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.

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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 16 Lecture: 2 Thessalonians

Imagine that you are a teacher.   You and your fellow teachers learn that your school is going to be recognized as the best school in the nation.  The president is going to come to your school.  All of the TV stations will be there, there will be a parade and everyone will show up to applaud and cheer.  But, no one knows the exact date when the announcement is going to come.

Well, of course, you immediately bring your lawn chair, stop teaching and camp out in front of the school to get the very best seat for the show, right?

Of course not.  But that is what some of the Thessalonians were doing.  They heard Christ was going to come back and call all of His people to a very big party in the sky.  So, they decided to stop everything and camp out to get a good seat for the show.

In Paul’s first letter we heard him tell them to keep their focus on this reunion with Jesus.  But this week, while he is thrilled that they continue to grow in their faith, he is concerned they are spending too much time in the lawn chairs and not enough time doing the work of spreading the gospel.  But let’s get into what he writes:

1st Division: 2 Thes 1

Christ’s return constitutes a huge family reunion.  I don’t know if you’ve ever been on some cool rides at an amusement park, but I don’t think anything is going to compare to getting to surf on a cloud in the biggest party in the sky you ever imagined.

But this is a family reunion and only family members are welcome.  While everyone was invited, only those who chose get to come.  The rest – well – let’s say there is a big difference between clouds and smoke!

Who do you want to make sure is at the party?

Have you sent them a personal invitation by sharing the good news about Jesus with them?

Who do you need to pray for so they will decide to be part of the family of believers?

2nd Division: 2 Thes 2

Have you ever heard the term “sitting on the fence”?  It is not all that different than “keeping your options open.”  God isn’t so big on this.  He is offering the greatest gift anyone can imagine – He is offering to make us a brother to His only son: Jesus!  But some people go, “well, let me think about it – maybe I’ll see if there is anything better.”

Well, in the final days, God gets sick and tired of the fence sitting – he is going to make it so everyone chooses, one side or the other. Period, end.

How close are you living to the fence?

Is every part of your life on the right side of the fence?

3rd Division: 2 Thes 3

God did not make us to sit around – he made us to do work.  We are blobs of jello.  We have muscles and strength.  We have thoughts and words.  We had drive and initiative.  We are made to work.

Now, Paul is clear – we need to work.  That does not mean is against helping people in need.  And he clearly distinguishes between those who can vs those who will.  Someone who is unable to work has Paul’s full support and healing ministry.  Those who choose not to work, get a strict admonishen to do the work God called them to do.

Paul is not simply talking about working with our hands, but being engaged in work with others as the best place to demonstrate God’s message.  It is through mutual labor that we earn the ability to share a deeper work – the work of saving lost souls.

Did you put in a full day’s work today for God?

How would your performance evaluation go if it was time for your annual review?

God makes it so easy, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t have a part.  He calls people.  He sends us to them.  He gives us the words to say.  He sanctifies them with the Holy Spirit.  He strengthens and encourages us and protects us from the evil one.

Truly, we are nothing but the messenger service – but would you rather hear, “Good job”  or “I’m disappointed in you”?

BSF Acts: Week 16, Day 3: 2 Thessalonians 2:1–12 with Revelation 13:6–13

Summary: 

2 Thessalonians 2:1–12

Paul describes the bold act of the “man of lawlessness” that will precede the return of Christ.   That he will exalt himself and place himself in God’s temple, claiming to be God.  And, he reinforces to them that work has already begin.  Paul does this to reassure the Thessalonians against false teaching and to not lose sight of Christ’s triumph.

Revelation 13:6–13

The time that the beast is given authority over the earth.  A time when there is no more agnostics, everyone takes a side – either God or the beast.  Then the second beast, the dragon comes out of the earth and performs great and miraculous signs.  All preceding the Day of the Lord.

Questions:

6. That day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction

7. He is a deceiver.  His authority is only that allowed to him, not anything he has of his own power.

8. a. Their refusal to love the truth and be saved.  A delusion, they believe the lie and delight in wickedness, bringing condemnation

b. Entering the gate of righteousness is a choice that is revealed to us to choose.  Other choices are abundant, there are thousands of other things we can serve and fall into depravity, but only one gate (Jesus) leads to God

c. A favorite hymn:

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.

Conclusions:

The revelation of the gospel is not just for our curiosity or enjoyment, like an action movie, but it is there so that we are not deceived as we stand with Christ at the narrow gate, bringing the called into the house of God.  Paul’s emphasis is well noted, though. It is important to understand the events that will occur, but the important place to focus your eyes is not on the activities but on the outcome – Christ rules forever.

BSF Acts: Week 16, Day 2: 2 Thessalonians 1

Summary:

Paul’s second letter to the Thessalonians opens with prayer, praise and thanksgiving.  Paul also, as always, keeps the focus on the object of our faith, our reunion with Christ on the day of the Lord.

