Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Bethany Bullet - August 29, 2012

We have almost finished our study of the letter to the Ephesians this summer.  This past Sunday we finished up chapter 5.

22 Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

Wow, what a place to start.  But what does it mean to “submit?”

For many years now this word “submit” has conveyed only negative connotations.  Mostly because being submissive is the result of some negative force imposing its own will; that is not what is happening here.

The root of this word means “to rank people or things in order, under some specific pattern.”  It does NOT imply inferiority or lesser value, let alone superiority.  Perhaps subordinate would be a better, but not perfect translation. 

Perhaps a baseball analogy can help here.  My apologies to you if you are not a baseball fan, but I think you will still get my point. 

Take the case of the pitcher and the catcher, both are on the same side and have the same objective; both want to make their contribution to winning the game, to get the batter out and to retire the side.  But the things they do are quite different.

Usually it is the catcher who decides what pitch should be thrown.  The two have probably made a game plan, looked over the lineup card, looked at hitting charts and tendencies and have agreed on a course of action, but during the game it is the pitcher who submits to the will of the catcher.

That doesn’t mean he can’t shake off a pitch or that there might not be an occasional conference at the mound, but in general, the catcher calls the pitches.

Does that mean that the catcher is better than the pitcher?  Is the pitcher inferior because he submits to the catcher’s selection of pitches? Not at all!! In fact it is usually the pitcher who gets the glory.

They both recognize that each can’t be doing their own thing if they want to win the game.  Somebody has to decide whether a fastball or a change-up is more likely to strike Casey out.  If the catcher does not know what pitch is coming, there could be disaster.  It is a matter of assigned roles, a designated order of things. 

In baseball when things go perfectly between pitcher and catcher, who gets the credit? The pitcher! In Major League Baseball there have been only 23 perfect games. Granted there have been three thrown this year, the latest coming just a few weeks ago in Seattle, when Felix Hernandez faced just 27 batters and got them all out.  Who was the catcher that day? Anyone?  It was John Jaso (JAY-so). Who? Perhaps if it was a local story we might know. 

I have heard many pitchers when interviewed after a great outing give credit to their battery mate.  “You know, I just trusted in John, that he knew what he was doing and just threw what he called.  He called a great game today.” To be perfect, he had to submit.  Submission is not always a bad thing.

You know, Jesus has called us to be perfect.  At the end of the Sermon on the Mount, after Jesus describes the behavior of those who are to follow him ends the section with this phrase, “Be perfect as your heavenly father is perfect.”  (Matthew 5:48)

Be perfect!?!  What??  In baseball it is rare, but in life?  How are we to be perfect?  Just ask Major League Pitcher Armando Galarraga. It was June of 2010 and Galarraga was on fire.  He was one out away from a perfect game in Detroit.  An easy grounder to the right side, sent Galarraga to cover first.  But as he steps on the bag, the umpire called safe, upon further review the runner should have been called out.  Galarraga did everything right but was not perfect that day.

There are so many things that prevent us from being perfect.  Any time we sin or do something that God does not like, we are no longer perfect.  It just takes one thing to break up the perfect game of our life.  In fact, we never even started out perfect.  We were sinners from the beginning.

But in humanities greatest need, Christ submitted to the will of the Father and took a trip to the mound.  He humbled himself, took on our flesh, was perfect for us, traveled to the hill of Calvary and died a death meant for us.  Jesus, God in the flesh expressed unconditional love as he took the signs from the father, submitted to HIS plan, and was perfect for us.  His actions were not intended to get us out, but to bring us home. 

Submission is not such a bad thing.  Paul continues…
25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church— 30 for we are members of his body.

While Paul uses marriage as his analogy here, his point is made clear in verse 25.  Husbands can love their wives because Christ unconditionally loved the church. 
We have been called to submit to Christ, to let Him take the lead, to follow Him and in so doing we become wrinkle free, spotless and sparkling. 

