Friday, June 14, 2019

The One Year Bible- July 29th


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

Seth’s Thoughts

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

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

Bits and Pieces

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

The Bethany Bullet Sermon Message - Week of June 9, 2019


Sermon: “Promise Made…Promise Kept”
Text: Acts 2:1-21

The classic Disney film Beauty and the Beast includes a scene in which the character of Lumiere & Cogsworth coach the Beast on how to court Belle the beauty. Cogsworth’s advice includes, “Flowers, chocolates, promises you don’t intend to keep.” 


All of us have at some point made promises we had every intention of keeping; and most of us have at some point made a promise we had no idea how we’d keep at best or at beastly worst we had no intention of keeping. 

Pentecost is a day of promises made…promises kept!  Through the prophets God promised that He would pour out His Spirit before the great and glorious day of His coming and that all who called on His name would be saved.  Pentecost’s event validate that God’s promises made are promises kept.  Jesus before His Ascension promised the sending of another, the helper, guide, the Counselor.  Pentecost’s event is proof that God’s promises made are promises kept.  Through the apostles God promised that His people would be identified with His mission.  Pentecost’s event, read Peter’s words about the happenings in Acts 2, verify that God’s promises made are promises kept indeed!
-Pr. Kevin Kritzer

Monday, June 10, 2019

The One Year Bible- June 10th


Have you ever read a book and about half way through, not known the main story line? Maybe you missed it, or possible it is not there, but it is never fun reading a book without a point. Some people get that when they read the Bible. For many it seems like a bunch of disconnected stories that do not seem to fit together. One way to see the big picture is to take the time and read through the whole thing. If you are like me, there is no way I could just sit and read the Bible straight through, starting at page one and going to the end. Some people have the ability to read a book in a weekend or even in a day. The only time I have ever done that was for a class. But when you start digging into scripture and the big picture is revealed, the whole Bible starts to make sense. This happened to me a number years ago when I was teaching an Old Testament class. Our textbook was the Bible, and for the first time in my life, it started to make sense. In this weeks readings we have seen some of the connections. Lets look at them today....

Seth’s Thoughts

The Old Testament
This week’s readings had some great connections. The people of Israel now have peace under King Solomon. Things are looking up for the people. The author of 1 Kings gives us a bit of a flashback to Abraham when he writes, “The people of Judah and Israel were as numerous as the sand on the seashore; they ate, they drank and they were happy.” (I Kings 4:20 NIV) The promise that was made to Abraham has come to pass. Solomon then undertakes the building of a permanent home for Yahweh. Solomon sends a message to king Hiram of Tyre to make an order for building supplies. Tyre is in what we call Lebanon today. Tyre had (and still has) a great natural resource in timber. It was the best timber around, and only the best was used for the temple. It took seven years to build the temple. I don’t know if you have been part of a building project, but a seven-year building project must have been stressful. When the day came for the dedication of the Temple the priests were sacrificing away and then they had to stop. “When the priests came out of the Holy Place, a thick cloud filled the Temple of the LORD (remember all caps = Yahweh). The priests could not continue their service because of the cloud, for the glorious presence of the LORD filled the Temple.” All of the promises of God to Abraham had been fulfilled!!! Without studying this beforehand one would not understand the gravity of this time. Remember back when we were reading in Genesis and I mentioned the three fold promise that was given. God promised to make Abraham a great people, to give them land, and to have a relationship with them. All three have now officially come to pass. The people are more numerous then the sand on the seashore, they are living at peace in the land, and Yahweh has come down to have a relationship with them in his earthly home. This is no light matter. Solomon speaks of the PLR promise in his prayer of dedication as well. This is the high point of the Old Testament. At this point all seems to be going well, everyone is happy and prosperous. There was so much gold that silver had no value. I especially like this verse, “The king had a fleet of trading ships at sea along with the ships of Hiram. Once every three years it returned, carrying gold, silver and ivory, and apes and baboons.” (1 Kings 10:22 NIV) Why did Solomon need apes and baboons (or peacocks if you are reading the ESV)? Who knows, but when you have money you will find new things to buy just because you can. But sin is still in the world and bad times are just ahead of the people. Soon after this great event even wise Solomon starts to fall away. His wives and their “gods” start to distract him and the country divided in two. Solomon’s son will not be king over a united kingdom. The LORD will provide consequences for sin. This ushers in a time of great suffering and troubles that will last for many years to come. We also see a new literary pattern when the kings are introduced, “So Solomon did evil in the eyes of the LORD; he did not follow the LORD completely, as David his father had done.” (1 Kings 11:6 NIV) Look for this pattern as we continue to read about the Kings of Israel and Judah. The rest of 1 and 2 Kings will be filled with sin, sin, and more sin. We will see a few bright spots, but it seems now that the promises of God are far from being fulfilled. It may be helpful to read the rest of the Old Testament narrative with this verse in mind, “For no matter how many promises God has made, they are ‘Yes” in Christ.” (2 Corinthians 1:20 NIV) The promise will be fulfilled in Jesus who, as a descendant of David, will sit on his throne forever. This is the fulfillment of the Davidic covenant. Jesus will be the one who will make us his people through his suffering and death, Jesus will give us land in heaven, and he promises to be with us forever.

