Open to God’s Love

One of the best explanations of prayer is based on Revelation 3.20. Jesus is speaking and says: “Listen! I am standing at the door, knocking; if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in and eat with you, and you with me” (Revelation 3.20). Our problems, internal impulses, and worries are […]

Our Need and God’s Provision

As a servant of God, Paul knew the full range of experiences, both good and bad. He faced, “great endurance, afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, and hunger” (2 Corinthians 6.5). While in jail in Ephesus, Paul wrote, “I rejoice in the Lord greatly,” (Philippians 4.10). The word “rejoice” was mentioned more […]

Worried? Let’s Pray

For the second time in two weeks, my blog article doesn’t match the video that Rudy Ross and I produce. There’s a computer reason why this is so, but it is mostly human error. In the words of my friends who have been trained by the Missouri Department of Corrections let me say, “I apologize […]

Spiritual Lessons About Our Thought Lives

Philippians is a short letter, but it is filled with powerful lessons for followers of Jesus. One lesson considers our thought lives. Philippians 4.8-9 – Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there […]

Overcome Worry with Prayer

A good verse to memorize is this one about worry and prayer. Philippians 4.6-7 – Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in […]

Get Unified and Celebrate!

I have had my share of squabbles in my 50 years in the ministry. I am very thankful that my disagreements with others didn’t make the pages of the Bible. That was not the case for two women in Philippi. Their quarrel was so pronounced that Paul challenged them to unity in his letter. Think […]

Imitate Paul, not the Current Culture

Paul made a sandwich out of two statements, with the middle portion being the “meat” of his argument. On either end of his message, he appeals for the church to imitate his behavior. Philippians 3.17 – Brothers and sisters, join in imitating me, and observe those who live according to the example you have in […]

Setting Goals

A very successful man told me in a personal conversation, “If you don’t plan your life, someone else will do it for you.” If you set a short-sighted goal, Steven Covey’s opinion will ring true for you: “You may climb the ladder to success, only to realize you have leaned it against the wrong building.” […]

The Surpassing Value of Knowing Jesus

Jesus told his followers, “If you gain the whole world but lose your soul, you’ve made the worst decision of a lifetime” (Mark 8.27 my paraphrase). To be eternally lost is tragic. Just ask the rich man in the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus (Luke 16.19-30). To lose your soul or inside condition […]

When Tough Talk is Justified

Generally speaking, Paul used tough language to address two issues: (1) wrong doctrine and (2) when weak church members were harmed. Like his letter to the Galatians and the Corinthians, Paul used strong language when Jewish Christians attempted to press Gentile believers into Jewish molds. The issue of Jewish boundary markers was present in Philippi […]

The Failure of Self-Interest

I know “in my head” that self-interest won’t work, but I pursue it on a daily basis. You’d think I’d be farther along in my walk with Christ all these years. If you are anything like me, Paul’s words to the Philippians are a good reminder that there is a better way to live. Philippians […]

When God Works in Us

Forty years ago I memorized Philippians 2.13. It is one of the most important Bible verses in my life and I hope it will also be one for you. Philippians 2.12-13 – Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work […]

Why Jesus is Worthy of Praise

E. Stanley Jones, the famous Methodist missionary to India, once spent the night in the Garden of Gethsemane. As Jones prayed and meditated on the crucifixion of Jesus, he responded in worshipful praise. Yesterday’s blog article considered the most unusual man who walked the face of the earth, Jesus Christ. Rudy Ross reminds us in […]

How To Approach Life Like Jesus

Jesus had the most distinctive approach to life and the wisest thing we can do is imitate his way of life. Philippians 2.5 – Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus. It is a high aspiration to be like Jesus in 2022, but in the first century, Jesus’ behavior would […]

The Mind of Christ and a United Church

When the church has the “mind of Christ,” it will foster similar attitudes and actions among the members. Paul made this clear to the church in Corinth. 1 Corinthians 1.10 – Now I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you be in agreement and […]

How can a divided church be united?

