BOOK OF 1 JOHN

AUTHOR:
Although the writer did not identify himself, early church fathers, such as Clement of Alexandria, Origen, and Tertullian, named John as the author. Irenaeus (A.D. 130-200), who heard the eyewitness of Polycarp, bishop of Smyrna and disciple of John the apostle, also specified that the epistle was penned by John, the Lord’s disciple. Thus, there is strong evidence that John, the son of Zebedee and the apostle of Jesus, composed this letter.

DATE:
The three letters of John were probably written from Ephesus to the churches in the surrounding area of Asia Minor (modern Turkey). Tradition assigns the writing of these letters to the latter years of John’s life, dating them between A.D. 80 and 95. The exact date, however, is not certain.

SETTING:
The recipients of the letter had been exposed to the heretical teachings of a group of people who had left their church (1 John 2:19). This group believed that spiritual things were good and physical things were evil. For them, the divine Christ, the Son of God, was not the same human Jesus who came to suffer and die for the sins of the world. They claimed to have a direct knowledge of God and to be morally perfect. However, their sinful behavior, lack of love, and prideful claims betrayed their heretical belief (see John 1:4, note; 1 Corinthians 1, Heresies).

PURPOSE:
John wrote to strengthen the faith of the believers (1 John 1:4). He encouraged them to hold to the apostolic teaching and to express that gospel through love and righteous living (1 John 2:1, 26). As a remedy against the onslaught of heretical views, he also assured believers of forgiveness, victory, and eternal life through Jesus Christ (1 John 5:13).

AUDIENCE:
Historically, the heresy closest in character to that described in the epistle was the Gnostic heresy taught in Asia Minor by Cerinthus. Therefore, it is probable that the letter was addressed to the churches in Asia Minor.

LITERARY CHARACTERISTICS:
The literary character of the epistle evades classification. In its greeting and conclusion, it lacks the features typical of a first-century letter. Nevertheless, the author is apparently addressing a specific situation with which he is familiar. First John could be a circular letter containing a written sermon or address.

THEMES:
• A true claim of the knowledge of God entails the acknowledgment that Jesus is both fully divine and fully human.
• Right belief goes hand-in-hand with right conduct; love and righteous living cannot be separated from right belief.
• Right faith produces confidence in forgiveness, in prayer, in victory against the Evil One, and in the possession of eternal life.

1 John 1 

The Incarnation of the Word of Life

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes,which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life.The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We write this to make our joy complete.

Light and Darkness, Sin and Forgiveness

This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.

If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.

January 28 Devotional-1 John 1

1.  1 John 1: 3, “We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.”  Any time a word is repeated in scripture, it is note-worthy.  The word ‘fellowship’ in this passage means “to have all things in common.”  We are to love one another because we share life together. We have something in common. We share the life of the Lord Jesus, and therefore we should have fellowship with one another.  Don’t confuse RELATIONSHIP and FELLOWSHIP.   Relationship is when we come to know the Lord, and fellowship is when our relationship is visible through us.  Fellowship is the key to vital Christianity.  A nonbeliever may not see if you have a relationship with Christ, but he/she should know if you have fellowship with Christ.   As a Christian, are you enjoying fellowship with the Father and with His Son?

 

2.  There are several IF-THEN statements in verses 5-10.  Record the statements below and think about what each statement means to you.

Verse 6:   

If- 

Then-

Lesson:

 Verse 7:

If- 

Then-

Lesson:

Verse 8:

If-  

Then-

Lesson:

Verse 9:

If-

Then-

Lesson-

 Verse 10:

If-

Then-

Lesson- 

Prayer Requests

1.

2.

3.

4.

Jonah 4 

Jonah’s Anger at the Lord’s Compassion
1 But to Jonah this seemed very wrong, and he became angry. 2 He prayed to the Lord, “Isn’t this what I said, Lord, when I was still at home? That is what I tried to forestall by fleeing to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. 3 Now, Lord, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live.”

4 But the Lord replied, “Is it right for you to be angry?”

5 Jonah had gone out and sat down at a place east of the city. There he made himself a shelter, sat in its shade and waited to see what would happen to the city. 6 Then the Lord God provided a leafy plant[a] and made it grow up over Jonah to give shade for his head to ease his discomfort, and Jonah was very happy about the plant. 7 But at dawn the next day God provided a worm, which chewed the plant so that it withered. 8 When the sun rose, God provided a scorching east wind, and the sun blazed on Jonah’s head so that he grew faint. He wanted to die, and said, “It would be better for me to die than to live.”

