Monday, January 31, 2011

Introduction to Ephesians

Paul wrote this letter to the church at Ephesus during  his first imprisonment  in  Rome during A.D. 62 or 63. Probably, the couple Priscilla and Aquila were left there by Paul on his second missionary journey (Acts 18-19). Apollos spent some time there, according to Acts 18:24-28.  Later, Paul served as their pastor for three years. Then Timothy pastored the congregation for about a year and a half. These early believers often gathered in homes, out of doors, even in caves during persecution.

The four letters Paul wrote while in prison at Rome include Ephesians, Colossians, Philemon, and Philippians.
These four books of the Bible are known as the "Prison Epistles."

Some say this was meant to be a circular letter, going to various churches in the Asian region, but didn't occur.

According the Illustrated bible Handbook, the probable dates of the writings of these books of the New Testament put them in this order: James, Galatians, 1 & 2 Thessalonians, Romans, 1 & 2 Corinthians, Ephesians, Colossians, Philemon, and Philippians. Notice they do not appear in our King James Version
in that order.

The Theme: The epistle emphasizes the living church being one with Christ, He is the Head of the body of
                      believers; He is the Chief Corner Stone of his building; He is the Bridegroom of His bride. The
                      church  is a living organism; it is not an institution. Salvation by grace through faith is Paul's
                      The apostle taught that Gentile and Jewish believers are one in Christ. He used the agape,
                      "to love" nineteen times in this letter.

Ephesus was the capital city of the Roman province of Asia, which is modern Turkey. In ancient times, the city was known as "the Landing Place" because of its seaport and gateway to Asia. Its population was apporximately 340,000.
Ephesus was noted for the Great Temple of Diana (Artemis), an open-air theatre seating 25,000 and the shrine of Serapis (an Egyptian divinity. The temple was four times the size of the Parthenon of Athens. Famous Ephesus had rich culture-Oriental religion, Greek philosophy, Roman government, and worldwide commerce.
Tradesmen and souvenir makers, as well as providing food and lodging, all depended on the temple trade. In addition, the temple served as a treasury, a bank where kings, cities, and individuals made deposits and drew loans.
[Resources: Shepherd's Notes, Illustrated Bible Handbook by Lawrence O. Richards, The MacArthur Bible Handbook by John MacArthur, Liberty Bible Commentary by Jerry Falwell]

Here's an outline for Ephesians given in  The MacArthur Bible Handbook:
I. Salutation (1:1-2)
II. God's Purpose for the Church (1:3-3:13)
     A. Predestination in Christ
     B. Redemption in Christ
     C. Inheritance in Christ
     D. Resources in Christ
     E. New Life in Christ
     F. Unity in Christ
III. God's Fullness for the Church (3:14-21)
IV. God's Plan for Faithful Living in the Church (4:1-6)
V. God's Son Endows and Builds the Church (4:7-16)
VI. God's Pattern and Principles for Members of the Church (4:17-32)
VII. God's Standards for Faithfulness in the Church (5:1-21)
        A. Walking in Love
        B. Living in Light
        C. Walking in Wisdom and Sobriety
        D. Filled with God's Spirit
VIII. God's Standard for Authority and Submission in the Church (5:22-6:9)
        A. Husbands and Wives
        B. Parents and Children
        C. Employers and Employees
IX. God's Provision for His Children's Spiritual Battles (6:10-17)
      A. The Believer's Warfare
      B. The Believer's Armor
X. God's Appeal for Prayer in the Church (6:18-20)
XI. Benediction (6:21-24)  

Certainly Paul wrote to this church at Ephesus, a specific congregation, but let's think of it  as a letter written from God to us believers in our present time. Then consider the question, "What is it God wants to say to me?"
Now that we have a little background, we will be ready to go treasure hunting tomorrow. Put on  your old clothes and bring a spade, rather the Bible, ready to dig in.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Summary of Galatians

Summary of Galatians

Paul was in Anitoch when he wrote the first of 13 letters, which make up the majority of our New Testament.
He and Barnabas had evangelized the region while on their first missionary journey.

As I reviewed this book, I first had to look for the quote by Jerry Falwell in his book, Liberty Bible Commentary: "Paul sets forth grace as opposed to law, faith as opposed to works, and spirit as opposed to flesh."

Yes, Falwell summed it up-grace, faith, spirit, not law, works, flesh. I know throughout my Christian years, I've been guilty of focusing on the latter instead of the first list. My focus should be on Jesus and His teachings, then I won't have that problem.

Here are some verses that are the golden nuggets in my Bible. Do you have any others you'd like to share?

1:10-"For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should
          not be the servant of Christ."
1:15-"But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb, and called me by his grace."
2:16-"Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we
          have believed in Jesus Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no
          flesh be justified."
2:20- "I am crucified with Christ' nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now
          live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me."
3:11-"But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, 'The just shall live by faith.' "
3:13a-"Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law..."
3:26-"For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus."
4:6-  "And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba,
5:1-  "Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with
          the yoke of bondage."
5:6-  "For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcisiion; but faith which worketh
          by love."
5:13- "For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use no liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by
          love serve one another."
5:16- "This I say the, 'Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh."
5:22-25-"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness,
               temperance; against such there is no law. And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the
               affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit."
6:2-  "Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ."
6:7-  "Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap."

There we have it folks, a lot of good promises and directions wrapped up in only six chapters.


Live by grace, faith, and the Spirit of God.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Fruit Pickin'

Galatians 5-Part 3
But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.
If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.
Galatians 5:22-25


Paul described the kind of person that lapses into uncontrolled indulgences of the flesh discussed in our last lesson. Now he presents the Christian alternative. Since we made it through the tough meat of the Word,  let's get some sweets.

In the book of Galatians from Shepherd's Notes, we find:
Paul uses several distinct verbs to illustrate the Spirit-controlled life of the believer, all of which are roughly equivalent in meaning. He urges believers to:
  1. Be led by the Spirit (verse 18).
  2. Live by the Spirit (verse 25a).
  3. Keep in step with the Spirit (verse 25b).
Each of these verbs suggests a relationship of dynamic, interaction, direction, and purpose. The Spirit in the life of the believer means the presence and power of God in the believer's life.

In regard to verse 24, David Guzik said,"We are to constantly 'nail it to the cross,' so it hangs there, alive yet powerless over us. Although the flesh is still alive it cannot very well act upon its desires because it is bound and nailed to the cross. If we are one of those who are Christ's, then we belong to Him-not to this world, not to ourself, not to our passions and desires. The Spirit has given you life. Now let Him direct your steps. Isn't that the least we can do?"

Yes, Lord, lead me and direct my steps.


As a child, I helped  Mom  pick fruit. We either had the trees on our farm, or we went to an orchard. We picked cherries, pears, peaches, apples, and strawberries. All the fruit, except the strawberries, grew on its own tree. Even though  these are very different and distinct fruit of its own kind, they are all labeled as fruit, not vegetables. (When we got enough picked, in the kitchen we would wash, peel, and slice the fruit. Then she would either freeze or can them.) so it is with the fruit of the Spirit. They are different, but all produced by the Holy Spirit within us. (Guess we can't be picky fruit pickers, can we?)

All believers have all the fruit qualities available to them, not just one person having this one and another person having that one. That's because they are produced by the same Spirit. And we don't pick and choose those we like.

"Fruit is singular in verse 22. There are not 9 fruits, but one fruit composed of 9 elements. The first three are in relation to God; the next three are in relation to man; and the last three are in relation to one's own inner life," said J. Falwell in Liberty Bible Commentary.

