Sunday, November 1, 2015

*How to be Thankful: Week 1

Oh, I can hardly believe it is November 1st already and the kick-off of our month-long devotion on How to be Thankful!  We begin to prepare our hearts because holiday season is technically HERE: that string of Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years which all lives in the United States seem to hinge on.  Plump turkey images are popping up everywhere.  Cornucopias overflowing with autumn bounty are proudly displayed.  The season of remembrance is upon us and opportunities to express Thanksgiving abound.  How can we make this season, and all that are to come, much more meaningful?  HOW can we truly be Thankful, not just on the surface, but deep down from within?

As I prayed over this looming question, I felt God leading me to the book of Colossians.  We won't dig into EVERY nook and cranny of this book, but we will take a closer look and some key messages.  Why Colossians?  Because as I read I saw a repeated theme: giving thanks, in thanksgiving, be thankful... and so on.  Various forms of "thanksgiving" appear in my ESV translation more than 6 times in the short 4 chapters of this letter.... 3 of those times are within ONE paragraph!  I was pretty sure this had significance.  As I dug deeper I saw little messages attached to each thankful passage which seemed to ring out and beg application in this season of Thanksgiving and all the days beyond.  So what do you say?  Ready to get started?

For our study I have developed what I lovingly call the SWAP method because my heart is to swap what we have always assumed we know or take for granted in God’s Word for what God’s Word actually says.  For the details in how this works, please visit the devotion page here.  Or, download the PDFs I have prepared to help walk you through this process.

The worksheet is NOT a requirement. You can accomplish the same format with your own journal.  It is simply meant as a guide and IF you like to have the format ready for you... it is! Basically, all you need is:

- Bible (I am using ESV)
- Journal
- Worksheet (optional)

Our week will look something like this:

Sunday (BY 5pm but hopefully sooner):  Bible Study Plan will be posted
Monday: Scripture Image posted on Facebook using the week's focus passage
Tuesday: Preparing your Home, Preparing your Heart... it is, after all, a Faith and Home blog! We will have a home preparing activity each week to get ready for company... or whatever else you may need to order your home for in November.  It will tie into the message and areas we can prepare our hearts as well.  Tuesday's message will be sort of a check-in to see how the study is coming and encourage critical thinking where the scripture is concerned.
Wednesday: Mid-week Message video with my notes attached on the heart of our study for the week.  Mid-week music on Facebook will also attempt to tie into our messages.
Thursday: Gratitude Reflections rooted in the message of the week please, please, please feel free to link in your own reflections in the comments of Thursdays' posts here or on Facebook.  I will visit your blog if you do!
Friday: Thanksgiving Inspired Activities and Recipes

It seems like a lot and, well, I guess it sort of is!  For your time's sake and mine I will aim to keep many of these posts short and to-the-point.  I know this is a lot to take in already, so for today we will keep it simple.  Shall we jump in?


Here is this week's plan outline (click on the image to open PDF):

Scripture this week is in Colossians 1:1-20 but today we will focus on the second letter in S.W.A.P.:
     Who was this letter written to/from and Why was it written?
The letter to the Colossians was written by the Apostle Paul in the mid 1st Century to the believers in Colosse in what is now the region of modern day Turkey.  It is a letter intended to encourage the believers, help them understand how to walk out their faith and to remember  how Christ is and must always be the greatest focus in a Christian's affections and worship.

Was this just a casual FYI letter?  It doesn't seem to be so.  Biblical scholars tend to believe we are seeing Paul's reaction to the Judiazers; a group of Jewish converts (accepted that Jesus was the Messiah) who taught that you HAD TO have the Law AND Faith.  Basically, these guys were the staunch traditionalists thinking with their head, going through the motions, but often forgetting the heart.  To them, faith and salvation in Jesus Christ required works, something even Jesus himself was clear on: NO ONE can find their way to salvation on works, it is simply by grace and faith.  Paul sought to reassure the believers, to start, by reminding them of the saving grace of Jesus Christ being something which is more than enough to create gratitude in anyone (isn't it good to know nothing we DO wins or disqualifies us from salvation?!) and that nothing they do can compare because Jesus is the beginning, middle, and end of EVERYTHING!  What more could they add?

Paul knows the believers are struggling to understand... to choose between tradition and submission.  Paul wanted them to have the proper theology and he wanted to help them understand how to put it into practice.  Among his messages of encouragement in this letter is the idea to be Thankful and the various ways to spark that gratitude.  The first spark to gratitude?  Salvation. This is the message we will explore more deeply this week.

The letter from Paul to the believers in Colosse seemed a fitting backdrop to our study on How to be Thankful and the season of Thanksgiving... a holiday so steeped in it's traditions we often feel a sense of obligation to be thankful vs. a desire rooted in something deeper.  Tomorrow we will dive into the text and I will meet you back here Tuesday for another installment on this message.  In the mean time, please feel free to shoot me any questions or thoughts you have!

May the Lord guide and bless you as you start this study in Colossians on the idea of How to be Thankful this week.


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