Thursday, February 28, 2013

1 Thessalonians Bible Study Notes- Chapter 4

1 Thessalonians 4


-Sanctification (in the holiness, set apart, growth of the Christian sense) is Paul predominant theme as he writes in the first 2/3 of this chapter. He has instructed well and wants them to carry out the teaching of Christ in their spirits solemnly and devotedly, not disregarding God who gives the Holy Spirit, which empowers such Divinely inspired living (1 Thessalonians 4:1-8). Love is major emphasis and living a life that is quiet, minding your own calling and business, working hard with the talents and abilities God has ordained and given behaving properly toward outsiders, dependent on no one (1 Thessalonians 4:9-12). *Application* Living dependent of no one takes faith, perseverance, humility, and hard work. All of these are Christian traits by the way. Live a devoted life in Christ obeying His teachings with the right heart and attitude. Do nothing from selfish ambition or vain conceit (Philippians 2:3).

-The coming of the Lord theme picks up again after this exhortation to live well in the power of Christ. Paul’s mantra is hope since we believe that Jesus died and rose again for our sake. We look forward expectantly for His return when the dead in Him will rise first and those who are alive will be caught up together with Him in the clouds at His command cry and the voice of the archangel. We will then always be with the Lord and we should encourage one another in love with these words (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). This is great information that Paul imparts with great eschatological implications. *Application* Christ Jesus is coming again. Make preparations, be alert and be ready (Matthew 24:42-44; 25:13)! Hallelujah! Maranatha (Come quickly)!


Verses to Memorize- 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12, 16-18

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

1 Thessalonians Bible Study Notes- Chapter 3

1 Thessalonians 3


-Paul’s thanksgiving for the Thessalonians firm faith and love for his team is evident throughout this chapter of Scripture. He begins with the fact that afflictions were an inevitable destiny, but that even though his pain and wondering if they had persevered in their trust of the Lord through temptation of the tempter their labor was not in vain because of the good news Timothy brought about their faith and love (1 Thessalonians 3:1-6). Their obedience to faith in Christ comforted Paul in his distress and affliction and caused him to have great thanksgiving and joy for their sake (1 Thessalonians 3:7-9). It was the apostle’s prayer night and day that he would be directed back to them and be able to see them again face to face to further increase their faith where they might have been lacking (1 Thessalonians 3:10-11). It was his desire that they increase and abound in love for one another (the believing community) and for all (the whole community) so that their hearts would be established blameless in holiness before God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ at His coming (parousia) with all His saints (1 Thessalonians 3:12-13). *Application* It is satisfying any time we feel confidence in the people we have labored over in the Lord. We see the real key here is prayer before and after good training and instruction has been given. Paul, I believe, is not only praying for his return to them in presence, but also for their well being in faith and love. Lift up those you care so deeply about to the Lord that He will give you further ministry with them in their presence. Don’t let momentary afflictions drag you down and discourage you. Keep your eyes focused on the return of Christ with all His saints and rejoice!


Verse to Memorize- 1 Thessalonians 3:12

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

1 Thessaonians Bible Study Notes- Chapter 2

1 Thessalonians 2


-Chapter two is a tender part of the letter that instilled hope and encouragement from the apostle to this beloved group of believers. Paul and his team’s coming to them was not in vain as they declared the gospel of Jesus Christ among them without any error, impurity, deception, flattery, greed, or man pleasing (1 Thessalonians 2:1-5). In other words, these apostles feared God too much to let these new converts to Christ down. God was their witness (1 Thessalonians 2:5b), and they not seek glory from the people even though they may have had a Divine right as apostles to make demands on them for gain (1 Thessalonians 2:6). But, they were gentle among the Thessalonians like a nursing mother who tenderly takes care of her children as infants. They were not only ready to share the gospel with them, but also their very lives because they were sooo dear to them. They worked hard night and day so as to not be a burden on any while they proclaimed their message. Their conduct was holy, righteous, and blameless towards the believers. Like a father, they exhorted and encouraged the flock there in Thessalonica to walk in a manner worthy of God who calls into His own Kingdom and glory (1 Thessalonians 2:7-12). These people were their hope, joy, glory, and crown for boasting before the Lord Jesus Christ at His coming (1 Thessalonians 2:19-20) *Application* Notice the camaraderie that flows from this relationship that the missionaries shared with their converts. It was passionate and kind, fruitful and considerate, challenging and expecting. Whatever relationships we have in Kingdom work need to necessarily include these Godly qualities as we toil in the work of the Lord. Be a blessing to those you care for.

-Paul was thanking God and them for receiving the message of Christ Jesus into their lives by the Word of truth (1 Thessalonians 2:13). This group of believers shared in some of the suffering and persecution of the Judean Christians. Paul relates how the spirit of those who killed Jesus, the prophets, and drove the apostles out of the region was the same as the Thessalonians’ countrymen. This hindrance of the speaking of the gospel fills up the measure of these people’s sins and will incur the wrath of Almighty God very quickly (1 Thessalonians 2:14-16). *Application* While God is patient and wants all to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9-10), there will come a point and time when the last opportunity is given for the sinner to turn to Him and after that is the fury. We must remember to endure under persecution and torment as righteous believers. We must overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony (1 Peter 1:17-19, Revelation 7:14; 12:11). Justice will prevail in the end, count on it!


Verse to Memorize- 1 Thessalonians 2:8

Monday, February 25, 2013

1 Thessalonians Bible Study Notes- Chapter 1

1 Thessalonians 1




- Grief at certain times in our lives can overwhelm us. The loss of a loved one can fill our life with gloom and depression, until we remember that death is not the end for those who are in Christ. Jesus Christ is the victor over death, and there is hope of the resurrection through Him. Many in Thessalonica, as well as other 1st century Christians, were coming face to face with their mortality at the hands of persecutors of the church. They had many questions about eternity, as we do today, and they developed some false assumptions about the imminence of Christ’s return. Paul, writing from Corinth in the early 50s A.D. shortly after establishing the church in Thessalonica writes to strengthen the early believers’ faith and to encourage them to excellence in Godly living by teaching them important theological truths even in times of persecution and trial. The author instills hope for this dearly loved congregation and affirms them in a very affectionate way especially in the beginning of the letter for the purpose of maturing them in Christ Jesus.


Major Themes:


Persecution- Faith in Christ will always bring certain amounts of earthly persecution. There is no way around it, so expect various trials and tribulations as the enemy seeks to destroy your faith, but the Lord tests your perseverance. We must stand firm in our faith and allow the Holy Spirit to do His molding work in us during rough times.


Hope- One day all believers will be united together with Christ, both those who are alive at His coming and the deceased. To those Christians that die before Christ’s return, there is still the certain hope of the resurrection of the body. If we believe in Christ, we will live with Him forever. We can have confidence that we will be with loved ones who have trusted in the Savior!


Being Prepared- Since no one knows the exact time of Christ’s return to earth, we must remain vigilant and watchful by living moral and holy lives through the power of His Holy Spirit. This means we cannot grow complacent or weary, neglecting our Christian responsibilities. Rather we should always work and live to please our Lord looking expectantly for His return. Don’t be caught unprepared!!




Paul again begins with a note of affirmation and commendation for the faithful saints at Thessalonica. He thanks God for their strong belief and good reputation (1:1-10). In chapter 2 he reviews their relationship—how he and his companions brought the gospel to the Thessalonians (2:1-12). He went into how the Thessalonians accepted the message with eagerness and steadfastness as from God and not mere mean (2:13-16). Then he lamented the fact that he wanted to be with them except for the fact that Satan had hindered that reuniting up until that point (2:17-20). Because of Paul’s great concern for the church there in Thessalonica, he sent Timothy up to them in order to encourage them in their faith (3:1-13).

Paul then gets to the core of his message dealing with exhortation and comfort. He challenges them to please God in their daily living by avoiding sexual immorality (4:1-8), loving each other (4:9-10), and living as good citizens in a fallen world (4:11-12). Paul comforts the believers in Thessalonica by reminding them of the hope of the resurrection (4:13-18). He gives the biblical theme of “be alert” and “ready” for the return of Christ Jesus because we do not know the exact time of His revelation of glory. When Christ does return, Paul promises those Christians who are alive and those who have passed away from earth by death will be raised to new life (5:1-11).

