Wednesday, March 29, 2006

The One Year Bible- March 29, 2006

As some of you know this is my second attempt at writing this study this week. The first one was lost to the gremlins wearing Microsoft T-shirts inside my computer. Oh could be worse....

When I was a freshman in High School I tried out for the basketball team. I look back on it now and think about how risky that was to my self-esteem. I came from a small Lutheran school with 14 people in my class and was attending a large public high school where I was one in a thousand. Amazingly I made the team and ended up playing all four years. During that time I had some great coaches and I heard my share of pre-game talks and half time rants. I learned a lot during those years and one thing I learned was that a coach can motivate you to do some hard things. A good coach can get you to do what you would never do on your own. It was during these years I felt the calling of God to be a teacher and a coach (I guess being a pastor is like being a coach and a teacher at the same time). When we look at the book of Deuteronomy I like to think of it as a motivational speech from a great coach. Moses gave this speech to the people of Israel right before they were to enter the Promised Land. Moses himself was not going to be with them. They would have to do it without him and he needed to give them some instructions and some warnings. I like to keep this thought of a coach in mind as I read Deuteronomy.

Where We Have Been

The Old Testament
Last week I told you I would give you the vital statistics for Deuteronomy so here goes:

Purpose: To remind the people of what God had done and encourage them to rededicate their lives to him

Author: Moses (except for the final summary which may have been written by Joshua)

To Whom Written: Israel (the new generation entering the promised land)

Setting: The east side of the Jordan River, in view of Canaan

Key Verse: “Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments. (7:9)

Key People: Moses and Joshua

Like a great coach Moses stands at edge of the promised land, knowing that he will not enter but desiring success and prosperity of his team and he gives a great pre-game speech. He reminds the people of how they got there and how it was because God was gracious. He tells them what they were doing wrong as well, namely complaining. Remember that most of the people he is speaking to were born in the wilderness or don’t remember Egypt. Moses needs to start from scratch with many of them. He enumerates the acts of God and what God has done for the people. He restates the rules for their lives as he goes through the “10 words”. Remember that the first word is a strong message of gospel, “I am the LORD your God, who rescued you from the land of Egypt, the place of your slavery” (5:6 NLT). He wants them to remember these words and to live their lives by them. He then tells them to teach all these things to their children. Following that is one of the most famous prayers in all of Judaism. It is called the Shema, “Hear, O Israel: the LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength” (6:4-5 NIV). For more information about the Shema click here. Then Moses goes on to give the people some specific directions and warnings. He tells them that they must destroy completely the people that live in Canaan. No one must be left standing. God will assure their victory, but they must follow his guidelines. The people must also not get involved with any idol worship or any of the gods that they might find in the land. These things will be a problem for the people. I don’t know if this was prophetic foreshadowing but the people do not follow through on either one. These two issues will continue to haunt the people the rest of their time in the Promised Land (some might say it still haunts the people to this day). Think about these things as you read the rest of the story.

The New Testament
We continue our journey in Luke and there are some amazing passages from this past week’s readings. I like the quote from Jesus, “Healthy people do not need a doctor—sick people do.” We are all definitely sick because of sin. We are all in need of a doctor and the great physician, Jesus himself is there for us. You may have wondered about this “Son of Man” reference that Jesus keeps making reference to. I could write a book about it but the short answer is that he is most likely making reference to Daniel 7 where a “son of man” comes in glory from the clouds to rule. This was what Jesus was on earth to do. I will try to remember to talk about that when we get into Daniel (in November). Jesus’ teachings on loving your enemies should make us all a bit uncomfortable. Do we really have to love them? Remember that because of sin we are enemies of God. He still loved us so much that he sent Jesus to die in our place for us. How many of you would die for your friends let alone your enemies. Just amazing. To a Jew the heart was the center of the emotions, as well as all reason and intellect. When Jesus talks about the good things and the evil things that come from our hearts would really hit home. He is not just talking about emotions here. This is the whole shootin’ match. What you say flows from what is in your heart. So that begs the question, what is in your heart? Is it sin or is it love. If it is sin how can you get rid of it? If it is love, how did it get there? The only way the sin will be removed is through what Jesus did for us. Because of his death he has removed that sin and has put in it’s place love. “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19).

