1 Peter

These are notes collected from studying with brothers in Christ. Anything good comes from the Lord. Everything else is from us!

1 Pet. 1:1 – “To those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion”
James 1:1 – “To the twelve tribes in the Dispersion”

I never realized until reading James and 1 Peter back-to-back these past 2 weeks how they address the same broad group of people: “the dispersion”

After looking this up, though, I realized this is a different thing than I thought in my comment above regarding James. It wasn’t that they were forced out by some external pressure that happened shortly before James / 1 Peter wrote. Instead, it refers to Jews who live outside of Palestine. In James’ case, it was “Jewish Christians” living abroad. In Peter’s case, according to a commentary I consulted, he speaks to Gentile Christians who are compared to Jews outside of Palestine (because Gentiles are not native Jews, even though they are joining the Jewish faith-now-extended-and-transformed-through-Jesus).

But let’s not take that 1 commentator’s word for it. Looking forward to diving in to 1 Peter more with you guys throughout the week to see how it compares to James and what it speaks more broadly to the church.

1 Pet. 1:22-23 – “love one another earnestly from a pure heart…you have been born again…”

This verse really struck me about the “both/and” reality of our striving and God working in us. Here they had been born again by God’s precious seed of new life (via the word). I think in many places about the parable of seeds, and how they grow organically. So you’d assume you are born again and love just happens. But here it shows Peter telling them to “love one another”. That was something they had to actively decide to do (perhaps we could relate it with 1 Pet. 1:13 – “preparing your minds for action…”).

All to say, this is still a mystery to me. I know it has to be God working this out in me. But then there is something we can actively do in loving one another (lest why would Peter tell them to do that?). I know every command of God must be done by the Holy Spirit in us, so that command is not something we can will on our own. But there is something for us to actively do here. It’s a good challenge for me who tends to emphasize God as doing everything in us (which is good, so long as it doesn’t deny the truth that we have an active role and participation in some way too).

This spoke to me this morning~
1 Pet. 2:9-12 – we are a ROYAL PRIESTHOOD

As such, we:

  • PROCLAIM the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light
  • ABSTAIN from the passions of the flesh
  • LIVE HONORABLY among the world

Fellow priests, these are our honorable duties 🙂

1 Peter 3:15-16- “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.”

What stood out to me here is that we are told to be prepared to answer the question of why we have hope. One of the remarkable things about following Jesus is that even when our lives are in disarray we still have hope. The hope we have from Jesus makes us unexplainable to the world. I also am encouraged that we are instructed to do this kindly and gently. Our current culture is very loud, very opinionated, and not kind. As usual, we are called to be different. We are called to be ready to lovingly tell people about Jesus.

Again, I’m so challenged and moved by the place the N.T. puts prayer. 1 Peter was a whole new level when you read 1 Pet. 3:7 and 4:7, both verses talk about conducting your affairs a certain way FOR THE SAKE OF your prayers. I never noticed that before. But our prayer life is so important to God, and things we do impact that (husband-wife relationship, being sober-minded, self-controlled)

I loved 1 Pet. 4:11 where it talks about serving with the strength God supplies (and speaking with God’s words). This spells out our dependency on Him in a profound way to me. It also shows that not all of our words or service is good. Only the words and service that come from above.

I appreciate the perspective 1 Peter gives on different arenas of authority and how you deal with unjust authority–definitely a challenge. 2 Peter seems to piggy-back off this as well. But in 1 Peter you have (1) God as the one to fear, (2) submit to King’s authority, (3) wives submit to husbands, (4) servant to master, (5) saints to elders. The only realm it might be missing is children submitting to parents (or is that in there and I’m not recalling it?).


These are notes collected from studying with brothers in Christ. Anything good comes from the Lord. Everything else is from us!

I’m fascinated (but not fully surprised) that James 2:2 uses the word “synagogue” (Greek: sunagōgē):

1My brothers show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ the Lord of glory. 2For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly [sunagoge/synagogue], and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in…

I’m hoping to write a brief article (and share here) later today or tomorrow on this. But I think there are some implications to consider. For instance, synagogue is used as a building and an assembly of people. This is much like the modern concept of “church” – sometimes we refer to a building (because that’s primarily where the group gathers), sometimes a group of people. School seems to have the same concept: can be used for a group (think a “school” of fish) or a building that houses the group.

