Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Bethany Bullet Sermon Message - Week of May 13, 2018

Sermon: “A Reason for Hope”
Text: 1 Peter 3:15

Chaplain Ayers reminded us that we are always to be moving forward in faith

Being prepared is always on the minds of our men and women serving so faithfully in our armed forces. Yet as Christians, we know that we are engaged in a spiritual battle daily. We live in the Church militant fighting against evil. In that warfare, Peter reminds us that we also need to be spiritually prepared to give a defense of the hope that is in us, “…in your hearts honor the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you…”  

Your chaplains have answered the call to serve in these unique military institutions for the purpose of providing pastoral care and support to these great Americans who serve in these vocations to defend our freedom to be faithful.

Please continue to pray for our chaplains, military members and families, and veterans.

 -Pastor Kevin Kritzer

Monday, May 14, 2018

The One Year Bible- May 14th

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 08, 2018

The Bethany Bullet Sermon Message - Week of May 6, 2018

Sermon: “LOVED & LOVING: Loving Them Starts with Loving Him!”

Jesus let love be the final word, when just before breathing His last and offering up His spirit He said, “It is Finished.”  Those “three little words” are the clearest proclamation of “I Love You” ever spoken.  No greater love is there than this, that One lays down His life for His friends. 

The words, “It is finished” are a declaration of the love of which John has been describing throughout His epistle.  How true it is that there is nothing you could do to make God love you anymore than He already does – Jesus sacrifice proves the extent of God’s love: Unconditional & Unilateral.

And there is nothing you have ever done that could cause God to love you any less, for in His ultimate demonstration of love, Jesus paid the price for love you lack for Him and neighbor. 

Thus His command that we love one another is a command to do as He has done, and to give as we have received.

The heart of such Christian Love ought to include:

Listening – Listen before you speak, get to know before making something known, desire to hear as much as you desire to share, such is at the heart of Christian love.

Overlooking - To overlook is what the catechism terms, “putting the best construction on all things.”  Before judgment is passed and a verdict rendered, before assumptions are made and conclusions drawn that serve only to demean others determine to put all things in the best possible light.

Valuing – We live in a world of identity overload.  Everyone is put into a category, sometimes of their own choosing, sometimes the survey gives us our options, sometimes society our social media put us where they’ve pigeonholed us, but Christian love must compel us to see each other’s core identity as nothing less than a child of God.  “Whoever loves the father loves his children as well”

Embodying – Christian love is nothing other than the embodiment our Lord Jesus.  “We love because He first loved us and has given us this commandment: whoever loves God must also love God’s children.”

 -Pastor Kevin Kritzer

Monday, May 07, 2018

The One Year Bible- May 7th

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.

Tuesday, May 01, 2018

Bethany Bullet Sermon Message - Week of April 29, 2018

Sermon: "LOVING: Freely and Unconditionally"

For the past few weeks we have been looking at John’s first letter.  If you have been with us you have heard the topic that John takes up in this letter.  He teaches about being loved by God and then in turn loving others.  I would encourage you to catch up on the podcast if you missed the past few weeks.

As we began this series, Pastor Kevin has shared wonderful messages on love and I am sure they were not the first sermons you ever heard on the topic.  So as we turn our attention to chapter 4 of John’s letter we come face to face with the topic of…you guessed it…love. 

So what am I to say that has not already been said?  Now, please do not check out, start making your grocery list or pre-order your brunch in your head, hear me out. 

Love is a slippery little word.  In English we use it for all sorts of things.  I can say that I love Oreo cookies, and I love my wife.  But if I love those cookies the way I love my wife, I should be locked up.  And if I love my wife the way I love those cookies, I’m going to need a marriage counselor. 

Our culture has some pretty interesting ideas about love.  Some of them, I found this week:
  • Love is like an hourglass, with our heart filling up as the brain empties. – Jules Renard
  • Love is an emotion that a woman always feels for a puppy, and sometimes for a man. – George Jean Nathan
  • Love has the power of making you trust what you would normally treat with the deepest suspicion. –Mirabeau
  • Love is the feeling that flatters your ego while it flattens your wallet.
  • If love is blind, how can there be love at first sight?
  • Falling in love is awfully simple, but falling out is simply awful.

