Monday, August 31, 2020

The One Year Bible- August 31st

A few years ago I wrote the following introduction to this week’s study:


I came into the office today and I was greeted with ants!! Tons of them just walking around my desk. There was no point to it. I had no food for them to get, they were not organized in a line going to or from some sweets, but they were just there. It seemed to be meaningless. It reminded me of the book of Ecclesiastes that we read in its entirety this week. Those ants lead meaningless lives at times, but God created them for a purpose. There are people who live meaningless lives in our world today. Many do not know the joy of Jesus or the wonderful grace that comes through him. As we study this book today, don’t forget that this topic is just as relevant today as it was when Solomon wrote it.


On to the study...


Seth’s Thoughts


The Old Testament

Let’s start with a few last comments on Job before we jump into Ecclesiastes. . I will be honest with you, I never read the whole book of Job until my first journey through the One Year Bible. I had heard the stories and knew the basics, but I never actually read the book straight through. Job is a hard book to wrap your head around. Does God really want us to suffer? Is it OK for us to be mad at God? These are rough questions. In my final analysis, God is a loving God who does not give us anything we can’t handle. I am reminded of what it says it the book of James, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:2-4 NIV). If that is what it takes, then I guess I am ready.


The book of Ecclesiastes is another book that is hard to understand. Solomon wrote this book at the end of his life, after he followed God for a while and then spent a good deal of time away from God. He brings a neat perspective on the idea of life. A casual reading of the book may bring up more questions than answers and that is O.K. Once again, to help us understand this book I am bowing to a higher source.


Roland Cap Ehlke in his commentary on Ecclesiastes says the following:


The entire Bible is a unified whole. It all points to Jesus Christ. It all presents the law of God and the gospel of his love in Christ. Nevertheless, within this unity there is room for diversity. Some books are historical, others doctrinal. Some books emphasize one theme, while others stress something else. In other words, each book of the Bible has its own special emphasis. With this in mind we shall consider the outlook and purpose of Ecclesiastes.


Throughout the book two important concepts occur over and over. Together they make up the combination which unlocks Solomon’s outlook on life.


The first thought is summed up in the terms “meaningless” and “under the sun.” Again and again Solomon returns to the initial refrain of Ecclesiastes: “Meaningless! Meaningless!...Everything is Meaningless” (1:2). This is how he describes life “under the sun,” that is, in this world. According to Solomon, life on earth is full of trouble; and even when we find pleasure, it is fleeting and soon disappears like one’s breath on a winter day.


This is the first key thought of Ecclesiastes: everything under the sun is, and of itself, meaningless.  Solomon’s repeated use of this concept implies that there is something “beyond the sun.” Somewhere out there is something or someone not subject to this meaningless world. That someone, or course, is God. The role of God in our life is the second main thought in Ecclesiastes. Solomon describes God as a stern Judge, but also as a gracious God who blesses us with countless gifts. The greatest of these gifts is life after death: “The dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it” (12:7)


When one puts these two main thoughts together, it becomes evident what Solomon has done in Ecclesiastes. He has presented life from two perspectives. First he views the world without God. This view leads to the conclusion, “Everything is meaningless.” But he also looks at life with God in control. Here we find many gifts and blessings. We can picture Solomon’s twofold presentation thus:


spiritual world
material world


The unbeliever sees nothing beyond the material world, or at best catches an occasional glimpse that there might be something beyond. His sights are focused on what is under the sun. The believer on the other hand, views life through the eyes of faith.


From his perspective the unbeliever can only conclude that all is meaningless. For him it would be better never to have been born (4:2,3). The believer, however, sees God’s hand in everything and so finds peace, contentment and stability in a changing world. And this brings us from Solomon’s outlook to his purpose in writing. He directs us to God and his love for the purpose of strengthening our faith and courage as we carry on “under the sun.”


From- The People’s Bible Commentary- Ecclesiastes / Song of Songs by Roland Cap Ehlke, Concordia Publishing House, p.p.4-5.


It is important to remember Solomon’s point when reading this book. We have hope because we know what is beyond this world. Our hope is beyond the sun as we look to the Son—Jesus Christ himself.


