Tuesday, May 26, 2020

The Bethany Bullet Sermon Message - Week of May 24, 2020

Link to Worship Video for 5/24/20 – 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/421703794

Link for printing Sunday’s Bulletin for 5/24/20 – HERE

Link to Bible Discovery Resources for 5/24/20 – HERE
*If unable to open link copy/paste this into your browser:


The Church (that entity of which by faith we are a member, and in which we with her members confess our faith as we recite the Creeds - “...we believe in the holy catholic Church) is, has been and until Jesus returns ever shall be essential.  Our Lord has no “plan b” in how He will reach the world.  The world is dying to be reached, even if it does not admit, recognize nor desire it.  Jesus, His loving and forgiving grace, is the only cure to the ultimate pandemic of sin and the church is the way He has determined to “distribute” the cure.

At His Ascension He declared that they, His followers, would “proclaim forgiveness in His name”; and then He commissioned them to “Go and Make.”  The church is, has been and until He returns ever shall be essential.  Yet, the manner in which it has gathered for worship has been malleable.  The church has gathered to worship in a garden and in the desert.  The church gathered to worship in their homes when enslaved in Egypt and held captive in Babylon.  The church, in one individual, worshipped on the mountain, while the people committed idolatry on the plan.  The church worshipped in a tent before it had a solid structure.  It worshipped in a stable, led by those who many thought didn’t even belong and yet were joined w angels, archangels and the company of heaven.  The church worshipped in an upper room and later behind locked doors.  Yet she was, is, even as she shall be, essential, #alwaysbeenessential.

It is through her (read you, me, us) that His hands work in our world, His heart is experience, His thoughts learned, His voice heard, His goodness, grace, love and life...yes, He Himself received.

This church gathers to give Him what He deserves, (our praise and prayers, our gifts and all the glory) and to receive the freedom only He could secure and only He can give.  Freedom from sin’s guilt, satan’s guile, and the sod’s grip. This freedom He bestowed on equal measure to His church whether it was enslaved, held captive, huddled behind locked doors or compromised of every human that walked the earth when it worshipped in a garden, the king and an entire country as it worshipped in a land of promise, or His own flesh and blood as they sang the Magnificat in the hill country.

Of course, it goes without saying that our worship as a congregation has been malleable as of late.  As we near a return to on campus worship (we are nearer now than when we first suspended on campus worship) it should also go without saying that it’ll be malleable.  When we return to some form of on campus worship in the nearing future, it shall I’m sure, from week to week, month to month undoubtedly change, shift and alter.  For the manner in which we gather to give God what He deserves and receive from the Lord that which He alone can give is, as it has ever been, malleable.  We however, the church, have #alwaysbeenessential for we are the means through which He intends to connect His unchanging love to an ever changing world.

-Pr. Kevin Kritzer

Worship Resources for Sunday, May 31st 
will be up on Bethany’s website (www.bethanylutheran.org)
by midday Saturday, May 30th!

Monday, May 25, 2020

The One Year Bible- May 25th

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I want to remind you today of the main purpose of reading the entire Bible. The Bible has one story and that is about Jesus Christ. There are many, many detours along the way but in some way shape or form the message stays the same. Why bring this up now? First of all we need to be constantly reminded of the reasons to read and study God’s word. Secondly, in today’s study I make some direct references to Jesus in the Old Testament story of David. There is an old adage that says, “Keep the main thing the main thing”. We need to do that with the Bible at all times. That is not to say we need to press every word and make them proclaim Christ but the overarching story is the story of Salvation, which has its completion in the person and work of Jesus. Here is a quote from a great book:

“At the heart of all doctrine is the biblical truth that we are justified by grace through faith in Christ alone. All other teachings relate to this one. God has revealed his truth to us so that we will know and receive salvation in Christ Jesus. All other doctrines prepare for this, reveal this, convey the benefits of Christ to us, and respond to his gracious work. His saving work is the very heart of Scripture and of all true theology.” (p. 22, Called to Believe, Teach and Confess, Edited by Steven Mueller)

Do not forget to keep Christ in mind as you read all parts of the Bible. On to the study...

Seth’s Thoughts

The Old Testament
The over arching theme for this week in the life of David is once again DRAMA!! That guy is just a lightning rod for trouble. He never seems to catch a break, and when he thinks things are going well, he does something stupid and gets himself into trouble (sounds a bit like us doesn’t it??). The prophet Nathan is there to try to keep the king in line, but he is not always successful. We do catch a glimpse of the good side of David in his dealings with Jonathan’s son Mephibosheth. David loved Jonathan and he missed his best friend very much. David found out about Mephibosheth and wanted to show him kindness. Now Mephibosheth was crippled and needed help. If David is a type (remember typology) of Christ, as some theologians suggest, then the relationship that David has with Mephibosheth is similar to our relationship with Christ. He seeks us out to show kindness to us and we are the crippled ones in need of help. Because of the kindness of David, Mephibosheth eats at the banquet table of the king. The same will happen for us one day; we will eat at the heavenly banquet table prepared for us.

