Doing What They Thought Best

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And Saul attacked the Amalekites, from Havilah all the way to Shur, which is east of Egypt. He also took Agag king of the Amalekites alive, and utterly destroyed all the people with the edge of the sword. But Saul and the people spared Agag and the best of the sheep, the oxen, the fatlings, the lambs, and all that was good, and were unwilling to utterly destroy them. But everything despised and worthless, that they utterly destroyed. (1 Samuel 15:7-9)

Doing What They Thought Best

The commandments of the Lord are never cumbersome, difficult or complicated to where man is unsure what he must do. There has never been a time in the existence of man that he could complain to God of how confusing His laws were and use this as an excuse for disobedience. In the earliest days of the kingdom of Israel, Saul made a very serious mistake in assuming that he knew more about the will of God than the One who gave the law. As the leader of God’s nation, Saul was entrusted with guiding the people in accordance with the instructions of the Lord and to carry out whatever was demanded from the Lord. On one such occasion God had told Saul to execute judgment upon the people of Amalek because of what the Amalek nation had done to Israel when they were making their way to the promised land. Amalek had ambushed the people of God at Rephidim but were defeated as Moses held up hands until the going down of the sun. The Lord had promised that day he would have war with Amalek from generation to generation. It was placed upon Saul, King of Israel, to fulfill the word of the Lord by attacking Amalek and utterly destroying all that they had and not to spare one soul. The word of God demanded the Israelite’s kill man, woman, infant and nursing child, ox and sheep, camel and donkey. There was to be a scorched earth policy concerning the Amalekites and King Saul would be the instrument of God’s wrath upon this wicked nation.

Samuel the prophet told King Saul everything he needed to do. The instructions were plain and direct. Everyone that had breath of life in Amalek was to be destroyed. Saul gathered 200,000 foot soldiers and 10,000 men of Judah and came to a city of Amalek and lay wait in the valley. The king attacked the Amalekites from Havilah all the way to Shur which is east of Egypt. It was a complete victory over Amalek and they utterly destroyed all the people with the edge of the sword. But there was a problem with how Saul carried out the will of the Lord. When the king captured Agag, king of the Amalekites, he decided to spare his life. Also, when he came upon the thousands of sheep, oxen, fatlings and lambs it seemed to Saul a waste to destroy such good animals and again decided not to destroy them. There were a lot of good things the Amalekites possessed and Saul could see no reason to destroy them so he kept them. Confident he had done the will of the Lord, the king returned in triumph pleased he had carried out the word of the Lord. Anything that was despised and worthless the people had destroyed but of the good things they were preserved. As the Lord looked down upon what Saul had done He regretted He had set up Saul as king. He told Samuel that Saul had not obeyed His commandments. From Saul’s viewpoint, as he would later tell the prophet, he had done all God commanded of him. However what the king did not appreciate about the law of God is that obedience requires keeping the whole law. He decided – not God – to spare Agag. The Lord had required all the animals to be slaughtered but Saul decided to keep the animals. To complicate matters Saul tried to blame the people and suggest there was some noble cause to keep all the animals so they could be used in sacrifice for the Lord. It did not matter. God told Saul to utterly destroy the Amalekites and Saul chose not to obey the word of the Lord. The king tried to convince Samuel he had done all God commanded him but rebellion was not to be tolerated. Because Saul rejected the word of the Lord he was rejected by God as being king.

The story of Saul and the Amalekites resonates through the word of God as men struggle to find what it means to obey the Lord. In a religiously varied world of many different faiths, religions, beliefs and doctrines it would seem impossible to know what the will of the Lord is for man. Like Saul, many try to take the word of God and adapt it to their wills and their ideas and fashion a totem of faith that allows them the freedom to choose what they feel comfortable with. The reason the countryside is dotted with many different churches is because the spirit of Saul fuels the hearts of men to worship God as they seem fit trying to please the crowds and draw men to themselves. There is only one faith and the doctrine of God is plain and easy to understand. What is revealed by God in the Bible is clear, demonstrative and defined by the need to do what the Lord said and nothing else. Religion is muddled by the doctrines of men who try to espouse a system of salvation based on their wisdom and what they believe is good. Like Saul they think they know better than the Lord. How sad and tragic when religious people stand before God and the Lord hears the bleating of the sheep and the lowing of the oxen from hearts that did not obey the voice of the Lord. Eternal life is given to those who obey the will of the Lord – all of His will. It matters eternally whether the heart keeps the word of God or chooses to follow the fickle desires of men. To obey is better than sacrifice and to heed the fat of rams. Because they have rejected the word of the Lord, they will be rejected from being saved.

