Immerse: Messiah – 8 Week Bible Reading Experience

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Read Through The New Testament in just 8 weeks with the NLT Bible and Immerse: Messiah
QUICK START GUIDE
3 ways to get the most out of your experience
  1. Use Immerse: Messiah instead of your regular chapter-and-verse Bible. This special reader’s edition restores the Bible to its natural simplicity and beauty by removing chapter and verse numbers and other historical additions. Letters look like letters, songs look like
    songs, and the original literary structures are visible in each book. 
  2. Commit to making this a community experience. Immerse is designed for groups to encounter large portions of the Bible together
    for 8 weeks—more like a book club, less like a Bible study. By meeting every week in small groups and discussing what you read in open, honest conversations, you and your community can come together to be transformed through an authentic experience with the Scriptures.
  3. Aim to understand the big story. Read through “The Stories and the Story” (p. 483) to see how the books of the Bible work together
    to tell God’s story of his creation’s restoration. As you read through Immerse: Messiah, rather than ask, “How do I fit God into my busy life?” begin asking, “How can I join in God’s great plan by living out my part in his story?”
4 Questions to get your conversations started:
  1. What stood out to you this week?
  2. Was there anything confusing or troubling?
  3. Did anything make you think differently about God?
  4. How might this change the way we live?
Part of NLT Immerse: The Reading Bible, Complete Set, the Winner of the 2022 Christian Book Award for Bible of the Year!
Messiah is the first of six volumes of Immerse: The Bible Reading Experience program. Messiah takes the reader on a new and unique journey through every book of the New Testament. Each part of Messiah begins with one of the Gospels, and together combine to provide the reader with enjoyable and impactful readings all centered on Jesus. The end result is a Bible developed for the purpose of being read and understood, not referred to. Messiah is a new way to interact with God’s Word.
Messiah delivers Scripture to the reader as it was originally created: without chapter or verse breaks. While references are made available for ease of finding specific Scripture references, those references do not appear within the actual text of Scripture. This makes for uninterrupted reading of God’s Word. Created with the look and feel of a paperback book, and written using the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, the most readable translation available, Messiah enables you to easily read and understand the Bible.

Currently featured in the Saddleback Church "Anchored Life Challenge." To join the challenge and read through the New Testament in 8 weeks, join at https://saddleback.com/anchored

What is Immerse: Messiah – 8 Week Bible Reading Experience?

Read (and listen!) through the New Testament in 8 weeks with your small group or on your own.

Immerse: Messiah is the first of six volumes in Immerse: The Bible Reading Experience. Messiah takes the reader on a unique journey through every book of the New Testament. Each section of Messiah begins with one of the Gospels, and together they combine to provide a life-changing reading experience centered on Jesus. This fresh arrangement of the books highlights the depth of the New Testament’s fourfold witness to Jesus the Messiah. The Son of God, who fulfills all the longings and promises of the collected Scriptures, can be experienced in Messiah through the rich variety of lenses provided by the books of the new covenant.

The Immerse Bible Series is the proud winner of the prestigious Bible of the Year award from the ECPA Christian Book Awards. Immerse: The Reading Bible is specially crafted for a distraction-free listening and reading experience, helping you dive in and get immersed in Scripture. You’ll have a great experience using Immerse by yourself. But for an even richer experience, try reading with friends.

Immerse: The Bible Reading Experience is an invitation to a different kind of community interaction with the Bible. Less like a Bible study, more like a book club.

- 8 or 16-week Bible listening plans take you through a large section of the Bible like the New Testament or the Torah
- Meet once a week for a free-flowing discussion about the text
- Wrestle with questions and celebrate ‘aha!’ moments together

Nothing impacts spiritual growth more than spending time in Scripture. Immerse removes many of the barriers that make Bible reading difficult and invites communities to become transformed together through the power of God’s word.

 Welcome to the saddleback church anchored life challenge which can also by found on the saddleback companion app or by purchasing the immerse messiah book from tyndale.

The anchored life challenge includes speakers such as Andy Wood, Rick Warren, and Stacie Wood. 
Immerse Messiah 17
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Intro Narrator: [00:00:00] Welcome to Immerse Messiah reading for week four, day 17.

