BSF Study Questions Matthew Lesson 13, Day 5: Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43

Summary of passages:  Matthew 13:24-30:  Another parable Jesus told was of a man who sowed good seed in his field but while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds alongside the seed.  Once the wheat and the weeds sprouted, the farmer will first pull the weeds and then harvest the wheat so as not to pull up the wheat with the weeds.

Matthew 13:36-43:  Jesus explained this parable by saying the farmer was him, the Son of Man, the field is the world, the good seed are believers, the weeds are unbelievers, the enemy is the devil, the harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels.  At the end of the age, the angels will weed out all the evil and sin in the world and will throw them into the furnace.  Then the righteous will shine.

Questions:

12a)  The Son of Man (Jesus)

b)  The sons of the kingdom (believers)

c)  Earth

d)  The sons of the evil one one (unbelievers)

e)  The end of the age (Jesus’ Second Coming)

f)  Angels

13a)  He is sneaky and crafty.  He does come when we are least aware, when we are weak, when we are unprepared, when we are distracted, when we are needy.  He comes at our weakest point, when we are furthest from God.

b)  He said because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them.  Basically, you may damage the wheat along with the weeds.

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  According to these verses, because Christians themselves will rise up and distort the truth or they will turn their ears away from the truth to myths and hear only what they want to hear because they do not like what they hear.

There has been and will continue to be Christians who don’t like what the Bible has to say so they ignore those parts and say it doesn’t apply to them or they will misconstrue the meaning and say it means something else.  An example are those who blatantly ignore what the Bible says about homosexuality and marriage.

Many Christians live how they want to live despite what the Bible says.  They are hypocrites and know it but continue to live in their sin instead of changing it.

Living a Christian life is hard work and many in today’s society aren’t up for the challenge.

14)  Personal Question.  My answer:  The righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father.  It gives me strength to know at the end of the day all my struggles and trials will all be worth it and are just temporary for I have a permanent home in heaven.

Conclusions:  I would say this is one of the best explained parables by Jesus in the Bible.  Very straight-forward and very encouraging.  Although I liked Question 13c, it really had nothing to do with this passage and I am not for sure why it was thrown in there.  Nothing else to ask?  Hmmm….

End Notes:  The commentaries I read said the weeds represent corruption (or false believers) amongst the people of God so people of God who are corrupt (hence why BSF asked 13c).  Well, I submit if they are false believers, then they are unbelievers and hence are not God’s people.

This parable show’s it is God’s job to judge at the end of the day, not man’s, and it is God who will call out the professed “believers” who truly aren’t.  Our job here on Earth is to follow God in our lives and do His purpose.  What others do, we should care about, but not judge them righteous or not.

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BSF Study Questions Matthew Lesson 13, Day 4: Matthew 13:9-17, 34-35

Summary of passages:  Matthew 13:9-17:  Jesus tells his disciples that he uses parables to speak to the people because those who do not have him will lose everything and they have not the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven as the disciples do.  Thus, those who have him, will be given more.  Furthermore, the parables fulfill Isaiah’s prophecy in Isaiah 6:9-10, which says those who do not hear nor see have a calloused heart and if they turned they would see and hear.  But those that do hear and see the Truth are blessed because many who long to hear and see the Truth are unable.

Matthew 13:34-35:  This quotes Psalm 78:2 how Jesus will speak in parables when he comes.

Questions:

9a)  First, Jesus tells his disciples that he uses parables to speak to the people because those who do not have him will lose everything and they have not the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven as the disciples do.  Second, Jesus speaks in parables to fulfill prophecy.

b)  Most had rejected Jesus and the parables are meant to conceal truth from those who do not see or hear.  And these people who do not have will lose what has been given to them.  They will see the parables as mere stories and will thus not turn more against God.  In this way, God is merciful.

c)   To those who are blessed with the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven more will be given to them and they will have an abundance (verse 11-12).  They will understand more through the parables and will have a deeper relationship with God.  They will be blessed (verse 16).

d)  Part-personal question.  Jesus said they are blessed by their knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven and they will be given an abundance.  I lead a pretty blessed and abundant life.  All of my needs are met (and many of my wants).  I feel utterly humbled and privileged to be a part of God’s kingdom here on earth and I try to take that responsibility seriously every day of my life as I convey God’s greatness to those around me.

