Dec. 18-24 Waiting 400 Years for God to Answer

Dec. 18 – (Ps. 45:6-7; Dan. 2:44; Luke 1:33; Heb. 1:8-12) Messiah’s throne will be anointed and eternal.

                The quotation in Heb. 1:8-9 is from a psalm about the Davidic king (Ps. 45:6-7).  Only Jesus, the Davidic Messiah (the anointed One), truly fits this description.  Considering the clear statement about Christ’s deity (Heb. 1: 8—9), the author emphasizes Christ’s role in creation and His eternality.

WOW!  I am learning so much… or rather I’m beginning to better connect prophecy in the Old Testament with its fulfillment in the New Testament.  How enlightening!

Dec. 19 – 400 YEARS’ SILENCE 

                There were the “400 silent years” from the end of Malachi in the OT to the beginning of the NT. (How long have you felt God’s silence? Take heart!) Therefore, I will rely on the history of those years to set the stage for Jesus’ coming. This time in history can be separated into six periods, Grecian, Ptolemaic, Syrian, Maccabean, Hasmonean and Roman.  I will give a very brief description of each but have attached a paper by Dr. James F. Davis, that gives a fuller explanation.  I learned soo much from this paper!  You might enjoy and gain a whole new perspective by reading through it. 

GRECIAN -Alexander the Great defeated the Persians in 331 BC. The Persian king Darius was the last ruler mentioned in the Old Testament. Alexander the Great allowed religious freedom but brought in the ideals of Hellenism (tutored by the Greek, Aristotle).  To be successful one needed to adopt these ideals and even the Greek language.  This period ended in 323 B.C. at Alexander’s death.

PTOLEMAIC PERIOD - After Alexander’s death, there was a struggle and 4 diadochior successors emerged. Ptolemy took control of Palestine, as well as Egypt, Phoenician, and Southern Syria. This would last 300 years. There was still religious freedom but Greek was now the common language among the Jews. This is when the Hebrew Old Testament was translated into Greek and would have been read in Jesus’ time.

In northern Palestine, there were many conflicts by Syria which eventually lead to defeat for Ptolemy V in 198 B.C. The Ptolemaic empire would continue in Egypt for another125 years.

SYRIAN PERIOD – Antiochus III and his leadership were received well by Jews in Palestine and religious freedom continued, with a continual bent toward Hellenism much like the previous period. In Antiochus III’s quest for more, he challenged Rome and was defeated by them in 190 B.C. Though he lost most everything, he was allowed to keep Palestine but looted the temple just trying to pay Roman taxes.  He was eventually murdered during one of these raids.  Jews lost religious freedom and exercised their religious practices under the threat of death.  Only pagan gods could be worshiped.  Antiochus IV had his supporters in the Jewish community.  The Sadducees supported him in an attempt to maintain control of the temple.  Pharisees, Zealots and Essenes became powerful forces of opposition.  Antiochus IV foolishly underestimated the stubborn commitment of Jews to follow their religion and the stage was set for one of history’s best-known rebellions.

MACCABEAN PERIOD - Mattathias Hasmon, an old Jewish priest killed both an agent of the king who was trying to bribe and demand him to perform pagan rituals and a Jew who had stepped in to do the rituals for the agent. He and his 5 sons ran and hid in the hills.  His life is documented in The Apocrypha, in the second chapter of The First Book of Maccabees. He and his succession of sons fought a guerrilla war in the region against Seleucid forces. In 164 B.C., Judas (his oldest son, called “the Hammer”) had his most impressive win in recapturing the Jerusalem Temple and cleansing it.  In honor of the event, the Festival of Hanukkah began.  200 years later, Jesus would stand in this very temple and celebrate this event!

The last son to head this movement succeeded in completely driving the Syrians out of Jerusalem and the Jewish national autonomy of Palestine was restored in 142 B.C.

HASMONEAN PERIOD - The Hasmonean Period is named for the family name of the original Maccabees who led and governed Jerusalem in the prior period.  Their behavior is so different in this period than their ancestors of the previous time that they are remembered with a different name.  The Maccabees were clearly focused on the freedom of the Jews, religiously, politically and socially.  The Hasmoneans were more about their personal and political agendas and often more focused on secular and Hellenistic values than their forefathers.  While Jews maintained religious freedom and much of their cultural traditions during this period it was a time of general unrest in Palestine.

Simon’s son, John Hyrcanus became the Jewish leader upon his father’s death.  He was a cruel and self-centered leader who became aligned with wealthy Jews who supported the values of Hellenism.  During his reign, we see the continued growth and development of the Pharisees and Sadducees.  The Pharisees were those who had been closely aligned with the Maccabees.  Sadducees were now more dominant as they were more aligned with the values of the Hasmoneans, now in power. Hasmoneans became known for their personal lust for power.

ROMAN PERIOD - While Rome took political and military control of Palestine in 63 B.C. it allowed local Hasmonean leaders to maintain some level of authority over local affairs until 37 B.C.   During that interim, things in Rome were changing.  Pompey, the Roman general who conquered Palestine died in 48 B.C. Shortly after, through military success, Julius Caesar became Rome’s new leader.  His power would only last until 44 B.C. when he was murdered.  Octavian, his nephew quickly seized control and eventually secured his position as leader with the Roman people by leading a defeat of Antony and Cleopatra near Actium, Greece in 31 B.C.  In recognition of his accomplishments in 27 B.C. the Roman Senate named him Rome’s first Emperor and Commander-in-Chief.  He was given the name Caesar Augustus.  This brings us to Luke 2:1, “a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that a census be taken,” which led to Joseph and Mary’s journey to Bethlehem.  Caesar Augustus would remain in control of Rome and subsequently Palestine through the birth of Jesus and part of his childhood, his reign ending in A.D. 14.  At his death, his son Tiberius would become Emperor and be the leader of Rome through the life of Jesus.  When the last Hasmonean died in 37 B.C., Palestine needed a new authority and this one would come from Roman authority.  Antipater who had worked to influence previous Hasmonean leaders used his political influence to persuade the Roman Senate to elect his son Herod as king of Palestine.

            Herod’s rule over Palestine was deeply resented by the Jews.  There were three main reasons he was never able to win their loyalty or respect. First, he was not a Jew.  Jews believed that only a true Jew could sit on the throne of David.  Second, he was strongly committed to Hellenism, as were the Romans.  He built many grand structures in Jerusalem and Palestine He elaborately rebuilt the temple (it took more than eighty years), but Herod’s intention was not to glorify God but himself with this structure. Lastly the Jews resented Herod for his evilness.  He was responsible for the murder of his own wife and children as well as many others who thought him to be their friend.  He would kill anyone he felt was a threat to his authority.  He put Jesus into that category, ordering the murder of every baby boy in Bethlehem in an attempt to eliminate the threat he perceived.  While the Jews had some religious freedoms under his reign it was a time of violence and general unrest in Jerusalem and all of Palestine.

                I know this is a bit lengthy but I gained so much insight!  If you would like to read more go to:

Dec. 20 - (John 1:1-18) OVERVIEW OF JESUS’ PURPOSE

                We were born to live – Jesus was born to die!  The sole design of the crib was the cross! Jesus’ birth in the stable that day was only the culmination of a long history that reached its climax in that remarkable event. As Paul writes in the book of Galatians, “But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that he might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons” (Gal. 4:5; Heb. 1:1–3). What does Paul mean when he says Jesus was born in “the fullness of time”? He means that all the divine preparations for the Savior’s birth had been completed. All the prophecies regarding the coming Messiah had been uttered. All the lessons had been taught to God’s people Israel. All the OT symbolism anticipating and pointing to Christ had been instituted. Now there was only one thing left to do: For God to send His Son. Today let’s reflect on what you might call “Christmas according to John”.  He doesn’t bring us to the earthly actual birth events but seems to be focusing on taking us up with him to heaven, to a time when there was no creation, no humanity, no animals, not even angels.  Time when Jesus, the Word, co-existed with God in perfect love and unity of purpose.  

