07.5 Revelation – Holy Whole not Holey

Holy Whole not Holey

When God calls us, we are broken.  The reading we did from Acts 2 said the people were “cut to the heart” by Peter’s words.  We are broken, cracked, empty, a sieve.

God does not wait for us to create a perfect vessel for His spirit to abide within.  He waits for us to recognize that we are truly broken in pieces beyond our own repair to even hold things together.  The indwelling of the Holy Spirit isn’t something that we hold in our hearts, it is something that holds our hearts together.

But God doesn’t leave us broken.  The song of Amazing Grace is not celebrating what wretches we are, but that God would take us while we were wretches and transform us into something different.

Unfortunately, that transformation is not a “one and done” event.  The Holy Spirit as at work daily in our lives.  And, like any other repair job, He first must dig and scrape out the rotten, rusted, weak and infected parts of our lives to then lay a foundation of something new.  This part isn’t fun.  It hurts.  It cuts to the heart.  But, would we want less?  Would we want a builder to construct on a weak foundation?  Would we want a paint job on top of wood rot?  Would we want a band-aid covering up a cancerous growth?

Ephesians 4 gives instruction for living a Christian life.  But it is an order that we cannot fulfill on our own.  I can be humble some of the time.  I may be humble most of the time, but am I truly humble in thought, word and action all the time.  I can forgive others, but do I forgive them as God forgave me.  Always?  All it takes is one instance and it isn’t always!

But, God can.  God with us can.  God in us definitely can.  God is gracious and good.  He is strong and mighty.  He is love and compassion and peace.

Ephesians 4 is not a rubric by which to grade your performance.  If it were, we all have failed.  It is an explanation of the ways the Holy Spirit will, from the inside, be transforming your (and my) life.  How He will be cleaning out and patching the holes in your heart, mind and soul.

When D.L. Moody was asked why he had to be filled with the Spirit so often he said simply, “Because I leak.”

 

My Answers:

11.
Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bear with one another in love; keep the bond of peace; keep faith in one body and one Spirit and one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God over all

12.
Am I a body with a soul or soul with a body?  Which defines you?  The now of the everlasting?
As Christ sacrificed His life for mine, He has given me eternal life and my calling is to serve Him (not myself) with this body at this time.

13.
With great struggle – magnification of my own sins in light of others around me whom I am called to care for.  The preparing of the foundation to build upon is painful, but through God all is possible – even holiness.

02.2 Revelation – Remember, Redeemed, Removed, Renewed

Remember, Redeemed, Removed, Renewed
Revelation Themes

As the conclusion to the amazing story of the bible, the book of Revelation is filled with victory.  It is a victory that can be shared by anyone who chooses the gift of being on the team.

The fact that the book opens with letters of warning to the churches shows the mercy and grace of our God.  That even in this final book, where John outlines the end times of God’s wrath and judgment, God tells him to extend an invitation again to put on the jersey of Christ and be clothed in His sacrifice.  John, in particular, calls the church to remember.  If you have ears – then listen.  This is important.  This is important enough that believers for ages have been willing to be afflicted, persecuted and subjected to suffering for the honor of staying true to the team colors.  Remember and repent.  You want to be on the winning team.

A game-winning, grand-slam, home run happens at the moment that the ball connects with the bat.  Yes, it has to fly through the air out of the park.  Yes, the players have to run the bases and touch home plate.  But, from the very moment of impact, the work is done.  In the same way, Jesus’ work of paying the price for sin and defeating death is done.  When He resurrected from the dead, He connected with a strike ball that has been on a victory trajectory ever since. We are redeemed. It is done.  But Jesus is not done, yet.  One of the central themes of Revelation is this run of redemption.  The best is yet to come as He rounds the bases and returns back to home plate on Earth, gathering every one of His team to rejoice in victory.

When He returns, it will not be a partial victory, but a final one.  Satan and sin will not, as the saying goes, “live to fight another day.”  Christ’s return is a time when Satan and evil are just defeated, but completely removed.  Those who have made the choice of evil, who have rejected the gift of Jesus and rejected God, are judged and will be found to be incapable of paying the price of their own sins.  They and all enemies of God and good will be removed, forever.

And, finally, the book of Revelation closes with the most amazing gift of all.  God does not leave us to clean up the mess of this broken world.  We are not left in a war savaged place, with the need to tear out and rebuild on top of the weak foundations of the past.  But, instead, God takes us to a new place.  A place of beauty and peace of joy and happiness.  We have nothing to contribute to it, it is a wedding feast and the one true happily ever after ending.

