March 29 – Our Values – Life change is an invitation away

Read Mathew 4:18-22, 9:35-38, Colossians 1:1-29 and 4:2-6 and 2 Timothy 1:7-14

We stood in my driveway. It was probably the most awkward attempt at sharing the gospel I ever made. We left emotionally drained. I felt like I failed but Jesus was at work. With one question, the Holy Spirit cracked the surface of a crusty heart and a soul began its pilgrimage out of darkness. It was a process. God sprinkled hope and help along the way and eventually, this soul surrendered, ever to be in the light.

“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “And I will send you out to fish for people.” At once they left their nets and followed Him.

Jesus has changed my life. Once through salvation, and a million more times through calling me to surrender and follow Him.

As I stood in my driveway that day, I longed to prove everything I believed about Jesus. It made me feel desperate. It made my words come out all wrong. But God is a miracle worker. He made His invitation clear and He used my life…a life of a follower…to call and create a new one.

Amazing. Gracious. Inspiring.

“They left their nets.”

What’s in yours? All kinds of things sift into mine.

Fear.

Not wanting to be uncomfortable.

Apathy, rooted in forgetting God’s purpose for my life and the destination of lost souls.

Insecurity.

Dreading rejection.

Unbelief.

Busyness.

And then I remember the day in my driveway. The way God moved.  And I lay down my net and run hard after the life changing Savior of the world…of my heart. He is worth the awkward, the sacrifice, the time, the ‘trouble.’

Let’s keep following and pointing to the one who saves. No. Matter. What.

Shelly Eberly

Questions to consider:

  • Pray – Ask God to show you what’s in your ‘net’ and for His help in surrendering them. Ask for His forgiveness in areas of unbelief and selfishness. Ask God for eyes to see the ‘fish’ within your circle of influence. Ask Him to prepare their hearts for the gospel and that He will give you opportunities to share your hope with them. Ask for courage.
  • Share your desire to reach someone with a friend that will pray with you. Celebrate together when God moves in miraculous ways!

March 24 – Faithfulness – He is forgiving

Read 1 John 1: 5-10; Colossians 2:13

I love talking about God’s forgiveness, don’t you?  Everything I’ve ever done (or will do) wrong is covered by God’s forgiveness, thus giving me a free pass to heaven.  It’s Christianity 101!  We often overlook, however, that God’s forgiveness necessarily implies that we have sinned, and that our repentance is a blessing which allows us to easily see God’s faithfulness.

Let’s think about our sin differently.  Imagine that a terrible crime has been committed, and the victim immediately forgives the perpetrator.  The criminal is ecstatic about being forgiven and boasts about their newfound freedom.  Isn’t there something wrong with the criminal celebrating deliverance from a crime for which they refuse to take responsibility?  Yet, we do that continually to God, and it’s no less offensive to Him.

When we speak of God’s forgiveness without acknowledging our sin, it’s like using a calculator before learning how to do arithmetic.  You have no idea how great the remedy is when you don’t know what it’s saving you from!   Here’s what John and Paul are telling us today: “..You, who were DEAD in your trespasses [sin]…”; “… If you say you have fellowship with Him while we walk in darkness [sin], we lie…”; “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves…”; “If we say we have not sinned, we make Him a liar…”  The common thread here is that forgiveness is necessary because of our sin…  since “God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all…” (God is Holy), our sin requires God to act.  And boy, did He act!

God’s word is SCREAMING at us that forgiveness and repentance are two sides of the same coin.  Our repentance actually increases our joy by making God’s free gift MORE of a blessing once we realize where we’d be without it!  Here is where God’s faithfulness REALLY shines… when we humbly come before God’s throne to repent of our sin, we are ALWAYS forgiven by a loving, merciful God.  In case you’re wondering; always means EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.  To make His gift more complete, we are also promised that God “… will remember their [our] sins no more” (Heb. 8:12).  This is an amazing demonstration of God’s faithfulness for His church; the acknowledgement that God is faithful to forgive our sins FOR ALL TIME; He is faithful unto eternity.

