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A Fond and Friend-Filled Farewell, Part 3

Insight for Living / Chuck Swindoll
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April 13, 2022 7:05 am

A Fond and Friend-Filled Farewell, Part 3

Insight for Living / Chuck Swindoll

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April 13, 2022 7:05 am

Jesus Christ, Our All in All: A Study of Colossians

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It was Carl Sandburg who made this astute observation about the legacy of Abraham Lincoln. He said, a tree is best measured when it's down.

Lincoln's greatest influence on our nation and even on the world was not realized until he was gone. Today on Insight for Living, Chuck Swindoll presents the very last message in his brand new teaching series in Colossians. As we read the final sentences in Colossians chapter 4, which Paul wrote from a prison cell, we begin to see the timeless legacy of the apostle.

Chuck titled this final message a fond and friend-filled farewell. Look at the next six. Aristarchus is mentioned down in verse 10. Look at what it says about Aristarchus. He is in prison with me.

He's actually under arrest as I am. In Acts 27 2, you will trace Aristarchus as he travels from Caesarea by the sea all the way to Italy, all the way to Rome. He was one of his traveling companions. So there's a closeness to Paul.

Probably so close is the reason he became arrested. He simply says he is in prison with me, but he sends his greetings. Isn't it interesting? There's no bitterness mentioned.

There's no pity. There is greeting. Mark, now we meet in verse 10. When Paul and Barnabas did their first missionary journey, they took along with them a young man named John. John Mark.

This Mark. And he made it the first part of the journey, but when they got to the shores of Pamphylia and the rugged rocks that were there and no doubt the infestation of mosquitoes, some of them carrying malaria, perhaps it was there, Paul contracted a terrible disease. He became discouraged. He panicked and no doubt in the middle of the night fled.

He abandoned them. This is John Mark. This is the man mentioned here among Paul's friends.

It gets better. Through the years, John Mark has begun to mature. He's become reliable. He's seen the failure of his early decision when he abandoned these wonderful friends and he has probably come full circle and maybe even made it right with Paul. So much so that Mark, Barnabas' cousin, he says, welcome him if he comes your way.

Isn't that great? Here's a man who had been abandoned by Mark now saying, I speak in his behalf. Then we get to a man who has a name nobody wanted. Verse 11.

Jesus. Jesus was his Jewish name. Justice is his Latin name, not uncommon in those days. But they called him justice for obvious reasons.

He sends his greetings. What about him? We know nothing more. You will not read of justice anywhere else in all the Bible. But to Paul, he's a friend.

Now, look at what he says about justice. These are my coworkers. They're working with me here for the kingdom.

What a comfort they have been. But I missed something important. Look earlier in the verse. Verse 11.

Justice sends his greetings. These are the only Jewish believers among my coworkers. I don't know about you, but that surprised me to read that. By now, because Paul has ministered to the Gentiles, a number of the Jewish companions have moved elsewhere and been involved in their ministry. He's really surrounded by Gentiles. But there were still a few who were Jewish who were standing beside him.

Justice is one of them. Now, verse 12 is Epiphras. We met him earlier in chapter 1.

Turn, please. Colossians 1, verse 7. You learned about the good news from Epiphras, our beloved coworker, who is Christ's faithful servant, helping us on your behalf. He has told us about the love for others that the Holy Spirit has given you.

You know what I think? I think Epiphras was one of their teachers. We would call him one of their pastoral staff members. He was one of their shepherds. It was from him that many of the Colossians, we just read this, learned about the good news of Christ. So he mentions him again here at the end of the letter, verse 12, chapter 4, a member of your own fellowship, indeed he was, and notice also, a slave of Christ Jesus.

That sounds like a put-down, but it is one of the finest titles that you could bear. Here is this man, Epiphras, who has been a teacher, well-known among you, communicating the truth, but the best thing I can say about him, he's a slave of Christ Jesus. He sends you his greetings. Now, what was it that characterized Epiphras?

