Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Bethany Bullet - September 28, 2010

“We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man's gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.”
-Words from the Apostle Paul’s letter
to the Romans, the 12th chapter

May I be so bold as to expound on the list, if it is painting - let him paint, if it is singing - let them sing, if it is reading scripture aloud - let them do so with boldness, and if it is making coffee - let it be strong.

Today, I want us to spend some time with the concept of giftedness. Now I am not talking just about spiritual gifts, but they are a part of it. I am not just talking about being in the gifted class at school, because, in Christ we are all gifted. I want to start with the first few words of verse 6, “We have different gifts.”

The scripture reminds us that we have all been created with a unique SHAPE for service with the express purpose of building up the Body of Christ. For God has made a masterpiece out of all of us through His Son.

Our text in Romans chapter 12 is just one of the passages that describe gifts, talents, and abilities in scripture.

As the people of God were wondering in the desert, God continued to create them into His masterpiece. During this time, Yahweh directed the building of the tabernacle for worship. We find this passage in Exodus 35, “Then Moses said to the Israelites, ‘See, the LORD has chosen Bezalel…and he has filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, ability and knowledge in all kinds of crafts-to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, to cut and set stones, to work in wood and to engage in all kinds of artistic craftsmanship. And he has given both him and Oholiab…the ability to teach others. He has filled them with skill to do all kinds of work...”

Why didn’t God have Moses, Aaron, and the priests make the temple? Our text in Romans sheds some light for us, “We have different gifts.” Moses was given the gift of leadership, not craftsmanship. Aaron used his gifts in the area of worship not workmanship. “We have different gifts.”

Picking a major in school is a difficult task, but for many, finding an area of the body of Christ to major in is just as difficult. Many don’t have the tools needed to find out where they can make a difference and serve. Going “Back to School” means learning where we can put the words of our teacher and the message of our textbook to use.

Today going “Back to School” means finding your SHAPE. If you have been around Bethany for a while you have heard about it. It is a class called SHAPE. Your SHAPE describes how God has wired you for service in the body of Christ. Finding your SHAPE will help you pick your major.

When God planned the masterpiece He would make of your life, He decided to give you certain gifts, talents, abilities, and experiences that would enable you to effectively share His Good News and make your own unique contribution to His kingdom. In other words, to help you pick your major in the body of Christ. Finding your SHAPE is more than just figuring out what you are good at.

Your SHAPE consists of:

  • Spiritual Gifts — A set of special abilities that God has given you to share His love and serve others.
  • Heart — The special passions God has given you so that you can glorify Him on earth.
  • Abilities — The set of talents that God gave you when you were born, which He also wants you to use to make an impact for Him.
  • Personality — The special way God wired you to navigate life and fulfill your unique Kingdom Purpose.
  • Experiences — Those parts of your past, both positive and painful, which God intends to use in great ways.

What God made you to be, determines what He intends for you to do.

Your ministry is determined by your makeup. We have all been divinely designed for a specific purpose within the body of Christ. Knowing your SHAPE can help you know your place.

If you don’t understand your unique SHAPE, you end up doing things God never intended or designed you to do. When your gifts don’t meet the role you play in life, you feel like a square peg in a round hole. This is frustrating, both to you and to others. Not only does it produce limited results, it is also an enormous waste of your talents, time, and energy.

Because of sin, our SHAPE has become disfigured. We find ourselves majoring in sin, strife, and selfishness. We cease to seek and save the lost. Even those in the church can find themselves separated from service because we cease to act. We may know what we need to do, we may even try to encourage others to act, but we find ourselves frozen by fear.

From the ESV translation of our text, “Having gifts that differ according to the grace give to us, let us use them”. That is the key; we can take a page from our Teacher and use the gifts that have been given to us.

Jesus knew His SHAPE. His hand was in creation, yet He humbled Himself and took on the shape of humanity. He followed the will of His father and became our Teacher. He became the Word made flesh. He made His dwelling with us in order that we might be with Him forever. He took the shape of a servant and majored in obedience to the Father as He took our place on the cross. It is because of His SHAPE that we have been saved.

God has called you to use your gifts. He has SHAPED you for service. He has combined the colors on the canvas that is your life and has made you into a masterpiece. He has given you forgiveness, reconciliation, and new life in Christ.

Paul begins chapter 12 with these words, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.”

