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Bonuses, rewards, and promotions… those are sometimes the carrots at the end of the stick. Work hard and get something extra, or so seems how we handle many situations in our work life. And often an expectation is created – do more, get more. Let’s be honest, how good does that make a person feel? How much motivation comes from a physical reward? It’s not just at work where this comes into play; it can happen at home with children. “If you do (fill in the blank for the behavior that is desired), you will get (fill in this blank with a thing the child wants). But the toy gets broken, or the game is completed and grows out of favor, and the token of encouragement is gone with little or nothing of it left behind. Paul did not send monetary rewards or prizes to those he recognized in his letters. To those in Colossi, as with those in other cities he wrote to, he sent encouragement. And he challenged them to encourage each other with the power of “thank you” or “keep up the good work”. Paul knew the power of greetings and thank you and letting people know they were not alone. Exercise that same power as we see those who work so hard to do the work of the Lord here on earth – give encouragement. “A word of encouragement from a teacher to a child can change a life. A word of encouragement from a spouse can save a marriage. A word of encouragement from a leader can inspire a person to reach her potential” (John C. Maxwell).

The Proclaimers

A person in prison asks his friends to pray that God may open a door. That sounds normal. In his letter to the Colossians, Paul made that request. But it’s not exactly what you would expect. And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. (Col. 4:3 NIV) None of us would find fault with Paul if he had asked for prayers that the prison door be opened. We would easily understand. That’s the door we would want God to open, allowing us the freedom to continue with our lives. Paul also wanted the freedom to continue with his life, which meant continuing to tell people about Jesus. He knew doors of opportunity could open, even behind the closed doors of a prison cell. Prison wouldn’t be the first place we would choose to go in search of opportunity. But sometimes opportunities show up in the strangest places. Paul continued with these instructions. Make the most of every opportunity. Be gracious in your speech. The goal is to bring out the best in others in a conversation, not put them down, not cut them out. (Col. 4:5 MSG) Opportunities will come our way this week. Watch for them. Use them to present Christ through the way we talk, the way we live, and the way we treat the people we encounter.


When we become Christians, so much about how we think, how we feel, and how we act should change. It can be an instantaneous change—an alcoholic immediately stops drinking, an angry person immediately finds peace, revenge-seeking people immediately extend forgiveness to the ones who hurt them. For some of us, though, the change is gradual, taking weeks, months and sometimes, years as we mature in our Christian faith. Our life may have given us experiences which cause us to be harsh, impatient, and bitter. However, our Savior gave us a life-altering experience that should transform us—however gradually or instantaneously—into a life filled with kindness, gentleness, patience, humility, forgiveness and love. We are commanded to make this change in Colossians 3:12-14NIV, “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” These attributes should change our hearts, our thoughts, our actions, our lives so that we are not as we were prior to becoming Christians. We need to embrace these God-given abilities to show compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience and love. They should not only begin in us when our Savior erases our sin with His grace, but should continue in us as we live Christ-centered lives of love.

Cleaning Up

As Christians, the way we behave matters. The way we go about our daily lives, matters. People are watching us, and in some cases waiting for us to “mess up” so they can call us hypocrites. Others are watching us and following our example of Christian living. It matters. “The greatest characteristic a Christian can exhibit is this completely unveiled openness before God, which allows that person’s life to become a mirror for others.” (Oswald Chambers from My Utmost for His Highest) Christian living is all about dying to self and living in Christ. True Christians live in stark contrast to the world around them. It is crucial for Christ followers to lead lives of purity. Holy living honors God’s word. It silences those that try to oppose the Christian way of life; and it makes the Gospel attractive to unbelievers. People who are anchored in Jesus are immoveable, steadfast, and strong. They strive to rid themselves of anger, rage, malice, slander and filthy language. Christians put God first in their lives, and leave their old worldly ways behind. By living the way God expects Christians to, actions show others that He is the one and only Savior. “And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” (2 Corinthians 3:18)

The Sneetches

Some of us who grew up in church can testify to the fact that many times the focus was more on what we were NOT supposed to do rather than what Jesus wants us TO do. We may have even lived by the belief that “Good Christians Don’t . . . go to movies . . . shop on Sunday . . . dress casually for church . . . play sports on Sunday . . . have long hair . . . listen to rock ‘n roll music.” It may have even gone as far as being told that good Christians don’t associate with non-Christians. They are evil. They will corrupt you. So, good Christians only associate with other good Christians. Our lives are not about do’s and don’ts; they are about being completely centered in Christ. Because of this, there is no need for fear, condemnation, or to follow some ritual or tradition. There is no need to arrogantly pass judgment on others for things that aren’t important while we ignore much greater things to come. Paul speaks about this in Colossians 2:16-23. Verse 20 says; “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.” Our traditions and even our worship are only shadows of the most important thing–our relationship with Jesus Christ and His desire for us to share His message and His love with the world.

