BSF Genesis: Week 20, Day 5

Today’s Scriptures

Questions:

11.
25:23, Two nations are in your womb,    and two peoples from within you will be separated;one people will be stronger than the other, and the older will serve the younger.”

12
a.
He sought to give his blessing over to Isaac in secret

b.
He sought to place the blessing onto his favored son, not the one God chose.  In Chapter 28 he again blesses Isaac, without any deceit involved and sends him to get a wife from a tribe of believers.

13.
a.
Obedient, but had same ditches to trip in as did his father.  He is noted as praying, meditating and trusting in God.  He loved one son over another.  He was blessed by God.

b.
Time with God, trusting and obeying Him leads to blessings to bring honor to God

c.
Know our inherited weaknesses and don’t trip

My Daily Journal:

I was struck by the way the joy of the Lord overflows into answering our prayers and questions.  Rebekah asked, what is going on in my womb.  God could have answered, you are having twins.  But, He didn’t stop there.  He doesn’t talk just about what is going on right now, but tells her about the future and His plans as well.

That abundant answer to simple questions is evident throughout the bible.  God’s answer to prayer over and over again is “I am executing the plan to bring my Son to save you.”  We pray and focus on today’s challenges.  God answers those, but also the bigger picture.

Illustration:  you are ship wrecked in the middle of the ocean, adrift on debris and you have a hangnail.  You pray to God about your hangnail.  He answers and helps comfort you, but also reminds you that He is sending the boat to rescue you from the sea. (Disclaimer: I am not trying to equate the pain of carrying twins with a hangnail… Just an illustration of the temporal versus the eternal).

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BSF Acts: Week 24, Day 5: Ephesians 5:22–6:9

Questions:

12. At the center is love, and not just any love, but the love like Christ had to sacrifice all for those He loved.  Christ became fully man.  A man invests himself fully in his wife, holding nothing back.  This isn’t 50/50 it is “all in”

13. How often my first thought is “I want them to” or “I need them to” whether at home, work or even church.  When my focus is on receiving I cannot be focused on giving or loving.

Thoughts:

There is a very significant call to husbands in these verses.  I think, too often, people get stuck on the wives submit to your husbands line.  But the expectation and call that is placed on husbands is hugely significant, and goes hand in hand with this statement to wives.  Verses 25 and 26 state, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy…” This isn’t a theoretical I would be willing to die for my wife sentiment.  (I would catch a grenade for you, fall on a blade for you – sorry, broke into song there for a minute.)  This is a decision to love so much that you step down from every right and honor that might be due to you for the purpose of loving and serving and building up another to make her holy, clean, without stain or wrinkle.  It is not, what would you do, but what have you done and what are you willing to do every day.  As a husband, how much of your time and life is focused on yourself.  If we choose to marry we are judged by the holiness of our household.

Do men know how to love like that?  Only through Christ and only through examples of God-fearing men in the church.  This is not something promoted by society, culture or schools.  But it is what is right and true.

I love my wife and I find that my love for her grows deeper the more I learn of the bible.  I can see so many ways that God is working in her life and it is easier and more natural for me to give thanks for the blessings I see flowing through her even more so than in my own life.

And Paul doesn’t stop with husbands and wives.  He included instructions for children and parents, particularly fathers:  Don’t exasperate your children.  What an interesting verb: Irritate intensely; infuriate.  How do fathers irritate and infuriate their children?  how do they fail them? When they fail to “bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”  Children want to do what is right, but how do they learn and know – only when the parents provide opportunities for them to learn.

The same principles apply in those we work with.  Never forget, we all report to the same boss, the same Lord and master and He does not play favorites because of any earthly positions.

BSF Acts: Week 24, Day 3: Ephesians 4:9–16

Questions:

6. Apostles: founders, leaders, backbone of church;  prophets: speakers of God’s unwritten truth, listen and tell His direction;  evangelists: Going forth to spread the good news to those who have not heard or do not understand; pastors: shepherds of a local flock of believers; teacher: those who explain and encourage believers in the word of God

7. By preparing God’s people for works of service we build up (strengthen) the body.  We do this through bringing people to faith, teaching, supporting, helping structure local places and practices, so they can do the work that God has called them to do with the skills and knowledge passed on by the holy spirit through the church

8.

a. As we mature in faith, Christ’s dwelling in us increases up to the full measure.  This fullness anchors us, like a rock in a bag, so that we are not tossed about by false teaching, whims, deceit, cunning and craftiness

b. By doing the work in my head to grow the spirit’s home in my heart.  He brings strength and weight and an anchor to my life – a firm foundation in Christ

9.

a. Talk more about God and specifically what the Lord is doing or what I am asking Him to do.

b. This is not an argument, it is prayer.  We speak the truth in love more by actions than words

c. Study and prayer.  I need to work to remove the hoarding in my temple so God can dwell fully

d. Flex, but don’t break.  Bend to reach out to others as God, in grace, bent down to save me.

