BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 13, Day 5: Hebrews 13

Summary of passage:  Love each others as brothers and do not forget strangers. Remember prisoners and others who are suffering.  Keep the marriage bed pure.  Be content with what you have and be free from the love of money.  Remember the leaders who spoke of God and imitate their faith as Jesus is the same forever.

Be strengthened by grace and do not listen to strange teachings.  Jesus made the people holy through his blood.  Keep your goal as the eternal city and do not be afraid to be disgraced.  Continually praise God and share with others.

Obey your leaders as they must give an account so their work may be a joy and not a burden.  Pray for them.

May God equip you with everything you need to do His will and may He work in us for what is pleasing to him.

Grace to all.

Questions:

14)  Personal Question:

a)  Love each other as brothers; entertain strangers; remember those in prison and those suffering as if you were as well

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you and act out of love,

b)  Keep marriage pure.  Don’t cheat.

c)  Be happy and grateful for what you have and free from the love of money.  Remember your blessings and thank God every day you are alive.

d)  Remember your leaders and imitate their faith; don’t believe everything you hear and remember God’s grace.  I take this as imitate Jesus because many of our leaders are flawed humans.

e)  Always have the eternal kingdom in mind so we can endure disgrace if called.  Remember our rewards; nothing else matters.

f)  Continually praise Jesus for all you have and do good to others and be giving.  Give to others out of love and in Jesus’ name as he would do.

15a)  Leaders who must give an account (elected) and who are God-given.

b)  Pray for them.  Express your disapproval (this can be either verbally or supporting another candidate or leaving your church if it’s a church leader) but do not judge.  Find another leader who is more accountable for his actions.  Pray to God for guidance and then follow His lead.

Conclusions:  I didn’t know I’d get to study the whole book of Hebrews along with the Book of Acts.  This was a very pleasant surprise.

I like the simplicity of this chapter.  It’s concrete and gives us some excellent advice and action steps to apply the rest of the book of Hebrews.

Question 15 is hard to interpret because the leaders of their day were the church officials but also the sometimes brutal dictatorship of the Roman Empire.  Nowadays, we elect ours and they are much more accountable.  Nevertheless they are God-appointed and are serving His purpose even if we cannot see it or don’t believe it.  Everything works together for my good.

BSF Study Questions Isaiah Lesson 18, Day 3 Isaiah 41:5-10

Summary of passage: When the people met with God, they trembled in fear.  They turned to one another and told each other to “Be strong.”  They made idols together, ones that cannot stand on their own.  God explains that Israel is His chosen people.  They are descendants of Abraham, His friend.  He called them from the ends of the earth to be his servant.  “So do not fear, for I am with you.”  I will strengthen you, help you, and uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Questions:

6a) They trembled in fear and turned to one another instead of to God.  They got together and made idols.

b) Similarly.  People turn to whatever is immediate comfort instead of to God’s word: alcohol, drugs, sex, shopping, food, and one another.  Whatever to numb the pain and get a high.

7a) There were enemies on the road (Ezra 8:22).  The city was destroyed when they returned.  As soon as the temple began to be re-built, the surrounding neighboring countries felt threatened again and managed to stop the process (Ezra 4).  There was foreigners already living there.  Intermarriage was a huge threat (Ezra 9:1-4).  This was against God’s law (Deuteronomy 7:3-6) and Ezra saw it as a huge threat.  He prayed to God and the people repented (Ezra 10).  Mainly, expectations exceeded reality.  Re-building after war is not instantaneous.  The people would have to rely on God for many generations to come.  It’s a long road ahead.

b) Israel is God’s chosen people.  They are descendants of Abraham, God’s friend.  They are God’s servants.  He chose them.  God promises He is with them, will strengthen them, and uphold them in His hand.  For me, knowing God is with me always and He will help.

c) Most people say everything will be okay.  It’s just a phase or temporary.  God says, “Do not fear for I am with you.”  Much more powerful.  Inherently, when others comfort, this is what they mean but they just don’t say it.

8 ) The right hand is usually the dominant and the strongest for most people.

Psalm 44:3  “It was not by the sword that they won the land, nor did their arm bring them victory; it was your right hand, your arm, and the light of your face, for you loved them.”

Exodus 15:6  “Your right hand, O Lord, was majestic in power.  Your right hand, O Lord, shattered the enemy.”

