Wednesday, August 14, 2019

The Bethany Bullet Sermon Message - Week of August 11, 2019




Sermon: “Back to School..’er Church. The Three R’s – Rising in Christ”

School is starting back up.  "The three R’s" are back in full swing.  Odds are the term "the three R’s" (Reading, wRiting, aRithmetic) was not crafted by an educator but a preacher...in preaching, spelling doesn't count.   St Paul, in his letter to the Colossians, focuses upon the basics of the Christian life: Rising with Christ, Reflecting the Christ, Relaying to Christ.

"You HAVE BEEN raised with Christ."  Have Been.  The term is past and passive.  The author of scripture, the apostle to the Gentiles is not praying that you will be raised, nor hoping this could be in your future.  He declares this is the case already for the child of God.  Not only is this a past action but it is a passive reception for the Christian.  That is, God has done this for us.  He has raised us.  Through a tomb that held no body and a font that held His resurrection promises, God has raised us.   (See Romans 6 for further reading)

Now as those who HAVE BEEN raised, we are called to rise up daily.  In the small catechism Luther writes that Baptism signifies that we are to, "Daily Rise up and drown the old Adam through repentant contrition and then rise up to live before God in righteousness." 
-Pr. Kevin Kritzer

Monday, August 12, 2019

The One Year Bible- August 12th


With the calendar still showing August it is hard to think that fall is right around the corner. I am looking forward to fall. I love the cooler evenings, and the regular pace of life that begins once school is in session. Fall brings a new school year, new pencils, new challenges and in our Old Testament readings we will be getting into some new territory. The main narrative story of God’s people is over. We will see some more narrative in the prophets but for a while we will have new things, like the books of Esther, Job, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Songs. We will get into the prophets by the second week of September, but for now, enjoy the change of pace and see what God will reveal to you through His word. On to the study…

Seth’s Thoughts
The Old Testament
We finished up the book of Ezra and began the book of Nehemiah this past week. Ezra was a book about a priest and served as a theological perspective to the return of the Exiles. Nehemiah is more of a political book. Nehemiah was in the service of King Artaxerxes as a cupbearer. This was no small job; it was very important. Nehemiah was one of God’s people in exile. He had heard of the return of some of his own people back to the land to rebuild the temple and now he too desired to go. He asked for and received permission from the king and he went back with the purpose of rebuilding the walls of the city so it would be safe from foreign enemies. This was not popular with the governors of the area and they tried to stop the rebuilding of the walls many times. But God’s plan was for the wall and the city to be rebuilt because of his ultimate plan of sending the Messiah to fulfill prophecy. It took just 52 days to finish the wall and after it was completed, the Law (remember Law = writings of Moses) was read to the people and they all rededicated themselves to the LORD. Nehemiah gives us a good history lesson along the way as he reminded the people of the grace of God and his love for the people in spite of their disobedience. For as important as the ministry of Ezra was to the spiritual lives of the people, Nehemiah was to the political life of Jerusalem. The stage was set, the pieces have been put in place, everything was ready for the events to come to pass just as the prophets had foretold. All that was needed was for the fullness of time and the promised Messiah would come.
The New Testament
In our readings in 1 Corinthians we finished up Paul’s introduction with a message on legal matters. His advice is to stay out of the courts when you have a disagreement with another Christian. It just makes you look bad and is a very poor witness to Jesus. In fact it does not honor God when, in the public eye, Christians can’t get along. Paul then moves on to the questions that the church asked him. We do not have a copy of their letter to Paul but we do know how he answered some of their questions. Paul spends a lot of time dealing with marriage. He does not condemn marriage, but he does give some warning about how the desires of the flesh can get us off track spiritually as well as in our relationships. Paul then spends quite a bit of time on the issue of food. Food is something very important to a person of the Old Testament. Food laws were abundant and issues regarding food came up often in the early church. The root of the problem stems from the fact that the early church was multicultural. There were Jews and Gentiles together who had vastly different ideas about food. What was clean and unclean according the groups differed. God had made it perfectly clear that what ever He made clean was clean. This did not mean the people could go “hog wild” (no pun intended). In fact the church needed to be very careful about what it ate. Some people had a hard time with eating foods sacrificed to idols. They wanted to know if they ate the food were they honoring that idol. Then there was the whole problem of what would people think if they saw a believer eating that food. This is a complex issue. Paul tries to break it down, “Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause him to fall.” (1 Cor. 8:13 NIV). And in the next chapter he says, “We put up with anything rather than hinder the gospel of Christ.” (1 Cor. 9:12b NIV). The bottom line is, if it causes someone to stumble or struggle in his or her faith we should try to avoid it at all costs. This has implications for us today. Do we have freedom in Christ? Yes! Can we do whatever we want? Yes, but not everything is beneficial. We must be careful of what we do and how that reflects Christ to the world.
Bits and Pieces
The Old Testament
We will read the entire book of Esther next week. We will also get into the book of Job.

