BSF Study Questions Romans Lesson 21, Day 2: Romans 12:1-2

Summary of passage:  Paul urges Christians to offer our bodies as living sacrifices to God as an act of worship.  He urges us to not conform to this world but to allow God to renew our mind so that we can know His will for us.

Questions:

3)  He is connecting chapter 11, which ended with his doxology to God, praising His wisdom, knowledge, and how all things are through Him.

4)  Here, Paul says to offer our bodies as living sacrifices to God as an act of worship.  He urges us to not conform to this world but to allow God to renew our mind so that we can know His will for us.

5)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  We should not conform (to act in accordance with prevailing standards or customs). This is very broad so using what we know from the Bible is we should follow how Jesus wants us to act not the world.  Thus, we should be giving, compassionate, prayerful, kind, helpful, loving, generous, gentle, patient, forgiving, etc.  We should be living for God, not for ourselves.  My pastor has had a profound influence.  Seeing his imperfect walk with Christ inspires me when I fail as well.  I can still impact others imperfectly.

Conclusions:  We will be studying 2 verses alone this whole lesson again.  I’ll be interested to see where this goes and if it’s as good as Lesson 20.

End Notes: Chapters 12:1-15:33.  Paul now turns to the practical application of all he has said previously in the letter.  This does not mean he has not said anything about Christian living up to this point because as we saw Chapters 6-8 touched on this already but now Paul goes into detail to show that Jesus Christ is to be Lord of every area of life.  These chapters are not a postscript to the great theological discussions in Chapters 1-11.  In a real sense the entire letter has been directed toward the goal of showing that God demands our action as well as our believer and thinking. Faith expresses itself in obedience.

“Therefore”  It is Paul’s pattern to begin a letter with a strong doctrinal section and follow with exhortations to Christian living. Paul begs Christians to live a certain way in light of what God did for them.  Here, God gives us all things.  Now, how do we show Him gratitude for that?  With our bodies and our minds.

“Urging us” reminds us that we still have a choice in how we live for God.

“In view of God’s mercy” reminds us we do this because of the mercy God grants us (Romans 1-11).  In fact, we are only able to offer ourselves to Him because of His mercy.  Some of the mercies Paul has told us about already:

· Justification from the guilt and penalty of sin

· Adoption in Jesus and identification with Christ

· Placed under grace, not law

· Giving the Holy Spirit to live within

· Promise of help in all affliction

· Assurance of a standing in God’s election

· Confidence of coming glory

· Confidence of no separation from the love of God

· Confidence in God’s continued faithfulness

Think of “body” here as your entire being for your heart, soul, spirit, and mind are in your body. Paul is saying here give God your entire self.  God wants you!

Many today let their body rule in terms of engaging in physical pleasures.  Paul says no!  Our mind is the will and our mind brings the body as servant to God.

Ancient Greeks dismissed the body as unspiritual so this teaching would have shocked them.  Paul says God is concerned about our bodies, which were dearly bought at a price (1 Cor 6:19-20).

A living sacrifice is a dichotomy especially in the first century AD where sacrifices involved death.  The whole idea is the sacrifice is ongoing.  Paul could be contrasting dead animal sacrifices here as well or perhaps “living” in the sense of having the Holy Spirit.

“Holy and pleasing to God”:  The standard for sacrifices made to God under the New Covenant are not any less than the standard under the Old Covenant.

Sacrifices in the Old Testament:

· He shall bring a male without blemish (Leviticus 1:10)

· But if there is a defect in it, if it is lame or blind or has any serious defect, you shall not sacrifice it to the Lord your God (Deuteronomy 15:21)

The idea of a sweet aroma to the Lord is almost always linked to the idea of an offering made by fire. There is a “burning” in this matter of a living sacrifice. It also shows that Paul has in mind the burnt offering, in which the entire sacrifice was given to the Lord. In some sacrifices, the one offering the sacrifice and the priest shared in the some of the meal, but never in the burnt offering.

Today, the holiness we bring to the altar is a decision for holiness, and yielding to the work of holiness in our life.  As we present our bodies a living sacrifice, God makes our life holy by burning away impurities.

