BSF Study Questions Matthew Lesson 15, Day 5: Matthew 14:22-36; Mark 6:45-56; John 6:14-21

Summary of passages:  Matthew 14:22-36:  After feeding the 5000, Jesus made the disciples go ahead of him in a boat while he dismissed the crowds.  Then he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray.  The boat was a distance away from shore so Jesus walked on the water to get to the boat.  The disciples thought Jesus a ghost and were afraid.  Peter decides to ask the ghost to allow him to walk on water if the ghost is really Jesus.  So Peter does.  But Peter becomes afraid, loses faith, and starts sinking.  Jesus then grabs him and reprimands him for his lack of faith.

Then the disciples worshipped Jesus and declared him the Son of God.  They reached Gennesaret on the other side of the Sea of Galilee where the people recognized Jesus and brought him their sick, which he healed.

Mark 6:45-56:  Mark reveals that the disciples were straining against the oars so Jesus was about to walk by them when they were all terrified.  Jesus told them to not be afraid and he climbed in their boat.  They were amazed for they had not understood about the loaves and had hardened hearts.  All throughout the region people came and the sick were healed.

John 6:14-21: After Jesus performed the miracle of feeding 5000 people with 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish, the people began to believe this was the Prophet sent to save them.  Thus, Jesus retreated to a mountaintop by himself so the people would not make him king.

That evening the disciples went off the mountain and set off across the lake for Capernaum.  It was dark and Jesus was still on the mountaintop.  The sea was rough and they weren’t making any progress towards shore.  Soon, they saw Jesus approach by walking on water and they were afraid.  But the disciples took Jesus in and immediately they landed on shore.

Questions:

12a)  Unsure what BSF means by “in the will of God”.  The answer is yes because we are all in the will of God no matter if we are believers or not.  God is in control of everything and everything happens due to his will to allow it to happen.  Verses referring to the storm:  Matthew 14:24, 32; Mark 6:48, 50; John 6:18, 21)

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  I didn’t “learn” anything but I am reminded that God is in control; He sends storms be it sudden or not into our lives for a reason and He is there to rescue us and end the storms in our lives.  All storms pass and your storm will as well.

13a)  Peter had faith enough in Jesus to jump out onto a lake in the middle of a storm and walk on water

b)  Peter had faith until the storm got too intense and when his faith wavered he began to sink.

c)  Jesus rescues Peter despite his unbelief but then chastises him for his unbelief in the hope he will be strengthened.

d)  Personal Question.  My answer:  It’s a reminder that God is always there in our troubles, right beside us, and He will rescue us at the moment we begin to drown even if our faith wavers.  All storms are temporary and this too shall pass.

14a)  The wind died down

b)  They worshipped Jesus, saying “Truly you are the Son of God.”

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  It reminds me of Jesus’ compassion on all his flock.  It reminds me that God is infinite and His love is infinite and I pray every day to live that out to the best of my human ability.  Reading this of Jesus walking on water does not change my life; but God does.  With every breath I breathe, He works in and through me.  And that is life-altering.

Conclusions:  This is one of those lessons I did not enjoy because not everything I read in the Bible is life-changing in that instant or ever.  It may also not be manifest to the point I even realize it is life-altering.  It may just be a soaking up of God that adds to my reservoir of knowledge of God and my appreciation and love of Him.  I already know God is there for me.  I already know my storms will pass.  I already know who my rescuer and savior is.  Jesus’ walking on water does not “change my life”; it only adds to my life, making it more fuller and giving me a better picture of Jesus, who he is/was, and a deeper love of him.  Disappointing.

I complained yesterday about not reading John so I was eagerly looking forward to analyzing the John passage here.  Once again, disappointed for no questions even address John and the differences between the passages. I would have liked to know why they are so drastically different and why the towns are different, etc.  Why have us read John if no questions are asked on the passage?

Consequences of too many expectations, I guess.

End Notes:  The Prophet the people are referring to is found in Deuteronomy (18:15) where Moses is speaking.

Mark 6:48 has Jesus keeping his eyes on his disciples the entire time.  We are never out of God’s sight.

