More about Jethro, Moses’ Father-in-Law

In Exodus 18, Jethro counseled his son-in-law Moses about how he was leading Israel after they fled Egypt. But there is more depth to the story if you consider the rest of Jethro’s story:

 

Found in Translation

In a random survey by The Christian Chronicle, more than 1,100 readers responded to this question:  “What Bible version do you prefer to read?”

New International Version: 41.5%
New American Standard Version: 17.1%
New King James Version: 10.3%
English Standard Version: 9.5%
King James Version: 5.8 %
Revised Standard/New Revised Standard Version: 4.8 %
New Living Translation: 3.6%
Today’s New International Version: 2.3%
‘The Message’: 2.2%
Other: 2.2%
Holman Christian Standard Bible: 0.5%
Contemporary English Version: 0.4%
Common English Bible: 0.1%
New American Bible: 0.1%

 

Reading in the Ekklésia

NOTE:  This post was originally published as a bulletin article and on the merkelchurchofchrist.org blog

“ [Jesus] went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him.” Luke 4:16-17 (NIV)

The congregational reading of scriptures in synagogues was a foundational part of Jewish life when Jesus was growing up, a custom carried on in the early church of Christ. There were practical reasons for public reading the scriptures; because each copy was hand written (that’s what manuscript means), communities of believers had to share limited manuscripts or in some cases, like letters from Apostles, share with other communities.

The invention of the printing press and subsequent printing of the first Bible in the 1450s led to many positive advances in Christianity like the reformation movement and personal Bible study. However, the printed Bible did not change Paul’s instructions concerning the conduct of Timothy and the early church:

“…devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching.” 1 Timothy 4:13(NIV)

Beginning this Sunday we will incorporate scripture reading into our morning worship assembly (ekklésia). Like the early church we will hear the Word of God as one body and one heart. I encourage you to bring your Bibles and follow along as we begin reading the Gospel of John. We will be using New International Version which, according to a recent survey, is the translation most used in churches of Christ.

“Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.” Revelation 1:3 (NIV)

Shalom

Seeing God Clearly

Picture God in your mind…

If you’re like most of the people I’ve asked, you probably thought of some combination of a man in a gray beard floating in the clouds or a scowling judge glaring down from his judgment bench.  Both are wrong.  God has a presence in the world today, and how we see Him determines how we see ourselves and others.

When the Spirit of God descended into the Temple built by King Solomon the power was so great the priests couldn’t perform their ceremony (I Kings 8).  There was no doubt that God was present and the temple would be the dwelling place for God among His people.  In those days the temple was the center of the Israelites life and worship.  Their lives revolved around the presence of God in the Most Holy Place.  Then…

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14 NIV

Jesus is the Son of God, is God, and was His physical presence on this earth.  Jesus said, “But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself” (NIV).  He became the center of life and worship drawing everyone to Him.  From the moment Christ was crucified and the temple was torn in two everything changed.  God is no longer contained in one building or one group of people.  (John 12:32, Mark15:38)

Through Christ’s death and resurrection God is once again present in His temple, the center of life and worship.  Believers are God’s temple. We are His dwelling place through His Spirit.   When we clearly see God it will change how we see ourselves and how we see others.  (1 Corinthians 3:16-17, 6:19; 2 Corinthians 6:16)

  1. When we see the Spirit of God dwelling in ourselves it focuses our worship, actions and lives.  (1 John 3:9-10)
  2. When we see God in fellow Christians we are able to unconditionally love each other deeply (1 Peter 1:22, 4:8; 1 John 3:16-18)
  3. When Christians see God in each other we can join in unity and the body of Christ is lifted up to “draw all men to [Himself].” (Ephesians 2:18-22, 4:12-13)
  4. When Christians are built together as the temple of God we become God’s workers in His plan of redemption. (Ephesians 2:6-10)

How we see God determines how we see ourselves and others.  How we see ourselves and others determines how, through the unity of the Spirit, the work of God is accomplished.

We have work to do…