Oct. 23. Paul Denounces Judaizing False Teachers

Phil. 3:1-11

Paul was constantly aware of the problems caused by false teachers. The Jews referred to Gentiles as dogs, but he referred to the Judaizing teachers as dogs. He reminded the Philippians that the fleshly demands of the Jewish law were useless under the law of Christ. Spiritual circumcision was of the heart instead of the flesh as practiced by the Jews.

Jews placed a high value on the deeds of the flesh. If anyone was qualified to boast in the Jewish flesh, it was Paul. He stated that he was “circumcised the eighth day, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.”

All of the elite fleshly qualities of an upper-class Jew with their prestige and honors were counted as garbage by Paul. They were lost as he lived the Christian life, but nothing can compare with the gain of one’s eternal salvation with Christ.

According to Paul, man cannot expect to gain eternal life through his own righteousness or that of the law of Moses. Eternal salvation is through faith in Christ which leads one to do the things that Christ has commanded even if he must suffer persecutions.

#chronological-bible-study

Seeing what you want to see

GERALD COWAN’S PERSONAL PERIODICALS
Number 574 • October 22, 2020

SEEING WHAT YOU WANT TO SEE AND
GETTING THE ANSWERS YOU EXPECT AND WANT

An acorn dropped on Henny Penny Chicken Little’s head and she began cackling to alert her world, “The sky is falling, the sky is falling.” A great number believed her, and a great number are still convinced that she was and is right, it is happening, or it’s going to happen. It hasn’t happened yet, but, of course, that does not prove it won’t.

A wooly-worm caterpillar was crossing the road. An excited observer picked it up, noted that its orange stripes were wider than its black stripes and was elated to declare there would be an early and extended spring.

Punxatawny Phil Groundhog emerged from his burrow, saw his shadow and darted back into his hole, having by his action made his one and only weather prediction for the year. Those who observed and interpreted his behavior said we need to be ready for six more weeks of winter and a delayed spring. Whom should we believe, the wooly-worm or the rodent – should we believe either of them? If either is reliable let’s dispense with the weather forecasters on radio, television and news papers – skip the Farmers’ Almanac too. Continue reading

#geralcowan, #perspective

Oct. 22. Philippians Taught Humility and Personal Responsibility

Phil. 2:1-30

As he continued his plea for unity among the Philippians, Paul appealed to their sense of humility. Christians have a common bond with God, the Father; Christ, the Son and the Holy Spirit. These are three distinct individuals, but are united as one and the Holy Spirit guided him as he wrote this letter.

Paul wrote that there is no place in a Christian’s life for selfishness and conceit. These attitudes are the very foundation of division. God is tender and compassionate. Humility causes Christians to exercise those same characteristics toward others. He urged them to seek the well-being of others instead of always demanding their own ways.

Examples are great teachers and Paul used the ultimate example of humility by reminding the Philippians of the life of Christ. Even though He was equal with God, Christ took upon himself the likeness of man and became a servant to lead man back to God. His humility and love led Him to give His life in the most shameful of deaths, on the cross for mankind.

Christ has been exalted in heaven. Every person that is living or has lived or will live in the future will bow his knee in worship at His name and will confess that He is Jesus Christ the Lord. For those who refuse to confess the name of Christ until after death, it will be too late. Their fate will have already been sealed.

Paul instructed the Philippian church to continue to obey his teaching even in his absence. He pointed out that it is the responsibility of each Christian to do the things necessary for his own salvation. No one can obey for another.

The Christian life is sometimes difficult to follow because of the temptations and persecutions that occur. Paul encouraged the Philippians to press on without complaining or questioning God. Even though the flesh may suffer, the mind or spirit must press on and shine as a light in a dark world. The final reward will come at the judgment with the salvation of the faithful. If necessary, he was ready and willing to be offered as a sacrifice for the Philippians (and all of the church).

