Tuesday, March 26, 2019

The Bethany Bullet Sermon Message - Week of March 24, 2019

Sermon: “Anointed”

Where would you go if you knew you only had a few days to live?

Jesus heads to Bethany!  Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus, heads to where she has been before - Jesus' feet.  At the feet of Jesus we've found her being blessed.  At the feet of Jesus we've found her broaching a burden.  Now, at the feet of Jesus we find her bringing her best!

Mary anoints Jesus.  She is anointing her prophet; He who has spoken the Word to her.  She is anointing her priest; He who has cared for her in her deepest pain.  She is anointing her King; He is set to enter the holy city to waving palms and communal cheers.  Yet, this anointing is not for a coronation but an execution.  He is being anointed not in order to ascend a throne but to be suspended from a cross.  As He Himself states, this anointing is for His burial. He is anointed with oil at Bethany, but shortly on Calvary He shall be anointed with the guilt of humanity, only to thereafter be anointed with God's wrath toward sin in its entirety. 

It is after His anointing but prior to His explaining its purpose that Judas decries the event.  He does so, as John says, because he was a thief who stole from the treasury.  He is more than that!  He is the fella who feigns spirituality to cloak his carnality.  He is the guy who takes and takes and takes but never gives...the person who demeans the laudable work of others to cover over the laxness and lured work of himself; the person who criticizes the sacrificial gifts of others while never offering an offering of his own.  As much as the room absorbs the scent of the perfume poured on Jesus, Judas is absorbed with himself.

Self absorption is our natural state.  We are - by sin - bent in - on self.  Yet, as His anointed children, anointed in water and Word at baptism, anointed with mercy and forgiveness by the grace of God in Christ, anointed by the Spirit through faith, are given a new nature. 


N - ew
O - rientation
I - n
N - ature
T - urned (the)
E - xternal
D - irection

Which means - we are free to find ourselves at Jesus' feet being blessed, broaching or burdens and bringing our best. 
 -Pr. Kevin Kritzer

Monday, March 25, 2019

The One Year Bible- March 25th

When I was in high school, I played on the basketball team.  My first year I warmed the bench for the freshman “A” team.  I would have liked to actually play on the “B” team but my coach was great and wanted me on his team.  My sophomore year was a blur and I think I played a total of three minutes but I loved being part of a team.  My junior year I got cut from the team and I poured my heart out to the coach and asked to just be able to practice with the team.  He said “no” but the varsity coach put me back on the team, (I think there is a story of redemption there but that is not where I am going).  Needless to say I played a total of zero minutes that year, but I never missed a practice and I worked my tail off.  My senior year I made the varsity team and was encouraged by a great coach.  Gene Campbell will always have a place of honor in my heart.  He not only put me back on the JV team the previous year, he gave me shot as a senior.  His pre-game speeches were amazing.  Our team was picked by the local paper to come in last in the league; we were small, un-athletic, and inexperienced.  That did not stop Coach Campbell from giving us confidence and inspiring us to be more than we were told we could be.  We finished the year in fourth place out of ten teams.  We missed the playoffs but made everyone stop and notice us.  I see Moses as that type of person for the people of Israel.  If the paper did a story on them, they would be picked last among the people in the area, they were small, un-athletic, and very inexperienced, but Moses had confidence in them.  As he stands at the boarder of the Promised Land, he recounts the history of the people and gets them ready and pumped up for the battle ahead.  This is how I view the book of Deuteronomy.  Keep this in mind as you read the rest of the book.  On to the rest of the study...

Seth’s Thoughts 

The Old Testament
I want to spend some time this week talking about one of the most important passages in the Hebrew Bible.  “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.  Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. (Deuteronomy 6:4-5 NIV).  Mark Braun in his commentary on the book of Deuteronomy says the following:

“Israel did not worship a pantheon of gods; their God was one, undivided.  Because of that, God wanted them to give him undivided loyalty.  The Baals of Canaan were manmade pictures of the various forces of nature, but Israel’s God was one.  “Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one” is the deepest statement of God’s nature as one Lord.  For centuries the Jews have called this their Shema, from the first Hebrew word of this phrase.  Observant Jews still say the Shema twice each day, as part of their morning and evening prayers, yet it is not so much a prayer as a statement of faith.”

