Treasure

Colossians 2:3
“. . . in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”

Knowledge is a word which speaks of information. We increase in our knowledge of God as we read the Word of God and walk with Him daily. However, wisdom is another thing all together. We might define it as “the proper application of knowledge,” or more simply as, “knowing what to do.” How many times have you faced decisions in life where you were not sure what to do, because you have not been that way before? Wisdom is acquired by experience, by careful observation of the experience of others, or by receiving it from heaven.

Notice, Paul writes “All wisdom is hidden in Christ.” We can find great comfort in knowing, while we might not know what we are doing, Christ has been that way before and can provide direction through the fog of life. Notice also, Paul says this wisdom is hidden in Christ. It is not something hidden from us, so we cannot have it, but something hidden so we will seek after it. The primary purpose of salvation is to know God, and wisdom is hidden in Him so we will seek Christ more. The question is, how do we access the wisdom that is hidden in Christ?

James 1:5
“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.”

The first step is to pray. We are exhorted to understand, that through prayer, we can cast all burdens at the feet of Jesus. Sometimes, the greatest burden can be facing situations for which we have no answers. Parenting can certainly be like that. As the children grow, we are constantly walking down roads we have never traveled before. We want desperately to make decisions that will positively impact our children for the kingdom of heaven, and ensure they have a bright and successful future. The problem is, we often do not have a clue as to what we are doing. It is encouraging to know, “in Him are hidden all the treasures of wisdom”. The secret to receiving His wisdom through prayer, is to be willing to do things His way. Sometimes, we do not seek the mind of God, because we have already determined we do not want to do what He says.

Deuteronomy 4:6
“Therefore be careful to observe them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples who will hear all these statutes, and say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.”

Prayer is where we ask questions, and the Word of God is where we find answers. Sometimes, we will pray for things, then spend our time thinking up a solution, without considering what God has written to us in His Word. Israel was told, if they followed the teaching of the Word of God, it would lead to wisdom, and the people around them would be shocked at how smart they were. You see, doing what God says, even when it might not make sense, will always lead to the wisest roads. Other people, when the fruit of those decisions come to light, will be shocked at how smart you seem, all because you chose to do things God’s way.

If you are in need of wisdom because you are on a road you have never traveled before, or perhaps you went the wrong way in the past, the key is to lay your life out before the Lord in prayer. Then sit before His Word, and allow Him to write your road map for you. Using a concordance can be helpful to look up the subjects you are facing, and is a great way to learn to think and act Biblically.

Pastor Jim

Questions for Colossians 2

  1. Paul says in verse 1 that he has a great “conflict” for the Christians. This word means to contest or to struggle for, and carries the idea of striving in athletic competition. List the things that Paul struggling to see happen in these Christians lives in verse 2? How do you think he is struggling for them if he is not with them? Is there anyone that you strive for? 
  2. In verse 3 it tells us that all knowledge and wisdom is found where? 
  3. Read verses 4-7. Paul wants to see people established and solid so that they are not deceived and taken advantage of by false teachers. In verses 5-7 look at some of the ways that a person is established. List these out. 
  4. Look at verse 8. What are some of the ways that we can be tricked or deceived? In verse 9-10 what/who is the antidote to being deceived? Is there anything lacking in Him? 
  5. Verses 11-12 speak about how we died to the old life and that in Christ we are raised to a new life. Does your old life differ from your life now that you are a Christian? In verse 12, how do we access this new life? 
  6. Read verses 13-15. Re-state in your own words all of the things that Jesus accomplished at the cross. 
  7. In verses 16-23, Paul speaks of religious activity and rules (observing certain days, eating certain foods), and how all of those old testament observances were simply a shadow of Christ, but that He is the real thing. Shadows have no weight or mass, but they are a clue about the nearness of something this is real and does have substance. In other words, religious dos and don’ts are not what Christianity is really all about; Jesus is what it’s about! 
    a. Paul warns about a certain kind of false teacher in verses 18-19. Note the false teaching and religious practices in verse 18, but especially note verse 19, which is what keeps a person on the right track. 
    b. In verses 20-23, we see how there is a certain natural appeal to obeying religious rules, but note verse 23. What does following these rules do about the problem of our flesh (our self-serving nature)? Contrast this with how Jesus deals with the flesh in verses 11-14. 

