21 BSF Matthew Week 21, Day 3

Today’s Scriptures

My Daily Journal:

It is often helpful to put ourselves into the biblical story.  By immersing ourselves into character, we not only get a deeper sense of the message but we are better able to see how we should apply the truth and change our daily walk.

In the story of the land owner and workers found in Matthew 20, our first inclination is to put ourselves in the position of the worker and Jesus as the land owner.

But, let’s take a different view point.  What if you take on the character of the landowner.  This isn’t a stretch.  Romans 8 says we are heirs with Christ.  Jesus himself refers to his followers as stewards.  What if we are the stewards of this land?  What is the message to us?

I see several:

1. Be relentless in calling others into the harvest.  Jesus said the harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.  How much of that is because we aren’t repeatedly showing up to find people waiting to be called?

2. Give each worker a full measure of God’s word and grace.  Some of the workers were doing a lot of different things with their life before they were convicted to show up at the street corner.  How often do we tend to hold that against them?  The landowner gave the first workers a full measure.  He did not give the later workers any less.

3. Don’t negotiate.  The bible says what the bible says.  How often are we tempted to water it down to fit the views and opinions of others.  We fall into a trap of the world’s view of “fair”.  God is just and He doesn’t hold back His grace.

4. Expect persecution but watch for the joy.  What did the landowner hear about when he passed out the wages?  Did he hear the joy of those called late in the day?  Maybe a little, but it was mostly drowned out by the grumbles of those called early.  It is easy to focus on the grumbling, the persecutions in life, so much so that we sometimes miss the joy.

My Answers:

7.
a.
Eternal life is the denarius – but it isn’t earned nor is more earned by longer work or greater deeds

b.
He calls the workers.  He has the work and the pay.  He provides grace and love and complete reward

c.
They have an entitlement attitude.  They judge themselves based on other men (not a sign of humility) and find themselves more deserving then are upset at rewards given to those who have worked less

d.
At any point I am called to work it is a blessing – Thankful for the reward I am given, not jealous or self-righteous, but be humble

e.
That He would work so hard to call us to work – He doesn’t need us, we need Him, but He pursues us over and over again.

07.5 BSF Matthew Week 7, Day 5

Today’s Scriptures

My Daily Journal:

“Each day has enough trouble of its own.”  This line from Matt 6:34 made me laugh out loud because it is so true and so ridiculously shows my approach to life.  I worry.  I get stressed about the balls I’m dropping, the things I’m leaving undone.  I worry about the things I have forgotten or not done fully.

But it is like looking at the calendar and going, “Oh, a week from Tuesday, hmmmm, it doesn’t look there is going to be enough trouble on that day… I should probably find something to worry about so I can add some much needed stress and trouble to that day.”   I know, ridiculous, right?  But that is what I’m doing when I worry.  And, what does my worry gain – not a single positive thing.  Lot’s of negative things (health, hair, happiness), but nothing positive.

The lessons over the past couple of weeks have been very convicting to me.  Let me use an analogy to explain.  My kids participate in the county fair and take a number of entries, particularly in the foods category.  In the baked goods area there are basically two types of entries, decorated cakes and then things like breads and pies and cookies.  Cake decorating is all about the outside appearance: icing, fondant, piping, decorating.  When a loaf of bread comes in, however, one of the first things the judge does is to take a knife and cut it right down the middle.  They are looking for consistency, doneness, texture, smell, etc.  While I would prefer to be a decorated cake, in God’s judgment, I am a loaf of bread.  The way I live and act among other believers at Church and BSF, how much I pray or listen to Christian radio, all of that is icing.  The pharisees and hypocrites were masters at icing.  We try to use icing to cover up flaws over here and redirect attention over there.  But God slices right down the middle and his expectation is that my faith permeates my life consistently.  If my interactions with co-workers or my family or difficult people (other drivers on the road) doesn’t reflect His mercy and bring honor to Him, then I have opportunity for improvement.  The answer isn’t more icing.  The answer is to continue to ask the Holy Spirit to permeate every minute of my day.  When I hold back things from Him, when I continue to think I need to come up with the answer and/or do it on my own, I show that I don’t trust Him with that part of my life.  That is a ridiculous thing to do.  Am I not more valuable than a bird.  Do I not have more worth to God than a flower in the field.  Put righteousness first, not just at church and bsf, but in everything.

