Archive for March, 2010

March 31, 2010

[Subway Series] The Passover & The Crucifixion

by Bethany

In shedding His blood on the cross on the 14th day of Nisan, Jesus became the sacrificial Passover lamb. As you read the texts in the Subway Series: Passover, consider how Jesus is the ultimate fulfillment of Passover.

To follow the Passover readings in the Subway Series, click here.

To learn more about the Subway Series: Passover, click here.

To learn more about the Subway Series, click here.

[Note: Even if you don't have a Kindle, you can get Kindle on your PCKindle on your MacKindle on your iPhone or Kindle on your Blackberry. Also, note that if you search for "Subway Series" on Kindle, make sure you select "Subway Series: Passover 2010" and not "Subway Series: Passover" - we're still learning how to delete prior versions!]

March 30, 2010

[Subway Series: Passover] Moses & Jesus

by Bethany

Moses rescued God’s people from slavery in Egypt; Jesus rescues them from slavery to sin. As you read the texts in the Subway Series: Passover, consider how Jesus is similar to – but greater than – Moses.

To follow the Passover readings in the Subway Series, click here.

[Note: Even if you don't have a Kindle, you can get Kindle on your PCKindle on your MacKindle on your iPhone or Kindle on your Blackberry. Also, note that if you search for "Subway Series" on Kindle, make sure you select "Subway Series: Passover 2010" and not "Subway Series: Passover" - we're still learning how to delete prior versions!]

March 29, 2010

[843 Acres] What do your neighbors think of Christianity?

by amyjuliabecker

“They will know we are Christians by our love.” At least in my neck of the woods, Christianity is seen as oppressive, intolerant, anti-intellectual and against science. Not a fair assessment, to be sure, but why is it that many of my neighbors think so badly of Christians, or at least of the religion to which we adhere?

In “Letting Go of My Father” (The Atlantic), Jonathan Rauch describes the last year of his father’s life and his own loneliness and desperation as he tried to honor his father and care for him at the same time. He writes, “The medical infrastructure for elder care in America is good, very good. But the cultural infrastructure is all but nonexistent.”

From Leviticus to Matthew to Romans, love of neighbor comes up again and again. As Paul states it, “The commandments, ‘Do not commit adultery,’ ‘Do not murder,’ ‘Do not steal,’ ‘Do not covet,’ and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’” (Romans 13:9).

Jonathan Rauch’s story suggests that thousands of Americans are facing the physical decline of their parents, and they feel as though they are facing it alone. They don’t need better doctors; they need better neighbors. Cooking a meal, asking a simple question, “How are you? What can I do to help?”, offering childcare, offering to run errands, going out of our way to care for our neighbor. Perhaps they will know we are Christians by our love.

March 29, 2010

[Morning Walk] Christ, Our Passover Lamb

by Bethany

This week, Morning Walk will be featuring Subway Series: Passover. It is a one-week study that looks at Passover through a gospel lens, recognizing that the blood of Christ is able to save those who would believe in Him. Keeping with the format of the Subway Series, this study supports small group fellowship with daily devotionals that include a meditation, an Old Testament reading, a New Testament reading, a reflection question, and a prayer.

For more information about Passover and this unique study, view our promo video.

To view a sample of or purchase Subway Series: Passover, visit us here. [Note: On Morning Walk, we'll have a teaser each morning, but we will not have the content in its entirety.]

To learn more about the Subway Series, visit our website.

March 27, 2010

[Subway Series] Passover 2010!

by Bethany

I couldn’t be more excited to roll out our Subway Series: Passover!

It’s a week-long study intended for fellowship groups with accompanying daily readings that incorporate the Old and New Testaments. Throughout the Passover week, you’ll read about Moses and Jesus, the Passover and the Crucifixion, Jesus as the bread and wine, the three days of hiding, and the celebration of all of these events! In keeping with the style of the Subway Series, each day’s readings are all-inclusive and take less than 10 minutes per day – ideal for subway reading! We hope that you love these as much as we do!

Now, go to your Kindle, your iPhone app for Kindle, or your Kindle on your computer, and start learning about Jesus, our Passover lamb! To view, see here.

P.S. In keeping with the “short and smart” aspect of our reading materials, each day’s devotional in the Subway Series is 750 words or less … The same general guidelines for New York Times op-ed pieces.

March 26, 2010

[Morning Walk] Shoes of Peace: Ephesians 6

by Bethany

Today’s Readings: Proverbs 13, Ephesians 6

A Shoe by any other Name

New Yorkers are obsessed with shoes. Our obsession, however, is not merely based on fashion. Rather, most of the time, our priority is durability and practicality. Whether its rain boots, tennis shoes or flats, our shoes are torn up in a matter of weeks.

Although most of the world’s population didn’t wear shoes until recent years, Roman Emperors gave shoes to their soldiers, recognizing that footwear would enable them to move against an enemy quickly and march for an extended period. In effect, their shoes made them better soldiers.

