27.3 BSF Matthew Week 27, Day 3

Today’s Scriptures

My Daily Journal:

There is an old saying about not being able to see the forest because all of these trees are in the way.  That was the challenge for the high priests.  Their day-to-day reality was that of a nation living in the presence of a more powerful occupying army.  They were the religious leaders, but also the leaders of real, flesh and blood people and families all of a shared ancestry and nationality.  They lead, but they did not have power or authority.  That, in their view, belonged to Rome.

To set the stage for our study today, we really need to step back in time to John 11.  This is the story about Jesus coming at the call or Mary and Martha and then calling Lazarus out from the tomb.  He raised him from the dead in the presence of lots and lots of witnesses right outside of Jerusalem.  Picking this up in John 11 starting in verse 45: ”

45 Therefore many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary, and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him. 46 But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. 47 Then the chief priests and the Pharisees called a meeting of the Sanhedrin.

“What are we accomplishing?” they asked. “Here is this man performing many signs. 48 If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our temple and our nation.”

49 Then one of them, named Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, spoke up, “You know nothing at all! 50 You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish.”

51 He did not say this on his own, but as high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the Jewish nation, 52 and not only for that nation but also for the scattered children of God, to bring them together and make them one. 53 So from that day on they plotted to take his life.

 

See, this is the story within the story – the trees within the forest.  Never does the high priest, whether the puppet master (Annas) or the current high priest (Caiaphas), ever contradict Jesus.  Their words and actions do not once deny that He is the Messiah, the Son of the Living God.  They do not say that this man, Jesus, is not the messiah.  Jesus points out that their words and actions actually do the opposite.  Matt 26:63-64, “Tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God.”  “You have said so,” Jesus replied.

Maybe they had doubts.  Maybe they didn’t want to believe.  Maybe their hearts were hardened.  Maybe they could not picture this man standing in front of them being the same one who would come on a cloud.  But I think as much as anything, in their little world, it simply didn’t matter if Jesus was the Messiah.  He wasn’t going to set them free from Rome.  If He kept going, Rome was simply going to come in and take away their temple and their nation and where would they be then?  In their world, it was better that one innocent man die than risk that happening.

It just so happened that their solution (Jesus’ death) and God’s solution (Jesus’ death) coincided.  But their plans ended in death and Jesus’ plans did not.  He had already shown, with Lazarus, his power over death.  His viewpoint of the forest was one from the vantage point of heaven and eternity.

My Answers:

5.
a.
Annas

b.
the father in law of Caiaphas

6.
a.
(1) false witnesses, “I am able to destroy temple and rebuild”, no answer? (2) oath, are you God? you say so (3) spit, strike

b.
made plans how to have Jesus executed, bound Him, led Him to Pilate

7.
a.
The son of man coming with the clouds of heaven – the one with authority, glory, power, worshiped, dominion

b.
It is a transition from Jesus work on earth to His glory in heaven. Their words and actions have led to prophecy fulfilled.

c.
He was the one, the Messiah, the Son of Man spoken of in prophecy – not blasphemy if true

27.2 BSF Matthew Week 27, Day 2

Today’s Scriptures

My Daily Journal:

A large crowd had made its way to Jerusalem for celebration of the passover.  They had begun arriving the week before.  5 days before Jesus had been all the buzz and a large crowd had gone out to find him at the dinner at Lazarus’ house.  This was when Mary had anointed Jesus with the perfume.  4 days before Jesus had ridden into Jerusalem to the cheers of the crowd.  Hosanna!  Blessed is the King of Israel.  Tonight they show up as an armed mob with torches and clubs and betrayal and hatred on their lips. Tomorrow they will be screaming for his execution in the most brutal and demeaning manner possible.

What did Jesus do in less than 4 days time that went from triumphant and joyful arrival to rejection and hatred of him?  It isn’t what He did that was the problem.  It is what He didn’t do.  He didn’t change who He was to become who they wanted him to be.

God is immutable.  Unlike the crowd and popular opinion, He doesn’t change; never has, never will, and we humans get frustrated by that.  Why doesn’t God…?  How can God….?  That… may have been true back then but we know….

Our challenge today is the same challenge of that day.  All too often the basis of our perception of God is in what we think or what we have been told rather than what the bible actually says.  According to a 2013 research study by the Barna Group, more Americans had read Twilight, the Hunger Games and 50 Shades of Grey than had read the bible cover to cover.  Of those who do read the bible only 26% read it regularly with 57% touching it less than 4 times per year.  Yet, we have no limit to our opinions about who God is and how He should behave and what He would or should say!

