13.5 BSF Matthew Week 13, Day 5

Today’s Scriptures

My Daily Journal:

There was a beauty in the interpretation of the “field” in this parable.  In one part, it clearly was an individual, their own personal heart/faith.  In another it was the church or body of all believers, producing a harvest together.  We may think of this as a duality, a use of the same illustration for two different purposes.  But I don’t think that is accurate.

Instead, I think it reflects how Jesus views us.  We are simultaneously individuals and the collective body.  We are personal and unified.  We are one and many.  We are a heart and body.  Just as Jesus is a man, He is also unified with the Father and Holy Spirit as God.

And then the lesson within it.  We fixate.  We see one stain and we can’t let it go, we see one weed and we can’t wait to yank it out.  But it isn’t our job.  God has it covered.  He knows exactly what to do and when to do it.  We do not need to concern ourselves with pointing out every wrong in others to weed them out.  We need to sow more seeds and produce more fruit.  It has always been this way, it always will.

The church is full of sinners.  My life is still filled with rocks and weeds and I trip and fall.  God doesn’t require purity for admission, He requires admission of Himself into our hearts so that He can create purity in them.  Psalm 51: create in me a clean heart!

My Answers:

12.
a.
Son of Man – The devil

b.
The Sons of the Kingdom

c.
the world

d.
The sons of the evil one

e.
The end of the age

f.
Angels

13.
a.
Deceitful – conniving

b.
While pulling the weeds you uproot the wheat with them – let both grow together til the harvest

c.
those who wish to bring harm to Christianity populate themselves within the midst of the church

14.
The righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father

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13.3 BSF Matthew Week 13, Day 3

Today’s Scriptures

My Daily Journal:

Thinking and praying about the question regarding “the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth” set me back on my heels today (no praying pun intended).

I realized that while there are worries and elements of seeking “more” that related to desires I have for security and to be able to provide better/more for my family, there was also a strong element within it for the desire to be more generous.  I realized that part of the reason I wanted to receive more was to be able to give more.  And, while, on first blush that may not sound like a bad thing, I realized that I wanted to give more without it impacting my way of life.

As I read and study the bible, I realize I have that backward.  Being obedient and faithful in small things leads to being able to be the same with more.  But, shouldn’t we take the first step in the water out of faith, not only after God has parted the water?

I think the net message to me was that God doesn’t want more monetary generosity from me.  He wants more of me.  If my idea is to give more without giving more of me, my weeds and thorns grow in direct proportion to the crops.  My field is in no better shape and I am no closer to God.  But if I give more of myself each day to God, then then confidence in Him is returned which kills the weeds and thorns in the field of my life.

My Answers:

7.
Through lies – spreading confusing messages and mistruths, spreading a philosophy of self-indulgence

8.
a.
What is enough?  self imposed pressure to “succeed/provide”.  The desire to be more generous without it impacting my life.

b.
Where is my heart? (Matt 6:21)
Who am I turning to? (Prov 3:5-6)

c.
My heart is good soil, prepared well by the work of the Holy Spirit, but I’ve allowed the enemy to plan many weeds and thorns which interfere with the production of fruit

11.04 BSF Matthew Week 11, Day 4

Today’s Scriptures

My Daily Journal

My wife has enrolled this semester in a college class.  She is taking it to develop her own skills so that she, in turn, can help coach and develop those skills in our children.  I love and admire not only her passion for learning, but also her willingness and diligence to serve our family.

At this point, her class is well into the semester.  There are a few students who are working very hard in the class.  They show up every class period.  They complete the assignments with their best efforts.  They do the homework, ask questions, stay after for extra work and coaching.  There are also others who are not.  These students skip class repeatedly or show up late or leave early.  They habitually turn in assignments late or not at all and spend their class time distracted and doing other things.

Given the cost of the college course, this at first amazed my wife.  Then she learned that some of the students were on grant programs so they did not have to pay for the class.

