Free Bible Commentary

Free Bible Commentary

Displaying 501 - 550 of 947

Page 1 2 3 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19


Ephesians 4:7-13

Monday, August 27, 2018
 
“But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ's gift. Therefore it says, ‘WHEN HE ASCENDED ON HIGH, HE LED CAPTIVE A HOST OF CAPTIVES, AND HE GAVE GIFTS TO MEN.’ (Now this expression, "He ascended," what does it mean except that He also had descended into the lower parts of the earth? He who descended is Himself also He who ascended far above all the heavens, so that He might fill all things.) And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.”
 
--- End of Scripture verses---
 
Christ “descended into the lower parts of the earth” (verse 9) in order to consort with and teach the Gospel to sinners and malefactors, and suffer and die for their sins. After He died for the sins of the whole world, He arose from the grave and “ascended far above all the heavens, so that He might fill all things” (verse 10). He arose back to the highest height so that He might provide all the gifts and blessings that we could ever need as head of His church.
 
While it is true that “He gave gifts to men,” the gifts were not given only for the benefit of the individual men who possessed them. These human gifts were predetermined and planned by the Lord from before the beginning of time, and provided to the church, “for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.” (verses 12-13)
 
Jesus gave the church certain “functionaries” for its “equipping” and its “building up” and its “unity” and “maturity”. He gave “apostles, and…prophets” to the church. And even though there are none of these “inspired spokespersons” alive among us today, nor have there been for the past 1900 years or so, they still bless and guide and teach us the truth today. They do that through the written word that the Holy Spirit inspired through them and that God compiled into the collection of books that we call the Bible.
 
Jesus also gave the church “evangelists” (preachers), “pastors” (elders or bishops) and “teachers” that still actively and personally serve the Lord’s collective on earth, and they always will as long as there are people and local churches of Christ to serve. All of these five “gifts” are given for the purpose of teaching and upholding and leading by the inspired revelation of the mind of God. And nothing, but nothing, is more important to the soundness of a congregation and the spiritual health and eternal salvation of each individual child of God.
 
Let's be grateful to our God for the greatest gifts that have been showered upon us by our Lord and Savior in heaven. And let’s appreciate the men who serve in the position of elders and preachers, and the men and women who serve as teachers of the truth.
 
Please read Ephesians 4:14-17 for tomorrow.
 
Have a blessed day!
 
- Louie Taylor

Ephesians 4:7-13

Sunday, August 26, 2018

“But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ's gift. Therefore it says, ‘WHEN HE ASCENDED ON HIGH, HE LED CAPTIVE A HOST OF CAPTIVES, AND HE GAVE GIFTS TO MEN.’ (Now this expression, "He ascended," what does it mean except that He also had descended into the lower parts of the earth? He who descended is Himself also He who ascended far above all the heavens, so that He might fill all things.) And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.”

--- End of Scripture verses---

Since God has given “to each one of us grace” (verse 7), we must do our part to “preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (verse 3). God has given each individual Christian the full “measure” of “Christ’s gift” of saving grace and eternal salvation. Each and every member of a local church of Christ is responsible to contribute to the peace and unity of their spiritual family. No one is left out. No one is unimportant. No one is exempt from this responsibility. What Christ did for one, He did for all, and each of us must be grateful and responsible.

When Jesus arose from the grave, and “ascended on high” (verse 8) to the right hand of the Father in heaven, “He led captive a host of captives” (Psalm 68:18). This speaks to the victory that Christ secured over Satan and his forces of evil when He tasted death, but then defeated it, and ascended “far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named” (Ephesians 1:21). Paul wrote in Colossians 2:15, “When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him.”

Christ reigned and reigns triumphant over all His physical and spiritual creation, and to the Victor go the spoils. That is really the subject matter of Psalm 68 that Paul quotes in today’s verses. King David sings the praises of the Lord who returns to His people in total and complete triumph over His enemies. In this victory psalm, verse 18 actually reads, “You have ascended on high, You have led captive Your captives; You have received gifts among men, even among the rebellious also, that the LORD God may dwell there.” The Lord “received gifts” but He did not, and does not, keep them for himself. Paul, in citing this Old Testament verse, said that God “gave” gifts to men.

More on Ephesians 4:7-13 and these wonderful “gifts” for tomorrow.

Please come worship God with us today at the Taylorsville Road church of Christ!

3741 Taylorsville Road. 9:30 AM Bible class. 10:30 AM worship period. 5:00 PM worship period.

Have a blessed Lord’s Day!

- Louie Taylor

Ephesians 4:1-12

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.  There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all. But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore it says,

“When He ascended on high,
He led captive a host of captives,
And He gave gifts to men.”

(Now this expression, “He ascended,” what does it mean except that He also had descended into the lower parts of the earth? He who descended is Himself also He who ascended far above all the heavens, so that He might fill all things.)  And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ.

--- End of Scripture verses---

Sometimes the greatest number of all is the number ONE. Just as surely as there is only one Father, one Spirit, and one Lord Jesus Christ; there is only one common faith that holds together the one body of Christ. Since the body is the church (Colossians 1:18), then the apostle Paul is stressing that there are not many churches belonging to Christ, but only ONE. That's the very same church that Jesus prayed for (John 17:20-21), and said He would build, and that the gates of Hades would not overpower (Matthew 16:18).

But the main focus of this passage, and of the number one here, is unity. Just as the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are tightly bound together (in essence, power and purpose), so the one body is solidly united together by the bonds of peace. It is the one common faith that has been revealed by the one Spirit in the New Testament that provides the powers of adhesion.

God has given many gifts to many individuals in this one, blood-bought body (verses 7-11). But they all have been given to provide for the growth and development and maturity of the one body: the church of Christ (verses 13-16). And verse 12 tells us the works that are to be engaged in by the many gifted individuals that God has populated His church with. Our collective resources are to go toward "perfecting" or "equipping" the saints (building Christians up spiritually); for the "work of the ministry" (serving the needs of Christians); for the "edifying" or "building up" of the body of Christ (teaching and converting the lost so that God can add them to the church).

Have a blessed day!

-Louie Taylor

Ephesians 4:1-6

Saturday, August 25, 2018
 
“Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.”
 
--- End of Scripture verses---
 
There is only “one baptism”. It is not the baptism of John (Acts 19:3). John’s immersion was a “preparatory” baptism that was administered while he was making ready the way for the Lord to come preaching the Good News (Mark 1:3). It is not “Holy Spirit” baptism. Not counting Jesus, there are only two instances recorded in the New Testament of people being “baptized with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 1:5), and that is when the Apostles received “power” from on high (Acts 1:8) on that special day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4). And the second was about ten years later when the Holy Spirit “fell upon” some Gentiles gathered in the house of Cornelius, to confirm to Peter and the rest of the Apostles that the blessed Gospel is for all people, not just the Jews (Acts 10:44-48).
 
The “one baptism” that unites all Christians into the “one body” of Christ is immersion in water for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38; 8:36-39). This one baptism is in the “name of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 19:6), and in the “name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19). Water baptism is the act and the place that we come in contact with the precious blood of Jesus (Romans 6:3-6) that figuratively “washes away” or sins (Acts 22:16; Revelation 1:5), but literally removes them from our lives so that we are forgiven and no longer held accountable for them. This is the baptism that “now saves us” (1 Peter 3:21), when it is accompanied with belief and repentance (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38).
 
Have you been fully immersed in water, in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, in order to have your sins forgiven? If not, then you are not a part of the one, blood-bought body of Jesus, and you do not have access to “every spiritual blessing” that can only found “in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3). Please don’t wait another minute to obey the Gospel and make your life right with God!
 
Please read Ephesians 4:7-13 for tomorrow.
 
Have a great day!
 
- Louie Taylor

Ephesians 4:1-6

Saturday, August 25, 2018

“Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.”

--- End of Scripture verses---

“Just as also you were called in one hope of your calling” (verse 4). Loving the words of Colly Caldwell on this particular “one”. Quoting from his commentary on Ephesians by Guardian of Truth Foundation:

“One hope involves unity of aspiration, purpose, and goals. Hope…is favorable expectation with trust and confidence. Those who are truly united have common goals, ambitions, and purposes. It is inconceivable that Christians would set their mission toward seeking earthly rewards or desire any promise other than the one hope of the gospel. On earth, men hope for different things materially: prestige, fame, wealth, possessions, and/or pleasures. The Christian earnestly desires and expects to attain everlasting glory. Children of God are looking toward heaven, and heaven is real (Rev. 21:1-7; 1 John 3:2-3; Heb. 3:1; 1 Pet. 5:10).

“Our hope is truly glorious (Rom. 5:2; Col. 1:5,27; Rom. 8:24-25). Our hope causes us as Christians to endure persecution, face crises, and remain faithful while those outside the Lord have no hope (1 Thess. 4:13; Eph. 2:12). There should be no rivalry as with men hoping for the same office or honor or possession… The common hope binds us together because we know that we shall all be one great band of heavenly worshippers around the throne of God throughout eternity.” (pg 166)

---End of commentary quote---

“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.” (Titus 2:11-14)

Please stay in Ephesians 4:1-6 for tomorrow and please take the time to read these verses every day that we stay here since this is a Bible reading group and not a commentary reading group. Memorizing the verses wouldn’t be a bad idea either! Also take the time to at least read SOME of the accompanying verses that are referenced but not quoted.

Hope you all have a blessed and wonderful day.

-Louie Taylor

Ephesians 4:1-6

Saturday, August 25, 2018

“Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.”

--- End of Scripture verses---

When the apostle Paul wrote that we must be "diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace," he was stressing how vitally important it is for Christians to be united in the Lord's church. In verses 4-6 he mentioned seven things that there are only one of.

He started this list by saying that there is only one body. He wrote in Ephesians 3:6, "the Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel." Both Jews and Gentiles are welcome members in the church of Jesus Christ (Ephesians 3:10). That is really just another way of saying that all people of all races are acceptable to the Lord.

Paul knew it would take diligent effort for people from diverse backgrounds to get along together in peace and harmony in the church. But the good news is that all things are possible in Christ. He went on to write in Ephesians 3:20-21, "Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen."

Paul tells us that when we give ourselves to the Lord, that His power works within us, and there is no good thing that He won't equip us to do. God has not left us alone to fight our battles on earth. If we are trying our best, He will do the rest. As surely as there is only one Father, one Lord (Jesus the Son), and one Spirit, there is only one body (the church). If we strive to be united in peace, love, truth, doctrine, and worship He will not allow us to fail.

Have a blessed day!

-Louie Taylor

Ephesians 4:1-6

Saturday, August 25, 2018

“Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.”

--- End of Scripture verses---

“There is one body.” No matter how many millions of times people insist that you should “attend the church of your choice,” and that it doesn’t matter what “denomination” you are a part of, there is only one church that is founded by and approved of by Jesus Christ. The “body” of Christ is the “church” of Christ (Ephesians 5:23; Colossians 1:24). Jesus is the head of this body (Colossians 1:18; 1 Corinthians 12:27), so it takes all of its instructions and receives all of its authority from Him as dictated by the inspired revelation of the New Testament (2 Peter 1:16-21).

There is only one church that Jesus personally “built” (Matthew 16:18), and that He “purchased with His own blood” (Acts 20:28). This is the church that the Apostle’s “established” on the day of Pentecost nearly 2000 years ago when they were empowered by the Holy Spirit and began baptizing people into it through the authority of Christ (Acts 2:38, 47). This is the church of Jesus Christ, and all approved local congregations are “churches of Christ” (Romans 16:16).

Christ, the head of the church, has only one and not many bodies. Are you a part of that one, Christ-built, blood-bought body?

More on Ephesians 4:1-6 for tomorrow Lord willing.

Blessings!

-Louie Taylor

Ephesians 4:1-6

Saturday, August 25, 2018

“Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.”

--- End of Scripture verses---

Okay I guess we need to spend a few days on this passage in order to do it any justice at all. We mentioned in the introductory remarks about this letter that one of its main themes is “unity”. Paul really drives that theme home in today’s verses as he gives reference to the “seven ones” as motivation to “preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (verse 3). Just as surely as there is only one body (the church), one (Holy) Spirit, one hope, One Lord (Jesus Christ), one faith, one baptism and one (Heavenly) Father; we should strive to unite as one in the kingdom of our Savior.

