Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Sunset of Truth
The path of living is a long and lonely path at times
Togetherness shared focuses on the lines
Drum on the premise that done, strength and divine.
Wedges driven inside makes us pay the fines.
Molded into a precious piece of treasure
Separated life is sad, weak and lost forever
Folded together like a pair of socks neatly
Faded adoration is worn them secretly.
The sunset of truth never sets on trust
Each day spent builds a fondness always there
Favors attached are each memory in keeping elder
Reaching out beyond early riches traces facts best.

Robert Dodson
July 1996

Cresting The Summit

Cresting the summit of love’s spirit
Heals a hurting heart thumping slowly
Resting atop the chasms of challenge
Invokes a hint of daring risk of faith

Seals forever the heaven of eternity.
Trust shapes as valleys renew flowers
In groves of splashy beauty nurtured by
New clouds bursting their water to flow

Ever downward towards foaming oceans
Beaches strewn with white sand packed
Eagerly among moss covered boulders
Assigned to silently guard blazed trails

Constantly changed by winds of time
Honed to melt the lonely heart of youth
Caressing the spirit of hope to give
Back faith never lost in tomorrow’s today.

Robert Dodson
October 19, 2012
Written for a very special lady

Friday, March 02, 2012

The Christian Path ~ An Overview of Ephesians One

Paul’s epistle to the Ephesians is different than any of his other writings. It is quite impersonal in comparison. Ephesians is reflective in tone and theme. It wasn’t written to answer a problem in a church like the heresy in the Colossian church. The book was written to give Paul’s thoughts on the highest church truth. Ephesians contains three lines of truth within the six chapters. They are the believer's elevated position through grace; the truth concerning the body of Christ; and a walk in accordance with that position. Chapter one teaches us all the spiritual blessings of God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ having chosen us in Him before He created the world.

In verse one Paul mentions God’s will; he used the similar phrase “His will” in verse nine. The apostle cites Ephesus in his greeting and in 1 Corinthians 15:32. In verse three, Paul uses the phrase in the heavens for the first of five times in Ephesians according to the Holman translation. The other verses are in Ephesians 1:20, 2:6, 3:10 and 6:12.

When the future Saint Paul utilizes grace in verse six, he discusses grace in Romans 5:2 and 2 Corinthians 4:15 also. In using “the Beloved” in verse six, he used a similar expression, “the Son He loves” in Colossians 1:13. Redemption, in verse seven, is stated similarly in Hebrews 9:12. In verse nine, Paul remarks about the mystery of God’s will. Paul commented on this mystery in Romans 11:25, 16:25, Ephesians 3:3 and Colossians 1:27.

The disciple Paul references hope in verse twelve and in 1 Thessalonians 1:3. “The message of truth” in verse thirteen is declared in Colossians 1:5 and 2 Thessalonians 2:10. The faithful Paul reveals his thoughts on the Holy Spirit in verse thirteen and in Romans 8:9, Galatians 5:25 and Titus 3:5. In verse twenty three Paul notes Christ’s body. He had a parallel statement in Ephesians 4:4. The apostle had other words and phrases which he used in Ephesians one and referenced in other writings.

Ephesians one is a lesson in grace. When we accept, believe and walk in the spirit, we start our journey toward Christ-likeness. By being faithful to the commands of God and loving God and others, we are adopted into the family of God. While true we are adopted into the family of God at our rebirth, we get more acclimated to our new position as we obey God as we live our lives to serve Him. It is this new beginning which Paul addresses in the first chapter and continues through the end of chapter three.

Robert Dodson
Ephesians ~ An Overview
Paul wrote this letter to the Ephesians while he was imprisoned in Rome about 60 A.D. He did not write this epistle to confront heresy or a problem in the church at Ephesus. Paul’s major concern was to encourage the Ephesians and believers everywhere. The apostle sought to strengthen believers in their Christian faith by explaining the nature and purpose of the church, the body of Christ. He challenges believers to function as the living body of Jesus on earth. Paul’s blueprint is to show unity in Christ and unity in the body of Christ.
The nature of the church is simple. Believers in Christ have been showered with God’s kindness, chosen for greatness, marked with the Holy Spirit, filled with the Spirit’s power, freed from sin’s curse and bondage and brought near to God. As part of the “household” of God, we stand with the apostles, prophets, Jews, Gentiles and Christ. Paul challenges the Ephesians and, by extension, all believers in Christ to live close to Jesus.
Paul points out the implications of being in the body of Christ, the church. Disciples should be unified in their commitment to Christ and their use of spiritual gifts. They should have the highest moral standards. Individuals should reject all pagan practices and families should have mutual submission and love. As a reminder, Paul states the church is in a continual battle against the forces of darkness and they should use every spiritual weapon at their disposal.
In his greeting to the Ephesians, Paul used similar wording in Romans 1:1, Galatians 1:1, 1 Corinthians 1:1 and 2 Corinthians 1:1. In his closing comments, he mentions Tychicus in Titus 3:12 and his purpose of using Tychicus in Colossians 4:8. There are many more examples of Paul referencing people, thoughts and suggestions throughout the letter. In my limited space, I will address more of them at a later date.
I have come to the conclusion, for the moment, there is not as much of a doctrinal view as it is thematic. Paul is trying to encourage the Ephesians. Paul seems to believe there are not any major problems in the church at Ephesus. Paul wants the church to be unified in Christ and in the body of Christ. As a result, his letter has five underlying themes to address unity. In this uplifting letter, Paul addresses God’s purpose, Christ the center of everything, the living church, the new family and Christian conduct. He even gives us the formula for success in fighting the forces of darkness by explaining the armor of God.