Beware of crowds.  Beware of the “wisdom of our age”.  Beware of popular opinion.  Beware of your own strength and your own opinion.  There is only one place in which to place your trust, one source that will last beyond both earth and heaven because it is true and unchanging: the word of our Lord.

We are quickly approaching the end of our study of Matthew – what will you do this summer to not fall into temptation?

My Answers:

3.
a.
Peter

b.
battle between the large crowd with sword and clubs and the handful of apostles

c.
Jesus had outlined what would happen – He was in control, but Peter was in denial of that control over the situation

d.
mostly in the form of worry and stress. They don’t yield results but submitting to God does

4.
a.
betrayed with a kiss, captured with swords and clubs, deserted by apostles

b.
attackers drew back and fell to the ground

c.
let these men go, I have not lost one of those you gave me, healed the man’s ear

d.
shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?

26 BSF Matthew Week 26, Day 5

Today’s Scriptures

My Daily Journal:

Jesus made the choice to be killed on the cross.  It wasn’t forced on Him.  It wasn’t a surprise.  He made the choice to yield completely to His Father’s will.  And the fulfillment of that will was for His death and resurrection.

But that did not mean Jesus ran blindly into the fray.  He worked incredibly hard to ensure He stayed firmly in the will of Abba, Father.  He prayed intensely.  Not trying to change God.  Not trying to make a deal or to get out of something.  He prayed to completely and clearly understand God’s timing.

The scriptures imply that He prayed for approximately an hour at a time, with 3 trips.  Each time He asked a question and He listened, intensely.  I don’t have any issue asking God questions, but I struggle to listen.  My mind wanders, my stomach grows, my knees ache, and I get distracted.  The spirit is willing but the body is weak.

How can we follow Christ’s example?  We can bring a friend for support.  We can find a quiet place away from the normal situations of life.  We can be focused and keep it simple.  We can not negotiate but concentrate on being fully in God’s will.

There is peace in prayer, a peace that comes not from our own understanding, but comes from submission to God’s design.

 

My Answers:

11.
a.
joy, life, self-determination/will, justice, reputation, Enough!

b.
watch and pray so you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. Still sleeping? The hour has com

c.
distress, despair, a branch bending completely to the will of the Father but not breaking

12.
Abba, everything is possible with you, “couldn’t you keep watch 1 hour?” withdrew about a stone’s throw, knelt down, angel appeared and strengthened Him, prayed more earnestly and his sweat was like drops of blood falling, exhausted from sorrow

13.
a.
Abba, everything is possible with you, “couldn’t you keep watch 1 hour?” withdrew about a stone’s throw, knelt down, angel appeared and strengthened Him, prayed more earnestly and his sweat was like drops of blood falling, exhausted from sorrow

26 BSF Matthew Week 26, Day 4

Today’s Scriptures

My Daily Journal:

I love Peter because I can see my own dimwitted self reflected in his approach to things.  I have no doubt of his immense love and admiration for Jesus.  I have no doubt that he recognized, through the power of the holy spirit, who Christ was, just as it is written in the scriptures.  But he gets in his own way.

Basically he says, I know you are the Christ, the Son of the Living God, Creator of all, All-Knowing, All-Powerful, Eternal, but, uh, you’re wrong.  I know better than you do.

Jesus didn’t ask them, he told them what would happen.  But instead of accepting this and using this knowledge as strength, Peter jumps into denial.  In his journal down the river of denial he and the other apostles miss the promise of a risen Lord to meet with them in Galilee.  They want to take up arms to prevent this from happening.  While they think they will raise up arms to be standing for Jesus, they in fact are standing in direct opposition to the words and promise he has just made.  This is not a surprise to Jesus.  He is not a victim.  He knows who, what, when, where, why and how.  There is no mystery.  There is simply a gift.

How often do I argue with God?  Every time I insist on doing things my way first, I tell Him I know better.  Every time I rely on myself more than on Him, I yield to temptation.

But, there is one other amazing part in these verses and that is Jesus prayer for Peter in Luke 22:32 – “But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”  Temptation and testing is not something to just be endured and survived, it is something that strengthens us so that we can strengthen others.  Like exercise, it may tear us down and wear us out temporarily, but when we heal, we heal stronger.

My Answers:

8.
a.
Contradicted Jesus – Convicting that I will never fall away while simultaneously doubting Jesus’ word

b.
33. Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will

c.
Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you (other disciples agreed)

9.
a.
i.
There are no surprises – Satan is only allowed to tempt/test God’s people as God allows

ii.
Self confidence will not prevail, only trust in the Lord

iii.
Prays for us and directs us to use strength given through trials

b.
Reluctance to be a cheerful giver has given me insight into understanding the traps of “wealth management”

10.
a.
you will all fall away on account of me

b.
After I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee

26 BSF Matthew Week 26, Day 3

Today’s Scriptures

My Daily Journal:

From the beginning of time God had designed the feast of passover to be a forebearing of the gift of salvation and life through His son.  The chief priests and elders were plotting to murder Jesus, “but not during the festival.”  However, there plans were no mystery to Christ and their timing was not how things were to be.

