What Can BSF Improve?

As suggested by a reader, I am posing this question.  If you have a suggestion, please post your comment below.  This may help Bible Study Fellowship and leaders spread the Good News to many more.

If you don’t have a suggestion for an improvement, you may also list problems you find as well. Through prayer, God will provide the solutions.  However, please keep it positive criticism. Complaining will do no one any good.

I will post mine at the end of next week and then juxtapose the two posts next to each other in two weeks.  Previous post HERE

Thanks in advance and God Bless!

Prayer Requests for Week of January 25th, 2015

Hey all,

Please post your requests for prayer below or email me at atozmom.wordpress@gmail.com

Mine:  I’ve been down most of the week so prayer for strength to continue the good fight.  Same prayer for oil prices to stop their descent.

God bless and have an amazing week!

Why is BSF SO Popular?

I got this question on my blog and rather than answer it myself, I thought it would be cool to have you all answer it.  So post a comment below answering the questions:

Why do you love Bible Study Fellowship?  Why do you attend?  What makes it so great? And Why do people flock to it every week?  I will post my answer after I read you all’s :)

My answer:  BSF is an in-depth bible study of the Word and the Word only.  Before I found BSF, all the bible studies I had found were fluff to put it mildly.  Most of the time it was about the people in our group and their circumstances.  We’d spend the whole two hours on “problems” instead of seeing what God said to solve the “problems”.  I’d walk away, depressed, feeling none the better.  I felt no closer to God or to knowing God.  I was so disenchanted I wanted to quit.

Then a mentor of mine from my church told me about BSF and the study of Isaiah.  I signed up and haven’t looked back since.  As you may have seen from my answers if you have been here long enough, they are much more thorough, in-depth, and thoughtful.  My knowledge of the Bible has increased 100 x (and I’m not exaggerating here).  I feel like I can discuss the Bible with others and know what I’m talking about.  Before, I had a vague impression of stories and that was it.  What the Bible was all about, I could never have told you all.  Now, I know when someone is twisting the Truth and I call them on it.  I know when something is dead-wrong–because I know God.

BSF is for those who want to know God and His word.  It’s for those who are tired of sitting in church on Sundays only hearing the “good” God and not the “wrath” of God.  It’s for those who want an authentic relationship with Jesus.  It’s for those who crave the Truth and all of the Truth.  It’s for those who are looking for a study where God is first and relationships with others second.  They have a top-notch kids program as well from infants through high school, which follows along exactly with the current study and steadily progresses in depth with age.

After every class, after every homework lesson, after every day, God will reward you for your diligence. He is there with you.  And if you join Bible Study Fellowship, He will be closer to you than ever before.

BSF Study Questions The Life of Moses Lesson 19, Day 5: Numbers 12:4-16

Summary of passage:  God heard Miriam and Aaron grumble against Moses so He called them together for a meeting.  The God descended in a cloud and asked Miriam and Aaron to step forward.  God told them that Moses is more than a prophet, one whom He speaks face-to-face with.  He asks them why they were not afraid to speak against Moses?  Then God leaves in anger.  God struck Miriam with leprosy.  Both Aaron and Moses cry out to God to heal her.  God banishes her from camp for seven days.  They Israelites finally move on and camp in the Desert of Paran.

Questions:

10a)  He called Moses, Aaron, and Miriam together to the Tent of Meeting.  There he came down in a pillar of cloud and summoned Aaron and Miriam forward.  He chastised them, saying Moses is more than a prophet; he is someone I speak clearly with face-to-face.  Then his anger burned against them and He struck Miriam with leprosy.  Both Aaron and Moses pleaded on her behalf and she was banished for seven days outside the camp instead.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  His words.  How God called Moses a servant of His and is faithful and one whom He speaks with face-to-face clearly.

11a)  That Moses is a God’s servant whom He speaks face-to-face with clearly.  He sees the form of God and He reveals Himself to Moses in dreams and speaks to him.

b)  Faithful in everything.  I picture God’s house as the world and those saved who dwell in it.  Moses is faithful to God’s people and in whatever God asks of him.  Moses is faithful to God in the little things and in the big things.  Faithful everywhere–in all aspects of life.

