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Friday, March 25, 2022

2 THESSALONIANS+—An Illustrated Summary of Life Applications from Every Chapter of the Bible by G. Campbell Morgan

"On every page of the God-breathed writings are many thoughts that stretch out like long, clear arms of light across the darkness, discovering things otherwise hidden and illuminating wider areas than those of the immediate context. They are searchlights. I have selected one in each chapter of Scripture, for at least one central thought in every chapter should arrest the mind and affect the life," wrote G. Campbell Morgan, a skilled, wise, warm-hearted Bible teacher who conducted a classic 3-year study called Life Applications from Every Chapter of the Bible. Here is the fruit of that research—summarized, illustrated, and amplified with useful details—on all 66 books of the Bible (posted one book at a time, cumulatively).
 MATTHEWMARKLUKEJOHN

2 Thessalonians 1:10 "He comes on that day to be glorified in His saints, to be marveled at among all who have believed." Paul's second letter to the Thessalonians came shortly after the first one because of problems that arose.  First, they were concerned that the Lord had already returned. Paul urged them not to become “shaken in mind or alarmed,” fearing that “the Day of the Lord” (2:2) had already come. Second, he admonished them not to be idle, which apparently became a serious issue since he commanded,  “If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat!” (3:10). But to begin with in this first chapter, we learn Paul had been boasting of the Thessalonian congregation to other churches because of their faith in Christ and their love for each other in the face of persecution. Paul reminded them that God would repay their persecutors with the ultimate "punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and the glory of His might." At the same time, Christ at His return will "be marveled at among all who have believed"—by the Thessalonians from long ago, us now, and all who believe up to our Lord's appearing. At that sublime moment, we will be "fashioned anew and conformed to the body of His glory," to quote one of several Christian creeds on the Resurrection, but our focus will be on Him rather than each other. While all this is a radiant description of the goal toward which we travel, should we not also live now that He may be glorified in us daily, and marveled at as the One to whom we owe everything?


2 Thessalonians 2:7 "The mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He  who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way." Paul now addresses the situation of panicky idleness at Thessalonica. It arose because of ridiculous false teaching that the Lord somehow had already returned, but they had missed out.  When Christ returns, "every eye will see Him," as the Book of Revelation tells usPaul states plainly in verse 3 that the Day of the Lord "will not come unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed.”  He could have said next, "It hasn’t happened. Go back to work." But instead, Paul goes into amazing detail. During this age in which we live, "lawlessness is already at work," but it is also true that there is One who restrains that evil work, holding it in check until its final development. Paul apparently meant for us to remember our Lord's description of the Holy Spirit's ministry: convicting the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment. In God's perfect timing, the Spirit's restraining influence will be removed so that evil will work out its final expression to be finally destroyed at the return of Christ. Those who perish will be those who "refused to love the truth and so be saved" (verse 10) and "did not believe the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness" (verse 12). How much more ought we to love the truth now?


2 Thessalonians 3:5 "The Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and the patience of Christ." Paul wraps up this letter beautifully and practically: "Finally, brothers, pray for us, that the Word of the Lord may speed ahead and be honored, as happened among you, and that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men, for not all have faith. But the Lord is faithful: He will establish you and guard you against the evil one. And we have confidence in the Lord ... that you are doing and will do the things that we command. May the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and the patience of Christ." Unless we are careful, our eager anticipation for our absent Lord may degenerate into impatience. Think about Christ's life on earth, especially how patient He was with others. He bore with them then, and He bears with us now! One of our greatest needs in life is patience like His. It comes from the love of God, as Paul states above. Christ worked and waited, secure in His knowledge of His Father's love for Him, and in His love for the Father. That is still the secret of patience.  The measure in which we are sure of the love of God is the measure in which, despite the afflictions of this life, we wait patiently for our Lord to return, trusting in God's perfect timing. Notice Paul said it is the Lord who directs our hearts into this love and patience. This is His work. Let us not hinder Him.


Tuesday, February 22, 2022

1 THESSALONIANS+—An Illustrated Summary of Life Applications from Every Chapter of the Bible by G. Campbell Morgan

"On every page of the God-breathed writings are many thoughts that stretch out like long, clear arms of light across the darkness, discovering things otherwise hidden and illuminating wider areas than those of the immediate context. They are searchlights. I have selected one in each chapter of Scripture, for at least one central thought in every chapter should arrest the mind and affect the life," wrote G. Campbell Morgan, a skilled, wise, warm-hearted Bible teacher who conducted a classic 3-year study called Life Applications from Every Chapter of the Bible. Here is the fruit of that research—summarized, illustrated, and amplified with useful details—on all 66 books of the Bible (posted one book at a time, cumulatively).


