F1RST #6 - Overflowing Gratitude

READ – Colossians 2:6-7 (see also, Colossians 1:3, 11-14; 3:15-17; 4:2)

We’re in a series called F1RST on Paul’s letter to the Colossians. The key verse is Colossians 1:18 “that in everything He might be preeminent,” that is, that Jesus might have first place in all things.  Jesus brought a new arithmetic into existence: Jesus + Everything = Nothing; Jesus + Nothing = Everything. That’s the large theme of this little letter.

But there are several smaller themes woven into Colossians. Two stand out as you read the letter in its entirety: fullness and gratitude. Those two themes come together in one phrase that Paul uses in Colossians 2:7 – “overflowing with gratitude.” It’s what Paul believes is a sure sign of true Christianity. If you get the gospel, your life will overflow with gratitude. So this week we’re zooming in on the concept of gratitude and thankfulness.

1. THE POWER OF GRATITUDE

First we should recognize the magnitude of gratitude for our lives. Thankfulness is not just a matter of being polite, as if saying “Thank you” a lot is what’s at stake. Instead, gratitude is powerful. It has the ability to transform every aspect of our lives. In Colossians, gratitude is interrelated to prayer and our relationships to others (1:3); it’s connected to joy (1:12); it works in reducing conflict in relationships (3:15); it helps God’s Word move from the conceptual to the experiential (3:16); it’s linked to how the presence and power of Jesus becomes a part of our everyday, ordinary experience (3:17); and gratitude is how we develop a healthy, consistent prayer life (4:2). A number of recent psychological studies help confirm Paul’s point about gratitude. Thankfulness can help reduce stress, give better sleep, help us work through our past, and lead to improved relationships, work environments, and productivity.

Why? Why is gratitude so powerful? The Bible suggests that gratitude is powerful because it gives a big clue to two basic, fundamental truths about life. First, we were made to live with overflowing gratitude – thankfulness was to be our default setting; an essential part of what it meant to be fully alive. Second, gratitude points to the transcendent – to a Giver of the gifts that we often can’t help but be thankful for. In our greatest moments of wonder and accomplishment we can’t stop overflowing with gratitude.

2. THE DIFFICULTY OF GRATITUDE

If gratitude was supposed to come naturally and rises up in us (sometimes) instinctually – why is it often so difficult? We have moments of gratitude, but are often overflowing with discontent, anxiety, and irritability. You can see the difficulty of gratitude in the modern cultural phenomenon of Black Friday encroaching on America’s national holiday for gratitude – Thanksgiving. Paul explains this tension between the power of gratitude and its difficulty in another letter in the New Testament, Romans. In Romans 1:18-21. Essentially, Paul argues that there are two voices inside of us. One voice instinctively recognizes the gift of a Giver and wants to say “thank you.” But another voice wants to suppress the reality of the Giver. Why would we want to suppress the Giver? Because if everything that we have and are is a gift than we aren’t entitled to any of it. Further, if it’s all a gift than we can’t earn anything. That spells the end of our ego and sense of personal pride.

Gratitude is so difficult because our entitlement and ego stand in the way. Thankfulness is a call to let go all our entitlement and ego and reflect on all God has done for us – not all He owes us.

3. THE OVERFLOW OF GRATITUDE

So why can’t we just end it there and encourage ourselves to have an “attitude of gratitude” this week? Gratitude is clearly powerful and has the ability to affect our lives for good. Paul says that our lives won’t just be touched by gratitude, but that it will overflow in our lives. The truth is that we won’t overflow with gratitude if all we’re after is the benefits and blessings for ourselves. We will only overflow with gratitude when our gratitude takes us beyond ourselves and beyond the gifts to the value and love of the Giver of the gifts.

In Colossians, the center of gratitude is a relationship. Paul’s emphasis is on giving thanks to, not giving thanks for.  Gifts are meant to build and strengthen a relationship not function as replacements. Often our lives are marked either by an overvaluing of God’s gifts (idolatry) or an undervaluing of His gifts (discontent). Scripture invites us to see that every gift we receive reveals something about God, His love, care, and character. We’re called to enjoy the gifts and receive them, but more importantly savor the Giver.