The rest of the story could be the plot of a bad Lifetime movie or a daily Soap Opera. We have incest and rape, rebellion and fornication, murder and treason. Hollywood does not have to look far to find some shady storylines. I think one of the overlooked points of the story is that because of sin there will be consequences. David sinned when he had an affair with Bathsheba. He sinned when he had Uriah killed. These were just a few of the sins of David. Nathan comes to confront David and David realizes his sin and asks for forgiveness. This is the occasion when David penned Psalm 51. If you don’t remember it, look it up right now and read it before you continue on with the study..... seriously........read the Psalm.................O.K. now that you are back you read that David asked for forgiveness and God has promised to forgive those who repent and ask for forgiveness. So, David is a forgiven man but why do all these bad things still happen to him? Well there was a little caveat from the Lord, “This is what the LORD says: 'Out of your own household I am going to bring calamity upon you. Before your very eyes I will take your wives and give them to one who is close to you, and he will lie with your wives in broad daylight. (which happens later in the story, YUCK!).... But because by doing this you have made the enemies of the LORD show utter contempt, the son born to you will die’” (2 Samuel 12:11, 14 NIV) There are consequences for sin. We should not fool ourselves in believing that just because we are forgiven, our lives will be without problems. We will constantly struggle with sin and its consequences until the day we are taken to heaven.

The New Testament
Two things to highlight this week; first of all, Jesus spends a lot of time talking about sending the comforter or advocate after he leaves. This is a direct reference to the Holy Spirit. Since we just celebrated Pentecost, now is a good time to dig a bit deeper with what this all means. The Greek word is parakletos. In my Greek dictionary I found this definition:

Summoned, called to one's side, esp. called to one's aid, one who pleads another's cause before a judge, a pleader, counsel for defense, legal assistant, an advocate, one who pleads another's cause with one, an intercessor, of Christ in his exaltation at God's right hand, pleading with God the Father for the pardon of our sins , in the widest sense, a helper, succourer, aider, assistant, of the Holy Spirit destined to take the place of Christ with the apostles (after his ascension to the Father), to lead them to a deeper knowledge of the gospel truth, and give them divine strength needed to enable them to undergo trials and persecutions on behalf of the divine kingdom.

This is a pretty deep word and John is the only New Testament writer who uses it. You might be familiar with the Latin version of this word, paraclete. There is a Catholic high school in Lancaster by that name and it is the preferred word in a Catholic Bible. Jesus spends a lot of time with this word because when he is gone, he wants to assure His disciples (and us too) that we are being looked after. This is a source of comfort for us.

Second thing this week is the continuation of the “I Am” statements. I hope you are not getting sick of reading about these, but I find them so fascinating. The big one comes when Judas brings the guards into the garden to arrest Jesus. Jesus asks them who they are looking for and they tell him that they are looking for Jesus. And then he drops the bomb.......”I AM he” and note what happens next, “When Jesus said, "I am he," they drew back and fell to the ground.” (John 18:6 NIV) Why did they fall on the ground? What was the reason? It could only be that they were taken aback by the power of the name of Yahweh. And they retreated in respect of at least the name and possibly the person speaking. Jesus says it three times (most likely symbolic by John), and then all heck breaks out. Peter cuts off an ear. Another follower (possibly Mark) runs away naked....it is just a mess. It is interesting that John does not record that Jesus healed Malchus, the high priests slave. I am not sure why but the scene moves quickly to the high priest. We finished up with the passion of Jesus and his death on the cross. We have been over the big issues of this part of the story before, but if you have any questions please let me know.

One thing I want you to look for this week. When Jesus says, “It is finished” from the cross he uses a word that has a meaning of completing the goal. Not the end of something but the completion of a task. Jesus reached the goal of atoning for our sins with his death. His resurrection is then proof of his power. I know that is sort of a tease but this word is the climax of the salvation story.

