Wednesday, May 31, 2006

The One Year Bible- May 31, 2006

Have you ever had one of those days where things just don’t go your way? You know what I am talking about; get up late, bad traffic, spill coffee on your shirt. I have had a few of those myself. But then there are those days where everything seems to go right; the sun is shining, work flies by, everything seems right with the world. King David sure had his ups and downs in his life too. But every time he seems to be up, something happens to knock him down again. I think that is one reason people like David. He seems to go through some real problems in his life and we all can relate. This week has been up and down for me. I can relate to life’s roller coaster. Let’s see if we can gain some insight from God’s Word this week....

Where We Have Been

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. 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. I will go as far to say that if David is a type of Christ 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 see 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 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, “Because of what you have done, I will cause your own house hold to rebel against you. I will give your wives to another man before your very eyes, and he will go to bed with them in public view (which happens later in the story, YUCK!)....because you have shown utter contempt for the LORD by doing this, your child will die.” (2 Samuel 12:11,14 NLT) 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. 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 the 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, “As Jesus said ‘I AM he’, they all drew back and fell on the ground!” (John 18:6 NLT) 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 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. I don’t think we have time to get into all of the issues with the crucifixion here but if you have questions, please feel free to ask me.

I know I said two things but one more needs a bit of my time. 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.

Where We Are Going

The Old Testament
We will be finishing up the book of 2 Samuel this week 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 contrast the lives of those who live for God and those who refuse to do so through the history of the kings of Israel and Judah

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)

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 give an accurate account of the birth and growth of the Christian church.

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).

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.

Key Verses:
John 15:4-5
John 16:33
John 17:21
John 18:5-8
Psalm 119:105

John 18:36

Thursday, May 25, 2006

The One Year Bible- May 25th

Wow, what at week! It week has been awesome but busy. I spent all weekend with the youth of Bethany at the annual Crossroads retreat. It was a fantastic weekend with great studies of God’s word and bonding time. It was a time to honor our seniors who will be graduating and welcome the eighth graders into the high school program. Those weekends are demanding and I usually take a day or two off right after them, but this week I attended a conference on Monday and Tuesday so I had to keep myself going. The conference was great but now I am tired. I even fell asleep at my desk yesterday! Have you had weeks like this? We all have. The unfortunate thing is that my Bible reading took a backseat. I am not proud of that but I want to be honest with you. At times our lives get so busy and hectic that we forget to get into the Word. It is at times like these that we need to be in prayer and ask for the strength and focus we need to get it done. I have since caught up and now we are ready for our study this week…

Where We Have Been

The Old Testament
The saga of David and Saul continues in our Old Testament readings this week. The story has it’s climax towards the end of 1 Samuel. I think that David and Saul had a very co-dependant relationship. They both hated and loved each other and this made things very confusing. One moment they want to kill each other, the next they say how much they love and respect one another. We see some interesting things about David’s character in this story too. David is revered as one of the best kings that Israel ever had. But his record is not spotless. In fact he is not the nicest of guys at all. This weekend at our youth retreat my pal Ingrid talked about David in our studies. She mentioned that during David’s life, he often took the high road (i.e. not killing Saul in the cave) but equally as often he took the low road (i.e. taking multiple wives and the fiasco with Bathsheba). David is an interesting king for sure. I think that remembering that David took the low road at times is something we must remember. Even after all the bad things that he did, God still loved him and promised that his kingdom will last forever in the person of Jesus. A couple of other things from this week that I want to make note of: I have always liked the story of Saul going to see the medium at Endor. For those of you who are fans of the Star Wars movies you would remember that George Lucas called one of the planets in the Star Wars universe by the same name. It was on a moon of Endor that the final battle in “Return of the Jedi” took place. Did George Lucas know his Bible or did someone feed him that place, I don’t know. It is just another example that things from the Bible are everywhere. That story has another point. Saul has lost his trust in God. He seeks the advice of a medium to try to get information. The LORD has left him and is with David and that makes Saul angry. Finally during a battle Saul is injured and falls on his own sword and dies. It was a bad day for the house of Saul. “So Saul, his three sons, his armor bearer, and his troops all dies together that same day.” (1 Samuel 31:6 NLT) This starts another Civil War and eventually David becomes king. In our readings for May 24th we hear the story of Saul’s son Mephibosheth. He will be more important later. For now just remember his name and his situation. I find it odd that the first thing that David builds in the new capital of Jerusalem is a palace for himself. He does not built a place for God or for the Ark. We will see why a bit later. You might not have noticed, especially if you are reading through a special One Year Bible, but we moved into the book of 2 Samuel. It is basically the continuation of the same story but here are the vital stats of the book:

PURPOSES: To Record the history of David's reign; to demonstrate effective leadership under God; to reveal that one person can make a difference; to show the personal qualities that please God; the depict David as an ideal leader of an imperfect kingdom, and to forshadow Christ, who will be the ideal leader of a new and perfect kingdom.

AUTHOR: Unknown; some have suggested that Nathan's son Zabud may have been the author; the book also includes writings from Nathan and Gad

SETTING: The land of Israel under David's rule

KEY VERSE: "And David knew that the LORD had established him as king over Israel and had exalted his kingdom for the sake of his people Israel" (5:12)

SPECIAL FEATURES: This book was named after the prophet who anointed David and guided him in living for God.

The New Testament

The “I Am” statements keep flying out of Jesus’ mouth in John. Jesus says “I am the gate” meaning that he is the only way into heaven. There is no other way for salvation. It is by him and through him that we are saved and enter the safety of the heavenly sheep pen. He also says, “I am the good shepherd”. Is he really a good shepherd? He leaves all the other sheep unprotected to look for one lost one. But that is the point. Jesus will do anything, even give up his own life in order to save the sheep. He knows all of the sheep and will sacrifice his life for each and every one of them. Jesus also spends a lot of time trying to show the relationship he has with the father. The disciples just don’t seem to get it. Jesus says that he and the father are one, and that he is doing the work of the father. In the story of the death of Lazarus, Jesus says “I am the resurrection and the life.” What a great analogy and given at the right time. It is by the power of Jesus that Lazarus was raised from death to life again. We see a glimpse of the human side of Jesus, showing love in the shortest verse of the bible, “Jesus wept.” (John 11:35) Confirmation students often want to memorize this verse because it is so short, and most teachers don’t let them but it is a powerful verse. Jesus shows his emotion and his love for his friend Lazarus, and it is that same love he has for us. He died not only for Lazarus but for us as well. Our resurrection will not be in this world but will be in heaven on the last day. What a great comfort. Jesus shows that love a few verses later when he washes the disciples feet. That was a tender act of love that shows the servant heart of our Lord. Just after this we have another great “I Am”. “I tell you this before hand, so that when it happens you will believe that I AM the Messiah.” (John 13:19 NLT) This “I Am” statement is a direct pointer to the name Yahweh. Jesus was again telling them who he was and what he was all about. There is a lot more in this section of scripture, but I don’t have the time to dig into all of it. If you have any questions please let me know.

We started reading Psalm 119 this week and I want to make a few comments. First of all, it is the longest Psalm in the Bible, secondly the Psalm is a giant acrostic. There are twenty two stanzas in the Psalm, one for each successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet. Each of the eight verses within each stanza begins with the Hebrew letter named in its heading. Of course, once you translate it you loose this unique structure. This is a common literary form used for Hebrew poetry. When you know some of the structure, you can see more of the beauty of the original.

Where We Are Going

The Old Testament
This week we will see the establishment of the Davidic kingdom. David starts out well and the LORD is with him. Pay close attention to the story of Mephibosheth. I will spend some time next week talking about this rather unfamiliar story. We will also read about the second most famous story about David (after his defeat of Goliath), the fiasco with Bathsheba. This is what soap operas are made of. Because of this the house of David will seem some turbulence and problems. Note especially what happens between David and his son Absalom.

The New Testament
We will see a couple of more “I Am” statements before John gives his account of the Passion. We will get through the trial, the crucifixion and the death of Jesus. (If you must feel free to read ahead to chapter 20 for the good news of the resurrection.) We are almost finished with the Gospels and we will soon move on to the book of Acts. You will want to find yourself a good map before we start the book of Acts because things will start to get confusing if you don’t locate all of the cities and regions that will be mentioned.