Andy Wood: Immersed in Philemon

Andy Wood: The believers in the city of Colossae in modern day Turkey first heard about Jesus from a man named Epaphras. Sometime during the years that Paul was based in Ephesus, he sent his associate Epaphras to Colossae, about a hundred miles east, to share the good news there and in the nearby cities of Laodicea and Hierapolis.

Andy Wood: Many in Colossae became followers of Jesus. When they later learned that Paul was a prisoner, presumably in Rome, they sent Epaphras to help Paul on their behalf. He would make sure that Paul was being properly cared for in prison, bringing money and supplies from the church in Colossae. During this time, Paul wrote the letters we know as Colossians and Ephesians.[00:01:00]

Andy Wood: He sent Tychicus and Onesimus to deliver those letters to their recipients in the province of Asia. Paul gave them one more letter to deliver, addressed to a man named Philemon, a leader among the believers in Colossae. Paul calls him his brother and beloved co worker, noting that the believers gather to worship in his home.

Andy Wood: Philemon once had a slave who had betrayed his trust by running away, likely stealing money in the process. That slave was Onesimus, one of the men delivering Paul's letters. In this letter, Paul asks Philemon to forgive this slave, welcome him as a brother in Christ, and set him free. Onesimus is returning to Colossae as one of Paul's representatives.

Andy Wood: The runaway is about to see his owner again face to face. In his letter to Philemon, Paul explains that he has become a father in the faith to Onesimus. [00:02:00] Just as Epaphras was helping Paul on behalf of the Colossians. Paul wants to keep Onesimus with him on behalf of Philemon, but given their history, Paul knows that he can't presume anything.

Andy Wood: So he sends Onesimus back to Colossae with Tychicus to seek reconciliation with Philemon. Paul uses a variety of strategies to persuade Philemon. Community encouragement. Paul addresses the letter to the whole church there. Sympathy. He mentions five times that he's in prison. Authority, I could demand it, personal debt, you owe me your very soul, and most significantly, the creation of one new unified family in the Messiah.

Andy Wood: Even so, Paul is making a pretty audacious request. Philemon has the authority under Roman law to punish Onesimus severely. Runaway slaves were routinely killed by crucifixion. But Paul asks him to grant [00:03:00] Onesimus freedom and to welcome him as a man and as a brother in the Lord, effectively as an equal.

Andy Wood: Notice that Paul is mirroring what Christ has done for us. He is not merely encouraging reconciliation between Philemon and Onesimus, he is embodying that reconciliation himself. By putting himself between them and volunteering to pay any debt that Onesimus owes, Paul is doing exactly what he asks of Philemon, put into action the generosity that comes from your faith.

Andy Wood: The foundation for everything Paul writes in this short letter is the radical new unity made possible by Christ. The new world that has been born through the death and resurrection of the Messiah directly challenges the old way of life in the present evil age. In the Messiah's new family, love cuts across the old boundaries between people.

Andy Wood: Jew and Greek, slave and free, male and female, [00:04:00] we all are now one in Christ.

Intro Narrator: The Letter to Philemon. This letter is from Paul, a prisoner for preaching the good news about Christ Jesus, and from our brother Timothy. I am writing to Philemon, our beloved co worker, and to our sister Apphia, and to our fellow soldier Archippus, and to the church that meets in your house. May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace.

Intro Narrator: I always thank my God when I pray for you, Philemon, because I keep hearing about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all of God's people, and I am praying that you will put into action the generosity that comes from your faith. As you understand and experience all the good things we have in Christ.

Intro Narrator: Your love has given me much joy and comfort, [00:05:00] my brother, for your kindness has often refreshed the hearts of God's people. That is why I am boldly asking a favor of you. I could demand it in the name of Christ because it is the right thing for you to do, but because of our love, I prefer simply to ask you.

Intro Narrator: Consider this as a request from me, Paul, an old man and now also a prisoner for the sake of Christ Jesus. I appeal to you to show kindness to my child, Onesimus. I became his father in the faith while here in prison. Onesimus hasn't been of much use to you in the past, but now he is very useful to both of us.