Paul was anxious to know of the condition of the church at Philippi. Timothy was his right-hand man during his imprisonment in Rome and he was like a son in this relationship. Several years earlier, he had visited Thessalonica and Corinth for Paul. Because of his dependability, Paul determined to send him as soon as he knew more about his own fate even though he thought that he would be able to see them soon.

Paul’s later letters indicate that he was indeed released from prison in Rome and had some time to preach before being arrested again and sentenced to death in Rome.

Epaphroditus, the messenger from Philippi who had delivered their gift of aid to Paul had been deathly sick. Since he had recovered sufficiently to return home, Paul was sending him back to complete his recovery. It is highly likely that he carried this epistle with him as well.

#chronological-bible-study

Modern example of an old incentive

Want to see a modern example of an old incentive that introduced the desire for the reformation movement? One word – papacy.

The “icing on the cake” comes in the form of endorsing commentary from a Jesuit University’s “professor” of theology.

Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools….” (Romans 1:22)

#catholicism, #homosexual-agenda, #reformation

Exalted

Rising Joy by Vicki Matheny

As a result God exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow in heaven and on earth and under the earth – and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2.9-11

What did Jesus do that resulted in his exaltation by God? Jesus was in the form of God. He was equal with God. However, he did not grab onto the situation and hold tightly to it. He emptied himself and became like a man, sharing in our human nature.

Now, if that were all, it would be amazing. Who do you know that would willingly demote himself or herself in importance? But, that was not all that he did. He obeyed the Father to the point of going through an agonizing death on the cross even though he was innocent of any wrong. The sins that he bore on that cross were not his own. They belonged to you and to me. Because of your sin, he was separated from the Father, for God will not remain in the presence of sin.

Due to his willingness to obey, God exalted him and at his name, all will bow. Every tongue will confess that he is Lord. The question remains if you will confess him here in this life and obey him to be received into heaven or will you confess him before being condemned for all eternity. God has given you the liberty to choose which it shall be.

#risingjoy #Philippians #exaltation

Oct. 21. Christian’s Life/Death Win/Win Situation

Phil. 1:19-30

Paul was confident that he would be released from prison soon and would have the opportunity to personally visit the Philippians. His mind and heart were prepared for whatever course he faced. If his life were to end, he was confident of a home in heaven away from the troubles and trials of earth. However, if he were permitted to continue to live, there would be many more opportunities to bear spiritual fruit for the Lord. He was confident that he would, indeed be released and return to Philippi to contribute to their work.

The Philippians were encouraged whether Paul returned or not, to remain faithful and united in the gospel of Christ. He urged them to be of one spirit and one mind in their faith of the gospel and not to fear persecution from their enemies.

#chronological-bible-study

How forgiving and forgiven are you?

GERALD COWAN’S PERSONAL PERIODICALS
Number 573 • October 25, 2020

HOW FORGIVING AND FORGIVEN ARE YOU?

Let’s get right to the point: If you are unforgiving you will be unforgiven. Jesus said it: (Ask God to) forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us…. If you forgive others your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your heavenly Father will not forgive your sins (Matthew 6:12, 14-15).

This principle applies in many ways. If you are not merciful to others you will not receive mercy – at least not from God (James 2:13). One who refuses to hear the cries of a needy brother will not be heard when he himself cries out in need or distress (Proverbs 21:13, compare James 2:15-17, 1 John 3:17). If you are not doing for or to others as required it will not be done to or for you when you require it. Don’t stop with Matthew 6 – continue without break into Matthew 7. The kind of judgment (reasonable, harsh, hypocritical, double standard, etc) you give others determines the kind of judgment you will receive. For example: Matthew 7:1ff. Those who judge with strict judgment, without mercy, without consideration of extenuating or mitigating circumstances, etc. will receive no mercy, etc when they are judged (compare James 2:13).

WHAT FORGIVENESS IS NOT.

