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.

The Consequences of Studying the Bible (Or of Doing BSF–Whichever You Prefer)…

I’m doing another Bible Study outside of Bible Study Fellowship (yep, I’m nuts).  But this one is not quite as intense.  It’s more of a social gathering for ladies if you will.  Hence, I told myself, “Why not?  It won’t take up too much time.”

It’s actually my old Bible Study group at my church before I discovered BSF.  It’s been years since I’ve been.

Here, at this study, I am much more confident in what I am saying when I talk about the Bible. It’s not all Greek to me anymore.

However, last week, I did get into an “argument” for lack of a better word with a young gal at my table who held the common belief that God is not a God of wrath.  She just couldn’t believe the God of the Old Testament.  She tried to say how Jesus changed all of that and basically we’re not bound under the Old Covenant any more.

Well, having done the study of Isaiah, I just couldn’t keep my mouth shut (not uncommon for me) so I challenged her on her beliefs.  I explained that you can’t negate the God of the Old Testament just because the God of the New Testament is ‘nicer’.  God gets just as angry at His people today as He did in OT times.  I’m pretty sure God is angry when I sin.  Sad, yes.  But He’s definitely not holding a cheerleading party when I turn from Him.

Yes, we now live under the New Covenant but that doesn’t mean the Old Covenant can be shoved under the rug and  forgotten.  It’s important that we know the differences.  That we know how God’s people lived back then.  So then we can truly appreciate what Jesus did for us and how now we all can stand with God by His side upon death.

There are still consequences for our sins.  Yeah, we’re not gonna be sent to Babylon (mainly because Babylon doesn’t exist anymore–not because God couldn’t or wouldn’t do something similar today) but we all pay.  And that is because God is unhappy with us when we sin.

The Book of Revelation explains what will happen when Jesus comes again and most of it is not pretty for unbelievers.

I think people today do not “fear” God.  They embrace the loving God (and this is predominantly preached at my church) and ignore the God who disciplines us.

God is to be feared.  We need to be humble before Him.  For He is Lord and Ruler of us all.  He is to be revered.  Most people today do not understand what it means to fear God.  It doesn’t mean we are scared of Him or His ways like we’d be scared of a ghost or a goblin.  It means we fear Him because He is omnipotent.  He is in charge.  He is in control.  And we are mere ants in His world. We exist solely at His will.  We could not exist at His whim as well.

If we do not fear God, we will not obey Him.  We fear Him because we know we are to be judged.  Yet, God forgives us.  God also loves us and protects us from evil.

Psalm 130:3-4:  “If you, O Lord, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand?  But with you there is forgiveness; therefore you are feared.”

Genesis 22:12 releases Isaac back to Abraham because Abraham “fears God.”  This is the first mention of fear in the Bible.

In Matthew so far (and in most of the OT), we have seen when an angel of the Lord appears, most are frightened and the angel must say “Do not be afraid.”  This tells us we probably should be afraid.

I’m not saying I fully understand it because I do not fully understand God.  All I know is that I should be scared of God.  For He is my Creator.  And He could destroy me if He so chose in an instant.

Back to my story.  I’m pretty sure I offended most at the table, speaking of God’s wrath and how we cannot dismiss it because it happened in the Old Testament.  I’m pretty sure I didn’t earn any friends that way.  And needless to say I skipped this last week mainly because of it.  I don’t think many liked what I had to say.  I will acknowledge it probably didn’t come off as nice as this since I am a writer, not a speaker.

But I said it.  I said what little I knew of God.

Why did I say it?  Because I had studied it in BSF.  The study of Isaiah was all about how God’s people made God angry because they turned from Him so many times.  And how God’s wrath was brought upon His people.  His people deserved His wrath as we all do.  We’d all be better off if we remembered this fact every morning and every night.

Why else did I say it?  BSF exists to equip us to serve others.  To gain a knowledge of the Bible in order to bring others to Him.  To serve others in the community and the world.  It is my responsibility to tell others what I have learned.  My first BSF leader said if we graduate from BSF, we are basically receiving a degree in theology for free.  This has always stuck with me.

Was I called to say it?  Who knows?  But I would have been thumbing my nose at BSF if I hadn’t.  And that I will never do.

Yes, we are blessed because we live on this side of Heaven, after Jesus’ death.  But those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want a repeat of God’s wrath.  Babylon was NOT a fun place to be.

Help Me Find It

My new favorite song by the Sidewalk Prophets (one of my favorite bands).