Old Testament:
Isaiah 17- Syria
Isaiah 18- Unstable

Seeing The Invisible

Colossians 1:15
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.”

The heart of man cries out for God. From the small child, to the individual who has faced a devastating loss, or grueling pain, their hearts cry out to know God. In an attempt to answer the heart’s cry, men create God in their own image. Some have invented a vast, complicated religious system, while others have checked out. They have decided, with all the different religions, no one can know for sure. To this Paul has a simple answer,

“He is the image of the invisible God, . . .”

While we cannot see God with the natural eye, we do not have to live our lives as though He is hidden from us. In order to answer the cry of the heart, God sent His Son, so we would forever know who God is, and what He is like. There is no need to use our imaginations or experiences in an attempt to create a God who fits our liking. We just need to open the pages of the Bible and see for ourselves who God is. As we watch Jesus walk the streets of Israel, encountering people in their real life situations, we learn how God feels about us, and what He desires to do in our lives. We see Him reaching out to the hurting, with a hand of compassion, and we learn that He cares about our needs, concerns and pain. We watch as He interacts with sinners, and we find, in all our sin, He still loves us. He desires to forgive our sins and bring us to Himself. We know He spent time, daily, with those who chose to follow Him, revealing the secrets of eternity to them. We learn, as we walk with Him daily, He will speak to us. He even takes common men, whose lives would have gone unnoticed by the world, and uses them to make a mark on the world. Their service will outlast their lives, and they will store up treasures in heaven that will last forever.

Jesus is the image of the invisible God. We no longer have to guess who God is, or what He is like. We just need to know Jesus. Instead of listening to all the voices screaming out of confusion, attempting to explain a God they have never seen, let’s go to the pages of the Bible and meet Jesus face-to-face. What an amazing God we have, that He would take on the form of man to reveal Himself to us.

Why not pray right now and ask God to reveal Himself to you?

Pastor Jim

Questions for Colossians 1 
1. Faith, hope, and love are mentioned in verses 4 and 5. These are three foundations of the Christian faith. Who was their faith in? Who was their love for? What was their hope? 

2. In verse 9-12, Paul prays for the Colossians. List the things that he prays for them. If you have ever had a difficult time praying for anyone, this is a great model for us to follow as we seek to pray for God to work in people’s lives. 


3. Consider verses 13-14. What things does this verse say Jesus did for us? 

4. Read verses 15-17. Now read Genesis 1. What do these verses teach us about Jesus’ role in the creation of the universe? 

5. In verses 15-20, we read that in everything, Jesus should have the preeminence, that He should be first priority. Make a list of each time the word “all” is used in these verses and what it is describing each time. What does this tell us about Jesus’ rightful place in His creation and in our lives? 

6. In verses 20-23, we read that Jesus reconciled us to God even though we were once enemies in our mind toward Him. Outwardly, we may seem very different, but inwardly, we are very much the same: we are rebels, and want to do things our way, not God’s. Before Jesus, this was the rule, but now He remakes us from the inside out. How has God changed you since you received His Son into your life? 

7. When the bible speaks of a mystery, it speaks of a thing once hidden, but now revealed. The great mystery of the Scripture is the great salvation we have in Jesus. One of the amazing things about this salvation that distinguishes it from all other religion is that the creator of the universe, Jesus, comes to live in our hearts and to work inside of us. Take time to consider and think upon this. Thank God that He lives and works in us, not that we have to work it all out ourselves! 

8. In verse 28, notice that the main theme of Paul’s preaching is not a “what”, but a “who”: “Him we preach.” As you seek to be used by God to reach others, do you keep Jesus central? Politics, economics, world religion, current events, or any number of other things threatens to take the focus off of Him. Ask God to help you to continually bring things back to Jesus with others. 

Old Testament:
Isaiah 15- Wrong Number
Isaiah 16- Count Down

Your Account

Philippians 4:17
“Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that abounds to your account.”

As this letter comes to a close, Paul is careful to thank the Philippian church for their generosity. On numerous occasions they had sent aid to Paul, enabling him to continue in the ministry. Although he was not their pastor, they placed a high value on the activities he was undertaking for the kingdom, and sent financial support, as he took the Gospel around the world. Because of the sensitivity of the subject of giving, Paul is careful to sandwich it between two very important ministry principles.

 Philippians 4:11
“Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content . . .”

