BSF Acts: Week 20, Day 4: 2 Corinthians 5

Summary:

Using a tent analogy, Paul longs for his heavenly home.  He also discusses the fully transformational state of salvation.

Questions

11. a. We groan in longing for transformation, spiritual and physical, to live forever in the presence of God

b. Most of the time – Yes

12. a. to restore, harmony, to make congruous, to account for

b. allowed us to be born again, not of Adam, but of Christ, a new creation

c. Yep

Conclusion:

Once you’ve tasted the “good stuff” you long for it.  We will sometimes purchase milk from a local dairy.  This is amazing milk, rich, high in fat content, chocolate flavored so it tastes just like melted ice-cream or root beer flavored to taste just like a float.  After it, drinking normal skim milk is so pail in comparison (pail… a little dairy cow humor, there) that it just causes you to yearn for the good stuff.  The revelation of our heavenly bodies in an eternal home in the presence of God should cause us to moan in comparison with every breath we take in this body.

Paul points out that we are not just hosed down and cleaned up.  We are reborn – a new creation.  Born into Christ not Adam.

BSF Acts: Week 17: Lecture

I don’t lecture this week, but wanted to add my notes.

In this week’s lesson we get to see and learn a lot about power.  In some ways the salvation that we receive when we believe and receive the holy spirit in our lives to begin living an eternal life is a lot like a power tool.  Think about it.  People can build amazing things with power tools.  We can build homes, furniture, bridges, buildings.  We can shape rock and literally move mountains.  But there are two really important things that have to go with it.  One is training.  If you don’t know how to use a power tool it doesn’t do much good.  The word of God is similar.  We’ll see this week that just knowing the name of Jesus doesn’t get the job done, you need to actually know Jesus through his word.  The second is that, to work right, the power tool needs to be plugged in.  We need to stay connected to God and to other believers and we see not only Paul encouraging and spending time with other believers, but we see those believers spending time with Paul when he is in need.  We can stay connected today by reading the bible, connecting in our church and through BSF.  Let’s get into the word.

1st Division: Acts 18:23-28

In this first section we get to meet Apollos.  Apollos was blessed in many ways by God.  Not only did he have knowledge of, what we call today, the old testament, but he had fervor – energy – for speaking God’s word.  He had been baptized in the cleansing water of John’s baptism, to wash away sin.  But he hadn’t been exposed to the entire teaching about Jesus after the resurrection.  God set his path so he met Priscilla and Aquila.  These teachers took him in and provided him with additional training.  They expanded his knowledge and helped the spirit touch his heart.  Not only that, but they helped him further his ministry and mission work by sending letters ahead to friends in Corinth.

People were given power throughout the old testament.  One thing we saw that was interesting, particularly with Moses is the way he would get charged up from time in the tabernacle – he even had a glow to him – but over time that charge faded and he had to keep going back.  You see, when God first created us (Adam and Eve that is) we were completely connected to Him.  They walked and talked together everyday, living fully in the presence of God.  But then they decided to pull the plug on the relationship by breaking the one rule He gave them.  But, with the good news of Jesus Christ, the circuit has been completed again.  When we accept the gift of salvation we don’t just get charged up, but God sends the Holy Spirit to live in us – connected forever to the source of all the power in the universe.

Who do you need to help get connected to the power of Christ?  Who is afraid, hurting or sad, that you can be a witness to?

How are you going to use the power flowing through you?

2nd Division: Acts 19

In this next section we see the role that people play in relaying the power of God through teaching and healing.

First we see Paul planting a new church in Ephesus.  Let’s look at the way he did it.  First.  He went to where people were going who were hungy for the word of God – he went to the synagogue.  He did that for 3 months, touching many people, but he ran into so many barriers in the form of opposition from the jews that he moved out.  But he didn’t form a new church to meet every Sunday.  Let’s look at what he did.  He moved into a school.  He set up every afternoon to welcome and dialogue with people who wanted to learn.  Not once a week, not him up front in a one way speech/sermon.  It was a round table dialogue of learning.  Notice what it says – he stayed for 2 years until all Asia heard the word – talk about being thorough!

