Thursday, October 5, 2023
This letter is from Paul, chosen by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and from our brother Timothy.
Epaphras, a member of your own fellowship and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends you his greetings. He always prays earnestly for you, asking God to make you strong and perfect, fully confident that you are following the whole will of God. I can assure you that he prays hard for you and also for the believers in Laodicea and Hierapolis.
Luke, the beloved doctor, sends his greetings, and so does Demas. Please give my greetings to our brothers and sisters at Laodicea, and to Nympha and the church that meets in her house.
After you have read this letter, pass it on to the church at Laodicea so they can read it, too. And you should read the letter I wrote to them.
And say to Archippus, “Be sure to carry out the ministry the Lord gave you.”
These verses are often treated as the "flyover country" of Scripture.  After all, some folks don't care to hear about cities from two thousand years ago or people they deem insignificant who died several millennia before their own. Nevertheless, we miss a great deal of powerful truth and life-worthy insight if we take such an attitude. The genealogies are full of all sorts of theological hints. At the same time, the personalities involved in spreading the Good News of Jesus remind us that the Holy Spirit did amazing things with ordinary people not so different from us. Our relationship verse for today connects us to a world of harsh realities, the Christian community composed of all levels of ancient society, and the redemptive power of following Jesus to help diverse groups live as one spiritual family. Despite their differences, they had Christ Jesus in common, and that made them brothers and sisters of one another!
Paul mentions friends from all over the region  whom he knows and loves and with whom he had partnered in ministry.  He wanted the Colossians to realize that following Jesus was intended to be a life shared with a spiritual family. From the beginning, Jesus had chosen to send his disciples on mission in pairs of disciples, so they were not alone in their work.  The Lord assured them, and us, that when two or three are gathered, He is there, and the Spirit and power of the Lord are present.  Jesus also promised He would also go with disciples on their mission journeys, so they were not alone.  They were not alone or abandoned.  So, through his letter to the Colossians, people Paul had never met in a city he had never visited,  Paul reminded the Colossian brothers and sisters that they were connected to him, to one of their neighbors (Epaphras) who shared the Good News with them, and to other churches in the region. But what does that mean for us and our relationships?
You and I are not meant to do the Christian life alone! We are part of a worldwide family but also need nearby Christian friendships, fellowship, and emotional support. Whether a "people person" or an introvert, you need others in your life. As I write this devotional, I have recently dealt with people from all over the world emailing and talking about how lonely and discouraged they are. The post-COVID world has isolated people. While many office workers have enjoyed not having to go to work, they have been away long enough to miss the office culture, the coffee room visits, and the casual conversations passing in the hallway. God's first statement about a human being was simple, direct, and insightful, something the person soon discovered for himself: "It is not good for the man to be alone."  That means God wants us to know we need each other, so he provided us with a spiritual family. So, dear friend, please get connected to other believers! Yes, I know family, and spiritual family, can sometimes be messy and hurtful, but life is full of hard things, and we were not made to do them alone!
Loving Father, help me as I seek to find a group of believers where I can belong, contribute, bless, and be blessed. I know You did not make me live in isolation from others, so I want to move into a deeper relationship with my brothers and sisters in Christ who live near me. Please also bless those brothers and sisters isolated from their loved ones and those who find themselves in prisons, hospitals, jails, institutions, and other forms of isolation. Use me, dear Father, to find several isolated people and be Your loving presence in their lives. I offer this prayer, dear Father, in Jesus' name. Amen.
Together in Christ is a daily devotional that focuses on what Scripture teaches about godly living in relationships.
'Together in Christ' is written by Phil Ware.
Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
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