Paul then gives the faithful a handful of reminders on how to prepare themselves for the second coming of Jesus: Admonish the unruly (5:14), encourage the fainthearted (5:14), help the weak (5:14), be patient with everyone (5:14), be kind to everyone (5:15), rejoice always (5:16), pray without stopping (5:17), give thanks (5:18), examine everything that is taught (5:20-21), and abstain from evil (5:22). Paul concludes his short letter with two benedictions and a request for prayer.

As you read this letter and apply its significance to your own life, put into practice his practical advice in our age for Christian living. When burdened by grief and overwhelmed by sorrow, take hope in the reality of Christ’s return, the resurrection, and eternal life!!!!


*Notes from this overview were aided by:


New American Standard Bible: Life Application Study Bible, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Mich.: 1995, pgs. 2096-2097.


-Paul begins chapter 1 with a sense of gratitude and loving devotion for this afflicted and persecuted bunch of believers in Thessalonica. He, Silvanus, and Timothy are part of the writing team who send grace and peace in usual fashion to the recipients of the epistle. They thank God for these believing brothers and pray for them constantly making mention of them in their prayers because of their fruitful Kingdom labor and faith of love with a steadfast hope in the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Thessalonians 1:1-3). They were chosen by God and had the power of His Holy Spirit working in them as New Covenant Gentile believers full of conviction (1 Thessalonians 1:4-5). They knew what kind of men Paul and his team were for their spiritual development and wellbeing, and they became imitators of the apostles and of the Lord. They received the Word in much affliction with the joy of the Holy Spirit (Acts 17:1-13, 1 Thessalonians 1:5b-6). These believers through trial and tribulation had become an example in faith to all the believers in these regions of Macedonia and Achaia (1 Thessalonians 1:7-8). They had turned to the Living God from their idols of this world and served Him in complete truth. They were waiting for the return of His resurrected Son from Heaven as the One who delivers and saves from the wrath of God to come (1 Thessalonians 1:8-10). *Application* Reputation is important as we see here in this beginning chapter. Paul is able to commend those in Thessalonica because of their faithful report to those of faith even in tough times. Marks of them that we should demonstrate include steadfastness, joy in the Holy Spirit, endurance, hope, hard work, faith, power by the Holy Spirit, true, and expectant. God is able to do all things. Don’t let your circumstances ever rob your joy in Christ Jesus who makes all things new (Isaiah 48:6, Revelation 21:5). Cultivate these qualities that the Thessalonians had in your own life today!

Verse to Memorize- 1 Thessalonians 1:9

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Colossians Bible Study Notes- Chapter 4

Colossians 4


-The personal instructions continue as the letter comes to its close in this chapter. We have a Master in Heaven; therefore, we are to treat those under us justly and fairly just like the Lord does (Colossians 4:1). The next teaching pertains to constant prayer. We are to be watchful in it with expectation. We are to be thankful in it. We are to pray for open doors for proclaiming the Word of God to declare the mystery of Christ and His salvation in clarity (Colossians 4:2-4). Paul gives information on walking in wisdom toward outsiders and making the most of our time. He says to always let your speech be gracious, seasoned with salt (this metaphor suggests speaking in an interesting, stimulating, and wise way, Matthew 5:13), so that you may know how to answer in the right manner (Colossians 4:5-6). *Application* To everyone we must give an answer to the hope that is within us as believers in Christ Jesus (2 Timothy 4:2). Pray for opportunities, pray that God will help you recognize those opportunities, and pray for courage to address the people that the Lord puts in your path to bring them closer to Him and His Kingdom. Advancing His Kingdom carries individual, as well as corporate, responsibility.

-The closing of this letter has some intriguing ins and outs of their ministry and connectedness in Christ. Paul wants them to fulfill their respective ministries and stand mature, fully assured in all the will of God (Colossians 4:7-17). He extends his grace and asks for prayer as he is in prison with his own hand (Colossians 4:18). *Application* It is important for us to recognize the intricate connections within the body of Christ that He has designed and ordained (1 Corinthians 12:18). As each plays his or her part the Kingdom advances unto His glory!


Verse to Memorize- Colossians 4:5

Colossians Bible Study Notes- Chapter 3

Colossians 3


-Paul goes from the corporate in chapters 1 & 2 to the individual Christian life in the last two chapters 3 & 4. He begins with our resurrected life IN Christ, which allows us to focus on the things above in glory rather than be consumed with the trials, tribulations, and temptations of this natural world. His implication is that we are raised with Christ because we have died to the old man and now our new creation by the Holy Spirit is hidden with Christ in God (Colossians 3:1-4). Paul lists things in our mortal beings that need to be “put off (Colossians 3:9),” “put away (Colossians 3:7),” or “put to death (Colossians 3:5).” These things include sexual immorality, impurity, passion (from pathos, which denotes extreme desires, usually associated with sexuality), evil desire, and covetousness, which is all idolatry (Colossians 3:5). Also mentioned are the corruptions of anger, wrath, malice (evil intent), slander, obscene talk, and lying (Colossians 3:8-9). Paul through the Holy Spirit says it is on account of these things that the wrath of God is coming and that everyone walked in this darkness of life before Christ came and saved (Colossians 3:6-7).

-That was the bad news, but the good (no make that great!) news is that Christ has come and we can “put on (Colossians 3:10, 12, 14)” His righteousness in His image. In this new life there is equality as Christ is all and in all (Colossians 3:11). The list of things to “put on” include compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, patience, bearing with one another, forgiveness, thanksgiving (Colossians 3:12-13). Above all of these virtues, or fruits of the Holy Spirit, is the perfect bond of unity, LOVE (1 Corinthians 13, Colossians 3:14). Peace is also included, which is to rule in our hearts along with the Word of Christ, which can dwell in us richly through teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom (Colossians 3:15-16). The base analysis is that we can be thankful in all forms of praise as we do everything in word or deed in the Name of the Lord Jesus (Colossians 3:16-17). *Application* This is personal and very introspective when we consider how thus we should live as new creations in Christ. If these characteristics are present and growing, we are in good shape (2 Peter 1:2-8; 3:18). If not, we had better examine ourselves to see if we are in the actual faith (2 Corinthians 13:5).

-Some individual exhortations in regards to family matters and working relationships characterize Colossians 3:18-25. Submission and obedience are big components in this section all in the fear of the Lord (Colossians 3:22). The key verse here is “whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men (Colossians 3:23).” It is the Lord that gives our inheritance as a reward as new creations and make sure that the wrongdoer who is apart from God will be paid back for what they have done since there is no partiality with God (Colossians 3:24-25). *Application* There is no doubt individual responsibility and accountability with regards to our relationship with the Lord is a critical application to us here. No one can make you right with God other than you. It is your own personal faith that will make the difference in where you spend eternity. Personally accept Christ as your Savior and become a new creation through His Holy Spirit if you never have before. You will benefit from this decision in more ways than you can ever imagine (Ephesians 3:20-21). We are blessed in Christ!


Verses to Memorize- Colossians 3:3-4, 23

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Colossians Bible Study Notes- Chapter 2

Colossians 2


-Paul reaches out to his readers in Colossae so that they may be encouraged being unified together in love in order to reach all the riches of completed assurance of understanding and knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Jesus Christ, the Head of the church (Colossians 2:2). It appears from the text that there are some who are attempting to bring in false teaching to take these new converts away from true and unadulterated faith in the Lord (Colossians 2:1, 3-5). Paul is wanting to make sure they walk in the truth of Christ and not be wrapped up in human traditions, worldly philosophy, empty deceit, food and drink, festivals, new moon, or Sabbath traditions according to the elemental spirits of the world (Colossians 2:8-9, 16-17). He speaks out against any form of extreme asceticism (rigorous self-denial and active self-restraint, the doctrine that through renunciation of worldly pleasures it is possible to achieve a high spiritual or intellectual state) and the worship of angels, false visions, and a puffed up mind that is sensuous (appealing to or gratifying the senses) (Colossians 2:18). What Paul is doing is making a case for the simplicity of life in Christ as the Head of His body the church who is in them and instructing them for righteousness and sanctification apart from “elemental spirits of the world (Colossians 2:8, 11-15, 20).” In Christ all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form and believers have been filled with Him who is the Head of all rule and authority (Colossians 2:9-10). He sets us free from the legalism of human precepts, teachings, traditions, and regulations “such as do not handle, do not taste, do not touch (Colossians 2:20-22).” These things may have “the appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion” through self-sacrifice, “but they are of NO VALUE in stopping the indulgence of the flesh (Colossians 2:23).” *Application* The overriding admonition of Scripture is to simply follow Christ Jesus and live as He did by the Spirit of the Living God. This frees us from the bondage of human traditions and regulations that restrict us in so many ways. It is not rules that make us righteous, but accepting Christ’s righteousness, which was worked out for us and completed on the cross of Calvary through His shed blood, death, and eventual resurrection three days later. Where we were dead in our trespasses and sin, Christ prevailed by nailing our dysfunction to the cross and forgave us through His love and grace activated by our faith. He canceled the debt that stood against us with its legal demands and gave us complete victory being made alive by God (Colossians 2:13-15). This is certainly something worth giving Him thanks and sharing with everyone you know. Don’t get sidetracked from the main thing, which is trusting in Christ and living in His power. This is an inward focus rather than an external qualification.


