BSF Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1: Lesson 7, Day 2: 1 Samuel 1

Image result for 1 samuel 1

Summary of 1 Samuel 1:

A man named Elkanah of Ephraim had two wives, Hannah and Peninnah. Hannah was childless. He would sacrifice to the Lord and give double portions to Hannah because he loved her. Yet, Peninnah taunted Hannah because she had no children, which made Hannah sad. So she prayed to God, vowing if He gave her a son, she’d give him to God. Eli thought her drunk, but she was only praying. Sure enough, Hannah had a son and named him Samuel, meaning “heard of God.”

When Samuel could leave his mother, Hannah took him to the temple at Shiloh and gave him to the Lord.

BSF Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1: Lesson 7, Day 2: 1 Samuel 1:

3) Hannah was provoked by Elkahan’s other wife, Peninnah, because she had no children. She took her tears to the Lord and gave it all to Him to handle. She was also the favored wife.

4) Personal Question. My answer: Eli was judging Hannah based off appearances. You can’t judge a book by its cover, and don’t jump to conclusions. Ask questions before assuming.

5) Part personal Question. My answer: She prays a heartfelt prayer to God, giving Him all her anguish. She keeps her vow of giving away her precious son to God. I’m challenged by agreeing to give stuff up. It’s hard.

Conclusions: BSF Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1 Lesson 7, Day 2: 1 Samuel 1:

I love the example of faith of Hannah. So much more here about faith and prayer that BSF did not have time to touch on. Please read my End Notes for the full discussion and what Hannah teaches us.

Another amazing video on 1 Samuel HERE

End Notes BSF Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1 Lesson 7, Day 2: 1 Samuel 1:

God begins 1 Samuel 1 with a man He is going to use. God often uses man for His purposes.

He was a descendant of Zuph, and his family line shows he was a Levite (1 Chronicles 6:16-30). He is called an Ephraimite here because his family lived in a Levitical city in the boundaries of Ephraim, not because he was of the tribe of Ephraim.

Polygamy was a fact of life in the ancient world. However, the Bible never puts polygamy in a favorable light. Strife and conflict always characterize polygamous families in the Bible.

According to the Law of Moses, Israelites could not worship God through sacrifice at any time and in any way they pleased. They were to bring sacrifices to the tabernacle and the priests, which at this time were at Shiloh.

These priests are mentioned by name because they were known as notoriously wicked priests (1 Samuel 2:1724). Their mention here shows how godly Elkanah was. Even though the priests were wicked, he still offered sacrifices to the LORD, knowing that the wickedness of the priest did not make his own service to the LORD invalid.

As Elkanah brought his family each year to the tabernacle for sacrifice he ate a ceremonial meal at the tabernacle with his family, giving portions to his wives and their children. He showed his favor and love to Hannah by giving her a double portion.

Because of the conflict between the two wives, Hannah could not enjoy this display of love and favor from Elkanah.

Beyond Hannah’s painful trial, there was a purpose of God. God used the trial of a closed womb to accomplish something great in her life and to further the whole plan of salvation.

It seems strange that Peninnah (who seems of a bad character) was blessed with children and Hannah (who seems of a good character) was cursed with barrenness. God’s ways are not our ways.

What do we learn from Hannah’s hardship?

  • Even though things were hard, God was still in charge.
  • God has a purpose in all our trials.
  • Often, we don’t understand God’s ways until He completes His plan.

In Elkanah’s response to Hannah’s sorrow, we see that he really did love her; yet like many men he was insensitive. He did not recognize that she had needs he could not fulfill (such as the desire to be a mother).

Hannah was in bitterness of soul and great anguish, yet she did the right thing. Hannah took those bitter and anguished feelings to God honestly in prayer.

Fun Fact: Hannah began her prayer by calling on the LORD of hosts. This title is used some 260 times in the Old Testament and has the idea “LORD of the Mighty Armies.” Hannah felt attacked by her rival, so she called on the LORD of Mighty Armies to be her protector.

