Friday, January 31, 2014

Bible Study Notes in Matthew- Chapter 5

Matthew 5


-Jesus lays out important characteristics of the people who will inherit the Kingdom of Heaven that contradict the world’s system of pride and prestige. The poor in spirit (the broken) are blessed (the experience of hope and joy). Those that mourn (sorrow, repentant, grieving) will be comforted by the God who cares and has compassion. The gentle (humble, meek) will inherit the earth. The ones who hunger and thirst (an unyielding seeking and pursuit of) after righteous will find satisfaction. The ones who display mercy and grace in their lives will also receive the mercy and grace of the LORD. The heart must be pure in order to see God, and peacemakers (not peacekeepers) will be called the sons (or daughters if female) of God. Jesus gives special attention to those who are persecuted for His sake and righteousness. He encourages us to stay in the game and endure because He knows the pain and suffering that it brings when we stand up for Him and obey His commands in this world by faith. *Application* It is incredibly difficult to follow these beatitudes. In fact it is impossible to achieve these things long term in our flesh (old nature, our natural state) and on our own. We may achieve some success short term, but to have lasting fruits we must receive God’s Holy Spirit (a transformation, a new birth) and walk in His power. This is a way of life that contradicts the natural inclinations and the ways of the majority of this world. This is what transformation is at the core. Soldier on and allow God to do things His way in your life! In the end you shall be blessed beyond measure!

-Jesus explains His true intentions to fulfill the Law rather than demolish, or abolish, it. In other words, He supersedes the formality and penalty of the Law because of His atoning sacrifice on the cross. His grace is sufficient (Romans 3:24, 1 Corinthians 15:10, Titus 3:7, 1 Peter 1:2). This grace gives a whole new perspective to the demands and requirements of the Law, which Jesus expounds upon in this section. Grace requires new heart attitudes from within that have pure motives and are virtually unconcerned for the outward manifestation since that will take care of itself. Grace goes deeper and penetrates to the core of our being fulfilling God’s ultimate desire and plan for His creation in love. This is the essence of what Christ was discussing here in this passage. It has application in all the described areas of diversity, but its root is all unified, wrapped up in the commands “love God and love others.” *Application* When we understand the true meaning of the Law and how it is applied to us for a redemptive purpose with a Savior to cover our transgressions, we can begin to walk free in God’s perfection and be holy even as He is holy (Leviticus 19:2, Matthew 5:48).



Verses to Memorize: Matthew 5:10, 16

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Bible Study Notes in Matthew- Chapter 4

Matthew 4


-Immediately after Jesus’ baptism, which was an initiation into His public ministry of sorts, He is led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil for 40 days and nights with every temptation (Luke 4:13). After this period of prayer and fasting He became hungry and had to defend His righteousness against the attacks of the tempter. He used Scripture from the Torah to combat the enemy and his evil schemes designed to take Him down. *Application* When Satan comes at us we have to resist him through the Word of God alone and its proper interpretation. Don’t ever try to reason with him; he is crafty, manipulative, and cunning. Instead, rely on what God’s truth has clearly said and walk in His victory (Matthew 4:4,7,10, James 4:7). Don’t let Satan twist the Scriptures on you in an effort to trick and trip you up. Have discernment, study diligently, and call upon the Lord’s wisdom to avoid downfalls. We live on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God (Deuteronomy 8:3, Matthew 4:4).

-Satan tried to usurp authority by getting Him to bow down and worship. In exchange he offered all the worldly kingdoms and their earthly glory. Nothing compares to the Kingdom of God and His righteousness though. *Application* We are part of His Kingdom and His glory is radiating through it all the time. It far surpasses anything this world has to offer, so don’t get fool by the “shiny things” (material possessions, power, etc.).

-How awesome it is to realize that after the temptation and struggle the ministering angels were there! *Application* We also will be comforted after a time of trial and testing when we endure the struggle through the Spirit’s power. Hang on brother and sister, you will come into marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9). Yes Lord, yes Lord, yes, yes Lord! Praise Your Name Jesus!

