Day 343 (Dec. 9): Paul’s letter to Colosse, Paul’s work for the church, Christ can take over as the old self dies, those who live in Christ will share His glory, behave as an ambassador to Jesus, instructions for Christian households, pray, reflect Jesus in your actions

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.

Colossians 1:24-4:18

Questions & Observations

Q. (Colossians 1:27): What does “Christ lives in you” mean?

A. He’s referring to the presence of God within us, though I confess I am not clear on why he refers to Christ within us rather than the Spirit (though note that his larger point is that the Gentiles have been accepted into God’s family).

Q. (2:7):  How do you “Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him?  I would take it to mean that you take Jesus’ love into your heart and let it change who you are.  You let it grow until it takes over.  Then, you will be fulfilled?

A. What Paul is describing is cultivating a relationship with Christ via prayer, the reading of Scripture, and fellowship with other believers.  This is what will allow Jesus’ “roots” to grow in us, and make us more like Him.

Q. (2:20-23): Instead of following the ways of the world, we are to follow Jesus and copy his love and grace in our own way.

A. Yes.  Christ calls us to follow Him in our present circumstances.  What I mean by that is that Jesus does NOT want us to move to the Holy Land and walk around with a group of followers and the die for the sins of the world.  The real Jesus already did that: He doesn’t want clones, but people who willingly follow His teachings and act in the ways that He would act if He were living in your present circumstances.

O. (3:17): This made me think of how different I may act if I wore a name tag that said, “Leigh An, Ambassador for Christ.”  It certainly makes me sit up and think twice about it.

Q. (4:2-6): I admit it — God knows anyway — that I’m a daydreamer when it comes to praying.  I start off a little hasty because I am usually squeezing the prayer between two other projects, errands, etc.  I don’t think I pray respectfully.  Feedback, Rob?

A. Keep trying.  Like anything worth doing, it requires practice.  You must train your body in how to pray, and only you can make the process work — with God’s help, of course.

Day 342 (Dec. 8): Let Spirit be your power source, husbands and wives should be in a relationship as Christ is with the church, children should honor their parents, parents should bring them up in the Lord, God rewards slaves and masters alike who are in the Spirit, Put on armor of God, Pray at all times, Tychicus is going to Ephesus to give report, Paul greets church in Colosse, Christ is image of God, Christ is supreme!

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.

Paul wrote this letter to the Colossians while imprisoned in Rome.  He sent the letter to Colosse with Onesimus and Tychicus (See Col. 4:7-9), who were also carrying the letter to Ephesians (see Eph. 6:21-22).

Colossians 1:1-23

Questions & Observations

O. (Ephesians 5:18b-19, 20): I would say this is a good charge to be playing Christian music at all times.  We have a great station in Orlando, Z88.3! On a different note, v. 20 answers something I brought up a long time ago, that about when you pray, you only have to say “in Jesus name” if you ask for something.  Here it says that you should also when you give thanks.  I just think it’s important to give glory to Him every chance you get.

Q. (5:20-33): Rob, it’s OK, I’m not on my women’s equality throne.  I used to cringe at this Scripture because I never wanted to be considered less than a man.  I think the bigger picture here is our relationship with Christ.  He is the one we need to respect, honor, obey, love, worship, etc.  And, he gives us love and blesses us in return.  He really does that without us doing our part.  Likewise, if wives respect, uphold and love their husbands, just as we should with Christ, our husbands will be better people, just as Christ is better if his believers are virtuous.  After all, together, we are His body.

V. 33 hits the core, I think, of what men and women struggle with in their relationships.  Men love themselves, i.e. can have egos.  If they love their wives to the same degree, they will have a loving relationship.  If they put themselves before their wives — note Christ washes the disciples feet and he endured a grueling crucifixion — they will likely have discord.  I have seen many relationships where if the man has a strong ego, the wife is usually quiet and obedient, not a light like God desires.  And, I think some wives may struggle with the respect virtue.  We have a mind of our own, and especially in modern times, we are nearly equal in prosperity.  So, when entering a marriage, you both have to think of each other and not make major decisions by yourself.  I struggle with this, as you can probably tell, because I didn’t marry until I was 31 and had my own ways.  I was always headstrong though.  Anyway, I think some decisions he makes are wrong, but I know that he is human.  Also, I have learned that if I don’t agree with him, I shouldn’t just be quiet.  I talk through it with him so then I have understanding of his thought process and then, I can fully respect him.  This scripture describes more of working together and submitting to one another — not that husbands dominate their wives — like v. 21 says.  Note that it says, “submit to one another.”  It doesn’t say just “women submit.”

