Tuesday, January 16, 2018

The Bethany Bullet Sermon Message - Week of January 14, 2018

Sermon: “A Voice From Heaven”
Text: Mark 1:11

After a hardy rainstorm filled all the potholes in the streets and alleys, a young mother watched her two little boys playing in the puddle through her kitchen window.

The older of the two, a five-year-old lad, grabbed his sibling by the back of his head and shoved his face into the water hole. As the boy recovered and stood laughing and dripping, the mother runs to the yard in a panic.

"Why on earth did you do that to your little brother?" she says as she shook the older boy in anger. "We were just playing church mommy," he said. "And I was just baptizing him ...in the name of the Father, the Son and in...the hole-he-goes.

All joking aside, this morning (Sunday, January 14th) we commemorate the Baptism of Jesus.  As we do, we also remember that day that heaven opened and we were claimed as beloved children of the King in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.  We will also come forward to tangibly remember that day as we put our hands in the water and remember the work that God did in our lives.

In the spring of 2011, a new reality singing competition burst on to the American television scene.  Following in the footsteps of American Idol and the X-factor, the goal of this new show like the others that came before, was to discover musically talented people bringing them from the realm of obscurity to stardom.

What made this particular show different is that the contestants could only use their voice to impress the judges. 

The show, known simply as The Voice, relied solely on the audible sound to make an impression.  For some their lives were forever changed by what happened on the show. 

The sound of a voice can be powerful, it can illicit emotional reactions from others.  The voice can move people to tears, or motivate them to action. 

It was the voice of God that began life as we know it.  As we read in our first reading, “The earth was formless and empty, and darkness covered the deep water.  The Sprit of God was hovering over the water.  Then God said…”

It was by the voice of God that all things came into existence.  As the Spirit hovered over the water, all of creation, light and life sprang forth. 

I wonder what it sounded like?

This past week I did a very un-scientific survey on Facebook.  I asked who would you cast, living or dead, to play the voice of God? 

I got lots of responses.  Some were obvious, Morgan Freeman, Sidney Poitier, Johnny Cash, Patrick Stewart, Charlton Heston, Burl Ives, Mike Rowe to name a few. 

Some came with a side of funny:
·        James Earl Jones “I am your Heavenly Father!”
·        George Chapman from Monty Python- “Arthur, Arthur, King of the Britons.”
·        Donald Sutherland from The Hunger Games- “And may the Lord be ever in your favor.”
·        Arnold Schwarzenegger- “I’m coming back!”

Others had a more subdued approach suggesting names like Fred Rogers, Tom Hanks, Bob Newhart.

For me, I might pick John Facenda. 

How many of you know the name John Facenda?  If you are a football fan, you know his work.  He was hired in 1966 to narrate an NFL films segment called, “They Call it Pro Football.”

Soon his voice could be heard weekly on television as NFL films brought the action and the beauty to the small screen. 

Facenda narrated many highlight films during his career with NFL Films.  His dulcet baritone was the perfect match for the highly dramatic nature of the footage he narrated, and earned him the nickname "The Voice of God." 

Today we remember the event that took place at the Jordan where a voice from heaven spoke. It was at our Lord’s baptism and in that moment, the true voice of God, the voice that created everything we see, confirmed with power who Jesus was, “You are my Son, whom I love.  I am pleased with you.” (Mark 1:11)

In that moment the entire Trinity was revealed when the Father’s voice declared Jesus to be His beloved Son and the Spirit descended upon him. 

Soon it would be the voice of Jesus proclaiming that Good News of God’s salvation; as He spoke and taught people listened.  His powerful words did miraculous things.  They changed water into wine, healed the sick gave sight to the blind, make the lame walk and raised the dead.  His words are powerful.

I wonder what it sounded like?

It was this Word made flesh whose birth we just celebrated that still comes to us today. 

A few in history have heard the voice of God.  For Moses, God’s voice came as a still small voice. The disciples heard God’s voice as their friend and rabbi called them to become fishers of men.