Bits and Pieces

The Old Testament
We will be finishing up the book of 2 Samuel this week, move into the book of 1 Kings and we will see the end of David’s reign and beginning of Solomon’s reign. Here are the vital stats for 1 Kings:

PURPOSE: To show that the Lord of history executes the threats and keeps the promises of His holy covenant.
AUTHOR: Unknown. Possibly Jeremiah or a group of prophets
SETTING: The once great nation of Israel turned into a land divided, not only physically but also spiritually.
KEY VERSE: “As for you, if you walk before me in integrity of heart and uprightness, as David your father did, and do all I command and observe my decrees and laws, I will establish your royal throne over Israel forever, as I promised David your father when I said ‘You shall never fail to have a man on the throne of Israel’” (9:4,5)
LAW THEMES: The Lord condemns the evil deeds of Israelite and Judean kings who violate the covenant, especially by instituting idolatry.
GOSPEL THEMES: The Lord establishes David’s household through Solomon’s line, from which would come the Messiah’s everlasting kingdom; promised mercies are delivered through the temple services.
KEY PEOPLE: David, Solomon, Rehoboam, Jeroboam, Elijah, Ahab, Jezebel
SPECIAL FEATURE: The books of 1 and 2 Kings were originally one book

The New Testament
We will also be finishing the Gospel of John and we will get into the book of Acts. Here are the vital stats for the book:

PURPOSE: To link the Gospel of Jesus and the service of the 12 apostles with the missionary work of the apostle Paul.
AUTHOR: Luke (a Gentile physician)
TO WHOM WRITTEN: Theophilus and all lovers of God
DATE WRITTEN: Between 63 and 70
SETTING: Acts is the connecting link between Christ’s live and the life of the church, between the Gospels and the Letters.
KEY VERSE: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judean and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (1:8).
LAW THEMES: Kingdom of God; way of God; call to bear witness; repentance; devotion to the Law; turn to God; call to preach; condemnation of lying; magic; simony; and superstition; resisting the Spirit; persecution; generosity urged.
GOSPEL THEMES: Kingdom of God; way of God; God’s promises fulfilled; resurrection; filled with the Spirit; salvation; Jesus’ name; forgiveness; fear of God; grace; Gospel proclamation.
KEY PEOPLE: Peter, John, James, Stephen, Philip, Paul, Barnabas, Cornelius, James (Jesus’ brother), Timothy, Lydia, Silas, Titus, Apollos, Agabus, Ananias, Felix, Festus, Agrippa, Luke
KEY PLACES: Jerusalem, Samaria, Lydda, Joppa, Antioch, Cyprus, Pisidian Antioch, Iconium, Lystra, Derbe, Philippi, Thessalonica, Berea, Athens, Corinth, Ephesus, Caesarea, Malta, Rome
SPECIAL FEATURE: Acts is a sequel to the Gospel of Luke. Because Acts ends so abruptly, Luke may have planned to write a third book, continuing the story.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

The Bethany Bullet Sermon Message - Week of May 17, 2020

Link to Worship Video for 5/17/20 – 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/419019090

Link for printing Sunday’s Bulletin for 5/17/20 – HERE

Link to Bible Discovery Resources for 5/17/20 – HERE
*If unable to open link copy/paste this into your browser:

First Scripture Reading: 1 John 4:7-21
Holy Gospel: John 14:15-21

Message: “Beloved… Be Loved… Be Love”

There are many parts of Scripture that I have committed to memory, not because I have made the conscious effort to do so, but because of the power of music and song.  The words from our first lesson today are such an example. I’m not sure who wrote the melody to the Scripture but every time I hear 1 John 4:7-8, I automatically hear that song in my head and it is music to my ears (click HERE to listen to this song via a YouTube clip). I then think about some of the times and places I have sung that song and my mind goes to being in Vacation Bible School or my time working at Arrowhead Lutheran Camp as a counselor. I recall the love of God for me and how I was able to be the hands and feet of Jesus for others.

I remember those who have loved me, and I ponder the great love that Jesus has given to me, secured by the Spirit and guaranteed in my Baptism.

In the weeks since we have been separated from one another I have retreated to the world of music often. Music is something that brings me peace that helps settle my troubled heart and that brings me hope, joy, and comfort. The words and the music speak to me in ways that I find hard to put into my own words. Martin Luther once said, “Next to the Word of God, music deserves the highest praise. The gift of language combined with the gift of song was given to man that he should proclaim the Word of God through Music.”

For me, music brings great comfort. When things are hard, when life is tough, when I am at my end and my heart is troubled: I sing, I listen, and I am at peace. It may not always be words of Scripture, but words I learned as a child that remind me that I am the beloved of God. That word “beloved” is a word that we don’t often use in day-to-day conversation. But that word is a powerful and joy filled lyric for these troubling times. We used it at the beginning of worship as we rejoice in the fact that we are the beloved of God, gathered in homes, separated yet together as those whom God loves. We sing of the love of God in worship as we are reminded of His presence and are standing before The Almighty. As the beloved of God, we encounter a Divine love song from the lips of The Composer of the Universe Himself.

