Category: Perspectives


The End of Time (4 Perspectives)

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Perspective 1- Kelsey Rath

When reading the final chapter in The Story something that stood out to me was when God said,

“I am the alpha and the omega, who is, and was, and is to come, the almighty.”

Since alpha and omega means the beginning and the end, this gives us a feel of God truly won’t leave us. He will always be there for us. He will be there in the beginning and the end.  Who is, and was, and is to come. This to me means that he is God, he was God, and will always be God.  This how God was telling the disciples that he and only he was the true Lord almighty. He is the Lord, was the Lord, and is the Lord to come.

Perspective 2- Pastor Ron

My first reaction to chapter 31 of The Story? How am I am going to do a 20-minute message on the entire book of Revelation! My second reaction was one of sadness that the journey is coming to an end. I know that it is not the end and the book of Revelation makes that very clear. The upper story of God goes on for all eternity. Yet, it has been such a great journey for us as a congregation to read through God’s Word in a chronological order, to have so many “ah ha” moments, and to share our thoughts with one another, that it is sad to see it come to an end.

With all those thoughts going through my head as I read the chapter, the one question that kept coming up was how can we now tell this story to others? The reality is Jesus will return one day, and to those who know Him as their Savior, a paradise beyond comprehension awaits them, but for those who do not…It is a sobering thought. It is a great responsibility. It is an honor that God would entrust the spreading of His story to us.

The personal challenge I took away from this chapter is how can God use me so that more people will drink from the living water and eat from the tree of everlasting life.  Secondly, how can God use Gloria Dei to do the same? Have you given that much thought?

Perspective 3- Barb Miles

The end? The End of Time?

No, not the end, but the beginning.  The beginning for us who are victorious.

Count the references to ‘Victorious’ in Chapter 31 – Victorious – the right to eat from the tree of life Victorious – the right to be dressed in white – pure Victorious – the right to sit with Jesus on His throne Victorious – the right to drink the water from the spring of life A victory for our God who, since the beginning wanted to come down from the Upper Story and dwell with His people.

The apostle John received a new vision and was told to write it down. John saw the new heaven and the new earth coming down out of heaven.  Through John, we have his record and description of a place so spectacular that we can scarcely imagine.  A place that does not require a sun or a moon to provide light but is illuminated by the radiance of God.

Apostle John says this day will surely come.  Until that day, all believers share in the new covenant of Jesus as written by the apostle Paul – to go to our Jerusalem; to go to our Judea; to go to our Samaria and to go to the ends of this earth to share with those who have not heard the story of Christ Jesus.  Share the Good News.

So while we wait for the new world that John described, we have our work to do.  Bringing Jesus Christ to people for the first time and for a lifetime.

Come Lord Jesus – Come!

Perspective 4- Dan Petrak

Paul’s Final Days (4 Perspectives)

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Perspective 1- Pastor Phil

What’s your story?

In this chapter Paul shares his story or testimony with a number of people. It doesn’t always lead people to conversion or make people weep with sadness or joy. Unfortunately people will sometimes reject your story but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t tell it.

Paul had an experience with the risen Christ that changed his life forever. We see it once again as he retells the Damascus road story in chapter 30. It changed his life in such a way that he couldn’t avoid talking about it with the people he came into contact with. There was no way that he was going to shut-up about this, even if he was threatened with beatings and death. There was no stopping it!

When Jesus comes to us in our messy lives today, how can we stay unchanged and not talk about it? Have you spent time thinking about your story? What are the experiences you have had that God used to shape you? Who are the people whom God has put in your life to shape who you are?

We all have a story to tell. So what’s yours?

Perspective 2- Barb Miles 

Paul proclaimed the gospel among all classes of people, from the palace to the prison.

He knew he would not be on earth forever, so he wanted people – believers to use their gifts to be continual witnesses throughout the generations.  He spent time in jail twice  through these years of teaching and witnessing.  He did not wait for anyone to ask him who he was or what he was professing, but went first into the synagogue in the town he was visiting.

What a life well lived….What an example God has provided us. Whenever we feel down or discouraged, let us remember Paul.

Perspective 3- Dan Petrak

Perspective 4- Pastor Ron

The Apostle Paul has always fascinated me.  His tenacity, intellect, and mostly his passion for sharing the Gospel are inspirational.

