Today’s selected reading continues in and concludes the New Testament epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the saints which were at Colossae. More specifically today’s passage is found in the fourth chapter of this New Testament book. “Masters, give unto your servants that which is just and equal; knowing that ye also have a Master in heaven” (Colossians 4:1).
“Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving; withal praying for us, that God would open unto us a door o utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds: that I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak. Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time. Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man” (Colossians 4:2-6).
“All my state shall Tychicus declare unto you, who is a beloved brother, and a faithful minister and fellow servant in the Lord: whom I have sent unto you for the same purpose, that he might know your estate, and comfort your hearts; with Onesimus, a faithful and beloved brother, who is one of you. They shall make known unto you all things which are fond here. Aristarchus my fellow prisoner saluteth you, and Marcus, sister’s son to Barnabas, (Touching whom ye received commandments: if he come unto you, receive him;) And Jesus, who is called Justus, who are of the circumcision. These only are my fellow workers unto the kingdom of God, which have been a comfort unto me, Epaphras, who is one you, a servant of Christ, saluteth you, awlays labour int fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God. For I bear him record, that he hath a great zeal of you, and them that are in Laodicea, and them in Hierapolis. Lu,e the beloved physician, and Delmas greet you. Salute the brethren, which are in Laodicea. And say to Archippus, Take heed to the ministry which thou hast received in the Lord, that thou fulfil it. The salutation by the hand of me Paul. Remember my bonds. Grace be with you. Amen” (Colossians 4:7-18).
“Written from Rome to the Colossians by Tychicus and Onesimus” (Colossians 4:18).
When you come to this particular portion of Scripture you will find the epistles written by the apostle Paul unto the saints which were at Colossae drawing to a close. If you study this epistle closely you will uncover the tremendous truth that this epistle bears a strong semblance and similarity with the epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the saints which were at Ephesus. It is absolutely unmistakable the similarity in language and context that is found within this epistle and the epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the saints which were at Ephesus. This is something we must needs call and draw our attention to for it brings us face to face with the absolutely wonderful truth surrounding the apostle Paul and the message he desired to convey to this church. Scripture seems to suggest the apostle Paul didn’t actually spend time among the saints which were at Colossae nor with the saints which were at Laodicea but felt compelled by the Holy Spirit to write an epistle and send it unto them. This is something we must needs recognize and understand for it brings us face to face with the absolutely wonderful and powerful truth surrounding the heart of the apostle which he had for all the churches. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this and how absolutely important it is to understand the heart which the apostle Paul had for the churches. If you want to truly understand the heart the apostle Paul had for the churches you need only begin reading with and from the epistle written unto the Ephesian saints and continue through to the second epistle written unto the saints which were at Thessalonica. It is within these epistles we find the apostle Paul using language that isn’t found in the epistle written unto the saints which were at Rome nor the epistles written unto the saints which were at Corinth or the churches which were in Galatia.
If you take the time to read the words which are found in the epistles and writings of Paul beginning with the epistle written unto the Ephesian saints and continuing through the second epistle written unto the saints which were at Thessalonica you will find the apostle Paul using language of prayer, remembrance and thanksgiving when speaking unto and writing concerning the churches. This is not something we ought to ignore for it gives us insight into the heart of the apostle Paul’s prayer life. We know the apostle Paul was a man who preached the gospel of Christ Jesus unto both Jews and Gentiles. We know the apostle Paul was a a teacher and taught in the synagogues of the Jews as well as among the jews and Gentiles. We know the apostle Paul moved and operated in the gifts of the Holy Spirit and was used tremendously by the Holy Spirit to bring healing(s), miracle(s) and wonders in those places he traveled. This is something we dare not and must not miss for it brings us face to face with the absolutely wonderful truth surrounding the apostle Paul and his ministry unto and among both the Jews and Gentiles. With this being said, however, we must needs recognize the apostle Paul was also a man who was fervent and passionate in prayer. Although there is very little mentioned in the New Testament book of Acts of the apostle Paul praying outside of perhaps he and Silas praying and singing hymns to God in the Philippian jail there is very little mention of the prayer life of the apostle Paul. We find the apostle Paul preaching the gospel of Jesus unto both Jews and Gentiles, however, we do not find much mention of the apostle Paul praying for the churches or even praying for others. We know the apostle Paul laid his hands on the disciples in Ephesus and prayed that they might receive the Holy Spirit, but we do not find much reference(s) within the book of Acts concerning the apostle’s prayer life.
