BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 25, Day 6: Ephesians 1-6

Summary of Ephesians:  Found in previous posts under BSF Acts.

Question:

12)  Ephesians 1:  God’s great power (verses 19-21)

Ephesians 2:  God’s grace (verses 5 & 8)

Ephesians 3:  God’s riches and his Spirit in our inner being (verse 16)

Ephesians 4:  God’s forgiveness (verse 32)

Ephesians 5:  God’s love (verses 1-2)

Ephesians 6:  Armor of God (verses 11-13)

Conclusions:  Ephesians is a great little book that explains the gospel and God’s purpose for our lives.  I got so much out of this.  It’s also very encouraging when you are discouraged, contains many words of wisdom and advice for living, and reminds us to stay strong on this side of Heaven.

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BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 25, Day 5: Ephesians 6:19-24

Summary of passage:  Paul requests prayer from the Ephesians that whenever he opens his mouth that words are given to him so that he can fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel to others.  Tychicus will tell them how Paul is doing and will encourage them.  Peace and grace to all.

Questions:

10a)  Whenever Paul opens his mouth, words are given to him so that he will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel and declare it fearlessly.

b)  Myself and others.

c)  I would say it is key in converting others.  Prayer is what will soften their hearts and turn to God.  Through prayer God shows up and He is the one who does all the converting, not us.  Your words will have power and not just be empty.  The sword of the Spirit is the word of God and this will slice through non-believers resistances.

When the Bible speaks of spreading the Good News, prayer is never far behind.

Romans 1:9-10:  “…in preaching the gospel of his Son…I pray that now at last by God’s will the way may be opened for me to come to you.”

1 Samuel 12:23:  “As for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by failing to pray for you.  And I will teach you the way that is good and right.”

It’s intricately connected, a part of every believer’s life, our life-line to God if you will.  It should accompany conversion. We need all the weapons we can get against Satan.

11a)  To update the Ephesians on how Paul (and others) are doing and to encourage them.

b)  Husband

Conclusions:  I liked how Paul asked for prayer.  A lot of the time we don’t.  We don’t want others to know we are hurting or suffering.  But this is the time we need others.  To help us through this life here on Earth.  Good lesson on asking for prayer.  If Paul needed it, certainly we do!

A good reminder on the power of prayer for conversion.  When we are telling others the Good News, we should pray for them at some point.  Pray for their hearts to become Jesus’.  And continue to pray for them.  And others.

I am texting my husband right now to encourage him!

BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 25, Day 4: Ephesians 6:17-18

Summary of passage:  Paul advises us to take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit (word of God) and pray in all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. Be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.

Questions:

8a)  It tells us to take the sword of the Spirit, meaning to have it to use as a weapon, and to pray in the Spirit on all occasions, meaning to pray all the time for everything (every battle, trouble, or temptation you are faced with).

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Memorizing key verses to use when I am assaulted. Ones that prop me up (different for everyone), and are specific to what I am facing. Studying and reading God’s word daily will change me, make me more Christ-like, and more able to withstand assaults.  Praying more.  Praying all the time for every thing that may seem insignificant to others but is a challenge in my life.  Pray for others.  Spread the Good News.

9)  According to Webster’s dictionary, alert means, “watchful and prompt to meet danger or emergency; quick to perceive and act.”

For me, be alert means not to become complacent in life or the devil will hit me when I least expect it and I will be unprepared.  I must be active in warfare, not passive.  I must always be prepared.

I liked the dictionary definition words “prompt” and “act”.  We must not let things linger and fester, things that could turn into sin.  We must be prompt to banish these from our lives.  I believe we all know what these things are when they arise for the Spirit inside of us lets us know.

Conclusions:  I’m not for sure prayer is a “secret resource”.  Prayer has been around for millenia in most religions.  If you hold any kind of belief, most people want to communicate with their higher being so people pray.  It may even be instinctual.

As a weapon, prayer may be a secret resource since some may not think to pray.  But again for millenia people have prayed before big battles or over dying loved ones or evil spirits or deeds.  I think prayer has been a weapon for a long time and not so much a secret.

