Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The Bethany Bullet - Week of June 25, 2017

Sermon: “Testify”

"Finding someone who would die for a godly person is rare; maybe someone would have enough courage to die for a good person.  God demonstrates His love for us in this, while we were yet sinners Christ died for us."

Rare...but not unknown:  A little more than a month ago several young ladies were being assaulted on a Portland train when three men intervened, and laid down their lives coming to the aid of people they had never meant.

God, in Christ however, intervenes and lays down His life to save the very ones assaulting His will, rule and reign (that's you and me).  Far from good, nowhere near godly, yet in Christ, God dies for you and me that He might declare us both, good and godly, in His sight for the sake of Jesus.

-Pastor Kevin Kritzer

Monday, June 19, 2017

The One Year Bible- June 19th



The NHL and the NBA have crowned their champions, the baseball season is in full swing and World Cup qualifying for soccer is filling up the summer schedule, but the most exciting contest was in our readings this week. Many people in the world live and die through sports.  In most of the world, soccer is like a religion.   National holidays are called to watch a match played half way across the globe. Employers close shop because everyone is fixated on the match. Many become so obsessed that their very existence hinges on the outcome of a game. In 1 Kings we have another contest that captured the attention of a nation. When Elijah challenged the prophets of Baal the nation was transfixed on the outcome. God used this opportunity to remind the people of who God was and that he had complete power. God used this match to bring the focus of the people back to God. We all have times where our focus is not on God. I am reminded of these words from the book of Hebrews, “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2 NIV) I hope your Bible reading helps to focus your eyes on Jesus Christ. On to the study....

Seth’s Thoughts

The Old Testament
The time of the kings was not a glorious time for the people of God. After only three kings (Saul, David, Solomon) the nation divides and there is almost constant war. “There was continual warfare between Rehoboam and Jeroboam.” (1 Kings 14:30 NIV) There was also lots of murder and other vile behavior from both sides. Don’t forget to keep the kingdoms straight in your head as you read. When you read Israel, think northern kingdom ruled from Samaria, and when you read Judah, think southern kingdom ruled from Jerusalem. In this section of scripture every time Israel is mentioned it is always in reference to the northern kingdom and not to all the people. Almost every king we meet is bad and we will read over and over again, “He did evil in the eyes of the LORD and followed in the ways of.........” There are a few exceptions to this. Make sure you spot the good ones and remember what they did. 1 and 2 Kings make mention of a few source materials. The Book of the History of the Kings of Israel, and The Book of the History of the Kings of Judah, have never been found but they are mentioned here. Most kings had a scribe who wrote down everything that happened during their reign. It was a common practice and just because we do not have these books today does not discount the validity of the scriptures. We saw the beginning of the history of bad blood between Jerusalem and Samaria this week. Remember in Jesus time, the Jews hated the Samaritans. The history of this rivalry goes back to the divided kingdom. The Samaritans of Jesus day were a bit different because of the exile and other factors, but this is the beginning. God’s prophet Elijah has a big role in the kingdom of Israel. He spends a lot of time trying to convince the Israelites that they have turned away from YAHWEH. His challenge of the prophets of Baal and the sending of fire to consume the king’s messengers are two big ones. A quick note on the challenge on Mt. Carmel; one thing that makes the scene even more dramatic (if it wasn’t already) is the fact that Baal was the god of the weather and he rode on the clouds. If you remember that right after the challenge on the mountain, Elijah says that it is going to rain and it does, in buckets. That was a big “In Your Face!” to the prophets of Baal. I also like the fact that Elijah was given “super strength” as he ran ahead of Ahab’s chariot. I don’t have time here to talk all about Ahab, but suffice it to say that he was a scumbag. He was terrible and I think his wife was even worse. Most of the kings of Israel will be compared to him and eventually he and his wife will become synonymous with evil. “There was never a man like Ahab, who sold himself to do evil in the eyes of the LORD, urged on by Jezebel his wife.  He behaved in the vilest manner by going after idols, like the Amorites the LORD drove out before Israel.” (1 Kings 21:25-26 NIV)

