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Membership in a church is different from membership in a health club. But they are similar in one way: people go to them because they want to make some changes in their life. Health clubs use treadmills, weights, universal machines, and so forth. What are the tools are available to help people develop as Christians? Pastor Luke teaches from Colossians 3:1–17 in “Fitness,” part 4 of his 6-part series “Signs of Life.”
Talk It Over
Getting Started. What’s your favorite article of clothing? How long have you had it? When will you need to get rid of it?
Explore the Passage. Read Colossians 3: 1-17.
1. Christians talk about having “eternal life” or being “born again” (John 3: 3, 36). According to Colossians 3: 3, why can it sometimes be difficult to see that kind of life in Christians?
2. For each of the “earthly things” listed in verses 5 and 8, what would be the corresponding “higher” godly alternative?
3. Some may object that Christlikeness, or the “renewed” self, is only meant for spiritual giants, not ordinary believers. How does verse 11 answer that objection? (You may consult a study Bible to learn more about the significance of each category of people.)
4. Sometimes people excuse being unkind or hurtful because they were angry or exhausted. How does verse 12 address that defense?
5. Can you put on fancy clothes when you don’t feel like a party, or work clothes when you’re tired? How would a person “put on” some of the virtues listed in verses 12-13?
6. What is the word (or message) of Christ mentioned in verse 16? How does it dwell in a person? What does it mean to dwell “richly?”
7. When you think of Christian songs or hymns, what comes to mind? What is a song you know well enough to sing from memory? What are some songs where you know the tune but not all the words?
Apply the Lesson. On a letter grade scale (A-F), rate your own satisfaction with your practice of these spiritual disciplines: daily time with God in (a) Prayer and (b) Bible reading? (c) Small-group fellowship with other Christians as described in verses 12-17? (d) Tithing and generosity?
Which discipline did grade yourself highest in? Why? For the discipline you graded yourself the lowest, what is one concrete step you could take this week to improve your satisfaction? What kind of support would you need from the church?
Food for Thought
Monday. Read Matthew 6. Which of the key disciplines (time with God in prayer and reading Scripture), generosity, and small-group fellowship does Jesus discuss there? Read Ephesians 6: 10-17. What disciplines have counterparts in the whole armor of God?
Tuesday. Read Matthew 26: 40-41. How long does Jesus want his disciples to pray? Read Luke 18: 13. What made that prayer “long enough?” Considering how your day is structured, which would work better: a single long pray time, or many frequent short prayers?
Wednesday. Read Luke 24: 13-33. What, according to v. 24, made the disciples’ hearts burn within them? What would happen if you asked Jesus to open the Scriptures to you the same way? (Try it!)
Thursday. Read John 13: 31-35. What does Jesus say will distinguish his disciples from other people? How true is that for Christians today, in your estimation? What can you do personally to make it more true?
Friday. Read Philippians 4: 10-19. Why do the Philippians stand out in Paul’s memory? According to vv. 17, 19, why does that make Paul happy? Read 2 Corinthians 8: 1-7. What does Paul tell the wealthier Corinthians about the poorer Philippians’ generosity? What does he want them to do?
Saturday. Read 1 Corinthians 16: 1-2. What practical advice does Paul give to the Corinthians about generous giving? How would it apply now? How is like, and unlike, tithing in the Old Testament?