This letter is from Paul, chosen by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and from our brother Timothy. We are writing to God's holy people in the city of Colosse, who are faithful brothers and sisters in Christ. May God our Father give you grace and peace. Colossians 1:1-2 NLT
We will, Lord willing, be looking at Colossians over the next little while. Paul is the author, Colossae is the City, and the time is approximately A.D. 60-61 while Paul was in his first Roman imprisonment. Paul was writing to this church because heresy had begun to be taught by false teachers that Jesus was not God. Epaphras was, perhaps, the leader among this body of believers (see Colossians 1:7). He may have visited Paul in his Roman imprisonment (see Philemon 1:23). He had reported, to Paul, the concern about the false teaching that was being presented to the church by heretics who had infiltrated the ranks. Paul responds by letter to this body of believers in order to correct their understanding. His apostolic authority was recognized and well respected among the churches all over. Although he had not personally been to this location (see Colossians 2:1), he wanted to set the record straight concerning their Christology (beliefs concerning Christ Jesus). He sends the letter by a trustworthy partner in the faith named Tychicus and his comrade Onesimus (see Colossians 4:7 and Philemon 1:10-12).
Throughout this book we will see some of the most clear statements concerning Jesus deity (Creator and Supreme Being) in the entire New Testament. If Jesus was not, and is not, God, then we have no sufficient savior. Only God was, is, and will always be sinless and capable of redeeming us from our wretched sins.
Give my greetings to each of God’s holy people—all who belong to Christ Jesus. The brothers who are with me send you their greetings. And all the rest of God’s people send you greetings, too, especially those in Caesar’s household. May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.” Philippians 4:21-23 NLT
How beautiful it is to hear the love that flowed from Paul's heart to his fellow saints. He genuinely loved these people. Ministry wasn't a 9-5 job, it was a divine call and privilege. Paul understood the eternal bond he had with his "born again" family. Circumstances could not separate them from the love of Christ. “And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Romans 8:38-39 NLT One final note: Isn't it a glorious blessing to know that even the Roman emperor's (Caesar) household had heard the gospel and that there were converts to Christ among them. Even while awaiting trial and sentence in Rome, Paul continues to daily share the good news of Jesus. God has people all over the earth in lowly and lofty places. Let us remember that no matter where we are or what the circumstances, we must share Jesus with others. God's grace to you through Jesus Christ our Lord!!!
“Now all glory to God our Father forever and ever! Amen.” Philippians 4:20 NLT
Paul's focus was fixed on God. He was completely satisfied in knowing the One true God. This trust in God had sustained him regardless of his circumstances. Although he was in prison in Rome, and awaiting trial, he had utter confidence in the sovereignty of Almighty God! He was ready and willing to die for Jesus Christ. One question: Regardless of your circumstances today, good or bad, will you join the saints of the ages and give glory to the one true God? Take a moment and say the verse above out loud in a moment of worship and declaration. He does deserve all glory!!!
Even so, you have done well to share with me in my present difficulty. As you know, you Philippians were the only ones who gave me financial help when I first brought you the Good News and then traveled on from Macedonia. No other church did this. Even when I was in Thessalonica you sent help more than once. I don’t say this because I want a gift from you. Rather, I want you to receive a reward for your kindness. At the moment I have all I need—and more! I am generously supplied with the gifts you sent me with Epaphroditus. They are a sweet-smelling sacrifice that is acceptable and pleasing to God. And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:14-19 NLT
The Philippian believers were faithful, dependable supporters of the gospel. They understood the needs of the Apostle Paul. Even while he is in Rome awaiting trial, the Philippians were conscientious of Paul's situation. Because of their awareness and willingness to help, Paul did not lack in his necessities. These believers hearts were right where they needed to be. Paul didn't have to ask them for support, they simply did so out of their love for Jesus. This is the way it is supposed be work. We, as believers, should
conscientiously and willingly give to support the ministry. There is no greater cause on earth than the gospel of Jesus Christ. God is our source, He has provided the seed, He has called us to be the sowers, and He has given us the soil of His kingdom. Let's be found faithful in our sowing. Harvest can only come from releasing what is in our hand. The seed must be planted for germination (the God created process of the seed bursting open into its potential) to take place. Jesus said it like this: “I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels—a plentiful harvest of new lives.” John 12:24 NLT Our future provision is locked up in our current seed sowing. Let's die to ourselves and let's let God supply all of our needs. Isn't He the One who has all along???