In order to effectively become a truly united body of believers, we must, as individuals, make some personal sacrifices. We really need to learn the art of putting others before self, and that is not always an easy skill to acquire. We must strive to interact with our brothers and sisters in Christ with “all humility and gentleness” (verse 2). To be humble is to take a “lowly” view of oneself. If we think too highly of ourselves then we are always going to be putting our own needs, wants and opinions before everyone else’s, and that is a formula for disaster in a congregation.

“Gentleness” or “Meekness” is not “weakness” but strength under control. We will need to exercise this gentle disposition in order to resist the urge to retaliate when a fellow Christian does us wrong, because, let’s face it—we all treat each other poorly at one time or another. We need, by God’s grace, to develop the ability to absorb a wrong suffered and then to freely and eagerly forgive the offender. Paul wrote in verse 32 of this same chapter, “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.”

We need to exhibit “patience” when we are dealing with Christians from a variety of backgrounds and at differing levels of spiritual development. This is the Greek word “makrothumias” and it is often rendered “longsuffering”. If we truly love our spiritual family, we will learn to “show tolerance” for their weaknesses and quirks, understanding that, yes, we all have our own! “Love is patient, love is kind…” (1 Corinthians 13:4). Love also “bears all things” and “endures all things” (1 Corinthians 13:7). We dare not tolerate sin and error, but we must learn to deal patiently and tolerantly with imperfect people who sometimes stumble.

More tomorrow Lord willing!

Have a blessed and safe day!

-Louie Taylor

Ephesians 3:20-21

Friday, August 24, 2018
 
“Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.”
 
--- End of Scripture verses---
 
Paul had just prayed a most magnificent prayer for his brethren in Christ in which He petitioned the Lord for some tremendous blessings. He prayed that they “be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man” (verse 16). He prayed that Christ would dwell in their hearts and that they would be rooted and grounded in His love (verse 17). He also prayed for their ability to comprehend the love of the Lord that surpasses knowledge (verse 18), and that they be filled up with all the fullness of His love, blessings, knowledge and wisdom (verse 19).
 
Then in verse 20 he told them that God is more than capable of answering this prayer and delivering on all the wonderful blessings that Paul had petitioned Him for. God can do “far more abundantly beyond” anything that we can “ask” or even “think”. God’s power is limitless and His love is boundless. There is no good thing that we could ask of Him that would be beyond His ability to bestow. He may choose to answer “No” or “Not at this time” to any of our requests if those answers are in our best interest and in accordance with His will.
 
But, like so many of the requests that we make to God, much of the answers have to do with our willingness to do our part. I cannot imagine when there would be a time that God would refuse a request for spiritual strength, deeper knowledge and greater love. But if we spend most of our time planted in front of the TV screen and very little time with our faces in the Bible and our knees on the floor, we will likely be weak in the faith, deficient in the knowledge of His will, and ungrounded by His love. Often times God’s unlimited power IS limited by our feeble faith.
 
Paul said that God’s power “works within us”. The same Almighty God that created the universe wants to wield His power within our very lives. Open up to His will. Receive His word. Obey His commandments. Allow the Father, Son and Holy Spirit to “dwell in your hearts through faith” (verse 17), and permit yourself to be used as “instruments of righteousness to God” (Romans 6:13). He will do wonderful things in you, by you and through you.
 
To Him be the glory IN THE CHURCH and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever (verse 21)! Are you a baptized, blood-bought, born again member of the body of Jesus Christ? The only way you can access God’s power and properly give Him the glory for all good things in your life is to be a part of His church!
 
Please read Ephesians 4:1-5 for tomorrow.
 
Have a blessed day!
 
- Louie Taylor

Ephesians 3:14-19

Thursday, August 23, 2018
“For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.”
 
--- End of Scripture verses---
 
The underpinnings of our faith, indeed our very lives, should be love. It is not surprising that Paul would pray that his brethren be “rooted and grounded in love” (verse 17). Just as the root system of a plant or tree supplies it with much needed stability and nourishment, so our faith is firmed up and fed through our love for God and our fellowman. And as the integrity of a structure or building is utterly dependent upon a solid foundation, the framework of our lives in Christ Jesus will surely fall to ruin and destruction unless it rests squarely and soundly upon the foundation love.
 
Jesus tells us in Matthew 22:37-40 that love is the greatest of all God’s commandments: “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”
 
Paul wrote in Colossians 3:12-14 that love is the bond of perfection that unites brothers and sisters together in the body of Christ: “So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.”
 
Jesus said in John 13:34-35 that love is the mark that identifies us as true disciple of His: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” Please take the time to read 1 John chapters 3 and 4 to see the emphasis that God places upon loving our brothers and sisters in Christ.
 
If we are not very careful, we can allow the ordeals and sufferings of life to turn us into angry, bitter, unloving people. We must let love put down deep roots within our hearts so that we can weather the droughts and storms of life with our faith and hope in tact. If we find our hearts filled with anger, hatred and animosity for the people that God created in His own image, and especially for our spiritual brethren who have been recreated in the likeness of the Savior, then Christ is not dwelling in our hearts through faith (verse 17).
 
Love “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails…” (1 Corinthians 13:7-8)
 
Let’s make certain that our love is “abounding” and “increasing” (Philippians 1:9; 1 Thessalonians 3:12), and that we not allow it to fall from the level of first importance in Christ (Revelation 2:4).
 
One more day for tomorrow in Ephesians 3:20-21.
 
Have a great day!
 
- Louie Taylor

Ephesians 3:14-19

Wednesday, August 22, 2018
“For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.”
 
--- End of Scripture verses---
 
All of us with children like to give them good gifts. We would even be willing to personally do without some things we like, and even need, in order to shower our loved ones with excellent blessings. The wonderful thing about being children of the Father in Heaven is that He wants to “grant” (verse 16) us all good things (Matthew 7:11; Romans 8:32; 1 Timothy 6:17), and He has an unlimited storehouse of riches from which to draw, and unlimited power with which to grant them.
 
One of the things we all find ourselves in need of from time to time is strength (verse 16). We get physically exhausted from the toil and challenges of everyday life, and grow mentally and spiritually weary from exposure to all the temptation, darkness and godlessness of the world in which we live. Sometimes we become so weak that we do not even know if we will find the strength to go on. God is more than willing and able to strengthen us “in the inner man” so that we can stand firm in our faith, and continue to run the race with endurance.
 
God strengthens us “with power through the Holy Spirit.” Jesus said in Luke 11:13, “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?” We learn from Jesus that we need to “ask” (pray) for the strength that comes through the giving of the Spirit. And we know that the Spirit gives us strength by reading and dwelling upon the word that He has inspired (Psalm 119:28).
 
Much of our strength also depends upon our own faith and attitude. When we realize, like Paul did, that we “can do all things through Him who strengthens” us (Philippians 4:13), there is no spiritual challenge that the Lord will not empower us to overcome. So, when you are feeling feeble and fragile, remember to pray to the Father for strength, and to plug into your spiritual power plant (the Bible), and to flip the attitude switch from negative to positive, having faithful confidence in the Lord and His potency to empower.
 
“We have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience.” (Colossians 1:9-11)
 
Stay with Ephesians 3:14-19 for one more day.
 
Blessings!d
 
- Louie Taylor

Ephesians 3:14-19

Tuesday, August 21, 2018
“For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.”
 
--- End of Scripture verses---
Paul “bowed his knees before the Father” (verse 14) in heaven in a solemn, heart-felt prayer on the behalf of his beloved brethren in Ephesus. Once again, we see the humility of the apostle who considered himself to be “the least of all saints” (verse 8). Bowing before the Father was an act of humble submission to His absolute authority. But Paul is expressing a heart condition and not a bodily position with this statement. We can approach God’s glorious throne in boldness and confidence knowing what Christ has accomplished for us (verse 12), but we should do so with reverence and humility in understanding that God is the Creator of the universe and we are His lowly servants (James 4:10; 1 Peter 5:6). God is our loving Father but He is also our sovereign monarch.
 
Colly Coldwell wrote the following about verse 15 in his Truth Commentary by the Guardian of Truth Foundation: “The expression ‘whole family’ (pasa patria) should properly and contextually be translated ‘all the fatherhood.’ The idea is that all beings who worship and serve God are identified spiritually with the Father in the family. These verses speak of the Fatherhood of God in terms of spiritual life rather than physical life…Certainly God is the Source of all human life, but Paul discusses the higher spiritual creation and the one family in Christ in the book of Ephesians (cf. Eph. 2:18-19). It is God as the spiritual Father and Creator that serves as a theme in this epistle. The whole spiritual family of God includes beings in the heavens (the spirits of just men made perfect, the angels, etc., Heb. 12:22-24; Col. 1:20) and beings on earth (those who receive his grace by faith and become a part of his spiritual temple; Eph. 2:19-22).”
 
Please stay with Ephesians 3:14-19 again for tomorrow.
 
Have a blessed day!
 
- Louie Taylor

Ephesians 3:14-19

Monday, August 20, 2018
“For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.”
 
--- End of Scripture verses---
 
Quoting Colly Caldwell from his Guardian of Truth Foundation commentary on Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, pages 135-137, about the idea of “Christ dwelling in our hearts through faith” (verse 17):
 
“Christ dwelling in us and our being strengthened through the Spirit are not two different experiences performed through different processes (cf. Rom. 8:9f; Gal. 2:20). The Spirit reveals the great truths about Christ and his will (Col. 1:9-11). That leads to our being filled with Christ. The metaphor of Christ dwelling in us involves the picture of Christ making his home within our hearts, living in us, abiding continually in our lives as a result of our having been strengthened through the Spirit. Paul here prayed for closer communion, more submission, and greater commitment to Christ. Notice the emphasis upon our knowledge and comprehension of truth in the following verses (17-21). Christ comes into our hearts by faith, when we hear his voice and open the door to him (Rev. 3:20).
 
“The Scriptures teach that each of the three Divine Persons dwells in each true Christian. It further teaches that Christians dwell in the persons of deity. The New Testament clearly affirms that God dwells in some men… (1 John 4:12-16; see also 1 John 3:24). Not only does God dwell in some men, but the same passages teach that we abide in the Father. That should make it obvious that literal, personal possession of our persons is not being considered... ‘The human heart, which has accepted the word of faith, the summons of the promise, the wisdom of the demands and the commandments of the doctrine, becomes the temple of God in us’ (TDNT V:154)…'”
 
Please stay with this prayer in Ephesians 3:14-19 for tomorrow.
 
Have a great day!
 
- Louie Taylor

Ephesians 3:7-13

Sunday, August 19, 2018

“Of which I was made a minister, according to the gift of God’s grace which was given to me according to the working of His power. To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ, and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God who created all things; so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places. This was in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and confident access through faith in Him. Therefore I ask you not to lose heart at my tribulations on your behalf, for they are your glory.”

--- End of Scripture verses---

It was such an honor for Paul, who considered himself the “very least” to be able to provide for the Gentiles the very most (verse 8). Paul knew he was unworthy to be given such a lofty and privileged position as an Apostle of the Christ whom he persecuted (Acts 9:4-5), so the thoughts of the “gift of God’s grace” that was given to him always humbled him.

The “riches” that are provided by the faithful preaching of the Gospel are “unfathomable,” so appreciate your Bible and your preacher. The wealth of spiritual blessings that gush forth from God’s living word are immeasurable and incomprehensible. The gospel is packed with amazing grace (John 1:16), surpassing peace (Philippians 4:7), complete joy (John 15:11) and great salvation (Hebrews 2:3). “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!” (Romans 11:33)

God has brought to light, through Christ Jesus, the truths that were once shrouded in darkness (verse 9). God’s word is given to us as a lamp to our feet and a light to our path (Psalm 119:105). It illuminates the darkness so that we can see to walk clearly, safely and righteously. “For you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light” (Ephesians 5:8).

God’s “manifold” (multifaceted) wisdom is “made known through the church” (verse 10). It was God’s “eternal purpose” for Jesus to die for the sins of the world, and arise from the dead in order to build His church (verse 11). That means that God has had plans for you and me from eternity as well. The Lord “has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity” (2 Timothy 1:9).

Because of what Christ has done for us, we have access to the Father that is both bold and confident (verse 12). But let’s not confuse confidence with arrogance. Let’s remember Paul’s example of meekness and humility as people that are equally undeserving of God’s riches and grace and salvation. Let’s approach God’s mighty throne with boldness and humbleness.

