BSF Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1: Lesson 10, Day 5: 1 Samuel 17:33-58

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Summary 1 Samuel 17:33-58:

Saul tells David he’s only a boy; he can’t go and fight Goliath. David says he has killed bears and lions in defense of his sheep, and God will deliver him from this Philistine like he delivered him before. Saul dressed David in his armor, but David took off the armor because he wasn’t used to them. All he took was a staff and 5 smooth stones.

Goliath approached David with his shield bearer in front of him. Seeing he was only a boy, he taunted him. David responded by saying he comes against him in the name of the Lord Almighty and he will defeat him in God’s name, showing all gathered that the battle is the Lord’s. They approached each other, and David struck with a stone and hit Goliath between the eyes, felling him.

David cut off Goliath’s head with Goliath’s own sword. The Philistines ran when they saw Goliath fall and the Israelites chased them, cutting them down. The Israelites took their plunder and David took Goliath’s head to Jerusalem and kept Goliath’s weapons.

BSF Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1: Lesson 10, Day 5: 1 Samuel 17:14-23:

13) God protected David as he fought off lions or bear who were coming after his sheep. God also has anointed David and brought him to help Saul with his music. God has been faithful throughout David’s life, so why wouldn’t God be faithful now? David knows he will win cause God will win. It’s encouraging because God always wins and uses people and situations for your good.

14) David knew the Lord would deliver him, so he said so. By not taking any weapons of steel into the battle, David shows his utter reliance on God to use the stones to overcome. David gives God all the credit and knows it is God fighting the battle — he is only the instrument.

15) Personal Question. My answer: Same thing. Step out in faith every day in God’s plan for my life and give Him all the credit.

16)

  • Both David and Jesus represented their people. Whatever happened to the representative also happened to God’s people.
  • Both David and Jesus fought the battle on ground that rightfully belonged to God’s people, ground they had lost.
  • Both David and Jesus fought when their enemy was able to dominate the people of God through fear and intimidation alone.
  • Both David and Jesus were sent to the battleground by their father (1 Samuel 17:17).
  • Both David and Jesus were scorned and rejected by their brethren.
  • Both David and Jesus fought the battle without concern with human strategies or conventional wisdom.
  • Both David and Jesus won the battle but saw that their enemies did not give up willingly.
  • Both David and Jesus fought a battle where victory was assured even before the battle started.

Conclusions: BSF Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1 Lesson 10, Day 5: 1 Samuel 17:33-58:

David’s confidence is what stands out here. He knows God is with him, and he knows God will do it all. He doesn’t let the fact that he’s young stop him. He doesn’t use the armor and weapons provided because he knows he doesn’t need any of that. He knows God will overcome, and he acts on this knowledge. A great lesson for us all!

For a cute, short kids video on David and Goliath, click below

End Notes BSF Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1 Lesson 10, Day 5: 1 Samuel 17:33-58:

God had been preparing David his whole life for this moment. With every defeat of lion and bear, David grew more confident with God. God often calls us to be faithful right where we are and then uses our faithfulness to accomplish greater things. In the midst of our preparation we rarely see how God will use it.

Saul only saw the outside: a small inexperienced boy; he did not see David’s heart of God.

David increases in boldness as the story progresses. First, he said someone should fight Goliath for a righteous cause (1 Samuel 17:2629). Then he said he would fight Goliath (1 Samuel 17:32). Now he says he will kill Goliath.

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Lessons Learned from David’s Confidence with Goliath

  • God often calls us to be faithful right where we are and then uses our faithfulness to accomplish greater things.
  • In the midst of our preparation we rarely see how God will use it.
  • David knew that God’s help in times past is a prophecy of His help in the future.

Saul, still seeing the practical tactics, offers David his armor. Saul’s armor does not fit David physically nor spiritually.

Why 5 Stones to defeat Goliath?

  • David only needed one stone to kill Goliath. Some suggest because Goliath had four relatives who were also giants, whom David and his associates later killed (2 Samuel 21:18-22).
  • Always have a back up plan. God is true, but God does not work always on the first try.

David followed through on his words. He went to battle.

Goliath had to look around to even see David, he was so small compared to Goliath. When Goliath did see David, he was insulted. The Hebrew word for dog (kaleb) is used in passages like Deuteronomy 23:18 for male homosexual prostitutes. Goliath felt that sending David was an insult to his manhood.

God is the only weapon David needs.

David responds, confident God is the only weapon he needs. We can imagine Goliath’s deep, deep, bass voice reverberating against the tall hills surrounding the Valley of Elah. The sound struck fear into the heart of every Israelite soldier, and probably even some of the Philistine soldiers! Then David answered with his teen-age voice, perhaps even with his voice cracking. The Philistines laughed when they heard David practically screaming in his cracking voice and the Israelites were both horrified and embarrassed.

