(This devotion is day twenty-four of a 30-Day Thanksgiving Challenge. Each day includes a daily reading that will be accompanied by a post on this blog.)
Read Colossians 1:3, 12; 2:7; 3:15–17; 4:2
When you open an email or an old-fashioned letter, you know right away if it’s good or bad news. The first few words set the tone for what follows.
Since Paul had never visited the city of Colossae, his opening sentence of thankfulness (Colossians 1:3) acted as a first impression for his readers. He sets the tone not with a rebuke for their failures—like Galatians—but by affirming God’s good work in them. This casts a shadow of encouragement and pastoral love over the entire letter. If New Testament letters had emojis, Paul would have included a big smile or high five.
Continue reading Thank God
As a church, does our culture match our doctrine? As an individual or as a family, does our culture match our doctrine?
“Gospel doctrine – gospel culture = hypocrisy
Gospel culture – gospel doctrine = fragility
Gospel doctrine + gospel culture = power”
Continue reading Do Your Doctrine & Culture Clash?
Testimonies exalt God, encourage believers, and evangelize the lost. Our churches need more time for personal testimonies as a corporate way to remember God’s gracious work in our lives. You can read more of my recent post at 9marks.org.
This Sunday, our church begins a four-week series on biblical manhood and womanhood. That could raise dozens of questions to answer and a person’s understanding of manhood and womanhood is applied in many ways. There’s a lot we won’t get to cover, but we’ll consider what it means to be made in God’s image, what biblical manhood and womanhood looks like, and how that applies to singleness and roles in marriage. Our church holds to the theological position known as complementarianism, and this will show up throughout the series.
Continue reading Resources on Complementarianism Applied
In every church I’ve been at, as I meet believers from other churches, and as I interact with people in my city (and sometimes overhear conversations), I often hear a similar line of thinking from people who feel like they aren’t growing in their church. They might be involved, but they express discouragement and disappointment because they walk away each week not feeling like real growth and life-change are taking place.
Continue reading 7 Ways to Grow through How You Engage Your Church
“Believers are never told to become one; we already are one and are expected to act like it.” Joni Eareckson Tada
Many churches talk a lot about the cross, and I’m thankful for that. A steady diet of the gospel and understanding how Jesus pays for our sin feeds and nourishes our hungry hearts. But we often ignore that Christ’s death unites believers as one. It’s a reconciling, peace-making act bringing people together. It creates a real, objective unity among Christ’s people (the Church) around the globe and across history.
If the cross not only saves us but it also shapes us, then it will propel us to pursue peace and resist division.
Continue reading Christ Purchased the Church’s Peace
In Philippians 2:1-4, Paul tells us to pursue unity through humility. Pride promotes division, but humility nurtures harmony. He pleads with these believers to be of one mind, one purpose, and one love by laying down their personal priorities and privileges.
Continue reading Help from Bonhoeffer on Humility and Unity
“The knowledge of the glory of God must be promising if it is to carry power. We must know it and believe that we are included—that the promises are ours, that the call is to us” (John Piper)
Life shakes us up. It smacks us with wind and waves. It might be a trial, suffering, a personal temptation, dealing with guilt and shame, struggling with something like anxiety or fear, or the discouraging howls of an extended spiritual wilderness. When these storms blow hard, what keeps us upright? What sustains and steadies us?
Continue reading Why We Need God’s Promises
In my last post, When Christmas Loses Its Cheer, I tried to remind us that the message and meaning of Christmas offer a deeper joy than the magic Christmas. For those walking through trials and hardship, the Christmas season doesn’t have to be a letdown if it causes us see the beauty of Christ more clearly. In this post, I want to simply point to a few Christian hymns that echo how Christ’s glory and grace shines brighter in the midst of darkness and sorrow.
Continue reading Why Good Christmas Songs Matter
“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” (Col. 3:16)
(In yesterday’s post I shared stories of how the gathered church singing together encouraged me when I needed it most. Today’s part 2 provides more of the biblical basis for how important singing with and to one another is every week.)
In your mind, go back to a recent Sunday morning where you gathered with God’s people in your local church. One thing you did (I hope) was sing. When you sing, who do you sing to? In that scenario, do you sing to God, to other people, or to your own heart? How do you process congregational singing? You could ask, who do you sing for? Are you singing to glorify God, to rehearse truth to yourself or give voice to your beliefs, or do you sing to build up others?
Continue reading Teaching and Encouraging through Singing