Day 357 (Dec. 23): Grow in your faith with “moral excellence” and the more productive you will be in the knowledge of Jesus, we need constant reminders of our faith in Jesus to stand firm with truth, false teachers are clever and crafty, the Day of the Lord will come as a surprise, God is patient in picking His day because He is wants to give people more time to be saved, Peter warns against becoming influenced by evil people

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 Peter 5:12-14

Peter’s second letter addresses many of the same concerns as the letter of Jude — the two letters were probably written about the same time and to the same churches.

2 Peter 1-3:18

Questions & Observations

Q. (2 Peter 2:9): If God rescues godly people, then why do bad things still happen to true Christians?

A.  I can give you lots of reasons: because we live in a fallen world, because sin still reigns, because God knows that He can bring good out of our darkness, because the faith of true Christians needs testing, and ultimately, because, as we have discussed, there are no “good” people, even true Christians.  Sin still holds sway in this world, but not forever.

Q. (3:7): I just noticed that “heavens” is plural.

A. There’s some theories about this, but the general consensus is that there is indication of “levels” of heaven — usually seven, with God’s throne being the seventh.  While there is some speculation, there is little concrete evidence in Scripture, so speculation seems a bit out of bounds.  Like the reality of hell, the reality of heaven is something the Bible merely casts fleeting glances at — it calls for our focus to be on God and His acts in the person of Jesus Christ.  Revelation will have another “glance” into the throne room, coming soon!

O. (3:8-9): This is so sweet.  It shows how much God loves us!

O. (3:14): Peaceful, I’m sure, means to not quarrel with people and love them as much as humanly possible.  I would think, though, that it would also mean being calm in yourself, which for me, I need to carve out a lot more quiet time where I can talk purposely and earnestly with God.  I also need to make sure I am ministering to people, helping anyone I can, being a great friend who listens, leading by example, etc; because I think this brings inner peace and purpose that we are fulfilling the instructions we have been given of spreading the Good News.

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 317 (Nov. 13): Paul and Barnabus strengthen churches in several cities, Paul and Barnabus return to start of their trip, Paul’s letter is a pep talk to Christians, Paul proclaims his words come from above, Paul says his role is to preach to Gentiles, Paul confronts Peter for finding favor with Jews by following law of Moses, Holy Spirit is with believers not obeyers of the law, belief in Jesus Christ gives us freedom

48 days to go!

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 14:21-28

Galatians 1-3:23

Questions & Observations

Q. (Acts 14:21-28): The disciples knew they had to go to the synagogues to straighten out the mindset of those worshippers from the ways of the priests and some of the ways of the OT that Jesus’ crucifixion had abolished?  Also, to me this passage reminds me of modern-day missionaries.  They travel and then come back to a home church or supporting church and report their work.

A. Paul and his companions are no longer preaching in the synagogues, but to communities of Christians throughout this region.  This is especially true if you consider that Paul is transitioning from preaching to the Jews to preaching to the Gentiles.  But, yes, you have the idea for what Paul and his men are doing: they are entering an area that has a “foot hold” community, and working to strengthen it by whatever means are needed.

O. (Galatians 1:4): I am understanding more about our time on earth.  It was hard for me grasp that Satan was ruler of the earth.  But, now that I know that, I understand so much more.  I understand why there is a constant struggle to proclaim God/Jesus/Holy Spirit to this world that is flooded with evil.  I understand why evil is a constant temptation.  We are surrounded by it.  There is really no temptation to be good.  Good is good.  And then, there’s the feeling of not belonging to this evil world.  So many people just seem to go with the flow.  They don’t really seem overly happy, but that’s their world.  As a believer, I never really feel like this is it.  My family is awesome, but my home is nothing that I would say I’m completely comfortable in.  And, maybe that’s good because, ultimately, I don’t belong in this world.  I love the song by Building 429, that sum’s up this feeling http://www.godtube.com/watch/?v=KPK7ZPNX  I encourage you to listen to it, if you haven’t already.  I’m not home yet!