This battle was for the fame and glory of God alone, which David makes sure to emphasize in his every word. He never uses the word “my” or “I”. It is God’s battle, and he stands for all of Israel. This battle will prove to all (including the Israelites) that God is the ruler of all and can give victory without sword or spear.

Image result for 1 samuel 17David runs out to meet Goliath. He doesn’t stop and pray. He doesn’t run. He doesn’t hesitate. God does it all, but we take action as well.

While a shepherd, David talked to God and took a lot of target practice with his sling. Now his communion with the LORD and his skill with the sling are both used by God. Bible scholar Clarke says, “In the use of the sling it requires much practice to hit the mark; but when once this dexterity is acquired, the sling is nearly as fatal as the musket or bow.”

What does David see that no one else sees in Goliath?

  • Everyone else thought, “Goliath is so big, I can’t beat him.” David thought, “Goliath is so big, I can’t miss him.”

Just as the Philistine god Dagon fell on his face before the LORD (1 Samuel 5:2-5), so now the worshipper of Dagon, Goliath, falls on his face.

God loves to use the weapons of  Satan against him (David using Goliath’s sword to cut his head off).

The Philistines agreed to surrender to Israel if their champion lost (1 Samuel 17:9). We should never expect the devil to live up to his promises. But the soldiers of Israel pursued and defeated the Philistines. David’s example gave them great courage and faith in the LORD.

Since it was many years later that Jerusalem was conquered (2 Samuel 5:6-10), this likely means David eventually brought Goliath’s head to Jerusalem. But David will use the sword of Goliath later (1 Samuel 21:9). David had some enduring reminders of God’s great work.

Bible scholars are unsure if Saul recognized David or not.

  • Some think David played behind a screen or a curtain for Saul so Saul never saw his face.
  • Others think because of the distressing spirit, Saul was not entirely in his right mind.
  • We also know David did not spend all his time at the palace but went home to tend sheep (1 Samuel 17:15). It’s possible David’s appearance changed during a time when he was away from Saul, so Saul didn’t immediately recognize him.
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BSF Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1: Lesson 6, Day 2: Ruth 1

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Summary of Passage:

A famine forced the family of Elimelech, an Ephrathite from Bethlehem, to settle in Moab, a neighboring, unbelieving country. Elimelech died, leaving his wife, Naomi, a widow with their two sons, Mahlon and Kilion. Mahlon and Kilion marry, but ten years later, both Mahlon and Kilion die, leaving all without someone to support the family.Image result for ruth 1

The famine had ended so Naomi sets out with her two daughters-in-law named Orpah and Ruth back to Judah. Naomi tells her daughters-in-law, both of whom are Moabites, to return to their families and remarry, so they can be cared for.

Both protest, but Orpah goes. Ruth, however, refuses to leave Naomi’s side. Ruth loved Naomi too much to leave, so they returned to Bethlehem with Naomi being very bitter over her situation. Luckily for them, the barley harvest was just beginning.

BSF Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1: Lesson 6, Day 2: Ruth 1:

3)  Elimelech died, leaving his wife and two sons alone. Her two sons married eventually, but then they died as well. Everyone died except Ruth and the daughters-in-law.

4) Ruth gave up a chance to remarry a Moabite and have children and restart her life. Ruth gave up her land and her gods and all that she knew. I’m not sure Ruth thought about her gains. Moab and Israel were bitter enemies, so Ruth is taking a big risk immigrating to a land where the people may treat her as a despised foreigner. All she knew was she wanted to be with Naomi no matter what and she wanted to be God’s child. She gained a life in God.

5) Personal Question. My answer: It’s easy to get pulled down in the muck of misfortune. Anger, depression, sorrow, grief, heartache, and an overwhelming sadness are human emotions we all face and all must deal with. These emotions do pull us down and affect everything we do including family and decisions. I’ve been very fortunate as I haven’t been through misfortune like others (I’ve had my difficulties but not compared to basic survival needs like how I’ll eat, slavery, torture, back-breaking hard work, etc. like others in this world). My view of God has stayed the same. I question Him and ask Him why, but I don’t doubt Him and turn away from Him. I know it’s all for a reason and if I stay the course (His course), He will never lead me astray.

