BSF Genesis: Week 6, Day 3

Today’s Scriptures

Questions:

5.
a.
And then he died, 5:5, 8, 11, 14, 17, 20, 27, 31

b.

  • The only way to eternal life is to be born again in the spirit
  • If you do not believe in Jesus, you will “die in your sins”
  • Death has reigned ever since the time of Adam
  • Wages of sin is death

6.
All of mankind is made in Adam’s likeness. Because Adam became imperfect, we are copies of that imperfection. Because Adam sinned, we are all sinners. The likeness of God in every person has been corrupted by original sin

7.
a.
Enoch walked faithfully with God 300 years. Enoch walked faithfully with God; then he was no more, because God took him away. Noah: “He will comfort us in the labor and painful toil of our hands caused by the ground the Lord has cursed.”

b.
I can do that.  Enoch didn’t have some special power or calling.  He didn’t have some extraordinary gift or blessing.  He walked.  I walk.  He walked with God.  I can do that.

 

My Daily Journal

One thing I love about the people in the bible is how ordinary they are.  They sin.  They make mistakes.  They live and die.  They are like me.  But they also serve as examples for me.  I can do what Enosh did and call on the name of the Lord.  I can do with Enoch did and walk with God every day.  I don’t have to build an ark (jumping ahead), I can just walk.  It doesn’t take a leap of faith to begin, just a single step.

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BSF Genesis: Week 5, Lecture

Life is hard.  Ever since Adam and Eve choose sin, it has tried to jump out and harm us and attack us and draw us away from God over and over and over again.

The bible doesn’t teach us that if we follow God everything is smooth sailing.  Just the opposite.  God tells us to hold on.  But God allows us to choose what we hold on to.

In our lesson tonight we learn about Cain.  Cain decided to hold on to himself.  As we read the verses you can almost see him standing there, pouting with his arms crossed tightly across his chest.  Shut off, defiant, clinging only to himself.

What a dumb thing to hold onto when things get tough.  God says that he is our rock and foundation.  God invites us to let go and cling to him.  God says he never loses a member of his flock.

But let’s look at Cain and what he clings to and how that works for him.

In our first section we are introduced to Cain and Abel.  Cain was a farmer and Abel was a rancher or shepherd.  They were brothers and Cain was the first born son of Adam and Eve.  We don’t know how old they were when our story picks up, but we know people lived for a long time in those days, hundreds of years, but we are brought into the story at a critical point – a point where Cain and Abel brought an offering to the Lord.

We see that both brought a portion of the product of their labor.  But it is also clear that the manner in which they brought it and the nature of the offering were different.  Cain brought “some”.  Abel brought fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock.

A key difference is in what they were willing to give up or sacrifice to God.  When Abel brought the best of what he had, first, he had to recognize that it was the best.  Second, he had to be willing to sacrifice it, to give it up.  In so doing, he opened the door for God to give him something even greater than what he had produced that had been his best.  And we see that God poured out his favor on Abel AND on his offering.

But that isn’t what happened with Cain.  Cain gave.  He may have given more than Abel, we don’t know.  His offering may have been worth more on the grain market, but there isn’t any indication that he gave the best.  It says he gave “Some”, but it does not say that he gave the best of what he produced.  Meaning, he held onto to that.  He kept what he considered to be best on his own little trophy case, rather than clearing room for the type of trophy God wanted him to have.

What happened?  Cain became very angry and downcast.  Pay attention to that last part.  If you are downcast, where is your focus?  Is it up and to God?  Is it forward and positive?  Remember what happened when Eve filled her vision with the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  Look at where Cain has his eyes.

God doesn’t need our stuff.  We need to let go.  God teaches us how to do this in his word and by his example.  What did He give?  In addition to everything that exists in the physical universe, He also gave His only Son.  Jesus is the only acceptable sacrifice.

  • What are you doing in “half-hearted faith”?
  • Where do you need to give 100% of your heart?
  • What have you earned or achieved that you are having a hard time removing from your life because “it is so great”?

In our next section, we see that Cain’s actions soon follow his eyes.  But, it is important to realize it did not have to be this way.  God loved Cain so much that he sat down and talked to him, one-on-one (maybe three on one with the whole trinity thing, but you get the point).  God offers him a do-over.  God warns him about the door he is so focused on, the one that follows his downcast gaze, i.e., the door that leads further down.  God tells him, sin is crouching at that door.  You have the power to rule over it, don’t let it pounce on you.  Now, if something is crouching right outside your door waiting to pounce, how are you going to keep it from pouncing on you?  Duh! Use a different door.  God is holding open the door back to him, but…

Soon, Cain commits premeditated murder.  He lures his brother out into a field and whacks him (in the literal sense).  It’s done.  The first recorded death of a human and it is committed by another human.

So God immediately rains down condemnation on Cain, right?  Actually, no.  God’s first action is to offer Cain an opportunity to confess and repent.  “Where is your brother, Abel?”

But Cain doesn’t confess or repent.  He doesn’t fall down and cry out to God.  He keeps going right through that door.  He follows murder with lies and denial and condescension.  “I don’t know.”  “Am I my brother’s keeper?”

God cries out to him to listen and see what he has done.  To recognize his action and change; to see the consequences and curse that he has brought onto himself from the very land that he relies on for a living as a farmer.

But, Cain chooses to close the door.  In verse 14 Cain says to God.  I will be hidden from your presence. Click.