Shall we get pickin' ?
1. Love: This is agape love, God's kind of love. "It chooses to love the undeserving and people you don't
               like. It's beyond natural affection, or the loyalty to blood or family. It isn't eros, a romantic love; it
               isn't philia, a love for a friend; it isn't storge, family love," stated William Barclay.
               I Cor. 13 tells us that God's love is patient, kind, bears, believes, hopes, and endures all things.
               This is a self-denying, self-sacrificing, Christlike love which is the foundation of all other graces
2. Joy: The Greek word is chara. It means rejoicing, gladness, enjoyment, bliss. Joy is the result of realizing
             our names are written in heaven, when we find salvation; we discover the person, power, and plan
             of God in our circumstances; the result of our fellowship with God in Christ is restored whenever
             broken; it's produced when we remain in Christ.
             It's a deep abiding, inner rejoicing in the Lord.
3. Peace: Eirene is the Greek word, which means peace of mind, tranquility. Jesus is our Prince of Peace.
                It belongs to Christ and is only His to give. He had perfect peace in aloneness, provision, the
                storm, the wait, the tears, God's plan, and His death. The world can't take it away from us.
4. Longsuffering: It is patient endurance and steadfastness under provocation; forbearance under ill-will,
                             with no thought of retaliation.
                             Two Greek words translate into patience-hupomone, which means to bear up under
                             circumstances or things; makrothumia, which means putting up with people, merciful.
5. Gentleness: Graciousness, kindly disposition.
                         The Greek word is chrestotes, which means tender concern for others.
6. Goodness: Ready to do good, love in action.
                       Agathosune is the Greek word, which means benevolent and active goodness; gentleness,
                       kindness, a mellowing of character. Its purpose is to do or bring that which is most beneficial,
                       whether or not it is that which is most popular; going for the good. It is character energized,
                       expressing itself in active good.
7. Faith: Faithfulness to both God and people. It is fidelity which makes one true to his promise and faithful
               to his task.
              The Greek word for faithfulness is pistis, which means firm persuation, conviction, belief in the
               truth, veracity. It carries the idea of giving someone credit. Faithfulness is believing the reality of a
               sovereign God. He can be trusted.
8.  Meekness: Not weekness, but controlled strength. This word conveys the idea of a listening ear to hear
                         what God has to say. It is submission to God and unselfishness to our fellowmen.
                         Praotes is translated goodness; it is seen in submission, humility, and teachability.
                         In 2 Cor. 12:10 Paul said, "When I am weak, then I am strong."
                         This character trait denotes a life surrendered to real power. Only a gentle giant can stand
                         before Pilate with no need to defend Himself. Jesus both pictures and epitomizes the gentle
9. Temperance: Self-control; Rational restraint of the natural impulses.
                           The Greek word for self-control is egkrateia, which means continence, temperance, self-
                           control. It means restraining passions and appetites. Don't we all need to control ourself
                           when it comes to money, position, and possessions.
                           I suppose that means controlling what enters and exits my mouth.
[References: Liberty Bible Commentary, Living Beyond Yourself by Beth Moore]

These nine qualities are a beautiful description of Jesus Christ. To have the fruit of the Spirit is to be like Christ. God develops fruit of the Spirit in your life by allowing you to experience circumstances in which you're tempted to express the exact opposite quality! If He wants to develop peace within us, He allows times of chaos and confusion. (Rick Warren in The Purpose Driven Life)

There we have it. Be ready for some trials, friend, so we can put these character qualities into practice. I have found that when I learn something, I'm often tested on it. We are successful only as we surrender to Jesus for our source of them.
I want to be real fruit, not fake fruit.


Be led by, live by, and keep in step with the Holy Spirit.

Allow Him to exhibit fruit of the Spirit in my life.


Bear, Care, and Share

Galatians 6
Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.   Galatians 6:2


One time my son and I dug up a small area in the back yard and planted a little garden. We put three seeds of corn on a hill of dirt, as I had heard that was the proper way. We did this in several rows, since corn was our family's favorite vegetable. Sure enough, plants grew from the seeds planted. Then they matured and produced ears of corn on the stalks. We reaped more than what we planted-one seed yielded an abundance of  kernels. Paul says our life is like that. Read on, friend.

In verses 7-9, Paul states,"Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.

Paul tells us whatever we sow with our life, we are going to reap. If we sow love, we will reap love. If we sow hatefulness, we will reap hatefulness. (Sometimes we get what we didn't sow because of someones else's harvest.) If we sow to the flesh, guess what, we will reap corruption. If we sow to the Spirit, guess what, we will reap life everlasting. In 2 Corinthians 9:6, he talks about how we sow-sparingly or bountifully.

Well, I need to patience to wait for the harvest. Sometimes it doesn't come immediately after we sow the seeds. Also, work is hard and painful. Just as a woman in labor endures the pain, she enjoys a sweet baby afterwards. So we may reap from our good works while living here or we may not reap from them until we get to heaven. Either case, hang on dear one. Don't faint. Don't quit doing good in this old world. Keep sowing love.

As verse 10 tells us, "As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith." I should be looking for ways in which I can do good things to others.
Mom used to say, "What goes around, comes around." It was the same principle that God has established here on earth for us-sow and reap. I for one, need to watch what I'm sowing  in order that my harvest will be good and not bad.


Now, let's go back to verse 2, our key verse. I found some interesting information on this verse.

In his book, The Epistles, Galatians, J. Vernon McGee had this to say:
Eleven different words are translated by our one English word burden. This means thare are different kinds of burdens. Paul divides burdens into two classes: those we can share, and those we must bear and cannot share. In verse 2, you could translate it like this: "The burdens of each other, keep bearing." The Greek word for burden is baros, meaning "something heavy." Someone has said that a load is only half a load when two are carrying it.

Burden , baros, also means "fault."  "If a man is overtaken in a fault" That's his burden. You could help him bear it. We all have faults, and that's a burden. Many times we fall down, and many times we see a brother fall down. "Ye which are spiritual, restore such an one."

 It also means infirmity, a weakness, an ignorance, a pressure, a tension a grief. We can share tensions. Tranquilizers won't solve our problems. I don't know about you, but I live in "Tension Town." Many of us are under pressure and tension today. This is certainly a burden we need to bear with one another.
the third burden you and I can share is known as grief. The burden of tragedy, sorow, disappointment is inevitable in the human family. If it hasn't come to you, it will come. Job's three friends spent seven days sitting with Job and sorrowing with him. Grief is a burden you can share.

The word burden, in verse 5, is the Greek phortion, meaning "a load to be borne."It is used to speak of a child in the womb-only a mother could bear it. J.B. Phillips paraphrased it,"For every man must 'shoulder his own pack.'" There are certain burdens you will have to face alone. You will get sick, and no one can take your place. Suffering and mental anguish are things we cannot share. Another burden we cannot share with anyone is death. There will come a time when each of us will go down through the valley of the shadow of death, and we will go alone.

Another Greek word for burden is Bema, which is the judgment seat of Christ. Christians will appear before Christ, as in 2 Cor.5:10. Everything that we have done in the flesh as a Christian is to be judged to see whether or not we receive a reward. Salvation is not in question-that was settled for the believer at the cross of Christ. (Rom.14:12 says we will give an account of ourself to God.)

Last, is the burden of sin, which Paul speaks of in the first part of Romans and David speaks of in Ps. 38:4.
Sin is a burden you cannot share with anyone else. And sin is a burden you cannot bear, my friend. In Matthew 11:28, Jesus said,"Come unto mee, all ye that lavour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." He can lift the havey buraden of sin today, and it is because He paid the penalty for it. He alone can lift it; He alone can take it from you.

What do you do with your burdens? There are some burdens you can share, others that you must bear alone. Your personal sin is a burden too heavy for you; it is either on you or it is on Christ. And Christ does not share it-He bore it all.

So what keeps us from bearing one anothers burdens and fulfilling the law of Christ? Pride, which is when anyone thinks himself to be something, when he's nothing. Pride is self-focus. (David Guzik)


Sow good things not bad.

Remember that I will reap what I have sown.

Care about others and help them bear their  burdens; lend a helping hand by lifting heavy loads.

Share my own burdens with others so they can help me bear them.

Take my burdens to Jesus, the ones I am bearing alone.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

How am I Walking?

  Galatians 5-Part 2   
This I say then, Walk in the spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.
Galatians 5:16


I like going for walks on my country road. It refreshes me as I get away from the demands of the world and observe nature. Since I live out in the country, the peace and quiet is wonderful (except for sounds of WalMart truck rolling on the highway 1/2 mile away). Lately, I have watched an eagle perched in the same tree now, 3 or 4 days in a row. He must be finding rodents to eat. He is such a huge, strong bird that soars in the sky. Then I notice the cardinals, briliantly red small birds flying around in the bushes. Every once in a while, there's a quail somewhere saying his "bobwhite". Since the snow, the bluejays come on my porch to eat out of the catfood bowl. Now that's a cocky bird, very demanding. but he's alert, always looking about for anything that can attack him, since he's close to the ground. All these birds depend upon the Lord for their food, which He provides. Guess I wondered off the path a little.
How do I walk along this road? Carefully. There are muddy places, chug holes, rocky spots, ruts. Then there are smooth, easy going places, which are tracks made by traffic. Wait. Life is like that. Especially if I'm living by my flesh and not being led by the Spirit of God. Let's look at verse 16.

