BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 29, Day 5: 1 Peter 5

Summary of passage:  Peter advises the elders to be shepherds of God’s flock, serving as overseers, and being examples to them.  You will receive a crown of glory for their service.

Young men be submissive to elders and be humble to all.  Give God your worries.  Be self-controlled and alert for the enemy.  Resist him and stand firm in faith and after you have suffered God will restore you and make you strong, firm, and steadfast.

Questions:

14a)  A fellow elder, a witness of Christ’s sufferings, and one who will share in the glory to be revealed

b)  In these times where Christians were being persecuted, it was important to have an encourager, someone to lead by example and guide those who were new to the faith and at times afraid of proclaiming it.  These converts needed someone to show them how to lead the Christian life and to correct them and pick them up when they stumbled.  It’s the same for today.  We are all infants in our faith, growing, and we need support and guidance from elders.

c)  Crown of glory (eternal life)

15)  Respect their advice, treat them with respect, learn from them and their walk, and seek them out with questions of faith or advice on life.

16)  Resist him and stand firm in the faith, staying self-controlled and alert always.

17)  God will restore you, make you strong, firm and steadfast.

Conclusions:  More repetition.  And it all seems intuitive but I think this message is important for the younger generation to hear.  Respect your elders (the leaders) and submit to them.  They are much more knowledgeable than you are.  Today one would be hard pressed to find stellar examples of respect or submission in the secular world. Short, concise, sweet, and pithy advice.

BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 29, Day 4: 1 Peter 4

Summary of passage:  Peter tells us that Christ suffered in this body so we should be prepared to suffer as well since it means we will be done with sin, resulting in living for the will of God and not for this earthly life.  You spent time doing pagan things and now they abuse you.  But they will be judged in the end.

Be clear-minded and self-controlled so that you can pray.  Love each other deeply.  Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.  Use your gifts to serve others.  If you speak, speak the words of God.  Serve through God’s strength so that He may be praised.

Rejoice in your suffering since you are participating in the sufferings of Christ.  If you are insulted because of Christ, you are blessed.  Praise God that you bear His name in your suffering.  Commit yourselves to God and do good.

Questions:

8 )  Personal Question.  My answer:  Again, I hate to harp on this but BSF keeps asking:  I haven’t suffered physically at all.  No one has beaten me, flogged me, ostracized me, or condemned me, especially based on my beliefs (probably afraid they’d get sued if they did).  That being said, I have experienced God’s tests and how He takes away when we went through bankruptcy and we lost everything.  In this instance, I realized material things are just that.  There’s always another house or car.  But what matters is family and God.  If I have both, then I’m good.

9)  Pagans will have to give account for their actions and behavior (as we all do) because God judges both the living (those with the Holy Spirit) and the dead (those without the Holy Spirit).

10a)  Speaking the very words of God

b)  It is possible because Christ did so and if Christ did so, then we (with the power of the Holy Spirit) can do so as well.

2 Peter 1:3:  “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.”  He has given us everything we need in order to do so.

c)  Love is also an act of will.  This is what many couples do not understand and what leads to divorce.  Love isn’t a feeling (and definitely not the one of first love).  You choose to love your husband even when….(fill in the blank).  It’s the same with others.  You choose to love others even when….(they fall, they sin, they hurt you, they are imperfect as we all are, etc). Christ loved all.  We must love all.  We must override our feelings and choose to do so.

11)  You will be rewarded when his glory is revealed, you are blessed with the Spirit of glory and God upon you, you suffer in His name.

12)  To pave the way for Christ’s return by purifying them and giving them time to be refined like silver and tested like gold.

13)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Perseverance.  Patience.  Faith and trust in Him.

Conclusions:  I almost choked on verse 8.  Love?  Seriously?  Come on, Peter.  We get it.  But I liked BSF’s take on it so I did get something out of it after all, pointing out how we must choose to love and not love by feeling.  If we relied just on emotion, no one would love anyone.

My favorite (if you haven’t guessed) was verse 10.  Yes, another repetition of Paul’s but one I need to hear constantly in order to keep the faith in my novel.  I have been gifted to serve others and I must follow through on that gift.  That is the hard part when every day I ask myself, “Is this worth it?”