It also shows James’ strong Jewish bent to use synagogue over ekklesia (the word used for church elsewhere in the NT). And it shows how the lines aren’t so strong between the synagogue and the NT church. There is overlap in how they both function. Jesus works within the synagogue, but doesn’t seem to try to recreate a new synagogue either. He just doesn’t seem to care that much about structure or methods–just wants to get to the heart. I think the same today could be said of traditional church structures. We do a house church network structure (as Matt knows). But this should cause us to pause lest we think our methods are more “God-blessed” or inherently biblical than more traditional methods of church. I’ll try to develop what I’m saying about this more in an article. Pray I can write it soon and with power and clarity and truth and grace!

James 1~

how profound that the brother of Jesus firstly refers to himself as “servant/slave” of Jesus (1:1)! What an added evidence that Jesus really is the Risen Lord (brothers who were initially skeptical of him now worship and see Him as their Master alongside God)

I appreciate that He’s writing to exiles who were going through a tumultuous time, which paints (it seems) much of the exhortations: rejoice in tribulation…ask for wisdom…stand firm in the faith…

I read through all of James this morning out loud with Samuel (I don’t think he got it…but he is only 2 LOL).

Doing that was helpful to see the book as a whole and help understand some of the specific sections.

What I see as an overarching theme is that James is writing to Jewish Christians who were scattered and in difficult circumstances. In turn, he addresses the major temptations we deal with in difficult circumstances:

  • not praising God in trials (James 1)
  • lacking wisdom (James 1)
  • not wanting to obey God’s word when it’s hard (James 1)
  • showing favoritism to the rich and not wanting to be as generous, so you can (re-)gain a certain socioeconomic level, I presume (James 2)
  • becoming quick to speak and criticize others (James 3)
  • trying to establish yourself as important via your words, and not your actions and life (James 3)
  • being contentious with others (James 4)
  • wanting to be rich (James 5)
  • prayerlessness (James 5)

Maybe that’s an overstatement to say the backdrop is WHY he wrote all these things. I’m sure other reasons could have been there, and of course the Lord oversaw the whole letter in HIs own deliberate way to ensure it is surely God’s Word. BUT… the backdrop does provide some plausible reasons why they may have been struggling in some areas that James addresses (note he doesn’t excuse their sin, even if there may have been some reason for it)

That is a really cool idea to read it out loud. I imagine that was how the groups of Christians read it when it was first written.

James 3:13-16 stood out to me:
“13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. 14 But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. 15 Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16 For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.

I like how James shows the seriousness of the more subtle sins like envy or selfishness, and how they lead to very serious sins and the “demonic” even. Sin gives birth to more sin.
Conversely, following Jesus gives birth to good things like wisdom and humility. We can tell where we are by the fruit that is being produced in us.

My prayer this week has been a verse I never paid as much attn to before… always so focused on 1:19 I missed the amazing verses after. Anyhow, my prayer has been 1:21 “May I put away the filth and wickedness in me and receive the implanted word for it’s the only way Lord”

Amazed with the strong warnings to the rich in this book ie 1:10-12; 5:1-6. I think especially living in America in the land of luxury and wealth as believers we need to heed these warnings when we have so much and tend to store up in our barns in luxury and self indulgence. Let us keep the perspective that this life is temporary and we will wither like the grass and to live with open hands.


These are notes collected from studying with brothers in Christ. Anything good comes from the Lord. Everything else is from us!

I’m so in love with Jesus! So taken up by his majesty in Hebrews 1. Especially notice all the ways the writer is making it clear that Jesus = God:

  • “Heir of all things”
  • “he created the world”
  • “the radiance of the glory of God”
  • “the exact imprint of his nature”
  • “upholds the universe by the word of his power”
  • “much superior to angels”
  • God’s “Son”
  • “all God’s angels worship him”
  • “God”
  • “Lord”

This seems as clear as you can make it. Jesus = God!