12a)  God’s anger burned against her and He struck her with leprosy, later commuted to a seven-day ostracism.

b)  Leviticus 13:  Ostracize her and isolate her from the camp and label her unclean.  Miriam would have to wear torn clothes, let her hair be unkempt, over the lower part of her face and cry out “Unclean! Unclean!” for as long as the disease remains (probably the rest of her life).  She would have to live outside of camp.  Cleanse himself as well with sacrifices for touching an unclean person.  Her life would have been ruined if not for God’s grace!

c)  Moses forgave Miriam for her sins and asked God to do so as well.

d)  Personal Question.  My answer:  That God is a merciful God.  God can administer penalty for sin harshly or not-so-harshly.  God could have ruined Miriam’s life by giving her a skin disease that would have taken her from her people.  But God relented but still made sure everyone knew she had sinned against Him.  God is good.

Conclusions:  I liked Numbers 12.  Great lesson for us to curb our jealous nature.  Great lessons on God’s powerful, merciful nature.  Great example of God’s love for us.  Great example of how we are to answer our accusers:  with nothing, preferring God to handle them for us.

As we study more and more about Aaron, I get a weaker and weaker view of him.  If he hadn’t have been Moses’ brother, I don’t think he would have been chosen to be the High Priest of Israel.  Again, God’s infinite mercy and wisdom to choose Aaron.  Through him we see our own weaknesses and hopefully learn the lessons God was trying to teach Aaron ourselves.

Map of Hazeroth and Desert of Paran:  http://wol.jw.org/en/wol/ml/r1/lp-e/13

End Notes:  God specifically answers Miriam’s question and answers why Moses is so special:  God’s relationship with Moses.  It is intimate and personal and direct.

Miriam’s affliction reflects her heart and in the degree.  She receives a very severe case of leprosy.  Aaron notices first.

Aaron seems to be a follower here again.  He is swayed by the Israelites to make a golden calf.  He is swayed by his sister to speak against Moses.  He’s a very weak leader.  Note as soon as he notices his sister, he pleads to Moses to not hold against them their foolish sins.  He asks for forgiveness first, then to cure his sister.  He is self-interested the entire time.

Aaron is probably thinking, “Oh, no!  Am I next?  I must do something now to save face or I will suffer a similar fate!!”

Moses speaks now for the first time and for others.  He allowed God to handle his accusers.  Here we see Moses “faithful in all my house” as he speaks for his slanderers.

God did heal Miriam or she would have never been allowed back inside the camp.  Still, it was important for all of Israel to know she spoke against their leader.  God is gracious and merciful.

BSF Study Questions The Life of Moses Lesson 19, Day 4: Numbers 12:1-3

Summary of passage:  Miriam and Aaron, Moses’ siblings, wonder if God has only spoken through him and if God has spoken through them as well.  They talk about Moses’ wife.  God heard them.

Questions:

8a)  Miriam helped save Moses’ life.  Once his mom placed him in the basket and set him afloat (Exodus 2), Miriam watched over the baby until it was found.  She’s the one who suggested to Pharaoh’s daughter if she should get a Hebrew wet nurse for the baby.

Miriam becomes a prophetess (Exodus 15:20) and lead the women in a song of praise to the Lord after their harrowing escape from Egypt.  She’s a leader of the Israelites as well.

b)  Moses’ Cushite wife.  She is jealous and probably looks down on foreigners and believes herself superior.

9a)  He says nothing.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Anger.

Conclusions:  Again we study just the first three verses of the chapter like Day 2.  Short and sweet. We see jealousy here on full display and probably a yearning for power and prestige among the people.  A universal human emotion that gets us all at times.

End Notes:  Scholars believe Miriam is the leader here.  In the Greek, a feminine singular verb is used here.  Also, her name before Aaron’s indicate she is foremost here.  Furthermore, she is one singled out for punishment by the Lord (Numbers 12:10).

Exodus 2:16-22 says that Moses’ wife is from Midian.  This is a contradiction in the Bible and scholars can only guess here.  Was this a possible second wife of Moses’?  Was Zipporah originally from Cush?  Was Zipporah’s family from Cush originally and then they moved to Midian?  All are possible.

Cush is modern-day Ethiopia so Moses’ wife would have had dark skin and would have stood out amongst the olive-complexion of the Israelites.

The real reason God is upset here is that Miriam and Aaron attack Moses’ spiritual authority. This is where God draws the line and says that Moses is special.

God hears everything always.

Since Moses wrote these words, did he call himself the humblest man on earth?  That would be pride, the opposite of humbleness.  Scholars think these words were added later possibly by Joshua who knew Moses so well.