Please read Ephesians 3:14-19 for tomorrow.

 

- Louie Taylor

Ephesians 3:1-6

Saturday, August 18, 2018
“For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles—if indeed you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace which was given to me for you; that by revelation there was made known to me the mystery, as I wrote before in brief. By referring to this, when you read you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which in other generations was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit; to be specific, that the Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.”
 
--- End of Scripture verses---
 
Today’s reading really sums up exactly how God makes His will known to people in this current and final dispensation of His dealing with mankind. “By revelation there was made known to” Paul “the mystery” (verse 3). The Holy Spirit miraculously revealed important knowledge to the “apostles and prophets” (verse 5), some of which had not been fully disclosed prior to Christ’s coming. He is specifically writing about the fact that, in Christ Jesus, both Jews and Gentiles are brought together into one, redeemed collective called His church (verse 6).
 
After the Spirit revealed the mind of Christ to God’s chosen instruments, they proceeded to record the word of God onto the written page. These pieces of inspired, inscribed literature have since been organized into a codified collective knows as the Bible. Paul wrote that “when you read” the revelation of God’s mind, “you can understand” the writers’ “insight into” it (verse 4). God has chosen the medium of the (inspired) written word to convey His will to us. We must read it, or have it read to us, in order to understand what God would have us to believe, know and do.
 
And, when we do take the time to read it, we truly CAN understand it. It is not so “mysterious” that it is beyond the ability of the average mind to grasp. Now, mind you, some things are DIFFICULT to understand (2 Peter 3:16), but they are not IMPOSSIBLE to understand. If the will of God is important to us, and we apply ourselves to the study and pursuit of it, then He will lead us to a clarity and comprehension that will allow us to lead lives that are pleasing to Him.
 
Quite frankly, the written word of God is far too vital to our eternal welfare to NOT be important to us. God’s glorious inheritance and all of His spiritual blessings and precious promises are given to us “in Christ Jesus,” and are made known and available “through the gospel” (verse 6). Dig deep my friends!!!
 
Please read Ephesians 3:7-13 for tomorrow.
 
Have a blessed day!
 
- Louie Taylor

Ephesians 2:18-22

Friday, August 17, 2018

“For through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God's household, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.”

--- End of Scripture verses---

In Christ Jesus, we have an all “access” pass to the Father in heaven (verse 18). Jesus is the door that provides us the freedom and the privilege to come into the presence of our Father and have a spiritual relationship with Him. In Christ, we can cast all our anxieties upon the Lord because He cares for us (1 Peter 5:7). We can go to the Father in prayer and share with Him our failures and successes, our worries and delights, our fears and our joys. We can ask Him to help us with any of life’s challenges and difficulties. “Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).

When we are born again in Christ Jesus, we are adopted into the household of God (verse 19). That means we are bona fide members of the family of God. With Jesus as our brother (Hebrews 2:11) and God as our Father (Romans 8:15), we never need want or fear for anything again. It is an awesome and comforting thought to know that we have the Creator of the universe as our Protector and Provider. In Christ Jesus, we are not only members of the household, we are actually part of the house (verse 22). As living stones (1 Peter 2:5), Christians are “being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.” This is an every growing and expanding “holy temple in the Lord” (verse 21) which is the church of Jesus Christ.

One of the main focal points of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians is the need for unity and harmony among brothers and sisters in Christ. As the body of Christ continues to grow and expand, its members should strive to grow stronger and closer together. As we are “being built together” into God’s dwelling place, the mortar that binds us in unity is the love and teaching of “Christ Jesus Himself” who is “the corner stone” of God’s spiritual temple (verse 20). As long as we are standing on the firm foundation of the truth taught by “the apostles and prophets,” and the love of the “chief corner stone” (Acts 4:11) who gave himself for the sins of the world, God will dwell among us and we will be His people (Revelation 21:3).

Please read Ephesians 3:1-6 for tomorrow.

Have a blessed day!

 

- Louie Taylor

Ephesians 2:14-17

Thursday, August 16, 2018
“For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity. And He came, and preached peace to you who were far off, and peace to those who were near.”
 
--- End of Scripture verses---
 
Quoting today from the Truth Commentary series on Paul’s letter to the Ephesians written by Colly Caldwell, Guardian of Truth Foundation, Copyright 1994.
 
On verse 14: “The apostle dealt with three aspects of the ethnic division between Jew and Gentile in this passage: (a) the Gentiles’ former condition had left them without the inner peace which comes with hope (2:11-13); (b) there was no peace between two larger ethnic groups, the Jews and the Gentiles, who were at enmity with each other (2:14-15); and (c) both ethnic groups were separated from God without peace because of sin and were therefore alike spiritually (2:16-18). The conclusion provided by the Holy Spirit to each phase of the discussion is ‘Christ is our peace.’ He alone provides peace within our own souls, peace with our fellows, and peace with God.
 
“Specifically, he made both (amphotera) one. He brought the two peoples (Jews and Gentiles) together as Christians. He did that by breaking down the wall between them. To break down…is literally to loosen in such a way as to destroy or demolish. A middle wall (mesotoichon) is a barrier. In this case it was a barrier of hostility, hatred, contempt, and separation created by their customs and laws. A partition (phargmou) is a fence, hedge or divider. In this case, it was in their minds and attitudes toward one another.
 
“The old temple grounds in Jerusalem had contained a dividing wall between the court of the Gentiles and the court of the Israelites. The new temple of God (cf. v. 21) was established upon unity and identification of all men as one (John 10:16; Gal. 3:28). Christ had provided a great commonness for them. They all had the same God, the same Christ, the same salvation, and the same hope (Eph. 4:4-6). Christ’s coming destroyed all dividing barriers and brought all men spiritually together in one body.”
 
On verse 15: “All this was affected by Christ when he abolished (katargesas) the source of the enmity, the Law itself. To ‘abolish’ is to make null and void, to render inoperative and no longer mandatory, to make useless, to cancel, or to abrogate. The Law of Moses was the source of enmity (echtran) between the two peoples. Their animosity, feuding, and alienation resulted from national application of the ordinances and promises of the Law to only one side of the dispute.
 
“Christ nailed the Law to his cross (Col. 1:20-22; 2:14; Heb. 10:1-10). The separating influence, the Law, had divided the nations because it was a national law, designed for Israel only. The Law, in which they had taken so much pride, had been the very source of their separation. Christ took away the entire Mosaic legal system contained in ordinances and left the Jew with no reason for special pride (Col. 2:1-4; Rom. 7:1-4; Gal. 5:2-4; 2 Cor. 3:14).
 
“Our word ‘dogma’ comes from the Greek word ordinances (dogmasin). ‘Ordinances’ are decrees, statutes, edicts or specific rules. When the Law with its specific edicts concerning the segregation of Israel from the nations was taken away, there was no reason to identify separately the Jews from Gentiles in any spiritual sense. Christ willed that the Gentiles be included in the one body by grace through faith.”
 
Please read Ephesians 2:18-22 for tomorrow.
 
Have a great day!
 
- Louie Taylor

Ephesians 2:11-13

Wednesday, August 15, 2018
“Therefore remember that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called ‘Uncircumcision’ by the so-called ‘Circumcision,’ which is performed in the flesh by human hands — remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.”
 
--- End of Scripture verses---
 
Verse 12 tells the tragic story of what our lives looked like before we believed in Christ and obeyed the Gospel and had our sins forgiven. It has been said that the people who refuse to learn from history are doomed to repeat it. It is profitable to, periodically, recollect what it was like to be dead in our sins (verse 1) and enslaved by “the prince of the power of the air” (verse 2), just to remind ourselves that we never want to go back to that lost, dark, distressing place of anguish again. To be clear, Paul is recalling the condition of the Gentile world before Christ came to save the world, but we can make application to each person’s life individually, before they came to Christ.
 
“Separate from Christ” – We were once the “walking dead” (verse 2), living without a Savior. We were alive, but only because our heart was pumping blood through our arteries. A life severed from Jesus is no real life at all.
 
“Excluded from the commonwealth of Israel” – We were without a “country” so to speak. “Commonwealth” is the Greek word “politeia” and it is where we get our English word “polity” from. Now, in Christ, “our citizenship (politeuma) is in heaven” (Philippians 3:20). Before Christ, we just wandered aimlessly about the Earth with no real permanent residency.
 
“Strangers of the covenants of promise” – We were also once without a home. It is true that we are considered “strangers and pilgrims” on the earth while in Christ Jesus (1 Peter 2:11). But before we came to the Lord, we were estranged from Him and all the great and precious promises that accompany being in a covenant relationship with Him (2 Peter 1:4),
 
“Having no hope” – Without Christ we were completely hopeless! No hope of a peaceful present and no hope of a blissful eternity! The hope that we have in Christ is called “an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within” heaven itself (Hebrews 6:19). Without that hope we are just aimlessly drifting in a sea of senselessness and sin, darkness and confusion.
 
“Without God in the world” – Before we came to Christ we were just Godless people! What a horrific, forlorn and depressing existence!
 
But now, in Christ Jesus we who formerly were far off have, in the greatest hope, been brought near to the God that we were estranged from, and united with Christ in an everlasting covenant filled with eternal promise. “But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God's OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for you once were NOT A PEOPLE, but now you are THE PEOPLE OF GOD; you had NOT RECEIVED MERCY, but now you have RECEIVED MERCY.” (1 Peter 2:9-10)
 
Please read Ephesians 2:14-17 for tomorrow.
 
Have a blessed day!
 
- Louie Taylor

Ephesians 2:8-10

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.”

--- End of Scripture verses---

Quite often God’s blessings prompt people to be BOASTFUL instead of stimulating them to be THANKFUL. Every good thing that we have in life is provided through God’s grace. Grace is “unearned” or “unmerited favor”. We acquire many good things by our own mental and physical exertion, and we should utilize the resources that we have for advancement in life. But who gave us our intellect and physical wellbeing? They were gifts that we received from God that we had no control over.

Some people boast that they built their careers and net worth from the strength of their back, and the sweat of their brow, by their own two hands. But did they make their back, brow and hands? Of course not! God bestows those blessings upon people (who do not deserve them) through conference of His benevolent grace. So, let us allow God’s graciousness to cultivate gratefulness within our hearts, and strive to avoid arrogance at all costs.

The greatest manifestation of God’s grace is eternal salvation. We are completely dependent upon God’s favor, and totally helpless to devise the means to secure our deliverance from the death sentence that sin incurs. Praise be to God that He loved us enough to formulate the plan and provide the sacrifice that all people need to be saved.

But, just as our personal exertion is required in acquiring God’s good, temporal blessings, God also requires efforts on our part to receive His gift of eternal life. We must believe the Gospel (John 6:29), repent of our sins (Acts 2:38), confess our faith in Jesus (Matthew 10:32), be baptized to be saved (Mark 16:16), and live lives of faithful obedience to all of the commands of Jesus (Matthew 28:20, Revelation 2:10). And, even when we have done these necessary acts of obedience, salvation is still a gift of God’s grace that we do not deserve and we could not possibly earn.

God saves us by His grace, but He spiritually recreates us in Christ Jesus to walk in good works (verse 10).

Please read Ephesians 2:11-13 for tomorrow.

Have a blessed day!

- Louie Taylor

Ephesians 2:4-7

Monday, August 13, 2018

“But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”

--- End of Scripture verses---

Four words stand out in today’s “after” portion of the “before and after picture” that Paul painted in Ephesians chapter 2: mercy, love, grace and kindness. God was “rich in mercy” and driven by “great love” when he “made us alive together with Christ.” God looked down in dynamic mercy upon us because we were “dead” in our “trespasses and sins” (verse 1). He loved us so very much “that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

We are saved by grace (verse 5), but not grace alone. We are saved by belief (John 3:16), but not belief alone. The same Apostle Paul tells us in Colossians 2:12-13 how and where God made us alive together with Christ. “Having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions.”

Once we bury the old person of sin in the grave of baptism and arise to walk in newness of life, we are seated “with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (verse 6). As “reborn,” new creations in Christ, we reign with our Lord Jesus in the heavenly, spiritual realm. This is a reminder that this world is not our home, we’re just a passing through. Our treasures are laid up, somewhere beyond the blue.

“Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.” (Colossians 3:1-4)

Please read Ephesians 2:8-10 for tomorrow.

Blessings!

