Day 334 (Nov. 30): Don’t let others influence you with their evil, Paul’s joy at the church’s repentance, give generously, praise to God for Titus, collection for Jerusalem Christians, Paul defends his 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.

2 Corinthians 6:14-10:18

Questions & Observations

Q. (2 Corinthians 8:1-5): Paul says give generously.  Our church says that every week.  But, if you have a lot, you give a lot, as Paul says, and if you don’t have much, you give what you can.  In Genesis, I read that the 10 percent of your income should go to offering.  Does this rule apply to all Christians now?  Also, I think there is a denomination that believes in giving all that they have to the church.  Is it Pentacostal?  What do you say about that?

A. The rule is simple: 10% is the standard for churches, and has been for centuries.  That is the REQUIREMENT — but God still calls us to be generous.  If there is more to give, and you feel God leading you to give me, then you should.  I don’t know of a particular church, much less an entire denomination (Pentecostal is a conglomerate of several denominations) requiring more, though it is a common practice of cults such as the Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Scientologists.  I think that makes it pretty clear: beyond the 10%, you should give as your conscience leads you, but you should not be REQUIRED to give beyond that — if you are, something is wrong with your church.

Q. (9:7): I love this verse.  When we give an amount that I feel in my heart, I feel much more joy in giving than when we give the same amount every week.

A. Sounds like a great segue to my previous answer.

O. (9:10b): This makes me think of how God provides in surprises.  The amount of giving we do is definitely in proportion to how much we are making.  This story relates to the text because the more God provides, the more we can give to good causes.  I have been needing to find a part-time job.  But, it’s a little hard given that my skills are rusty and my husband’s schedule is erratic.   One of us needs to be at home when the girls are home.  So, I just go back and forth about what to try to apply for.  And, nearly anything that I would apply for I would have to spend some money on clothes or something for the job.  But, out of the blue, my neighbor offered to pay me for yard work.  And, she pays much better than anything I could have found retail.  She just tells me to work when I have time.  I love how God answers prayers better than anything we could have imagined on our own!

Day 327 (Nov. 23): Collecting money for Jerusalem, greetings from Paul, riot in Ephesus, Paul goes to Macedonia and Greece, God’s good news, God’s anger against sin and notably homosexuality

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 16:1-24

Acts 19:21-20:6

Romans 1:1-32

Questions & Observations

O. Paul is such a perfect role model!  He has taken his charge from God seriously, and not faltered.

Q. (1 Corinthians 16:21): Did Paul use a scribe to write his letters?  I just don’t know why he makes it a point to say he is signing his letters in his own handwriting.

A. Yes, Paul used a scribe — he won’t always leave his signature at the end — to write his letters.  It was common practice in the day to have the “genuine” signature of the true author of the letter.  We don’t really know why he did this, but one theory is that his writing hand was injured in his various traumas, and he is “signing” the letter with his non-writing hand, which is why the letters are so big.

Q. (Acts 19:23): What does “the Way” mean here?

A. That is the way that Luke refers to the Gospel, it was the primary way that the early believers referred to the message of Christianity.  Remember that this is the way that Jesus himself referred to Himself in John 14:6, so it is little surprise that the earliest believers took up this way of referring to their message.

O. (Romans 1:8:17): Paul is really great at building awesome, genuine rapport with whomever he visits or writes.

Q. (1:18-32): God is obviously against homosexuality.  He says in v. 26 that homosexuality is not the “natural way to have sex.”  Could we apply this to other subjects, like food, in particular?  Artificial colors and flavors, preservatives and GMOs are not natural.  I would think that God would not be to keen on those either.  You?  I know the Bible says to not worry about what we will eat, but I think It means “clean” and “unclean” food, not food that comes from a lab.

A. Paul is definitely condemning homosexual conduct (remember that being attracted to people of the same sex is NOT a sin, just acting on it!).  This type of conduct would have been commonplace in Rome at this time, and would have involved exploitation of young men by older men (you don’t want to know the details), and public bath houses (only for men) that frequently involved sex.  As to the other “unnatural” things like food or dyes, since those things did not exist at the time, I have a suspicion that Paul did not have such things in mind.  We might think of such regulations as being wise, but Paul is describing sin, and I would stop short of eating artificial foods as being a sinful action.