Q. (Galatians 1:23-24): In his early life, Paul persecuted Christians.  But, God used Paul as a vehicle to show that even the worst offender of Christianity now believes and is a teacher to spread the Good News.  So, I have a modern question about the former co-founder and minister of the church Rob and I attend.  Our former teaching pastor had been raised in the church, the son of a prominent mega church pastor.  He was an amazing speaker.  But, he fell to sin.  The papers reported all kinds of things and we didn’t know if they were truth or lies.  But, I myself, prayed for the goodness with in him to come out and return to his family and hopefully the public. He was such a leader and had been the vehicle for so many to attend our church.  (I know God had a hand in this.  Our church has lost about a 1,000, but maybe it needed to regroup.  I, myself, was watching the pastor’s performance more than taking the message in.  Now I remember more of the sermons with the two new pastors.)  I had been praying for him to just be OK and find his path in faith for God.  My prayers were answered when I saw him in church several weeks in a row, 10-11 months or so after he resigned.  What bravery that would have taken for him!  It was just nice to see that he was ok.  My question is, biblically, could he come back to have a role in the church?

A. Forgiveness and reconciliation are cornerstones of any church, including ours, so I think there is always an opportunity for that to occur, and I think it should.  As to whether this minister can again lead, well, that is (mercifully) a decision that I do not have to make, and I would not envy anyone who does.  That, I think, will be up to God.

Q. (Galatians 2:6): Here, Paul says that God has no favorites among leaders.  In choosing a church, my husband and I have always listened to the sermon as a first base for choosing one.  We tried several churches.  I love so many things about our church, which has an attendance of about 3,500.  But, I grew up in a small-town church where everyone knew each other.  There were quarterly potlucks where we all knew who made what.  Most everyone chipped in on every mission of the church, which was a much smaller scope than the church I belong to now.  I love the beliefs of Summit and the missions.  I do long for that church body where it’s easy to know everyone.  However, when I have attended smaller churches, I feel like the quality of the message is missing.  Thus, the bigger churches bring in bigger crowds because the pastors are better deliverers.  But, I struggle with wanting that sense of community and having an awesome sermon.  I have heard that no church is perfect.  I have talked with others who say the same thing: that they miss the community aspect of the church they grew up in.  I don’t know if you want to address that subject, Rob.  But, back to the verse: what Paul is saying here is that God doesn’t care who the more popular leaders are, just that they are doing their job of spreading God’s Word?

A. There are always tradeoffs made between community and effectiveness of the message.  A church with only 100 members — which, is actually the average size of an American church, and has been for decades — can provide many services and has a sense of community that is frankly lost among larger churches like ours.  Mega churches are capable of having a bigger impact on the community and world at large, and I believe that there are many “pros” to this type of model.  One of the things I learned about in seminary, however, is that a church that is determined to reach “mega” status must be willing to make sacrifices, especially when it comes to pastoral role in the worshipping community.  It is not a coincidence that our church has no pastor of visitation (something that has frankly never pleased me): the leadership has the expectation that the body itself will do visitation.  The pastoral role is reserved for casting vision, leading outreach, and running the “business” side of a church.  That is THE only way for a church to reach mega status — if its leadership is consumed with caring for the congregation, it simply will not happen.  I will leave it to you to decide what type of community you value.

As to what Paul is talking about, he is basically saying that God does not play favorites, and that He calls many people with many gifts to be His hands and feet in the world.  So it has nothing to do with how people view the “popularity contest,” and everything to do with how the Spirit guides and provides gifts for His workers in the Church.

Q. (Galatians 2:11-21): So, remember when I said that I wondered if the disciples could keep on the right path, given they have the Great Commission amongst all of the dissent in the world?  At first, I was going to say, “ha ha, told you so.”  But, that doesn’t give me a good feeling.  That’s not very Christian.  I am not surprised that one of them has tripped up.  But, I think what is more important to point out is that Paul was there to point it out and hopefully (we’ll have to wait and see) set Peter straight.  A lot of churches push accountability partners among their leaders and even among all Christian men.  Women could use it to keep those rambling pessimistic mindsets at bay.

A. No doubt that the early Church had its problems, but as Paul mentions, these men and women of God spoke up to address many of these issues.  Paul will have much more to say about the various problems of the early community in his various letters.

