Tuesday, March 20, 2018

John's Gospel

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Luke's Gospel

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Matthews Gospel

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Mark's Gospel

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Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Philippians 4:1-23

Past notes are on my blog at https://kevinskomment.blogspot.com/search/label/Philippians
I plan to go live on Facebook at 5:00 p.m.

Prison Epistles
Joy of the Lord: The Secure Mind
Philippians 4:1-23

1. Don’t worry about anything. Worrying doesn't change anything. It’s stewing without doing. There’s no such thing as born worriers; worry is a learned response. You learned it from your parents. You learned it from your peers. You learned it from experience. That’s good news. The fact that worry is learned means it can also be unlearned. Jesus says, “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today” (Matthew 6:34 NLT).

2. Pray about everything. Use the time you've spent worrying for praying. If you prayed as much as you worried, you’d have a whole lot less to worry about. Some people think God only cares about religious things, such as how many people I invite to church or my tithing. Is God interested in car payments? Yes. He’s interested in every detail of your life. That means you can take any problem you face to God.

3. Thank God in all things. Whenever you pray, you should always pray with thanksgiving. The healthiest human emotion is not love, but gratitude. It actually increases your immunities; it makes you more resistant to stress and less susceptible to illness. People who are grateful are happy. But people who are ungrateful are miserable because nothing makes them happy. They’re never satisfied; it’s never good enough. So if you cultivate the attitude of gratitude, of being thankful in everything, it reduces stress in your life.

4. Think about the right things. If you want to reduce the level of stress in your life, you must change the way you think. The way you think determines how you feel, and the way you feel determines how you act. So if you want to change your life, you need to change what you’re thinking about.

This involves a deliberate, conscious choice where you change the channels. You choose to think about the right things: focus on the positive and on God’s Word. Why? Because the root cause of stress is the way you choose to think.

When we no longer worry, when we pray about everything, when we give thanks, when we focus on the right things, the apostle Paul tells us the result is, “The peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7 NLT).

What a guarantee! He is guaranteeing peace of mind.

Opening Questions — Get Us Thinking:
What is the best thing that happened to you this week?

Closing Appeal for Steadfastness and Unity -- Philippians 4:1-23
1Therefore, my brothers and sisters, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, dear friends!
2I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. 3Yes, and I ask you, my true companion, help these women since they have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel, along with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are in the book of life.
Final Exhortations
4Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
8Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
Thanks for Their Gifts
10I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. 11I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
14Yet it was good of you to share in my troubles. 15Moreover, as you Philippians know, in the early days of your acquaintance with the gospel, when I set out from Macedonia, not one church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving, except you only; 16for even when I was in Thessalonica, you sent me aid more than once when I was in need. 17Not that I desire your gifts; what I desire is that more be credited to your account. 18I have received full payment and have more than enough. I am amply supplied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God. 19And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.
20To our God and Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
Final Greetings
21Greet all God’s people in Christ Jesus. The brothers and sisters who are with me send greetings.22All God’s people here send you greetings, especially those who belong to Caesar’s household.
23The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.a

Research Questions — “Dig Deeper” to find God’s Will
  1. God is ... What do we learn about God?
  2. We are ... What do we learn about people?
  3. What does it mean to stand firm in the Lord? v. 1)
  4. What do we know about Euodia and Syntyche? How are these women harming the church? (vv. 2-3)
  5. What is the book of life? Where else is the book mentioned? (v. 3)
  6. What is Paul’s prescription for stress? Why should we rejoice in the Lord always? (v. 4) How does compare to philosophy and psychology?
  7. In what sense is the Lord near? (v. 5)
  8. Why is the command to not be anxious about anything so difficult? (v. 6) What is the greatest thought pollution of today?
  9. How are we to pray? (v. 6)
  10. What will the peace of God bring us? (v. 7)
  11. What are we to think about? (v. 8)
  12. What is our Father the God of peace? How would you explain it to someone who is not a Christian? (v. 9)
  13. What did the Philippian congregation do that made Paul have great joy? (v. 10)
  14. List the things Paul had learned since coming to Christ. (v. 11) What is Paul’s secret to contentment?
  15. How could Paul "be able to do all things in Christ"? (v. 13) Please explain.
  16. How did the Philippians share in Paul's distress and trouble? (v. 14)
  17. How long had the Philippians been assisting Paul? (vv. 15-16)
  18. What we Paul seeking? (v. 17)
  19. What did the Philippians send to Paul? (v. 18)
  20. What will God supply to His children? (v. 19)
  21. In light of Paul’s imprisonment for the sake of his preaching, could some “tongue in cheek” irony be intended in verse 22? (Hint: Caesar Augustus was emperor of Rome at the time.)
  22. Who were "those who belong to Caesar's household"? (v. 22)

Reflective Questions — Live it today.
  1. What are you “standing firm” in your life?
  2. Who do you disagree with in Christ’s church and what conversation needs to be had to “agree in the Lord”?
  3. On a scale of 1 to 10, what is the stress level in your life? What is your body saying to you?
  4. What are some things from this chapter and God that you need to “learn”?
  5. What outside force is most likely to upset your contentment? Since God does not always change negative outside forces, what can he change in you so that contentment is possible?
  6. I will ... What has the Holy Spirit revealed to you in this passage? How will you apply it to your life this week?
  7. You can ... Who do you know who needs to hear this?
  8. How does this equip us be a better disciple and help empower us to “make disciples”?

