March 23rd, 2015 | By admin

What Shall I Be?

Colossians 4:2-6

    The theme verses for Colossians are 2:6-7. Paul writes, there, that we have been taught in Christ and we need to walk in Him. Therefore, we are to live a different life. Knowing that, then, What Shall I Be?

    If I have learned Christ and I am baptized into Him and I am seeking the things that are above (3:1-2), here are a few more behaviors I will do:


    There are only two commands, two imperatives in our passage: “Continue” (NKJV) and “Walk” (vs 5). These two commands, then, govern the subsequent thoughts and verses.

    So, verse 2: “In prayer” (put first in the original language for emphasis), devote yourselves. This verb means “to persist obstinately in…, to continue to do something with intense effort, with the possible implication of [praying, p.h.] despite difficulty.”

    We need to be people of prayer. And in all of your praying, Paul says, be sure you do not forget: “being vigilant” (a participle, showing that it occurs at the same time as the main verb) in your prayers with thanksgiving.



Verse 3 begins with a participle (not translated as a participle in some translations), which shows that it is part of the previous sentence. Paul’s sentence is: “Continue earnestly in prayer …praying also for us.”


But the point here is that Paul wants the Christians in Colossae to pray that God “would open to us a door for the word, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in chains, that I may make it manifest as I ought to speak.”


You and I need to be evangelistic.



Connected with that point is verse 5. Again, in the original “in wisdom” is first in the sentence showing that Paul’s emphasis is on that point. “In wisdom” walk toward those who are outside. Here, he is referring to those who are “outside” the church, towards non-Christians.


One way we do that, Paul says, is to “redeem the time.” That is, “make the most of our opportunities.” If we see an opening to direct a conversation to the Bible or to Christ, to spiritual matters, take that opportunity.


You and I need to “think souls.” We need to be wise toward outsiders.



I mentioned that the verb that begins verse 5, “walk,” also governs verse 6. There is no finite verb in verse 6 so “Walk” governs this verb as well. So, Paul is saying in verse 6, “In wisdom, walk… your words always with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.”


First, your words should be with grace. Grace is “unmerited favor.” That means if someone does notdeserve a kind, gentle answer, give them one anyway.

    Second, let your words be seasoned with salt. Salt has the impact on food that makes it easier to eat; it gives it flavor. So, in your words with others, especially non-Christians, make your words easy to hear.

    Be prayerful & thankful; be evangelistic and be wise toward non-Christians; control your tongue.


February 16th, 2015 | By admin

by Paul Holland

John 12:23-33

     “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him” (John 12:24-26).


    The context of this statement is Jesus moving toward the cross. Non-Jews have stepped into the picture (verses 20-22) and asked if they could see Jesus.

     The brief sermon – we might call it a devotional – in verses 23-28 – are a call to Christ’s followers to deny themselves and follow Him, just as He is about to deny Himself in His effort to follow the Father.

    Observe verse 23 – ““The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.” Jesus, in fact, came to earth to bring glory and honor to His Father in Heaven. And He did that by serving Him.

     We are to glorify the Father and we do that by bearing fruit. Observe verse 24 where Jesus uses an illustration of the wheat. If the grain falls to the earth and dies, it is able to produce more wheat.

     The Swartz Creek church of Christ exists to glorify Jesus Christ by serving Him as He directs us.


    This idea of glorifying the Father involved self-sacrifice on the part of Jesus. Notice in verse 27: “Now is my soul troubled.” No doubt Jesus meditated on the sacrifice He was about to endure. Would Jesus ask the Father to keep Him from sacrificing Himself? No. Not if that’s what serving the Father involved. Jesus goes on to say: “But for this purpose I have come to this hour.”

     Now that He was at the cross, is He going to somehow stop the whole forward momentum of God’s eternal plan just because His soul was troubled? Certainly not. That’s when you learn if you are really in the business of serving God.

     We glorify God by sacrificing ourselves on the altar of service to Him. Notice verse 25: “Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” This leads us to the last point…


Jesus interprets the message from the Father to the audience (vs 30). The coming crucifixion was not going to be judgment on the Son, Jesus Christ, for His sins. The subsequent resurrection would be a glorification of the Son for His willingness to die for our sins!

