Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Bethany Bullet Sermon Message - Week of January 28, 2018

“It’s All About the Same Jesus”

Change is inevitable. The more things change, the more things stay the same. Nothing remains constant except change itself.

We may have made any or all of these statements regarding change at one time or another. Whether these are right or wrong, we are here today to hear about the ONE who does not change!  This Jesus of yesterday is the Jesus who called us in the waters of our Baptism. This is the Jesus who came to us in His Word in our Christian home and Christian classrooms and nourished us in our faith. This is the Jesus who is the foundation of our church and school. That same Jesus comes to us today. Today and every day we wake up sinners. Today we are unsure. Today we face temptation. Today we may face ridicule. Today we have our family concerns and even some church and school frustrations. But today Jesus comes to us again in the assurance of our Baptism, in His Word of forgiveness, and at His table, where He gives His Body and Blood.

Jesus Christ is the same forever. Forever is tomorrow and the next day and the next day. Forever is reached one day at a time. Forever is having Jesus go with us through all the changes of the future. As I shared in an earlier story, we often wish that things could stay the same. Things change. What NEVER changes is what Hebrews 13:8 says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever”.    

Prayer of the Day: 
Pastor:         Jesus, by the power of Your creating Word, You changed darkness into light; by the power of Your redeeming acts You changed death into life; by the power of Your Spirit You changed us from being forever lost to being children of God.  Continue to bring the changes needed in us, our congregation, our school and our church so that Your glory is revealed and Your kingdom grows, in Your name alone we pray.

People:                Amen.

           -Karl Fink, DCE

Monday, January 29, 2018

The One Year Bible- January 29th

We are almost one month into the reading and I hope it has been a blessing to you.  I have been thinking about the over arching story of the Bible.  As we journey in the Bible this year we will see narrative sections as well as prescriptive sections.  The narrative portions get the big billing since they tell the “story,” but don’t just skip past the other sections.  There is some good stuff in there.  Just over 40% of the Old Testament is devoted to telling the narrative story.  The following Old Testament books are largely or entirely composed of narrative material: Genesis, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 & 2 Samuel, 1 & 2 Kings, 1 & 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Daniel, Jonah, and Haggai.  Also, Exodus, Numbers, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Isaiah, and Job contain substantial narrative portions.  People like stories, and the stories in the Bible are important.  They are purposeful stories that tell the historical events of the past and are intended to give meaning and direction for a given people in the present.  There is a difference in the Bible’s stories for they tell God’s story.  As the book How to Read the Bible for all Its Worth says, “The Biblical narrative tells the ultimate story—a story that, even though often complex, is utterly true and crucially important.  Indeed it is a magnificent story, grander than the greatest epic, richer in plot and more significant in its characters and descriptions than any humanly composed story could ever be.” (How To Read the Bible for All Its Worth, p. 90)  Enjoy the stories and remember to try to see the overarching story of God’s love for his creation and his desire to save us from sin.  

Seth’s Thoughts

The Old Testament
Exodus is a well written book that is foundational for the faith of both Christians and Jews; within its pages lie some of the key elements of our faith (the Passover, the 10 commandments a.k.a. the 10 words). A reading of this book is not complete without seeing the awesome wonder and power of God. One of the key words in the Old Testament is translated as “remembered”, as in God remembered his people, the people are to remember to celebrate the Passover etc. This is a theologically significant word in that it shows God’s grace and his love for his people. This theme will be carried out to completion as God “remembers” his people once again as they are slaves to sin and provides redemption through his son. Before we get to the Passover lets take a closer look at one of the most famous sections in the book, namely the plagues. Much has been made of these events in movies and other media but they show how God works in systematic ways. One thing to remember is that even when God showed his mighty wonders, Pharaoh’s heart was hardened. He said the right things but went back on his word. I think at times we are all a bit like Pharaoh. We like to have things our own way and when things are going badly we will promise everything. Things ease up and we go back on our word. Eventually this will end up badly for us. But I am getting off track, so back to the plagues...

