BSF Acts: Week 16, Day 2: 2 Thessalonians 1

Summary:

Paul’s second letter to the Thessalonians opens with prayer, praise and thanksgiving.  Paul also, as always, keeps the focus on the object of our faith, our reunion with Christ on the day of the Lord.

Questions:
3. a. Paul is grateful that their faith is growing, their love is increasing.  They show perseverance and faith in the face of persecution and trials.  Paul thanks God for these things because he understands that all of this comes from God, it is not by their own doing but only through the power and authority of God that these blessed things are occurring.
b. (Personal) I can see the maturity in my spiritual walk increasing this year.  I can see my faith and conviction to the word growing and my love for others expanding.  I am truly experiencing joy in seeing the legacy that I have been blessed to be a part of in helping teach 1st and 2nd graders about God – hopefully in a way that encourages them to stay in the word their entire lives.  I understand when Paul talks about the blessing he feels from God by being able to share the gospel with these new converts – it isn’t just a blessing to them.

4. Paul says:
a. Jesus will be revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels.  He comes to punish and be glorified and marveled.
b. Christ is glorified IN his holy people and marveled at AMONG all who believe.
c. Punished with everlasting destruction, shut out from the presence of the Lord and cut off from the majesty of his power.

5. Paul prays that God may

  • count them worthy of his calling
  • fulfill every good purpose of theirs
  • fulfill every act prompted by faith
  • the name of our Lord Jesus glorified in them and them in him

Conclusion:

I was particularly struck by the prepositions in verse 10.  He comes to be glorified in his holy people and marveled at among all those who have believed.  I had always read this as: He comes to be glorified BY his holy people and marveled at by all those who have believed.  Being glorified “in and among” the body of believers is a completely different and richer meaning.

Jesus doesn’t require any further exaltation – he is already at the right hand of God.  He comes to reunite with the believers to raise the church up into glory with Him.  What a magnificent reunion that will be!

 

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.

BSF Acts: Week 15, Day 2: 1 Thessalonians 1 with Acts 17:1–10

Summary:  Interesting that we left last week discussing encouragement.  1 Thessalonians is a book overflowing with encouragement for a growing church.  You’re doing great, stay the course.  Stay true to what we modeled and taught you.  Challenge yourself to do more, grow more, love more, give more.  Stay assured and true.  There is also a repeating message of hope, hope for the family of believers, brothers and sisters, and hope for a reunion with Christ upon His return.

3.

1 Thes 1:10″and to wait for his Son from heaven”

2:19 For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you?

3:13 May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones.

4:15 According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep.

4:16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.

5:2 for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.

5:23 May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
4. Their strength came from the gospel, which they received and lived out withe the power of  the Holy Spirit and deep conviction.
5.  1:3 We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.   Because this is the perfect eulogy.  What better thing could anyone say at your funeral

Conclusion: 1 Thessalonians is such a notable and encouraging book because it is so multi-faceted.  It provides a stable base to build on.  It provides a vision of what is to come.  It reinforces and strengthens the existing foundation and structure.  It encourages and admonishes continued growth.  It warns of pitfalls and concerns.  It beams love.

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.