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 stories...how 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 righteousness...do 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

The Chapter Summary Method

  1. Read through the chapter at least five times
    1. Read it in a Bible without notes
    2. Read it without stopping
    3. Read it in several different contemporary translations
    4. Read it aloud quietly to yourself
  2. Look for the 10 Cs
    1. Caption:  A short, descriptive title (one to five words) using the key word of the chapter
    2. Contents:  Describe, summarize, paraphrase, outline, or make a list of the major points
      1. Don’t interpret, just observe
    3. Chief People:  The most important people in the chapter
        1. Who?  
        2. Why are they included?  
        3. What is significant about them?  
        4. Why did you choose to list them?
    4. Choice Verse:  A verse that summarizes the whole chapter or speaks to you personally
    5. Crucial Word(s):  The key word of the chapter (there may be more than one)
    6. Challenges:  Statements you don’t understand OR topics (or words) you’d like to study further
    7. Cross-References:  Other verse that help clarify what the chapter is talking about
    8. Christ Seen:  Statements that tell you something about Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, or God the Father
      1. The nature of Jesus
      2. Attributes of God in Christ
    9. Central Lesson(s):  Major principles, insights and lessons you learn from this chapter
      1. Why does God want this passage in the Bible?
      2. What does He want to teach me from this chapter?
      3. What is the central thought the writer is trying to develop?
    10. Conclusion:  Application
      1. How do these truths apply to me personally?
      2. What specifically am I going to do about them?
  1. Suggested starting points
    1. I Corinthians 13
    2. 2 Timothy 2
    3. I John 1
    4. John 17
    5. The gospel of Luke (chapter by chapter)

(From “Rick Warren’s Bible Study Methods”)

Colossians 1:24-2:5 - Implications of Spiritual Maturity

Paul is writing because of his deep love for the Colossians and Laodiceans (even though he has never met them) and to help them more fully understand the Word of God (also to keep them from falling to deceptive teachings).

Paul is fulfilling his God assigned purpose in ministering to (and teaching) the churches, working (struggling, toiling) to the point of exhaustion, yet still with joy.

Paul desires for the Colossians (and others) to understand the “mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed” that Christ lives in us and He is our hope (expectation) of glory.  Paul expects, through this understanding, for the Colossians (and others) to grow into maturity in Christ.  

Paul wants the Colossians to understand how to love (have affection for and extend benevolence to) each other.  He wants them to walk in the unity that such love reflects, and he also wants them to be confident in understanding, both spiritually and intellectually, the deity (majesty) and Fatherhood of God and the salvation available through Christ.  

As a world-wide church we are to love one another, specifically to have affection for and care for one another, and walk in unity.

We each have a purpose God has ordained for us to fulfill, but fulfilling that purpose does not mean we will not struggle or get tired.  It does mean we can experience joy in the midst of it all.

Spiritual maturity includes understanding that Christ lives in us and He is our hope.  It also includes loving each other, walking in unity, and being confident in who God is.  

Understanding Who God is helps us not fall prey to deceptive teachings.

It’s convicting to consider that Paul was rejoicing in his sufferings for the sake of people whom he had never met.  I can’t honestly say I would do that.

I pray God would continue to mature me, and help me grow in love for my brothers and sisters in Christ, including the ones to whom I have yet to be introduced.

Throughout this week, I am planning to spend time meditating on the majesty of God, and the wonder that He would set aside that majesty to become a man and take on my sin so that I could be forgiven and justified, and dwell forever with Him.  It’s overwhelming!

Questions for further consideration:  
What impact, if any, does discord among believers have on our ability to understand Who God is?
What is the connection between understanding Who God is, and spiritual maturity?
What are the observable “fruits” of spiritual maturity?

Colossians 1:15-23 - Jesus is God and our reconciliation is through and because of Him - only Him!

What does this passage teach us about Jesus?

We know from the end of the previous passage that Jesus has delivered us and given us redemption.

In this passage we learn Jesus is:
  • the image (likeness, representation, resemblance)* of the invisible God
  • the firstborn of all creation
  • before all things
  • the Head of the body (a sound whole body, slave)*
  • the beginning
  • the firstborn from the dead
  • preeminent (first in rank/influence)* in everything
  • by/through/in/for Him:
    • all things were created
    • all things hold together
    • all the fulness (repletion [well-supplied], completion)* of God was pleased to dwell
    • to reconcile (protect, fully cover)* to himself all things
      • making peace by the blood of the cross

We also learn that the Colossian church, who were once alienated (estranged)* and hostile (hateful, enemy)* in mind/deeds, have now been reconciled (protected, fully covered)* in order to be presented holy (sacred, pure)* and blameless (unblemished, faultless)* and above reproach (unaccused, blameless)* before Him.  

*from Strong’s Concordance

Jesus is supreme.  He is God. 

We are reconciled to God only because of Jesus.

Reconciliation is necessary because we are all born sinners and sin separates us from God.  But the good news is that Jesus came and took the penalty for our sin, and defeated death to live again, in order to make us pure so that we can abide in (and be intimate with) Him.  

It’s all because of Jesus.  