The New Testament
I don’t know about you, but I have really enjoyed reading through 2 Corinthians the past couple of weeks. This letter of Paul’s does not get the top billing like Romans, Ephesians, or even 1 Corinthians, but it has been quite an enjoyable read. I have found some connections between what we read in Job and the encouragement Paul gives to the Corinthians. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:17-18 NIV).


Paul really spoke to me in Chapter five this week. At times I think I am nuts for doing what I do. Every week I look at my schedule and think, “What am I doing???” I have so much to do as my ministry at Bethany expands, I have multiple Bible studies to write, help plan worship, visit those in the hospital, meet with various boards, not to mention spend time with my wife and kids, try to keep up with the Angels, and the list goes on. But Paul, writing through the Holy Spirit speaks directly to me,If we are out of our mind, it is for the sake of God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. For Christ's love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.” (2 Corinthians 5:13-15 NIV).


One big theological thing that Paul writes about in 2 Corinthians is The Ministry of Reconciliation. The fact is that we, as sinful people, are enemies of God. We do not do what he wants, and we continually fall short. But we are new creatures in Christ, “the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17b NIV) We have been reconciled to God. The American Heritage dictionary defines reconciled as: “To reestablish a close relationship between” or “To settle or resolve”. What has been reestablished is our place in God’s kingdom. What has been settled is the problem of sin. This is a gift from God, but this is not the only gift. We are also given us the task of reconciling people to God (see 2 Cor. 5:18 ff.). We have been given the task to share the good news of reconciliation with everyone!! What an honor!! More on 2 Corinthians next week.


Bits and Pieces

We will get into the book of Song of Songs this week.   Here are the vital stats for the book:


PURPOSE: To tell of the love between a bridegroom (King Solomon) and his bride, to affirm the sanctity of marriage, and to picture God’s love for his people (and a foreshadowing of our life with Christ)

AUTHOR: Solomon

DATE WRITTEN: Probably early in Solomon’s reign

SETTING: Israel—the Shulammite woman’s garden and the king’s palace

LAW THEMES: Religious promiscuity and unfaithfulness (idolatry), like sexual promiscuity and unfaithfulness, are destructive.

GOSPEL THEMES: In faithful love, God sent Christ to save the world; He grants to believers the priceless blessings of love for Him and marital love for spouses.

KEY VERSE: “I am my lover’s and my lover is mine; he browses among the lilies” (6:3)

KEY PEOPLE: King Solomon, the Shulammite woman, and friends


We will also start the book of Isaiah this week. It will take us a while to get through this book. It is deep and theological. Here are the vital stats for Isaiah:

PURPOSE: To call the nation of Judah back to God and to tell of God’s salvation through the Messiah.

AUTHOR: The prophet Isaiah son of Amoz

DATE WRITTEN: The events of chapters 1-39 occurred during Isaiah’s ministry, so they were probably written about 700 B.C. Chapters 40-66, however may have been written near the end of his life, about 681 B.C.

SETTING: Isaiah is speaking and writing mainly in Jerusalem

LAW THEMES: Judgment on false worship; Judgment day; selfishness; woes against Israel and the nations; defeat by Assyria and Babylon; idolatry condemned.

GOSPEL THEMES: The remnant preserved; Immanuel; the Messiah’s just reign; salvation promised to Ethiopia, Assyria, and the nations; the feast; mercy for Hezekiah; God’s comfort for Zion; the Lord’s Servant; Zion’s deliverance; new heavens and new earth.

KEY VERSE: “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.” (53:5)

KEY PEOPLE: Isaiah, his two sons Shear-Jashub and Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz

SPECIAL FEATURES: The book of Isaiah contains both prose and poetry and uses personification. Also, many of the prophecies in Isaiah contain predictions that foretell a soon-to-occur event and a distant future event at the same time. 

