Week 7- Weekend Reflection

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Week 7- Weekend Reflection

Scripture: Read slowly Colossians chapters 1-2.

This is a time for reflection.

1. Scan some of the devotionals you have used this week.

2. What are some of the things you have learned? __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

3. How has this study affected your times of prayer? __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

4. Because God has given you the ministry of reconciliation, how do you think God might want to use you in this ministry? __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Prayer:

• Practice “prayer-reading” by praying Paul’s words in Colossians 1:9-14.

• Let your heart go out to the Savior in worship and adoration.

• Spend a few minutes being quiet in His presence. Just be still and wait on Him. Let Him tend your soul.

• Pray for those you know who need the Savior.

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Week 7- Day 5

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Week 7- Day 5

Scripture: Read Colossians 4:2-6.

In these verses Paul is summing up his time with you. Here is the opportunity to really catch his heart as he speaks over your life. Why not picture him laying hands on you as he speaks these words right into your soul.

You have been called to join Jesus in changing the world through prayer. You have been chosen by Him and placed “in Him” for the very purpose of praying God’s will into the people and situations that surround your life.

Paul knows that you, like Esther (Est. 4:14), were born for such a time as this. The call on your life is not to passivity but to vigorously “overcome evil with good” (Rom. 12:21). And right near the top of the how-to list is prayer. God uses you to pray for others, and at the same time joining Him in this ministry keeps you spiritually sharp.

I love it that Paul was recruiting people to pray for him to have those God-given opportunities to speak the gospel into open hearts. This is a glimpse into Paul’s heart. He valued those divine appointments, and he knew that behind the miracles of people coming to faith in Christ was this issue of prayer. It’s almost like Paul knows you are reading his words, catching his heart for reaching others. He is himself the master soul-winner, so listen to his admonition, “Be wise in how you relate to outsiders, making the best use of the time and opportunities. Above all watch your speech so that in all circumstances you respond graciously to each person’s questions.”

Your winsome interest in others acts like the salt that Jesus referred to, “You are the salt of the earth.”

Thought Questions:

1. Do you sense God’s call upon your life to join Him in praying for others?_____________________

2. Are you experiencing opportunities to share your faith (divine appointments)? _______________

3. What’s God teaching you with respect to both praying for the lost and finding opportunities to share your faith? __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

4. Are you, like Paul, recruiting others to pray for God to give you open doors for sharing? _____________

Prayer Time:

• Invite the Holy Spirit to fill you and use you in prayer.

• Pray for those you plan to invite to church or small group.

• Invite the Holy Spirit to fill whatever weakness you feel in your ability to witness. He likes to use our weaknesses to glorify Himself.

• Pray for your church to make disciples.

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Week 7- Day 4

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Week 7- Day 4

Scripture: Read Colossians 3:1-17…but keep memorizing 3:15.

Notice Paul’s train of thought, all centered in the cross:

1. “If you have been raised with Christ”: faith identity.

2. “Set your minds on things above”: devotional life.

3. “Put to death”: sexual sins, anger, lies, etc.

4. “Put on then”: Christ’s character, His righteousness.

5. “Put on love”: live in Christ’s community, the church.

6. “Let the peace of Christ rule your hearts”: living out the cross life.

Think of having an app on your phone that shows up green for “in the peace” and red for “not.” Consolation, desolation. Peace is your lifeline. Guard it. Be sensitive to it.

Jesus’ cross was all about reconciling your relationship with His Father and making it possible for you live every day in His peace. “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:6-7).

Thought Questions:

1. Are you able to see Paul’s logic in moving from being united with Christ to living in His peace?______________________________________________________________________________

2. Can you see how important it is for you to see yourself as having been with Christ in His death and His resurrection? ______________________________________________________________

3. How would you say your faith in Christ is doing? ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

4. Are you becoming more sensitive and alert to the presence of His peace? ___________________

Prayer Time:

• The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Christ. Invite Him to make you aware of Christ in you.

• Praise and worship your Savior for being your Peace.