10)  Both Mark and Luke say whoever has will be given more and whoever does not have, even what he thinks he has will be taken from him.  Mark says with the measure you use, more will be measured to you.  Matthew is saying whoever understands God and Jesus and His kingdom will be blessed and receive more because of it.  Whoever rejects Jesus and God and His kingdom will lose everything.

11a)  People, although physically able to see and hear, were not spiritually able to see and hear the message for their hearts were hardened towards him and his message.  Otherwise, if they heard, they would be healed.  They were against him with no hope of salvation.  So he had come for those who would hear and see him.

b)  This describes those who are going through the motions only; who attend church with no real desire to be more like Jesus; who pretend to be God-like but their actions show they are not; whose heart is not God’s.  The world and their experiences have hardened them to the word to the point they barely hear and see.  God wants all of us and He wants to be first in our lives.  Otherwise, we aren’t hearing nor seeing Him.

Conclusions:  I guess this day answers my qualm’s with Day 2 but I still would prefer chronological or at least have us read the whole passage and then focus on small bits so we’d know Jesus’ reasons while answering the rest of the questions.  I read the whole passage anyways and I prefer to have the whole picture instead of just snippets of Jesus.  There’s so much we don’t know that I need to know what we do know.

Admittedly, I had to read commentaries to understand the intricacies of these passages.  On the surface, it just appears as if Jesus tells cool stories.  But there is so much more to the parables as we learned through these questions, which show God’s extreme love for us, his people, and his love for the unbelievers as well whom he shows both mercy to and whom he warns as well.  God is such an awesome God!

Fun Fact:  Matthew uses the phrase “kingdom of heaven” 32 times in his book.

BSF Study Questions Matthew Lesson 13, Day 3: Matthew 13:1-8, 18-23

Summary of passages:  Matthew 13:1-8:  The same day that Jesus’ Mother and Brothers show up, Jesus sat by a lake.  Such large crowds gathered that he got in a boat and retreated to the middle of the lake to teach.  He told them the parable of the sower who scattered seeds which fell in different soils.  Those that fell in no soil got eaten up.  Those that fell on shallow soil withered because it had no root.  Those that grew amongst thorns were choked. Only those that fell on good soil produced a crop.

Matthew 13:18-23:  Jesus breaks up different kinds of people who hear the Word.  Those that hear the message and do not understand, the evil one comes and snatches it away–the seed along the path.  Those that hear the word and receive it but falls away quickly when trouble comes because he has no root–the seed in the rocky places.    Some hear the word but are choked by worries of life–the seeds with the thorns.  Only those who hear the word and understand it produce a good crop.

Questions:

7)  Before the message is even received, it is snatched away.  Satan does not even want us to hear it.  This is done when people have a bad impression of the church to the point they won’t go and hear.  Or Christians in general and they won’t hear a testimony.  Or he perverts the message.  He hardens our hearts to the Word to the point it never penetrates.  This is sad.

8a)  Personal Question.  My answer:  When I don’t give God my worries and instead I carry them around I am no longer focusing or trusting in Him but am relying on myself to solve my problems.  When wants and desires creep into my life and they take precedence over God and His will.  Like wanting a job so I can have a home.  It’s about what’s important in God’s view, not the world’s.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Simple.  Do you come back to God?  If the answer is yes, then you are good soil.  If you never come back to Him, then you are thorny.  We all fall off God’s path for our lives.  It’s those that persevere as Luke says and come back to Him and get back on track who are ultimately His.

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  I am the good soil who perseveres, hears God’s word, retains it, and I hope passes it along.  I usually have doubts on where my heart lies but not in this case.  I know it is His.  I know I won’t quit despite the thorns in my path.  I know that my purpose is His purpose.

My prayer is to make those thorns less in my life and to make me stronger to overcome them when they do crop up so I can get back to doing God’s work instead of the world’s work.

Conclusions:  I usually don’t like all the personal questions but after yesterday which was a doozy of a lesson for me in terms of time this was a piece of cake.  Message for today:  We have to be aware of the devil’s ploys to pull us from God’s path.  And we must never give up.  God is a good God.  He forgives us everything.  He takes us back no matter what.  We will produce a good crop if we trust God to do so.