I like the idea of being purified for I tend to think of myself as pyrite instead of gold. Good stuff!

BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 29, Day 3: 1 Peter 3:8-22

Summary of passage:  Peter tells his listeners/readers to live in harmony with one another, be sympathetic, compassionate, and humble, and love each other as brothers. Do not repay an insult with an insult but with blessing for that is what we are called to do.  For Psalms says if you want good days and the eyes and ears (attention) of the Lord you must keep your tongue and yourself from evil and live righteously.

You are blessed if you suffer for good.  Set Christ apart in your heart.  Always be prepared to credit Christ for the hope you have in gentleness and respect (basically give no reason to support slander against you).  Better to suffer for doing good than evil.

Christ died to bring you to God.  He preached to the spirits in prison who disobeyed God in the days of Noah and saved eight through water, the same water that now saves you through Christ’s resurrection.

Questions:

5a)  Live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic; love as brothers; be compassionate and humble; do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult (revenge basically) but with blessing.  I need all to tell you the truth.

b)  If you repay evil or insult with blessing as you were called to do, you will see good days and the eyes of the Lord will be upon you and he will listen to your prayers.

6)  Respond humbly for you are blessed for your suffering.  Stand firm in your knowledge that you are set apart and keep Christ as your Lord.  And remember this suffering is God’s will.

7)  I think the spirits in prison were demonic spirits, fallen angels if you will, whom Jesus visited (the reason why is not given) after his crucifixion but before his first resurrection to the disciples.  Genesis 6:1-2, the sons of God is a common terms in the Old Testament for angels.  Peter mentions this as an encouragement to the readers of his letter as an example of Christ’s triumph over evil in this world.

Conclusions:  Peter and Paul must have been good friends because this passage, again, echoes Paul’s teachings. Remember in the study of Isaiah how it all seemed like gloom and doom and every week it seemed like God’s people were disobeying and being punished?  Here in the study of Acts it’s the opposite:  it’s all advice (and the same advice in many cases) on how to live.

So instead of being told how bad we are we are being told how to live.  At times, it seems as if my mother were talking to me.  “Now, honey, don’t insult others when they insult you.  Be strong in who you are as a person.  Have compassion on that person and some sympathy.  You don’t know what they’ve been through in life.”

And we roll our eyes but in the end the repetitiveness of the Truth seeps down into our core and we do become compassionate, sympathetic, and humble human beings who love each other as brothers.

God knows us, doesn’t He?

BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 29, Day 2: 1 Peter 3:1-7

Summary of passage:  Peter tells wives to submit to husbands in the same manner Christ submitted to God’s will so that the husband may be converted by her behavior and how she leads her life.  Women’s beauty should not come from outward adornment but from within, which never fades and is of greater worth in God’s eyes.  Sarah submitted and was beautiful as she put her hope in God.  Do what is right and never fear.

Husbands be considerate and respect your wives who are weaker and heirs to God’s gracious gift of life so that nothing will hinder your prayers.

Questions:

3a)  In the same way Christ was submissive as Peter talked about in 1 Peter 2:21-25:  submissive to authority (God and government).

b)  So that if their husbands do not believe, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives. At this time in history, many women were being converted to Christianity before their husbands and the women wanted to know if they should leave their husband and how they should behave now that Christ was their head.

c)  No.  It means if you rely on outward beauty (such as braiding hair and wearing jewelry) for your beauty instead of allowing your beauty to come from the inside.  The source of beauty is from the heart.

Again, in these times, many women dyed their hair (much like today) and wigs were popular. Women would spend hours having slaves do their hair as certain hair styles were very popular back then (much like today).  It was important to be “cool” even in Ancient Times, meaning to be fashionable and trendy.

Other translations of this verse use the word merely.  If you read it this way, it makes perfect sense.

4)  Physically women are weaker.  God made us that way.  Husbands needed to be stronger to toil long hours in the field doing manual labor.  Women, on the other hand, stayed in the home where she needed much less brute strength generally.  Husbands should respect their wives because they are heirs with them of the gracious gift of life or part of God’s chosen people as well, equal spiritually.

