SUMMER 2017 ROMANS 5-11
Romans 1-4 acquaint us with Paul’s tightly reasoned approach to the first eleven chapters of this epistle. Here we find the most comprehensive summary of the gospel in the Pauline letters. As we arrive at chapter 5, Paul has carefully argued that all “have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” and stand condemned by God without the justification that comes by faith in Christ Jesus.
This summer, we will listen to Paul depict the life of the justified; those who live under grace. This is a life of assured hope in God’s promises, equipped with power to live not as slaves of sin, but instruments of righteousness. Sin no longer has dominion over us. We are released from the implications of the OT Law and the law of sin and death. We are set free to live life in the Spirit.
The Christian life is then described as an escape from fear. For, we are adopted heirs of God with Christ, even as we will endure suffering like Christ. This adoption which leads to glorification is placed in light of God’s everlasting love and sovereign choice. Paul concludes his argument by relating God’s mercy upon the Gentiles to his sovereign plan to keep his covenant promises as they relate to the people of Israel.
As we study together, may Paul’s worship be ours, “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! To him be glory forever. Amen.”
July 23: Romans 5:1-11 “We boast in the hope of the glory of God.” (Stefan Matzal)
July 30: Romans 5:12-21 “The grace of that one man Jesus Christ” (Nathaniel Jackson)
Aug 6: Romans 6:1-14 “Consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God” (John Hartung)
Aug 13: Romans 6:15-7:6 “We serve not under the old written code” (Stefan Matzal)
Aug 20: Romans 7:7-25 “Wretched man that I am!” (Nathaniel Jackson)
Aug 27: Romans 8:1-17 “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons” (Mark Weldon)
Sept 3: Romans 8:18-30 “For in this hope we were saved” (Stefan Matzal)
Sept 10: Romans 8:31-39 “We are more than conquerors” (Nathaniel Jackson)
Sept 17: Romans 9:1-18 “The children of the promise are counted as offspring” (Stefan Matzal)
Sept 24: Romans 9:19-29 “But who are you, O man, to answer back to God?” (Nathaniel Jackson)
Oct 1: Romans 9:30-10:13 “A zeal for God, but not according to knowledge” (Stefan Matzal)
Oct 8: Romans 10:14-11:10 “God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew” (Nathaniel Jackson)
Oct 15: Romans 11:11-24 “Do not become proud, but stand in awe” (Stefan Matzal)
Oct 22: Romans 11:25-36 “How unsearchable are his judgments” (Nathaniel Jackson)
Oct 29: Reformation Sunday Pulpit Exchange (Mike Mazzye of Renovation Church, N. Syracuse)
SPRING 2017 GENESIS 1:1 – 11:26
Genesis 1-11 tells the story of the early spread of human sin. The account makes its way from the sin of Eden to the sin of Babel, that path littered with the sins of Cain, Lamech, the sons of God, the generation of Noah, and Ham. The flood could perhaps provide a fresh start, but afterward it is still the same: “the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth” (8:21). All this sin leaves destruction in its wake. The goodness of creation is undone. All relationships are severed (man & God, man & creation, man & man). The genealogy of chapter 5 highlights the repeated pattern of death. Whereas God had once breathed into man’s nostrils the breath of life (2:7), with the flood “everything on the dry land in whose nostrils was the breath of life died” (7:22).
At the same time, this sad story reverberates with a counter-theme. Sin, it turns out, is an aberration, not the norm. In the beginning, all creation obeys the voice of God and is declared to be very good. Once the aberration begins to rear its head, at every turn God’s grace rescues humanity from complete devastation. Adam and Eve are given clothing. Cain is given a protective mark. The genealogy of Cain gives way to the genealogy of Seth. At the height of wickedness, Noah finds grace in the eyes of the Lord. Judgment upon Canaan involves blessing upon Shem. The dispersing of the nations at the tower of Babel condemns human pride, but also accomplishes God’s original purpose – that humankind should multiply and exercise dominion over the earth.