Paul was not looking at ministry as a way to make a living, or live a comfortable life. He saw the ministry for what it actually was, the call of God to bring the message of salvation to a dying world. As a result, he learned to be content in whatever condition he found himself. At times, Paul saw large numbers come to Christ and was able to focus his time and energies exclusively on ministry, since the church provided for his physical needs. Other times, whether by need or principle, Paul chose to work with his hands to provide for his needs, so as not to be a burden to others. In doing this, he learned he could be content with the call of God when things were comfortable, or when they were difficult.

Philippians 4:19
“And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

Often, when we hear preachers talk about giving, they make it sound as though the driving force behind ministry is money. They seem to imply, if you don’t give, the work of God will not continue. In a subtle way, they are saying God needs your cash because He cannot finance His own endeavors. Paul did not see it that way. He believed God would always supply what was needed for what He calls us to do.

Philippians 4:17
“Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that abounds to your account.”

Paul’s reason for discussing giving was not to manipulate the people into giving more, or to help finance a vision that he was developing. Instead, he was actually concerned for their personal growth. Knowing God would always provide for His own needs, Paul saw giving for what it truly is, an opportunity to trust the Lord, and grow in Christ. The same is true whether we are giving of our time, talents, or treasure. When we come to the place where we are willing to say “I am going to take however little or much I have, and give it to the Lord” It is then, that we are investing in things that are eternal. As a result, we begin to experience growth that we have never had before. Whether it is money, or serving in one capacity or another, do not look at giving to your local church as a burden, but as an opportunity to grow. As you step forward in faith, trusting yourself and all you have into the hands of Jesus, you will find that you begin to bear fruit in your life like never before. Serving Jesus with all you are, and all you have, is the fast track to growing in Christ and storing treasures in the life to come.

Pastor Jim

Questions for Philippians 4

  1. The chapter starts with Paul’s encouragement to be of the same mind (united), to rejoice and to be in prayer. Do we allow differences to steal our joy? Have we neglected our prayer time because there is no joy?
  2. What is the requirement for rejoicing in the Lord?
  3. Should we be anxious for anything? Why?
  4. When should we pray about things? Are there things we do not need to pray about?
  5. When you hear about a situation or think of a friend or neighbor, what comes to your mind? It is time for us to rethink how we think! Read verses 8-9 and start changing how you think! Romans 12:2 will help.
  6. No matter what our circumstances, we need to heed Paul’s advice and be content. What are your challenges today? Can you take the mind of Christ (Philippians 2:1-5)? You can do it! Read verse 13. Read John 15:5.

Old Testament:
Isaiah 13- Shaky
Isaiah 14- Pride Before A Fall

Beware Of Dogs

Philippians 3:2
Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the mutilation!”

Warning signs are all around us, cautioning us to beware of potential hazards. These signs warn the floor is slippery, the curve, sharp, the beam is low, or the dog is mean. As I sit here writing, my teacup reads, “Careful, the beverage you are about to enjoy is extremely hot.” Which seems obvious to me, since I did not order an iced drink. On the beaches in our community, there are signs warning of what to do in case of a tsunami; although we have never been hit by a tsunami, and experts tell us that the likelihood of such an event happening is almost zero. Because these warnings are so commonplace, we can become desensitized to them, and miss the ones that really matter.

Paul’s warnings are not to be taken lightly, as he tells us to be on guard against dogs, evil workers and the mutilation. He is using a common writing technique, where repetition is used for emphasis. He is not saying there are dogs, evil people, and mutilators to be aware of, but describing a certain group of people, using all three terms. He warned the Philippians to beware of those who would cause them to take their attention off of Jesus, and focus on works, as the measurement of their relationship with Jesus. Writing to the Corinthians, he put it like this,

2 Corinthians 11:3
“But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.”

When you came to Christ, you began a relationship with Him based upon His infinite love for you. You responded to that love by crying out to Him as Savior and Lord, and you began to follow Him. By reading your Bible, you learned of Him and were blessed by Him. You loved to be around others who loved Him like you did. Worship was amazing, as you expressed, in song, your gratitude and praise. People asked, “What happened to you? Why you were so different? Why you were not doing the things you used to do? Why you seemed so happy, even though circumstances might be quite difficult?” You were in love with Jesus, and enjoying the simplicity of Christ. But then, ever so subtly, you began to be lured away from the joy of salvation and simplicity of following Christ. Your relationship with Him began to be treated like a series of responsibilities; devotions, church attendance, service. Even sharing your faith, began to be treated like duty, rather than an expression of relationship.