- Louie Taylor

Ephesians 2:1-3

Sunday, August 12, 2018

“And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.”

--- End of Scripture verses---

As Christ arose from the dead and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God in heaven (1:20), His powerful display over death has also produced a resurrection in the lives of His followers. Paul said that his brethren in Christ “were dead” in their trespasses and sins (verse 1). In the Bible, death always indicates separation. When the spirit is separated from the fleshly body it results in physical death (James 2:26). When sin enters our lives, our spirits are separated from God, which is the equivalent of spiritual death (Isaiah 59:1-2).

When we were dead in sins, we “walked according to the course of this world” (verse 2). The Walking Dead may make for an interesting bit of science fiction (although I honestly don’t understand the fixation on that ridiculous show!), but conducting our lives as dead men walking in sin and estranged from the Father in heaven is certainly not the slightest bit amusing. I think John summed up quite well what it means to walk “according to the course of the world” in 1 John 2:15-17:

“Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.” Living a life of lustful, fleshly indulgence that is given over to pride and arrogance is walking with the devil (the god of this world – 2 Corinthians 4:4), and succumbing to his “power”, and that is a sinful, destructive walk.

Paul distinguishes “you” from “we” to demonstrate that all people, both Jews and Gentiles, at one time or another, “lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind” (verse 3). We can become so comfortable with and accustomed to sin that it just becomes second “nature”. But, as children “born again” of God (John 3:3), “born of water and the Spirit” (John 3:5); buried through baptism into Christ’s death, and raised in the likeness of His resurrection (Romans 6:3-6); we are to walk in newness of life in the light of His word and love (1 John 1:7-9).

Please read Ephesians 2:4-7 for tomorrow.

 

- Louie Taylor

Ephesians 1:19-23

Saturday, August 11, 2018

“These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.”

--- End of Scripture verses---

Paul is still expressing his heart-felt prayer to God on behalf of the Ephesian brethren. He is revealing the power source behind “the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints” (verse 18). “The surpassing greatness of the power” that He demonstrates “toward us who believe” (verse 19) emanates from the Father in heaven, and it is the same power that raised Christ “from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places” (verse 20).

Paul uses four words in verse 19 to place great emphasis on the supreme power of God. “Power” is the Greek word “dunameos” and from its root we get the English word “dynamite”. It means “capacity” or “potency” and Paul wrote that this power that belongs to God alone is of “surpassing greatness” (verse 19). The word “working” is “energeian” and I’m sure you can see the word “energy” it its root. This word “speaks of the powerful energizing force of God to cause action” (Caldwell’s Truth commentary on Ephesians). The other two words are “strength” and “might”.

It provides the utmost comfort and encouragement to know that the same power that raised Christ from the dead is also more than capable of pulling us out of the death-grip of sin, and transforming our lives into something beautiful in the sight of the Lord. Christ fills His church, and our individual lives, with the “fullness” of God. He fills us up with the riches and the goodness of all His spiritual blessings!

Please read Ephesians 2:1-3 for tomorrow.

Have a blessed day!

 

- Louie Taylor

Ephesians 1:15-19

Friday, August 10, 2018

“For this reason I too, having heard of the faith in the Lord Jesus which exists among you and your love for all the saints, do not cease giving thanks for you, while making mention of you in my prayers; that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might.”

--- End of Scripture verses---

It is a beautiful petition on Paul’s part to pray that the “spiritual eyes” of his brethren be opened and enlightened (verse 18). He had written about all the spiritual blessings which reside in Christ in the “heavenly places” (1:3), and he wanted to help elevate the Ephesians to greater heights in that spiritual realm. He prayed that the Lord would give them a “spirit of wisdom” to perceive and discern the desires of God, and how best to apply God’s will to their lives. He prayed for a spirit of “revelation” in order that they might gain deeper insight and understanding into the revealed mind of the Creator.

He prayed that they would acquire a greater “knowledge” of their heavenly Father. That they would not just learn more ABOUT Him, but have a stronger relationship WITH Him by striving for a closer walk by His side. The prophet Jeremiah wrote in Jeremiah 9:23-24: “Thus says the LORD, ‘Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches; but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the LORD who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things,’ declares the LORD.”

“I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” (Philippians 3:8).

No earthly possession or sensation or relationship is worthy of comparing to a true knowledge of the Lord Yahweh!

Please read Ephesians 1:20-23 for tomorrow.

Have a wonderful day!

-Louie Taylor

Ephesians 1:11-14 (Part 2)

Thursday, August 09, 2018

“Also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory. In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation — having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God's own possession, to the praise of His glory.”

--- End of Scripture verses---

More on the idea of “receiving the Holy Spirit” for today. Receiving the Holy Spirit cannot be separated from “listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation” and “having also believed” (verse 13). Hearing (or reading) and believing the Spirit-revealed message (the Truth taught in the Bible, the Gospel, the New Testament) is exactly how we receive Him. If we reject His revelation then we reject Him and have no part with Him, and He will not “seal” us and we cannot receive Him as a “pledge” of a future inheritance. If we receive His message and believe and obey it, and allow the Truth to transform us, we welcome the Spirit into our lives and have fellowship with Him.

Quoting from the Truth Commentary series on Paul’s letter to the Ephesians written by Colly Caldwell, Guardian of Truth Foundation, Copyright 1994:

“Scripturally, being sealed does not entail supernatural intervention by the Holy spirit. We are marked or certified by the Spirit as children of God when our character and attitudes are changed by our response to the Word delivered through the Spirit. Paul said, ‘And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice. And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, and forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you’ (Eph. 4:30-32). We are sealed by the Holy Spirit when we put away evil and become kind, tenderhearted, and forgiving. All this occurs through the instruction of the Spirit, not through some miraculous or supernatural indwelling or special activity of the Spirit.”

Please read Ephesians 1:15-19 for tomorrow.

Have a great day!

-Louie Taylor

Ephesians 1:11-14 (Part 1)

Wednesday, August 08, 2018

“Also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory. In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation — having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God's own possession, to the praise of His glory.”

--- End of Scripture verses---

What I want to be more than anything in this world is “God’s own possession” (verse 14). The KJV and NKJV use the term “purchased passion.” We usually treat the things that we buy with our own, hard-earned money with great care and vigilance. How much more will our Father in heaven love and protect and provide for us since He paid the price in the precious blood of His own beloved Son to purchase our redemption?

When God owns us, then we actually possess all that He owns because we are His rightful heirs, and there is no better inheritance that anyone could hope for than all the riches and glory of heaven. As security for this future inheritance, the Father has given to us “the Holy Spirit of promise” (verse 13). 

The Spirit is given to us as a “seal” and a “pledge”. God has “stamped” those who obey “the message of truth” with His “seal” of authenticity as proof of His ownership. And He has given His possessions the Holy Spirit as a “pledge” or “earnest” which is a down payment, or a “good faith deposit”, as a guarantee that the full price of the inheritance will be paid in the future.

People receive the “gift” of the Holy Spirit when they are baptized for the forgiveness of their sins. “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38). Many people believe that the gift of the Holy Spirit that Peter promises is the gift of salvation (Ephesians 2:8). I believe that the gift we receive at baptism is the Holy Spirit himself. That is when God gives us His “seal” and “pledge”.

More on this idea of “receiving the Holy Spirit” tomorrow.

Stay with Ephesians 1:11-14.

Have a great day!

Ephesians 1:7-10

Tuesday, August 07, 2018

“In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us. In all wisdom and insight He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth.”

--- End of Scripture verses---

I love the proclamation of God lavishing his riches and grace upon us through Jesus Christ (verses 6-8). There is really no better expression of His love that He could offer humanity than the sacrificial gift of His Only Begotten Son. Think of all the wonderful gifts and blessings that God has loaned to you in your earthly life. None compare to the gifts of “redemption” and “forgiveness” that provide for your eternal security through the Savior. You can really sense Paul’s grasp of this as his heart gushed forth with appreciation in this first chapter.

The “mystery” that God made know to us is that, “the Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel” (Ephesians 3:3-6). All of us non-Jewish people should continually praise the Lord that His “kind intention,” from the foundation of the world, was to include all of humanity in His covenant promises, even though this did not become fully evident until He sent Jesus into the world in “the fullness of the times” (verse 10).

“The summing up of all things in Christ” includes the uniting of both Jews and Gentiles into one body, which is His church (verses 22-23). Paul wrote in Colossians 1:20 that God reconciled “all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.” Every good plan that God had purposed for the world He created was coalesced and accomplished in the giving of His Son. All that remains is the final culmination when Christ returns to Judge the world and deliver up His beloved brethren to the Father in heaven.

Please read Ephesians 1:11-14 for tomorrow.

Have a blessed day!

-Louie Taylor

Ephesians 1:1-6

Monday, August 06, 2018

“Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, to the saints who are at Ephesus and who are faithful in Christ Jesus: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.”

--- End of Scripture verses---

Verse 3 – “Every spiritual blessing” – There are lot of “spiritually minded” people in the world today who do and receive some good on this physical plane from their “religious” pursuits. But the “spiritual blessings” of the eternal variety can only be found and obtained through a covenant relationship with God “in Christ”.

Paul enumerates some of these special blessings in this chapter. They include “redemption through His blood” and the “forgiveness of our trespasses” (verse 7). Christ paid the purchase price in His blood to “buy us back” after we had been “sold into bondage to sin” (Romans 7:14). Once we are forgiven of our sins by contacting that blood through the waters of baptism (Acts 2:38), we have eternal “salvation” (verse 13) and can live our lives in the eternal “hope” (verse 12) that we will receive an eternal “inheritance” (verse 11) in heaven.

Verse 3 – “In the heavenly places” – There is an “invisible world” and spiritual activity is going on all around us that we cannot see and have no perceptual awareness of. Paul uses the term “the heavenly places” five times in his letter to the Ephesians, and most are in relation to the blessings we receive in our “positive”, spiritual relationship with God through Christ Jesus.

But there is a “dark side” to this realm as well that we must do battle with. “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12). These “spiritual forces” are real and they are powerful. But praise the Lord that they are no match for our All-powerful God. We will reign victoriously with Jesus and overwhelmingly conquer our spiritual foes if we remain faithful to Christ until death (Romans 8:37; Revelation 2:10).

Verse 4 – “He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world” – God “wants all people to be saved” (1 Timothy 2:4), so Ephesians does not teach us that He has “chosen” or “predetermined” the people who will be saved and lost before they were even born. Instead, Ephesians teaches us that God has “predetermined” from eternity that everyone who will be forgiven, redeemed and saved eternally, must live a life that is “holy and blameless before Him.” He “predestined” the plan, not the man (or person).

Verse 5 – “He predestined us to adoption” – This statement is further evidence of the fact that God predestined the plan of salvation and not the individual people who will be saved. All people are “born saved” because they are spiritually innocent and incapable of having committed any sin that could condemn them (Ezekiel 18:20; Matthew 18:3; 1 John 3:4). But, once a person of adequate intellectual capacity transgresses God’s will, he is then lost and in need of “adoption” into the family of God. If people were truly predestined by God to be saved, they would never be lost in the first place, and need to be adopted into God’s family.

All praise and glory be to God for “the kind intention of His will” (verses 5-6)!

Please read Ephesians 1:7-10 for tomorrow.

Have a great day!

Introduction To Paul's Letter To The Ephesians

Sunday, August 05, 2018

We are starting our reading program for Paul’s letter to the Ephesians today. I encourage you to read about Paul’s work in the city of Ephesus and the establishment of the church there in Acts chapters 18-19. Paul wrote this letter from a prison in Rome (Ephesians 3:1; 6:20) sometime around 62 AD.

I have often heard it said that the grand theme of Ephesians is “the summing up of all things in Christ.” “He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth.” (Ephesians 1:9-10).

With this in mind, Paul tells us that “all spiritual blessings” have been made available “in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3-14). These abundant blessings are only realized and attained in His church, which was eternally purposed in the mind of God, according to His “manifold wisdom” (Ephesians 3:10-11). Within this precious, tightly-knit, blood-bought body, the members should strive for perfect peace and unity, while growing in faith and maturity (Ephesians 4:1-16).

This thumbnail sketch only scratches the surface of this profound piece of inspired New Testament literature. Looking forward to diving deeper with you over the next few weeks.

Please read Ephesians 1:1-6 for tomorrow.

Have a great day!