This primeval history of the world reaches its climax at 11:26 with the appearance of the name Abram. This teaser points forward to the rest of the book. Astounding promises will be made to Abram, and from his line will come the One who will crush the head of the serpent (3:15)!
Apr. 23: Gen. 1:1-25 “In the beginning.” (Nathaniel Jackson)
Apr. 30: Gen. 1:26–2:3 “Let us make man in our image.” (Stefan Matzal)
May 7: Gen. 2:4–25 “It is not good that the man should be alone.” (Nathaniel Jackson)
May 14: Gen. 3 “Cursed are you.” (Stefan Matzal)
May 21: Gen. 4 “Am I my brother’s keeper?” (Nathaniel Jackson)
May 28: Gen. 5:1–6:8 “The wickedness of man was great.” (Stefan Matzal)
Jun. 4: Gen. 6:9–7:5 “Make yourself an ark.” (Mark Weldon)
Jun. 11: Gen. 7:6–24 “He blotted out every living thing.” (Stefan Matzal)
Jun. 18: Gen. 8:1-19 “But God remembered Noah.” (Nathaniel Jackson)
Jun. 25: Gen. 8:20–9:17 “I establish my covenant.” (John Hartung)
Jul. 2: Gen. 9:18–29 “Cursed be Canaan.” (Nathaniel Jackson)
Jul. 9: Gen. 10:1–11:26 “Let us confuse their language.” (Stefan Matzal)
The Eldership: April 2017
The Gospel of Luke, Chapters 1-6
Luke’s gospel is the product of a careful inquiry into all the facts about Jesus’ life and teachings. Luke, a physician and companion of Paul, wrote this account in the form of a letter to a man named Theophilus. It is intended to produce an informed confidence through an orderly account with careful attention to time, geography and history. It was probably written in the early 60’s A.D. and provides the background for a second letter to Theophilus describing the growth of the early church (Acts).
The gospel of Luke contains more information about Jesus’ birth than any other gospel. The genealogy of Jesus in chapter 3 reaches all the way back to Adam, suggesting that the announcement of “the year of the Lord’s favor” is good news of the kingdom of God for the poor, blind and captive of every nation. Truly, Jesus came to seek and save the lost.
Our Winter portion includes the first major teaching unit. It concludes with Jesus’ illustration of the man who builds his house upon a foundation of rock. May we do so, by weekly coming to Jesus, hearing his words and living according to them.
Dec.4 Luke 1:1-25 “That you may have certainty” (Nathaniel)
Dec.11 Luke 1:26-56 “You shall call his name Jesus” (Stefan)
Dec.18 Luke 1:57-80 “He shall be called John” (Nathaniel)
Dec.25 Luke 2:1-21 “Glory to God in the highest” (Nathaniel)
Jan.1 Luke 2:22-40 “My eyes have seen your salvation” (Stefan)
Jan.8 Luke 2:41-52 “All who heard him were amazed” (Stefan)
Jan.15 Topical Sanctity of Human Life Sunday (Nathaniel)
Jan.22 Luke 3:1-20 “The voice of one calling” (Stefan)
Jan.29 Luke 3:21-38 “You are my beloved Son” (Nathaniel)
Feb.5 Luke 4:1-13 “It is written” (Stefan)
Feb.12 Luke 4:14-30 “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled” (Nathaniel)
Feb.19 Luke 4:31-44 “I was sent for this purpose” (John)
Feb.26 Luke 5:1-11 “From now on you will be catching men” (Mark)
Mar.5 Luke 5:12-26 “The Son of Man has authority” (Stefan)
Mar.12 Luke 5:27-39 “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners” (Nathaniel)
Mar.19 Luke 6:1-11 “The Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath” (Stefan)
Mar.26 Luke 6:12-26 “He lifted up his eyes on his disciples” (Nathaniel)
Apr.2 Luke 6:27-38 “But I say to you who hear” (Stefan)
Apr.9 Luke 6:39-49 “the foundation on the rock” (Nathaniel)
Apr.16 Topical EASTER SUNDAY (Stefan)
The Eldership—December 2016
FALL 2016 ISAIAH 40 – 48
Over the past three autumns, our Sunday morning sermons took us through Isaiah 1-39. Those chapters were planted, historically speaking, within the period of Assyrian expansion into Palestine. The southern kingdom, Judah, was preserved from the Assyrian onslaught, but, in chapter 39, Isaiah foretold that a future generation would be carried away into exile by the next rising empire – the Babylonians. At chapter 40, then, we readers of Isaiah find ourselves in a new historical situation. Isaiah 40-48 addresses the situation after Judah has been exiled to Babylon. Isaiah the prophet, directed by Yahweh, the Lord of History, pens in advance messages of comfort and instruction to the Jewish exiles in Babylon.
