Monday, May 28, 2012

The One Year Bible- May 28th

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I want to remind you today of the main purpose of reading the entire Bible. The Bible has one story and that is about Jesus Christ. There are many, many detours along the way but in some way shape or form the message stays the same. Why bring this up now? First of all we need to be constantly reminded of the reasons to read and study God’s word. Secondly, in today’s study I make some direct references to Jesus in the Old Testament story of David. There is an old adage that says, “Keep the main thing the main thing”. We need to do that with the Bible at all times. That is not to say we need to press every word and make them proclaim Christ but the overarching story is the story of Salvation, which has its completion in the person and work of Jesus. Here is a quote from a great book:

“At the heart of all doctrine is the biblical truth that we are justified by grace through faith in Christ alone. All other teachings relate to this one. God has revealed his truth to us so that we will know and receive salvation in Christ Jesus. All other doctrines prepare for this, reveal this, convey the benefits of Christ to us, and respond to his gracious work. His saving work is the very heart of Scripture and of all true theology.” (p. 22, Called to Believe, Teach and Confess, Edited by Steven Mueller)

Do not forget to keep Christ in mind as you read all parts of the Bible. On to the study...

Seth’s Thoughts

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 (sounds a bit like us doesn’t it??). 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. If David is a type (remember typology) of Christ, as some theologians suggest, 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 find 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 study..... 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, “This is what the LORD says: 'Out of your own household I am going to bring calamity upon you. Before your very eyes I will take your wives and give them to one who is close to you, and he will lie with your wives in broad daylight. (which happens later in the story, YUCK!).... But because by doing this you have made the enemies of the LORD show utter contempt, the son born to you will die’” (2 Samuel 12:11, 14 NIV) 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. Since we just celebrated Pentecost, now is a good time to dig a bit deeper with what this all means. 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 His 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, “When Jesus said, "I am he," they drew back and fell to the ground.” (John 18:6 NIV) 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. We have been over the big issues of this part of the story before, but if you have any questions please let me know.

One thing I want you to look for this week. 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. I know that is sort of a tease but this word is the climax of the salvation story.

Bits and Pieces

The Old Testament
We will be finishing up the book of 2 Samuel this week, move into the book of 1 Kings 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 show that the Lord of history executes the threats and keeps the promises of His holy covenant.
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)
LAW THEMES: The Lord condemns the evil deeds of Israelite and Judean kings who violate the covenant, especially by instituting idolatry.
GOSPEL THEMES: The Lord establishes David’s household through Solomon’s line, from which would come the Messiah’s everlasting kingdom; promised mercies are delivered through the temple services.
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 link the Gospel of Jesus and the service of the 12 apostles with the missionary work of the apostle Paul.
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).
LAW THEMES: Kingdom of God; way of God; call to bear witness; repentance; devotion to the Law; turn to God; call to preach; condemnation of lying; magic; simony; and superstition; resisting the Spirit; persecution; generosity urged.
GOSPEL THEMES: Kingdom of God; way of God; God’s promises fulfilled; resurrection; filled with the Spirit; salvation; Jesus’ name; forgiveness; fear of God; grace; Gospel proclamation.
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.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Bethany Bullet - May 22, 2012

Everyone likes to win and everyone seems to like a winner.  A number of years ago a strange phenomenon began to show itself in the late spring each year.  As the NBA season drew to a close and the playoffs began, cars all around southern California began sprouting gold and purple flags showing support for a certain home team.  Everyone wants to be associated with a winner.

A little over 10 years ago it was comical to root for a certain baseball team playing in Orange County, but a magical run in the playoffs, and the raising of a championship banner created a legion of new fans.  With a slow start to this season, a slumping slugger, and average attendance, interest has started to wane. Everyone loves a winner.

One of the most amazing journeys in sports begins on a sheet of ice. With thunderous hits, wicked slap shots, and superstitions galore, the quest for the cup culminates in intense drama unmatched in the sporting world.  With local royalty still skating in search of it, the cup represents a hard fought victory, a conquest of epic proportions.  Why? 

