Monday, June 29, 2020

The One Year Bible- June 29th


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!!!

Monday, June 22, 2020

The One Year Bible- June 22nd


I am in the habit of writing smiley faces or unhappy faces in the margins of my One Year Bible to indicate a good story or a bad one. Usually they about equal each week. This week however, I had way more unhappy faces. I wrote one for each time someone killed another person or events that were displeasing to God took place. Looking back, it makes me appreciate even more the love God has for us. As a group, people keep messing up. I do every day. But God loves us and sent his Son for us. It is just amazing when you stop to think that Jesus was sent to this earth in spite of and because of people like Ahab and Jezebel. On to the study.....

Seth’s Thoughts

The Old Testament

A couple of stories I want to mention today that have parallels in the New Testament. First of all, there is a miraculous conception with the woman from Shunem. It reminds be of the story of Abram and Sari in Genesis but it also points forward to both Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist, and Mary, the mother of Jesus. Like Jesus, this child died and was brought back to life again (after he sneezed seven times…that is funny). Now I don’t want to press the text too much, but it does set a precedent that God is a powerful God and he can bring people back from the dead. Then there is the story of the poisonous stew. Elisha made sure the stew was O.K. to eat and in a fashion similar to the feeding of the 5,000 everyone ate and was satisfied and there was food left over. In an of themselves these stories show the power of God, but I think they also are a set up for what was to come in the person of Jesus Christ. Then there is the story of the ax head the floats in the water. What was that all about? Again it shows the power of God and points to who Yahweh is. One more… after Elisha dies and is in his tomb the people need to bury another person. Now in those days the dead were buried in shared tombs like caves. The Moabites start a raid on the people so they just throw the body in the tomb. It bumps into Elisha’s bones and the guy comes back to life! Now that is awesome!! God is still using Elisha to show is power long after Elisha died. I wish there was more to this story but the text just goes on to another story. Sometimes the Bible does that. It does not mean that it is not part of scripture but sometimes there is nothing else about the story. One thing that I found in reading this week was trying to keep the kings straight in my mind. What I did was look for some sort of a list and here is what I found. I hope it is helpful:

Kings of Judah and Israel

Kings Before Division of Kingdom
· Saul: First King of Israel; son of Kish; father of Ish-Bosheth, Jonathan and Michal.
· Ish-Bosheth (or Eshbaal): King of Israel; son of Saul.
· David: King of Judah; later of Israel; son of Jesse; husband of Abigail, Ahinoam, Bathsheba, Michal, etc.; father of Absalom, Adonijah, Amnon, Solomon, Tamar, etc.
· Solomon: King of Israel and Judah; son of David; father of Rehoboam.
· Rehoboam: Son of Solomon; during his reign the kingdom was divided into Judah and Israel.

Kings of Judah (Southern Kingdom)
· Rehoboam: First King.
· Abijah (or Abijam or Abia): Son of Rehoboam.
· Asa: Probably son of Abijah.
· Jehoshaphat: Son of Asa.
· Jehoram (or Joram): Son of Jehoshaphat; husband of Athaliah.
· Ahaziah: Son of Jehoram and Athaliah.
· Athaliah: Daughter of King Ahab of Israel and Jezebel; wife of Jehoram; only queen to occupy the throne of Judah.
· Joash (or Jehoash): Son of Ahaziah.
· Amaziah: Son of Joash.
· Uzziah (or Azariah): Son of Amaziah.
· Jotham: Regent, later King; son of Uzziah.
· Ahaz: Son of Jotham.
· Hezekiah: Son of Ahaz; husband of Hephzi-Bah.
· Manasseh: Son of Hezekiah and Hephzi-Bah.
· Amon: Son of Manasseh.
· Josiah (or Josias): Son of Amon.
· Jehoahaz (or Joahaz): Son of Josiah.
· Jehoiakim: Son of Josiah.
· Jehoiachin: Son of Jehoiakim.
· Zedekiah: Son of Josiah; kingdom overthrown by Babylonians.

Kings of Israel (Northern Kingdom)
· Jeroboam I: Led secession of Israel.
· Nadab: Son of Jeroboam I.
· Baasha: Overthrew Nadab.
· Elah: Son of Baasha.
· Zimri: Overthrew Elah.
· Omri: Overthrew Zimri.
· Ahab: Son of Omri; husband of Jezebel.
· Ahaziah: Son of Ahab.
· Jehoram (or Joram): Son of Ahab.
· Jehu: Overthrew Jehoram.
· Jehoahaz (or Joahaz): Son of Jehu.
· Jehoash (or Joash): Son of Jehoahaz.
· Jeroboam Il: Son of Jehoash.
· Zechariah: Son of Jeroboam II.
· Shallum: Overthrew Zechariah.
· Menahem: Overthrew Shallum.
· Pekahiah: Son of Menahem.
· Pekah: Overthrew Pekahiah.
· Hoshea: Overthrew Pekah; kingdom overthrown by Assyrians.

