Life Lessons from Colossians and Philemon: The Difference Christ Makes

Life Lessons from Colossians and Philemon: The Difference Christ Makes

by Max Lucado

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Overview

Do you remember when God amazed you? When he marvelously provided for you? Sadly, sometimes we forget God’s mercy. We lose sight of his grace. The early believers in the Colossian church had forgotten. Instead, they were impressed by spiritual claims from false teachers, and the church was starting to add some extras to salvation. The apostle Paul’s letters reminded them that Jesus is all we will ever need. Paul encourages. He challenges. He gives principles for living and interacting at work, in our families, and our churches. Paul also knew that one of his friends had been betrayed and had every reason to seek revenge. So Paul wrote to Philemon encouraging him to rise above his hurt and show mercy, forgiveness, grace, and love. Paul’s letters remind us of the difference Christ makes in every aspect of our lives.

The Life Lessons with Max Lucado series brings the Bible to life in twelve lessons filled with intriguing questions, inspirational stories, and poignant reflections to take you deeper into God’s Word. Each lesson includes an opening reflection, background information, an excerpt of the text (from the New International and New King James versions), exploration questions, inspirational thoughts from Max, and a closing takeaway for further reflection. The Life Lessons series is ideal for use in both a small-group setting or for individual study.

The Life Lessons with Max Lucado series is ideal for use in both a small-group setting or for individual study.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780310086529
Publisher: HarperChristian Resources
Publication date: 07/10/2018
Series: Life Lessons
Pages: 128
Sales rank: 453,793
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.70(h) x 0.40(d)

About the Author

Since entering the ministry in 1978, Max Lucado has served churches in Miami, Florida; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; and San Antonio, Texas. He currently serves as Teaching Minister of Oak Hills Church in San Antonio. He is America’s bestselling inspirational author with more than 140 million products in print.

Visit his website at Max Lucado.com

Facebook.com/Max Lucado

Instagram.com/Max Lucado

Twitter.com/Max Lucado

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

FAITH, HOPE, AND LOVE

We heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of your love for all the saints; because of the hope which is laid up for you in heaven.

COLOSSIANS 1:4-5 NKJV

REFLECTION

Letter writing is quickly becoming a relic of a bygone era. With cell phones, email, and text messaging, few people sit down anymore with paper and pen, with the intent of composing a thoughtful correspondence. What are your own letter-writing habits?

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SITUATION

At some point during Paul's ministry — most likely during his imprisonment in Rome c. AD 60 — the apostle learned the church in Colossae was being bombarded by an eclectic mix of heretical teachings. Although Paul did not found the church, he felt compelled to write a letter to them to guide them back to the true teachings of the gospel. His message to them was simply that Christ is preeminent. He is Creator and Lord — the all-sufficient Savior of the world. In our union with him — by grace and through faith — the Christian finds all he or she will ever need.

OBSERVATION

Read Colossians 1:1-8 from the New International Version or the New King James Version.

New International Version

1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother,

2 To God's holy people in Colossae, the faithful brothers and sisters in Christ:

Grace and peace to you from God our Father.

3 We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, 5 because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all God's people — 5 the faith and love that spring from the hope stored up for you in heaven and about which you have already heard in the true message of the gospel 6 that has come to you. In the same way, the gospel is bearing fruit and growing throughout the whole world — just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and truly understood God's grace. 7 You learned it from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on our behalf, 8 and who also told us of your love in the Spirit.

New King James Version

1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother,

2 To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ who are in Colosse:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

3 We give thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, 4 since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of your love for all the saints; 5 because of the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, of which you heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel, 6 which has come to you, as it has also in all the world, and is bringing forth fruit, as it is also among you since the day you heard and knew the grace of God in truth; 7 as you also learned from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf, 8 who also declared to us your love in the Spirit.

EXPLORATION

1. What do you learn about the Colossian believers from this brief introductory paragraph?

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2. Why was Paul thankful for the Colossians?

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3. What does Paul mean in this passage when he speaks of "hope"

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4. What is the connection between faith, hope, and love?

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5. What do you remember most about the day when you "heard [the message of the gospel] and truly understood God's grace" (verse 6)?

6. How does Paul describe Epaphras? What role did he play in the Colossian church?

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INSPIRATION

Jesus said, "I am the bread that gives life. I am the light of the world. I am the resurrection and the life. ... I am the door. I am the way, the truth, and the life. I will come back and take you with me." Jesus proclaiming — ever offering but never forcing.

Standing over the crippled man: "Do you want to get well?" (John 5:6).

Eye to eye with the blind man, now healed: "Do you believe in the Son of Man?" (9:35).

