Entries by Michael Soderling

Lesson 29: Why Did Jesus Weep? in Dr Fountain’s: the Kingdom of God, What is it?

as always, I recommend buying this book and reading the full text. I summarize in many places, what I think are the most important points Dr Fountain wanted to make. Reading this week: John 11:1-44 The raising of Lazarus from the dead. Why did Jesus weep? Why didn’t he have a bit of a grin on his face knowing that Mary and Martha would soon be rejoicing as their brother walked forth from the cave? The disciples had witnessed Jesus healing people of diseases and making them whole. But now He was going to show His power over death. I (Dr Fountain) believe that here Jesus saw the frightful effects death has on the living. The fear of death is dreadful and can destroy people. The agony when death separates husband and wife, father or mother and child, close friends or relatives, is a terrible thing. When Jesus saw the agony reflected in the faces of the mourners whom He loved, He was overcome with anger – anger at death itself and how it destroys human relationships. He was also deeply moved with compassion for the mourners. That’s why Jesus wept. He weeps for me and the countless host of brothers and sisters from whom someone dear has been torn away from them by physical death. (Dr Fountain had recently lost his beloved wife, Miriam, after a long battle with cancer) Knowing that Jesus knows my (our) pain in the depths of His spirit helps me/us to know that IRead the full article..

The Community of Jesus. Week 28 from “The Kingdom of God: What is it?” by Dr Dan Fountain

Readings for this lesson: Matthew 16:13-28, Mark 8:27-38, Luke 9:18-27 These 3 passages describe the same conversation between Jesus and His disciples though each is unique. Jesus knew the end of His earthly ministry was near and wanted to be sure His disciples were prepared and that they understood who He was. The location was important in that the major religions of the western world were represented there. Jesus announced the beginning of the Church here to make clear that it is the Church for the whole world. The Ecclesia – the gathering of God’s people – would include people of the whole world and replace the pantheons of the world with the foundational truth that Jesus the Messiah is King of kings and Lord of lords. With His disciples He wanted to: affirm to them His messianic identity provide a community structure for His followers to carry on the work prepare them for the difficult events of the next weeks that were essential for the establishment of the Kingdom among people describe what would be required of them The Community of Jesus: Identity and responsibilities the faith expressed by Peter would be the foundation of the Church the Church would prevail over all the forces of evil by the power of God operating through the faith of His people. Hell would not be able to withstand it. It is crucial to understand that we are to be on the offensive, fighting with the power of the spirit of JesusRead the full article..

The Parable of the Hidden Treasure: Week 25 in “The Kingdom of God: What is it” by Dr Dan Fountain

Reading is very brief for today: Matthew 13:44. The parable of the hidden treasure. “The kingdom of heaven is like something precious buried in a field, which a man found and hid again; then in his joy he goes and sells all he has and buys that field.” This is an interesting parable for its brevity and for what it does not explain. Dr Fountain states it relates to a man who was looking for something he did not have, (implied) otherwise why was he searching, and when he found this treasure hid it again and liquidated his assets in order to purchase the field. It would seem this must have been something that could not be easily removed or he could have simply taken it with him when he found it. But he had to do something in order to complete the purchase of what he believed was an inestimable treasure. Dr Fountain posits that this man was not satisfied with his present life and worldview. (or at least with the outworking of his worldview) That he was looking for something better to fulfill his life. The hidden treasure is eternal life, a deep, personal relationship with God that lasts forever. The field thus represents the Kingdom of God, a way of life radically different from the man’s old way of life. And this man knows that he cannot get the treasure without leaving his old kingdom, ‘buying’ the new kingdom, and living under the rule of God. WeRead the full article..

