BSF Study Questions Romans Lesson 23, Day 3: Romans 12:9-13

Summary of passage:  Paul offers sage words for living:  Love others.  Honor others above yourselves.  Always serve God.  Be joyful, patience, and faithful.  Share with those who are in need.  Practice hospitality.

Questions:

6)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Everyone.  It’s my nature to be selfish and do whatever I want whenever I want.  It’s a struggle every day to put my needs/wants aside.

7)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Serve the Lord always.  I’m currently trying to serve my community more and those around me more through doing what he wants me to do.

8 )  Personal Question.  My answer:  All.  It’s all about not being selfish and doing for others when man’s nature is to the opposite.

Conclusions:  All personal.  Unsure why.  Verses are clear cut on how to behave.

End Notes:  [Same as Yesterday’s].  Other translations say:  “Let love be without hypocrisy”.  This isn’t real love at all.  However, I firmly believe in “fake it till you make it.”  Some people are hard to love, but treating them with dignity and respect can grow into love.

We are to hate evil AND cling to what is good.  Most of time we pick only one to do.

Be affectionate and genuine to one another.

This is simply a call for good manners, right?  A lot of kids nowadays have no manners at all.

We are also called to work hard.

“Spiritual fervor” can be translated as “boiling.”

The call to hope in the Bible usually has in mind the call to our ultimate home with Jesus.  Everything we do must be with an eye towards heaven.  Difficult times and troubles do not excuse us to abandon our hope and love and prayer.  Just because we’re having a bad day doesn’t mean you should make others have a bad day.  Always cling to Jesus and what he offers.  It’s a cause for joy (1 Peter 1:3-9).

Leon Morris explains patient as: “denotes not a passive putting up with things, but an active, steadfast endurance.”  Enduring triumphantly which is necessary for Christians because affliction is our inevitable experience (John 16:33; 2 Timothy 3:12)  Tribulation/affliction: “denotes not some minor pinprick, but deep and serious trouble.”

“Faithful in prayer”:  One must not only pray in hard times, but also maintain communion with God through prayer at all times (Luke 18:1; 1 Thessalonians 5:17).

God’s people is sometimes translated as “saints”, which all believers are.  The idea here is practice what you preach. Put into action what you believe.  The ancient Greek word for hospitality is literally translated “love for strangers.” In addition, “given” (translated for us as practice) is a strong word, sometimes translated “persecute” (as in Romans 12:14).  The idea is to “pursue” people you don’t know with hospitality.  This is love in action, not just feelings.

BSF Study Questions John Lesson 23, Day 3: John 17:6-10

Summary of passage:  Jesus says he has revealed God to the disciples.  They have obeyed him and accepted Jesus as God.  Glory comes to Jesus through them.  God has given the disciples and us to Jesus. We are His.  We will bring glory to God.

Questions:

6)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  Because we are God’s gift to him (Jesus).  We have believed in Jesus. We will bring glory to Jesus.  It’s hard to internalize that I bring joy to Jesus especially when my life is wrought with sin.  It helps to know I’m on his path and doing his work.

7a)  Because they obeyed God, accepted the teaching, knew Jesus’ origin, and believed in Jesus as God’s Son.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  By following Jesus everyday in all the little things in life that add up to the big things in life.  By having faith in him.  By showing the world our faith to bring Jesus glory.

Conclusions:  Thought we could have dug a little deeper into these questions instead of focusing so much on the personal.  See End Notes for more.

End Notes: This prayer is to the disciples initially but is extended to all believers as well.  Here, Jesus is giving the disciples over to God.  Only as people see the Father at work in Jesus do they have a proper concept of God.

Manifest is a better translation that revealed in the NIV.  Jesus manifested God to his disciples in all that he did:  miracles, the way he lived, the love, the compassion, the holiness of God.  So we are to manifest God as well in all we do.

God gave the disciples to Jesus (Luke 6:12-16).  Yet they had faith in Jesus as the Savior.  Both must occur for eternal salvation.

This prayer is for the disciples.  It is the disciples who will bring the rest of us to faith.

Spurgeon says, “There is an old proverb; it is, ‘Love me, love my dog.’ It is as if the Lord Jesus so loved the Father that even such poor dogs as we are get loved by him for his Father’s sake. To the eyes of Jesus we are radiant with beauty because God hath loved us.”  Because God loves us, Jesus loves us.  And thank God for that!  He loved us enough to pay our penalty for sin.  Amazing!