How I praise the Lord that you are concerned about me again. I know you have always been concerned for me, but you didn’t have the chance to help me. Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:10-13 NLT
Paul was most thankful for a church family that genuinely cared for him. Ministry was a most difficult and challenging responsibility, especially in that time. Many Jewish leaders hated him and some Gentiles were hostile to the gospel because of their worship of false gods. He had forsaken his association with the Pharisees (the group he once held high respect within) and had given up everything to fulfill the call of Jesus upon his life. He, literally, was willing to die for Christ. His circumstances were not his utmost concern. Preaching the gospel was his greatest concern. He was willing to go hungry, be homeless, and suffer loss of everything in order to serve his Lord Jesus. Knowing that he had church family that cared for his estate was tremendously encouraging to him. Wow! What a preacher! I only wish we had more like Paul, more concerned about the gospel than creature comforts. Do you understand the burdens of those who are anointed to preach and teach the gospel and who genuinely care about their flock? Are you concerned about their needs and those who who are your church family? We must bear each other's burdens. “Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2 NLT Today, if you are in the midst of trying times and you are simply living from day to day, let this one truth encourage you as it did Paul: “For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13 NLT
“Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:9 NLT
Paul wanted the believers to continue in the things he had taught them. He not only had taught them, but he had also lived the life before them. His life was exemplary of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Paul wasn't telling the believers to believe in him or to pay him homage but to remain steadfast in the faith that he had instructed them. However, it is important to understand the principle of leadership. Paul was appointed and anointed by God to carry the gospel of grace to the world. It was extremely important for the followers of Christ to listen to his instruction and to allow his life to set the example. We all would do well to understand the significance of godly leadership. When you have a godly leader, submit to his leadership, watch his life, and follow his example. Certainly, always keep your eyes on Jesus and never retreat. Staying on course is helped by having a biblical, godly example.
Finally, believers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable and worthy of respect, whatever is right and confirmed by God’s word, whatever is pure and wholesome, whatever is lovely and brings peace, whatever is admirable and of good repute; if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think continually on these things [center your mind on them, and implant them in your heart].” PHILIPPIANS 4:8 AMP
God wants us to think on the right things. How we think determines our actions and state of life. It is vitally important that we keep our minds focused on the things that will produce godly results. We cannot do this by listening to the wrong music, reading the wrong books, hanging out with the wrong crowd, or watching the wrong programs on television. We expose our minds to so much junk in this world. God made our minds to be filled with His knowledge and beauty. Sin has tainted this. There is an old saying: "garbage in, garbage out". We are what we eat. What is your mind consuming? The mind is the devils playground. If things are going in the wrong direction, let me recommend a change of mind. God wants to fill your life with things that are true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, and good. It begins with the way you think.
“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” Romans 12:2 NLT
“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7 NLT
Do you need God's peace today? Are you going through something that has you worried and uncertain? Tell God what you need and begin thanking Him for all He has already done to bring you thus far. He has brought you from there to here. He will take you from here to there. Trust Him today. He wants to help you. Peace isn't the absence of trouble, it is the presence of God!!! Rest in His presence. He's got you!
“Let your gentle spirit [your graciousness, unselfishness, mercy, tolerance, and patience] be known to all people. The Lord is near.” PHILIPPIANS 4:5 AMP
Are you gentle with people? I've met "Christians" that were as rough as a corn cob when it comes to relating to, and handling, others. There is a time to be stern and firm but, in most cases, gentleness is the way to go. Listen to the words of James 3:17 “But the wisdom from above is first pure [morally and spiritually undefiled], then peace-loving [courteous, considerate], gentle, reasonable [and willing to listen], full of compassion and good fruits. It is unwavering, without [self-righteous] hypocrisy [and self-serving guile].” AMP Galatians 5:22-23 also describes the character that the Holy Spirit gives. “But the fruit of the Spirit [the result of His presence within us] is love [unselfish concern for others], joy, [inner] peace, patience [not the ability to wait, but how we act while waiting], kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law.” AMP Again, let me ask: Are you gentle with people? God can, and will, give you the character to be so. Ask the Holy Spirit to fill you today and submit to Him. If you are a believer, the Holy Spirit resides in you. The question is this: How much of you is submitted to Him? Stop making excuses for your rough personality, stop walking in your fleshly nature, submit to the Holy Spirit, and let Jesus shine through. “But I say, walk habitually in the [Holy] Spirit [seek Him and be responsive to His guidance], and then you will certainly not carry out the desire of the sinful nature [which responds impulsively without regard for God and His precepts].” Galatians 5:16 AMP
“Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice!” Philippians 4:4 NLT
As believers in Jesus Christ we have a reason to rejoice in every moment of every day. We are saved from the eternal wrath of God in hell, we are assured of eternal life in heaven, we have His mercy and grace, and so much more. Although we deserve judgment because of sin, God has provided us with His great mercy. Mercy is defined as punishment withheld. Grace is defined as kindness imparted instead of punishment. God has mercifully and graciously given us His Son Jesus Christ. This is an eternal reason to rejoice. Where would we be without Christ? How could we face the tribulations of life without His hope? When we look beyond the life we now live, to the life we are destined for, we can joy in what awaits us and we can face the current circumstances of life with comfort, confidence, hope, and joy. Joy isn't happiness. Happiness is circumstantial. When things are good (we have good health, a good job, the bills paid, money to spend, etc.) we can be "happy". However, when the bills are more than the income, our health is challenged, the marriage is rocky, the job is uncertain, and we feel overwhelmed, it is most difficult to be "happy". Joy is the inner presence of God, by the Holy Spirit, that gives us assurance regardless of the circumstances (see Galatians 5:22). True joy is only experienced in a relationship with God through His Son Jesus Christ. Knowing Jesus brings reason to rejoice. If God is with you, for you, and in you, then rejoice!! Rejoice today and always!
Rev. Curtis Norris