The power of prayer is discussed a lot in the Bible.  Not for sure about other religions. But it’s a resource nevertheless.  You can judge if it’s a secret or not.

BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 25, Day 2: Ephesians 6:10-13

Summary of passage:  Paul concludes with a powerful message:  be strong in the Lord and His power.  Put on the full armor of God so we can withstand the devil’s schemes (which are endless).  Our struggle is a spiritual one, not one made of flesh and blood, but against the rulers, authorities, and powers of the dark world and the evil spiritual forces.

When the day of evil comes we must be armored and ready so that we are the still standing after the assault.

Questions:

3a)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Be strong in your faith and trust in the Lord.  Believe in His mighty power.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Pray all the time.  Pray when you think to pray. Make it a habit.  Read God’s word.  Commit it to memory to use as a weapon against our enemy (ies).  It all comes back to faith.  Believe God has power in your life.  Trust in Him. And give Him control.  He will do the rest.

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  With my husband’s job.  I’m just giving it to God.  I tried to take control but nothing is happening so God can deal with it.

4)  Genesis 3:1-5:  The serpent made Eve doubt God.  He made her question her faith and trust in Him by questioning God’s word.

2 Samuel 11:1-4:  The devil used a beautiful woman to make David fall.  Lust.  To which David could not refuse.

Daniel 4:28-30, 37:  The devil used pride in accomplishments to fall Nebuchadnezzar.  God made him crazy, humbling him, so in the end Nebuchadnezzar realized God’s power and the fallacy of pride.

Matthew 4:1-11:  The devil tempted Jesus by questioning his identity (Son of God) and even using God’s words and by offering him all the riches of the world.  Jesus used God’s word to vanquish him.

5)  God is greater than the devil.  After all it was God who threw the devil out of heaven and exiled him to Hell.  The devil’s sole purpose in life is to win souls to his side.  He wants to see all of us fall just like he did.  The devil will never cease in this quest to destroy us.  Everyone is subject to his temptations (even Jesus) and we must be ready to defend ourselves if we are to win.  The devil knows our weaknesses and will use everything he has to bring us down.  It’s up to us to use everything we have to remain standing (verse 13).

Conclusions:  I liked looking at all the famous temptations in the Bible.  As I become more comfortable with the Bible I begin to learn more each and every time I revisit these passages.  Lesson of passage is simply be strong in the Lord or the devil will get you.

BSF Study Questions Isaiah Lesson 25, Day 5 Isaiah 56:9-57:21

Summary of passage:  Israel’s watchmen (leaders) are blind, ignorant, mute, lazy, gluttonous, drunks, and self-satifying.  They seek their own way for his own gain.  The righteous suffer at their hands but God will bring them peace.  The watchmen mock the righteous when they themselves have turned to idols, lusting after them, human sacrifices, and pagan symbols.  They have forsaken God and even though abandoning God has wearied them, still they turn to idols.  The watchmen no longer fear God nor remembered Him instead relying on their own works.  When they cry for help, let your idols whom a mere breath of the wind will blow away save them!

But he who makes God his refuge will inherit the land and possess God’s holy mountain.  For God lives in a high and holy place but he also lives with those who are contrite and lowly in spirit.  He will revive such people.  God will not accuse nor be angry forever for He knows the spirit of man will grow faint before Him.  Therefore, God will comfort, guide, heal man, creating praise on man’s lips.  God offers man peace.  But for the wicked there shall be no rest.

Questions:

10a)  Israel’s watchmen are the leaders of God’s people.  They have disregarded God’s people in favor of drink and gluttony.  They turn their own way and seek their personal gain instead of God’s way.  What’s worse is they are supposed to be looking out for the people whom they have abandoned spiritually.  The watchmen ignored the righteous people but God says they will enter into peace.  The watchmen sneered at the righteous and persecuted them, thinking them better when the watchmen have turned to idol worship and would sacrifice their own children.  They have embraced pagan symbols behind closed doors and worshipped Molech.  Despite receiving nothing in return from these foreign gods, the watchmen do not turn to the One True God.  In essence, the watchmen have committed spiritual adultery.

b)  God says when those with false hearts cry for help, their idols will save them–these same idols that the wind will carry off!  They do not fear God nor remember Him.  They trust in themselves.  No peace will be granted for the wicked.  Yet those who make God their refuge will inherit the land and possess His holy mountain.

