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 15, Day 3: 1 Thessalonians 2–3

Summary:  These central chapters of this book focus on the specific, personal, loving connection the authors have for the recipients of the letter.  This is family.  This is and overflowing love.

Questions:

6.

2:2 with the help of our God we dared to tell you his gospel

2:4 speek as thos approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel

2:7-8 cared for as a nursing mother, shared not only gospel but lives as well

2:9 Not a burden

2:10 holy righteous and blameless

2:12-13 As a father: encouraging, comforting and urging

3:10 Night and day we pray earnestly
7. a.  We are destined for trials and persecution.  But greater angst is in concern for other believers and greater joy comes from encouraging reports of them.
b.  Whenever I begin to feel that I stand strong on faith, challenges occur, discipline ebbs, energy wains.  My spirit is strengthened by the gospel and family of Christ, but that does not mean I don’t suffer temptation, weakness, doubt and fear.
8. a. 3:1 When we could stand it no longer.  3: 12 make your love overflow for each other and for everyone else as ours does for you.
b. Both are true, but in comparison, I am so reserved in my love for others.  I feel the love for fellow believers, particularly those I share with through BSF (especially the kids), but does it overflow?  Do I reach the point that “I could stand it no longer?”  I’m much more reserved and would love to be more free.
9.  A strong heart, strengthened by God, overflowing with love and waiting in anticipation for the return of Christ.

Conclusion: I am amazed by the love Paul felt.  I have felt homesick and longed to be back with family.  This is the closest I can relate to the feelings that Paul is expressing.  He not only calls the Thessalonian believers brothers and sisters, but he longs to reconnect and commune with them exactly like a mother or father longs to be with their family.

BSF Acts: Week 12, Day 5: Hebrews 10:19–39

Hebrews 10:19–39

Summary:

The author reminds us that this is not simply a cognitive discourse or mental exercise, it is real and as such calls for action.  We are exhorted to live a life in keeping with the gift that we have received.  And we are also to understand that the free will we are given to accept or reject this gift of sacrifice and to sign up to be covered by it is ours to make – but their are consequences for rejecting the gift.

Questions:

13. Let us:

  • draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith: Pray with confidence and trust – not being timid and trying to hide my sin – God has forgiven it even before I’ve committed it.
  • hold unswervingly to the hope we profess – Am I living my life with an eternity focus or a short term focus?  Am living in the line or the dot at the beginning of the line?  How straight is my line pointing to God or does it swerve?
  • consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds – Do I encourage someone every day to come closer to the love of God?
  • not give up meeting together – Am I in communion with God and my community or do I spend too much time privately with the Lord?

14. The sin is rejecting God – we are given free will to receive or reject (without it eternal life wouldn’t be a gift, it would be a forced state).  If someone refuses to come into the house, they weather the storm on their own.

15. They get all that they deserve – eternity spent in regret

Conclusion:

The book of Hebrews does a good job of bridging the misunderstandings that many have between the old and new testaments, particularly in the understanding of God.  Many think of the God of the old testament as one of vengeance and war, death and fury and the God of the new testament as a God of forgiveness and love.  But God is God.  He hasn’t changed.  This was His plan from the day man decided to disobey Him.  And lest anyone be confused, read vs 31: It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

God loves the world, but those who choose to stand on their own, bear the weight of their sins – a price they cannot pay.  Eternity is a very long time to spend in regret.

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 12, Day 3: Hebrews 8:1–9:10

Hebrews 8:1–9:10

Summary:

Jesus is the High Priest of the new covenant.  The old covenant was made by man with God beginning with a promise of obedience.  The new covenant is between God and God for the benefit of mankind.  It is perfect and complete.  Jesus serves in the tabernacle in heaven directly in the presence of the Almighty (which He is), not empty handed but with the ultimate blood sacrifice and offering, that of His own life on the cross paying the price for all eternity.

Questions:

6. Jesus is our high priest in heaven in the heavenly tabernacle in the presence of God.  He talks with God daily about us and has made the ultimate offering and sacrifice for us to be cleansed of the stain of sin.
7. From verses 6–13 we read that the new covenant is superior to the old covenant. See Exodus 24:7–8.

a. An agreement or promise made between 2 parties

b. Old: Man promised obedience to God’s law, God promised forgiveness of sins through blood.  The people did not remain faithful.  New: God provided forgiveness of sins through the blood of His son, God promised all men will know Him and His law

c. (Personal) I do nothing to receive forgiveness, I only do works out of rejoicing.  I live under the new God/God

8. There were regulations for worship and structure.  There were also restrictions to entry and only timing as well as the preparation that needed to go into place in advance.  The sacrifices were not sufficient, only ceremonial.

