August - Reading 12

Discussion in 'Bible Reading Plan 2016' started by Clint Kritzer, Aug 12, 2002.

  1. Clint Kritzer

    Clint Kritzer
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  2. Aaron

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    I'm sure when the apostles asked Christ to increase their faith, they were not expecting the response they got:

    Luke 17:10, "So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, 'We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.'"

    You won't find this verse on any labor union posters!

    So often we work not to fulfill our duty, but to receive the praise of men. We expect to be recognized for our work, but Christ lays that expectation in the dust.

    The One we are to strive to please is God alone. Those who seek the praise of men do not believe. "How can ye believe, which receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour that cometh from God only?" John 5:44.

    But Christ has already told us that honor from God cannot be earned. Even if we were able to do all that is commanded of us, we are unprofitable and who rewards an unprofitable servant?

    The honor from God also comes only by grace through faith.

    If indeed the apostles' faith was to be increased, what other response could Christ give them?

    What other response could He give us?
     
  3. Clint Kritzer

    Clint Kritzer
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    Good evening -

    Tonight in Nehemiah, we see that the opposition to the rebuilding of the wall of Jerusalem has turned from taunts and jeers and threats of violence against the workers to plots of assasination against Nehemiah himself. His opponents are quite persistent in their luring of Nehemiah but he meets their treachery word for word. This is a great lesson in steadfastness.
    By the end of it all we witness the completion of the wall (minus the gates) in a mere 52 days. There is little doubt that the hard, firm stand taken by Nehemiah bolstered the morale of the workers and made this great feat possible.

    The passage in Luke today is another lesson in a Christian's humility to God. The passage echoes other lessons, parables and simile's found in Matthew 17:20, 18:6, Mark 11:23, 18:21-22, but Luke does well in tying it all together in verse 17:10. This is the core of being a Christian. We are God's servants and we do not do this for God's gratitude; we do this because it is our duty.

    What really struck me in our reading of 2Timothy today was verse 1:15. All that we know about Phygelus and Hermogenes is found in this single sentence. These may have been great men of God or terrible witnesses for the cause of the implementation of the Great Commission. However, this is all that remains of them, the knowledge that they abandoned Paul while he was in chains. To me this shows how important it is to always do the right thing for our brother. Wer do not know what legacy we may leave.

    May God bless you

    - Clint
     
  4. Clint Kritzer

    Clint Kritzer
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    Sunday School lecture - 1/18/04 Part II

    Proverbs 11:12-13

    In these verses we see instructions on avoiding gossip and slander. The thought could be summed up, "keep your opinions to yourself!" The New Testament abounds with instructions about not judging our neighbor. While it is probably impossible to avoid forming opinions about our fellow man, the God-fearing Christian must not be rash, hasty nor unmerciful in his evaluations. Christ does not condemn judgment by a magistrate and Paul tells us to judge within the church, however, these judgments are judicial and not private. Matthew 7:1-5

    [ August 14, 2004, 11:33 AM: Message edited by: Clint Kritzer ]
     
  5. Clint Kritzer

    Clint Kritzer
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    Sunday School lecture - 4/18/04 part II

    2Timothy 1:6-14 Paul's Confidence in God an Example to Timothy (continued)

    (Read 8-12) Paul's situation and the problems that had occurred within the Roman world for Christianity had the potential of causing fear in Timothy. The conveying of the Spirit affirmed by the laying on of hands should cause a Christian to be bold. The Christian spirit is not one of timidity, but is instead one of power, love and self-control. The concept of power being associated with the Holy Spirit is often spoken of in the Old Testament and is very prevalent in the New Testament (cf. Luke 4:14). 1Corinthians 13 shows us that love was considered by Paul the chief Spiritual gift for Christians. Self-control (KJV - sound mind), unique in the New Testament to this verse, carries the connotation of strength in the face of prosecution. We can assume that this strength was soon needed as Timothy was arrested soon after this writing as attested in Hebrews 13:23.

    More subtle and more immediate than fear was the potential threat of shame. Paul encouraged Timothy not be ashamed of either the "testimony of our Lord" nor of Paul himself as he sat in prison. The phrase of the "testimony of our Lord" can also be rendered as "our Lord's testimony, i.e. before Pilate, and some translators have opted for this interpretation. Such is certainly viable, however, the rendering of the testimony being of Timothy about Jesus seems most natural to the context. As in his greeting in Philemon and Ephesians, Paul makes it clear that he is not Caesar's prisoner, but that he was the prisoner of Christ. We learn in chapter 4 that others had abandoned Paul and we can safely assume that fear and shame were a motivating factor. However, Timothy is told to follow Paul's example and take his share of suffering in power for the Gospel's sake. We must never forget that the call to Christ is a call to suffering and Paul will repeat this exhortation more than once in this Epistle (Luke 16:24, 1Peter 2:21).

