I Am Proud of ALL of You!

I’m sitting here, reading Romans 5:12-14 about how all of us are born in sin through Adam and thus suffer death.

For some reason, my mind went back 7 years ago to my first blog post about Bible Study Fellowship (I’ve come a LONG way since then!).

I want to say I’m proud of you.

It was rough that first year.  I was the first person to “blog” or “post” my answers for all to see.  I was called many, many names.  I can’t tell you the number of times I was told I “was ruining BSF” and how “BSF is not meant to be this way”.  One lady (whom I had to permanently delete from comments from my blog) would lambaste me repeatedly about what a terrible person I was.  I shed many a tear over my decision to do this.

But you all have hung with me, creating such a warm, inviting environment for others.  And I am eternally grateful.

This year with all the changes BSF has done I know in my heart it is partly because of you all on this forum. You all posted your thoughts, your suggestions, your ideas–and BSF has listened!  They saw the success of this forum (and the need).  They saw you!

Now, those who are home bound can finally have a class to call their own.  Or those who live hours from a class can finally get a copy of the notes online.  Can attend a satellite group nearby.  Can hear a lecture whenever they want. Can leave comments on Facebook.  Spread the word about God with a click of the share button.

All because of you!

That’s something to be proud of!  Those who need God’s Word most now have access.  And, yes, BSF is not the only place to study the Bible, but it is one of the best bible studies in the world.

BSF now has notes in Chinese and Spanish.  BSF is focusing on young people and people in developing worlds.  They are using social media to reach more and more people (fascinating article HERE in Christianity Today on BSF). People who are hungry for Christ.  And you all have a contribution to that!

We all must change or evolve or we die (we die anyways as Paul points out in this Romans passage).  And I am so grateful BSF has changed along with the times, so it doesn’t die out.  So many need God now more than ever!

Thank you, thank you, thank you all!  I wish I could give each and every one of you a hug!

Two things I would like to ask you to pray over:

  1. If led, please give to your BSF class.  You can do it HERE on their website either to BSF in general, to specific areas, or to your class where a portion goes to your host church and other localities. BSF operates solely on donations and every penny counts.

2) If led, you can donate to my blog/writings as well.  There’s a donate button on my sidebar.  That money goes to supplement my income so I can continue this ministry.

God bless each and every one of you wherever you are at in your journey with Him.  He knows.  He cares.  He listens. He hears.  He loves.  He works.  All for you.  Amen!

Bomb

Bomb by Steve Sheinkin

Newbery Honor Book for 2013, Bomb by Steve Sheinkin follows the story of the development of the first atomic bomb during World War II.

From the possibility to the discovery of nuclear fission through the Nazi heavy water manufacture to the Manhattan Project and the attempts of the Soviet Union to steal the bomb design, Bomb is a riveting book, exposing the heavy toll the atom bomb takes on the developers, the secret-stealers, the people of Japan, and those of us still living in a nuclear age.

We follow Robert Oppenheimer, the leader of the Manhattan Project, which is the name the US called its development program for the atom bomb, and all the other colorful physicists who created the world’s most powerful weapon.  We see their struggles and triumphs, their sense of duty and desire to prevent Hitler from acquiring the bomb, their sense of helping the Russians in order to even the playing field, and their immense concern seeing its power afterwards.

This book humanizes the developers, gives the reasons behind the development, creates the sense of urgency, and the devastating results afterwards.  For those of us who didn’t live through this time period, Bomb takes up back to what it was like during World War II and fills in a void (at least for me) of the details.  I loved learning all of this since I only had a rudimentary knowledge of the bombing like most people.

An amazing book for all history buffs who want a relatively easy read without getting bogged down in the details of physics.  A few black-and-white pictures.  Probably for older kids although my 9 year old loves the story.  It goes into just a bit of detail of the devastation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  Highly recommended!

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BSF Study Questions Romans Lesson 7, Day 5: Romans 4:16-25

Summary of passage:  The promise of justification by faith is through faith and grace and is guaranteed to all who are of the law and who are of Abraham’s faith.  Abraham is our father though God’s promise to make him a great nation.  He believed God’s promise to give him and Sarah a son when they were both in their nineties.  He was strengthened in his faith and gave God the glory.  Thus, he was credited as righteous.  We are credited as well if we believe in God who raised Jesus from the dead for our sins and our justification.