Verse to Memorize- Colossians 2:13)

Friday, February 22, 2013

Colossians Bible Study Notes- Chapter 1

Colossians 1

-Remove the head coach, and the team flounders; break the fuel line, and the car won’t run; unplug the TV and it has no power to operate. Whether for leadership, power, or life, connections are all important!

-Colossians is a book themed around “connections.” Paul, writing probably from Rome during his imprisonment (4:18) in approximately the early 60s, combats the false teachings, which had somehow infiltrated the Colossian church. The primary problem was “syncretism,” which is combining ideas from other philosophies and religions (such as paganism, strains of Judaism, and Greek thought) with the Christian truth of the gospel. The resulting heresy later became known as “Gnosticism,” which emphasized special knowledge and denying Christ as God and Savior. To combat this grievous and devious error, Paul stressed Christ’s Deity—His connection with the Father—and His sacrificial death on the cross for sin. Only by “connecting” with Christ through faith can anyone have eternal life, and only through a continuing connection with Him can anyone have power for living. Christ is God incarnate and the only way to forgiveness and peace with God the Father. Paul then goes on to emphasize believers’ “connections” with each other as Christ’s body on earth. This letter then becomes an important book to study for spiritual formation in the Christian life with many important theological truths to consider.


Major Themes:

Christ is God- Jesus Christ is God in the flesh, Lord of all creation, and Lord of the new creation. He is the expressed reflection of the invisible God. He is eternal, preexistent, omnipotent, and equal with the Father. He is supreme and complete. This means we need to understand Christ as being supreme in our lives, recognizing Him as God’s means for our salvation


Christ is the Head of the Church- Because Christ is God, He is the Head of the church, His true believers. Christ is the founder, the leader, and the highest authority on earth. He requires first place in all our thoughts and activities. We must welcome His leadership in our lives in all we do and think. No person, group, or institutional church can regard any loyalty as more critical than that of loyalty to Christ.


Union with Christ- Because our sin has been forgiven and we have been reconciled to God, we have a union with Christ that can never be broken. In our faith connection with Him, we identify with His death, burial, and resurrection. We should live in constant contact and communication with God (1 Thess. 5:17). When we do, we will all be unified with Christ and with one another.


Man-Made Religion- False teachers were promoting a heresy that stressed man-made rules (legalism) based on their own fleshly knowledge (Gnosticism). They also sought spiritual growth by discipline of the body (asceticism) and visions (mysticism) that were not of God. This search created a deception and self-centered pride through their own efforts in futility. We must not cling to our own ideas and try to blend them into Christianity. Nor should we let our hunger for a more fulfilling Christian experience cause us to trust in a teacher, a group, or a system of thought more than in Christ Himself. Christ is our hope and our true source of wisdom.


Paul’s introduction to the Colossians gives his signature-common greeting with grace and peace. He includes a note of thanksgiving, and a prayer for spiritual wisdom and strength for those brothers and sisters in Christ (1:1-12). He then moves into a doctrinal discussion of the person and work of Christ (1:13-23), stating that Christ is “the image of the invisible God” (1:15), the Creator (1:16), the “head of the body, the church” (1:18), and “the firstborn from the dead” (1:18). His death on the cross makes it possible for us to stand in the presence of God (1:22).

Paul then explains how the world’s teachings are totally empty when compared with God’s plan, and he challenges the Colossians to reject shallow answers and to live in union solely with Christ (1:24-2:23).

With this theological backdrop established, Paul now turns to more practical considerations—what the divinity, death, and resurrection of Jesus should mean to all believers (3:1-4:6). Because our eternal destiny is sure, heaven should fill our thoughts (3:1-4), sexual impurity and other worldly lusts should not be named among us (3:5-8), and truth, love and peace should mark our life (3:9-15). Our love for Christ should also translate into love for others—friends, fellow believers, spouses, children, parents, slaves, and masters (3:16-4:1). We should constantly communicate with God through prayer (4:2-4), and we should take every opportunity to tell others the Good News (4:5-6). In Christ we have everything we need for salvation and for living the Christian life.

Paul may have never visited Colosse. The church was probably planted by Epaphras (1:7) and was the least important city that Paul addressed in any of his biblical letters. This may account for why he concludes his letter with personal comments about their common Christian associations, providing a living lesson of the “connectedness” of the body of Christ (4:7-18).

Read this book with first century Christian communities in mind, but also apply it to your own life as it offers many timeless truths to soak in. You will indeed gain a fresh appreciation for Christ as the fullness of God and the only source for living the victorious Christian life. Know that your leader, head, and power source is Jesus Christ and make sure of your “connection” with Him!


Key Verses:

Colossians 2:9-10   “For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority.”

*Notes from this overview were aided by:


Thomas D. Lea and David Alan Black, The New Testament: Its Background and Message, 2nd edition, Broadman and Holman Publishers, Nashville, TN: 2003, pgs. 449-457.


New American Standard Bible: Life Application Study Bible, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Mich.: 1995, pgs. 2096-2097.


-Paul’s primary concern in the first chapter is to let them know of his love for them and to share the preeminence of Christ Jesus in full detail. He is the firstborn of all creation, before all things, the beginning, the Creator of all visible and invisible, holding all things together as head of the church (Colossians 1:15-18). In Him all the fullness of God dwells and He is reconciling all things to Himself for His glory making peace by the blood of His cross (Colossians 1:19-22). He is the One who can present us holy and blameless and above reproach before the Father if we continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel (Colossians 1:22b-23). Paul had shared this message faithfully as a good steward with much suffering in toil and struggle according to the energy that powerfully worked through him by the Spirit. He had shared the mystery hidden from ages past that is now revealed. That mystery is Christ IN us, the hope of glory unto a mature man with all wisdom (Colossians 1:24-29). *Application* The supremacy of Christ Jesus as Lord and Savior must be at the heart of everything we do. It is truly all about Him. He is the way, the truth, and the life and no man comes to the Father except by Him (John 14:6). Exalt the Lord in your life in every way and give Him glory because of who He is and what He has done to give us an opportunity to live IN Him now and for all eternity. Praise be unto Jesus Christ our King! He is the Name above all names!


Verse to Memorize- Colossians 1:27

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Philippians Bible Study Notes- Chapter 4

Philippians 4


-Paul’s final exhortation, encouragement, and prayer in chapter four begins with a plea to stand firm. A personal note follows to Euodia and Syntyche to agree in the Lord along with other fellow workers whose names are in the book of life (Psalm 69:28, Philippians 4:1-3, Revelation 3:5; 13:8; 17:8; 20:12, 15; 21:27). Paul repeats his encouragement for rejoicing always. He tells them to let their forbearing spirit be epieikas (gentle, kind, reasonable, gracious, yielding, tolerant) because the Lord is near (Philippians 4:4-5). He then gives some of the best advice in all of Scripture. He tells his readers to be anxious (unduly concerned, worried) for nothing, but in everything by prayer (communication with God) and supplication (an entreaty unto God, a crying out) with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which goes far beyond our comprehension and understanding, will guard (protect, keep) your hearts and your minds IN Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6-7). *Application* Why is it so hard for us to have peace and joy and kindness and gentleness in this world without all the anxiety and fear and worry and fretting? It has everything to do with our absence of faith in these times, which can come when we are in the presence of God through prayer and supplication and giving of thanks despite any grievous perception of hardships or difficulties. Our outlook matters and we must remember that the Lord is always near, right at the door knocking (Revelation 3:20), and He wants to come IN and give us rest from our struggles. My friend, seek the peace of God and all His wonderful and astounding benefits. This is the key to unlocking the gift of contentment, which Paul is about to expound upon.

