We pray that you'll live well for the Master, making him proud of you as you work hard in his orchard. As you learn more and more how God works, you will learn how to do your work.
We pray that you'll have the strength to stick it out over the long haul - not the grim strength of gritting your teeth but the glory-strength God gives. It is strength that endures the unendurable and spills over into joy,
thanking the Father who makes us strong enough to take part in everything bright and beautiful that he has for us.
God rescued us from dead-end alleys and dark dungeons. He's set us up in the kingdom of the Son he loves so much,
the Son who got us out of the pit we were in, got rid of the sins we were doomed to keep repeating.
We look at this Son and see the God who cannot be seen. We look at this Son and see God's original purpose in everything created.
For everything, absolutely everything, above and below, visible and invisible, rank after rank after rank of angels - everything got started in him and finds its purpose in him.
He was there before any of it came into existence and holds it all together right up to this moment.
And when it comes to the church, he organizes and holds it together, like a head does a body.
So spacious is he, so roomy, that everything of God finds its proper place in him without crowding.
Not only that, but all the broken and dislocated pieces of the universe - people and things, animals and atoms - get properly fixed and fit together in vibrant harmonies, all because of his death, his blood that poured down from the Cross.
You yourselves are a case study of what he does. At one time you all had your backs turned to God, thinking rebellious thoughts of him, giving him trouble every chance you got.
But now, by giving himself completely at the Cross, actually dying for you, Christ brought you over to God's side and put your lives together, whole and holy in his presence.
You don't walk away from a gift like that! You stay grounded and steady in that bond of trust, constantly tuned in to the Message, careful not to be distracted or diverted. There is no other Message - just this one. Every creature under heaven gets this same Message. I, Paul, am a messenger of this Message.
I want you to know how glad I am that it's me sitting here in this jail and not you. There's a lot of suffering to be entered into in this world - the kind of suffering Christ takes on. I welcome the chance to take my share in the church's part of that suffering.
When I became a servant in this church, I experienced this suffering as a sheer gift, God's way of helping me serve you, laying out the whole truth.
This mystery has been kept in the dark for a long time, but now it's out in the open.
God wanted everyone, not just Jews, to know this rich and glorious secret inside and out, regardless of their background, regardless of their religious standing. The mystery in a nutshell is just this: Christ is in you, therefore you can look forward to sharing in God's glory. It's that simple. That is the substance of our Message.
We preach Christ, warning people not to add to the Message. We teach in a spirit of profound common sense so that we can bring each person to maturity. To be mature is to be basic. Christ! No more, no less.