Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Bethany Bullet - Week of May 21, 2017

Sermon: “God’s People: Harmony”

“Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another…for to this you have been called.” - 1 Peter 3:8a & 9b

Augustine’s Rule of the Church:
V  In Essentials…Unity
V  In Non-Essentials…Liberty
V  In All Things…Charity which naturally leads to Harmony 

Please join us this Thursday evening for…
Ascension Service this Thursday, May 25 @ 7:00PM 
The stained glass window that one sees when walking into Bethany’s Narthex or leaving the communion rail when inside Bethany’s sanctuary is a depiction of the Ascension event and recalls the words St. Luke penned regarding said event: “At Bethany He blessed them.”

-Pastor Kevin Kritzer

Monday, May 22, 2017

The One Year Bible- May 22nd

In September of 1990 PBS aired the miniseries “The Civil War” by Ken Burns. It was 11 hours in length and an estimated 40 million viewers watched the premiere episode. More people watched the premier episode of “The Civil War”, than just about anything else in prime time in the past 20 years except the Super Bowl. Needless to say, the Ken Burns film was a hit! It is still one of the most popular shows in the history of public television. Why bring this up? Well the story of David and Saul is a story of Civil War. It is a time where brother fought against brother and many died. The events surrounding the end of Saul’s reign and the beginning of David’s are filled with intrigue and action. I am not sure that 40 million people would tune in to watch it as a miniseries but countless millions have read it and have seen the events unfold in the pages of Scripture. At times there are things that we read that don’t seem right. Some of the stories we find in the Bible are disturbing but we must remember that they are still the word of God and we need to dig to try to find what they mean. That is one of the reasons for this study. I hope that you can start to put it all together as you read. Without further ado, on to the study...

Seth’s Thoughts

The Old Testament
The saga of David and Saul continues in our Old Testament readings this week. The story has its climax towards the end of 1 Samuel. I think that David and Saul had a very co-dependent relationship. They both hated and loved each other and this made things very confusing. One moment they want to kill each other, the next they say how much they love and respect one another. We see some interesting things about David’s character in this story too. David is revered as one of the best kings that Israel ever had. But his record is not spotless. In fact he is not the nicest of guys at all. David often took the high road (i.e. not killing Saul in the cave) but equally as often he took the low road (i.e. taking multiple wives and the fiasco with Bathsheba). David is an interesting king for sure. I think that remembering that David took the low road at times is something we cannot forget. Even after all the bad things that he did, God still loved him and promised that his kingdom will last forever in the person of Jesus. A couple of other things from this week that I want to make note of: I have always liked the story of Saul going to see the medium at Endor. For those of you who are fans of the Star Wars movies you would remember that George Lucas called one of the planets in the Star Wars universe by the same name. It was on a moon of Endor that the final battle in “Return of the Jedi” took place. Did George Lucas know his Bible or did someone feed him that name, I don’t know. It is just another example that things from the Bible are everywhere. That story has another point. Saul has lost his trust in God. He seeks the advice of a medium to try to get information. The LORD has left him and is now with David and that makes Saul angry. Finally during a battle Saul is injured and falls on his own sword and dies. It was a bad day for the house of Saul. “So Saul and his three sons and his armor-bearer and all his men died together that same day.” (1 Samuel 31:6 NIV) This starts another Civil War and eventually David becomes king. I find it odd that the first thing that David builds in the new capital of Jerusalem is a palace for himself. He does not build a place for God or for the Ark. We will see why a bit later.

The New Testament
In the story of the death of Lazarus, Jesus says “I am the resurrection and the life.” What a great analogy and given at the right time. It is by the power of Jesus that Lazarus was raised from death to life again. We see a glimpse of the human side of Jesus, showing love in the shortest verse of the bible, “Jesus wept.” (John 11:35) Confirmation students often want this to be their verse given at confirmation since it is so short. I hope no teachers have used it in that context but nonetheless it is still a powerful verse. Jesus shows his emotion and his love for his friend Lazarus, and it is that same love he has for us. He died not only for Lazarus but for us as well. Our resurrection will not be in this world but will be in heaven on the last day. What a great comfort. Jesus shows that love a few verses later when he washes the disciples feet. That was a tender act of love that shows the servant heart of our Lord. Just after this we have another great “I Am”. “I am telling you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe that I am He.” (John 13:19 NIV) This “I Am” statement is a direct pointer to the name Yahweh. Jesus was again telling them who he was and what he was all about. There is a lot more in this section of scripture, but I don’t have the time to dig into all of it. If you have any questions please let me know.