Intro Narrator: I am sending him back to you, and with him comes my own heart. I wanted to keep him here with me while I am in these chains, for preaching the good news, and you would have helped me on your behalf. But I didn't want to do anything without your consent. I wanted you to help, because you are willing, not because you were forced.

Intro Narrator: It seems you lost [00:06:00] Onesimus for a little while, so that you could have him back forever. He is no longer like a slave to you. He is more than a slave, for he is a beloved brother, especially to me. Now he will mean much more to you, both as a man, and as a brother in the Lord. So if you consider me your partner, welcome him as you would welcome me.

Intro Narrator: If he has wronged you in any way or owes you anything, charge it to me. I, Paul, write this with my own hand. I will repay it. And I won't mention that you owe me your very soul. Yes, my brother, please do me this favor for the Lord's sake. Give me this encouragement in Christ. I am confident as I write this letter that you will do what I ask and even more.

Intro Narrator: One more thing. Please prepare a guest room for me, for I am hoping that God will answer your prayers, and let me return to you soon. Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in [00:07:00] Christ Jesus, sends you his greetings. So do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, and Luke, my co workers. May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.

Intro Narrator: Immersed in

Andy Wood: Colossians, why do you keep on following the rules of the world? such as don't handle, don't taste, don't touch. Such rules are mere human teachings about things that deteriorate as we use them. Like the believers in Galatia. Those in the city of Colossae were being pressured to keep certain parts of the Jewish law, such as circumcision, Sabbath observance, and various festivals, and to adhere to instructions based on certain [00:08:00] visionary experiences.

Andy Wood: These things require strong devotion, pious self denial, and severe bodily discipline, but don't help believers actually conquer evil desires. Paul heard this news about the church from his co worker Epaphras, who had just come from Colossae. Paul was in prison, but even from afar he continued to teach and guide the young churches around the Roman Empire.

Andy Wood: Paul wrote a letter to the Colossians and asked his friends Tychicus and Onesimus to deliver it, along with the letters we know as Philemon and Ephesians. Colossae was located in the Roman province of Asia, modern day Turkey. It was a place where people tended to mix practices and beliefs from various religious traditions.

Andy Wood: And where new spiritual practices were constantly developing, like worshiping angels. Paul warns the believers not to let these empty philosophies capture their thinking. Instead, they are [00:09:00] to continue in the truth of the good news they heard in the beginning. The result is a letter giving us one of the strongest statements about the person and work of Jesus the Messiah in the New Testament.

Andy Wood: Paul combats the alternative philosophies in Colossae by emphasizing the grandeur of Jesus. He writes that following rules and seeking mystical experiences won't strengthen a person's faith in Jesus or bring about spiritual transformation. Rather, Paul insists that the Colossians are made complete only through their union with Christ.

Andy Wood: After his opening thanksgiving and prayer for the Colossian believers, Paul presents a striking poem showing how Jesus is supreme in all things. The fullness of God the Father dwells in the Son, who is the maker of all things and holds the creation together. Because of the Son's blood shed on the cross, everything in heaven and on earth is [00:10:00] reconciled to God.

Andy Wood: The supremacy of Christ is the great theme of Paul's letter. Christ is sufficient for everything the Colossians need, and no other power or ruler can ever be his equal. Paul then explains that this great victory by God's Son has implications for how the Colossians should live. All the rules and laws they've been told to obey were only shadows.

Andy Wood: The reality has arrived in Jesus. Since they have been raised with Christ, the believers are now to live freely in his kingdom of light. As they do so, their relationships must be marked by a commitment to love each other. A new life of humility and forgiveness, rooted in the Messiah, will anchor their community.

Andy Wood: Paul also gives the Colossians practical instructions for household life, showing how followers of Christ should have an attitude of love and service in their everyday relationships. This includes how they relate to others within [00:11:00] the human institutions in which they live. While these institutions won't always change overnight, God's people can move them closer to the ultimate goals of Christ's kingdom.

