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 17, Day 5: Acts 20:13–21:15

Summary:

Paul meets with the leaders from Ephesus in a closing message of faith and hope as he sets his sights and begins the path to Jerusalem.  He is warned and foretold of the tribulation that awaits him there, but his calling leads him on

Questions:

13. humility and tears, severely tested by plots of the Jews, taught publicly and house-to-house

14. a. 20:27 For I have not hesitated to proclaim to you the whole will of God.  I think this speaks to the boldness in the message that Paul had and encouraged others to have that I do not always possess.  I hesitate a lot.  I discuss rather than proclaiming and I spoon out the will of God in discussions rather than proclaiming the whole will of God.

b. Paul was vulnerable, confident and bold all at the same time.  This can only happen in a setting and with a group where there is loving fellowship.  Paul spoke openly of his life and desires and concerns and maintained confidence despite urgings from others for a less bold path

15. a. 35 more blessed to give than to receive

b. Start with how can I serve rather than what’s in it for me.

Conclusion:

Conviction. 

I worked with a lady who used to talk about how she tried to be a confident person.  For example, when she would get the message on her computer “the following action will erase your files, are you sure?”  She would explain, they clearly don’t know me – I am always sure.  I am not always right, but I am always sure.

Paul was sure as well.  The Latin roots of the word conviction mean, with proof.  Paul was plugged into the spirit and lived in that power to the extent that the message of the gospel wasn’t a belief – it was lived with proof as a fact.  He was convicted of his sin, he was convicted to the message, he had conviction in his delivery and he had conviction in his mission.   

But the biggest difference in the confidence and conviction that Paul had and my friend had is that what he was confident in was always right.

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 5: 2 Thessalonians 3

Summary: 3 parts to this scripture: (1) Paul’s request of prayer from the church to God that God’s glory be manifest (2) a warning and instruction to follow the instruction and work, with your hands doing kingdom work as a model to others (3) Closing focused on peace, grace and accuracy

Questions

12. a. Brothers, we ask you to pray and praise God for the work he has given us, the joy of communion with a body of servants of Christ and the opportunity to teach and spread the message unto young children.  Ask God to protect us from sickness and temptation to spend our team in anything other than that which brings glory to God.  And pray for your own strength that we might rejoice in the Lord for his blessings to you.
b. The dads and moms in BSF who bring their kids

13. 2Thes 3:9 – Where in my life do I purposefully abstain from things that are fully within my rights simply to be a model to developing Christians?  This is different than avoiding sin to be an example to others.  It is sacrifice.

14. (Challenge) Rev 13 – In the first letter Paul encouraged the young church to remain focused on our ultimate joy, reunification in body and spirit with Jesus.  He wanted them to understand that this is real and tangible and not some ethereal object.  Having learned that they took this to the extreme and decided to get out the lawn chairs and wait idley for the show to start, he provided further instruction to get back to work, there are some things that will come first.  The second did not change any of the key points of the first: stay focused, this is real and can occur on any day – but it also provided instruction on what to be actively doing in the interim.

Conclusion:

I was sad that BSF skipped the entire section about work in the middle of chapter 3.  I’m reading a book called Toxic Charity, which is akin to the book When Helping Hurts.  Both point out that our current method of providing aid is dis-empowering of those in need and creates dependency instead of support.  When we drop free food on a continued basis into an area, how can a farmer there make a living?  Now, Paul was clear about the difference between will and can.  Clearly the bible speaks to provide for those who do not have the ability to work.  And it does not ever speak against helping a brother in need.  But it does not teach us to take over and do all the work for those who are able.

More on this later, but I wish BSF had at least covered those verses with one question.

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 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.

BSF Acts: Week 12, Day 4: Hebrews 9:11–28

Hebrews 9:11–28.

Summary:

For restitution and restoration with God, death was required, blood was required because life is in blood.  But Jesus, by making himself a living sacrifice, pure and without blemish, paid the price once and for all.  He did not walk into anything man-made to lay down this offering to the Father, He walked into the sanctuary of heaven and gave it freely, defeating death for all eternity. 

Questions:

a. God gave man the gift of life to spend in glory with Him.  Man rejected God through sin as a result we owe back the gift of life.  God provided His own Son, Jesus, to pay that price, giving up His life to redeem us from sin.

b. We were reunited with God on a personal level.  He could again look at us and see the joy of His Son.  We became brothers with Christ adopted into God’s family.  The curtain was torn. The old, inadequate methods of partial restitution were voided by the new – the price was paid in full.

c. I work to do His will.  I come up short every day, but I pray for strength.  I serve Him through the love and prayer I provide for others, through teaching, modeling, living a life that is different.

10. a. The original deal was made when God breathed life into man.  When man violated his end, through disobedience of the one requirement in the garden, he owed back the original item received.  Any avenue of return to the original relationship with God by man must include death since man cannot create life.

b. (Challenge) Lev 17:11 – For the life of a creature is in the blood… it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life.

11. Read Hebrews 10:1–10. The law and the sacrificial system are spoken of as shadows.

a. Like an X-Ray, a shadow or image provides a view so that we can understand the way things.  The sacrifice of animals in the earthly tabernacle and the cleansing with the blood of animals was just an elementary image of what was ultimately required.  However, a man was incapable of buying back his own life with his death.  In dying, he only gave back what was given, nothing more.

b. God’s will.  Jesus was God and gave this gift as a man because he held the love for man that only God could.