If we offer our bodies as living sacrifices without knowing our SHAPE, we will find ourselves burnt out, frustrated, disenfranchised, and doing things we were never really created to do. This is neither holy nor pleasing to God.

But as we keep the mercies of God in view, as we keep our eyes on our Teacher and our noses in our Text, we are released for service. Our SHAPE directs our major, our Savior guides our life. While we have different gifts, lets us not lose sight that we are all gifted and we all can benefit from the gifts of others.

So if you are looking to find your SHAPE, I have some homework for you. Starting today you can take the SHAPE class online though our website, www.bethanylutheran.org. On the home page is a link for the online SHAPE Academy, there you will find videos and handouts that will help you find your SHAPE and help you pick a major in the body of Christ. It is a go at your pace program and when you are finished I would love to sit down with you and help you pick a major. Not all of the lessons have been uploaded but they should all be there in a week or so. I look forward to helping you learn your SHAPE, find your place, and come to see the masterpiece that God has made in you, through Christ.

-Pastor Seth Moorman

Monday, September 27, 2010

The One Year Bible- September 27th

A number of years ago I was introduced to a form of devotion and reading called Lectio Divina. In short it is a tool to use when you are reading God’s word. Here is a quick definition: Lectio Divina is Latin for divine reading, spiritual reading, or "holy reading," and represents a method of prayer and scriptural reading intended to promote communion with God and to provide special spiritual insights. It is a way of praying with Scripture that calls one to study, ponder, listen and, finally, pray from God's Word. The past few weeks I have used this tool to stop and spend some time just chewing on God’s word and praying through what we have been reading. I have stopped in various places including parts of Isaiah, Ephesians and especially Psalms. I encourage you to give it a try. One thing you have been doing without even knowing it is something called Lectio Continua which is Latin for continuous reading. It is the discipline of reading the entire Bible without omitting anything. Both Lectio Continua and Lectio Divina can bring some depth as well as breadth to the study of God’s Word. On to the study...

Seth’s Thoughts

The Old Testament
I think I could write a novel on what we found in Isaiah this week. I think I told you that I am putting a star in the margin of my Bible each time I read “The Holy One Of Israel”. Remember that this is a term that points to the coming Messiah, Jesus. One thing to keep in mind is that you need to remember who the “I” is in some of these passages. Sometimes it is Yahweh, other times it is Isaiah. Make sure you know who is talking. This will go far in helping you understand some of the significance of the passage. Some general thoughts; we have entered the second part of the book of Isaiah and we will start to see much more of a prophetic message. Isaiah’s audience has changed from the people living in the Promised Land, to the exiles living in captivity. Here we see a message of hope and promise. Chapter 40 begins the new section with such a message, “Comfort, comfort my people says your God” (Isaiah 40:1 NIV). The people are in need of comfort because of what has happened. The people have been exiled. They are living in a foreign land and they need to hear the comforting words of their God. Chapter 40 gives a hope filled message and ends with a verse near and dear to my heart, But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” (Isaiah 40:31 NIV). This verse is my confirmation verse given to me by my father. It has been a source of comfort and hope for me for most of my life. I know that God is right there beside me giving me the strength I need to do his will. He promises to be with me when all other things seem to go wrong. Chapter 41 continues this same theme. Some of the most controversial parts of the book of Isaiah come from the sections where he mentions a character named Cyrus. He is called a shepherd, and one who will fulfill the purpose of God. He is also called an ally of God. Some translations use the Hebrew word Messiah to describe him. Cyrus was not a follower of Yahweh, he was the king of Persia, and a Gentile. He was used by God to bring the remnant back to the Jerusalem. Many believe that this name was inserted in later years to make Isaiah look good. There is no proof of this, and we should be careful to say that God was not the one who inspired Isaiah to write about this king. Many years later it would come to pass that King Cyrus would issue a decree that would allow many Jews to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the city and more importantly the temple. Isaiah also spends much time on the topic of monotheism. There are so many references to the Messiah in Isaiah it is hard to mention them all. Keep on looking for things that seem familiar to the life of Christ. I will post some of the connections in an upcoming post.