Key Verses

John 10:9-16
Psalm 115:1
John 10:27-28
John 11:25-26
John 11:35
Psalm 118:8-9
John 12:23-24
Psalm 118:22 (Messianic)
John 13:19
2 Samuel 5:4-5
John 14:6-7

Talk with you soon. God Bless!!!

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Parish Theme- May

For those of you logging on for this weeks One Year Bible study, I hate to say it will not be posted until tomorrow at the end of the day. I was with the youth at CrossRoads retreat this weekend and then I was at a conference all day on Monday and Tuesday. In the mean time here is a devotion on our parish theme for this month written by Pastor K. This will be our theme this Sunday as well. Enjoy.....

A funny thing happened to me on the way to lunch. I know that is the lead line to an old joke. I'm not telling that old joke. However, a funny thing did happen to me on the way to lunch the other day. A friend from Bethany and I were going out to lunch and as we were walking to the restaurant there was an altercation between two cars on the street right in front of us. To be honest it wasn't all that serious of an event. Someone went through a solid yellow light. Now I am not defending running a very yellow light when you have plenty of time to stop and can safely do so! I will also freely admit that I don't like it when people run them as I am waiting to make a left hand turn without assistance of an arrow. Yet, we've all had it done to us. In this case, no one was injured. No paint was exchanged, no brakes were overheated and no rubber was left on the pavement. Someone who had plenty of time to stop but didn't. They decided to push it, instead of braking at the yellow the accelerated through the intersection. The "funny" thing was the reaction of the man waiting to make that turn. He didn't miss his light! No damage was caused to his body nor to his car. He didn't narrowly avoid death or injury. He lost an estimated 3-5 seconds and himself was forced to be sitting in the intersection for a second or two as the light turned from yellow to red. Then he went ballistic! Cursing and yelling and gesturing and fuming. He was beat red. It actually wasn't all that funny but really rather sad when you actually think about it for a moment. I was witnessing a case of Road-Rage.

Some might say that is what the disciples saw as Jesus cleared the Temple courts. The story is recorded in all four Gospels. (Mt 21; Mk 11; Lk 19 & Jn 2) Jesus turned over the tables and chairs of the money changers. He drove out the merchants and scattered the live-stock to be sold for sacrifice. He yelled, "How dare you turn my Father's house into a den of thieves." He chased them down the proverbial street. He became enraged on the road to worship. Unlike the driver I saw the other week, Jesus' rage was out of the abuse of power, the routine of worship without devotion and the affront to God the Father Himself.

Funny thing is that in my journey through life I seem to get more upset with things that inconvenience me rather than that which insults God. Sad really. Perhaps it is because I've become far to comfortable in the world and only when my comfort is disrupted do I get enraged. Sure I get upset with evil, with abuse of the power, neglect of the helpless, violence upon the defenseless, persecution upon the faithful. But when I really seem to go ballistic, like the guy at the intersection, is when my comfort, timetable, or plans are threatened. Now, neither the Lord, the above texts, nor is this letter, is calling for a jihad against that which affronts and offends God. The point of none of them is when to curse, yell, gesture and fume. But perhaps the point of each of them is to challenge us to remember that we weren't made for this world, we belong somewhere else and we when experience "road-rage" on our journey at that which inconveniences us while not being stirred nearly as deeply by that which offends God, we may have become far to comfortable in the world. It is for that sin too that God poured out the fullness of His wrath upon Christ as He hung on the cross. Now as His forgiven children, may His Spirit lead us as pilgrim and strangers through this world and servants of that which is to come while we are here.

--Pastor K

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

The One Year Bible- May 17, 2006

With the school year winding down and vacations on the horizon it is easy to get out of the routines and habits of daily life. It will be very easy for some of us to neglect our time in the Word because of changes in our schedules and the busyness of life. I have already found myself searching for a time to read my Bible since the semester is over. Don’t let this get you down. Maybe it is time to find a new time and or place to read. This would also be the time to make sure you have a buddy reading with you. The two of you can work together to find time and to keep each other accountable. Remember, summer is right around the corner so take your Bible to the beach; don’t forget to take it on vacation and most importantly, remember that God loves you, even when you are a few days behind in your reading. On to the study….

