Monday, October 24, 2016

The One Year Bible- October 24th

I have always been a fan of the morning prayer service known as Matins. This service has a rich tradition in the Church. This service is filled with singing, prayer and other music. Growing up Lutheran I have seen many versions of this service. But regardless of what hymnal it comes out of the words are very powerful and have great meaning for me. We read one of the central passages used in Matins this week. Lets use these words as our focus today.
 Oh come, let us sing to the LORD;
   let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!
Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving;
   let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!
For the LORD is a great God,
   and a great King above all gods.
In his hand are the depths of the earth;
   the heights of the mountains are his also.
The sea is his, for he made it,
   and his hands formed the dry land.
 Oh come, let us worship and bow down;
   let us kneel before the LORD, our Maker!
For he is our God,
   and we are the people of his pasture,
   and the sheep of his hand.--
Psalm 95:1-7 ESV

Seth’s Thoughts

The Old Testament
As we keep plugging away at Jeremiah I saw some great glimpses of gospel this week. Here are a few that hit me:

“Behold, I will bring to it health and healing, and I will heal them and reveal to them abundance of prosperity and security.  I will restore the fortunes of Judah and the fortunes of Israel, and rebuild them as they were at first.  I will cleanse them from all the guilt of their sin against me, and I will forgive all the guilt of their sin and rebellion against me.”  Jeremiah 33:6-8

“For I will restore the fortunes of the land as at first, says the LORD.” Jeremiah 33:11b

And then a great Messianic promise: “In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David, and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In those days Judah will be saved, and Jerusalem will dwell securely. And this is the name by which it will be called: 'The LORD is our righteousness.”  Jeremiah 33:15-16

We have come to the point in the story where there is more narrative than prophetic. Many historic details are filled in and give us a better picture of some of the events that took place right before the exile. We don’t usually get many of these stories in Sunday School. I had forgotten that Jeremiah gets thrown into a mud pit and almost dies. And that the king burned up the scroll that was written almost in spite of the message it contained. Eventually we see the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple itself. It was a sad day in the life of the people. I put quite a few frowning faces in the margin of my Bible this week. Another bit of the story that I forgot about was that of those who were left in the country and not taken into exile. I found it very interesting that the Lord promised protection for these people through Jeremiah as long as they stayed in the land. But, like what seems to happen again and again, the people do not listen and head to Egypt for what they think is “safety”. Their self-centeredness was their destruction.

Most of the rest of our readings this week were pronouncements of judgments on the surrounding countries. The Lord will finally punish all the other countries for their unbelief. It is sometimes hard for us to read about all this destruction, but we need to remember that God has every right to punish us for our sins. We need to have a good grasp on this so we can see that the gift of Jesus Christ is so amazing. We are not treated as we deserve. We have been given a wonderful gift in Jesus…you see, I told you this book was Christ centered.

The New Testament
As a pastor I really feel that Paul is talking to me through the words of 1 and 2 Timothy. But just because you are not a “pastor”, does not mean you cannot benefit greatly from these two letters of Paul. I kind of see these letters as letters of encouragement, sort of like Paul is the coach and Timothy is the player. Paul can’t do the work for him but he can give him some great advice. One of the most famous phrases of encouragement comes from 1 Timothy 4, “Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.”  What awesome encouragement! Paul goes on to say, “devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching.”  Paul also reminds us all, “You can’t take it with you.” We need to learn to be content where God has placed us. In 2 Timothy 2 Paul makes a connection to the Old Testament. He writes, “Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel”   (2 Timothy 2:8 ESV). This is a flashback to the good old Davidic covenant that we have seen in Jeremiah recently. Once again it all comes back to a story about Christ. I love all the “trustworthy sayings” in these letters. The one on the unity we have with Christ gives me great comfort and hope. “If we have died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he also will deny us;  if we are faithless, he remains faithful— for he cannot deny himself.”  (2 Timothy 2:11-13 ESV) There are some big passages in 2 Timothy for us in our Theology. “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17 ESV) This passage forms the basis for our belief in Scripture. We believe that the Bible is the only rule and norm of faith. It comes from God, and is useful for all sorts of things regarding our faith. It gets us ready to respond to God in good works as well. This is one of those passages that should be committed to memory!!! The end of 2 Timothy shows us some of the humanity of Paul. He is stuck in Rome, under arrest, and many of his followers have left him. Only Luke remains. Paul asks for Timothy to come to visit with him. It shows us that Paul not only cares for his good friend and partner in ministry but he misses him terribly and desires his companionship. I hope you have good friends like this; I have been blessed with many of them.