Andy Wood: At the end of the letter, we find specific instructions for the Colossians to share this letter with the nearby church in Laodicea and to read their letter in turn. This shows how the books in our New Testament, first written for particular local churches, were shared and eventually gathered into a single collection for all God's people.

Intro Narrator: The Letter to the Colossians. This letter is from Paul, chosen by the will of God to be an Apostle of Christ Jesus. And from our brother, Timothy. We are writing to God's holy people in the city of Colossae, who are faithful brothers and sisters in Christ. May God, our Father, give you grace and [00:12:00] peace. We always pray for you, and we give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Intro Narrator: For we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and your love for all of God's people, which come from your confident hope of what God has reserved for you in heaven. You have had this expectation ever since you first heard the truth of the good news. This same good news that came to you is going out all over the world.

Intro Narrator: It is bearing fruit everywhere by changing lives. Just as it changed your lives from the day you first heard and understood the truth about God's wonderful grace. You learned about the good news from Epaphras, our beloved co worker. He is Christ's faithful servant, and he is helping us on your behalf. He has told us about the love for others that the Holy Spirit has given you.

Intro Narrator: So we have not stopped praying for you since we first heard about you. We ask God to give you complete knowledge of his will, [00:13:00] and to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding. Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord. And your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better.

Intro Narrator: We also pray that you will be strengthened with all His glorious power, so you will have all the endurance and patience you need. May you be filled with joy, always thanking the Father. He has enabled you to share in the inheritance that belongs to His people, who live in the light. For He has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of His dear Son, who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins.

Intro Narrator: Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation. For through Him, God created everything, in the heavenly realms and on earth. [00:14:00] He made the things we can see and the things we can't see. such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world.

Intro Narrator: Everything was created through him and for him. He existed before anything else, and he holds all creation together. Christ is also the head of the church, which is his body. He is the beginning, supreme over all who rise from the dead. So He is first in everything, for God in all His fullness was pleased to live in Christ, and through Him God reconciled everything to Himself.

Intro Narrator: He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ's blood on the cross. This includes you who were once far away from God. You were His enemies, separated from Him by your evil thoughts and actions. Yet now he has reconciled you to himself through the death of Christ in his physical body.[00:15:00]

Intro Narrator: As a result, he has brought you into his own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault. But you must continue to believe this truth and stand firmly in it. Don't drift away from the assurance you received when you heard the good news. The Good News has been preached all over the world, and I, Paul, have been appointed as God's servant to proclaim it.

Intro Narrator: I am glad when I suffer for you in my body, for I am participating in the sufferings of Christ that continue for His body, the Church. God has given me the responsibility of serving His Church by proclaiming His entire message to you. This message was kept secret for centuries and generations past, but now it has been revealed to God's people.

Intro Narrator: For God wanted them to know that the riches and glory of Christ are for you Gentiles, too. And this is the secret. Christ lives in you. [00:16:00] This gives you assurance of sharing His glory. So we tell others about Christ, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all the wisdom God has given us. We want to present them to God, perfect in their relationship to Christ.

Intro Narrator: That's why I work and struggle so hard, depending on Christ's mighty power that works within me. I want you to know how much I have agonized for you and for the church at Laodicea, and for many other believers who have never met me personally. I want them to be encouraged and knit together by strong ties of love.

Intro Narrator: I want them to have complete confidence that they understand God's mysterious plan, which is Christ himself. In him lie hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. I am telling you this so no one will deceive you with well crafted arguments, for though I am far away from you. My heart is with you, and I rejoice that [00:17:00] you are living as you should, and that your faith in Christ is strong.

Intro Narrator: And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow Him. Let your roots grow down into Him, and let your lives be built on Him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness. Don't let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ.

Intro Narrator: For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body. So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority. When you came to Christ, you were circumcised, but not by a physical procedure. Christ performed a spiritual circumcision, the cutting away of your sinful nature.

Intro Narrator: For you [00:18:00] were buried with Christ when you were baptized, and with Him you were raised to new life, because you trusted the mighty power of God, who raised Christ from the dead. You were dead because of your sins, and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for He forgave all our sins.