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The Greatest Gift

wisdom

Therefore give to Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people, that I may discern between good and evil. For who is able to judge this great people of Yours? (1 Kings 3:9)

The Greatest Gift

Solomon was a man gifted with one of the most incredible opportunities a man would be given in his lifetime. The Lord appears to the young king at Gibeon and tells Solomon to ask for anything and it would be granted. He could have asked for long life and God would have answered his prayer. Solomon could have requested the Lord bless him with great riches and wealth and these things would have been granted. There were many enemies surrounding the young nation and the king would have been granted peace from all his foes through the power of the Almighty. What Solomon asked for pleased the Lord because he had discerned the most important thing a man could possess was not long life, riches or power over his enemies but  an understanding heart to discern what is right and wrong. Many men desire to live long lives. Riches appeal to the hearts of most because they believe their happiness will come from wealth. Having power over their enemies would satisfy the wills of powerful men. All of these things men of a carnal nature seek but the one thing that is more lasting and profitable is the knowledge of right and wrong. Long life can be granted but it will end one day as Methuselah found out at the age of 969 years. Riches and wealth are fleeting because they never last and death separates the fool from his money. Peace from enemies will be short lived when there is no peace from God. Knowing the difference between right and wrong is the greatest nugget of truth man can ever possess. Having an understanding heart to discern what is just and right will give man a greater blessing in life than anything he could imagine. Solomon asked for the greatest gift and God granted him what he asked and all he did not ask for.

There are many things men seek for today that is not uncommon to the plight of carnal man. He seeks long life, riches and power and finds all fleeting. Spending a lifetime trying to stay young and extend life as long as possible ends in death. Wasting every day seeking one more dollar and more possessions with greater riches and wealth deprive men the joy of a sunset, a baby’s cry and the companionship of friends. Trying to exercise power over others as men of prominence and importance is short lived at best. Popularity wanes and the ones who were famous are forgotten. In the heart of the common man who loves the Lord and spends time in the word of God an understanding heart develops that helps him see clearly the joys, pleasures and answers of life. Solomon’s prayer is not a miraculous manifestation for man today. The Bible is the mind of God revealed to man and all a person must do is to spend time in the incredible story of holy writ and his wisdom and understanding will far outlast the intellectuals of the day and the failed attempts of those who look for happiness apart from God. Only from the mind of God can man find peace, richness of spirit and long life in the knowledge of his Creator. Solomon prayed for a heart to judge his people to discern between good and evil. All of these answers are found in the Bible waiting for the inquisitive mind to open its pages and walk the long hallways of wisdom drinking in the knowledge of God. This kind of heart will please the Lord.

Solomon shows the power of prayer. He asks for so little and received so much. His prayer pleased the Lord because his prayer came from a humble heart. There is nothing more precious for the child of God than to know what is right and what is wrong and live according to that truth. Solomon called himself a little child and he knew how much he needed the favor of the Lord. He did not know how to go out or come in and he prayed for God to lead him. Discern between good and evil will bring more happiness and joy to life than anything. Reading the word of God and abiding in His truth and resting upon His promises will grant man a joyful life here and an eternal life in the world to come. Happiness comes from the Lord. Seek His truth and the heart will fill with joy. Walk in the commandments of the Lord and life will be a blessing. Ask for an understanding heart. It will be the greatest gift you will seek.

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He Shall Be Exalted And He Shall Be Hallowed

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But the Lord of hosts shall be exalted in judgment, and God who is holy shall be hallowed in righteousness. (Isaiah 5:16)