Hannah promised her son to the work of the LORD, vowing he would be a Nazirite from birth. According to Numbers 6, the vow of a Nazirite included:

  • Abstinence from any product from a grape vine, signifying distance from all fleshly pleasures.
  • Taking no part in any mourning for the dead nor to come near a dead body because the dead show the corruption and the fruit of sin. Also, this showed that the Nazirite had greater concerns than the ordinary joys and sorrows of life.
  • Never cutting the hair because it was a public, visible sign to others of the vow.
  • Typically, the vow of a Nazirite was taken for a set and rather short period of time. Samuel and Samson (Judges 13:5) were unique because they were Nazirites from birth

The child was already dedicated as a Levite because God regarded the tribe of Levi as His own special possession. But the time of a Levite’s special dedication to the LORD only lasted from the age of 30 to 50 (Numbers 4:2-3). Hannah took something that already belonged to the LORD and gave it again to Him in a greater way – for the whole life, and in the dedication of a Nazirite, which was a greater consecration than a Levite.

This is literally, “as she multiplied to pray.” We only have recorded a bare summary of Hannah’s prayer. Can you imagine her whole prayer?

What do we learn from Hannah’s prayer?Image result for mountain

  • Prayer does not need to be aloud.
  • Prayer only needs to be from the heart.
  • Pray your heart, soul, and anguish before the Lord, and give it to Him.

Eli misunderstood Hannah, but the fact that he suspected that she was drunk shows that it may not have been unusual for people to become drunk at the “fellowship meals” with the LORD at the tabernacle. The fact that Eli suspected Hannah of drunkenness doesn’t speak well for what went on around the tabernacle.

Hannah did not accept Eli’s accusation, but she did not respond in a haughty or arrogant tone or get defensive. She would explain herself, but she did it remembering that he was her high priest.

Eli may have spoken this only as a kind wish; but it was in fact a word from the LORD.

The change in Hannah’s countenance shows that she received the promise from Eli with faith, something necessary if we will inherit the promises of God (Hebrews 6:12).

Hannah shows how we can regain the joy of fellowship in the house of the LORD again: by pouring out our heart before the LORD and by receiving His word with faith.

Hannah could genuinely worship the LORD in faith while the promise was still not yet fulfilled. This is a glorious pattern of faith.

To use the term remembered is an anthropomorphism, a way of explaining God’s actions in human terms that we can understand, even if it doesn’t perfectly describe God’s action. It isn’t as if God ever forgot Hannah, but it is proper to say He remembered her.

What do we learn from Hannah’s example?

  • Patience. It didn’t happen right away. Hannah had reason enough to be discouraged, but when the promise of God was spoken she did not lose faith in the promise, even when it took some time. She is a great example of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises (Hebrews 6:12).
  • Keep your vows. Even in difficult situations, they could worship the LORD.

In that culture, a child was usually not weaned until two years of age, or sometimes three years. It is reasonable to assume that Hannah was in no hurry to wean Samuel.

The fact that 1 Samuel 1:24 mentions three bulls brought to Shiloh but 1 Samuel 1:25 mentions only one being sacrificed (with some of the meat available for a fellowship meal) emphasizes that one of the bulls was specifically made as a burnt offering for the cleansing and consecration of little Samuel.

This could be translated, “And I also made myself to present for the LORD.” The idea is not that Hannah “owned” the child and “lent” him to the LORD. Instead, the idea is that the child is her “prayer,” or the fulfillment of her prayer to the LORD.

The name Samuel means “Name of God” but Hannah – as was common among the Hebrews – made a pun on the name by saying that she had “asked the LORD for him.” Asked in Hebrew sounds like Samuel.

Worship is a repeated characteristic of this family (see also 1 Samuel 1:31928). Praising God on the day you give your little son away may not be easy, but it is praise God is pleased with even as we are told to bring a sacrifice of praise to God (Hebrews 13:15).

God helped several barren women in the Bible: Sarah (Genesis 11:30), Rebekah (Genesis 25:21), Rachel (Genesis 30:22), and Elizabeth (Luke 1:7).

Image result for butterfliesWhat do we learn from Hannah’s life?

  • She did not cling to her woes.
  • She did not cling to her blessings.
  • All belong to God.

The longing for children may be the strongest in life. Look at the thousands spent on fertility treatments. Instead, with no such technology available, Hannah went to God. And God answered. Every year she made Samuel a garment–a huge expenditure when cloth and thread were made by hand.

BSF Study Questions Romans Lesson 7, Day 2: Romans 4:1-5

Summary of passage:  Abraham was righteous because he had faith in God.  He was not righteous through works.  This is the truth for all men:  trust God–be righteous.  Rely on works–not gain righteousness through works alone.

