Title: A Pastor’s Gratitude
Text: Colossians 1.1-9a
Introduction: Testimony of a pastor’s struggle. 2 Corinthians 11.16-28 – and beside all these, I face daily my concern for the churches. I can’t say I’ve struggled in any of the other ways Paul has mentioned, but I see in this last verse, he has struggled like me.
The Pastor’s Heart. Who can grasp it? maybe his wife? His kids? I’m thankful for Paul’s expression of his mind and heart throughout Scripture. Time and again he lets us in on what he’s thinking and feeling. His struggles, frustration, and even on his gratitude and prayers. BTW: that’s the title of my blog page (The Pastor’s Heart) . I don’t really blog, I just post my sermons. There are some activities and photos, like when I go climb mountains in Colorado, but for the most part, it is my sermon in semi-manuscript form from Sunday. The Pastor’s Heart.
Paul’s letter to the Colossians gives us a look into the Pastor’s Heart: His gratitude, His Passion, His Prayer, His Concerns, His Struggles, etc. As we open this letter this morning, our passage today follows a basic opening pattern for his letters: Opening with Greetings and Salutations. In most all of his letters to churches, he moves straight to thanking God for these people, every letter, except Galatians. And then to a prayer for them.
A couple of side notes as we begin:
- Paul did not start the church in Colossae. He never ministered in the Lycus Valley. (2.1); Like Romans, he is writing to people he knows, but he, himself, did not start that church.
- The book of Philemon is closely connected to this one.
- Revelation 3 – The Church at Laodicea and Heiropolis;
Read 1.3-5a; His Gratitude is based on what is being heard; What is being heard is the Gospel! rd v 5b-6; ‘since you heard it’; Let’s break this down: he first says his gratitude is based upon their having heard the Word and responded to it; How is that again? They heard the Gospel and responded in Faith! Two phrases for the Gospel: The Word of Truth and the Grace of God in Truth
Transition: So, Paul’s gratitude is in the impact the Gospel, the Word of Truth has had on them…
I. The Word of Truth
exp.: And look how he breaks this down; we see the familiar triad of the Christian Religion: Faith, Hope and Love; 1 Cor 13.13 – so now faith, hope and love abide…; 1 Thess 1.3 – 2 We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers, 3 remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.; Let’s look at how Paul uses them here: rd v 3ff
- It is Established through Faith
exp.: A person’s new life in Christ is established through Faith; Eph 1.3-15; Romans 10.17; Faith comes by hearing; v 6; Paul is grateful to God for the Word of God being sown in them; rd v 7 – 8; here in is how it happened; Epaphras was saved under Paul’s ministry (probably in Ephesus); Epaphras then is called to the Lycus Valley (evidently his home), where he in turn shares the good news he’s heard; they hear (the Colossians) and respond in Faith; and evidently, Laodicea and Heiropolis; Question: How does Paul know? Rd v 4b;
- It is Expressed through Love
exp.: A person’s new life in Christ is then expressed through Love; specifically, for who? For the sain\ts; We pounded on this last week as I talked about the importance of relationships, so I don’t want to stay here too long, but as a reminder: There is nothing more important in the church than our relationships; So, the Good News is established through Faith, Expressed through Love and 3rd,
- It is Endured through Hope
Rd v 5a; our hope is not just in this moment…walking with Christ in this life…no, our hope is in heaven; and unto this end, we endure;
t.s.: So the Gospel is established through Faith, expressed through love and endured in our lives because of the hope we have; Paul uses another phrase to describe the Gospel; rd v 6c;
II. The Grace of God in Truth
exp.: it has come to you – this Grace of God in Truth; and look at the effects he lists of the Gospel: as indeed; καθώς appears three times – as indeed, as it also, just as; a marker, the 1st marker is :
- It is Evangelizing the World; rd v 6ab
- It bears fruit and
- It brings growth; seen in our love, service and fellowship.
Ill.: an incredible event is taking place around the world today as many are coming to Christ in other countries. Under fierce persecution, stories are coming out of China and Iran and Turkey and North Korea, and in many other countries where the Gospel is not welcomed. Thousands of folks are getting saved. I have a friend who takes a group of folks to Turkey every year about this time. Iranians have a massive celebration – I think it is there new year, but not sure about that. They travel to Turkey because they can’t drink alcohol in Iran. Well, it’s against the law to witness to someone from Turkey, but you can evangelize people from other countries! Each year, hundreds and hundreds of Iranians come to Christ.
Continue with me: rd v 6c-7a, the 2nd marker is
- It is Equipping the Saints – you, heard it, understood it, learned it; the word ἐμάθετε ‘learn’ is the word and in the now form it is translated disciple. You heard it, you understood it, you were a disciple of it; the third maker is right there; rd v 7
- The Example is Epaphras; he heard the Word of Truth, believed and as a servant, went to his own people to share with them this Good News.
app.: So, Paul is grateful to God for the Gospel’s impact on the lives of the Colossians and I can relate;
Can I make an appeal to you? No longer can we present the Gospel the way we used to: Tell me about the time you accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior?
ill.: Some years ago a man came to my office looking for help; he was at his wits end. He had made many poor decisions and ended up a mess; I told him he needed to turn his life around and give his life to Jesus; I began to present the gospel and he said: Oh, I’ve already done that. I said you did? He said, yep! And he told me how he prayed this prayer and got baptized. But then he went on living like he was. He never went back to church, etc. What was a mess!
app.: Listen, Jesus isn’t something you check off on a list. I think we’ve missed stressing the point of the word ‘commitment’.
t.s.: The Sinner’s Prayer isn’t some sort of ‘abracadabra’ magic phrase that makes you a Christian. It is statement of conviction and commitment to follow Christ.
Take-a-Ways to Consider:
Have you Established the gospel through Faith in your life?
Is it Expressing itself through Love for the saints?
Are you Enduring through the Hope that you have?
Are you going further and Evangelizing the World?
– seeing fruit and growth
Are you being Equipped or Equipping the Saints?
Are you setting The Example as Epaphras did?
Nothing brings more joy to the heart of a pastor than to see just that in his children: 3 John 4 – I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.
I enjoy seeing folks I’ve worked with through the years walking with the Lord, seeing the fruit of their faith and growth in their lives. Travis, Shawn & Shannon, Amy, Julie, Mike & Jamie, AJ & Wende, Jason & Merrilea; Courtney; Melissa; And the list goes on… There are some from my military days and I wonder how they’re doing – we’ve lost touch, I hope and pray they’re still walking with the Lord – enduring.