He Shall Be Exalted And He Shall Be Hallowed

The character of God is clearly defined in scripture. One of the reasons man has been given the Bible is to know the nature, personality and divine nature of the Almighty God who formed the world and created man from dust. Evidence for God is clearly seen by the invisible attributes of nature. All men can come to know there is a higher being that rules over the affairs of the universe by looking at the world about him. Coming to know the personality of God can only come from the revealed word as He has revealed Himself through the ages. The Bible is the final testimony of God’s nature that when men read they can understand who God is and what He demands. From the beginning of time the judgment of the Lord is shown against all those who disobey Him. Adam and Eve were not exempt from the judgment of righteousness or the world of Noah’s time that was completely destroyed save eight souls. Reading the history of Israel is a declaration of the longsuffering of God against a people who repeatedly rebelled against the commandments of the Lord. Stories abound where God destroyed hundreds and sometimes thousands of His own people because of their disobedience. When Israel was taken away by the Assyrians and the final two tribes of Judah were held captive for seventy years, the judgment of God was declared for all nations to see and understand. The punishment of Israel was by the hand of the Lord who brought them out of Egypt by His mighty hand. Delivering the Hebrews was not a matter of saving a lineage of people from slavery but to show the personality of the Lord against the paganism of the Egyptian culture and to establish in His people His love, grace, mercy and truth. Israel was destroyed because they failed to honor the judgment of God and refused to hallow His righteousness. Everything the Lord did was righteous and holy and just. Whether the story come from the Garden of Eden, the plains of Jordan or the temple mount of Jerusalem, the will of God has been accomplished for the glory of His will and His purpose. His word continues today in the Bible proclaiming the judgment of God as true and the righteousness of the Lord as pure.

Isaiah the prophet is writing to a rebellious and wicked nation. They have changed everything to suit their carnal needs calling good things evil, changing matters of light to darkness and accepting the bitterness of immorality as sweet. What the people failed to do was honor the judgment of God and they did not render the righteousness of the Lord as holy. They defiled the Temple in their worship. Their hearts were far from serving the one true God. Everything they wanted to do was measured by their own selfish desires and passions. Ignoring the judgment of the Lord did not dismiss it. The Lord of Hosts will be exalted in judgment when He brings that judgment upon the people. Reading the stories of the nation of Israel and how many times the Lord warned, exhorted and admonished the people to repent and punishing them because they refused is setting forth the nature of God as He deals with all men. The Lord is the same in His nature when it comes to judgment against sinful man today. He will be exalted in judgment because all of His judgments are true. The world can ignore the Bible as a book of myths but it does not change the nature of God. His judgment upon all men will come from the words of the Bible. Jesus taught judgment is according to the word of God.

God is holy in His righteousness and shall be hallowed or sanctified in everything He does. The reality of the Lord God is the goodness and severity of His word is always according to what is right because God is truth. There is no changing or variation in the judgment of the Lord. In courts of men there can be influences that will sway the decision of guilt or innocence. Standing in the judgment hall of the Lord God there is only truth and righteousness. God is holy and all His words are holy and every act He brings upon man good or bad is holy. Reading the Bible man recognizes the need to hallow the name of God in righteousness. Jesus taught His disciples to pray the name of the Father first be hallowed in honor and truth. Prayer is the emptying of man’s will to the commandments of the Lord so that God may be holy and righteous. He will be hallowed whether man accepts Him or not. Isaiah is very clear to say that regardless of how man views God there is only one truth. The Lord of hosts will be exalted in judgment and God who is holy will be hallowed in righteousness.

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Learning A New Language

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But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds. (Colossians 3:8-9)

Learning A New Language

When God came down to man at the tower of Babel and confused his language, the world became a place of many nations and cultures. Language is the tool of communication that is spoken by a country, region or group of people that make them distinct by their vocabulary, syntax and grammar. Speech comes from the culture a child is born into and they adopt the language of their parents in a natural manner because of familiarity, teaching and acceptance of the home language. Many people in the world learn other languages sometimes mastering multiple languages with great success. Learning a language different from the cultural language of birth is difficult but not impossible. This can be done by taking specific courses in the language and sometimes delving deep into a culture the language is learned by association. One of the great challenges for the people of God is the need to learn a different language than the parental language of the world that all cultures struggle with. Regardless of the national dialect of birth, there is a common language that all men speak. This is not a national tongue of distinction but an eternal language of sinful man. The world of carnal man speaks a language that glorifies the desires of man and fills his needs. Examining the speech of the worldly man it is clear to see there is a need for man to exalt himself as superior by his language that sets him apart from others. English teachers strive to teach their students the correct manner of speech to accomplish the means of communication with as much clarity as possible. Yet man finds the need to sprinkle his conversation with words of anger, blasphemy and filthy language. There never seems to be any rhyme or reason for the use of cussing. It does not fit the language but it fits the personality. This is an age old problem the apostle Paul warns against and through the Holy Spirit declares damning to the soul.

