Monday, July 16, 2018

The One Year Bible- July 16th


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.

Monday, July 09, 2018

The One Year Bible- July 9th


It has been a pretty crazy couple of weeks for me.  VBS finished a few weeks ago, then I was at the District Convention for our Church body, I traveled with the family for a quick get away, and now I am prepping to go to Alaska on a short term mission trip at the end of the week.  Boy, and I tired!  Getting ready for ministry like this is filled with long hours and a lot of stress.  In many ways it is a microcosm of life.  Jesus didn’t say the following him would be easy, in fact he said it would be filled with difficulties.  But they are all worth it when you see the face of a child who is hearing about Jesus for the first time.  So I encourage you to stay in the Word and know that God is with you every step of the way.  On to the study…

Seth’s Thoughts

The Old Testament
As you have seen, the book of 1 Chronicles starts out with just a bunch of lists and numbers. It is not easy reading (and I will admit that I have skimmed a bit) but it is setting the stage for the story to come. In his book called “A Theology as Big as the City” Ray Bakke gives some insight to 1 and 2 Chronicles:

“I believe the books called Chronicles emerged from documents compiled by folks combing through the ruins of destroyed cities after the captive and exile in Babylon. The events depicted in Chronicles are from the same period as Samuel and Kings, but they represent a theological perspective not originating in the palace. In Chronicles, Israel is viewed as a theocracy. David and Solomon are idealized, and the message is: Here’s how the Lord meets all needs, both material and spiritual.”

Bakke gives me some perspective when reading this book. A few insights from the readings, first the readings are a bit random at first and hard to understand but don’t let that bug you. Don’t worry if you don’t know all the names and even if you skip through some of it. Second, as you read, try to remember the stories as they were written in Samuel or Kings. How are they different? Chronicles does not give all the details but is like the “Readers Digest” version of the story.

The New Testament
We finished up the book of Acts this week with Paul in Rome having survived a shipwreck on the island of Malta. Paul was sent to Rome to have a trial by Caesar even though Felix, Festus and Agrippa all could find no reason to keep him. Felix did hope that Paul would bribe him but Paul didn’t and that is one of the reasons he probably stayed in Caesarea so long. During the hearings, Paul takes the opportunity to share his own testimony and to witness about Jesus Christ. Paul shares his conversion experience again (the third time in Acts) and gives glory to God in all he does. Paul summarizes his doctrine by saying, “But I have had God's help to this very day, and so I stand here and testify to small and great alike. I am saying nothing beyond what the prophets and Moses said would happen— that the Christ would suffer and, as the first to rise from the dead, would proclaim light to his own people and to the Gentiles.” (Acts 26:22-23 NIV). We will see this doctrine again and again as we read through Paul’s letters. A few interesting things at the end of the book, first off, Paul gets bit by a snake and lives! That is pretty cool. The people first thought it was “karma” that a prisoner would get bit by a snake, but when he did not die they all though he was a god. I would like to have known how Paul responded to this, but Luke moves on in the story. We learn that Paul is under house arrest in Rome but many people come to hear him talk and he shares the message of Jesus with them. One thing of note here is that Paul had already sent his letter to the Romans before he even arrived, so there were already believers in the city. An apostle did not start the church in Rome; Jews who were converted in Jerusalem at Pentecost most likely started it. The end of the book is a bit strange. Why do we not know the outcome of the trial with Caesar? How long did Paul stay in Rome? Where did he go after? How did he die? These are all good questions but they don’t all have good answers from scripture. We can piece together the end of Paul’s life from other sources but it is a bit blurry. Some theologians believe that Luke intended to write a third volume to the story. If he did, it has been lost to history. We will have to ask Luke when we get to heaven why the end is so abrupt.

Bits and Pieces
We will start the book of Romans this week. I love this book but I will try to limit my discussions of the text since I could teach a semester class with all the things that we can find in this letter. I will share the big ones with you. Here are the vital stats of the book:

PURPOSE: To introduce Paul to the Romans and to give a sample of his message before he arrives in Rome.
AUTHOR: Paul
TO WHOM WRITTEN: The Christians in Rome and believers everywhere
DATE WRITTEN: About A.D. 57, from Corinth as Paul was preparing for his visit to Jerusalem.
SETTING: Apparently Paul had finished his work in the east, and he planned to visit Rome on his way to Spain after first bringing a collection to Jerusalem for the poor Christians there. The Roman church was mostly Jewish but also contained a number of Gentiles.
KEY VERSES: “The righteous will live by faith” (1:17b) “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (5:1)
KEY PEOPLE: Paul, Phoebe
KEY PLACE: Rome
SPECIAL FEATURES: Paul wrote Romans as an organized and carefully presented statement of his faith—it does not have the form of a typical letter. He does, however, spend considerable time greeting people in Rome at the end of the letter.
Have a great week!!