Before the first plague Moses and Aaron have a confrontation with Pharaoh and his magicians. We see here that Pharaoh’s heart became hard and he would not listen to them. By looking at the first nine plagues in groups of three we can see some interesting things.

The Plagues:

1. Blood (7:14-25)
2. Frogs (8:1-15)
3. Gnats (8:16-19)

4. Flies (8:20-32)
5. Animal Disease (9:1-7)
6. Boils (9:8-12)

7. Hail (9:13-35)
8. Locusts (10:1-20)
9. Darkness (10:21-27)

In each series the first and second plagues are announced to Pharaoh in advance. The third is given without previous warning. The series of 3 x 3 leads up to a climax in number 10—the number that is the symbol for completeness. Within the plagues themselves there is a progression, an increase in severity. The last three are especially severe and destructive. The Egyptian magicians vie with Moses in duplicating the first two plagues. At the third they try but no longer succeed in their magic arts. They must confess, “This is the finger of God.” Beginning with the second group of plagues (4,5 & 6) a distinction is made between the Israelites and the Egyptians. The land of Goshen where the Israelites live is spared. The first nine plagues deal with phenomena that have to do with nature. Since the Egyptians worshiped the powers of nature, what more effective way could God display his power over all things, which they looked upon as deities? The tenth plague was the plague of the firstborn. With this plague all the first-born were to be killed. But the angel was to “pass over” the homes of the Israelites.

The Passover presents to us one of the most important Old Testament types of the Savior Jesus Christ. As we look at the directions for preparing the Passover meal, we see step by step how the entire ritual points to Christ, our Passover lamb. The Passover lamb was to be a year-old male. John the Baptist tells of the Messiah who was to be the “Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world." In Corinthians, Paul says, “For Christ, our Passover Lamb, has been sacrificed.” God directed that this Passover lamb was to be “without defect.” Peter wrote that we were redeemed “with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.” The Passover lamb was to be slaughtered as a sacrifice. Paul reminded his people “Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God”. The writer of the book of Hebrews repeatedly refers to Christ as an “offering” and “sacrifice”. “Do not break any of the bones.” This was direct foreshadowing of Jesus. The Israelites were to “take some of the blood and but it on the sides and tops of the doorframes of the houses.” God said, “When I see the blood I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt.” This points to the teaching that we are redeemed from the power of sin, death and Satan with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. God tells the people that they are to remember the Passover for “generations to come”.
I hope you can see how the Passover celebration is important to our understanding of who Jesus is and how he is the culmination of Gods redeeming work on earth. It is no coincidence that Jesus celebrated the Passover with his disciples the night before he was betrayed. Again it is no coincidence that Jesus instituted another celebration that is to be celebrated for “generations to come” as he gave his disciples the first communion feast. 

The New Testament
I want to spend a little bit of time talking about parables this week since we have seen so many of them in the book of Matthew and we will see more as we go through the Gospels. In my seminary classes on the New Testament we spent quite a bit of time on parables because of their wonderful content and use for us not only as preachers but also as Christians. Today I would like to share with you some material from an article written by Dr. Erich H. Kiehl who was a professor at Concordia Seminary St. Louis for many years. He wrote an article titled “Why Jesus Spoke in Parables” in which he said:

A parable may be defined as “a story with a puzzling quality which confronts the hearer with the need to make a decision for or against Christ through the Spirits work.” Perhaps the most helpful is the more usual definition: “A parable is an earthly story with a heavenly (spiritual) meaning” with the addition “in the sense that it confronts the hearer with the need to make a decision for or against Christ through the Spirits work.”

An analysis of the content of the Gospels indicates that about one-third of the Gospel accounts are parables. Aside from their theological importance, parables shed much light on life in the New Testament era. Except for the Egyptian papyri, which emphasize life in Egypt, the parables are the best source of information about life in the Near East in the New Testament era. They reflect the innate love of graphic, pictorial speech and the great delight in a story, which is still true of life there today. Jesus’ parables demonstrate everyday experiences and events in the world of nature. 