This encouraging communication is filled with practicality, especially in chapters four through six. Paul tells us how we can be unified in the body of Christ in the first part of chapter four. He concludes the chapter by describing how to live as children of the Light. He continues in chapter five to address our moral standards. He then discusses wives and husbands, children and parents and slaves and masters. He finishes with his explanation of the armor of God.

The letter to the Ephesians has held a special place in my heart for a very long time, even before I was reborn. My favorite verse is Ephesians 4:29 which has helped me to curb my tongue most of the time. My limited study of this book has given me an insight into Christian living. As I dive deeper into the waters of this wonderful correspondence to the Ephesians, I can feel my life changing for eternity’s sake. Come aboard with me as I sail the ocean of insight contained within this letter written so long ago.

Robert Dodson

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Philemon ~ The Unseen Benefits

Recently I completed an in-depth study of Paul’s epistle to Philemon. Philemon is a short book of about 500 hundred words and twenty five verses. In the month I studied this book, I have written over five thousand words espousing my thoughts about what this short little letter contains, both obvious and implied concepts. I had suggested to my mentor I write a final paper about Philemon, the after part of a before and after look at what I learned during my study. My first paper was based on a basic overview of the book built on a week’s study. This paper has the advantage of an additional three week’s study plus the review of all the words I have written to date concerning Philemon.

After prayerful consideration, I have been blessed with five benefits given to me through my guided examination of this personal letter of Paul’s assistance to another believer. This study has given me a new perspective. Of all the concepts, beliefs and ideas I learned from my study, I never dreamed such a concise letter would have such a deep impact on my life.

The most important question asked of me about this note of the apostle Paul was, “What five things did you gain from your study?” At first, I thought it would be simple to supply an answer. But like my study, the answer required deep and careful consideration. For the moment, the short answer is righteousness, brotherhood, courtesy, freedom and love.

Your responses may vary, naturally. I should add this is my first real effort at diligent biblical study. Even if I had begun my study of the bible in my twenties and spent the remainder of my life studying God’s Word, I would never fully learn everything contained within its covers. I can say studying the bible will change you from the inside out.

At first glance, Paul does not mention righteousness once in the entire letter. So where is the righteousness? It is contained within each word that was written. It is implied through his introduction, his plea, his suggestion and his conclusion. Even his style of writing breathes righteousness. One gains righteousness from the words from meditation, study and God speaking to us as He touches our spirit. Paul is like a lawyer pleading his case before a judge. He intervenes on behalf of a believer, offers his insight, makes a suggestion and trusts Philemon to do the right thing. From the first word to the last word, Paul shows everyone his faith.

If the book of Philemon was food (in a sense it is), you could probably eat of it your entire life. Paul masterfully winds us through righteousness to brotherhood. Paul is making a powerful statement of the benefits of living for Christ. He shows us through his careful choice of words how Christians should live their lives. Paul has a firm grasp of the concept that God loved us first, more on that in a moment.

When the apostle begins his plea for Onesimus, he wisely avoids mentioning the new Christians’ name until absolutely necessary. Paul knows once we believe in Jesus, we are a part of a unique and constantly growing fellowship. He is telling us not to live for the world and the things of this world, but to live for eternity and to be seated with our LORD and Savior forever. Is there anything better? I think not.

Paul artfully displays courtesy and freedom within the mere five hundred words he used to communicate to Philemon. I should be so concise. The text is dripping with courtesy for others and freedom to decide our own course of events. We should defer our decisions to the will of God. We should always be polite and caring towards those we encounter. In America, we enjoy a multitude of freedoms. Yet in a very real way, we are less free than our ancestors were. People were usually slaves to others and their created “gods.” Today there are so many different ways to be a slave. Among them include, people, money, technology, sports and almost everything else in between. If you “worship” it, you are a slave to it.

The law of love is the most important thing I gleaned from my study of Philemon. Paul’s words ooze love from beginning to end. He shows us his love for Onesimus and Philemon. The apostle patiently teaches us about this great commandment. He tells us we are to love God with all our heart, mind, body and soul. Once we are able to do this, living a Godly life is all we need to live for eternity. The things of the world will one day end, but eternity is forever.

A nearly five hundred word letter has given me an insight into righteousness, brotherhood, courtesy, freedom and love. Yet there is so much meat within this book, I have just barely taken my first bite. I shall be at the table of Philemon for quite a long time. Care to join me?

Robert Dodson
January 14, 2012