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


Oct. 9 – (Phil. 1:19-26) Do you ever get discouraged that those “weaker Christians” you are trying to encourage in the Lord seem to be going backwards in their faith and walk?  Take courage…have patience.  Continue the “good work” God has put in you to do until He calls you home. 

Oct. 10 – (Phil. 1:27-30) “Only let your manner of life be “worthy of the gospel of Christ…”  Why is it important for Christians’ public behavior to match up with the gospel?  Everyone has a specific plum line with which to measure.  Is it a person? A friend? A pastor?  Is it an historical figure?  Any human will make mistakes…will fail.  Yet that is who we use many times to see if we are measuring up.  What pressure we put on that person.  Yet in our humanity we look for an earthly being.  Let’s be reminded, Christ is the plum line.  As we look to Him for our salvation, let’s also look to him more conscientiously for the “role model”.

                In verse 27, Paul also urges the Philippians to stand firm “with a single spirit, struggling side by side with one united intent for the faith of the gospel”.  What is that “one united intent”?

Oct. 11 – ((Phil. 2:1-2) How does the comfort and encouragement that comes from unity motivate us toward unity with each other in Christ (v. 1)?  

                Paul is not saying we bring our thinking in line with each other.  What instead is to be the center around which Christians unite?  Christians have theological differences, smoldering resentments from events of long ago, and radical variations of styles of worship, personality cults, and clashes over leadership style and arguments on issues of moral behavior.  How can you and your Christian community work lovingly to overcome tensions like these with fellow Christians? 

                What are some practical ways to regard others as more important than you are?

Oct. 12 – (Phil. 2:3-4) Paul is realizing that everyone naturally looks out for his or her own interests.  The key is to take that same level of concern and apply it also to the interests of others.  Such radical love is rare, so Paul shows its supreme example in Jesus’ life in verses 5-11.

                A while back, the Lord had been really dealing with me in this area.  I think I want to share it in hopes that someone else can be helped by my sharing. One day I was worshipping at church and got this picture of us all worshipping around the throne.  It was sooo glorious until as I was thinking who would be worshipping with me in this most wonderful place. I thought of someone who had so deeply wounded me I have struggled with life itself.  As I thought of them, I immediately thought “I don’t want them anywhere near me!”  And I immediately knew I had to do something about that sinful attitude.  But how do you change an emotion that words “I forgive you…again”, don’t change your attitude.  Well, as I fasted and prayed and asked God to show me the root, He was faithful.  Long story short, He took me back to infancy and childhood and showed me some experiences that the enemy used to form “wrong thinking”.  As I saw some of the reasons, it gave me understanding and I could forgive more thoroughly. He also gave me scripture to replace the “old thoughts” with a renewed mind.  Not too long after that I was again in worship at church and I saw “the bad” of my whole life filtered through God’s loving hands to bring good (Rom. 8:28-29). Then as I had my hands up in worship I realized I was joyfully holding the hands with the person I formally said I didn’t want there.  I was ecstatic and so very thankful for this freedom!  God is good. God always does good.  God always brings good out of our life when we surrender to His ways!  (This was a great sermon series by Pastor Torry many years ago, but these phrases have always have stuck with me!)

Oct. 13 – (Phil. 2:5-8) In verse 7, it says “He emptied Himself”. The Greek can also mean “give up status and privilege”.  Paul is not saying that Christ became less than God or gave up any of His divine attributes. I think Paul is saying that even though Christ had all the privileges of being King of the universe, He gave them up to become a Jewish baby bound for the cross.  He had every right to stay in a position of power, but His love for sinful mankind drove him to accept a lowly position.  The “emptying” consisted of His becoming human, not of giving up any part of His true deity.

Oct. 14 – (Phil. 2:9-11) “At the name of Jesus, every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth…”  In Isa. 45:23, it says “Every knee shall bow…”  The meanings are quite different. Anyone want to do some research and get back to me?  Maybe it is that last part (those under the earth).  Again, who feels like doing research?  

Oct. 15 – (Phil. 2:12-13) Here are two small verses, yet it takes a life time to do them.  I am reminded yet again that we are saved when we accept Christ and ask forgiveness for our sin.  But we continue to work out our salvation for the rest of our lives here on earth.  How do we do that?  We do that by reading His Word and applying it to our life.  As we see wrong attitudes, motivations, and actions we repent and are “saved” from the ramifications of those sins here on earth.  Here’s how I view it.  At salvation, we become completely righteous in God’s sight because He now sees us through the filter of Jesus’ blood that has cleansed us.  And though we are righteous in His sight, we still have the worldly mindset that we acquired up to that point of decision.  Our minds and motivations need to be renewed so we can think like Jesus.  That is a life time of renovation but take joy… as we apply His word, we are doing just that!  You are doing that right now as you study His Word!  Way to go!

Oct. 2-8 Joy in Prison...hmm

Oct. 2 – (James 5) We have an answer to all of life in verses 13-18. It is prayer. Prayer is a mysterious thing.  Is it talking with your Father? Yes. Is it asking Him for things like healing and wisdom and provision? Yes. Is it thanking Him for all that He is and what He provides? Yes, and so much more.  James says in these verses: When afflicted…pray.  When sick…pray.  When corrupted by sin…pray.  When specific needs occur…pray.  Prayer is to be continuous and not for emergencies only.  Prayer is designed for every part of life.  Prayer is not a substitute for responsibility and intelligent thinking.  Prayer is for anyone humble enough to admit they need help…a Savior…a teacher…a counselor…a friend.

