Colossians – Chapter 2

Verse 1 – For I want you to know what a great conflict I have for you and those in Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh,

Laodicea was located a few miles northwest of Colosse. Like the church at Colosse, the Laodicea church was probably founded by one of Paul’s converts while Paul was staying in Ephesus. In the book of Revelation, Christ would criticize the believers of this church for being lukewarm.

Verse 2 – that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, and attaining to all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the knowledge of the mystery of God, both of the Father and of Christ,

Verse 3 – in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

Believers need solid, firm, relationships with other Christians. Sometimes that’s hard to find, because even within the church, we find people living any way they want and some of us do not want any part of that. In and through Christ, all wisdom and knowledge is found. In reference to this wisdom and knowledge, a great treasure is housed.

Verse 4 – Now this I say lest anyone should deceive you with persuasive words.

Verse 5 – For though I am absent int he flesh, yet I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good order and the steadfastness of your faith in Christ.

The problem that Paul was combating in the Colossian church was similar to Gnosticism. This heresy undermined Christianity. It’s contrary to Bible doctrine. (1) It insisted that important secret knowledge was hidden from most believers. (2) It taught that the body was evil. (3) It contended that Christ seemed to be human, but was not. Paul taught that Christ was fully human and fully God.

People can be easily persuaded by false doctrine when they don’t know the truth. The only way to know heresy when yo hear it, is to know true Biblical doctrine.

Freedom From Vain Philosophy

Verse 8 – Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.

Christian’s obtain their doctrine from Scripture. The world has a way of sliding their traditions into the worship of Christ and into the modern church. This is a strong warning to all believers. When man-made laws, rules, and rituals become part of your religion, then that is heresy. We must know God’s word to avoid anything that is not associated with faith in Christ. (And yes, there are principles and standards we live by.)

Verse 9 – For in Him dwells all the fullness of the godhead bodily;

Every system that denies this is in denial of the doctrine which Paul had taught. Almost all heresy began by some form of denial of the great central truth of the incarnation of the Son of God.

“In Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form,” means that all of God was in Christ’s human body. When we have Christ we have everything we need for salvation and right living.

Verse 10 – and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.

There is a completion in each believer, filling us up with: wisdom to guide us; the atonement to be made for sin; the merit by which a sinner can be justified, and the grace which is needed to sustain us in trials, and to aid us int he duties of life.

Freedom From Judgment of Men

Verse 11 – In Him you were also circumcised with circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ,

Verse 12 – buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.

The circumcision of the Messiah was spiritual and associated with circumcision of the heart. Baptism relates to Christ’s death and burial. Believer’s baptism symbolizes union with Christ in death and complete separation from the former way of life. Believers are raised with Him through faith, according to God’s power.

Verse 13 – And you , being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses,

Before believing in Jesus, our nature was evil. We did not love God with our whole heart, soul, and mind. The resurrection of Christ was the means of imparting to us spiritual life. Now, the Christian has a new nature. That old rebellious nature is replaced with a loving nature. The penalty of sin died with Christ on the cross. God has declared us not guilty, and we need no longer live under sin’s power.

Verse 14 – having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.

The written requirements that was wiped out were the legal demands of the Old Testament Laws. The law demanded payment for sin with a blood sacrifice. That blood sacrifice was paid in full on Calvary by Jesus Christ. Our sins were forgiven and forgotten by God, washed away, but only if you believe.

Verse 15 – Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.

By Christ’s death, He subdued and defeated Satan and his fallen angels, and recaptured those who had been held in bondage by sin.

Verse 16 – Therefore let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or Sabbaths,

Verse 17 – which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ.

Paul told the Colossian Christians not to worry about others criticizing them for not observing Jewish diets and religious ceremonies. This goes for today’s Christian also.

As Christians, we don’t live up to other people’s standards. We follow the Bible and our focus stays on Christ!

Freedom From Improper Worship

Verse 18 – Let no one defraud you of a reward, taking delight in false humility and worship of angels, introducing into those things which he has not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind,

Verse 19 – and not holding fast to the Head, from whom all the body is nourished and knit together by joints and ligaments, grows with the increase which is from God.