Regarding Jesus and the angels…
I think this is an important point being made because of how much the Jews looked to angels as the initiators of God’s law: Acts 7:53; Gal. 3:19. So if it could be shown that Jesus is greater than angels, it helps the argument that Jesus’ covenant is superior to the old covenant.

I was really blessed to read Heb 1:14 this morning: we don’t fight alone. Most importantly we have God-Jesus-Holy Spirit (3-in-1)! He also equips us with angels. Man, we really are fully loaded for this battle–amen!

I never caught the statement in Heb. 2:1 – “we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard”. The problem with the Hebrews was not that they used the Old Testament. The writer of Hebrews uses the Old Testament a lot. Jesus uses the Old Testament a lot. The New Testament uses the O.T. a lot. The problem is that they aren’t catching what the O.T. is really saying and pointing to.

^^Paul makes the same point in Romans 3 when rebuking those people who claim they follow the Law, but Paul uses the Law (= Old Testament) to show how it declares all fall short. So they weren’t reading it close enough if they thought they could attain it!

I was also inspired by the calls to action in chapter 3:
v. 1 “Therefore, holy brothers and sisters, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, whom we acknowledge as our apostle and high priest.”
v. 12 “See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. 13 But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.”

We must focus on Jesus and approach life through the lens of what he has done for us. Also, we are not meant to do this alone! I feel like going through the Bible and discussing it with you guys is one way that we can live out verse 13. Thank you guys.

Heb 6
The 6 foundations mentioned at the beginning are those shared in common with Judaism. The warning to move on is lest they go backward and think salvation might be Jesus + SOMETHING ELSE. The saddest thing to me is that many identifying Christians may not even be aware of some of these foundations that must be moved on from.

I love that Abraham inherited the promise via FAITH and PATIENCE. I always have a tendency to want to stick something else in there. And that seems the point of the warning in Hebrews: don’t add your works as part of what’s needed to receive your inheritance.

Heb 4: enter Gods sabbath by ceasing to work [unto salvation]

Such a powerful book (Hebrews)! Glad to have a longer book this week to dig into!

10:17 hits me “for if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of truth there no longer remains the sacrifice for sins.”

God’s character is quick to forgive and remembers our sin no more but we can’t just ignore His amazing sacrifice and keep sinning without regard!

I also thought 2:1 was really good “therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard lest we drift away from it.”

We drift toward godlessnesses, and must constantly stay in the word and attached to the vine or we will drift, even if slowly and subtly.

Haha just looked and re-read our messages above and saw again this also jumped out above!

6:4-6 is a tough one for me… wondering if anyone could help?! Can’t we always come back to God, no matter how far we have fallen?! This makes it seem maybe not…

I could be off here, but I read this through the lens of chapter 10: if we produce “thorns and thistles” after receiving the gospel then there is no excuse for us.

I am frequently reminded of Jesus’ words in Matthew 7 when he tells us that we will be recognized by the fruit we produce.

Chapter 10:22-23 are verses that encourage me:
“let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.”
We have full assurance because of what Jesus has done for us!

Great insights and questions 🙂

Something that helps me in reading Hebrews is considering the backdrop: don’t fall backwards into following the Old Testament law as a means of salvation. I think they were getting some persecution in fact from Jews/Judaizers for not following Old Testament rituals. So then Hebrews is written to show them that Jesus supersedes the need for OT ritual. And to stand firm when persecuted and suffering.

Along these lines, Hebrews 6 comes along and gives a very somber warning to those who leave Christianity and retreat back into OT ritual. Which brings us to your question…

Basically, I think this is not simply falling into sin that it references. But an actual willful disowning of the faith AFTER they received revelation and indwelling of the Holy Spirit. In other words, they are true Christians, but they willingly forsake their inheritance in Christ and disown Him. To me this is describing the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, which is unforgivable.

I pair this with 2 Tim: if you’re faithless He is faithful (in essence overlooking your falling away or falling into sin), but if you disown/deny Him He will disown/deny you. There, faithlessness is different than disowning/denial. One is forgiven, one is willful rebellion that isn’t forgiven. Perhaps like Judas vs Peter. People who’ve committed this blasphemy are happy to be done with Christ and know they are committing this. If someone is concerned they may have committed this blasphemy I think that’s a sign they haven’t: because they actually care and don’t want to disown Christ.

