BSF Acts: Week 23, Day 3: Ephesians 2:11–22

Questions:

7. a. where they came from: gentiles, uncircumcised, separate from Christ, excluded, foreigners, without hope, without God

b. The blessing that He gave me from a loving family and great church education and how far I fell from that promise before coming back to Him, but then also the power that He has entrusted to me by calling me to be holy and a brother of His son.

c. Remembering helps me understand how deeply God dug the foundation pillars with me.  Despite all but ignoring Him for several years, the foundation was strong and did not waiver.  He had work for me to do and each day He reveals more of what that is.

8. a. Negotiation, mutual compromise, give and take, mutually beneficial scenarios, promises and agreements, “aid”, war (peace by submission)

b. He is peace.  He made the two one (human and heavenly).  Abolished the law.  one out of two, making peace, reconciled

c. It is not a bargain, it is of God, by God and only is possible when it is with God.  There is no other lasting peace.

9. peace, no barrier, no wall of hostility, law abolished, joined (1 out of 2), reconciled, no hostility, 1 body, peace to far away and peace to near: both have access to the Father by the one Spirit

10. They are non-existent – we are one body in Christ, there is no difference or separation in God’s eyes as He views the church.  Near or far (I’m not sure which I am, the near or far) both have the same access to the Father and the One Spirit.

Final Thoughts:

1.This whole concept of peace negotiations is really critical to understand.  There are so many ways that earthly thinking (our world view) is so upside-down compared to God thinking.  I mean, even the term: peace negotiation.  Christ didn’t negotiate peace.  He didn’t offer a deal or coerce us into accepting something by threat, intimidation or force.  Could He have – well: He created everything and everyone and is all powerful.  I’m pretty sure the answer to that is yes.  But that isn’t what he did.  Peace with God is not a deal or state of time or condition of practice.  Peace is a being.  Peace is Christ: Christ is peace.  Stop a minute and get your head around that:  peace isn’t a what or a how, it is a who.  The only way to be “in peace” is to be “in Christ.”

We (humans) were not with God – because of sin we had separated from God.  Jesus Christ destroyed the wall, in him he took what was two and made it one again.  In dying on the cross, when he defeated death and rose again.  He did it as God and man combined in one.  The what he did cannot be separate from the who He is – joining us into Him joins us into Peace by making us holy as He is holy.  Being outside of Him is an un-natural and unstable state.  We were made in God’s image to be in communion with God.  The unstable state is sin and separation; the stable state (the one He created and designed) is peace in communion with Him. No wonder we have so much turbulence in a world that continues to live a outside of Christ.

2. Differences:  I live in a prominent suburban neighborhood and attend a church in city/county with a significantly above average household income.  And, the “Us helping Them” movements drive me insane.  Yes, I and people I sit in the rows with have money, education and resources at our disposal, but as soon as we enter into a mindset that we need to help them, we create a wall – the same kind of wall that Paul is trying to teach the Ephesians to not have in place.  We are the church, not this church and that church.  We need to give for the needs of the church, not for us to help them, because there isn’t an us and them (other than supporting missionaries who are going out to people who are not yet in the church).  Whenever we draw lines of white churches, black churches, hispanic churches, wealthy churches, poor churches, people with house, homeless people, well-fed people, hungry people – we put up a wall that separates.  Christ didn’t do walls – he ate with tax collectors, he healed lepers, he talked with prostitutes and thieves.  He even died for sinners to pay the price for their sins (that is you and me that we’re talking about).

Give generously and joyfully as your heart allows, but give with thanks to God not with guilt to demonstrate you have more or are better than “them.”  If you hear someone talk about helping “them” in your church – please, stop them.  There is no them in the body of the church – just us – helping each other through Christ.  Amen?

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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 17, Day 3: Acts 19

Summary:

Paul in Ephesus teaches about baptism by the holy spirit.  He moves his daily teaching out of the synagogue into a school.  Non-believers attempt to use the power of Jesus’ name, but they are not connected to the source of the power.  Healing and miracles occur and many confess, believe and shed themselves of old sins (burn scrolls).  Paul leaves to continue his mission work and a riot breaks out spurred by the idol makers guild.  A city clerk calms the crowd, reminding them there is a proper process for grievances that doesn’t involve angry mobs.

Questions:

5. They had been cleansed of sin (repentance), but had not been baptized into the Lord Jesus and received the Holy Spirit?

6. Paul taught in the Synagogue for three months, but after being publicly maligned he moved out to a lecture hall of Tyrannus and taught for 2 more years so everyone heard and he was performing great signs and miracles.

7. There is power in God’s name, but not as an incantation.  We are a conduit of the power but we must be connected to the source

8. a. They changed their lives.  They purged themselves of wickedness even at a cost (the cost was to keep others from the same sin)
b. (Personal) Time wasters.  Those worthless diversions that bring no value to myself or others and waste the gift of time that He has given me.

9. (Challenge) There is no authority on earth except what God allows.  God is not against governments, he sets the boundaries of nations, nor is he aligned with a political group.  His kingdom in the bounds of this world.