"Walk is a common picture of traveling the "road of life" and making progress upon it. How are you progressing in life? Many people have a distinct walk, and can be identified by the way they walk. So, how do you walk? What can others tell by your walk? It should be a walk in the Spirit. The Holy Spirit lives in you. You are open and sensitive to the influence of the Holy Spirit. You pattern your life after the influence of the Holy Spirit. If someone walks in the Spirit, they look a lot like Jesus. They listen to what the Holy Spirit says as He guides in the path and nature of Jesus," stated David Guzik. 

J. Vernon McGee said in his book, The Epistles, Galatians:
This verse states the great principle of Christian living-walk by means of the Spirit. The word for walk is peripateo, which means just "to walk up and down." This Greek word was used for a school of philosophy in Athens, Greece, in which the founder walked up and  down as he taught. The principle for us is walking in the Spirit. If we do, we will not "fulfill the lust of the flesh."
The word lust  in our usage today has an evil connotation, which the Greek word does not have. Lust of the flesh refers to the desires of the flesh, many of which are not immoral, but are of the flesh (music, art, and works of do-gooders, etc.). There are many things which in themselves are not evil, but they can take the place of spiritual things, such as hobbies, tv, books, movies. If it takes you away from that which is spiritual, then it is wrong.

After we're saved, the flesh wars against the Spirit and the new nature rebels against the old nature. (verse 17) I have a nature that is prone to wonder, to leave the God I love, as the old hymn reminds me. I need help in this area. Today, I want to look at the works of the flesh, tomorrow the fruit of the Spirit.


I started to skip over these works of the flesh and go straight to the fruit of the Spirit, but then I definitely need to be reminded of them. They are found in verses 19-21:
Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these: Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

Falwell said in Liberty Bible Commentary,
"Note the plural, works, the complex mixture of evil desires and deeds. The flesh is always active; it never takes a vacation. It is plainly evident to everyone. They are from a heart in rebellion against God and instist upon doing as it will (Matt. 15:19; Mark 7:21-22)."

McGee lists them into categories: sensual sins, religious sins, social sins, and personal sins. (I got to get my boots on; these are difficut to walk through.) The meanings are from Falwell.

1. Sensual Sins:
  • Adultery-Illicit sexual intercourse between married partners
  • Fornication-Illicit sexual intercourse betwee unmarried partners
  • Uncleanness-Moral impurity, sexual sins including pornography
  • Lasciviousness-Brutality, sadism, which is gratification from causing pain
2. Religious Sins:
  • Idolatry-Worship of idols, anthing that takes the place of God, including money
  • Witchcraft-Sorcery, magical arats, drugs used in heathen religions
  • Hatred-Enmities, personal animosities
  • Variances-Strife, rivalry, discord, factions, quarrelsomeness
3. Social Sins:
  • Emulations-Jealousies, sedition, constant desire to excel othere people and secure their admiration
  • Wrath-Passionate anger, stirring up the emotions of temper resulting in an explosion, hot temper
  • Strife-Factions, cliques (little cliques in a church hurt the cause of Christ)
  • Seditions-Divisions, splits
  • Heresies-Choices based on preferences, sects, parties
  • Envyings-Feelings of ill-will
  • Murders-Hating in the mind, to kill with premeditated malice
4. Personal Sins:
  • Drunkenness-Excessive indulgence in strong drink
  • Revellings-Horrible orgies in wild parties
Those people which do such things, whose lives are charactericized by the habit of continually doing such things, prove positively with such a life-style that one has not become a new creature in Christ (2Cor.5:17).

"The Prodical Son who got down in the pig pen didn't stay there. The only ones that stay in the pig pen are pigs. If a son gets there, he will be very unhappy until he gets out. If you continue to live in sin, you are in a dangerous position. It means you are not a child of God," stated McGee.

Okay, I didn't have trouble with lists 1, 2, and 4, but I found myself  rereading list 3. How about you? Of course, I can justify my sins by saying I don't habitually do them, just every once in a while (jealousy, envy, strife). However, sin is sin, right? Lord have mercy on us.

Friend, tomorrow's lesson is better- The Fruit of the Spirit. Please join me for some spiritual salve on my wounds. The Word cuts; It's sharper than a two-edged sword.


Evaluate how I am walking, living, in my flesh or in the Spirit.

Recognize my sins that I keep repeating, confess them, and turn to the Holy Spirit for His infilling.


Monday, January 24, 2011

Loving Snowbabies

Galatians 5   Part 1
For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.   Galatians 5:6


All winter long, my granddaughter kept talking about us making a snowman. (We made a small one last year.) Well the day finally came when I could not put her off no longer. We had snow that was about 4-6 inches deep. Besides that, she was equipped with boots, coat, and hat. (I had gloves.) It was inevitable. So we both got all bundled up, since it was below freezing, and went outside. We encountered a problem right away-dry snow. (For those of you who have never made a snowman, it requires moist snow so it sticks together in a snowball.) I couldn't let my sweetheart down, could I? So I filled up a bucket with water, added it to a bowl of snow, then formed the  snowballs. She was happy as we did this three times, stacking the balls on top of each other. Finally, there was our "snowbaby",  less than a foot tall. I quickly took a picture and was gathering our supplies when-wham. The girl used the snowballs of the snowbaby to hit me. Here I endured the obstacles for at least half an hour to make this little thing, and she took it apart in seconds. I thought that tiny snowbaby, which caused my freezing feet and nose, would survive at least a week in our backyard. Oh well, we had fun and that's why I endured the cold, isn't it?

I thought of this escapade as an example of  "faith which works by love." Addi had faith that I would work it out so we made a snowman, inspite of the cold temperature, wind, dry snow, and inconvenience. (Probably, I was the only one considering the hardships.) And because I love her, the snowbaby was made. (It wasn't all that bad.)

David Guzik had some good things to say about this chapter. He said,"If your faith doesn't work, it isn't real faith. If it doesn't work through love, it isn't real faith. Faith must work through love. A wonderful test of our spiritual state is simply how we treat other people. It isn't measured by how much we pray, how much we know of the Bible, or how many things we don't do. The measure is how we treat our brothers and sisters in Jesus."

I had not really conected faith and love before. But love should be our motivation for doing things.

Verse 13 says "by love serve one another." According to verse 14, we fulfill the law when we "love our neighbor as ourself." How can people can see our faith in Jesus? They see it  when we show love to others.

Here are a couple quotes that David Guzik used:
"Neither can any one love his neighbor as himself, but he that loves God above all," said Trapp.
"The loveless life is a life lived on the level of animals, with a concern only for oneself, no matter what the cost to other people," said Morris.

James said  that faith without works is dead. (James 2:17, 20)  I don't want a dead faith. I want a living faith. One that works because of love for my neighbor and for Jesus.


Verse 1 states,"Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage."

We are to keep on standing and not bow our neek to the yoke of slavery, that is, legalism. I am to take a tenacious stand and not be moved from that position. Christ is the great Liberator, definitely, deliberately, and decisively He liberated us. The Galatians escaped the slavery of heathenism, but were in danger of the slavery of Judaism. A yoke is a symbol of slavery. (Falwell)

As I think of it, maybe I have been more of a "legalist" through my years. Does it matter more to me to "do" certain things, such as rituals causing me to  judge others that aren't doing them, than just loving people? This verse tells me that  I am free in Christ, not free to do whatever I want in sin, but free to live righteously by faith (verse 5).
Falwell said, "Grace does not make one free to sin; it makes him free to serve." (verse 14)
Things to think about.


Let my faith work because of love.

Love God and others.

Stand free in God's grace and serve others.

Friday, January 21, 2011

What Time is It?