Faith Distractions

We’ve all heard about groups and cults who make members act in a particular way. They may require members to dress in certain clothes or to cut their hair a special way. They may require the eating of a specific diet or that spoken words be delivered in a very ordered manner. We think all of that is weird. We don’t understand how people can be so naïve and so out of touch that they would allow someone to draw them in and lead them toward a path that is so outside of the mainstream and ultimately detrimental to their self worth and welfare. We all have a human need and desire for acceptance and validation. We too easily forget what led us to a particular point in our life. We see the present, forget the past, and fear the future. People allow themselves to be influenced by that which seems like it has a present benefit. Christians can fall into that same trap in their spiritual lives, also. Paul told the Colossians, “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.” We are to remind ourselves constantly of the simplicity of God’s gift of salvation. We are sinners. We can’t cure that problem by ourselves. Jesus died for us. We have eternal salvation through his death. We express our thankfulness to God for his gift through a life of personal worship. Your past doesn’t matter. We are to be mindful of the present. God will take care of the future.

Wholly in Christ

An odd thing happened to a friend the other day. Someone at work asked to speak to him and said, “God sent a message to me through you; it was something you did. I am not going to tell you exactly what it was, but I wanted you to know… I wanted you to know that you provided a good example.” He hesitated before saying “thank you” because he said it did not seem right for him to take credit for simply carrying a message. He also thought, it really is not right to take credit for something God did. Apparently he was just a messenger, maybe even an unintentional messenger. So, his stumbling response was just this, “Well, not sure what I did but I am glad it made a difference for you…and maybe I will do it again sometime” – all said with still no clue what it was that he did. He said as he went about his work day, he kept thinking about that encounter. At first he felt good; he made a difference in someone’s life and did it all without being aware of his good deed. That “good” feeling was not so good; he said it was just him being prideful and boasting to himself. He came to understand that it was not all about him. Whatever good we do in this life, or whatever actions or words we say that may impact another life, happens because of Christ in us.

Supremacy in Christ

Paul Carrier, who was a minister at First Christian Church during the 1960s, passed away recently. Paul was a forward-thinking church leader. He understood the importance of people making connections within the church. Recently much has been said about this topic and we are very pleased with how many people are joining life groups. Over 30 years ago, Paul returned to FCC for a revival. His sermon theme was “Alienation”. He noted the societal trend where people were becoming more mobile. He predicted that as people became less connected to families and places they would become more alienated. Since people were never meant to be left alone, they would seek ways to connect. If you question Paul’s prediction, think about Facebook. But personal relationships are only the tip of the alienation iceberg. Alienation from God is a far greater problem. And it’s nothing new. Another man named Paul wrote about alienation in his letter to the Colossians. “Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior.” (Colossians 1:21 NIV) Christ did what no one else could do—not the greatest preacher or even the most successful internet mogul. “Christ brought you over to God’s side and put your lives together, whole and holy in his presence.”  (Colossians 1:22 MSG) We reconnect with God and connect with each other through the power and authority of Jesus Christ.

What are You Praying for?

As children begin their educational trip through life, they face 13 years of school plus an additional year if they’re in preschool. Then college or vocational school could add two to four (or more) years. The learning process is not over as there is always something new to learn on the job. To continually grow in our chosen profession or in our current job, knowledge becomes a lifelong pursuit. Should the same not be true of our walk with the Lord? In Colossians 1:9b-10 (NLT) Paul tells us that he continually was praying for the members of the church at Colosse, that God would give them complete knowledge of His will and spiritual wisdom and understanding. The Scripture goes on to say “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.” Just as we need always to pursue learning new things in our everyday secular lives, we need to pursue knowledge, spiritual wisdom and understanding in our Christian lives. We must never be satisfied with where we are on our walk with the Lord. Ask the senior saints in the church and they will tell you that they have so much yet to learn about their Lord and His will for their lives and so much yet to do to serve Him. Learning is a never-ending process. So is maturing as a Christian.


“This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.” We remember these words from the sweet song that is sung by preschoolers in churches everywhere. Simple words that carry with them a deep spiritual truth; our love for Christ should flow through us and into the lives of others as we share the greatest story ever told. As Christians, we are part of a much bigger story. In fact, it’s the biggest story. “Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers.” (Psalm 1:1-3) What an awesome and wonderful responsibility we have as Christians. We get to be the example of Christ each and every day. And since people are watching us most all the time, it is imperative that we honor Him in all we do and say. Colossians 3:17 says it best: “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”