My Answers:

12.
a.
life, what you will eat or drink, about your body, what you will wear

b.
26: birds eat, you are more valuable, 28-30 clothing = flower, 31-33 eat, drink, wear – trust God and put righteousness first and all will be provided 25 is not life more than food, body more than clothes, 27 life: can worry add 1 more hour?

c.
All of them.  Not so much for self but for loved ones.

07.4 BSF Matthew Week 7, Day 4

Today’s Scripture

My Daily Journal:

I wouldn’t call it a treasure, but it is definitely something people hold on to, sometimes even to the grave.  Call it righteous indignation, personal justice, the need to get even, to get back, to set the record straight.  It is ugly, but it is also very, very human.

I know “christians” who have said of a family member, “I will never forgive them.  What they did was beyond forgiveness.”  But Jesus teaches that our forgiveness is conditional.  We are forgiven as we forgive.  And if we do not forgive others, then we will not be forgiven.  We may try to justify it and claim what they did was worse than what we do.  But, I don’t see that covered in these words of our Lord.  Either forgive or forfeit your own forgiveness.  It is another of those “free choices” we get to make.

Forgiveness doesn’t mean condoning their behavior.  It doesn’t even necessarily mean reconciliation.  It simply means that we no longer hold their transgression against them and, I believe, pray that God turn them back to Him.  This is hard.

It brings to mind the book, Amish Grace, How Forgiveness Transcends Tragedy.  If you haven’t read it, here is the synopsis from Amazon:

On Monday morning, October 2, 2006, a gunman entered a one-room Amish school in Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania. In front of twenty-five horrified pupils, thirty-two-year-old Charles Roberts ordered the boys and the teacher to leave. After tying the legs of the ten remaining girls, Roberts prepared to shoot them execution style with an automatic rifle and four hundred rounds of ammunition that he brought for the task. The oldest hostage, a thirteen-year-old, begged Roberts to “shoot me first and let the little ones go.” Refusing her offer, he opened fire on all of them, killing five and leaving the others critically wounded. He then shot himself as police stormed the building. His motivation? “I’m angry at God for taking my little daughter,” he told the children before the massacre.

The story captured the attention of broadcast and print media in the United States and around the world. By Tuesday morning some fifty television crews had clogged the small village of Nickel Mines, staying for five days until the killer and the killed were buried. The blood was barely dry on the schoolhouse floor when Amish parents brought words of forgiveness to the family of the one who had slain their children.

The outside world was incredulous that such forgiveness could be offered so quickly for such a heinous crime. Of the hundreds of media queries that the authors received about the shooting, questions about forgiveness rose to the top. Forgiveness, in fact, eclipsed the tragic story, trumping the violence and arresting the world’s attention.

Within a week of the murders, Amish forgiveness was a central theme in more than 2,400 news stories around the world. The Washington Post, The New York Times, USA Today, Newsweek, NBC Nightly News, CBS Morning News, Larry King Live, Fox News, Oprah, and dozens of other media outlets heralded the forgiving Amish. From the Khaleej Times (United Arab Emirates) to Australian television, international media were opining on Amish forgiveness. Three weeks after the shooting, “Amish forgiveness” had appeared in 2,900 news stories worldwide and on 534,000 web sites.

Fresh from the funerals where they had buried their own children, grieving Amish families accounted for half of the seventy-five people who attended the killer’s burial. Roberts’ widow was deeply moved by their presence as Amish families greeted her and her three children. The forgiveness went beyond talk and graveside presence: the Amish also supported a fund for the shooter’s family.

This is the light and salt we are called to be as Christians.  Impossibly difficult? Without God’s help it would be impossible.

My Answers:

9.
a.
money, possessions, friends, minions, praise, name…. None of these last past death.  Time spent teaching is never lost. Time spent loving others in God’s name survives all.

b.
Honor of God, Disciples brought to Him and/or trained.  Love invested in others for His sake.  Light and Salt.

c.
Psalm:Law from your mouth is more precious that silver and gold
Luke:Do not store up riches for yourself on earth, but store up riches in heaven
1 Cor:God’s preparations are greater than anything we have experienced or can imagine
2 Cor:What is seen is temporary, what is unseen is eternal
Phil:On knowing Christ, everything else is as garbage
1 Pete:inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade

10.
a.
It is their addiction.  What they put above everything else.  Our “talents” are minutes on this earth, given to us to invest.  Spending that time in meaningless self accumulation is not an investment

b.
I serve the Lord.  I seek to reflect His light in all aspects of my life.  I struggle and sin, but I put my trust in Him

c.
Fear.  I know I need to trust in Him unyielding in all aspects of my life, but I fear I am missing something or letting something drop, not living up to expectations, not doing enough