There was a time in my life when every morning I woke up early to iron my shirt and pants.  It was a regular part of my day.  Like clockwork I would set up the ironing board, get the spray starch ready, click on the iron and try to get the wrinkles out.  It was something that had to be done daily. Eventually I learned of shirts that are wrinkle free and my life changed. As I get older I have begun to see other wrinkles, not in cloth but in skin.  As age and sun have taken a toll on my face, the evidence is clear.  Now some might consider them laugh lines but let’s be honest, they are more like worry lines than anything else.  These wrinkles are something I try to deal with as well.  Daily moisturizer and sunscreen are now a part of my morning routine.  In an attempt to halt the ravages of time and age I still battle wrinkles. 

There are many times when we want to try to get the wrinkles out of our lives by ourselves. We make attempts to fix the relationships that we have broken; we try to smooth over the rough words that were said in haste.  We try to clean up the spills and blemishes of our own lives.  But the more we try, the worse things seem to get.  When we do not live “under” Christ and the cross things seem to get out of hand. 

God loves you so much and in His desire for you to be clean, Jesus took the wrinkles and dirt of your sin, the blemishes and spots of selfishness and has given you His radiant righteousness. God’s unconditional love makes you perfect in His sight.

Let’s get back to our text…
31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” 32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

You see, Paul calls this a mystery, but that does not mean that it is impossible to understand, but it is something we cannot figure out on our own.  The real mystery is the one-way love of Christ; for He redeemed weak and worthless sinners and has gathered them together in His church to be His bride.

Christ died to make you holy, clean and perfect, to take away your sin, to smooth out your wrinkles, to clear your blemishes.  There is not an iron hot enough or a cream powerful for us to do it on our own but Jesus desires for you to be his perfect holy bride. 

Those who are in Christ Jesus will one day, in heaven experience what it will be like as we are presented to Christ on the last day as his radiant bride, without stain or winkle, or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 

Submission is not a bad thing, not in a marriage and not in our relationship with our Lord.  God has given us an order of things, and as we look to his word, we see the signs and let him take the lead, for because of him perfection is ours. 
-Pastor Seth Moorman

Monday, August 27, 2012

The One Year Bible- August 26th

*Sorry for the late post today* 

Seth’s Thoughts

The Old Testament
There are so many different interpretations of the book of Job that it can be rough trying to figure out what this book is all about. I could give you my two cents from my studies but I came across the following passage in a commentary on the book of Job and I want to share it with you all toady.

Rudolph E. Honsey, in his commentary on the book of Job says the following:

In order to understand and profit from a study of Job, we must come to grips with the question: “What is the theme?” Many suggestions have been given. A common one is “Patience in Suffering.” A more specific theme is “Why Does a Righteous God Permit a Good Man to Suffer So Intensely?” One can also see a three part theme (1) God is worthy of love even apart from the blessings He bestows; (2) God may permit suffering as a means of purifying and strengthening the soul in godliness; (3) God’s thoughts and ways are moved by considerations too vast for the puny mind of man to comprehend.

All of those themes are prominently set forth in the book of Job. Job surely suffered severely, and the troubles he experienced must have taxed his patience to the limit. But we must not overlook the important conversation between God and Satan in the two opening chapters of the book. When God commended Job and referred to him as a God-fearing man, Satan challenged him and asked permission to test him to the limit with severe afflictions. God consented to allow Satan to afflict Job, but added the condition that he must spare his life. God was confident that Job would not loose his faith in him even though he would be severely tried. Job’s faith in God might frequently falter and waver, but in the end it would stand up even against the strongest assaults of Satan.

We must not forget that in the opening verse Job is described as a man who was “blameless and upright” and who “feared God and shunned evil.” In his great suffering and pain Job said things he should not have said and would not have said under other circumstances. He spiritual condition had its ups and downs. But in the end Job humbled himself before God and submitted to his will. He was truly a man of faith and God later blessed him more richly than he had earlier blessed him.

Although Job’s message was originally proclaimed centuries ago, it is a message that continues to fit the conditions of mankind. We can benefit from reading and rereading this book.

Ever since our first parents fell into sin in the Garden of Eden, sin has been very much a part of our experiences. Sin has brought with it many consequences: misunderstandings, troubles, grief, pain, sickness, and death. All of us as sinners are inclined to be judgmental and to point a finger at other as did the three friends of Job. Like them we may be tempted to draw the conclusion that great suffering is a direct consequence of some special sin, which is not necessarily the case. All of us are tempted to make ourselves look better by making others look worse. While it is often true that a person who commits a certain sin may have to suffer the consequences (for example, a drunken driver who has an accident and maims or kills himself), it is also true that God uses troubles and afflictions to test and strengthen the faith of a Christian. That was pointed out by the young man Elihu, who spoke after Job’s three other fiends had stopped speaking.