We started reading Psalm 119 this week and I want to make a few comments. First of all, it is the longest Psalm in the Bible; secondly the Psalm is a giant acrostic poem. There are twenty-two stanzas in the Psalm, one for each successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet. Each of the eight verses within each stanza begins with the Hebrew letter named in its heading. So in the first section each line begins with the Hebrew letter “aleph” and so on for each of the 22 letters. Of course, once you translate it you loose this unique structure. This is a common literary form used for Hebrew poetry. When you know some of the structure, you can see more of the beauty of the original.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Bethany Bullet - Week of May 14, 2017

Sermon: “God’s People…Humble”
Text: 1 Peter 2

Here is a video to get started; please click HERE.
*If unable to open link, then copy/paste this into your browser: https://youtu.be/-07_2DWfEmQ

Oh Lord it's hard to be humble
When you're perfect in every way
I can't wait to look in the mirror
Cause I get better looking each day
To know me is to love me
I must be a hell of a man
Oh Lord It's hard to be humble,
But I'm doing the best that I can

Have you heard that song before?  It’s one of those ear worms that I can’t seem to get out of my head. 

The song was written and sung by Mac Davis and released in 1974.  Of course I became aware of the song when Mac Davis was the guest start on the Muppet Show in 1980. (See link above)

Mac Davis was a prolific song writer and wrote many of the hits for Elvis Presley and Nancy Sinatra to name a few. 

Now, I’m not a huge Mac Davis fan, but I could not get that song out of my head this week as I spent time in 1 Peter.

Last week Pastor Kevin started off our time in 1 Peter as we looked at what it means to be God’s People. 
Last week it was Holy, this week it is Humble.

Scripture teaches that we are made holy because of what Christ has done for us! 

Often times though, we find it hard to be humble because our sinful nature believes that this life is all about us. 

Remember what we saw in chapter one, “Be holy, because I am holy” says the Lord.  We have been set free from the sinful life of this world and made holy by the payment of the precious blood of Christ. 

Therefore since we are a chosen people and a royal priesthood and a holy nation we have been called to live that out.

And today we look to 1 Peter Chapter 2.  I’m going to start with verse 21 and I’m reading from God’s Word translation.

“God called you to endure suffering because Christ suffered for you.  He left you an example so that you could follow in his footsteps.  Christ never committed any sin.  He never spoke deceitfully.  Christ never verbally abused those who verbally abused him.  When he suffered, he didn’t make any threats but left everything to the one who judges fairly.  Christ carried our sins in his body on the cross so that freed from our sins, we could live a life that has God’s approval.  His wounds have healed you.  You were like lost sheep.  Now you have come back to the shepherd and bishop of your lives.” (1 Peter 2:21-25)

As God’s people, our lives are not absent of suffering.  Following Christ Jesus comes with picking up a few crosses along the way.

We are able to humbly follow in the footsteps of Jesus only because He went first.

His example is pretty lofty. 
·        He never sinned.
·        He never spoke deceitfully.
·        He never verbally abused others.
·        He didn’t make threats. 
These are the very things that separate us from holy, humble living.

I have sinned, I have spoken deceitfully, I have verbally abused others and I have made threats.  All of this separates me from God. 

Humans, including you and me, often struggle with living humble lives.  As Mac Davis’ song reminds us, we “can’t wait to look in the mirror” because we believe we are “perfect in every way” even as we live lives “…doing the best that we can.”

I hate to break it to you; your best is not good enough.  You may not be as humble as you think. 

Many have heard of Muhammad Ali's boast that in the boxing ring he could "float like a butterfly and sting like a bee". He knew how to brag to psyche out his opponents.  Early in his life his pride was mighty.  But on one particular flight across the country, he says in his book, The Soul of a Butterfly, that the flight attendant asked him to put his seat belt on. He said to her, "Superman don't need no seat belt". She smiled at him and said, 'Superman don't need no plane, either.'"

In the Old Testament book Proverbs, chapter 16, we find a very well known verse.  “Pride precedes a disaster, and an arrogant attitude precedes a fall.”  (Proverbs 16:18)

It was the fall in the garden that got us into this mess and we have been stumbling and bumbling our way through life since. 

But let’s get back to our text from 1 Peter, “He left you an example so that you could follow in his footsteps.” (1 Peter 2:21b)

The life of Jesus is a life of humility.  Jesus came not just as an example; He came as the antidote for your pride. 