9 But God said to Jonah, “Is it right for you to be angry about the plant?”

“It is,” he said. “And I’m so angry I wish I were dead.”

10 But the Lord said, “You have been concerned about this plant, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. 11 And should I not have concern for the great city of Nineveh, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left—and also many animals?”

January 27 Devotional-Jonah 4

This passage is very interesting to me. Jonah was so angry that the people of Nineveh confessed their sin to God and that God forgave them that he went outside the city to pout.

  1.  Verses 1-3 say,But to Jonah this seemed very wrong, and he became angry. 2 He prayed to the Lord, “Isn’t this what I said, Lord, when I was still at home? That is what I tried to forestall by fleeing to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity.

To find out what “this” and “that” from the passage are referring to, you have to go back to chapter 3 verse 10: When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he relented and did not bring on them the destruction he had threatened.

Jonah was mad because God had mercy on Ninevah.  Why was this ironic?

 

  1. Jonah cared more for the plant than he did for the people.  We see this a lot in our country today.  People care about recycling, conservation, and clean air, … but not about the hearts and souls of the people.  You may be adamant, like Jonah, about an issue, but you also may be dead wrong like Jonah, about your priorities.  List ways your focus is correct today & areas of priority that you need to change.

 

 

  1.  Spend some time reflecting on what God has done for you by rescuing you from your sins. Without this rescue, where would you be right now? Confess any sin in your life that you haven’t confessed to God, and surrender your heart fully to him today.

 

Prayer Requests

1.  Help me to prioritize God’s will & God’s plan in my life.

2.

3.

4.

Jonah 3

Jonah Goes to Nineveh
3 Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time: 2 “Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you.”

3 Jonah obeyed the word of the Lord and went to Nineveh. Now Nineveh was a very large city; it took three days to go through it. 4 Jonah began by going a day’s journey into the city, proclaiming, “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overthrown.” 5 The Ninevites believed God. A fast was proclaimed, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth.

6 When Jonah’s warning reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, took off his royal robes, covered himself with sackcloth and sat down in the dust. 7 This is the proclamation he issued in Nineveh:

“By the decree of the king and his nobles:

Do not let people or animals, herds or flocks, taste anything; do not let them eat or drink. 8 But let people and animals be covered with sackcloth. Let everyone call urgently on God. Let them give up their evil ways and their violence. 9 Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish.”

10 When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he relented and did not bring on them the destruction he had threatened.

January 26 Devotional-Jonah 3

1.  List what you know about Jonah from this passage:

* (vs. 1-3) Jonah kept his vow made in the belly of the fish

 

*(vs. 2)

 

*(vs. 4)

 

2.  How can you learn from Jonah’s actions?

 

 

3.  List what you know about the people of Nineveh from this passage:

* It was a great city (vs.1) It was a large city (vs.3)

*(vs.5)

 

*(vs. 7-9)

 

*(vs.10)

 

4.  How can you learn from Nineveh’s example?

 

Prayer Requests

1. Spend time searching your heart and confessing any sin in your life.  It may be sin that has become a habit so you justify keeping it around.  It may be sin that is keeping you from peace in your life.  Meditate on Psalm 51:10 Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Psalm 139:23-24Search me, God, and know my heart, test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

 

2.

3.

4.

 

 

 

Jonah 2

1From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the Lord his God. 2 He said:

“In my distress I called to the Lord,
and he answered me.
From deep in the realm of the dead I called for help,
and you listened to my cry.
3 You hurled me into the depths,
into the very heart of the seas,
and the currents swirled about me;
all your waves and breakers
swept over me.
4 I said, ‘I have been banished
from your sight;
yet I will look again
toward your holy temple.’
5 The engulfing waters threatened me,[b]
the deep surrounded me;
seaweed was wrapped around my head.
6 To the roots of the mountains I sank down;
the earth beneath barred me in forever.
But you, Lord my God,
brought my life up from the pit.
7 “When my life was ebbing away,
I remembered you, Lord,
and my prayer rose to you,
to your holy temple.
8 “Those who cling to worthless idols
turn away from God’s love for them.
9 But I, with shouts of grateful praise,
will sacrifice to you.
What I have vowed I will make good.
I will say, ‘Salvation comes from the Lord.’”
10 And the Lord commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land.

January 22 Devotional-Jonah 2

1.  “From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the Lord his God. 2 He said:  “In my distress I called to the Lord, and he answered me. From deep in the realm of the dead I called for help, and you listened to my cry.”