It is not just ignoring the sin and those who wrong us, turning a blind eye or refusing to notice, refusing to hold others accountable. God does not overlook sins and neither should His people – God does not tell us to do so. Forgiveness does not mean sin somehow becomes invisible, to God or to any others. God’s omniscience means He always knows, without mistakes and without gaps, what was, what is, and what will be. At every moment He knows even the future as if it were the past (Isaiah 46:8-10). He knows what has been done, whether error has been corrected, whether any necessary thing remains to be done, whether and when it will be done. He does not close His eyes to anything.

God does not refuse to see or become unable to see sin once it has been forgiven. He does not remove it from his ledger, His book of remembrance, once He forgives it – nor does He ask us to do so. Like any good accountant God has separate parts to His ledger: (1) Accounts Receivable/Payable (what is still owed and must be paid); (2) Accounts Paid – payments made are duly noted and recorded so that one does not become charged again for debts already paid and therefore closed to further transactions.

God sees and knows constantly and always debts incurred, payments made, and amount still owed. When it is marked “truly and fully paid” it will not be remembered or charged against the person again. That is the extent of God’s forgetting: He will not bring a forgiven matter against the forgiven person again (Hebrews 8:12, 10:17).

Forgiveness is not a refusal to retaliate with a blow for a blow, eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth, or life for a life. One can refrain from retaliation but still harbor bitterness, ill will and resentment, holding the guilty accountable and rejecting the offending person. Jesus said if your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he then repents, forgive him (Luke 17:3).

It is not putting the offender on probation while we adjudicate and consider how inexcusable his behavior was, and then promise to forgive if and as long as no further offenses are forthcoming.

WHAT FORGIVENESS IS.

Since we are urged to forgive in the same way and to the same extent and with the same attitude as God displays in forgiving us (Ephesians 4:29-32), we can better understand what forgiveness is by observing what God does when He forgives. He does not remove the notation of wrong from His record. The blotting out of sins that accompanies conversion (Acts 3:19) is nothing more than moving the item from accounts payable to accounts paid and no longer to be charged against the convert. His actions toward the forgiven are as if the sin had never occurred at all. As in the case of the “prodigal son” (Luke 15:11-24) the once-away once-spiritually-dead son is restored to his rightful place, home again and alive to his father again. In God’s forgiveness the guilt is lifted, certain (though perhaps not all) consequences are removed, one is not bound in place as a current transgressor but is free to move forward toward the goals and rewards of the restored transgressor.

TAKE THE “HAVE I REALLY FORGIVEN MY OFFENDER” TEST

  1. Do you secretly rejoice when some misfortune happens to the one who offended or sinned against you? Does it please you to think “karma” has bitten your offender?
  2. Do you purposely avoid contact, or being present where he is? Do you speak to him only when necessary, never initiate conversation?
  3. Do you remember and can’t forget the wrong committed and how it hurt you, how it made you feel? Do you brood over it, silently meditating and still resenting the wrong done to you – perhaps even over-dramatizing the trauma and reliving the experience?
  4. If your offender needed help or asked you to pray for him, would you do it? Would you do good for him or pray for him without being asked?
  5. Have you talked with the one who sinned against you, telling him his fault and asking about your own fault – perhaps you caused him to sin against you? Have you asked him to repent and accept your forgiveness – have you asked him to accept your repentance and forgive you for your improper attitude and actions against him?
  6. Do you ask God, when praying for yourself, to help you find a way to be reconciled and restored to fellowship with your offender or one you have offended? Do you even want to be reconciled with him and in fellowship with him, serving and worshiping God together with him?

FORGIVING YOURSELF CAN BE A PROBLEM?