The false teachers were full of pride for their humility. They brought attention and praises to themselves, not God. They were puffed up! People do this today when they talk negatively about themselves, so others will think them more spiritual. False humility is self-centered.

Freedom From Doctrine of Men

Verse 20 – Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations –

Verse 21 – “Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle,”

Verse 22 – which all concern things which perish with the using – according to the commandments and doctrines of men?

Verse 23 – These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh.

Simply put – Our salvation does not depend on our own discipline and rule-keeping, but on the power of Christ’s death and resurrection.

Here’s some of the ways we can know we are following man-made laws: Ask yourself these questions: (1) Am I doing a man-made taboo rather than God’s grace? (2) Does what I am doing make me have a critical spirit towards others that don’t follow certain rules? (3) Do I stress more importance on visions and dreams, more than the word of God? (4) Do I elevate self-righteousness more than honoring Christ? (5) Do I think discipline of the body means spiritual growth?

Keep in mind: Following religious rules and laws that are man-made cannot change your heart. You may look super moral to others, but only the Holy Spirit can change the heart!

 

 

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Colossians – Chapter 1

Introduction: Paul’s purpose in Colossians is to show that Christ is preeminent – first and foremost in everything – and the Christians’s life should reflect that priority. Because believers are rooted in Him, alive in Him, hidden in Him, and complete in Him, it is utterly inconsistent for them to live life without Him.

Colosse was a minor city about one hundred miles east of Ephesus in the region of the seven Asian churches of Revelation 1-3.

Chapter 1

Paul’s Greeting to the Colossians

Verse 1 – Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother,

Verse 2 – to the saints and faithful brethren in Christ who are in Colosse: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Verse 3 – We give thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you,

Verse 4 – since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of your love for all the saints;

Verse 5 – because of the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, of which you heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel,

This hope was the result of having heard and received the message of truth or more specifically, the gospel. Eternal happiness was reserved in heaven for them.

Verse 6 – which has come to you, as it has also in all the world, and is bringing forth fruit, as it is also among you since the day you heard and knew the grace of God in truth;

The gospel was made available to the world through preaching. God’s word and is not just for our information, it is for transformation! Becoming a Christian means beginning a whole new relationship with God, not just turning over a new leaf, or determining to do right. New believers have a changed purpose, direction, attitude, and behavior. They no longer seek to serve themselves.

Paul stresses here, that since they had heard the gospel, it was producing the appropriate fruit.

Verse 7 – as you also learned from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf,

Verse 8 – who also declared to us your love in the Spirit.

True Christian love comes from the Holy Spirit. There will be a love for one another that will reach far above just our neighborhoods. This kind of love is not just an emotion. This kind of love is a by-product of the new life in Christ.

Verse 9 – 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;

Paul’s prayer for them was that they fully comprehend the full will of God, with all understanding and wisdom, understanding why and making the right decisions in wisdom. God’s intention for us is to fully understand what He intends to be accomplished through us.

Verse 10 – that you may have a walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God;

Verse 11 – strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy,

Christian behavior that pleases the Lord involves the action of good deeds, continuous spiritual growth, dependence on His power, resulting in endurance patience, and joy, and expressing gratitude for all things because God enables believers to share in the saint’s inheritance.

Verse 12 – giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light.

Verse 13 – He has delivered us from the power of darkness and translated us into the kingdom of the Son of His love,

Verse 14 – in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.

This passage here proves that we obtain forgiveness of sins through the precious blood of Christ! However that is not all that we obtain when we become a believer.

Christ Is Preeminent in Creation

Verse 15 – He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.

Verse 16 – For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for him.

Jesus is the exact representation of God because He is God. The title “Firstborn” does not mean that Jesus was created, but means priority and all authority over all and everything created. Christ came from heaven, not dust of the earth and He is Lord of all. Christ is also supreme over the spirit world. As the Creator, He is over the creation.

Verse 17 – And He is before all thins, and in Him all things consist.

