Monday, February 6, 2023

Jesus Lord of All #8: Lord and Master Colossians 4

Jesus Lord of All #8: Lord and Master

Colossians 4

Paul finishes his thoughts on Jesus being the lord of our daily living, by applying the principles to masters as the last group of the Christian household, from that statement he then segues ways into the last chapter of the book which is centered on the topic of Christ as our Master.

4:1 Masters, give unto your servants that which is just and equal; knowing that ye also have a Master in heaven. Since they “… have a Master.” He then tells the Colossians what they should do in service to their “master in heaven.” This all goes back to the theme of the preeminence of Christ. I serve Him because He is my Master and there is no greater calling and no greater service that any of us can do in this world than serve Jesus, The Master and Lord of All. The last chapter of Colossians is a job description, complete with example for servants of Christ. And even though it has been 2000 years since it was written, Paul’s job description still applies to us as servants of the Lord today.

So what does Paul tell the Colossians to do as servants of Jesus their Lord? First, he says in vs. 2-4 that …

I.    The Lord’s Servants Pray and Watch – Colossians 1:2-4

2 Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving; 3 Withal praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds: 4 That I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak.

A.    Serving In Prayer

1.    Paul asks them to pray in three ways. They are to pray…

a)    Steadfastly: “Continue, Paul says, in prayer.” This means be faithful in your discipline of prayer, be devoted, be consistent and do not give up. We are told in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 “Pray without ceasing.” Servants of the Lord don’t quit praying and they don’t give up on the people and needs that you are praying for.

b)    Expectantly: Watch in prayer. To watch to be on the lookout, to be alert. This is applied in two ways. We pray with expectation looking for God to answer our prayers and we pray with your eyes open to the danger and opposition that always await the servant of God. This is how God’s people have always made it in this world. Back in Nehemiah 4:9. When Nehemiah and the people were rrebuilding the walls of Jerusalem. Nevertheless, we made our prayer unto our God, and set a watch against them day and night, because of them.

c)    Paul may have been thinking of what Jesus said to the disciples in Mark 14:38 Watch ye and pray, lest ye enter into temptation. The spirit truly is ready, but the flesh is weak. It is by being consistent and watchful in our prays that the strength of our spirit can overcome the weakness of our flesh.  

d)    Servants are also to pray, thankfully. “Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving.” In the previous chapter when Paul was telling the Colossian church how they should live their daily lives in the light of Jesus’ Preeminence, he told them in Colossians 3:15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful. We live thankful lives and we pray thankful prayers. We have been blessed so much by God that our lives should show our thanks and prayers should be filled with thanksgiving.

e)    Paul also says, we are to pray: Specifically. He asks them to pray for him and for those with him, his evangelistic, missionary team. He does not ask to be free from the bonds that hold him, but instead, Colossians 4:3-4 …praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds: That I may make it (the mystery of Christ)  manifest (plainly seen), as I ought to speak.

B.    Praying Is Serving

1.    How good a servant you are can be measured by your prayer life. Measure it by the yardstick of steadfastness. Measure it by the calendar of consistency. Measure it by the watch of alertness. Measure it by the tracks of your thanksgiving. Measure it by the checklist of your specific requests.

2.    Steadfast, watchful, thankful and specific prayers are the marks of a child of God who recognizes we have a Master in Heaven that we must serve.

C.   Serving By Praying

1.    Joe Campbell is a Facebook friend who I’ve never met in person, though I would dearly love to. He is a recently retired pastor and once a week he post this. “Prayed for all my Facebook friends tonight.” Sometimes it takes him two days to finish his list. I don’t know how many friends he has, but I know that when I see that post, I am very glad that I’m one of them.

2.    When I was in Bible College, I first heard Brother Roy Dearmore preach. He was a missionary to South Africa and had been ambushed by Marxist rebels and almost killed. I don’t remember everything he said or what his sermon was about but I wrote down this quote in the flyleaf of my brand new Thompson Chain Reference Bible, “Saying that we’re reduced only to prayer is like telling a soldier that he is reduced only to an atomic bomb.” – James Dearmore, missionary to Brazil and Rhodesia, South Africa

3.    Oswald Chambers said, “Prayer does not fit us for the greater works: Prayer is the greater work”

II.     The Lord’s Servants Walk Wisely – Colossians 4:5-6

5 ¶ Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time. 6  Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.

