Learn to USE your Bible - Week Four - Part One 💕
Do you think anyone or anything is going to be able to drive a wedge between you and Christ’s love for you? _ Romans 8:35
So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose? If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us? And who would dare tangle with God by messing with one of God’s chosen? Who would dare even to point a finger? The One who died for us–who was raised to life for us!–is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us. Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture:
They kill us in cold blood because they hate you. We’re sitting ducks; they pick us off one by one.
None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. I’m absolutely convinced that nothing–nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable – absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us. Romans 8:31-39 The Message
I am sure!
The modern English of The Message translation gives strong support to Paul’s position, but the Amplified Bible translates verses 38-39 with even more power and assurance.
In this translation Paul says “I am sure…”
For I am persuaded beyond doubt (I am sure) that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities, nor things impending and threatening nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39
So, for me at least, last week’s assignment simply served to reinforce what I’ve always taken as a personal guarantee from Jesus – “IT IS FINISHED.” In him you and I can have perfect peace, joy unspeakable and absolute assurance of God’s love for us, because Christ paid for it. ALL of it.
Last week we began indexing the Letters of the New Testament. We talked about Romans, First and Second Corinthians, Galatians and Ephesians.
This week we’ll begin with Philippians and continue
Index Your Bible – week four
The letter to the church of the PHILIPPIANS is believed to be one of four letters Paul wrote from prison. Scholars suggest different places and dates for the writing, but the most widely held view is that Paul wrote Philippians, Colossians, Philemon and Ephesians during his two year imprisonment in Rome between A.D. 59 and 61 (Acts 28, 30).
There does not appear to be a single overriding concern behind this epistle. For the most part it is simply a pastoral communication between Paul and a church that was especially dear to him, probably the first he established in the European region. It would seem that Paul had developed a bond of love and mutual confidence with this church that was unequaled elsewhere – consequently this is the most personal of Paul’s letters not written to an individual.
Writing from prison, with Timothy to aid him, Paul emphasizes thanksgiving, joy, assurance, love, grace, righteousness and glory. It can be said this letter to the church at Philippi is all about “How To Live Above Your Circumstances.”
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Also, as we did last week, let’s highlight a few verses to help with cultivating your personal relationship with Jesus.
1:6 And so I am sure that God, who began this good work in you, will carry it on until it is finished on the Day of Christ Jesus.
2:9-11 For this reason God raised him (Jesus) to the highest place above and gave him the name that is greater than any other name. And so, in honor of the name of Jesus all beings in heaven, on earth, and in the world below will fall on their knees, and all will openly proclaim that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
4:4-7 May you always be joyful in your union with the Lord. I say it again: rejoice! Show a gentle attitude toward everyone. The Lord is coming soon. Don’t worry about anything, but in all your prayers ask God for what you need, always asking him with a thankful heart. And God’s peace, which is far beyond human understanding, will keep your hearts and minds safe in union with Christ Jesus.
The letter to the COLOSSIANS has been called the twin epistle of Ephesians. Written about the same time, the content of the two letters is very similar. Timothy was associated with Paul in Rome in the writing of these two letters while Paul was a prisoner there. However, in this letter Paul is addressing a group he did not know personally. The city of Colosse was located about one hundred miles east of Ephesus in the Lycus valley. Apparently this area was evangelized by Epaphras, Timothy and others (Acts 19:10) while Paul was living and teaching in Ephesus. Epaphras brought a report to Paul, under arrest in Rome, on the situation of the churches in the Lycus Valley. Apparently some religious teachers were insisting that they had additional knowledge that was necessary for salvation. These teachers began pressuring the believers in the church at Colosse, to incorporate Jewish and pagan beliefs into the gospel message. We should note – very similar erroneous messages are being pressed upon believers today.
In this brief letter, Paul charts a course of faith for the Colossians – and for us – as he shows the dangers of mixing the gospel message with worthless beliefs, and he reminds them that Christ is Lord of all and is completely adequate for all of life’s situations. Paul warns the Colossians to reject any system that would belittle the person of Christ and stand fast in their faith, holding to the hope contained in the gospel. As Paul reminds the Colossians, we need to remember – in Christ we have been raised to newness of life – and in him all grace and virtues are to be found. Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. Hold fast to him who is the source of life and spiritual growth.