Jonah was calling to God in his distress. This was distress that he had caused himself! If he had just done what God had told him to do, he would not be stuck in the belly of a large fish. Instead of ignoring Jonah’s cries, God heard his voice and answered him. I am glad that we can say as Jonah does that God will answer our prayers no matter how bad we have messed up?

Tell about a time where you cried out to God from a place of despair.  How did God answer?

 

 

2.  Do you need to turn back to God today?  What is stopping you?

 

3.  We do not have to be in a life or death situation before we make a promise to God.  Jonah cries out: “What I have vowed I will make good. I will say, ‘Salvation comes from the Lord.'” God wants our best.

What area of your life can you vow to improve?  Is there an area that you need to rededicate to Christ?  

 

Prayer Requests

1. Help me to obey God in all areas of my life.

2.

3.

4.

 

 

 

Background Information

BOOK OF JONAH

AUTHOR:

Though this book does not cite a specific author, tradition ascribes the authorship to its main character, the prophet Jonah, son of Amittai (Jonah 1:1). Jonah (Heb., lit. “dove”) was a real person from Gath Hepher near Nazareth (2 Kings 14:25). This Hewbrew prophet was called by God to proclaim His message to the pagan nation of Assyria, while God used other prophets (Amos, Hosea, Isaiah, and Micah) to prophesy to Israel during the same time period.

DATE:

The date of the prophet Jonah’s ministry is generally accepted as between 800 and 750 B.C. Nothing about the book is incompatible with an eighth century B.C. composition. Some scholars support a later time after the Babylonian exile or the destruction of Nineveh, although these arguments are not conclusive. The Book of Jonah records historical events that occurred before the great city of Nineveh, the capital of Assyria, was destroyed (about 612 B.C.; see Jon. 3:3). Jeroboam II was king of Israel (782-753 B.C.; 2 Kings 14:25) and Uzziah was king in Judah (792-740) B.C.). During this period, the Assyrian king was probably Ashur-dan III (772-755 B.C.).

SETTING:

The Book of Jonah was initially set in Israel, where the prophet lived in the town of Gath Hepher near Nazareth. When Jonah fled from God’s assignment in Nineveh, he went to Joppa, a port city along the Mediterranean Sea to catch a ship sailing in the opposite direction to Tarshish. After his brief encounter with the “great fish,” Jonah returned to land. The last two chapters of the book were set in Assyria (present-day Iraq) after the prophet journeyed in obedience to Nineveh.

 

PURPOSE:

The Book of Jonah teaches that only true repentance can bring salvation, and it also demonstrates God’s compassion toward all (Jonah 4:2, 11; see Mic. 1:1, note). God wants all people truly to repent and receive salvation. Readers will discover Jonah to be a minor prophet with a major message.

 

 

AUDIENCE:

While the original audience of the Book of Jonah is unidentified, clearly the Lord gave Jonah a message of hope for the wicked Assyrians and a message of restoration for believers who rebel. Taking that message to the enemies proved to be Jonah’s greatest challenge. The impact of the Book of Jonah has continued through the generations, even among the Jews. The book is read in its entirety in the synagogues in the afternoon of Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement). This liturgical use of the book is helpful in understanding its message of hope and assurance for God’s chosen people.

LITERARY CHARACTERISTICS:

The Book of Jonah is a historical account of a major event in Jonah’s life. Most of Jonah is narrative with almost no proclamation, while other prophets are almost all proclamation and little narrative. In the New Testament, Jesus Christ verified the historical significance of the prophet Jonah and this book (Matthew 12:39-41; Luke 11:29, 30).

Several significant, but sometimes overlooked, themes are found in the Book of Jonah. Though only forty-eight verses in length, the message of Jonah is important. The following are among its obvious themes:

Salvation comes only from the Lord. The Book of Jonah teaches that salvation is not by works, but by grace through faith (Jonah 2:8, 9; see also Ephesians 2:8).

The God of the Hebrews has always expressed concern for the whole world. Jonah explained that Yahweh God lovingly offers salvation even to people we would prefer to hate (Jonah 4:9-11).

God is a God of beginning anew. The prophet experienced God’s forgiveness when he was unfaithful and was offered another opportunity for obedience (Jonah 3:1). Nineveh likewise received the opportunity to repent.

Jesus used the experience of Jonah in the belly of the fish to explain His death, burial, and Resurrection (Jonah 1:17; Matthew 12:38-41).

Jonah 1

Jonah Flees From the Lord

The word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai: “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.”

But Jonah ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the Lord.

Then the Lord sent a great wind on the sea, and such a violent storm arose that the ship threatened to break up. All the sailors were afraid and each cried out to his own god. And they threw the cargo into the sea to lighten the ship.