For Christians today as well as for Old Testament believers the afflictions that God permits us to endure are not punishment but wholesome chastisement, a disciplining exercise to strengthen our faith.
There is more to the book of Job than the story of a good man who suffered many things and engaged in a prolonged dialog with three friends who actually did more harm than good in their attempts to comfort him. This book also has a Messianic content in a number of passages that point to the coming Savior, Jesus Christ. The most notable of these is the great “Redeemer” passage (19:23-27). [See also 17:21]
The book of Job, as does all the Old Testament, points forward to Jesus Christ, who not only frequently quoted from the Old Testament but also stated that those Scriptures testified of him (see John 5:39). Apart from God’s love for us in Jesus Christ we will be unable to grasp the real message of this book. The real contents of the book of Job is the mystery of the Cross: the Cross on Golgotha is the solution of the enigma of every cross; and the book of Job is a prophecy of this final solution.

It is our hope and prayer that God the Holy Spirit will work in our hearts as we read this precious book, a book that is not read as thoroughly or as frequently as it deserves to be read. The apostle Paul’s words about the Old Testament are true also of the book of Job: “Everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope” (Romans 15:4).

From: The Peoples Commentary Bible: Job, Rudolph E. Honsey, Concordia Publishing House, p.p.6-9.

What a great way to end our look at Job this week.

The New Testament
I will try to keep this section short since we are heading to a long post already. In our readings this week Paul continued talking about the resurrection of the dead and his words provide confidence that not only has Jesus been raised from the dead, we too will conquer death because of Jesus. Paul quotes from the prophet Hosea when he writes, "Death is swallowed up in victory."  "O death, where is your victory?  O death, where is your sting?" (1 Cor. 15:54b-55 ESV) What a great gospel message for us. We tend to read this passage at Easter, but its effects are for every day of the year. Thanks be to God!! Just a few other things; I like the encouragement we read from Paul in chapter 16. It reminds me of what was said by Moses to Joshua in the Old Testament, “Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men,  be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.” ( 1 Cor. 16:13-14 ESV). Thanks for the great words Paul. Verse 21 of that same chapter is pretty cool. It was the custom in Paul’s day to have a professional scribe write your important and official letters. Paul does the same thing but in 16:21 Paul takes the pen and gives a greeting in his own handwriting. I would love to have seen it. This is a very personal touch and shows the love Paul has for this Church. I also found it quite interesting that we read at the beginning of  2 Corinthians about comfort in our troubles. It would have been nice to share this with Job, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God”. (2 Cor. 1:3-4 ESV). Paul spends some time talking about the “Old Covenant”. This is not a simple reference to the Old Testament. It is more about the newness that is in Christ. Many Jewish believers had a difficult time letting go of the Law. To them it was what saves. Paul tells them that even though the Law is good, the new covenant in Christ is much better. I once again thought of Job in the reading for today. Paul’s words give me hope, “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.” (2 Cor. 4:8-10 ESV). WOW!!!! That is some AWESOME stuff. AMEN!!!!!

Bits and Pieces

The Old Testament
We will finish up Job this week and then head on into Ecclesiastes. Here are the vital stats for the book:

PURPOSE: Life without God (i.e., “under the sun”) is empty; the only rescue from such emptiness comes from God as He brings us to fear, love, and trust in Him and His word.
AUTHOR: Solomon
TO WHOM WRITTEN: Solomon’s subjects in particular, and all people in general
DATE WRITTEN: Probably around 935 B.C., late in Solomon’s life
LAW THEMES: For natural man, life and success have no real significance; foolishness hastens destruction; life is dissatisfying.
GOSPEL THEMES: Favoring us on account of  Christ, the Creator graciously provides for us in every season and time; by bringing us to fear, love, and trust in Him, He gives us true wisdom.
SETTING: Solomon was looking back on his life, much of which was lived apart from God
KEY VERSE: “Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man” (12:13 NIV).

