Weekly Bible Reading Plan – June 7-14

Matt 4.12-25 - Reading Plan Slide 6.7-6.14

 Questions to Guide You:

  1. Last week, we read about temptation and Jesus’ fight with Satan’s temptations. How is this week’s reading a continuation of that fight? What actions attack the Devil’s kingdom and build Jesus’?
  2. How does the Bible describe people before Jesus shows up on the scene? After?
  3. Why does Jesus preach the same sermon John the Baptist did?
  4. Jesus calls James, John, Andrew, and Peter to follow him. What does it mean to follow? How did they follow Jesus? How do we?
  5. What did it cost the disciples to follow Jesus according to Matt 4 and Luke 18? What does it cost us? What sacrifices should we make?
  6. What is so awesome that it is worth following Jesus and sacrificing?
  7. What does Paul say about the people called by Jesus in 1 Cor 1? Does that sound accurate about the disciples? About us?
  8. According to Ps. 103, what is God like? What does God do? What does God not do? How does Jesus fit the description in Ps 103?
  9. What does 2 Cor 1:3-5 promise us in affliction? How have you experienced this?

For a printer-friendly copy of this reading plan, including sample questions to augment your study of Scripture, Download the PDF. 


Weekly Bible Reading Plan – May 31 – June 7

Matt 4.1-11 - Reading Plan Slide 5.31-6.7

 Questions to Guide You:

  1. Who led Jesus into the desert? Why was Jesus led into the wilderness?
  2. Who tempts us? How does he tempt us? What does he tempt us to do?
  3. What did the Devil tempt Jesus with? What happens if he turns stone into bread? Commands angels to carry him in front of Israel? Worships the Devil?
  4. What did the Devil use to argue with Jesus that he should give in? What did Jesus use to shoot down these temptations?
  5. How can you be like Jesus when tempted?
  6. How can Jesus’ temptation and Heb 2:17-18 and Heb 4:15-16 encourage you?
  7. Jesus is led into the wilderness to be tempted, immediately following an awesome experience of God the Father’s love in baptism. Have you ever experienced temptation after a “mountain top” experience?
  8. What does 1 Cor 10 promise us in ever temptation?

For a printer-friendly copy of this reading plan, including sample questions to augment your study of Scripture, Download the PDF. 


SERMON – Matthew 3:13-17 – The Snow Globe Kingdom (Part 6) – Baptism vs. Baptism


Matthew 3:12-17 - The Snow Globe Kingdom (Part 6)

Baptism vs. Baptism

Preached by Andrew Ruth
Matthew 3:13-17

(Wonder why we call this "The Snow Globe Kingdom?" We explain it here.)

 God promises us 6 things visualized in Baptism.
3 Promises are pictured as we God into the Water.

In Baptism, God promises to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. We are so cleansed as God washes us in the blood of Jesus. 

Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy,cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. Ephesians 5:26

In Baptism, we are promised that we died to sin, when Christ died on the Cross, and we were raised to new life as Jesus was raised from the dead.

having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead. 13 When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins. Col 2:12

In Baptism, God promises that we are credited with Christ's righteousness. We are given all the holiness and perfection Jesus achieved on our behalf. 

“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." 2 Cor 5:21

Jesus received 3 gifts on the way out of the water, and because of Jesus, believers are promised the same 3 promises.

We are promised an OPEN HEAVEN. 

Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus,20 by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Hebrews 10:19-22

We are promised the HOLY SPIRIT.

At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. Titus 3:3-5

We are promised the FATHER'S DELIGHT.

Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” Gal 4:6

Weekly Bible Reading Plan – May 24 – May 31

Snow Globe Kingdom Week 6 Reading Plan - 5.24 - 5.31

 Questions to Guide You:
  1. Why do you think Jesus was baptized, even though he was sinless? Who is he surrounded by in the river? What kind of attitude is this?
  2. What happens when Jesus comes out of the water? Who are the active parties? How is this similar to “baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit?”
  3. What does God the Father say to his Son? What does the Father give his Son? These are the same things said to us and given to us by faith?
  4. In Acts, who is invited to be baptized?
  5. According to Colossians, what does baptism represent? How is baptism like a funeral? Like a birth?
  6. Colossians also mentions circumcision, as the old sign of the covenant. What did circumcision do? How is baptism the “new circumcision?”
  7. When you are baptized and trust in Jesus, God says to you, “This is my child, my beloved, who pleases me greatly.” How does that make you feel? How would you live, if you believed that?

For a printer-friendly copy of this reading plan, including sample questions to augment your study of Scripture, Download the PDF. 


May 24 – June 7 – QUARTERLY FOOD DRIVE benefitting ST. ANNE’s FOOD BANK

May 24 - June 7

St. Ann Catholic Church Food Pantry, or RAMP (Receiving and Ministering to People), serves our Johnston County neighbors in need. Patrons receive one bag of food per family per month. Parishioners are encouraged to donate food or money; monetary donations are used to purchase food from the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina or from local grocery stores.
Each Friday from 9 a.m. to noon, volunteers greet our patrons, pack bags and/or carry bags for our patrons. RAMP also has a community resource guide that we use to further assist our patrons.