-Paul now gives us a list of things to meditate on and think about as we go through life. Dwell your heart and mind on whatever is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable (appealing), excellence, and praiseworthy. Practice these things Paul says and follow his example as he follows Christ Jesus (1 Corinthians 11:1, Philippians 3:17; 4:8-9, Hebrews 6:12). *Application* The battle for the soul begins and ends in the mind. As a man thinks in his heart so is he (Proverbs 23:7). Put your mind in the right place in surrender to the Lord and He will grant you all you need for righteousness and peace (2 Peter 1:3, 1 John 2:27).

-Paul now explains the contented life through all of its ups and downs. Paul had been brought low and he had abounded; he had plenty and hunger, abundance and need (Philippians 4:11-12). In whatever circumstance or situation he was in he had learned to be content without want. This is why he can now say that he can do all things through Christ who strengthens him (Philippians 4:13). He makes mention of their kindness and generosity, which will be applied to their credit in the Kingdom of God where every need is supplied according to the riches in glory in Christ Jesus. He is to be given glory forever and ever. Paul says good bye to his beloved with grace and greeting from those with him including members of Caesar’s household (this to me is a proof that Paul wrote from Rome). He wanted their spirits to be content and at perfect rest even though he was in prison. This was the all consuming love Paul had for his people (Philippians 14-23). *Application* Contentment is a hard thing to find in this American culture that we find ourselves a part of. We always seem to want more and more, but things and successes and selfish abundance only compound the problems we have within ourselves. Be happy with what you do have and the blessings that have been bestowed to you rather than worrying or stressing about what you don’t have. Godliness with content is a means of great gain (1 Timothy 6:6-11). Be content even in the tough times and have grace to endure in whatever suffering the Lord allows you to go through. This is good stuff to live by from the Word of God!


Verse to Memorize- Philippians 4:6-7, 11, 13, 19

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Philippians Bible Study Notes- Chapter 3

Philippians 3


-The Lordship and Supremacy of Christ Jesus obtained by faith in Him is again magnified in this eloquent chapter of Scripture. Paul begins by telling his readers to rejoice as a safety measure (Philippians 3:1). He then offers warning to what he calls “the dogs,” which are evildoers who mutilate their flesh (Philippians 3:2). Paul uses irony here since it is usually to Pharisaical Jews who call Gentiles “dogs” because of their uncleanness in life apart from the Law. The apostle offers that believers in Christ are the real circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in their Savior putting no confidence in the flesh (Philippians 3:3). Paul claims that if anyone could have confidence in the flesh it would be him. He lists his former accomplishments in Judaism under the Law and ancestrally as a persecutor of the church and blameless in their religious system. But, whatever he had gained, he counted it as loss for the sake of accepting and receiving the righteousness of Christ as his Lord. The worth of Christ Jesus surpassed everything in Judaism and allowed him to count all else as junk (rubbish, trash) in comparison. *Application* IN Christ we have a righteousness that does not come from the Law, but through faith in Him. This allows us to know Him and the power of his resurrection as well as the fellowship of His sufferings in this world. We become like Him in His death so that we can attain the resurrection from the dead (Philippians 3:4-11). In what ways have you died to yourself so that you may live in Christ’s resurrected power? This is not only a reality for the future in Heaven, but can be our experience now on this earth as He sanctifies us (Romans 5:10).

-Paul knew he had not already obtained this perfected resurrection life yet, but he was pressing on to make it his own because Christ had made him His own (Philippians 3:12). He was forgetting his past and the failures of merit based works and straining forward to what lay ahead. He was striving for the upward call of God IN Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:13-14). He exhorted all to hold true to what had been attained through the work of Jesus on the cross for redemptive Spirit filled life as mature believers (Philippians 3:15-16). *Application* Perfection in the Christian walk is never completely achieved on this earth as we see expressed in the words of the apostle. No matter how far we think we’ve come in the Spirit, there is always the next challenge of spiritual growth and maturity. We must be ever growing and adding to our faith so that we do not become nearsighted and blind (2 Peter 1:3-11; 3:18). Press on believer! Grow IN Christ!

-To have growth we need the Holy Spirit indwelling us leading us into all truth and grace (John 16:13, 2 Peter 3:18). We also need more mature believers that we can look to and imitate (Philippians 3:17). We shouldn’t idolize these mentors, coaches, and counselors, but they are there for our spiritual benefit and can teach us to be more Christlike as we develop. If we don’t grow, Paul is warning the Philippians and us as well, we run the danger of nullifying our witness and testimony by turning to carnal things. This may even be an indication that we are NOT IN Christ because the writer clearly states that these will end in destruction whose god is their belly and glory in their shame with minds set on earthly things (Philippians 3:19). This is why we must examine ourselves constantly to make sure that we are in the true faith and not deceiving ourselves (Proverbs 14:12; 16:25, 1 Corinthians 3:18, 2 Corinthians 13:5, 1 Thessalonians 5:21). “Our citizenship is in Heaven and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like His glorious body (1 Corinthians 15), by the power that enables Him even to subject all things to Himself (Philippians 3:20-21).” *Application* Get on your knees if you can right now and praise the Lord Jesus Christ for who He is. Praise His Name!


Verses to Memorize- Philippians 3:10-12

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Philippians Bible Study Notes- Chapter 2

Philippians 2


-“If there is any encouragement in Christ, and comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or (vain) conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also the interests of others (Philippians 2:1-4).” *Application* Unity under the authority of Jesus Christ is the theme here. It goes against the tolerant age that we live in where everyone is expected to be ok with each person going their own way and doing their own thing. This separates and divides. There is only one truth, one way, and one life. Jesus is that way, truth, and life. No one comes to the Father except through Him (John 14:6). We need to conform to His image in all these listed areas together with one voice of truth and conviction. Only then will our joy be complete. The other way will lead to confusion and dysfunction with hatred eventually and selfish motivations. In other words, this passage is a strong case against the belief in universalism, which is sweeping our nation. Conform to Christ and live.

-The Christ we are conforming to has an attitude that the writer of Philippians explains and extols. This is the great Kenosis (Empty, Giving it up, to humbly void) chapter explaining how Christ, who was God, emptied Himself by becoming flesh and taking on limitations all for the sake of love and our eternal redemption by His shed blood. Jesus did not consider equality with God a thing to be grasped (held on to); therefore, He let go of His majesty for a season and came to this cursed earth by taking the form of a servant (doulos, slave), being born in the likeness of men in human form. He humbled Himself by becoming obedient even to the point of death even on a cursed cross all for the salvation from our sins (Philippians 2:5-8). Because of His work, God has highly exalted Him and given Him the Name which is above every name and will cause every knee to bow to Him on earth and in Heaven and even under the earth (Hades). Every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of the Father (Philippians 2:9-11). *Application* This explains much theologically when we try to comprehend the Trinity and understand the role of the Messiah as fully man and fully God. He had to give up many of His rights and privileges as God to come and be among us for our example and salvation. Some examples of His limitations during His incarnation include His limitations in presence (He could only be at one place at a time verses the omnipresence of God the Father and Spirit), His tiredness and weariness, His hunger, His ability to experience physical death, and even some limitations in His knowledge (Matthew 24:36, Mark 13:32). Jesus gave up Heaven and its glory to come save us. What a concept for us to abide by!

-Because of this we should work out our great salvation with fear and trembling because it is God who is at work in us to work and to will His good pleasure (Philippians 2:12-13). God seeks us out and does amazing things to reconstruct us in His image even when we had fallen from His grace. He restores and replenishes our righteousness. *Application* God seeks us out and gives us a new heart and Spirit within us (Ezekiel 36:26). He gives us all we need for eternal life beginning right now on earth and godliness in His Spirit. Even though we don’t seek after God naturally, He comes to us and draws us to Himself by giving us a heart that will respond to His love, mercy, grace, and affection. God’s restoration is merited by that one condition of faith, but it is ultimately God who gives us the means to meet that condition. In other words, our approaching Him with our own resources and desires would be ultimately futile and in vain. We approach Jesus with a heart that He has given us, which measures up to His fullness and completion. Rejoice in the God who gives all good things for our benefit (James 1:17).

-With this fact in mind, we should do all things without grumbling or complaining (disputing) that we may be blameless and innocent without blemish as children of God in the midst of a crooked and perverse (twisted) generation among whom we shine as lights in the world (Philippians 2:14-15). We are to hold fast in this faith and unity until the day of Christ when He glorifies us and makes all things new (Revelation 21:5). Even if poured out as a drink offering, as Paul thought he might be and eventually was, we can be glad and rejoice together as one body in Jesus Christ (Philippians 2:17-18). *Application* Make sure your joy in Christ Jesus is evident to all even in the midst of trial and tribulation. We overcome and conquer by the word of our testimony (Revelation 12:11).