By the power of the Spirit, the one who hovered over the water at creation, humans were inspired to write down God’s Word.  As prophets and apostles and followers alike followed the inspiration of the Spirit, we too can hear a voice from heaven. 

All too often though, we follow other voices.  The prince of this world, Satan himself tries to lure and entice humanity with sweet and seductive words.  He did so with our first parents, “Did God really say…?” 

Soon humanity fell; sin and death entered the world.  Soon Adam and Eve hear the voice of God calling to them in the cool of the morning, and they were afraid.

Today, a cacophony of voices tries and competes for our attention at times drowning out the voice from heaven.

What voices have you followed?  What voices are in your ears? 

I can only speak for myself, but at times the voice of worldly treasure or earthly pleasure ring loudest in my ears.  I find myself again and again giving in to the temptation of the evil one. 

Take a moment and reminisce over the past week.  How often have you listened to the distracting words of this world, forsaking the voice from heaven?

Was it in the reaction to a loved one, words said in haste that injured or betrayed?  Was it not saying a word when you should have stood up in defense of another?

Where did you once again fall victim to following where you know you shouldn’t have gone. 

It’s been said that science and technology can magnify the human voice enormously, but it cannot do a thing with the voice of conscience. 

Does your conscience betray you?  Do the voices in your head condemn you?  Having a hard time shaking the guilt of your action or inaction?

If so, let me remind you, that a voice from heaven has spoken over you.  For some it was when you first encountered God’s Word and faith was formed.

For many it was on the day of your baptism, heaven opened, and a voice from heaven said, “This is my child, whom I love, I am pleased with you.”

At the moment of your baptism heaven opened and God’s powerful Word was spoken over you.  As the water flowed upon you it had power and brought forgiveness and in that moment you were claimed as a child of God and your sins were washed away. 

It might seem strange to think that ordinary water could do such an extraordinary thing, but listen to how Marin Luther described it. 

“When God said: ‘Let the waters bring forth abundantly’, the water was no longer what is was at first; but now it was full of fish.  Just so Baptism too, is merely water before the Word of God is added to it; it is ordinary water of which a…cook may use for boiling and washing.  However, when the Word of God is pronounced over it, so that Baptism is to be administered in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit it possess the power and might to wash away sin and to save from death.” 

A voice from heaven still speaks to you.  Every time you hear or read God’s Word His voice is heard.  Every time you encounter water you can be reminded of the powerful event where heaven opened, a voice was spoken, and you became His child. 

For me it was the voice of my earthly father as I was brought to the waters of Baptism on May 10, 1970 when I was just 9 days old. 

For some of you it was the voice of Pastor Loesch, or Mueller, or Rutledge, or Kuntz, or Bunnett, or Kritzer, or Moorman, or countless others that God used to bring the saving flood to you. 

If you or someone in your family has not been baptized I encourage you to talk to me, pastor K, or someone else on staff.  If you want more information about Baptism, I invite you to check out the Bethany Facebook page where I posted a video about Baptism.  Feel free to share that with your friends and family as well. 

On this day as we remember the baptism of Jesus, we to seek to listen to that voice from heaven who says to you, “You are my child whom I love, I am pleased with you.”

-Pastor Seth Moorman

Monday, January 15, 2018

The One Year Bible- January 15th

In seminary I took a class called Biblical Theology and Exegesis.  Don’t get too impressed.  I am convinced that theologians want to sound smart, so they use technical names for most of the classes.  For example in Seminary I took:  Hermeneutics, Homiletics, and Old Testament Isagogics.  In regular English that means I took Bible study, preaching, and Old Testament history (I hope I didn’t give away any company secrets).  Anyway, part of Biblical Theology and Exegesis is seeing the whole story of the Bible.  My textbook gave this definition, “Biblical theology is principally concerned with the overall theological message of the whole Bible.  It seeks to understand the various parts in relation to the whole.”  This is exactly what I try to do each week with our studies.  I guess I didn’t even know that I have been teaching a class in Biblical Theology every week on the internet for over five years.  Well, I hope that through these studies you will start to see the whole picture and the overall theme of God’s Word.  At the end of the first chapter of my textbook it says, “The Bible is about humankind falling into sin, and God’s determination to put things right.  It is about salvation, God’s rescue plan for human beings under judgment.  It is about the worship of the one true God and the rejection of the gods that fail.”  Lets all try to keep this in mind as we journey in God’s Word together.

