BSF Study Questions Matthew Lesson 5, Day 5: Matthew 5:13-16

Summary of passage:  Jesus tells his disciples (and all those people on the mountainside as well as you and me) that they are the salt of the earth but if you lose your saltiness you are no longer good for anything and will be thrown out and trampled by men.

You (believers) are the light of the world meant to be seen by others.  So let your good deeds shine so that others may praise the Father in heaven.

Questions:

9a)  In ancient times, salt was used to preserve meat and add flavor.  It was one of the valued “spices” in the spice trade along with many others that prompted the discovery of America.  It was a valuable and precious commodity of which men risked their lives for.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  As disciples of Christ, we should preserve God’s word and His teachings in the hearts and minds of others.  We should add flavor to others lives by giving them something (God) that is valuable.

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Not sure.  Not feeling very upbeat this morning or useful so tend to feel I haven’t made as much an impact as I could.

d)  Personal Question.  My answer:  I interpret this question to really ask in plain English the difference between living amongst Christians and living in a non-Christian environment.  Or it could be interpreted as what’s it like living when you have lost your flavor, meaning your usefulness in this realm.

For the former, we all can answer that due to the ungodly society we live in day-in and day-out. It’s an easy life amongst Christians, not so easy amongst others who are bent on tearing us down and trampling us.

For the latter, if the flavor of Christ is missing, you lead a tasteless life.  Non-impactful.  Dull. Blah.

I don’t think BSF meant the latter interpretation because it says you are living as salt, which is a shame since the passage addresses what happens when we lose our saltiness.

Christians can lead a flavorless life when they stop living an impactful life and spreading the word.

10a)  Light illuminates the dark and also pushes the dark back.  It also exposes what is in the dark.

b)  To be the light of the world.  To bring others the light of Jesus and to bring them out of the dark.  The Matthew passage says it better so I’m unsure why we were sent to Luke’s account of these words.  We are to let our light shine before men so that they may see our good deeds and be brought to Jesus and glorify God.

11)  God must work in you His good purpose so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault as we hold onto the word of life (God’s word).

12a)  Repeat of 10b.  We are to let our light shine before men so that they may see our good deeds and be brought to Jesus and glorify God.  So others may see grace in us and thus grace in God.  We are lead visible and intentional lives for all to see.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Not to hide Him.  To credit Him in public for everything in my life.  To say more often how it is all God’s grace and will working in me.  To pray that I am a light to others.  That I be cognizant of that.  That I remember I’m His.  And that I remember others are watching and judging me all the time and one never knows when I could convert someone.

Conclusions:  I felt the boat was missed on this lesson.  9d did nothing more than confuse people.  BSF took the metaphor too far in my opinion.  Did not like being sent to Luke.  As I mentioned in Lesson 1, I foresaw this as a pattern that we’d be studying the other gospels alongside Matthew since the stories are frequently repeated and I accepted this.  However, in this case, Luke wasn’t helpful.  I feel Matthew’s version is much meatier and I feel we didn’t touch on the “city on the hill” at all.  This is such a common quote amongst Christians (and non-Christians for that matter) that I felt we should have unpacked it and explained it so that we can understand it.

To me, “city on a hill” is Core Knowledge (yes, this is a throw out to you homeschoolers and educators out there), something everyone should know especially since it has been secularized and it’s meaning stripped (meaning Jesus has been taken out and man has been substituted).  And it was overlooked, bypassed if you will, for metaphors on salt.  Too many questions on salt.  Not enough on light (which is EVERYWHERE in the Bible) and a much more important study than salt.

For instance, did you know Jesus called himself “the light of the world” (John 8:12, John 9:5) as well and now he calls us that too!  Pretty cool!  I’m pretty humbled by it to be honest.  To be compared to Jesus!  Wow!  Makes my day.  It is both a compliment and a commission. Unmentioned by BSF.

Fun Fact:  This is the first time in the New Testament God is referred to as Father.

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BSF Study Questions Matthew Lesson 5, Day 4: Matthew 5:11-12

Passage:  “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.  Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

Questions:

7)  Matthew 5:12:  “great is your reward in heaven” when you are insulted, persecuted, and spoken falsely against

Matthew 6:3-6, 16-18:  God will reward you when you give to the needy in secret, when you pray in secret, and when you fast in secret.