-Jesus goes in the power of the Holy Spirit back into Galilee as John is taken into custody. He settled in Capernaum on the north side of the Sea of Galilee. The news about Him is spreading and He gains support in Galilee as those who had been in Jerusalem and saw His miracles received Him as a man of God (probably not as the Messiah though). Matthew describes how this too was a fulfillment from the prophecy (Isaiah 9:1-2; 60:1-3).

 *Application* Jesus’ fame and notoriety became contagious in the region of the Galilee. This was a low profile area compared to Judea and allowed the Christ to develop His disciples unhindered from the controversy and political turbulence of the area around Jerusalem. Christ was always led by the Holy Spirit in whatever endeavor the Lord told Him to do. May we likewise be obedient to His promptings and directions through the course of our lives.


Verse to Memorize: Matthew 4:11

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Bible Study Notes in Matthew- Chapter 3

Matthew 3


-John came as a voice in the wilderness to make the paths straight for the Lord to come with His grace and truth of salvation. He lived a humble life and simply called out people to repent from their sins so that they could receive forgiveness from the Lord. *Application* Becoming aware and admitting your mistakes and problems is the first step to recovery with Christ. Acknowledge where you have gone wrong and receive His mercy in true and genuine Godly sorrow, not just worldly guilt.

-John’s mission and water baptism for repentance was to point out the truth of who Christ Jesus was. This is the turning away from the old ways of a sinful life with the realization that we are broken and need restoration and reconciliation. Jesus was the One who would baptize (immerse, totally occupy, cover something completely and fully) with His Holy Spirit and with fire. The Spirit is the One who comes into us as part of the new covenant as of Pentecost that works His transformation in our lives as we receive Him and His power. The fire aspect is one of Christ’s judgment when we look at the context of the Scripture. He will gather the wheat and burn the chaff (the useless part of the grain, in other words those who reject Him as Savior) (Matthew 3:12, Luke 3:17). *Application* Christ Jesus is the dividing line. What will you do with Him? Accept Him and receive His Spirit forever and be changed or reject Him and receive His just consequence of separation from Him and His love. The choice is always yours. His offer is on the table.

-John proclaims Jesus as the Messiah as He comes for baptism, which is not for the purpose of repentance but for fulfillment of righteousness (Matthew 3:15). John is hesitant to baptize Jesus knowing that He is greater and is already the Son of God and perfect in all ways, but he consents as Jesus implores him to do the work of this significant moment. The Trinity is in full picture here as the incarnate Son is consecrated by the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove and the voice of God is heard audibly from Heaven (Matthew 3:16-17, Mark 1:10-11, Luke 3:22, John 1:32). *Application* Just as John saw and testified that these things were true and that Jesus was the Son of God, we must also be witnesses of the grace and truth of our Lord’s saving power. Share the message wherever you go!


Verses to Memorize: Matthew 3:26-17

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Bible Study Notes in Matthew- Chapter 2

Matthew 2


-The magi see the star in the west from their eastern location and venture toward Bethlehem, which they know from the prophecies (perhaps revealed by Daniel and others in the Babylonian deportation). They arrive in Jerusalem looking for the Child because they have come to worship Him (Matthew 2:2). *Application* These were astronomers from a foreign land that came based on previous knowledge somehow to the place where God visited earth. Our God is so good He even places signs in the sky for the entire world to see His plan for the Messiah Savior. The King is announced in more ways than one!

-The magi from the east came to Jerusalem first and met up with King Herod. He was an apprehensive ruler who was extremely paranoid to anyone who might possibly usurp his authority. His inquiry with the chief priests, scribes, and magi reveal his fear and suspicion in the matter. He was not the rightful heir to the throne of David. He was ruthless, as we will see, and had many enemies causing his great paranoia. *Application* We see the true wisdom and revelation of the magi here in this passage. They were warned to go back another way to avoid this evil king and they obeyed. We should also heed the warnings God gives us in our lives. He will always make a way out when we listen to His voice.