Since Jesus’ hearers would not listen to him on his terms, that is, the true meaning of the kingdom of God as revealed in Scripture, Jesus then began to speak to them in parables. His hearers had an innate love for graphic stories and pictorial speech. Jesus used this appealing parabolic approach to catch their attention and to seek to get them to ponder the true meaning of what he said. As people wondered and pondered what Jesus was telling them in his parables, the Holy Spirit could work in their hearts, seeking to lead them to the proper Biblical understanding of His message. In time, as the Spirit penetrated the hardness of the heart, hearers could grow in understanding of the true meaning and nature of God’s kingdom and of life in the kingdom. Crucial in this was the Spirit leading them to understand who Jesus truly is in His ministry and teaching as the fulfillment of the prophecies in his person and work, and its decisive implications for their life as members of God’s covenant people.
From The Concordia Journal July 1990 p.248-249.

Dr. Kiehl continues in his article to develop the skills of determining what Jesus actually meant when he told his parables. He warns us not to try to put our own meaning into the parables but to strive to find the true meaning, the one that Jesus meant for us to have. This is no easy task, especially when Jesus does not explain the meaning of the parable. Don’t worry too much if some of this flies over your head. The main point is not to force our own thoughts and insights on the text and miss the true point of the parable. When in doubt, pray, meditate, or ask your pastor if you don’t fully understand.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

The Bethany Bullet Sermon Message - Week of January 21, 2018

“You belong to me!” 

We, at Bethany, are familiar with the saying, “My stuff is not my stuff.”  We ought be familiar with the concept, “God’s stuff is God’s stuff.”  It doesn’t take a lot of Scriptural investigation to discover textual identification of the things that belong to God.

The Victory belongs to the Lord.
The Day is His.  The night for that matter too as the stars and moon are His.
The cattle on a thousand hills are His; and each sparrow that falls.
The highest heavens are His; and He holds the deep places of the earth in His hands.
The kingdom and eternity belong to Him; and holiness and righteousness are His.

God’s stuff is God’s stuff. 
And among the stuff of God, included in that infinite list of things that are His, is you!

You belong to Him.  On account of Jesus’ perfect life, His sacrificial offering, His innocent suffering, we are His.  God’s stuff is God’s stuff, including us! 

May that truth direct our living out our life in Christ.

-Pastor Kevin Kritzer

Monday, January 22, 2018

The One Year Bible- January 22nd

We are almost one month in to our year-long journey in the Bible and this week we will finish the first book of the Old Testament. This is no small accomplishment. Genesis is a long book, filled with important stories that serve as important pieces to the overall story of the Bible. We will make reference to many of these stories and events as we go along. Each time we reach a milestone in our journey we should celebrate. As well as finishing the book of Genesis we will also finish one month in the word. Give yourself a pat on the back and you should feel good for your accomplishments. I also want to encourage you to keep going. If it is not already, your daily reading will become habit and spending time in God’s Word is one of the best habits you could ever have. On to the study...

Seth’s Thoughts

The Old Testament
We will wrap up up the story of Joseph this week. It has been a longer story than most and there is good reason for it. First of all, this is the back-story for the most important event in Jewish history, the Exodus. The Exodus tells of God’s love and mercy for his chosen people and how he redeemed them from slavery in Egypt. As a New Testament Christian this story foreshadows the story of how Jesus redeemed us from the slavery of sin. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. As we read the Old Testament we see many similarities between it and some stories in the New Testament. I believe that this is one purpose. Theologians call this Biblical Typology.

