By Sarah Schuler and Heather Parshley
This week, we had the privilege of being led in devotions by Ryan Francis, Stephen Procopio, and Dan Crabtree. (On Monday morning, Jordan let us sleep in a bit and we didn’t have a structured Devo time. On Thursday morning, we were at George Mason University, passing out flyers about an upcoming Bible
Study and sharing the Gospel.)
Ryan shared with us from Acts 2:42-47 about true Christian Fellowship. “Fellowship” is an oft misused word these days – what does it mean?! Ryan shared with us 4 aspects of what fellowship looks like in the context of followers of Jesus.
- The Lord’s Supper (1 Corinthians 10:16) – Celebrating communion with the Body of Christ is a special time together and with our Lord, and is definitely true fellowship.
- Prayer (Acts 2:42) – If we are to call a meeting of believers “fellowship,” prayer must be involved.
- Shared Life and Sacrificial Generosity (Acts 2:45-46) – Fellowship = Doing life together. Having fun with each other. Hanging out. Eating together.
- Worship (Acts 2:47) – We are to recommend Jesus to each other. Fellowship involves pointing our brothers and sisters around us to Christ, through our attitudes and actions of worship.
True Christian Fellowship is also very attractive to the unbelieving world.
Stephen continued leading us through the book of John, up through chapter 6 on Wednesday. A few highlights… Jesus prays – a lot! This fact in mind, it must be really important for believers to surrender themselves daily to the Father in prayer. Also, Jesus was constantly focused on God’s eternal plan rather than His own desires as a human being. Jesus didn’t come as a physical king to conquer the nation’s enemies, but as a servant of the Lord, doing His Father’s will.
Dan taught us about having joy in suffering. How is this even possible? By remembering God’s sovereignty over both sin and it’s effect on the world, as well as over suffering and who/what inflicts it. All things that God does or allows are to bring glory to Himself and good to His people. He reveals some of His will for our lives in His written Word, but His secret will is His own. When an event occurs, we can be certain that the event was God’s will simply because it DID occur. Paul speaks of suffering in Philippians chapter 1 and declares that for him, to live is Christ, and to die is gain because he will be with Christ. Even the greatest suffering (leading to death) would be gain for the believer because it brings them face to face with Jesus.
As we continued in the Old Testament this week, we reached the minor prophets, who put God on display – His FULL Justice & Wrath against sin and His FULL Grace and Mercy towards His people. God’s call to sinners everywhere, at all times, in all places… Repent. Turn away from sin and follow the Lord who loves you.
The best part (arguably) of this week: We reached the New Testament!!! This was such an exciting time! It’s amazing to think that we’ve been here in Virginia for 8 weeks and are now into the Gospel of Mark. It’s neat for me to read the accounts of Jesus’ life with the perspective of the Old Testament fresh in my mind.
The people of Israel were waiting for a Deliverer, the seed of a woman, from the line of David who would crush the serpent’s head as promised in Genesis 3:15. In Matthew 1, that Deliverer is revealed, and begins to cause quite a stir. Though the people had prophecies throughout the Old Testament to reveal to them who the Redeemer would be, they didn’t believe. The same is true today. Romans 1 tells us it is plain to man that the Creator God exists, and yet they suppress the truth in unrighteousness, choosing instead to worship self and sin.
This is the whole reason there had to be a Savior. This is why Jesus Christ came into the world, lived perfectly, died horribly, and rose miraculously. This Jesus is the long-awaited Messiah who came to bridge the gap between Holy God and sinful man by His substitutionary work on the cross.
This week, Pastor Jesse Johnson gave us an Old Testament survey. We went through the Old Testament book by book, highlighting the key events, key people, and key passages. There was an emphasis on the Old Testament’s overarching theme of a coming Seed Who would crush Satan, as promised by God immediately after the Fall (Genesis 3:15). We saw that many people may have appeared to be the Seed, but each one failed to be the promised Savior. The Lord preserved the line of the Seed throughout the Old Testament, even against Queen Athaliah’s massacre of the Davidic dynasty’s heirs. Also, we saw the Old Testament’s emphasis on the law and on sacrifice for cleansing of sins. This was a demonstration of the people’s need for a spotless intercessor and the need for that intercessor to shed blood; setting the stage perfectly for Christ the Lamb and His sacrifice on the cross.
This weekend, we accompanied the rest of the Foundry on a retreat to South Bethany Beach in Delaware. We stayed in two very nice beachfront houses, one of which had a backyard that opened to the beach and a balcony with a gorgeous view of sea and sky. This view brought sightings of a pod of dolphins and of a whale spouting far off shore. The Foundry enjoyed corporate worship and a variety of activities, including walking along the beach, playing board games in the main living room of the guys’ house, and a bonfire in the backyard on Saturday night. Pastor Jesse Johnson led the sessions, teaching us about God’s calling and how we can glorify him in our vocation. Pastor Jesse and Alex Hairgrove also had a Q&A session, using questions submitted by the Foundry in a mystery box. In short, it was a relaxing weekend and a great lesson about God’s sovereign plan for our future.