Seth’s Thoughts

Old Testament
The opening stories of the Old Testament revolve around what we call the Patriarchs. This includes Adam, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph. The first week of the year we sped through many generations as well as many years but this week we have been focusing on one family. This family has some issues.  Jacob is encouraged by his mother to pretend to be his brother so that Isaac will give him the family blessing.  If this sounds dysfunctional you are right. We will see plenty of dysfunctional behavior in the Old Testament. Remember the Old Testament is setting the stage for the coming of the Messiah, the one that was to save the people. Just wait until we get into the book of Judges and then we will see some real dysfunctional behavior. That PLR (people, land, relationship) promise that we talked about last week comes back (in whole or in part) quite often.  We saw it multiple times this week.  Each time I read it I put the letters PLR in the margin. I hope you begin to see that this is an important promise. This becomes the foundation for all the other promises that God will make in the Old Testament, including the coming of the Messiah. We read about Jacob and his rather strange relationship with his father-in-law, and then his odd relationship between him and his bickering wives. Once again we see some facets of dysfunctional behavior, but we also see that God will be faithful and keep his promise. The story of Joseph is one of the longest stories in the Old Testament. I will have more to say about this story later. For now be sure to catch all the details and see if they remind you of any other stories in the Bible.  Perhaps some of you are familiar with the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical called Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.  This musical is a pretty faithful rendition of the story and if you get confused you may want to rent the movie version.  It stars Donny Osmond (don’t let that scare you) and has an appearance by Joan Collins (don’t let that scare you either). 

New Testament
In our readings from this week we find that Jesus still continues to teach, and heal and now he is starting to generate some interest. John’s disciples start to question him about things and we get a deeper glimpse into the ministry of Jesus. Chapter 10 has some interesting things to say about going out and speaking about Jesus, but remember that Jesus was speaking to 12 Jewish men in Israel almost 2000 years ago. It can be dangerous to make some one for one comparisons with these teachings and today. One very interesting section in our reading is found in chapter 12:13. Jesus uses some Old Testament stories to bring light to his earthly ministry. He gives us some clues about the end of his earthly ministry as he compares himself to Jonah. This is a fascinating passage for theologians as it sheds light not only on the work of Jesus but also the reason that the book of Jonah is in the Old Testament.  For those of you at Bethany, we will be studying the book of Jonah this Lenten season.  In that study we will explore this relationship ever further. Jesus also says that he is greater than Solomon. This was a big claim because no one was a wise as Solomon especially in the eyes of a Jewish person.  It is also another place that shows the relationship between the Old and New Testaments.

Bits and Pieces
One thing I think I forgot to mention last week. Every time you read the word LORD (in all capitals) in the Old Testament, the translators are saying this is the proper name Yahweh. It is God’s personal name. Remember that Moses is the one writing the first five books and he was the one to whom God revealed that name. So it makes sense that he uses it in his writing. 

Another thing I want to point out to you is the use of names.  Names are important in the Bible.  like I just said above LORD is translated from Yahweh which means “I Am who I Am”.  It sounds rather nebulous to us but how could you try to contain God in a few letters no matter what language it is in.  On to my point, we have seen quite a few names, the names of people and places.  If you are reading through the NIV or the ESV you will notice that every time we encounter a new name there is a footnote.  If you follow those footnotes you will find some more information about the name.  For example, when Isaac was born we read in the footnote that Isaac means “he laughs”.  Some of these names have some theological significance.  The name Jacob means “he grasps the heel” which is an idiom for someone who deceives which is just what he does to his brother twice.  Later in the story we will get to Joshua.  His name means “the LORD saves”.  This is the same name that is translated as Jesus in the New Testament.  Makes sense doesn’t it.  The phrase Jesus Saves is almost redundant.  I will try to point out some of these names when they come up but feel free to follow the footnotes to get some more information.  