But Jonah had gone below deck, where he lay down and fell into a deep sleep. The captain went to him and said, “How can you sleep? Get up and call on your god! Maybe he will take notice of us so that we will not perish.”

Then the sailors said to each other, “Come, let us cast lots to find out who is responsible for this calamity.” They cast lots and the lot fell on Jonah. So they asked him, “Tell us, who is responsible for making all this trouble for us? What kind of work do you do? Where do you come from? What is your country? From what people are you?”

He answered, “I am a Hebrew and I worship the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.”

10 This terrified them and they asked, “What have you done?” (They knew he was running away from the Lord, because he had already told them so.)

11 The sea was getting rougher and rougher. So they asked him, “What should we do to you to make the sea calm down for us?”

12 “Pick me up and throw me into the sea,” he replied, “and it will become calm. I know that it is my fault that this great storm has come upon you.”

13 Instead, the men did their best to row back to land. But they could not, for the sea grew even wilder than before. 14 Then they cried out to the Lord, “Please, Lord, do not let us die for taking this man’s life. Do not hold us accountable for killing an innocent man, for you, Lord, have done as you pleased.” 15 Then they took Jonah and threw him overboard, and the raging sea grew calm. 16 At this the men greatly feared the Lord, and they offered a sacrifice to the Lord and made vows to him.

Jonah’s Prayer

17 Now the Lord provided a huge fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.

January 22 Devotional-Jonah 1

Steps to following God’s call on your life

Step 1. Hear God’s plan for you.  Verse 1 says, “The word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai: “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.”

Jonah knew God’s plan.  What is God calling you to do?  When you spend time in God’s Word, in prayer, and in quiet times of being still with God, ask Him to reveal His plan for you.  As you look around at your circumstances and situations in your daily life- has God shown you a need or a direction?

Step 2: Make a decision to answer God’s call OR NOT.  What is keeping you from doing what God wants you to do?  Maybe you are supposed to prioritize worship, quit a habit, lead a study, take a stand at work, make a change in your life, …  How can you get started today?

Step 3:  Watch God work through you.  Jonah’s obedience started with acknowledging that he was running from God- At the time, he did not know when he went overboard how his story was going to end or how God was going to use him, BUT GOD DID!

Maybe you are being obedient and following God’s direction for your life, how have you seen God working?

Prayer Requests:
 1.  Pray that you would have the wisdom and courage to follow God’s call on your life.

2.

3.

4.

Philippians 4

Closing Appeal for Steadfastness and Unity
1 Therefore, my brothers and sisters, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, dear friends!
2 I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. 3 Yes, and I ask you, my true companion, help these women since they have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel, along with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are in the book of life.
Final Exhortations
4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
Thanks for Their Gifts
10 I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. 11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
14 Yet it was good of you to share in my troubles. 15 Moreover, as you Philippians know, in the early days of your acquaintance with the gospel, when I set out from Macedonia, not one church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving, except you only; 16 for even when I was in Thessalonica, you sent me aid more than once when I was in need. 17 Not that I desire your gifts; what I desire is that more be credited to your account. 18 I have received full payment and have more than enough. I am amply supplied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God. 19 And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.
20 To our God and Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
Final Greetings
21 Greet all God’s people in Christ Jesus. The brothers and sisters who are with me send greetings. 22 All God’s people here send you greetings, especially those who belong to Caesar’s household.
23 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.[a]

 

 

January 21 Devotional-Philippians 4 

Paul closes this great book with an amazing conclusive chapter.  Philippians 4 is one of the most quoted, memorized, preached about and read chapters in God’s Word.  I think that is because of the practical, applicable way the text instructs & reminds us to live for Christ.

After you read Philippians 4, record what the following verses tell us specifically to do & how.  

Phil 4:1 – Be Firm:

 

Phil 4:2-3 – Be Focused:

 

Phil 4:4-5 – Be Joyful:

 

Phil 4:6-7 – Be Prayerful:

 

Phil 4:8-9 – Be Careful:

 

Phil 4:10 – Be Peaceful:

 

Phil 4:11-13 – Be Content

 

Phil 4:14-18 – Be Generous

 

Phil 4:19 – Be Practical

Which verse spoke to you the most today?  Write it down in the space provided and commit to memorize it this week.

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Prayer Requests:
 1.  Pray that the wisdom from God’s Word will direct, correct, and instruct you today.

2.

3.

4.

