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7. The Letter to the Philippians

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In our lessons so far, you have learned these truths about Christ.

  • In Romans, Christ is our righteousness. Every believer is equally right with God and has equal righteousness from God.
  • In 1 Corinthians: Christ is the wisdom of God, greater than any human wisdom or strength.
  • In 2 Corinthians: Christ is our comforter when we hurt.
  • In Galatians: Christ is our freedom from the law of works to earn God’s acceptance.
  • In Ephesians: Christ is the powerful head of the church. Christ’s power works in us to help us live God’s way and for us to protect us from anything evil.

Lesson 7 covers Christ as our supplier for every need.

“And my God will supply your every need according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19 NET)

The Key Question

Do you remember the last thank-you note you received? Who wrote it and why was it written? Recall the last thank-you note you sent. What was the reason?

Now recall a time when you needed something, and God supplied what you needed. Did you say “thank you” to God? Did you thank the person whom God used to supply what you needed?

Everybody needs to write thank-you notes once in a while—from children to Presidents and Kings. And, receiving a thank-you-note can make anyone feel appreciated.

The key word for this lesson is supply. The questions to ask are: “How does God supply what we need? How do we say thank-you?” The letter to the Philippians is a thank-you note from Paul to the Philippian church because they supplied Paul with something he needed. Let’s see what Paul shared with his friends.

The People and Their Need

On his second missionary journey while Paul was in Troas (west coast of Turkey), God showed him a vision of a man from Macedonia saying, “Come over and help us.” Paul, Silas, Timothy and their new friend Luke (who wrote Luke and Acts) traveled across the Aegean Sea to Philippi.

At first, Paul shared about Jesus with a group of women (one named Lydia) who worshiped God and met together for prayer. They believed and were joined by many other new believers who responded to Paul’s preaching during the weeks he spent in Philippi. Then he and Silas were thrown into prison. That night while they were singing and praising God, an earthquake happened that loosened all the prisoners’ chains. But, no one escaped. The prison guard was so grateful that he and his whole family chose to believe in Jesus, too. The new community of Philippian believers met in Lydia’s house. You can read about his time there in Acts 16.

Paul was forced to leave Philippi. Yet, the church continued to show their love for him. The Philippians sent money often to supply Paul’s needs as a missionary. After his third missionary journey, Paul went to Jerusalem where he was arrested and sent to Rome as a prisoner. While there, the Philippians sent one of their own people to encourage Paul and money to supply his needs even though they were very poor. So, Paul wrote them a letter, thanking them for their gift (among other beautiful things written in it about Christ).

We have that letter called Philippians. It is a gift from God to us. Paul says to them and to us that Christ is the supplier of our needs. Let’s see what he means.

The Answer: Christ Is The Supplier of Every Need

1. Read Philippians 1:3-8.

  • What did Paul say about the Philippians?
  • How did he feel about them?

2. Read Philippians 2:25-30.

  • Whom did the Philippians send to help Paul?
  • What other information is given about Epaphroditus?

Besides money, Epaphroditus likely brought news about the church as well as hands and feet to help Paul in his imprisonment. He may have also brought encouraging words to Paul. Paul appreciated what the Philippians did.

3. Read Philippians 4:14-19. For each of the verses, discover why the Philippians were so dear to Paul.

  • Verses 14—
  • Verse 15—
  • Verse 16—
  • Verses 17-18—

4. According to verse 19, what does God do?

In Philippians, Christ is the supplier of every need. And, Christ often supplies the needs for one person through the generosity of another as God has supplied their needs. That’s what He did for Paul through the Philippians.

And, Christ was supplying the Philippians’ needs so they could help Paul. All was given with love. Needs can be things other than money such as food, help, and encouragement. So, you can see why I called this letter a “thank-you” letter from Paul to the Philippians.

5. Going back to what we discussed at the beginning, what are some ways that friends have been there for you when you really needed help?

6. How do you feel when you need help and someone helps you?

Philippians 1:4-5 in the NIV says this, “In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.”

7. Consider examples in life when people need to have a partner.

Your examples may have included marriage, business, ice-skating, tennis, musical partners in duets, or classroom projects. Partners work together for a common goal—skating partners work together to win a competition, business partners work together to produce a successful product, tennis partners work together to win matches, music partners work together to play concerts, and classroom partners work together to get a good grade.

8. Paul said he and the church at Philippi were partners. What was their common goal (verse 5)?

With your money, time and talents, you may partner with your local church, a local mission agency, and/or a missionary for the purpose of spreading the gospel, making disciples, and growing God’s kingdom on the earth.

And, Christ is the supplier of every need of yours so that you can help others.

Living Dependently on Christ

1) Bible verse to learn:

“And my God will supply your every need according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19 NET)

2) Response in prayer & praise:

Is there someone in your life who needs help today? Ask Jesus to show you how you can supply a need for them today in His name. Thank God for supplying your needs so you can help others.

3) Getting to know Him more:

Spend a few minutes each day reading this wonderful letter and reflecting on how God’s marvelous grace offers you a life of freedom and joy.

  • Read Philippians chapter 1. Reflect on what you read.
  • Read Philippians chapter 2. Reflect on what you read.
  • Read Philippians chapter 3. Reflect on what you read.
  • Read Philippians chapter 4. Reflect on what you read.

Related Topics: Women's Articles

8. The Letter to the Colossians

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In our lessons so far, you have learned these truths about Christ.

  • In Romans, Christ is our righteousness. Every believer is equally right with God and has equal righteousness from God.
  • In 1 Corinthians: Christ is the wisdom of God, greater than any human wisdom or strength.
  • In 2 Corinthians: Christ is our comforter when we hurt.
  • In Galatians: Christ is our freedom from the law of works to earn God’s acceptance.
  • In Ephesians: Christ is the powerful head of the church. Christ’s power works in us to help us live God’s way and for us to protect us from anything evil.
  • In Philippians: Christ is the supplier of every need of yours so that you can help others.

Now, we will look at Christ in Colossians.

“For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him.” (Colossians 1:16 NIV)

The Key Question

What comes to mind when you hear or read the word “lord?” Do you tend to submit to authority or push against it to follow your own way? Many of us like the idea of authority managing everyone and everything else as long as we can keep doing what we like with no one bothering us. Go ahead and admit it. 

The key word for our lesson today is lord. The questions to ask are, “Who is really ‘lord’ of our lives, and what does that mean?” Some of Paul’s friends needed to know the answer to those questions.

The People and Their Need

On his third missionary journey, Paul spent 3 years in Ephesus, a large city of at least 250,000 people. While there, Paul held classes every day for anyone wanting to learn about Jesus Christ, having their sins forgiven, and gaining a new way to live. One of Paul’s students named Epaphras traveled to the nearby town of Colossae to teach the Colossians living there. The people were mostly Greeks and Romans who didn’t know God. So, Epaphras taught the Colossians the “good news” about Jesus dying for their sins and becoming alive again so that they could believe in Him and receive eternal life.

A few Jews believed the message about Jesus, but it was mostly the Greeks and Romans who listened and trusted in Jesus to take away their sins. They started worshiping God together and learning more about Jesus and their new life as Christians. After Epaphras left Colossae, other men told the new Christians that Epaphras didn’t tell them the whole story. Some said that Jesus was not really God, that it’s better to worship angels who were closer to God than Jesus was. Others taught that only by following special rules can anyone have a right standing with God. Those rules said you could only eat certain foods, could enjoy nothing fun, and couldn’t get married. Yet, none of those rules taught them how to get rid of bad behavior like telling lies, speaking mean words, and getting angry. Seven years after the church was started, Epaphras was so concerned that he traveled to Rome where Paul was a prisoner and told him all about it.

Paul had never met the Colossians, but he loved these young Christians very much. So, Paul wrote a letter that Epaphras carried back to Colossae. Paul knew that Epaphras had taught the Colossians that Jesus Christ was Lord over everything, including angels. Remember that Jesus is His name; Christ is His title, which refers to His authority as Lord.

In his letter, Paul emphasized the truth that Jesus is Lord over everything. We have that letter called Colossians. It is a gift from God to us. Paul says to them and to us that Christ is Lord over everything—angels, creation and even our behavior. What does that look like? Let’s find out.