BSF Study Questions Matthew Lesson 13, Day 2: Matthew 13:1-8, 18-23 and Luke 8:4-15

Summary of passages:  Matthew 13:1-8:  The same day that Jesus’ Mother and Brothers show up, Jesus sat by a lake.  Such large crowds gathered that he got in a boat and retreated to the middle of the lake to teach.  He told them the parable of the sower who scattered seeds which fell in different soils.  Those that fell in no soil got eaten up.  Those that fell on shallow soil withered because it had no root.  Those that grew amongst thorns were choked. Only those that fell on good soil produced a crop.

Matthew 13:18-23:  Jesus breaks up different kinds of people who hear the Word.  Those that hear the message and do not understand, the evil one comes and snatches it away–the seed along the path.  Those that hear the word and receive it but falls away quickly when trouble comes because he has no root–the seed in the rocky places.    Some hear the word but are choked by worries of life–the seeds with the thorns.  Only those who hear the word and understand it produce a good crop.

Luke 8:4-15:  Luke records the same parable but a shorter version.  BSF has us read Jesus’ explanation here (but not in Matthew verses 10-17 which is not sitting well with me) about why he speaks in parables.  The parables allow more people to understand the Word.  The disciples have been gifted by God with an understanding of the kingdom but many have not received such a gift.

Important differences in the passage:  Luke is succinct and a bit better.  He explains for those who don’t mature in the word fall away in times of life’s worries, riches, and pleasures.  Only those with a good and noble heart and who PERSEVERE retain God’s word and thus produces a good crop.

Questions:

3a)  A parable is a short, simple, everyday story with a point meant to convey a complex idea simply.  The definition of a parable according to Webster’s Dictionary is “comparison; a usually short fictitious story that illustrates a moral attitude or a religious principle.”

b)  Yes and no.  He had been performing a lot of miracles as his primary way of showing and explaining the kingdom of God until he became frustrated in chapter 11 as people still failed to believe.  So he is beginning to switch to more stories to reach a wider audience.

It’s difficult to answer a definitive yes here because we only have a handful of Jesus’ teachings and actions recorded.  So much of his life we just don’t know.

c)  Luke says the seed is the word of God (Luke 8:11).

4)  “it [seed] was trampled on”; “withered because they had no moisture”;  “the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts so that they may not believe and be saved”; “in the time of testing they fall away”; “choked by life’s worries, riches, and pleasures and they do not mature”; “those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.”

5a)  God

b)  No soil at all–could not grow.  This represents those who hear the word but do not understand it.

Rocky, thin soil–grew quickly but died in the hot sun and withered with no root.  Those who hear the word, take it in, but then fall when trouble arises.

Soil with thorns–plants grew but were choked.  Those who hear the word but are choked out by things in this world such as worries, wealth, and pleasures.

Good soil–produced a crop.  Those who hear the Word, understand it, retain it, sow it in their hearts, and persevere.

6)  John 14:15:  Those who obey God’s commands have good soil

John 15:5:  Those who remain in God bear much fruit

Acts 5:29:  Those who obey God rather than men have good soil

Philippians 2:12-13:  Obey God who works in you for His purpose

Conclusions:  Many beefs today.  First, you all know I hate skipping around.  I am very chronologically oriented.  I don’t understand why we didn’t read Jesus’ reason for telling parables in Matthew yet we read it in Luke and we were asked about it as well.  Why would we save that to come back to?  I guess we’ll find out soon.  No logic to me here.

Question 6 all had the same answer:  those that obey God have good soil.  And those that obey God more have better soil.  The more you obey, the greater the soil.  Fabulous.  Did we really need 4 verses to understand that?  No.  Should be intuitive.

Finally, for me, this lesson falls right at our Christmas break.  The next lesson is Part 2 in January.  So why split the two parts for a month?  We all know we don’t remember much after a month off if we do our lessons in December (which I do).  Don’t have a part one of a lesson and then wait a month for a part two.  Surely the timing here could be better.

End Notes:  Why did Jesus tell parables?  We must remember in ancient times most people were illiterate and farmers.  They had no experience with wrestling with foreign words and had a very limited vocabulary.  Jesus spoke in parables so they would remember his teachings, hold their interest, and be relatable to their difficult lives.

