Closing words

Now, we read the final verse from Colossians (NIV): “I, Paul, write this greeting in my own hand. Remember my chains. Grace be with you.

I agree with Selwyn when he says: “One of the greatest evidences of spiritual maturity is the desire, when under personal pressure or pain, to still reach out and give to others. (Paul) in the midst of overwhelming difficulties – his final thought is for others.”

On looking back over the last two months – which was your favourite verse from Paul’s letter to the Colossians? Was it verse 3:11 ‘Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.”  The verse mentioned by Selwyn today – and his question: ‘We are all in all to Christ, but is Christ all in all to us?’  Is a question that we should perhaps ask ourselves before we go to sleep each night after we have reviewed our daily activities and think about the times we may have gone our own way and not God’s way!

For me, these following verses are great (NIV) 1:15-20 (NIV): ” He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.”

And, finally these two great verses 2:13-14 (NIV): “When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross.”

It’s these verses and others like them which gives us an assurance of eternal life – having all our sins forgiven – not just some sins, but all – and; our good works are not taken into account when Jesus made peace between us and God by His blood – shed on the cross.

What stood out for you – as we worked through Colossians over the past two months?

 

Say ‘No’ to the marginal

Today, Selwyn focuses on Colossians 4:17 (NIV): “Tell Archippus: ‘See to it that you complete the work you have received in the Lord.‘”

He writes: ‘Was Archippus, I Wonder, the kind of man who allowed himself to be so absorbed by the marginal that he had little drive left for the central issues of life? … The temptation to do the easier things and not to follow through on the (real) issues plagues us all.”

I think it’s important that we constantly go back to Our Lord, in prayer, and seek His help and confirmation that we are addressing the central issues and have not wondered down an interesting side alley (to us) but which leads to a dead-end. Another clue that we may be absorbed by marginal issues will be a lack of success and an associated lack of joy and peace – there’s often a lot of friction and lack of progress because we are working ‘against the grain’. Of course – we can and do, experience difficulties when we are working on the important tasks we have received from the Lord – but, often there is the quiet assurance that we will eventually complete the task with the Holy Spirit’s help.

Jesus loves us – He will always help those who abide in Him and seek His help – in that, we can trust our lives! Do you agree?

Final greetings

Colossians 4:14-16 (NIV): “Our dear friend Luke, the doctor, and Demas send greetings. Give my greetings to the brothers at Laodicea, and to Nympha and the church in her house.

After this letter has been read to you, see that it is also read in the church of the Laodiceans and that you in turn read the letter from Laodicea.”

Selwyn tells us: “Paul asks that his letter be read in the Laodicean church as well, and the Colossians in turn were to read the letter from Laodicea. Obviously Paul also wanted the Laodicean believers to be aware of possible threats to their faith. This exchange of letters shows the importance of reading all we can. The more Scripture we absorb the stronger our defences against false teaching will be.”

Another point we can take from these verses is that Paul’s letters contain general truths which are applicable to different churches; and, also – different times. We cannot say that Paul’s letters were only relevant to the culture of his day – theses spiritual truths never change – even if the culture of the various human audiences change over time. God is the same God – yesterday, today and tomorrow – His truth never changes! 

More names on list

Weare now close to the end of Paul’s letter to the Colossians – doesn’t two months fly?

Colossians 4:10-13 (NIV): “My fellow prisoner Aristarchus sends you his greetings, as does Mark, the cousin of Barnabas. (You have received instructions about him; if he comes to you, welcome him.) Jesus, who is called Justus, also sends greetings. These are the only Jews among my fellow workers for the kingdom of God, and they have proved a comfort to me. Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends greetings. He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured.I vouch for him that he is working hard for you and for those at Laodicea and Hierapolis.”

I highlighted the sentence above because of the words ‘fully assured’: ask yourself – ‘fully assured of what’? These words make all the difference in the way we live our life for Jesus. Do you agree?

I liked Selwyn’s conclusion: “There is no doubt in my mind that the secret of Epaphras’ spiritual success lay in his prayer life. He was great in soul because he prayed much, and because he prayed with the unselfishness which marked all he did. Earnest and persistent prayer was the secret of his sanctity. That secret is available to us all.”

If it’s the only message that I ever successfully deliver on this site, which is taken to heart – it is the message, that to build a relationship with our God – the one sure way is prayer (communication)!

 

Paul – a people person

Colossians 4:7-9 (NIV): “Tychicus will tell you all the news about me. He is a dear brother, a faithful minister and fellow servant in the Lord. I am sending him to you for the express purpose that you may know about our circumstances and that he may encourage your hearts. He is coming with Onesimus, our faithful and dear brother, who is one of you. They will tell you everything that is happening here.”

As Selwyn says in today’s study; Paul ‘cared deeply for those whom he counted as friends.’ You can see that in the above verses.

Not much to add to what Selwyn has written – but I do like the prayer: “Father, I too would be a well-rounded person. Help me submerge my will and affection in a larger (God’s) Will and Affection, for it is only then that I can expect to attain wholeness and loveliness of character. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”

The right to say ‘No’

Colossians 4:5-6 (NIV): “Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”

I think, Selwyn is right when he says: “Evangelism should never be insensitive and intrusive … We take advantage of every opportunity to share Christ, even offer Him, but we must always respect the right of the person to whom we are witnessing to say ‘No’.”

There are a number of occasions in the New Testament where ‘those who listened to Jesus, turned away from Him. Did Jesus run after them and try to press them into making the right decision. No, He let them go.’

Likewise, even though He loves you – if you turn away from the truth – that’s your decision!

The prayer for today is worth your meditation: “Father, forgive me if I put people off by insensitivity and aggressiveness. May I present the gospel clearly and in a gracious manner, but also respect the right of others to say ‘No’. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”

[I’ve just installed a Podcast plugin for WordPress and this enables the ability to present audio and video material. Not sure if I have this facility working efficiently – but it’s a start.

On my other site, I’ve uploaded an excellent homily by Richard Wright on the first sixteen verses of the second Chapter of Paul’s letter to Romans.]

 

 

First talk to God

Colossians 4:2-4 (NIV): “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.”

Prayer is the foundation stone upon which we build our relationship with God. Praise is the cement which binds together – everything we do for God. We build for God’s glory.

As Selwyn says: ‘ … before we talk to others about God we ought to talk to God about others. Evangelism is best undertaken in a spirit of prayer – by praying for people before talking to people.

Selwyn’s conclusion is also very important: “Prayer needs to be coupled with praise, just as praise needs to be coupled with prayer. The one fuels the other.”

I cannot stress enough the importance of devoting yourself to prayer – prayer is the life blood of our spiritual existence.