Luke 6:22-24:  “great is your reward in heaven” when you are insulted and rejected as evil

Luke 19:11-27:  “Everyone who has, more will be given, but as for the one who has nothing, even what he has will be taken away.”  The two men who made the money grow were given cities to govern as well.

1 Corinthians 3:8-15:  “Each will be rewarded according to his own labor.”  “If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward.”  Basically, what you put in, you get out.

Colossians 3:23-24:  “Work with all your heart as working for the Lord since you know you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward.”

Hebrews 10:35; 11:26:  “Do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.”  “He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward.”

Hebrews 11:6:  God rewards those who earnestly seek Him.

8a)  Half personal question.  My answer:  The Bible tells us to rejoice and be glad and to not be surprised and you are blessed because of it.  Not sure.  Haven’t truly been insulted or persecuted because of my beliefs.  But I have had false things spoken against me because of my beliefs (see Conclusions for full explanation).

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Luke 19, 1 Corinthians, and Colossians are some of my favorites that I whole-heartedly believe in.  I believe those who have will receive more because they are good stewards.  You will be rewarded according to your labor whether lazy or not.  You do work for God.  I know I will receive God’s reward because I believe in Him, His word, and His son.

Conclusions:  Again, a lot of looking up that just takes time.  Great lesson to remind us that it’s the end game that matters, not what happens to us here on Earth.  We need to act with this in mind continually.  Then the daily dramas won’t be so dramatic anymore.

I pondered question 8a for a while, mainly because I felt bad because I haven’t been persecuted because of my beliefs.  Then I remembered the story I just shared with you all (read HEREany maybe that could be persecution.

Then I read a commentary that asked the question:  if no one speaks evil of you, are you living a life that the Beatitudes describe?

Well, put that way, yeah, people speak evil (or not nice things–evil is a bit strong in my opinion) things about me all the time because I do tend to offend (not as much anymore.  I have learned as I’ve gotten older!).

And then I thought:  we never know what others say about us behind our backs.  We never know how we come across to others or sometimes even if we do offend others.

There’s only one solution to this:  to live your life as the Beatitudes describe with the goal of being more and more like them.  Yes, you will offend people along the way because the world does not value these character traits and most people act the opposite of them in fact.

So, if you are a Christian, then we all have been persecuted because we all have had people who “falsely say all kinds of evil against” us because of God.  This is a consequence of living a Godly-life.  Of having the Holy Spirit indwelt who shines Him everywhere we go.  And it is “because of me”, because of God.  Because we are His.  Because we belong to Him.

And isn’t it wonderful?

So I say, “Say what thou wilt”.  For He is mine and I am His.  And there is nothing more wonderful in all of Creation.

BSF Study Questions Matthew Lesson 5, Day 3: Matthew 1-12

Summary of passage:  Jesus is speaking on a mountain with his disciples to a crowd (this is also known as his sermon on the mount).  He says blessed are the poor in spirit, those who mourn, and the meek for they will inherit the earth.  Blessed are those who search for righteousness, who are merciful, who are pure in heart, who are peacemakers, and who are persecuted for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

You are blessed when people insult you and persecute you because of Jesus because great is your reward in heaven.

Questions:

5)  Poor in Spirit receive the kingdom of heaven

Mourners receive comfort

Meek shall inherit the earth

Hunger and thirst for righteousness will be filled

Merciful will be shown mercy

Pure in heart will see God

Peacemakers will be called the sons of God

Persecuted because of righteousness receive the kingdom of heaven

Matthew 25:34 says those who are blessed will inherit the kingdom of God.  Matthew 25:40 says those who help others (any kind of help) are doing it for God.

Luke 17:21 has Jesus saying the kingdom of God is within you (referring to the Holy Spirit).

John 17:20-26 essentially repeats Luke as Jesus prays that God’s love will be inside of us and that he himself will be inside of us and his glory as well.  And Jesus prays that non-believers will see this love and come to him as well.

The Revelation passages speak of the Second Coming and how all of those who are blessed, who are believers in Christ, will reign on earth alongside Jesus.

6a)  Opposite of poor of spirit:  Those who do not repent over their sins, who do not fear God, who are prideful, and self-reliant.  This is most people today.  They think the world revolves around them and they can do whatever they want without consequences.

