Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!!!!!

Today, we remember Christ himself who was born to save people from their sins. We celebrate both the fulfillment of prophecy as represented in Christ’s birth and hope in the final fulfillment when Christ comes again and Christians join Him!

Today’s Scripture readings:
John 1:1-5, 9-14
Titus 2:11-14

Monday, December 20, 2010


In the last few days before Christmas, we turn our thoughts toward Peace.

We are reminded that Jesus comes to bring Peace to both the world and to people's hearts.  Without Christ there is no peace in this world.

This weeks' Scripture readings:

Isaiah 9:6-7
Luke 1:78b-79
Luke 2:27b-32

Sunday, December 12, 2010


This week we focus on Joy.  For the Christian, joy can be experienced in all circumstances, because our joy is dependent on the One Whom we worship.  The King who will soon return for His beloved bride.  Are you joyfully anticipating the coming of the King?  Join with me in consciously choosing joy this week!  

Scripture readings:
Luke 1:46-56
Luke 19:37-38
Isaiah 35:10

What is your favorite Bible verse about joy?

Monday, December 6, 2010


The second week of Advent, people light the Love candle, which reminds us that Christ is the way, the truth and the life.  People are lost in sin and through His great love, Jesus came into the world to show people the way out of darkness.

This week’s Scripture readings:

John 14:6
John 15:13
Luke 1:39-45


Saturday, December 4, 2010


This week's Scripture readings:

Isaiah 7:14
Luke 1:26-38
Matthew 1:18-24

What is hope?  We use the word in so many contexts.  Think for a minute.  What are some ways you use the word “hope?”  Here are some of mine that came to mind:
I hope you have a Merry Christmas!
I hope your doctor’s appointment goes well.
I hope you enjoy your weekend.
I hope to see you soon.

There are others, for sure!  As I look over my list, I see I often use “hope” more like “wish.”  To identify the distinction between the two words, I turned to Strong’s Dictionary and the New Oxford American Dictionary.  After reviewing the information, I’ve concluded that “wish” implies desiring something to happen without necessarily expecting that it will.  “Hope” implies a sense of expectation (and trust) that it WILL happen.  (Hope can also involve waiting expectantly until something happens.)  

In this first week of Advent, we focus on the hope of the coming of Jesus Christ.  In this season, many are celebrating and many others are hurting.  Whichever side of the spectrum you fall in, hope (wait expectantly and trust)  in Him.  He loves you and has a plan for you!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Introduction to Advent Themed Bible Studies

Advent means “coming” or “arrival.”  In modern Christianity, the Advent season begins four Sundays before Christmas.  The focus of the season is both the celebration of Jesus in His first advent (coming) AND the anticipation of His return as King in His second advent (coming).  So it is both marking a historical event AND celebrating a truth about God (Jesus is the way in which creation might be reconciled to God).  

Churches and families often use an advent wreath to aid in the celebration of the Advent season.  The wreath includes five candles, one for each Sunday leading to Christmas and a fifth candle for Christmas day.  Each candle has a different meaning.  The four candles around the wreath are usually tapers which are occasionally all purple, but most often there are three purple and one pink candles.  (Purple symbolizes repentance and pink symbolizes joy.)  The fifth candle is placed in the center of the wreath, and is usually a large white pillar candle.  Each Sunday a successive candle is lit, customarily accompanied by scripture relating to the meaning of the candle.  Various religious traditions assign different representations to each candle.  

In our Advent themed Bible studies (which will begin next week) we’ll look at the meaning of each week’s candle.  Our outline will be as follows:

Week 1 - Hope
Week 2 - Love
Week 3 - Joy
Week 4 - Peace
Christmas Day - Jesus 

See you next week!

Choosing Thankfulness

Psalm 9:1 (ESV)

I will give thanks to the LORD with all my heart;
I will recount all of Your wonderful deeds.

Thankfulness is an act of the will.  It is a choice we must make each day, all year long.

What are you thankful for today?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

I know it's been a while .... :)

It’s been wild and crazy here.  I have been keeping caught up with the reading, but have not had the time to sit and write devotionals.  :)

Today, though, let’s briefly look at I Timothy 6:11:

But as for you, O man of God, flee these things.  Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. (ESV)

Who is the “man of God?”  Paul is speaking to his protege Timothy.  Matthew Henry says this passage refers to Ministers (with a capital “M”).  John Wesley, in his commentary of the Bible, states this also applies to “a man devoted to God.”  For our purposes, we are assuming this applies to any who are “devoted to God”...including you and me!

Now, let’s briefly look at the “things” the “man of God” is to “flee?”  Look at verses 3 through 10 and see that it includes doctrine not based on the teachings of Jesus, conceit, unhealthy craving for controversy and quarrels about words, envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, constant friction among people, and the love of money. 