The New Testament
We are in the middle of hearing about the missionary journeys of Paul. I hope you found a good map to help you follow along. A couple of things about these readings; first of all Paul is following his pattern of going to the synagogue first (remember this pattern from last week?). Then he heads out to the streets and in Acts 14 we have a very famous sermon. It is referred to as the sermon on Mars Hill. Paul argues using Greek ways to the philosophers about this person called Jesus. Later on Paul uses one of the statues of the “gods” and says that this “unknown god” is indeed Jesus. Of course this gets Paul into all kinds of trouble and they people try to kill him so he flees the area. Acts 15 records a big debate on whether or not Gentiles have to become Jews first (i.e. through circumcision) before they can be Christians. Paul has a great line in the debate that seems to set the church on the right path, “But we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will.” (Acts 15:11 ESV) Then James gets up and makes the decision to have a compromise and he says, “Therefore my judgment is that we should not trouble those who turn to God.” (Acts 15:19 ESV) I think these are some wise words that we need to be heard today. Of course, because of the message, Paul and Silas end up in prison, but God turns it into a positive thing when they were able to share the message of Jesus with all in the prison, including the jailer. We find out that they all get baptized and became followers. There is a lot more to say about this week’s readings but we don’t have time here. Let me know if you have any questions.

Monday, June 15, 2020

The One Year Bible- June 15th


In 1 Kings we a contest that captured the attention of a nation. When Elijah challenged the prophets of Baal the nation was transfixed on the outcome. God used this opportunity to remind the people of who God was and that he had complete power. God used this match to bring the focus of the people back to God. We all have times where our focus is not on God. I am reminded of these words from the book of Hebrews, “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2 NIV) I hope your Bible reading helps to focus your eyes on Jesus Christ. On to the study....

Seth’s Thoughts

The Old Testament
The time of the kings was not a glorious time for the people of God. After only three kings (Saul, David, Solomon) the nation divides and there is almost constant war. “There was continual warfare between Rehoboam and Jeroboam.” (1 Kings 14:30 NIV) There was also lots of murder and other vile behavior from both sides. Don’t forget to keep the kingdoms straight in your head as you read. When you read Israel, think northern kingdom ruled from Samaria, and when you read Judah, think southern kingdom ruled from Jerusalem. In this section of scripture every time Israel is mentioned it is always in reference to the northern kingdom and not to all the people. Almost every king we meet is bad and we will read over and over again, “He did evil in the eyes of the LORD and followed in the ways of.........” There are a few exceptions to this. Make sure you spot the good ones and remember what they did. 1 and 2 Kings make mention of a few source materials. The Book of the History of the Kings of Israel, and The Book of the History of the Kings of Judah, have never been found but they are mentioned here. Most kings had a scribe who wrote down everything that happened during their reign. It was a common practice and just because we do not have these books today does not discount the validity of the scriptures. We saw the beginning of the history of bad blood between Jerusalem and Samaria this week. Remember in Jesus time, the Jews hated the Samaritans. The history of this rivalry goes back to the divided kingdom. The Samaritans of Jesus day were a bit different because of the exile and other factors, but this is the beginning. God’s prophet Elijah has a big role in the kingdom of Israel. He spends a lot of time trying to convince the Israelites that they have turned away from YAHWEH. His challenge of the prophets of Baal and the sending of fire to consume the king’s messengers are two big ones. A quick note on the challenge on Mt. Carmel; one thing that makes the scene even more dramatic (if it wasn’t already) is the fact that Baal was the god of the weather and he rode on the clouds. If you remember that right after the challenge on the mountain, Elijah says that it is going to rain and it does, in buckets. That was a big “In Your Face!” to the prophets of Baal. I also like the fact that Elijah was given “super strength” as he ran ahead of Ahab’s chariot. I don’t have time here to talk all about Ahab, but suffice it to say that he was a scumbag. He was terrible and I think his wife was even worse. Most of the kings of Israel will be compared to him and eventually he and his wife will become synonymous with evil. “There was never a man like Ahab, who sold himself to do evil in the eyes of the LORD, urged on by Jezebel his wife.  He behaved in the vilest manner by going after idols, like the Amorites the LORD drove out before Israel.” (1 Kings 21:25-26 NIV)