My Answers:

3.
a.
1. greetings from him who is, who was and who is to come. Jesus the ruler of the kings of the earth.  Look his is coming with the clouds, every eye will see him – Look, I am coming soon, blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy
2. Be faithful, Jesus knows about affliction, persecution, suffering.  He will give you life as a victor’s crown. captivity and death will continue, but be patient, endure and faithful
12. Dragon removed from heaven, triumphed over by blood of the lamb.  The woman who gave birth to the child was protected, dragon went off to wage war with her offspring.  Beast was given… (note: it did not take, it was given – it is not in control)
19. For the wedding of the lamb has come – blessed are those who are invited – white horse, rider was faithful and true, KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS
21. New heaven and new earth, God’s dwelling place is now among His people – new heaven forever, river of water of life, tree of life, see the face of God in the city.  no more night, reign for ever and ever

b. God dwelling with His people for ever and ever – the new Heaven

 

02.3 Moses 2, Day 3

Bold Compassion

When things went south at home, Moses went east.  Moses ran and hid.  But the person he was running and hiding from was no ordinary person.  This was Pharaoh and the reach of Pharaohs power was great.  From the research I did on maps, when Moses left his home on the Nile river and fled to Midian he would have traveled over 600 KM or 375 miles if he went a straight route.  Given that he was on the run and that a straight path would take him directly across vast deserts, it is unlikely he took anything resembling a straight path.  A direct path walking would have taken 2-3 weeks and a more circuitous route could have stretched to more than a month.

When he sits at the well in Midian he would have been tired, hungry, weary, lonely, weak and emotionally spent.  But when he saw injustice, he could not sit by and do nothing.  Fortunately, his weeks of travel had taught him some constraint and he didn’t seek to avenge the 7 girls, he only stepped in to the extent to remove them from imminent harm.  No one was killed.  More so, he had now taken on a spirit of not simply trying to “fix” the situation, but to serve those in need.  He didn’t stop with running off the shepherds, he drew the water, the cared for the women and their animals and he sought nothing in return (not even dinner).

There were so many excuses Moses could have given for avoiding the conflict.  He was tired, this was not his fight.  But despite all the possible excuses Moses burned with a fire of compassion for the oppressed and persecuted and that fire burning in him was creating a spirit of serving.

Do I burn with that same passion and spirit the way Moses did?  Am I bold in protecting others from immediate danger or do I hide behind my excuses?  When I am bold and step in to help, do I expect recognition and to be served as compensations or do I go the distance and share the water of life to those who are thirsty?

 

My Answers:

6.
Not Egypt, Outside of Pharaoh’s daily purview,  Desert, had wells with water (not totally barren), flocks lived there

7.
a.
Compassion, strength, hard work, bravery, boldness

b.
He still stepped in when he saw grievous wrongs of persecution and oppression, but he didn’t kill anyone

c.
To be bold.  To have the spirit of serving others burn in me.

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?

02.5 BSF Matthew: Week 2, Day 5

Today’s Scriptures

My Daily Journal:

I looked up the word, refuge.  I had thought of a refuge as a physical structure – some sort of stronghold or fort.  But that is incorrect.  According to the definition, a refuge is a condition of being safe or sheltered from pursuit, danger, or trouble.  It is a condition, a state of being.

So, who needs a refuge?  By definition, a refugee needs a refuge.  A refugee is a person who is outside his or her country of origin or habitual residence because they have suffered (or fear) persecution.

In 1 Peter 1:17, this is what we are called to be: “Since you call on a Father who judges each person’s work impartially, live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear.”

Do I live as a refugee?  Do I seek refuge from the One who can provide it in this upside down world?  Do I call on the Most High to be my refuge and my strength or do I bend to conform to this world?

My Answers:

10.
a.
They put their trust and obedience fully in God.  Through that they were saved from death, protected, did not fear the terror of night.  They loved the Father and His (their) Son and were rescued

b.
1. dwells in the shelter of the Most High, 2. says: He is my refuge… in whom I trust 9. if you say the Lord is my refuge,  14, Because you love the Lord, he will rescue you and protect you, for you acknowledge his name.

c.
Everything I have comes from the Lord.  Every opportunity, every person in my life.  Why would I rely on my power in comparison to God’s?  Martin Luther said, God created the world out of nothing; so as long as we are nothing, he can make something out of us.