Where We Have Been

The Old Testament
This weeks readings focused on the beginnings of the monarchy in Israel. God had finally allowed an earthy king but He said that it would be filled with some unexpected problems. The people still insisted and there were troubles. Saul was a man who had no equal. He was a head taller than the others and was good looking too.. Samuel reminds the people of what will happen to them under a king and gives them this warning, “But if you continue to sin, you and your king will be swept away.” (1 Samuel 12:25 NLT) For those of you who remember the story this is exactly what happened. Many generations later the people were taken into exile and swept away. Only a remnant survived. Chapter thirteen begins a regular pattern that we will see when the Kings are discussed. “Saul was thirty years old when he became king, and he reigned for forty-two years.” (1 Samuel 13:1). We will see this same pattern when each King is introduced. “X was Y years old when he became king, and he reigned for Z years." Saul seems to be doing OK until he gets a bit impatient. Saul ended up sacrificing a burnt offering himself without Samuel or a priest there; big mistake. Samuel tells Saul how foolish a thing he has done and then he drops the bomb, “But now your kingdom must end, for the LORD has sought our a man after his own heart.” Wasn’t it just a few verses ago that Saul was anointed king? The kingdom talk is about his line or family. And a few chapters later, “So because you have rejected the command of the LORD, he has rejected you as king.” God has decided to have the monarchy go to a different family, because of Saul’s sin. Now Saul will still be king for a while and God will use him but the days of his kingdom are numbered. This will be different (and I am getting ahead of myself a bit) with David’s kingdom. God will promise that the kingdom of David will last forever. This will come to pass because Jesus will come from the line of David and fulfill this promise as he is a king today and forever. After Samuel anoints David as the new king, a strange turn of events puts the old king and the new king in close quarters. A tormenting spirit filled Saul with depression and fear and he needed some comfort. David ends up being the one to play his harp in the kings presence and to be his armor bearer. This is no coincidence. Saul and David will have a long a tension filled relationship. The best word for it is “DRAMA”. Those of you with teenagers or remember those days know what I mean. Saul acts rather childish and the rest of his life is filled with drama. After the familiar story of David and Goliath we read that Saul and David return victoriously to Israel and the people chant, “Saul has killed his thousands, and David his ten thousands!” This really gets Saul’s feathers ruffled. “So from that time on Saul kept a jealous eye on David.” (1 Samuel 18:9 NLT) This was the beginning of some violent interactions between David and Saul. I think Saul goes a bit nuts in his obsession with David and even lies on the ground naked all day. One other great storyline is that of David and Jonathan. They became the closest of friends. They watched out for each other and I believe that their relationship can be a model for us today.

The New Testament
John has an amazing way with words, even after it is translated into English. This week we read the account in chapter eight that is not in many of the Greek manuscripts. Why was it not there? It is hard to be certain, but I love the story that the section contains. The woman who was caught in adultery is guilty. By the law she is condemned to die. It is a powerful scene. Mel Gibson uses this scene in The Passion of the Christ and it is amazing. I wonder what Jesus was writing in dirt. Could it be that he was writing the sins of each of the people who had rocks in their hands? Whatever it was, the people left. I wonder how they felt? Were they convicted of their own sins or were they mad that they did not get to do what they wanted. At any rate it is a great story. Did you notice the “I Am” statements this week? I am reading the New Living Translation this year and the translators capitalized the “I Am” statements in 8:24 & 28. That was cool. Both of these statements occur in a section where people were trying to figure out who Jesus was. “Listen Up People!!! He is telling YOU!!” When he says “I Am” that is your clue. He says it again in verse 58. I guess I would have to put myself in their position. Would I be able to figure it out? I don’t know. I might be one of those who thought Jesus was a crazy guy. We also read on of the “I Am” metaphors. In chapter 8 Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that least to life.” (John 8:12 NLT) He uses the same metaphor again in chapter 9:5. These statements are found only in John. He uses them to give an analogy for the reader; to help us understand who Jesus is. They are wonderful statements that I am convinced Jesus said. Some believe that John was putting words into Jesus’ mouth in order to make a literary point. I disagree. I think Jesus knew what he was doing when John remembered these statements as he wrote his Gospel. Wow, I could talk for a while about this so I will stop myself here.

Where We are Going

The Old Testament
We will continue to read about the drama that unfolds between David and Saul. This story gets very interesting. I think their relationship is a bit co-dependant. They seem like they will get along then Saul wants to kill David. It is all a bit nuts.