-Paul gives glowing praise for Timothy and Epaphroditus in the last section of this chapter as having the qualities of genuine concern for the welfare of the saints, steadfast service in humility, and taking risks for the work of Christ without selfish ambition (Philippians 2:19-30). *Application* Good men are rare and hard to find. These two set an example for us in our service for the Lord and those in authority over us. Submit and give all you’ve got for the work of the Kingdom in sincerity and truth with all perseverance!

Verses to Memorize- Philippians 2:1-3, 5-11, 14

Monday, February 18, 2013

Philippians Bible Study Notes- Chapter 1

Philippians 1


- Background: Philippi was seized as valuable mining territory by Philip II of Macedon a little after 400 B.C. By 200 B.C. it had passed under Roman control. In 42 B.C. Philippi was the site of a battle between the forces of Octavian (later Augustus Caesar) and Antony, who defeated the armies of Brutus and Cassius. After Octavian defeated the forces of Antony at Actium, he settled some of his defeated opponents in Philippi and made the city into a Roman colony. Descendents of these individuals were recipients of Paul’s missionary journeys. It was Paul’s second missionary journey when he first visited the city. This is where the first known European convert accepted Christ, Lydia (Acts 16:12-15). Paul also freed a slave girl from demonic possession, which caused quite a stir in the city (Acts 16:21). Paul and Silas spend some time in prison there before God sent an earthquake to release them and miraculously save the jailor and his household (Acts 16:21-34). It was at Philippi, one of several times this happened, that Paul asserted his rights as a Roman citizen to make things more conducive to spreading the gospel (Acts 16:38-40).


Authorship: This is a letter of Paul in its classic form demonstrating his personality and character.


Date: It is reasonably assumed Paul wrote this letter near the end of his two year house imprisonment in Rome. A date near the mid 60s then is the likely time of this writing. However, there are some who have suggested that he wrote this letter from his incarceration in Caesarea Maritima.


Purpose of the Letter: Paul wanted to ease the anxieties and concerns the church felt for him in his imprisonment. He assures the believers that the Lord was at work in the midst of his persecution (Phil. 1:12-14). Paul urges unity to stem a tide of contentiousness in Philippi with his passionate plea in Philippians 2:1-11. He encouraged them to practice a true faith in humility in their relationships with one another in following the example of Christ. This passage at the beginning of chapter 2 gives us the kenosis of Christ, in other words the “emptying” of His divine rights, to become our payment for sin. It is an important theological passage into the nature of the Son of God. Paul challenges the Judaizers (legalists) who diluted or added to the requirements for salvation (Phil. 3:1-6). He also rebukes with severe language a group of perfectionists in the city (Phil. 3:12-16). Paul then issued strong warnings to another group reflecting tendencies toward sensuality and materialistic greed for the purpose of awaking the church to deal with such issues (Phil. 3:18-19). Paul ends the letter with another appeal for unity, prayer, and proper thinking (Phil. 4:1-9). He is gracious with gratitude for the gifts he has received and knows that the Lord will bless their sincere generosity (Phil. 4:10-20).


Questions for Thought:

-In what ways can we seek unity with the same mind and purpose as Christ in the church today?

-What does Paul’s strong affirmation of contentment in this book mean for us in the midst of life’s severe trials and tribulations?


*Notes from this overview were aided by:

Thomas D. Lea and David Alan Black, The New Testament: Its Background and Message, 2nd edition, Broadman and Holman Publishers, Nashville, TN: 2003, pgs. 363-376.


-Paul is writing along with Timothy on this message to the saints in Philippi and in particular the overseers (episkopoi, bishops) and deacons (servants). He grants his trademark grace and peace upon them in the Name of the Father and the Son before thanking God for all his remembrances of them and making mention of his earnest and joyful prayers for them. They had partnered together with him in the gospel from the very beginning, and Paul was sure that He who began a good work in them would undeniably bring it to completion (epiteleo, to finish) at the day of Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:1-6). This “Day of Jesus Christ” becomes a recurring theme as Paul looks forward to the completion of his own life and seeing his faith become sight (Philippians 1:10; 2:16). Paul loves these people with all his heart and acknowledges how that they had become partakers with him in the grace of God (Philippians 1:7-8). Paul prayed for them to abound more and more in this love of Christ with knowledge and all discernment so that they could approve of what was excellent and be pure and blameless for their eventual meeting with Christ in His day filled with the fruit of righteousness that only comes through Jesus Christ to His praise and glory (Philippians 1:9-11). *Application* Paul truly loved this flock and points out how we should love those around us with warmth and affection. We should always keep the end in mind because one day we will meet our Creator face to face and give account for this life. This is the Day of Christ and we’d better be prepared for it by placing our faith in Him who can save. This is the essence of the gospel. Become a partaker in His grace!

-Paul begins to encourage them in their distress over his imprisonment. Paul actually states that his incarceration was for the good because of the lives that were being changed and the boldness that was coming from his stand in Christ by many (Philippians 1:12-14). He promotes the sharing of Christ even in pretense by some who had envy, rivalry, selfish ambition, and desiring his affliction (Philippians 1:15-18). *Application* Think about the heart of Paul for a moment and how he didn’t even care about his own well-being compared the unsurpassing glory of Jesus Christ being known. How much do we want Jesus talked about around us. Are we willing to suffer and be rejected just so His Holy Name can be mentioned. Do your best to get Jesus discussions started. Be bold and unashamed (Romans 1:16).

-For Paul to live was Christ and to die was gain because of his unyielding faith and determination for the gospel. He was asking for prayer and the help of the Holy Spirit for deliverance, but he was torn. His departure would mean being with Christ, but his staying would mean fruitful labor in the Lord and that could absolutely benefit the Philippians account (Philippians 1:19-26). The author then exhorts his readers to live in a manner of life pleasing to the Lord and worthy of the gospel of Christ by standing firm in one Spirit with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel truth not being frightened in anything by their opponents. This would be a clear sign for their destruction, but for them salvation. Suffering is included in this challenge for them just as it was for the apostle (Philippians 1:27-30). *Application* When was the last time you counted up the cost of being a true disciple of Christ? Here we see that life in Christ is never easy, but O so rewarding. There is a peace and rejoicing that defies logic with the Lord and His presence is strong even in the face of conflict and certain natural doom. His Light shines brightest in the darkness. Be encouraged our faith is not in vain and God will rescue His saints, the beloved.


Verse to Memorize- Philippians 1:21

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Ephesians Bible Study Notes- Chapter 6

Ephesians 6


-The last chapter in Ephesians begins with a continuation of instructions and exhortations for the family unit and to children in particular. Paul reiterates the Torah’s first command with a promise in telling children to obey their parents in the Lord. This is the primary command for children in the Word of God. Their obedience to their parents will train them up to fear and respect, in time, their Heavenly Father and come to know Him as the proper authority and direction for their lives. The other side of the coin is also explained. Fathers are to raise their children in the loving discipline and instruction of the Lord, not provoking them to anger (Ephesians 6:1-4, Hebrews 12:5-15). *Application* If we want things to go well for us and have a long life in the land God has given to us we must live by these principles. It is not easy in the world we live in to discipline our children with loving correction that is focused and productive. We live in an age of tolerance and extreme license where obedience and a healthy fear of parents is becoming more and more uncommon. We are now experiencing the repercussions of that philosophy in our land with the violent and uncontrolled actions of our youth. As for you and your family, you should serve the Lord your God (Joshua 24:15). Trust Him that He will bless and reward your submission in these areas.

-Paul also gives imperatives for bondservants (slaves, in our context employer/employee primarily) and masters. The emphasis for slaves is on proper recognition of authority in a person’s given situation with obedience from a sincere heart of service (Ephesians 6:5-7). The emphasis for masters is on having proper respect for those under you without threatening (Ephesians 6:9). The author through the Spirit maintains that “whatever good anyone does, this he will receive back from the Lord (Ephesians 6:8).” *Application* An important biblical concept to remember here that Paul points out is God’s impartiality (Ephesians 6:9b). It is critical for us to remember that God loves each and every one of us the exact same. He loves the lost man in a jungle tribe on the Amazon as much as He loves you. He loves the Japanese or Chinese person who has no knowledge of the Lord and His truth as much as He loves you. He loves the most hardened Islamic terrorist as much as He loves you. He loves the most notorious and ruthless national leader as much as He loves you. He loves the atheistic professor leading young people toward rejecting God as much as He loves you. He loves the homeless man that is in utter and total despair because of life circumstances as much as He loves you. God loves the whole world and gave Himself for us all (John 3:16, 2 Peter 3:9). Internalize that concept and resolve to go change the world with the message of deliverance in Christ Jesus.

