“LEAVING YOUR MARK”
(A Message from Colossians)
Westgate Chapel 1/08/04 a.m. Colossians 4:7-18
PROPOSITION: If you knew that your life in Christ was going to be encapsulated in one verse of Scripture, recorded for all to see and read for generations to come, how would you then live?
- 2005 lies ahead of us like a road that quickly disappears into the fog.
- NONE of us knows what it will bring; what twists and turns, what mountain passes, what valleys.
- WE have no control over that.
- WHAT we do have control over is the mark you and I will leave as we travel that road.
- MANY of us don’t feel like we are significant enough to leave any kind of a mark....so we don’t aspire to anything.
- THERE are some who think too highly about themselves and the apostle Paul has some strong words for that.
- BUT in the kind of world we live in, I believe that we have the opposite problem most of the time.
* The country is so big.
* And superstars are so larger-than-life that who of us could ever aspire to leave our mark on America?
- BUT that is true only if you and I are measuring by the world’s standards.
- REMEMBER that the kind of significance that the world values is here today and gone tomorrow.
- TWENTY years from now they will be saying, “Jessica Simpson who......?”
- THAT is because “this present evil world” is a fleeting kingdom. The Bible says it is like the grass, of the field that flourishes for a moment and then is gone.
- ON the other hand the Kingdom of God is an eternal kingdom.
- IT is not a kingdom made with human hands. It is not based on human measurements or assessments of greatness.
- IT is a kingdom whose builder and maker is God.
- AND some day soon, the Bible says, God’s Son will break through the clouds of the air and...
“The kingdom of the world (will) become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever.” (Revelation 11:15)
- BUT in the mean time He has assigned us, as citizens of His kingdom living in a foreign land, to the task of investing ourselves in those things that are going to live forever.
* When you share the message of Jesus with someone through your life or through your witness....you are dealing with things of eternal significance.
* When you give your tithes and invest your offerings to the ministry of God’s Kingdom, you are laying up treasure where neither inflation nor depreciation exist.
* When you lay at the end of your child’s bed and explain the wisdom for living God’s way from Proverbs....or tell them what Jesus means to you...you are laying the foundation for the next seventeen trillion years just for starters.
- How does that compare to the value of them learning violin or soccer?
* When you stand in a Tuesday night prayer meeting and your child sees your hands lifted in praise and tears running down your face.....you are leaving your mark for eternity.
- WITH enough blood, sweat and tears you can leave your mark in the business world, in the field of education, in the sports world, in the Guinness Book of World Records.
- BUT those marks last less than a lifetime.
- WHAT if you knew that your life was going to be singled out and encapsulated in one sentence of a permanent record that would be studied for the next 2,000 years by millions of people......HOW WOULD YOU CHOSE TO LIVE?
- TURN with me to Colossians 4:7 (page 1167) and discover the mark left by ten people, each of them captured for all eternity, in a single verse of Scripture that will never pass away.
- EACH of them the Holy Spirit chose....out of the thousands of verses selected for inclusion in Scripture....to devote a verse to their story.
ii. leaving their mark
1. TYCHICUS....verses 7&8,
“Tychicus will tell you all the news about me. He is a dear brother, a faithful minister and fellow servant in the Lord. (7) I am sending him to you for the express purpose that you may know about our circumstances and that he may encourage your hearts.”
* This is the man who carried the epistle from Paul’s prison cell in Rome to Colosse....and probably was the courier for the Ephesian letter as well.
* If it were not for his faithful, hard, simple delivery job we would not have two of the most significant epistles of the New Testament.
* He was trusted also to give the Colossians an accurate account of what was happening in Paul’s life.
* He is Paul’s special envoy to the fledgling, struggling church in Colosse. What a responsibility!
* Was he well known in the massive political machinery of the Roman empire? No.
* Was he written up in Pliny’s history of the glory that was Rome? No!
* But he traveled with Paul from the province of Asia in Acts 20:4, carrying the special benevolence offering to Jerusalem.
* And on two occasions Paul sends him as an emissary of the kingdom of God...to Ephesus with a word for Timothy, and then to Crete, with a word for Titus.
* So, Paul has been with Tychicus on the road, handling finances, carrying epistles.
* And in the two verses devoted to him he is recorded, for all eternity, as....
• “dear brother...in the Lord”
• “faithful minister...in the Lord”
• “fellow-servant....in the Lord”
* And Paul says to the believers in Colosse, “When he comes, he will encourage your hearts.”