The New Testament
As we continue in the book of Acts we see that the Word of the Lord continues to grow and spread as the church begins, but there were some rumblings of discontent. The Apostles address this concern and start to delegate some authority. This is a good thing that we can all learn from. One verse really struck me from Chapter 6, “So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith.” (Acts 6:7 NIV) Wow!! Some of the priests hear the Word and become believers of Jesus. That is powerful! The big connection this week to the main story is that of Stephen. He was commissioned to help pass out the food in Jerusalem and there he is preaching the message of Jesus Christ. He gets arrested and then has a marvelous speech. In this speech he mentions the PLR promise that was given to Abraham! How awesome is that? We just heard about it from Solomon and now we hear it from Stephen. His message gave a great summary of the Old Testament and he even mentions David and Solomon and the temple. What a great connection. He goes on to say, “However, the Most High does not live in houses made by men” (Acts 7:48 NIV). Jesus was the temple. He even said so himself, “Jesus said ‘Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days,’” (John 2:19 NIV) Jesus was talking about himself. Stephen becomes a great witness to Jesus and because of his death the word of the Lord was spread. One thing of note here is that there is a Pharisee named Saul who was in favor of killing Stephen. We will meet Saul again in a minute. One of the other people commissioned to pass out food was Philip. We see him later preaching and baptizing, not just passing out food. I think both Stephen and Philip tell us a lot about our vocation. We have been called to do certain things, but we all still preach, teach, and share Christ every day in every way. We saw the spread of the Gospel to Samaria in chapter 8 when Peter and John travel up to bring the Holy Spirit. This is a big deal because any good Jew hates anything Samaritan. Both Peter and John not only go to Samaria to see what was going on, but they also stopped and preached the Good news at many Samaritan villages. Philips meeting with the Ethiopian brings the message to Gentiles!! This is the beginning of something big. At the end of our readings we see this Saul character again. He was one bad dude. He hated the believers of the way and would do anything to stop them. But God had other plans. He called him on the road to Damascus and changed his life forever. We will spend more time talking about Saul (a.k.a. Paul, his Greek name) later. One quick thing: God does not change his name, he just goes by Saul when he is with Hebrew speakers and Paul when he is with Greek speakers, but more on him later.

Have a great week!!

Wednesday, June 05, 2019

Bethany Bullet Sermon Message - Week of June 2, 2019


When we return to the sanctuary (later this summer) we will be greeted by the stained glass window of Jesus’ Ascension with the words of St. Luke that chronicled the event, “At Bethany He Blessed Them.”

Indeed the Lord has, is and shall continue blessing at Bethany.  The Ascension of our Lord promises multiple blessings. 

First, Jesus’ Ascension enables Him to make and keep His promise to be with us always.  Wherever we are, He is there!  Had Jesus remained on earth and continued His earthly ministry His presence would have been, as it was, found in one place.  Like the Greeks in John 12 we would need to seek Jesus out in order to come into His company.  However, as the Ascended Lord, Jesus is now with His own wherever they are.  Of course Jesus is not only with us, He is also with His Father, serving as our defender and commend’er. 

