Sunday, November 22, 2015

*How to be Thankful: Week 4

Can you believe this is our last week of studying How to be Thankful together?  I prayed and fumbled around quite a bit with how to approach this last bit of scripture.  I desperately wanted to finish up Colossians 3 and fold it into Chapter 4 this week since it is filled with such wonderful advice for the believer as they are made new and leading into how to pray in thanksgiving.  However, out of respect for those who have a passel of plans this week, I decided to go with a more concise wrap-up.

You will find each lesson to be much shorter this week in order to accommodate meal and guest preparations.  Not to mention, I ultimately felt it necessary to focus our energies on this final Thanksgiving command in order to prepare our hearts and wrap up the study. If you missed the first 3 weeks, don't fret.  I think you will agree: learning how to be Thankful isn't just a November thing.  I would encourage you to still go, grab Week 1 , Week 2 , and Week 3 out of the line-up, and start the study now (or as soon as you can).  Maybe just disregard the fall bonus activities!!  This study is applicable to our lives year-round.

Remember: For your convenience, I have placed an asterisks * in the title of the 2 weekly articles which most directly hit on the study.  Other articles are applications, reflections, and just plain fun stuff!  There are really only two key posts to this study each week, they post on Sunday and Wednesday.


Let's recap:

Week 1: True Gratitude stems from Salvation as a reflection of how thankful we are for what Jesus has done.  We looked at the first part of Colossians Chapter 1 with emphasis on this passage:

11May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, 12giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. 13He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.  
- Colossians 1:11-14

Week 2: As the result of Salvation we are called to live a Christ-centered life and when we do so, gratitude is an overflow of such a life.  We finished up Chapter 1 and scoured Chapter 2, pouring over these verses:

Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.
Colossians 2:6-7

We also considered some instructions for getting better rooted in Christ and bearing His fruit found in Galatians 5:16-26 and 1 Thessalonians 5:12-22.

Week 3: Salvation + Christ-centered = Made New.  We put to death the earthly things and focus on the eternal, letting the Peace of Christ rule in our hearts producing even more gratitude!  No matter the circumstances, we can be grateful God is with us.  We also discussed how, in the name of was a reference to being like a person.  We are called to be the image of Christ. We had multiple points and gratitude verses in this section of reading.  We mostly pooled around these:

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 
Colossians 3:1
15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.
16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.
17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. 
Colossians 3:15-17

This Week for our final message we will look at Paul's closing remarks to pray watchfully in thanksgiving and to share our faith.
This week's reading and study plan (click on the image to open the PDF):

Scripture this week is from Colossians 4:2-6

What and How ... what do we do now and how do we respond?

Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.
- Colossians 4:6

One historical note I want to touch on before we get started is the use of salt.  I think all other analogies will be clear as we study but this one I wanted to be sure was crystal.

Salt in biblical times had 3 main uses or references:
  • cleansing and preserving food from decay
  • forming covenants
  • flavor

Two of these uses are probably familiar to you as still being common today.  In contrast, forming covenants is something which stems out of Leviticus 2:13 and draws salt's preservative use into the concept: a covenant which will not decay.

We can easily extract symbolism in the 4:6 passage with concrete covenants, however, the element which seemed most applicable is flavor.  Consider this; without flavor (see Matthew 5:13) salt becomes useless, dull, un-interesting and indistinct.  

Not only will we look at praying in Thankfulness, but we will also look at where we go from here and the importance of not letting our life become flavorless and how our prayers of gratitude can help.

As we study this week, let's keep this fact at the forefront of our mind!

How can you pray steadfastly in thanksgiving and, as the result of your prayers, seek open doors where you might be salt and light?

This is the question we will answer this week.


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Remember, all you need is your Bible and a journal or paper.  If you want to print the S.W.A.P. worksheet, it is optional.  You can use one for the whole week, adding to the questions as you go, or print out one for each day.  If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to let me know.  Take it step-by-step and do whatever you feel able to do.  The important thing is to focus on God's Word and what He is saying.

S.W.A.P. Intro...

S.W.A.P. Worksheet...

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