BSF Study Questions Romans Lesson 1, Day 3: Romans 1:8-10

Summary of passage:  Paul thanks God for the Romans’ faithfulness.  He says how he prays for them constantly and he prays God will allow him to visit them.

Questions:

6)  God through Jesus.  He was grateful for the faith of the Romans.

7)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Serving goes hand-in-hand with prayer.  Prayer should be in the forefront of all of our lives and the decisions we make.

8a)  He prays to be able to visit them by God’s will.  Paul does visit them although as a prisoner.

b)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  God answers prayers and it may not be in the way we envision but it’s in His way.  I always ask.  No matter what.  If you don’t ask, God doesn’t answer (Matthew 7:7).  I pray for the impossible and expect the impossible but am not disappointed if it doesn’t happen cause it is in God’s will.  I have faith He’ll do His work through me.

Conclusions:  Great lesson on prayer and gratitude.  Paul is grateful and thankful.  He prays for the prayers answered, people, and prayers he wants answers.  Great prayer model!

End Notes:  Paul is especially grateful because of the visibility of the Roman church.  Rome remember is the most powerful place on the planet.  A strong Christian community goes a long way toward the spread of the good news.  In Rome, where the pagan Roman gods ruled, the Christians were strongly persecuted especially under Nero.  They needed Paul’s prayers!

A lesson to us:  remember to pray for your church as well!

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

Summary of passage:  Paul greets the people of the early Roman church, identifying himself as a servant of Jesus and an apostle of God’s Word, which was promised long ago.  Jesus is the Son of God as declared by his resurrection.  Through Jesus Paul and others call the Gentiles to Jesus.  You (the early Christian church in Rome made up mostly of Jewish converts) are called to Jesus as well.

Questions:

3)  He’s “a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, and set apart for the gospel of God.”  In Acts is the story of Paul’s conversion.  Jesus appeared to him and called him to convert the Gentiles as Jesus told Ananias.  Paul preached in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God.  Paul explains to Timothy that he was the worst of sinners, but through God’s mercy and grace Paul was given the task to save sinners.

4)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  Jesus is the Son of God and we are called to belong to him.  It is good cause we are forever granted eternal life by God’s side.  Just being a Christian is goodness defined no matter your circumstances.  Living in the dark is a terrible place to be.  Having Jesus by my side every second of every day is a blessing with no words.  In all aspects of my life, good and bad, He is good.  I am blessed beyond words.

5)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  They are called to belong to Jesus through grace and are called to apostleship as well.  They are loved by God and called to be saints.  He offered them grace and peace.  We are all loved and called by God’s grace alone to be His.  We are also called to tell others the good news.  It reminds me I am loved and cherished and I need to show grace and mercy and Him to others.

Conclusions:  Great introduction by Paul, summing up who he is and pouring out love to the Romans.  Reading Paul’s conversion right off the bat reminds us all how Paul was the ultimate sinner until God called him.  He did terrible, terrible things and was on his way to do more terrible, terrible things when God intervened.  So there’s always hope.  For you or a loved one.  God knows.  His timing is perfect.  Trust in Him.

End Notes:  Background on the writing of Romans:  The life and ministry of Paul (previously known as Saul of Tarsus) is in Acts chapters 8 through 28, Galatians 1 and 2, and 2 Corinthians 11 and 12.

In ancient times writers put their names at the beginning of letters.  Almost all scholars agree Paul wrote Romans from the city of Corinth as he wintered there on his third missionary journey as described in Acts 20:2-3. This is based on Romans 16:1, 23 and 1 Corinthians 1:14.   The book is dated from 53 to 58 AD.

When Paul wrote the Book of Romans, he had been a Christian preacher for some 20 years. On his way to Jerusalem, he had three months in Corinth without any pressing duties. He perhaps thought this was a good time to write ahead to the Christians in Rome, a church he planned to visit after the trip to Jerusalem.

However, as Paul endeavored to go to Rome, the Holy Spirit warned him about the peril awaiting him in Jerusalem (Acts 21:10-14). What if he were unable to make it to Rome? Then he must write them a letter so comprehensive that the Christians in Rome had the gospel Paul preached, even if Paul himself were not able to visit them.

Because of all this, Romans is different than many of the other letters Paul wrote churches. Other New Testament letters focus more on the church and its challenges and problems. The Letter to the Romans focuses more on God and His great plan of redemption.

