Life Blogs Archives - GraceAndWorks

WHAT ARE THE PRISON EPISTLES?

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Shared to you from: GotQuestions. org Home.

The prison epistles—Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon—are so named because they were written by the apostle Paul during one of his incarcerations. It is generally accepted that Paul wrote the prison epistles during his first Roman imprisonment. The exact dates he wrote each of the prison epistles is unknown, but the two-year period he spent under house arrest in Rome has been narrowed down to the years AD 60–62. Paul’s imprisonment in Rome is verified by the book of Acts, where we find references to his being guarded by soldiers (Acts 28:16), being permitted to receive visitors (Acts 28:30), and having opportunities to share the gospel (Acts 28:31). These details, along with Paul’s mention of being with “those who belong to Caesar’s household” (Philippians 4:22), support the view that Paul wrote the prison epistles from Rome. Paul’s Roman incarceration produced three great letters to the churches of Ephesus, Colosse, and Philippi, as well as a personal letter to his friend Philemon.

Three of the prison letters, also called the imprisonment or captivity letters, were bound for three of the churches he founded on his second missionary journey (Acts 20:1-3). Always concerned for the souls of those he continually prayed for in these churches, his letters reflect his pastor’s heart and his love and concern for those he thought of as his spiritual children. Colossians was written explicitly to defeat the heresy that had arisen in Colosse that endangered the existence of the church. In his letter, Paul dealt with key areas of theology, including the deity of Christ (Colossians 1:15–20; 2:2–10), the error of adding circumcision and other Jewish rituals to salvation by faith (Colossians 2:11–23), and the conduct of God’s people (chapter 3). The letter to the church at Ephesus also reflects Paul’s concerns for the beloved, especially that they would understand the great doctrines of the faith (chapters 1–3) and the practical outworkings of that doctrine in Christian behavior (chapters 4-6). The epistle to the Philippians is Paul’s most joyful letter, and references to his joy abound within its pages (Philippians 1:4, 18, 25–26; 2:2, 28; 3:1; 4:1, 4, 10). He encourages the Philippian believers to rejoice in spite of suffering and anxiety, rejoice in service, and continue to look to Christ as the object of their faith and hope.

The fourth prison letter was written to Paul’s “friend and fellow laborer,” Philemon (Philemon 1:1) as a plea for forgiveness. Philemon’s slave, Onesimus, had run away from Philemon’s service to Rome, where he met the aging apostle and became a convert to Christ through him. Paul asks Philemon to receive Onesimus back as a brother in Christ who is now “profitable” to both of them (Philemon 1:11). The theme of the book of Philemon is forgiveness and the power of the gospel of Christ to undermine the evils of slavery by changing the hearts of both masters and slaves so that spiritual equality is achieved.

While the prison epistles reflect Paul’s earthly position as a prisoner of Rome, he makes it clear that his captivity was first and foremost to Christ (Philemon 1:9; Ephesians 3:1; Colossians 4:18; Philippians 1:12–14). Paul’s time in prison was for the purpose of the spreading of the gospel in the Gentile capital of Rome. The Lord Himself told Paul to “take courage! As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome” (Acts 23:11). Paul’s time in captivity was no less profitable to us today than it was to the first-century churches he loved so well.

SMILE God Loves YOU!! Have a GREAT day all.

IT JUST DOESN’T WORK!!

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The Bible is full of stories about getting it right with what God has to say. To do things different, “It just doesn’t work.” I want to share a couple of these stories with you.

In 2nd Kings 5:9-15–Naaman had leprosy and was told to dip in the Jordon river 7 times and he would be clean. He got furious, but eventually did what he was told and became clean. He grumbled about what God had told him, just as we do sometimes, but in the end he did what he was told. If he dipped in a different river, dipped 6 times, or 8 times, “It just doesn’t work.”

In Genesis 6:8-12–Noah was told to build an Ark. God gave him precise instructions on how the Ark was to be built. Noah, through his faith, did as God had told him, just as we do sometimes. Had Noah built the Ark his own way and not done what God said, “It just doesn’t work.”