Q. (Galatians 3:15-23): This is confusing to ponder, but makes sense after you untangle it in your head.  Pretty amazing!

A. Paul will use this type of rhetorical style throughout his letters, so I would recommend getting used to it.  His letter to the Romans is full of discourses like this that run for several chapters.  But I agree, his point is pretty clear (and amazing) as long as you read the passage a few times.

Day 315 (Nov. 11): Cornelius Calls for Peter, Peter’s Vision, Peter at Cornelius’s House, Peter Explains His Actions, The Church in Antioch, Peter’s Miraculous Escape From Prison

Day 315 (Nov. 11): 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 10:1-12:5

Questions & Observations

Q. I enjoyed today’s reading and thought it was very easy to follow.  To me, the central theme of it was that God is erasing the lines between Jews and Gentiles.  He is fading out many of the old laws that were just for the Israelites.  The disciples and other believers in Jesus are now allowed to preach to the Gentiles.  However, it appears that there is still plenty of dissent out there from those religious leaders with hardened hearts who are standing by the old law and using it to persecute others.

A. Yes there are, and there are also Christian Jews who continue to question exactly how God is moving among the Gentiles, but we will see that the Spirit will guide Paul in preaching to the Gentiles and also to the Jewish Christians to bring them around.

Q. (Acts 10:9-16): So, for anyone, including the Jewish religious leaders, to understand that God was making food clean to eat that once was unclean and for them to know that God’s kingdom is for all believers, Jews and Gentiles alike, they would have to listen to the disciples preaching about it.  They were not privy to this information even though they were in a high position.  I can see how this would manifest jealousy and anger in the Jewish leaders.

A. The Jewish leaders who have not proclaimed faith in Jesus, frankly, will not be a part of this story much longer.  This is about what God (specifically the Spirit) is doing through these few thousand Christians and their leaders.

Q. (Acts 12:1-5): The disciples must have been somewhat discouraged by Stephen and James’ death.  Jesus sent them to spread the Good News, but now two followers have died.

A. He warned them about that repeatedly — specifically in John 15:18-25.  The world kills what it hates, which is why millions are still dying for the Gospel today.  But, Jesus reminds us, that He has already won the victory, and that nothing that happens to His true followers — including death — can change that. (From Leigh An: Our pastor spoke about the Bible Hall of Fame on Sunday.  He mentioned “this cloud of witnesses” — Abel, Noah, Abraham, Joseph, David, etc. — in Hebrews 12:1-3.  I think it says everything I need to say about the disciples having the right mindset to continue their mission. (Hebrews 12:1-3: Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.)

Day 314 (Nov. 10): Believers spread after Stephen’s persecution, Philip preaches in Samaria, Philp and the eunuch, Saul’s converts to Christianity

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 8b-9:43

Questions & Observations

O. (Acts 9:10-18): God is so smart to use Saul, the very many persecuting Christians, to spread His message.  Just when I think I may understand the ins and outs of following and understanding God, I lose it.  He is so many steps in front of me that it’s crazy to try to figure out my future.  Yet, I struggle with it daily.  I thought I was in control of my life, pretty much, until I had kids.  I graduated from college, moved to Hawaii, worked super hard and found a great job, got married, had children, stopped working, moved around with military hubby, have two great kids, a house in a great neighborhood, but we are struggling financially.  I used to be able to control my own state of being by working hard.  I work hard and make good money.  Now, my skills are outdated and my attractiveness to employers is nil, as far as I know.  My point is that it’s hard to leave all of what you know behind, the control, and give it to God.  But, like we see with Ananias and Saul, you can never predict how God will orchestrate your situation to help you and others.  It’s so hard to let control go!

Q. (9:36-41): Did Jesus pretty much give the disciples all of the miraculous abilities that He had.  They must have proclaimed Jesus extensively for the people to look past the disciples’ miracles and give that credit to Jesus.  I wonder if the disciples’ ever struggled with any of them thinking that they were powerful themselves and not so much from Jesus — they were taking the glory instead of giving it to God?

