25 BSF Matthew Week 25, Day 4

Today’s Scriptures

My Daily Journal:

A call to action.  It is used in advertising and sales.  It is used in motivation and investing.  It is a big part of being a responsible, successful result.  If you want something, if you believe something, then take action – do something.  An idea is nothing.  An idea put into action can change the world.

Faith is no different.  If your faith is alive it is on fire in you.  It cannot be contained or constrained.  It is producing heat and steam and it needs to vent out in service to others and praise to God.  But these works are not done as a tally or score.  They don’t earn points.  They aren’t done out of guilt or obligation.  Truly glorious, honorable works are done out of love for God.

And Christ’s expectation of us is so reasonable.  Note what he says of the goats.  They did NONE of these things.  It isn’t a list of all the things they needed to do.  They did nothing.  They sought only themselves.  They knew of the gift of Jesus, laying down His life, but couldn’t be bothered to offer a drink to someone they considered below themselves.

Might they have fed and given drinks to others?  It is possible, but for what purpose?  Was it to win favor with a higher up, a potential client?  Was it to be seen as a “good person”?  Did they need the tax deduction? Then they had already received their reward.  But the acts done for the love of Christ, those are the acts of one who follows the lamb.

My Answers:

10.
a.
On His glorious throne above all nations

b.
All nations, all people of all time – everyone

11.
a.
gave food when hungry, drink when thirsty, invited in stranger, clothed, cared for when sick, visited in prison

b.
Did no do any of these things

12.
a.
When did we see you…?

b.
Romans: seek glory, honor and immortality (seek God) and will have eternal life – do good
James: faith by itself, not accompanied by action, is dead – don’t earn salvation but true faith demands actions
1John: Jesus laid down life for us, we ought to lay down our lives for others – not love with words but with action

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22 BSF Matthew Week 22, Day 3

Today’s Scriptures

My Daily Journal:

People often misunderstand the term “Fear of God.”  I don’t think this means a fear of punishment, viewing God as someone to cower from or to avoid so as not to anger him.  Instead, I think it means fear of disappointing.

I grew up in my father’s home town.  When I went someone, anywhere, the odds were very high that someone there knew my dad and knew I was his son.  My actions, and my mis-deeds, reflected not only on me but on him.  I did not fear so much his anger or punishment, but that I would dishonor or disappoint him by my callous behavior.

I think having that same type of fear of God is important and that it reflect love and honor and respect for our Heavenly Father.  But that is not whom the spiritual leaders in the temple feared.  When Jesus challenged them about John the Baptist, there was nothing in their thought process about God or truth.  It was all about fear of men.

Whom you fear reflects whom you honor and respect.

 

 

My Answers:

5.
a.
show us your qualifications, license, certification, authority – Union card, who died and made you the messiah?

b.
Every day Jesus taught in the temple – teachers of the law and the leaders were trying to kill him

6.
a.
They decided to not believe John the Baptist, the prophets, the prophecies of scriptures

b.
seeing don’t see, hearing don’t hear, hear don’t understand, see, not perceive, calloused heart, blind

7.
a.
Gentiles, tax collectors, prostitutes – others that were considered blatant sinners

b.
The jews, particularly the teachers of the law and pharisees

8.
a.
Said no, but did: Same, drugs, prostitution, open sin.  Said yes, but no: Church going hypocrites

b.
I was the later, but now am the says yes and does

21 BSF Matthew Week 21, Day 3

Today’s Scriptures

My Daily Journal:

It is often helpful to put ourselves into the biblical story.  By immersing ourselves into character, we not only get a deeper sense of the message but we are better able to see how we should apply the truth and change our daily walk.

In the story of the land owner and workers found in Matthew 20, our first inclination is to put ourselves in the position of the worker and Jesus as the land owner.

But, let’s take a different view point.  What if you take on the character of the landowner.  This isn’t a stretch.  Romans 8 says we are heirs with Christ.  Jesus himself refers to his followers as stewards.  What if we are the stewards of this land?  What is the message to us?

I see several:

1. Be relentless in calling others into the harvest.  Jesus said the harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.  How much of that is because we aren’t repeatedly showing up to find people waiting to be called?

2. Give each worker a full measure of God’s word and grace.  Some of the workers were doing a lot of different things with their life before they were convicted to show up at the street corner.  How often do we tend to hold that against them?  The landowner gave the first workers a full measure.  He did not give the later workers any less.