The New Testament
We will read another wonderful “I Am” statement this week; Jesus is the Good Shepherd. We will also get the story of the death of Lazarus. There is the great story of the woman who anoints Jesus with perfume and we will read the story of the triumphant entry. Next Tuesday, we will read one of my favorite passages. It is the account of Jesus washing the disciples feet. I will have much more to say about that next week.

Key Verses

John 6:68-69
Psalm 108:4
John 8:12
John 8:24
John 8:28
John 8:34-36 (John 8 is pretty amazing)
Proverbs 15:16

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

The One Year Bible- May 10, 2006

Sunday morning as I opened my One Year Bible I realized that we had finished the book of Ruth already and 1 Samuel 1 was looking back up at me. I sat there, scratched my head and though, “I don’t think I read in the blog that we were going to start another new book this week?”. So I went back to last week’s blog and checked it out. Well lo and behold there was nothing about starting 1 Samuel. So I went ahead and read and hoped I would get some information about Samuel on Wednesday...

All joking aside, I do apologize for not giving you the heads up that we were starting 1 Samuel this week and I do plan on giving you the vital stats for the book. On to the study...

Where We Have Been

The Old Testament
The book of Judges ends just as it began, “In those days Israel had no king; all the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes.” (Judges 21:25 NLT) Remember the point of the book is that God loves his people and will find ways to save them. Even after some good stories, the problems still remain. People still sin, but God still loves them. The book of Ruth comes in next and at first seems a bit out of place. There are a few wonderful gems found in this small book. First of all we have a story of faithfulness. Ruth was faithful to her Mother-in-Law Naomi. She cared for her and wanted to be with her. On one level Ruth serves as a role model for faithfulness. The other neat thing is this idea of a “kinsman or family redeemer” (Ruth 2:20). In Israel, a kinsman redeemer was a person who would marry a widowed relative so the family land could stay with the family. It was an important position because land was so important to the people. The only way a widow could keep her land and possessions in the family was to be redeemed or bought back by a close relative. This redeemer would pay for the land and then he would be able to claim it as his own. This same idea is brought up again when Jesus is called the Redeemer in the New Testament. Jesus bought us back at the price of his own life so that we might be his own. I hope you see how the Bible is a book with one main story. The last big thing in the book of Ruth is the fact that Ruth and Boaz are the grandparents of King David. Genealogies are very important for the Jewish people; we saw that in the Gospels and in Numbers. It is important to note that Ruth was not an Israelite. She was from Moab, but her grandson became the most famous King of Israel, not to mention a distant relative to Jesus (See Matthew 1:5). The book of 1 Samuel begins with the story of his mother Hannah. She was so distraught that she did not have any children. This was a big disgrace to an Israelite. She cried out to God and God heard her prayer. She gave birth to Samuel but gave him up to the Lord. Samuel served the Lord with Eli and one night God called him. Many think it is funny for Samuel to serve with the priests and not know the Lord. Once again we have a language problem here. The word that we translate as “know” has a much greater and deeper connotation than the simple English word. The word means to know intimately, to know everything about someone or something, to have a close and personal relationship with. We find this same word used in the Old Testament for example “Adam knew his wife and she became pregnant.” I am sure that Samuel knew of the Lord, in fact I would guess that he knew some history of the Lord’s action in the world but he really did not “know” the Lord...yet. Not that we have time here but I just love the story of when the Ark is taken and it is placed in the temple of Dagon. When the citizens of Ashdod went in the temple the next day, their god Dagon had fallen, face down on the floor next to the ark. The next night the image of Dagon gets all broken up. There must have been some sort of fight in the middle of the night. That is a very funny story. Then with the gifts of gold rats and tumors....what a great sense of humor our God has. More about Samuel and Saul next week; for now here are the vital stats to the book:

PURPOSE: To record the life of Samuel, Israel’s last judge; the reign and decline of Saul, the first king; and the choice and preparation of David, Israel’s greatest king.