Gratitude as a command doesn’t really work. Gratitude hits us when we see how much it cost the Giver, how much I don’t deserve the gift, and how I could never earn it. We need to be moved and melted by overflowing generosity and grace in order to be truly grateful. The gospel is the power that melts us. The gospel exposes the depths of our entitlement and ego, and yet provides the gift all the same. The gospel says you deserve nothing, and you’re entitled to nothing, and Jesus who was entitled to everything let go of everything so that you could gain all you will ever need and more. The gospel says we can earn nothing. All our efforts and morality doesn’t earn an ounce of God’s love and acceptance, but because of Jesus we receive all the love and approval our hearts long for. Jesus has earned what you could never earn yourself, what you weren’t entitled to, and He gives it as a free, unconditional gift. That’s overflowing grace that will lead a life of overflowing gratitude.

QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION

1.    What about the sermon most impacted you or left you with questions?

2.    Besides the gospel J what’s the best gift you’ve ever been given? How did it make you feel?

3.    Have you experience the power of gratitude in your life? Give an example.      

4.    How do you think we can intentionally practice gratitude in our life?  

5.    Entitlement and our ego make gratitude difficult. What are the ways you have been suppressing the Giver in your heart and life this week? What might change look like?  

6.    As parents know, commanding thankfulness won’t work. What’s the answer then to how to cultivate a life that overflows with gratitude?

7.    What’s one thing you are thankful for right now? Share with the group. Thank God for the gift.

 

F1RST #5 - Life in Christ

READ – Colossians 2:6-7

We’re in a series called F1RST on Paul’s letter to the Colossians. The key verse is Colossians 1:18 “that in everything He might be preeminent,” that is, that Jesus might have first place in all things.  This week we’re looking at what many scholars think is the heart of Colossians. In two short verses, Paul compacts his entire message. His basic point is that Jesus is enough for beginning as a Christian and Jesus is enough for continuing as a Christian. The way we come to know Jesus is the way we grow in Jesus. That’s counter-intuitive for us and it was for Paul’s audience as well. It’s the hardest thing to grasp for those who are exploring Christianity – and for those who are well-trained in Christianity.

1. LEARNING TO RECEIVE

The first command or imperative in Colossians comes in 2:6. What is it? Receive. The first command is an anti-command command. And it’s this anti-command that actually enables all other obedience to Jesus. How so? Think about the logic of our lives: everything we do is based on achieving. We are hardwired to believe that first you achieve, then you receive. But the gospel logic of Christianity is reversed. Receiving comes first. You receive not just a principle or information, but a person – Christ Jesus as Lord. You receive all of who He is and what He’s done for you. In essence, you receive all He has achieved. Christianity isn’t an achieving faith, but a receiving faith. It’s not based on your performance or mine, but on Jesus’.

So how do we begin Christianity? We receive with empty hands. How do we continue? We receive with empty hands. Why? Because in Jesus there is an endless fullness for all our emptiness. Why is learning to receive so hard for achievers? It’s because we desire to be in control. We think we are Lord, not Jesus. But receiving Jesus means He is Lord, not us. What is something that I’m holding onto, that I feel I need to control; something I won’t let go of? Jesus invites us to open our hands and receive. What He gives is always better than what we’re holding onto.

2. LOOKING TO THE ROOTS

Paul goes on to say, “continue to live in him being rooted and built up in him.” Paul uses two metaphors, one botanical and the other architectural to describe the Christian life. What do his metaphors mean?

Paul invites us to look to our roots. Too often we focus on changing the external rather than the internal. But good fruit comes from healthy roots. That’s really counter-intuitive for us. We tend to look first at fruit – our look, appearance, behaviors, outward success, image. But the gospel logic of Christianity is: we look to the roots first that changes the fruit.

So what does it mean to look at the roots? Paul is talking about core beliefs. Roots are whatever or whoever our trust or confidence is in. Who or what I’m trusting is where I’m sending my roots. So how do we know where we are rooted? The Bible suggests that what we really believe will show up in our behavior, reactions, and emotions. The language of roots is found multiple places in the Bible, but one poignant text is Jeremiah 17. Here the prophet invites people to consider their fears and worries. Check the places where you are fearful and anxious – usually you can follow those feelings to your functional roots.

Here’s a few diagnostic questions that might help you get to your roots in times of fear and worry: (1) What am I believing about myself? (2) What am I believing about what God is doing and has done, (3) What am I believing about who Jesus is, (4) What am I believing about what Jesus is doing and has done, (5) What am I believing about who I am in Jesus?

Ultimately, we need to be rooted in Jesus. Apart from Him, Jesus claimed, we can do nothing. But if we are rooted in Him we will bear fruit (John 15).

