Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Bethany Bullet - May 27, 2014

Week 5: A Five Tool Christian – Open Hands

In baseball a “five-tool” player is one who has an arm like a cannon, can run like a deer, has a glove that gets everything, and can hit for both power and average.  Opening Day of the baseball season comes with hopes of a line-up filled with “five-tool” players. 

The past five weeks we have been talking about opening day and baseball has been our analogy.  It was on Easter, that first opening day, which the tomb was open and heaven itself was open for all by the actions of a gracious and loving God and the work of Jesus Christ.

The hope that comes from that first opening day flows to the Christ-fans and encourages us to be 5 tool believers.  For the past few weeks we have talked about the tools of Christian as having: 
  • An Open Heart - opened by the Spirit that clings with confidence to the promises of God in Christ for us, personally.  
  • Open Eyes - that see God at work in our lives and in the lives of others and gaze upon the glory of a God who loved us so much to send Jesus. 
  • Open Ears - as we hear how God speaks to us, through conscience, comrades and clergy, and chiefly through the Word.  
  • Open Mouths - that converse in prayer with the Almighty who is where we are at and will bring us to where He is at and who wants to listen to us.

If you missed the past few weeks you can catch up by downloading the sermon podcast on our website. 

In many ways the first four tools are what prepare us to live out the calling of a Christ-fan, and today we will talk about a tool that will empower us to bring the love of Christ to others as today we talk about Open Hands and what happens when we serve. 

Read (or click on the link): John 14

In baseball, the equipment that the catcher uses is often time referred to as the tools of ignorance, from the notion that a smart athlete would not play such a grueling position.  We might say the tools of a Christ are the tools of obedience. 

The other tools that we have looked at have focused on our relationship to God, our personal growth and development and they are necessary. But having Open Hands is a bit different.  It focuses on how we represent God in the world through our obedient service to Him and to others on His behalf.

Listen to the words of Jesus, “If you love me, you will obey my commandments.” (John 14:15)

Allow me to put that into some baseball terms, “All those on the team will follow the directions of the manager.”

God has claimed us off the waiver wire in baptism where He called us by name, put a new uniform of righteousness upon us and encourages us to have Open Hearts, Open Eyes, Open Ears and Open Mouths

Now He says get to work, with Open Hands; encouraging words from our coach and manager Jesus.

But in life, like in baseball we will not always do the right thing, our eyes will be closed as we attempt to swing, we will not listen to our coach who gives us instruction and often we fail to communicate.  Now, that doesn’t mean we are not part of the team.

I can only speak for myself, but I am sure it is true of most in this room; there have been times I have screwed up.  I have done things without putting my heart into it, I have closed my eyes to the needs around me, and I have not heard the cries of those who need help.  I have not been a very good team player or ambassador for Christ.  If people look at my actions, they would not always see Jesus.  For that I am sorry.

But all still wear the uniform that has the name of Jesus embroidered across the front.  We don the cap of one who has been washed clean in the blood of Jesus.  We all still have a responsibility to be obedient to our Lord, who has called us into faith and charges us with the task of serving with Open Hands and bring the love of God to others. 

For every time my hands were closed, unable or unwilling to serve, His hands were open.  
  • His hands healed the sick, gave sight to the blind, and raised the dead.  
  • His hands embraced the doubting, consoled the grieving and encouraged the repentant. 
  • His hands were folded in prayer as he prayed for his disciples and all those who would believe in them because of their message.  
  • His hands calmed the storm and silenced the wind.  
  • His hands broke the bread and passed the cup.   
  • His hands took the nails for all those times I have sinned.

But Jesus goes on in our text, “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another helper who will be with you forever. That helper is the Spirit of Truth.” (John 14:16-17)

Like a base coach, the Spirit is there to remind you of what you have learned in His Word.  His is like the hitting instructor who will encourage you through your slumps.  He is like the strength and conditioning coach who motivates you to work hard and be ready to serve with Open Hands.

The good news today is that you don’t have to go it alone.  Jesus is not just waiting for you to figure it all out.  Like a great coach he has provided support, comfort and help for you by giving you his Spirit that will help you in every circumstance and will enable you to be an ambassador of Christ with open hands to serve others. 

