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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Oct. 17. Personal Letter to Philemon

Philemon 1:1-3

Research indicates that Philemon was a very influential Christian in the area of Colosse 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.

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Oct. 16. Prayer and Christian Living Emphasized as Paul Closed Colossian Letter

Col. 4:2-18

Next to salvation, the ability to pray is probably the greatest blessing that Christians receive from God. It may also be one of the most misused privileges.

Paul instructed the Colossians to continue in prayer—not just as an emergency tool during times of trouble, but as a constant open door of communication with God. He especially urged them to be thankful and to pray that doors of opportunity to preach the gospel would be opened for him. (Major points needed in today’s prayers.)

Christian influence is a key to opening many doors of opportunity into the hearts of sinful man. Paul reminded the Colossians that they were being observed by those who were outside the church and that they should conduct themselves accordingly.

As Paul concluded his epistle to the Colossian church, he sent greetings from those who were working with him. One of those was Mark, the cousin of Barnabas. Note that whatever problems Paul had with Mark that caused the dissension between himself and Barnabas in Antioch at the beginning of his second missionary journey several years earlier have been resolved and that Mark and Paul are working together in Rome.

Paul instructed the Colossians to allow the church at Laodicea to read this letter after they had read it; then read the letter from Laodicea. It is thought that the “epistle from Laodicea” was a copy of the letter to the Ephesians that Paul wanted to be shared among the churches of that region. In closing, Paul again requested the prayers of the Colossians.

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Oct. 15. Put Away old Sinful Life; Put on new

Col. 3:1-4:1

Paul reasoned that if one had died with Christ and had been raised with Him, his affections must be on the things that are above with Him and not with the earthly things of his past life as a sinner. Sins such as fornication, uncleanness, covetousness, lying, malice filthy language and others that he mentioned are to be buried with the old man.

In Christ there is no distinction between nationalities, races, genders or social classes. They all are the elect of God. All become one in Him and the elect of God upon their obedience to His commands.

The new man, the newly resurrected Christian is to put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness and longsuffering. As Paul had stressed earlier, Christians cannot expect to be forgiven by God unless they are willing to forgive one another. With love in his heart, one will possess these characteristics and enjoy the peace of God in the body of Christ in this life and later receive his reward in heaven.

Paul made the same admonition to the Colossians about singing that he had made to the Ephesians. Singing is a direct act of worship to God and a major teaching tool to edify one another. Christians must allow the word of God or the Spirit to fill the heart as they teach and admonish others in song.

There is no mention of a mechanical instrument of music connected with singing. Everyone is admonished to sing. If an instrument were intended, that same admonition would also require each person to play an instrument. Additionally, if the Lord had wanted one’s singing to be accompanied with mechanical music, he would have surely made that known in His word.

The sound of mechanical instruments overpowers the vocal expressions of singing making it difficult to fully understand the words being expressed in the songs. There is a danger that one will focus his attention upon the musical performance instead of the words being sung intended for his admonition. All that Christians do in worship must be done in the name of the Lord Jesus or by His authority. Therefore, man must not usurp the wisdom of God by adding sounds that He did not authorize!

Paul also repeated his instructions for wives to submit to their own husbands. This submission is to be in love and respect for the responsibilities husbands have, not as masters, but as the heads or leaders of the family. She, however is not to allow her husband to lead her to disobey God.

Husbands were also commanded to love their wives. They are to protect their wives to the extent of dying for them. Husbands must not mistake their leadership role as an excuse to be a ruler or tyrant.

Children were instructed to obey their parents in all things. That includes unpleasant chores as well as those things that are enjoyable. A child is relieved from that responsibility if his parents try to influence him to disobey God.

Fathers are to relate to their children in a way that will encourage them to be obedient to their parents and to God. Harsh and constant criticism hinders the mental and spiritual development of tender minds. The father who constantly finds fault may eventually cause his child to give up in despair.

As he stated to the Ephesians, Paul also urged the Colossian slaves to obey and respect their masters. Servants, whether they are slaves or hired are required to give an honest service before God.

Just as slaves were required to serve their masters, the masters were to treat their slaves with fairness and dignity. Paul reminded them that they have a Father in heaven who would treat them with the same severity or love that they administered to their slaves.

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Oct. 14. Be Alert for False Doctrine

Col. 2:1-23

Even though Paul had never preached directly to the Colossians, he was deeply concerned about them and the church at Laodicea only a short distance away. He warned them to be alert for those who would attempt to deceive them with false doctrine.