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Bethany Bullet - August 21, 2012

We have been walking through Paul’s letter to the Ephesians this summer and this past Sunday we began with Chapter 5.

Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be partners with them.

Empty words, many are the words of the world, most of them empty.  The world says: 
  • If it feels good, do it….empty words. 
  • God doesn’t really exist…empty words. 
  •  Why do you listen to all of that religious bologna? …empty words. 

All too often we have given in to empty words.  Perhaps empty words have even come out of our mouths as well.  Our sinful flesh delights in the empty words of the world and loves to cower in the dark corners of this world.  In fact, we love the perceived protection the darkness affords and we avoid the light that comes from the word made flesh, Jesus Christ.

But my friends the darkness of the world does not protect. Many unseen traps and roadblocks, hazards and obstacles are lurking, and in no time we find ourselves in pain, feeling their effects.

If you have kids, you may know exactly what I mean.  Nothing can prepare you for it, no amount of schooling, no books, no blogs, no workshops or conversations; the lurking threat of the rogue Lego. 

You know the one, that lone brick, blending beautifully with the carpet.  With the lights turned out, it finds its mark, your bare feet, making a bleared eyed trip to the kitchen to brew that first pot of coffee or an early morning dash to the restroom a painful proposition.  You dare not cry out because the baby is sleeping, but the pain is intense.  If only you had some night vision goggles with a Lego laser finder.  Who would have thought that little block could do so much damage? 

Perhaps it was at that time when some empty words came spewing from your mouth; words, not mentioned in mixed company, let alone church.  You know what I mean…

In a practical sense, we know that living in darkness is not a good thing. Paul continues…

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) 10 and find out what pleases the Lord. 11 Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. 13 But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, 14 for it is light that makes everything visible. This is why it is said:

“Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”

Notice how Paul turns up the heat here.  He does not just say that we used to live in the darkness.  Look at it again, he says “For you were once darkness.”  This is not a passive; woe is me kind of thing.  It is not that we just happened to be living in a dark world at no fault of our own, but WE are the darkness.  If that doesn’t make you shake in your boots, it should. 

But Paul sets up a stark contrast in the second half of verse 8.  Listen to the words carefully, “…but now, you are the light in the Lord.” 

Christians do not simply live enlightened lives, they literally become light!  Not only have we been influenced by the light of Christ be we now become influencers in the world that quite literally bring the light of Jesus into the world.  Scripture calls us to LIVE as children of the light!  Have nothing to do with darkness.  Expose fruitless deeds.  Light makes everything visible. 

Jesus told his disciples “You are the salt of the earth….you are the light of the world” (Matthew 5:13, 14).  He didn’t say, “You really should be the salt of the earth” or “Strive to become the light of the world”.  God’s people are light!

WAKE UP!!  RISE FROM THE DEAD!!  Christ will shine on you!!!

What are the Lego pieces that are strewn in your path?  What do you find yourself falling victim to over and over again.  
  • Is it the destructive behavior tearing apart your marriage? 
  • Is it the substance that captivates and controls you? 
  •  Is it the empty words spoken to others? 

Perhaps the Lego pieces are not of your own making.  
  • Perhaps it is the lack of employment, or the results of a blood test. 
  • Could it be the loneliness that comes because the love of your life has died?  
  •  Is the darkness of fear, or anxiety, or abuse creeping in on you again?  
  • Are you groping around in the dark, fumbling and frantically searching for comfort?

WAKE UP!!  RISE FROM THE DEAD!!  Christ will shine on you!!!

Exposing the dark things of this life is not fun, but it is necessary to live as a child of the light.  And on our own we are dead!!

But remember it was Jesus who did the rising.  It was by the actions of the true light of the world, Jesus that the world woke up to the reality of sin.  It was the light of Jesus that shined in the darkness, took our darkness, and defeated the darkness so that we could rise and be light. 

The dark things in this life were exposed because the light of world gave up his life, so that you can be a child of the light.  We have awakened to a new reality, one bathed in the light of Christ and we have become children of the light!

Paul continues…
15 Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. 18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. 19 Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, 20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

Paul tells us to be very careful how you live.  In realty Paul provides two paths here; walking in the dark or in the light.  An unwise move would be to live in the dark, playing the part of that rogue Lego, separated from others and poised for pain. 