Through Jesus’s death and resurrection he has given me the gift of reconciliation.  Am I living in such a way that I am humbly acknowledging and appreciating this gift or am I living irreverently, disrespectfully, blasphemously, profanely?  Am I living a life of thanksgiving, praise, worship?  Am I sharing the good news with others, telling them that they need and can themselves have this same gift?

Colossians 1:1-14 - A Prayer for the Saints

1)  What title did you give this section of scripture?  (My title is in the topic.)  :)
2)  What has God shown you through this section of scripture?
3)  Following are my thoughts/impressions.  Do you agree?  Disagree?  Have more to add?

Please feel free to share what God is showing you so we can all be growing closer to Jesus and encouraging each other!

Observation (what do I see?):

The Colossians heard the truth of the gospel and they GOT it!  They understood the truth and God’s grace.  The gospel was growing and bearing fruit in the world AND among the Colossians.  Paul prayed they would know God’s will, walk in HIs ways, bear fruit, and grow in intimacy with God.  Paul also encouraged the Colossians that the strength they would need to walk in God’s will would be provided and would be enough, because they would be walking in God’s strength.  God has given them “the inheritance of the saints.”  

Meaning of Key Words (taken from Strong’s Concordance):

Saints: sacred, pure, morally blameless, consecrated, holy
Knowledge: recognition, full discernment
Understanding: a mental putting together
Wisdom: thoughtful, acumen (the ability to make good judgments and quick decisions)
Walk:  follow, be occupied with
Strengthened:  enabled
Might (“Power” in ESV): miraculous ability/abundance
Power (“Might” in ESV): dominion, strength

Interpretation (what does it mean?):

What is the gospel, at it’s root?  Basically, it is the “good news.”  The good news that we are all born sinners who cannot be in the presence of the one true God (because sin cannot be in the presence of His holiness), BUT GOD, because of His grace, sent His Son to qualify, deliver, and redeem us!  BUT GOD!

People can hear the gospel, but without KNOWLEDGE and an UNDERSTANDING of it, there is no awareness of the need to be rescued from the sin in which we dwell (or dwelt).  

For the saint, knowledge (recognition) of what God’s will is should lead to obedience.  Obedience leads to bearing fruit and “increasing in the knowledge of God.”  I believe this refers to both an increased ability to discern God’s will and a deeper, more intimate relationship with God Himself.  So, obedience leads to fruit which leads to a more intimate relationship, which leads to increased obedience.  It’s cyclical.  Intimacy with God cannot exist separate from obedience to Him.

Strength to obey WHATEVER God is calling a believer to walk through is given according to GOD’S strength, not the believer’s strength.  So if God is calling someone to something, He WILL give that person everything she needs to do it.  

The Colossians were walking in darkness, BUT GOD qualified them to receive the saints’ inheritance by delivering them from darkness and transferring them to the Kingdom of His Son.  This could happen only because Jesus became the ultimate sacrifice.  It’s all because of Jesus.  Hallelujah!  IT’S ALL BECAUSE OF JESUS!

Application (what do I do?):

As a born again Christian, I am no longer a sinner, I am a saint.  BECAUSE OF JESUS.  He has redeemed me (i.e. “gained possession of [me] in exchange for payment,”).*  This redemption is a gift to me.  He gave me knowledge of my sin, understanding of the payment necessary for my sin, and knowledge and understanding of the redemption He offers as a gift (by His grace).  Accepting that gift of redemption means I am no longer my own.  It is my responsibility to “walk in a manner worthy of the Lord.”  And He gives me His strength to do so.  

My walk needs to not just be following Him, but I need to be “occupied with” Him.  He needs to be the focus of my life.  Every moment of every day.  I need to obey without reservation.  (And He wants this obedience to flow from my love for Him.)  I cannot know His will without spending time with Him.  Intimacy is a fruit of knowing and obeying His will.  

In order to “walk in a manner worthy of the Lord”
  1. I need to spend time with Him (worshipping Him, talking to Him, listening to Him, reading and studying His Word)
  2. I need to obey Him (loving Him and loving others)
  3. I need to pray for the spiritual health of others (inferred from the example of Paul praying for the Colossians)

As a result of this
  1. Fruit of various forms will be produced (although NOT through my efforts to produce it)
  2. I will grow in intimacy with Him
  3. Others will grow in intimacy with Him, also

Lord, help me walk in a manner worthy of the gospel!

*(According to the “New Oxford American Dictionary.”)  

Things to think about while reading Colossians

Questions from Kay Arthur’s book “Discover the Bible for Yourself”

  1. Examine your lifestyle.  What are you pursuing?  Does it have eternal value?  Is it drawing you closer to God or keeping you from time alone with God in prayer and in studying the Word?  Are you seeking things that are above or earthly things?
  2. Examine your beliefs.  Are you being deluded with any modern-day philosophies or traditions that contradict the Word or aren’t in the Word?  Any legalistic rules that are not clearly taught in the New Testament?  Any mystical teachings or prophecies that can’t be supported in the Word of God that have a tendency to add something that isn’t there or that seem to be only for an elite group of people?
  3. Inductive Bible study takes time.  The enemy will do all he can to keep you from knowing God and His Word intimately, for truth is your major defense and offense in spiritual warfare.  Are you going to make it your goal to let the Word of Christ richly dwell within you and to walk in its precepts?
  4. Are you proclaiming the Lord Jesus Christ and holding firmly to all He is and all that you have in Him as He is presented in Colossians?
  5. As you studied Colossians, did you see any areas in your life in which you are falling short or simply walking in disobedience to God’s Word?  What steps are you going to take in order to correct these?