In the later part of his ministry he feels compelled to go to Jerusalem.  The Holy Spirit tells him that he will be imprisoned.  The prophet Agabus demonstrates it for him by binding his hands and feet with Paul’s belt and declaring this is what is going to happen to you.  The people plead with him not to go.  Paul, convinced that God wants him to return to Jerusalem is relentless in his journey.  Sure enough they nearly beat him to death in Jerusalem, but what does he do as the Roman soldiers are carrying him off to jail where he will be safe?  He asks for permission to speak and starts making a case for the Gospel!  You read all of this and you think okay he has passion for the message, but I am not so sure about his intellect.  Just wait!

The next thing you know he is in front of the Sanhedrin – the Jewish court.  He knows that there are Pharisees and Sadducees in the group.  Pharisees believe in the resurrection from the dead for all people, while the Sadducees do not.  So Paul announces that he is a Pharisee and says that he is on trial because he believes in the resurrection of the dead.  Brilliant!  The Pharisees in the room come to his defense and begin arguing with the Sadducees.  The end result is that Paul is happy you see!  (I couldn’t resist that last line, but it does demonstrate Paul’s keen intellect.)

Paul is a powerful example of what happens when God gets ahold of your heart.  He uses all the uniqueness that He poured into you to bring about good for the kingdom.  How has God used all of your uniqueness to bring about good for the kingdom?

Paul’s Mission (4 Perspectives)

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Perspective 1- Diane Schmidt

This week’s chapter is about Paul and his mission. What was his mission? To spread the Gospel, to tell everyone he met about Jesus, how he lived, how he died, but most importantly how he defeated death and the devil for each and every one of us. So I sit here writing this perspective and yesterday I would have written something different. Why you ask? Because I sit here after serving at a funeral. The funeral was for a young mother, age 42. The theme verse, which she picked out, was 2 Timothy 4:7. “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” These are words that Paul wrote to Timothy, reflecting on his ministry and how he lived his life. These are words that help us to keep our focus on Jesus. As I recall the words of Pastor Burcham during the message about how Tanya lived her life, walking beside Jesus, showing His love and His message to all she met it reminds me of the example that Paul set for us. That no matter what life throws at us, what blessings and what trials we can share the Gospel, we can tell everyone we meet about Jesus and what he did to defeat death and that someday, like Tanya, we will live with our Savior!

Perspective 2- Dan Petrak

 

Perspective 3- Barb Miles

This chapter covers a long period where Paul and Barnabas were doing so much traveling and witnessing. In most cases when they arrived in a town they visited Jewish synagogues first. After the Jews rejected the news about Jesus, Paul would start preaching to the Gentiles. Paul and Barnabas were received with mixed reactions. Some wanted to hear the word of God, that “through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, through him everyone who believes is set free from every sin.” Some would not believe and expelled them from their region. They healed a man who was lame. They were prisoned from removing a corrupt spirit from a woman, but after praying and singing hymns, the chains of all the prisoners were released. They chose not to escape but remained in the prison and witnessed to the jailer. After the jailer was told to release them, Paul told him to go and get the magistrates to escort them out of town. Paul was not going quietly but left in a way where he was acknowledged for being imprisoned wrongly because they were Roman citizens and had no trial.

Paul and Barnabas were truly standing up for Jesus. They had success and disappointment. But they were unwavering witnesses to God’s word.

Stand up, stand up for Jesus,
Ye soldiers of the Cross!
Lift high His royal banner,
It must not suffer loss.
From victory unto victory,
His army shall He lead,
Till every foe is vanquished,
And Christ is Lord indeed!

Perspective 4- Pastor Ron

New Beginnings (4 Perspectives)

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Perspective 1- Laura Rath

“When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished…”

The courage of Peter.

Peter, who denied knowing Jesus three times before his death, now can’t stop himself from standing in front of the elders and rulers proclaiming that salvation is found only in Jesus Christ. Oh, and by the way guys, you remember Jesus, right? He’s the man from Nazareth, whom you crucified!

So, what’s changed in Peter? How do you go from fearing for your life to boldly confronting the very men who put Jesus to death?

Peter is no longer acting on his own. Jesus had commanded him to wait with the other apostles, for God’s gift of the Holy Spirit. And when filled with the Holy Spirit, Peter was a new man—a courageous man who wasn’t afraid to speak boldly of Jesus’ resurrection.