11)  Contrite means grieving and penitent for sin or shortcoming.  Lowly in spirit is humble.  Constantly ask God for forgiveness for our sins, to be constantly striving to be better and do better.  To be humble before God and others.  To appreciate God’s great works in our lives.

12)  Personal Question.  My answer:  God will live with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit and revive those person’s spirits.  I think I feel God’s presence more in my life.  I strive to be better more and be like Jesus.  I think I’ve been revived by God shining through me and in His purpose for my life.

Conclusions:  I love how God calls out those who disobey Him and who persecute the righteous.  He rakes His supposed watchmen vehemently; yet, at the same time, He assures his people He will not accuse forever nor be angry.  He understands “for then the spirit of man would grow faint before me–the breath of man that I have created.”  The fact that God himself would love man enough to consider how the human spirit can only take so much blows my mind!

God is multi-dimensional.  He condemns and judges yet always in love and not relentlessly.  He will comfort us, heal us, and offer us peace–things man desperately needs.

The first part of Isaiah was tough for me at least.  It’s hard to hear over and over again how man fails and God judges.  And God knows this!  Yet these last two lessons have been such a breath of fresh air to my soul.  To fully grasp Jesus’s suffering for me.  To have God declare He will be my husband.  To have God promise not to be angry at me.  To read Romans 1:16-17 and know I am righteous through no ability of my own but just because God made me so.  Amazing!

At least for me who has been consumed by the book of Isaiah, it’s good to be reminded that Isaiah is just one book of the Bible.  Just one.  There are many, many more that speak of God’s love for me as well as Isaiah.  And God planned that on purpose.  To know repercussions and consequences; yet, also how everything is from His extreme love for me.

BSF Study Questions Isaiah Lesson 25, Day 4 Isaiah 56:1-8; Exodus 31:12-17; Deuteronomy 23:1-8

Summary of passages:  Isaiah 56:1-8:  The Lord says to maintain justice and do what is right for salvation and righteousness are close.  Blessed is he who does this, keeps the Sabbath, and does not do evil.  No foreigner can say the Lord excludes them from His people for foreigners and eunuchs who keep the Sabbaths, pleases the Lord, and keeps the covenant, the Lord will give them everlasting life.  If foreigners serve, love, worship the Lord, keep the Sabbaths and the covenant, then the Lord will bring those to his holy mountain and give them joy in the temple.  Their sacrifices will be accepted and the Lord’s house will be a house of prayer for all nations.  Others will be gathered besides Israel.

Exodus 31: 12-17:  The Lord says to observe the Sabbaths because it is His holy day and so it extends to His people as a holy day.  Anyone who desecrates the Sabbath must be put to death and anyone who does work on that day must be cut off from his people.  The Sabbath shall be a sign between the Lord and the Israelites forever as a symbol of the six days God worked and the one day He rested.

Deuteronomy 23:1-8:  No one emasculated by crushing or cutting (made a eunuch) may enter the assembly of the Lord.  No one born of a forbidden marriage (would be foreign blood if an Israelite married a foreigner) nor any of his descendants may enter the assembly of the Lord.  No Ammonite or Moabite may enter the assembly of the Lord as punishment when they did not help as the Lord led His people to the promised land.  Do not be friends with them as long as you live (harsh punishment, huh?).  An Edomite is your brother (Edom being founded by Esau, Jacob’s twin brother) as is Egypt since you abided in his country.  After three generations have passed, they may enter the assembly of the Lord.

