1529MartinLuther

The 500 year anniversary of the Reformation takes place this year. The beginning of the Reformation is marked by Martin Luther posting 95 theses (debate points) on the church door (used as a bulletin board) of the Wittenberg Castle Church on October 31, 1517. From this point on the Reformation swept through Europe and changed world history. Among other things, the influence of the Reformation basically moved society from the Medieval to the Modern era.

We will spend six weeks in September and October learning about Luther and how he was used by God to transform the way people live out their faith in church and their daily lives. We will study Luther’s impact, along with other key figures and events. The series will finish with a special movie night,  a screening of Rick Steve’s popular TV account: Luther and the Reformation.

This will be a time for us to get to know each other better, enjoy fellowship, and explore key elements of how we are all impacted by Martin Luther and the Reformation. You don’t want to miss this!

Martin Luther and The Reformation

Thursday Nights 6:30-8 pm

study led by Pastor Dana

Bring food to share, beverages provided

September 7 The Stormy Monk

September 14 The Protesting Professor

September 21 Trouble, Trouble, Trouble

September 28 Heretics Trial

October 5 Martin Luther: A Legacy

October 12 Special Movie Night!

Rick Steves: Luther and The Reformation

FYI: Each session will be an independent study, so don’t worry if you have to miss.

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John 6

47 “I tell you the truth, anyone who believes has eternal life. 48 Yes, I am the bread of life! 49 Your ancestors ate manna in the wilderness, but they all died. 50 Anyone who eats the bread from heaven, however, will never die. 51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live forever; and this bread, which I will offer so the world may live, is my flesh.”

Jesus is getting deep here. He is having a debate with the Jewish leaders at Passover time. He uses passover themed teaching to show that he is the Messiah come from God. Jesus is using symbolism to speak of his place as God coming to earth and fulfilling God’s plan of using Israel to save the world.

“Anyone who believes has eternal life.” That is anyone who is believing what Jesus is saying about himself. He is using the phrase “I Am” to describe himself. This is the name God reveals is his own name. So, Jesus is saying, “I am God,” when he uses phrases that begin with “I am.”

48 Yes, I am the bread of life! 49 Your ancestors ate manna in the wilderness, but they all died. 50 Anyone who eats the bread from heaven, however, will never die. 51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live forever; and this bread, which I will offer so the world may live, is my flesh.”

The bread of Passover is a theme of God’s presence with his people as they are escaping from Egypt in the Exodus. This is the pivotal event of the whole Old Testament. Then a form of bread, Manna, miraculously rains from the skies to feed the Israelites in their wilderness wanderings after they have left Egypt. But, the manna only lasts day to day and is a temporary solution to their hunger. Jesus is saying he is the real bread who comes from God and if anyone eats him they will live forever. And then he uses the word, “flesh.”

The word for “eat” here is literally our word, “Gnaw” or “Munch on.” If you gnaw on this flesh you will love forever. Better than manna.

ME

How many “I am” sayings do you remember? Which has the most meaning to you?

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As it is written in the Scriptures, ‘They will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me.

There we have it. God has decided all along to make all things new. God has chosen to reveal himself. You can’t use the old human ways of thinking to come to God.

Let’s look at some human ways of understanding God.

  1. God is like a secret treasure to be discovered by only a few wise and special people.
  2. God is a mysterious vindictive force who demands our worship and waits for us to do something wrong so he can punish us.
  3. God is at our beck and call and will do whatever we want him to do for us because we deserve it.
  4. God is like an extremely doting and permissive parent who approves of everything we do no matter how it affects us or other people.
  5. God is a mystery we can’t understand at all; we just somehow know he exists.

Here are responses to these.

1. God is not some secret treasure that only a few special people will discover. It is God himself who is teaching us to follow his ways. It is Jesus whom God sends to make the new things clear. And as we have seen throughout history, people from all cultures and all walks of life know Jesus as Lord.

2. God is open to all to freely receive his love.

3. God loves us because of who he is, not because of who we are.

4. God designs life to be lived his way. When we identify as his children we obey him and ultimately we flourish. Our rebellion doesn’t bring blessing for us and for others. To go against his design and seek our identity from any other means leads us to destruction.

5. God reveals himself repeatedly through those who love Jesus and follow him.

You see when you follow the teachings of God, you end up with Jesus.