Listen to how the Message Translation describes the humility of Christ found in Paul’s letter to the Philippians, the second chapter.

“He [Jesus] had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what.  Not at all.  When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human!  Having become human, he stayed human.  It was an incredibly humbling process.  He didn’t claim special privileges.  Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion.”  (Philippians 2:6-8 The Message)

As God’s holy people, as Easter believers, we look to Christ, we see what He has done in His defeat of death and we find that our shortcomings and our pride are wiped away. Unlike Mac Davis’ song, it’s not about knowing me but to know Jesus is to love Him; He’s the one who keeps us from the fires of hell and in Him we find freedom in the Good News that Christ is Risen! (He is Risen indeed!)

In that freedom, we can live truly humble lives.

Samuel Brengle who was an early Salvation Army official was once introduced as the, “Great and wonderful Dr. Brengle” to a group.  He later wrote in his diary, “If I appear great in their eyes, the Lord is most graciously helping me to see how absolutely nothing I am without Him, and helping me to stay humble in my own eyes. He does use me. But it is not of me the work is done. The axe cannot boast of the trees it has cut down. It could do nothing but for the woodsman. He made it, he sharpened it, and he used it. The moment he throws it aside, it becomes only old iron. O, that I may never lose sight of this.”

May we all strive to be God’s people, holy because of Christ and follow in his footsteps as humble children of God as he uses us each day!  

 -Pastor Seth Moorman

Monday, May 15, 2017

The One Year Bible- May 15th

Tom and Jerry, Super man and Lex Luthor, USC and UCLA, Coke and Pepsi, Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant, APPLE and Microsoft,; these are just a few of the great antagonistic relationships in pop culture. We all know a great rivalry when we see it; you have the “good” guy and the “bad” guy. You have drama, intrigue, verbal exchanges, misunderstandings and bad blood. One of the best rivalries in literature is found in 1 Samuel. We all know about David and Goliath but a much greater story is David versus Saul. This story has more twists and turns than an episode of General Hospital. There is deception and mistrust, attempted murder and slander. But once again it all points to our need for God and salvation through Jesus Christ. Samuel warned the people that having a king would bring hardship and pain but the people insisted on their own way. This story should serve as an example of God’s patience and mercy; for Jesus came to die for Saul and for David and for us as well. In this twisted tale we see David as the good guy but soon he will be the foil in another story unfit for the family channel. The good news is that in his patience God forgives us and loves us, even as we are mired in our own sin. As you read this tragic story, don’t forget that it serves a purpose to point us to Christ. On to the study…

Seth’s Thoughts

The Old Testament
We focused this week on the beginnings of the monarchy in Israel. God had finally allowed an earthy king but He said that it would be filled with some unexpected problems. The people still insisted and there were troubles. Saul was a man who had no equal. He was a head taller than the others and was good looking too.. Samuel reminds the people of what will happen to them under a king and gives them this warning, “But if you still do wickedly, you shall be swept away, you and your king.” (1 Samuel 12:25 ESV) For those of you who remember the story this is exactly what happened. Many generations later the people were taken into exile and swept away. Only a remnant survived. Chapter thirteen begins a regular pattern that we will see when the Kings are discussed. “Saul was thirty years old when he became king, and he reigned for forty-two years.” (1 Samuel 13:1). The Hebrew text is rather vague here. It is unclear as to how old Saul was from this text or exactly how long he reigned (If you are reading the ESV you may have noticed the note in the text describing this). The one thing to note is the pattern. We will see this same pattern when each King is introduced. “X was Y years old when he became king, and he reigned for Z years." Saul seems to be doing OK until he gets a bit impatient. Saul ended up sacrificing a burnt offering himself without Samuel or a priest there, big mistake. Samuel tells Saul how foolish a thing he has done and then he drops the bomb, “But now your kingdom must end, for the LORD has sought out a man after his own heart.” Wasn’t it just a few verses ago that Saul was anointed king? The kingdom talk is about his line or family. And a few chapters later, “So because you have rejected the command of the LORD, he has rejected you as king.” God has decided to have the monarchy go to a different family, because of Saul’s sin. Now Saul will still to be king for a while and God will use him but the days of his kingdom are numbered. This will be different (and I am getting ahead of myself a bit) with David’s kingdom. God will promise that the kingdom of David will last forever. This will come to pass because Jesus will come from the line of David and fulfill this promise, as he is a king today and forever. After Samuel anoints David as the new king, a strange turn of events puts the old king and the new king in close quarters. A tormenting spirit filled Saul with depression and fear and he needed some comfort. The ESV translates it as an “evil” spirit and this is accurate to the Hebrew but we need to understand that this was not “evil” in the sense of being from the devil. Nothing “evil” comes from God. The idea here is that it tormented Saul to the point of frustration. One way that Saul dealt with this is to have music played in his presence. David ends up being the one to play his harp in the king’s presence and to be his armor bearer. This is no coincidence. Saul and David will have a long a tension filled relationship. The best word for it is “DRAMA”. Those of you with teenagers or remember those days know what I mean. Saul acts rather childish and the rest of his life is filled with drama. After the familiar story of David and Goliath we read that Saul and David returns victoriously to Israel and the people chant, “Saul has killed his thousands, and David his ten thousands!” This really gets Saul’s feathers ruffled. “And Saul eyed David from that day on..” (1 Samuel 18:9 ESV) This was the beginning of some violent interactions between David and Saul. I think Saul goes a bit nuts in his obsession with David and even lies on the ground naked all day once. One other great storyline is that of David and Jonathan. They became the closest of friends. They watched out for each other and I believe that their relationship can be a model for us today. Two other things caught my eye in my reading this week. Fist of all when Saul sends his men to David’s house to kill him he escapes and his wife tells them he is sick and in bed. In reality David is not in bed but it is a pillow with goats hair on top. This rouse gave David enough time to escape. Here I thought that the guys who escaped from Alcatraz had a new way of deceiving the guards and David did the same thing years earlier. This coming week we will get a description of the kind of people who were hanging out with David in the caves. The ESV describes them like this, “And everyone who was in distress, and everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was bitter in soul gathered to him. And he became captain over them” (1 Samuel 22:2). Sounds a bit like the “sinners and tax collectors” that Jesus hung around with! It was really just a rag tag bunch of misfits.

