Day 342 (Dec. 8): Let Spirit be your power source, husbands and wives should be in a relationship as Christ is with the church, children should honor their parents, parents should bring them up in the Lord, God rewards slaves and masters alike who are in the Spirit, Put on armor of God, Pray at all times, Tychicus is going to Ephesus to give report, Paul greets church in Colosse, Christ is image of God, Christ is supreme!

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.

Paul wrote this letter to the Colossians while imprisoned in Rome.  He sent the letter to Colosse with Onesimus and Tychicus (See Col. 4:7-9), who were also carrying the letter to Ephesians (see Eph. 6:21-22).

Colossians 1:1-23

Questions & Observations

O. (Ephesians 5:18b-19, 20): I would say this is a good charge to be playing Christian music at all times.  We have a great station in Orlando, Z88.3! On a different note, v. 20 answers something I brought up a long time ago, that about when you pray, you only have to say “in Jesus name” if you ask for something.  Here it says that you should also when you give thanks.  I just think it’s important to give glory to Him every chance you get.

Q. (5:20-33): Rob, it’s OK, I’m not on my women’s equality throne.  I used to cringe at this Scripture because I never wanted to be considered less than a man.  I think the bigger picture here is our relationship with Christ.  He is the one we need to respect, honor, obey, love, worship, etc.  And, he gives us love and blesses us in return.  He really does that without us doing our part.  Likewise, if wives respect, uphold and love their husbands, just as we should with Christ, our husbands will be better people, just as Christ is better if his believers are virtuous.  After all, together, we are His body.

V. 33 hits the core, I think, of what men and women struggle with in their relationships.  Men love themselves, i.e. can have egos.  If they love their wives to the same degree, they will have a loving relationship.  If they put themselves before their wives — note Christ washes the disciples feet and he endured a grueling crucifixion — they will likely have discord.  I have seen many relationships where if the man has a strong ego, the wife is usually quiet and obedient, not a light like God desires.  And, I think some wives may struggle with the respect virtue.  We have a mind of our own, and especially in modern times, we are nearly equal in prosperity.  So, when entering a marriage, you both have to think of each other and not make major decisions by yourself.  I struggle with this, as you can probably tell, because I didn’t marry until I was 31 and had my own ways.  I was always headstrong though.  Anyway, I think some decisions he makes are wrong, but I know that he is human.  Also, I have learned that if I don’t agree with him, I shouldn’t just be quiet.  I talk through it with him so then I have understanding of his thought process and then, I can fully respect him.  This scripture describes more of working together and submitting to one another — not that husbands dominate their wives — like v. 21 says.  Note that it says, “submit to one another.”  It doesn’t say just “women submit.”

A.  You’ve hit upon the key to this section at the end: the idea is mutual submission, and the husband leads in that he is the first to submit.  That, of course, does not make him perfect, but it certainly demolishes any foolishness about this being a “men should dominate their women and the women should just take it” kind of passage.  The man should lead the relationship (and the wife should follow) in his willingness to die for her- to be willing to die to his own desires (especially control over her).  Many times men mistake the meaning of this passage (as women do) and say things like, “she won’t submit”.  But that’s not what Paul says: he says she should submit- after YOU DIE TO YOURSELF!  That is radically different, and it is a shame to me that more people of both genders do not understand the true meaning of this passage.

O. (6:1-3): Note to parents that it says children “belong to the Lord.”  That means we should cherish them treat them with respect.  I have never heard v. 3 before.  I’ll have to read that to my children.  I have a great aunt who will be 104 in January.  I think she wishes she hadn’t been so obedient.  Just kidding.  She is lonely.  All her friends are gone.

Q. (6:5-9): Rob, here’s a good one for you.  Explain slavery in the pre-Civil War U.S. in regards to this Scripture.  The war ended slavery because the Union said slavery was bad.  Here, the Scriptures say is just a way of life.

