How would you describe your church leaders, your pastors or priests? In Colossians 1:7-8 Paul described who was doing what in the Colossian church. “You learned about the Good News from Epaphras, our beloved co-worker. He is Christ’s faithful servant, and he is helping us on your behalf. 8 He has told us about the love for others that the Holy Spirit has given you.” Paul praised Epaphras for his faithful delivery of the gospel message and how he communicated their love for each other to him. From his prison cell, Paul was able to understand the work the Holy Spirit was doing among them through Epaphras’ genuine and faith-filled words.
What a wonderful example of God’s work among believers. Epaphras was a converted pagan who loved the Lord Jesus and wanted others to share in this love, forgiveness and salvation. He was serving in the cause of Christ as he told others of Jesus and showed them God’s love. It was evident that the Holy Spirit was at work there in Colossae. What about you and where you worship and serve? Is your service done there out of habit or are you serving so you can show Jesus to others? Is your service faithfully done or is it haphazardly executed as time allows? What should be our motivation for serving and telling others about Jesus? Several things come to my mind: so others can experience the love and forgiveness of Jesus, so others will have eternal life in heaven, so the quality of their life here on earth will be abundant and filled with hope and love that only God can give, so that others will come to know God in a greater way, so that others will glorify God in their faith and life. The good news of Christ is indeed good news and transforms the life of each one who embraces and believes. Shouldn’t we want to share this wonderful transforming news with others? Epaphras, Paul, James, Titus, Peter…. and the person who told you about Jesus all shared their love of Jesus. Each one of us comes to faith through the telling of Jesus’ story somehow. Romans 10:17 “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.”
As you meditate today on this passage, give praise and thanks for the ones who led you to faith, in my case it was a Sunday School teacher. Give praise and thanks for those who faithfully give out the Word of God each week at your church. By doing so they are helping you to grow and mature in your Christian faith. Epaphras did both of these for the church he planted in Colossae and Paul was eternally grateful for his work in the name of Jesus. Let us give thanks today for those who brought us to faith and those who endeavor to show us areas where we can grow more and more like Jesus as we seek to know Christ and walk with Him daily.
Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I can live a life that grows and matures in God’s love and can have an eternal effect on others.
Today’s verse from Colossians is very empowering and brings great assurances for our faith. Colossians 1:5-6a “the faith and love that spring from the hope stored up for you in heaven and about which you have already heard in the true message of the gospel 6 that has come to you.” Paul was praying and praising God for the Colossian believers and said that their hope, that they so readily shared with everyone around them, is rooted in Christ. Their hope is stored up, saved for eternity, preserved, untouchable by sin and guaranteed by the Holy Spirit.
This is a truth that we can claim in our lives too. The faith we have in Christ and the love He has for us and us for Him gives us eternal hope! It is a hope that can never be taken away! What a wonderful blessing we have from Him! Thank you Jesus. This truth is also found in Titus 1:2 “in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began“. This hope of faith is eternal in nature and comes from a God who does not change or lie. Romans 5:2-5 “Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. This hope is eternal and God uses it to bring about change in our character for our good and His glory!
As you ponder your faith in Christ and God’s immense love for you, think about 1 Peter 3:15 “but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,” You have the hope within you—- be prepared to share it with gentleness to a hurting world.
Advent is a time when churches, religious groups and civic organizations look to meet the needs of the poor, hungry, unemployed and hurting people of all ages. This year, 2020, is particularly difficult as we live with the daily effects of the global pandemic. The need is even greater this year with the vast number of people sick and out of work. I have an 80 year old friend that faithfully works at the city food bank in her town sorting and filling bags of food for the hungry. I am amazed by the long lines seen on the news of people waiting in cars to get bags of food. Many of those seeking help have never had to ask before as they had always been self-sufficiently employed.
One verse in our Christmas story brought this to mind. Luke 1:56 speaks of Mary staying with Elizabeth for 3 + months then going home to Nazareth. “Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months and then returned home.” Scripture said that the angel appeared to Mary when Elizabeth was in her sixth month, “In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee,” Luke 1:26 Doing the math, it would seem that young Mary who was only just pregnant came to her cousin Elizabeth when Elizabeth was six months along. Staying with Elizabeth in the last months before John was born, when Zechariah was not able to talk (Luke 1:20), was probably a great comfort, blessing and help to this aged mother and father to be. We are not told in scripture that Mary was present when John was born, but I would imagine Mary stayed until John was born and then returned home.
In this one verse God shows us that we are to be supportive of each other and stay the distance. My friend could go and help out occasionally at the food bank but has made it a priority to give of herself 3 days a week. Many I know, prior to Covid, went regularly to nursing homes to share, sing and pray with residents or visit those in hospitals. Another friend had a brother that had a severe accident and the family ministered to him and nursed him back to health after being released from the hospital. Ministering to those in need shows godly character as we give, are compassionate, merciful and kind.
Even with Covid restrictions, find a way to meet someone’s needs this week. It could be a phone call, text, card or letter to a friend you know is lonely or sick. Maybe you can make cookies or bread to leave on their doorstep. Know that things done to serve others out of love pleases God. Jesus told us in John 13:34-35 ““A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Let the world see your love for Jesus through your actions of service towards one another.