May 13, 2006

I Cor. 16:9  “For a wide door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many adversaries.”

Thumbnail Sketches – Philippians

While this is a prison epistle, it is even more the letter of joy. In it Paul uses the words ‘joy’ or ‘rejoice’ fifteen times. And this is even more encouraging to us set against the backdrop of his house arrest. He who could face a long imprisonment or death writes encouragement to a distant congregation. Paul’s ministry in Philippi is one of the most thrilling chapters in Christian missions. He came to the Roman colony in the province of Macedonia in response to a divine call on his second journey. Acts 16:8-10 He also returned to Macedonia on his third journey (Acts 20:1). As you read the letter, you find that this congregation is near and dear to Paul. They had helped him with their gifts more than once. Even now under his house arrest they had not forgotten him and he had not forgotten them.
Paul gives us here a splendid motto for life, “For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” 1:21  In chapter two he gives us the great example for life, our Lord Jesus. 2:1-13  In chapter four he gives us the secret that only the Christian knows that makes the Christian life a joy to live, “Not that I complain of want; for I have learned, in whatever state I am to be content. I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound; in any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and want. I can do all things in Him who strengthens me.” 4:11:13
I Introduction – 1:1-11 Notice the words – thanksgiving, joy, assurance, love, grace, righteousness, glory.
II Paul’s Personal Circumstances – 1:12-30
III The Christian Life – 2:1-18
IV The Coming of Timothy and Epaphroditus – 2:19-30
V Exhortation and Doctrine – 3:1-4:9
VI Acknowledgement of the Philippian Gift – 4:10-20
VII Conclusion – 4:21-23

Thumbnail Sketches – Colossians

Paul did not know the Colossians in that he had not been there, but he had heard of their faith (1:4) and he had heard of false teachings that were troubling them. Epaphras had given the report. The false teaching was taking away from Christ with supposed higher knowledge and philosophy, magical rites, and asceticism, denying the body as if that would make one better and appeal to that above. Paul writes of the uniqueness and completeness of Christ. In his exposition we have Jesus clearly stated as God, no if’s, and’s or but’s about it. “For in Him all the fullness (of God) was pleased to dwell.” 1:19 If perhaps someone did not get the point then Paul is even more explicit, “For in Him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily.” 2:9
Chapter four is a reminder to us with its eleven names listed that the ministry of Paul was not just his. He worked in conjunction with a multitude of followers of the Way, whether it be a co-worker like Tychicus or Nympha who invited the ‘church’ to meet in her house. Paul acknowledged these people in his humility and reminds us thereby of the universal priesthood of all believers.
I Introduction – 1:1-14
II Christian Doctrine – 1:15-3:4
III Christian Life – 3:5-4:6
IV Conclusion – 4:7-18

News from the Brethren

EELCT(Togo) – Pastor Kossi reports that they had an evangelism campaign recently centered on the showing of a film on Jesus’ suffering and death. The response was that 17 adults and children confessed Christ. We pray that these people will join in our local church and work and worship together in His kingdom. In several of our sister churches this approach has been used with wonderful results as here in Lome, Togo.

CLCI(India) – Pastor Jyothi informed us that one of the first year students in the seminary, Ramesh, went to be with the Lord. He was electrocuted. He was 35 years old and leaves a wife of 35, a son 8 and a daughter 10. His loss will be also felt as he was a fine evangelist among Muslims. This is an area that requires special skill as many of our pastors in Muslim areas know. He had passed the catechism examination and was pastoring a small congregation as he went to the school. Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord.

BELC(India) – In the Vaniyambadi district I had the joy to recently baptize 92 people of all ages from the very old hobbling up to the babes carried in arms. Our brothers in Vaniyambadi have much work to do in that the catechism has to be taught in detail to many of these people. The brothers here also want to use the Tamil catechism as an outreach tool to give to Hindus. This meant that they requested an additional nearly 1500 copies.While  I could not oblige them for that many,  we did now reprint 800 for them. We pray this outreach effort bears much fruit.

CLCEA(Tanzania/Kenya) – Out of 812 souls in the Takama Dist. Pastor Panpani reports that 262 adults and 241 children are studying the catechism. This is what is necessary for an orthodox Lutheran church to develop. The catechism is basic to then build upon. God bless their studies in the catechism which has been  called the “Little Bible.” We have given Masai catechisms out,  but still lack the Swahili one for this area. Pray we can get that edition before too long.

Highlights:   Eglise Evangelique Lutherienne Confession du Togo

Pastor Kossi heads this outreach effort. The church is registering in Togo to conform with the government’s requirements. They have 29 members at Vakpossito and 36 at Segbe. Both of these stations are on the outskirts of Lome, the capital city. This last year they opened the new station at Segbe. They have tried outreach through the showing of the Jesus film which brought many people to see it. A new pastor, Jerome, having left the Baptist church is going through the Lutheran catechism and other materials in study to be one in the faith with us. Since he is a French speaker, most of the materials we are supplying him with are in French.   People at Vakpossito are progressing toward being able to take communion soon. People at Segbe are studying the catechism to be baptized.

Crown of Glory Lutheran Church of Ghana

Pastor Gideon has been preaching in the village of Denu near the Togo border, but the Charismatics and Pentecostals are in the vast majority and it is slow going to show them the error of their ways in emotionalism and misinterpreting of Scripture. Half a dozen people come faithfully to the worship and study at the back of his house. In the village recently Pastor Agossou, a French speaker,  has been investigating the Lutheran church with Pastor Gideon and has found that what we teach is always supported with Scripture. We pray that before long he will find complete agreement with us. Pastor Gideon has been making trips to the Tema area outside of Accra, the capital. About half a dozen people are studying the catechism with him when he goes there. He hopes to do more work up there as time passes. The four men in Togo and Ghana are initiating monthly meetings to study together and consider the Lord’s work.

Pastor Koenig