Jesus knew what Peter was capable of on his own, but even better, He knew what Peter would do through the power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus knows us too—what we try to do on our own, but even better, what we can do through His power and strength.

Perspective 2- Pastor Ron

Twice in this chapter Peter stands up fearlessly to proclaim the resurrection of Jesus.  This is the same Peter, you may recall, that swore up and down that he did not know him when Jesus was on trial. Now he defies even the religious authority of his day to proclaim Jesus’ resurrection. What gives? The Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit gives confidence. He gives words and persuasive arguments. He gives inspiration and courage. The Holy Spirit came at Pentecost and it was Peter, who was filled with the Holy Spirit, who addressed the crowd. The next time we read about the Holy Spirit filling Peter is when he is before the High Priest and his family. This would be like the royal family in the religious world of the Jews. After healing a lame man Peter and John are hauled off to prison. The next day they are in court. The writer of Acts makes sure that we know Peter and John are just ordinary people and not very well-educated. Yet, Peter gives the speech of his life—no really, he probably saved his and John’s life that day. Actually, it was not Peter, but the Holy Spirit who inspired him and gave him the words.

It is the same Holy Spirit today as it was back then. I know this from personal experience—every time I give a message. I know it is the Holy Spirit who is using me, and I really cannot take any credit. If you think about it, you know the activity of the Holy Spirit in your life, as well. Have you ever been with a friend who was hurting deeply, with no idea what to say, and then the words just came? That would be the Holy Spirit. Have you ever said nothing and just listened? That would be the Holy Spirit. He is the same today, yesterday, and tomorrow, just as the Father and the Son.

Perspective 3- Barb Miles

In this chapter, we read where Jesus returned to earth to teach the disciples to be his witnesses.  After Jesus’ suffering and resurrection he returned to earth for forty days before he ascended into heaven.  He spoke numerous times to the apostles he had chosen and taught them the Kingdom of God was for whomever believed.  Jesus prepared the apostles for going out to profess their faith in the one true Lord and to perform miracles.  There were situations through this time that caused tribulation and celebration.   Stephen and Saul were both apostles who came to share God’s word but one was stoned to death for his witness and one was allowed to witness after first loosing his eyesight.

This story is truly amazing to me.  With this small group of followers before Jesus’ persecution that heard Jesus say that he would fulfill the Old Testament prophesy, that he would be arrested, killed and in three days rise, we celebrate the glories of Easter.  Jesus returned to earth to empower the apostles to teach and witness!  Jesus did not give up on them!  Jesus has not given up on anyone.

Perspective 4- Dan Petrak

The Resurrection (4 Perspectives)

He is Risen

Perspective 1- Dan Petrak

Perspective 2- Diane Schmidt

What a great and glorious chapter! The Resurrection! Jesus fulfilling his mission, the reason he became human. As I read this chapter, thinking about writing a perspective, I kept seeing the disciples’ and women’s reactions to the resurrection. Jesus appears to Mary but she doesn’t recognized him. He appears to the disciples on the road to Emmaus, same thing, they don’t recognize him. He appeared in the room with the disciples but they doubted him. Thomas gets credit for being the doubter but he wasn’t the only one. How so we today are like the disciples.

Jesus appears to us, each day, through his Word and through the witness and lives of other Christians. But often we don’t recognize him. He speaks to us but we don’t hear or believe. We say we trust him but do we, really? In this chapter we read over and over that Jesus made a promise, told us how it would be accomplished and he kept that promise. Today we can trust him, too. He tells us his promises and he delivers! He is risen. He has conquered death and sin. We are his chosen people, wholly and dearly loved!

We can be like the disciples and spread the Gospel. Jesus appeared to them on the shore and shared breakfast with them. Then what did he do? He told them to “feed my sheep,” “go and make disciples” and “I am with you.” And today we can have breakfast with Jesus (daily devotions) and go out and make disciples, by the very life we live and the witness that we are to others. Jesus is with us! His is risen! He is risen, indeed!

Perspective 3- Pastor Phil

Easter is my favorite day of the year. The resurrection is the reason we celebrate and it happens to be the reason we go to church every week because we celebrate the resurrection. This chapter was a culmination of the earthly ministry of Jesus and he never disappoints.