11.
a.
Wisemen (Magi) watched for, saw and obeyed to worship, God honored and aided their obedience through the non-obedient, Pay attention to dreams from God – worked for Magi, worked for Joseph (go to Egypt), worked again for Joseph (go to Israel), and again (don’t go to Judea)

b.
I think God gave me life after surgery not because I had been obedient to Him, but because He had plans for me to become so.  2 weeks before my surgery I started in BSF and it was the first thing I returned to.  I have stayed every year since.

BSF Matthew: Opening Night

My Daily Journal:

What an amazing night we had last night with the first and second graders!  These kids are so inspiring in their willingness to shout out the name Jesus, to confess their unwavering belief in Him as their personal savior and friend.  As part of the first night we passed out the questions and each child completed the first day including the question related to what they learned about the bible.  One little guy wrote, “Gses did 4 me” (Jesus died for me).

One of the things I love about spending time in bible study with young believers is that they don’t waste time and worry, they simply believe the word of God.  That was also something I really loved about the notes this week.  One of the ways the evil one attempts to cast doubt is to raise the question of whether the bible, particularly the New Testament, is reliable.  We see this teaching in organizations such as the Latter Day Saints or in popular fiction writers such as Dan Brown; an argument that the writings in the bible have been corrupted.  When we look at the world and see how mankind has corrupted everything else, it can cast doubt.  But God didn’t recite the bible word for word, he inspired 40 people to write it and He has inspired others to translate it.  God is alive and active.  God is the same and He is true and He uses human translators to give us His Holy Word in our language so we can learn about Him and use His Word to guide our life.  He does this with translators the same way He did with the original writers.  If God can use a man to write it with truth and accuracy, He can use another man to translate it in the exact same way.

I am really excited about the new format and tone of the notes this year.  I love the reference out to other books and materials (e.g., Evidence That Demands a Verdict by Josh McDowell).  I cut out the “Outline of Matthew’s Gospel” presented in the notes and laminated it and I’m keeping it in my bible this year as we go through the study.  If you are not in a study and getting the notes, it is really an important addition – the notes are good!

BSF Genesis: Week 30, Day 4

Today’s Scriptures

Questions:

10.
fruitful vine near a spring: his actions in Egypt, by the Nile, saved nations from starvation. branches climb over a wall: moved from Canaan to Egypt received Egyptian name and honors, Archer attach: Brothers, Potiphars wife, forgotten in prison – he faced many attacks; Bow remained steady, strong arms limber: despite hardship he stayed true and honorable to God; because of hand of Mighty One, Shepherd, Rock: All was because of God and for His glory.

11.
blessings from skies above waters below, sun and moon; gifts from ancient mountains and hills; let all these rest on the head of Joseph the prince among his brothers

12.
Let the beloved of the Lord rest secure in him, for he shields him all day long, and the one the Lord loves rests between his shoulders.  He may be a ravenous wolf to the world, but he carries the lamb upon his shoulders

My Daily Journal:

We are wisely encouraged in life to save and set funds aside for our old age and for an inheritance to our children.  While the bible warns against placing our faith in this accumulation, it is also clearly taught to set funds aside in the years of plenty for the lean years that often follow.

We can see a parallel in these spiritual blessings that Jacob has accumulated for his sons.  Do these things belong to Jacob, no, they belong to God.  But through a life devoted to God and setting aside treasures of faith in his heart, Jacob can bestow these blessings onto his sons and the sons of Joseph.  Blessings of the skies above, blessings of the deep springs below, blessings of the breast and womb. Blessings greater than the blessings of the ancient mountains, than the bounty of the age-old hills.

What am I, through faith, receiving as a spiritual blessing that I, through the almighty hand of God, will be able to bestow upon my children and grandchildren?  Is my inheritance to them measured in dollars or measured in blessings and grace and truth?  What words do I need to say to my children?  Shouldn’t I say them now until waiting until my deathbed?

BSF Genesis: Week 29, Day 2

Today’s Scriptures

Questions:

3.
a.
Plan had changed.  Was not supposed to go to Egypt before, now it was OK

b.
i.
It is current/timely.  based on time and situation

ii.
Trust wholeheartedly, not leaning on own understanding.  submit and things will be straight

iii.
Ask for wisdom, believe and not doubt – trust!