Here’s how you can use these promises: make repentance part of your daily prayer routine; ask God to make you aware of your sins, and actively speak those to God, asking Him to forgive you.  Thank God for His amazing grace, and remember that you don’t need to be ashamed when you come before God, because He knows what you need before you even ask it (Matt 6:8).  There can be no shame when God promises that your sin is NOT held against you!  Praise God that He is faithful to forgive!

Craig French

March 18 – Hard Questions 2.0 – How to answer hard questions

Read James 1:19 and Colossians 3:12

One of the worst failings of my Christian walk was how I handled an attempt to share the Gospel with a close family member. My attempt was indignation cloaked in understanding, and superiority masked as empathy. Not surprisingly, it was ineffective. The fallout from that was years of separation, accompanied by broken trust which may never be completely repaired.  As I reflect on that situation, the primary thing that I failed to understand was that my family member had been wrestling with extremely deep, complex, and significant questions. They were crying out for wisdom and understanding, compassion and attention, and I trivialized their questions and misinterpreted their intent.

In our Christian walk, when we come across hard questions, I believe there are best ways to handle them. 

To start with, we must NOT be afraid to ask hard questions, and as Christians, we MUST acknowledge them. We cannot be lazy, and must seek the answers! If God is who He says He is and all wisdom is found in Christ, then we need not be afraid of being stumped. Ask God to reveal truth to you… it is the promised work of the Holy Spirit! 

In today’s passage, we are instructed to be “Quick to listen”, and “Slow to speak”.  Before telling a fellow brother or sister how they should think about a tough question, command yourself to be silent and listen FIRST. Listen to God, listen to that person’s heart and perspective. You may see evidence of God already at work in their life, and it’s usually more successful when you are partnering with God as opposed to trying to run out in front of Him!  

Secondly, you MUST be familiar with, and seek guidance from His Word. The Bible is the PRIMARY way in which God has revealed Himself to us today.  Combined with Creation and the gift of Jesus, God’s desire to be known to us is wrapped up in His perfect Word. Any answer to any difficult questions MUST be grounded in Scripture, for it to bear any semblance to the truth.  

What if you aren’t all that familiar with Scripture and don’t know where to look? There’s instruction for that as well… seek WISE COUNSEL.  This means to find another person, be it a friend, family member, pastor, co-worker, who is perhaps more able to help discern the best way to minister to a question you or someone you care about is struggling with.  God designed us to live in community, and part of the beautiful design is how He uses His peoples’ lives to build experiences and perspectives that help the church minister to a hurting world… ask God to show you someone who can help!  

Grace Church is here to walk with you through these types of situations!  There are small groups, Sunday school classes, ministries, and multiple pastors at Grace Church available to help find God’s will in everyday life, and to encourage those seeking God’s way in their life. Let’s not be afraid to ask tough questions, let’s be diligent and zealous in seeking answers, and let’s help those around us find peace through the wisdom offered by Jesus!

Craig French

December 30 – God of 2nd Chances – Giving other a second chance

Read Colossians 3:13

It is inspiring to recognize how Jesus reacted to those who wronged Him. Jesus gave people a second chance and still does. When you begin to do things the way He did, you will encounter troubles (John 16:33). The world will resist you and pressure you to do things the wrong way but the wrong way does not work: “Small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life.” (Matt 7:14).

To do what pleases God takes grit, effort and keeping your eyes on God.

Paul writes in Colossians 3 to put to death whatever belongs to the earthly nature. This can be difficult because the earthly nature comes easy and includes anger, evil desires, greed and revenge.

Prepare for every day by asking God to help you be ready to fight for what is good and clothe yourself with God’s weapons of compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength and patience. These are the weapons that Jesus used. These weapons can be used in difficult times in dealing with others and I can be an example of Christ to them. It can help in giving others a second chance.

Have you asked God to give you these weapons? Use these weapons in the way you live, act, text, email and in everything.

Are you prepared?

In order to give somebody a second chance, I need to show gentleness and patience rather than anger and self-serving shouting. Do I knee-jerk react to others or do I respond with love? Prepare your day with prayer and be ready.

“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone.”