The Answer: Christ Is Lord over Everything

1. Read Colossians 1:15-18. What does Paul emphasize about Christ in these verses?

  • Verse 15—
  • Verse 16—
  • Verse 17—
  • Verse 18—

As God, Christ is the Lord over creation (“firstborn” refers to priority in inheritance). All things were created by and for Him. Jesus Christ is Lord over all creation, including angels. Christ was present before the world was created.

He holds everything together. This might mean that He makes it keep working in the way He planned. Christ is Lord over our world. Jesus died and then became alive again. And, Christ is Lord over the Church, which includes all believers.

In Colossians, Christ is Lord over everything. Paul told the Colossian Christians they had received the full story about Jesus from Epaphras. Christ is completely God and as God, He is Lord over everything, including angels. Paul was telling them to not worship angels. Then, he goes on to remind them of something wonderful.

2. Read Colossians 1:13-14. What is true about every Christian?

3. Read Colossians 2:13. What is true about every Christian?

When we each trust Christ, all of our sins are forgiven. We now can serve God completely with our lives and honor Christ as Lord over our behavior. That’s what Paul taught the Colossians as well.

4. Read Colossians 3:8-9. What kind of behavior is not appropriate for a follower of Christ who has been given a new life?

Christ as Lord over our behavior wants us to stop our destructive anger, rage, hate, lies, and filthy/mean words. Let’s see what kind of behavior is right for us.

5. Read Colossians 3:12-15, 17, 23. According to each verse, what kind of behavior is appropriate for a follower of Christ who has been given a new life?

  • Verse 12—
  • Verse 13—
  • Verse 14—
  • Verse 15—
  • Verse 17—
  • Verse 23—

These are hard to do and do not come naturally to us. Paul writes in Colossians 1:29, “To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me.” Christ’s power in us enables us to live this way as we trust Him to work in and through us.

According to verse 15 above, Christ gives you peace in your heart. You are to let that rule your actions like an umpire saying to anger, “You’re out!” and to kindness, “You’re safe!” Christ is Lord over your behavior.

In verse 17, we are reminded to do everything we say or do in light of Jesus as Lord. We read in verse 23, “Work at everything you do with all your heart. Work as if you were working for the Lord, not for human masters.” This applies to any work you do—inside and outside the place where you live.

In Colossians, Christ is Lord over everything. He is Lord over the universe, the earth, the angels, and our behavior. As Lord over our behavior, He is powerful enough to change our bad behavior into good behavior that pleases Him. We must choose to submit to Him as Lord. He deserves it!

Our willingness to let Him change us is worshiping Him as Lord.

Living Dependently on Christ

1) Bible verse to learn:

“For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him.” (Colossians 1:16 NIV)

2) Response in prayer & praise:

Read Psalm 139:23-24. What does David ask of God? Okay, now you pray those verses as a prayer to Jesus. You are asking Jesus to help you recognize the areas of your life where you are not submitting to Him as Lord. What has He revealed to you? Thank Him for showing it to you and for His forgiveness. Ask Him to make the change in your life so your behavior matches who you are as a follower of Christ.

3) Getting to know Him more:

Spend a few minutes each day reading this wonderful letter and reflecting on how God’s marvelous grace offers you a life of freedom and joy.

  • Read Colossians chapter 1. Reflect on what you read.
  • Read Colossians chapter 2. Reflect on what you read.
  • Read Colossians chapter 3. Reflect on what you read.
  • Read Colossians chapter 4. Reflect on what you read.

Related Topics: Women's Articles

9. The First and Second Letters to the Thessalonians

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In our lessons so far, you have learned these truths about Christ.

  • In Romans, Christ is our righteousness. Every believer is equally right with God and has equal righteousness from God.
  • In 1 Corinthians: Christ is the wisdom of God, greater than any human wisdom or strength.
  • In 2 Corinthians: Christ is our comforter when we hurt.
  • In Galatians: Christ is our freedom from the law of works to earn God’s acceptance.
  • In Ephesians: Christ is the powerful head of the church. Christ’s power works in us to help us live God’s way and for us to protect us from anything evil.
  • In Philippians: Christ is the supplier of every need of yours so that you can help others.
  • In Colossians: Christ is Lord over everything. He is Lord over the universe, the earth, the angels, and our behavior.

In both letters to the Thessalonians, we will see Christ as our returning Lord.

“For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 NIV)

The Key Question

Do you have siblings or other relatives who live far away? Do you want them to come and visit you? What kinds of things do you do to prepare for guests coming? How do you greet them when they walk in the door? After your guests leave, are you eager for their returning back to visit you again?

Consider babies who are born during a time of war when their fathers are soldiers deployed overseas. The babies may not get to see their dads for months or even a year or more. They may hear about their dads and even see a picture or video feed of them. But, they don’t really get to experience knowing their dads until the soldiers return back home. Then, father and child meet face-to-face in a warm embrace of love.

The key word for our lesson today is returning. The questions to ask are, “Who is returning, and how do we prepare for it?” Some of Paul’s friends needed to know the answer to those questions.

The People and Their Need

On his second missionary journey while Paul was in Troas, God showed him a vision of a man from Macedonia saying, “Come over and help us.” Paul and Silas went, stopping first at Philippi, where they preached, and a church was formed. After spending a night in prison for driving an evil spirit from a girl, Paul and Silas were forced to leave Philippi. They went down the road to Thessalonica, the capital of Macedonia and a large city of 200,000 people who were called Thessalonians. You can read about his time there in Acts 17:1-15.

Paul preached the good news about Jesus’ death and resurrection for several weeks in the synagogue in Thessalonica. Some Jews believed as well as a large number of non-Jews. The Jews who didn’t believe started a riot in the city in order to stop Paul. They rushed to the house where Paul was staying and dragged the owner of the house out of the house to the courthouse. The man was released, but the new Thessalonian believers thought it was too dangerous for Paul to stay so they helped him to escape in the middle of the night.

After he left Thessalonica, Paul went down the road to Berea then to Athens. There he sent his friend Timothy back to Thessalonica to check on the church there. Timothy brought back a good report. In fact, their faith in Christ had become known throughout all of Macedonia. Everyone knew that they had turned away from statues of gods to serve the living and true God. And, they were waiting for Jesus to return from heaven to rescue them from their present hardships. You see, the men who started the riot were making life hard for these new believers, causing much suffering for them.

So, when Paul got to Corinth he wrote a letter to them to encourage them during their hardships and to answer their questions about Jesus’ return. Later on, while he was still in Corinth, he wrote the Thessalonians another letter to answer more of their questions. We have both of those letters called First Thessalonians and Second Thessalonians. They are gifts from God to us.

In his letters, Paul confirms to them and to us that indeed Christ is our returning Lord. We can be joyful about the news that He is coming back for us. And, we can live in a way that fills our hearts with joy while waiting.

The Answer: Christ Is Our Returning Lord

1. What fears do you have about death and dying?

2. Read 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18.

  • Verse 13—What does Paul call the dead Christians?
  • Verse 14-15—Will those who had died/fallen asleep miss Jesus’ return?
  • Verses 16—What does this verse say will happen when Jesus comes back again?
  • Verse 17—What does this verse say will happen when Jesus comes back again?
  • Verse 18—Why would this information be encouraging to Christians?

For Christians, death is like falling asleep on earth and waking up in heaven where Jesus is. Believers have hope that nonbelievers do not have. Grief is real; sadness is a normal human emotion. We miss those we love who have died. But if they are Christians, they are instantly with Jesus. We can rejoice about that.

No Christian who has died will miss Jesus’ return. They will be coming with Him to get those of us who are still alive. We will rise to meet Jesus in the air. In our English translations, verse 17 uses the words “caught up” to describe Jesus coming for us. About 300 years after Jesus died, Latin translators used the word “rapturo” to translate the original Greek phrase into Latin. That’s why this event has been called “The Rapture” ever since.

3. Read Philippians 3:20-21. What is the promise to believers?

The Bible tells us that when Jesus returns, He will make new bodies for all believers—those still alive and those who died—new bodies like Jesus’ resurrected body—sinless, never to die again. He’ll take us all to heaven, where we really belong, to live with Him in our new bodies until the time is right for us to come back to live on the earth with Him.