The disciples have been rowing for hours and still have only made it about half-way across the lake because of the storm (John 6:19).  I think this is why Jesus decides to help.  The wind is too strong.  The same in our lives. Jesus and God help when the winds become unbearable for us to bear.  Note also rowing is not easy.  Our lives are not easy and they are not meant to be easy.  Doing God’s work is hard for that tests us and grows us.  As believers, we should not expect the easy road.

God’s timing is perfect.  He appears at the precise moment we need comfort and reassurance, affirmation and just plain companionship.  He walks by our side all the days of our lives, through the calm and the storms, lifting us up and setting us down, encouraging us every step of the way, guiding us if we mis-step and re-directing us, as we do His work here on earth.

Jesus performs miracles for our benefit, not for His glory as we see vividly when he turns down the crown (John 6:15).  It is all for us.  Imagine how much greater our lives would be if we truly believed that in our heart of hearts.

Merry Christmas!!

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BSF Study Questions Genesis Lesson 15, Day 5: Genesis 17:9-27

Summary of passage:  God tells Abram and his descendants to keep his covenant and the covenant of circumcision as a sign of the covenant.  Every male that is 8 days old must be circumcised including foreigners and adopted.  This is to be an everlasting covenant. Any male who is not circumcised will be cut off from his people.

God renames Sarai “Sarah” and says he will bless her with a son and she will be the mother of nations and kings will come from her.  Abraham laughed (who would laugh at God?  Don’t think God appreciated this) and questioned God (again) since he and Sarah are so old.

God calls the son Isaac, meaning ‘he laughs’ and says He will establish His covenant with Isaac.  And He will bless Ishmael as well who will be the father of 12 rulers and will be a great nation.

But Sarah will have a child by this time next year.  Then God left.

Abraham circumcised all the males in his household, including himself who was 99 and Ishmael who was 13.

Questions:

11)  Deuteronomy 30:6:  God will circumcise our hearts so that we may love him with all our heart and soul and live.

Ezekiel 44:7:  People who are uncircumcised in heart and flesh desecrate God’s temple.

Romans 2:28-29:  Paul explains that what matters is the heart.  Circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, and not by laws.

12a)  You are circumcised when you accept with faith in Jesus and accept what he did on the cross for our sins.  For Christ took our sinful nature to the grave for us and we were raised anew with Jesus though our faith in the power of God.  We are now alive with Christ and free.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  To fully trust in God and give Him the control over my life.  To listen more and truly hear Him when He speaks.  To quit holding things back from Him.  Attribute:  Faith.

13)  Verse 21 “…by this time next year.”  Abraham circumcised all males in his household as God had commanded.

Conclusions:  Admittedly, I didn’t even read the passage until question 13 where we were asked about the passage.

Faith made you part of the covenant but circumcision was an outward sign of this covenant and if you rejected it, you rejected the covenant.  Cutting away of the flesh reminds those that they should put no trust in the flesh.  Baptism is the same thing: an outward sign that your heart belongs to Jesus.

Rejecting both is not necessarily rejecting God for all we need is faith.  But when we truly believe, our actions reflect our beliefs.

Sarai means “my lady or my princess.”  Sarah means “a lady or princess” so now she is princess to the world.

Incredible that in Chapter 18 we see Sarah laughing as well at God and then she denies it! Good thing God is so merciful and gracious not to get angry about this lack of faith and stuck to His plan!

Interesting to ponder:  God blessed Ishmael because Abraham asked him to and Abraham asked him to because Abraham didn’t have faith enough to believe there would be another child.  I wonder how the world would be different today if Abraham hadn’t of asked God to bless Ishmael.

We as men have no idea how much our decisions and consequences of those decisions can affect others, do we?  Great lesson here for us all.

BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 15, Day 5: 1 Thessalonians 4:13-5:11

Summary of passage:  Jesus died and rose again so those who have died will be risen when Jesus comes again.  The Lord will come down from heaven with a loud command, a trumpet call, and the voice of the archangel.  The dead in Christ will rise first.  Then those who are still alive will meet the Lord in the air to be with Him forever.

