Summary: 5 key words to inspire Christians. (PowerPoint slides to accompany this talk are available on request - email: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Reading: Colossians chapter 2 verses 1-5.
A new student won first prize at a recent Science Fair.
• In his project he urged people to sign a petition demanding;
• Strict control or total elimination of the chemical “di-hy-dro-gen mon-oxide.”
And for plenty of good reasons, since it:
• Can cause excessive sweating and vomiting.
• It is a major component in acid rain.
• It can cause severe burns in its gaseous state.
• Accidental inhalation can kill you.
• It decreases effectiveness of automobile brakes.
• It has been found in tumours of terminal cancer patients.
He asked 50 people if they supported a ban of the chemical:
• Forty-three said yes, six were undecided,
• And only one knew that the chemical was……………… H20 (water).
• The title of his prize-winning project was,
• “How Gullible Are We?”
The apostle Paul is writing to Christians who are encountering false teaching:
• He is encouraging them not to be gullible, not to swallow it hook, line and sinker;
• But instead to avoid additional ‘mystical’ teaching and hold on to Jesus Christ alone!
• Last week you no-doubt saw Paul the preacher:
• Sharing the gospel through this letter(chapter 1 verses 21-23).
• You would also have seen Paul the prisoner;
• Willing to suffer prison for the sake of the Gentiles (chapter 1 verses 24-27).
• This morning we will meet Paul the prayer-warrior;
• Striving in prayer for the spiritual health of these individual Christians in Colossae.
Now let me inform you or remind you that Paul has never met these Christians:
• Everything he knows about them he learned from a man called Epaphras.
• You will have already met Epaphras in the first chapter of this book called Colossians:
• He met Paul during his stay at Ephesus,
• And it was through that encounter that he had been led to Christ.
• When he returned home to Colossae;
• He shared this good news with friends and family etc.
• And as a result a Church was born in Colossae (Chapter 1 verses 7-8).
• Epaphras who founded the Church was a Church leader an evangelist/pastor type person.
Now Paul had never visited this Church:
• They were an unknown people, in a small town.
• That is until Epaphras left Colossae and went to visit Paul in Rome:
• Paul was at this time had been imprisoned for his faith,
• And was confined to a small cell.
Epaphras tells Paul all about the Christians at Colossae.
• And concerned for their welfare;
• (And knowing that Epaphras will be absent for from Colossae for quite a while.)
• The apostle Paul has written for them this letter;
• And it has been hand delivered to the Church by two men called Tychicus and Onesimus.
Now although Paul has never seen these Christians face to face:
• He has met them but only through the words and descriptions of Epaphras;
• And as a result Paul has developed a great love for them.
• Many of us follow the work of missionaries abroad;
• Although we have never met those that they work amongst personally.
• We know about them through letters and magazines;
• And have a concern and love for them and their contacts and work.
As I have studied this passage – I think Paul gives them:
5 key words to inspire the Christians on:
(1). Exertion or Struggle (Verse 1):
“I want you to know how much I am struggling for you and for those at Laodicea, and for all who have not met me personally”.
• If you are wondering why Paul associates the Laodicaeans with the Colossians
• It is because of their geographical positions.
In the valley of the River Lycus,
• Near where it joins the Maeander, there once stood three important cities:
• Laodicaea, Hierapolis (Hira-pol-is) and Colosse.
• They stood almost within sight of each other.
• Epaphras was the man who founded the church in Colossae
• And it would seems likely (chapter 4 verse 13) that Epaphras;
• Had also founded churches in Laodicea & Hierapolis (Hira-pol-is).
As the apostle Paul pictures these three cities in his mind's eye:
• The word ‘struggle’ or ‘great conflict’ describes his feelings for them.
• In the Greek text the word translated ‘struggle’ or ‘great conflict’ is a vivid word;
• It is the Greek word ‘agon’,
• From which we get the English word ‘agony’.
• The word is actually an athletic term.
• Referring to the strenuous effort put forth by a runner to win a race.
• Paul exerted his spiritual muscles;
• The way a Greek runner would exert himself in the Olympic games.