Monday, August 24, 2020

The Bethany Bullet Sermon Message - Week of August 23, 2020




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I grew up in a bespectacled family.  My father started wearing glasses when he was quite young.  My mother did the same.  My sister got her first pair when she was in the 5th grade and my brother got his when he was 7 years old, and then there was me.  I desperately wanted to fit in with my family. I was the only one not wearing glasses and it felt strange.  I vividly remember sitting in class and forcing my eyes to blur in the hopes that they would stay that way and I could get glasses.  I was jealous. 

Eventually, in my mid 20s I was having a hard time seeing the puck when I watched the Kings on TV so, instead of going to the optometrist, I just started sitting closer to the screen.  When I would be in the car, I struggled to see the street signs so, instead of making an appointment to get my eyes checked, I asked Jill to read the street signs for me; it was no longer jealousy that motivated me, but apathy.    

Finally, I gave in and got a pair of glasses and once I had them, I thought everyone was staring at me.  My view on glasses had changed drastically over the years.  It went from jealousy, to apathy, to only about me.  My view was distorted.  

For the past few months we have been taking a look at Paul’s letter to the Romans.   This letter is filled with the wonderful truth of salvation in Jesus Christ.  For the past 11 chapters Paul has been laying out his case for belief in Jesus.  

In chapter after chapter Paul lays the foundation of faith.  We have heard that all people are sinful, that Christ died to forgive sin, that we are made right with God through faith, and that this begins a new life with a new relationship with God and there is no one for whom Christ has not died and whom God does not love.  After Paul has laid out this foundation, he gives praise and honor to God.  From Romans 11 starting at verse 33:

Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!  "For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?" "Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?"  For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.

It would be a tempting place to stop.  It would be a nice place to end the letter, but Paul sees something more, he knows the sinful condition and what distorts us from seeing what God has planned next. As we continue on in our reading for today, as we move on to chapter 12 Paul makes a transition.  Paul gives us a new vision, a new way of seeing life. 

Often times we like to use our own lenses to see what comes next.  Not unlike my experience with wearing glasses we like to put our own lenses as we move forward.  

What lenses do you put on?  

Is it the lens of jealousy?  Do your actions seek to find gain because of what others have and you don’t?  Do you find it hard to see the stuff that others accumulate while you struggle to make ends meet? 

Perhaps it’s the lens of apathy.  Does your inaction cause issues in your relationships?  Do you find it hard to engage in the activities you know are right?  Is it perhaps that you would rather do what you know down deep is wrong? 

For you, it might be the lens of “only me”.  This lens elevates your thoughts and views and beliefs above those of others.  Your ideas you would like prefer to be community standards, your opinions would be shared by all.  

If it’s not one of these distortions, I’m sure there is something that keeps you from keeping God’s mercy in view. 

From Romans chapter 12 Paul writes:

“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” 

The NIV translation of Romans 12:1 uses the phrase “In view of God’s mercy” as the basis for his appeal for action.  It is interesting to note that the word for mercy is plural.  We are not talking about one thing but the entire body of the letter to this point.  

What Paul has laid out is a listing of the mercies of God fulfilled in Christ, and he now asks us to use the lens of that mercy to see what comes next.  And what comes next as we have God’s mercy in view? 

·         We are to offer bodily dedication

·         We are to avoid worldly contamination

·         We experience Godly transformation

First of all a bodily dedication; Paul says to present our bodies as living sacrifices holy and acceptable to God.  This is worship talk.  

In the Old Testament, animal sacrifice was the center of worship life.  The temple in Jerusalem was where sacrifice was made and forgiveness gained.  Old Testament sacrifices surrounded the death of a substitute so that mercy could be given through the blood of the sacrifice.  When Jesus took on flesh and walked the earth he became the ultimate sacrifice as he went to the cross, shed his own blood and died a horrible death so that all could experience the mercy of God.  Because of Jesus we are all made holy and forgiven. Now we are asked to be a sacrifice.  But this is a bit different.  Because of Christ, we offer living sacrifices in our daily lives.  As the priests in the Old Testament offered sacrifice, as our High Priest Jesus offered his own body as a sacrifice, we too as a royal priesthood redeemed by God now can offer our own bodies as living sacrifices.  