Above all else, what these exiles need to know is the nature of their God. In the context of the idolatrous Babylonian culture, Isaiah proclaims the glory of the one true God. In the context of Israel’s past sins, Isaiah assures the Jews that Yahweh is rich in forgiveness and compassion. Isaiah promises the Jews that the almighty God will deliver them from Babylonian exile. The Controller of history can even identify by name the future military leader he will use to defeat the Babylonians – Cyrus (44:28; 45:1). This is a reference to the Persian emperor who will restore the Jews to their homeland. Israel’s proper response to their God is patience and courage – the refrain, “do not fear,” punctuates these chapters.
Though situated in a specific historical context, Yahweh’s deliverance of the exiles will turn out to be one instance of a larger pattern. This is why the return from exile represents a greater ingathering of God’s people, a gathering from the ends of the earth (43:6). For the same reason, God’s intervention to rescue the exiles provides an opportunity for the prophet to revel in a greater intervention, the sending of the Messiah, God’s chosen servant (42:1-9). Matthew will famously quote this passage as a reference to the earthly ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ, who by the Spirit showed compassion to the “bruised reed” and “smoldering wick,” and who at the Cross brought salvation to the Gentiles (Matt. 12:15-21). May we worship him as we study these chapters this fall.
Aug. 28: Isa 40:1-11 “Behold Your God.” (Nathaniel Jackson)
Sept. 4: Isa. 40:12-31 “They who wait for the Lord will renew their strength.” (Stefan Matzal)
Sept. 11: Isa. 41:1-20 “I am the one who helps you.” (Nathaniel Jackson)
Sept. 18: Isa. 41:21 – 42:17 “Behold my servant.” (Stefan Matzal)
Sept. 25: Isa. 42:18 – 43:7 “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you.” (Nathaniel Jackson)
Oct. 2: Isa. 43:8-21: “Behold, I am doing a new thing.” (Stefan Matzal)
Oct. 9: Isa. 43:22 – 44:5 “I will pour my Spirit on your offspring.” (Nathaniel Jackson)
Oct. 16: Isa. 44:6-23 “All who fashion idols are nothing.” (Stefan Matzal)
Oct. 23: Isa. 44:24 – 45:13 “Who says of Cyrus, ‘He is my shepherd’.” (John Hartung)
Oct. 30: Reformation Sunday Pulpit Exchange (TBD)
Nov. 6: Isa. 45:14–25 “Turn to me and be saved.” (Stefan Matzal)
Nov. 13: Isa. 46 “I will carry and will save.” (TBD)
Nov. 20: Isa. 47 “Disaster shall fall upon you.” (Nathaniel Jackson)
Nov. 27: Isa. 48 “Go out from Babylon.” (Stefan Matzal)
The Eldership: August 2016
SUMMER 2016 ROMANS 1 – 4
Paul wrote his epistle to the Romans in approximately AD 57, probably from Corinth. He looks forward to making his first visit to the believers in Rome. While he will enjoy fellowship with them, Rome is to serve primarily as a stopping-off point on his way to Spain. By means of this letter, then, Paul introduces himself prior to his arrival. But the epistle is more than a personal introduction. Paul has heard about tension in Rome between Jewish Christians and Gentile Christians. How does he address this tension? Jew and Gentile alike must recognize that they come to God the same way: through the gospel. God brings sinful humans into a right relationship with himself through faith in Christ. As Paul summarizes the main theme of the epistle: “I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith, as it is written, ‘The righteous shall live by faith’” (1:16-17).
