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 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 323 (Nov. 19): Paul tells church not to judge others, God’s apostles are not showy, Paul condemns spiritual pride, Christians should settle their own disputes, avoid sexual immorality, marriage instructions

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.

1 Corinthians 4-7

Questions & Observations

Q. (1 Corinthians 4:9): I was almost going to say that God continues to use humble people to spread His word and now He has allowed them to be tattered, according to Paul’s letter.  However, it wasn’t really God who made them dirty, hungry, thirsty, tired, weak, bruised, etc., it was the people treating them that way.

A. That doesn’t make the people like Paul spreading the message of the Gospel less humble; if anything, through humility they are able to withstand the mistreatment of others.  I certainly think the things that Paul and his companions experienced — and will experience, including martyrdom — will only increase the power of their witness.

Q. (4:15): I don’t understand Paul saying that He became the church’s spiritual father.

A. He’s the one who founded the church at Corinth, so that makes him their spiritual father.  He’s not really bragging about this, but is rather attempting to get the Corinthians to follow his example the way that a child often tries to imitate their earthly father.

Q. (5:3-5): I don’t understand v. 5.  I think what Paul is trying to say here is that we want to save this man who is disrupting the church.

A. Paul’s order is to expel the man from the church — a form of church justice, something that is sadly rarely practiced today due to our “winking” attitude to sin.  So if the man is kicked out of “God’s” territory (the church), then he is given over to the realm that is not of God, or Satan.  This isn’t a literal punishment: Paul is not saying a demon will get him, but rather he is hoping that being expelled from the community by his friends will cause him such anguish that he will repent of his sin and return to the community a new man.

Q. (6:2): What does Paul mean by the believers will judge the world and the angels?

A. As those who will rule with Christ as heirs, we have the implication that we will have some role in judging (the Greek can also mean “rule” or “command”) the world and angels.  It is a unique passage, frankly, and Paul does not expand on what he means here, so we do not exactly know.  It is possible that Paul is sharing something that he assumes his audience will already be familiar with — i.e. something they understood in their culture that has been lost to history.  Ultimately, we don’t know for sure what he means, but I think it is safe to assume that our role in the next world will be as some sort of ruler or leader of some sort.  Interesting thought, isn’t it?

Q. (6:1-8): I think many people use the justice system to resolve disputes because it is easier than facing each other and figuring it out among themselves.  But, if believers are coming together to form the body of a church, they should be able to settle their own disputes, which I think would actually make them closer.

A. I couldn’t agree more, and I suspect that is what Paul has in mind.

Q. (6:9-11): One of my best friends growing up became gay after a couple years of college.  He has an awesome, but struggling, heart and considering what he has been through — a dad that beat and threatened him on a regular basis, a mom who also suffered physical and verbal abuse and dealt with her husband’s cheating, and had been molested by many men close to him.  With attention from these men, it’s no wonder that he leaned toward homosexuality.  I do wonder how his judgment will fair, but I know that God is God and He is the judge.  I just wish he could get pulled out of that lifestyle.  Pray, right?  I need to call him more often too.

A. There is nothing sinful about being attracted to people of the same gender, but I feel the Bible is pretty clear about sexual relationships among people of the same gender (though I am aware that not everyone feels that way).  We all have our temptations that we must face, and that honestly makes it hard for me to want to pass judgment on homosexuals as a person who has never experienced a sexual attraction to a man.  God knows our hearts, and also knows our past and difficulties, and will judge us accordingly.

Q. (7:8): By Paul saying that it’s better to stay single than married, it sounds so against the way God designed humans and the world.  He made man and woman so they could come together and create more humans.  If everyone were single, the world would die off, well … if they abstained from sex unless they were married.

A. It is interesting to me that Paul brings such a different mindset to the situation then we are used to, and that God — and the Bible — are big enough to handle multiple ideas in tension.  As you well say, without marriage and children, there is no future.  But Paul is probably looking at the situation as a man who wanted to fully devote himself to doing God’s will (as Jesus, who was also never married, did before him).  So it is certainly fascinating that the two men most responsible for the Christian faith were unmarried and celibate — a tradition that is carried to this day by priests, nuns, and monks all over the world.  God can make either way for us work, but I think that Paul at least makes it clear that there are pros and cons to being single or married.  And in a society that is literally OBSESSED with weddings (less so marriages, but anyway…), I bet there are some interesting insights about celibacy in the reading.

Q. (7:10): This verse just makes me think of the spiritual parallel that God created between man and woman should be like the relationship between God and believers, only even more devoted.