Why and How Did Jesus Heal Sick Persons?: Week 24 in “The Kingdom of God: What Is It?” by Dan Fountain

Related reading: Mark 1:29-45, Matthew 15:29-31 Dr Fountain states that “The healing of sick people played a prominent role in the ministry of Jesus. For Jesus, healing, teaching, and preaching went together. I would go so far as to state that for Jesus, preaching, discipling, teaching, delivering people from demons and curing disease were a seamless part of His ministry. (He did all these in the first 24 hours of His ministry as related in the First Chapter of Mark) Dr Fountain used to refer to this passage in Mark (it was a passage he referred to frequently) as the first open to all “general” clinic in written history. He even states this is when health care as we know it began! The Matthew passage is a bit different in that it says nothing about Jesus doing any preaching or teaching (though we cannot be absolutely certain of this) but that He spent 3 days healing people of all kinds of dis-eases. This He taught to His followers so that they too could save people from the things that destroy life and that mar God’s image in us. The early Church did indeed carry on this important ministry and became know as a healing community. Rodney Stark in his 1996 work “The Rise of Christianity” explains how this aided in the relatively rapid expansion of the early Church. What was so unique to this ministry ushered in by a crucified and risen Savior? It was certainly uniquely powerful in theRead the full article..

Discipline in the Kingdom of God: Week 23 in “The Kingdom of God, what is it? by Dr Dan Fountain

as always I recommend you buy the book this series is based on. Reading this week is Matthew 5, 6, and 7. I think Matthew 5 (specifically what is referred to as the Beatitudes) is one of the most beloved sections of the NT. If anything represents what non-Christians love about Jesus and His ministry it is what he teaches in Matt 5: 3-12. Blessed are the poor in spirit, those who mourn, and those who are gentle. As are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness and those who are merciful. The pure in heart and the peacemakers, etc. These are characteristics we all can agree are worthy of our pursuit. But that is just the beginning of Jesus’ teaching in these 3 chapters. It is one continual sermon. Dr Fountain simply and effectively outlines things for us: Matthew 5:3-12 – attitudes. We are to be : without pretension spiritually, recognizing our dependence on God aware of our sinful condition humble, accepting the role the Lord has given us no matter what it is driven to conform to God’s daily requirements for us, and to live in a right relationship with Him and with those around us merciful, showing kindness and compassion without prejudice pure in heart, being obedient to Him in all things peacemakers, bringers of shalom/peace willing to endure abuse for His names sake Matthew 5:13-48 being disciplined in living a Kingdom life we bring light into dark places through good works that have a saving effectRead the full article..

Are Idols, Magic and Curses Real? Week 19 in “The Kingdom of God: What is it?” by Dan Fountain

Reading for today: Exodus 20:3-6, Deuteronomy 18:9-13 and Ephesians 5:3-5. The Ephesians passage is ” 3 Let there be no sexual immorality, impurity, or greed among you. Such sins have no place among God’s people. 4 Obscene stories, foolish talk, and coarse jokes – these are not for you. Instead, let there be thankfulness to God. 5 You can be sure that no immoral, impure, or greedy person will inherit the Kingdom of Christ and of God. For a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world. Excerpts and paraphrased from the book. Idolatry is trust in anything that is not God. Since humans were deceived in the garden, God has been vehemently opposed to idolatry since He recognizes its destructive power. God wants our minds and spirits (we could say our Spirit and Soul) to be in communication with Him. He alone is sufficient to provide the knowledge, wisdom and protection we need. To idolize anything else is divisive and leads to the destruction of personal integrity and social cohesiveness. Any idol or image of God we make diminishes our understanding of God and our identity as His image. Modern day idolatry: modern man still worships objects (not so much graven images though that does continue and may be growing as a problem) but more so we worship money, possessions, personal attractiveness or power, many types of pleasure, sports, certain forms of technology and psychological stimulants. (and depressants I would add) These do not give us life (in fact lead to death)Read the full article..

Are God’s Laws For Us Today? Week 18 of Dr Fountains “The Kingdom of God: What is it?”

if you like the contents of this post and want to go deeper please do purchase the book. This weeks biblical reference is Exodus 20. The contents? The Words of God to Israel. (We call them the 10 Commandments) God commands us to be like Him. (like Jesus) Dr Fountain points out that He does not kill, (I would say murder) steal, lie or behave in ways that are unfaithful. The purpose of the moral law are: to demonstrate God’s character so we can emulate it to bring clarity, order and fairness into human relationships – love of God and love of neighbor to regulate individual and collective behavior to promote unner discipline God did not give the moral law as the means of salvation. We receive salvation by our faith and trust in God that leads us to obedience to him. Grace does not eliminate the moral law of God. True salvation be grace though faith should lead us to obedience of the moral law. This moral law is universal. It is for every person, ethnic group and nation. The Law shows us that we need Christ to save us because no one can keep the law. Nevertheless the law remains intact. God also gave Israel two other large blocks of laws as part of their distinct culture. The ceremonial laws and civil laws and instructions. The ceremonial were instructions regarding worship, offering and sacrifices and religious feasts in order to bind His people, Israel, to Him. The civil lawsRead the full article..

