Tuesday, July 30, 2019

The Bethany Bullet Sermon Message - Week of July 28, 2019

Sermon: “A Good Club House”

This coming Sunday we return to our regular worship schedule: 8:00AM, 9:30AM and 10:55AM. 
We also returned to the Sanctuary this past Sunday as well! 

St Paul’s letter to the Colossians remains our reading. 

So far we have been reminded that our Lord’s victory belongs to us and thus we can live like champs!  Of course, this is true of all who belong to Him; and thus ours is a “Good Club House!” 

In the sports world a “good club house” is one in which the team mates put the collective accomplishment of personal achievement, are willing to sacrifice for the benefit of their teammates, listen to the coaching staff and take direction and desire to be part of something greater than self. 

These same truths apply to Christ’s body, the church, as Paul states in the end of the 1st chapter of Colossians. 

Next week we are reminded about the “Ultimate Box Score”; everyone who follows sports has at some point followed a box score.  All who follow Christ have a box score too…next Sunday in the 2nd chapter of the letter to the Colossians we see what it is. 
-Pr. Kevin Kritzer

Monday, July 22, 2019

The One Year Bible- July 22nd

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. 

Monday, July 15, 2019

The One Year Bible- July 15th

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. I need a VACATION!! 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.

Monday, July 08, 2019

The One Year Bible- July 8th

It has been a pretty crazy couple of weeks for me.  VBS finished a few weeks ago, I leave for Minnesota for the LCMS National Youth Gathering today, and I am prepping to go to Alaska on a short term mission trip at the end of the month.  Boy, and I tired!  Getting ready for ministry like this is filled with long hours and a lot of stress.  In many ways it is a microcosm of life.  Jesus didn’t say the following him would be easy, in fact he said it would be filled with difficulties.  But they are all worth it when you see the face of a child who is hearing about Jesus for the first time.  So I encourage you to stay in the Word and know that God is with you every step of the way.  On to the study…

Seth’s Thoughts

The Old Testament
As you have seen, the book of 1 Chronicles starts out with just a bunch of lists and numbers. It is not easy reading (and I will admit that I have skimmed a bit) but it is setting the stage for the story to come. In his book called “A Theology as Big as the City” Ray Bakke gives some insight to 1 and 2 Chronicles:

“I believe the books called Chronicles emerged from documents compiled by folks combing through the ruins of destroyed cities after the captive and exile in Babylon. The events depicted in Chronicles are from the same period as Samuel and Kings, but they represent a theological perspective not originating in the palace. In Chronicles, Israel is viewed as a theocracy. David and Solomon are idealized, and the message is: Here’s how the Lord meets all needs, both material and spiritual.”

Bakke gives me some perspective when reading this book. A few insights from the readings, first the readings are a bit random at first and hard to understand but don’t let that bug you. Don’t worry if you don’t know all the names and even if you skip through some of it. Second, as you read, try to remember the stories as they were written in Samuel or Kings. How are they different? Chronicles does not give all the details but is like the “Readers Digest” version of the story.

The New Testament
We finished up the book of Acts this week with Paul in Rome having survived a shipwreck on the island of Malta. Paul was sent to Rome to have a trial by Caesar even though Felix, Festus and Agrippa all could find no reason to keep him. Felix did hope that Paul would bribe him but Paul didn’t and that is one of the reasons he probably stayed in Caesarea so long. During the hearings, Paul takes the opportunity to share his own testimony and to witness about Jesus Christ. Paul shares his conversion experience again (the third time in Acts) and gives glory to God in all he does. Paul summarizes his doctrine by saying, “But I have had God's help to this very day, and so I stand here and testify to small and great alike. I am saying nothing beyond what the prophets and Moses said would happen— that the Christ would suffer and, as the first to rise from the dead, would proclaim light to his own people and to the Gentiles.” (Acts 26:22-23 NIV). We will see this doctrine again and again as we read through Paul’s letters. A few interesting things at the end of the book, first off, Paul gets bit by a snake and lives! That is pretty cool. The people first thought it was “karma” that a prisoner would get bit by a snake, but when he did not die they all though he was a god. I would like to have known how Paul responded to this, but Luke moves on in the story. We learn that Paul is under house arrest in Rome but many people come to hear him talk and he shares the message of Jesus with them. One thing of note here is that Paul had already sent his letter to the Romans before he even arrived, so there were already believers in the city. An apostle did not start the church in Rome; Jews who were converted in Jerusalem at Pentecost most likely started it. The end of the book is a bit strange. Why do we not know the outcome of the trial with Caesar? How long did Paul stay in Rome? Where did he go after? How did he die? These are all good questions but they don’t all have good answers from scripture. We can piece together the end of Paul’s life from other sources but it is a bit blurry. Some theologians believe that Luke intended to write a third volume to the story. If he did, it has been lost to history. We will have to ask Luke when we get to heaven why the end is so abrupt.

