1. How do you introduce yourself to others? How does Paul introduce himself?
Like campfires? Enjoy the great outdoors? Like beautiful scenery? Then you are in for amazing journey: Hiking through Romans! Samuel Coleridge, speaking for many, said, “I think that the Epistle to the Romans is the most profound work in existence”(Table Talk [Oxford: Oxford university Press, n.d.], p. 232). And John Knox (not the Scot) said that it is “unquestionably the most important theological work ever written” (The Interpreter’s Bible, Vol. 9 [Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1954], p. 355).
We will actually begin on the road this Sunday with the Easter Story that we never hear on Easter! We will enjoy many side journeys, stop overs, unexpected events as well as spiritual surprises along the trail. You will need a pair of good walking shoes (already broken in) a journal, a Bible, and a willing heart. Paul is our guide, Romans is our map and Jesus is our destination. The rest is pure adventure! One thing is certain: You won’t be the same person when you get back.
It all happened spontaneously! No one sat down and decided to move, through politics or by the inner counsels of the mighty, to bring this about. It is indicative that a change was made in the councils of God. Somewhere in the invisible realms, where the cosmic battle of the ages is being fought, a blow was struck for liberty! No one ever expected it to happen! Over and over as people were interviewed they said, “I never believed this would happen in my day.” It was not only the common man who was surprised but statesmen, politicians, national leaders and even the military; everyone was wholly taken by wonder at this dramatic breakthrough.
That is how God works in our lives- behind the scenes, slowing melting the walls of our hearts- bitterness, apathy, discouragement melting away just as the Berlin Wall came down. So if the Wall, why not you? Are your feelings really that mighty that you can keep God out? Really? Maybe that’s why Jesus went to Jericho to be tempted. Didn’t they have some wall there too? +Pastor Ken
Are we all tempted in the same ways? Most likely yes, which is why Jesus faced and overcame “the common temptations” we all face: giving up, impatience, putting success before God and doubting God’s love for us. He showed us that both He and “Him in us” can overcome any temptation we will face. “Christ in us- That really is the missing link isn’t it? That is why therapy and treatment centers have limited success because they operate outside of the fact of “Him in us” which is the Holy Spirit- a Christ filled life. Knowing this we can be confident that wherever we go as long as we operate with a “Him in us” we can overcome any temptation we are up against. Pretty cool, right? +Pastor Ken
I’ve done it, you’ve done it, we all have done it! Our private penance for Lent. The one or two things that we have set aside for 40 days to make Lent “a thing”. So this year we are saying keep the chocolate and go about this in an entirely different way- give up something bad for Lent. That is the challenge. It’s always your choice so here are a few examples: envy, jealousy, self-pity, apathy, procrastination, gossip, resentment, blame-shifting, pettiness, negative thinking- things that contaminate, infect or poison our souls. The hope is that what takes their place is something really great that will change our outlook and overhaul our spirit for the rest of the year. You have the book- let the sunlight in through Christ our Savior. See you on the open road to Jerusalem. +Pastor Ken
Sometimes the storm comes in first. Imagine yourself in the small boat on the coastline. Are you coming toward shore or are you embarking on a new journey? Not all journeys begin on still waters. “Then we journeyed from the river Ahava on the twelfth of the first month to go to Jerusalem; and the hand of our God was over us, and He delivered us from the hand of the enemy and the ambushes by the way.” Ezra 8.31
Our journey is also to Jerusalem: 40 days and nights of adventure, little food, sleepless nights and danger. The Lord is with us, will guide us and keep us.
Welcome aboard! +Pastor Ken
The Revelation of St John
The SELECTED, OBSCURE/ECLECTIC even SCARY Writings of St John the Divine
brought to you by The Soup Priest
CLASS LOGISTICS Wednesdays, 6p-7p Rygh Hall
INSTRUCTOR Pastor Ken, 213.399.9257 INSTRUCTOR’S KITCHEN HOURS 4-6 p
COURSE DESCRIPTION It’s about healthy eating for our bodies and spirit. Come and dine.
REVELATION 7.1– 8
Sealing God’s People
1After this I saw four angels, standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth to stop any wind from blowing on earth, or on the sea, or on any tree. 2And I saw another angel coming up from the east, holding the seal of the living God. He shouted out in a loud voice to the four angels who had responsibility for harming the earth and the sea. 3‘Don’t harm the earth just yet,’ he shouted, ‘or the sea, or the trees. Don’t do it until we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads.’ 4I heard the number of the people who were sealed: it was a hundred and forty-four thousand who were sealed from all the tribes of the children of Israel. 5Twelve thousand were sealed from the tribe of Judah, twelve thousand from the tribe of Reuben, twelve thousand from the tribe of Gad, 6twelve thousand from the tribe of Asher, twelve thousand from the tribe of Naphtali, twelve thousand from the tribe of Manasseh, 7twelve thousand from the tribe of Simeon, twelve thousand from the tribe of Levi, twelve thousand from the tribe of Issachar, 8twelve thousand from the tribe of Zebulun, twelve thousand from the tribe of Joseph and twelve thousand from the tribe of Benjamin. That is the number that were sealed.