Questions:

11)  Abraham’s faith did not weaken despite God’s promise that seemed to him impossible of having children.  Because of this his faith grew.  Abraham’s offspring in essence is anyone who believes in Christ.  “Those who are of the faith of Abraham” and “those who are of the law.”

12)  He knew the situation was impossible but Abraham had faith God would do as He said.  Because of this his faith was strengthened.

13)  Personal Question. My answer:  Two things:  my husband is currently in-between jobs so having faith through this transition.  Secondly, I believe I’m on the wrong path again for where God wants me.  Relying on Him to get me through this time until I have the opportunity to do another about-face and find Him again.

Conclusions:  Was anyone else thinking how Paul conveniently left out Hagar and how Abraham’s faith did waver in terms of God’s promise to provide him with kids when it wasn’t happening fast enough for him?

Anyways, Paul’s point is emphasized.  God credits us righteous through faith.  There is nothing man can do or can ever do to earn sanctification.  Nothing.  God in his love and mercy and grace gives it to us.  It’s that easy.  Say “Yes, Lord!” and it’s yours!

End Notes:  Technically speaking, we are saved by God’s grace not our faith.  Faith is the means to earn God’s grace but it is HIM who does it all!

Salvation is of faith.  Of grace through faith.  Nothing you can ever do will get you to God.  It’s all Him!

Think on it:  if it were works or keeping the law, none of us would make it.  We are all sinners.  Hence, our need for a Savior and grace.

Paul is emphasizing again how we are all Abraham’s children if we have Abraham’s faith and thus are all saved by God as such.

God calls us righteous (things) even though we’re not.  He calls the dead (us in sin) to life like He did with Sarah’s womb.

Abraham hoped and believed.  Just because God does it all doesn’t mean we do nothing.  We obey.  Obedience is faith in action.  We do everything with trust and reliance on God.  As we take steps and obey works results. God’s works.

God will bless us in proportion to our faith.  Hence, we attend BSF and bible study–to grow our faith.  The stronger we are, the more God will bless us, the more we shall bless others, the more works of God we will accomplish here on Earth.

When Abraham’s faith did not waver in God and God’s promise to him, God gave him a son.  It wavered with Hagar.   Do you have faith God will do as He says He will do?

The promise to Abraham is a promise to us as well.  Abraham is an example for us to follow.

For clarification sake:  you must believe that Jesus died for your sins on the cross and that he rose from the dead as we shall too in order to be saved.  Period.  You can’t believe in a Jesus who lived a good life or who is a deity.  You must believe in the cross.

The resurrection proves God’s acceptance of what Jesus did on the cross.  He died for our sins.  God accepts Jesus’s sacrifice.  Jesus rises again.  We are justified.

The ancient Greek word translated delivered (paradidomi) was used of casting people into prison or delivering them to justice. “Here it speaks of the judicial act of God the Father delivering God the Son to the justice that required the payment of the penalty for human sin.” (Wuest)

Verse 25 is the cusp of the gospel.  If death had held Jesus, he would have failed.  Since Jesus was raised from death, his sacrifice sufficed, God set his seal upon it by raising him up.” (Lenski)

Salvation is by grace through faith.  The gospel is the fulfillment of the Old Testament, and Abraham – justified through faith – is our pattern.

BSF Study Questions Romans Lesson 7, Day 4: Romans 4:9-15

Summary of passage:  In essence, Paul says it does not matter if you are circumcised or when.  All that matters is you accept Christ.  Then and only then will you be credited as righteous by God.  The law does not matter; only faith.

Questions:

9)  Abraham was 99 when God gave him the sign of the covenant of circumcision.  He was 86 when he had Ishmael.  He had been in Canaan 10 years since he was declared righteous.  So it was 23 years between credited as righteous and circumcision.  Galatians tells us it was 430 years after this that the Law was given.  Paul argues that circumcision does not matter because Abraham was declared righteous BEFORE he was circumcised.  So fast-forward to first century AD and circumcision still is not required to be credited as righteous by God.