Questions:

3)  Abraham believed God.  He obeyed God in all he was told to do (except with regards to Hagar).  He moved.  He circumcised his kids.

4)  Because people have to work to earn those wages.  Gifts are free.  Wages are earned.

5a)  Salvation/eternal life.  Death/hell.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  One of faith.  Reliance on Him for everything.  I have expectations but only because I have faith in God to answer and provide.  I expect Him to show up because He says He will.  I expect Him to answer prayers because He says He does.  I don’t expect anything of God that He doesn’t already promise.

Conclusions:  Good passage by Paul and analogy of what our relationship is supposed to be:  faith.  All of us can relate to working for others.  Great clarity!

End Notes:  Paul is answering his question from Romans 3:31 and he uses Abraham (the George Washington of the Jewish faith and one who is undeniably justified) as his example.  Abraham was accounted as righteous (Genesis 15:6).  He did not earn righteousness.  No one can earn it.  It’s a gift from God as a reward for faith in Him.  The Jewish leaders of the day taught that Abraham earned righteousness.  Before God, Abraham earned no credit.

Remember righteousness is the right relationship with God and the life one leads because of this.  Through faith this righteousness justifies us and we live according to God.

Grace (ancient Greek word charis) means the unmerited favor of God toward sinners who through Jesus Christ provides us with redemption.  Grace maintains Christians throughout their earthly life.

Grace is given. Works are earned.  Works connotes the idea that God owes us because we are good.

God justifies the wicked/ungodly.

All are credited as righteous through faith.  This was not just for Abraham.

There are NOT two ways to salvation – saved by works through law-keeping in the Old Testament and saved by grace through faith in the New Testament. Paul is saying (using Abraham as an example) that everyone who has ever been saved – Old or New Testament – is saved by grace through faith, through their relationship of a trusting love with God.  Because of the New Covenant we have benefits of salvation that Old Testament saints did not have but we do not have a different manner of salvation.

Fun Fact:  Paul uses the Greek word for “credited” 10 times in Chapter 4 alone.

BSF Study Questions John Lesson 7, Day 2: John 5:1-15

Summary of passage:  Jesus was in Galilee in Chapter 4, healing the official’s son and now we’re back to Jerusalem where Jesus heals a man at a pool at Bethesda on the Sabbath.  He tells the man to get up, pick up his mat, and walk and the man does.  This is in Jerusalem at the feast of the Jews.  The Jews told the man he can’t do work on the Sabbath i.e. carry his mat.  The man says Jesus told him to.

Questions:

3)  38 years.  He can’t walk so he lies around.  He’s angry or full of self-pity when he says he has no one to help him to the poor and people are always jumping in front of him.  But the man has great faith in Jesus’ words because he does as told:  gets up, picks up his mat, and walks.

4a)  “Get up!”

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  To always turn to him for the answers first.  To trust in events and circumstances that God is in control.

5)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  “See, you are well again.  Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.”  We must obey Jesus all the time because we are in danger of turning from him, following the wrong path, and ending up worse than we are now.  Sin leads us down the wrong path.  Jesus wants us on his path.

Conclusions:  I’m disappointed there were no questions on the “Jews” (most likely the Pharisees) who were angry that Jesus healed on the Sabbath.  There’s no in-depth questions on the feast of the Jews or the Sabbath either.  There’s so much to this passage and we took a very superficial approach here.  See End Notes for much more.

End Notes:  Scholars are unsure which feast this is but it was probably one of the major three feasts in which attendance was required:  either Passover, Pentecost, or Purim/Tabernacles.  If it was a Passover, then there were four Passovers in Jesus’ ministry, making it last 3½ years.  John explicitly mentions 3 Passovers (2:13, 23; 6:4; 11:55, 12:1), which would make Jesus’ ministry only 2 1/2 years).

The pool in Bethesda has been excavated and does indeed have 5 porches as John describes.  Although he speaks in the present tense, this doesn’t necessarily mean the temple is still standing.

The belief was that an angel of the Lord would come down and stir up the waters of this pool.  The first one into the pool after each such disturbance would be cured of whatever disease he had.  Hence, the congregation of the blind, lame and paralyzed.  The belief was this only happened at certain times such as at Passover or at feasts.