Also, as Jesus explains in the part we skipped, parables were meant to challenge the listener, to grow those deeper in the word, and to lessen the hardness of those not receptive to the Word.  They began in the face of growing opposition to Jesus so to lessen that, Jesus told parables.  In that sense, they were a form of mercy to those hardened against him because the message was hidden.

Here, Jesus is floating offshore in a boat.  Cool, huh?  I’d like to attend church on a lakeside.

The meaning of the word parable, which is Greek, is “to throw alongside of”, in this case thrown alongside the truth.  One commentator called them “earthly stories with a heavenly meaning.”

The soil represents the responses to the Word, which is us.  The soil on the path are those who never hear the word with understanding.  The soil that withers quickly are those who respond quickly but also wither away in the face of tribulations.  The thorny soil represents those who respond and grow in the Word but fall away in the face earthly things and competition for their attention such as material goods and pleasures.  And the good soil is those who whole-heartedly embrace God and His truth and bear fruit because of it.

At times in our lives, we are all of these.  Sometimes we ignore God, we allow other things and events to take precedence over Him, and at times we bear His fruit.

Notice the Sower (God) is the same as is the seed (His word).  The only thing that changes is the soil (us).

BSF Study Questions Genesis Lesson 13, Day 5: Psalm 110; Hebrews 2:17-18; 4:14-5:10; & 6:18-7:28

BSF Study of Genesis and Hebrews

Summary of passages:  Psalm 110:  The Lord told my Lord (David’s Lord who is Jesus) to sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool.  God will extend Jesus’s scepter and rule in the midst of enemies.  On the day of battle your troops will be arrayed in holy majesty.

The Lord calls Jesus a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek.  He will crush kings on the day of his wrath, judge the nations, and heap up the dead.

Hebrews 2:17-18; 4:14-5:10; 6:18-7:28:  Jesus had to be made like his brothers (flesh and blood) so that he could become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God and to be able to make atonement for man’s sins.

4:14-5:10:  Jesus is our great high priest who has gone through the heavens who can sympathize with our weaknesses for he has been tempted in every way just as we are–and remain without sin.  Let us hold firmly to our faith, approach God with confidence so we may receive mercy and grace to help us in our time of need.

Every high priest is selected among men and is appointed to represent them in matters related to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for our sins.  He is able to deal gently with those who are ignorant and going astray and offer sacrifices for our sins.

Priests must be called by God.  Jesus was called to be a High Priest by God in the order of Melchizedek.  Jesus prayed to God and he was heard because of his submission.  He was obedient and made perfect for our eternal salvation for all who obey him.

6:18-7:28:  God swore promises to us by Himself so that we may have hope and encouragement.  This hope anchors our soul and enters the inner sanctuary where Jesus has entered on our behalf.  Jesus is a high priest forever in the order of Melchizedek.

Hebrews Chapter 7:  This Melchizedek was king of Salem (Jerusalem) and priest of the God Most High.  He met and blessed Abraham and Abraham gave him a tenth of everything.  His name means “king of righteousness” and king of Salem means “king of peace”.  He remains a priest forever without the proper lineage.

Just think how great he must have been for Abraham to give him a tenth of the plunder!  The law requires the descendants of Levi to collect a tenth from the people.  Melchizedek was not a Levite.  One could deduce that Levi collects the tenth through Abraham because Levi (who is Abraham’s descendant) hadn’t been born yet when Melchizedek collected.  Hence we have Levites paying tithes to Melchizedek, making Melchizedek greater than the Levites (or Abraham in this instance since the Levites are through Abraham).  Since the lesser is blessed by the greater, Melchizedek is greater than Abraham.

Perfection could not be attained through the Levites so there was need for a priest in the order of Melchizedek (the mere fact that a priest in the order of Melchizedek shows up should be a clue that there is a need for something better than the Levites).  If the priests change, then so must the law.  The old law was weak and useless for it made nothing perfect and a better hope was introduced by God (Jesus!).

Through an oath Jesus became a priest and the author of a better covenant.  Jesus lives forever so his priesthood is forever; therefore, he is able to save completely those who come to God through him.

Jesus meets our needs as holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens with one sacrifice of himself who has been made perfect forever.