It has all of what I believe to be the most important aspects of God:  trusting in God, having faith, grace, waiting on Him, God’s will for your life, and God being all we need.

The title stems from asking God to help find the road you should take and His will.  I love the emphasis on asking God to help you.  We all need His help and I think many of us don’t ask enough.  “God, help me” should be a cry we utter on a regular basis.  Not just in the big stuff but in the small stuff as well.

I love this!  Right now in my life I am seeking the right road for my life as I continue to seek a job/career for myself and figure out what God wants me to do in my next stage of life.  I have all these interests and skills and gifts and I’m trying to put them together to do His will.

The band sums up the song as finding the patience to wait on Him and then going when we hear Him.  You can view the band themselves in this short video sharing the story behind the song. View HERE.

Very encouraging song.  Very powerful.  My latest ITunes download that is played over and over in the car!

View music video on YouTube HERE

BSF Study Questions Matthew Lesson 4, Day 5: Matthew 4:12-25

Summary of passage:  When John the Baptist had been put in prison, Jesus returned to Galilee.  He left Nazareth and went to live in Capernaum, which fulfilled Isaiah 9: 1,2.

Jesus called Simon (Peter) and his brother Andrew to follow him.  Then he called James and John.  Jesus traveled throughout Galilee, teaching the good news and healing people.  News about him spread and people brought him man sick to heal.  Large crowds followed him.

Questions:

8a)  Isaiah 9:1-2:  Jesus visited the land of Zebulun and Naphtali and Galilee.  He was the light to those living in the shadow of death.

Isaiah 11:1-3:  Jesus will come from the line of Jesse and the Spirit of the Lord will rest upon him, a Spirit of wisdom and understanding, counsel, power, fear of the Lord and he will judge with righteousness.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Jesus is definitely the light in my otherwise dark world.  I know I am judged by righteousness and I am saved eternally.  I can go to him for wisdom, understanding, and counsel whenever I need him.

9a)  Personal Question.  My answer:  It was immediate.  One command was all it took to obey Jesus.

b)  He will make them fishers of men.

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Fishers of men is disciples so they would learn from Jesus first-hand as they followed him in his ministry and then go and “fish” out others to convert.  I believe I am learning every day to follow Jesus and be like him and as I do I gain the knowledge I need to speak the good news to others.

10a)  Repent, turn to God, and accept Jesus for the kingdom of God is near.

b)  John the Baptist was preaching the same thing of repentance, only saying that Jesus was coming as well.  When Jesus arrived, he brought the power of the Holy Spirit and the ability to grant people eternal life.

c)  Accept me (Jesus) and have eternal salvation.

11a)  Jesus has come to save you from you sins and offer you a way to God once again.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  In Isaiah 35:10, we learn we will have everlasting joy and sorrow will flee away.  Jesus came to save us all and to heal the sick and the broken-hearted who desperately need him.  If we accept him, nothing can defeat us (including the devil) for Jesus is our guiding light in this dark world.

Conclusions:  Wasn’t feeling this lesson.  Not sure why.  It seemed to be the same idea and thought and question just worded differently.  We spent a lot of time in Isaiah looking at the prophecy of Jesus.

My favorite part was how the disciples immediately followed Jesus.  They didn’t say,”Hold on, Jesus.  I gotta go home and get a few things and make sure my house is in order.”  No.  They dropped what they were doing and followed him without question.  Great example for us when we are called to do His work.

Extras:  Great explanation of the phrase “fishers of men” HERE

Map showing Capernaum and Nazareth HERE

Map showing Zebulun and Naphtali HERE

Explanations:  Matthew leaves out some of Jesus’ first ministries that is recorded in the first four chapters of John.  Jesus left Nazareth because they did not believe in him (Luke 4:16-30) and chose Capernaum instead.  Galilee at this time is a highly-populated, very productive and economically viable state with very fertile land with a lot of Gentiles.

The Greek word for preach means a herald’s proclamation from a king.  Jesus was the herald for God.

Jesus had actually met these men previously (John 1:35-42 & Luke 5:3) but this was the first time he called them to follow him.

Fun Fact:  This is the first time demon-possessed is mentioned in the New Testament.  With the exception of Saul, it seems to be much more common in the New Testament than the Old Testament.

BSF Study Questions Matthew Lesson 4, Day 4: Matthew 4:1-11

Summary of passage:  Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil.  He fasted for 40 days and nights and the tempter told him to turn stones to bread.  Jesus said he only needed the word of God to live.  The tempter took him to the highest point of the temple and told him to jump.  Jesus said not to test God.