In Numbers 20:7-12–Moses was told to talk to the rock and there would be plenty of water. Moses was not happy with the people and struck the rock with a rod instead of talking to it, as God has instructed. The rock produced water, but Moses lost his right to enter the Promised Land. One mistake, not doing what God said, cost him dearly. “It just doesn’t work.”

In Genesis 19:12-26–God was ready to destroy Sodom because of the immorality that was going on. He told Lot and his wife to leave the city and not look back. Lot’s wife turned and looked back and was turned into a pillar of salt. One mistake, she didn’t do what God said, cost her her life. “It just doesn’t work.”

4 Stories–2 did what they were told and things worked out good–2 didn’t do what they were told and things turned bad. So, what about in today’s world? Are we doing what God says, or doing things our own way?

In the new Testament God has precise plans we are to use.

The plan of our Salvation is laid out for us and to do different, “It just doesn’t work.”
Romans 10:17–Hear the Word of God
John 8:24–Believe His Word
Luke 13:3–Repent of our sins
Matthew 10:32–Confess that we believe Jesus is the Son of God
Mark 16:16–Be baptized
Revelation 2:10–Remain faithful until death and receive the Crown of Life
Leave any of these steps out, “It just doesn’t work.”

Jesus established His Church in Acts on the Day of Pentecost. He gave precise instruction how to Worship Him.
1st Timothy 4:2–Preach the Word
James 5:16–Prayer
Ephesians 5:19–Addressing one another with song from the heart (No example of instruments)
Acts 20:7 and 1st Corinthians–Communion on the 1st day of the week.
1st Corinthians 16:1-2 and 2nd Corinthians 9:6-8–Giving on the 1st day of the week with what you purpose in your heart
1st John 1:3–Fellowship with one another, Jesus Christ, and the Father.
Hebrews 10:24-26–Don’t forsake Worshiping with the Saints.
Ephesians Chapter 4–There is only one Church. Christ established His Church on the day of Pentecost.
Leave any one of these out, “It just doesn’t work.”

1st Corinthians 6:9-10–These with not inherit the Kingdom of God. UNRIGHTEOUS, FORNICATORS, IDOLATORS, ADULTERERS, HOMOSEXUALS, SODOMITES, THIEVES, COVETOUS, DRUNKARDS, REVILERS, or EXTORTIONERS.

Don’t be like Lot’s wife or Moses making mistakes. If we don’t do what God says and Commands, we will not inherit the Kingdom of God. “IT DOESN’T WORK!!

SMILE God loves YOU!! Have a good day all.

 

WHERE DOES HAPPINESS COME FROM?

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We clamor for happiness. And usually happiness is dependent upon certain desires within us. A new car might make some happy. Or a new puppy. Or dress. Or house. Or mate. Or…..Happiness is a circumstantial matter. If conditions are right, we feel happy. But there is something far greater to be grasped than this.

In Philippians 4:11-13, Paul says: “He has learned that whatever state he is in he needs to be content. He knows how to be abased and he knows how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned to be both full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Paul is saying here that he knows the good times and he also knows the times when he didn’t have much. But, no matter what he was going through, he could always lean on Christ to get him through. He learned to be content with what he had, good or bad.

In 1st Timothy 6:6-12, Paul is giving instruction to Timothy (And us). He states in verse 6 that Godliness with contentment is great gain. Be a Christian and be happy with what you have!! He goes on to say we brought nothing into this world and we can take nothing out. Having food and clothing along with being a Christian we shall be content. Temptation and snares come to those who strive to have riches. These bring about foolish and harmful lusts, which will drown men in destruction. The love of money (And Things) is a root for all kinds of evil. Many will stray from their faithfulness in their greediness, and pierce themselves through with many sorrows (And Depression). He then finishes this thought with telling us to flees those things and and pursue: RIGHTEOUSNESS, GODLINESS, FAITH, LOVE, PATIENCE, and GENTLENESS.