The second blessing of His Ascension is His service before the Father on our behalf as our advocate, great high priest and the One through whom our prayers are heard and for whose sake they are answered; in accordance with God’s wisdom and will. 

The third blessing of Jesus’ Ascension is His sending of the Spirit (the 3rd person of the Trinity).  Jesus promised this gift prior to His return to the Father, “I will not leave you as orphans…if I go I will send the counselor.”   The Ascended Lord, who is ever with us, sends us His Spirit as well; to lead and guide, empower and enable us to continue our Lord’s work and carry out His Gospel mission till He returns again.

-Pr. Kevin Kritzer

Monday, June 03, 2019

The One Year Bible- June 3rd


June gloom is officially here. For those of us in southern California we know this all too well. Most mornings are gloomy and overcast. It is a strange thing for newcomers to the area to wake up expecting the sun and getting clouds every day. I kind of like this time of year; the Jacarandas are in bloom, the mornings are overcast, school is almost over; it is just a nice time of the year for me. Others don’t like this time of year. It is stressful with the kids being home, its overcast every morning, you still have to go to work even in the summer months, and it’s not that fun. I think we go through these seasons in our Christian lives too. At times things are going well and at others nothing seems to work out. There are seasons in the life of Christ as well. He started his ministry and things seemed to be going well, he was gaining popularity, healing the sick, giving sight to the blind, etc. Then he makes his way into Jerusalem where he suffers and dies. The difference here is that it was love that motivated Jesus. It was his love that drove him to the cross. It was his love that broke the chains of death and the power of the devil so we can one day be with him forever in paradise. This is some good news. That will be a great day. No more tears or sadness, no more schoolwork to do, no more work at the office in the summer. This is the reason Jesus came. One day we will all have the ultimate vacation and freedom in heaven. Enough of my rambling.....on to the Study.

Seth’s Thoughts

The Old Testament
I am not sure what has happened to the writer of 2nd Samuel. I seemed to notice that the flow of the story was much more difficult to follow this week. It could have been me, but it is true that the literary structure of this book is nowhere near that of the books of Moses. Once again the main point of the story is that problems abound in the house of David. His son Absalom leads a revolt and it does not end well. There were plenty of guts spilling on the ground this week. There were a bunch of murders and stories of warriors. I did find it interesting that there was a guy with six fingers and six toes on each hand (2 Sam. 21:20). That was pretty cool. As the book of 1 Kings opens we see a struggle for power. What usually happened at the end of the reign of a King is that there was a power struggle. Many of the sons would claim the right to be the king. When one obtained the dominant position, he usually tried to kill all the other sons. This is what was going on here. Adonijah and Solomon have a problem with who will be the next king, and true to the house of David, Solomon orders the execution of Adonijah. Even king David from his deathbed orders for the death of one of his enemies. This is the family of the promised Messiah? This is the line of the savior of the world? It just goes to show that God loves us so much and he desires that we are all saved. He loves us so much that even to this sinful family will come the long awaited Christ, the Son of the Most High God. A member of this horrible family will fulfill the promise given to Abraham long ago. God’s mercy endures forever.

On another note I found it interesting that we read of the “mighty men” of David. These were the four warriors that helped David in his battles with Saul and with the surrounding nations. There was also a list of “the thirty”. These guys were almost as good as the “mighty men” but not quite. After reading this in the Old Testament (June 4th) I found an interesting parallel in the reading from Acts from the same day. In Peter’s Pentecost sermon he says, “Men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs...” (Acts 2:22 ESV). If you are reading another version you might not see the word “mighty” but the ESV uses the word. Peter then goes on to quote from David. Was Peter making a reference that Jesus is now the mightiest of the mighty men? I have not done the digging necessary to find out if others think this but it was interesting that we read both of these on the same day this week. Just some food for thought.