I found this description of typology in a resource I have entitled “Fellowship With God” written by Rev. Henry F. Fingerlin:“The Bible is an amazing book. But something not too commonly know is that the Bible contains a unique kind of prophecy that no other book contains or could contain, namely, Typology. In Romans 5:14b St. Paul says that “Adam...was a type of the one who was to come.” (That is Adam was a type of Christ). In I Peter 3:21 Peter tells us that Baptism “corresponds” to Noah’s ark in which 8 persons were saved through water. The word translated “corresponds” in the Revised Standard Version is antitype in Greek. There are many such “types” and “antitypes” in the Bible. For example the Passover Lamb and the scapegoat, who bore the sins of the people, are types of Jesus; and the work of the High Priest in making sacrifice for the sins of the people is a type of his saving work. Types, copies, shadows, miniatures, scale model, partial, earthly, temporal, limited, imperfect—these are the people, observances and events of the Old Testament. Fulfillment, spiritual, eternal, perfect, unlimited—these are the realities, the completion, the fulfillment brought into being through Jesus and the New Covenant. This is the way Jesus and the Apostles understood the Old Testament and its fulfillment in the New. Only God who knows the future and also brings it to pass, could so thoroughly detail through prophecy and types all that would transpire through John the Baptist, Jesus, and the beginning of the New Covenant.”

There is much to say about Biblical typology but one thing to remember is that Old Testament Biblical types are always less than the New Testament antitype. As Paul writes in Colossians 2:17, “These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.”  How does this relate to the story of Joseph? Some theologians see Joseph as a “type” or Christ. Here are a few examples:
- Joseph is the “beloved” son of his Father(Gen. 37:3)—Jesus is the Father’s “beloved” son (Matt. 3:17
- Though innocent, Joseph is sold for silver (Gen. 37:28)—Jesus is betrayed and sold for silver (Matt. 26:15)
- Joseph finds himself in prison with two other criminals (Gen. 40)—Jesus suffered death (a kind of prison) between two criminals (Luke 23:32-33)
- Joseph foretells death to one prisoner and release and restoration of the other (Gen. 40:9-19—Jesus tells one of the thieves that he will be with him in paradise while the other dies in his sins (Luke 23:42)
- Joseph is freed from prison by a decree of Pharaoh (Gen. 41:37-41)—Jesus is freed from the prison of death by the Fathers decree of Life, Resurrection, for His Son (Acts 2:24)
- Joseph is exalted at Pharaoh’s right hand and given a name that is above all names (Gen. 41)—Jesus is exalted to his fathers right hand and given a name that is above every other name (Phil. 2:9-11, Acts 2:33-36)

There are others that we could talk about but these are the big ones. I will be highlighting some more typology as we go this year. Let me know what you think about typology. Remember you can't always say that something is a “type” of Christ, but if you see something that you may think is let me know and I will do some investigating for you.

The New Testament
We read a few more parables of Jesus as well as read about some miracles including the feeding of the 5,000 and just as amazing, the feeding of the 4,000. One of the most powerful passages we read came in Ch. 16. Peter’s confession of Christ is a powerful witness to the divinity of Jesus and his claim to be the Messiah. After hearing Jesus preach and witnessing his miracles he boldly professes, “You are the Christ (Messiah) the Son of the living God." Either Peter was crazy or he was convinced that this simple man from Nazareth was the promised Messiah.

Bits And Pieces

We will dive into the book of Exodus this week and here are the vital stats:

PURPOSE: The Lord reintroduces Himself to Israel, rescues them from Egypt, and gives them a covenant of laws and sacrifices.
KEY PEOPLE: Moses, Miriam, Pharaoh, Pharaoh’s daughter, Jethro, Aaron, Joshua
KEY PLACES: Egypt, Goshen, Nile River, Midian, Red Sea, Sinai Peninsula, Mount Sinai
LAW THEMES: Plagues against unrepentant Egypt; God gives the Ten Commandments and requires an oath to fulfill the Law.
GOSPEL THEMES: God remembers and fulfills His promises to the patriarchs; atonement through sacrifice.
SPECIAL FEATURES: Exodus relates more miracles than any other Old Testament book and is noted for containing the Ten Commandments

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

The Bethany Bullet Sermon Message - Week of January 14, 2018

Sermon: “A Voice From Heaven”
Text: Mark 1:11

After a hardy rainstorm filled all the potholes in the streets and alleys, a young mother watched her two little boys playing in the puddle through her kitchen window.

The older of the two, a five-year-old lad, grabbed his sibling by the back of his head and shoved his face into the water hole. As the boy recovered and stood laughing and dripping, the mother runs to the yard in a panic.