The New Testament
Many people believe that in the early church Peter did ministry only to the Jews and Paul did ministry only to the Gentiles. But when you start looking at it, it becomes obvious that this was not the case. In Acts 10 Peter clearly is called and sent by God to the house of a Gentile. Not only does God give him a vision that this is OK, Peter also baptizes Cornelius and his family! This is Peter doing ministry to the Gentiles. Peter got into some trouble with this, but he was convinced saying, “Then Peter began to speak: ‘I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right.’” (Acts 10:34-35 NIV) Acts 12:24 marks a transition from Peter’s ministry to Paul’s. Even though Paul is known as an apostle to the Gentiles (he even said it himself) Paul’s first destination when he goes into any town or city is the synagogue. If he is to bring the message to the Gentiles, why start in the synagogue? The quick answer is that Paul had a desire that all come to know Jesus and that all would be saved. He himself was a Jew (and a Pharisee to boot) and his desire was also for his own spiritual family. The standard process for Paul and his companions was this: They would start in the synagogue and would preach with success until they encountered hostility. They would then go out to the streets and find some success until they were persecuted and then they fled the city. (My seminary professor had us memorize this as S.S.Hos.S.S.P.F. which stands for synagogue, success, hostility, streets, success, persecution, fled) So both Peter and Paul brought the message to all people everywhere. One thing that is very interesting to note is the list of early church leaders at the beginning of chapter 13. This was a very multicultural group. From the beginning the church has been multi-lingual and multi-cultural (remember Pentecost?). I think we can learn from this model. If we look to Acts as our guide we need to find ways to break the church away from a mono-cultural Western mindset. (Now I am rambling so I will move on.) One neat thing that we find in Acts is the many Old Testament references. The early church used the Scriptures to help teach the truth of Jesus Christ to those waiting for the Messiah.  We will see even more of this later.

Bits and Pieces

The Old Testament
We will start the book of 2 Kings so here are the vital stats:

PURPOSE: To demonstrate the fate that awaits all who refuse to make God their true leader
AUTHOR: Unknown. Possibly Jeremiah or a group of Prophets
SETTING: The once-united nation of Israel has been divided into two kingdoms, Israel and Judah, for over a century.
KEY VERSES: “The LORD warned Israel and Judah through all his prophets and seers: ‘Turn from your evil ways. Observe my commands and decrees, in accordance wit the entire Law that I commanded your fathers to obey and that I delivered to you through my servants the prophets.’ But they would not listen and were as stiff-necked as their fathers, who did not trust in the LORD their God.” 2 Kings 17:13-14
KEY PEOPLE: Elijah, Elisha, Shunammite woman, Naaman, Jezebel, Jehu, Joash, Hexikiah, Sennacherib, Isaiah, Manasseh, Josiah, Jehoiakim, Zedekiah, Nebuchadnezzar
SPECIAL FEATURES: The 17 prophetic books at the end of the Old Testament give great insights into the time period of 2 Kings.

Have a great week!!!

Monday, June 08, 2020

The Bethany Bullet Sermon Message - Week of June 7, 2020



Link to Worship Video for 6/7/20 – HERE
*If unable to open link copy/paste this into your browser:
*Direct link to Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/426553494

Link for printing Sunday’s Bulletin for 6/7/20 – HERE
*If unable to open link copy/paste this into your browser:

Link to Bible Discovery Resources for 6/7/20 – HERE
*If unable to open link copy/paste this into your browser:

V V V


11 or 12 weeks ago we entered a time that we agreed was a Psalm 46 moment.  It felt like everything was crumbling!  Since then we’ve seen markets fall, personal economies collapse, individual lives in upheaval with job loss, increases in depression, abuse and despair.  Of course, we’ve also seen vile, criminal behavior that undermines the noble calling of policing and taints law enforcement officers.   We've also seen vile, criminal behavior that undermines the noble cause of protesting injustice that taints law abiding protesters.  Little did we know 11 or 12 weeks ago that the Psalm 46 moment in which we were living was going to be truly become the Psalm 46 moment in which we are living today.

The words of the 46th Psalm are a source of strength during our weakness, a shelter from the whirlwind around us, and a solace midst devastation because the God who spoke them, who fills their promises is our strength, shelter and solace midst the turmoil around us and…our world is in turmoil.  
The Psalmist writes about global events that have deep, powerful and disruptive personal impact.  True if the Psalmist were writing today he may have juxtaposed the “gladness of the City of God” with the sadness filling the cities of men.  He might have noted not only an earth that melts but hearts that melt at the sins of racism and radicalism that can leave one to wonder what is happening to humanity…we can hear the uproar, will the kingdom fall?  Hearts are melting.  

The Psalmist bookends his analysis of anarchy of the days with these words, God is our refuge and strength, a very present help.  After recognizing a world filled with rage, tottering and melting the Psalmist concludes with the assurance that the Lord is with us; that God is our fortress!  Yet, in the middle of the Psalm, the author quits talking and God Him speaks:  “Be still, and know that I am God.”  Be still!  When everything is shaking it seems and sounds counterintuitive - but there are two takeaways that are essential for our days, we acknowledge them when we began this journey and it’s fitting to remember them today!