Bits and Pieces
We will start the book of Romans this week. I love this book but I will try to limit my discussions of the text since I could teach a semester class with all the things that we can find in this letter. I will share the big ones with you. Here are the vital stats of the book:

PURPOSE: To introduce Paul to the Romans and to give a sample of his message before he arrives in Rome.
TO WHOM WRITTEN: The Christians in Rome and believers everywhere
DATE WRITTEN: About A.D. 57, from Corinth as Paul was preparing for his visit to Jerusalem.
SETTING: Apparently Paul had finished his work in the east, and he planned to visit Rome on his way to Spain after first bringing a collection to Jerusalem for the poor Christians there. The Roman church was mostly Jewish but also contained a number of Gentiles.
KEY VERSES: “The righteous will live by faith” (1:17b) “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (5:1)
KEY PEOPLE: Paul, Phoebe
SPECIAL FEATURES: Paul wrote Romans as an organized and carefully presented statement of his faith—it does not have the form of a typical letter. He does, however, spend considerable time greeting people in Rome at the end of the letter.
Have a great week!!

Monday, July 01, 2019

The Bethany Bullet Sermon Message - Week of June 30, 2019

Sermon: “When Life is Wild…God is Good!”
Text: Nahum 1:7

This past week almost 150 kids came to Bethany for Vacation Bible School.  Every day was filled with laughter and song, story and snack as the kids learned that when life is wild…God is good.

Honestly, it is one of my favorite weeks of the year.  Sure, the days start early and run long, but to see God at work is amazing.  I hope the kids all had a roaring good time as they learned all about the goodness of God.  I hope you too will encounter God’s goodness as he comes to you in these words and that you may know that no matter what comes in life, that God is good!

I have some vivid memories of Vacation Bible School as a child.  I remember singing songs and playing, hearing stories and making crafts but the most powerful memory I have of VBS is from when I was about 5 years old.  I remember sitting on the floor of a room at church with red shag carpet and my mother telling us stories of the Bible using a flannel graph.  I can smell the paste as we stuck Popsicle sticks together for the craft, and most importantly I remember the feeling of eating a half dozen Oreo cookies, washing them down with about a liter of red punch and then swinging on the swings outside.  It was glorious, and magical.  About that time I fell in love with VBS. It is my prayer that many of the kids who came this year not only fell in love with VBS but came to know the love and goodness of God as well. 

This morning I want to give you an overview of our week, to have you glimpse what took place here so that your faith might be strengthened and that you might have a deeper love for the goodness of God. 

The theme verse for VBS this week was from the Old Testament prophet Nahum who writes, “The Lord is good, a strong refuge when trouble comes.” (Nahum 1:7) 

All week we heard about the goodness of God and on Monday we learned that when life is unfair…God is good!

The kids experienced a little bit about what life was like for God’s people who were in slavery in Egypt. 
They encountered some of the Egyptian slave drivers who made them work and put unrealistic expectations upon them.  They felt how unfair it was for them to have to work so hard and were destined for failure.  Slavery was terrible and demoralizing. 

But, it’s our existence too.  We are all slaves to sin.  Satan spins lies that say we need to work to earn God’s love.  He has blinded us by unrealistic expectations and we have lost sight of our true identity.  In Christ we find refuge and strength.  In Christ we see the goodness of God in the flesh and as the Israelites were freed from their captivity, we too have been freed from the slavery of sin and by grace we have been saved through faith, so when trouble comes we find our refuge in Jesus and we come to understand that when life is unfair…God is good!

On Tuesday the kids heard the story of the plagues that were sent to Egypt and learned that when life is scary…God is good!

As the plagues decimated the land, it was a scary time, but the kids heard some wonderful words of King David, “Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me.” (Psalm 23:4)

The last of the plagues was the most devastating.  The angel of death was to pass through the land, killing the first born in every family.  This plague was the one to finally convince hardhearted Pharaoh to let God’s people go.

In a bit of prophetic and divine foreshadowing, the Israelites were saved by the blood of a lamb who took the place of the firstborn and as the blood was shed and placed on the doorframes of the houses, it became a refuge of strength for the people as the angel of death passed over.

It was Jesus who became our spotless lamb as he willingly gave up his life and shed his blood and became our one true refuge and strength.  By his blood we are saved; through his blood we are strengthened and nourished and washed clean.  This is the goodness of God!  Now we know and have experienced that even when life is scary…God is good!

