This Sunday at Immanuel: Chapter 23: Jesus’ Ministry Begins
Chapter 23 of The Story covers the opening chapters of the 4 Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John). This Sunday we will use Mark’s gospel to hear the stories of Jesus’ first days of ministry in Galilee. Jesus announces in word and deed that the Kingdom of God has arrived. This is the good news! But he was not the kind of king many were expecting. Read Mark 1-3 in preparation for this Sunday’s message. Our service will include a celebration of the Lord’s Supper which is our opportunity to renew our commitment to Jesus as Lord and King.
Several of you have asked where to find the books of the Apocrypha. They can be found at this web site: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+Maccabees+1&version=GNT
Back ground notes for the Gospel of Mark: http://www.biblestudytools.com/mark/
This Sunday at Immanuel: Chapter 21: Rebuilding the Walls
Chapter 21 of The Story covers the rebuilding of the temple, city walls and worship of the Jewish people between 540 and 440 BC, following their release from captivity in Babylon. It was tough going, facing challenges of poverty, limited resources and opposition from their new neighbors. But they persevered and 100 years after they returned the temple was built, the walls repaired and the people worshipped God with a passion similar to that expressed at Mt Sinai. With these books (Ezra and Nehemiah) the story of the OT comes to a close. During the past 21 weeks we have covered all of the historical books of the Old Testament and next week we begin the story of God’s new covenant which comes to us in his son, Jesus Christ. This week’s message will focus on the grand celebration of the people when Ezra reads to them from God’s Word and they hear it as if it was for the very first time. The celebration that followed lasted a full week. Our worship this week is inspired by this great story.
Introduction to the books of Ezra and Nehemiah: http://www.biblestudytools.com/ezra/
This Sunday at Immanuel: Chapter 20: The Queen of Beauty and Courage
Chapter 20 of The Story is the story of Esther, an orphaned Jewish girl who becomes Queen of Persia in the post exile time of Israel, in 480 BC. Her privilege, however, is not without responsibility. What seems like a Cinderella story from a lower story point of view is a story filled with salvation overtones in God’s upper story. Esther (with help from cousin Mordecai) saves the people of Israel who chose to remain in Persia from death by “pogrom”, as planned by the evil Haman. This story of intrigue, tension and resolution is also a call to action for each of us. This Sunday we will explore this story’s challenge that God’s people everywhere offer themselves to God for service, “at all times, and in every way”.
Chapter 18 of The Story is dedicated to the well loved story of Daniel. It is a book worth reading. The first 6 chapters include the stories of Daniel living in exile during the time of the Babylonian and Persian kingdoms. God uses him (and his friends) to speak to the kings by interpreting their dreams and other strange events. God also rescues them when others seek their harm. God’s people wondered how to live during a time of judgment, away from the temple and the land of promise and covenant. Daniel answers that question simply and confidently: no matter how “hot the fire” or “fierce the lion”, we never, ever, ever break our promise to love and serve God Most High. God first – God always. A tough lesson that Israel had not yet learned. Daniel prefigures Jesus Christ in that he remained faithful to God even when the cost of faithfulness appeared to be life itself.
This Sunday at Immanuel
Chapter 16 of The Story tells of the fall of the Southern Kingdom of Judah to the nation of Babylon recorded in II Kings 21-25. The deportation of the people of Israel in 722 BC and 586 BC brought to and end the 350 years of their existence as a independent nation. “Now what?” was the cry of the people whose sin had led God to judge them and whose suffering was so severe that all hope seemed lost. God raise up prophets to speak to them in their misery. Essentially they said: Yes, it was God who judged you for your sin, but this same God has not forgotten you. He will restore you after 70 years and bring you home and give you back your land, and your life and your future. All of this will take place because of a promise he made to you to never forget his love and compassion and his plan through you to declare to the nations his love and desire that all the world will know him, and find life in his name. This word of God was brought to them by Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and many others. This week we will hear from Ezekiel. To prepare for this Sunday’s message read chapters 1, 18 and 37.
Introduction to the book of Ezekiel: http://www.biblestudytools.com/ezekiel/
Chapter 16 of The Story is based in II Kings 17-20. I encourage everyone to read those 4 chapters from the Bible in preparation for Sunday’s Message.
The Northern Kingdom of Israel is defeated and deported by the Assyrian nation. Chapter 17 gives us God’s reasons for allowing this defeat of his covenant people. It is a excellent summary of what we have learned so far in The Story. God keeps his promises and expects the same from his people. We then turn to a mocking threat by King Sennacherib of Assyria against the Southern Kingdom of Judah, taunting their trust in Yahweh as being a false hope. King Hezekiah seeks the counsel of the prophet Isaiah who prophecies that Yahweh will send a “report” that will cause the Assyrian king to turn around, sparing the people of Judah. In this story we see the “awfulness” of God’s wrath against sin, and the mercy of God displayed in his covenant faithfulness to those who turn to him as their only hope.