3. LETTING MY LIFE BE REBUILT

If Christianity is all about receiving and staying rooted in what Jesus has done, what about our own growth? Is it optional? Can we live however we want? Paul’s botanical and architectural metaphor go together here – we grow deep so we can be built up. Theologians describe this as “union with Christ.” It’s the beautiful vital reality that you are in Christ and Christ is in you. You are complete in Him and He is completing you. The goal of Christianity is not behavior management, but being in union with Jesus and built into who you were made to be. The essence is: the more we learn to receive, the stronger and deeper we are rooted in our identity in Christ, and thus the more we will be built by Jesus into something new. It relieves the pressure of us having to build our lives, career, marriage, family. Christianity offers a God who builds you. God does the building, not you. That’s encouraging and desirable because what Jesus is building with us isn’t what we would build with our lives. His blueprints are far better and greater than what we could dream or imagine.

Anyone who knows what it’s like to build a building or remodel an existing structure knows the uncomfortable implication is this: things are going to get worse before they get better.  We naturally think we need renovation in the ‘bad’ parts of our hearts and lives. But Jesus is getting at the roots. He wants to rebuild not just the ‘bad’ parts of you but more importantly the parts you think are ‘good.’ Your goodness needs to be demolished. Your moral efforts and religiosity need to be bulldozed and you need a life build on the reality of Christ Jesus as Lord. It’s never a minor fix, but a full renovation. And the good news is that Jesus always finishes what He starts.

QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION

1.    What about the sermon most impacted you or left you with questions?

2.    Christianity is a receiving faith, not an achieving faith. Explain. Is this how you have understood Christianity in the past? How might believing and resting in the gospel logic of receiving re-shape your view of life, family, work, God?     

3.    A big part of the Christian life is letting Jesus be Lord, not us. What might you let go of this week knowing the reality of “Christ Jesus as Lord?” What would be hard? What would be freeing?

4.    What’s a place in your life where you are fearful or anxious? Are you willing to share with the group? Try walking yourself through the five diagnostic questions to get at your functional roots. What do you see?

5.    Does it bother you that Jesus wants to demolish not just the ‘bad’ parts of who you are, but the ‘good’ things as well? What does that mean? How can we be repenters not just of sin, but our moral striving to look good? How does the gospel logic of Jesus’ blueprint for our being built up encourage us?  

F1RST #4 - Filling Up

READ – Colossians 1:23-2:5 

We’re in a series called F1RST on Paul’s letter to the Colossians. Paul is writing to a group of Christians who are new to Christianity and asking the questions – “Is faith just one part of my life? Am I missing something? Is Jesus enough?” Paul is writing to say that Jesus is sufficient; He’s enough. That’s indicated by Paul’s frequent use of the language of “fullness.” It’s part of the overall message of Colossians:  wherever Jesus is truly first, life is truly full.  

But there’s a problem. The regular experience of most Christians and many who aren’t Christians is that life can be very fully with activity, work, recreation, leisure, family, but at the same time feel very empty. Most of us still struggle with a sense that something is missing, a nagging sense of incompleteness. Paul gets at this feeling many of us share by sharing his philosophy of ministry and service. Paul fill us in on the way he thought people, churches, and the world gets filled with Jesus.

1. HOW PAUL FILLED OTHERS

Paul filled others as a servant through gospel embodiment and gospel expression. First, Paul filled others as a “servant.” Some translations say “minister,” but that translation might give the wrong impression that Paul is only speaking about vocational ministry or clergy. Instead he uses the Greek word diakonos which wasn’t a title of respect or honor but signified a table waiter. That’s important because in Luke 22 at Jesus’ final meal with His followers, He described Himself and His ministry as one of table service. Paul didn’t consider himself someone who sat at the table to be served, but rather to serve as a waiter the ones at the table.

Next Paul makes a startling claim about gospel embodiment: he says in Colossians 1:24 that he is filling up what is lacking in Jesus’s affliction! What does he mean? It’s a complex idea to be sure. It certainly can’t mean that Paul is adding to the sufficiency of Christ’s once-for-all atoning death on the cross. The language Paul uses doesn’t allow for that idea – nor does it fit with what Paul and the New Testament says elsewhere. Paul is saying that what is lacking in Christ’s affliction is Jesus’ bodily presence. It’s a bold claim – that mysteriously Paul’s physical suffering as a member of Christ’s body (the church) represents Christ’s continuing suffering for the world through His followers. Paul is showing them through his life what he’s telling them about Jesus through his words. Paul is saying, “I’m willing to be afflicted if it means comfort for you; I’ll toil so you can rest; I’ll be poor so you can be rich; I’ll even die, if it means you know the life-giving news of the gospel.”

