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Category Archives: Scriptures

Thoughts on Romans 8:1-3 – “in Christ Jesus”

What does it mean to be “in Christ Jesus?” Paul uses the phrase “in Christ Jesus” here and in dozens of other verses in his letters, so it must be important. Let’s look at some of those verses.

1 Corinthians 1:30 – We are in Christ Jesus because of God.

Romans 6:3 – We were baptized into Christ Jesus. We were also baptized into His death.

Romans 3:24 – Redemption is in Christ Jesus!

Romans 6:11 – We are to consider ourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

Romans 6:23 – Eternal life is in Christ Jesus!

Romans 8:39 – The love of God is in Christ Jesus.

Romans 9:1 – Paul says he is speaking the truth in Christ.

Romans 12:5 – We are one body in Christ.

1 Corinthians 1:2 – The people of God’s church have been sanctified in Christ.

1 Corinthians 1:4 – God’s grace was given to them in Christ Jesus.

1 Corinthians 3:1 – The spiritually immature are infants in Christ.

1 Corinthians 4:10 – One can be wise in Christ (but be sure it’s true wisdom).

1 Corinthians 4:15 – Paul became the Corinthians’ father in Christ Jesus through the gospel.

1 Corinthians 4:17 – Paul sent Timothy to remind them of his ways in Christ, as he taught them in every church.

1 Corinthians 15:19 – We have hope in Christ!

1 Corinthians 15:22 – All who are in Christ shall be made alive.

2 Corinthians 1:21 – God establishes us in Christ.

2 Corinthians 2:14 – God leads us in triumph in Christ.

2 Corinthians 2:17 – Paul speaks in Christ.

2 Corinthians 5:17 – Anyone who is in Christ is a new creation!

2 Corinthians 5:19 – In Christ, God reconciled the world to Himself.

Galatians 1:22 – The churches of Judea were in Christ.

Galatians 2:4 – We have freedom in Christ Jesus.

Galatians 2:16 – We have believed in Christ Jesus in order to be justified by faith in Christ.

Galatians 3:26 – In Christ Jesus, we are all sons of God, through faith.

Galatians 3:28 – We are all one in Christ Jesus.

Galatians 5:6 – Only faith working through love counts for anything in Christ Jesus.

Ephesians 1:1 – The saints are faithful in Christ Jesus.

Ephesians 2:6-7 – God seated us in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus so He might show His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

Ephesians 2:10 – We were created in Christ Jesus for good works.

Ephesians 2:13 – In Christ Jesus, we have been brought near to God!

Ephesians 3:6 – Gentiles are partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel,

Ephesians 3:11 – God has realized His eternal purpose in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 1:26 – Paul said the Philippians could have ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus because of Paul’s returning to them.

Philippians 3:3 – Paul gloried in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 3:14 – The upward call of God is in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:19 – God will supply all of our needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

1 Thessalonians 2:14 – Paul tells the Thessalonians to imitate the churches of God in Christ Jesus that are in Judea.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 – It is the will of God in Christ Jesus that we give thanks in all circumstances.

1 Timothy 1:4 and 2 Timothy 1:13 – Faith and love are in Christ Jesus.

1 Timothy 3:13 – Faith is in Christ Jesus.

2 Timothy 1:1 – The promise of life is in Christ Jesus.

2 Timothy 1:9 – God gave a holy calling in Christ Jesus before the ages began.

2 Timothy 2:1 – Grace is in Christ Jesus.

2 Timothy 2:10 – Salvation is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.

2 Timothy 3:12 – We will be persecuted if we desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus.

2 Timothy 3:15 – The Scriptures can make us wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.

Philemon 1:23 – Paul and Epaphrus were prisoners in Christ Jesus.

There are still more verses, but what does this all mean? If we consider three broad questions, we can begin to get a picture of what Paul means when he speaks of someone or something being “in Christ Jesus.”

I. What is in Christ Jesus?

  • Wisdom of life
  • The love of God
  • The upward call of God
  • God’s holy calling
  • God’s grace
    • In kindness toward us
  • Hope
  • Freedom
  • His church
  • Victory
  • God’s will
  • Faith and love
    • Faith working through love is the only worthy faith.
  • Glory
    • God’s riches in glory
  • Salvation
  • Eternal life
  • Sanctification
  • Redemption
  • Justification

There are many more verses in Paul’s writings in which he used the phrase “in Christ Jesus” or simply “in Christ.” The few dozen verses looked at here are sufficient to show us that in Christ are found far greater treasures than anyone could possibly find outside of Christ.

