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Secret Power to Treasures, Purity, and a Good ComplexionA Personal Bible Study on the Book of Colossians
By Susie Shellenberger
ZondervanCopyright © 2005 Youth Specialties
All right reserved.
Chapter OneCOLOSSIANS 1
Christ: The Energizer!
(Note: Each chapter of this Bible study is divided into bite-size chunks that you can either swallow all at once or spread out and complete over a period of time. Try to complete one entire bite at each sitting, okay?)
Where is it? In the New Testament, immediately after Philippians and just before 1 Thessalonians.
Who wrote it? Paul.
Who was he? Paul was an apostle of Jesus Christ, but he sure took an interesting route in getting there! He used to hate Christians. In fact, he even persecuted them. But God temporarily blinded him and helped him see that what he was doing was wrong. When that happened, Paul gave his life to God. You can read the whole story in Acts 9. After Paul began serving God, he wrote several letters (books of the New Testament) to fellow Christians. This book of Colossians is a letter he wrote to the church in the city of Colosse.
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, to the holy and faithful brothers in Christ at Colosse: Grace and peace to you from God our Father. (Colossians 1:1-2)
What's an apostle?
_______ A. A figurine for a new game by Milton Bradley.
_______ B. One of the original 12 disciples, plus Matthias and Paul.
_______ C. A Bible professor at Bethlehem Community College.
_______ D. One who pours concrete for swimming pools.
The apostles were the original 12 disciples chosen by Jesus. After Judas Iscariot betrayed Christ and died, the disciples met together and prayed for someone to Take his place. Matthias was chosen. Later, after Saul dedicated his life to Christ and his name was changed to Paul, he also joined the rank of apostles.
But everyone who follows Jesus Christ is considered a disciple. How does that Make you feel? (Check all that apply.)
_______ A. Pretty special _______ C. Honored
_______ B. Frightened _______ D. Reluctant
We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all the saints-the faith and love that spring from the hope that is stored up for you in heaven and that you have already heard about in the word of truth, the gospel that has come to you. (Colossians 1:3-5)
Paul reminded the people in the church of Colosse that he was praying for them. Take a moment to list all the people who pray for you.
Are you aware that Jesus Christ prays for you? In fact, before he was crucified, he prayed an incredibly special prayer for you. Grab your own Bible and flip to John 17. What are some specific things Jesus talks to God about on your behalf?
Are there people for whom you pray regularly regularly? If so, list their names in the space provided. If not, write a prayer asking God to bring specific people to your mind for whom God wants you to pray.
Paul also mentions the "hope that is stored up for you in heaven." Sometimes we need to be reminded that heaven is our real home. Heaven is where we'll live eternally. We'll never get sick in heaven; we won't suffer; and we'll never experience any problems. Wow! Think about it: You'll never be lonely, jealous, picked on, made fun of, or have to worry about how you look (because you'll get a brand-new spiritual body)! We'll also get to live forever with God, who created us. That is our hope.
If you truly looked at life through this perspective, how would that change the Daily problems you face? (Check all that apply.)
_______ A. It would make my trials seem smaller.
_______ B. It would give me more confidence, because I'd realize I have something much greater to look forward to.
_______ C. It would give me true joy.
_______ D. I'd probably worry less about how I look.
_______ E. Other ___________________________________
All over the world this gospel is producing fruit and growing, just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and understood God's grace in all its truth. (Colossians 1:6)
Paul wasn't afraid to preach the gospel. In fact, he shared the Good News Everywhere he went. He talked about God when he was in jail, while he was being persecuted, and on a shipwrecked island. Because his relationship with Jesus consumed him, it was always the topic of his conversation with others.
What about you? Is your relationship with Christ so important to you that you can't help but talk about it? Take this quick quiz and rate your talkability regarding God.
Is Christ Showing?
1. My friends know I'm a Christian, because I talk about Christ in many of our conversations. _______ True _______ False 2. Most of my classmates know I'm a Christian, because of my conversation and my actions. _______ True _______ False
3. I discuss what God is teaching me with my family. _______ True _______ False
4. I share prayer requests with my friends. _______ True _______ False
5. I talk about church and youth group activities with those around me. _______ True _______ False
6. Even people who don't know me personally would suspect I'm a Christian because of the way I act. _______True _______False
7. If a stranger eavesdropped on most of my conversations, she would guess I'm a Christian because of what I talk about. _______ True _______ False
8. I can't wait to share answers to prayer with my friends or family members. _______ True _______ False
9. I'm not ashamed to carry my Bible to school. _______ True _______ False
10. One of my favorite things to talk about with others is my relationship with God. _______ True _______ False
How did you do? Is Christ showing through your life? Is it obvious to others That you're in love with Jesus? If you need help in this area, take a moment to write Out a prayer in the space provided asking God to help you reflect your relationship With God more to those around you.
