Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The Bethany Bullet Sermon Message - Week of August 13, 2017

Sermon: “Your Own Two Feet”

Romans 10:14 & 17 GOD’S WORD Translation (GW)

14 But how can people call on him if they have not believed in him? How can they believe in him if they have not heard his message? How can they hear if no one tells the Good News?

 

17 So faith comes from hearing the message, and the message that is heard is what Christ spoke.

For Lutheran confirmation students this text is one that connects with their memory work from the Apostles Creed.  Luther’s meaning of the 3rd article, “I believe that I cannot believe by my own reason or strength in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Spirit has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the truth faith…”  

Faith is the work of God’s Spirit. 

How is it that the Spirit works such faith?  Paul answers that question, “Faith comes from hearing the word of the Lord.”
 
Of course, that naturally begs another question (or two).  How do those who do not have their hands on a Bible or their rumps in a pew hear The Word?  Paul answers that question as well, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” 

That Word of the Lord we hear after having had the Scriptures in our hands or our rumps in the pews is not a Word to simply be kept by us; it is a Word to be shared that the Spirit might call, enlighten, and sanctify others even as He has called, enlightened, and sanctified the entire church on earth.

-Pastor Kevin Kritzer

Monday, August 14, 2017

The One Year Bible- August 14th



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 08, 2017

The Bethany Bullet Sermon Message - Week of August 6, 2017

Sermon: “To Tell the Truth”
Text: Romans 9:1

“As a Christian, I’m telling the truth.  I’m not lying.  The Holy Spirit along with my own thoughts, supports me in this.”  (Romans 9:1)

This is how Paul begins the 9th chapter of his letter to the Romans.  So far in this letter, Paul has laid out the case that humanity is filled with sin and cannot free itself.  He has also testified to the answer to the problem of sin in the person and work of Jesus Christ on the cross and now he appeals to the readers of his letter and to us today that his words are not some fanciful delusion or some hope filled desire.

He says that he is telling the truth.  His account of Jesus who died and rose again and is filled with grace and mercy…it’s all true. 

Many of you know that I am a huge Star Wars fan.  In the first Star Wars film, also known as Episode 4: A New Hope, the space smuggler Han Solo in conversation with Luke Skywalker about the Force says, “Kid, I've flown from one side of this galaxy to the other, and I've seen a lot of strange stuff, but I've never seen *anything* to make me believe that there's one all-powerful Force controlling everything. 'Cause no mystical energy field controls *my* destiny. It's all a lot of simple tricks and nonsense.”  

In Episode 7, The Force Awakens there is an interesting scene that takes place as new characters Rey and Fin run into Han Solo aboard his star ship the Millennium Falcon.  Han Solo, once the doubter of the Force now believes.  As Rey asks about Luke Skywalker and the Jedi Knights, he says, “The crazy thing is…it’s true…all of it!”

Now I realize that is a Hollywood movie and not reality.  While I may invoke the willing suspension of disbelief and give in to the force while wielding my light saber in my office, (and yes I do that every once in a while) I know that it’s just a movie.

We do live in a world that struggles with the truth.  You don’t have to look too far to find stories of fact checking or fake news.

It seems that everybody wants to believe in their own thing.  Some will even say that truth is just relative. 
Richard Whatley, archbishop of Dublin in the late 19th century once wrote, “Everyone wishes to have truth on his side, but not everyone wishes to be on the side of truth.”

Here in his letter to the Romans, Paul pauses to make his plea, I’m telling the truth.  I’m not lying.”  (Romans 9:1)

How often do you tell the truth?

It is said that “The truth cannot be told without words, but lies can be told in silence.”

What was Paul talking about when he wrote, “I’m telling the truth”?  Just flip back over the previous parts of the letter.

From Chapter 1-“God’s anger is revealed from heaven against every ungodly and immoral thing people do as they try to suppress the truth by their immoral living.” (v. 18) “These people have exchanged God’s truth for a lie.  So they have become ungodly and serve what is created rather than the Creator.” (v. 25)

From Chapter 2 “But he will bring anger and fury on those who, in selfish pride, refuse to believe the truth and follow what is wrong.” (v. 8)

From Chapter 3 “For all have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory.” (v. 23)

From Chapter 6-“The wages of sin is death.” (v. 23)

And From Chapter 7 “What miserable people we are!” (v. 24)

You want the truth?  Do you think you are entitled to answers? 

Well, in the words of Colonel Nathan Jessup, played by Jack Nicholson in the movie A Few Good Men, “You can’t handle the truth!”

You are a poor miserable sinner and there is nothing you can do about it.  That is the truth!