A. Ok, here goes: the slavery system in the ancient world was a system of slave debt, which frequently ended in the freedom of the slave.  People were frequently sold into slavery to settle debts in lieu of going to prison- and this type of slavery was rarely for life.  Now this is to be contrasted with the life-long, horribly abusive slavery associated with the slaves who were kidnapped from Western Africa during the colonial period of the United States and the Caribbean.  Slavery within the colonial system was for life, with beatings, brandings, separation of families (something the Roman system would not have allowed), and, don’t forget, it would have been entered into via kidnapping.  A master could also hang or beat an American slave to death, something that would NEVER have been allowed, even in barbaric Rome.

 

Something important to note here is that, despite Paul’s writings, there were people on both sides of the colonies (England and America) that took up what they saw as God’s command to abolish a slavery system that was exploitive and not necessary any longer.  You can read about one of the most famous, an Englishman named William Wilberforce- his story is told in a fairly recent movie called Amazing Grace (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0454776/?ref_=nv_sr_1) which I would highly recommend to learn more about the reasons behind the abolition movement.

O. (6:8-9): Again, I would like to point out that God says everyone is equal here, no matter if you are a bazilliionaire or impoverished.  Remember where we read in the OT about how the tables will be turned when everything comes to light.  The overbearing people — rich, powerful (if used in the wrong spirit) will be shadowed by those they dominated on earth.  I think that is so cool that we will see our reward.  The test is to stay humble and on the right path.

Q. (6:11): What is the God’s armor?

A. It is a series of reminders that Paul presents using the metaphor of a solider putting on his armor for battle.  Paul is providing a reminder that there are spiritual, not merely physical, dangers in the world.  The devil has you in his crosshairs, Paul is saying, so you need to be prepared to deal with the spiritual realities of the world that we cannot see.  His advice is to remember the ways that God has provided for our spiritual needs, from the Bible, to guidance for our faith, to instruction in righteousness, in order to stand against the devil’s actions, and not retreat.  He is telling his people to stand firm!

Q. (6:18): What does it mean to “pray in the Spirit”?

A. I think he means using the Spirit to guide our prayers and give us insight into God’s will for us.

Q. (Colossians 1:22): There is so much depth to Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection.  I have never thought of myself as holy and blameless, without fault.  That is hard to imagine/accept.

A. Well, if its any consolation to you, your blamelessness is not your doing, but rather God’s.  Amazing Grace indeed.

 

Day 322 (Nov. 18): Apollos instructed at Ephesus, Paul’s third missionary journey, Paul ministers at Ephesus, Paul tells church in Corinth to be united under Christ, God’s wisdom is stronger than the wisest human plan, God’s Spirit gives us some of His wisdom, believers are servants of Christ not of Paul or Apollos

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 18:24-19:20

1 Corinthians 1-3:23

Questions & Observations

Q. (Acts 19:6): I didn’t speak in tongues after I got baptized.  I haven’t heard of anyone getting this gift that I know of.  What is the purpose of it anyway?

A. We looked at this in Acts 2 (Pentecost), but the purpose of speaking in tongues in the book of Acts is to proclaim God’s message in a miraculous way, by doing so in a language that the speaker does not speak.  Paul will actually address this gift (and gifts in general) in the near future of this work, so let’s hang in there for that.  There are various theories about why people baptized today do not speak in tongues, among them that these gifts are no longer commonly given by the Spirit (a position known as Cessationalism- the gift has ceased), and others that it is still given, but rarely manifests itself.  The Charismatic Movement and Pentecostal Churches would argue that speaking in tongues is the proof of the Spirit’s presence, but I disagree with that stance for many reasons.  It is, frankly, somewhat of a profound mystery, but as Jesus told us about the Spirit in John 3, He has a will of His own, and does as He pleases, not as we might like Him to.

Q. (19:13-20): Were the Jews not properly casting out the evil spirits?  Why would an evil spirit overpowering the group of Jews make them honor God.  I take it they were looking for God to protect them?

A. The story is implying that they saw the error of their ways when they were defeated by the demon, and turned to Christ for true salvation.