  • What more could God have done to bring Cain back to him?  All he had to do was repent.  But lying and denying are like going the wrong way down the one way street that is supposed to lead back to God.  Should it be any wonder to us if we get hit by a bus?
  • What are you lying about or denying?
  • What are you trying to keep hidden in your life from God?  How is that working out?
  • Where do you complain that what you face is “too much” or “too hard” while at the same time contributing to making it even more, harder and worse?

Our third section gives us insight into the life of Cain.  Clearly, God still saw him, even if he chose not to see God (it is written down in the bible, right).

We see God continued to provide.  He gave gifts of music and carpentry and architecture and craftsmanship and arts.  And what did Cain’s children do?  They denied God.

Look at verses 17-24.  What’s not mentioned?  God.  I looked back starting in Genesis 1:1 and would encourage you to as well.  This is the longest number of verses so far with no mention of God.  In Genesis 1 it is hard to go a single verse without God.  But here, we go multiple generations.  What is the focus?  On accomplishments, on talents, on celebrity and commerce.  Add in a best dressed list and this could be daytime TV.

Not only is there no mention of God, but they quickly take the things that come from God and twist them and misuse them.  Think about it?  How did Cain get married?  Not just where did he find a wife, but actually, who married them?  How did they enter into a holy covenant without God?  Is it any wonder then that a few generations down that sacrament gets stretched further?  Why not marry 2 wives?  Why not kill someone and claim 11 times the protection for it that God offered to Cain?  Why not sing about it?  Wives… I’ve killed a man….

But what will all of this bring them?  All of these accomplishments without faith?  I don’t want to jump ahead, but come back and you learn about how they end up “all wet.”

  • What accomplishment are you holding onto as being yours instead of God’s?
  • Where do you focus on the performer or celebrity instead of the divine who gave the talent?
  • Are you spending your time reading People or reading God?

BSF Genesis: Week 4, Lecture

Think of the Garden of Eden as a private luxury yacht, one the size of a cruise liner.  Life is good.  All you can eat buffets. Beauty is all around you.  You have an amazing captain that walks the deck with you.  There are no fears, no threats, no worries, no sweat.  There is only one rule, stay on the boat (i.e., obey). But one day you are together talking with a serpent and he asks, about the rule and in the process of the conversation you change your perspective from seeing the rule as one meant to protect you to one meant to keep something from you.  You want to be the captain.  So, without much thought, you jump ship.  When you reach the water you find that it isn’t a clear calm body of pure water, it is dirty, yucky, murky, oil and grease and pollution.  The more you splash in it, the more covered you get.  Fortunately, God releases a lifeboat, tied to his ship (through the sacrifice of a living creature), but no more lido deck and no way to get back on the yacht. Until… (we’ll come back to that thought).

Let’s first go into our scripture story this week.  In our first section we read about a conversation that Adam and Eve have with a serpent and the decision they each make that results from that conversation.  We learn that the serpent is a crafty creature and in his craftiness he asks a question; a question with an innuendo.  Did God really say…?  He asks it of Eve, but we are told Adam is with her.  When Eve responds, the serpent’s tone gets even more sarcastic and pointed, basically calling God a liar and someone who is trying to keep things from Adam and Eve.  He says, “you won’t die.. you will be like God knowing good and evil.”  Keep in mind, up to this juncture, they were like God, made in his image and they knew good, because everything around them was good.  So, really what Satan is suggesting is that they should want to know evil.  And, like so often we do ourselves, they let their eyes and their perspective stray.  They turned from being focused on the word of God and the character and attributes of God and they turned their focus to the temptation.  Vs 6 says, “…saw that the fruit was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom,”  Then, they make one of the most pivotal decisions in the history of mankind, they took it and ate it.

There was a TV show years ago with a line, “The devil made me do it.”  But that is wrong.  It is wrong now and it was wrong at the time of Adam and Eve.  The devil prompted them to question God’s word and His character.  The devil lied to them about God’s intentions for them and misled them, but the devil did not force them to eat it.  He didn’t pick the fruit and lie to them that it was some other fruit, so they weren’t deceived.  He didn’t even force a situation of panic or urgency to cause immediate action.  He just tempted them to place their eyes and their focus away from God and onto a lie.  The same way we are tempted today.

Who are you blaming for your sins?  Society, TV, your friends, your parents?  What are you doing to focus your vision every day on God and not on temptation?

So, now their eyes are opened and they see evil.  What panic must have filled them!  I don’t know if you have ever felt a panic attack, but I cannot even imagine the emotion of the situation, the fear, the shame, the uncertainty.  They start sewing together fig leaves, like that is some rational thing to do, and then they hear God walking through the garden.  Panic! Hide!

God calls out to them and the reality that they can’t hide from God must have sunk in and Adam answers back.  God then patiently lets them tell their story.  Adam blames everyone else.  It was Eve, and, by the way, you are the one who put her here.  Eve blames the serpent.  But, both acknowledge and confess.  “I ate.”  Don’t miss that part.  Their confession worked then like our confession does not.  It puts us in a proper position to receive God’s grace.  Adam and Eve should have died immediately.  The consequence of sin is death.  But through their confession, God gave grace, not without cost, but neither what they earned.

When we sin, there are consequences.  The negative consequences of Adam and Eve’s sin was pain, fear, longing, domineering, toil, thorns, thistles, sweat, fight to survive, death.  The serpent was cursed, the ground was cursed.

