Welcome to the P.J. (Pastor J) Sound Theology Blog

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Who Could Imagine A King

The City of Bethlehem & the  it's gates and walls of current oppression.

Well, it's Christmas Eve and I imagine that most of us are more than ready for Christmas to come. As we celebrate this blessing of a day pause to remember how God introduced himself into the world through Jesus announcement and birth. Let's look:
Matthew 1:17-25

17 Thus there were fourteen generations in all from Abraham to David, fourteen from David to the exile to Babylon, and fourteen from the exile to the Messiah.
Joseph Accepts Jesus as His Son

18 This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged (entrusted) to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. 19 Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”
22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).24 When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife.25 But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus
Looking down on current day Bethlehem 

.Who could imagine a King (Whitney Houston song) would or even could be born in such a manner? What type of God would present it's presence in such a way? Only the one and true God would and could use such circumstances to present true hope,joy,love, and faith in a world so needy. Usually I use pictures that speak to the nature of this blog but that are not specific to me. Today I have supplied personal pictures of mine from Bethelem so that we can see even today the culture, promise and pain of the place that Jesus was born. A city in bondage and turmoil with so much love and faith. Who could imagine a king to be born here. Only the one true God. Glory be to God that the best blessings come from the most unexpected places. Glory to God for what you and I are not expecting to happen this Christmas that God has already put into place.
Christmas Eve outside of the Inn/ Barn Yard where Christ was born in Bethlehem 

Merry Christmas, Be Well... Love P.J.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Let's Make A Deal, the sacrifice of being obedient!

Today in the text from Judges some amazing and unprecedented things occur. Jephthah is preparing for battle and apparently despite the fact that he is a mighty warrior, Jephthah is afraid. He is so worried about his victory in battle against the Ammonites that he goes to God asking God, let's make a deal. It is very important to note that God does not ask to make a deal, vow or sacrifice of any kind. I believe Jephthah does in the text what many of us do in life when we find ourselves in uncomfortable or dangerous situations. We approach God with a list of deals and contract negations to help us out of our current situations. For example someone might say God if you get me out of this situation then I'll never curse again, I promise! 

We'll Jephthah's deal was even more clumsy, less throughout and haphazard than most. Jephthah say's God I will offer up to you in a sacrifice the first thing to come out of my house if you give us victory. 1. God did not ask for this deal. 2. Jephthah could have vowed anything but was thinking that an animal would come out of his home not his daughter. 3 We see in this text the pain and sacrifice of being truly obedient to God by both Jephthah and his daughter.

So what we should take away is to be careful of what we promise and vow to God because God fully expects us to be obedient. Also remember that if God wants us to enter into covenant over something God will let us know. Examples of this are Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, David, and of course Jesus who instituted sacraments that we honor and celebrate today. Jephthah reminds us all to think before we speak, hopefully limiting the times we put our foot in our mouth. Poor Jephthah, and poor Jephthah's daughter.

Judges 11:29-40 (NIV)

29 Then the Spirit of the Lord came on Jephthah. He crossed Gilead and Manasseh, passed through Mizpah of Gilead, and from there he advanced against the Ammonites. 30 And Jephthah made a vow to the Lord: “If you give the Ammonites into my hands, 31 whatever comes out of the door of my house to meet me when I return in triumph from the Ammonites will be the Lord’s, and I will sacrifice it as a burnt offering.
32 Then Jephthah went over to fight the Ammonites, and the Lord gave them into his hands.33 He devastated twenty towns from Aroer to the vicinity of Minnith, as far as Abel Keramim. Thus Israel subdued Ammon.
34 When Jephthah returned to his home in Mizpah, who should come out to meet him but his daughter, dancing to the sound of timbrels! She was an only child. Except for her he had neither son nor daughter. 35 When he saw her, he tore his clothes and cried, “Oh no, my daughter! You have brought me down and I am devastated. I have made a vow to the Lordthat I cannot break.
36 “My father,” she replied, “you have given your word to the Lord. Do to me just as you promised, now that the Lord has avenged you of your enemies, the Ammonites. 37 But grant me this one request,” she said. “Give me two months to roam the hills and weep with my friends, because I will never marry.”
38 “You may go,” he said. And he let her go for two months. She and her friends went into the hills and wept because she would never marry. 39 After the two months, she returned to her father, and he did to her as he had vowed. And she was a virgin.
From this comes the Israelite tradition 40 that each year the young women of Israel go out for four days to commemorate the daughter of Jephthah the Gileadite.

Dear God help us to trust in you and the gifts that you have given us, remind us to think before we speak and to hear your will in our lives. Amen.

Be Well.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

People under One God! The importance of the Shema for Christians

To hear the SHEMA sung go to click the link

Hello everyone, first I would like to apologize for my absence as New Kingdom Church endeavor's to read the Bible in 90 days the blog will become more theme centered instead of being purely devotional centered and therefore will not post daily again until after Christmas.  With that being said, starting now you can leave questions that you may have as well as a topic that you would like explained in upcoming blog post. All inquiries will be read and they will be picked at random for a response.

Today's topic is the Hebrew Scripture, or also known as the (Old Testament). We will look at the Torah and the Pentateuch, and yet still more closely the Shema. This is important especially for Christians because Christianity was birthed out of the Judaism faith and Hebrew people. (REMEMBER Jesus was not a Christian, indeed he was a Hebrew.)

Here we go on our Hebrew crash course:
* The Hebrew scripture is referred to as the Tanakh, an acronym of the first Hebrew letter of each of the Masoretic text's three traditional subdivisions. 

* The Torah  or Pentateuch refers to the first five books of the Hebrew scripture(Genesis - Deuteronomy).The word Pentateuch means five books. In Hebrew the Torah, means the instruction  and or the law.the law. Some also refer to the Pentateuch as the five books of Moses, because Moses is the main receiver of the word from God in the Torah.

* Genesis covers (the Creation, Sin, the Establishment of God's people).
   Exodus covers (Bondage, the Law and Deliverance).    
   Leviticus covers(the Priestly laws and all things that must be done in order to enable the  
   people to remain in the presence of God).
   Numbers covers (primarily numbering the military and counting the nations among tribes    
   in order to delegate work areas)
   Deuteronomy covers ( known as the second law, and covers three speeches of Moses that recover the events of the first four books and includes future instructions.

 All play a specified role in communicating the will of God for the people to the people. These books five books introduce Bible readers to God's divine will, the purpose for our creation and God's plans for us. Today's text is essential to the Jewish faith and is taken from Deuteronomy, let's look:

Deuteronomy 6New International Version (NIV)
Love the Lord Your God  6:4-9

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates.

The above text is part one of the Shema, this is a passage that Jesus would have recited twice daily if not more as he was a devout prayer. The Shema is a prayer that is a centerpiece of both the morning and evening Jewish worship/ prayer services. It reminds the people that God is the one and only true God."Hear, O Israel: the LORD our God, the LORD is one",  

Many Jews consider the Shema to be the most important part of the entire worship and prayer service. Many times observant Jews recite the Shema as their last words and are often the first verses taught to youth and children to memorize. As Christians we also should take pleasure in reading and praying on these words from Deuteronomy 6:4-9 because we also serve One God, the God of Moses. This prayer is a confession of whom we believe God to be and of our faithfulness to God always.

To hear the SHEMA sung go to click the link

Be well today, Love P.J.