Be careful not to forgive yourself too easily for unforgiven and unforgivable sins against God, others, and yourself. You are not the final arbiter, judge, or jury. Refusing forgiveness offered to you by others, or by God, is a form of unforgiveness – which will not be forgiven (Matthew 6:14-15), as we noted at the beginning of this essay. Refusing to forgive, refusing to be forgiven or to accept forgiveness is also a form of unforgiveness. I recall vividly a man who told me, “I have been such a bad person and my sins are so terrible that I cannot forgive myself, and I could not respect anyone, not even God, who would forgive me for the things I’ve done.” Refusing to forgive yourself is also unforgiveness. Forgiving yourself is a matter of acknowledging the wrongs and accepting forgiveness, then letting them and the associated guilt go and moving forward in the new direction you are allowed to take. You can’t change your past nor can you live in it. You can let it be the past – by God’s grace the forgiven past – and thankfully reach toward the promises of the future with Him. The principle applies to anyone from whom you are estranged and want to be reconciled.

THE ONE WHO IS AWARE OF THE SEPARATION MUST TAKE THE INITIATIVE IN EFFECTING FORGIVENESS.

Don’t insist that the other person take the first step. If you are an offender you should take the first step (Matthew 5:23-24). If you are the offended don’t wait for the offender to take the first step. Let him know you are open to reconciliation and that you are seeking renewed fellowship with him (Matthew 18:15-17) and are willing to do whatever it takes to accomplish that. Both the offender and the offended are hindered from proper worship to God until the separating matter has been corrected.

When you sinned against God who took the first step to make a way back to Him? He did, by supplying a redeemer savior and opening a path for you to Himself in Jesus Christ (John 14:6).

The reason for seeking and giving forgiveness is not to find an excuse for condemning and destroying others but to save them, and to save yourself (Acts 2:40, Philippians 2:12-13).

HOW DOES “WALKING IN THE LIGHT” FORGIVE SIN?

Walking in the light (1 John 1:5-10) means you are doing what you know is right and avoiding what you know is wrong. “Walking in the light” is not synonymous with “being a Christian.” Nobody is perfect, making no mistakes, committing no sins. But if one finds he is wrong then repents and corrects it and seeks God’s forgiveness he will be forgiven. If one finds he is wrong and does not repent it, correct it, and seek forgiveness for it he is no longer walking in the light. Forgiveness is not automatic. Grace is not forgiveness – it is a way toward forgiveness. When one becomes aware of sin it must be repented and whatever else is necessary must be done in order to secure forgiveness. Walking in the light means growing in faith and knowledge and grace (2 Peter 3:18) – as one learns one adapts, one changes if necessary to comply with the new understanding of God’s will.

#geraldcowan #forgiveness

Oct. 20. Paul Thanks Philippians for Past Help

Phil. 1:3-18

Paul had suffered extremely harsh treatment by the unbelievers of Philippi. The love shown to him by the church overflowed to the other extreme with Lydia’s support and the washing of his stripes by the jailer at the beginning and then their aid to him as a Roman prisoner. He constantly remembered them in his prayers to God for their kindness. As they ministered to his needs, they were also sharing in his labors in Rome.

As one exercises his faith in the doing of good works, he becomes stronger as a Christian. Paul prayed that the Philippians would continue to increase and be filled with the fruits of righteousness (right living).

The apostle had stated in his letter to the Roman church about six years earlier, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God…” He related to the Philippians how that truth was being carried out during his imprisonment in Rome. Because of his circumstances, many of the Roman residents, including members of the palace guard had heard his message and had been converted to Christ. By seeing how Paul had reacted to his trials, others gained confidence to follow his example of preaching the gospel.

Some of those preachers were envious of Paul and tried to discredit him while others were true friends. He was not personally offended by their envy, but was happy that the gospel was being preached.

#chronological-bible-study

Hugh’s News & Views (Young People)

YOUNG PEOPLE

As is the case with old people (about whom we wrote last week), the Bible has much to say about young people. In some respects, both “young” and “old” are relative terms. Even after I was in my 60s, I would sometimes be told, “You are still a young man.” To me, anyone under 60 is young. Consider some things the Bible tells us about young people.

