THE STORIES WITHIN THE STORY (WATCH HERE)
There is a story unfolding in the created order that predates human life. It began before the first human breath, and has continued during every human breath since. Every life since time began has been lived as a scene in that larger story. John 1 says that Jesus existed before the first act of creation, WITH GOD. Before creation began, there was already a relationship being lived out between the Father and the Son - the WORD. Eldredge says all of our stories borrow from that larger story, our beating hearts come from the heart of the universe. At times we lose touch with this truth - we think the story that’s unfolding in our lives is a drama all its own, completely independent of anyone or anything else. Staying connected to this truth reminds us that there is a larger story under and around and over our individual stories that serves as the framework for what we live day by day - a story that intends life abundant for you and me and us.
As you read the following scripture passages, note references to the story that was already in progress before our stories began.
MONDAY (09/09): Genesis 1
TUESDAY (09/10): Psalm 139
WEDNESDAY (09/11): John 1:1-18
THURSDAY (09/12): Colossians 1:15-20
To prepare for our next times together in worship, read the following passages and pay attention to a force at work against the will of God.
FRIDAY (09/13): Genesis 3:1-7
SATURDAY (09/14): Matthew 4:1-11
SUNDAY (09/15): Ephesians 6:10-17
THE BATTLE FOR YOUR HEART
Evil has made its way to the frontline and the frontline is your heart. Your heart is a precious treasure that Satan wants for his own selfish gain. Jesus, too, wants your heart but so that you may experience life abundant, joy and true freedom. Surrender your heart to Christ and remain on the winning side. Pay attention to what the scriptures say not only about the resources available to protect your heart but about the one who loves you so much He is willing to fight that battle for you.
Monday (9/23): Hebrews 3:7-19
Tuesday (9/24): 1 Timothy 4
Wednesday (9/25): John 8:3-11
Thursday (9/26): Zephaniah 3:14-17
To prepare you for our next times together in worship, read these scripture passages. Note how they talk about restoration and who the restorer is.
Friday (9/27): Song of Songs 2:11-12
Saturday (9/28): Romans 7:14-25
Sunday (9/29): Matthew 28:1-10
SEPTEMBER 14 AND 15
Every story has a villain: Red Riding Hood and the Three Little Pigs dealt with the Big Bad Wolf, Dorothy battled the Wicked Witch, Luke and Leia and Han Solo contended with Darth Vader, William Wallace fought against Longshanks, Maximus went hand to hand with Commodus, Frodo was hunted by Sauron and his minions. In the story that’s still unfolding under and around and over our stories, a fallen angel named Lucifer still wages war against Jesus and those who align themselves with him. There is an evil force at work in this world intending to do us harm and make us doubt the goodness of God and call his heart into question. Your story, my story, our story has an Enemy, Eldredge reminds us. Yet so much of the way we engage life seems to ignore this reality. Paul says our fight is not against flesh and blood but against powers and principalities at work in a realm beyond our common experience: “against mighty powers in the dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.” When you and I remember this reality, the way we approach day to day living changes. Some of the struggle in our story is absolutely the result of our own choices. But some of it is also absolutely the result of the evil that hunts us day by day. As important as making better choices is to changing the struggle places in our lives, that important - maybe more - is intentionally putting on the full armor of God to battle the forces of evil that seek to derail our connection to Jesus, and cause us to struggle in the stories that are our lives.
As you read the following texts, pay particular attention to the power Jesus gives us over the evil at work in the world.
MONDAY (09/16): 1 Peter 5:6-11
TUESDAY (09/17): Isaiah 41:8-13
WEDNESDAY (09/18): Luke 10:1-20
THURSDAY (09/19): Romans 8:33-39
To prepare for our next times together in worship, read these scripture passages. Note the how they describe the evil one as a liar and one who manipulates truth.
FRIDAY (09/20): Matthew 4:1-11
SATURDAY (09/21): John 8:42-47
SUNDAY (09/22): Genesis 3:1-13
SEPTEMBER 28 AND 29
So our stories unfold against the larger story of God’s interaction with His Creation. There is a villain in the larger story that’s active in our individual stories. There is a hero - a rescuer - that has acted in the larger story in a way that changes our individual stories, if we accept what he has done. The end result of all this? The final and forever defeat of the Evil One, and the restoration of life to what God intended from the beginning of all things. The Easter story chronicles the defeat of evil’s most powerful weapon - death. Humankind is given the opportunity to live as God intended - FOREVER in fellowship with Him not marred by death and doubt and despair. Creation itself is restored - set right by this defeat of death. It is the “happily ever after” that Eldredge calls the longing of every heart. The women arrive at the tomb that first Easter morning and come face to face with victory over death when Jesus stands before them alive. They BELIEVE - and then they are sent to tell the story. The story of restoration that the risen Jesus brings is for every person and place where brokenness causes despair.
This week, we are invited to speak the VICTORY of Jesus into some specific areas of our lives. Each day, read the scripture reference and ask the Spirit to help you see the Risen Jesus in the particular area of life.
MONDAY (09/30) Venue: “wherever life takes me” - Colossians 3:1-17
TUESDAY (10/01) Identity: “how I see myself” - Galatians 2:17-20
WEDNESDAY (10/02) Children: mine, children in our church or community Deuteronomy 6:1-9
THURSDAY (10/03) Time: Ephesians 5:15-20
FRIDAY (10/04) Origins: “where I come from” - 2 Timothy 1:3-7
SATURDAY (10/05) Recovery: Romans 7:19-8:2
SUNDAY (10/06) Yes’s: “things I commit too” - Proverbs 16:1-9