I’m not raising this as a commentary about grants or welfare programs.  But, simply, the recognition that when you have paid a significant cost you are dedicated and invested in the journey.

Jesus tells us that there will be costs that we will have to pay to follow Him.  Let’s be clear, Jesus is God and with a word, He could remove all of those costs.  It is not because He does not have the power.

Jesus wants more than our hands or voice.  He wants our hearts.  He doesn’t want a worker who runs away at the first sign of danger, He wants shepherds who follow in His image.

Think of the most powerful testimonies you have heard.  They don’t come from believers with perfect, care-free lives.  They come from believers who have experienced pain and hardship.  They come from people who have survived events that they could not possibly survive by their own strength.

Acts 5:41: “The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name.”

My Answers:

8.
a.
handed over, flogged, witness to gentiles, arrest, brother betray brother to death, father child, hated because of Me.
Acts 12:1-2 James martyred, Acts 7 Stephen martyred

b.
After resurrection and ascension

c.
Even unto the second coming, there will still be Jews (God’s chosen people) who do not truly know and/or have heard the good news of Jesus Christ

9.
a.
handed over, flogged, witness to gentiles, arrest, brother betray brother to death, father child, hated because of Me

b.
Internationally, everywhere – families torn apart when members deny the power of the Lord

c.
Even those who persecute the church are not beyond the reach of the Spirit of God (Saul/Paul martyrdom of Stephen)

10.
a.
26. nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known.  28. kill the body but cannot kill the soul.  Nothing outside of Father’s care. Hairs of head are all numbered!

b.
all revealed on judgment day, life hidden in death but revealed in resurrection, light to the house not hidden, more to say that you can now bear to hear

c.
life is only hidden in death, not over – looking forward to reunion with loved ones in Christ who have died.

08.2 BSF Matthew Week 8, Day 2

Today’s Scriptures

My Daily Journal:

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Flickr Creative Commons: stockmonkeys.com

1. Measure for Measure:  This reminded me of the days of the gold rush.  Miners would pan for gold and, hopefully, find nuggets.  They would then bring these in to town where someone would purchase them.,  The price was based on weight and the purchaser of the nuggets owned the scale.  It was often a simple balance and they used counter weights to determine the weight of an ounce of gold.  If their counter weight was a bit heavy, say 1.5 ounce or 2 ounces instead of 1 ounce, then when they put the gold on the other end of the scale, they would get that much extra for the price they paid.  But Jesus explains that this manipulation is all for nothing, because the same set of weights, the measure, they use for others will be the same set of weights used to evaluate their worth.  In this situation the only thing that makes sense for fairness to abound is to use weights that are true and accurate.  The only source of that measure that is true is the Word of God.

2. I just finished reading a book called Allegiant, and one of the lines in the book really stuck in my mind in regard to our lesson this week.  “Everyone has some evil (sin/fault) inside of them and the first step to loving anyone else is to recognize the same evil (sin/fault) in ourselves, so we are able to forgive them.”  We have spent 4 weeks on the Sermon on the Mount and it is easy sometimes to compartmentalize the lesson of three weeks ago and this week, but they are all the same sermon.  In Matt 5, Jesus explained this principle in the extreme.  You may not have murdered someone else, but have you been angry or thought of another as being a fool?  If so, it is the same thing, the same sin, the same evil, with the same just punishment (the fires of hell 5:22).  To minister, to love, to forgive another; we cannot do it from a position of superiority because that is a lie.  You cannot speak truth and lie at the same time.  It starts by seeing our own need for forgiveness.