Children of God speak a different language because they have learned to speak the words of the Father’s grace. As people risen through Christ, their minds are set on the eternal language of God and they mold their lives to form the language of a holy character. Paul admonishes every Christian to change his language and learn the language of grace. There are some things no Christian should be known by: anger, evil speaking, blasphemy, filthy language and lying. These are dirty rags from a filthy world. Anger does not speak the character of a humble servant of Christ. A man can convince himself that he is justified in being angry but in Christ he must change his heart. Anger comes from an angry heart. How can a child of God have an angry heart when they are filling their hearts with the love of God? The two are not compatible. It may be difficult to learn the language of grace and taking away the language of anger but in Christ it can be done. Malice is speaking with the intent to bring harm, pain and injury. The insidious language of a heart filled with malice is the hatred that comes from the lips. Verbal abuse is the spirit of an ungodly heart that speaks ill-tempered words against a spouse, a child or anyone who offends the person. Blasphemy is using God’s name in vain or the name of Jesus Christ as slang. It is a common use in the language of the world to profane the name of God. Under the Law of Moses such language was punishable by death. Children of God who use His name in vain profane the name of their Father and He will not allow them to go unpunished. Filthy language out of the mouth is the foul stench of the devil’s whisper passing the lips of a corrupt heart filled with sin. Lewd, indecent, and immodest speech should never come from the lips of a Christian – period. It may be funny to the world but to the ears of the Lord God Almighty it is an abomination and will not go unpunished. Children of God do not lie. For any reason. For any cause. No person who names Jesus Christ as their Savior should allow the language of lying to be their tongue. The old man of sin should have been put away and that includes getting rid of a lying spirit.

Learning a new language can be difficult. Trying to rid the heart of the language of sin can be difficult but through the grace of God it can be done and it must be done. God will not accept us because we believe that we cannot do any better. Our speech will betray us before the throne of God if we do not change it. Measuring sin as something greater than another and accepting the idea that as long as I do not murder, commit adultery or steal I am safe; while speaking words of anger, filthy and lying; is nothing more than deluding myself into a false sense of security that does not exist. Jesus told His disciples that all men will be judged by their words. God said to PUT OFF anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language and lying. Either change your language or change your name.

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Revival In The Word

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Consider my affliction and deliver me, for I do not forget Your law. Plead my cause and redeem me; revive me according to Your word.

Salvation is far from the wicked, for they do not seek Your statutes. Great are Your tender mercies, O Lord; revive me according to Your judgments.

Many are my persecutors and my enemies, yet I do not turn from Your testimonies. I see the treacherous, and am disgusted, because they do not keep Your word. Consider how I love Your precepts; revive me, O Lord, according to Your lovingkindness.

The entirety of Your word is truth, and every one of Your righteous judgments endures forever.

 (Psalm 119:153-160)

Revival In The Word

The word of God is a powerful tool received from the Father to help his children renew attention and interest in spiritual things. It is not in man to know how to walk and the Bible is the means that man can read and understand the way God desires for him to think, to act and to grow in his knowledge. There are many things that come upon the heart of man that can discourage, afflict and bring sorrow but the word of God can bring hope, joy and renewed confidence in the promises of the Lord. The psalmist is confronted with affliction from the wicked and persecution from his enemies. His only hope is in the law of God being redeemed by the knowledge of what the Lord has told him through the statutes and judgments of righteousness. He seeks redemption through the knowledge of the word of God. The knowledge of spiritual matters is the only way to understand the nature of man. When life presents its hard side and times are tough the psalmist found the word of God to be nurturing to the soul and full of great comfort. There is no other book that is able to give solace to the heart burdened with the trials of life. As Author and Creator the Lord knows all the needs of man. He has put His wisdom in the Bible so that man can seek Him through the reading and meditation of divine truth. Revival in the word of God will bring hope.

Salvation is far from the wicked because they have no desire to follow the statutes of the Lord. Much of the misery of man is brought upon himself by refusing to live his life according to the word of God. Man was created in the image of God and designed by God for a purpose. When man turns away from the Lord and the word of the Lord he leaves the only hope he has in knowing truth. Seeking their own righteousness, the wicked falter between despair and misery without the word of salvation. Those who are righteous know the power of the word of God. The psalmist knows the message of the Lord is filled with divine tender mercies, kindness, love and grace. Reading the word of God a man finds how much he is loved by the Father and how gracious the many acts of love God have shown man through the centuries. The Bible is written to bring comfort to the heart of discomforted man. The mercy of God fills the pages of the Bible. Reading the word of God a man learns how merciful the Father is forgiving but demanding that men obey Him. The judgments of the Lord are divine rules. Revival comes from the judgments of God because they are eternal truth.