Readiness of the Gospel of Peace

At the end of his letter to the Ephesians, Paul writes that our shoes – the things that carry us in our travels and enable us to endure in war – should be “fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace” (6:14-15, NIV).

Paul lists the gospel “of peace” among the spiritual armor for war because peace is the goal of war. Our goal is to commend peace to people, wherever we walk.

The gospel of peace is the good news that our holy God purchased peace with Himself for us through the death of His Son and that He offers that peace in the gospel to all of those who would believe in Jesus. As Paul wrote earlier,

“But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit” (2:13-18, NIV).

The gospel of peace is that God has abolished the enmity between Himself and humanity and among humanity with itself. Since the days are evil (here), let us be vigilant about fitting our shoes, walking and proclaiming the gospel of peace.

March 25, 2010

[Morning Walk] Be thankful for the evil days. Ephesians 5

by Bethany

Today’s Readings: Proverbs 12, Ephesians 5

War & Peace

When I read passages like Ephesians 5, I am confused.

On the one hand, Paul writes as if there is a war-like urgency to the Christian life – Be wise, not foolish. Make the most of every opportunity. The days are evil. Understand what the Lord’s will is. Don’t impair your judgment with alcohol.

On the other hand, he writes as if there is a peace-like thanksgiving to the Christian life – Be filled with the Spirit. Sing hymns to each other. Let your heart fill up with song to God. Give thanks for everything.

Which is it, Paul – war or peace? Do we live in the midst of an on-going battle or in a victorious peace?

Both. The Lord has already won the war, but the final peace does not yet reign.

Yet, in practice, what does this look like? Is Paul’s head in the clouds when he tells the Ephesians to give thanks in the evil days?

Paul & Evil

Paul was well acquainted with evil days. He wrestled with his own sin (Romans 7) and he felt the sins of others when he was stoned, beaten and imprisoned. In fact, Paul wrote Ephesians while in Roman prison (AD 62) and he had already experienced extreme suffering (2 Corinthians 11:24-27, written before Ephesians).

Since the days are evil, we must be careful in how we think and how we walk. We must guard ourselves in Christ and repeatedly choose to love and to live righteously.

Paul & Thanksgiving

We also must be thankful for everything. He doesn’t say to be thankful in everything nor to be content with injustice nor to chin-up at cancer. Yet, he does say to be thankful for everything.

I’m not going to pretend to know how to live this out. In fact, I’d welcome your advice. I do know, however, that nothing is impossible with God and that, in Christ, we have the life of God living in us through the Spirit who searches everything, even the depths of God, which are rooted in sovereignty and goodness.

Evil & Thanksgiving

As the enemy draws close, let us sing hymns like the Haitians did in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake and as Paul and Silas did in jail, awaiting their fate. Let us smile with light hearts as we’re made foolish. Let us be thankful for everything since we await a victorious outcome after this life of vigilant living.

March 24, 2010

[Morning Walk] God cares about how you file your taxes. Proverbs 11

by Bethany

Today’s Readings: Proverbs 11, Ephesians 4

Our Non-Religious Life

Godly living is about more than just how we act at mass or church. The Bible says something about how we behave at the store, on the trading floor and at the office. God either takes delight in or is abhorred by our “non-religious” life because He owns and cares about every inch in the universe.

For example, He cares about how we file our taxes. Over the next three weeks, as we prepare our filings, how will we characterize our earnings and losses? What, if anything, does the Bible say about it?

An Honest Balance

According to Solomon, “A false balance is an abomination to the Lord, but a just weight is his delight” (Proverbs 11:1) – that is, there is a way to file our taxes that is abomination to the Lord and there is a way to file our taxes that is His delight. He is pleased with an honest characterization of our earnings, not a deceitful manipulation of the numbers.

This verse, however, applies to more than just filing our taxes. If refers to vendors who sell goods or services for more than they’re worth (e.g., a merchant who uses an inaccurate scale, a realtor who doesn’t disclose a termite infestation). It refers to buyers who rip off sellers (e.g., renters who get free cable, international travelers who haggle with Haitian vendors over $1 when they know the seller’s desperation). It refers to acts of deceit (e.g., mischaracterization of taxes, false insurance claims) and injustice towards others (e.g., rushing a refugee to sign a lease that is too high).

All About Faith

God has an interest in our business transactions. Honest prices, fair dealings and accurate weights delight Him because they express our faith in Him. If we know God as unlimited and sovereign and free and powerful, and if we trust Him as being on our side and for us, and if our faith is encouraged by the demonstration of His love for us on the cross, then it is impossible for us to cheat other people. After all, what would we cheat them to gain? For, in Christ, “[a]ll things are yours, whether … the world or life or death or the present or the future – all are yours, and you are of Christ, and Christ is of God” (1 Corinthians 3:21-23, NIV).

