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 258 (Sept. 15): Esther cautiously takes her request to King Xerxes, Haman’s plan to kill Mordecai, Xerxes honors Mordecai, King impales Haman, decree circumvents Haman’s earlier decree to kill Jews, Jews have victory, Festival of Purim, Mordecai promoted and was a “shepherd” of Jews

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.

Esther 5-10:3

Questions & Observations

O. (Esther 5:13): This sounds like modern-day ultra racism.  It’s hard to believe that racism — like God created one race better than the others — ever existed.  But, I still hear about it, especially in the last presidential election, from both “sides.”  Some were voting for Obama because he was black and others couldn’t handle the thought of having a black man in the White House.  I don’t get that.  Vote for the guy who will do the best job, period.  Skin color doesn’t matter.  My husband and I watched “42” the other night.  It was a long movie, but worth it.  It’s about Jackie Robinson being the first black player in professional baseball.  He had to take a lot of harassment and heckling, but his manager told him to take it, not show his temper and he would come out on top, which he did.  The scene I want to highlight was when there were white people in the stands calling him names and telling him he doesn’t belong.  There was a young boy, happy and celebrating his birthday or something — I don’t remember exactly, but he was in very happy, innocent spirits.  Then, when Jackie Robinson came in the spotlight, the white crowd started heckling him, telling him he doesn’t belong in white baseball.  The boy just looked at all of his adult “role models” doing this and decided it was the right thing to do and joined in.  I’m glad I didn’t live back then!

Q. (7:10): There is something about revenge that is satisfies and calms anger.  Here, King Xerxes is satisfied after Haman is impaled on a pole.  We have read that God’s anger can be satisfied with destruction and devastation.  Why is this?  God is God and He can think, feel and do as he pleases.  But, Xerxes.  I know you have said before that that’s just how the culture was back then.  But, in our culture today, we learn tolerance and give second and third chances.  We are taught to turn the other cheek or to gently, patiently show the offender the better way.  I have also learned that for me, revenge gets you nowhere.  I have never had any huge grudges that have made me want to hurt someone — make them go away, yes, but to hurt them, no — but I do have a history of wanting things my way.  I think many of us do, which makes relationships hard.  But, I have learned that when my husband and I are having a conflict, it does no good to try to be victorious in the battle.  It comes back at me with a vengeance and makes me feel like the bad guy.  Anyway, what changed that revenge used to be OK, but now it’s not?

A. From Deuteronomy on down (32:35 to be exact), the Jews are warned to not take revenge: vengeance is God’s business, not ours.  So I guess you could say that God “changed” the policy of His people — they were not to take revenge, but rather to leave it to God.  This went a long way in ancient society to ending the “blood feuds” where families or villages would get into endless back and forth killing to avenge someone they had lost on their side.  Revenge is poison to all involved.  Note that while Haman’s death is surely a form of revenge, it is not Esther that seeks it, but only the king.  Xerxes was under no obligation of God to avoid doling out vengeance (I’m not saying that makes it right, just noting he’s not under the Jewish obligations to do so).  Jesus and Paul will both have some powerful things to say about taking revenge and its danger, so watch for that.

O. (8:10,11): Yea!  We finally see evidence of how messengers were sent to all ends of the kingdom.  This was an interesting tactic to confront the decree that was already made against the Jews!