                In looking at John 1:1-18, Let’s look for answers to 3 questions.

1.       Who is that Word that was made flesh?  He was God (and being that close could show “God” better than anyone). He was creator (those whom he created would reject Him). He was the Light (as Creator and as Messiah). He was the Life (overcame in the cosmic battle between eternal death and life with God).

2.       Why did the Word come into the world?  Why did Jesus come into this world? A lot of people in our culture and around the world don’t understand why Jesus was born. They never get past the trappings of Christmas, the presents, the tree, Santa Claus, stockings, candy canes, Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus. Likewise, many people don’t understand why Jesus died on the cross. The reason for this lack of true understanding, I believe, is that it takes eyes of faith, and the Holy Spirit, to understand the spiritual purpose of Jesus’ coming, the true meaning of what we celebrate at Christmas.

3.       What is Christmas according to John, and how can understanding John’s message transform the way we celebrate Christmas?  Verses 14-18 gives us two reasons – “grace and truth”.  John tells us in vv. 14–18, in Jesus we have seen God’s glory, and we have received from his fullness, both grace and truth. He wants to lift us up far above any preoccupation with the external trappings of Christmas, so we can contemplate the wonder of a God who would care enough for the world and the people he has made, to send his Son to die, knowing that the world would reject him, knowing that glory would come to him through rejection and suffering and brokenness. Thank you, Jesus Christ!

                Again, there is soo much wonderful explanation from a sermon by Andreas Kostenberger, I can’t include it all. It really gave another aspect of understanding Jesus’ birth. You can find it at:

Dec. 21 – (Foretelling - Mal. 3:1; Isa. 40:3; Fulfillment - Matt. 3:1-3; John 1:23; Luke 1:5-38) BIRTH OF JOHN THE BAPTIST AND JESUS FORETOLD

                As we have studied the 400 years’ silence, we now look at the actual events of Jesus’ birth.  As we know, Malachi, the last book of the OT, was a message of encouragement for the Jews who had returned from exile in Babylon.  Matthew wrote his Gospel more than 400 years later.  The Jews still lived in their homeland, but under the oppressive rule of Rome.  Matthew tells the good news about how Jesus the Messiah fulfills the promises of God in the OT beginning with the genealogy of Jesus.

                With John (as well as with Jesus) we have foretelling in the OT and NT before the actual births.  This gives greater importance to their births.  John the Baptist came as the Elijah of prophecy.  I need way more understanding in this but I know His Word is true.  John was to herald the Event of the Ages and succeeded in doing that! 

                We have spent almost 2 weeks on the foretelling and connections with Jesus’ birth.  We have in Luke 1:26-38 another foretelling to Mary who would carry Jesus to birth.  As I have studied this passage, I was thinking about the angels. Their appearance caused fear (Luke 1:12, 29-30). They were not cute little helpless cherubs.   Also keep in mind, for 400 years the Jews believed the Holy Spirit had not been active in Israel.  It may have been a shock to witness this! 


                As you read through these verses, ask the Lord for a fresh look at some of the “support team” that obeyed God and in doing so, ushered in the greatest birth of all times. I was drawn to Elizabeth’s exclamation. How did she know all those things would come from the baby in Mary’s womb?  It was through the Holy Spirit!  Her words had to confirm what the angel had already spoke to Mary.  Do you see how the Holy Spirit encourage both women as they verbalized His message to each other?    I must ask myself, what would have been diminished if they had not been listening and then obeyed?  Okay then, what am I missing in hearing the Holy Spirit, today, as part of His “support team”.  Selah 

Dec. 23 – (Isa. 7:14; Matt. 1:18-25; Luke 2:1-7) JESUS BIRTH 

                Read these verses pretending to never have read them before (If that’s possibleJ). Last year, I was drawn to the fact that Jesus was born in Bethlehem because Caesar Augustus demanded that everyone go to their home town to be counted.  I am just amazed that at least 400 years earlier, a prophet foretold that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem.  Now, a “heathen” ruler has demanded something of this godly couple that certainly was not convenient or easy given Mary’s full-term pregnancy.  And yet they obeyed their secular ruler and endured this hardship, thus fulfilling prophecy and obeying God in the process!  Amazing God!    

                This year I am drawn to wonder why OT said Jesus would be named Emmanuel (meaning God with us) while the Angel told both Mary and Joseph, He was to be named Jesus (or Yeshua meaning Salvation of Jehovah).  I could spend days just discussing all the names Jesus was called but for now I realize Jesus was the personal name of Him who was born of a virgin, and used more often than any other in the NT. It is also mentioned in both the first and last verses of the NT.  Every time the OT uses the word Salvation (especially with the Hebrew suffix meaning “my”, “thy,” or “his,” it is identically the same word as Yeshua (Jesus). It is what the angel told Joseph!    Funny side note: As I am trying to get to these meanings and their connections, I am reminded of a movie where a patriarch loved the root meaning of any word.  He would go through to the root word and its meaning and then end with “and there you go”.  So… “and there you go!” 

Dec. 24 – (Luke 2:8-21; Matt. 2:1-12) ANGELS AND SHEPHERDS

                First, let’s think about the angels involved. Gabriel, the archangel, appeared to Daniel (Dan. 8:16) and to Zacharias and then Mary. In each instance, the response was different. Daniel responds with holy fear, Zacharias responds with unbelief, and Mary was over awed by his announcement and though she had questions of how, submitted in trust to God’s will.  What is our response when the Holy Spirit reveals things to us?  Let me make two more statements about the angelic host at Jesus’ birth:  1. What a striking contrast the birth of Christ affords!  Around Him impoverished circumstances, yet above Him the glorious and angelic host of heaven announce His birth.  2. The first hymn honoring Christ came from a multitude of the heavenly host.  JOY TO THE WORLD!!!!

                Let’s look next at the lowly shepherds.  How fitting it was that the Good Shepherd who was coming to give His life for the sheep first announced His birth to good shepherds watching over their flocks!  The angels of heaven didn’t bring their “glad tidings” to the Scribes and Pharisees at Jerusalem (we will discuss their response a little later) but to shepherds who immediately obeyed the heavenly commandment and told others of what had come to pass… AND TOLD OTHERS OF WHAT HAD COME TO PASS!  How can we not be doing the same?

Dec. 11-17 One Man in all of History...

There is only One Man in all of history of whom explicit details of His birth, life, death, and resurrection were given centuries beforehand.  Amazing!

Dec. 11 – (Foretelling - Gen. 3:15; Fulfillment - Matt. 1:20; Gal. 4:4) Messiah would be born of a woman.

                We need to go way back to the garden of Eden to get a better understanding of why the "seed of the woman" is so important. The key to this is when God told satan what would happen because of sin. To satan was given the initial promise and prophecy of redemption from the sin he brought into “God’s universe (Gen. 3:15). From this point on, the chain of promises and prophecies concerning “the seed of the woman” lengthens until it ends in the birth of Jesus, who was not only “the seed of the woman,” but “the seed of Abraham” etc.