  • Acts 19:23–41 City clerk calms idol makers’ mob
  • John 19:10–11 Pilate authority over Jesus: Only what given to him by God;
  • Acts 16:37–39 Paul and Silas after prison earthquake: magistrates appease because they are Roman citizens
  • Romans 13:1–7, submit to governing, no authority except given by God

 

Conclusions:

There is a lot of neat stuff in today’s scripture.  Some people burn “valuable” scrolls others create a riot because peoples’ changed lives threaten their business model.

One of the neatest parts I saw was the model that Paul established for planting a new church.  He didn’t build a building and start having Sunday services.  He started by daily study groups.  He created a place and time that people could come and discuss and have their questions answered, every day.  The more he opened up the good news to the people the more power flowed through Paul – not his own power, but the power of the spirit – that even by touching his used sweat rags caused healing.

 

BSF Acts: Week 17, Day 2: Acts 18:23–28

Summary:

We are introduced to Apollos, a brilliant and articulate man with a fervor for God.  After additional instruction from Aquilla and Priscilla he goes on to provide great teaching and ministry in Corinth.  So great that there is division in Corinth over which preacher they follow which Paul attempts to correct in a letter to them

Questions:

3. a. The region of Galatia and Phrygia, strengthening all the disciples

b. (Personal) My family, my BSF group of kids (and indirectly their parents), my co-workers and employees

4. a. a learned man, thorough knowledge of the Scriptures, instructed in the way of the Lord, spoke with great fervor, he taught accurately and spoke boldly

b. The crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus.  If he knew only the baptism of John then he new the messiah had come, the son of God himself, to save the world, but he may not have had complete understanding of the resurrection.

c. They encouraged and helped pave the way for him to go into Christian ministry and missionary work.  They were from Corinth and sent letters ahead to the disciples there.

d. People in Corinth began following and idolizing the preacher instead of the message being preached.  They began forming factions of Paul followers vs Apollos followers.  Paul makes 2 points: we are both only men/servants; we are a team (I planted seed, he watered it, God made it grow).  Apollos wanted to stay away to not cause disharmony.

Conclusions:

What was Apollos most admirable trait?  This wasn’t a BSF question, but one I thought was interesting.  He had great intellect, poise and presence.  He had great command of the scriptures.  He was articulate and passionate.  All of those are great characteristics.  But to me was the fact that he set all that aside to receive additional instruction from Aquilla and Priscilla.  Keep in mind these were not university professors or temple scholars – they were tent makers.  But Apollos recognized the truth in their message and saw the spirit move in their instruction. 

I think his most admirable trait was a characteristic that he apparently didn’t have: arrogance.  So often higher learning and strong persuasive skills lead men to believe the more or better than others.  Apollos apparantly, as Paul put it to the Corinthians, was first and foremost a servant.

BSF Acts: Week 16, Day 4: 2 Thessalonians 2:13–17

Summary:

After a brief training on the “Man of Lawlessness,” Paul picks back up on his message from chapter 1.  Paul is overflowing with thanksgiving to God for these believers.  His longing for communion with them translates into praise to God for the report he has received on how they are growing in the glory of the Lord.  He glorifies and thanks God for them and encourages them to stay the path.

Questions:

9. a. God the Father chooses us.  God the Holy Spirit sanctifies us by becoming present in us.  My responsibility is to believe, have faith and, as a result, begin living an eternal life right now.

b. I cannot fail.  God does all the real work.  He chooses the person, he calls me to them, he gives me the words to speak, he opens their ears and their hearts.  They accept the gift.  I’m just the delivery man.

10. There are two key parts to vs 14, the first is the word share, also written as obtain in some translations.  This means it is personal, it is mine.  It is something given to me and I possess it as my own.  It isn’t loaned, it isn’t an unobtainable state to be sought, it is shared and I take it and not only does it become part of me, but I become a part in it.  The second part of the verse is specifically about what we are sharing, the object, “the glory of our Lord Jesus.”  One of the meanings in Strong’s dictionary for the Greek word Doxa, the word presented here for glory, is: “the glorious condition of blessedness into which is appointed and promised that true Christians shall enter after their Saviour’s return from heaven.”

11. I think there are several:  We are chosen, we are sanctified (transformed into something holy), we share (possess the glory of Christ), we are loved by God and all this is given through grace (not earned, not conditional on anything we can provide).

Conclusion:

I heard the most interesting compliment about one of the women’s group BSF teaching leaders in our town.  The person talking about her said, “she prays more than any person I know.”  What an amazing compliment and example.  We see it here in Paul’s letter as well.  This isn’t just a letter, it is a written document of praise to God.  Look at 2:13.  Paul says, “we ought always to thank God for you.”  He doesn’t say we ought regularly, daily, when we pray, while at church, during quiet time or anything of the sort.  He says we ought always to thank God for you.  I believe that one of the reasons Paul became such a voice to the church is because he was constantly in communication with God.

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 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.