Contentment has nothing to do with our circumstances. You see, our joy does not depend on the size of our bank account or whether your house is larger that the neighbor’s. BE CONTENT!! And thus happiness will become an ever present by-product. Our contentment comes from our relationship with God and the Faith we hold onto.

SMILE God loves YOU!! Have a good day all.

HE TOOK CONTROL!!

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This is a story about a person that has battled with alcohol for nearly 30 years. I may be a little bit all over the map with this, but I felt it needed to be told. There are those who have been in these shoes and will fully understand and there are those who will have a hard time wrapping their head around it.

Alcohol played a big roll in his life, but he never thought he had a problem….until the last few years. It had control of him even though he wouldn’t admit it. There were lost marriages. There were lost jobs. He had lost the trust of family and friends and finally had his brother to the point he wouldn’t talk to him. It wasn’t because his brother didn’t love him, it was because his brother needed to show some tough love to hopefully set urgency into the situation. It gets to the point where a person can’t wait to get home and just crawl up with a friend (Bottle of alcohol). I look at the situation as he was a “Functioning” alcoholic. Go to work, get home and start the drinking and get up the next morning feeling horrible and stumble off to work. It becomes a vicious cycle!! Most will say that a person has to hit rock bottom before they can begin the trip out of the deep dark dungeon. But what is rock bottom? It is different for different people. Some have to lose everything….the family, the home they have, the jobs, and all their money. For some it won’t go that far before they seek help. Some never  seek the help and drink themselves to death.

Well, this story has a REALLY happy ending. He has gotten the help he needed and has reached a milestone. He is 1 year sober!! His Mom and Dad flew in and his Brother and his wife flew in for a celebration and the presentation of his 1 year medal. The first time he and his brother had spoken for about a year. The love was still there. The forgiveness was there. He had to feel so good to have his family back. Then………..after he was presented the medal, he gave it to his brother. To me this was an act of love and compassion and a thank you for the tough love. A tremendous way of showing the appreciation and love for his brother. If you’ve never been in these shoes, it will be hard to wrap your head around what really transpired. He is finally up out of the dungeon and climbing up the mountain. He has finally got control over his life instead of the alcohol controlling him. I’ve been in these shoes. Not as far down as he was, but I can appreciate where he is now and what the giving of that medal means to him. CONGRATS on your 1 year of sobriety and many more years to come!!

SMILE God loves YOU!!

DEPRESSION IS HORRIBLE!!

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Most of us have probably, at one time or another, have had to deal with depression. We maybe didn’t even know we were depressed. It’s almost impossible to deal with it on your own. The following may shed some light:

Depression is a widespread condition, affecting millions of people, Christians and non-Christians alike. Those suffering from depression can experience intense feelings of sadness, anger, hopelessness, fatigue, and a variety of other symptoms. They may begin to feel useless and even suicidal, losing interest in things and people that they once enjoyed. Depression is often triggered by life circumstances, such as a loss of job, death of a loved one, divorce, or psychological problems such as abuse or low self-esteem.

The Bible tells us to be filled with joy and praise (Philippians 4:4; Romans 15:11), so God apparently intends for us all to live joyful lives. This is not easy for someone suffering from situational depression, but it can be remedied through God’s gifts of prayer, Bible study and application, support groups, fellowship among believers, confession, forgiveness, and counseling. We must make the conscious effort to not be absorbed in ourselves, but to turn our efforts outward. Feelings of depression can often be solved when those suffering with depression move the focus from themselves to Christ and others.

Clinical depression is a physical condition that must be diagnosed by a physician. It may not be caused by unfortunate life circumstances, nor can the symptoms be alleviated by one’s own will. Clinical depression is not always caused by sin. Depression can sometimes be caused by a physical disorder that needs to be treated with medication and/or counseling. Of course, God is able to cure any disease or disorder. However, in some cases, seeing a doctor for depression is no different than seeing a doctor for an injury.