When you come to the epistles mentioned above you will find powerful examples of the prayer life of the apostle Paul—and not only powerful examples of the prayer life of the apostle Paul but also powerful evidence of his heart, his compassion, his affection and his compassion for the churches. This is something mentioned in the second epistles written by the apostle Paul unto the Corinthian saints for on top of the many afflictions and suffering he experienced he also contended and continually wrestled with his love, his care, his concern and his compassion for the churches. I am convinced that there is no greater place where you can and will see this compassion and concern for the churches than within the epistles beginning with the epistle written unto the Ephesian saints through to the second epistle written unto the saints which were at Thessalonica. Please note this isn’t to say the apostle Paul did not show nor demonstrate any care or concern for the churches when writing the epistle written unto the saints of Rome, the epistles written unto the saints which were at Corinth and even the epistle which was written unto the churches which were in Galatia. We know the first epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the Corinthian saints was one that was intended on correcting and rebuking this church for that which they had allowed to infiltrate and enter in among them. We know the epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the churches which were in Galatia was written because they had turned aside to a false gospel and a false Jesus which was entirely different than what was preached unto them. Moreover the Corinthian church could have been classified as the gifted but carnal church while the churches which were in Galatia would have been classified as the religious churches. This is something we dare not miss for within these epistles we are indeed brought face to face with the absolutely wonderful truth surrounding the care, the concern and the compassion of the apostle Paul for each of the churches through the region during those days.
As I sit here today thinking about the epistle written unto the Ephesian saints, the epistle written unto the Philippian saints, the epistle written unto the Colossian saints as well as the epistles written unto the Thessalonian saints I can’t help but be brought face to face with the absolutely wonderful truth surrounding the prayer life of the apostle Paul. The apostle Paul wasn’t merely a man who preached the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ and of the kingdom of God but the apostle Paul was also a man who cared deeply for the churches and who prayed fervently and passionately for them. Nowhere is this put on greater display than the epistles previously mentioned as you witness the words the apostle Paul prayed for these churches. What’s more is that some of these epistles weren’t merely written by the apostle Paul by himself but he had some of his companions who were present together with him. When we read the apostle Paul write of his praying and remembering these churches before the throne of God in prayer it is absolutely imperative we understand the apostle Paul would have spent time praying together with his companions—particularly and especially those who were with him in his chains, in his bonds and in his afflictions. The two epistles written by the apostle Paul unto the saints which were at Thessalonica were the first epistles he wrote and were written to correct their thinking after his departure from them. The book of Acts reveals how the apostle Paul was forced to depart from Thessalonica after the unbelieving Jews who were hard of heart and envious of him opposed themselves and blasphemed the word and gospel he preached unto and among them. The apostle Paul was removed from the city of Thessalonica and sent unto Berea before ultimately going to Athens and then to Corinth. It was during this time he penned both of the epistles written unto the Thessalonian saints seeking to exhort them—particularly and especially concerning the coming of Christ and the end of days.
If you read the words which the apostle Paul wrote in these epistles you will find the apostle not only speaking of his prayers and remembrance for the saints and churches when he approached the throne of God in prayer but you will also find the apostle Paul being accompanied by fellow workers, fallow soldiers, fellow companions and fellow brethren who would partner together in the work of the kingdom of heaven in the midst of the earth. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for in order to understand the prayer life of the apostle Paul there is a great need to also understand the fellowship of the apostle Paul—and not only the fellowship of the apostle Paul but the relationship that existed between himself and those who would accompany him on his journeys and would partner together with him in the work of the ministry of the kingdom. I am absolutely convinced there is a great link and connection between the words the apostle Paul prayed for and on behalf of the churches and the words the apostle Paul wrote concerning his fellow companions who partnered together with him in the work of the ministry. In all reality there are those who have great need of partnering together with others in the work of the ministry as it pertains to teaching, to preaching, to signs, to wonders, to healings and the like, however, there are very few men and women who are willing to partner together with others in the work of laboring in prayer. Oh there is indeed a need for a laboring together in the work of the ministry, however, there is something else entirely different and altogether distinct about laboring together in prayer. With this being said I would dare say the apostle Paul was not only a man who labored in the work of the ministry of the kingdom of heaven but he was also a man who labored for and on behalf of the churches in prayer. There is something to be said about the preaching apostle, however, I would dare say there is something else to be said about the praying apostle.