Many times, the enemy tried to destroy the “Seed,” through the years since the garden of Eden.  Haman tried to get rid of the Jewish nation.  Herod massacred innocent babies to get to Jesus. These are only a few examples but God’s will and purpose will always win out. This gives me a deeper meaning of why genealogies are so important.  They are evidence again, of the enemy’s failure to thwart our salvation, just as God said it would!  Thank you, Father God!!

Dec. 12 – (Foretelling - Gen. 3:15; Isa. 7:14; Fulfillment - Matt. 1:22-23; Luke 1:26-35) Messiah would be born of a virgin.

                We have just discussed the importance of following “the seed” through the genealogies.  In Gen. 3:15, the phrase “her seed,” is not found elsewhere in the Bible.  Well over one hundred times we read of “the seed” and “seeds” but in all cases, the seed of man is meant.  But the seed of the woman is a unique concept and can be interpreted only as a foreshadowing of the virgin birth of our Lord.  If Jesus was not to be born of a virgin, then Adam would have been referred to: “his seed”, not “her seed.”  When the Prince of Glory came, the prince of this world could find nothing in the One who sprang from “her seed” because it was through the work of the Holy Spirit.   Does this bring deeper meaning?  I hope so.

                Here is another area to consider. The prophecy in Isaiah had significance in his day in that Ahaz and his house stood judged by God for unbelief.  The passage gave hope to faithful believers like Isaiah for a future Messiah. Can you see any encouragement for us today considering our world?  We also have a hope of a returning Messiah!  In Matthew, we are reading the exact words from the mouth of an angel to a man trying to decide what to do with a fiancee who is pregnant and he was not the father.  Can you imagine how Joseph was feeling?  Then he sees an angel appear in a dream repeating what Isaiah spoke hundreds of years earlier, about the very thing that was weighing so heavily on his mind. WOW! That had to really help in his decision.  I’m sure this was an answer to prayer that Joseph could never have thought up or reasoned out.  It reminds me that as we seek God for guidance in our seemingly insurmountable situations, that God has a good plan for us… for life… and hope….Hallelujah!!!!  

Dec. 13 – (Foretelling - Micah 5:2; Fulfillment - Matt. 2:1,6; John 7:42; Luke 2:4-7) Messiah would be born in Bethlehem.

                Jesus was born in Bethlehem (we all knew that).  These scriptures confirm the foretelling and fulfillment. Jesus was also a descendant of David (we all knew that).  What I didn’t put together was that David was born in Bethlehem as well!  The unlikely choice of David as king foreshadows the unlikely choice of Bethlehem as the hometown of the greater David, the Messiah. Matt. 2:6 shows that Jewish scholars of Jesus’ day read this as a prediction of the Messiah’s birthplace (Jn. 7:42). The Messiah’s lineage confirms that the ancient covenantal promises made to David still stand (2 Sam. 7:16). 

Dec. 14 – (Foretelling - Hosea 11:1; Fulfillment -  Matt. 2:14-15) Messiah would spend a season in Egypt.

                “When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son.” Matthew 2:15 quotes this verse to show that Jesus is the “Son” of God, the heir of David who embodies Israel’s relationship to God (compare 2 Sam. 7:14; Ps. 89:26-27).  Hosea portrays the Lord not only as a husband but also as a father. We don’t know a lot about their time in Egypt but we do know God was protecting His Purpose for our good!  Pause and think about that! 

Dec. 15 – (Foretelling -Jer. 31:15; Fulfillment - Matt. 2:16-18) A massacre of children would happen at Messiah’s birthplace.         

Let’s look at another aspect of this foretelling and fulfillment. Why did King Herod send this edict? First, Jesus was the only baby who was born a king…Selah!  We think about all the people who celebrated and worshiped Jesus at His birth but Christ’s birth had the opposite effect on King Herod. “Jesus in His cradle is mightier than Herod on his throne.” Every king (including Herod) pales in significance to the King Eternal!

                But why did King Herold feel so threatened? The Pharisees had warned him of the end of the Herodian dynasty.  Therefore, if the One the Wise Men had spoken of was truly a king, he must seek to destroy Him, which he tried to do in the slaughter of the innocents. Since the Wise Men “wisely” decided not to tell King Herod which house Jesus was in, Herod had to expand to all of Bethlehem to make sure of the destruction of the One.  Joseph Parker, commented upon this incident, “No man has troubled the human heart so much as Christ.  His whole course is a rebuke to evil.  A Babe ‘troubling’ a king!  The good have ever ‘troubled’ the bad.  The nefarious bookkeeper is troubled by the eye of his honest companion.”   Here is what impacted me.  How has the fact of Christ affected us?  Is ours the attitude of the adoring shepherds or that of Herod (don’t answer too quickly) trembling because of the possible loss of my throne? Dagon must fall to pieces when the Ark is carried into the temple! SELAH

Dec. 16 – (Isa. 11:1; Matt. 2:23) Messiah would be called a Nazarene.

                Okay this one was a little harder to connect but it’s there if we explore the original word.  Matthew may have intended a wordplay connecting the word “Nazareth” to the messianic prophecy in Isa. 11:1. Nazareth” sounds like the Hebrew word for “branch,” which was a term for the Messiah. Also, when Isaiah spoke of Jesus as The Branch, he used the word neh-tzer, meaning “the separated One,” or the Nazarene.”

Dec. 17 – (Isa 7:14; Matt. 1:22,23) Messiah would be called Immanuel. 

                When Isaiah used the exclamation Behold in connection with this divine name (Immanuel or Emanuel), he wanted to arrest attention to an extraordinary prophecy.  It was a name, men were not to use in an ordinary way because it not only revealed His contact with man but also His character.  Two truths are suggested by this remarkable name: Christ’s Deity and His fellowship with men.  He became “God manifest in flesh.” In His last commission to His followers, He said, “Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world” (Matt. 28:20).

                Here is a great way to look at Emanuel.

                                In the OT, it is – God For Us

                                In the Four Gospels, it is – God With Us

                                In the Acts and Epistles, it is – God In Us

                “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Of course, He is for us, and with us, but, now, by His Spirit, He is always in us. He is our eternal Inhabitant – the Indweller Who will never leave us- the Comforter, abiding with us forever (John 14:16). (Herbert Lockyer)

Dec. 4-10 Why Celebrate Jesus' Birth?

Dec. 4 – As we look forward to celebrating Jesus’ birth, let’s spend some time looking into the foretelling and fulfillment of His birth.  I learned so much last year in doing this study that Christmas brought on a deeper meaning. As I expected, my study this year brought more insight and revelation of God’s love and timing and choices…only for our good!  We can never exhaust comprehension of His Word!  I would like to use Isa. 46:9-10 as a basis of this study. “Remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all My purpose (some versions say pleasure).”

                Let me begin this study with several things to keep in mind. First, through genealogies, we can trace from where Jesus descended.  That alone is amazing in the validity of scripture and prophecy.  I could spend days explaining why genealogies are so important for the validity of this study.  Let me just give a few: 1. Genealogies form the generation-to-generation tie-up of all preceding biblical history and are both the skeletal framework of the OT and the cords binding the whole Bible together, giving it its characteristic unity.  2. Public registers of all members of the Israelite families had to be scrupulously preserved. (Ex. Priests who could not trace their ancestry were put out of their office (Neh. 7:64). Any Jew could trace his genealogy because “all Israel were reckoned by genealogies” (I Chron. 9:1).  These records constituted a man’s title to his farm or home so there was a big interest to keep them up to date.  3. These national records were carefully kept until the destruction of Jerusalem, the Temple, and the Jewish nation in A. D. 70.  Therefore, during the life of Jesus, no one could dispute that He was of the house and lineage of David as He claimed to be.