If this were true, it would be unusual in the Bible (outside of Jesus’ miracles).  Other examples of healings;  2 Kings 4:38-41; 2 Kings 5:10-14; 2 Kings 13:20-21; Acts 5:14-16; Acts 19:11-12

There were a multitude of people sick at this pool and Jesus selected this man to meet his need.  None of these people looked to Jesus.  Instead, they all stared into a pool–waiting.  So many of us do this:  wait on circumstances and events in our lives that will never be perfect.  Look to Jesus and pray instead!

Jesus asks the man first if he wants to get well.  Some people don’t.  Some are so defeated by their condition they lose heart.  Jesus needed to make sure the man still had heart.  People who have lived that long with a disease know no other life and the thought of losing that comfort zone scares them.

Here, the man is hopeful (he comes to the pool) but unhopeful (he won’t ever get in the waters).

In faith, the man obeyed Jesus.  And look what happened!  Normally, Jesus healed only if one had faith in him but this man did not know him but he still had faith.

Healing in the Bible:  anointing, praying, faith, and medical treatment:  James 5:14-16; Mark 16:17-18; 1 Corinthians 12:9; Matthew 9:22; Mark 2:4-5; Matthew 8:13; 1 Timothy 5:23; James 5:14 with Luke 10:34.

When John says “the Jews”, he refers to the Jewish leaders.

Carrying the bed was work, which according the rabbis, was forbidden on the Sabbath.  This is man’s interpretation of God’s laws, not God’s laws.  The penalty for doing work on the Sabbath could be severe–even being stoned.

Jesus ignored all custom and said  it is good to do good on the Sabbath (John 5:17, John 7:23; Luke 6:9; 13:15; 14:5).

Still to this day, orthodox Jews do no work on the Sabbath.

Note the Rabbis don’t care that the man was healed.  All they care about is him carrying a mat on the Sabbath.

Jesus disappears as he didn’t want a riot to break out amongst the other disabled.

Jesus finds the man again to warn him his spiritual health is in danger.  He needs to now focus on doing good with his new-found life.

Note the first betrayal here of Jesus:  the man found the Jewish leaders and told them it was indeed Jesus Christ.  The man could have been afraid of the Jewish leaders as well but could have held his tongue and definitely not sought them out.  Isn’t it amazing how Jesus knows he will be betrayed but he does it anyways because it’s the right thing to do.  I wish to have such an attitude and such heart.

Pool of Bethesda in Art HERE

Map of Bethesda and Jerusalem HERE

BSF Study Questions Revelation Lesson 7, Day 2: Acts 2:1-21

Summary of passage:  On the day of Pentecost after Jesus’s death, the Holy Spirit came upon God’s people and enabled them.  All the Jews who were there for Pentecost heard and understood one another in their own language.  Some accused them of being drunk but Peter told them they are prophesying due to the Holy Spirit being poured on them.  He quotes Joel.

Questions:

3)  Those who believed in Jesus received the Holy Spirit to dwell within them after his death, beginning at Pentecost and thereafter.  The Holy Spirit will guide the people and teach them and serve as a reminder of Jesus.  The people all believed in Jesus.

4)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  Believers today receive the Holy Spirit when they accept Jesus as their Savior and those who accept Jesus in the future will receive the Spirit as well.  Like Jesus promised, the Spirit guides me and protects me and reminds me I am His.  I believe the Spirit guides me to do His work and not my work.

5)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Family members.  I will speak of this bible study and see where it goes from there.  I will ask, “Did you know the book of Revelation is all about Jesus?”

Conclusions:  The answer to “Who are God’s people?” is those who believe in Jesus.  Here we see God’s gift to believers–the Holy Spirit–until the Second Coming when He will be our gift.  Ambivalent on the value of this lesson since it is a part of the study of Acts and am excited to hear the lecture and read the notes and hear the connection with Revelation.

End Notes:  Pentecost is held 50 days after Passover (pente means 50), which celebrated the first fruits of the wheat harvest.  Here, it is 10 days after Jesus ascended into heaven and commanded his followers to wait for the Holy Spirit.  This was a long time to wait and be patient in the aftermath of Jesus’s death.

The gathering together was important as they waited in prayer, obedience, and emptiness in their need for Him.

In Hebrew, Greek, and Latin, the word for Spirit is the same root word as wind.  This harkens us back to the beginning of time with God breathing life into His creation.  Amazing, isn’t it?