Here, the right hand symbolizes God’s intense love and faith for us.  He is offering us his best when He upholds us in His hand.

God’s righteous right hand is also Jesus who sits at God’s right hand.  Hebrews 12:2  “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

“The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word.  After he had provided purification for our sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.”  Hebrews 1:3

Since Jesus is love, God’s hands are love.

Conclusions:  I love how everything here is interconnected.  Lesson 17 emphasizes the importance of comfort.  Lesson 18 seems to be about our fears (and hence we need comfort).  Of course, it’s all about God. How we have no need to fear because of His comfort.

But, as always, we are human.  We have to have things repeated over and over again and pounded into us for it to stick.  For me, I need to be told constantly I am one of God’s people, chosen by Him, and thus sitting in His righteous right hand.  Fear, led by the Devil, creeps in and tries to push God out.  I need to hear God’s words of comfort, “Do not fear for I am with you.”  I hold you in my righteous right hand–the same hand where Jesus sits!  How amazing is that!

Great re-iteration of God’s almighty presence in our lives.

End Note: Ezra headed the second wave of returning exiles from Babylon.  He was a scribe, a descendant of a priest.  He was in a leadership role, teaching the people God’s word.

I found this site helpful in understanding the exile:

http://www.myjewishlearning.com/texts/Bible/Writings/Ezra_and_Nehemiah.shtml

BSF Study Questions Isaiah Lesson 16, Day 3 Isaiah 40:3-5

Summary of passage:  Isaiah as the Lord’s messenger calls the people to prepare the way for the Lord by raising up the valleys, leveling mountains, smoothing out the rough ground so the road is straight so the glory of the Lord can be revealed and all mankind can see it.

Questions:

5) To prepare the way for the Lord and remove every obstacle in His path (raise up the valleys, level mountains, smooth out rough roads so they are straight) so the glory of the Lord will be revealed and all mankind will see it.  Prepare our hearts as well for Him.

6) Both John the Baptist and John were baptizing people in these passages, the ultimate sign of accepting Jesus Christ as your Savior.  So, they were preparing the people (their hearts, minds, and souls) for Jesus’ coming.  John the Baptist wore clothes made from camel hair and ate locusts.  We all must prepare for God in mind, body, and soul.

7a) Exodus 24:17  a consuming fire on top of the mountain

Luke 2:9  an angel

Matthew 17:1-8  Jesus was transfigured.  His face shone like the Sun and his clothes were white

Hebrews 1:3  The Son is the radiance of God’s glory

b)  2 Corinthians 3:7-18  Verse 18 “And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”

If we accept Jesus, we are the glory of the Lord.  We see God’s glory all around us as we live out His words.

Conclusions:  I love how BSF takes a topic (here, the Glory of God) and makes us really think about it where as otherwise it just passes through our minds like any other words spoken.

I looked up glory in the dictionary and got a myriad of responses:  giving someone glory (praise, honor, or worship); a distinguished quality or asset; great beauty, magnificence; the splendor and beatific happiness of heaven.

As we’ve learned, no mortal can look fully on God because of his glory.  Moses only saw his back.  Isaiah saw the Lord on His throne with seraphs flying around Him, praising Him.  God hovered in clouds above the people.

Then, God sent His son, Jesus, who if you think about it was the glory of God incarnate, walking amongst us and throngs of people wanted a touch of just his clothing.  Then Jesus was transfigured by God with divine radiance.

I quoted 2 Corinthians 3 where we all reflect God’s glory since we are part of God’s creations.  People believe you can see God’s glory in Nature all around us.  The wonderment of how it all works around us and we have no control of it.  God’s glory in the Heavens, the stars, the moon, the Sun.  Everywhere you look really.  Since God created it all (for his pleasure and perhaps for his glory) you can say the glory of God is all around us.

I like to believe we all carry a bit of God in us–in our very souls–the part that makes us good instead of falling into our inherent tendencies of evil.  So, we are God’s glory.  He takes pleasure in us in that sense.

Nature too is an absolute miracle and when you’re watching a sunrise over the Pacific Ocean or examining the perfect uniqueness of a snowflake, who can’t help but think it’s all God’s glory?

I’d love to hear your opinions on the glory of God, where He dwells, and how it can be seen.