• Ask the Lord to give you people to encourage in their walk with Christ.

• Pray for your church to practice living together in love.

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Week 7- Day 3

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Week 7- Day 3

Scripture: Memorize Colossians 3:15. Let it slowly sink in.

What is more valuable than peace with God? Priceless. “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:1). This peace is relational unity with God, and His life flows into you with His sense of well-being.

Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful” (Jn. 14:27). The world understands peace as the absence of conflict, but His peace is intended to keep us even when there is trouble.

Jesus said, “Do not let your heart be troubled,” warning us that many things will attempt to steal our peace: worry, fear, uncertainty, insecurity, rejection. The list is long. As it turns out, our peace with God is something we have to protect.

Paul describes a way of life—or as I like to put it—a way of doing life with Christ: “Let the peace of Christ rule (umpire) your hearts.” The spiritual formation words “consolation” and “desolation” are shorthand for: (1) now I am experiencing His peace, and (2) now I am without His peace. One consoles, the other devastates. Peace means all is well; it’s loss is a silent alarm.

Becoming sensitive to the loss of our sense of peace is our basic operating system for guidance, for being shepherded by Christ. We feel connected, all is well. We don’t feel connected, we need to do whatever it takes to reconnect.

Jesus said, “Blessed are you when you mourn; for you shall be comforted.” Or a favorite, “Come to Me, all who are weighed down, under it, feeling it; and I will give you rest.”

Thought Questions:

1. Will you memorize Colossians 3:15, “Let the peace of Christ rule your heart”? ___________________________

2. Are you becoming sensitive to the presence or absence of His peace? _________________________

3. When you lose your sense of His peace, what do you do? __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

4. How might you learn more about letting His peace umpire your heart?__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Prayer Time:

• Invite the Holy Spirit to come rule in your heart.

• Pray through Romans 5:1, “There having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

• If your peace has been disturbed, accept Jesus’ invitation to come to Him now. Be still with the Savior and allow Him to minister to you.

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Week 7- Day 2

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Week 7- Day 2

Scripture: Follow Paul’s thoughts as you read Colossians 3:1-17.

God is just. He doesn’t just forgive your sin by fiat; rather He executed justice when He punished His Son for your sins. In Romans 3:26 Paul explains why: “So that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”

In our Colossians passage there are two key phrases that point us to the big question: How are you to experience what Jesus accomplished for you on a daily basis? The first phrase we have already examined: “Put to death….” When a sinful thought, attitude, or action shows up in my life, I put it to death by praying through Galatians 2:20. “I have been crucified with Christ; and I no longer live…. The life I now live, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.”

Paul uses other words to express the same truth when he says, “Reckon (count) yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 6:11). “Put to death” is a faith exchange.

The other phrase is “Put on then,” and again the big question is, How? Let’s say that I’ve just seen my pride doing its thing. First, I identify with Christ on the cross to break the power of that sin, and I receive His forgiveness. But there is a “put on then” that needs to come next. I need humility, but how will I obtain it? I receive Christ’s humility by faith.

I pray through Romans 1:17 in order to receive Christ’s character in the place of my pride. “For in it (the gospel) the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith.” I always need the Holy Spirit to reveal this afresh and help me to receive His humility by faith.

Thought Questions:

1. What things do you need to “put to death” this morning? _______________________________________________________________________________

2. How will you do that?_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

3. What things do you need to “put on then” this morning? __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

4. How will you do that? __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Prayer Time:

• Invite the Holy Spirit to fill you right now.

• Take any sin issue to the cross by seeing yourself with Christ on the cross.

• Receive His cleansing forgiveness.

• Receive Christ’s character for yourself by faith.

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Week 7- Day 1

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Week 7- Day 1

Scripture: Read Colossians 3:5-17.

Who wouldn’t want to live in a community in which every person was compassionate, kind, humble, meek, patient, and nice to one another? Plus when a problem does sneak in, each one simply forgives and continues to love? Hmm. Makes you think of heaven doesn’t it? Exactly what we are warming up for: full-time heaven.