What Kind of Government Works Well? Week 17 from “The Kingdom of God: What is it?” by Dr Dan Fountain

Hard to believe we are not that far from the half-way point in the year! Today is week 17 and as always I recommend purchasing for yourself the book I am using for these posts. Today’s title on the surface doesn’t seem to have much application to the theme of the kingdom of God. But of course as we deepen our understanding regarding the reach of the Gospel of the Kingdom we will see it encompasses all aspects of our lives. Government included. The text for today is Exodus 18 and Deuteronomy 1:8-18. The story of the origins of representative government. Moses has led his people out of harms way (at least for the time being) and it appears that the major threats have been squelched. Relative peace has descended on the nation of Israel and it was time to establish some ground rules for the governance of the Jewish nation. Moses had placed himself over all as judge of the quarrels and conflicts that invariable cropped up. When his father-in-law visited Moses and saw how he was going to burn himself out with the system Moses had established he gave the following advice: Exodus 18: 17 “This is not good!” Moses’ father-in-law exclaimed. 18 “You’re going to wear yourself out – and the people, too. This job is too heavy a burden for you to handle all by yourself. 19 Now listen to me, and let me give you a word of advice, and may God be with you. You should continue to be theRead the full article..

How Does God Bring Good out of Evil? Week 13 from “The Kingdom of God: What is it” by Dan Fountain

taken from THIS book. I realize that last week, week 12, didn’t get posted. Maybe next time around. Reading for today is Genesis 24-50! No small amount, that. “God had to work through many dysfunctional aspects in the life of Abraham and his descendants to try to mold them into the people of this Kingdom. He wanted to preserve among them their knowledge of Him, their worship of Him, and their dependence on Him as their only God. He wanted to keep them separate from the surrounding nations so they would not be seduced into polytheistic idol worship and the corrupt morality that goes with it. (and I would add He desired for them to be the light to all nations that would draw all peoples to Him) Highlighting Jacob and his family, Dr Fountains points out that God worked through the evil events in this family to bring good through them. A dysfunctional family (Jacob had 2 wives AND 2 concubines) produced 12 sons one of which was favored, leading to Joseph’s pride and then hatred toward him from his brothers, who sold him into slavery. Joseph, through his uprightness in Potiphar’s household, was given ever increasing responsibilities but was brought down when his uprightness clashed with the moral corruption in Potiphar’s wife. And of course the rest of the story ends with Joseph in charge of managing the great famine in Egypt which reunites him with his family and ultimately reconciles Joseph with is brothers. Unfortunately this leadsRead the full article..

What is the Covenant Relationship? Week 11 of “The Kingdom of God: what is it?” by Dan Fountain

I would like again to encourage you to purchase this book if you have not done so already. Today’s scripture focus is Genesis 12. Abram is called to leave his home and to set out on a journey of faith, to a place the Lord would show him. God was beginning the work of building a special relationship with a particular people. Not because they were deserving, “not to make them a rich and powerful people but to live with Him and to serve (emphasis mine) other nations”…Thus began the long history of salvation whereby redemption from evil comes through an intimate trust relationship with God.” Abram’s culture was polytheistic and God was calling him to leave this culture and land. Abram obeyed, God blessed him and gave him a new identity. God’s friend and the father of a new nation. This new people would bring blessing to the nations by helping them find their identity as followers of God. The Covenant Relationship – “A covenant is a mutual agreement between two parties”… and in this case a covenant between God, who is sovereign, and His people, who are the subjects. God established the agreement. We enter into it by agreeing to it and promising our faithfulness and obedience. Based on mutual faith and trust. The guarantee of the covenant rests on God’s unchanging faithfulness. He will protect us. Our part is to obey. If we do He will bless His people and they will prosper and bless all the peopleRead the full article..