Tuesday, May 01, 2007


Col 4:7 Three Commitments That Help A Church Know What It Is All About

Tychicus, a loved brother, a faithful servant, and a fellow slave in the Lord, will tell you all the news about me. 8 I have sent him to you for this very purpose, so that you may know how we are, and so that he may encourage your hearts. 9 He is with Onesimus, a faithful and loved brother, who is one of you. They will tell you about everything here. 10 Aristarchus, my fellow prisoner, greets you, as does Mark, Barnabas’ cousin (concerning whom you have received instructions: if he comes to you, welcome him), 11 and so does Jesus who is called Justus. These alone of the circumcision are my co-workers for the kingdom of God, and they have been a comfort to me. 12 Epaphras, who is one of you, a slave of Christ Jesus, greets you. He is always contending for you in his prayers, so that you can stand mature and fully assured in everything God wills. 13 For I testify about him that he works hard for you, for those in Laodicea, and for those in Hierapolis. 14 Luke, the loved physician, and Demas greet you. 15 Give my greetings to the brothers in Laodicea, and to Nympha and the church in her house. 16 And when this letter has been read among you, have it read also in the church of the Laodiceans; and see that you also read the letter from Laodicea. 17 And tell Archippus, “Pay attention to the ministry you have received in the Lord, so that you can accomplish it.” 18 This greeting is in my own hand—Paul. Remember my imprisonment. Grace be with you.

As a young man I attended a church where the average evening service fluctuated between 6 and 12. The morning services held between 40 and 60. The church called a young man 26 to pastor. One of the first and most important things that he taught us was the importance of knowing what we were all about. He reminded us that as believers we were to be committed to Jesus Christ and His Word, the Body of Christ, His Church, and the ministry of Christ, His Work. That church grew very suddenly as the church became committed to these three principles. Close to a thousand people would press in each Sunday over the next four years.
Paul’s conclusion to the letter to the church at Collosae gives us a cross sectional view of the New Testament church as it appears in the life of its members.
We discover that these three same principles were at work in the believers of Paul’s day.
1. They were committed to Jesus Christ and His Word.
They had convictions. It was their convictions about the Lord Jesus Christ that brought them together.
They were a very diverse bunch.
There are Jews and gentiles here in this list.
The gospel brought together people that were diverse racially, socially, politically.
It brought together people that were diverse in their jobs. There are slaves and rich people mentioned here.. Nympha had a whole church meeting in her house! And Onesimus was a slave!
The things that unite us are greater than the things that divide us.
These people were united around the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Their union with Christ was much, much more important than socio economic distinctions.
Their union with Christ was much more important that their personality distinctions.
* CHOLERIC: those who are decisive, make things happen
* MELANCHOLIC: those who are thinkers, serious and purposeful
* SANGUINE: those who are talkers, cheerful and bubbling over
* PHLEGMATIC: those who are peaceful, low-keyed persons
Now that you have heard the descriptions...
* How many of you are cholerics? Those are the ones who always know who they are, and want to tell you what you should be!
* How many melancholics do we have here today? They are the ones who can hardly let go of their pen because they are taking such meticulous notes.
* How many of you are sanguines? You just like to have a good time! These are the "hospitality" people; they don’t have much sense, but they are good to be around!
* How many of you are phlegmatics? Yeah, those are the ones who can hardly get their hands up!
You can see that we are all of different temperaments. You are probably sitting beside someone tonight who has a totally different temperament than you.
You see, it is good that we are such a diverse group of people. It is very good, it is healthy. Secure people like diversity, they are not afraid of it; insecure people want everybody to look alike, talk alike sound alike, etc.
The things that unite us are much more important than the things that divide us. These people were focussed on the Lord Jesus Christ.
They didn’t care about anything else other than knowing Christ and making Him known.
How about you?

We share a common confession: we are sinners in need of grace.
We share a common confidence: that the blood of Christ cleanses us from sin and sets us free from our just condemnation.
We share a common hope: that we will live forever in God's kingdom as children of God
We share a common passion: to share the gospel with all who are lost and perishing
We share a common desire: to serve the Lord and one another.
These things should bind us together. Your closest friends should be your brothers and sisters in Christ.

2. These people were committed to the Body Of Christ His Church.

We each one are differently gifted to each other. God has given each of us Spiritual gifts. Listen to what Paul wrote in Eph 4:7 Now grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of the • Messiah’s gift.
1 Cor 12: 7 A manifestation of the Spirit is given to each person to produce what is beneficial
Each of us has a spiritual gift to minister to others.
Yes, our focus must be on Christ.
We are committed to Jesus Christ and His Word.
This commitment is worked out in the Body Of Christ His Church.
Look at each of these people that were part of Paul’s Team.
Paul testifies that Tychicus and Epaphras were fellow laborers. Tychicus may have met Paul in Ephesus. He traveled with Paul to Jerusalem (a dangerous place for a Christian to be) carrying an offering for the church there. Tychicus is the one who carried this letter the church in Colosse. He went over rugged terrain to bring word from Paul. Paul calls him, "a dear brother, a faithful minister and a fellow servant in the Lord." These men were partners in ministry.
Epaphras is another co-laborer Paul recognizes as a friend. He was probably the founder and perhaps Pastor of the church in Colosse. He was the one who came to Rome bringing Paul word of what was going on in Colosse. Paul admired the way Epaphras prayed fervently for his congregation, even while he is separated from them. He respected his ministry.
Paul mentions that Aristarchus, Mark and Justus were the only Jews who were standing with him. While most of the Jews sought to eliminate Paul, these three men stood beside him. They were unafraid to be counted with and associated with him.