Oct. 3 – (Phil. 1:1-2) Again Max Lucado has a wonderful perspective on the bigger picture surrounding Paul as he writes to the Christians at Philippi.  Read the attachment for a different viewpoint:   Introduction to the Epistle of Paul to the Philippiansby Max Lucado

                Perhaps the symbol of recent generations is the exercise bike.  It represents what most have-excess weight.  It represents what most want-to be different.  It represents what most people spend most their time doing-pedaling furiously and getting nowhere.  High activity but low achievement.  Car pools, diapers, bills, time clocks.  Office walls painted grey with routine.  Houses framed with wooden humdrum.  For many, life is lived on the exercise bicycle. Day after day in the same seat, doing the same thing but seeing the same scenery.  Is there any end to this tunnel of greyness?  There is.

                Go with me back in history a couple of thousand years.  Let’s go to the city of Rome.  The thrilling metropolis of gladiators, chariots, and empires.  But don’t stop at the coliseum or palace.  Go rather to a drab little room, surrounded by high walls.  Let’s imagine that we can peek into the room and look. Inside we see a man seated on the floor.  He’s an older fellow, shoulders stooped, and balding.  Chains are on his hands and feet.  And chained to him is a guard from the Roman army.  It is the apostle Paul.  The apostle who has traveled all over the world.  The apostle who has liberated people in every port.  The apostle who was bound only by the will of God is now in chains-stuck in a dingy house-attached to a Roman officer

                Here is a fellow who has every reason to be in a slump!  He is restricted by walls.  He is afflicted by friends (v. 15).  He is conflicted by danger (v.21).  He is writing a letter. No doubt it is a complaint letter to God.  No doubt it is a list of grievances. No doubt he is writing the New Testament version of Lamentations.  He has every reason to be bitter and complain. But he doesn’t.  Instead, he writes a letter that two thousand years later is still known as the treatise on joy. 

                Sound interesting?  Of course it does.  Who couldn’t use a guide to joy in this world?  Why don’t you spend some time with it?  Dismount the bicycle to nowhere and follow Paul as he guides you down the trail to peace. (By Max Lucado)

                I love verse 2.  It is one short sentence but has so much meaning.  As we receive the grace God gives us each day…each moment, then we will have peace for each day…each moment.  Selah

Oct 4. – (Phil. 1:3-6) These short verses have so much packed in them!  “…being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ…”  God has begun a “good work” in you… and me! Is it done yet? Of course it’s not but we continue to allow the Holy Spirit to change us into His image.  It is a lifelong process that should give us hope as we look forward to seeing Him face to face!

Oct. 5 – (Phil. 1:7-8) Why is it right for Paul to feel the way he does about the Philippians? Philippi (in northern Greece) was the first place in Europe that heard the good news about Jesus (Acts 16). Even though Paul faced many difficulties, he comes through with his faith and hope untouched and so encouraged by the Philippians’ financial gift back to him.  You see, Paul was in prison (probably in Ephesus) and in that place, you usually were not fed.  You had to depend on friends to bring you food.  Can you imagine that today?  Anyway, Paul is writing a letter, a treatise on joy…. and part of the reason is because his fellow Philippian friends are “providing for him when he cannot provide for himself”!  Is the Christian church doing that today?

 Oct. 6 – (Phil. 1:9-11) I love verses 9-11.  “And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.”  Paul prays that the Philippians’ love will overflow in knowledge and wisdom (v.9). Can you imagine love being the overflow in knowledge and wisdom?  Wouldn’t that change our “delivery system”?  Paul also prays that this wise love will result in moral discernment (v.10).  that means acting from love born from wisdom and not our fleshly feelings. Finally, Paul prays that the Philippians may be filled to overflowing with the fruit of right living (v.11). This righteousness emphasizes the behavior which results from both God’s faithfulness and the status of being forgiven family members.  This is my prayer for us today!

Oct. 7 – (Phil. 1:12-14) “I want you to know brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel…” (v. 12) Do you ever feel that way?  Yes, it was a bad situation by the world’s view but you saw God touching lives through peoples’ observation or conversation with you about that situation.  The best recent example was one of our church family members has stage 4 cancer but went out on our “go” Sunday and spoke with an atheist.  Her approach was wanting to pay for what he was doing at the time (laundry) because he was loved and blessed by God.  You can imagine his denial of God or that there was no blessing given.  He began to expound on his challenges and how he got himself out of those situations.  He then asked her about her life.  She began to go down a list of all the good things she had and how blessed she was.  Her last item was that she had stage 4 cancer.  He could not understand her statements but as they volleyed back and forth, He finally ended by saying she had a strong faith in God.  (He just admitted there was a God!)  No, he did not accept Christ at that moment. We learned from Pastor Jeremy’s sermon the week before we went, that it takes at least 7-8 “connections” before someone comes to a decision about Christ (Some plant, some water, some witness the harvest).  The question I am asking myself is: In eternity, will the stage 4 cancer of a woman be more important than a man coming to accept Christ?  It brings me to consider my challenges as opportunities to show His glory.  Selah

Oct. 8 – (Phil. 1:15-18) Isn’t it amazing how God can be glorified even when people “don’t quite have it right? In these verses, Paul writes to encourage the church in Philippi, but his words ought also to be a great encouragement to us today.  How often are we tempted to feel discouraged because our plans were badly thwarted or because malicious people were trying to make life difficult?  We need to learn from Paul the art of seeing God’s purposes working out through problems and difficulties.