A.  You’ve hit upon the key to this section at the end: the idea is mutual submission, and the husband leads in that he is the first to submit.  That, of course, does not make him perfect, but it certainly demolishes any foolishness about this being a “men should dominate their women and the women should just take it” kind of passage.  The man should lead the relationship (and the wife should follow) in his willingness to die for her- to be willing to die to his own desires (especially control over her).  Many times men mistake the meaning of this passage (as women do) and say things like, “she won’t submit”.  But that’s not what Paul says: he says she should submit- after YOU DIE TO YOURSELF!  That is radically different, and it is a shame to me that more people of both genders do not understand the true meaning of this passage.

O. (6:1-3): Note to parents that it says children “belong to the Lord.”  That means we should cherish them treat them with respect.  I have never heard v. 3 before.  I’ll have to read that to my children.  I have a great aunt who will be 104 in January.  I think she wishes she hadn’t been so obedient.  Just kidding.  She is lonely.  All her friends are gone.

Q. (6:5-9): Rob, here’s a good one for you.  Explain slavery in the pre-Civil War U.S. in regards to this Scripture.  The war ended slavery because the Union said slavery was bad.  Here, the Scriptures say is just a way of life.

A. Ok, here goes: the slavery system in the ancient world was a system of slave debt, which frequently ended in the freedom of the slave.  People were frequently sold into slavery to settle debts in lieu of going to prison- and this type of slavery was rarely for life.  Now this is to be contrasted with the life-long, horribly abusive slavery associated with the slaves who were kidnapped from Western Africa during the colonial period of the United States and the Caribbean.  Slavery within the colonial system was for life, with beatings, brandings, separation of families (something the Roman system would not have allowed), and, don’t forget, it would have been entered into via kidnapping.  A master could also hang or beat an American slave to death, something that would NEVER have been allowed, even in barbaric Rome.

 

Something important to note here is that, despite Paul’s writings, there were people on both sides of the colonies (England and America) that took up what they saw as God’s command to abolish a slavery system that was exploitive and not necessary any longer.  You can read about one of the most famous, an Englishman named William Wilberforce- his story is told in a fairly recent movie called Amazing Grace (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0454776/?ref_=nv_sr_1) which I would highly recommend to learn more about the reasons behind the abolition movement.

O. (6:8-9): Again, I would like to point out that God says everyone is equal here, no matter if you are a bazilliionaire or impoverished.  Remember where we read in the OT about how the tables will be turned when everything comes to light.  The overbearing people — rich, powerful (if used in the wrong spirit) will be shadowed by those they dominated on earth.  I think that is so cool that we will see our reward.  The test is to stay humble and on the right path.

Q. (6:11): What is the God’s armor?

A. It is a series of reminders that Paul presents using the metaphor of a solider putting on his armor for battle.  Paul is providing a reminder that there are spiritual, not merely physical, dangers in the world.  The devil has you in his crosshairs, Paul is saying, so you need to be prepared to deal with the spiritual realities of the world that we cannot see.  His advice is to remember the ways that God has provided for our spiritual needs, from the Bible, to guidance for our faith, to instruction in righteousness, in order to stand against the devil’s actions, and not retreat.  He is telling his people to stand firm!

Q. (6:18): What does it mean to “pray in the Spirit”?

A. I think he means using the Spirit to guide our prayers and give us insight into God’s will for us.

Q. (Colossians 1:22): There is so much depth to Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection.  I have never thought of myself as holy and blameless, without fault.  That is hard to imagine/accept.

A. Well, if its any consolation to you, your blamelessness is not your doing, but rather God’s.  Amazing Grace indeed.

 

Day 340 (Dec. 6): Paul and shipwrecked passengers on Malta, Paul unharmed by poisonous snake, Paul heals sick on Malta, ship arrives in Rome, Paul preaches under guard, Paul says salvation offered to Gentiles, Paul writes to Ephesus church, Paul prays for spiritual wisdom for Ephesus, we are saved through Christ (God’s gift of grace) alone, believers united as Christ’s body

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 28

Ephesians 1-2

Questions & Observations

Intriguing read today, eh?

Q. (Acts 28:25): Paul is talking to Romans here.  Did Romans come from Israelite ancestry?

A. No, but there was a sizable population of Jews living in Rome at this time.  That’s whom he is meeting with.

Q. (Ephesians 1:5): Why did God want us anyway?  He created us so we could share his kingdom with Him?

A. God was certainly under no obligation to work out salvation on our behalf, but did so out of His great love for each and every one of us — that’s the central message of John 3:16.