Again, I love the confidence in prayer shown here: Pray for us, for we are sure that we have a clear conscience, desiring to act honorably in all things. I urge you the more earnestly to do this in order that I may be restored to you the sooner.
Heb. 13:18-19

Sounds like Philemon 1:22 (if I remember right), where Paul says get a room ready for me because your prayers will deliver me. Prayer is fuel for NT Christianity!


These are notes collected from studying with brothers in Christ. Anything good comes from the Lord. Everything else is from us!

Observation from ESV’s “Introduction to the Letter of Paul to Philemon”: “It would have been difficult for the institution of slavery to survive in the atmosphere of love created by the letter, and in fact the elements of Paul’s appeal found in this letter helped lay the foundation for the abolition of slavery.”


  1. I love the line about how he’s not forcing Philemon to do this, but he’s appealing to him in love to do this. Man, how much would change if we took this approach?!
  2. I’ve thought a bit lately the connection between money and righteousness. Some of it was prompted by going through Job with our house church. How Job was righteous when he was wealthy and righteous when he lost it all. So money did not impact his righteousness (though it can be a snare). Here is another example with Philemon being righteous and praised while being rich. 1 Tim. 6 mentions those who are rich among you, and how they should be ready to give. I think that’s the piece right there. Riches don’t have to be a snare when we understand we’re a steward of what God gave us, to use for his purposes. So we can bless more people if God blesses us in those ways. Not meant to be horded.
  3. I love the passage “prepare a guest room for me, for I am hoping that through your prayers I will be graciously given to you” (Phil. 1:22). Look again at how much prayer is the “engine” that makes things run to Paul. He’s certain he will be at Philemon’s house. Why? Because Philemon will pray and God will respond. Rocking my prayer life–love it


These are notes collected from studying with brothers in Christ. Anything good comes from the Lord. Everything else is from us!

Reading through Titus I am excited by the practicality of the message and how Paul emphasizes the idea that our relationship with God is what brings change in us.

1:9 “He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.”
-I love the community aspect here. Following Jesus is not only about believing ourselves but also sharing the good news and building up the community around us.

1:15-16 “To the pure, all things are pure, but to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure. In fact, both their minds and consciences are corrupted. They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good.”
-This reminds me, once again, of Matthew 7 where Jesus says that we will be recognized by our fruit. Our actions will expose our belief system plain and simple.

2:11 “For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age…”
-Saying “No” to sin can only happen when we say “Yes” to Jesus and the grace he has given us.

3:3-7 “We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.”
-So grateful for Jesus. Without him I look a lot like the descriptions in verse 3.

3 observations:

  1. Titus 1 showed that Titus was to bring order to disorder, and this was primarily achieved through appointing elders. Speaks to me that God isn’t looking for “systems” or “models” to bring order, but God-fearing leaders. Jesus shows the same in pouring into people during his ministry, as opposed to teaching a “system” for ministry.
  2. In Titus 2, we’re shown so much the grace of God does. Saves us but also trains us to live for Him. It’s all by grace, which also will change our lives if it’s truly His grace. Some wrongly think Christian grace is divorced from life change.
  3. Touched by the constant refrain of doing “good works”. Goes with point 2. True Christianity leads to godly works. Conversely, we’re warned of false Christianity that May profess the right things but deny Him in action (ch 1).

God’s kindness first and then His Holy Spirit within us changes everything. It’s only by this power that we can live in this counter cultural way ie no hate, not longer slaves to various passions, avoiding quarreling.
By His spirit we can focus on issues of the utmost importance and then prioritize our time there. There will always be so many voices (both in but especially out of the church) trying to pull us elsewhere.
Titus 3:1-6

2 Timothy

These are notes collected from studying with brothers in Christ. Anything good comes from the Lord. Everything else is from us!

2 Timothy 1:5 “I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that first dwelt with your gma Lois and mom Eunice and now I am sure dwells with you.”

I love how this shows the importance of multi generational faith and the legacy we leave by bringing children to the Lord as it can ripple through for generations.