"Why on earth did you do that to your little brother?" she says as she shook the older boy in anger. "We were just playing church mommy," he said. "And I was just baptizing him ...in the name of the Father, the Son and in...the hole-he-goes.

All joking aside, this morning (Sunday, January 14th) we commemorate the Baptism of Jesus.  As we do, we also remember that day that heaven opened and we were claimed as beloved children of the King in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.  We will also come forward to tangibly remember that day as we put our hands in the water and remember the work that God did in our lives.

In the spring of 2011, a new reality singing competition burst on to the American television scene.  Following in the footsteps of American Idol and the X-factor, the goal of this new show like the others that came before, was to discover musically talented people bringing them from the realm of obscurity to stardom.

What made this particular show different is that the contestants could only use their voice to impress the judges. 

The show, known simply as The Voice, relied solely on the audible sound to make an impression.  For some their lives were forever changed by what happened on the show. 

The sound of a voice can be powerful, it can illicit emotional reactions from others.  The voice can move people to tears, or motivate them to action. 

It was the voice of God that began life as we know it.  As we read in our first reading, “The earth was formless and empty, and darkness covered the deep water.  The Sprit of God was hovering over the water.  Then God said…”

It was by the voice of God that all things came into existence.  As the Spirit hovered over the water, all of creation, light and life sprang forth. 

I wonder what it sounded like?

This past week I did a very un-scientific survey on Facebook.  I asked who would you cast, living or dead, to play the voice of God? 

I got lots of responses.  Some were obvious, Morgan Freeman, Sidney Poitier, Johnny Cash, Patrick Stewart, Charlton Heston, Burl Ives, Mike Rowe to name a few. 

Some came with a side of funny:
·        James Earl Jones “I am your Heavenly Father!”
·        George Chapman from Monty Python- “Arthur, Arthur, King of the Britons.”
·        Donald Sutherland from The Hunger Games- “And may the Lord be ever in your favor.”
·        Arnold Schwarzenegger- “I’m coming back!”

Others had a more subdued approach suggesting names like Fred Rogers, Tom Hanks, Bob Newhart.

For me, I might pick John Facenda. 

How many of you know the name John Facenda?  If you are a football fan, you know his work.  He was hired in 1966 to narrate an NFL films segment called, “They Call it Pro Football.”

Soon his voice could be heard weekly on television as NFL films brought the action and the beauty to the small screen. 

Facenda narrated many highlight films during his career with NFL Films.  His dulcet baritone was the perfect match for the highly dramatic nature of the footage he narrated, and earned him the nickname "The Voice of God." 

Today we remember the event that took place at the Jordan where a voice from heaven spoke. It was at our Lord’s baptism and in that moment, the true voice of God, the voice that created everything we see, confirmed with power who Jesus was, “You are my Son, whom I love.  I am pleased with you.” (Mark 1:11)

In that moment the entire Trinity was revealed when the Father’s voice declared Jesus to be His beloved Son and the Spirit descended upon him. 

Soon it would be the voice of Jesus proclaiming that Good News of God’s salvation; as He spoke and taught people listened.  His powerful words did miraculous things.  They changed water into wine, healed the sick gave sight to the blind, make the lame walk and raised the dead.  His words are powerful.

I wonder what it sounded like?

It was this Word made flesh whose birth we just celebrated that still comes to us today. 

A few in history have heard the voice of God.  For Moses, God’s voice came as a still small voice. The disciples heard God’s voice as their friend and rabbi called them to become fishers of men.

By the power of the Spirit, the one who hovered over the water at creation, humans were inspired to write down God’s Word.  As prophets and apostles and followers alike followed the inspiration of the Spirit, we too can hear a voice from heaven. 

All too often though, we follow other voices.  The prince of this world, Satan himself tries to lure and entice humanity with sweet and seductive words.  He did so with our first parents, “Did God really say…?” 

Soon humanity fell; sin and death entered the world.  Soon Adam and Eve hear the voice of God calling to them in the cool of the morning, and they were afraid.