11.
Sin so often begins with where our eyes go.  Eve “saw that it was good”.  What we allow our eyes to see is then in us.  If we fill our senses with Godly things, then Godly things fill our life

07.3 BSF Matthew Week 7, Day 3

Today’s Scriptures

My Daily Journal:

I’m really feeling for the Teaching Leaders this week and their closing prayer.  I’m guessing they will all be short and to the point with no “babbling”. 🙂

But with prayer and giving, I think we need to be careful not to get confused.  The emphasis is not on secrecy, it is on honoring and glorifying God.  Someone can give / donate secretively without it giving glory to God.  Sometimes we can get so wrapped up in the secrecy that lessons are missed.  I think it is important for our children to learn the importance of tithing and to know their parents honor God that way.  They is not to bring glory to the parents, it is an example that is set that is in accordance with the scriptures.  I think it is also important that our children and spouses see us study the scriptures and pray.

I also don’t read this passage as an indictment against rote / memorized prayer.  Praying the scriptures can be a very important and meaningful method of praying and one Jesus modeled and taught us to use.  I don’t think chanting something makes it have magical powers.  But I think relying on the comfort of scripture-based prayers, either spoken or in song, can be an important way of conversing with and honoring the Lord.  David seemed to do a lot of this in the Psalms.

I also liked that the Luke passage was brought in.  We are not supposed to beg in prayer, just like we don’t want our children to give us puppy dog eyes and says “please, please, please, please, please…”  That is annoying and not honoring.  But it is appropriate that every time a thought or need ways on our mind and heart we turn that over to God.  If I am have fears or worries about something, I’m to trust God with that every time it comes into my consciousness.  There is nothing wrong with persistence.

 

My Answers:

6.
a.
do not keep babbling like pagans, thinking they will be heard for their many words.  God knows what you need before you ask Him.

b.
no babbling.  Trust God and say what needs to be said, period.  But pray each time it comes to mind/heart

c.
More trust and conversation, less begging and whining

7.
God you are holy and above all.  I long for your rule over both heaven and earth.  Fulfill my daily needs, forgive my transgressions but hold me accountable to honor you in my thoughts and actions.  Protect me from temptation and evil and save me from sin

8.
a.
Prayer is a personal conversation with my Lord and King.  I need to be honoring and respectful and trusting and humble.  All is in His power and I need to trust all to Him.

b.
To be persistent but not begging.  To trust Him, but to also clearly and repeatedly ask for His intervention

c.
I talk with God in quiet ways and turn to Him in obedience, but I don’t journal the way I should or set a time of disciplined daily prayer

 

07.2 BSF Matthew Week 7, Day 2

Today’s Scriptures

My Daily Journal:

Our instruction in the scriptures today reminded me of the Goofus and Gallant cartoons we would read in Highlight Magazine.  The cartoons always featured two young boys with a choice to make and Goofus always made the wrong choice.  The simple message was, don’t be a Goofus.GnG

In this passage, Jesus is speaking to us in the same way.  “You see the Hypocrites (Goofus)?  Don’t do that!”

But the message goes one step further because there is also a “because” in the message.  There is a reward.  Let’s face it, we are all motivated by rewards.  They can be sticks or carrots, i.e., avoidance of negative consequences or desire for receiving positive rewards.  They can be extrinsic or intrinsic, but it is a simple part of being human.  God doesn’t deny that for us, instead He provides it.  Jesus doesn’t say not to be a Goofus just because He says so.  But instead because we are going to miss out on the bigger reward.

There was a game show (I’m not remembering the name so someone might have to help me) where the contestants were allowed to pick between what was behind Door #1 and Door #2.  Door #1 is the things we can see in this world.  If we choose the rewards behind Door #1, we forfeit what is behind Door #2.  You don’t get both.  But here is the deal.  With God as the host, Door #2, the unseen rewards in heaven, is always better.  Always!

 

My Answers:

3.
a.
“When you”, “your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you”
“do not… like hypocrites”

b.
they have received their reward in full – reminds me of Goofus and Gallant in Highlights

4.
a.
serve, give, help, but do so humbly and to the honor of God

b.
trust, patience, honor

5.
a.
better than thou attitude.  Christian righteousness. Using religious symbols to further work (fish/cross)

b.
heavenly rewards.  Good gifts of honor and recognition

c.
by accepting worldly recognition, they do so at the forfeiture of heavenly recognition. Door #1

d.
Do things for God’s glory and trust God to honor what honors Him.  Focus on Righteousness

06.2 BSF Matthew, Week 6, Day 2

Today’s Scriptures

My Daily Journal:

In our discussion this week about moral law, ceremonial law and prophecies foretold I did some digging into the old testament prophecies and found these two great resources:

The first is a side by side list of over 350 old testament prophecies and the corresponding new testament references demonstrating Christ’s fulfillment: 351 Prophecies Fulfilled in Jesus Christ

The second is a “school house rock” style video that demonstrates the probability of any of this just being “chance.”