Conclusions: BSF Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1 Lesson 6, Day 2: Ruth 1:

Such a powerful story of love and pushing through the heartache to still see God in the clearing. Death caused by man’s sin is never easy to abide, but it’s a fact of life and fighting it only creates more misery. I love how Naomi and Ruth stick together in their heartache. Both are grieving severely, but man, created to be together and not apart, is stronger together and both women are stronger as one unit than separately. God is good to give us this story and encourage us when we face the same situation in our lives. Through it all God is there. And He has a plan. Believe in Him.

Read my original posting on Ruth HERE

Amazing video on the entire book of Ruth HERE

End Notes BSF Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1 Lesson 6, Day 2: Ruth 1:

This account begins in the closing days of the Judges, a 400-year period of general anarchy and oppression when the Israelites were not ruled by kings, but by periodic deliverers whom God raised up when the nation sought Him again.

Notable among the Judges were Gideon, Samson, and Deborah. Each of these was raised up by God, not to rule as kings, but to lead Israel during a specific challenge, and then to go back to obscurity.

The days when the Judges ruled were actually dark days for Israel; the period was characterized by the phrase everyone did what was right in his own eyes (Judges 17:618:119:1, and 21:25).

Elimelech and his family had to hike through the desolate Jericho pass, through the Judean wilderness near the Dead Sea, going across the Jordan River, into the land of Moab. This was a definite departure from the Promised Land of Israel, and a return towards the wilderness from which God had delivered Israel hundreds of years before. These were clearly steps in the wrong direction.

God specifically promised there would always be plenty in the land if Israel was obedient. Therefore, a famine in the land meant that Israel, as a nation, was not obedient unto the LORD (Deuteronomy 11:13-17).

Elimelech has intentions to return to Bethlehem, but it turned into ten, tragedy-filled years – and Elimelech never returned to Israel. The name Elimelech means “God is king” – but he didn’t really live as if God was his king.

Life was not easier in Moab.  Elimelech soon died, leaving his wife Naomi a widow with two boys, Mahlon and Chilion, to care for.

Was Elimelech’s death God’s judgment?

It is hard to say that this was the direct hand of God’s judgment. Why bad things happen to good people is a hard questions to answer. What is certain, however, is that the change of scenery didn’t make things better.

We sometimes think we can run away from our problems, but find our problems follow us. That’s because you can’t escape you–fallible, imperfect sinner.

Mahlon and Chilion took wives among the Moabite women, named Orpah and Ruth. Again, this was not in obedience to God; God commanded the Israelites to not marry among the pagan nations surrounding them.

Ten years pass and both the sons die, leaving all the women widows. To be a childless widow was to be among the lowest, most disadvantaged classes in the ancient world. There was no one to support you, and you had to live on the generosity of strangers. Naomi had no family in Moab, and no one else to help her. Indeed, these were desperate times.

Why was Naomi deciding to return to Bethlehem significant?

From distant Moab, Naomi heard that God was doing good things back in Israel. She wanted to be part of the good things that God was doing.

Our life with God should make others want to come back to the LORD just by looking at our life. Our walk with the LORD should be something that makes others say, “I want some of that also!”

Naomi took action. Many hear of the good things God is doing in the lives of others, and only wish they could have some of it – instead of actually setting out to receive it. Naomi could have stayed in Moab all of her life wishing things were different, but she did something to receive what God had to give her. She took action. Where do you need to take action today?

By telling the Moabite women to go back to their families this was the best thing for the two women. Their families would care for them. She blessed them and prayed they would remarry.

Deal kindly is the ancient Hebrew word hesed. “Hesed encompasses deeds of mercy performed by a more powerful party for the benefit of the weaker one.” (Huey)

In Ruth 1:9, Naomi described marriage as a place of rest: The LORD grant that you may find rest, each in the house of her husband. God intends that each marriage be a place and source of rest, peace, and refreshment in life.

From the crying going on, it is obvious the women had grown to love one another.

According to the laws of ancient Israel, if a young woman was left widowed, without having had a son, then one of her deceased husband’s brothers was responsible for being a “surrogate father” and providing her with a son. Naomi here says that she has no other sons to give either Orpah or Ruth.

Naomi realizes their sin

Naomi realizes their disobedience and says their calamity is of their own making. They were disobedient,  leaving the Promised Land of Israel and marrying their sons to Moabite women.

However, Naomi is returning to God; she’s not running away. She was not bitter against God. She is drawing closer to Him, not going further away from Him.

Naomi didn’t accuse God of doing something wrong against her. She acknowledged His total control over all circumstances. It was actually an expression of trust in Him.

What does Naomi’s return to Israel teach us?

  • If we will return to Him, His hand will go out for us again! Naomi had no idea – not the slightest – of how greatly God was going to bless her in a short time.
  • Ruth’s declaration to follow God is made upon seeing Naomi’s action to return to Him. Actions do speak louder than words.