Near the tomb of Lazarus, probing the heart of Martha: "Whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?" (11:26).

Testing Pilate's motive: "Is that your own idea ... or did others talk to you about me?" (18:34).

The first time John hears Jesus speak, Jesus asks a question, "What do you want?" (1:38). Among Jesus' last words is yet another: "Do you love me?" (21:17).

This is the Jesus whom John remembers. The honest questions. The thundering claims. The gentle touch. Never going where not invited, but once invited never stopping until he's finished, until a choice has been made.

God will whisper. He will shout. He will touch and tug. He will take away our burdens; he'll even take away our blessings. If there are a thousand steps between us and him, he will take all but one. But he will leave the final one for us. The choice is ours.

Please understand. His goal is not to make you happy. His goal is to make you his. His goal is not to get you what you want; it is to get you what you need. ... Earthly discomfort is a glad swap for heavenly peace. Jesus said, "In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world" (16:33). (From A Gentle Thunder by Max Lucado.)

REACTION

7. The Colossians heard the claims of Christ from Epaphras. Whom did God use to share the good news with you?

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8. Paul referred to his readers as "holy" (verse 2), a word that means being set apart or dedicated solely for God's use. What are the practical implications of this?

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9. What about your life would prompt your pastor, small-group leader, or mentor to feel thankful?

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10. How is the gospel bearing fruit and growing in your life?

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11. How can you tell if you are demonstrating "love in the Spirit" (verse 8)?

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12. What does it mean to be "saints" (verse 2)?

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LIFE LESSONS

Amazing things happen when we put our faith in Christ. We are born again (see John 3:3-8). We become God's children (see John 1:12-13). Our sins are forgiven (see Ephesians 1:7). We receive eternal life (see 1 John 5:11). God's Spirit takes up residence in our lives (see Romans 8:15). Not only do we enjoy all these blessings, but we also are infused with hope. Biblical hope is not a vague wish about the future; it is a sure and certain expectation. With that hope, we also receive a new capacity to love others. Faith, hope, and love. These are the defining marks of one who has experienced new life in Christ!

DEVOTION

Father in heaven, thank you for opening our eyes — and our hearts — to the truth of the gospel. Deepen our faith. Strengthen our hope. Increase our love. Cause the gospel to bear much fruit in and through our lives. We pray this in the great name of Christ.

JOURNALING

How does a deep and abiding hope in Christ lead to a life filled with love?

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FOR FURTHER READING

To complete the books of Colossians and Philemon during this twelvepart study, read Colossians 1:1-8. For more Bible passages on faith, hope, and love, read Romans 5:1-5; 1 Corinthians 13:13; Galatians 5:5-6; 1 Thessalonians 1:3; 5:8; and 1 Peter 1:21-22.

CHAPTER 2

PRAYING WITH POWER

For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you.

Colossians 1:9

REFLECTION

Right now, all over the world, Christians are praying. In trucks. In elevators. In barracks. Stuck in traffic. Waiting outside ICUs. Talking to God, listening to him, thanking him for amazing blessings, and asking him for "impossible" miracles. Who are the people who faithfully pray for you? Who are the ones you want praying for you?

SITUATION

Paul, after providing several reasons as to why he is thankful for the Colossian believers, now states that he has been praying faithfully for them. Paul relates some of the contents of his prayers, which include his requests that God will fill them with wisdom from the Holy Spirit so they may lead lives pleasing to God. He desires for them to grow and mature in Christ — especially so they can persevere in the face of the false teaching in their midst.

OBSERVATION

Read Colossians 1:9-14 from the New International Version or the New King James Version.

New International Version

9 For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, 10 so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, 11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, 12 and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. 13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

New King James Version

9 For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; 10 that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; 11 strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy; giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.

EXPLORATION

1. How would you describe your prayer habits for other people?

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2. What specific requests does Paul make for the Colossian believers?

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3. Which of these virtues or abilities do you need the most in your life?

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4. How do Paul's petitions for the believers in Colossae compare to the kinds of prayers you tend to offer for others?

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5. What truths about God and his gifts does Paul mention as the foundation for his requests?

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6. Paul's prayers were Christ-focused and God-centered. How does a deep knowledge of God enhance a Christian's prayer life?

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INSPIRATION

The key to knowing God's heart is having a relationship with him. A personal relationship. God will speak to you differently than he will speak to others. Just because God spoke to Moses through a burning bush, that doesn't mean we should all sit next to a bush waiting for God to speak. God used a fish to convict Jonah. Does that mean we should have worship services at Sea World? No. God reveals his heart personally to each person.

For that reason, your walk with God is essential. His heart is not seen in an occasional chat or weekly visit. We learn his will as we take up residence in his house every single day.