Galatians 4
But when the right time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, subject to the law. God sent him to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so that he could adopt us as his very own children. And because we are his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, "Abba, Father." Now you are no longer a slave but God's own child. And since you are his child, God has made you his heir.  Galatians 4:4-7  (NLT)


How important is "time" to us? I get up around the same time each day, type these lessons,  get on the treadmill in the morning. I have a schedule for particular days. (Although, I enjoy having a flexible schedule now that I am not teaching.)
When I  held down a fulltime job, I definitely had a schedule to follow. Even after leaving for work, I would plan what I would do whenever returning home-supper, laundry, homework with the kids, time with the husband, a quiet time with the Lord, etc.
What time is it? How many times do you look at the clock during the day? We are so time conscience now days. My conclusion is that  time is important to God.

Did you notice the first phrase "when the right time came?" Other versions say it this way,"when the fullness of time was come" (KJV), "date set, time fixed, right time, completion of the time came."
Verse 2 in KJV uses the phrase "until the time appointed of the faither." Also, "right time" and "proper time" are used.

People have said that time is not significant in heaven. I beg to differ. God has everything planned out that will happen and those that did happen, such as when Jesus was born on earth and His returning. It happened and will happen at  a specific time.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 tells us "To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven; a time to be born, and a time to die."

Where does the time go? It seems to march faster each year. Am I accomplishing what God has planned for my life within the time He has alotted me here? What does He want me to do today, tomorrow, this week, next week, etc.?


The first six verses in this chapter talk about a child being the heir, but under age to be in charge. The child, a minor, has tutors and guardians to guide him until that time. It was the Roman custom for the son to become a man at age 25. In the Jewish and Greek culture, 13 was the age. The time is set by the father when the son can become the heir and then master of his father's estate.

So it was for us. In the fullness of time, when the time of the Law was fulfilled, Christ was revealed. He submitted Himself under the Law to redeem us who were under the Law. The Law was guardian over us while we were still children. Then salvation in Jesus came. We are considered God's sons and daughters, adopted into God's family because Jesus redeemed us. We are His very own children. (My emphasis)

Now that we are God's child, we can cry "Abba, Father" when we need help from God. (verse 6)
Abba is Aramaic for father. Somehow, it doesn't seem respectful enough for me to call God "Daddy" instead of "Heavenly Father."
There were times when we asked our earthly father for help and he gave it. So will our heavenly Father when we ask Him.
Do I ask for His help, or do I try to work things out by myself? Yep, guilty. Do I tend to only cry out when in a "desperate" situation? Oooh.


Lord help me to use my time wisely for Your purpose.

Thank You, Abba, Father that You hear my cries unto You.

Thursday, January 20, 2011


Galatians 3
But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith.  Galatians 3:11 (KJV)
Now it is clear that no one is justified before God by the law, because "The righteous will live by faith." (Holman Christian Standard Bible)


Paul is quoting Habakkuk 2:4, which is quoted three times in the New Testament-Rom. 1:17; Gal. 3:11, and Heb. 10:38.

According to this chapter, how is Paul saying  I am  supposed to live?
  • by faith (verse 11)
  • believe God (verse 6)
  • as a child of Abraham (verse 7)
  • redeemed from the curse of the law by Christ (verse 13)
  • receive the promise of the Holy Spirit through faith (verse 14)
  • justified by faith (verse 24)
  • as a child of God by faith in Christ Jesus (verse 26)
  • like Abraham's seed (verse 29)
  • an heir according to the promise (verse 29)
Abraham believed God when he was told  he would become the father of many nations and his seed would be as numerous as the sand and stars. This belief was " imputed or accounted to him for righteousness," verse 6 states. As I continue to believe in Jesus as my Savior, my faith justifies me before God. I believe His blood was shed in my place, so I don't have to pay for my sins, Christ already did that. What a Savior!

Joni Eareckson Tada, in her devotional book, Diamonds in the Dust, said," The Law says, do these things and you shall live, but the Gospel says, live and these things you will do. If we are right in our inward being, we shall certainly do right in our outward actions. This is what Christian liberty is all about." (verses 24-25)


Have you ever redeemed coupons at the grocery store?  The amount of the coupon I used was subtracted from  my total bill. The company would reimburse the store for that amount. So it was with Christ. When He redeemed me from my sins, I was set free by His paying the price.

Verses 13 and 14 say,"Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith."

Shepherd's Notes says:
The word redeemed means "to buy off" or "set free by the payment of a price." It was used to describe the purchase of slaves. The root word for redemption in Greek is agora "marketplace," the site of the slave auction where, every day in ancient Rome human beings were put up for sale to the highest bidder. Paul's use of the word redemption declares that we have been bought with a price. The ransom for our sins was nothing less than the life blood of the Son of God. (1 Peter 1:18-19)

The words of this song came to me:
"Redeemed, how I love to proclaim it. Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb. Redeemed through His infinite mercy. His child and forever I am."


Time for evaluation: Am I living by faith, like a child of God?

Am I showing and telling others that I have been redeemed?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

What's the Verdict?

Galatians 2
Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.  Galatians 2:16


Once I sat on a jury whose verdict found the young man  guilty of breaking the law. He was sentenced to several years in prison. I thought of this whenever I read today's verse. I was like that man.  As a sinner, I was condemned and found guilty of sin before a righteous judge, which is Christ. What's the verdict? Guilty. My sentence would have been death and Hell. (2 Cor. 5:10 says, "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ....") But because Jesus Christ died on the cross, was a perfect sacrifice, took my place as payment for my sins, I don't have to pay for my sins. It was all due to the grace of God. My  faith in believing Jesus did this for me, trusting Him as my Savior, asking His forgiveness of my sins, resulted in my being set free from the penalty of my sin.
Now I am justified by faith in Jesus. Being justified means "just as if I never sinned."  It was not by works, or anything I could have done to earn this pardon. Jesus did it all for me as a free gift. That is why I praise Him.

David Guzik quoted a man named Morris as saying, "Justified is a legal concept; the person who is "justified" is the one who gets the verdict in a court of law. Used in a religious sense, it means the getting of a favorable verdict before God on judgement day."

Now that is a reason to shout for joy!

Paul says we are not justified by the law-good works, the Ten Commandments, baptism, church membership, religious ritual. It is only by faith in Jesus Christ.
 "The Jewish laws were inadequate and insufficient to bring them into a right relationship with God," said Jerry Falwell.
So the Jews, like us Gentiles, must believe in Christ in order to be justified. Thank You Lord for grace and faith to believe.


Verse 20 reads, "I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me."

Do I surrender to the supremacy of Jesus Christ? Do I die to my selfish wants, rights, ideas, pride, ownership of my possession, everything? Do I live so people see Christ living in me-through my words, attitudes, actions? Friends, this is hard. Do I hear an amen?

Jesus Christ gave Himself for me. Such love! It is overwhelming. Glory to His Name!

Blackaby said in his devotional book, Experiencing God Day -By-Day:
 "The Christian life is an exchanged life: Jesus' life for your life. Rather than constantly worrying about what you will face, your great challenge is to continually release every area of your life to God's control.The temptation will be to try to do by yourself what only God can do. Allow God to live out His divine life through you. He is the only one who can."

Wow, my toes are sore from being stepped on so much today.


Can we just skip this part today? I guess not.

Thank You Lord for justifying me. You paid the penalty of my sins for me.

I surrender to Christ living in me.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Leaving Room

Galatians 1                            
But even before I was born, God chose me and called me by his marvelous grace. Then it pleased him to reveal his Son to me so that I would proclaim the Good News about Jesus to the Gentiles.
Galatians 1:15-16 (NLT)


There have been times when I have saved a seat beside me for a friend or family member at a conference, ballgame, or worship service. I left room for that person and did not occupy the seat because I was expecting them to come. Do I expect God to visit me so I leave room for Him to come into my life as He likes? Hmm.

There was a problem  in the churches located in the Galatian area-a group of legalists had invaded the churches steering Christians away from the Gospel of  Christ and Paul's teachings. In verse 7, Paul says they were "perverting" the Gospel.
"Pervert means to change into an opposite character; to reverse,"  according to Warren Wiersbe in Be Free.
These legalists, called Judaizers, were even attacking the apostleship and conversion of Paul. This is why he is defending himself in the first chapter.

Looking at our key verse, Paul tells us it pleased God, by His grace, to set apart Paul before he was born, choose him and call him to proclaim the Good News of Jesus to the Gentiles (Romans 1:1).