I love how the chapter ends.

“Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written. But these are written that you might believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”

We have four gospels that shed light on the life of Jesus. We could easily assume that what they wrote is all there was about Jesus. But John’s Gospel tells us that there was soooo much more than what he wrote or even the other gospels wrote. He did other things, said other stuff…but they captured exactly what God wanted them to capture and conveyed what God wanted them to convey to the reader. The conclusion to all these things: these things were written so that you might believe. Through the Holy Spirit we are enlightened and can finally see the truth…by that faith we have life in Christ. Our God is a big God capable of doing things beyond our imagination or comprehension. Look no further than the resurrection to see that Jesus coming back shows God’s power and might. May you look upon the resurrection this year and witness God’s power in your life.

Perspective 4- Barb Miles

So much happens in this chapter of The Story.   One of many familiar stories was when all the disciples but Thomas had seen Jesus.  When the other disciples told him they had seen The Lord, Thomas replied with “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my fingers where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”  He’s called ‘Doubting Thomas’, right?

Later when the disciples were gathered Jesus appeared to them and he went over to Thomas.  Jesus asked Thomas to feel his side and his hands.  Jesus said “Stop doubting and believe.”

Can you imagine the look on Thomas’ face as he said “My Lord and my God!”  What feelings were rushing through his mind?  Was he still convincing himself, was he in awe, was he sorrowful for needing visual proof, did he question his faith?

Jesus’ response seemed like a critical statement “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”  Our faith has blessed us.

He Is Risen.  He Has Risen Indeed.

The Hour of Darkness (4 Perspectives)

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Perspective 1- Kelsey Rath

Washing your feet. We’ve all done it. (Hopefully)  But have you ever had it done by the one and only Jesus Christ? Many think of course not, but they are mistaken. Yes, God did not come over to literally wash your feet, but he did cleanse you clean. If you feel confused you’re not alone. The disciples felt the way that you do. They know that sense of confusion.

So he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. 5 After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.

He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”

 Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”

 “No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.”

Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”

“Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!”

Jesus answered, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.”  For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not everyone was clean.

When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.

You don’t literally need to be washed to be clean. God is how you get clean. Jesus took on flesh and blood to scrub you free of your sins. God is your washcloth, your bar of soap, or even your loofa. Whether it’s bad choices, lies, or other sins pulling you down, go to him for cleansing. Feel clean by the Lord your God.

Perspective 2- Pastor Ron

Jesus washed Judas’ feet!  I suppose I knew that before, but it never really hit me like it did when I read the chapter for this week.   Jesus knew that Judas was going to betray him and he still washed his feet.  Immediately after washing their feet he tells them that one of them will betray him.  So he knew and yet he still performed this incredible act of humbleness and servant hood.

Jesus didn’t come for some – he came for all.  When he said we should pray for our enemies Jesus goes one step further and serves his enemy.  And yet I don’t believe that Jesus would see Judas as his enemy.  The washing of his feet tells me that he saw Judas as he sees all people – a child of God that he had come to redeem.  If I continue that thought it means that Jesus came to redeem Pilate, the Pharisees, the High Priest, the crowd that sought his crucifixion, and more.  After all did he not pray that his father would forgive them as they nailed him to the cross?

I wonder if I inadvertently limit the love of God for us.  Oh, I don’t outright say that some are worthy of his grace while others are not.  Yet, the very fact that I was shocked at the revelation of Jesus washing Judas’ feet may betray a prejudice in my heart.  What about you, do you inadvertently limit God’s love?

Perspective 3- Dan Petrak 

Perspective 4- Barb Miles

The last hours of Jesus life on earth were filled with His preparation to go to be with His Father in heaven.  But His preparation did not receive much support from His disciples.  He was betrayed and questioned beyond expectations when He shared what was to be.

Jesus washed all of his disciples feet and then told them to wash each others feet. He said “no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than one who sent him.”

Jesus told the disciples about his prediction of his betrayal, only to be questioned by  them as to who would Jesus’ betrayer.

“He comforted his confused disciples” by telling them that after he had left and prepared a place for them, he would come back and take them with him.”  After Thomas and Philip questioned him, Jesus again told them that these plans he talks of are not on his own authority.  Jesus says “Believe in me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me.”