On Wednesday the story was about God’s people leaving Egypt and entering the wilderness as they learned that when life changes…God is good!

There is an old joke that asks, “How many Lutheran’s does it take to change a light bulb?  The answer is 10; one to do it, and nine to say how much they liked the old one better.”  It’s funny, because it’s true.  We don't do well with change.

Change can be hard.  Even though the people of God were slaves in Egypt and had been granted freedom, they soon began to worry and complain.  Some even wanted to go back to Egypt.  They lost sight of what God had done for them.  Life was different in the desert.  Even though God provided, they wanted more. 

We do the same thing.  Even after we have been brought to faith, we still doubt.  When life changes we feel as if God has abandon us.

Yes, life changes but God did the most amazing change inside us.  Through water and the word our hearts were changed, we were washed clean and we can sing along with the Psalmist, “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good!  His faithful love endures forever.”  (Psalm 106:1)  Changes will come, but God’s faithful love will never change so even when life changes…God is good!

On Thursday the kids heard the story of salvation found in Jesus and that when life is sad…God is good!
Our lives are filled with brokenness.  Our lives have been broken by sin; our hearts are broken by loneliness or anger, or guilt…But as the kids heard from Psalm 34, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted.” (Psalm 34:18)

Sin separates us from God; sin brought sadness and suffering into the world.  Often times we find ourselves feeling sad because things didn't turn out the way we wanted or because we are feeling the effects and the guilt of sin.  There are times where sadness overwhelms us as a loved one passes away and tears stream down our faces. But God did something about that.  It was on a Friday that we call, “Good” where it all changed.  On that day Jesus paid the penalty for all sin and he rose again to defeat death. 

In Him we have new life and as He rises, we too rise and He promises that when He calls us home, “He will wipe every tear from our eyes.” (Revelation 21:4)

While there will be things that will bring sadness to us in this world, we know that even when life is sad…God is good!

On Friday the kids took time to remember.  In their Bible Adventures they carried the Ark of the Covenant across the Jordan River and set up a stone of remembrance as they celebrated the goodness of God who had brought them into the Promised Land and heard that when life is good…God is good!

They learned that Jacob, Joshua and Samuel all set up stones as symbols to remember God’s good and gracious acts done for His people.   The kids confessed along with Nehemiah, “Remember the Lord, who is great and glorious.” (Nehemiah 4:14)

We all have reasons to remember and to celebrate.  It is one of the reasons we are gathered here on the Lord’s Day.  Through worship and song we remember the works of the Lord.  We praise Him for what He has done for us.  In this place we remember the mighty works of the Lord who in love sent Jesus as a sacrifice.  We put up crosses, an instrument of torture, because we remember what took place there.

We set stones upon one another as buildings are built, not to bring glory to us, but to remember that one stone that was rolled away.  We hear the Word of the Lord proclaimed here to remember and to celebrate the goodness of God. We take and eat the bread and we drink the cup in remembrance of Jesus, the light of the world, the true Son of God, our savior, who in love did the good work of the Father so that we can know that when life is good…God is good!

It was an amazing week and through this VBS we hope that many kids will remember the goodness of God and that they will never forget about His love.  May the same be said for us today because when life is wild… God is good!
-Pr. Seth Moorman

Please NOTE:

The Bethany Bullet will go dark the week of July 7, 14, & 21.
The Bullet will resume the week of July 28.

The One Year Bible- July 1st

With the calendar in my office reading July, I wish to congratulate you on reading one half of the Bible!! The year is half way done and we are well on our way to reading all of God’s Word this year. This may be the time to evaluate how you are doing in your reading plan. Is everything going well? Do you need to make any adjustments in your reading plan? Do you need to find a buddy to read with? Let me know how I can help. Keep up all the hard work! On to the study today...