A.    Serving In Wisdom

1.    Paul then tells the Colossians that servants walk wisely toward them that are not part of the church. They understand the difference between the world and who they are. They are not of the world even thought they are in the world.

a)    Jesus spoke of this in John 17:16-20 They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth. Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;

b)    I am always struck by this verse because in it Jesus prays directly for me and for you, “for them also which shall believe on me through their word.” That is us, thousands of year later that is Jesus still praying for us. Walking wisely in this world means that I know I’m in this world, but I’m not part of this world and my purpose is to change this world through the Word of God. That is walking wisely. Next Paul says that wisdom means.

2.    Redeeming the Time: This means make the most efficient use of time and service.

a)    To redeem is to buy back it.  It is to buy up opportunities. In the case of a Christian, by using time and opportunity wisely in God’s service, first here on earth, means that we get a double blessing. Here by serving Him and one day in Heaven when we see what our service, prayers, sacrifice and work produced in heaven. We invest here by redeeming the time and we reap the dividends, the rewards of our investment one day in the glories of heaven’s courts.

b)    Paul writes the same ethic, the same guideline to the Colossians and to the Ephesians 5:16 Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Everything we do should be weighed with the consideration, “Will this be a seed that will bring a harvest in heaven.”

c)    Remember what Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount, “Matthew 6:19-21 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”

3.    Paul says to “walk in wisdom” and next he adds, “talk in wisdom.” Our Speech should also be wise. Colossians 4:6 Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man. He uses a phrase that once again reminds us of the sermon on the mount.

a)    Jesus said, “Matthew 5:13 Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.”

4.    Our speech must be grace seasoned with salt, the grace of the Gospel, the grace of God’s love seasoned the salt of holiness and righteousness.  Our speech must not be so gracious that it never speaks of sin nor must it be so judgmental that it never calls out in the love of God to the lost.

a)    This is the wise balance, the equal telling of truth in love. Ephesians 4:15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:

b)    Later in the same chapter, Ephesians 4:29 Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.

c)    Again we hear Paul in his own words echo the teachings of Jesus, “Matthew 10:16 Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.”

d)    The wise servant lives their life and speaks their words wisely, graciously, truth seasoned with love. They live in the world but not of the world. They speak the world’s language without surrendering to the world lifestyle.

1.    Now Paul concludes his epistle with a roll call of those who are with him and those he wishes the Colossians to remember him to. Paul closes most of his letter this way, but here the roll call also serves as illustrations and examples of what and who Paul has been teaching. These name are the …

III.    The Lord’s Servants Roll Call – Colossians 4:7-17

7 ¶ All my state shall Tychicus declare unto you, who is a beloved brother, and a faithful minister and fellowservant in the Lord: 8  Whom I have sent unto you for the same purpose, that he might know your estate, and comfort your hearts;
9  With Onesimus, a faithful and beloved brother, who is one of you. They shall make known unto you all things which are done here.
10  Aristarchus my fellowprisoner saluteth you, and Marcus, sister’s son to Barnabas, (touching whom ye received commandments: if he come unto you, receive him;)
11  And Jesus, which is called Justus, who are of the circumcision. These only are my fellowworkers unto the kingdom of God, which have been a comfort unto me.
12  Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, saluteth you, always labouring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.
13  For I bear him record, that he hath a great zeal for you, and them that are in Laodicea, and them in Hierapolis.
14  Luke, the beloved physician, and Demas, greet you.
15  Salute the brethren which are in Laodicea, and Nymphas, and the church which is in his house.
16  And when this epistle is read among you, cause that it be read also in the church of the Laodiceans; and that ye likewise read the epistle from Laodicea.
17  And say to Archippus, Take heed to the ministry which thou hast received in the Lord, that thou fulfil it.

A.    Serving Christ With Paul

1.    Paul begins with the Tychicus, one of the messengers who would deliver both the Ephesian and the Colossian letters that Paul had written. His name means fateful, destined. His destiny was to be Paul’s beloved companion, fellow prisoner and faithful messenger. Paul sent him to Ephesus, to Colosse, and to Crete.