The opening four chapters of Romans present a tight argument. First, Paul states the reason that good news is necessary: all humans, both Jews and Gentiles, are under the power of sin. Second, Christ, through his death, is the only source of righteousness for humans. Finally, Paul describes the response of faith – the means by which Jews and Gentiles receive Christ’s righteousness. The key turning point in this argument occurs at 3:21-26. Martin Luther called this paragraph “the chief point, and the very central place of the epistle, and of the whole Bible.” Here Paul explains exactly how and why unrighteous humans can receive the righteousness of God.
Paul exhibits a special concern for Jews who suppose that they earn God’s favor by keeping the Mosaic covenant. Part of the genius of Romans 4, then, is that Paul calls upon the Jewish fathers, Abraham and David, as star witnesses in his case for justification by faith alone. But the point does not apply to Jews alone. No one is capable of doing enough to earn a relationship with God. That relationship must be received as a gift. This summer, as we work our way through these chapters, may our appreciation of and dependence upon the marvelous grace of God multiply and abound!
Jun. 12: Rom. 1:1-7 To all those in Rome. (Nathaniel Jackson)
Jun. 19: Rom. 1:8-17 I am not ashamed. (Stefan Matzal)
Jun. 26: Rom. 1:18-32 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness. (Nathaniel Jackson)
Jul. 3: Rom. 2:1-16 You have no excuse. (Stefan Matzal)
Jul. 10: Rom. 2:17-29 Your circumcision becomes uncircumcision. (Nathaniel Jackson)
Jul. 17: Rom. 3:1-8 What advantage has the Jew? (Stefan Matzal)
Jul. 24: Rom. 3:9-20 None is righteous. (Ram Stewart)
Jul. 31: Rom. 3:21-26 That he might be just and the justifier. (John Hartung)
Aug. 7: Rom. 3:27 – 4:12 Abraham believed God. (Mark Weldon)
Aug. 14: Rom. 4:13-25 He did not weaken in faith. (Stefan Matzal)
Aug. 21: Topical Sermon (TBD)
The Eldership: June 2016
A VISION FOR TRINITY FELLOWSHIP
This series of ten sermons presents two topics: the church’s commitments as listed in Acts 2:42, and the church’s relationship with the world around her.
The four activities listed in Acts 2:42 constitute the DNA of the early church. These activities provide then the essential calling of Trinity Fellowship. We recognize in our own day that we need to be taught. We want our lives to be saturated with the apostolic teachings, those life-giving instructions toward which the entire Bible moves. We also recognize that we need each other. We seek to be deepening in fellowship. We share each other’s joys and sorrows; we serve each other in word and in deed. Furthermore, we recognize that we need forgiveness and newness of life. We seek to build the entirety of our life together upon the foundation of the death of Christ in our place for our sins. To this end we break the bread of the Lord’s Supper together each Sunday. Finally we recognize that we need God’s intervention, and so we are a praying people. Our growth in grace and our power to persevere depend upon the living God who hears us as we pray for and with each other.
In the summer and fall of 2007 we held a special day of prayer and fasting and a series of congregational discussions. We concluded at that time that God was calling us to step up as a disciple-making church (Matt. 28:18-20). Then also the sharing of Scriptures at our recent January 2016 annual day of prayer and fasting highlighted the call to make Christ known with courage. In light of these divine prompts, this series continues with three sermons on evangelism. We will consider practical helps and God’s instruction on how to overcome obstacles we face when making Christ known.