Romans 1:1-7:  Paul is first a servant of Jesus and then an apostle.  This order is important.  The Greek word used here is complete and utter devotion.  Next, Paul is an apostle or messenger of God, which means it’s God’s words, not his.

Romans is all about God.

Fun Fact:  The word “God” occurs 153 times in Romans; an average of once every 46 words – this is more frequent than any other New Testament book. In comparison, note the frequency of other words used in Romans: law (72), Christ (65), sin (48), Lord (43), and faith (40).  Romans deals with many different themes but as much as a book can be, it is a book about God.

The gospel is not new, Paul says.  It’s been around since the prophets.

Christianity centers on Jesus, who is both human and divine.  Period.

Our Lord signifies deity and God.

History of First Christian Church in Rome:  Paul had never been to Rome, and he did not found the Roman church.  Most of Paul’s letters were to churches he founded.  Acts 2:10 describes how there were people from Rome among the Jews present at the Day of Pentecost; so when they returned home, Christians needed a place to worship.  Furthermore, being the center of the known world at that time in history, Christians continually migrated to Rome from all parts of the Empire.  It shouldn’t surprise us that a church started there spontaneously, without being directly planted by an apostle.  Moreover, there is no Biblical or historical evidence that the Apostle Peter founded the church in Rome.

Even so, through mutual acquaintances or through his travels, Paul knew many of the Christians in Rome by name because he mentions them in Romans 16.  Hence, he knew two things about them and every true Christian:  they were beloved of God and saints.

The Christians became saints through the calling.  “to be” is added by translators.  All Christians are holy since they are set apart to God and have the Holy Spirit within.

This greeting is used by both Paul and Peter in all their letters.  It combines the traditional Greek greetings with Hebrew.  The greeting is echoed in the conclusions, serving as an apostolic benediction on those addressed.

BSF Study Questions Revelation Lesson 1, Day 3 & Day 4

Introductory Remark:  This is the first time I have ever seen BSF do two days assigned together. There are a lot of passages to look up.

Summary of passages:  Various passages for the day.

Questions:

6)  Personal Question.  My answer:  I think because people are unhappy with their present life and instead of hoping in God, they are hoping in the future their life will be better.  They will marry the man of their dreams, strike it rich, live long and healthy, and find joy.

This was especially true in the Middle Ages up until the twentieth century even.  Most people were peasants.  Their lives were hard with no hope of improvement.  They toiled day in and day out just to survive with the prospect of an early death.  In reality, until the advent of America where people saw the lower class becoming the upper class most lived lives of despair.  I’m not saying America is perfect; what I am saying is that it is the model and the hope of many of what life can be.

Even today many are born in poverty around the world with little hope of betterment.  So they seek out someone who will tell them life will get better and give them hope.  This was the birth of fortune tellers.

Many people today will gladly pay someone to tell them what they want to hear–to give them the escape from their live they so desperately crave.  I think even those who know better do this.  They are so broken down by the fallen world we live in they seek whatever bit of heaven on earth available.  And if someone tells them they will have it, they believe.  Naively.

7a)  Isaiah 45:21:  Here, God is speaking and He is saying He is the only one who can predict the future–He and He alone.  This is proof of His power and He is challenging the pagan gods of the day to foretell anything (read before and after this passage for the full context).

Amos 3:7:  God does nothing without revealing His plan to his servants the prophets.

2 Timothy 3:16:  “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness.”  We can believe the prophecies in the Bible.

Hebrews 11:32-40:  All the prophets in the Bible through faith in God accomplished God’s will and fulfilled God’s promises to His people.

1 Peter 1:10-12:  The prophets had the truth revealed to them by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven to enlighten us for our sakes and not their own.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  All point to how the prophecy in the Bible is God-breathed.  The prophets mentioned have all fulfilled God’s words and His will for this earth.  He is the only god in history to predict the future.  Never once has God failed to do what He has said He would do.  We can trust in Him.

8 )  Part Personal Question.  My answers:

Isaiah 7:14; 9:6-7; Luke 1:26-27:  Two prophecies are here if you keep reading Isaiah 7:14-17.  One is the prediction of the birth of the Messiah.  But before the Messiah grew out of boyhood, the land of their enemies would be laid to waste and the king of Assyria will come.  Twelve years after this prediction, Israel fell.

