Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Bethany Bullet - July 29, 2014

Romans Chapter 8 is one of the parts of scripture that is so dense and rich that one could mine it for wisdom for years and continue to find new and nuanced inspiration from the Word.  This is the third week in a row that we have taken a look at this chapter and as we finish it up this morning let’s remember where we have been.

(Earlier in Romans 8)
Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit, reminded us that so significant are our sufferings to our God that:  
  • He invites us to bring them to Him in prayer
  • He roots us in a community that will care
  • He, in Christ, our sufferings He has come to share
  • So then our sufferings do not compare and are insignificant to the glory that awaits

So we groan.  We groan the prayer of the church, “Come Lord Jesus.”  And we know that we certainly do not groan alone! 
·         Creation groans with us. 
·         The Counselor groans for us. 
·         The Children of God groan together; desiring, longing, yearning for our Lord’s returning – “Come Lord Jesus.”
In light of our suffering and our groaning Paul continues. If you have your Bibles, we are in Romans chapter 8 starting at verse 28. 

28 We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God—those whom he has called according to his plan.

It is God’s desire and it is in His nature that all things work out for the good.  I know that your sufferings are indeed real.  Pastor Kritzer talked about many of them a few weeks ago, they are not insignificant.  It is not God’s desire for suffering, but that all things, event the so called “accidents” of history are God working for our good. 

Back in the book of Genesis we see a great example of what Paul is talking about.  The story of Joseph sets the stage for the climactic grace event in the Old Testament, the Exodus, but in order for this to happen, the people of Israel, literally the sons of Jacob whose name was changed to Israel, would be relocated from the land of the promise, down to Egypt. 

God worked (in the story) for the good of His people, but at the time there was lots of suffering.

We pick up the story in the Promised Land, Joseph (the favored son) is betrayed by his brothers, sold into slavery in a foreign land, accused of crimes he didn’t commit, sentenced to punishment, forgotten and left to rot in a prison cell.  He suffered greatly.  His family was also suffering, there was a severe famine in the land, food was scarce, empty bellies groaned with hunger, and salvation was far from sight. But God had a plan.

Joseph is eventually elevated to a high position at the right hand of the Pharaoh, put in charge of providing life giving food for the people and eventually has an encounter with his brothers and he says to them, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” (Genesis 50:20 NIV)

At the time, no suffering seems good, but God promises that all things will work out for our good. 
Paul goes on, 29 This is true because he already knew his people and had already appointed them to have the same form as the image of his Son. Therefore, his Son is the firstborn among many children.”

I like the way the God’s Word translation renders this section.  Many of you probably know this section, in many English Bibles contains the word “predestined”.  This has caused lots of controversy and theological disagreement throughout history.

When Paul states that God, “already knew his people,” it is not just a simple awareness of who is a child of God or what might happen during their lifetime.  It is not restricted to merely having information.  It implies much more.  It implies an intimate knowledge gained by personal experience, reflecting approval and acceptance of the thing or person known.

Paul is saying something much more significant than merely that God knows his own.  Rather, God “foreknew” us from eternity, before we ever had a chance to lift a finger or do anything to win his favor and approval.  That is grace!

Paul said it this way to the Ephesians, Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! Through Christ, God has blessed us with every spiritual blessing that heaven has to offer. Before the creation of the world, he chose us through Christ to be holy and perfect in his presence. Because of his love he had already decided to adopt us through Jesus Christ. He freely chose to do this so that the kindness he had given us in his dear Son would be praised and given glory.” (Ephesians 1:3-6)

God has predestined all of his children to live in the grace found in Christ.  It is against His nature to predestine some to destruction, that is not who God is.

What was God’s goal or objective in choosing us?  So that we might “have the same form as the image of his Son” (8:29); God’s goal is to unite us with Christ, something we talked about a few weeks back.  He wants us to share in those incomparable riches and boundless blessings of an eternity in heaven as the rightful possession of Christ.
Paul continues,30 He also called those whom he had already appointed. He approved of those whom he had called, and he gave glory to those whom he had approved of.”

Let’s look at this verse as the English Standard Version renders it,30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.”

 From eternity God predestined us to share in the blessings of His Son and calls us to faith through the Holy Spirit.  That call comes to us in word and wafer and wine and God declares us to be just and holy, acceptable as an heir.

Those who are justified already share in God’s glory.  We live in the now and not yet reality on this side of heaven.  For now we hold by faith that what God has promised is as good as done. Paul uses the past tense with all three verbs here, “called,” “justified, and “glorified.”