Where We Are Going

The Old Testament
Moses will continue his speech. Keep this context in mind as you read

The New Testament
Coming up we will see a parable (the Good Samaritan), some miracles (healing a dead girl a woman and a boy), Jesus sending out the twelve and the seventy-two, the Transfiguration, and other stories that paint the picture of Jesus as the Messiah.

Key Verses
Luke 5:31
Luke 6:5
Deuteronomy 3:22
Luke 6:27-36
Deuteronomy 4:2
Deuteronomy 4:31
Deuteronomy 4:39
Luke 6:45
Deuteronomy 6:4-9 (The Shema)

Have a wonderful week!!

I love computers...really I do. But every once in a while they make life more difficult. Today is one of those days. As I went to save this weeks "One Year Bible" study my computer freaked out and I lost the whole thing. So I will be re-writing it later today. I am just taking it as God's way of teaching a lesson. Maybe it is for me to be patient or just to wait for a new insight that he will give me. Whatever the case, I haven't forgot...just delayed. I hope to post it be the end of the day.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

The One Year Bible: March 22, 2006

For many years I have retreated to the Psalms when things are tough. I also find myself in the Psalms when things are going well. The Psalms have been a source of strength and encouragement for me for quite some time. It started when I was in high school. I have never been an avid reader and Bible reading was no exception. But when some tough things happened in my life, I went to the Bible for some help. I started reading the Psalms and soon came to realize that many of the words have been put to music. This should no be a big surprise since the book of Psalms was the hymnbook for the people of Israel. It has been used in worship for thousands of years. The first time I heard the Psalms in a new setting was from the Irish rock band U2. They worked the words of Psalm 40 into a tune simply called “40”. When I first heard it I though it sounded familiar. I did some research and found out that three of the members of U2 were (and still are) strong Christians. This gave me some comfort that it was O.K. to be a follower of Christ. When all of my friends were doing other things I still went to church. Recently I have been listening to a Christian band called Third Day. They have a song titled “Your Love Oh Lord” based on Psalm 57. I was reminded of this song this week as we read this Psalm and I want to share part of this Psalm with you as we begin our study:

I will praise you O Lord among the nations;
I will sing of you among the peoples.
For great is your love, reaching to the heavens;
Your faithfulness reaches to the skies.

Be exalted, O God, above the heavens;
Let your glory be over all the earth.

I think this is a great way to begin our study today, remembering that we have a loving and faithful God who is worthy of our praise and worship.

Where We Have Been

The Old Testament
Numbers is a strange book. It combines the narrative with some rules and regulations and then the “numbers” of counting and census taking. It can be hard to keep track of the story. I found myself turning back the pages a few day to remember what we read (this is not such a bad idea to do once in a while). A few things stuck out for me this week. We have discussed the story of Baalam a bit but as I was studying the book of Revelation, this story comes up again. I don’t know how much you know about the book of Revelation (and we don’t have time here to discuss in detail) but at the beginning of the book, Jesus gives John a message for seven churches. One of the letters warns of holding to the teaching of Baalam. This is the only place in the New Testament that makes reference to this story. Remember that Baalam knew about Yahweh but he took money from king Balak to give a curse against the people of Israel. Baalam gave in to the money and compromised his faith for the sake of material gain. I think that many in our world have compromised their faith or their beliefs for monetary gain as well. We outwardly worship the Lord but our hearts lust after wealth. This is the main message of the story. This lesson is important enough for Jesus to mention it in the book of Revelation. Baalam ends up dying at the hands of the Israelites a few chapters later (31:8). Another amazing event takes place in chapter 31. As the Lord commands the people to take revenge on the Midianites, they completely destroy them with the Lord’s help. This is amazing in and of itself but what really got to me was the fact that when the generals and captains gave a report to Moses they said, “We, your servants, have accounted for all the men who went out to battle under our command; not one of us is missing!” (31:49 NLT) How amazing is that!!! They go to battle and no one is killed?? No friendly fire, no accidents, not even one lost battle. This should have been a sign to the people to trust in God, but as we shall see, the people will start to trust in themselves and not in God and things go wrong. As the people are on the edge of the Promised Land, they get a command from God, “When you cross the Jordan River into the land of Canaan, you must drive out all the people living there. You must destroy all their carved and molted images and demolish all their pagan shrines....But if you fail to drive out the people who live in the land, those who remain will be like splinters in your eyes and thorns in your sides. They will harass you in the land where you live. And I will do to you what I had planned to do to them.” We will see that this is one of the main problems for the Israelites in the Promised Land. God told them what to do and they didn’t quite get the job done.

