Day 355 (Dec. 21): Love all, respect marriage, God will never fail us, World is not our permanent home, Peter reminds believers that they were chosen, believers have hope for the priceless inheritance in heaven, trials make your faith genuine and strong, faith will earn you praise when Jesus returns, call to holy living for sake of salvation, love deeply, purify yourselves by getting rid of all evil behavior

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.

Hebrews 13:1-25

Peter wrote his first and second letter from Rome shortly before his death, which probably occurred in AD 64 during the persecution of Nero.

1 Peter 1-2:3

Questions & Observations

Q. (Hebrews 13:1): So the angels delight in humans when we are kind to strangers?

A. It would appear so.  That certainly reflects the joy in heaven that Jesus describes in Luke 15.

Q. (13:13-14): Wow.  I never thought about the fact that Jesus blood was shed outside the city, making him an outcast.  As Christians, we do feel as outsiders for a good portion of the time.  But, we can find respite in the community of believers.  Also, I know I have said this before and I don’t think it’s out of discontentment, but I have never really felt at home, like I was totally happy in a place.  I was close living in Hawaii, like 90 percent close.  It is so beautiful there, what I would picture heaven to be.  But, I remember growing up that I just didn’t feel like I belonged in Kansas (spare me the Dorothy jokes, please J).  And, we moved to Florida after my husband retired from the Navy, as it was closer to the likes of Hawaii, but it still doesn’t do it for me.  Then, if we did ever move back, I would be far away from family again.  So, I just think that no place is perfect and I’ll find my spot in heaven and be totally happy.

A. Peter is noting here the special role Jesus’ body had in the sacrifice he offered: the “scape goat” took the sin of the people outside of the camp (one image — Lev 16:8), and the carcasses of certain animals used in the sacrifices were burned outside of the camp because they were unclean (another image).  In short, the idea here is that since Jesus was taken outside of the “camp” (Jerusalem) to die, he symbolically took all of the sin with Him, which was God’s plan from the beginning.

Q. (13:21): To me, this is telling us to use those God-given talents we have and make them work for His glory and good!  Use the tools He gave you to grow God’s house.

A. That image of “producing” in us comes from John 15, where Jesus tells us about abiding in Him in order to thrive and produce good fruit.

Q. (1 Peter 1:1): Here is that word, “chosen,” again.  I am setting the meaning of the “chosen” matter that God knows our hearts before we are born.  He knows we will choose Him, and thus, He has chosen those people for His kingdom.  I can HOPE in this that I am correct.  But, this “chosen” issue I have been uncertain on, so I can hope that I will get my understanding resolved.

A. I will be no help to you in this instance, I am afraid.  Protestants have been arguing about what it means to be chosen for 500 years, so it’s pretty well worn ground.  The idea of being chosen is a dividing point between Calvinism and Arminianism — Calvinists assume election based upon nothing more than God’s free choice, while Armenians, as you suggest, see this as selection by foreknowledge.  I leave it to you to decide.

O. (1:7b): Another reason to have faith in Jesus!

Q. (1:12) Pretty cool that humans are going through something that even the angels don’t know until it’s happening.

A. It is indeed an intriguing thought that beings outside of time do not know our fate, and are in suspense of sorts.  No wonder there is rejoicing in heaven!

Q. (1:15): I have a ways to go to be holy in everything I do, but at least when I know that I mess up, I apologize a.s.a.p.

A. Forgiveness and grace are the main tools that God uses to drive us to be better disciples.

Q. (1:17): Judge according to what we do … I thought we were saved by faith alone.  Is it saved by faith, judged by works?

A. Yes, you’ve got it.

Q. (1:20): So God and Jesus have known all along that Jesus would die on the cross to save us from our sins.  God seemed so disappointed with Adam and Eve, but He knew they were going to sin?  Also, some places say that God chose Jesus to be our atonement and other places say Jesus gave up himself for our sins.  Will you explain this difference?

