Sunday, June 14, 2015, 4:30 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Come and See.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Colossians 1:1-14 (ESV). A Beloved Servant (vv. 1-8) Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, To the saints and faithful brothers in Christ at Colossae: Grace to you and peace from God our Father. We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel, which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and increasing—as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth, just as you learned it from Epaphras our beloved fellow servant. He is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf and has made known to us your love in the Spirit. Epaphras, considered by Paul to be a beloved fellow bond-servant of Jesus Christ and faithful minister of Christ on behalf of the apostles, and for the spiritual growth of the church in Colossae, was recognized here, by Paul, as having been instrumental in the preaching of the gospel in Colossae, which then resulted in the salvation of the souls of many. Very possibly he was the first to bring the gospel to the people of Colossae, and so he was, most likely, also instrumental in the beginning of the church there. Epaphras, apparently, was with Paul at this time, and he had brought to him a good report concerning the church in Colossae. Paul said this about him, as is recorded in chapter 4 of Colossians, vv. 12-13: Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ Jesus, greets you, always struggling on your behalf in his prayers, that you may stand mature and fully assured in all the will of God. For I bear him witness that he has worked hard for you and for those in Laodicea and in Hierapolis. So, not only was Epaphras a servant of Christ, and a minister of the gospel, but he helped to nurture the church in the Lord, as well as he prayed fervently for them, and for their maturity in Christ. So, what can we learn from his life which we can apply to our own lives? First of all, we must be faithful in sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ so that many can hear, and so they can be saved. We don’t know, when we share the gospel, who all is listening, and who might respond. We don’t know, as well, of those who heard the gospel from our lips (or in writing), who may be instrumental in leading others to Jesus Christ, who then may tell others, who may tell others, and so on and so forth. Paul said, “All over the world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing, just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and understood God’s grace in all its truth.” Paul didn’t personally go to Colossae and lead these people to Jesus Christ. Epaphras, who we know little about, did. We may share the gospel with someone who may tell someone else and so on and so forth, and the gospel may spread all over the world and bear fruit and grow just because we were faithful in sharing the gospel with whomever God gives us to share it. So, we must be faithful. Epaphras not only preached the gospel to the people in Colossae, but he invested himself in their spiritual growth and maturity. He didn’t just “love ‘em and leave ‘em.” He truly cared about them and about their walks of faith in Jesus Christ. So, it would appear, he sought the counsel of Paul in some matters, and he submitted to his authority, and he gave a report on the church and on their spiritual progress to Paul and the other apostles, which then resulted in this letter, by Paul, to the church, which was then for their encouragement, spiritual maturity and edification in the Lord. As well, he struggled in prayer on their behalf, in order that they might mature in Christ and stand firm and assured in the will of God. We should also invest our lives in the spiritual growth of others in whatever ways God has gifted us, called us, and placed us within the body of Christ, doing the part he has assigned us specifically to do. We must also be faithful in using the spiritual gifts bestowed on us by the Spirit of God and in filling the part within the body which God assigned us to do, no matter where or what that might be. And, we must labor and struggle (strive) in prayer and in conversation with other believers for their walks of faith and maturity in Christ. Again, we don’t just “love ‘em and leave ‘em.” We need to be committed to see those who profess faith in Christ walk in the Spirit and no longer according to the flesh, even if it means they fight against us, and against God. We don’t give up on them! We keep loving them, and we keep laboring in love for them and to them in order to see them grow in their faith and/or to follow Jesus Christ with their lives, and to get victory over sin’s strongholds. A Worthy Manner (vv. 9-14) And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. Going back to the beginning of this chapter for a minute, Paul thanked the Lord for these believers because of the good report given by Epaphras concerning the believers’ faith, and the love they had for all the saints, because of the hope they had laid up for them in heaven. He acknowledged that they had heard and had received the gospel message of their salvation, and that they had responded to the message in faith. He acknowledged, as well, that this gospel was growing (expanding, spreading) among them, and that it was bearing fruit (outgrowth, results) in their lives, which may be attributed somewhat to the fact that they not