2.    His name reminds me that our destiny, our purpose as a child of God is to serve. If you are saved, then you must serve. If you are not willing to be a faithful servant then do not blame others if they question your salvation. Just was we see in these examples listed here, the two states, salvation and service, always stand together.

3.    The next servant is Onesimus. The runaway slave that found Paul, was saved and now Paul is sending him back to his master Philemon. Onesimus means profitable servant.

a)    Paul sent him back with his own letter for his former master, Philemon and in it he wrote, “Philemon 1:10-11 I beseech thee for my son Onesimus, whom I have begotten in my bonds: Which in time past was to thee unprofitable, but now profitable to thee and to me: later in vss Philemon 1:17-18 If thou count me therefore a partner, receive him as myself. If he hath wronged thee, or oweth thee ought, put that on mine account;

b)    Aren’t we are just like Onesimus? Runaway slaves that by the power of grace have returned to our Lord? Knowing that now we can quit running and begin to serve our Savior.

4.    Now Paul lists those who are with him in the prison or able to minister to him while he was in bonds. First, he mentions the Jewish Christians who are with him.

a)    Aristarchus is from Thessalonica. His name means “the best ruler.” He is now also a prisoner with Paul, perhaps voluntarily sharing imprisonment with him in order to keep him company, encourage and comfort him during the dark days of being held by Roman authorities.

b)    Aristarchus reminds us that sometimes service to the Lord means just being there when others hurt.  Just taking the time to say a prayer, hold a hand or tell them they are not alone. 

d)    Next is Marcus also known as John Mark. He is Barnabus’ nephew and the writer of the Gospel of Mark, though he has not written it yet. His name means “a defense.” And this is the same John mark who deserted Paul and his uncle Barnabus on their very first trip in Acts 15:36-39. When Paul and Barnabus got read for their second trip Paul refused to take John Mark and Barnabus refused to leave him behind and the Bible says that so great was the contention between them that they parted. Paul went one way and Barnabus with another. But now years later Mark is once again with Paul. Not just with him but serving again and Paul is commended him. 

e)    Later in Paul’s last days before he was martyred, in his last letter to Timothy he writes in 2 Timothy 4:11, “Only Luke is with me. Take Mark and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry.” He calls for Marcus whose has now lived up to his name of “Defense” and will come with Timothy to help shore up and fortify Paul before he goes to his faithful death. What an example of forgiveness and reconciliation. What an example of being a true servant of the Lord. 

f)    John Mark’s story shows us that God never gives up on us, therefore we should never give up on God and never give up on our fellow servants who even when they stumble, God can still use. 

5.    There is Jesus, a Jew, who is called Justus. Probably not hard to see this but his name means, “just.” It was common among early Christians to take on a new name to recognize their new identity, perhaps Jesus, chose this name because he had been justified by the believing the Gospel or perhaps because as a servant he was marked by the way he treated other, fairly and justly. 

6.    Next Paul lists the Gentiles and first on the list is Epaphras. We first heard of Epaphras in the first few verse of this epistle. In Colossians 1:7 As ye also learned of Epaphras our dear fellowservant, who is for you a faithful minister of Christ. He was a teacher and minister to the church. 

7.    His name literally means devoted to Aphrodite, the goddess of love, it was understood as “lovely.” Epaphras has moved from being devoted to a pagan goddess to devoted to the true God and that was truly lovely. 

8.    Paul pays him the highest honor by calling him “A servant of Christ.” This is the kind of person Paul has been describing in the last part of this letter. Epaphras, Paul says, Colossians 4:12-13 (Epaphras is) always labouring 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 for you, and them that are in Laodicea, and them in Hierapolis.

9.    Epaphras shows us what is truly lovely in God’s service, a servant who labors in prayer, a servant who has the great zeal, a great desire and yearning, to learn and then to teach others what he has learned of the things of God. 