A. The text implies that their power is coming by the leading of the Holy Spirit, but since He is part of the Godhead, it is the same “powers” that Jesus had during His time on earth.  One of the most important things to understand about Acts — and the writer Luke keeps reminding us — is that the Gospel is being proclaimed everywhere the Apostles and followers went.  This story contains numerous powerful stories of God using terrible circumstances to turn people to Him.  God used the death of Stephen and the persecution of the Church to force God’s people to move in all new directions, and as the text tells us, they proclaimed their message everywhere they went.  One in particular is the encounter between Philip and the eunuch.  A cool bit of history with one of the stories: the largest church in Ethiopia, called the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, read about it here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethiopian_Orthodox_Tewahedo_Church), one of the oldest in the ENTIRE WORLD, traces its origins all the way back to this encounter between Philip and this ambassador, probably a Jewish convert.  Now imagine how many people have heard the Gospel proclaimed throughout the ages because of Philip’s faithfulness to the Spirit during that day.  That, I think, gives you a glimpse into the long game that God is playing, and we rarely receive more than a glimpse into how that plan is moving along.  Those glimpses are simply amazing to me!

Day 312 (Nov. 8): Peter heals lame beggar, Peter preaches about Jesus, council tries to hush Peter and John, disciples pray for courage, believers become a community sharing wealth and possessions, Ananias and Sapphira try to cheat eh church, disciples heal many, disciples imprisoned but escape, disciples flogged but continued to preach about Jesus!

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 3-5:42

Questions & Observations

Q. (Acts 3:22): Why did Moses refer to Jesus as a Prophet instead of the Messiah?

A. Remember that Messiah is a title that means “anointed” or “chosen,” and one of the OT offices that was anointed was the office of Prophet (the others are King and Priest, more on those later).  So when Moses refers to the One who is coming as a Prophet, he is not referring to Jesus incorrectly, but merely describing a single aspect of His ministry- that of being THE Prophet who will bring His people back to God.

Q. (Acts 4:8-11): I love how the Holy Spirit takes over Peter’s speech here.  I have heard other people say how sometimes when talking to someone about God that they can’t believe what comes out of their mouth.  They felt the Holy Spirit control their speech.

A. That is certainly the implication of what Jesus advised His followers during the Last Supper — sometimes if we act in boldness to proclaim His truth, we never know the ways that God might show up via the Spirit.

Q. (Acts 5:1-11): Would it have been a big deal for Ananias and Sapphira to keep some of the money anyway?  I take it that it’s just because they lied about giving the full amount to the apostles when they didn’t?

A. I think the deceit is certainly the big deal — they were attempting to show off to the community, while keeping some of the money to themselves.  And this is exactly what Peter says: you could have kept some of the money, but you chose to lie about it.

Q. (Acts 5:15): How could Peter’s shadow heal people?  Peter seems to be taking a lead position with the disciples.

A. I have no idea.  And yes, Peter will be the primary focus of Acts for the first half of the story, and then someone else will take over.

Q. (Acts 5:31): How do the people know that God put Jesus at His right hand?  Through the apostles teaching?

A. Peter is not necessarily referring to an ACTUAL throne, but rather that Jesus is in the place of honor, as we have discussed.  The right hand was a trusted advisor who had the “ear” of the King.

Q. (Acts 5:33-41): If the Jewish leaders accepted Gamaliel’s advice, why did they flog the disciples?  I guess flogging is OK, but death is not?

A. I think they were looking for a way to take out their jealous feelings, and perhaps make one more attempt to push the disciples into silence.  Fat chance.

Day 311 (Nov. 7): Jesus ascends to heaven, Matthias named new disciple, Holy Spirit comes to disciples, Peter preaches to crowd, believers form a community

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.

Mark 16:19-20

Luke 24:50-53

Acts 1-2:47

Questions & Observations

Q. (Luke 24:52): So, this is the joy that you were talking about when I said how could happiness come from Jesus being crucified?  Especially since they saw Him die on the cross, resurrected and now ascending to heaven, they are sure He is the Messiah.  It would be hard to believe that the prince of heaven was right before my eyes.

A. I was referring to seeing Jesus alive at Easter and in the days that followed.  Jesus being resurrected changed everything for His followers, who are beginning to be transformed from the weak fearful men that we saw run from Jesus’ side into the men who will — with the Spirit’s help — change the world.

