BSF Genesis: Week 13, Day 5

Today’s Scriptures

Questions:

11.
a.
Himself, the Messiah

b.
you are a priest forever in the order of melchizedek

c.
Mel was both a king and a priest, king of righteousness and king of peace. Not a priest through Levites, but ordained by God

12.
a.
Christ has offered forgiveness for everything troubling you. He has been given the power to forgive all.

b.
Christ prayers for you continuously. He calls on God to bless you, not because you deserve it or have earned it, but because it reflects the glory and honor of the Creator

c.
Give to the church joyfully and without regret or reservation for the body of believers is the the body of the church of which Christ is the head

My Daily Journal:

Christ cried.

Hebrews 5:7  says Jesus offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears.

One of the men in our group talked about this and it helped reveal how amazing this is.  Think about it.  This is the creator of everything.  Everything.  Heavens and earth, seen and unseen, mortal and spiritual beings, matter, dark matter, antimatter, everything.  This is the all powerful.  All knowing.  Eternal God.  And he cried.

Growing up my fear of my father was not one of fear of punishment or anger from him, but fear of causing him disappointment or pain.  If as a child I understand this for my human father, then as a maturing adult believer how much more should I feel this for my Lord.  And, yet, he cried.

I don’t say this as a depressing thought or for guilt, but I think it shows the heart of God and His amazing love for me and all of His children.  That love, embodied in Christ, serving in the role of eternal priest for me, interceding on my behalf and paying the sacrifice for my wrongs, well… that is love.

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BSF Genesis: Week 10, Day 5

Today’s Scriptures

Questions:

9.
The promise to Abraham did not come as a reward for Abram’s works, but from the righteousness of God poured out to him by his faith (trust and obedience). It is by grace and it is guaranteed and we fall under the covenant God made to Abraham.

10.
Promise came to all nations. If you belong to Christ you are Abraham’s seed and heirs to the promise.  Mathew 1 -Jesus came from the linage of Abraham

11.
a.
Obedience and faith. That he, in faith, looked to something far ahead, something he didn’t even know or understand, but something that he trusted in God

b.
An everlasting covenant, to be your God and the God of your descendants (to never be abandoned or alone)

c.
Land, to be their God, they must keep his covenant – That the promise in 17:3 is bigger – that Abraham will be the father of many nations, not just one.

My Daily Journal:

I was recently reading a John Ortberg book titled Everybody’s Normal Till You Get To Know Them.  In it he talks about the creation story and, as we reviewed our Genesis study this week it came to my mind.

Ortberg points out that as God creates each part of His creation He says, “It was good.”  That is, until we come to Genesis 2:18 where He says, “It is not good for the man to be alone.”

From the very beginning we were designed for companionship and community all in harmony with God.  Lamech sought companionship without God and developed a spirit of vengeance and retribution.  The people of Babel sought community without God and had their language confused and themselves scattered.

But God’s promise, God’s covenant to Abram, tells him that neither he nor his descendents will ever be alone.  God will always be their God.  They will be a family, a nation, joined together.  The word church didn’t yet exist, but, in essence, through this family of Abram’s that is what God is creating.

We are part of that.  Through our faith in Jesus, we have become members of that family as much as we are brothers and sisters to Christ and God is our heavenly father.  We were not designed to be alone and through the church and through brothers and sisters in Christ and through the nations of believers and through the communion of saints and the indwelling of the holy spirit we will never be alone.  God promised that to Abram.

BSF Genesis: Week 5, Lecture

Life is hard.  Ever since Adam and Eve choose sin, it has tried to jump out and harm us and attack us and draw us away from God over and over and over again.

The bible doesn’t teach us that if we follow God everything is smooth sailing.  Just the opposite.  God tells us to hold on.  But God allows us to choose what we hold on to.

In our lesson tonight we learn about Cain.  Cain decided to hold on to himself.  As we read the verses you can almost see him standing there, pouting with his arms crossed tightly across his chest.  Shut off, defiant, clinging only to himself.