Sept. 25-Oct. 1 Are you doing well(James 2:8)?

Sept. 25 – (James 1:1-11) It is believed that the letter of James was likely written to predominantly Jewish Christian house churches outside of Palestine, based on its mention of the “twelve tribes in the Dispersion” (1:1), its distinctly Jewish content, and its focus on persecution and poverty.  This would mean it was sent throughout most of the ancient Mediterranean world.  The author was traditionally believed to be James, the brother of Jesus and an early leader of the church in Jerusalem.

                What produces patience (vv. 2-8)?  How do we get wisdom?  I love the book of James!  He has answers to many of my questions. Of course, the answer takes a life time of getting it into our thoughts and actions!

Sept. 26 – (James 1:12-18) What happens to the person who endures temptation (vv. 12-18)? Remember temptation is not sin!  It is when we give in to the temptation that brings sin!  Who tempts us?  What is the process to sinning? Here is how I see the process.  We have trials in this life. How we handle those trial is a test of faith in God. We are tempted to handle them the world’s way.  How we choose at this point decides if we sin or are strengthened in our faith. 

Sept. 27 – (James 1:19-27) What should we be swift to do (vv. 19-20)?  What two things should we be slow to do?  Not all anger is sinful (Eph. 4:26).  However, the quick-tempered, selfish anger of man shows a lack of trust in God and a lack of love for others.  Even when directed against wrong doing, anger cannot change another person’s heart.  Thus, it does not produce the righteousness of God.  Righteousness here means conducting one’s life by the will of God, per His standards (see Isa. 561:3; Matt. 5:6, 10, 20; 6:1,33).  This definition helps me see what the root of anger is:  a lack of trust in God and a lack of love for others.  Selah

Sept. 28 – (James 2:1-13) Are you doing well?  In other words, are you loving your neighbor as yourself?  We are not just talking about the ones who are easy to love.  I must stop and examine my thoughts about all my “neighbors”.  Selah

Sept. 29 – (James 2:14-26) When this chapter says “faith without works is dead”, does it mean “good works’ will get us the reward of heaven (14-26)?  Good works shows us our faith…it is not how we get faith.  The example was Rahab (Josh. 2:8-11).  She was a pagan among pagans but had seen or heard what God did for the Israelites in crossing the Red Sea and in conquering several kingdoms.  It brought faith to her so that her “works” that followed came from a place of knowing the Truth about God and acting on that Truth.  Let’s look today for a specific way to “act” in faith on some aspect of Truth you know.  Tell me what happens.  You may not save the whole Israeli people but you will be recorded in that final day as being faithful in this moment!  SELAH!

Sept. 30 – (James 3:1-12) Now we get to a sticky part.  Did you know that every time you talk about someone God has made (and of course He has made everyone!) you are either blessing or cursing them (vv. 8-10)?  Read it for yourself.  I’m trying to decide if he is talking about fellow Christians or any person on earth.  (Anyone want to do a word research?)  Either way, it gives me pause to think about how the words come out of my mouth.  Selah!

DID YOU KNOW?  Familiar word pictures.  The images James uses to describe the power of the tongue (vv.1-12) were well chosen to communicate to his original readers.  The Greek playwright Sophocles spoke of wild horses being tamed by a small bit in the mouth.  The Jewish philosopher Philo compared ones’ senses to a helmsman steering a boat.  And the Roman historian Plutarch compared a loose tongue to a blazing forest fire.

Oct. 1 – (James 3:13-18) The beginning of chapter 3 is a digression into the power and misuse of the tongue (vs. 2-12) but now returns to an admonition to Christian teachers.  Even though it is aimed at teachers, there is nothing there that can’t apply to every believer.  Every Christian needs to bring his tongue under control but we also need to demonstrate godly wisdom.  This section can be divided into three parts: the appeal to demonstrate true wisdom (v.13), the demonstration of earth bound wisdom (vv. 14-16), and the demonstration of higher wisdom (vv. 17-18).

                James mentions 7 marks of true wisdom: pure, peaceable, gentle, reasonable, merciful, unwavering, and without hypocrisy.  The seeds of gentleness and good works (v.13) – which bear the fruit (characteristics) of purity, peaceableness, gentleness, reasonableness, mercy with good fruits, principle, and integrity - result in peace.  Let’s examine each of these in our lives and shore up those weak areas.

Sept. 18-24 Are you encouraging future missionaries?