Q. (1:14): I still have trouble with not knowing why God seeks praise.  The only thing I can think of is that it keeps us focused on Him.  Also, if we are created in God’s image and He seeks praise, that tells us where we get it from?

A. As I mentioned in the previous question, God’s love and desire for relationship with humanity is a the heart of the Gospel, and part of that relationship is worship.  In times when we rightly see God for who He truly is (the central aim of true worship), we rightly praise Him for His mighty deeds for both His chosen people (Israel) and for each of us who are Gentiles.  God desires our focus, and I think that this is one of the central ways that we can grow closer to Him.  That is why I believe God requires our worship.

Q. (1:23): The church can mean a group of people who meet to worship Him and do His work, or it can mean the group of all believers as a whole, right? I think here it means the latter?

A. It means both (we sometimes use the big “C” when we refer to the eternal Church).  1:23 refers to the eternal entity of the Body of Christ — the Church for all time in every age.

Q. (2:5-10): Some revelations here!!!  It says it well and gives me some internal light that God’s willingness to let His most beloved pay for our sins and that he purchased us through is love that we could be sitting with Jesus beside God, our Father.  Grace (both Rob and I have girls named Grace) is the ultimate gift!  There is no greater!  I never thought too about salvation being something that is not to be boasted about.  It was a gift from God, we have nothing to do with it.

A. That’s not quite right: we have a role to play: we must believe.  The part that Paul wants to be clear is that we can’t brag about OUR role in the actions that brought about salvation to the world.

Q. (2:18): This verse is proof of the Trinity: 3 separate beings/spirits, but working as one.

A. Yes, each Person of the Godhead has their own role to play, and it is amazing to see them work in tandem to complete the task of salvation.

Day 331 (Nov. 27): Paul looks to Gentiles salvation to make Israelites jealous, God’s mercy is for everyone, treat everyone with the love of Christ, respect authority, clothe yourself in Jesus and resist evil desires, steer away from criticism, do not cause others to stumble in their faith, respect authority,

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 11-14

Questions & Observations

Q. (Romans 11:1-24): There are several questions I have in this passage.  Here are the questions:

1) Vs. 5-6.  I’m not sure what Paul is describing here.

A. Paul is saying that even among the remnant of His faithful people, they were saved by His grace, not their own actions.  That’s all.

2) V. 7: My understanding of this is that some Israelites remained faithful to God — they didn’t worship idols — and because of their loyalty, they are chosen.  And, God hardened the hearts of those that were not faithful to further divide the good from the bad, which would bring Him glory — just like he did with Pharaoh.  Those with hardened hearts take the role of the bad guys and kind of “push the envelope” of God’s plan a little farther into action so that his faithful will see His glory.

A. Yes, that sounds right, though I admit it sounds a little “off” to our modern ears.

3) V. 12, 15: Why would the world be better when the Israelites finally accept Jesus as their savior.  Is this still valid with Jews today?  And, v. 15 is the same idea?

A. That’s a mystery I don’t really have a good answer for, but yes, verse 15 reinforces the same idea.

4) V. 16b: So people can be saved just because they belong to a family whose leaders are faithful to God?

A. No.  They have the POTENTIAL to be saved because God is faithful to the family of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, but that does not ultimately help the individual.

O. (12:15): I have always taken notice of popularity contests: who people choose to attach themselves to based on the others’ status — popularity, wealth, personality, goodness, badness.  I had a friend where we used to live who I think has a great soul.  But, every time a situation came up where she had two groups of friends going to the same event — notably fireworks kicking off the Christmas season — she would choose one group over us and another family.  I don’t know why we couldn’t just all hang out together.  We all knew one another.  Anyway, it was awkward.  She kept us hanging saying that she may meet us there.  But, she would show up with the other group and barely give us the time of day if she saw us.  To her defense, it is hard to know whether to invite people from different branches of your life to the same function.  There can be that awkwardness.  But, I think it’s short-lived.  Like Paul says here: We all live in harmony and we are to enjoy everyone’s company.

Q. (13:1-7): I think we talked about this in the OT.  I understand this passage in the context of the times of the OT, but I have a hard time with accepting that authority shouldn’t be questioned in our government.  After all, that’s why the Pilgrims left England because they were not allowed to worship God the way they wanted.  So, I would say that they didn’t have respect for their leaders.

