Day 328 (Nov. 24): Everyone will be judged, Jews need to practice what they preach, God remains faithful, all are equal, all sin, through Christ we are saved, Abraham chosen for his faithfulness to be father of Jewish nation

Welcome to BibleBum where we are exploring the entire Bible in one year to better learn how to follow God’s instructions and discover the purpose for our lives.  The BibleBum blog uses The One Year Chronological Bible, the New Living Translation version.  At the end of each day’s reading, Rob, a cultural history aficionado and seminary graduate, answers questions from Leigh An, the blogger host, about the daily scripture.  To start from the beginning, click on “Index” and select Day 1.

Romans 2-4

Questions & Observations

Q. (Romans 2:5-11): Back in the Old Testament, I felt like all the prophecies were talking solely to the Israelites, which I think they were.  But, here, I feel like Paul is staring me in the eye and telling me this prophecy.  As to what this Scripture addresses: I feel that I’m doing some of what God wants, I just never know if it’s enough.  There are definite areas I can work on.  One is my dependence on God — emotionally, financially, socially.  I still see my weaknesses, but when I let God take over, they are no longer weaknesses.  My strength — when I ask for it — comes from God.

A. You’ve got the right idea.  What Paul is really doing here is making a very long-winded case that we just can’t make it on our own.  We all sin, and fall short of the standard, even the Gentiles who were unaware of the formal standard given to the Jews.  Paul wants to tell everyone, Jew, Gentile, us today, that we are lost without the work of God in Jesus Christ.  In the end, it is faith in God, and seeking His help, that is the foundation of our relationship with Him.

Q. (2:12-16): Why would the Gentiles be destroyed if they didn’t know anything about God’s written law?  I like v. 15.  It is similar to a thought I had this morning about sin.  My sin indicator is not written down, it’s in my heart (soul).  When something feels good in my head — showing off a bit, eating chocolate, complaining, gossiping (which I don’t do anymore, chocolate is my vice) — it doesn’t feel good in my heart.  That is my conscience, which I say is the Holy Spirit guiding me.

A. Paul is saying that your “sin indicator” is universal, everyone has one, even if it has grown “dull” over time.  That is why he can say that Gentiles will be destroyed for their sins.

O. (3:5-8): Talk about spinning the truth to fit someone’s needs.

Q. (4:1-25): I enjoy hearing about Abraham again … about how he was faithful and that was what made him righteous, and God, in turn, gives him salvation.   I like how he is used as an example that obeying the law does not win God’s love and/or earn salvation.  Circumcision, something that lots of folks get hung up on whether or not to have their boys circumcised, no longer signifies if you are set apart as God’s chosen.  Faith alone does that.

A. Glad Paul’s writings can help clear that up.  There is a reason that this book has been instrumental in bringing people to God through Christ for centuries.  It has a very powerful message.

Day 319 (Nov. 15): Letter for Gentile believers, Paul and Barnabas separate, Timothy joins Paul, Paul and Silas are called to Macedonia, Paul baptizes Lydia, Paul commands demon out of girl, Paul and Silas imprisoned and miraculously released, Paul and Silas ran out of Thessalonica, Paul welcomed in Berea

46 more days to the finale!

Welcome to BibleBum where we are exploring the entire Bible in one year to better learn how to follow God’s instructions and discover the purpose for our lives.  The BibleBum blog uses The One Year Chronological Bible, the New Living Translation version.  At the end of each day’s reading, Rob, a cultural history aficionado and seminary graduate, answers questions from Leigh An, the blogger host, about the daily scripture.  To start from the beginning, click on “Index” and select Day 1.

Acts 15:22-17:15

Questions & Observations

Q. (Acts 15:28): So, these are the laws that some church officials, along with the Holy Spirit, decided were to still be obeyed?  The rest of the laws go to the wayside?  I hope they were also told of the new law.

A. I think what this council decided is that these practices were the ones that most separated out Christians from the surrounding culture of idol sacrifice, which was common in the Roman world.  This isn’t a new law, but guidelines in how to be a Christian in a hostile world without corrupting yourself.  We will see the sacrifices to idols issue come up again.

Q. (Acts 15:36-41): I don’t know if there is any significance to this argument between Paul and Barnabas.  They had been together for so long.  I guess Christians can still be stubborn and disagree?