Joseph was only 17 years old when he was sold by his envious brothers into Egyptian slavery, but in Egypt he rose to great heights in the government, and later was used by the Lord to save his family from a severe famine in the land of Canaan (Genesis 37:2). While still a mere child, Samuel was turned over to Eli, the priest of God, by his mother to be trained for service to the Lord. Samuel grew up to become a judge, a prophet, and a powerful spiritual leader of God’s people. But it all began when he was very young (I Samuel 1:19-28). David was the youngest of Jesse’s son and the least likely to be chosen to succeed Saul as the king of Israel, yet he was the Lord’s choice (I Samuel 16:1-13). When David went out to meet the Philistine giant in battle he was “but a youth” (I Samuel 17:33), yet he slew the giant with a sling and a stone, then ran to the fallen body of Goliath, drew the giant’s own sword from its sheath, and cut off his head (I Samuel 17:45-51). Continue reading

#hughfulford, #youth

Bodies

Rising Joy by Vicki Matheny

And just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, let us also bear the image of the man of heaven. Now this is what I am saying, brothers and sisters: Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Listen, I will tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed – in a moment, in the blinking of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 1 Corinthians 15.49-52

Adam was the first man that God created. He was created out of the dust of the earth. Upon his death, his body returned to dust. This is true of almost every human being with few exceptions. Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, which is spiritual. Our perishable body is not compatible with the heavenly kingdom.

Paul wrote to the Corinthians to encourage them to be firm in their faith. Not all Christians will die before the Lord returns. His return will be like a thief that comes in the night, 2 Peter 3.10. Unexpected! At that time, in the blink of an eye, those who are still alive will be changed and given a body that is imperishable, one that can pass into eternity and inherit the kingdom of God.

Paul’s message to Christians was to stand firm and not be moved from your faith. For just as your earthly body was like that of Adam, you will be given a heavenly body like the one from heaven.

#risingjoy #1-Corinthians #resurrection

Oct. 19. Letter to Church at Philippi

Phil. 1:1, 2

Paul wrote several letters from prison during his ministry. After writing to Philemon, the letter to the Philippian church was probably his next. It was written from Rome about A.D. 63.

Philippi was founded by Philip of Macedon, the father of Alexander the Great. Macedonia was a Roman province and Philippi was one of the principal cities of that region.

It was during his second missionary journey that Paul had a vision calling him into Macedonia. Upon arriving at Philippi, he met with a group of Jewish women by the riverside. Of this group, Lydia and her household were the first Philippians to become Christians. They and the jailer whom Paul converted along with others comprised the church in Philippi as he and Silas moved on to other cities.

Paul and the Philippians had a great mutual admiration and it was through their love that they had sent aid to him in prison. This gift was sent by Epaphroditus and grateful Paul wrote this letter of thanks and encouragement to them. It has been called “Paul’s love letter to the church at Philippi.” Epaphroditus delivered it when he returned home later.

This epistle was addressed to the saints (Christians), bishops (elders) and deacons. As during previous times, Timothy was present as Paul wrote this letter. It is possible that Timothy penned the words as they were dictated to him.

#chronological-bible-study

Oct. 18. Paul Intervenes for Runaway Slave

Philemon 1:4-25

Paul recognized and was thankful to God for Philemon’s faith and great accomplishments among the church in that area.

Even though as an apostle, Paul had the authority to command, he chose to appeal to Philemon’s love and sympathy to grant his request for Onesimus. Deserting his master was a serious offence. He had possibly stolen from him also. Paul stated that he had been unprofitable, but as a Christian was now profitable for both himself and Philemon.

Paul would have gladly allowed Onesimus to stay with him in Rome, but he would not do so without Philemon’s consent. He did, however, give Philemon an opportunity to return Onesimus to him as a contribution to Paul’s mission.

According to Paul, it may have been through God’s providence that Onesimus had left his master. That allowed him to meet Paul, be converted to Christ and then return for greater service to Philemon and to the church.