March 23, 2010

[Morning Walk] The Mystery Revealed: Ephesians 3

by Bethany

Today’s Readings: Proverbs 10, Ephesians 3

Mystery’s Thrill

As Law & Order enters its 20th season, it’s set to become the longest running primetime drama. Usually based on a real case, each episode includes an investigation and a prosecution. Although clues are given throughout the investigation, they only make sense after the perpetrator is caught.

Hindsight’s Vision

Paul writes that the “mystery of Christ” – namely, that “the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel” – was “not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit” (Ephesians 3:4-6). Yet, like Law & Order, there are clues throughout the Old Testament that God planned to save the world, not just the Israelites.

  • Evidence in the Law. God loved and provided for the Gentiles [1]. In giving the law to Israel, He wanted to get the world’s attention [2]. He instructed them to love foreigners [3], to care for immigrants [4], by treating them equally [5] and not oppressing them [6]. He allowed Gentiles to become His people and participate in Passover as followers of God [7].
  • Evidence in the Narratives. Old Testament believers were justified by faith, not by works or lineage [8]. He sent messengers to Gentiles [9]. Four Gentile women are in the Messianic line (Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba) [10].
  • Evidence in the Psalms. The Psalms speak of God being for all nations [12] to be saved [13] and to worship [14].
  • Evidence in the Prophets. The prophet Isaiah is explicit [15]. He spoke, “I will also make you [Israel] a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth …” [16].

So What

For first century Gentile Christians, it was important to know that God had an “eternal purpose” to save them in Christ according to His “manifold wisdom.” After all, from their perspective, Christianity was a Jewish religion – God chose Israel, Jews wrote the entire Bible (except Luke), and Jesus and His disciples were Jewish. Knowing God’s plan, however, they could be bold before the Father, from whom “every family” is named.

Let us never forget that, if God could have a plan of salvation in Christ for all, He is able “to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think” (v. 20). Thus, let us have “confidence through our faith in him” (v. 12).

[1] Deut. 10:18 [2] Deut. 4:6 [3] Lev. 19:33-34; Deut. 10:19 [4] (Deut. 24:19-22 [5] (Num. 15:15-16; Lev. 24:22 [6] Ex. 23:9; Deut. 24:14-15, 17-18, 27:19 [7] Jer. 12:16; Ex. 12:48-49 [8] Heb. 11 [9] Jonah [10] Matt. 1:5-6; Luke 3:31-32 [12] Ps. 47:8-9; Ps. 99:2 [13] Ps. 98:3; 67 [14] Ps. 86:9 [15] Is. 42:6; 52:10; 56:7; 66:19 [16] 49:6

March 22, 2010

[Morning Walk] In Defense of Discrimination: Proverbs 9

by Bethany

Today’s Readings: Proverbs 9, Ephesians 2

Real Gold and Fool’s Gold

As news spread of James Marshall’s discovery of gold in 1848, thousands flocked to California. In 1849, more than 100,000 gold rushers (aka The Forty-Niners) came and extracted more than $2 billion worth of gold in one year.

Their success depended on their ability to distinguish between real gold and fool’s gold. Although they appear to be the same, real gold is valuable (see here) and fool’s gold is merely iron sulfide. Thus, in order to distinguish between the two, a rusher employed authenticity tests such as the bite test and the scratch test.

Wisdom and Folly

Like real gold and fool’s gold, wisdom and folly can appear similar. In Proverbs 9, personifications of wisdom and folly are given and, although they’re superficially similar, their differences are material:

  • Invitation. Although the wise and the fool both call to “the simple” (4-6 & 16-17), their invitations differ in form and substance. While the wise calls out from the high places (3), the fool yells from her doorstep (14). Moreover, while the wise tells us to repent (6), the fool tells us to manipulate (13 & 17).
  • House. Although the wise and the fool both have houses (1 & 14), their houses differ in strength and significance. While the house of the wise has seven pillars of strength (1), the house of the fool shelters the dead (18).
  • Meal. Although the wise and the fool both provide meals, their food differs substantially in sustenance and nutrition. While the wise prepares a banquet with bread and wine (5), the fool provides stolen water and bread (17).

If we want to accept the invitation to live in the solid house and feast on a banquet meal, then we must pursue biblical wisdom rather than foolish thinking. While the fool is concerned solely with “right” thinking, the wise cares about right living. While the fool denies that there is any god that matters, the wise fears the Lord (10). The wise says, “The wisdom of God is Christ crucified” (see 1 Corinthians 1:23-24).

Authenticity Test

How do you know whether you’re wise or foolish? The test is whether you love or hate those who rebuke you. While the wise love those who rebuke them because they have teachable spirits, the foolish despise them because they have stubborn and abusive ones (8).

What about you? Do you hear only those voices that reinforce your life pattern, or do you hear those that challenge it, too? Thus, are you wise or foolish?

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