4. How do you feel knowing that Christ is our returning Lord and that He is coming back for you one day?

Second Thessalonians refers to the time after the Rapture when there is great distress on the earth (commonly called “The Tribulation”) until Christ returns to win victory over His enemies and set up His kingdom on earth.

We don’t know when Jesus will return. But, just like you prepare for guests coming to visit, you can prepare for Jesus to come back at any time. You don’t sit around doing nothing or doing bad things. And, you want them to know that you love them, are excited about knowing them, and are eager for their coming. That applies to Jesus returning, too. Christ is our returning Lord. We can do some things to prepare while waiting.

5. Read 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18. What could each phrase look like in your life?

  • Verse 16 “always be joyful"—
  • Verse 17 “never stop praying”—
  • Verse 18 “give thanks no matter what happens”—

Even if things aren’t going our way all the time, we can still rejoice in the fact that Jesus, the Son of God, loves us individually. This rejoicing may not be easy. It does take practice, but it’s good for us to try.

And continuing to pray without ceasing really helps with the joyful part when times are tough. We can take everything to God, even the bad or sad things, and we will receive His peace (Philippians 4:6-7). Now, “peace” may not sound like “joy,” but it’s a whole lot better than “miserable,” isn’t it?

Give thanks no matter what else happens—and even if being thankful isn’t what you feel like at the time. You need to thank God regularly for what He did by sending Jesus for you. This will certainly contribute to your being joyful.

In Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians, Christ is our returning Lord.

When He comes, we will receive new bodies and live forever with Him. Be joyful about that and live joyfully while waiting!

Living Dependently on Christ

1) Bible verse to learn:

“For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 NIV)

2) Response in prayer & praise:

Praise God for the hope you have that Jesus is coming again for you and that you don’t have to be afraid of death. Ask Jesus to help you be joyful, to be faithful to pray, and to be thankful while waiting for Him to return.

3) Getting to know Him more:

Spend a few minutes each day reading these wonderful letters and reflecting on how God’s marvelous grace offers you a life of freedom and joy.

  • Read 1 Thessalonians chapter 1. Reflect on what you read.
  • Read 1 Thessalonians chapter 2. Reflect on what you read.
  • Read 1 Thessalonians chapter 3. Reflect on what you read.
  • Read 1 Thessalonians chapter 4. Reflect on what you read.
  • Read 1 Thessalonians chapter 5. Reflect on what you read.
  • Optional: Read 2 Thessalonians chapters 1-3. Reflect on what you read.

Related Topics: Women's Articles

10. The First Letter to Timothy

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In the first nine lessons, you have learned these truths about Christ.

  • In Romans, Christ is our righteousness. Every believer is equally right with God and has equal righteousness from God.
  • In 1 Corinthians: Christ is the wisdom of God, greater than any human wisdom or strength.
  • In 2 Corinthians: Christ is our comforter when we hurt.
  • In Galatians: Christ is our freedom from the law of works to earn God’s acceptance.
  • In Ephesians: Christ is the powerful head of the church. Christ’s power works in us to help us live God’s way and for us to protect us from anything evil.
  • In Philippians: Christ is the supplier of every need of yours so that you can help others.
  • In Colossians: Christ is Lord over everything. He is Lord over the universe, the earth, the angels, and our behavior.
  • In 1 & 2 Thessalonians: Christ is our returning Lord. When He comes, we will receive new bodies and live forever with Him.

Today, we will look at how Christ is portrayed in Paul’s first letter to Timothy.

“For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus…” (1 Timothy 2:5 NIV)

The Key Question

1. When have you needed someone to represent you to someone else?

Whoever did that for you was acting as a mediator—someone who goes between two people or groups to solve a problem or settle a dispute. A professional baseball player hires an agent to act as a mediator between himself and a team that is interested in hiring him. The mediator needs to understand both sides—what the player needs and what the team needs.

The key word for this lesson is mediator. The questions we’ll consider are, “Why do we need a mediator, and who is the best one for us?” Paul’s friend Timothy needed to give the people in his church the answer to those questions.

The People and Their Need

Timothy was a teenager when he met Paul. You can read his story in Acts 16. His family lived in Lystra so he was a Galatian. His father was a Greek man; we know nothing of his faith. But, Timothy’s mom and grandmother were faithful Jewish women who taught the Old Testament scriptures to this boy they loved so much. As the women heard Paul preach, they believed in Jesus, and so did Timothy.

Timothy may have seen Paul heal a lame man in his town. That would have been exciting! He may also have watched as an angry mob threw stones at Paul and left him for dead. Yet, he also knew Paul survived.

When Paul came back to Lystra a couple of years later on his second missionary journey, Paul invited Timothy to travel with him. What an honor! Do you think Timothy might have been a little bit scared, too?

Timothy helped Paul as he preached throughout Greece—Macedonia in the north and Achaia in the south. He carried money to Paul collected by the Philippian church to care for Paul’s needs in Corinth. Timothy could be trusted. During the 3 years Paul was in Ephesus teaching them about the amazing power of God, Timothy was there, too.

When Paul was in a Roman prison for two years, Timothy was right alongside him much of the time unselfishly taking care of Paul’s needs. By now, Timothy was a young man of about 30 who for at least 13 years had been learning how to teach about Jesus and serve God’s people well as he watched Paul do it.

Timothy was teachable! Paul thought of Timothy not only as a very faithful friend but also as his spiritual son. The one who leads you to trust Christ becomes your spiritual mother or father. Did you know that?

Hooray! Paul was finally free again. So, he and Timothy traveled to visit friends in the churches they had founded. When they got to Ephesus, Paul recognized some men in the church were teaching bad stuff about Jesus, saying that Jesus could not have been a man and God at the same time.

Paul wanted to go on to visit his friends in Macedonia, but he didn’t want to leave the Ephesian church in turmoil. So, he left Timothy to teach truth to the church there while Paul went on to Macedonia. Paul thought he’d get back to Ephesus soon, but that didn’t happen. He was concerned about what was going on in Ephesus, so Paul wrote a letter.

We have that letter called First Timothy. It is a gift from God to us. In it Paul reminded Timothy, the Ephesians and us that Jesus was fully God and fully man. He had to be both in order to be the perfect mediator for us. In First Timothy, Christ is our mediator. Let’s see what that means.

The Answer: Christ Is Our Mediator

2. Read 1 Timothy 1:11-17.

  • Verse 11—What was entrusted to Paul?
  • Verses 12—What had Jesus done for Paul?
  • Verse 13—For what does Paul thank Jesus?
  • Verse 14—What did Paul receive?
  • Verses 15-16—How does Paul view himself?
  • Verse 17—What is Paul’s response to God’s abundant grace toward him?

True teaching agrees with the good news that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, those who have done wrong things against God’s ways. Paul was thankful for this good news for himself because he was a sinner who needed God’s mercy. Christ showed him that mercy and love, too.

Did Paul need someone to understand how bad he was and how much he needed help? He calls himself the worst of sinners. He couldn’t help himself. He didn’t know any better. Paul needed a mediator to get him out of his trouble.

3. Reread verse 14. Remember that grace is “undeserved favor.” The phrase, “the grace of our Lord poured out abundantly,” carried the idea of overflowing.

  • What picture comes to mind when you read about something overflowing with abundance?
  • How generous is God with His grace to everyone?

4. Read 1 Timothy 2:3-6.

  • Verse 4—What does God want?
  • Verse 5—Who is the go-between for God and humans?
  • Verse 6—As the perfect man, what did Christ Jesus do for us?

Remember that the title Christ refers to Jesus as God. Notice Paul’s emphasis on Jesus as a man. Do you think of Jesus as a man, as a human just like you are? It’s easy to forget that Jesus was fully human like you are. As a man, Jesus could understand how you feel and think. He could understand your troubles and how hard it is to get yourself out of trouble, especially to get rid of the wrong things you do against God. He can have compassion on your helplessness. Isn’t that wonderful news!

