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 298 (Oct. 25): Two sons parable shows who belongs to God, farming parable highlights church leaders corrupt hearts, wedding feast parable shows the chosen, coin story shows importance of God, earthly relationships not important for 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.

Matthew 21:28-32

Mark 12:1-12

Matthew 21:33-46

Luke 20:9-19

Matthew 22:1-14

Mark 12:13-17

Matthew 22:15-22

Luke 20:20-26

Mark 12:18-27

Matthew 22:22-33

Luke 20:27-40

Questions & Observations

Q. (Matthew 21:28-32): This is what I think is the “moral to this story”: So, Jesus is saying that, in their hearts, the tax collector and prostitutes believe in Him, but were not following yet.  And, the ones who followed God, were not committed in their hearts.  So, the ones who believe are better off with God than the ones who follow Him by sight alone.

A. I would call that is pretty close.  The younger son is the one paying lip service to obeying his Father, but ultimately does not do what the Father says — this is the way that Jesus has repeatedly described the religious leaders.  The older son represents those who are truly following the wishes of the Father, even if they aren’t on the “inside.”  They are doing what is right, which is what the Father ultimately desires.

Q. (Mark 12:1-12, Mathew 21:33-46, Luke 20:9-19): So, I got this one.  The farmers are obviously the Pharisees and teachers of the Law, the landowner is God, the servants are prophets and Jesus is His favored son.  The farmers don’t listen to the prophets, so God sends His son to see if they will obey Him.  They still don’t, they reject Him.  So, Jesus puts the question to the farmers, or church leaders, as to what will happen next.  You would think this would open the leaders eyes to their evil ways.  Then, Jesus gives them another example of them rejecting Him, but then He becomes the cornerstone.  I like Luke’s version where he says that anyone who stumbles over the stone — fails to see Jesus’s teachings — will be destroyed.  I also noted that those who have thought they were the heirs to the Kingdom of God lose their inheritance because of their assumptions that, by default, the kingdom is theirs.  But, they are not following God’s intentions.  They are following their own selfish ways.  So, the Kingdom of God will be granted to those who they have trampled on.

A. Spot on.  Nothing to add here.

Q. (Matthew 22:1-14): God and Jesus use a lot of wedding imagery between them and their followers.  Can you talk about that?  Also, this is an easy story to understand.  But, how about explaining the last verse, “For many are called, but few are chosen.”  I’m not sure what “chosen” means.  I would guess it means, “For many are called, but few are worthy.”

A. If you think weddings are a big event here, then you would REALLY be impressed by the wedding feast imagery Jesus is talking about.  Weddings in the ancient world were huge festivals, especially when a ruler such as the king in this story was throwing it.  As we mentioned a few days ago, the festival could go for days, and the exact “end” of the wedding was not entirely known.  One other note that we find humorous: after the actual ceremony, the new happy couple would leave the group and go to, uh…consummate the union.  The wedding party itself literally WOULD NOT BEGIN until they had returned.  Isn’t that something?

We need to compare the two sections of the story in order to understand what Jesus is telling us at the end.  First, the call: the call is one that, metaphorically, goes out to all humanity.  But many do not answer, mostly because like the people in this story, they are too busy with their own business and internally focused.  But the man who is in the midst of the party and not in a wedding outfit — you were expected to wear your best clothes to a wedding, just as today, and many times the host would prescribe or even provide an outfit — brings into focus the last section of the story.  It points back to Jesus’s message in Matthew 7:21-23: not everyone who comes to the party will be able to partake of it.  The image that I have seen used to help us understand the passage is the wedding clothes represent the work of Christ covering up our sins (the “dirty” clothes).  Those who arrive at the “party” without the proper garment (the blood of Jesus atoning for their sins) will, sadly, be cast out.  Without the proper attire, which can only come for the true King, we are lost on our own.  Without a proper outfit, you cannot be “chosen”.