-Louie Taylor

Galatians 6:17-18

Saturday, August 04, 2018

“From now on let no one cause trouble for me, for I bear on my body the brand-marks of Jesus. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brethren. Amen.”

---End of Scripture verses---

Circumcision was not the “mark” that proved that the Apostle Paul belonged to his Master Jesus. The “brands” that demonstrated the Lord’s ownership were the wounds and scars that Paul received while faithfully and lovingly serving Him and carrying out His will.

“Are they servants of Christ?—I speak as if insane—I more so; in far more labors, in far more imprisonments, beaten times without number, often in danger of death. Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep. I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren.” (2 Corinthians 11:23-26)

I pray that none of us will ever be exposed to the kind of abuse that Paul was forced to endure. But even so, choosing to follow Jesus should leave a permanent mark upon us. A Christian should be a changed person who is never quite the same after a true encounter with and conversion to the Lord. 
“The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ” comes with a price. It cost Jesus is life. It will cost us something as well.

We will begin our excursion into Paul’s letter to the Ephesians with some introductory remarks tomorrow.

Have a great day!

-Louie Taylor

Galatians 6:14-16

Friday, August 03, 2018

“But may it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. For neither is circumcision anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. And those who will walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God.”

---End of Scripture verses---

The false teachers wanted the Gentile Christians to be circumcised so that they could boast in their flesh (verse 15), but Paul would only boast “in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ” (verse 14). If anyone had reason to boast in the flesh, it would have been Paul. He pointed out as much in his letter to the Philippians, but he realized that all of those vain fleshly birthrights and achievements were eternally inconsequential and paled in comparison to the excellence of knowing Christ Jesus.

“Although I myself might have confidence even in the flesh. If anyone else has a mind to put confidence in the flesh, I far more: circumcised the eighth day, of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the Law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to the righteousness which is in the Law, found blameless. But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ.” (Philippians 3:4-7)

Think of all the things that people put so much confidence in and brag about: how much money they make, how many promotions they have received, what college they attended, the number of degrees they’ve earned, the wins of their favorite sports teams, how smart their children are, and the list goes on and on. While some of these things are noteworthy and commendable, they will only have positive bearing on life this side of the grave. Only “the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ” has lasting significance and provides eternal security.

Through Christ Jesus and what He did for each of us on Calvary’ cross, we should willingly allow the lusts and desires of the world to be crucified to us, and we should be crucified to them. “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me” (2:20). “Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another.” (Galatians 5:24-26)

If we have truly become “a new creation” in Christ (verse 15), then we should make every effort to “put off” the old person of sin with his evil practices (Colossians 3:8-9); and “as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.” (Colossians 3:12-13)

Please read Galatians 6:17-18 for tomorrow.

Have a blessed day!

-Louie Taylor

Galatians 6:11-13

Thursday, August 02, 2018

“See with what large letters I am writing to you with my own hand. Those who desire to make a good showing in the flesh try to compel you to be circumcised, simply so that they will not be persecuted for the cross of Christ. For those who are circumcised do not even keep the Law themselves, but they desire to have you circumcised so that they may boast in your flesh.”

---End of Scripture verses---

As Paul drew his epistle to the Galatians to a close, he placed his “autograph” upon it to authenticate that the letter had actually come from him. He had likely been dictating to an “amanuensis” up until this point in which he took the writing instrument and wrote in “large letters”. It is uncertain as to why he wrote with larger letters than his assistant did, but maybe it was for emphasis as he summarized and closed this very important piece of inspired Scripture.

Paul gets to the motivation behind the people who had been “troubling” (5:12) the brethren about circumcision. They were only trying to “compel” the Gentile Christians to be circumcised in order to avoid being “persecuted” themselves (verse 12). They obviously thought that if they could wield their influence over their non-Jewish brothers in Christ, then Christianity as a whole would be more acceptable to the Jewish community at large.

But the Apostle Paul would have no part with compromising the truth just to avoid persecution for following Christ. He had written in Galatians 5:11: “But I, brethren, if I still preach circumcision, why am I still persecuted? Then the stumbling block of the cross has been abolished.” Paul was not nearly as interested in pleasing people as he was in pleasing the Lord. The subject of Gentile circumcision was just one of those issues that tripped some people up. But these people needed to come to a better understanding and acceptance of the truth and change their views, because God would not change the truth just to appease them.

Some people place far more emphasis on “the flesh” (verses 12-13) then they do on the spirit. When we get too focused on outward appearances it skews our perspective, and causes us to loose sight of the things that matter the most in life. As we close today, let’s consider the four following verses written by Paul that show us how God is more concerned about our inward condition and not our outer façade .

“Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but what matters is the keeping of the commandments of God.” (1 Corinthians 7:19)

“But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God.” (Romans 2:27)

“For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but faith working through love.” (Galatians 5:6)

“For neither is circumcision anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation.” (Galatians 6:15)

Please read Galatians 6:14-16 for tomorrow.

Have a great day!

-Louie Taylor

Galatians 6:6-10 (Part 2)

Wednesday, August 01, 2018

“The one who is taught the word is to share all good things with the one who teaches him. Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.”

---End of Scripture verses---

Although this statement is true across the board, many people think that “whatever a man sows, this he will also reap” (verse 7) is said specifically in relation to what was written in verse 6. If that is the case then Paul is saying that the ways that we use our money has eternal consequences. There are several good uses for our financial blessings, and one is to “share” them with others, specifically here with faithful teachers and preachers of God’s word.

Paul has more to say in other places about “reaping and sowing” in the financial realm of good stewardship. “Now this I say, he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Corinthians 9:6-7). God loves a big, generous, cheerful heart when we practice charity to those who are in need.

“While we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of faith” (verse 10). Once again, this statement is true across the board, but in the context, this likely refers to “sharing” our wealth with those in need. This is a personal responsibility and not a collective one, so we are going to be judged individually by the ways that we respond to the needs of others. It is clear from this passage that we should be on the look out for opportunities to help anyone of God’s creatures who have fallen upon hard times, but “especially” our brothers and sisters in Christ.

“Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality.” (Romans 12:9-13)

Please read Galatians 6:11-13 for tomorrow.

Have a great day!

Galatians 6:6-10 (Part 1)

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

“The one who is taught the word is to share all good things with the one who teaches him. Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.”

---End of Scripture verses---

“Do not be deceived” (verse 7). From the very beginning of human existence, Satan has used deception to trick people into doing his bidding and forsaking their Creator. Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 11:3, “But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.” Unfortunately, we are often far too easily fooled and far too eager to take the devil’s bait and jump into his traps. Our adversary doesn’t have to work too hard on us when we can be so willing to deceive ourselves.

“God is not mocked” (verse 7). We may be able to fool other people, and even ourselves, but we can never pull one over on God. The Lord is the “God who sees” and knows all things (Genesis 13:16). Vine’s Dictionary defines the word “mock” as follows: “to turn up the nose at, sneer at, treat with contempt.” Paul is not saying that it is impossible to turn our noses up at God in derisive contempt. People do that all the time. He IS telling us, however, that no one can GET AWAY with doing so! Nothing we do will escape the notice and Judgment of God!

“Whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.” Whatever we plant, that is what we will harvest. If we plant corn, we will grow corn. If we plant peppers, we will grow peppers. If we sow to “the flesh” then we must “from the flesh reap corruption” (verse 8). “The flesh” is inherently corrupt. If we are determined to indulge in the “deeds of the flesh” (5:19-21), we will reap the eternal destruction and corruption that proceeds from that kind of lifestyle. Do not be deceived. Even a Christian “will not inherit the kingdom of God” (5:21) if he “sows to the wind”.

The bottom line is that we cannot escape the consequences of our choices. If we choose to live lives of sinfulness outside of a covenant with God through obedience to Christ, we will be condemned for eternity. But if we choose to belong to Jesus and follow Him in obedient faith, we “sow to the Spirit” and will reap an eternal life in heaven. But we cannot “grow weary” and “lose heart in doing good” (verse 9). Life in Christ Jesus is an endurance race, and only those who are faithful until death will receive the crown of life (Revelation 2:10).

Just a bit more on this passage before we move on.

Please stay with Galatians 6:6-10 for tomorrow.

Have a blessed day!

-Louie Taylor

Galatians 6:1-5

Monday, July 30, 2018

“Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But each one must examine his own work, and then he will have reason for boasting in regard to himself alone, and not in regard to another. For each one will bear his own load.”

---End of Scripture verses---

Along with helping to restore brothers or sisters in Christ who have been caught in the grasp of sin (verse 1), it is also incumbent upon followers of Christ to “bear one another’s burdens” (verse 2). According to Vine’s Dictionary a “burden” is “a weight, anything pressing on one physically, or that makes a demand on one's resources.” Sometimes the demands of life just get too heavy to bear alone, and we need to help our brethren shoulder their burdens. We can be weighed down by sickness, illness, bereavement; money, marriage, or child-rearing problems, or any number of difficulties.

Paul said that when we bear one another’s burdens we “fulfill the law of Christ.” Many people believe that the law of Christ is simply “the law of love”. When Jesus walked with His disciples upon the earth, “He loved them to the end” or “to the uttermost” (John 13:1). The reason that Christ came to this world was to die for all the people that He created because He loves us so much. Jesus said in John 13:34-35, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

I believe that the law of Christ, in the broader context of inspired revelation, refers to all the commandments given to mankind to obey through the New Testament (Hebrews 1:1-2). But I think that Paul is singling out our responsibilities to our fellowman contained within that law in today’s verses. Love most certainly is the dominant aspect of the law of Christ as Paul pointed out in Galatians 5:14: “For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’” The commands to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, and to love our neighbor as our self are the two greatest commandments to ever exist (Matthew 22:36-40).

While it is vitally important that we help bear one another’s burdens, it is equally imperative that each person “bear his own load” (verse 5). Vine’s Dictionary defines the word “load” as following: “something carried, is always used metaphorically (except in Acts 27:10, of the lading of a ship); of that which, though ‘light,’ is involved in discipleship of Christ.” We all must accept our own responsibilities and carry our own weight, even though there are times when we all need help. There is no contradiction between bearing one another’s burdens and carrying our own load. Paul is merely counterbalancing the command to help with a warning to not enable.

Everyone in the kingdom of Christ is expected to do his own fair share. We will all stand before the Lord on Judgment Day as individual “free moral agents”. We all need to examine ourselves to make certain that each of us is doing our “own work” (verse 4). “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad” (2 Corinthians 5:10).

Please read Galatians 6:6-10 for tomorrow.

Have a great day!

-Louie Taylor

Galatians 5:16-26 (Part 4)

Sunday, July 29, 2018

“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another.”

---End of Scripture verses---

The “fruit of the Spirit” is set in stark contrast to the “deeds of the flesh.” It is interesting to note that the "works" of the flesh are listed as several, individual, sinful “deeds”, while the “fruit” of the Spirit is listed as a single set of attitudes or dispositions. When we use the word “fruit” in a symbolic fashion, that usually reminds us of results, such as the fruit of our labor producing a desirable outcome. The result of being “filled” with the Holy Spirit is not ecstatic utterances of the tongue or uncontrollable gyrations of the body. When we are truly being “led by the Spirit” the evidence will be a beautiful and blessed disposition of heart that manifests itself by righteousness and godly living.

The attributes in this list are referred to as singular “fruit” because God expects us to harvest them all and not cherry-pick the ones that are easiest for us to digest. This collection appropriately begins with “love”, “the characteristic word of Christianity” (Vine’s Dictionary), and ends with “self-control”, the defining aspect of a person who is truly allowing the Spirit to lead him (verse 17). When we read the Spirit-inspired word, we learn that love for God and for our fellow man are the two greatest commandments to be obeyed (Matthew 22:36-40).

From the mindset of “love” as the guiding principle of our lives, we will find “joy” and “peace” even during times of trial and turbulence. We will attempt to exhibit “patience” with people and treat them with “kindness” and “gentleness”, understanding that God has dealt patiently and kindly with us, even when we did not deserve it. With all “faithfulness” and “goodness” we will earnestly endeavor to serve the Lord and “to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God” (Colossians 1:10).