2. What are we in Christ Jesus?

  • Spiritual infants or maturing learners
  • Dead to sin and alive to God
  • Faithful
  • Sons of God through faith
  • Established by God
  • Speakers of truth
  • One body
  • Examples to others
  • Created for good works
  • New creation
  • Partakers of the promise through the gospel
  • Potential prisoners

Again, there are many other verses that talk about who we are in Christ. Combined with what is in Christ (and, therefore, what we have in Christ), these verses should be sufficient to establish our identity in Christ.

III. Where are we in Christ and why?

  • Brought near to God
  • Seated in the heavenly places
  • Because of God

Considering all that we have and are in Christ and where we are in Him, perhaps the next question is the most important: How do we get into Christ? Romans 6:23 and Galatians 3:27 say we were baptized into Christ. This raises several questions about baptism to consider in a future study.

Now these were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of the mind, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so. -Acts 17:11 (WEB)

 
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Posted by on February 6, 2015 in Reflections, Scriptures

 

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Thoughts on Isaiah 48:9-11

Isaiah prophesies in this passage to “the house of Jacob”–Israel. Although we often think of promises and prophecies as if they apply to us (and some do), we must always remember to whom the promise or prophecy was originally given. In this passage, God speaks through Isaiah to Israel.

vs 9. “For the sake of” can mean “for the purpose of,” “for the good or advantage of,” or “for the personal benefit of.” Any of those definitions could fit here, for God certainly has a purpose for all that He does. Even human beings appreciate the value of a person’s good name, so surely God values His own name and would act for the good of His name. We probably don’t often think of God as acting for His own benefit, but there is no one higher than Him for whose benefit He could act. We act on behalf of others in this world because in doing so, we serve God, but who is God to serve? He is the highest being–so doesn’t that mean He must serve Himself and act for His own benefit, knowing that all of His blessings and riches will overflow to benefit His creatures beyond their wildest imaginations? A person’s name can be thought of as their reputation, for both represent the essence of the person, their character.

So, for His own purpose or for His own good or benefit, God deferred or refrained from His anger against Israel. His anger wasn’t resolved then.

God also says that for His praise He restrains His anger so that He doesn’t cut off or destroy Israel. I understand this to mean that God will receive praise because of the restraint He showed in not destroying Israel. I believe this has indeed happened as people through the centuries have heard Israel’s story and recognized God’s unfailing love throughout it.

vs 10. God refined Israel, “but not as silver.” Does this mean in a different way or that the process is incomplete? Perhaps both. The text doesn’t make that clear.

God says He tried or tested Israel in the furnace of affliction. As we read Israel’s story, we do see God’s testing of Israel, and His faithfulness.

vs 11. In this verse, God makes it clear that He acts for His own sake. He even repeats His words to emphasize this fact. His reason? If He destroys His chosen people, Israel, God’s name would be defiled or dishonored. Remember when Moses pleaded with God not to kill the Israelites in Exodus 32? Moses appealed to God to spare the people for His name’s sake, so that God’s name would not be dishonored. Moses didn’t use those exact words, but that’s the general idea when he said, “Why should the Egyptians say, ‘He brought them out with an evil intent to kill them in the mountains and wipe them off the face of the earth?'”

Finally, in this passage, God says He will not give His glory to anyone else. If God had destroyed the people, His name would have been dishonored and His glory would have been given to some false god. This passage ends with God’s anger, His wrath, still restrained. The day will come, though, when God’s anger will be satisfied (Romans 2:5).

Heavenly Father, I thank You so much for Your unfailing love and faithfulness toward not only your people Israel, but also toward Gentile believers, toward me. I know what I deserve, but You have chosen to love me and forgive me through the sacrifice of Your Son. I can do nothing to earn Your love and forgiveness, and nothing to repay You for it. So, I ask You to help me to live a life worthy of the Gospel. Mold me into the woman You designed me to be, whatever that entails. I am willing, Father, and in anything that I am not, please make me willing to be willing. You are the One I want to please. You are the One I love. I praise You, Father, for who You are! Amen.