Here are the vital stats for Esther:
PURPOSE: To demonstrate God’s sovereignty and his loving care for his people.  To record the Lord’s providential deliverance of the Judeans from destruction by their enemies in the Persian Empire.
AUTHOR: Unknown, possible Mordecai. Some have suggested Ezra or Nehemiah because of the similarity of the writing style.
DATE WRITTEN: Approx. 483-471 B.C.
SETTING: Although Esther follows Nehemiah in the Bible, its events are about 30 years prior to those recorded in Nehemiah. The story is set in the Persian empire, and most of the action takes place in the king’s palace in Susa, the Persian capital.
KEY VERSE: “For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such as time as this?” (Esther 4:14 NIV)
LAW THEMES: Weakness before one’s enemies due to disobedience; the Lord thwarts grudges and hatred.
GOSPEL THEMES: Preservation of God’s people from whom Jesus would be born; the Lord works constantly for the deliverance of His people.
KEY PEOPLE: Esther, Mordecai, King Xerxes I, Haman
KEY PLACE: The king’s palace
SPECIAL FEATURES: Esther is one of only two books named for women (Ruth is the other). The book is unusual in that in the original version, no name, title, or pronoun for God appears in it. This caused some church fathers to question its inclusion in the canon. But God’s presence is clear throughout the book.

Here are the vital stats for Job:
PURPOSE: The Lord shows He is our Redeemer, despite what we may suffer in life.  It addresses the question, “Why do the righteous suffer?”
AUTHOR: Unknown, possible Job. Some have suggested Moses or Solomon.
DATE WRITTEN: Unknown. Records events that probably occurred during the time of the patriarchs, approx. 2000-1800 BC.
SETTING: The land of UZ, probably located in northeast Palestine, near desert land between Damascus and the Euphrates River.
KEY VERSE: “I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth.” (Job 19:25 NIV)
LAW THEMES: People suffer unduly in a sinful, broken world;  no one can justify himself or herself before God; Satan can tempt people and inflict suffering.
GOSPEL THEMES: God accomplishes His righteous purposes amid and through suffering; the Lord is our Redeemer; the resurrection of the body.
KEY PEOPLE: Job, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, Zophar the Naamathite, Elihu the Buzite.
SPECIAL FEATURES: Job is the first of the poetic books in the Hebrew Bible. Some believe this was the first book of the Bible to be written. This book gives us insights into the work of Satan. Ezekiel 14:14 and James 5:11 mention Job as a historical character.