Opposite of mourn:  Those who do not feel, are unsympathetic to others, are indifferent to others and their suffering.  Those who are unrepentant and who truly don’t care mourn their sins.  Who chuck it up to life.  Those who don’t strive to be more like Jesus.  Again, this is a lot of people who are too selfish to notice others in the world are suffering and frankly don’t care to help.

Opposite of meek:  Prideful.  The need to be right and not submit.  A natural human condition we all must fight to overcome.  Most of us suffer from pride in some form during our lives.  It’s a daily battle to overcome.

Opposite of hunger and thirst for righteousness:  Those who disregard God’s laws.  Who commit adultery, who think homosexuality is okay, who take His name in vain, who worship other idols, who covet what they do not have.  Who submit to Satan’s lies in essence.  Those who do not seek to fill themselves up with God but instead use drugs, alcohol, sex, and evil to fill their emptiness inside of them.  This is a lot of people today as well.

Opposite of merciful:  Unmerciful.  Those who hold grudges and refuse to forgive.  Those who act out of spite.  Those who are mean and get some kind of sick pleasure out of it.  Bullies come to mind.  Many today do not forgive and it is one of God’s most important commandments as He forgave us everything.

Opposite of pure in heart:  Those whose treasure is of the world.  Who values material things over God’s things such as compassion and mercy.  The unrighteous.  Those whose heart serves two or more masters.  These again are many in this world.

Opposite of peacemakers:  Troublemakers!  Those who stir up dissent.  Who are infected with evil and thus do evil.  Those who reject God and are not reconciled to Him.  Of the world today, there are many.

Opposite of persecuted because of righteousness:  Those who will not suffer for God.  Who have not accepted Him wholeheartedly.  Who have limits on their faith.  Who will not go out of their way for Him.  It can be as simple as not attending church on Sundays because it’s an “inconvenience”.  Those who put their needs above Him.  Or those who renounce Him on penalty of death.  Or those who ignore Him when He speaks.  This is many today.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  I would like to say I hunger and thirst for Him and try to be pure of heart.  I try to do what is right in this world and what Jesus would do.  I study His word like I would anything else: with the goal of knowing Him and understanding as much as He will allow me to.  And I try to share Him with others as difficult as this may be (see HERE for a recent story on this).

I consider this a blessing because then I am able to share what I learn with others and my kids in a meaningful and understandable way in order to bring others to Him.  I write this blog in order to share my knowledge and have you all thirst for more!

In return, as I learn more and share more, I am encouraged and motivated to do His will and discover Him.

Conclusions:  Question 5 is very similar to Question 4 and I found myself repressing the scowl on my face.  For it was different.  Yesterday we examined the blessing.  Today we examined the reward for keeping the blessing.  And BSF took it one step further, asking us the opposite of the blessing, which allowed us to see our faults.

I thoroughly enjoyed this in-depth analysis of the Beatitudes and how I’m supposed to live my life. I have never studied this before so it was exciting to say the least!  I learned some new stuff, was reminded of some stuff, and encouraged to keep plugging away at my goal of being more Jesus-like.  And I hope you all were as well.  Long lessons but worth every minute!

BSF Study Questions Matthew Lesson 5, Day 2: Matthew 5:1-12

Summary of passage:  Jesus is speaking on a mountain with his disciples to a crowd (this is also known as his sermon on the mount).  He says blessed are the poor in spirit, those who mourn, and the meek for they will inherit the earth.  Blessed are those who search for righteousness, who are merciful, who are pure in heart, who are peacemakers, and who are persecuted for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

You are blessed when people insult you and persecute you because of Jesus because great is your reward in heaven.

Questions:

3)  According to Webster’s Dictionary, blessed means “held in reverence; venerated; honored in worship; hallowed; beatific; enjoying happiness; enjoying the bliss of heaven”.

My bible dictionary says, “When we ask God to “bless” us, we invite him to call our needs to mind and respond in meeting them.”

Synonyms would be:  favored, fortunate, beautified, consecrated, endowed, granted, glorified, hallowed, holy, revered, rewarded, sacred, sacrosanct, and saved.

In Greek, blessed means “happy.”

4a)

Poor in spirit: Isaiah 57:15; 61:1; Luke 18:10-14:  Those who fear God, those who submit to His power, those who humble themselves before Him, those who are contrite (penitent over their sins).

Mourn: Isaiah 61:2-3; Romans 7:22-24; James 4:8-10:  Those who are sad and grieving over something, those who grieve and wail.  Those who are so sad about their sins they are grieved.