Think of it like ripples or waves.  When we jumped ship and splashed into the dirty water, we made waves, things were moved and affected.  That is still true today.  One of the tricks the tempter plays is to hide the impacting waves of our sin from us.  It being hidden does not mean it is not there, just that we don’t see it.  Those types of ripples and waves are often the most dangerous.  They create an under tow that can drown not only us, but those around us as well.

Do you recognize that there are no victimless sins?  When you disobey God it has affects, even if you don’t see them, they are there.  What sin are you trying to keep hidden?

But, with all the negative consequences, we also see something amazing if we look hard at the verses.  Here we see the first glimpse of God’s grace.  We see the first mention of our savior, Jesus Christ, and the work that He will do to crush the serpent’s head.  We see the first sacrifice that God made on our behalf, one that transferred our earned death onto another creature.

We see something interesting in that first sacrifice.  It was only a covering.  Think of it as the life preserver or lifeboat that God released for us.  We aren’t out of the water, but we also weren’t immediately pulled under to drown.

But compare that to the work of Christ.  Jesus became man.  He tied a rope around His waist (tying Himself to His Father in heaven – we see him tighten those knots every time He prayed).  He jumped down from the deck and stretched out His arms (on the cross) to grab ahold of us.  Then, using his own strength, He lifted us back into the boat.  It’s like those rescue missions at sea, all we can do is reach for Him, submit and hold on.

Where the first sacrifice was a covering, Jesus’ sacrifice brought us back into a state of righteousness with God, back into unity and communion with Him, back onto the boat.  He didn’t just save us from the deep, but he brought us back into His family.

So, if we are once again “back in the family” and we have been made righteous, why do we still feel the consequences of sin and see it all around us?  Think about those images of birds being rescued from an oil spill in the ocean.  That is us.  God’s work of transforming us starts on the inside.  He places the Holy Spirit in us and begins cleaning the gunk of swimming in sin from our heart, then he works outward.  On the outside, we are still dripping the pollution of sin.  Because we still live on this earth, we are still all wet.  But like the ship is on the water not of the water, we are on this earth, and no longer of this earth.  Jesus said His kingdom is not of this earth and we are subjects of His kingdom.  See, one day, either when we pass from this earth or when Jesus returns, we will be completely transformed.  This filthy flesh will be replaced and made completely clean, inside and out.  We will live in a new heaven and new earth free of sin where there is no serpent (he’ll be spending eternity in a firey pit), no pain, no sorrow, none of the things that sin brought into this world.  We will once again be fully transformed back into walking in the garden with God and it will be good.

BSF Genesis: Week 2, Lecture

We established at our beginning of the study of Genesis that the bible is God’s Word put in place as the means that God reveals Himself to us so that we can have a right relationship with Him, one of love, respect, worship and praise, comfort, peace and joy, eternally.

One of the things I thought about this week, that our teaching leader mentioned in his lecture, was the point that the development of my relationship with God is different than developing any other relationship on this earth.  Normally, when we are entering into a new relationship, whether work, friend, neighbor, romantic, or casual, there is an gradual revealing that occurs as each party learns about the other and each party opens up to tell about themselves.  But with God, He already knows everything there is to know about us and He has put everything about Him down in writing.  The depth of my relationship with God is directly tied to my dedication in increasing my knowledge of Him and moving closer to His unmoving rock of salvation.

In Genesis 1, we see this.  Last week we looked at this chapter and focused on better understanding “who” God is.  This week our focus shifts to “what” God did: He created everything.

So, again, let’s start at the beginning where God is in the beginning.  God’s first action into his new creation is to speak.  He said let there be light and there was light.  We could camp out right here and discuss the awesome power of God’s word.  We could talk about this intrinsic and everlasting light that goes on like a ray coming from the Trinity to shine for ever more.  And, with the richness of Genesis, if you are ever struggling for something to ponder and pray, pick any one verse in Genesis 1 and use it to see God’s glory and power.

God first divides the waters below and above and then He gathers the sea.  I love this visual image of how God’s voice could stretch out like arms across a table and draw in the waters of the sea to make dry ground.  And then God brings life to the planet.

He brings vegetation, plants, trees, to grow and bear fruit, each according to their kind.  And it was good.

He then speaks the sun, moon and stars into existence.  These are the vessels that hold the light that He created on day 1.

When I think of all of this, it reminds me of how parents-to-be prepare the nursery and their home for an expectant baby to arrive.  They paint the room, they prepare the furniture and bedding, they even put in a night light.  How much more so our heavenly Father, and the moon is a pretty amazing nightlight!

In your language about the nursery God prepared for us, do your comments express gratefulness or do they convey an attitude of a whiny child complaining about the heat or cold?  Do you reach out to your heavenly Father for comfort and joy or are you busy throwing a temper tantrum?

But let’s go a little deeper in looking at some of the days of creation in this chapter.  God didn’t just create these things but He actually gave them purpose.  Look at vs 11 and 12.  God didn’t just make plants, but he made plants to bear seeds and fruit.  In 14 and 15 He didn’t just make the lights in the sky, but He made them to be signs to mark sacred times and days and years.  In 20-23 He made creatures of the sea and sky and specifically blessed them and commanded them to be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth, each according to its kind.  Same for the land animals, each according to its kind.

God created not only objects, but He endowed them with both purpose and order.  That word “according” is an interesting one.  It reminds me of “a chord”, a musical harmony.  When man thinks of nature, particularly its origins, our minds see chaos and battle, survival of the fittest, struggle for life.  But in God’s design there is harmony, order and purpose.