Q. (Acts 1:18): Here, Luke, the writer of Acts says that Judas bought a field with the 30 pieces of silver.  But, earlier, Matthew said Judas threw the coins down at the priests who then used the money to buy a field and then killed himself.  So, maybe something got lost in translation or one of them — Luke or Matthew — had their story a little mixed up.

A. Actually, it is possible to reconcile the two versions.  Church tradition holds that Judas hung himself on a tree at the top of a hill, and that either when his body decayed or when he was cut down, his body fell and broke open.  I believe that Luke, the writer, is aware that Judas didn’t DIRECTLY buy the field, but it was bought with the money that was returned to him.  Anyway, I think it is possible to reconcile the two versions of his death, but it is by no means absolutely necessary to do so.

Q. (Acts 2:1): I don’t remember talking about the day of Pentecost before.  What’s it about?

A. We have, it just wasn’t referred to by that name (since “Pentecost” is Greek).  It refers to the Feast or Festival of Weeks, which follows exactly 50 days (seven weeks and a Sabbath) after Passover.  It is described in Exodus 23 and 34, and commemorates the receiving of the Law by the Jews at Sinai, which you will remember occurred after the first Passover.  It is also in the midst of the Jewish grain harvest (the story of Ruth is frequently associated with it), which makes it a holiday that celebrates the ways in which God has provided for His people, both in their daily bread and spiritual needs.  Cool huh?

Anyway, it doesn’t take a big leap of logic to see why God would use THAT date to do a new thing with early Church — God is once again providing for the needs of His new “project,” and providing them with the very Spirit that will give them life.  One other note: it was the High Priest who was the one who declared the beginning of the festival by symbolically waving a strand of grain as the “first fruits” of the harvest.  Two of the central images of the NT theology we will explore is Jesus as our new High Priest (and an eternal one) and that He is the first fruits of the resurrection (more on what that means later).  So, the Jews who would have participated in this event would have clearly understood the significance of the date that God chose to move in a new way.

Q. (Acts: 2:3): Is this where some churches get the “speaking in tongues” part of their worship?  I have never been in a worship service where this happens, but I bet it would be interesting.  I would think though, that the Spirit allowing the disciples to speak in many languages was so they could preach the same message far and wide without language barriers.  I would think that this gift would be for the disciples only, not for talk that doesn’t make any sense and no one else can understand it.  That wasn’t the purpose of the gift, right?

A. Yes, this is the origin — but not the last occurrence — of Speaking in Tongues, one of the Spiritual Gifts.  Now later in the text, we will see instances where the Spirit moves in a person and they speak a language that no one around them understands (which was not the case here — the miracle was that the people around them DID know what they were saying!)  When no one understands what has been said, it is the NT expectation that the Spirit will gift someone with the ability to interpret what has been said, and it is always to edify the Church body.  This will lead to some issues that Paul will be discussing down the road, but we will get to that.

The true miracle of Pentecost  (one that will not be repeated in the NT) is that the Spirit spoke to people from all over the earth who were gathered in Jerusalem IN THEIR OWN LANGUAGE.  That was surely an amazing event to bear witness to.

O. (Acts 2:25-28): Beautiful!  I love it!  Our church’s kids’ ministry gave out a set of key tags with Bible verses on them that show God is there always to help pull us through anything.  They are awesome verses!

Fear of rejection, Isaiah 41:10

Fear of failure, Joshua 1:9

Fear of physical danger, Psalm 56:3-4

Fear of being cared for, Luke 12:22-24

Fear of being alone, Psalm 23:4

Fear of uncertainty, Philippians 4:6-7

Day 306 (Nov. 2): Council questions Jesus, Peter denies Jesus three times, Jesus goes before Pilate, Judas hangs himself

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.

Mark 14:53-65

Matthew 26:57-68

Mark 14:66-72

Matthew 26:69-75

Luke 22:54-62

John 18:25-27

Mark 15:1

Matthew 27:1-2

Luke 22:66-71

Matthew 27:3-10

Questions & Observations

O. (Mark 14;53-65): I see several things to comment on here.  1) And what is Peter’s role here.  He seems like a coward.  2) This is the pinnacle of Jesus’s “I Am” response.  3) Here we have Jesus saying He will be at the right hand.  What did we say the right hand signified way back in the OT?  4) It’s amazing the effect on people of crowd mentality.  They become like a mindless mob.  5) V. 65: If they only knew to whom they were jeering, spitting and slapping!