4.
a.
1. I will make you a great nation in Egypt, 2. I will go down to Egypt with you, 3. I will surely bring you back again.  4. Joseph’s hand will close your eyes.

b.
1. Ex 1:7 the Israelites were exceedingly fruitful; they multiplied greatly, increased in numbers and became so numerous that the land was filled with them 2. Ex 6:2-5 I have heard the groaning of the Israelites 3.Ex 12:31 Leave my people and go 4. Gen 49:33 Jacob dies, 50:1 Joseph threw himself on his father and wept and kissed him

My Daily Journal:

These first few verses of Genesis 46 are such a powerful reminder of a present God.  We can easily fall into an impression of God as being distant both in time and space.  So many of our depictions of God are cast in images of people walking around in robes and sandals.  We can fall into a trap of thinking of God as divine and loving but with a message that is set in stone for us to follow.

What we see in these verses is a different God.  He is present.  He is timely.  At an earlier time Jacob was not supposed to go to Egypt, but now he is.  God gives him new direction.  God is the author of the book (and of the universe) but it is an interactive story that includes us today.

What an encouragement to prayer and what a powerful image of a personal and present God.  We are encouraged to get into a proper state to talk with God, taking on a sacrificial attitude as Jacob did and then honor God’s direction in our life for who He is.  This means trust in what we hear from Him wholeheartedly, without doubt, and begin walking the path he lays out for us to go.

BSF Genesis: Week 22, Day 3

Today’s Scriptures

Questions:

6.
a.
heaven’s dew, earth’s richness, abundance of grain and new wine, nations serve you, peoples bow down to you, lord over your brothers, sons of mother bow down to you, those who curse you be cursed, those who bless you be blessed

b.
Nations will serve you, 12:3 bless those who bless you, whoever curses you be cursed

7.
a.
regret is to feel loss or disappointment for an action or event.  repent is to accept responsibility and choose to make a change to do differently in the future.

b.
Esau regretted the series of events and cried out.  Isaac recognized something as wrong and set about making things right.  He did not withdraw his blessing from Jacob, but instead set him on a straight path.

8.
a.
Esau regretted the series of events and cried out.  Isaac recognized something as wrong and set about making things right.  He did not withdraw his blessing from Jacob, but instead set him on a straight path.

b.
To benefit from God’s blessing requires a willingness to honor that blessing.  People want the outcome of blessings, but do not want to bend a knee to the only one in control of providing such.

c.
He did seek to please his father.  He demonstrated respect to him and accepted his word as law.

d.
trending in the correct direction.  Plenty of potholes and detours along the way, but I think others see and hear my testimony to the Lord.

9.
They stood against Israel during the Exodus, but fell to David and his armies.  During that time every living adult male of Edom was killed, but even at the time of cross and Edomite sentenced Jesus to the cross.

My Daily Journal:

One of the things that caught my eye today was the start of the blessing from Isaac bestowed upon Jacob: “May God give you heaven’s dew and earth’s richness.”  Why dew?  Not rain, not water, but dew?  This thought encouraged me to search for other dew references in the bible (don’t you love online bible references?)  Evidently there are 35 times it appears and it is an interesting progression.

This reference in Genesis is the first appearance of the word in the bible.  The next time we see it is during the exodus, each day the dew was followed by the presence of manna on the ground which fed the Isrealites (Jacob’s family) for 40 years.  Next appearance is in the blessing Moses gave to the tribe of Joseph before Moses’ death.  Next God uses dew on fleece in making a covenant with Gideon in Judges.  David references the lack of dew when lamenting the death of God’s first appointed King Saul and his son Jonathan.  There are references in Psalm and Proverbs equating dew with the abundant provision from heaven.  The dew of heaven is a central feature in the dream of Nebuchadnezzar interpreted by Daniel.  The last times the word is used in the bible are in the books of the prophets.  Micah 5 prophecies the “promised ruler from Bethlehem” and ties the dew from the Lord directly to “the remnant of the house of Jacob”.  Then the final time the word appears in the bible is in Zechariah 8:12 – “The seed will grow well, the vine will yield its fruit, the ground will produce its crops, and the heavens will drop their dew. I will give all these things as an inheritance to the remnant of this people.”

I love the way God plants these stepping stones for us to follow leading to the redemptive birth of His son, Jesus.  A simple word, like dew, something that can be counted on and expected as a daily occurrence, is woven in and through stories starting with a promised inheritance to Jacob and then being brought full circle to the remnant of that house and the promised ruler from Bethlehem who is the vine that yields everlasting fruit.