This idea of one God is known as monotheism.  It was a distinctive feature of the Hebrew religion.  Many ancient peoples believed in many gods, or pantheism.  But the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is the God of the whole earth, the only true God.  This was an important insight for the nation of Israel because they were about to enter a land filled with people who believed in many gods.  God reminds the people over and over again before they enter the land, not to have anything to do with these other gods.  We shall soon see that this is a bit of foreshadowing, as the gods of the land of Canaan are the cause of many problems and eventually captivity and exile for the people. 

Right after the Shema, Moses then gives some instructions to the people regarding education.  The LORD wanted to make sure that the following generations would hear the stories and know of the love and mercy of God and his statutes and teachings for His people.  “These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts.  Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.  Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.  Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates” (Deuteronomy 6: 6-9 NIV). 

Mark Braun continues in his commentary:

“God wanted education in the faith to be a family thing.  God didn’t want his people confining it to Sabbath days, leaving it to the religious professionals to conduct.  Moses’ words in verses 7-9 were probably meant in a figurative way; parents were to talk about their relationship with their Savior God and they went about their day-to-day lives.  Many later Jews, however, took these versed literally.  Jewish males, thirteen and older, tie phylacteries on to their foreheads and their left arms—two little black boxes containing tiny parchment scrolls on which are written four passages of the Hebrew Scriptures.  Observant Jews also fasten mezuzoth to the door frames of their homes and public buildings—small wooden or metal boxes that hold two scrolls on which are written this verse and Deuteronomy 11:13-21.  The Jewish teacher Maimonides said that those who look upon the mezuzoth and the phylacteries as lucky charms are ignorant, yet by obeying Moses’ words literally, many Jews many have found these outward symbols served as strong reminders of their faith.  Crosses or pictures of Jesus serve a similar purpose in our homes.”

Jesus makes mention of this practice in Matthew 23 when he says, “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat. So you must obey them and do everything they tell you...
Everything they do is done for men to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long; they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; they love to be greeted in the marketplaces and to have men call them 'Rabbi.'”  Jesus points out that although the Pharisees seem to be doing the things on the outside right, they are not right on the inside.  They need to do what Moses intended.  The word must come out through our actions (tied to our hands) and should be always on our minds (tied to our foreheads). 


Here are some pictures of phylacteries and mezuzoths that may help:

The New Testament
We continue our journey in Luke and there are some amazing passages from this past week’s readings. I like the quote from Jesus, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick” (Luke 5:31 NIV).  We are all definitely sick because of sin. We are all in need of a doctor and the great physician; Jesus himself is there for us. You may have wondered about this “Son of Man” reference that Jesus keeps making reference to. I could write a book about it but the short answer is that he is most likely making reference to Daniel 7 where a “son of man” comes in glory from the clouds to rule. This was what Jesus was on earth to do. I will try to remember to talk about that when we get into Daniel (in November).

Jesus’ teachings on loving your enemies should make us all a bit uncomfortable. Do we really have to love them? Remember that because of sin we are enemies of God. He still loved us so much that he sent Jesus to die in our place for us. How many of you would die for your friends let alone your enemies. Just amazing. To a Jew the heart was the center of the emotions, as well as all reason and intellect. When Jesus talks about the good things and the evil things that come from our hearts would really hit home. He is not just talking about emotions here. This is the whole shootin’ match. What you say flows from what is in your heart. So that begs the question, what is in your heart? Is it sin or is it love. If it is sin how can you get rid of it? If it is love, how did it get there? The only way the sin will be removed is through what Jesus did for us. Because of his death he has removed that sin and has put in it’s place love. “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19).

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

The Bethany Bullet Sermon Message - Week of March 17, 2019

Sermon: “Jesus Doesn’t Give Out Clean Slates”

St. Paul begins his letter to the Romans with the bold proclamation that the Gospel is not a second chance opportunity but the very gift of salvation itself. 

We all can recall a time when we saw names (ours or classmates) on a chalk or white board in school filled with tally marks behind them.  These were not, usually, to note noble actions but rather to count "naughty" transgressions.  Our tally marks in eternity would be plenty!  Yet, Jesus comes and turns each mark into a cross +.

Our transgressions become His own; "Father count these against me!" is essentially what our Lord says. 

This is the Good News!