I remember Jesus’ sacrifice for me.  I believe what Jesus did for me, and I feel blessed to know the Lord’s house is prepared for all believers.  In all I do and say, thank you Lord.

Jesus, the Son of God (4 Perspectives)

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Perspective 1- Pastor Ron

“Even after Jesus had performed so many signs in their presence, they still would not believe in him.”  (John 12:37)

Perhaps you have had the same thought that I have had – If we could see some undeniable miracles from Jesus it would be easier to convince the world about Him.  Certainly my neighbors would come to faith if wine started flowing out of the garden hose or I walked across the pool.  A dramatic miracle or two would be just the right thing to turn cold hearts into ones warmed by the love of God!

Apparently not, “Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1)  If faith were based upon a miracle here or there – it wouldn’t be faith.  Faith is being called into a relationship with Jesus where you love and trust Him above all else.

If the above is true, then what do we do with the passage that says after raising Lazarus from the dead, many put their faith in Him?  Perhaps this goes back to the parable of the sower from the last chapter.  Some seed falls upon rocky soil.  They quickly receive it, but since they have no root, they last only a short time.  When trouble comes, they fall away.  It is not long after the raising of Lazarus that Jesus is arrested and tried by Pilot.  How many in the crowd shouting crucify Him were there when He raised Lazarus?  Some perhaps, but maybe not all.

In the end, it is God who calls people to faith.  People have the incredible power to refuse that call.  We, as followers of Jesus, must continue to give the Spirit the opportunity to work on the hearts of our friends and neighbors—always remembering it is God who will call them to faith, being through your words or through a modern-day miracle.  God uses whatever method He deems appropriate for each person.

Perspective 2- Barb Miles

Jesus told His disciples about his future multiple times but at what point did they really understand what He was saying?  When Jesus was asking His disciples “Who do people say I am?”, Jesus told them the Son of Man would be killed and rise again.  But Peter took Jesus aside and rebuked Him.

Nearing the time of Jesus capture, they were heading into Jerusalem.  Jesus told the disciples again the Son of Man would be delivered over to the chief priests, and He would be condemned to death but rise three days later.

After Jesus had been in Jerusalem teaching, He and the disciples heard a voice from heaven, and Jesus told them the time had come for judgment on the world.  Still, the disciples did not understand or believe what was soon to happen.

How many times in a conversation have we heard someone speak, nodded our heads as if we understood and then went on?  Is this how the disciples felt?  They heard what He had said, but at what time did they really understand?

Perspective 3- Laura Rath

In this week’s chapter, we read the story of the man who ran to Jesus, fell on his knees, and asked Him what he needed to do to inherit eternal life. The man knew the Commandments, and told Jesus he’s obeyed them since he was a boy.

“Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.”

The man was obedient in keeping the law and sincerely wanted to know what else he should do. But at the mention of giving away his wealth, the man was disappointed and left. He didn’t ask questions. He didn’t think about it. It seems that he already knew he either couldn’t do it, or wouldn’t.

It made me wonder…what separates me from God, and would I give it up if He asked me to?

How about you? Is there something you would struggle with giving up if God asked you to?

Perspective 4- Dan Petrak

No Ordinary Man (4 Perspectives)

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Perspective 1- Barb Miles 

One of the discussion questions for this chapter is “Why did Jesus use parables as a way to teach people.”  Using parables to help us apply God’s word brings it down to me as my “Lower Story.” An example is in Jesus’ sermon where he talked about how we should act when “Giving to the Needy”, we as a church are led by members to see and hear where the needs in our community lie.  So we silently walk into the narthex with our contributions for the week.  There is no tally of who is giving what or how much.  Jesus does not want us to be boastful in our mission work. He knows what we have done and that is sufficient.

Between Jesus teaching us with parables and his personal ministry of healing to any one with a need, and His example of taking His own time to be silent in prayer, we have been given many ways to look at how we use our time each day and let His word lead us.  I am thankful for Jesus knowing my needs.

Lord Jesus, for all You are and do, thank you.  Amen.