Tychicus & Aristarchus are called fellow-prisoners. When Paul was imprisoned, when he was persona non grata in many circles, these men stood by his side. They supported him even though it might stain their own reputation . . . even though it might cause them to lose their own life. During Paul's ministry in Ephesus, a riot broke out and the crowd sought to kill Paul. At that tumultuous time Aristarchus stood with Paul. And now, while he is imprisoned Aristarchus remains at his side. It's possible that Aristarchus himself had been arrested due to his association with Paul.
How often have you heard or said these words, "when I was going through this difficult time, I learned who my true friends were."?
Mark and Paul became friends even though they disagreed fiercely early in the ministry. On one missionary journey Mark came along with Paul and Barnabus. During the journey Mark became homesick and left the team. Paul was angry and refused to allow Mark to travel with him again. He was convinced Mark was a quitter and could not be depended on. However, it is apparent that Paul and Mark worked on their relationship. They worked through the difficult times of the past. And at the end of his life, one of the people Paul wanted around him was his friend, John Mark.

Onesimus, was a runaway slave. He had undoubtedly stolen from his master, Philemon. While he was "on the lamb" he met Paul. Paul led him to Christ and Onesimus was gloriously converted. The runaway slave had become a brother. He was changed and now Paul was sending him back to Philemon with a letter testifying to what a great friend Onesimus had become.

I guess what I’m saying about the team that God uses to accomplish His purposes is this: GOD WANTS TO USE YOU, AND GOD WANTS TO USE ME.

Richard Nixon, in his book, talks about the time he was in the hospital. He had recently resigned the presidency, and now had gone through surgery. He said that as he lay in that hospital bed, he was at the all-time low point in his life. He told his wife that he wanted to die. He disgraced himself, he disgraced the nation, he was physically at his lowest. "I just want to die."

A nurse came in, drew the curtains open. In surprise she said, "Mr. Nixon, you might want to look out the window, because there is a message for you."

Mr. Nixon looked outside; and there was an airplane flying by with a streaming banner. It read, "God loves you, and so do we." In his book he tells that when he saw the message, he received hope. He told his wife, "No, I can come back from this. I don’t want to die."

Later on he found out that it was Ruth Graham, wife of Evangelist Billy Graham who hired the airplane. Her instructions were for the pilot to continue to fly by the window until the curtains were opened, and he was sure Mr. Nixon had seen the message.

You and I need those kind of people around us. We need an Aristarchus who will go to the depths of anxiety and depression, as well as rejoice in joy and hope with us. Ruth Graham proves that such people still exist.

1. We must be committed to Jesus Christ and His Word.. Conviction driven people.
2. We must be committed to the Body Of Christ, His Work.
3. We must be committed to the Ministry of Christ His Work.
Do you notice the second last verse here in this passage?
17 And tell Archippus, “Pay attention to the ministry you have received in the Lord, so that you can accomplish it.”

Archippus was running dry on his ministry. Maybe things got too tough. The people in the community were unresponsive. Some were caught up with heresy.. remember the reason for writing this letter in the first place was the problem that arose because of the Gnostic false teachers that had infiltrated the churches.
And things are tough, and Archipuss’s batteries are running low.
Paul reminds him of the ministry. “Its not about you Archipuss, this ministry you have received from the Lord!” It’s the Lord’s ministry!
At many times of crises the Lord has stood with me and reminded me that its not about me!
Elijah, after facing down King Ahab, dueling with the and destroying the prophets of Baal becomes terrified by Ahab’s little woman Jezebel: 1 Kings 19:2 So Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, “May the gods punish me and do so severely if I don’t make your life like the life of one of them by this time tomorrow!” 3 Then Elijah became afraid and immediately ran for his life. When he came to Beer-sheba that belonged to Judah, he left his servant there, 4 but he went on a day’s journey into the wilderness. He sat down under a broom tree and prayed that he might die. He said, “[I have had]enough! Lord, take my life, for I’m no better than my fathers.”

…Then the word of the Lord came to him, and He said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
In a word that struck deep into my soul, Alexander macLaren reminds us that God is far more concerned about his work than Elijah was. Elijah thought no one cares… but God reminded him that He cared much more about what was going on than Elijah ever did. This taught me that the opposition I was experiencing was not the problem, the depression I felt was not the problem, the perspective I had, had excluded God from the big picture of my ministry.
Likewise Paul discovered this when preaching in Corinth:
Acts 18: 9 Then the Lord said to Paul in a night vision, “Don’t be afraid, but keep on speaking and don’t be silent. 10 For I am with you, and no one will lay a hand on you to hurt you, because I have many people in this city.” 11 And he stayed there a year and six months, word of God among them.
These words came with fresh impact to my soul during some of our difficult times here a few years ago.
Its not your ministry Archipus, you have received this from the Lord, and He calls you to be steadfast.
Will you be steadfast in the ministry God has called you to?
Listen to Paul speaking to a disillusioned Timothy:
2 Timothy 4 Before God and Christ Jesus, who is going to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom, I solemnly charge you:
2 proclaim the message; persist in it whether convenient or not; rebuke, correct, and encourage with great patience and teaching.
3 For the time will come when they will not tolerate sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, will accumulate teachers for themselves because they have an itch to hear something new.
4 They will turn away from hearing the truth and will turn aside to myths.
5 But as for you, keep a clear head about everything, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

You have a ministry. Will you be steadfast and fulfill it?

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