On Friday, March 28th of this year, just before the start of the Major League Baseball season, Commissioner Bud Selig held a conference call with the media.  During that call he said, “No player in my time has represented this sport any better than Derek Jeter.  He really has in many ways been the face of baseball, and I am proud of him. I've told him that often. He's just been a great player on the field, but to be frank with you, a better person off the field.  Derek for me and for everybody has been the ultimate ambassador for baseball and a role model for fans and the rest of the players in our league.”

Whether you are a Yankee fan or not makes no difference, as a Christian with an Open Heart, Open Eyes, Open Ears, and Open Mouths, is our calling to have Open Hands and be an ambassador for Christ in a way that will represent Christ to others and be a role model in our families and in our communities.  This is true obedience. 

If sports is not your thing then think of yourselves as a patron of arts in serving others or president of the booster club that brings the love of Jesus to others, knowing we do not do this alone, not only do you have your teammates or cast mates around you, those who you sit next to on a weekly basis, you also have the Comforter, the Holy Spirit who is the coach, the conductor, the director, the guide and the helper so that we can have open hands to serve. 

On this weekend of remembrance we also pause to thank those who paid the ultimate price for service to their country.  Let us not forget their service or the service of Jesus on the cross for all and may these acts of service spur us on to good works. 

It was on the night when Jesus was betrayed he took the form of a servant, bent down and washed His disciple’s feet.  The next day He would make the ultimate sacrifice, but this night, in obedient service His Open Hands provide an example.  Jesus said, “Now that I, your Lord and teacher, have washed your feet.  I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.” (John 13:14-14)  Just hours later the greatest example would be set as He laid down His life for us, for all the times we have forgotten to serve, He serves.  For all of our shortcomings, He brings forgiveness; His hands, served so that yours can too. 

Luther said, “The Bible has hands it grabs me and won’t let me go.”  Last week Pastor Kevin Kritzer said, “Prayer has hands, it grabs God and won’t let Him go.” Might I take it a step further today and say, “You have hands that can grab others and won’t let Him go unnoticed.” 

The poem, Christ Has No Body Here has been widely attributed to St. Teresa of Avila.  Whether they are her words or not the meaning is profound and is a great way to close today:
Christ has no body but yours, No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks Compassion on this world,
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good,
Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world.
Yours are the hands, yours are the feet, Yours are the eyes, you are his body.
Christ has no body now but yours, No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks compassion on this world.
Christ has no body now on earth but yours.
Let us pray…

-Pastor Seth Moorman

Monday, May 26, 2014

The One Year Bible- May 26

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..... seriously........read 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 naked....it 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 20, 2014

Bethany Bullet - May 20, 2014

Week 4: A Five Tool Christian – Open Mouths

As an avid baseball fan and one time leader of a group of dedicated autograph hounds, I can attest to you that the ultimate ‘wow’ moment is when a fan actually gets to interact with a player.  Maybe baseball isn’t your thing? It is still our analogy (for this worship series) but I’ll detour for you... 
·         You’re a theater buff – after taking in a wonderful musical you stop by a diner to grab a bite, when low and behold, a Tony award winning performer sits down at the counter next to you...
·         You’re a country music Stagecoach regular – an onstage talent pulls up a stool next to yours and knocks one back with you...
·         You’re a news junkie – on a business trip as you take your middle seat you find one of your favorite on-air personalities sits on the aisle next to you, only to listen to you for the next three hours...
·         WOW moments indeed! 

What a WOW moment PRAYER ought to be! 
V  Therein we get to interact with One who is not merely on the roster, but One who is greater than an all star.
V  In prayer, we engage with the One who was and is unequaled in His performance on the field of life!  Jesus Christ.  
V  In prayer, we speak with more than an award winning actor – we connect with THE director of all and He who is the script of life.
V  In prayer, you speak with One who is more than a singer, but He who is the lyric.
V  In prayer, you speak with One who is greater than a commentator, with He who is the news (the Good News) incarnate.