But God starts off with us rookies who may have some lingering anger, jealousy, and insecurities, as well as old hurts and reaction patterns. Or maybe a habit of expressing our opinion of one person to someone else. Another Hmm.

If you read the passage carefully, you will notice that Paul is speaking to the same group: the church, the body of Christ. I’m glad he said, “If one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other, as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.”

I know many Christians who live apart from the church precisely because they have disobeyed God’s cure: the cross. Forgiveness. Love lived out. This is not a pretty sight: marinating in bitterness makes for a very unhappy, unfruitful life.

I know the people who have offended me, but do I know those I’ve offended? Not always. The church is composed of every sort of rescue person known to man, and we are all following Jesus but at different maturity levels. We are the ones to whom Paul says, “And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony” (Col. 3:14).

Love is the most costly thing on earth. God is love, and He is building a people who are learning to love, to forgive, to care, to reach, to obey, to serve. It’s the Bride of Christ. It’s us. Together.

Thought Questions:

1. As you reread Paul’s “put on” list, which character traits do you want to increase in your life?____________________________________________________________________________

2. Are you carrying any old resentments from your experience in church life?______________________________________

3. If so, what will you do about it? _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

4. Do you make yourself spiritually accountable to someone on a regular basis?_________________________

Prayer Time:

• Ask the Holy Spirit to show you if you are carrying any resentments.

• Bring any sin to the cross by praying through Galatians 2:20.

• Spend some moments thanking Jesus for including you in His death.

• Now just put yourself in Father’s hands and rest.

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Week 6- Weekend Reflection

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Week 6- Weekend Reflection

Scripture: Read slowly Colossians chapters 1-2.

This is a time for reflection.

1. Scan some of the devotionals you have used this week.

2. What are some of the things you have learned? ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

3. How has this study affected your times of prayer? ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

4. Because God has given you the ministry of reconciliation, how do you think God might want to use you in this ministry? ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Prayer:

• Practice “prayer-reading” by praying Paul’s words in Colossians 1:9-14.

• Let your heart go out to the Savior in worship and adoration.

• Spend a few minutes being quiet in His presence. Just be still and wait on Him. Let Him tend your soul.

• Pray for those you know who need the Savior.

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Week 6- Day 5

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Week 6- Day 5

Scripture: Read Colossians 3:5-17 and Ephesians 4:25-32.

Paul’s connecting word is “therefore” because he is connecting the who-you-are-now to the total separation from one’s past life (Col. 3:5). Because you have died with Christ, you have the power “in Him” to put to death the sexual sins that were standard lifestyles in pagan religions, just as they tend to be in our own culture.

This entire string of five things to put to death are probably all associated with sexual practices outside of marriage between one man and woman. Impurity, passion, and evil desire cover a host of adjacent sins such as common habits of lying, anger, and pornography. Covetousness has a logical connection because it involves the type of self-absorbed living that feeds its own desires far above God’s.

You cannot wean yourself off these sins. The only release from these practices is death: When you die, you cannot be tempted to lust or lie. But until we die, these passions and desires make slaves of us.

How does one put to death such strong feelings—this is the question. The clearest answer is found in Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ; and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.” I personally visualize any evil desire that I experience as being placed on Jesus Christ and me with Him. I believe it. I confess it. I take Christ’s atonement personally, and I experience His power releasing me from the power of sin.

Paul lines up another list of sins that also answer only to death: anger, wrath, malice, slander, obscene talk, and lies. Look around and see the way that sin destroys the personality and relationships of people you know. God has placed you in a fellowship (the church) of those who follow Jesus and are becoming more free and more healthy.

Thought Questions:

1. What are some emotions you have experienced recently that pull you in the wrong direction?_____________________________________________________________________________

2. What do you do in order to go free when you experience “evil desires”? __________________________________________________________________________________________________

3. Have you memorized Galatians 2:20? _________ Would you be willing to memorize it? ______

Prayer Time:

• Invite Jesus into whatever you are feeling. (Make this a habit.)