In your day, are you striving to find God’s harmony, order and purpose or are you viewing it as a fight, dog-eat-dog battle?  How does your approach influence your outcome?  If all creation is a harmonious melody that sings praise to Him, are you putting in practice time for the musical every day?  As a challenge, look at the ways that God uses animals throughout the scriptures to reveal Himself to mankind (colt for palm sunday, dove, the fish for the multitudes, Jonah’s whale, Balaam’s donkey, just to name a few.)  They are more prevalent than we realize when we look for them.

Then, the 6th day.  God, the trinity, made man in His image, in His likeness.  God made us male and female.  He provided for us with food to eat and He gave us purpose and direction, one to preserve and maintain order.  He delegated rule to us as only a ruler could do.  He gave plants and fruit to us as only the owner of the fields of harvest could do.

Interesting that God gives us two specific tasks.  The first shows our kinship with all other living creatures of the earth, to be fruitful and increase in number, fill the earth.  The second shows our kinship with the Almighty, to subdue the earth and rule over every living creature.  And, as we will study in the weeks to come, how we have done pretty good at the first directive, but almost immediately failed in the second when we let the ways of the earth and the temptations present rule over us instead of the other way around.

But, we will also learn that the game isn’t over.  Like a reset button in a video game, those of us who have accepted the saving work of Jesus Christ have the ability to start over.  When we confess our sins, God is faithful and just and He will forgive our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.  Just like a reset button, we get a “do over” button through confession to God that lets us start executing our order, harmony and purpose all over again.  And each time we stumble and fall, His spirit helps move in us and with us, transforming us back into His image and likeness until the day we stand before Him for all eternity in the harmony and unity of heaven.

BSF Genesis: Week 0 – Lecture

What is Mr. C? (btw: Mr. C is my co-leader this year).  He is a man.  He is a BSF leader.  He is a father.  He is a follower of Christ.  All of these are true, but they don’t paint a very clear or complete portrait of Mr C.  To really get to know him, you would want a lot more information.  You would want to go all the way back to his childhood, to the very beginning.  You would want to know stories about his friendships and about the times and people who hurt him or let him down.  You would want to have some genealogy about his family, like what they did, how they lived, what they felt and believed.  You might want to hear songs that he liked, poetry.  You might want to hear his own words.

You see, that is what the bible is.  You can say it is a book or collection of books, because it is.  You could say it contains laws and direction.  But it is so much more.  The bible is the way that God has chosen to reveal himself to mankind.  It is the actual inspired word of God, told through the writing of humans, because that is how we can commune with God.  As God is eternal, so is His word.  It is stories about God, just as we would tell stories to learn about anyone else.  It is a tale of joy and a tale of sadness.  It is a book of poetry, history, prophecy, parable, law and above all, it is a book of grace.  It is a book with amazing joy, sadness and then redemption fulfilled at great cost.

The bible is God’s word.  God didn’t recite it word for word, but don’t mistake that they are His words.  In spirit He guided and inspired the authors to record, without error, these words so that we can become closer to God.  The written word is on the same level or authority as if God had spoken it (in a loud booming God voice) to you or me directly.  It deserves the same reverence, not in a lock it in a glass case and worship the ink and page, but in a way that requires our time and attention and effort to commune with.  The bible contains the knowledge we need to walk the path we are to take in our lives.  You can call it an instruction manual, a light, but most importantly, it is a gift.

God desires to commune and communicate with His people.  Did you realize that christianity is the only world religion that doesn’t have a “divine” language?  You don’t have to speak hebrew to read about God.  You don’t have to read ancient arabic.  The bible has been translated into over 2,530 different languages – almost every written language in the word so that every person can read, study and get to know the word of God and thus, know God.

How are you showing respect for the word of God in your daily life?  How are you showing just how thankful you are that God chose to let us get to know Him, that he cared that much?  Are you hungy and thirsty for the word?  Me, too!

Not only is this God’s word, but it is also how God reveals His divine purpose and plan.  So, since there is a master plan for how everything and everybody and all time is going to be and work and do, wouldn’t you want to know about it?  You see, God isn’t just a creator and builder, who designed and created everything, put it in motion and then just sat back and let it go.  He is a God of action.  That is one of the reasons we pray.  God is alive and listening.  He is active and moving.  He wants us to see Him, understand Him and, in reflection, understand His plan for our lives.

It is said that God’s main purpose is to glorify Himself.  Sometimes this is mis-understood and people think God needs us to tell Him how great He is.  Like we have something that God needs.  But it doesn’t mean that.  Think of it this way, a lightbulb’s main purpose is to show how bright it shines.  Glory is what God is, just as light is what a lightbulb is – OK, on a much bigger scale, but you get the point.

Do you believe that God has a purpose and a plan?  Do you believe that He has a will?  Do you believe that the God who created everything, knows everything, knows every blade of grass, every molecule, a God who is alive and active and listening and participating and communing…  Do you believe He just might have a thought or two in the fashion of a plan for your life?  Do ya’ think, then, that it might be a good idea to read and study the book where He wrote that down?  Just saying!

We start our study this year in the same book that God chose to start, Genesis, a book of beginnings.  Genesis tells us about the beginning of everything: at a universally large scale, as in, the universe, and on a subatomic scale as in the time that he spoke mass and matter into being (the heavens and the earth).  God could have chosen to reveal all kinds of details about timelines, and specifics about the way that He created, but He chooses to tell us the story in the matter that means the most to us, in a very human and personal way.  He spoke.  He saw.  These are human actions and God wants to reveal Himself to us in the language we all can see and speak.  Genesis tells about how we began with God and how we were given choice and made the wrong one (sound familiar to your own life?)  Genesis tells about things like rebellion, judgment, justice and, right from the very start, it begins the promise of redemption and reconciliation.  God tells us about Himself through the stories and interactions of His friends and the people He calls family, His peeps (as in they will be my people and I will be their God).