10.    Then comes Luke, Paul’s constant and most faithful friend and companion, the one he calls the “beloved physician.” Do you know what the name Luke means? It is translated from the Greek and means "light-giving." Luke’s service was in serving Paul but it was also in bring light to the Gentile as the only Gentile who God used to write two of the books of the Bible. Not only that but Luke’s Gospel and Acts of the Apostles are the greatest volume of words in the New Testament. They are the most detailed and the most exact in their movements and times. It is interesting to think that both John Mark and Luke are with Paul at this time and could have been already taking notes and beginning to write their accounts of Jesus life and the first acts of the church. 

11.    Let’s wrap this up quickly, there is Demas which is short for Demetrius. His name means “governor of the people."  We learn later on that he deserted the apostle Paul, when he was imprisoned the last time in Rome returns to Thessalonica. 2 Timothy 4:10  For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica. We don’t know what become of Demas. I like to think that just like John Mark, he was brought back by a Barnabus or by Luke who had traveled with him for so long. 

12.    Those he ask to greet for him in Colosse, Nymphas, his name means “bridegroom.” He was probably a well off Christian in Laodicea because he was able to have a home large enough to hosted the church in his home. 

13.    Here is Archippus. His name means "master of the horse." (I don’t think I can apply that name here but if you go to the cowboy church out on the loop, I’m sure they can preach a whole series of sermons from the middle of their Rodeo corral on Archippus.) He was actually the pastor of the church of Colosse, possibly the son of Philemon and Paul sends him an encouragement or perhaps it is a warning, “Take heed to your ministry literally “keep an eye on” your ministry. Fulfill your calling. Literally "that thou keep on filling it full."  Paul was telling Archippus, your  calling is for a life-time, therefor guard it carefully that nothing in this world would strip you of the joy of being a pastor and a preacher for Jesus. 

14.     Archippus shows us how valuable, how precious is the calling that we all have as servants of God. Keep an eye on your ministry, guard it as the thing most valuable to you. It alone has the ability to translate what you do today with what you reap in eternity. Fulfill you calling and then keep on filling it full. Isn’t that a great phrase. Just keep on filling it full. It is the calling of a lifetime and it will take all our lifetime to fulfill it. You’re not too old, too tired, too young, too inexperience, too uneducated, too ugly, too pretty or too bald to stop heeding your ministry. 

1.    Many of you knew brother Bill Watson who served as a pastor in this area for many, many years. He pastored Faith Baptist and Leagueville and I don’t know how many other churches. Long after his physical health and even his mental health had declined to the point that he could no longer serve do you know what remained? His desire to continue to keep filling up his ministry. At his funeral the story was told that when he was visited they would find him with his Bible, his notes and in the course of conversation, he would often say, “I think I still might be able to help out in a little country church somewhere.”

2.    Our own sister Karen talks about her dad, J. D. Johnston who even after moving into the nursing home would still preach and teach those around him and was not afraid to contend for the faith especially when confronted by the false gospel of a member of the false Church of Christ.

IV.    Conclusion

A.    Two Things I Remember

 1.    John Newton the drunkard slave ship captain who was sold into slavery himself but then by God’s grace became a pastor and the hymn writer who penned “Amazing Grace, when he was old and his mind failing said this, “Although my memory is fading, I remember two things very clearly: I am a great sinner and Christ is a great Savior.” - John Newton

B.    There are two things that I fear 

1.    No death is not one of them. I’ve been close to death several times now, from the first time when I was almost electrocuted as a 4 year-old and my Dad saved me to the last as a 55 year old suffering a heart valve failure and LeeOra saved me. There have been several other times in between that due to the stupidity of youth or the illnesses of this world I have thought this is it. I’m going home. Not ever did I fear what would come after death. 

2.    No, what I fear in the future is coming to the place where due to my age or my health, I can no longer serve the Lord as a pastor. I don’t know what comes after that. I don’t want to find out, though I know I must. I want to keep filling my service, my ministry full. It gets harder with each passing year, but the desire never diminishes. 

3.    Shouldn’t it be that way for all us? Every one of us no matter age or education knows and will never forget the same two things that John Newton remembered. I am a great sinner and Jesus Christ is a great savior. How then can I be anything but a humble servant to the end of my life. How can anyone who has been touched by grace, saved by the gospel and adopted into the family of God ever be anything but a servant of our sweet Savior.

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