Believers belong to both God and Jesus.  Everything we have belongs to God, but not everything He has belongs to us.  Anyone can say to God the Father “all mine are Yours“; but only Jesus could say “and Yours are Mine.”

Jesus is glorified in us.  Think on that a moment.  Think of our actions every day.  We must be mindful that Jesus is in us and must be glorified.  How would your actions change if you remembered that?

BSF Study Questions Revelation Lesson 23, Day 3: Revelation 18:4-8

Summary of passage:  Another voice from heaven begs the people to turn from their sins for God is going to pay the prostitute back double for what she has done.  She will be consumed by fire.

Questions:

5)  Another voice from heaven begs the people to turn from their sins for God is going to pay Babylon back double for what she has done.  In one day her plagues will overtake her and she will be consumed by fire.

6)  God has remembered His promises to His people and will blot out their transgressions. (Hebrews 8:12).

7)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  God gives people one more chance to come to Him even after all of these judgements and even after they have still rejected Him.  He offers mercy but follows up with justice for those who refuse to turn from sin.  God is in charge.  He already knows who will be saved and who won’t so I pray and give the rest to Him.

Conclusions:  Hard passage to get anything new out of–a vague vision warning God’s people (again) to turn from their ways for the final judgment will happen at any time.

End Notes:  The voice is talking to God’s people who are surrounded by decadence and sin.  We see the call to leave Babylon frequently in scripture (Jeremiah 50:8, 51:45; Isaiah 52:11; 2 Corinthians 6:14-17).  The call is for God’s people to separate themselves from the sins around them or face God’s wrath as well.

We see double restitution in Exodus 22:4-9.  We saw the cup as God’s anger in Revelation 14:10 as well.

Here, the voice points out three sins:  selfishness (living luxuriously), pride (boasting as a queen), and avoiding suffering (not a widow and will never mourn).

Who is the voice?  Some say Jesus since the voice says, “my people.”

Babylon will be destroyed as described by Isaiah 47:14 and Jeremiah 51:58.  Fire is a symbol of judgment.

Many commentators draw parallels to the US as Babylon. But I argue all nations are Babylon.  We live in luxury, are prideful, indifferent to others’ sufferings, and turn from God.  The fall can happen any time.

BSF Study Questions The Life of Moses Lesson 23, Day 3: Numbers 21:4-7

Summary of passage:  The Israelites are now traveling around Edom to the Promised Land.  Again, they are grumbling against God and Moses.  So the Lord sent poisonous snakes to punish the people for their sin.  They bit the people and many died.  They went to their intercessor, Moses, to pray for God to take the snakes away.

Questions:

4)  Because the Edomites refused them passage.

5a)  Opinion question.  My answer:  Not sure.  One would think they would be elated after their victory but taking the long way around through desert does take its toll.  They are probably travel weary.  Yet this shouldn’t surprise us.  The Israelites have been grumbling for years now about God’s provision.

b)  God

c)  God sent venomous snakes to kill them.

6a)  They recognized their sin, confessed it, and asked for God to relent and forgive them.

b)  Acknowledge your sin, confess it, and the Lord will forgive you.

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  I dislike these questions that are so open-ended that I have trouble pin-pointing a specific time.  I would say too many to recollect as this occurs to me almost on a daily basis. I sin, I confess, I experience God’s grace and mercy.  This helps me in incalculable ways in terms of relieving my guilt, allowing me to be a better person, and be more like Jesus.

Conclusions:  Like Day 2, this lesson did nothing for me.  The questions were ones we’ve already seen in previous lessons [ Question 4 was Question 9b in Lesson 22.  Question 5b is numerous questions from previous lessons: Question 7a in Lesson 20, 6a in Lesson 21 ].  The ray of hope is God.  I just wish the people would see this–and I would as well.

End Notes:  Old habits die hard.  Here we see victory and then grumbling by the people.  This scares me as I would like to think I’d be different in these situations but what makes me better than the Israelites?  Nothing.  Very scary, impactful, and convicting when we read of God’s people rejecting Him over and over again.

If you look at my map links carefully (here’s ONE that shows a wide loop), you will see that the Israelites actually had to turn around and go back and away from Canaan to go around the Edomites.  Discouraging?  Yes.  An excuse to complain?  No.

Here we witness the new generation doing the same sins as the previous generation except upped a notch:  they grumble against God Himself as well as Moses.  Not good.  Not good at all.

Some translations say fiery serpents.  Mine says venomous.  This could refer to the color of the snakes as being red or their bite that may have burned like fire.

Scholars believe the victims were mostly of the older generation who died in fulfillment of God’s promise to not allow them into the Promised Land.