1 Thessalonians 1:9-10 "You turned ... to serve ... and to wait." Paul's first letter to the church at Thessalonica in Greece is perhaps the first New Testament letter Paul wrote. He encourages new believers in their faith, exhorts them to godly living, assures them about the eternal state of believers who had died, and defends the integrity of his ministry as an apostle. This first chapter represents a church living out the essentials of the Christian faith. Paul begins by commending these fellow Christians for their faith, love, and hope, which they eagerly shared with the people around them. The word spread, Paul happily reports, about how they "turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come." That is a beautiful and practical example of what true repentance looks like: not just turning from evil, like some mere private reformation, but also turning toward God, patiently trusting and obeying Him for the rest of our lives, knowing He will protect and reward us in due time.

1 Thessalonians 2:7 "We were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children." This merging of trained, intelligent nursing skill with the tender love of a mother for her children is how Paul and his fellow ministers cared for these new believers. As they grew, they received the love of a father as well. Paul reminds them, "You know how, like a father with his children, we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you to walk in a manner worthy of God." Like good parents, these spiritual  mothers and fathers worked day and night so that they would not be a burden on their spiritual children. Their efforts bore good fruit. Paul could write from the heart, "We thank God constantly that  when you heard the Word of God from us, you accepted it not as the word of mere men, but as what it really is: the very Word of God, which is at work in you believers.... What is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at His coming? Is it not you? For you are our glory and joy." Are we investing our lives in the lives of other believers in a way that will make Jesus glad at His return?

1 Thessalonians 3:3 "You yourselves know that we are appointed for this." Paul is referring to afflictions, not only that the Thessalonian believers were experiencing, but also what they were distressed to hear that Paul and company were going through. Surveying the whole Christian movement, he saw suffering everywhere as the result of loyalty to faith in Christ, but he did not think of it merely as something to be endured. He saw God ruling over all. The word appointed above reflects that. As the sufferings of Christ were all "according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God" to accomplish His redemptive purpose, so all the afflictions of those who follow Christ are united in the same fellowship with Him to the glorious culmination of history. Paul received word that these believers were remaining faithful to Christ despite their troubles. His response? "Now we really live since you are standing firm in the Lord! How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy we have in the presence of God because of you?.... Now may our God and Father Himself and our Lord Jesus clear the way for us to come to you. May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you. May He strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus returns with all His holy ones."

1 Thessalonians 4:11-12 "Aspire to live quietly, mind your own business, and work with your hands so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders." This chapter famously covers immediate practical matters like this and also gives a thrilling glimpse of the future when Jesus returns, spelling out how that impacts both the living and the dead. It begins with this clear declaration of God's will: "Abstain from sexual immorality. Each of you must learn to control his own body in holiness and honor ... that no one wrongs his brother or sister in Christ in this matter because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you." That should strike terror in the hearts of the unfaithful, but not the faithful, whom Paul and his co-laborers comfort like this: "Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death.... God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in Him.... The Lord Himself will come down from heaven with a loud command ... and the trumpet call of God. The dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air [an event known as the Rapture]. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage one another with these words."

1 Thessalonians 5:16-17 "Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks." These 3 commands on the last page of this letter correspond with the 3 key marks of the Christian faith that open it: faith, hope, and love. In faith, the Thessalonian believers had turned to the living God from dead, empty idols, giving them cause to "rejoice always." In labors of love they were serving their gracious Lord, which would be sustained by their praying as a way of life without ever abandoning the practice. In their patient hope they were waiting for Jesus to return and make all things right, giving thanks in the midst of all kinds of circumstances, good and bad. Paul also says, "We urge you, brothers and sisters, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone." He later would write something similar to the Galatian Christians: "Let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. As we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, especially to those who are of the household of faith" (Galatians 6:9-10). Paul closes his first apostolic letter with encouragement, writing, "Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; He will surely do it."