-Paul’s final admonition is a perfect climax of his encouragement and challenge to the Ephesians and us as well. We are to be strong in the Lord (not weak!) and in the strength of His might (Ephesians 6:10). We are to be equipped and fitted with the whole armor of God so that we might be able to stand against the schemes and devices of the devil (Ephesians 6:11). Our fight is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, the authorities, the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places, and the cosmic powers that rule this present worldly darkness (Ephesians 6:12). Because of this fact, we are instructed to put on the full armor of God so that we might be able to stand firm in the evil day (Ephesians 6:13). The pieces of the armor are important to consider. The list includes the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shoes of the gospel of peace in readiness, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God (this is our only offensive weapon and how we can storm the gates of hell, Ephesians 6:14-17, for a more detailed and excellent description and explanation of this whole armor of God read Designed to be Like Him: Understanding God’s Plan for Fellowship, Conduct, Conflict, and Maturity, by J. Dwight Pentecost, 1966, chapters 24-30). Paul challenges his readers and us to pray in the Spirit at all times with all prayer and supplication keeping alert with all perseverance for all the saints (Ephesians 6:18). He also implored them to pray for him that he would have the Lord’s words given to him in the opening of his mouth to speak boldly in his proclamation of the gospel of Christ and His mystery to which he was an ambassador in chains (Ephesians 6:19-20). After some brief instructions on further information coming, Paul bids them farewell with peace and love with faith along with all grace from the Lord Jesus Christ (Ephesians 6:21-23).


Verses to Memorize- Ephesians 6:10

Friday, February 15, 2013

Ephesians Bible Study Notes- Chapter 5

Ephesians 5


-Paul continues his crusade on how to properly conduct the Christian walk filled with the Spirit of God and love in this chapter. He offers first that we need to be imitators (followers in nature) of the Lord as beloved children. We are instructed to walk in love and give ourselves up for others just as our Savior had done, which is a pleasing fragrant aroma and sacrifice to God (Ephesians 5:1-2, Romans 12:1-2). All sexual immorality, impurity, covetousness (wanting things from others selfishly), filthiness, foolish talk, crude joking, and idolatry should not even be named among the believers (Ephesians 5:2-5). Instead, there should be thanksgiving “always and for everything to God the Father in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ (Ephesians 5:4, 20).” *Application* This list of do’s and don’ts is important for us to consider. If we are walking in love and thanksgiving with our Lord we will be imitating what He demonstrated to us through His life and Word. God is NOT about these things on the don’t list. Neither should we be about these things.

-Paul then warns about deception and partnering with people that are in the darkness with shifting shadows (Ephesians 5:6-8, James 1:17). We are instructed to walk as children of the Light and expose with discernment the works of these wicked ones who do shameful things in secret. We are to take no part with them, but instead be wise, awake, and alive in all our dealings (Ephesians 5:8-15). We need to make “the best use of our time, because the days of evil (Ephesians 5:16).” We need to process and understand the perfect will of the Lord for purpose and clarity in our walk (Ephesians 5:17). This means that it is foolish then to spend time in debauchery (partying it up, playing around, seeking selfish pleasure) by things such as some under the influence of alcohol. Instead, we are to come under the influence of the Holy Spirit who can fill us and control us for every good work of God (Ephesians 5:18). Paul lists some of the fruits of that Spirit filled life. People that are on track with God will make melody with their hearts by singing (praising) psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs and giving of continual thanks. They will submit to one another in humble service and reverence for Christ (Ephesians 5:19-21). *Application* We will either be controlled by the Lord and the good things of His Spirit in life, or we will follow the wide road to destruction and submit ourselves to the evil ways of the world (Matthew 7:13). There are really only two choices we can make before God, yes or no. Decide, who you will choose, “as for me and my house we will serve the Lord (Joshua 24:15).” Expose the darkness and walk in the victorious Light!

-Now some instructions and encouragement are given for families in the context of husband and wife relating to Christ and His body, the church. The whole idea revolves around this idea of submission to one another, which is a major theme in the chapter (Ephesians 5:2, 21). Husbands should submit to their wives as the head of the home, just like Christ did in a giving up of Himself for the common good and benefit. This includes deep and abiding love that is genuine with sanctification (setting apart, holiness) and cleansing. Loving your wife is the same as loving yourself and the point that we are all in this together as a union is reiterated. The wives are to submit to their husbands, as to the Lord, in everything. They must recognize the authority that God has placed in their lives for protection and security with reverence and respect (Ephesians 5:22-33). *Application* Headship in the home starts with a loving, submissive man in total and selfless love for his wife whom he cherishes with all his heart. This is how Christ loves us and gives of Himself for our well being and eternal hope. We are to be imitators of Him. This love must be reciprocated by the wife, and in the big context the church of the Lord (His bride and body), in faithful obedience and submission out of total respect. Our problems in marriage and in the church of the Lord are at the grass roots selfishness. We get into trouble when we serve our own needs above the other. This is where pride, domineering, and rebellion creep in and destroy all that God wants to do in a marriage and in His church. Now you know, go love your spouse and your church!


Verses to Memorize- Ephesians 5:18, 20-21

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Ephesians Bible Study Notes- Chapter 4

Ephesians 4


-Paul continues his “tour de force” into Spirit controlled living as a new creation by urging his readers in Ephesus to walk in a manner worthy of their calling with all humility, gentleness, patience, forbearance, and unity in the bond of peace and love (Ephesians 4:1-3). Paul exalts the common theme of oneness in the body by claiming that as Christian believers there is only one hope, one Lord, one faith, and one baptism (immersion). In other words we are all in this together although we each posses a variety of giftings and abilities. God has given the church apostles (sent out ones, delegates, envoys, messengers, one holding the most responsible position of service in the Christians communities), prophets (people who proclaim a Divine message), evangelists (sharers of the gospel of Jesus Christ), shepherds (pastors, care takers, nurturers, protectors), and teachers (instructors, honored educators, Ephesians 4:11). All of these ministries are for the building up of the saints for the work of the body of Christ and its ministries for the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God unto mature status in the fullness of Christ Jesus (Ephesians 4:12-13). Once mature, the faithful are not tossed to and fro by the confusion of contrary doctrines by human cunning and craftiness in deceitful scheming (Ephesians 4:14). They speak the truth in love and continue to grow steadfastly in their Lord Jesus, who is the Head (Ephesians 4:15). *Application* God has a definite role for you to play in His Kingdom work. Don’t get sidetracked by temporary pleasures and pastimes of this world. Seek out what He is calling you to and get equipped to fulfill that mission that only you can complete. Serve the Lord in your generation the very best you can with the gifts and talents He’s given you. Don’t make excuses. Be determined and focused!

-Paul further exhorts his readers to not walk in the futility of their minds as the Gentiles do with their darkened understanding and alienation from the things of God because of ignorance due to the hardness of their heart (Ephesians 4:17-18). Hard hearts produce a callousness, which gives in to sensuality (licentiousness, debauchery, insolence) and greedy impurity (Ephesians 4:19). Paul says to “put off” this old nature and “put on” the new life in Christ, which is created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. This is a renewing transformation with no more corruption or disease. It is the truth and leads us into speaking no lies to our neighbors; it keeps us from staying angry and giving any opportunity to the devil. It keeps us honest in our labor with no desire to steal or rob. It keeps our speech pure and unadulterated for the building up of each other in the love of our Savior and His grace (Ephesians 4:22-29). Paul notes that we as believers can grieve the Holy Spirit, who has sealed us for the day of redemption (Ephesians 4:30). We should never do that. Finally he says to let ALL bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor (shouting, crying out), and slander (blasphemy) be put away, along with all malice (badness, ill will, evil intent). Instead, be kind to one another, tenderhearted (compassionate), and forgiving (showing unmerited favor) one another just as God through His Son Jesus Christ forgave us (Ephesians 4:31-32). *Application* What a great world we could have if we all could simply employ these principles each and every day. Today is Valentine’s Day and a great reminder of how we should live with all the joy and love of Jesus Christ. Put Him on!