2 Timothy 2:4- “No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him.”
So much can distract us in the day to day that is not from Him…in the same vein…

2 Timothy 2:22 “flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. Have nothing to do with ignorant controversies who you know breed quarrels.”

Very similar to what was said above, as I read 2 Timothy I am struck by the importance of passing our faith to the next generation.
1:2: “To Timothy, my dear son…”
2:1-2 “You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. 2 And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses…”
2:22 “Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness…”

The whole book feels like a dad passing along wisdom to his son. As a father myself one of my biggest goals in life is to teach the way of Jesus to my children so they can understand it, believe it, and make it their own.

It also colors it a bit to consider this is the final letter of Paul. So it’s his last words, which seemed filled with a heart of leaving a legacy that continues on through the generations. May it be Lord

“Avoid such people.” (2 Tim 3:5)
This stood out big time. It seems a good contrast with 2 Tim 3:10 where Paul essentially says, “You’ve spent time with me so that should help you.”

At first when reading that list in 2 Tim 3 of people in the last days, I thought of how much it sounded like those around us at this time. It made me think of the hard ground around us that seems tough to penetrate Gods word. My first instinct is to press on with such people. But here it’s saying avoid them.

I guess 2 things help me put this in perspective:

  1. It’s similar to Jesus saying that we preach the gospel and those who reject we leave alone while those who receive we stay with. We don’t know the response until we share. But if they show hardness, Gods strategy seems to be move on.
  2. I think the flip side of this strategy is that it gives us an opportunity to grow with and love well those who choose Jesus. This is our family and when outreach prevents us from loving well the family we have in Christ, our outreach becomes dismal. Instead, one of the greatest outreach is to love well the family of Christ: “they will know you by your love for one another” “I pray that the church may be one so the world would believe Jesus” (John 13 and 17)

1 Timothy

These are notes collected from studying with brothers in Christ. Anything good comes from the Lord. Everything else is from us!

1 Timothy 1:5- “the aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and good conscience and sincere faith”

May this be true for us!

V6 “certain persons, by swerving from this have wandered away into vain discussions.”

If we keep our charge motivated from His love and in purity and sincere it will keep us on the right course

I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service,
1 Timothy 1:12

This really touched me. Paul was judged faithful and appointed, therefore God supplied him STRENGTH. If God has called us to be faithful to a new appointment, He’ll back that calling via giving us His strength.

the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine,
1 Timothy 1:10

“Enslavers” – this seems a pretty clear reference against enslaving others.
Also note that other vices include “homosexuality”. It is not OK in Gods eyes.

Another thing in 1 Timothy (and the letters of Paul as a whole) is seeing all the injunctions to pray. Think of 1 Tim 2, especially. It’s like God knew we would be bent toward prayerlessness, so He puts in all these goads by His word to get us to pray.

Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching.
1 Timothy 4:13

Before 2 Timothy, I have found myself reflecting on this from 1 Tim.
While Paul is gone, he urges Timothy to devote himself to Bible reading and teaching. This goes with the devotion to the apostles teaching in Acts 2. We are to devote ourselves to the word – as learners, studyiers, and teachers. Honestly, if more churches just read the Bible out loud more (and don’t leave out passages you don’t like!!) I think we might be in a diff place as a society

^^I’d add: if people read 1 chapter of the Bible each week it’d take nearly 23 years to only finish it once. Most places never go that quick of pace. Which means we need to take in the word more outside of church services while also preaching it at church services much more than we do

2 Thessalonians

These are notes collected from studying with brothers in Christ. Anything good comes from the Lord. Everything else is from us!

In these letters of Paul I’ve been touched by how much is wrapped in prayer. He talks a lot about his prayer life for these people, shares some prayers in writing, asks for prayer, etc. that’s probably been my biggest takeaway—the place of prayer as a pillar for seeing the body of Christ grow.