In 1 Timothy 2:5 (NIV), Jesus is called our mediator. A mediator helps to solve a dispute between two persons. We were separated from our God because of our sin. Jesus took that sin upon Himself—became the bridge for us to have a relationship with God. No one else, nothing else can ever do that for us—not a parent, a boss, a judge, or a pastor—only Jesus Christ, who was fully human and fully God. Because He was both, He could represent each side perfectly. Isn’t God’s plan wonderful?

In 1 Timothy, Christ Jesus is the mediator between us and God. No man or woman can do that for you. Christ is the perfect mediator between God and mankind. As mediator, Jesus understands our needs and the best way for God to take care of our needs.

5. Read Hebrews 4:15-16.

  • What can you do when you are weak and hurting (verse 16)?
  • When can you go to Him? How often?
  • What do you receive from Him?
  • How should that make you feel?

When you are weak and hurting, you can go directly to Jesus and tell Him all about it. You can go to Him any time and as often as you need it. You will receive grace and mercy in your time of need. That’s a promise! And, you should feel thankful for receiving mercy and help just like Paul was thankful for Christ Jesus showing him mercy when he needed it.

Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen. (1 Timothy 1:17)

Living Dependently on Christ

1) Bible verse to learn:

“For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus…” (1 Timothy 2:5 NIV)

2) Response in prayer & praise:

Where are you hurting today? Where are you feeling weak? Go to Jesus now and tell Him all about it. Let Him pour out His grace on you abundantly. Respond by joining Paul in his response of praise to God (1 Timothy 1:17) for His marvelous plan of grace.

3) Getting to know Him more:

Spend a few minutes each day reading this wonderful letter and reflecting on how God’s marvelous grace offers you a life of freedom and joy.

  • Read 1 Timothy chapter 1. Reflect on what you read.
  • Read 1 Timothy chapter 2. Reflect on what you read.
  • Read 1 Timothy chapter 3. Reflect on what you read.
  • Read 1 Timothy chapter 4. Reflect on what you read.
  • Read 1 Timothy chapter 5. Reflect on what you read.
  • Read 1 Timothy chapter 6. Reflect on what you read.

Related Topics: Women's Articles

11. The Second Letter to Timothy

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In our lessons so far, you have learned these truths about Christ.

  • In Romans, Christ is our righteousness. Every believer is equally right with God and has equal righteousness from God.
  • In 1 Corinthians, Christ is the wisdom of God, greater than any human wisdom or strength.
  • In 2 Corinthians, Christ is our comforter when we hurt.
  • In Galatians, Christ is our freedom from the law of works to earn God’s acceptance.
  • In Ephesians, Christ is the powerful head of the church. Christ’s power works in us to help us live God’s way and for us to protect us from anything evil.
  • In Philippians, Christ is the supplier of every need of yours so that you can help others.
  • In Colossians, Christ is Lord over everything. He is Lord over the universe, the earth, the angels, and our behavior.
  • In 1 & 2 Thessalonians, Christ is our returning Lord. When He comes, we will receive new bodies and live forever with Him.
  • In 1 Timothy, Christ is our mediator. As mediator, Jesus understands our needs and the best way for God to take care of our needs.

Paul’s second letter to Timothy presents Christ as the giver of crowns.

“Finally the crown of righteousness is reserved for me. The Lord, the righteous Judge, will award it to me in that day—and not to me only, but also to all who have set their affection on his appearing.” (2 Timothy 4:8 NET)

The Key Question

Do you like to give gifts? What do you like best about giving gifts to someone? How do you go about picking out what you want to give? Are you a cheerful giver, or do you resent having to bring a gift to someone? What kinds of things can you give that don’t cost money? Do those gifts still cost you something like time, effort, and creativity? What’s the best gift you have given to someone?

The key word for our lesson today is giving. The questions to ask are, “Who is the best giver, what does He give to us, and how can we be givers like He is?” Some of Paul’s friends needed to know the answer to those questions.

The People and Their Need

Remember that Paul loved Timothy as a son and a friend. After Paul’s release from his first Roman imprisonment, he and Timothy traveled to visit friends in the churches they had founded. When they got to Ephesus, Paul left Timothy to teach truth to the church there while Paul went on to Macedonia. Paul thought he’d get back to Ephesus soon, but that didn’t happen. So, he wrote the letter called First Timothy.

Paul traveled for a while longer, but then he was arrested again and sent to Rome. This time Paul was thrown into a cold dungeon, and he knew that he would soon die! Paul had already appeared once before the wicked Roman emperor Nero, and he expected to be tried again. Nero had become more wicked in his hatred for Christians.

Paul felt very lonely because many of his friends had left him. At this time, only his doctor friend Luke (the writer of Luke and Acts) was still with him in Rome. Other friends were taking care of the churches Paul had founded, including Timothy who was still pastoring the church at Ephesus. Paul knew God was with him still, even in prison. He wrote another letter to Timothy, the last one he wrote that we have in our Bibles. Paul asked Timothy to come right away and bring his coat and scrolls he left behind in Ephesus. Paul was not sure Timothy would get to Rome before Paul was killed. A very sad time!

This letter contains Paul’s last words of encouragement to Timothy and warnings that Nero’s hatred of Christians would cause many believers to suffer. We have this letter called Second Timothy. It is a gift from God to us.

In his letter, Paul reminds Timothy to stand firm on the truth he had heard from Paul. Don’t let the bad teachers win. Don’t give up because of suffering. The Holy Spirit would be his continual helper and guide. And, Jesus Christ rewards those who are faithful to Him. He gives many good gifts, including crowns. Yes, I said crowns. In Second Timothy, Christ is the giver of crowns. Let’s find out what that means for us.

The Answer: Christ Is The Giver of Crowns

1. Read 2 Timothy 2:1-6, 15.

  • According to verse 2, how does the true message get passed on?
  • According to verses 4-6, what do the soldier, athlete, and farmer have in common?
  • According to verse 15, what are we supposed to do?

Pastors and church leaders are to teach trustworthy people who can teach others, also. This is called disciplemaking—making disciples for Jesus. As individual followers of Christ, we are to do our best to please God and to teach truth correctly. Paul continues to encourage Timothy to keep doing what is right and keep teaching truth even if some people who hated Christians would try to stop his teaching what the Bible says.

2. Read 2 Timothy 4:7-8.

  • Does Paul feel that his life has been faithful to the God he serves?
  • What is waiting for him?
  • Who will give it to him? [NOTE: Some translations use the word “award” rather than “give” in verse 8, but it means the same thing.]
  • Who else will receive a crown?
  • Does that include you?

In Second Timothy, Christ is the giver of crowns. Christ is a giver. In fact, He is the best giver of all, including the giving of crowns.

3. Read 1 Peter 5:1-4.

  • What crown does the Lord Jesus give?
  • To whom and for what reason?

4. Read James 1:12. What crown does the Lord Jesus give to everyone who loves Him?

Some crowns are rewards to believers who have worked hard to please the Lord Jesus as in the “Crown of Righteousness” and the “Crown of Glory.” Other crowns are given to every believer as in the “Crown of Life.”

But, we’ve learned in Paul’s other letters that Christ is a giver not only of crowns but also of many other things to those who trust in Him. To all believers, Christ gives forgiveness of all sins, salvation, and eternal life. We have also learned that Christ provides a relationship between God and man (1 Timothy) that gives freedom from the law so we can choose to please God (Galatians). He is the supplier of every need (Philippians) who gives protection and Holy Spirit power to live a life that pleases God (Ephesians) as we change our behavior (Colossians).

Christ gives us spiritual wisdom (1 Corinthians), comfort (2 Corinthians), righteousness (Romans), and a new body when He returns (1 Thessalonians). We will soon learn that He also gives us hope (Titus) and new hearts (Philemon).

Jesus Christ is the best giver! He rewards those who are faithful to Him. We can follow His example and be givers, also. But, we sometimes get to thinking about ourselves too much and don’t want to be givers.

5. Read 2 Timothy 3:1-5. How does Paul describe the different types of people who are living to be takers rather than givers?

6. That sounds pretty bad, doesn’t it? Do you know anyone like that now?

Look at Paul’s warning in verse 5. The New International Readers Version puts it this way, “Teach the people not to follow their example!”