3. Pearls to Swine: When thinking of unbelievers we often think of the Gospel as mad tasting medicine.  They don’t want it but it is good for them and they really should take it.  We know what is best for them.  Take your medicine and be grateful.  But, we forget or neglect the tremendous value and worth of the Word of God.  It is not something to be pushed on other people.  Would you force another against their will to take gold from you?  Would you force them to eat from an amazing banquet of the finest food?  Of course not.  You would recognize that as ridiculous.  You may invite them, offer, encourage, teach, prepare them for the gift, but if they don’t choose to take your gold, you wouldn’t force them.  But how much more valuable and precious is the gift of the Holy Spirit than gold or silver.  How much more nourishing is the Word of God than earthly food.  When we treat it as bad tasting medicine, we dishonor its true worth and value.

My Answers:

3.
a.
To put yourself in the position of being over another person, particularly a fellow believer, for the purpose of demeaning or disparaging them.  i.e., don’t have a “holier than thou” attitude

b.
same way judge others will be judged, measure for measure.  Focus on the plank in your own eye over the speck of sawdust in another (judge yourself first and foremost and right the situation).  Do not give dogs what is sacred, don’t throw pearls to swine

c.
forgive and you will be forgiven, give and it will be given to you (blessing of measure).  Can the blind lead the blind, will they not both fall into a pit, Student is not above the teacher, but everyone fully trained will be like their teacher

4.
a.
Matt: brother or sister within the church, but as a brother/sister, a confidant, friend
Gal 1: Preachers (people or angels) – that they stay true to the word of God
Gal 6:Someone who has been caught in a sin.  Also, yourself (test your own actions)
2 John: Deceivers, antichrist, false teachers

b.
Take the glaring sin out of your own life first ( hidden can be glaring).  Point out their sin to them with compassion and nurturing.  If ignore, join with 1-2 in the body privately to intervene, expand to church, remove from fellowship.

5.
Each of us is given our own free will and choice.  No one can force or coerce another into accepting the gift of salvation or force them to truly repent.  They must choose.  If they fail to choose or choose the wrong path, leave them be (although you can continue to pray for them). “Do not speak to fools, for they will scorn your prudent words.” Prov 23:9

01.5 BSF Matthew: Week 1, Day 5

Today’s Scripture

My Journal

Honor and obedience.

We live in a culture that is so dishonorable and so disobedient that I don’t think we fully have a grasp of the situation and times of Mary and Joseph.

In their day and culture, honor was everything.  There was no corporate names to hide behind, no “spin”, no SBA loans or Government Backed loans.  Who you were and what your name stood equated to your ability to earn a living.  Without honor, you had no credit in the community.  Without credit and trust in the community you had no income, no food, no shelter, no life.

When Mary turned up pregnant, Joseph was within rights to have her publicly humiliated, even to have her stoned.  But being a righteous man he thought to divorce her quietly, so hopefully she could have some sort of life.  The thought of marrying her would have been unthinkable.

But, then the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph.  And what does he do?  When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord commanded.  period.  No prenups, no discussion, nothing – he just obeyed.

Doing what I or those around me thinks is the right or best thing to do does not require obedience.  Joseph’s obedience was tested in a way we have a hard time imagining.  Again, he didn’t do it with his own will or might.  He didn’t do it with his own thought.  He just did it (sorry, Nike).

What if we woke each day with the obedience in mind to do what the Lord commands of us this day?  What could God do with me with that?

As I look back, the times of greatest joy have not been when I have gotten my way, but when I trusted and followed God into areas of obedience that I did not think I was “the right person” to do or that I didn’t have strengths or skillsets or sometimes even desire to do.  But waking up and doing what God commands is a really powerful and joyful trip!

My Answers

9.
a.
i. He will crush your head and you will strike His heel
ii. Sceptor will not depart from Judah nor ruler’s staff from between his feet
iii. You are my son, today I have become your father
iv. Sign: virgin will conceive and give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel
v. For to us a child is born…

b. Matt 1: 23 = Isaiah 7:14

10.
a.vs 24: When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord commanded

b. Accepting call to be a Children’s Leader in BSF.  I did not have a passion for babysitting other’s children and thought I would be better with adults, but accepted the calling God had for me.  The blessings have been amazing!!