It is hard to maintain faith in the face of those who oppose righteousness but spending time in the word of God gives courage to the heart and faith to the spirit. The psalmist is surrounded by enemies and those who would persecute him for his faith but he will not turn away from the Lord because the precepts of God teach him to have a resilient heart. There are many faithless souls who do not know the word of God but this will not discourage the heart of the righteous that trust in the promises given through the reading of divine precepts. The testimonies of the Lord are in the heart of the faithful. Reading the word of God is not a fad or a goal to mark on a calendar. The psalmist proclaims he loves the precepts and teachings of God’s word. When men develop a love for the Bible as divine truth there can be little that will keep them from spending many hours mining the incredible depths of His word. The lovingkindness of God bursts upon every page. Revival comes when a man spends time in the word of God.

There is one truth that must always be affirmed when reading the word of God. What is contained in the Bible is truth – all of it. The entirety of the word of God is truth and no part can be left out, added to or ignored. Every one of the righteous judgments of God is true and eternal. The sum of the words of God is truth and all of His rules will endure forever. There is no variation in this statement. Men easily pick and choose which parts of the Bible they accept and believe and this brings about religious division, apostasy and the failure of many souls to see eternal life. The psalmist is very clear on this matter. The sum of His word is truth, and every one of His righteous rules endures forever. Revival is in the word of God.

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Abiding In The Doctrine Of Christ

Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the

Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him; for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds. (2 John 9-11)

Abiding In The Doctrine Of Christ

There is a foundational truth that has always been established between God and man. The wisdom of God is far above the wisdom of man. As Creator, the Lord has the right to determine the laws for man inherent in His authority over the universe and everything in it. Man was created to glorify his Creator. The happiness of man has always been determined by his willingness to follow the holiness of the Lord. John declares in his short epistle a clear demonstration of how men should view the teachings of Jesus Christ. If a man is unwilling to continue or abide in the doctrine of Christ he rejects the word of God. There is only one truth and that must be obeyed for man to find eternal life. Truth is not relative to what one generation says over another generation or what is popular at a certain time or what pleases the moral conscience of society. When God put man in the Garden of Eden and gave him law it established the eternal truth that God has the right to determine how man should live. Jesus Christ came to draw all men to Himself and demands that all men abide in His doctrine for salvation. It was not long after the church was established that men began to change the doctrine of Christ to fit their own needs. It seems incredible that many would deny Jesus rose from the dead in the first century because there were so many people that were still living that had seen the Son of God alive following His death. The worship was challenged by men who went beyond the authority of God. Truth was changed to fit the wisdom of man corrupting the churches with carnality, immorality and moved the early church away from the doctrines of Christ. John does not mince words about what men were doing with the gospel. Either one abides in the doctrine of Christ or they do not. If a man refuses to obey the commandments of God he does not serve the Lord. Truth is founded upon the word of God alone. When a man follows the word of God he accepts the rule of God in his life and is willing to do whatever the Lord commands in His word. It is incumbent upon the people of God to make a separation of those who teach truth and those who reject the commandments of the Lord. Either a man obeys God or he does not.

Abiding in the doctrine of Christ can only be done when the word of God is established as the line of authority for all things pertaining to salvation. The first thing Satan did to deceive the woman was to challenge the word of God. Satan asked Eve, “Has God indeed said?” John declares there is only one truth and if a man does not agree to follow that standard of truth he does not love God, he does not serve God and his deeds are evil. Half-truths are nothing more than whole lies. Abiding in the doctrine of Christ requires the whole doctrine. Too often men take a little bit of the truth of God and intermix it with their doctrines and call it truth. Rat poison is 95% cornmeal and 5% poison and effectively kills because it tastes so good the agent of death is never detected until it is too late. False religion looks and sounds so much like the truth but the wisdom of man is the poison that refuses to abide in the doctrine of Christ. Abiding in the doctrine of Christ is remaining, staying, dwelling and settling upon the words of God and the words of God alone – nothing else. How difficult is it to turn in the Bible and find a passage that teaches the truth of God? Yet so many people blindly follow teachings that are not found in the word of God and how sad their end. God is perceived as a loving and compassionate Lord that allows man to believe in Him and live as man desires without penalty from God. There is nothing further from the truth. A single line of truth is determined by the revelation of God’s word clearly stated and forcefully placed upon the pages of holy writ that man must obey. There is no variance or changing the word of God to suit the needs of man’s wisdom without standing condemned before its Author.