Christ was before all things existence, because He had existence before anything was created. He’s eternal. All things are kept “consist” – kept in present state, their existence, order, and continued by His power. If unsupported by Him, they would fall into disorder, or sink back to nothing.

Verse 18 – And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.

Jesus was raised from the dead, and His resurrection proves His lordship over the material world. All who trust in Christ will also defeat death and rise again to live eternally with Him.

Christ Is Preeminent in Redemption

Verse 19 – For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell,

Verse 20 – and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross.

God was pleased that His fullness, the entirety of God’s being, would dwell in the Son. Thus, Jesus was fully divine as well as fully human. Through Christ, God would reconcile (a right relationship) all things to Himself on the cross.

Verse 21 – And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled

Verse 22 – in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and irreproachable in His sight –

No means ever used to produce reconciliation between two alienated parties has had so much tenderness and power as those which God has adopted in the plan of salvation.

Verse 23 – if indeed you continue in faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature under haven, of which I, Paul, became a minister.

The key word in this verse is “if.” The only way a believer will be presented holy, faultless, and blameless, is if they do not abandon their faith in Christ as presented in the gospel. Faith refers to the content of the gospel with Jesus as the object.

Christ  Is Preeminent in the Church

Verse 24 – I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church,

Verse 25 – of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God which was given to me for you, to fulfill the word of God,

Verse 26 – the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints.

God’s plan of redemption was a mystery hidden until Christ came. Through Christ it was made open to all. God’s secret plan is “Christ in you, the hope of glory.”

Verse 27 – To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

Verse 28 – Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.

Verse 29 – To this end I also labor, striving according to His working which works in me mightily.

The word perfect means mature or complete, not flawless. Paul wanted to see each believer mature spiritually. We have the Spirit of God working in us.

An effective presentation of the gospel includes admonishing (warning) and teaching. The warning is that without Christ, people are doomed to eternal separation from God. The teaching is that salvation is available through faith in Christ. Everyone needs to hear that  message.

 

 

 

Philippians – Chapter 4

Verse 1 – Therefore, my beloved and longed – for brethren, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, beloved.

We stand fast in the Lord by keeping our focus on Christ, to remember that this world is not our home, and the fact that Christ is in control.

Verse 2 – I implore Euodia and I implore Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord.

Verse 3 – And I urge you also, true companion, help these women who labored with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are int he Book of Life.

Evidently there had been some disagreement among these two women.

Verse 4 – Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!

Verse 5 – Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand.

Verse 6 – Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication; with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;

We are to trust in our God so much that it frees us from all anxiety. We should learn to have such a dependence on Him that we stay calm. “But in everything,” supplies for our wants and needs; concerning our welfare and families; trials, conflicts, and hardships. There is no reason why we can’t spread it all before the Lord in prayer.

“With thanksgiving,” Psalm 100:4 – Enter His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. Start your prayers with being thankful in everything! Lets always be thankful for what He’s already done.

“Let your request be made known.” Jesus said the biggest reason that “You have not, is because you ask not!” He also said, “If it be the Father’s will, I will do it!”

Verse 7 – and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

(1) Be anxious for nothing; (2) with thanksgiving; (3) let your request be made known to God; (4) and the peace that comes from God, will guard your heart and mind through Jesus Christ. When your done praying, know that He heard you and know that it is done! That’s why we end our prayers with “Amen,” “So be it!”

Verse 8 – Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy – meditate on these things.

Do you want to never go through another day of depression in your life? Think on these things that Paul just listed. Fill your mind and heart up with the good things of God and it will lift you up out of any anxiety you might have.

Verse 9 – The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me these do, and the God of peace will be with you.

Verse 10 – But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at last your care for me has flourished again; though you surely did care, but you lacked opportunity.

Verse 11 – Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content:

If Paul could learn to be content in whatever state he was in, then we can too. Paul went through a lot more hardships than we ever will.

Verse 12 – I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.

But yet he says he is still content.

Verse 13 – I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

The power that we receive with Christ working in us, is sufficient to do His will and to face any challenge that may arise!

Verse 14 – Nevertheless you have done well that you shared in my distress.