“Spiritual act of worship”:  This was translated as “reasonable service”.  The ancient Greek word for reasonable (logikos) can also be translated “of the word” (as it is in 1 Peter 2:2). Reasonable service is a life of worship according to God’s Word.

Another translation says “true and proper worship”.  This is to emphasize not merely ritual worship activity but the involvement of heart, mind, and will in worship and obedient service.

Verse 2:  So the world system with all its evil and corruption is opposed to God and His ways and is in rebellion.  Paul reminds us we must resist it.

Renewing the mind is the opposite of conforming the world.  The battle takes place in the mind.  Hence, Christians must think differently than non-believers.

Today the world is based on feelings.  Do what you feel is right.  Oh, you don’t want to work today.  Then don’t.  The government will take care of you.  Etc.  Also, the world is based on doings.  Just tell me what to do.

Paul says here we must know what God’s word says in our mind. We cannot blindly follow our whimsical feelings and follow the crowd of doers who are “doing” but accomplishing nothing.

“Transformed”:  This is the ancient Greek word metamorphoo – describing a metamorphosis. The same word is used to describe Jesus in His transfiguration (Mark 9:2-3).

Fun Fact:  The only other place Paul uses this word for transformed is in 2 Corinthians 3:18: “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.”  For Paul, this transformation and renewing of our minds takes place as we behold the face of God, spending time in His glory.  Note this is a process, not a single event.

“Then”:  After the spiritual transformation just described has taken place.

“Test and approve what God’s will is”:  The proof is the live that you live.  What God wants from the believer here and now.

“Good”:  That which leads to the spiritual and moral growth of the Christian.

“Pleasing”:  To God, not necessarily to us.

“Perfect”:  No improvement can be made on the will of God.

In sum, from Chapter 11 Paul writes if we keep in mind the rich mercy of God to you – past, present, and future (by the mercies of God) and as an act of intelligent worship, decide to yield your entire self to Him (present your bodies a living sacrifice) and resist conformity to the thoughts and actions of this world (do not be conformed) by focusing on God’s word and fellowship with Him (be transformed by the renewing of your mind) then our life will be in the will of God through the power of the Holy Spirit.  And others will witness this.

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BSF Study Questions John Lesson 21, Day 2: 1 John 1:1-2:2

INTRODUCTORY NOTE TO THIS LESSON:  This lesson took me 2 1/2 weeks to complete.  There is so much here in this short book about Christianity.  Please take the time to read my End Notes to each day which I have tried to make as condensed as possible to what all this means.  Your time put in this lesson will echo volumes in your understanding of the Bible and of John.

Summary of passage: The author makes clear Jesus was a human, one he has heard, seen, and touched. God is light without darkness. If we have fellowship with him and walk in the darkness we lie to ourselves and do not live by the truth. We are all sinners and if we confess our sins, we will be purified and forgiven. Jesus is the atoning sacrifice for our sins. We will know Jesus if we obey his commands.

Questions:

3)  Jesus (who is God as His Son, Jesus) because John has heard, seen, and touched him.

4) God is light and if we walk in the light, we’ll have fellowship with one another and Jesus’ blood will purify us of all sin.  He writes this to believers so that we may know we have eternal life, have fellowship with others, and with the Father and the Son.  He writes this so we won’t sin.

5)  Personal Question. My answer: False claims: 1) If you claim to have fellowship yet walk in the darkness. 2) If you claim to be without sin. 3) If you claim you have never sinned. Fellowship: 1) If we walk in the light. 2) If we confess our sins. 3) If we obey his commands. Well, I do sin but I don’t deny it. I do obey and walk in His ways. Do I stumble? Absolutely. But He picks me up. That’s all that matters.

Conclusions: Unsure why we’re reading 1 John at this point in our study right after the Last Supper. I hope the notes will shed some light on this. Great passage of how we are to walk in the light always and not tell ourselves we are when we still dally in the darkness.
End Notes: Much like the Book of Revelation, John does not expressly state that he is writing this letter. However, certain hints and distinctive writing patterns of style make it very likely that John the Apostle wrote this letter at an advanced age. This letter is eerily similar to the beginning of the Book of John and says how he was a close eyewitness of Jesus’ life.