A. I think what you’ve done is provide the exception that proves the rule.  In many cases, Christians today (Americans in particular) have a “persecuted” mindset, and part of it has to do with the government.  Now there are some threats to religious liberty out there, but there is no active persecution of Christians today in this country that in any way compares to what was happening with the Puritans/Pilgrims (Happy Thanksgiving!) or, frankly, what is taking place in more than 50 countries around the world today including China and North Korea.  Unless we are under a TRUE threat, Paul desires that we submit to the authorities above us.  Don’t take that to mean, however, that we must AGREE with them, or that we cannot act in a peaceful manner to change the law.  I see nothing against these actions in what Paul is saying.

O. (14:1-23): Wow, there’s a lot said here.  1) Mind your own beeswax (look up the origins of this saying for some humorous theories).  2) God doesn’t care what we eat.  But, if one cares what he/she eats, then they need to stand firm on their convictions.  3) And, if one does not believe in the same way, they should not cause a rift and eat according to the other’s wishes.  V. 17 sums it up: For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of what we eat or drink, but of living a life of goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.  Basically, love one another.  Another verse says to not act like you know everything, making others feel inferior or irritated.  We do not lift up God by lifting up ourselves and putting others down.  Together, we are all integral to completing the body of Christ, so we should treat each other with love.

O. (15:22b-23): Wow, this speaks to me.  My hubby can basically eat anything and not have any side effects.  Me, I’m another story.  I became a vegan in college because I had a VERY liberal Political Science professor who showed my class a movie about the meat industry in America.  I think a lot of it has been fixed now, but I’m sure a lot still goes on. Anyway, after I saw the film, I tried to eat a Hawaiian pizza with Canadian bacon on it.  I couldn’t do it, so I subconsciously became a vegan.  Now, though, I can no longer have all the soy I want.  I switched to almond milk because soy milk started tearing me up.  I started to notice that my brain felt heavy and cloudy after coffee, chocolate — basically, caffeine.  Now, I’m starting to give credit to that feeling I have.  Now I notice it after a lot of processed foods, which I’m an avid eater of protein bars for lunch.  But, whenever it’s brought up in conversation, there is this awkward feeling like me or whomever is telling their diet tales is trying to affect the others.  Long ago, I made a decision to try to not make others feel weird around me being a vegan and it’s worked well.  However, several of my friends have gone gluten free and say they feel more alive because of it.  I feel pressure to try it.  But, giving up bread is not something I want to do to solve my dietary issues.  But, now that I’m paying attention to what gives me that feeling, I can hopefully figure it out.  I give the Holy Spirit the credit for helping me realize what foods are good and bad for my body.

Day 320 (Nov. 16): Paul preaches in Athens, Paul reflects on his visit, Timothy’s report about the church, live to please God, hope of resurrection

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 17:16-18:3

1 Thessalonians 1-5:11

Questions & Observations

Q. (1 Thessalonians 1:6): What is Paul talking to the church in Thessalonica about them suffering?

A. We read about it yesterday’s reading (Acts 17:5-14), where a Christian named Jason was targeted by hostile Jews and slandered, possibly being beaten in the process.  It appears that this was part of the type of persecution and suffering Christians received in Thessalonica after Paul escaped.

O. Through his letters, we see how incredibly close Paul feels to the Christians in these different cities.  What freedom Paul and other Christian teachers must have felt to preach and devote all of their time to educating others about Jesus.  I think of our sermon last week at church where the pastor said to throw away those things that bind you and get on with your own personal mission.  This blog just kind of came together at the last minute, thanks to my hubby, Jessica at our church and Rob (big thanks!).  It came together and I didn’t give it a second thought about doing it.  I just did it.  Now, I want to take it further, producing products that would be in your everyday life for everyone to see.  But, I have to wait on some funding to do that.  It’s taking longer than I thought it would for the funding part, but I know God’s hand is in it, so I know whatever happens will be what he wants.  But to let go of those chains that bind, like pride and patience, I have to wait for God to make it the right time.  He orchestrates well, so I need to leave it in his hands.  Doing that is the hard part.  But, Paul and the other teachers of the Gospel, just handed it all over to God and let him do the work of putting their missionary work together.

Q. (4:6): So God will avenge those who have sinned sexually?  I have always thought that when someone has immoral sexual practices that they are hurting themselves, hurting the ones they are in relationships with, etc.  I never thought about sexual immorality hurting God.