The New Testament
There are some great things to talk about from our New Testament readings. The days after the resurrection were filled with sightings of Jesus. We don’t get all the details of the events but I like to think this was a time of joy and preparation; joy for the disciples, knowing the truth of the Messiah and preparation for the work that was to come. We don’t get to hear everything from the mouth of Jesus but when we get into Acts I think we start to hear what Jesus was telling them in his last days on earth. But even with all of this, the disciples still have their problems and doubts. Thomas struggles with not seeing the risen Lord with his own eyes, but when he does he has one of the greatest statements of faith, “My Lord and my God!” If we all could be so bold to shout this with Thomas. John tells us in chapter 20 the reason for his Gospel, “But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” (John 20:31 NIV) One other thing in John that astounds me is that we only get a glimpse of the ministry of Jesus. John tells us, “Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.” (John 21:25 NIV) I am excited to get to heaven and find out the other things that Jesus said and did. A few amazing things happened the first few days of the Christian Church. Can you imagine 3,000 baptisms in one day?? Where would this take place? I had wondered that for years and recently I heard a reasonable explanation. Just outside of the temple was a place where the Jews could wash and become ritually clean before they entered. This was a large complex of pools and basins just south of the entrance to the temple. One of my seminary professors showed us pictures from this location and by seeing it, it would be easy to baptize many people all in one day. This may or may not be true, but it does make sense. We have already seen the disciples get in trouble for their message but the Lord helps them. This will continue throughout the book. More about the book of Acts next week.

Bits and Pieces

Just a few things here for you: First of all if you are reading from the ESV (English Standard Version) this year you may have noticed a new word that pops up now and again. The word is Sheol. The NIV usually translates this word as “the grave”, “the depths”, “the pit” etc. This, indeed is a word that means the place where God is not. The Old Testament writers usually do not develop the idea of hell very far mostly because any place without God would be horrible. The word Sheol is Hebrew and has packaged within it not only a view of what we term hell but also the whole idea of separation from God and all of his benefits (love, mercy, grace, etc.). This is indeed a bad place.

One other interesting thing to note is an idiom that the Hebrew’s use for the anger and wrath of Yahweh. Some of this idiom comes out in translation. When the writers of the Old Testament wanted to describe God’s anger they focused on the face of God and talked about his nostrils flaring or burning (2 Samuel 22:8-9). This meant you were ticked off. There is a related phrase that does not usually get translated it literally says that Yahweh was “long of nose”. This meant that he was patient, loving, gracious, etc. The two phrases are not actual opposites, just a way in which the language was used to try to describe an indescribable God.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

The Bethany Bullet Sermon Message - Week of May 26, 2019


Sermon: “Dying for Those Who Live: Living for He Who Died”       

"He (Jesus) died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for Him who died for them and was raised to life again" - II Corinthians 5

If you explore #iliveforthis you'll see images of: exotic traveling and kitchen table game playing, family and frivolity, baseball, brunch and bass fishing.

We live, mercifully, thankfully, abundantly and eternally BECAUSE of His cross and empty tomb and so In response to His perfect living, innocent, sacrificial dying and victorious rising for us, at Bethany #weliveforthis - Christ crucified and risen!

That is why - we Worship Faithfully (because we live for this), we Form Spiritually (because we live for this), we Serve Passionately (because we live for this), we Share Intentionally (because we live for this), and we Give Proportionately (because we live for this).


#weliveforthis
-Pr. Kevin Kritzer

Monday, May 27, 2019

The One Year Bible- May 27th


At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I want to remind you today of the main purpose of reading the entire Bible. The Bible has one story and that is about Jesus Christ. There are many, many detours along the way but in some way shape or form the message stays the same. Why bring this up now? First of all we need to be constantly reminded of the reasons to read and study God’s word. Secondly, in today’s study I make some direct references to Jesus in the Old Testament story of David. There is an old adage that says, “Keep the main thing the main thing”. We need to do that with the Bible at all times. That is not to say we need to press every word and make them proclaim Christ but the overarching story is the story of Salvation, which has its completion in the person and work of Jesus. Here is a quote from a great book:

“At the heart of all doctrine is the biblical truth that we are justified by grace through faith in Christ alone. All other teachings relate to this one. God has revealed his truth to us so that we will know and receive salvation in Christ Jesus. All other doctrines prepare for this, reveal this, convey the benefits of Christ to us, and respond to his gracious work. His saving work is the very heart of Scripture and of all true theology.” (p. 22, Called to Believe, Teach and Confess, Edited by Steven Mueller)

Do not forget to keep Christ in mind as you read all parts of the Bible. On to the study...