The wise move would be to build others up and walk in such a way as to shine the light of Christ on others making the most of every opportunity and to be filled with the Spirit, which is not a false sense of elation and empty feelings that may come with overindulgence of drink but filled with the true power of the Holy Spirit to build the body of Christ. 

When we speak to one another with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs here in God’s house, we shine the light of Christ and we build each other up. 

When we sing and make music to the Lord, when we give thanks to God the Father for everything we live as children of the light. 

One thing you may notice about these Lego pieces, they are different shapes, sizes and colors, not unlike the people gathered here today.  Gathered in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ we come together to build each other up. 

Sometimes we don’t know what part we may play in the bigger scheme of things.  Perhaps we provide the base, perhaps it is part of a wall, but we are all important.  When we understand that it was the Lord’s will to build his people into the church, to gather for worship, to sing and make music and to give thanks, we participate and experience the grace of God and to shine HIS light in all we do.   

Let us pray…

-Pastor Seth Moorman

Monday, August 20, 2012

The One Year Bible, August 20th

When I was in fourth grade I was in a school musical called “Esther and the King of Persia”. Now I was only in the chorus, but I had a ball. It was my first time on stage and the first time I remember hearing about the story of Esther. I remember an eighth grader named Johnny, who played to part of the king was awesome and I was scared of the guy who played Hamen. Since that day I have loved the story of Esther. I can still recall many of the songs we sang and some of the hand motions too. It was great to read an entire book in just a few days this week. This will happen again when we get into some of the smaller books of the Old and New Testaments. On to the study...
Seth’s Thoughts
The Old Testament
Like I mentioned last week, the events in the book of Esther take place before Nehemiah. This book was hotly contested when it was time to determine what books were in and out of the scriptures. In about 200 BC, Esther was almost taken out of the scriptures by Jewish theologians. There is no mention of YAHWEH or overt mention of God at all. Many believed it to be a secular historical account of the beginnings of the festival of Purim. One of the big things in the book of Esther for me is the idea that God is moving in history. By His guidance, both Esther and Mordecai were in the right place at the right time. They were used by God to bring about the deliverance of the chosen people and made for sure that the remnant would return. This took place so that prophecy about the Messiah would be fulfilled. Esther gives us insight into how God continues to act in this world for His will to be done. A lasting event from the story of Esther is the celebration of Purim. I found this on Wikipedia:
Purim (Hebrew: פורים Pûrîm) is a joyous Jewish holiday that commemorates the deliverance of Persian Jews from the plot of the evil Haman to exterminate them, as recorded in the biblical Book of Esther. It is characterized by public recitation of the Book of Esther, giving mutual gifts of food and drink, giving charity to the poor, and a celebratory meal (Esther 9:22); other customs include drinking alcohol, wearing of masks and costumes, and public celebration. Purim is celebrated annually on the 14th of the Hebrew month of Adar. As with all Jewish holidays, Purim begins at sundown on the previous secular day.