What a dumb thing to hold onto when things get tough.  God says that he is our rock and foundation.  God invites us to let go and cling to him.  God says he never loses a member of his flock.

But let’s look at Cain and what he clings to and how that works for him.

In our first section we are introduced to Cain and Abel.  Cain was a farmer and Abel was a rancher or shepherd.  They were brothers and Cain was the first born son of Adam and Eve.  We don’t know how old they were when our story picks up, but we know people lived for a long time in those days, hundreds of years, but we are brought into the story at a critical point – a point where Cain and Abel brought an offering to the Lord.

We see that both brought a portion of the product of their labor.  But it is also clear that the manner in which they brought it and the nature of the offering were different.  Cain brought “some”.  Abel brought fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock.

A key difference is in what they were willing to give up or sacrifice to God.  When Abel brought the best of what he had, first, he had to recognize that it was the best.  Second, he had to be willing to sacrifice it, to give it up.  In so doing, he opened the door for God to give him something even greater than what he had produced that had been his best.  And we see that God poured out his favor on Abel AND on his offering.

But that isn’t what happened with Cain.  Cain gave.  He may have given more than Abel, we don’t know.  His offering may have been worth more on the grain market, but there isn’t any indication that he gave the best.  It says he gave “Some”, but it does not say that he gave the best of what he produced.  Meaning, he held onto to that.  He kept what he considered to be best on his own little trophy case, rather than clearing room for the type of trophy God wanted him to have.

What happened?  Cain became very angry and downcast.  Pay attention to that last part.  If you are downcast, where is your focus?  Is it up and to God?  Is it forward and positive?  Remember what happened when Eve filled her vision with the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  Look at where Cain has his eyes.

God doesn’t need our stuff.  We need to let go.  God teaches us how to do this in his word and by his example.  What did He give?  In addition to everything that exists in the physical universe, He also gave His only Son.  Jesus is the only acceptable sacrifice.

  • What are you doing in “half-hearted faith”?
  • Where do you need to give 100% of your heart?
  • What have you earned or achieved that you are having a hard time removing from your life because “it is so great”?

In our next section, we see that Cain’s actions soon follow his eyes.  But, it is important to realize it did not have to be this way.  God loved Cain so much that he sat down and talked to him, one-on-one (maybe three on one with the whole trinity thing, but you get the point).  God offers him a do-over.  God warns him about the door he is so focused on, the one that follows his downcast gaze, i.e., the door that leads further down.  God tells him, sin is crouching at that door.  You have the power to rule over it, don’t let it pounce on you.  Now, if something is crouching right outside your door waiting to pounce, how are you going to keep it from pouncing on you?  Duh! Use a different door.  God is holding open the door back to him, but…

Soon, Cain commits premeditated murder.  He lures his brother out into a field and whacks him (in the literal sense).  It’s done.  The first recorded death of a human and it is committed by another human.

So God immediately rains down condemnation on Cain, right?  Actually, no.  God’s first action is to offer Cain an opportunity to confess and repent.  “Where is your brother, Abel?”

But Cain doesn’t confess or repent.  He doesn’t fall down and cry out to God.  He keeps going right through that door.  He follows murder with lies and denial and condescension.  “I don’t know.”  “Am I my brother’s keeper?”

God cries out to him to listen and see what he has done.  To recognize his action and change; to see the consequences and curse that he has brought onto himself from the very land that he relies on for a living as a farmer.

But, Cain chooses to close the door.  In verse 14 Cain says to God.  I will be hidden from your presence. Click.

  • What more could God have done to bring Cain back to him?  All he had to do was repent.  But lying and denying are like going the wrong way down the one way street that is supposed to lead back to God.  Should it be any wonder to us if we get hit by a bus?
  • What are you lying about or denying?
  • What are you trying to keep hidden in your life from God?  How is that working out?
  • Where do you complain that what you face is “too much” or “too hard” while at the same time contributing to making it even more, harder and worse?

Our third section gives us insight into the life of Cain.  Clearly, God still saw him, even if he chose not to see God (it is written down in the bible, right).