Ruth forsakes her gods for Naomi’s God.

People should be able to look at your life, just as Ruth looked at Naomi’s, and say “I want your God to be my God.” Your trust in God and turning towards Him in tough times will often be the thing that draws others to the LORD.

The Long Walk Home

Image result for ruth 1It was a long walk from Moab to Bethlehem, and the trip was mostly uphill. We can imagine along the way Ruth asking her mother-in-law Naomi all about the God of Israel and the land of Israel.

Bethlehem was just a village with probably a hundred or so people; everyone in the village would have known everyone else and remembered those who had left years ago.

The name Naomi means “pleasant”; the name Mara means “bitter.” Naomi used this to tell the people of Bethlehem that her time away from Israel, her time away from the God of Israel, had not been pleasant – it was bitter.

Naomi wasn’t ones of those who says “fine” when asked how she’s doing. She’s not going to pretend all is right in her world. She tells it like it is.

So many of us pretend life is find instead of dealing with our problems. We run away instead of draw close.

Naomi was not bitter against the LORD. She knew the answer to her problems lay in getting right with God.

Themes of Book of Ruth

  • The answer to our problems lies in turning towards God, not running away from Him.
  • It all begins with one decision: to go back to God. So many blessings come from that decision (the Lord Jesus whose relative is Naomi) that you don’t know about.
  • God blesses those who turn towards Him.

BSF Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1: Lesson 5, Day 2: Joshua 22

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Summary Joshua 22:

The eastern tribe that had before been asked to help the Israelites conquer the Promised Land on the western side of the River Jordan are now released from their service and able to return home. Joshua left them departing words of advice that we all need: “keep the commandment and the law that Moses the servant of the Lord gave you on the other side of the Jordan: to love the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to obey his commands, to hold fast to him and to serve him with all your heart and all your soul.”

Joshua blessed the men and sent them away—but not empty handed. They had their share of the plunder from their enemies and were to share it.

On the way home, the Israelites built an “imposing altar” to God. Well, the rest of the Israelites took this as a sign they were turning from God so they sent representatives to see what was going on. They were afraid God’s wrath would fall upon them (like it did with Achan) and they would all suffer for this rebellion.

The Eastern Israelites explained this altar was indeed an altar to God—a witness altar—that witnesses they are indeed God’s people for the Easterners were afraid the Westerners would one day exclude them from God since they were on the Eastern side of the Jordan River. Appeased, the Western Israelites returned home happy.

BSF Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1: Lesson 5, Day 2: Joshua 22:

3)  Joshua told them they had done all Moses had commanded them to do, and they had done all he had asked them to do left them departing words of advice that we all need: “keep the commandment and the law that Moses the servant of the Lord gave you on the other side of the Jordan: to love the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to obey his commands, to hold fast to him and to serve him with all your heart and all your soul.

4) They were afraid God’s wrath would fall upon them (like it did with Achan and Peor), and they would all suffer (or perhaps be killed as well) for this rebellion.

The Eastern Israelites explained this altar was indeed an altar to God—a witness altar—that they are indeed God’s people for the Easterners were afraid the Westerners would one day exclude them from God since they were on the Eastern side of the Jordan River.

Deuteronomy tells us the Lord commanded the Israelites to only sacrifice burnt offerings at the place he commands as well as Leviticus 17:8-9.

5) Personal Question. My answer: Make sure you have all the facts first before accusing others of wrong-doing. Often, we don’t understand the situation or the other person’s side, and we get ourselves into trouble when we shouldn’t. We should confront with God’s heart, with a willingness to help, and with a clear idea of what God would want out of the situation. Come with an open mind.

Conclusions: BSF Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1 Lesson 5, Day 2: Joshua 22:

How frequently this happens in our lives when something simple blows up into something big—all because we didn’t have all the facts, and we didn’t take the time to discover all the facts. Many a relationship has been hurt and impacted by being falsely accused of something without a chance to explain ourselves. Great Biblical example of dealing with confrontation and misunderstandings.

End Notes BSF Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1 Lesson 5, Day 2: Joshua 22:

The Eastern tribes had fulfilled their obligation and helped the Israelites take the Western side of the Promised Land. Now it was time to return home. Joshua tells them what he tells all the Israelites all the time: Keep the commandments and the law, love God, follow God, obey God, and serve God. He then blesses them. The Eastern tribes left with riches and probably with a bit of sorrow to leave their brothers.