Note how the younger generation complained against God but how they also immediately repented and recognized God as their sovereign leader and the only one to save them.  Their hearts are His despite their missteps.

BSF Study Questions Matthew Lesson 23, Day 3: Matthew 22:34-40

Summary of passage:  Now a Pharisee tries again to trap Jesus by asking him what is the greatest commandment of the Law.  Jesus said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul and with all your mind and Love your neighbor as yourself.”  All the Law boils down to this.

Questions:

6a)  “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.”  Mark adds that the Lord our God is one.

b)  Not sure because people don’t say the opposite but they live out the opposite which is the fact most people love themselves more than God and live for themselves and not God.  I think this is what BSF is looking for.

c)  Just that.  We love ourselves deeply and usually put ourselves first.  Jesus is saying to love everyone just as deeply and treat them as you would yourself.  Show concern for them and interest in them and their lives.

d)  Because if you don’t have God first in your life then you’ll never be capable of putting others first in your life and loving them as you love yourself.  Only through the love of God can we love others as Jesus commands us to love.  Only through loving God, fearing God, serving God, observing the commandments, and walking in His ways can we produce such love that will fulfill the law.

7a)  All your heart, soul, mind and strength:  Love God with all your heart.  To embed Him in you.  To have the Holy Spirit within to guide you on His path.  You love Him with everything you have, everything you are, everything you will be.  Period.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Put Him first in my life always.  Pray all the time before I do anything.  Wake with Him there and go to bed with Him there.  Have God in the forefront of my mind instead of me.

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  That we are God’s chosen people out of all the peoples on the earth.  We are His treasured possession.  He will love us and bless us and increase our numbers (verse 13).  He will keep us free from disease (verse 15).

If you realize how much God loves you and truly believe it then it is easy to obey Him and conquer those opposed to Him.

We love because he first loved us (1 John 4:19).  If we are loved, then we can love.

Conclusions:  This lesson was awash for me and should be called the study of Deuteronomy as well.  I blame myself:  I had great expectations of what I’m unsure but none were met.  Number 7a I put together as you cannot separate in my opinion God’s greatest command and for me I found this hard to explain as it is as simple as it is stated.  You love God with everything you have.  Period.  Mark 12:30 did not help so why was it mentioned?

7c I didn’t “learn” anything.  I was reminded that we are God’s people.  But I cannot fathom His love for me and no human words can convey it.

Unsure on 6b.  Not sure people “say” anything.  They do the opposite and probably say God is first, being hypocrites as most people I know (including myself at times).  Very few admit they live for themselves instead of for God.

I think I wanted these commandments to be pressed upon me to the point I’d follow it every moment of my life.  And I realize now BSF can’t do that; only God can.  So I prayed, “God, let me live this out.  That you are number One in my life and that I can love a little bit as you love.”

My take away:  I fall far short of these commands and I need to work on it with God’s help.

End Notes:  In that day there were 613 commandments in Moses’ law and various groups argued over which were the most important.  The trap was for Jesus to pick just one which would surely offend some of these groups.  Once again Jesus outwits them to the point they give up and dare not ask him anything else because then they look stupid.

BSF Study Questions Genesis Lesson 23, Day 3: Genesis 29:31-30:24 & 35:16-20

Summary of passages:  Genesis 29:31-30:24:  The Lord gave Leah children because she was unloved by Jacob while Rachel remained barren.  She had Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah.

Rachel became jealous of Leah and demanded children from Jacob (like it’s Jacob’s fault. Why doesn’t she go to God?).  Which Jacob not so kindly pointed out to her.  So Rachel offered up her maidservant, Bilhah, in her place (does NO one learn around here?). Bilhah had Dan and Naphtali and Rachel felt she won over her sister.

So what does Leah do?  She wants revenge.  So she offers up her servant, Zilpah, to Jacob to have kids with (Jacob apparently is loving this).  Zilpah had Gad and Asher.

[The next scene is unbelievable!]

Reuben brings Leah some mandrake plants.  Rachel wants some so she trades a night with Jacob for some.  Leah sleeps with Jacob and becomes pregnant with Issachar.  Leah had another son named Zebulun (but she is apparently not honored by Jacob).  Then she had a daughter named Dinah.

Rachel prayed to God (finally) and He heard her.  He blessed her with a son named Joseph.  Then she prayed for another.

Genesis 35:16-20:  Rachel gave birth to Benjamin and she died in the process.