At some point in your life you will ask the question: How did I get here?  It may be at a time of incredible high, where you want to reflect on all the blessings.  It may be at a terrible low point.  It may be at a time that you just feel last or lonely or one where you are thankful and joyful.  Here is what I can tell you.  I know where the answer to that question is.  It is right here, in these words.  You see, everything we need to know about how we got here, physically, mentally, metaphysically, chronologically, spiritually, legally, purposefully, economically and redemptively – it is all here.  Where should we start?  How about: In the beginning God…

Bible Lesson 11: Hebrews 2:5-4:13 Lecture

Hebrews 2:5-4:13

Aim: Jesus became man to rescue mankind

Introduction: Picture a family run campground, run by a Father and Son team.  Now the son, who helped build the campground would have every right to sit in His office and send out memos to the counselors and campers.  But He knows that to really train the counselors, it would be best if He didn’t just tell them, but showed them.  Jesus did exactly that, and so much more.  Last week we learned about how Jesus was above all, higher than the angels, King, creator, sustainer of all things, an exact representation of God.  And this week we learn how He became fully man, not only to teach us – but to save us.

Division 1: Hebrews 2:5-18: Jesus became lower than angels to sit down as king

Principle a: Jesus suffered death to give us life

Illustration: Several years ago I went camping with my son and we slept in the old canvas army tents.  Besides the fact that they smelled bad and had spiders, it rained that first night.   Now, I know you aren’t supposed to touch a canvas tent in the rain, but, it was just too tempting.  Sometimes it was just accidental, brushing against it trying to get out of the way of the times before when I touched it to see what would happen, but soon we had water pouring in.

While we may live in a stinky old tent that we got from our parents who got it from their parents (i.e., our sinful bodies), Jesus offers us a gift of a brand new tent to live with Him.

Application: what are you doing that you know you shouldn’t?  Are you holding onto your stinky old ways or do you accept the gift?  Are the rains falling in your life now (if not, they will) – what shape is your tent in?

Principle b: God didn’t lower the bar, Jesus lifted us up on His shoulders

Illustration: I’m not perfect.  No one is perfect.  Have you ever said that?  I have.  But it is wrong – Jesus was perfect while fully a man.  The only way to stand in the presence of God is to be completely without sin – otherwise you would be undone by the conviction of your sin.  We don’t get into God’s presence by being better than others, we get there by being perfect – God didn’t lower that requirement – he didn’t lower the bar – but he did raise the floor by allowing us to stand on the one who was without sin and step over the bar without any work of our own.

Application: Are you trying to be good to be better than others or to obey God?  What are you trying to earn that has been given as a gift?  Do you recognize the perfect son of man?

Division 2: Hebrews 3:1 – 4:11 Jesus/Moses – faithful servants, but Jesus is supreme

Principle: Faith and obedience have always been the requirements to enjoy God’s promised rest

Illustration: One of the things to watch for when camping is where you pitch your tent.  It is tempting to pitch it down next to a river.  Water and food are handy, its comfortable, sure there are the mosquitoes and bugs, but such is life, right?.  But when rains come it is important to be on higher ground.  God brought his people out  of the slavery of Egypt, but they refused to move their tents – they fought him, they ignored him, they disobeyed.  His desire for them was that they would heed his warning , they were creating their own storm of disobedience and they were not safe – but they refused.  As a result, they died, drowning forever in their own stubbornness.  We are warned to listen and not be deceived by sin, to put our obedience in God and do not follow the example the Jews did with Moses.

Application: The storms of life and temptation are coming – are you listening to the warnings or fighting them?  Do you learn from the stories in the bible or relive them?  What part of your life do you need to submit to obedience to God?

Division 3: Hebrews: 4:12-13 The word of God is alive and active, cutting, judging and saving

(These 2 verses are the memory verses for the kids this week and one we would all be wise to commit to memory!)

The word of God is alive (not history, not dead, not just words – it has life)

The word of God is active – not passive, not waiting, not absent – active

The word of God cuts ( I sure felt this one throughout this week’s study – meditating on the living word, encouraging others every day, honoring the sabbath day of rest, living like someone given new life, obeying)

He is the judge – there will be an account taken for the time I am given on this earth

There is nothing hidden, period.  If that doesn’t strike fear into you, then you are truly in denial – imagine every action, thought, glance, deception, lie you every made, exposed for all to see.

And, most amazing of all – through all of those facts – Jesus became like me to die for me to pay the price to save me from the very judgment that I deserve.  When you think about it, it makes no logical sense – why would the creator of everything, knowing everything do this for me?  There are only two things to say:

1. John 3:16 answers that question in one of the only places in the bible that it gives us a “why” in regard to God’s behavior – “for God so loved the world” – it was love

2. The only thing that could possibly make less logical sense than what God did would be to reject the gift that He has provided – to reject His love rather than sharing it back to Him and to others.