AUTHOR: Most likely Samuel himself

SETTING: The book begins in the days of the judges and describes Israel’s transition from a theocracy (let by God) to a monarchy (led by a king)

KEY VERSES: “And the LORD told him, ‘Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king....Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will do’” (8:7,9)

KEY PEOPLE: Eli, Hannah, Samuel, Saul, Jonathan, David

The New Testament
The Gospel of John is a great read. I hope you have seen how it is very different than the other three Gospels. John has a very different writing style and it is evident in his use of the phrase “I Am”. Lets go back to the Old Testament to get some perspective. In Exodus 3 we read about Moses’ encounter with the burning bush. God asks Moses to be his mouthpiece and to lead the people out of slavery in Egypt. Moses doubts that the people will listen to him and he says, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God or your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?” God then says to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM as sent me to you.’” The Hebrew name that was given was YAHWEH. This is God’s personal name. This name was the mark of the one true God; the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Jesus uses this name on several occasions written down by John. Most of the time when Jesus uses this name he does so on purpose and to prove a point. The first is in John 4:26. “Then Jesus declared to , ‘I who speak to you am he.’” It is hard to pick out in the NIV but it is there in the Greek. Jesus is talking with the woman at the well and she had just said that she knows that the Messiah is coming. Jesus not just says that he is the Messiah, he uses the personal name of God to do so! No wonder the woman left her water jar and ran off to tell the others about Jesus. The next time Jesus uses this name is in chapter six. The disciples were out on a boat in the middle of the lake when a storm came up. The wind was blowing, and the waters were rough and the disciples were scared. Jesus comes walking on the water out to them and says, “It is I; don’t be afraid.” Again it is a bit obscure in the NIV but trust me it is in the Greek. Jesus uses the personal name of God. The NLT says, “Don’t be afraid, I am here!” This is a bit clearer. Just a few verses later, Jesus uses the name again. “Then Jesus declared, ‘I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.” (John 6:35) This is the first of the seven “I Am” metaphors in the Gospel of John. It is very interesting that each time Jesus uses the phrase “I Am...” which is also the personal name for God. It is no coincidence that Jesus uses this phrase when talking about himself for he is God in the flesh. We will see these “I Am” statements again (8:12, 8:24, 8:28, 8:58, 10:7, 10:11, 11:25, 14:6, 15:1, 18:5). Look for these as we continue to read. They are so powerful and I will most likely talk about them as they come up again.

Where We Are Going

The Old Testament
We will begin to read about Saul and the beginning of the monarchy. Samuel warns the people of the potential problems but the people insist on having an earthly king. We will see how Saul is rejected as king and David is chosen. This is vital history for the Jews as well as for Christians.

The New Testament
Keep looking for the “I Am” statements, especially in chapter 8. Remember not every time you see the English words “I am” is Jesus invoking the name of God. Use the list above for reference. This list is taken from a study of the Greek. The other thing to look for are the miraculous “signs” that John writes about. We will talk more about these in a few weeks.

Key Verses

Ruth 1:16
John 4:26
John 5:19
John 6:35

Keep up with the reading!! Let me know if you have any questions.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

The One Year Bible- May 3, 2006

I was talking with a college friend of mine the other day and we happened upon the topic of the book of Judges. The book just happens to be a favorite for both of us and he said to me, “You know, they should make that book into a movie.” I couldn’t agree more. Who wouldn’t want to see the left handed Ehud taking care of the Eglon who was taking care of business, or Samson killing 1,000 Philistines with the jawbone of a donkey or tying 300 pairs of foxes together, lighting them on fire and setting them loose in the fields? And you can’t forget Gideon and the testing of God and the defeat of the Midionites with just 300 men. I think this would be a task for Peter Jackson of Lord of the Rings fame. But I digress...... On to the study.....

Where We Have Been:

The Old Testament

I hope you are enjoying the book of Judges as much as I am. Some people get depressed when they read the book because it looks as if the people just don’t get it. They always seem to do evil in the eyes of the Lord and they get handed over to some group and they suffer. But I don’t think that is the point. The point of the book is that God takes care of his people. He loves them so much and he will do anything to save them. We still don’t get the point today. Thank God for sending Jesus to save us. I want to spend some time talking about Gideon and Samson today. First of all the book of Gideon spends more time on these two guys then the others. Gideon is chosen by an angel who seeks him out. A bit of knowledge would help here. Gideon is hiding. How do I know that? He is in the bottom of a winepress (think big barrel) threshing wheat to hide it from the Midianites. The angel comes to him and calls him a “Mighty Hero”. Of course Gideon tries to talk his way out of it (sounds like Moses). Gideon asks for a sign and he hurries home to get an offering. The angel then burns up the offering and Gideon believes that it was an angel from the Lord. End of story right....not so fast. Gideon seems to be convinced but he tests his appointment two more times with God. Again the point here is not to show how untrusting Gideon was, but to show how patient God is, he patient with us in all things. The rest of the story continues on this theme. God delivers the people with only 300 men so the people would not brag that they did it all themselves. One of the other problems the people get into is that they want an earthly king. They ask Gideon to be their ruler and they have problems. After Gideon died one of his sons Abimelech tried to be the king. This only leads to problems because God is the only king the people need. The people loose sight of this and the cycle continues. Eventually God will allow a king but we are getting ahead of ourselves. Samson is another judge that makes for good Sunday school stories. His great strength makes him a good hero. But as you read the story you find out that Samson has some personality issues. He has problems with women and his temper (good movie material). Eventually he is humbled and matures and God uses him to exact some judgment on the Philistines. At the center, these stories are about the mercy of God. He continued to show the people mercy when they did not deserve it. He shows it to us today as well.

The New Testament

We finished up the Gospel of Luke with the familiar story of the passion. The one thing that jumped out at me was in chapter 24. Jesus was waling on the road to Emmaus with some of the disciples and Jesus takes them to task about believing that Jesus was the Messiah. Jesus seems a but impatient but in verse 27 it says, “The Jesus took them through the writings of Moses and all the prophets explaining from all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.” What a great teacher. He knew that they still did not get it but he proceeded to teach them. His patience is amazing. Before we get to far I want to give you the vital stats for the Gospel of John:

Purpose: To prove conclusively that Jesus is the Son of God and that all who believe in him will have eternal life.

Author: It is never actually mentioned but most agree that it is John the apostle, son of Zebedee, brother of James, called a “Son of Thunder”

To Whom Written: New Christians and searching Non-Christians

Date Written: Probably between A.D. 85-90

Setting: Written after the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 and before John’s exile to the island of Patmos

Key Verses: “Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. 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 20:30-31

Key People: Jesus, John the Baptist, the disciples, Mary, Martha, Lazarus, Jesus’ mother, Pilate, Mary Magdalene

Key Places: Judean countryside, Samaria, Galilee, Bethany, Jerusalem

Special Features: of the eight miracles recorded, six are unique (among the Gospels) to John, as is the “Upper Room Discourse” (chs. 14-17). Over 90 percent of John is unique to his Gospel. John does not contain a genealogy or any record of Jesus’ birth, childhood, temptation, transfiguration, appointment of the disciples, nor any account of Jesus’ parables, ascension, or Great Commission.

It should be an interesting read if we keep these things in mind. The one thing I want to point out this week comes from our readings from today (May 3rd). In Chapter three, Nicodemus comes (at night) to meet with Jesus. During their discussion Jesus mentions a story from the Old Testament. We read this story back in March. The people did not do what God said and he sent snakes into the camp. Moses made a bronze snake and put it on a pole and the people were saved. Jesus takes this story and gives some new meaning to it. “And as Moses lifted up the bronze snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him will have eternal life.” And right after this is the famous John 3:16. You can’t tell me that the Bible is not one story!!

Where We Are Going:

The Old Testament

We will finish the book of Judges this week and get into the book of Ruth. Here are the vital stats for the book of Ruth:

Purpose: To show how three people remained strong in character and true to God even when the society around them was collapsing

Author: Unknown. Some think it was Samuel, but internal evidence suggest that it was written after Samuel’s death.

Date Written: Sometime after the period of the Judges (1375-1050 B.C.)

Setting: A dark time in Israel’s history when people lived to please themselves, not God.

Key Verse: “But Ruth replied, ‘Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.’” (Ruth 1:16)

Key People: Ruth, Naomi, Boaz

Key Places: Moab, Bethlehem

We will talk more about this book next week

The New Testament
We will continue with John. Take special notice of the different accounts that John tells.

Key Verses:
Psalms 95:1-7
Luke 24:5-6
John 1:1-17
John 1:29-30

John 3:16

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