We must die to self if we are to glorify Jesus Christ. This self-sacrifice carries with it a more intense picture ofdying to self. The picture of the grain of wheat in verse 24 suggests dying to self. The idea of losing our life in verse 25 suggests dying to self. The ideas of serving Christ and following Him in verse 26 suggests the idea of dying to self.

     We will bear fruit and the Swartz Creek church of Christ will continue to grow, to touch the lives of other people through our works and ministries, and lead the lost to Christ, to understand and obey the Gospel, if we will sacrifice ourselves on the altar of service to God.


December 15th, 2014 | By admin

by Paul Holland

Genesis 6-8

     The story of Noah’s ark is very popular with kids. But, as you would guess, there is a deeper significance to building the ark than just to entertain and “wow” children. Noah building the ark is a study of the grace of God!

 GRACE RECEIVED – Genesis 6:

    The account of Noah begins (vs 1-2) with an emphasis on how wicked the world was (vs 5-7). Count how many times Moses emphasizes Man’s wickedness in verses 5-7 and 11-13.

     But, the text says, “Noah found favor [grace] in the eyes of the Lord.” Noah found grace in the eyes of God. Why? Simply saying that Noah found grace tells us two things: 1.) Noah did not deserve what God was about to do for him. That means that Noah was not sinless. Noah was not perfect. But: 2.) It shows us that Noah did respond to God’s instructions in some way with some degree of faith.

     We see this in verse 9: “Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his time; Noah walked with God.” Noah knew there were certain expectations from God about how he was supposed to live and Noah did those things to the best of his ability.

     Notice how Noah responds to God’s grace – “Noah did this; he did all that God commanded him.” Noah obeyed the grace of God. If we understand 6:3 correctly, Noah had 120 years to build the ark and during that time, 2 Peter 2:5 tells us, Noah also preached to his generation to repent and respond to God in order to avoid the coming destruction. So, God’s gracepreserves Noah


    Once Noah and his family and all the animals were on the ark, God shut the door. God’s Spirit will not always be patient with man. When God decides, in His infinite wisdom, to bring His justice, then the time to respond to God’s grace is over. Noah, his family, and those animals were on the inside of that door. They were going to be preserved from the destructive waters of the flood.

     Because Noah obeyed the grace of God, then God preserved Noah (7:21-23). They had responded to the grace of God with obedience, so God’s grace preserved them. But, God’s grace did not end once they were on the ark. God’s grace extended beyond the ark…


    Noah and his family spent almost an entire year on that ark! God preserved him on the ark. Because of Noah’s faithful, obedient response, God extends grace to Noah.

     Notice in 8:20 that the first thing Noah does when he gets off the ark is to build an altar and worship God! Yet again, the response to grace is obedience; it is worship. That’s what Noah does and because he responds to God, God extends His grace yet again (8:20-9:3).

     God extends His grace to Noah by: 1.) Promising to never again curse the ground for the sake of man; 2.) He will never destroy every living creature again; 3.) The climate will largely stay consistent; 4.) Noah and his children can once again have children and grandchildren; 5.) All living creatures may be eaten as food.

     How wonderful is the grace of God! God extends His grace to us. We must obey that grace.


November 21st, 2014 | By admin

by Katt Anderson

Through the years I’ve seen a lot of teens playing with fire. Not the real flames, but a fire that can ruin their lives forever. We’ve talked in the past about things that can happen in your life that makes an impact on your future. I know older ladies read this blog, and I’m so thankful for your willingness to listen to what we have to say. What I am about to write can also pertain to the older ladies.

Recently, I was shocked to learn of online dating at the college level. We’ve all heard the success stories that are told on television about couples that found each other via dating services online. What we don’t hear is the horror stories of those who have terrible experiences. I don’t know the ratio between those who are sincere and those who want to take advantage of an innocent person, but I’m sure it’s much higher than we can imagine. College girls fall in that innocent category. Even on so-called “Christian” dating services there are some people who are not Christians and are willing to take advantage of someone.

It’s so easy to write on the internet. You can lie and embellish the truth to make people think you’re something you’re not. So many young ladies are gullible and believe because they say they’re a Christian that they are. No so. There are a lot of men who try to trick a young woman into thinking the opposite of what they are. Ephesians 4:14 tell us, “that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men,in the cunning craftiness by which they lie in wait to deceive.”