The New Testament
John has an amazing way with words, even after it is translated into English. We read the account in chapter eight that is not in many of the Greek manuscripts. Why was it not there? It is hard to be certain, but I love the story that the section contains. The woman who was caught in adultery is guilty. By the law she is condemned to die. It is a powerful scene. Mel Gibson uses this scene in The Passion of the Christ and it is amazing. I wonder what Jesus was writing in dirt. Could it be that he was writing the sins of each of the people who had rocks in their hands? Whatever it was, the people left. I wonder how they felt? Were they convicted of their own sins or were they mad that they did not get to do what they wanted. At any rate it is a great story. Did you notice the “I Am” statements this week? The “I Am” statements in 8:24 & 28 occur in a section where people were trying to figure out who Jesus was. “Listen Up People!!! He is telling YOU!!” When he says “I Am” that is your clue. He says it again in verse 58. I guess I would have to put myself in their position. Would I be able to figure it out? I don’t know. I might be one of those who thought Jesus was a crazy guy. We also read some of the “I Am” metaphors. In chapter 8 Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12 ESV) He uses the same metaphor again in chapter 9:5. The “I Am” statements keep flying out of Jesus’ mouth in. Jesus says “I am the gate” meaning that he is the only way into heaven. There is no other way for salvation. It is by him and through him that we are saved and enter the safety of the heavenly sheep pen. He also says, “I am the good shepherd”. Is he really a good shepherd? He leaves all the other sheep unprotected to look for one lost one. But that is the point. Jesus will do anything, even give up his own life in order to save the sheep. He knows all of the sheep and will sacrifice his life for each and every one of them. Jesus also spends a lot of time trying to show the relationship he has with the father. The disciples just don’t seem to get it. Jesus says that he and the father are one, and that he is doing the work of the father. These statements are found only in John. He uses them to give an analogy for the reader; to help us understand who Jesus is. They are wonderful statements that I am convinced Jesus said. Some believe that John was putting words into Jesus’ mouth in order to make a literary point. I disagree. I think Jesus knew what he was doing when John remembered these statements as he wrote his Gospel.