We’ve become recipients of such Good News, our response (Paul says elsewhere in the letter to the Romans) is not to see how many tally marks we can amass, "Shall we let sin increase so that grave can increase - never!"  Rather, in response to a "clean slate" the apostle will unashamedly share the Good News, unselfishly seek to live a life of service to God and others, and unabashedly forgive as he's been forgiven.
 -Pr. Kevin Kritzer

Monday, March 18, 2019

The One Year Bible- March 18

We are just about at the time of the year where many of the trees start to leaf out. It is an exciting time of the year when we see blossoms on plants, the days getting longer and the temperatures climbing. Spring is in the air and I think it is kinda neat that during this season we celebrate Easter. Now, I know I am getting ahead of myself since we are still a few weeks away and Lent is still in full swing, but as we look to the changes that are taking place on the earth, new life and new growth, I can’t help but think about the new life that has been given to all of us because of Jesus’ victory over death. When you see the new life springing from the ground, think about Jesus and the new life granted to us and guaranteed by what he did on the cross and his “springing” from the ground in his wonderful resurrection. On to the study...

Seth’s Thoughts

The Old Testament
Numbers is a strange book. It combines the narrative with some rules and regulations and then the “numbers” of counting and census taking. It can be hard to keep track of the story. I found myself turning back the pages a few times to remember what we read (this is not such a bad idea to do once in a while). A few things stuck out for me this week. The name of Baalam comes up again in the New Testament book of Revelation. I don’t know how much you know about the book of Revelation (and we don’t have time here to discuss in detail) but at the beginning of the book, Jesus gives John a message for seven churches. One of the letters warns of holding to the teaching of Baalam. This is the only place in the New Testament that makes reference to this story. Baalam knew about Yahweh but he took money from king Balak to give a curse against the people of Israel. Baalam gave in to the money and compromised his faith for the sake of material gain. I think that many in our world have compromised their faith or their beliefs for monetary gain as well. We outwardly worship the Lord but our hearts lust after wealth. This is the main message of the story. This lesson is important enough for John to mention it in the book of Revelation. Baalam ends up dying at the hands of the Israelites a few chapters later (31:8).

Another amazing event takes place in chapter 31. As the Lord commands the people to take revenge on the Midianites, they completely destroy them with the Lord’s help. This is amazing in and of itself but what really got to me was the fact that when the generals and captains gave a report to Moses they said, “Your servants have counted the soldiers under our command, and not one is missing.” (31:49 NIV) How amazing is that!!! They go to battle and no one is killed?? No friendly fire, no accidents, not even one lost battle. This should have been a sign to the people to trust in God, but as we shall see, the people will start to trust in themselves and not in God and things go wrong. In chapter 33 we have a very important task and warning from God. As the people are on the edge of the Promised Land, they get a command from God, “Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, When you pass over the Jordan into the land of Canaan, then you shall drive out all the inhabitants of the land from before you and destroy all their figured stones and destroy all their metal images and demolish all their high places. And you shall take possession of the land and settle in it, for I have given the land to you to possess it... if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you, then those of them whom you let remain shall be as barbs in your eyes and thorns in your sides, and they shall trouble you in the land where you dwell. And I will do to you as I thought to do to them.” We will see that this is one of the main problems for the Israelites in the Promised Land. God told them what to do and they didn’t quite get the job done.

As we begin the book of Deuteronomy this week, don’t be puzzled by the fact that Moses retells almost the entire story of the history of God’s chosen people. I will have more to say about that next week, but I like to think of this book as Moses’ pre-game speech to the team led by Joshua. They were about to engage the enemy in battle and standing on the eastern bank of the Jordan, Moses encourages and motivates the people to do what God has been preparing for a long time. They were on the verge of taking possession of the promise that was given so long ago to Abraham. It is an exciting time, and time filled with some fear and expectation as well.

The New Testament
Luke is a great storyteller. He weaves a wonderful story together. Luke tells of three “songs” in the beginning of the book; Mary’s song, Zechariah’s song and Simeon’s song. All three of them are wonderful examples of praising God. Mary gives glory to God for the gift she has been given, Zechariah praises God for his mercy, and Simeon thanks God for the fulfillment of his promises through the Christ Child. These “songs” give a depth of emotion not found in the other Gospel accounts. If you grew up in a Lutheran Church that used the old 1941 hymnal you probably know Simeon’s song by heart (by the way it has made a comeback in the new Lutheran Service Book p.p. 199-200). I love that song. I will admit as a child I liked that song because that meant the service was almost over, but as I grew older that song and the words had an impact on me. Those of you who know the tune can sing along:

Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace according to Thy word, For mine eyes have seen Thy Salvation: which Thou hast prepared before the face of all people. A light to lighten the Gentiles and the Glory of Thy people Israel. Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost; As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be world without end AMEN.