Seth’s Thoughts

The Old Testament
The over arching theme for this week in the life of David is once again DRAMA!! That guy is just a lightning rod for trouble. He never seems to catch a break, and when he thinks things are going well, he does something stupid and gets himself into trouble (sounds a bit like us doesn’t it??). The prophet Nathan is there to try to keep the king in line, but he is not always successful. We do catch a glimpse of the good side of David in his dealings with Jonathan’s son Mephibosheth. David loved Jonathan and he missed his best friend very much. David found out about Mephibosheth and wanted to show him kindness. Now Mephibosheth was crippled and needed help. If David is a type (remember typology) of Christ, as some theologians suggest, then the relationship that David has with Mephibosheth is similar to our relationship with Christ. He seeks us out to show kindness to us and we are the crippled ones in need of help. Because of the kindness of David, Mephibosheth eats at the banquet table of the king. The same will happen for us one day; we will eat at the heavenly banquet table prepared for us.

The rest of the story could be the plot of a bad Lifetime movie or a daily Soap Opera. We have incest and rape, rebellion and fornication, murder and treason. Hollywood does not have to look far to find some shady storylines. I think one of the overlooked points of the story is that because of sin there will be consequences. David sinned when he had an affair with Bathsheba. He sinned when he had Uriah killed. These were just a few of the sins of David. Nathan comes to confront David and David realizes his sin and asks for forgiveness. This is the occasion when David penned Psalm 51. If you don’t remember it, look it up right now and read it before you continue on with the study..... seriously........read the Psalm.................O.K. now that you are back you read that David asked for forgiveness and God has promised to forgive those who repent and ask for forgiveness. So, David is a forgiven man but why do all these bad things still happen to him? Well there was a little caveat from the Lord, “This is what the LORD says: 'Out of your own household I am going to bring calamity upon you. Before your very eyes I will take your wives and give them to one who is close to you, and he will lie with your wives in broad daylight. (which happens later in the story, YUCK!).... But because by doing this you have made the enemies of the LORD show utter contempt, the son born to you will die’” (2 Samuel 12:11, 14 NIV) There are consequences for sin. We should not fool ourselves in believing that just because we are forgiven, our lives will be without problems. We will constantly struggle with sin and its consequences until the day we are taken to heaven.

The New Testament
Two things to highlight this week; first of all, Jesus spends a lot of time talking about sending the comforter or advocate after he leaves. This is a direct reference to the Holy Spirit. Since we just celebrated Pentecost, now is a good time to dig a bit deeper with what this all means. The Greek word is parakletos. In my Greek dictionary I found this definition:

Summoned, called to one's side, esp. called to one's aid, one who pleads another's cause before a judge, a pleader, counsel for defense, legal assistant, an advocate, one who pleads another's cause with one, an intercessor, of Christ in his exaltation at God's right hand, pleading with God the Father for the pardon of our sins , in the widest sense, a helper, succourer, aider, assistant, of the Holy Spirit destined to take the place of Christ with the apostles (after his ascension to the Father), to lead them to a deeper knowledge of the gospel truth, and give them divine strength needed to enable them to undergo trials and persecutions on behalf of the divine kingdom.

This is a pretty deep word and John is the only New Testament writer who uses it. You might be familiar with the Latin version of this word, paraclete. There is a Catholic high school in Lancaster by that name and it is the preferred word in a Catholic Bible. Jesus spends a lot of time with this word because when he is gone, he wants to assure His disciples (and us too) that we are being looked after. This is a source of comfort for us.