only heard the gospel, but that they understood the grace of God in truth. I take this to mean that they understood that the grace of God, which brings salvation, teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, godly and upright lives while we wait on this earth for Jesus Christ’s return (Tit. 2:11-14). And, that God’s grace is not a free license to continue in sin, but it means we die with Christ to sin and we are resurrected with Christ to live to righteousness (1 Pet. 2:24; Ro. 6-8; Gal. 2:20). And, that Jesus died so we would no longer live for ourselves but for him who gave himself up for us, and that Jesus died in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us who walk no longer according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit (2 Co. 5:15; Ro. 8:3-14). This is true grace, for it frees us from slavery to sin. And, so he prayed for the church. Not only are the things he prayed to be lived out in our own lives, by God’s grace, through faith, and in the power and strength of the Spirit within us, but we should be praying such prayers as this for the church and for individual believers in Jesus Christ today. We all need prayer! And, we all need to pray for others more. We need to be filled with the knowledge of God’s will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. I hear so many Christians today, even veteran Christians who supposedly have known the Lord many, many years, still struggling to know God's will and his purpose for their lives, and thus many of them are floundering and don’t really go anywhere, and countless numbers of them are not being faithful ministers of Jesus Christ and of his gospel of salvation. Part of the reason for this, I believe, is because they don’t “understand the grace of God in truth,” and thus many think it is ok for them to live however they want and still have their ticket into heaven. They believe God requires nothing of them, and so they lack motivation to live holy lives pleasing to God. We are not going to know God’s will and have spiritual wisdom and understanding if we are walking in the ways of the flesh and not in the ways of the Spirit; if we are not in submission to God, but we are going our own way. We need to conduct our lives in a manner worthy of the Lord and of his calling on our lives, living holy lives pleasing to him, bearing fruit for the gospel and for his kingdom, and growing in our knowledge of God. This won’t happen if we don’t have the correct understanding of God’s grace to us in saving us from our sins. Again, he died so we would die to sin and live to righteousness; live for him and not for ourselves. We must walk in the Spirit and not according to the flesh. Then we can do what this is talking about. If we are holding on to sin, entertaining it in our minds, giving in to it, and going our own way despite what we know to be the truth, then there is no way we can live holy lives pleasing to God, bear fruit for his gospel, and grow in our knowledge of him, because living to please ourselves is counterproductive to living holy lives pleasing to God. They oppose each other. God did not rescue us from the dominion of darkness and bring us into the kingdom of his beloved Son, redeem us, and forgive our sins just so we would ignore his commands, go our own way, continue in sin, and live to please ourselves. In fact, he says that if we live like that, we will die. He died to free us from slavery to sin and to free us to become slaves of righteousness! When we are walking in the light of his truth and in his love, he will strengthen us so that we can have great endurance and patience in these walks of faith and in our ministry to the lives of others over whom we are struggling in prayer. He will give us the strength to endure persecution and attacks against our character, and to keep on keeping on in sharing the truth of his word so that many will be saved and will come to know the grace of God in all its truth – the gospel of Christ in its fullness. So, let’s walk in a manner worthy of the grace of God and of his calling on our lives and of the gospel of our salvation and of our Lord, living holy lives pleasing to him, bearing fruit for his kingdom work, growing in our knowledge of God, being patient, and bearing with one another in love, being joyful in affliction, faithful in prayer, and steadfast in hope. Come and See / An Original Work / May 20, 2013 Based off John 1:35-51 John, the Baptist, called of God to Make straight the way for the Lord, Told his disciples about Jesus, So two of them followed Him. One of them who followed Jesus Told his brother, Simon Peter, Who then he brought to the Savior, Who had told them, “Come and see.” Jesus Christ, our Lord, Messiah, On his way to Galilee found a man, Philip, So he told him, “I want you to follow Me.” Philip then found his friend, And he told him, “We have found the one The prophets spoke of – He is Jesus!” Philip then said, “Come and see.” Jesus saw the man, Nathanael, While he sat beneath a fig tree, Even before Philip called him, So Nathanael did believe. Nonetheless the Lord said, “You believe because of what I told you. You will see much greater things than these If you will Come and see.” Jesus’ calling to each one of us. He tells us to believe in Him As our Lord and Messiah, And to follow where He leads. He says we must turn from our sins, Die to sin and self each day, And put on our new lives in Jesus; Bow before Him; humbly pray.