A. All sin is ultimately against God, whether directly via blasphemy, or indirectly by hurting one of His children.  And while I see the rhetorical point Paul is going for here, I do not believe that there is something about sexual sin that God will punish or “avenge” more than other sin.  This passage is meant to be a warning to those who were committing sexual sin, but all sin is punished, one way or another.

Q. (4:11): I would think that by “quiet life” mentioned here would mean don’t party, don’t be the center of attention, don’t be obnoxious or rude.

A. Don’t forget gossip, which is your classic combination of not being “quiet” when you should be and also not “minding your own business.”  I suspect that Paul is writing to people who had taken a bit too much interest in the affairs of others.

O. (5:11): Love this verse!

Day 318 (Nov. 14): Faith in Jesus took the place of the old laws, baptism makes all equal through Christ, Paul is concerned with church in Galatia listening to false teachers, Abraham’s two children illustrate the old and new law, there is freedom in Christ, let the Holy Spirit guide you, help your friends but stay strong to their sinful temptations, circumcision is old law, debate over circumcision requirement

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.

Galatians 3:24-6:18

Acts 15:1-21

Questions & Observations

O. (Galatians 3:27): I like this verse saying that we are all equal in God’s eyes.  Those Christians who don’t treat each other equally have obviously not read this verse!

Q. (4:8-20): I guess the church of Galatia was holding on to the laws and not dropping them to follow Jesus’ teachings?

A. It appears that they were being influenced by some sort of Jewish group that was attempting to convert the Galatian Christians into becoming their disciples, and much of their religion consisted of legalistic following of the Law, which is why Paul takes such great pains to say, “we are under the Law no longer.”

Q. (4:21-31): I love how Jesus, Paul and the disciples use the Old Testament prophecies and stories to tie to the New Testament stories and characters.  It’s so wonderful how they are intertwined.  The NT supports the OT and makes it legit.  The Bible is undeniably irrefutable!

A. I am glad you are seeing how all of the “pieces” are coming together.  Paul is deeply versed in the OT, and will quote from it frequently in his letters.

O. (5:19-21): I’m guilty of a few of these categories.  But, I’m working on them.  Knowing that I believe in Jesus and that pleases Him gives me much comfort.  But, I’m with the group of people that are on the right path to freedom of shame through Christ.  I have dabbled in the darker side in my younger days, but I believe that because I proclaimed Jesus when I was in the 4th Grade and was baptized, that the Holy Spirit has been with me and steered me away from going too far into the “dark.”  I don’t think I realized the depths of baptism then, but I feel blessed to have had parents and grandparents who steered me in the right direction until the Holy Spirit took over.

O. (5:22-23): I first heard these “fruits” from volunteering for my daughters’ Sunday school class.  If you have kids, this is a good one to show them: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YDNvUOZRFxs

O. (5:26): Jealousy is a tough one for me to overcome, but I’ve made big gains.  I notice that jealousy can cause self-defeating behaviors.  My friends’ kids are doing all of these after-school activities.  We aren’t yet.  We are waiting for God to give us the signal (money, however one teacher wants to barter baby sitting with us!) or not.  But, instead of highlighting what we don’t do as a family, I am finding a lot of joy in what we do do together.  My kids play together and have so much fun discovering the outdoors together, creating books, making me a jewelry box full of necklaces, etc.  It makes me feel fulfilled just thinking of my girls.  When I get jealous and think of the things others are doing that we are not, I feel a weird, bad feeling of shame and darkness.  Let it go!  I also think of keeping up with the neighbors and the bucket list of things I would like to do.  But then, I think about how short our life here is compared to eternity.  Which is better, to make sure life on earth is the best it can be or make sure you are on the path to life everlasting.  I think the latter will take care of the former.

Q. (6:8-10): I hear Paul here saying that we need to watch our own work, but then, as Christians, we need be there for each other in community.

A. Yes, both are important.  We must be watchful of our brothers and sisters in Christ (something, frankly, we as individualistic Americans have a huge problem with).  But Paul’s advice comes with a warning: be careful that you do not fall into the same traps as the friend you are helping!

Q. (6:17): Is this is where Paul mentions that he has some battle wounds from being stoned, but he didn’t die?

A. I don’t know specifically, but if he did indeed survive a stoning, he surely had scars from it.  As I mentioned, it won’t be the last time he gets banged up.