The New Testament
Luke is a great storyteller. He weaves a wonderful story together. This week I was reminded of a few things that Luke tells us about. First of all the three “songs” in the beginning of the book; Mary’s song (from last weeks readings), Zechariah’s song and Simeon’s song. All three of them are wonderful examples of praising God. Mary gives glory to God for the gift she has been given, Zechariah praises God for his mercy, and Simeon thanks God for the fulfillment of his promises through the Christ Child. If you grew up in a Lutheran Church that used the old 1941 hymnal you probably know Simeon’s song by heart. I love that song. I will admit as a child I liked that song because that meant the service was almost over, but as I grew older that song and the words had an impact on me. Those of you who know the tune can sing along:

Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace
according to Thy word,
For mine eyes have seen Thy Salvation:
which Thou hast prepared before the face of all people.
A light to lighten the Gentiles
and the Glory of Thy people Israel.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son
and to the Holy Ghost;
As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be
world without end AMEN.

After his baptism and a list of his earthly ancestors, Jesus’ ministry begins in earnest. He first is tempted in the desert and rejected in Nazareth. I could just imagine the scene in the synagogue where Jesus gets up to read for the service and at the end hearing him say “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” I think that would be one of the most exciting times for those who believed that the Messiah was coming soon. Was this guy the one that was promised? Could he be the Messiah that we have been waiting for? Can we like Simeon, now die in peace? For some this guy was a blasphemer and a troublemaker. I hope I would know that this is the Christ the son of the living God.

Where We Are Going

The Old Testament
We will be starting the book of Deuteronomy this week. I will give you more details next week. It will seem like things are being repeated, and they are. This book was written just before Moses dies and Moses retells the story for all to hear and remember, but more about that next week. For now remember that Moses is talking to a group of people who do not remember Egypt or what happened there. Most of them were born in the wilderness and they need a bit of a history lesson before they go into the Promised Land.

The New Testament
Jesus begins to teach his disciples and gives them some tough lessons in the blessings and woes section of chapter 6. He has quite a lot to say to them to prepare them for the ministry they would soon have. We will also see some miracles of Jesus. As you read look for stories that are unique to Luke. We will talk about some of them in the coming weeks.

Key Verses
Psalm 61:1-2
Psalm 62:7-8
Luke 2:1-35

Have a wonderful week!! Let me know if you have questions.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

The One Year Bible- March 15, 2006

Lent is nearly half over and our study of spiritual disciplines continues in Wednesday worship. I feel that daily Bible reading is a discipline that has lasting impact in our lives. Through these disciplines, the Holy Spirit forms us and makes us the person we are meant to be. It is hard work but God has promised to be with us always and by his strength we will succeed. I am reminded of the verse we started with back in January, “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

On to the study...