But let us, since we belong to the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and, for a helmet, the hope of salvation. For God didn’t appoint us to wrath, but to the obtaining of salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him. 11 Therefore exhort one another, and build each other up, even as you also do.-1 Thessalonians 5:8-11 (WEB)

 
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Posted by on January 16, 2015 in Reflections, Scriptures

 

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Thoughts on Luke 12:32

vs32. Jesus was talking to the crowd, but then He turned to speak to His disciples: “Don’t be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the Kingdom.”

“Don’t be afraid” –> don’t worry; don’t be anxious; don’t be nervous; don’t be scared; perhaps even ‘chill out.’

“little flock” –> Sheep—dirty, smelly, dumb, defenseless. That’s a sheep. That’s me. That’s us. But, we have a Shepherd—the Good Shepherd who knows us and wisely cares for us.

“for” –> because. Why shouldn’t we be afraid? Is it only because of our Shepherd? No. We have One who is more than a Shepherd.

“your Father.” –> God himself is our Father; our loving, caring Father!

“to give you the Kingdom” –> Who can give me the Kingdom except the King himself? No one!

“good pleasure.” –> He enjoys, He delights to give us the Kingdom! God doesn’t give us the Kingdom because He is obligated to do so. He delights to give it to us. If He gives it to us, we share in it; we live in it.

So, we have a wise Shepherd/loving Father/generous King who delights to give us His Kingdom! He’s not selling it, not trading for it. He’s giving it to us! It cost Him the sacrifice of His Son, but He gives it to us. What enormous love! That’s why we need not fear!

Heavenly Father, what love you have shown and continue to show to sinful mankind! I don’t understand how you can do it, but I am so grateful you do! Thank you for making a way for me to be reconciled with You. Please help me to point others to Jesus so they can also be reconciled with You. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

We know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and he who remains in love remains in God, and God remains in him. -1 John 4:16 (WEB)

 
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Posted by on January 2, 2015 in Reflections, Scriptures

 

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Thoughts on 2 Chronicles 16:7-9

vs7. Hanani the seer told King Asa of Judah that the Aramean army had escaped from his hand because he had relied on the king of Aram instead of on God.

vs8. Hanani reminded Asa that the Lord delivered the mighty army of the Cushites and Libyans into his hand when he had relied on the Lord.

vs9. Hanani tells Asa that the eyes of the Lord are looking throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him. He then tells Asa that he was foolish to not rely on the Lord and that he will be at war from now on.

I have not faced physical armies of war as King Asa did, but I faced other “armies.” The armies of cancer or other serious illness, fear, discouragement, temptation to sin, unemployment, bankruptcy, and many others confront each of us from time to time throughout our lives. In these times, we must not follow Asa’s example when he relied on the king of Aram.

Rather, we must follow his example when he faced the army of the Cushites and Libyans that seemed so overwhelmingly powerful and large that his army had no chance to survive. At that time, Asa wisely turned to God and relied on Him. As a result, God delivered the enemy into Asa’s hands. This is the example we must follow. Rely on the all-powerful Lord our God who holds the universe in His hand!

I praise You, God, for Your power, Your wisdom, Your mercy, and Your love! Help me to be a person whose heart is wholly, totally, completely committed to You! Please, Father! Help me to always rely on You and not on myself or anyone else. Thank You, Father. Amen.


Trust in Yahweh with all your heart,
    and don’t lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
    and he will make your paths straight.
Don’t be wise in your own eyes.
    Fear Yahweh, and depart from evil.
It will be health to your body,
    and nourishment to your bones. -Proverbs 3:5-8 (WEB)

 
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Posted by on January 2, 2015 in Reflections, Scriptures

 

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Thoughts on Romans 11:28-32

vs28. Paul says the Jews are enemies of God for the sake of the Gentiles, in regards to the gospel. But, regarding election, the Jews are beloved–not for their own sake, but for the sake of their forefathers.

vs29. God’s gifts and His calling are irrevocable! They cannot be taken away!

vs30. The Romans (and all non-Jewish Christians) used to be disobedient to God. God gave them and us mercy because of Israel’s disobedience.

vs31. They have now been disobedient so that God can show them the same mercy He showed us.

vs32. God delivered us all (Jew and Gentile alike) into disobedience so that He can show His mercy to both Jew and Gentile.