Tuesday, August 06, 2019

The Bethany Bullet Sermon Message - Week of August 4, 2019


FROM WORSHIP:
Sermon: “The Ultimate Box Score –“

Every true sports fan knows what it is to check out the box scores.  For that matter every fake…I mean Fantasy sports fan knows what it is to check out the box scores too.   If you are neither and thus unfamiliar with the term ‘box score’ - the box score contains the tally of a players accomplishments.  For a game, a stretch of games, or the entire season, a fan can find in the box score the record of a players performance for good or ill.  The box score will record the number of hits, as well as how many times the player struck out.  The box score will list the number of assists, but also the number of turn-overs.  Box scores reflect how many TDs were thrown, and how many INTs were tossed.

Once upon a time, so the story goes, Martin Luther had a dream in which Satan himself was reviewing the Reformers “box score” so to speak.  In this dream the devil began to read the account of the professor’s failures.  “Lusted and lied have you Luther?”  “Is this true?” asked the “father of lies.”    

Sorrowfully, he had to admit that that was the case.  “Martin,” scowled the old evil foe, “have you maligned others and been malcontent with God?”  “Yes” shamefully confessed the monk.   The adversary continued the inquisition, “I see that on occasion you’ve doubted God’s action and been depressed over your situation. Is that the case?  “Occasionally I have” conceded Luther.  The dream continued in this direction, on and on and on; fault, upon failures, upon folly had been recorded.  Again and again and again the Reformer’s response was “yes”.  Satan seemed to have succeeded in bringing Luther to the lowest depths possible when a voice from heaven ran out, “Cancelled!  Everything that stood against him has been erased.  For it’s been nailed to the cross!”

Whether in a terrifying devilish tone or in the familiar lilt of your own conscience, every one of us has lived through such a “nightmare” of accusations.  When such happens heed the voice from heaven, “Cancelled! Everything that stands against you has been erased.  For it has been nailed to the cross!”  Those words are recorded in Colossians chapter 2:14.  The author of those words knew that the result of hearing them would not be a life that ignored the law and sought to embrace “lusting and lying, maligning and doubting” but rather a life, even while yet and ever a sinner this side of heaven, is found striving to be “lived in a manner worthy of our calling.”  Colossians 1:10

NEXT Sunday we start a 3-week series reflecting upon the end of Paul’s letter to the Colossians:  Back to School… ‘er Church.  The Three Rs.  Rising in Christ, Reflecting the Christ, Relaying to Christ.
-Pr. Kevin Kritzer

Monday, August 05, 2019

The One Year Bible- August 5th


Time sure is flying.  It is hard to believe that the school year is right around the corner.  I have seen the “Back to School” mailers in my house and the stores are filled with pens, pencils, and paper just waiting to get used. Summer is winding down. School will be in session soon, and before you know it, it will be Christmas time. The narrative story of God’s people in the Old Testament is winding down as well. We are almost done with the story. It doesn’t seem possible does it? We have made it over seven months now and all I can say is that it has gone by quickly. Before it goes by too fast, let’s stop and spend some time studying and meditating on this week’s readings.

Seth’s Thoughts

The Old Testament
We finished up the book of 2 Chronicles and like I said last week, we miss a big part of the story. We miss about 70 years while the people are in exile in Babylon. We will catch some of this story when we read through Daniel a bit later this year. For now, we see that the LORD is working to set up the people so that a “remnant” will return and be ready for the coming of the Messiah. The Messiah was prophesied to return to the Promised Land. He was to be born in Bethlehem, of the house of David (the prophets will tell us this). Therefore there must be a plan to bring the people back. To get the people ready, God uses Josiah. Josiah gets the people back on the right path and during his reign, the book of the law was found. This was no small thing. The book of the Law was the foundation for the entire society. Without the book of the law it is no wonder that the people kept going their own way. Under Josiah, the people renewed their covenant with the LORD and promised to remain faithful. The people also celebrated the Passover again. But the people fell away under the leadership of some more bad kings and eventually the people were taken into captivity in Babylon. This should have not come as a surprise to the people, both Isaiah and Jeremiah had warned them. But God used King Cyrus of Persia to bring a remnant back to the land. That is where the book of Ezra begins. Jeremiah has prophesied that a remnant would return and it was so. Under the leadership of Zerubbabel and others, the first wave of exiles returned home to rebuild the temple as well as the city of Jerusalem. The people that were living in the area tried to stop it but they were unsuccessful. Did you catch that this was the time of the prophets Haggai and Zechariah? Make sure you remember this context when we get to these books. Ezra led the second wave of people back to the land. Ezra was a scribe and a teacher of the law. He was given the job to make sure the law was taught to the people who returned. In chapter seven the writing changes from third person (he, she, they) to first person (I, me, we). This is now the story of Ezra. The first bit was the history of the first wave of exiles to return. Ezra brings with him more people and more gold, silver and other riches from the King of Babylon. God sure was blessing the people in their return. But, Ezra soon learns that not all is well back home. The people have started to intermarry with the locals (again!!). This causes him great distress. He prays to God for mercy and forgiveness and is ashamed that even in the midst of grace, the people sin. Sounds like today. We live in the midst of grace every day, yet we seem to fall victim of the grip of sin.