ME

When you disagree with Jesus, look for ways you are wrong.

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Then the people began to murmur in disagreement because he had said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” They said, “Isn’t this Jesus, the son of Joseph? We know his father and mother. How can he say, ‘I came down from heaven’?”

But Jesus replied, “Stop complaining about what I said. For no one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them to me, and at the last day I will raise them up.

Here is dilemma for the Judaeans. The Messiah who is sent by God is once and for all. Not like anyone else. If Jesus is the true Messiah, there will not be another Messiah sent later. This is not like some kind of pro sports deal. You will receive one Messiah now, and one to be named later. Either believe in Jesus or don’t. But you can’t use human standards to judge God’s work.

It is like the Judaeans are saying Jesus doesn’t have the credentials to be Messiah. Either he can’t be human, or he can’t come from humble origins.

‘We know his parents Joseph and Mary.’

This sounds like they are questioning how Jesus can be from God if he is born of human parents. Or they are questioning the worthiness of having human parents like Joseph and Mary.

Yet, their own Scripture, the Old Testament, is filled with warnings that God’s people will doubt the Messiah. Like this passage from Isaiah 53.

Who has believed our message?

    To whom has the Lord revealed his powerful arm?

My servant grew up in the Lord’s presence like a tender green shoot,

    like a root in dry ground.

There was nothing beautiful or majestic about his appearance,

    nothing to attract us to him.There was nothing beautiful or majestic about his appearance,

    nothing to attract us to him.

So, by doubting, the Judaeans are actually themselves fulfilling prophesies from their own Scripture!

Another way of thinking about this is their own doubts should lead them to realize Jesus is the one.

ME

We don’t follow blind faith. When you don’t have faith in the God of Jesus Christ you have blind non-faith.

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For I have come down from heaven to do the will of God who sent me, not to do my own will.

Jesus will draw all people to himself. It is not what we have done or have not done that joins us to Jesus. God’s people are those who realize they are connected and don’t reject what Jesus has to offer.

This is how a God-made man or a God-made woman functions.

We don’t follow our dreams. We follow God’s dream for us. That we know and trust in his Son Jesus. We don’t live our lives with passion. Not unless what we are passionate about is to do the will of God. Jesus is our model.

Even Jesus in not a self-made man, he is man of God who comes to earth to do God’s will, not his own.

And God’s will has to do with us.

ME

How is Jesus a good model for you?

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But you haven’t believed in me even though you have seen me. However, those the Father has given me will come to me, and I will never reject them.

I have always been fascinated by the stories of those who have achieved great wealth or influence coming from humble beginnings. Do you remember this picture? The son of a candle maker who goes to the big city to make something out of himself? Does this picture help? Sure enough it is Ben Franklin. One of the key architects of this great experiment we call America.

Thinking about Ben Franklin a phrase comes to mind. The self-made man. Someone who follows his dreams and lives life with passion and hard work. I think of Sam Walton, who would be the richest man in the world by far today if he were still alive. Walton returned from serving in the army in WWII and took money he had saved to buy a Ben Franklin 5 and Dime store. Interesting. Well, he built a few other stores, as well, didn’t he?

Or take Larry Ellison, founder of Oracle, the sixth richest man in the world, who was born of an unwed mother and shipped off to his aunt and uncle to be raised in a tiny apartment in Chicago. When his adoptive mother died he dropped out of college and started an database company, Oracle, with $2000. Now if you go to Maui and look out over to the island of Lanai, realize Larry Ellison owns that whole island!

So what exactly is a self-made man? I don’t know because I have never met one. Actually it’s all a myth. It doesn’t make any difference what your background or upbringing is, how hard you work, how persistent you are, the fortune you make, you are not self-made.

You are God-made.

You have never met anyone who made themselves. We are God-made men and women.  God-made. You and the person sitting next to you. We are all special in this way. The only way that really counts. God-made. We are sons and daughters of God, and we are special like any other person who realizes they are not special in the traditional way of looking at it. We are not self-made. We didn’t do anything to deserve our existence except we do exist. We thank God for our existence and we thank him for deciding we are his children.

If only it was this easy.

Since wandering in the wilderness, God’s people, and I include us here, have acted like we are special and God owes us something. We act as if we instinctively know God should do what we want him to do. Now, add to this another layer, God comes to earth specifically in Jesus.

ME

Name five people who have had a strong influence in your life.