The New Testament
We finished up Galatians and now are in Ephesians. One of the main themes in Ephesians is “The Body of Christ” and the church. One key idea to keep in your mind while reading is one of Paul’s presuppositions of the book, namely that we are “In Christ” and apart from Christ we can do nothing. We are part of Christ by what he did on the cross and by claiming us as his own in baptism. We have been adopted into the family and now we can celebrate with all the rights and privileges as heirs of salvation. This is an amazing gift of God. This idea of “gift” is huge in Ephesians. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9 NIV). What a wonderful message. It is not up to us. If it were, I know I would be in trouble! I think I could just give quote after quote from Paul for this post. I have underlined so much in my Bible this week. Here are some of the best in my mind. “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. (Ephesians 2:13 ESV). “For he himself is our peace” (Ephesians 2:14 ESV). “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God” (Ephesians 2:19 ESV). There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” (Ephesians 4:4-6 ESV). “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32 ESV). I could go on and on, but you get the point. This book is a deep rich read, filled with so many good things. Don’t just skim over these things. Meditate on them, let them sink in, roll them around you head for a while. You will be blessed by doing so.

Bits and Pieces

The Old Testament
We will finish up Isaiah this week. I will have a lot to say next week about it. This week we will start the book of Jeremiah. Here are the vital stats:

PURPOSE: To urge God’s people to turn from their sins and back to God

AUTHOR: Jeremiah

TO WHOM WRITTEN: Judah (the southern kingdom) and its capital city Jerusalem

DATE WRITTEN: During Jeremiah’s ministry approx. 627-586 B.C.

SETTING: Jeremiah ministered under Judah’s last five kings—Josiah, Jehoahaz, Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin, and Zedekiah. The nation was sliding quickly toward destruction and was eventually conquered by Babylon in 586 B.C. (see 2 Kings 21-25). The prophet Zephaniah preceded Jeremiah, and Habakkuk was Jeremiah’s contemporary.

KEY VERSE: “’Your wickedness will punish you; your backsliding will rebuke you. Consider then and relize how evil and bitter it is for you when you forsake the LORD your God and have no awe of me,’ declares the Lord, the LORD Almighty” (2:19).

KEY PEOPLE: Judah’s kings (see list above), Baruch, Ebed-Melech, King Nebuchadnezzar, the Recabites

KEY PLACES: Anathoth, Jerusalem, Ramah, Egypt

SPECIAL FEATURES: This book is a combination of history, poetry, and biography. Jeremiah often used symbolism to communicate his message.

The New Testament
We will finish up Ephesians, read Philippians and start on Colossians this week. Here are the vital stats for Philippians:

PURPOSE: To thank the Philippians for the gift they had sent Paul and to strengthen these believers by showing them that true joy comes from Jesus Christ alone.


TO WHOM WRITTEN: All the Christians at Philippi and all believers everywhere

DATE WRITTEN: About A.D. 61, from Rome during Paul’s imprisonment there

SETTING: Paul and his companions began the church at Philippi on his second missionary journey (Acts 16:11-40). This was the first church established on the European continent. The Philippian church had sent a gift with Epaphroditus (one of their members) to be delivered to Paul (4:18). Paul was in a Roman prison at the time. He wrote this letter to thank them for their gift and to encourage them in their faith.

KEY VERSE: “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” (4:4)

KEY PEOPLE: Paul, Timothy, Epaphroditus, Euadia, and Syntyche

KEY PLACE: Philippi

Here are the vital stats for the book of Colossians:

PURPOSE: To combat errors in the church and to show that believers have everything they need in Christ.


TO WHOM WRITTEN: The church at Colosse, a city in Asia Minor, and all believers everywhere

DATE WRITTEN: About A.D. 60 during Paul’s imprisonment in Rome

SETTING: Paul had never visited Colosse—evidently the church had been founded by Epaphras and other converts form Paul’s missionary travels. The church, however, had been infiltrated by religious relativism, with some believers attempting to combine elements of paganism and secular philosophy with Christian doctrine. Paul confronts these false teachings and affirms the sufficiency of Christ.

KEY VERSES: “For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority” (2:9-10).

KEY PEOPLE: Paul, Timothy, Tychicuys, Onesimus, Aristarchus, Mark, Epaphras

KEY PLACES: Colosse, Laodicea

SPECIAL FEATURES: Christ is presented as having absolute supremacy and sole sufficiency. Colossians has similarities to Ephesians, probably because it was written at about the same time, but it has a different emphasis.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Bethany Bullet - September 21, 2010

Back To School

Once we know who our teacher is…it is time to get our text book.