God has done absolutely everything necessary for our salvation.  In His mercy He foreknew us, predestined us, called us, justified us, and glorified us.  It has been accomplished in Christ.

How then do we respond to all of this?

Paul continues, 31 What can we say about all of this? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 God didn’t spare his own Son but handed him over to death for all of us. So he will also give us everything along with him. 33 Who will accuse those whom God has chosen? God has approved of them. 34 Who will condemn them? Christ has died, and more importantly, he was brought back to life. Christ has the highest position in heaven. Christ also intercedes for us.”

Joseph’s story that we talked about earlier, foreshadows the story of another favored Son, betrayed by loved ones, accused of crimes he didn’t commit, sentenced to punishment and forgotten by his father.  He too suffered greatly, took out punishment and died a horrible death, but he heard the groans of his children, destroyed deaths power and was elevated to the right hand of his father and provides life giving food for us in his body and in his blood, and the living water of his word.  This grace is what God had planned in advance. 

Paul uses a string of rhetorical questions here and are not as “iffy” as they might seem on the surface.  We could rightly say, “Since God is for us…”

These rhetorical questions demand a powerful and even defiant challenge, No One is against us!
Moving on, 35 What will separate us from the love Christ has for us? Can trouble, distress, persecution, hunger, nakedness, danger, or violent death separate us from his love? 36 As Scripture says:
“We are being killed all day long because of you.
    We are thought of as sheep to be slaughtered.”

Paul doesn’t give the Romans, or us, any assurance that things like trouble, distress, persecution or famine won’t happen to us.  Rather he operates with the assumption that they will happen.  He cites Scripture to support his point.  With his quotation he’s saying that our situation is exactly like the one the psalmist wrote about in Psalm 44:22: We’re like sheep being led to the slaughter.  Not should that surprise us.  Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24)

The situation looks desperate, but will it separate us from our Savior-God?  Paul answers, 37 The one who loves us gives us an overwhelming victory in all these difficulties. 38 I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love which Christ Jesus our Lord shows us. We can’t be separated by death or life, by angels or rulers, by anything in the present or anything in the future, by forces 39 or powers in the world above or in the world below, or by anything else in creation.”

Far from being overcome, we are the ones who will overcome and be the conquerors.  In fact, Paul promises even more!  Literally, he says that we will be “hyper-victorious,” or “super-conquerors.” 

That, however is no credit to us, because it will not come about by anything we do.  It will not be accomplished by our love and devotion to the Lord.  It will not be granted to us because we have suffered.
Rather, it is entirely the other way around.  We’re conquerors “through him who loved us.”

It is because of the love of God in Jesus Christ that no evil forces and no dimension can offset or counterbalance the love God has for us.
Perhaps the words of the song “How Deep the Father’s Love For Us” speak to this wonderful truth:
How deep the Father's love for us,
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure
The deep love of the Father has made us hyper victorious in Christ.  It is a message of grace beyond measure.

-Pastor Seth Moorman

Monday, July 28, 2014

The One Year Bible- July 28th

Can you believe that July is almost over?  Where has the summer gone?  I hope the busy summer had not got the best of you and your time with God’s Word.  Don’t worry if it has.  Like I have said before, when you get behind (and you will get behind) just try to read two days worth each day until you catch up, or if you would like, you can just pick up the readings on the day you begin again and try to catch the readings you missed next time.  Either way, it is important not to beat yourself up over missing the readings or to get so frustrated that you give up.  Keep up the hard work and let me know how I can help.  On to the study…

Seth’s Thoughts

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

The New Testament
In our readings from Romans we read these wonderful words from Paul, "
How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!(Romans 10:15b NIV) Paul continues a few verses later by saying that “Faith comes from hearing”. It is not any action that we do, or any magic pill. Faith is a gift of God. It comes in hearing the message of Salvation from Jesus Christ. I had a seminary professor who told us that when his kids were born, the first thing he did was to whisper into their ears that Jesus loved them. I had never thought of doing this before. We also read about one of the great analogies about being in the family of faith. Paul says that the Gentiles (which includes me) have been grafted into the family and now receive all the benefits of being part of the whole. We are now full partners in the blessings of Abraham as we live connected to God’s special olive tree. Paul then moves on to talk about being living sacrifices. This seems contradictory but in view of God’s mercy we offer everything we have to God as an offering to him. This becomes a part of our worship life. Paul then moves to the body analogy. It is not the only place Paul uses this but the point is that we are all part of one body. We are all connected in Christ.
Psalm 22 is known as a Messianic Psalm. Jesus quotes from this Psalm when he is on the cross. Go back and read verses 14 to 18 and think about the story of Jesus on the cross.  We also read the 23rd Psalm which is one of the most well known of all the psalms.  I really like the NLT translation of verse 6, “Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life.”  What a great image, the love of God pursues us!  It does not just follow us, but is actively seeking us out, even in our sinfulness.