Second, we need to avoid worldly contamination.  This world, this age, is filled with sin.  Sin is what separates us from God it brings about death, it springs to life at opportune moments, and it is a reality for every human being. Worldly contamination obscures the lenses of God’s mercy and leads to jealousy, apathy and it only being about me.   

Third, because of Christ we experience Godly transformation.  

As Paul urges the Romans to be transformed we could also translate it as “keep on being transformed”.  It is a continual process that we find ourselves in because of the reality of sin in this world.  Paul uses the Greek word metamorphosis to describe this transformation.  A metamorphosis is a complete change from the inside out.  It is the same word both Matthew and Mark use to describe our Lord on the mountain of transfiguration.  When Jesus was transfigured, transformed, metamorphosized, as Mark describes it: His clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them.  Or as Matthew writes: His face shone like the sun and his clothes became as white as the light. 

When we look for the transformation that comes, we can only look to one place, in fact one person, Jesus Christ!  Jesus, who transformed himself in humility as he came to earth, performed the greatest transformation of all.  He willingly gave up his life, was beaten and crucified so that you might be transformed. When he rose again, he transformed your trajectory, changed your view, he fixed your eyes and he gave us all the lens of mercy which takes away all jealousy, apathy and things that are only about me. As Paul told the Corinthians: If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! (2 Cor. 5:17)  Only with God’s mercy in view can we:

·         Offer a bodily dedication

·         Avoid worldly contamination

·         And experience Godly transformation

As we close today, allow me to give you a few things to ponder and to deal with in view of God’s mercy. 

First, I’d like you to ponder the ideas, thoughts, or preconceived notions that you carry that become the lens through which you view the world and that can contaminate your view.  What things get in the way from keeping God’s mercy in view?  Make a list and then in repentance, come before God and ask for him to change your view, to see His mercy. 

Second, we know that God’s mercy is always before us, but how can you offer a bodily dedication that brings the mercy of God in view for your neighbor? 

And lastly, I’d like you try the following.  As you go about your week, ask yourself the following question before you respond to a text or email, before you have a meeting with your boss or sit your kids down for a chat, “Is God’s mercy in view?”  It just might change how you respond. 

A few things to ponder and to deal with this week.

- Pastor Seth Moorman



Worship Resources for Sunday, August 30th will be up on

Bethany’s website by midday Saturday, August 29th!


The One Year Bible- August 24th

There was a time in my life when I was out of the house by 5:45 every morning. My wife and I would go to Starbuck’s and engage in some good conversation with other teacher friends of ours. Often times the topics of discussion revolved around school; what was going wrong, what was troubling us, etc. This conversation was very cathartic. It helped us gain some perspective on our jobs and our lives. I wonder if that was what it was like for Job and his friends. I think that conversation can be so beneficial to help think out problems. I worry at times that we are losing the art of communication because of technology. That is one reason I like blogs. They create conversation and allow for feedback between people. I hope this study helps you to work out any problems you are having in your reading. If not, then lets talk. Feel free to leave a comment or give me a call. On to the study for today...


Seth’s Thoughts


The Old Testament
There are so many different interpretations of the book of Job that it can be rough trying to figure out what this book is all about. I could give you my two cents from my studies but I came across the following passage in a commentary on the book of Job and I want to share it with you all toady.


Rudolph E. Honsey, in his commentary on the book of Job says the following:


In order to understand and profit from a study of Job, we must come to grips with the question: “What is the theme?” Many suggestions have been given. A common one is “Patience in Suffering.” A more specific theme is “Why Does a Righteous God Permit a Good Man to Suffer So Intensely?” One can also see a three part theme (1) God is worthy of love even apart from the blessings He bestows; (2) God may permit suffering as a means of purifying and strengthening the soul in godliness; (3) God’s thoughts and ways are moved by considerations too vast for the puny mind of man to comprehend.


All of those themes are prominently set forth in the book of Job. Job surely suffered severely, and the troubles he experienced must have taxed his patience to the limit. But we must not overlook the important conversation between God and Satan in the two opening chapters of the book. When God commended Job and referred to him as a God-fearing man, Satan challenged him and asked permission to test him to the limit with severe afflictions. God consented to allow Satan to afflict Job, but added the condition that he must spare his life. God was confident that Job would not loose his faith in him even though he would be severely tried. Job’s faith in God might frequently falter and waver, but in the end it would stand up even against the strongest assaults of Satan.


