• THE LAW AND GRACE

    Paul's Guidance to the Colossians

  • Reading Plan: Nov. 9-13

    I will post the new week's plan every Sunday

    Day 1 - Monday, November 9

    If you were to ask people what “morality” is, they would probably tell you that it is a list of things you aren’t supposed to do. For many people - inside and outside the church - their idea of a “good person” is defined by what they “don’t” do. That’s understandable. We live in a society of...

     

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    Day 2 - Tuesday, November 10

    Colossians 3 is a big transition in the text. Paul moves from the “Theological Section” - where he is teaching his audience the big concepts about God - to the “Practical Section” - where he tells us how we can apply the lesson. If you’ve been wondering “so, what am I supposed to live this out?”...

     

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    Day 3 - Wednesday, November 11

    This short, but often controversial, passage is one of the more misunderstood sections of the New Testament. As such, I will spend a little time unpacking what it does - and doesn’t - mean. What many modern Christians fear when they read this passage that begins with “Wives submit…” is that...

     

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    Day 4 - Thursday, November 12

    Paul wraps up this letter with some final instructions to the church and then gives some personal greetings. This last paragraph of “practical theology” is short and easy to miss, but I encourage you to give it a few moments’ thought. Paul starts by encouraging the believers to be diligent in...

     

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    Day 5 - Friday, November 13

    Philemon is the shortest of Paul’s letters, and is perhaps the most unusual. Most of the letters written by Paul that made it into the New Testament were written to churches. You can tell by the way they are named: “Epistle to the Romans,” “Epistle to the Philippians,” “Epistle to the...

     

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  • Reading Plan: Nov. 2-6

    I will post the new week's plan every Sunday

    Day 1 - Monday, November 2

    Starting this week, we will be reading the book of Colossians. Since this is the first time we will be reading one of Paul's letters, I thought it might be helpful to offer a short guide on how to read the epistles. The post below is a general guide to Paul's Epistles, with some specific guidance for Colossians.

     

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    Day 3 - Wednesday, November 3

    Paul opens his letter as he always does - by introducing himself and the people to whom he is speaking. This is the typical way letters in this day would have begun. Paul then follows up this brief introduction with a short prayer, before he gets into the meat of his letter...

     

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    Day 3 - Thursday, November 4

    Paul jumps straight into the next section of his outline: the Theological section. As a reminder, the Theological section is where Paul teaches his audience something about God and who He is. This is the “meat” of the book - it's where we come to understand God, His plan, salvation or some other part of our faith...

     

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    Day 3 - Friday, November 5

    Early in my teaching career, I was leading a class of seventh grade students through the book of Galatians. During class discussion a student - whom I will call “Tom” - raised his hand, clearly frustrated with the passage we were reading...

     

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  • Reading Plan: Oct. 26-30

    Day 1 - Monday, October 26

    Matthew 23 has the clearest theme of any chapter in the New Testament: hypocrisy. The entire chapter is devoted to Jesus roasting the Pharisees over their central vise, and His words serve as a warning both to those original offenders, and also to those of us tempted to follow in their footsteps....

     

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    Day 3 - Wednesday, October 28

    We are now entering the endgame of Jesus’ ministry. In less than 24 hours, He will have His Last Supper with the disciples before being betrayed by Judas. This chapter, then, represents the last sermon that Jesus preached before He died for the sins of the world. In this final address to His...

     

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    Day 3 - Thursday, October 29

    The story of Jesus, the Messiah, Son of David and Son of Joseph now enters the last day of His life on this earth. Matthew goes into great detail here - Matthew 26 is the longest chapter of his gospel - and it is tempting to talk for page after page about each snippet we are given. Indeed, I...

     

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    MATTHEW 27: Coming Soon

    Day 3 - Friday, October 30

  • Reading Plan: Oct. 19-23

    Day 1 - Monday, October 12

    Momma Zebedee must have been a truly formidable woman. A sailor’s wife, she had raised two devout sons to follow their father’s footsteps into the family trade, only to see them run off after some preacher from Nazareth. Rather than fume or pout, she evidently tags along on a trip to Jerusalem,...

     

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    Day 2 - Tuesday, October 13

    We are now in the endgame of Jesus ministry. While the first 20 chapters of Matthew cover Jesus’ birth through His early thirties, these last eight chapters detail a single, momentous week in the Lord’s life - and in the history of the human race. The story that opens this chapter, the...

     

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    Day 3 - Wednesday, October 14

    Chapter 22 opens not long after the Triumphal Entry with Jesus telling another parable. Likely one of Jesus’ more biting and divisive messages, this is a parable that often confuses modern readers because we miss some of the crucial context. In the story, a king is throwing a wedding feast for...

     

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  • Reading Plan: Oct. 12-16

    Day 1 - Monday, October 12

    The Pharisees get a bad rap. Reading through the Gospels, it is easy to picture them as the villains of the tale - conniving and hypocritical with no redeeming quality. Based on the picture we get of them in the Gospels they appear almost cartoonishly evil - the sort of characters who should be...

     

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    Day 2 - Tuesday, October 13

    The Bible tells us surprisingly little about Jesus’ Twelve Disciples. Apart from their names and a few chosen stories, we know next to nothing about most of these pivotal figures of the early church. What was Simon the Zealot like? How about Bartholomew? The obvious exception to this is, of...

