03.5 BSF Matthew: Week 3, Day 5

Today’s Scriptures

My Daily Journal:

Forewarning: At the risk of sounding gross…  Here is an illustration about the different baptisms of John and Jesus and a perspective on why Jesus decided to be baptized:

Imagine you have a sack or bag made out of cotton, like t-shirt material.  You use this sack when “walking your dog” and you use it to pick up the dog poo.  You then carry this bag with you wherever you go, and it gets more and more full every day.

As gross as this sounds to be carrying around, this is what sin is in our life.  Every time we sin, we scoop a little more gross, offensive material in our bag.  That was, in particular, how it was in the time of John the Baptist.  Everyone had sin, everyone had a gross, stinky, porous bag of poo.

John called people to recognize they were carrying this around with them every day and to do something about it.  They couldn’t get rid of it, but by confessing and being baptized they could at least clean the outside of it.  By repenting they could commit to putting less new poo in the bag.

People got the message.  They came from near and far.  But some people (mostly the leaders) were in denial about their bag of poo.  They thought that if their bag was less full than someone else’s, theirs didn’t stink.  Some of them tried to dress up their bag of poo to mask or hide it.  They would dress it up in pretty robes or sprinkle it with perfume.  When they showed up at the river they tried to not even bring their bag of poo with them – pretending it didn’t exist.  But it did.  John caught a strong whiff of it and rebuked them.  He called it what it was!

But here is the deal – John only had the ability to wash the outside of the bag.  Then one day, along comes Jesus and an amazing thing happens.

Jesus, the one and only person ever who did not have a bag of poo (because he had no sin), chose to get in the water.  Imagine what this water (where all the poo bags where being rinsed) was like.  Along comes the King of Kings, perfectly clean, and he made the choice to climb in this filthy water with His subjects, the commoners and all their sin

He chose to take on our filthy rags so that he could “fulfill all righteousness) so we could become clean and enter into His Father’s Palace.  This choice was huge – in many ways just as big if not bigger than being born a human, because this marks the start of His choice to His obedience to the Father’s plan of salvation.  This is the start to the pain and suffering.  This is the start to the path that leads to an undeserved death.

But, in so doing, Jesus is setting the stage for a new baptism.  One that doesn’t just clean the outside in water, but through the blood of His sacrifice, it opened the door to the Holy Spirit to do the work in us of cleaning and purifying us inside and out, transforming us into saints, pure and clean.

“Though your sins are like scarlet,
they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red as crimson,
they shall be like wool.”
- Isaiah 1:18

Like the “wool” of the unblemished Lamb of God.

My Answers:

12.
a.
‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’

b.
The voice of God and the spirit came down as a dove and remained on him

c.
“This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”

13.
a.
Hear the preaching of baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, Come to the river, Confess their sins, be baptized

b.
He had no sins to confess

c.
To fulfill all righteousness – to submit to the plan of God in obedience as fully human to be joined with mankind.
Ps 40:8 I desire to do your will, my God.  Isaiah 11:2 The Spirit of the Lord will rest on Him (as he came out of the waters of baptism)

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03.2 BSF Matthew: Week 3, Day 2

Today’s Scriptures

My Daily Journal:

Perfect Practice.  There is an old saying that practice makes perfect.  But as any coach or personal trainer will tell you, this is not true.  Practicing the wrong golf swing over and over and over again will not make that a perfect golf swing, it will just make you really comfortable with doing it incorrectly.  Practicing playing a piece on the piano with the wrong note over and over makes you really good at playing the wrong note.  It takes perfect practice to lead to perfect.

Perfect practice isn’t exciting.  It doesn’t have lots of conflict or drama.  It is the daily drill and practice of the Armed Forces.  It is the miles trekked by a cross-country runner.  It is hard work.  It is discipline.  But it isn’t much to write about.

This is the life Jesus led.  Every day he faced temptation; temptations that are faced at every age and stage of life.  He was not hidden away, he lived with family, he attended feasts, he interacted with others.  But He did it all without sin.

Jesus’ perfect practice was a practice of perfection.