Bits and Pieces

The Old Testament
We will finish the book of 2 Chronicles this week and start the book of Ezra. A lot of time will have passed between these two books. We will see the downfall of Judah and their exile to Babylon. If you are dying to know what happens there you can read the book of Daniel. Ezra begins the story of the return of the exiles back to the promised land. This promised “remnant” will provide the opportunity for the fulfillment of Messianic prophecy with the birth of Jesus. Here are the vital stats for the book of Ezra:

PURPOSE: To show the Judeans how God controls the nations of the earth for His saving purposes.
AUTHOR: Not stated but probably Ezra
DATE WRITTEN: Around 450 B.C. recording events from about 538-450 B.C.
SETTING: Ezra follows 2 Chronicles as a history of the Jewish people, recording their return to the land after the captivity.
KEY VERSES: “So the Israelites who had returned from exile ate it [the Passover], together with all who had separated themselves from the unclean practices of their Gentile neighbors in order to seek the LORD, the God of Israel. For seven days they celebrated with joy, the feast of unleavened bread, because the LORD had filled them with joy by changing the attitude of the king of Assyria, so that he assisted them in the work on the house of God, the God of Israel.” Ezra 6:21-22
LAW THEMES: Exile due to sin, persecution, broken faith by illegal marriages
GOSPEL THEMES: God fulfills His promise of mercy, God providence in restoring the temple and its sacrifices of atonement, the hand of God guides history for the sake of His people, the remnant restored.
KEY PEOPLE: Cyrus, Zerubbabel, Haggai, Zechariah, Darius, Artaxerxes I, Ezra
KEY PLACES: Babylon, Jerusalem
SPECIAL FEATURES: Ezra and Nehemiah were one book in the Hebrew Bible, and, with Esther, they comprise the post-captivity historical books. The post-captivity prophetic books are Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi. Haggai and Zechariah both prophesy during the period of the reconstruction.

The New Testament
The book of Romans comes to a close this week with some greetings to some people in Rome. Our journey with Paul will continue with the letters to the Corinthians. Along with Romans, these letters give a good taste of Paul’s theology. Paul wrote these letters to a church that was having some problems. We will spend time with these issues because many are the same that we face today. Here are the vital stats for the book:

PURPOSE: To identify problems in the Corinthian church, to offer solutions, and to teach the believers how to live for Christ in a corrupt society.
TO WHOM WRITTEN: The church in Corinth and Christians everywhere
DATE WRITTEN: About A.D. 55, near the end of Paul’s three year ministry in Ephesus, during his third missionary journey.
KEY VERSE: “ I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought.” 1 Corinthians 1:10
LAW THEMES: Rebukes against divisions, foolish human wisdom, struggles with sexual immorality, idolatry, and spiritual pride; the Lord’s Supper abused; doubting the resurrection.
GOSPEL THEMES: Saved by Christ crucified; God’s wisdom in Christ; the Spirit’s work; Gospel ministry through the apostles; sanctified through Baptism; God’s unity; the Lord’s Supper; resurrection hope.
KEY PEOPLE: Paul, Timothy, members of Chloe’s household.
KEY PLACES: Worship meetings in Corinth
SPECIAL FEATURES: This is a strong, straightforward letter.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Bethany Bullet - July 22, 2014

Earlier in Romans Chapter 8, Paul reminded us that so significant are our sufferings to our God that He:  
  1. Invites us to bring them to Him in prayer
  2. He roots us in a community that will care
  3. He, in Christ, our sufferings He has come to share

Now on the heels of declaring that, “Our sufferings are insignificant when compared to the glory that is to be revealed in us.”  Paul goes on to say until that time, when glory is revealed, we shall groan.  What synonyms come to mind when you think of the word “groan”?  Whimper, grumble, grouse, and complain are listed in my thesaurus.   Nothing could have been further from Paul’s mind when he chose this word.  In the context of Romans 8 “to groan” means to yearn, or long, or desire.  It is NOT suffering that we yearn, long and desire for; rather it is freedom from such that shall fully be ours at the coming of Christ. 