Note:  The word “mourn” is not used in the Romans passage; hence, didn’t help me at all.

Meek: Psalm 25:9; Matthew 11:28-29; Zephaniah 3:11-12:  Those who are humble.

Note:  The word “meek” is not used in either the Psalm or the Matthew passage.  These only refer to the humble.  The definition for meek according to Webster’s is “enduring injury with patience and without resentment; submissive.”

Hunger and thirst for righteousness: Psalms 19:7-11; 42:1, 2, 11:  Those who keep the ordinances of the Lord and thirst for Him.  Those who long for Him and are never satisfied.

Note:  This phrase is not used in either Psalm.  I found this cute website of how kids explain this phrase.  Too cute!  See HERE

Merciful: Matthew 18:21-35:  Those who forgive their brother from their heart for sins against him.  This is the parable of the Unmerciful Servant

Pure in heart: Psalm 24:4-5; Matthew 6:21-24; 1 John 3:2-3:  Those who do not lift up his soul to an idol or swear by what is false.  Those whose treasure is God and whose heart is God’s.  Those who are like God, who hope for Jesus’ return, who are children of God.

Peacemakers: Romans 5:1; 2 Corinthians 5:19-20; Ephesians 2:15-17; 4:3:  Those who have Jesus, accept him, and thus are justified through faith, are at peace with God.  Those who are reconciled to God, whose sins are cancelled before Him, and thus are God’s ambassadors for reconciliation here on earth i.e. evangelize or bring peace (God) to others.

We are at peace with God through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross.  Ephesians 2:14 says “he [Jesus] if our peace.”  Be peaceful and not sinful.

Note:  Reconciliation is used instead of peacemakers in 2 Corinthians 5:19-20.

Persecuted because of righteousness: John 15:18-20; 17:14; Romans 8:17; 1 Peter 3:14-16; 4:16:  Those who are persecuted because they belong to Jesus and believe in him.  Those who are not of this world but of the kingdom of heaven are persecuted by those of the world.  Those who share in Christ’s sufferings because we are God’s children and heirs.

Those who suffer for what is right and endure those who speak against your good behavior in Christ.  Those who praise God for their sufferings on His behalf.

b)  No answer needed.

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  I need help in all of these areas and truthfully the only way I can develop these is to pray for God to work them into my heart.  Otherwise, my selfish human nature will continue to be so.  I need to be more merciful and righteous and pure and humble and meek and thirst for Him.  I need to fear Him more and forgive others as He has forgiven me.

If I had to pick one, I would say merciful.  Forgiveness is a hard one for me.

Conclusions:  This lesson is definitely a 2 cup of coffee one!  Set aside enough time to look up all the passages in order to grasp a deeper meaning of just how blessed we are by Jesus and God.  And we didn’t have to do anything to be so! This is one of Jesus’ most famous speeches yet few could explain it to others.

I love how Matthew shifts from the third person to the second person.  It makes it much more personal and intimate for me.  It’s like God is saying, “YOU!  Over there!  Listen up!  I’m talking to you!”  It’s so easy in the third person when we are speaking of “they” and “them” to not include ourselves, especially in the English language.  But the second person makes you wake up and realize, “Yeah, God is speaking to me!”

Facts on the Sermon on the Mount:  I realize there is just not enough time to dive into the significance of this Sermon but I wished one question would have touched on it at least.  This is Jesus’ summation of how to live.  This is Jesus laying out the Kingdom he has brought and the important points he wants the disciples to spread.

Note he is sitting, which was customary in that time period.  The students usually stood.

In Matthew 4, we see a huge crowd following Jesus so he summited a mountain so all may hear better.  Yes, this speech was to his disciples, but we are all his disciples so it was meant for all.

Known as the Beatitudes, these are the attitudes or characteristics all Christians should strive for. Note Jesus speaks in the present tense.  We are to have these attitudes always.

Cool Fact I am Jumping Up and Down About:  The Old Testament ends with the word “curse.”  Jesus opens with the word “blessed.”  Isn’t that cool???  It’s the epitome of who Jesus is.  Before, man lived in the curse he brought upon himself.  Now, we can be blessed because of Jesus and the cross.

Jesus starts with the poor in spirit because we cannot have the others until we completely and totally rely upon him.  We are nothing in comparison to God and until we recognize He gives us everything we cannot be the others.  This is the place we must all begin our walk.