Paul had a close relationship with Philemon and urged that he receive Onesimus as he would receive Paul. He also had the love for Onesimus that he accepted responsibility for any debt that he owed his master. However, he pointed out that Philemon owed him a debt for his own spiritual life.

The apostle had faith that Philemon would heed his requests and even exceed his desires. He expected to be released from prison soon and asked that a room be prepared for him so he could visit after his release.

After having concluded his requests, Paul passed on greetings from several of his fellow workers in Rome. He closed with a prayer for the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ to be with Philemon’s spirit and with those who were of his household and the church.

#chronological-bible-study

You can’t ask God to do your part for you

GERALD COWAN’S PERSONAL PERIODICALS
Number 572 • October 20, 2020

YOU CAN’T ASK GOD TO DO YOUR PART FOR YOU

God said: “If My people, which are called by My name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin, and I will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14).

Myriad professors and pretenders of Christian faith, including many preachers and self-styled evangelists, say it this way: “If we call upon the name of God and pray to Him in the name of Christ, then He will hear from heaven and will forgive our sins and heal our troubled land, our disturbed and wayward nation. He has promised, and He will do it. Will you join us and pray for God to cleanse and heal our nation and our suffering people?” Continue reading

#geraldcowan, #repentance

Stephen

Rising Joy by Vicki Matheny

But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked intently toward heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. “Look!” he said. “I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!” Acts 7.55-56

Stephen was one of seven men who were chosen for the task of seeing to the daily distribution of food for the widows who were in need. He was well-attested, full of faith, of wisdom, and of the Holy Spirit. He was performing great wonders and miraculous signs among the people. The Jews had argued with Stephen, but were unable to resist the wisdom and the Spirit with which he spoke, Acts 7.10. They instigated some men to claim that they had heard Stephen blaspheming against God. He was brought before the council.

Stephen gave his defense to the council in Acts 7. It is a brief history lesson of God’s people from Abraham to Jesus. At the end of his sermon, he charges the Jews with murdering Jesus and not obeying his words. After looking to heaven, he stated that he could see Jesus standing at God’s right hand. Reacting in fury, they took him out of the city and stoned him. He prayed for forgiveness for the Jews as they stoned him which is similar to the prayer of Jesus on the cross, Luke 23.34.

Stephen was a man that was killed because of his preaching to which others were resistant. He did not let the fury of the crowd stop him from teaching. May we be ready to follow his example.

#risingjoy #Acts #Stephen

Oct. 17. Personal Letter to Philemon

Philemon 1:1-3

Research indicates that Philemon was a very influential Christian in the area of Colossae and Laodicea with his house being a meeting place for the church. He was a close friend of Paul and was probably converted during his ministry at Ephesus.

Onesimus, one of Philemon’s slaves had run away and eventually arrived in Rome where he met Paul and was converted to Christ. Slaves were chattel property and had no civil rights, but had an obligation to faithfully serve their masters. Christianity did not abolish slavery, but it recognized Christian slaves and masters as brothers.

After his conversion, Onesimus had become a friend and helper of Paul. Even though he was of great assistance, Paul persuaded him to return to his master, Philemon.

Paul wrote the letter to Philemon to inform him of the conversion of Onesimus and to ask that he receive him back as a brother in Christ. This letter was probably written during his imprisonment in Rome about A.D. 62 at the same time Ephesians and Colossians were written and was carried by Onesimus as he returned to his master.

In his letters to the various churches, Paul felt that it was needful to begin by reminding them of his authority as an apostle. It was not necessary to repeat that to Philemon because of their close friendship. He did, however, state that he was a prisoner of Christ Jesus. Timothy who probably did the writing for him was present.

It is thought that Apphia was Philemon’s wife and that Archippus was his son. He also addressed the church in Philemon’s house as they also were interested in the welfare of Onesimus.

#chronological-bible-study