What should be pursued (“to seek eagerly”) in place of these things? 

righteousness - the condition acceptable to God; integrity, virtue, purity of life, rightness, correctness of thinking, feeling, and acting

godliness - reverence, respect, piety toward God

faith - conviction or belief respecting man’s relationship to God; the conviction that God exists and is the creator and ruler of all things, the provider and bestower of eternal salvation through Christ;  a strong and welcome conviction or belief that Jesus is the Messiah, through whom we obtain eternal salvation in the kingdom of God

love - affection, good will, love, benevolence, brotherly love
steadfastness - constancy, endurance, the characteristic of a man who is not swerved from his deliberate purpose and his loyalty to faith and piety by even the greatest trials and sufferings, a patient enduring, sustaining, perseverance
gentleness -  mildness, meekness

So - how do we pursue all of these things in our everyday lives?  (Comments, as always, are warmly welcomed!)

(Definitions are from Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Weapons of our Warfare - 2 Corinthians 10:3-4

“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses.”  (NASB)

Let’s do a short word study.  Here are some excerpts from Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance (for the NASB):

Walk: to make one’s way, progress; behave; conduct ourselves 

Flesh:  of natural or physical origin, generation, or relationship; the animal nature with cravings which incite to sin; the physical nature of man as subject to suffering; denotes mere human nature, the earthly nature of man apart from divine influence, and therefore prone to sin and opposed to God

War: to make a military expedition, to lead soldiers to war or to battle, (spoken of a commander); to do military duty, to be on active service, be a soldier; to fight

According:  through out; according to;

Weapons:  any tool or implement for preparing a thing; arms used in warfare; an instrument;

Warfare:  an expedition, campaign, military service, fight; metaphorically, the difficulties that oppose [Paul] in the discharge of apostolic duties

Divinely:  spoken of the only and true God;  refers to the things of God; His counsels, interests, things due to Him; whatever can in any respect be likened unto God, or resemble Him in any way; 

Powerful: able, powerful, mighty, strong

Destruction:  demolition, destroying, tearing down

Fortresses: castle, stronghold, fortress, fastness; anything on which one relies; of the arguments and reasonings by which a disputant endeavors to fortify his opinion and defend it against his opponent

We are human beings in a spiritual battle, and we have spiritual weapons for fighting this battle - divinely powerful weapons - that are capable of destroying strongholds and addictions (“anything on which one relies”).  So why do we live as if we are in captivity?????  

What weapons do we have available to us in this war?  Let’s make a list in the comments section:

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Freedom in Surrender - I Corinthians 9

Paul begins chapter 9 by saying “Am I not free?”  He then gives a discourse on the rights available to him based on his station in life.  He is a free man (not a slave of another man) and an apostle (it could easily be inferred that he is also referring to his status as a Jew and also as a Rabbinical Scholar...).  

After reminding the Corinthians of who he is and what rights are available to him, Paul says that he has not claimed these rights, but he and Barnabas (his ministry partner at the time) “endure anything rather than put an obstacle in the way of the gospel of Christ” (v.12).  He then says in verses 19 and 22-23:

“For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them...I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some.  I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.” 

Paul recognizes the rights he has, but he freely and willingly sets them aside, enduring MUCH hardship and suffering, for the sake of sharing the gospel with the lost.  He gave up his reputation and comfortable lifestyle, and traded it for beatings, imprisonment, shipwrecks, and scorn and derision from his former peers.  All of this he willingly faced, so that he might be an instrument in spreading the gospel to the Gentiles.  All of this for people he didn’t even KNOW.  

Talk about stepping outside of one’s comfort zone!  Are we willing to step that far out for the sake of the lost?  Or are we going to turn our faces and ignore the fact that people all around us are dying and going to Hell?

All that Paul gave up in order to share the gospel with others he could give up willingly because he realized that there is more than what we see and experience right now.  He surrendered his rights to walk in the freedom of abiding in Christ, because following God’s will, being a part of His Kingdom, leading “the life the Lord has assigned” (7:17), brings a freedom unimaginable unless you’ve experienced it.

Seek Him, sisters!  Seek His assignment for your life, seek His calling, and walk confidently in Him as you fulfill the purpose He has for you.  There is no greater freedom than surrendering to His perfect will!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Transitioning from Acts to Romans

For those who may be new to our group, we are reading through the New Testament.  Today is day 41, and today we begin the book of Romans.

In concluding Acts yesterday, two main ideas have stuck with me.  First, the idea that Acts describes for us the development of the Early Church and in that description we find a model of what the Church should be.  Keep in mind, we who are born again believers are the Church.  So, consider what elements of the Early Church are essential to a healthy and thriving Church in today’s society.  How are we measuring up?