                There are two genealogies of Jesus as given in the NT to trace His lineage according to the flesh. One in Matt. 1:1-17 and one in Luke 3:23-38. They are not exactly the same and we won’t take time to study the differences. But where I have landed is that the two authors teeter between legal descent and real descent. An example might be the descent of Joseph – Mathew’s the real descent and Luke’s the legal descent.

                (Foretelling - Gen. 9:26-27; Fulfilled - Luke 3:36) Messiah would be a descendant of Shem.

As we study these prophesies you will have scripture that foretells and then scripture that shows fulfillment or confirmation. Let’s begin with Shem (chosen son of Noah). In Gen. 9:25-27, Noah is blessing (or cursing) his sons. He says, “Blessed be the Lord, the “God of Shem…and will dwell in the tents of Shem…”  The fulfillment comes in the genealogy in Luke 3:36.  There is more information that helps connect Shem with Abraham (our next person we will study).  “The generations of Shem” (Gen. 11:10-26) stretch from Shem to Abraham covering ten generations – 427 years.  Shem lived from 98 years before the Flood until 502 years after the Flood, which means that he lived until 75 years after Abraham entered Canaan.  Isn’t that amazing?  This may be the longest span of foretelling to fulfillment (about 7,000 years, give or take 1000).  Shem means “name” in Hebrew – a designation subsequently given him as one of note or great among Noah’s sons.  The prophecy that Jehovah would be specially the God of Shem was fulfilled in the choice of Abraham and of Israel, his descendants as God’s peculiar people.  Shem is called “the father of all the children of Eber”; the term Hebrew is derived from Eber (Gen. 10:21; Num. 24:24).  

Dec. 5 – (Foretelling - Gen. 12:3; Fulfillment - Matt. 1:1; Gal. 3:16; Rom. 9:5) Messiah would be a descendant of Abraham.

                Matthew begins his genealogy by saying, “The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.” (Matt. 1:1). This is another confirmation that Jesus came from this nation because no other nations are even mentioned. Did you notice that Gen. 12:3 contains the call of Abraham to leave his country and go where God is leading him?  When Abraham accepted the call to go to a new land, it meant so much more than physically moving there. By such a choice God divided the many nations of the earth into two groups. Most of the peoples became “the Gentile nations,” while a very small family became known as God’s “chosen people”, the Jewish nation.  With this move, God gave him a new physical name (Abraham replaced Abram) and a new heritage name (Hebrew (Eber) replaced Gentile).  To these privileged people God gave a land, and a prophecy that He would make the people “a great nation” and through them bless the earth (by Jesus coming through their blood line)!  What about the “big decisions” God is asking of you?  God has soo many blessings in store for each one of us and those we will touch if “we follow where He leads”!

Dec. 6 – (Foretelling - Gen. 17:19, 21:12; 26:2,4; Fulfillment - Luke 3:34; Rom. 9:4,5,7; Heb. 11:17-19) Messiah would be a descendant of Isaac.

                 Isaac’s birth establishes an everlasting covenant with his descendants. In Gen. 21:12, God confirms that Isaac will take priority over Ishmael even though Ishmael is older. The importance of this is explained in Rom. 9:7 and Heb. 11:18. Though many Jews have failed to believe this, God’s promise to them has not failed.  It was never true that all of the physical children of Abraham would be part of the people of God. Gen. 21:12 teaches that the line of promise is traced through Isaac, not Ishmael. Hebrews 11:17-18 again confirms God’s promise of covenant through Isaac. “Only son” (Heb. 11:17) designates Isaac as Abraham’s unique son.  Though Abraham had other children, Isaac was the son who was “one of a kind”, in the sense of being Abraham’s only heir and the only bearer of covenant promises.  In the words, “raise him from the dead” (Heb. 11:19), Abraham expressed confidence that he would return with Isaac.  Hebrews draws an analogy between resurrection and Isaac being spared.  Isn’t this amazing?

Dec. 7 – (Foretelling - Num. 24:17,19; Fulfillment - Matt. 1:2; Rom. 9:9-10) Messiah would be a descendant of Jacob.

                As you read these verses you will see further evidence that God’s covenant would continue through Jacob.  It also reiterates God’s promise (Gen. 18:10,14) was not given to Hagar (Gen.16:11-12), but specifically to Sarah and her offspring.  The birth of Esau and Jacob and following events show again that God chose who would be included in Jesus’ genealogy.  I think it is amazing how God included one twin but not the other. This reminds me at the second coming of Christ, one will be taken and one will be left. Selah

Dec. 8 – (Foretelling - Gen. 49:10; Ps. 78:67,68; Fulfillment - Luke 3:33; Heb. 7:14) Messiah would come from the tribe of Judah.

                Gen. 49:10 is part of Jacob’s blessing on each of his sons, specifically Judah. As with the other blessings, Jacob sees the descendants of Judah in the light of Judah’s own personal qualities.  The nations will bring “tribute” (money or other gifts) and pledge their obedience to one of his descendants.  Jacob thus predicts the great empire of David, and the greater kingdom of Jesus Christ, the second David. Abraham’s blessing will come to the Gentiles as Christ includes them in his kingdom.  To emphasize Judah’s future royal status, he is compared to a lion, and one of his descendants will hold a scepter and a ruler’s staff. The royal line of Judah culminates with Jesus Christ.  I thought Heb. 7:14 was very interesting.  This confirms again that Jesus came from the tribe of Judah rather than the priestly tribe of Levi (I always wondered why Judah and not Levi).  Yet he qualifies as the eternal high priest because he is the Davidic Messiah, called both Lord and a priest after the messianic priestly order of Melchizedek (Ps. 110:1,4).

                DID YOU KNOW?  Shiloh has ever been taken to be a name of the Messiah (who knew? 😊). It means “peace” or “one sent”.  As the messiah, or Sent One, Jesus came before Judah lost its tribal identity.  Since He came, our Shiloh has had the obedience of countless people as the prophetic Word said He would (Gen.  49:10; ESV version says “… until tribute comes…”, while NKJ version says “…until Shiloh comes…”).

Dec. 9 – (Foretelling – Isa. 11:1,2; Fulfillment – Luke 3:33) Messiah would descend from King David

                We see many foretellings and fulfillments that Jesus would descend from King David.  In fact, he has the most.  I will only site a few.  God chose Jesse (David’s father) from whom Jesus would descend.  It amazes me that of the thousands of families in the tribe of Judah that an unknown family would become royalty.  Do you feel like a nobody?  An unknown? God chose you for such a time as this!

                Isaiah 11:1 says a Rod (ESV says a shoot) will come from the stem of Jesse.  When I read the word “rod” in the Bible, I always think of a correcting stick for sheep. Here it may mean a twig or shoot that comes up from the roots of a cut down tree.  Now that brings a whole new meaning to this foretelling!

                (Foretelling -2 Sam.7:12-13; Ps. 132:11; Isa. 9:7; Luke 1:32-33, Rom. 1:3) Messiah would be heir to King David’s throne.

Now it is your turn to dig out what God wants to reveal to you specifically in these verses! God speaks specifics to each of us as we study His Word!  Let’s hear Him and apply!

Dec. 10 – (Foretelling - Matt. 1:16; Luke 3:23; Num. 36:8; Isa. 9:6; 11:1; Matt. 1:20; Luke 2:4; Luke 1:32) Messiah would descend from Joseph.

