Day 346 (Dec. 12): James (Jesus’s brother) writes 12 tribes, get rid of human anger and accept the word in your heart, show no favoritism, faith without good deeds is dead, control your Christian tongue, true wisdom comes from God

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.

James 1-3:18

Questions & Observations

Q. Just some background info, if it’s available: Do any of Jesus’s other brothers speak out for Him?  What were the “12 tribes” that James was talking about?  How did this letter get to them?

A. There is tradition, but not certainty, that the Epistle of Jude (coming soon!) is written by another of Jesus’ brothers — it’s the same name as Judas, so they changed it for obvious reasons.  James, the half brother of Jesus and Bishop of the church of Jerusalem (which will soon be destroyed), appears to be writing to Jewish believers, though it is possible he is using metaphor and refers to both Jews and Gentiles as being part of the “12 tribes”.  Jews of this era were spread over various cities, and any letter like this one would have been sent by messenger.  We do not know who the original readers were.

O. (James 1:2-4): James speaks the truth.  I think this means that the more we endure, the more spiritual we grow until we won’t need to improve much more, if any.

O. (1:14): I think it’s so interesting to point out that evil desires come from ourselves.  We must listen to the Spirit to guide us away from these thoughts or actions.

O. (James 2:10): So, I guess if we have one or two super small sinful issues, then we are not pure.  Purity is the whole shebang.

Q. (James 2:20): Also the other way around, right?  Good deeds without faith has no value to God, right?

A. James is talking about works that are of benefit to mankind, and a faith that is visible to others as a way of spreading the Gospel.  Only God can see our true faith, so in that sense, it does no good to those around us if only God can see it.

Day 296 (Oct 23): Woman praised by Jesus for anointing Him with perfume, Jesus enters jerusalem on a donkey, Jesus foretells His death, God speaks

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 14:3-9

Matthew 26:6-13

John 12:1-11

Mark 11:1-11

Matthew 21:1-11

Luke 19:28-40

John 12:12-19

Luke 19:41-44

John 12:20-36

Questions & Observations

Q. (Mark 14:3-9, Matthew 26:6-13, John 12:1-11): I understand what Jesus is saying that this woman is so honored to anoint Jesus with this wonderful perfume.  But, I understand the other’s response that it was using perfume that could have been sold to help the poor.  We have talked before about how different churches use their money to glorify God: some build ornate buildings and have huge choirs, others put their resources to mission work.  So, I think both responses to how the perfume is used are honorable.  I know you will likely say that this is Jesus and there is nothing more important.  I am not arguing about that!  I’m just saying I can understand why their knee-jerk response was that the perfume could have helped others.  And, they had no idea Jesus was about to be buried, thus the anointing was appropriate.  And, why did Jesus say, “there would always be poor among you”?

A. I think the disciples were put off by the lavishness of the gesture, and their reaction might also had something to do with jealousy — likely they could not afford to make such a gesture to their exalted Rabbi.  But Jesus sets things straight — you can hardly blame ME for just following what Jesus told them!: He will only be with them a bit longer, and He is surely right about the gesture being remembered — look what we’re doing here.  As to why Jesus statement about the poor, I honestly don’t know what to tell you here, except to say: Jesus is right, there has always been those who were poor or had need, in Jesus’ day and in ours.

Q. (Mark 11:11): Why did Jesus look at the temple and then leave?

A. I do not know, but He will return on Monday.

Q. (Mark 11:2, Matthew 21:2, Luke 19:30, John 12:14): Why a young donkey?  I guess that John tells us it was in a prophecy.  Where was the prophecy?

A. It’s from Zechariah 9:9: a humble King will come riding on a donkey.  The donkey was a symbol of peace and the simple life: It was a burden animal, not an animal of war like a stallion or a warhorse.  It cast an image of a humble king, one who came in peace, not in an image of impending war and conquest.