In answering this question, I looked back at Acts 2:42-47.  Take a moment to look that up and re-read it....  

This passage tells us the Church devotes herself to the apostles’ teaching, fellowship, attending “temple” together, breaking bread, praying, selling their possessions and belongings and giving the proceeds “to all, as any had need.”  Also, having “glad and generous hearts,” “favor with all the people” and praising God.  The result?  “And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.”  

Conclusion?  When the Church functions in a healthy way, the lost are drawn to the Savior.

Are we striving to function within the Church body in a healthy way?

The second idea that struck me while reading through Acts is this:  following Jesus in no way implies or guarantees we will be physically or emotionally comfortable in this world.  Many of the disciples were martyred.  The last several chapters of the book focus on Paul, and look at what he went through!  Could we honestly say these things happened to him because he was not walking in God’s will?  No, we could not!  

As we leave Acts, and begin to focus on Romans (and the other Epistles), it’s important to keep a few things in mind:

Martin Luther describes Romans as “truly the most important piece in the New Testament. It is purest Gospel. ”  
Romans is the first of the Epistles, which are letters written to churches or individuals.  (Incidentally, Jude is the last of the Epistles.)  
Chronologically, Romans is the sixth of Paul’s Epistles.  
Romans is the longest of Paul’s Epistles.  
Paul wrote to the Romans while he was on his third visit to Corinth.  Paul had not yet gone to Rome, so he was writing to people he had not yet met.  
Theologians generally agree that Paul wrote to the Romans so that they would understand how a sinner is received as righteous by a righteous God, and how, then, one redeemed should live daily to the glory of God.

According to the ESV Introductions to the Books of the Bible:

Romans is the longest and most systematically reasoned of Paul's letters. Paul announces its theme in 1:16-17: the gospel is God's power for salvation, because it shows us that the righteousness of God is through faith for all who believe. Paul explains the need for justification through faith because of sin (1:16–4:25). He then spells out the results of justification by faith in terms of both present experience and future hope (5:1–8:39). In the next three chapters, he expresses his sorrow that many of his fellow Israelites have not embraced the gospel, and he wrestles with the theological implications of this (chs. 9–11). He concludes by describing how the gospel should affect one's everyday life (chs. 12–16). Paul wrote his letter to Rome in about a.d. 57.

As we read through Romans, I pray God would draw us closer to Himself, and make us more like Him!

Works Cited:

English Standard Version. Introductions to the Books of the Bible. Blue Letter Bible. 5 Feb 2006. 29 Sep 2010.

Vorrede auff die Epistel S. Paul: an die Romer" in D. Martin Luther: Die gantze Heilige Schrifft Deudsch 1545 aufs new zurericht, ed. Hans Volz and Heinz Blanke. Munich: Roger & Bernhard. 1972, vol. 2, pp. 2254-2268.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

John 13, 14, 15 - Love

Observe what this passage tells us about love:
  1. “Love one another” is a commandment (not a suggestion)
  2. We are to love one another as Christ has loved us
  3. People will know we are His disciples by our love for one another
  4. If we love Jesus we will keep His commandments
  5. The one who loves Jesus will be loved by the Father and Jesus will: 
    • love him/her and 
    • manifest Himself to him/her and
    • Jesus and the Father will come to him/her and make Their home with him/her
  6. Jesus did as the Father commanded so the world would know that He loves the Father
  7. Jesus loves us as the Father has loved Him
  8. We are to keep His commandments and abide in His love as Jesus has kept the Father’s commandments and abided in His love
  9. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lays down his life for his friends

Which of these has the most impact on you, and why?

Monday, September 13, 2010

Today, we begin John...

As we begin to read through this last gospel, the gospel of John, let’s take a few minutes to look at an overview of the four gospels.  (John is a much different gospel than the other three.)

Remember, each of the gospels is named for its author.
  • Matthew (one of the 12 disciples) wrote specifically to the Jews to prove that Jesus is the Messiah.  Matthew emphasized the fulfillment of prophecy and uses a lot of Old Testament Scriptures.  
  • Mark (not one of the 12, a cousin of Barnabas and a close associate of Paul) wrote specifically to the Christians in Rome (Gentiles), to present the person, work and teachings of Jesus.  Some believe Peter was the source of his information.
  • Luke (not only not one of the 12 disciples, but also the only Gentile author in the New Testament) wrote to Theophilus (a Gentile) and to Gentiles in general to present an accurate account of the life of Christ and to present Him as the perfect human and Savior.
  • John’s gospel was written last, after the destruction of Jerusalem and before John’s exile to the Island of Patmos.  John (also one of the 12 disciples) wrote to prove that Jesus is the Son of God and that all who believe in Him will have eternal life.  He wrote both to new Christians and to those who may be seeking.  
As you begin reading John, ask the Holy Spirit to speak specifically to you, to teach you whatever He wants you to see in this book.  Take special note of what John shows us about the deity of Christ, and what John shows us about Who God is and how He relates to us.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Upcoming Bible Study Schedule

We will conclude the 90 days through the New Testament journey on the day before Thanksgiving (the reading schedule is on the Facebook page under the "photos" tab).  Bible "studies" during this time consist of a verse of the day posted on the Facebook fan page (most days!) and devotionals posted sporadically, as the Holy Spirit leads.