Monday, July 02, 2018

The One Year Bible- July 2nd


With the calendar in my office reading July, I wish to congratulate you on reading more than one half of the Bible!! The year is half way done and we are well on our way to reading all of God’s Word this year. This may be the time to evaluate how you are doing in your reading plan. Is everything going well? Do you need to make any adjustments in your reading plan? Do you need to find a buddy to read with? Let me know how I can help. Keep up all the hard work! On to the study today...

Seth’s Thoughts

The Old Testament
We finished up the book of 2nd Kings this week with a flurry of Kings, most of them bad. We read quite often, “but he did what was evil in the LORD’s sight...”. Over and over the kings continued in the sins of the previous rulers. Remember God’s word to Joshua way back, “Make sure you drive out all the people living in the land and do not worship their Gods” (my paraphrase). Well the kings did not do a very good job and now the consequences are going to set in. First it was Israel’s turn to be exiled. The author of 2nd Kings does a great job telling us why, “This disaster came upon the people of Israel because they worshiped other gods. They sinned against the LORD...the followed the practices of the pagan nations...they build pagan shrines...they set up sacred pillars...they offered sacrifices on all the hilltops...they worshiped idols despite the LORD’s specific warnings” (2 Kings 17:7-12 NLT). What were these warnings? Sometimes it is helpful to look at the whole picture. The Old Testament is not in complete chronological order. So far it has worked out, but we will soon see, in the books of 1st and 2nd Chronicles, that this is not always the case. One thing that is difficult is the warnings most often came from the prophets. God sent his holy men to warn the kings and the people what would happen if they did not turn back to YAHWEH. Isaiah and Jeremiah are two prophets who gave many warnings. We must remember this context when we get into these two long books a bit later in the year. There are some Bibles out there called “Chronological Bibles” that insert the warnings of the prophets into the narrative story. This can be very helpful to remember the context of the prophets. We do get a couple of good kings, Hezekiah was pretty good Josiah was even better, but even these two kings could not stop the exile from happening. One neat thing from 2 Kings 19, when Isaiah speaks he mentions “The Holy One of Israel”. Remember this term. We will see it over and over again in the prophetic books. Almost always it is used in reference to the promised Messiah (Much more on this when we are in the book of Isaiah later this year). One really great thing that happened during the reign of Josiah was that the book of the Law was found. How did it get lost? This does answer some of the questions about how king after king did not follow the Law of YAHWEH. Josiah had the book of the Law read to the people and they began to come back to the LORD. I am of the opinion that God used Josiah to get the people ready for the exile. God had promised that a remnant would return (through the prophet Isaiah). This remnant will build the city up again. Israel went to exile never to be heard from again but Judah had the promise of the Davidic covenant and we will soon see how God will be faithful even to his unfaithful people. The city of Jerusalem lies in ruins, the people have been exiled and all hope seems to be lost.

The New Testament
We continued the story of Paul at the end of his third missionary journey. It seems that everywhere Paul went, there was some sort of trouble. There was trouble in Ephesus, and then big time trouble in Jerusalem. Even in all of this trouble and turmoil, Paul remains calm and cool. He stays focused on his mission, to spread the message of Jesus Christ. Paul knew that he was to go to Rome. It will not happen the way he wants it to but I am getting ahead of the story. You can tell a lot about Paul by from this quote, “However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace.” (Acts 20:24 NIV). May we all have the same conviction as Paul!! We read just one chapter later, “I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” (Acts 21:13 NIV). I am truly humbled when I read of the conviction of Paul. Paul gets into some hot water with the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem and they try to kill him. Paul gives a great sermon and testimony on the steps of the governor’s palace. I am sure that there were some who heard his message and believed but many still wanted his head. The Roman commander ordered Paul to be whipped but once it was learned that he was a Roman citizen that was stopped quickly. Paul almost incites a riot between the Pharisees and the Sadducees when he was on trial and the Romans took no chances in losing control and secretly sent Paul off to Caesarea. Paul will never again live his life as a free man. Not only was he in physical chains, he also believed he was in chains to the Gospel and was a slave to Christ. We will see these patters emerge when we read some of Paul’s letters.