5. What choices must you make to not follow their examples?

6. Read 2 Timothy 3:14-17. How do you stay on track in following the right examples?

7. Does God want you to be a giver because you have to or because you love Him and want to please Him in gratitude for what He has done for you?

8. What do you think you will do with the crown Christ gives you when you get to heaven some day?

9. Read Revelation 4:10-11. Some think the 24 elders represents all believers in the Church. They give back their crowns, laying them at Jesus’ feet. Why do you think they do that?

Jesus Christ is the best giver! He rewards those who are faithful to Him. He gives many good gifts, including crowns. In Second Timothy, Christ is the giver of crowns.

Living Dependently on Christ

1) Bible verse to learn:

“Finally the crown of righteousness is reserved for me. The Lord, the righteous Judge, will award it to me in that day—and not to me only, but also to all who have set their affection on his appearing.” (2 Timothy 4:8 NET)

2) Response in prayer & praise:

Thank Jesus for what He gives to you. Ask Jesus for a heart that wants to give to others as Jesus has given to you. Ask Him to help you stick to the truth of God’s Word even when others do not.

3) Getting to know Him more:

Spend a few minutes each day reading this wonderful letter and reflecting on how God’s marvelous grace offers you a life of freedom and joy.

  • Read 2 Timothy chapter 1. Reflect on what you read.
  • Read 2 Timothy chapter 2. Reflect on what you read.
  • Read 2 Timothy chapter 3. Reflect on what you read.
  • Read 2 Timothy chapter 4. Reflect on what you read.

Related Topics: Women's Articles

12. The Letter to Titus

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Through Paul’s letters, we have learned many truths about Christ. Repetition is good for the memory.

  • In Romans, Christ is our righteousness. Every believer is equally right with God and has equal righteousness from God.
  • In 1 Corinthians, Christ is the wisdom of God, greater than any human wisdom or strength.
  • In 2 Corinthians, Christ is our comforter when we hurt.
  • In Galatians, Christ is our freedom from the law of works to earn God’s acceptance.
  • In Ephesians, Christ is the powerful head of the church. Christ’s power works in us to help us live God’s way and for us to protect us from anything evil.
  • In Philippians, Christ is the supplier of every need of yours so that you can help others.
  • In Colossians, Christ is Lord over everything. He is Lord over the universe, the earth, the angels, and our behavior.
  • In 1 & 2 Thessalonians, Christ is our returning Lord. When He comes, we will receive new bodies and live forever with Him.
  • In 1 Timothy, Christ is our mediator. As mediator, Jesus understands our needs and the best way for God to take care of our needs.
  • In 2 Timothy, Christ is the giver of crowns. He rewards those who are faithful to Him.

This lesson covers Paul’s letter to Titus.

“That's how we should live as we wait for the blessed hope God has given us. We are waiting for Jesus Christ to appear in all his glory. He is our great God and Savior.” (Titus 2:13 NIRV)

The Key Question

What is hope? Your answer depends on your perspective. The kind of hope that the world offers is generally the wishful thinking kind where someone is not sure they will get what they want or need but “hopes” they will. Biblical hope is the confident expectation of something that will definitely take place because it is based on God’s promises.

1. When do you need hope?

2. What happens when you lose hope?

The key word for our lesson today is hope. You need hope whenever you are facing something tough to do, when you are sad and/or when you can’t see the end. The result of losing hope is discouragement. The questions to ask are, “What is hope in the Bible, and how does hope affect our lives?” Paul’s friend Titus needed to give the people in the churches on the island of Crete the answer to those questions.

The People and Their Need

During Paul’s first missionary journey, a young man named Titus heard Paul preach about Jesus. Titus was a Gentile—he had not grown up worshiping the God of the Bible. As he listened to Paul, Titus’ heart responded to the message, and he believed in Jesus. Paul brought him to Jerusalem to show the apostles and other Jewish believers how a Gentile could love God just as much as they did. Titus represented all the other non-Jewish people who became Christians and were completely accepted by God through their faith in Jesus Christ—like most of us! Hooray!

Titus continued to travel with Paul on missionary journeys, helping in the work of sharing the gospel. During the 3 years Paul was in Ephesus teaching them about the amazing power of God (third journey), Titus was there. Then, Paul sent him to Corinth to help that church with its work. Paul thought of Titus not only as a very faithful friend but also as his spiritual son because he had led him to trust Christ.

After Paul was released from the Roman prison where he had been for two years, he and Titus traveled to the island of Crete. The people, called Cretans, were known to be very rough people who were liars, were lazy, and loved to eat and argue with one another. Paul and Titus taught them about their need for God and the good news about Jesus. God was certainly powerful enough to change their hearts and their behavior. Soon there were enough believers to start churches in several towns.

Paul wanted to go visit the church in Corinth so he left Titus to continue teaching the new Christians and to appoint church leaders for each new church. When someone came to replace him in Crete, Titus met Paul in western Macedonia and continued the missionary work northward into what is now Albania. The gospel was spreading farther into Europe.

While on the island of Crete, Titus was a busy man as he cared for all the new Cretan believers, especially because the people just didn’t know how to do what is good in God’s eyes. Paul knew Titus needed some encouragement and reminders of what was important to teach the people. So, Paul wrote a letter to Titus. We have that letter called Titus. It is a gift from God to us. In it Paul reminded Titus, the Cretans, and us that Christ is our hope for any kind of life that pleases God. Our hope in Christ sets us free from the bad things we used to do and teaches us to do what is good. Let’s find out more about this hope we have in Christ.

The Answer: Christ Is Our Blessed Hope

3. Read Titus 2:11-12.

  • Paul says God’s grace teaches us to say “no” to godless ways. What do you think are “godless ways”? See also 3:3.
  • If we say “no” to godless ways, we must say “yes” to something else. What does Paul say in the rest of verse 12?

4. Who gives you power to live this way—your own strength or the Holy Spirit living inside you?

Godless ways are things that go against God’s way of living a life that pleases Him. We are to say “no” to godless ways and “yes” to doing what is right in today’s world. The Holy Spirit living inside of us is the only way we can consistently do what is right. Don’t forget that. Jesus wants us to live in dependence on His Spirit inside of us to be able to live the kind of life that pleases God.

5. Read Titus 2:13.

  • What is one promise given to us in this verse?
  • What is Christ called in this verse?

In Titus, Christ is our blessed hope. The word "hope" in the Bible is the confident expectation of something that will definitely happen because it's based on God's promises and faithfulness. It has been promised to you, it is good, and you know it will happen. In Titus 2:13, the promise is that Christ is going to appear in all his glory. He is coming back. We will see Him at some point in the future—guaranteed. That’s hope we have in Christ. Let’s see some of the other good things we have.

6. Read Titus 2:14.

  • What has Christ already done for us?
  • For what purpose?

7. Read Titus 3:4-6.

  • What has Christ already done for us?
  • How are our lives renewed?

8. Read Titus 3:7. What other hope do we have?

We have already been set free from doing bad things in order to do what is good. Our sins have been washed away permanently. We’ve been given new life now by God’s Holy Spirit who lives inside us from the moment we believe in Jesus. That life lasts forever. The Spirit gives us power to live the kind of life that pleases God. We’ve been adopted as God’s children. All these things have been provided for us by Christ who is our hope.

9. Knowing God’s promise that all those good things will happen to you, how does that make you feel?

In Titus, Christ is our blessed hope. The word “blessed” means “happy.” We can be truly happy in our hope because we know all those things promised to us will happen. Hope is God’s gift to us.

Remember that hope is the confident expectation of something that will definitely happen. We have this blessed hope in Christ. It can never be taken away from us. Knowing this can help us in two ways: 1) We can look at life as an adventure with God because the best is yet to come for us. 2) We can let God’s Spirit give us a longing to do what is good.

Let’s look at each one of those.

First, looking at life as an adventure with God. What do you think would happen if you began each day by asking, "What new adventure do you have for me today, O God?" How would that affect the way you looked at your day?

Second, longing to do what is good. We will long to please God—not because we have to do good things but because we are so thankful for what God has done for us that we want to do what pleases Him. We can be teachable—letting God’s Spirit teach us how to say “no” to godless ways and “yes” to doing what is right while we are waiting for Jesus to come back.