After his baptism and a list of his earthly ancestors, Jesus’ ministry begins in earnest. He first is tempted in the desert and rejected in Nazareth. I could just imagine the scene in the synagogue where Jesus gets up to read for the service and at the end hearing him say “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” I think that would be one of the most exciting times for those who believed that the Messiah was coming soon. Was this guy the one that was promised? Could he be the Messiah that we have been waiting for? Can we like Simeon, now die in peace? For some this guy was a blasphemer and a troublemaker. I hope I would know that this is the Christ the son of the living God. Soon we see that the Pharisees start looking for ways to get rid of Jesus. They see him forgiving sins, and healing on the Sabbath.

One other interesting point Luke makes is that he sets the story in a historical context. One of the knocks on the Bible is that it is just some fanciful story that was made up by the writers. One way Luke gives some credibility to his book is that he places it within the frame of history. This makes the document have more legitimacy outside of religious circles because of the verifiable evidence of history. At the beginning of Chapter 3 Luke writes, “In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar—when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, Herod tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of Iturea and Traconitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene— during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas,...” All of these people can be verified to have existed using extra-biblical sources. Luke wants to let his readers know that he is not just making this stuff up. This was a very important point in the third century when the formation of the New Testament was happening. The inclusion of this information (as well as other factors) gave Luke a solid historical footing for inclusion in the New Testament.

Bits and Pieces

We will start the book of Deuteronomy this week. Here are the vital stats for the book:
PURPOSE: To remind the people of what God had done and encourage them to rededicate their lives to him
AUTHOR: Moses (except for the final summary which may have been written by Joshua)
TO WHOM WRITTEN: Israel (the new generation entering the promised land)
LAW THEMES: Devoted to destruction, hard-hearted, laws of the covenant, snare of idolatry, cursing
GOSPEL THEMES: Redemption- “I am the Lord, your God”, inheritance, righteousness by God’s Word, promises of the covenant, God’s love and calling, atonement, faithfulness, blessing
SETTING: The east side of the Jordan River, in view of Canaan
KEY VERSE: “Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments. (7:9)
KEY PEOPLE: Moses and Joshua

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

The Bethany Bullet Sermon Message - Week of March 10, 2019

Sermon: “The God Who Sees”

The story of Hagar, recorded in Genesis 16, reveals our God as one "hears" and "sees"!  Our God hears your pleas and praises; He sees your pain and pleasure.  He is neither absent nor isolated.

Of course, in the story at hand He saw and heard those who would distrust His promises, disobey His commands and dismiss the struggles and sorrows of others.  In spite of these actions (sinful as they be) God manifests Himself in physical presence and finds Hagar who’s fled her master. 

Such distrust, disobedience and dismissals are not confined to Biblical characters.  The result is similar too, we often find ourselves fleeing or causing others to do the same.  In spite of our sin, God in Christ does more than manifest His presence momentarily; He becomes a man...eternally.   Following His incarnation, Jesus is and ever shall be Perfect Man and Perfect God in ONE person. 

In His earthly life Jesus becomes the one individual to whom heaven closed its ears and averted its eyes.  The God who "hears" and "sees" and finds the outcast, the refugee, the wanderer, abandons the one He sent, condemns sin and redeems sinners that He might ever "hear" and "see" us, through grace in Christ, as His saints. 
 -Pr. Kevin Kritzer

Monday, March 11, 2019

The One Year Bible- March 11th

With Lent beginning and our calendars filling up quickly, it may be time to reevaluate your reading plan.  About every three months or so it is good to do a little check-up.  Have you been able to keep up with your daily readings?  If not, do you know why?  What can be done to tweak your routine to find time to read?  I settled into a routine a few years ago and it has worked for me.  My weekends are quite busy so I have been doing two readings a day on Monday through Thursday and taking a break Friday through Sunday.  This plan gives me one day of wiggle room in case I really get bogged down with other things.  The important thing is to find a time that works and stick to it.  Soon it will become habit.  Please let me know if I can help out in any way!  On to the study...