    The mention of the Gospel evokes from Paul a hymn fragment that some ascribe to Paul himself due to its relevance to the topic, the lack of an introductory formula (i.e. "it is a trustworthy saying…") and its vocabulary. The hymn gives us a bare bones summary of the Gospel.

    The first stanza is a praise to God for His redemptive work through the Jesus Christ. While most often in Pauline thought the word "save" has to do with the Second Coming and Judgment, Paul here connects it with our calling to Christian service. He can speak of salvation with such surety that being saved is a present tense verb when we first respond to the Spirit's call. "Calling" is a pivotal Pauline term and refers to the reconciliation between God and man. One can not be a Christian and have "sincere faith" without the Call of God. As the call is of God it is described as "holy."

    Intricately important to our understanding of the purpose of our calling is that it was not done as a result of our own works. It is a result of "Grace". We, as naturally prideful creatures, must always remember that Grace is the unmerited favor of God and is done for His own purpose.

    The second stanza of the hymn is a praise to Christ through whom God imparts His Grace. We learn that God's purpose accomplished through Christ was established "ages ago." Before creation God had established this plan for mankind and it was brought to fruition through "the appearing of our Savior, Jesus Christ. The word "appearing in this context refers to Christ's physical incarnation but elsewhere may also refer to the Second Coming. As in 1Timothy, the use of the term Savior stands in stark contrast to the false doctrines of emperor worship in which Nero declared himself savior of the world.

    The third stanza of the hymn speaks of Christ's work on our behalf. He "abolished death" and "brought life and immortality to light." Death holds no power over those who are called and as a result, for the Christian, there is a new life. Immortality, which is imparted by God, is a continuation of that new life extending far beyond this world. This revelation comes to us "through the Gospel." Once again, the term "Gospel" in Pauline thought refers to the life, teachings, death, Resurrection, and Ascension of Jesus Christ.

    This Gospel Message and his sharing in the suffering of Christ explains Paul's predicament. It was for the Purpose of God that Paul was in prison and why he was called to be a teacher, an Apostle, and a preacher. This explanation accords well with the teachings of Jesus as He spoke in Matthew 5:11-12.

    Persecution and imprisonment, however, could not deter Paul from his mission. It was a Holy Calling that Paul accepted and as a result God had sustained, guarded him in the past, in the present and would continue to do so "until that Day." Paul's calling was a commission. He had been entrusted with the sacred Message of the Gospel and of that commission and that trust he would not ever be ashamed.

    (13-14) Paul now entreats Timothy to "Follow the pattern (KJV - form) of sound words which you have heard from me." Paul undoubtedly has in mind the whole Christian tradition and base doctrine that he taught Timothy over the course of their relationship. Such adherence to sound words is rooted ultimately in "the faith and love which are in Christ." Paul has established not only his actions in the present circumstance as an example for Timothy, but also the whole of his Apostolic teaching.

    Paul continues and exhorts Timothy to "guard (KJV - keep) the deposit (KJV - good thing)" entrusted to him. This could refer to the gift of Grace given to him by God at his ordination but probably refers to the truth of the Gospel commited to him. Timothy will not need to carry the burden of guarding this trust alone as the ultimate guardian of the Gospel is the "Holy Spirit who dwells in us." The plural "us" could be applied personally to Timothy and Paul, or to all Christians in general.

    2Timothy 1:15-18 The Betrayal of the Asians, The Faithfulness of Onesiphorus

    The term "all in Asia" is certainly hyperbolic. Asia was the Roman province at the western end of Asia Minor of which Ephesus was the capitol. However, that Paul would say this shows that there must have been an abandonment of him by many in Asia. This may have been a result of his second capture by the Romans. Certainly the human inclination of self-preservation would have caused many to respond with fear and shame of Paul, not wishing to be dragged to the same fate by the Romans. The term "turn away" in verse 15 in this instance does not necessarily refer to apostacy as it does in other places in the New Testament. but rather personal abandonment. Paul singles out two individuals among these traitors by name: Phygelus and Hermogenes.

    Though they were obviously known by Timothy, we know nothing more of them than their mention in this Passage. It has been conjectured that they were leaders in the Asian churches that led many others in the abandonment of Paul. In any case, the singling out of these two men shows Paul's bitter disappointment.

    On the other hand, Paul praises Onesiphorus as an example of faithfulness. His household is mentioned in 4:19 and the lack of personal reference has suggested to many scholars that he had died by the time of this writing, perhaps even as a result of the aid he gave Paul.

    That aid came in the form of "often refreshing" Paul despite his circumstance. The reference to "chains" once again reminds the reader of Paul's plight. Aiding the great Christian missionary and Apostle may well have placed Onesiphorus in danger, yet despite this he actively searched for Paul when he arrived in Rome. This report should come as no surprise to Timothy as the young church planter was aware of his character from "all the services he rendered at Ephesus."