The more I read the words which are found within these epistles the more I am brought face to face with the tremendous truth surrounding the apostle Paul as a man who preached the word but also as a man who prayed for and on behalf of the churches. We cannot speak about the apostle Paul as a man who preached the gospel without at the same time and in the same breath speak of the apostle Paul as being one who was a praying man. There is something truly captivating about the thought of the apostle Paul being one who preached the word and gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ unto both the Jews and Gentiles, however, there was something altogether different when speaking of the apostle Paul as a man who prayed for and on behalf of the churches. The apostle Paul was truly a man who went before the throne of grace with boldness as he would entreat the One who sat upon the throne for mercy and grace to help in time of need. The apostle Paul was indeed one who continually and faithfully interceded for and on behalf of the churches in prayer and I would even dare say the apostle Paul was a man who perfectly modeled the words which Samuel the prophet declared and proclaimed unto the children of Israel after they demanded of and asked for a king: “Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD in ceasing to pray for you” (1 Samuel 12:23).
With all of this being said I find it absolutely necessary to now call and draw your attention to the words the apostle Paul wrote unto these saints which were in Ephesus, Philippi, Colossae and Thessalonica. The words we find here in these epistles call and draw our attention to the absolutely wonderful truth surrounding the apostle Paul and his care, his concern and his compassion for the churches. It would be in the second epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the Corinthian saints we find him writing and speaking of his care and concern for the churches and how that was something he continually wrestled and contended with throughout his daily experience. Before delving into the words which are found in these epistles written unto the churches previously mentioned dI would like to call and draw your attention to the absolutely wonderful truth which was expressed by the apostle Paul unto the saints which were in Corinth as was expressed in the eleventh chapter of the epistle. Consider if you will the following words which are found in this epistle beginning with the twenty-second verse of the eleventh chapter:
“Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am i. Are they the seed of Abraham? So am I. Are they ministers of Christ?—I speak as a fool—I am more: in a lores more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often. From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and oil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness—besides the other things, which comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to struggle, and I do not burn with indignation” (2 Corinthians 11:22-29).
Pay close attention to the words which are found within this passage of Scripture for in a section where the apostle Paul spoke of and describes those great many things he suffered in this life he added that besides those things which came upon him daily he continually wrestled with his deep concern for all the churches. This is something which warrants strong consideration on our part for it brings us face to face with the absolutely wonderful truth surrounding the apostle Paul and the deep and abiding care and concern he had for the churches. The apostle Paul was one who cared deeply for the churches and was one who expressed a great concern for them on a consistent and daily basis. It is this concern which I firmly believe is expressed in the epistles written unto the Ephesian saints, unto the Philippian saints, unto the Colossian saints as well as the Thessalonian saints. There is perhaps no greater or better place to see this genuine concern for the churches than in the apostle Paul praying for them. I firmly believe that the single greatest place and way we show and demonstrate our care and concern for the churches and for others is through prayer in the secret close. We have indeed been instructed to love God with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our mind and with all our strength and we have been called to love others and with this being said I find it absolutely necessary to declare unto you that even when Jesus taught his disciples to love others He intrinsically linked and connected it to prayer. Even when you read the words which are found in the fifth and sixth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew concerning the life and ministry of Jesus you will find Jesus linking prayer to others—and not simply for others but also for those who have wronged, persecuted, spitefully entreated us and done us wrong. Consider if you will the following words which are found in the fifth and sixth chapters of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mount, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness; sake for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they reveille and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for my sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecute the prophets who were before you” (Matthew 5:3-12).
“You have heard that it was said, An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on the right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also. And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away. You have heard that it was said, You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brethren only, what do you more than the others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:38-48).