John wrote the Book of John in order to bring readers to a belief in Christ. Here, this letter is directed to those who are already Christians, outlining how that faith should affect a person’s life. John starts with a few simple themes–light, truth, life, love–then builds variations on them. He defines a word, discusses its opposite, and then describes what a life should look like with God as the source of power in the Christian life.

Presumably, the Christian faith has been around for 50-60 years by the time of this letter.  John repeatedly begins with the phrase “If we claim” and then proceeds to show what actions must result if we claim to live in the true light and know God.

Most people understand that the important things in life are not things at all – they are the relationships we have. God has put a desire for relationship in every one of us, a desire He intended to be met with relationships with other people, but most of all, to be met by a relationship with Him. In this remarkable letter, John tells us the truth about relationships – and shows us how to have relationships that are real, for both now and eternity.  The whole purpose of the letter is to bring us to a relationship with God and His son, Jesus Christ.

The beginning John is referencing here is the beginning when there was only God.  He came to earth to know him (hence the seen, looked, and touched).  At the time John was writing, Gnosticism (from the Greek word for knowledge or gnosis) was gaining in popularity.  The gnostics believe Jesus was God’s Son but he never came to earth in a physical body.  They believed a physical body was intrinsically evil.  They believed Jesus was a phantom, a temporary apparition who only looked human.  Some said God descended on Jesus at his baptism but left him before death.

John debated these beliefs in person and he had them in mind when he said he touched, seen, and heard Jesus.  Throughout this letter he lambastes those who deny Jesus was flesh.

Gnostics believed all matter was evil.  Only the spirit was pure and they sought to rise to this spiritual level.  However, this led to horrible ethics as they believed they could act how they wanted since their spirit was pure and could not be tainted by earthly sins.

This is the same Logos (Word) spoken of in John 1:1.  For the Jews, God was often referred to as the Word because they knew God perfectly revealed Himself in His Word.  For the Greeks, their philosophers had spoken for centuries about the Logos – the basis for organization and intelligence in the universe, the Ultimate Reason which controls all things.

John is telling everyone, “I have seen and heard and touched and studied the Word!”.

John is calling Jesus the “eternal life”(John 5:26, 6:48; 11:25; Micah 5:2) equal to God.  He references the eternal relationship as well.  This eternal relationship is clearly described in the Scriptures, but we could also understand it from simple logic. If God is love (1 John 4:8) and God is eternal (Micah 5:2), we understand that love in isolation is meaningless. Love needs an object, and since there was a time before anything was created, there was a time when the only love in the universe was between the members of the Godhead: the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Christ is life because he is the living one who has life in himself (John 1:4; 11:25; 14:6).  He is also the source of life and sovereign over life.  This letter begins and ends with the theme of eternal life.

The word “with” indicates that this being, who is eternal, and is eternal life Himself, is distinct from the Father. John builds the New Testament understanding of the Trinity – that one God exists as three Persons, equal and one, yet distinct in their person.

The purpose of John’s declaration of the Word of life who is God yet distinct from the Father is to bring people into relationship with both God’s people and with God himself.

The idea of fellowship is one of the most important ideas in this letter of John’s. It is the ancient Greek word koinonia, which speaks of a sharing, a communion, a common bond and common life. It speaks of a living, breathing, sharing, loving relationship with another person.  It literally means common as in being shared by all.  We see this idea in common areas for animals to graze in.  We all share in the same resources and responsibilities of God and others.  Amazing grace at work!

This was a revolutionary idea in ancient times that man could have fellowship with God!  It’s the same idea as when Jesus told everyone to address God as Father (Matthew 6:9).  This relationship is only possible because Jesus was human.  We can become more like Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit because of this fellowship of a shared, common life–fellowship.  We share our life with Jesus and he shares his with us and we are better able to do life with Jesus.