Last week in the news there was plenty of talk about book burning; specifically the burning of a “sacred text.” From the outset, let me make it clear that I believe the threat, let alone such an act, is totally foolish and immature. Certainly this event, or non-event, received far too much attention in public discourse; however, it has not received sufficient thought on our parts. Not on the appropriateness or lack of appropriateness of said event; but on the term “sacred text.”

We Christians, of course, would affirm that the Bible is sacred. The Bible is undeniably an amazing book. It was written…

+ Over a period of 1600 years
+ By over 40 authors
+ In 3 different languages
+ And on 3 different continents

Think about that for a minute…
If you were to start writing a book today, and 3 dozen people, most of whom you would never meet and were not related to, also contributed their own independent chapters, written in their own independent languages, from within the conditions of their individual circumstances and their own individual perspectives, and the whole project wouldn’t be completed until 3600 AD…

-> What kind of read do you think that would be?
-> How much sense would it make?
-> How reliable could it possibly be?

Yet, the Bible records ONE unified story. It truly flows, and has ONE core climactic event that pulls it all together in beautiful harmony. While such stats may make the Bible stupendous, they do not make it sacred. The Bible is sacred not because of its stats but because of its Source.

I would offer that the sacredness of a text is…
  • Not determined by the reader but the Writer
  • Not the hearer but the Speaker
  • Not the audience but the Author

Hence, there is only ONE sacred text and we didn’t determine that to be the case when we became people of the book (Christians); rather, God determined it when He inspired and directed its writing.

“Scripture, every passage of it, was breathed out by God.” -II Tim. 3:16

The term “breathed out” gives rise to the word inspiration. Scripture is inspired and breathed out by God. It is why it is true, authoritative, and inerrant.

a. Inspiration is the way some versions of the Bible translate “breathed out”. What does inspiration mean? God, through His Spirit, moved the authors of scripture to record His very words. While using their skills, experiences, languages, and styles God authored the Scripture through its various authors. II Peter 1:21 – “above all you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.”

b. As the inspired Word of God it is the inerrant Word of God - without mistake!

A text is sacred, not because it is ours, but precisely because it is HIS; His self-revelation and self-communication with us. The truth of all truth is that in the sacred Scripture God reveals His love for us. Interestingly enough that love is seen most clearly in the destruction of a Sacred Text.

+ Not a text of paper and ink, but one of flesh and blood
+ Not words written on a page, but Word made flesh among us
+ Not in a parking lot, but on a hill outside Jerusalem,

…when the INCARNATE WORD OF GOD, Jesus Christ, suffered and died in our place to release us from sin’s prison, to open our eyes to the grace, love, and truth of God, and to DECLARE US sacred!

Which leads us back to the beginning…
So I ask you, how ought we, people declared to be sacred through faith in Christ and called to live sacred lives by the guidance of His Spirit, testify to the sacred truth of the Scripture? By destroying someone else’s text or by breathing ours in so that we might breathe it out to others?

-Pastor Kevin Kritzer

Monday, September 20, 2010

The One Year Bible- September 20th

There is an art to discipline. Being a classroom teacher for many years always reminded me that for every student there is a way of dealing with his or her behavior. Sometimes they need to be yelled at, other times they need to feel loved. But there is always that one child where nothing seems to work. No matter what you say, they still make poor decisions; they still put their foot in their mouth. While reading through Isaiah, I get the feeling that he tried everything to get the people to listen. He used harsh words, he used loving words, and nothing seemed to work. His message was very important for their well being. If they would listen, they would be saved. At times it seems like Isaiah (and the other prophets as well) is just repeating himself. What else could he do? He was called by God to be His mouthpiece. Sometimes it comes down to being faithful to the calling you have received and not worrying about how the message is received. That’s my two cents for the day. On to the study...