Open Mouths follow Open Ears for good reason.  Last week we spoke of how God speaks to us, through conscience, comrades and clergy true, but chiefly through the Word

Luther said of Scripture, “The Bible has hands it grabs me and won’t let me go.”  Perhaps we can say, “Prayer has hands, it grabs God and won’t let Him go.”  Best of all, He doesn’t want to get away!

Read (or click on the link) John 14:1-14

Most of us are familiar with those words. I don’t know if most of us have, but I however have inadvertently separated these words where Jesus does not.  His self declaration of being the way, truth and life and all that comes before it; that is about being with Him in heaven has been a dearly loved text at the time of death.  The following portion about Him and the Father being one, promising to hear, and answer prayer has been a dearly loved passage when referring to the unity of the God-head and His desired unity with His people.  BOTH ARE TRUE – however, in such a division something so important is left unnoticed.

Context is everything in Bible reading.  We need to understand and keep this text in its contextual entirety.  Jesus told His friends, as He was on His way to heaven, that when they died they would be with Him where He was at.  Then He said, “Ask, me, my Father. . .”  Grasp the context?  When we die we will be where He is at in heaven; until we die He is where we are at (regardless of what is at us) in prayerIn prayer we can talk to Him as personally and intimately as the disciples did in Jerusalem; and as powerfully and gloriously as the saints do in Heaven.

People of Open Mouths, what is a better way to start than:

“Dear Father I have so often forgotten just what a privileged prayer is.  Lord I have ignored too frequently the powerful place that prayer is.  Spirit of God I have failed to fully embrace the personal space that prayer is.  So I pray, ‘O Lord, Open My Mouth’ – to you in prayer. - Amen”

-Pastor Kevin Kritzer

Monday, May 19, 2014

The One Year Bible- May 19th

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 The Office!! 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.

Soon we will start reading Psalm 119 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.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Bethany Bullet - May 13, 2014

Week 3: A Five Tool Christian – Open Ears

In baseball a “five-tool” player is one who has an arm that’s like a cannon, can run like a deer, has a glove that gets everything, and can hit for both power and average. Opening Day of the baseball season comes with hopes of a line-up filled with “five-tool” players. 

Easter is our Opening Day! 
V  Because the tomb was open so are the arms of God. 
V  Because the tomb was open so is the gate of heaven. 
V  Because the tomb was open so is a life of faith.

The life of faith both rests in and flows from an Open Heart
Read (or click on this link): John 20:24-30

The life of faith is equipped to see with Open Eyes
Read (or click on this link):  Luke 24

And the life of faith is fueled on nurtured by Open Ears
Read (or click on this link):  John 10

The Christ-fan is one who has heard and continues to listen to the Lord’s voice. God’s voice is heard primarily through:

1)      The Stat-Sheet (that is the conscience).  The log of what has happened; both errors committed and victories won.  Through the law that is written on our hearts and the Word that is planted in our souls, the Shepherd speaks. 

2)      Team mates (that is fellow believers).  Believe it or not the Shepherd speaks through fellow sheep.  Luther once called the mutual conversation and consolation of the brethren, sacramental.  That is when Christ-fans talk with one another about who He is, what He has done, who they are in Him, and what He has done for them it is as if God Himself is speaking to them.

3)      The Coaching Staff (that is pastors and parents, mentors and ministers of the Gospel). The entire Scripture is a testament to the testimony that God has placed people in places to speak the words He has placed in their mouths so that others might hear His voice.

4)      The Box-Score (that is the Scripture). It is an accurate and faithful record of what God has done.  It has pre-game insight as it proclaims what He intends to do in and through us and it has post-game foresight as it declares how all things will get wrapped up regardless of whether or not one likes the outcome.  

The reason the Box-Score (Scripture) is in the cleanup spot is that the other three are judged by it. 
·         If one’s conscience, comrades or clergy say something that contradicts the box score or is not in harmony with its teaching they are not to be listened to;
·         if on the other hand your morals, ministers or fellow members of the team say things that echo the box score and are in keeping with what the Scripture is declaring they are for you at that moment the mouthpieces of the Lord, so listen.

-Pastor Kevin Kritzer

Monday, May 12, 2014

The One Year Bible- May 12th

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 next. 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!!!

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