Verse 15 – Now you Philippians know also that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church shared with me concerning giving and receiving but you only.

Verse 16 – for even in Thessalonica you sent aid once and again for my necessities.

Verse 17 – Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that abounds to your account.

Verse 18 – Indeed I have all and abound, I am full having received from Epaphroditusthe things which were sent from you, a sweet-smelling aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to God.

Verse 19 – And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

Everybody knows that verse, don’t they? Paul was in need at a time when no one but the Philippians helped. God will and does send help through others. That’s why we are to be generous, because you just might be the answer to someone’s prayer!

Verse 20 – Now to our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.

Verse 21 – Greet every saint in Christ Jesus. The brethren who are with me greet you.

Verse 22 – All the saints greet you, but especially those who are of Caesar’s household.

While awaiting trial, Paul was making many converts in Rome.

Verse 23 – The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.

Philippians – Chapter 3

Warning Against Confidence in the Flesh

Verse 1 – Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. For me to write the same things to you is not tedious, but for you it is safe.

As a safeguard, Paul revives the basics with these believers. The Bible is the Christians’s standard, and when we read it, it alerts us to corrections we need to make in our thoughts, attitude, and actions.

Verse 2 – Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the mutilation!

Dogs were held as unclean, and to call a person a dog was a much a stronger expression of contempt. The Jews called the pagans dogs, and the Muslims call Jews and Christians by the same name.

Then Paul tells them to beware of evil workers. This no doubt is the Jewish teachers whose doctrines influence those to do evil.

The mutilation, refers to the cutting of the flesh on the Gentiles to make them Jews, rather than relying on God’s grace to become Christians.

Verse 3 – For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh,

Verse 4 – though I also might have confidence in the flesh. If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so:

Verse 5 – circumcised the eight-day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; concerning the law a Pharisee;

Paul was saying that he had every right to place confidence in the flesh as these others were doing, because of his qualifications of being circumcised. However, it was only heredity, as these Jews thought they were entitled, to be privileged to God.

Verse 6 – concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.

Verse 7 – But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ.

When Paul speaks of gain, he was referring to his credentials as a Jew. After showing he could beat the Judaizers at their own game (being proud of who they were and what they had done), Paul showed that it was the wrong game.

We should be very careful of considering past achievements so important that they get in the way of our relationship with Christ. It will make you highly judgmental of other Christians.

Verse 8 – But indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ,

After Paul considered every accomplishment in his life, he said that it was all rubbish, loss, when compared to the greatness of knowing Christ.

There is not one possession on this earth that we have gained compared to our relationship we have with Christ! To know Christ would be every Christian’s goal.

Verse 9 – and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith,

The only way that righteousness comes to the believer is through faith in Jesus Christ!

Verse 10 – that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death,

Verse 11 – if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from he dead.

That I may know Him – that I may fully be acquainted with His nature, character, His work, and with the salvation He has worked out in us.

And the power of His resurrection – to understand the hope of immortality, in sustaining the spirit and soul in death. By Christ raising from the dead, it makes certain our future state.

That same resurrection power lives in each believer.

Verse 12 – Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.

Paul did not regard himself as a perfect man and he had not reached the state where he was free from sin. However, we as Paul did, press on. We don’t stop being a Christian just because of failure at times.

Verse 13 – Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which were behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead,

Verse 14 – I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Paul had good reason to forget what was behind, as we all do. Because our hope is in Christ, we let go of the guilt from our past and look forward to what God will help us become. This includes letting go of past hurts that have been done to us also.

Verse 15 – Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you.

For those who have been truly converted, God by His Holy Spirit will correct, guide, and teach, until we have an understanding of divine things.

Verse 16 – Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule; let us be of the same mind.

Christian maturity is acting on the guidance we have already received. The instructions for us is to live up to what we already know and live out what we have already learned.

Verse 17 – Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern.

Paul knew he wasn’t perfect, but for him to tell people to follow his example, was a great testimony to his character. Can we do the same? What kind of follower would a new Christian become if he or she imitated you or me?

