Figuring Out Life at Starbucks…

Rain+Coffee+Book=Heaven

Yesterday, it was rainy and cold and blah.

My part-time job takes about 3-4 hours during the morning.  Then I’m free till it’s time to pick up the kids from school.

So Starbucks has become my hang out.  It’s close to my kids’ school and they have, of course, the life-sustaining beverage of choice–coffee!

The last few weeks I’ve been trying to figure things out in my life.  Ya know, the usual, what to do, where does God want me, etc.

I know I need to write.  But what?

I know I need to find a different job.  But what?

I know I need to change my diet.  (Finally figured this one out last night after weeks of wishy-washy-ness).

Well, at least I know some things.

And, luckily for me, God knows the rest.  I just need to trust in Him to put my footsteps where they need to fall.

Thank God, right?

BSF Study Questions Romans Lesson 4, Day 5: Romans 3:19-20

Summary of passage:  The whole world is accountable to God and His Word.  His Word makes all conscious of sin and merely observing the law does not make you righteous.

Questions:

11)  The whole world is accountable to God and His Word.  His Word makes all conscious of sin and merely observing the law does not make you righteous.

12a) Just that:  To silence every critic, God is making it clear ALL are guilty before Him.

b) So far, it hasn’t really. I’ve learned more about the importance of it, but it hasn’t had an concrete effects on identifying and confessing sins.  It’s Week 4.

Conclusions: Unsure why we need a whole day on these two verses (besides the obvious that Romans only has 16 chapters for a 30 week study), which in my mind only emphasizes the facts we’re not righteous just because we obey the law, which is what we’ve been talking about all week.

End Notes:  The law cannot save you.  It gives you knowledge of your sins, not salvation.  In fact, it condemns you, not saves you.  Yes, God wants you to keep His laws and walk in His ways.  But that alone will not give you eternal life.  Only the purifying blood of Jesus can do so under the New Covenant.

J.B. Phillip’s paraphrase of “through the law we become conscious of sin” is striking.  He writes, “it is the straight-edge of the Law that shows us how crooked we are.

BSF Study Questions Romans Lesson 4, Day 4: Romans 3:9-18

Summary of passage:  Paul says we are all sinners and no one is righteous, quoting from the Old Testament.

Questions:

8a)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  No one understands God.  No one seeks Him.  All turn away and become worthless.  No one does good.  Their throats are open graves, their tongues full of deceit, and they speak poison.  They curse and are bitter.  They are swift to shed blood.  They bring ruin and misery.  They do not know peace.  They do not fear God.  We all have sin in our lives and are surrounded by sinners.  People are mean.  They fall away from God.  Wars.  Flippant attitude towards God and sinning.  Personally, sticking to God’s path is the hardest and dealing with my own sin.

b)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  Tongues are full of deceit.  The poison of vipers is on their lips.  Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.  The tongue can corrupt the whole person.  It is full of evil and poison.  Speak more words of encouragement and praise.  There’s enough complaining and tearing down in this world.

9)  No one fears God.  Well, Paul quotes from the Old Testament here and he is living in New Testament times.  Regardless, man’s nature doesn’t change with time.  He is a sinner and is prone to turn away from God and not fear Him. God thus judges and punishes as we see all throughout the Old and New Testament.  So will it be until the Second Coming.

10)  Think before you act.  Repent.  Ask for forgiveness.  Put others first.  Follow God’s laws.  Worship Him.  Treat God and Jesus with the respect they deserve.  Both lie in your heart and you do everything in your power to keep them there.

Conclusions:  Paul again is emphasizing how we are all the same no matter what our backgrounds. God treats us equally.  He takes it further here by saying we are all sinners and listing ways in which we sin.  He wraps up with how no one fears God when we should.  Good lesson on keeping us all humble.  Least we get on our high horses, read Romans.

End Notes:  Again, Paul says all are under sin and deserve condemnation (Jews, pagans, Gentiles, everyone).

