2017 BSF Start Dates for the Study of Romans

Hey all!

This post seems to have become a tradition!

Please post when (and where if you wish) BSF starts in your area.  It’s difficult to find on BSF’s site, especially for new people.  Plus, it gives us all a chance to re-connect!  I have not yet been contacted.

What’s coming up ahead here:  One more week of devotionals.  Then an introduction to the Study of Romans.  And then we begin!

God bless and have a great weekend!

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BSF Study Questions The Life of Moses Lesson 20, Day 5: Numbers 14:20-45

Summary of passage:  The Lord forgave His people as Moses asked Him too.  However, the punishment for disobedience is that none of them will see the Promised Land except Caleb.  God tells His people to turn around.  The Lord tells Moses except Caleb and Joshua all will die who grumbled against Him–He will grant their wish to die in the desert.  The children will inherit the land but only after wandering for 40 years–one year for each day the Israelites explored the land.

God struck down and killed the men who were responsible for the bad report.  The Israelites repented and went to fight anyways.  But this was disobeying God as well for He has ordered them to turn back.  They were defeated as Moses and the ark remained encamped.

Questions:

10a)  Yes.  Verse 20

b)  Nevertheless

c)  “Not one of the men who saw my glory and the miraculous signs I performed in Egypt and in the desert but who disobeyed me and tested me ten times–not one of them will ever see the land I promised on oath to their forefathers.”  The Lord “will do the very things I heard you say:  In this desert your bodies will fall–every one of you twenty years old or more who was counted in the census and who has grumbled against me.”  “Your children will be shepherds here for 40 years, suffering for your unfaithfulness.”

Basically, they will all die without entering the Promised Land and they are sentenced to wander the desert for 40 years to wait for them all to die and as punishment to their children.

11a)  No.  People today have a victim mentality and an entitlement mentality.  They deserve only good things and if something bad happens to them, it’s someone else’s fault and thus they should  be taken care of and given payment because of it.

b)  Yes.  Yes.

12a)  By punishing the instigators.  God struck down the men who reported the false report and thus were responsible for leading the others into sin.

b)  They disobeyed AGAIN by deciding to go and take the land when the Lord had already told them they were to turn around.  They were warned by Moses that the Lord was not with them, but they didn’t seem to care–they did it anyways and were defeated because of it.

Conclusions: Loved Lesson 20.  Great stories.  Great moments of people’s disobedience, God’s grace and forgiveness, and consequences of disobedience.  In Numbers 13-14, we see the whole of the Bible condensed into two chapters.  All that’s missing here is Jesus.

End Notes:  Here we see the power of prayer as God says He has forgiven the people because Moses asked.  God listens and He responds.

God recognized Caleb and rewarded him in front of all.  The people on the other hand have more work to do.

Note even Moses and Aaron is included in those who won’t enter the Promised Land.  So they knew.  I wonder what they were thinking.

No excuse will work here–the people rejected the land and now they must pay the consequences.  Even when they decided to obey, their hearts were not in it–they did not trust the Lord.  They only felt sorry for what they did.  And they paid the price.

See Psalm 95:7b-11, Psalm 106:24-27, & Nehemiah 9:16-17 for more.

They will wander only 38 years since they have already been in the desert for 2 years.

Map of Hormah and possible Route through the Desert:  https://www.lds.org/scriptures/bc/scriptures/content/english/bible-maps/images/03990_000_bible-map-2.jpg

Great map of where the Israelites are headed next:  http://fgcp.org/system/files/images/Promise-Land-Era.jpg

Close-up of Hormah:  http://www.keyway.ca/gif/hormah.gif

It’s BSF Time Again (Well, Almost!)

Hey all,

Hope everyone had a restful and relaxing summer.  We just back from a camping trip where a hummingbird got stuck in our tent.  It was so amazing to see up close just how fast those wings actually move.  God’s creations are amazing!Hummingbird

Like last year, I’m wondering start dates for you all.  I will be doing the Study of Moses (sorry to all those Revelation guinea pigs out there 😦  Will have to wait until next year.

I’m SUPER excited as I’ll be taking on an expanded volunteer role with BSF (and, no, not a group leader, although maybe one day).

Just leave your start date below as a comment.

Thanks and have a fantastic, blessed week!

BSF Study Questions Matthew Lesson 29, Day 3: John 20:1-18; Luke 24:12-32

Summary of passages:  John 20:1-18:  Mary Magdalene returns to Jesus’ tomb early on the first day of the week and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance.  She ran to Simon Peter and the other disciple (John) that Jesus had loved and told them that Jesus’ body had been taken.