Seth’s Thoughts
The Old Testament We finished up the book of 2nd Kings this week with a flurry of Kings, most of them bad. We read quite often, “but he did what was evil in the LORD’s sight...”. Over and over the kings continued in the sins of the previous rulers. Remember God’s word to Joshua way back, “Make sure you drive out all the people living in the land and do not worship their Gods” (my paraphrase). Well the kings did not do a very good job and now the consequences are going to set in. First it was Israel’s turn to be exiled. The author of 2nd Kings does a great job telling us why, “This disaster came upon the people of Israel because they worshiped other gods. They sinned against the LORD...the followed the practices of the pagan nations...they build pagan shrines...they set up sacred pillars...they offered sacrifices on all the hilltops...they worshiped idols despite the LORD’s specific warnings” (2 Kings 17:7-12 NLT). What were these warnings? Sometimes it is helpful to look at the whole picture. The Old Testament is not in complete chronological order. So far it has worked out, but we will soon see, in the books of 1st and 2nd Chronicles, that this is not always the case. One thing that is difficult is the warnings most often came from the prophets. God sent his holy men to warn the kings and the people what would happen if they did not turn back to YAHWEH. Isaiah and Jeremiah are two prophets who gave many warnings. We must remember this context when we get into these two long books a bit later in the year. There are some Bibles out there called “Chronological Bibles” that insert the warnings of the prophets into the narrative story. This can be very helpful to remember the context of the prophets. We do get a couple of good kings, Hezekiah was pretty good Josiah was even better, but even these two kings could not stop the exile from happening. One neat thing from 2 Kings 19, when Isaiah speaks he mentions “The Holy One of Israel”. Remember this term. We will see it over and over again in the prophetic books. Almost always it is used in reference to the promised Messiah (Much more on this when we are in the book of Isaiah later this year). One really great thing that happened during the reign of Josiah was that the book of the Law was found. How did it get lost? This does answer some of the questions about how king after king did not follow the Law of YAHWEH. Josiah had the book of the Law read to the people and they began to come back to the LORD. I am of the opinion that God used Josiah to get the people ready for the exile. God had promised that a remnant would return (through the prophet Isaiah). This remnant will build the city up again. Israel went to exile never to be heard from again but Judah had the promise of the Davidic covenant and we will soon see how God will be faithful even to his unfaithful people. The city of Jerusalem lies in ruins, the people have been exiled and all hope seems to be lost.
The New Testament We continued the story of Paul at the end of his third missionary journey. It seems that everywhere Paul went, there was some sort of trouble. There was trouble in Ephesus, and then big time trouble in Jerusalem. Even in all of this trouble and turmoil, Paul remains calm and cool. He stays focused on his mission, to spread the message of Jesus Christ. Paul knew that he was to go to Rome. It will not happen the way he wants it to but I am getting ahead of the story. You can tell a lot about Paul by from this quote, “However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace.” (Acts 20:24 NIV). May we all have the same conviction as Paul!! We read just one chapter later, “I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” (Acts 21:13 NIV). I am truly humbled when I read of the conviction of Paul. Paul gets into some hot water with the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem and they try to kill him. Paul gives a great sermon and testimony on the steps of the governor’s palace. I am sure that there were some who heard his message and believed but many still wanted his head. The Roman commander ordered Paul to be whipped but once it was learned that he was a Roman citizen that was stopped quickly. Paul almost incites a riot between the Pharisees and the Sadducees when he was on trial and the Romans took no chances in losing control and secretly sent Paul off to Caesarea. Paul will never again live his life as a free man. Not only was he in physical chains, he also believed he was in chains to the Gospel and was a slave to Christ. We will see these patters emerge when we read some of Paul’s letters.
Bits and Pieces

The Old Testament
We will start 1 Chronicles the week but before we do we need to get some context to the book before they will make any sense to us. Both 1 and 2 Chronicles were written after the exiles returned from Babylon. They parallel many of the stories we have already read. Don’t get confused by hearing the same story again. These books are like commentaries on the books that preceded them. They are also like history books that were written by people who were not eyewitnesses to the events.  Here are the vital stats for 1 Chronicles:

PURPOSE: To chronicle for the exiles the rule of David’s house and appointed services of the Levites as a record of how God’s people “keep the faith”
AUTHOR: Ezra, according to Jewish tradition
TO WHOM WRITTEN: All Israel (the nation is once again called Israel)
DATE WRITTEN: Approx. 430 BC recording events that took place from about 1000-960 BC
SETTING: First Chronicles parallels 2 Samuel and serves as a commentary on it. Written after the exile from a priestly point of view, 1 Chronicles emphasizes the religious history of Judah and Israel.
LAW THEMES: Breaking faith, exile, failure to follow God’s Word, seek the Lord.
GOSPEL THEMES: God’s blessings and rule through David, the Lord’s rule through David’s house, God with His servant, atonement at the tabernacle.
KEY VERSE: “And David knew that the LORD had established him as king over Israel and that his kingdom had been highly exalted for the sake of his people Israel” (1 Chronicles 14:2).
KEY PEOPLE: David, Solomon
KEY PLACES: Hebron, Jerusalem, the temple

The Psalms
We finished the book of Psalms this week but we get to do it all over again.  Please let me know if you have some questions the second time around.

Have a great week!!!

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