First, God’s got this moment! He has before and He shall again.  God’s got this moment, but what will be the enduring images of this moment?  Yes, we’ve all seen the horrifying, criminal act of one sworn to uphold the law - kneeling on a man’s neck, ending the life of one he was sworn to protect.   We’ve also seen officers kneeling for a moment of prayer with protesters and guard members marching with those crying out for justice and change.  We've seen protesters attempting to protect property that did not belong to them from looters and rioters seeking to criminally claim for their own that which did not belong to them. We've seen strangers become neighbors by showing up with a broom and bucket helping clean up, joining to stand up and raising a voice to speak up for others.

God is in the midst of this moment...and one of the most powerful ways He is in the midst of this moment is through the actions of His people.  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 a people after His heart…that’s you.  People who will step up and speak up for others, even those they’ve never met and may share little with others than being created in the image of the same God, given life by the same Spirit and redeemed by the blood of the same Savior’s. 

Second thing to embrace in this call to be still…don’t miss this…this is a moment for you to get God!   When the world is SO NOISEY, when there is so much coming at you all at once, when you are close to feeling defeated and depleted He shall yet be exalted.  He is the one who is rock solid and true in an unstable world, and He is the one with you.  He is the one who moves us to join the Psalmist and say…we will not fear!

In these Psalm 46 days we are a bookend for someone’s tumult!  We are their source of stability.   Because we are His and we trust that He’s got this moment and in Christ Jesus we know we’ve got Him.  

A Prayer for these Days:
Almighty God who spoke in a whisper, hear our cries; cries of despair perhaps barely even audible, cries of pain so loud they echo.  Lord as You wept over Jerusalem, we know even now Your heart breaks over the brokenness sin and injustice cause, may it break our hearts as well.  Lord we look at outward appearances, You Lord, look at the heart. Give us new eyes to see as You see Lord.  Send Your Spirit to root out the seen and unseen sins of ignorance, intolerance, hatred, apathy and racism in our world and even in the Church.  May we celebrate each individual, created in Your image and redeemed with Your blood, as our brother and sister and make us a more complete people as we stand together.  Almighty, Triune God we pray that You would restore order to our streets, our communities, our homes, our minds and hearts. Restore civility to our conversations, deliberations and actions.  May Your justice overflow and bring healing to our madness. Restrain the forces of anarchy, violence and destruction. Quench the fires of anger and rage that burn within us. Drive from our hearts the evil by which we dehumanize others. Rally us, who believe that all people are created in Your image, to speak boldly that all people might receive equal justice and treatment.  Restore the dignity of our humanity, won by Your Son, and teach us to embrace one another regardless of color or creed or class even as He has embraced every nation, tribe, people, and language in His all-reconciling Death. Have mercy upon us all, for the sake of your Son, the Prince of Peace and the world’s Redeemer, Jesus Christ.
-Amen




To read statements from both the President of the PSW District and LC-MS regarding these Psalm 46 days click HERE and follow the links.

*If unable to open link, please copy/paste this into your browser: https://www.psd-lcms.org/

Pr. Kevin Kritzer


Worship Resources for Sunday, June 14th     
will be up on Bethany’s website by midday Saturday, June 13th!


The One Year Bible- June 8th


Have you ever read a book and about half way through, not known the main storyline? Maybe you missed it, or possible it is not there, but it is never fun reading a book without a point. Some people get that when they read the Bible. For many it seems like a bunch of disconnected stories that do not seem to fit together. One way to see the big picture is to take the time and read through the whole thing. If you are like me, there is no way I could just sit and read the Bible straight through, starting at page one and going to the end. Some people have the ability to read a book in a weekend or even in a day. The only time I have ever done that was for a class. But when you start digging into scripture and the big picture is revealed, the whole Bible starts to make sense. This happened to me a number years ago when I was teaching an Old Testament class. Our textbook was the Bible, and for the first time in my life, it started to make sense. In this weeks readings we have seen some of the connections. Lets look at them today....