“And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words. Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him. In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen. For if you forgive men their trespasses, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6:5-14).
There is a great need for us to recognize and pay close attention to the words which are found within these two passages of Scripture for Jesus intrinsically links and connects prayer and our relationship to others. In the fifth chapter of this New Testament gospel we find the Lord instructing His disciples to pray for those who spitefully use and persecute them while in the sixth chapter—when teaching His disciples how to pray—the Lord Jesus included in the prayer unto the Father the instruction to not only ask the Father for forgiveness but also linked the forgiveness of the Father with our forgiving others. Thus what we must needs recognize and understand is that prayer is not only linked and connected to our relationship to and with others but prayer is also linked to others’ treatment of us and even our willingness to forgive them. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this and how absolutely incredible powerful it is as we are brought face to face with the incredible reality of the Lord Jesus calling us to be a people of prayer—and not merely a people of prayer but a people who pray for others. Moreover we are not only to be a people who pray for others but we are called to be a people who pray for those who spitefully use and persecute us and to forgive them. Remember when Simon called Peter asked the Lord how often he ought to forgive his brother and spoke of seven times seven? Jesus responded by declaring unto Simon that he was not to forgive seven times seven but seventy times seven.
I am absolutely convinced we must needs recognize and understand the words which are found in this passage of Scripture for it calls and draws our attention to the absolutely wonderful reality of prayer and our relationship to and with others. If we are being honest we must needs admit that prayer is one of—if not the single greatest way of connecting to and with others. Prayer is indeed a means of connecting us to the Father which is in heaven, however, I am absolutely convinced that prayer is the means and method whereby we connect to others. I firmly believe that if you truly want to connect with others within the spiritual body of the Lord Jesus Christ you must needs learn how to connect to and with them in prayer. There are men and women who focus solely and entirely on connecting with others through conversations after Sunday morning service, through meeting over coffee, through meeting for lunch and other ways that are separate and independent of prayer. The truth of the matter, however, is the single greatest way of connecting with others is through prayer. There is perhaps no greater way of connecting with others than through prayer, through intercession and even through worship and singing praises before and unto the eternal Father which is in heaven. Here on the earth we have been given prayer as a means of conversing and connecting with the Father which is in heaven, however, prayer has also been given unto us to connect to others. With this being said I find it important to ask you if you’ve ever experienced a prayer setting and prayer meeting when you gathered together with others in prayer and almost immediately and instantaneously connected with someone in the Spirit in and through prayer? There is perhaps no greater connection point with the saints and brethren than within prayer and we must needs recognize that we as the saints of God have indeed been called to connect to others through fellowship and breaking of bread, however, we cannot eliminate or ignore prayer and intercession. With this in mind I invite you to consider the following words found in the first, second and fourth chapters of the New Testament book of Acts concerning those who made up the early church:
“Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey. And when they had entered, the went up into the upper room where they were staying: Peter, James, John, and Andrew; Philip and Thomas; Bartholomew and Matthew; James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon the Zealot; and Judas the son of James. These all continued with one accord I n prayer and supplication, with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers” (Acts 1:12-14).
“When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Acts 2:1-4).
“And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, Be saved from this perverse generation. Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them. And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need. So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved” (Acts 2:40-47).
“Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common. And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all. Nor was there anyone among them who lacked; for all who were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the proceeds of the things that were sold, and laid them at the apostles’ feet; and they distributed to each as anyone had need. And Joses, who was also named Barnabas by the apostles (which is translated Son of Encouragement), a Levite of the country of Cyprus, having land, sold it, and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet” (Acts 4:32-37).