Then we hear this story about the seven sons of Sciva.  They obviously did not participate in these daily training sessions.  They knew the name of Jesus.  They knew the power of that name – but they did not actually know Jesus.  They didn’t have a relationship with Him.  They weren’t plugged in.  Now, we learn that demons may be unfriendly but they aren’t stupid.  The demon possessed man knew Jesus and Paul – but didn’t know them.  He jumped them and beat them until they changed from the sons of sciva into the sons in skivies!

From this people got the message and turned more and more to the ways of the Lord.  Things get rolling so much that the business people who make and sell idols start getting nervous and upset.  They have inventory to move and turn into an angry mob.  A city clerk steps in an calms things down and we see from this interaction that the city is pretty set on keeping one foot in the world of idols.  It is going to be a challenging area for the church – as areas of commerce and wealth often are.

Through this all we see how powerful God is compared to everything else and how he moves.  But as importantly, we see that God is in complete control of His power.  With less than a whisper, He could cause everyone to know Him.  But, that isn’t faith.  He doesn’t want to convince us – He wants us to believe, to trust and have faith.  To want to know more about Him and to want to connect to His power.

Besides BSF – how are you learning more about God?  Who do you need to spend time talking with daily?  Do you talk with God daily  – that might be a great place to start?

 

3rd Division – Acts 20 – 21:15

Paul wraps up this missionary trip with teaching and conviction.  You know, conviction is an interesting word – literally, it means “with proof”.  Paul is so connected to the power of God that this is no longer any question.  He doesn’t just believe it – he knows the good news as fact.

Paul joins believers in Troas and teaches late into the night – so late that one of the believers falls to sleep and falls out of a third story window and dies.  That’s right – if you ever feel like I’m boring you to death – I’m doing just as good as Paul!  But talk about being connected to the power of God – Paul rushes out and hugs the boy and he is brought back to life.

But Paul is also convicted to his calling.  There is no question this is going to be a tough road and Paul has no expectation of returning – but he is being called to Jerusalem.  Despite tearful good byes.  Despite prophesies of being bound and killed.  Paul is determined to do God’s will – period.

Why is Paul not afraid of going to Jerusalem?  Of being bound and probably killed?  Because he knows that death is not the end.  He is living an eternal life right now – connected to the Holy Spirit.  Death only means shedding the constraints of this world to continue what he is doing – living for God.

What are you afraid of?  Is God bigger that it?

BSF Acts: Week 10, Day 5: Hebrews 4:1–13

Hebrews 4:1–13

Summary:

A clarification on rest.  If rest had meant simply the rest that the Isrealites had received when they finally entered the promised land with Joshua, then God would not have spoken about it after then as something to come.  But He did and the rest that He spoke of is much grander than just rest from being weary, it is a promise of spending the rest of eternity in love with Him.

Questions:

14. To spend the Rest of eternity in Heaven with God, also Resting in the assurance of being in Christ’s family

15. a. 4:2 Hear the message combine it with faith. 4: 11, remain obedient

b. (Personal) Yes, I have accepted Jesus as my personal savior so I have begun my eternal life with Him, however, I lose opportunities for rest in this world through my disobedience.

Conclusion:

One of the men in our circle made a comment about the Sabbath rest that hit home to me.  His comment was how he suffers when he decides that He knows better than God and decides to work on Sunday.  The perspective was that since God is in control if He didn’t enable something to be completed up through Saturday night, then how arrogant and disobedient it is to decide that he must know better than God and work on it on Sunday.  Maybe it isn’t supposed to be done until Monday.  Maybe God has other plans.  But through disobedience and a lack of trust we put ourselves above the the sovereign.

The word is alive and active and I have definitely felt the cut of the sword this week cutting into the areas that need to be pruned from my life.

BSF Acts: Week 10, Day 3,

Hebrews 3:1–6

Summary:

Focus on our high priest in heaven.  Jesus and Moses were both faithful to God, but Jesus, as the Son of God, is greater than Moses.

Questions:

9. a. Pray, remember our sins and repent of them, seek forgiveness and restitution for wrongs, accept the gift of grace
b. When we are tempted.  We can turn to many different things when we face temptation, but only one has the ability to help us: Jesus.