Watch this YouTube Clip; click HERE.
(*Unable to open link, then copy/paste this into your browser to view:  

The Stanley Cup is unique.  The winner gets possession of it for only a short period of time.  In victory it is held aloft, kissed, hugged, and even used as a receptacle for celebratory champagne. But the cup is given back.  While each player on the winning team gets to spend a day with the cup any way they see fit, the cup will eventually return home to Toronto to await next season’s victors.
We have been walking though John’s first letter and as we wrap it up, we ask the same question, “How’s your walk?” and I will add, “Are you in it to win it?”

Ask any athlete and they will tell you, they play to win, to be victorious. They give all their effort on the field, court, and rink, whatever.  Add any cliché you would like: time to empty the tank, give it all you got, work hard, look for every opportunity, and take it one play at a time…

No matter the cliché, the goal is to win the game. 

In October of 2002, after a loss to the Cleveland Browns, New York Jets head coach Herm Edwards in response to a question about his team’s ability to win said the following, “This is what's great about sports. You play to win the game. Hello? You play to win the game.. When you start tellin' me it doesn't matter, then retire. Get out! 'Cause it matters."

Watch this YouTube Clip of this quote, click HERE.  
(*Unable to open link, then copy/paste this into your browser to view:

There is something else in life that matters even more than sports, something that is not just a game, but something far more important, something eternal, and something with lasting consequences.  That is what John is talking about.

From 1 John chapter 5 starting at verse 4, “for everyone born of God overcomes the world.  This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.  Who is it that overcomes the world?  Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.” (1 John 5:4-5)

The words, “overcome” and “victory” have the same root in the original language.  They both are from a word which means “to conquer,” “to carry off the victory,” “to come off victorious,” “to win.”

The noun of this word is used as the proper name for a goddess you may have heard of, Nike the winged goddess of Greek mythology.  Perhaps you have seen her statue in the Louvre museum as the Winged Victory of Samothrace, which has been prominently displayed in the museum since 1884.
But most likely you know Nike as the corporate magnate that is known for its shoes and athletic apparel, promising victory to those who sport, The Swoosh.

But John is not talking about victory on the field; he is talking about something that matters much more, an eternal victory.

It was a little over a month ago that we celebrated this great victory: victory over death, victory over sin, a victor who has ascended into heaven and has clothed us with power.  As Jesus said, “Take heart, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) And we read in Scripture that in this life we are “more than conquerors.” (Romans 8:37)

But how is that victory made known?  That is the question!

Our victory was assured on Easter and we have been given treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy (Matthew 16:19), but today is the day to bring that victory to others. “We play to win the game, Hello?  We play to win! Cause it matters!!!”

Perhaps you have heard the term, “In it to win it.”  It has been used a lot recently, from politicians to celebrities to sports analysts, but perhaps it is most appropriate for us a Christians. 

From our Gospel lesson for this week, “As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world.” (John 17:18)

As Christians, we are in this world to win this world for Jesus.

We too are on a quest for the cup…the cup of life, to take possession of it, not just for a short period of time but to hold it aloft, to kiss it, hug it, and use is as a receptacle for celebration. 

This cup comes to you today.  You have possession of it; it is placed in your hands, held to your lips as you come face to face with the victory that is yours in Christ.  How?  He comes to you in his holy meal which is a true celebration.  And this is not something that we can keep to ourselves. 

The goal of all athletes is to win, it is a feeling like no other, words cannot describe it, and emotions get the best of us. Don’t you want to share it with the world?
Watch this YouTube Clip to see what I mean, click HERE.
(*Unable to open link, then copy/paste this into your browser to view:

You may not have words to say, but you have been given The Word who speaks to you and through you! You see, this cup is not given back, it’s given away!

We can bring victory to the world through our testimony.  That is what John gets to in our reading for today.  From 1 John 5 verse 10, “Anyone who believes in the Son of God has this testimony in his heart.”  This testimony carries with it the idea of a conversation with another, to tell them something that is true or important. 