If you are like me, you’ve tried to hide it, tried to deny it.  You’ve tried to fix it or forget about it.  We are not truth tellers.  We use our words to get us out of trouble but get stuck in a web of lies.

The inconvenient truth is that you have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.  Your punishment?  Death!

But Paul does not leave us without hope.  He does not abandon us to the grave.  He points us to Christ. 

So if you are troubled by your sin, hear the words of Christ Himself:
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.  My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.  You know the way to the place where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:1-6)

Jesus is the truth that Paul is talking about!

You might not be able to handle the truth, but the truth can handle you!  Jesus the way, the truth, and the life can handle your sin, he can handle your sorrow, he can handle your doubt and your disease, your fears and your failures and He nailed them to the cross so that you could be His.

There is only one truth, one reality, namely the truth embodied in Jesus Christ. 

As the Word from eternity, He created all that we see. 

As the one sent from the Father, He came to restore the truth of God’s love and salvation for us all. 

As the way, the truth and the life, He came to bring us into God’s kingdom and to send us His Spirit of truth to keep us in His way.

In Christ you are forgiven!  That is the truth!

Listen to the truth that Paul tells at the end of chapter 8 in his letter to the Romans. 
“What can we say about all of this? If God is for us, who can be against us? God didn’t spare his own Son but handed him over to death for all of us. So he will also give us everything along with him.  Who will accuse those whom God has chosen? God has approved of them.  Who will condemn them? Christ has died, and more importantly, he was brought back to life. Christ is in the honored position—the one next to God the Father on the heavenly throne. Christ also intercedes for us.  What will separate us from the love Christ has for us? Can trouble, distress, persecution, hunger, nakedness, danger, or violent death separate us from his love?  As Scripture says:

“We are being killed all day long because of you. We are thought of as sheep to be slaughtered.”

 The one who loves us gives us an overwhelming victory in all these difficulties.  I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love which Christ Jesus our Lord shows us. We can’t be separated by death or life, by angels or rulers, by anything in the present or anything in the future, by forces or powers in the world above or in the world below, or by anything else in creation.” (Romans 8:31-39)

That is the truth, and in that truth we find freedom; freedom from the shackles of sin and freedom in Christ alone! He is the truth that handles us.

-Pastor Seth Moorman

Monday, August 07, 2017

The One Year Bible- August 7th



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.

Monday, July 31, 2017

The One Year Bible- July 31st



Can you believe that July is almost over?  Where has the summer gone?  I hope the busy summer had not got the best of you and your time with God’s Word.  Don’t worry if it has.  Like I have said before, when you get behind (and you will get behind) just try to read two days worth each day until you catch up, or if you would like, you can just pick up the readings on the day you begin again and try to catch the readings you missed next time.  Either way, it is important not to beat yourself up over missing the readings or to get so frustrated that you give up.  Keep up the hard work and let me know how I can help.  On to the study…

Seth’s Thoughts

The Old Testament
This section of 2 Chronicles spent a lot of time listing the various kings, how long they reigned, what they did, etc.. Some kings were good and some were bad. One character that is important in this section is Isaiah. We will be spending quite a bit of time with Isaiah a bit later in the year but try to remember that this is his context: near the end of the kingdom of Judah. We will see some of these stories again when we are in Isaiah. One king to focus on is Hezekiah. He was only 25 when he started his reign and he immediately went to work. The first thing he did was to reopen the Temple. The Temple had become a place for various idols and the worship of false God’s. By reading this section, it is obvious that the Temple was a mess. It took 7 guys 16 days to clean it. If it takes me more than two days to clean my garage, I get a bit upset. At least there was some good motivation for getting the job done. After the job of restoring the Temple was done, it was time to celebrate. For the first time in a while, the people celebrated Passover. Hezekiah did a good job of getting the people back on track. Some Bible scholars think that God was getting his people ready for the exile that was to come soon. With the work of Hezekiah, the remnant would be prepared to return and rebuild the temple. There will be one great story of grace and mercy coming up on August 2nd.  In that reading we heard that king Manasseh did evil in the eyes of the LORD. God even audibly spoke to him but he did not listen. The Assyrian army took Manasseh prisoner, pierced his nose (to mark him as a slave), bound him in chains, and took him to Babylon. While in Babylon, Manasseh realized that he was in trouble and he prayed to YAHWEH, who was moved by his prayer and had mercy on him. Manasseh was brought back to Jerusalem because of God’s mercy. “Then Manasseh knew that the LORD is God.” (2 Chronicles 33:13b NIV).  God’s mercy sure is awesome! 