We see God continued to provide.  He gave gifts of music and carpentry and architecture and craftsmanship and arts.  And what did Cain’s children do?  They denied God.

Look at verses 17-24.  What’s not mentioned?  God.  I looked back starting in Genesis 1:1 and would encourage you to as well.  This is the longest number of verses so far with no mention of God.  In Genesis 1 it is hard to go a single verse without God.  But here, we go multiple generations.  What is the focus?  On accomplishments, on talents, on celebrity and commerce.  Add in a best dressed list and this could be daytime TV.

Not only is there no mention of God, but they quickly take the things that come from God and twist them and misuse them.  Think about it?  How did Cain get married?  Not just where did he find a wife, but actually, who married them?  How did they enter into a holy covenant without God?  Is it any wonder then that a few generations down that sacrament gets stretched further?  Why not marry 2 wives?  Why not kill someone and claim 11 times the protection for it that God offered to Cain?  Why not sing about it?  Wives… I’ve killed a man….

But what will all of this bring them?  All of these accomplishments without faith?  I don’t want to jump ahead, but come back and you learn about how they end up “all wet.”

  • What accomplishment are you holding onto as being yours instead of God’s?
  • Where do you focus on the performer or celebrity instead of the divine who gave the talent?
  • Are you spending your time reading People or reading God?

BSF Genesis: Week 4, Day 3

Today’s Scriptures

Questions:

7.

  • snatches away the seed sown in hearts of uneducated (seed along the path)
  • Sows weeds among the seeds
  • murderer from the beginning, no truth in him, he lies, native tongue is lies, the father of lies
  • the prince of this world who will be thrown out and condemned
  • god of this age, blinds the mind of unbelievers
  • ruler of the kingdom of the air, a spirit working in the disobedient

8.
a.
Because of us. We were told to rule this world, yet we don’t fight the prince who seeks to usurp and destroy the kingdom

b.
not omnipresent, not omniscient, only has what power God allows. Cannot stand up against the true word of scripture. he and his followers faces eternal torment.

9.

  • prayer and confession of sins, pray for each other
  • Fasting
  • armor of God, the sword of the word of God
  • Submission to God. Resist the devil and he will flee (torment from satan is always temporary)

My Daily Journal:

When I see pictures on the news of Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, etc., I am always amazed to see how people find ways to live their daily lives in the midst of a war zone.  Children play among bombed out cars.  Mothers scurry to cross streets with their children for food and education.  They survive through vigilance.  They are not stronger than the men with guns, but they know where to find shelter and protection.  They are never complacent.  They are never blind to the battle being fought around them, nor do they forget whose side they are on.

Our lesson today reminded me of the fact that, as christians on the earth, we live in a war zone.  We were given the command to rule this earth, but we have allowed the prince of the air to usurp our authority and command in our stead.  We were called to be soldiers and equipped with the strongest shelter and most powerful weapons, yet we try to rely on our own man-made shelters for protection and our own wit for a weapon.  But mostly, we too often become unaware or even in denial that there is a battle going on.  If that occurred on the streets of a terrorist controlled village in the middle east we would consider the person insane or suicidal, but when we do it, we consider it normal, realistic and rational.

I am not advocating that we spend our lives in fear or in a constant focus on the forces of evil.  I believe our focus should remain on our supreme commander.  However, I am concerned that we go about our day forgetting or being too careless or complacent to wrap ourselves in prayer, fasting, submission to God and strengthening ourselves with His word.   Take the time to suit up – it is the rational thing to do.

BSF Genesis: Week 4, Day 2

Today’s Scriptures

Questions:

3.
The devil, satan

4.
a.
But you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.

b.
Yes, 9.In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and… 16.You are free to eat from any tree in the garden (i.e., if it was in the garden and they could eat from any tree in the garden except one then they could eat of that tree.)