This is why our sufferings are INSIGNIFICANT when compared to the glory that awaits:
v  Our sufferings are momentary – our Glory will be eternal. 
v  Our sufferings are natural – our Glory is miraculous. (By natural I mean that suffering, while sometimes caused by a personal decision is always the result of the human condition even when NOT the result of individual action.  Glory is only the result of God’s intervention and the redemption that comes in Christ.) 
v  Our sufferings are in measure to be expected – our Glory is the undeserved gift of God.

So we groan.  We groan the prayer of the church, “Come Lord Jesus.”  That prayer is simply asking the Lord to make ours by experience what is ours currently by promise.  “Come to claim your own, Come to set all things right, Come to set your people free finally and forever.”  Yet, in our sufferings we often feel we suffer alone (we don’t and that was established earlier, yet nevertheless we often feel that is the case.)  We certainly do not groan alone! 
V  The Creation groans with us. 
V  The Counselor groans for us. 
V  The Children of God groan together; desiring, longing, yearning for our Lord’s returning – “Come Lord Jesus.”

-Pastor Kevin Kritzer

Monday, July 21, 2014

The One Year Bible- July 21st

There have been times in my life where I can just feel the presence of God.  At times I can hear his call and he seems close.  But there are also times when God seems distant and far removed from my daily life.  Have you ever felt this way?  Remember that it is all just a matter of perspective.  In reality in our sinfulness we are the ones that drift away.  Sin takes us far from God and in our own minds we try to blame God for leaving us.  Some times I would like God to give me a big sign in the sky to tell me his plan or that he is right there.  The people of the Old Testament got a visual show.  When God’s presence came to earth, the people would see it in the form of a thick cloud.  God revealed himself to his people visually so they could believe.  He did the same when he sent his son Jesus.  Jesus became the walking temple for all of us to see.  Today we can see him every time we partake in the Lord’s Supper, every time we read His Word, and every time he calls another child his own in baptism.  When you think that God is distant, remember that he is right here, closer than you think.  On to the study…

Seth’s Thoughts

The Old Testament
Some good stories this week in the Old Testament. Most of the counting and lists are done with and the narrative picks up in earnest. You may not have even been aware that we started 2 Chronicles this week. Solomon continues to build the Temple for the LORD. It was an impressive structure! There was so much gold used it could not be counted. Silver meant nothing and bronze was almost worthless. It is interesting to note that the curtain of the temple is mentioned. It is what separated the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place. This is the curtain that tore in two (in a different temple mind you) when Jesus died. Jesus’ death brings Holy God and sinful man back into a relationship again. It must have been an awesome sight to see the thick cloud of YAHWEH filling the temple. This was the first time in a while that there had been a physical manifestation of God on earth. Solomon’s prayer was a good one and got the people back on track. God’s response to Solomon was also quite amazing. All was good during the life of Solomon but soon he would be buried with his fathers and his son Rehoboam would become king. Rehoboam did not fare to well. He did not listen to his father’s advisors and soon the kingdom was split. Civil war then raged and the Northern Kingdom went on a road to destruction as they worshiped idols and bowed down to other Gods. King Asa tried to get things right with God but it did not last. Jehoshaphat tried to do what was right but we will soon find out that he has troubles as well. Here are the vital stats for the book of 2 Chronicles:

PURPOSE: To unify the nation around true worship of God by showing his standard for judging kings. The righteous kings of Judah and the religious revivals under their rule are highlighted, and the sins of the evil kings are exposed.
AUTHOR: Ezra, according to Jewish tradition
DATE WRITTEN: Approximately 430 B.C., recording the events for the beginning of Solomon’s reign (970 B.C.) to the beginning of the Babylonian captivity (586 B.C.)
SETTING: Second Chronicles parallels 1 and 2 Kings and serves as their commentary. Originally 1 and 2 Chronicles were one book. It was written after the exile from a priestly perspective, highlighting the importance of the temple and the religious revivals in Judah. The northern kingdom, Israel, is virtually ignored in this history.
KEY VERSE: “If my people who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14 NIV).
KEY PEOPLE: Solomon, the queen of Sheba, Rehoboam, Asa, Jehoshephat, Jehoram, Joash, Uzziah, Ahaz, Hezekiah, Manasseh, Josiah
KEY PLACES: Jerusalem, the temple
SPECIAL FEATURES: Includes a detailed record of the temple’s construction