10. Where do you need to say “no” and “yes” in your life?

11. Who gives us the hope to live a life of adventure with God and learn to do what is good?

In Titus, Christ is our blessed hope—the confident expectation of something that will definitely happen because God has promised it to us. That kind of hope will never disappoint.

Living Dependently on Christ

1) Bible verse to learn:

“That's how we should live as we wait for the blessed hope God has given us. We are waiting for Jesus Christ to appear in all his glory. He is our great God and Savior.” (Titus 2:13 NIRV)

2) Response in prayer & praise:

This time respond through any creative means you choose (journaling, prayer, poem, drawing, painting, song) to illustrate what you have learned from this lesson about Christ being your hope. An extra page is added at the end of this lesson for you. This will be your praise to Him today.

3) Getting to know Him more:

Spend a few minutes each day reading this wonderful letter and reflecting on how God’s marvelous grace offers you a life of freedom and joy.

  • Read Titus chapter 1. Reflect on what you read.
  • Read Titus chapter 2. Reflect on what you read.
  • Read Titus chapter 3. Reflect on what you read.

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13. The Letter to Philemon

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Through Paul’s letters, we have learned many truths about Christ. Today’s lesson builds on each of these truths.

  • In Romans, Christ is our righteousness. Every believer is equally right with God and has equal righteousness from God.
  • In 1 Corinthians, Christ is the wisdom of God, greater than any human wisdom or strength.
  • In 2 Corinthians, Christ is our comforter when we hurt.
  • In Galatians, Christ is our freedom from the law of works to earn God’s acceptance.
  • In Ephesians, Christ is the powerful head of the church. Christ’s power works in us to help us live God’s way and for us to protect us from anything evil.
  • In Philippians, Christ is the supplier of every need of yours so that you can help others.
  • In Colossians, Christ is Lord over everything. He is Lord over the universe, the earth, the angels, and our behavior.
  • In 1 & 2 Thessalonians, Christ is our returning Lord. When He comes, we will receive new bodies and live forever with Him.
  • In 1 Timothy, Christ is our mediator. As mediator, Jesus understands our needs and the best way for God to take care of our needs.
  • In 2 Timothy, Christ is the giver of crowns. He rewards those who are faithful to Him.
  • In Titus, Christ is our blessed hope. We can look at life as an adventure with God because the best is yet to come for us.

Lesson 13 covers the very short but personal letter from Paul to his dear friend, Philemon. It is a letter of forgiveness and renewal.

“Renew my heart. We know that Christ is the one who really renews it.” (Philemon 20b NIRV)

The Key Question

Think about a time when someone wronged you. How long did you stay wounded? What did it take (or would it take) to bring about reconciliation? How hard was it to forgive that person?

The key word for our lesson today is forgiveness. The question to ask is, “How do I really forgive someone who has wronged me?” Some of Paul’s friends needed to know the answer to that question.

The People and Their Need

Paul looked across the room of his Roman prison at the young man, Onesimus. How dear he was to Paul! The young slave had stolen some money from his master in Colossae and run away. Somehow, he ended up in Rome and met Paul. Though Paul was chained to a Roman guard, people could come and visit him, even stay with him.

Somehow Onesimus found his way to Paul, Paul told the runaway slave about Jesus, and Onesimus trusted Christ to take away his sins. Paul became his spiritual father, teaching him and loving him as a Christian son. Onesimus learned to love Christ Jesus and received a renewed heart.

As much as Paul wanted this young man to stay near him, he knew that Onesimus should return to Philemon, his owner, and seek forgiveness for stealing the money and for running away. Philemon was a fairly rich man who owned slaves. It was common for people to have slaves. One of every two persons in the Roman Empire was a slave. Every large Roman household had them. Slaves were not free to do whatever they wanted but had to do whatever their owner said. And, any slave who ran away could be killed. Paul certainly didn’t want that to happen to his son Onesimus. Paul had to trust Jesus with Onesimus’ safety.

We don’t know if Paul ever met Philemon though Paul seemed to know of him well enough to appreciate him as a Christian brother and a leader of the church in Colossae. Christ had renewed Philemon’s heart from being a sinner separated from God to being completely forgiven.

Now, Philemon the slave owner and Onesimus the runaway slave were Christian brothers. Would Onesimus have the courage to return to his master, or would he run away again? Would Philemon forgive Onesimus for stealing money and running away, or would he have Onesimus killed?

Well, Paul sent Onesimus back to Philemon. It was the right thing to do. And, he sent a letter along with Onesimus. We have that letter called Philemon. It is a gift from God to us. Philemon is the shortest of Paul’s letters, more like a postcard. It’s also the most personal.

In his letter, Paul reminded Philemon and us that Christ is the renewer of hearts. Christ had renewed Paul’s heart many years before. He had renewed Philemon’s heart when he heard the gospel message and believed. Christ had renewed Onesimus’ heart. A renewed heart is grateful for the forgiveness received through God’s grace and wants to be a “grace giver” to others. Let’s find out how that works.

The Answer: Christ Is The Renewer of Hearts

Philemon has only 1 chapter so we just use verse numbers. Since it is so short, we’ll read most of it to get the whole story.

1. Read Philemon 1-2. What information is given about Philemon?

2. Read Philemon 4-7. In Verses 4-5: What kind of Christian was Philemon?

3. In verse 7: Referring to what Philemon has done for God’s people, Paul says that he has “renewed their hearts.” [NOTE: the NIV says “refreshed the hearts of the saints.”] What do you think that means to renew or refresh their hearts?

4. Read Philemon 8-11. What did Paul do instead of ordering Philemon to forgive Onesimus?

Paul calls Philemon a dear friend who was working for the gospel. A church met in his home. Apphia and Archippus are probably his wife and son who are fellow believers. Philemon was faithful and loving as he took care of the needs of the church there in Colossae, encouraging the people and giving them hope. Notice how Paul says he was in prison and that Onesimus was his spiritual son and a fellow believer. By not ordering Philemon to forgive Onesimus, Paul made him think about it and appealed to him on the basis of love.

5. What would be the advantage to both of them if Philemon forgave Onesimus out of love and respect for Christ and Paul rather than doing so just because he felt forced to do it?

6. Read Philemon 12-16. In verses 12-14, how does Paul show respect for Philemon’s authority as a slave owner?

7. According to verses 15-16, how has the slave-master relationship changed?

Paul knows Philemon has the right to make all decisions regarding Onesimus. So, he sends Onesimus back rather than assuming it’s okay for him to stay with Paul. But, now Onesimus is more than a slave. He’s a Christian brother. That changes everything in his relationship with Philemon.

8. Read Philemon 17-22.

  • In verse 17, Paul asked Philemon to welcome Onesimus back. What might be the opposite of welcoming him?
  • In verses 18-19, Paul offered to pay anything Onesimus owed to Philemon. Hmmm. Did Paul steal the money?
  • Who else do you know took the consequences for someone else’s bad behavior?

Jesus died on the cross for our sins, not for his own. Paul repeated Jesus’ example of someone who substitutes himself for another. Paul didn’t have to pay what Onesimus owes, but he offered to do it to help heal the relationship between Onesimus and Philemon. Christ healed our relationship with God when He died on the cross for our sins even though He never sinned.

In Philemon, Christ is the renewer of hearts. In verse 20, Paul says,

“Renew my heart. We know that Christ is the one who really renews it (NIRV).”

9. What does it mean to renew something?

Renewing may involve restoring a relationship or repairing something broken so that it works well again. Making something like new again.

10. How does Christ renew our hearts?

11. Read Philemon 23-25. In verse 25, Paul writes, “May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.” What does Paul want Philemon to remember about his own life?

Notice that Paul calls Jesus Lord 5 times in this short letter. Jesus is Philemon’s king and master as He is our king and master. Paul is reminding Philemon that he has received forgiveness through grace overflowing to him from Jesus who is his Lord. Because Philemon has received grace from his Lord Jesus, Philemon should, therefore, be a “grace giver” to Onesimus.

Christ calls us to be grace givers to others as we have received grace from Him.