The New Testament
We finished up the book of Romans with a long list of names. We don’t know too much about these people in the list. One name has been seen before in the New Testament. Mark mentions a Rufus who was the son of Simon of Cyrene, who carried the cross for Jesus. Is this the same guy? We don’t know for sure, but it would be a compelling story or conversion. Paul ends this letter with a wonderful phrase of praise to God, To the only wise God be glory forever through Jesus Christ! Amen.” (Romans 16:27 NIV)

To understand Paul’s letters to the church in Corinth we need to get some background information.  The Christians in Corinth were struggling with their environment. Surrounded by corruption and every conceivable sin, they felt the pressure to adapt. They knew they were free in Christ, but what did this freedom mean? How should they view idols or sexuality? What should they do about marriage, women in the church, and the gifts of the Spirit? These were more than just theoretical questions; the church was being undermined by immorality and spiritual immaturity. Living as a Christian in Corinth was difficult and some of them were failing the test.  This is the situation and the reason for the first letter to the Corinthians. Paul is concerned with this church and he wants to try to help them through the difficult times. Paul confronts them (and us) with sin and the need for corrective action. Paul talks a lot about the foolishness of being a follower of Jesus. This is not meant as being a slam on those who believe, but as a way to help those understand why those who believe do so. It does not make sense to believe in Jesus from the world’s point of view. Grace does not make sense to our rational brains. Why would God do such a thing as send his only son to die for us? It makes no sense.

I especially like Paul’s analogy in chapter 3, “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose, and each will be rewarded according to his own labor.” (1 Corinthians 3:6-8 NIV). At times in our lives, God has called us to sow the seeds of salvation. At other times we are called to water those seeds. It is rare that we get to see the fruit from beginning to end. When I worked at Arrowhead Lutheran Camp I sowed a lot of seed. At times it was frustrating. I didn’t get to seem much fruit. A few years after leaving camp, I received a letter from a camper who said that because of camp and the Bible studies she was a part of, she know has a close walk with Christ. She thanked me for all my work and says she still prays for the camp and me every day. This letter brought tears to my eyes. I know that it seems that at times we are just spinning our wheels, but let me tell you, the Holy Spirit is doing more than you know.