Bits and Pieces

The Old Testament
We will move on to the book of Lamentations this week and begin the book of Ezekiel. Here are the vital stats for the books:

PURPOSE: To teach people that to disobey God is to invite disaster, and to show that God suffers when His people suffer.
AUTHOR: Most likely Jeremiah
DATE WRITTEN: Soon after the fall of Jerusalem in 586 B.C.
SETTING: Jerusalem had been destroyed by Babylon and her people killed, tortured, or taken captive.
KEY VERSE: “My eyes fail from weeping, I am in torment within, my heart is poured out on the ground because my people are destroyed, because children and infants faint in the streets of the city.” (2:11)
LAW THEMES: The Lord pours out His anger against the kingdom of Judah; Judah finds no comfort; she cries, mourns, weeps, and laments the siege and exile.
GOSPEL THEMES:  The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; great is His faithfulness; wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord; he has redeemed you.
KEY PEOPLE: Jeremiah, the people of Jerusalem
KEY PLACE: Jerusalem
SPECIAL FEATURES: Three strands of Hebrew thought meet in Lamentations—prophecy, ritual, and wisdom. Lamentations is written in the rhythm and style of ancient Jewish funeral songs or chants. It contains five poems corresponding to the five chapters.

PURPOSE: To announce God’s judgment on Israel and other nations and to foretell the eventual salvation of God’s people
AUTHOR: Ezekiel—the son of Buzi, a Zadokite priest
TO WHOM WRITTEN: The Jews in captivity, in Babylonia, and God’s people everywhere
DATE WRITTEN: Approx. 571 B.C.
SETTING: Ezekiel was a younger contemporary of Jeremiah. While Jeremiah ministered to the people still in Judah, Ezekiel prophesied to those already exiled in Babylonia after the defeat of Jehoichin.
KEY VERSES: “For I will take you out of the nations; I will gather you from all the countries and bring you back into your own land. I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all you idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” (36:24-26)
LAW THEMES: Death and God’s wrath come to Israel by the sword; Israel has not walked in God’s statutes; in anger, God withdraws His glory and blessings; idolatry as spiritual adultery; defilement; exile; famine and pestilence.
GOSPEL THEMES: God keeps His covenant; new hearts; gift of the Spirit; the Good Shepherd; cleansing; restore the fortunes; God’s glory returns; the new temple.
KEY PEOPLE: Ezekiel, Israel’s leaders, Ezekiel’s wife, Nebuchadnezzar, “the prince”
KEY PLACES: Jerusalem, Babylon, and Egypt

The New Testament
We will read two books in their entirety this week (Titus & Philemon) as well as start another (Hebrews). Here are the vital stats on these three books:

PURPOSE: To advise Titus in his responsibility of supervising the churches in the island of Crete
TO WHOM WRITTEN: Titus, a Greek, probably converted to Christ through Paul’s ministry (he had become Paul’s special representative to the island of Crete), and to all believers everywhere.
DATE WRITTEN: About A.D. 64, around the same time 1 Timothy was written; probably from Macedonia when Paul traveled between his Roman imprisonments.
SETTING: Paul sent Titus to organize and oversee the churches on Crete. This letter tells Titus how to do this job.
KEY VERSE: “The reason I left you in Crete was that you might straighten out what was left unfinished and appoint elders in every town, as I direct you” (1:5)
LAW THEMES: Be above reproach; rebuke; the pure and the defiled; submissiveness; devotion to good works.
GOSPEL THEMES: Election; soundness; God’s grace; redemption; washing and renewal; justification.
KEY PEOPLE: Paul, Titus
KEY PLACES: Crete, Nicopolis
SPECIAL FEATURES: Titus is very similar to 1 Timothy with its instructions to church leaders.

PURPOSE: To convince Philemon to forgive his runaway slave, Onesimus, and to accept him as a brother in the faith.
TO WHOM WRITTEN: Philemon, who was probably a wealthy member of the Colossian church, and all believers.
DATE WRITTEN: About A.D. 60, during Paul’s first imprisonment in Rome, at about the same time Ephesians and Colossians were written.
SETTING: Slavery was common in the Roman Empire and evidently some Christians had slaves. Paul does not condemn the institution of slavery in his writings, but he makes a radical statement by calling this slave Philemon’s brother in Christ.
KEY VERSES: “Perhaps the reason he was separated from you for a little while was that you might have him back for good—no longer as a slave, but better than a slave, as a dear brother. He is very dear to me but even dearer to you, both as a man and as a brother in the Lord (verses 15-16)
LAW THEMES: Usefulness; imprisonment; service; debt; partnership
GOSPEL THEMES: Comfort/refreshment; reconciliation; forgiveness.
KEY PEOPLE: Paul, Philemon, Onesimus
KEY PLACES: Colosse, Rome
SPECIAL FEATURES: This is a private, personal letter to a friend.