This song was begun as the planets were first spun, it has been sung to those who were exiled and afraid and lonely throughout the generations. This song crosses all ethnic and economic boundaries, and finds its crescendo on the cross and culmination in an empty tomb and this song of love is sung over you and comes directly to you in the real and abiding presence of The Promised Comforter.

The prophet Zephaniah wrote the following:

The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you;
 in his love he will no longer rebuke you,  but will rejoice over you with singing.  (Zephaniah 3:17)

This is the song of love that we find in 1 John chapter 4. Being called beloved is a tender reminder of your standing as a child of the King. This love was sung over you as you were formed in the womb, brought to the waters of Baptism, were gathered in His house, and even when you are in your own home. This love is sung not based on any goodness, or worthiness or merit in you, but solely out of the divine love of Christ. This love is a gift and is what Jesus was getting to in our Gospel lesson. In some foreshadowing of Pentecost, Jesus promises the gift of the Holy Spirit who sings a love song, the notes of which bring the presence of the Savior to comfort and to bring life.

But it’s not always easy to sing along with this love song. The love song of God to His beloved is filled with harmony, and melody but often times we would rather sing our own song. We don’t like to be loved because to be loved means to be vulnerable, and that my friends is a hard thing to do. By nature, the songs we compose ourselves are selfish stanzas of solitude, with the idea that we have it all figured out and we don’t need anyone else.

Time and time again the lyrics of my song are about wrestling control from God or manipulating my relationship with my Lord.  Worse yet, I write stanza after stanza that rationalize my behavior and set it to a tune of my own choosing that is neither pleasant nor peaceful. What song have you attempted to write? 

·         Is it filled with bargains or battles? 
·         Does it manipulate or devastate?
·         Does your own song try and force your own agenda?
·         Does your song demonstrate dissonance with the Divine?

To be loved means to give up the writing credits of your life and to let another write the song of your heart, to bring undeserved love into your life. To be loved means to give up control, to trust that God’s got this, to know that you’ve got God. To be loved is at the heart of God’s song, sung over you. This song doesn’t just bring a fleeting emotion but the abiding presence of The Comforter for you, personally.  This love song lingers, its lyrics hang heavy in the air, and its palpable presence provides peace.

In these times of pandemic paranoia, where hearts are troubled and perhaps you are not feeling much comfort, let alone love, Jesus promises to sing a song of love over you, He promises the very presence of God will be with you. Here the words of Christ again, “I will not leave you all alone. I will come back to you.  In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me. You will live because I live.  On that day you will know that I am in my Father and that you are in me and that I am in you.  Whoever knows and obeys my commandments is the person who loves me. Those who love me will have my Father’s love, and I, too, will love them and show myself to them.” (John 14:18-21)

Listen to the love song of the Lord:
·         You are not alone!
·         He will come back!
·         You will live!
·         You are loved and you can be love to others!

The amazing part here, is that even as I furiously attempt to write my own song of love, Jesus sings over me and puts His song in my mouth.  His love flows through me in words and actions and as I sing His song of love, that love brings the presence of Jesus to others. That blows my mind.  God promises to be present in love.  If it’s hard to hear the lyrics of love from Jesus or to find ways to be love to others I invite you to listen to how Jesus expressed love and how it is sung over you.

When Jesus was misunderstood, He loved.  When He was rejected; when He was criticized; when He was threatened; when He was falsely accused; when He was arrested, beaten, crowned with thorns, whipped, and railroaded to a cross, He kept on loving.  Even from the cross, as He looked down through the blinding pain, past the weight of your sin, He loved enough to forgive the people who had put Him there.  How did Jesus love? He loved sacrificially, completely, consistently, totally. His love did not grow when the crowds proclaimed Him 'King', and it did not diminish when they called for His crucifixion.  His love did not falter or fail, weaken or wane when He was accused and abandoned, nor did it intensify or increase when He was acclaimed and applauded. From His first breath in Bethlehem until His last shout of victory on Calvary's cross, Jesus loved. He loved His friends, His enemies, and everyone in between. He sang this song of love so you and I and all of humanity could be brought to faith and saved from the enslavement of sin, the shackles of Satan, and the damnation of death.  And because of Jesus, you are the beloved of God and have been unconditionally loved. You have been rejoiced over with singing so that you can be love.  This is love: God has sent His Son to save you... to live for you and to suffer for you and to be crowned with thorns for you and to carry your sins, all your sins to the cross for you, to die for you and to rise again to bring you life.  All this He did so you could be His beloved.  This is music to my ears and comfort for my troubled heart.