Contentment is not found in having everything--but in being satisfied with everything we have.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Philippians 3:1-21

Past notes are on my blog at https://kevinskomment.blogspot.com/search/label/Philippians
I plan to go live on Facebook at 5:00 p.m.

Prison Epistles
Joy of the Lord: The Spiritual Mind
Philippians 3:1-21

WHAT ARE YOU STILL CARRYING? — Two monks on a pilgrimage came to the ford of a river. There they saw a girl dressed in all her finery, obviously now knowing what to do since the river was high and she did not want to spoil her clothes. Without more ado, one of the monks took her on his back, carried her across and put her down on dry ground on the other side.
Then the monks continued on their way. But the other monk after an hour started complaining, "Surely it is not right to touch a woman; it is against the commandments to have close contact with women. How could you go against the rules for monks?"
The monk who had carried the girl walked along silently, but finally he remarked, "I set her down by the river an hour ago, why are you still carrying her?" -- Irmgard Schloegl, The Wisdom of Zen Masters
One of the hardest things we must do is to let go of something from the past. Someone does us wrong and seeks forgiveness, but we want to keep carrying the memory. Or maybe we made a mistake and we can't seem to stop beating ourselves up, despite the fact that we have done what God says to do to be forgiven. We don't want to keep carrying the memory (and the guilt), but we do. In fact, it often seems more difficult to forgive ourselves than to forgive others.
Paul said, "Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." (Phil. 3:14-15).
Paul had to forget his past achievements (as an esteemed Jewish leader). He also had to forget his past failures (which including persecuting and killing God's people).
What are you carrying today that you should have set down a long time ago?

Opening Questions — Get Us Thinking:
Where should we put our confidence?

No Confidence in the Flesh — Philippians 3:1-21
1Further, my brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord! It is no trouble for me to write the same things to you again, and it is a safeguard for you. 2Watch out for those dogs, those evildoers, those mutilators of the flesh.3For it is we who are the circumcision, we who serve God by his Spirit, who boast in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh— 4though I myself have reasons for such confidence.
If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; 6as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless.
7But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ 9and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith ina Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. 10I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.
12Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
Following Paul’s Example
15All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. 16Only let us live up to what we have already attained.
17Join together in following my example, brothers and sisters, and just as you have us as a model, keep your eyes on those who live as we do. 18For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things. 20But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.

Research Questions — “Dig Deeper” to find God’s Will
1. God is ... What do we learn about God?
2. We are ... What do we learn about people?
3. How does one rejoice in the Lord? (v. 1)
4. Why is Paul so concerned about the influence of the "dogs" on this Christian community? (v. 2)
5. If this problem with those promoting circumcision had gone unchallenged, how would this have hurt the Gospel? (v. 2)
6. Why should we not rely on the flesh? (v. 4)
7. List the qualities that Paul could have boasted in: (vv. 4-6)
8. How did Paul now view all of the things listed in question four? (vv. 7-8) Paul lived a "good" life before he became a Christian. Was he trying to put down his religious background?
9. How did Paul want to be found in Christ? (v. 9)
10. How can we know Christ and "experience the power of His resurrection"? (v. 10)
11. How can we share in the sufferings of Christ? (v. 10)
12. For what did Paul strive? (v. 11)
13. Using the imagery of a track race, where does Paul picture himself in his spiritual fife? What prize is he after? How is he going to reach it? (v. 12)
14. What did Paul want to forget? Explain (v. 13)
15. What is the "prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus"? (v. 14)
16. From what Paul says in this passage (particularly the second half), what do you think is going on in this Christian community? What makes a Christian perfect?
17. How can we all live up to the standard?
18. What are we to be imitators of? (v. 17) What is the example mentioned?
19. Who are the enemies of the cross of Christ? (v. 18)
20. Where is our citizenship? Explain what this means. (v. 20) What should characterize the "citizens of heaven"?
21. How will Christ transform these humble bodies? (v. 21)

Reflective Questions — Live it today.
1. How would you compare your upbringing to Paul's? Your passion for Christ to Paul's?
2. Do you need to walk away from something in your past keeping you from becoming new in Christ?
3. If you had to compare your life in Christ right now to a track race, where would you be: Sitting on the sidelines? Warming up? At the starting blocks? Giving it your all?
4. What are you passionate about? Are you more likely to strive for excellence in your secular life or your spiritual life?
5. How would you finish the sentence in verse 13: "But one thing I do..."
6. I will ... What has the Holy Spirit revealed to you in this passage? How will you apply it to your life this week?
7. You can ... Who do you know who needs to hear this?
8. How does this equip us be a better disciple and help empower us to “make disciples”?

