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 331 (Nov. 27): Paul looks to Gentiles salvation to make Israelites jealous, God’s mercy is for everyone, treat everyone with the love of Christ, respect authority, clothe yourself in Jesus and resist evil desires, steer away from criticism, do not cause others to stumble in their faith, respect 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.

Romans 11-14

Questions & Observations

Q. (Romans 11:1-24): There are several questions I have in this passage.  Here are the questions:

1) Vs. 5-6.  I’m not sure what Paul is describing here.

A. Paul is saying that even among the remnant of His faithful people, they were saved by His grace, not their own actions.  That’s all.

2) V. 7: My understanding of this is that some Israelites remained faithful to God — they didn’t worship idols — and because of their loyalty, they are chosen.  And, God hardened the hearts of those that were not faithful to further divide the good from the bad, which would bring Him glory — just like he did with Pharaoh.  Those with hardened hearts take the role of the bad guys and kind of “push the envelope” of God’s plan a little farther into action so that his faithful will see His glory.

A. Yes, that sounds right, though I admit it sounds a little “off” to our modern ears.

3) V. 12, 15: Why would the world be better when the Israelites finally accept Jesus as their savior.  Is this still valid with Jews today?  And, v. 15 is the same idea?

A. That’s a mystery I don’t really have a good answer for, but yes, verse 15 reinforces the same idea.

4) V. 16b: So people can be saved just because they belong to a family whose leaders are faithful to God?

A. No.  They have the POTENTIAL to be saved because God is faithful to the family of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, but that does not ultimately help the individual.

O. (12:15): I have always taken notice of popularity contests: who people choose to attach themselves to based on the others’ status — popularity, wealth, personality, goodness, badness.  I had a friend where we used to live who I think has a great soul.  But, every time a situation came up where she had two groups of friends going to the same event — notably fireworks kicking off the Christmas season — she would choose one group over us and another family.  I don’t know why we couldn’t just all hang out together.  We all knew one another.  Anyway, it was awkward.  She kept us hanging saying that she may meet us there.  But, she would show up with the other group and barely give us the time of day if she saw us.  To her defense, it is hard to know whether to invite people from different branches of your life to the same function.  There can be that awkwardness.  But, I think it’s short-lived.  Like Paul says here: We all live in harmony and we are to enjoy everyone’s company.

Q. (13:1-7): I think we talked about this in the OT.  I understand this passage in the context of the times of the OT, but I have a hard time with accepting that authority shouldn’t be questioned in our government.  After all, that’s why the Pilgrims left England because they were not allowed to worship God the way they wanted.  So, I would say that they didn’t have respect for their leaders.

A. I think what you’ve done is provide the exception that proves the rule.  In many cases, Christians today (Americans in particular) have a “persecuted” mindset, and part of it has to do with the government.  Now there are some threats to religious liberty out there, but there is no active persecution of Christians today in this country that in any way compares to what was happening with the Puritans/Pilgrims (Happy Thanksgiving!) or, frankly, what is taking place in more than 50 countries around the world today including China and North Korea.  Unless we are under a TRUE threat, Paul desires that we submit to the authorities above us.  Don’t take that to mean, however, that we must AGREE with them, or that we cannot act in a peaceful manner to change the law.  I see nothing against these actions in what Paul is saying.

O. (14:1-23): Wow, there’s a lot said here.  1) Mind your own beeswax (look up the origins of this saying for some humorous theories).  2) God doesn’t care what we eat.  But, if one cares what he/she eats, then they need to stand firm on their convictions.  3) And, if one does not believe in the same way, they should not cause a rift and eat according to the other’s wishes.  V. 17 sums it up: For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of what we eat or drink, but of living a life of goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.  Basically, love one another.  Another verse says to not act like you know everything, making others feel inferior or irritated.  We do not lift up God by lifting up ourselves and putting others down.  Together, we are all integral to completing the body of Christ, so we should treat each other with love.