PURPOSE: To present the sufficiency and superiority of Christ
AUTHOR: Paul, Luke, Barnabas, Apollos, Silas, Philip, Pricilla, and others have been suggested because the name of the author is not given in the Biblical text itself. Whoever it was speaks of Timothy as “brother” (13:23)
TO WHOM WRITTEN: Hebrew Christians (perhaps second-generation Christians) who may have been considering a return to Judaism, perhaps because of immaturity, stemming from a lack of understanding of Biblical truths; and all believers in Christ.
DATE WRITTEN: Probably before the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem in A.D. 70, because the religious sacrifices and ceremonies are referred to in the book, but no mention is made of the temples destruction
SETTING: These Jewish Christians were probably undergoing fierce persecution, socially and physically, both from Jews and from Romans. Christ had not yet returned to establish his kingdom, and the people needed to be reassured that Christianity was true and that Jesus was the Messiah.
KEY VERSE: “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.” (1:3)
LAW THEMES: Retribution for disobedience; slavery to death and the devil; and unbelieving heart; rebellion; obligation to sacrifice; repentance from dead works; crucifying Jesus again; the living God’s vengeance; struggle against sin; discipline; obedience to leaders.
GOSPEL THEMES: God spoke through Jesus; purification for sins; inheriting salvation; our High Priest and Mediator; sanctification; God’s promises; Melchizedek; sprinkled and washed; assurance of faith; the founder and perfecter of our faith; the great Shepherd.
KEY PEOPLE: Old Testament men and women of faith (see chapter 11)
SPECIAL FEATURES: Although Hebrews is called a “letter” (13:22), it has the form and content of a sermon.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The Bethany Bullet - Week of October 16, 2016

“Follow the Leader…Lead the Followers”

“Everything in Scripture is God’s Word.  All of it is useful for teaching and helping people and for correcting them and showing them how to live.”  II Timothy 3:15-16

This passage proclaims beautifully the very thing the Reformers sought to expound with “Sola Scriptura.”  The Word, and the Word alone, is the source of what we Christians believe and how we Christians will behave.

So, what has the Scripture taught?  To Timothy himself, through the letters Paul sent him, we have learned that:
                God is righteous. 
That is: His essence is Holiness, His presence is fullness and His business is graciousness.

                We, by declaration are righteous.
That is: While we by nature are fallen, broken and guilty of sin; God by grace has proclaimed that He sees us as if Christ’s righteousness were our own, for it is through faith.

                We are to be, righteous.
That is: At home and at work, in school and on the playground, in our community and congregation we are to be who He has declared us to be.  How?  Love God, love neighbor.  Embrace mercy, act justly, and walk humbly with God.  Be the ambassador of Christ God has called you to be.  And when we fail, for we surely shall, return to our righteous God in repentance and hear again that glorious truth, that you on account of Christ are righteous in the sight of God.

-Pastor Kevin Kritzer

Monday, October 17, 2016

The One Year Bible- October 17th

Today I want to encourage you to keep up the good work and remember that we are almost done with the book of Jeremiah.  After this book we have 14 more books to read in the Old Testament and 8 weeks to do it.  Needless to say the books will be coming fast and furious the last few weeks of the year.  We are in the home stretch, but stay strong.  On to the study…

Seth’s Thoughts

The Old Testament
I hope you have been enjoying digging through Jeremiah and finding the nuggets of grace. There were quite a few this week. We continue to see that even with the oncoming disaster, God has mercy and promises to save the remnant and bring them back. We also read some prophetic words about the Messiah as well, more on that later. There were a few other things that hit me this week and I would like to share. First of all there was mention of the Davidic covenant in a few places this week. We first met this covenant back in 2 Samuel chapter 7. God promised to David that, “Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever” (2 Samuel 7:16 NIV). Now of course you remember that the earthly kings of Israel are long since gone. They were in their twilight in the time of Jeremiah. But this covenant had much more than just earthly meaning. Like many of God’s plans, they are much deeper and more amazing than we think. The true line of David would be fulfilled in the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus was the one who was born of the house and line of David who now sits on the throne of the universe. This is a big deal! Jesus reigns at the right hand of God today!! Even when we think God does not fulfill his promises, we find out that not only is this not true but it is even better than we imagined. Speaking of Jesus, in my digging for nuggets this week I came across a passage in Jeremiah that speaks of the coming Messiah. Chapter 23:5-6 again mentions David’s line as well as a king who will, reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land.(Jeremiah 23:5 NIV). This person is called, “The LORD is our Righteousness.” This is most definitely a reference to Jesus as the Messiah.