10. Transcendental meditation (which has its roots in the Hindu religion) and other common forms of meditation that some use for stress relief have a focus on becoming empty.  Someone would focus on a mantra (normally a nonsensical word) and empty themselves of thought.  Christian meditation is a focus on becoming filled.  We meditate to be filled with the Spirit or to be filled with the Word or to be filled with God’s grace and forgiveness.  Here are a few examples:

Jos 1:8 Do not let the book of the law depart from your lips, meditate on it day and night

Psalm 48:9 Meditate on your unfailing love

Psalm 77:12 meditate on all your works and consider all your mighty deeds

Psal 119:15 meditate on your precepts and consider your ways

Psalm 119:27 meditate on your wonders

11. Differences: Jesus is God (the Son of God), Moses wasn’t; Jesus built the house, Moses was in the house.  Similarities: Both men, both faithful to God.

Conclusion:

The high priest was charged with making the atoning sacrifice for the children of God.  Jesus not only took on that task once and for all, but he, himself, also became that sacrifice.  He gave himself freely as an offering of love for His father and for His fallen brothers who were enslaved by sin.

All men are born with a God sized hole in them.  We all feel longing, incompleteness, emptiness, a void from time to time.  While emptying your mind of thoughts may provide a temporary relief from stress, much like some attempt to find through the numbing effects of drugs or alcohol.  But becoming more empty is never going to be the long term answer to a feeling of emptiness and longing.  The only solution is to be filled: filled with the Holy Spirit, filled with the love of our creator, filled with the word of the Lord.  Now that is something to meditate on!

BSF Acts: Week 10, Day 2, Hebrews 2:5–18

Hebrews 2:5–18.

Summary:

The author of Hebrews again picks up the discussion of Jesus and the angels.  Jesus became man, lower than the angels, perfected by suffering to call those he saves brothers.

Questions

4. a. I think “the world to come” refers to a world totally under salvation totally subjecting itself to Christ.  For the elect I think it starts on the day we accept Christ as our savior, but I think it is complete when all do, when Christ comes again and every knee shall bow and every tongue confess.
b. In Genesis 1 God subjected the earth to man’s dominion.  The fallen earth continues in that covenant.  In these verses the writer confirms that the saved world also falls under that gift from God.

5. While fully man, Jesus took on the sins of the world and suffered death, becoming the author of salvation and rising to glory in heaven

6.Death (or fear of death), the devil, Sin, Temptation

7. (Challenge) The world is comprised of believers and non-believers.  Jesus defeated death for all, but it is not forced on all, it is a gift free given that can be received or rejected.  In Mark 16:16 the gospel says “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned”.  Satan is still in this world because free-will to sin is still in the world.  As long as sin remains, Satan remains.  But Satan is still defeated because he no longer holds power over the believers (Eph 2:1-9) who are no longer dead to transgression but alive in salvation.  At a time to come, all will know that Christ is Lord and every knee shall bow (Rom 14:11)

8. Hebrews 2:17, Jesus made like man in every way.  This is in perspective of Hebrews 1:3 stating that Jesus is the exact reflection of God.

Conclusion:

Was Jesus part man and part God?  God inside and man outside?  1/2 man 1/2 God?  Hebrews clears this up.  While we may have difficulty understanding it: Jesus was, at the same time, fully man and fully God.  It clears up that as fully man Jesus suffered when he was tempted, but as fully God he was able to remain completely without sin.

I have heard it said that Jesus could not sin because He was God.  However, if you are not able to sin then what would be the sting of temptation?  From these passages we see the amazing sacrifice that he made, to become lower than the angels and put himself in a position of suffering the same temptations and trials that we as men face, but in his divine nature He did something no other man has been able to: resist always and stay focused only on the will of God the Father.

Hebrews is a book of encouragement.  We see in chapter one the place and power of Jesus relative to men and angels and in this chapter we begin seeing the sacrifice that He made to be able to call us brother in every way.