Day 321 (Nov. 17): Paul gives strong advice to the Thessalonica church, Paul encourages church to remain steadfast in the midst of persecution, Jesus’ second coming, Jesus will take down leaders and man of ‘lawlessness,’ Paul warns against being idle, God gives peace at all times, Gallio stands up for Paul, Paul returns to Antioch of Syria

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 Thessalonians 5:12-28

2 Thessalonians 1-3:18

Acts 18:4-23

Questions & Observations

Q. (1 Thessalonians 5:12-22): Paul says a lot here.  Are these instructions concrete?  I would think they would be goals.  V. 16: I can’t imagine being joyful all the time.  We all have some low times.  It does seem like some people are much more joyful than others.  V. 18 says to be thankful in all circumstances.  I’m working on that one.  I must say, it would be very hard to thank God in some situations.  I know if you have faith, that whatever seemed so bad will have a reason. V. 22: I would think this means to stay away from evil for yourself.  If we are to reach some sinners, we must brush up to evil.

A. I think Paul is speaking of the position we should be desiring.  We should desire to joyful all the time, for that means that we are able to handle any circumstance.  Paul, like Jesus before him, was no stranger to sin, and surely recommends spreading the gospel among sinners while not sinning yourself.

Q. (2 Thessalonians 1:8): This verse makes it sound like believers will not be judged, only those who don’t follow Jesus.

A. Let’s hold onto this one until we get to Romans.

Q. (1:11-12): So, the church in Thessalonica is being persecuted by whom?  Paul is telling them in these two verses that their good works will bring glory to God.  Of course, God loves people standing up for Him.  However, this does not save a person, right?  People are saved by faith alone?

A. It is likely that the church there (and other places) was persecuted by Jews and Roman authorities, but it was probably not consistent.  The story Acts tells us of Jason being dragged before the civil authorities is probably a good telling example.  What the writers of our readings have been pointing to is the idea that being persecuted offers you the opportunity to test your own heart: are you strong enough to preach the gospel even in the midst of persecution?  As you suggest, this action will not save us, but this level of bravery is surely the sign of a true believer, whose faith WILL save them.

Q. (2:1-12): I was talking to a friend about the horror of the end of days that the pastor at our former church was preaching on.  It was absolutely horrific.  My friend said that she hoped she was in the grave when “the days” come.  I’m with her.  Is it bad to hope that we don’t have to face it?  We have no idea who the “man of lawlessness” is in v. 3?  V. 11 says that God caused them to be greatly deceived, but from the context, I would guess that it means more like God showed them the choice to be saved, but they rejected it.  And because they refused to go “good,” God allows them to be condemned.  What do you say to this, Rob?

A. I see nothing wrong with not wanting to face a time of trial or deal with difficult times, but understand that this may be GOD’S desire for us!  We must be willing to answer the call, even to preach in the midst of difficult times.  As to who the “man” is, this is an image of the anti-Christ, which we will see again in John’s writings and in Revelation.  This is an image of the supreme human evil — but not Satan — who puts himself directly in opposition to the work of Christ (hence “anti”).  There are tons of ideas out there about who this man is (some, for example, say it is Obama, which is just ridiculous), but I’m not going to offer much in the way of speculation except to say that we as believers will know him when we see him.  I, like you, hope that I never have to worry about it at all!

Q. (2 Thessalonians 3:6-15): This is a hard passage.  Sometimes I feel lazy, but I have never thought about being lazy in the spirit, which I think this verse addresses both — lazy in spirit and lazy in earning money.  I feel guilty when I am.  Most of us have down times, I think.  Maybe we are supposed to fight them as hard as possible?  Also, when you try to encourage someone to not be lazy, that’s a little touchy too without offending them.  Maybe instead of addressing their laziness, they could be invited to partake in something that would make them more active.  Here’s a kid’s song I love: http://sovereigngracemusic.bandcamp.com/track/lazy-bones  It has motivated me many times!  That CD is awesome even if you don’t have kids!

A. Sloth, or laziness, is one of the so-called “seven deadly sins” — though I would quickly add that there is no particular “list” of them in the Bible — and it is a slow poison to the soul, which is why we are compelled to fight it in ourselves and make war against it when we see it in others.  Your suggestions are good ones.

Q. Paul had so much energy to devote to spreading God’s word.  He likely went by foot and by boat.  I don’t know if the disciples and other teachers of the gospel had any other means of transportation, like a horse?  If you google “map of Paul’s journeys” you will see what a vast territory he covered and how big of an influence he was on spreading the gospel.  I notice on these maps that Asia is where modern-day Turkey is, which I thought was more of where Israel was in Bible times.  Why is it labeled Asia, when Asia is much farther to the east?

A. Well, the region you refer to is called Asia Minor, and it is indeed part of Asia, not Europe, depending upon who you ask.  I suppose that the disciples could have had horses or other transport animals, but most of what the record tells us is that they traveled by foot.

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.