Conclusions:  This echoes Paul’s words to the Ephesians (Ephesians 5:22-33) with the same message of submitting because God is our head.  I liked how Peter brings out not to fall into the trap of relying on physical beauty as so many women of today (and then) did. Great reminder and teaching (especially to our younger generation) of God’s truth and not the world’s lie that the heart is what matters to God, not the latest fashion trends.

BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 28, Day 5: 1 Peter 2:13-25

Summary of passage:  Peter says to submit ourselves to every authority instituted among men who are sent by him (God) to punish those who do wrong and commend those who do right.  And doing good will silence the ignorant.  Live as servants of God and do not use freedom as an excuse to do wrongs.  Respect everyone; love believers; fear God; honor authority.

Slaves submit yourselves to your masters whether good or bad.  It is commendable if you endure under unjust suffering because you are conscious of God to which you were called because Christ suffered for you, leaving the example.  Christ never retaliated or made threats.  Instead, he trusted God.  He died so that we may die to sin and live for righteousness.  By his wounds we have been healed.

Questions:

13)  Peter says we are to obey authority instituted among men because governments have a rightful authority from God and as long as they are not doing anything against God’s laws then we must obey.  The Jews in this time did not believe they should obey those who did not hold their beliefs.

Today I see little to no respect for authority or the government (and definitely nothing close to submission).  Everything government related we grumble and complain.  For this I cannot blame people.  Government today is nothing like government was in Peter’s time.  I would be curious to hear what the apostles would say about our government today.

14)  Because he is conscious of God and it is a calling because Christ suffered for you, leaving the example.

15)  Jesus did not retaliate or offer threats.  He entrusted himself to God and set the example that when we suffer we do so for God.

This question does not say personal so I’m assuming you is the plural form and not meant to be specific.  But I will just say I haven’t suffered unjustly as of yet to be honest.  Sure, I’ve suffered but who ever said it was supposed to be just?  Christ’s suffering wasn’t just so we shouldn’t expect our suffering to be just either.

Conclusions:  Again, I didn’t get a lot out of this.  Repetitive in the advice:  respect everyone; love believers; fear God; honor authority.  Anyone else getting tired of hearing this?

BSF questions are supposed to be where you are at and where I live there is no slavery (legally that is) so from my viewpoint it’s hard to relate to slavery and masters.  We are also a free society (to which could be argued but according to our Constitution we are free and definitely free when compared to Peter’s time) so submitting to government is hard to relate to as well since we’re not being asked to break God’s laws or being persecuted like Peter was under Roman authority.

In essence, applying this particular passage to my life (for I can’t speak for yours) is difficult.  The best part was how Christ suffered unjustly and thus we may as well and if we do we must endure for God’s sake.  This is something we all can relate to.

BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 28, Day 4: 1 Peter 2:4-12

Summary of passage:  Peter says Jesus is the living stone who was rejected by men and chosen by God and precious to him and so are we (Christians) living stones being built into spiritual houses and holy priesthoods.  The stone (Jesus) is precious to believers as our cornerstone but unbelievers reject the stone and is now the capstone and a stone that causes those who disobey the message to stumble.

We are a chosen people, royal priesthood, holy nation, belonging to God, and called into the light from the dark. We are God’s people out of His mercy and aliens and strangers in this world.  Abstain from sinful desires and live such good lives that the pagans will glorify God.

Questions:

9)  living, chosen, precious, cornerstone, capstone.  Living is eternal life, not death.  Chosen is preordained, not a randomness; planned out.  Precious is highly valued and esteemed; of high price and cherished.  Corner and cap are the descriptive terms attached to stone, which mean they are the key part.  The cornerstone forms the base of the corner of the building and the rest of the blocks depend on it in order to stand.  The capstone is a stone affixed on top of a building to cap it off; the final touches, achievement, stroke or culmination of the building.  So here Jesus is both the foundation on which the building stands and its crowning achievement at the top.