Intro Narrator: He cancelled the record of the charges against us, and took it away by nailing it to the cross. In this way, He disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by his victory over them on the cross. So don't let anyone condemn you for what you eat, or drink, or for not celebrating certain holy days, or new moon ceremonies, or Sabbaths.

Intro Narrator: For these rules are only shadows of the reality yet to come, and Christ himself is that reality. Don't let anyone condemn you by insisting on pious self denial, or the worship of angels. Saying they have had [00:19:00] visions about these things, their sinful minds have made them proud. And they are not connected to Christ, the head of the body, for he holds the whole body together, with its joints and ligaments, and it grows as God nourishes it.

Intro Narrator: You have died with Christ, and he has set you free from the spiritual powers of this world. So why do you keep on following the rules of the world, such as Don't handle, don't taste, don't touch. Such rules are mere human teachings about things that deteriorate as we use them. These rules may seem wise because they require strong devotion, pious self denial, and severe bodily discipline, but they provide no help in conquering a person's evil desires.

Intro Narrator: Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God's right hand. Think [00:20:00] about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, You will share in all His glory.

Intro Narrator: So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires. Don't be greedy, for a greedy person is an idolater, worshipping the things of this world. Because of these sins, the anger of God is coming. You used to do these things when your life was still part of this world, but now is the time to get rid of anger.

Intro Narrator: Rage, malicious behavior, slander, and dirty language. Don't lie to each other, for you have stripped off your old sinful nature and all its wicked deeds. Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator, [00:21:00] and become like Him. 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.

Intro Narrator: And He lives in all of us. Since God chose you to be the holy people He loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other's faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.

Intro Narrator: Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts, for as members of one body, you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful. Let the message about Christ in all its [00:22:00] richness fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom He gives.

Intro Narrator: Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. And whatever you do, or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father. Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting for those who belong to the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and never treat them harshly.

Intro Narrator: Children, always obey your parents, for this pleases the Lord. Fathers, do not aggravate your children, or they will become discouraged. Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything you do. Try to please them all the time, not just when they are watching you. Serve them sincerely because of your reverent fear of the Lord.

Intro Narrator: Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your [00:23:00] reward, and that the master you are serving is Christ. But if you do what is wrong, you will be paid back for the wrong you have done, for God has no favorites.

Intro Narrator: Masters, be just and fair to your slaves. Remember that you also have a master in heaven. Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart. Pray for us, too, that God will give us many opportunities to speak about His mysterious plan concerning Christ. That is why I am here in chains.

Intro Narrator: Pray that I will proclaim this message as clearly as I should. Live wisely among those who are not believers and make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone. Tychicus will give you a full report about how I am getting along.

Intro Narrator: He is a beloved brother and faithful helper who serves with me in the Lord's [00:24:00] work. I have sent him to you for this very purpose, to let you know how we are doing, and to encourage you. I am also sending Onesimus, a faithful and beloved brother, one of your own people. He and Tychicus will tell you everything that's happening here.

Intro Narrator: Aristarchus, who is in prison with me, sends you his greetings. And so does Mark, Barnabas's cousin. As you were instructed before, make Mark welcome if he comes your way. Jesus, the one we call Justice, also sends his greetings. These are the only Jewish believers among my co workers. They are working with me here for the kingdom of God.

Intro Narrator: And what a comfort they have been. Epaphras, a member of your own fellowship and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends you his greetings. He always prays earnestly for you, asking God to make you strong and perfect, fully confident that you are following the whole will of God. I can assure you that he prays hard for you, and also for the believers in [00:25:00] Laodicea and Hierapolis.

Intro Narrator: Luke, the beloved doctor, sends his greetings, and so does Demas. Please give my greetings to our brothers and sisters at Laodicea, and to Nympha, and the church that meets in her house. After you have read this letter, pass it on to the church at Laodicea so they can read it too. And you should read the letter I wrote to them and say to Archippus, be sure to carry out the ministry the Lord gave you.

Intro Narrator: Here is my greeting in my own handwriting. Remember my chains. May God's grace be with you.

Intro Narrator: This concludes today's Immerse Reading Experience. Thank you for joining us.