PART 3: JESUS OUR MINISTRY

colossiansTree[5971]PART 3: JESUS OUR MINISTRY- COLOSSIANS 4: 10-18
“10 Aristarchus, who is in prison with me, sends you his greetings, and so does Mark, Barnabas’s cousin. As you were instructed before, make Mark welcome if he comes your way. 11 Jesus (the one we call Justus) also sends his greetings. These are the only Jewish believers among my co-workers; they are working with me here for the Kingdom of God. And what a comfort they have been! 12 Epaphras, a member of your own fellowship and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends you his greetings. He always prays earnestly for you, asking God to make you strong and perfect, fully confident that you are following the whole will of God. 13 I can assure you that he prays hard for you and also for the believers in Laodicea and Hierapolis. 14 Luke, the beloved doctor, sends his greetings, and so does Demas. 15 Please give my greetings to our brothers and sisters[a] at Laodicea, and to Nympha and the church that meets in her house. 16 After you have read this letter, pass it on to the church at Laodicea so they can read it, too. And you should read the letter I wrote to them. 17 And say to Archippus, ‘Be sure to carry out the ministry the Lord gave you.’ 18 HERE IS MY GREETING IN MY OWN HANDWRITING—PAUL. Remember my chains. May God’s grace be with you.” COLOSSIANS 4:10-18 New Living Translation

 

RECAP
*These final paragraphs in this letter are not an afterthought. While they might at first seem to be a random collection of greetings and references to people, there is a common thread. They illustrate real life for those who trust the full revelation of God in Christ and the finished work of Christ on the cross. They remind us that the Christian life is about living together as a community of believers. Chapter 4 shows life has its struggles and problems (for example, Paul’s imprisonment(4v3), and the implicit challenge of speaking to non-believers in 4 v 5-6. Last week we considered two of Paul’s Gospel fellow workers, Tychicus and Onesimus. Today we finish this amazing letter considering the rest of Paul’s “community”, where Paul acknowledges his need for friends and colleagues. 4V11

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READ COLOSSIANS 4:10-11

  1. Aristarchus show us the radical commitment of discipleship. He’s in prison with Paul at that moment for his ministry for Christ.
  2. Mark shows us the power of Christian reconciliation. He had at one point fallen our with Paul (read Acts 15:37-39), but he’s now commended by Paul- and even described as a comfort to him in verse 11.
  3. There is real confidence- confidence that praying to God makes a difference. (v 2 and 12), and confidence that Christian ministry is in essence, about serving the “kingdom of God” v11.
    REFLECTION: What can we learn from them?

 

Read COLOSSIANS 4:12-13
1. Epaphrus (already mentioned in 1:7-8) shows us how to pray. He ‘constantly wrestles in prayer for you’ NIV; ‘constantly struggles for you in prayer’ ERV. This literally means agonising for the church in prayer.
2. Most significant in light of the whole letter is the subject of Epaphras’ prayer in 4 v12: Epaphrus teaches us what to pray: ‘that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured’ NIV; ‘asking God to make you strong and perfect, fully confident that you are following the whole will of God’ NLT. It was precisely this assurance that the Colossian false teachers undermined; and it is precisely this assurance that Paul sought to bolster and stabilise by writing to the Colossian Christians. This is the priority for the church. (read Col 1v7, 1v29-2v1)
REFLECTION: Put into your own words of how the prayer of Epaphrus sums up the big message of the letter to Colossians.
Read Colossians 4:14
A warning – Demas proved unfaithful in the end. (read 2 Timothy 4:10), hence the importance of faithfulness (read Col 1v7, 4v7)
Read Colossians 4:15
Nympha, most likely a woman of means, who hosted the local church in her home, shows us the importance of generosity and hospitality.
Read Colossians 4:16-17
A second warning- Archippus was also, like Demas, in danger of not holding out in his service of Christ. Long-term perseverance is a key quality to look for in role models.
REFLECTION: Paul’s description of his friends (Col 4 v 10-17)focuses on their hard work and service for the gospel. How can we encourage one another to persevere in our service of the Lord, His people and those who do not yet know Him?