The New Testament
Many people believe that in the early church Peter did ministry only to the Jews and Paul did ministry only to the Gentiles. But when you start looking at it, it becomes obvious that this was not the case. In Acts 10 Peter clearly is called and sent by God to the house of a Gentile. Not only does God give him a vision that this is OK, Peter also baptizes Cornelius and his family! This is Peter doing ministry to the Gentiles. Peter got into some trouble with this, but he was convinced saying, “Then Peter began to speak: ‘I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right.’” (Acts 10:34-35 NIV) Acts 12:24 marks a transition from Peter’s ministry to Paul’s. Even though Paul is known as an apostle to the Gentiles (he even said it himself) Paul’s first destination when he goes into any town or city is the synagogue. If he is to bring the message to the Gentiles, why start in the synagogue? The quick answer is that Paul had a desire that all come to know Jesus and that all would be saved. He himself was a Jew (and a Pharisee to boot) and his desire was also for his own spiritual family. The standard process for Paul and his companions was this: They would start in the synagogue and would preach with success until they encountered hostility. They would then go out to the streets and find some success until they were persecuted and then they fled the city. (My seminary professor had us memorize this as S.S.Hos.S.S.P.F. which stands for synagogue, success, hostility, streets, success, persecution, fled) So both Peter and Paul brought the message to all people everywhere. One thing that is very interesting to note is the list of early church leaders at the beginning of chapter 13. This was a very multicultural group. From the beginning the church has been multi-lingual and multi-cultural (remember Pentecost?). I think we can learn from this model. If we look to Acts as our guide we need to find ways to break the church away from a mono-cultural Western mindset. (Now I am rambling so I will move on.) One neat thing that we find in Acts is the many Old Testament references. The early church used the Scriptures to help teach the truth of Jesus Christ to those waiting for the Messiah.  We will see even more of this later.

Bits and Pieces

The Old Testament
We will start the book of 2 Kings so here are the vital stats:

PURPOSE: To demonstrate the fate that awaits all who refuse to make God their true leader
AUTHOR: Unknown. Possibly Jeremiah or a group of Prophets
SETTING: The once-united nation of Israel has been divided into two kingdoms, Israel and Judah, for over a century.
KEY VERSES: “The LORD warned Israel and Judah through all his prophets and seers: ‘Turn from your evil ways. Observe my commands and decrees, in accordance wit the entire Law that I commanded your fathers to obey and that I delivered to you through my servants the prophets.’ But they would not listen and were as stiff-necked as their fathers, who did not trust in the LORD their God.” 2 Kings 17:13-14
KEY PEOPLE: Elijah, Elisha, Shunammite woman, Naaman, Jezebel, Jehu, Joash, Hexikiah, Sennacherib, Isaiah, Manasseh, Josiah, Jehoiakim, Zedekiah, Nebuchadnezzar
SPECIAL FEATURES: The 17 prophetic books at the end of the Old Testament give great insights into the time period of 2 Kings.

Have a great week!!!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

The Bethany Bullet - Week of June 11, 2017

Sermon: “God’s Deeds of Power”
Text: Acts 2:1-21 

To hear Pr. Jacob’s message from our Pentecost Sunday Service observed this past Sunday, June 11th, please click HERE to listen to the PODCAST.

If you are unable to open the link then copy/paste this into your browser:


-Pastor Paul Jacob

Monday, June 12, 2017

The One Year Bible- June 12th



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!!

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

The Bethany Bullet -Week of June 4, 2017


"At Bethany He blessed them."
These words, and thus this blessing, took place at Jesus' Ascension.

Jesus' Ascension delivers a Trio of Blessings.  

First, just as Jesus' resurrection assures us that the Father accepts Christ's sacrifice, so the Ascension assures us that we have direct access to God through Christ.

Second, Christ's Ascension makes possible His promise to be with each believer wherever they are.  During His earthly ministry Jesus was in one location at a time.  When He was with Peter, James and John on the mount or in the garden the other disciples were not with Him; thus Jesus was not with them personally. Now Ascended Christ is with each and every disciple no matter where they are.

Third, at His Ascension Jesus fulfills His pledge to send His Spirit. Prior to His Ascension the Spirit, who is and has always been the author of faith and life, dwelt within the community; now following Jesus Ascension the Spirit dwells within each believer individually.

These three gifts we, who call Bethany home, are blessed to remember every time we come to campus and recall the Ascension text that declares, "At Bethany He blessed them."

-Pastor Kevin Kritzer

Monday, June 05, 2017

The One Year Bible- June 5th




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.


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