Questions:
3. a. Paul is grateful that their faith is growing, their love is increasing.  They show perseverance and faith in the face of persecution and trials.  Paul thanks God for these things because he understands that all of this comes from God, it is not by their own doing but only through the power and authority of God that these blessed things are occurring.
b. (Personal) I can see the maturity in my spiritual walk increasing this year.  I can see my faith and conviction to the word growing and my love for others expanding.  I am truly experiencing joy in seeing the legacy that I have been blessed to be a part of in helping teach 1st and 2nd graders about God – hopefully in a way that encourages them to stay in the word their entire lives.  I understand when Paul talks about the blessing he feels from God by being able to share the gospel with these new converts – it isn’t just a blessing to them.

4. Paul says:
a. Jesus will be revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels.  He comes to punish and be glorified and marveled.
b. Christ is glorified IN his holy people and marveled at AMONG all who believe.
c. Punished with everlasting destruction, shut out from the presence of the Lord and cut off from the majesty of his power.

5. Paul prays that God may

  • count them worthy of his calling
  • fulfill every good purpose of theirs
  • fulfill every act prompted by faith
  • the name of our Lord Jesus glorified in them and them in him

Conclusion:

I was particularly struck by the prepositions in verse 10.  He comes to be glorified in his holy people and marveled at among all those who have believed.  I had always read this as: He comes to be glorified BY his holy people and marveled at by all those who have believed.  Being glorified “in and among” the body of believers is a completely different and richer meaning.

Jesus doesn’t require any further exaltation – he is already at the right hand of God.  He comes to reunite with the believers to raise the church up into glory with Him.  What a magnificent reunion that will be!

 

BSF Acts: Week 15, Day 5: 1 Thessalonians 4:13–5:11

Summary:

Do not lose hope or mourn the dead.  The promise of Jesus’ return and the reunion with him is not only for living believers, but for all, living and dead in a trumpet shout and majesty.

Questions:

12. a.  The Lord’s return is for all believers, living and dead.  Jesus’ promise of reunion is for all and, in fact, those who pass from this life experience the reunion first.
b. The magnitude of the reunion and yet that it will be a personal experience.  The power of the trumpet call of God and the eternity that it begins.
13. Belong to the day, wear faith and hope as armament, as something we physically put on each day for protection and strength.

14. a.  Give two points with verses (chapter 5). To light and to salvation (v5 and v9)
b. To suffer wrath
c. Encouraged because as I spend more time with God and in His love I grasp more fully the wrath that I so rightly deserve.  The fact that God who is loving and fair understand this so much more immensely and deeply than I do, yet, appoints me to receive a gift of salvation.

Conclusion:

What does it mean to belong to the day?  I think there are 2 aspects to this.  The first and most obvious is to live a life of transparency, as if all we do is in public, in the light.  In other words, if we are doing something we don’t want others to know about or see, then we are not living in the light, but in darkness.  However, it also means that we belong to the day of the Lord.  That everything about my life today should be pointed at and longing for today to be the day that the trumpet blows and Jesus comes to claim him believers from this world for an eternal reunion party.

BSF Acts: Week 15, Day 4: 1 Thessalonians 4:1–12; 5:12–28

Summary

Faith is not just words that we say or a oath that we take.  It isn’t just an intellectual endeavor.  Faith is a changed life.  Faith is being brought into a new family.  Faith is being filled with the spirit and love of God and immediately beginning an eternal life, different that the ways of this world.

Questions
10. a.  The way we live our lives.  To be sanctified. To avoid sexual immorality.  To be holy and honorable.  To lead a quiet life, mind your own business, work with your hands. To acknowledge those who work hard and hold them in high regard.  To live in peace.  To warn those who are idle, encourage the disheartened, help the weak and be patient.  Strive to do what is good for everyone.  Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances.  Reject evil.
b. They are opposite.  Current culture says focus on yourself only, look out for number 1.  Do what is fun and enjoyable.  Gossip and rumor and leisure are the entertainment of the day.
c. To warn the idle, encourage the disheartened and help the weak and most importantly – to be patient.  I very much need more patience with people.
11. a.  To give thanks in all circumstances.  Paul is such a great example of extreme persecution and extreme joy and rejoicing.
b. Through the holy spirit, through prophecy (the word of God), through God himself and the peace he provides.  Through God’s faithfulness.  Our responsibility is to not quench the spirit, to test the messages provided to us and hold to what is good.  To accept God’s strength.

Conclusion:

There are significant rewards to living a life pleasing to God.  Not something earned by this work, but in the same way that a father shows praise and encouragement to a good report card.  The love doesn’t come from the work, but it provides an opportunity to demonstrate it.