Wednesday, August 02, 2006

The One Year Bible- August 2nd

The past couple of weeks have been an adventure for me. First was Alaska, then Mexico and this week I am at Arrowhead Lutheran Camp serving as the “Shepherd of the Week”. Some of you know that I started my ministry here at camp and it continues to be very foundational for many things I do in ministry. I learned a lot at camp. One thing that has stuck with me is that spending time in the Word every day is essential to growth. Being in the Word also helps when things are tough. I got away from daily time in the word after camp but I am glad that I have gotten back in it. There is nothing quite like reading the Bible in middle of the forest, with fresh air and squirrels scurrying about. This week I was able to just sit in the presence of God. If at all possible I highly recommend that you try to find some time to just get away and relax in God’s presence. On to the study…

Where We Have Been

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

The New Testament
Our readings from Romans this week started with one of my favorite passages in all of scripture, “How beautiful are the feet of messengers who bring good news!” (Romans 10:15b NLT) Paul continues a few verses later by saying that “Faith comes from hearing”. It is not any action that we do, or any magic pill. Faith is a gift of God. It comes in hearing the message of Salvation from Jesus Christ. I had a seminary professor who told us that when his kids were born, the first thing he did was to whisper into their ears that Jesus loved them. I had never though of doing this before. We also read about one of the great analogies about being in the family of faith. Paul says that the Gentiles (which includes me) have been grafted into the family and now receive all the benefits of being part of the whole. We are now full partners in the blessings of Abraham as we live connected to God’s special olive tree. Paul then moves on to talk about being living sacrifices. This seems contradictory but in view of God’s mercy we offer everything we have to God as an offering to him. This becomes a part of our worship life. Paul then moves to the body analogy. It is not the only place Paul uses this but the point is that we are all part of one body. We are all connected in Christ. There is plenty more to talk about but I want to keep this post manageable. If you have other questions, please feel free to contact me.

One quick thing here; Psalm 22 is known as a Messianic Psalm. Jesus quotes from this Psalm when he is on the cross. Go back and read verses 14 to 18 and think about the story of Jesus on the cross.

Where We Are Going

The Old Testament
We will finish the book of 2 Chronicles this week and start the book of Ezra. A lot of time will have passed between these two books. We will see the downfall of Judah and their exile to Babylon. If you are dying to know what happens there you can read the book of Daniel. Ezra begins the story of the return of the exiles back to the promised land. This promised “remnant” will provide the opportunity for the fulfillment of Messianic prophecy with the birth of Jesus. I am sorry that I do not have the vital stats of the book of Ezra with me but I will give them to you next week.

The New Testament
The book of Romans comes to a close this week with some greetings to some people in Rome. Our journey with Paul will continue with the letters to the Corinthians. Along with Romans, these letters give a good taste of Paul’s theology. Paul wrote these letters to a church that was having some problems. We will spend time with these issues because many are the same that we face today. Again, I don’t have the vital stats with me right now so it will have to wait until next week.

Key Verses
2 Chronicles 19:9
Romans 10:14-15
Romans 10:17
Psalm 22:14-18
Romans 12:1
Romans 12:14-16
Psalm 23


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