12. Once – done.  The price is paid it is time for rejoicing not deal making.

Conclusions:

I will be amazed when I get to heaven to see if God has any hair or if He has pulled it all out because of me. 

Think of it this way (not a perfect analogy, but it will make the point).  You buy your child a new coat and give it to them as a present.  It is beautiful and exactly what they need.  The next day they come up to you and say, I’ll give you $2 if you let me wear that new coat.  You explain, it is paid for, it is a gift, wear it, enjoy it.  The next day they come in and say, I’ll make my bed all next week if I can wear the new coat.  Again, you explain.  Day after day, they attempt to make deal after deal. 

But isn’t that what we try to do with God.  Thanks for washing away all my sins and clothing me in the love of your son.  I’ll promise to go to church and actually pay attention if you just let me be clean for the mess I made.  We try to make deals and promises for something that we have already been given as a gift.

If I were God I would have pulled all my hair out long ago.

BSF Acts: Week 11, Day 5: Hebrews 6:4–20

Hebrews 6:4–20

Summary:

The author speaks now to the mature believer.  Fruit is expected of the mature believer.  The time we spend as a believer on this earth will be judged.  Our salvation and eternal life are not at risk or in question, those are secured by the sacrifice our eternal high priest made for us.  His offer of bread and wine is everlasting for eternal communion with him.

Questions:

13. a.  to be  enlightened, to taste the heavenly gift, to share in the Holy Spirit, to taste the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age, to be brought back to repentance

b. Apostasy: renunciation of faith

c. (Challenge)  2Cor 5:17, Anyone in Christ is a new creation the old is gone;  1 John 2:19 If they were in Christ they could not have gone out from Christ. John 10:28 no one will snatch them from Christ’s hand

14. Mature faith leads to the production of fruit (the salvation and aid of others).  However, it is not the result or even the work to produce the result that is greatest importance, it is the spirit in which the work is done.  That done purely to benefit the kingdom is recognized and rewarded.  That done out of or for treasure is not.  I am encouraged because it is a noble pursuit, I am concerned because of the risk of being self serving and prideful.

15. a. Eternal life in and as a part of His house.  God is the eternal God.

b. My eternal life is not in question or at risk, how I begin my eternal life while still on this earth is put in part in my hands and I will be held accountable for my actions.

Conclusions:

The ends justify the means does not fly in God’s house.  God expects results from His chosen people.  He expects teaching, he expects sharing the word.  How can we who are saved, grasping the condemnation of those who are not, idly stand by.  If someone is about to step onto a tack, would you not warn them? Why would God expect less of us when it comes to eternal life.  This isn’t easy.  When all around us Christianity is watered down to non-committal traditions without meaning.

What these verses remind us is that God has made his promise, He stands by His word and we will spend eternity in His house.  But we are given the gift of time on this earth and we need to choose what we do with that time.  Even more importantly to God is not what we accomplish or even what we do, but the attitude with which we do it.  That done is a pure spirit for the glory of God is pleasing, that done for personal pride and gain is not.

BSF Acts: Week 11, Day 3: Hebrews 5:1–10

Hebrews 5:1–10

Summary:

Being a priest is not just a job, it is a calling by God.  Jesus was called by God to be our eternal high priest and the source of our eternal salvation

Questions:

6. (1) Selected among men and appointed to represent them, (2) Able to deal gently with others, (3) must be called by God (not self appointed)

I think there would be amazing benefits if christian leaders held to these same standards, particularly the third.  A lot of issues come from those who take on a leadership role for reasons other than being called to it by God.

7. v5, Son of God; v5, appointed by the Father; v6, named by God as a priest forever; v7, while Jesus did not sin, He did pray particularly regarding death; v7, reverent submission; v8, suffered; v9, perfect; v9, source of eternal salvation; v10, designated by God as high priest forever

8. a. eternal salvation

b. While disobedient in many ways, many of my ongoing temptations are health related.  I don’t eat as I should, exercise as I should, etc.  The obvious result of my disobedience (of following the calling of my stomach rather than being obedient) is that I am shortening my days on the earth.  The blessing to others of greater obedience would be more days that I could be encouraging, loving and caring for them.

Conclusions:

Gen 14:18-20: Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High, and he blessed Abram, saying,

“Blessed be Abram by God Most High,
Creator of heaven and earth.
And praise be to God Most High,
who delivered your enemies into your hand.”

Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything.

In the next several weeks of the study we will see Melchizedek’s name a few more times.  Prior to Hebrews he is referenced only in this Genesis passage and then again in Psalm 110 in a Messianic prophecy (Psalm 110 is only 7 verses long).  Here are a few interesting notes to keep in mind:

  1. He was the only priest of God who was also a king noted in the bible
  2. As the king of Salem he was literally the “king of peace”
  3. His name is comprised of two word meaning “king of righteousness”
  4. He predates the Levitical line by at least 5 generations
  5. He gave Abram bread and wine and blessed him (there will be discussion to follow about how the greater provides a blessing to the lesser)