A. 1) Peter is acting like a coward, just as Jesus said he would.  2) This is just one more piece of evidence that Jesus knows what is happening and is prepared to die.  The men who were accusing Him of blasphemy couldn’t get their story straight, and Jewish legal proceedings in this day required two eyewitnesses to bring blasphemy charges.  So if Jesus had just said nothing, or denied being the Messiah, He likely would’ve been freed: there would have been no ground to charge Him.  Instead, He incriminates Himself (if you want to think of it that way) by proclaiming the truth that He is the Messiah.  Without Jesus doing so, there would have been no basis to charge Him.  This passage is fascinating to me for that reason.  3) The right hand was the seat of power for a king or ruler (in this case God the Father): the trusted general or other confidant that acted on the king’s behalf.  Its where we get the term “right hand man” from.  4) I suspect that the crowd was disappointed that Jesus did not conquer the Romans when He entered the city on Sunday, as many expected Him to.  Over the course of the week, it appears that public opinion turned against Jesus.  The mob is fickle indeed.

Q. (Mark 14:66-72): Why a rooster and why would he deny Jesus three times before it crowed twice.  It’s just seems like an odd thing to happen.

A. The rooster crowed at dawn, signifying Peter’s failure during the night.  I don’t know if there is anything else special about the event, except that it is a time marker in a period where there obviously were no watches or other ways to tell time before sunrise: the rooster was it.

Q. (Mark 15:1): Because the Jewish officials took Jesus to Pilate early in the morning, is this why many churches have sunrise services?  Or is it the resurrection?

A. The resurrection, you’ll see when we get to the story.

Q. (Matthew 27:3-10):  Poor Judas!  This just shows that someone can wake up when they realize the consequences of their actions.  So, Judas hangs himself.  This is an aside comment, but isn’t it a sin to take ones life that is a ticket to Satan?  I have been told that, but I don’t think we’ve come across it in the Bible yet.  And lastly, why would the Lord want the Israelites to purchase a potter’s field with the 30 pieces of silver that Judas returned?

A. Suicide is not expressly forbidden in the Bible, but it is surely not something God desires.  It is obviously impossible to know if it is an offense that condemns one to hell, but we have established that through Jesus that no sin outside of blaspheming the Holy Spirit is unforgivable, which presumably includes suicide.  What we don’t know is if Jesus refers to sins that we can seek forgiveness for, which you can’t do in the sense that we are used to if you are dead, so it remains a mystery.  In the end, as with all things, we must trust in God’s grace, and I believe that at least some of the people who tragically commit suicide can still find forgiveness and grace in Christ.  No one is beyond His reach, but not all will seek to take hold of it.

As to the Potter’s field, the story appears to be saying that since the money was blood money, it could not be used in the Temple, so they basically found a way to get rid of the money by buying a field from a potter to make a public cemetery.  What this has to do with the role of a potter is beyond me.

Day 305 (Nov. 1): Jesus is betrayed and arrested, Jesus prays at Gethsemane, Peter denies Jesus, high priest questions Jesus,

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 18:1-2

Mark 14:32-42

Matthew 26:36-46

Luke 22:39-46

Mark 14:43-52

Matthew 26:47-56

Luke 22:47-53

John 18:3-24

Questions & Observations

Q. (Mark 14:32): Do you know what the name “Gethsemane” means.  Just wondered if it is of any significance.

A. It means “oil press,” referring to the large press for the olives trees in the area. Remember the hill they are walking towards is the Mount of Olives.  Olive oil was a precious commodity in the ancient world, and used for all kinds of things.  As to significance, well, I would say you would be hard pressed (pun intended) to miss the notion of Jesus feeling “pressed in” on all sides when He is praying among an oil press.

Q. (14:34): What does Jesus mean by “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death.”

A. Jesus knows the agony that awaits Him, and it surely caused His human self to be anxious and grief stricken.  He was under so much pressure, that He felt that He was going to die.