Paul filled others with gospel expression. In vv. 25-26, Paul unpacks this with language about making the word of God fully known and the mystery revealed now. Paul isn’t talking about a secret knowledge – something esoteric or for advanced philosophers. He’s saying, in part, that the mystery is about how what you already know about Jesus is enough. In other words, Christians don’t move beyond the gospel, but deeper into it. There’s no philosophy or program beyond the gospel, but a person who are coming to know better. That means that the gospel is something we continually need to be told. We need to hear it from others, speak it to others, and argue it into our hearts. 

2. HOW WE FILL OTHERS

We fill others as servants through gospel embodiment and gospel expression. Same as Paul. Our identity in Jesus means we aren’t the ones reclining at table, waiting for others to fill us. We are the ones serving at table. We are to be the ones looking for who needs filling. How do we do that?

Filling others involves gospel embodiment – being the hands, feet, eyes of Jesus in the world. It involves being present. Part of Paul’s hardship is that he can’t meet face-to-face with the Colossians (2:1). Filling others happens best when we are bodily present with them. This is countercultural for us because most of our relationships happen through disembodied communication – telephone, text, email, social media. These things aren’t wrong. They’re just secondary to embodied presence. Filling others also entails embodying affliction, toil, and struggle that doesn't advantage us, but someone else. It’s relatively easy to be hard-working and sacrificial when we know the payoff is around the corner. But what about when we know that our work won’t reap any rewards directly for us?

We also fill others with gospel expression. The ministry of teaching and admonishing doesn’t just belong to pastors, but to all of us, Paul is saying. We need to involve ourselves in deeply committed relationships and friendships that are call-and-response. Friendships where we show and tell each other the good news of the gospel. We need our relationships to reflect a priority that asks, “How can I fill you as a servant?” Can you imagine the difference that would make?

3. HOW WE GET FILLED

Paul’s philosophy of service is good and all – but what do we do with the nagging sense that we are often running on empty (emotionally, relationally, physically). How do we get filled? Paul says there’s three things we need when we are empty and need filling. First, we need encouraged hearts (2:2). That implies that we can recognize when our hearts are discouraged and empty – we need to be able to communicate to God, ourselves, and others that we’re missing something. Second, we need a tight knit community (2:2). Inner emptiness often causes people to isolate themselves and distance themselves from others. Paul isn’t being insensitive to introverts – he’s merely stating the truth that we are social beings and need one another. When you’re empty you need to share with others, let them fill you with their caring presence and gospel truth. Third, we need to reach full assurance of God’s mystery which is Christ. What do we reach for when we are empty? Usually it’s either our performance or pleasure.  The gospel is that assurance will come not when we reach for performance or pleasure, but a Person – Jesus. Being filled only comes through a connection to Jesus who always have enough fullness to meet our emptiness. You don’t need something different. You just need more of what is already yours in Christ. 

QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION

1.    What about the sermon most impacted you or left you with questions?

2.    Describe a recent experience where you felt empty or a sense of incompleteness. Can you relate to the Colossians’ feeling that maybe Jesus isn’t enough? In what ways?    

3.    In your own words, explain “gospel embodiment” and “gospel expression.” Of the two, which do you lean toward or feel strongest in? Why? Discuss.   

4.    What is an area of your work or family life that might change if you practiced Paul’s philosophy of ministry this week?  

5.    Gospel expression – speaking the truth of the gospel to others. Let’s put aside our ordinary thinking on “sharing the gospel with neighbors” for a moment and think about our homes and friendships. How often are we speaking the gospel to those closest to us? What does that even look like? Are there practices that might help facilitate gospel expression?

6.    How do you react to inner emptiness? Do you feel discouraged? Isolate? Reach for performance or pleasure? How could you confess and repent this week? What would turning towards Jesus be like?

7.    As a group, share with each other one place where God might be calling you to fill up someone else. Pray as a group over these relationships.

F1RST #3 - Jesus - the Beginning, the End and Now

READ – COLOSSIANS 1:15-23

We’re in a series called F1RST on Paul’s letter to the Colossians. The gospel is that Jesus is the resurrected and reigning King of the World – the implication being He’s to have first place in everything (Colossians 1:18). This week were focused on what appears to be a kind of poem or song Paul wrote or adapted to showcase the grandeur of Jesus.