Fire is a purifier and the idea of “rested” or “sat” is permanent in the original Greek.  “Each of them”.  The Spirit is for individuals–Gentiles as well as Jews.  First time we see this in the Bible.

Many of these people were the same who had just demanded Christ die on the cross.  Hard to think about but amazing in God’s love for us.

There are 120 people gathered here (Acts 1:15)–probably in a temple, a place big enough to hold so many.  A crowd must have heard them and gathered.  The crowd is the one full of doubters and accusing them of being drunk.  Galileans were known for harsh speech and difficult to understand–uncouth if you will.  This amazes the crowd that such uncultured men could speak so eloquently.

Tower of Babel anyone?  This is deliberate (as all things God does in the Bible).  God separated with speech and language and now He brings together.  Awesome!

The crowd overhears the men speaking in diverse languages.  When Peter speaks to the crowd, it is in Greek, the language they all know.  Many argue and interpret this passage with regards to the gift of tongues which I will not go into since it has nothing to do with our Revelation study.

Remember God’s idea of time is not ours.  We are in the “last days” but how long the “last days” will last to us humans we do not know.

The pouring out of the Spirit begins the “last days” after Jesus ascends into heaven.  The wonders in heaven and signs on earth has yet to happen.

“Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”  This is from God. We are decades away from Paul and the Gentiles being invited formally into God’s kingdom; here Peter says it will happen.  Everyone is eligible.  God is so amazing that it’s hard to understand those who see the Bible as a mere coincidence with history.

BSF Study Questions The Life of Moses Lesson 7, Day 2: Exodus 15:22-16:36

Summary of passage:  The Exodus continues now as Moses leads God’s people from the Red Sea through the Desert of Shur.  Here, they could not find water so Moses cries out to the Lord.  God shows Moses a log which he throws in the water to purify it.  The Lord made a decree with his people that if they listened to Him and followed his command and kept his decrees, He would not bring any diseases upon them.

Exodus 16:  The march through the desert is not easy so the people begin to grumble against Moses and Aaron, saying they have brought them out here to die.  The Lord then promised to rain down bread from heaven and have the people gather the bread.  Moses told the people they would receive bread in the mornings and meat in the evenings from the Lord since He has heard their grumblings against Him.  The people could see the glory of the Lord speaking to Moses.  God did this so they would know He is the Lord their God.

God sent manna and quail for the Israelites to eat.  They were to take only what was needed and not save any. When some took too much, it rotted by morning.  On the sixth day, the people are to gather enough food for the Sabbath.  This they are allowed to store.  However, as always, some disobeyed and tried to find food, angering the Lord.

The Lord commanded the people to keep some manna as a reminder of their journey.  For 40 years, the people ate manna provided by God until they came to Canaan.

Questions:

3a)  Three days

b)  Moses cried out to the Lord and He heard and showed Moses a piece of wood, which he threw in the water, purifying it.

c)  The people must listen carefully to the voice of the Lord and do what is right in His eyes and pay attention to His commands and keep all of his decrees, then He would never bring diseases upon His people.

d)  He is the Lord their God who heals them.

4a)  The people think that Moses has brought them into the desert when it is the Lord who has done so.

b)  God. Verses 7, 8 & 9

5a)  He rained down bread (manna) for the people in the morning and provided meat (quail) for them in the evenings. He did this for 40 years.

b)  It was a test to see if the people followed His instructions exactly.  If they listened to God and followed His decrees.  It also tested their faith and reliance on God to provide for their needs.

c)  Jesus said that God gave them the bread from heaven but the true bread is himself–the one who came down from heaven and gives life to the world.  Jesus follows with one of his most famous statements, saying he is the bread of life and whoever comes to him in faith and belief will have everlasting life.

d)  Personal Question.  My answer:  I am assuming you can read this as how have you experienced Jesus.  For me, he is everywhere always in every nook and cranny of my being.  I experience him every day and praise and thank him for my life which he has blessed me with.  He is my bread, my salvation and I pray I live that every day of my life.

Conclusions:  My favorite part is how the Israelites grumble against Moses but it’s truly against God.  How often do we do this? Blame others and lash out at them when it’s not their fault and we are truly mad at God for our circumstances.  We blame others when it’s our lack of faith that is to blame.  I loved how both God and Moses called the people on it and highlighted their lack of faith and ungratefulness.  I also like how it only took 3 days from seeing God at His most powerful for the Israelites to forget.