A. Yes, I would agree with that.

Q. (7:25-28): What is Paul talking about here?  Why is he advising everyone to stay single?  And, honestly, I feel that some of these letters sound like personal problems of the church way back then that isn’t really our business.  Maybe this is an example of how our secret desires and motivations will be revealed on judgment day?

A. Something I didn’t mention in my above responses was that the early church went through varying degrees of persecution, and that would certainly shade his thinking about being married and having a spouse depend on you.  Imagine the heartache of dying for your faith (or being thrown in jail or sold into slavery) with a wife, or husband, women were martyrs too, you can read about some 3rd Century women martyrs here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perpetua_and_Felicity)- or even children at home.  I could see why Paul would say, “that’s not a great idea.”

I would also point out, that as a married person, it would naturally be harder for you to see the benefits of being able to give every waking moment over to God as Paul was able to do — and I’m sure his being single shaded his thinking as well.  But note that even in the midst of his thoughts on staying single, he argues that there is no sin in being married (which I realize is a “duh” to us, but anyway).  As I mentioned above, I appreciate that the Bible presents a perspective so radically different than my own.

Q. (7:31b): There are several references we have seen that alludes me to the conclusion that judgment day should have been during these times.  Paul makes the end of days sound imminent.  Yet, we have also read where Jesus isn’t coming until the most evil person rises up.

A. It hasn’t happened yet is all I can tell you.  Paul goes back and forth on the matter- some places he makes it sound immenent, other places not so much, you’ll see.

Q. (7:40): Paul doesn’t sound 100 percent sure that his advice is coming from the Holy Spirit here … or God (not sure who he is referring to).

A. Same difference.  I think he is clearly stating that God has not told him explicitly either way, which is just fine with me.  If God desires to leave the matter open, and clearly He did, then Paul is willing to say so.  That sounds about right to me.

Day 276 (Oct. 3): Pray from the heart, fast privately, store treasures in heaven, God will take care of your needs, do not judge others, prayers are answered, golden rule, few find gate to heaven, actions are telling of a person, true disciples, God is a solid foundation

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.

Matthew 6:5-7:6

Luke 6:37-42

Matthew 7:7-20

Luke 6:43-45

Matthew 7:21-29

Luke 6:46-49

Questions & Observations

Q. (Matthew 6:5-13): I remember huge prayers circles during revivals at my childhood church.  We circled around the pews along the perimeter of the sanctuary and held hands.  As a little kid, listening to prayers go on and on was grueling.  I think some of them just liked to hear themselves.  I wonder if those prayers are pleasing to God?  I am not much of a group prayer person.  I just say what’s in my heart, but — guilty — I often thank and request more than praise.  The prayer Jesus gave us here as an example is really short.  I would assume long prayers are OK as long as it doesn’t go on and on repeating or if it’s just for attention-sake.

A. You’ve got the idea.  Prayer should be about sharing our needs with God (including our feelings — God knows them anyway), and being open to what He desires to tell each of us.  There’s no need for it to be either purposefully longwinded — though it if happens to be, there’s nothing wrong with that.  It’s not like saying the words more or saying more makes God listen “better.”  As Jesus said, He knows our needs, but ultimately, prayer is about aligning our will with God, and addressing both what is on our heart and on God’s heart together.

O. (6:16-18): I am sure we have talked about fasting before.  I’ll save Rob the repetition.  I googled fasting and came up with this informative article: http://www.cbn.com/spirituallife/prayerandcounseling/intercession/hickey_prayerfasting06a.aspx

Q. (6:25-34): Food doesn’t seem very important to God and Jesus.  Humans think of it constantly.  It’s hard not to.  What are you going to give the kids for breakfast, what to pack them for lunch, what to make for the family for a nice warm meal?  And, keep sugar down, protein, fiber and veggies up and try to save money too.  Is the food pyramid unnecessary?  The Bible says not to worry about food.  Backing up to the verse previous verse where it says one cannot serve God and money.  If you have been reading this blog, you know that my husband retired from the military and started a new business and I have been a stay-at-home mom since my first child was born 8 ½ years ago.  I have applied at 8 various retail places, but no one wants to hire me because I made too much at my previous job and I don’t want to work on Sundays.  (I haven’t been looking a whole lot lately, because I’ve been busy and I haven’t received any direction on it from God.  Right now, this blog is my job, which I enjoy) Thus, money has been tight.  We’ll get to the first week of our monthly retirement check and have to watch our money.  But, it hasn’t all been bad, in fact it’s been a little liberating.  I don’t have to have the cupboards stocked, my kids have a lot of play time together because they are not in any extra-curricular activities and we talk to God a lot more than we used to.  I have a ways to go, but turning my life over to him is hard, but very fulfilling.  You?