Bits and Pieces
We will move on to the book of 2 Samuel this week. It is basically the continuation of the same story but here are the vital stats of the book:

PURPOSES: To Record the history of David's reign; to demonstrate effective leadership under God; to reveal that one person can make a difference; to show the personal qualities that please God; the depict David as an ideal leader of an imperfect kingdom, and to foreshadow Christ, who will be the ideal leader of a new and perfect kingdom.
AUTHOR: Unknown; some have suggested that Nathan's son Zabud may have been the author; the book also includes writings from Nathan and Gad
SETTING: The land of Israel under David's rule
LAW THEMES: Barrenness; covetousness; neglect of fatherly duties; unfaithfulness; rejection of God’s rule; failure to keep God’s Word; rash vows; jealousy; divination.
GOSPEL THEMES: The Lord provides leaders; the Lord promises an everlasting kingdom and priesthood; victory in the Lord’s name; godly friendship; blessings through the tabernacle; David’s mercy.
KEY VERSE: "And David knew that the LORD had established him as king over Israel and had exalted his kingdom for the sake of his people Israel" (5:12)
SPECIAL FEATURES: This book was named after the prophet who anointed David and guided him in living for God.

Have a wonderful week!!!

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

The Bethany Bullet - Week of May 7, 2017

If any Christian ever felt they were so far from holiness it certainly could have been the author of the text before us.  “Because God who called you is holy, you be holy in all you do.  For Scripture says, “Be holy, because I am holy.”  I Peter 1:15-16

Peter, after he was commended for receiving and sharing a revelation from heaven, “You are the Christ, Son of the Living God;” was condemned as an incarnation of evil, “get behind me Satan.”  It is one thing to lack piety; it is another to embody the adversary.  

It is equally true that it is one thing to be reprimanded for telling the Lord what to do; it is another to be reminded that you told others you didn’t know Him at all. 

It’s that man, Peter, whom the Lord restored and called to feed His sheep that seeks to feed us today, the menu, a helping of holiness…”He who called you is holy, so be holy.  Be holy for He is holy.” 

Long before the Reformation Peter knew what it was to be a saint and a sinner at the same time. 

Have you ever engage in a round of Simon says that ain’t all fun and games?  By telling God what to do, assume you know what His next step needs to be, demand He not only listen to but comply with your directions?  Did you just get “caught”? 

Simon says, be holy as the Lord your God is holy.  Have you ever engage in Simon says that ain’t all fun and games?  By acting as if you aren’t with Jesus; maybe when in a crowd to save your pride, to keep you from sticking out, to avoid the questions and so you denied or detoured the opportunity to admit you’re with Him.  On occasion, when no one else is around, we’ve all acted as if Jesus wasn’t either and thus our behavior has said, “We are not with Him.”  No denying we are sinner!  Yet, there’s no denying, you are saint!

Your status as sinner is via original disposition; that is you are by nature sinful because of your connection to Adam …& Eve.  This has been validated by your own personal action in thought, word and deed.

Your sainthood (holiness) is via external declaration; that is you are a saint because of your connection to Christ.   This has been verified by God’s own personal action at the font (where His Spirit fell, your sin was forgiven and His Word proclaimed and you were declared to be His beloved child) and at the table (where His promise is kept, His grace is given, and you are fed with the very body and blood of your Savior to be united with Him and declared again to be a saint in Christ.)

Intrinsic is our fallen-ness.  That is, we have proven ourselves to be sinners on account of our behavior.

Forensic is our holiness.  That is, God has proclaimed you to be a saint on account of Christ work & His person.   His perfect and holy life lived for us, His innocent suffering and death on account of us, through faith in these God’s verdict is clear: saint, holy, righteous because of Jesus.

To saints and sinners like us, like himself, Peter says, “because God who called you is holy, you be holy in all you do.  For Scripture says, “be holy, because I am holy.”

We are HOLY on account of Jesus, that is, to His Own Ledger Yoked are we.  His righteousness, purity, perfection…holiness, all credited to us through faith in Him.  Thus we who are holy in Christ are called to be holy.

So we shall to His Own Leading Yield.  His voice is the one to which we will listen.  His strength we will seek to resist temptation.  His Spirit we will be guided by to avoid selfish ambition (see I Peter 1) and we shall for His Own Likeness Yearn.  To love sincerely, to live in harmony as those who reside on earth temporarily, to grow in likeness to Him and be a vessel through which He works in the world (see I Peter 1).

 -Pastor Kevin Kritzer

Monday, May 08, 2017

The One Year Bible- May 8th

Congratulations on finishing more than one-third of the Bible!  I hope the past four months have been a blessing to you because they sure have been good for me.  It was 2005 when I started to read the Bible in a year and I have done it every year since.  It is a big task but one thing that always helps it to celebrate milestones.  So celebrate today as we continue the journey.  On to the study...