You see, victory is achieved when we tell others about Jesus.  As John says in verses 11 & 12, “And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.  He who has the Son as life.”

When we give our testimony, we are “In it, to win it!”  We bring victory to others, we celebrate with others, we hoist the cup together, we have a community that gathers around the cup to celebrate the victory of Jesus and this victory is eternal. 
V  Because it’s the cup! 
V  We play to win the game!
V  Are you in it to win it?
 -Pastor Seth Moorman

Monday, May 21, 2012

The One Year Bible- May 21st

In September of 1990 PBS aired the miniseries “The Civil War” by Ken Burns. It was 11 hours in length and an estimated 40 million viewers watched the premiere episode. More people watched the premier episode of “The Civil War, than watched last season’s finale of American Idol! The Ken Burns film was a hit! It is still one of the most popular shows in the history of public television. Why bring this up? Well the story of David and Saul is a story of Civil War. It is a time where brother fought against brother and many died. The events surrounding the end of Saul’s reign and the beginning of David’s are filled with intrigue and action. I am not sure that 40 million people would tune in to watch it as a miniseries but countless millions have read it and have seen the events unfold in the pages of Scripture. At times there are things that we read that don’t seem right. Some of the stories we find in the Bible are disturbing but we must remember that they are still the word of God and we need to dig to try to find what they mean. That is one of the reasons for this study. I hope that you can start to put it all together as you read. Without further ado, on to the study...

Seth’s Thoughts

The Old Testament
The saga of David and Saul continues in our Old Testament readings this week. The story has its climax towards the end of 1 Samuel. I think that David and Saul had a very co-dependent 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. David 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 cannot forget. 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 name, 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 now 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 and his three sons and his armor-bearer and all his men died together that same day.” (1 Samuel 31:6 NIV) This starts another Civil War and eventually David becomes king. 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 build a place for God or for the Ark. We will see why a bit later.

The New Testament
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 this to be their verse given at confirmation since it is so short. I hope no teachers have used it in that context but nonetheless it is still 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 am telling you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe that I am He.” (John 13:19 NIV) 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 poem. 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. So in the first section each line begins with the Hebrew letter “aleph” and so on for each of the 22 letters. 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.

Monday, May 14, 2012

The One Year Bible- May 14, 2012

The One Year Bible

May 14, 2012

Tom and Jerry, Super man and Lex Luthor, USC and UCLA, Coke and Pepsi, Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant, APPLE and Microsoft; these are just a few of the great antagonistic relationships in pop culture. We all know a great rivalry when we see it; you have the “good” guy and the “bad” guy. You have drama, intrigue, verbal exchanges, misunderstandings and bad blood. One of the best rivalries in literature is found in 1 Samuel. We all know about David and Goliath but a much greater story is David versus Saul. This story has more twists and turns than an episode of General Hospital. There is deception and mistrust, attempted murder and slander. But once again it all points to our need for God and salvation through Jesus Christ. Samuel warned the people that having a king would bring hardship and pain but the people insisted on their own way. This story should serve as an example of God’s patience and mercy; for Jesus came to die for Saul and for David and for us as well. In this twisted tale we see David as the good guy but soon he will be the foil in another story unfit for the family channel. The good news is that in his patience God forgives us and loves us, even as we are mired in our own sin. As you read this tragic story, don’t forget that it serves a purpose to point us to Christ. On to the study…