Sept. 18 – (I Tim. 4:6-16) Do you think our church (and the church at large) is evenly distributed generationally? I know we at C.A. are doing better but there is still much work to be done…each reaching as they are gifted and led.  We do have us older folks.  Yes! I am one of them.  But we still need to increase those younger folks (20-45).  This is the age that has children. So, if the adults are missing then it follows that the children will be also.   Why do you think that is?  I can speculate but I won’t.  All I know is verses 12-16 may help us improve on those numbers.  Will they do things differently than I would?  Of course, they will.  We did things differently than our parents and grandparents…. because the transportation (how we communicated that was relevant at the time) to reach our age group was different than how our parents and grandparents received.  It is the same with our kids and grandkids.  They will have a different way to reach the world (their age).  If we discourage them when they are trying to lead as God directs them, we may lose them and thus we may have lost those they would have reached….  Let’s encourage them, pray for them, and might I even suggest support them as they “go into all the world and preach the gospel”.  Selah 

Sept. 19 – (I Tim. 5:1-16) There are several kinds of relationships covered in these verses.  What guidelines are given about healthy family living within the church? What problems might creep in when these guidelines are not followed? 

                How can we balance the family life of all God’s people with our responsibilities in our own families? What problems is Paul trying to avoid by going into such detail on how to care for widows?  How do these instructions relate to situations we face in our own day?

Sept. 20 – (I Tim. 5:17-25) Honor (5:3, 17; 6:1) connects the three groups mentioned in these verses (widows, elders, masters).  There is a progression from “honor” for widows (5:3) to “double honor” for elders or pastors (5;17) to “all honor” for masters (6:1).  Each paragraph explains what “gospel living” looks like in relation to each group.

Sept. 21 – (I Tim. 6:1-10) What attitude does Paul tell the slaves to have toward their masters?  Why?

Where do you need to grow in respecting others who may not be seen by the world as your “equals” socially or economically?

Have you ever been around someone like a person described in verses 3-5?  They seem so spiritual in knowledge of the Word.  At first you may believe they have it all together.  As you listen (and that’s pretty much what you must do…because they love to hear themselves talk) to them dispute the meaning of words and theology of His Word, you realize it’s a one-way street.  It is not worth your time.  As Paul says, withdraw yourself. 

Sept 22 – (I Tim. 6:11-21) What are we to flee?  What are we to pursue? What are we to fight? What are we to lay hold on? What commandment are we to keep without spot and for how long? Selah

                What instructions are given to those who are rich in the world (17-19)?  What do you rely on money to do for you, and what do you rely on God for?  What is Paul getting at with the promise he makes about generosity?  What is the last warning in this book to Timothy?  How does that apply to us today? Selah                                        

Sept 23 – (Philemon 1-7) You have got to read Max Lucado’s introduction of this book.  It is sooo eye-opening as to the relevance of our lives today. And it brings a whole new focus to what this book is about.  

                Philemon had every reason to be angry.  His slave, Onesimus, had stolen from him and run away.  He had escaped to Rome, where he met Paul and became a believer.

                Now Onesimus is returning to Philemon.  Under normal circumstance, Philemon has the right to exact revenge.  But these are not normal circumstances, Paul explains.  Onesimus fled as a slave, he returns as a believer.

                Paul doesn’t ask Philemon to free Onesimus from slavery, but to free him from anger.  He urges Philemon to offer grace rather than demand justice.

                Does this short letter have any application for your life?  It does if there is an Onesimus in your world.  It does if someone has betrayed you or offended you or turned away from you.  What they did wasn’t right.  And to demand justice is only natural, which is precisely the problem.  Getting even is natural, it’s not spiritual. 

               As you consider how to respond, consider a higher law.  A law which sets all men, slave or nonslave, free.   (Introduction to the Epistle of Paul to Philemon)

                Pastor Torry did an excellent short series on forgiveness.  If you are struggling in this area, this might give you some keys to overcoming.  Here are the links to the series:

Part one:  https://vimeo.com/105300057; Part two:  https://vimeo.com/105743688

Part three:  https://vimeo.com/106643096

                Have you ever been a reconciler between people?  How did it play out?  Or maybe someone came to you to try to reconcile you with others.  How did you receive that? This is what Philemon is all about.  Philemon lived in Colossae and had probably become a Christian through Paul’s preaching.  Philemon owned slaves (as everyone with any substance had).  One of them, Onesimus, (which means useful) had run away (which was a capital offense) and probably took some of Philemon’s possessions.  Onesimus ran into Paul and through his influence became a Christian. Paul and Onesimus became friends and close partners in the gospel.  Paul eventually was going to ask much of both the Christian run-away slave and his Christian owner.  Paul was going to send Onesimus back to Philemon and ask Philemon to accept him back again without penalty and maybe even set him free.

                How would you describe the mood of these opening paragraphs of Paul’s letter?

                When Paul tells the people what he is praying for as he thinks of them, it often gives us a clue to the inner meaning of the letter.  What is Paul praying for Philemon, and what could his prayer have to do with Onesimus (v v.4-7)?

Sept. 24 – (Philemon 8-25) How does Paul give his own stamp of approval to and identify with Onesimus? How does Paul seek to persuade Philemon while still showing respect to him? How does Paul draw Philemon’s attention to the larger purposes of God (vv. 15-25)?

                When has, an apparent loss led you to recognize God at work?  Note any guidance this letter of Philemon offered to you for making appeals for reconciliation.  Ask the Lord to create opportunities to put this into practice.  May God’s power go with you!  Selah

DID YOU KNOW? How did a person become a bond-servant? Being a “bond-servant” in NT times (v. 16) was different from many of the more recent kinds of slavery.  Bond-servants were bound to serve their master for a specific period.  People did not necessarily become slaves because of their race, nor were they completely without legal rights. A person might become a slave as punishment for a crime or to pay off a debt.