 
Colossians 4:18 ‘HERE IS MY GREETING IN MY OWN HANDWRITING—PAUL. Remember my chains. May God’s grace be with you.’
‘The gospel is so clearly Paul’s priority over everything, even his own personal comfort and security. But this hardly means he would not prefer freedom. The request in v 18 to remember is presumably a plea for prayer and solidarity- for how easy it would be for the Colossians to allow shame at his imprisonment to create a reticence to identify as Paul’s brothers and sisters.’ Mark Meynell

CONCLUSION
The following is a concluding quote from Mark Meynell, from his book, Colossians For You. He summarizes the letter beautifully:
‘ GRACE BE WITH YOU. Paul’s final statement might sound like a standard, and even hollow, farewell. But after all we have learned in Colossians, it is far from that. For we have travelled far in the realms of Christ Jesus, the Lord of all. But he is no dictator Caesar, who simply demands that his followers die for him to sustain his reign. As we saw in the introduction, Caesar claimed to offer forgiveness, peace, and provision, and in a limited sense he was able to do that. But Christ actually delivers it– for all eternity. He is God’s King, who was crowned on a cross. His victorious death brings complete forgiveness for every sin, ushers in eternal peace with our Creator, and lavishes upon us the treasures of His heaven. Having reconciled us to our Father, He reconciles us with one another. He truly showers us with his grace.
God’s grace can only provoke our gratitude to God. And our gratitude must surely work out in graciousness to one and all, whether to those who are part of the body, or towards outsiders who ply us with questions.
Grace. Gratitude. Graciousness. This is lordship the like of which the world has never seen. What an extraordinary privilege to know it first hand. So as Christ has shared His grace with us, we, with Paul, share grace with all.’
PRAYER (from Colossians 2:6-7)
Dear Lord, and now, just as we accepted You as our Lord, help us to continue to follow You. May our roots grow down into You, and that our lives will be built on You. Cause our faith to grow strong in the truth we were taught and that we will overflow with thankfulness….in increasing measure. For Your glory and our good, AMEN.
* (Thank you to Andy Mason for his material in Colossians: Alive in Christ, and Mark Meynell for his material in Colossians for You, and Colossians- Confident Christianity, of which a large part of today’s study has been taken)

 

Kathy Larkman

Kathy Larkman, contributor for today’s blog post

This marks the conclusion of COLOSSIANS: ROOTED. Thank you for all the contributors who led us in teaching, and for you, the participant, for joining in to learn to know God better and love Him more through the study of His word and friendship with others in our church community.
Please stay tuned in through the summer on Grace Place where we will be reflecting on what we have learned in Colossians (and other bits and bobs, no doubt). AND, please be praying for Sharon Durant and the team as they prepare for next school year’s study. In the meantime, our love and prayers are with you as we all move forward in these strange times. Remember, in God’s economy, NOTHING IS WASTED!
Lots of love,
Kathy

PART 2: COLOSSIANS 4:7-9

colossiansTree[5971]PART 2: JESUS OUR MINISTRY- COLOSSIANS 4:7-9

READ: Colossians 4:7-9

“7 Tychicus will give you a full report about how I am getting along. He is a beloved brother and faithful helper who serves with me in the Lord’s work. 8 I have sent him to you for this very purpose—to let you know how we are doing and to encourage you. 9 I am also sending Onesimus, a faithful and beloved brother, one of your own people. He and Tychicus will tell you everything that’s happening here.” Colossians 4:7-9 New Living Translation

*These final paragraphs in this letter are not an afterthought. While they might at first seem to be a random collection of greetings and references to people, there is a common thread. They illustrate real life for those who trust the full revelation of God in Christ and the finished work of Christ on the cross. They remind us that the Christian life is about living together as a community of believers.

Verses 7-9 we learn about Paul’s fellow gospel workers who are being sent to Colossae by Paul.
1. Tychicus comes highly recommended and had been sent to encourage the Colossians (also by delivering Paul’s letter to them). He is described in verse 7:
‘beloved brother’– gospel workers aren’t meant to be rivals nor professionals but a network of brothers and sisters working together in love for each other.
‘faithful helper’ [ minister]- (read also 2 Timothy 4:12) – Faithfulness is the characteristic of ministry which comes through time and testing. Tychicus proved this in the long term.
‘serves with me’ [fellow servant] – ‘Servant’ is better translated as ‘slave’. Paul and his team of gospel workers didn’t see themselves as celebrity speakers but as people owned by the Master.
2. Onesimus, although he is a slave (see Philemon), is treated by Paul in the same way as his own associates in ministry- and is more importantly, described:
‘faithful and beloved brother’ – Here we see the radical effects of the gospel on relationships and social status. (Read also Colossians 3:11 and 3:22-4:1) The marginalised and disregarded become our brother and sister in Christ. Being converted to Christ changes everything about who we are.
REFLECTION QUESTIONS:
1. What do these verses teach us about how to pray for our spiritual leaders?
2. Are there believers in your context who you might not treat as dearly loved brothers and sisters? How might you change that?
Prayer: Thank you for Lord for giving us these examples in the scripture today to teach and remind us that we are to live out our lives for Christ with other believers. Help us to be faithful to the gospel by loving our brothers and sisters in Christ. Help us pray for one another as live counter-culturally for the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen

*(Thank you to Andy Mason for his material in Colossians: Alive in Christ, of which a large part of today’s study has been taken)

 

8 BIBLE STUDY AND NOTES- COL. 4:5-18 PART 1: JESUS OUR MINISTRY COLOSSIANS 4:5-6

Kathy Larkman

Kathy Larkman, contributor for today’s blog post

8 BIBLE STUDY AND NOTES- COLOSSIANS 4:5-18
PART 1: JESUS OUR MINISTRY COLOSSIANS 4:5-6

For the last few weeks, Victoria has led us beautifully with what Paul is teaching about building authentic Christian communities in Colossians 3:16-4:1.
Last week, Paul turned his attention to prayer within the context of community and ministry in sharing the gospel(Col 4:2-4). Victoria concluded ‘to pray for one another to be prayerful in our relationship with God, to be readers of the Word and sharers of the Gospel, like Paul’. If you have yet to read and ponder these studies, I would encourage you to do so. It is clear and very helpful in understanding and applying what Paul is teaching us in this amazing letter. They are on this CBC Grace Place Website, under the heading of 2019-2020 Colossians: Rooted. 

Paul is drawing the letter to a close. When the Gospel bears fruit in our lives we will be dependent on God through prayer, as we learned last week. We need to keep this in  mind as Paul continues to write that, as we depend on God, we are encouraged to actively seek opportunities to proclaim the gospel to the world around, working together and standing firm as a body of believers.

“Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be gracious and attractive[seasoned with salt], so that you will have the right response for everyone.” Colossians 4:5-6 New Living Translation

Most believers spend large amounts of time with people who don’t believe in Christ, and so these verses about how we’re to live among outsiders are immediately relevant for our day-to-day lives. These verses come right after Paul has been speaking of his mission to declare Christ (4:3) – with the point being that believers are also called to declare Christ.

1. Be Wise and Recognize the Sense of Urgency – read also Colossians 1:9-10, 2:3, 2 Peter 3:9

Wisdom is summed up in Christ. Paul prays that the Colossians might have wisdom to live lives worthy of Christ. Being wise toward unbelievers then, involves putting Christ on display as we live for Him. What does that look like? Mark Meynell: “That must in part mean being sensitive to the circumstances and concerns of those we are seeking to reach. Of course many of us (myself included) find it much easier to do this than to ‘make the most of every opportunity.’ We can use our sensitivity as an excuse to overlook the opportunities that come our way.” This is not an easy thing to do; that is why we need each other to encourage, pray, and spur one another on in sharing Christ. Paul wants us recognize the sense of urgency and ask the Lord for these opportunities.

Reflection Questions:

How can unbelievers see the wisdom of your life today? What will draw them to Christ through you?

What practical steps can we take to ensure that we pray with these priorities? That we are proclaiming the mystery of Christ clearly?
2. Conversation: Full of Grace- read also 1 Peter 3:15
“The key thought is grace: for if the message is one of grace, then the way it is communicated must be characterized by graciousness.”Mark Meynell. It may be helpful to look at what conversation would look like if it were characterized by the opposite of grace. Some expressions may be ‘know it all,’ sarcastic, arrogant, critical, flippant, self seeking…..even unkind and angry. These expressions are not the fruit of the message of the gospel. We need to speak in a way that engages people and the excitement of the good news. Our conversation is the medium for the gospel message. How we converse also conveys the gospel message. People need to see the freedom we increasingly have in Christ, not a killjoy! This is indeed a challenge. We need to remind each other this: “God is the one who opens doors (v3). God is the one whose message is being preached-He kept it secret until the right time to open up the mystery of Christ’ to the Gentile world (v. 3); He gives the opportunities to proclaim it (v5) and by implication is the one who provides answers to every question. (v 6)” Mark Meynell Thank you Lord!

Reflection Questions:
What do you spend your time talking about with unbelievers?

What practical steps can we take to ensure that we fill our conversation with the salt of grace?
Prayer: Thank you Lord, that You give us everything we need for life and godliness. Forgive us when we are not wise and gracious in our conversation and dealings with unbelievers. Continue to make us more like our Lord Jesus Christ and that you so capture our hearts to be able and willing to share the hope and freedom we have in Christ. Amen.

PRAYING THE GOOD NEWS OF JESUS PART 3

vicky kelly

Victoria Kelly, Contributor for this month’s Colossians study 

Praying the Good News of Jesus (Colossians 4:2-4) Part 3

‘Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should.’ (Colossians 4: 2-4)

Over the past few weeks we have looked at Jesus, being the true focus for our lives here on this earth (and with eyes upward to Heaven also) and therefore the impact this should have on how we do our daily lives with those in our household and beyond. We do this by being in the Word (v16), but now Paul instructs us to be equipped by also praying. We are in a relationship with our Father, and we are called and instructed to talk to him.