We must needs pay close attention to the words which are found within these passages of Scripture—particularly that which is found in the first and second chapters—for within them we encounter an early church who gathered and committed themselves together in prayer. You cannot speak about the early church without speaking of certain key elements—preaching, power, persecution and prayer. I am absolutely convinced that when we speak of the early church we must needs understand that it was indeed a praying church that was filled with praying men and women who gathered themselves together to pray and intercede with each other. This is something which warrants strong consideration within our hearts and minds for it brings us to the place where we recognize just how vital and critical prayer is for the saints of God. What’s more is I would dare say that prayer is indeed the lifeblood and lifeline of the church. What’s more is the church cannot truly function without and apart from prayer and intercession for the two enable the church to thrive and function within the earth. Not only this but as I have already mentioned prayer is one of—if not the greatest means of connecting with other members of the body of Christ. Oh there is a degree and measure of connecting with others that can take place through fellowship in the corporate setting of the church service. There is a degree and measure of connecting with others that can take place through the breaking of bread, however, I am absolutely convinced that the single greatest way of connecting with others is through prayer and intercession. In fact I would dare say that prayer was designed—not only as a means of connecting with the Father but also connecting with others. Even the first word of what we would call “The Lord’s Prayer” directly links and connects the spiritual members of the body of Christ and connects them to each other.
I firmly believe that we as the saints of God must recognize and understand that if we want to truly connect with the living and eternal God—and not only connect with the living and eternal God but also connect with His saints we need to do so through prayer. Prayer is indeed the single greatest means and method whereby we are able to connect to the Father and to others. Notice the first two words of “The Lord’s Prayer” not only connects us to the Father but also connects us to His saints and His people. The words “Our Father” wonderfully and powerfully link prayer with our relationship with the Father as we call unto Him relating and speaking to Him as Father as well as emphasizing our relationship with others using the word “our.” Notice the Lord never instructed us to pray unto the Father using the words “My Father,” thus making it an individual prayer. If we are truly honest with ourselves and with the Spirit we must needs recognize that the Lord’s Prayer was taught that the disciples and followers of Christ might be able to connect to the Father and at the same time they connect with others. There is a great need for us to recognize and pay close attention to the opening words of “The Lord’s Prayer” for the words which are found within it bring us face to face to face with our relationship to and with the Father as well as our relationship to and with His people. I firmly believe The Lord’s Prayer was designed by the Lord to connect men and women to the Father by calling, addressing and speaking to Him as Father and to connect men and women to each other as their hearts and spirits are united within this prayer.
It is with this in mind I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the different prayers which are recorded in the epistles and writings of the apostle Paul unto these churches for they bring us face to face with his care, his concern and his compassion for the churches. What’s more is I would dare say that the apostle Paul did at times pray and intercede for the churches alone and by himself, however, I would also suggest there were other times when the apostle Paul would pray for the churches with others together with him. I would suggest that even while the apostle Paul was in bonds, in chains, and in prison he was present together with others who would join together with him in prayer for and on behalf of the churches. This is something we must needs recognize and understand for it brings us face to face with the absolutely wonderful truth surrounding the apostle Paul connecting to other members of the spiritual body of Christ through prayer—and not merely prayer but prayer for the churches and for the saints of God. Having said this I invite you to consider the following words which are found in these epistles concerning the apostle Paul and his prayer(s) for the churches—prayers which demonstrated and manifested his care, his concern and his compassion for them. Consider if you will the following words which are found in these epistles beginning with the epistle written unto the saints which were at Ephesus:
“Therefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers: that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of his calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come. And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all” (Ephesians 1:15-23).
“For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehended with all the saints what is the width and length, and depth and height—to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen” (Ephesians 3:14-21).
“I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy, for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Christ; just as it is right for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart, inasmuch as both in my chains and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, you all are partakers with me of grace. For God is my witness, how greatly I long for you all with the affection of Jesus Christ. And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God” (Philippians 1:3-11).
“We give thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of your love for all the saints; because of the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, of which you heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel, which has come to you, as it has also in all the world, and is bringing forth fruit, as it is also among you since the day you heard and knew the grace of God in truth; as you also learned from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf, who also declared to us your love in the Spirit” (Colossians 1:3-8).
“For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy; giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things that were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principality or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. And he is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence” (Colossians 1:9-18).
“We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers, remembering without easing your work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the sight of our God and Father, knowing, beloved brethren, your election by God. For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit and in much assurance, as you know what kind of men we were among you for your sake. And you became followers of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became examples to all in Macedonia and Achaia who believe. For from you the word of the Lord has sounded forth, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place. Your father toward God has gone out, so that we do not need to say anything. For they themselves declare concerning us what manner of entry we had to you, and how you turned to God fro idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come” (1 Thessalonians 1:2-10).