Sept. 11-17 The Law VS. Holy Spirit-Led

Sept. 11 – (I Tim. 1:1-11) Paul wrote I Timothy to advise his coworker Timothy about issues that may cause our lives to go off course.  False Teachers are the main cause for the letter.  Their teaching apparently involved incorrect assumptions about the law (1:7-11) and not allowing marriage and certain foods (4:1-5).  Paul’s real concern is with the results of the false teaching.  For example, it promotes mere theories over solid truth (1:4; 6:4).  It also leads to arrogance (6:4) and greed 6:5-10).  Paul focuses on the fact that true Christianity is shown in lifestyles shaped by the gospel.  Those whose lives are not shaped by the gospel have turned away from the faith.  At C.A., we have been emphasizing and learning about how to reach the world around us.  Let’s see how we can learn from Paul concerning helping us in that “reach”.

                 In First and Second Timothy, Paul is encouraging a spiritual son in the things of the Lord.  How does Paul sum up a whole way of life (v. 5)?

                Paul also says some are getting sidetracked by myths, endless genealogies, disputes and foolish talk (vv. 4-6). I got a hint of what Paul was saying: “Be led by the Holy Spirit not just knowing and obeying the Law.  Are any of these sidetracks for you in your foundation of faith?  Ask the Lord to show you if you are unaware of certain “worldly” ideas that don’t line up with the Word and then purpose to make a change in your thinking.

 Sept. 12 – (I Tim. 1:12-20) Paul is explaining the contrast between his former life and his now committed life.  Why did Paul say he received such mercy from God (vv. 15-16)?

                Paul is writing about God’s mercy aimed at him.  He was so overwhelmed that he bursts into exuberant praise (v. 17).  Oh, that we all would appreciate God’s mercy aimed at each one of us!

                What is Paul’s charge then to Timothy (vv. 18-19)? Who was an example of not using faith and good conscious? What was the result of their actions? 

Sept. 13 – (I Tim. 2:1-7) Do you pray for all people? I must admit, I am struggling today.  How do you pray for someone who is offended by what God is doing, acting like a child who gets mad, takes their toys and goes home? With a very heavy heart, I will obey His Word with supplications, prayers, intercessions, and yes even thanksgiving.  God did not promise disappointments, pain, and suffering… He promised to be with us.  I will settle on that today.  Pastor Sam used to say, “Sometimes we have to put a concern on the shelf for a while.”  Pastor Torry has said, “We have to trust in every circumstance, that God is good, God does only good, and God only has good in mind for each of us His children.” SELAH

Sept. 14 – (I Tim. 2:8-15) Over the years, this passage has created controversy especially with women’s rights and the changing role of a woman.  I can see how these verses can be misinterpreted and some practices have resulted in that misinterpretation.  Let’s look again at verses 8-10.  What are men supposed to be like? Does praying everywhere without anger or disputing exemplify men today?

 What are women supposed to be like? Do women live up to this?  Of course, I would rather that Paul had not gotten into specifics for the woman but the bottom line is that she should wear modest apparel.  Would anyone disagree with that?  What does it mean to adorn oneself with good works?  Selah

Sept. 15 – (I Tim. 3:1-7) Paul often describes the church as “the household of God” (3:4-5, 12, 15; Gal. 6:10; Eph. 2:19). This means that the church is God’s family, and its members are brothers and sisters. Also, just like a family, there are certain roles and responsibilities for its members. Where do you fit into the church family? 

Sept. 16 – (I Tim. 3:8-16) Is Paul saying that there is one set of standards of behavior for leaders and another for everyone else?  (This is a good point for all of us to ponder.)

                How does Paul get across the idea that members of the church should show the same character and behavior as its leaders (v.15)?

Sept. 17 – (I Tim. 4:1-5) Paul said some would depart from the truth in latter times.  Do you know of anyone that has done just that?  How do you treat them or think of them?  How do you pray for them? 

I have a friend who is unchurched, (I still have not gotten down to the reasons) but the other day she was so distraught because a relative was getting married in an ungodly way (according to her).  She understood this relative who was a Christian had been brutally raped and since then had moved away from God.  Though my friend could not go to church, she desperately wanted us and our church to pray for her relative.  There are sooo many ways the enemy can pull us away but God is faithful…always!  Please pray for them as you consider how this passage and my life experience apply.  Also, if I ever hear of a restoration (in this situation or the one I spoke of on 9/13) , I will be sure and let you know so we can rejoice together!

                Why does Paul say everything God created is good and should be received with thanksgiving (vv. 4-5)?

Sept. 4-10 How does a church mature?

Sept. 4 – (Eph. 4:7-16) Eph. 4:7-16 ~ Some diversity exists with the unity Paul emphasizes in the previous verses. What is this diversity (vv. 7, 11)?

            Why does God give some believers the leadership gifts mentioned in verses 11-12?

            The list is not exhaustive.  Elsewhere Paul adds others.  But these five were crucial to the establishment of the first generation of the church.  It’s not the specific gift that matters; it’s using the gift that’s important.  What are the results of using the ministry gifts God gives us (vv. 13-16)?

