlike any earthly father we’ve known.
Did you know God is still parenting you? How? I’d like you to take some time this week to read this passage and consider that this is a description of how God loves and parents you….
1 Corinthians 13:4-7
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails…..

This is a beautiful picture of how I believe God parents us. He is patient. He is kind. He does not envy nor does He boast. He doesn’t dishonor us, isn’t self seeking…  You see what I mean?
Isn’t it wonderful to know that God is unlike our earthly fathers? That He loves us perfectly, and it is that love that makes it possible for us to love like He does?
May you experience the grace and peace of Christ today!

Pastor Ryan

 



Defeating Sin In Our Lives

Hello everybody, welcome to this week’s 2nd look!

If you were with us on Sunday you may recall that the sermon was pretty heavy. We were talking about destructive sins that we should seek to avoid and eradicate from our lives.

 

I want to repeat something very clearly. Defeating sin in our lives – especially the ones that are of the nature discussed in Ephesians 5:3-7; is never an overnight thing. It’s a journey. We will have strong moments and weak moments. We will make mistakes but all along the way God will be with us.
The big thing for us as a church is that we not be deceived.  These sins are a big deal and yes – we need to battle against them. So how do we do this? I want to share with you three things that strengthen us for the battle with these sins… These things don’t guarantee that you’ll always defeat the sin – but I do believe these things will put you in a position of strength to wage war and achieve victory and freedom. So what are these three things?

1)Honesty.

Truth has a way of setting us free. Jesus said “You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.” We must live in truth. In order to see victory in our lives we must be willing to be honest with ourselves, God and others. Sometimes we need to be willing to admit that we have a problem. Some of us need to admit that we ARE the problem. Some of us need to be willing to admit that the way we’ve been approaching things isn’t working and that we need help… Whatever it is – it seems to me the most important changes that lead to victory and growth always begin with honesty. Unfortunately, honesty is often the last thing we want to move towards, but if you want to see more and more strength freedom and victory in your life over these sins, it’s abundantly clear – you must be honest.

2)Strengthening relationships

We cannot get victory without strengthening relationships in our lives. There it is, plain and simple. But what is a strengthening relationship? Here’s some thoughts:
  • It is honest. Folks in these relationships are truly known – the good, the bad and the ugly. They are real with each other and therefore can support each other when they are weak.
  • It celebrates and pushes growth. A strengthening relationship is one where both parties seek to help the other be the very best version of themselves that God wants them to be. They will not settle for each other caving in.  They celebrate and push each other to grow.
  • It is simply there. Folks in a strengthening relationship are known and not alone. This is a relationship where they are doing life near each other. Their families know each other. They are journeying together.
  • It directs back to God. The chief aim in these relationships is for us to grow and deepen in our relationships with God. These friendships inspire this.
Strengthening relationships are absolutely key to finding strength, victory and freedom from the deadly sins in Ephesians 5:3-7. Without them you will fail. I’ve never seen someone succeed in this without these key relationships. The question to ask yourself is: Who fits the bill of what we described above? If you have no one currently fitting that bill – then who could fit that bill?

3)Seeking And Delighting In God.

Folks in recovery groups like to say they are putting their trust in a “higher power.” The greatest power we have is actually not our own. It is the power of God. One of the key components to victory over destructive sin in our life is actually to delight in and seek God; to have a daily relationship with Him that informs and transforms us. It involves reading the Scriptures, prayer and other spiritual disciplines. This can be very helpful for you and very healthy as well. If this is an area of weakness for you; or an area where you feel clueless and at a loss, let me invite you to seek help. There are folks in our church who have a wonderful relationship with the Lord and would be very helpful in getting you on a path with God. This relationship is something Debbi talked about on Sunday – discipleship or Jesus apprenticeship.  However you name it – the basic idea is that this is one person helping another in their relationship with God.  We all need it…

 

In a few months we will be discussing Ephesians 6 – the spiritual warfare section. The truest form of battle against sin and spiritual warfare – involves us putting on the armor of God. You may want to check it out. Read Ephesians 6: 10-18!

 

There is much more to say on this subject but these three things will put you squarely on a pathway that leads to strength victory and freedom. This week – in one of the commentaries I was reading to do research they writer said: “We don’t just fall into holiness.” That really stood out to me. We don’t just slip up; or just stumble along then all of the sudden – wham bam we’re holy! We don’t become an amazing musician because we just had a piano in our house for years and all the great intentions to learn it. At some point we need to be intentional to learn. We don’t just fall into holiness – it is a journey and it takes intention on our parts. We wage war against these sins in our lives by making intentional, even risky choices. It requires bravery but freedom requires nothing less.

Have a great week everybody
And may God strengthen you as you walk with Him and serve Him

Pastor Ryan