3. Don’t negotiate.  The bible says what the bible says.  How often are we tempted to water it down to fit the views and opinions of others.  We fall into a trap of the world’s view of “fair”.  God is just and He doesn’t hold back His grace.

4. Expect persecution but watch for the joy.  What did the landowner hear about when he passed out the wages?  Did he hear the joy of those called late in the day?  Maybe a little, but it was mostly drowned out by the grumbles of those called early.  It is easy to focus on the grumbling, the persecutions in life, so much so that we sometimes miss the joy.

My Answers:

7.
a.
Eternal life is the denarius – but it isn’t earned nor is more earned by longer work or greater deeds

b.
He calls the workers.  He has the work and the pay.  He provides grace and love and complete reward

c.
They have an entitlement attitude.  They judge themselves based on other men (not a sign of humility) and find themselves more deserving then are upset at rewards given to those who have worked less

d.
At any point I am called to work it is a blessing – Thankful for the reward I am given, not jealous or self-righteous, but be humble

e.
That He would work so hard to call us to work – He doesn’t need us, we need Him, but He pursues us over and over again.

08.4 BSF Matthew Week 8, Day 4

Today’s Scriptures

My Daily Journal:

Hero Worship:  It amazes me how people follow and worship other people.  They have a NASCAR driver they follow.  They can tell the stats of each player on their favorite team.  They invest time watching and discussing singers and actors, turning them into American Idols.

But if these “heroes” do not stand for God, then they are tricks and lies.  If they lead others into temptation, then they are counterfeit heroes.  They are not the real deal.  They are counterfeit.  They are also not just misguided.  If they oppose the one true God, seeking praise for themselves over God, then they are to be avoided.  Deliver us from evil.

My Answers:

9.
a.
13-14: Narrow vs wide gate/broad road.  Narrow to life, wide to destruction
15 False prophets (sheep/wolves) 16 (fruit: grape from thornbush, fig from thistles) 17-18 (tree bearing fruit)

b.
good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.

10.
a.
Do not trust outward appearances, particularly in regard to teachers of faith.  They may “look the part”, but they are a shell containing viciousness

b.
They are not “misguided” they are wicked.  False teaching of the gospel and thus, opposing God, is ranked among worse offenses.  They may have Reverend as a title but that does not mean they are to be revered.  Christ had no issue calling the highest church leaders a brood of vipers.

c.
1. Beware – trickery abounds and what looks good and easy is seldom right
2. Make sure my life and ministry is bearing good fruit from the Spirit within me.  Trust it and the Word of God alone, not my desire for what I want it to say instead.  Guard my heart from evil and watch my words, they cannot be taken back.

06.3 BSF Matthew, Week 6, Day 3

Today’s Scriptures

My Daily Journal:

1. I didn’t know for sure what the word meant so I looked it up: Raca: vain, empty, worthless, only found in Matt. 5:22. The Jews used it as a word of contempt. It is derived from a root meaning “to spit.”

2. I was moved by the 1 John 2:11 passage, “But anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness. They do not know where they are going, because the darkness has blinded them.”

The thought it brought to mind was the realization that anger and hatred that I carry in my are like a dark spot in my eye.  That spot is blacked out and doesn’t absorb any light.  Clearly greed and lust are the same way.

So, I looked up how big of a dark spot would it take to affect my vision.  Literally.  Here is what I learned:  The receptors in our eyes are in an area called the macula.  At the center of the macula is the fovea centralis.  This is the “point of sharpest, most acute visual acuity.”  At the center of the fovea centralis is the foveola.  The closer ones cones are clustered  to this are, the better your vision.  A dark spot in this are, something blocking the cones, would have a significant impact on the ability to see and could cause blindness.  The foveola is about 0.35 mm.  In other words, a little less than half the size of this period.

So, how much anger and hatred can I allow to reside in my heart and in my eye?  This was a good visual for me (no pun intended).

I want to see.  I want to be able to see the world with Jesus’ eyes.

3. I had a whole part on trying to explain Matthew 5:25-26 but I moved it to Day 5

My Answers:

5.
a.
Deut 5:17 (Also Exodus 20:13)

b.
They separated the hands from the heart.  Hatred and desire to murder someone was fine as long as they didn’t physically do it.  They followed the letter of the law but not the intent

6.
Anger and hatred are in me as darkness.  It is impossible to be filled with the light if I have darkness in me.  Even a little darkness is blinding.