God wants to have mercy on all of us (2 Peter 3:9). Unfortunately, there are many who will not turn from their sinful lives to the true and living God who loves them so much that He made His own Son to be a sin offering for them–for each of us–so that we could be reconciled to God.

Oh, what it must have been like for Adam and Eve to be able to walk and talk with God in the cool of the Garden of Eden! After they sinned, that relationship was broken. Only God could restore it, and He did so by sacrificing Jesus for each of us.

Now, as a Christian, I have the privilege of talking with God as His child. He is my Father! He sees me as holy and without fault of blame (Colossians 1:22) because Jesus paid the penalty in full for all of my sin!

I love my Father; therefore, I love His children and obey His commands. Oh, I don’t do that perfectly. Far from it. But, I can rest in the perfect peace that God provides, knowing that He, my Father, has already forgiven me because of the blood of Jesus.

Now, because I love my Father, I desire to point others to Jesus so that they can be reconciled to Him, also!

Heavenly Father, I do love You! Please help me always, by my actions and my words, to point others to your Son. I know that Jesus will not turn away anyone who comes to Him, so please help me to show others the way to Him. Amen.

The Lord is not slow concerning his promise, as some count slowness; but is patient with us, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. -2 Peter 3:9 (WEB)

 

 
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Posted by on January 1, 2015 in Reflections, Scriptures

 

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Thoughts on Matthew 28:18-20

vs. 18. Jesus told the eleven disciples that He had been given all authority in heaven and on earth.

vss. 19-20. He told them, because of this authority He had received, to go and make disciples of all nations. What does that involve? He told them to baptize the people in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and to teach them to obey everything that He had commanded the eleven disciples to do. They would not be doing this alone, though, for Jesus told them that He is always with them, until the end of the age!

That’s great for the eleven disciples Jesus was speaking to, but what about us? Look again. Jesus gave the eleven a command. Included in that command is the teaching of the nations to obey all the commandments Jesus gave to the eleven. That includes this command. Yes, we, too, are to go, baptize, and teach!

Thank you, Heavenly Father, for this command–the command that allows us to participate in the building of Your Kingdom! Help us, please, to each fulfill the part that You have for each of us in Your Kingdom-building plan. Amen.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life. -John 3:16 (WEB)

 
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Posted by on December 26, 2014 in Reflections, Scriptures

 

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Thoughts on 1 John 5:1-4

vs. 1. If we believe that Jesus is the Messiah, God’s Annointed One, then we are God’s children. If we love the Father, we also love His children.

vs. 2. How can we know that we love God’s children? We love God and obey His commandments.

vs. 3. How do we love God? By keeping His commandments, which are not a burden to us.

vs. 4. Since we have been born of God (we are His children), we overcome the world. How do we do that? Our faith overcomes the world!

I am God’s child if I believe that Jesus is the Christ. If I am God’s child, then I will love all of God’s children. When I love God and obey His commandments, I know (and also demonstrate to others) that I love God and obey His commandments.

Actually, to love God means that I keep His commandments. But, it seems like there are so many commandments. How can I possibly keep them? Oh, His commandments are not a burden. Because I have been born of God, I overcome the world.

During Jesus’ encounter with a legal expert, the man asked Jesus which is the greatest commandment in the Law. Matthew recorded Jesus’ response:
“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:37-40, NIV)

From hundreds of commandments down to two. Oh, I still can’t keep those in my own strength, but through my faith, I overcome the world and its temptations. Through my faith, the Holy Spirit within me empowers me to live a life that is pleasing to my Father. The Holy Spirit guides me and teaches me to love God with all that is within me and to love my neighbor as myself. On my own, I can’t do it. But, through my faith and the Spirit within me, I overcome the world!

Heavenly Father, thank you for making it possible for me to be adopted into Your family. Thank you for giving me Your Holy Spirit to dwell within me, to guide me, comfort me, and teach me how to live as Your child. I confess that I don’t always listen to Your Spirit. For that, I am truly sorry. I thank you that because of Jesus’ blood, and my faith in Him, the penalty for that sin, and all of my other sins, has been paid in full. Father, I come to you now, cleansed of my sin, thanking you for your mercy and asking you to help me to listen more closely to your Spirit and to obey completely. Thank you, my Father. Thank you. Amen.