For more information, visit the St. Anne's Food Pantry Website Here. 

Weekly Bible Reading Plan – May 17 – May 24

Snow Globe Kingdom Week 4 Reading Plan - 5.17 - 5.24

 Questions to Guide You:
  1. As you read the passages this week, write down the verses that really stand out to you, that you need to hear this week.
  2. Think about John’s first sermon: “Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is near.” What do you think “repent” means?
  3. How is repenting like returning (Jer 3)? How is repenting connected to confessing (Matt 3:6)?
  4. According to Malachi, what kinds of things should we abandon and what things should we embrace?
  5. The “Kingdom of Heaven” is Matthew’s name for the “Kingdom of God.” Very simply, what is a literal kingdom, what makes a person or place part of that kingdom?
  6. Why do think John the Baptist is so angry with the Pharisees and Sadducees? Why have they come out to John the Baptizer? Does he baptize them? How is his message to them like Ezekiel 34?
  7. According to Isaiah 30:15, how do we find salvation and strength? How can you embrace those things this week?

For a printer-friendly copy of this reading plan, including sample questions to augment your study of Scripture, Download the PDF. 


SERMON – Youth Sunday – Exodus 7-12 – How Are the Plagues Gospel?


Exodus 7-12 - How are the 10 Plagues Gospel?

So how are these 10 plagues “Good News?” What do these ten huge, supernatural disasters teach us about God? And how is the God we see in the 10 Plagues a “Good” God?

 Well, in the 10 Plagues of Egypt, we see a God so jealous and loving that he goes to war to rescue his people from slavery in order to deliver them into a Promised Land. In these stories, God rightly judges Pharaoh and the Egyptians, but God does not destroy the Egyptians, which is remarkable when you think about it. The Egyptians have subjected the Hebrew people to the inhumanity of slavery for 400 years. Moreover Pharaoh ordered the murder of all Hebrew baby boys. Pharaoh has murdered hundreds of God’s grandchildren, and yet all God does is discipline him with Plagues.

Through that lens, the Plagues are far less severe than you or I would have poured out if Pharaoh had killed our grandchildren. In fact the plagues demonstrate God’s mercy and show beyond a shadow of a doubt that “YHWH is the LORD.”

At the other end of the Bible we see the God of the Plagues go to war again to save his people from slavery. Instead of sending Moses, God sends his only Son to confront the Devil and lead his people into the Promised Land. Instead of subjecting his enemies to plagues, the Son of God became a slave to all. Instead of spotless lambs on the doorframe, this time it is the Only Begotten Son, the First Born, who is sacrificed, so that the judgment of God will pass over those covered by his blood and those who eat of his flesh will live forever. Instead of leading his people into the Promised Land, the Son of God made a way for humans to enter into the very presence of God. The plagues showed that “YHWH is the LORD,” and now because of the Death and Resurrection, every knee will bow and every tongue will confess “Jesus is the LORD.”

Romans 6:20-23 teaches that we were previously slaves to sin, unable to do the right thing. We were slaves to the sin and the devil, whose business is death, and so all we grew was sin and death. But now we have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, and God’s business is holiness and eternal life – so that’s what we spend our lives building now. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Remember that your ancestors were slaves in Egypt, and so have mercy on those who are enslaved now. Remember that God fought for your ancestors and so labor to deliver those in slavery now. Remember that you ancestors were slaves in Egypt, and remember that you were a slave to a much greater Pharaoh, the Devil, but God fought for you and won your freedom on the cross. Remember, you were a slave to the Devil, but now you are a Child of God, so do not participate in the business of the devil, but give your whole life to God’s family business of making more and better disciples of Jesus.

How are Plagues Gospel?

How are Plagues Good News?

Off the top of my head, I could not tell you what the 10 Plagues teach us about God other than "don't mess with the boss," but I hope by Sunday, May 17 at 1PM, we all will have an answer to that question. Believe it or not, I’ve never preached through the 10 Plagues, but with the Youth of our Church leading us in a meditation of the 10 Plagues this coming Sunday, I wanted to take some time and think through how these 10 supernatural disasters are in fact “Good News.” 

So today, I just want to point out 4 things that are standing out to me so far in Days 1&2 of our Bible Reading (Ex 6:28-8:32).

will know that I am the LORD.

My first question about the plagues, is basically, "Why did God send such terrible disasters upon Egypt as a whole and not just on Pharaoh?" Well, to that question, our God says, “Then the Egyptians will know that I am the LORD” (Ex 7:5). The first thing that God reminds Moses is, “I am the LORD” (Ex 6:29). Similar lines appear later in 8:10, “Then you will know that there is no one like the LORD our God,” and 8:22, “Then you will know that I, the LORD, am in this land.” While to modern sensibilities these plagues seem like harsh judgment at best, and cruel blanket punishment at worst, God says again and again that through them, the Egyptians will come to know that YHWH is the LORD. The Hebrew God, YHWH is the one true God who gives life and takes it away. The Egyptians will see this God, and so in a sense the plagues will show both the power and the mercy of a God. The Plagues provide Egyptians, individually and corporately, with an opportunity to believe, to worship, to repent. They will have a chance to worship YHWH or to continue worshipping the Egyptian gods their families have historically worshipped.