Colossians 3:13a

“To forgive means to write it off. Let it go. Tear up the account. It is to render the account canceled.

Warning: forgiveness and opening up to more abuse are not the same thing. Forgiveness has to do with the past. Reconciliation and boundaries have to do with the future. Limits guard my property until someone has repented and can be trusted to visit again. If they sin, I will forgive again, 70×7.” BOUNDARIES, the book by Dr. Henry Cloud.

“Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”

Colossians 3:13b

God has given me a second chance and a third chance and more and He has done the same for you. We have the opportunity to give a second chance to people that we know and do it in the same way that God forgave you for your mistakes!

“You’ll sink our sins to the bottom of the ocean”.

Micah 7:19 MSG

Can you sink the painful mistakes of others to the bottom of the ocean floor and give them a second chance?

Tom Weckesser

December 14 – Honoring God – While feeling bitter

Read Colossians 3:8-15

“DON’T BE BITTER, BE BETTER” is the title of a sermon I heard once. It was a timely message that I have not forgotten. The message was simple: I can choose to be bitter about something or I can choose to try to be personally better about it. It is my choice! It is a way to honor God. The message of the sermon was that we can control our attitude, even if it’s ALL we can control.

Bitterness gets worse according to Hebrews 12:14-15:

“The soil of bitterness is a heart that harbors hostility and does not deal with hurt by the grace of God. When someone becomes bitter, the bitterness takes root in the heart and grows deeper.”

“Bitterness

is a poison

that cannot be

contained

It spills forth

from the lips of men

onto beer-soaked napkins

and the ears of anyone

they have yet to chase away.”

Anonymous

Bitterness is not something God wants to see in you. It is not God-honoring. Chronically bitter people may give you a hard time and that may be especially true if they are your loved one. How do you honor God in that situation? You can try to avoid bitterness yourself:

“Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.”Hebrews 12:14-15

To be bitter is a common reaction to some of life’s circumstances. It is often because of heartbreak or hard times. We all experience bitterness at times. Job was bitter at one time:

“My soul is tired of life; I will let my sad thoughts go free in words; my soul will make a bitter outcry.” Job 10:1

Bitterness is resentment that can lead to hostility toward others. The Bible says to avoid backbiting and profane talk. It takes prayer, work and planning to be kind and honor God in everything you do.

“Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.” Ephesians 4:31

Strive to be gentle with others.

Can you do it?

“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

“The circumstances

of their wretched despair…

may not be

entirely

of their own doing.

And they may,

as they often are,

be quite capable

of loving

and

expressing love

but an ounce of love

in a pint of poison

is still

poison.”

Anonymous

If you are in a season of bitterness in your life, be sure to confide in people that you trust and continue to pray to God for guidance. Bitterness is a common reaction in our lives.

Honor God while bitter! Try to be better.

Tom Weckesser

December 11 – Honoring God – With our time

Read Ecclesiastes 3:1-7, Colossians 3:1-25, 4:1-18.

“…make the most of every opportunity.”

Colossians 4:5b

The song “Cat’s in the Cradle” by Harry Chapin is about the use of time and it is narrated by a man who becomes a father. Soon after his son was born, the father is repeatedly unable to spend time with him because of his job. His son admired him and wanted to grow up to be just like his father.

After the son graduates from college, he declines his father’s offer to spend some time with him and instead asks for the car keys! In the last verse, the father is retired and he calls his adult son and asks if they can spend some time together. But the son’s own job and family prevents him from being able to spend time with him, and the father realizes that his son has absolutely grown up to be just like him.

It is a song that is scary and sad. But it is often true. So how do we spend our time? What are our priorities? Do we spend our free time based on what is really important in our lives? How we spend our time will show how we love Jesus, the church and our own family.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-7 shows that we are affected by time and change. If we look back 10 or 20 years, we realize we were in a different season. Verse 2 says that there is a time to be born and a time to die.

So, there is a time for everything (Ecclesiastes 3:1). In John 2:4b, Jesus said “my time has not yet come” in referring to His crucifixion and resurrection. In John 12:23, His time had definitely come, “Jesus replied, the hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.”