“For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcome it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe. For you, brethren, became imitators of the churches of God which are in Judaea in Christ Jesus. For you also suffered the same things from your own countrymen, just as they did from the Judeans, who killed both the Lord Jesus and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they do not please God and are contrary to all men, forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they may be saved, so as always to fill up the measure of their sins; but Warth has come upon them to the uttermost” (1 Thessalonians 2:13-16).
“Now may our God and Father Himself, and our Lord Jesus Christ, direct our way to you. And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all, just as we do to you, so that He may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints” (1 Thessalonians 3:11-13).
“We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is fitting, because your faith grows exceedingly, and the love of every one of you all abounds toward each other, so that we ourselves boast of you among the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecution and tribulations that you endure, which is manifest evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you also suffer; since it is a righteous thin with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you, and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, when He comes, in that Day, to be glorified in His saints and to be admired among all those who believe, because our testimony among you was believed. Therefore we also pray always for you that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfill all the good pleasure of His goodness and the work of faith with power, that the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thessalonians 1:3-12).
“But we are bound to give thanks to God walls for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God from the beginning chose you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth, to which He called you by our gospel, for the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle. Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and our God and Father, who has loves us and given us everlasting consolation and good hope by grace, comfort your hearts and establish you in every good word and work” (2 Thessalonians 2:13-17).
It was absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the words which are found within these passages of Scripture for within them we encounter the absolutely wonderful truth surrounding the care, the concern and compassion the apostle Paul had for the churches. The apostle Paul was continually burdened with great distress and concern for the churches that they would not lose heart and that they would remain strengthened in all might that is found in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. The apostle Paul continually and repeatedly prayed for and interceded on behalf of the churches and I am convinced he not only prayed for the churches while he was present within his prison cell(s) but he also prayed for the churches together with his fellow companions—those who came to visit him while he was present in prison. The apostle Paul was one whose heart and soul continually burned with passion and desire for the churches and he was not willing to leave them unattended within and through prayer. The apostle Paul deliberately and intentionally sought to pray for the churches and lift them before the throne of grace in prayer that they might be strengthened with all might, that they might not waver, that they might remain steadfast and strong and that they might abound in all knowledge of the Father and the Son. This is something which warrants strong consideration for it brings us face to face with the care and concern the apostle Paul had for the churches—and not only the care and concern he had for the churches but also how prayer and intercession was one of the greatest means and methods whereby the apostle Paul connected with his fellow workers, his fellow brethren, his fellow prisoners, and even his fellow soldiers in Christ. In fact I am convinced that the prayers which are written and found within the epistles written by the apostle Paul are a powerful and perfect segway into the words which are found in the fourth and final chapter of the epistle written unto the COlossian saints. It is in the final chapter of the epistle written by the apostle Paul unto these saints where we find similar language to what was used in the sixteenth and final chapter of the epistles written unto the saints which were at Rome. Moreover the words we find in the final chapter of this epistle wonderfully mirror the words and language the apostle Paul used in other epistles concerning his faithful brothers and companions in the faith and in the work of the ministry.
When you come to the fourth and final chapter of the epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the Colossian saints you will find the apostle Paul beginning with instruction given unto masters concerning their relationship to the servants entrusted into their care—namely to give unto them what is just and fair knowing that they also had a Master in heaven. This would be immediately followed by the apostle Paul exhorting and admonishing these saints to continue earnestly in prayer being vigilant in it with thanksgiving. How absolutely incredible it is to read these words which are written by the apostle Paul for not only did he instruct them to continue earnestly in prayer but he also instructed and admonished them to be vigilant in it—and not only to be vigilant in it but to do so with thanksgiving. This reminds me of the words the apostle Paul wrote unto the saints which were in Thessalonica when he admonished them to pray without ceasing. Moreover this reminds me of the words the apostle Paul wrote unto the saints which were at Philippi admonishing and instructing them to be anxious for nothing but in prayer and supplication for everything making their requests known unto God. What’s more is it reminds me of the words which James the half brother of the Lord wrote in his epistle when he wrote of the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availing much. Oh there is within scripture a powerful understanding that we to pray without ceasing and that we are to be those who bring everything to the throne of God and before the Father in prayer. Not only this but I am reminded of the words which the author of the epistle written unto the Hebrews wrote when they spoke of coming boldly unto the throne of grace that they might obtain mercy and grace to help in time of need. We as the saints of God must recognize the supreme importance of prayer and that we have indeed been called to be those who commit ourselves to fervent and continual prayer before the Father. It was Elijah who was a man of like passions as us and yet continued to pray until he saw the manifestation of his prayer in the form of a cloud the size of a man’s hand rising from the sea signaling the abundance of rain.