Luke 8:18 says “Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what he thinks he has will be taken from him.” When we think about our response to God’s love we can see how this becomes not only understandable, but the only thing fair and true.  Fill your hearts with God’s love and share it, protect it, cherish it, encourage others, grow in closeness with Him and He will pour out more and more love to you.  But if you take the love of God only for your own gain, complaining, disobeying, continuing to sin, trying to use God and His church only to better your own life, then that life that you think you have will not last – nothing is hidden, not even our hearts.

Conclusion:

I find it interesting that the Apostle Paul was a tent maker.

The storms are coming – how about a new tent?  If anyone’s in Christ, he is a new creation.  While you are at it, why don’t you just go ahead and pitch your tent right inside God’s house?

Division 1: Hebrews 2: 10-18: Jesus became man to raise us up to be his brothers

BSF Acts: Bible Lesson 10, Hebrews 1:1-2:4, Lecture

Aim: The choice we make in accepting Christ in this life is an eternity-long decision

Introduction:

Our lessons the last couple of weeks have been very interesting.  See, the road map is changing.  Prior to Jesus and Peter, Paul and Barnabas, the path you took in life and beyond was largely based on the path you were born on.  There were many different paths, heading many different directions, but they seldom crossed.  You rarely got the opportunity to choose your path.  (I’m going to draw some lines, some straight, almost parallel, but mostly winding in different directions.)  But even then there was only one path to God.

But with Jesus paying the price for the sins of the whole world it has changed.  Everybody is at the same point, we’ll call it NOW (I’m going to draw something that looks like a wheel hub and spokes).  But here is the difference, we all get to choose which path we take.  Any path gets us to the end (where we die), but only one path keeps going after that to spend forever with God.  But you get the choose.  It isn’t what family you were born to or what language you speak, it is how you decide.

So where does it all start, well let’s look at our lesson this week, we start in Hebrews 1:1

First division: Hebrews 1:1-3 – Jesus is the only son of God

1:1-2a God speaks to us through the prophets and now through His Son Jesus

1:2b-3a Jesus is heir of all, creator of all, the radiance and exact image of God’s glory, and sustainer of all

1:3b Jesus saved us from sin and reigns in heaven at the right hand

Principle: To know Jesus is to know God

Illustration: I’m going to bring in a chest X-ray and show a picture of my heart.  This is the only way I can see my heart.  In a similar way Jesus is an exact image of God.  He isn’t like God, like this X-ray isn’t like my heart.  He is God the same way that this is my heart.

Application: Do you know about Jesus or do you know Jesus?  If someone asked you to describe Jesus would it be as an acquaintance, friend or a member of the family?  How long could you talk to someone about your Lord?

Division 2: Hebrews 1:4-14 Angels are messengers and ministering spirits.  Jesus is both the giver of the gift and the gift itself.  He is God.

1:4-5 Jesus is superior to angels by name and birthright

1: 6 Angels worship Jesus

1:7-13 Jesus was the creator and He is eternal, God, Ruler

1:14 All angels are ministering spirits to the elect

Principle: Angels serve, Jesus saves

Illustration: If you were captured in a foreign country and  thrown into prison, it would be great to have people from your homeland that come and help you and protect you and bring messages from home.  But it is even better when the “big guy” comes and gets you out of prison.  All believers (current and future) are foreigners on this earth.  This is just a temporary home.  Angels are sent by God to help and protect us, but only Jesus sets us free.

Application: Do you think of angels as messengers of God or in some other way?  Do you thank God for the angels he sends to minister to you? 

Third Division: Hebrews 2:1-4 Warning to pay heed

2:1 Pay attention so you don’t drift away

2:2-3a Aside from salvation we can’t have justification

2:3b-4 Jesus announced salvation, Apostles taught it, God showed it (signs/miracles) we experience it in the Gifts of the Spirit.  There are no excuse for not believing!

Illustration: I think about a little boat tied to a big boat.  Now, if I like the comfort of being able to participate in some stuff on the big boat, I may tie my small boat to it.  But maybe I don’t want to be too associated with the big boat.  May be some of my friends aren’t tied to the boat at all and I don’t want to be different, so I might still tie onto the big boat, but not too tightly and not too close.  And while things are calm, that may have no repercussions.  But things don’t stay calm in life.  They get stormy and when they do and I’m way far away with a really long rope, I start to drift and I might just drift right up into rocks or other dangers.  The only safe place is being directly connected to God’s ship.

Application: what are you waiting for to tie the knot?  How tightly are you cinched up to God’s boat?  What areas of your life are still adrift?  Who do you need to throw a rope to that is drifting into the rocks?

Conclusion:

Jesus has fulfilled a new covenant.  Salvation is through faith in Him alone and we all get to choose.  If you are unsure about your choice and whether you are on the right path, BSF has a pamphlet called the “Steps to Assurance.”  Read it.  This isn’t something you want to be pretty sure about since it last forever.  Be certain in your salvation.

BSF Acts: Bible Lesson 8 – Acts 14: Lecture

Aim: A relationship with Christ requires commitment.  Commitment means not quitting when things get hard.

Introduction:  Have you ever ridden on a roller coaster?  When you decide to do it, you step into the car, snap the safety belt and the train leaves the station.  You are committed all the way through, there isn’t anywhere to get off or turn back.  When Paul and Barnabas were called by the Holy Spirit in Antioch to go on this mission trip, they prayed about it, the church prayed and fasted, they knew this is what they were supposed to do.  They got onboard and strapped in.  No matter the ups and downs, no matter how scary, they were going all the way. That’s commitment.

Last week we saw Paul and Barnabas shaking the dust from their feet as they left Pisidian Antioch, wanting to leave the negative things behind them.  This week we see that the negative people followed them anyway, but some truly amazing things happen in spite of the opposition.