BSF Acts, Week 10, Day 1

2. I thought the notes did a good job of explaining why our study is taking this detour in the middle of Acts to jump to the Letter to the Hebrews (besides the fact that it is strategically placed in between the chapter when Paul fights against requiring circumcision and the next chapter when he circumcises Timothy.)  On the first page it raises the question: if someone claims to be a Christian, are they?  If not necessarily, then what decides.  Hebrews explains that this isn’t a buffet line where you pick some things but leave others about faith in Christ.  You don’t rely totally on Him for your salvation but also try to do it on your own, just in case.  Jesus died, the work is done.  You are either inside the house or outside.  There is no screened in deck.  You get to choose: in or out.  I choose in!

p.s.: hold onto page 3, Homiletcs division are provided through then end of December in the table.

BSF Acts: Week 9, Day 5, Hebrews 2:1–4

Hebrews 2:1–4

Summary:

Folks, pay attention!  If the law is binding, we are doomed – except by external salvation.  But this salvation is provided through Christ.  He announced it, apostles repeated it and showed it, signs, wonders and miracles made it tangible, the gifts of the H/S made us experience it.

Questions:

10. a. Pay careful attention to what we have heard so that we do not drift away

b. The message of salvation, announced by the Lord, confirmed by the Apostles, testified in signs, wonders, miracles and by the gifts of the Holy Spirit

11. a.Temptation surrounds us.  We live in a time that is more connected and, as such, more corrupted by the sins of all mankind than of any time in the past.  Wickedness is thrust upon us through every medium and temptation is never more than 2 clicks away.

b. The preponderance of wickedness is so overwhelming that we quickly realize the only path out is God’s way.  There is no way to stand up under our own strength.
12. (Personal) We have different learning styles.  Some of us need to see it, some hear, some touch, some experience.  God loves us so that He has taught his truth about salvation in every possible way. I need to be thorough and complete in my teaching of the word.  I need to understand the absolute truth of God’s love and erase all doubt.  I need to blanket myself in His love.

Conclusion:

I love these verses where there is so much packed into so few words.  When you look at it this where there is no reasonable argument for not believing.  Not only can you see it, feel it, experience it, do it, hear it, but you can also clearly understand the ramifications of not following it.  The message has been clearly delivered by the messengers (angels) and by every other means possible.  Only by choosing to becoming purely ignorant and choosing to turn away can we fail to see the importance and the truth.

It requires far more faith to not believe than it does to believe in salvation through Jesus Christ!

BSF Acts: Week 9, Day 4, Hebrews 1:4–14

Hebrews 1:4–14

Summary:

A presentation of the ways in which Jesus is different than and superior to angels.  The passage concludes with the explanation of the role angels are to play: ministering spirits to serve those who will inherit salvation.

Questions:

8.

  • No angel is the Son of God the Father
  • Angels worship Jesus
  • Jesus is anointed by God with the oil of joy
  • Jesus laid the foundations of earth
  • Jesus created the heavens
  • Jesus is eternal and unchanging
  • Jesus sits at the right hand of God
  • Angels are ministering spirits sent to serve believers

9. a. Angels are celestial beings but not divine.

b. Angels are prayed to.  Angels are praised.  Angels are deified in song and artwork.  People mistakenly think that dead love ones become angels and come back to minister to them as such.  Angels in statues and jewelry and artwork and slogans are given credit for the ministering they deliver.

c. It is akin to raising up the delivery man for the gift we receive in the mail. Nothing against the postal worker, but he or she is only the messenger.

Conclusion:

Angels are real.  They are among us sent by God to minister to us. They are God’s messengers and those he sends to carry out specific tasks and deliver specific messages.  They live in the presence of God and experience His glory first hand.  They are not humans, were not humans.  They are not God and were not God.  But they are real.

Through the stories of people in the direst situations that we interact with: survivors of a Cat5 tornado in Joplin, recovering drug and alcohol survivors who lost everything to addiction, those imprisoned – we hear how they know and saw angels sent to protect them from death.  They do not worship angels – the worship Jesus to is above the angels.  They have no question angels are real, Jesus real and the grace of God is the only way.

Knowing that angels are ministering to me gives me strength and courage.  Knowing that God loves me so that he looks after me in so many ways is a comfort above all others.

BSF Acts: Week 9, Day 3, Hebrews 1:4–14

Hebrews 1:4–14

Summary:

Through a significant number of bible references the position of Jesus has been clearly defined.  He is above the angels.