The devil offered him to rule the world if he only would worship him.  Jesus told him to go away for only God deserves to be worshipped.  Angels came to him afterwards.

Questions:

6a)  Satan suggested that Jesus perform a miracle to satisfy his human need to eat by turning stones to bread (verse 3).   Jesus quoted Deuteronomy 8:3 to resist.

Satan suggested that Jesus test God’s word by jumping from the temple and having the angels catch him (verse 6).  Jesus quoted Psalm 91:11-12 to resist.

Satan appealed to human pride by telling Jesus he could have all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor if he’d bow and worship him (verse 8-9).  Jesus quoted Deuteronomy 6:13 to resist.

b)  Satan appealed to the needs of the flesh in terms of eating.  Jesus says all we need for bread is God’s word.

Jumping off the roof of the temple would be a sensational act, one that would attract huge amounts of attention.  Further, this would test God, something we are never to do.  This was the test of pride.

The third temptation was an attempt to get Jesus to skip the cross and have all the kingdoms of the world, which Jesus gained anyways when he died for us.  And Satan wanted Jesus to worship him.  Jesus gained the world as we will as well when we die and are granted eternal life without giving into earthly, material desires.

c)  God’s word should be more precious to us than bread.  We need Him more than we need to eat.  Jesus was also being tested to use his gifts from God for selfish purposes.  We face this all the time especially in the media and with celebrities.  We see those with enormous talent fall flat and waste God’s gift that could have been used to advance His kingdom as they fall further and further into sin and the ways of this world.  Jesus would not perform a miracle just because he could.

How many times have we asked God for a miraculous sign only to come up empty-handed?  That’s not to say we can’t ask for miracles in our lives.  But we can’t ask for miracles just for the sake of a miracle that has no purpose.  This is an attempt to seek approval from not only God but also from others.  God has given us his greatest act of external love we need to see–Jesus on the cross.  We should demand nothing else from God.

How many times have we worshipped false idols instead of the One, True God?  Here, the devil is a false-idol, desperate for your attention.  The devil will offer us our deepest desires if we only turn away from God.  Any material, earthly thing we want, the devil will grant us if we sin enough.  Literature is filled with allusions of selling our soul to the devil for such things as eternal life, gold, etc.  Stories such as Dante’s Divine Comedy, King Midas, The Chronicles of Narnia come to mind.

The devil will promise us the world if we worship him.  Jesus says defiantly “No!”

d)  Personal Question.  My answer:  We will not be tempted beyond what we can bear and every temptation has a way out.  God closes doors on paths He doesn’t want us to take.  My temptations are daily to sin in small ways but they are big to me.  Yet, I know I have a way out.  Often to not say discouraging words or to be kind instead of mean to others.  To offer help when all I want to do is walk away.  To give of my time which I am very selfish about.  To put others first.  To care more than I’d like to.

In essence, that I can overcome my human nature to be more like Jesus.

7a)  Angels came and attended Jesus (scholars says this means brought him food).

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  There is no guilt when we resist temptation.  In fact, we are strengthened.  We become a bit more like Jesus and it shows to all.  I just feel better about myself as a whole when I deny the flesh and the lies and seek His truth instead–when I do do what Jesus would do.

Conclusions:  Through temptation number 3, we learn that Satan does have authority and dominion over this world. It was originally given to Adam (Genesis 1:28-30) but he gave it to Satan when he let him into the world.  2 Corinthians 4:4 reminds us that the devil if only of this age, not of heaven.

There is not a better example in the Bible of overcoming temptation that Jesus’ example.  Great study and analysis of pulling out all the tactics the devil uses (basically lies and deceit) and focusing on our weapons (the Truth of God’s word and ways) that will set us free if embraced.  So embrace it today!

It offers us encouragement and I’m glad we studied this at the beginning of the year as I for one needed it!

BSF Study Questions Matthew Lesson 4, Day 3: Matthew 4:1-11

Summary of passage:  Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil.  He fasted for 40 days and nights and the tempter told him to turn stones to bread.  Jesus said he only needed the word of God to live.  The tempter took him to the highest point of the temple and told him to jump.  Jesus said not to test God.

The devil offered him to rule the world if he only would worship him.  Jesus told him to go away for only God deserves to be worshipped.  Angels came to him afterwards.