Sometimes we have to let go of the past in order to enjoy the present, and be able to dream of the future.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Philippians 2:1-30

Past notes are on my blog at https://kevinskomment.blogspot.com/search/label/Philippians
I plan to go live on Facebook at 5:00 p.m.

Prison Epistles
Joy of the Lord: The Single Mind
Philippians 2:1-30

HUMILITY — Here are a couple of examples of "computer illiteracy":
Customer with modem, without a computer:
"OH!! You mean I need a modem AND a computer to get on the Internet?!"
This guy calls in to complain that he gets an "Access Denied" message every time he logs in. It turned out he was typing his user name and password in capital letters.
Tech Support: "OK, let's try once more, but use lower case letters." Customer: "Uh, I only have capital letters on my keyboard."
Have you ever known someone who could only use "capital letters" because there were no "lower case letters" in their heart (I'm speaking spiritually here)? It is significant to me that the one known as LORD GOD and I AM knew how to use the lower case letters, to the point of washing the dirty feet of his followers. No, further than that, Jesus was willing to give up his life to offer each us life. He was the ultimate example of humility and selflessness.
"Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross." (Philippians 2:3-8).
Have a great day (in service to others)!

Opening Questions — Get Us Thinking:
Submission — how do you feel about it?

Imitating Christ’s Humility — Philippians 2:1-30
1Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion,2then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.3Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves,4not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
5In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
6Who, being in very naturea,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
7rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very natureba servant,
being made in human likeness.
8And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
9Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
10that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
Do Everything Without Grumbling
12Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling,13for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.
14Do everything without grumbling or arguing,15so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.”cyou will shine among them like stars in the sky16as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain.17But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you.18So you too should be glad and rejoice with me.
Timothy and Epaphroditus
19I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, that I also may be cheered when I receive news about you.20I have no one else like him, who will show genuine concern for your welfare.21For everyone looks out for their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ.22But you know that Timothy has proved himself, because as a son with his father he has served with me in the work of the gospel.23I hope, therefore, to send him as soon as I see how things go with me.24And I am confident in the Lord that I myself will come soon.
25But I think it is necessary to send back to you Epaphroditus, my brother, co-worker and fellow soldier, who is also your messenger, whom you sent to take care of my needs.26For he longs for all of you and is distressed because you heard he was ill.27Indeed he was ill, and almost died. But God had mercy on him, and not on him only but also on me, to spare me sorrow upon sorrow.28Therefore I am all the more eager to send him, so that when you see him again you may be glad and I may have less anxiety.29So then, welcome him in the Lord with great joy, and honor people like him,30because he almost died for the work of Christ. He risked his life to make up for the help you yourselves could not give me.

Research Questions — “Dig Deeper” to find God’s Will
  1. God is ... What do we learn about God?
  2. We are ... What do we learn about people?
  3. Reading between the lines, with what challenge did the church in Philippi struggle?
  4. What does it mean to consider someone "better than yourself" (v. 3)? How does humility differ from being a doormat?
  5. What do you think it was like for Jesus to leave heaven and become human? To take on himself all of the sin of mankind?
  6. Who does Paul sound like in this passage: Your dad? Army sergeant? Coach at half-time?
  7. What does it mean to "work out your salvation" (v. 12; see also 2:1-4)?
  8. How do Timothy and Epaphroditus illustrate 2:1-4?
  9. When you were growing up, did your father praise you the way Paul praises Timothy?
  10. Consider verses 20-22 and 30. How true is verse 21 today? How rare are people like these two men?

Reflective Questions — Live it today.
1. How does this passage challenge the Madison-Avenue advertising image of success?
2. Think about someone you admire because they truly put the interests of others ahead of their own interests. What can you do to be such a person yourself?
3. What makes God's people "shine like stars"? How brightly do you "shine" in your universe? Do you give praise easily ... or do you find this hard to do? Where do you need to improve?
4. I will ... What has the Holy Spirit revealed to you in this passage? How will you apply it to your life this week?
5. You can ... Who do you know who needs to hear this?
6. How does this equip us be a better disciple and help empower us to “make disciples”?

"When God measures men He puts the tape around the heart -- not the head!"