5.
a.
1. Caused her to question God’s word (did God really say?) 2. Caused to q God’s justice (not die) 3. Cause to q God’s nature

b.
listened then saw/looked then took then ate then shared:  1. listened to question, 2. responded to question and amplified God’s word (added to it) 3. doubted and underplayed consequences of sin 4. listened to denial of God’s nature and didn’t argue

c.
God’s nature/attributes – He is truthful, He is just, He is loving, He is a protector

6.
a.
In both Satan used and twisted the word of God to provoke an action that is against God’s design. Jesus, however, was able to keep His focus only on the word and not on the temptation, Eve saw the temptation. Jesus told Satan, “away”

b.
No – God does not act to lure us off the path, but He does allow us the free will to step off if we choose: tempted vs seized by t

c.
Tempted to conform rather than live as an alien. Do I pray in public even before meals? How many times a day do I use Jesus’ name in a sentence with others? As a Christian I should speak a different language and have different customs.  I’m seeking strength in God’s Word and power from the H/S.

My Daily Journal:

In the senior level of the children’s program in BSF the closing exercise each week focuses on an attribute of God.  It wasn’t until doing the lesson today that I recognized just how vitally crucial that is to our walk with God and our ability to avoid being tempted.  Understanding that there are some things that are absolutely always true about the very nature of God gives us a perfect measure to test anything that may ever tempt us.  Adam and Eve both forgot (chose to not remember) that God is always true, that He is always just and that He is always faithful.  In so doing, they turned their eyes away from God (or, at a minimum who God really is) and it is only at this point that they fall to temptation.  When the hymnist reminds us to “turn our eyes upon Jesus” he isn’t telling us to treat the image of our Lord as some good luck talisman, but instead to view the road we choose to walk only through the lens of the true attributes of God.  Obviously, doing that starts with knowing the attributes of God.

The lesson this week breached the discussion about whether or not Jesus was tempted or tested, semantics for the underlying question of whether or not Jesus could sin.  This can become very confusing, particularly to a new christian.  Here is my perspective for better or worse.  It is not God’s nature to sin, that would be in direct contradiction to His attributes of being Holy and Perfect.  So, Jesus, as fully God, could not have sinned.  And, we see and hear throughout the new testament account that He lived a life perfect and without sin.  He was also fully man, born of a woman, and in this capacity had the ability to sin (Reminder: this is my understanding of scripture based on my very limited knowledge and study).  The majesty of Jesus as a man and as our unblemished lamb comes from the fact that he chose not to sin.  Adam and Eve chose to sin, Jesus chose not to sin.  I think this is important because it comes back to the presence of the tree and the serpent in the garden to begin with.  If God had not endowed man with free will and with the ability to choose to obey Him and live in perfect communion with Him, or not, then there would have been no tree, no serpent, no choice.  Jesus as a man was not in any way less than any other man.  It wasn’t that he was incapable of doing something that all other men are capable of doing.  Just the opposite, He was capable, but chose to stay focused on the Father’s will instead of the path we take to “look around”.  How often could we prevent temptations from creeping into our lives if we kept our eyes more focused on the word of God and the attributes about Him that it conveys?

BSF Genesis: Week 2, Lecture

We established at our beginning of the study of Genesis that the bible is God’s Word put in place as the means that God reveals Himself to us so that we can have a right relationship with Him, one of love, respect, worship and praise, comfort, peace and joy, eternally.

One of the things I thought about this week, that our teaching leader mentioned in his lecture, was the point that the development of my relationship with God is different than developing any other relationship on this earth.  Normally, when we are entering into a new relationship, whether work, friend, neighbor, romantic, or casual, there is an gradual revealing that occurs as each party learns about the other and each party opens up to tell about themselves.  But with God, He already knows everything there is to know about us and He has put everything about Him down in writing.  The depth of my relationship with God is directly tied to my dedication in increasing my knowledge of Him and moving closer to His unmoving rock of salvation.

In Genesis 1, we see this.  Last week we looked at this chapter and focused on better understanding “who” God is.  This week our focus shifts to “what” God did: He created everything.