Paul knew through the reports from Epaphras that the Colossians had received and obeyed the proper doctrine from the beginning. He urged them to continue to allow their roots to penetrate that firm foundation of faith.

Judaizing teachers were trying to persuade the Colossians to follow their traditions instead of obeying Christ. They were being pressured to submit to circumcision, to avoid certain foods and drink and to observe special days.

Paul assured the Colossians that they had indeed been circumcised, but that their circumcision was of the heart and not the ceremonial removal of a piece of skin. They had received this circumcision as God had cut off their whole body of sin at the time they were buried with Christ in baptism. Just as He was raised from the dead, they had been raised with Him in baptism. Baptism means nothing however, unless it is accompanied by a genuine faith in a risen Christ. Christians are complete in Christ.

The old law was contrary to man in that it condemned, but could not save. It was necessary for the blood of Christ to wash away all sins. These handwritten ordinances had been nailed to the cross with Christ at His death.

There are those today who still contend that we must keep the Ten Commandments. They were superseded when the old law was nailed to the cross. Some of the old laws were re-enacted in the New Testament and are to be observed—not because of the old law, but because they are now a part of the new law.

Paul warned the Colossians about those who would take upon themselves a false humility of practicing things that were not authorized by Christ, even starvation and self-mutilation. There were those who advocated the worship of angels or going through angels to reach God—totally unauthorized.

The apostle Paul had previously explained the superiority of Christ and the importance of worshipping Him only. He is the Head of the body, the church. As the members of the physical body are dependent upon the head for physical life, the spiritual body is dependent upon Christ for spiritual life.

If the Colossians had died with Christ to the ordinances of the Law of Moses and the traditions of men, Paul asked them why they would still subject themselves to regulations prohibiting touching, tasting and handling certain foods, drinks or even people. These were manmade requirements and not authorized by God.

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Oct. 13. Paul’s Letter to the Colossians

Col. 1:1-29

Colosse was a city of Phrygia located about one hundred miles east of Ephesus. It was near Laodicea and Hierapolis originally on a trade route between Ephesus and the Euphrates River Valley. As those nearby cities increased in importance, Colosse decreased.

It is thought that Epaphras was mainly responsible for establishing the Colossian church as well as churches in Laodicea and Hierapolis. Evidently Epaphras had reported to Paul that members of the Colossian church were teaching some of the old Jewish and pagan doctrines. They denied that Christ was supreme and taught the worship of angels.

This letter was probably written from Rome about A.D. 62 at the same time as Ephesians and Philemon were written and was delivered by Tychicus and Onesimus. Its purpose was to make the supremacy of Christ in the church clear to the Colossians.

Paul began the Colossian letter in his usual style. He established his identity and authority as an apostle of Jesus Christ and acknowledged the presence of Timothy with him in Rome. It was also his practice to greet the recipients of his writings with thanksgiving and praise for their faith and love. He was a prayerful man and informed the Colossians that they were constantly in his prayers to God.

As he continued his salutation, Paul reminded the Colossians of the heavenly reward that is waiting for them and all faithful Christians. Through their obedience to the things taught to them by Epaphras, they were growing and bearing the same fruits of the Spirit that had been showered upon them. They were described as saints of the light, having been delivered from the power of darkness and transferred to the kingdom of Christ.

Those who are expecting Christ’s kingdom to be established in the future should note that the Colossians were already being added to that kingdom. It is the church of Christ and was established on the first Pentecost after His death.

Christians are still humans subject to temptations and enticing words of false teachers. Paul turned his attention to the report of Epaphras regarding errors that were being taught to the Colossians at that time. He began by explaining the eternal presence of Christ with God and that man’s redemption, the forgiveness of sins is through His blood.

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Oct. 12. Call for Christian Strength

Eph. 6:10-24

Paul concluded his letter with a call for Christian strength. The Christian life is often referred to as a war. In warfare, the soldier must be strong offensively and defensively.

Christians are in a spiritual war against the forces of Satan. Paul urged the Ephesians to be wholly prepared to defend themselves by putting on the complete spiritual armor of God—not just part of it or by using some man-made parts. He listed those items (girdle of truth, breastplate of righteousness, shoes of preparation of gospel of peace, shield of faith, helmet of salvation and sword of the Spirit) that when properly fitted into one’s life will assure victory against the spiritual enemy.