Matthew 1:22-23 directly quotes this verse from Isaiah and says it’s in reference to Jesus.

What I find interesting here is what BSF didn’t ask us to read:  That Ahaz, the king of Judah, refused to “test” the Lord or ask for a sign but God through Isaiah gave it anyways.  I love this!  Even when us stubborn people don’t want to hear God and don’t want to do what He says, He speaks anyways whether we like it or not–good news or bad.  Beautiful!  (This is the beginning of Isaiah 7)

Micah 5:2; Matthew 2:1-6:  Micah foretells a ruler will come from Bethlehem.  Jesus was born in Bethlehem and Matthew quotes Micah here.

Isaiah 53:3-6; Matthew 27:22-26:  Isaiah describes Jesus here as one despised and rejected by men and pierced for our transgressions.  Here in Matthew we see the people call for his execution and crucify (pierce) him.

What’s interesting is the fulfillment of God’s plan for mankind since the beginning of time and how many times God tells His people what will happen.

9)  Personal Question.  My answer:  You can tell a false prophet because they can only bear bad fruit.  Deuteronomy (remember from last year?) tells us that a false prophets prophecies will not come true.  They will deny the Lord and further do not acknowledge Jesus (1 John 4:2-3).  These prophets also don’t listen to us, meaning Godly-people of the Spirit (1 John 4:6).  Ask yourself:  Is this something in line with God and His character?  If not, then it’s false.

10)  It is important for our faith.  If God has no track record, how can we be sure?  God does what He says He will do and He has done it throughout history and the Bible records His predictions and fulfillments.  This leads to faith in Him, in His prophecies, in His words.

Conclusions:  Initially, I was hesitant on question 6.  Then I started to answer it and it just flowed. The “why” of it all is powerful.  I tend to dismiss all fortune tellers as malarky.  It’s hard for me to see why anyone would believe any of these people.  But this question answered that for me:  it’s hope.  People need hope in their lives or their lives are meaningless.  And without God, people have no hope and are desperate.  I’ve always had Him in my life for which I am blessed.  But there have been times when my hope has waned.  Now I see how these people have flourished in the past and in the present.

With God, there is hope.  Without Him, there is nothing.

We did discuss false prophets and teachings last year because there are liars and cheats everywhere even today.  We hear of cults and sect religions.  Especially in ancient times when knowledge was minuscule to what we know today it was prevalent in society for fast talkers to make a buck.

Ask yourself:  Is this something God would do or say?  If not, dismiss it immediately as the devil.

End Note:  This lesson did take two days for me.  Break it up.  Looking up all the passages takes some time.

BSF Study Questions Revelation Lesson 1, Day 2

Summary of passages:  Various passages for the day.

Questions:

3)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Visit psychics, witchcraft.  From the past we picture rituals such as reading the entrails of animals, cauldrons and potions, the heavens, stars, sun, and moon, and crystal balls.  In fantasy we see “seers” scrying the future, vampires with the gift of sight (Twilight, anyone?), oracle at Delphi, clairvoyants, and of course Nostradamus.  Tarot cards, ESP, dreams, and palm reading.  You name it, it’s been done in the millennia humans have walked this planet.

4)  Prophecy is from God carried along by the Holy Spirit.  Man has nothing to do with prophecy. Because what God says will happen, will happen. What man says will happen, will not.  God is in control, not man.  We can only be certain of prophecy if it’s from God.

5)  Part Personal Question.  My answer:  The foretelling of the future does two things:  1) increases our faith in God  2) reveals God to be true.  When future events come true that were predicted ahead of time, it results in belief and conversion.  God wants believers to be stronger in faith and He wants unbelievers to believe.  When we see prophecy come to pass, our faith is strengthened and we become witnesses to others.

Conclusions:  I am excited that we are not diving right into Revelation, but this day didn’t do it for me.  In modern times, most of us are aware of the quacks out there.  Most of us don’t believe those who claim to predict the future.  Most of us know the future is unknown except by God.  However, the point BSF is making here is good:  God is the only one who does know the future and we can trust in Him when what He says comes to pass.

BSF Study Questions The Life of Moses Lesson 1, Day 4: Exodus 1:22-2:10

Summary of passage:  Pharaoh orders all his people to kill newborn Hebrew boys.  A Levite woman gave birth to a boy and hid him for 3 months.  Then she put him in a basket and set him among the reeds of the Nile.  Pharaoh’s daughter went to bathe along the river bank and found the baby.  It was crying and she felt sorry for it so she had a Hebrew woman (the baby’s mother) nurse him until he was old enough to live with her as her son.  She named him Moses, which means “draw out.”