7.
Pray, forgive, reconcile if possible – but regardless, take it out of my heart

8.
What can I do to love and save my brother? vs. What can I do to get what is rightfully mine? Cain’s Protection (Gen 4:15) Lamech’s Arrogance (Gen 4:23-24) Eye for eye (Ex 21:23-25)

05.5 BSF Matthew Week 5, Day 5

Today’s Scriptures

My Daily Journal:

These 4 verses could be an entire lesson on their own.  They have been the topic of many a sermon and we could go in lots of directions in discussing them.

We take them for granted today.  Salt is so plentiful we use it by the truckload on our streets.  Light is as easy as flipping a switch.  But that has not always been the case.  Salt was so difficult to mine and so important for food preservation that wars have been fought over it and soldiers were paid with it (our word salary comes from the word salt).  Light was fire which required fuel.

But one of the critical elements is salt and light are simple concepts.  This is direction for the common man.  This is accessible to all of us.  This isn’t a breast plate of jewels, an ephod or tassles.  This is salt and light.  This is stuff everyone uses every day.

And that is part of the message.  This is for every day, not just days of special events or festivals.  This is a daily walk, a daily meal, a daily task.

But it is also not only for us.  In my lesson, I am using the illustration of a lighthouse.  Picture you are a lighthouse operator.  Shining your light attracts bugs (persecution) and it takes energy and effort to keep it burning.  It is tempting to give it a rest – to turn it off every now and then.  But you have no idea what ships at sea are seeing your light and navigating their path through your light.  In the same way, we often don’t see or even know how our reflection of the gospel in our lives is influencing others.  So, which day is the critical day to shine your light?  Every single day!

If we are salt – how can we be salt in the world?  How do we get out of the salt shaker?  The important thing to keep in mind is that we are not called to do this on our own.  We are just salt.  But Christ is the Master Chef.  It is by putting ourselves in His hands that we are used to perfection as a flavoring to the world. Not too much, not too little, just perfectly.  It is by being at His command and use that we preserve and purify.  When He reaches for the salt, we should be at hand and ready.  We should be pure and not diluted.  When He calls your name the correct response is “here I am.”

My Answers:

9.
a.
As a preservative, payment, purifier and flavor enhancer

b.
By staying pure and true to God’s calling.  By not becoming diluted, but showing the good news of the gospel message in words and acts.

c.
Work with children through church in teaching about new bibles, Sunday School, passover/Easter teaching with kids, BSF

d.
It is the difference between being on the bench and being in the game.  It is the difference of sitting in the dark and being in the hands of the master cook.

10.
a.
Light is life, it overcomes darkness, it lights a path, it is a warning, it shows the way home, it warms and comforts, it provides a necessary element to work

b.
Protecting eyes.  Allowing light that is in us to shine to others (not hidden)

11.
transformation through submission.  We are reshaped/remade into

12.
a.
that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven

b.
To show me how I’m hiding the light He has given me and giving me the opportunity and courage to let it shine.

05.4 BSF Matthew Week 5, Day 4

Today’s Scriptures

My Daily Journal:

I am a firm believer in the art of management by catching people doing things right.  I believe that recognizes and rewarding the positives is far more valuable than a constant focus of the opposite.

A few years ago I was a children’s leader for level 2 which would be 3rd and 4th graders.  I had brought stickers and while my co-leader was given the lecture/lesson I was wondering through the children.  As I saw kid’s focused and paying attention I very quietly leaned over and gave them a sticker for their nametag and a quick “thank you for paying such great attention.”

I was doing this and one little guy noticed and immediately stopped shuffling around and started paying attention to my co-leader.  After a few moments I gave him a sticker.  Almost immediately after which he went back to being distracted and a bit of a distraction to others.  Instead of addressing him, I continued what I was doing and soon gave a young lady sitting next to him a second sticker with another thank you because she was continuing to stay focused.  The little boy immediately snapped his face up and me and said, “wait… we can get more than one?”

I think we often approach the rewards of God the same way.  We are saved and confident of our place in heaven so we can go back to the distractions of this world.  But God’s rewards are infinite and not limited to “just one.”

Do you think you will receive God’s reward should not be a yes/no question.  How much treasure do you want to store up in heaven to be able to lay at the feet of the One who gave it all to you?  How trusted do you want to be?  How much do you want to stand in fellowship with the saints and prophets?