Q. (Luke 19:41-44): I guess you are going to make us wait to see the destruction come to Jerusalem that Jesus is talking about in v. 44?  This must be very upsetting for Jesus to know that the very town that holds the beautiful Temple and had all the potential to be God’s beacon, never happened.  This is a very heavy passage.  There is so much emotion here.  All of the ancestors who could have turned Israel’s fate around, failed.  All of the kings who should have ruled the people justly and taught them about the Lord’s laws are now at a juxtaposition with Jesus, the true King who is riding on a donkey to set Jerusalem straight.  And, remember that God never wanted Israel to have a King because He was supposed to serve as their Light, but they failed to keep their faith.  When they came to the Promised Land out of Egypt they failed to conquer all of the kingdoms.  And, thus, the idols that they worshipped infiltrated Israel and it never was the same.  This is a sad, sad culmination of centuries of discord.

A. Not only will I have more to say, but Jesus will too.  Jesus is talking about the destruction of Jerusalem that will take place in 70 AD, which the Romans will level the city down to its foundations in most places during a war with the Jews (they will do so again in 135 AD as well).  You can pretty clearly see the bittersweet thoughts Jesus is having, and it must have been so difficult for Him, but the offer He was making was being ignored and will continue to be.  It’s just one more place where the free will that God gives us and wholly respects comes into play: Jesus had no desire for the residents of the city to perish, but they made their choices and God respects our decision making too much to interfere.

Q. (John 12:20-36): I noticed in this passage that Jesus never answered the request that the Greeks wanted to talk with Him, nor did he answer the crowd’s question of who He was.  Instead, he offered the best advice He could offer them which is to trust in Him.

A. You’re catching on.  I couldn’t have said it better.

Day 152 (June 1): Fools have no hope, the wises’ lives are certain

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.

Proverbs 17-19

Questions & Observations

O. (17:9): I find that “dwelling on a fault” is so easy to do.  And, one of the hardest things to do in life, is go talk to that person that you find fault with.  But the quicker you talk it out or shrug it off that it deflates.  And, as they say, many times more than one person is at fault, usually me!  My best friend and I had a rift that happened a couple summers ago.  I felt she was boasting and I was just tired, worn out and irritable.  So, we both were at fault.  But, when we talked about it, it was so scary.  We could have ended our 20-year friendship.  But, we worked it out because, as she said, we had so much invested in one another.  It was almost like a marriage.  It was one of those tiffs where you think that there is no way to recover from it.  But, we did.  And, we learned that both of our actions simply stemmed from the way we were raised.  It pays to talk it out!

O. (17:17): I love this verse because I am always hesitant to ask for help.  And, many times, when I have asked for help, I’ve been turned down.  That makes me more hesitant to ask.  But, then there are the friends who have “been there, done that” and they understand why I am asking and are more likely to help us.

Q. (17:21): This is so true.  But, is there a failsafe in teaching them the Lord?  There is a verse that talks about those who raise their children knowing Christ will always come back to those teachings when they stray?

A. There are no fail-safes when it comes to teaching our children about God.  Everyone must walk their own path.  There is a proverb that tells us that if we train up a child in the way that they should go, when they are old they will not turn from it (its in chapter 22, watch for it), but as with all of these Proverbs, it is general wisdom and no guarantee of success.  Sorry!

O. (17:22): So many times I can be a Debbie downer.  I can tell that it saps the mood of those around me.  And, likewise, when I’m around someone like that, I get irritated and want to escape that bad attitude.

Q. (17:23): I think there is a saying “Money = Power.”  This verse is something our politicians really struggle with.  Is there a verse than helps keep them away from being tempted by money?

A. 1 Timothy 6:10 says that the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil.  Note what it does not say: Love of money is the root of ALL evil, which is a common refrain that is actually a misquotation of the verse!

Q. (18:9): It’s so easy to judge people, but we shouldn’t since we don’t know their full story.  However, what is some motivation that the Bible can offer for those couch potatoes to get off their booties and work and do God’s work — meaning to have a cheerful heart that mimics Christ?