Q. (14:36) And what does he mean by “cup of suffering?”

A. Over the next 20 or so hours of this story, Jesus will suffer unbelievable agony before He dies.  He is thinking of it as a bitter cup that He must drink.

Q. (14:38): Is Jesus just warning to be careful of temptation, because it is seriously easy to give into?

A. Almost all of His followers will abandon Him by the end of today’s reading.  I would say that is falling into the temptation to flee.

Q. (Mark 14:45): Why a kiss?

A. In Jesus’ day, a rabbi or other teacher would have been greeted by a student or other person wishing to show respect by offering the person a kiss on the hand or cheek.  So don’t miss the irony of Judas using a symbol of love and respect to betray His master.

O. (14:48): Jesus delivered a good punch here when he asked them why they didn’t arrest Him in the temple.  And, from what we read, Jesus was harmless and unarmed, so why did they come to get him with such force.

Q. (14:500): I guess the disciples ran because they were afraid that they may be arrested too?

A. Yes.

Q. (Matthew 26:50): I wonder why Jesus calls Judas his friend?

A. I believe that Jesus still considered him a close friend.  He loved Judas just as much as His other followers.  Judas’ actions (and ours as well) did not keep Jesus from loving him and calling him friend.

Q. (26:51, 56): I know Jesus healed the priest’s slaves’ ear because Jesus said that his arrest must happen in order for the scriptures to be true.  But, are we to follow in Jesus’s non-violent example?  I don’t recall Jesus hurting anyone as a form of punishment. Also, Rob can you tell us who said this prophecy in the OT?  Why was Jesus’s death necessary?  It was foretold in the OT.  My guess is that nothing else worked long-term for making the Israelites see the way, the truth and the life.

A. Isaiah in particular wrote about the Suffering Servant (which Christians consider to be a Suffering Messiah), and the classic passage for such examination is Isaiah 53.  What Jesus is referring to is the path that He will walk to heal all of us.  As Isaiah predicted, by His suffering, we are healed.  As to why it was necessary, let’s revisit that one when we get to the actual crucifixion: the imagery there will be helpful for a full understanding of what is going on, at least as much as I am privy to.

Q. (John 18:3-11): John has probably the most different account of this encounter.  Why is John much more descriptive of Jesus greeting the religious officials who were going to arrest Him?  In v. 11, Jesus says, “Shall I not drink from the cup of suffering the Father has given me?”  I would think that this would be addressed to future readers to mean that we must follow the path God gives us even if it includes suffering.

A. John spends more time than any other Gospel on the last night of Jesus’ life (He will be dead before sundown the next day), so it is little surprise to me that he gives some details about the Garden that the others do not include.  As to why Jesus said, “I’m going to drink the cup the Father has given Me,” it is significant because HE WILL.  I wouldn’t try to read too much into what He is saying, Jesus is describing a plan already in motion that God the Father has set in motion.  What Jesus is saying here is that what will happen to Him is no accident: it is His very purpose in coming to earth.

Q. (John 18:15-18): Why was it important for Peter to deny Jesus?

A. Peter failed his Master at the worst possible time, after BRAGGING about how HE WOULD NEVER FAIL.

Day 303 (Oct. 30): Jesus predicts Peter’s denial, reach God through Jesus, Jesus tells of the Holy Spirit, Jesus is the true vine,

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 13:31-38

 

Mark 14:27-31

 

Matthew 26:31-35

 

Luke 22:31-38

 

John 14:1-14

John 14:15-31

 

John 15:1-17

Questions & Observations

Q. (John 13:31-38, mark 14:27-31, Matthew 26:31-35, Luke 22:31-38): Why is it important that Peter deny Jesus three times?

A. It shows just how fearful Peter’s heart truly is.  He is not ready for this challenge.

OOOOOO.  (John 14:1-14): My new favorite passage.  Wow, does this bring comfort and joy!!!!!

Q. (John 14:6): This may seem very kindergarten, but I thought you may have a humdinger for an answer.  What does Jesus mean by “the way, the truth and the life”?  I take it as Jesus has shown us the WAY we should live, the TRUTH that means he is the son of God and the LIFE means living eternally.