2 Thes 2 seems a direct connection to 1 Thes 4. In 1 Th 4, we are told of Jesus returning. In 2 Th 2, we see people jumping the gun wrongfully thinking He already came. So there Paul sets forth conditions that will happen before He comes:

  1. Something must be removed that is in power and restraining deception to spread en masse (many, including me, have seen this as referencing the Roman secular power, which was firmly in place at that time, and coincidentally kept widespread spiritual delusion among the church at bay).
  2. When that is removed, the ultimate culmination of Antichrist will be revealed, even though it is happening to a lesser degree in Paul’s time (many, including me, have seen this as happening when the Roman Catholic Pope took ultimate secular and “spiritual” power after Rome fell).
  3. Delusion spreads and counterfeit Christianity proliferates (continuing to this day)
  4. Jesus returns

2 Thessalonians 1:11-12 seems like a great prayer to be praying over one another. Especially as it comes after this section reminding them/us about the judgment and hell. May we keep this eternal perspective. Here is my prayer over us today:

God, please make us worthy of your calling to fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by your power. That your name would be glorified, according to the grace that only comes from you, Lord Jesus.

1 Thes.

These are notes collected from studying with brothers in Christ. Anything good comes from the Lord. Everything else is from us!

For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake.
1 Thessalonians 1:4-5

Wow this speaks to me!
We know God is choosing those we share his word / the gospel with when God does a work of His Holy Spirit on their end.

I look at it this way:
We have 2 main “wings” in our witness:

  1. Our words
  2. Our works

We speak the gospel and live according to the gospel by the Spirit within.

But I’m Gods end he converts their hearts as he wishes. Thus we are trying to speak and act in such a way that the Lord would be pleased to convert their heart. That’s what I’m praying for in the family I testified Jesus to yesterday.

For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you?
1 Thessalonians 2:19

I find this profound. Out of so much Paul, Sylvanus, and Timothy could potentially boast of before the Lord, the MAIN thing is those they discipled and raised in the faith. Like a father with his children (spiritual children in this case). If that is the barometer of what we have to boast of, what does our boasting look like? That is, what is the spiritual condition of those we’ve raised in the faith? Takes a lot of time and energy to raise kids. Same with children in the Lord. But our children (spiritual and physical) will be a main thing we point to for Jesus (and He points to for us) to determine how well we’ve been faithful to our mission before Him.

1 Thes 3 (the first section) really speaks to me about Paul-Timothy wanting to be there in person to walk through hard times that the church was going through (even though they already warned the church they’d go through these times). Challenges me to walk through hard times more directly with those I’ve helped in the faith

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Talk about needing the Spirit to fulfill this!

but test everything; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil.
1 Thessalonians 5:21-22

I’m challenged by EVERY. It’s used 2 times here—so absolute. Really speaks to those areas that we sort of hold as “off-limits”. Not so with God

Before moving ahead wanted to touch on 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5

“For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in passion or lust as the gentiles who do not know God.”

Again, spells out God’s will. For our sanctification. And to not fall into the traps of sexual sin in our culture where sexual sin tries to trip us up every day and porn is at our fingertips.

Also, wondering if any of you have any thoughts on the coming of the Lord passage (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). This one is tough for me to reconcile when I think about us immediately being with the Lord in heaven after death. This passage certainly seems to imply we are all “caught up” at the same time and I know is commonly the passage argued for this point of view. Any thoughts?

I believe that when we die Christians are instantly with the Lord as disembodied spirits/souls —see Phil 1 about Paul dying and being with the Lord.

And non-Christians are being held in a place of suffering also as disembodied spirits. See Lazarus and the rich man in Luke 16.

Whereas 1 Thes 4 references the time of Christ returning. At that time all people (the righteous and the wicked) will be given new bodies (see John 5 and 1 Cor 15). Then is the ultimate judgment where our non-decaying bodies will dwell forever—both heaven and hell are the final destinations given after this judgment —see Rev 20.

The diff is the temporary abode of spirits (now) versus the permanent abode of bodies (later, when Christ returns). We will all be part of that at the same time

1 Thessalonians 4:11-12
“and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.”

This is one of those verses, like Colossians 3:23, that I try to hold on to while I’m working. Cool story this week:
On Friday I got a text totally out of the blue from an old coworker that I haven’t seen in about five years. When he texted me I immediately felt the tug of the Holy Spirit, so I decided to lean in and see where he was leading. He ended up calling me and we talked for over half an hour. He shared with me that he has met the Lord through the horrible circumstances of his wife passing away in a freak accident, leaving him with two young boys (he is roughly 32 years old). He said that he set out to disprove Christianity, and had become a believer in the process. He is a very new Christian, and is still in search of a community. I invited him to church and he said that he is going to come, so please pray for Chris that God continues to work in his life!