O. (15:22b-23): Wow, this speaks to me.  My hubby can basically eat anything and not have any side effects.  Me, I’m another story.  I became a vegan in college because I had a VERY liberal Political Science professor who showed my class a movie about the meat industry in America.  I think a lot of it has been fixed now, but I’m sure a lot still goes on. Anyway, after I saw the film, I tried to eat a Hawaiian pizza with Canadian bacon on it.  I couldn’t do it, so I subconsciously became a vegan.  Now, though, I can no longer have all the soy I want.  I switched to almond milk because soy milk started tearing me up.  I started to notice that my brain felt heavy and cloudy after coffee, chocolate — basically, caffeine.  Now, I’m starting to give credit to that feeling I have.  Now I notice it after a lot of processed foods, which I’m an avid eater of protein bars for lunch.  But, whenever it’s brought up in conversation, there is this awkward feeling like me or whomever is telling their diet tales is trying to affect the others.  Long ago, I made a decision to try to not make others feel weird around me being a vegan and it’s worked well.  However, several of my friends have gone gluten free and say they feel more alive because of it.  I feel pressure to try it.  But, giving up bread is not something I want to do to solve my dietary issues.  But, now that I’m paying attention to what gives me that feeling, I can hopefully figure it out.  I give the Holy Spirit the credit for helping me realize what foods are good and bad for my body.

Day 329 (Nov. 25): Faith brings joy, God’s gift outweighs what Adam brought, Christ broke sin’s power, law is no longer trump, Jesus frees us from sin’s domination, Spirit can control you

Welcome to BibleBum where we are exploring the entire Bible in one year to better learn how to follow God’s instructions and discover the purpose for our lives.  The BibleBum blog uses The One Year Chronological Bible, the New Living Translation version.  At the end of each day’s reading, Rob, a cultural history aficionado and seminary graduate, answers questions from Leigh An, the blogger host, about the daily scripture.  To start from the beginning, click on “Index” and select Day 1.

Romans 5-8:17

Questions & Observations

O. (Romans 5:1-11): Paul is an awesome writer!  And, if I said that to him, he would give the glory to God because God has given him the words to speak and the talent to deliver the words eloquently.  I often think of giving and receiving compliments.  I feel weird getting them, because I did what I did because of who I am and the talents I have.  I should say something about that it’s just how God made me.  Then, giving them sometimes feels awkward too, maybe because of the same thing.  It shouldn’t be the people I’m praising, but God for giving them the talents or means that would elicit that compliment.

Q. (Romans 5:17): I just wondered if that’s how Satan became ruler of the earth: because he was triumphant in getting Adam and Eve to sin that he won a little battle over earth. I’m not saying that Satan is more powerful than God, just that this was the beginning of a battle of the two for the rights of the human race and eternity.  Yes, I’m just reaching for all of this.  I’m not saying it’s true.  I think it’s OK for our minds to wonder as long as we don’t pass it on as truth?  The important point being made here is that Adam may have ushered in sin, but the more important point is that Jesus triumphed over sin by making it null and void, as long as we believe in Him and live our lives accordingly.

A. I think that the creation of man and woman was merely a new front in a struggle that has taken place outside of time, so to think of it as having a “beginning” is a little bit tricky.  I believe that the struggle between God and Satan has been going on since before time began (which is not the same as saying they have battled for eternity — only God is eternal, Satan is created).  Satan’s attacks on mankind, from the Garden on down, can be thought of in the same way that a bully by definition attacks people smaller than himself or herself.  Satan can’t attack God directly, but he can harm those who are most dear to God, His children — us, and perhaps even separate some of these vulnerable children from their Father for all eternity.  Pretty brutal tactics if you ask me.

Q. (Romans 6:1-14): I’ve said before that I was baptized in the Fourth Grade and I don’t remember a lot about it except that where it was and about how old I was.  I remember that our church always sang the hymnal versions of Power in the Blood (listen to this blue-grassy version at http://cardiphonia.bandcamp.com/track/power-in-the-blood-nothing-but-the-blood-of-jesus).  I intended to go to the baptism classes with my oldest daughter, who is 8, last time our church offered them.  I missed it.  It wasn’t on my radar loud enough.  She didn’t really say one way or the other if she wanted to do it.  However, one of their friends, who I think is 7, was baptized.  Now, my little one, 5, asked to be baptized.  I certainly didn’t tell her she couldn’t.  She said she wanted to because she loved Jesus.  I thought that was a pretty good reason.  But, I was always taught — by the church, I don’t know what the Bible says about it — that you have to be mature enough to understand the deep meaning of baptism.  Does the Bible address the timing of it?  Our church baptizes babies, right?  Or, is it a dedication or blessing?  They are sprinkled with water.  That’s another thing, I was always taught that true baptism required submersion.

