Tuesday, March 31, 2020

The Bethany Bullet Sermon Message - Week of March 29, 2020

Lenten Service Schedule:
Bethany has cancelled our Midweek Lenten Worship service and Soup Supper for April 1.

Click HERE for the Lenten Devotional for this week.
*April 1st devotional will be posted soon.

From Sunday’s Worship for March 29, 2020:
If you’ve not heard Pastor Blake’s Lent V Sermon on “Are We There Yet?  Stillness before God” the service can still be viewed from our website.

Link to Worship Video for 3/29/20 – HERE
*If unable to open link copy/paste this into your browser: http://www.bethanylutheran.org/worship-service-resources/
*Direct link to Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/401507972

Link for printing Sunday’s Bulletin for 3/29/20 – HERE


Holy Gospel Reading – John 11:1-4, 17-28, 32-35, 38-44
Be Still and know that I am God!

The ancient prayer, “Lord Jesus, Son of God, have mercy on me!”  Is a great source of practicing stillness before God.  When anxiety takes root, when the chaos begins to overwhelm, when the fears mount (and these days have no shortage of anxiety causing, chaos producing and fear bringing news) so a practice of being still before God is as needed as ever!  As you breathe in say, “Lord Jesus, Son of God,” then as you breathe out say, “Have mercy on me!”

Of course these days, as all days, the child of God troubled by sin can also feel overwhelmed with guilt.  Another practice of being still before God is to be reminded of His promises.  When overcome with guilt take a moment of quietness and say, “I am Yours Lord, save me!” 

As you inhale declare who, and whose, you are, “I am Yours Lord!”  As you exhale speak your need, and His gift, “Save me!”

Yes in these days being still before God is vital. Stillness before God is also a confession that, God’s Got This!  And that, We’ve Got God!

Therefore we know that not only will we get through these Corona virus days, we will grow through these days!  We will learn to connect deeper to our God and to our neighbors, we will grow in love of Him and them, and we will find ourselves in a chaotic, whirlwind world able to be still before God and the lyrics of Catharina von Schlegel will become a part of our life in Christ, “Be Still, my soul; the Lord is on your side; bear patiently the cross of grief or pain; leave to your god to order and provide; in every change He faithful will remain.  Be still, my soul, your best, your heavenly Friend through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.”
-Pr. Kevin Kritzer

The Worship Resources for
PALM SUNDAY: Sunday, April 5, 2020 will be posted on our website at www.bethanylutheran.org  
on Saturday, April 4 by midday.

Don’t MISS a Special Edition of The Bethany Bullet due out by
Thursday, April 2nd.

Monday, March 30, 2020

The One Year Bible- March 30th

In just a few weeks the Christian Church will celebrate Easter.  It is the day that the whole Bible centers on.  From the promise of a Messiah back in the Garden of Eden, through the covenant with God’s People in the wilderness and the exile, the narrative of Scripture leads up to the day where God reconciles himself with humanity.  As you read through the pages of Scripture try to think about how the account fits into the overall meta-narrative of salvation.  The Bible is indeed a Christ centered book.  Reading through the Old Testament can sometimes be like a treasure hunt as you look for Christ, but the best news is that He has already found you.  Because of His great love for you, He willingly went to the cross to take your sin away and on Easter morning He defeated sin, death and the devil so that you might be with Him forever.  That is the greatest message found in the Bible. On to the study…

Seth’s Thoughts
In the midst of a lot of do’s and don’ts this week a few things caught my attention this week and I wanted to make mention of them. Remember the scene here. Moses is giving a pep talk and history lesson to the people on the eastern side of the Jordan River. The people are about to enter the land of the promise under the leadership of Joshua. Moses cannot enter because of his actions in the wilderness. The dietary restrictions of the people serve a two-fold purpose. First of all, God was setting these people apart to be special in doing so he has selected their diet. This was a health thing. Many of the foods that were unclean were also potential health hazards. These animals carried diseases and God was making sure the people were healthy. Secondly, these restrictions served as a way for the people to be obedient to God. They could show their willingness to follow by adhering to the dietary restrictions. Most Jews still practice many of these laws and they have been expanded and interpreted in many ways. You can find kosher foods in most stores now days. If you look for the kosher label (a circle with a K inside) you can be sure that this product is made under the strict standards of modern Jewish law. The question remains, why don’t we all follow these guidelines? A complete answer is complex but the short answer is that we have freedom in Christ. We live under the new covenant of Grace and we no longer are subject to all the rules and regulations of the law, part of which is dietary restrictions. Does this mean we can do whatever we want? Well, yes, and no. As Paul says in 1 Corinthians 6:12, “Everything is permissible for me—but not everything is beneficial. Everything is permissible for me—but I will not be mastered by anything.” More about this when we get to that section of the New Testament.
A few books could be written regarding our reading for the past week in Luke. Just two things I want to touch on today. In Luke 9, right after the feeding of the five thousand, Jesus takes some time out with his disciples. They get away from the crowds and pray. This is just a short interlude, a mini-retreat if you will. But in this time we have some very profound events. Jesus asks the disciples, “Who do people say I am?” In the moment Peter gives a wonderful confession of faith, “You are the Messiah”. This was a big step for most Jews. They were waiting for the Messiah to come and when Peter gives this profession of faith he is saying that he now believes that the Messiah has come and that he is right in front of him. Jesus goes on to describe his mission on the earth, to suffer, be rejected, and to be killed, but be raised again. This was not at all the kind of Messiah the Jews were expecting. The key here is the profession of faith by Peter.
Bits and Pieces
PURPOSE: To present the renewal of the Sinai covenant for God’s people before they entered the Promised Land.
AUTHOR: Joshua, except for the ending, which may have been written by the high priest Phinehas, an eyewitness to the events recounted there
SETTING: Canaan, also called the Promised Land, which occupied the same general geographical territory of modern-day Israel
KEY VERSE: “Go through the camp and tell the people. ‘Get your supplies ready. Three days from now you will cross the Jordan here to go in and take possession of the land the LORD your God is giving you for your own.’” (1:11)
SPECIAL FEATURE: Out of over a million people, Joshua and Caleb were the only two who left Egypt and entered the Promised Land