     

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    Day 3 - Wednesday, October 14

    The Transfiguration is one of the more remarkable of the wondrous events in the Gospels, but also among the more puzzling. In the story, Jesus suddenly appears to shine like the sun and is accompanied by Elijah and Moses. At first read, this seems fascinating but bizarre. Why did these two Old...

     

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    Day 4 - Thursday, October 15

    If you asked a bunch of Bible students to identify the most terrifying passage in the Bible, you would undoubtedly receive a variety of answers. Some might point to some of the difficult passages in the Old Testament which discuss putting whole populations to the sword. Others would turn to the...

     

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    Day 5 - Friday, October 16

    The story of the Rich Young Man (Matt. 19:16-26) is a common source for questions from my students - particularly now that I work in a private school that, by the nature of the industry, tends to attract families on the higher end of the socio-economic ladder. The story begins with a young man...

     

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  • Reading Plan: Oct. 5-9

    Day 1 - Monday, October 5

    While Matthew doesn’t give us a clear sense of the passage of time between stories, it is safe to assume by this point that Jesus’ disciples had by now been studying at the Master’s feet for several months - possibly more than a year. During that time they had spent every moment in Jesus presence...

     

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    Day 2 - Tuesday, October 6

    John the Baptist receives far less recognition than he deserves from modern day Christians. We treat the passages about him as little more than filler or introduction to the story of Jesus, but for much of Jesus’ ministry, John likely had the larger following. His campaign to call the people of...

     

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    Day 3 - Wednesday, October 7

    A common complaint given by atheists and other nonbelievers against belief in God is that, if only they could see a miracle with their own eyes, they would believe. Believing in God is so difficult - surely if we received irrefutable proof that He exists, everyone would believe in Him! There...

     

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    Day 4 - Thursday, October 8

    By this point in Jesus’ ministry, His followers had grown from a handful of disciples to a mob of thousands who, as we will see in the next chapter, were willing to follow Jesus great distances. As the crowd around Jesus swelled, more changed than their mere numbers. While Jesus’ closest...

     

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    Day 5 - Friday, October 9

    The Feeding of the Five Thousand is the only miracle (aside from the resurrection) recorded in all four Gospels. It is also one of the most popular, as anyone who was ever made a “Loaves and Fishes” craft in Sunday School can readily attest. Despite this fact, it is rare for us to really...

     

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  • Reading Plan: Sept. 28-Oct. 2

    Day 1 - Monday, September 28

    As Jesus’ message began to spread, people flocked from miles away to see this “Messiah.” Seeing the miracles He performed and heard the words He spoke, many believed and began to press Him asking, “When will the Kingdom come? When will the revolution occur? What is the battle plan?” And so...

     

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    Day 2 - Tuesday, September 29

    In Chapter 5, Jesus laid out the battle plan for His new Kingdom - that His followers will embody a new kind of righteousness that goes beyond mere rule following and is satisfied with nothing less than perfection. By doing that, these disciples will be “lights to the world” whose transformed...

     

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    Day 3 - Wednesday, September 30

    In High School, I was a member of our local branch of the National Honors Society (NHS). Well, I say “I was a member...” The truth was, I was inducted. I never actually attended any meetings, turned in any paperwork or submitted service hours. I couldn’t have told you the name of the faculty...

     

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    Day 4 - Thursday, October 1

    After He gives the Sermon on the Mount and explains what His Kingdom will be like, Jesus returns to Galilee and begins to build it. Once again, Matthew’s account subverts the expectations of his time. Anyone living during the day would have expected Jesus to begin His movement by going to the...

     

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    Day 5 - Friday, October 2

    Matthew 9 is the second consecutive chapter that is almost entirely centered around Jesus’ performing miracles generally, and Him healing in particular. If we aren’t careful, these sections can begin to blur together, and we can miss the message that Matthew is trying to get across to us. One...

     

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  • Reading Plan: September 18-24

    Day 1 - Friday, September 18

    The book of Matthew serves as our gateway into the New Testament. It is fitting then, that it opens with the following verse: “This is the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah the son of David, the son of Abraham” (Matt. 1:1 NIV) This tends to be the sort of jargon-heavy sentence that most readers...

     

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    Day 2 - Monday, September 21

    Traditionally, depictions of the Christmas story focus on the person of Mary, and with good reason. Mary’s humble acceptance of God’s sovereign plan and her willingness to carry inside her the child that would save the world is an inspiring story for all followers of Christ. Her example is,...

     

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    Day 3 - Tuesday, September 22

    The magi were always my favorite characters to place in the nativity scene at Christmas time. While all of the other characters looked largely the same, the magi were distinctive - dressed in fine clothes, carrying gifts they stand out among the other worshipers of baby Jesus as much now as they...

     

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    Day 4 - Wednesday, September 23

    John the Baptist is a difficult character for many modern readers to relate to. Partly, this is because we are told so little about him, and what we are told tends to leave us bewildered. Who was this man? What was the purpose of his message? And why did he dress and eat like some sort of...

     

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    Day 5 - Thursday, September 24

    On the heels of Jesus publicly announcing His identity as the Messiah and starting His ministry He heads off into the wilderness “to be tempted by the devil.” (Matt. 4:1 NIV). As I mentioned in my previous post, the wilderness East of the Jordan river was a place of deep historical and...

     

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