A lack of “self-control” is usually the number one source of difficulties in most people’s lives. If we can learn to keep that guy in the mirror in line, most of our problems will vanish away. We need to practice self-control in all areas of our lives. We need to learn tongue-control, eye-control, lust-control, anger-control, etc. The only way to cultivate an environment for and develop the skill of self-control, is to spend considerable time in the word of God that is able to save our souls and transform our lives (Romans 12:1-2). That is the only way to “walk by the Spirit.” If we live (eternally) by the Spirit, then we must walk (intentionally) by the Spirit on a minute-by-minute basis (verse 26).

Please read Galatians 6:1-5 for tomorrow.

Have a blessed Lord’s Day!

-Louie Taylor

Galatians 5:16-26 (Part 3)

Saturday, July 28, 2018

“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another.”

---End of Scripture verses---

“The deeds of the flesh are evident” (verse 19). The word “evident” means “manifest”, “clear”, “visible”, “obvious”. That the sins on this list are “works” or “deeds of the flesh” should be a surprise to no one. These things are clearly carnal, fleshly transgressions that are antagonistic to our spiritual relationship with God, and that proceed from the base, corrupted part of our makeup.

The sins listed in verses 19-21 are divided into four categories. The first category is sins of sexuality which include “immorality, impurity and sensuality”. The second grouping consists of “religious” sins: “idolatry, and sorcery” (or witchcraft). The third class of infractions is sins against our fellowman. They consist of “strife, jealousy, outburst of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions”. The final category is sins of “indulgence” and include “drunkenness, carousing” (or “partying”).

“And things like these” (verse 21). Just because our “favorite sin” is not named in this list does not mean that we are walking by the Spirit and not indulging in the deeds of the flesh. Paul could have compiled a much lengthier list of vices here, but he identified 15 by name to represent all the “deeds of the flesh” that will condemn us eternally if we practice such things. He says clearly that “those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

Paul compiled another list of sins in his first letter to the Corinthians and arrived at the same conclusion: “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.” (1 Corinthians 6:9-11)

The bottom line is that when we get caught up in a sin (any sin) that we refuse to let go of, turn from, repent of and beg forgiveness for, we will be spiritually lost, severed from Christ (verse 4). This letter was written to Christians. Paul was writing to baptized believers who had been washed in the blood of Christ (Galatians 3:27). Do not be deceived! If a Christian chooses to live like the devil on earth, he will not reign with the Father in heaven! Self-deception is the worst kind of deception! “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires” (verse 24).
Stay with Galatians 5:16-26 for one more day. We will look at “the fruit of the Spirit” tomorrow Lord willing.

Have a blessed day!

-Louie Taylor

Galatians 5:16-26 (Part 2)

Friday, July 27, 2018

“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another.”

---End of Scripture verses---

What does it mean to “not carry out the desire of the flesh” (verse 16)? “Flesh” is the Greek word “sarx”, and it can mean many different things depending on the context in which it is used. Often it is simply used with reference to the human body. Other times it refers to “human nature”, or the “essence” of what it means to be a human being. As with today’s context, the word is also set in opposition to the spiritual part of man that strives to do right and please God. In this sense, to live in “the flesh” is to give oneself over to the baser desires, and to be governed by carnality and sinful lusts.

If you are reading from the New International Version of the Bible, that word “sarx” is nearly always rendered “the sinful nature.” While there is a part of us as “fallen” human beings that “naturally” tends to gravitate toward making sinful choices and gratify the desires of “the flesh”, it is not true that people are born “naturally sinful”. God created humans in His own spiritual image (Genesis 9:6), and not in the “depraved” image of our adversary, Satan. 1 John 3:4 tells us, “Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness.” Sin is something wrong that is “committed” or something right that is “omitted”. Sin is a transgression of law and not an inheritable trait.

The spiritual part of us that is led by the Holy Spirit and that wants to please God, is “in opposition” to the “fleshly” part of us that wants to do things that only please ourselves (verse 17). Vine’s dictionary tells us that the Greek word for “in opposition” means “to lie opposite to, to be set over against,” and that the noun form of this verb means “an adversary”. There is “antagonism” between the weakness of our flesh and our willingness to follow the Holy Spirit’s revelation. In other words, our weak flesh is waging war against our willing spirit.

Anyone of us who has ever lost his temper and said something hurtful after having previously determined to never do a thing like that again, can testify to this truth. But as long as we keep taking the battle to the enemy and putting up a firm resistance to those “outbursts of anger” (verse 20), and other “deeds of the flesh”, we will ultimately win the war. If we are fighting the good fight of faith as good soldiers in the Lord’s army we are promised the ultimate victory (1 John 5:4).

Peter tells us in 1 Peter 2:11-12, “Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul. Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation.” We can see that it is important, not only for our own soul’s security, but also for the salvation of the lost people that we can have influence over, that we put up a strong fight of resistance against these fleshly lusts. God wants us to set a good example for other people to see and follow (Matthew 5:14-16).

There is so much at stake as we conduct our daily walk of life! Let’s make certain that we are following the Spirit’s lead and not the fulfilling the deeds of the flesh!

We will stay in Galatians 5:16-26 for tomorrow and also Sunday most likely.

Have a great day!

-Louie Taylor

Galatians 5:16-26 (Part 1)

Thursday, July 26, 2018

“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another.”

---End of Scripture verses---

What does it mean to “walk by the Spirit” (verse 16)? It means to allow the Holy Spirit to guide and direct the way that we live our lives. How does He do that? The Holy Spirit will only wield His influence over us when we spend ample time reading His revelation, and allowing that powerful, sharp, active, living world to shape, influence and transform our lives (Romans 12:1-2; 1 Corinthians 2:10-13; Hebrews 4:12; 1 Peter 1:21).

When we are “led by the Spirit” (verse 18), we “walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7). “Faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17). When we let “the word of Christ richly dwell in” us (Colossians 3:16), we welcome the Holy Spirit into our hearts, and minds and that produces all manner of good “fruit” (verse 22).

Paul repeatedly used the metaphor of “walking” in his letter to the Ephesians to illustrate what the Spirit-led life looks like on a daily basis. In Ephesians 2:10, he tells us that we should walk in “good works”. As our Lord Jesus “went about doing good” (Acts 10:38), so we should follow in our Savior’s footsteps. In Ephesians 4:1-2 Paul says we must walk “with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love.”

In Ephesians 5:1-2, we learn that the life led by the Holy Spirit is a sacrificial life: “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.” To live by the Spirit is to walk circumspectly and make the most of the opportunities that God has given us in our earthly lives: “Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil.” (Ephesians 5:15-16)

These verses are way too rich to just zip through.

Let’s linger in Galatians 5:16-26 for tomorrow and the next few days if the Lord is willing.

Have a blessed day!

-Louie Taylor

Galatians 5:13-15

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

“For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ But if you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another.”

---End of Scripture verses---

Paul was actually battling two extreme errors in his letter to the Galatian Christians. There was an element among the brethren who wanted to “bind” and “enslave” them to strict keeping of parts of the Law of Moses. To those brethren Paul stressed the importance of the “liberty” and “freedom” that faith in Christ Jesus provided them. On the other end of the spectrum were the brethren who endeavored to use their “freedom” as a license for loose living. Paul warned this element to not turn their “freedom into an opportunity for the flesh” (verse 13). There was likely even a convergence of these two mindsets.

The liberty that God offers through faith in Christ is not a “green light” to do just as we please. The Lord offered himself up for us to provide freedom FROM sin, not freedom TO sin. God’s salvation is a gift that cannot be received by “faith only” or “belief only”. God’s indescribable gift obligates us to live righteous lives in obedience to His commandments, and to “serve one another” in love. All of God’s laws that govern our behavior toward our fellow human beings are fulfilled when we love our neighbor as we love our self (verse 14).

What some of the churches of Christ in the region of Galatia were going through, unfortunately, is the same thing that some congregations experience in America still today. They were “biting and devouring” one another instead of loving and edifying each other. Instead of putting on the whole armor of God and taking the battle to the enemy, they were more interested in fighting each other like feral animals. When Christians insult and degrade one another, and spread and listen to gossip and vicious rumors about each other, no one wins but the adversary. If not corrected in a timely manner, congregations and immortal souls are “consumed” by this type of carnal warfare (verse 15).

Let’s remember Paul’s admonition in Galatians 6:10 - “So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.”

Please read Galatians 5:16-26 for tomorrow.

Lord willing we will actually spend a couple of days on these remarkable verses.

Have a great day!

-Louie Taylor

Galatians 5:7-12

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

“You were running well; who hindered you from obeying the truth? This persuasion did not come from Him who calls you. A little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough. I have confidence in you in the Lord that you will adopt no other view; but the one who is disturbing you will bear his judgment, whoever he is. But I, brethren, if I still preach circumcision, why am I still persecuted? Then the stumbling block of the cross has been abolished. I wish that those who are troubling you would even mutilate themselves.”

---End of Scripture verses---

The Galatian brethren were running the “Christian race” quite well until the false teachers tripped them up and caused them to stumble. They had been “obeying the truth” in faith and godliness, but were “hindered” or “impeded” from doing so by the influence of those who wanted to enslave them to the Law of Moses. We learn from verse 7 that the truth (a.k.a. “the Gospel”, “the doctrine of Christ”, God’s revelation) is something to be OBEYED as well as BELIEVED. When we are believers only and not doers of the word, we delude ourselves (James 1:22), and sever ourselves from Christ (verse 4).

“A little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough” (verse 9). Just the tiniest bit of false doctrine completely corrupts the truth. The Apostle John tells us that “no lie is of the truth” (1 John 2:21). Once the pristine doctrine of Christ has been tainted with a lie, it becomes “a different gospel, which is really not another” gospel (Galatians 1:6-7). The false teachers convinced the Galatian Christians that they needed to be circumcised and observe Jewish holy days in order to please God. That seemingly insignificant addition corrupted their faith and condemned their souls.

God stresses in the Bible that people must strictly follow His commandments in truth and obedience, and that nothing should be added to or taken away from His word (Deuteronomy 4:2; Revelation 22:19). Even additions that seem harmless will cause great damage and engender God’s rejection. Once you open the door for doctrinal error, there is no telling how far you will deviate from the truth. But the main point Paul is making in today’s verses is that it doesn’t matter how far you deviate. Once you’ve taken the first step off the straight and narrow path, it is a disastrous step too far.

Paul wrote that he wished the false teachers who were troubling the brethren “would even mutilate themselves” (verse 12). He is saying that, since these brethren placed so much significance on circumcision, he wanted them just to go ahead and take the circumcision knife and castrate themselves. Some people think that Paul is simply using hyperbole here to emphasize his point, and that he would not wish anyone actual physical harm, but I’m not so sure about that.

The purity of the Gospel is so enormously and eternally important, that it is even more crucial than our physical wellbeing. Anyone who would “suppress the truth in unrighteousness” is the object of God’s divine wrath (Romans 1:18). It would have been much more desirable for these false teachers to castrate themselves and lose their influence by violating the Law of Moses that they were hawking (Deuteronomy 23:1); than for them to remain physically whole and condemn themselves and their followers to an eternity in hell.

On a happier note, Paul had confidence in the brethren that they would do the right thing in the Lord (verse 10)! 

Please read Galatians 5:13-15 for tomorrow.

Blessings!

-Louie Taylor

Galatians 5:1-6

Monday, July 23, 2018

“It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery. Behold I, Paul, say to you that if you receive circumcision, Christ will be of no benefit to you. And I testify again to every man who receives circumcision, that he is under obligation to keep the whole Law. You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace. For we through the Spirit, by faith, are waiting for the hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but faith working through love.”

---End of Scripture verses---

In today’s verses, Paul talks about the consequences of reverting back to the Law of Moses. Paul had just taught, by means of allegory, that Christians are the spiritual children of the “free woman,” Sarah (chapter 4, verses 21-31). Now he encourages his readers to “keep standing firm” in that “freedom” (verse 1). To go back to the Mosaical Law is to willingly don an oppressive “yoke of slavery”.

Peter spoke about this overbearing burden at the “Jerusalem Conference” in Acts 15:10, where it was decreed that circumcision was not necessary for salvation: “Now therefore why do you put God to the test by placing upon the neck of the disciples a yoke which neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear?”

Paul tells us today that if someone should “receive circumcision” as an aspect of the Law of Moses, he would be “under obligation to keep the whole Law” (verse 3). God’s laws are not “smorgasbords” to be selected from. We cannot “cherry pick” the parts that we like, and ignore the aspects that are unpalatable to us. Even with an outdated and replaced law such as the Law of Moses.