Colossians 3 and 4 offer ideas on how to make the most of every opportunity in our lives with time.

“So, if you’re serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it.”

Love others. Be patient. Control yourself.

“Pursue the things over which Christ presides.”

“Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.”

Let’s fill our time and thoughts with the things that Christ cares about – where our great interests are – rather than things of this world such as pleasure and wealth.

“Meanwhile, be content with obscurity, like Christ.”

What is important in my life? Does the way I spend my time prove it?

Honor God with your time by being a blessing to someone today!

How are you using the precious time you have been given to glorify God and love others? 

Tom Weckesser

September 13 – Life Verses – John 15:1-8

Read John 15:1-8, Galatians 5:16-26, Colossians 1:9-14 and James 3:13-18

I’m lacking as a gardener but my green-thumbed friend, Kristen, doesn’t seem to care. Visiting her this spring, she insisted on entrusting me with a portion of her Dahlia plants.

Nervous, yet eager to be a sensible steward of these precious, plant babies, I asked Kristen a lot of questions (I also did my fair share of Googling). I learned that Dahlia’s are high maintenance plants. Their voluminous blooms are too hefty for their spindly stalks so they have to be tied to stakes as they grow 5-6’ high.

Without connection to a stake Dahlia’s won’t produce fruit.

Without connection to Jesus; neither will I.

I remember when God seared John 15:5 into my soul as I was participating in a Bible study called Experiencing God. The Spirit began to gently unravel my stubborn independence and move me to a deeper dependence on Him.

Apart from me you can do nothing.

These words still arrest me making me humbly aware of my need to surrender and cling to the One who produces fruit in me. Often, I pray them back to Jesus as I step into the roles He has given me as I follow Him…Join me, Jesus, speak to me and though me, lead me, have your way, apart from you I can do nothing. On my not-so-great days, I barge forward forgetting my source and find myself uttering a prayer of confession…Jesus, forgive me for taking this all on myself, I didn’t pray, I didn’t wait on you.

I want to bear fruit, don’t you? I want to live a life that points to the One I cling to. As a flower expert can immediately recognize a Dahlia bloom, I want people to recognize I follow Jesus because I bear fruit that is rooted in Him…love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

I also want to bear abundant fruit. Did you know the more you cut Dahlia flowers the more blooms they produce? I didn’t, until I Googled it. We are the same. We can lean in to the pruning. God is a gentle gardener we can trust with the snips and setbacks. He is making us into a glorious garden.

Cling to Jesus, friends.

Dwell in Him.

Depend on Him.

Stay connected to the Vine and fruit will come.

Shelly Eberly

September 5 – Life Verses – Colossians 3:23

Read Colossians 3:23

“Let my life song sing to you…”

Casting Crowns

My first job was at Griffin’s’ Prescription Center working for $1.65/hour. Back then I enjoyed having a little bit of money but I probably cut corners sometimes and maybe didn’t do as good a job as I could have.

I then became a student at Ohio State where my main focus was not academic. I had many jobs including working at McDonald’s just for the pay, an oil company where employees would sleep on the job and I saw them drinking beer on the job, and a construction job where I’d try to do as little as possible just to survive the long, hot days. I became a landscaper for a boss who was deaf who fired me because I asked him for a raise.

My focus was money.

Then I finally became a teacher and a high school basketball coach. My aim was to win basketball games.

It was about that time that I became a Christian and recognized the importance of doing a good job even if nobody knew it but me. I then realized that God was my boss and, no matter what I’m doing, I need to be working for Him. That realization changed my attitude toward work, family, church and everything that I did. My focus became to do the best that I could possibly do – and to go the extra mile in absolutely everything.

I coached six different high school sports and I focused on encouraging high school kids and not just winning games. I officiated high school basketball and football for many seasons and focused on sportsmanship, safety and helping to make sports a great learning experience. I became a huddle leader for The Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) and tried to teach young people to work for God, not men. We gave away over 1500 FCA coins with Colossians 3:23 on them to team captains. Let me know if you want one.

