Prison pen pal (Colossians 1:1-8) *Verses in New Living Translation (NLT)*
Small Group Quesitons
Who are you encouraging to be a better Christian?
Do you support and encourage missions? Do you have a relationship with a missionary?
What missionaries do you pray for?
What are you doing to bring the gospel to the world?
– Last week we finished the Book of Acts, and it ended with Paul as a prisoner in Rome.
– This week we start the Book of Colossians. A “prison letter” written by Paul during that time.
– This letter is written to the Church in Colosse, a young and faithful church of mostly Gentiles. They were dealing with the influences of false teachings detracting from the all-sufficiency of Christ.
– Paul has actually never met them in person, but he knows them through Epaphras, who learned the Good News through Paul, and brought it home to Colosse, basically “planting” that church.
– The theme of this letter is that Christ is all sufficient, and above all things. Christians are made complete in Him alone, needing nothing else for salvation.
– Read Colossians 1:1-8
#1. Paul’s letter brings encouragement.
– Paul says things like, “May God give you grace and peace… We always pray for you… We have heard of your faith in Christ and love for God’s people.” and mentions their confident hope in heaven.
– This must have been so encouraging to here! Relatively new believers, still figuring out this church thing, faithful but also enduring constant pressure from the culture to compromise their beliefs.
– It’s like Paul is saying, “I see you, you have a great foundation, so don’t give up on doing good!”
– Example: I need this in my life! I thrive off of genuine positive encouragement. That’s why BOOT CAMP was so hard. Nothing but a constant threat of punishment for failure.
– Only motivated to avoid punishment, not to obtain the reward.
– Fear produces a short-term gain, but a long-term loss. (Negative bias, not wanting to try…)
– I learned the hard way what NOT to do, but I was never confident if I was doing the right things correctly. (Like learning how to march. “I AM leaning back and strutting!!”)
– The discipline I learned has been supremely valuable, but the method of delivery was damaging… but it didn’t have to be.
– (Could have been worse: Korean war vet who got butt stroked for messing up…)
– In today’s scriptures, Paul focuses them on the hope of heaven, not the fear of hell.
– Paul says, “…just as it changed your lives from the day you first heard and understood the truth about God’s wonderful grace.”
– 1 Thess. 5:9-11, For God chose to save us through our Lord Jesus Christ, not to pour out his anger on us. 10 Christ died for us so that, whether we are dead or alive when he returns, we can live with him forever. 11 So encourageeach other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.
– Romans 15:13, I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.
– This is in no way saying that godly discipline is not necessary or important. In fact, I’m saying it is, but the delivery is important too. Consider the outcome you are looking for.
Example: Father bragging about punishment of daughter, took everything she owned away and she had to earn it back one by one. She never spoke to him again. (was that the goal?)
– Eph. 4:29, Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.
– Hebrews 12:5, And have you forgotten the encouraging words God spoke to you as his children? He said, “My child, don’t make light of the Lord’s discipline, and don’t give up when he corrects you.
– I don’t want to live in fear every day, worried that at any moment I could be disqualified. BUT, I clearly want someone to send me on the right path when I begin to stray!
– 2 Timothy 4:2, Preach the word of God. Be prepared, whether the time is favorable or not. Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your people with good teaching.
– Paul chooses this moment to encourage the Colossians in their walk with Jesus.
#2. We, as the Global Church, are all connected.
– Paul is praying for, and thanking God for, a church he has never even met in person. Why? Because he knows that they love God and His people, and are “…faithful brothers and sisters in Christ.”
– Col. 2:1-2, I want you to know how much I have agonized for you and for the church at Laodicea, and for many other believers who have never met me personally. 2 I want them to be encouraged and knit together by strong ties of love.
– Example: Our church has a relationship with a church in Pakistan, because Pastor Todd connected with another faithful believer named Robin, on Facebook.
– Robin reached out to “another brother in Christ” (Todd) for prayer and fellowship. His faith stuck out to Todd, and they began skyping once a month.
– A year later our church started providing financial support to their church in Pakistan.
– FVC Pakistan is in a heavily persecuted area, where you’d probably go to jail for sharing the gospel. The Government is not favorable to Christians. Even still, they are a growing church, providing food and aid to other Pakistani Christian churches, they’ve passed out thousands of bibles, and are currently supporting about 80 families during the COVID-19 crisis.
– Robin has tried to visit us several times, but as you can imagine, it is difficult for a young, single, male from a Muslim country to get a visa to visit America.
– In 2018, about 5 years after they first connected, Pastor Todd travelled to Pakistan and they were able to final meet face to face.
– Todd said to me, “The thing that struck me when we visited was that these people are faithful to God. They are the few and the persecuted and face overwhelming challenges but walk in God’s confidence every day. It’s very humbling.”
– You can connect with them too, FVC Pakistan on Facebook.
– We are connected through Jesus Christ to other churches all around the world! Collectively, we are the body of Christ! Even though we may have never met, we share in the Good News.
– 1 Corinthians 12:12-13, The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ. 13 Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit.
– This is how it should be! We need to stay connected. We need each other.
– Colossians 4:16, After you have read this letter, pass it on to the church at Laodicea so they can read it, too. And you should read the letter I wrote to them.
#3. A faithful servant is needed to bring the Good News.
– Colossians 1:6-7a, This same Good News that came to you is going out all over the world. It is bearing fruit everywhere by changing lives, just as it changed your lives from the day you first heard and understood the truth about God’s wonderful grace. 7 You learned about the Good News from Epaphras, our beloved co-worker. He is Christ’s faithful servant…
– Paul preached the gospel in Ephesus, Epaphras brought it back to Colosse, now they have a faithful church who shares community with Laodicea and Hierapolis, all because of the work of faithful missionaries who brought the good news.
– But Paul and Epaphras aren’t the only ones doing the work. Paul mentions many fellow servants in spreading the gospel: Tychicus, Onesimus, Aristarchus, Mark, Justus, Demas, and Luke.
– Matthew 28:19-20a, Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. 20 Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you.
– This doesn’t happen all at once. It’s going to take the whole body of Christ to accomplish.
– Example: Mission to Cambodia. Chan, Tim, and Q Missions…
– Chan, wounded in war, heard the gospel from a nurse, and taught it to his family, and to the whole community, then eventually began connecting pastors and churches together.
– Chan’s son Tim started a mission in the same village using service to teach about Jesus.
– Tim invited Q Missions to teach the village pastors about raising up leaders and teamwork, which they brought back to their churches to continue spreading the gospel. (Force multiply)
– We weren’t the first to bring the word. We didn’t plant the churches. We brought encouragement and connected the global body of Christ, and we got to be a part of spreading the gospel in Cambodia, to people we never met face to face.
– Romans 10:14-15, But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them? 15 And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent? That is why the Scriptures say, “How beautiful are the feet of messengers who bring good news!”
– Be an encourager! Your fellow believers need to know when they are on the right track.
– Make an effort to connect with other believers. You are not in competition. We are “one body”.
– Ask yourself, What am I doing to fulfill the Great Commission and share the gospel with the world?
– Alter call and closing prayer –