Questions:

9)  Amrad was the father.  Mother was Jochebed.  Aaron was Moses’ brother.  His sister was Miriam.

10a)  By faith in God and they were not afraid of Pharaoh’s edict.

b)  Genesis 15:13-16 where God says they will be enslaved but then he will punish the enslavers and reward them with great possessions and the Promised Land once more.

Genesis 12:2-2 where God promises Abraham he will make him into a great nation and bless him and curse those who curse him.

Abraham’s covenant with God in Genesis 15 where God promises Abraham to be his shield and to multiply his children and give him the Promised Land.

c)  She set Moses adrift when she knew the Pharaoh’s daughter was to be at the Nile for her bath.  She stayed nearby so that she would be there when they went to search out a wet nurse.  She had faith that God would move Pharaoh’s daughter’s heart and she would take him in.  She also had the faith to let Moses go and as a mother this is very difficult–to have faith that God will raise your child.

d)  God allowed her to nurse her child and be with him for a while longer and he allowed Moses to live.  He also provided financially for Moses’ parents since she was paid to take care of her own son!

e)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Any job I’ve applied for recently.  I trust God that if it is meant to be, it will be.  Otherwise, it won’t be.  I plan for it.  I try hard to get it.  But my world doesn’t end when I don’t get it for it is God’s plan not to get it.

Conclusions:  Love how God’s plan is greater than any human’s.  Pharaoh does everything he can to kill off the Israelites but fails in the end.  I also love God’s irony and humor by placing the leader of the Israelites right under Pharaoh’s nose in the royal palace!  Awesome, isn’t it?

End Notes:  Note that Moses’ parents did obey Pharaoh who said to throw every baby boy in the Nile.  Jochebed did this she just included a basket as well.

God orchestrated this entire scene:  the parents, Moses’ cry, Pharaoh’s daughter.  No doubt it was during Moses’ early years that he learned about the Hebrews and God before he left permanently for Pharaoh’s palace.  In ancient times, children nursed much longer than today because of the general lack of food.  He would have been maybe close to four or five before being returned to Pharaoh’s daughter.  Remember the Egyptians are pagans who worshiped many gods so Moses would have been taught them in school.

Moses would have been raised with every privilege.  Egypt was an advanced society for its time and Moses would have had a stellar education.  Acts 7:22 tells us “Moses was educated in all the wisdom of the Egyptians and was powerful in speech and action.”  He might have been an heir to the Egyptian throne and may have led battles as an Egyptian prince would have.  This we are not told for sure.

BSF Study Questions Matthew Lesson 1, Day 5: Matthew 1:18-25

Summary of passage:  Jesus’ mother, Mary was pledged to marry Joseph but before they got married she became pregnant through the Holy Spirit.  Joseph was going to divorce her until an angle of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and told him that the baby was from God and to not be afraid.  Name him Jesus because he will save his people from sin.

This fulfilled Isaiah’s prophecy (Isaiah 7:14) of a virgin giving birth to a son named Immanuel, “God with us”.  When Joseph awoke he obeyed the angel of the Lord and married Mary but did not sleep with her until she gave birth to Jesus.

Questions:

9a)  Genesis 3:15:  Christ will come from the line of Eve and will crush Satan

Genesis 49:8-12:  The scepter (or the kingship) will not depart from Judah until Christ comes to whom the kingship belongs and al the nations obey him i.e. Christ will come from Judah’s line.

Psalm 2:7:  Here God declares Jesus to be His son.  This whole Psalm is a prophecy of the Messiah.

Isaiah 7:14:  A virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son whose name shall be Immanuel.

Isaiah 9:6-7:  A child will be born and given to us (God’s son) and he will rule and be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace.  He will bring peace to the nations and reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom with justice and righteousness forever.

b)  Isaiah 7:14 in Matthew 1:23:  Isaiah is quoted, saying a virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son called Immanuel or “God with us”.

10a)  Joseph did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  My plan it seems is never God’s plan so I have umpteen examples from my life.  I wouldn’t use the word “prove” though; I’d say “reluctantly followed” with much screaming and kicking along the way!  Seriously, with this whole teaching thing.  I believe it’s God’s will and I’m following it even though I never dreamed as a child I’d be a teacher.  Same with writing.  Same with motherhood.  Same with wifehood.  Etc.