Paul issued an impassioned plea for unity in the second chapter of Philippians. Philippians 2.1-2 – If, then, there is any comfort in Christ, any consolation from love, any partnership in the Spirit, any tender affection and sympathy, Make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord […]

Live Worthy of the Gospel

Paul’s direction is to “live your life in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ” (Philippians 1.27). The gospel of Christ includes a message about how to go to heaven when you die, but it is much more. This is how Mark describes the gospel. Mark 1.14-15 – Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the […]

Assurance of Heaven

I have often used today’s Bible passage to comfort families at the death of a loved one. There is a profound assurance of a good future for believers in this passage, but that is not the central message in these verses. Personal Interests and God’s Glory There was little value for human life in the […]

All things work together for good.

When one of my friends was being arrested for the last time, he said to the officer, “You didn’t arrest me. You are rescuing me.” He wanted his life of addiction and crime to end but didn’t know how to surrender. God used the judicial system to accomplish what seemed impossible to my friend. My […]

Prayer and Love in Action

Paul was in prison in Ephesus or modern-day Turkey. Prisoners were not fed by their jailers and depended on the support of others for their sustenance. The church at Philippi collected money and traveled 335 miles to deliver their love offering to Paul. Paul’s letter to the church was a “thank you” note from the […]

The Armor of God

Humans have three powers that seek to steal, kill, and destroy their lives (John 10.10a). The nightly news records the assault on humans by the world’s system that is arranged for the benefit of a select few at the expense of the many. The human tendency to indulge selfishness and willfulness undercuts our best intentions […]

Raising Kids and Going to Work

I don’t know about you, but when I was a kid I didn’t know that one of the Ten Commandments involved honoring your father and mother (Exodus 20.12). If I had known of Paul’s teaching in Ephesians, I’m not sure I would have taken it to heart. Ephesians 6.1-3 – Children, obey your parents in […]

The Bride of Christ

God uncovered the future to John. Revelation 19:6-8 – Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the sound of many waters and like the sound of mighty thunderpeals, crying out, “Hallelujah!For the Lord Godthe Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and exultand give him the glory,for the marriage of […]

Recommendations for Husbands and Wives

Today’s blog article features Paul’s rules for relationships between husbands and wives. Tomorrow’s article will cover the same verses and see how Paul applied them to the church. An Unfortunate Translation Bible translators have done the church a great service by reliably bringing ancient texts to life in the modern world. Unfortunately, there are times […]

Make the Most of Your Life

You may remember the old beer commercial, “You Only Go Around Once In life. So Grab For All The Gusto – Schlitz Beer.” Paul has a different opinion about what to do with the time we have on earth. Ephesians 5.15-17 – Be careful, then, how you live, not as unwise people but as wise, […]

Be Imitators of God

Chapter 5 of Ephesians commands followers of Jesus to “be imitators of God.” Ephesians 5.1-2 – Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children, and walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. Dallas Willard’s expression, “living a Jesus-kind-of-life,” captures what it means […]

Rules for the New Life

Jesus doesn’t want us to deceive ourselves. Our behavior shows the reality of our faith. Jesus spoke about false prophets, but his words can be applied to ourselves. Matthew 7.17-18, 20 – In the same way, every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad […]

Backsliding Christians

The potential to slide back into our old ways is as old as Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. Every generation of the church needs Paul’s message. Ephesians 4.17-19 – Now this I affirm and insist on in the Lord: you must no longer walk as the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their minds; They […]

Moving Toward Maturity

Children are cute, but a 16 or 60-year-old who acts like a child is anything but cute. There is something very engaging in new Christians. It seems that new Christians run after Jesus with great passion. What one man had to say about children is true for new Christians too. “They run, but they don’t […]

Become What You Are!

Followers of Jesus can be “filled with all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3.19). God has “raised us up with him [Jesus] and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2.6). These two verses summarize who we are as followers of Jesus. Like a motivational coach, Paul says in effect […]

A Prayer for Our Inside Condition

In today’s YouTube video Rudy Ross asks me how I use Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 3 in my conversations with God. Richard Foster’s writings have given me permission to experiment with different ways of prayer. I read a book by Francis Frangipane in the 1990s that provided a format for using the Bible in prayer. […]

What are we doing with God’s grace?

