As I was reading through the Story this week, I was struck with how much Paul’s letters are similar in style to the emails that Chuck and I write to the church. For Paul, his letters served multiple functions. Eerdman’s Dictionary of the Bible says that “They served as a substitute for the presence of the apostle until his coming. They provided a means for exhortation and advice (1 Thess. 5:23; 1 Cor. 1:8; Phil. 2:15). They offered consolation (2 Cor. 1:3–7), provided a vehicle for responding to critics (esp. in Galatians and 2 Corinthians), and presented a means for relating the gospel to everyday concerns.”
In the places that Paul visited and the believers that he came into contact with, he longed to see them grow and understand the Messiah more. This is the reason Paul wrote his letters. Now I’m not saying that Chuck and I are like Paul. God had uniquely set apart Paul to be missionary to the Gentiles. But, Chuck and I feel about you just as strongly as Paul did for the believers that he met. God has uniquely called us and the other elders to serve you at Denali Bible Chapel. We genuinely care about you and long for you to understand God in such a deep way that it forever changes you. We are human and sometimes this desire gets lost or doesn’t come through clearly, but please know that daily we strive to sacrifice ourselves to our Risen Savior in order for us to serve you more fully and lead you to Him.
Saturday Pastor Ivan and I were discussing the volume of information in Chapter 28 of The Story. How were we going to cover it all, or how could we decide what was important. I haven't heard Pastor Ivan's message yet but I feel my shotgun approach overwhelmed most of the kids.
This week is another doozy...all of Paul's missionary trips summarized on 30 pages. Look at how much of the New Testament is covered:
Acts 13-14; 16-20
Romans 1; 3-6; 8; 12; 15
1 Corinthians 1; 3; 5-6; 10; 12-13; 15-16
Galatians 1; 3; 5-6
1 Thessalonians 1-5
Right now I only have a vague idea of a few things I think God wants me to cover. My challenge is to spend time with God daily and listen to what He has for me. I didn't do that so well last week. But last week taught me I can't get it all in. I need to discover some main topics and fill any extra time encouraging the kids to believe. There is no way I can summarize everything. It is all important...It's more than history...it's a lesson from God designed to show us how to live for Him, worship Him, grow closer to Him.
So what is your work? You can cover a lot more at home this week than I can do in 20-30 minutes. Go over the Parent Page with your kiddos. Read The Story with them. Fill in some of the holes I will need to leave Sunday.
One thing is very clear in this chapter though...it is not my work, it is not your work, it is not the kid's work that will get them to heaven. It is faith in Jesus Christ that His death on the cross and resurrection 3 days later takes care of everything that separates us from God. BELIEVE!!!!
Praise His Name!
I really enjoy the book of Acts. It is a book of action and that is an understatement. When we left off last week, Jesus had just been raised from the dead. In this chapter of The Story we read of His ascension, the giving of the promised Holy Spirit and the beginning of spreading the Good News of salvation to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the whole world. This chapter is exciting because even though the book of Acts is complete, the acts of the Church of Jesus, the Body of Christ, have never stopped! As followers of the Messiah, we are a direct part of the process of making disciples that began 2000 years ago. We too have been commissioned to share the Good News.
One of the things I like most in this chapter was watching the transformation of the followers of Jesus. Before His death, they bickered about who was the greatest in the Kingdom, fought over who would serve Him, and didn’t understand or accept what He said fully. After He returned to Heaven, the Holy Spirit came and opened their eyes to all things. They were transformed mightily, so much so that in Acts chapter 4, verse 13 we read that when Peter and John were arrested by the religious leaders, the leaders were astonished. This is what it says, “When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.”
“They took note that these men had been with Jesus.” Wow! Has my life been so transformed that when someone looks at me they would say the same thing? I don’t know, but that would be my greatest hope. What about you? Would those around you take note that your life has changed so amazingly that the only answer is that you have been with Jesus?
The title in the adult book is New Beginnings but we need to remember this is a continuation of the Story from the very beginning...when God started planning creation.