The truth be told though, even if someone tried to keep the whole Law, he would fall short and be condemned by it. The Law could only save a person if he were to keep it perfectly. Once any aspect of God’s law is broken, His saving grace is required through Jesus Christ for eternal salvation. To revert back to a dead Law, and attempt to be circumcised as a requirement for salvation, would make Christ and His sacrifice “of no benefit to you” (verse 2), and cause you to be “severed from Christ” (verse 4).

No sterner or more frightening words could ever be written. Christ is our all-sufficient Savior and we dare not look any further than the New Testament for God’s plan of salvation. If a person “goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of Christ” (2 John 1:9), he rejects God’s saving grace through Jesus and His revelation, and is cut off from the Lord! Yes, it is possible for a Christian to “fall from grace” (verse 4). One way to do that is to seek “to be justified by law.”

The only thing that is required to please God and save our souls is “faith working through love” (verse 6). To understand the true meaning of this statement we must recognize that, to love Jesus is to keep His commandments (John 14:15-24). A great parallel for verse 6 is what the Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 7:19: “Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God.”

Please read Galatians 5:7-12 for tomorrow.

Have a blessed day!

-Louie Taylor

Galatians 4:21-31

Sunday, July 22, 2018

“Tell me, you who want to be under law, do you not listen to the law? For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the bondwoman and one by the free woman. But the son by the bondwoman was born according to the flesh, and the son by the free woman through the promise. This is allegorically speaking, for these women are two covenants: one proceeding from Mount Sinai bearing children who are to be slaves; she is Hagar. Now this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. But the Jerusalem above is free; she is our mother. For it is written,
"‘REJOICE, BARREN WOMAN WHO DOES NOT BEAR; BREAK FORTH AND SHOUT, YOU WHO ARE NOT IN LABOR; FOR MORE NUMEROUS ARE THE CHILDREN OF THE DESOLATE THAN OF THE ONE WHO HAS A HUSBAND.’
"And you brethren, like Isaac, are children of promise. But as at that time he who was born according to the flesh persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, so it is now also. But what does the Scripture say?
"‘CAST OUT THE BONDWOMAN AND HER SON, FOR THE SON OF THE BONDWOMAN SHALL NOT BE AN HEIR WITH THE SON OF THE FREE WOMAN.’ So then, brethren, we are not children of a bondwoman, but of the free woman.”

---End of Scripture verses---

Since Abraham was revered as the father of the Jewish race, Paul used his two sons, Ishmael and Isaac, to illustrate the differences that exist between, and the effects that are produced by, the Law of Moses and faith in Christ. The first son, Ishmael, was Abraham’s child by purely natural, physical means. The second son, Isaac, was a part of the fulfillment of God’s promise that Abraham’s descendants would be a great nation and that, through his seed, all nations would be blessed. Ishmael represents the physical lineage of Abraham who obstinately clung to the Law of Moses for justification. Isaac represents the spiritual descendants of Abraham who have accepted the promises of God that are fulfilled by faith in Christ Jesus.

Ishmael was born to Abraham through Hagar, Sarah’s “bond woman” or slave (Genesis 16:1). Isaac was born to Abraham through Sarah, his wife and “free woman”. Both sons had the same father but had different legal standing because of the status of each child’s mother. The bondwoman’s son was born (or conceived) “according to the flesh” (verse 23). That is to say, she conceived him according to the natural laws of conception without the supernatural intervention of God. But Isaac was brought into the world miraculously by God “through the promise” that He had made to Abraham (verse 23). Abraham and Sarah were well past the age for natural childbirth and Sarah’s womb was “barren” (Genesis 18:11; Romans 4:19). 

“These women are the two covenants” (verse 24). Hagar and her child represent God’s covenant with Israel “inaugurated” on Mount Sinai when He gave Moses the Ten Commandments and the full Law of Moses that they represented. Just as surely as Hagar was a bondwoman and her children were destined to be servants, so the Law only offers slavery to those who are “begotten” by it (verse 25). Law only condemns people and cannot save them, therefore it renders them as slaves to sin. Mount Sinai is located in “Arabia and corresponds to the present Jerusalem” (verse 25). Since Arabia was the land given to Ishmael’s descendants, this ties physical Israel (those who cling to the Law of Moses) to Ishmael rather than to Isaac. 

On the other hand, Abraham’s covenant wife, Sarah, was supernaturally blessed with her child, Isaac, according to God’s immutable promise. Sarah represents “the Jerusalem above” (verse 26). This “heavenly Jerusalem (Hebrews 12:22-23) is the church of Jesus Christ. It is the fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham that all nations would be blessed through his seed, Jesus; and it is “free” from the slavery of sin and the bondage of law. Christians, who seek justification through faith in the Lord, and not perfect obedience to the Law, “like Isaac, are children of the promise” (verse 28). We are “not children of the bondwoman, but of the free woman” (verse 31). 
Hagar – The bondwoman – Ishmael – The child of the flesh – The Old Covenant –The Law of Moses – Bondage – Earthy Jerusalem
Sarah – The free woman – Isaac – The child of promise – The New Covenant – Faith in Christ Jesus – Freedom – Heavenly Jerusalem
As Hagar and her son were “cast out” of the household of Abraham because Ishmael abused Isaac (Genesis 21:10), so the brethren in Galatia were to “drive out” the “Judaizers” who troubled them with their false doctrine (verse 30). 

Please read Galatians 5:1-6 for tomorrow.

Have a blessed Lord’s Day!

-Louie Taylor

Galatians 4:16-20

Saturday, July 21, 2018

“So have I become your enemy by telling you the truth? They eagerly seek you, not commendably, but they wish to shut you out so that you will seek them. But it is good always to be eagerly sought in a commendable manner, and not only when I am present with you. My children, with whom I am again in labor until Christ is formed in you — but I could wish to be present with you now and to change my tone, for I am perplexed about you.”

---End of Scripture verses---

At one point in time the Galatians had received Paul as “an angel from God” and even “as Christ Jesus himself” (verse 14). They would have given their own eyes for him if that had been a necessity and possibility (verse 15). In other words, they really loved, respected and appreciated Paul and his teaching. But now, somehow, their attitude toward him and opinion of him had changed. And it was actually because he had been “telling them the truth” about their spiritual decline (verse 16).

Far too often it is the case that people just don’t like to hear the truth. And when someone with their best interests at heart tells them what they NEED but do not WANT to hear, they despise the messenger instead of being honest with themselves. But you know what? We still need to SPEAK and HEAR the truth just the same. No matter how badly it hurts to hear, the truth is still the truth. Don’t stone the messenger. Take an honest look at the person in the mirror and make the necessary changes.

Paul was willing to risk becoming the ENEMIES of his brethren in order to try and SAVE his brethren. Paul was trying to form Christ in them all over again (verse 19). This meant that they had lost their first love (Revelation 2:4), and had fallen from God’s saving grace (Galatians 5:4). Yes, Christians can, by disobedience and faithlessness, lose the salvation that they had gained by obedience and faith. In spite of the fact that Paul loved his brethren in Christ, he would not tickle their ears with pleasant words. In fact, he spoke to them in this harsh manner precisely BECAUSE he loved them.

He wished that he could actually talk to them face-to-face instead of by letter so that he could “change his tone” (verse 20). If he was with them personally, maybe he could convince and convict them of the truth and elicit their repentance so that he could talk to them less severely. He didn’t enjoy the tough love he was administering, even though it was necessary. Unfortunately, while Paul was out of their sight, he was also out of their minds (verse 18). We must be careful to do the right things all of the time, not just when certain people that we respect are watching and can see what we are doing.

We walk by faith, not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7). Our God is out of sight (physically), but we dare not let Him slip out of mind.

Please read the allegory in Galatians 4:21-31 for tomorrow.

Have a great day!

-Louie Taylor

Galatians 4:12-15

Friday, July 20, 2018

“I beg of you, brethren, become as I am, for I also have become as you are. You have done me no wrong; but you know that it was because of a bodily illness that I preached the gospel to you the first time; and that which was a trial to you in my bodily condition you did not despise or loathe, but you received me as an angel of God, as Christ Jesus Himself. Where then is that sense of blessing you had? For I bear you witness that, if possible, you would have plucked out your eyes and given them to me.”

---End of Scripture verses---

Paul wanted his Galatian brethren to become as he was. He was literally “begging” them to take the same stance toward the Law of Moses that he had taken. When working among the Galatians, Paul had laid aside all his Jewish practices, traditions and privileges, and lived according to the norms and customs of the Gentiles in order to win them over to the Lord and help them grow in the faith.

It discouraged him greatly that they were now following the poor example of people who did not have their best interests at heart. False teachers were leading them down a path of sinfulness and error by helping them revert to the defunct and inferior Law of Moses. Paul wanted his brethren to “Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1).

“You have done me no wrong” (verse 12). The brethren had treated Paul kindly and had accepted him with open arms when he worked among them in the past. As a matter of fact, they had received him “as an angel of God,” and even “as Christ Jesus Himself” (verse 14). But now they were treating him as an “enemy” (verse 16).

When he preached the gospel to them the “first time” (verse 13), he did so with some sort of “bodily illness”. Even though others may have been repulsed by the sight of Paul and unaffected by his teaching, the brethren in Galatia embraced him and his doctrine. They thought so highly of him that they would have given him their eyes if that had been a possibility (verse 15). This figure of speech has led many to believe that Paul’s malady had something to do with his eyes.

We can’t be certain what Paul’s physical infirmity actually was, but the main point is that they gladly received the truth of the Gospel in spite of the affliction of the preacher. Now they were allowing purely human influence to lead them down the path of destruction! Paul only wanted to win their affection back to himself so that he could direct their devotion back to the truth and to the Lord. Please don’t allow your affection to any person keep you from dedicating your life to serving the Lord in obedience to the truth!

Please read Galatians 4:16-20 for tomorrow.

Have a great day!

-Louie Taylor

Galatians 4:8-11

Thursday, July 19, 2018

“However at that time, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those which by nature are no gods. But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how is it that you turn back again to the weak and worthless elemental things, to which you desire to be enslaved all over again? You observe days and months and seasons and years. I fear for you, that perhaps I have labored over you in vain.”

---End of Scripture verses---

In verse 7 Paul directed the minds of the Gentile Christians back to the time before they came to Christ when they worshiped idols. He said that these idols were really “by nature” not gods (verse 1). They were formed from wood or iron by the hands of men. Their crafters gave them eyes that could not see, mouths that could not talk, ears that could not hear (Psalm 15:4-8; Isaiah 44:9-20).

And even though these pathetic idols were worthless and powerless, the Gentiles were still “slaves” to their own creations (verse 1). This is actually, to a great degree, a testimony to the human condition. We have the tendency to enslave ourselves to the most menial and insignificant things. We can find ourselves wasting countless hours watching silly TV shows, playing games, surfing the web, etc. Recreation and entertainment are blessings that add a lot of value to our lives, until we allow those things to consume our lives and become idols that enslave us.

Paul told the Gentiles Christians in Galatia that when they allowed false teachers to convince them that it was necessary to observe Jewish holy days (verse 10), and various other aspects of the Law of Moses, they were actually turning back to the types of “weak and worthless elemental things” that had previously enslaved them when they had been idolaters. An inspired Apostle of Jesus Christ is telling us here that, if we worship God according to the pattern revealed in the Old Testament, we are no more approved in the Lord’s sight than an idolater would be.

Just think about that for a moment. The Old Testament is simply not the source of authority that Christians should go to in order to determine what God desires and demands in Christ’s church. The Old Testament is still the revealed word of God, and we can learn a lot of valuable information from it. It is an inspired historical account of Creation, it tells of the lives of our spiritual “forefathers”, the lineage of Jesus, the promises of God, His characteristics and attributes, and it reveals the type of hearts and behaviors that God requires of His people (1 Corinthians 10:11).

Yes, we can and should still learn from the Old Testament and gain encouragement, perseverance and hope by reading about God’s power, goodness and faithfulness (Romans 15:4). But we are not bound to it by covenant like the Jews and proselytes were before Christ came into the world. Christians are bound by covenant to the authority of the New Testament.

Please read Galatians 4:12-15 for tomorrow.

Have a great day!