Trickery is as old as time itself. Eve was tricked by the serpent, Joshua was tricked by the Gibeonites, but we should be able to learn when someone is making something sound too good to be true. No one is immune to someone trying to make them believe something that isn’t true.

I’m very fearful for young ladies in the world today. I’m also fearful for older ladies in the world today. What I want to say is to be careful who you put your trust in. Make sure they are who they say they are. Be cautious who you trust.


November 17th, 2014 | By admin

by Paul Holland

Luke 17:11-19

    One distinction between Christians and non-Christians is understanding the need to be thankful, even in the middle of suffering (1 Peter 1:7-8; Hebrews 12:11). Paul said that the departure from the faith happens because of a lack of thankfulness (2 Timothy 3:1-2).

    Let’s study the nine unthankful lepers from Luke 17:11-19 in order to learn from their example – let’s be like the lone thankfulleper.

WE ALL NEED HELP – 17:11-12:

    These men “stood at a distance” because they were lepers. One was “unclean” from the point of view of race (Samaritan) as well as unclean from the point of view of health (they were lepers).

    All of us have problems. We are concerned about many things that we cannot do anything about. Nobody lives life without problems. That’s why we need help.


    The lepers recognize in Jesus the attribute of being a teacher and that He has the ability to heal them. So, they cry out or pray for mercy from Jesus. “Mercy” is found 119 times in the NASV. Mercy “describes the emotional response and resulting action after encountering the suffering or affliction of another” (Mounce, 447). So the lepers cry out for the “kindness” of Jesus to heal them.

    God causes the sun to shine on the evil and on the good and sends the rain on the just and the unjust. Why? Because He is a God of mercy.


    One of the ten healed returns. One. One glorified God with a loud voice. One. The majority of the time, the majority are in error. One. Jesus healed all of them but not all were thankful.

The ten were blessed. The ten were healed. The ten experienced the goodness and kindness of God. The ten tasted the heavenly gift. The ten tasted the good word of God and the power of the age to come. But one returned. One glorified God. One gave thanks to Jesus.

But not only that but giving thanks to God leads us to give thanks to others around us. If I am thankful to God for my wife, I will tell God. Then, I will tell my wife. When we show/express thankfulness, it communicates that we value that other person. One of the most important needs that we have as human beings is the need to feel valued, the need to feel appreciated. For over twenty five years, Dr. Nick Stinnett at the University of Alabama has studied what makes marriages strong and one of the six major qualities that make families strong is the quality of appreciation.


    Jesus told the Samaritan – “Stand up and go; your faith has made you well.” It seems here that Jesus passes from the physical blessing to the spiritual blessing (just as He did before in Mark 5).

    Being thankful brings further rewards. With God, it brings further blessings. With our spouse, it will strengthen our relationship with the other and motivate him/her to do more. With our employer, it may bring added honor, responsibilities, even promotions. With our employees, it lights a fire under them to work more and harder – to go the extra mile.

    Take home message: In everything, to everyone – give thanks.


November 14th, 2014 | By admin

by Timothy Hall

Harry Potter fans will remember a scene from the first installment of that movie series in which a game of chess – Wizard’s Chess, to be exact – becomes more than just a game. Harry and his friends are lucky to make it through the “game” alive.

By definition, a game is something we play for enjoyment and (usually) relaxation. An evening with no plans often leads to a pleasant time with Monopoly, Rook, or working a jigsaw puzzle. One of my favorites in my younger years was Battleship.

Battleship became a battle recently for a 68-year-old Utah man and his 18-year- old daughter. After accusing her of cheating, she got up to leave, prompting the man to grab her by her hair and point a rifle at her. Needless to say, the man is now in custody after being charged with suspicion of intoxication and aggravated assault.

Someone has observed that Americans generally play at their work and work at their play. From my observations, our society does indeed take games seriously. Stories of fans flying into a rage following the loss of a game, or brawls between fans or players following a hard-fought contest are becoming more common.

Is it a competitive nature that leads to such game-time strife, or is it something more serious? James’ words may help us diagnose the problem: “But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic” (James 3:14,15). The traits of envy and self-seeking are clearly present in many of the confrontations we read about. This passage shows how wrong this frame of mind is.