May His love song bring comfort to yours. May you experience His love as He is present with you in the Spirit and may you be love as Christ works through you to sing over others who are the beloved of God. 

Beloved, be loved, be love!
-Pr. Seth Moorman

Monday, May 18, 2020

The One Year Bible- May 18th

In September of 1990 PBS aired the miniseries “The Civil War” by Ken Burns. It was 11 hours in length and an estimated 40 million viewers watched the premiere episode. More people watched the premier episode of “The Civil War”, than just about anything else in prime time in the past 20 years except the Super Bowl. Needless to say, the Ken Burns film was a hit! It is still one of the most popular shows in the history of public television. Why bring this up? Well the story of David and Saul is a story of Civil War. It is a time where brother fought against brother and many died. The events surrounding the end of Saul’s reign and the beginning of David’s are filled with intrigue and action. I am not sure that 40 million people would tune in to watch it as a miniseries but countless millions have read it and have seen the events unfold in the pages of Scripture. At times there are things that we read that don’t seem right. Some of the stories we find in the Bible are disturbing but we must remember that they are still the word of God and we need to dig to try to find what they mean. That is one of the reasons for this study. I hope that you can start to put it all together as you read. Without further ado, on to the study...

Seth’s Thoughts

The Old Testament
The saga of David and Saul continues in our Old Testament readings this week. The story has its climax towards the end of 1 Samuel. I think that David and Saul had a very co-dependent relationship. They both hated and loved each other and this made things very confusing. One moment they want to kill each other, the next they say how much they love and respect one another. We see some interesting things about David’s character in this story too. David is revered as one of the best kings that Israel ever had. But his record is not spotless. In fact he is not the nicest of guys at all. David often took the high road (i.e. not killing Saul in the cave) but equally as often he took the low road (i.e. taking multiple wives and the fiasco with Bathsheba). David is an interesting king for sure. I think that remembering that David took the low road at times is something we cannot forget. Even after all the bad things that he did, God still loved him and promised that his kingdom will last forever in the person of Jesus. A couple of other things from this week that I want to make note of: I have always liked the story of Saul going to see the medium at Endor. For those of you who are fans of the Star Wars movies you would remember that George Lucas called one of the planets in the Star Wars universe by the same name. It was on a moon of Endor that the final battle in “Return of the Jedi” took place. Did George Lucas know his Bible or did someone feed him that name, I don’t know. It is just another example that things from the Bible are everywhere. That story has another point. Saul has lost his trust in God. He seeks the advice of a medium to try to get information. The LORD has left him and is now with David and that makes Saul angry. Finally during a battle Saul is injured and falls on his own sword and dies. It was a bad day for the house of Saul. “So Saul and his three sons and his armor-bearer and all his men died together that same day.” (1 Samuel 31:6 NIV) This starts another Civil War and eventually David becomes king. I find it odd that the first thing that David builds in the new capital of Jerusalem is a palace for himself. He does not build a place for God or for the Ark. We will see why a bit later.

The New Testament
In the story of the death of Lazarus, Jesus says “I am the resurrection and the life.” What a great analogy and given at the right time. It is by the power of Jesus that Lazarus was raised from death to life again. We see a glimpse of the human side of Jesus, showing love in the shortest verse of the bible, “Jesus wept.” (John 11:35) Confirmation students often want this to be their verse given at confirmation since it is so short. I hope no teachers have used it in that context but nonetheless it is still a powerful verse. Jesus shows his emotion and his love for his friend Lazarus, and it is that same love he has for us. He died not only for Lazarus but for us as well. Our resurrection will not be in this world but will be in heaven on the last day. What a great comfort. Jesus shows that love a few verses later when he washes the disciples feet. That was a tender act of love that shows the servant heart of our Lord. Just after this we have another great “I Am”. “I am telling you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe that I am He.” (John 13:19 NIV) This “I Am” statement is a direct pointer to the name Yahweh. Jesus was again telling them who he was and what he was all about. There is a lot more in this section of scripture, but I don’t have the time to dig into all of it. If you have any questions please let me know.

We started reading Psalm 119 this week and I want to make a few comments. First of all, it is the longest Psalm in the Bible; secondly the Psalm is a giant acrostic poem. There are twenty-two stanzas in the Psalm, one for each successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet. Each of the eight verses within each stanza begins with the Hebrew letter named in its heading. So in the first stanza, known as “aleph”,  each line begins with the Hebrew letter “aleph” and so on for each of the 22 letters. Of course, once you translate it you loose this unique structure. This is a common literary form used for Hebrew poetry. When you know some of the structure, you can see more of the beauty of the original.