In Chapter 30 Jeremiah gives some practical advice to the people. In short, he says for the people to “Bloom where they are planted”, be that in Israel or in exile. He tells the people that the exile will last for 70 years so keep doing what God wants. Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce.  Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper." (Jeremiah 29:5-7 NIV). In this context comes one of the more famous passages from Jeremiah, For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV). I hope I am not sacrificing any sacred cows in your world with my next statements. This passage was not written for us to use at graduations or for people who are going through hard times.  This passage has been pulled out of context so often many have forgotten what it really means. When we look at this verse we have to remember the original context in which it was written. This verse was written to give the people hope in a time of great despair. It was a message of grace in a time of punishment. We must remember that God was talking to a stubborn people who had consistently gone against his will. These people deserved to go into exile. Even in the midst of this, God gives grace and mercy. Now, that being said, can we apply this verse to our lives today? Sure! But don’t forget the original context and remember that we are not living in that same context today. It is a stretch to use only this verse and make major applications to us today.  If you plan on using this verse make sure you put it in context and then related it to the current situation. 

The other big thing in our readings this week is the idea in Chapter 33 about the New Covenant. Remember there was nothing really wrong with the old covenant. It simple, as Jesus summarizes it when he says, “Be perfect”. That’s all, no big deal!! (please sense the sarcasm in my tone.) The Old Covenant was not broken by God, but broken by man and the sinfulness that we bring to the table. We are incapable of following what God desires. This New Covenant was not to be sealed in the blood of animals but in the blood of Jesus Christ. This New Covenant would transcend space and time and even Abraham would live under the New Covenant (even though he never knew it, see the book of Romans)  I would like to spend more time on this but I fear that if I continue I will either confuse you or bore you with the details. If you have questions, please let me know.

The New Testament
I want to take a look at parts of all three letters we have read from this past week.  There is no way to cover all of the material, so if you have any specific questions, please feel free to email me or use the comment section on this blog.

1 Thessalonians
At the beginning of the book, Paul and his companions try to validate their ministry. They do so relying on Jesus and their track record of proclaiming the Good News of Jesus. After getting on some firm ground and giving some positive encouragement, Paul gets to the point. He tells the Thessalonians what will happen when Jesus returns. It will not be some secret event. And all those who have already died in the faith will be raised back to life. It will be a wonderful time. In the mean time Paul has some advice, And we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone. Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else. Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not put out the Spirit's fire; do not treat prophecies with contempt. Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil.” (1 Thessalonians 5:14-22 NIV)

2 Thessalonians
The main thing to remember about this book is to not be idle in your journey of faith. We do not know when Jesus will return so we must keep working so as many people here the message as possible. Paul tells the people not to think that Jesus has already come and they somehow missed it. Paul mentions a character called “the man of lawlessness”. This person is often called the Antichrist. It is the work of the Devil in the world today. Paul says that he is at work right now in the world. He will win some battles but he will be destroyed by the power of Jesus. Paul gives a great word of hope in Chapter 2, So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter. May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.” (2 Thessalonians 2:15-17 NIV). Great words to end on for this book.

1 Timothy
This is Paul’s instruction to young Timothy. There are some great instructions for all who serve in the church in this letter. Paul states his purpose right at the beginning, The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.” (1 Timothy 1:5 NIV) There are many “trustworthy sayings” in this letter that should not be ignored. They all read like little sermons for Timothy. One thing that has caused much confusion is the definitions of what an elder is and what a deacon is. They seem to be quite similar but Paul treats them as two different things. Theologians have spent countless hours trying to figure this one out and we don’t have time to get into all the details but in my humble opinion, both sets of requirements are useful for anyone who does work in the church. They are the standard that we should strive for, but we must remember that forgiveness must fit into this somehow, someway. More about this book next week...