Questions:

11a)  Himself

b)  The Messiah will be both a king and a priest

c)  Melchizedek was a king and a priest of God.  He remains a priest forever.

Melchizedek and Christ’s similiarities:  1)  Both were kings  2)  Both were priests 3)  Both received a tenth of everything  4)  Both names mean king of peace  5)  Both are priests forever  6)  Both live forever (without beginning of days or end of life)

One difference: Only Jesus was the Son of God

12a)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Christ is our hope. He died for us so we can live forever with him.  We won’t be lonely in Heaven.  The Holy Spirit lives inside of us as a reminder He is with us always, never forsaking us so we will never be alone.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Jesus was tempted as well.  He was fully man and fully God so he knows what we are going through.  Yet he resisted and we can use his power to resist the devil as well.  Open His Word and soak Him in.  You will become burning bright for Him.

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Jesus gives us hope and encouragement when we are down.  Cling to him.  Remember He speaks all the time if only I listen.

Conclusions:  Any one else irked with Hebrews yet?  We studied this exact same passage last year in Acts and we answered very similar questions.  HERE we studied Hebrews 7 WITH Genesis 14:18-20.

So why is this Melchizedek important?  Why is BSF spending so much time on him (this year and in other years)?

Here’s the crux:  For the Israelites, they had divisions within society and roles.  The leaders were priests, prophets, and kings.  Prophets told the truth, revealing God’s righteousness.  Kings implementing this righteousness as heads of the government.  Priests represented God to the people and brought God to them.  According to the God-given laws of Israel, kings and priests always came from different tribes.  Thus, a king could NOT be a priest.

So how could Christ the Messiah be a king, a prophet, and a priest?  Wouldn’t that violate God’s laws?  We must remember at this time when Jesus is living he hasn’t yet died for our sins and ushered in the New Covenant.  So the Jews are trying to piece together who the Messiah is based on the Old Testament laws, which still govern how God’s people live.  Christ doesn’t “fit” these laws. [Cool, cause I don't really "fit" either!]

Enter Melchizedek:  a priest AND a king.  He wasn’t even an Israelite let alone a Levite (the priests line) yet he was a priest.

Psalm says the Messiah will be greater than David and he will be “in the order of Melchizedek”, which means he will be both a priest and a king.  Melchizedek establishes the precedent and the credibility to be a priest and a king.

[Explanation summarized and credited to Zondervan NIV Student Study Bible].

Fun Fact:  Melchizedek was a Gentile.  So from the beginning God had intended Gentiles to inherit the kingdom of God.  I wonder why it was such a huge deal for the first century Christians to accept Gentiles when Melchizedek was one.

End Note:  Note the order of Melchizedek’s names.  He is king of righteousness and THEN king of peace.  As always you must have righteousness before you can have peace. Without righteousness there is no peace.  Jesus makes us right; thus we have peace with God.

Also, some commentators believe because Melchizedek remains a priest forever (verse 3) he was either a heavenly being or Jesus himself incarnate!  Jesus in the Old Testament! Now that’s cool!  Something to ponder at least.

Final Note:  Sorry!  This is a long one!  I didn’t really focus on the questions this time as you might have noticed.  I took the subject of Melchizedek and the passages given and investigated.  I had to get this straight in my mind.  I will concede we did study this last year.  But we hadn’t studied Genesis yet (at least I hadn’t).  In the context of Genesis and knowing Abram’s life and world, Hebrews 7 makes much more sense to me.

I often forget the HUGE differences between Old Testament way of life and New Testament living since I’m under the New Covenant.  I now understand the confusion more when Jesus showed up, proclaiming he’s the Messiah.  What? the people wondered.  He doesn’t “fit” the Messiah.

I believe following Jesus in first century AD was a HUGE leap of faith.  It was a total shift in paradigm.  Myself, having grown up with Jesus, saying “Yes” to him seems easier than it did 2000 years ago.  Don’t get me wrong:  following him is a BIG deal and is insanely difficult.  But I can see how it would be even tougher not necessarily for pagan worshippers but for God’s people.

Yes, I am sick of studying Hebrews.  But what I’ve learned is this:  you can’t get enough. You can’t read a passage enough times in order to have His word soak into your core. There are so many questions about God and who He is and our job is to answer as many of those as possible to draw near to Him.