Q. (6:11-18): I know a lot of folks still choose to circumcise their baby boys.  After reading this text, I don’t think God cares one way or another if they are circumcised.  Personally, I think it is a fairly brutal practice.  Even God sounds like he thinks it’s barbaric now.  Maybe he chose this to set Israel apart because no one else would want to copy it.  If God chose an easy way to set them apart, others could easily copy it.  I think the Jewish community still practice this as a religious custom because they think it is a still a sign of the Jewish community?  I wonder if God would get upset with this since in the New Testament he adamentally says that Jesus is the way to eternal life, not circumcision or any other Law of Moses.

A. While it is by no means a requirement, many Christians still use the ritual of circumcision (Jews call it a bris) to honor God and show that their child is set apart as Jewish children were.  One must be careful in reading too much into what Paul is saying- Paul is referring to ADULT believers, not babies, in his discussion of the ritual, and that certainly makes a big difference in how the ritual is considered, wouldn’t you agree?
Personally, I do not believe that many Christians are under the impression that their children MUST be circumcised to be saved, and that it is a decision that they make in an effort to honor God.  It is a decision that is made with the freedom that God has given us in Christ, and beyond that, it is a parental choice.  Many do see it as “barbaric”, but many others see it as doing their best to honor the best traditions handed down from generations of Jews AND Christians.

Q. (Acts 15:1-21): I see the apostles are gaining respect among the church.  You said in a recent reading that the old school leaders go to the wayside as the Christian leaders begin to gain respect.

A. Something like that.  What I meant was with Acts specifically: the Apostles (Peter in particular) were the central figures of the first half of the book, but that Paul and his companions (Luke, Barnabas, etc.) will become the central figures in this second half as we read on.  The center point of the growing church will no longer be Jerusalem (I don’t think it is even mentioned again after this meeting), but rather Antioch, which is at the center of the Jewish/Gentile crossroads leading into Asia Minor and Europe.  We’re going on a road trip!

Day 317 (Nov. 13): Paul and Barnabus strengthen churches in several cities, Paul and Barnabus return to start of their trip, Paul’s letter is a pep talk to Christians, Paul proclaims his words come from above, Paul says his role is to preach to Gentiles, Paul confronts Peter for finding favor with Jews by following law of Moses, Holy Spirit is with believers not obeyers of the law, belief in Jesus Christ gives us freedom

48 days to go!

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 14:21-28

Galatians 1-3:23

Questions & Observations

Q. (Acts 14:21-28): The disciples knew they had to go to the synagogues to straighten out the mindset of those worshippers from the ways of the priests and some of the ways of the OT that Jesus’ crucifixion had abolished?  Also, to me this passage reminds me of modern-day missionaries.  They travel and then come back to a home church or supporting church and report their work.

A. Paul and his companions are no longer preaching in the synagogues, but to communities of Christians throughout this region.  This is especially true if you consider that Paul is transitioning from preaching to the Jews to preaching to the Gentiles.  But, yes, you have the idea for what Paul and his men are doing: they are entering an area that has a “foot hold” community, and working to strengthen it by whatever means are needed.

O. (Galatians 1:4): I am understanding more about our time on earth.  It was hard for me grasp that Satan was ruler of the earth.  But, now that I know that, I understand so much more.  I understand why there is a constant struggle to proclaim God/Jesus/Holy Spirit to this world that is flooded with evil.  I understand why evil is a constant temptation.  We are surrounded by it.  There is really no temptation to be good.  Good is good.  And then, there’s the feeling of not belonging to this evil world.  So many people just seem to go with the flow.  They don’t really seem overly happy, but that’s their world.  As a believer, I never really feel like this is it.  My family is awesome, but my home is nothing that I would say I’m completely comfortable in.  And, maybe that’s good because, ultimately, I don’t belong in this world.  I love the song by Building 429, that sum’s up this feeling http://www.godtube.com/watch/?v=KPK7ZPNX  I encourage you to listen to it, if you haven’t already.  I’m not home yet!

Q. (Galatians 1:23-24): In his early life, Paul persecuted Christians.  But, God used Paul as a vehicle to show that even the worst offender of Christianity now believes and is a teacher to spread the Good News.  So, I have a modern question about the former co-founder and minister of the church Rob and I attend.  Our former teaching pastor had been raised in the church, the son of a prominent mega church pastor.  He was an amazing speaker.  But, he fell to sin.  The papers reported all kinds of things and we didn’t know if they were truth or lies.  But, I myself, prayed for the goodness with in him to come out and return to his family and hopefully the public. He was such a leader and had been the vehicle for so many to attend our church.  (I know God had a hand in this.  Our church has lost about a 1,000, but maybe it needed to regroup.  I, myself, was watching the pastor’s performance more than taking the message in.  Now I remember more of the sermons with the two new pastors.)  I had been praying for him to just be OK and find his path in faith for God.  My prayers were answered when I saw him in church several weeks in a row, 10-11 months or so after he resigned.  What bravery that would have taken for him!  It was just nice to see that he was ok.  My question is, biblically, could he come back to have a role in the church?