Bits and Pieces

The New Testament
We will finish up 1 Timothy and move on to 2 Timothy this week. Here are the vital stats on 2 Timothy:

PURPOSE: To give final instructions and encouragement to Timothy, pastor of the church at Ephesus
TO WHOM WRITTEN: Timothy, and all Christians everywhere
DATE WRITTEN: About A.D. 66 or 67, from prison in Rome. After a year or two of freedom, Paul was arrested again and executed under Emperor Nero.
SETTING: Paul was virtually alone in prison; only Luke was with him. Paul wrote this letter to pass the torch to the new generation of church leaders. He also asked for visits from his friends and for his scrolls, especially the parchments—possible parts of the Old Testament or other Biblical manuscripts.
KEY VERSE: “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth” (2:15 NIV).
LAW THEMES: Judgment Day; suffering for the Gospel; charges and commands.
GOSPEL THEMES: The appearing of our Savior; sound words of the Gospel; the gift of the Spirit; the good deposit; rescue.
KEY PEOPLE: Paul, Timothy, Luke, Mark, and others.
KEY PLACES: Rome, Ephesus
SPECIAL FEATURES: Because this is Paul’s last letter, it reveals his heart and his priorities—sound doctrine, steadfast faith, confident endurance, and enduring love.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

The Bethany Bullet - Week of October 9, 2016

“Follow the Leader…Lead the Followers…To Share”

Do you get a lot of SPAM?  Now, I’m not talking about canned meat, which I personally think is delicious, but I’m talking about unsolicited messages, those unwanted items in your inbox on the computer.  I seem to get countless offers to refinance my mortgage, get a new credit card, make a donation to a charity, get prescriptions from Canada or even that email from that woman in Kenya who was willing to split her deceased husband’s inheritance with me.  I’m still waiting for the check on that one. 

Email SPAM is the worst.  SPAM filters have to work overtime just to keep up with the latest tricks and hoaxes that people conjure up in order to scam others out of their money.  But try as they might, my email filters let a quite a few suspicious messages past and into my inbox cluttering up an already crowded box.

But this is not a new phenomenon. 

On a May evening in 1864, several British politicians were disturbed by a knock at the door and the delivery of a telegram—a most unusual occurrence at such a late hour. Had war broken out? Had the queen taken ill? They ripped open the envelopes and were surprised to find a message relating not to some national calamity, but to… dentistry. Mr. Gabriel, of 27 Harley Street, advised that his dental practice would be open from 10am to 5pm until October. Infuriated, some of the recipients of this unsolicited message wrote to the Times. “I have never had any dealings with Mr. Gabriel,” thundered one of them, “and beg to know by what right do they disturb me by a telegram which is simply the medium of advertisement?” The Times helpfully reprinted the offending telegram, providing its senders with further free publicity.

And thus, the era of SPAM’ing began, and we have been struggling against it ever since. 
SPAMs cousin the chain letter may be just as bad. 

A typical chain letter consists of a message that attempts to convince the recipient to make a number of copies of the letter and then share and pass them on to as many recipients as possible.
Common methods used in chain letters include emotionally manipulative stories, get-rich-quick pyramid schemes, and the exploitation of superstition to threaten the recipient with bad luck or even physical violence or death if he or she "breaks the chain," refuses to share and adhere to the conditions set out in the letter.

Social media has sped up the proliferation of SPAM and manipulative chain letters.  Have you ever given in to them and shared their contents hoping for financial windfall, divine blessing, or earthly well being?
In our text for today we may just see the original SPAM artist and chain mail perpetrator, the Apostle Paul as he writes to the young pastor Timothy.  From 2 Timothy chapter 2, “Join me in suffering like a good soldier of Christ Jesus…If we endure, we will rule with him.  If we disown him, he will disown us.”  (2 Timothy 2: 3, 12).

These words have been used to manipulate others and to twist and bind the Gospel message, subverting the free grace of God on behalf of Christ and making the message about works and what we do to earn God’s favor. 

I don’t think Paul was saying the Gospel message is conditional but out of context it sure sounds that way. 
People trying to make money on the internet have used this passage as what is called “share bait.”  The goal is to get you to share the post/tweet/picture by playing on your emotions, thus bolstering their numbers and ability to make money with advertisers.

Have you seen it?  Often times it is an image with a picture of Jesus or a cross or something similar.  You are then asked to share it, or comment “Amen” and you will receive a blessing, keep scrolling and you side with Satan himself. 

Often times these words from 2 Timothy accompanies the image, “If we disown him, he will disown us.”  Or even the word’s of Christ himself from Matthew chapter 10, “But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.” (Matthew 10:33)

Have you shared it?  Have you typed “Amen”?  Have you scrolled past it?  I won’t ask for a show of hands.