Questions:

5a)  He said “If you are the Son of God” (verse 3, 6).  Satan also repeated “It is written” (verse 4, 6, 7, 10).  Satan’s is verse 6

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Jesus had just been baptized which is an outward sign of being cleansed from all sin and now Jesus heads to the wilderness to be tempted, which also happens to all sinners.  So Jesus is again identifying with us (sinners) and showing us how to live.  He sets the example of being baptized into Him and of overcoming temptation through God’s word.  Showing us how to be more like him!

c)  Personal Question.  My answers:

Matthew 6:25-26:  The command is to not worry about anything for the Father takes care of all of our needs just like He does the birds.  Who amongst us doesn’t worry?  We are tempted to take things in our own hands instead of placing them in God’s.  It’s a lack of faith in God and who He is that we are lacking.

Acts 4:12:  Salvation is found in Jesus.  People today don’t believe this and don’t believe in Jesus or believe in something else that will not bring them salvation.

Romans 8:16:  The indwelt Holy Spirit marks us as God’s children.  People don’t believe that and thus do not act like Jesus would.  They dismiss the significance and magnitude of the Spirit within and sometimes fight against it.

2 Corinthians 4:8:  Even though life is hard and we are confused, we are not defeated for we have Immanuel, God with us, inside of us all the days of our life.

1 John 1:9:  If we confess our sins, God will forgive our sins and purify us.  A lot of Christians do not confess their sins or don’t give them over to God to handle and thus walk this world needlessly carrying burdens God should be carrying.

Hebrews 2:1:  We must heed God’s words so we do not drift away.  A lot of Christians today do not know God’s word and do drift from Him into sin.

Conclusions:  Especially for the 2 Corinthians passage, read before and after in order to get a greater sense of the context of this tiny verse.  It will make much more sense if you do.

Again, we must watch out for Satan’s ploys and twistings of God’s word.  We must etch God’s words onto our heart, believe what God tells us is true, in order to fight the constant lies that bombard us every day.  God is enough.  We must only have the faith to allow Him to be so.

BSF Study Questions Matthew Lesson 4, Day 2: Matthew 4:1-11

Summary of passage:  Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil.  He fasted for 40 days and nights and the tempter told him to turn stones to bread.  Jesus said he only needed the word of God to live.  The tempter took him to the highest point of the temple and told him to jump.  Jesus said not to test God.

The devil offered him to rule the world if he only would worship him.  Jesus told him to go away for only God deserves to be worshipped.  Angels came to him afterwards.

Questions:

3a)  The desert.  To be tempted.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  To share in our humanity, to become merciful and a faithful high priest in service to God so that he might make atonement for the sins of people.  Because he suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.  It encourages me because I know how much God loves us.  He didn’t need to be tempted for he understood us, His creation, completely.  But God sent Jesus to become man for our benefit–so we would more fully believe in Him.  So we would have an example of how to defeat the devil.  So that we could identify with him.  And so we could see Jesus’ holiness.

Jesus used a weapon we all can use–God’s word.

4a)  Eve was almost immediately blinded by the things of this world:  how good the fruit was and how pleasing to the eye it was and also her desire for wisdom.  She lost track of the things of God’s world, which at that point was His word since Adam and Eve lived in Paradise, and also God’s character and who He was.

Jesus never forgot who God was.  He used God’s words against the devil as defense.  He didn’t care for the kingdoms of this world for his eye was fixed on the kingdoms of God’s world.

b)  Differences:  Jesus used God’s words against the devil.  Eve had no defense in essence.  She believed the devil over God.  Adam and Eve tested God’s words; Jesus didn’t.  Eve gave into lust of the eyes, flesh, and pride.  Jesus did not.

Similarities:  The serpent/devil was equally crafty and deceptive.  He tried to plant doubt of God in both Eve’s mind and Jesus’.  The devil was in physical form.  Both had a personal relationship with God and both had the same weapons available.

Conclusions:  Very similar to a lesson in Genesis last year (see Lesson HERE) where we were asked the exact same question with regards to Jesus.

Take away:  God loves us so much He allows us to be tempted so that we may turn to Him in faith.

Martin Luther once said that prayer, meditation, and temptation are the best instructors of God’s word.  Because in it we learn who He is.

We also see 40 days and nights in Noah and the Flood and the Israelites wandering in the wilderness.

Satan quotes God’s word as well but he twists it and leaves out important phrases.  It’s our job to know God’s word so we do not fall into the trap of twisted lies.

We will all face temptation.  But it is a sin when we give in.  The devil cannot win against us if we use God’s word as a weapon.  It is too powerful.  Through Jesus we know we can defeat the devil’s tactics.