My Answers:

3.
a.
He grew and became strong, filled with wisdom and grace.  He knew His Father and did His work.  He was obedient, grew in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man

b.
i. perfected through suffering, made high priest to Abraham’s kids
ii. High priest, tempted in every way, yet did not sin
iii. prayed: cries and tears.  Obedient in suffering, perfect, source

c.
He is not a distant, unattached being – He was fully human, a son of Abraham, who was tempted, but did not yield to sin.  His death was not the payment of His sin, it was for ours – Fully obedient to pay the price of disobedience

d.
He was a child, a son, a man.  He had the wisdom and spirit of God, but he had the body fully of a man, suffering temptation, pain, tears,  separation, but always obedient.

02.3 BSF Matthew: Week 2, Day 3

Today’ Scripture

My Daily Journal:

I’ve often thought about the gifts the Magi presented to the Christ child.  I would think about how they presented these very expensive gifts not to receive anything in return – how could they, He was but a child.  While all of that is true, it isn’t the main thing.

I realized in this, they could have stayed home and sent gifts if it was about the gifts.  It wasn’t.  The gifts were nothing but an outward sign.  The important thing was showing up with a worshipful mindset.

This is what God did.  This is what we should do.  God planned this time from the beginning of the world, from the fall of man forward all prophecy pointed to this event.  But he didn’t send in a savior, He showed up and did it himself for His own glory.

Where do I need to show up and be fully present?  Where am I distracted and thinking about other worries, instead of trusting and obeying the one in control.  What am I holding on to instead of being fully present and engaged?

God was all in (fully man/fully God) – why should I think I should do any less than be fully present in serving and worshiping Him?

My Answers:

5.
a.
Boaz redeemed Naomi and Ruth at the threshing floor, Married and bore Obed, grandfather to David who was annointed by Samuel in Bethlehem

b.
Hosea 11:1 – out of Egypt I called my son
Jerimiah 31:15 weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted because they are no more

6.
a.
Jews and Leaders, Romans, all plotted to kill Jesus and eventually did: Matthew 4:6; Luke 13:34; John 8:59; John 10:31; Matthew 12:14; Matthew 26:4; Mark 3:6; Mark 11:18; Mark 14:1; Luke 13:31; Luke 19:47; John 5:18; John 7:1; John 7:25; John 8:37; John 8:40

b.
Many have been persecuted and killed for their faith and work to lead others to Christ.  While in America, we suffer little persecutaion, in other countries people are threatened, persecuted and killed for loving Jesus

c.
My children have experienced more than I have in public school and particularly from teachers (often those in authority).  I feel we are all bombarded with temptation and the world.  Television is so distracting – Our family removed ours and have turned off cable TV all together.  It doesn’t bring glory to God!

7.
a.
To earnestly seek Him, regardless of cost.  To trust in God and study and follow His teaching and signs.  To listen to Him over any others.  When we do this we are rewarded with personal time with our Lord – an amazing gift.

b.

Today’ Scripture

My Daily Journal:

My Answers:

5.
a.
Boaz redeemed Naomi and Ruth at the threshing floor, Married and bore Obed, grandfather to David who was annointed by Samuel in Bethlehem

b.
Hosea 11:1 – out of Egypt I called my son
Jerimiah 31:15 weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted because they are no more

6.
a.
Jews and Leaders, Romans, all plotted to kill Jesus and eventually did: Matthew 4:6; Luke 13:34; John 8:59; John 10:31; Matthew 12:14; Matthew 26:4; Mark 3:6; Mark 11:18; Mark 14:1; Luke 13:31; Luke 19:47; John 5:18; John 7:1; John 7:25; John 8:37; John 8:40

b.
Many have been persecuted and killed for their faith and work to lead others to Christ.  While in America, we suffer little persecutaion, in other countries people are threatened, persecuted and killed for loving Jesus

c.
My children have experienced more than I have in public school and particularly from teachers (often those in authority).  I feel we are all bombarded with temptation and the world.  Television is so distracting – Our family removed ours and have turned off cable TV all together.  It doesn’t bring glory to God!