Seth’s Thoughts

The Old Testament
This week’s readings had some great connections. The people of Israel now have peace under King Solomon. Things are looking up for the people. The author of 1 Kings gives us a bit of a flashback to Abraham when he writes, “The people of Judah and Israel were as numerous as the sand on the seashore; they ate, they drank and they were happy.” (I Kings 4:20 NIV) The promise that was made to Abraham has come to pass. Solomon then undertakes the building of a permanent home for Yahweh. Solomon sends a message to king Hiram of Tyre to make an order for building supplies. Tyre is in what we call Lebanon today. Tyre had (and still has) a great natural resource in timber. It was the best timber around, and only the best was used for the temple. It took seven years to build the temple. I don’t know if you have been part of a building project, but a seven-year building project must have been stressful. When the day came for the dedication of the Temple the priests were sacrificing away and then they had to stop. “When the priests came out of the Holy Place, a thick cloud filled the Temple of the LORD (remember all caps = Yahweh). The priests could not continue their service because of the cloud, for the glorious presence of the LORD filled the Temple.” All of the promises of God to Abraham had been fulfilled!!! Without studying this beforehand one would not understand the gravity of this time. Remember back when we were reading in Genesis and I mentioned the three fold promise that was given. God promised to make Abraham a great people, to give them land, and to have a relationship with them. All three have now officially come to pass. The people are more numerous then the sand on the seashore, they are living at peace in the land, and Yahweh has come down to have a relationship with them in his earthly home. This is no light matter. Solomon speaks of the PLR promise in his prayer of dedication as well. This is the high point of the Old Testament. At this point all seems to be going well, everyone is happy and prosperous. There was so much gold that silver had no value. I especially like this verse, “The king had a fleet of trading ships at sea along with the ships of Hiram. Once every three years it returned, carrying gold, silver and ivory, and apes and baboons.” (1 Kings 10:22 NIV) Why did Solomon need apes and baboons (or peacocks if you are reading the ESV)? Who knows, but when you have money you will find new things to buy just because you can. But sin is still in the world and bad times are just ahead of the people. Soon after this great event even wise Solomon starts to fall away. His wives and their “gods” start to distract him and the country divided in two. Solomon’s son will not be king over a united kingdom. The LORD will provide consequences for sin. This ushers in a time of great suffering and troubles that will last for many years to come. We also see a new literary pattern when the kings are introduced, “So Solomon did evil in the eyes of the LORD; he did not follow the LORD completely, as David his father had done.” (1 Kings 11:6 NIV) Look for this pattern as we continue to read about the Kings of Israel and Judah. The rest of 1 and 2 Kings will be filled with sin, sin, and more sin. We will see a few bright spots, but it seems now that the promises of God are far from being fulfilled. It may be helpful to read the rest of the Old Testament narrative with this verse in mind, “For no matter how many promises God has made, they are ‘Yes” in Christ.” (2 Corinthians 1:20 NIV) The promise will be fulfilled in Jesus who, as a descendant of David, will sit on his throne forever. This is the fulfillment of the Davidic covenant. Jesus will be the one who will make us his people through his suffering and death, Jesus will give us land in heaven, and he promises to be with us forever.

The New Testament
As we continue in the book of Acts we see that the Word of the Lord continues to grow and spread as the church begins, but there were some rumblings of discontent. The Apostles address this concern and start to delegate some authority. This is a good thing that we can all learn from. One verse really struck me from Chapter 6, “So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith.” (Acts 6:7 NIV) Wow!! Some of the priests hear the Word and become believers of Jesus. That is powerful! The big connection this week to the main story is that of Stephen. He was commissioned to help pass out the food in Jerusalem and there he is preaching the message of Jesus Christ. He gets arrested and then has a marvelous speech. In this speech he mentions the PLR promise that was given to Abraham! How awesome is that? We just heard about it from Solomon and now we hear it from Stephen. His message gave a great summary of the Old Testament and he even mentions David and Solomon and the temple. What a great connection. He goes on to say, “However, the Most High does not live in houses made by men” (Acts 7:48 NIV). Jesus was the temple. He even said so himself, “Jesus said ‘Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days,’” (John 2:19 NIV) Jesus was talking about himself. Stephen becomes a great witness to Jesus and because of his death the word of the Lord was spread. One thing of note here is that there is a Pharisee named Saul who was in favor of killing Stephen. We will meet Saul again in a minute. One of the other people commissioned to pass out food was Philip. We see him later preaching and baptizing, not just passing out food. I think both Stephen and Philip tell us a lot about our vocation. We have been called to do certain things, but we all still preach, teach, and share Christ every day in every way. We saw the spread of the Gospel to Samaria in chapter 8 when Peter and John travel up to bring the Holy Spirit. This is a big deal because any good Jew hates anything Samaritan. Both Peter and John not only go to Samaria to see what was going on, but they also stopped and preached the Good news at many Samaritan villages. Philips meeting with the Ethiopian brings the message to Gentiles!! This is the beginning of something big. At the end of our readings we see this Saul character again. He was one bad dude. He hated the believers of the way and would do anything to stop them. But God had other plans. He called him on the road to Damascus and changed his life forever. We will spend more time talking about Saul (a.k.a. Paul, his Greek name) later. One quick thing: God does not change his name, he just goes by Saul when he is with Hebrew speakers and Paul when he is with Greek speakers, but more on him later.

Have a great week!!

Thursday, June 04, 2020

The Bethany Bullet Sermon Message - Week of May 31, 2020...Includes Prayer Vigil Information


The Bethany Bullet is a weekly capsule of worship highlights and big information that your brain may or may not have 'downloaded' from the prior Sunday. The purpose is to bolster you in faith, build you up in the key Biblical themes shared the previous Sunday in worship, to bring to mind the important issues on Bethany's plate and to broaden your awareness of opportunities of service to your Lord, your church, and your community. Tell a friend about The Bethany Bullet! (www.bethanylutheran.org)

Link to Worship Video for 5/31/20 – 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/423793822

Link for printing Sunday’s Bulletin for 5/31/20 – HERE

Link to Bible Discovery Resources for 5/31/20 – HERE
*If unable to open link copy/paste this into your browser:




Always Been Essential...Never Been Closed.