For them passover had become a meal and a time of reflection of looking back.  We do this today with our own feasts and celebrations.  We prepare for weeks for a big party or to host a big dinner and then we just want to crash, to take a nap.

But that wasn’t what passover was supposed to be about.  Yes, it was a time of remembrance, but they were to remember the entire thing.  Look at Exodus 12:11 – This is how you are to eat it: with your cloak tucked into your belt, your sandals on your feet and your staff in your hand. Eat it in haste; it is the Lord’s Passover.  The passover meal wasn’t the ending.  The day of passover wasn’t the goal.  It was the doorway that was to be passed through to enter freedom and salvation, to live as a people set apart for God.  It is a time of looking forward to the promise.

That is also the message of the cross.  Jesus’ death at passover wasn’t an ending, it was an opening of a doorway.  We can get so busy and focuses on the event and the meal that we, too, can forget, when the sun rises we are to be ready to go out into the world and proclaim the good news of freedom.

My Answers:

6.
a.
Passover

b.
Final Egypt plague, death of first born, the angel of death passed over the household’s marked with lamb’s blood

c.
perfect lamb, without blemish, family/community, killed at twilight (not sunset), hyssop branches used to paint blood over door (same branches used to give vinegar to Jesus), that night judgment brought upon all false gods, households saved by the blood of the lamb

7.
a.
Luke: He took, gave thanks, broke it, gave it, “body given for you, remember, cup new cov. blood, for U.
John: I am living bread, eat and live forever, unless you remember you have no life, but do and live
1Pete1: precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect
1Pete2: He himself bore our sins, might die to sin, live in righteousness, by his wounds have been healed
1John: walk in light, fellowship with one another, purified of sin by blood of Jesus

b.
It is a new covenant and when you eat and drink, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes again

c.
Focus is not just on my sin and forgiveness, but a joy of salvation, His return and eternity through this promise

26 BSF Matthew Week 26, Day 2

Today’s Scriptures

My Daily Journal:

In the first verses of Matthew 26 we see the parables of Matthew 25 lived out.  The wise virgins and the foolish virgins.  The servants with the talents.  The wicked and lazy servant and the good and faithful servant.  Nowhere is this contrast as evident as in the lives and love of Mary and Judas.

Mary performs the ultimate Gatorade moment for Jesus.  When she breaks open the bottle of perfume and pours it over our savior’s head, it reminded me of joyful football players dousing their coach in the fourth quarter of a championship football game.  What joy and dedication.

I thought it was also interesting that Judas did not have an issue with Mary giving away the perfume.  He was fine with it being a donation to the poor.  He and the disciples evidently felt the poor were more deserving than Jesus.

My Answers:

3.
She had a heart filled with love for Jesus and followed her heart. She didn’t follow the direction of His apostles or the teachers. She didn’t hold back because of cost. She simply poured herself out to Him.

4.
a.
1. resentment can be masked in “good works”, 2. what we value reflects our values

b.
It was the price of restitution for a life of a slave, the amount Zechariah threw to the potter

5.
a.
It was an anointing of Jesus. What is its value outside of this world? It was a demonstration of unrestrained love.

b.
A balance of time with family, work pressures, other volunteer. When you commit to BSF, then every obstacle is thrown in your way – but turning those over to God resolves them

25 BSF Matthew Week 25, Day 5

Today’s Scriptures

My Daily Journal:

There will be no extension.  There are no excuses.  The end time will not come until “gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations” (Matt 24:14).  But when it comes, the time has ended.  For some, the time to repent and accept the gift of salvation may have come only moments before.  For some, especially those already in the grave on that day, their opportunity will have passed with their last breath.  But there is a door and it will close.

To some that may seem cruel.  But I am taken by how honoring it really is.  Jesus is honoring the choice we make.  We are given every opportunity to choose wisely.  The bar is so low it is almost ridiculous – accept my gift and love me.  That’s it.  But we have been given free will to choose.  For Jesus to honor that choice is an act of honor and respect.  For those who have made the choice to reject God, their choice is honored for all eternity.  Can you imagine the pain they would feel otherwise, to stand unworthy and unforgiven for all eternity in the presence of the Creator who gave everything out of love?  Or to be forced to accept a gift they chose to reject?  Hell was not created for people – it was created for satan and his angels – but still some choose it over the gift of a loving God.