We must not forget that in the opening verse Job is described as a man who was “blameless and upright” and who “feared God and shunned evil.” In his great suffering and pain Job said things he should not have said and would not have said under other circumstances. He spiritual condition had its ups and downs. But in the end Job humbled himself before God and submitted to his will. He was truly a man of faith and God later blessed him more richly than he had earlier blessed him.


Although Job’s message was originally proclaimed centuries ago, it is a message that continues to fit the conditions of mankind. We can benefit from reading and rereading this book.


Ever since our first parents fell into sin in the Garden of Eden, sin has been very much a part of our experiences. Sin has brought with it many consequences: misunderstandings, troubles, grief, pain, sickness, and death. All of us as sinners are inclined to be judgmental and to point a finger at other as did the three friends of Job. Like them we may be tempted to draw the conclusion that great suffering is a direct consequence of some special sin, which is not necessarily the case. All of us are tempted to make ourselves look better by making others look worse. While it is often true that a person who commits a certain sin may have to suffer the consequences (for example, a drunken driver who has an accident and maims or kills himself), it is also true that God uses troubles and afflictions to test and strengthen the faith of a Christian. That was pointed out by the young man Elihu, who spoke after Job’s three other fiends had stopped speaking.


For Christians today as well as for Old Testament believers the afflictions that God permits us to endure are not punishment but wholesome chastisement, a disciplining exercise to strengthen our faith.

There is more to the book of Job than the story of a good man who suffered many things and engaged in a prolonged dialog with three friends who actually did more harm than good in their attempts to comfort him. This book also has a Messianic content in a number of passages that point to the coming Savior, Jesus Christ. The most notable of these is the great “Redeemer” passage (19:23-27). [See also 17:21]

The book of Job, as does all the Old Testament, points forward to Jesus Christ, who not only frequently quoted from the Old Testament but also stated that those Scriptures testified of him (see John 5:39). Apart from God’s love for us in Jesus Christ we will be unable to grasp the real message of this book. The real contents of the book of Job is the mystery of the Cross: the Cross on Golgotha is the solution of the enigma of every cross; and the book of Job is a prophecy of this final solution.


It is our hope and prayer that God the Holy Spirit will work in our hearts as we read this precious book, a book that is not read as thoroughly or as frequently as it deserves to be read. The apostle Paul’s words about the Old Testament are true also of the book of Job: “Everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope” (Romans 15:4).


From: The Peoples Commentary Bible: Job, Rudolph E. Honsey, Concordia Publishing House, p.p.6-9.


What a great way to end our look at Job this week.


The New Testament
I will try to keep this section short since we are heading to a long post already. In our readings this week Paul continued talking about the resurrection of the dead and his words provide confidence that not only has Jesus been raised from the dead, we too will conquer death because of Jesus. Paul quotes from the prophet Hosea when he writes, "Death is swallowed up in victory."  "O death, where is your victory?  O death, where is your sting?" (1 Cor. 15:54b-55 ESV) What a great gospel message for us. We tend to read this passage at Easter, but its effects are for every day of the year. Thanks be to God!! Just a few other things; I like the encouragement we read from Paul in chapter 16. It reminds me of what was said by Moses to Joshua in the Old Testament, “Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men,  be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.” ( 1 Cor. 16:13-14 ESV). Thanks for the great words Paul. Verse 21 of that same chapter is pretty cool. It was the custom in Paul’s day to have a professional scribe write your important and official letters. Paul does the same thing but in 16:21 Paul takes the pen and gives a greeting in his own handwriting. I would love to have seen it. This is a very personal touch and shows the love Paul has for this Church. I also found it quite interesting that we read at the beginning of  2 Corinthians about comfort in our troubles. It would have been nice to share this with Job, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God”. (2 Cor. 1:3-4 ESV). Paul spends some time talking about the “Old Covenant”. This is not a simple reference to the Old Testament. It is more about the newness that is in Christ. Many Jewish believers had a difficult time letting go of the Law. To them it was what saves. Paul tells them that even though the Law is good, the new covenant in Christ is much better. I once again thought of Job in the reading for today. Paul’s words give me hope, “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.” (2 Cor. 4:8-10 ESV). WOW!!!! That is some AWESOME stuff. AMEN!!!!!