Perspective 2- Dan Petrak 

Perspective 3- Pastor Ron 

Mark 4:33 – “With many similar parables Jesus spoke the word to them, as much as they could understand”

I had never really paid attention to that verse before, but now that it has my attention I wonder how much more Jesus wanted to tell them.  It leaves the reader with the impression that Jesus had lots more to tell them, but they just couldn’t handle any more at the moment.  His teaching was so radically different from what they had been hearing from the religious leaders of the day that they could only take in so much at a time.   I wonder if Jesus was ever anxious about having enough time to teach the disciples everything?  I wonder how much more He would have taught if he had four years with them instead of just three?

Maybe the most significant implication to my new-found attention on this verse is the implication for me.  How much more does Jesus want to teach me, but he has to dole it out judicially because, after all, I can only take in so much at a time.

Perspective 4- Pastor Phil 

I love the pursuit of exploration. We are invited to see, maybe for the first time, who this guy Jesus is. Last week we did see that he is no ordinary man when he was baptized and led into the desert to be tempted. But, what I really love about the chapter this week is we get to see the essence of Jesus ministry, the very core of who he is and what he came to do.

The first part of the chapter highlights his teaching, as he spoke in parables to communicate his message that people often didn’t understand. He also spoke very plainly to them in the case of the Sermon on the Mount. His message was clear and people were amazed at his understanding as he taught with authority. Was Jesus just a great teacher? No, he was a great teacher but the second half of the chapter shows us that he is soooo much more. He showed that he had command over the wind and waves and was able to heal people of various illnesses and drive demons out of people. This led his disciples to proclaim that this man must be the Son of God.

Who is this man to you? Just a great teacher, just a great miracle worker…or is he soooo much more? May the Holy Spirit lead us to see the truth as we read and explore who this man Jesus is.

Jesus’ Ministry Begins (4 Perspectives)

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Perspective 1- Kelsey and Laura Rath (Mother/Daughter Duo)

Have you ever faced temptation?

Jesus did here on earth. After having fasted for 40 days in the desert, the devil tempted Jesus to change stones into bread. Even though He was hungry, Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

Jesus relied on His Father and resisted temptation. Do you turn to God when you’re tempted, or do you rely on your own strength to resist, and sometimes give in?

God understands temptation. He knows what we go through when we’re trying to resist and do what’s right in His eyes. He knows because He experienced it here on earth.

Perspective 2-Pastor Ron

The overall theme of the chapter this week is the fact that Jesus is no ordinary man.  He is a man, but certainly not like any other man, because He is, in fact, God also.   The pages are filled with Jesus performing incredible miracles and great acts of compassion.

One particular incident recorded in this chapter was the topic of a short discussion I had this week with Rev. Dr. Bob Newton. Rev. Newton is a District president in our Synod and I was with him at a meeting the early part of this week. He brought a new angle to this story that I had not thought of before. I had forgotten it was in this chapter until I read it in the airport waiting for my flight to return home. The incident? The women at the well.

Much has been made of the fact that Jesus spoke to the woman at the well, particularly because she was a Samaritan, and Jews do not associate with Samaritans. Much has been made out of the fact that she lived in shame, thus she was at the well in the heat of the day. The shame has been associated with the fact that she has had 5 husbands and we conclude that she is some kind of woman of ill repute. Yet, women of ill repute don’t get married! So what is her shame and why has she had 5 husbands. The clue comes in the fact that there is no mention of her having children.

The culture of day was such that if a woman was barren, she was not considered to have any value. It was commonplace for a man to divorce a woman who could give him no children. Could it be that 5 men had divorced her because she could not have children? Could her shame be that she has no children therefore is not welcome at the well with the other women? Maybe the reason she is not married now is she has found a man who will at least offer her a roof over her head, but he will not give her his name.

The story takes on a whole new look. Perhaps for the first time, or at least the first time in a long time, a man is talking respectfully to her. Jesus offers no words of rebuke to this woman, instead he offers the living water of the Gospel. She tells the town not that this Jesus called her out and condemned her, but instead says, “Come see a man who told me everything that I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?”

Indeed He is the Messiah. The Messiah who knows everything you ever did. Who has not come to condemn the world, but to save it.

Perspective 3-Barb Miles

As I read the Bible references to this chapter I realized just how many times Jesus came into so many different situations where a crowd had gathered.  So many had questions about who he was and why was he was there.  Jesus did not limit his ministry to those who were well dressed, he ministered to all; children, women, people with deformities, and on and on.  There was no criteria for who he would witness to or heal.  Beyond His powers of healing, He also dined with tax collectors and sinners who were not popular people.  Jesus said when questioned about his dinner companions “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.  I have not come to call the righteous, but the sinners.”

