BSF Acts: Week 23: Lecture

Aim: God has a purpose for me and for you

Why?  Why?  Why?  We love to ask that question.

Why do I have to?  Why did you?  Why did that happen?  Why didn’t that happen?  Why am I here?  Why do bad things happen to good people?  Why do bad people do well?  Why? Why?

But, so often we approach that question not really wanting an answer we just want to gripe and complain.  But, here is the answer, even when we are only fake asking:  Why?  Because it is part of God’s plan. Period.

Now, we may not always understand God’s plan and we sometimes may not like God’s plan, but who do you think is better at a making a plan?  Us or God?

Let’s look at how He communicated this to the Ephesian church through Paul:

1st Division: Eph 2: 1-10 We are made alive through faith in Christ

Principle: God has work for us to do

Illustration: Our job is to work – that is what it means to have a job – that is what it means to have purpose – that is part of the answer to the question “why?”  The work we do is not to earn something (wages or favor), it is simply what members of the family do.  In your family you have jobs.  They are not things others need you to do – let’s face it, your parents have far more experience and skill at doing most of the things than you do and sometimes they could do them faster than having you do them.  (sorry to burst your bubble).  But, if you do not participate, you are not part of the family – see that word participate – it starts with “part” and means you have to do your part.  If you don’t you aren’t.  God gives us work so we can be part-icipants in His family.

Applications: Are you doing work to be a part or to get something special?  Are you doing work gratefully or grudgingly?  What is God asking you to do but you are denying or hesitating?

2nd Division: Eph 2:11-3:13 Christ provides unity for believers

Principle: Christ’s church was a mystery

Illustration: Have you ever seen a magic trick?  A magic trick is kind of like a mystery.  To people on the stage, there is  no mystery, they know what, when and how everything happens.  But to people that choose to just sit and watch, they don’t understand, it is unclear.  The difference is perspective and revelation.  Jesus revealed to Paul the mystery.  God revealed it to Paul, Peter, Isaiah, etc. etc.  There was no lack of information.  But there were lots of people who chose to view things from their comfy seats in the audience.

The church of Christ – Jews and Gentiles, was always God’s plan.  It is not, “for God so loved the Jews”  God loved the world – and, thank God, because otherwise we would not be on the stage and part of the show!

Application:  Are you curious or just wanting to be entertained?  Have you made up your mind or do you continue to ask and learn?

3rd Division: Eph 3:14-21 Paul’s prayer for Ephesus

Principle: God is glorified through His power in His church (you and me)

Illustration:

“Filled to the measure of all the fullness of God”.  What an interesting statement.  It is easy to pass over because at first glance it sounds common.  I’m old enough to remember my dad pulling up to the filling station.  ding, ding.  The station attendant jogged out and my dad would say, “fill ‘er up with ethyl.”  But, wait a minute – while that is where this verse starts, it actually says more.  Let’s take a deeper look.

In greek, the first filled is the word πληρόω plēroō, (strongs G4137).  This literally means to fill it as full as is possible – that another drop would over flow, that another grain would fall off.  Literally that there can be no more.

Now, most of us would look at that and say – filled is filled. Anything over filled is spilled and wasted, right?

But Paul doesn’t go there.  He goes on to say filled to all the fullness of God.  The second fullness is πλήρωμα plērōma (strongs G4138).  In the New Testament verses, this word takes on additional meaning: the body of believers, as that which is filled with the presence, power, agency, riches of God and of Christ.  In particular, it is the same word used in Colossians 2:9, “For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form”.

See, even in this seemingly simple verse Paul is continuing to emphasize this important message.  He doesn’t want us to be filled in accordance with what our earthly selves can hold.  He is praying that we are filled to the fullness that Christ in us can hold – He is praying that we are filled with the fullness of the Deity in bodily form – He is praying that we are filled not to the level we can manage but to the level God can manage, not with human limits but with holy limits (are there holy limits or is it limitless?)

But what a contrast that is to how I think – I think that I have a tank that holds a certain amount, just like the tank on our car.  Filling it any fuller just would overflow on the ground and be wasted.  But I am no longer just me when I am a Christian.  I am no longer just me when I am a Christian.  (that repetition was on purpose – don’t make me say it a third time :-) ). I am the church.  I am the body of Christ.  I am the body of believers.  I am the power, agency and riches of God and of Christ.  I am limitless in God’s eyes.

Application: How are you asking God to fill you up?

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Acts: Week 21, Day 3: 2 Corinthians 10:1–11:15

Questions:

6. a. Luke 4, Jesus uses scripture to combat temptation by satan in the desert. Luke 22:32, Simon sifted like wheat, “I have prayed for you” Luke 22:44 “being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling”

b. Prayer saved me during a time of very dark fear in the hospital.  I had come out of heart surgery and my first night awake, the patients who had the same surgery on both sides of my room coded and died.  I remember reciting every prayer I could think of, including the Hail Mary which for a born and raised Lutheran was quite the feat.  As I have grown in God’s Word it has enabled me to teach and train others, particularly the young both in BSF, home and through other teaching and coaching.

7. a. Masquerading as an angel of light, as apostles of Christ. false and deceitful workmen. Masquerade as servants of righteousness.

b. cunning. lies, masquerades. the devil prowls like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour

8. a. Luke 4:1–2, 13: Jesus was tempted by devil in the desert

b. Luke 13:16: Jesus recognized Satan bound woman for 18 years

c. Luke 22:3: Satan entered Judas

d. Luke 22:31–32: Satan asked to sift Simon

e. John 8:44: Satan is a murderer and the father of lies – his native tongue

f. John 12:31; 14:30: judgment: prince of this world driven out

g. Revelation 12:9–11: the great dragon, accuser

h. Revelation 20:2: seized the dragon, satan, bound him for 1000 years

9. worldly jealousy is to covet what others possess. Godly jealously is to rightly desire what belongs to God and protect and preserve it as such.

 

End-Thoughts:

If you were Satan think about how you would do it.  First, you would do everything you could to make the thought of satan either be childish or weird.  Some made up tale.  It is much better to work covertly, than to have people understand that you are a real threat.  You would then get inside the church.  Work your way into church leadership where possible.  Be a false teacher that quotes from the bible, but, again, make the tough parts sound so silly and outdated. 

You would work your way up from the bottom of the commandment list.  You wouldn’t start with golden calves (although there are plenty to go around).  But coveting, that is way down on the list, start there. 

Don’t be fooled.  Satan is absolutely real as are his servants.  Christ recognized Satan as a real entity one who he interacted with and one who interacts directly with God.  That does make him on par with God, but it does make him real and an inhabitant of the spiritual realm.

 

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 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 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.