Paul’s writings are frequently like an over-packed suitcase. He crams a tremendous amount of thought into a short space. I have divided Paul’s thoughts into bite-sized portions, so we won’t miss the importance of his message. Grace to Serve Grace is often defined as “unmerited favor.” It is tempting to see grace as God’s gift […]

Revelation Knowledge

Paul received information by means of God’s revelation. It was so significant that he was willing to experience multiple hardships, including imprisonment. What was this knowledge and why was it so important to convey it to others at the risk of his life? Ephesians 3.1-6 – This is the reason that I, Paul, am a […]

Without Hope and Without God

To be without hope and without God is possibly the worst situation anyone could experience. If something is worse, I can’t imagine what it would be. This is Paul’s picture of humans who are separate from God. Ephesians 2.11-12 – So then, remember that at one time you Gentiles by birth, called “the uncircumcision” by […]

Why in the world am I on earth?

Have you ever wondered why you are on planet earth? Why were you born in the United States, rather than a Pacific island or a desert in Africa? Why do you have the physical and mental attributes that define who you are? I don’t know about you, but I believe that few people ask themselves […]

The Immeasurable Riches of God’s Grace

Much of Ephesians can be viewed through the lens of worship. Some of the most exalted languages in the Bible are used to describe God’s love in this letter. Against the background of sin and rebellion, God’s grace rescues humans. — Ephesians 2.5-9 – By grace you have been saved And raised us up with […]

Amazing Grace

It is estimated that the hymn, “Amazing Grace,” is sung 11 million times each year. It has been performed by Elvis Presley, Aretha Franklin, Andrea Bocelli, Steven Tyler of Aerosmith, Carrie Underwood, Alan Jackson, President Obama, and millions more. The song was written by John Newton in 1772. At age 11, Newton was taken to […]

Remembering the Former Life

On my 21st birthday, I attended a tent revival near a swamp in Southeast Missouri. My partner for the event was a very large man from Southern Illinois whom I met while preaching in his town. He and his wife had originally lived in Chicago. She was a nightclub singer and he was a small-time […]

Paul’s School of Prayer (Part 2)

I hope you have experimented with praying Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 1.15-23. Here are examples of discoveries I made while putting this great prayer in my own words. — Verse 15 – I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love. There are some people on my prayer list, who are […]

Paul’s School of Prayer (Part 1)

If you’re interested in learning how to pray better, you’ve come to the right place. Paul’s school of prayer is open and you can learn from a master of prayer. — Ephesians 1.15-19 – I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, and for this reason […]

Our Inheritance Sealed by the Spirit

“He made his money the old-fashioned way,” a man said. “He inherited it.” Readers of my blog may or may not inherit money, but Jesus has given us a greater inheritance than money. — Ephesians 1.11-14 – In Christ we have also obtained an inheritance, having been destined according to the purpose of him who […]

The Goal of History

World events may seem chaotic and confusing, but God is directing history toward a predetermined goal. Even though followers of Jesus are caught in the swirl of cosmic forces, they are given insight into God’s plan for the ages. — Ephesians 1.8b-10 – With all wisdom and insight he has made known to us the […]

Reasons to Praise!

Paul piles words upon words in an attempt to describe the amazing love and grace of God that gives us the privilege of being children of God. — Ephesians 1.5-8 – He destined us for adoption as his children through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of his will, To the praise of his […]

Predestination and Free Will

Scholars have debated the subject of predestination and free will for centuries. I will not solve the question in a brief blog article, but I hope to add some practical thought to the question. In today’s YouTube video, Rudy Ross has one of the best explanations I have heard. You can find the video on […]

Spiritual Blessings in Christ

— Ephesians 1.1-4 – Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the saints who are in Ephesus and are faithful in Christ Jesus: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has […]

The Law of Sowing and Reaping

My mother was a very good gardener. She grew some of the finest tomatoes and bib lettuce I’ve ever eaten. One fact of her gardening that was completely consistent is that bib lettuce seeds did not produce tomato plants. Neither did the tomato plants produce lettuce. We accept this truth of gardening but fail to […]