James continued: “But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace” (James 3:17,18). How much better to play games with people like this!

Those who have trouble remembering that “it’s just a game” may react to this message angrily. They would do well to consider something James wrote earlier in his letter: “So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God” (James 1:19,20). Ironic, isn’t it, how a quick-tempered person gets mad when someone suggests they might have a problem controlling their temper?

You and I have much more leisure time than our grandparents had. Games are likely going to be a part of our lives. Let’s approach our diversions the way we should approach every other aspect of our lives: with God’s wisdom guiding us.

Come to the light God offers! Study His word, the Bible. Worship Him in spirit and truth (John 4:24). Get in touch with us if you’d like to discuss these ideas further.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Copyright, 2013, Timothy D. Hall. All scripture quotations, unless otherwise noted, are from the New King James Version (Copyright, 1990, Thomas Nelson, Inc.).
“LightGrams” is produced by the Central Church of Christ, 2722 Oakland Avenue, Johnson City, Tennessee, 37601, and is written by Tim Hall, minister. It is sent free of charge every Thursday to all who request it. To subscribe or to receive more information, write to “Tim@GraceMine.org” (our E-mail address), to the U.S. mail address above, or call (423) 282-1571.

Permission to reproduce and/or use the messages for noncommercial purposes is freely granted provided the messages are not altered.

Visit my web site — http://joycaster.com/


Timothy Hall, Minister
Central Church of Christ


November 7th, 2014 | By admin

by Katt Anderson

What are your plans for the future? You may say you have a definite plan for what you want to do with your life. Many professions are opened to you each day. You may think you want to be a doctor, a lawyer, a teacher or other professional,  but what about your plans for your life? Your eternal life?

We don’t like to think about dying, but we will all do it. As a teen, now is the time to prepare your spiritual life. Now is the time to start learning more about what a Christian must do to enter heaven. In the book, Graduation to Glory, the author says she thought heaven was very far away inhabited by a few people, he parents, her grandparents and others who had died. She never thought of it being a real place until her twelve year old son died. I’m not trying to scare you, but young people die. Do you know where you stand with God?

My mother’s parents never went to church. I can remember seeing my grandfather read his Bible on Sunday mornings as we walked to the little country church, but he missed the fellowship of Christians. I can only remember him being in a church twice, once at Christmas and the other when he died. Sad, so sad.

My grandmother began coming to church with us after he died and rededicated her life to Christ. She was at every service as long as her health permitted. She even taught people to become Christians.

It’s sad they didn’t start learning about what to do to become a Christian in their early years. They probably attended church, in fact I know my grandmother did, but somewhere along the way, they slipped out of the habit.

When God created the earth, it was planned. He didn’t look at what he did the first day and say, “Well, I’ve done this, what next?” No. He knew where he was going with the creation. God knew Christ would have to come to earth. It was in the plan. Like God had a plan, we need a plan today. To make a plan work, you must be diligent about it. You mist enact on the plan. A plan starts with a habit. We enrich the habit each day and the plan is acted upon.

I made a plan over a year ago to read the Bible each day. That’s not much. It probably takes a few minutes each morning, but I can’t get my work done unless I read my Bible. It started as a habit of getting up a few minutes earlier each morning and reading the Bible. Simple.

Since then, I’ve made plans to not think bad thoughts about people, and especially not to repeat what I think. That’s a little harder and each day I’m saying, “Get thee behind me Satan.” That’s a harder challenge, but I’m praying about it. I’m in a very stressful business and not everyone thinks like I do. With God’s help, I’m making progress.

Plan now in your early years to study God’s word, say nice things, work hard, love everyone and become a Christian. These are not difficult things to do. Pray about them and God will help you if your plans are right. Life is not easy, but it can be enjoyable with the help of the Lord.