Discussion:

Let’s look deeper at 4:11 and 12.  “It was He who gave some to be…”  the offices of the church and the people who serve in them are commissioned and selected, i.e., called by God.  While we may have processes in place to identify and select people for certain jobs in the church, our efforts should be directed to affirm God’s calling.  When it comes to leadership in the body of believers, God has already decided who is going to do what, we just need to listen prayerfully to His choices.

“some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers”  Depending on how you count the last, this is either 4 or 5 distinct jobs in the church.  We often expect our leaders to be able to “do it all.”  But Christ calls people to different roles.  Now, it may be that He calls one person to different roles at different times in life, but we should expect that He has identified specific people at a specific time to serve in each of these specific roles within a body of believers.

“to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up.”  Newsflash: the purpose of church is not entertainment.  Even if we are not called into one of the 4 or 5 offices of the church, we are still called to do works of service so that the body of Christ may be built up.  We are in the construction business, not the demolition business.  Our work of service is to get underneath people and lift them up.  God lays a new foundation under them – puts a new structure on the outside of them (new creation) all while filling them up with all new insides (the spirit) and, by grace, he let’s us play a part in that service.

At the BSF conference we were encouraged to learn about some of the heretical teaching of our day, to read some of the popular books that deny everything from the existence of heaven to the virgin birth to many other truths of scripture.  As I’ve read the books, what I have found is shoddy workmanship.  Rather than building to code, they are like bad builders who want to cut corners.  It sounds like a bargain at first, but then you see the cracks, the paint peels, the floor boards come loose, the roof like and the air conditioning doesn’t work.  I don’t want help from these builders – I want help from someone who follows building code standards – and, for a Christian life, those are all printed in one place, the bible.

BSF Acts: Week 24, Day 2: Ephesians 4:1–8

Questions:

3. Live (i.e., do the work God designed for us to do, not be idle or spectators of life), be completely humble and gentle, be patient, make every effort to keep the unity of the spirt through the bond of peace (Christ is peace)

4. the unity of the spirt through the bond of peace

b. Eph 2:14 says, “He (Christ) himself is our peace.”  So unity with the spirit through peace is being in Christ and the Spirit in us – united.  We keep unity with others through the work of the spirit, not by anything we craft or do: We should pray to live life each day as God designed with the work He designed in advance for us to do through the power of the Sprit in us in communion with the saints (fellow believers) in His church.

c. According to Samuel Taylor Coleridge (Shakespearean Criticism, 1930), Organic Unity “is innate; it shapes as it develops itself from within and the fullness of its development is one and the same with the perfection of its outward form. ” Organic unity is the unifying thread that makes all the parts come together, from the inside out, joined in one form so that everything is unified.  In the bible this is reflected in 1 Chor 1:12: “The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ.”

Organizational Conformity is outward in.  It is a set of norms and rules, goals and missions that are shared and observed but each part of the organization does not change within.  In scripture Christ observed organization conformity in Matt 22:21a: “Give to caesar what is caesar’s.” Also in Heb 13:17a “Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account.”

d. To remember that the design of the church is to live in communion with man and God.  We should learn and teach, support, pray and work in unity with the spirit not being divisive or burdensome but loving and true.

5.

  1. one body: One church, not many churches, one as the bride of Christ to serve as he commands
  2. one spirit: A single entity (God) indwelling within all believers.  Not different spirits in us, but one spirit in all.
  3. one hope: The thing all believers long for is the same, to be reunited forever with our savior in God’s kingdom
  4. one Lord: We all serve the same Lord and master, not different Kings with different rules and privileges
  5. one faith: We believe in the same thing – Christ has died, Christ is Risen, Christ will come again.
  6. one baptism: We have all been washed completely clean of our sins through grace – no difference, all pure/white
  7. one God: The alpha and omega – there is only one God and Father of all.  He is consistent and true.

 

Additional Thoughts:

I thought this was an exciting segment to dive deep into and I loved the questions today.  First and foremost, we are called to “live life.”  I think we forget that sometimes and let life live us.  We go through the motions of another day.  We plop down in front of the TV to be fed stuff (that is the polite word) largely developed by others who do not share similar standards for not causing another to stumble.  Even at church we show up to be entertained or to “get something out of it”.  Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing against being fed, rested, inspired or even entertained, but those are inputs that should enable us to live.  They are filling stations, not the final destination.

