Pole of Encouragement
Text: Col. 1: 1, 2
Introduction: There are about 1,750 daily newspapers in the United States and 1,220 of them carry astrological data. People are confused and disillusioned and because of that they face unnecessary difficulties.
Interrogative: How should we approach those who are in difficulties?
Transition: Encouragement overcomes great obstacles.
Paul is a great encourager. In spite of many problems churches were facing and the Colossian church was no exception. There were many false teachings came into the church. It’s like Christians who hold Bible in one hand and astrology on the other. It’s just like my friend who thinks all religion lead to God. According to him the most wholesome spirituality is the acceptance of all religion which, he thinks, show variety of ways to reach same god. He thinks that is the most respectful way to reach god without offending anyone. Amazing isn’t it, but this is a very popular view many people take in our world. And then, there are so many Christians who believe that the only way to please the Lord is to add something to what Jesus has done on the Cross. Usually, they are their own effort and accomplishment in the form of rituals and ungodly discipline. Yes, godly discipline is necessary and I encourage you to discipline yourself with Lord’s help. But there is a difference between godly discipline and ungodly discipline. If you think you “must” and force yourself to do thing to buy God’s favor. That is ungodly discipline. If you want to please the Lord, motivated by God’s love, is quite different from forced to do things to merit His love. Colossian church fell into this mistake. False teachers came into the church and insisted on some dietary laws, rituals and observance of the holy day and even encouraged them to worship the angels. So now let’s look at how Paul approaches such group of people to bring solution. He begins,
Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother,
“Paul.” Who is Paul? He was a persecutor of the Church. By the grace of God, he became a proclaimer of the very thing he opposed. God is powerful, so powerful He can change a person. Do you want to change? Paul had a story, His-story and if you belong to the Lord, I am sure you have a story of transformation. Many years ago, survey was taken among the beautiful actresses in Hollywood asking, “What would you change if you can change your appearance?” Almost 100 % of them said this and that. Can you imagine those who are adored and envied are not satisfied with their appearances? When it comes to inner beauty, all of us want to change somehow to be better people. Tragedy is, we can not change ourselves. May be it’s a blessing. But God can as He did to Paul. Tell your friends who are in difficulties your story, how He changed and transformed you. Introduce Jesus! “An apostle” “Sent one.” In the classical Greek there was not much of NT meaning of “Sent one” but just like “Ekklysia,” church fathers took an ordinary word and attached significance to it (Acts 19: 39, 41). He was commissioned by the Lord of universe. Apostles are those who have seen the risen Lord (I Cor. 9: 1; 15: 8, 9). Also performed attested miracles, they were the proof of the Apostleship (2 Cor. 12: 12). So in a strict sense there are no Apostles in our days. But Paul also called some who were not 12 disciples as Apostles. Andronicus and Junias were called Apostles (Rom. 16: 7). Elders are also called Apostles (Acts 15: 23). Jesus also was called Apostle (Heb. 3: 1). So, in a broader sense of the word, you all are Apostles if you know the Lord. Whose apostles are you who are you following?
“of Jesus Christ” The Lord of all creation commissioned Paul. This is the only credential we need. Paul was an authorized spokesman for God. So we too are authorized spokesperson for the Lord. We all are sent by the Lord Jesus Christ to preach the Gospel. We are ambassadors for the Lord who speak not our own thought but God’s message. As much as Paul belonged to the Lord, we too belong to the Lord. Who do you really belong to? Your own plan, your own desire or your boy-friend and girl-friend? Then Paul says,
“By the will of God” It was the will of God which made Paul an Apostle. Not on his own will and desire but he was called to be a minister of the Gospel. God’s will is Good, Acceptable and Perfect. We must understand this. It may be contrary to your desires and plan but remember God’s will for you is good, acceptable and perfect. God has a wonderful plan for you but it may not what you want. When it comes to the will of God we must remember two things. This call of God transcends:
1. our desire and the will (I Cor. 9: 17)
2. our skill and the talents; Paul was a poor preacher.
This also confines to:
1. Creation Purpose and Order God does not call anyone against His order in creation. God does not call man to woman’s role. Neither woman to man’s. Sex change is not a Creation order. Homosexuals.
Man is the head of the home as Christ is the head of the church. “There is no distinction between men and women as far as personal worth, intellect, or spirituality are concerned” (John McArthur, Gal. 3: 28). Elders in the church are for men not for women.
2. Biblical Principles God does not call Christians to sinful occupations. Certain wills of God are clearly revealed in His holy word. Such as giving thanks (I Thess. 5: 18), to be holy (I Thess. 4: 3) Suffering (I Pet. 4: 19).