12. What do you think it means to be a “grace giver”?

13. Read Ephesians 4:32. How can you be a “grace giver” in your life?

A grace-giver is kind and tenderhearted, forgiving others as Christ has forgiven us. A grace-giver does not hold grudges and works at renewing relationships rather than being continually angry with someone.

14. What relationships in your life need renewing?

In Philemon, Christ is the renewer of hearts, making us right with God so our relationship with God is no longer broken. He forgives us completely, gives us new hearts and fills our hearts with joy. Christ gives us His grace so that we can then give grace to others, following His own example. A renewed heart is grateful for the forgiveness received through God’s grace and wants to be a “grace giver” to others.

Living Dependently on Christ

1) Bible verse to learn:

“Renew my heart. We know that Christ is the one who really renews it.” (Philemon 20b NIRV)

2) Response in prayer & praise:

Ask Jesus, as the renewer of your heart, to help you be a grace-giver to your friends and family members.

3) Getting to know Him more:

Spend a few minutes reading this wonderful letter and reflecting on how God’s marvelous grace offers you a life of freedom and joy.

  • Read all of Philemon again. Reflect on what you read.

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Painting The Portrait Of Jesus: The “I Am’s” From The Gospel Of John

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This Bible Study is part of the Graceful Beginnings Series of Bible studies specifically designed for anyone new to the Bible—whether you are a new Christian or you just feel insecure about understanding the Bible. The lessons are basic, introducing you to your God and His way of approaching life in simple terms that can be easily understood.

The Painting the Portrait of Jesus lessons view the self-portrait of Jesus using His seven “I am” statements from the gospel of John. Discover amazing things about Jesus that will satisfy the spiritual hunger in your soul and answer one of the most asked questions of all time. What does Jesus look like?

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Introduction

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The Graceful Beginnings Series of Bible studies are specifically designed for the new-to-the-Bible Christian—whether you are a new Christian or you just feel insecure about understanding the Bible. The lessons are basic, introducing you as an inexperienced Christian to your God and His way of approaching life in simple terms that can be easily understood.

Just as a newborn baby needs to know the love and trustworthiness of her parents, the new Christian needs to know and experience the love and trustworthiness of her God. Graceful Beginnings: New Believers Guide is the first study in the series, laying a good foundation of truth for you to grasp and apply to your life. The other studies in the series can be done in any order.

Some Bible Basics

Throughout these lessons, you will use a Bible to answer questions as you discover treasure about your life with Christ. The Bible is one book containing a collection of 66 books combined together for our benefit. It is divided into two main parts: the Old Testament and the New Testament.

The Old Testament tells the story of the beginning of the world and God’s promises to mankind given through the nation of Israel. It tells how the people of Israel obeyed and disobeyed God over many, many years. All the stories and messages in the Old Testament lead up to Jesus Christ’s coming to the earth.

The New Testament tells the story of Jesus Christ, the early Christians, and God’s promises to all those who believe in Jesus. You can think of the Old Testament as “before Christ” and the New Testament as “after Christ.”

Each book of the Bible is divided into chapters and verses within those chapters to make it easier to study. Bible references include the book name, chapter number and verse number(s). For example, Ephesians 2:8 refers to the New Testament book of Ephesians, the 2nd chapter, and verse 8 within that 2nd chapter. Printed Bibles have a “Table of Contents” in the front to help you locate books by page number. Bible apps also have a contents list by book and chapter.

The Bible verses highlighted at the beginning of each lesson in this study are from the New English Translation ® (NET®) unless otherwise indicated. You can use any version of the Bible to answer the questions, but using a more easy-to-read translation (NET, NIV, NIRV, NLT, ESV) will help you gain confidence in understanding what you are reading. You can find all these translations in Bible apps and online.

This study capitalizes certain pronouns referring to God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit—He, Him, His, Himself—just to make the reading of the study information less confusing. Some Bible translations likewise capitalize those pronouns referring to God; others do not. It is simply a matter of preference, not a requirement.

Painting the Portrait of Jesus

Have you ever worked on a paint-by-number or color-by-number picture? How easy is it to tell what the picture is before you paint or color it? For some, you can look at it and guess what the picture might be. For others, you can’t really tell what it is. So, what do you need to do to start finding out what the picture will really look like? If you are like most people, you usually start with one number that represents one color and fill in all the spaces having that number with the appropriate color. After you’ve colored in that number, the picture begins to be revealed. Then, you do the same with the other colors. After adding each color to the picture, you can finally recognize what the picture represents. You get the complete picture.

You can also paint a picture with words.

1. Think about 3 words true about you that you could use to describe yourself.

2. Now say, “I am…” followed by those three words.

You just painted a picture of yourself with those words. That’s similar to what Jesus did with His “I Am” statements. Just like adding each color to a paint-by-number picture enables you to recognize the picture, Jesus used the “I Am” descriptions to paint His own portrait.

A portrait is a painting, drawing, or photograph of a person. Usually, a portrait reveals someone’s physical appearance. It is a true likeness of that person. When you look in a mirror, you see a likeness of yourself. In a sense that’s a portrait.

Jesus’ portrait does not reveal His physical appearance. Instead, Jesus did what I asked you to do above—describe yourself with a few words to “paint” a portrait of yourself.

Jesus painted Himself with words that reveal a “picture” of who He is, how He meets our needs, and why we can trust Him enough to follow Him.

The Painting the Portrait of Jesus lessons focus on what are commonly called the “I Am’s.” The “I Am’s” are statements that Jesus made in the gospel of John. They are called the “I Am’s” because each one of them starts with the same 2 words, “I am.” Then, Jesus follows the words “I am” with a phrase to describe Himself to those who are listening.

As one who lived as a man among us, He understands the spiritual needs of men, women, boys, and girls. These “I am” declarations are like colors Jesus used for the canvas of His own self-portrait so His followers could know Him better and understand His significance in their lives.

These “colors” reveal the Jesus that we follow. And, studying them is in a sense “Painting the Portrait of Jesus.”

Like Matthew, Mark, and Luke, the gospel of John contains the good news about Jesus—who He is, why He came, and what He offers to those who trust in Him.

Jesus used specific phrases as word pictures to describe Himself to those who were listening and to describe the difference He could make in their lives when they trusted in Him.

Discovering these truths will make a difference in your life as well.

Following Jesus

Here’s what you are going to learn in the Painting the Portrait of Jesus lessons—Jesus is the answer to the spiritual needs of every person.

He is the answer to every inner need that you have. And, you will see that His self-portrait describes that.

With each lesson, you’ll be adding to your portrait of Jesus as you study the “I Am’s.” As He reveals Himself, you will long for a close relationship with this same Jesus, the one to whom you belong. And, you will want to follow Him because He is trustworthy!

As fully God and fully man, you can be confident that Jesus understands how you feel.

For we do not have a high priest incapable of sympathizing with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in every way just as we are, yet without sin. (Hebrews 4:15)

And, Jesus is powerful enough (as God) to take care of your every need.

Now to him who by the power that is working within us is able to do far beyond all that we ask or think… (Ephesians 3:20)

Through faith in Him, you are completely accepted and loved by God your Father. And, you enjoy awesome treasures God promises to you.

Jesus offers you a new life that is joyful and fruitful. Following Him involves trusting Him to guide you in your daily life through what you read in God’s Word and through talking to God.

You can enjoy a relationship with Him—now and forever!

At the end of each lesson, we will include three things to help you follow Jesus: “Bible verse to learn,” “Response in prayer & praise,” and “Filling in the Portrait of Jesus” readings.

1) Bible verse to learn

This will help to renew your thinking and make what you are learning part of your life as you journey on this adventure. Memorizing Bible verses is not just something “to do.” You are planting God’s words to you in your mind. The Bible calls it “renewing your mind” with truth about who God is and who you are.

If your Bible is a different translation from the one given in Painting the Portrait of Jesus, feel free to memorize the verse from your Bible rather than what is given. The point is to begin a habit of memorizing Scripture. You will be surprised at how soon it just flows from your mind.

2) Response in prayer & praise

This will help you begin regular conversation with your God who loves you dearly. You will be encouraged to talk to God about anything and everything. Tell Him what you are thinking and feeling. He is someone you can trust. You will be encouraged to praise God for who He is and what He does. Praise is appreciation of God and giving Him credit for who He is.