10a)  Most of the time people become complacent and fall into sin if that’s their excuse for sin.  God’s measure of righteousness is faith in Jesus Christ, which leads to becoming more like Jesus.  Obedience has value since we must be obedient to God and to His word.  Depends on the sign as well.  However, it’s when you only depend on the sign or obedience for your salvation that you’re in trouble.  Paul says ultimately none of that matters:  only Jesus matters.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  I’m righteous (and this is a dumb question) because I accept Jesus as my Savior. We spent all of last week on how we are righteous through faith and now all of this week.  It’s simple:  if you accept Jesus died as your Savior through faith, you are credited as righteous.  If you don’t, then you’re not righteous.

End Notes:  In Chapter 4, Paul is trying to make a theological point:  all that matters is faith.  He starts with Abraham who lived hundreds of years before Moses and the coming of the Old Testament law.  Abraham pleased God how we do:  through faith.  The Old Testament law was never meant to bridge the gap between God and people. Only Jesus can do that.  The point of the law was to show people/us our need for a Savior (Christ) and redemption. The law showed us that need.

Paul’s point is because circumcision is not a requirement to be counted as righteous then the Gentiles can be counted as righteous as well.  He uses Abraham to prove this point because Abraham was counted as righteous with God in the Bible 14 years BEFORE he was circumcised.

For the Jews of the day, many of them were convinced you had to be circumcised before you could be counted as righteous.  This is whom Paul is addressing.  They also believed Jews only could call Abraham their father.  Again, Paul says no.  Abraham is the father of all those who believe.

All of God’s promises to Abraham were given before the Law.  Hence, they had to be based on faith.  The problem with the law is man is unable to keep it (hence, Jesus Christ, and a reason for God’s wrath).  And hence, faith only.

Transgressions (or an act that goes against a law) come down to trust and love and the heart.  You can sin without breaking a law or transgressing.  What matters to God is are we breaking trust and love with Him.

BSF Study Questions Romans Lesson 7, Day 3: Romans 4:6-8

Summary of passage:  Paul quotes David who says he whom the Lord forgives and counts as righteous is blessed.

Questions:

6)  David sinned against the Lord but he repents and is forgiven.

7)  The Lord does not hold our sins against us.  He forgives us if we repent.  We are forgiven.  We all sin but what matters most is accepting the consequences, admitting it, and moving on in God’s way.

8 )  Too many to list (not that you all care anyways–most are mundane).  The joy of forgiveness is living in the present moment, not the past.  Letting go of all guilt, putting that on Jesus, and accepting his sacrifice for me.  Living for now for Him is joy.  Being grateful every day for my life and for Christ.  Walking deeper with God.  Trying harder to be more like Jesus.  Praying.  Learning.  Growing.  Sharing.  That’s how Christ wants us to express thankfulness for him.

Conclusions: Short passage again.  Another pillar of God (David–the man after God’s own heart–1 Samuel 13:14) is justified by God alone as well.

End Notes:  David understood that he could not earn righteousness.  It is a gift from God.  And we are blessed when we are cleansed.

BSF Study Questions Romans Lesson 7, Day 2: Romans 4:1-5

Summary of passage:  Abraham was righteous because he had faith in God.  He was not righteous through works.  This is the truth for all men:  trust God–be righteous.  Rely on works–not gain righteousness through works alone.

Questions:

3)  Abraham believed God.  He obeyed God in all he was told to do (except with regards to Hagar).  He moved.  He circumcised his kids.

4)  Because people have to work to earn those wages.  Gifts are free.  Wages are earned.

5a)  Salvation/eternal life.  Death/hell.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  One of faith.  Reliance on Him for everything.  I have expectations but only because I have faith in God to answer and provide.  I expect Him to show up because He says He will.  I expect Him to answer prayers because He says He does.  I don’t expect anything of God that He doesn’t already promise.

Conclusions:  Good passage by Paul and analogy of what our relationship is supposed to be:  faith.  All of us can relate to working for others.  Great clarity!