 

1st Division: Acts 14: 1-7 Paul and Barnabas speak effectively and boldly and many believe, but division occurs.

Principle: The power of the spirit raises the notice of the opposition

Illustration: Picture this: In a football game, a player is fumbling the ball, missing catches, doing bad passes or hand-offs and you are the coach of the other team.  How many of your players are you going to devote to covering this person?  Probably none.  It is like they are on your team already.  But what about the player who is doing everything well and scoring lots of points for their team.  You might double or even triple team that player.  We see this with Paul and Barnabas, but we also see it with our christian leaders today.  When you are actively spreading the word and being bold and effective, evil powers will be sent to put pressure on you, to get in your way and to try to prevent you from winning.  Thankfully, God has the master game plan!

Application:  Are you asking for the ball?  Are you practicing to be a better player on God’s team?  Would satan worry about getting in your way?

 

2nd Division: Acts 14: 8-18 Paul and Barnabas show the power and majesty of the Creator, but the people of Lystra give credit to the created.

Principle: Only those who truly listen receive the miracle of faith

Illustration: When my wife was a child her parents saved up for months to buy her and her sister a kitchen set for Christmas.  After opening the gift, the 2 kids spent much of the rest of the day playing with the box, ignoring the actual gift.  This is how people can be.  The healing of the lame man was only the outer wrapping of the actual healing that was occurring in his soul.  The ability to walk on this earth was very short compared to his ability to walk the streets of heaven.

Application:  Where are you being blinded by the wrappings instead focusing on the real gift?  Where do you need to listen first so that you may be blessed?

 

3rd Division: Acts 14: 19-28 The Jews arrive, Paul is stoned, Paul is revived and continues in strength

Illustration: Life is full of peeks, valleys and plains.  When we are a committed christian we will face opposition and persecution, and while we may not be stronger and we may be afraid and beaten down to our very last breath, God is stronger.  God doesn’t ask us to go on alone.  He doesn’t promise a smooth path, just the opposite, but he does promise to yolk us together with Him and with others.  Often we gain our greatest encouragement and strength from those we teach.  This is what Paul and Barnabas experienced as they finished their roller coaster ride back to its starting point in Antioch.

Application: Are you committed?  Do you desire a flat trail – if so that might only be achieved once you flatline?  Who are you encouraging and teaching so that you might be strengthened?

 

Conclusion: Lynn Anderson may have summed it up best – “I beg your pardon, I never promised you a rose garden.  Along with the sunshine, there’s got to be a little rain sometimes.”

Bible Lesson 7: Acts 13 (Lecture)

Scripture: Acts 13

Aim: God’s workers tell the good news to those who have not heard it.

Introduction:  If  you are a fisherman, it might be a lot of fun to hang out in the fishing lodge and talking with other fishermen, but you won’t catch many fish that way.  You have to go where the fish are.

If you are a builder, it might be fun to grab a cup of coffee at the Home Depot and talk with other builders, but things are going to get built that way.  You have to go where the job site is.

If you are a disciple of Christ, it might be a lot of fun to hang out with other christians, but that isn’t the work we are called to do.  We are called to spread His name to those who haven’t heard it.  We are called to go where the work is.

First Division: Acts 13: 1-4 – Barnabas and Saul called out of the church in Antioch

Principle: Pray yields guidance from God

Illustration:  I have a soccer ball that kept going flat on me.  I would pump it up and then a few days later I would have to do it again.  To find out where the leak was I pumped up the ball then was very quiet and put my ear up to the ball.  Sure enough, if I was quiet enough I could hear it leaking air.  But I still didn’t know where.  So I filled up a bucket with water and put the ball down in it.  Sure enough, I could see bubbles and found the leak.  Prayer works much the same way.  We start by being very quiet and listening for God to speak to us.  When we seek His direction He makes things visible so we know exactly where to go.

Application: Are you spending quiet time with God each day?  Do you pray for guidance or just for luxuries?  Do you pay attention when God is showing you areas you need to patch in your own life?

Second Division: Acts 13: 5-12 The Proconsul of Cyprus seeks, hears, sees and believes

Principle: The power of the Holy Spirit always defeats evil.

Illustration: Do you know the difference between light and darkness?  Is there light in the world?  Is there darkness?  Do you know the difference between right and wrong?  Is there right in the world?  Is there wrong?  Do you know the difference between good and evil?  Is there… is there…?  So if you walk into a dark room and turn on a light, which wins, light or dark?  Can you turn on a dark light and make things darker?  Light always is more powerful  Which is more powerful: right or wrong?  Good or Evil?  Which always wins, God’s ways or evil’s ways?  So whenever you are afraid, know that you are not relying on yourself – you have the full power of God’s Holy Spirit in you – which is stronger that or whatever you are afraid of?

Application:  When you are afraid, do you shrink back or call on the power of the Spirit?  Do you recognize evil and call it what it is or are you too polite? 

Third Division: Acts 13: 13-52 Paul and Barnabas reach the crossroads: Jews reject, Gentiles rejoice

Principle: God’s protection turns persecution to joy

Illustration: The comforts of a warm house on a cold, snowy, windy day.  Snuggled up to a fire with a warm blanket and a cup of hot chocolate.  We see this image and smile, despite the frigid storm outside.  In fact, the frigid storm is what brings us to this place of comfort and joy.  Persecution for spreading God’s truth works the same way.  We don’t hide from it, but we are sheltered from the storm by God’s overflowing love.