-The magi find the Christ Child in Bethlehem just as was prophesied (Micah 5:2). They come before Him and worship giving gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh (Matthew 2:11). *Application* These gifts from royalty had symbolic meaning as well. Gold symbolized His kingship and worthiness. Frankincense embodied deity. Myrrh was foreshadowing His death on the cross for the sins of mankind. These gifts, some scholars have speculated, were the means for Jesus and His family to escape to Egypt when Herod sent his men to destroy all the children two and under in Bethlehem (Matthew 2:16-18). Where God guides, He provides!

-The other item of note from this text is the fact that they came to worship Jesus in a house (Matthew 2:11). This more than likely indicates some significant passing of time between the Messiah’s birth and the visitation of the wise men, contrary to some Nativity scenes we see at Christmas. Jesus could have been as much as two years old at this point based on the age that Herod set for his inquisition (Matthew 2:16).

-An angel again appears to Joseph supernaturally in a dream urging him to get up and immediately leave for Egypt to remain there until further notice. It was made plain that Herod was seeking the Christ Child’s life, and so Joseph arose with his wife and the Messiah and departed for Egypt that very night before the sun even came up (Matthew 2:14). They remained there until the death of Herod, which fulfilled Hosea’s prophecy that “Out of Egypt I called my Son (Hosea 11:1).” *Application* Here we see Old Testament usage by Matthew to give us a deep understanding and appreciation for prophecy. Just as the New Testament writers viewed the Law and the Prophets in the new revelation light of Jesus Christ, and so should we. This is just one example of the shadows of Christ in the ancient texts given for the hope of Israel and the world (Hebrews 8:5; 10:1). Also notice the immediate response of Joseph to obey and get his all important family out of danger’s way. Again, it is supposed that the gifts of the magi helped to fund this trip and stay in Egypt, which was obviously a foreign land and a new adventure. When God calls, our best response is quick compliance. It could save us our lives!

-Herod’s paranoia and lust for power are revealed in his reaction to the finding out that the magi had deceived (literally mocked, ridiculed, tricked, make a fool of) him (Matthew 2:16). He sends his troops and slew all the male children who were in Bethlehem and all its vicinity from two years and under in fulfillment of Jeremiah’s prophecy (Jeremiah 31:15). The weeping and great mourning heard all the way across the mountainous region to Ramah harkened back even to the days of Rachel, who died in childbirth in this region and had her heart much set on children (Genesis 35:16-18). *Application* It is terribly sad to think about the cruelty that was inflicted on the innocent children surrounding and in the region of Bethlehem by the tyrant Herod. We must always stand up for injustice and the rights of those who cannot defend themselves. I saw a sticker just yesterday urging the stoppage of abortion in our country. We think to ourselves, “how cruel they must have been back in those days to destroy life so cruelly like that,” but we easily forget the untold millions of lives that have been lost now to abortion in our nation and world. Be a defender of weak and innocent (Psalm 82:3, Proverbs 31:9, Isaiah 1:17). Value life!

-The passing of King Herod was great news for the Messiah’s family. The angel reappeared as promised (Matthew 2:13) and God’s salvation plan was continuing along just as predicted by the prophets of old.

-*Application* God is not slow about His promises as some count slowness, but He is patient and gives multiple chances for people to turn to Him in repentance (2 Peter 3:9). I believe God gave Herod every chance He could and time to come to know Him before his death. God has a plan and purpose for everything in the whole context of this world. He is sovereign and has all understanding. In the “fullness of time” is a great concept to contemplate when we read a verse like this one (Galatians 4:4).

