A Great Example of the “Preacher”

The apostle Paul was and is a great example of the “preacher.”

Paul’s Focus

After hearing of the establishment of the church at Colosse, his response, as recorded in The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Colossians, was not to immediately begin making preparations for a series of sermons to be delivered, but rather his focus was on the spiritual needs of the body of Christ in order to further stabilize them and increase their knowledge and discernment of the things of God.

His first response was to get a “word” from God.

In Colossians 1, we see that the “word” he received began with a message of grace and peace. His response in seeking God continued as he did not cease to pray.

Paul’s Desire

Paul’s prayers revealed his desire for the Colossians — that they might be filled with the knowledge of [God’s] will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; and [t]hat [they] might walk worthy of the Lord.

Paul’s Duty

Paul obviously saw his main duty toward men as instructional.

He followed Christ’s example in that Christ set about training and developing disciples who would then take the gospel message to the world.

Paul was seeking to build saintly men who would further seek to train saintly men who would continue the pattern.

Paul’s Prayer

Paul’s letter to the Colossians is filled with instruction born not from Paul’s mind but from the mind of God. It was Paul’s prayer life that brought forth God’s Word that was revealed to the saints at Colosse.

The “preacher” is first and foremost to be a man of prayer.

His communication with God brings forth the “word” from God that is needful for his congregation, for it is God and God alone who knows what is in the heart of men, what message is needed to facilitate change desired by God, and Who is the only One that can give the wisdom and discernment needed to deliver that message.

When the “preacher” mounts the pulpit, his message conveys whether or not he has been in communication with God. In other words, a strong prayer life reveals the true “preacher.”

Paul’s example as a great man of prayer is the example of the “preacher” that is needful today.

Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily. Colossians 1:29


The Character of Epaphras: “The Servant of Christ”

In The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Colossians we read of a man named Epaphras. This man had traveled by unknown means to the city of Rome from the city of Colosse.

By stating unknown we are recognizing the fact that people in those days either walked or traveled by caravan long distances. However, we do not specifically know why Epaphras came to Rome. He could have come on business, been brought by Roman request, or have come particularly to seek out the apostle Paul for wisdom and direction.

Whatever his reason for coming to the capital of the empire, he did wind up face to face with the apostle during the time of Paul’s confinement.

We learn several things about Epaphras during this particular period as stated in the epistle.

A Saved Man

In Colossians 1:7 and 4:12-13 we learn that Epaphras was a saved man who served Christ.

His position in Colosse and the surrounding cities of Laodicea and Hierapolis was as a minister. Whether that was as the pastor of a church body or as a traveling evangelist or circuit preacher is of little consequence. He was definitely ministering and evangelizing the area.

A Faithful Man

The above verses also tell us that Epaphras was faithful.

Not only was he faithful to Christ, but he was faithful to those to whom he ministered. He spoke highly about the positive traits of the church.

Although by reading the Scriptures we can infer that he also spoke of conditions concerning the church. Those were spoken of only because of Epaphras’ desire for help in ministering and establishing the saints in their personal walk with the Lord.

A Positive Man

His conversation was as any minister’s should be.

He spoke of the love shown by the Colossians toward each other, their faithfulness to Jesus Christ, their reception of the gospel, and the fruit that was being displayed by the church. He also spoke highly of their love of spiritual things (Col. 1:4-8; 2:5). In no way was he negative of the members of the body of Christ where he served.

A Praying Man

We also see that Epaphras was a prayer warrior (Col. 4:12-13).

Scripture tells us that he was “always labouring fervently” in prayers. His prayers were not general; they were specific requests to God.  Those requests manifest to us his desire to see the church “stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.”

His burden is further shown by his great zeal.

It is refreshing to hear a minister speak excitedly about his congregants and the growth that is being experienced by the individual members of the body.

Epaphras’s focus was on what was right about the church.

His concerns focused on what would help the church go further in their walk with Christ. He wasted no time in gleaning from Paul instruction that would help him further his ministry to these people.

A Standing Man

Epaphras is also mentioned in Philemon 23.  Here he is described as being a “fellowprisoner.”

Was he arrested while visiting the city, arrested while ministering in Colosse and then brought forcefully to Rome, or arrested later and brought back to Rome, we do not know. We only know his stand for Christ led to his imprisonment of some sort.

The mention of his name in Paul’s letter to Philemon lets us know that Epaphras remained faithful in spite of difficult circumstances.

Faithfulness is a character trait that each of us should covet especially in these times of uncertainly. Faithfulness, service, zeal, and prayerfulness should be the description of every saint’s character.


Bible Study Tools

Bible Study Tools

There are several tools that we may use to help us study the Bible; however, they are no replacement for the Bible itself.

One can study the Bible alone and with the aid of the Holy Spirit be successful in attaining knowledge and wisdom. Never underestimate the power of the Written Word.