There are some things that those who suffer from depression can do to alleviate their anxiety. They should make sure that they are staying in the Word, even when they do not feel like it. Emotions can lead us astray, but God’s Word stands firm and unchanging. We must maintain strong faith in God and hold even more tightly to Him when we undergo trials and temptations. The Bible tells us that God will never allow temptations into our lives that are too much for us to handle (1 Corinthians 10:13). Although being depressed is not a sin, one is still accountable for the response to the affliction, including getting the professional help that is needed. “Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that confess his name” (Hebrews 13:15).

Depression is REAL and it is HORRIBLE!! If you are suffering from it, GET HELP!!

SMILE God loves YOU!! Have a good day all.

THE “2020” VISION…….

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20/20 is know as having a perfect vision. In this blog I want to take a look at what we would call “A Perfect World”. Maybe it is more wishing than an actual happening. I have a Perfect Vision”.

Everyone would come to Jesus and be obedient. They would attend all Worship Services, all Bible classes, accept Jesus as the Son of God and be Baptized, be loving towards ALL fellowman, be kind and courteous, help those that are needy, not be judgemental, repent of sins, open their Bibles and study everyday, be diligent in the Lord’s work, and stand steadfast in what they learn and have been taught.

All families would care for one another, love one another, communicate, no arguing, help where help is needed, and just be there for one another.

All government officials would be elected by a unanimous vote with the best person being elected, no agenda except what is best for the people they represent, no taking money “Under the table”, no arguing or bickering, the American people would all be happy, everyone is employed, no debt–all bills paid each month, health costs are affordable and you would know the costs before any tests or procedures are done, no wars, no needless deaths, and no criminal acts.

A wish list–maybe. A utopian society–maybe. Wild dreams–maybe. Things to strive for–absolutely!!

God has laid out, in His written living word, a Utopian society. If we would do what He says and stay obedient to what He has laid out, the above mentioned statements could and would become real. Think about that!!

HAPPY NEW YEAR ALL!! SMILE God loves YOU!!

 

I WANT THAT!!

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“Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in him. For everything in the world–the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life–comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.” 1st John 2:15-17  Just what is the “Lust Of The Eyes”?

Simply put, the lust of the eyes is the want or desire to gain what we see or to have those things which have a visual liking or appeal to us. The desire for money, possessions, or other material things is not from God, but from the influence of the world around us. This passage, in 1st John, states that material things don’t last, they will pass away. Whereas the child of God is guaranteed eternity.

In Exodus 20:17 covetousness (“Lust Of The Eyes”) is addressed in the 10 Commandments. You shall not covet: 1) Your neighbors house 2) Your neighbors wife 3) his male servant 4) his female servant 5) his ox 6) his donkey 7) Or anything that is your neighbor’s. Coveting includes the desires to have people , possessions, money, and/or status.

In Genesis 3:6, Satan uses the lust of the eyes to temp Eve. It says she looked at the forbidden fruit and saw it was “pleasing to the eye”. In Matthew 4:8 Satan used a similar tactic on Jesus when he “showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their greatness”. He then promised to give them to Jesus–for a price. Jesus did not give in to the lust of the eyes, and Satan was defeated.

We must resist the “Lust Of The Eyes”. The world is full of good looking “Stuff”. Materialism comes at us with a promise of being happy and contented. Society is bombbarded with advertising that might as well say, “Covet This!!”

It’s been said that “All That Glitters Is Not Gold”, and a Christian knows that fame and fortune quickly fade away. Let’s not focus on the newest product or the latest fashion, but let us keep our focus on knowing Christ and the Power Of His Resurrection, keeping fellowship with those of like minds.

EYES SET ON JESUS so OUR VIEW IS ETERNITY!!

SMILE God loves YOU!! Have a good day all.

LOST YOUR JOB? NOW WHAT?