Jesus rose form the dead! We are told he gave his apostles many convincing proofs that he was alive. He was able to pass through locked doors or walls and enter the place they were gathered on 2 occasions. He taught them about the kingdom of God and he ate meals with them. And then, right before their eyes, he ascended into heaven.
Ten days after Jesus ascended into heaven, his disciples were galvanized when the Holy Spirit came on them. They were able to speak in the languages of the people visiting Jerusalem from many different countries. Peter, the disciple who denied knowing the Lord, boldly proclaimed God's words to the gathered people.
Three very important events take place in this chapter:
Please read Chapter 28 with your family. Help the little with their books and do some of the activities in the Parent Page.
For the past few weeks, I've been trying to think about what would be the most compelling reason for a hardened Roman centurion to believe that Jesus was the true Son of God. I think that God has allowed me to come to a good conclusion. I’ve thought about myself too, about what is the most compelling reason for me about to believe the truth of Jesus and His resurrection. And I can sum it up in three words, the disciples changed.
These followers scattered when Jesus was arrested. They locked themselves up in the Upper Room fearful that they would be arrested next. They were like sheep without a shepherd. But after the resurrection, that all changed. They went out of that room and boldly told anyone who was willing to listen about the promised Messiah Jesus that they were eyewitnesses of. They were willing to get hurt or even be killed because they knew what they believed. They were willing to move away from everything they had known and held dear because they knew the Truth. And God used their witness for explosive growth in the early Church.
If there was a body, there would be no faith. It’s as easy as that. But the authorities could never produce the body. And the religious leaders couldn’t produce the body. That’s because they were looking for the dead amongst the dead. Silly them. Jesus had said over and over again that He had to suffer and die, BUT that He would rise again. Still even Jesus followers didn’t get the hint, so the angels had to tell the ladies who came to the tomb that Sunday morning the truth. You don’t look for the living amongst the dead - Jesus is no longer in the grave because He is alive! That, my friends, is why the disciples were willing to risk it all. Not for a dead man, but for the Risen Savior, the Son of God!
It so very hard to discuss the impact of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, the Messiah and Son of God, the Creator of all that is. There is so much there. And it is such a personal thing too! Jesus did it for you, YOU! I hope you have time to consider what God did for you, what he did for your family.
One of the many things I find interesting is how the women are always there. Well, not wondering that they are, I wouldn't expect less, but that the men took note of it, now that is saying a lot. I also like to ponder the unbelief and then the shear joy as the disciples wrap their head around the fact that Jesus was DEAD but is now walking around, eating with them and teaching them.
Another excerpt from one of my books: Exploring the Story by Adam T. Barr...
Two important themes are emphasized in the stories of the Emmaus Road and Thomas' doubt. The first is that the Holy Spirit must open our eyes to accept and believe in Jesus Christ. In Romans 1:18 Paul declares that unbelievers "suppress the truth by their wickedness." In other words, their sin leads them to not believe what they know to be true. All the proofs in the world cannot save a person. The ultimate problem for each of us is not a lack of information, but that we are spiritually dead to God and need to be born anew through the work of the Holy Spirit.
Second, Jesus' words to Thomas--"blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed"--are not an endorsement for "blind" faith. Thomas' problem was his lack of faith in God's Word. Jesus himself had explained to Thomas and the other disciples his coming death and resurrection. Knowing what Jesus had foretold, the other disciples' testimonies to Thomas should have caused him to remember, trust, and believe in Jesus' and Scripture's promise of the Messiah's resurrection. Instead, he doubted until he could physically touch and see evidence of the resurrection. Jesus blesses those who accept the promise of God's Word and trust the testimony of his appointed witnesses.
I really hope you have time this week to talk with your family about the wonderful blessing of the resurrection. Without the resurrection we would have NO hope, notta. Death would be death, the end of everything. But because HE LIVES, we know sin and death was conquered. We know one day we will live forever with Jesus in paradise.
We will not have Youth for the Lord Sunday, nor will the teens meet so we can all worship this great event together. Don't forget the schedule will be different Sunday...9am communion, 9:30 pot luck breakfast, 11am worship service.
May God bless you mightily this week!
We take turns writing when God gives us an idea. The author will be noted.