I never overtly shared my faith with him when we worked together, but he says that he knew I was a Christian. 1Thess. 4:11 comes to my mind because sometimes even just working hard and doing a good job at work can be a witness to others.


These are notes collected from studying with brothers in Christ. Anything good comes from the Lord. Everything else is from us!

Colossians 1:13-14 – “For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”

Lives look different after meeting Jesus. As we follow Jesus and allow the Holy Spirit to work in us, the evidence of God’s work in us eventually pours out. Paul describes what this looks like in verses 10-12:
“so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, 11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, 12 and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light.”

Colossians 3:5
“Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.”

“Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.”

Following Jesus is very active. I like this idea that every day I am to actively put to death my “old self” and clothe myself in Jesus’ transforming power.

My friend Ken says, “I’m either praying or I am sinning,” and this passage reminds me of that. My daily/hourly walk with Jesus transforms me and puts to death the sin that is deep within me, and when I slack off I tend to fall right back into my “old self.”

I’m feeling very grateful today for Jesus’ transforming power in my life.

To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ.
Colossians 1:27-28

Love how both “Christ in you” and being “in Christ” are used alongside each other here. I believe the former speaks to our sanctification (that is, Christ via Gods Spirit lives in us to change us and mark us as His possession). And the latter (us “in Christ”) to our justification—being counted righteous by being clothed/covered in Christ’s righteousness.

I say this in order that no one may delude you with plausible arguments.
Colossians 2:4

So so much here!! Too much for now. But I share this to point out that it is “plausible” arguments that are said to delude us here. Consider that. It’s not the implausible ones but the plausible ones that can lead us away from Him (partially because they seek to have reason usurp revelation—that is, they seem plausible to the human mind, but completely ignore the need for Gods revelation and for sincere and simple trust in what He speaks.

For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.
Colossians 3:3,5

Goes with the comment about Christ in us and us in Christ. We have died in Christ positionally (our justification). But the Spirit in us wants us to put to death sinful habits in our ongoing sanctification.

Notice also that the latter part of that list is thoughts and passions that are evil. This completely overturns modern concepts that “if I feel this way” or “if I have this sort of passion” it is somehow good. God forbid! I think much of our sinfulness is in our passions and thought life. We, like Pharisees, claim that our actions prove our righteousness. But God goes much deeper. In fact, even if we give everything for the poor and sacrificially lose our life for others, yet we can still be devoid of love and it all is meaningless (1 Cor 13:1-3). Sobering thought. All the more need for being in Christ and Christ in us.

Let our speech be gracious, seasoned wit salt

Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them. 3:18

For me, these help me stay on track and are challenging. To always have my speech seasoned with salt. I’m often too harsh and irritable with my wife. Seeking my own way. I do not struggle as much with my kids, but can be too harsh with her and see how it hurts her spirit. Please pray for me for this and to keep my speech seasoned with salt.

Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.
Colossians 4:2

Goes with the “if you’re not praying you are sinning” line. Really speaks to me.

Neat testimony and prayer request:

This morning I read Col 4 and how Paul said to keep praying, then to pray specifically for opportunity and words to speak the gospel. I was so encouraged and made it my point to just pray today for me to share the gospel with some non-believing family members. Well…moments ago we were watching Wimbledon together and one thing led to another and we were having great dialogue. It led to the Day of Atonement and it was a beautiful open door to talk about the gospel. I had to take a bathroom break (where I’m typing this from). But praise the Lord! And pray for more please!

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. For I bear him witness that he has worked hard for you and for those in Laodicea and in Hierapolis.
Colossians 4:12-13

I’m struck that prayer here is equated with “struggling” and “working hard”. Man, I really wonder as a nation how much it has been prayerlessness that has plunged us into rejecting Christ so much…

We have work to do along these lines, brethren. In fact in 1 Tim 2, men are specifically called out to this task