            Based on the images Paul uses in verse 14, what seems to have been the main obstacles to his readers’ faith in Jesus? How can our church grow toward maturity?  How can you use the gifts God has given you to enable this to take place?

Sept. 5 – (Eph. 4:17-31) How does Paul describe the pagan mind and heart (vv. 17-18)? What behavior resulted from that thinking (v.19)?  How is that thinking and behavior like our culture today?

In contrast, what teaching did the believers receive (vv. 20-24)?      How can we be “renewed in the spirit of our mind” (v.23)?

            I think 4:25-32 is Christian living 101.  I want to list what I see in these verses and what they mean to me, to remind myself these are some basics I need to remember:

            - Speak the truth with your neighbor. (I think it is referring to fellow Christians.  Gossip will not be a part of this.)

            - Be angry, and do not sin.  (Do not go to a place of lethargy about sin in a person’s life just to prevent anger.  Anger is pointed at the sin in my and others’ life, not at the person.)

            - Don’t steal.  (Not even a pen at work or when a cashier gives you the wrong change.  How about stealing someone’s integrity by gossip and slander?)

            - Work. (So you have enough, plus some to give to others in need.)

            - Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth. (All we say should be building someone up…period. It shows grace!)

            - Don’t grieve the Holy Spirit.  (Saying God said…when He didn’t...)

            - Put away bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking (with all malice)


Okay, this is a list we will be working on not just today, but for our life time. But let’s get started! Remember… How do you eat an elephant?  ONE BITE AT A TIME!!!

Sept. 6 – (Eph. 5:1-10) One of the best ways to keep weeds out of your garden is to keep sturdy plants (whether vegetables, flowers, or shrubs) growing.  If you don’t want your mind and heart to go wandering off in the realms of darkness, one of the best ways is to keep it well stocked with wise and thankful themes (in song or scripture).  Then as your day progresses and situations arise, your mind and emotions will bring forth His Mind and Will and not the worlds!  Selah

Sept. 7 – (Eph. 5:11-21) What should our attitude be toward “the works of darkness” (v. 11)? What are some works of darkness we encounter on a regular basis? How can we expose those works of darkness to the light, or truth (vv. 12-14)?  What commands does Paul give for how believers are to conduct themselves (vv. 15-20)?  What is one practical way you can live out each of Paul’s commands?

Sept. 8 – (Eph. 5:22-33) Verses 22-24 are only for wives…. or is it?  We are all the bride of Christ so…. yes, it applies to EVERY Christian!  This is a high calling for all Christians but …” We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us! As we see things through Western eyes, how does the word “submission” become distorted?  Continue to ask the Lord for His ways.

Sept. 9 – (Eph. 6:1-9) What does it mean for children to obey and honor their parents? How do fathers provoke their children to wrath?  Is it only through abuse (emotional or physical)?  Is it possible that lack of discipline (God’s kind) could provoke wrath just as much?  Selah!

            Paul could no more envision a world without slavery than you or I could envision a world without electricity to run all our electronics and lights. (This is an example of what we see, is so limited by our time and space but shows how limitless God is!)  I think if Paul were writing today he might be talking about employers and employees. See if you can understand his heart on this subject through those definitions.

Sept. 10 – (Eph. 6:10-24) Put on the whole armor of Christ!  As you name the different pieces of armor, apply them to the needs you have (or had) today and thank God for the specific use of each piece!

            Who was Tychicus “in the Lord”? Why was it important for Paul to send him?

            Why do you think Paul emphasizes peace in his closing greeting? Can you have peace without love and faith in our one true God? I don’t think so!!!

Aug. 28- Sept. 3 I can't stop thanking God for you!

Aug. 28 – (Eph. 1:1-14) Ephesians will be a global picture of what God had in mind as a spotless bride for His resurrected son.  As you read this book ask the Lord to continue to form you into that spotless bride!

                Paul’s great prayer at the opening of this letter is a celebration of the larger story within which every single Christian story- every story of individual conversion, faith, spiritual life, obedience and hope – is set.  Only by understanding and celebrating the larger story can we hope to understand everything that’s going on in our own smaller stories, and so observe God at work in and through our own lives.  Before Paul tells the story, however, he introduces himself.  Why does Paul start with his credentials (vv.1-2)?

                What has God done for us in and through Jesus the Messiah? 

                What does it mean to be chosen by grace (vv. 4-6)?  We aren’t chosen for our own sake, but for the sake of what God wants to accomplish through us.  In what ways, might God want to bless (or how is he already blessing) others through you or your Christian community?

Aug. 29 – (Eph. 1:15-23) “I can't stop thanking God for you! Every time I pray, I think of you and give thanks. But I do more than thank. I ask—ask the God of our Master, Jesus Christ, the God of glory—to make you intelligent and discerning in knowing him personally, your eyes focused and clear, so that you can see exactly what it is he is calling you to do, grasp the immensity of this glorious way of life he has for his followers, oh, the utter extravagance of his work in us who trust him—endless energy, boundless strength!” (The Message – Eph. 1:17-19)

Aug. 30 – (Eph. 2: 1-10) Verse 10 is another favorite verse of mine. It gives purpose and destiny for why we are here now in time and place.  When I read this verse I always hear Ellen Queen’s voice speaking it.  Many years ago, Ellen was our terrific school administrator at Charisma Academy (our elementary school).  She led a series for our chapel based on this passage.  It was so impactful to me and the children that ever since, I can’t read this without hearing her repeating this verses over and over so that it would get down into our spirits.  Her goal was to encourage all of us (not just the students) to know God has put gifts in us for His glory.  We are to spend our lifetime “mining” those treasures and sharing them for others to see and receive all that God has put in them.  It was a life changing series!  Thank you, Ellen, for your insight, diligence, and wonderful way you made it simple enough to understand and complex enough to know it is an ongoing journey!