Paul’s main idea here is that Jesus is the first thing that puts all second things in their proper place.

1. JESUS AND THE BEGINNING

Why should Jesus have first place in all things? Paul essentially says that Jesus is first because He is the answer to the questions: 1) Is there a God (and if so, what is He like); 2) What does it mean to be fully human? The answer to the first question helps answer the second. If there is a Creator – it’s likely that His intention and purpose in creation would help answer the question as the purpose and meaning of humanity. The problem with these questions is that most of the time they seem invisible or hidden. Perhaps some might even say the answers or unknowable. But Paul in Colossians 1:15 says there is a visible answer: Jesus. Paul’s audacious claim is that Jesus is actually the answer to both of the two biggest questions of life – Jesus is both fully God and fully human.

That’s a radically humbling and freeing truth. It’s humbling because Jesus is first, not me. Fulfillment won’t come when we live by, through, or for ourselves. Jesus is first. It’s also freeing. Jesus is saying to us, “I made you and hold you together every second.” So you don’t need to be the center of the universe and hold your life together – Jesus is the center and holds all things together.

2. JESUS AND THE END

Jesus is both the end of the story and the end goal of all things. Jesus’ story begins before time and involves Him being the Maker of all things (“firstborn” doesn’t mean Jesus was the first created being – it’s a title that indicates preeminence and rank) and ends with a full reconciliation of all things in a new creation. That’s deeply important to hold onto. Jesus’ mission wasn’t extraction, but invasion with the end goal being restoration.

Jesus also shows us what the end of life is – what the purpose of our life is all about. When Jesus comes into our life – He takes first place in your life, in everything. That means Jesus comes first in our relationships, friendships, marriage, politics, finances, sexuality, work, leisure. As Jesus takes first place we become more fully human – more of who we were created to be because now our Creator (Jesus) is the end/purpose of our lives.

3. JESUS AND NOW

Jesus is the beginning and the end. He created all things and reconciles all things. But we don’t yet see a world that’s fully reconciled. Why? Paul says we don’t see all things fully aligned to the Creator’s good purpose and goals because of our alienation and hostility. The world and our lives are out of sync not merely because we do bad things – but because we are separated and estranged from our Creator. We are alienated – on the outside of something we were meant to experience. But we’re also “hostile in mind” – we reject the idea that Jesus is first in everything. The reality is that we will always be restless and unfulfilled and alienated until we see that Jesus offers and gives fullness. Our sense of alienation is an echo of our beginning and end – we were meant to be in a full relationship with God and our lives find their purpose in that relationship.

The good news is that Jesus ends our alienation and hostility. In his cross He has ended our estrangement from God. We were in God’s world and yet lived like we were Lord and Center of the universe. Jesus was first, but we live like we are. We deserve to be thrown out. But Jesus becomes our substitute. He who deserved to be first didn't take it by force – but won it through sacrificial love. God the Creator lets himself be thrown out and pushed out of the world on the cross. Jesus becomes the highest and first by becoming lowest and last. Jesus is treated like a hostile enemy so we could be treated like a beloved friend. What should be our response? Put this kind of God first. Make Jesus first in your life, because He is first in all things. 

QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION

1.    What about the sermon most impacted you or left you with questions?

2.    If there’s time, read through the entire letter to the Colossians as a group. Colossians 1:15-23 is really a kind of climax to the letter. Paul explores heights that are mind blowing. How do you think this passage makes sense of other portions of the letter – maybe particularly some of Paul’s commands in Colossians 3-4?  

3.    Jesus is the answer to two of life’s biggest questions – Is there a God? What does it mean to be human? Explain and discuss. What are common obstacles to people believing that Jesus answers those two questions?   

4.    What difference does it make in a person’s life or in sharing the gospel that Jesus is our Maker before He is our Rescuer?  

5.    Jesus’ mission is an invasion – not an extraction. What are implications of Jesus’ plan to restore all things to your life, to your work, to the church?  

6.    Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection brought reconciliation to all things. But our lives and this world is often far from reconciliation. How do you account for that? What’s the remedy?

F1RST #2 - A Prayer for Life to the Fullest in Jesus

READ – Colossians 1:9-14 

We’re in a series called F1RST on Paul’s letter to the Colossians. The gospel is that Jesus is the resurrected and reigning King of the World – the implication being He’s to have first place in everything (Colossians 1:18). This week were focused on Paul’s opening prayer at the beginning of the letter – a prayer for life to the fullest in Jesus.