Verse 18 – For many walk, of whom I have told you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ:

Verse 19 – whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame – who set their mind on earthly things.

These false teachers were inflated with their own spiritual abilities, rather than trusting Christ. Then Paul describes them: First, their eternal judgment. Second, their belly which reflects the Jewish dietary laws. Third, their glory is in their shame meaning, focusing inappropriately on circumcision. Fourth, they were unable to see beyond the present.

Verse 20 – For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,

Verse 21 – who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.

The bodies that Christians will have when raised form the dead will be like Christ’s resurrected body. No pain, no physical limitations, or disabilities.

 

 

 

Philippians – Chapter 2

Verse 1 – Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy,

Verse 2 – fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.

Many people, even Christians, live only to make a good impression on others or to please themselves. But selfish ambition or vain conceit brings discord. Therefore, Paul stressed spiritual unity, asking the Philippians to love one another and to be one in spirit and purpose.

Verse 3 – Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowness of mind let each one esteem others better than himself.

Humility is an antidote for wrong attitudes, resulting in considering others as more important.

Now, let’s be honest with ourselves; do we honestly put others interests and welfare above our own? I can’t think of one person who does. Maybe this is why we have such a hard time getting someone to come to church or even listen to us about Christ. They see our selfishness and “all about me” attitudes and want nothing to do with that. We have to change, including me.

Humility is seen as a virtue and centers on low “self-preoccupation,” or willingness to put one’s self first. We live in a self-centered world where everything is about me and what makes me happy because I deserve it. Paul tells us how to correct that attitude.

Verse 4 – Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interest of others.

Showing genuine interest in others is a positive step toward maintaining unity among others.

Christ’s Example of Humility

Verse 5 – Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus,

Verse 6 – who being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God,

Verse 7 – but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a servant, and coming in the likeness of men.

Jesus did not give up His deity to become human, but He set His glory and power aside for you and me. He had limited Himself to places and time at the Father’s will. What made Him unique was His freedom from sin. In His humanity Jesus showed us everything about God’s character that could be conveyed in human terms.

Imagine this: someone having all wisdom, all power, all riches, that would become servant, be punished, and put to death for all mankind.

Verse 8 – and being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.

Verse 9 – Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name,

Verse 10 – that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth,

People can except to acknowledge this while living and breathing or be forced to acknowledge His deity when He returns. We can only make that choice while living because after death, it’s too late. Believe what you will, but one day every knee will bow before the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

Verse 11 – and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

What a terrifying day that will be for some. They will realize that all this “Christianity stuff” was true, while they ignored a loving God who would have loved them throughout their time on earth.

Verse 12 – Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling;

Meaning: There is no command more frequently repeated in the Scripture, than for the command to make to ourselves a new heart, to strive to enter the narrow or straight gate, to break off from sin, and to repent!

Verse 13 – for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.

As Christians, we need to train ourselves to think like Christ. We need the power of the Holy Spirit indwelling in us to change our desires to His. True obedience comes from reverence, not fear.

Verse 14 – Do all things without murmuring and disputing,

Do everything in a quiet gentle manner, avoiding strife and arguments. Wouldn’t that be nice if people behaved like that? What’s good advise for the church, should be followed by the individual Christian also.

Verse 15 – that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world,

Verse 16 – holding fast the word of life, so that I have not run in vain or labored in vain.

Live your life in such a way that no one can accuse you of any wrong in the view of others. Christians should never forget that they represent Christ, and are a witness to the lost.

Paul’s Example of Humility

Verse 17 – Yes, and I am being poured out as a drink offering on the sacrifice and service of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all.

Verse 18 – For the same reason you also be glad and rejoice with me.

Drink offering refers to the Old Testament sacrifice system. Paul was the sacrifice for these believers.

Verse 19 – But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you shortly, that I also may be encouraged when I know your state.

Verse 20 – For I have no one like-minded, who will sincerely care for your state.

Verse 21 – For all seek their own, not the things which are Christ Jesus,

Verse 22 – but you know his proven character, that as a son with his father he served with me in the gospel.