Every time I read His word, I learn something about God:  how compassionate He is, who He is, who Jesus is, how the Holy Spirit works inside of us, how the early Christians suffered, or even how there were 7 clean animals on the ark and not just two.  But even the little details reveals God overarching omnipotence and control over this world.  How everything is planned, down to God foreseeing the need for Noah to sacrifice to Him. How God’s promises are Truth.

All of this makes me a better person especially in the realm of spreading the Good News. For if we ourselves don’t know God’s word, promises, and truths, how can we explain God’s greatness and goodness to others?

Ok, I’ll stop now.  You get my point.

Don’t stop reading His word.  Don’t stop craving Him.  For He never stops craving us.

BSF Study Questions Genesis Lesson 13, Day 4: Genesis 14:17-24 & 15:1

Summary of passages:  Abram returned from defeating Kedorlaomer and the kings allied with him.  The king of Sodom came out to meet him.  Then Melchizedek king of Salem (or Jerusalem) and a priest of God brought out bread and wine.  He blessed Abram and Abram gave him a tenth of everything.

The king of Sodom asked Abram for his people back that had been carried away by Kedorlaomer but told Abram he could keep the goods.  Abram said he has sworn to God that he will accept nothing from him so that he could not say he had made Abram rich. He will only accept what they have eaten and what the men who accompanied him want.

Abram had a vision and received the word of the Lord:  Do not be afraid for I am your shield and your very great reward.

Questions:

8 )  Reverently.  The king of Sodom fled from the Babylonians and had their entire city plundered.  Abram, a Hebrew, regained all that was taken.  The king came to Abram after his victory and asked for his people back and told Abram he could keep the booty.  Abram said he would accept nothing belonging to them so all would know and testify that Abram’s wealth and success came from God, not from military might or pagan’s goods.

Melchizedek, king of Salem (or Jerusalem) and priest of God showed up.  Not for sure why since he and his people were not involved in the fighting.  He brought bread and wine to Abram and blessed him and in return Abram gave him a tenth of everything. (Everything he took in the war or everything I wonder).

9a)  God will be his shield and his very great reward.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  So Abram could conquer and prosper by God’s hand and not by others.  So he wouldn’t have to accept charity from unbelievers.  So he could be the example of God’s greatness.  So all would know blessings and rewards come from God.

I think we all need these promises.  God is our shield and He is the best reward.  Agree?

10)  If we do God’s will and live by Him, then He will prosper us.  We don’t have to prosper on our own.  Many people today think they are successful because of their hard work but it’s really by God’s grace and will even if you are an unbeliever for God has plans for ALL and He uses all to accomplish His purposes.  Look at all the kings and rulers throughout history who were successful and not believers.  Yet God was in control.

Give God the credit and do His will.

That being said I do see a place where accepting charity from unbelievers could grow their faith as it affords opportunities to share the gospel.

Conclusions:  Focus on this lesson was on Abram’s refusing to accept booty from unbelievers for he wanted God to have all the credit for his success and not man.  I hope we explore Melchizedek tomorrow for there is a richness we are missing otherwise with regards to the Messiah.

BSF Study Questions Genesis Lesson 13, Day 3: Genesis 14:13-16

Summary of passage:  One escaped and told Abram his nephew had been captured. Abram, who was allied with his neighbors, called out all 318 trained men to go with him to rescue Lot.  Abram launched a night attack near the city of Dan, routed them, and pursued them as far as Hobah, north of Damascus.  Abram recovered all the stolen goods, women, and others, and rescued Lot and his possessions, whom he brought back with him.

Questions:

5)  Abram is loyal to Lot.  Abram is allied with his neighbors so he has diplomacy skills.  He spares no expense, requiring all his trained men to fight for Lot; he has some military training (or guidance from God) for Abram divided his men and attacked.

This shows the extent of God’s blessings to Abram in terms of his wealth.  Abram had his own trained army to fight for him.  This is NOT cheap, especially in ancient times.  Metals and weapons (shields, swords, and armor) were expensive–way more expensive than I would say 90% of the population at the time could afford in their LIFETIME.