- Why do you think John keeps us in suspense, a plan he will play more than once more. Like the souls under the altar, we must wait and watch while something else happens first?
- What is a seal?
- Is there another kind of seal? What would its purpose be?
- Can people be sealed? Can you think of some examples?
- God’s people need to be reassured that they will come safely through; how is that done?
- How and why is the 144,000 broken down?
- Can you think of ways the soil is prepared for new growth each year?
REVELATION 7.9– 17
The Great Rescue
9After this I looked, and lo and behold a huge gathering which nobody could possibly count, from every nation and tribe and people and language. They were standing in front of the throne, and in front of the lamb. They were dressed in white robes, holding palm branches in their hands. 10They were shouting out at the tops of their voices, ‘Salvation belongs to our God, to the one who sits on the throne, and to the lamb!’ 11All the angels who were standing around the throne and the elders and the four creatures fell down on their faces before the throne and worshipped God. 12‘Yes, Amen!’ they were saying. ‘Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanks and honour and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever! Amen!’ 13One of the elders spoke to me. ‘Who are these people dressed all in white?’ he asked. ‘Where have they come from?’ 14‘Sir,’ I replied, ‘you know!’ ‘These are the ones’, he said, ‘who have come out of the great suffering. They have washed their clothes and made them white in the blood of the lamb. 15That is why they are there in front of God’s throne, serving him day and night in his temple. The one who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence. 16They will never be hungry again, or thirsty again. The sun will not scorch them, nor will any fierce heat. 17The lamb, who is in the midst of the throne, will be their shepherd. He will lead them to springs of running water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.’
- Have you had the experience of both a dream and a nightmare? How do you explain it?
- How can we separate suffering from healing?
- Why can’t this new group be numbered?
- What are they wearing and holding?
- Who are these people?
- Why do we need to know?
- What is the amazing role reversal?
- What is the true unfolding of God beginning to look like?
***Who can we include in our prayers this week?
After reading Jeremiah 29: 1-14 take this into account: In 586 B.C. Jerusalem was destroyed…wiped clean like you would hire a bulldozer to wipe out a lot before you wanted to build a house on it. The poor were left behind…shepherds, fishermen small town farmers. The leaders, the artists, the scribes, the craftsmen were taken to Babylon. God spoke to Jeremiah to talk to those who were taken to Babylon and give them instruction.
With that in mind, pray through these questions either alone or with someone else.
1. What specific instructions are given in verses 4-7? How would you react if you were with these people?
2. Think about the idea of prospering. What do verses 7 and 11 have to do with each other? How does prosperity of the city relate to prospering you? Do you think along these terms? Why or why not?
3. What was the purpose of the exile? In verses 11-14, why do you think they were included in the letter?
If you are eager to get a head start on our lent study begin here: Pray for our City every day
What is our city? We will cover that soon…
Read the Message to the Exiles
Jeremiah 29. 1-14 Now these are the words of the letter which Jeremiah the prophet sent from Jerusalem to the rest of the elders of the exile, the priests, the prophets and all the people whom Nebuchadnezzar had taken into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon. 2 (This was after King Jeconiah and the queen mother, the court officials, the princes of Judah and Jerusalem, the craftsmen and the smiths had departed from Jerusalem.) 3 The letter was sent by the hand of Elasah the son of Shaphan, and Gemariah the son of Hilkiah, whom Zedekiah king of Judah sent to Babylon to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, saying, 4 “Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon, 5 ‘Build houses and live in them; and plant gardens and eat their produce. 6 Take wives and become the fathers of sons and daughters, and take wives for your sons and give your daughters to husbands, that they may bear sons and daughters; and multiply there and do not decrease. 7 Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf; for in its [d]welfare you will have welfare.’ 8 For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, ‘Do not let your prophets who are in your midst and your diviners deceive you, and do not listen to [f]the dreams which they dream. 9 For they prophesy falsely to you in My name; I have not sent them,’ declares the Lord.
10 “For thus says the Lord, ‘When seventy years have been completed for Babylon, I will visit you and fulfill My good word to you, to bring you back to this place. 11 For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,’ declares the Lord, ‘and I will restore your fortunes and will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you,’ declares the Lord, ‘and I will bring you back to the place from where I sent you into exile.’
Meditate on this reading and take it apart line by line, word by word. Did I say pray for our city?
You are invited to a very cool, urban study that focuses on how Grace can change our hearts, our community and our world. It can be used at lunchtime, at work, at school or in the evening as a personal devotion: just you and Jesus which is a great way to spend part of your day. It can be followed along with as small group study you might be already involved in: a mom’s prayer group, a small bible study you are part of or even a men’s group at coffee once a week. You could even use this as part of your family table talk once a week. You can also join us each Wednesday night at 6:00 p.m.for dinner and study starting February 18 (during lent) at 330 Palos Verdes Blvd in Redondo Beach. You are in charge. What makes a great devotion or group study is not a book with the answers- it is wrestling with good questions. We will provide the questions that will rock your world. Tim Keller is one of our co-pilots: Jesus of course, is our pilot. Session one opens with our city, our home our world. The last session ends with our eternal city, our eternal home and the world to come. The sessions In between work us through “how grace changes everything.” Come and see. God Loves L A +Pastor Ken