Peter and the other disciple run to Jesus’ tomb to investigate and saw strips of linen lying in the tomb and the burial cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus’ head.  The disciples returned home but Mary stood outside the tomb crying.  She looked in the tomb and saw two angels in white seater where Jesus’ body had been.  They asked her why she was crying and she answered because Jesus’ body was stolen and she doesn’t know where it is.

Jesus appeared at that moment.  He asked her the same thing and she does not recognize him until he utters her name.  He told her to go and tell his brothers that he will be returning to his Father and she did.

Luke 24:12-32:  Being told by the women that Jesus had arisen, Peter ran to the tomb to see for himself since he didn’t believe them.  He saw the strips of linen in Jesus’ tomb but still wondered what had happened.

On the road to Emmaus that same day, two of Jesus’ followers were wondering what was going on.  Jesus appeared to them but they did not recognize him.  He asked them what they were speaking about.  Cleopas said he must be a stranger if he doesn’t know recent events.  They recounted the story of how Jesus had been crucified and how his body was now missing and how the women had said he is risen from the dead.

Jesus called them foolish not to understand the prophets so he began with Moses and explained all the Scriptures concerning himself.  They invited him to stay with them overnight.  He blessed the bread and then they recognized him and Jesus disappeared.

Questions:

6)  “The cloth was folded up by itself, separate from the linen.”  The fact that the strips of linen and cloth were neatly arranged discounted the grave robbery theory as robbers have no concern for neatness and would have hurriedly stripped off the linen to get to what lay beneath.

7a)  As intimate as sheep who know their master’s voice like Mary who instantly recognized him when he spoke her name.  The caregiver for all of their needs and whom they implicitly trust, obey, and follow.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  This whole study has impressed upon me the importance of doing His calling for my life on this earth.  How not to give up on that in the face of adversity.

8a)  Personal Question.  My answer:  The importance of understanding the Scriptures and the prophecies of the Old Testament.  The importance of listening to Jesus when he does explain them to you.  And the importance of sharing those lessons learned with others as Jesus himself did.  How we should pray to see Jesus in our midst.  How we should pray for our hearts to be set aflame by him.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  I try to explain to my kids the meanings and the intricacies of the Bible in terms they will understand.  And I try to explain to you all as well what I understand.  I pray to see Jesus and have him guide my heart and I pray this for others and my kids as well.  I teach them he is there and we can see him with grace and love.

Conclusions:  Don’t like reading John in the middle of the chapter.  Read more for further understanding.  Who amongst us wouldn’t have wanted to have been on that road to Emmaus to hear Jesus explain the Old Testament?  Wow!  What a gift!  Can you imagine the power of Jesus uttering your name and you instantly recognize him?  I want to hear my name spoken from his lips!

Overall, filler lesson since Matthew was not mentioned at all with a lot of personal questions.  Important?  Yes.  For we all must learn to recognize Jesus’ voice in our lives and understand the connections of the Old and New Testaments.

End Notes:  Cleopas could very well be the husband of “Mary the wife of Clopas” who stood faithfully by Jesus’ cross as he died (John 19:25).

John and Peter do not understand what they see because they have forgotten Jesus’ words.  They only know something amazing has happened.

Note Mary is NOT afraid when the angels appear to her here.  This is one of the few places in the Bible when someone is not afraid when angels appear to man.  Her grief is such that their presence does not affect her.

Mary plans to carry Jesus away when she finds him.  How she would accomplish this remains a mystery but her devotion is such she only is focused on finding Jesus.

Mary is already clinging to Jesus when he tells her to not hold onto him.  This tells us he definitely has a tangible, physical body.

Note Jesus’ distinction between “my father” and “your father”.  He is differentiating himself from us as he should since he is our lord as well.

If someone had fabricated this story, would they make a woman the first to see Jesus?  No. Women were nothing in first century AD.  This speaks to the Truth of God’s Word.

Jesus knew the 2 men on the road to Emmaus were sad when they shouldn’t be.  Hence, he wanted them to understand what had truly happened.  Amazing God’s care for the lost!

Jesus encourages them to tell him things even though he already knows them.  As God wants us to do always.

Jesus called them foolish for not believing the testimony of others.  It was a heart problem as so often it is with us.

We should pray that Jesus opens our eyes to see him who walks by our side every day.  Then, as these two men did, we will see him and understand.  Their hearts were set aflame by Jesus’ words. What our prayer should be every day:  to be on fire for Jesus!

