06.2 BSF Matthew, Week 6, Day 2

Today’s Scriptures

My Daily Journal:

In our discussion this week about moral law, ceremonial law and prophecies foretold I did some digging into the old testament prophecies and found these two great resources:

The first is a side by side list of over 350 old testament prophecies and the corresponding new testament references demonstrating Christ’s fulfillment: 351 Prophecies Fulfilled in Jesus Christ

The second is a “school house rock” style video that demonstrates the probability of any of this just being “chance.”

In particular, today, I was struck by the question about the bible becoming living to me.  When I mechanically do my study, I get the mechanics of the scriptures.  I see the words.  I see the do’s and don’ts and the blessings and the warnings.  But that is all I see.  However, when I pray first and really put my mind and spirit in a time of openness to God’s revelation, I experience God’s word in such a deeper way. For example, in Sunday School recently we discussed Isaac and the blessings to Jacob and Esau (Genesis 26).  Through that study I was struck by the fact that Isaac didn’t just “take back” the blessing that Jacob received and it made me realize none of us can ever truly “take back” words that we speak.  They carry forward with a life of their own.  We can try to explain them, soften them, translate them, but once spoken we can’t unspeak them.  Then, tie that Old Testament lesson to the New Testament lesson this week about knowing the old testament teachings and speaking the truth always.

It brought to mind a good steak.  The old testament is the breed of the animal, the feed that went into it, the aging process, the marinade used, the perfect temperature of the flame, the hand of the experienced chef.  Sure, with out any of that, the steak (new testament) could still be nourishment and something for me to chew on.  But without the old testament I lose the flavor and the full experience that God intended.

My Answers:

3.
a.
Respect and honor.  He did not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.  They are to be practiced and taught.

b.
Through BSF and Sunday School teaching, my love of the old testament has grown in the past few years.  I have too often viewed it as out-dated and difficult – as a rule book that doesn’t apply now.

c.
Begin with prayer.  Ask for Jesus’ help through the Holy Spirit to open my eyes and heart to how these ancient words point to Jesus and how they apply to my life today.

d.
Study of Isaac’s blessing of Jacob and Esau – I am too casual with words, treating them like something I can take back or erase, but that isn’t the case.  Once words are spoken they take on a life of their own and carry weight.

4.
a.
Heb 9:27 die once and then face judgment.  Ephesians 2:9 Not by works, so that no one can boast.  Luke 18:18-27 “you know the commandments…” and “then come follow me.”

b.
Heb 8:7-13 (quoting Jeremiah 31) Jesus is the new covenant, the old is obsolete.  For Christ is the end of the law, that everyone who has faith may be justified” (Rom 10:4), Mark 12: 28-34 – Love God and Neighbor more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices

c.
In many and various ways God spoke of old to our fathers by the prophets, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. (Hebrews 1:1-2)
“Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of me” (Psalm 40:7).
“The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy” (Revelation 19:10).
“…all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me” (Jesus Christ, Luke 24:44)

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02.2 BSF Matthew: Lesson 2, Day 2

Today’s Scriptures

My Daily Journal:

Imagine the shock the Magi must have experienced.  They came from afar to worship the newly born King of the Jews.  They came to the logical place, the seat of power for the Jewish nation, to the royal palace – this is where you would expect the long awaited King to be, right?  But instead they found – disturbed people!  Why wasn’t everyone worshiping this King?  They knew who the Magi were talking about.  Herod himself called together the priests and teachers and asked them “where the Messiah was to be born.”  He knew exactly who the Magi sought.

You would think after all these years of anticipation they would be falling over themselves to meet and worship the Messiah.  But that would have meant letting go of their anticipation.  They were comfortable in anticipation.  They understood it.  They had built entire structures and positions around it.  It was ingrained in their lives, meals, even their calendar.  The messiah showing up would mess all that up!

How we do the same!  We know the love God has for us and the calling He has on our life, but we are comfortable.  We pray for comfort and peace.  For the easy and comfortable path.  God calls us to be bold, to obey no matter what, and to trust that he not only has our back, but also our front and top and sides, inside and out.  But it is hard to let go.

I am praying this year for boldness and obedience.  I don’t know what God has in mind, but I know it is bigger and better than anything I can imagine.  I know there will be “Herod’s” along the way, but God is bigger.

