The Story Chapter 2: God Builds a Nation

The idea of building a nation is truly beyond understanding and to think that God was going to begin with one couple.  On a basic level I can grasp what it takes to building a basketball team, or a football team, players who are willing to commit to the idea of team first, to working hard, to taking care of each other, integrity, character, and a willingness to make sacrifices for the sake and success of the team.  Yet these thoughts are just a small part of what it takes to simply build a successful tea, and God was building a nation. 

God begins with two players, Abraham and Sarah.  Lets face it these two are not exactly who I’d pick to be the lead couple in the next blockbuster movie.  Nor would we pick them to be the next President and first lady, they have a little too much gray hair, and no kids, so hardly the “perfect American family”. 

Why? Why does God choose the unlikeliest of candidates.  We as a nation long for the Kennedy like first couple, and God picks something off of the retread pile, the trash heap and says you will be the beginning of a great nation, your offspring will number more than the stars in the sky.   Why?  Because this incredible story that we are blessed to read, The Bible, is all about God, and what God can do.  If Abram and Sarai had been gifted, athletic, brilliant, picture perfect in every way then this part of the story would have been about them. 

Instead Abraham and Sarah’s story is a story of broken dreams, lost hopes, mistakes, doubt all the things that we to wrestle with.  We doubt whether we are capable of doing things, we come with our brokeness, and we beleive that someone is better suited than us.  God reminds us that we all have a part to play, that he will do the heavy lifting we just need to trust, to be willing to do the work to which we are called. 

Questions to journal in preparation for Sunday:

1. Abraham was called to do the unexpected to go to an unknown place.  What has God asked you to do recently?  What would it cost you to obey? 

2. What factor does age play in God’s calling?  What about the number of gifts and talents that you possess?   Consider whether you feel too old or too young.   What would it take for you to put away your personal feelings of inadequacy and simply follow, simply trust like Abraham? 

Lord I pray that Iwould not myself and those around meas to old or too young, underqualified, or overqualified instead may we together say yes Lord, here I am Lord and go strusting in your provision for the journey.  In Jesus name, Amen. 




The Story – Week 3: Joseph : Dreams and Broken Promises

Dreams and Broken Promises: Joseph

Have you ever done exactly what you are supposed to, and then you were horribly punished for it? Or at least it felt that way.  Sometimes it seems that when you give your best, the world thanks you by giving you its worst.

 Joseph seemed to be holding all the right cards.  He had the Ace of Hearts:  he was his father’s favorite.  He had the Ace of Diamonds:  his father lavished him with wonderful gifts, and his dreams pointed towards a princely future.  Two aces should be enough to win prosperity and joy.

 But it soon felt like the cards were stacked against him as he experiences one terrible defeat after another.  Betrayed by family, railroaded by his employer, and disappointed by the false promises of others, one would think Joseph would give up on God and his childhood dreams.

 We read all about Joseph’s story in just a single chapter of The Story, when actually this is a story of decades of perseverance, trust, and hope for Joseph.  His dreams were just the tip of the iceberg, compared to the future God had prepared.  Discover how Joseph outlasted his difficulties and trusted in God’s goodness despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. 

 Questions for the week:

Consider journaling your response to these questions

  1. As you walk in Joseph’s shoes, what are the places in his life when you would have been tempted to surrender your hope and trust in God?
  2. Joseph found himself in prison yet he never allowed his situation or circumstances inprison his steadfast trust in God nor did he compromise his character and integrity.  When have you allowed yourself to be imprisoned by  your dissapointment when things do not go as you expected or planned?  How has your trust in God and willingness to wait o the Lord been affected?  
  3. How do you keep hope and trust afloat in light of hard times?
  4. Joseph had to struggle to forgive those who heart him deeply and needlessly.  Do you have anyone you need to forgive?

Invitation and introduction to The Story

Thank you for joining all of us here at First Church as we begin an incredible 31 week journey through God’s incredible story.  The Bible is often described as, “The Greatest Story ever told”  and it is just that a story of God pursuing and striving to rescue lost and hurting people, a story of God’s love affair with humanity. The Story condenses this into 31 accessible chapters, and sweeps you away into the unfolding drama of people and events.  Using the NIV Bible it allows you the read The Bible like any good story book or novel, and like every good story there is plenty of drama, conflict, romance, intrigue, tragedy and redemption and best of all this story – is true!     

Please come and join us Sunday’s at 10:00 am and weekly in our small groups as we explore “The Greatest Story ever told”.

My encouragement to you is to make a commitment to join us each week and if you can’t listen to the audio of the message.  Secondly, spend time each week both on your own using the individual devotions to help you prepare for the coming week as you read the next chapter.  Each week additional questions will be posted online as well.  Thirdly, we are called to be in fellowship with others around God’s Word – the Bible so for the next 31 weeks please commit to joining one of the following (small groups, bible study group, women’s group, men’s group etc.), as we grow together in Christ for the sake of the kingdom here and in the world.    These groups and the times that they meet are found in the narthex at The Story resource table. 

Excited to see the Lower Story that God is writing here in Ravenna over the coming year. 

Grace and Peace be with you,

Pastor Steve

The Story Week1: Beginning

This week marks the beginning of the first part of the most incredible story ever told.  Yet, perhaps it would be helpful to look at the Bible as a five act play: (1) Creation & Fall, (2) Israel, (3) the Time of Jesus, (4) the Age of the Church, and (5) the End of Time.   This week marks the beginning of God’s Story – the Upper Story and of human kind’s story the Lower Story.  Each week you will find some questions to consider in preperation for Sunday’s message.  Each week we will together discover something about our story and about God’s story as it continues to unfold in our very midst. 

My invitation to you is to make a commitment to join us each week, secondly to spend time each week both on your own and in community and fellowship with others (small groups, bible study group, women’s group, men’s group etc.) as we grow together in Christ for the sake of the kingdom here in Ravenna and in the world.    

Questions for the week
Consider journaling your response to these questions

  1. God pursued Adam and Eve after they had sinned.  God pursued Cain even as Cain was mad as a swarm of bees.  Have you ever had a time when you realized then or realize now that God was pursuing you?  How did that pursuit change your relationship with God?
  2. Abraham shows an almost absurd level of trust in God when he is called to sacrifice his son Isaac (p. 16-17).  Is there an area of your life God is calling you to trust him with?  What are the next steps doing so?

God’s story is full of characters.  In these chapters, we’ve encountered many including Adam, Eve, Cain, Abel, Noah, Abraham, and Sarah.  What patterns do you see in how God relates to these people?