Q. (1 Corinthians 2:6-9): So here goes the free will v. predestination argument.  Here it says that the crucifixion of Jesus was planned all along.  But, it says that the “rulers of this world have not understood it; if they had, they would not have crucified our glorious Lord.” So, can we say that God knew these leaders would not be righteous and He knew He would have to make the world right through the ultimate king?

A. Actually, both Calvinist (Predestination) and Armenian (Free Will) camps argue that the cross was God’s plan all along- neither position holds that God is not sovereign and can do as He pleases, the fault line is over what place HUMAN free will has in the place of God, so I don’t see the declaration of Jesus being crucified as being especially controversial.  I think you can see, however, that this argument can be extended either way to the scripture you ask about: either their fate was preordained (that would be Calvinist) to reject and crucify Jesus, or that they made up their own minds to kill Jesus (Free Will) and God merely knew in advance what they would do.  This scripture doesn’t solve your dilemma, sorry.

Q. (1 Corinthians 3:21-23): I don’t understand what Paul is saying when he says “everything belongs to you.”  Does it have something to do with v. 16, because it says that all believers together are the temple of God?

A. Paul is reinforcing the call for unity by saying basically, “you are all heirs in Christ, together — everything, every teacher, every blessing, etc, it belongs to all of you, so why waste time on divisions?”

Day 191 (July 10): Thank God for always being there to rescue, the wise will see the ways of the Lord, the godly will be honored and infuriate the wicked, God revives those who are suffering

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.

Psalms 107, 111-114

 

Questions & Observations

O. (Psalm 107:1-7): God has such grace and mercy.  No matter how far away from God one has strayed, he will always welcome them back and give them a place to reside.  What a gift we have in Him!

O. (111:10): Great verse.  I have been feeling wiser.  Reading the Bible in it’s entirety is the best decision I have ever made.  I have wanted to do it for so long and started several times.  What could be more important in life than knowing God’s textbook.  It should be the foundation for who we are and how we live!  I always said — because I hadn’t found time to read the Bible — that as long as I love everyone and act accordingly, I would “make it.”  But, I can see that I was naïve!  There is a ton more of knowledge available that is helping me know more of what my life is about.  I wish everyone could make the time!

O. (112:1): Several years ago, we were gearing up for our daughter to attend Kindergarten.  Although we lived in the best school district in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia, we wanted our daughter to not just be exposed to Christianity, but to live it, to be it.  What a great decision that was!  I cringe at the thought of my kids not being allowed to pray or not taught the virtues of the Bible.  If there is any bullying going on at school, it is immediately dealt with.  In my daughter’s Second Grade class, I have witnessed kids talking through hurt feelings with love and respect.  These kids are so compassionate.  I left my daughter’s birthday party in tears.  Each child said a prayer out loud for her.  Classical Christian schools rock!  They make it very clear that God should be the center of our lives.  I know by talking about this that some may think I’m a know-it-all or inconsiderate because private schools are so expensive.  In society’s standards, we can’t afford it.  Many things have been put on hold because our children’s education comes first.  I’m just saying, check it out!  And, there are scholarships available.  (Sorry for those of you who are reading this and have no children.)

Q. (112:3): I’m holding out for the riches.  Really, God, I will be generous!  I do believe that if you follow what God wants you to do that you will have just what you need to be very happy.

A. There’s one of those old “conversations with God” that get used in sermons a lot that I have that I think sums up my thoughts on your question: I asked God to give me happiness. And God said “No”.  He said, “He gives me blessings, happiness is up to me.”

O. (112:4): I love these three virtues — generosity, compassion and righteousness.  If your life isn’t great by society’s standards, I think it’s awesome that a light can shine if you are a believer of God.  I think those three things can help you stay happy by giving of yourself.