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Some verses to highlight in this letter are:
1:27 God’s plan is to make known his secret to his people, this rich and glorious secret which he has for all peoples. And the secret is that Christ is in you, which means that you will share in the glory of God.
2:6-7 Since you have accepted Christ Jesus as Lord, live in union with him. Keep your roots deep in him, build your lives on him, and become stronger in your faith, as you were taught. And be filled with thanksgiving.
3:15 The peace that Christ gives is to guide you in the decisions you make; for it is to this peace that God has called you together in the one body. And be thankful.
First and Second Thessalonians
Paul wrote two letters to the church at Thessalonica that have survived. They are, in the opinion of most scholars, among the earliest he wrote, probably in A.D. 51- 52. The letters fit with what we know of Paul’s missionary work from Acts 17 – 18, his second missionary journey. Thessalonica was a major military and commercial sea port of about 200,000 located along an important Roman road connecting Asia Minor with the Adriatic Sea.
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The letter know to us as FIRST THESSALONIANS was written during Paul’s year and a half of ministry in Corinth. Timothy reported to him that the church he had planted in Thessalonica was doing fairly well and that they were steadfast in the faith, but also relayed the need for additional teaching in matters relating to the end times and Christian ethics.
The Thessalonians were new believers in a predominately pagan society. The Greeks despised manual labor and viewed it as fit only for slaves. Much like our modern society, a wide range of sexual values and practices existed in both the Greek and Roman societies. Moral standards were generally low, and chastity was regarded as an unreasonable restriction. First-century pagans viewed death with horror, as witnessed by inscriptions on tombs and references in literature of the day. So, Paul writes to supplement his former teachings concerning these problems. He gave particular attention to the hope of Christ’s return, which offers comfort and encouragement in times of death as well as daily life. The subject of the second coming of Christ seems to permeate the first letter. his theme appears to be “facing the future with hope.”
This letter was written a few months after the first letter, while Paul was still in Corinth. Some people who heard the letter read misunderstood Paul’s teaching and the contents of his first letter. They wrongly concluded that the coming of Christ had already begun and as a result they were failing to live with the Christian perspective Paul taught in all his letters. They became lazy believers, sitting and watching the sky for his return while depending on others to supply their needs and to do their work. Paul wrote this second letter to urge them to stand strong despite the pressures of a godless society. He exhorts them to mind their own business, to carefully choose their friends, and to persevere in work and service until Christ returns. his good advise to the Thessalonians is good advice for us today as well.
Some verses to note are:
1 Thessalonians 2:13 Amplified Bible (AMP) And we also [especially] thank God continually for this, that when you received the message of God [which you heard] from us, you welcomed it not as the word of [mere] men, but as it truly is, the Word of God, which is effectually at work in you who believe exercising its superhuman power in those who adhere to and trust in and rely on it].
1 Thessalonians 5:9-10 God did not choose us to suffer his anger, but to possess salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us in order that we might live together with him, whether we are alive or dead when he comes.
2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and in his grace gave us unfailing courage and a firm hope, encourage you and strengthen you to always do and say what is good.
On Your Own
It is my sincere hope that, as you have touched on the history of each “book” in your Bible, a hunger to learn more about the circumstances and situations surrounding each one has developed in your spirit and that you will continue to search out more and more information on your own. Most Bibles will contain at least a brief introduction for every book. By combining these snippets of knowledge, you will amass more and more knowledge. Knowledge regarding God’s Word builds strength…spiritual strength. In today’s world, more than ever before, spiritual strength is necessary, and it is wise to heed the words of Jude:
But you must remember, beloved, the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ; they said to you, “In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions.” It is these who set up divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit. But you, beloved, build yourselves up on your most holy faith; pray in the Holy Spirit; keep yourselves in the love of God; wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. And convince some, who doubt; save some, by snatching them out of the fire; on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.