Have you ever tried to follow a Google map backwards?  If it says to go right, now you must go left…. always?  You think you are absolutely going in the right direction but you are absolutely going the opposite way you should and the farther you go, the more you are farther from your destination.  Left to ourselves and living in this world through our “Adamic” nature, we not only choose the wrong direction, but remain cheerfully confident that it is in fact the right one.  What forces lure or compel us to go in the wrong direction spiritually (vv.1-2)?

                What reasons have you heard people give for the direction they’re going in their life?

                According to Paul, what characterizes people who are going in the wrong direction (v.3)?

                What has God done for us that will get us on the right road (vv. 4-6)?

                God made us alive and raised us up in Christ (vv. 4-6).  What does verse 7 say God desires to accomplish by this?

                Lots of people who are heading in the wrong direction want to think of God as a bit stingy, or mean, or small-minded-just as people who are enjoying their drive don’t like it if someone tells them they’re going the wrong way, and that they’re about to pass the last chance to turn off and head back again.  But the crucial factor here, as always is Jesus himself.  Take away his resurrection, and for all anybody know the road to death is the only road there is.  Put it back in the picture, though and you realize two things.  First, there is another way.  Second, you are urgently summoned to turn around and follow it.

Aug. 31 – (Eph. 2:11-22) Have you ever tried to become a part of a new group? What made you comfortable?   What made you uncomfortable? Spiritually, we become part of a new group too.  How does Paul describe Gentiles before they became part of this new group?

                The word Paul uses in verse 12 to describe them as having no god is the word from which we get our word atheists.  This is ironic, because that’s what Gentiles used to call Jews, and then came to call Christians as well, since neither Jews nor Christians had statues of their gods.  Neither, so far as the Gentile eye could see, offered animal sacrifice, consulted oracles or did any of the other things that pagans associated with worship of their gods.  Paul, boldly standing on the same ground as Jewish writers of the same period, declares that the pagan gods are non-gods.  Those who think they worship them are worshiping something that doesn’t really exist.

                What did Jesus do specifically for Gentiles on the one hand (vv.12-14) and for Jewish people on the other (vv. 14-15)?  Consider how those receiving his letter from Paul might have reacted to these verses.  How easy or difficult do you think it was for them to live out the oneness they were called to as fellow believers in Christ?   We may no longer have to deal with the Jew/Gentile integration but what other lines are still divided? How does this challenge again our grasp of the meaning of Jesus’ death?

Sept. 1 – (Eph. 3:1-13) Have you ever had a big dream that you shared only the first part?  Later as the first part began to succeed, you revealed the full plan you had all along?  That’s kind of what Paul’s picture of God in this passage is like.  What was God’s secret plan (vv. 1-6)?  How did He reveal his plan (vv. 2-5)?

                What three great privileges did the Gentiles attain (together with the Jews) in this plan (v.6)?

                Think about hearing a family in your church just came into a large and wealthy inheritance – and then being told that you are to become full members of that family, with instant privileges identical to theirs!  That’s the situation that Christian Gentiles now find themselves in.  How did God accomplish this plan (v.7)?  What does this plan of God’s – the plan itself, the fact that God kept it hidden and then revealed it, the way he accomplished it – reveal the character of God? God had the perfect plan.  God has the perfect plan. God will always have the perfect plan!!! Praise His Name! 

Sept. 2 – (Eph. 3:14-21) Whenever someone tells you of something victorious in a Christian’s life, 3:20-21 can be the exclamation on the story!  All victorious living is to bring glory to God alone.  God has such a wonderful life planned for each of us.  Does it mean all sunshine and roses?  I’m going to say, “YES!”  But the “YES”, only happens when our minds are totally renewed to purely trust and obey in ALL circumstances. A bad situation by the world’s standards can be a place of absolute calm IF we purely know God absolutely loves us right now… wants only good for us right now…is absolutely in control of our life right now! Soooo in this lifetime on earth, it is a journey of renewing our mind to see things more and more like Him.  Many times, when I am in despair I ask God yet again to help me see things through His eyes of love.  Selah

Sept 3 – (Eph. 4:1-6) This chapter opens the second half of Paul’s letter. Paul takes his readers back to the fundamental instructions on living the Christian life.  He reminds them how they began and what it was all about.  The Christian life begins with a calling.  What elements comprise that calling to faith Paul has in mind here (vv.1-5)?

                How can we “bear with one another in love” (v. 2)?  Describe the unity that God has given us with other believers even when we have differences with them (vv. 3-6)?  What threatens unity in our Christian community?  How can we maintain and guard this unity we have with other believers?               What is the “single hope” that goes with our call (vv. 4-6)?