A. Forgiveness and reconciliation are cornerstones of any church, including ours, so I think there is always an opportunity for that to occur, and I think it should.  As to whether this minister can again lead, well, that is (mercifully) a decision that I do not have to make, and I would not envy anyone who does.  That, I think, will be up to God.

Q. (Galatians 2:6): Here, Paul says that God has no favorites among leaders.  In choosing a church, my husband and I have always listened to the sermon as a first base for choosing one.  We tried several churches.  I love so many things about our church, which has an attendance of about 3,500.  But, I grew up in a small-town church where everyone knew each other.  There were quarterly potlucks where we all knew who made what.  Most everyone chipped in on every mission of the church, which was a much smaller scope than the church I belong to now.  I love the beliefs of Summit and the missions.  I do long for that church body where it’s easy to know everyone.  However, when I have attended smaller churches, I feel like the quality of the message is missing.  Thus, the bigger churches bring in bigger crowds because the pastors are better deliverers.  But, I struggle with wanting that sense of community and having an awesome sermon.  I have heard that no church is perfect.  I have talked with others who say the same thing: that they miss the community aspect of the church they grew up in.  I don’t know if you want to address that subject, Rob.  But, back to the verse: what Paul is saying here is that God doesn’t care who the more popular leaders are, just that they are doing their job of spreading God’s Word?

A. There are always tradeoffs made between community and effectiveness of the message.  A church with only 100 members — which, is actually the average size of an American church, and has been for decades — can provide many services and has a sense of community that is frankly lost among larger churches like ours.  Mega churches are capable of having a bigger impact on the community and world at large, and I believe that there are many “pros” to this type of model.  One of the things I learned about in seminary, however, is that a church that is determined to reach “mega” status must be willing to make sacrifices, especially when it comes to pastoral role in the worshipping community.  It is not a coincidence that our church has no pastor of visitation (something that has frankly never pleased me): the leadership has the expectation that the body itself will do visitation.  The pastoral role is reserved for casting vision, leading outreach, and running the “business” side of a church.  That is THE only way for a church to reach mega status — if its leadership is consumed with caring for the congregation, it simply will not happen.  I will leave it to you to decide what type of community you value.

As to what Paul is talking about, he is basically saying that God does not play favorites, and that He calls many people with many gifts to be His hands and feet in the world.  So it has nothing to do with how people view the “popularity contest,” and everything to do with how the Spirit guides and provides gifts for His workers in the Church.

Q. (Galatians 2:11-21): So, remember when I said that I wondered if the disciples could keep on the right path, given they have the Great Commission amongst all of the dissent in the world?  At first, I was going to say, “ha ha, told you so.”  But, that doesn’t give me a good feeling.  That’s not very Christian.  I am not surprised that one of them has tripped up.  But, I think what is more important to point out is that Paul was there to point it out and hopefully (we’ll have to wait and see) set Peter straight.  A lot of churches push accountability partners among their leaders and even among all Christian men.  Women could use it to keep those rambling pessimistic mindsets at bay.

A. No doubt that the early Church had its problems, but as Paul mentions, these men and women of God spoke up to address many of these issues.  Paul will have much more to say about the various problems of the early community in his various letters.

Q. (Galatians 3:15-23): This is confusing to ponder, but makes sense after you untangle it in your head.  Pretty amazing!

A. Paul will use this type of rhetorical style throughout his letters, so I would recommend getting used to it.  His letter to the Romans is full of discourses like this that run for several chapters.  But I agree, his point is pretty clear (and amazing) as long as you read the passage a few times.

Day 316 (Nov. 12) Angel aids Paul in escaping from prison, God strikes dead Herod Agrippa for taking glory, Barnabas and Paul preach together in Cyprus and Paphos, Paul accuses governor’s sorcerer, governor became believer, Paul preaches at Antioch of Pisidia’s synagogue, Paul intrigues Gentiles, Paul and Barnabas ran from Antioch of Pisidia to Iconium where they were run from town also, Paul heals crippled man in Lystra, Paul stoned but didn’t die

Only 49 days to the end!