Bits and Pieces

The Old Testament
We will finish up Ezra and move onto Nehemiah next. Here are the vital stats for
Nehemiah:
PURPOSE: Nehemiah is the last of the Old Testament historical books. It records the history of the third return to Jerusalem after captivity, telling how the walls were rebuilt and the people were renewed in their faith.  This book shows that all things are possible by God’s gracious and providential care.
AUTHOR: Much of the book is written in the first person, suggesting Nehemiah as the author. Nehemiah probably wrote the book with Ezra serving as editor.
DATE WRITTEN: Approx. 445-432 B.C.
SETTING: Zerubbabel led the first return to Jerusalem in 538 B.C. In 458, Ezra led the second return. Finally, in 445, Nehemiah returned with the third group of exiles to rebuild the city walls.
KEY VERSES: “So the wall was completed on the twenty-fifth day of Elul, in fifty two days. When all our enemies heard about this, all the surrounding nations were afraid and lost their self confidence, because they realized that this work had been done with the help of our God.” Nehemiah 6:15-16
LAW THEMES:  Exile due to sin; illegal marriages; broken faith by failing to keep God’s Word.
GOSPEL THEMES:  God fulfills His promises of grace; God’s providence; restored atonement at the temple; God’s hand guides history and the lives of His people, the remnant.
KEY PEOPLE: Nehemiah, Ezra, Sanballat, Tobiah
KEY PLACE: Jerusalem
SPECIAL FEATURES: The book shows the fulfillment of the prophecies of Zechariah and Daniel concerning the rebuilding of Jerusalem’s walls.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

The Bethany Bullet Sermon Message - Week of July 28, 2019

FROM WORSHIP:
Sermon: “A Good Club House”

This coming Sunday we return to our regular worship schedule: 8:00AM, 9:30AM and 10:55AM. 
We also returned to the Sanctuary this past Sunday as well! 

St Paul’s letter to the Colossians remains our reading. 

So far we have been reminded that our Lord’s victory belongs to us and thus we can live like champs!  Of course, this is true of all who belong to Him; and thus ours is a “Good Club House!” 

In the sports world a “good club house” is one in which the team mates put the collective accomplishment of personal achievement, are willing to sacrifice for the benefit of their teammates, listen to the coaching staff and take direction and desire to be part of something greater than self. 

These same truths apply to Christ’s body, the church, as Paul states in the end of the 1st chapter of Colossians. 

Next week we are reminded about the “Ultimate Box Score”; everyone who follows sports has at some point followed a box score.  All who follow Christ have a box score too…next Sunday in the 2nd chapter of the letter to the Colossians we see what it is. 
-Pr. Kevin Kritzer

Monday, July 22, 2019

The One Year Bible- July 22nd


There have been times in my life where I can just feel the presence of God.  At times I can hear his call and he seems close.  But there are also times when God seems distant and far removed from my daily life.  Have you ever felt this way?  Remember that it is all just a matter of perspective.  In reality in our sinfulness we are the ones that drift away.  Sin takes us far from God and in our own minds we try to blame God for leaving us.  Some times I would like God to give me a big sign in the sky to tell me his plan or that he is right there.  The people of the Old Testament got a visual show.  When God’s presence came to earth, the people would see it in the form of a thick cloud.  God revealed himself to his people visually so they could believe.  He did the same when he sent his son Jesus.  Jesus became the walking temple for all of us to see.  Today we can see him every time we partake in the Lord’s Supper, every time we read His Word, and every time he calls another child his own in baptism.  When you think that God is distant, remember that he is right here, closer than you think.  On to the study…

Seth’s Thoughts

The Old Testament
Some good stories this week in the Old Testament. Most of the counting and lists are done with and the narrative picks up in earnest. You may not have even been aware that we started 2 Chronicles this week. Solomon continues to build the Temple for the LORD. It was an impressive structure! There was so much gold used it could not be counted. Silver meant nothing and bronze was almost worthless. It is interesting to note that the curtain of the temple is mentioned. It is what separated the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place. This is the curtain that tore in two (in a different temple mind you) when Jesus died. Jesus’ death brings Holy God and sinful man back into a relationship again. It must have been an awesome sight to see the thick cloud of YAHWEH filling the temple. This was the first time in a while that there had been a physical manifestation of God on earth. Solomon’s prayer was a good one and got the people back on track. God’s response to Solomon was also quite amazing. All was good during the life of Solomon but soon he would be buried with his fathers and his son Rehoboam would become king. Rehoboam did not fare to well. He did not listen to his father’s advisors and soon the kingdom was split. Civil war then raged and the Northern Kingdom went on a road to destruction as they worshiped idols and bowed down to other Gods. King Asa tried to get things right with God but it did not last. Jehoshaphat tried to do what was right but we will soon find out that he has troubles as well. Here are the vital stats for the book of 2 Chronicles:

PURPOSE: To unify the nation around true worship of God by showing his standard for judging kings. The righteous kings of Judah and the religious revivals under their rule are highlighted, and the sins of the evil kings are exposed.
AUTHOR: Ezra, according to Jewish tradition
TO WHOM WRITTEN: All Israel
DATE WRITTEN: Approximately 430 B.C., recording the events for the beginning of Solomon’s reign (970 B.C.) to the beginning of the Babylonian captivity (586 B.C.)
SETTING: Second Chronicles parallels 1 and 2 Kings and serves as their commentary. Originally 1 and 2 Chronicles were one book. It was written after the exile from a priestly perspective, highlighting the importance of the temple and the religious revivals in Judah. The northern kingdom, Israel, is virtually ignored in this history.
KEY VERSE: “If my people who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14 NIV).
KEY PEOPLE: Solomon, the queen of Sheba, Rehoboam, Asa, Jehoshephat, Jehoram, Joash, Uzziah, Ahaz, Hezekiah, Manasseh, Josiah
KEY PLACES: Jerusalem, the temple
SPECIAL FEATURES: Includes a detailed record of the temple’s construction

The New Testament
Paul really gets on a roll in this weeks readings. If you were not convinced you were a sinner before, I bet you are now. Romans six deals with the idea that those who have been united with Christ have been united with him in his death and more importantly in his resurrection. This is great news because now those who are “in Christ” (one of Paul’s favorite phrases) will receive all the benefits of God. Those who are in Christ are dead to sin and alive in Christ. We do not have the freedom to just continue sinning. We are no longer slaves to sin. But then Paul brings up a good point. This is a confusing passage (especially in the NIV) but the NLT (New Living Translation) is a bit clearer for me. “I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead I do what I hate...I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it” (Romans 7:15,18b-20 NLT). Paul realizes that in this world, we are so interwoven with sin that it is impossible to extract ourselves. We are in dire straights! We cry with Paul. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:24 NIV). In the end it is all about Jesus. He is the only one that can free us from this problem. His death and resurrection make it possible for us to leave the sin of this world behind and live for Him in all we do. We now live our lives by the Spirit of God and we have been adopted into his family. And we can call him Daddy (Abba, Father). This relationship cannot be broken. It holds firm even when sin attacks. Therefore do not worry about your status in the world. The important thing is that we are part of the family of God. On the 27th we will read that being a member of this family is easy, “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9 ESV). Good news indeed!!!  Now this verse has been used by many Christians to support a view that human beings must do something in order to become a Christian.  This is not a new idea.  Now days we call it “decision theology” but this has been with the Faith for a long time.  To use a $2 word it is called syncretism.  This means that in some way we have to cooperate with God in some way shape or form for our salvation.  When we make some sort of an effort towards God then he will have mercy on us.  The point of view goes something like this:  We encounter the message of salvation and then we need to make a decision to accept this good news.  The power of God does not begin in our lives until we make a conscious choice to follow him.  Until then we are lost.  This point of view is prevalent in many Christian circles.  Those who hold this view are big believers in altar calls and praying the “sinners prayer” in order to become a believer in Jesus.   There are two passages that help me understand that this is not how God operates.  Paul writes in 1 Corinthians, Therefore I tell you that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, "Jesus be cursed," and no one can say, "Jesus is Lord," except by the Holy Spirit.” (1 Corinthians 12:3 NIV)  Paul also says in Romans 8, The sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.” (Romans 8:7-8 NIV)  When we confess with our mouths that Jesus is Lord, is cannot be an act of a sinful person, because this pleases God.  There must be something that was working in us before we could even do this.  This is the work of the Holy Spirit.  He works in us before we even know who Jesus is.  He comes to us in the waters of baptism before we can even talk.  He starts working on our sinfulness even before we know.  There is no way we can cooperate with God.  Salvation is his action and his action alone.  I could go on and on with this one but I think you get the idea.  Please let me know if you have any more questions about this. 