But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. -Galatians 5:18, WEB

 

 
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Posted by on December 23, 2014 in Reflections, Scriptures

 

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Thoughts on Lamentations 3:31-33

vs. 31. The Lord doesn’t cast off anyone forever. What great news! If you feel like God has cast you off or rejected you, take heart!

vs. 32. He will show compassion on you, even if He brings you grief. He still loves you with His unfailing love.

vs. 33. It is not His desire to bring affliction or grief or suffering to anyone.

Until a few years ago, I never thought of God as the One who causes grief or suffering. I had read the evidence in the Bible, but somehow passed right by it. In more recent years, I have realized that God doesn’t simply allow suffering, but sometimes causes it. Why? If we trust that God truly loves us, we must trust that what He brings into our lives is ultimately for our own good. It’s what is needed to transform rebellious, hard-headed human beings into the likeness of His Son.

Imagine the suffering Jesus went through for us. He submitted to His Father’s will. Why? He loves His Father and He knew that the joy set before Him would make it all worth it. He knew it was part of His Father’s plan to reconcile the world to Him. Jesus knew that without His suffering, death, burial, resurrection, and ascension, He and His Father would be separated from us forever. That would be the ultimate grief. A grief He apparently wasn’t willing to have either His Father or Himself go through.

Just as Jesus trusted His Father’s plan to turn His suffering into joy, we, too, must trust in God’s plan for our lives and that He will turn our present sufferings into our eternal joy with Him.

Thank you, Father, for not rejecting us forever. Thank you for making it possible for us to be reconciled with You, so that we may one day be with You forever, praising Jesus as King of Kings, Lord of Lords, and our precious Redeemer and Friend. Thank you, Lord Jesus, for submitting to your Father’s will so that we could be with You forever. Amen.

 

Therefore let us also, seeing we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, lay aside every weight and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising its shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. -Hebrews 12:1-2 (WEB)

 
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Posted by on December 22, 2014 in Reflections, Scriptures

 

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Thoughts on 2 Peter 1:3-4

vs. 3. God’s power has given us (we already have it) everything we need for life and godliness. How did He do this? Through our knowledge of God, who chose us because of His own glory and goodness.

vs. 4. He (God) has given us (we already have them) His very great and precious (valuable) promises. Why? So that through those promises we may participate in His divine nature and escape the corruption in the world, which is caused by evil desires.

God has given me everything I need for life and godliness, through my knowledge of Him (which He also gave me). He chose me because of His own glory and goodness, not mine! Through His promises, I can participate in His divine nature and escape the corruption of the world. Since evil desires cause the corruption, it must be possible for me to resist these desires, in order to escape the corruption. Hallelujah! Praise God!

Heavenly Father, I am so grateful that you made the way for me to be reconciled with you and that it does not rely on my glory and goodness. Thank you for giving me everything I need, not just for physical life, but for spiritual life and godliness. Please, God, help me to understand the value of the knowledge of yourself that you have given me and continually make available to me through your Word and your Holy Spirit. Help me to so value that knowledge that I will make it a high priority in my daily life to increase my knowledge by studying your Word and listening to your Spirit. Amen.

 

 
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Posted by on December 18, 2014 in Reflections, Scriptures

 

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Thoughts on 2 Timothy 3:14-17

vss. 14-15. Paul encourages Timothy to continue in what he has learned and has been convinced of. Why was he convinced? Because he knew his teachers. Presumably, Paul is referring to Timothy’s mother and grandmother, since he makes reference to knowing the Scriptures since infancy (2 Timothy 1:5). Paul gives Timothy the reason he should continue in the Scriptures—they are able to make him wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.

vs. 16. Paul says all scripture is God-breathed and is useful for the broad task of teaching and for the more narrow tasks of rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness.

vs. 17. Why is this important? That is how the man of God is to be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Thank you, Father, for the teachers you place in our lives from birth through death. Help us to recognize their value to us as they encourage us in the Scriptures and in our Christian lives. For those among us who don’t have reliable teachers right now, Father we ask that you will provide them, but more importantly, that you will help each of us to listen to our ultimate teacher—the Holy Spirit within us. Amen.

 
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Posted by on December 14, 2014 in Reflections, Scriptures

 

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