My friends, this is not how the Gospel works.  This is not at all what Paul had in mind when he was writing these words to Timothy, nor what our Lord desires when it comes to sharing the Gospel message to others. 

Telling others about Jesus is not about manipulation or holding someone hostage with their emotions.  It’s not about a “bait-and-switch” message or a get rich quick scam.  It’s not about the fear of breaking the chain letter or not forwarding the email.  The Gospel is not bound by conditions. It’s really not even about us. 

We don’t share in order to avoid punishment or to earn a place in heaven.  We share because God shared with us first.  He shared His son who lived, died, and rose again, and our Lord freely gives to us what Jesus earned, and he gives it unconditionally, with no strings attached and no actions required. 

Sharing intentionally is about living a life that is saturated by Grace, where each and every step is covered by the all-availing sacrifice of Jesus on the cross and where any effort on our part is nailed to the tree. 

Sharing intentionally is one of the parts of the Bethany Blueprint that may, with the help of God lead others to follow Jesus.  As we follow Jesus, we might just lead others to know Him. 

The most powerful “share bait” is the Gospel itself and sharing intentionally and purposefully can actually be just as easy in real life as in cyber space.

But let’s not just sidestep the tough part of the text.  Now I don’t want to belabor the point but, Scripture is clear that some will disown the Good news of God’s grace.  Those who do stand outside of paradise, cut off from the life of Jesus and dead in their sins. 
These are the ones that need to hear that Jesus loves them, that the grace of God is sufficient and enough to cover them, that in Christ they can find eternal life and continued hope, even through the trials of life.  This is why we are called to share the message of Jesus.

God’s Word of grace is more than enough to bring back even the most egregious sinner and it’s not imprisoned in conditions, but Paul was because of it.  Let’s go back to our text and look at it more closely.

From 2 Timothy, chapter 2 starting at verse 8, “Always think about Jesus Christ.  He was brought back to life and is a descendant of David.  This is the Good News that I tell others.  I’m suffering disgrace for spreading this Good News.  I have even been put into prison like a criminal.  However, God’s word is not imprisoned.  For that reason, I endure everything for the sake of those who have been chosen so that they, too, may receive salvation from Christ Jesus who glory that lasts forever.” (2 Timothy 2:8-10)

For Paul, sharing the Gospel intentionally led him to be bound in chains and in prison.  Not just once, but on multiple occasions.  In the middle of his suffering and his disgrace he keeps his mind on Jesus and yet he knows without a doubt that the message of the gospel is not bound by circumstance or condition.  He says, “God’s Word is not imprisoned.” (2 Timothy 2:9b)

The call to share intentionally is not inspired or driven by guilt.  The call is simply to NOT bind that which is unbound.

God’s Word is unbound, free, not subject to human interference or manipulation.  The writer to the Hebrews said it this way, “God's word is living and active. It is sharper than any two-edged sword and cuts as deep as the place where soul and spirit meet, the place where joints and marrow meet. God's word judges a person's thoughts and intentions.” (Hebrews 4:12)

The attempt to bind the Gospel never promotes it. 

The Gospel message is powerful and can add and multiply believers as it is shared purposefully and intentionally in our lives. 

This is actually a freeing concept. 

Even as we are bound by sin, God’s word is not.  God’s word does not succumb to the whim and fancy of humanity.  As we share the Gospel with others, it is God who does the work.  The Holy Spirit calls people to faith in Jesus who died and rose again and are freed to share intentionally and with a purpose, not to build in us a false pride but to give all glory to God.
Permit me to say, sharing purposefully adds and multiplies. 
That is the new SPAM: 
  • Sharing 
  • Purposefully 
  • Adds and 
  • Multiplies

This is a message I can get behind. 
This is a message we can all share.
This message is not bound!

Sharing intentionally is part of the Bethany Blueprint, and one of the core values we have as a congregation. 

The Holy Spirit uses those gathered in this place to share the love of God and message of Salvation through Jesus Christ with those around us. 

It happens in purposeful ways as we have the courage to step into divinely appointed moments, even to those who have might have denied the Gospel, and share the life changing message and watch how God adds and multiplies His followers through us. 

This new SPAM is not done with malicious intent or for self seeking gain, but to add and multiply the number of those who will gather in the presence of Jesus in heaven for all eternity for Sharing Purposefully Adds and Multiples and on account of what Christ has done for us, we are all called to share intentionally.

-Pastor Seth Moorman

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