Q. (112:7): As I have said in the above observation that our budget is tight.  We moved a year ago, my husband started his own business which can be stressful, you know this if you have ever done it, our daughter’s school bill doubled with the change of school and we have another child starting, so our school bill will be quadrupling from two years ago.  But, the more we trust in God, the less we are concerned about it.  It’s scary that it feels good.  I guess money is the fear that we are trying to hand over to God.  But, there are more fears like my in-laws are dealing with: many of their friends are fatally ill.  I’m sure that makes them look at their own vitality.  There are fears about our children being safe.  Just pray and hand those worries over to God!

A. (Just as a quick note, when I’m discussing fear in my response, I’m not talking about fear in the sense of reverence for God, and a right understanding of who He is, as in Proverbs 1:7, among other references.  I would use the word reverence myself.  That’s not the type of fear I’m going to be discussing).  Now then: fear (anxiety, cowardice, etc.) though sometimes a powerful motivator, is ultimately a fruitless emotion.  And fear is not of God.  If you think about it (and as 1 John 4:18 notes), the opposite of love is not hate, but fear.  Fear is the very antithesis of what God calls us to.  We are called to see the example of His love for us on the cross, and trust Him with the rest.  The more we trust Him, the less we will fear.  Now that doesn’t mean that fear will just, poof, disappear.  We will continue to struggle with fear and sin our whole lives, even as we grow closer to God.  But as we see the work of God in the Bible and in our lives, we will see that God calls us to have a spirit of boldness and trust, not a spirit of fear (2 Timothy 1:7).  One of the most common commands in scripture (especially when encountering God or an angelic being) is, “do not fear”.  Trust in God, and learn from Christ what it means to live a bold life for Him.

Day 150 (May 30): The righteous will be rewarded, the wise accept correction, fools fail

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 11-13

Questions & Observations

These proverbs are all so amazing.  I can apply most of them to my own life.  You?  We will highlight some, but many are self-explanatory or subjects we have covered in previous readings.

Q. (11:2): We have heard several times where it is great to be humble.  But, it seems that if you feel the need to get your — rather God’s — message to someone, that you should speak out, a time when you may not be so humble.  How can we proclaim Christ and still remain humble?

A. I think you might be confusing some concepts.  If as Christians we believe the truth of our message, and others ask us about it or we feel compelled to share (appropriately), then I think it is quite appropriate to speak about the gospel.  That doesn’t mean you aren’t humble in the process.  The best gospel messages I’ve ever heard have a simple focus: what God has done for us in Christ.  If you are bragging about all the things you are doing for God (not humble!) you are on the wrong track.  The truth is that a clear understanding of the gospel message should make us humble: it all comes down to God acting on our behalf and accepting what Christ has done in faith.  It surely takes great humility to share that message well.

Q. (11:12): Keeping this one little proverb could prevent so many rifts among neighborhoods and towns.  However, you have those who definitely fall out of favor with the rest by what color they paint their house, how many cars are left out in their driveway with flat tires, etc.  So, you could not talk about them, and let the HOA handle it.  Or, if there is abuse going on, let the authorities handle it instead of chatting about it amongst one another.  Is this the point of this proverb?

A. I would question what type of motivation is driving your desire to “share.”  Are you truly motivated by a desire to make your community look better, or is it to feel better about putting another person down.  The key word in the proverb is “belittle.”  It is good and appropriate to share the truth (in love!), because rarely when you are truly motivated by love will you end up intentionally belittling someone.  If you can’t speak to someone without knocking them down a few pegs in the process, then perhaps the HOA should do it.

Q. (11:14): I think Congress helps prevent our president, leader, from making foolish mistakes.  Also, the leaders of our church, after suffering a fall after the pastor who delivers sermons made a foolish mistake and resigned, are planning to build a teaching team, where several pastors rotate to deliver the message.  That way, they can work with one another, give each other a break from the stress of leading a huge congregation, and if one leaves for whatever reason, the fact that there are more to cover his spot can minimize the blow.

A. I think this verse is talking more about a President’s cabinet of advisors rather than Congress, though there is certain value in the checks and balances our government has built in.  But generally, the cabinet is the people who are advising the President.