The Old Testament

Another thing that jumped out at me was this: What is God’s deal with blood? He seems to have a fascination with blood. In our society and culture blood has become taboo. It carries disease and it reminds us of death and many get squeamish around it. I think this was probably the case for many back in the Old Testament as well. For the Israelites, blood means life. In fact the word for blood is sometimes used as a synonym for life. The life of the organism is in its blood. Blood was a key part of the sacrifice. God required punishment for sins and he accepted the life (i.e. blood) of an animal in our place. This concept gets further expanded when the blood of Jesus is shed for us. His life (and blood) were given for us for our forgiveness. Now in communion his blood (i.e. life) is offered for the forgiveness of sins. So the blood thing may gross you out but it is vitally important to understand the sacrificial system and how Jesus was the ultimate sacrifice.

On April 1st we read from Deuteronomy 18:15, “The Lord you God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own brothers.  You must listen to him”.  The same day we read from Luke 9:35, “A voice came from the cloud, saying, ‘This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him’”.  I don’t think the compilers of the ONE YEAR BIBLE knew that these to passages would be read on the same day but it is pretty cool how they are connected.  Jesus is the final prophet that Moses was talking about in Deuteronomy 18.  The voice of God confirms it when he says, “Listen to him”. 

The New Testament

The other passage that I found interesting this week is in Chapter 11. Jesus talks about the sign of Jonah. What is Jonah doing here in the New Testament? Matthew records that Jesus talked about Jonah as well. You remember the story. Jonah was the prophet who was sent to Nineveh but he didn’t want to go. God made sure he got there by sending a storm and then a big fish swallowed up Jonah. Jesus uses this common story to describe his ministry. “But the only sign I will give them is the sign of Jonah. What happened to him was a sign to the people of Nineveh that God had sent him. What happens to the Son Of Man will be a sign to these people that he was sent by God.” Jonah is seen as a “type” of Christ. And his three days in the belly of the fish parallel the three days that Jesus will be in the belly of the earth. Very interesting stuff indeed.

We will finish the book of Deuteronomy this week and start the book Joshua.  Here are the vital stats for the book of Joshua:
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.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

The Bethany Bullet Sermon Message - Week of March 22, 2020

From Sunday’s Worship for March 22, 2020:

Link to Worship Video for 3/22/20 – HERE
*If unable to open link copy/paste this into your browser: http://www.bethanylutheran.org/sunday-worship-resources-march-22-2020/
 *Direct link to Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/399257277

Link for printing Sunday’s Bulletin for 3/22/20 – HERE

Message: “God is with Us”
Sermon Text: Psalm 46
Holy Gospel Reading – John 9:1-11

For the choir director; a song by the descendants of Korah; according to alamoth.[a]
God is our refuge and strength,
    an ever-present help in times of trouble.
That is why we are not afraid
    even when the earth quakes
        or the mountains topple into the depths of the sea.
            Water roars and foams,
                and mountains shake at the surging waves. Selah
There is a river
    whose streams bring joy to the city of God,
        the holy place where the Most High lives.
God is in that city.
    It cannot fall.
        God will help it at the break of dawn.
Nations are in turmoil, and kingdoms topple.
    The earth melts at the sound of God’s voice.
The Lord of Armies is with us.
The God of Jacob is our stronghold. Selah
Come, see the works of the Lord,
    the devastation he has brought to the earth.
        He puts an end to wars all over the earth.
            He breaks an archer’s bow.
            He cuts spears in two.
            He burns chariots.
10 Let go of your concerns!
    Then you will know that I am God.
        I rule the nations.
        I rule the earth.
11 The Lord of Armies is with us.
The God of Jacob is our stronghold. Selah

The words have been for generations a source of strength for the weak, a shelter from the whirlwind, and a solace midst devastation.  Such was the case for the leaders of the Reformation for whom Psalm 46 became a bedrock Bible passage…theirs were not easy days.  Insults were often exchanged between leaders and their followers, assaults upon individuals and institutions were common place, wars and riots abounded, too many had too little, and to top it off pandemics spread across the region.  Sound familiar?   