This is so exciting. I know you think I've not lost my mind spending all my time on this, but stay with me. It gets better because it can't get worse, so stay with me, okay? Epiphras, look at what it says. 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. Verse 13, I can assure you that he prays hard for you.

Now, why am I so excited about it? He's the friend who prays. You know what I believe? I believe every circle of friends has one who's known for prayer. One of the great things about encircling yourself with people who love the Lord, one of them will be what we would call a prayer warrior. When you're facing a real need, you say, you know what, I'm going to pick up the phone and call so and so, because I know they'll pray.

Or I'm going to send this message to her, and you type it out right quick, a text or something, and you punch it send, and it goes right, and it isn't but a matter of seconds before that individual getting your message stops to pray. Why? Because that's what they do. That's their calling.

That's why you need friends. You need individuals you can call on and say, you know what, I'm facing a very real situation. I had a man say to me this morning, I'm homeless, and I'm jobless, and I'm here in this area taking care of an individual who has cancer, and I'm a part of the hospice. Gives him a roof over his head and gives him an opportunity to do what he does. And I know this, he's a man who is praying. And I know his friends are praying about a need for a job, a need for a home, and his friend who's dying with cancer. Epiphras is the kind of individual you could count on.

He's the branch of our sheltering tree who brings our needs before the Lord our God. Let me tell you a quick story. When Cynthia and I were in seminary, we would occasionally go to Houston where our folks lived. Mom and Dad lived in the east side of Houston, and Cynthia's parents lived in the west side. So we would do our best to visit with both of them. But the good thing is we would visit our home church. And while we were there, I guarantee you Aunt May would find us. And Cynthia and I would say to each other, we've got to be ready for Aunt May. It means she's going to have her book, and in that book will be our names, Chuck and Cynthia, at seminary.

They went fall of 1959, here are their needs. And she's got them marked down here. So she would walk up and say, I want to know how that situation is you mentioned last time we were together. I've been praying about that. When you get an Aunt May in your life, you've got to get your stuff together. Because it isn't just a prayer request.

It's you've got to be ready to say, actually, I don't have a lot to report on that or let me tell you what happened. And she will write down the answer to that prayer. And then she would say, now before you leave, I know you're getting ready to go back.

Tell me one thing that is a struggle for you or one thing that's a concern for you right now. And we would tell her, we would be ready. And she would say, wait a minute, let me write that. And Aunt May would write that down. One of the great things about visiting our home church was meeting up with her.

Why? She was our epiphyse. We often think, wonder what life would have been like at Dallas Seminary for Chuck and Cynthia Swindoll if we hadn't had Aunt May to stand behind us and be a part of our lives. In case you happen to be the one in that circle of friends who is the prayer partner, stand tall. Hold your head up high. Your role is as significant as any preacher in the world.

Your participation in the needs of the people you know is invaluable. You are the epiphyse to that group that you call your friends and they would call you their friend. Now we get to a name we're familiar with. Luke. Look at him. Verse 14. He's one of the six that remained. And what do we read about him?

Luke is the beloved doctor. I pause because I want you to look at the words and I want to explain why it's significant. Now bear with me, okay? I've introduced concordance and lexicons. Now I'm going to introduce a little Greek syntax. It's good for you, okay? There is a particular construction in the Greek language called the restrictive attributive.

I get so excited when I think about it. Nobody else. Nobody else does.

The restrictive attributive is a particular construction that emphasizes the adjective. Let me give you an example. I am the good shepherd. No. The Greek says I am the shepherd. The good one.

And the emphasis is on good. Okay? Here's another one. John 15.1. He is the true vine.

Nope. He is the vine. The true one. The emphasis is on true. In Matthew 25.45, there's a statement, in as much as you have done it to the least of these my brothers, you have done it unto me. The Greek says, in as much as you have done it to these brothers of mine, even the least of them, you've done it unto me.

The great thing about that is the emphasis on the least, the less. Those who are disabled. Those who have a hearing. Those who haven't sight. Those who are brain damaged. The least of them. And the way you treat them is evidence of the way you treat me. Now why have I told you all that? Verse 14 is a restrictive attributive.