My Answers:

7.
5:12 Rejoice & be glad heaven reward same as prophets

6:3 Do not seek return on acts from men, lose heavenly reward

6:22 Hatred of men, exclusion & insult, rewarded in heaven b/c doing right

19:11 Trustworthy in little things, rewarded with great things

3:8 according to own labor

3:23 according to dilligence

10:35 Confident in heavenly reward

11:6 Faith alone is pleasing to God

8.
a.
bsf matthew week 5, bsf matthew lesson 5, bsf study 5, beatitudes study, beatitudes bible study, what do the beatitudes mean, what are the beatitude, what is a beatitude, thenotesaregood, the notes are good, bsf questions and answers, bsf questions, bsf answers, what does blessed mean, what does it mean to be blessed

b.
This isn’t a black/white, on/off.  I am trustworthy, but could be more trustworthy, I’m confident, but could be moreso, I have faith and every day that I read and pray and spend time with God, it grows

05.3 BSF Matthew Week 5, Day 3

Today’s Scripture

My Daily Journal:

We live upside down lives in an upside down and inside out world.  In so many ways our ways and thoughts are different that God’s.  We think of the bible message as standing the world on its head, but it is the opposite, we are already inverted and pointed the wrong direction from birth – the good news is that God wants to right things and put us back on solid footing.

Few places is this more evident than in the beatitudes.  To demonstrate this, let’s look at each of them in reverse:

Do you want to receive the kingdom of heaven?  Then be poor in spirit.  Don’t hoard it, spend it, pour it out, it is not a collector’s item, it is seed to be planted and tended.

You want to be comforted?  Then mourn.  Come along side the sick, weak, poor, suffering.  Open your heart and compassion and mourn with them.

You want to inherit the earth, to be great among men?  Then be meek.  Serve don’t be served.  Humble yourself.

Do you want to be filled?  Then fast.  Go hungry and thirsty for the sake of righteousness.  Pass on the junk-food of this world for the amazing banquet of the Almighty.

Do you want to be shown mercy? Be merciful

Do you want to see God?  Purify your heart.  (Growing up we would recite Psalm 51:10-12 as part of confession prior to taking communion.)

Do you want to be called a child of God?  Then seek peace (not just the absence of war as in a stalemate or negotiated truce, but actual and lasting peace).  Be a peacemaker not a warrior or diplomat.

Do you really want the kingdom of heaven?  Then put yourself out there in this world for righteousness sake, with the knowledge that you are going to be persecuted.  Be bold.  Do not be ashamed of the gospel.

But all of this was and is the opposite of our thinking.  We think to receive the kingdom of heaven we need to lock ourselves away in study.  Self assurance makes a good leader, not meekness.  We look to avoid mourning and hunger.  We believe in the survival of the strongest; show no mercy; climbing the ladder no matter who gets stepped on.  Peace?  A strong offense is the best defense.

In other words, our ways are not God’s ways.  Our thinking is not God’s thinking.  And, FYI:  Ours is wrong.

My Answers:

5.
The beatitudes are upside down/opposite to man’s thinking: Is 55:19 My ways higher than your, my thoughts that yours, 1 Cor 2:13 not the words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Ghost teaches, 1 Cor 3:19 the wisdom of the world is foolishnes with God 1 Cor 1:18 the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness, but to us it is the power of God

6.
a.
Strong, Content, Proud, Unrighteous, Unmerciful, Stronghearted (self-sufficient), Warriors, Persecutor

b.
Meek, pure in heart, peacemaker – Gives me calling to serve and great joy in that service

05.2 BSF Matthew Week 5, Day 2

Today’s Scriptures

My Daily Journal:

Post Modern Man Thirsts for the Mercy of the Trinit-”P” =  PMMTMPPP = Poor in Spirit, Mourn, Meek, Thirst and Hunger, Merciful, Pure in Heart, Peacemakers, Persecuted.

I loved that the description of these that BSF used was “Eight Characteristics of True Christians.”  Let me contrast that with the description “situation.”

As humans we blame situations and “stuff” a lot.  Stuff happens.  Bad karma (cringe!).  That’s life.  People mourn because something bad has happened.  People are meek because they lack power or strength.  People go hungry because of poverty or strife.