Following Thanksgiving, we will “celebrate” Advent together, with weekly studies posted related to the coming birth of the Messiah....

Starting in January, we will have weekly studies (probably for around 12 weeks) on the subject of living a life of worship.

Also in January, for those interested, I am again challenging people to join me in reading through the entire Bible in 90 days.  A separate Facebook Fan Page will be set up for those interested in joining that challenge, and the link will be posted on the “Better Things” Facebook fan page.

As always, I am continuing to pray for us all, that we will know Him more fully and more intimately with each passing day!

In His Love,

Monday, September 6, 2010

Mark Conclusion

What do we know about the book of Mark?  According to Scofield’s Reference Notes (1917 edition):
  • The author was also called “John Mark”
    • Son of one of the New Testament Marys
    • Nephew of Barnabas
    • Associate of the apostles 
      • Mentioned in the writings of Paul and Luke
  • The purpose of the book is to reflect Jesus the mighty Worker
    • Jesus’ servant character is reflected
      • There is no genealogy listed
    • Jesus was both servant and “Mighty God”
    • The book is called “a Gospel of deeds”
  • And according to the People’s New Testament Introduction to Mark, Mark wrote for the benefit of the Gentile Christians; and since there is no evidence that he was an eye and ear witness to the events, it is most likely Mark’s information came from being Peter’s interpreter.

I think, in all the things I read in Mark over the last several days, the thing that hit me most was the fear the disciples felt when they saw a glimpse of the power of Jesus.  I can only imagine what that felt like for them.  First they feared the storm, then they feared the one who controlled the storm.

What part of the book of Mark was most meaningful for YOU?

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Mark 7:18-23 - Heart Check

And He said to them, “Then are you also without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him, since it enters not his heart but his stomach, and is expelled?” (Thus He declared all foods clean.) And He said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him.  For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness.  All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.” 

Here, Jesus lists several heart issues that “defile” a person.  Let’s take some time today for a “heart check” and ask the LORD which of these are issues in our own hearts.  Here’s the list Jesus gave, along with some definitions from Strong’s Concordance:

Evil Thoughts - (depraved, injurious, bad, evil, harm, ill, noisome, wicked) discussion, internal consideration, external debate, dispute, doubting, imagination, reasoning
Sexual Immorality - harlotry, idolatry
Theft - stealing
Murder - slay
Adultery - adultery (also lust - see Matthew 5:28)
Coveting - avarice (extreme greed), fraudulency, extortion, greediness
Wickedness - depravity, malice, plots, sins, iniquity
Deceit - trick, craft, deceit, guile, subtilty
Sensuality - licentiousness (promiscuous and unprincipled, sometimes including other vices), filthy, wanton
Envy - derelict, vicious, malicious, jealous
Slander - vilification, evil speaking, railing
Pride - haughtiness, appearing above others, conspicuous
Foolishness - senselessness, egotism, moral recklessness, folly

I’m so thankful that “If we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (I John 1:9)!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Mark 4:34-41 - Fear of the Lord

On that day, when evening had come, He said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.”  And leaving the crowd, they took Him with them in the boat, just as He was.  And other boats were with Him.  And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling.  But He was in the stern, asleep on the cushion.  And they woke Him and said to Him, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?”  And He awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace!  Be still!”  And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.  He said to them, “Why are you so afraid?  Have you still no faith?”  And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?”
Mark 4:34-41 ESV

Let’s first look at some observation questions:

Who?  Jesus and His disciples (number and identity not revealed in this passage)
When?  After a long day of teaching and preaching to the crowd
Where?  In a boat, crossing a lake
What?  A storm overtakes the boat while Jesus is sleeping.  The disciples awaken Him, 
because of their fear, doubt, and unbelief, and He calms the storm.
How?  By speaking three words: “Peace!  Be still!”

And, what conclusions can we draw about this passage?  

One is this:  The disciples, Jesus’s most intimate companions, were AFRAID when they saw evidence of HIs power and authority.  They ate with Him, travelled with Him, lodged with Him, were taught the meaning of the parables by Him.  They knew Him better than anyone else on earth (except for perhaps His mother).  And when they saw THIS evidence of His divine power and authority, they FEARED.  The Strong’s concordance describes the word for “fear” used in this passage as:  “to be alarmed; by analogy, to be in awe of, i.e. revere...alarm or fright: - be afraid, exceedingly fear, terror.”