• Bring any sin that is eating on you (such as unforgiveness) to Jesus.

• Confess that you have been crucified with Him and are dead to that sin.

• Thank Jesus for setting you free from any sin that has plagued you.

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Week 6- Day 4

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Week 6- Day 4

Scripture: Read Colossians 3:1-17.

Paul’s second “If” drives home his point. You have been supernaturally joined to Christ so that you died with Him and have been raised to life with Him. Okay, so how does this practically affect your life? Paul knows that your nurturing of this truth releases Christ’s power in your life to meet the difficulties you will face day to day.

Your sense of being in Christ grows, or not, according to how well you feed upon Christ. Jesus told His disciples, “I have food to eat that you do not know about” because they had not yet learned Jesus’ secret: drawing from His Father.

The Kingdom of God operates in the spiritual world under the authority of God. You are seated with Christ in this realm where you can tap into God’s supplies of peace, grace, wisdom, and guidance.

However, there is competition for your time and attention. Worries creep in. Fears knock at your door. Paul’s “Set your minds on things above, not on…” means you need time to give Father your first priority every morning—and throughout the day.

Paul addresses our issues head on, but notice how he prefaces this extensive “put to death” list with who we are in Christ. Then he wraps up this section with a great description of our devotional lives: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another (and yourself) in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” Yes, this sounds like a small group, but see how it might help you in your personal time with God.

Thought Questions:

1. Are you able to live into being raised with Christ? _____________________________________________

2. What might help you grow in your faith-identity with Christ? ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

3. How are you feeding upon Christ?______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

4. Are you finding opportunities to encourage other Christians in their faith? _______________________

Prayer Time:

• Invite the Holy Spirit to fill you.

• Confess out loud, “I am a new creature in Christ, my old life has passed away and everything is new because I am in Christ.”

• Worship Him as your Savior.

• Spend some moments thanking Him for giving you what you need today.

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Week 6- Day 3

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Week 6- Day 3

Scripture: Read Colossians 2:20-23 and 3:1-11.

Paul begins two key sentences with a strategic “If.” Obviously he is not implying doubt here; quite the opposite: He wants you to say, Oh yeah, I did die with Christ. I’m dead to what I used to be and do. Now I’m on an entirely new page, free from the law of sin and death, free from trying to earn God’s love, free from human precepts and teachings. In other words, he wants you to live into the beauty of your new life in Christ.

No doubt Paul’s first warnings about regulations referenced the Jews who hounded and threatened him, but even the Jewish community was not free from placating other spirits just like their neighbors.

Paul tangled with a Jewish false prophet who was a magician in Acts 13. You, for instance, may have a friend who faithfully reads his/her astrology charts; this would definitely fall under the category of a “self-made” religion.

Jesus was clear, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments” (Jn. 14:15). So how do we understand biblical obedience versus what Paul warns against? Legalism is the obeying of commands in order to earn favor or approval with God. It is the same as performance-based living, and it is something with which we all wrestle at times. It’s a trap. Fortunately the Holy Spirit nudges us back to full faith in Christ for His sufficiency.

Biblical obedience is based on faith/dependence upon Christ Himself for the ability to obey, and yes, it is the result of experiencing Christ’s love. We love Him because He first loved us (1 Jn. 4:19).

Thought Questions:

1. How have you wrestled with performance-based living? __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

2. What are the symptoms that indicate you are slipping back into performance-based living?________________________________________________________________________________

3. What helps you most to live by faith in Jesus’ sufficiency rather than depending upon yourself?_________________________________________________________________________________

4. With whom do you discuss this type of topic?_____________________________________________

Prayer Time:

• Spend some moments praising Jesus Christ for earning your acceptance.

• Ask the Holy Spirit to fill you with an awareness of Christ living in you.

• By faith receive Christ’s peace and joy this morning.

• Pray for those God has placed in your life that they will taste Christ’s love.

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Week 6- Day 2

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Week 6- Day 2

Scripture: Read Colossians chapters 1 and 2 looking for how it all fits together.