That is about all for now, but one word of encouragement. If you get behind in your reading don’t try to catch up all at once. Just double up your readings each day and soon you will be back on track. The other option is to just let some of the readings go, like water under the bridge and just pick up on the current day. Either way you are still in the Word, and that is a good thing. Have a great week and look for a new post next week!!

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

The Bethany Bullet Sermon Message - Week of January 7, 2018

In many Christian communities households mark their doors at Epiphany season with CMB and the date of the New Year.  20 + CMB + 18 for instance.

CMB happens to be the first initials of the names of the Magi according to tradition: Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar.  

CMB also is the acronym of the Latin prayer: Christie Mansionem Benedicat (Christ Bless this House).

"The Magi on coming into the House where the child and his mother Mary were bowed down and worshiped him; and opened their treasures."  (Matt. 2)

The greatest gift in that house was of course the One who received the gifts of the Magi.  

As the Magi entered the house in which Christ dwelt on the first Epiphany, during this Epiphany season I invite you to seek Christ's blessing on you, your family and your home; (whether or not you mark the exterior).

Pray with those who dwell in your home:
"The Magi of old Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar followed the star of God's Son who came to dwell among us.  Christ, bless this house and all who follow you, with whom you promise to remain, throughout the New Year and always.

O God, you revealed your Son to all people by the shining light of a star.  We pray that you bless our home and all who enter here with your gracious presence.  May your love be our inspiration, your wisdom our guide, your truth our light, and your peace our benediction; through Jesus Christ, our Savior and King. Amen."

-Pastor Kevin Kritzer

Monday, January 08, 2018

The One Year Bible- January 8th

We are eight days into the New Year and I hope your reading plan is going well. Each week I will kick off our study with a short thought or some general words of encouragement. This week I want to give you some information about how our weekly studies will be arranged. Each week I will give you my thoughts on the week’s readings. I will not be commenting on all the readings but I will be giving some general comment as well as highlighting specific  passages and trying to make some connections for you. My quotes from the readings will almost always be from the NIV. Please don’t get discouraged if I don’t write about certain parts of the reading. You can always ask me questions via the comment section or by email. If you want some more detailed comment on a particular reading you can visit The One Year Bible Blog (www.oneyearbibleblog.com). I visit this site regularly to get some insight as well.

Each time we start a new book of the Bible I will give you some vital stats for it in the Bits and Pieces section of the post. This will help you get your bearings as you begin to read. The most important thing I will say today is that we must remember the context of what we read. The Bible is a Christ centered book and it tells one overarching story. Try to keep that story in mind as you read. My posts will try to help with that as well. Keep up the good work and be ready to let God lead you as you immerse yourself in His Word. On to the study for today…

Seth’s Thoughts:

The Old Testament
Like any good book the Bible begins with some great storytelling and some drama. The reason for the whole book is right there at the beginning. Because of mans fall and the steadfast love of God, a series of events takes place that will have an impact on the world and all humanity forever. In fact, the first promise of a Savior is found in Genesis. “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel" (Genesis 3:15 NIV). The story of God’s love continues with Noah. God saw how sinful the world had become so, in his love, he destroyed those who disobeyed yet saved Noah and the promise of his love became more fully known. One of the great Old Testament words we see early on in Genesis and will have great meaning later is the word we translate as “remember”. God remembered Noah, he remembered his promises to Abraham; later in our story God will remember his people in Egypt and in exile. He will remember his promise from Genesis and send a savior for the world.

After God dispersed the people at Babel, he called one man, Abraham and gave him a promise. We will come back again and again to this promise. It is a three-fold promise that I like to call the PLR promise. We first see it in Genesis 13, but it will come back over and over again. The promise is that God will make Abraham into a people, a nation set apart, he will give them land, and he will have a relationship with them (PLR = people, land, relationship). This three-fold promise will not be fulfilled in Abraham’s day. The only piece of land he will ever own is a grave. But this promise will be fulfilled as the story continues with the people of Israel under the leadership of Moses and Joshua. It will be expanded in the New Testament era as we are all called to be God’s people, our land is in heaven, and we have a relationship with Jesus because of the empty tomb.