Map of Emmaus with great re-telling and famous accompanying artwork:  http://www.jesus-story.net/emmaus.htm

Cleopas:  What we know is basically what the Bible tells us of him.  He is never mentioned again outside of this story.  More information HERE if interested.

BSF Study Questions Matthew Lesson 28, Day 4: Matthew 27:35-50; Psalm 22

Summary of passages:  Matthew 27:35-50:  The Romans crucified Jesus and divided up his clothes. They kept watch over him and his crime (king of the Jews) was placed over his head. Two robbers were crucified with him. Passer-bys hurled insults at him, telling Jesus to come down from the cross with his powers and if he were the Son of God, they would believe him then. The robbers insulted Jesus as well.

Jesus cried out to God, asking why he has been forsaken. The observers thought he was calling Elijah. Then Jesus cried once more and died.

Psalm 22:  David asks God why has God forsaken him and why is He so far away.  Yet God is faithful.  Yet David is a scorned man, mocked for his belief, and told let God save him.  Yet trouble from men is near.  He cannot speak.  He is pierced.  They divide up his clothes.  Lord, rescue me from them.  I am weary.  All nations will bow before Him.  And his righteousness will be proclaimed now and for all future generations.

Questions:

7)  Psalm 22:1:  Jesus spoke these words in Matthew 27:46 on the cross as he took on the sins and God briefly turned His back to His Son.  We feel Jesus’ agony both at his physical suffering and his spiritual abandonment.

Psalm 22:2-6:  We feel Jesus’ unanswered prayer; yet despite Jesus’ suffering and scornment by man, God is there, faithful, trustworthy, the Holy One of Israel.

Psalm 22:7-9:  Jesus feels insignificant as he is mocked on the cross and told that God should come down and rescue him (Matthew 27:43).  Yet all in God’s plan.  Jesus reminds God of his birth and care given to him then–and thus the appeal for care now. [Note that just because God has abandoned Jesus, Jesus does not abandon God.  This is an example for us all.  Never give up.]

Psalm 22:12-13:  Men claw at Jesus and come against him.  The bulls of Bashan were known for their strength.

Psalm 22:14:  Jesus is exhausted and drained physically and spiritually.  Jesus is completely devoid of any strength.  This describes his physical suffering as bones were disjoined on the cross and some scholars speculate Jesus’ heart might have burst (John 19:34).

Psalm 22:15:  Jesus can no longer speak as his mouth is dried up and he has no more strength on the cross. Physical death awaits.  This harkens back to Genesis 3:19 where man returns to dust.  Christ became our curse (Galatians 3:13).

Psalm 22:16:  Jesus was surrounded by wicked men.  Jesus was literally pierced at the hands and feet to be hung on the cross

Psalm 22:17:  People mock him from his arrest to his death.  Even the prisoner crucified with Jesus mocks him.  They think they superior (if only they knew).  Jesus suffered no broken bones (John 19:31-37), which fulfilled prophecy (Psalm 34:20; Exodus 12:46; Zechariah 12:10; Numbers 9:12).

Psalm 22:18:  The Roman soldiers who crucified Jesus divided up his garments and cast lots for his clothing.

Psalm 22:19-21:  Yet God is there to deliver Jesus into His arms from the people.

8a)  Personal Question.  My answer:  The Old Testament has always been relevant in my life as all the Bible (God’s breathed Words) is and should be.  The more and more connections made between the Old Testament and the New Testament and the more and more prophecy I see fulfilled only fills me up with God and spurns me to learn more and more and be closer and closer to my Creator and Lord.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  It has made me realize that Jesus’ suffering is universal.  David suffered.  Jesus suffered.  So I must suffer as well.  It is part of life.  Part of the Christian life.  And yet both endured.  Both grew stronger.  Both did great things.  So can I.  For without lows, the highs are meaningless.  Both felt forsaken by God as I have in my life.  And that is okay.  Our journey to Him is just that–a journey.  As long as we know who is standing at the end, awaiting us with open arms, I deem it all worthwhile.

Conclusions:  There seems to be a theme or a belief that the Old Testament is meaningless to Christians.  That it is dismissed and deemed unimportant.  This annoys me.  As does questions like 8a.  To me, the Old Testament is just as relevant today as the New Testament.  It always has been.  I’ve never held such a belief that the New is more significant than the Old.  Yet in some of my groups, some have said as such.  And questions such as 8a seem to perpetuate that notion.

I wish people and the Christian community would stop implying such.  Without the Old Testament, there would be no New Testament.  Both are of equal importance and should be treated as such.  We must obey both to live like Jesus.  There should be no separation between the two.