                My, have I learned a lot from these verses!  I won’t explain it all but did you know that Mary and Joseph were probably cousins? Also, that according to the law he would marry her? All through the OT, characters are linked together by the word begat (to imply natural generation) but it is not applied with Jesus.  There is sooo much more but I want to end with this statement:  When Christ came to earth, He had two Josephs to care for Him – one when He was born, the other when He died.  The first Joseph was poor, the second rich.  Who was the first “Joseph” in your life?  If they are still alive, why not thank them? SELAH               






Nov. 27-Dec. 3 What You Don't Know About...

Nov. 27 – (Col. 4:10-11) Many times we get to the end of a book like Colossians and just cruise through the closing words like they read “sincerely yours” or “with love”.  I would like to spend a little more time understanding why these people are mentioned and how they connected with Paul.  We may get a deeper understanding of relationships back then and how we can apply these godly principles now.

                Aristarchus is the first person mentioned in our reading today. We will need to back up to Acts 19 to get some background on him. He was seized by the people of Ephesus in a conflict with silversmiths over the diminished sales of silver shrines of their goddess, Artemis.  The conflict of course, was because Paul was preaching the gospel and people were convicted of worshiping other idols. Aristarchus was dragged and beaten and barely escaped with his life in the riot in the theater of Ephesus (Acts 19).  He remained firm for what he believed and became a faithful servant of Paul in the arduous trial in Jerusalem and Caesarea. He also remained close to the Paul throughout the dangerous sea voyage to Rome (Acts 27:2), and obviously was imprisoned with Paul (Col. 4:10).  Doesn’t this give you more understanding why Paul appreciated him enough to even mention him?

                Next, we have Mark. This is John Mark, whose home in Jerusalem offered a “large upper room” where Passover and the Last Supper were eaten (Luke 22:7-13). This is also the upper room where Pentecost began and afterwards became the headquarters of the apostles.  Mark was part of the exciting events as the infant church grew. He was also persecuted by Saul of Tarsus and was among those scattered abroad under the purge of the Sanhedrin. After Paul’s conversion, Mark’s life became intertwined with the Apostle’s (Acts 12:25). These strong ties were broken when Mark defected at Perga (Acts 13:13). It seems his cousin Barnabas nursed him back to spiritual health after that failure (Acts 15:37-39).  Then Peter helped him grow up in Christ (I Peter 5:13). Though it took years for his broken relationship with Paul to be healed, reconciliation did come about. Paul was the initiator of the reconciliation. He called for Mark to join him, after refusing to take Mark on his second missionary journey.  Paul not only wanted to reconcile but wanted Mark to work alongside him. This challenges us to think about those we have written off for one reason or another.  Selah!

Nov. 28 – (Col. 4:12-13) Epaphras had already been mentioned by Paul at the opening of this letter.  He was an evangelist that founded the Colossian church.  Paul tells the church that Epaphras is always wrestling (or agonizing) in prayer for them (4:12).  It was suggested that he may have come to meet with Paul and then was imprisoned with him (Philemon 23).  However it happened, Epaphras was imprisoned with Paul and away from the church he had founded.  Though he was not physically with them, he interceded for them.  The main thing Epaphras prayed was that they may “stand mature and fully assured in all the will of God”.  Who do you know who prays for you?  Does it encourage you?  Who do you “agonize” in prayer over? Selah               

Nov. 29 – (Col. 4:14-16) It seems Luke traveled with Paul since Troas, which was years before this letter was written (implied in Acts 16:10), when author Luke begins using the pronoun “we”. Luke was Paul’s constant companion. Not only was Paul encouraged and inspired by Luke’s intellectual and spiritual depth, but we got the gospel of Luke and Acts because of this ministering together!  Luke seems just as vested in the Colossian church maturing as the founder Epaphras even though he had not even met that church.  Isn’t it wonderful how God puts people together?  Isn't it wonderful when intercessors pray for those they have never met? Yes, you are an intercessor if you pray for those you have not met! Who has God put in our life that is godly encouragement?  Why not let them know? 

                There is so much I am learning about these people Paul “mentions in closing”.    Let me be brief about the others in these two verses.  Paul only mentioned Demas’ name.  It seems Paul suspected Demas was struggling with worldly pressure and later deserts Paul (2 Tim. 4:10) due to those pressures.

                Nympha housed the Laodicean church as was normal at that time.  Paul’s concern for the Laodicean Christians was justified.  It was not any easier to be a Christian in a prosperous, wealthy city than in a philosophically confused Colossae.  It won’t be may years until the Lord spoke a word of judgment through John on Patmos, telling of their lukewarm condition (Rev. 3:15-16).  Note also the Lord then followed that judgment with a word of hope (Rev. 3:19-20).

Nov. 30 – (Col. 4:17-18) Archippus in the Colossian church is reminded of an assignment Paul had given him.  Paul was encouraging Archippus to fulfill completely what the Lord had given him.  This sounds like discipleship to me.  Who are you discipling?  Who is discipling you?  We need both!

Dec. 1 – (Ps. 66:1-7) I know we just past Thanksgiving but I want to spend a couple days being thankful for who God is and what He has done.  One of my favorite ways for me to do this is to read the Psalms.  I would like to finish this week with Psalm 66. 

                What if we repeated these verses every day as we wake?  Or what if we recount all His marvelous deeds in the middle of the night when we can’t sleep?  Many times, I do just that.  Being a kindergarten teacher for many years has trained my brain to put anything and everything in alphabetical order.  When I can’t sleep, I will thank God for who He is by going through the alphabet.  “God thank You that you are Awesome and All-knowing.”  “You are the Bread of my life and I thank You for providing all I need.” There are so many words to describe Who He is and what He has done for us that I can use several for almost every letter. It is amazing how many times, my anxious thoughts change to peace and I can fall back asleep in the middle of my recitation!

Dec. 2 – (Ps. 66:8-12) This writer has known trials and tribulation but he also knows that God used it “for His good” (which also means for our good).  I love verse 12: “…We went through fire and through water; but You brought us out to rich fulfillment.”  Yes, we go through things but as we really depend on the Lord, He will bring us to a much better place and fulfillment

Dec. 3 – (Ps. 66:13-20) In verses 13-15, the focus now shifts from Israel as a whole to a particular worshiper.  A person in Israel (including sojourners) could make a vow to the Lord in a time of need. He could fulfill the vow with burnt offerings or vow offerings (v. 13).  If you look at Lev. 22:18 and Num. 15:3, you see examples of this.  The psalm presents such offerings as joyful occasions.

                Verse 16-20 expresses a need to praise God.  There are so many ways to thank God for all He has done and for who He is.  Let’s practice some of them out loud today! 

Nov.20-26 Give Thanks With a Grateful Heart!

Nov. 20 – (Col. 3: 18-19) For many years these two verses has been debated and redefined.  I still don’t think we have a good handle on what God was saying through Paul’s words.  Of course, it’s the definition of the word “submit” with which we are having trouble.  How do you define this word? Are there conditions to it? As we heard on Sunday we need to attach the next part…”as is fitting in the Lord”. What we do “in the Lord” changes all our doing.  That is where we need to go as we struggle to interpret this verse and live it out.

                Verse 19 is just a little easier for me to understand.  It helps to include Ephesians 5:25. “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.”  If husbands constantly loved their wives as Christ loves the church, so much He died for them, can you imagine how the wives would submit (however you define it) to them?  We all fall short in our part as compared to Christ but we keep working at it. 