Seth’s Thoughts

The Old Testament
The major theme of Isaiah is the proclamation of what will happen to those who do not put their trust in Yahweh. Isaiah has a simple message for all the countries: you will be destroyed. This same message is for Israel as well, with one caveat; there will be a remnant. This faithful remnant will return to the Promised Land ready for the coming of the Messiah. One neat thing I read this week revolved around the idea of applying the book of Isaiah to our lives in the 21st century. The book was not initially written to us, but it is preserved for us. The question is why? Many things come to light when answering this question. First of all, Isaiah’s warnings should ring true for us today. The same warnings he gave to Israel, we should heed today. We must put God first, and look to him for wisdom and strength. Second, Isaiah is preserved because of its wonderful Messianic prophecy. Can you imagine Christmas or Easter without quotes from Isaiah? A third thing I read, and I am still digesting, is the idea that just as Israel needed to watch its alliances with other countries, because of the problems that can develop (think about Isaiah’s warnings about Egypt), we also need to watch what things we ally ourselves with. We need to watch who we hang out with and spend time with. We must be careful of those close to us and their influence upon us. Chapter 36 begins a narrative section that gives some insights on the events from the reign of King Hezekiah. This is a neat section that shows how even when all seemed doomed, God rescued his people. Even after this, a few years later Jerusalem is destroyed and the people are taken into captivity.

The New Testament
I love Paul’s letter to the Galatians!! Many Bible scholars see the wonderful theology of Romans in an infant form in this smaller letter. Galatians shares many of the same themes and analogies as the longer letter to the Romans. Remember that Paul was not writing to one church. This letter went to all the churches in the area that Paul founded on his first missionary journey. I am sure Paul had fond memories of his very first mission trip and the people he saw and taught. These were memories he would cherish his whole life. I will never forget my very first class of students as a teacher. Some of the other years are a bit fuzzy at times but that first class will always be with me. Paul has some strong emotions for what he has heard from the believers in Galatia. Right from the get-go Paul tries to snap them out of the influence of a group known as the Judaizers. This group of people demanded that to become a Christian, one first had to convert to Judaism. The person must fulfill all the requirements of the law before being allowed to become a part of the community of believers. Paul was strongly opposed to any such group. He believed that these people were taking the free gift of God and turning it into a work. This was quite contrary to the message of Jesus Christ. The argument was settled by the church at the first Jerusalem council where it was agreed that one did not have to first become Jewish before believing in Jesus as the Messiah. The balance of the letter addressed this same issue. In Chapter one Paul lays it down, But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!(Gal. 1:8-9 NIV). Strong words from a passionate man. Paul goes on with saying that faith in the Law is worthless. Trying to gain salvation by the Law is hopeless for sinful people. Paul reminds the people of Abraham, the father of the promise. The Jews considered Abraham to be one of the big guys and we now live according to that same promise because of Jesus. In one of the best passages in all of Paul’s letters we find this, But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons. Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, "Abba, Father." So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir.” (Gal 4:4-7 NIV). I could probably write a dissertation on these verses!!! To me they spell out the clear message of salvation. We were slaves, but Jesus adopted us as sons and we now enjoy all the blessing of being his own. I can’t imagine better news!!! Most of the rest of the letter spells out the difference between following the law and the ideas of the Judaizers in contrast to living in the Grace of Jesus Christ. One quick note on the fruit of the spirit; notice it does not say fruits (plural), it says fruit (singular). The Holy Spirit produces all of these things in our lives!!

Bits and Pieces

The Old Testament
We will be finishing up the first part of Isaiah and start the second (remember the divisions from last week). The second part, which starts at chapter 40 is more focused on future events. Isaiah will be writing about things that will happen beyond his own lifetime. There will be a lot said of Israel’s salvation and savior. The return from exile will be a major theme with an emphasis on redemption. Isaiah will still give warnings but his audience has changed and so has his message.

The New Testament
We will finish up Galatians this week and jump right into Ephesians. Here are the vital stats for the book of Ephesians:

PURPOSE: To Strengthen the believers in Ephesus in their Christian faith by explaining the nature and purpose of the church, the body of Christ


TO WHOM WRITTEN: The church at Ephesus, and all believers everywhere

DATE WRITTEN: About A.D. 60, from Rome, during Paul’s imprisonment

SETTING: The letter was not written to confront any heresy or problem in the churches. It was sent with Tychicus to strengthen and encourage the churches in the area. Paul had spent over three years with the Ephesian church. As a result, he was very close to them. Paul met with the elders of the Ephesian church at Miletus (Acts 20:17-38)—a meeting that was filled with great sadness because he was leaving them for what he thought would be the last time. Because there are not specific references to people or problems in the Ephesian church and because the words “at Ephesus” (1:1) are not present in some early manuscripts, Paul may have intended this to be a circular letter to be read by all the churches in the area.