Monday, May 11, 2020

The Bethany Bullet Sermon Message - Week of May 10, 2020

Link to Worship Video for 5/10/20 – 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/user4580656

Link for printing Sunday’s Bulletin for 5/10/20 – HERE

Link to Bible Discovery Resources for 5/10/20 – HERE
*If unable to open link copy/paste this into your browser:

Holy Gospel: John 14:1-12
Message: “Troubling Times…Untroubled Hearts”

“Do not let your hearts be troubled, Trust in God; trust also in me.  In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you.  I am going there to prepare a place for you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you may be where I am.”   Jesus, who was going to that place, (heaven) came to this place (earth) for us.  Jesus came to this place to take our place that He might take us to HIS place.  Now that place is one that we do not deserve and could never earn!  For none of us have kept God’s law whole or ourselves holy. 

Jesus lived in perfect conformity to God’s commands and His commission, in absolute obedience to His will and to His Word.  Jesus never once gave into temptation.  When the devil “promised” jump down from this high place (temple’s pinnacle) and I’ll give you all the nations; when the crowd “promised” come down from that high place (Golgotha’s spectacle) and we’ll give you all our adoration; He did not yield to temptation, neither in desire or deed. 

Jesus came to this place to take our place in obedience to the law and in punishment for breaking the same.  So that, by the grace of God, through faith in God’s Son, we have a place with Him in heaven!  That truth, this promise, such a certainty is why this text is so prominently heard at many a Christian funeral!  “Do not let your hearts be troubled.  Trust in God, trust also in me.  In my Father’s house are many rooms and I’m going to prepare one for you.”  Yet, these words perhaps should also be central to the Christian’s daily life.

“I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing.  They’ll do even greater.”  That’s how Jesus wraps up this conversation.  What’s greater than the work of salvation, the accomplishment of redemption, the preparation of a place in heaven?  What does Jesus mean by “greater things?”  Many believe the Lord means continuation of His work by the great multiplication of the workers. 

This is a corporate declaration but a call to individual action.  You, you, serve others! Jesus did so in this text by washing feet, humble yourself and lift others up.  You, you, understand the nature of your being (in and of yourself – lost, astray, worthy of condemnation, unworthy of eternal celebration – yet in Christ righteous before God, holy in His sight, deployed on earth as His Servant for the work of restoration of society, ministry, a lone hurting body…Society:  praying for leaders, valuing honest and decency and being honest and decent.

Ministry, when things start to reopen we’ll have more irons in the fire than ever; time, talent and treasure given will be vital.  To a lone hurting body – just one makes a difference – in fact think about the great parables about personal action leading to restoration – they are individual conversations – Samaritan, a prodigal’s parent. And teach about death and resurrection, simply means long after the Easter season is ended the cry continues…Christ has died, Christ is risen…and Christ shall come again

When He does, He shall take us to be with Him that we may be where He is; until then, do not let your hearts be troubled.  God’s got this.  God’s got you!  In Christ, you’ve got Him. And oh Christian IN YOU the world’s got Christ.
-Pr. Kevin Kritzer

Worship Resources for Sunday, May 17
will be up on Bethany’s website
by midday Saturday, May 16!

The One Year Bible- May 11th

Tom and Jerry, Super man and Lex Luthor, USC and UCLA, Coke and Pepsi, Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant, APPLE and Microsoft,; these are just a few of the great antagonistic relationships in pop culture. We all know a great rivalry when we see it; you have the “good” guy and the “bad” guy. You have drama, intrigue, verbal exchanges, misunderstandings and bad blood. One of the best rivalries in literature is found in 1 Samuel. We all know about David and Goliath but a much greater story is David versus Saul. This story has more twists and turns than an episode of General Hospital. There is deception and mistrust, attempted murder and slander. But once again it all points to our need for God and salvation through Jesus Christ. Samuel warned the people that having a king would bring hardship and pain but the people insisted on their own way. This story should serve as an example of God’s patience and mercy; for Jesus came to die for Saul and for David and for us as well. In this twisted tale we see David as the good guy but soon he will be the foil in another story unfit for the family channel. The good news is that in his patience God forgives us and loves us, even as we are mired in our own sin. As you read this tragic story, don’t forget that it serves a purpose to point us to Christ. On to the study…