* That is the mark that Tychicus left.....faithful servant.
2. ONESIMUS....verse 9,
“He is coming with Onesimus, our faithful and dear brother, who is one of you. They will tell you everything that is happening here.” (Verse 9)
* Here is a brother that came from Colosse.
* When he left town the law on his tail.
* Onesimus is a run away slave....and his owner is in the congregation at Colosse, Philemon.
* Onesimus runs away to Las Vegas. That is what Rome was in those days....the fast lane.
* But somehow when he gets to Rome he bumps in to Paul.....and that was the beginning of a new life for this fugitive.
* In fact, the transformation in Onesimus is so dramatic and so fast that Paul, who does not just throwing bouquets at everybody, as we will see later on in the chapter, says of him that he is...
• Our faithful.....
• And dear brother....
• He is one of you....
* And Paul says, I am sending him back for reconciliation and restitution for anything that he did wrong.
* What happened to this fugitive from the law out on the lamb...this no good bum...this quitter?
* Historians believe that later he became the bishop of the Church at Ephesus.
* His name means useful. We know that he is the reason that the New Testament book of Philemon was preserved for inclusion in Scripture.
* Onesimus left his mark...making costly wrongs right.
3. ARISTARCHUS....verse 10,
“My fellow prisoner Aristarchus sends you his greetings...”
* Here is a good man to have around. Aristarchus is the man to have with you when your back is to the wall.
• In Acts 19:29, he is with Paul in the middle of the riots in Ephesus...and helps bring him through safely.
• In Acts 20:4 he is with Paul when he is arrested in Jerusalem and almost killed by the mob.
• When the going got tough, Aristarchus got tougher.....and he accompanied Paul on his heavily guarded trip to prison in Rome.
• He was in the shipwreck with Paul in Acts 27:2.
• And voluntarily or not, we don’t know, but he is a fellow-prisoner with Paul in Rome.
* This is the kind of man you want as a friend when your back is to the wall.
* When things were tough for Paul...there was Aristarchus.
* Nobel Peace prize? No. Front page of Time? No. Running for office? No. Who’s Who of American Religion? No.
* But written up in the Word that will never pass away.
* He left his mark....unshakable friend.
4. MARK....further in verse 10,
“...as does MARK, (send greetings) the cousin of Barnabas. (You have received instructions about him; if he comes to you, welcome him.)”
* Here is a guy who was a quitter....a Mommy’s boy....a wimp.
* He set out with Paul and Barnabas in their first missionary journey and when things got tough he ran home to Mommy (Acts 13:13).
* All of Asia Minor knew what had happened...and that is where Colosse is. He was probably the brunt of several jokes about sissies.
* So, when Paul and Barnabas were planning their second missionary trip, and Barnabas wanted to take Mark along....Paul said “over my dead body.”
* And the Paul and Barnabas team split up over it.
* But Barnabas wouldn’t give up on the boy...and mentored him when everyone else had written him off.
* And the quitter had a come back.
• And he traveled everywhere with Peter.
• And he wrote the Gospel of Mark from Peter’s first-hand account of Jesus’ life.
• And historians credit him with establishing the first church in Alexandria, in Egypt.
• And at the end of Paul’s life, right before he is executed, he asks that Mark come to him.
* Paul says to Colosse, “When Mark comes to you, welcome him. He has come past his failure into a new and powerful usefulness for the kingdom.
* He left his mark after a miserable start....only now John Mark is a strong finisher.
5. JESUS, CALLED JUSTUS.....verse 11,
“Jesus, who is called Justus, also sends greetings. These are the only Jews among my fellow workers for the kingdom of God, and they have proved a comfort to me.” (Verse 11)
* Justus is working for a kingdom that cannot be seen with the human eye.
* He is not in love with this world. This world doesn’t affect him. It is not his final home.
* He also is not sitting on his hands when it comes to eternal things. He is a worker.
* And his life is like medicine to Paul’s spirit. The word for “comfort” comes from the Greek word meaning medicine.....restored to strength.
* This is a guy that is leaning into the purposes and priorities of the kingdom of God.
* Justus left his mark....working for the unseen kingdom.
6. EPAPHRAS....verses 12-13,
“Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends greetings. He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured.” (Verse 12) I vouch for him that he is working hard for you and for those at Laodicea and Hierapolis.”(Verse 13)
* Here is the evangelist who likely planted the church in Colosse.
* And the church there was never far from his mind or heart.