Paul’s main idea here is that to live a full life, we don't need a supplement to Jesus. Instead, when Jesus is truly first, life is truly full. Paul shows us what life to the fullest is and how it works.  

1. THE SIGNS OF LIFE TO THE FULLEST

What does life to the fullest look like? Paul says there are signs. A full life is fruitful and growing. The idea is that when the gospel fills a person or a community you will know it because it will bear fruit and grow. Paul’s language is drawn from agricultural. What’s the takeaway from the botanical language? The gospel’s power to bear fruit in a person or community’s life is both a comfort and a challenge. It’s a comfort because fruit-bearing is both gradual and organic. It’s slow and takes time, but is also real and natural. It’s a challenge because if our lives are not bearing fruit, we must ask ourselves “What is my life filled with?” Paul’s organic language here is also an echo of Genesis 1. God’s original purpose for humanity was that they live life to the fullest by bearing fruit and growing – not just in the sense of reproduction, but cultivating relationships and the world in a way that filled the earth with God’s glory. Paul is reminding us that the gospel is re-creating us into the kinds of people that God intended all along.  

2. THE STRENGTH FOR LIFE TO THE FULLEST

The reality is our lives often don’t feel full. Where do we turn when our lives are empty; when we’re not bearing fruit? Paul says that Christians are “being strengthened.” That critical. There’s a huge difference between being strong and being strengthened. Paul is praying for a strength that comes from outside of him and us. That’s one of the keys for a full life and something that makes Christianity unique. All other approaches to life say that it’s the strong who are full and the weak who are empty. The gospel says it is only through weakness – only through admitting and embracing weakness and looking for strength outside of ourselves that we find fullness. The gospel says strength is found in another – in God.

Where is God’s strength needed most in your life? Paul is praying for endurance and patience. Typically, we need endurance for hard circumstances and patience for handling hard people. Why? Because hard circumstances and hard relationships are when doubts arise in our hearts that maybe we’re not living a full life. But Paul’s logic is revolutionary. Fullness isn’t somewhere else; instead it’s right in the midst of tough times and tough people. Our default setting is to pray that God would take us out of hard circumstances and change hard people. Paul’s focus is to pray for our own hearts – that we would have endurance and patience through God’s strength.

3. THE SECRET OF LIFE TO THE FULLEST

How can your life show the signs of fullness? How are we strengthened for difficult situations and difficult people? Paul says it’s by giving thanks. That sound too simplistic, doesn't it? How does it work? The choice isn’t between giving thanks and not giving thanks. Rather, the choice is between thanksgiving and its opposite = coveting, complaining, criticizing, and comparing (4C’s). Those are habits of the heart that drain us and empty us of life. The 4C’s erode our ability to see what God is doing in our lives, the lives of others, and the world. In effect, what we’re saying is that Jesus is not enough – we’re entitled, we deserve more or better.

What do we give thanks for? Certainly we can give thanks for the blessings that God has chosen to give us – health, home, meaningful work, relationships. But Paul has something even more powerful in mind. At the heart of biblical thanksgiving is grace, a gift I receive that I don’t deserve – that I’m not entitled to. Grace is the reality that Jesus took what I deserve so that I can receive what He deserves. We can give thanks because even though I was once disqualified, Jesus has qualified me. Jesus was delivered to death, so I could be delivered and transferred into His kingdom. Jesus was a ransom for sin, so I could be redeemed out of slavery to sin. 

QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION

1.    What about the sermon most impacted you or left you with questions?

2.    If there’s time, read through the entire letter to the Colossians as a group. How often does Paul talk about “fullness” or being filled? Do any of those passages add depth or better understanding of this week’s sermon?  

3.    Why is Paul’s language of “bearing fruit and increasing/growing” both a comfort and a challenge? Where are some areas in your life where you’ve seen fruit? Where are some areas where you sense God’s call to bear fruit? Pray for that.  

4.    Christianity claims that it’s not the “strong” who can live life to the fullest, but the “weak.” How is that possible?  

5.    Where’s a situation or relationship where you need strength? How might the gospel be applied?

6.    Our hearts are prone toward entitlement – we deserve more than what God in Christ has already done for us. What are some practices you have to draw your heart back to gratitude for the grace of Jesus that we don’t deserve?

7.    As a group, pray for the situations, relationships, needs of each other. Perhaps you can include language from Paul’s prayer into your own – asking God to show and strengthen us with the fullness of Jesus.