Scholars question the translation of “humble” here.  The origins of the word suggest “meekness” or “afflicted” and elsewhere in the Bible, it is translated as such.

BSF Study Questions The Life of Moses Lesson 19, Day 3: Numbers 11:4-35

Summary of passage:  The “rabble” complain now about only having manna to eat.  God is angry and Moses is angry as well.  Moses asks God why did He give them those people to care for.  He tells God the burden of these people is too heavy to bear alone and he wants to die for God doing this to him.  (Moses is complaining as well here).

God agrees to anoint 70 leaders to help Moses with the people.  God also says he will provide meat for the Israelites for 30 days until they will loathe meat because they have so much of it.  Moses lacks faith and asks God how he is going to do such a thing.  God says He will.

God put His spirit upon the 70 elders who now prophesied.  Then God drove quail from the sea for the people to eat.  However, God still being angry, struck the Israelites with a plague.

Questions:

5a)  The fish, cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, and garlic they ate there.

b)  That they were slaves.

6a)  He became so exasperated that his faith began to waver in God and he even asked to die rather than deal with these people alone.

b)  No.

c)  He agreed to anoint 70 elders to help Moses with the people and to provide meat for the Israelites so they would stop grumbling.

d)  Personal Question.  My answer:  With peace that it would all turn out alright.

7a)  God deemed they would have meat for 30 days until the point they loathed it.

b)  Before the people could even taste the meat, he struck them with a plague.

Conclusions:  A couple questions I thought were left hanging and could have been expounded upon more.  I love God’s response!  It’s like “Fine.  I’ll show you!”  Be careful what you ask for!  I picture Moses’ tirade and it isn’t exactly pretty.  While I can understand His frustration, I don’t understand His doubt.

End Notes:  The word “rabble” at the beginning includes the non-Israelites who accompanied them to Egypt.  So everyone is complaining.

The Israelites are traveling with a huge flock of goats and sheep so if they wanted meat, it was freely available as well as any wild game they came across in the desert.  It’s as if they were too lazy to do it themselves and wanted God to provide it, but they went about it in totally the wrong way.

Funny how the Israelites remember the good in Egypt and not the bad–the whippings, the work, etc. They have forgotten God’s promises of the Promised Land ahead in favor of the hardships to get there.  This is true for us today.  God’s best is ahead of us, not behind.

Complaining against what God provides is complaining against Him.  The manna was very nutritious in every way and yet the Israelites were bored.  How sad!

Moses allows the people’s unbelief to infect him and he doubts God as well.  God allowed this to happen to Moses to test him as well.  It’s how God grows our dependence on Him.  Here we see the earliest argument of “If you really loved me, Lord, then why did you do this to me?”.  God’s response:  “Because I love you.”  Great testament for our lives.  We see what God does.  He answers our prayer and then some.  He also brings about judgment as well.  Great lessons here of caution against the negativity of others and how God grows our faith every day in the midsts of our “why me’s?”.

We can also see through Moses him pouring his heart out to God–his anger, his frustrations, his pains, his anxieties.  We need to take it to God more and pour out on Him our troubles–but not question His character nor His goodness.

God did not answer Moses’ request to not “face his own ruin.”  For in our weaknesses, we find God.

God picked Godly men to help Moses and support him.  This is a good lesson for us–we need to not be afraid to ask for help and to accept it in our Christian walk.

Moses could not see how God would provide meat.  This is often the case.  We cannot see how God will do something and frankly we don’t need to see.  All we must do is believe.

The anointing of the men with the Spirit is key here–one cannot do God’s work without His blessing and His heart.  God needed to make sure these men were His to act for Him.

Joshua here is only looking out for Moses.  He is not jealous in any way like Moses suggests.  He (like many others) wasn’t privy to what was going on with the 70 men, so he was merely alerting Moses to what he saw happening.

Quail by the millions migrate over the Sinai Peninsula every year.  Note how the quail landed outside of camp.  We should know that nothing good is outside of God.  If this were to be a blessing, the quail would have landed smack in the middle of camp.  Here we see God’s judgment coming.

This is an important lesson for the Israelites to take to heart:  don’t let your cravings control you or get in the way of your relationship with God.  It’s about the spiritual, not the physical.

Psalm 78:27-31, 106:13-15 speak to this incident.

