The Prayer of Jabez – July 15, 2018 – 1 Chronicles 4: 9 – 10

This is my first time preaching from the book of 1 Chronicles. It is in the Old Testament. In the Christian Bible, the book is placed after 1 and 2 Kings. It is often skipped over because much of the material is similar to Ezra, Nehemiah and Zechariah. It is not a text read in the Revised Common Lectionary or the Narrative Lectionary. However, in the Jewish Bible, let’s remember these are Jewish texts, 1 and 2 Chronicles is placed at the end of the Bible, because they are their own work. 1 and 2 Chronicles is written much later than the other books and has a different intent, so should be read differently.

Another reason it is often skipped over is that the first 9 chapters of the 29-chapter book are genealogies. Boring! Who wants to read genealogies? 9 chapters worth? But, they’re significant. They track the families from Adam to Abraham, Abraham to Jacob, Jacob through the tribe of Judah, King David and King Solomon and their sons, descendants of the 12 tribes, the Priestly families and the Levitical families and the family of King Saul. These were families before the Exile of Israel to the empires that conquered them. Chapter 9 is the important chapter. Chapter 9 accounts for the families that lived in Jerusalem AFTER the Exile, AFTER the Israelites returned to their homeland.

Tucked in those 9 chapters are 2 verses about a man named Jabez. I’d normally like to read a verse in context, as I said is important last week; however, reading several verses of a chapter that these 2 verses are nestled in would require me to read roughly 35 Hebrew names. I would either dazzle you with my skill at speaking Hebrew or butcher those names, so I’ll just read the 2 verses about Jabez. Continue reading

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The Victor – July 8, 2018 – Isaiah 41: 1 – 10

We all have favorite verses that provide us comfort or encourage us. Many of the Scriptures suggested for this summer sermon series are such ones that give us hope. Before getting too far in this series, I want to take the time to talk about the importance of reading Bible verses in their context. The way we read a Scripture verse may be out of context and may not mean what we think it means. I’ll use Philippians 4:13 for example: I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.

Let’s say you’re a UK basketball player and you’re in the final minute of a tied NCAA Final Four game. Saying: I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength while attempting a free throw that you hope will win the game is not appropriate. The kind of strength Paul writes about in Philippians 4:13 has nothing to do with basketball, sports or physical endurance. Continue reading

Overflowing Blessings – June 3, 2018 – Malachi 3: 8 – 18

What are those days we look forward to? The day we get our driver’s license, our high school graduation, our 21st birthday, our wedding day, the birth of our children, our 50th birthday, our 50th wedding anniversary, the birth of our grandchildren. Those are all days we look forward to, we anticipate the blessing of the day. We plan parties to celebrate the day.

I’ve heard many say that they look forward to the day of the Lord’s coming as if it will be a day of celebration. For the Old Testament prophets of Judaism, the day of the Lord’s coming would be a day to fear, not to anticipate with joy. The day is a day of judgment, not necessarily the fulfillment of hope, peace and reconciliation. Malachi’s words about the Lord’s coming are the final words of the Old Testament and he does not offer much good news about the day of the Lord’s coming.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer writes of this theme of judgment in the Lord’s coming in an Advent sermon he preached in 1928: Continue reading