Paul opens by telling them how earnest he is to pray for them (1:3,9). You can see how serious he is about using the believer’s authority through prayer. He is living out the very instructions he gave the church at Ephesus regarding their struggle against demonic influences, for he concludes, “With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and…be on the alert” (Eph. 6:18).

Two things happen as we join Christ in praying for our family, our friends, our church, our city: (1) Christ’s authority is spoken into real-life situations, and (2) such prayer keeps us spiritually alert.

How does Paul pray for these new believers? Re-read Colossians 1:9-10. In other words, go to school on how he prays. I receive his prayers into my own life, and they teach me how important it is to pray for God’s will in others.

Notice how “the Father has qualified you” to live in “the kingdom of His beloved Son” (1:12-13), and then notice how the devil tries to use subtle schemes to “disqualify you” in Colossians 2:18. We live in a war zone, and we, the church, are His soldiers.

There is a calling upon your life to pray. This is part of your stewardship.

Thought Questions:

1. How do you think God wants to use you in prayer? __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

2. Are you making sufficient time in the early mornings for God to use you in prayer? _______________________

What are your thoughts about this? __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

3. Do you have a prayer partner? ___________ How is this working? ____________________

4. What might you read that would help you pray more effectively? _________________________________________________________________________________

My favorite is Andrew Murray’s Waiting On God.

Prayer Time:

• Thank God for calling you to a ministry of praying His will on earth.

• Spend a few moments sitting still and letting Father tend your soul.

• Rejoice this morning in your weaknesses so that Christ’ power will pour through your life.

• Now surrender to the Holy Spirit to use you in praying for others.

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Week 6-Day 1

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Week 6-Day 1

Scripture: Read Colossians chapter 2.

It’s important to remind ourselves that we read Colossians through American eyes. My point is that we are not sensitive to the biblical issue of authority. The word “authority” is first, rarely discussed or referenced, and second, can easily provoke a negative response. But Paul’s letter to the church at Colossae addresses this very issue of authority.

Christ “is the Head of all rule and authority” (2:10). “He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in Him” (2:15). Since Adam abdicated his role as God’s vice-regent on earth, the war of this age has been about who has the authority. Satan’s role is described in 2 Corinthians 4:4, “The god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.”

All sorts of philosophies and beliefs swirl around us today, yet Paul wants us to understand how the spiritual world stands behind beliefs that do not acknowledge Christ as the image of the invisible God, the Creator of all things “that in everything He might be preeminent” (1:15,19). Christ is The Authority, and He has chosen to exercise His authority in the disputed territory of this world through His church. Paul alerts us to “stand firm against the schemes of the devil,” which he identifies with various levels of the demonic structures in Ephesians 6:11-12.

Paul wants you to know that some of the devil’s schemes can look spiritual (for example, asceticism), but in fact, his every sneaky belief is designed to stop you from relying upon Christ alone for both your personal acceptance with God and your authority over every evil spirit.

Thought Questions:

1. Have you encountered beliefs and practices that Paul is warning us against? __________________________________

Name some: _________________________________________________________________________________

2. When you have questions regarding biblical truth, to whom in your church do you go?_________________________________________________________________________________

3. How are you investing in learning more about what Paul is saying, and are you helping someone else who knows less than you? __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Prayer Time:

• Worship Jesus Christ who said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life”!

• Confess Jesus as your personal Shepherd. In Christ, you share His spiritual authority over the devil’s schemes. Christ has won the victory over doubts, fears, torments, and temptations. Remind the devil that the victory is already won. It’s not a power encounter; it’s a truth encounter.

• Pray for your church to use Christ’s authority in your city.

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Week 5- Weekend Reflection

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Week 5- Weekend Reflection

Scripture: Read slowly Colossians chapters 1-2.

This is a time for reflection.

1. Scan some of the devotionals you have used this week.

2. What are some of the things you have learned? ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

3. How has this study affected your times of prayer? ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

4. Because God has given you the ministry of reconciliation, how do you think God might want to

use you in this ministry? ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Prayer:

• Practice “prayer-reading” by praying Paul’s words in Colossians 1:9-14.