Philippians 3

No Confidence in the Flesh
1 Further, my brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord! It is no trouble for me to write the same things to you again, and it is a safeguard for you. 2 Watch out for those dogs, those evildoers, those mutilators of the flesh. 3 For it is we who are the circumcision, we who serve God by his Spirit, who boast in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh— 4 though I myself have reasons for such confidence. If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5 circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; 6 as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless. 7 But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8 What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in[a] Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. 10 I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.
12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
Following Paul’s Example
15 All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. 16 Only let us live up to what we have already attained.
17 Join together in following my example, brothers and sisters, and just as you have us as a model, keep your eyes on those who live as we do. 18 For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things. 20 But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.
Footnotes:
a Philippians 3:9 Or through the faithfulness of
end of footnotes end of crossrefs

 

January 20 Devotional

Philippians 3

1.  Paul constantly repeats the phrase “rejoice in the Lord.”  It is not surprising that he begins this chapter by reminding us of this, again.  A believer who rejoices in the Lord is a healthy believer.  This is a distinctive sign of a victorious Christian who has peace and contentment. Therefore, it is the one thing Paul repeats over and over and over again: rejoice in the Lord.

How are you rejoicing in the Lord today?

 

 

2.  “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (PHILIPPIANS 3:14)
Saul, the young man who was to become the Apostle Paul, knew what it was to strive to please God by fulfilling requirements of the religion in which he had been raised. He vigorously opposed anything that was outside of his system of beliefs. All that was so important to him fell away when he met the risen Christ. He had studied about God. But then he met his living Lord.

The religion that once had spawned Saul’s hatred and persecution of those who did not conform took on a whole new dimension. The truths he had studied now came alive. He had met the One the prophets foretold, and his life was filled with joy and purpose. All that mattered was to know Christ and complete God’s assignment. Until his death, Paul loved and served his Lord wholeheartedly. (Haven)

God has a plan for each of us, too. How it unfolds may be as surprising and dramatic as the changes that came for Saul. On the other hand, His plan may be more subtle in our lives, unfolding with each New Year and drawing us closer to Jesus.

How is God working in your life right now?

 

 

 3.  Prayer Requests:

1.  Pray that the wisdom from God’s Word will direct, correct, and instruct you today.
2.

3.

4.

Philippians 2

 Imitating Christ’s Humility

Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mindDo nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;

7rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.

And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name,

10  that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,

11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

 Do Everything Without Grumbling

12 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.

14 Do everything without grumbling or arguing, 15 so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky 16 as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain. 17 But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. 18 So you too should be glad and rejoice with me.

Timothy and Epaphroditus

19 I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, that I also may be cheered when I receive news about you. 20 I have no one else like him, who will show genuine concern for your welfare. 21 For everyone looks out for their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. 22 But you know that Timothy has proved himself, because as a son with his father he has served with me in the work of the gospel. 23 I hope, therefore, to send him as soon as I see how things go with me. 24 And I am confident in the Lord that I myself will come soon.

25 But I think it is necessary to send back to you Epaphroditus, my brother, co-worker and fellow soldier, who is also your messenger, whom you sent to take care of my needs. 26 For he longs for all of you and is distressed because you heard he was ill. 27 Indeed he was ill, and almost died. But God had mercy on him, and not on him only but also on me, to spare me sorrow upon sorrow. 28 Therefore I am all the more eager to send him, so that when you see him again you may be glad and I may have less anxiety. 29 So then, welcome him in the Lord with great joy, and honor people like him, 30 because he almost died for the work of Christ. He risked his life to make up for the help you yourselves could not give me.

 

January 19, 2015 Devotional

Philippians 2

  1. In verse one the word “if” occurs four times, it is used in the same sense that we use the word “since” and describes four conditions. What are the four conditions Paul cites in verse 1 to encourage the Philippians to do the things he asks of them in verse 2?

If ____________________________

If ____________________________

If ____________________________

If ____________________________

2.  What does God tell us to do in verses 3 and 4 of this second chapter of Philippians? Fill in the blanks.

Do nothing out of _________________ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in ________________ value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the ___________________.

 

  1. Verse five tells us that our attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus. Reread verses 5-8: 5In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; 7rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!

According to these scriptures, describe the attitude that we should have:

 

 

4.  In verse 14 Paul exhorts the Philippians to do everything without murmurings or arguing. Other translations say without: grumbling, arguing, complaining or disputing. I love how The Message translates verses 14-16:

 14-16 Do everything readily and cheerfully—no bickering, no second-guessing allowed! Go out into the world uncorrupted, a breath of fresh air in this squalid and polluted society. Provide people with a glimpse of good living and of the living God. Carry the light-giving Message into the night so I’ll have good cause to be proud of you on the day that Christ returns. You’ll be living proof that I didn’t go to all this work for nothing.