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Throughout life jobs will usually come and go. Sometimes we get that  one job and make a career out of it. Then we get that one job that we really like and all of a sudden it’s gone. The company downsized, they just did away with your position, or they let you go. Sometimes there is a reason and sometimes not. They say they are going in a different direction. REALLY? What does that mean? How do you deal with it? Throughout my life I have lost 4 different positions. One was devastating!! All was going well, I thought, then one day the owner walked in and said, “pack your stuff, you’re done.” No reason–just done!! It was a great job and paid well. I thought, now what? I can tell you this, nothing was ever the same!! I never enjoyed the happiness in the work place that I had running the 10 man sales crew I had built and having my daughter working side by side with me. The company was very successful and I couldn’t figure out, WHY was I let go. I said all the things, “I’ve been let go from better jobs that this (Lie), I was looking for a job when I found this one, they can’t fire me, I quit.” I laughed with my “Friends”, but inside I was torn apart. NOBODY knew how bad I felt, until now. I dealt with depression on my own. I felt like I was on an island by myself and I was going to have to figure this out by myself. Yeah, my family was there for me, but they would never fully understand what I was going through, or completely went through. To this day it still bothers me. We say, “All is good, life goes on, I’ll bounce back, I can handle this”, but deep down you know these are falsehoods.

The only real answer is God. I got more involved with the Church, talked to God more, and leaned on the scriptures to see what God was saying to me. I taught more classes, preached more sermons, and now I have this blog site. Much of my teaching and preaching is built around life experience. I try to relate things to people that might be struggling to make “Life” work. It has helped me, and from comments I get, it has helped others. For those of you that are struggling, let God help you work things out. Will everything be normal or back like they were? Probably not. But you find a new path and “Life” goes on.

SMILE God loves YOU!! Have a good day all.

AS A CHURCH, CAN WE DREAM A LITTLE?

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The Church was established on the Day of Pentecost. The Christians spread across the nation and the early focus was all about fellowship. Everyone on the same page with their Christianity, getting along, and fellowshiping one with the other. Their focus was on the resurrection of Jesus, the Holy Spirit working inside them, the devotion to teaching and preaching God’s Word, and following the example Jesus set before us. Now let us dream a little about the future of the Churches of Christ.

A future where foster care shortages no longer exist because Christians take in all the children in need of care. (Sounds like the early Church)

A future in which churches don’t sell their buildings and move to the suburbs, but stay in the struggling communities that need Jesus. (Sounds like the early Church)

A future in which congregations recognize different nationalities and age groups. (Sounds like the early Church)

A future in which orphans and widows see the Church of Christ in any town as a place where they can turn for love, support, peace, and safety. (Sounds like the early Church)

I know that these are just dreams. Or are they? It seems to me that we are in an age where we need to study what the early Church was all about and what it stood for. We as Christians need to be steadfast in our fellowship and care on one another.

SMILE God loves YOU!! Have a good day all.

 

THERE IS ONLY ONE SOLID ROCK!!

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We have desert landscaping in our yard and I was looking at all the rocks. They are different sizes and shapes and it got me to thinking about “Rocks.” Rocks make up sand, pebbles, boulders, and mountains. They lay in the yard, on the sidewalk, out in the street, on the highway, and make up beautiful scenery in the way of mountains. We can step on them (Ouch), throw them, kick them, build sidewalks, streets, highways, and buildings, view them in mountainous landscapes, and sometimes have them break windshields and windows. They come in a multitude of different colors. We, often times, refer to precious stones , as rocks. They have a variance of different sizes, shapes, and colors just as the standard rock. There are a multitude of problems with rocks, however. They can erode away, be moved, reshaped by human hands, cause destruction, lose their luster, and their color. By now you all probably think I have “Rocks” in my head. Maybe so…….

There is, however, one rock that is unmovable, doesn’t cause destruction, won’t lose it’s luster or color, won’t erode away, can’t be reshaped by human hands, and never changes shape or size. That “Rock” is JESUS!!

2nd Samuel 22:2-4

“The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; The God of my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold and my refuge; My Savior, You save me from violence. I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised; So I shall be saved from my enemies.” Thank you Jesus for always being there and being the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.