Q. (11:15): When does God say it’s OK to help people out financially?

A.  God says it’s always OK, as long as you are being financially responsible for your own affairs as well, which should be your top priority.  If you can’t keep your own house in order, you won’t be able to help other people anyway.

O. (11:17): We have read about good and evil pretty much based on those traits being in two different types of people.  But, when I read this verse and think of both of them within myself, it has a different application.  If I let the goodness in me take over, I will be saved.  If I let the evil take over, I will be destroyed and have nothing to show for my life.

O. (11:18): I guess this is why God hasn’t given me the winning numbers to the lottery.

Q. (11:23): I thought we were all going to be judged.  Does this mean the godly don’t have to fear judgment? They can just look forward to the rewards?

A. Hebrews 9:27 makes it clear that everyone will die and face judgment, but if we are in Christ, we do not have to worry about being condemned for our sins (Romans 8:1).

Q. (11:24-25): My friend was taking the Dave Ramsey course to learn how to budget.  She said one of the lessons was on tithing.  He told his students to give freely, it will come back to you.  This is a hard concept to understand, but if you believe God will take care of you and by tithing, we help others and that pleases God, then it becomes a wonderful habit to get into.  I hope the “be stingy” part doesn’t include coupon clipping and bargaining to get a better price on things.  My father-in-law has told us that all prices are negotiable — he’s talking mostly of cars, houses, furniture and other big home purchases like carpeting, cabinets, etc.  Is bargaining not a godly practice?  I always find it a delight to see what I can save, but sometimes when I’m doing it, it does seem a bit like I’m hurting the person on the other side of the counter.

A. The only action forbidden in the market place is deceit (God desires honest scales as we saw in 11:1).  You don’t have to worry about bargaining or clipping coupons, unless you are doing so in order to rip someone off, including a company.

Q. (12:1): Several verses have addressed this “taking wisdom” topic.  I was always talking about others taking advice and didn’t apply it to myself.  I take some advice well, but other times, I consider the person giving the advice and roll my eyes.  I applied for an assistant editor position.  After I didn’t get it, I was told that I was going to get it until the lazy (he was a talented design editor, but was lost when he was promoted to a manager) managing editor called one of his buddies who was looking for a job.  I was told I did much better on the editing test than he did.  Anyway, as you can guess I didn’t get the job.  But, I had to work with him.  He made mistake after mistake.  And, I was not being bitter at all.  He was just not capable of doing the job.  He really got under my skin because we caught so many mistakes that he made.  Now, after I understand more of what I am as a Christian, I have a hard time thinking it would change my actions with this matter if it were to happen again today.  So, what I’m asking is how do you work with someone (he technically was not my boss, but I had to work a lot with him) if they are not fit for the work?

A. I’m not sure I would have good blanket advice for this situation.  Personally, I would do my best to be honest and helpful, but would be very concerned that working with such a person would make me bitter.  And if the people who supervised “us” couldn’t see this person’s incompetence, then I would say its not a good company to work for and find another job as soon as I could.

Q. (12:10): I grew up on a farm.  We were very good to our animals, except for the branding and the horn “trimming.”  In my second year of college, a very liberal professor showed us a film about the meat industry.  The next time I tried to eat a Hawaiian pizza, I couldn’t eat it.  Subconsciously, the film changed my diet to be a vegan.  Doesn’t this verse speak out to cruelty to animals that are raised for consumption? Another animal cruelty subject has come up at my daughter’s school.  In second grade, she dissected a snake.  This is our first year there and I have heard that they do that in the first grade too.  Anyway, she felt she HAD to do it, but it really grossed her out and she couldn’t eat dinner that night.  Most kids in the class were fine, but I heard that a couple others had to return to the classroom.  I went online and saw where something like 12 million animals a year are killed to use for dissection in school.  That doesn’t seem godly.  To me, a model does the same thing without the killing and the traumatization of the students.  Many would say I’m just a tree-hugger.  But, I feel it to the bone that animals lives should not be trivialized.