What do most of these have in common?  Often times we think of love as being a part of some sort of economic transaction brokered by the mutual affection of two parties. 

Some even think of love as a reward for positive behavior, or good work.

Often times love is just a fleeting feeling. 

These of course are human constructs.  The love that John describes is far different.

Let’s jump into the text for today from 1 John chapter 4, Dear friends, we must love each other because love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born from God and knows God. The person who doesn’t love doesn’t know God, because God is love. God has shown us his love by sending his only Son into the world so that we could have life through him. 10 This is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the payment for our sins. 11 Dear friends, if this is the way God loved us, we must also love each other. 12 No one has ever seen God. If we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us. 13 We know that we live in him and he lives in us because he has given us his Spirit.” (1 John 4-7-12)

As I’m sure many of you know, the New Testament was originally written in Greek.  The Greek language is more precise when it comes to the idea of love.  Greek uses different words for love.  In Greek you would never use the same word describing your love for Oreo’s and your love for your spouse. 

In the last two chapters of the letter John will use the word love 32 times.  Now, not all of them are translated as the English word Love.  But in every instance John uses the Greek word agape.  This word conveys the meaning of unconditional love.  Pastor Kevin spent some time talking about that last week.  We are called to love unconditionally, not just those we like or who think like us, or root for the same teams as we do, or have the same heritage or culture as we do or even the same economic status. 

This past week I was trying to think of an example to help you understand the word agape that you haven’t heard before.  So let me ask you, have you ever been “Rick Rolled?”

Now if you don’t know what that is, let me explain it to you.  It’s a bait and switch gag that people play on the internet.  Someone comes up with some fanciful story, or intriguing article that you just have to click.  Hoping for some amazing new information you rush to follow the link, but instead of a story you are directed to a video of the 1987 hit song “Never Gonna Give You Up” by British pop star Rick Astley.  It can be startling to the system as you were looking for one thing and you get something totally different.  

Here is a link to the video: https://youtu.be/dQw4w9WgXcQ
Here is an example of a Rick Roll Video: https://youtu.be/V-_O7nl0Ii0

Agape love can be like that.  It’s not the love that we are looking for.  We hope for one thing, we might expect it to be like the love we already know, but it is totally different.  I could even say that the words to Rick Astley’s song help us try to understand what agape love is all about.

In the chorus we hear these words,
Never gonna give you up, Never gonna let you down
Never gonna run around and desert you
Never gonna make you cry, Never gonna say goodbye
Never gonna tell a lie and hurt you

In many ways this is like agape love.  It holds no conditions, it seeks another without any reciprocity, it never gives up, it never disappoints, it’s always there, it never damages or leaves or lies, or hurts; this love, as Paul might say, never fails. 

In the translation of our text this morning we see the words “Dear friends”.  This is the noun form of the word agape.  Perhaps you have heard these verses translated using the word “beloved”. 

Every time I think about 1 John 4, I can’t help but think of another song.  Perhaps you could sing along with me, “Beloved, let us love one another, for loves is from God and everyone that loveth is born of God and knoweth God, he that loveth not (clap, clap, clap) knoweth not God for God is love, beloved let us love one another, First John, Four, Seven & Eight (That’s Great!)

Unbelievers look at the world and conclude fairly quickly that God is powerless, mean, or imaginary.

The evidence seems overwhelming.  How can there be a loving God in the presence of cancer, diabetes, pneumonia, war, divorce, rape, addiction, murder, incest, infidelity…

But Christmas, Good Friday, and Easter change everything.

God has in fact prepared the greatest response possible to all human misery—He has provided a way to bring us to live in His eternal presence through Jesus, His beloved Son. 

Its God’s love (the verb) given through His Beloved (the noun).

Listen to Jesus words from John’s Gospel, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13)

Did you catch it?  “Greater love has no ONE than this…”

While we may experience love as an emotion or a verb, Jesus reminds us that is also a noun…a proper noun at that.  He is love!

And because of the divine economic transaction that took place in the incarnation… which had its culmination at Jesus’ execution… and was finally expressed in the resurrection… you are forgiven, set free from sin and granted eternal freedom as the beloved of God! 

“This is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the payment for our sins.”  (1 John 4:10)

And now John reminds us that freedom from sin gives us freedom to serve.