End Notes:  We can sense the agony in the Psalm.  Can you imagine a child’s pain when their parents turn their back on them?  This is what Jesus is experiencing only at a much, unfathomable level as it is God who is the one who turns His back (and He never does).  The intimate and constant connections has been broken.  Yet, it is not a complete forsakenness–but enough for Jesus to cry out to God.  This is something we can relate to but never understand because we will never be in Jesus’ place.

Note even in the midst of suffering and doubt God remains Holy and good.  The devil did not win here.

Have you ever felt as low as a worm?  That’s pretty low but I think we’ve all been there.

Notice once the author has poured out his laments and feelings of abandonment he exclaims “You have heard me”. So it is with us and God.  God hears our cries for help and answers us.  He is always there and He is not silent in our misery.

Jesus declares and praises God.  It is often thought only the first half of Psalm 22 refers to Jesus but Hebrews 2:12 declares otherwise when the author of Hebrews quotes Psalm 22:22.

John 17:26 “I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them” suggests the real reason Jesus died for our sins:  It was the will of the Father and Jesus obeyed completely and absolutely to God’s great glory.  Powerful stuff!

The second great reason for the cross is for us:  “All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the Lord and …bow down before him.”  It is comforting to know Jesus was thinking of us at the end.

The last verse of this Psalm echoes Jesus’ last words on the cross “He has done it.”

There is so much in this Psalm.  Take the time to soak it in and reflect on Jesus’s life especially as Easter approaches.  As you do, Jesus will become closer and closer.

This whole Psalm reflects Jesus’ life perfectly.  In it, the New Testament writers saw Old Testament prophecy fulfilled.  David, the greatest King of Israel, suffered.  As Jesus did.  As it was meant by God to be.  Victory through suffering.  Only God can breathe such life into such words.

BSF Study Questions Matthew Lesson 27, Day 2: Matthew 26:47-56; John 18:1-11

Summary of passages:  Matthew 26:47-56:  Judas arrives as Jesus is with the other disciples in Gethsemane.  There is a large crowd armed with swords and clubs with him.  Judas kissed Jesus, his sign to the guards as to which one was Jesus.  Jesus was seized and one of the disciples cut off a servant’s ear.  Jesus chastised him, saying to put his sword back for all who draw the sword die by the sword.  Jesus said he could easily escape if he wanted to but instead must fulfill Scripture.

Jesus spoke to the crowd, wondering why they are armed.  The disciples all abandoned Jesus.

John 18:1-11:  Jesus left the Kidron Valley and went over to an olive grove.  Judas familiar with the place came and brought soldiers and some officials from the chief priests and Pharisees.  They were carrying torches, lanterns, and weapons.

Jesus met them and asked who they were seeking.  They answered, “Jesus of Nazarth.”  Jesus said, “I am he” and they drew back and fell to the ground.  He asked they let his disciples go.  Simon Peter drew his sword and cut off Malchus’s, the servant of the high priest, ear.  Jesus told him to put his sword away so he could drink the cup the Father has given him.

Questions:

3a)  Simon Peter

b)  The soldiers could have attacked and killed all of them including Jesus who would then not have been able to die on the cross for our sins as well as killing the disciples who spread the Good News to the world.

c)  He still didn’t understand that this was Jesus’ destiny and God’s plan because he tried to prevent it.

d)  Personal Question.  My answer:  I can’t answer this.  I’m not for sure.  I believe all things have a purpose and in my adult life I believe I have been following God.  Even if it’s turns out to be wrong because I misinterpreted Him or heard wrongly, it is still His purpose for my life.

4a)  Matthew 26:56:  “Then all the disciples deserted him.”

Mark 14:50:  “Then everyone deserted him and fled.”

[Side Note:  Several sources I read said Jesus was humiliated by his arrest.  As I note below, Jesus willingly gave himself up to the soldiers.  I don’t see  how he would be humiliated because of this.  However, I believe the fact that his brothers in arms (the disciples) fled would have brought shame and grief to Jesus’ soul more so than being tied up and led to his destiny.]

b)  John 18:6:  “When Jesus said, ‘I am he,’ they drew back and fell to the ground.”

c)  He tells them immediately who he is and asks for his disciples to be freed (John 18:8).

Luke 22:51:  “No more of this!” and Jesus touched the man’s ear and healed him.

d)  John 18:9:  “This happened so that the words he had spoken would be fulfilled:  ‘I have not lost one of those you gave me’”.

John 18:11:  “Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?”

Matthew 26:54:  “But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen this way?”