In particular, today, I was struck by the question about the bible becoming living to me.  When I mechanically do my study, I get the mechanics of the scriptures.  I see the words.  I see the do’s and don’ts and the blessings and the warnings.  But that is all I see.  However, when I pray first and really put my mind and spirit in a time of openness to God’s revelation, I experience God’s word in such a deeper way. For example, in Sunday School recently we discussed Isaac and the blessings to Jacob and Esau (Genesis 26).  Through that study I was struck by the fact that Isaac didn’t just “take back” the blessing that Jacob received and it made me realize none of us can ever truly “take back” words that we speak.  They carry forward with a life of their own.  We can try to explain them, soften them, translate them, but once spoken we can’t unspeak them.  Then, tie that Old Testament lesson to the New Testament lesson this week about knowing the old testament teachings and speaking the truth always.

It brought to mind a good steak.  The old testament is the breed of the animal, the feed that went into it, the aging process, the marinade used, the perfect temperature of the flame, the hand of the experienced chef.  Sure, with out any of that, the steak (new testament) could still be nourishment and something for me to chew on.  But without the old testament I lose the flavor and the full experience that God intended.

My Answers:

3.
a.
Respect and honor.  He did not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.  They are to be practiced and taught.

b.
Through BSF and Sunday School teaching, my love of the old testament has grown in the past few years.  I have too often viewed it as out-dated and difficult – as a rule book that doesn’t apply now.

c.
Begin with prayer.  Ask for Jesus’ help through the Holy Spirit to open my eyes and heart to how these ancient words point to Jesus and how they apply to my life today.

d.
Study of Isaac’s blessing of Jacob and Esau – I am too casual with words, treating them like something I can take back or erase, but that isn’t the case.  Once words are spoken they take on a life of their own and carry weight.

4.
a.
Heb 9:27 die once and then face judgment.  Ephesians 2:9 Not by works, so that no one can boast.  Luke 18:18-27 “you know the commandments…” and “then come follow me.”

b.
Heb 8:7-13 (quoting Jeremiah 31) Jesus is the new covenant, the old is obsolete.  For Christ is the end of the law, that everyone who has faith may be justified” (Rom 10:4), Mark 12: 28-34 – Love God and Neighbor more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices

c.
In many and various ways God spoke of old to our fathers by the prophets, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. (Hebrews 1:1-2)
“Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of me” (Psalm 40:7).
“The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy” (Revelation 19:10).
“…all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me” (Jesus Christ, Luke 24:44)

01.4 BSF Matthew: Week 1, Day 4

Today’s Scripture

My Daily Journal:

“I am the Lord’s servant.  May your word be fulfilled.”  What if we each prayed that prayer every day?  What if that was a guiding statement for our to do lists?  What if that was our heart’s true desire each day?

Such a simple statement.  But so challenging to live out by our own strength.  This is not how the world lives.  It is not how our neighbors or co-workers or fellow students live.  It is not how media tells us to live.  Frankly, we can’t live this way on our own strength – it is not in our human nature.

But it is in God’s power – and all we have to do is what Mary did, submit with our words and our hearts.  And then, what joy and what blessing.  Mary allowed God to use her fully as a completely empty vessel, laying down her own desires to be in charge of her own life and taking on a willingness to fully serve.  And what did God do, he filled her in a way that is completely unimaginable.  He gave her a gift not given to any other, ever.

“I am the Lord’s servant.  May your word be fulfilled.”

My Answers:

7.
a. do not be afraid, you have found favor with God, Conceive and give birth to a son, call him Jesus, 1. He will be great, 2. will be called the Son of the Most High, 3. Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 4. He will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever, 5. His kingdom will never end.

b. Spirit of God.  Spirit of God is God, the creator, spirit gives birth to the spirit

8.
a. I am the Lord’s servant.  May your word be fulfilled.”  Submission, acceptance, serving spirit.

b. My place is not to second guess or argue with God’s direction, despite how much I don’t understand it or feel that I am the right vessel.  I need to accept and serve Him