• Let your heart go out to the Savior in worship and adoration.

• Spend a few minutes being quiet in His presence. Just be still and wait on Him. Let Him tend your soul.

• Pray for those you know who need the Savior.

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Week 5- Day 5

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Week 5- Day 5

Scripture: Read the larger context, beginning in Colossians 1:24 to 2:23.

In the passage we have been spotlighting for some days (Col.2:12), several issues stand out. One is asceticism, which is not wildly popular in an age of indulgence. But it does exist and can sneak into our lives in one of its more subtle forms.

There are many spiritual practices that can be Spirit-inspired such as fasting, simplicity, generosity, abstinence from sex or alcohol, solitude; but they can also become sources of spiritual pride. The purpose of such practices should be to weaken the flesh and heighten one’s sensitivity to the Spirit. But

Paul warns against reliance upon our self-efforts to control the flesh. The effect of living under the Law and asceticism results in us “not holding fast to the Head,” by which Paul means that we would not be depending upon Christ alone for our pleasing God.

Another topic concerns humility. Christians sometimes do have visions such as we see with Peter in Acts 10, but genuine experiences with God mark us with humility. Paul warns us against (1) false spiritual experiences, and (2) any sort of spiritual boasting about spiritual encounters.

Paul would be appalled at the American practice of “solo Christianity.” He sees us as a community, a church that lives in interdependence, holding fast to Christ as our Head with the resulting shared sense of growing up in God.

Thought Questions:

1. What are some of your personal struggles with asceticism and legalism? __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

2. What are some of the traps you have learned to avoid? __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

3. Are you involved with the spiritual development of others in your church? _________________________________________________

4. Are you looking for opportunities to help others grow in their faith? _________________________________________________

Prayer Time:

• Spend some moments thanking Jesus for fulfilling every requirement of the Law on your behalf.

• By faith in Him receive His righteousness into your present needs.

• Pray for those in your church who might be lonely and feeling displaced.

• Ask God to use you in ministering to others.

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Week 5- Day 4

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Week 5- Day 4

Scripture: Read Colossians 2:16-23 so that you can explain it to someone.

Woven into Paul’s heart for you is this word, “I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake.” His theology of “let no one pass judgment on you in questions of…” has blood equity behind it.

Paul and Barnabas started a firestorm in the Jewish synagogue of Pisidian Antioch with this radical message of Jesus as the Messiah and fulfiller of the Law. With many Jews and God-fearers turning to Christ, there arose violent opposition that first evicted the apostles from the synagogue and later stirred up the entire city to persecute them and drive them out of the city (Acts 13:45,50).

They proceeded to the synagogue at Iconium with the same reaction: radical new believers and radical disbelievers. Yes, the gospel was good news for those who could accept it, but it had the effect of dismantling the whole status and influence of the Jewish community. Their response: a plan to stone the messengers. Providentially they caught wind of the plan and left, ending up in Lystra.

Luke then tells us that a band of angry Jews that had dogged the apostles was successful in stirring up the whole city of Lystra so that they dragged Paul outside and stoned him, leaving him for dead (Acts 14:19). I have to wonder if this was the occasion Paul has in mind when he said, “I know a man…who fourteen years ago—whether in the body I do not know, or out of the body I do not know, God knows— such a man was caught up to the third heaven.” There in Paradise he heard inexpressible words that a man is not permitted to speak (2 Cor. 12:2,4).

I am guessing that the disciples laid hands on Paul with the result that he “got up and entered the city” (Acts 14:20). Talk about courage! Then Paul and Barnabas retraced their steps to the very cities where they had been so violently threatened.

Thought Questions:

1. How does reading about Paul’s sufferings affect you? __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

2. How have you had to pay a price in order to be different from former friends? __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

3. Are you able to rejoice when it costs you to serve God? ________________________________________________

4. What does God promise to those who suffer for Him? __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Prayer Time:

• Spend some moments thanking God for those who have suffered in order for you to be saved?