Three final sermons on the challenges of modernity will build upon the call to make disciples. We need to understand the days in which we live if we are to avoid the seduction of the spirit of the age and if we are to help others escape from it. As we converse with family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers in this late-modern age, let’s critically evaluate the basic values our culture takes for granted. What are some of the inconsistencies of modern thinking? How does Christianity show a better way?
Apr. 3: Devoted to Fellowship. (Nathaniel Jackson)
Apr. 10: Devoted to the Apostles’ Teaching. (Stefan Matzal)
Apr. 17: Devoted to the Prayers. (Stefan Matzal)
Apr. 24: Devoted to the Breaking of Bread. (Stefan Matzal)
May 1: Making Disciples: As Ambassadors. (Nathaniel Jackson)
May 8: Making Disciples: Overcoming Obstacles. (Stefan Matzal)
May 15: Making Disciples: Practically Speaking. (Nathaniel Jackson)
May 22: The Challenges of Modernity: Identity. (Stefan Matzal)
May 29: The Challenges of Modernity: Morality. (Nathaniel Jackson)
Jun. 5: The Challenges of Modernity: Technology. (Nathaniel Jackson)
The Eldership: March 2016
Trinity Fellowship Preaching Schedule—Winter 2016
In the earlier part of Mark’s Gospel, Jesus was challenged by the religious authorities in his own region of Galilee; as the scene shifted in the later chapters, the authorities found themselves being challenged in their ‘home territory’ of Jerusalem. The outcome of Jesus’ challenge is described in chapters 14-15, beginning with the determination to do away with this dangerous rival. And if people were starting to see him as the Messiah, the capital charge against him would be the accusation that he accepted this identification and even claimed divinity by proclaiming the forgiveness of sins. Betrayed and crucified, the final outcome is Jesus’ Resurrection.
The Gospel ends with the “trembling and astonishment” of the women at the tomb. Strangely, no appearance to the Twelve is mentioned, but rather the angelic command to meet Jesus in Galilee.
Yet this ending is not strange when seen in the context of the rest of the Gospel. The emphasis on being with Jesus is seen in the 17th verse of the very first chapter: “Follow me.” Throughout the Gospel it is stressed that this is a following into the ‘wilderness:’ the Cross for Jesus; for his disciple likewise (8:34).
The emphasis on astonishment is also frequently stressed in Mark: “Who then is this that even the wind and waves obey him?”(4:41). Its significance for the persecuted church—not to mention ourselves, to whom Mark addresses his Gospel—is plain: as the subjects of such Majesty, shall we not follow him to the end? In the words of Peter, whom earliest tradition identifies as the chief source of Mark’s account: “Therefore, brethren, be the more zealous to confirm your call and election, for if you do this you will never fall: so there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:10-11)
Jan. 3 Mk 12:28-37 “You are not far from the Kingdom of God.” (JJackson)
Jan 10 Mk 12:38-44 “This poor widow has put in more than all of these.” (Matzal)
Jan 17 Mk 13: 1-23 “But be on your guard.” (NJackson)
Jan 24 Mk 13: 24-37 “Stay awake.” (Matzal)
Jan 31 Mk 14:1-11 “She has anointed my body beforehand for burial.” (NJackson)
Feb. 7 Mk 14:12-25 “This is my blood of the covenant.” (JJackson)
Feb 14 Mk 14:26-42 “My soul is sorrowful, even to death.” (Matzal)
Feb 21 Mk 14:43-65 “But let the Scriptures be fulfilled.” (JHartung)
Feb 28 Mk 14:66-72 “I do not know this man.” (NJackson)
Mar. 6 Mk 15:1-15 “They shouted all the more, “Crucify him!” (Matzal)
Mar 13 Mk 15:16-32 “They brought him to a place called Golgotha.” (NJackson)
Mar 20 Mk 15:33-41 “And the curtain of the Temple was torn in two.” (JJackson)
Mar 27 Mk 15:42-16:8 “He has risen!” EASTER (Matzal)
The Eldership—December 2016
FALL 2015 ISAIAH 28 – 39
The people of Judah refused to acknowledge reality: “Sure, we lie in the path of the ever-expanding Assyrian Empire, but our wealth and our wine satisfy us so! Nothing can really harm us. Worst-case scenario – Egypt will protect us.” Because of this complacency, because of their pride, their deceitfulness, their mistreatment of the poor, and ultimately because of their disregard for God, Isaiah pronounces six judgment speeches against Judah.