Exceedingly fear.  Terror.  Be alarmed.  Revere.  If, after a small display of His power, this is the response of those who knew Him most intimately in human form, then it’s only being honest to admit that today, if we were to witness firsthand the divine power of the Almighty God of the universe who simply spoke the world into being, fear would also be OUR first response. 

Balance this with the fact that He loves me so much He knows the number of hairs on my head (Luke 12:7).  He takes care of my day-to-day (and minute-by-minute) needs.  He desires an intimate relationship with me so much that He came to earth to die for me, so our relationship could be reconciled.  Even though He did NOTHING to break the relationship.  

Amazing.  Astounding.  Astonishing.  

What conclusions have you drawn?  

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Matthew Conclusion

Today, we conclude Matthew.  As I’ve been reading through each day’s reading, several things hit me, but I focused on one thing each day for meditation.  My verse of the day for today’s reading is “And all the people answered, “His blood be on us and on our children!”  Matthew 27:25 ESV.  I realize this is, to say the least, an “interesting” choice.  I mean, come on.  Today’s reading included The Great Commission (28:19-20).  That would surely have been a more logical choice, right?  And still I cannot get my mind off of Matthew 27:25.  I mean, the crowd did NOT realize what they were saying, but without The Blood covering us, we cannot enter into the presence of the LORD.  So I have often wondered over the past several hours, did any of the people who cried “His blood be on us and on our children!” repent and seek the covering of The Blood at any later point in time?  If any of them did, I surely hope to talk to them when I join them in Heaven.  I want to hear their did they come from a place of, um, sarcasm (or maybe flippancy?)  to a place of repentance and reconciliation?  

Here’s a summary of my verses for meditation over the past week and a half:

  1. Jesus...will save His people from their sins (1:21)
  2. Seek first God’s not be anxious about tomorrow (6:33-34)
  3. [God] desire[s] mercy, and not sacrifice (9:13)
  4. [His] yoke is easy and [His] burden is light (11:30)
  5. What comes out of the mouth, this defiles a person (15:11)
  6. [Jesus] will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven (16:19)
  7. If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor (19:21)
  8. Hypocrites...have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness (23:23)
  9. Watch and pray....  The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak (26:41)
  10. His blood be on us and on our children (27:25)

So a summary of what God has shown me through this book in the last week and a half might say this: Jesus has offered salvation to me (and I’ve humbly accepted it).  As His child my responsibility is to focus on His righteousness and not my own lack of righteousness.  When my focus is in the right place (on Him), and when my heart is in the right place (pure), the “worries” of tomorrow will not be important.  (And one of the functions of prayer is to help keep my focus and heart in the right place.)  Also, not only will the worries of tomorrow not be important, but He has provided everything I could possibly need, including the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven.  I am covered by His Blood.  Hallelujah!

I’m so thankful He is patient in teaching me how to live out these Truths!

What have you learned from the book of Matthew?????

Friday, August 20, 2010

90 day Challenge

Today begins a 90 day challenge of reading through the New Testament.  This can be accomplished by reading approximately three chapters per day...and by starting today we will finish the day before Thanksgiving!  (If you want the specific reading plan we'll be following, it is posted under the "photos" tab on our Facebook page.)  Posts for the next 90 days will be devotionals based on selections from the reading of the day.

As you are reading, allow the Word of God to wash over your soul and spirit.  Be refreshed and renewed, and each day, consider picking a verse or short section of scripture to write down and carry with you for the day to meditate on (or even memorize).

I'm praying for us all, and looking forward to the work Father God will do in each of our lives!

In His Love,

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Colossians 4:2-18 - Final Instructions and Farewells


Paul is writing final instructions  and concluding his letter to the Colossians with specific greetings.  Final instructions address prayer, conduct, speech, and (specifically to Archippus) “see that you fulfill the ministry that you have received in the Lord.”


Let’s start with the instruction to Archippus.  I think it can paraphrased thusly:  “Open your eyes, see what service God has called you to, and do it.”  It seems this is applicable to all of us today.  We need to keep our spiritual eyes open to see whatever God is calling us to do, and then OBEY.  And delayed obedience is disobedience.

Now, let’s talk about prayer, conduct, and speech.

Instructions regarding prayer:
Continue in prayer, pray diligently and earnestly, persevere in prayer and wait for His response
Watch in prayer, be vigilant
Pray with thanksgiving, actively look for things to be thankful for
Pray for Paul and Timothy to clearly share the gospel
Instructions regarding conduct:
Conduct yourselves wisely toward outsiders, being generally thoughtful to strangers and not deceived by false teaching
Make the best use of your time, rescuing/redeeming opportunity/ies (to what?  love others, share the good news, other possibilities?)