Then we must mourn our sin, be truly penitent, be so grieved we cry out to God for forgiveness.  In return, we are comforted.

Meek is an example of lost in translation at its finest and that’s probably why a lot of us get hung up on it.  Scholars are unsure what language Matthew wrote this book in but the only surviving copies are in Greek.  The Greek word means someone who has power but reigns it in. The idea is strength or anger under control.  The idea to submit one’s rights under authority.  To be humble.

The Greek word for pure of heart meant straight, honest, and clear.  Two meanings here:  be morally pure and have an undivided heart in terms of your heart is devoted to God and God alone.

You must be pure in heart before you can be a peacemaker.  The order here is no accident.

BSF Study Questions Genesis Lesson 5, Day 5: Genesis 4:17-24

Summary of passage:  Cain lay with his wife and she gave birth to Enoch.  Cain then built a city and named it after his son.  Enoch had Lamech who married two women.  These sons raised livestock, invented the harp and flute, and all kinds of tools.  Lamech bragged to his wives about killing a man and how he will be avenged.

Adam and Eve had a son named Seth to replace Abel.  Abel had a son named Enosh.

Questions:

12)  It had to have been his sister.  No other people were on Earth at the time.

13a)  Cain was then building a city, and he named it after his son Enoch.

b)  Jabal was the father of those who live in tents and raise livestock

c)  Tubal-Cain forged all kinds of tools out of bronze and iron

d)  Jubal was the father of all who play the harp and flute

e)  Same as d:  Jubal was the father of all who play the harp and flute

14a)  Lamech married two women, against God’s original plan of one woman and one man for marriage (Genesis 2:24) and he boasts of killing and retribution.

b)  Same answer as a.

15a)  It shows how mankind has a choice:  to obey God or not and how many choose to not obey Him.  This has been the same since the beginning of time.  It shows the ingenuity God gave man in terms of invention and the arts as man fulfills his role of caring for the world.  This is still the same today as we see new inventions since the beginning of time.

Murder is the same.  Sin is the same.  Pride, boasting, and polygamy are the same.  The sins never change.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  I don’t think I’ve ever boasted of evil especially as an adult.  Not sure how I’ve defied God.  It’s not like I’ve ever said, “Yeah, God.  I hear you but I’m going to do it anyway.”  Nope.  In fact, still waiting on God’s words and I’d love to have a conversation (that’s not quite so one-sided) with Him.

I think most of us it’s the same:  we pray; we ask God; we wait for an answer; we go the way we think He wants us to go.  It’s not defiance if we choose wrong–not by any stretch of the imagination.

Defiance according to the Internet is “open resistance and bold disobedience.”  According to Webster’s it’s “disregard and withstand.”

By these definitions, I haven’t defied God.

Conclusions:  This lesson was vague to say the least.  Twice I thought the question repetitive of one already asked and the last question (which is personal and I’m unsure why it’s not marked as such) is out of place in my opinion.  This passage is about Cain.  And he’s a murderer.  I’d like to think I’m a bit better than that.

As a Christian, I like to think I obey God.  I can see this question applying to non-Christians.  Sometimes I think these questions are negative in connotation and make us wonder if we are bad people.  It makes us doubt ourselves.

I get defensive with such questions.  Defy is a very, very strong word.  Most of us do not “defy” God.  If we do, we probably wouldn’t be in a bible study.

I would hope we don’t go around boasting of the evil we do.  I know I’m ashamed of my sins (not evil mind you) and I confess and ask for forgiveness.  I definitely don’t tell my best friend about it.

Am I wrong here?  What do you think?  Am I just getting way too defensive?  Or maybe I have defied God and just don’t know it?  See….doubting here.  I’d rather spend my time focusing on the good I do and not the bad.

This question just does not sit right with me.  It gives me a funny, uneasy feeling that I don’t like.  It seems with all the “changes” going on in BSF (of which none are official–just from what my leader has told me) I would hope questions such as this would be re-thought.  For me, I’m trying to think of what it would be like to defy God and boast of evil crimes against humanity.  And I don’t like thinking about that.  Way too much negativity in this world as it is.

Now, I could say I have defied God in the little things.  Like not loving others as I should.  Not giving as much.  Not honoring my father and mother at times when I was a teenager.  Those type of things.

It’s hard to say because 1)  We are speaking of heinous crimes such as murder and 2) the word “and” in the question could refer to only those times you have defied God AND boasted.