Our first six sermon passages as listed below each begin with the Hebrew word hoy, usually translated “alas!” “ah!” or “woe!” This interjection expresses pain and sadness over coming judgment. Sin leads to sorrow: you can count on it. After the six judgment speeches, the climactic chapters 34 and 35 lay out two basic choices. Trust in the nations and become like a desert, full of sorrow; trust in the Lord and the desert becomes a fruitful valley, full of joy. Finally we come to chapters 36-39 and the historical example of King Hezekiah who made the right choice, trusting the Lord in the face of the Assyrian threat. Here at the end of the eighth century B.C., the Lord delivered Jerusalem from the Assyrians, but as chapter 39 hints, it was to the Babylonians that Judah would fall in the sixth century.
In none of these sober warnings, does the prophet Isaiah ever descend into bitterness or hatred. Expressing both the justice and the mercy of God, every one of the judgment speeches in Isaiah 28-35 includes promises of future restoration and glory. Judgment will purify God’s remnant and issue forth into salvation. Included among these promises are some of the best-known anticipations of the Messianic Age: “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation” (28:16); “…until the Spirit is poured upon us from on high” (32:15); “your eyes will behold the king in his beauty” (33:17); “then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped, then shall the lame man leap like a deer…” (35:5); and “the redeemed of the Lord shall return and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads” (35:10).
Sept. 20: Isa. 28 “Alas, Ephraim!” (Stefan Matzal)
Sept. 27: Isa. 29:1-14 “Alas, Jerusalem!” (Nathaniel Jackson)
Oct. 4: Isa. 29:15-24: “Alas, you who hide your deeds from the Lord!” (Stefan Matzal)
Oct. 11: Isa. 30 “Alas, stubborn children!” (Nathaniel Jackson)
Oct. 18: Isa. 31:1 – 32:20 “Woe to those who go down to Egypt!” (John Hartung)
Oct. 25: Isa. 33 “Alas, you destroyer!” (Jeremy Jackson)
Nov. 1: Isa. 34 “The Lord is enraged against all the nations.” (Stefan Matzal)
Nov. 8: Isa. 35 “The desert will rejoice and blossom.” (Nathaniel Jackson)
Nov. 15: Reformation Sunday Pulpit Exchange (Pastor Matt Watkins, Beacon Baptist Church)
Nov. 22: Isa. 36:1 – 37:7 “On what do you rest this trust of yours?” (Nathaniel Jackson)
Nov. 29: Isa. 37:8-35 “Save us from his hand!” (Jeremy Jackson)
Dec. 6: Isa. 38 “Hezekiah… was at the point of death.” (Stefan Matzal)
Dec. 13: Isa. 39 “They have come to me… from Babylon.” (Nathaniel Jackson)
Dec. 20: CHRISTMAS (Stefan Matzal)
Dec. 27: NEW YEAR’S (Nathaniel Jackson)
The Eldership: September 2015
Trinity Fellowship Preaching Schedule: Summer 2015
The first of Paul’s three “pastoral” epistles, this letter was intended to instruct and encourage Timothy in his oversight of the Ephesian church. Paul probably wrote 1 Timothy during his fourth missionary journey (c.62-63 AD). While Paul moved on to Macedonia, Timothy was asked to remain in Ephesus. Now an old man, full of experience and faith, Paul is carried along by the Spirit to write to his “true son in the faith.”