Paul had noticed that most of the believers were concerned with their own needs more than others. and just as a father brings up his son, Paul had trained Timothy in preparing him to carry on his ministry in his absence.

Verse 23 – Therefore I hope to send him at once, as soon as I see how it goes with me.

Paul was telling the Philippians that when he learned of the courts decision, he would send Timothy to them with news and that he was ready to accept whatever came. (Paul was in prison.)

Verse 24 – But I trust in the Lord that I myself shall also come shortly.

Verse 25 – Yet I consider it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother, fellow worker, and fellow soldier, but your messenger and the one who ministered to my need;

Verse 26 – since he was longing for you all, and was distressed because you had heard that he was sick.

Verse 27 – for indeed he was sick almost unto death; but God had mercy on him, and not only on him but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow.

Verse 28 – Therefore I sent him the more eagerly, that when yo see him again you may rejoice, and I may be less sorrowful.

Verse 29 – Receive him therefore in the Lord with all gladness, and hold such men in esteem;

Verse 30  – because for the work of Christ he came close to death, not regarding his life, to supply what was lacking in your service toward me.

Not much is known about Epaphroditus except here in Philippians. He had come from Philippi to bring Paul money while Paul was in Rome. While he was with Paul, he had become very ill, but recovered. Paul sent this thank you letter with him upon his return to the Philippians.

This chapter was about the Christian’s humility, about being humble. We don’t think more highly of ourselves or exalt ourselves, let God do that . Pride makes us and those around us miserable, and is the grand thing that stands in the way of the influence of the gospel on our hearts. No one likes a prideful arrogant preacher.

 

 

Philippians – Chapter 1

Introduction: Paul writes a thank-you letter to the believers at Philippi for their help in his hour of need, and he uses the occasion to send along some instructions on Christian unity. After difficulties in the city of Philippi (Acts 16:12), Paul built a strong bond with the converts there.

Chapter 1

Verse 1 – Paul and Timothy, servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, with the bishops and deacons:

Verse 2 – grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Verse 3 – I thank my God upon every remembrance of you,

Verse 4 – always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy,

Verse 5 – for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now,

Verse 6 – 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;

The Philippians first heard the gospel about ten years earlier when Paul and his companions visited and founded the church. The God who began a good work in them and us, would continue throughout our life-time. His work in us began when we first believed.

Verse 7 – just as it is right for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart, inasmuch as both in my chains and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, you all are partakers with me of grace.

Verse 8 – For God is my witness, how greatly I long for you all with the affection of Jesus Christ.

Verse 9 – And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment,

As a Christian grows and matures, their heart and mind will grow together in love for Christ and the love of others. We are to be united in love and that love will grow for others.

Verse 10 – that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ,

As Christians, we are to test that which is true and genuine. We are to know the difference between right and wrong, good and evil. Yes we are to judge all things according to truth and don’t let the gospel ever offend you.

True sincerity implies: truly converted; motives are pure; conduct is not deceitful or manipulative; blameless in offending others.

Verse 11 – being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

The “Fruits of righteousness,” includes all of the character traits that follow from a right relationship with Jesus Christ.

Verse 12 – But I want you to know brethren, that the things which happen to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel,

(Paul’s difficulties had opened new opportunities to spread the gospel.)

Verse 13 – so that it has become evident to the whole palace guard, and to the rest, that my chains are in Christ;

Paul was in prison because he preached Christ, not because of any crime. Paul was in a house but still confined to a guard, who was a witness to all he did and said.

Verse 14 – and most of the brethren in the Lord, having become confident by my chains, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.

People watch us and listen to what we say when we go through difficult times. They will either see true faith that will encourage them, or they will hear complaining that they want no part of. The choice is ours, how react to hardships.

Verse 15 – Some indeed preach Christ even from envy and strife, and some also from good will:

Verse 16 – The former preach Christ from selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my chains;

Paul was talking about the teachers or preachers who had come in after he left, found out he was in prison, and were trying to build a reputation for themselves. It seems there were some who were jealous of Paul and this was a good opportunity to diminish what Paul had taught beforehand. The had no real regard for the welfare of the church.