Q. (Mark 12:13-17, Matthew 22:15-22, Luke 20:20-26): What does Jesus mean by “Give Caesar what belongs to Caesar and give to God what belongs to God.”

A. The clue is in what Jesus asks for: a Roman coin called a denarius (the equivalent of the pay for a day’s wages).  In Jesus’s day, this coin would have borne the stamped image of the Emperor Tiberius.  That is, the coin had the “image” of Caesar.  And if we go back all the way to Genesis 1, we note there that man and woman were made in the image of God.  So Jesus is basically making a simple and profound statement about our loyalties: give to Caesar, He says, the things that bear the image of Caesar (the coins), since they “belong to him.”  But, He also says, the things that bear the image of God (us) belong to God, and by extension…not to Caesar.  In summary, Jesus is saying it is right to give to earthly leaders what is owed to them (taxes), but that their leadership pales in comparison to He who made US in His image.

Q. (Mark 12:18-27, Matthew 22:23-33, Luke 20:27-40): Obviously, Jesus is much wiser than me because I don’t understand this one.  All I can guess is that He is saying that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are not dead.  He is the Living God.  And, if He lives in us, we are eternally alive.  But, we do die an earthly death and then, when Jesus comes, we will rise again to be alive.  Right?  So, we would be dead for a time.

A. Our bodies are mortal, and will die, but our souls are immortal, and can be given the gift of eternal life from faith in Christ.  We will talk more about what the NT says about our resurrection when we get into Paul’s letters, but that’s enough for now.

Day 293 (Oct. 20): Jesus resurrects Lazarus, Caiaphas plots to kill Jesus, 10 healed but only one is grateful, Kingdom of God is coming, persistent prayers get answered

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.

John 11:38-57

Luke 17:11-18:8

Questions & Observations

O. (John 11: 46-48): It would have been much easier if the Pharisees had taken what they had seen for good instead of a threat.  I think they still saw Jesus as a Jew (meaning a “lesser” person) and he was a mere carpenter from Nazareth.  So, this undeserving weakling (to them) was a threat that they needed to squash.  I know I have this same kind of mentality toward some people and some toward me.  I have a friend who is going through all this nutritional cleansing and at first I thought it was just a hoax — but it held my interest because I am always interested in nutrition and have open ears for some of my own medical issues — and then she recently shared how she had woken up the last three days at 6 a.m. with her alarm and she felt bright and ready for the day.  My brain tells me to not believe it, but my heart can’t deny that she does look brighter and I would like to feel awake in the morning.  So, I can see how you can’t see the forest for the trees or whatever that saying is.  Also, I think I’ve said this before that when I told several of my family — even my mom — that I was doing this blog, they seemed to me to kind of shrug at it, like “we’ll see.”  I think dreams are often squashed — not intentionally — by those closest to us.  I don’t know why humans have made affirmation so important, but we need to rise above it, pay attention to our talents and what Jesus has commissioned us to do.  I know this is a little off to what this Scripture is about, but I think it’s an important point that we judge people because we think we know them.  Instead, we should lift them up whole-heartedly!

Q. (John 11:55-57): I can see the drama building.  Jesus is the talk of the crowd and they are wondering — probably wanting — Him to show up, either to see Him for themselves or to see the drama build between Him and the church leaders.

A. It’s not just that.  One of the expectations of the Messiah is that He would arrive in Jerusalem (as described in Zechariah 9) and from there, change everything.  Two things: Jesus will fulfill this prophecy on Palm Sunday, but the crowd will greatly misunderstand what Jesus has come to do.  They expected Him to lead a bloody, violent overthrow of the Roman oppressor, and establish God’s Kingdom that way.  Obviously, we know that Jesus had something else in mind.  But nonetheless, it is no surprise that the people were on tip-toe, so to speak, waiting for Him: they had great expectation that Jesus, if He was the true Messiah, would usher in a new age.  Hold this imagery in your mind for when we read the reactions to Jesus’ entry into the city on Palm Sunday.