The mercy of God is immeasurable and it is in that mercy that we find motivation to love one another.

You see, love is not supposed to be stagnate or stale.  Love does not find its endpoint inside of us, but it flows through us and continues to have an impact as we love others. 

If we love one another, says John, God’s love is made complete, that is, we are a part of His loving purposes when we, the beloved of God share his love.  Love stimulates more love.

Through our loving, many more become the beloved of God.

In this way hatred is melted, wounds are healed, grudges are forgotten, hope is shared, emptiness filled and loneliness eased in human hearts.

While it is true that no one has ever seen the almighty God face-to-face, we all have experienced firsthand that amazing love of God in Christ Jesus.

God’s Spirit indeed lives in us and comes to us again and again as we encounter God’s Word, when water and Word are joined together as one is called His beloved in baptism.

As the beloved children of God we are freely loved and now we have the freedom to love.  
 -Pastor Seth Moorman

Monday, April 30, 2018

The One Year Bible- April 30th

As you heard me say before, “I love the book of Judges”. I have always thought they should make this into a movie. Who wouldn’t want to see the left handed Ehud taking care of the Eglon who was taking care of business on the “throne”, or Samson killing 1,000 Philistines with the jawbone of a donkey or tying 300 pairs of foxes together, lighting them on fire and setting them loose in the fields? And you can’t forget Gideon and the testing of God and the defeat of the Midionites with just 300 men. Or what about Samson…I think this would be a good task for Peter Jackson of Lord of the Rings fame or maybe even JJ Abrams, but I digress...... On to the study.....

Seth’s Thoughts:

The Old Testament
I hope you are enjoying the book of Judges as much as I am. Some people get depressed when they read the book because it looks as if the people just don’t get it. They always seem to do evil in the eyes of the Lord and they get handed over to some group and they suffer. But I don’t think that is the point. The point of the book is that God takes care of his people. He loves them so much and he will do anything to save them. We still don’t get the point today. Thank God for sending Jesus to save us. 

I want to spend some time talking about Gideon and Samson today. First of all the book of Judges spends more time on these two guys then the others. An angel who seeks him out chooses Gideon. A bit of knowledge would help here. Gideon is hiding. How do I know that? He is in the bottom of a winepress (think big barrel) threshing wheat to hide it from the Midianites. The angel comes to him and calls him a “Mighty Hero”. Of course Gideon tries to talk his way out of it (sounds like Moses). Gideon asks for a sign and he hurries home to get an offering. The angel then burns up the offering and Gideon believes that it was an angel from the Lord. End of story right....not so fast. Gideon seems to be convinced but he tests his appointment two more times with God. Again the point here is not to show how untrusting Gideon was, but to show how patient God is, he patient with us in all things. The rest of the story continues on this theme. God delivers the people with only 300 men so the people would not brag that they did it all themselves. One of the other problems the people get into is that they want an earthly king. They ask Gideon to be their ruler and they have problems. After Gideon died, one of his sons, Abimelech tried to be the king. This only leads to problems because God is the only king the people need. The people lose sight of this and the cycle continues. Eventually God will allow a king but we are getting ahead of ourselves. 

Samson is another judge that makes for good Sunday school stories. His great strength makes him a good hero. But as you read the story you find out that Samson has some personality issues. He has problems with women and his temper (good movie material). Eventually he is humbled and matures and God uses him to exact some judgment on the Philistines. At the center, these stories are about the mercy of God. He continued to show the people mercy when they did not deserve it. He shows it to us today as well.

The New Testament
We finished up the Gospel of Luke with the familiar story of the passion. The one thing that jumped out at me was in chapter 24. Jesus was walking on the road to Emmaus with some of the disciples and Jesus takes them to task about believing that Jesus was the Messiah. Jesus seems a bit impatient but in verse 27 it says, “The Jesus took them through the writings of Moses and all the prophets explaining from all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.”What a great teacher. He knew that they still did not get it but he proceeded to teach them. His patience is amazing. In our readings for May 3rd, Nicodemus comes (at night because he didn’t want others to know he was there) to meet with Jesus. During their discussion Jesus mentions a story from the Old Testament. We read this story back in March. The people did not do what God said and he sent snakes into the camp. Moses made a bronze snake and put it on a pole and the people were saved. Jesus takes this story and gives some new meaning to it. “And as Moses lifted up the bronze snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him will have eternal life.” And right after this is the famous John 3:16. You can’t tell me that the Bible is not one story!! 