But in this sermon, these are situations or events or s**t that happens.  These are choices.  The one who is poor in spirit is the one who pours out their spirit, spending it for the benefit of others.  The one who mourns is the one who cares and comes along side those in trouble and need.  The one who is meek is the one who willingly lays down their power and bragging rights for the opportunity to lift up others.  The one who hungers and thirst for righteousness puts righteousness above even the most basic level on our human hierarchy of needs. Merciful, Pure in Heart, Peacemaker – all choices.  Persecuted because of Righteousness is the choice we share with the prophets of old, to stand on the Word of God even knowing the human hardship it will bring.

This isn’t a list of “bad things happen to people but God makes everything right in the end”.  This is a list of characteristics.  This is a list of choices.  It is Christ describing His mission and what he is calling His followers to do in kind.  We don’t need to ask WWJD – here’s the playbook.

My Answers:

3.
To receive something special, a gift.  To have some who looks after you and does good for you, as in a benefactor.  To be able to help or care for others with a willing and joyful heart

4.
a.
Poor:
One whose own spirit is spent, depleted or who recognizes their own spirit as insufficient

Mourn:
Sad or broken hearted.  To be moved by loss or grievance to the point ot pain.  To recognize ones own grievances as such.

Meek:
Humble, not boasting, not proud for owns sake

Thirst/Hunger:
One who is permeated by the desire for righteousness: emotionally, spiritually, mentally and physically

Merciful:
To put others before self.  To seek good for others over gain for self.

Pure in Heart:Committed to God and God alone.  To trust only in Him

Peacemakers:
Peace with God through reconciliation, to be ambassadors to others on His behalf and to not discriminate in that work.

Persecuted:
One who is true to righteousness to point of suffering to maintain that position

b.
Post Modern Man Thirsts for the Mercy of the Trinit-”P” =  PMMTMPPP = Poor in Spirit, Mourn, Meek, Thirst and Hunger, Merciful, Pure in Heart, Peacemakers, Persecuted.

c.
They are interlinked.  For me it is to hunger and thirst more for righteousness – there is so much wickedness surrounding us you begin to accept it as the way of the world instead of recognizing it as unrighteousness and offensive to God.

03.3 BSF Matthew: Week 3, Day 3

Today’s Scriptures

My Daily Journal:

My son has recently collected my father-in-law’s faceting equipment with the hope and plan of learning how to cut gemstones.  The process of cutting gemstones really does not involve any “cutting”.  It is much more a process of careful a careful and precise grinding down with finer and finer grits to the point of polishing.

On a microscopic (or at least magnified) view, a rough stone consists entirely of valleys and mountains and rough places.  In the grandness of the universe the scale of our actual mountains is not much different.

Through confession we acknowledge the roughness in our own life.  Through repentance, we allow the work of our Master to grind that roughness away and wash it out of our life.  It is this repeated process African Garnetof confession and repentance – acknowledgement, submission and work of a changed outlook and structure, through which we are transformed.

The beauty in a perfectly faceted gemstone is not the stone itself.  It is the fact that each side and each angle is polished to a perfectly smooth and reflective surface so the light that enters is magnified and reflected back.  In the same way, the work of confession and repentance transforms us into a reflection of the master stone cutter.

My Answers:

4.
a.
Parents both of priestly line, Father served in temple, observed all commands and were blameless, prayed, prophesized by Angel that John would be a Nazarite.  His parents were also obedient (naming him John).  Sent as the prophet to turn hearts

b.
I grew up in a Christian household centered in service.  My mom spent countless time in the nursery carrying for the “smallest of these”  My dad taught bible study, served on councils and committees and always attended and gave joyfully

5.
a.
He called people to repent and change – to live a just life.  He extolled them not to rely on their birthright but to be servants to God.  He rebuked any, including Herod, and was locked in prison

b.
Do not rely on history, be fruitful today.  Be generous and compassionate.  Be fair and honest.  Be just and content.

6.
a.
Baptized with water for repentance, confession of sins, salvation from coming wrath

b.
Confess: to acknowledge wrong deeds, not just mistakes, but insults to God because of disobedience

Repent: to commit to change and living a new/different life

7.
a.
Confession and repentance are are equalizers of people, we all sin and rely on God’s saving work.  Works glorifying to God (charity and honesty and justice and contentment) remove human hierarchies

b.
At times I see myself as more than I am.  At other times my self view is lower than what God sees in me.  I’m a rough stone.  But as God smooths my rough edges through confession and repentance and His grace, I become polished and reflective.

Photo credit: Richard W. Wise, G.G.
Author:  Secrets Of The Gem Trade, The Connoisseur’s Guide To Precious Gemstones