A. I believe that He is telling us that He is the essence of God in human form, what John has been proclaiming all along: Jesus provides us the way to God in Himself and His sacrifice, He proclaimed the True way not just in teachings, but in His actions, and He shows that to be with God is to live, without Him we die.

Q. (John 14:9-11): So, why do some religions, like Judaism, not believe that Jesus is the Son of God.  Why do they deny the NT?

A. Well, there are lots of reasons, but ultimately they come down to knowing who Jesus is.  Jews, for example, could not reconcile a Messiah as a suffering figure: They see the Messiah as a triumphant figure who will establish an earthly Kingdom.  Since Jesus was defeated in death, they reject Him as Messiah — their Messiah would never die.  So, since the death and resurrection of Jesus is at the heart of the NT, it is little wonder that many Jews deny it, lock, stock, and barrel.  (I would be remiss if I did not point out that many Jews have never read it, and mistakenly assume it is a manual on how to attack the Jewish faith).  Many other religions stumble over Christ’s death and resurrection as well.  Islam sees Jesus as a prophet, but argue that the Messiah could never be defeated and die on a cross — they say he only appeared to die.  They also strongly align themselves with Jews in saying that there is only one God, and therefore Jesus can’t be God in human form.  I think this is a poor representation of the understanding of the Trinity (Christians are often accused of worshipping 3 gods by Jews and Muslims), but it is typically the reason.  Other religions have some important doctrines — such as reincarnation in Hinduism and Buddhism — that do not jive well with the NT, so they go elsewhere as well.  There are lots of critiques of the NT by scholars who seek to take it apart in order to find the “real” Jesus, as opposed to the one the Gospels describe — because He couldn’t possibly be real, dead men don’t come back!  It is little wonder that Paul will talk about the death and resurrection of Jesus as a “stumbling block” to many and “foolishness” to others, but note what he adds: but to those of us who have faith, it is the power of God at work in us.  The resurrection is typically the line in the sand.

Q. (John 14:12-14): How can anyone do greater works than Jesus?  And, what does Jesus mean by ask anything in His name?  When we pray, we are supposed to say “in Jesus name, we pray?”  My hubby says that’s just if you are asking God for something.

A. Because of what Jesus has done on our behalf, which is basically make us children of God via adoption (more on that in Paul’s letters), we are able to boldly approach the throne of God with our requests and make our hearts known to God in prayer.  That is what it means to ask for our prayers in the name of Jesus.  It is Jesus who has opened the door to the throne room that we might approach the King.

Q. (John 14:26): Am I right in saying that all who believe in Jesus are provided with the Holy Spirit which will show us the way?  When I talk to God or Jesus, many times I feel like I am picturing them while I am talking to them.  I have always just talked to Jesus and God though.  I listen to the Holy Spirit, but don’t request things from Him or discuss anything.  Are we supposed to talk to all three the same or differently?

A. Jesus is describing the Holy Spirit as our personal guide to God, and He works to remind us of Jesus’ words and the words of Scripture.  So with that mindset, I would say that addressing the Spirit with praise when He helps you remember a verse, for example, might be a good example of conversing with Him.  The Spirit is just as much God as the Father or Son, and our prayer life should reflect that.  We will see the Spirit really come into power in Acts, so let’s watch for how the Spirit leads then.

Q. (John 14:27): The peace Jesus leaves us with is Him showing us the way to live and that He is powerful and will come back to take us to with Him.  And, He leaves the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit leads us through life, if we let Him.  We talked about the Holy Spirit in the OT, right?  He has always been around, just like Jesus?

A. God, in the three Persons, is eternal, and not bound in time.  The Spirit is surely a big part of the OT: by my count, there were nearly 200 references to the Spirit being at work in the midst of Israel, from Genesis 1:2 and on down.

O&Q. (John 15:1-17): Another awesome passage.  Today’s reading feels like it’s changing my attitude — making me less pessimistic (taking out some of that yucky gray matter) and more filled with love and joy.  I do hope that this Scripture is for all of us and not just the disciples.

A. It is indeed.  John is recording these words that multitudes of people will benefit — wait until you see what Jesus prays for next.