Colossians Introduction

Welcome to our first study ... the book of Colossians!  

Let's start with an overview of this book (which is a letter)...

First, take a few moments to read the book (four chapters).  Before starting to read, take time to ask God to speak to you through His Word. As you’re reading, look for clues about the "who(s)" of this letter.  When you are finished, share your observations about the following:

1)  Who wrote this letter?  What does the letter tell us about the author(s)?  (Consider identity, location, personal qualities, behaviors, or anything else you observe.)

2)  Who was/were the intended recipient(s) of the letter?  What does the letter tell us about him/her/them?  (Again, consider identity, location, personal qualities, behaviors, etc.)

3)  What do you think is/are the author(s) goal(s) in writing this letter?

I will be posting my observations/thoughts in the next day or so...I am so looking forward to what God shows each of us!


My observations:

1)  Paul, who is in prison wrote this letter, possibly it was scribed by Timothy, who is with Paul in some way.  

Paul is an apostle, a minister of the gospel, and though he is absent in body he is present in spirit.  He acknowledges the supremacy of Christ (reflecting humility) and encourages the faithful at Colossae to holiness (reflecting confidence, in who he is in Christ and in his calling).  He is a teacher and exhorter (giving to the saints) and asks for prayer, especially to communicate clearly (asking for something in return).  He is desiring to hear more reports of growth about the Colossian saints (whom it looks like he has not met).  

2)  The church (saints/faithful brothers) at Colossae are the recipients of the letter.

The people in the church at Colossae were once aliented/hostile in mind but now reconciled to Christ through what He did in his death and resurrection.  Apparently the Colossians are Gentiles, since they have not been physically circumcised.  The Colossian church, while having been “buried in baptism” and “raised with Him,” are also reminded by Paul that they are forgiven.  They are also, however, submitting to legalistic rules and human expectations.  I am wondering if they are also being led astray by false teachings?

3)  I think Paul’s goal is to encourage the saints at Colossae to walk in spiritual wholeness, freedom, and true holiness, which are available to them based not on their achievements but on what Christ did for them (and us!) so that the saints at Colossae will fulfill God’s purpose for each of them.


Welcome to “Better Things” - Online Bible Studies For Women!

Where Did “Better Things” Come From?
The name “Better Things” comes from a vision for ministry God gave me years ago related to His calling on (and purpose for) my life.  Perhaps some day I’ll share more of that story with you.  :)  Since the time God gave me that vision, the phrase “Better Things” reminds me that God is calling His children to live a life of freedom and to walk in spiritual maturity.  Maturity comes from abiding in Him and learning and doing His will.  We can’t learn the will of God separate from His Word.  And it’s very easy to stop spending time in Scripture without the support and accountability of others...life gets busy and one missed day turns into ten (or more) very quickly.  God created His children with a need for fellowship with one another and yet the pace of life in this millennium doesn’t always allow for face-to-face get togethers for support and accountability.  Thus, the beginning of “Better Things” online Bible studies.

James 1:25 “But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.”

The Plan
Every few days I will post a new discussion topic related to the book of the Bible we are studying (the first one being Colossians).  I highly recommend checking the group wall on a regular basis, because posts on the wall will not necessarily show up in your individual news feeds.  (I temporarily signed my husband up for the group to see if I could ascertain if/how group wall posts would be reflected in individual news feeds, but I was not able to conclusively ascertain how that process works.)

Each of us may use different methods in our studies.  I will occasionally post ideas for ways to approach studying a specific section of the Scripture.  In studying Colossians, my overall plan is to approach the book using a modification of the Inductive Bible Study Method.  I have found over the years that approaching a scripture passage using the steps of Observation, Interpretation, and Application are helpful in 1) understanding what I am reading and 2) learning how to apply the concepts in my own life.  Because reading Scripture is vital but knowledge without action is fruitless, it is imperative to DO what we are learning.  

(Disclaimer:  I am NOT trained by Precept Ministries to lead an Inductive Bible Study and will not be teaching this method.   For a brief overview of the Inductive Bible Study Method, check out the webpage (and PDF) available here:  http://www.precept.org/site/PageServer?pagename=101_whatisinductivestudy.)

Your Role
You can be as involved or as uninvolved as you wish in the discussions.  Feel free to post comments on the wall or post thoughts/comments on discussion posts, however you feel led.  (Please be sure comments are respectful of and loving toward others.)

I Timothy 1:5 “The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.”

In Conclusion
It is my prayer that we would each be continually conforming to the likeness of Christ through these studies!  I’m so excited to see what God is going to do in us!

Please take a few minutes to briefly introduce yourself and what you hope to get from this group in general, or from the study of Colossians we are going to be starting soon!