I wonder what it must have been like to see manna fall from the sky.  Cool!

End Notes:  Experts say 3 days is the maximum amount of time the human body can go without water under desert conditions.

Why did Moses not use his rod he is carrying that have worked the wonders before?  Every time, God has granted Moses and the rod the ability to do His bidding.  The same here.  God must give the rod magic powers; the rod itself has nothing to do with it.  Hence, God chooses a log instead, reminiscent of the cross.  Scholars also say this water was purified with elements to cleanse the Israelites of any maladies from Egypt.  So it cleansed and it satisfied.

When God calls you to obey Him, it is really a test.

Many of God’s laws is to keep the people safe from diseases.

Elim was a place of restoration for the people.  Testing would come later as they continued their journey across the desert.

Exodus 16 opens with one month after leaving Egypt.  The people are headed towards the Sinai but they must cross the Wilderness of Sin first.

Note the Israelites were the only ones to call the bread manna, which means “What is it?”  God almost always called it “bread from heaven”.  God provides in unexpected ways.

God could have been mad about the complaints.  Instead, He had compassion and mercy on them and gave them what they needed.

The quails here migrate over the Sinai Peninsula and at night they rest and are easy picking for predators.

Manna was a thin, flaky substance left over when the dew evaporated, which the people had to gather.  No one really knows exactly what it was but God.  No one knows exactly how much an omer was either.  It had to be gathered by each family when it appeared.  No laziness accepted.

The first mention of the Sabbath is right here!  The first mention since God rested after the creation, that is, in Genesis 2.  The root word of ‘rest’ and ‘Sabbath’ are the same.  I missed this because I am so used to the Sabbath being holy but here the Israelites had no clue what God was doing.  Hence, I think in some small way this can explain why some disobeyed (even though they shouldn’t have) to gather the bread.  God was teaching here and some unfortunately missed it.

Just as God provided, God stopped once they arrived in Canaan.  He blessed them instead with the joy of providing for themselves.

Here was our wonderful question to read from John as Jesus explains the true meaning behind manna and the bread of life.  Awesome!

Take away:  The details are truly unimportant here.  What we need to know is this:  depend on God who will provide in unexpected ways as long as you obey and trust in Him.  Feed daily from the true Bread of Life and you will be blessed forevermore.

Extras:  Short reading on Sabbath and this passage HERE

Interesting longer read on the Sabbath HERE, which details its beginnings, its meaning for the Jews at the time, and its meaning for Christians.  Very good article on the misunderstandings of the Sabbath and how Christians can distort the true intent behind it.  Excellent for those who think God can be compartimentalized to one day only!

More on the Sabbath will be forthcoming in our study, especially since it is one of the Ten Commandments so stay tuned!

My Favorite Map Showing Elim, Marah and Sinai:  HERE

BSF Study Questions Matthew Lesson 7, Day 2: Matthew 6:1-18

Summary of passage:  Do not give just to be seen by others; otherwise, you have no reward in heaven.  Basically, give from your heart not out of obligation and not to brag about it.  Same with prayer.  Pray alone to the Father and don’t pray just to be seen as holy or righteous.  Pray from the heart.  Don’t pray with meaningless words just so you can gain “bonus points” in heaven for God already knows what you need before you ask.

Jesus models how to pray by citing the Lord’s prayer:  Your kingdom come and will be done on earth as it is in heaven.  Forgive us our debts and lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.

Forgive men who sin against you as God does or He will not forgive you.  Fast for God, not for man.

Questions:

3a)  “Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”  “I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.”

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  It’s not about doing things just to be seen or just because you feel it’s your duty.  It’s about helping others and devoting yourself to God because you want to and because it’s in your heart.  It doesn’t matter if man thinks you are a good Christian or not.  It only matters what God sees.  Random acts of kindness done for no personal glorification or acknowledgement is what God wants.  My goal is to do more little things for others without being acknowledged and work up to the big things.

4a)  Personal Question.  My answer:  We are to give to the needy generously.  We are to forgive others like God has forgiven us.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  God wants our full attention when we pray to Him and He wants our heart, not some mumbo-gumbo that is meaningless.  From the Lord’s prayer, I see how it honors God, focuses on His will in my life today, forgiving others and staying out of temptation and evil.  Fast for God, not others.