7.
a.
To earnestly seek Him, regardless of cost.  To trust in God and study and follow His teaching and signs.  To listen to Him over any others.  When we do this we are rewarded with personal time with our Lord – an amazing gift.

b.
To be purposeful in prayer and study.

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!

BSF Genesis: Week 28, Day 5

Today’s Scriptures

Questions:

15.
a.
wept loudly, come close to me, do not be distressed or angry with yourselves – it was to save lives, God did this, tell and bring father, threw his arms around them and wept

b.
embracing, wept, spoke truth and willingness to sacrifice for each other

16.
be truthful and heartfelt.  Forgive and see God’s good in all.

My Daily Journal:

I loved Genesis 45:1.

We have talked over the past few weeks about the parallels between Joseph and Christ and how, in many ways, Joseph was a foreshadowing pointing to Christ.  I think we see that so strongly in verse 1.

I’m a dad and there are times I need to use my dad voice and make decisions that, while not necessarily popular, are in the best interests of my family.  I have to discipline my children and allow them to make mistakes even when I know they are mistakes.  My natural desire is to protect them, to help them, to do for them and provide for them.  But for them to grow and learn, I have to control that nature and allow them to experience and learn.

In Genesis 45:1, we see how God has placed that same “control” for Joseph to direct with his brothers.  Then, Joseph could control himself no longer and we see the heart of God that beat inside Joseph pour out.  What did he do when he was “out of control”?  He poured out love.  He poured out tears of joy.  He poured kisses upon his brothers.  He hugged them. He forgave them.  He told them about God.  He told them not to condemn themselves.  He provided a new home for them.  He provided everything they would need for themselves, their children, their grandchildren.  He commanded them to reunite the entire family.

So, what does your “out of control” look like?

BSF Genesis: Week 25, Day 3

Today’s Scriptures

Questions:

6.
a.
13. they were deceitful, v25, Simeon and Levi killed every male in the city.  28 they looted the city 29 they carried off the women

b.
Took matters into their own hands.  No mention of prayer or reliance on God.  The diminished the value of the covenant by using it as a trap for others.  They twisted it from something holy into something useful.

c.
They were angered on behalf of their sister.  Yes, I am protective of my family and feel hatred to those who harm them.

d.
do not repay evil with evil, do what is right, do not take revenge, trust in God to exercise His wrath

7.
a.
He did not trust their judgment, believing them quick to act in a state of anger.  He chastised them for “bringing trouble on me by making me obnoxious to the Canaanites and Perizzites

b.
Should he have treated our sister like a prostitute?

8.
Am I controlled by God and faith or by my emotions?  Where am I unwilling to wait to receive rightfully what I want and desire.

My Daily Journal:

So, I have to admit, my first inclination is to be more like Simeon and Levi than Jacob.  If someone hurts a member of my family like this, I would want to do them harm.  Clearly, though, Simeon and Levi crossed the line.  Any one would be very hard pressed to explain how looting the city and carrying off the women from this city in any way was done to bring honor to their sister.

But, as we work through this lesson and, in particular, the Romans 12:17-21 passage, it helped me realize how my first reaction (and that of Simeon and Levi) was allowing my emotions to rule me and not my faith.

Here is one way to look at it.  I’m this big (think very small) and God is that big (think very big).  Hamor and Shechem sinned against Dinah, but, even more so, they sinned against God, because any sin upon His people is a sin against Him.  So, if I’m the deliverer of vengence onto the wrong-doer, it is like a tiny child disciplining them with a toothpick and standing in the way of a very big God using a club.

I simply do not need to be in the middle of it.  I need to show the joy and blessing of the saving work of Jesus, offered to me while I was still a sinner and, which is also offered to anyone else who sins against God, as well, who repents and seeks to be saved.  If they do not make that choice, then God says He has it covered and I need to trust that His righteous wrath and punishment is far more significant than anything I would dispense.

BSF Acts: Week 11, Day 1

The Notes:

What is the greatest sin?  What is the chief sin someone can commit? Not that sin is ever “great”, but if we were to think about sin on a scale, like we do breaking human law, we think of some as misdemeanors and some as felonies.  Like the difference between saying a curse word in anger or murdering someone. 