We all Fall.  That’s  a given.  But defiance?  Outright?  That’s much more complicated.

Still, I’ve never boasted.  If you have the Holy Spirit, even the little defiances should prevent you from boasting.  Instead, you should feel an overwhelming guilt and repentance.

I don’t know.  Interpretation of the question and speculation of its intentions.  I’m just saying how this question hit me.

Just my opinion, of course.

BSF Study Questions Genesis Lesson 5, Day 4: Genesis 4:9-16

Summary of passage:  The Lord asked Cain where was his brother.  Cain replied, “I don’t know.  Am I my brother’s keeper?”  (Hence, where our saying comes from).  The Lord says his blood cries out to Him from the ground and He curses Cain, saying no crops will grow for him and he will be a restless wanderer on the earth.

Cain complains, saying his punishment is unbearable and someone will kill him.  The Lord forbids anyone to kill Cain and marked him as a warning.  Cain lived in Nod east of Eden out of the Lord’s presence.

Questions:

9a)  Cain never once asked God for forgiveness for his crime.  He never apologized or even admitted wrong-doing.  He only cared about the punishment he received and then it was still all about him.  I picture Cain groveling to God how horrible his life will be and how he’ll be killed.  Don’t you deserve it?  After committing the first murder EVER?

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  God took pity on Cain (out of His grace and love) and protected him even though he deserved a death sentence like Cain had given Abel.  God’s love is greater than man’s evil.

10a)  Cain selfishly complains.  David admits he “sinned against the Lord” and even composes a song about repentance!  David asks for God’s mercy and fully confesses his sins and asks for forgiveness.  He asks to be made better, to create a “pure heart” and then tells God he will teach others His ways so sinners will turn to Him.  He says he will praise God.

David has “a broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart.”  He humbles himself before the Lord.  Cain is still full of pride.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  I get defensive cause I’m in denial.  Yet as I grow in God, I get better and better at admitting my wrong-doings, truly repenting, and asking for forgiveness as I strive to do better.  Sure, I fail.  But I do see humility more than pride now.

11a)  We all have sin and we all sin.  If we believe otherwise, we are merely deceiving ourselves and the truth (Jesus) is not in us.  If we confess our sins, God will forgive us and purify us.  If we claim to have Jesus in us but we still walk in the dark (commit evil willingly), then we do not have Jesus.  If we walk in the light, we will have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus will purify us from all sin.

b)  Accept the blood of Jesus, have faith in Him, confess our sins, and we will be righteous with God.

Conclusions:  Good lesson on sin and the importance of confessing sin and making it right with the Lord.  Loved reading David’s Psalm.  Great, great prayer for us sinners!

As human beings, we all sin.  No way of getting around that.  We were born sinners.  Yet what matters to God is how you handle sin.  When you fall, admit it humbly to Him and ask Him for forgiveness.  He will grant it.  All you must do is accept Jesus’ blood and have a willing heart.

Cain’s attitude saddens me but I can see myself in him too.  Gives me something to work on!

BSF Study Questions Genesis Lesson 5, Day 3: Genesis 4:6-8

Summary of passage:  The Lord confronted Cain about his feelings, asking him why he was angry and downcast.  God told him if he did what was right, he’d be accepted.  If you don’t do what is right, sin will prevail so you must master it.

Cain lured Abel out to the field and murdered him.

Questions:

7a)  God told him if he did what was right, he would be accepted.  If he didn’t do what was right, sin would win and he must master sin.

b)  God understands the power of the devil and sin and is trying to encourage Cain to resist.  God does what every good psychologist does:  acknowledges the hurt and offers up a solution and encouragement.

8a)  If you believe in me, I will accept you.  If you turn from me, sin will consume you.  The choice is yours.

b)  1 John 3:10-16 explains that Cain did not have God and was thus a child of evil for he did not love his brother nor did he do what is right.  Cain was jealous of his brother who was righteous and thus he committed evil when he murdered him.  Do not be surprised if the world hates you because you believe and have eternal life.  Unbelievers are in death.

Jesus defined love when he gave his life for others.  We are called to do so as well.

Conclusions:  God always reaches out a hand to those who turn from Him but God cannot make us choose Him.  God knew Cain would kill Abel; yet, He offered him a chance.  Cain refused.  Cain did not have love in his heart.  He was evil.