5a)  They do it out of a sense of duty or obligation or to be seen as good people or because their friend or someone they admire is doing it so they feel they should do it so they can be friends with that person.  Or they do religious activities to impress others or for bragging rights.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  God says “you will have no reward from your Father in Heaven.”  I don’t know what God’s rewards are (besides blessings) but I don’t know what rewards await me in Heaven but if I do things without the right heart, I gain none of those.

c)  Their reward is the trumpet sounds, the applause from others, an earthly reward.  They will not receive a reward in heaven.

d)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Do things for Him out of a good heart for His glory and not for man’s.

Conclusions:  I love the emphasis on praying in a quiet place, just you and God.  It’s a good reminder of why we do charity work–for God and not ourselves or others.  Let God be present in the work and the idea is to be barely conscious of the good deeds you are doing.

This is a continuation of the Sermon on the Mount.  Jesus has not moved.  The main message here: Live for God and not yourself.  He is the only one that matters.  We work for heavenly rewards, not earthly ones.  They are far more important than a “slap on the back”.

End Notes:  The ancient Greek word for room was a storehouse where treasures were kept.  The idea is go to a place to pray where you will receive treasure (or rewards in heaven).

Jesus was the first to pray to God as the Father in heaven.  Jews did not call God “Father” because it was considered too intimate.

Notice in the Lord’s prayer it’s about God’s name, God’s kingdom, and God’s will.  We are to pray for our needs daily.  Debts are our sins.

Notice the missing line at the end of the Lord’s prayer (at least in my Bible it’s missing):  “For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.  Amen.”  Scholars think this line was not written by Matthew but added later by scribes who copied the Bible.  Thus, it has been deleted from many Bibles.  When I was a kid, I memorized this line.

Fasting was a command under Old Testament law (Leviticus 16:29-31 and 23:37-32; Numbers 29:7) and practiced at other times as well (Zechariah 7:3-5; 8:19) that is not eradicated with the New Covenant so it is hard for us to understand it.  But the Pharisees fasted twice a week (Luke 18:12) and would make sure everyone knew they were fasting.  Again, a command by God corrupted by man that Jesus here is correcting.

BSF Study Questions Genesis Lesson 7, Day 2: Genesis 6:1-12 with 1 Peter 3:20; 2 Peter 2:4-9; 3:1-10 & Jude 5-7

Summary of passages:  Genesis 6:1-12:  The sons of God married any daughters they chose.  The Lord said His Spirit will not contend with (be with) man forever for he is mortal; his days will be a hundred and twenty years.  The Nephilim were the heroes of old, men of renown and were on earth during this time when the sons of God were as well.

God saw how men’s hearts had become only evil and He was filled with pain.  God said he would wipe mankind from the face of the earth for He is grieved (regretted) He created them.  Except for Noah who was a righteous man and walked with God.  Noah had 3 sons: Shem, Ham and Japheth.

The earth was corrupt and the people were violent.

1 Peter 3:20:  God only saved 8 people in the ark.  He waited patiently while the ark was being built for others to repent but none did.

2 Peter 2:4-9:  God punished the wicked:  He sent angels to hell when they sinned.  He brought the flood but saved Noah.  He burned Sodom and Gomorrah but rescued Lot, a righteous man.  The Lord rescues godly men but condemned the unrighteous.

2 Peter 3:1-10:  The writer is imploring the people to wholesome thinking.  In the last days, scoffers will come, skeptical and evil, questioning God, forgetting the creation.  The world was destroyed in the flood and the day of judgment will come when the world will be destroyed by fire.

The Lord’s time is not our time; He is patient, giving everyone a chance to repent.  But the Day of Judgment will come and everything will be destroyed.

Jude 5-7:  The Lord delivered His people out of Egypt but later destroyed those who didn’t believe.  He bound angels who did not keep their positions of authority.  Sodom and Gomorrah were burned as punishment for sin.

Questions:

3)  There are two main ideas about who the sons of God and the daughters of men were.  Some say the sons of God were from the line of Seth and the daughters of men were from the line of Cain, which would represent a mixing of godly with ungodly which the Bible later does not permit (Deuteronomy 7:1-4 and 2 Corinthians 6:14).

The more popular theory is the sons of God are fallen angels or demons or demon-possessed men and the daughters of men are human women.  This is supported by other passages in the Old Testament that refer to the sons of God as angels (Job 1:6; 2:1; 38:7).