Here it goes. Luke, the doctor, the beloved one. You know what that tells me? He's more than a doctor who hands out pills. He's more than a doctor that likes cutting on people. He has endeared himself to the apostle.

Think of it. Luke could have stayed in the city where he was born or where he trained as a physician and had a very lucrative practice, but he didn't. You know why? Because he saw more value in traveling with Paul and building into his life and he became one of Paul's sheltering trees. When he was lacerated by the stones, Luke was there to massage in the oil, to comfort him. When he had stomach troubles or he had a pain or he struggled with the thorn in the flesh, Luke was there to help apply the ointment to his eyes.

Probably some form of ophthalmology. Luke is there as a beloved brother. Another thought I had. Think about it. Paul is an apostle so he has miraculous gifts, among them the gift of healing. Okay? But he travels with a doctor.

Is that great? People today who believe you can find a healer, you don't need a doctor. You remind them of Colossians 4.14. Paul had his own doctor because there are times you can't heal and you need the assistance of a very wise, competent physician. One of my first comments when I hear someone has a difficult, difficult disease is, do you have a really good physician?

Do you have a doctor that you can rely on? Luke was that kind of doctor. Best of all, he was the doctor, the beloved one. And then there was Demas. What do you notice about Demas? Look at it. What a baron, isn't it? Luke, the doctor, sends his greetings. Oh, so does Demas.

You wonder, don't you? Now if you had your concordance, I'm not giving up on this. If you looked up the name Demas, you would find another place where he's mentioned. Way over there in Paul's last letter, 2 Timothy 4.10, Demas, having loved this world, has deserted me. The Greek says Demas loving the now age.

What does that mean? It's intriguing. Demas is drawn to the stuff of this world. But he found himself in the dilemma among Paul's friends. I wonder, could it be that there were already faint outlines of degeneration, loss of spiritual enthusiasm, which caused Paul to simply name him? Oh, Demas also sends his greetings, which I think represents a concern Paul has for this traveling companion who has begun to cool off.

One of my mentors named Richard Soomey written a magnificent book called Shoes for the Road. He refers to what drew Demas away as the lure of a lesser loyalty. Demas had the loyalty of a Paul, but there was a lesser loyalty. And I quote Soomey, this lure knew no limits. It knows no limits. It may strike individuals. It may afflict churches. It may endanger institutions.

None is exempt from the allurement. And I may be speaking today to one of you who is a Demas. You may be drawn to this now age.

No one knows it. Not even your own partner in life. But in secret moments, you're compromising. You're starting to drift. I warn you, there's consequence to that.

It's a great moment for you to deal with it this very day and drop the lure of a lesser loyalty. And there's a young woman we know nothing of other than Nymphah, the church that meets in her house. So he greets her and he says also, verse 17, to another name unfamiliar to us, say to Archippus, be sure to carry out the ministry the Lord gave you. Philemon, verse 2, calls Archippus his fellow soldier.

So I don't know what the calling is, but Archippus may have begun to cool off or may have begun to have less discipline in his pursuit of his calling. And he says, you tell Archippus to stay with it, to stay at it, to carry out the ministry the Lord gave you, period. At this point, Paul realizes there's nothing more to write but his name and a very personal note. Look, here is my greeting in my own handwriting. The Greek simply says, by my hand, Paul, if you were to read this document and we do not have it, none of the original documents are extant.

We have only copies. But if you were to read this original document, you would see a change in handwriting where he says to his amanuensis or the secretary, let me have the stylus. So he takes the stylus and he writes, by my own hand, Paul. But that's not the end of the letter. He adds something.

Why? When he took the stylus, the chain, the manacle, dragged over the parchment. And he was reminded that he is still in chains. And he says, this very touching moment, oh, I almost forgot. And maybe you forgot.