Bits and Pieces


The Old Testament
We will start 1 Chronicles the week but before we do we need to get some context to the book before they will make any sense to us. Both 1 and 2 Chronicles were written after the exiles returned from Babylon. They parallel many of the stories we have already read. Don’t get confused by hearing the same story again. These books are like commentaries on the books that preceded them. They are also like history books that were written by people who were not eyewitnesses to the events.  Here are the vital stats for 1 Chronicles:

PURPOSE: To chronicle for the exiles the rule of David’s house and appointed services of the Levites as a record of how God’s people “keep the faith”
AUTHOR: Ezra, according to Jewish tradition
TO WHOM WRITTEN: All Israel (the nation is once again called Israel)
DATE WRITTEN: Approx. 430 BC recording events that took place from about 1000-960 BC
SETTING: First Chronicles parallels 2 Samuel and serves as a commentary on it. Written after the exile from a priestly point of view, 1 Chronicles emphasizes the religious history of Judah and Israel.
LAW THEMES: Breaking faith, exile, failure to follow God’s Word, seek the Lord.
GOSPEL THEMES: God’s blessings and rule through David, the Lord’s rule through David’s house, God with His servant, atonement at the tabernacle.
KEY VERSE: “And David knew that the LORD had established him as king over Israel and that his kingdom had been highly exalted for the sake of his people Israel” (1 Chronicles 14:2).
KEY PEOPLE: David, Solomon
KEY PLACES: Hebron, Jerusalem, the temple

The Psalms
We finished the book of Psalms this week but we get to do it all over again.  Please let me know if you have some questions the second time around.

Have a great week!!!

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Bethany Bullet Sermon Message - Week of June 24, 2018


Read

When Jesus spoke these words farming was an act of faith!  Seed was spread and prayers were said.  Today farming is a science (that is not to say farmers don’t pray) but at least first world farming in the modern age is based upon scientifically measured expectations.  No one simply slings a seed bag over their shoulder and spends the morning tossing.  Exact rows are plumbed, precise depth is calculated, precipitation (whether from the sky or irrigation system) is gauged.  Though farming has changed, Jesus point remains the same.  IN THE KINGDOM of GOD…the growth (and thus the glory) belongs to God alone! Yet the “farm work” is what we’ve been called to do!  God grows as His people sew. 

Ever been called scatter brained? The Lord has created us, as His church, to be scatter minded!  To give away His grace, to fling His forgiveness wide, to disperse His love and share His mercy freely; Trusting that God will provide the growth!   The ancient world farmer lets us know where we sew…wherever we are!   We moderns, unlike the parabolic planter, would probably say don’t waste your time on tossing were the weeds are, don’t waste your time in the “bird zone” or on rocky terrain.  Jesus’ point is clear…we never know what good soil looks like, we simply know what God’s seed is like…the news of undeserved grace, mercy for every sin, the offer to cheer on, lift up, come beside, love for the loveless and kindness towards one that might not return the same.  We sew and trust that God will grow the kingdom as He knows best!

-Pastor Kevin Kritzer

Monday, June 25, 2018

The One Year Bible- June 25th


I am in the habit of writing smiley faces or unhappy faces in the margins of my One Year Bible to indicate a good story or a bad one. Usually they about equal each week. This week however, I had way more unhappy faces. I wrote one for each time someone killed another person or events that were displeasing to God took place. Looking back, it makes me appreciate even more the love God has for us. As a group, people keep messing up. I do every day. But God loves us and sent his Son for us. It is just amazing when you stop to think that Jesus was sent to this earth in spite of and because of people like Ahab and Jezebel. On to the study.....

Seth’s Thoughts

The Old Testament

A couple of stories I want to mention today that have parallels in the New Testament. First of all, there is a miraculous conception with the woman from Shunem. It reminds be of the story of Abram and Sari in Genesis but it also points forward to both Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist, and Mary, the mother of Jesus. Like Jesus, this child died and was brought back to life again (after he sneezed seven times…that is funny). Now I don’t want to press the text too much, but it does set a precedent that God is a powerful God and he can bring people back from the dead. Then there is the story of the poisonous stew. Elisha made sure the stew was O.K. to eat and in a fashion similar to the feeding of the 5,000 everyone ate and was satisfied and there was food left over. In an of themselves these stories show the power of God, but I think they also are a set up for what was to come in the person of Jesus Christ. Then there is the story of the ax head the floats in the water. What was that all about? Again it shows the power of God and points to who Yahweh is. One more… after Elisha dies and is in his tomb the people need to bury another person. Now in those days the dead were buried in shared tombs like caves. The Moabites start a raid on the people so they just throw the body in the tomb. It bumps into Elisha’s bones and the guy comes back to life! Now that is awesome!! God is still using Elisha to show is power long after Elisha died. I wish there was more to this story but the text just goes on to another story. Sometimes the Bible does that. It does not mean that it is not part of scripture but sometimes there is nothing else about the story. One thing that I found in reading this week was trying to keep the kings straight in my mind. What I did was look for some sort of a list and here is what I found. I hope it is helpful:

Kings of Judah and Israel

Kings Before Division of Kingdom
· Saul: First King of Israel; son of Kish; father of Ish-Bosheth, Jonathan and Michal.
· Ish-Bosheth (or Eshbaal): King of Israel; son of Saul.
· David: King of Judah; later of Israel; son of Jesse; husband of Abigail, Ahinoam, Bathsheba, Michal, etc.; father of Absalom, Adonijah, Amnon, Solomon, Tamar, etc.
· Solomon: King of Israel and Judah; son of David; father of Rehoboam.
· Rehoboam: Son of Solomon; during his reign the kingdom was divided into Judah and Israel.

Kings of Judah (Southern Kingdom)
· Rehoboam: First King.
· Abijah (or Abijam or Abia): Son of Rehoboam.
· Asa: Probably son of Abijah.
· Jehoshaphat: Son of Asa.
· Jehoram (or Joram): Son of Jehoshaphat; husband of Athaliah.
· Ahaziah: Son of Jehoram and Athaliah.
· Athaliah: Daughter of King Ahab of Israel and Jezebel; wife of Jehoram; only queen to occupy the throne of Judah.
· Joash (or Jehoash): Son of Ahaziah.
· Amaziah: Son of Joash.
· Uzziah (or Azariah): Son of Amaziah.
· Jotham: Regent, later King; son of Uzziah.
· Ahaz: Son of Jotham.
· Hezekiah: Son of Ahaz; husband of Hephzi-Bah.
· Manasseh: Son of Hezekiah and Hephzi-Bah.
· Amon: Son of Manasseh.
· Josiah (or Josias): Son of Amon.
· Jehoahaz (or Joahaz): Son of Josiah.
· Jehoiakim: Son of Josiah.
· Jehoiachin: Son of Jehoiakim.
· Zedekiah: Son of Josiah; kingdom overthrown by Babylonians.

Kings of Israel (Northern Kingdom)
· Jeroboam I: Led secession of Israel.
· Nadab: Son of Jeroboam I.
· Baasha: Overthrew Nadab.
· Elah: Son of Baasha.
· Zimri: Overthrew Elah.
· Omri: Overthrew Zimri.
· Ahab: Son of Omri; husband of Jezebel.
· Ahaziah: Son of Ahab.
· Jehoram (or Joram): Son of Ahab.
· Jehu: Overthrew Jehoram.
· Jehoahaz (or Joahaz): Son of Jehu.
· Jehoash (or Joash): Son of Jehoahaz.
· Jeroboam Il: Son of Jehoash.
· Zechariah: Son of Jeroboam II.
· Shallum: Overthrew Zechariah.
· Menahem: Overthrew Shallum.
· Pekahiah: Son of Menahem.
· Pekah: Overthrew Pekahiah.
· Hoshea: Overthrew Pekah; kingdom overthrown by Assyrians.

The New Testament
We are in the middle of hearing about the missionary journeys of Paul. I hope you found a good map to help you follow along. A couple of things about these readings; first of all Paul is following his pattern of going to the synagogue first (remember this pattern from last week?). Then he heads out to the streets and in Acts 14 we have a very famous sermon. It is referred to as the sermon on Mars Hill. Paul argues using Greek ways to the philosophers about this person called Jesus. Later on Paul uses one of the statues of the “gods” and says that this “unknown god” is indeed Jesus. Of course this gets Paul into all kinds of trouble and they people try to kill him so he flees the area. Acts 15 records a big debate on whether or not Gentiles have to become Jews first (i.e. through circumcision) before they can be Christians. Paul has a great line in the debate that seems to set the church on the right path, “But we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will.” (Acts 15:11 ESV) Then James gets up and makes the decision to have a compromise and he says, “Therefore my judgment is that we should not trouble those who turn to God.” (Acts 15:19 ESV) I think these are some wise words that we need to be heard today. Of course, because of the message, Paul and Silas end up in prison, but God turns it into a positive thing when they were able to share the message of Jesus with all in the prison, including the jailer. We find out that they all get baptized and became followers. There is a lot more to say about this week’s readings but we don’t have time here. Let me know if you have any questions.


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