If that has happened to you, allow me to use the words of Christ to the church in Ephesus, as a means of encouragement,

Revelation 2:5
“Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works

It is time to go back to those first works; that time when you simply loved Jesus and wanted to please Him. When you read the Bible, not to check off the reading card, but because you wanted to hear Him speak to your heart, and guide your life. When you told others about Jesus, and bragged about how He spoke to you every time you attend church. How He wants to do in others, what He is doing in you.

Be careful not to be drawn away from simply being in love with Jesus, and enjoying the relationship you have because of the Cross.

Pastor Jim

Questions for Philippians 3

  1. Sometimes we can pride ourselves in great accomplishments of our personal life or our career. Even in our spiritual life, pride can creep in and take a foot hold. Paul tells us to “have no confidence in the flesh.” He goes on to tell us that if anyone can be prideful about their personal life or career, it is him. Have you let pride sneak in to any area of your life?
  2. In verse 7, Paul brings a godly perspective. What have you considered gain that the Lord has shown you to count as loss?
  3. Verse 12 we get some encouraging advice. Press On! Dwell on verses 12-14. Ask the Holy Spirit to speak to you concerning these verses.
  4. Finally, we read that Heaven is our home, have you made Heaven your home? Remember chapter 1:6, compare it with verse 21. God is working! He is wanting to work in your life today! Are you going to allow Him too?

Old Testament:
Isaiah 11- Peace
Isaiah 12- The Well Of Salvation

Others

Philippians 2:17-18
Yes, and if 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. For the same reason you also be glad and rejoice with me.”

Prior to the death and resurrection of Christ, the prescribed manner of worship of God included an elaborate system of sacrifices. Every morning, every evening, and on prescribed dates throughout the year, animals were offered as burnt offerings to provide atonement for the sins of the people. Each of the sacrifices pointed in one way or another to Christ. As the Son of God, His death provided more than all the offerings could ever do. Peter wrote,

“For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit, . . . ” 1 Peter 3:18

It is not difficult to see a portrait of Christ in the Passover lamb, the scapegoat, or the sin offerings, but what of this drink offering? Did you notice, Paul does not refer to Christ, but to himself as this offering? The drink offering, described in Numbers 15, was designed to accompany the various offerings. If a person brought a free will offering to the Lord, to express thanks to God for who He is, and all He has done, they were to include a jug of wine as a drink offering. This offering did not provide atonement, but accompanied the offering, making the aroma that much sweeter, as it was laid upon the altar. Paul saw his role in the life of others like that. He realized, each individual must present themselves as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to the Lord, but he would spend his life helping to make the sacrifice of others sweeter.

As we follow his story throughout the New Testament, we see he exemplifies what it means to love your neighbor as yourself. His whole life was about living for Christ, as an example to others. He spent his time, effort, and energies ensuring the Gospel was declared, and the Christian was well equipped to live for Christ. He risked his comforts and even his life, to bring the message of salvation to those who had never heard.

How do you suppose our impact upon the world would change if we saw ourselves as a drink offering, being poured out on the sacrifice of others? What kind of influence could we have for the kingdom of God, if we looked at ourselves as being in the lives of others, to help them come to Christ, and grow in Him? Writing to the Corinthians, Paul said, “I will very gladly spend and be spent for your souls.” 2 Corinthians 12:15

Let’s determine to live like that, impacting all around us for heaven’s sake.

Pastor Jim

Questions for Philippians 2

  1. Verse 3, “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition of conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself” What can you do with this verse in your life today?
  2. Verse 4, “Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” Can you find an opportunity to apply this verse as well?
  3. This one needs to go on the refrigerator! Verse 14 “DO all things without complaining or arguing.”  Read John 13:35, Galatians 5:13, 1 Peter 3:8 and 1 John 3:11

Old Testament:
Isaiah 9- When He Comes
Isaiah 10- Improved

What Happened To Me?

Philippians 1:12-14
But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel, so that it has become evident to the whole palace guard, and to all the rest, that my chains are in Christ; and most of the brethren in the Lord, having become confident by my chains, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.”