Jude seems to support this claim as well, saying the angels in a similar way committed sexual immorality and thus God kept them in darkness and bounded them in chains.

1 Peter 18-20 tells us Jesus went and preached to these spirits in prison.

Scholars refute this angel idea with Matthew 22:30 where Jesus says angels do not marry.  However, he is speaking of obeying angels not disobeying/Fallen angels.

The idea is Satan tried to thwart God’s plan for the Messiah by polluting the Seed of the woman where the Savior will come from (Genesis 3:15).  This could be a reason for the flood.  Man was so corrupt and polluted God had to start over with Noah.

4a)  Morals are the principles of right and wrong behavior and the goodness or badness of human character.

How great man’s wickedness had become and how every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil.

b)  Well, if you believe the sons of God are demons and they mixed with humans than the flood succeeds in purifying the human race again.  God started over with Noah, ridding the world of all the violence and beginning anew.

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  That God will punish evil and evil-doers but He will show grace to the righteous.

5a)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Sin.  Every sin I commit causes God grief and pain.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Speculation since God hasn’t spoken to me directly but I believe I have found favor by seeking Him, repenting from sin, asking for forgiveness, striving to be more like Jesus every day, learning from my mistakes, reading God’s word, doing His call on my life, praying, putting Him center, following His commandments, etc.

Conclusions:  The Nephilim were believed to be the offspring of the sons of God and the daughters of men.  Of course, this is debated as well, depending upon which theory you believe the sons of God to be.  So they are either the offspring of Seth or of angels.  You can read a good explanation of both theories HERE

If you did the study of Isaiah, you will remember me saying how the whole book was how bad and evil man was and how God was going to judge all.  And it was depressing due to man’s sin.

Here, we see God again (as we see Him often in the Old Testament) judging the evils of man and exercising punishment.  But we also see God’s goodness in preserving a remnant with Noah.  Preserving the righteous.  In rewarding those who do good.

God could have wiped us all out and been done with man.  Fed up with us and given up. Ended His grief and pain over His creation.  But He didn’t.

God is always good even when He is exercising justice in this world.

All sin grieves God.  I saw no need to be specific in 5a.  We all know what we do to cause God grief as He knows.  The key is recognizing it, repenting, asking for forgiveness, accepting His forgiveness, and making changes in your life to do better.  That’s all Fallen Man can do.

Remember when we fall, God will pick us up.  Again and again and again.

BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 7, Day 2: Acts 14:1-7

Summary of passage:  At Iconium Paul and Barnabas spoke at the Jewish synagogue, performing miraculous signs and wonders.  A great number of both Jews and Gentiles believed.  The Jews who didn’t believe united with the Gentiles to ultimately divide the city against Paul and Barnabas.  Ultimately, a plot developed to stone the two men, resulting in Paul and Barnabas fleeing to Lystra and Derbe in Lycaonia.

Questions:

3a)  Effectively and boldly

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Verbal witness is how you speak verbally as a witness for Jesus.  For me, I’m probably not effective or bold.  I’m a writer, not a speaker.  I don’t get my point across very well when I speak.  I have to think things through and edit my thoughts (which works better on paper, not so much when speaking).  So I hope my life and my actions speak louder than my jumbled thoughts when I witness verbally for Jesus.

4)  A great number of Jews and Gentiles believed but those who didn’t plotted to stone them so once again they fled.

5)  Again, it goes back to anything new and breaking people’s mindset.  The Jews had believed for so long they were special (set apart by God–which is true) and had followed the OT rules (sacrifices) it’s hard to change and accept that Jesus’ death negated all of this.  His death rid them of centuries (over a millennium) of tradition.  Man’s first reaction is to resist and when it comes to religious issues most people are fiercely protective and resistive to change.  Acceptance is slow coming–especially in Jesus’ time where knowledge of others’ cultures and beliefs were limited.

Political correctness did not exist back then.  It was the Roman way or the highway (death).

Conclusions:  I think Question 5 is the ultimate message here.  Wherever there is change, there is resistance and for one who propounds change, that person should be prepared for it.  Great message for me.

If the change is aligned with God’s work, He will provide during the transition.

Map of Lystra and Derbe:  http://www.biblestudy.org/maps/apostle-paul-second-missionary-journey-map.html

I liked this map.  It shows how close Lystra, Derbe, and Iconium are in Turkey.  Lycaonia was a part of Galatia–all Roman provinces at the time.