The sword of the Spirit, the word of God is the Christian’s multipurpose weapon. With it, he is able to teach and convert members of Satan’s army. The word of God as a sword also helps God’s people defend themselves against the false teaching and oppression of the enemy. “It is written…”

Prayer gives one the strength and courage to face the enemy and to speak boldly in spiritual combat. Paul urged the Ephesians to use prayer not only for themselves, but for him also as he was confined in Roman chains.

There were other items of news and greetings that Paul wanted to share with the Ephesians, but he was expecting Tychicus to inform them of those things when he delivered this letter. Tychicus was a faithful friend and companion of Paul’s who was of great use to him in his work.

As in other letters, Paul closed the Ephesian letter by praying for peace, love, faith and grace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ to be upon them.

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Oct. 11. Relationships Between Children/Parents; Slaves/Masters

Eph. 6:1-9

The relationship between children and parents presents a great responsibility to each. When parents bring a child into the world, they become responsible to feed, clothe and train that child up “in the way he should go.” It is the child’s duty to respect and honor his parents and to obey their admonitions as long as they do not conflict with the word of God. As in all things, one must obey God rather than men. When parents fail to teach their children and children refuse to honor and obey their parents, they sin against God, themselves and one another.

Many slaves and masters became Christians. This changed their relationship from master/slave to that of brothers in Christ. Paul recognized this new relationship and admonished the slaves to be obedient to their masters and to give an honest effort from the heart.

The masters were to realize that God as their Master required them to respect the humanity of their slaves and to treat them with respect and compassion. There is no respect with God. The faithful slave will receive the same reward in heaven as the faithful master. This same principle applies to the workplace today. Employees must give an honest day’s work for a day’s pay. Loafing on the job is stealing. Employers or supervisors must treat those working under them with human respect and dignity. God is watching all.

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Oct. 10. Church and Marriage Relationship Compared

Eph. 5:22-33

Paul pointed out that the Christian life is a life of loving submission to God and to one another. He continued by relating the responsibilities of submission among various groups.

The church is the only institution on earth greater than marriage. Paul compared the relationship between Christ and the church with the relationship between husband and wife.

As the husband leads the family as its head, the wife is to submit to him with love and respect. Just as all Christians are one in the body of Christ, the husband and wife are one flesh in marriage. The husband must love his wife as his own body—even to the point of dying for her. Likewise, Christ as head of His church gave His life to save the church, so it must submit to His authority.

Paul did not command wives to blindly obey their husbands, nor did he give license to husbands to be unreasonable with their wives. Marriage is a partnership and husbands and wives must mutually love and respect one another in this sacred relationship. The wishes of the husband should be a law to the wife and the wishes of the wife should be a law to the husband. Neither wife nor husband is to follow the other to disobey God.

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Oct. 9. Singing in the Early Church Described

Eph. 5:17-21

As he continued to admonish the Ephesians, Paul warned them about the evils of strong drink. Instead of filling one’s body with wine, which destroys the body, mind and spirit, he encouraged them to fill their hearts with the Spirit; that is to have the word of God dwelling within the heart.

One of the ways Christians’ hearts filled with the Spirit express themselves is in singing, “Speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord…”

Many honest people have added mechanical instrumental music into their worship services. The following article explains music in the early church very well.

“The Holy Spirit, in guiding the apostle Paul into the writing of Ephesians 5:19 certainly knew what the word, ‘psalm’ meant. If that word would bring to the Jewish mind psalms sung with instruments, He took care of it by defining the instrument! Notice what the text says, ‘making melody with heart.’ This phrase in Greek is ‘psallontes tee kardias.’ You see, that names the instrument. ‘Psallontes’ is from the Greek ‘psallo,’ and ‘karddias’ means the heart. So, when we sing, we ‘pluck the heart strings.’ This is another way of saying what Jesus said in John 4:24, ‘Worship in spirit and in truth.’ In other words, as we sing psalms, we put our hearts into it. There is just no authorization—in this Scripture or in any other—to use instruments of music in the worship of God under the New Testament.

“It is interesting that, with more than a hundred different versions of the Bible in the English language, not one of them translates Eph. 5:19 to include instruments of music. Not one! History tells us that instruments of music were not used in Christian worship for more than 600 years after Christ died. And then it caused great turmoil and was not generally accepted for another 400 years! And maybe the strongest argument of all with regard to ‘psallo’ and ‘psalmois’ is the fact that the Greek Church has never used instruments in their worship, and still do not. If any group knows the Greek language, they do!