Fellowships with others often leads to encounters with God.

Joy is optimism and cheerfulness and contentment.  John echoes Jesus (John 15:11; 16:24; 17:13).  Circumstances sap us of joy and we must fight to stay close to God to maintain it.

Verses 1-4 are one long sentence in the original manuscripts.  John sums up perfectly how to live our whole Christian life. God was.  He physically manifested.  He’s Jesus.  Fellowship with Jesus will bring you joy.

Verse 5 begins with John telling us this is what God says, not him. God is light.  Darkness is an absence of light. This is similar to saying God is perfect.

Some falsely claim to have fellowship.  “Walking” in the darkness is a pattern of life of wickedness and evil, not the occasional lapse we all experience.  This is active as we grow with Him.  “Walking” in the light is an obedient life–full of holiness and truth.  Since God is light, when we walk in the light we walk with God and experience the continual cleansing of the blood of Jesus.

Sin is the hindrance to fellowship and the blood of Jesus, received by faith as the payment for our sin, solves the problem of sin and opens the way to fellowship with God.

Note there is nothing said here about rites, ceremonies, baptisms, sacraments, the Eucharist, communion, etc.  It is only the blood of Jesus we need.

We are all sinners.  “Making mistakes” or being “only human” or “not perfect” will not get you to heaven.  Admitting you are a sinner will because Jesus came to rescue sinners.

We must keep on confessing our sins.  By admitting to God that what we have done is sin, and by asking for His divine forgiveness, we will be cleansed based on what Jesus has done for us on the cross.  Be truthful and God will be truthful.

This text doesn’t mean go and sin cause God will forgive you.  This is not fellowship with God and a right heart.  This is an evil heart and God will not forgive that.

If we don’t admit our sin, Jesus (the word) is not in us.  We will sin.  There is forgiveness in confessed sin.  Gnostics denied that their immoral actions were sinful.

God’s desire for us is not to sin, which is possible through Jesus Christ.  He is our defender if/when we sin and is our atoner and remover of our sins.  God’s wrath against man is satisfied and turned on to Jesus instead.  We must receive Christ’s sacrifice through faith (John 3:16).  This verse does not teach universalism (that all people ultimately will be saved), but that God is an impartial God and Christ’s sacrifice is open to all.

BSF Study Questions Revelation Lesson 21, Day 2: Various Passages

Summary of passages:  Various passages for the day.

Questions:

3a)  Justice is what is morally right and fair and mercy is compassion or forgiveness shown towards someone whom it is within one’s power to punish or harm.  In the United States and most of the developed world justice is administered through the nation’s government and court system.  This is positive as this is what the Bible tells us to do (Romans 13:1-5; 1 Peter 2:13-17) and it takes the responsibility out of the hands of the individuals where justice is much more subjective to the crime.  This is negative in places where people do sin and take justice into their own hands by committing murder, etc.

Mercy is more individual with people showing mercy towards others when they have been wronged.  Hence, we see this everywhere.  This is positive because people are more merciful than government who have to follow the law.  This is negative when people don’t show mercy.

b)  Exodus says God forgives wickedness, rebellion, and sin.  Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished.  John 3 tells us God showed mercy when He sent His only Son to die for our sins.  Peter says God is patient to allow everyone to repent in His mercy.  I think the court system is the best system for justice man can come up with.  It takes the subjectiveness and emotion out of it and puts everyone on an equal playing field by knowing the consequences of their actions BEFORE they commit the sin.  And this is equivalent to God’s as well since we know the repercussions of our sins and since God tells us to submit to authorities, it’s what we do.

God’s mercy is obviously infinitely greater than man’s, but we follow Jesus’ example as best we can and show mercy to others.  We can do this by sharing the gospel and showing the ultimate mercy as we try to save souls for eternity.

4)  Personal Question.  My answer:  I have been shown the ultimate mercy by being amongst the chosen to accept Jesus as my Savior.  Being born in the United States during modern times is justice to me since we do have laws that protect us and a civilized society.  I am more merciful to others because of Jesus and I try to be just to others as well because of Jesus and because of what is right and wrong.  Jesus is the ultimate administrator of justice and if I’ve been wronged, I give it to him to deal with.