Questions:

8a)  “In the gospel, a righteousness goes forth–a righteousness that God delights to see and accept.  This righteousness is the provision of a right relationship with himself through the saving work of Jesus.”  The salvation is the salvation Jesus brought us when he died on the cross.  The righteousness is the gift of righteousness Jesus gave us when he died on the cross.  Through his death we were made righteous (a right relationship with God) through Jesus.  This righteousness is by faith alone from the first to the last (essentially from the beginning of time to eternity).  If you believe in Jesus and accept he died for you then you are made righteous in God’s eyes, which is an act of faith.  To be righteous is to have a right relationship to God.  Essentially, through Jesus’s death, we can have a relationship with God.

“To receive this gift of righteousness is to be justified by faith.  And those who receive the gift then are to live as righteous people, devoted to the service of what God declares to be right.”

All quotes are from Zondervan’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary by Douglas and Tenney.

b)  Verse 7.  The outer courts were the only place the Gentiles could come and pray. They were not allowed inside the inner courts of the temple.  It was not holy ground and non-Jews were not permitted there.  Buying and selling were permitted as well but mainly for sacrificial animals and money exchanges for tithes.  Jesus got mad because the outer court had become more of a market motivated by profit than for religious purposes.  Also, the market had grown so big that the merchants were pushing out those who had just come to pray.  The religious intentions had turned into a bazaar of exchanging goods and services; whereas God’s expectations had been for worship only.  (Some phrases summarized from Zondervan’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary).

9a)  All foreigners and eunuchs–all nations.  Traditionally, foreigners and eunuchs were excluded from worshiping God (Exodus 12:43, Deuteronomy 23:1, 3, 7-8, Leviticus 21:18-20).  Israel had come to be arrogant as God’s chosen people during their exile, thinking only of themselves and how God was only for them.  But here God says no–I love all people.

b)  In John 10:14-16, Jesus explains He has other sheep (the Gentiles) whom He will bring also.  They listen to Him and shall be one flock (shall be as equal as the Jews on the same footing).  Acts 8:26-40 tells how an angel of the Lord sent Philip to explain the Bible and baptize an Ethiopian eunuch (so both a foreigner and a eunuch).  The Spirit of the Lord was present.  In Acts 10:34-38 Peter realizes Jesus’s death was for all.  Jesus himself never discriminated while on earth.  While Peter was talking the Holy Spirit came on all circumcised believers and he baptized them all.

c) Personal Question.  My answer:  Unbelieving family members

Conclusions:  I LOVED Acts 8: 30-31 “Do you understand what you are reading?” Philip asked.  “How can I,” he said (the Ethiopian eunuch), “unless someone explains it to me?”  Awesome!  I am so excited BSF has embraced such a goal.  I wish other churches and bible studies would be as effective.  Explaining the Bible so we can understand and when we understand we can do better, be better, and share the gospel as Jesus instructed.  Great stuff!  Sometimes I wonder if my church has this at its heart when it’s mission statement is to bring others into a growing relationship with Jesus.  I think they forget the growing part of it and just focus on accepting Jesus and then you’re on your own.

This was a rough lesson for me in many ways.  Question 8a once again challenged my thinking on what is righteousness (something I’m still trying to get a grasp of in my mind).  Romans is such a key passage in all the Bible that I’m still struggling to get.  I had to read about the inner and outer courts to make sure I understood why Jesus was so upset and make sure I had it straight who eunuchs were in the Bible.  It took me two days to do this lesson.

I’m not for sure how Exodus ties in here (since no question points to it) besides to make the point of keeping the Sabbath holy and how Isaiah repeatedly stated if foreigners keep the Sabbath holy, then they are accepted by God.  I’m assuming this is for emphasis and to show its importance to God.  Therefore, it is a requirement to be accepted by God in the Old Covenant as Isaiah records in Isaiah 56.

End Note:  Traditionally, eunuchs are castrated males, usually slaves turned into servants who serve for a king and tend his harem of women so no adultery can occur.  They also attend the king as well.  Castration was also a form of punishment for rape in ancient China.  It was also used for religious purposes.

