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 1, Day 5

Today’s Scriptures

Today’s Questions:

11. The H/S was fully present in the Trinity in creation. Spirit hovered over the waters, H/S was breath of God, sent to create

12.

  • contends with humans, present in and among us
  • dwells in us in our new heart to move us to follow and obey
  • Invisible, like the wind, but you can hear it and see the spirit’s results
  • Spirit is the living waters that flow from within believers
  • To dwell in us required the completion of salvation (Jesus went to send the spirit)
  • Advocate for Christ followers, forever, lives in us and will be in us though world does not see
  • Believers are reborn into the spiritual (no longer flesh). Spirit in me = I belong to Christ
  • Spirit is the ink that the Word of God is written on our hearts
  • Spirit provides our competence in the new covenant, judged to life not death
  • Spirit in us gives us the ability to see God with unveiled eyes and transforms us to His image
  • When believed, marked with a seal, the promised H/S, a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance
  • Believers are washed in merciful rebirth and renewed by H/S, poured out through Christ

13.
That the Holy Spirit lives in me forever and it is only through the spirit in me that the world can see God. God could do direct revelation or visions or dreams to people, but He has given me the gift of manifesting the salvation of others through the revelation of the spirit in me.

14.
a. The mark, the seal. We are saved when we are washed clean of our sins by accepting the gift of the sacrifice as payment of our sins and then and thus indwelled by the spirit. We must be changed, not to earn salvation and eternal life but because we carry the Spirit of God in us now and forever.

My Daily Journal:

What I am struck by this week and particularly today is how the word “in” keeps coming up in the study and my heart.  In the beginning God.  Not at the beginning but that God was fully In the beginning.  God is in all creation.  Also in the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God… In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. Believe in Him. The spirit will live in you.  I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you.  And we could go on and on.

The beauty this shows is the depth and closeness that God wants with us specifically.  He doesn’t want to be neighbors.  He doesn’t want to be roommates or even just be by or with us.  God wants to be in us and us in Him, perfectly bonded together, united in glory in the spirit forever.  Christ said it best in His prayer just before he left the last supper to be arrested as recorded in John 17: “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message,that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one —I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”

BSF Genesis: Week 1, Day 3

Today’s Scripture

Questions:

6. I do not believe that a day is necessarily 24 hours. Could it have been? – yes. Could it have been more or less time? – yes. We think of time as a fixed dimension despite our own knowledge that it is not (time slows down as an object approaches the speed of light)

7.   Why the earth? As a home for mankind. Why all creation? As a home for the earth. Why mankind? Because He is majestic and loving and chose to.

8. spoke, saw, eternal (he was before the creation)

Journal:

The bigger question isn’t whether a day is 24 hours or what elements constitute heaven and earth.  The big question is why is Genesis 1 in the bible at all.  I mean, why did God tell his creation about how He created everything and the order of that creation.  We aren’t on a need to know basis.  It has no impact on any persons daily life (at least not that I can discern) to know that birds came before horses.  Frankly, it would have sufficed and been accurate to say, “I’m God, I created everything, period.”  But He chose to break it down for us.  I think in large part He did it not so that we would concentrate of the beginning of the paragraphs (God said and it was so) but instead on the end when He saw that it was good.  We either don’t see that or we forget it.  We look at the waters and see them as wet, vast, deep, a bit scary, but we don’t normally see them as “good.”  For each element of creation God wants to ensure we know (1) He is in it and created it and (2) in His eyes (the only unfiltered eyes that exist), it is good.  When you fill your eyes with seeing God and goodness in all creation rather than inanimate blobs of matter, it changes your viewpoint and changes your heart.  Then, we you recognize that God made this “good” comment about each part of creation up until man, when He saw that it was “very good”  it changes your eyes and your viewpoint to the heart of God

BSF Genesis: Week 1, Day 2

Today’s scriptures

Questions:

3.
a.  God’s name appears 31 times. He created, said, saw, called, made, set, blessed. He conversed with man (alone). God was active, engaged, sensory (with human senses) and master (whatever he said happened).
b.  God is the creator. He spoke and it became so. Everything was His plan and purpose and everything occurred by and through His will

4.  It was good – except for man, where it was very good.

5.
a.