Conclusions:  Not looking forward to this lesson as we take ANOTHER break from Revelation. These are the weeks I just want to skip.  This lesson has no passages to read from the Bible except in 3b.  It’s all personal opinion and what is justice and mercy and where we see it in today’s world.  This plays off of the last question from last week in Lesson 20, Day 5 where we were asked how can God be both love and wrathful.  He loves us so much He avenges His people and punishes His people when they disobey.  This is the ultimate sign of love and compassion and mercy.  He could let us run amok like wild animals, killing and tearing each other to shreds.  Instead, we exist for Him.

End Notes:  Exodus 34:6-7 where God describes Himself is the most quoted or alluded to passage in the Old Testament.  It’s a profound summary of God’s nature.  He is love, mercy, compassion, forgiveness, and punisher.  He is everything.

BSF Study Questions The Life of Moses Lesson 21, Day 2: Numbers 15

Summary of passage:  The Lord tells Moses more instructions for bringing offerings to Him when they enter the Promised Land.  Everyone must follow these rules including aliens for offerings. These are offerings by fire, special vows, freewill, or festival offerings.  And offerings from the first ground meal as well.

The Lord describes offerings for unintentional sin both for the community as a whole and for the individual.  They are to present a bull or goat to be sacrificed, the priest is to make atonement, and then they will be forgiven.  However, if the sin is intentional, then that person must be cut off from his people.

A man gathering wood on the Sabbath was stoned to death at the Lord’s directive for breaking his command to keep the Sabbath holy.

The Lord commands all people to wear blue tassels on their garments as a reminder to obey His commands.

Questions:

3a)  God says He is giving them the Promised Land as a home and He is the one taking them there.  The offerings in this chapter are offerings for when they get to the Promised Land so that must mean they will get there.  God says when you eat of the food of the land–The Promised Land.  God never said “if”.  It’s “when”.  God keeps His promises.

b)  Gathering wood on the Sabbath.  So the people would know the consequences of breaking God’s commands.  We’re not sure the time-frame of this penalty but if it were so close to the rebellion of the people against God in Chapters 13-14, then God had to come down harshly to make His point to discourage any more rebellion by His people.  To instill a fear of God in the people.  Obviously, this man knew he was breaking the law and he did it anyways.  To God, this is not okay.  And this man paid the price.  All the Israelites needed to know who was in control and thumbing your nose at God is not a good idea.

c)  Positive:  So the people will remember all the commands of the Lord and that they may obey the commands and not prostitute themselves by going after the lusts of their hearts and eyes.  The tassels will show the people are consecrated to the Lord.

Negative:  They are marked as God’s people and therefore may be targets of discrimination and hatred by pagan peoples.  It could be annoying to always have a reminder about being good and make the people feel like children.  However, God knows what His people need, and they are His children.

d)  Personal Question.  My answer:  God wanted His people to have a visual reminder that they are His and are special to Him.  It reminds me that I am special as well and am marked with the Holy Spirit as my reminder.  God is with me to resist temptation and sin.

Conclusions:  I think this must have been close after Numbers 13-14 of the rebellion as we see God reassuring the people, giving them visual reminders to help them, and punishing a man very severely for something small to make a point.  God wants His people to obey and He is doing everything in His power to make them.  God cares so much, doesn’t He?

End Notes:  The people once more were almost eliminated by God.  He had just told them none of them would live to see the Promised Land.  The people needed God most here to comfort and reassure them that He is still with them, He still loves them, they can still be forgiven for their sins, and their children will see the Promised Land.  God is pulling them back to Him with grace and mercy and love.

The amount of the offerings gets progressively bigger as our growth with Him should.  As we know Him, we give more and more and sacrifice more and more and receive more and more from Him as a reward.

Sin is sin.  Period.  Unintentional sin still counts.  Many dismiss it today as good intentions.  Still, sin occurs and must be atoned for like any other sin.  Luckily, our God is great and forgives all sins.