KEY VERSES: “There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope when you were called—one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all” (4:4-6 NIV).

KEY PEOPLE: Tychicus, Paul

SPECIAL FEATURES: Several pictures of the church are presented: body, temple, mystery, new man, bride, and soldier. This letter was probably distributed to many of the early churches.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Bethany Bullet - September 13, 2010

There is a difference between getting a LECTURER and a TEACHER for a class leader. A lecturer works in a manner that is static, a teacher works in a manner that is dynamic.

In Christ’s culture and era, rabbis went out and taught. They found a stump – expounded, reflected, exhorted, and waited for students to return, stick around, and then pledge themselves to the teaching.

Jesus was no ordinary rabbi. He enlisted His students or more correctly His disciples. A disciple is not merely a pupil – for a student is an adherent of what is taught; a disciple is an imitator of the one who is teaching. Unlike other rabbis, Jesus didn’t wait for a class list and then read off the names to see who had enrolled – He called their names and enrolled them – you, Peter, leave the nets; you, Matthew, drop the 1040 form; you, James and John, let you father take care of the family business – you follow me! It is a radical approach to education. This approach He has used on you too. Jesus is your Rabbi and your Teacher. In the waters of Baptism He called your name, made you His own, and then said, now, “Follow me.”

As students go, our GPA’s (grade point averages) are far from 4.0’ers. Over and over again we’ve failed to live the lessons He taught…

  • “Be perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect.” How you doing with that one?

We’ve failed over and over again to complete the tasks assigned…

  • “Love the Lord your God with 100% of everything you got 100% of the time.” Any better there?

Even our citizenship leaves much to be desired…

  • “Love thy neighbor as yourself.” Merit any demerits with that one?

For failing students like us the Teacher Himself was detained before religious and state officials alike, suspended between heaven and earth on a cross, and expelled from the Father’s own presence as He was rejected. In order, He has called us to be His own beloved disciples and then send us.

You are not simply a student of Christ’s, you are His disciple. Students get what the teacher knows, disciples get who the teacher is! He is your Creator, your Savior, Equipper, and Friend; He is your ever present Instructor. A student is devoted to a teaching, cause, or an ideology; disciples are devoted to a person.

You’ve received His CALLING! In Baptism He has called out your name, when faith came alive in you, He called your name – follow me! Faith is not like a semester schedule – there are no breaks, no weekends, no holidays off. Discipleship is 24/7, 365. While there are no grades, salvation is free; discipleship is more expensive than tuition, it requires your life.

For your Teacher sees in His students something they didn’t see in themselves – restored, redeemed, and renewed by GRACE. He sees in them the request ability to change the world, “Go and make disciples.”

-Pastor Kevin Kritzer

The One Year Bible- September 13th

This is my sixth year in a row reading through The One Year Bible. Each time I do it I see new things and my routine of reading is a bit different. Most days I have been pretty good about reading in the mornings right when I get to the office. As soon as I get in I close my door, and vow not to turn on the computer or listen to voicemail until I have done my reading. This has worked pretty well. I hope you are finding a time and a routine that is working for you. It is amazing how God continues to speak to us through his word every day. I hope you are finding that being in the word has been a blessing to you and your life with Christ. On to the study...

Seth’s Thoughts

The Old Testament
The book of Song of Songs is unique to scripture. It my mind it is like a Broadway Musical (but rated at least PG-13). We have the lovely song of the young woman, with a response from her true love. The chorus comes in on occasion to fill out the story. I love the point, counterpoint of the verses and the overarching theme of love. On the surface this book is all about young love. Going a bit deeper, there is another story at work. A frequent image in the Old Testament of the relationship between God and Israel is that of husband and wife. God loves his chosen bride, Israel and would do anything to keep that relationship in tact. God continues to care for Israel no matter what. But Israel is unfaithful. She goes off and does he own thing. She gets into trouble and turns her back on God. But God’s love is amazing. It continues to love in all circumstances. This theme will be played out in the book of Hosea as well. This relationship is also seen in how Jesus relates to his bride the church. When all is going well, love abounds and beautiful music is made. But often times we, as the church, mess things up. We fall away and become unfaithful. The moral of all the stories is God is faithful no matter what. His love endures to the ends of the earth and conquers time and space.