* He is not a volunteer who comes and goes at random, Epaphras has the heart of a servant...which he is.
* He is ALWAYS in intense intercession for the believers at Colosse.
* This is the kind of praying that is work....as he takes the burden for the whole region.
* This is obviously not the kind of evangelist that sells his books and tapes and then takes off for the Bahamas.
* His whole life is wrapped up in those new believers, preaching and training them into being able to stand against the most unimaginable opposition.
* Epaphras leaves his mark....wrestling in prayer.
7. LUKE....verse 14,
“Our dear friend Luke, the doctor....sends greetings.”
* Here is a man who stayed with Paul to the end.
* One of his passions was to see to it that there was a faithful account made of Jesus’ life and the life of the brand new Spirit-filled Church of Jesus.
* He wrote Luke’s Gospel and Acts....with the eye to record the work of the Holy Spirit in Jesus’ life in the Gospel and the work of the Spirit in Jesus’ body, the Church in Acts.
* He gave up a lucrative medical practice to follow the Healer of humankind....and stayed with it to the end.
* Luke left his mark....giving up all to follow Jesus.
8. DEMAS......verse 14,
“...and Demas sends greetings.”
* Notice that Paul says nothing about Demas other than he sends greetings.
* Here is a guy who started great...but didn’t finish the course.
* In Philemon 24, Paul calls him a fellow-laborer.
* Here Paul says zip about him.
* I wonder if Paul was seeing the handwriting on the wall about this guy.
* In Paul’s last epistle, II Timothy, Demas’ name comes up again.....and he had left Paul because he loved this world.
• The loss of enthusiasm for spiritual things....must have gone unchecked.
• The loss of kingdom orientation...must have gone unchecked.
• The loss of passion for the Lord...must have gone unchecked.
• So, Demas got lukewarm...and fishing and skiing Baker, and the Seahawks, and his family, and his stocks....all became more exciting and more real than his love for Jesus.
• And he walked off the pages of Scripture.
* Demas’ mark.....was that he loved this world more than Jesus.
9. NYMPHA....verse 15,
“Give my greetings to the brothers at Laodicea, and to Nympha and the church in her house.”
* Here is a lady who risked alienation from the rest of the town by having the church of Jesus in her house.....and she could have cared less because she was a citizen of a kingdom that was not of this world.
* Many times in a week the saints would gather from all over town...until her home got too small for the services.
* Her living room filled with the sounds of people in worship and calling on the Lord.
* Her kitchen prepared the meals that were shared.
* One commentator said that there would be good reason to believe that this lady was in the leadership of the church since the churches usually met in the home of their leadership.
* So, here is a lady who sets the priority of God’s work above all else in her life...and at times even that of her family.
* Her mark.....was that she loved Her Lord and His Church, more than the world.
After this letter has been read to you, see that it is also read in the church of the Laodiceans and that you in turn read the letter from Laodicea.
* The mark left by these people and their lives is already making the rounds as encouragement to the believers in surrounding churches.
10. ARCHIPPUS....verse 17,
“Tell Archippus: ‘See to it that you complete the work you have received in the Lord.’”
* In Philemon, Paul calls Archippus a fellow-soldier.
* He is possibly a young man in Philemon’s household...maybe Philemon’s son.
* And Paul singles him out in the whole congregation.
* Not too subtle....but that is not Paul’s strength anyhow.
* Paul knows that this letter will be read in front of the whole congregation as they gather....and yet he singles this young man out for a challenge.
* “Archippus, finish the work you got from the Lord and have begun.”
* In other words, finish as strong as you start.
* It is a solemn charge.
* We don’t know what kind of mark he actually left.... but I imagine, after that kind of challenge, that he finished the race well.
I, Paul, write this greeting in my own hand. Remember my chains. Grace be with you.”
- HERE are the ten marks left by these men and women of God, who didn’t know it at the time, but would be written into the permanent record of the Holy Spirit.
1. Tychicus.....faithful servant.
2. Onesimus.....making costly wrongs right.
3. Aristarchus....unshakable friend.
4. Mark....strong finisher.
5. Justus....working for the unseen kingdom.
6. Epaphras....wrestling in prayer.
7. Luke....giving up all to follow Jesus.
8. Demas’.....loved this world more than Jesus.
9. Nympha.....loved Her Lord and His Church, more than the world.
10.Archippus.... finished the race well.
- IF your life was going to be encapsulated in one verse of Scripture, recorded for thousand of years, for millions of believers to study and emulate.....how would you then live in this new year?