Instructions regarding speech:
Always be gracious, reflecting the Spirit’s influence on your heart and life to others, with an attitude of thankfulness
Seasoned with salt, both prepared and prudent
Know how you ought to answer each person, tied to wisdom, knowing how and when to speak to others


So, now we are all complete and reflecting Jesus perfectly every second, right?  NOT!  I’m so thankful God is patient with me!

We’ve now finished Colossians.  In surveying the lessons God has taught me in this study, I’ve been reminded of the majesty of God, my identity in Christ and that I am to walk in that identity (walk in holiness), to obey Him, and to love (truly LOVE) others.  I cannot walk in holiness without obedience.  I cannot walk in holiness without love for Him and others.  I fail at this so often.  Yet, I am so thankful for His grace, forgiveness, and empowerment to live a holy, loving life!  And so thankful for the love He shows me, especially when I fail!  His grace truly is amazing, astonishing, astounding, extraordinary, incredible, mind-blowing, and wondrous!  Thank You, Abba!

Thank you all for embarking on this journey!  Please feel free to share, either on the wall or in a private message to me (Penney),  what your experience has been like as you’ve studied this book.  What do you see as the overall themes?  What have you learned?  How have you grown?  Continue steadfastly, friends!  


Sunday, August 15, 2010

Colossians 3:18-4:1 - Attitude Matters!

Questions for Discussion:

1)  What is true submission?  When (if ever) is it okay for a wife NOT to submit to her husband?  

2)  Does the “slaves obey ... your earthly masters” mandate apply today?  If so, how?

3)  How can we line our attitude up with our actions, even when we don’t feel like it?

4)  Do you think verses 23 to 25 are universal, or that they apply specifically to the slaves (reference verse 22)?
In this passage, instructions are given to multiple categories of people, telling them what they are to do and how they are to do it.  They are to fulfill the role God has given them with all their heart, to not be concerned about what other people are or are not doing, and to leave it to God to judge (actions and motives) and grant rewards or punishments.  And, the passage reminds us, there is “no partiality” (no favoritism).

Wives are to submit to their husbands, husbands are to love their wives. Children are to obey their parents, Fathers are not to provoke their children.  Slaves are to obey their masters with a good attitude, masters are to treat their slaves equitably and justly.  

I can’t help but notice the balance here.  When husbands love their wives, wives find it easier to submit.  When wives submit to their husbands, husbands find it easier to show them love.  Children find it easier to obey their parents when they are not treated harshly by their parents.  Parents are less likely to treat obedient children harshly.  Slaves would likely have found it easier to obey equitable and fair masters.  Masters would likely have found it easier to treat slaves well when the slaves were serving with a good attitude.  That certainly makes sense...It’s human nature to be “nice” to those who are “nice” to us, first.  

BUT our responsibility for our actions is NOT reliant upon the decisions of others.  


The commands to submit and love, for example, are not intertwined.  I am responsible for my own actions.  And my choices are not to be dependent on the actions of my husband, but on the expectations of my Lord.  He metes rewards and consequences, to me, and to everyone.  And that is why I’m to work as if I’m working for Him.  Because I am.  And He knows my heart.  Everything we do, we are expected to do with a sincere heart.  Attitude matters!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Colossians 3:1-17 - Off with the OLD, On with the NEW!

Observation and Interpretation:

vv. 1-3:  If we are born again (dead to self, and raised to a new life with/in Christ), we are responsible to keep our focus on Christ, His spiritual kingdom, and the life to come (in Heaven with Him) and not on the temporary things of this earth.  The word “seek” in verse 1, and the phrase “set your minds” in verse 2 both imply action on our part, as if this is an ongoing choice we must make.

vv. 5-9:  These verses describe the old self that needs to be put off.  Here is a list of things to be “put to death” or “put...away:”
  • “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you:”
    • sexual immorality:  fornication, harlotry, adultery, incest, idolatry
    • impurity:  physical or moral uncleanness
    • passion:  inordinate affection, lust
    • evil desire:  depraved, bad, injurious, harmful, ill, noisome, and/or wicked longing(s)
    • covetousness:  fraudulence, extortion, extreme greediness
  • “put them all away”
    • anger:  violent passion, ire, justifiable abhorrence, indignation, vengeance, wrath
    • wrath:  passion, fierceness, indignation
    • malice:  badness, depravity, active malignity, passive trouble, naughtiness, wickedness
    • slander (KJV: blasphemy):  vilification, evil speaking, railing
    • obscene (KJV:  filthy) talk from your mouth:  vile conversation, filthy conversation
  • Do not lie to one another”
  • “put off the old self with its practices

vv 10-11:  These verses tell us to “put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator” and that we are all one in Christ.