My Answers:

3.
a.
Jesus (born), Magi (came to Jerusalem, asked, saw star, came to worship), Herod (disturbed), All Jerusalem (with Herod), Chief priest & teachers (knew promise of Messiah), Herod (secretive, found exact time of star, sent Magi to Bethlehem, ordered to report back to him, lied)

b.
Jesus is as He always was.  Some who are wise actively seek Him to show honor and praise.  Some, particularly those with power, seek only their own preservation of power, some who are followers, blindly follow the leaders.  Wise men seek the one true Lord.

c.
I am a wise man because I have heard and seen the calling of my Lord and God.  I was lost and blind and I still stumble and fall (way too often).  But, I “get up” and seek to be obedient in honoring my God

4.
a.
Origins from old, from ancient times

b.
come from Judah, from Bethlehem

c.
Ruler over Israel

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.

BSF Genesis: Week 20, Day 2

Today’s Scriptures

Questions

3.
He was obedient to his parents and to God.  He spent time alone with God and trusted in Him.  He was submissive to God’s will even when that will wasn’t immediately clear.

4.
a.
humbly obedient, meek

b.

  • Moses was very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth
  • He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way
  • the meek will inherit the land and enjoy peace and prosperity
  • He crowns the humble with victory
  • Blessed are the meek for they will inherit the earth
  • Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, find rest
  • Beauty of inner self, unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit

c.
My own pride takes away from giving all the glory to God.  I also struggle with fears and worries because I am too proud and stiff necked to release it to God even though I know that is the right thing to do.

My Daily Journal:

The illustration today’s discussion about being meek and humble brought to my mind was that of a knighting ceremony.  Knights were normally highly trained, educated and equipped individuals, prepared to go into battle for their king.  But, becoming a knight was not something someone received by proxy.  It wasn’t a letter or phone call, it was a very personal and up close experience with the king.

In the knighting ceremony, the trained fighter kneels before their king.  The king then takes his sword, not a dull staff, but the sharp sword of the king, and places it on the shoulders of the knight, moving from one shoulder to another.

The knight cannot receive this honor in a stiff-necked posture (they would lose their head, literally).  They must approach the throne in a manner that displays humble obedience and meekness.  They then arose and took on the new garments of their order.

Isn’t this what we are called to as well, just as Isaac was humble and meek?  To receive the blessing of the Word of God, sharper than any two edged sword, we must appear before our King with a humble and meek heart.  To be clothed in the Holy Spirit, we must kneel in prayer and seek forgiveness and cleansing.

BSF Genesis: Week 7, Day 4

Today’s Scriptures

Questions:

9.
a.
God walked with him. spoke to him, revealed his plan, gave specific directions, waited for it to be accomplished, told them to enter ark, shut them in the ark, brought the flood, God remembered Noah, told him when to come out of the ark

b.
walked with him, talked with him, forewarned him (great motivation) and gave him specific instructions – also helped with the animals

c.
Gave me his word, allows me to talk to him daily (and even more frequently), guides my life and give me specific instructions and support through the bible, church, family.

10.
a.
Only Noah and his family knew and then not exact day until one week before it started to rain. In Noah’s day “all the people on earth had corrupted their way” in Matt warning to keep watch implies there is a means of salvation (Christ=Ark, we are invited in)

b.
The one important thing missing is communion with God. Only Noah found favor in God’s eyes. However, there is also no mention of work or service, just self-serving.  Basically, they were doing nothing other than self focus and self interest, nothing that other animals weren’t doing.

c.
Keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come

d.
scoffers say everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation – forgetting judgment by flood that came and ignoring judgment by fire to come

Today’s Journal:

Then the Lord shut him in.

What an interesting sentence to focus on from Gen 7:16.  We often think of being shut in as a negative.  But when battles rage, the protection of a safe shelter is our desire.

Noah built the ark according to God’s design, but only God could seal the deal.  Only God knew the hearts of all other humans to be able to close Noah in and the others out when the rains began to fall.  What a blessing to Noah that it was not up to him, that he didn’t have to choose whether to open the door to allow others in. What a relief of any guilt or regret.

In our life God opens some doors and God closes others.  When we follow God’s will and wait on His timing it is never up to us to open or close the doors, only to seek the path He wants us to walk with Him and go through the doors He has provided.  But we like to plan.  We like to linger in the safe and secure.  We like to go back and relive things.

What doors in your life do you need God’s help in closing?