“Under sin” literally means sold under sin or a slave to sin. We are all born in sin.

Paul then quotes the Old Testament (mainly Psalm and Isaiah) as proof of our sinhood.  Paul uses parts of the body to emphasize our complete helplessness to save ourselves.  Adam before the Fall wasn’t even righteous.  He was merely innocent.  The throat, tongue, lips, mouth, feet, and eyes are filled with sin and rebellion against God.

God calls all of us.  On our own we would not seek out Him.

We sin because we do not have the proper respect (or fear) of God.

Side Note:  If you were to look up these verses, you would find Paul does not quote them verbatim.  There are several reasons for this:

  1.  New Testament authors sometimes gave the general sense and not a direct quote.
  2. Quotation marks were not used in ancient Greek.
  3. Citations were often taken from the pre-Christian Greek translation (the Septuagint) of the Hebrew OT because Greek readers were not familiar with the Hebrew Bible.
  4. Sometimes this was done on purpose by the NT writer in order to drive home his point.  Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the writer would enlarge, abbreviate or adapt an OT passage or combine them.

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

Summary of passage:  Some justify their sins by saying their sins make God more righteous and true and brings Him more glory so they don’t deserve His wrath.  This is a human argument.  God does not need mere mortals to proclaim him righteous.  The gall of mankind!  God will judge evil no matter what justification man’s limited mind comes up with.

Questions:

6)  Some justify their sins by saying their sins make God more righteous and true and brings Him more glory so they don’t deserve His wrath.  This is a human argument.  God does not need mere mortals to proclaim him righteous.  The gall of mankind!  God will judge evil no matter what justification man’s limited mind comes up with.

7)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  All sin is evil.  I don’t like to sin. Who does?  I try not to, I repent when I do, I accept God’s forgiveness, and I try to be better.  That is what God desires.

Conclusions:  No sin is justified.  Period.  God hates all!

End Notes:  People use this argument when their sin leads to good.  Think of Judas and Joseph.  Judas’s sin lead to Jesus saving all of us.  Joseph’s brothers’ sins lead to him saving all of Egypt during the famine and God’s people who moved to Egypt during the famine.  However, sin is sin.  It’s no credit to man what God does and God chooses to use it for good is His prerogative.

God will use the unrighteousness of man to accomplish His work and bring praise to His name – Judas’ betrayal of Jesus is a perfect example. Nevertheless, part of the way God glorifies Himself in man’s sin is by righteously judging that unrighteousness.

God judging the world refers to the End Times.

Paul was falsely reported as having given permission for all to sin so God would be given the glory.  He refutes this here.  Remember, salvation by faith in Jesus Christ was a new idea in first century AD.  Confusion would be a given as Paul clarified Jesus and what his death means to the world.

Condemnation is justified for all who would believe such a thing.

This argument by man is the peak of man’s twistedness and you can almost feel Paul’s frustration leap out at you and strike you with a 2 x 4!

BSF Study Questions Romans Lesson 4, Day 2: Romans 3:1-4

Summary of passage:  After having just warned the Romans that what matters is the heart and just because you are outwardly obeying doesn’t mean you have salvation, Paul comforts the Jews, saying that they are God’s chosen people and God is still faithful to them and to His promises to them.

Questions:

3a)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  The Jews of the day (as we discussed last lesson in Day 4 & Day 5) believed they were superior to others because they were chosen by God and they were circumcised.  They thought they could do whatever they wanted (sin-wise) and still receive salvation.  Paul explained in Romans 2 this is not the case.  I don’t have any expectations in terms of spiritual advantages.  Yes, I’ve been blessed to know God since a child, but I have no expectations because of this.

b)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  They were chosen by God and before Jesus guaranteed a spot in heaven.   Imagine being chosen in pagan times before people could read and write to keep God’s words and prophecies until Jesus came.  Awesome!  Having God’s word and the Bible is a huge advantage.  We are not brainwashed as to what God says.  His words are not twisted.  We can read all He expects of us and all He desires of us and all of our comforts and His promises as well.  It’s an amazing blessing!