Friday, February 18, 2022

COLOSSIANS+—An Illustrated Summary of Life Applications from Every Chapter of the Bible by G. Campbell Morgan

"On every page of the God-breathed writings are many thoughts that stretch out like long, clear arms of light across the darkness, discovering things otherwise hidden and illuminating wider areas than those of the immediate context. They are searchlights. I have selected one in each chapter of Scripture, for at least one central thought in every chapter should arrest the mind and affect the life," wrote G. Campbell Morgan, a skilled, wise, warm-hearted Bible teacher who conducted a classic 3-year study called Life Applications from Every Chapter of the Bible. Here is the fruit of that research—summarized, illustrated, and amplified with useful details—on all 66 books of the Bible (posted one book at a time, cumulatively).

Colossians 1:11 "Strengthened with ... the might of His glory." Colossians is an exceptionally Christ-centered letter. All the New Testament letters are, but this one stands out because of the false teaching about Christ Paul so powerfully addresses here, especially that He is God in human flesh, not a created being: "He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation [not the first created, but the Preeminent One, the Creator]. For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible ... all things have been created by Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. He is also head of the Body, the Church ... the firstborn from the dead.... It was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness [of Deity] to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross." His resurrection power figures into one Paul's most moving prayers, which is in this chapter: "We have not stopped praying for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of God's will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. May you be strengthened with all power, according to the might of His glory, for all endurance and patience with joy." Human glory fades, but God's glory never does. His power is immeasurably great "toward us who believe," as Paul prays in Ephesians 1, for it is the same power "He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead!" Colossians 1 appropriately ends like this: "Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ.  For this I toil, struggling with all His energy that He powerfully works within me."

Colossians 2:2-3 "To reach ... the knowledge of God's mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge." The last word has never yet been spoken about Christ. There is no greater subject, but the subject is never exhausted and never becomes out of date. Nevertheless, through all the intellectual processes, the Lord Jesus finds the heart of man and gives Himself to it so that in Him both heart and mind find rest, joy, and satisfaction. Those who know and love Christ live in daily friendship with Him. They are closer to Him than with their dearest earthly friends, for they tell Him all their griefs and joys, their doubts and hopes, their successes and failures. Christ is indeed the mystery of God, profound in the wonder of His being, yet so real that a young child can speak of Him with familiarity. Paul says next, "I say this that no one may delude you with plausible arguments.... See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition ... and not according to Christ. For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete."

Colossians 3:5 Consider yourselves dead to "immorality ... evil desire, and greed or covetousness, which is idolatry." Paul warns fellow believers against a dark list of evil things that culminates with a strong phrase in the Greek text literally translated as the greed or the covetousness. which he stops to define as idolatry. That surprises many modern readers, who assume sexual sins are so much worse, but the apostle Paul is telling us it is a most deadly form of sin. That should not surprise us since "You shall not covet" is the Tenth Commandment. Paul uses it as an example in Romans 7: "I would not have come to know what sin is except through God's Law, for I would not have known about coveting if the Law had not said, 'You shall not covet.' But sin, taking opportunity through the Commandment, produced in me coveting of every kind." To avoid confusion, Paul clarifies that the Law itself "is holy, and the Commandment is holy, righteous, and good." The Law fulfilled its first function in Paul's life by making him painfully aware of the evil lurking within him and his need for cleansing from the Lawgiver, whose Law reflects His holy nature. That is why Paul says in this chapter, "Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.... Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its Creator.... Put on then—as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved—compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and ... forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony."

Colossians 4:18 "Remember my chains."
 Paul wrote this entire letter while in prison. Surely during the writing it must have seemed as if the dungeon flamed with light from the inspired contents that set one's mind on things above! Paul's practice was to dictate to a secretary who did the actual writing. In this chapter Paul mentions several people who were with him so they, along with Paul's Roman guards, probably heard the contents of this letter before the Colossian church received and read it themselves. He includes this note just for them: "Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ Jesus, greets you, always struggling on your behalf in his prayers, that you may stand mature and fully assured in all the will of God. I bear him witness that he has worked hard." Perhaps he was Paul's secretary. When it was time at the end of the letter for Paul to add his customary signature, "I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand," he added, "Remember my chains." Maybe he felt the weight of the chains tugging on him and craved sympathetic prayers. How close that human touch brings him and his powerful teaching to us all! Paul's final instructions are as vital today as when first written: "Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the Word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison—that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak. Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person."