As Paul is writing this letter to the church in Philippi, he is chained to a soldier and sitting in a Roman prison. He was incarcerated, not for making foolish decisions, choosing the wrong path, or getting in with the wrong crowd. His imprisonment was due to a rising hostility in the Roman world towards the message of the cross. We might say, Paul was facing difficulties outside of his control. Life is like that. Even when we decide to live pleasing to the Lord, we still face hardship, difficulty and opposition. It interests me what Paul has to say about the results of his hardship.

“The things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel, . . . 

In the midst of the storm he was facing, Paul realized that while it was creating hardship for him, it was also creating opportunity for others to come to Christ, or grow in Christ. He wrote of how the palace guard had come to know that his chains were in Christ. Rather than whining in prison about how unfair life was, Paul used his circumstances as a chance to tell others about the forgiveness of sins found in Jesus. While it is always easier to speak of Jesus when we are experiencing the blessings of life, the message has an added impact when it is shared through the backdrop of suffering. What a thrilling experience it must have been for those guards, to meet a man who was in prison and was actually innocent. Instead of hearing him complain, and play the blame game, they listened intently as he shared about the love of Christ, and the way of salvation. In Chapter 4, he mentions that the gospel message even reached into Caesar’s household, and many were won to Christ.

“. . .most of the brethren in the Lord, having become confident by my chains, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.”

In addition to the spreading of the Gospel, Paul’s attitude during difficulty, also had a great affect on believers. Those who were once timid and reserved, regarding their faith, found a new sense of boldness to share. A revival broke out in Philippi as one man mustered the courage to share with another about the unsearchable riches of Christ. The most effective evangelism is not through giant rallies, but through one person sharing the love of Christ with another. Evangelism has its greatest rewards when you and I will speak the Word, without fear, to our neighbors, friends, family and co-workers. As we muster the courage to invite them to church, or strike up a conversation with them about the Cross, we demonstrate our genuine interest in them.

Paul saw his circumstances as a backdrop, in which the message of the Cross would have an even greater impact upon those around him. How about you? What is your attitude in the midst of the things you are currently facing? Do you see them as the chains of Christ and use them as an opportunity to share the Gospel with others? There is a world in need of hearing the message of Christ, and we are His mouthpiece. Pray that Jesus would open new doors for you to share His love with others. Who knows what kind of revival might break out, as other believers are stirred to boldness, as a result of your step of faith.

Questions for Philippians 1

  1. Paul states in verse 3 that when he remembers or thinks about his friends in Philippi and when he does, he prays for them. Who has God laid on your heart to pray for today?
  2. He prays with all joy and confidence. What is he confident in?
  3. Sometimes we often think of the bad things or the trouble that people are in. Is there a way that you can change your prayer life when you lift people up in prayer? Verse 6
  4. How about verse 9-10, when is the last time you prayed for your church, family or friends making this request?
  5. Verse 20 Paul states that “with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death”. We can ask any of our friends, co-workers or family if our lives magnify the Lord, would we accept the answer we hear?
  6. Paul is longing to go home to be with Jesus, but he says in verse 24 that remaining is more needful for you. Do we look at our lives as to what we can get or accomplish or do we look within understanding that “others” need us?

Pastor Jim
Old Testament:
Isaiah 7- Great Promises
Isaiah 8- We’re Watching

Battleground

Ephesians 6:14-18
Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints”

In Chapter 5, Paul compared our relationship with Jesus as a walk. Now he compares it to a battleground. We are told we have an enemy, the devil, who plans strategies against us. His goal is to get us to fall into sin, or to live so self-consumed, we have little or no positive effect upon others for the kingdom. As we watch him at work in the pages of God’s Word, we see his method is to use fear and discouragement, as well as to tempt us with the pleasures of the world. Here, Paul explains how we can be prepared for the daily battle we face. His description is of a soldier girded for war. Each element of his armor is designed to deal with a different attack.

The belt of truth refers to the Word of God. Having sound knowledge of Biblical doctrines will keep you from being misled by the subtle schemes of the enemy. Daily reading, and weekly Bible Study, will help prepare you for these attacks. The breastplate protects the heart from mortal wounds. Notice, our breastplate is the righteousness we receive when we trust in Christ for salvation. Daily failures can discourage the believer from moving forward. Those are the times when we look at the cross, remember our sins were paid in full, and His righteousness was given in exchange for simple trust. Since the Christian life is a journey, shoes are important, and we wear Gospel shoes. Everywhere we go, we should seek to take the light of the Gospel of the glory of Jesus with us. When we go on the offensive, we are less likely to be tripped up by the simple things.