“Often our misunderstanding of God’s word is due not to innocent intellectual slips or lack of information, but rather to a deep refusal to submit to God’s demands.” --John Piper, “Desiring God” p. 279
“Timothy our brother” Paul’s humility that young Timothy who served him (Phi. 2: 19 – 24) as a son serving his father was now acknowledged as a brother of a great apostle, Paul. I can identify deeply with Paul’s feeling. Some of you were so young when I was a pastor. Some of you were in grade school and Jr. high and now you have grown to be strong young adults undertaking the business of the Lord in this church. I feel very proud of you. You are my brothers and sisters in the Lord. Beloved apostle John said, “I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth” (3 John 4). Give significance to your brothers and sisters.
Move onto the verse 2.
To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ who are at Colossae: Grace to you and peace from God our Father.
“To the saints” God calls those who belong to Him as “Saints” “Holy Ones.” Now the expression “saints” is not an expression of perfection. In a Biblical sense it denotes “Dedication” “Set Apartness.” Root idea in “holy” is not excellence of character but set apartness. Do you remember in the OT, places are called Holy (Exd. 29:31, Lev. 6: 16, Deut. 23: 14, Ps 65: 4.)? Also the objects are called Holy (Exd. 28:2, 29: 6, Num. 5: 17.) We are set apart for the worship of the Lord. That’s the reason, we want to keep ourselves clean and pure, worthy for the Lord’s use.
“Faithful brethren” In spite of the problem Colossians were having, Paul affirmed their faithfulness: Reliable, Trustworthy. Some Colossian Christians were deceived but it was their zeal that opened the door to false teaching.
This “Faithfulness” is expressed in a different way to bring better understanding.
1. The key to service and strength from the Lord.
I Tim. 1: 12, “I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service,”
2. The key to the greater service and sharing of joy of the Lord.
Matt. 25: 21a, “His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.”
3. The key to the future blessing
Luke 19: 17, “And he said to him, ‘Well done, good slave, because you have been faithful in a very little thing, you are to be in authority over ten cities.”
Rev. 2: 10, “Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to cast some of you into prison, so that you will be tested, and you will have tribulation for ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.”
It was used for the Word of God.
Titus 1: 9, “holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict.” 教えにかなった信頼すべきみことばを、しっかりと守っていなければなりません。それは健全な教えをもって励ましたり、反対する人たちを正したりすることができるためです。
Do you know some one who is so discouraged that he or she does not want to attend church? Encourage them to be faithful.
“Who are at Colossae” Paul always address his Epistles to local churches, naming them. It is the privilege of all Christian to belong to the local church. We have a universal church every Christian belongs to. Last fall in Japan I met a brother in the Lord from Nagaland India. Dr. Rabi Pame. I never heard Nagaland, India, have you? I never met him before, never talked him, never exchanged emails but there was an instant bonding and we shared goodness of the Lord in prayer and Bible reading. That is the reality of universal Church. God also gave us local church that every Christian belongs to it. It is the miniature of universal church and that’s where every healing and discipleship take place. Aren’t you glad you have this church you can belong to? Please testify to the fact that this community of God’s people is helping your Christian walk. That will be a great encouragement to some.
“Grace to you and peace” Grace of God comes always first then the peace. There are so many even so called Christians don’t have this peace of God. Because those peopled don’t understand the Grace of God. Unmerited favor bestowed on a sinner who deserves to perish in hell in eternity but because of shed blood of Christ, sons of darkness was turned into be sons of light. We are transplanted from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light of His Son. Oh, such grace surly brings peace that surpasses all understanding.
“From God our Father” This great God is our Father. We can call Him Daddy. “Aba” Are you troubled because of your circumstances? Encourage your heart that God of all creation is your Daddy who becomes Father to the fatherless and husbands to those who lost husbands.
This sermon was presented in non-organized fashion, but we can sense Paul’s overflowing sentiment toward Colossians and we appreciate his love for the church. We can identify this love with the love of the Father and that encourages us to press on.
ILLUSTRATION: Sportsmanship, Sharing
At the recent 2006 Winter Olympics, [Trino Italy,] a Norwegian coach was standing beside the snowy racecourse, cheering on his nation's team in the women's cross-country relay, when Canadian skier Sara Renner broke a pole in front of him. This meant that her team was likely doomed.
But without hesitation, the Norwegian coach handed a replacement pole to the Canadian skier. Had he not done so, his team might have a won a medal. As it happened, however, Sara Renner and her teammate, Beckie Scott, skied on to win a silver medal, while the Norwegian team finished fourth. (submitted by Ernest Myers from The Wall Street Journal, Feb. 25-26, 2006, p. A8)
What an encouragement to the Canadian team! Without this Norwegian coach, this silver medal was out of reach. Is your pole broken and having hard time pushing your life to another chapter? God our Father will give you another pole so that you can press on, not to fulfill your personal dreams but to experience good, acceptable and perfect will of the Father. Let’s pray.