We all have relationships in our lives. Whether that is being a wife, a mother, a sister, a daughter, an auntie, a niece, a friend. Due to our current circumstance of the Corona virus our relationships have potentially been tested as we have been cut off from many of the people (friends, family, colleagues) that we would normally see and socialise with. I don’t know about you, but I find that hard. Where I would normally take for granted that I would see certain people for play-dates, birthdays, at church on a Sunday or a bible study on a Monday, Wednesday or whenever it is you meet, this has been cut off. The physical meeting of people has had to stop. And I’ve hated it. I’m incredibly close to my sister so not seeing her has been tough. I’ve missed my niece’s 1st birthday and my sister had a potentially devastating accidently when she fell down the stairs holding her baby. I wanted to be there physically to support her and the family, but this virus has meant we haven’t been able to. But my relationship with her and the family and my friends who I would meet with for bible study or play-dates, hasn’t changed. Why? Because, thank God(!) we live in a day and age where we can talk to each other. Whether it is by Zoom or text message or a phone call or even by… Post (who has enjoyed receiving or sending good old snail-mail over this time?). If anything it has made me appreciate the relationships more and I’ve wanted to invest time into communication, especially because I cannot see them…

Enter Paul with his wise imperative and to deepen our relationship with the MOST important one above all. Paul delights in his relationship with God and he wants us to do the same. He tells us how to pray and what to pray. He starts the verse by telling us to ‘devote’. It means to give all or most of our time to something/someone. Oh! A challenge straight away at the first word in the verse. This is to be steadfast and persistent. We will always give time to what we think is important. It will be effortless,it will be intentional. As we are a changed people because of Jesus, prayerfulness will be motivated by the response to God’s grace (Col 3:16-17). Are we being intentional to pray to grow our relationship with Jesus? In Romans 12:12, Paul says that we should be, “rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, [and] devoted to prayer.” We can be thankful in our prayers in any circumstance, because we are thankful for the gift of salvation and that Jesus accomplished everything at the cross for us.
We are told to be watchful prayers too. To be alert in our prayers. To be equipped. Ephesians 6:10-18 tells us to put on the full armour of God (I’d encourage you to read it out loud and imagine putting on what it tells us… It gets us ready for the very real battle we face spiritually – daily!).
Peter tells us to be on alert for the devil is ready to devour us like a roaring lion (1 Pet 5:8). If we are complacent and drop our spiritual weapons (prayer and the Word) it is far easier for the enemy to attack and defeat. We are called to be on guard and prayerful and alert, so when he attacks, we are ready. But Jesus himself warns of our weakness and why we should be alert in our prayers also, “Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Matt 26:41).

So what do we pray for? Pray for God’s kingdom to expand through the spread of the gospel. Notice how Paul, although in prison, he is wanting to spread the ‘mystery of Christ’ (not that it is mysterious, but how it once was hidden and now has been revealed): the good news! He isn’t reflecting on the depravity of the situation he is in, but is Heaven focused. This doesn’t mean we cannot come to God in prayer with the small details of our life, he cares about those. 1 Peter 5:7 says, “Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.” Yet, the primary focus for Paul isn’t self focused, but Jesus focused and this means spreading the gospel. So we too can pray for this. For those on the frontline of spreading the good news of Jesus around the world but also for ourselves too, as we evangelise with friends, family and colleagues in our own mission fields. Paul is also asking for those opportunities of ‘open doors’ (v3), but he recognises it is not in his strength. It is God who opens the door and we are the ones to walk through it and seize the opportunities to share the gospel. In Romans it says, ‘For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.’ (1:16) It is our duty out of love for God and love for the truth that we share the gospel which will enable people to hear of salvation and therefore turn to God.

Finally, Paul asks for clarity in his talk, ‘Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should’ (Col 4:4). Clarity in presenting the gospel to those who are yet to hear and understand the message of Christ. The gospel is no longer a mystery, but a clear message (Col 1:26) and he wants to share this without confusion and complication. The Word of God, is clearly his treasure. Is it our treasure? Are we as keen to protect it and therefore pass it on to those around us and beyond?

Let’s pray for one another to be prayerful in our relationship with God, to be readers of the Word and sharers of the Gospel, like Paul.

Questions for reflection

1) Paul leads by example when it comes to praying. What are the main ways Paul reveals to us when it comes to HOW to pray? WHAT are the key things he prays for?
2) Despite the costs involved, why can we be confident when we share the gospel with others? (Romans 6:23; Ephesians 2: 8-9)
3) How can we devote ourselves to prayer? What practical things can we put in place to ensure we do this?

Our team is praying for you as you get with your study buddies to dig through these treasures in His Word. See you next week!