Next, Paul mentions a weapon that is, in his own words, more important than all the rest. He states, “above all take the shield of faith.” Faith is critical to our journey and the battle. Faith has become a very mystical word, hard to define. It simply means to trust. If we are going to withstand the enemy’s attacks, we must put our confidence in the promises and warnings of God’s Word. Too often, we ignore the warnings of the Word, thinking somehow we are the exception to the rule. The shield of faith is activated when we choose to trust the Word of God over emotion, circumstances, and the voice of others.

As the breastplate protects the heart, the helmet was designed to protect the head. Head injuries can be mortal or can simply knock us out of the fight for a while. The mind is the battlefield where the enemy discharges his greatest attacks in the night hours, after an argument, before a decision, or in the midst of temptation. The mind becomes a battlefield where war is waged against us. The secret to victory is the helmet of salvation. When we remember what we have been saved from, what we have been saved to, and how God wants to use us in the salvation of others, our minds become filled with the very things which will help us withstand the attack.

Finally, Paul speaks of an offensive weapon. He tells us we have been equipped with a sword, but not just any sword. This is the Sword of the Spirit, defined as the Word of God. Since I have no military training, I am pleased to read that it is the Spirit’s sword. When we open our mouth and begin to share the promises of the Word with others, the Holy Spirit takes those words and uses them like a sword to impact the heart. How often have you heard the Word of God spoken and been convicted, encouraged, empowered or directed? The Holy Spirit will do the same through you, as He has done in you.

Gird up guys, it is time for battle!

Questions for Ephesians 6

  1. Paul gives very practical words for us. As children, are we obeying our parents? As parents, are we provoking our children? Or bringing them up in the ways of God?
  2. Verse 5-9 although we are not bondservants or masters, these principles can be applied in all areas of life. Are you being a Godly employee or boss? Are you doing the things as “bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart?” (a servant gets payment for services, a bondservant depends on the Master for everything!
  3. We need to know that there is a Devil out there, and he is attacking us. How are you equipping yourself for that? Are you taking on the full armor of God?
  4. List the areas of armor you are strong in, and then list your weak areas. Pray and ask the Lord to fill the gaps (with His Spirit-Zechariah 4:6), to strengthen you (with His gifting-I Corinthians 13:13). Now……are you producing fruit (Ephesians 5:22)?

Pastor Jim
Old Testament:
Isaiah 5- Expanding
Isaiah 6- Then He Said Go

Love Walks

Ephesians 5:2
And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling aroma.”

The Christian life is like a journey. It begins when we put our trust in Christ for salvation, and ends as we cross the finish line entering into glory. In an age of high-speed travel, we often endure the journey for the sake of the destination. I have sat next to people on airplanes who were “white knuckling” the arm rests. I could tell they hate the idea of flying, but it was a necessity in order to reach their destination. The Christian life is not like that. The journey is as important as the destination. Walking, because it is such a slow means of travel, allowed for fellowship, life lessons, and teaching times to take place between Jesus and His disciples. He desires the same for us. As we go through life, we should see each day as a walk with the Lord. A walk in which we can commune with Him and learn from Him. Here in Ephesians Paul exhorts us on how to walk and what paths to take as we journey with Jesus toward glory.

“And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us…”

Whenever the weather allowed it, my parents would take an evening stroll together. I would watch as they walked out the door and down the drive. They were not walking to get anywhere in particular, they were never in a hurry and to my knowledge, they never came back with anything more than what they left with. These walks were simply a time to hang out together and talk about the things which concerned them. Sometimes the discussions would be deep and important, other times light and casual. Though they never used this term, we might call these “love walks.” Paul is reminding us, our walk with Jesus is a walk of love. He reminds us of the love Christ has for us, demonstrated by giving Himself for us as a sacrifice for sin. He then exhorts us to return that love by treating others the way Christ has treated us. If the golden rule is to ‘do to others what we want them to do to us’; this rule is platinum. Love like you have been loved by God. That love involves setting a godly example for others by removing sin from your own life.