So, again, let’s start at the beginning where God is in the beginning.  God’s first action into his new creation is to speak.  He said let there be light and there was light.  We could camp out right here and discuss the awesome power of God’s word.  We could talk about this intrinsic and everlasting light that goes on like a ray coming from the Trinity to shine for ever more.  And, with the richness of Genesis, if you are ever struggling for something to ponder and pray, pick any one verse in Genesis 1 and use it to see God’s glory and power.

God first divides the waters below and above and then He gathers the sea.  I love this visual image of how God’s voice could stretch out like arms across a table and draw in the waters of the sea to make dry ground.  And then God brings life to the planet.

He brings vegetation, plants, trees, to grow and bear fruit, each according to their kind.  And it was good.

He then speaks the sun, moon and stars into existence.  These are the vessels that hold the light that He created on day 1.

When I think of all of this, it reminds me of how parents-to-be prepare the nursery and their home for an expectant baby to arrive.  They paint the room, they prepare the furniture and bedding, they even put in a night light.  How much more so our heavenly Father, and the moon is a pretty amazing nightlight!

In your language about the nursery God prepared for us, do your comments express gratefulness or do they convey an attitude of a whiny child complaining about the heat or cold?  Do you reach out to your heavenly Father for comfort and joy or are you busy throwing a temper tantrum?

But let’s go a little deeper in looking at some of the days of creation in this chapter.  God didn’t just create these things but He actually gave them purpose.  Look at vs 11 and 12.  God didn’t just make plants, but he made plants to bear seeds and fruit.  In 14 and 15 He didn’t just make the lights in the sky, but He made them to be signs to mark sacred times and days and years.  In 20-23 He made creatures of the sea and sky and specifically blessed them and commanded them to be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth, each according to its kind.  Same for the land animals, each according to its kind.

God created not only objects, but He endowed them with both purpose and order.  That word “according” is an interesting one.  It reminds me of “a chord”, a musical harmony.  When man thinks of nature, particularly its origins, our minds see chaos and battle, survival of the fittest, struggle for life.  But in God’s design there is harmony, order and purpose.

In your day, are you striving to find God’s harmony, order and purpose or are you viewing it as a fight, dog-eat-dog battle?  How does your approach influence your outcome?  If all creation is a harmonious melody that sings praise to Him, are you putting in practice time for the musical every day?  As a challenge, look at the ways that God uses animals throughout the scriptures to reveal Himself to mankind (colt for palm sunday, dove, the fish for the multitudes, Jonah’s whale, Balaam’s donkey, just to name a few.)  They are more prevalent than we realize when we look for them.

Then, the 6th day.  God, the trinity, made man in His image, in His likeness.  God made us male and female.  He provided for us with food to eat and He gave us purpose and direction, one to preserve and maintain order.  He delegated rule to us as only a ruler could do.  He gave plants and fruit to us as only the owner of the fields of harvest could do.

Interesting that God gives us two specific tasks.  The first shows our kinship with all other living creatures of the earth, to be fruitful and increase in number, fill the earth.  The second shows our kinship with the Almighty, to subdue the earth and rule over every living creature.  And, as we will study in the weeks to come, how we have done pretty good at the first directive, but almost immediately failed in the second when we let the ways of the earth and the temptations present rule over us instead of the other way around.

But, we will also learn that the game isn’t over.  Like a reset button in a video game, those of us who have accepted the saving work of Jesus Christ have the ability to start over.  When we confess our sins, God is faithful and just and He will forgive our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.  Just like a reset button, we get a “do over” button through confession to God that lets us start executing our order, harmony and purpose all over again.  And each time we stumble and fall, His spirit helps move in us and with us, transforming us back into His image and likeness until the day we stand before Him for all eternity in the harmony and unity of heaven.

BSF Acts: Bible Lesson 9 – Acts 15: Lecture

Acts 15

Aim: Salvation (justification) comes from faith through grace alone and cannot be earned either by adherence or works

Introduction: You can’t afford the gift you are receiving.  When I look around the room of children’s leaders in our class I am surrounded by business owners, executives, doctors, the chief legal counsel for a multimillion dollar company, accountants, law enforcement officers.  Frankly the bill rate of the people I sit with for three hours every Saturday morning would be astounding.  Yet, the gift of time is freely given in love, not only for the children and other men in the group, but more importantly for our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  Do not lessen the gift that you are being provided by even imagining that you could pay for it.  You simply can’t afford it!  There is no level or adherence to the law that could even provide a fraction of the cost that Christ paid in dying on that cross and to imply that it could is insulting to our master.  (OK, this’ll preach!)