Verse 17 – but the latter out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel.

Verse 18 – What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is preached; and in this I rejoice, yes, and will rejoice.

Paul accepted the message from both groups. Trusting God’s sovereignty, he refused to condemn improper motivations as long as  the end result was Christ proclaimed.

Verse 19 – For I know that this will turn out for my salvation through your prayer and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ,

Verse 20 – according to my earnest expecting and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death.

Verse 21 – For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

This was not Paul’s final imprisonment in Rome, but he didn’t know that . His prayer was that when he stood trial, that he would speak courageously for Christ and not be ashamed. Whether he lived or died, he wanted to exalt Christ.

Paul looked at life through an eternal perspective. Paul’s whole purpose in life was to speak out boldly for Christ and to become more like Him. When we are ready to face where we are going to spend eternity, then we can live our life to what really counts.

Verse 22 – But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell.

Paul wasn’t going to just sit in prison and wait to die. Whether he remained alive or whether they executed him, his labor of spreading the gospel would bring forth fruit.

Verse 23 – For I am hard pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better.

Verse 24 – Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you.

Very few people desire to die. But Paul had such a desire to be with Christ, it overwhelmed him. And yet he had a strong desire also to spread the gospel.

Verse 25 – And being confident of this, I know that I shall remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy of faith,

Verse 26 – that your rejoicing for me may be more abundant in Jesus Christ  by my coming to you again.

Paul’s confidence came from knowing God still had work for him to do, so he would remain alive.

Verse 27 – Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel,

Verse 28 – and not in any way terrified by your adversaries, which is to them a proof of perdition, but to you of salvation and that from God.

Our conduct and speech is to reflect Christ. We are to stand firm in the beliefs of the gospel and don’t be too concerned of what is happening outside the church. Stay in unity with other believers and fight the good fight of faith.

Verse 29 – For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake,

Verse 30 – having the same conflict which you saw in me and now hear is in me.

Paul is talking about the conflict of his conflict of living and continuing preaching or dying and being with Christ. (He is not talking about committing suicide. His death might come through execution from the Romans, not by his own hand.) If you are truly born-again, you will suffer persecution, maybe not unto death, but you will face trials and situations that will make you wonder why. The Christian life is not easy to live. You may feel like you are always on display, people watching to see how you react to certain situations. But know this, Christ said He would never abandon us, and the stronger stand you take in your beliefs and faith , the more times you will be victorious over every situation!

 

 

The Second Coming of Jesus Christ

When Jesus ascended up to heaven, the disciples stood steadfast looking up. Two angels stood there and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go to heaven.” (Acts 1:11).

The most epic and awesome event that will happen in human history, is the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. The event that sets the scene for this occurrence is The Battle of Armageddon. Jesus doesn’t come at the rapture, that event is to pick up the saints in the air. Then there will be seven years of tribulation, known as the seventh week of Daniel (Daniel 9:24-27). This will begin with an agreement or some sort of treaty. The Anti-Christ will make a covenant with Israel and will appear to bring about the answer to the middle east crises. He will show up as a peace maker to begin the seven-year tribulation.

This Anti-Christ will come out of Europe, because it says in Daniel 4 and Daniel 7, he will be over the ten toes, that is the Roman Empire, split up which is Europe. Today we have the European union. He will rise up and have the answer to the middle east crises and seize power.

So now you have a man that seems to be a peace-maker. The king of the North sees that this man is really after the entire world, and he doesn’t except that. The king of the North is Russia. They will come against the Anti-Christ, so we should not be surprised that Russia has entered Syria. Russia is a dominate world force in the middle east.

The Bible says the king of the North will join the king of the South. The south is Egypt and all the Islamic nations. They don’t want the Anti-Christ to rule over them either (Daniel 11).

Meanwhile, the Anti-Christ is going to come over to the “Beautiful Land,” which is Israel. He is going to center himself in the center of all this, as the North and the South come against him. He is going to defeat both kings of the North and the South.