• Count it a joy to serve God in whatever circumstances you are in right now (Jam. 1:2).

• Ask Jesus to use you to help others find eternal life. Pray for the bold witness of your brothers and sisters where they work today.

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Week 5- Day 3

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Week 5- Day 3

Scripture: Read Colossians 2:16-23 slowly.

Paul’s use of “therefore” says, This is the conclusion, the point. Because you have been joined to Christ, you are no longer under the law. The problem wasn’t with the law; the problem was and is with our sin nature. The law identifies sin, but our flesh (sin nature) can only respond in one of two ways: (1) by my own effort I try to earn my own righteousness, or (2) I rebel against these limits on my behavior.

The problem isn’t just a Jewish issue. We were born with a mixture of these two responses. Sometimes we obey “the rules” (in our culture) in order to please people, and sometimes we disobey “the rules” because we want life our way.

Every society has rules. God’s commandments (the law) are unique in that His law is perfect. “The Law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good” (Rom. 7:12). Paul then states the problem, “For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin” (Rom. 7:14).

Jesus obeyed the Law the right way: by faith dependence upon His Father. He alone is our righteousness. Today, we obey His commandments because (1) we love Him, and (2) these describe the way to freedom. His grace.

So Paul’s statement, “let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food, drink, festival or Sabbath” is a warning for us to not revert to the Jewish way of trying to earn our own righteousness. There would have been some Jewish Christians who kept the old ways but not to earn righteousness; and they would have lived in the freedom of the Spirit because they understood.

Thought Questions:

1. How well do you think you understand this issue in your own life? __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

2. Does your natural tendency lean more toward trying to measure up by your performance (legalism) or saying, “to heck with it” (license)? __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

3. What helps you to personally live in the freedom that comes from trusting Christ for your own righteousness? __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

4. Do you have a friend or prayer partner with whom you discuss these issues? __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Prayer Time:

• Invite the Holy Spirit to be your Teacher on these issues. Confess Christ as your righteousness.

• If you are carrying any guilt or shame, surrender these to your Savior.

• Worship Jesus as your Lord and Shepherd.

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Week 5- Day 2

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Week 5- Day 2

Scripture: Read again Colossians 2:8-23. See if you can follow Paul’s flow of thoughts.

Paul is addressing new believers who are Gentiles. We do not feel the shock today that the first Jewish Christians felt when they witnessed God including uncircumcised heathens into His family.

We Gentile Christians need to celebrate what Paul best describes in Ephesians 2:12-13. Paul addresses the Gentiles, “You were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.”

Paul is saying that what is true of Christ is true of us. He died. We died with Him. He rose. We rose with Him. The center of everything is the cross (Col. 2:14). There our sin-debt was paid. There the legal demands of the law were canceled. His death is where all of this was accomplished. Where is Paul going here? He is setting the stage to highlight the irony of the cross. Satan was behind the collusion between the best government in the world at that time and the best religion in the world at that time in crucifying Jesus. Satan stripped Jesus and poured shame on Him; however, the tables were turned so that Jesus was raised from the dead, conquering Satan and death. “He disarmed the rulers and authorities,” but the Greek can just as well be translated, “He stripped the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame by triumphing over them in Him.”

It’s important to understand who you are now because there are elemental spirits who want to deceive you so that you will not be used to “triumph over them in Him.”

Thought Questions:

1. Do you think of yourself as being truly joined to Christ? _________________________________

2. How might you increase your personal identity as being “in Christ”? ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

3. What are some of the things God has given to you “in Christ”? ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Prayer Time:

• Pray into John 15:5, “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me…he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.”

• See the Father placing you in His Son and giving you rest.

• Spend some moments thanking God for causing His Son to live in you.

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Week 5- Day 1

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Week 5- Day 1

Scripture:  Read Colossians 2:8-23

My atheist friends marvel that I know who I am. I’m clear, I’m certain, I’m secure…and this intrigues them. How is this possible? Paul outlines who we are in Colossians 2:11-14. We have been joined to Christ through our participation with Him in His death and His resurrection. Finding Him results in finding our own identity. Isn’t that an amazing thing?