4)  God promised Abraham to make him and his offspring into a great nation.  He will bless them and curse all who oppose him.  God gave him the land of Canaan to live on.  He promises His people abundance.  He is our life (awesome!), the reason for being, the reason for progress.  He will always be with us and be His nation.  All of these promises still hold for the Jews.

5)  You.  Free Will.  God does not tempt anyone.

Conclusions:  Jews first.  Gentiles second.  Good lesson when we get on our high horse as a Gentile.  For me, I’m just happy He chose me too!  Order does not matter!

End Notes:  In Romans 9:4 Paul will expound more on the advantages the Jewish people have.  The Jews have a duty when God entrusted them with His word (the Old Testament).  It’s a big responsibility to disseminate it, keep it, and spread it!

Paul says just because the Jews in general have rejected Jesus doesn’t mean God has abandoned them!  God never fails His people!

Verse 4:  God cannot lie.  God does not change.  What Gods says is the Truth.

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!

Prayer Requests for Week of September 24th, 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.

Mine: 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.

God bless and have a great week!

If Jesus Does NOT Rise, We Do Not Rise

Jesus must rise from the dead in order for us to be justified before God.  Jesus’s resurrection is God’s stamp of approval on Jesus’s sacrifice for us all.  God accepts the sacrifice for us.  We can now rise as well!  If God had not accepted Jesus’ sacrifice, it would be eternal damnation for us all.

Romans 4:16-25

Ponder the following quote:

BSF Study Questions Romans Lesson 3, Day 5: Romans 2:25-29

Summary of passage:  Paul says what matters is keeping the law and what’s in your heart, not outward conformity. Circumcision of the heart by the Spirit is what matters.

Questions:

12a)  Circumcision is the cutting of the foreskin from a boy’s penis as an outward sign (sign of the covenant God gave to Abraham) that boy belongs to God.  It would show how that person belongs to God and has been chosen out of all the people on the earth for God’s plan.  Pride by definition is “the quality or state of being proud as in inordinate self-esteem or conceit.”  Pride is excessive.  We are all equal in God’s eyes.

b)  Going to church, taking communion, volunteering, mission trips, tithing, doing what Jesus would do, praying, etc.

13)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  Circumcision of the heart by the Spirit (the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit within Titus 3:5).  It means God cares about what kind of person I am, how I’m following Him, and my intentions behind what I do.  I fail. We all do.  As long as my intent was out of love and kindness, God forgives.

Conclusions:  Love how Paul lays it all out and says it is about the heart and being a hypocrite will get you nowhere with God.  Faith in Jesus trumps all.  Always.  You can walk about and think you’re the best thing on this planet and you won’t get into heaven.  Instead, walk around, seeking ways to listen to God, obey God, and open your heart to others.

End Notes:  Again, in first century AD Jews believed that circumcision guaranteed salvation. He might be punished in the world to come, but could never be lost.

In Paul’s day, some Rabbis taught that God will measure the Gentiles one way and the Jews another.

Circumcision (or baptism – or any ritual in itself) doesn’t save anyone.  In the ancient world the Egyptians also circumcised their boys but it did not make them followers of the true God.  Even in Abraham’s day Ishmael (the son of the flesh) was circumcised, but it did not make him a son of the covenant.

Deuteronomy 10:16 says that it’s the heart that matters.  Another example of God’s people taking His word and twisting it to fit what they wanted it to fit.

Having the law is not enough. God requires righteousness (acting in accord with divine law), obeying His law.

This answers the question of “what about the Pygmy in Africa who has never heard about Jesus?”.  He would be guilty because no one is perfect.  He needs forgiveness for sins and only Jesus’s blood grants that.