I don’t like the use of the word rightly here.  It implies there is a wrong way to respond, which if your heart is sincere, there isn’t.

10)  Christ causes men to stumble because they disobey the message.  It’s why we all stumble:  we turn our backs on Jesus, God, and His word and follow our will instead of His will.  Everyone trips up and falls but it’s whether we have Christ or not that determines if we are able to get back up and back on the right path–His path.  Or if we will keep stumbling our entire lives.

11)  Chosen people, royal priesthood, a holy nation, belonging to God, called into his light, people of God, received mercy.  They are all important but I like holy nation because being holy allows me to be with God, righteously.

12a)  If you are walking in Christ’s footsteps, you are living every day as an alien and stranger in this world for our home is in heaven, not on earth (see discussion HERE). We are God’s chosen people, separate from unbelievers, set aside for eternity.  The Holy Spirit lives within us; therefore, we are different and our lives should reflect that.  We live according to God, not others.  Thus, we should live in every way as an alien and a stranger.

b)  My missionary friend who truly walks with God every day.  She shines with God and inspires me to do the same.

Conclusions:  This lesson was only blase for me.  We just got done studying this in my other bible study and I see nothing new here.  It’s repetitive, which I know the Bible does a lot of so we mere humans get it, so it’s important.  But could be my mood today.  I guess I was hoping for more swords and shields rather than building analogies (I’m more of an action person rather than one who has the patience to design intricate buildings).

BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 28, Day 3: 1 Peter 1:13-2:3

Summary of passage:  Peter continues with advice on how to live, saying to prepare our minds for action, to be self-controlled, and have hope in Jesus.  Obediently, we must not conform to the evil desires of our old life but we must be holy in all that we do for we are called to be holy since God is holy.

We must live our lives as strangers here in reverent fear for we were redeemed from our old, empty way of life with the blood of Jesus Christ who was perfect.  We believe in God through him, giving us faith and hope in God.

So love one another deeply from the heart since we are pure from our obedience to Christ and God.  We are born again for all of eternity through the word of God as Isaiah taught.

Get rid of all malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander and feast on spiritual milk to grow in your salvation and in the Lord’s goodness.

Questions:

6a)  To be holy because He is holy.  Be holy in all that you do.  Prepare your minds (learn) and be self-controlled.  Set your minds fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus is revealed (remember it’s not about this life but the eternal life).  Do not conform to the world’s evil desires.

b)  According to Webster’s Dictionary, holy means, “Exalted or worthy of complete devotion as one perfect in goodness and righteousness; divine; devoted entirely to the deity or the world of the deity.”

Zondervan’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary by J D Douglas and Merrill C Tenney defines holiness as, “The state of quality of being morally pure and separate from evil.”

Holy is perfect in goodness and righteousness.  Hence, we should strive to be perfect, good, righteous, morally pure, and separate from evil.

7)  In the Old Testament, to be cleansed of sins God’s chosen people had to make sacrifices, which had to be perfect and without blemish.  One of these sacrifices was the lamb.  Hence, Peter here is saying Jesus qualifies as a sacrifice for the people, a sacrifice for all of eternity.

Exodus 12 describes the first Passover and God says, “Each man is to take a lamb…The animals you choose must be year-old males without defect…all the people of the community of Israel must slaughter them.”

Leviticus 23:12 “…you must sacrifice as a burnt offering to the Lord a lamb a year old without defect…”

Peter is propounding on how to live a Christian life, saying to live a life as strangers here on Earth and have faith and hope in God.  They were redeemed from the empty way of life through Christ Jesus just as the Old Testament people were redeemed, made righteous through animal sacrifices–only this time it’s permanent.  The people have been made pure so now they can lead a holy life.

It’s hard to speculate here how much the people would have understood the sacrifices since Peter is writing to Gentiles who had no previous experience with Old Testament ways; but I will assume they knew enough to get the analogy or Peter would not have put it in.