REFLECTION QUESTION: What events or even tragedies have revealed God as LORD in your life? How did you come to know that I am the LORD? How have you had to choose between worshipping YHWH and worshipping the “gods” your family has historically served?

Let my people go. Then they will be able to worship me.

"Black sheep-1" by Jesus Solana from Madrid, Spain - Black sheep . Do u also feel different? // la Oveja negra. Tambien te sientes diferente?Uploaded by Petronas. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Black_sheep-1.jpg#/media/File:Black_sheep-1.jpgSecond, God repeatedly commands Pharaoh, through Moses and Aaron, “Let my people go. Then they will be able to worship me” (Ex 7:16, 8:1, 8:20). Notice that there is something about being in Egypt that prevents the Israelites from worshipping. So, why can’t the Israelites worship in Egypt? That’s a great question. I can think of a couple reasons. The first is very practical. According to Genesis 46:34, the Egyptians abhor sheep and shepherds. Sheep are to Egyptians what pigs are to Israelites. But Israelites must offer sheep as sacrifices to YHWH, and as told in Ex 8:26-27, the Egyptians will find this detestable and most likely massacre the offenders. So practically, they can’t worship God in the way God has commanded them (i.e. spotless lamb sacrifices) so long as they are in a country where sheep are detestable. But even more than that, I think there are other reasons they can’t worship in Egypt. I think one of the main reasons is that they are slaves. It is hard to worship when you’re captive (especially to the false gods of Egypt). Remember, Pharaoh has increased the Israelite workload tremendously; maybe they are too busy or too exhausted to worship.

            Lastly, it seems like the Israelites might be wondering if YHWH is actually the most powerFUL God since they are the most powerLESS people.

REFLECTION QUESTION: What is keeping you from worshipping? Is it possible for you to worship where you are? Are you so dominated by someone that worships false gods that it is destroying your ability to worship? Are you too busy or too tired to offer YHWH worship? Does your current life situation cause you to doubt YHWH’s power and care?

 The magicians did the same thing by their secret arts.

1024px-Frogs_for_saleThe third and fourth things sticking out to me are connected, like two sides of the same coin. The Egyptian “magicians” often mimic the miracles and plagues (staffs into snakes, and Nile into blood, and frogs), but when they do so they only compound the problem. I don’t know how they perform these wonders, but the Bible (even the New Testament) acknowledges that there are spirits capable of performing miracles, even the Devil, himself, performs miracles to trap men in the worship false gods. Still, what amazes me is that the magicians/priests actually make the problem worse. You’re in a palace with a spitting cobra, the last thing you need is 10 more spitting cobras. You’re in a country where all the water is blood, and you turn the only fresh water you can find into blood?! You’re in a country filled to the brim with frogs, so many frogs you can’t even cook dinner, and your priests actually make more frogs?!

            If they wanted to show the power of the Egyptian gods, what the priests should have done was remove the plagues. If the Egyptian gods were more powerful or even as powerful as YHWH, the priests would have turned the snake into a worm, the blood back into water, and shepherded all the frogs back into the river! But instead, these priests and their false gods make the problems worse. They have power, but only the power to amaze and destroy. Tellingly, just after the magician priests bring up more frogs (8:7), Pharaoh calls Moses and Aaron to beg them to pray to YHWH to take away the frogs (8:8). He has to see the folly in making more frogs when what they really need is a solution to the frogs. 

The LORD did what Moses asked.

The fourth observation is only YHWH ever abates the plagues. YHWH takes away every plague. Pharaoh repeatedly asks Moses to pray to YHWH to remove the plagues, and YHWH does. That is amazing grace, if I were in charge of the world, I wouldn't take the plagues away until the Israelites were all the way into the Promised Land. This is mercy, because pure judgment, would have destroyed Egypt like it did Sodom and Gomorrah. But, God wants the Egyptians to know that YHWH is Lord and is both just and merciful. So, it is YHWH not the Egyptian gods or Pharaoh’s public works that bring relief. AND PHARAOH KNOWS IT. Pharaoh’s petitions for prayer prove that he is realizing “I am the LORD,” but knowledge IS NOT faith. One can know God is God and not trust God. One can know Jesus is Lord, and still choose to be a self-led person, but it only compounds the plagues already present. For Pharaoh to submit to God, will cost him financially, and will require him to acknowledge that he was wrong religiously and politically. Perhaps his pride is keeping him from faith. Or perhaps he is presuming upon God's mercy, even though he has not intention of changing at all.

REFLECTION QUESTIONS: Where am I trying to fight fire with fire and only making problems worse? Where am I trying to solve problems “my way” instead of praying to God to fix them? Are there areas of my life where I know God is God, but I don’t live like I can trust him to lead my life? Are there areas of my life where pride keeps me from faith? Are their areas where I pray for God's mercy and forgiveness, but I persist in my stubbornness?