Matthew 26:56:  “But this has all taken place that the writings of the prophets might be fulfilled.”

Mark 14:49:  “But the Scriptures must be fulfilled.”

Luke 22:53:  “But this is your hour–when darkness reigns.”

Conclusions:  Loved this lesson except for the personal question that was a bit of a stretch as it assumes we know God’s mind in our lives.  Loved how we read all the passages of this scene in the Bible.  Great comparison study!

End Notes:  Again, it’s important to note that Jesus did not hide from Judas.  He could have gone somewhere Judas would not have known where to find him; but, instead, it was not God’s plan.

We never think of the disciples as carrying swords but at various times (as shown here) they did.  Probably for personal safety especially while traveling to ward off robbers and thieves.  Most men owned and knew how to use a sword in first century AD.

The number of soldiers in a legion varied over time.  This could have been anywhere between 5400 to 6000 fighting men.  Imagine 12 of these legions of angels, fighting for Jesus.  What an awesome sight to behold!

How quickly do the disciples abandon Jesus after saying they never would at the Last Supper.  Yet Jesus knew (Matthew 26:31).  Imagine his heart-break, seeing his staunchest believers blanch in the face of cowardice.

Arrested is not the right verb here.  Jesus willingly gave himself up.  The verb here is describing the actions of man, not of God.

Map of Garden of Gethsemane:  HERE

Curiosity:  Anyone else wonder how Gethsemane became a “garden”?  Matthew and Mark just describe it as a “place.”  Luke describes it as the place Jesus customarily went on the Mount of Olives.  John describes it as “across the Kidron Valley in an olive grove”.  Somehow it is now known as the “Garden of Gethsemane” where Jesus was arrested.  Probably lost in translation somewhere along down the line.  Either way it’s a secluded place, calm and peaceful, where Jesus retreated and was arrested that fateful night.

Scholars say it was in fact a garden as it is the second time God fights for mankind with the devil.  The first was in the Garden of Eden.  The second is here–in the Garden of Gethsemane.

If you visit Israel today, you can visit a place where scholars believe may have been the Garden of Gethsemane.   Click HERE to visit the official tourist website.  The garden and the olive trees were destroyed by the Romans in the siege of 70 AD but scholars believe these trees today are descendants of those original ones.  Click on the picture to enlarge the olive trees and you’ll get a sense of where Jesus stood.

BSF Study Questions Matthew Lesson 25, Day 4: Matthew 25:31-46

Summary of passage:  The Son of Man will separate all the nations gathered before him.  Those on the right will inherit the kingdom of heaven and eternal life that has been prepared for them since the creation of the world because they took care of Jesus through taking care of others (his sheep).  Those on his left will go to Hell and eternal punishment for they did nothing for him nor others.

Questions:

10a)  A throne on earth in heavenly glory

b)  All nations, the world, people everywhere

11a)  By doing for their brothers (or others).  This includes feeding, clothing, inviting in, taking care of when sick, visiting in prison.

b)  By not doing for their brothers (or others).  This includes by not feeding, clothing, inviting them in, looking after them when sick or in prison.

12a)  They said they never fed Jesus himself or gave him something to drink or invited him in or clothe him or see him sick or in prison to care for.  The ones on the left said the same thing, adding they never saw him to help him.

b)  Romans 2:7-11:  If we do good and seek to do His glory, we will receive glory, honor, and peace.  If we are self-seeking and reject the truth and follow evil, we will meet with wrath and anger, trouble and distress.

James 2:14-17:  Act out your faith:  if you see someone in need, help them.  Offer clothing and food.

1 John 3:16-19:  We ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.  If we see someone in need, we need to have pity on them and help if we are able.  Love with actions and in truth and then we will know we belong to Him.

Conclusions:  Sigh of relief!  Much, much easier than the last two days.  Basically, what you do for others, you do for Jesus himself.  Be kind and generous and do what Jesus would do since he is not here in person to care for his sheep, then we are to care for his sheep in his name.

End Notes:  This judgment is different than the one in Revelation 20:11-15.  This one happens on earth, right after Jesus returns and seems to be only for the Gentiles.

Sheep and goats were pastured together but at night separated since goats need to huddle for warmth but sheep with their wooly fur do not.

This judgment is based purely on works.  The ones on the left were condemned for being indifferent and doing nothing.  Hence, scholars believe this was a separation before Jesus’ millennial reign.  I am no expert in this area so I defer to our forthcoming study of Revelation to clear this one up.

This ends Jesus’ Olivet Discourse and Jesus’ teachings and now we will focus on the events that lead to Jesus’ death.