vv 12-14:  These verses describe the new self that needs to be put on:
  • “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved:”
    • compassion:  pity, sympathy, inward affection plus tender mercy
    • kindness:  usefulness, moral excellence, gentleness
    • humility:  modesty, humbleness
    • meekness:  gentleness, humility
    • patience:  forbearance, fortitude, longsuffering
  • Bearing with one another
  • Forgiving each other (“as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.”
  • Above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony”

vv 15-17:  These verses describe the fruit of putting on the new self (the peace of Christ ruling in our hearts) and how to continue to walk in this new identity:
  • be thankful
  • Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly
    • teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom
    • singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs,
    • with thankfulness in your hearts to God
  • And whatever you do, in word (including thought) and deed, do in the name of Jesus, giving thanks to the Father


I must keep my focus on Jesus, and walk out what He teaches me.  (And remember He will never tell me to do anything contrary to what is written in His Word).  I need to put off the old self by not doing the things that are on the list to “put off” and by walking and living truthfully, and I need to put on the new self.  I find it easy to see how compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, patience, and forgiveness can all be bound together by love (I think they are all natural expressions of Agape (Godly) love).  A fruit of walking this out will be peace in my heart.  And then how do I keep walking in that new self?  Thankfulness.  Meditating on and memorizing Scripture.  Praise and worship.  Fellowship with other believers so that iron can sharpen iron and we can teach and admonish one another in wisdom.  And doing everything (including in my thought life) in the name of Jesus with an attitude of thanksgiving.  

That’s a lot.  May I say, I am SO glad that it’s not my strength I must rely on to do this but Christ’s strength, which is perfect, full, and complete!  

So, the big question that I’ve been pondering for days now as I’ve been studying this passage...what does loving others LOOK like in day to day life?

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Colossians 2:16-23 Holding Fast to Freedom

What is your title for this passage?  And what is one thing God has taught you in your study of these verses?

For our study of this passage, let’s try a new approach... it’s a form of journaling called “SOAP” (which stands for Scripture, Observation, Application, Prayer).  Here’s my SOAP of these verses:

“Therefore, let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath.  These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.  Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind, and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God.

If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations - ‘Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch’ (referring to things that all perish as they are used) - according to human precepts and teachings?  These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.”

1) The Sabbath and the festivals were a reflection of the coming salvation of man, which was provided through Christ.
2)  Christ is the Head of the Body (the Church) and He nourishes, unites, and teaches us...resulting in spiritual growth that cannot be experienced by following man made rules, traditions, and expectations.
3) We are to “hold fast” to the Head (Christ).  “Hold” means “use strength” to “seize or retain.”
4)  Christ’s death (and dying with Him) freed us from the bonds of sin, and from the bonds of human expectations, so why do people act as if we are still enslaved (bound)?
5)  Following rules may make someone seem wise and holy, but rules in no way stop one from sin or cause growth / spiritual maturity.
6)  True freedom comes from following Christ and Christ only, not in keeping the traditions of man.
7)  Once someone has tasted freedom in Christ, why do some then turn back to the rules, regulations, and expectations of others?

Questions to ponder:
Have I been guilty of letting go of (or not “holding fast” to) the freedom Christ has given to me? Have I equated human expectations of me with His expectations?  Am I walking in bondage instead of experiencing the freedom Christ has freely given me?  Am I growing and maturing in Him?  

Father God, forgive me for times when I have embraced tradition and man-made expectations instead of You, for times when I’ve let the fear of judgment of other people impact my obedience of Your call.  Help me to follow hard after You and seek to do Your will in all things.  I pray You would be glorified in me each day.  I love You!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

My (Penney's) Responses regarding Colossians 2:6-15 post

1)  According to Strong’s concordance, "to have received Christ" means to “associate oneself with in any familiar or intimate act or relation” and “to learn...receive...take.”  

2)  We “walk in Him” by:
living our lives in a way that reflects Him, 
being rooted (stable), 
built up (edified and emboldened), 
established in the faith (relying on Christ constantly), and
abounding in thanksgiving (as an act of worship).

3)  “In Him” includes being:
given (my self) wholly to Him,
in a state of rest with Him,
filled by Him,
ruled by Him,
submitted to Him,
buried with Him (in baptism),
raised with Him,
made alive, and
forgiven (being relieved of the legal debt owed by us due to our sin, known and unintentional/unknown).

4) The legal consequences of our sin were nailed to His cross and are no longer debts owed by us!  Woot!