The church has always been essential!  There is nothing more essential than a living faith relationship with the Lord of Life who daily and richly forgives sins for the sake of Christ, restores connections to Himself and His family, grants strength to trust in His promises and speaks His Word of hope, power and love to His own through the ministry of His bride the church. 

Always been essential...Never been closed.  Even as we’ve always been essential, Bethany Lutheran Church has never been closed!  We’ve certainly not been closed at Bethany during the Covid pandemic.  Though we have not had on campus worship opportunities (outside of individual household services of confession, absolution and communion) we’ve been open and as busy (busier) than ever.

In this month of June, Bethany will begin to return to some various forms of on campus worship options. The Bullet and website will keep you informed.  Bethany will continue to have a prerecorded, on-line, off campus worship option throughout the summer.  Bethany’s Site-Specific Covid-19 protection plan will be viewable on our website as soon as it is completed (coming soon).



This Sunday June 7th we will host on campus Prayer Vigils from 8:00-10:30AM.

REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED to attend a vigil.  These services itself will last approximately 15 minutes in length, outside around the Cross Tower in Friendship Square.  Face masks will be REQUIRED.  To maintain social distancing we are limiting attendance to a maximum of one dozen households per vigil.  As these services are outdoors the Sanctuary will be closed.  We ask you to please use the restroom at home before attending.  Once the vigil is complete you’ll be asked to leave campus immediately through the Friendship Square office, Cross Tower gate.  Please park in the front lot and enter campus through the rolling gate and proceed to the Cross Tower at the far west end of Friendship Square.

Please DO NOT Register if…
DO NOT register if you are in a high risk category. DO NOT register to attend if you or a member of your household is sick.  DO NOT attend if you or a member of your household feels ill the day of. Your health & safety as well as the health & safety of our staff and others attending are of our utmost concern. Thank you for your understanding. If you are unable to register…we encourage you to join us in prayer from home. We would be happy to forward you copy of the Prayer Vigil’s Order of Service…email Cindy Morrison at cmorrison@bethanylutheran.org to receive a copy.

To Register for this Sunday’s Prayer Vigils please click HERE
*If unable to open the link, please copy/paste this into your browser:

OR

You may go to Bethany’s website at www.bethanylutheran.org
and click the link on the home page.

REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED TO PARTICPATE…REGISTRATION CLOSES AT MIDNIGHT ON SATURDAY, JUNE 6TH.

On Sunday, June 14th we will host services of The Spoken Word and Sacrament.  Registration will be required to attend.  These services will be limited in capacity, require the wearing of masks, maintain social distancing and observe prevention protocols.  Details and instructions regarding the service and making an RSVP will be in next week’s edition of the Bethany Bullet.
Pr. Kevin Kritzer
Worship Resources for Sunday, June 7th   
will be up on Bethany’s website
by midday Saturday, June 6th!

Monday, June 01, 2020

The One Year Bible- June 1st

June gloom is officially here. For those of us in southern California we know this all too well. Most mornings are gloomy and overcast. It is a strange thing for newcomers to the area to wake up expecting the sun and getting clouds every day. I kind of like this time of year; the Jacarandas are in bloom, the mornings are overcast, school is almost over; it is just a nice time of the year for me. Others don’t like this time of year. It is stressful with the kids being home, its overcast every morning, you still have to go to work even in the summer months, and it’s not that fun. I think we go through these seasons in our Christian lives too. At times things are going well and at others nothing seems to work out. There are seasons in the life of Christ as well. He started his ministry and things seemed to be going well, he was gaining popularity, healing the sick, giving sight to the blind, etc. Then he makes his way into Jerusalem where he suffers and dies. The difference here is that it was love that motivated Jesus. It was his love that drove him to the cross. It was his love that broke the chains of death and the power of the devil so we can one day be with him forever in paradise. This is some good news. That will be a great day. No more tears or sadness, no more schoolwork to do, no more work at the office in the summer. This is the reason Jesus came. One day we will all have the ultimate vacation and freedom in heaven. Enough of my rambling.....on to the Study.