“Walk as children of light…”

Light and darkness are often used metaphorically in Scripture. The life we lived before meeting Jesus was a life of darkness. We behaved the way we did because we did not know any better. However, when we met Christ, the light was turned on, and we saw life in a brand new light. Paul is reminding us that in our walk with Jesus, there are paths which we must avoid. Paths leading to the behaviors we were involved in before Christ are off-limits to us. Instead, we should be taking steps toward finding out what is acceptable to the Lord. As you go about your day, facing its opportunities and challenges, what steps do you take to search out what is acceptable to God? Are your decisions based upon what you think, feel, or have heard from others, or do you take time to consider the Word of God, to find the ways of God? Remember, the Psalmist told us, His Word is like “a lamp unto my feet and a light to my path.” (Psalm 119:105)

“See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise”

Circumspectly means carefully. By using this word, Paul is reminding us that while we are on a love walk with Jesus, the path we are on has some pretty serious pitfalls. There are times when we face great danger as we walk with the Lord, and the key to success is to be careful. He tells us, this walk is no place for folly. A word that could simply mean not to goof off. We might scold our children to stop fooling around, because the situation is dangerous and they need to be sober-minded. While there certainly is a need to take our relationship with the Lord seriously, the Psalmist used the word ‘fool’ in a different context. He stated, “the fool has said in his heart that there is no God” (Psalm 14:1). The greatest folly we need to avoid as we journey with Jesus, is living as though there is no God. Making decisions without seeking Him, neglecting to spend time in His Word, in prayer, in service, and attempting to do things our own way, or in our own strength, is folly.

Paul reminds us, while we may be walking pretty slowly, time is running out. Soon, each of us will reach the end of our journey, and find ourselves face to face with Jesus. It is important that we take time, today, to consider how we are walking.

Questions for Ephesians 5

  1. Paul exhorts us to be imitators of God as children. What exactly does that mean?
  2. When we think about the love God has showed us, does that make it easier to love others?
  3. Verse 5 says “For this you know…” and verse 6 says “Let no one deceive you with empty words..”. The world says these things are ok, what does God’s word say? Do you know and are you being deceived?
  4. Verse 12 is there anything in your life that would be shameful if it was brought to the light?
  5. Verse 15, walking circumspectly means “unwilling to take risk”. How do you view the sins Paul is addressing in this chapter? How does the world view them?
  6. Memorize verse 21.
  7. Verse 22 Wives, are you submitting to your husbands? Husbands, are you loving your wives like Christ loves the church?
  8. Sometimes we can make the marriage relationship complicated and difficult. Think how your marriage would be if you both worked hard at fulfilling this instruction?

Pastor Jim

Old Testament:

Isaiah 3- Leading The Way
Isaiah 4- The Branch

Church

Ephesians 4:11-12
And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ”

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“And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers”

When writing to Timothy, Paul stated, the church was the “pillar and foundation of the truth.” In other words, the primary purpose of the church is to hold up the truth of the Word of God. Peter was exhorted by Jesus to feed the sheep. In Acts, we read the Apostles gave themselves continually to the Word of God. While church provides a place for corporate worship and to establish godly relationships, the primary role of the church is to teach you the Word of God. In order for that to happen, God has given to the church the gifted men listed here. Their role was to dish out the Word of God to the people.

For the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ”

The reason the Word of God plays such a crucial role in the church, is because of the effect it has when taught. Paul states, these gifted teachers were given to the church so believers would be edified and equipped. The word ‘edify’ means to build up. It was a word which had its place in the construction world. After a foundation was laid, a building was constructed or built up. The Word of God has the ability to do that for the believer. As we are daily beat down by the obstacles we face in the world, the church was designed, by God, as a place for us to go hear the Word and be built up again. When we neglect gathering at our local church, we miss out on being edified with the Word.

Paul also says the Word of God has the ability to equip for ministry. Ministry is a big word which speaks of the things done for the furtherance of the Kingdom of God. It would include sharing Christ with unbelievers, helping to disciple Christians, young and old, and training the next generation of Christian leaders. It refers to things that are intrinsically spiritual, like preaching the Gospel or teaching the Bible, but would also be concerned with setting up chairs, cleaning windows, running sound or picking someone up for church. It was never the intention of God that the work of the ministry be done by the professionals. Instead, He desires that we all recognize we have been called to the ministry, and attending church where we are taught the Word of God, is what equips us for the task.