Bits and Pieces

The Old Testament
We will finish up Job this week and then head on into Ecclesiastes. Here are the vital stats for the book:


PURPOSE: Life without God (i.e., “under the sun”) is empty; the only rescue from such emptiness comes from God as He brings us to fear, love, and trust in Him and His word.

AUTHOR: Solomon

TO WHOM WRITTEN: Solomon’s subjects in particular, and all people in general

DATE WRITTEN: Probably around 935 B.C., late in Solomon’s life

LAW THEMES: For natural man, life and success have no real significance; foolishness hastens destruction; life is dissatisfying.

GOSPEL THEMES: Favoring us on account of  Christ, the Creator graciously provides for us in every season and time; by bringing us to fear, love, and trust in Him, He gives us true wisdom.

SETTING: Solomon was looking back on his life, much of which was lived apart from God

KEY VERSE: “Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man” (12:13 NIV).

Monday, August 17, 2020

The Bethany Bullet Sermon Message - Week of August 16, 2020




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Today’s Bethany Bullet sermon message is

from our ONLINE Sunday Worship with Pastor Kyle Blake.


TEXT: Romans 11


Over the past few weeks, we have been journeying through the book of Romans as a church. Paul begins his letter to Romans with a powerful statement in verses 16-17 of chapter one, "I’m not ashamed of the Good News. It is God’s power to save everyone who believes, Jews first and Greeks as well. God’s approval is revealed in this Good News. This approval begins and ends with faith as Scripture says, 'The person who has God’s approval will live because of faith.’


Paul then spends the rest of his letter fleshing out these two verses by writing about why we need this Good News, what the Good News is exactly, how do we live in light of this Good News, and who the Good News is for. He does this by pointing all people to repentance (Rom 1-2), that they all need to acknowledge their sins (Rom 3:1-20), he points to faith in Christ (Rom 3:21-5:21), and then discusses obedience to God (Rom 6-8).


Then we come to chapters 9-11 where he speaks of the mystery of God’s eternal election, who is included in all of this. This morning, we are looking at chapter 11, Paul has already discussed, in chapters 9-10, that this message of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ is for all people and it comes through hearing the message of, though you are a sinner, and separated from God because of your sin, God has recused you through faith in Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. Yet, though this message is for all people, it would seem that Paul is trying to unify a church divided. There is a huge cultural riff between the Jew and Gentile Christians. The Jews are claiming superiority due to the fact that they are “God’s chosen people,” but the Gentile Christians seem to think that the Jews don’t matter any longer because God has made a way for all people through Christ. I am so glad that we don’t still have cultural divisions in the church today. I mean, we can agree that worship in a contemporary style is the only way to truly worship Jesus, right? Okay, maybe we do still struggle with cultural divisions in the church today.


The problem is in many of these cultural disagreements we start the discussion in the wrong place. We center the discussion on us: our preferences, what we believe about ourselves, the culture that we have grown up with, or things we are familiar with. As a result, we can easily slip in the thought of “I’m better than you,” or “Your opinion or voice does not matter.” We should be having our discussion centering on who God is and what He has done, and then we can talk about who we are in light of this truth and how we live our life as a result.


So today, I want to invite you to dive into Chapter 11 of Romans with me using the four questions that are in your bulletin…

1.      Who is God? What does the text say about the character and nature of God?  

2.      What has He done? What does the text say about the work of God?  

3.      Who are we in light of that truth? What does the text say about our identity?  

4.      How do we live in the light of that truth? How does this change the way we live?


These are the four questions that we base most of the Sunday morning discussions that we have downtown at The Gathering during our service. They are also the same four questions I want to invite you to wrestle with at home as we go through this chapter together.