Today, a cacophony of voices tries and competes for our attention at times drowning out the voice from heaven.

What voices have you followed?  What voices are in your ears? 

I can only speak for myself, but at times the voice of worldly treasure or earthly pleasure ring loudest in my ears.  I find myself again and again giving in to the temptation of the evil one. 

Take a moment and reminisce over the past week.  How often have you listened to the distracting words of this world, forsaking the voice from heaven?

Was it in the reaction to a loved one, words said in haste that injured or betrayed?  Was it not saying a word when you should have stood up in defense of another?

Where did you once again fall victim to following where you know you shouldn’t have gone. 

It’s been said that science and technology can magnify the human voice enormously, but it cannot do a thing with the voice of conscience. 

Does your conscience betray you?  Do the voices in your head condemn you?  Having a hard time shaking the guilt of your action or inaction?

If so, let me remind you, that a voice from heaven has spoken over you.  For some it was when you first encountered God’s Word and faith was formed.

For many it was on the day of your baptism, heaven opened, and a voice from heaven said, “This is my child, whom I love, I am pleased with you.”

At the moment of your baptism heaven opened and God’s powerful Word was spoken over you.  As the water flowed upon you it had power and brought forgiveness and in that moment you were claimed as a child of God and your sins were washed away. 

It might seem strange to think that ordinary water could do such an extraordinary thing, but listen to how Marin Luther described it. 

“When God said: ‘Let the waters bring forth abundantly’, the water was no longer what is was at first; but now it was full of fish.  Just so Baptism too, is merely water before the Word of God is added to it; it is ordinary water of which a…cook may use for boiling and washing.  However, when the Word of God is pronounced over it, so that Baptism is to be administered in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit it possess the power and might to wash away sin and to save from death.” 

A voice from heaven still speaks to you.  Every time you hear or read God’s Word His voice is heard.  Every time you encounter water you can be reminded of the powerful event where heaven opened, a voice was spoken, and you became His child. 

For me it was the voice of my earthly father as I was brought to the waters of Baptism on May 10, 1970 when I was just 9 days old. 

For some of you it was the voice of Pastor Loesch, or Mueller, or Rutledge, or Kuntz, or Bunnett, or Kritzer, or Moorman, or countless others that God used to bring the saving flood to you. 

If you or someone in your family has not been baptized I encourage you to talk to me, pastor K, or someone else on staff.  If you want more information about Baptism, I invite you to check out the Bethany Facebook page where I posted a video about Baptism.  Feel free to share that with your friends and family as well. 

On this day as we remember the baptism of Jesus, we to seek to listen to that voice from heaven who says to you, “You are my child whom I love, I am pleased with you.”

-Pastor Seth Moorman

Monday, January 15, 2018

The One Year Bible- January 15th

In seminary I took a class called Biblical Theology and Exegesis.  Don’t get too impressed.  I am convinced that theologians want to sound smart, so they use technical names for most of the classes.  For example in Seminary I took:  Hermeneutics, Homiletics, and Old Testament Isagogics.  In regular English that means I took Bible study, preaching, and Old Testament history (I hope I didn’t give away any company secrets).  Anyway, part of Biblical Theology and Exegesis is seeing the whole story of the Bible.  My textbook gave this definition, “Biblical theology is principally concerned with the overall theological message of the whole Bible.  It seeks to understand the various parts in relation to the whole.”  This is exactly what I try to do each week with our studies.  I guess I didn’t even know that I have been teaching a class in Biblical Theology every week on the internet for over five years.  Well, I hope that through these studies you will start to see the whole picture and the overall theme of God’s Word.  At the end of the first chapter of my textbook it says, “The Bible is about humankind falling into sin, and God’s determination to put things right.  It is about salvation, God’s rescue plan for human beings under judgment.  It is about the worship of the one true God and the rejection of the gods that fail.”  Lets all try to keep this in mind as we journey in God’s Word together.