Upheaval is what the Psalmist is describing. The picture the Psalmist paints is that of total instability. The author writes about global events that have deep, powerful and disruptive personal impact.  We are now living in a Psalm 46 atmosphere:  true if written today the psalmist might say: though supply chains tremble and social interaction melts. Though shoppers rage and financial markets totter, though hospital bed capacity gives way…  

I’m not sure what has you rocking most right now…The status of your 401k or toilet paper supply but we are all feeling the instability of this moment. Look at the Psalm once again and not how the anarchy of the days … “troubles and trembling, roaring and fomenting, raging and tottering and melting” is bookended with the promise that God is our refuge and strength, a very present help and that He is our fortress! Though circumstances might be tumultuous, our God is unwavering. 

The beginning and the ending of the Psalm is He who is the Alpha and Omega, who in an instable world is the one absolutely, positively and stable One….and check this out…in the middle of the Psalm the author quits talking and God Himself speaks: “Be still, and know that I am God.”  Be still!  When everything is shaking seems counterintuitive but there are two takeaways that are essential for our days!

First, God’s got this moment! Many of us have been telling our children, “This is something you'll be asked about for the rest of your lives...what were you doing when coronavirus pandemic tossed everything into upheaval and simultaneously brought everything to a stand still?”

What will be the enduring images of this moment?  I'm sure we will recall doctors and nurses and researchers working unbelievable hours...caring, seeking a cure...grocers and restauranteurs and staff remaining at work when most were asked to remain home.  Teachers using new technologies to and methods to keep instruction going and assuring children that the Master Teacher is always with them even when their classroom has become their living room or bedroom.  God is in the midst of this moment...be still does not mean do nothing...rather it means trust fervently that God's got this...AND He will manifest Himself in this moment…through people who step up and care for their neighbors, shop for shut-ins, form a virtual community and connect with old technology like land lines and hand written notes when needed.  People who will trust that God is faithful and who will themselves continue to worship faithfully albeit remotely.

Second thing to embrace in this call to be still is that you got God!  A quieter world can be a more eerie world, being inside can lead to anxiety inside…don’t forget that this moment of isolation is one in which we take the opportunity to simply be still before God. Let Him speak into this moment, let Him speak into your heart, soul and mind – reminding you who He is in Jesus Christ and all of His promises that are yes in Christ… He is the one who is rock solid and true in an unstable world, He is the one with you, with us! 
-Pr. Kevin Kritzer

Please note that Worship Resources for Sunday, March 29, 2020 will be posted on our website on Saturday, March 28.

Monday, March 23, 2020

The One Year Bible- March 23rd

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).

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

The Bethany Bullet Sermon Message - Week of March 15, 2020


Link to Worship Video for 3/15/20 - HERE or copy/paste into your browser http://www.bethanylutheran.org/1st-time-bethany/welcome/covid-19-worship-resources/

Message: “Giving Proportionately”    Sermon Text: John 4:5-30
·        First Scripture Reading – Exodus 17:1-7
·        Holy Gospel Reading – John 4:5-15, 28-30, 39-42

Please note that Worship Resources for Sunday, March 22, 2020 will be posted on our website on Saturday, March 21st.

Here is our Holy Week Schedule (*this schedule is subject to change).

Sunday, April 5th
Palm Sunday at 8:00, 9:30 and 10:55AM

Thursday, April 9th
Maundy Thursday at 7:00PM in the Sanctuary
Mark 14:12-25 … More Than Meets the Eyes

Friday, April 10th
Good Friday at 12:00PM and 7:00PM in the Sanctuary
Mark 15:21-39 … Eyes Wide Open

Sunday, April 12th
Easter Sunday at 8:00, 9:30 & 10:55AM

Monday, March 16, 2020

The One Year Bible- March 16th

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 10, 2020

The Bethany Bullet Sermon Message - Week of March 8, 2020

Sermon Message: “Overflowing”

St. Paul, in his second letter to the Corinthian church (read chapter 9), reveals three truths about our giving.

Our giving is personal, purposeful and positional.

Our giving is personal.  The apostle doesn't encourage us to consider in our minds what we will give; but rather to "decide in our heart" what we will give.  While on the one hand giving is clearly a cerebral activity (you can't even give a proportionate gift without doing math) Paul associates giving as an emotional response. 

Our giving is purposeful.  We who are created in God's image and are being shaped and fashioned into the likeness of our Lord, have a spiritual compulsion to give.  After all our God is a giver and our Lord is the embodiment of generosity.  He owes nothing but pays everything; He gives all yet demands none.  Our giving is purposeful in that it draws us closer to the heart of God reveals the nature of God.

Our giving is positional.  That is, our giving puts us in the loop of how the Spirit is at work.  So that we might receive God's forgiveness, have our faith birthed and built, grasp on to His promises and experience His presence. Our God works through words, wine and water; bread and the body of believers.  He works through means, the ministry of which is funded by our giving. 

Our giving is personal, purposeful and positional...in the words of Paul, "Thank God for this gift of giving."
– Pr. Kevin Kritzer  

Monday, March 09, 2020

The One Year Bible- March 9th

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!!

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