Where We Have Been

The Old Testament
The continued theme of the Old Testament is that of complaining. In Numbers Ch. 11 we see some complaining of the people. Their first complaint resulted in God sending a fire to destroy the people. Moses prayed to God and the fire left. One verse later the people start complaining again! Now they want meat. They were sick of this manna stuff and they longed to be back in Egypt. Moses even gets agitated with the people. But God, in his mercy, gives them meat to eat. So much meat that they get sick of it. Moses selects 12 men to go into the Promised Land to check it out and when the return, 10 of the men say that Israel should not go in because the people are giants. Only Joshua and Caleb give a true account. They trust in God’s promises. So the people started complaining again. They even wanted to kill Caleb and Joshua. God gets fed up with this group and tells them that none of them will even enter the Promised Land. Chapter 16 tells the story of the rebellion of Korah. This story serves as a lesson to all those who do not trust God. All those who followed Korah were either killed by fire or swallowed up by the earth. Then God wants to destroy all the people, but God in his mercy hears the cry of his people and spares them. (Do you see a theme here?) Surely this will put an end to the complaining. But as soon as they run out of water they rebel again. But God in his mercy hears the cry of his people and provides for them. This time Moses gets into trouble by not giving credit to God for providing the water from the rock and he finds out that he will not enter the Promised Land. So the people start complaining again in Chapter 21. So God sends snakes to kill the people. But God in his mercy, hears their cries for help. He tells Moses to put a snake on a pole and those who look at it will live. Some Bible scholars see this as foreshadowing of Christ, because those who look upon Jesus (on a pole a.k.a. the cross) will be saved. Our readings for this week ended with the people looking for safe passage through some of the lands near Canaan. They get themselves into trouble by trying to fight when God said not to. Then we read about Baalam. This is a story that tells about the power of God. Baalam knows the true God, but was not always faithful. Kink Balak wants Baalam to curse the people but Baalam will not because the Lord (Yahweh) is with them. God also shows his power by making Baalam’s donkey talk. God will use any means necessary to get his message across.

The New Testament
We finished up Mark’s Gospel and it was a quick journey. It is believed that Mark was the first account of Jesus that was written. And it ends just as it begins, with action. In quick succession we have the Last Supper, the time in the garden, the trial, the crucifixion, the resurrection, and Mark’s version of the Great Commission. Like Matthew, Mark mentions the Temple curtain being torn in two. This was very significant. Remember from our readings in the Old Testament that there was a curtain that separated the holy place from the most holy place and that only the high priest could enter it and then only once a year on the Day of Atonement. When that curtain tore, it showed that we no longer need a human person to go to God for us. Jesus has restored our relationship with the father and now we can approach him because of Christ. The book of Hebrews really drives this point home. It is also interesting that Matthew, Mark, and Luke all say that it tore from top to bottom. Thus signifying this was from God. We also started Luke’s Gospel which is the educated mans Gospel. Matthew was written for the Jews, Mark for the common man and Luke is for those who studied. Luke was a companion of Paul and spent years interviewing eyewitnesses of Jesus Christ. He probably spent time with Matthew and with Mark which explains why many things are repeated in Luke. Luke was a physician who had gone to school for many years. He was fluent in Greek and the Greek of Luke is some of the most polished in all the New Testament. Here are the Vital Stats on the Book:

Purpose: To present an accurate account of the life of Christ and the present Christ as the prefedt human and Savior

Author: Luke—a doctor (Colossians 4:14), a Greek and Gentile Christian. He is the only known Gentile author in the New Testament. Luke was a close friend and companion of Paul. He also wrote Acts, and the two books go together.

To Whom Written: Theophilus (“one who loves God”), Gentiles, and people everywhere

Date Written: About A.D. 60

Setting: Luke wrote from Rome or possible from Caesarea

Key Verses: “Jesus said to him, ‘Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost’” (19:9-10)

Key People: Jesus, Elizabeth, Zechariah, John the Baptist, Mary, the disciples, Herod the Great, Pilate, Mary Magdalene

Key Places: Bethlehem, Galilee, Judea, Jerusalem

Special Features: This is the most comprehensive Gospel. The general vocabulary and diction show that the author was educated. He makes frequent references to illnesses and diagnoses. Luke stresses Jesus’ relationship with people; emphasizes prayer, miracles, and angels; records inspired hymns of praise; and gives a prominent place to women. Most of 9:51 to 18:35 is not found in any other Gospel.

Where We Are Going

The Old Testament
We will finish up with Baalam and his oracles. Then we will read about another census for the people. A few more regulations will be discussed and then Moses will get a peek into the Promised Land before he dies. Chapters 28 & 29 describe the offerings and the feasts that the people are supposed to remember for all times. The people then get some vengeance on the Midianites and get to take some of the spoils of that event. We will talk more about the righteousness of war later. Before the people cross the Jordan the tribes of Gad and Reuben decide that they will stay on this side of the river. Chapter 33 gives an account of where the people have been as they were in the wilderness for 40 years and the regulations for living in the Promised Land start being discussed.

