BSF Study Questions Matthew Lesson 11, Day 5: Matthew 10:32-42

Summary of passage:  Jesus says whoever acknowledges me, I will acknowledge in Heaven.  Whoever doesn’t, I will disown him.  I have come to win your love and belief.  You are not worthy of me if you love anyone else more than me.  You must take up your cross and follow me.  You will have life if you lose it for my sake.  Those who help you will be rewarded.

Questions:

11a)  They must acknowledge him before men.  They must love him more than anyone else.  They must take up their cross and follow him and lose their life for his sake.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Love God more than anyone else and acknowledge that everything in my life is from Him and is His.

12a)  Jesus’ primary goal is not to bring world peace but to bring peace to those who choose him.  His goal is to bring those who believe in him to God and that may mean turning from the ways of this world and your relatives to Him.  Thus, since we are first in God’s life, then so must God be first in ours or we are unworthy.

A sword divides.  Here, it is the dividing line between Heaven and Hell.  You choose which side you will be on.  And family members may be on the other side.

b)  There is strife among relatives as to where our hearts should lie.  There is not world peace because each must choose Him and not everyone does according to Free Will.  God is not forcing us to choose Him.  True peace lies within–something we only have when we have Christ.

13)  You must be willing to give up everything, including your life and family and be hated, to follow Jesus.  You can only live when you let go of your life here on Earth and you when you do lose your life (or die), you will then have eternal life.  Paradox?  Yes.  But how God works.

See POST I wrote a while back on this topic.

14)  Half-personal Question.  My answer:  You are rewarded when you do something for a believer whether it be as simple as a glass of water or hosting a believer, prophet, or righteous man.  We are working for God when we help those called by God and those who are doing God’s work (which should be all believers).  What you do for others you do for Jesus as well.  We must extend this to work we do for unbelievers as well as believers.  For God works for them as well.

I have to remember this when dealing with people I don’t want to be dealing with (and now that the holidays are fast approaching, there’s a lot of those people!); remember I am doing it for Jesus as well as for them.  This is a challenge.

It’s encouraging because it makes me feel like even the little things add up because sometimes I feel like I’m not doing anything in this world but taking up space.  I let the guilt and pressure of this society get to me, telling me I’m not doing enough, I’m not successful enough, I’m not enough when in reality I am because God says I am.

Conclusions:  For me, the last question nailed what this lesson was about.  We are enough for God no matter how insignificant we feel at times.  We matter and He knows that and that should be all we care about.  Sometimes I let the world dictate this when I shouldn’t.  I am here, doing God’s will, and the world can kiss it if they don’t like it!

End Notes:  BSF glossed over the “before men” in verse 32.  Jesus called all his disciples publicly.  We are to acknowledge Christ publicly as our Savior.  Hence, why I think baptism is a good thing these days (for other reasons as well) because we declare to the world publicly that we accept Jesus.  We were never meant to be Christians in secret.  Sure, in the beginning, the early Christians had to hide for fear of persecution.  But from their outward lives, you could still tell they were Christians for they lived a Godly-life.

That is our call today.  We should live enough like Jesus that without having to say we are Christ-followers, people know.  Our deeds indeed count in heaven for which we will be rewarded (verses 40-42).  Our light should shine to others and we should have no fear of doing so.

Taking up your cross in Jesus’ day meant you were literally carrying a cross to be crucified.  Ancient people knew it meant death.  Today, the important theme is willing to die when you take up your cross.  Die for Him.

Fun Fact:  This is the first time Matthew mentions the cross.

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BSF Study Questions Genesis Lesson 11, Day 5: Genesis 12:10-13:4

Summary of passage:  Abram went to Egypt due to a famine.  Abram told Sarai to tell the Egyptians she was his sister in order to protect himself because he was afraid the Egyptians would kill him.  So Pharaoh married Sarai (thinking she wasn’t married) and treated Abram well because of it.  He was given sheep, cattle, donkeys, servants, and camels.

The Lord was angry at this so he punished Pharaoh and Pharaoh asked Abram why he lied to him. Pharaoh sent them out of his land.  They returned to the Negev much wealthier from his lie to Pharaoh.

Abram traveled back to Bethel where he had built the altar earlier (Day 4) and called on the Lord.

Questions:

11a)  Nothing is an act of nature since God is in control.  I think it was a test of Abram’s faith as we see as the story unravels and Abram’s self-preservation and self-reliance is revealed.  God never told Abram to go to Egypt; he was to stop in Canaan.  The famine is a test to see if Abram would rely on God for all his needs.  Obviously, Abram doesn’t.  He schemes and ultimately failed in this test.

b)  Acknowledging God, calling on Him, faith and trust in God.