The New Testament
In our readings from Romans we read these wonderful words from Paul, "
How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!(Romans 10:15b NIV) Paul continues a few verses later by saying that “Faith comes from hearing”. It is not any action that we do, or any magic pill. Faith is a gift of God. It comes in hearing the message of Salvation from Jesus Christ. I had a seminary professor who told us that when his kids were born, the first thing he did was to whisper into their ears that Jesus loved them. I had never thought of doing this before. We also read about one of the great analogies about being in the family of faith. Paul says that the Gentiles (which includes me) have been grafted into the family and now receive all the benefits of being part of the whole. We are now full partners in the blessings of Abraham as we live connected to God’s special olive tree. Paul then moves on to talk about being living sacrifices. This seems contradictory but in view of God’s mercy we offer everything we have to God as an offering to him. This becomes a part of our worship life. Paul then moves to the body analogy. It is not the only place Paul uses this but the point is that we are all part of one body. We are all connected in Christ.
Psalms
Psalm 22 is known as a Messianic Psalm. Jesus quotes from this Psalm when he is on the cross. Go back and read verses 14 to 18 and think about the story of Jesus on the cross.  We also read the 23rd Psalm which is one of the most well known of all the psalms.  I really like the NLT translation of verse 6, “Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life.”  What a great image, the love of God pursues us!  It does not just follow us, but is actively seeking us out, even in our sinfulness.

Bits and Pieces

The Old Testament
We will finish the book of 2 Chronicles this week and start the book of Ezra. A lot of time will have passed between these two books. We will see the downfall of Judah and their exile to Babylon. If you are dying to know what happens there you can read the book of Daniel. Ezra begins the story of the return of the exiles back to the promised land. This promised “remnant” will provide the opportunity for the fulfillment of Messianic prophecy with the birth of Jesus. Here are the vital stats for the book of Ezra:

PURPOSE: To show the Judeans how God controls the nations of the earth for His saving purposes.
AUTHOR: Not stated but probably Ezra
DATE WRITTEN: Around 450 B.C. recording events from about 538-450 B.C.
SETTING: Ezra follows 2 Chronicles as a history of the Jewish people, recording their return to the land after the captivity.
KEY VERSES: “So the Israelites who had returned from exile ate it [the Passover], together with all who had separated themselves from the unclean practices of their Gentile neighbors in order to seek the LORD, the God of Israel. For seven days they celebrated with joy, the feast of unleavened bread, because the LORD had filled them with joy by changing the attitude of the king of Assyria, so that he assisted them in the work on the house of God, the God of Israel.” Ezra 6:21-22
LAW THEMES: Exile due to sin, persecution, broken faith by illegal marriages
GOSPEL THEMES: God fulfills His promise of mercy, God providence in restoring the temple and its sacrifices of atonement, the hand of God guides history for the sake of His people, the remnant restored.
KEY PEOPLE: Cyrus, Zerubbabel, Haggai, Zechariah, Darius, Artaxerxes I, Ezra
KEY PLACES: Babylon, Jerusalem
SPECIAL FEATURES: Ezra and Nehemiah were one book in the Hebrew Bible, and, with Esther, they comprise the post-captivity historical books. The post-captivity prophetic books are Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi. Haggai and Zechariah both prophesy during the period of the reconstruction.

The New Testament
The book of Romans comes to a close this week with some greetings to some people in Rome. Our journey with Paul will continue with the letters to the Corinthians. Along with Romans, these letters give a good taste of Paul’s theology. Paul wrote these letters to a church that was having some problems. We will spend time with these issues because many are the same that we face today. Here are the vital stats for the book:

PURPOSE: To identify problems in the Corinthian church, to offer solutions, and to teach the believers how to live for Christ in a corrupt society.
AUTHOR: Paul
TO WHOM WRITTEN: The church in Corinth and Christians everywhere
DATE WRITTEN: About A.D. 55, near the end of Paul’s three year ministry in Ephesus, during his third missionary journey.
KEY VERSE: “ I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought.” 1 Corinthians 1:10
LAW THEMES: Rebukes against divisions, foolish human wisdom, struggles with sexual immorality, idolatry, and spiritual pride; the Lord’s Supper abused; doubting the resurrection.
GOSPEL THEMES: Saved by Christ crucified; God’s wisdom in Christ; the Spirit’s work; Gospel ministry through the apostles; sanctified through Baptism; God’s unity; the Lord’s Supper; resurrection hope.
KEY PEOPLE: Paul, Timothy, members of Chloe’s household.
KEY PLACES: Worship meetings in Corinth
SPECIAL FEATURES: This is a strong, straightforward letter.


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