    Some have interpreted the phrase in verse 18, "may the Lord grant him to find mercy from the Lord on that day," as a prayer. Taking the assumption that Onesiphorus was dead at the time of the writing, this would be a unique Passage in the New Testament of Paul praying for the dead. The doctrine of praying for the dead, however, is rejected by most Protestant thought as a doctrine made by man and therefore necessitates that we interpret the phrase as an expression of a wish or natural feeling rather than an actual petition. Hebrews 9:27

    For more on Onesiphorus, please see: http://www.blueletterbible.org/faq/nbi/125.html

    [ August 13, 2004, 09:44 AM: Message edited by: Clint Kritzer ]
     
  6. Clint Kritzer

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    Sunday School lesson – 1/2/05

    Luke 17

    As we enter chapter 17 we are immediately alerted that the teachings of this chapter are addressed to the disciples, ergo by extension, the modern believer and the church. The lessons taught consist of the character of a disciple and the coming of the Kingdom. Sandwiched between these two sections is a story unique to Luke about Jesus healing ten lepers.

    Luke 17:1-4 Responsibility to Others

    The “temptation to sin (KJV – offences)” in the original Greek is the word skandala which was literally the bait stick of a trap. In the New Testament it usually refers to the lure which causes a person to fall into sin. It is inevitable that we will offend each other: a careless remark, a flippant comment, a thoughtless act – these are basic parts of human life and occur towards and by all of us. Nonetheless, this does not lessen the seriousness of these offenses nor the responsibility of the offender.

    The person who offends is better off if he had died first. The “millstone” is the type that was powered by mules walking in a circle so to have one tied about one’s neck would cause a rapid plummet to the bottom of a lake. The “little ones” are not necessarily only children (though they are certainly included) but any of the lesser members of the community that are vulnerable to the actions of their brother. In other words, an offense towards even one who is not considered important by social standards is as serious as a grievance towards even a leader.

    The disciple is responsible for any action that may threaten the fellowship of the believers. This is true whether he is the one who committed the offense or the one who received it. According to the teachings of Jesus, we are not permitted to say, “He is the one who hurt me, therefore he must apologize. Instead we are told that we are to “rebuke” the offending brother. This rebuke is not arrogant accusations or demands for an apology, but rather to expose the brother to the seriousness of the problem. If his attitude is right, he will seek to restore fellowship as well.

    The question is then, how often do I forgive an offending brother. The answer is, according to verse 4 is if he offends seven times in a day, forgive him seven times. There is no limit to a Christian’s forgiveness. The attitude of humility in a believer manifests itself in his constant desire to bestow and obtain forgiveness. Forgiveness must be granted as often as it is requested. Matthew 18:21-22

    Luke 17:5-6 The Need for Faith

    In response to the extreme demands towards forgiveness in the first four verses, the disciples ask Christ for an increase in faith. Indeed, to follow such instructions one must transcend human nature and only faith could give one the power to do so. Jesus’ reply, however, shows that when it comes to faith, it is not a matter of quantity, but quality. The mustard seed is proverbially small yet should a disciple have the smallest amount of faith he can perform great deeds. When the man of faith speaks, the power of God is shown. The Christian should not delude himself, however, into thinking that faith is a vehicle through which we work magic nor a means by which we can make God act by backing Him into a corner. Instead, it simply means that the person who has even the smallest amount of real faith becomes the instrument of God’s unlimited power.

    Luke 17:7-10 Unconditional Service

    There is nothing in the New Testament to indicate that any of the Disciples were slave owners but slavery was a social norm of that society. We should not interpret these verses as justifying slavery anymore that the Parable of the shrewd steward commends underhandedness. Jesus is here giving a set of circumstances that would be a familiar scenario to His audience.

    The main character of this illustration owns one slave. The slave, therefore, must pull double duty by being both a field hand and a house servant. One can easily imagine how tired he would be after plowing all day but his duties do not end when he comes in to the house. He must also prepare a meal for his owner. Even after all this work after all these hours, the slave would not expect any expression of gratitude. It is a slaves lot in life to do what he is told.

    In verse 10 we find the application of the teaching. When God commands, we, His slaves, obey. Doing what is expected of us does not bring us any special distinction. God’s faithful servant does not boast of his accomplishments but simply reminds himself that he has merely fulfilled his duty. Jesus Himself thought of Himself as a Servant seeking only to do the Will of the Father. The issue here is not God’s attitude towards our deeds, nor is it our attitude towards other’s deeds. The issue is our attitude towards our own deeds. Part of our faith is an obedience to God and a recognition that what we receive from Him is Grace – unmerited favor. It is not payment for works done. We can not put God into our debt nor can we expect to be His favorite child based on our works.
     
  7. Clint Kritzer

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