A. I’ve read different commentaries that downplay whether or not this was an actual “fight” or just a difference of opinion that led to a parting of ways.  It may have been the Spirit’s desire to see them separated so that they could cover twice the ground, if you will.  But there is no getting around that we Christians are still human, and can be subject to disagreement.  I was having a friendly argument about the merits of megachurches (he feels they are wasteful) just today, so yea, it still happens.  God uses even our disagreements to advance His Kingdom.

Q. (Acts 16:1-5): Here Paul is encouraging Timothy to be circumcised when Paul just spoke out against it and especially to Peter when he rebuked him for obeying old laws because he was scared of being criticized by Jews.

A. I think he was trying to ensure that Timothy would be accepted by the non-Christian Jews and be allowed in places like the Temple, which was forbidden to non-Jews.  I doubt Paul did this — or Timothy volunteered for it — in order to accommodate Christians.

Day 284 (Oct. 11): Jesus helps Gentile woman, Jesus heals deaf man and others, Jesus feeds 4,000, Pharisees asked Jesus to show them a miracle

Welcome to BibleBum where we are exploring the entire Bible in one year to better learn how to follow God’s instructions and discover the purpose for our lives.  The BibleBum blog uses The One Year Chronological Bible, the New Living Translation version.  At the end of each day’s reading, Rob, a cultural history aficionado and seminary graduate, answers questions from Leigh An, the blogger host, about the daily scripture.  To start from the beginning, click on “Index” and select Day 1.

Mark 7:24-30

Matthew 15:21-28

Mark 7:31-37

Matthew 15:29-31

Mark 8:1-10

Matthew 15:32-39

Matthew 16:1-4

Mark 8:11-21

Matthew 16:5-12

Questions & Observations

Q. (Mark 7:26b, 28): How would one know if someone was a Jew or Gentile without talking to them?  Jesus is calling the Gentiles “dogs” right?  He’s saying that He is supposed to take care of his own people before others?  She said though even the dogs are hanging around and getting love from the master.  But, this woman proved faithful, a hint that Jesus’s love and his salvation are meant for everyone?

A. Pretty much if they didn’t live in Judea, they were a Gentile.  It is very likely they dressed different as well.  In the story Jesus appears to be testing the woman (for reasons lost on me) and say that He has been sent to the Jews first (which is consistent with what He’s been saying the whole time).  But since her faith is proven, Jesus grants her daughter’s healing.

Q. (Mark 8:1-10, Matthew 15:32-39): Why do we hear this same story again only with 1,000 (plus wives and children) fewer people?  I’m guessing it’s because that the people — Jesus’s disciples, in particular — were still wavering on who Jesus was.

A. This crowd was probably more of a Gentile gathering than the feeding of the 5000, and note that Jesus refers to both feedings, which indicate their separate inclusion is not an accident.  It certainly appears to be something of a repetition to emphasize Jesus’ care for the needs of the crowd.

Q. (Matthew 15:33): The wilderness is brought up many times in the New Testament.  I’m guessing that the wilderness symbolizes a place 180° from the towns.  It’s where you could be alone with God and away from all the bad influences in crowded areas.  It’s also a place where you would become more dependent on and thus, close to, God, relying on Him for your own survival.

A. You’ve got the idea.  Jesus, in entering the wilderness, is again connecting with the history of His people, since they obviously spent many years in the wilderness during the Exodus period (a Matthew theme).

Q. (16:2-4): Can you explain why Jesus is referring the Pharisees and Sadducees to the story of Jonah?

A. In Jonah’s story, Jonah spent time in the belly of the great fish (a whale by tradition, but the word whale is never used either in Jonah or by Jesus).  He spent three days and nights in the belly of the fish.  There is some thinking that goes that since Jonah was inside the fish, the stomach acids discolored Jonah’s skin and hair, which would have made him look very strange.  Thus, when he finally traveled to Nineveh on his mission, it would have been very easy to get the people’s attention: he looked discolored, and possibly pale white.  This was apparently a sign to the people of Nineveh.  In the same way, Jesus’ body being buried and then returning to life in a different form (more on that later) was the sign to all those who were seeking after Him that His words were true.  The resurrection would prove to be the final “sign” that the people (including the religious leaders) sought, and many, including some of those leaders, would come to believe.  That’s the sign of Jonah Jesus refers to.

Q. (Mark 8:21): Jesus will give you all that you need.  He won’t skimp.

A. I like it.