6a)  Abram gathers all his allies and men and we put on the full armor of God (all of our resources available) to fight. Abram stood firm in his belief to rescue Lot and he was ready like we are to be when fighting spiritual battles.  Abram had faith he would win as we are to in our battles.  We are to pray and use the Word of God.  We are not told if Abram prayed before he set out, during, or after.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Full armor of God I would say is the Holy Spirit indwelt.  The Holy Spirit will protect your entire body.  The belt of truth is God’s truths and righteousness is what Christians are if they accept Jesus as their Savior.  The shield of faith in trust in God.  The helmet of salvation is our knowledge that we will win and be saved.  The sword of the Spirit is the Bible, God’s word.  Prayer to God for help to overcome.

These weapons have divine power.  We take captive every thought and make it obedient to God and we can defeat every argument or pretension with God’s truth (His word).

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Prayer and His Word.  Ask and you shall receive.  If Jesus chose God’s word to defeat the devil in the desert, then I will as well (Matthew 4).  “It is written….”

7)  Personal Question.  My answer:  It is comforting and humbling to know God is with me and I have the knowledge (His Word and Spirit) and He will give me triumphs in life, beginning with His Son who conquered the grave.  We are as precious to God as Christ is to salvation.  Amazing!

The challenge is to be that sweet aroma to others as I spread His message.

Conclusions:  Dreading this lesson when all the questions save one is on New Testament passages.  We studied this Ephesians passage in Acts last year, Lesson 25.  The questions are basically the same, just tweaked.  You can review my answers HERE and HERE.

Review.  I guess I’d better get used to this.  Seems to be the theme for this year.  I was honestly hoping for more in-depth on what’s happening in Genesis, not Ephesians.

Interesting Fact:  This is the first use of the word “Hebrew” in the Bible.

End Note:  My new favorite website.  I wish I could draw simple maps that make everything so clear!

http://www.generationword.com/notes_for_notesbooks_pg/genesis/14_1.htm

BSF Study Questions Genesis Lesson 13, Day 2: Genesis 14:1-12

Summary of passage:  Basically, the Babylonians attacked a group of peoples living in the Siddim Valley who had been under their control but had rebelled.  The Babylonians defeated or re-conquered them and took even more territory.  The Babylonians sacked Sodom and Gomorrah, which included Lot and his possessions since he was living in Sodom.

Questions:

3a)  Amraphel King of Shinar (Babylonia), Arioch king of Ellasar, Kedorlaomer king of Elam, and Tidal king of Goiim

b)  Bera king of Sodom, Birsha king of Gomorrah, Shinab king of Admah, Shemeber king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (or Zoar)

c)  Plain of Shinar (or Babylonia)

4a)  Lot put himself in the midst of these pagan countries by choosing the most fertile land as he saw it and pitched his tent near the evil city of Sodom (Genesis 13:11-13) and so he was caught up in the wars and taken along with the rest.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  All of our choices are the same–to either choose God or to not choose Him.  To choose God’s way or something else (either your way, the devil’s way, or some other idol or false god’s way).  This is what all of our choices come down to.  Obedience or disobedience.  It’s as simple as that.

Conclusions:  Didn’t like this lesson because we didn’t learn anything.  Of course, Lot would end up in trouble.  He chose to live with evil people.  The names of these kings are obscure to most and I would wager meaningless.  And the personal question?  I truly don’t think details matter.  What it comes down to is this:  you either choose God or you don’t.  Period.

My kids had this question too and they were stumped.  So this is their answer as well.

I do admire the note at the beginning.  This is unusual.  But it sums up typical ancient times:  people were conquered; the people rebelled; the conquerors put down the rebellion; prisoners and goods were taken.

End Note:  Great home drawn map of the region and the battles!  I love this website:

http://www.generationword.com/notes_for_notesbooks_pg/genesis/14_1.htm

BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 13, Day 5: Hebrews 13

Summary of passage:  Love each others as brothers and do not forget strangers. Remember prisoners and others who are suffering.  Keep the marriage bed pure.  Be content with what you have and be free from the love of money.  Remember the leaders who spoke of God and imitate their faith as Jesus is the same forever.

Be strengthened by grace and do not listen to strange teachings.  Jesus made the people holy through his blood.  Keep your goal as the eternal city and do not be afraid to be disgraced.  Continually praise God and share with others.