More importantly, if you’re one of those who is concerned about the Pygmy, ask yourself this:

  1.  What about you who hear the gospel, but reject it? What excuse is there for you?
  2.  What about you, who are commanded to take the gospel to that Pygmy in Africa (Matthew 28:19), but refuse to do it?

What matters is God’s praise, not man’s (John 5:41, 44: 12:43; 1 Cor 4:3-5).  Evidence of our salvation and rightness with God is found in our hearts and we see it in the fruit we leave behind.

William Newell summarizes Romans 2 with Seven Great Principles of God’s Judgment:

– God’s judgment is according to truth (Romans 2:2)

– God’s judgment is according to accumulated guilt (Romans 2:5)

– God’s judgment is according to works (Romans 2:6)

– God’s judgment is without partiality (Romans 2:11)

– God’s judgment is according to performance, not knowledge (Romans 2:13)

– God’s judgment reaches the secrets of the heart (Romans 2:16)

– God’s judgment is according to reality, not religious profession (Romans 2:17-29)

BSF Study Questions Romans Lesson 3, Day 4: Romans 2:17-24

Summary of passage:  Paul calls out Jews who are hypocritical and believe themselves above others because of their beliefs.  He asks them if they do the very things they preach against:  steal, commit adultery, worship idols, etc.  They are the ones blaspheming God’s name amongst the Gentiles because of their behavior (giving God a bad name).

Questions:

9a)  God chose the Jews as the ones to receive His law, abide by it, and teach it and in return receive blessings.  It seems they have become lackadaisical and flippant, disregarding the law themselves but expecting everyone else to abide by it.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  I can be hypocritical with my kids, using the fact I’m an adult as an excuse.  I have begun to catch myself lately and reverse this however.  Work in progress, as always!

10)  Idol worship, stealing, committing adultery, and breaking God’s law.  All of us say one thing and do another at some point in some way.  Basically, every commandment God or Jesus says to do in the Bible is broken by man.  We don’t love others; we’re not kind or compassionate; we don’t care for those in need; we do steal and lie and cheat and covet and commit adultery.  We blasphemy God’s name.  We puts things above Him.  We all sin.  Luckily, Jesus forgives.

11)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  God judges.  They stain Christianity and make it harder for non-Christians to come to God.  I think we all violate God’s standards cause we sin.  Our job is to shrink the number of times we sin, walking more and more towards the light, admitting our failures and faults, giving it to God, and rising tomorrow a better person.  That’s all we poor sinners can do.

Conclusions:  Good lesson, reminding us how we are being watched, how what we say and do does matter, how we do represent Christianity by default, and how God does hold us to higher standards.  If we do nothing else in this world but live to His standards, we will convert others just by our examples even without evangelizing per se.  We must diminish our desire to sin and be hypocrites and live by God’s ways.  In the end, that’s all we can do and why God is the loving, forgiving God that He is.

End Notes:  In first century AD, Jews looked upon themselves as special, chosen by God, given His law, and guaranteed salvation (as long as your heart was God’s).  This was true (before Jesus).  Once Jesus came you have to believe in Him to gain salvation.  That’s not Paul’s point, however.  His point is that this “specialness” belief has turned to boastfulness, pride, and superiority over others and is no guarantee of anything.

This presentation takes the form of a dialogue.  Paul knew how a self-righteous Jew thought, for he had been one himself (who better to speak to this?).  He cites on advantage after another that Jews regarded as unqualified assets.  But those assets became liabilities when there was no correspondence between profession and practice.  Paul applied to the Jews the principles of judgment laid out in verse 1-16.

Jesus explained in Matthew 5:19-48 that knowing the law does not justify anyone.  The law applies to both our actions and our heart.

Paul implies that some Jews may have been profiting from idolatry.

Paul reminds the Jews how God said in the Old Testament that the failure of the Jew to obey the law causes Gentiles to blaspheme God (Isaiah 52:5; Ezekiel 36:22).