We started the book of Job this week as well. I will spend more time in the coming weeks on this book. The one thing I want you to watch out for is you need to know who is speaking. At times it is Job but other times it is his friends, Eliphaz, Bildad, Zophar or others. Make sure you know who is speaking while you read. We did read about why Job is the way he is. He was a rich man with a big family and a good life. In one day all of that is taken away. This was not by chance, but by a character named Satan (the accuser). Satan talks with God and gets the O.K. to test Job. In Job 9:33-35, I wonder if Job is thinking of Jesus. Read it and let me know what you think. I don’t want to give away too much today but pay attention to how Job reacts at the beginning and how he reacts towards the end of the book.
The New Testament
In our readings from 1 Corinthians, Paul addressed some big issues. Paul warns the church about the divisions that are in it. He mentions that the meal that they share together (called the Lord Supper here) is causing divisions. It is unclear if this was a full-blown meal that the believers shared or if it was just communion. It seems as if Paul thinks it is a full meal. Paul tries to set them straight by reminding them what the Lord’s Supper is all about. He tells of its importance and it is not something to be done lightly. Paul then continues on answering the questions that the church has brought to him. Paul then spends a lot of time talking about spiritual gifts. I think the key comes in when Paul writes, “Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.” (1 Corinthians 12:7 NIV). That is indeed what they are for. They are not to show that one believer is better than another. They are all useful. To show his point, Paul uses the analogy of the human body. This would have worked well for the Greek thinkers in the Church. Like the parts of the body, we all have our place, our unique function within the whole. But most importantly, we need to have love. 1 Corinthians 13 is one of the most famous passages in the New Testament because of its content. Love is the key to how we live our lives. It was what drove Jesus to the cross, and what motivates us today. Two more things Paul addresses: speaking in tongues and the resurrection of the dead. It seems like the Corinthians had some sort of obsession with the gift of tongues (some in the church today to as well). In one of the best one-liners in the New Testament, Paul lays out his belief on the subject, “But in the church I would rather speak five intelligible words to instruct others than ten thousand words in a tongue.” (1 Corinthians 14:19 NIV). Way to go Paul!! I can’t agree more. On to the resurrection of the dead; it seems that there was some influence from either the Sadducees or some Greek thinkers who do not believe in the resurrection of the dead. Paul tackles this issue with some good logic. “If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised.” (1 Corinthians 15:13-15 NIV). Good point Paul.
Bits and Pieces
The New Testament
We will finish off the book of 1 Corinthians and move on the 2 Corinthians. Here are the vital stats for the book:
PURPOSE: To affirm Paul’s ministry, defend his authority as an apostle, and refute the false teachers in Corinth.
TO WHOM WRITTEN: The church in Corinth, and Christians everywhere
DATE WRITTEN: About A.D. 55-57, from Macedonia
SETTING: Paul had already written three letters to the Corinthians (two are now lost). In 1 Corinthians (the second of these letters), he used strong words to correct and teach. Most of the church had responded in the right spirit; there were, however, those who were denying Paul’s authority and questioning his motives.
LAW THEMES: Divisions in congregations; false apostles; human frailty; poverty in sin; generosity; suffering; self-examination.
GOSPEL THEMES: Comfort in Christ; restoration through forgiveness; reconciliation; wealth in Christ; God’s sufficient grace.
KEY VERSE: “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God” (2 Cor. 5:20)
KEY PEOPLE: Paul, Timothy, Titus, false teachers
KEY PLACES: Corinth, Jerusalem
SPECIAL FEATURES: This is an intensely personal and autobiographical letter.

Monday, August 13, 2012

The One Year Bible- August 13th

With the calendar still showing August it is hard to think that fall is right around the corner. I am looking forward to fall. I love the cooler evenings, and the regular pace of life that begins once school is in session. Fall brings a new school year, new pencils, new challenges and in our Old Testament readings we will be getting into some new territory. The main narrative story of God’s people is over. We will see some more narrative in the prophets but for a while we will have new things, like the books of Esther, Job, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Songs. We will get into the prophets by the second week of September, but for now, enjoy the change of pace and see what God will reveal to you through His word. On to the study…

Seth’s Thoughts

The Old Testament
We finished up the book of Ezra and began the book of Nehemiah this past week. Ezra was a book about a priest and served as a theological perspective to the return of the Exiles. Nehemiah is more of a political book. Nehemiah was in the service of King Artaxerxes as a cupbearer. This was no small job; it was very important. Nehemiah was one of God’s people in exile. He had heard of the return of some of his own people back to the land to rebuild the temple and now he too desired to go. He asked for and received permission from the king and he went back with the purpose of rebuilding the walls of the city so it would be safe from foreign enemies. This was not popular with the governors of the area and they tried to stop the rebuilding of the walls many times. But God’s plan was for the wall and the city to be rebuilt because of his ultimate plan of sending the Messiah to fulfill prophecy. It took just 52 days to finish the wall and after it was completed, the Law (remember Law = writings of Moses) was read to the people and they all rededicated themselves to the LORD. Nehemiah gives us a good history lesson along the way as he reminded the people of the grace of God and his love for the people in spite of their disobedience. For as important as the ministry of Ezra was to the spiritual lives of the people, Nehemiah was to the political life of Jerusalem. The stage was set, the pieces have been put in place, everything was ready for the events to come to pass just as the prophets had foretold. All that was needed was for the fullness of time and the promised Messiah would come.