3) Filing in the portrait of Jesus

Keep filling in the portrait of Jesus through Bible reading of the life of Jesus as told in the gospel of John. Christianity is Christ so spend a few minutes each day reading the verses and reflecting on Jesus—His life, His relationships, and His teaching. Get to know this One who loves you dearly.

What You Will Learn

The eight lessons cover these truths for you to know:

  • White represents the presence of God. Jesus is the “I Am.” He is the answer to the spiritual needs of every person.

Jesus answered, “Before Abraham was born, I am.” (John 8:58 NIV)

  • Purple represents abundance & being satisfied. Jesus is the Bread of Life. His abundant love satisfies our hunger for a relationship with God.

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. The one who comes to me will never go hungry, and the one who believes in me will never be thirsty.” (John 6:35 NET)

  • Yellow represents light & guidance. Jesus is the Light of the World. His light directs us to follow Him.

Then Jesus spoke out again, “I am the light of the world. The one who follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12 NET)

  • Orange represents safety. Jesus is the Gate for the Sheep. There is safety in following Jesus and doing life His way.

“Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep…whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture.” (John 10:7,9 NIV)

  • Green represents relationship. Jesus is the Good Shepherd. You can enjoy a forever relationship with Him.

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep…I am the good shepherd. I know my own, and my own know me.” (John 10:11, 14 NET)

  • Blue represents the hope of eternal life. Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life. To His followers, He gives eternal spiritual life now and eternal physical life in a new body after death.

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live even if he dies, and the one who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26 NET)

  • Red represents love, life, and celebration. Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. He gives us His life so that we are completely loved and accepted by God our Father. Celebrate!

Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6 NIV)

  • Brown represents nourishment to bear fruit. Jesus is the Vine. He nourishes us with His life so we can bear fruit in our lives that represents our connection with Him.

I am the vine. You are the branches. If you remain in me, and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:5 NIV)

Jesus painted Himself with words that reveal a “picture” of who He is, how He meets our needs, and why we can trust Him enough to follow Him. Enjoy your study!

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Lesson 1: Jesus Is the “I Am”

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Jesus answered, “Before Abraham was born, I Am.” (John 8:58 NIV)

The Painting the Portrait of Jesus lessons focus on the “I am” statements Jesus made in the gospel of John. These are called the “I am’s” because each one of them starts with the same 2 words, “I am.” Then, Jesus follows the words “I am” with a word picture to describe Himself to those who are listening.

Jesus’ word pictures were like paint colors in a portrait. Remember that a portrait is a painting, drawing, or photograph that is a true representation of that person. Each one of those “I am” statements is like another paint color being added to Jesus’ portrait.

Jesus painted Himself with words that reveal not His physical appearance but a “picture” of who He is, how He is the answer to our spiritual needs, and why we can trust Him enough to follow Him.

Jesus is the answer to the spiritual needs of every person. He is the answer to every inner need that you and I have. And, you will see that His self-portrait describes that. We’ll be adding a different color each lesson as we paint the portrait of Jesus.

Paint Color #1: White

Our first paint color is white. White is really a mixture of all colors. Have you ever seen white light shining through a prism?

A prism is a special kind of glass that causes white light shining through it to break up into all the different colors of a rainbow. All those colors miraculously mix together to form white light. So, white represents all the colors Jesus used to paint His portrait. And, in the Bible, the color white often represents the presence of God.

We find the “I am” statements in the book of John, written by one of Jesus’ disciples named John. The book of John is also called the gospel of John. The word “gospel” means “good news” so the book of John contains the good news about Jesus—who He is, why He came, and what He offers to those who trust in Him. In it, John emphasizes repeatedly that Jesus is God in human flesh. He says so in the key verse for the book of John found at the end in chapter 20.

1. Read John 20:31.

  • What did John say was his purpose in writing his gospel?
  • And, once you know and believe this, what will happen?

Belonging to Him means you will have a relationship with Him. It’s great to belong to someone who loves you, isn’t it? And, once you belong to Him, you also get life from Him, eternal life. We’ll learn a lot about both of these special things that come to those who know that Jesus is God’s Son and believe that to be true.

Let’s talk about the two words “I am.” To us, they are just part of our English language. To the Jewish people of Jesus’ time, those words were part of God’s name. Years and years before Jesus was born, God spoke to a man named Moses and told Moses to lead the people of Israel out of Egypt. Moses said to God, “What if I go to them, and they want to know your name, what shall I tell them?” We read God’s answer in Exodus chapter 3.

2. Read Exodus 3:13-14. What name did God give Himself?

That’s what our English Bibles say. The Old Testament where Exodus is found was written in the Hebrew language. The Hebrew name for God is spelled YHWH. We think the name was pronounced Yahweh (ya-way). This was God’s personal name. Jesus knew this name for God. And, He frequently claimed that name for Himself.

One time Jesus was talking to a woman at a well. She said that one future day the promised leader known as the Messiah would come. Let’s see how Jesus answered her.

3. Read John 4:19-26.

  • What would the Messiah do (v. 25)?
  • How did Jesus respond to her (v. 26)?

Since Jesus spoke Hebrew, what He originally said would have been, “Yahweh, the one speaking to you.” That’s what Jesus actually said.

4. What was Jesus communicating to the woman about Himself?

Another time, Jesus was talking to some Jewish leaders and told them He knew Abraham. They said, “You are not even 50 years old. How could you have seen Abraham?” Let’s see how Jesus answered them.

5. Read John 8:56-59.

  • What was Jesus’ answer?
  • Notice what happened next. Why do you think the Jewish leaders became so angry with Jesus?

So, this is what you can know. When Jesus said, “I am,” He is revealing something about Himself. He is God. He did the things that God does. He healed people and forgave them of their sins. He told people that He was God.

Jesus is the “I am.” He is God. We don’t think of God’s name as Yahweh anymore. We often think of God’s name as Jesus, don’t we?

Remember that I told you the color white represents the presence of God. One day, when Jesus was on a mountain with His disciples, His clothes became dazzlingly white, whiter than any bleach could ever make them. His disciples saw that and knew it meant they were in God’s presence.

6. Read Mark 9:2-8. What did the disciples hear the voice from heaven say?

So, not only is Jesus God, He is more specifically the Son of God. He knows God as His very own Father.

Jesus obeyed His Father and lived His life as a God-man among people. That way, He knows every need that we have—every need, both physical and spiritual. He knows what it is like to be hungry and thirsty, to know fear, to be alone, and to long to know God.

Jesus knows that He is the answer to every need, especially the need to know God.

7. Read Hebrews 4:15. How confident are you that Jesus (as man) understands how you feel but is also powerful enough (as God) to take care of your every need?

Jesus is the “I Am.” He said to His disciples, “If you know me, you will know God.” That’s what Jesus is saying to you and what the rest of these lessons will be about—getting to know Jesus through His descriptions of Himself as though they were paint colors. With that we’ll paint the portrait of Jesus.

Jesus is the answer to the spiritual needs of every person, especially the need to have a relationship with Him, to belong to Someone who loves us dearly.

8. Read Matthew 11:28-29.

  • What is the invitation and the promise?
  • What inner needs do you have that Jesus’ promise could satisfy?

Isn’t it great to know that you are loved by someone as wonderful as Jesus?

Following Jesus

1) Bible verse to learn:

Jesus answered, “Before Abraham was born, I Am.” (John 8:58 NIV)

2) Response in prayer & praise:

Thank Jesus for coming to earth and living among us so you can see what God is like by learning from Him. Thank Him that He wants to have a relationship with you. Ask Him to give you a longing in your heart this week to know Him closely.

3) Filling in the portrait of Jesus:

Christianity is Christ so spend a few minutes each day reading the verses and reflecting on Jesus—His life, His relationships, and His teaching. Get to know Him well—this One who loves you dearly.

  • Read John 1:1-28. Reflect on what you read.
  • Read John 1:29-51. Reflect on what you read.
  • Read John 2:1-11. Reflect on what you read.
  • Read John 2:12-25. Reflect on what you read.

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