Second thing this week is the continuation of the “I Am” statements. I hope you are not getting sick of reading about these, but I find them so fascinating. The big one comes when Judas brings the guards into the garden to arrest Jesus. Jesus asks them who they are looking for and they tell him that they are looking for Jesus. And then he drops the bomb.......”I AM he” and note what happens next, “When Jesus said, "I am he," they drew back and fell to the ground.” (John 18:6 NIV) Why did they fall on the ground? What was the reason? It could only be that they were taken aback by the power of the name of Yahweh. And they retreated in respect of at least the name and possibly the person speaking. Jesus says it three times (most likely symbolic by John), and then all heck breaks out. Peter cuts off an ear. Another follower (possibly Mark) runs away naked....it is just a mess. It is interesting that John does not record that Jesus healed Malchus, the high priests slave. I am not sure why but the scene moves quickly to the high priest. We finished up with the passion of Jesus and his death on the cross. We have been over the big issues of this part of the story before, but if you have any questions please let me know.

One thing I want you to look for this week. When Jesus says, “It is finished” from the cross he uses a word that has a meaning of completing the goal. Not the end of something but the completion of a task. Jesus reached the goal of atoning for our sins with his death. His resurrection is then proof of his power. I know that is sort of a tease but this word is the climax of the salvation story.

Bits and Pieces

The Old Testament
We will be finishing up the book of 2 Samuel this week, move into the book of 1 Kings and we will see the end of David’s reign and beginning of Solomon’s reign. Here are the vital stats for 1 Kings:

PURPOSE: To show that the Lord of history executes the threats and keeps the promises of His holy covenant.
AUTHOR: Unknown. Possibly Jeremiah or a group of prophets
SETTING: The once great nation of Israel turned into a land divided, not only physically but also spiritually.
KEY VERSE: “As for you, if you walk before me in integrity of heart and uprightness, as David your father did, and do all I command and observe my decrees and laws, I will establish your royal throne over Israel forever, as I promised David your father when I said ‘You shall never fail to have a man on the throne of Israel’” (9:4,5)
LAW THEMES: The Lord condemns the evil deeds of Israelite and Judean kings who violate the covenant, especially by instituting idolatry.
GOSPEL THEMES: The Lord establishes David’s household through Solomon’s line, from which would come the Messiah’s everlasting kingdom; promised mercies are delivered through the temple services.
KEY PEOPLE: David, Solomon, Rehoboam, Jeroboam, Elijah, Ahab, Jezebel
SPECIAL FEATURE: The books of 1 and 2 Kings were originally one book

The New Testament
We will also be finishing the Gospel of John and we will get into the book of Acts. Here are the vital stats for the book:

PURPOSE: To link the Gospel of Jesus and the service of the 12 apostles with the missionary work of the apostle Paul.
AUTHOR: Luke (a Gentile physician)
TO WHOM WRITTEN: Theophilus and all lovers of God
DATE WRITTEN: Between 63 and 70
SETTING: Acts is the connecting link between Christ’s live and the life of the church, between the Gospels and the Letters.
KEY VERSE: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judean and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (1:8).
LAW THEMES: Kingdom of God; way of God; call to bear witness; repentance; devotion to the Law; turn to God; call to preach; condemnation of lying; magic; simony; and superstition; resisting the Spirit; persecution; generosity urged.
GOSPEL THEMES: Kingdom of God; way of God; God’s promises fulfilled; resurrection; filled with the Spirit; salvation; Jesus’ name; forgiveness; fear of God; grace; Gospel proclamation.
KEY PEOPLE: Peter, John, James, Stephen, Philip, Paul, Barnabas, Cornelius, James (Jesus’ brother), Timothy, Lydia, Silas, Titus, Apollos, Agabus, Ananias, Felix, Festus, Agrippa, Luke
KEY PLACES: Jerusalem, Samaria, Lydda, Joppa, Antioch, Cyprus, Pisidian Antioch, Iconium, Lystra, Derbe, Philippi, Thessalonica, Berea, Athens, Corinth, Ephesus, Caesarea, Malta, Rome
SPECIAL FEATURE: Acts is a sequel to the Gospel of Luke. Because Acts ends so abruptly, Luke may have planned to write a third book, continuing the story.




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