The day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night, suddenly.  Destruction will come and they will not escape.  Let us be alert and self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate and hope of salvation as a helmet.  God appointed us to receive salvation through Jesus and not for wrath.  He died for us so we may live together with him.  Encourage one another in this.

Questions:

12a)  Personal Question.  My answer:  The emphasis on how all in Christ will be in Christ.  How the timing does not matter but that we must be alert, self-controlled, and ready for that time.  To wear faith, love, and salvation as our armor as we traverse this world.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  It’s a good reminder to keep the end game in mind when we get stuck in the nitty-gritty of living.

13)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Be being faithful to God every day.  By radiating love to all we meet.  By remembering salvation is the ultimate goal.  Remembering why we are here (for God and His purpose) instead of our own.

14a)  To receive salvation through Jesus Christ (verse 9) and live together with him (verse 10)

b)  To suffer wrath

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  God’s only desire is to be with us, His creation, forever.  We are not meant to suffer.

Conclusions:  I felt I was repeating myself over and over today.  Same answer.  Different wording.  Main point:  be ready for Second Coming so we may all receive salvation through Jesus as our inheritance.

BSF Study Questions Isaiah Lesson 15, Day 5 Isaiah 38-39

Summary of passage:  Isaiah 38:  Hezekiah became ill and Isaiah told him to put his house in order because he was going to die.  Hezekiah responded by praying and crying out to the Lord:  Remember my faithfulness, devotion, and good.  So, Isaiah spoke the Lord’s response:  the Lord would grant Hezekiah 15 more years of life and He will deliver Jerusalem from the king of Assyria.  Hezekiah asks for a sign which is the shadow cast by the sun will go back ten steps on the stairway of Ahaz.  Hezekiah writes about his illness, saying God alone saved him so he could praise the Lord and tell the living about his greatness.

Isaiah 39:  The king of Babylon sends Hezekiah gifts after his recovery.  Hezekiah receives the Babylonian envoys and shows them all the riches of Jerusalem and in the temple of the Lord.  The Lord responds through Isaiah:  One day Babylon will carry off all of your riches and some of your descendants will be eunuchs in the king’s palace.  Hezekiah does not care since there will be peace and security in his lifetime.

Questions:

13a) Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and wept bitterly.  He prayed to the Lord to remember his good deeds and devotion to him.  God spoke to Isaiah and granted Hezekiah 15 more years of life and promised deliverance from the King of Assyria

b)  God is in control and He can change the course of history through prayer.  Mark 11:24  “Whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”  Philippians 4:6-7  “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, present by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”  God keeps His promises

14a)  He foretold how everything will be carried off to Babylon (all the riches of Jerusalem) and some of Hezekiah’s descendants will become eunuchs in the king of Babylon’s palace

b)  Jerusalem fell in 586 BC (100 years after Hezekiah’s death) when God used the Babylonians to enact His punishments and wrath against his people for their unfaithfulness.  The Babylonians took all the treasures and burned the temple of the Lord as well as exiled the God’s people.  It gives me hope (as much as God’s anger can) because God is faithful and He does what He says He will do.  And if I am faithful, I should have no worries from God’s wrath.

Conclusions:  Faithfulness is the overarching theme here.  It is so important to God that he will remove you from His homeland if you disobey His laws.  Hezekiah was faithful and in the end he was rewarded extra years in life and deliverance from the Assyrians.  But Hezekiah’s pride of his riches got in the way and he flaunted Jerusalem’s wealth to the future enemy, for which all of Jerusalem paid the price for.

God wants us to be faithful to Him and His laws.  He desires the best for us and when we turn from our path, He gets angry.  Staying faithful is challenging, especially when we are young (teenagers and young adults here) and when we are blinded by crises.  But God always remains even when we stray and He awaits our return with open arms.

End Note:  Curious (as always) about what exactly was the stairway of Ahaz (Ahaz was Hezekiah’s father and King of Judah before him), I googled it and found this awesome little article with pictures of what the sun may have looked like when moved:

http://www.neot-kedumim.org.il/public/english/what/newsletter/2005_ye/ahaz.htm