BSF Study Questions The Life of Moses Lesson 19, Day 2: Numbers 11:1-3

Summary of passage:  The people grumbled about their hardships.  The Lord heard them and sent fire to burn the outskirts of the camp.  The people cried out to Moses who prayed to God and the fire died down.

Questions:

3a)  Ungrateful, complaining, not content in Him, lack of faith in God

b)  God heard the people complain and he was angry so he sent fire to burn the outskirts of the Israelites’ camp.

4a)  They cried out to Moses

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  I usually get mad and pout and question God’s ways and I cry out to Him.  I get frustrated and ask why.

c)  Psalm 16:6:  This is a reminder that my inheritance is in heaven and it is a much better place than here.

Psalm 37:7:  This is a reminder to wait patiently on God and His ways and to not worry when men succeed in their wicked ways.  Trust Him.

Philippians 4:11-12:  This is a reminder to be content with what you have and where you are at.  Verse 13 is the famous one:  “I can do everything through him who gives me strength.”  I can endure with Him.

Conclusions:  A very short lesson today and a short reading.  A nice break.  We are not told exactly what the complaints were about (moving all the time, carrying heavy loads, eating the same food day-in and day-out, etc) but whatever it was it made God angry enough to send fire!  We all have the same complaints about our daily hardships.  Still, we must trust–which is much easier said than done.

End Notes:  The Israelites had just been set apart of God, cleansed, separated, and blessed and given Him himself to guide them and He dwells with them and the first thing they do when they set out is complain.  God is very disappointed indeed.

It’s ungrateful and lack of faith in Him for the here and now.

What the complaints were about is unimportant since they are not mentioned; the complaints speak to the state of the Israelites hearts just like our complaints speak to ours.

Fire, the light by which the Israelites see at night, is now the enemy here as it brings justice to God’s people.

Some scholars say the Israelites should have cried out to God directly, but I disagree.  They were so used to Moses speaking for them it was natural for them.  Plus, I’m sure they were afraid and as in all of our readings of the past, when the Israelites are afraid of God, they reach out to Moses (whom God chose to be their intermediary for Him) to speak to God.

Christmas Tapestry

Christmas Tapestry by Patricia Polacco

Christmas Tapestry by Patricia Polacco

Christmas Tapestry by Patricia Polacco is an endearing tale about being in the right place at the right time.

Jonathan Jefferson Weeks’ father is a pastor.  He leaves his church in Memphis to bring back a lagging church in Detroit, Michigan.  Jonathan does not want to move.  Upon arrival, the whole family pitches in to reviving the church–painting, landscaping, washing, repairing the walls, etc.  The church began to grow.  By Christmas, it was almost finished.  One more painting on the wall would finish it off.

Then a big snowstorm hit and a huge hole was left in the wall!  Luckily, a plasterer was available on Christmas Eve.  Jonathan is distraught over the hole but his father assures him God has a plan.

The next day Jonathan and his father take the bus into town to pick up Christmas decorations.  They see a wonderful tapestry for sale in a store window and buy it.  It should be the perfect size to cover the hole in the plaster!

It is very cold and snowing.  At the bus stop, a little old lady offers them to share hot tea and cookies with them.  She lives far away and Jonathan’s father offers to give her a ride from their house.  She accepts.  When they arrive back home, Jonathan hangs up the tapestry before taking the old lady home.  The old lady recognizes the tapestry as one she made 60 years ago in Germany.  It was the canopy over her and her husband on her wedding day.  They were rounded up by the Nazi’s shortly after their wedding and she never saw him again.  She insists they keep it to cover the hole.

The next day is Christmas Eve and the plasterer shows up to look at the damage to the wall.  The old man recognizes the tapestry as the one his bride made back in Germany before the Nazi’s took her.  They race Mr. Zukor, the plasterer, to the old woman’s house where a reunion of joy takes place.

Jonathan learns why exactly they had moved to Detroit, why the plaster fell, why they took the bus and shared tea with an old woman.

This tale is adapted from tales.  The circumstances of the coincidences are highly unlikely, but it illustrates how God can do the impossible.  I think it’s good to read stories that stretch the realms of possibility so kids can believe in the impossible, dream of better things in this world, and push themselves to achieve what they themselves do not believe they can.

Great story of how hindsight and the passing of time reveals to us the reasons why things happen in our lives.  Great lesson learned by Jonathan of trusting God and His plans when we cannot see them.  An uplifting and heartwarming tale for Christmas or any time that brings God’s ways into our lives and reminds us of His complete control.