The king of the East, the orient, China, will invade the Anti-Christ also. There will be, according to Scripture, 22 million men, that will descend on Israel to defeat the Anti-Christ. All these armies, North, South, and East, coming against the Anti-Christ. So now what happens? (Keep in mind, Israel is int he center of all this because Israel is set up there.)

Revelation 16:13 – And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs coming out of the mouth of the dragon, out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. (Verse 14) For they are spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to battle of that great day of God Almighty. (Verse 15)”Behold, I am coming as a thief. Blessed is he who watches, and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked and they see his shame.” (Verse 16) And they gathered them together to the place called in Hebrew, Armageddon.

However, something else is going on at this time: Zechariah 14:2 says, For I will gather all the nations to battle against Jerusalem; the city shall be taken, the houses rifled, and the women ravished. Half of the city shall go into captivity, but the remnant of the people shall not be cut off from the city. (Verse 3) Then the Lord will go forth and fight against those nations, as He fights in the day of battle.

So you’ve got Satan being as evil as he can be, bringing all these nations together because of what he is doing, but really doing what was already written by God, His will.

Keep in mind; even when the devil is wrecking havoc in your life, “Greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world!”

Revelation 12:13, (Satan’s strategies of destroying Israel.) (Verse 13) Now when the dragon (Satan) saw that he had been cast to the earth, he persecuted the woman (Israel) who gave birth to the male Child (Jesus Christ). (Verse 15) So the serpent spewed water out of his mouth like a flood after the woman (Israel), that he might cause her to be carried away by the flood. (That’s why all these nations have come against Israel, to nullify the promises of God.)

In Daniel 27, in the middle of the tribulation, three and one half years, the Anti-Christ will break covenant with Israel, the abomination of desolation. He will set himself up in the temple in Jerusalem.

Israel will build their third temple on the mount where the Muslims now have their Mosque. (That mosque will not be there when they begin to build their temple. I don’t know when that will be destroyed.) The Anti-Christ will claim to be God. He will be doing great miracles and signs in order to trick and deceive the people. Now he will have world denomination.

Now, when that happens, and the whole world is focused on the middle east, it’s “Show Time” for the True God.

Matthew 24:29 – “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. (Verse 30) Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. (Verse 31) And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

Revelation 1:7 – Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, and they also who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen.

Revelation 19:11 – Then I saw heaven open, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. (Jesus riding on a white horse is a declaration of victory!) (Verse 12) His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. (Verse 13) He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God.

There are two ways that people will relate to Jesus, either through the cross for salvation or they relate to Him as the Judge. Advice: take the cross! Those that follow and relate to Him through the cross, they get to: (Verse 14) And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses.

Review: Rapture of the church; during the tribulation on earth, you and I are at the Judgment Seat of Christ, where God hands out rewards; then Christ comes at the second Coming, which is not the rapture, it’s seven years after the rapture of the church. Christi comes to the earth with the armies of the saints, who have now been dressed in fine linen, new bodies, to rule with Him, which is His millennial Reign. We come with Him with our assignments.

This fight between Jesus and the nations that came against Israel is short,. This is like a “knock-out” in the first fifteen seconds of the first round! He will slay them with the word (sword) of His mouth (Rev. 19:15) And everyone that has the mark of the beast, world-wide, will be slain by the word of His mouth and be dinner for the fouls of the air. Why? Because they refused to repent!

Believe it or not. Did Jesus rise from the dead? Yes, so why would anyone doubt the rest of the story. Is it not true also?

And according to Zechariah chapters three and four, Jesus will descend to the Mount of Olives, which was the place He left from. And the Bible says that when He steps on the Mount of Olives, the mountain will split down the middle, all the way to the Dead Sea and Jesus will set Himself up as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. The One and Only Righteous Ruler! He will rule with a rod of iron.

Revelation 19:20 – Then the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who worked signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image. These two were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone. (Verse 21) And the rest were killed with the sword which proceeded from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse. And all the birds were filled with their flesh.

Even with all this, here’s what you need to know: Time is short. Accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, and you won’t end up in “The Day of the Lord” on the wrong side!