What do you think would happen around you at home, at work, in the community… if you lived according to verses 14-16?

 

Prayer Requests:

1.  Pray that the wisdom from God’s Word will direct, correct, and instruct you today.

2.

3.

4.

 

Background Information

BOOK OF PHILIPPIANS

AUTHOR
The apostle Paul, in a night vision a decade before the writing of this letter received a call to preach in the region of Macedonia (Philippians 1:1; see Acts 16:6-10). Paul had never before been to Europe, but, obedient to the vision, he sailed to Macedonia’s coastal port Neapolis, then walked nine miles inland to Philippi, the area’s “foremost city” (Acts 16:12). Timothy, his young disciple and traveling companion on that trip may have served as an amanuensis or secretary for this letter (Philippians 1:1; Act 16:1-5; 1 Timothy :1, 2, 2 Timothy 1:1,2). Philippians is categorized as one of Paul’s four prison epistles (see chart , The Timeline of Paul).

DATE
After several subsequent visits to Philippi and the receiving of occasional financial support, Paul, now imprisoned in Rome, wrote this letter to the Philippians around A.D. 60-63.

BACKGROUND
Setting: Philippi’s original name was Krenides (lit. “Little Fountains”), a delightful town set on a hill with an abundance of springs for water supply. Philippi’s river bank was mentioned as a gathering place for prayer for Lydia and other women (Acts 16:13).
In 356 B.C., when Philip of Macedon began his reign over the surrounding province of Macedonia, he gave his own name to these springs (lit. “the-Philips”). In 42 B.C., Philippi became famous as a battlesite. Julius Caesar had been assassinated, and four of his generals vied to replace him: Cassius and Brutus fought Octavius and Mark Antony at Philippi. Octavius and Mark Antony were victorious, then fought each other for the top position. Octavius won, pronounced himself emperor, and changed his name to Augustus (even naming a month of the year after himself). With that, Rome was no longer a republic but an empirical dictatorship. About thirty years later, “a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered” (Luke 2:1). Under God, this caesar determined the birthplace of Jesus.
Meanwhile, Augustus retreated often to his Philippi resort, the site of his great triumph, and designated it a Roman colony (Acts 16:12). For the Philippians, this designation made a tremendous social and psychological difference. The surrounding province of Macedonia, physically lower in elevation, now had no authority over them. And like all other Roman citizens, they were exempt from taxes, could buy and sell as they pleased, could file legal suits, and could assume privileges appropriate to being part of empirical Rom (Acts 16:20, 21, 37-39). This situation might explain their tendency to arrogance and the need for Paul to stress humility in his letter to them.

AUDIENCE: These Philippians are our cultural forebears – progressive westerners. When Paul crossed the water westward from Troas to Philippi – from Asia to Europe, culturally, he took a giant step. The women of Philippi had great independence. They gathered for meeting (Acts 16:13); they ran their own businesses (Acts 16:14); and they even feuded in the church (Philippians 4:2, 3).
Women played a prominent part in the Book of Philippians – perhaps as much or more than any other single book. The Philippian story began with women meeting on “the riverside, where prayer was customarily made” (Act 16:12, 13). Since Philippi became the first European city in which Paul preached, his first European convert may have been a woman, Lydia of Philippi and her household (Acts 16:14); later came a Philippian jailer and his family (Acts 16:27-34). Paul’s persecution began over his compassion for a young woman – a Philippian girl abused by the occult (Acts 16:16-19). And a decade later, trouble within the church focused on two feuding women, Euodia and Syntyche (Philippians 4:2,3).
In the ten intervening years since his first visit, Paul, coming and going from Philippi several times, had been arrested, tried, and sent to Rome to a higher court, where he was soon to be on trial for his life before Nero (see chart, Political Rulers in the New Testament). Normally prisoners would have been held in some isolated dungeon and then executed; but because Paul was a Roman citizen, he had appealed to Caesar himself. Therefore, he was under house arrest and could write letters as well as receive visitors and gifts (Act 28:30,31). We have no biblical record of his death; tradition says he was later convicted and executed, following a second Roman imprisonment (see 2 Timothy 1:16, 17).