A. I think God would agree with you (Luke 12:6 is a great verse), and I think animal rights are worth pursuing.  My only concern is the need to weigh (greatly) the value of human life above animal life- there is no more clear teaching in the Law.  Yes the animals that were sacrificed (remember all those fun passages) were valued and the intent of the shedding of blood was clear, but it was clear that the animal died so that the people might live.  Now we no longer need to sacrifice animals to live (especially if we are vegan, which I am not), but I do have concerns about many would be animal advocates who seem to have little concern for the lives of people, especially the most vulnerable —the unborn, the abused, the ill, the elderly, and the imprisoned.  Given the simple math of a limited number of days and years here on earth, my understanding of the gospel compels me to value human life above animal life, because the loss of human life can have eternal consequences, and I am not convinced that the same is true of animals.  Be careful that a crusade to prevent some snake dissection does not keep you from focusing on the only being to be made in God’s image: humans.

Q. (12:11): Chasing fantasies?  Does Wisdom say that we should choose a practical profession?  The U.S. always boasts that it’s the place to take chances, myself included.  If everyone took the “safe” route, we wouldn’t have as many of the innovations that we enjoy today.

A. If you chased fantasies in ancient society rather than raising crops or working a trade, you starved.  It’s as simple as that.  We have reached the point where it is not required of us to do the same, so I feel that we can find more “creative” ways of honoring God’s calling on our lives.

O. (12:18): I struggle with this even with my own kids.  My girls are very sweet and thoughtful.  However, when they do something wrong, that almost outweighs their sweetness and I just want to blast the bad behavior away.  Some of the words and tone of voice — I know I’m not alone in this — are not the most gentle.  But, I feel that if you don’t show them my disapproval of their actions, they won’t take the matter seriously.

O. (12:23): I have seen this.  When something wise is said, it seems to be taken but not made a spectacle of.  Conversely, when someone — especially a leader — says something redonkulous (ha), it is broadcasted — or mocked in smaller circles —for days and days and days.

Q. (13:3): It’s sooooo hard to know when to speak out and when to hold it.  Is there some sort of mental check that the Bible can give us before we offer advice?

A. Nope.  You’ve got to be discerning and seek God’s wisdom on when to speak and when to be silent.  James 1:19 does tell us that we should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry, so that might be a good starting point.

O. (13:9): What a rewarding verse!  It conjures that wonderful light, joyous feeling we have as Christians.

Q. (13:20): OK.  But in the NT, Jesus says to hang out with the wicked rather than the righteous, because the righteous don’t need to be saved.  So, does the NT overrule this verse?

A. There is nothing about wicked or righteous in the verse in question.  It warns against keeping foolish company and seeking wise company.  Besides, I think you have it backwards: while Jesus did sometimes seek out people, the reality is that they usually sought out HIM!  If anything that proves the value of the verse: people were amazed at how wise Jesus was, and were drawn to Him.  If His words had been foolish, He likely would not have garnered that much attention.  Also, we should be very careful about misapplying the verse you are thinking of (from Luke 5) in all circumstances.  Jesus was not saying that righteous did not need Him, only that He had come to call those who knew they were spiritually “sick” and desired to get well.

Q. (13:24): This is a popular verse among those who speak out about disciplining children.  Many say the “rod” is spanking.  A wise friend says that the rod is supposed to show the way and has nothing to do with spanking.

A. I could see either interpretation.  The problem with many parents today is that they move beyond “not spanking” into “not disciplining their children at all”!  The rod was (and is) used by shepherds to correct sheep; not merely to show the way, but also to CORRECT it when the sheep is wrong.  I am fine with the idea that you do not have to spank a child to correct them (and hitting in anger is wrong), but I reject the idea that this verse means we “show the way” and make the effort to ensure they follow it.  It is our job as parents to use whatever means necessary to ensure our kids are disciplined, responsible adults, but I fear that too many parents just “show” the path and never make sure the kids are on it!

Q. (13:25): Many of these verses, to me, have a literal meaning and a figurative meaning.  This one can be applied to food and being fulfilled with life.

A. Indeed.