Seth’s Thoughts

The Old Testament

As we have said before, the book of Numbers has a general them of grumbling and complaining by the people.  Time and time again God tries to show the people his love but the people don’t seem to get it.  The phrase that God uses over and over to show is Grace is, “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt to be your God. I am the LORD your God.” (Numbers 15:41 NIV).  This is almost the same phrase God uses when he gives the law with the Ten Words (Ten Commandments).  God reminds the people that the relationship he has with them is based on Grace.  That being said, God is still a jealous God, who is Holy (meaning without sin and hating sin), therefore he cannot just turn a blind eye to the grumbling and disobedience of the people.  A few examples to illustrate my point:

Their first complaint resulted in God sending a fire to destroy the people. Moses prayed to God and the fire left. One verse later the people start complaining again! Now they want meat. They were sick of this manna stuff and they longed to be back in Egypt. Moses even gets agitated with the people. But God, in his mercy, gives them meat to eat. So much meat that they get sick of it. Moses then selects 12 men to go into the Promised Land to check it out and when they return, 10 of the men say that Israel should not go in because the people are giants. Only Joshua and Caleb give a true account. They trust in God’s promises. So the people started complaining again. They even wanted to kill Caleb and Joshua. God gets fed up with this group and tells them that none of them will even enter the Promised Land.

Chapter 16 tells the story of the rebellion of Korah. This story serves as a lesson to all those who do not trust God. All those who followed Korah were either killed by fire or swallowed up by the earth. Then God wants to destroy all the people, but God in his mercy hears the cry of his people and spares them. (Do you see a theme here?) Surely this will put an end to the complaining. But as soon as they run out of water they rebel again. But God in his mercy hears the cry of his people and provides for them.

Then Moses gets into trouble by not giving credit to God for providing the water from the rock and he finds out that he will not enter the Promised Land. So the people start complaining again in Chapter 21. So God sends snakes to kill the people. But God in his mercy hears their cries for help. He tells Moses to put a snake on a pole and those who look at it will live. This is a foreshadowing of Christ, because those who look upon Jesus (on a pole a.k.a. the cross) will be saved (“Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up” –John 3:14). Our readings for this week ended with the people looking for safe passage through some of the lands near Canaan. They get themselves into trouble by trying to fight when God said not to.

Next up is the story of Baalam. This is a story that tells about the power of God. Baalam knows the true God, but Baalam was not always faithful. King Balak wants Baalam to curse the people but Baalam will not because the Lord (Yahweh) is with them. God also shows his power by making Baalam’s donkey talk. God will use any means necessary to get his message across.

I hope you can see that our God is a God of mercy.  He showed that mercy ultimately in the person of his son Jesus Christ who was the ultimate sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins. 

The New Testament

We finished up Mark’s Gospel and it was a quick journey. It is believed that Mark was the first account of Jesus that was written. And it ends just as it begins, with action. In quick succession we have the Last Supper, the time in the garden, the trial, the crucifixion, the resurrection, and Mark’s version of the Great Commission. Like Matthew, Mark mentions the Temple curtain being torn in two. This was very significant. Remember from our readings in the Old Testament that there was a curtain that separated the holy place from the most holy place and that only the high priest could enter it and then only once a year on the Day of Atonement. When that curtain tore, it showed that we no longer need a human person to go to God for us. Jesus has restored our relationship with the father and now we can approach him because of Christ. The book of Hebrews really drives this point home. It is also interesting that Matthew, Mark, and Luke all say that it tore from top to bottom. Thus signifying this was from God.  There is an interesting bit of text at the beginning and end of the book that serve as bookends for Mark.  In Chapter 1 he writes, “The beginning of the Gospel about Jesus Christ, the Son of God”.  Then in Chapter 15 verse 39 we read this that came from the mouth of the Roman centurion, “Surely this man was the Son of God”.  Everything in between these two verses tells us all about the ministry of Jesus.  Now of course the resurrection was coming but that was just more proof as to who Jesus is.  One other textual note, I am sure that you noticed that at the end of Marks Gospel there was some note saying something like “The earliest manuscripts and some other ancient witnesses do not have Mark 16:9-20”.  That is not to say that they are not Biblical.  The translators want the reader to know that there are some textual problems with these verses.  For the most part the problems do not go so far as to place a great deal of doubt in these verses but theologians do not generally use these verses as proof texts for doctrine. 