Intentional sin was basically a sentence of death.  Wonder how many people today would be castigated out if this were still the case?

The color blue is associated with holiness.  The Ark, the curtains, and the priest’s garments were of blue cloth.

We wear similar reminders today:  cross necklaces and earrings, T-shirts, etc.  Just like in Jesus’ day with the Pharisees (Matthew 23:5), we must be careful not to wear it in a prideful manner and as an indication of superiority over others.

I like wearing these reminders as a marking of whom I belong to to others.  It can be a great conversation/evangelism jumping off point when people remark how much they like my necklace or earrings.  I often forget I am wearing them, but others remind me!

BSF Study Questions Matthew Lesson 21, Day 2: Matthew 19:23-30

Summary of passage:  Jesus spoke to his disciples, saying it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven and the disciples were astonished at this news and asked Jesus then who can be saved.  Jesus said only with God can you be saved.  Peter says they have left everything to follow him so what will there be for them.

Jesus says they will sit on 12 thrones, judging the 12 tribes of Israel when he comes again and everyone who has believed in him will receive eternal life.  Many who are first will be last and many who are last will be first.

Questions:

3a)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Many people put achieving earthly success over Godly success and strive their whole lives to achieve things that will not matter in heaven and that they cannot take with them.  It is harder for them to enter heaven because they are unwilling to give up their stuff to follow Jesus.  It’s easier to give up less to follow him.  But when you think you have a lot to lose, you hesitate, and ultimately, like the young man here, you turn your back on Jesus himself.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  God can do all things, even what we think is impossible.  He can overcome hard hearts and if we believe and trust in Him to do so, He will.

Luke’s version of this story puts it best:  “What is impossible with men is possible with God.”  Luke 18:27

4a)  They will receive 100 times as much as they have given up.  This may not always be in the material sense but in a spiritual sense.

b)  Eternal life.

5a)  Those who leave something or someone for him will receive a hundred times as much in this present age (homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and fields–and with them, persecutions) and eternal life in the age to come.

b)  Romans 8:17-18:  We are heirs of God and Christ and we will share in his sufferings so we may share in his glory.

2 Timothy 3:12:  “Everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted”

1 Peter 2:19-21:  We were called to suffer and endure unjust suffering for doing God’s will because Christ suffered for us, leaving us his example to follow.

1 Peter 4:12-13:  Peter tells us it is a privilege and a joy to suffer for Christ so that we may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.  Painful trials should not be a surprise but an expectancy.  We should praise God for them because we bear them for Christ.

6)  We are allowed to share in His glory.  We know we will have eternal life.  We will receive 100 times as much which could be in wealth, or in peace, or in joy or in contentment for doing His will.  Knowing you are doing His work makes life easier to get through.  You always have Him to cling to.  And you always have the desire to keep moving forward when everything else is collapsing around you.

Conclusions:  I like the contrast with the glory and the suffering.  So many churches today just focus on the glory part and ignore the fact we are to suffer as well.  I believe this is important, especially with the younger generation who is growing up with a more and more entitlement attitude which is only setting them up for failure for when they do suffer hardships they will not know where to turn.

End Notes:  If you think about it, those who live in today’s world are richer than the man who wouldn’t give up his riches.

Riches foster independence and self-reliance.  It’s harder to rely on God say for example for food if you have it abundantly.  They also hamper our desire for something else if we have everything we need.

The disciples were shocked at Jesus’ words because in ancient times, riches were a sign of God’s blessings for the Jews.  Think of Abraham and Isaac.  David and Solomon.  God blessed them to the point they were the richest men in their known world.  Jacob was in fact the second-most powerful and richest man in the entire world.  Riches usually meant you relied on God and thanked Him for your blessings.  They were an outward sign of God’s blessings.

So the disciples were confused.  If the rich men weren’t saved and they were supposed to be the most Godly, then who can be saved?  Think of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.  They were all moderately wealthy.