Questions:

6a)  Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, Issachar, Zebulun, Joseph, and Benjamin.

b)  God completely disagrees with favoritism as we see in 29:31 when we are told the reason God blesses Leah with children is because she was not loved by Jacob (but is this fair to Rachel?)

c)  She was comforted with sons but to me her words don’t show a lot of comfort because she is still hoping Jacob will love her with each birth and he never does.  Pray and accept it willingly.

7a)  To be loved by her husband (but isn’t this her fault as well?  She married him knowing he did not love her.).  No, she was never loved.

b)  Leah is in heaven.  But Jacob’s sons became the 12 Tribes of Israel (including hers).  Levi’s was set apart as priests.  The royal line was through the tribe of Judah.  And Christ came through Leah (the line of Judah), not Rachel.

c)  2 Corinthians tells us to not lose heart for inwardly we are being renewed day by day and our momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that outweighs anything we are going through on earth.  God doesn’t forget us in our earthly struggles. He comforts us in different ways (for Leah a child) and for us through His word, through a friend, our kids, our spouse, our pets, strangers, prayer, church, or something material. He is there in the unseen.

Conclusions:  Was I the only one wondering why is Jacob having sex with Leah if he didn’t love her?  Conjugal duties only? Sex is supposed to be the ultimate show of love and bonding of a man and a woman as one.  So why is Jacob just “going through the motions” here?  Or is he just shunning the meaning of sexual intercourse and engaging callously, especially when Leah herself says she is unloved?

Jacob could have ended all of the jealously between sisters if he had just honored the marriage vows.  And kept his pants zipped.  But Jacob is of the flesh.  He couldn’t overcome his desires.

It seems to me all of this is Jacob’s fault.  Sure, you could argue Laban was at fault for substituting Leah in place of Rachel (but shouldn’t Jacob have checked before getting it on with her?) but Jacob is 100% responsible as the man of the household for decisions. He’s also responsible for who he sleeps with and who he doesn’t.

He could have ended all of this but he must have been enjoying having 4 women as wives and all the in-fighting over his affections.  Not only could he have stopped the sex part, but he could have FORBIDDEN the rivalry as the man of the household.  Instead, he stood by.  And watched his family become more and more dysfunctional every day.  He’s definitely egotistical and likes to have his ego stroked.

This whole passage is just utterly sad.  Here we have 2 sisters, competing with each other, and using children as the weapon!!  The kids have become trophies so to speak and it becomes a competition of who has more!!  How sad!  We have 2 sisters who are blood allowing a man to separate them and cause one ugly feud that must have been wretched for the entire household.  And we have the man who plays one wife off the other by refusing to zip his pants!  He probably would have slept with more servants if offered! Sad all around!

Leah was comforted by God to a point.  But she repeatedly says how she’s trying to earn Jacob’s affection.  This is a sin.  For God should be enough.  God is NOT her center.  For if God had been, she wouldn’t have needed Jacob to fill the need deep inside of her that only God can fill in all of us.

Can you imagine growing up in this environment?  Can you imagine how the children felt?  Obviously there is tension. They learned it from their mothers.  And saw their father stand by and do nothing to stop it.  Who can blame the brothers when they throw Joseph down the well?  With these two as mothers it’s no wonder!  And no father to lead!

Great reason why there should only be one man and one woman in a relationship (as God intended).  But Leviticus 18:18 had to outlaw specifically no marriage with sisters.  Any one guess why?

Explanation on the mandrake plant:  Why all the fuss over this plant?  Why would Rachel trade a night with her husband to Leah for it?  It had to be pretty valuable stuff. And it was (at least so it was thought).

Mandrakes are a plant that is thought to increase fertility in women.  It is the root of the plant and it is translated as “love-apples” in Hebrew.  It worked in Leah’s case!

We should see now the sovereignty of God over childbirth.  He opens wombs and closes them repeated throughout the Bible.  As He does today.  We also see His grace. When women (or husband’s) pray, God answers and opens wombs.  Great lesson for those struggling to have a baby.

Rachel pays the ultimate price for this competition:  with her life.  She asked Jacob for children or she would die (Genesis 30:1).  She got both.  This was also the fulfillment of the curse Jacob pronounced in Genesis 31:32.

Final Note:  Everyone sinned here.  But the sin could have stopped.  All it would have taken would have been only ONE of them to stand up and say “No more!”.  Rachel didn’t. Leah didn’t.  And Jacob didn’t.  And so the sin perpetuated.  And into the next generation as the kids learned from their parents’ examples.

This is the lesson for us all.  It only takes one party in a conflict to stand up for what is right, for their beliefs, for God’s will and word, and say “No more!”