The New Testament

Paul really gets on a roll in this weeks readings. If you were not convinced you were a sinner before, I bet you are now. Romans six deals with the idea that those who have been united with Christ have been united with him in his death and more importantly in his resurrection. This is great news because now those who are “in Christ” (one of Paul’s favorite phrases) will receive all the benefits of God. Those who are in Christ are dead to sin and alive in Christ. We do not have the freedom to just continue sinning. We are no longer slaves to sin. But then Paul brings up a good point. This is a confusing passage (especially in the NIV) but the NLT (New Living Translation) is a bit clearer for me. “I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead I do what I hate...I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it” (Romans 7:15,18b-20 NLT). Paul realizes that in this world, we are so interwoven with sin that it is impossible to extract ourselves. We are in dire straights! We cry with Paul. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:24 NIV). In the end it is all about Jesus. He is the only one that can free us from this problem. His death and resurrection make it possible for us to leave the sin of this world behind and live for Him in all we do. We now live our lives by the Spirit of God and we have been adopted into his family. And we can call him Daddy (Abba, Father). This relationship cannot be broken. It holds firm even when sin attacks. Therefore do not worry about your status in the world. The important thing is that we are part of the family of God. On the 27th we will read that being a member of this family is easy, “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9 ESV). Good news indeed!!!  Now this verse has been used by many Christians to support a view that human beings must do something in order to become a Christian.  This is not a new idea.  Now days we call it “decision theology” but this has been with the Faith for a long time.  To use a $2 word it is called syncretism.  This means that in some way we have to cooperate with God in some way shape or form for our salvation.  When we make some sort of an effort towards God then he will have mercy on us.  The point of view goes something like this:  We encounter the message of salvation and then we need to make a decision to accept this good news.  The power of God does not begin in our lives until we make a conscious choice to follow him.  Until then we are lost.  This point of view is prevalent in many Christian circles.  Those who hold this view are big believers in altar calls and praying the “sinners prayer” in order to become a believer in Jesus.   There are two passages that help me understand that this is not how God operates.  Paul writes in 1 Corinthians, Therefore I tell you that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, "Jesus be cursed," and no one can say, "Jesus is Lord," except by the Holy Spirit.” (1 Corinthians 12:3 NIV)  Paul also says in Romans 8, The sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.” (Romans 8:7-8 NIV)  When we confess with our mouths that Jesus is Lord, is cannot be an act of a sinful person, because this pleases God.  There must be something that was working in us before we could even do this.  This is the work of the Holy Spirit.  He works in us before we even know who Jesus is.  He comes to us in the waters of baptism before we can even talk.  He starts working on our sinfulness even before we know.  There is no way we can cooperate with God.  Salvation is his action and his action alone.  I could go on and on with this one but I think you get the idea.  Please let me know if you have any more questions about this. 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Bethany Bullet - July 15, 2014

“I’m suffering…from a hangover”…so said Morgan Earp to the Tombstone town mayor after he and his brothers rejected the mayor’s plea to serve as sheriff because, “a lot of people were suffering.”  To that Morgan responds, “I’m suffering…from a hangover.”  To make light of the suffering of others makes one insufferable; and it is probably equally true that to make too much of one’s own suffering makes one insufferable as well.  Yet for right now, let’s just agree that to make light of the sufferings of others makes one insufferable(That means unbearable or intolerable)  No one in the midst of Lamentation wants to hear, “You think that’s tough…I’m suffering from a hang-up, hangnail, hangover…”

Now when a character in a historical fiction film does so it is one thing, when an apostle in an Epistle does so that is something else entirely!   Romans 8:17-18 “I consider that our present sufferings are INSIGNIFICANT.” So says St. Paul.  Can you imagine the nerve?  Is the apostle insufferable?  To say that our present sufferings are insignificant might make some say, “Hang-on there fella.”  Tell that to those living on the Southside of Chicago or in Northern Nigeria; say that in the West Bank or in what used to be called the Eastern Block. 