One of the worst crimes against humanity and it’s been around since Genesis 4 (page 8 in my Bible out of 1370 pages).  Disheartening to think about.

Love truly does conquer all.  It never fails.  1 Corinthians 13

BSF Study Questions Genesis Lesson 5, Day 2: Genesis 4:1-5

Summary of passage:  Eve gave birth to Cain and then Abel.  Abel was the shepherd and Cain was the farmer.  Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to God. Abel brought fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock as an offering to God. The Lord favored Abel’s offering but not Cain’s.  Cain was angry and downcast because of this.

Questions:

3a)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Because God demands the best.  Cain only brought some of the fruits of the soil.  Abel brought the best (fat) portions AND they were from the firstborn of his flock (think venison versus veal).  Abel brought the choicest cuts.  Cain only brought hamburger meat (analogy here).

The verses point to how Jesus was a perfect, unblemished sacrifice.  God sets the example.  He demands the best since He gave the best.

Hebrews seems to point to how Abel had more faith in God than did Cain.  God knows the heart.  And Cain’s heart was not right that day.

It could have been attitude as well.  Abel came with a cheerful heart; Cain not so much–begrudging maybe.

b)  He wants our faith in Him and we show that by giving Him the best of us.  Then we shall be righteous before Him.  If we have faith in God, we will be accepted.

4)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Just based off of these verses (Genesis 4:1-5) and pretending I don’t know what happens I would answer Yes.  Genesis 3:15 is God’s promise to put enmity or distrust between the devil and man and how the devil will eventually be defeated.  His promise of a Savior.  No man had ever been born before so why wouldn’t Cain be the deliverer in Eve’s mind?

What mother ever thinks her son is evil or will be tempted by the devil?  I think Eve thought Cain would defeat the devil and could even be God’s promised Savior.  Here, in this offering, for all we know Cain is just in a bad mood or it’s his first sacrifice ever and he’s not for sure what to bring.  He’s learning.  We don’t know.  But I would say the devil does not have Cain yet here.

5a)  Seriously?  What’s your attitude?  We have a total of 2 verses here that talk about Cain, his offering, and his reaction.  Sometimes I wonder how much speculation, interpretation, and deduction BSF wants.  We know nothing of Cain’s life in-between his birth and this offering.  For all we know this offering made him snap.

His attitude is not good.  Maybe resentful of even having to offer a sacrifice since he did not bring the first fruits.  He probably grew up hearing stories from his mom and dad about how great Eden was before the Fall so he’s pining for that and resenting his parents for his toil of the land.

To Abel he obviously resents and is jealous (but we don’t know this until he kills him).  He’s just been shown up by his younger brother.  How would you feel?  Anger and downcast we are told.

To life?  Speculation:  Who knows?  Maybe resentful.  Maybe happy.  We just don’t know enough here.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  He was angry because he was felt not good enough by his offering and his brother showed him up.  His pride was wounded.

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Constant comparison to others.  It’s easy in this world where we do feel not good enough even though God says we are.  It’s tough to believe sometimes.

We all like to be the best and our human pride does get wounded often, which makes us unhappy or angry.  Also, if God is not our center, it’s easy to get off-kilter and be angry and unhappy.  We must keep Him our focus in the midst of the daily drudges.

6)  Sacrifice of praise and to do good and share with others.  Try to praise God every chance I get and do good and share with others.  Not sure on specifics.  Have to see what God presents first.

Conclusions:  Seemed to me to be a lot of speculation in this lesson.  We don’t know anything about Cain’s life after his birth up until this sacrifice.  We don’t know how old he is either.  He could be 12, 18, 22, 32, 102, 402…

Seems unfair to me to speculate about Cain’s life based off of one sacrifice (pretending we don’t know he’s about to murder his brother since the verses today do not include that–nor God’s reprimand and warning to Cain).  He could have had a great childhood, loving relationship with Abel, his parents and God, and just snapped in the moment.

It’s all speculation unless the Bible says and it doesn’t.

One could argue, “Well, he brought the crap which indicates he didn’t have faith and was resentful.”  True.  But it could have been a bad day or he didn’t know any better.  We are not told the REASON Cain brings the crap (except in Hebrews that he lacks faith).  But there are days my faith isn’t as strong as others and I’m in a bad mood.

I would like to think of the good in Cain.  Yes.  He failed this test miserably and God himself reprimanded him.  But saying his whole life up until the sacrifice was miserable and lacked faith is something I’m just not going to say or believe.