The New Testament
We will read the familiar Christmas story from Luke. We will see Simeon and his gift of seeing the Messiah. We then see Jesus as a boy in the temple and the ministry of his cousin John. Luke gives us the genealogy of Joseph after Jesus’ baptism and then tells of his temptation. Jesus then begins his public ministry as he reads from Isaiah in the synagogue and tells them that the scripture is fulfilled in their hearing. Jesus begins to heal and drive out spirits and then calls his disciples.

Key Verses

Mark 14:23-24
Mark 14:61-62
Mark 16:15-16
Psalm 55:22
Luke 1:37
Psalm 57:9-11

Have a wonderful week!! Let me know if you have any questions.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Parish Theme- March

On the Road Again...The Journey in Jesus


Luke 23 records the story of Simon of Cyrene, who was “volunteered” to carry Jesus’ cross on the road to Calvary. “As they led [Jesus] away, they seized Simon from Cyrene, who was on his way in from the country, and put the cross on him and made him carry it behind Jesus.”
I imagine this side trip wasn’t on Simon’s calendar that day. In fact, a second reading indicates he wasn’t even headed the same direction as Jesus: he was headed INTO Jerusalem. He undoubtedly had other plans, but he ran into a roadblock. The Bible doesn’t say how Simon felt about his little side trip, but there’s a good chance he wasn’t pleased. (Of course, he probably also kept his mouth shut, in light of what was happening that day!) The end result, though, is that his name was recorded for all of history and he is remembered as one who served.
I don’t know about you, but my day rarely goes according to my calendar. Usually there’s not just one roadblock, but several! It’s interesting, though, how many of those roadblocks become opportunities to serve…to minister to those in need. And it’s equally as interesting how much more important those roadblocks/service opportunities are than what’s on my calendar.
One of my favorite “servant songs” talks about the journey we are taking together and our opportunities for ministry. At first glance, those opportunities might appear to be roadblocks, but as you read these verses, think about the past year, month, week or even day….when have you been presented such roadblocks and been able to be a servant to your fellow saints? When have your fellow saints been able to serve you?

1. Brother, let me be your servant,Let me be as Christ to you.
Pray that I may have the grace,To let you be my servant, too.

2. We are pilgrims on a journey,We are brothers on the road.
We are here to help each other,Walk the mile and bear the load.

3. I will hold the Christlight for you,In the night-time of your fear.
I will hold my hand out to you,Speak the peace you long to hear.

4. I will weep when you are weeping,When you laugh I'll laugh with you.
I will share your joy and sorrow,Till we've seen this journey through.

5. When we sing to God in heaven,We shall find such harmony,
Born of all we've known together,Of Christ's love and agony.

6. Brother, let me be your servant,Let me be as Christ to you.
Pray that I may have the grace,To let you be my servant, too.

God grant us the perspective to see our roadblocks as “heavenly detours” in our service to the Savior!

-Mary Fink

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

The One Year Bible: March 8, 2006

So far, so good! We have already read three of the big five books of Moses in the Old Testament and we are almost halfway through the Gospels and it is only March! (Not to mention 50 Psalms and over 10 chapters of Proverbs) Yes, we have a long way to go, but we have already come so far. I am glad to be out of Leviticus. That is some tough reading. There will be more like it. When we get into Isaiah and Jeremiah (as well as some of the other prophets) the readings will be a bit tedious, but remember that the Bible has one story and that is about Christ. I hope this time in the word will help you in your Lenten journey to the cross as we all continue to work on our spiritual disciplines.

Where We Have Been
The Old Testament
We finished up Leviticus with a few more regulations. One of the more interesting is the idea of jubilee. Every 50 years all debts were cancelled and the land rested. This was not only good for the land it was good for the society. This limited social stratification that can be divisive within society. The value of land and servants etc was all based on how many years until the next jubilee. This might not be such a bad thing to consider as God’s people today. Anything that can be done to meet the needs of the people must at least be thought of. The book of Numbers continues the story of the people from Mt. Sinai on to the Promised Land. Here are the vital stats for Numbers:

Purpose: To tell the story of how Israel prepared to enter the Promised Land, how they sinned and were punished, and how they prepared to try again

Author: Moses

To Whom Written: The People of Israel

Date Written: 1450-1410 B.C.