Seth’s Thoughts

The Old Testament
I am not sure what has happened to the writer of 2nd Samuel. I seemed to notice that the flow of the story was much more difficult to follow this week. It could have been me, but it is true that the literary structure of this book is nowhere near that of the books of Moses. Once again the main point of the story is that problems abound in the house of David. His son Absalom leads a revolt and it does not end well. There were plenty of guts spilling on the ground this week. There were a bunch of murders and stories of warriors. I did find it interesting that there was a guy with six fingers and six toes on each hand (2 Sam. 21:20). That was pretty cool. As the book of 1 Kings opens we see a struggle for power. What usually happened at the end of the reign of a King is that there was a power struggle. Many of the sons would claim the right to be the king. When one obtained the dominant position, he usually tried to kill all the other sons. This is what was going on here. Adonijah and Solomon have a problem with who will be the next king, and true to the house of David, Solomon orders the execution of Adonijah. Even king David from his deathbed orders for the death of one of his enemies. This is the family of the promised Messiah? This is the line of the savior of the world? It just goes to show that God loves us so much and he desires that we are all saved. He loves us so much that even to this sinful family will come the long awaited Christ, the Son of the Most High God. A member of this horrible family will fulfill the promise given to Abraham long ago. God’s mercy endures forever.

On another note I found it interesting that we read of the “mighty men” of David. These were the four warriors that helped David in his battles with Saul and with the surrounding nations. There was also a list of “the thirty”. These guys were almost as good as the “mighty men” but not quite. After reading this in the Old Testament (June 4th) I found an interesting parallel in the reading from Acts from the same day. In Peter’s Pentecost sermon he says, “Men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs...” (Acts 2:22 ESV). If you are reading another version you might not see the word “mighty” but the ESV uses the word. Peter then goes on to quote from David. Was Peter making a reference that Jesus is now the mightiest of the mighty men? I have not done the digging necessary to find out if others think this but it was interesting that we read both of these on the same day this week. Just some food for thought.

The New Testament
There are some great things to talk about from our New Testament readings. The days after the resurrection were filled with sightings of Jesus. We don’t get all the details of the events but I like to think this was a time of joy and preparation; joy for the disciples, knowing the truth of the Messiah and preparation for the work that was to come. We don’t get to hear everything from the mouth of Jesus but when we get into Acts I think we start to hear what Jesus was telling them in his last days on earth. But even with all of this, the disciples still have their problems and doubts. Thomas struggles with not seeing the risen Lord with his own eyes, but when he does he has one of the greatest statements of faith, “My Lord and my God!” If we all could be so bold to shout this with Thomas. John tells us in chapter 20 the reason for his Gospel, “But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” (John 20:31 NIV) One other thing in John that astounds me is that we only get a glimpse of the ministry of Jesus. John tells us, “Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.” (John 21:25 NIV) I am excited to get to heaven and find out the other things that Jesus said and did. A few amazing things happened the first few days of the Christian Church. Can you imagine 3,000 baptisms in one day?? Where would this take place? I had wondered that for years and recently I heard a reasonable explanation. Just outside of the temple was a place where the Jews could wash and become ritually clean before they entered. This was a large complex of pools and basins just south of the entrance to the temple. One of my seminary professors showed us pictures from this location and by seeing it, it would be easy to baptize many people all in one day. This may or may not be true, but it does make sense. We have already seen the disciples get in trouble for their message but the Lord helps them. This will continue throughout the book. More about the book of Acts next week.

Bits and Pieces

Just a few things here for you: First of all if you are reading from the ESV (English Standard Version) this year you may have noticed a new word that pops up now and again. The word is Sheol. The NIV usually translates this word as “the grave”, “the depths”, “the pit” etc. This, indeed is a word that means the place where God is not. The Old Testament writers usually do not develop the idea of hell very far mostly because any place without God would be horrible. The word Sheol is Hebrew and has packaged within it not only a view of what we term hell but also the whole idea of separation from God and all of his benefits (love, mercy, grace, etc.). This is indeed a bad place.

One other interesting thing to note is an idiom that the Hebrew’s use for the anger and wrath of Yahweh. Some of this idiom comes out in translation. When the writers of the Old Testament wanted to describe God’s anger they focused on the face of God and talked about his nostrils flaring or burning (2 Samuel 22:8-9). This meant you were ticked off. There is a related phrase that does not usually get translated it literally says that Yahweh was “long of nose”. This meant that he was patient, loving, gracious, etc. The two phrases are not actual opposites, just a way in which the language was used to try to describe an indescribable GodJune gloom is officially here. For those of us in southern California we know this all too well. Most mornings are gloomy and overcast. It is a strange thing for newcomers to the area to wake up expecting the sun and getting clouds every day. I kind of like this time of year; the Jacarandas are in bloom, the mornings are overcast, school is almost over; it is just a nice time of the year for me. Others don’t like this time of year. It is stressful with the kids being home, its overcast every morning, you still have to go to work even in the summer months, and it’s not that fun. I think we go through these seasons in our Christian lives too. At times things are going well and at others nothing seems to work out. There are seasons in the life of Christ as well. He started his ministry and things seemed to be going well, he was gaining popularity, healing the sick, giving sight to the blind, etc. Then he makes his way into Jerusalem where he suffers and dies. The difference here is that it was love that motivated Jesus. It was his love that drove him to the cross. It was his love that broke the chains of death and the power of the devil so we can one day be with him forever in paradise. This is some good news. That will be a great day. No more tears or sadness, no more schoolwork to do, no more work at the office in the summer. This is the reason Jesus came. One day we will all have the ultimate vacation and freedom in heaven. Enough of my rambling.....on to the Study.