Verses to Memorize- Ephesians 4:15, 32

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Ephesians Bible Study Notes- Chapter 3

Ephesians 3


-Paul relates to his readers, and us, that he was writing to them as a prisoner for his participation with Christ Jesus (Ephesians 3:1). He goes into the primary reason for his incarceration, which was his proclamation of the true gospel of Christ’s promises to the Gentiles, a mystery recently revealed to bring the Light of God and spiritual understanding through His Holy Spirit (Ephesians 3:2-11). It is God who gives out His boldness and complete access with confidence through our faith in Him (Ephesians 3:12). It is because of this fact that Paul begs his flock NOT to lose heart over what he is suffering for them because the Kingdom is advancing as Christ is made known more and more (Ephesians 3:13). *Application* Paul demonstrates for us a supernatural response to difficult times and circumstances. He is an example for us in the area of determination and endurance for the worthy cause to which we are called in Christ Jesus. His suffering produced benefit for the church, and he accepted his plight with honor, dignity, and even optimism. There were “no reserves, no retreats, and no regrets (see life story of William Borden, 20,000 days and Counting, by Robert D. Smith, pgs. 21-23).” Paul saw the bigger picture and so should we. Remain faithful to what God has asked you to do even in turbulent times and situations. He will see you through!

-For the reason of confidence in Christ and strong endurance, Paul bows his knees BEFORE the Father giving Him praise and glory that is due Him. Paul reiterates that they, and we, can be strengthened with God’s power through His Spirit in the inner man “so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded IN LOVE, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen (Ephesians 3:16-21)!” *Application* This is a fired up pep talk from the master apostle for a weak and weary group. After hearing this charge we should be exhorted to live in the power and strength of the Lord for long, long time, maybe even forever! Notice that it is not in your own strength, but God’s, that these miraculous accomplishments will be made. Rely on the Spirit and His work in your life! He will give you everything you need to accomplish God’s design for your life. Truly!


Verses to Memorize- Ephesians 3:17-20

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Ephesians Bible Study Notes- Chapter 2

Ephesians 2


-Chapter 2 of Ephesians is all about the walk in Christ Jesus. We used to walk according to the course of this world, which follows the “prince of the power of the air (Satan, the adversary, the enemy), the spirit that works in the sons of disobedience (Ephesians 2:2).” We once lived in the passions of our natural flesh (the fallen and depraved man by birth) carrying out its desires both in mind and body. We were under the wrath of God, like everybody else. But God, who is rich in mercy, grace, and great love, even when we were dead in our trespasses (sins), made us alive (regeneration) together with Christ (Ephesians 2:3-5). God has raised us up to walk with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus so that we might be able to show the immeasurable riches of His grace and kindness in the coming ages (Ephesians 2:6-7). So it is all by His amazing grace that we have been saved; it is NOT our own doing (works based). It is a free gift of the Lord to us; therefore, we cannot boast in ourselves, only in Him (Ephesians 2:8-9). We can then walk in newness of life as His sublime workmanship, which God has prepared beforehand at the foundation of the world (Romans 6:4, 2 Corinthians 5:17, Ephesians 1:4; 2:10). *Application* How is your walk today? Are you walking with Christ Jesus or are you still walking in your own power according to the natural course of this world? The invitation is still open as long as you have breath. Join Christ and receive His ultimate gift of a new creation and you will NEVER be the same. Walk on in HIM by faith and trust! He’s done all the work for you. Become alive in Him!

-In the latter half of this chapter Paul talks about how the Spirit has brought us who are in Christ together. He is our peace because we have been brought near to Him in union by the covenant of promise through His blood. We have access to Him in one Spirit as citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the firm foundation of the apostles and prophets with Jesus as the cornerstone. He builds us up together in unity as a holy temple in the Lord into a dwelling place for God by His Holy Spirit (Ephesians 2:13-22). Therefore, the ones who were once separated from Christ and alienated from the commonwealth of Israel as strangers and aliens are now reconnected to His great and awesome Kingdom and love by simple faith in His work (Ephesians 2:11-12, 19). *Application* Because of these facts, we have great confidence in who we are in Christ. You have an inheritance in Christ Jesus and are a part of His Divine family (Ephesians 1:11, 14, 18, Colossians 1:12, Hebrews 9:15). This gives you your ultimate worth and purpose in life. This is exciting news of hope and destiny. Walk together in Him!


Verses to Memorize- Ephesians 2:8-9

Monday, February 11, 2013

Ephesians Bible Study Notes- Chapter 1

Ephesians 1


-Ephesians is a pervasively positive letter of Paul’s in tone explaining what we might call a spiritual biography of all those who are in Christ by faith for salvation. There are important paraenesis (series of moral exhortations) sections for the believer to act upon as instructed for a sanctified life. Paul wrote this letter from prison, more than likely during his Roman imprisonment of the early to mid 60s AD.

-After the typical introduction as Paul claims his authority as an apostle by the will of God and pronounces grace and peace upon the faithful saints in Ephesus, he blesses the Lord and Father of Christ Jesus for every spiritual blessing (Ephesians 1:1-3). He goes into the eternal nature of God’s knowledge in choosing His people from the foundation of the world, that those who believe in Him should be holy and blameless before Him. Paul says it was by His great love that He predestined us for adoption as sons (or daughters if female) through Jesus Christ. This is done according to His Divine will and the purposes He has designed from ages past. “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace (Ephesians 1:4-7).” He has lavished (bountifully, abundantly, plentifully) upon us this grace in all wisdom and insight making known the mystery of His will, which revolves around the work of Christ Jesus, the plan for the fullness of time (pleroma) to unite all things in Him on earth and in Heaven (Ephesians 1:8-10). *Application* This is a composite salvation history of what the Lord has done for His people. Those whom He foreknew, He predestined and called for justification and eventual glorification (Romans 8:29-30). This is all done by His grace, we have not earned it nor do we deserve it in any way. When we consider the great things God has done and the great lengths that He has gone through to purchase our salvation by His very own blood, we should fall down in worship and amazement for His glorious gift of eternal salvation. Give extreme praise to the Lord today! He is great and greatly to be lifted up! Paul had at one time been involved in combating a riot that broke out in Ephesus where the pagans were crying out about how great their god Artemis was (Acts 19:23-41). Now as he writes, he shares who the Great One really is.

-Paul goes on to reveal how those believers in Christ have an inheritance in the Lord according to His Divine purpose. His Holy Spirit seals us with a guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of His glory (Ephesians 1:11-14). *Application* Here is the security and the perseverance of the believer in Christ Jesus. It is by the Spirit that we endure and live in the hope of salvation. He will never leave us or forsake us; He has us by the hand and will never let go (John 10:28, 2 Corinthians 1:22; 5:5, Hebrews 13:5). Thank the Lord today that He is faithful and will never let His true children by the Spirit fall away completely.

-Paul now offers thanksgiving for these saints in Ephesus who have been faithful with much love. He prays for their wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Christ Jesus by enlightened hearts so that they may have hope and greatness of power in the Lord. Christ has been given the power and the glory seated at the right Hand of God the Father in the heavenly places. He is “far above all rule and authority and power and dominion and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come (Ephesians 1:15-21).” He is the Head of the church, “which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all (Ephesians 1:22-23).” *Application* If the church of America today wants power, authority, dominion, and rule it must give back Jesus His rightful place as the Head. Too many organizations, which call themselves churches, are doing things in their own natural wisdom with a worldly mindset and structure. There is much striving and chasing after popularity and money. The church of the Living God has a far different motive and agenda. It is not of this world and is guided by the Supreme Being. God does give oversight to His people through His Spirit, but make no mistake; He should be the Head, not an afterthought. Give the Lord Jesus Christ preeminence!


Verses to Memorize- Ephesians 1:7, 13, 22-23

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Galatians Bible Study Notes- Chapter 6

Galatians 6


-Paul gives some sage advice in this last, but really important, chapter of the book. He begins with a brother who has been caught in a transgression (a false step, a sin). This person should be restore by the spiritual (those that are free from the yoke of slavery by the Law) in a spirit of gentleness. These spiritual people must stay on watch and be vigilant as well because they too can be tempted and carried away by the lures of Satan themselves if not careful and steadfast on Christ (Galatians 6:1). Paul’s admonition is for them to bear each other’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ Jesus, which is all about love (Galatians 6:2, Matthew 22:36-39). Stay humble and contrite; test your own work and bear your own load (Galatians 6:3-5). * Application* Restoration and reconciliation is paramount in the body of Christ and in the greater sense, His Kingdom. Bear with one another. We do not live in a perfect world and sin will be a nagging part of even our new life existence in Christ. There will be people that wrong you, and at times you will unfortunately wrong others, even those you dearly love. We need to be spiritual and we need to allow spiritual people in our lives to correct us when we fail. God loves us and cares enough about us to redeem and discipline. It may be a tough and difficult process, but it will yield the peaceful fruit of righteousness rather than a bitter root (Hebrews 12:5-15). Abide in His Grace!