-Joseph is reluctant to go back into Israel because Herod’s son Archelaus was reigning, but God warned him and once again he obeyed the Lord. The family left Egypt and ventured to the region of Galilee and settled back in their original hometown of Nazareth, which once again fulfilled the prophets word that “He shall be called a Nazarene (Isaiah 11:1. The word there is Netzar, which signifies either a branch, or the city of Nazareth; in being denominated from that city, he is declared to be that Branch).” This region was much calmer politically than other regions of Israel at the time. Philip was ruling in this region and was much more docile than Archelaus in Judea. Although Joseph was probably under the assumption, from his limited understanding of the Messiah’s life and work, that they would be in or near Jerusalem, God had other plans and somewhat secluded His Son for His upbringing and the bulk of His earthly ministry.

-*Application* Don’t despise the little things (Luke 16:10). Our lives at times can feel mundane, uncomplicated, and even boring. We yearn to do more and dream of extravagance and greatness even in Kingdom work. We must always remember God’s plan is higher than ours and let Him form and shape us just as He desires. The Messiah’s life is even reflective of that fact when we closely observe the Scriptures. Jesus lived a normal life for all we know until the age of 30 when His public ministry began. The preparation is important; allow the Lord to work in you even on the most normal of days.


Verses to Memorize: Matthew 2:11, 14, 16, 19, 23

Monday, January 27, 2014

Bible Study Notes in Matthew- Chapter 1

Matthew 1


-Matthew begins his focused gospel aimed at the Hebrew people to convince them of the promised Messiah in the person of Jesus Christ with the genealogy of the Savior, fourteen generations from Abraham (the father of the Jewish nation) to King David (the king with the eternal Kingdom promise) and fourteen generations from him to the deportation to Babylon in 586 B.C. and fourteen generations to the Messiah’s birth (Matthew 1:17). This list includes all sorts of characters that God used in the saga of bringing redemption to earth. There are great people of faith in the list like Abraham, Isaac, Ruth, David, and Josiah. There are also some shady characters like Rahab and Tamar along with the evil kings of Manasseh and Abijah. Some were completely ordinary like Hezron, Ram, Nahshon, and Achim. *Application* The point is that God works through history in through human failures and triumphs. He is the One superseding with an overarching will that is going to climax in an eternal consummation of victory for His glory along with those who chose Him.

-Matthew now describes the birth story of the Savior beginning with Mary and Joseph’s betrothal. Before they came together in sexual intimacy, Mary was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit. This fulfilled the Isaiah 7:14 prophecy, which Matthew points out (Matthew 1:18, 22). Joseph, when he found out that his fiancĂ© was pregnant, proposed to do a righteous thing and put her away secretly so that she would not be stoned to death according to the Law (Deuteronomy 22:13-21). God had a third option for the situation. He sent an angel in a dream to the righteous Joseph telling him the truth of what was going on and that this Child would be the Savior of people’s sins with the Name of Jesus (Matthew 1:20-21). Joseph awoke and did as the angel of the LORD commanded him, and took Mary as his wife, “but kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a Son, and he called His Name Jesus (Matthew 1:24-25). *Application* The prophet Isaiah told us that Christ Jesus would be called Immanuel (God with us). This is the beginning of how He came to be with us. He is still with us today in the Person of His precious Holy Spirit. Thank God that He is “with” us!


Verses to Memorize: Matthew 1:17, 21

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Bible Study Notes in Philippians- Chapter 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. Peace can ultimately 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 4:14-23). *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 4:4, 6-7, 11, 13, 19

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Bible Study Notes in Philippians- 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, vain) 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 (selfish appetite) 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, January 21, 2014

Bible Study Notes in Philippians- 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, January 20, 2014

Bible Study Notes in Philippians- 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 spent 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.


Verses to Memorize- Philippians 1:6, 21

Friday, January 17, 2014

Bible Study Notes in Ephesians- 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).