A. Coming back around to the free will question you asked earlier: the question you ask here is a big part of the reason I lean towards free will instead of predestination — the accounting for human choice.  God has known all ends since the beginning (no one doubts that), but God took the risk and created our race because, in my opinion, He values our choice to love Him above all other things.  We must CHOOSE to follow Him, though He certainly guides our steps.  But as soon as you, or even God, open the possibility of choosing love, you have given the person the possibility of also choosing to not love, to reject relationship.  God is not interested in robots, He desires children who want to love Him, but that must, by definition, involve a choice.  Nothing pleases me more as a father of a little girl than when she runs up to me coming through the front door and says, “daddy, daddy!”  I do not make her do that, she does it out of her limited understanding of what love is — and she chooses to love me.  Is that love always guaranteed?  Of course not (something surely God understands), but God appears willing to risk the rejection of relationship for the chance that His children will come to know and love Him.  That is Good News if ever there was any.

Q. (1:22): Does brothers and sisters mean those in Christ or everyone, believers or not?

A. He’s referring to believers — note the first half of the verse — but surely Peter would not disagree with loving those who are not.

Day 148 (May 28): Avoid immoral women, daily life lessons

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.

Proverbs 5-7

Questions & Observations

Q. (Proverbs 5): When I read this passage, I think of the ultimate temptress in Revelation that I have heard about in sermons.  I know temptation for sex is very strong, especially for men (I only know that because of all the self-help books I have seen).  We may have talked about this before in our readings, but I don’t recall.  Did we talk about if sexual temptation is one of God’s ways to test believers?  And, why is it stronger with men?

A. I do not personally fall into the camp that says God puts “tests” directly into our paths.  But in a fallen world, the temptations are there if you desire to see them.  For men (who are generally more wired to be “turned on” by the sight of women than women are for men), one of these temptations is to seek sexual conquest with women who are not their wives.  This can also include a man (whether married or not) sleeping with another man’s wife, which, as the writer points out, is extremely dangerous.  Note that the passage is talking about a particular temptation: a women who DESIRES to sleep with a married man for her own gain.  So in addition to being a warning about the temptations and dangers of adultery, it is also a warning TO AVOID such seductive women all together! A woman who does not honor a man’s wife and married relationship is dangerous and poisonous to that marriage.

As to why women are not tempted in this way, I think the answer is related to what I wrote above.  Women tend to be tempted, in relationships anyway, by power and wealth- which would go a long way in explaining why the woman who attempts to seduce a married man in the first place.  She would see the man’s influence, or great wealth, and desire to have it, by having HIM.  The seduction by power or wealth certainly explains the women’s side of many affairs (Summit’s included, I’m sad to say): where a man sees sexual fulfillment in the arms of another woman (especially if he is not fulfilled at home, though I don’t want to make that sound like it excuses the affair, it doesn’t!), a woman sees security in the arms of the man, and is willing to violate the sacred marriage to get it.

Q. (Proverbs 6): God certainly pounds in the virtue of staying loyal to your wife.  I guess it’s the whole trust issue.  Breaking wedding vows — trust — hurts so many people.  The damage is almost irreparable.  How hard is it to be saved after committing adultery?

A. God can redeem any sin, including adultery, but I would be very understanding of a man or woman who had no desire to continue the relationship after an affair.  The reason?  The trust is gone, and there is no simple way to get it back.  It must be rebuilt over a long period of time, and I can see why a person who had been wounded in such a way would have no desire to invest the time required to rebuild that trust.  So it really comes down to whether the participants in the marriage desire to rebuild the relationship, which would just be speculation on my part.

Now having said that, I feel that scripture is clear that God desires for marriages to honor Him, and God ALWAYS desires the path of reconciliation, even when it is difficult.  God is clear when He says that He hates divorce (Malachi 2:16): it destroys lives, especially the lives of children involved.  So as we tend to come back around too often, we find some real distance between human desire (to gain closure through divorce) and Godly desire (that the participants honor their vows by staying together).  If you want a great read on how to honor God in marriage (it also has the great reminder that marriage is about God—not you), check out Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas.  I can’t recommend it highly enough.  The chapter on divorce is worth the cost of the book just by itself.