The Experience

We are moving toward our Sunday, July 11 sermon, “Despising the Celebration,” which will be viewable online and based on 2 Samuel 6.

Today’s Text: Colossians 3:16-17 (NLT)

By Chuck Griffin

Wednesday, we considered the importance of approaching God reverently, acknowledging his holiness and our unworthiness to be in the divine presence. Thanks to Jesus Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, we are allowed to enter God’s presence despite our sins, and we find ourselves strengthened and sustained by the Holy Spirit.

So, what is the appropriate response to this remarkable turn of events? A celebration!

I think a lot of people struggle with worship because we don’t spend enough time celebrating. When we fail to celebrate in worship, we miss out on the joy of being Christian, a joy available to us regardless of our circumstances.

I know—we may not always feel like rejoicing. Poor? Sick? Lonely? Broken by sins committed? Victimized by another’s sin? Those aren’t ideal situations to be in, but our current circumstances brighten considerably when we put them in the light of what God has done for us through Jesus Christ. The temporary nature of our woes becomes obvious when the Holy Spirit begins to work in us through God’s word, giving us a taste of what it means to be citizens of an eternal kingdom.

The joy of the resurrection—first, Christ’s, and later, our promised own—is something God offers us whenever we immerse ourselves in his story and praise him.

We’re told in Colossians 3:16-17, “Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. 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.”

God’s word begets gratitude, and with gratitude in our hearts, we sing and direct our celebration toward our audience, God. We can rejoice in such ways during appointed worship times, at 11 a.m. on Sunday, for example.

We also can celebrate when gathered in small groups. We can celebrate in our one-on-one time with God. God calls us to such celebratory experiences whenever we stand before him in worship.

Dear Lord, particularly as we have coped with Covid-19, we possibly have forgotten what it means to rejoice in our relationship with you. Help us to celebrate this Sunday, and every day.

Struggling for You

Colossians 2:1-5 (NRSV)

For I want you to know how much I am struggling for you, and for those in Laodicea, and for all who have not seen me face to face.  I want their hearts to be encouraged and united in love, so that they may have all the riches of assured understanding and have the knowledge of God’s mystery, that is, Christ himself, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.  I am saying this so that no one may deceive you with plausible arguments.  For though I am absent in body, yet I am with you in spirit, and I rejoice to see your morale and the firmness of your faith in Christ.


By John Grimm

Watching cars and SUVs go by is fascinating.  Each vehicle is heading hither or yon, maybe to an appointment or on a work assignment. The kids might be going to or coming back from ball practice. And as we race about, we’re all potentially in need of assistance, grateful to receive it when in need. 

We who are part of the church on occasion might have someone offer us spiritual assistance, by way of prayer and other means.  As we read about Paul’s compassion for the church in Colossae and in Laodicea, it is not an occasional gesture that he gives.  As we know Christ Jesus is interceding for us right now, Paul is encouraging us, by his example, to struggle for other Christians.  Why would we want to struggle in such ways?

We struggle for other Christians so their hearts may be encouraged, and they would be united in love.  It is difficult to have the assured understanding and the knowledge of Christ himself when we feel disconnected from other Christians.  It is the Holy Spirit who connects every disciple of Jesus Christ.  This connection can be found in every local church, across international borders, and across denominational boundaries.  We grow in wisdom and knowledge of Jesus Christ as we experience Christian connectedness.

It also is good to see the morale and the firmness of other Christians’ faith in Christ, as it refreshes our own faith in Christ!  A single stalk of corn cannot produce a good yield by itself.  It takes multiple rows of corn to pollinate each other for a good yield to be produced.  That is how it is with Christians.  As we struggle for the sake of other Christians, we all are encouraged.

Almighty God, thank you for the disciples of Jesus Christ on this planet.  As sisters and brothers in Christ are perplexed, struggling, battered, and feeling abandoned, we lift them up to you.  May each disciple and each church know Christ in full.  We ask that you strengthen us all, so we know we grow firm in our faith.  Amen.

Gracious Words in an Ungracious World

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.—Colossians 4:5-6 (NLT)


By Chuck Griffin

Normally, these devotions are based on Scripture from the daily lectionary readings. Every now and then, however, a verse that really speaks to me pops up elsewhere—in this case, on last Saturday’s front page for  the Bible Gateway website.

As the world around us seems to become less Christian, and consequently, less loving and forgiving each day, what are we to do? Some churchgoers seem to think the right response is to become more strident and defensive. That’s certainly the impression I get when I look at social media.

Paul would take us in a different direction, however. If the world is lacking grace, Christians are best equipped to inject this great gift of God into the veins of a sick society.

For people unused to grace, loving actions and words of forgiveness are downright perplexing. The daily lectionary readings have pulled us toward the concept of evangelism a lot lately; perplexing people with unexpected kindness and warmth is a great way to open the door to deeper conversations about the source of such behavior.

Paul is telling us to be winsome. Note what you get when you break that word in two: “Win some.”

I’m going to start this week right and look for opportunities to be a bearer of grace to those around me. Let’s all try it, and perhaps we can share some stories about what happens.

Lord, let us be the center of calm in the midst of the storms around us. Amen.

Four Parts of Worship: Celebration

By Chuck Griffin
LifeTalk Editor

So, we’ve talked about what it means to gather ourselves in search of God, and we’ve talked about how God is consistently present through Scripture. What is an appropriate response to God’s presence?

A celebration! The third part of worship is like a thank-you, praise-you party thrown for God, where we declare the Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer to be worthy of honor.

Again, it’s one of those reasons I like to put the declaration of God’s word up front as much as possible in a worship service. I think a lot of people struggle with worship because we don’t spend enough time rejoicing, and it’s hard to celebrate until we’ve really heard from God. When we fail to celebrate in worship, we miss out on the joy of being Christian, a joy available to us regardless of our circumstances.

I know—we may not always feel like rejoicing. We may have entered worship thinking about being poor, sick or lonely. We may be broken by our sins or feeling victimized by the sins of others. Those aren’t ideal situations, but our current circumstances brighten considerably when we put them in the light of what God has done for us through Jesus Christ.

You see such celebratory worship in the Old Testament. One example would be the story in 1 Chronicles 16:1-6, when David returned the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem. And before these more formal acts, there were exuberant acts on the way to Jerusalem: sacrifices, singing, dancing and music.

Celebratory worship continues in the New Testament, particularly after the victorious nature of Christ’s work on the cross is made clear in the resurrection. We’re told in Colossians 3:16-17, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

God’s word begets gratitude, and with gratitude in our hearts, we sing and direct our celebration toward our audience, God. 

I know not everyone rejoices and celebrates in the same way, just as people will enjoy a party in different ways. I’ve always been more of a wallflower at a party. That doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy parties; it just means I’m not necessarily going to put a lampshade on my head.

You may be a fairly laid-back, reserved person in worship. A lot of people feel awkward jumping up and shouting “Amen!” while holding their hands up in the air. Thank God for the worshipers who do such things; they are a great help to worship in general.

If you’re reserved in nature, ask yourself this: Am I celebrating? Does that joy regarding Christ’s gift wash over my soul, at least as a quiet, tender experience?

Do I let the music take me back to the revelation of God I’ve just heard, connecting my emotions to my logic? Do I understand the prayers we lift up corporately are an open door to heaven? When I come to the table for communion, am I expecting to meet the one who will feed me for all eternity?

God calls you to such celebratory experiences whenever you stand before him in worship.

Lord, our loss of exuberant celebration is perhaps the greatest denial we suffer right now. Help us to better celebrate you in our private time and family time, and assure us of our return to a celebratory congregation soon. Amen.