-Paul gives further counsel in the participation of the teaching aspects of the good word of God. The student is to “share all good things with the one who teaches (Galatians 6:6).” *Application* Participatory teaching is what Paul is advising here. The gospel of Christ is not a lecture series. It is to be shared and feedback is needed to know if comprehension is taking place or maybe if further instruction may be required. The student should always share back to his teacher the good things he or she is learning. This gives encouragement and edification to the instructor and all so that progress can be made. Apply these principles in any discipleship process you engage in.

-Paul uses strong exhortation next with principles about sowing and reaping. God is not mocked; He is true and faithful, all-knowing and never fooled. He will reward those who continue to sow from His Holy Spirit for eternal life. The admonition for us is to not give up and grow weary of doing good. In due season, we will reap a bountiful harvest of righteousness and blessing from the Heavenly Father, who rewards our abiding faith and obedience (Galatians 6:7-9). Therefore, as we have opportunity we need to do good to everyone, and especially our Christian brothers and sisters who are in the household of faith (Galatians 6:10). *Application* Don’t ever quit! Be strong and steadfast, always abounding in the work of the Lord. Your faith work is never in vain. Be patient and finish the tasks and assignments God has called you to (1 Corinthians 15:5, James 5:7-8).

-Paul makes a final appeal against the legalists who want to make a good showing in the flesh with his own hand. Their objective in this return is exposed. They do not want persecution for the cross of Christ (Galatians 6:11-12). Paul reiterates the fallibility of this system in stating that even these circumcised ones cannot themselves keep the Law. Paul’s boast will be in the Lord Jesus Christ and Him crucified. He states that the new creation by the Spirit is all that matters, and those who walk by this rule will have peace and mercy upon them as the true Israel of God (Galatians 6:13-16). He hopes this is the last of this legalism within the Galatian church as he has born the marks on his body for his presentation of the gospel to them in persecution (2 Corinthians 11:23-27, Galatians 6:17). *Application* For us this is a final stanza to not abide by external and manmade systems of religious observance. Walk by the Holy Spirit who indwells you as a believer and experience the freedom of Jesus Christ in your soul!


Verses to Memorize- Galatians 6:7, 9

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Galatians Bible Study Notes- Chapter 5

Galatians 5


-This section can be titled freedom in Christ through the Holy Spirit by faith. The issue for the Galatians, and us in this age, is not going back to a yoke (a burden, a harness) of slavery by feeling the need to follow religious laws and practices. There is no need for that if we have the Holy Spirit’s indwelling presence guiding and leading. Paul states if we sever from Christ by going back to the Law’s justification, which can only be attained with perfect obedience to it (this proves impossible), we have fallen from grace (Galatians 5:4). It is through the Spirit by faith that we eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness (Galatians 5:5). Therefore circumcision, which is a major issue here with the Galatians, nor uncircumcision count for anything, but only faith in Christ’s loving work that produces love in us (Galatians 5:6). Paul demonstrates confidence that they will wake up and renounce this deception that has entered their camp (Galatians 5:7-12). He has hard language for the person, or perhaps persons, that have stirred up this confusion. They will bear the penalty (Galatians 5:10). *Application* It is easy to get caught up in following rules and regulations even in the Christian faith today. We have natural tendency to move in that direction because it seems more practical and observable. We cannot look at the heart as well as the Lord does (1 Samuel 16:7). But remember, outward compliance may not necessarily mean you are a righteous individual. The Word tells us to examine our heart and apply this to righteousness instead (Psalm 26:2, Proverbs 4:23, Romans 6:17; 10:9, 2 Corinthians 13:5, 1 Timothy 1:5).

-Paul then goes on to teach on how we use this freedom in Christ Jesus. It is NOT to be used as an opportunity for the flesh (licentiousness, recklessness, Galatians 5:13). The works of the flesh are listed and should be pondered in depth as things to avoid (Galatians 5:19-21, 26). Instead, we are to live by the Holy Spirit of God walking in step with Him as He leads the way (Galatians 5:16, 18, 24-25). This will give us the manifestation of the fruits of the Holy Spirit, which he neatly lays out for us (Galatians 5:22-23). Following the Spirit, Paul points out, will help not only the vertical relationship with God, but also the horizontal relationships with others here on earth (Galatians 5:13-15, 26). *Application* The Spirit is set against the flesh and the flesh against the Spirit. Only one will have ultimate control and authority in your life at a particular moment or circumstance. The goal of the Christian is to be completely and whole heartedly surrendered to the Lord’s domination of your life. Yield to His authority and you will be walking with the Holy Spirit displaying His fruits as a beautiful reflection of His glory. Resist Him and you will find yourself gratifying the lusts of your flesh (1 John 2:15-16).


Verses to Memorize- Galatians 5:16, 22-23

Friday, February 8, 2013

Galatians Bible Study Notes- Chapter 4

Galatians 4


-Chapter 4 contrasts the true sons of faith in the Lord versus the sons of the slave system based on the Law. He again uses the Old Testament to validate his argument with the Abrahamic line, which did not come through the slave woman Hagar depicted as the Law of Mt. Sinai (Galatians 4:25). Instead, the promise came through Isaac by Sarah, which is depicted as the Jerusalem above that is free (Galatians 4:26). *Application* What Paul is saying is that we must not stay enslaved to the Law of God for righteousness. We must look to Jesus Christ, who in the fullness of time came sent as God Incarnate born of a woman under the Law (Galatians 4:4). He is the only One who can redeem us from what Paul calls “the elementary principles of the world,” namely works based religion (Galatians 4:3, 5, 9). He makes the case that we are free from the bondage of sin, which was instituted by the Law, through adoption as free sons. We have the Holy Spirit of His Son in our hearts crying “Abba! Father (Galatians 4:6)!” This is term of endearment and indicates union and closeness with our Creator, a concept that was virtually new and unheard of in the world at this time. The point is that through faith in Christ we become heirs of the promise and gain the eternal inheritance with Him.

-Paul’s fear is that he had labored over these Galatians in vain (Galatians 4:11). He was again in anguish of childbirth for his little children until Christ be formed in them (Galatians 4:19). The reason for this is that they had been deceived by false-legalistic teaching that was taking them further away from the grace of God through His Son and the Spirit-controlled life. A life of external conformity was not going to good in the long run for many reasons, and Paul is right in seeing that this was a big deal in this newly converted society. He recounts their love toward him and how they gave sacrificially for his well being as an apostle (Galatians 4:12-15). He now feels like he has become their enemy by telling them the truth about the obedience of faith for righteousness (Galatians 4:16). This change of their heart has become so perplexing to the apostle, and he is determined to win them back to the accurate theological view of the grace of God (Galatians 4:20). They were observing the Jewish calendar of days, months, seasons, and years out of obligation thinking that it would make them more righteous. Paul’s point to them was that they had formerly been enslaved by ungodly idolatrous religions, but had now come to KNOW God and be KNOWN by Him (Galatians 4:8-10). This relationship opens up a newfound freedom. A return to the “elementary principles” of the old Jewish Laws that were guardians (managers, stewards, foreman) and managers (administrators) until the fullness of maturity and revelation came would be nonsensical and detrimental to their spiritual development. This is why Paul is so frustrated with them at this point. The rightful owners of everything good in the Lord were being deceived to go back into the slavery of the Law (Galatians 4:1-5). *Application* It is easier than we think to get prideful in the “right” way to do “spiritual” things. Although the religious practices we tend to gravitate to are not wrong in themselves, we must be ultra careful not to legislate these tendencies on others stating that they are a means of God’s grace, salvation, or sanctification. This is simply not biblical and does not demonstrate the freedom which Christ gives by His simple truth. Don’t get bogged down in human tradition. Serve the Living God with obedient faith and don’t enforce legalistic traditions of man.


Verse to Memorize- Galatians 4:6