When the end time comes, when judgment day arrives, it no longer is a choice to recognize and accept Jesus for who He truly is and so it can no longer be free will or love.  When something is so obvious that there is no other possible choice – it is no longer a choice.  When Jesus arrives and is seated on His glorious throne over all the nations – there just aren’t going to be any other viable options other than to recognize Him for who He is.  At that point, it is too late to choose.

But, today, Jesus has already made it so plain and so simple – accept the gift and love me.  Judgment, eternal life, preparation, stewardship, sheep and goats… It is all about Love.  Love is not forced or manipulated.  Love must be freely offered or it is not love, it is just obligation.  Love the Lord your God.  Love your neighbor.  Jesus is that neighbor – when you love your neighbor in Jesus’ name you are loving Jesus.  One of the few places in the bible that we are given a clear definition of WHY God does what He does is in John 3:16:  For God so loved the world…

And the response is so simple.  Any amount of oil would have been honored.  Any return on investment would have been cherished.  Any act of kindness done in His name.  Any lamb DNA at all would have been recognized as a child of the lamb.

None of this is a question of “if”.  The only thing we don’t know is when.  To not take action is utter foolishness, it is living a life of delusion and denial.

My Answers:

13.
a.
they are truly eternal – for ever

b.
10 – bridegroom will arrive and door will shut
21,23 – share in master’s happiness – rewards for faithfulness, put in charge of much
34 – blessed by God, take your inheritance – the kingdom prepared since creation

c.
12 – separation from God – “I don’t know you”30 – thrown outside into the darkness – weeping and gnashing of teeth
41 – depart from me – cursed, eternal fire prepared for devil and his angels

14
a.
There is a time, but it has a fixed ending at which point you are either welcomed or shut out – there are no extensions!  No oil, no ROI, not sheep

b.
His true justice.  His willingness to honor mans’ choices even through the pain it causes Him

25 BSF Matthew Week 25, Day 4

Today’s Scriptures

My Daily Journal:

A call to action.  It is used in advertising and sales.  It is used in motivation and investing.  It is a big part of being a responsible, successful result.  If you want something, if you believe something, then take action – do something.  An idea is nothing.  An idea put into action can change the world.

Faith is no different.  If your faith is alive it is on fire in you.  It cannot be contained or constrained.  It is producing heat and steam and it needs to vent out in service to others and praise to God.  But these works are not done as a tally or score.  They don’t earn points.  They aren’t done out of guilt or obligation.  Truly glorious, honorable works are done out of love for God.

And Christ’s expectation of us is so reasonable.  Note what he says of the goats.  They did NONE of these things.  It isn’t a list of all the things they needed to do.  They did nothing.  They sought only themselves.  They knew of the gift of Jesus, laying down His life, but couldn’t be bothered to offer a drink to someone they considered below themselves.

Might they have fed and given drinks to others?  It is possible, but for what purpose?  Was it to win favor with a higher up, a potential client?  Was it to be seen as a “good person”?  Did they need the tax deduction? Then they had already received their reward.  But the acts done for the love of Christ, those are the acts of one who follows the lamb.

My Answers:

10.
a.
On His glorious throne above all nations

b.
All nations, all people of all time – everyone

11.
a.
gave food when hungry, drink when thirsty, invited in stranger, clothed, cared for when sick, visited in prison

b.
Did no do any of these things

12.
a.
When did we see you…?

b.
Romans: seek glory, honor and immortality (seek God) and will have eternal life – do good
James: faith by itself, not accompanied by action, is dead – don’t earn salvation but true faith demands actions
1John: Jesus laid down life for us, we ought to lay down our lives for others – not love with words but with action

25 BSF Matthew Week 25, Day 3

Today’s Scriptures

My Daily Journal:

What do your actions say about what you truly believe?  I found it interesting the steward who had been given one talent very interesting.  He said he believed one thing, but the returning master looked not only at his statement but at his actions.

This steward had a very negative view of the master.  He paid no attention to the master’s investment, his work, his land, his seed, his housing room and board, his servants, his provision.  He couldn’t see beyond the reach of his own hands.  ‘You are not out in the fields sowing or scattering the seed, yet you expect part of the harvest.’  To this steward, his self dialogue was that the master was a “hard man”, someone to fear.  But the master called him on that.  If that is what he truly believed, then he would have at least taken steps to put the money in the bank.  This steward’s statement of belief was a lie.  It had nothing to do with the master and everything to do with his self justification.  The man was simply wicked and lazy.  But it is easier and more satisfying to blame the master than to take ownership of his own character.