First, as you read through this chapter realize that the Word of God is about God and what He is telling us about Himself. Too often, when we read scripture, we ask, “What does this say about us?” Rather, we should be asking, “What does this reveal about God?” So, flip back to the text and read it with that question in mind. You may even want to grab a Bible and turn to chapter 11.


Before we go through the questions together, pause and read through the whole chapter.


Now, as you look at the text, what does this text reveal about the character and nature of God?

I would invite you to pause and discuss your answers with the people you are with right now. If you are alone, maybe grab a piece of paper and write down your answers.


As I look through the whole chapter, I can see that God values everyone, both Jew and Gentile, and wants all people to be saved. I see that He is kind, loving us in spite of the things we do, as He points out in verse six. I see that God can be severe and that He will punish disbelief and sin, but I also see that God is merciful to all people. Finally, I see that He deserves all glory because everything is from Him, by Him, and for Him; and that His riches, wisdom, and knowledge is impossible for us to fully grasp.


What do you see in the text when it comes to the character and nature of God? What does the text say about the work of God? Again, I would invite you to pause and discuss your answers with the people you are with right now. If you are alone, maybe grab a piece of paper and write down your answers.


As I look at the chapter, I see God has redeemed all people, not only the Jew, and He has called Paul to proclaim that fact, just as He calls us to the do same. I also see how God wants the Israelites to know that He does still love them. Do you remember the story of the Prodigal Son? Do you remember the older brother and his reaction to the party his dad threw for the younger brother? He wasn’t happy about it. Yet, the father kept reminding him that he was loved. This is what I see God doing here in this chapter, reminding the Jews that they are still loved even though the Gentiles, through faith, are now part of the Kingdom.


What do you see in that the text says about the work of God? Now, in light of who God is and the work He does, what does the text reveal about us? Again, I would invite you to pause and discuss your answers with the people you are with right now. If you are alone, maybe grab a piece of paper and write down your answers.


Welcome back. How did you answer that question? For me, I know that I’m no better or worse than the person next to me. Like the Jews, God has saved me because of His kindness and not because of anything that I’ve done. I can’t brag about the fact that Christ saved me because all the glory of that belongs to Christ. We have been adopted into the family of God through faith in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus; and, as Paul points out throughout Romans, we are saved through faith alone. We bring nothing to the table, but God gives us, and all people, everything through Christ Alone.


Finally, what does the text say about how we live in light of this truth? Again, I would invite you to pause and discuss your answers with the people you are with right now. If you are alone, maybe grab a piece of paper and write down your answers.


Welcome back, you know, the Jews didn’t think that the Gentiles were deserving of God’s mercy and grace because they were not Jews. However, as the text points out, the Jews weren’t really deserving of God’s mercy or grace either. It was only through the kindness of God. Reading this text, I can’t help but to ask myself…

  • What would it be like to show my family member, friend, neighbor, or the random person I run into on the street the same kindness that I’ve been shown?
  • What would it look like in my life to help people, that might have a background or cultural affiliation that I don’t agree with or like, to hear and experience the Good News of the Gospel that is for all people?
  • What would change in my life, our community, or even our church if we approached discussions from what does God say about this rather than what do I think based on my experience?


Look, the Good News is that God loves us and has shown us His kindness despite our thoughts, words, and deeds. When we get like the Jews and think that we are better than others, God will humble us, but He will also remind us of His forgiveness, grace, and mercy. When we want to act like the Gentiles and think that the other person is old and obsolete, or they don’t matter anymore, He will reveal to us the value of the other and how His mercy is for all people. When we make it about us, thinking we are center of the universe rather than God, He will remind us that we are not in control and that everything is from Him, by Him, and for Him.


Thank you, Lord, that you have had mercy on us and have given us kindness and grace that we do not deserve by sending your Son, Jesus Christ, to live the life we could not, die the death we deserve, and be raised from the dead. Help us to live our lives in response to the Gospel for your glory and honor. Amen.

- Pastor Kyle Blake


Worship Resources for Sunday, August 23rd will be up on Bethany’s website by midday Saturday, August 22nd!


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