November 3rd, 2014 | By admin

by Steve Higginbotham
In 1693, Thomas Shepherd wrote the song entled, “Must Jesus Bear The Cross Alone.” Two of the verses of that song read as follows:
Must Jesus bear the cross alone,
And all the world go free?
No, there’s a cross for everyone,
And there’s a cross for me.
The consecrated cross I’ll bear,
Till he shall set me free,
And then go home to wear,
For there’s a crown for me.
I like that song for several reasons, but one is that it teaches one’s cross comes before one’s crown.” That fundamental truth seems to have been lost to many people, for how often do you hear of people giving up and quitting when difficulty arises?
How often have you heard of preachers who quit preaching, elders who quit shepherding, deacons who quit serving, Bible teachers who quit teaching, and Chrisans who quit following Jesus because of some difficult circumstance? It happens far too frequently than it should. Let someone hurt one’s feelings and he quits. Let someone criticize one’s work, and he quits. Let someone forget to thank one for his work, and he quits.
The common thread that runs through all of these situaons is that someone has forgotten that one must bear a cross before he is privileged to wear a crown! Don’t lose sight of this truth. Work comes before rest. Sacrifice comes before reward. Struggle comes before victory. And humility comes before exaltaon (2 Cor. 4:17).
So what about you? Are you bearing your cross in this life, or are you spending your time kicked back, daydreaming about how your crown is going to fit? Let’s get to work. There’s much to do. We have a cross to bear. Or, must Jesus bear the cross alone, and all the world go free? No, there’s a cross for everyone, and there’s a cross for me.
—Steve Higginbotham, MercEmail, February 3, 2014


October 31st, 2014 | By admin

by Paul Holland

Psalm 126

    We are heading into the season of holidays. It begins with Halloween when you fill up with candy corn, my favorite vegetable. For our family, Jewell’s birthday is around this time as well as we fill up on birthday cake and ice cream. Then at the end of November, we have Thanksgiving and our family likes turkey. It seems like you barely get all that food digested when Christmas rolls around. A week later is New Year’s and more good food.

    This season is the season of thanksgiving, giving, and joy.

    Psalm 126 is a psalm of joy, based, as it is, in the return of the Jews from exile in Babylon where their families had been for 70 years. Let’s take a look at this psalm.


    Verse 1 – “The captive ones” sets this psalm in the context of an exile, probably the Babylonian exile. Observe that the author recognizes that it is the Lord who brought them back from exile. The Jews knew they did not deserve to be returned to their land. They knew they had been guilty of sin, idolatry, ungodliness. But God, in His mercy, brought them back to their land.

    Verse 2a – This joy brought laughter to their mouths and joyful shouting to their tongue. Most of us like to laugh. Sorrow comes but joy can come afterward. Jesus endured the cross, despising the shame because of thejoy that was set before Him (Heb. 12:2).


Verse 2b – When the Jews had returned to Palestine, the news was spread abroad that Israel’s God had brought them back. They gave glory to the God of heaven. What had been done among God’s people was talked about among those who were not God’s people.

Verse 3 – In this verse, the author agrees with the Gentiles, the nations, that God had done great things for them. For that, they were glad (cf. James 1:17).

    When we experience wonderful blessings in our lives, we need to let people know that we believe these blessings are from God. They are not due to our strength, our talent, our education, our skills. They are a blessing from God.


    Verse 4 – In this verse, the author prays and asks God to bring them back from their captivity and restore them in a plentiful way, with bountiful blessings, as the “streams in the south.” The “streams in the south” would refer to the streams that receive all the rain and melted snow from the streams and mountains upstream. That is how we picture the blessings of God.

    Clearly, when we experience times of sorrow, we need to count our many blessings, listing them one by one. “Our God is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us” (Eph. 3:20).

    Verse 5 – Because of God’s plentiful blessings, you might sow in tears but you will reap with joyful shouting. God has a way of turning our negative experiences, our run of bad luck, into blessings that we could not have imagined (cf. Matthew 5:3-4).

    In the context of the psalm, this sowing in tears likely refers to the tears shed by the faithful Jews as they repented of the idolatry that took them into exile in the first place. Now, they are rejoicing, reaping the results of that repentance – a restored relationship with God.


    Verse 6 – This is an elaboration on verse 5 but ties back in to verse 2. If you weep while you sow, God will cause you to come again with a shout of joy, bringing your harvest with you. Good things come to those who wait on the Lord.

    As Christians, once we have died with Christ in baptism (Rom. 6:3-4), we will also reap the joyful harvest of an eternal life through His resurrection!

    Don’t give up when sorrow falls. Trust in God and His harvest of blessings will bring you joy.

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