PURPOSE: The Philippians had occasionally sent Paul money, the latest support being delivered by young Epaphroditus, a member of their church. When Epaphroditus got deathly sick and then recovered, Paul wrote to the Philippians for two reasons: to thank them for their gift (Philippians 4:10-20) and to return Epaphroditus with the letter, so they could see for themselves that he was well again (Philippians 2:25, 27-30). He may also have used this letter to announce Timothy’s coming visit (Philippians 2:29), to express his own desire to come again to Philippi (Philippians 2:24), to address the problem between the two women in the Philippian church (Philippians 4:2), or perhaps some combination of these.

LITERARY CHARACTERISTICS: As in Paul’s other epistles, Philippians unfolds in the style of personal correspondence, opening with the mention of the author (which in subsequent generations has been moved to the closing of a letter), followed by the salutation or names of the addressees. There follows the formal greeting, then the body of the letter with final words of greeting as the conclusion. One unique feature of this letter is what some have described as a Christological hymn (Philippians 2:5-11). This beautiful; rhythmical passage presents a brief lesson in Christology, beginning with Jesus’ pre-incarnate state, followed by His Incarnation, Crucifixion, and ultimately His heavenly exaltation.

THEMES
The letter is not primarily a doctrinal dissertation but a personal note: a flower as much to be enjoyed in a garden or vase as to be studied under a microscope. Its major themes, rather than being sequentially laid out, are mentioned and then interrupted many times.
The primary emphasis is joy (an idea occurring more than fifteen times) with resultant unity and humility as secondary emphases.

Philippians 1

1 Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus,
To all God’s holy people in Christ Jesus at Philippi, together with the overseers and deacons
2 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Thanksgiving and Prayer
3 I thank my God every time I remember you. 4 In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy 5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, 6 being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
7 It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart and, whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me. 8 God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.
9 And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, 10 so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.
Paul’s Chains Advance the Gospel
12 Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel. 13 As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. 14 And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear.
15 It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. 16 The latter do so out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. 17 The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. 18 But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.
Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, 19 for I know that through your prayers and God’s provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance. 20 I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 22 If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! 23 I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; 24 but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. 25 Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, 26 so that through my being with you again your boasting in Christ Jesus will abound on account of me.
Life Worthy of the Gospel
27 Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit striving together as one for the faith of the gospel 28 without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved—and that by God. 29 For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him, 30 since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have.

January 16 devotional
Philippians chapter 1

1. Scripture emphasizes the power of prayer; we see prayer exemplified by many important men and women of the Bible, and we know that Jesus constantly modeled prayer. However, many believers often neglect their prayer lives. This should not be!
One way to improve your prayer life is to study the prayers of these great men and women in God’s Word. Let’s begin by looking at Paul’s prayer for the Philippians in chapter 1. In verses 3-4 we see that he spent time thanking God for the Philippians.3 I thank my God every time I remember you. 4 In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy.

Pause to pray for those in your life today. Don’t forget to THANK GOD for those around you. Make a list of those whom you want to commit to pray for daily:

2. Verses 9-11 state: And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.
According to verse 9, what is Paul’s prayer for the Philippians?
_________________________________________________________________
So they may be able to ______________________
So they may be _______________ and _________________________.
So they may be filled with the _______________________________________.
Why? To the glory ______________________________.
**Paul was specific in his prayers. We need to pray with a purpose.

3. Verses 12-13- Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel. 13 As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ.

Can good come from bad? (vs 12-13) Explain

Prayer Requests:

Pray that the wisdom from God’s Word will direct, correct, and instruct you today.

1.

2.

3.

4.

Ruth 4

Boaz Marries Ruth

Meanwhile Boaz went up to the town gate and sat down there just as the guardian-redeemer[a] he had mentioned came along. Boaz said, “Come over here, my friend, and sit down.” So he went over and sat down.

Boaz took ten of the elders of the town and said, “Sit here,” and they did so. Then he said to the guardian-redeemer, “Naomi, who has come back from Moab, is selling the piece of land that belonged to our relative Elimelek. I thought I should bring the matter to your attention and suggest that you buy it in the presence of these seated here and in the presence of the elders of my people. If you will redeem it, do so. But if you[b] will not, tell me, so I will know. For no one has the right to do it except you, and I am next in line.”

“I will redeem it,” he said.

Then Boaz said, “On the day you buy the land from Naomi, you also acquire Ruth the Moabite, the[c] dead man’s widow, in order to maintain the name of the dead with his property.”

At this, the guardian-redeemer said, “Then I cannot redeem it because I might endanger my own estate. You redeem it yourself. I cannot do it.”

(Now in earlier times in Israel, for the redemption and transfer of property to become final, one party took off his sandal and gave it to the other. This was the method of legalizing transactions in Israel.)

So the guardian-redeemer said to Boaz, “Buy it yourself.” And he removed his sandal.