Verse to Memorize- Ephesians 6:10

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Bible Study Notes in Ephesians- 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. Meditate long and hard on these Scriptural principles and you will do well. Now you know, so go love your spouse and your church!


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

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Bible Study Notes in Ephesians- 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, discerners who see the way things should be), 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 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 a great reminder of how we should live with all the joy and love of Jesus Christ. Put Him on!


Verses to Memorize- Ephesians 4:11-12, 15, 32

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Bible Study Notes in Ephesians- 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 a 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 3:6, 16-21

Monday, January 13, 2014

Bible Study Notes in Ephesians- 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 reconciled and connected 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 peace, hope, and destiny. Walk together in Him!


Verses to Memorize- Ephesians 2:8-9

Friday, January 10, 2014

Bible Study Notes in Ephesians- 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

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Bible Study Notes in Colossians- 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 that will continue to engage leaving open doors, 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 that they have received 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

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Bible Study Notes in Colossians- 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 all amount to 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 among believers 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, 17, 23

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Bible Study Notes in Colossians- 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.


Verses to Memorize- Colossians 2:9-10

Monday, January 6, 2014

Bible Study Notes in Colossians- Chapter 1

Colossians 1

-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. “For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the Kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins (Colossians 1:13-14).” 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 and the fullness of God incarnated on our behalf!


Verses to Memorize- Colossians 1:13-14, 27

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Bible Study Notes in Ezra- Chapter 10

Ezra 10


-While Ezra was weeping and praying and making confession of intercession for the people of Israel before the House of God, a very large assembly of all sorts people, men, women and children, gathered to him and also wept bitterly (Ezra 10:1). They, led by Shecaniah, declared their unfaithfulness before the LORD in marrying foreign wives from the pagan lands, yet he claimed that in spite of this there is hope (Ezra 10:2). They made a covenant with their God to put away all the wives and children (much like Abraham had done, Genesis 21:9-21). The vast majority was with Ezra in this matter to be courageous and act unto sanctification in pure devotion to their LORD. They arose and took an oath as they assembled in Jerusalem in a heavy rain making confession and riding themselves of the guilt of Israel in the matter. They proclaimed as one voice, “That’s right! As you have said, so it is our duty to do (Ezra 10:12). Only a few people opposed this according to Scripture (Ezra 10:15). A proper investigation was made and the names were collected of men who needed to put away their foreign wives and children before the LORD (Ezra 10:16-44).

-*Application* Riding ourselves of godless things can be a pain-staking process unless we are truly and completely devoted in love to the God we are turning to. We must be unadulterated in our coming to the LORD by faith and obedience. As we see in this passage, there is no other way to cleanse our guilt caused by sin and corruption. Whatever is holding you back in your life from coming completely to Christ needs to be totally put away and eradicated. This is the only way to be truly set free. The first step is repentance, the next step is saving faith in the Savior and what He for you on the cross, and then follow Him in trusting obedience to His commands for love and well-being.


Verse to Memorize: Ezra 10:12

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Bible Study Notes in Ezra- Chapter 9

Ezra 9


-This chapter demonstrates the importance of separating the clean from the unclean in the sight of God. Ezra is appalled by what he saw in the Promised Land when he heard about the intermarriages between the Jewish covenant people and idolatrous people of the land including the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, the Ammonites, the Moabites, the Egyptians, and the Amorites (Ezra 9:2). Ezra’s rage is apparent and palpable as he tears his garment and robe, and pulled some of the hair from his head and beard and just sat there until evening (Ezra 9:3-4). He gathered the God fearing people and gave a strong discourse on how upset God has been and will be with their disobedience and rebellion against Him (Ezra 9:5-15). -*Application* Ezra realized the importance of sanctification for the eternal blessings of God. How much do we intermingle with the world and the uncleanness it offers? Determine to live a separated and sanctified life before the LORD and remove the guilt by faith in His Son, Jesus!


Verse to Memorize: Ezra 9:9