Seth’s Thoughts

The Old Testament
We focused this week on the beginnings of the monarchy in Israel. God had finally allowed an earthy king but He said that it would be filled with some unexpected problems. The people still insisted and there were troubles. Saul was a man who had no equal. He was a head taller than the others and was good looking too.. Samuel reminds the people of what will happen to them under a king and gives them this warning, “But if you still do wickedly, you shall be swept away, you and your king.” (1 Samuel 12:25 ESV) For those of you who remember the story this is exactly what happened. Many generations later the people were taken into exile and swept away. Only a remnant survived. Chapter thirteen begins a regular pattern that we will see when the Kings are discussed. “Saul was thirty years old when he became king, and he reigned for forty-two years.” (1 Samuel 13:1). The Hebrew text is rather vague here. It is unclear as to how old Saul was from this text or exactly how long he reigned (If you are reading the ESV you may have noticed the note in the text describing this). The one thing to note is the pattern. We will see this same pattern when each King is introduced. “X was Y years old when he became king, and he reigned for Z years." Saul seems to be doing OK until he gets a bit impatient. Saul ended up sacrificing a burnt offering himself without Samuel or a priest there, big mistake. Samuel tells Saul how foolish a thing he has done and then he drops the bomb, “But now your kingdom must end, for the LORD has sought out a man after his own heart.” Wasn’t it just a few verses ago that Saul was anointed king? The kingdom talk is about his line or family. And a few chapters later, “So because you have rejected the command of the LORD, he has rejected you as king.” God has decided to have the monarchy go to a different family, because of Saul’s sin. Now Saul will still to be king for a while and God will use him but the days of his kingdom are numbered. This will be different (and I am getting ahead of myself a bit) with David’s kingdom. God will promise that the kingdom of David will last forever. This will come to pass because Jesus will come from the line of David and fulfill this promise, as he is a king today and forever. After Samuel anoints David as the new king, a strange turn of events puts the old king and the new king in close quarters. A tormenting spirit filled Saul with depression and fear and he needed some comfort. The ESV translates it as an “evil” spirit and this is accurate to the Hebrew but we need to understand that this was not “evil” in the sense of being from the devil. Nothing “evil” comes from God. The idea here is that it tormented Saul to the point of frustration. One way that Saul dealt with this is to have music played in his presence. David ends up being the one to play his harp in the king’s presence and to be his armor bearer. This is no coincidence. Saul and David will have a long a tension filled relationship. The best word for it is “DRAMA”. Those of you with teenagers or remember those days know what I mean. Saul acts rather childish and the rest of his life is filled with drama. After the familiar story of David and Goliath we read that Saul and David returns victoriously to Israel and the people chant, “Saul has killed his thousands, and David his ten thousands!” This really gets Saul’s feathers ruffled. “And Saul eyed David from that day on..” (1 Samuel 18:9 ESV) This was the beginning of some violent interactions between David and Saul. I think Saul goes a bit nuts in his obsession with David and even lies on the ground naked all day once. One other great storyline is that of David and Jonathan. They became the closest of friends. They watched out for each other and I believe that their relationship can be a model for us today. Two other things caught my eye in my reading this week. Fist of all when Saul sends his men to David’s house to kill him he escapes and his wife tells them he is sick and in bed. In reality David is not in bed but it is a pillow with goats hair on top. This rouse gave David enough time to escape. Here I thought that the guys who escaped from Alcatraz had a new way of deceiving the guards and David did the same thing years earlier. This coming week we will get a description of the kind of people who were hanging out with David in the caves. The ESV describes them like this, “And everyone who was in distress, and everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was bitter in soul gathered to him. And he became captain over them” (1 Samuel 22:2). Sounds a bit like the “sinners and tax collectors” that Jesus hung around with! It was really just a rag tag bunch of misfits.

The New Testament
John has an amazing way with words, even after it is translated into English. We read the account in chapter eight that is not in many of the Greek manuscripts. Why was it not there? It is hard to be certain, but I love the story that the section contains. The woman who was caught in adultery is guilty. By the law she is condemned to die. It is a powerful scene. Mel Gibson uses this scene in The Passion of the Christ and it is amazing. I wonder what Jesus was writing in dirt. Could it be that he was writing the sins of each of the people who had rocks in their hands? Whatever it was, the people left. I wonder how they felt? Were they convicted of their own sins or were they mad that they did not get to do what they wanted. At any rate it is a great story. Did you notice the “I Am” statements this week? The “I Am” statements in 8:24 & 28 occur in a section where people were trying to figure out who Jesus was. “Listen Up People!!! He is telling YOU!!” When he says “I Am” that is your clue. He says it again in verse 58. I guess I would have to put myself in their position. Would I be able to figure it out? I don’t know. I might be one of those who thought Jesus was a crazy guy. We also read some of the “I Am” metaphors. In chapter 8 Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12 ESV) He uses the same metaphor again in chapter 9:5. The “I Am” statements keep flying out of Jesus’ mouth in. Jesus says “I am the gate” meaning that he is the only way into heaven. There is no other way for salvation. It is by him and through him that we are saved and enter the safety of the heavenly sheep pen. He also says, “I am the good shepherd”. Is he really a good shepherd? He leaves all the other sheep unprotected to look for one lost one. But that is the point. Jesus will do anything, even give up his own life in order to save the sheep. He knows all of the sheep and will sacrifice his life for each and every one of them. Jesus also spends a lot of time trying to show the relationship he has with the father. The disciples just don’t seem to get it. Jesus says that he and the father are one, and that he is doing the work of the father. These statements are found only in John. He uses them to give an analogy for the reader; to help us understand who Jesus is. They are wonderful statements that I am convinced Jesus said. Some believe that John was putting words into Jesus’ mouth in order to make a literary point. I disagree. I think Jesus knew what he was doing when John remembered these statements as he wrote his Gospel.