If you continue reading within this passage of Scripture you will find the apostle Paul continues to instruct these saints to walk in wisdom toward those who are outside redeeming the time. Not only this but the apostle Paul admonished them to let their speech always be with grace seasoned with salt that they might know how they ought to answer each one. Oh this is something we must recognize within ourselves for perhaps one of the greatest questions we must needs ask ourselves is whether or not we truly know how to talk to others. What’s more is not only must we ask whether or not we know how to talk to others but we must also ask ourselves whether we know how to respond to others. There is a great need within our hearts and souls to understand and acknowledge that we have indeed been called to know how to speak to others—regardless of how they speak to us. Not only this but there is a need for us as the saints of God to truly be wise with our words and to let our words be few. There was one who once admonished men to preach always and if necessary use words and we must recognize that one of—if not the greatest witnesses within our lives is our witness and our testimony. As a direct result of this we must not only ask ourselves how we are living and conducting ourselves in the world but we must also ask ourselves how we speak to others. Do we truly know how to talk to others—and not merely talk to others but have our speech be biblically sound? Is our speech seasoned with salt and founded with grace toward others? Are we such who have absolutely no clue how to talk to people—much less how to actually respond and react to them? Jesus spoke of those who cursed us, those who persecuted us, those who spitefully used us and the like and the question we must ask ourselves is whether or not we are indeed those who recognize whether or not we know how to speak to and respond to such individuals. Jesus admonished us to bless those who curse us, to do good to those who do evil unto us and to pray for those who spitefully use and persecute us. With this being said there is a great need for us to recognize and acknowledge whether or not we are indeed men and women who who recognize the importance of the words which proceed forth out of our mouths:
“Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or else make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for a tree is known by its fruit. Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned” (Matthew 12:33-37).
“Then Peter answered and said to Him, Explain this parable to us. So Jesus said, Are you also still without understanding? Do you not yet understand that whatever enters into the mouth goes into the stomach and is eliminated? But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. These are the things which defile a man, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile a man” (Matthew 15:15-20).
“If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bride his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is useless. Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself in spotted from the world” (James 1:26-27).
“My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive stricter judgment. For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body. Indeed, we put bits in horses’ mouths that they may obey us, and we turn their whole body. Look also at ships: although they are so large and are driven by fierce winds, they are turned by a very shall rudder wherever the pilot desires. Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and is set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and creature of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by mankind. But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring send forth fresh water and bitter from the same opening? Can a fig tree, my brethren, bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Thus no spring yields both salt water and fresh” (James 3:1-12).
As I prepare to bring this writing to a close I find it necessary to call and draw your attention to the language the apostle Paul used in the final verses of this chapter. Verses seven through fifteen of the fourth and final chapter of this epistle not only provide specific greetings to certain individuals within the church but also uses powerful language describing these individuals who were near and dear unto the apostle Paul. When you read the words found in this passage of Scripture you will find certain names mentioned by the apostle Paul—and not only names of certain individuals but also their contribution unto the body of Christ. Perhaps one of the greatest questions we must needs ask ourselves is whether or not we are contributing to the body of Christ. Each and every one of us who is a member of the spiritual body of Christ has been uniquely placed within the body to occupy our place and to move and operate in the role and place ordained and appointed for us by the Father. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for it brings us face to face with the absolutely wonderful truth surrounding the individual members of the spiritual body of Christ and whether or not they are such who are truly making a contribution unto the body of Christ.