Nov. 21 – (Col. 3:20-21) Now Paul is instructing children.  Paul’s words to children reflect the fifth commandment.  I found myself saying, “Oh yeah, it is one of the commandments!”  It is another reminder that while Jesus completed the works of the Old Testament, the commandments are still true and need to be remembered and obeyed.  Now though we have the Holy Spirit to guide us in obedience of those commands while we know we are seen righteous before God because it is through Jesus’ blood and victory over the commands we may break.  Thank you so much Jesus!   As a parent, it is difficult to train our children to obey.  We need to remember that along with keeping them safe and healthy (by obeying) it is pleasing to the Lord. 

Nov. 22 – (Col. 3: 22- 4:1) Being a bondservant in NT times was different from the cruel institution of slavery in North America during the seventeenth through the nineteenth centuries.  Bondservants (also slaves and servants) generally were permitted to work for pay and to save enough to buy their freedom. Matt. 25:15 shows servants that were entrusted with immense amounts of money and responsibility.  This puts a whole new light on this passage, doesn’t it?

Nov. 23 – (Col. 4:2) We could say volumes about this one sentence. Let’s just concentrate on 3 phrases about prayer: 1. Continue steadfastly 2. Be watchful 3. With thanksgiving. Who do you steadfastly pray for specifically?  I must admit; my habit is to pray for a specific person for a while and then they kind of drop off my radar until I feel a need to start back up.  Is that steadfast praying for them?  Hmm

What are we watchful for when we do pray? Are we watchful to pray God’s will and not our own?  Then, are we thankful for our God who has only good planned…no matter the outcome we see with our eyes?  Selah

Nov. 24 – (Col. 4:3-4) Paul began this letter by telling the Colossians that he was thanking God for them and praying for them. He now draws toward a close by asking them to do the same for him.  No matter how “mature” we are in Christ, we still need the prayers of the youngest Christians.  We need each other.  I think Paul was trying to get this idea across.

                Paul also knew he could talk all he wanted but unless God opened a door for the Word to go through, he would just be talking to the air. Prayer is a key for those doors to open.  When have you seen a door open for you in response to the prayers of other Christians?  Be thankful to God and those praying for you.

Nov. 25 – (Col. 4:5-6) How do we regard “those who are outside”?  Verses 5-6 gives us some help.  Disciplined thought and planning should go into sharing Christ’s love with others. How about when non-Christians act like non-Christians?  How do you react…or act? Thank wisely about your response… “Grace be with you. Amen”

Nov. 26 – (Col. 4:7-9) Tychicus was a native of Asia Minor.  He was a member of Paul’s ministry team (Acts. 20:4). He will carry this letter, as well as Ephesians and Philemon (Eph. 6:21-22), and bring them news about Paul.  How do you think Paul felt about Tychicus? If there is anyone you know like him, communicate to them how valuable they are to the Lord. 

Nov. 13-19 Are You A Dead Man Walking?

Nov. 13 – (Col. 2:20-23) When we get weary from trying to “figure out” Christianity we tend to take the easy path to accepting rules and regulations rather than a relationship with Jesus Christ.  It’s easier. Why does Paul characterize the “fundamentalist” behavior as worldly (vv. 20-23)?

 I am a dead man walking.  I am dead to sin and alive to Christ.  This is something that helps me put everything into perspective and aims me in the right direction.  Name some of the things we are dead to, in this passage. Replace them with the things we are “alive to “in Christ.

Nov. 14 – (Col. 3:1) We are raised with Christ. Christ is now seated at the right hand of God (Ps. 110:1; Eph. 1:20). He has a position of authority.  If we are with Him, then we have authority if we are seeking the things above.  Conversely, what happens with our authority when we are not seeking “things above”? Do we relinquish those things to the enemy for that time?  Selah

Nov. 15 – (Col. 3:2-4) Paul says to “set your minds on things above, not on things that are on earth.”  Is worry “things above”? Is anxiety “things above”?  Just verses 1-4 can be a checkup to help us see where we may be missing the mark (of the high calling) Let’s ponder that and adjust.  Pray and ask the Holy spirit to show you…you. 😊

Nov. 16 – (Col. 3:5-7) Because we believers have died with Christ, we can overcome sinful practices. Then why do we continue in some?  Our mind has not yet been renewed (changed to think and then act as Jesus does) in that area.  This is something we will work on until God takes us home.  

Nov. 17 – (Col. 3:8-11) in verses 5-11 Paul names two fundamental areas of behavior as typical of the old lifestyle that is now to be abandoned.  They have to do with sex on the one hand and speech on the other. They are two central areas of human life, both involving enormous potential for good and for evil.  Even though some pretend that such things are purely private matters, how does wrongdoing in these two areas of life lead to problems for a community? Next question: Is one area a “greater sin” than the other?  I don’t think so. So…how do we do away with these two areas of our lives?  We renew our minds by His Word and the Holy Spirit, repent and replace with His ways of thinking and responding.

Nov. 18 – (Col. 3:12-14) I think the key to forgiving one another is to remember (in each moment) what Jesus did so you are completely forgiven. It’s so easy to say, but the habit of remembering in each moment is just a little bit harder.  Is it easier to forgive someone when you know they love you?  Genuine love really does make a significant difference in this forgiveness process. 

                Being tenderhearted doesn’t mean being sentimental.  Being kind doesn’t mean being a soft touch. Humility isn’t the same thing as low self-esteem.  Meekness is not weakness. How might you instead define each character trait? How is the foundation of strength and confidence in Christ’s love and peace the deciding factor in each?

Nov. 19 – (Col. 3:15-17) How do we “do everything in word and deed in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ…”? It is only in His power.  It is only through knowing when we don’t get it right, that He loves us just as much as any other time. It is also by being thankful to Him for all He has and is doing in our lives.  Let me share a Life Lesson Max Lucado’s Inspirational Study Bible that brought peace and encouraging insight into this passage.

                If people love you at 6:30 in the morning, one thing is sure: they love you.  They don’t love your title.  They don’t love your style. They don’t love your accomplishments. They just love you… Sounds like God’s love.

                “He has made perfect forever those who are being made holy,” wrote another. Underline the word perfect. Note that the word is not better.  Not improving. Not on the upswing. God doesn’t improve; He perfects. He doesn’t enhance; He completes. What does the perfect person lack?

                Now I realize that there’s a sense in which we’re imperfect. We still err. We still stumble. We still do exactly what we don’t want to do.  And that part of us is, according to the verse, “being made holy.” But when it comes to our position before God, we’re perfect.  When He sees each of us, He sees one who has been made perfect through the One who is perfect - Jesus Christ…

                You are absolute perfection.  Flawless.  Without defects or mistakes. Unsullied. Unrivaled. Unmarred. Peerless. Virgin pure. Undeserved yet unreserved perfection.

                No wonder Heaven applauds when you wake up.  A masterpiece has stirred.  (From In the Eye of the Storm by Max Lucado)

Nov. 6-12 Ask "Google"...Ask The Holy Spirit

Nov. 6 – (Col. 2:1-3) In libraries and especially on the Internet we can find mountains of information.  My grandson, Cohen, is frequently asking me a question about something with which I don’t know the answer (ex. What does a giraffe do when he is hot and cold at the same time? How do gears work?).  I then ask “Google” and can usually give him answers to his questions.  I immensely enjoy helping him get information that teaches him how his “world works”.  How do we get answers to our questions?  I mean spiritual questions.  We need to be asking the Holy Spirit.  