God wants us to be happy and have a good life.  And I think Cain did too.

BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 5, Day 5: Acts 12

Summary of passage:  King Herod arrested James, the brother of John, and executed him.  He seized Peter as well with the same fate in mind.  But the Feast of Passover was occurring so Herod had to postpone his plans for Peter.  Meanwhile, people were praying for him.  Then, an angel of the Lord appeared to Peter the night before his execution and rescued him.

Peter went to the house of Mary mother of John to tell them he was okay.  Many people were there praying for him.  The servant girl Rhoda was shocked as was everyone else at Peter’s escape.  He told his tale and told them to tell James and the others.  Then Peter fled for safety. Herod then killed all the guards who let Peter escape.

God then struck Herod down and the word of the Lord continued to spread.  Then Barnabas and Saul returned to Jerusalem from Antioch (Acts 11:25-6) with John also called Mark.

Personal Questions:

13)  Prayer works miracles.  The people prayed for Peter.  An angel rescued him.  If you do evil, God will judge you in the end.  Herod was evil to the core.  God struck him down.  Despite all the persecution, the truth of God’s word prevails.  Man cannot conquer God.

14)  God protects those who believe in Him even when things seem hopeless.  He rewards those who do not give up.  The bad guys will get their due reward in the end.  I can trust God to deal with evil people and vindicate the good guys.

Conclusions:  Do you ever wonder why Peter was rescued but not James?  I wanted more information on this from the Bible.  I’m assuming the Lord’s work for Peter was not done and James’ was.  James’ death had a purpose as did Peter’s remaining life.  Interesting to think on though.

End Notes:  There were several Herods throughout Roman history spanning approximately 100 years from about 30 BC to 64 AD–all ruling over parts of present-day Israel.  I’m assuming this Herod was the one involved in Jesus’ trial (Luke 22-23).  If you have a Bible Dictionary, look up Herod.  I found three pages in mine all about the different Herods.

The most profound thing I discovered was the Herod dynasty kept the peace in this region (hard even today) during this time frame, which gave the early church the time it needed to grow.  It postponed the inevitable clash which was coming of the Romans versus the Jews over religious differences. (Zondervan Illustrated Bible Dictionary by J D Douglas and Merrill C Tenney)

Tyre and Sidon were the principle cities of Phoenicia (modern-day Lebanon).  See map HERE.

Great historical background on both cities HERE.

BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 5, Day 4: Acts 11:19-30

Summary of passage:  Those who had been scattered when Stephen died  traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch preaching to the Jews there.  However some men from Cyprus and Cyrene began to speak to the Greeks as well in Antioch about Jesus.  As a result, many Greeks believed.

Jerusalem sent Barnabas when they heard the news to help.  Then Barnabas traveled to Tarsus to bring Saul to Antioch to help preach the Good News.  For a whole year Saul and Barnabas preached the Good News and it was here at Antioch that the term Christians was first coined.

More prophets arrived from Jerusalem.  One of them, Agabus, predicted a severe famine for the entire Roman world (which was most know places).  The disciples decided to help the Roman people during this time.

Questions:

11)  1) Men from Cyprus and Cyrene preached to the Greeks at Antioch and converted a great number of people. 2) Barnabas was sent from Jerusalem to help convert people.  3) Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul and he brought Saul back to Antioch to convert people.  4) More prophets came down from Jerusalem and one named Agabus predicted a severe famine in the Roman world (which was most of the known world at that time).

12)  At every turn, more and more people converted.  It was so successful, Jerusalem kept sending more and more missionaries to help out.  Antioch is in the Greek world, a pagan place, and there is no mention of persecution of any kind during this time.

Conclusions:  God can do anything and the power of His message is demonstrated here in Antioch where people in masses believed.

According to my study bible, Antioch was the third-largest city in the Roman empire.  It sat at a crossroads between the Mediterranean and the easter world.  It was a huge trading center and had a large Jewish and Greek population.  It was the first church with a large number of Gentile members and from here the first missionaries were sent out to spread the Gospel.

End Note:  Map of Cyrene in North Africa:  http://bibleatlas.org/regional/cyrene.htm

Great historical site and map (showing Antioch) fitting in the Bible with Roman times:

http://www.forumancientcoins.com/articles/the_travels_of_paul.htm