One thing to keep in mind while reading through the Old Testament narrative is that you need to try to keep the characters straight. Think of it like a program at the ballgame or the theatre. If you need to write down the characters and how they are related that might help out. This brings me to my first point about context. If you missed the fact that Lot and Abraham are related, you don’t quite get their relationship. Abraham loves his nephew so much and that relationship enters in to his decision making process.  Also, two times Abraham tells others that Sarah is his sister and at first it looks like he is flat out lying but in Chapter 20 we find the following passage, “Besides, she really is my sister, the daughter of my father though not of my mother; and she became my wife” (Genesis 20:12).  Now this may seem gross or unthinkable to us but remember we need to read this within the cultural context of the day and this sort of thing was O.K.  It can be dangerous to impress our 21st century American culture upon a people and a land far remove in time and place and make judgments.  This sort of thing will come up again and we must place ourselves in the culture of the day to understand.  We don’t have to like it, heck there are a lot of things in the Bible I don’t really like, but it is God’s Word.

The New Testament
The first thing I need to say about reading the Gospels is that they are not always written in chronological order. I hope I am not sacrificing any sacred cows for you with this but it is difficult to put a time line and chronology together when looking closely at the text. For example, in the book of Luke Jesus seems to be jumping all over the place in Nazareth and Judea. One moment he is teaching by the sea of Galilee, the next moment he is in Jerusalem, and then he is back again. Many scholars (and I agree) tend to see the Gospels written from a thematic point of view. They take the stories and events and use them to not only tell the story but to highlight certain events. Taking a look at the Gospel of Matthew we see that it was written to a Jewish audience. How do we know that? First of all Matthew was a Jew so it makes sense to write to an audience that he knew. Secondly, Matthew places the events of Jesus ministry into an order that the Jews would see as very interesting. First of all Matthew tells us that the baby Jesus was taken to Egypt. Right after the family comes back from Egypt, we get the story of the baptism of Jesus then immediately to the desert for 40 days. A Jew of Matthews day would most likely see the connection to the Exodus story of the people coming out from Egypt and going through the waters of the Red Sea and then into the desert for 40 years. It is no coincidence that Matthew uses this series of events to bring a greater meaning to his Gospel to the Jews. A casual, non-Jewish reader might miss this connection. Matthew also leans on many of the Old Testament prophecies that his audience would be well aware (especially in the birth narrative). As you read in Matthew try to remember his audience of the first century and try to see how we can gain even more understanding by studying the book as a whole instead of taking parts out and studying them in isolation.

Bits and Pieces

Last week I gave you some helpful tips as you begin your journey and I want to repeat them here again.  I know that some of you have just started this week and may have missed last weeks post. 

Tips for Comprehension
-Begin your time in prayer and ask God to send His Spirit to guide you as you read.
-Find a place to read that is relatively free of distractions.
-Read the passage aloud and slowly if necessary. The goal is not just to finish, but to understand.
-Make some notes in the Bible and underline key verses. Look back at them later.
-Remember the Bible tells one story. That story is about redemption from Sin by the work of Jesus. Keep that in mind as you read.
-Take your Bible to Church and read along to see what comes before and after.
-Keep a journal about what you read and how it has affected you.
-Memorize key verses.
-Look at a children’s Bible storybook to get a mental image of the stories. This is especially helpful for the Old Testament stories.
-Teach what you have been reading to your children. This will help reinforce the stories for you and introduce them to your children.
-Share what you are reading with coworkers or friends who are not Christians. This can happen especially if you are reading during your lunch hour at work. If they are interested in the Bible point them to 1 John and to Mark.
-Use a daily devotional book (Portals of Prayer, Strength for the Day, etc.) in addition to your reading.
-Look at some Bible maps and get a layout of the land. This is important when talking about events in the Old Testament.
-Don’t worry if you miss a few days. Just double up your readings for a while until you catch up. Don’t try to read it all in one day.
-Some questions to ask as you read: What is the Biblical context of this passage? What is the historical context? Who is speaking and to whom are they speaking? How can I use this information today? Don’t worry if you can’t answer all the questions.