Bits and Pieces
We will move on to the book of 2 Samuel this week. It is basically the continuation of the same story but here are the vital stats of the book:

PURPOSES: To Record the history of David's reign; to demonstrate effective leadership under God; to reveal that one person can make a difference; to show the personal qualities that please God; the depict David as an ideal leader of an imperfect kingdom, and to foreshadow Christ, who will be the ideal leader of a new and perfect kingdom.
AUTHOR: Unknown; some have suggested that Nathan's son Zabud may have been the author; the book also includes writings from Nathan and Gad
SETTING: The land of Israel under David's rule
LAW THEMES: Barrenness; covetousness; neglect of fatherly duties; unfaithfulness; rejection of God’s rule; failure to keep God’s Word; rash vows; jealousy; divination.
GOSPEL THEMES: The Lord provides leaders; the Lord promises an everlasting kingdom and priesthood; victory in the Lord’s name; godly friendship; blessings through the tabernacle; David’s mercy.
KEY VERSE: "And David knew that the LORD had established him as king over Israel and had exalted his kingdom for the sake of his people Israel" (5:12)
SPECIAL FEATURES: This book was named after the prophet who anointed David and guided him in living for God.

Have a wonderful week!!!

Monday, May 04, 2020

The Bethany Bullet Sermon Message - Week of May 3, 2020

Link to Worship Video for 5/3/20 – 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/414103435

Link for printing Sunday’s Bulletin for 5/3/20 – HERE

NEW Link to Bible Discovery Resources for 5/3/20 – HERE
*If unable to open link copy/paste this into your browser:

Psalm of the Day: Psalm 100

Message: “The Shepherd Who Is the Lamb…The Lamb Who Is the Shepherd”

Good Shepherd Sunday finds its textual source in John’s Gospel, Chapter 10 to be precise.  Yet, John’s Gospel begins with the declaration that Jesus is the Lamb of God! Lambs and Shepherds alike both find their ultimate fulfillment in Jesus. 

The images of each, when capturing Jesus are poignant and powerful.  Most likely the majority of us find the image of a lamb settling, peaceful and disarming…that is why, when restlessness keeps people from sleeping they are encouraged to count sheep and not spiders’ right? The picture of a lamb is innocence and harmlessness. When a sacrificial offering, it is also defenseless. THE Lamb of God is an innocent sacrificial victim prepared as a holy offering and yet The Lamb of God is the unquestionable victor! 

In many images we find the Lamb holding His banner high furled in the breeze, red-cross emblazed upon white-field (the colors notating the blood of Christ and the working of the Spirit; the holiness and righteousness of Lamb Himself and the holiness and righteousness that belongs, by grace through faith, to those who comprise His flock and fold). 


The image of our Good Shepherd no less powerful nor poignant.  Jesus the Good Shepherd takes his lamb into His arms or upon His back.  The Good Shepherd with a lamb resting peacefully and lovingly in the crook of His arm or securely and protectively slung cross His shoulders are images I find inviting, intimate and deeply personal.  In these days of distancing and isolating, the promise of being carried in the crook of the Shepherds arm near His heart is poignant. During the pandemic period we find ourselves in, in which fear or anxiety, worries or despair, anger or grief, feeling like it’s all just too much or knowing you have too little are about to overtake you, knowing that ours is a Good Shepherd who promises to take you over His shoulders is powerful

Jesus is the Lamb of God who has given Himself for you and laid down His life on your behalf; Jesus the Lamb of God who has borne your guilt and through whom you’ve been granted grace…that Jesus is your Good Shepherd who knows you and loves you, will bear you and lead you
-Pr. Kevin Kritzer

Worship Resources for Sunday, May 10
will be up on Bethany’s website
by midday Saturday, May 9!

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