Friday, December 14, 2012

December 14, 2012 … Love Letters

Chronological Bible Reading Plan - Day 349

Passage of the Day: Reference of Today’s Chronological Bible Study: Colossians, Chapters 1-4 To study these chapters, go to this link -
 Passage of the Day: Reference of Today’s Chronological Bible Study: Philemon, only one chapter ... To study this chapter, go to this link -

Highlight Passages: Colossians 1 : [NLT] … {Paul writes this letter during his imprisonment in Rome, about 60 AD, to the church at Colosse, a city in Asia Minor, where the body of believers there was being infiltrated with false teachings, philosophies similar to those now labeled as “Gnosticism,” which taught that special knowledge was necessary for salvation. Paul was trying to help the Christians in Colosse and Laodacea to see that Christ is the ONLY answer in/for life; and Jesus was and is God, eternal and sovereign over all.}

Highlight Passages: Colossians 2: 6-10; 20-21 : [NLT] … {Paul wanted Christians to see that belief in Christ, as LORD and Savior, and living in obedience to His teachings, was all the knowledge or belief systems needed for life. Paul was espousing a “Christ is all there is” philosophy of living, … i.e, that Jesus, as Lord in our lives, is all we need in life as the key to eternal life and the answer for now living as well. Paul was teaching that we don’t need man-made religious thoughts to guide our lives. All we need is Christ, as “the way, the truth, and the life.”},,, 

6 And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to live in obedience to him. 7 Let your roots grow down into him and draw up nourishment from Him, so you will grow in faith, strong and vigorous in the truth you were taught. Let your lives overflow with thanksgiving for all He has done. 8 Don’t let anyone lead you astray with empty philosophy and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the evil powers of this world, and not from Christ. 9 For in Christ the fullness of God lives in a human body, 10 and you are complete through your union with Christ. He is the Lord over every ruler and authority in the universe. … 
20 You have died with Christ, and he has set you free from the evil powers of this world. So why do you keep on following rules of the world, such as, 21 “Don’t handle, don’t eat, don’t touch.”  

Highlight Passages: Colossians 3: 11: 16-17 : [NLT] … {Simple premise for living as Christians … “Christian living is Christ living in us,” … no more no less. Do you remember what Paul wrote to the Romans in Rom. 12: 1-2. Well, if we Christians live as “living sacrifices” to our Lord in this world, pursuing the holiness of Christ, we will reject the world and live in obedience to Christ, proving (to others) “… what is that good and perfect will of God.” } ...   
11 In this new life, it doesn’t matter if you are a Jew or a Gentile, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbaric, uncivilized, slave, or free. Christ is all that matters, and He lives in all of us. … 16 Let the words of Christ, in all their richness, live in your hearts and make you wise. Use his words to teach and counsel each other. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. 17 And whatever you do or say, let it be as a representative of the Lord Jesus, all the while giving thanks through him to God the Father. 

Highlight Passages: Colossians 4 : [NLT] … {In Chapter 4 Paul personalizes this letter to peoples in Asia Minor he had never met by introducing them to ones bringing the letter as well as noting that he was writing the letter out of love for those in Colosse and signing it in his own hand. This was Paul being as personal as he could be about the truth of Christ and the good news.}

Highlight Passages: Philemon [yes, the whole book ;>)] : [NLT] … {Philemon is a short, powerful, and very personal letter to one Christian – but really to all of us as Christians, written about the same time as Paul’s letters to Ephesus and Colosse from his imprisonment in Rome. It’s addressed to Philemon, who was likely a wealthy and prominent Christian leader in the Colossian church; and Paul is writing Philemon to receive, forgive, and accept a slave of Philemon’s, who had escaped and come to Rome, where Paul had led this slave, Onesimus, to belief in Christ. And Paul is pleading with Philemon to accept, with the grace of Christ, the life of this new brother-believer, Onesimus. This little book is a powerful proclamation of God’s grace and a plea for God’s love and forgiveness being offered freely from the hearts of all Christians. I hope you take the time to read or reread this powerful little love-letter.} 

Reference Passages: Galatians 2: 20 and Romans 12: 1-2 : [NLT] … {In Christ we died to self and now live in Him. I’ll leave it to you to search out this truth in these two passages.}

My Journal for Today: Wow! The editor of the chronological Bible reading program for this year is now obviously coming down the back stretch – in this last month of the year – plowing through the Pauline Epistles – very quickly! And today we’re studying two of them, the letters to the Colossians and the one to Philemon, … two very powerful and practical teachings on Christian living which also were written to combat some false teachings, which we now call “Gnosticism,” false teaching which was getting its roots when Paul was writing these letters.

And really the bottom-line lesson Paul was trying to get across in his letter to Colosse (and also the church in Laodicea) is that CHRIST IS THE ANSWER (no more, no less!!). Some false teachers were trying to get the body of believers in this area of Asia Minor to believe there was more – in the way of special knowledge – which Christians needed in order to make them fully completed in their Christian thinking and living. To me it’s very much like those today are teaching that one must have something special, like speaking in tongues, or a special/separate baptism of the Spirit, or a “word of faith” which sets a “christian” (note I use a small “c”) apart in some special way.

But Paul was doing all he could in these two Pauline LOVE LETTERS to get the Colossian Christians (and now all of us) to recognize that ALL WE NEED IS CHRIST and all we need for Christian living is to express – by our living – CHRIST LIVING IN US. For Philemon, in Paul’s very personal letter to one Christian, Paul wanted this brother in Christ to forgive another brother, Onesimus, who had been a slave to Philemon and had become a slave to Christ. This little love-letter to Philemon is a plea for all Christians to live in Christ’s grace and let it permeate our being as Christians; and the entire love-letter to the Colossian Christians carried the same powerful lesson that, as I stated above, ”CHRISTIAN LIVING IS CHRIST LIVING IN/THROUGH US!”

And as Lily Tomlin used to say with a pronounced lisp, from her high chair as she was little “Edith Ann” on Laugh-In, … “And that’s the truth!” 

My Prayer Today: … Lord, help me to put on Your Robes of Righteous each day and let others see You in me and not me in me. Amen

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