Paul had spent three years in Ephesus and understood the challenges that Timothy faced. Paul charges Timothy to refute false teaching, maintain godly order in the burgeoning Ephesian church and appoint qualified leaders. Timothy was to persevere in his God-given calling—“let no one despise your youth, but set an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.”
1 Timothy reflects a hope-filled realism about pastoral ministry and the local church. We find practical advice and urgent exhortation “to fight the good fight of the faith.” We also find Paul’s characteristic hopefulness about the maturing of the Ephesian church. A hope anchored in the grace furnished by Christ Jesus our Lord, shaped by a trustworthy gospel and ensured by the “King of ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, to whom be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.”
June 21: Topical … TBD (SM)
28: 1 Timothy 1:1-11 A stewardship of sound doctrine out of love (JJ)
July 5: 1 Timothy 1:12-20 “Waging the good warfare” (NJ)
12: 1 Timothy 2:1-8 A calling to please God our savior (SM)
19: 1 Timothy 2:9-15 The adorning of a godly woman(JJ)
26: 1 Timothy 3:1-16 Qualifications for noble tasks (NJ)
Aug. 2: 1 Timothy 4:1-16 “Keep a close watch on yourself and the teaching” (NJ)
9: “Looking for the City…whose architect and builder is God.” Al Gurley
16: 1 Timothy 5:1-16 Pastoral care for all ages and stages (JH)
23: 1 Timothy 5:17-6:2 Orders for elders and slaves (SM)
30: 1 Timothy 6:3-10 False teaching rooted in the love of money (SM)
Sept. 6: 1 Timothy 6:11-16 “Fight the good fight of the faith” (JJ)
13: 1 Timothy 6:17-21 Invest wisely and guard the deposit of faith (NJ)
The Eldership; June 2015
SPRING 2015 ESTHER
The events recorded in the book of Esther took place in the early 5th century B.C. To use Ezra-Nehemiah as a reference point, this was during the chronological gap between Ezra 6 and Ezra 7, between the first and second great migrations of Jewish exiles back to Jerusalem. While the events of Ezra-Nehemiah took place primarily in Jerusalem, our book’s protagonists, Mordecai and Esther, lived 750 miles to the east in Susa, one of capital cities of the powerful Persian Empire (Susa was situated near what today is the border between Iraq and Iran).
Jewish exiles, clustered in communities throughout the Persian Empire, were surrounded by a hazardous world. Hazardous became perilous, however, when the nobleman Haman incited Emperor Ahasuerus (the Greeks called him “Xerxes”) to issue a decree calling for the annihilation of the Jews. This simple sketch of the opening chapters of Esther explains why the book resonates with post-Holocaust Jews today. Christians make legitimate connections as well, for we also live as “foreigners and exiles” in an antagonistic world (1 Pet. 2:11).
Never explicitly mentioning God, the book of Esther enlightens beleaguered saints who are frustrated in their own day with the hiddenness of God. Seeming coincidences and surprising reversals appear throughout the book. Looking at any one of these as a lone event, a reader might suppose that the event came about by chance. Considered as an entire package, however, these events reveal God’s behind-the-scenes orchestration of all things for the purpose of rescuing and preserving his people.
The final section of Esther recounts the establishment of the feast of Purim. Purim is the annual commemoration of the days when “their sorrow was turned into gladness” (Esth. 9:22). God’s work of deliverance, his turning his people’s sorrow into joy – these themes run throughout the entire Bible and reach their climax at the Cross, the Resurrection, the Ascension and Pentecost. By these means God delivers the followers of Jesus Christ, Jew and Gentile alike, from enemies more destructive than Haman: Satan, sin, judgment, and death. Praise be to the God of our salvation!