11.
a. This was huge – honor was everything in the community.  This was life or death for Mary.

b. They alone gained the honor of loving and caring for the Christ child and living with God every day.  Not since Adam and Eve had there been such intimacy with the Lord

c. Submission to take risks for the Lord always yields amazing rewards.  Disobedience never does.

01.4 BSF Matthew: Week 1, Day 4

Today’s Scripture

My Daily Journal:

“I am the Lord’s servant.  May your word be fulfilled.”  What if we each prayed that prayer every day?  What if that was a guiding statement for our to do lists?  What if that was our heart’s true desire each day?

Such a simple statement.  But so challenging to live out by our own strength.  This is not how the world lives.  It is not how our neighbors or co-workers or fellow students live.  It is not how media tells us to live.  Frankly, we can’t live this way on our own strength – it is not in our human nature.

But it is in God’s power – and all we have to do is what Mary did, submit with our words and our hearts.  And then, what joy and what blessing.  Mary allowed God to use her fully as a completely empty vessel, laying down her own desires to be in charge of her own life and taking on a willingness to fully serve.  And what did God do, he filled her in a way that is completely unimaginable.  He gave her a gift not given to any other, ever.

“I am the Lord’s servant.  May your word be fulfilled.”

My Answers:

7.
a. do not be afraid, you have found favor with God, Conceive and give birth to a son, call him Jesus, 1. He will be great, 2. will be called the Son of the Most High, 3. Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 4. He will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever, 5. His kingdom will never end.

b. Spirit of God.  Spirit of God is God, the creator, spirit gives birth to the spirit

8.
a. I am the Lord’s servant.  May your word be fulfilled.”  Submission, acceptance, serving spirit.

b. My place is not to second guess or argue with God’s direction, despite how much I don’t understand it or feel that I am the right vessel.  I need to accept and serve Him

01.3 BSF Matthew: Week 1, Day 3

Today’s Scripture

My Daily Journal

In church this past week we sang the song called “Meet with Me” that spoke to me as I did today’s study.  There is a line in the song that says, “What a joy it would be just for a moment to lay at the feet of the Lord.  Just to look deep in the face of the King who gave all, gave everything just to meet with me.”

That is what we are talking about when we talk about the name God gave for His Son.  Unlike Moses, we are not called to hide in the cleft of the mountain to catch a glimpse of God.  God presented Himself, through grace, in the form of a newborn child, completely dependent upon the love of His parents.  God chose to meet with us, by coming down to our level because we could not rise to His.

Not only that, but He did not come to give orders and edicts.  He did not come to rule with power and might.  He did not come to conquer.  (although He could have done all of those and would have been within full rights to have done so).  Instead, He came to save.  He came to pay the price that we cannot pay.

The wages we earn are death.  Only the perfect Son of Man could pay the restitution required to buy us out of bondage.

What a joy it will be to sit at the feet of the One… not for a moment, but for all eternity!

My Answers:

5.
a. Immanuel (23): God with Us, Jesus (21, 25) = Joshua= The Lord saves

b. Song “Meet with Me” What a joy it would be just for a moment to lay at the feet of the Lord.  Just to look deep in the face of the King who gave all, gave everything just to meet with me,  Call to love, honor and respect?

6.
a.
i. God did not send Son to condemn but to save the world
ii. If you do not believe that I am he you will die in your sins
iii. Good Shepherd, other sheep, one flock, one shepherd
iv. Salvation found in no one else, no other name to be saved
v. If believe Jesus is Lord, save
vi. by grace saved, made alive even when dead in transgression

b.+: Coast Guard, lost at sea, willingness to risk all to save, willingness to sacrifice life and resources.  -: my need for a savior, the fact that I put myself in a position of needing to be saved by my own recklessness and sin

BSF Matthew: Opening Night

My Daily Journal:

What an amazing night we had last night with the first and second graders!  These kids are so inspiring in their willingness to shout out the name Jesus, to confess their unwavering belief in Him as their personal savior and friend.  As part of the first night we passed out the questions and each child completed the first day including the question related to what they learned about the bible.  One little guy wrote, “Gses did 4 me” (Jesus died for me).