As we begin the book of Luke I want you to notice the different style that Luke uses as compared to Mark.  Luke seems to take more time in the story telling and uses “songs” to show some of the emotion behind the stories.  Many have said that Mark is the Gospel for guys and Luke is for the ladies.  I know that is stereotyping but I hope that helps you see the difference in the books. 

Have a great week!!

Tuesday, March 05, 2019

The Bethany Bullet Sermon Message - Week of March 3, 2019

“Our Lord and Master Jesus Christ, when he said, ‘Repent’ he willed the entire life of believers be one of repentance.” This is the first of Luther’s Ninety-Five Theses. When the Reformers addressed this in truth in the Augsburg Confession they wrote, “Repentance consists of contrition and faith.” The Reformers understood contrition to be terror on account of our sins and sorrow over our sins; while faith they understood to be complete confidence that by God’s grace, for Christ’s sake, sins are forgiven.

In his preface to the Lenten Devotional The Sinner/Saint, Daniel Emery Price reflects upon how the parable of Jesus recorded in Luke 15 is a beautiful picture of “repentance.” “Contrition is the Prodigal’s return, and          Absolution is the Father’s response.”  He continues, “The prodigal was only half right. Repentance doesn’t look like cutting a deal with your Father to work off your sins, but it does look like going home.” “Grace gives each Prodigal every reason to believe the good news that he is forgiven.”

This Lenten Season both our Sunday morning proclamation and our Wednesday evening reflections will flow from and focus upon the themes for the day presented in the Lenten Devotional, The Sinner/Saint.  We invite you to pick up a copy of this devotional for your daily devotions at home this penitential season.  For this work reminds us that, “There is no repentance apart from Christ.  There is no Lent apart from His suffering on our behalf.  There is no hope apart from His righteousness gifted to us.  Dear Sinner/Saint, prepare to be told to go home to your forgiving Father over and over” this Lenten Season. Copies can be obtained through Amazon and there is also a Kindle version. Click HERE for the link to order this devotional.

Our Midweek Lenten worship opportunities this year will be offered on TWO campuses. The same text and theme for the day from The Sinner/Saint will be used. At 12:00 noon on the campus of The Gathering Lutheran Church (in Long Beach on Atlantic and 10th) we will have a short service of the Word followed by coffee and conversation. At 7:00PM in the gym here at Bethany Lutheran Church (BLC) we will have a service that will include corporate singing, prayers, confessions and meditation with a short time of group reflection and conversation on the text; this will be preceded by soup supper starting at 5:30PM.

Ash Wednesday worship opportunities will be on Bethany’s campus at 9:00AM (school chapel), 4:00PM and 7:00PM in the gym and at The Gathering at noon. Maundy Thursday worship will take place at The Gathering at 12:00 noon and Bethany at 7:00PM. Good Friday worship will take place at Bethany at 10:00AM and 7:00PM and The Gathering at 12:00 noon.
 -Pr. Kevin Kritzer

Monday, March 04, 2019

The One Year Bible- March 4th

So far, so good! We have already read three of the big five books of Moses in the Old Testament and we are almost halfway through the Gospels and it is only March! (Not to mention almost 50 Psalms and 10 chapters of Proverbs) Yes, we have a long way to go, but we have already come so far. I am glad to be out of Leviticus. That is some tough reading. There will be more like it. When we get into Isaiah and Jeremiah (as well as some of the other prophets) the readings will be a bit tedious, but remember that the Bible has one story and that is about Christ. I hope this time in the word will help you as we continue our Lenten journey to the cross.