Upon reading the words found within these verses you will find Paul writing of Tychicus whom he referred to as “a beloved brother,” a “faithful minister,” and a “fellow servant.” The purpose of the apostle Paul mentioning this brother is because he was sending him unto these saints that they might not only tell them all the new about the apostle Paul but that he might know their circumstances and comfort their hearts. What we must needs recognize is that the apostle Paul wasn’t merely sending Tychicus unto the Colossian saints for he was also sending him with Onesimus whom he referred to and regards as a “faithful and beloved brother” who was one of them. How absolutely wonderful and incredible this truly is when you consider the language used concerning these two men whom the apostle Paul not only regarded as brothers unto him but also as brothers unto the saints of God which were in Christ Jesus. The apostle Paul referred to both of them as being beloved brothers, however, the apostle Paul would refer to Onesimus as being a “faithful” brother. Please note this isn’t in any way to place Onesimus on a pedestal but to describe something that is desperately needed among brothers (and sisters) in Christ Jesus. There is a great and wonderful need for brothers and sisters in Christ to be those who recognize and understand that we have indeed been called to be faithful—first unto Christ Jesus and secondly faithful to the body of Christ. We have a great need to be such who ask ourselves whether or not we are indeed faithful unto the Lord Jesus Christ and whether or not we are faithful unto the body of Christ as we fulfill that which we have been called to according to the perfect will of the Father.
If you continue reading the words which are found in this passage of Scripture you will find the apostle Paul speaking of another individual—Aristarchus—whom he referred to as his fellow prisoner. Not only this but the apostle Paul also writes and speaks of Mark the cousin of Barnabas and Jesus who was called Justus whom he referred to as fellow workers for the kingdom of God who were of the circumcision. There is a great need for us to recognize and pay attention to that which the apostle Paul writes in this passage of Scripture for within it we find the apostle Paul speaking of a “fellow servant,” of a “fellow prisoner” and of “fellow workers” for the kingdom of God. Not only this but the apostle Paul goes on to write and speak of another whose name was Epaphras who he spoke of as being one of them who was a bondservants of Christ—and not only a bond servant of Christ but also one who always labored fervently for them in prayers that they might stand perfect and complete in all the will of God. The words which we find in this passage of Scripture must be carefully considered as they call and draw our attention to the absolutely wonderful reality of how we conduct ourselves as members of the spiritual body of Christ. In the sixteenth chapter of the epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the saints which were at Rome he again mentions individuals by name and proceeds to describe them and their role and function within the body of Christ. The apostle Paul referred to as Aquila and Priscilla whom he regarded as his fellow workers in Christ Jesus who risked their own necks for his life. The apostle Paul also referred to Mary who labored much for them and Andronicus and Junia his countrymen and fellow prisoners who were of note among the apostles and who were in Christ before him. The apostle Paul mentioned Urbanus whom he referred to as a fellow worker in Christ and Apelles who was approved in Christ. There were other individuals whom the apostle Paul used additional language to describe them—namely Trphena and Tryphosa who labored in the Lord and Persistence who labored much in the Lord.
We as the saints of God must needs recognize that we have a unique place within the body of Christ and that we have been called to occupy that place according to the call of God that is placed upon our lives. WE must understand and recognize what is that good and perfect will of God for our lives that we might indeed be those who are able to operate and function in the will of God for our lives as members as the spiritual body of Christ. Are you as a saint of God truly occupying your place within the body of Christ—and by occupy I mean more than simply occupying a seat in the church building on Sunday morning and/or Wednesday evening or any other midweek service? Are you one who is truly laboring much for the Lord and one who is truly a fellow worker and fellow soldier together with the members of the body of Christ? Are you one who truly loves and has an affection and compassion for the saints of God and truly walk in it as the men and women we have indeed been called to be? We must be men and women who will labor much in prayer and intercession and men and women who will labor much that the spiritual body of Christ that they body of Christ might grow and become that which the living and eternal God has called and ordained for it. Are you as a saint of God, are you as a disciple of Christ, are you as one who professes to be faithful in the Lord not only occupying your place within the body but also fulfilling what you have been called to? Are you burying your talent(s) in the earth hoping to give it back when the time comes to give an account of one’s stewardship or are you one who is taking what you have been entrusted with that you might indeed be found faithful unto the Lord in what He has indeed called you to in this life.