Shepherd's Notes tells us:
Set apart means "to determine beforehand." Paul had in mind something that was even prior to the occasion of his birth-God's eternal predestination and good pleasure by which He chose us in Christ before the creation of the world (Eph. 1:4).

I forget to often thank God  that He chose me to be His child, to save my soul, and has called me to walk by faith, serving Him, teaching His Word. What an honor. Not only has He saved me, but  the Creator of everything decided to create me, which is a miracle in itself. My Dad could have been killed in WWII ten years before I was born. God sustained my life, at age five, when I had a disease called rheumatic fever, which affects the heart. Then 42 years later, God restored my breath and allowed me to live after I stopped breathing following surgery. Yes, I say that I have a lot to be thankful for.

How about you? When was the last time you thanked God for creating you, giving you breath, and saving your soul? There is so much I take for granted. (Oops, I chased that rabbit.)

Do I forget to make room for God to come into my life as He chooses? Do I put limitations or expectations on the methods God uses? I probably do. Why am I surprised when He speaks to me ourside the four walls of the church? All of a sudden God can meet with a life, "When it was the good pleasure of God... ."
I am always telling God how creative He is, concerning things I see.  That should  be extended to when and where His Spirit speaks to me.


Verse 20 says, "Now the things which I write unto you, behold, before God, I lie not."

Paul's word was as good as an oath made in the very presence of God.
"Paul's enemies has accused him of being a slick talker," as Jerry Falwell put it.

Paul was telling the truth, not a lie. His life was a witness that he always told the truth and he should not have had to defend himself, but he did.
Am I always telling the truth, or do I have to say when something is not a lie?


Leave room for God to speak to my heart at any time, any place.

Always tell the truth.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Let It Glow, Grow, Go

Years ago, when I cam home to visit my mother, we would often take a walk down the country road in front of her house. It was a joyful time as just the two of us, sharing our thoughts, feelings, and what was going on in our lives. My mom has gone home to glory now, but I welcome your company as I walk this country road of faith called life.

I am reading through the New Testament using the King James Version. Monday-Fridays I will be posting my thoughts and something that spoke to me from each day's reading.

Please join me as I travel this "country road of faith." Your comments are welcome. Here is the format being used:

Let it Glow
Name something you read today that's a promise, an encouragement, or an example of how God worked in this particular chapter.

Let it Grow
Describe a principle, a lesson to be learned, or a challenge from the scriptures.

Let it Go
Tell how to apply, share, or go do the Word read in this chapter. 

Introduction to Galatians

Introduction to Galatians          

There is no question as to the author of this small book in the New Testament. Paul reveals this in the very first verse of chapter 1.

So who was Paul?
So we don't get confused, Paul was his Latin name, which he used after his conversion to Jesus; Saul was his Hebrew name, that he used before his conversion. He was born in Tarsus of  Jewish parents. His father was a Pharisee and a Roman citizen, which made  Paul was a Roman citizen by birth.

Since Paul's parents were Pharisees, they were fervent in Jewish nationalism and very strict in obedience to the Law of Moses. Though Paul from infancy could speak Greek, and had a working knowledge of Latin, his family at home spoke Aramaic, which was the language of Judea, and a derivative of Hebrew. By age 13, Paul had mastered Jewish history, the poetry of the psalms, and the majestic literature of the prophets. He had an ear for accuracy and  a swift brain like a photographic mind.
[Resource: John Pollock, The Apostle: A Life of Paul]

Paul was educated under the Rabbi Gamaliel. What credentials. Who better to write 13 books of the New Testament? Who better to send out as His (Jesus' ) missionary to share the gospel with the Jews and Gentiles and to establish churches? It was all in God's plan.

Saul, before his meeting Jesus,  was a successful lawyer in the courts of Jerusalem, and most likely part of the larger audience who heard Stephen's defense.
(Stephen, a deacon, stood for Christ and was stoned to death by the Jews, of which Paul witnessed
(Acts 6-8).
As Saul, he was one of the chief persecutors of the early church. He help to kill and  imprisoned followers of Jesus Christ before his conversion on the road to Damascus. In fact, Paul's purpose for his journey to Damascus was to bring those Christians bound to Jerusalem.
We read of Saul's conversion in Acts 9. Saul was blinded as a result of meeting Jesus. Later, Ananias was sent to restore Paul's sight.

Galatians was written while Paul was at Antioch. It was the first of 13 letters to be written to the churches he helped establish.

Who were the Galatians?

According to Liberty Bible Commentary
The Galatians were Christians in the churches in the territory of Galatia. Galatia is the name that was given  to the territory in North Central Asia Minor, where the invading Gauls settled in the third century before Christ. The territory became property of Rome in 25 B.C. The Romans incorporated this northern section into a larger division of the land which they made a province and called it Galatia. Politically, Galatia was the Roman province which included Isauria, Lycaonia, and parts of Phrygia and Pisidia. Geographically, it was the center of Celtic tribes and included Derbe, Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch of Pisidia. The question is did Paul write to the ethnic Galatia of the north or the geographical Galatia of the south? Paul and Barnabas evangelized the southern section of the Roman Galatia during their first missionary journey (Acts 13:14-14:26).

The commentaries which I read agree with me, in that this book was written to the southern Galatian region. It makes sense, since Paul established churches there and he wrote this letter to refute the Judaizers, who were legalists persuading many to turn away from Christianity to Judiasm.

When was Galatians written?

According to Shepherd's Notes:
The sequence of events in  Galatians were: Paul's first missionary journey, writing of Galatians, visit to the Jerusalem council, then Paul's second missionary journey. 

So we can see that Paul wrote this letter before he wrote the letters to the Corinthians and Thessalonians or the other churches. Our New Testament is not organized in chronological order of events. Don't be confused by it. I don't know why it is that way. The date Galatians was written was approximately 48-49 A.D.

Why was Galatians written?
The message of Galatians can be summed up in one key verse: "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by the yoke of slavery" (5:1). [Shepherd's Notes]

Paul sets forth grace as opposed to law, faith as opposed to works, and spirit as opposed to flesh," states Falwell in Liberty Bible Commentary.

Warren Wiersbe, in his book, Be Free, informs us, "Liberty in Christ is the dominant theme of Galatians."

Lawrence O. Richards in Illustrated Bible Handbook, tells us: "Galatians explores righteousness and the problem of how a people not under law can experience personal holiness. We have exchanged law for a personal relationship with God, and it is that relationship which provides freedom and true goodness."

"Justification by faith is the central theme of Galatians," says John MacArthur in his book, The MacArthur Bible Handbook.

Are you ready to find out how to "be free?" Join me tomorrow and we will delve in.

*New readers can find the explanation of the headings "Let it glow, grow, and go" on the following post.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Summary of 2 Corinthians

Summary of 2 Corinthians                   

There was a party in the Corinthian church which opposed Paul, and wanted to take over as their leader, but was actually a false apostle. When the news of these conditions reached Paul at Ephesus he made a brief visit to Corinth in order to deal with them. At this time the personal vendetta against the Apostle Paul himself was shown. Returning to Ephesus, Paul wrote the letter to the church of such a severe nature that he later regretted having written it. This he sent to them by Titus. (Two of the four letters had been lost.) Repentance resulted, so it was a good that Paul wrote 1 Corinthians.
[Resource: Liberty Bible Commentary]

Here are some of the verses I highlighted in my Bible as speaking to me (using KJV):
  • He is the God of all comfort (1:3)
  • Our lives are a Christ-like faragarance rising up to God. (2:15 NLT)
  • Our sufficiency is of God. (3:5)
  • The Spirit gives life. (3:6)
  • Whenever someone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. (3:16 NLT)
  • Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. (3:17)
  • We are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. (4:7 NLT)
  • We are trouble, not distressed; perplexed, not despaired; persecuted, not forsaken; cast down, not destroyed. (4:8-9)
  • We walk by faith, not by sight. (5:7)
  • Absent from the body, present with the Lord. (5:8)
  • All appear before the judgement seat of God. (5:10)
  • We are a new creature in Christ. (5:17)
  • God reconciled us to Himself by Jesus Christ. (5:18)
  • We are ambassadors for Christ. (5:20)
  • We become the righteousness of God in Christ. (5:21)
  • Now (today) is the day of salvation. (6:2)
  • We are ministers ( servants) of God. (6:4)
  • Be not unequally yoked together with unbelievers. (6:14)
  • We are God's people, His sons and daughters; walk seperated from unbelievers. (6:16-18)
  • Godly sorrow works repentance to salvation. (7:10)
  • We are rich in Christ because of His generous grace. (8:9 NLT)
  • Be honest. (8:21)
  • We reap what we sow. (9:6)
  • God loves a cheerful giver. (9:7)
  • God is all-suffieient, providing all we need by His grace. (9:8)
  • Our weapons are spiritual, pulling down strongholds. (10:5)
  • Bring captive every thought to obedience of Christ. (10:5)
  • God's grace is sufficient; His strength is perfect in weakness. (12:9)
  • Examine ourselves. (13:5)
  • Be perfect, of good comfort, united, live in peace; and the God of love and  peace shall be
  • with you. (13:11)

It has been an enjoyable walk with you through 2 Corinthians. Thank you for your faithfulness.
There have been times of my reflection and confessing to the Lord, but it was needful. Meat can be hared to chew.
See you in Galatians next.