-Louie Taylor

Galatians 4:1-7

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

“Now I say, as long as the heir is a child, he does not differ at all from a slave although he is owner of everything, but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by the father. So also we, while we were children, were held in bondage under the elemental things of the world. But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’ Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God.”

---End of Scripture verses---
Paul had written in the previous verse, “if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise.” In today’s verses he develops the idea of a child being an heir to show us that God’s children reach their maturity and receive their inheritance through faith in Jesus Christ. The main point being made is that people in the world (both Jews and Gentiles) were “in bondage under the elemental things of the world” (verse 3), before Christ died for the world and brought us salvation by faith.

Paul compared Israel to a child under the care of guardians (similar to the situation with the tutor in Galatians 3:24-25) when they were bound under the Law of Moses. They were considered children who had the legal status of a “slave” before they reached the age of maturity in Christ Jesus, and received the full rights of son-ship. Israel was “also” (verse 3) in a similar state as the Gentiles were with their “rudimentary” religious practices (verse 4).

In Colossians 2:8 Paul referred to “philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men” as the “elementary principles of the world.” Also in that same context he called the observance of Jewish dietary restrictions, and the observance of the Sabbath day and various holy days as “a mere shadow” and “rudimentary principles of the world” (Colossians 2:14-17, 20-23). All “sacred” practices and observances that existed before the coming of Christ were just the “A B C’s” of religion. They were just “elementary school” before “graduating” to the most excellent things.

But, “when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law” so that “we”, all Jews and Gentiles “might receive the adoption as sons.” (verses 4-5) In Christ Jesus, all the inferior, “elementary”, “rudimentary” things and their “bondage” have been cast aside and all who accept Him in obedient faith can rightly call God their “Abba! Father!”

That’s intimacy with God to its greatest degree folks! To be an “heir” of God. To be able to call Him “Abba”, much like a Jewish child would refer to his father, but a slave had no right to. Only through the Gospel. Only through Jesus. Only through a covenant relationship in Him.

Please read Galatians 4:8-11 for tomorrow.

Have a blessed day!

-Louie Taylor

Galatians 3:23-29

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

But before faith came, we were kept in custody under the law, being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed. Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's descendants, heirs according to promise.”

---End of Scripture verses---

Before “the faith” came, that is to say, the Gospel that proclaims and produces faith in Christ, people were kept “in custody under the law, being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed” (verse 23). In the previous verse Paul wrote that, “the Scripture has shut up everyone under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe” (verse 22).

Taken together we learn that people were “shut up” or “kept in bondage” under sin and under law until Christ came to provide release. Paul explains the relationship between sin and law and the victory in Jesus in 1 Corinthians 15:56-57: “The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

“The law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ” (verse 24). The “tutor” or “schoolmaster” was a much different position in first century Roman and Greek culture than what most of us are familiar with today.

Quoting Mike Willis in his commentary: “The paidagogos was a slave who was charged with attending an upper-class boy during his years before reaching maturity. He had the duty of conducting the boy to and from school, although he had not responsibilities as the teacher; rather, his job was to take the boy to the teacher. The paidagogos was responsible for the conduct of the boy under his care and, therefore, became a stern enforcer of morals. The boy was seldom allowed to get out of the sight of his paidagogos. Once the boy reached his maturity, he no longer needed a paidagogos but then obtained his freedom.”

Galatians by Mike Willis, Truth Commentaries, © Guardian of Truth Foundation 1994, pages 163-164

There have been many comparisons made between the “tutor” and “the Law”, but the main point Paul makes here is that Christ has released us from the “custody” of the Law, just as a boy was freed from the authority of his schoolmaster when he reached the age of maturity. The context speaks of a singular historic event that took place in the past, and that has a lasting effect on humanity and mankind’s relationship with God. When Christ brought “the faith of the Gospel” (Philippians 1:27) into the world, He fulfilled and replaced the Law of Moses (Romans 10:4).

“For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus” (verse 27). We become God’s children, not by faithful adherence to the Old Testament and the Law of Moses, but by obedient faith to Christ Jesus and to “the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints” (Jude 1:3). We receive our “introduction” into “The Faith” when we believe in Jesus, repent of our sins, and are “baptized into Christ” for the forgiveness of sins (verse 27, Acts 2:38). When we are baptized “into” Christ, we enter into a covenant relationship with Him, and we “clothe” ourselves with Him. That is to say, we intentionally “put on” His traits, behaviors, virtues and qualities.

When we have done this (put Him on in baptism), and when we continue to do this (further adopt His qualities and Characteristics), then we truly “are Abraham’s descendants” and “heirs according to the promise” (verse 29)! 
These truths will prevail forever, no matter who reigns temporarily as kings and presidents on earth!

Please read Galatians 4:1-7 for tomorrow.

Have a great day!

-Louie Taylor

Galatians 3:19-22

Monday, July 16, 2018

“Why the Law then? It was added because of transgressions, having been ordained through angels by the agency of a mediator, until the seed would come to whom the promise had been made. Now a mediator is not for one party only; whereas God is only one. Is the Law then contrary to the promises of God? May it never be! For if a law had been given which was able to impart life, then righteousness would indeed have been based on law. But the Scripture has shut up everyone under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.”

---End of Scripture verses---

In today’s verses, Paul speaks to the inferiority of the Law of Moses in comparison with the promise (covenant) that God made with Abraham, and that found its fulfillment in Christ Jesus. If there had ever been a law that was able to “impart life”, then it most surely would have been the Law of Moses (verse 21). But, that is not what law was designed to do. Law only condemns someone when they violate it, and leaves them in need of pardon, forgiveness and restoration. Even in our secular legal system, when we violate the law, we can pay the proper penalty or serve the associated time, but the law still cannot clear our name, and we remain on the books as a “law breaker”.

The Law is inferior to faith because it was “added” to the covenant and therefore supplementary to it. The law was added “because of transgressions”. It was provided to reveal what sin is (Romans 3:20), and to be a deterrent for sin (1 Timothy 1:9-10). The Law of Moses is also inferior because it was intended, from the beginning, to be a temporary measure. It was added “until the seed would come to whom the promise had been made.” Since Christ has been identified as “the Seed” (verse 16), the duration of the Law of Moses was from its enactment by God on Mount Sinai, until Christ fulfilled it and ended it (Romans 10:4) by keeping it perfectly and dying for everyone who could not.

The Law is inferior, as well, because it was “ordained through angels” (Deuteronomy 33:2; Acts 7:38, 53; Hebrews 2:2-3), and given by means of a mediator (Moses). God conveyed His covenant directly to Abraham, whereas, the Law was given to Israel through two layers of separation. “God is one” (verse 20). He acted alone in granting His promise and covenant to Abraham unconditionally, whereas, there were two conflicting parties (God and Israel) involved in the giving and receiving of the Law of Moses through mediation.

“The Scripture has shut up everyone under sin” (verse 22). The Law did not grant life and freedom, but confined everyone to the death and prison of their sins. Paul wrote similarly in Romans 3:19, “Now we know that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those who are under the Law, so that every mouth may be closed and all the world may become accountable to God.” But God did so only to show people that everyone needs His grace, mercy and forgiveness through faith. He extended these blessings when he gave Christ Jesus “to those who believe”.

Please read Galatians 3:23-29 for tomorrow.

Have a great day!

-Louie Taylor

Galatians 3:15-18

Sunday, July 15, 2018

“Brethren, I speak in terms of human relations: even though it is only a man's covenant, yet when it has been ratified, no one sets it aside or adds conditions to it. Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say, ‘And to seeds,’ as referring to many, but rather to one, ‘And to your seed,’ that is, Christ. What I am saying is this: the Law, which came four hundred and thirty years later, does not invalidate a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to nullify the promise. For if the inheritance is based on law, it is no longer based on a promise; but God has granted it to Abraham by means of a promise.”

---End of Scripture verses---

Quoting Mike Willis in his commentary on Paul’s letter to the Galatians for today:

“Paul continues his defense of the gospel of justification by grace through faith by demonstrating that the promise of justification through the seed of Abraham was not altered by the giving of the Law on Mt. Sinai 430 years after the covenant was made. The promise was made independently of the Law; it was a covenant between God and Abraham. The nature of even a human agreement is such that neither party has the liberty of imposing conditions upon the other after the covenant is made. By demonstrating that the promise was made prior to the Law and that justification is based on the covenant given to Abraham, Paul shows that our justification is not based on perfect obedience to the Law of Moses.

“The covenant with Abraham was centered around the Messianic promise. Anyone familiar with the Messianic prophecies of the Old Testament or the writings of the Jews of the first century is aware that God’s covenant with Abraham centered around the promise of a Messiah. That God’s covenant with Abraham included the salvation of men through the Messiah was stated by Paul in v. 8. When God spoke to Abraham saying, ‘In thee shall all nations be blessed,’ he foretold, ‘that God would justify the heathen by faith’ (v. 8). Hence, the covenant that God made with Abraham in the beginning was clearly aimed at the salvation of the world through a descendant of Abraham. The covenant that God made with Abraham was not fulfilled at the death of Abraham, for it included his seed as well; the seed to which God referred was Christ.

“In many of the passages of Genesis in which a reference is made to Abraham’s seed in giving the covenant, the primary interest of the passage was the land promise (that the land of Canaan would be given to Abraham’s descendants). However, Israel understood the covenant that God made with Abraham to include more than the making of a great nation from his descendants and the giving of the land of Canaan to his posterity. Israel did not conclude that God’s covenant with Abraham was completely fulfilled when Joshua led them to conquer the land of Canaan. The covenant that God made with Abraham was fulfilled in the sending of the Christ to die for the sins of mankind in order that all nations of the world might receive salvation through his blood (‘in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed’).”

Galatians by Mike Willis, Truth Commentaries, © Guardian of Truth Foundation 1994, pages 143-144

Please read Galatians 3:19-22 for tomorrow.

Have a blessed Lord’s Day!

-Louie Taylor

Galatians 3:10-14

Saturday, July 14, 2018

“For as many as are of the works of the Law are under a curse; for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who does not abide by all things written in the book of the law, to perform them.’ Now that no one is justified by the Law before God is evident; for, ‘The righteous man shall live by faith.’ However, the Law is not of faith; on the contrary, He who practices them shall live by them.’ Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us — for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree’ — in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we would receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.”

---End of Scripture verses---

In today’s verses, Paul quotes several verses from the old law to demonstrate that no one can be justified by that law. Deuteronomy 27:26 was quoted to show that the law only “curses” people who do not abide in “all” the things written in it (verse 10). As we’ve noted before, once you’ve broken one law in “the book of the law” you are guilty of the whole law and condemned by it (James 2:10). The law only condemns and cannot save. That’s why God had planned from eternity to send Jesus into the world as the Savior that every single person needs (Ephesians 3:11).

God has always has, and will always, save people by their obedient faith in Him, and not by a system of law-keeping (verse 11). Paul quoted Habakkuk 2:4 to show that the very law the Galatians were reverting to confirmed the truth that “The righteous man shall live by faith,” and not by “the works of the Law”. Leviticus 18:5 was quoted to show that only “he who practices” the laws of God perfectly “shall live by them” eternally, if he is seeking justification by the law and not by faith in God (verse 12).

So, anyone who attempts to be saved, redeemed, justified, proclaimed righteous by keeping God’s law will only be frustrated, lost and cursed, because only by perfect law-keeping can a person achieve that goal. But “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us (verse 13). We still have to keep God’s laws and we will be condemned if we do not try. But, since we will all fall short of keeping them perfectly, we need God’s grace, mercy and forgiveness that He extends to us through faith in His Son Jesus.

“He who is hanged on a tree is accursed of God” (Deuteronomy 21:23). Jesus assumed the curse of God for us when he was crucified on Calvary’s “tree”. When He died for our sins, he “became sin for us.” “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21). Jesus, who committed no sins, paid the penalty that we deserve for our own sins, so that we can live eternally by His sacrifice and blood, and by our obedient faith in Him.

It doesn’t matter if you are a Jew or a Gentile, American, Mexican, German, Russian, Venezuelan, black, brown, tan, white, old, young, middle-aged, male, female. All that matters is that you “receive the promise of the Spirit through faith” (verse 14). Then you will have “the blessings of Abraham” that are given only “in Christ Jesus” (verse 14).

Please read Galatians 3:15-18 for tomorrow.

Have a great day!

-Louie Taylor

Displaying 501 - 550 of 947

Page 1 2 3 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19