Application: Do you avoid the storms?  If so, you might be missing the comforts?  Do you snuggle up with THE good book each day? 

Conclusion:  A little boy was terribly afraid of the dark.  One evening his mother asked him to get the broom from the garage.  The light switch was out of his reach and he was horribly afraid  His mother reminded him of the lesson he had learned in church that he did not need to be afraid because Jesus was always with him.  The young boy pondered this for a moment, then boldly went to the garage door, opened it and in a loud voice stated, “Hey, Jesus, can you hand me the broom?”  While we laugh at this, we see it lived out in our lesson this week.  Paul and Barnabas are called into scary new places, with new and often unfriendly people.  While Jesus, through the Holy Spirit, is with them every step, guiding them and comforting them – they are called to do the work, to speak the words and to spread the news.

Bible Lesson 3, Acts 2: Lecture

Acts 2 Aim: Being saved, (accepting Christ and being baptized in the spirit), creates a changed life both in activity and quality.

I want you to picture the earth in your mind.  The entire earth.  Got it?  Ok, using one hand I want you to make a shape showing me what you picture.  (Everyone makes a fist).  Look around, notice anyone holding up a flat hand?  But even just a few generations ago, everyone would be doing that.  But notice how that small revelation changes so many things about how you think about stuff.  If someone goes out in a boat, do you worry about them falling off the end of the earth?  Do you have spend time thinking about what happens to the sun at night?  No.  Simple understandings completely change the way we look at things.

Tonight we are going to learn from a very large group of faithful jews who completely had their understanding of things rocked upside down by the truth spoken through a fisherman.

But I’m getting ahead of myself, let’s go back where we left things last week. 

(at this point I’ll go back over Acts 1,40 days post resurrection, the final command of Jesus, the ascension, the MIW’s, the obedience to the command, the prayer and bible study that went on while waiting, the selecting of the 12 apostle)

1st division: Acts 2:1-13.  As promised by the bible and Christ, the Holy Spirit comes

Principle: The H/S is given to God’s adopted children

Seriously, do we need better illustrations that tongues of fire and speaking in tongues?  I plan on pointing out some of the background about pentecost as a Jewish Holy Day, both in terms of the festival of first fruits as well as the day Moses was given the 10 commandments (see my earlier post about pentecost).  In studying this, I found it interesting that the emphasis is on the giving of the law as opposed to the receiving of it.  It is about the grace of God and His desire to save, over my want and need of salvation. (probalby too deep for level 1, but I’ll work it in because it is so cool).  The law through moses was an outside thing – there was the structure of the temple, the sacrifices, all the various offerings and observances.  The spirit is an inside thing – no longer are we outsiders, we are adopted children.

Application:

  1. What are you on fire about?
  2. If God gave you the ability to speak in another language that you didn’t know to communicate with people you didn’t know – what would you say?
  3. Are you truly thankful for this gift? Not just focused on receiving it, but understanding the grace with which it is given?

Division 2: Actions 2:14-41

Peter preaches and calls for repentance.

At this point I’m supposed to give a lecture (aka. sermon) about a sermon formulated by the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost and delivered through the Apostle Peter.  I’m taking the safest route and literally reading the sermon he gave. 

Principle: Repent and accept Christ

Illustration: I have a nephew named James who is a toddler.  When James was an infant, the doctors noticed that his cranium (head bones) were not forming or shaping just right (very common condition called Plagiocephaly), so they gave him this device to wear on his head to help shape things.  It basically was like a baby helmet.  So, when baby James he would crawl and bump into something or fall backwards, it wouldn’t hurt – he was wearing a helmet.  Now he is fine and doesn’t wear it anymore, but he also seems to have absolutely no fear.  He will walk right up to the edge of stairs, or a tall drop-off, and just keep going, stepping out into space.  The adults watching him, jump to his rescue, but for the rest of us, it is terrifying. 

I think this is how it was for Peter and the Apostles.  Filled with the H/S, they were compelled to warn those around them, just as adults do with James, of the impending doom.  Stop – repent – you are on the wrong path.  We need to see that the path we are on is leading to a cliff and we may be only one step away from the ledge.  Stop, turn the other way and take Christs hand for guidance to the correct path.

Application:

  1. What paths are you on that take you away from God?
  2. What do you need to stop doing that leads you to sin?
  3. Are you willing to take Christ’s hand and go a different direction?

Division 3: Changed Lives: Acts 2:42-47

Having their eyes opened to the true meaning of the scriptures and the fact that they pointed to Jesus Christ, the gathered Jews cannot look at things the same way any longer.  The earth is no longer flat. 3000 immediately accept the gift and the spirit fills them up.  They are no longer the same people and they can no longer act the same way.  They eat together, they share, they help each other, they tell others and their numbers grow and grow.

Application:

When someone at school or in your neighborhood sees you and your family, the way you act, the way you talk to each other, the way you treat each other and other people.  Does it look different?  Does it look like something they would want?  You can use a million words, but the biggest testimony is in how you act and live as a changed person – as a child of God.

I’m closing with a big prayer:  I’m going to pray that God bring a mighty wind of the H/S and light up each of these kids.  I’ll ask that He give them 11 ofther friends who, no matter what anyone says, will always stand up together.  But even bigger, I am going to pray that God give each of them 3000 people to see the way they live, to hear the words they have to say and who, as a result, see things in a completely new and holy way.

Can I get an amen to that one?!?!?!