12a)  Verses 11-13  Abram is telling Sarai to lie because he is afraid of being killed.  Verse 15 shows how Abram just stood by while he let Pharaoh take his wife as his own and fornicate with her.  Because of this in verse 17 we see how God punished Pharaoh for Abram’s sin.  Abram in verse 13:2 became rich because of it and doesn’t seem to show any remorse.  Hagar will also enter the picture (Genesis 16), a source of jealousy for Sarai.

b)  Israel (Abram’s descendants) will bear the Lord’s wrath due to Abram’s sin until the Lord brings Israel into the light.  We will also see in Genesis 16:1 some of the consequences of this sin in the form of Hagar, one of the maidservants Abram and Sarai acquired while in Egypt and what harm she causes.

c)  He didn’t punish Abram but instead punished Pharaoh and He allowed Abram to profit financially from the sin.  God blessed and protected Abram because God had bigger plans for him than this sin.

13a)  Bethel

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  I definitely don’t see any repentance.  Just because you build an altar doesn’t equate with asking for forgiveness for your sins.  I see faith in building an altar.  That’s about it.

My take-away is to ask for forgiveness for your sins where Abram did not and to have faith that God will protect you on your journey in this life instead of scheming, lying, and allowing your wife to fornicate with others.

Put your faith in God and His promises–not in lies–for ALL things.  Only you can fail God.  God will never fail you.

Conclusions:  I had completely missed this the last time I read Genesis.  I didn’t remember Abram doing this to protect his own skin.  To me, it seems like Abram was having a high ol’ time, living it up, at Sarai’s expense (unless she enjoyed being the wife of the most powerful man of the known world, but we are not told anything with relation to how Sarai felt).

Abram threw her under the bus and seemed content to have her stay there forever.  God’s the one who saved her, not Abram.  To me, Abram is callous and doesn’t care.  He’s probably living large with his other wives while using the servants Pharaoh gave him.

I see Pharaoh here as the victim and actually as a guy with a heart.  As soon as he found out Sarai was married, he corrected it.  He was angry he wasn’t told.  I don’t see Pharaoh here as a guy to take another’s wife.  Yet he was punished because of Abram’s sin.  Talk about unfair!  Life, right?

Abram was just lucky he was God’s chosen vessel for the future or he could have been incinerated on the spot!

This sin must have been HUGE to God.  Here’s the woman who will bear the line of Christ and Abram allows her to be defiled by a Gentile unbeliever!  She could have conceived, died in childbirth, who knows?  Another slap in God’s face to how man has twisted the intent of marriage and not held it as sacred as God must.

Abram must have faith in God’s plans so we can only hope he learned from this and as Genesis unfolds we will see other tests he passes with flying colors.

But God’s plans are bigger than Abram’s sin so God worked through and in spite of Abram’s sin as He does always and for me and you.  Even when we sin, God is there to pick us back up and put us back on HIS path, not ours.

This is BSF at its best.  The facts of the story and then ONE application question that shows how to rely on God and not yourself.  Great stuff!

BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 11, Day 5: Hebrews 6:4-20

Summary of passage:  The Hebrews writer says it is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, tasted the heavenly gift, shared in the Holy Spirit, and tasted the goodness of God’s word and powers to be brought back to repentance if they fall away.  Land that drinks in the rain and produces a crop is blessed.  Land that produces thorns is worthless and cursed.

Things that accompany salvation is God’s love and mercy as  you work to love his people to the end with faith and patience.  God kept His promise to Abraham and swore by himself to make the unchanging nature of what he promised very clear to Abraham’s heirs.  This shows it is impossible for God to lie and should offer us hope and encouragement.  This hope is the anchor for our soul, allowing us access to the inner sanctuary (God) because Jesus went before us.

Questions:

13a)  Been enlightened, tasted the heavenly gift, shared in the Holy Spirit, tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age

b)  Apostasy according to Webster’s Dictionary means renunciation of a religious faith or abandonment of a previous loyalty; defection.  According to Zondervan’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary by Douglas and Tenney, apostasy means the abandonment of one’s religion.

c)  I’m not for sure I think it is impossible.  If you accept Jesus into your heart and then one day you wake up and renounce him, I would call that apostasy (the abandonment and renunciation of your faith).  The question then becomes:  is this person still promised eternal salvation (which is NOT what BSF is asking)?

I think this would be between God and the person to determine if the person really did accept Jesus in His heart and then decide to one day forsake Jesus.  God never abandons us but would He abandon this person?  We also have Free Will.  Free Will to choose Jesus and then to change our minds.  I’m not for sure the Bible addresses this.

A rationale person who genuinely partook of spiritual experiences would not commit apostasy I believe because once you accept Jesus into your heart you are transformed with the Spirit of truth (John 14:15-17) and therefore it would be impossible to rescind the Lord Jesus.  (1 Corinthians 3:16 and 6:19) tell how we are now His and not ours any more.

Hebrews 10:26-27  “If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.”

The Hebrews author believes even if you have been enlightened and then you fall away (commit apostasy or continue to willingly and deliberately sin) then you will not be saved.  Over.  Done.  Toast.

Only God knows if people have truly accepted Him and His Son or not or if they are going through the motions and abandons Him in the end.

The issue is complicated by Free Will.

In the end, it’s not up to us to judge anyways.

14)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Basically, it says God will reward us for our faithfulness and diligence to Him, His word, and His commandments (to help others).  So even though it seems daunting (our life here on Earth and its myriad of challenges we each face) we must remain diligent and faithful to God and His calling.  Have patience and we will inherit the Promised Land.