The world is filled with numerous churches that bear a sprinkled resemblance of truth teaching doctrines that sound pleasing to the soul as doctrines of God. Religious organizations proclaim the teachings of Jesus Christ as their foundation of truth and righteousness. Religious men and women stand before crowds enthralled by the grandeur of pomp and ceremony framed within a slight representation of truth convincing the masses to blindly follow their doctrines. All the while the evil one smiles as the souls lost to his care are taken further down the dark pathway of error believing they are saved and yet never abiding in the doctrine of Christ. John makes it clear about what a person accepts as truth and what is not truth. If a man does not abide in the doctrine of Christ he does not have God and will be lost. When a man accepts the teachings of God in purity and faith the Father and the Son dwell in him. Accepting those in error creates error and shares in the evil deeds of apostasy. Truth is only established by the word of God. The Bible was written so that all men could read and understand the will of God and without accepting the words of the Bible as absolute truth there can be no hope. Here is the challenge: examine what you believe, what you practice and what your faith holds dear with the word of God alone. If it is found in the Book, it is the word of God. If it is not found in the Book it is false. Do not mince words or ignore teachings. Pattern your life after the word of God and the word of God alone. Make certain what you read in these post is founded upon the word of God and the word of God alone. His doctrine is truth. His truth is doctrine.

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A Band Of Spiritual Brothers

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Tychicus, a beloved brother, faithful minister, and fellow servant in the Lord, will tell you all the news about me. I am sending him to you for this very purpose, that he may know your circumstances and comfort your hearts, with Onesimus, a faithful and beloved brother, who is one of you. They will make known to you all things which are happening here. Aristarchus my fellow prisoner greets you, with Mark the cousin of Barnabas (about whom you received instructions: if he comes to you, welcome him), and Jesus who is called Justus. These are my only fellow workers for the kingdom of God who are of the circumcision; they have proved to be a comfort to me. Epaphras, who is one of you, a bondservant of Christ, greets you, always laboring fervently for you in prayers, that you may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God. For I bear him witness that he has a great zeal for you, and those who are in Laodicea, and those in Hierapolis. Luke the beloved physician and Demas greet you. Greet the brethren who are in Laodicea, and Nymphas and the church that is in his house. Now when this epistle is read among you, see that it is read also in the church of the Laodiceans, and that you likewise read the epistle from Laodicea. And say to Archippus, “Take heed to the ministry which you have received in the Lord, that you may fulfill it.” This salutation by my own hand—Paul. Remember my chains. Grace be with you. Amen. (Colossians 4:7-18)

A Band Of Spiritual Brothers

The apostle Paul was sitting in a Roman prison when he writes a letter to the saints and faithful brethren in Christ who were in Colosse. It would seem the environment of a prison would cause the spirit to be downtrodden but in all of his prison letters Paul was more concerned for the brethren than himself and used the letters to fill the recipients with a feeling of joy. The matter of chains and imprisonment did not hinder the spirit of Paul as he suffered for the cause of Christ because he knew his greatest reward was yet to come in death. Friends were very important to the apostle and he was blessed by a number of people who were not ashamed of his chains. They visited him often and some were arrested with Paul and imprisoned. In his letter to Colosse there are ten men mentioned in closing that made up his band of spiritual brothers that lifted up the spirit of Paul to be bold and courageous. These men would make the core group of individuals that have been preserved for two millennia as stalwart men of faith by the Holy Spirit that helped Paul endure his many trials and sufferings.

Tychicus was called a beloved brother. He was from Asia and is mentioned in four of Paul’s letters. Luke mentions the faithful minister of Paul as being a part of the third missionary journey waiting for the apostle in Troas. He would carry news of Paul to the church in Colosse as well as taking a letter to Timothy. When Paul desired for Titus to meet him at Nicopolis, Tychicus would travel to Crete to take his place. This was a man who was a hard worker in the kingdom and someone that could be relied upon to carry out the work of the apostle. Paul calls him his beloved brother endearing his spirit of faithfulness to himself as a minister and servant of the kingdom. The church needs men like Tychicus that can be looked upon with confidence.