Before crossing the Jordan, the men build an altar, which was a place of sacrifice. When the other Israelites heard an altar had been built, they immediately gather arms to go and purge this scourge from the nation. There is no discussion, only action. They were going to fight to defend God’s holiness.Image result for joshua 22

Phinehas led the group because he had the authority as High Priest over the whole nation. The Israelites thought that the altar at the Jordan represented a rival place of sacrifice and worship, to compete with God’s tabernacle, presently at Shiloh.

Why the misunderstanding?

God had clearly commanded that there was one place of sacrifice and burnt offerings for Israel: Also you shall say to them: Whatever man of the house of Israel, or of the strangers who dwell among you, who offers a burnt offering or sacrifice, and does not bring it to the door of the tabernacle of meeting, to offer it to the LORD, that man shall be cut off from among his people. (Leviticus 17:8-9)

What lessons do we learn from this misunderstanding amongst the Israelites?

ii. We understand from this that we cannot worship God any way we please, or justify a manner of worship just because we like it. First and always, our worship must be pleasing to God. We must worship Him in spiritand in truth. (John 4:24)

The reference to Peor was an example of when Israel had been punished for rebellion against God before. Peor was when Israel’s men had sex with Moabite women, and they gave themselves over to the worship of the Moabite gods. In judgment, God sent a plague that killed 24,000 people.

Phinehas was the one who stopped the plague by making a dramatic stand for righteousness in the midst of gross sin.

Just like Achan, Phinehas knew that the sin of these tribes would reflect on the whole nation. He knew that no one really sins unto himself.

Phinehas offers the returning Israelites to come to their land to avoid sin. This would have been a great sacrifice of land for the eastern side of the Jordan, but all that mattered was eradicating sin.

Who among us are willing to sacrifice to help others? We tell people to stop sinning, but are not willing to help them if it costs us something.

How does the Eastern Tribes respond when accused of sin?

  1. The eastern tribe go to God first who knows their hearts. He is our refuge when we’re misunderstood.
  2. The eastern tribes put themselves in the shoes of the westerners and can see why they think what they think. We all must try to see the other person’s point of view in misunderstandings.
  3. The eastern tribes then explain themselves and acknowledge once again the western tribes concerns. They wanted to remain connected to their western brethren, and this is how they chose to do so.

The explanation is accepted, and the relationship between the western tribes and the eastern tribes is restored.

What lessons do we learn from this misunderstanding amongst the Israelites?

We cannot worship God any way we please, or justify a manner of worship just because we like it. First and always, our worship must be pleasing to God. We must worship Him in spirit and in truth. (John 4:24)

How to Respond to Misunderstandings with God’s Heart:Image result for altar at geliloth joshua 22

  • Have a concern for God’s holiness.
  • Have the courage to confront in love.
  • Attempt to reconcile before you fight.
  • You are willing to sacrifice to help them; don’t confront unless you are willing to help.
  • You will see the situation from the perspective of the other person.
  • You will believe the best of one another.

BSF Study Questions Romans Lesson 29, Day 2: Romans 16:1-16

Summary of passage:  Paul commends Phoebe to the Christians in Rome and sends individual greetings to others in the Roman church.

Questions:

3)  Such recommendations were important because there was both great legitimate need for this kind of assistance and there were many deceivers who wanted to take advantage of the generosity of Christians.

4)  This list includes prominent women in the church (Phoebe, Priscilla, Junias, Tryphaena, Tryphosa, Persis), common slave names (Amphiatus, Urbanus, Stachys, Apelles) and possibly royalty (the household of Aristobulus–probably the grandson of Herod the Great).  All the social strata is included.  This means Christ came for all!

5)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  Some risked their lives for Paul.  Some went to prison with him.  Some have been a mother to him.  All were hard workers for the Lord.  For me, too many to list.  Being there to listen to me.  Support me in all I do.  Encourage me.  Opened doors of opportunity for me.  Helped me when I needed it.  God works through people all the time–even in the little things.

6)  All really.  They all were risking their lives by being among the first to convert to Christ.  Risk-takers all of them with a heart for God.  Exactly what I want to be.

Conclusions:  Wouldn’t it be cool to have been a name on this list in the Bible for all of posterity?  And to have been mentioned by the great apostle Paul as having helped him?  Pretty cool!

End Notes:  This is a list of Paul’s friends and co-workers, many of whom would be unknown apart from their mention here.  Remember Paul has not yet visited Rome but a community of Christians already exists there.  Paul was writing from Corinth, where his friends included the city’s director of public works.  At Corinth archaeologists have dug up a block of stone that may refer to this man.  It bears the Latin inscription “Erastus, commissioner of public works, bore the expense of this pavement.”