Setting: The vast desert of the Sinai region, as well as the lands just south and east of Canaan

Key Verses: “Not one of the men who saw my glory and the miraculous signs I performed in Egypt and in the desert but who disobeyed me and tested me ten times—not one of them will ever see the land I promised on oath to their forefathers. No one who has treated me with contempt will ever see it.” Numbers 14:22-23

Key People: Moses, Aaron, Miraim, Joshua, Caleb, Eleazar, Korah, Balaam

Key Places: Mt. Sinai, the Promised Land (Canaan), Kadesh, Mt. Hor, plains of Moab

Numbers records the story of Israel’s unbelief and should serve as a dramatic lesson for all God’s people. God loves us and wants the very best for us. He can and should be trusted. Numbers also gives a clear portrayal of God’s patience. Again and again he withholds judgment and preserves the people. But his patience must not be taken for granted. His judgment will come.

One of the recurring themes in Numbers is that of complaining. It is complaining that gets the people into trouble. Complaining and grumbling become very destructive for the people. Many of them even wanted to go back to Egypt. They had already forgotten that in Egypt they were slaves!!

One of the best know and most powerful Psalms is 51. This Psalm was written by David after he was confronted of his many sins; his sin of adultery with Bathsheba and his murder of Uriah. The prophet Nathan brings it to his attention and in a spirit of contrition and repentance, David pens this Psalm. You are probably familiar with some of the words. This is a good one to memorize for when you need to ask for forgiveness as well.

The New Testament
In our readings in Mark this past week we had a few great stories and a few that have confounded scholars for generations. In ch. 11 we have the story of Palm Sunday and the triumphant entry of Jesus. This story shows a glimpse of the divinity of Jesus as well as point to his role as our King. This story also solidifies him as the promised Messiah. The story of the fig tree is a strange one. Mark divides up the story into two parts. The first part happens right before the clearing of the temple and many scholars believe that Jesus used it as an object lesson. Here was a tree that should have had some fruit on it. Most fig trees begin growing fruit at the same time they begin to grow leaves. If there are leaves on the tree then one should find fruit. Not finding any fruit Jesus curses the tree. The lesson here is that the Jews are the fig tree but they are not producing any fruit. They are just content to grow leaves. But leaves are of no value. It is the fruit that is beneficial. This leads right into the clearing of the temple. Jesus “prunes” the temple so it can bear fruit. The withered fig tree is like those who do not listen to the teaching of Jesus. They will dry up. Jesus uses similar analogies when he talks about the vine and the branches and the idea of good people bear good fruit. Another great teaching is what some scholars call “The Great Commandment”. Jesus sums up all the commandments in two sentences. “Love the Lord your God with all of your heart and with all of your soul and with all of your mind and with all of your strength.” This is a summary of the first three commandments. “Love your neighbor as your self.” This summarizes the other commandments.

Where We Are Going
The Old Testament
The layout for Numbers is found in the vital stats of the book found above. You have probably guessed why the book is called Numbers already. There are a ton of lists and numbers of people in groups which give the book its name.

The New Testament
We will be finishing up the Gospel of Mark and starting the Gospel of Luke. Mark’s story of the passion is short but powerful. He cuts to the chase and tells you what is important. It ends with a call to action. Very appropriate since this is called the action Gospel. Jesus said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.” Mark 16:15 And the disciples took him up on it, “Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it.” (16:20)

Key Verses

Mark 10:15
Mark 10:43-45
Psalm 46:1-3 (One of Martin Luther’s favorite Psalms)
Mark 12:29-31
Numbers 6:24-26
Mark 13:10-11
Mark 13:32-33
Psalm 51:10-12

Have a great week!!!