So it opened my eyes in the notes when it said, “refusal to believe God is the chief sin.”  At first I thought, really?  Doubting the bible compared to abusing a child – no comparison, right?  But then I realized the second only happens after the first.  God is evident in all of creation.  At least where we live there is no one who has not had some exposure to God.  Granted, it may have been a very inaccurate representation by someone who may have been CINO (Christian in name only).  But, even then, I doubt there is anyone who thinks the bible condones any of the horrific crimes that are committed.  So, to commit any other crime, frankly any other sin, is to first refuse to believe God.

God’s word is alive, it is active.  When you read the scriptures and God’s absolute intolerance for disobedience and sin, it cuts, sharply, to the bone.  When you understand that there is absolutely nothing hidden from God, no action, to intention, no thought – the only way you fall into sin is to not believe God. 

Maybe He wasn’t really serious about that stuff?  Maybe He doesn’t care if I sin a little – everybody does, right?  Maybe He won’t notice.  Maybe He expects me to faultier.  What a bunch of _____.  (It probably wouldn’t be good in this rant to fill in that word, eh?)

This was a difficult couple of chapters for me.  But, I so appreciate the message that flows throughout these challenging verses.  God’ promise of rest.  God’s welcoming invitation to fellowship with Him.  God’s gift to come down, suffer, to die.  What am I, just a man.  What is a man? And here is where it gets interesting.  By becoming a brother to Jesus through His grace of coming down to be lower than the angels with us, we become part of His family and, as such, holy. 

What better day is there than today to stop disbelieving and start being holy?  (struggling with that last line?  I understand, but I don’t see any other way to read Hebrews 2:11)

BSF Acts: Week 9, Day 1

I’m struggling with the word “offend” that popped up again in the notes (it was in the children’s lesson, too).  I think it is the wrong word.  The statement is that christians should not offend other christians.  In the notes it states that christians should avoid that which offends.

I agree wholeheartedly that we should not present ourselves or conduct ourselves in a manner that would cause undue focus or distraction to a fellow believer.  That is why we generally don’t show up at church unshowered and unshaven.  Not only would it be disrepectful to God, but it would be a distraction to others.  We tend not to eat many cute, cuddly pets and it would likely cause a distraction to dine with a fellow believer who did. 

But I think the avenue of “not offending” is too often  used by satanic forces to hurt the church.  Too often it is misconstrued as you can’t point out anything I am doing wrong because it might offend me.  We take on an attitude of “let it be” and let things that are scripturally wrong be taught and promoted in our churches, because “we don’t want to offend people.”

When Peter was in error, Paul wasted no time in confronting him.  The notes point out that the error was public and, as such, the rebuke needed to be as well.  I don’t think Paul took any concern in offending Peter.

That is why I loved the beginning of the notes when it quotes 2 Timothy 4: 3-4, “For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4 They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.”

We do not want to be offensive or cause others to sin or be distracted by anything we do.  However, I believe we should never let a concern over offending get in the way of defending the truth of the Word of God.

BSF Acts Study: Week 8, Day 1

2. My take-away from the notes this week was about ways that the local church is built and strengthened.  When I think of mission work, either local or away from home, I think mostly about doing works or building relationships to spread the word of the Lord.  Clearly, that is a major emphasis and we have seen Paul and Barnabas doing that everywhere they went.  But that is only the first step.  For that seed to take root it must be nurtured.  I found the discussion on page 4 about strengthening, preparing, uniting and committing the new believers into local churches very informative and good food-for-thought.    I had not thought about it before, but to realize that these new gentile believers were not welcome in the synagogues (the normal place for discussions about God), and as a result a new structure of house churches was being created even as the good news was being spread.  I also thought it was interesting to think about how Paul and Barnabas strengthened their home church in Antioch with the stories about their trip.  I had thought about their time back at the church as a way for them to re-energize and rest, but hadn’t thought about how powerful and inspiring their tales would be to the believers in the local church.