Phoebe was probably the carrier of this letter to the Romans.  Our sister is a fellow believer.  Deacon is one who serves or ministers in any way.  When church related, it probably refers to a specific office.

Phoebe is the feminine form of a title given to the pagan god Apollo, the title meaning “the bright one.” Christians, on their conversion, seemed to feel no need to change their names even if there was some pagan significance to their name.

Servant is the same word translated deacon in other places. Phoebe seems to be a female deacon in the church, either by formal recognition or through her general service.  Paul gives Phoebe one of the best compliments anyone can give. This sort of practical help is essential in doing the business of the gospel.

Cenchreae was a port located about 6 miles east of Corinth on the Saronic Gulf.  Map of Cenchreae HERE

Priscilla and Aquila were close friends of Paul who worked in the same trade of tentmaking (Acts 18:2-3).  They are now back in the city of Rome.

In a city with a Christian community of any size, there would be several “congregations” meeting in different houses, since there were no “church” buildings at this time. Each house church probably had its own “pastor.”

Epaenetus was apparently among the very first converts of Achaia (where Corinth was and where Paul wrote the letter to the Romans). Epaenetus was also apparently dear to Paul; beloved isn’t a term Paul used cheaply.

Andronicus and Junia: These were apparently Jews (my kinsmen) and were imprisoned for the sake of the gospel (my fellow prisoners). They were well regarded among the apostles, having become Christians even before Paul did (sometime in the first 3 or 4 years after Pentecost).

Of note among the apostles has the idea that Andronicus and Junia are apostles themselves (though not of the twelve), and notable among other apostles. If there ever were women recognized as apostles – in the sense of being special emissaries of God, not in the sense of being of the twelve – this is the strongest Scriptural evidence. It isn’t very strong.

Amplias: There is a tomb dating from the late first or early second century in the earliest Christian catacomb of Rome which bears the name AMPLIAS. Some suggest that this is the same person mentioned in Romans 16:8.

Greet those who are of the household of Aristobulus: The fact that the household of Aristobulus is greeted but not Aristobulus himself made Spurgeon think that Aristobulus was not converted but many in his household were. It made Spurgeon think of the unconverted who live with believers in their house.

Rufus may be the same man mentioned as a son of Simon the Cyrene in Mark 15:21. However, Rufus was a common name so this is merely speculation.

Chosen in the Lord has the idea that Rufus had some eminence among the Christians of Rome. It doesn’t refer to his election in Jesus.

Nereus: In 95 a.d. two distinguished Romans were condemned for being Christians. The husband was executed and the wife was banished. The name of their chief servant was Nereus – this may be the same Nereus mentioned here and he may be the one who brought the gospel to them.

Asyncritus . . . Phlegon . . . Patrobas . . . Hermes: Of the rest of these names, Paul finds something wonderful to say about almost every one of them – noting their labor, his special regard for them (beloved), their standing in the Lord (approved in Christ . . . in the Lord . . . chosen in the Lord).

This is a tremendous example. It shows Paul’s way of casting about uplifting words to build up God’s people. He was generous in paying compliments that were both sincere and wonderful.

The Holy Kiss was a regular part of the worship service in that time.  It is still a practice in some churches today.  See also 1 Corinthians 16:20; 2 Corinthians 13:12; 1 Thessalonians 5:26; 1 Peter 5:14

Luke 7:45 shows how common a greeting a kiss was. Jesus rebukes a Pharisee because he did not give Jesus a kiss when He came into his house.

It seems that this practice was later abused. Clement of Alexandria complained about churches where people made the church resound with kissing, and says that “the shameless use of a kiss occasions foul suspicions the evil reports.”

Those mentioned in verses 14-15 cannot be further identified except they were either slaves or freedmen in the Roman church.

Leon Morris explains that this section demonstrates that the Letter to the Romans “was a letter to real people and, as far as we can see, ordinary people; it was not written to professional theologians.”

Spurgeon says of this passage: “They were like the most of us, commonplace individuals; but they loved the Lord, and therefore as Paul recollected their names he sent them a message of love which has become embalmed in the Holy Scriptures. Do not let us think of the distinguished Christians exclusively so as to forget the rank and file of the Lord’s army. Do not let the eye rest exclusively upon the front rank, but let us love all whom Christ loves; let us value all Christ’s servants. It is better to be God’s dog than to be the devil’s darling.”

Notice the women mentioned in this chapter: Phoebe, Priscilla, Mary, Tryphena, Tryphosa, the mother of Rufus, and Julia. These are women who worked for the Lord.