Paul says we find “all the hidden treasures of wisdom and knowledge” in Christ (v. 3).  How might Paul understand the difference between information on the one hand, and wisdom and knowledge on the other

DID YOU KNOW?  Laodicea was the nearest city to Colossae, only 9 miles away.  There seems to be a close relationship between these churches.

Nov. 7 – (Col. 2:4-5) Have you ever been fooled or at least enticed by plausible-sounding lies about Christian living?  If so, what was the outcome?  If not, how did you discern the falsehood?  How can we help newer Christians by-step this pitfall?  Who can you encourage in this way today? 

                I am stuck on “…rejoicing to see your good order and the firmness of your faith in Christ.”  One description suggested it’s like troops ready for battle.  How would that apply to the Colossians? Does that apply to us today? Hmmm

Nov. 8 – (Col. 2:6-7) In these verses, Paul uses the three word pictures of a journey, putting down healthy roots and a building being built.  What do the three have in common?  How have you found your life in Christ to resemble a journey? What healthy roots have you developed?  What healthy roots are you currently developing?  How far are you on your building? Write down specifics as a guideline, thanking God for how far you have come and asking for wisdom in how He wants you to develop from here.

 Nov. 9 – (Col. 2:8-10) Whatever new idea someone comes up with, Paul says, this is the acid test: Is it “in line with the King” (v. 2:8)?  Does it have Jesus, the Messiah, the Lord, as its center and focus?  If not, beware.  What practical steps can a Christian take to “watch” and not be captured by false ideas? How do you decide what is true?  If our plum line is off, then our final thoughts and actions will also be off.  Selah

Nov. 10 – (Col. 2:11-12) One explanation of these verses made more sense to me.  In circumcision, “putting off” a small piece of human flesh is trivial by comparison to “putting off” an entire way of life, an entire sphere of existence.  “The body of flesh” is the unregenerate nature that holds us in bondage. It is virtually the same as “body of this death” (Rom. 7:24) or “body of sin” (Rom. 6:6).  From this bondage, deliverance is promised by a cutting free from bondage through salvation. Paul was arguing against who say that while Christ is perfectly fine, we just need to add some other bit to make our spiritual life truly complete.  Let’s think about what we have personally added to our faith in Christ.  “Jesus show us what needs to be cut out so it is You Only.”

Nov. 11 – (Col. 2:13-15) Paul is using the term “record of debt” as a legal term to describe each person’s debt to God because of sin.  God himself has mercifully resolved this debt by nailing it to the cross, where Jesus paid the penalty.  The image comes from the notices posted on a cross by the Roman authorities.  These declared the crime for which the criminal was being executed (John 19:19-22).

                In verse 15 it says, “He disarmed the rulers and authorities”. On the cross, demonic powers were stripped of their power to accuse Christians before God.  God sees you righteous through the blood of Jesus Christ! Thank you, Jesus!!!

                DID YOU KNOW?  The term “put them to shame” was the same term used in Matt. 1:19 to refer to Joseph’s unwillingness to expose Mary to public shame.  The cross publicly reveals the failure of the demonic powers to defeat God’s plan of salvation through Christ (I Cor. 2:6-8).

Nov. 12 – (Col. 2:16-19) How is Paul saying we should respond when people try to entice us with particular styles of piety or devotion other than single-minded devotion to Jesus? At Christian Assembly, we offer different types of music, different instruments, different ways to worship because “1 size does not fit all”.  As you find ways that really “usher you into His presence”, thank Him and respond.  If some don’t necessarily do the same, know that it is touching others and respond to Him anyway!   Selah

Oct. 30-Nov. 5 Do You Qualify?

Oct. 30 – (Col. 1:1-2) Let’s get a little background as we read and study Colossians.  Paul wrote this letter to Christians living in the small city of Colossae.  It was probably written C. A.D. 62, while Paul was in prison in Rome (acts 27-28).  This was about the same time he wrote Ephesians and Philemon.  All three letters were sent with Tychicus and Onesimus.

                A dangerous teaching was threatening the church at Colossae, one that lessened Christ’s role and undermined the new identity of believers “in Christ” (1:2, 28).  Paul wrote to warn against this false teaching and to encourage the believers in their growth toward Christian maturity.  He emphasizes Christ’s authority over all evil powers. Christians are united with the risen Christ, and therefore they share in His power and authority.  Paul also encourages these to fight against sin, pursue holiness, and live as distinctive Christian homes.

                Have you ever planted a garden (or even just one flower or vegetable) from seed? You put it in the ground, cover it with rich soil, water it, and wait.  After a week or two you see green things pushing up out of the soil and it’s just amazing that something you initiated, God did His work and wa-la you have growth and a beginning that only God can create and transform, as you are faithful to nurture it.  I think Paul felt this way about the Christians at Colossae.  To what extent would you say the seed of “the word of truth, the Gospel” is evident (growing up out of the dirt) in your own life?  Okay then, how are you “planting seeds” in another person’s life?  “Grace to you and peace from God our Father (Col. 1:2 b).”

Oct. 31 – (Col. 1:3-8) “We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you.” Who do you pray for?  How often do you pray for them?  Do you thank God for everyone you pray for?  Do you thank God and pray for those you are struggling with??   Selah!

Nov. 1 – (Col. 1:9-10) If you are going to memorize any passage and put it to use this week verses 9-14 might be it. Let me just repeat them. “For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and long suffering with joy; giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light.  He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.” Amen

                What would it do if we just prayed verses 9-10 over those in our prayer list?  What if you had all those who pray for you, praying these 2 verses for you?  Have you ever thought about people who pray for you?  It connects and ties you to them in a most binding way!  We are brothers and sisters in Christ!

Nov. 2 – (Col. 1:11-14) “Giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.” I’m stuck on that word qualified.  God qualified me to share in the inheritance of the saints!  We know how He chose to do it.  He did it by sending His only Son to die for all the things I’ve done or will do that disqualify me.  Yes, I am so thankful!  This is amazing love!

Nov. 3 – (Col. 1:15-20) These verses brings to light one of those mysteries of the triune God.  It brings Jesus in as creator of the world (vv. 15-17) and the supreme redemption of the world He created (vv. 18-20).  If we are going to continue to grow we need to realize and remember (as Paul was needing the Colossae Christians to know) that Christ is the creator and the redeemer of our lives.  In this realization, how does that affect your home and family life, your work and volunteer life, your church and your life as a citizen?

Nov. 4 – (Col. 1:21-23) The people of Colossae were a people who were considered outsiders to the Jewish people, never allowed or invited in. But now the death of King Jesus has opened the door for the Colossian Christians to be warmly welcomed in and learning to become an heir of the king… a son or daughter.  This was Paul’s joy, to suffer so they would know what that invitation was all about and more importantly who had the authority to send that invitation to them.

Nov. 5 – (Col. 1:24-29) “…I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions…” (v. 24).  This phrase does not mean there is any deficiency in Christ’s atoning death and suffering on the cross (see Heb. 9:12, 24-26; 10:14).  What was “lacking” in Christ’s afflictions was the future suffering that Paul and others will experience for the sake of the gospel (compare Phil. 2:30), where Paul tells the Philippians that Epaphroditus risked his life “to complete what was lacking in your service to me”.  This gives us a better picture, doesn’t it?  It’s amazing to me how I can read the scriptures and just float over phrases that don’t really make sense but when I take time to study and little more, it brings more “light” to the meaning.  Study on dear pilgrim!

Oct. 23-29 AGAIN...I SAY RE-JOY-CE!!