Apr. 19: Esth. 1 “The king became enraged, and his anger burned.” (Stefan Matzal)
Apr. 26: Esth. 2 “Let beautiful young virgins be sought out for the king.” (Nathaniel Jackson)
May 3: Esth. 3 “He disdained to lay hands on Mordecai alone.” (Jeremy Jackson)
May 10: Esth. 4:1 – 5:8 “Relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews.” (Stefan Matzal)
May 17: Esth. 5:9 – 6:14 “On that night the king could not sleep.” (Nathaniel Jackson)
May 24: Esth. 7 “A foe and an enemy! This wicked Haman!” (Jeremy Jackson)
May 31: Esth. 8 “How can I bear to see the destruction of my kindred?” (Stefan Matzal)
Jun. 7: Esth. 9:1-19 “But they laid no hand on the plunder.” (Nathaniel Jackson)
Jun. 14: Esth. 9:20 – 10:3 “They should make them days of feasting and gladness.” (Jeremy Jackson)
The Eldership: April 2015
Winter 2015 The Gospel of Mark, chapters 9-12
The last verses, 8:31 – 9:1, that we studied a year ago, linked Jesus’ first prediction of his Passion with the warning that following Jesus requires the same willingness as that of Jesus to “lose one’s life.” This theme will be repeated twice more in this central section of Mark that we are studying this year. The fact that, unusually, both Matthew and Luke also record Jesus repeating this saying three times over underlines its importance. For, of course, it is the very heart of the “good news” that “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Tim. 1:15), and that there could be no Gospel, no everlasting life, unless he was indeed “wounded for our transgressions … bruised for our iniquities” (Isa. 53:5).
It is as Mark’s Gospel continues in, and beyond, chap. 9 that we see more and more sadly the very sinful unbelief for which Jesus was going to die. Increasingly, Jesus’ miracles, searching parables, rather than leading people to worship God and seriously inquire into his identity, instead provoked a murderous jealousy with repeated attempts to humiliate him in public with “trick” questions and theological trivia.
But God’s loving purposes are not to be thwarted. Sin must be atoned for, but Resurrection will follow Crucifixion; the Son of God must take “the form of a servant” (Phil. 2:7), but glory will transcend rejection. The Church embodies these saving truths. May we, this side of the Resurrection, explain what “this rising from the dead” means (Mark 9:10).
Jan. 4: Mark 9:2-13 “This is my Son, listen to Him.” (Stefan Matzal)
Jan. 11: Mark 9:14-29 “I believe; help my unbelief!” (Nathaniel Jackson)
Jan. 18: Mark 9:30-37 “If anyone – must be last.” SOHLS (Jeremy Jackson)
Jan. 25: Mark 9:38-50 “Have salt in yourselves.” (John Hartung)
Feb. 1: Mark 10:1-16 “From the beginning … male/female.” (Nathaniel Jackson)
Feb. 8: Mark 10:17-31 “Then who can be saved?” (Stefan Matzal)
Feb. 15: Mark 10:32-34 “What was to happen to him.” (Jeremy Jackson)
Feb. 22: Mark 10:35-45 “To give his life as a ransom.” LENT (Nathaniel Jackson)
Mar. 1: Mark 10:46-52 “What do you want me to do?” (Stefan Matzal)
Mar. 8: Mark 11:1-11 “Blessed is the coming kingdom!” (Jeremy Jackson)
Mar. 15: Mark 11:12-21 “You have made it a den of robbers.” (Nathaniel Jackson)
Mar. 22: Mark 11:22-33 “Who gave you this authority?” (Stefan Matzal)
Mar. 29: Mark 12:1-17 “Why put me to the test?” (Jeremy Jackson)
Apr. 5: Mark 12:18-27 “God of … the living!” EASTER (Nathaniel Jackson)
The Eldership: December 2014