Summary: The life God intended for us is filled with fruitfulness, increasing knowledge of God, power from above, and an attitude of thanks and praise.
Picture yourself right now lying on a tropical beach, the gentle sound of waves and the sea gulls in the background, the palm branches waving in the light breeze above you – “this is the life!” On this cold winter day, I would love to be there right now. But here we are and I would like to encourage you to discover something even more satisfying and long lasting than a tropical beach in January – life in Christ!
We are going to journey together over the next several weeks to discover or RE-discover the life that God has for us. It’s so easy over time to get distracted in life with busy-ness and work and family events that we overlook the most important things and so I believe that by listening to this book of Colossians, we will discover again our center, what matters, and reorient our lives to the REAL LIFE.
Colossians is a letter and it was written by the Apostle Paul to members of a new congregation in the city of Colossae. Where in the world was Colossae? Today we can find Colossae in modern Turkey in the Lycus river valley. Towering above the city was Cadmus mountain. Colossae was the main city in the valley for five hundred years before Paul wrote this letter. Their main industry was textile and they were especially famous for their purple dyed wool.
Like most cities of that time, many Greek and Egyptian gods were worshipped. But there was also a large Jewish presence there. However, a new believer by the name of Epaphras began sharing the gospel in Colossae and it wasn’t long before a fellowship of believers was started which soon became a congregation. And then there was another Christian leader by the name of Philemon who was also sharing the gospel and building up the church there.
Eventually, Pastor Epaphras decided to travel to Rome to visit the Apostle Paul who is in prison there. Paul had never been to Colossae but he would be a great encouragement to them and Epaphras needed encouragement too. And so Paul writes this short letter to encourage the believers there so that they keep their focus and not get distracted by the things around them but keep their eyes on what is really important. They are to live the life God intended for them.
And so Paul writes his letter to these believers with these words (1:3-9): “We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, 4 since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, 5 because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel, 6 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, 7 just as you learned it from Epaphras our beloved fellow servant. He is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf 8and has made known to us your love in the Spirit.”
You can picture Pastor Epaphras telling Paul all about his congregation and how it all started and how exciting it is to see so many new believers. He tells stories of this person and that person. But he also tells all about the immorality and dangers in his town. He shares about some individuals who are compromising and need to get back to the Lord.
We have our story too! Our congregation has a story going back to the 1950’s. Some of you can even remember those early days. I look back in the records and see that Grace had two services every Sunday which packed the sanctuary. It was booming! You can recall the many special events, potlucks, celebrations, soup suppers, and so many great memories. It’s so good to remember and rejoice.
But as an individual, you have your own story of your walk with God – your faith story. It’s important to go back in your memories to recall your Sunday School years, confirmation, youth group and so on. Some of you can remember when you were closer to God than you are today. Maybe you remember a time when you were excited to serve, to hear God’s Word, to grow.
Give thanks for the faith God planted in your heart! Give thanks for the love God planted in your heart! I hope that your faith and love today is stronger than ever in your life. That would be awesome. But let’s be honest – many of us have backslidden and we need to return.
That is what this message is all about. God sees your faith and your love but something has stunted your growth. Something has held you back. You’re not yet living the REAL life God has for you.