I attended one of the BSF seminars this past week and the Assistant Teaching Leader really highlighted how the seminars are designed to fit into the structure of BSF.  Our groups and daily lessons are designed to feed and equip us, to grow, to share fellowship, to pray for each other, to learn and study.  The seminars are designed to help prepare us to do something with all of that and take it out into the world.  I thought that was great perspective and it was a really good seminar to help lead a small group in a bible study.

BSF Acts: Week 23: Lecture

Aim: God has a purpose for me and for you

Why?  Why?  Why?  We love to ask that question.

Why do I have to?  Why did you?  Why did that happen?  Why didn’t that happen?  Why am I here?  Why do bad things happen to good people?  Why do bad people do well?  Why? Why?

But, so often we approach that question not really wanting an answer we just want to gripe and complain.  But, here is the answer, even when we are only fake asking:  Why?  Because it is part of God’s plan. Period.

Now, we may not always understand God’s plan and we sometimes may not like God’s plan, but who do you think is better at a making a plan?  Us or God?

Let’s look at how He communicated this to the Ephesian church through Paul:

1st Division: Eph 2: 1-10 We are made alive through faith in Christ

Principle: God has work for us to do

Illustration: Our job is to work – that is what it means to have a job – that is what it means to have purpose – that is part of the answer to the question “why?”  The work we do is not to earn something (wages or favor), it is simply what members of the family do.  In your family you have jobs.  They are not things others need you to do – let’s face it, your parents have far more experience and skill at doing most of the things than you do and sometimes they could do them faster than having you do them.  (sorry to burst your bubble).  But, if you do not participate, you are not part of the family – see that word participate – it starts with “part” and means you have to do your part.  If you don’t you aren’t.  God gives us work so we can be part-icipants in His family.

Applications: Are you doing work to be a part or to get something special?  Are you doing work gratefully or grudgingly?  What is God asking you to do but you are denying or hesitating?

2nd Division: Eph 2:11-3:13 Christ provides unity for believers

Principle: Christ’s church was a mystery

Illustration: Have you ever seen a magic trick?  A magic trick is kind of like a mystery.  To people on the stage, there is  no mystery, they know what, when and how everything happens.  But to people that choose to just sit and watch, they don’t understand, it is unclear.  The difference is perspective and revelation.  Jesus revealed to Paul the mystery.  God revealed it to Paul, Peter, Isaiah, etc. etc.  There was no lack of information.  But there were lots of people who chose to view things from their comfy seats in the audience.

The church of Christ – Jews and Gentiles, was always God’s plan.  It is not, “for God so loved the Jews”  God loved the world – and, thank God, because otherwise we would not be on the stage and part of the show!

Application:  Are you curious or just wanting to be entertained?  Have you made up your mind or do you continue to ask and learn?

3rd Division: Eph 3:14-21 Paul’s prayer for Ephesus

Principle: God is glorified through His power in His church (you and me)

Illustration:

“Filled to the measure of all the fullness of God”.  What an interesting statement.  It is easy to pass over because at first glance it sounds common.  I’m old enough to remember my dad pulling up to the filling station.  ding, ding.  The station attendant jogged out and my dad would say, “fill ‘er up with ethyl.”  But, wait a minute – while that is where this verse starts, it actually says more.  Let’s take a deeper look.

In greek, the first filled is the word πληρόω plēroō, (strongs G4137).  This literally means to fill it as full as is possible – that another drop would over flow, that another grain would fall off.  Literally that there can be no more.

Now, most of us would look at that and say – filled is filled. Anything over filled is spilled and wasted, right?

But Paul doesn’t go there.  He goes on to say filled to all the fullness of God.  The second fullness is πλήρωμα plērōma (strongs G4138).  In the New Testament verses, this word takes on additional meaning: the body of believers, as that which is filled with the presence, power, agency, riches of God and of Christ.  In particular, it is the same word used in Colossians 2:9, “For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form”.

See, even in this seemingly simple verse Paul is continuing to emphasize this important message.  He doesn’t want us to be filled in accordance with what our earthly selves can hold.  He is praying that we are filled to the fullness that Christ in us can hold – He is praying that we are filled with the fullness of the Deity in bodily form – He is praying that we are filled not to the level we can manage but to the level God can manage, not with human limits but with holy limits (are there holy limits or is it limitless?)

But what a contrast that is to how I think – I think that I have a tank that holds a certain amount, just like the tank on our car.  Filling it any fuller just would overflow on the ground and be wasted.  But I am no longer just me when I am a Christian.  I am no longer just me when I am a Christian.  (that repetition was on purpose – don’t make me say it a third time :-) ). I am the church.  I am the body of Christ.  I am the body of believers.  I am the power, agency and riches of God and of Christ.  I am limitless in God’s eyes.