Oct. 23 – (Phil. 4:1) This is one verse and yet there is so much to ponder.  How do we “love” and “long for” our brothers and sisters?  What about those “brothers and sisters” with which we are at odds?  What are you standing firm on?  How are you standing firm?  Someone once said that waiting on the Lord is not a sedentary thing.  I would say “standing firm” is a busy activity as well!

Oct. 24 – (Phil. 4:2-3) There are so many key verses here to “live by”!  Paul makes a special appeal to 2 women who are in conflict.  Has this ever happened to you or someone you know and love?  How was it handled in a positive and healing manner? 

Oct. 25 – (Phil. 4:4-7) There are several passages in here that we need to breathe daily (even moment by moment).   Verse 4 reminds me of a very old chorus we used to sing.  “Rejoice in the Lord always and again I say rejoice….”  Oh, the power of music!  It either encourages us in the Lord or in the flesh (you know Lucifer was the head of worship before he fell…. right?)  Choose a song to sing through this day that will bring you joy and put God back in control over all your thoughts today.   I dare you!

Oct. 26 – (Phil. 4:8-9) Verse 8 was another of our key verses in the “Loving God with all your Mind” Bible study.  Can you imagine what your life would be like if this is all you could think about? I don’t know how many thoughts a person has in a day.  Probably millions.  Can you imagine taking each of those thoughts captive and examining them?  I have a thought….it is true? Is it honorable… just…. pure… lovely… commendable…excellent…worthy of praise? I know it takes discipline but if we practice this a little more every day… then a year from now …. WOW!!!

Oct. 27 – (Phil. 4:10-13) Paul had a wonderfully effective ministry planting churches and mentoring or coaching (today’s lingo) them to grow in Him.  I did not realize his public ministry lasted only about 10 years!  It makes me stop and think who I have affected in the last 10 years.  I think we all should ponder that, and then figure out what God really sees in us and do it.  How do we do that?  Again, Paul had the answer in verse 13!  “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Selah!!

Oct. 28 – (Phil. 4:14-20) How had the Philippians turned out to be different from other churches Paul had started (vv. 15-16)?  According to Paul, what blessings come from sacrificial giving (vv. 18-19)?  We stand on this promise today! 

Oct. 29 – (Phil. 4:21-23) There was a lot of “greeting” going on…even Caesar’s household!  Paul is encouraging the greetings at the end of the letter.  We greet at the beginning.  I know there is some significance in all of this but I don’t have a grasp on it yet.  Anyone want to do some study? 

As we leave Philippians, let’s do a review of the theme of this book – Joy and Rejoicing:

1:4 – Prays with joy.

1:18 – Rejoices that Christ is proclaimed.

1:25 – Will remain living on earth, for the Philippians’ joy in the faith.

2:2 -  Asks the Philippians to complete his joy.

2:17-18 – Is glad and rejoices with the Philippians.

2:28 – Sends Epaphroditus, that the Philippians might rejoice.

2:29 -  Tells the Philippians to receive Epaphroditus with joy.

3:1 - Tells the Philippians to rejoice in the Lord.

4:1 – Tells the Philippians they are his joy.

4:4 – tells the Philippians twice to rejoice in the Lord.

4:10 -  Rejoiced in the Lord at the Philippians’ concern for him.


Oct. 16-22 Re-JOY-Ce In The Lord Always!

 Oct. 16 – (Phil. 2:14-18) In verse 14 Paul urges the Philippians to do all things without complaining and disputing. It’s interesting to note here that Paul is telling them to shine as lights in a crooked and twisted generation. Paul’s choice of words recalls the wilderness generation of Israel, who in Deut. 32:5 are described by these very words (“crooked and twisted generation”). Do you think “we Christians” can ever get to this place? It sounds like it took the Israelites hundreds of years and a Savior but it happened! It didn’t happen in a week or a month or even a year. Let’s work on this…little by little!

                In verse 15, Paul is quoting Daniel 12:3, which speaks of “the wise” – meaning Israelites skilled in knowing and applying God’s law, even in persecution.  Who can you name that are such “lights” today?

Oct. 17 – (Phil. 2:19-24) How is Timothy different from the others Paul has worked with (vv.20-21)?  Friends like Timothy are SO important whether you are a Minister of a church or a minister of HIS “church” (we all should be ministers of His gospel if we confess faith in Him). 

                What is the connection between looking after the interests of others (2:4) and looking after the interests of Jesus the Messiah (v. 21)?

Oct. 18 – (Phil. 2:25-30) Epaphroditus had carried the Philippians’ gift to Paul (we’ll see that in 4:18).  What had then happened which caused anxiety for everyone involved (vv. 25-27)?  How does Paul show his own vulnerability to the Philippians in these verses?  Paul expresses thanks that Epaphroditus recovered, sparing him from having “one sorrow piled on top of another” (v. 27).  How do you respond to the idea that Paul would have been stricken with sorrow if Epaphroditus had died? How does Paul demonstrate that he was looking after the Philippians’ interests and not only his own (vv.28-30)?

Paul’s description of Epaphroditus reminds us of the vital truth that we are all of us, whether first-century apostles or twenty-first-century converts, expected to be fully human beings, facing all that life throws at us and being honest about the results.  Paul didn’t need or want to hide from the young church, from his own converts. He was not afraid to admit to his own troubles. Who has been a Timothy or an Epaphroditus in your life?  In what ways?  Why not let them know how much you appreciate them?

Oct. 19 – (Phil. 3:1-6) “Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord.”  Did you get that?  Sometimes I think (erroneously) that I’m supposed to rejoice in my defeats and struggles.  This has reminded me yet again to rejoice in the LORD!  He is constantly: loving, protecting, providing, delivering, and working for the good of all who believe on Him!   “Lord, we rejoice in You for who you are!!!”

                “…who worship by the Spirit of God….” How often do we really worship by the Spirit of God and how often are we worshiping through our flesh?  This is my “ponderable” today.

Oct. 20 – (3:7-11) What does Paul say is his profit and his loss? “Knowing King Jesus as my Lord is worth far more than everything else put together (v.8)”.  Can you totally say that?  Here is what I think he is saying: It’s like an accounts balance in a way. Take all the wonderful, great, and good things you are or have done and write them down.  Then put them on the debit side. These are not deposits.  There is no credit for any of it whether you did something good or were someone good.  Now discover you have something to put on the credit side in comparison with which everything else can be a debit.  That is someone, Jesus the Messiah, through whose faithfulness to the point of death you are declared right with God.  No matter what you’ve done, who your family is or was.  Your belief that Jesus died because of your sin and rose in victory and your loyalty to Him are the sign that you have a credit balance consisting simply of Him.  This credit completely covers all your debits including the future debits!  This is Paul’s famous doctrine of Justification by faith.  Selah

                What relationship does Paul draw between resurrection and suffering (vv. 10-11)?

Oct. 21 – (Phil. 3:12-16) We did a Bible study a while ago on “Loving God with all your Mind” by Elizabeth George. Verse 13 became one of our key verses. “Forgetting the things which are behind” meant the good and the bad.  If we live on past successes, we won’t walk in the “new thing God wants us to succeed in.  Of course, if we continue to play those failures through our mind, then we get frozen in the past and can’t move on.  Don’t you just love how all the “good” God has for us is explained in His Word?

Oct. 22 – HAPPY, HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO MY WONDERFUL HUSBAND!  Each year, as we get “older” I see more ways to thank God He put us together over 43 years ago! 

(Phil. 3:17-21) Do you have tears for those who “walk as enemies of the cross”?  Who would you would say that is in your life?  Do you pray for them?  How do you pray for them?  Selah