Seth’s Thoughts

The Old Testament
This week’s readings focused on the beginning 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 still do wickedly, you shall be swept away, you and your king.” (1 Samuel 12:25 ESV) 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). The Hebrew text is rather vague here. It is unclear as to how old Saul was from this text or exactly how long he reigned (If you are reading the ESV you may have noticed the note in the text describing this). The one thing to note is the pattern. 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 out 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 to 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. The ESV translates it as an “evil” spirit and this is accurate to the Hebrew but we need to understand that this was not “evil” in the sense of being from the devil. Nothing “evil” comes from God. The idea here is that it tormented Saul to the point of frustration. One way that Saul dealt with this is to have music played in his presence. David ends up being the one to play his harp in the king’s 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 returns victoriously to Israel and the people chant, “Saul has killed his thousands, and David his ten thousands!” This really gets Saul’s feathers ruffled. “And Saul eyed David from that day on..” (1 Samuel 18:9 ESV) 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 once. 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. Two other things caught my eye in my reading this week. Fist of all when Saul sends his men to David’s house to kill him he escapes and his wife tells them he is sick and in bed. In reality David is not in bed but it is a pillow with goats hair on top. This rouse gave David enough time to escape. Here I thought that the guys who escaped from Alcatraz had a new way of deceiving the guards and David did the same thing years earlier. This coming week we will get a description of the kind of people who were hanging out with David in the caves. The ESV describes them like this, “And everyone who was in distress, and everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was bitter in soul gathered to him. And he became captain over them” (1 Samuel 22:2). Sounds a bit like the “sinners and tax collectors” that Jesus hung around with! It was really just a rag tag bunch of misfits.

The New Testament
John has an amazing way with words, even after it is translated into English. 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? The “I Am” statements in 8:24 & 28 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 some of the “I Am” metaphors. In chapter 8 Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12 ESV) He uses the same metaphor again in chapter 9:5. The “I Am” statements keep flying out of Jesus’ mouth in. 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. 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.

Bits and Pieces
We will move on to the book of 2 Samuel this week. 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 foreshadow 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
LAW THEMES: Barrenness; covetousness; neglect of fatherly duties; unfaithfulness; rejection of God’s rule; failure to keep God’s Word; rash vows; jealousy; divination.
GOSPEL THEMES: The Lord provides leaders; the Lord promises an everlasting kingdom and priesthood; victory in the Lord’s name; godly friendship; blessings through the tabernacle; David’s mercy.
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.

Have a wonderful week!!!

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Bethany Bullet - May 8, 2012

It was the week after Thanksgiving 2011.  Our family had just returned from a week-long adventure at Disney World.  We enjoyed the attractions, relished the amenities, and savored the cuisine.  Upon our return I made a visit to the doctor for a regular check-up.  After checking in, and paying my co-pay, the nurse did some initial tests, temperature, blood pressure, and then I had to step on the scale.  Not a test I like very much. 

I have struggled with my weight for much of my adult life.  I have yo-yoed up and down.  I have been on many diets and have gone low-cal, low-fat, and low-carb, with a low success rate.  So there I was on the scale, taking out my cell phone, my keys, my wallet, I almost kicked off my shoes.  I need all the help I could get.  This “test” did not turn out so well.  I saw a number staring up at me that was far north of anything I had ever seen before.  I tried to not let it bother me, but it did. 

After being ushered into the exam room the doctor came in.  We exchanged pleasantries and then there were more tests.  In a self deprecating way, I admitted that I have not been very active, that my diet was not great, but we had been down that road before.  I don’t think my doctor was buying my song and dance this time.  She was concerned about my weight and family history of heart disease. She scolded me and encouraged me to lose some of the extra pounds and then she said that she needed to run some more tests. 

After filling a couple of vials with my blood I thought I was in the clear.  It was a week later when I received a phone call with my results.  It was not the nurse this time, but the doctor on the line.  Her voice stern and serious, she informed me that the tests came back and the numbers were not good.  I believe her quote was something like, “You have gone from someone with an increased risk of a cardiac event or stroke to someone who has a significant risk of an event in the next five years.  It’s not a matter of if, but a matter of when.  It’s time to tighten up the belt, this is serious.”

In a moment, my life came into focus.  My life was in need of a tune-up.  My family was at risk of losing me.  My walk was poor…in fact there was no walking, let alone any exercising in my life.  My actions were not keeping pace with my appetite. My love of garlic bread would soon make me dead.

A re-evaluation was in order.  A major adjustment in life was necessary and that day I joined weight watchers and am on a journey to get in tune with health.  I have seen some success, my blood tests have shown improvement, the numbers on the scale are better but I still have a ways to go.