Seth’s Thoughts

The Old Testament
We finished up Leviticus with a few more regulations. One of the more interesting is the idea of jubilee. Every 50 years all debts were cancelled and the land rested. This was not only good for the land it was good for the society. This limited social stratification that can be divisive within society. The value of land and servants etc was all based on how many years until the next jubilee. This might not be such a bad thing to consider as God’s people today. Anything that can be done to meet the needs of the people must at least be thought of.  Right at the end of the book there is this great word of grace from God, “I will put my dwelling place among you, and I will not abhor you. I will walk among you and be your God, and you will be my people. I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt so that you would no longer be slaves to the Egyptians; I broke the bars of your yoke and enabled you to walk with heads held high.”  (Leviticus 26:11-13 NIV)  Some of this sounds like the beginning of “The Ten Words” and indeed Yahweh is reminding the people of his continued love for the people. This will be important when we get into all the grumbling and complaining in Numbers.  The book of numbers is so named because it starts out will a bunch of numbers.  Don’t get too caught up in all the details here, you may just want to skim some of these parts when you get to them.  In Numbers 6 we see the requirements of one who would be called a Nazirite.  The one Nazirite we will see later will be Sampson.  If you remember his story some of these requirements will make sense to you.  Nazirites dedicated themselves to the service of the Lord for a period of time.  Most of the Lord’s work was done by the Levites but if you were not a Levite you could still serve the Lord as a Nazirite.  Also in chapter 6 is the Aaronic blessing, “The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace” (Numbers 6:24-26 NIV).  This is familiar to must of us but the next verse I thought was quite interesting, “So they will put my name on the Israelites, and I will bless them” (v. 27).  Kinda sounds like baptism to me.  I have not done a deep study on this passage but I just wanted to throw it out there for you.

The New Testament
In our readings in Mark this past week we had a few great stories and a few that have confounded scholars for generations. In ch. 11 we have the story of Palm Sunday and the triumphant entry of Jesus. This story shows a glimpse of the divinity of Jesus as well as point to his role as our King. This story also solidifies him as the promised Messiah. The story of the fig tree is a strange one. Mark divides up the story into two parts. The first part happens right before the clearing of the temple and many scholars believe that Jesus used it as an object lesson. Here was a tree that should have had some fruit on it. Most fig trees begin growing fruit at the same time they begin to grow leaves. If there are leaves on the tree then one should find fruit. Not finding any fruit Jesus curses the tree. The lesson here is that the Jews are the fig tree but they are not producing any fruit. They are just content to grow leaves. But leaves are of no value. It is the fruit that is beneficial. This leads right into the clearing of the temple. Jesus “prunes” the temple so it can bear fruit. The withered fig tree is like those who do not listen to the teaching of Jesus. They will dry up. Jesus uses similar analogies when he talks about the vine and the branches and the idea of good people bear good fruit. Another great teaching is what some scholars call “The Great Commandment”. Jesus sums up all the commandments in two sentences. “Love the Lord your God with all of your heart and with all of your soul and with all of your mind and with all of your strength.” This is a summary of the first three commandments. “Love your neighbor as your self.” This summarizes the other commandments.

Bits and Pieces

Matthew was written for the Jews, Mark for the common man and was most likely Peter’s story. Luke is for those who are scholars and was most likely influenced by the viewpoint of Mary, the mother of Jesus. Luke was a companion of Paul and spent years interviewing eyewitnesses of Jesus Christ. He probably spent time with Matthew and with Mark which explains why many things are repeated in Luke. Luke was a physician who had gone to school for many years. He was fluent in Greek, and the Greek of Luke is some of the most polished (and hard to translate) in all the New Testament. Here are the Vital Stats on the Book:

Purpose: To affirm Theophilus in the Gospel of Jesus, which he learned from others.
Author: Luke—a doctor (Colossians 4:14), a Greek and Gentile Christian. He is the only known Gentile author in the New Testament. Luke was a close friend and companion of Paul. He also wrote Acts, and the two books go together.
To Whom Written: Theophilus (“one who loves God”), Gentiles, and people everywhere
Date Written: About A.D. 60
Setting: Luke wrote from Rome or possible from Caesarea
Key Verses: “Jesus said to him, ‘Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost’” (19:9-10)
Key People: Jesus, Elizabeth, Zechariah, John the Baptist, Mary, the disciples, Herod the Great, Pilate, Mary Magdalene
Key Places: Bethlehem, Galilee, Judea, Jerusalem
Law Themes: the lost; the mighty brought low; destruction of the temple; repentance; call to prayer
Gospel Themes: The found; the humble exalted; God’s presence at the temple; work of the Spirit; promises fulfilled; fellowship meals; call of Gentiles.
Special Features: This is the most comprehensive Gospel. The general vocabulary and diction show that the author was educated. He makes frequent references to illnesses and diagnoses. Luke stresses Jesus’ relationship with people; emphasizes prayer, miracles, and angels; records inspired hymns of praise; and gives a prominent place to women. Most of 9:51 to 18:35 is not found in any other Gospel.

Free Hit Counter