Division 1: Acts 15: 1-11 – A dispute over circumcision requires a decision by the church leadership. Peter, Paul and Barnabas testify to the Holy Spirit’s presence in Gentile believers.

Acts 15: 1-2 – P&B sent to Jerusalem to conclude: circumscision required or not

Acts  15 3-4 – P&B to Jerusalem, testify  on the way, welcomed by apostles, they give a report.

Acts 15: 5 – Party of the Pharises states their belief: become Jewish to become christian

Acts 15:6 – Apostle and elders meet to consider this question

Acts 15: 7-11 – Peter presents: no distriction between J&G, through grace we are saved.

Principle: The rock stands strong in his testimony: Faith is sufficient

Illustration: I don’t agree.  You say yes I say no.  How do we resolve it?  That was the question facing the new church.  When disputes in belief or practice arise, what do we do?  Go our own ways?  Give in?  In these verses we see step one.  The dispute is presented to a body of leaders and elders who discuss it and look for the hand of God and the direction He is leading.  We see that in the testimony of P, B and Peter.  Look – see – There is God!

Applications: Are you watching for God’s hand moving in your life and your church?  What disputes do you need to quit harboring and get resolved? Do you rely on your intellect first or do you first look to God?

Division 2: Act 15: 12-21  James states the judgment of the Jerusalem Council

Acts 15: 12-18 James reinforces the works of God by the word of God

Acts 15: 19 James judgment: remove difficulty from Gentile converts to Christ

Acts 15: 20-21 James directs Gentiles to follow the Mosaic laws specifically stated  for Jews and Gentiles

Principle: God’s word is the final word

Illustration: In the United States, the Supreme Court is the ultimate decision on the interpretation of laws.  If a judge rules against you, you can take it to the next higher court.  But if the Suprement Court rules a certain way – it is done.  In the same way, God’s word is the final word. 

Applications: What do you want to be right or OK that God’s word says is wrong?  Do you yield to the authority of the gospel or ignore it?  Do the words of the bible hold weight to change your convictions or do you try to change the words to match your desires?

Division 3: 3 witnesses are sent back to testify to Antioch: P&B, S&J and the letter

Acts 15:22-23  – Judas and Silas are picked to go to Antioch with P&B and the letter

Acts 15: 24-29 – The letter: becoming a christian not a burden, but there are suggested restrictions

Acts 15: 30-31 – The letter is delivered and received with gladness

Acts: 15-32-35 – A time of peace, blessing and strengthening continues in Antioch

Principle: The is only one body of Christ on the earth – one church

Illustration: God describes His church on the earth as a body of believers.  We can sit around in our big comfy chairs watching college football and our body will rot away.  God tells us to do something different.  To work.  To go.  To spread His news.  But like any other work, sometimes the work of the body of the church causes strains and they can be painful.  But we have the choice when our arm hurts from a strain or injury.  I guess we could just lop it off.  At least it wouldn’t hurt anymore, right?  But we normally don’t do that.  We nurse it.  We tend to it.  We protect it and we help it get stronger.  That is the message God has for us as His church as well.

Application: Who among believers have you “lopped off”?  What is dividing you from doing God’s work?  What is wrong that you need to be bold about and cause it to stop?

Conclusion:

This wasn’t easy for anyone.  The Judaisers believed they had scripture behind them.  Paul didn’t have a relationship with anyone in Jerusalem – he had only spent 15 days with them.  Barnabas did, but he clearly could see both sides of the argument.  And the leaders in Jerusalem had never faced a challenge like this before.  But they did three very smart things: 1 they looked for God’s direction 2. they stood on the bible 3. they maintained their sights on the ultimate goal – spreading the good news of the gospel.