Seth’s Thoughts

The Old Testament
I am not sure what has happened to the writer of 2nd Samuel. I seemed to notice that the flow of the story was much more difficult to follow this week. It could have been me, but it is true that the literary structure of this book is nowhere near that of the books of Moses. Once again the main point of the story is that problems abound in the house of David. His son Absalom leads a revolt and it does not end well. There were plenty of guts spilling on the ground this week. There were a bunch of murders and stories of warriors. I did find it interesting that there was a guy with six fingers and six toes on each hand (2 Sam. 21:20). That was pretty cool. As the book of 1 Kings opens we see a struggle for power. What usually happened at the end of the reign of a King is that there was a power struggle. Many of the sons would claim the right to be the king. When one obtained the dominant position, he usually tried to kill all the other sons. This is what was going on here. Adonijah and Solomon have a problem with who will be the next king, and true to the house of David, Solomon orders the execution of Adonijah. Even king David from his deathbed orders for the death of one of his enemies. This is the family of the promised Messiah? This is the line of the savior of the world? It just goes to show that God loves us so much and he desires that we are all saved. He loves us so much that even to this sinful family will come the long awaited Christ, the Son of the Most High God. A member of this horrible family will fulfill the promise given to Abraham long ago. God’s mercy endures forever.

On another note I found it interesting that we read of the “mighty men” of David. These were the four warriors that helped David in his battles with Saul and with the surrounding nations. There was also a list of “the thirty”. These guys were almost as good as the “mighty men” but not quite. After reading this in the Old Testament (June 4th) I found an interesting parallel in the reading from Acts from the same day. In Peter’s Pentecost sermon he says, “Men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs...” (Acts 2:22 ESV). If you are reading another version you might not see the word “mighty” but the ESV uses the word. Peter then goes on to quote from David. Was Peter making a reference that Jesus is now the mightiest of the mighty men? I have not done the digging necessary to find out if others think this but it was interesting that we read both of these on the same day this week. Just some food for thought.

The New Testament
There are some great things to talk about from our New Testament readings. The days after the resurrection were filled with sightings of Jesus. We don’t get all the details of the events but I like to think this was a time of joy and preparation; joy for the disciples, knowing the truth of the Messiah and preparation for the work that was to come. We don’t get to hear everything from the mouth of Jesus but when we get into Acts I think we start to hear what Jesus was telling them in his last days on earth. But even with all of this, the disciples still have their problems and doubts. Thomas struggles with not seeing the risen Lord with his own eyes, but when he does he has one of the greatest statements of faith, “My Lord and my God!” If we all could be so bold to shout this with Thomas. John tells us in chapter 20 the reason for his Gospel, “But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” (John 20:31 NIV) One other thing in John that astounds me is that we only get a glimpse of the ministry of Jesus. John tells us, “Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.” (John 21:25 NIV) I am excited to get to heaven and find out the other things that Jesus said and did. A few amazing things happened the first few days of the Christian Church. Can you imagine 3,000 baptisms in one day?? Where would this take place? I had wondered that for years and recently I heard a reasonable explanation. Just outside of the temple was a place where the Jews could wash and become ritually clean before they entered. This was a large complex of pools and basins just south of the entrance to the temple. One of my seminary professors showed us pictures from this location and by seeing it, it would be easy to baptize many people all in one day. This may or may not be true, but it does make sense. We have already seen the disciples get in trouble for their message but the Lord helps them. This will continue throughout the book. More about the book of Acts next week.

Bits and Pieces

Just a few things here for you: First of all if you are reading from the ESV (English Standard Version) this year you may have noticed a new word that pops up now and again. The word is Sheol. The NIV usually translates this word as “the grave”, “the depths”, “the pit” etc. This, indeed is a word that means the place where God is not. The Old Testament writers usually do not develop the idea of hell very far mostly because any place without God would be horrible. The word Sheol is Hebrew and has packaged within it not only a view of what we term hell but also the whole idea of separation from God and all of his benefits (love, mercy, grace, etc.). This is indeed a bad place.

One other interesting thing to note is an idiom that the Hebrew’s use for the anger and wrath of Yahweh. Some of this idiom comes out in translation. When the writers of the Old Testament wanted to describe God’s anger they focused on the face of God and talked about his nostrils flaring or burning (2 Samuel 22:8-9). This meant you were ticked off. There is a related phrase that does not usually get translated it literally says that Yahweh was “long of nose”. This meant that he was patient, loving, gracious, etc. The two phrases are not actual opposites, just a way in which the language was used to try to describe an indescribable God


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