8a)  You are born again for all of eternity through faith in the word of God (which includes Jesus as the Holy Trinity).

b)  Personal Question.  My answer.  It was a process, definitely.  It wasn’t just one day it happened.  I was raised a Christian so have been one for a while but I am speaking of my adult walk, when I was cognizant of it.  So I’ve always had faith in Jesus and God but it wasn’t always strong.  So it’s been a journey of strengthening and learning who God is, what He did for me through Jesus, and trusting in Him for everything.  And when I felt ready, I was baptized as an adult a few years ago and have been striving for the “be holy” goal ever since.

Conclusions:  There is definitely a thread in this day’s questions I don’t see very often: the idea of holiness and what that looks like.  God calls us to be holy (perfect and apart from evil), Jesus was holy, and being born again is a process into holiness.  Very well done.

We are holy (God makes us so) and I think if we breathed that in more into our daily lives this world would be a much better, happier place.  For if we believe we are holy I think we will act more holy.  And only good things can come of us striving to be better people than who we are right now.  Striving to rid ourselves of all evil desires, malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander and instead strive to love our brothers more.

BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 28, Day 2: 1 Peter 1:1-12

Summary of passage:  Peter, Jesus’ disciple, writes to God’s elect, strangers in the world who are scattered throughout the known Western world.  In God’s great mercy He has given us (Christians) new birth into a living hope through Jesus’ resurrection and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil, or fade through faith.  We greatly rejoice in our future resurrection even if now we are suffering trials.  These trials test our faith so it may be proved genuine and will honor God.  Even though we do not see God, we believe in Him and rejoice in our salvation.

The Old Testament prophets searched intently to discover when Christ would come and they knew they were speaking to the future generations to come.  Even the angels were eager for God’s plan to be carried out.

Questions:

3)  God’s elect, strangers in the world, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, chosen by God and sanctified by Jesus’ blood.

Peter is writing to all Christians but specifically to the Gentiles who are scattered throughout the world.  Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia are all places mentioned in Acts where Christianity first spread.  This letter from Peter will be carried to these places for all Christians to read.  Some may be suffering (verse 6), which would make sense since this first part is all about how suffering strengthens faith and glorifies God.

4)  New birth into a living hope and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil, or fade (eternal life in heaven).  God sends us trials so that our faith may be proved genuine and bring God praise, glory, and honor.  We rejoice in our salvation, which is the goal of our faith, and brings us inexpressible and glorious joy.

5)  Personal Question.  My answer:  I am so completely frustrated with the slow pace of my novel and since I know it belongs to God, I guess I’m frustrated with Him in a round-about way.  I am so impatient and such a poor manager of my time that I know God is trying to grow me in these two areas.  And growth is never easy.

Conclusions:  Our faith isn’t tested because God doesn’t know the depth of it (of course He does–He knows everything).  Our faith is tested because we don’t know the depth of it and God wants to show us just how much we believe in Him.  For if your life is smooth, how will you know if you have faith?  By mere words?  God says that’s not enough.  He tests us to prove our faith and to strengthen it, to purify it like gold is to fire, and to glorify Him.  For as we know, it’s all about Him!

Map of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia:  http://www.bible-history.com/maps/Map-Asia-in-Roman-Times.jpg

BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 27, Day 5: James 5

Summary of passage:  James addresses the rich saying their misery is coming in the form or rotted wealth and clothes and corroded silver and gold because they have cheated workmen out of wages, lived in luxury and self-indulgence, fattened themselves while others starved, and condemned and murdered innocent men.

Be patient like the farmer is for his crops for the Lord’s coming and stand firm.  Don’t grumble against each other or you will be judged.  Have patience when suffering like the prophets did and persevere.  Wait for what the Lord will bring about. Do not swear oaths. Your word is enough.

Pray when in trouble or happy.  Have others pray for you when you are sick.  A prayer offered in faith will make you well and you will be forgiven.  Confess your sins and pray for each other.  Prayer is powerful and effective like Elijah’s prayer.  Those who turn sinners who have wandered from the truth back will be blessed.