A. Ah, we’re back to the baker’s dozen questions in a question.  Ok, let’s see: the Bible says nothing about the age of knowing, but there’s a good reason for that — the only accounts of baptisms are with adults (though some families are included).  So the only form of baptism presented in the Bible at all (whether by John the Baptist or by Jesus’ followers in Acts) is immersion.  This is where the tradition of immersion comes from to this day, and is the most common type of Baptism.  It’s worth pointing out, however, that really only the Baptist church (named that for a reason) says that the ONLY acceptable baptism is immersion.  Other churches have done just fine with pouring or sprinkling water onto the head of a candidate (I was baptized by sprinkling when I was 12).  Baptists are rather picky about this because of their denominational history, which is too lengthy to go into here.  Summit as a church will baptize (by sprinkling) or dedicate an infant, but they only OFFER (publicly anyway) immersion for adults, at our bi-annual beach ceremonies.  The ministers at Summit would not tell someone that their baptism “didn’t count” because they weren’t immersed, they respect all forms of baptism.

Q. (6:12-14): I certainly get this, but I struggle with the structure of it.  I never remember feeling the gift of the Holy Spirit when I was baptized, but I always had a strong conscience, even before I was baptized.  So, can you get the gift of the Spirit without being baptized?  My girls seem to have a good sense of right and wrong, around others anyway.  The other thing is this Passage makes it sound simple, like sin is so easy to give up.  And, sometimes I don’t know if some things I do are sins or not.  I know some may roll their eyes to these, but hey, I’m married with two kids at home and not much money to sin with, so the little stuff is meaningful.  I can have a cup of coffee and know it wasn’t right for me to have.  Others can drink a whole pot of coffee and not feel bad, physically or guiltily (is that even a word, jk).  I am always monitoring my words.  Sometimes I speak out and wish I had kept my mouth shut.  But, I think many times I’m being overly worried.  But, it feels like sin because anything I say should be OK with God and whatever he allows me to say, I shouldn’t feel ashamed.  And, sometimes I am ashamed of what I say (not about God.)  Anyway, are these little white sins or am I getting caught up in areas that are not important to God?  In his eyes, a little coffee or chocolate is probably no big deal.  But … if I do eat some and feel bad, then my body is not working at full capacity which would keep me from being my best, which would make me feel as if I had sinned.

A. That was pretty hard to follow, but let’s see what we can get out of it.  The Bible tells us that those who believe in Christ receive the Holy Spirit — no Baptism required.  The two are frequently intertwined, however, because Baptism was for centuries the only place where you could profess your faith and become a Christian.  Now even before a person receives the Spirit, that person has some form of moral compass (what you describe in your daughters) that I believe comes from the mark of our Creator — it is what we would call a conscience.  We don’t lose that when the Spirit enters our lives, but I believe that if we are open to His guiding, the Spirit can supersede our moral compass and guide us in truly Godly living, but it takes years of practice.  Since you bring it up, one way we can know that the Spirit is at work is that we are CONVICTED of our little sins, and guided towards repentance.  As to whether chocolate or coffee is a sin to indulge in, well, I’ll let the Spirit guide you on that one.  J

Q. (Romans 7:15-17): This is so interesting.  I never thought of myself as two different parts.  I thought that the sinner and the person were one in the same.  But, here it is saying that a person can know and understand sin, but still do it.  So, to me, this means that the person is inherently good, it’s just the sin that is living inside them that they need to dispose of.

A. I’m going to have to disagree with your assessment — the trajectory of human kind since the fall has been down, not up; bad, not good.  There is still good in us, but it is negated and corrupted by our sins.  We are capable of great acts of kindness and mercy, but also perverse acts of brutality and cruelty, but without God’s help, our good deeds simply do not outweigh our evil ones.  That is why we need God’s help so badly, and that is why Jesus came to Earth.