We must remember Him when everything else in the world comes against us.

15a)  Hope offered to us (eternal salvation through Christ) and encouragement (by God’s purpose, promises, and knowledge He give to us).

God doesn’t lie at all so I’m not sure why we’re even debating this fact.  But since the Bible talks about God lying, I would project this is due to man’s thinking God lies, giving God man’s qualities when they shouldn’t, and man’s overall  insecurity in who God is.

This tells me that God’s deepest desire is for us to be with Him and He has done everything throughout time to make that possible.  It’s definitely heartening to say the least.

b) It tells me that no matter what (what mistakes I make) I will be in Heaven as God has planned it all along because my soul is anchored in Him.

Conclusions:  This was a challenging lesson because it required me at least to think through implications.  In the end, I gained a deeper understanding of God’s heart as I see more how everything is laid out for us.  A greater picture of God’s love.  And I do feel as if my soul is anchored just a little bit deeper in Him.  Praise God!

BSF Study Questions Isaiah Lesson 11, Day 5 Isaiah 24:16b-23 & Revelation 20:1-15

Summary of passages: Isaiah 24:16b-23  Whomever flees and does not praise (the non-believers) will fall into a pit and face more terror.  The Earth is broken up due to the weight of its sins and will never rise again.  In that day (the second coming) the Lord will punish the sinners both in Heaven and on Earth by locking them up in a prison for many days.  Then the Lord will reign on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem.

Revelation 20:1-15  An angel comes down from Heaven holding the key to the Abyss.  He seizes the devil or Satan and throws him into the Abyss for 1000 years.  Those who believed in Jesus came to life and reigned with Christ for 1000 years.  This is the first resurrection and these people will continue to reign as priests with God and Christ.  After 1000 years, Satan will be released and will go out into the world to gather his troops.  They will march upon God’s people and the city he loves (Jerusalem?) but fire will come down from Heaven and devour them.  Satan will be tormented every day and night forever in a lake of burning sulfur.  Then God will sit on his throne and judge the dead according to what they had done as recorded in the books.  Then death and Hades was thrown into the lake of fire (where the Devil is).

Questions:

10) Whoever flees and does not praise will fall into a pit and face more terror.  The Earth is broken up due to its sin and will never rise again.

11a) The Lord will punish both the heavens and the earth by shutting them up in a prison.  All are subject to God’s will (Heaven and Earth).

b) The Spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (Devil).  Dragon and His angels (Devil) are hurled out of Heaven to Earth.  The Devil was hurled into the Abyss, bound, locked, and sealed for 1000 year to keep him from deceiving nations. Then he was set free.

12a) Many days could be 1000 years.  Afterwards, the Devil will gather his troops and surround God’s people.  But fire came down from Heaven and devoured them and the Devil was thrown into burning sulfur to be tormented day and night forever.  The dead will be judged.

b) On Mount Zion and in Jerusalem and before its elders, gloriously

13a) Personal question.  My answer:  Death is the result of sin.  Adam was warned that the penalty for disobedience would be death. Jesus, who was sinless, died for our sins.  Jesus rose from death, showing his power over sin and death (Matthew 28 and Revelation 1:18).  Because of Jesus, death is defeated.  1 Corinthians 15 is where Paul is explaining the meaning of death.  Isaiah 25:8 says “He [Lord] will swallow up death forever.”  There will be no more death once God reigns again (Revelation 21:4)

b) Personal question.  My answer:  1 Corinthians 15:58  After Paul’s spiel of the explanation of death, he ends it with this, “Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm.  Let nothing move you.  Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”

If you have Jesus, death is merely physical since flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 15:50) and your soul will dwell in Heaven until the time of the second coming where there will be no more death (Revelation 21:4). Death is a reality but if you know God’s word and his prophecy and you have accepted Jesus as your Savior you have nothing to fear but the fear itself.

Conclusions: I loved talking about the Devil because at my church he is rarely mentioned.  We see how Isaiah is given glimpses into the future and that later on others fill in the missing gaps of what will come.  We also rarely talk about death at my church so I loved this study.

Death and the Devil are real and ignoring them and not giving them their due only causes more fear amongst people.  Ignorance does promote fear.  Knowledge in this case is power and is life-saving and eternal.

This study emphasized the importance of knowing what is to come, of knowing the consequences of your choice (God and Jesus or something else), and of knowing what will happen once your choice is made.

It is comforting to know God wins in the end, what happens to Satan, and what happens to us.  Fear is driven by not knowing and since dead people can’t talk and tell us their experiences, God’s word is all we have for what happens after death.  I think Isaiah was trying to get the message across in His time that you’d better repent and get on God’s side before it’s too late and this message holds true today.

End note:  Curious at to what the Abyss was in Revelation, I googled it.  The Abyss or bottomless pit is a spiritual penitentiary where evil angels dwell awaiting their day of judgment.  This is where Satan is banished for 1000 years.  It is mentioned in Luke 8, Jude 1, 2 Peter 2, and numerous times in Revelations. Information taken from: http://atschool.eduweb.co.uk/sbs777/prophecy/abyss.html