Conclusion:

This whole deal of “deal-making” is a very human condition.  How often do people in trouble make promises to God, playing “let’s make a deal”?  If you will get me out of this mess then I will…  The problem with that is the same problem that existed under the old covenant.  Everything belongs to God anyway.  It would be like me saying to you – I want to make a deal with you, I’ll buy your car with the money you have in the bank – give me your checkbook and I’ll write you a check for it right now. 

The old covenant helped people see that they needed forgiveness and that the path to forgiveness was through sacrifice.  But they lacked anything sufficient to deal with.  Not only that, but the one thing they had, obedience, they failed at even as the law was being delivered.  God stepped in, through Christ, and paid the price that was sufficient – once and for all.

BSF Acts: Week 12, Day 2: Hebrews 7 and Genesis 14:18–20

Hebrews 7 and Genesis 14:18–20

Summary:

Jesus is an eternal high priest in heaven in the order of Melchizedek.  This is presented as a contrast to the Levitical priestly lineage of Aaron.  Jesus is a return to the original, not a new release of the inferior and inadequate copy.

Questions:

3. a. 1. priest of God Most High

2.king of righteousness

3.king of peace

4.Without father or mother,

5.without genealogy,

6.without beginning of days or end of life

7. he remains a priest forever

Difference: Melchizedek was like the Son of God – Jesus was the Son of God

b. Melchizedek was superior to Abraham because he blessed Abraham (greater blesses the lesser) and Abraham gave offering to him (honor).

4. On the day the law was to be presented to the Isrealites they were consumed by idolatry including Aaron.  The Levites clung to Moses and with sword executed the punishment on their brothers.  This set them aside and placed them as administrators of the law of Moses.

5. a. v20: You are a priest forever. v24 because Jesus lives forever He has a permanent priesthood, v 25 He always lives, v28 The son has been made perfect forever.

b. The knowledge that one such as me, a man in every way, sits at God’s right hand providing a path for God’s love to flow to me.  God sees the pureness of His son, not the filth of my sins.

Conclusion:

I cannot imagine the job of being an old testament priest.  Every day killing animals, a business of blood and burnt flesh, butchering and sin.  Feeling and seeing and asking God for forgiveness of the sins of your kin, your brothers.  Only to wake up the next morning and do it all over again.  Day after day, year after year.  It had to be a bloody, dirty, weary job.  But Jesus wasn’t a new version of this same old drudgery.  God gave us a peak at the plan he had for Jesus in Melchizedek back in Genesis.  Melchizedek wasn’t a butcher, he was a blesser.  Melchizedek wasn’t the sword who killed, he was the king who praised and was worthy of a tithe of father Abraham.  Jesus does not offer new sacrifices day after day after day, covered in blood.  He sits victorious, whiter than snow, permanently bridging through love and grace our pathway to God for all eternity.

BSF Acts: Week 11, Day 4: Hebrews 5:11–6:3

Hebrews 5:11–6:3

Summary:

Believers are encouraged to move forward (mature) in their faith, progressing from the basic tenants of faith to depth of knowledge and understanding.

Questions:

9. a. Resistance to let go of old ways and old understanding (paradigms).  The first 4 chapters of Hebrews have addressed these issues of carry forward from old teachings, but there is a time to let go and grasp the new reality.

b. (Personal) Many of my areas of spiritual immaturity stem from misunderstandings of what the scriptures really say.  So much of the bible that we learn, even from regular church attendance, only skim the waves.  BSF provides an avenue of maturing through studying verse by verse word by word.

10. To not distinguishing right from wrong

11. The word of God, but more specifically meditating on the word: being filled with it in mind and spirit through prayer and study and communion with others.

12. a. (Challenge)

Repentance from acts that lead to death: Rom 6:23 – The wages of sin is death

Faith in God: John 3:16 – Whoever believes in him shall not perish

Instruction about baptisms: Mar 16:16 – Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved

The laying on of hands: Luke 4:40 – people brought to Jesus all who had various kinds of sickness, and laying his hands on each one, he healed them

The resurrection of the dead: John 11:25 – Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies” , 1 Cor 15:52 – For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.

