Daily Update #365

Pause: “How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!  It is like precious oil poured on the head, running down on Aaron’s beard, down on the collar of his robe.  It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion. For there the Lord bestows his blessing, even life for evermore.”   Psalm 133

Reading: Colossians 4 : 7 – 18  “ 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.  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.  Our dear friend Luke, the doctor, and Demas send greetings.  Give my greetings to the brothers and sisters 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.  Tell Archippus: ‘See to it that you complete the ministry you have received in the Lord.’  I, Paul, write this greeting in my own hand.  Remember my chains. 
Grace be with you.”

Today we have reached the end of this wonderful letter of Paul, written to the church in Colossae, probably written during Paul’s first imprisonment in Rome.  The letter, as we have seen over the past few weeks, contains some words of encouragement, some necessary words of correction, and some wonderful teaching, all of which also has relevance for us today, in the 21st. century.  In these verses we see the loving, generous heart of Paul for those who share his ministry, and for those whom he loves from afar. 

In these verses Paul mentions eight fellow-workers who are with him in Rome, at least one of whom is in prison with him, and two who will be travelling to Colossae with this letter.  These two, Tychicus and Onesimus, are not only carrying the letter, they are specifically bringing words of encouragement.  Paul may be in prison, but the work of sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ continues, and Paul wants his fellow-Christians to share in his joy at this.  When we look at the world in which we live, and see the persecution and problems that many Christians face today, we could perhaps become despondent, but our God is still on the throne, and the work of spreading the Gospel continues regardless. 

Another one of these eight who is worth thinking about for a few moments is Epaphras.  We know very little about this faithful servant of Jesus, other than that he had been instrumental in teaching the young church in Colossae the truths of the Gospel, as we see from verse 7 of chapter 1 of this letter, and also, as we see in Philemon verse 23, he too was in prison with Paul.  What is worth noting about Epaphras is that he was “always wrestling in prayer” for the Christians in Colossae; what an encouragement for them and a challenge for us!  I have never forgotten the meeting I had with the retired Minister of our little church in Gloucester, where we were very new Christians, and who had gone to be Vicar of some churches near Bristol.  We met one day, several months later, and he asked me how I was, to which I replied that I was very well.  “I am so pleased to hear that,” he said, “I pray for you every day.”  What an encouragement, and what a challenge.  We may not see those we pray for very often; we may not hear much from them; but as Alec Motyer once said, “I know the address of every Christian in the world; it is ‘In Christ’.”  Our Lord knows the needs of all those for whom we have concerns, our challenge is to be faithful in prayer.

A closing thought from these “final greetings” from Paul.  These towns and cities, in what is now Turkey, may not have been major players on the world stage, but they were places where the word of God was shared, lives were changed, and who knows how many Christians from there took that Good News further afield.  We live in a small village on the western edge of Sussex, but through faithfulness and prayer the Word of God has been shared in some far-flung areas of the world, and that continues today.  Distance is not a problem where our Lord is concerned; the example of these early Christians is both an encouragement and a challenge to us today.

Prayer:  Almighty God, we give thanks for those who have shared with us the riches of the kingdom, for those who have been examples to us, for those who have taught us the faith.  We pray for all who seek to pass on these riches in their homes and in the community.  AMEN.                (David Adam)