If you were to take a name at random out of the phone book and ask me, "Max, how does Chester Whomever feel about adultery?" I couldn't answer. I don't know Chester Whomever. But if you were to ask me, "Max, how does Denalyn Lucado feel about adultery?" I wouldn't even have to call her. I know. She's my wife. We have walked together long enough that I know what she thinks.

The same is true with God. Walk with him long enough and you come to know his heart. When you spend time with him in his study, you see his passion. Welcome him to enter the gateway of your soul and you'll perceive his will. (From The Great House of God by Max Lucado.)

REACTION

7. Would you characterize your prayer life as a continual conversation with God or an occasional chat? Why?

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8. Why do you think believers tend to offer up "safe" prayers (such as praying for a family member's neighbor who is ill) rather than "personal" prayers (such as for their own struggles with pride and envy)? How can you avoid only praying "safe" prayers?

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9. What advice would you give a new Christian who is trying to establish a healthy prayer life?

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10. What percentage of your prayers is focused on your own needs and desires versus the needs of others?

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11. How has having a deep and personal relationship with Christ affected the way you pray?

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12. What are two changes you still want to make in your own prayer life?

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LIFE LESSONS

Someone once said, "I don't understand much about the great mystery of prayer. I just know this: When I pray, God does amazing things; and when I don't pray, not much happens." Although it's hard to fathom, the Lord has ordained our prayers to play a key role in building of his kingdom! So, what are the basic New Testament guidelines for effective praying? Praying unselfishly and with a pure heart (see James 4:3). Praying relentlessly (see 1 Thessalonians 5:17). Praying and believing that God will work (see Mark 11:24). Praying according to God's will (see John 15:7). And most of all, praying with a heart that is surrendered to God's ultimate purposes (see Luke 22:42).

DEVOTION

God, fill us with the knowledge of your will. Grant us spiritual wisdom and insight so that we might live the kind of lives that please you. Make us fruitful and help us to know you more and more as we live in your infinite strength.

JOURNALING

How would you put Paul's prayer in Colossians 1:9-14 in your own words and personalize it to your life and those in your family?

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FOR FURTHER READING

To complete the books of Colossians and Philemon during this twelvepart study, read Colossians 1:9-14. For more Bible passages on prayer, read Psalm 66:18; Mark 1:35; Philippians 4:6- 7; James 1:6; 5:16; and 1 John 3:22.

CHAPTER 3

THE SUPREMACY OF CHRIST

For by [Christ] all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him.

COLOSSIANS 1:16 NKJV

REFLECTION

History is filled with interesting and remarkable characters. Imagine throwing a dinner party and getting to invite any eight people, living or dead, great or obscure. Who would be on your guest list? Why would you choose to invite those individuals?

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SITUATION

Now that Paul has informed the Colossian believers of his prayers from them, he can move into the main subject of his letter: countering the false religious notions and beliefs that have surfaced in the congregation. To do this, he begins by reciting what might have been a hymn in the church (see verses 15-20) that stresses Jesus' supremacy over creation. As God in the flesh, Paul writes, Jesus created and sustains the universe. He is all the Colossian believers will ever need — and he is far superior to any other powers the false teachers have introduced to them.

OBSERVATION

Read Colossians 1:15-23 from the New International Version or the New King James Version.

New International Version

15 The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. 19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

21 Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. 22 But now he has reconciled you by Christ's physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation — 23 if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.

New King James Version

15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. 17 And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. 18 And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.

19 For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, 20 and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross.

(Continues…)


Excerpted from "Life Lessons from Colossians & Philemon"
by .
Copyright © 2018 Max Lucado.
Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

How to Study the Bible v

Introduction to the Book of Colossians and Philemon ix

Lesson 1 Faith, Hope, and Love (Colossians 1:1-8) 1

Lesson 2 Praying with Power (Colossians 1:9-14) 9

Lesson 3 The Supremacy of Christ (Colossians 1:15-23) 17

Lesson 4 Serving Christ (Colossians 1:24-29) 25

Lesson 5 Walking with Christ (Colossians 2:1-10) 33

Lesson 6 Foolish Philosophies (Colossians 2:11-23) 43

Lesson 7 Living Differently (Colossians 3:1-17) 53

Lesson 8 Home, Sweet Home (Colossians 3:18-21) 63

Lesson 9 What About Work? (Colossians 3:22-4:1) 71

Lesson 10 A Mouth That Makes a Difference (Colossians 4:2-6) 79

Lesson 11 Companions on the Journey (Colossians 4:7-18) 87

Lesson 12 The Miracle of Forgiveness (Philemon 1:1-21) 97

Leader's Guide for Small Groups 107

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