  • made by His power, founded by his wisdom
  • God made the world and everything in it, He gives life
  • since creation God’s qualities are clear in His creation

b.This message and my belief about the Earth’s origin are the same. God was in it and God did it.  So many scientists are tripped up today because they start with a bias that the story as stated in the bible must be false.  However, every revelation of science confirms the order of the story of God creating as outlined in Genesis. The more we try to disprove the more faith is required. Creation is not a repeatable experiment that can be duplicated, it is a historical fact, supported by the evidence of everything that was made.

Journal:

First:  In the entire bible, God spends exactly 1 chapter telling the story of all creation.  Immediately, in chapter 2 He moves to a discussion of His relationship with man.  We think of ourselves as miniscule dots in comparison to the enormity of the universe.  God considers the creation of the universe as miniscule in comparison to His love of us.

Second:  Let’s face it, if you or I were going to write a creation story, we would be right in the middle of it.  We would be created first, then we would do this, that and the other thing.  I would put animals on land before flying animals, seems easier to crawl than fly.  But here is what is interesting.  I wasn’t there.  God was.  And, the more we learn and observe and study the more we reinforce God’s record of what happened.  We sometimes get so big headed thinking we know everything, then there is a discovery like dark matter and we find that the entire scope of everything we know and understand makes up only 4% of what is really out there.  It is difficult to not be in awe of creation and to see it as unbelievably beyond comprehension.  It is, but God is bigger!

BSF Genesis: Week 0 – Lecture

What is Mr. C? (btw: Mr. C is my co-leader this year).  He is a man.  He is a BSF leader.  He is a father.  He is a follower of Christ.  All of these are true, but they don’t paint a very clear or complete portrait of Mr C.  To really get to know him, you would want a lot more information.  You would want to go all the way back to his childhood, to the very beginning.  You would want to know stories about his friendships and about the times and people who hurt him or let him down.  You would want to have some genealogy about his family, like what they did, how they lived, what they felt and believed.  You might want to hear songs that he liked, poetry.  You might want to hear his own words.

You see, that is what the bible is.  You can say it is a book or collection of books, because it is.  You could say it contains laws and direction.  But it is so much more.  The bible is the way that God has chosen to reveal himself to mankind.  It is the actual inspired word of God, told through the writing of humans, because that is how we can commune with God.  As God is eternal, so is His word.  It is stories about God, just as we would tell stories to learn about anyone else.  It is a tale of joy and a tale of sadness.  It is a book of poetry, history, prophecy, parable, law and above all, it is a book of grace.  It is a book with amazing joy, sadness and then redemption fulfilled at great cost.

The bible is God’s word.  God didn’t recite it word for word, but don’t mistake that they are His words.  In spirit He guided and inspired the authors to record, without error, these words so that we can become closer to God.  The written word is on the same level or authority as if God had spoken it (in a loud booming God voice) to you or me directly.  It deserves the same reverence, not in a lock it in a glass case and worship the ink and page, but in a way that requires our time and attention and effort to commune with.  The bible contains the knowledge we need to walk the path we are to take in our lives.  You can call it an instruction manual, a light, but most importantly, it is a gift.

God desires to commune and communicate with His people.  Did you realize that christianity is the only world religion that doesn’t have a “divine” language?  You don’t have to speak hebrew to read about God.  You don’t have to read ancient arabic.  The bible has been translated into over 2,530 different languages – almost every written language in the word so that every person can read, study and get to know the word of God and thus, know God.

How are you showing respect for the word of God in your daily life?  How are you showing just how thankful you are that God chose to let us get to know Him, that he cared that much?  Are you hungy and thirsty for the word?  Me, too!

Not only is this God’s word, but it is also how God reveals His divine purpose and plan.  So, since there is a master plan for how everything and everybody and all time is going to be and work and do, wouldn’t you want to know about it?  You see, God isn’t just a creator and builder, who designed and created everything, put it in motion and then just sat back and let it go.  He is a God of action.  That is one of the reasons we pray.  God is alive and listening.  He is active and moving.  He wants us to see Him, understand Him and, in reflection, understand His plan for our lives.