For me this verse is about attitude and way of life. It helps me emulate Jesus Christ. It has helped me deal with difficult people and difficult jobs. Every job can be a Christian ministry! And it’s not just about working – it’s about everything that we do! No matter what I’m doing, I’m working for God, not men.

Tom Weckesser

September 4 – Life Verses – Colossians 1:16-18

Read Colossians 1:16-18

As most, before we chose to live for Christ, we chose to live for ourselves.

From about 6 years old, singing was a love of mine and at age 10, musical theater became a passion. With my mother also being a singer, she took us to an audition for The Sound of Music. Although I didn’t audition for any role, I got the bug. It was all I wanted to do. To be on that stage, my name in lights, everyone applauding my name. Then it happened, and kept happening. I got cast for role after role, I sang more and more. I was applauded more and more. I went to school in New York City for a semester after my senior year of high school and, like every young girl from a small town with big dreams, as I moved back home, I swore I would be back. But…God had other plans.

For so long I loved the stage because for two and a half hours I could become someone else. For two and half hours I had another name, another past, another story to tell and that fed into my identity.

At the age of 21, when my life changed and turned a complete 180 for Him, this verse was one that spoke volumes to me.  This verse changed my entire perspective of whose name should be in lights and I gave up musical theater.

The letter of Colossians was written by Paul to a small church who forgot their purpose. They needed reassurance of their identity. This verse speaks several truths about finding your purpose. It gives your purpose meaning. Until you know and accept that you were created by God and for God, nothing will make sense. You can’t have a fresh start until Jesus comes first. Knowing your purpose also gives your life and mission motivation. We are consistently motivated to live His mission when we live out our purpose.

This verse is my life verse because it reminds me daily that, whatever I produce with my hands, whenever I serve with the gifts He has given, whatever I say or do, however I act, it is FIRST and foremost for His glory and not my own.

Our purpose starts with Him, ends with Him and He is in between.

I pray that as you read Colossians 1:16-18, you begin to offer up the identity that you cling to and replace it with the purpose that you were made by God and for God.

Kelly Lawson

August 13 – Perseverance – When offended

Read Colossians 3:12-17


I don’t look at our reading today from the lens of being offended, I look at it from the lens of doing the offending.

It prompts me to go before the Lord and ask for forgiveness for all of the times, whether recent or not, that I have not shown the characteristics in these verses. When we are fully surrendered followers of Jesus, there is a different priority that is placed in front of us… people.

If that is our priority, how often do we fall short?

Having been offended with remarks from others with comments ranging from how I look to how I worship, I take it before the Lord. I remember that who I am is WHOSE I am. What someone thinks of my features or the opinions they may have of my expressions in song should hold no weight in comparison to who Jesus says I am:

“Chosen…holy and beloved…”.

How we respond to others who should hold the same standard and priority of life as us is an exact representation of our maturity and walk of faith.

I say this because of what Paul writes to the church of Colossae. 

Here is a church of about 50 who have been struggling with their identity and the world around them screaming false teaching and culture into their lives.

Paul is reminding them of WHOSE they are, what they are capable of because of Christ, that they are to hold their foundation in the word. 

Paul gives us characteristics to actively put on in response to one another, and I will be the first one to admit that I fail at this. The Lord teaches us that His spirit is our helper and is available. It is through His strength, His power, that we can put these on and wear them for, not only the lost, but for our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Something I love about my hometown in Florida is that about 10-20 pastors from many different churches in the county get together each month for fellowship and prayer. These men get together, not out of obligation, but because they know that they are one body, called to bring Jesus to the lost, called to make disciples who make disciples. They are all working toward the same goal. 


Paul is reminding the church of Collosiea and us that we need to dwell within God’s Word. We need to dwell within His truth. If we are surrounded by the noise, lies, opinions, comments of others, words and actions, how will we ever grow into the person He has intended for us to be? 

I challenge you, as the one who has been offended, walk through these verses again: how can you respond back to the person who offended you? How can you respond back to the Lord?

I challenge you, as the one who has offended, walk through these verses again, go before the Lord, surrender your ways and open your life to starting anew with the character you are called to in Christ.

Kelly Lawson