Obey your leaders as they must give an account so their work may be a joy and not a burden.  Pray for them.

May God equip you with everything you need to do His will and may He work in us for what is pleasing to him.

Grace to all.

Questions:

14)  Personal Question:

a)  Love each other as brothers; entertain strangers; remember those in prison and those suffering as if you were as well

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you and act out of love,

b)  Keep marriage pure.  Don’t cheat.

c)  Be happy and grateful for what you have and free from the love of money.  Remember your blessings and thank God every day you are alive.

d)  Remember your leaders and imitate their faith; don’t believe everything you hear and remember God’s grace.  I take this as imitate Jesus because many of our leaders are flawed humans.

e)  Always have the eternal kingdom in mind so we can endure disgrace if called.  Remember our rewards; nothing else matters.

f)  Continually praise Jesus for all you have and do good to others and be giving.  Give to others out of love and in Jesus’ name as he would do.

15a)  Leaders who must give an account (elected) and who are God-given.

b)  Pray for them.  Express your disapproval (this can be either verbally or supporting another candidate or leaving your church if it’s a church leader) but do not judge.  Find another leader who is more accountable for his actions.  Pray to God for guidance and then follow His lead.

Conclusions:  I didn’t know I’d get to study the whole book of Hebrews along with the Book of Acts.  This was a very pleasant surprise.

I like the simplicity of this chapter.  It’s concrete and gives us some excellent advice and action steps to apply the rest of the book of Hebrews.

Question 15 is hard to interpret because the leaders of their day were the church officials but also the sometimes brutal dictatorship of the Roman Empire.  Nowadays, we elect ours and they are much more accountable.  Nevertheless they are God-appointed and are serving His purpose even if we cannot see it or don’t believe it.  Everything works together for my good.

BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 13, Day 4: Hebrews 12

Summary of passage:  Since we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses (the faithful mentioned in Chapter 11) let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles and let us run with perseverance the race marked for us.  Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who endured the cross and its shame so that we may not grow weary and lose heart.

In your struggle, you have forgotten the encouraging words that the Lord disciplines those He loves and accepts as children.  We must endure hardship since God is treating us as His children just like we were disciplined by our parents.  For God disciplines us for our good that we may share in His holiness.  Albeit discipline is painful, it will produce a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who endure.

Make every effort to live in peace with all men and be holy for without holiness we cannot see God.  Make sure no one misses the grace of God and no bitter root grows.  Make sure no one is sexually immoral or godless.

You have no come to the mountain that is burning with fire, darkness and gloom or heard a voice that was so great it begged no further words be spoken.  Instead, you have come to Mount Zion to the living God, the judge of all men and to Jesus whose blood provided us salvation.

Do not refuse God who is granting us a kingdom that cannot be shaken.  Instead, be grateful and worshipful of the Lord.

Questions:

9a)  Everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles

b)  With perseverance

c)  On Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who’s in the lead

10a)  God disciplines out of love for us and for our good so that we may share in his holiness. Discipline produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

b)  Strengthen your body and make level the path you transgress.  Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy.  See to it that no one misses the grace of God and no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.  See that no one is sexually immoral and godless.

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  My friends and family.  Strangers whom I come in contact with.

11)  Personal Question.  My answer:  The voice would be most fearsome to me.  Being with God and Jesus would be the most glorious.

12)  Do not refuse or reject God.  Be thankful and worship God with reverence and awe.

13a)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Everything.  Everywhere you turn there is violence.  The economy is in shambles.  People are killing their kids and themselves.  Despair and the Devil are everywhere.

In my personal world it is clearing out all the negativity and those around me who only are negative so I can be whom I’m called to be.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  By not ignoring God when He speaks.  My following His will for my life and not my own.  By being grateful and full of praise and worship for God.  By spreading the Good News at every opportunity.

Conclusions:  I love the reminder that God disciplines out of love (as we do our children).  Sometimes when life seems like it can’t get any worse we tend to blame God and ask, “Why?”  Here’s our answer:  “God disciplines for our good, that we may share in his holiness.”  I can’t think of a better reason, can you?

Short answers today which I think indicates straight-forwardness in God’s word.  There’s not much interpretation here.  We are given reasons and answers.  Great stuff!