It is said that God’s main purpose is to glorify Himself.  Sometimes this is mis-understood and people think God needs us to tell Him how great He is.  Like we have something that God needs.  But it doesn’t mean that.  Think of it this way, a lightbulb’s main purpose is to show how bright it shines.  Glory is what God is, just as light is what a lightbulb is – OK, on a much bigger scale, but you get the point.

Do you believe that God has a purpose and a plan?  Do you believe that He has a will?  Do you believe that the God who created everything, knows everything, knows every blade of grass, every molecule, a God who is alive and active and listening and participating and communing…  Do you believe He just might have a thought or two in the fashion of a plan for your life?  Do ya’ think, then, that it might be a good idea to read and study the book where He wrote that down?  Just saying!

We start our study this year in the same book that God chose to start, Genesis, a book of beginnings.  Genesis tells us about the beginning of everything: at a universally large scale, as in, the universe, and on a subatomic scale as in the time that he spoke mass and matter into being (the heavens and the earth).  God could have chosen to reveal all kinds of details about timelines, and specifics about the way that He created, but He chooses to tell us the story in the matter that means the most to us, in a very human and personal way.  He spoke.  He saw.  These are human actions and God wants to reveal Himself to us in the language we all can see and speak.  Genesis tells about how we began with God and how we were given choice and made the wrong one (sound familiar to your own life?)  Genesis tells about things like rebellion, judgment, justice and, right from the very start, it begins the promise of redemption and reconciliation.  God tells us about Himself through the stories and interactions of His friends and the people He calls family, His peeps (as in they will be my people and I will be their God).

At some point in your life you will ask the question: How did I get here?  It may be at a time of incredible high, where you want to reflect on all the blessings.  It may be at a terrible low point.  It may be at a time that you just feel last or lonely or one where you are thankful and joyful.  Here is what I can tell you.  I know where the answer to that question is.  It is right here, in these words.  You see, everything we need to know about how we got here, physically, mentally, metaphysically, chronologically, spiritually, legally, purposefully, economically and redemptively – it is all here.  Where should we start?  How about: In the beginning God…

Getting Started in Genesis

I am very excited to get back into BSF this year and the structure it provides.  I am also very excited about the “kinder and gentler” structure of BSF.  We see this right off the bat in the childrens program.  In years past there was a heavy focus on going over guidelines the first night.  This year we jump right into fellowship and interactive discussions about the bible, Genesis, the BSF study, etc.  Later in the first night we discuss, together, standards that we (leaders and students together) want to have for the class this year.  There is involvement, input, engagement and participation right from the start.

Most importantly, I am very excited about studying Genesis.  God’s word is so amazing.  There is a depth and richness in it that seems to flower the more I mature.  There is truly a beauty that, while there on the surface, becomes even more beautiful as we look deeper.  It is good.

My plan is to post as I did last year (although with a bit more regularity and simplicity).  I would like to do my lesson daily and post my lecture notes each week

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 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 3: Ephesians 2:11–22

Questions:

7. a. where they came from: gentiles, uncircumcised, separate from Christ, excluded, foreigners, without hope, without God

b. The blessing that He gave me from a loving family and great church education and how far I fell from that promise before coming back to Him, but then also the power that He has entrusted to me by calling me to be holy and a brother of His son.

c. Remembering helps me understand how deeply God dug the foundation pillars with me.  Despite all but ignoring Him for several years, the foundation was strong and did not waiver.  He had work for me to do and each day He reveals more of what that is.

8. a. Negotiation, mutual compromise, give and take, mutually beneficial scenarios, promises and agreements, “aid”, war (peace by submission)

b. He is peace.  He made the two one (human and heavenly).  Abolished the law.  one out of two, making peace, reconciled

c. It is not a bargain, it is of God, by God and only is possible when it is with God.  There is no other lasting peace.

9. peace, no barrier, no wall of hostility, law abolished, joined (1 out of 2), reconciled, no hostility, 1 body, peace to far away and peace to near: both have access to the Father by the one Spirit

10. They are non-existent – we are one body in Christ, there is no difference or separation in God’s eyes as He views the church.  Near or far (I’m not sure which I am, the near or far) both have the same access to the Father and the One Spirit.