11a)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Well, adultery was punishable by death in ancient times so Mary was putting her life at risk by carrying God’s child.  She would have been scorned, looked down upon, shunned, etc by all her family and friends with a pregnancy out-of-wedlock.

Same for Joseph.  He was probably shunned as well for taking a wife who was pregnant instead of divorcing her.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  The ultimate:  to be Jesus’ parents!  Also, God’s blessing beyond belief.  Eternal life.

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  I don’t like the word “suffer” here because being faithful to God does not always entail suffering nor do I believe you have to suffer for your faith.  Anytime you are called by God and you are faithful you are rewarded either here or there (heaven), either in things you can see or not see.

It’s very difficult to compare what Joseph and Mary went through to what we go through in the US in the twenty-first century as opposed to the first century.  We live in a very tolerate society and even if we do suffer for our faith it’s not usually a life or death suffering.  It’s more of a quality of life type of suffering.

We should all be encouraged and grateful when we compare our lives to Joseph’s and Mary’s.

Conclusions:  Didn’t like 11c if you couldn’t tell and the more I thought about it the more I didn’t like it.  You don’t have to suffer for your faith.  Suffering is in the mind anyways.  If you look upon your life as a blessing, you won’t suffer despite all the hardships for it’s all a gift from Him.  It’s the victim mentality.  You either choose to be a victim.  Or you choose to be blessed.  It’s up to you.

While I love the time period I have been born into and our tolerate society, we have sacrificed morals and values to be so tolerate.  I watched the movie “42” over the weekend which is the Jackie Robinson story.  The coach of Jackie’s team was suspended for one year because he committed adultery.  You’d never see that in today’s society where it seems to be flaunted instead.  Thus, in some respects, I think you can go too far the other way.

Yearly Tip:  I encourage all of you to read the passages before and after.  In this instance, the entire Psalm 2 passage is a prediction of Jesus Christ.  You get a more complete picture reading the entire Psalm than just reading one verse stuck in the middle.

BSF Study Questions Matthew Lesson 1, Day 4: Luke 1:26-38

Summary of passage:  God sent Gabriel to Nazareth in Galilee to Mary, a virgin engaged to Joseph, a son of David.  He tells her she is highly favored by God and that she will give birth to God’s son whom you will call Jesus.  He will be given the throne of David; he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.

Mary wonders how she will have a baby and Gabriel says through the Holy Spirit.  Even her relative Elizabeth will have a baby in her old age because nothing is impossible with God.  Mary says she is the Lord’s servant.

Questions:

7a)  1)  He will be great

2)  He will be called the Son of the most High

3)  The Lord will give him the throne of his father David

4)  He will reign over the house of Jacob forever

5)  His kingdom will never end

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Holy Spirit.  Genesis 1:2 speaks about how the Spirit of God was there in the world from the beginning.  Job says how the Spirit of God has made him and given him life.  John says how the Spirit gives birth to the Spirit.  I connect this as the Spirit is responsible for all living things and since the Spirit lives within us all (the Holy Spirit in believers), the Spirit was responsible for Jesus’ birth.

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  God is in control of my life and He rules over all.  I need not worry for it is all in His hands no matter what happens in my little life.

8a)  She unequivocally accepted God’s will in her life despite the hardships she knew she’d face being pregnant before marriage.  She didn’t question.  She humbly submitted to God’s will in her life.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  We are being forced to move because our landlord sold our rental.  We didn’t want to move at all and have no idea where we will end up, but I am trying to accept it as God’s will and that He has something better in store for us.  I am also trying to accept His will in my life in terms of a job.

Conclusions:  I see this as a trend probably this year that we will be continually comparing Matthew with the other gospels when the passages are parallel in order to glean more insight into Jesus’ life.  Normally, I protest this but I think this will deepen the study and is a great way to study the passages of Matthew.

I also see a lot of personal questions right off the bat.  I’m assuming this will continue as well.

Fun Facts:  This is the first mention of Nazareth in the Old or New Testaments (it was unmentioned in the Old Testament).

Mary is the Greek name for Miriam (Moses’ sister), which means “exalted one.”

Many cultures (in fact, most) have myths that have gods having children with humans. But only in Christianity is there a virgin birth.