Have a great week and please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.

Monday, January 01, 2018

The One Year Bible- January 1st

Happy New Year!!  Welcome to post #1 for 2018.  For those of you just beginning this journey you are in for a wonderful experience as there is nothing quite like being in God’s Word each and every day of the year.  I welcome back those of you who journeyed with us last year.  The format for this study will be the same as in previous years.  I will try to give you some insights on what you have been reading and try to connect the dots the best I can. Then I will give you some things to look for in the upcoming reading for the week or some bits of information that I think may be interesting.  This format seems to work well and you can always ask questions by commenting on the blog or by sending me an email. 

Hopefully you have purchased a Bible that says “The One Year Bible” on it.  That is the format that we will be using.  You can also find the assigned readings for the day by going to www.oneyearbibleonline.com.  There you can find the readings for each day of the year and you can use your own Bible. 

Each day in The One Year Bible you will find a selection from the Old Testament, one from the New Testament, a portion from the Psalms, and a selection from the book of Proverbs. January begins with Genesis, Matthew, Psalm 1, and Proverbs 1. When the year is over you will have read through the entire Bible and have read Psalms twice.

Getting in the Habit
If you are not in the habit of spending time each day in the Word it may be a struggle at first to find time. You will need to experiment and find a time that works for you. For many people, the morning works best, for others it’s after the kids are in bed. Others find that during lunchtime works well. You may want to divide up the reading and do part in the morning and part at night. It will take about 15 minutes to read through the passages for each day. Regardless of the time, you will need to do what works and then do it every day.

Find a Partner
It is always helpful to find someone who is willing to read with you. You can keep each other accountable and bounce questions off of one another as you read. There will also be a weekly on-line study to help keep you on track and to provide a place for questions and comments. Each week (usually Mondays) a new study will be posted at www.bethanylutheran.blogspot.com.

Tips for Comprehension
-Begin your time in prayer and ask God to send His Spirit to guide you as you read.
-Find a place to read that is relatively free of distractions.
-Read the passage aloud and slowly if necessary. The goal is not just to finish, but to understand.
-Make some notes in the Bible and underline key verses. Look back at them later.
-Remember the Bible tells one story. That story is about redemption from Sin by the work of Jesus. Keep that in mind as you read.
-Take your Bible to Church and read along to see what comes before and after.
-Keep a journal about what you read and how it has affected you.
-Memorize key verses.
-Look at a children’s Bible storybook to get a mental image of the stories. This is especially helpful for the Old Testament stories.
-Teach what you have been reading to your children. This will help reinforce the stories for you and introduce them to your children.
-Share what you are reading with coworkers or friends who are not Christians. This can happen especially if you are reading during your lunch hour at work. If they are interested in the Bible point them to 1 John and to Mark.
-Use a daily devotional book (Portals of Prayer, Strength for the Day, etc.) in addition to your reading.
-Look at some Bible maps and get a layout of the land. This is important when talking about events in the Old Testament.
-Don’t worry if you miss a few days. Just double up your readings for a while until you catch up. Don’t try to read it all in one day.
-Some questions to ask as you read: What is the Biblical context of this passage? What is the historical context? Who is speaking and to whom are they speaking? How can I use this information today? Don’t worry if you can’t answer all the questions.

Some things to help you out:
Here are a few websites that I have run across that help me when I am studying the Scriptures:
biblegatway.com - You can search on words or phrases as well as finding texts here.
www.oneyearbibleonline.com -Forgot The One Year Bible at home or even left it at the office? This site will give you the readings for the day. A great help when you don’t have your Bible with you.
www.oneyearbibleblog.com - Want get some in-depth information for the readings of the day? This is the place. It gives you the readings, some artwork and some commentary specifically on the readings for the day. This is a great site. I almost didn’t want to tell you about it because I get some of my info here.
There is also an app for your iPhone iPad or Android device that will help you.  Just search for “The One Year Bible.”