Thursday, January 13, 2011


2 Corinthians 13
Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?
2 Corinthians 13:5


Verse 11 says, "Finally, brethren, farewell. Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you."

Paul is closing his letter with these last words: Be joyful. Grow to maturity. Encourage each other. Live in harmony and peace. Then the God of love and peace will be with you. (NLT)

The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible says:
  • be perfect-seek after perfection in knowledge, grace, and holiness, and in the performance of good works: or "be restored"; or jointed and knit together, as before. (verse 9)
  • be of one mind-in the doctrines and principles of grace, and ordinances of the Gospel for there is one faith, one baptism.
  • live in peace-both with them that are without, and them that are within, with all men, and with the members of the church.
  • the God of love and peace shall be with you-He who is love (Himself), has loved His people with an everlasting love, and who is the author and donor of spiritual and eternal peace, has called His people to peace, and expects and requires it among themselves, and all men, will grant to such His gracious presence.

David Guzik challenges us, "It costs something to work hard to be of good comfort, be of one mind, to live in peace. But the reward is worth it: the God of love and peace be with you. If you feel that God isn't with you, perhaps it is because you are resisting and rejecting His call to be of good comfort, be of one mind, and to live in peace."

Concerning this verse, Liberty Bible Commentary has this to say:
Maturity, contentment, unity, and harmony, reflected in these terms, answer to the immaturity, unrest, divisiion, and quarreling so evident in the Corinthian assembly.

It sounds like good advice to me.


Who likes examinations? Probably no one does, unless it is the prepared person. There are all kinds of exams-school exams, semester exams, state board exams, when doctors exam your body, when a mechanic examines your automobile, etc. I can do all right on minor exams, but it's those timed ones that throw me.
Ususally, we don't require an exam on the knowledge of the Bible or do an examination of another Christian's life. In the final chapter, Paul tells his readers to examine themselves. I want to dig deeper here.

NLT says this in verse 5, "Examine yourselves to see if your faith is genuine. Test yourselves. Surely you know that Jesus Christ is among you; if not, you have failed the test of genuine faith."

"Paul's critics were prepared to examine him, to see if he was rightly related to Christ. He asks them to subject themselves to the same scrutiny," states  Liberty Bible Commentary.

The word reprobate is used in the King James Version.
Reprobate means that which fails to meet a test and is thus rejected as unworthy or unacceptable, as impure silver; or persons. (Holman Bible Dictionary)

Paul is telling the Corinthians to examine themselves to see if Christ is in their heart. If He isn't, then they are reprobates, counterfeits (Falwell uses that term.). So the same can be true of people today. They can be counterfeits, like silver or a coin. It can look like the real thing on the outside, but is not real on the inside.

David Guzik tells us, "Ask yourself 'Am I really a Christian?' "
Spurgeon said, " Do not merely sit in your closet and look at yourself alone, but go out into this busy world
and see what kind of piety you have. Many a man's religion will stand examination what will not stand proof."

Perhaps Spurgeon is talking about works (loving actions) as an evidence or proof of our faith. Is there evidence of Christ in my life?


Live in peace and unity with others.

Do spiritual self-examinations often.

[Our next lesson is a summary of 2 Corinthians.]

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Sufficiency and Strength

2 Corinthians 12
And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.
For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.
And He said unto me, "My grace is sufficient for thee; for my strength is made perfect in weakness." Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.    2 Corinthians 12:7-9


Thorns, no one likes them.
 Last summer I spent several weeks going to the blackberry patch, picking blackberries. It wasn't an easy task, as some of you country folk may well know. Those big, lucious, sweet blackberries grew on  thorny bushes. Now when they are together in a brier patch, it can be quite a challenge to pick the berries. I learned years ago to wear an old, long sleeved shirt for the task because those prickly thorns reached out and grabbed ya, but didn't want to let go. Sometimes the thorns ripped my shirt; sometimes they ripped my skin, making me bleed. When surrounded by those thorny bushes, I often used my bucket as a way out of the mess I was in the middle of. (Please excuse my grammar.) It was a successful technique. Because those blackberries were
wonderful in cobblers or made "out of this world" jelly, I kept going back, enduring the hardships, and picking more berries.
As you well know, life has its lucious berries and prickly thorns. Satan sees to that. How did Paul endure all those hardships just mentioned in the last chapter? He tells us in the key verses.

I found some answers in The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible:

Thorns are not joyous, are grievous to the flesh, come not by chance, but by divine appointment, are designed and made use of, are to hide pride from men, are sometimes by divine permission. Ezekiel 28:13 talks about prickling briers and grieving thorns.

I asked, "How did Paul manage?"
Paul prayed three times for the thorn to be removed, but Jesus answered, "My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness."

"Paul could not remove the affliction that God had given him, an affliction that made him depend on God. God will bring you to the point of weakness if that is what it takes to bring you to trust in Him. Do not despise your weakness, for it leads you to trust in God's strength," states Henry Blackaby in Experiencing God day-By-Day.

Gill says, "God is all sufficient (Shaddai) in Gen. 17:1. Grace of Christ is alone sufficient for all his people, to all saving purposes, in all their times of need. The strength of Christ is made to appear, is illustrated and shines forth in its perfection and glory, in supplying, supporting, and strengthening His people under all their weakness. Paul is content things should be as they were, since he had such a promise of sufficiency of grace to bear him up, under, and through whatever was the pleasure of God concerning him; Satan was not able to make any advantaage over him.

In Mary A. Kassian's book, Knowing God By Name, she says:

Sufficiency means a sufficient amount; large enough supply, plenty, adequate, ample.
Everything that God is, is more than enough. His names of sufficiency reflect the fact that all of us will find everthing we need in Him. He is our all in all.
We will have ALL sufficiency in ALL things at ALL times...all grace.
2 Cor. 9:8 states, "God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work." (ESV)

Falwell said, "The trial will remain but accompanied always by the enduring grace of God."

So when those prickly thorns come into my life, God's grace is all sufficient, enough for me to handle them.
I, for one, need to be reminded of this from time to time. Grace, grace, God's grace. Grace that is greater than all my sin, as the song goes.
Thank You Lord for Your never ending grace.


Verse 10 reads, "Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong."

John Gill said, "All these affliction were so delightful to Paul, having in the midst of them the love of God to comfort him, the power and strength of Christ to support him, and the grace of the Spirit to assist him. He was upheld by the divine arm and strengthened by the power of Christ; he became more than a conqueror.  Paul is weak in himself, strong in Christ."

Matthew Henry stated, "God often brings good out of evil. The thorns Christ wore for us, and with which He was crowned, sanctify and make easy all the thorns in the flesh we may at any time be afflicted with."

There we have it, I am weak, but He is strong. All I have to do is admit that, reach out to Him for it, and receive His strength to endure.


Seek the God of all-sufficient grace.

Admit my weaknesses and depend upon His strength.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


2 Corinthians 11
Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft.        2 Corinthians 11:23

I love to go bargain hunting. In fact, usually, the first place upon entering a store, is the bargain rack. Any purchases made at a bargain prices causes me to look at the ticket and add up how much I saved. After sorting through the bargains, then I "graze along" looking through the regaularly priced items.  (It's my hubby's description of me, which means like an old cow who keeps eating without lifting her head up, I shop similiarly.)