One of the things I love about spending time in bible study with young believers is that they don’t waste time and worry, they simply believe the word of God.  That was also something I really loved about the notes this week.  One of the ways the evil one attempts to cast doubt is to raise the question of whether the bible, particularly the New Testament, is reliable.  We see this teaching in organizations such as the Latter Day Saints or in popular fiction writers such as Dan Brown; an argument that the writings in the bible have been corrupted.  When we look at the world and see how mankind has corrupted everything else, it can cast doubt.  But God didn’t recite the bible word for word, he inspired 40 people to write it and He has inspired others to translate it.  God is alive and active.  God is the same and He is true and He uses human translators to give us His Holy Word in our language so we can learn about Him and use His Word to guide our life.  He does this with translators the same way He did with the original writers.  If God can use a man to write it with truth and accuracy, He can use another man to translate it in the exact same way.

I am really excited about the new format and tone of the notes this year.  I love the reference out to other books and materials (e.g., Evidence That Demands a Verdict by Josh McDowell).  I cut out the “Outline of Matthew’s Gospel” presented in the notes and laminated it and I’m keeping it in my bible this year as we go through the study.  If you are not in a study and getting the notes, it is really an important addition – the notes are good!

Getting Excited for Matthew

I am really excited to begin our study of Matthew this year.

I had a great summer and participated in a 10 week Precept In and Out study on Revelation Part 1 which covered the letters to the churches.  It was a great study and I’m both excited and nervous about studying the Book of Revelation in BSF in a couple of years.

There are so many new great things in BSF this year.  We had our first leaders’ meeting last weekend and I left very fired up in the spirit.  I don’t want to take away the thunder from your group so I’m trying to keep quiet on the changes, but there is one I have to praise: memory verses.  I’m a children’s leader and in the lower levels we really emphasis putting God’s word in your heart and memory each week.  Every week we have a specific memory verse that ties to our lesson and we spend the last 15 minutes of the night going over fun ways, such as songs, rhythms, pictures, and hand motions to memorize the verse and its address in scripture.  Starting with the new format of Matthew not only is a weekly memory verse front and center in the children’s lesson, but it is now also printed on everyone’s lesson!  I think this is such a great addition and I’m challenging everyone to take 15 minutes in your week and just memorize it.  At the end you will have 30 verses tucked away in your head and heart and you will be amazed at how often you use them in your daily language and discussions.

For the blog, I am making a few changes/improvements as well.  You may have already noticed a new visual theme (thanks WordPress!).  I picked this theme because it has a great mobile view and, as more and more people are doing their study on iPads, Kindle and other mobile devices, this is increasingly important.  It also is very clean and prints well.  I’m still including links to the scriptures, but I’m going to change the order of my posts and put my Daily Journal at the top and my answers to questions below.  With more personal applications questions in the study this year, I want to move the emphasis of writing to application of the Big God Story and less on my particular answer to question 7b.

I get to work with Level 1 this year, 1st and 2nd grade, and I am very excited.  The faith these young children have and their openness to diving deep into the Word of God always impresses and humbles me.  When God provides the instructors, our Children’s Administrator said we might split and form 2 Level 1 classes.  I know many BSF classes are struggling to fill all levels of their children’s program but it is so exciting to think we have so many Dads wanting to bring their young children that we may need 2 classes.  Praise the Lord.

I’m asking for more dialog this year on this blog, more comments, more questions, more sharing.  We are not trying to duplicate a BSF class, that is not the point.  But God is big and His church is big and we can learn from each other in many ways and through shared experiences.  Thanks for being part of the journey with us.