Before I Formed You, I Knew You (Jeremiah)

Before I Formed You, I Knew You (Jeremiah)

August 2, 2020 Jeremiah was a PK, a priest’s kid. He grew up watching his father Hilkiah perform all the priestly duties at Anathoth in the territory of Benjamin.    As the son of a priest, Jeremiah was used to seeing people bring their sacrificial offerings out of a sense of duty and obligation only to return home with no apparent change in their hearts or lifestyle.   Because he was born into a priestly family, he was expected to become a priest. What Jeremiah did not expect was for God to call him to be a prophet, a much different role.  Jeremiah left the Benjamin territory and directed his message to those in Jerusalem, Judah, and the surrounding areas.   Typically, what Jeremiah had to say as a prophet wasn’t well received. Such is the life of a prophet. For Jeremiah, his words would eventually result in his exile and his death. Jeremiah’s call is unique and select: “The word of the Lord came to (Jeremiah) saying, ‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” (1:5) Jeremiah understood that God had a purpose for his life even before he was conceived. He believed he had a calling from God to fulfill.   Much like the Apostle Paul 700 years later, Jeremiah believed that his life was not his own and that he must be obedient to God’s calling, even though he felt inadequate for the task. God assured him that he would give him the words to say. Jeremiah said that God...
The Coming of the Suffering Servant

The Coming of the Suffering Servant

Isaiah 40-66 July 26, 2020 The Coming of the Suffering Servant Last week I introduced you to the prophet Isaiah in our journey through the Bible. Even though Isaiah is only one book in our Protestant Bible, scholars divide Isaiah up into two sections: 1 Isaiah, chapters 1-39 and 2 Isaiah, chapters 40-66. An easy way to remember that is that there are 39 books in the Old Testament and 27 in the New Testament. That’s how the book breaks apart. Today we look at 2 Isaiah, chapters 40-66. As a review, Isaiah was a prophet that lived during the reigns of Kings Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah. All of these were kings of Judah, the Southern Kingdom of Israel, where the capital of Jerusalem was located. During the reign of Solomon’s son Rehoboam in 922 B.C., Israel split into two separate groups. Only the tribes of Benjamin and Judah stayed together to form the Southern Kingdom. The other ten tribes of Israel rebelled under Jeroboam’s leadership and became the Northern Kingdom of Israel. During the time that Isaiah was prophesying to the Southern Kingdom of Judah, the Assyrians destroyed the Northern Kingdom. They carried the best and brightest of their people away into exile. The people lost their culture and their identity. So, the Northern Kingdom’s exile serves as a backdrop and a wake-up call for Judah, which Isaiah used to his advantage. It was like, “O.K., you see what happens when you continue to refuse to follow God and obey His laws.” He told the people of Judah that something similar would happen to them if they...
Reasoning With God

Reasoning With God

Reasoning With God July 19, 2020 First Isaiah Chapters 1-39 As Christians, we read the Old Testament in light of the New Testament and the New Testament in light of the Old. To fully appreciate the coming of Jesus Christ as the Messiah, as God’s gift to humanity to save us from our sins, we need to know the story of God’s journey with us from the beginning. We need to see how that journey culminated with the announcement made by the angel Gabriel with Mary, that she was going to give birth to the Savior of the world. As we read the words of Isaiah, keep in mind that they are quoted by Jesus more than any other Old Testament writer. Clearly, Jesus saw Isaiah’s words as having a significant place in his ministry and some of them as being written about his life. We are faced with the same challenge, to read the words of Isaiah and understand what they meant when they were written and how they were interpreted during the days of Jesus. We also want to know, “What do these words mean for our current journey?” One of the beautiful things about scripture is that it is not time-bound. To use terminology from Hebrews 4:12, it is “alive and active.” That means that what was written thousands of years ago can have fresh meaning and application for us in our time and place. We have situations, problems, and scenarios that did not exist in the 6th century B.C. However, God’s ancient word can give direction to our modern-day situations. Because scripture is living and...
Grace in the Exile