Sometimes it helps to add some tools to help us get a job done faster. Those tools assist us as we work toward the goal of repair or correction or as we build on a new foundation or continue a construction project. Every mechanic needs a good screwdriver and every plumber needs a good pipe wrench.

Concordance

One tool that will greatly assist the Bible student is a concordance. A good study Bible will contain one in the back of the book. It will list a variety of words in alphabetical order and give references where those words are found in Scripture. However, this type of concordance is limited due to space.

Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible
Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible

I personally use Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible. There are many others but this is the one that I prefer.

It lists every word in the Bible and gives every reference where a particular word may be found. This is very helpful when you are trying to find a particular verse but can only remember a part of it or can’t remember the reference.

This particular concordance contains a Hebrew dictionary for the Old Testament and a Greek dictionary for the New Testament so that you can also find the meaning of any given word.

Bible Dictionary

Another useful tool is a good Bible dictionary. Some are called Pictorial Bible Dictionaries.

These give definitions of words, character studies, information on Bible places, archeological findings, etc. The pictorial ones obviously include many pictures of places and things. Use discernment with these as they are not a replacement for the Scriptures.

Bible Atlas, Bible Maps, Bible Handbooks, Commentaries

Other tools that may assist us are Bible atlases, Bible maps, Bible handbooks, and commentaries.

A good map can help us understand where a story took place, learn about the terrain of an area, and the distance one had to travel between locations.

Commentaries can give us another person’s insight on a particular scripture passage.

The Best Tool Is the Bible Itself

Just remember that these tools are available to assist us in our study not to become a replacement for our study of the Bible itself.  If there are any discrepancies, then we must not let these tools sway us from the truth of the Scriptures. Remember, God’s Word is truth and mankind is fallible.

May your knowledge of the Bible be increased and your skills in teaching others the Word be maximized as you put these tools in use in your daily Bible study time.


 

By the Will of God, Colossians 1:1

“Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God.”

Col. 1:1

Paul was called to be an apostle by the will of God.  It was not of Paul or of any other man’s doing. It was the calling of  God alone.

However, Paul did have a choice. He could accept God’s will or reject it. He accepted it and became the greatest apostle who ever lived.

Who are you called to be “by the will of God”? It will not be of your own doing or of any other person’s doing.

You also have a choice.

Will you accept or reject that calling?

If you accept, who knows where your path will end.

But God’s will shall have been performed, and for that, you will not be left in regret or wonder.


Join in the conversation:

Do you know God’s will God for your life?

Are you struggling with God’s will?

What encouragement can you share for those who are struggling in this area?


 

An Exercise in Prayer

Formulate Your Own Prayer with Paul’s Example

 

In chapter one of The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Colossians, we see a godly example of prayer on the behalf of the body of Christ. This particular prayer grew out of a desire to see the Colossian brethren grow and mature in the faith.

As Paul and Timothy labored in prayer, their regard for the Colossians and their spiritual needs gave them purpose and direction.

Following the format of their prayer will aid us in praying for our beloved brethren.

  1. Give thanks to God.

Verse 3 begins with thankfulness to God for what He has already done in the lives of the believers.

2. Daily intercession and supplication is a must.

In verses 9-12, we learn that Paul and Timothy ceased not to pray.  They were committed to the task of prayer for the spiritual needs of others.

3.Pray specifically.

This was not a general prayer, but one with detailed petitions. We will discover what those petitions were as we do the exercise below.

4. Give thanks to God. In verse 12, these men began sharing their thankfulness to God and to their brethren for what God had and was presently doing in and through their lives.

 

1. What did Paul and Timothy desire for the Colossian brethren?

Paul and Timothy prayed and desired. Their desires became a list of specific requests.

List these requests given in verses 9-12 separately.

For example: a) that you might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding  b) that you might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing c) that you would be fruitful in every good work, etc.

 

2. Add your own requests to the list above.

You may sense other spiritual needs of the individual or group that you are praying for. Add these to your list.

 

3. Use your list to form the body of your prayer.

After listing the specific requests, use your list to create a prayer. You may be specific for individuals, a spouse, or for your church family as a whole.

For example:

Lord, help me to pray for my brother (or sister) in Christ.  I pray that he would be filled with the knowledge of Your will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding. Help him to walk worthy of You. May he be pleasing in Your sight. May he be fruitful in every good work that he tries to accomplish. Increase his knowledge of You. Strengthen him with all might according to Your glorious power unto patience and longsuffering. Give him a joyful attitude and countenance.

4. Give thanks. Use the rest of the chapter to help you with your list of thanks.

Paul and Timothy recorded a list of things for which they were thankful to God. That list begins in verse 12.

You may use the rest of the chapter to make your own list of things for which you are thankful.

 

5. Use your list of thanks to form the ending of your prayer.

Don’t forget to give God thanks for the work that He is doing in the lives of those for whom you are praying and for the work He is doing in your life also.

I hope this prayer exercise has helped you to formulate your own prayer. However, no prayer is answered until it is prayed. So keep your prayer handy and use it to help you as you grow in your prayer life.