End Notes:  Paul is answering his question from Romans 3:31 and he uses Abraham (the George Washington of the Jewish faith and one who is undeniably justified) as his example.  Abraham was accounted as righteous (Genesis 15:6).  He did not earn righteousness.  No one can earn it.  It’s a gift from God as a reward for faith in Him.  The Jewish leaders of the day taught that Abraham earned righteousness.  Before God, Abraham earned no credit.

Remember righteousness is the right relationship with God and the life one leads because of this.  Through faith this righteousness justifies us and we live according to God.

Grace (ancient Greek word charis) means the unmerited favor of God toward sinners who through Jesus Christ provides us with redemption.  Grace maintains Christians throughout their earthly life.

Grace is given. Works are earned.  Works connotes the idea that God owes us because we are good.

God justifies the wicked/ungodly.

All are credited as righteous through faith.  This was not just for Abraham.

There are NOT two ways to salvation – saved by works through law-keeping in the Old Testament and saved by grace through faith in the New Testament. Paul is saying (using Abraham as an example) that everyone who has ever been saved – Old or New Testament – is saved by grace through faith, through their relationship of a trusting love with God.  Because of the New Covenant we have benefits of salvation that Old Testament saints did not have but we do not have a different manner of salvation.

Fun Fact:  Paul uses the Greek word for “credited” 10 times in Chapter 4 alone.

Prayer Requests for Week of October 15th, 2017

Hey all!

Please either email me (atozmom.wordpress@gmail.com) or post your requests in the comments below.  Feel free to post praises as well.  I love hearing these!

Mine is the same as last week’s: Prayer for my husband and his new job.  Prayer for me in my job situation.  I feel like God is calling me (again) to do something else.  I’ve been applying for jobs so pray God puts me where He wants me.

Please keep these requests coming.  Never stop praying for the lost, for miracles, for God’s power to show up in your life!!  Please use this resource to have more prayer warriors in your corner.

God bless and have a great week!

BSF Study Questions Romans Lesson 6, Day 5: Romans 3:31

Summary of passage:  Faith upholds the law.

Questions:

11)  We can only be righteous if we are cleansed of our sins.  Jesus cleanses us of our sins so that we can live in Spirit.  For all of this to occur, we have to believe Jesus died for us.  Simple faith.

12)  One word:  Sin.  Sin occurs.  That’s what goes wrong.  God is holy.  He cannot abide sin.  Thus, we cannot be saved if we spit in His face and continue to purposely sin.

13)  Personal Question.  My answer:  He prods me when I’m on the wrong path until I turn.  And then He keeps prodding and adjusting my radius.  He is doing this now.  I know because I’m restless again.  When I get restless, it’s God saying “Um, yeah, you are not quite there yet.”

We all have free will to obey or not.  This is a gift from God as well.  If we wear His armor, we will persist and obey.  If we turn from Him, we will Fall.

Conclusions:   Notice how all of these questions refer to other passages. I’ve been in a pretty pessimistic mood this week if you couldn’t tell by my answers.

End Notes:  Paul will explore this more in Romans 4 (next week) but the law predicted the saving grace of faith and Jesus. Jesus establishes the law.

Antinomianism (Greek for “anti” against and nomos “law”) was a word coined by Martin Luther during the Reformation when people questioned salvation.  It means those who think they don’t have to obey the Law if they have Jesus.  God’s grace discounts moral effort.  Like I explained before, God cannot abide sin.  Purposely sinning goes against everything God says.  A new life in Christ means death to old evil desires (Galatians 5:24).

BSF referenced Romans 8:31, one of my favorite all-time verses.  Here’s Chris Tomlin’s song (again, one of my favorites) that uses this verse repeatedly.  Enjoy!

Conclusions to Lesson 6:  So we covered a whopping 5 verses.  But we read a ton more out of the Bible than just these. Next week we pick up the pace.  As much as I don’t really enjoy these slower lessons, it does allow the verses to sink in, for those of us who are drowning in “busy” work to catch up, and to explore more in depth what God is telling each of us.