Seth’s Thoughts

The Old Testament
The book of Judges ends just as it began, “In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit.” (Judges 21:25 NIV) Remember the point of the book is that God loves his people and will find ways to save them. Even after some good stories, the problems still remain. People still sin, but God still loves them. The book of Ruth comes in next and at first seems a bit out of place. There are a few wonderful gems found in this small book. First of all we have a story of faithfulness. Ruth was faithful to her mother-in-law Naomi. She cared for her and wanted to be with her. On one level Ruth serves as a role model for faithfulness. The other neat thing is this idea of a “kinsman or family redeemer” (Ruth 2:20). In Israel, a kinsman redeemer was a person who would marry a widowed relative so the family land could stay with the family. It was an important position because land was so important to the people. The only way a widow could keep her land and possessions in the family was to be redeemed or bought back by a close relative. This redeemer would pay for the land and then he would be able to claim it as his own. This same idea is brought up again when Jesus is called the Redeemer in the New Testament. Jesus bought us back at the price of his own life so that we might be his own. I hope you see how the Bible is a book with one main story. The last big thing in the book of Ruth is the fact that Ruth and Boaz are the great-grandparents of King David. Genealogies are very important for the Jewish people; we saw that in the Gospels and in Numbers. It is important to note that Ruth was not an Israelite. She was from Moab, but her great-grandson became the most famous King of Israel, not to mention a distant relative to Jesus (See Matthew 1:5).

The book of 1 Samuel begins with the story of his mother Hannah. She was so distraught that she did not have any children. This was a big disgrace to an Israelite. She cried out to God and God heard her prayer. She gave birth to Samuel but gave him up to the Lord. Samuel served the Lord with Eli and one night God called him. Many think it is funny for Samuel to serve with the priests and not know the Lord. Once again we have a language problem here. The word that we translate as “know” has a much greater and deeper connotation than the simple English word. The word means to know intimately, to know everything about someone or something, to have a close and personal relationship with. We find this same word used in the Old Testament for example “Adam knew his wife and she became pregnant.” I am sure that Samuel knew of the Lord, in fact I would guess that he knew some history of the Lord’s action in the world but he really did not “know” the Lord...yet.

Not that we have time here but I just love the story of when the Ark is taken and it is placed in the temple of Dagon. When the citizens of Ashdod went in the temple the next day, their god Dagon had fallen, face down on the floor next to the ark. The next night the image of Dagon gets all broken up. There must have been some sort of fight in the middle of the night. That is a very funny story. Then with the gifts of gold rats and tumors....what a great sense of humor our God has. More about Samuel and Saul next week.

The New Testament
The Gospel of John is a great read. I hope you have seen how it is very different than the other three Gospels. John has a very different writing style and it is evident in his use of the phrase “I Am”. Lets go back to the Old Testament to get some perspective. In Exodus 3 we read about Moses’ encounter with the burning bush. God asks Moses to be his mouthpiece and to lead the people out of slavery in Egypt. Moses doubts that the people will listen to him and he says, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God or your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?” God then says to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM as sent me to you.’” The Hebrew name that was given was YAHWEH. This is God’s personal name. This name was the mark of the one true God; the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Jesus uses this name on several occasions written down by John. Most of the time when Jesus uses this name he does so on purpose and to prove a point. The first is in John 4:26. “Then Jesus declared, ‘I who speak to you am he.’” It is hard to pick out in the NIV but it is there in the Greek. Jesus is talking with the woman at the well and she had just said that she knows that the Messiah is coming. Jesus doesn’t just say that he is the Messiah, he uses the personal name of God to do so! No wonder the woman left her water jar and ran off to tell the others about Jesus. The next time Jesus uses this name is in chapter six. The disciples were out on a boat in the middle of the lake when a storm came up. The wind was blowing, and the waters were rough and the disciples were scared. Jesus comes walking on the water out to them and says, “It is I; don’t be afraid.” Again it is a bit obscure in the NIV but trust me it is in the Greek. Jesus uses the personal name of God. The NLT says, “Don’t be afraid, I am here!” This is a bit clearer. Just a few verses later, Jesus uses the name again. “Then Jesus declared, ‘I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.” (John 6:35) This is the first of the seven “I Am” metaphors in the Gospel of John. It is very interesting that each time Jesus uses the phrase “I Am...” which is also the personal name for God. It is no coincidence that Jesus uses this phrase when talking about himself for he is God in the flesh. We will see these “I Am” statements again (8:12, 8:24, 8:28, 8:58, 10:7, 10:11, 11:25, 14:6, 15:1, 18:5). Look for these as we continue to read. They are so powerful and I will most likely talk about them as they come up again.

Have a great week and let me know if you have any questions.

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