Another point brought to my attention was how many times Jesus went away to pray in solitude.  I have been reminded in my reading and studying to set quiet time in prayer.  It looks like I have just been reminded of that very priority.  Jesus felt regenerated and ready to again go on for the day.  What a role model!

One other contrast I found in the Bible references for this chapter was that Jesus started selecting his disciples from men who he observed fishing.  I wondered if the qualities of a fisherman that would be patient, quiet people, and able to look for new “spots”  for supplies of fish would be similar to the qualities of those who “fish for people to share God’s word?”   When we are looking for sharing our faith, we must be patient, quiet and good observers, and always be open to fish in new spots for witnessing.

Perspective 4-Dan Petrak

The Birth of the King (4 Perspectives)

No-Ordinary-Man-screen-one

Perspective 1- Kelsey Rath

Birth of baby Jesus. Everyone knows the story, but what we if dug deeper to find something that isn’t mentioned in the story. Such as all the stress and pressure that was on Mary. The stress came from being visited by Gabriel (the angel). I mean come on, it isn’t every day that a virgin or even anybody is visited by an angel. But also being told that you are going to give birth to Jesus, God’s only Son. I’d say the same thing Mary said, “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” That’s a good question but God managed to handle it. And Jesus was born.

Now the pressure is on Mary. She had a lot of weight on her shoulders.  Having to believe that she’d be alright since she’s never given birth, then getting into the trouble of traveling somewhere to have Him, and they finally get there and there is no room in the inn. What would happen if she said no, or just ignored the angel and went back inside her house. Would God choose another woman, or was Mary meant for the job of bringing God’s Son, the Holy One, the Messiah into the world? But God knew everything would turn out alright.

Perspective 2- Barb Miles 

I had never thought about reading the story of the birth of Jesus except at Christmas until our congregation started reading “The Story”.  I am usually incorporating the story of Jesus’ birth into the rest of our traditional Christmas activities.  Since we attend church regularly, I realized I rely on the church to “tell the story” for me, each year.  So reading the story of Jesus’ birth in the third week of February helped me focus on the events leading up to and after His birth.

Gabriel, an angel came to Mary, and told her she would conceive and bear a son, a son to be named Jesus; Mary was engaged to marry Joseph at that time; An angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, telling him to marry Mary, that her conception was from the Holy Spirit; Joseph and Mary became man and wife; Joseph and Mary traveled to Bethlehem to be counted in a census; Jesus was born in a humble setting there, in a stable; King Herod attempted to find where He had been born, he sent the Magi to find Him; After hiding for a while to escape Herod’s rule, Herod died; It is believed they traveled to the land of Israel but we have no more history of the first 12 years of His life; We remember the story of Jesus parents coming to Jerusalem for the Festival of the Passover, and leaving for home, at first not knowing Jesus wasn’t with them.  They retraced their steps after one day on the road to home, and found Jesus in the temple among the teachers, learning from them and asking questions.

Jesus’ mother cared for her son as all mothers do.  She felt honored to give birth to Him, she looked after Him, she was by His side when He died on the cross and she was present when He rose from the grave.

This King was a Savior who would deliver all of us.

Perspective 3- Pastor Ron

As I read the chapter for this week Jesus became more human to me.  Reading of the announcement of His birth to both Mary and Joseph, His birth, escape to Egypt, and finally the encounter at the Temple when He was 12 in chronological order brought a deeper sense of knowing His human side.  Although we know nothing of his childhood reading it in this fashion open up the imagination.  I can see the toddler Jesus and then the little boy.  One can imagine Him working side by side with His father.  Just about the time Joseph and Mary begin to forget His miraculous birth the 12-year-old Jesus is astounding those in the Temple courts.  I wonder if there were other times that they were reminded that their son was no ordinary boy?  I wonder what their thoughts were about Jesus and what He would one day accomplish.  Most of the time, though, I would guess they didn’t think anything other than this was their son.

I know that Jesus is God and I know that He is my savior, but I also take comfort in knowing that He was human.

Perspective 4- Dan Petrak

Dan’s video will be up on our Facebook page soon…

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