Eternal judgment: Rev 20:15 – If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire

b. (Personal) I believe I am ready – I would like to spend time studying Revelation, but I feel I am prepared to teach others.

Conclusions:

I wonder how many school teachers have Hebrews 5:11 on their classroom wall?  “We have much to say about this, but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn.”

But, joking aside, it is an important reminder that we are to progress not only in our knowledge but in our spirit and our faith.  One of the things I love about the children’s program in BSF is the memory verse time.  By the end of the year the children have 30 precious verses hidden in their heart.  I am amazed at how many times I rely on these memory verses as I face the thoughts and challenges of life and faith.

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)

BSF Acts: Week 11, Day 2: Hebrews 4:14–16

 

Hebrews 4:14–16.

Summary:

The previous verses emphasize how the word of God is alive and active and sharper than a double edge sword.  It convicts us of our sin, cutting down to the bone of our being.  But the good news is in these verses.  Not only do we have (like family, like a husband and wife) a high priest in heaven, but we have one who understands and sympathizes.  So much so, that when we show up at the alter empty handed he already provided the sacrifice necessary to cleanse us of our sin.

Questions:

3. a. a great high priest

b. joined together with – According to Strong’s: those joined to any one by the bonds of natural blood or marriage or friendship or duty or law etc, of attendance or companionship

4. a. The temptation to not stay fully man.  Jesus was fully man and fully God.  At any point he could have pulled out his God card, but he didn’t – he suffered as a man

b. (Personal) Chocolate – OK, it ranks up there, but probably not my biggest temptation.  As I think about it, mine is the opposite of Jesus.  Jesus was tempted to rely on his divine nature, I am tempted to rely on my human nature and pride.  All too often I act like a bossy child and fight God saying “me do it”, rather than thanking Him for His love and what He gives me.  I think of my possessions as mine, my knowledge and wits as mine and my time as mine – when really it is all God’s to begin with.

c. It helps in 2 ways: (1) the one making atonement on my behalf understands and sympathizes – he isn’t ever going to give up on me (2) yet, while totally a man and not relying on his divinity, Jesus resisted all temptation – there is hope to do better, it is not an impossible struggle

5. a. The sacrificial offering for forgiveness of sin was made in the courtyard of the tabernacle, the dwelling place of God while with the Israelites. The grace is that we approach this need for washing away of our sins empty handed, yet, our high priest provides himself as the perfect offering

b. I think it is very important for each of us, every day, to recognize that we are in need of forgiveness and yet we have absolutely nothing to offer to earn that need.  It is only by grace that we are saved through faith.

Conclusion:

I love the way the author of Hebrews is so clearly answering the questions that the early Jewish converts must have had.  How does Jesus fit in with God and angels and man?  What was He doing on earth?  Why did he need to be here?  What about the law and Moses?  And in today’s lesson, what about the high priest and sacrifices?  While it answered their questions it give assurance and comfort to us.  We are not cut by the word of God so that we may feel pain and bleed, but so that we recognize the grace with which the Son of God took on all the pain and bleeding ever required to atone for our sins.

BSF Acts: Week 10, Day 5: Hebrews 4:1–13

Hebrews 4:1–13

Summary:

A clarification on rest.  If rest had meant simply the rest that the Isrealites had received when they finally entered the promised land with Joshua, then God would not have spoken about it after then as something to come.  But He did and the rest that He spoke of is much grander than just rest from being weary, it is a promise of spending the rest of eternity in love with Him.

Questions:

14. To spend the Rest of eternity in Heaven with God, also Resting in the assurance of being in Christ’s family

15. a. 4:2 Hear the message combine it with faith. 4: 11, remain obedient

b. (Personal) Yes, I have accepted Jesus as my personal savior so I have begun my eternal life with Him, however, I lose opportunities for rest in this world through my disobedience.

Conclusion:

One of the men in our circle made a comment about the Sabbath rest that hit home to me.  His comment was how he suffers when he decides that He knows better than God and decides to work on Sunday.  The perspective was that since God is in control if He didn’t enable something to be completed up through Saturday night, then how arrogant and disobedient it is to decide that he must know better than God and work on it on Sunday.  Maybe it isn’t supposed to be done until Monday.  Maybe God has other plans.  But through disobedience and a lack of trust we put ourselves above the the sovereign.

The word is alive and active and I have definitely felt the cut of the sword this week cutting into the areas that need to be pruned from my life.