Aug. 21-27 I am what I am... 1 Cor. 15:10

“By the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain.” (I Cor. 15:10)

Aug. 21 – (I Cor. 14:26-40) Can you imagine if everyone shared in a service?  But we are encouraged to bring “something”.  This tells me we are to be communicating with the Lord through the week and have something fresh from Him that we could share. The corporate meeting takes on much deeper meaning when God gives you something during the week and you see it fitting in to what God has given other parts of the body that they share on Sunday! So, whether you share or not, it is a great faith builder.

Paul is now helping us to understand how to get the most out of a service where there is speaking in tongues and prophesying.  Explain the order that he suggests will most build up the body of Christ.

                I think verses 33-35 is hard for us to understand given our Western culture.  Paul assumes women will take leadership (I Cor. 11:12-16) roles in praying and prophesying.  Could it be that there needed to be some parameters because of the cultural setting of the time and Paul’s concern for peace and order?  I think this needs a cultural study. Anyone want to take the challenge?

Aug. 22 – (I Cor. 15:1-11) This chapter is one of the greatest sustained discussions of a topic which Paul ever wrote.  The theme is the resurrection.  He begins with Jesus ‘resurrection but continues to include all believers in Christ.  Paul is trying yet again to get the Corinthians to understand where they are and who they are in God’s long story.  If they understand where they belong in this story so many other things that have troubled them will be seen in the correct light. Do I really understand where I belong…where He has me every moment of every day and how I got there?  Hmm.

Paul is sharing how his former life contrasted against his current life. It shows God’s grace so dramatically.  It also shows me that we need to be careful what we would bank our life on. Let’s work on making sure how we view something is how God sees it.   Selah

Aug. 23 – (I Cor. 15:12-34) When you were a new believer in Christ, was there a great interest and enthusiasm for the things of the Lord?  It felt wonderful to be out from the burden of sin and brought many of us to almost a feeling of giddiness.  But then we realized the “weight” was coming back…  What was that all about?  Verses 15-19 help us to understand that Christ saved us at the point of our admission of need for forgiveness of sins but we needed to realize the sanctification process will continue until we see Him “face to face”. In these verses, it seems some of the Corinthians believed Christ died for their sins (and was resurrected) but they still believed there was no resurrection of the dead.  Can you think of a sect of Jews that Jesus dealt with who believed there was no resurrection for the dead? (Matt. 22:23)? Some also seemed to believe you could be baptized for another deceased person’s soul.  One source I read said there are cults today who still believe in this practice.  The ritual was a living person laid under the bed of a deceased person and spoke acceptance of Christ (The Book of First Corinthians by Paul A. Hamar; 1980; p. 147). Do you think they were having trouble changing “what they grew up believing”?  I know this sounds crazy but I have a feeling when I get to heaven, I will feel the same about some of my beliefs.  What did we “grow up believing” that God needs to sanctify (renew our mind) so we reflect “His image” better?  Ask Him!

Aug. 24 – (I Cor. 15:35-49) These verses are easy to misinterpret, especially if you don’t read it all together. Many versions of the Bible can mislead people by saying “physical body” and “spiritual body” (v.44) One interpretation is that Paul is not making a contrast between our physical and our spiritual self, something we might call a ghost.  They believe the contrast he’s making is between a body animated by one type of life and a body animated by another type.  One is animated by food, drink and air, the other by God’s own Spirit.  What do you think?

Aug. 25 – (I Cor. 15:50-58) You might think after a terrific chapter filled with hope even after we physically die ( or the Lord comes back for us), that Paul would finish with rejoicing over what we look forward to, but he doesn’t.  What does he do in verse 58 and why?

                Do you ever get discouraged that the work you are doing for the Lord is futile or too small to make a difference?  How can verse 58 be an encouragement for you in those times?

Aug. 26 – (I Cor. 16:1-11) Paul is talking at the beginning of the chapter about the Corinthian Christians (as he also instructed Galatians Christians) giving to the Jerusalem Christians.  How does this consolidate the ‘body of Christ’ universal? 

                In 16:9 Paul mentions an “open door” and “opposition”.  When we are trying to “spread the gospel” why does this always seem to be the case?  How do you push through to victory?  Why not share your testimony with all of us?  I think we all are due for some encouragement from you!

Aug. 27 – (I Cor. 16:12-24) There are four commands Paul gives in verse 13 almost like an army commander might give.  Name the 4 commands. How can we as a church obey those commands?

                As you think about difficult situations you are facing right now, what would it mean to approach that situation in love?  Please seriously consider this.  Why?  Let me share a situation I was in where I did not heed this verse and where it took me.  Maybe it will help you to circumvent something.  

I found myself in a situation where someone was clearly breaking a commandment. As I tried to show a destructive path that was unfolding, I spoke out of anger and hurt and frustration, trying to get light on the reality of the path it would lead to.  Obviously, it was not received well. I kept asking the Lord how to change it (yes I’m always trying to “help” fix things). After a time had passed God showed me that once again I am not the “fixer”, He is.  But most importantly He showed me from Eph. 4:11-16, that I spoke the Truth but it had not been in love…. and that is a key!  After being convicted, I had to go back and ask forgiveness for my wrongful attitude.  So the moral of this story is, if you need to speak to a brother or sister, make sure it is done in love…. the same kind of love Jesus had when He chose to die on the cross for your sins!  SELAH