“The truth of the matter is simple: there is just no authority for the church of the New Testament to use instruments of music in worship, for the Bible does not authorize it. Why can’t we learn to be satisfied with doing what the Lord wants? He defines our worship. Let us, then, in faithful submission, worship as He directs us.”—Clem Thurman, Gospel Minutes, Sep. 3, 2004

As Christians sing, they teach and admonish one another and give praise and thanks to God through the words of the songs. As much as I may enjoy listening to a musical instrument, it teaches me nothing.

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Oct. 8. Christian Life is a new Life

Eph. 4:17-5:16

Since the Ephesians had become one with the Jews in Christ and were separated from the unconverted Gentiles, Paul urged them to refrain from returning to their former ways of life. As converted Gentiles, they were to refrain from lying, lusts, corrupt speech, dishonesty, greed and other sins. Even though anger is not sinful, one must be alert to the sins that are produced by anger and quickly bring it under control.

When man sins, he grieves the Holy Spirit by violating the commands of God given through inspiration by the Holy Spirit.

Paul instructed the Ephesians to have the same attitude of love, kindness and forgiveness toward one another that God in Christ had when He forgave them. If one is unwilling to forgive another, he cannot expect God to forgive him.

Christ sat the supreme example of love when he died on the cross for the forgiveness of man’s sins. Christians must also forgive one another in love.

Paul listed several sins that will prevent one from entering heaven. However, because of God’s love, repentance of those sins will bring forgiveness. He reminded them that they had previously been guilty of those things, but they had become lights instead of darkness. It was their responsibility to continue to walk as children of light to show the way for others to become Christians and to insure their own salvation. The things that Paul wrote to the Ephesians apply to Christians today.

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Oct. 7. Ephesians Urged to Remain United

Eph. 4:1-16

Jesus prayed just before His captors took Him in the Garden of Gethsemane that His disciples would be united as one. Since Jews and Gentiles had been united in the church, Paul issued the same plea for the Ephesians to maintain that unity. As Christians, they were to forget the bitterness and traditions that had divided them in the past and press forward with lowliness, gentleness and patience in love as children of God. He stressed that there is one body, Spirit, hope, Lord, faith, baptism and God.

The one body is Christ’s church. He promised to build only one church. Today, when one through faith obeys that same gospel, he becomes a member of that same body. Groups of people, regardless of the name that they are wearing who are teaching anything contrary to that which is found in the Scriptures are dividers or denominators. Denominations, as the word implies divide the body of Christ and have no place in God’s plan.

There is but one Spirit to give life and guidance to that body. As with the physical body, the Spiritual body cannot survive if it is divided. Christians are fed by the word of God that was inspired by that same Holy Spirit.

Eternal life is the one hope or desire expected by children of God as an eternal reward in heaven for a faithful life in Christ. This hope gives Christians strength in the face of persecutions.

The one Lord is the Lord Jesus Christ, who was born of the virgin, Mary. He lived among men and died a cruel and shameful death on the cross for all mankind. After being buried in a borrowed tomb, He was resurrected from the dead, ascended into heaven and is now exalted at the right hand of God. Paul informed the Gentiles that this same Lord is Lord of the Gentiles as well as the Jews.

Faith that is regulated by and conformed to the word of God is the only one faith that will lead to salvation. This faith comes only by hearing God as one studies the Scriptures.

Paul wrote of one baptism. Careful study will inform one that this baptism is the burial of a penitent sinner in water after he has died to his sins. These sins are washed away (forgiven) by the blood of Christ in baptism. He is then raised out of the watery grave as Christ was raised from the tomb. As Christ lives a new spiritual life with God, a newly risen Christian also lives a new spiritual life.

Even though people believed in and worshipped many different false gods, Paul stressed the fact that there is only one true God and Father. This one God, our creator demands total allegiance and total unity among His people.

Paul explained that it was through God’s grace that Jesus descended to earth and led captivity captive (bound and overcame death) when He was resurrected from the grave. As He was resurrected, man will also rise from the dead. Christ ascended back into heaven. In like manner His faithful children will ascend at the judgment.

In order to prepare man for that glorious resurrection, various men were given special responsibilities as gifts. They, through divine guidance from the Holy Spirit provided the instructions and teaching necessary to establish and guide the early church. Since these men have all passed from the earth, man receives instructions and teaching today through studying the Scriptures that the inspired writers left. By following those instructions, the body, the church with Christ as its head grows and matures into a strong spiritual body.

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