A. Hum, I think we’ve read several of them since we got started with Proverbs.  The Bible condemns laziness (sometimes called sloth, one of those “deadly sins”), and it is clear why: God has commanded us to work (Exodus 20: six days you shall work, and then rest on the Sabbath).  Hard work would have been such a key to survival in that era — we can get by a bit more easily today — that it is no wonder sloth is condemned!

Q. (18:10): This means the godly find safety in God’s teachings?

A. Not just in His teachings, but in His very name.

O. (18:11): I have seen this recently where someone just takes their wealth for granted.  But, now that the wealth is gone, so is some comfort.  Luckily, they are believers and know God will provide.

O. (18:12): This is a hot proverb for me.  I am very quick to react on some things and need to learn to be calm, process, consider the facts and other’s actions and feelings, think WWJD and then react.

O. (18:14): Our parents have a friend that is on his last leg.  He is not a believer and is ready to go.  They said he gave up a long time ago.  They have another friend who is a believer and has a great attitude about his condition.  Attitude goes a long way!

Q. (18:18): So, there are times when we should just flip a coin to make a decision instead of talking it out?  Sometimes, there is no right or wrong answer, but a decision needs to be made.

A. Sure, it happens.  Part of the wisdom that these verses require is in how to apply them.

Q. (18:19): Then what does the Bible say on how to get those friends back?

A. Not much.  It has bigger “fish to fry.”

Q. (18:22): It’s hard to remember this when we don’t always feel like a treasure.  I feel this way most of the time.  I don’t think I reciprocate very well.  We all have our times when we don’t treat our spouse like a treasure.  I would like to think it’s something that couples can work out.  I find that money can be a big factor in spouse’s attitude toward one another.  But, also, it can bring you closer together.  Nevertheless, the money factor is there.

A. Having a genuine appreciation for a spouse — no one is perfect in this — goes such a long way toward keeping a marriage alive.

O. (19:3): Like you said earlier, these proverbs are not certain.  So, some who are not foolish can land on bad times too.  When shuffling through the Bible notes in my head, bad things can happen to Christians, but God is always there for us and He is not done with us yet.  He won’t give us more stress than we can handle.  And, we can humbly unload that stress on God and let Him handle it.

Q. (19:8): So, if you love yourself, you love knowledge?  Knowledge helps you live a fulfilled life.  I often give examples of people who fit the situation of the proverb.  I don’t know if that is OK to do or not, because I don’t know their whole story.  Only God does.  A story for this proverb is that you see those people who are always seeking new experiences and full of life.  Then, you see others who stay close to home, almost in an enclosed habitat and are very irritable. I think ienjoying God’s creations gives light to personalities.

A. You have the proverb correct.

Q. (19:12): Can you explain this one?

A. As we have seen with Solomon and David, you don’t mess with the king.  To anger him is to risk the “lion’s” wrath.

O. (19:16): This is a great verse to keep in your head to remember the result of your actions.  Plus, I think those who follow God’s Word are happier, more focused, more fulfilled and have direction.

O. (19:17): Another verse saying that your charity will be repaid.

Q. (19:21): In other words, don’t sweat the big stuff too much because God may turn you in another direction.  Around Christmas, our pastor preached about this subject using Joseph.  He was getting married, but then his betrothed wife became pregnant with a child that was not his.  And that’s just the beginning.  He looked forward to moving on, but God redirected him several times.  It was all part of the plan.  So, how far should we push ourselves?  I guess we are supposed to go in the direction that we think unless God redirects us.  But, some push through it to seek their goals and are rewarded.

A. Our main job is to trust in God, even when others do us harm, and attempt to seek His council.  To me, God is not interested in “redirecting” us every moment- much of what He desires about our hearts is perfectly clear, and it is our job to obey.

Q. (19:24): Does this mean that some people are given blessings, but then they let those blessings go to waste?

A. I would read this verse as a mocking ridicule of the lazy.  They are so lazy they don’t even eat the food they are given.