Application: How are you asking God to fill you up?

BSF Acts: Week 23, Day 5: Ephesians 3:14–21

Questions

13. a. Strength through his spirit, power to grasp the magnitude of the love of Christ

b. My co-leader when he is instructing the children.  I can sense and hear the holy spirit speaking through him.  It is someone who gives up themselves to be filled by the spirit to share the word of God and reveal His love to others.

14. How I underestimate and under utilize God’s power.  My approach is to pray to God to have an earthmover standing by just in case my shovel breaks.

Additional Thoughts:

“Filled to the measure of all the fullness of God”.  What an interesting statement.  It is easy to pass over because at first glance it sounds common.  I’m old enough to remember my dad pulling up to the filling station.  ding, ding.  The station attendant jogged out and my dad would say, “fill ‘er up with ethyl.”  But, wait a minute – while that is where this verse starts, it actually says more.  Let’s take a deeper look.

In greek, the first filled is the word πληρόω plēroō, (strongs G4137).  This literally means to fill it as full as is possible – that another drop would over flow, that another grain would fall off.  Literally that there can be no more.

Now, most of us would look at that and say – filled is filled. Anything over filled is spilled and wasted, right?

But Paul doesn’t go there.  He goes on to say filled to all the fullness of God.  The second fullness is πλήρωμα plērōma (strongs G4138).  In the New Testament verses, this word takes on additional meaning: the body of believers, as that which is filled with the presence, power, agency, riches of God and of Christ.  In particular, it is the same word used in Colossians 2:9, “For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form”.

See, even in this seemingly simple verse Paul is continuing to emphasize this important message.  He doesn’t want us to be filled in accordance with what our earthly selves can hold.  He is praying that we are filled to the fullness that Christ in us can hold – He is praying that we are filled with the fullness of the Deity in bodily form – He is praying that we are filled not to the level we can manage but to the level God can manage, not with human limits but with holy limits (are there holy limits or is it limitless?)

But what a contrast that is to how I think – I think that I have a tank that holds a certain amount, just like the tank on our car.  Filling it any fuller just would overflow on the ground and be wasted.  But I am no longer just me when I am a Christian.  I am no longer just me when I am a Christian.  (that repetition was on purpose – don’t make me say it a third time :-)). I am the church.  I am the body of Christ.  I am the body of believers.  I am the power, agency and riches of God and of Christ.  I am limitless in God’s eyes.

Fill ‘er up! Amen.

BSF Acts: Week 23, Day 4: Ephesians 3:1–13

Questions:

11. a. Through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.

b. God’s purpose to bring all things together under Christ, all as one body all share the same promise – that Christ is in us and we are in Christ and able to approach God with freedom and confidence. – also given specifically to Peter by revelation (Acts 11:1-18), and it is consistent with prophecy in the Old Testament (such as Isaiah 49:6) and the specific words of Jesus (Acts 1:8)

12. That regardless of how much I and them might feel there is an un-crossable chasm, God has purposed that we will be joined together and that, in truth, we already are in Him if we both believe and profess.  No matter the barrier (pain, disagreement, wrong, anger), it was destroyed on the cross.

Final Thoughts:

Let’s discuss the word mystery.  What an interesting word.  For most of us, it brings to mind Sherlock Holmes and deductive reasoning.  But in the context here it is actually a much simpler meaning.

As a visual reference, think about a door frame in your house.  On one side of the door frame is the answer to all of lives big questions (why am I here, where did I come from, what is everything all about, is there a God, what happens to us after we die, etc., etc.).  From where you stand you can see people gazing up at the wall above the door, but on your side it is just painted wall.  You see them living differently.  You see them dropping to their knees.  You see them loving and sacrificing everything worldly for the message.

But, here’s the thing that makes it a mystery.  You can’t understand it, you can’t know it without passing through the doorway and, you can only pass through the doorway by accepting that it is where the answer lies.  Once you are through, you can’t imagine not knowing ever again.

This is the mystery of faith – it is shielded on the other side of the door, but by crossing through the door (Christ) we have already received all of the blessings of God.  The words on the wall are not the critical element, although they are of help and benefit and growth to us – crossing through the doorway is the what it is all about.

In the Roman Catholic faith there is a great element of the order of mass related to this:

Priest:  Let us proclaim the mystery of faith: 
All
AChrist has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.

Doxology and Great Amen:
Priest
:  Through him, with him, and in him, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all glory and honor is yours, almighty Father, for ever and ever.

For the first to have meaning we must step through the door.  When we step through the door we accept Christ and realize everything is about him: through him, with him, in him.  The entire reason for everything pivots around Jesus.