Bits And Pieces:
We will finish the book of Judges this week and read whole the book of Ruth. Here are the vital stats for the book of Ruth:
Purpose:To show that the Lord demonstrates His faithfulness by providing for Ruth’s family a redeemer, who secures the heritage among God’s people.
Author:Unknown. Some think it was Samuel, but internal evidence suggest that it was written after Samuel’s death.
Date Written:Sometime after the period of the Judges (1375-1050 B.C.)
Setting:A dark time in Israel’s history when people lived to please themselves, not God.
Law Themes:The frailty of life; God allows suffering; selfish disregard for family.
Gospel Themes:The Lord’s kindness; God welcomes the nations by grace; redemption; inheritance; the genealogy of Jesus, THE Redeemer.
Key Verse:“But Ruth replied, ‘Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.’” (Ruth 1:16)
Key People:Ruth, Naomi, Boaz
Key Places:Moab, Bethlehem

We will also start the book of 1 Samuel. Here are the vital stats for this book:
Purpose:To reveal the Lord’s faithfulness toward Israel in establishing His rule through Samuel, Saul, and David, despite the peoples unfaithfulness.
AuthorMost likely Samuel himself
Setting:The book begins in the days of the judges and describes Israel’s transition from a theocracy (let by God) to a monarchy (led by a king)
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 Verses: “And the LORD told him, ‘Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king....Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will do’”(8:7,9)
Key People: Eli, Hannah, Samuel, Saul, Jonathan, David

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Bethany Bullet Sermon Message - Week of April 22, 2018

Sermon: “LOVED & LOVING: Loving”
YouTube clip: “I’m Loving It”

When “loving” has become the term for identifying our connection to a burger and fries (regardless of how good they are) you know we as a society have clichéd love. Our Lord’s call to love however, oh let’s call it what it is, Our Lord’s command to love is not bumper-sticker behavior.  Let’s make no mistake about it; He has commanded us to love.  “This is His command: to believe in Him and to love one another.”  1 John 3:23

Those words are the summation of the motion John put into place in the 16th verse of the same chapter, “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.  So we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.”  Stop and re-read those words.  Let that sink in for a moment!  Our love for others is not simply to reach the standard of common decency nor merely to the level of culturally expectancy, certainly not to the norm of personal reciprocity; No, we are commanded to love with Christ-like quality.  

Yet He loves everyone!  Though underserved, He loves fully, completely, unconditionally, unilaterally – without expectation for return.  He gives and gives, weeps over, cheers on and picks up over and over again, often only to have His children demean that which is given and demand more, act as if they are owed, harbor anger, dishonor Father, He who became both brother and neighbor in Christ’s incarnation and remain resentful.  It is a painful thing to consider, yet our Loving God still loves and will not stop loving! 

“As He hath so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” 1 John 4:11.  The boundaries of this love are stretched beyond the comfort level.  This love goes beyond recognizing need it aids one in need; this love is not satisfied with speaking platitudes it busies itself with plentitude. This “full supply of love” is loving as we’ve been so loved by God – even when such love is difficult, demeaned, dismissed, dishonored and “undeserved.”

This love is harder to give than one might anticipate or estimate.  Walking beside someone you just as soon kick in the rear is not easy.  Giving more and more time, when you’re running on fumes yourself is tough.  Relieving the load of a weighed down brother when you’re carrying plenty already can be painful; loving as commanded is more difficult than we might anticipate or estimate.  Especially when you consider that this love is not limited to those who are part of the flock. 

Jesus’ words read each Easter VI include these, “I have other sheep of this pen and must bring them in also.”  We too, the flock, like the Shepherd are called to welcome and love those who maybe aren’t like us.  Somewhere a city dwelling vegan has been called to love a field and stream sportsman as a brother, and vice versa.  Somewhere a successful capitalist has been called to love a needy redistributionist as a dear neighbor, and vice versa.  Somewhere King’s fan has been called to love a Golden Knights fan and vice versa.  Recipients of His great love become the proponents of the same, for being loved by Him leads to loving His.   
 -Pastor Kevin Kritzer

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