O. (Luke 17:19b): I like the footnote version better, “Your faith has saved you.”

Q. (17:31-36): Is this scripture talking about the resurrection or Jesus coming again to judge? Leaving all your possessions — and your loved ones — behind would be very hard.  We have talked about this before.  Since my husband and I are both believers, we’d both be walking toward Jesus.  I think there would be some gathering of children — although, I know Jesus would take care of them.  I think this picture is more of what the end result will look like.  Families will be divided, coworkers staying behind, checkerboard neighborhoods with some gone and some staying behind, etc.

A. This passage and others like it are images of what we call the Rapture: people just disappearing in the midst of their daily lives.  To be honest, I am unsure how to interpret this passage in light of other stories of Christ’s return and the Final Judgment that will be ushered in by Jesus’ return.  It is a mystery of the faith, but it is one we will continue to explore.

Q. (18:1-8): Just believe that God will take care of us.  But, keep believing in Him by praying and praying persistently, which keeps your faith focused on him.

A. I think it serves as a reminder that there is great value in being a person who prays daily with faith in the idea that God is listening and desires to hear from us.  What an amazing thought: God DESIRES our input!

Day 291 (Oct. 18): Sheep know their shepherd because He is their protector, Jesus accused of blasphemy, Jesus tells of narrow door to get to heaven, Jesus cries out over state of Jerusalem, Jesus rebuked for healing on the Sabbath, Jesus teaches humility, parable of great feast

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.

John 10:1-42

Luke 13:22-14:24

Questions & Observations

Q. (John 10:16): I would think this is referring to the Kingdom of God?

A. Yes indeed.

Q. (10:29): I would think that “for my father has given them to me” would mean the ones who pass the tests are given to Jesus to care for.

A. Something like that.  It certainly reads like a verse that points to some form of Predestination- God has selected some people to be the “sheep” of Jesus.  What remains a mystery, however, is what “causes” God’s selection.

Q. (10:34): The prophets were called gods?  Why?

A. It is not necessarily referring to prophets.  The verse is from Psalm 82, and appears to be talking about the people of Israel being gods in the sense of having been adopted BY GOD.  Jesus is basically saying that there is scriptural precedent for Him referring to Himself as God in human form, even if those around Him do not see it that way.

Q. (Luke 13:27): So, God is saying that after judgment happens, there are no second chances — we’ve had millions already.  He, of course, used to know you, but since you chose to sin, he has turned his back on you and, frankly, doesn’t care about you, so thus doesn’t “know” you.

A. As we’ve discussed before, when we talk about our relationship with God as a race, we should consider that it is not God that moved or walked away at all, but rather that WE did.  I think that this gives us a proper understanding of what it means that God does not know us, we have no heart or consideration for the things of God, but desire only to go our own way.  This parable is also not saying that there is no hope, but it is a warning that judgment is real, and there are consequences for our rebellion.

Q. (13:30): I think this is so amazing how the tables will be completely turned around.  So, that waitress who you decided not to tip very good is rewarded much more than you are.

A. Its known as the Great Reversal: the last shall be first, and the first last.

Q. (13:33): Jesus calls himself a prophet here?  And, why Jerusalem?  Is it keeping the Scriptures true?

A. He is speaking of Himself as a messenger of God, and it will indeed get Him killed by those who claim to be of God.  Don’t forget that the midst of Jeremiah’s ministry, it was the leaders in Jerusalem who claimed to be speaking for God, but were in fact leading the people astray and telling them that everything was alright even in the midst of a coming threat.  That is the image Jesus has in mind.

