Now that you've been warned that you may be wandering in circles in the forest if you try to follow along with me, onto a description of the content. I recently started receiving Bible Study Magazine. Each issue (well, the two I've received so far) has an 8-week Bible study plan in it. I'm going to give this issue's study plan a try and I figured I would share the journey via some blog posts, maybe some Twitter and FB updates. With this being the second day, I'm already seeing I could spend a whole lot more time on each topic, but I'll try to keep the pace BSM has established.
This particular study plan is titled "Being Like Jesus" and is a study in Colossians. The first week is on Why We Pray. The first step is to read the entire book of Colossians in one sitting. But there is more. It should be read out loud (that is how it was originally meant to be communicated). I did that last night after giving my wife fair warning that I had not lost my mind (after all, how many times do you hear anyone read more than a couple sentences of anything out loud).
On this second night, the first item to address is Colossians 4:2:
Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.
I did compare this text from the ESV with some other translations. A frequent translation for "continue steadfastly" seems to be "devote". Watchful tends to be the same although I found a translation that uses "alert mind". Thanksgiving is kind of all over the place - thankful, thankful heart, thanks.
BSM indicates the ideas of thankfulness and watchfulness are key concepts. So the first stop is to do a little more research into the idea of "thankfulness". I did a search of the NT on thankfulness (which also returned hits on "thanks") which yielded 56 results in 53 verses. A few common threads seemed to emerge:
- Thanks was used during the miracle of the loaves and fishes;
- Thanks was used during the institution of the Lord's Supper;
- Throughout the NT it was frequently used to express thanks to God;
- It was also used when urging believers to give thanks for each other;
- Many passages use wording similar to Colossians 4:2 in that thanks are given as part of prayer and that prayer should be an "always" activity.
A coupld passages did stand out to me. First was Romans 1:21 -
For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.
Here Paul was describing unbelievers and I noted that they failed to do two things - honor God and give thanks. Combined with their foolishness, they are headed down a dark path.
The other passage was 1 Corinthians 14:17 -
For you may be giving thanks well enough, but the other person is not being built up.
I found this interesting in that one of the results of giving thanks should be to build up others. To me, this starts to touch on the ideas of mission and the Great Commission - part of our duty to call others.
With all of these passages, I noted that Philippians 4 did not pop up and BSM had specifically mentioned this as a chapter to consider. Looking at it, I decided to do an additional search on the word "thanksgiving". This yielded 13 results. Of these, once again two passages seemed particularly noteworthy. First up is 2 Corinthians 4:15 -
For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.
Here we see that an increase in thanksgiving is connected to the glory of God. That probably struck me after studying the doctrine of Soli Deo gloria last year. The other passage is Philippians 4:6 -
do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
This passage describes how our prayers are to be done with thanksgiving, echoing the same idea found in Colossians 4:2.
And that is where I will leave things at the end of this night. If all goes well, I suppose I will have another entry tomorrow night that continues this study. If you made it this far, thanks for reading!