Circumcision was the sign of belonging to the old covenant, yet it was always meant to symbolize a circumcision of the heart. Jeremiah says, “Circumcise yourselves to the Lord and remove the foreskins of your heart” (Jer. 4:4). Paul picks up on this in Romans 2:29, “But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit.”

The Jews knew who they were too. They were marked as covenant people. They belonged to the community of God. The new covenant involves an inner, heart circumcision that takes place when you participate in Christ’s death. Paul describes this as us “having been buried with Him in baptism.” Our identity has changed. We no longer live controlled by our flesh, but Christ lives in us. This is “a circumcision made without hands,” and it joins us to God’s people, the church.

New covenant, new circumcision, new community.

God Himself gave us our faith, our ability to believe in Christ (Eph. 2:8-9), and through our faith we have a new identity. We are participating in “the powerful working of God” in that we have been made alive with Him.

Thought Questions:

  1. How are you using this great truth: you were joined to Christ in His death, His burial, and His resurrection? ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

  2. Does this previous question puzzle you? ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

You want to draw your identity from being united with Christ. For example, I frequently pray through Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.”

Prayer Time:

  • Pray into the verse, “I have been crucified with Christ; and I no longer live but Christ lives in me.” Confess this truth out loud if possible.

  • Revisit Romans 10:9, “If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved/set free/delivered.”

  • In prayer own your identity in Christ.

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Week 4- Weekend Reflection

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Week 4- Weekend Reflection

Scripture: Read slowly Colossians chapters 1-2. This is a time for reflection.

  1. Scan some of the devotionals you have used this week.

  2. What are some of the things you have learned? ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

  3. How has this study affected your times of prayer? ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

  4. Because God has given you the ministry of reconciliation, how do you think God might want to use you in this ministry? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________________

Prayer:

  • Practice “prayer-reading” by praying Paul’s words in Colossians 1:9-14.

  • Let your heart go out to the Savior in worship and adoration.

  • Spend a few minutes being quiet in His presence. Just be still and wait on Him. Let Him tend your soul.

  • Pray for those you know who need the Savior. 

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Week 4- Day 5

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Week 4- Day 5

Scripture: Colossians 2:6-23

Paul has spoken vision over your life, and he has spelled out the life-changing reality of who Christ is, thus preparing you to recognize some of the traps in your culture. It’s like he is sending you into the world armed with the truth that “He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in Him” (Col. 2:15).

The “elemental spirits” in this passage are, in fact, spirits—not just principles. How does this work? Paul outlines this in Ephesians 4:26-27: “Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil a place.” The Greek says “place.” So imagine how many places the devil can connect with humans when they move in pride, unforgiveness, lust, lies, etc.

No matter what sub-culture you come from, there are “traditions” that govern what is expected of you: values, behaviors, beliefs, attitudes. Behind many of these philosophies or traditions is a spirit world that Paul says is “according to the elemental spirits.” Satan is a liar, a deceiver, and here Paul simply calls him out and declares that He disarmed these spirits.

The call is to discern how God’s ways differ from what is popularly advertised and celebrated. When you begin to follow Christ some deceptions become immediately obvious, such as pornography. It’s flagged, but the subtle, often unspoken “rules” of our culture must be exposed by the Holy Spirit’s “Aha.” Pride, for example, has a thousand changes of clothes.

Jesus, our Head, is sending us into the world as “more than conquerors” (Rom. 8:37).

Thought Questions:

  1. What were some of the “rules” you grew up with that differ from the ways of freedom in Christ? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

  2. Do you have a prayer partner with whom to share these things? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

  3. One of the main ways we stay alert spiritually is by investing in prayer. How is this working for you? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Prayer Time:

  • Spend some moments thanking God for His Son.

  • Ask the Holy Spirit to show you the traps set for you.

  • Pray for your church to be powerfully used by God to set others free.

  • Just sit quietly and let God minister to you. 

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