Grace in the Exile

July 12, 2020 I and 2 Kings Grace in the Exile In our journey through the Bible,  we have come to the books of 1 and 2 Kings.  These books are one scroll in the Hebrew Bible.  While the scroll is divided as 1 and 2 Kings in our Bible, I’m only going to preach one sermon on these two books. Americans don’t have much experience with kings.  But thanks to our Mother Country, England, we have some understanding of the monarchy. While we may look upon the Royal family in England with favor now, we still have a bad taste in our mouths from the beginning of our country’s history. Those that came to this land in search of freedom saw the monarchy as the rule of law that reached too far and sought too much of their freedom. The monarchy had left a boot imprint upon their chests.  Once those pilgrims tasted freedom, they were prepared to fight to keep it. That’s what they did when the Redcoats arrived from England and tried to force King George III’s will upon the settlers.  Eventually, the American Revolution was born, and freedom was won. When the nation of Israel was born through God’s miraculous acts, Moses won the freedom of the people from an oppressive Pharaoh who had enslaved them for 400 years. After Joshua led them into the Promised land, the nation of Israel understood and acknowledged that God was their leader. Yahweh, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob was their God.  He was their King.  Israel was to follow no one else. However, other nations had kings. ...
King of Kings and Lord of Lords

King of Kings and Lord of Lords

2 Samuel  July 5, 2020 In the Hebrew Bible, Samuel is just one scroll. In our Bible, we have the books broken up into 1 and 2 Samuel. Before I teach on 2 Samuel today, let’s do a review of 1 Samuel.   The three main characters are Samuel, Saul, and David.   Samuel is the last of the judges and the first in a long line of prophets.   The leaders of the tribes of Israel went to Samuel and asked him to appoint a king like other nations because he was getting old, and his sons didn’t follow in his ways.   Samuel was disappointed to hear this request because God was Israel’s king. They didn’t need a leader like everyone else. But when Samuel prayed about this, God told him to give them a king. They were rejecting God and not Samuel.    Samuel warned them that if he appointed a king for them, they could expect the king to abuse them. He painted a gloomy picture, but they still asked for a king.  Samuel gave them what they asked for, a king like the other nations. His name was Saul. He was impressive in stature, handsome, and the people were pleased with his choice.  Saul remained king for 40 years, but the people suffered under his leadership. Sometimes you get what you ask for, and experience the consequences for choosing show over substance. That turned out to be the case with Saul. Saul looked the part, but he didn’t know how to lead. Saul turned out to be a failure. His arrogant leadership disappointed God, too. Eventually, God rejected...
Build Your House on the Rock

Build Your House on the Rock

June 28 Last year when we were tasked with finding a new children’s minister, our personnel committee did some interviews but could not find the right person for the job. Meanwhile, Alison Lambrechts and Brinna Gamblin were doing a great job and convinced us that they felt called to continue the work as a team. With their educational backgrounds and experience with children, they had ample qualifications, and they had life experience as parents. It’s been almost a year since they took over the job and what they are doing is remarkable.  They have just conducted the first-ever virtual Vacation Bible School at our church!  That wasn’t something anyone saw coming but they adapted and made it happen.  Because of their hard work over 100 children were able to learn about Jesus in their homes this week! I also want to thank Hugo Lambrechts and Stewart Gamblin for helping their spouses with some of the work. I also want to thank every parent that has taken the time to help your child with their crafts, Bible lessons, videos, and songs. Children, we thank you for taking the time this week to learn about Jesus. This year’s Vacation Bible School theme is Concrete and Cranes.  Obviously, t’s a builder’s theme. I think most people know that Jesus was a carpenter. We are told that in Mark’s gospel, chapter 6. The Greek word that is translated “carpenter” is the word “tekton.” A tekton is more like a construction worker, a builder, or a craftsman. (https://www.quora.com/What-kind-of-carpentry-tools-and-techniques-would-Jesus-have-access-to-would-they-be-similar-to-Japanese-tools-for-manual-woodworking) However, Jesus was not a carpenter in the way you might think. If you were to...