The book of the prophet Isaiah is considered by many Biblical scholars to be the theological textbook of the Old Testament. Many key doctrines and themes that form the foundation of faith and relationship to God are found within its pages. Martin Luther says that the, “chief and leading theme of all the prophets is their aim to keep the people in eager anticipation of the coming Christ.” Isaiah is an amazing book. Let me give you a few of my personal insights and some key themes this week. We will have plenty of time to talk about this most wonderful book. First of all Isaiah did not sit down and write the book in one sitting. This is more like a journal of the prophet and his dealings with God and the kingdom of Judah. The events take place over the entire life of the prophet. It is important to have this perspective when reading. There is a marked division in the book. Chapters 1-39 are directed to the time of Isaiah. Chapters 40-66 are a vision of the future captivity in Babylon. The second part is filled with figurative language as Isaiah struggled to relate his visions to his contemporaries. I find it interesting to note that there are 39 chapters in the first part and 27 chapters in the second part of Isaiah. Remember there are 39 books in the Old Testament and 27 in the New Testament. Pretty cool, huh?? Some have even called Isaiah “The Bible in Miniature”. Now I would not press the analogy too far but it does make one stop and think. One other thing of note is the mention of “The Holy One of Israel”. Most theologians agree that this term makes reference to the Messiah. This is the one who will deliver the people from oppression and bring about an eternal kingdom. When you come across this term, spend some time looking at the context and see if you can see Jesus there. I will have a lot more to say in the next few weeks.

The New Testament
We finished up 2 Corinthians today, and what a finish. Paul gives some great instruction right at the end. One thing we have heard here at Bethany is the idea of “my stuff is not my stuff”. Paul tells the Corinthians just this same thing in Chapter 9. Giving to God comes from the heart. In chapter 10 Paul spends some time on boasting. He says that boasting about what has happened within the boundaries of the work of God is a good thing. We must rejoice in what God is doing, and we can boast in Him at all times. In Chapter 11 Paul gives his defense for being an apostle. Paul lays it all out on the line and asserts that his message is valid and useful. Paul’s over all theme here at the end is about being proud and arrogant. He gives us a glimpse into his personal life when he admits to some sort of “thorn in the flesh”. We are not sure what this was. Speculation ranges from an ulcer, to a mental disability, to a physical deformity. What is was is beside the point, the fact is it has kept him humble and focused in service to his Lord. Paul wraps it all up in Chapter 13. I love his closing words, Finally, brothers, good-by. Aim for perfection, listen to my appeal, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.” (2 Corinthians 13:11 NIV). In just a few sentences, Paul summarizes what it means to live the Christian life.

Bits and Pieces

The Old Testament
Remember to read Isaiah like you just picked up the journal of the prophet. This week we will read entries that contain prophecies against Moab, Damascus, Cush, Egypt, Babylon, Edom, Arabia, Jerusalem, and Tyre. Isaiah will enter some songs of praise to God and deliverance of Israel. There will be woes to Ephraim, David’s city, the obstinate Nation, and to those who rely on Egypt. Chapter 36 begins a section of prose and gives some of the historical context for the prophecy. Keep looking for “The Holy One of Israel” as you read.

The New Testament
We move on to the book of Galatians this week. Here are the vital stats for the book:

PURPOSE: To refute the Judaizers (who taught that Gentile believers must obey the Jewish Law in order to be saved), and to call Christians to faith and freedom in Christ


TO WHOM WRITTEN: The churches in southern Galatia founded on Paul’s first missionary journey (including Iconium, Lystra, Derbe), and Christians everywhere

DATE WRITTEN: About A.D. 49 from Antioch, prior to the Jerusalem council (A.D. 50)

SETTING: The most pressing controversy in the early church was the relationship of new believers, particularly Gentiles, to the Jewish laws. This was especially a problem for the converts and for the young churches that Paul had founded on his first missionary journey. Paul wrote to correct this problem. Later, at the council in Jerusalem, the church leaders officially resolved the conflict.

KEY VERSE: “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” (5:1)

KEY PEOPLE: Paul, Peter, Barnabus, Titus, Abraham, false teachers

KEY PLACES: Galatia, Jerusalem

SPECIAL FEATURES: This letter is not addressed to any specific body of believers and was probably circulated to several churches in Galatia.

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