I personally believe this has changed over time.  It was true in Abraham’s time that God used wealth as a sign of favor–to show other peoples that God is the One, True God and you’d better not mess with Him or His people.  As time has passed and more and more people know God, this has become unnecessary and in fact culture has twisted this and used wealth for mere pleasure rather than for God’s glory and it has become a barrier to God instead of a blessing from God.  To this is what Jesus is speaking.

Still, it is hard for people 2000 years ago who grew up with wealth being a sign of God’s blessings to accept.  Because it was still probably partially true to some extent.  It takes time for men’s minds and cultures to change beliefs.

Yet, still, “Everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” Luke 12:48  and Luke 19:26, Jesus repeats the idea:  “To everyone who has, more will be given.”

I still think God blesses those who are His with wealth as well.  Wealth can be material or spiritual or in other ways.  Yet, He expects much from those He blesses.  As He should and as we should expect from ourselves.

Peter, again, speaks without thinking.  He selfishly wants to know what he will get for following Jesus.  As if eternal salvation and forgiveness of our sins and righteousness with God WEREN’T enough!

Jesus says our rewards in heaven will not be based on our perceived status here on earth.  If you are first in this society, you will be last and vice versa.  Basically, what man rewards may not be what God rewards.  God is the ultimate judge of success, not man.

BSF Study Questions Genesis Lesson 21, Day 2: Genesis 25:19-26

Summary of passage:  Isaac was forty when he married Rebekah.  Isaac prayed when he discovered Rebekah was barren and God granted her twins.  The Lord told her she carried two nations, one will be stronger and the older will serve the younger.  Esau was the first born (his name may mean hairy.  He was also called Edom which means red for he was red-headed).  The second born was Jacob who came out clasping Esau’s heel (his name means he grasps the heel or he deceives).  Isaac was 60 years old at their birth.

Questions:

3a)  20 years

b)  Yes

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  The passages we are referred to say so God’s work can be displayed and so that they (Isaac and Rebekah) will learn God’s decrees and so they will cast their cares on the Lord so He can sustain them.  It is estimated that about 12-15 percent of women can’t have kids, have trouble getting pregnant, or have trouble carrying a baby to term.  They could have been one of these couples.

d)  Personal Question.  My answer:  They prayed and the Lord answered in His timing.

4)  “Two nations are in your womb” refers to how Esau will be the father of the Edomites (Genesis 36) and Jacob the father of the Israelites.  Abraham was promised in Genesis 17:4-6, 16 that many nations would descend from him and Sarah.

“Two people within you will be separated” means they will live apart.  1 Kings 11:14-16 shows how the Edomites fought against the Israelites and lost.

“One people will be stronger than the other” is the Israelites will be stronger.

“The older will serve the younger” shows how the Edomites will be subjects of the Israelites.  2 Samuel 8:12-14 discusses how David struck down the Edomites and subjected them to his rule.

2 Chronicles 21:8-10 speaks of how Edom rebelled against Judah’s rule.

The tiny book of Obadiah is prophecy from the Lord about Edom and Israel, basically saying in sum that Israel will be the last one standing and Edom will disappear from the face of the earth.  The last people of Edom were destroyed by the Romans in AD 70 when they took Jerusalem and destroyed the temple of the Lord.

Conclusions:  I’m not exactly thrilled about re-visiting Scripture we have already visited for an entire week.  And tomorrow is Hebrews–again.  Help.

I didn’t like 3b.  That was a “duh” to me.  Obviously.  Isaac was God’s chosen one to establish His people.  How else is he going to do it?  I thought we’d pick up at Genesis 28:10.

Needless to say, I’m not looking forward to this week.  To me, this is another filler lesson. Or I’m too impatient.  All year I’ve been looking forward to Joseph.  I’m ready.  Let’s move on!

End Note:  Just being honest here for those of you whom I’m sure will comment what a bad attitude I have and how I should drop out or quit or what-have-you (it could be a reflection of my state-of-mind right now as some of you have suggested as well.  I don’t know.  I’m not a psychologist).  This is how I feel about this lesson.  And I make no apologies for saying so.  But see this POST.  I’m doing it despite how I feel about it.  For I’m sure God has something here for me whether I see it or not or whether I feel like learning it or not.

BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 21, Day 2: 2 Corinthians 8-9

Summary of passage:  2 Corinthians 8:  Paul is now writing to the Corinthians about the Macedonian churches and their giving, saying they have given as much as they were able and then beyond that.  They pleaded to participate in the service to the saints (giving to the Jerusalem Christians).  They did so because they gave themselves first to the Lord and then to them.

So Paul has urged Titus (the bearer of this letter) to implore for funds and excel in giving like they excel in everything else: faith, speech, knowledge, love, earnestness, etc.

Paul is not commanding but testing their love through giving (Matthew 6:21) and reminding them how Jesus gave us a priceless gift of his death.

Paul urges them to follow through on their promises and give according to what they have not according to what they do not have.

We give to others so at some point when we need help we will be given to as well.

Titus is coming to collect the funds accompanied by a brother so to avoid any question of where the funds are going.  Give as proof of your love.

2 Corinthians 9:  The Macedonian enthusiasm to give has stirred others.  Paul is sending Titus and others to collect the money for the Jerusalem Christians.

If you sow sparingly, you reap sparingly.  If you sow generously, you will reap generously. Each should give what he has decided in his heart to give and give cheerfully not reluctantly or by force.  Then you will abound (be rewarded) for giving.  For giving is evidence of a right standing with God.

You will be made rich in every way so you can be generous on every occasion, showing thanksgiving to God.

Giving supplies the needs of God’s people and they thank God for the gifts, expressing thanks to God for what you have, others will praise your obedience to the Lord, and pray for you because of  your generosity.  (Who doesn’t need more prayer!).

Thanks to God for His indescribable gift (Jesus and salvation).  We should give because of what God has given us.

Questions:

3)  Paul had the vision to go to Macedonia (Acts 16:9).  Macedonia referred to by Paul was Northern Greece and Achaia (where Corinth is) was Southern Greece.  This would have included the churches at Thessalonica, Phillipi, and Berea.  Phillipi was the leading city of Macedonia (Acts 16:12) where Lydia and a group of women were converted and Paul was beaten and imprisoned.  In Thessalonica Paul converted those in the Jewish synagogues and a riot ensued (Acts 17).  In Berea the people were of noble character and received the Good News well and examined it with the scriptures (Acts 17).

4a)   They gave as much as were able and then beyond that.  They pleaded for the privilege in sharing in this service to the saints.  They exceeded expectations by giving themselves first to the Lord and then to them.

b)  I believe this question should be writing of the Macedonians, not to because Paul is still writing this same letter to the Corinthians.  The purpose was to encourage the Corinthians to contribute money to help the Christians in Jerusalem (1 Corinthians 16:1-4) especially after the falling out Paul had had with the Corinthians.

c) He is taking pains to do what is right in both the Lord’s eyes and in man’s.

d)  Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.  God loves a cheerful giver and each person should give what he has decided in his heart to give and not reluctantly or under compulsion.  God will make all grace abound to you.  You will be made rich in very way so that you can be generous on ever occasion and this generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.

Giving is an expression of thanks to God and it also serves as an inspiration to others to be giving as well.

5)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Give more and faithfully.  Give in different ways.  Be generous with my time.  Soften my heart to others in need.  Be cheerful about it.  Thank God for the ability to give since it is all His anyways.  Realize I am being blessed just as much and I am becoming more like Jesus the more I give.

Conclusions:  Great lessons and examples of what generosity looks like.  There is so much negativity in this world, so much tearing down when we should be building up that this lesson is a great reminder of why we are here:  not for ourselves but others.  We need to give in every way:  financially, spiritually, our time, our resources, our energy, mentally, physically, etc.  It’s not about us.  It’s about Him.

Our hearts need to lie where God’s does and that’s within others and with others.  We need to ignore society’s “Me, me, me” message and listen to God’s instead.

We give because God gave to us.  Period.  Sure, we are commanded and this and that but this is the ultimate reason.  Become more Christ-like, give like Jesus gave.