Seth’s Thoughts

Old Testament
The opening stories of the Old Testament revolve around what we call the Patriarchs. This includes Adam, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph. The first week of the year we sped through many generations as well as many years but this week we have been focusing on one family. This family has some issues.  Jacob is encouraged by his mother to pretend to be his brother so that Isaac will give him the family blessing.  If this sounds dysfunctional you are right. We will see plenty of dysfunctional behavior in the Old Testament. Remember the Old Testament is setting the stage for the coming of the Messiah, the one that was to save the people. Just wait until we get into the book of Judges and then we will see some real dysfunctional behavior. That PLR (people, land, relationship) promise that we talked about last week comes back (in whole or in part) quite often.  We saw it multiple times this week.  Each time I read it I put the letters PLR in the margin. I hope you begin to see that this is an important promise. This becomes the foundation for all the other promises that God will make in the Old Testament, including the coming of the Messiah. We read about Jacob and his rather strange relationship with his father-in-law, and then his odd relationship between him and his bickering wives. Once again we see some facets of dysfunctional behavior, but we also see that God will be faithful and keep his promise. The story of Joseph is one of the longest stories in the Old Testament. I will have more to say about this story later. For now be sure to catch all the details and see if they remind you of any other stories in the Bible.  Perhaps some of you are familiar with the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical called Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.  This musical is a pretty faithful rendition of the story and if you get confused you may want to rent the movie version.  It stars Donny Osmond (don’t let that scare you) and has an appearance by Joan Collins (don’t let that scare you either). 

New Testament
In our readings from this week we find that Jesus still continues to teach, and heal and now he is starting to generate some interest. John’s disciples start to question him about things and we get a deeper glimpse into the ministry of Jesus. Chapter 10 has some interesting things to say about going out and speaking about Jesus, but remember that Jesus was speaking to 12 Jewish men in Israel almost 2000 years ago. It can be dangerous to make some one for one comparisons with these teachings and today. One very interesting section in our reading is found in chapter 12:13. Jesus uses some Old Testament stories to bring light to his earthly ministry. He gives us some clues about the end of his earthly ministry as he compares himself to Jonah. This is a fascinating passage for theologians as it sheds light not only on the work of Jesus but also the reason that the book of Jonah is in the Old Testament.  For those of you at Bethany, we will be studying the book of Jonah this Lenten season.  In that study we will explore this relationship ever further. Jesus also says that he is greater than Solomon. This was a big claim because no one was a wise as Solomon especially in the eyes of a Jewish person.  It is also another place that shows the relationship between the Old and New Testaments.

Bits and Pieces
One thing I think I forgot to mention last week. Every time you read the word LORD (in all capitals) in the Old Testament, the translators are saying this is the proper name Yahweh. It is God’s personal name. Remember that Moses is the one writing the first five books and he was the one to whom God revealed that name. So it makes sense that he uses it in his writing. 

Another thing I want to point out to you is the use of names.  Names are important in the Bible.  like I just said above LORD is translated from Yahweh which means “I Am who I Am”.  It sounds rather nebulous to us but how could you try to contain God in a few letters no matter what language it is in.  On to my point, we have seen quite a few names, the names of people and places.  If you are reading through the NIV or the ESV you will notice that every time we encounter a new name there is a footnote.  If you follow those footnotes you will find some more information about the name.  For example, when Isaac was born we read in the footnote that Isaac means “he laughs”.  Some of these names have some theological significance.  The name Jacob means “he grasps the heel” which is an idiom for someone who deceives which is just what he does to his brother twice.  Later in the story we will get to Joshua.  His name means “the LORD saves”.  This is the same name that is translated as Jesus in the New Testament.  Makes sense doesn’t it.  The phrase Jesus Saves is almost redundant.  I will try to point out some of these names when they come up but feel free to follow the footnotes to get some more information.  

That is about all for now, but one word of encouragement. If you get behind in your reading don’t try to catch up all at once. Just double up your readings each day and soon you will be back on track. The other option is to just let some of the readings go, like water under the bridge and just pick up on the current day. Either way you are still in the Word, and that is a good thing. Have a great week and look for a new post next week!!

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