Questions:

6. a. Hebrews 1:5: Psalm 2:7; Hebrews 1:5: 2 Samuel 7:14; 1 Chron. 17:13; Hebrews 1:6: Deut. 32:43 (see Dead Sea Scrolls and Septuagint); Hebrews 1:7: Psalm 104:4; Hebrews 1:9: Psalm 45:6,7; Hebrews 1:12: Psalm 102:25-27; Hebrews 1:13: Psalm 110:1

b. This is not something new or different.  Jesus is and has been the focal point of the biblical narrative from the very beginning.  This is not a new theology but simply new light into God’s eternal plan or salvation.

7. (Challenge) a. Here are just a few to choose from: http://www.biblegateway.com/topical/topical_searchresults.php?search=messianic  My favorite is Jeremiah 31:31-34

b. The bible is one story about one God and the love He has for His people.  I hear people comment about “the God of the Old Testament” as if there are two different gods in the bible: one of wrath and one of love.  The attributes of God are unchanging.  He has always loved His creation and throughout the old testament we see time after time that he allows free will to tear his people from the safety of His arms, but when they repent and yell out to Him, He gathers them back.  He holds no more of a just wrath in the Old Testament than He does in the New.  However, one major thing changed – He gave His son to pay the penalty of sin.  We no longer lean on the law and sacrifices of animals as an incomplete and inadequate substitution, but instead the prophecy and the plan of God, present from the day sin entered the world, has reached its apex.  We, who are in Christ, are a new creation, created by the same God who created the heavens and the earth.

Conclusion:

It amazes me, as I read the scriptures, to find how little has changed. 

Here is the situation: if you want to ignore or deny Jesus Christ you still have to deal with the fact of the man on earth named Jesus.  The presence of Jesus, in the flesh on this earth is so well documented throughout history than only the most blind would try to deny it as fact.  What He did, what He said, Where He went, Who saw Him.  It is all written down, verified by witnesses, with original cross-referencing to texts such as the dead sea scrolls.  So instead of denying Jesus, unbelievers attempt to paint Him into the story differently.  He was a great teacher.  He was a great prophet.  He was an angel.  He was a spiritual being – just not the Messiah, not God. 

But the answer to that, presented today, is the same as it is in Hebrews: READ THE BOOK – that isn’t what it says.  In the book of Hebrews some were evidently claiming Jesus was just an angel, but that isn’t what the book says when you actually read it.  This isn’t even a new story, it is the same story presented by the book beginning in Genesis.  None of the stories in the bible are simply quaint tales from history – they all provide revelation into the love of God for His creation and directly or indirectly they all point, ultimately, to the gift of Jesus.

BSF Acts: Week 9, Day 2, Hebrews 1:1–3

Hebrews 1:1–3

Summary:

God has always spoken to His people, most recently and most magnificently through Jesus Christ.  Jesus is a part of the Godhead, the heir to all, active in creation, the radiance of God’s grace, the exact representation of God, the source of power through His word. He provided purification and sits at the right hand of Majesty in heaven.

Questions:

3. a. At least one purpose of the Hebrews author was to provide encouragement and warning to new believers to stay the course, continue to grow in knowledge and faith and to not fall back.

b. The key word the author uses is “hold”.  This is something we already have, not something we have to reach for or earn.  We simply need to hold it like something truly precious (which it is).   And Christ is faithful.  He has promised we never need to hold onto it alone.  We are holding onto our faith – He is holding onto us. 

c. Pray.  Remind me of the promise of the scriptures.  Help me to focus not on the troubles all around me but on the joy to come.  Help redirect my eyes from looking down at my situation to looking up to God.  It is really hard to climb looking down.

4. In addition to all the things written in question 2 (above)… Christ is faithful, Christ is the Son of God and master of His house.  We (the church) are his house.

5. Even when we are most discouraged and down, we are not out on the streets.  We are living under God’s roof, cared for by the master of the house, a part of his family.  You can focus on your problems or you can turn them over to God.  Only one way works.

Conclusion:

I love Hebrews 6:1.  How much time do I spend digging the same basement of faith in God and then filling it back in with sins, only to dig it out again through repentance?  This verse yells at me to get out of the basement and move up in God’s house.  I don’t need to pour the same slab again and again.  I need to change my focus from looking down on my situation to looking up to God.