In  Liberty Bible Commentary, Falwell states:
Discipleship cannot be purchased at bargain prices (Luke 9:23 states what Jesus said, "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me."). The cost exacted of the Apostle Paul is measured by the tabulation which follows. (verses 24-27)
What Paul does here is demonstrate the depth of his commitment by delineating the sufferings and trial he endured because of it.

"Paul had been an extraordinary sufferer for Christ; he gloried in the grace of God that had enabled him to be more abundant in labors and to endure very great sufferings," said Matthew Henry.

As we recall, Paul wrote 13 books (letters) of the New Testament. What did Paul  endure as he spread the gospel?
  • severe beatings (verse 23)
  • exposure to death (verse 23)
  • five times received 39 lashes (verse 24)
  • 3 times beaten with rods (verse 25)
  • 3 times shipwrecked (verse 25)
  • robbers (verse 26)
  • dangerous rivers (verse 26)
  • dangers from false brothers (verse 26)
  • sleeplessness (verse 25)
  • hunger (verse 27)
  • thirst (verse 27)
  • cold and nakedness (verse 27)
  • hidden in a basket and smuggled out of Damascus (verse 33, Acts 9:25)
What a list!  I see that I need a  more endurance without complaining after reading this.


For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works," reads verses 13-15.

Shepherd's Notes says it this way, "They were false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ. Worse still, their behavior proved that they were servants of Satan, not apostles of Christ. Like Satan, they disguised themselves with the appearance of righteousness. False teachers would face God's judgment."  (see 5:10)

"The prince of darkness puts on the garb of light and sets the fashion for his followers in the masquerade to deceive the saints," A.T.Robertson said.

Masquerade means a disguise; concealment; false pretense, according to Webster's Dictionary.

When Paul learned that false teachers had caused Christians in Corinth to stumble in their faith, Paul burned with indignation," says Henry Blackaby. (see verse 29 of NKJV)

Indignation is righteous anger over injustice. (Webster's Dictionary)

Falwell said, "The apostle is deeply concerned about the weaker brethren and he "burned" with indignation when he thought of those who would lead them astray."

"False apostles my have a "good appearance." Don't be taken in by image or outward appearances," warns David Guzik.

"Satan is a roaring lion, and angel of light who persuades men to do things under the name of religion," said Clarke.

Not only is Paul warning the Corinthians, but us also. Let's look out for false teachers masquerading around. I sure don't want to be deceived by them. I'll make sure that God's Word, the Word of Truth, is what my teachers use.


Glory in the grace of God when I suffer for Him.

Know the Bible so I can recognize a false teacher.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Opinions and Strongholds

2 Corinthians 10
For not he that commendeth himself is approved, but whom the Lord commendeth.
2 Corinthians 10:18


Who doesn't like praise and compliments? I certainly do. When was the last time I was complimented on a meal or dish which I really worked hard to make? I don't remember, actually. I do remember the last time I was complimented on an outfit I was wearing. How about a job well done? Can't recall.  What about  you?
Any thanks lately? It puts an "umph" into our step, a smile on our face, and a warm feeling inside, doesn't it?
Of course, everyone has an opinion and often expresses it, whether in the form of a  praise or criticism. That's why "they're a dime a dozen," as the cliche goes.
However, Paul tells us whose commendation is the most important-the Lord's.

In Experiencing God Day-By-Day, Blackaby says:
Whose opinion matters most to you? It is common for all of us to seek approval for our actions.
We value opinions of our friends, colleagues, employers. The esteem of others can claim such importance that it becomes our way to measure our worth as a person.
The affirmation "Well done!" that Jesus received from the Father became Paul's goal as well. After his conversioon, Paul understood that God's evaluation of his actions was what mattered, not his own opinion of himself.
The commendation that matters most is the one that comes from God.


For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh:
(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)
Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; (Verses 3-5)

John Gill tells us that we are to use our spiritual weapons in this war-Scripture of truth, sword of the Spirit, Word of God, the whole armor of God (Eph. 6).

David Guzik says," The spiritual weapons Paul used were the belt of truth, breastplate of righteousness, shoes of the gospel, shield of faith, helmet of salvation, sword of the spirit. The weapons were mighty in God for pulling down strongholds! When we fight with truth, righteousness, evangelism, faith, salvation, the Word of God, and prayer, no principality or power can stand against us."

Matthew Henry states, "Ignorance, prejudices, beloved lusts are Satan's strong holds in the souls of some; vain imaginations, carnal reasonings, and high thoughts, or proud conceits, in others. These strong holds are pulled down by the gospel as the means, throught the grace and power of God."

Shepherd's Notes states: A stronghold  is a fortress. The military had a practice of building strongholds. "Paul described the fortification of the soul by reasonable arguments to render it impregnable under attack of adverse fortune," says Colin Kruse.

Okay, I know that I'm in a spiritual battle, so I need those weapons that are spiritual. What are some practical ways to overcome these strongholds? I found the answer in the following book.

"When Godly People Do Ungodly Things"  by Beth Moore:
The very nature of a stronghold is that something is exalted in our minds contrary to the knowledge of God.
Breaking free from these mentally obsessive strongholds always requires bringing those previously exalted imaginations into the captivity of Christ's authority. We have divine power to demolish strongholds.

Our weaknesses and areas of ignorance are huge vulnerabilities to seduction, which can quickly lead to sins committed inadvertently. We know that Satan's seduction is purposeful, scheming, and utterly intended for evil. It is well planned and timed; nothing about it is accidental or conincidental.

A concise profile of a seduce-proofed Christian:
1. He is happy in his faith.
    1 Thessalonians 5:16, "Rejoice always!" (Holman Christian Standard Bible)
2. She abstains from evil.
    1 Thessalonians 5:22, "Stay away from every form of evil" (HCSB).
3. He is unceasing in prayer.
    1 Thessalonians 5:17, "Pray without ceasing."
4. She is thankful and gives thanks.
    1 Thessalonians 5:18, "Give thanks in everything" (HCSB).
5. He doesn't quench the Spirit.
    1 Thessalonians 5:19, "Don't stifle the Spirit" (HCSB).
6. She does not despise instruction, exhortation, or warning.
    1 Thessalonians 5:20,"Don't despise prophecies" (HCSB).
7. He tests and proves all things until he recognizes what is good.
    1 Thessalonians 5:21, "Test all things. Hold on to what is good" (HCSB).
8. She allows God Himself to sanctify her through and through.
    1 Thessalonians 5:23, "May God Himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through."
9. His whole spirit, soul, and body are kept blameless.
    1 Thessalonians 5:23, "May your spirit, soul, and body be kept sound and blameless" (HCSB).
10. She knows that the One who called her is faithful and He will do it.
      1 Thessalonians 5:24, "He who call you is faithful, who also will do it" (HCSB).
11. He knows he needs prayer.
       1 Thessalonians 5:25, "Brothers, pray for us also" (HCSB).

Examine your own life. Can you see where the enemy is laying groundwork to defeat you? Maybe it is a relationship, a business deal, an addiction, or something that consumes you.
The mind is the biggest battlefield we have on which our spiritual battles are fought. The serpent could get to us with wholehearted, sincere, and pure devotion to Christ by seducing and corrupting our minds.
 (2 Cor. 11:2-3) Let God sanctify us through and through-all the way to the inner court of our minds.
"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength." Mark 12:30

It looks like I need to rememorize 1 Thess.5:16-25 and Eph. 6:10-18.
(Sorry this was so long, but I felt it was needful.)


Strive to please the Lord.

Keep my spirit, soul, and body blameless.

Stay pure in my thoughts.

Friday, January 7, 2011

My Cup Overflows

2 Corinthians 9
But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.
Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.
And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work.
2 Corinthians 9:6-8


Don't we like those free gifts? One came to me yesterday in the mail, after I researched this chapter, getting it ready to post. What a surprise it was, a refund on prescriptions bought years ago. One hundred dollars! The company had overcharged and was forced to refund its customers. (It wasn't free to the company, who had to fork out the money.) My husband asked what I was going to do with it. I replied,"buy more medicine next week."
I think God was using this for an illustration for us concerning this chapter about giving. I had decided to give something to a family in need and God blessed my gift before it got out of the house. I had purposed it in my heart to give. Wait a minute. Why not give the money, too? The family could certainly need it more than I, since their house burned last week. Okay Lord. my cup overflows. I have clothes on back, a warm house to live in, food on my table, and Jesus in my heart. What more do I need?