If you're a shining reflection of Christ's love right now, write him a prayer asking for specific opportunities to share him with those who aren't Christians.
You learned it from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on our behalf, and who also told us of your love in the Spirit. (Colossians 1:7-8)
Many Bible scholars think Epaphras founded the church in Colosse while Paul was living in Ephesus (see Acts 19:10). Epaphras visited Paul in prison and told him about the problems happening in the Colossian church. Their conversation is what motivated Paul to write this letter to the Colossians.
Read Colossians 1:7-8 again. What kind of reputation did Epaphras have?
What kind of reputation do you have? (Circle all that apply.)
As a Christian, you-like Epaphras-are considered a minister of Christ. In other words, God wants you to share the Good News with those around you, take your relationship with Jesus seriously, and be faithful to him. What would it take to for others to view you as a "faithful minister of Christ," as Paul saw Epaphras?
_______ A. I'd need to establish an actual relationship with Christ.
_______ B. I'd need to get more serious about my relationship with Christ.
_______ C. I'd need to be more vocal about my relationship with Christ.
_______ D. I'd need to deepen my relationship with Christ.
_______ E. Other _____________________________________
For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. (Colossians 1:9)
According to the above Scripture, what specifically did Paul pray for concerning his friends in Colosse?
What specifically do you most often pray for when you pray for your friends?
What specifically do you most often pray for when you pray for your family members?
Read Colossians 1:9 again. According to this verse ...
_______ A. We can know a fraction of God's will for our lives.
_______ B. We can have a little portion of God's wisdom.
_______ C. If we work really hard at being good and give more money to our church, we can know what God wants us to do.
_______ D. We can actually know God's will for our lives.
Let's chat about wisdom for a few minutes. Grab your own Bible and flip to Proverbs 10:14. Read the Scripture and jot down what a wise person will do.
Now flip back to Proverbs 4:5. What things does this Scripture encourage you to "get" or learn to develop?
And according to Proverbs 4:6, what are the benefits of clinging to wisdom?
Check out what Proverbs 4:11 says in The Living Bible: "A life of doing right is the wisest life there is."
If the Great Physician (Jesus) were to give you a spiritual examination right now, how would your "check-up" go, according to this verse?
And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. (Colossians 1:10-12)
Paul had never met the Colossians, but oh, how he prayed for them! And according to the above verses, he prayed a mighty prayer! You, too, can pray for people you've never met. Make a list of people you don't know personally but for whom you should pray. I'll get you started; you complete the list.
1. The president of our country
8. Those in need you hear about on the news or read about in the paper
According to what Paul prayed for the Colossians, how can you obtain great endurance and patience?
In what areas of your life do you need endurance and patience?
Paul prayed that the Colossians would "grow in the knowledge of God." What will It take for you to grow spiritually in this manner? (Check all that apply.)
_______ A. I'll need to read my Bible more.
_______ B. I'll need to go shopping.
_______ C. I'll start praying more often.
_______ D. I'll get more involved in church and youth group.
_______ E. I'll watch more TV.
_______ F. I'll talk about my faith with others.
_______ G. I'll memorize our church bulletin.
_______ H. Other ___________________________________
"... and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light." (Colossians 1:12)
How long has it been since you've thanked God for the blessings you've received? Have you ever thanked God for what Paul suggests-the fact that you get "to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light"?
Take a few minutes to design some creative bumper sticker slogans expressing your thankfulness to God for a variety of things.
THANKS, GOD! I OWE YOU MY LIFE!
For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. (Colossians 1:13-14)
Flash back to your younger years. Identify things from the list below that frightened you as a child.
In addition to some of the above, many children are also afraid of darkness. The people in the Colossian church were afraid of the unseen forces of darkness. What are the unseen forces of darkness?