My paraphrase (I am NOT a theologian, but this is how this passage speaks to me):  

I have received Christ Jesus as my Lord and Savior, and I must walk in Him.  I have associated myself with Him, in a familiar or intimate act, and have taken on the “office” of Christian.  I must learn from Him, and receive the knowledge, wisdom, and gifts He gives to me.  I must walk in Him by living in such a way that it is obvious to others that I am occupied with Him and I am following Him with all of my heart.  

I must walk in Him by being stable in my faith, growing in the things He teaches me, edifying and strengthening others as He calls me to.  I must also remain constant in my reliance upon Him for salvation and must remain steady in my faith in Him.  I need to be abounding in thanksgiving and remain in active gratitude to God for all He has done for me, thanksgiving is part of a life of worship.  I must be perceptive (aware) of anyone who may try to lead me away from the Truth, via philosophy, deceit, religious tradition, or anything other than the way of Christ!

As I am walking in Him, I must give myself wholly to Him, and rest in Him.  He must completely fill me, He resides in me and I reside in Him.  He is the head and authority of my life, and I have been filled with Him (spiritually completed and perfected, fully supplied).  I must put off my human nature, with its frailties (physically and morally) and passions, and live a life of spiritual circumcision (living in a covenant relationship with Him, being set apart for Him and His purposes alone).  I have been buried with Him in baptism (immersed with and spiritually assimilated) and raised (spiritually revived and made alive!) with Him through the strong, effectual, and miraculous working of God, the supreme Divinity!  He has forgiven me all my sins, both willful and unintentional, and has blotted out and wiped away any record of any debt I owed as a result of those sins.  The legal demands of those sins were nailed to His cross, and Christ triumphed over rules and authorities by His resurrection so I am no longer liable because He has taken that liability on my behalf!  So the very least I can do is live for Him!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Colossians 2:6-15 - "As you have received {Him}, so walk in Him"

As you are studying this passage look for answers to the following questions:

1)  What does it mean to "have received" Christ?
2)  How do we "walk in Him?"
3)  What does the passage indicate "in Him" includes? (e.g. "buried with Him in baptism...")
4)  What happened to the legal consequences (demands) of our sin?

After answering the above questions, take a few moments to write a paraphrase of this passage (and please share it with us!).  How does this passage apply personally to you?  What does it mean for your life?  (Include this in the paraphrase, if appropriate.)  

The Devotional Method

 Some of us may want to try the "Devotional Method" of Bible Study, as described by Rick Warren in his book "Rick Warren's Bible Study Methods."  Here is a brief outline and description:

1.  Pray
2.  Meditate
3.  Apply
4.  Memorize

1)  Pray - ask the Lord to give you insight into and understanding about the passage you are going to study.  Pray He would teach you and tell Him you are willing to hear what He has to share with you, and you are ready to obey!  :)

2)  Meditate - there are various ways to meditate on a passage of Scripture.  Here are some suggestions:
     A)  Visualize the scene in your mind.  Put yourself in the situation and imagine yourself as an active participant. 
           How would you feel? 
           What would you say? 
           What would you do?
     B)  Emphasize words - read a verse out loud several times and each time emphasize a different word.
     C)  Paraphrase the passage (either write your own, or read a published paraphrase).
     D)  Personalize the passage by putting your own name in place of the pronouns or nouns used.
     E)  Use the SPACEPETS acrostic (listed below as a reply to this discussion).
     F)  Pray the verse or passage back to God.

3) Apply - write out an application of the passage addressing four key factors.  
     A) Personal - write it in the first person singular (I, me)
     B) Practical - plan a specific course of action you intend to take
     C) Possible - make it something you know you can accomplish
     D) Provable - make it measurable, and set a follow up to check your success

4)  Memorize - pick a key verse from your study and commit it to memory - write it down on a post-it or index card and carry it with you throughout the day, regularly reviewing the verse.

SPACEPETS - Is there any...
  1. Sin to confess?  Do I need to make any restitution
  2. Promise to claim?  Is it a universal promise?  Have I met the condition(s)?
  3. Attitude to change?  Am I willing to work on a negative attitude and begin building toward a positive one?
  4. Command to obey?  Am I willing to do it no matter what I feel?
  5. Example to follow?  Is it a positive example for me to copy, or a negative one to avoid?
  6. Prayer to pray?  Is there anything I need to pray back to God?
  7. Error to avoid?  Is there any problem that I should be alert to or beware of?
  8. Truth to believe?  What new things can I learn about God the Father, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, or other Biblical teachings?
  9. Something to praise God for?  Something to be thankful for?

Suggested starting points
    1. a. Psalm 15
    2. b. Psalm 34
    3. c. Romans 12
    4. d. I Thessalonians 5:12-22
    5. e. I John 4