Day 279 (Oct. 6): Disciples ask about pyramids and other things, Jesus explains scattering seed parable, why Jesus teaches with parables, parable of the lamp, winter weeds parable, parables of mustard seed and yeast, parable of hidden treasure and pearl, fishing net parable, Jesus calms the storm

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 13:10-23

Luke 8:9-18

Mark 4:21-29

Matthew 13:24-30

Mark 4:30-34

Matthew 13:31-52

Mark 4:35-41

Matthew 8:23-27

Luke 8:22-25

Questions & Observations

Q. (Matthew 13:10-23): I’m guessing that the Israelites hearts are hardened and disbelieving because they have been taught that way by many, many generations.  Their ancestors heard all the prophecies and chose to ignore them, a sentiment which would have been carried down from generation to generation.

A. The image of a stiff-necked people who ignore God appears to still be an apt one.  It is worth noting, however, that many of the common Jews of this day (especially the poor and needy) eagerly accepted the message Jesus proclaimed.  It was the leadership and the wealthy (notably the priesthood that was in cahoots with Rome) that rejected what Jesus came to do.

Q. (Matthew 13:16-17): What is it that they have been seeing and hearing?  The prophecies?  The Messiah?

A. Jesus is talking about Himself here, and the arrival of the Kingdom of God with His presence.  As we have noted, Jesus is proclaiming that the Prophets have spoken of Him, and so He is declaring that these men would surely have been envious of the disciples, who have the privilege of seeing their own words come true.

Q. (Luke 8:17-18, Mark 24-25): What?  Actually, after reading the second one, I had an epiphany.  Understanding means listening or being in tune to the Holy Spirit.  If you listen with your heart and not your ears, you will receive messages from the Holy Spirit.  How is that?

A. Sounds pretty good.  I would only add that those who were truly listening to Jesus were the ones who had faith in Him.  As with the message of salvation, faith is the foundation of hearing God’s word.

Q. (Mark 4:26-29): The Kingdom of God refers to the nation of believers?  I get from this scripture that once the seed (Word) is planted, it grows in ways unexpected and unexplained.

A. I’m not sure I would use the word nation, but you have the idea.  The Kingdom of God — something Jesus will continue to discuss is the place where God is rightly recognized as King and Lord.  This is the central idea: if we do the will of the King (Jesus — God in human form), we are subjects of God’s Kingdom.

Q. (Matthew 13:24-30): This one is easy: the wheat (believers) are good, the weeds (non-believers) will be burned.

A. I would call that close, but be careful about making assumptions that Jesus does not make in this story.  Jesus does NOT say that only believers are the good wheat, or that non-believers are evil, just that there is good and evil, and it is impossible to separate them properly at this time.

This parable is actually an incredibly profound insight into part of the problem of evil (called the theodicy problem from the Greek words for “god” and “justice”).  The central question of theodicy is this: if God is all-knowing, all-powerful, and all-good, then how can evil exist?  This parable provides part of the answer to two different aspects of this difficult theology.  First, the parable tells us that there is another force at work in the world: the evil one or “enemy” in the story.  So even the presence of a good God does NOT negate the existence of other powers.  The other question theodicy wrestles with is why does God not deal with evil as it happens?  Why does God allow injustice and evil (the Holocaust, the killing fields, etc.) and not do anything about it.  This parable answers this as well: God WILL achieve justice, but in the current age, the roots of “good” and “evil” are so intertwined that they cannot be separated without harm to the “good” roots.  So why does God not intervene RIGHT NOW?  Because He understands that there will be justice in the age to come, and though it might not make sense to us at the moment, God understands that there is too much at risk now to fully intervene against evil.  You can see why I find this parable to be so insightful and fascinating.

Q. (Mark 4:35-41): Just wondering.  Is it actually a sin to worry, to not hand over your burdens to Jesus?

A. Worry ultimately has its origin in a lack of trust in God.  Now that doesn’t mean we NEVER worry, but as we grow to more and more intuned with the will of God, I believe that the things we worry about will change and decrease.  Don’t forget Jesus’ reminder in Matthew 6:27: worrying does not add a single moment to our lives.  So how does it help?