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

The One Year Bible March 1, 2006

Congratulations on completing two months in God’s word. For those of you just joining us, welcome to the adventure. Today is Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent. The season of Lent has been seen as a time to “give up” something. This was not something commanded by Scripture but may have some value to people who want to remind themselves of what Jesus gave up for us. Lent can also be a time to reflect on the disciplines of being a Christian. One such discipline is taking time each day to read and meditate on God’s word. There may be some who begin their journey of daily Bible reading during this time and I pray that everyone will continue this long after the season of Lent is over. This study will continue each week so you are welcome to log on and be renewed by the Word. On to the study for today:

Where We Have Been

The Old Testament
The readings in Leviticus continue to spell out the regulations for the life of God’s chosen people. Many rituals are described and life for the Israelites is set in place. Some of the important festivals and celebrations for the church are also explained. One of which is called “The Day of Atonement” (Yom Kippur). This was the most sacred of all days in the Jewish year. It was the day the high priest would go into the Most Holy Place (where the Ark of God was) and would offer a sacrifice for the forgiveness of all the people. Other festivals include the Passover, The Festival of Unleavened bread, and the festival of booths (or shelters).

In my seminary classes we are taught that the Bible is a book of one story. It is a book about Christ. We call it “Chirstocentric”, meaning the Bible revolves around Christ. One of my professors said it this way, “The Old Testament is the New Testament concealed, and the New Testament is the Old Testament revealed.” That made sense to me, and then I started thinking about some of the readings in Leviticus. How is a story of mildew in a house about Jesus? Can all of the Bible really be about Jesus? So I asked my professor about this and he said that the story of the mildew actually does point to Jesus. Let me back up a second so we are all on the same page. As Lutherans we see that there are two teachings in the Bible: Law and Gospel. The Law shows us our sin and our need of a savior, and the Gospel shows us our Savior and the Grace that was given to us by the life, suffering, and death of Jesus. So back to the mildew; my professor says (and I agree) that this account, as well as others in the Old Testament describe the condition of the world because of sin. The reason a priest was called to look at mildew in the house was because it was a spiritual problem. Please don’t read into this as my saying that because of the sins of the homeowner they have mildew, not at all. What I am saying is we have mildew and other things that destroy and make people sick because of the sinful state of the world. I think at times we neglect the root of many of our problems and we try to just put a “band-aid” on them. So you see, because of sin we are in need of a savior. So sometimes these readings do not look to be about Jesus but once you start to dig a bit deeper, you can see that there is nothing in the Bible that is not about Christ. OK enough of this tangent on to the New Testament.

The New Testament
In our readings in Mark we see more miracles and stories of Jesus. In Mark 7, Jesus makes reference to some of the washings we have been reading about in Leviticus. Jesus makes some people angry when he says its not all about keeping the laws and traditions. In fact, there is much more to it. We need to not only be clean on the outside, we must be cleaned on the inside as well. It is not what comes from inside that makes us unclean, but what comes out of our heart. Just a small aside here; the heart was seen by a Jew as the center of not only the emotions but also the entire soul, including the intellect. When Jesus says these things come from our heart, he is saying that our entire being is full of wickedness. This is something we all need to hear. We are all sinful and unclean. There is not one who does good. And we all fall short of the glory of God. We are in need of a Savior. Jesus has some words for the disciples about being a servant. The disciples were fighting about who was the greatest and once again Jesus turns conventional wisdom on its ear. He tells them they must be a servant of everyone else. They must put the needs of others before their own. This was a radical way of thinking. We sometimes forget how radical Jesus’ words were.

Where We Are Going

The Old Testament
We will be finishing up the book of Leviticus this week and we will get into the book of Numbers. I will give you an introduction to that book next week. Just to get you started, Numbers was written by Moses and tells the story of the people of Israel and their Journey from Mt. Sinai to the planes of Moab on the boarder of the Promised Land. The narrative story will continue as we follow the events in the Desert.

The New Testament
In Mark, Jesus will predict his own death and heal another blind man. Then in Ch. 11 we have the Triumphant entry into Jerusalem and the clearing of the temple. Chapter 12 contains both a parable and some more teachings of Jesus including the Great Commandment (Mark 12:29-31). With this Jesus summarizes the 10 commandments (I mean the 9 words) in two sentences. I will have more to say about this next week. Jesus will also talk about the signs of the end of the age.

Key Verses

Psalm 39:4-5
Psalm 40:1-2 (This is one of my most favorite Psalms)
Mark 7:14-16
Psalm 41:1
Psalm 42:1-2
Mark 9:35-37
Mark 10:14-15
Mark 10:31

Let us all journey to the cross this Lenten season! May you continue to work at the discipline of daily Bible reading with the help of the Lord.

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