How about you? When was the last time you gave someone a free gift, expecting nothing in return?
(Note: I'm only telling this to show how our Lord keeps His Word, not to toot my own horn.)

Verse 15 tells us,"Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift."
NLT says it this way, "Thank God for this gift too wonderful for words!"
NAS says,"Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!"
Beck Version tells us,"Thanks be to God for His gift that is more than we can tell."

This "gift" which Paul is talking about, is in reference to the gift of God's Son, Jesus Christ. He is given to us out of love, an indescribable gift. He is our salvation, dying in our place as payment for our sins.
Romans 6:23b states,"but the gift of God is eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord."
Ephensians 2:8-9 explains,"For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast."
We can't work for this gift, earn it, or deserve it by birth right. It is a free gift for us to reach out and receive by faith, believing in Jesus. It can't get any better than that, can it? Certainly it is incomprehensible that someone would die for me, a sinner. Thank you Jesus!


Looking at our key verses, we see the "sow-reap" principle. An example of this is when the farmer sows seed for his crops. If he sows just a little seed, he will only get a small harvest; if he sows much seed, he will get a large harvest. So it is with us. We will get a return on what we have sown.

What do we reap when we give?
David Guzik answers, "Blessings that are both material and spiritual. Materially, we can trust that God will provide for the giving heart. (Philippians 4:19) Spiritually, we can trust that God will reward the giving heart both now and in eternity. (Matthew 19:29)"

Guzik went on to say,"Every Christian should be a giver. Not grudgingly (reluctantly, regretfully given with plenty of complaining) or of necessity (made to give or minipulated). A cheerful giver (cheerful in the Greek is the word hilaros, is root for our English word hilarious) God wants us to give happily, because that's how God Himself gives! Jesus taught even the smallest gift, if given with the right heart, would not go unrewarded (Matt. 1:42)."

Does that put a different perspective on it?

In the devotional book, Experiencing God Day-By-Day, Blackaby said:
"If God finds in you a generous heart that willingly and freely gives what it has to others, then God responds toward you in like manner. Let us choose to sow generously in everything we do in our Christian lives. The harvest we reap will be Christlikeness."
Concerning verse 8, Blackaby said, "When you relate to God you always deal with abundance, for God does nothing in half measures! This is true regarding His grace. He is not miserly when it comes to providing grace to His servants. When you seek to perform a good work that God has asked you to do, you will always find an ample supply of God's grace to sustain you."


Thank You Lord for Your free gift to me and others.

Use me to share Your love today.

Show me the needs of others and help me meet those needs, materially or spiritually.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

For Richer or For Poorer

2 Corinthians 8
For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.   2 Corinthians 8:9

Liberty Bible Commentary says:
Chapters 8 and 9 of this epistle concern the offering for the poor saints at Jerusalem. It took 8 years to accomplish; involved thousands of miles of travel; at least 10 collectors involved; nearly cost Paul his life and did cost him much of his freedom. An earthquake and crop failures contributed to their needs at Jerusalem church.
Paul had a definite plan of missionary giving becoming a primary part of every church Paul established.(1Cor.16:1). There was careful, businesslike handling of all the finances. Each was to vote their own financial representative (verse 23).
Paul never calls the offering "money" because he never seems to think of it as such. Instead, he calls it "grace,"  "generosity," " blessing," or " partnership." He speaks of the "grace of giving" as one of the highest Christian virtues.


Did your marriage vows include "for richer or for poorer?"  Ours did. Of course, that was 38 years agoand the preacher already had the vows written. Nowadays, they write their own vows and say whatever. Jesus was both rich and poor. How as that?

How was Jesus rich? He was equal with God in power and glory, rich in all the glory and blessedness of the upper world.

How was Jesus poor? He became man for us, and poor. He was born in poor circumstances, lived a poor life, and died in poverty.

How does that effect us? Jesus became poor for our sakes, so through His poverty we might be rich.

Rich is what? So we can be rich in love and favor with God, rich in blessings and promises of the new covenant, rich in hopes of eternal life, being heirs of the kingdom.

This is a good reason why we should be charitable to the poor out of what we have, because we ourselves live upon the charity of the Lord Jesus Christ.
[Resource: Matthew Henry's Commentary]

"Why would Jesus need to become poor for our sakes? It fulfilled the heart, will, and plan of God, making salvation possible," said David Guzik.

My, I'm so grateful that Jesus became poor so I can be rich in Him.


Verse 21 says, "Providing for honest things, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men."

John Gill tells us, "Maintain a good reputation, good opinions, credit among people and the Lord Jesus Christ."

Those who handle money in the church should have those qualities. They should be trustworthy and above reproach, and accountable,  in my opinion.

I think Paul would challenge us to be honest in all things, in the sight of Jesus and people.


I want to be spiritually rich.

Share my riches, spiritually and materially.

Always be honest.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Promises, Promises

2 Corinthians 7
Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.   2 Corinthians 7:1


"I promise you I will...."
Have we heard that line or spoken it ourselves just to turn around and break the promise we made? Maybe I didn't use the word "promise," but I said I would do something and then not do it. Guilty. What happened to the days of "one's word"  being worth a hand shake or signing on the dotted line? It's gone, I'm afraid. We don't take our words, promises,  serious enough. That's why there are 20 pages to sign when one takes out a loan at the bank. They cover all bases, don't they? And so it should be for their protection.
Promises, promises. What things do I say I will do, and don't do it? What things do I say I won't do, but do it? Something to consider.
Matthew 5:37 tells us,"But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay; for whatasoever is more than these cometh of evil."

A promise, according to Webster's Dictionary, is one's pledge to another that one will or will not do something.; give one's word to.

I'm here to tell you that there is one who keeps his promises-our Heavenly Father, God. If He says it, we can "take it to the bank" so to speak. Look at the first verse again. I had to ask, "What promises is Paul talking about?"

Here's what The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible says they are:
  • That God will walk in His temple (us) (2 Cor. 6:16).
  • He will dwell in His churches.
  • He will be their God, and they His people.
  • He will receive them (2 Cor. 6:17).
  • He will be their Father, and they His sons and daughters (2 Cor. 6:18).
  • He will give them a new heaven and new earth.
  • Christ will come back to receive His believers.
  • They had communion with God.
  • They were received, protected, and preserved by Him.
  • They had promises and blessings of grace, absolute and unconditional.

It sounds like a good beginning of a list. There are hundreds of promises in the Bible. What He made to the people in the Old and New Testament times, applies to us, brothers and sisters.

Will you share with us one of your favorites?
Mine is found in Hebrews 13:5, which quotes parts of Gen.28: and Joshua 1:5, "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee."


Verse 10 in the NLT states,"For the kind of sorrow God wants us to experience leads us away from sin and results in salvation. There's no regret for that kind of sorrow. But worldly sorrow, which lacks repentance, results in spiritual death."

Blackaby says in the devotional book, Experiencing God Day-By-Day:

There is a difference between worldly sorrow and  godly sorrow, though both are deeply felt. You can feel genuine sorrow over something you have done. Your mind can become consumed with your failure and offense against God and others. Judas had this kind of sorrow. He betrayed the Son of God for thirty pieces of silver, the standard price of a slave. Yet his sorrow did not lead him to repent and to seek restoration with his fellow disciples, but rather to a lonely field where, in his anguish, he took his own life (Matt. 27:3-5). Judas carried his sorrow to his grave.
How different Peter's sorrow was! Peter, too, failed Jesus on the night of His crucifixion. Peter also went out and wept bitterly (Luke 22:62). Yet Peter returned to Jesus and reaffirmed his love for Him (John 21:15-17). Peter was not only remorseful; he was also repentant. Peter's life changed. There is no record of Peter ever denying his Lord again, even when he was persecuted and threatened with death. Peter repented, turned his life around, and never committed that sin again.

Which reaction will (we) I have?
God wants the godly kind of sorrow which leads us away from sin and to repentance. God sees my heart and knows if I am sincerely sorry for my sins.


Keep my promises.

Repent with godly sorrow and turn away from that sin.