How many do the same today?  I can’t believe in a God who…  If that is what God is then…  But this truly has nothing to do with God, no more than the third steward’s statement had to do with the master.  It is simply a way of shifting responsibility, avoiding accountability.  It didn’t work then and I have a feeling it isn’t going to work any better when we face Jesus.

Turning to the other stewards (5 and 2), I found their lack of negotiation and commission very telling of their view of the master.  Both had earned a 100% ROI.  Although the master was away for a long time, that is still a huge profit margin.  But when the master returned, every penny was turned over to the master.  No negotiation, no reimbursement of fees and expenses.

This tells me of their complete faith and trust in the provision of the master.  The best thing they could do was hand it all back to the master.  They didn’t try for “what is fair”, they trusted that the joy and blessing of the master would far outweigh “fair”.  And, at the end of each tale, that is exactly what we see.  Both receive promotions.  Both are invited to share fully in the master’s happiness.  This happiness was far greater than the sums of money, it was in the value of finding a faithful servant.  Anyone who has worked in management knows the value of a faithful employee is far greater than the return on any one investment they may have managed.  I think the trust of these servants speaks volumes to the true nature and character of the master!

My Answers:

6.
a.
Prov 3: wisdom to gain understanding, nothing physical is more preciousMatt 13: teacher of law who is a disciple brings out treasure both new and old
Matt 28: go make disciples, baptizing, teaching
John 1: Himself, His son, His light, to receive Him and become children of God
John 13: an example – do as He has done for me
John 21: Love Him and work to do; care for and feed His sheep
2 Tim Scripture: teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness

b.
Gift of BSF, bible, church, story telling, children to lead and teach and a blog with a readership that compares to some of the largest churches

7.
5 Talent: According to his ability – went at once and put money to work, gained 5 more, brought all 10 to master, received praise and shared in joy

2 Talent: Same as 5 – faithful with few, put in charge of many, come and share in master’s happiness

1 Talent: Resentment of master, reap where don’t sow, “afraid”, the 1 take from him, sent out, gnashing of teeth

8.
a.
wicked heart – resentful

b.
repaid for times of hardship with plenty

c.
My past few years in BSF and church – the joy of seeing the bounty in our children

9.
Whoever has will be given more – whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken.  If you value you, you must invest it.

25 BSF Matthew Week 25, Day 2

Today’s Scriptures

My Daily Journal:

The greek word used for lamp in this parable is lampas.  That is important because it isn’t lychnos.  The distinction is that lampas is more of a torch than a candle or desk lamp.  This is the same word used when the soldiers came to the garden to arrest Jesus carrying torches.  It is like the difference between hi-beam headlights and a penlight.  The word that is translated as trimmed their lamps is Kosmeo which means to assemble.

I bring this up because when we think of the virgins with lamps we think of them holding small lamps about the size of their palms, not torches.  We can easily think about someone not having enough oil.

But that is not what the scriptures explain.  Matthew 25 says they brought NO oil.  This would be like someone bringing a lightbulb, a spotlight case, but no battery.  When it came time to assemble the parts, they were blatantly unprepared.

We needn’t worry if we have enough oil.  We don’t need to be concerned if our faith is sufficient or we have enough indwelling of the spirit.  The quantity is not the point.  The fact that we have any is sufficient.  The fact that we cared enough to bring some oil shows our preparation.  Once the torches were prepared, the groom arrived and they were escorted in.

But we need our own oil.  We will not receive salvation and forgiveness because we have christian friends or belong to a christian organization.  We don’t get a pass because our parents or spouse was a believer.  When the our comes, we will have either cared enough to prepare ourselves or we will have missed the time.  After that it will be too late.

 

My Answers:

3.
a.
All remained virgins, all invited, all showed up, all brought torches and wicks

b.
people who call themselves christians, wise were filled with spirit and the word, foolish were “in name only”

4.
a.
Matt 7: avoid broad gate, enter the narrow gate to life even though only few will find it
Matt 7: build on solid foundation
Matt 24: don’t be deceived by false messiahs, keep watch, be ready
John 1: Receive Him and become children of God
1 Thes: Live in light, don’t be afraid
1 Thes, May god sanctify you – be kept blameless

b.
John 3: cannot enter heaven unless born of water and spirit, flesh to flesh but spirit to spirit
Rom 8: If anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ
Eph 1: Marked with a seal, the promise of the H/S, deposit guaranteeing inheritance

5.
The spirit testifies for us, Christ knows His sheep and they know Him – have no concern of being “shut out” – I know His voice and follow