I'm in chains. Remember that. And then he commends them to the very same truth that he began the letter, and that's grace. Early in the letter, he says, grace and peace from God our Father. He ends with, may God's grace be with you. I think it's worth mentioning that this letter ends with three essentials. A name, Paul.

His situation, the chains, and God's grace, which he commended to them. I began by telling you of Carl Sandburg's chapter title, a tree is best measured when it's down. One day they'll measure you. One day you and I, separately of course, at our place of death, will be measured.

There will be people who come from all over, perhaps. There may be letters written, communication, that will mention your name, will mention the marks on your tree, and will also include the message of God's grace that you modeled for them or took to them. Paul is living the results of God's choice for him.

God's plan for him providentially is that he would spend these years under arrest in chains. All of that brought me to the words of Horatio Bonar. Choose thou for me, I dare not choose my lot, I would not if I might. Choose thou for me my God, so shall I walk aright. Choose thou for me my friends, my sickness and my health. Choose thou my cares for me, my poverty or my wealth. Not mine, not mine the choice in things both great and small. Be thou my guide, my strength, my wisdom, and my all.

My all. Bow with me please. I suggest that some of you have lived your life long enough alone. The major lesson you learn from this is that your fierce independence is not commendable.

You cannot make it on your own. When you become so desperately ill, which may be tomorrow, or it may be months, years from now, you will need another to be near you. Someone who loves you, whose friendship you have cultivated, and they will be for you a sheltering tree. And when they measure you, I so pray that they will find that there has been carved in the trunk of your tree a cross that marks the day that you trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ. You gave him your life. If you've never done that, you can begin the carving today, right now. You Lord are our strength when we are weak. You're the treasure that we seek. You have become for us our all in all.

Seeking you as a precious jewel, Lord, to give up would be a fool because you have become our all in all. I pray for those who have buried loved ones and whose arms ache for them. I pray for the friends in their lives that they will be comforted and encouraged. I pray for those who have been weakened like Demas and begun to entertain the lure of a lesser loyalty. I pray, Lord, you will bring a friend who will tell them the truth and stay with them as they return to a walk with you. Finally, I pray for those who have never come to your son.

May that happen today. By the grace of our God, I pray that. In the matchless name of our friend, our all in all, even Jesus, I pray.

Everyone said, Amen. And with Chuck Swindoll's prayer, we conclude our 10-part study through Paul's letter to the Colossians. Chuck titled this series, Jesus Christ, Our All in All. And to learn more about this ministry, visit us online at Then please take note that today is the final day to mention the Living Insights commentary that Chuck wrote on Colossians. In fact, this hardbound volume includes his commentary on Philippians and Philemon as well. To purchase a copy of the Living Insights commentary on Colossians, go to slash offer, or call us.

If you're listening in the United States, call 800-772-8888. At Insight for Living, we're pleased to receive notes, letters, and phone calls from friends all around the world who affirm the value of Chuck's Bible teaching. You might be encouraged to hear this one that arrived from the state of Washington. It said, Chuck, over the years, my parents read your books and listened to Insight for Living on a consistent basis.

When we got my dad a new computer last year, we made it so he could access your teaching with just the touch on the screen. He listened faithfully to your radio program. Now I listen to your podcast each morning while I walk before work. My dad went to be with Jesus last week.

In his final days, there were two things besides family that made his eyes sparkle, ice cream and listening to Chuck Swindoll. Well, uplifting comments like these are made possible through the support of listeners like you who financially sustain Insight for Living. And you can partner with us by giving us a call. If you're listening in the United States, call 800-772-8888. To give a donation online, go to slash donate. I'm Bill Meyer inviting you to join us again tomorrow when Chuck Swindoll guides us in a celebration of Easter. Listen Thursday to Insight for Living. The preceding message, a fond and friend-filled farewell, was copyrighted in 2014 and 2022 and the sound recording was copyrighted in 2022 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights are reserved worldwide. Duplication of copyrighted material for commercial use is strictly prohibited.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-05-06 05:16:48 / 2023-05-06 05:25:38 / 9

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