Then Boaz announced to the elders and all the people, “Today you are witnesses that I have bought from Naomi all the property of Elimelek, Kilion and Mahlon. 10 I have also acquired Ruth the Moabite, Mahlon’s widow, as my wife, in order to maintain the name of the dead with his property, so that his name will not disappear from among his family or from his hometown. Today you are witnesses!”

11 Then the elders and all the people at the gate said, “We are witnesses. May the Lord make the woman who is coming into your home like Rachel and Leah, who together built up the family of Israel. May you have standing in Ephrathah and be famous in Bethlehem. 12 Through the offspring the Lord gives you by this young woman, may your family be like that of Perez, whom Tamar bore to Judah.”

Naomi Gains a Son

13 So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife. When he made love to her, the Lord enabled her to conceive, and she gave birth to a son. 14 The women said to Naomi: “Praise be to the Lord, who this day has not left you without a guardian-redeemer. May he become famous throughout Israel! 15 He will renew your life and sustain you in your old age. For your daughter-in-law, who loves you and who is better to you than seven sons, has given him birth.”

16 Then Naomi took the child in her arms and cared for him. 17 The women living there said, “Naomi has a son!” And they named him Obed. He was the father of Jesse, the father of David.

The Genealogy of David

18 This, then, is the family line of Perez:

Perez was the father of Hezron,

19 Hezron the father of Ram,

Ram the father of Amminadab,

20 Amminadab the father of Nahshon,

Nahshon the father of Salmon,[d]

21 Salmon the father of Boaz,

Boaz the father of Obed,

22 Obed the father of Jesse,

and Jesse the father of David.

Footnotes:

  • Ruth 4:1 The Hebrew word for guardian-redeemer is a legal term for one who has the obligation to redeem a relative in serious difficulty (see Lev. 25:25-55); also in verses 3, 6, 8 and 14.
  • Ruth 4:4 Many Hebrew manuscripts, Septuagint, Vulgate and Syriac; most Hebrew manuscripts he
  • Ruth 4:5 Vulgate and Syriac; Hebrew (see also Septuagint) Naomi and from Ruth the Moabite, you acquire the
  • Ruth 4:20 A few Hebrew manuscripts, some Septuagint manuscripts and Vulgate (see also verse 21 and Septuagint of 1 Chron. 2:11); most Hebrew manuscripts Salma

 

 

January 15 Devotional

Ruth chapter 4

 

The excitement in the Book of Ruth climaxes in chapter 4 as her future fate hinges on the outcome of a discussion between Boaz and the near kinsman-redeemer. When the kinsman-redeemer renounces his right, Boaz announces his intention to be the kinsman-redeemer as he is next in line. They marry and have a son who is the grandfather of David out of whose lineage come Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.

In verse 6, the near kinsman redeemer discovers that the redemption of the land also involved the marriage to Ruth. He was not prepared to both purchase the land and marry Ruth. “I cannot redeem it because I might endanger my own estate.” Had the man purchased the land, married Ruth and if a son was born to the union, the son would then receive the land and his inheritance.  The estate of the kinsman-redeemer would be reduced by the amount he paid for the field, so his own estate would be jeopardized if he were not a wealthy man.

  1. This kinsman redeemer paused and thought through the future impact of the decision to claim the land and Ruth. He decided not to gamble with a decision that might have future negative effects. So often we ‘bite off more than we can chew’ and we suffer the consequences later. For example, we go into heavy debt; we are exhausted because we say yes to too many tasks; or we are stressed because we can’t keep up with everything on our plate. How can you prevent this from happening?

 

 

  1. After Boaz seals the deal by the passing of the sandal, the people begin the high fives. Verses 11-12 say: Then the elders and all the people at the gate said, “We are witnesses. May the Lord make the woman who is coming into your home like Rachel and Leah, who together built up the family of Israel. May you have standing in Ephrathah and be famous in Bethlehem. 12 Through the offspring the Lord gives you by this young woman, may your family be like that of Perez, whom Tamar bore to Judah.”

This beautiful blessing directed to Boaz and Ruth… Ruth, the woman who had lost it all, Ruth, the woman who was foreign in a new land, Ruth, the woman who was willing to take the road of commitment over the road of convenience.

You may be going through tough times right now, or you may be on the other side of tough times. How have you seen God work in your life?

 

  1. Application- 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says,  All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teachingrebukingcorrecting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.  How has God’s Word spoken to you today?

 

Prayer Requests:

  1. Pray that the wisdom from God’s Word will direct, correct, and instruct you today.

2.

3.

4.

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