Biblically speaking, the term eunuch could have referred not only to castrated men but also to a male official or confidant.  The Hebrew word had both meanings.  The context must be taken into account to get the full picture.  Here, I’m thinking Isaiah is referring to the castrated male since no one with imperfections could enter the inner courts (which included those cut–Deuteronomy 23:1).

BSF Study Questions Isaiah Lesson 25, Day 3 Isaiah 55

Summary of passage:  Come, all who are thirsty.  You will need no money just come, buy, and eat!  There is no cost.  Why waste money and labor on what does not satisfy?  Listen and eat of what is good and your soul will delight in the richest of fares.  Listen and come so your soul may live.  God will make an everlasting covenant with you just like He did with David who was a witness, leader, and commander of peoples.  God has endowed you with splendor so surely nations will come and hasten to you just like for King David.

Seek the Lord and call on Him while you can (before it’s too late).  Turn from your wicked ways towards the Lord who will have mercy on you and will forgive you.  God’s thoughts and ways are not our thoughts and ways.  His are as far away as the heavens are from the Earth.

God’s word will accomplish what He desires and achieve His purposes as surely as the rain and snow water the earth and make it flourish.  You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace as the mountains sing before you–all because you listened to His word.  An everlasting sign for God’s renown will be the flourishing of the pine tree instead of the thornbush and the myrtle instead of the briers (His restoration of the earth and ultimately us).

Questions:

6a)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Through faith, God will fill up every hole inside of you.  You will never thirst nor hunger again.  Living waters will flow through you and your soul will live if you will but come, listen, eat, and be satisfied.  You will find rest in God’s everlasting covenant with you.

b)  God promises He will keep giving gifts of leaders and commanders to the people like David was.  Nations will flock to David/Israel/leaders because the Lord has endowed you (David/Israel/leaders) with splendor.

7a)  Seek the Lord while He may be found (now.  When our hearts yearn for Him) and call on Him while He is near (ask to receive Jesus and God into your hearts to receive His blessings now-death could be tomorrow).  Repent, turn to the Lord, and receive His forgiveness.

b)  God’s thoughts and ways are higher over our thoughts as ways as the heavens is from the Earth.  God does not think nor act like us.  He is pure.  We simply aren’t.  This should keep us humble and challenge us to be as Christ-like as possible.  To seek Him.

c)  Isaiah 53:5  Jesus’s punishment has brought us peace and His wounds have healed us.  Isaiah 49:6  Be a light for Israel and the Gentiles and bring salvation to all nations on earth.  Isaiah 42:1-4  He will bring justice to the nations and everyone will hope in Him.

d)  Personal Question.  My answer:  I now have the utmost confidence Jesus is the only way to God, Heaven and eternal life.  Otherwise, the alternative is Hell.  I knew this before but it wasn’t firmly in my heart.  Jesus was but the conviction of Hell wasn’t.  So now I am more determined to spread the Good News before it’s too late to those around me or whom I come in contact with.

Conclusions:  Another great passage.  Packed full of nuggets we all need to remember.  So uplifting and demonstrative of God’s love.  When people say God is judgmental or exclusive or what have you, this is the passage to point them to.  God is for everyone if you will but drink.  Does it get any more simpler?

My favorite verse is verse 2:  “Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy?”  I apply this literally in my life.  It reminds me of what is important.  We all have limited resources and I’d rather spend mine on God’s work and what He wants me to spend money on and not on things that ultimately does not satisfy–things void of any worth.

I also like Verse 8:  “For my thoughts are not your thoughts neither are your ways my ways.”  I always try to remember this when bad things occur in my life.

I wish BSF would have done a question on Verses 10-13 which are so beautiful and shows the power of God’s word.  God’s words are never empty and He achieves His set purposes even though we don’t know what that is.  “You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace” and the mountains and hills will sing before you when you turn to God, His word, and His purpose for your life.

A recurring theme this year for me is the importance of God’s word.

The everlasting sign, His renown will be through His restoration (here of the pine tree and myrtle) but I see this as our restoration as well through Jesus.