Why the story you ask?  Let me ask you a question, “How is your walk?”  I am not talking about your exercise program, although that is important, I am talking about your spiritual walk, your walk in your Christian life.  Are you keeping pace? Do you need a tune-up?  Perhaps it is time for some tests?  Are you nervous, afraid of what the test might show?  Is your life in tune with what Scripture teaches?

If you are brutally honest, you have to admit that your walk is not what it should be.  In reality the tests show you are out of tune with the Holy Spirit, you are in need of a tune up.

We continue to walk in John’s first letter and we are in the fourth chapter.  We will be focusing on the first six verses of chapter four.
“Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone into the world.” (1 John 3:1)

What influences you in your walk with Jesus?  John tells us that there are many false teachers in the world today who are vying for your attention.  What has you captivated?  What controls you?

False prophets may come in many shapes and sizes; they lure us in with captivating messages of power, position, profit, or pleasure. 

Today, John tells us to test these influences or as John says it, “test the spirits”, to measure our walk.

Before we go any further, let us put this in its proper place.  The ultimate test was taken on a Friday outside of Jerusalem, given in blood. The results were delivered on a Sunday as our Savior burst through the open tomb.  Jesus Christ has come into the flesh, he is from God, and he gave up his life on a cross to give us life.  It is because of this great compassion that we live and can walk for him.  He is Risen!  (He is Risen Indeed!)

“This is how you can recognize the Sprit of God: Every spirit that confesses the Jesus Christ has come on the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God.  This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard is coming and even now is already in the world.” (1 John 4:2-3)

Test #1: Do the things that captivate you make a confession of Christ?  Are the things that control you keeping Christ as the cornerstone?  Is the cross central?  If not, John tells us, they are not from God.  Every time you are gathered in this place for worship you are confessing that Jesus Christ has come into the flesh.  As Paul reminds us in the book of 1 Corinthians, “but we preach Christ crucified” (1 Corinthians 1:23a).  Continually confess Christ!

“You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.  They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them.” (1 John 4:4-5)

Test #2: What is the crowd like that surrounds you?  Who are they associated with?  Who listens to them?  What are the things that have crowded out Jesus from your life?  John gives us some great confidence that the one who is in us is greater than the world but those the worldly things that captivate us walk in the wily ways of the world.  Crowds gather to listen to the corruption the world gives.  How often have you been part of the crowd, perhaps even the crowd that shouted, “Crucify, Crucify”?  What crowd are you a part of?  Remember, Jesus is greater than the crowd!

“We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us.  This is how we recognized the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood.” (1 John 4:6)

Test #3: Is there consistency in the message?  The false teachers of the world constantly change their message.  They do not constantly follow the scriptures.  They walk in their own ways.  How often have you followed?  How consistent is your message?  God doesn’t change.  His message is consistent and timeless.

Is it time for a re-evaluation?  Have you failed the test?  Is your walk poor?  Are you keeping pace?  Do you need a tune up? 
  • Confession 
  • Crowd 
  • Consistency

These are the hallmarks of our walk with Jesus.  John reminds us to continually confess Christ, to come together in a crowd here in worship and to be consistent with the message of hope and love that we have been given.  
  • Will you stumble in your walk? Certainly! 
  • Will the message of the world captivate you?  At times! 
  • Will your witness be inconsistent?  Undoubtedly! 
  • Will you struggle to keep pace?  Indeed!

But we have a God who loves us, who brings us hope, who took the test for us, who walked in perfection, and who will pass us on to heaven.  It was the walk that Jesus took to the cross that now empowers us to walk. 

The weight of sin has been removed.  The actions of Jesus have paved the way.  Now it is time to walk in the footsteps of Jesus, who is the way, the truth and the life.  This is the way to live out the words found in 1 John, “Dear friends, let us love one another.” (1 John 4:7)  Grant this Lord unto us all.

-Pastor Seth Moorman

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