Notice their work for the Lord: some, like Tryphena and Tryphosa, labored in the Lord. Others, like Persis, labored much for the Lord.  Spurgeon says: “So there are distinctions and degrees in honor among believers, and these are graduated by the scale of service done. It is an honor to labor for Christ, it is a still greater honor to labor much. If, then, any, in joining the Christian church, desire place or position, honor or respect, the way to it is this – labor, and labor much.”

Of the 24 names here, 13 also appear in inscriptions or documents connected with the Emperor’s palace in Rome. We know that there were Christians among Caesar’s household (Philippians 4:22). Paul may be writing many of the servants who worked for Caesar who became Christians.

BSF Study Questions Romans Lesson 21, Day 5: 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:

13)  Renewing of your mind through the power of the Holy Spirit/God.

14)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  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.  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.  Speaking God’s Word into the minds of others when the opportunity arises.  Taking my kids to church and bible study.  Teaching them to put God first in their world.

15)  “his good, pleasing, perfect will.”

“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.

Most people confuse their will with God’s will and justify their will as God’s.  People also use God as a scapegoat for their sinful actions.  Reality is it is hard to know God’s will since we can’t know everything like God does.  But if you know His Word, His character, His heart, and His justice then through prayer He will reveal it.  But if it has anything to do with sin, it’s not God.

16)

John 14:15:  God’s will can be found in loving Him and obeying His commands.

2 Corinthians 10:5:  Take captive your thoughts to make them align to God’s will and obedience to Christ and rid ourselves of arguments and pretensions that is against the Word of God.

1 Thessalonians 4:3-7:  We should live a sanctified/holy life, avoiding sexual immorality, learning to control your own body in a holy way, and not take advantage of others.

James 5:13-16:  One should pray when in trouble, sing when happy, have others pray over you if you’re sick, and confess your sins.  Our prayers are powerful and effective.

1 Peter 2:15:  Do good to silence the ignorance of the foolish.

1 Peter 3:17:  Live as servants of God (verse 16), respect others, love others, fear God, and honor God.

1 Peter 4:1-11:  Live for God’s will, which is being clear-minded and self-controlled so that you can pray, loving each other, offer hospitality to others without grumbling, use your gifts to serve others, speak as if speaking the very words of God, serve with God’s strength so that God is given the glory.

Conclusions:  One of my favorite parts of BSF is when they do send us to other parts of the Bible on certain subjects.  Hence, I loved question 16 because on my own I never would have made these connections.  Yeah, BSF!  I also love 2 Cor 10:5 because it puts the power in our hands.   1 Peter 4:11 is powerful.  Speak as if God were speaking.  Awesome!

All of this shows us how powerful we truly are.  We don’t give ourselves enough credit.  You don’t have to be Martin Luther King, Jr to change the world.  Change those around you and you’ll change the world.  Because then they will change others and the ripple effect will be far more than we’ll ever know.  Live God in you.  Quit worrying about others.  Change yourself.  Change your loved ones.  God will do the rest.

Conclusions to Lesson 21:  This was my favorite lesson so far.  Small verse focus but great questions that re-enforced key ideas we all need to be reminded of.  It all starts with you.  Change yourself first.  Live the life God wants you to live.  Remember others and love others.  Live for Him.  He’ll doe the rest.

End Notes: [Same as Day 2‘s]  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 life 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.

BSF Study Questions Romans Lesson 17, Day 4: Romans 10:5-9

Summary of passage:  Moses described righteousness by the law in terms of works.  But if you confess that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart God raised him from the dead you will be saved.

Questions:

9)  Paul concludes that righteousness is by faith in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior and works has nothing to do with it since the law under Moses is now obsolete with Jesus.

10)  Confess that Jesus is their Lord and believe God raised him from the dead in their heart to cleanse us of our sins and justify us before God.

11)  Personal Question.  My answer:  One must believe in their heart that Jesus is Lord in their life and believe he died, washing away our sins, and God raised him from the dead, granting all eternal salvation.  You must also confess your belief.  Faith is what matters.  Nothing else does.

Conclusions:  Romans is a lot of repetition.  Here, Paul is quoting Moses from the Old Testament and repeating how faith in Christ is the key to salvation, not works.  Remember this section here is not only to the Gentiles and the Romans but to the Jews as well.  Paul is pulling from the Old Testament (what the Jewish people knew by heart) to substantiate his words of faith in Christ as the key to salvation.

End Notes:  The law of Moses said you must do the law completely and perfectly in order to have righteousness by the law.  The law of Jesus says we don’t have to do anything to achieve righteousness.  Instead, we receive righteousness through faith in Jesus.  We believe, we receive.  We don’t have to ascend into heaven or descend into the deep to have it.