Onesimus is an unusual friend of Paul because he was a runaway slave that had been taught the truth and was sent back to his master Philemon. Like Tychicus, he was called a faithful and beloved brother. How powerful the testimony of the gospel to remove the chains of sin from the heart of a man indentured by the chains of life. What is found in the heart of Onesimus is the cleansing power of grace to change a man’s life from a runaway slave to a slave of Christ who no longer runs away.

The third companion of Paul was Aristarchus a fellow prisoner. He was from Thessalonica and had suffered at the hands of people of Ephesus when the city rioted and seized Gaius and himself in response to Paul’s preaching against idolatry. He would travel with Tychicus and others during the third missionary journey and be found in the company of Paul on his trip to Rome where he was imprisoned also. Aristarchus was willing to suffer as Paul suffered. His spirit never left his friend the apostle Paul and willingly gave his life in the work of the kingdom. A truer friend could not be found than Aristarchus.

In one of the great stories of forgiveness John Mark is mentioned by Paul to the Colossian brethren as useful servant of the Lord. Paul and Barnabas had a very strong contention about John Mark after the first missionary journey. Mark had turned back while in Pamphylia and greatly upset Paul for his lack of diligence. Paul would take Silas with him while Barnabas took John Mark and began working in Cyprus. Now Paul speaks kindly about Mark commending him to the brethren. Sometimes men make hasty decisions and for whatever reasons Mark was not ready to work with Paul at first but soon became a useful servant of the apostle and Paul did not harbor unkind or unforgiving feelings toward him.

Jesus who is called Justus was a fellow worker for the kingdom of God among the Jews. These men proved very helpful to Paul in teaching the Jews the good news of Christ and Paul relates how they had become a comfort to him in his work. It is difficult to imagine the level of suffering endured by the apostle at the hands of the Jews and later the Romans but this band of brothers helped him do his work with faith and courage.

Epaphras was earlier called a dear fellow servant and faithful minister in the letter to the Colossians. He was a close companion of Paul laboring fervently in the kingdom. There was a great zeal about Epaphras that set him apart from others. This would cost him greatly as he also would be a fellow prisoner with Paul feeling the chains and stocks of the Roman prison. The spirit of Epaphras was very dear to the apostle. Men like Epaphras stood by the servants of the Lord to exhort, encourage and help them keep doing the work of teaching the gospel of Christ. The church needs men who strike their spirit of iron on other men to help them do their work.

Luke is only mentioned by name in three books of the Bible but his letters to Theophilus fill the pages of the New Testament with the great declarations of the life of Jesus and the Acts of the Apostles. He is found as a traveling companion in the book of Acts with Paul suffering along with the apostle and keeping a close record of all the events surrounding the work of the kingdom. It is in this letter that Luke is identified as a man of medicine. There are hints to this in the gospel and the Acts but Paul commends his dear friend for the work he had done as a beloved physician. There can be little doubt that Luke was a vital part of the work of Paul as they worked together in preaching but also for the medicinal needs of the apostle. He would be one of the last people to be with Paul as he faced death bringing great comfort to the aged apostle as he prepared to die. Luke was truly a beloved friend of the apostle.

Demas is commended in the letter to the Colossians but will be found wanting in Paul’s second letter to Timothy.  Paul had confidence in Demas and mentions him also in the letter to Philemon. When the Romans arrested Paul the second time and placed him in chains, Demas forsook the apostle and went to Thessalonica. At the time the apostle needed his friends most Demas forsook him. Paul did not hold a grudge against his friend but it hurt him deeply to be abandoned in his hour of need. Demas loved the world more than the Lord and gave up at the most important time. Those close to Paul would suffer like the apostle and some men were unable to bear the burden and pay the cost. Demas was not a faithful servant of the Lord and how much this disappointed Paul.

Finally Paul mentions the brethren in Laodicea and Nymphas and the church that is in his house. Nothing is known about the man but he was a man of faith bringing the family of God together to meet in his house. He was a giving spirit and gave comfort to Paul in his affliction.

All of these dear saints were important to Paul and he preserved their names through the centuries to remind God’s children to do what they can do to serve the Lord. Not everyone can be a Paul or Timothy but like this story there is a lot of work we can do to help men like them. Each person was important to Paul and he cared for each one. They made his life enjoyable in a Roman prison because he knew they were serving the Lord. Let us all band together in the work that we can do together in teaching a lost world the saving grace of God.

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