Seth’s Thoughts

This week I want to give you some of the vital stats for the books that we are starting.  Each time we start a new book I will give you the vital stats to give you a road map of where we are going and to give you some background information that will be helpful in understanding the context and the overall story of the book and how it relates to the rest of Scripture.  Next week I will give you some thoughts to the readings so far and help answer any questions you may have.

The Old Testament starts off in Genesis. Here are the vital stats for the book:

DATE WRITTEN: c. 1446-1406 BC
PURPOSE: To trace the passing of the promise of God’s Savior from generation to generation, to all Israel and to all nations.
KEY PEOPLE: Adam, Eve, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Rebekah, Jacob, Joseph
LAW THEMES: The curse and death that come with sin and disobedience; humankind’s slavery to evil; families divided by sin.
GOSPEL THEMES: The promise of a Savior; God gives blessings, life, and freedom; God’s goodness and covenant promise for the faithful

The New Testament begins with Matthew’s account of the life of Jesus. Here are the vital stats on the book:

AUTHOR: Matthew (also called Levi)
PURPOSE: To proclaim that God’s end-times rule has come in the person and ministry of Jesus Christ.
KEY PEOPLE: Jesus, Mary, Joseph, John the Baptist, the disciples, the religious leaders, Caiaphas, Pliate, Mary Magdalene
KEY PLACES: Bethlehem, Jerusalem, Capernaum, Galilee, Judea
LAW THEMES: God’s rule in judgment; repentance; political and religious opposition; authoritative teaching; confronting a brother who sins.
GOSPEL THEMES: God’s rule in mercy; Baptism; compassion; ransom; Lord’s Supper; forgiving a brother who sins.
SPECIAL FEATURES: Matthew is filled with Messianic language ("Son of David" is used throughout) and Old Testament references (53 quotes and 76 other references). This Gospel was not written as a chronological account; its purpose was to present the clear evidence that Jesus is the Messiah, the Savior.


AUTHORS: David wrote 73 psalms, Asaph wrote 12, the sons of Korah wrote nine, Solomon wrote two, Etan and Moses each wrote one, and 51 are anonymous.
DATE WRITTEN: Between the time of Moses (around 1440 BC) and the Babylonian Captivity (586 BC)
PURPOSE: To express hope in the Lord God for salvation, using prayers and praises spoken by God’s people at the Tabernacle and Temple or by individuals.
LAW THEMES: Persecutors assail God’s people; suffering brought by personal failures; waiting for God’s deliverance; exile in Babylon.
GOSPEL THEMES: The Lord’s saving righteousness and steadfast love; the Lord provides for and protects His people; prophecies of the Messiah, Jesus; God’s gift of life through the Word.
SPECIAL FEATURES: For the most part, the psalms were not intended to be narrations of historical events. However, they often parallel events in history such as David’s flight from Saul and his sin with Bathsheba.


AUTHOR: Solomon wrote or at least compiled most of the book with Lemuel and Agur contributing later sections.
DATE WRITTEN: Early in Solomon’s reign as king (10th Century BC)
PURPOSE: To bestow God’s wisdom.
LAW THEMES: Because foolishness is rebellion against God, fools condemn themselves to destruction; instruction cubs the misdeeds of fools and guides the deeds of the wise.
GOSPEL THEMES: Christ, God’s wisdom, delivers us from self-destruction and brings forth forgiveness.
SPECIAL FEATURES: This is a book of wise sayings, a textbook for teaching people how to live godly lives through the repetition of wise thoughts.  The book uses varied literary forms: poetry, brief parables, pointed questions, and couplets. Other literary devices used in the book include, antithesis, comparison, and personification.

If at any time you have some questions, concerns or just need a pep talk, feel free to contact me, smoorman@bethanylutheran.org, or (562) 421-4711 x. 13. May God richly bless you as you embark on this journey and remember: “All Scripture is god-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” –2 Timothy 3:16-17

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