Q. (7:21-25): Amen, Brother Paul.  I can’t believe that even Paul has little wars going inside of his head between choosing good in the midst of sinful temptations.  This makes me think that those folks who have an air about them that they are pompously holy are putting on a big show.  If Paul struggles with sin, so do they!  I feel like the end of the Bible is the grand finale.

A. Wait until we get to the end of 2 Corinthians, you’ll love what Paul has to say.

O. (8:1-2) Sweet relief.  Thank you for your knowledge, Paul.  These verses certainly calm some anxiety!

Q. (8:9b): To me, this statement in parentheses supports your idea, Rob, that God’s chosen ones are the ones who have the Spirit in their heart, which is something that they chose to do themselves.  It has nothing to do with God selecting certain people to go to heaven.  I always have to remember to give God a lot more credit than I do.  He’s always going to be fair.  He loves all of us, equally, if we let Him.

A. Jesus desires to draw all humankind to Himself.

Q. (8:17): I’m glad Paul remembered the suffering part.  He was making it sound all too easy.

A. Frankly, I find Paul’s ability to make it sound easy with all that he went through to be the amazing part.  He will give us a rundown of his “incidents” in Philippians I think.  But never fear, suffering was never very foreign to him — it never is to those who are closest to God.  Just don’t tell that to Joel Osteen.

Day 328 (Nov. 24): Everyone will be judged, Jews need to practice what they preach, God remains faithful, all are equal, all sin, through Christ we are saved, Abraham chosen for his faithfulness to be father of Jewish nation

Welcome to BibleBum where we are exploring the entire Bible in one year to better learn how to follow God’s instructions and discover the purpose for our lives.  The BibleBum blog uses The One Year Chronological Bible, the New Living Translation version.  At the end of each day’s reading, Rob, a cultural history aficionado and seminary graduate, answers questions from Leigh An, the blogger host, about the daily scripture.  To start from the beginning, click on “Index” and select Day 1.

Romans 2-4

Questions & Observations

Q. (Romans 2:5-11): Back in the Old Testament, I felt like all the prophecies were talking solely to the Israelites, which I think they were.  But, here, I feel like Paul is staring me in the eye and telling me this prophecy.  As to what this Scripture addresses: I feel that I’m doing some of what God wants, I just never know if it’s enough.  There are definite areas I can work on.  One is my dependence on God — emotionally, financially, socially.  I still see my weaknesses, but when I let God take over, they are no longer weaknesses.  My strength — when I ask for it — comes from God.

A. You’ve got the right idea.  What Paul is really doing here is making a very long-winded case that we just can’t make it on our own.  We all sin, and fall short of the standard, even the Gentiles who were unaware of the formal standard given to the Jews.  Paul wants to tell everyone, Jew, Gentile, us today, that we are lost without the work of God in Jesus Christ.  In the end, it is faith in God, and seeking His help, that is the foundation of our relationship with Him.

Q. (2:12-16): Why would the Gentiles be destroyed if they didn’t know anything about God’s written law?  I like v. 15.  It is similar to a thought I had this morning about sin.  My sin indicator is not written down, it’s in my heart (soul).  When something feels good in my head — showing off a bit, eating chocolate, complaining, gossiping (which I don’t do anymore, chocolate is my vice) — it doesn’t feel good in my heart.  That is my conscience, which I say is the Holy Spirit guiding me.

A. Paul is saying that your “sin indicator” is universal, everyone has one, even if it has grown “dull” over time.  That is why he can say that Gentiles will be destroyed for their sins.

O. (3:5-8): Talk about spinning the truth to fit someone’s needs.

Q. (4:1-25): I enjoy hearing about Abraham again … about how he was faithful and that was what made him righteous, and God, in turn, gives him salvation.   I like how he is used as an example that obeying the law does not win God’s love and/or earn salvation.  Circumcision, something that lots of folks get hung up on whether or not to have their boys circumcised, no longer signifies if you are set apart as God’s chosen.  Faith alone does that.

A. Glad Paul’s writings can help clear that up.  There is a reason that this book has been instrumental in bringing people to God through Christ for centuries.  It has a very powerful message.