The New Testament
In our readings in 1 Corinthians we finished up Paul’s introduction with a message on legal matters. His advice is to stay out of the courts when you have a disagreement with another Christian. It just makes you look bad and is a very poor witness to Jesus. In fact it does not honor God when, in the public eye, Christians can’t get along. Paul then moves on to the questions that the church asked him. We do not have a copy of their letter to Paul but we do know how he answered some of their questions. Paul spends a lot of time dealing with marriage. He does not condemn marriage, but he does give some warning about how the desires of the flesh can get us off track spiritually as well as in our relationships. Paul then spends quite a bit of time on the issue of food. Food is something very important to a person of the Old Testament. Food laws were abundant and issues regarding food came up often in the early church. The root of the problem stems from the fact that the early church was multicultural. There were Jews and Gentiles together who had vastly different ideas about food. What was clean and unclean according the groups differed. God had made it perfectly clear that what ever He made clean was clean. This did not mean the people could go “hog wild” (no pun intended). In fact the church needed to be very careful about what it ate. Some people had a hard time with eating foods sacrificed to idols. They wanted to know if they ate the food were they honoring that idol. Then there was the whole problem of what would people think if they saw a believer eating that food. This is a complex issue. Paul tries to break it down, “Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause him to fall.” (1 Cor. 8:13 NIV). And in the next chapter he says, “We put up with anything rather than hinder the gospel of Christ.” (1 Cor. 9:12b NIV). The bottom line is, if it causes someone to stumble or struggle in his or her faith we should try to avoid it at all costs. This has implications for us today. Do we have freedom in Christ? Yes! Can we do whatever we want? Yes, but not everything is beneficial. We must be careful of what we do and how that reflects Christ to the world.

Bits and Pieces

The Old Testament
We will read the entire book of Esther next week. We will also get into the book of Job.

Here are the vital stats for Esther:
PURPOSE: To demonstrate God’s sovereignty and his loving care for his people.  To record the Lord’s providential deliverance of the Judeans from destruction by their enemies in the Persian Empire.
AUTHOR: Unknown, possible Mordecai. Some have suggested Ezra or Nehemiah because of the similarity of the writing style.
DATE WRITTEN: Approx. 483-471 B.C.
SETTING: Although Esther follows Nehemiah in the Bible, its events are about 30 years prior to those recorded in Nehemiah. The story is set in the Persian empire, and most of the action takes place in the king’s palace in Susa, the Persian capital.
KEY VERSE: “For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such as time as this?” (Esther 4:14 NIV)
LAW THEMES: Weakness before one’s enemies due to disobedience; the Lord thwarts grudges and hatred.
GOSPEL THEMES: Preservation of God’s people from whom Jesus would be born; the Lord works constantly for the deliverance of His people.
KEY PEOPLE: Esther, Mordecai, King Xerxes I, Haman
KEY PLACE: The king’s palace
SPECIAL FEATURES: Esther is one of only two books named for women (Ruth is the other). The book is unusual in that in the original version, no name, title, or pronoun for God appears in it. This caused some church fathers to question its inclusion in the canon. But God’s presence is clear throughout the book.

Here are the vital stats for Job:
PURPOSE: The Lord shows He is our Redeemer, despite what we may suffer in life.  It addresses the question, “Why do the righteous suffer?”
AUTHOR: Unknown, possible Job. Some have suggested Moses or Solomon.
DATE WRITTEN: Unknown. Records events that probably occurred during the time of the patriarchs, approx. 2000-1800 BC.
SETTING: The land of UZ, probably located in northeast Palestine, near desert land between Damascus and the Euphrates River.
KEY VERSE: “I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth.” (Job 19:25 NIV)
LAW THEMES: People suffer unduly in a sinful, broken world;  no one can justify himself or herself before God; Satan can tempt people and inflict suffering.
GOSPEL THEMES: God accomplishes His righteous purposes amid and through suffering; the Lord is our Redeemer; the resurrection of the body.
KEY PEOPLE: Job, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, Zophar the Naamathite, Elihu the Buzite.
SPECIAL FEATURES: Job is the first of the poetic books in the Hebrew Bible. Some believe this was the first book of the Bible to be written. This book gives us insights into the work of Satan. Ezekiel 14:14 and James 5:11 mention Job as a historical character.

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