Of course, the apostle doesn’t actually say that!  The apostle actually declares, “I consider our present sufferings are insignificant WHEN COMPARED to the glory that awaits us.”  The apostle, and the One who sent him (Jesus Christ), and the One who sent Him (God the Father) consider our sufferings significant; not only to us but to them as well. 
V  They know the significance of suffering with: cancer cells are too numerous, or the fears that sleeper cells are too. 
V  They know it is significant when a loved one is on hospice care or our love life is on life support. 
V  They know the significance of grieving the burial of a spouse, a parent, a marriage or a career.  
V  Of seeing your savings disappear or your bills pill up. 
V  Of having the company or family relocate when you’d prefer to stay.  
V  Of watching your kids or grandkids move away or helping them move back in.
Your suffering is significant to the Lord, yet because of Him they, though supremely significant to us are at the very say time “insignificant when compared to the glory that awaits us.”  For your God has come to suffer with you.  Jesus knew what it was to suffer.  He knew disgrace, rejection, poverty, and loneliness.  He knew what it was to be lied to and denied, to be mocked and ridiculed, He knew what it was to be falsely accused and unjustly condemned.  Yet the greatest suffering He knew was the forsaking of heaven and the abandonment of the Father on the cross for in Christ, God came not only to suffer with us but to suffer for us! 

That we might become the heirs of God, co-heirs of Christ who know the significance of the insignificant and the insignificance of the significant as we cling to and confess that “our present suffering, as significant as they are, are insignificant WHEN compared to the Glory that will be revealed in us.”

-Pastor Kevin Kritzer

Monday, July 14, 2014

The One Year Bible- July 14th

Summer is usually a time of rest and relaxation. But sometimes summer can be just as busy if not more so than the school year. During the school year there is a set rhythm to the days and weeks and months, but summer seems to be a flurry of activity with no rest.  It reminds me of our life in Christ. We all are looking forward to the day when we can rest in the presence of Jesus. It seems like that day will never come. And as we wait we have been given the task of doing God’s will here on earth. Some days it seems like we will never get it all done, but even when we fail (and we will!), God is right there to forgive us and point us in the right direction again. I hope that through your daily reading of Scripture the Lord speaks to you to not only remind you of the rest that awaits, but His love for you as we carry out His will. On to the study....

Seth’s Thoughts

The Old Testament
I will admit that this weeks readings were not too interesting for me, mostly a bunch of lists and numbers. A few things did jump out at me. Fist of all was the repeated mention of the Davidic Covenant that YAHWEH had made with the family of David. This was to last forever but it came to an earthly end. But remember that Jesus is the fulfillment of that covenant and Jesus still sits on the throne that was promise so many years ago. I also thought that it was cool to read about the six-fingered man. It is not too often you hear about them. One last thing that jumped out was the fact that David was the one who made the plans for the temple and gave them to his son Solomon. I am not sure if this is idealized history but it is in the Bible and I believe it.

The New Testament
WOW!! Where to begin? There are many, many books written about Romans and I do not intend to add to the list by using this blog. But I would be remiss if I did not touch on the big theological themes in the book. First of all it is important to remember that Romans reads like a legal court document. Paul is serving as the lawyer who representing faith in Jesus and he is defending his beliefs to a particular group of people at a particular time in history. I do not believe, as others do, that this book contains all that is needed to be a Christian. (i.e. there is no mention of holy communion just to name one). But I do believe that this book contains some of the most important insights into the Faith. First of all, Paul sets up his case by setting out the argument that everyone is a sinner. There is no one who does right. We are all scum, even those who think they are doing what is right (those who follow Jewish Law). God is also a God who shows no favoritism. He hates all sin no matter who does it. Paul brings up the character of Abraham because he is one of the biggies to the Jews. He is like a superhero to them. If anyone deserved to be saved it was Abraham, right? But what does Paul say that makes Abraham a righteous man? Was it is accomplishments, or his attitude, or the fact that he was circumcised? NO! In fact Abraham is declared righteous in Genesis 15 and he is then circumcised in Genesis 17. Abraham was justified by faith, apart from works of the law. We too are justified the same way. We do not magically become Christians by being baptized. We become Christians by faith!! Don't get me wrong here, baptism is important and is powerful, but it is not some pill that is taken or hoop to jump through in order to get "in". That was Paul's point. There is nothing that we do! When we try to earn our own way, or believe that we have some part in this process we get it all mucked up and we forget that this is an action of God and not us. Because we are in this great dilemma, God sent Jesus to us to be a sacrifice for us so we could be saved. It is all passive (by the way almost all of the Greek verbs that describe what we do or become of us are in the passive case). Paul says it way better than I, "For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous." (Romans 5:19 NIV).

One quick thing here. On the 16th of this month we will read from Romans 3 that quotes from Psalm 14 and then we read Psalm 14 on the 18th? How cool is that!!!

I hope your summer is not too busy and that you get some time for some earthly rest. Have a great week, let me know if you have any questions and I will see you all soon.

Free Hit Counter