Monday, July 15, 2019

The One Year Bible- July 15th


Summer is usually a time of rest and relaxation. But sometimes summer can be just as busy if not more so than the school year. During the school year there is a set rhythm to the days and weeks and months, but summer seems to be a flurry of activity. I need a VACATION!! It reminds me of our life in Christ. We all are looking forward to the day when we can rest in the presence of Jesus. It seems like that day will never come. And as we wait we have been given the task of doing God’s will here on earth. Some days it seems like we will never get it all done, but even when we fail (and we will!), God is right there to forgive us and point us in the right direction again. I hope that through your daily reading of Scripture the Lord speaks to you to not only remind you of the rest that awaits, but His love for you as we carry out His will. On to the study....

Seth’s Thoughts

The Old Testament
I will admit that this weeks readings were not too interesting for me, mostly a bunch of lists and numbers. A few things did jump out at me. Fist of all was the repeated mention of the Davidic Covenant that YAHWEH had made with the family of David. This was to last forever but it came to an earthly end. But remember that Jesus is the fulfillment of that covenant and Jesus still sits on the throne that was promise so many years ago. I also thought that it was cool to read about the six-fingered man. It is not too often you hear about them. One last thing that jumped out was the fact that David was the one who made the plans for the temple and gave them to his son Solomon. I am not sure if this is idealized history but it is in the Bible and I believe it.

The New Testament
WOW!! Where to begin? There are many, many books written about Romans and I do not intend to add to the list by using this blog. But I would be remiss if I did not touch on the big theological themes in the book. First of all it is important to remember that Romans reads like a legal court document. Paul is serving as the lawyer who representing faith in Jesus and he is defending his beliefs to a particular group of people at a particular time in history. I do not believe, as others do, that this book contains all that is needed to be a Christian. (i.e. there is no mention of holy communion just to name one). But I do believe that this book contains some of the most important insights into the Faith. First of all, Paul sets up his case by setting out the argument that everyone is a sinner. There is no one who does right. We are all scum, even those who think they are doing what is right (those who follow Jewish Law). God is also a God who shows no favoritism. He hates all sin no matter who does it. Paul brings up the character of Abraham because he is one of the biggies to the Jews. He is like a superhero to them. If anyone deserved to be saved it was Abraham, right? But what does Paul say that makes Abraham a righteous man? Was it is accomplishments, or his attitude, or the fact that he was circumcised? NO! In fact Abraham is declared righteous in Genesis 15 and he is then circumcised in Genesis 17. Abraham was justified by faith, apart from works of the law. We too are justified the same way. We do not magically become Christians by being baptized. We become Christians by faith!! Don't get me wrong here, baptism is important and is powerful, but it is not some pill that is taken or hoop to jump through in order to get "in". That was Paul's point. There is nothing that we do! When we try to earn our own way, or believe that we have some part in this process we get it all mucked up and we forget that this is an action of God and not us. Because we are in this great dilemma, God sent Jesus to us to be a sacrifice for us so we could be saved. It is all passive (by the way almost all of the Greek verbs that describe what we do or become of us are in the passive case). Paul says it way better than I, "For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous." (Romans 5:19 NIV).

Psalms
One quick thing here. On the 16th of this month we will read from Romans 3 that quotes from Psalm 14 and then we read Psalm 14 on the 18th? How cool is that!!!

I hope your summer is not too busy and that you get some time for some earthly rest. Have a great week, let me know if you have any questions and I will see you all soon.


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