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 12:6-14:20

Questions & Observations

Q. (Acts 12:6-19): Whether Peter was rescued for his own faith or because he had people praying for him or both, I think we can take from this scene, the results that can be realized through group prayer.  Rob, can you tell us of any verses where God or Jesus is telling us to pray together?

A. Actually, that is not a topic that Jesus really addressed outside of Matthew 18:19-20, which says that He is there in our midst when we gather and will give us what we seek, which is certainly applicable here.  It is the other works of the NT that will have more to say about this topic, so keep watching.

Q. (Acts 13:3): Also, can you tell us more about the “laying of hands.”

A. Sure: it was a way for a community to pray for a person.  The person prayed for would sit or stand in the midst of a group, and the group would place hands upon that person as they prayed — something many churches still do today.  It is frankly nothing especially complicated, but is merely a method of community praying.

Q. (Acts 13:9): I always thought that Saul became Paul after his transformation to Christianity.  But, as I googled it and referred to Wikipedia, I see that Saul is his Jewish name and Paul is his Roman name.  It says that he used Paul to put those to whom he was preaching at ease.

A. It is a common assumption that Saul’s name change to Paul was divinely inspired, the way that God changed Abram’s name to Abraham and Jacob to Israel, but that is not the case.  You have the right information on what Paul was doing, using his name to make the people more open to his message.  This will not be the last time that Paul will take advantage of his dual life.  Paul was a devout Jew in his former life as Saul, which helps him address Jews with authority, as he will do in Philippians.  And he will also pull out his Roman citizenship — something quite valuable in his day — when necessary as well to get out of trouble.  No doubt about it Paul is resourceful.

Q. (Acts 13:48): What does the author mean here when he says, “and all who were chosen for eternal life became believers.”  This makes it sound like the Kingdom of God uses predestination.

A. There is certainly some role of selection in the Kingdom, but once again I would point out: we do not know what is the criteria that makes a person “selected”.  It’s very possible that it is faith in God that makes one selected.

Q. (Acts 14:19-20): Is there any point worth mentioning about Paul being stoned, but not dead?

A. I guess what happened is that the people assumed he was dead, but he was not.  This verse is part of the reason that many scholars think that Paul was disfigured by this incident and the others to come — it will not be his last brush with trouble — but it certainly gave him a powerful witness.

Day 315 (Nov. 11): Cornelius Calls for Peter, Peter’s Vision, Peter at Cornelius’s House, Peter Explains His Actions, The Church in Antioch, Peter’s Miraculous Escape From Prison

Day 315 (Nov. 11): 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 10:1-12:5

Questions & Observations

Q. I enjoyed today’s reading and thought it was very easy to follow.  To me, the central theme of it was that God is erasing the lines between Jews and Gentiles.  He is fading out many of the old laws that were just for the Israelites.  The disciples and other believers in Jesus are now allowed to preach to the Gentiles.  However, it appears that there is still plenty of dissent out there from those religious leaders with hardened hearts who are standing by the old law and using it to persecute others.

A. Yes there are, and there are also Christian Jews who continue to question exactly how God is moving among the Gentiles, but we will see that the Spirit will guide Paul in preaching to the Gentiles and also to the Jewish Christians to bring them around.

Q. (Acts 10:9-16): So, for anyone, including the Jewish religious leaders, to understand that God was making food clean to eat that once was unclean and for them to know that God’s kingdom is for all believers, Jews and Gentiles alike, they would have to listen to the disciples preaching about it.  They were not privy to this information even though they were in a high position.  I can see how this would manifest jealousy and anger in the Jewish leaders.

A. The Jewish leaders who have not proclaimed faith in Jesus, frankly, will not be a part of this story much longer.  This is about what God (specifically the Spirit) is doing through these few thousand Christians and their leaders.

Q. (Acts 12:1-5): The disciples must have been somewhat discouraged by Stephen and James’ death.  Jesus sent them to spread the Good News, but now two followers have died.

A. He warned them about that repeatedly — specifically in John 15:18-25.  The world kills what it hates, which is why millions are still dying for the Gospel today.  But, Jesus reminds us, that He has already won the victory, and that nothing that happens to His true followers — including death — can change that. (From Leigh An: Our pastor spoke about the Bible Hall of Fame on Sunday.  He mentioned “this cloud of witnesses” — Abel, Noah, Abraham, Joseph, David, etc. — in Hebrews 12:1-3.  I think it says everything I need to say about the disciples having the right mindset to continue their mission. (Hebrews 12:1-3: Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.)