Friday, February 11, 2022

PHILIPPIANS+—An Illustrated Summary of Life Applications from Every Chapter of the Bible by G. Campbell Morgan

"On every page of the God-breathed writings are many thoughts that stretch out like long, clear arms of light across the darkness, discovering things otherwise hidden and illuminating wider areas than those of the immediate context. They are searchlights. I have selected one in each chapter of Scripture, for at least one central thought in every chapter should arrest the mind and affect the life," wrote G. Campbell Morgan, a skilled, wise, warm-hearted Bible teacher who conducted a classic 3-year study called Life Applications from Every Chapter of the Bible. Here is the fruit of that research—summarized, illustrated, and amplified with useful details—on all 66 books of the Bible (posted one book at a time, cumulatively).


Philippians 1:29 "To you it has been granted not only to believe in Christ, but also to suffer for His sake." Philippians is Paul's great singing letter. It was at Philippi that he and Silas sang in prison despite cruel, unjust treatment, and to great and lasting effects. Now he was again in prison, this time in Rome, writing to "the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi." This letter reveals how apparently adverse circumstances are made allies of the soul and agents of victory under the dominion of Christ. Paul writes, "What has happened to me has really served to advance the Gospel," including among Caesar's imperial guard and household. This chapter includes some of the most beloved verses in Scripture, including, "He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the Day of Jesus Christ," and  "It  is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain." The verse highlighted above makes it clear that living for Christ brings on suffering, but as an honor conferred rather than a burden to be endured. The pain is real and acute, but it brings a sense of joy and gladness that has no equal in human experience from the kinship one experiences with Christ in what He suffered for His people's sake.

Philippians 2:15-16 "In the midst of a crooked and perverse generation you are to shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the Word of life." This image of light describes those who are "blameless and innocent children of God" who, like their Lord, "do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more important" than themselves "without complaining or arguing." The Greek word translated "lights" is used only one other place in the New Testament, in Revelation 21:11 to describe the heavenly city: "Her brilliance was like a very costly gem." Reading further we discover that brilliance is not referring to light diffused, but to light received: "The city has no need of the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb," which is the Lord Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. What the Lamb is to be in final glory, the children of God are today in the sense of shedding true light, which shines brightly in this dark world when the Word of life is lived out and proclaimed. To live by the Word is to shine in such a way that those trapped in darkness may have guidance and help. Are we blameless and innocent, humble, and free from complaints and arguments? We can thank God this chapter also tells us it is our duty to "work out with fear and trembling" what God works in us "to will and to work for His good pleasure."

Philippians 3:7-8 "Whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord." Paul here uses his own spiritual autobiography to engage in a useful mental and spiritual assessment. The two assessments were separated by at least 30 years. The first happened when Christ broke through upon him in all the radiant glory and revolutionary power of His risen life. The second takes place as he writes this letter to the Philippian church in a Roman prison chained to a guard, amid  all the difficulties and trials created by his apostolic ministry. Think of all that happened between those two events! Paul certainly did. Since nothing occurred that altered his first reckoning, the "I count" assessment of his present experience reiterates the  "I counted" of the first. Can we who follow Christ make a similar assessment? We remember the day when spiritual light broke upon us. It was a very real thing that dramatically changed our outlook. It compelled us to reconsider life in all its aspects, one by one. We obeyed God's Word. We turned our backs on all sorts of gains, counting them worthless compared to what we gained in Christ. But what about now? Only when we sincerely express our past decision in terms of the present—the "I counted" as "I count"—is there any real value in the past. We never want to rest on any past experience, but to move forward in accord with it. That is Paul's blessed example to us in this chapter. He says, "One thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus."

Philippians 4:7 "The peace of God, which passes all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus."
 Paul issues a series of commands on dealing with worry: "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything with specific and thankful prayers, make your requests known to God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, my brothers and sisters, whatever is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, and admirable—anything excellent and praiseworthylet your mind dwell on those things. All you have learned, received, heard, and seen in me, practice those things, and the God of peace will be with you." Paul immediately tells us not to worry, but he does not leave us there. He directs us toward right praying, right thinking, and right action. The best way to eliminate a bad habit is to replace it with a good one. Few habits are as bad as worrying. The foremost way to avoid it is through prayer. Right thinking and action are the next logical steps, but it all begins with prayer. We are to approach the Lord with a thankful attitude, which we can do sincerely when we embrace the biblical teaching that God promises not to allow anything to happen to us as Christians that will be too much for us to bear, to work out everything for our good in the end, and to confirm, strengthen, and establish us. Some people assume worry is the result of too much thinking, but  it instead arises from too little thinking in the right direction. Right attitudes and thoughts precede right practices. Pure behavior, in turn, produces spiritual peace and stability.