Final Thoughts:

1.This whole concept of peace negotiations is really critical to understand.  There are so many ways that earthly thinking (our world view) is so upside-down compared to God thinking.  I mean, even the term: peace negotiation.  Christ didn’t negotiate peace.  He didn’t offer a deal or coerce us into accepting something by threat, intimidation or force.  Could He have – well: He created everything and everyone and is all powerful.  I’m pretty sure the answer to that is yes.  But that isn’t what he did.  Peace with God is not a deal or state of time or condition of practice.  Peace is a being.  Peace is Christ: Christ is peace.  Stop a minute and get your head around that:  peace isn’t a what or a how, it is a who.  The only way to be “in peace” is to be “in Christ.”

We (humans) were not with God – because of sin we had separated from God.  Jesus Christ destroyed the wall, in him he took what was two and made it one again.  In dying on the cross, when he defeated death and rose again.  He did it as God and man combined in one.  The what he did cannot be separate from the who He is – joining us into Him joins us into Peace by making us holy as He is holy.  Being outside of Him is an un-natural and unstable state.  We were made in God’s image to be in communion with God.  The unstable state is sin and separation; the stable state (the one He created and designed) is peace in communion with Him. No wonder we have so much turbulence in a world that continues to live a outside of Christ.

2. Differences:  I live in a prominent suburban neighborhood and attend a church in city/county with a significantly above average household income.  And, the “Us helping Them” movements drive me insane.  Yes, I and people I sit in the rows with have money, education and resources at our disposal, but as soon as we enter into a mindset that we need to help them, we create a wall – the same kind of wall that Paul is trying to teach the Ephesians to not have in place.  We are the church, not this church and that church.  We need to give for the needs of the church, not for us to help them, because there isn’t an us and them (other than supporting missionaries who are going out to people who are not yet in the church).  Whenever we draw lines of white churches, black churches, hispanic churches, wealthy churches, poor churches, people with house, homeless people, well-fed people, hungry people – we put up a wall that separates.  Christ didn’t do walls – he ate with tax collectors, he healed lepers, he talked with prostitutes and thieves.  He even died for sinners to pay the price for their sins (that is you and me that we’re talking about).

Give generously and joyfully as your heart allows, but give with thanks to God not with guilt to demonstrate you have more or are better than “them.”  If you hear someone talk about helping “them” in your church – please, stop them.  There is no them in the body of the church – just us – helping each other through Christ.  Amen?

BSF Acts: Week 22, Day 5: Ephesians 1:20–23

Questions:

15. a. seated at the right hand of the Father in the heavenly realms.  Ruling all with authority, power, and dominion.

b. The church is the body of Christ, the fullness of him who fills – the church is the “supply chain management” division of God Inc.

16. a. I have a great boss and clear job objectives

b. I have all the power and authority required to do the work given to me as a member of the church and to help, support and empower my team-mates (only by asking)

c. I am not needed, but chosen to be given the gift of being a member of the winning team

 

Closing Thoughts:

Imagine that you enjoy the game of baseball.  You’ve thrown a few balls, hit a few with a bat, just for fun and the love of the game.

Now, imagine you just received a call from a pro team letting you know they are considering picking you in the upcoming baseball draft.  Now, imagine you get a call that not only might they pick you, but you might go within the first 20 rounds of the draft.  First 10.  First 5.  First round.  Ok, how about 2nd pick of the overall first round of the draft?

You would be amazed.  Beside yourself.  You would be anxious and worried… what do they want you to do, you would ask.  Do?  You don’t have to do anything, we are going to win the world (universe) series anyway.  We just want you to put on the uniform and be part of the team – not on the bench, catch a few, bat a few.  Get out and be an active part of the team, it is more fun.

There are many people who would give their left arm for far less when it comes to baseball, which is only a game.  But this is exactly what God offers us as christians.  He doesn’t need any skill we have, he just wants us on the team.  We don’t earn our way on the team, he picks us, first round, right behind his son.  Want to feel the full joy of winning?  Put on your uniform and get out and catch a few!