It is important that we recognize the value of gathering regularly with our local church. The New Testament speaks of the people gathering at least every week on the Lord’s day. I understand, we all face opposition to attending regularly, but I also recognize the opposition comes from the devil, who wants to keep us from being equipped and edified. Before I end, allow me one more thought. Live streaming the services to your living room is a great blessing. To be able to listen to the Bible studies when we are sick, injured or away from our church is a great benefit, but it does not replace the need for regular attendance. It is hard to do the work of the ministry, if you are not physically in attendance. Enjoy the luxury, but don’t neglect showing up and getting involved.

Questions for Ephesians 4

  1. How do we “keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace?”
  2. God Himself gives some to be apostles, prophets, evangelist, pastors and teachers. How has He gifted you?
  3. What are these gifts for?
  4. How does Paul define having “the fullness of Christ?”
  5. Have you learned Christ? Is there anything in your life that you need to put off? Vs. 22
  6. A lot of instruction in vs. 25-32. List the specifics of how Paul is instructing us to live.
  7. How are you doing in these areas? Look at these characteristics and as God to help you in your weak areas. We have to take an honest look at ourselves. May the Holy Spirit speak to you, strengthen you and encourage you!
  8. Read Matthew 6:14-15

Pastor Jim
Old Testament:
Isaiah 1- Let’s Make A Deal
Isaiah 2- The War Is Over

Exceedingly Abundantly

Ephesians 3:20
Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us”

Prayer is the great privilege of the Christian. With it, we are given access to the throne of God. Every care, no matter how small, can be cast at His feet. Every mountain, no matter how large, can be removed through prayer. Prayer was a daily activity in the life of Christ. He rose early for prayer; stayed up late into the night praying. He prayed before making decisions, facing obstacles or simply to give thanks to the Father for what He had provided.

Prayer was an important part of the life of the Apostles. They were taught to pray, by Jesus. After His resurrection, they often gathered for prayer. Through prayer, they learned to wait on the promises of God, seek the mind of God, and receive strength from God.

Prayer is a common subject in the Epistles. Just as the Apostles were taught by Jesus to pray, and had seen the effectiveness of prayer in their lives and ministries, it was important they teach us to pray. Why then do we often neglect to pray? Is it possible we neglect praying because we are afraid that it may not work? Sometimes, when faced with obstacles, we try using our own strength, wisdom and resources. When that does not work, we seek the strength, wisdom and resources of others. It is only when those fail that, as a last resort, we begin to pray.

“Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us

Paul had a different view of prayer. He believed the power of God was sufficient to do all that he asked. No matter what obstacles Paul faced, he knew God was able. But his view of the ability of God did not stop there. He also believed God was able to do more than he asked. He describes the power of God as exceedingly, abundantly above whatever obstacle he was facing; and we know the apostle faced some pretty serious obstacles. He believed in a big God, and as a result, was not afraid to ask big things from God. He even prayed that we would be “filled with the fullness of God.”

That view of prayer comes from good theology and good practices. In other words, Paul knew who God was. He had read story after story of men and women facing obstacles much bigger than themselves. Rather than relying on their own resources, they sought God and found Him able. Paul did not stop with the stories of others. When faced with his own obstacles, he sought God, and as he prayed, he found that God was able. Prayer is something that is best learned by doing. Classes on prayer have their place, but nothing beats falling down before the Lord, crying out to Him, and seeing Him do exceedingly, abundantly above what we asked for.

Can you Imagine, you are given a key that gives you access to the vault of the world’s largest bank? Whenever you are faced with a financial crisis, all you have to do is take out the key, and access the vault. Can you also imagine the folly of not using the key because you are concerned that it might not work?

Let’s pray!

Pastor Jim

Questions for Ephesians 3
1. What does Paul mean when we says that he is a “prisoner of Jesus Christ?” During this time Paul was a prisoner of Rome. What is his perspective?

2. Verse 6 says that the Gentiles are now fellow heirs. Who are they fellow heirs with?

3. Verse 8 Paul calls himself “the least of all saints.” Our past sins can often remind us of our formers lives before Christ, yet God’s grace is given. Paul was astounded at the grace given to him and he was called to preach. Read Romans 3:23
What 2 characteristics do we have through faith? Are these evident in your life?

4. How are we to know the love of Christ? Are you filled with all fullness?

5. Memorize vs. 20. Write it down and read it throughout the day.

Old Testament:
Song Of Songs 7- Roses Are Red
Song Of Songs 8- Strong Love