_______ A. Whatever's living under your bed.
_______ B. The stuff inside the bathtub drain.
_______ C. Satan and his demonic forces.
_______ D. Anything that makes a weird noise.
You can't see Satan and his demons, but we know they're at work, because the Bible is clear on the fact that Satan hates you, and his mission is to destroy you.
Check this out: "For we are not fighting against people made of flesh and blood, but against persons without bodies-the evil rulers of the unseen world, those mighty satanic beings and great evil princes of darkness who rule this world; and against huge numbers of wicked spirits in the spirit world" (Ephesians 6:12, The Living Bible).
As Christians, we should be aware of Satan's tactics so we can guard against them. But we need to be careful not to become obsessed or fearful of them. Satan can play on our curiosity. Those who say, "I just want to find out what Satanism is all about" are soon in over their heads. God doesn't want us to be curious about the forces of darkness; he wants our curiosity directed toward Jesus. God wants to fill our curious appetites with Christ's truth-not the enemy.
Paul is reminding the Colossians that before they made a decision to follow Christ, they were living in darkness. But now that Christ ruled their lives, they no longer had to live in fear. Neither do you!
1 John 4:4 is a terrific verse to memorize and quote to yourself when you are fearful. Take a second to read it right now and copy it in the space provided.
Through Christ's death on the cross-and through his forgiveness of your sins-he Has offered you a place in his Kingdom. He's made you a part of his family. You're no longer part of Satan's world of darkness; you're a child of light. Since you now belong to him, you don't need to live in fear of Satan.
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. (Colossians 1:15)
Why does Paul say that Christ was the "firstborn"? We know that Jesus wasn't Actually the first human being ever born. Paul was a Jew, and in Jewish culture the "firstborn" didn't necessarily mean the order of physical birth. The "firstborn" was a term used by Jews to mean great honor. By referring to Christ as the "firstborn," Paul was reminding the Colossians that Jesus is honored over all creation.
Grab your Bible and check out Psalm 89:27.
What is David called in this verse?
Now flip to Exodus 4:22. How is Israel referred to in this Scripture?
Have you ever wondered what God looks like? According to the above verse, you can know the description of God by looking at the life of Jesus. Pretend you've been contacted by The New York Times to write a character description of God. All you have to rely on are paintings you've seen of Jesus, the Bible, and your Personal relationship with Christ. Go ahead. Based on all you know about Jesus, take The New York Times up on its offer and jot down your description below.
We can actually know God by ...
_______ A. Taking a photo of the sky.
_______ B. Knowing Jesus.
_______ C. Walking past several churches.
_______ D. Chanting, "I know God, I know God, I know God" and later setting it to music.
For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. (Colossians 1:16)
What does the above verse tell you about God's power?
The Colossian Christians were confused. They doubted that God actually created the entire world, because the world contains evil. How could a perfect God create evil?
Everything God created was good, but God also chooses to allow us free will. In other words, God lets us choose to do right or to do wrong. Unfortunately, we don't always make the right choice. Some of us have chosen to do evil things; some have even chosen to become evil people.
In fact, some of the angels in heaven didn't make the right choice, either. Satan (Lucifer) was an angel whom God blessed with many musical gifts. But because God doesn't treat angels (or people) like puppets, forcing them to move, act, and decide the way God wants them to, Lucifer made the bad choice of disobeying God. He became jealous and wanted God's power. He desired equal status with the Creator.
But there can only be one King of Kings. There is only one God. One Creator. No one is God's equal. And since God's Kingdom is perfect, God can't allow sin in heaven. So God threw Satan out of heaven. Several angels (also making bad choices and known as demons) followed Satan, and they've been wreaking havoc on earth ever since.
But although sin is in the world, God's power isn't weaker. God hasn't become Lessened because of evil. God is still in control. God is still on the throne and always will be. The Bible assures us that someday, God will allow Jesus to permanently defeat Satan and his demons for eternity.
What if someone approached you and said, "If God is a good God and full of love, why is there evil in the world?" How would you respond?
How do you feel when friends ask you religious questions you're not sure how to answer?
_______ A. It makes me determined to study, do the research necessary and find the answers.
_______ B. I get really, really frustrated really, really fast.
_______ C. I usually spend some time in prayer and seek God's direction on how to respond.
Excerpted from Secret Power to Treasures, Purity, and a Good Complexion by Susie Shellenberger Copyright © 2005 by Youth Specialties.
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