Questions:

14a)  The wages they failed to pay the workmen, lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence, fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter, condemned and murdered innocent men.

b)  Yes because James is speaking to them and writing to them in this letter.  In Chapter 1, he opens with, “to the twelve tribes scattered among the nations” so they are at the very least Jews (God’s chosen people) and I would say they are new Christians.

c)  Human nature has not changed since Adam and man is inherently selfish and greedy. This includes Christians.  Men cheat others who work for them and pay them sub-par wages for the work they do.  People live in luxury and self-indulgence and extravagance. We over-indulge (look at the obesity rates in this country).  Christians condemn and murder innocent men (or in some form such as slander that we talked about yesterday–severely hobbling people to the point they cannot support themselves, etc).

Despite our best intentions, the devil can still cause us to choose him instead of God.  I do not see this ever changing in the future for we are human.

15)  Stand firm, don’t grumble against each other, persevere, and do not swear

16a)  We should pray when we are in trouble, happy, or sick.  Prayer in faith will result in healing, forgiveness for sin, and be powerful and effective.  If you pray earnestly, your prayer will be answered.  Have others pray for us especially when sick. Confess our sins to others and pray for each other so we may be healed.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Probably every facet of my life.  I’m trying to pray more and more and I think if I do, I will see more prayers answered.

c)  We are saved from death and our sins if we turn towards the truth (i.e. God).

Conclusions:  I like how James tells us not to be grumblers or complainers, a habit we all battle at points in our lives.  I like how James tells us not to swear oaths.  Our word should be enough.

I love the prayer part.  As you know, prayer has been a theme for me throughout the second half of Acts and this is just another great passage on the power of prayer.

I believe we can’t pray enough.  I think of the monks who devoted their lives to Christ and spent most of the day in prayer.  Obviously, most of us are not called to such a life but we do need to follow their example and pray in everything as much as possible.

BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 27, Day 4: James 4:11-17

Summary of passage:  James says not to slander one another for this is in essence slandering the law and judging it.  There is only one Lawgiver (God) and Judge (God and Christ).  Who are we to judge?

James blasts those who make plans without God.  For our life is a mist that vanishes after a while and we do not know what tomorrow will bring.  We must ask first if it is the Lord’s will, then we will do this or that.  Otherwise, you are boasting, which is evil. Anyone who knows the good and doesn’t do it sins.

Questions:

11)  Everyone is open for criticism especially if you are in the public eye.  When I wrote my column, it somehow became okay to attack me personally (and my family).  And anonymously.  I love the Internet.  But not everything about it is positive.  We all need constructive criticism so we can become better people.  But when it turns personal and is given without a loving heart, I think this is when this Scripture applies.  Then we have crossed the line into judgment and Christ’s realm.

As Paul keeps repeating, we are not to speak unless it is encouraging and uplifting, not to tear down and hurt.  We must tame our tongue as James says in James 3.  I think this coincides with these warnings.

I tell my kids, “If  you can’t say anything nice, don’t say it at all.”  Exactly what this scripture says.

12)  Leviticus 19:16:  “Do not go about spreading slander among your people.  Do not do anything that endangers your neighbor’s life.  I am the Lord.”

13a)  Boasting, bragging, pride, not relying on the Lord but relying on yourself

b)  If it is and aligns with God’s will.

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  We must rely on God for everything.  We do nothing on our own.  Before making plans, I need to pray first and make sure it is in accordance with God’s will for my life and not my will.

Conclusions:  Another good lesson that aligns with a common theme in this study:  If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say it at all, especially slander or speech with malicious intent.  We are too free sometimes in this society to say what we want without thinking of the consequences to others.  Guard our tongue as James say and speak only uplifting words.

I liked James question, “What is your life?” (verse 14)  I think sometimes we do get prideful when in reality we are an ant compared to God.  God can snuff us out with one step of His foot.  Good thing to keep in mind when we are tending towards arrogance and need to turn back towards humility.

I loved the last verse.  I apply this to our purpose (which is always good since it’s from God).  If you are not doing it, you are sinning.  Also, this verse speaks to doing what is right versus ignoring the situation.  I think of how many videos or exposes we see recently where people walk by someone in need (apparently this is human nature since it happened to the Good Samaritan as well millenia ago).  We must do the right thing no matter the cost to ourselves.