In Deuteronomy 30:14 that Paul quotes, the word is God’s word as found in the law.  Paul applies this to the gospel of “the message concerning faith” or “the word of faith” and uses it to be how righteousness if gained by faith not deeds.

Confessing is recognizing and agreeing that Christ is Lord and Savior and that the cross is the only way to salvation.

In first century AD, calling someone “Lord” was taken much more seriously than in modern times because they truly did have lords in that day.

Barclay states:  “If a man called Jesus kurios he was ranking him with the Emperor and with God; he was giving him the supreme place in his life; he was pledging him implicit obedience and reverent worship.”

Wuest, quoting Robertson on Jesus Christ is Lord: “No Jew would do this who had not really trusted Christ, for Kurios in the lxx is used of God. No Gentile would do it who had not ceased worshipping the emperor as Kurios. The word Kurios was and is the touchstone of faith.”

Fun Facts:  This affirmation “Jesus is Lord” is the earliest Christian confession of faith (1 Corinthians 12:3) which served as the equivalent to the Jewish Sherma and was probably used at baptisms.  “Lord” is used over 6000 times in the Septuagint (the pre-Christian Greek translation of the OT) to translate Israel’s God (Yahweh).  It’s clear that Paul, when using this title for Jesus, is affirming that God of Israel was present in Jesus among his people.

Heart–In Biblical terms this is not only emotions and affections but also intellect and will.

Jesus rising from the dead is the crux of Christian doctrine.  If this doesn’t happen, we don’t live nor are we alive now.  This is the central thrust of apostolic preaching (Acts 2:14-40).

You will be saved probably includes final salvation at the end times as well.

You must confess AND believe that what God/Jesus did on the cross is what will save you and cleanse you and make you righteous and justified.

Spurgeon explains the kind of faith you need:  “We believe everything which the Lord Jesus has taught, but we must go a step further, and trust him. It is not even enough to believe in him, as being the Son of God, and the anointed of the Lord; but we must believe on him . . . The faith that saves is not believing certain truths, nor even believing that Jesus is a Savior; but it is resting on him, depending on him, lying with all your weight on Christ as the foundation of your hope. Believe that he can save you; believe that he will save you; at any rate leave the whole matter of your salvation with him in unquestioning confidence. Depend upon him without fear as to your present and eternal salvation. This is the faith which saves the soul.”

We must confess, believe, trust, rely, rest, depend, and embrace God and Jesus.  This is what God wants.  God is all encompassing.  God is everything.

BSF Study Questions Romans Lesson 17, Day 2: Romans 9:30-33

Summary of passage:  Israel has been denied righteousness because they pursued it by works.  The Gentiles were granted righteousness because they had faith.  This is all according to God’s will.

Questions:

3)  Israel tried to earn righteousness by works and were denied.  The Gentiles had faith and were thus granted righteousness by God.

4)  Pursuing righteous behavior is trying to be more like Jesus, obeying God’s calling and His rules.  Only God can grant us righteous standing.  That is, only He can tell us if our behavior is right or wrong and give His stamp of approval or not.  We cannot make ourselves righteous before God.  Faith is what we need to be granted righteousness.  Faith in Jesus Christ as God’s Son and our Savior.  Without faith all you do is meaningless.

5)  A crucified Savior–Jesus Christ.  The fact Jesus died for our sins and his death covers our sins and saves us and thereby accepting this fact you are saved eternally.  Simple concept.  Hard to accept in its simplicity.

Conclusions:  Paul’s conclusion to Chapter 9, saying faith is the way to righteousness, not works, no matter who you are.

End Notes:  Israel missed the Messiah because they refused to come by faith.  The Gentiles found righteousness even though they weren’t necessarily seeking it.  Israel tried to work for the righteousness of God and couldn’t find it.  The Jews tried to justify themselves before God by performing works according to the law of righteousness instead of the righteousness of faith.  The Jews needed to seek righteousness by faith.

Paul does not use God as an excuse here and His right to choose.  Nope.  It’s all on the Israelites; they did not seek it by faith.  This is Paul presenting the problem from the side of human responsibility and not from the side of God’s right to choose.  Both are responsible for Israel’s unsaved state.

Israel was rejected because she failed to obey her own God-given law, which in reality was pointing to Christ.  She disobeyed, pursued the law–not by faith but by works–failing to believe.  Hence, God rejected Israel.

Paul has already shown in Romans that the only possible way to be saved is through faith, not the works of the law; and that this salvation comes only through the work of a crucified Savior – which was a stumbling block to Israel (1 Corinthians 1:22-23).