A. Your thoughts on money as it relates to your walk with God are quite interesting, and I’m glad you are on a journey of exploration for what God desires you and your family to do next.  As to your assertion about God’s concern about food, I would make two responses.  The largest point Jesus is trying to make here, and also in the wilderness, is that food ISN’T everything.  There are more important things in life than food, though it is certainly important.  But if you constantly dwell on not having enough food — or the wrong kind of food, or whatever — you miss the point Jesus is sharing with us.  God will provide for our needs, even if not in the quantity — monetary or otherwise — that we might desire.  We must hold to our faith, and trust that God will provide.  To do otherwise will likely make us ungrateful for what God HAS provided.

The other thing is that I would disagree with your assessment of God/Jesus not caring about food.  The Gospels contain numerous stories told over broken bread, lessons based upon food, and great concern for feeding the people of God (the feeding of the 5000 is coming!)  But again, the point is clear: food should not be what drives us, our faith in God should.

Q. (7:1-6): The first part is hard, but the more we live, the more we learn that judging is worthless.  What good does it do?  None.  As far as what judging is, I think it’s putting your opinion on someone and pigeon-holing them to that characteristic you are judging.  They are so much more than that.  At a small group meeting, we were talking about homosexuality.  The group leader said he had a gay friend who said he is labeled as “gay” and that the rest of his personality doesn’t matter to others.  He said he wishes it wasn’t a defining characteristic of him.  I can understand that.  But, while maybe my best friend would be gay or an adulterer or whatever, I am not to judge him or her.  However, that doesn’t mean that God approves of their sins, but he does accept them?  And could you explain how to apply v. 6?

A. I knew a minister who said that we tend to treat sin like a creampuff, when it’s more like a rattlesnake.  That is, sin is actually dangerous, if not always to our bodies, but it is poison to our souls.  Should God “accept” one (or all) of His children playing with a poisonous viper that could kill them?  As a parent, I wouldn’t!  But here’s the thing: it is not our job to judge the hearts and actions of other people.  That’s what these verses are about.  The other thing that Christians tend to forget — especially now that there are more and more non-Christians out there in our post-Christian society — is that we cannot reasonably hold non-Christians to Christian standards of behavior.  It’s a waste of time and counterproductive.  THAT is what Jesus is talking about in verse 6 (he’s using crude language to do so, frankly): don’t waste your time giving holy, precious things (pearls) over to creatures that don’t even realize their value.  The end result is going to be failure.  That’s not to say we should lack a desire to TEACH Christian values to others, and proclaim the Gospel message, but it is wrong to HOLD OTHERS to our standards without them being aware of what they are or why we have them.  That is what it means to give pearls to swine.

Q. (7:12): This is pretty much the new commandment that encompasses the Law of Moses.  That, and the other more important one is “Love the Lord your God, with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind,” right?  Is there anything you would like to add?

A. It’s not new, but yes.  As Jesus says, it is a summary of all that has come before.  We will see this come up again, so let’s hold off on further discussion for right now.

O. (7:15-20): My daughter just got done reading “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” in school.  What a great book and movie.  I have only watched the movie.  This passage reminds me of the scene where the squirrels pin down Veruca Salt to see if she is a bad nut.  Here’s a link: (don’t worry, the incinerator doesn’t come on) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RmISVHxjcAI

Q. (7:21-23): I imagine that these are the people who looked like they had a great heart, or professed to, but were a bad nut.  Now, they are begging God to save them.  I have heard that if someone claims Jesus Christ on their deathbed, they will be saved.  But not bad nuts who say they are willing to follow him once they see him?

A. As we discussed in previous days, it is very difficult to know about the afterlife decisions that God makes when it comes to our souls.  All we can know for certain is what Jesus is telling us here: if the message of the Gospel never gets to your heart, and causes you to desire to change your actions and do what God desires for you, then I would be very concerned that your soul is in peril (I don’t want there to be any uncertainty about what I’m saying, and what I think Jesus means).  If the Gospel has no effect on your heart, then I wonder if you understood the message at all!  Those who understand the Gospel are those who desire each day to be more and more like God as seen in the person of Jesus, because He shows us the best of who we can be when we are in tune with our Creator.  If we truly understand the Gospel, we cannot help but have it change us.

Q. (7:29): What does “real authority” mean here?

A. It refers to the way that Jesus (in yesterday’s reading) said “you have heard it said…” and then say, “…but I tell you.”  The rabbis of Jesus’ day would never have done that, because they would have considered it adding to the Word of God, which they took very seriously.  They spent all of their time interpreting the words that they already had (the OT), and would not have thought of speaking in such as manner as Jesus does here.  That is the real authority Jesus presented, and clearly it got noticed.