BSF Genesis: Week 6, Day 4

Today’s Scriptures

Questions:

8.
Enoch walked with God (gen 5:22, 24); Enoch pleased God (Heb 11:5); Enoch made faith in God the basis of his life (Heb 11:5-6); Enoch talked to others about the Lord’s command and warned them that God would judge the ungodly (Jude 14-15)

9.
He didn’t : Hebrews 11:5 “Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death”

10.
a.
All who believe will be lifted up and transformed, will not die (1 Cor 15:51 and 1 Thes 4:17)

b.
If alive, not die; Caught up in the cloud with Jesus; meet Christ F2F; New body; physically and spiritually with the Lord forever

c.
New body – so much of my time and energy is spent on this shell, I’m looking forward to trading up!

My Daily Journal:

Death is not inevitable.  Our existence is so much more than a fatalist “we live and then we die.”  We are ultimately not bound by laws of nature or time.  We are not constrained by our ancestry or the actions of our fathers.  But what truly makes a difference and what truly last are the choices we make.

It is not that all of those things don’t impact and influence us, they do.  But our choice of how we relate to God transcends that and enables us to unite with the divine.

Enoch chose to walk with God for eternity.

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.

BSF Genesis: Week 6, Day 2

Today’s Scriptures

Questions:

3.
a.
Began to call on the name of the Lord

b.
Pray daily and in many settings. Lead prayer and worship with my family and with others. Use God’s name throughout my speech in a positive and praising fashion

4.
a.
Extol at all times, praise always on lips, glory in the Lord letting others hear, done with others (exalt together), seek and He answers, delivers from all fears, look on him and become radiant, not covered with shame, poor man called and Lord heard, saved out of troubles, angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him and he delivers

b.
Look on him and become radiant not covered in shame. We are shameful people. As a christian I am even more aware of my sin and shame. But when I look on the Lord, then others see him and not me.

My Daily Journal:

I liked the discussion of daily habits.  I was reading an book this week that pointed out that it is very rare that we, as humans, have the ability to just “let go” of something.  Instead we are much more successful at grabbing a hold of something else.  With that in mind, it makes me think less of what do I need to quit or remove from my life and more in terms of what new habits I need to form which will replace the bad.

Doing my study daily is a challenge for me (obviously), but that is in part because I haven’t made it a habit.  I don’t have a trigger at which point I do it (like brushing my teeth when I first get up).  I haven’t set a time of day or place.  When I quit smoking I reached out for something else to do with my hands and my mouth.  In my daytime hours I need to substitute other things to do with my mind and my lips.  I need to remove the time thinking about me and substitute it with thoughts about what God wants me to do.  I need to remove the words that give my credit and substitute it with words that praise God.

That can be true of so much of our walk with God.  We try to cram it in to an already packed schedule instead of finding a better balance and order by reaching for it instead.

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 3, Day 4

Today’s Scriptures

Questions:

10.
a.
The fruit that comes from and unites us with God, the divine. The fruit of the spirit and the tree of death (cross) conquered by Jesus to give us everlasting life.

b.
They were prevented from, not allowed to have the choice. To live forever without justice would be eternity apart from God.

c.
Yes, not only to eat of the fruit but believers have been “grafted to the vine”. John 15:5, and thus we also may bear fruit Gal 5:22, We also eat of the fruit of the divine through communion John 4:43

11.
Rom 6: 23: the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord; 1 Peter 2:24: He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed

My Daily Journal:

What does it mean to die?  As anyone who has spent any time pondering the question has concluded, there are things far worse than physical death.  We understand that the time we have on this earth is not even a dot on the timeline of eternity.  We know that our existence in the physical world is a dead end street.

However, we learn that (1) we weren’t created to end and go away and (2) we don’t have to stay on that path.  Yes, our cells and organs and flesh will cease to grow and will die, but we have been given the opportunity to eat and drink in the gift of salvation and to once again unite with our divine creator.  Jesus became man and paid the price of just punishment to buy us back from the choice man originally made and all men since have repeated.  And, he has offered to make us one with Him, for us to “remain in Him and for Him to remain in us (John 6:56).  He offers for us to become the branches of His vine and to live in Him for eternity.

But eternity doesn’t start after we draw our last breath.  In the same way someone turns off a dead end road as soon as they know it dead ends, so to are we given the opportunity to turn off the dead end road of mortal death and onto the path of eternal life.  Why wait to begin living until death – we are called to live in Him now with a well of living water flowing from us daily.