Colossians: Power to Endure with Joy
By Ray C. Stedman
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Most of the letters that Paul wrote to the churches were written to those that he had started himself. But he did not begin the church at Rome, nor did he begin the church at Colossae. It is not certain who started the church at Colossae, but it is very likely a man mentioned in certain of Paul's other letters -- Epaphroditus, or, since that was too long a name for even the Greeks to say, Epaphras. He is mentioned in this letter as being from Colossae, and is very likely the one who founded the church. Where he had heard the Gospel we do not know, but he had evidently taken it to his own home town and had begun to proclaim Christ. Out of that proclamation had come the church at Colossae. Epaphroditus had gone to Rome to see the Apostle Paul, who was then a prisoner, carrying with him reports of the church at Colossae. Another man had also gone to Rome to see Paul during his first imprisonment, and he too brought reports of the church at Colossae. So it was to these new Christians who had never met the apostle face to face that Paul wrote the letter from Rome.
||CleanWhere Hope Begins (Colossians 1:1-8)||It is with a sense of excitement and anticipation that I begin with you a series of studies in Paul's letter to the Colossians. This is one of the prison letters of the apostle, written, most scholars believe, while he was a prisoner in Rome, although one scholar makes out a good case for an imprisonment in Ephesus. It is not really of any great importance as to where the apostle was when he wrote this letter: the important thing is the message of the letter itself.||29 9 2010||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanGrowing Up (Colossians 1:9-14)||We are now well into the Christmas season, and everybody is enjoying the return of the great symbols of our faith in the incarnation of our Lord Jesus. The central symbol of Christmas, of course, is a baby. Perhaps the most loved carol is Martin Luther's cradle hymn, "Away in a manger, no crib for a bed/The little Lord Jesus lay down his sweet head." Yes, it's wonderful to focus upon the baby Jesus but we sometimes idealize---even idolize---babies.||22 9 2010||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanMaster of the Universe (Colossians 1:15-17)||Charles Wesley's wonderful phrase from "Hark, The Herald Angels Sing," Veiled in flesh the Godhead see; Hail the Incarnate Deity captures the central truth of our Christian faith. Since the appearance of Jesus on this earth two thousand years ago, Christians have believed that the man called Jesus of Nazareth is and was God the Creator; that the eternal Son dwelt in a human body, thus "veiled in flesh the Godhead see." Every other doctrine of Christianity flows out of that great truth. If it be denied, one has denied the heart of Christian faith and has embraced heresy.||15 9 2010||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanThe Reason for the Season (Colossians 1:18-20)||Most scholars feel that the magnificent description of Christ found in verses 15-20 of Colossians 1 represents an early Christian hymn which Paul is quoting. These verses may represent the very first of all Christmas carols. If so; it is a hymn of two stanzas. The first concerns Jesus as Lord of creation, i.e. the material universe, and all forces at work within it. The second stanza speaks of Jesus as Lord of the new creation, the new humanity. We have lost the tune for this hymn, but we still have these words which focus upon our Lord's overall supremacy.||8 9 2010||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanThe Great Mystery (Colossians 1:21-29)||You have all seen the television commercial for the Armed Forces that says---to a musical accompaniment---"Be all that you can be." It implies that if you join the Army, the Navy, the Air Force or the Marines, then you can be all that you can be. I don't believe that! Does anybody? But a word like that has strong appeal. Everybody wants to be all that he can be. I have never met anyone who doesn't want to be all that he feels himself capable of being. We all hunger for that. No matter how degraded, downcast or frustrated, everyone longs for fulfillment.||1 9 2010||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanThe Overflowing Life (Colossians 2:1-7)||The end of a year always brings news articles that highlight the events of the past year. I read this week an article entitled "The Most Boring People of 1986." Some may place me in that category, but at least I was not included in this article. A group calling themselves "The Boring Institute of New Jeremiahsey" picks the most boring people of the year every December. You may be interested to know that in 1984 Michael Jackson was the "Yawn of the Year," primarily because of his over-exposure in the media. In 1985 it was Dr. Ruth Westheimer, who, as this article says, "debunked the cherished myth that talking about sex is always interesting." The winner this year was Joan Rivers. "Her rival talk show," the article says, "reveals the genius of Johnny Carson."||25 8 2010||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanBeware! (Colossians 2:8-15)||Our text today deals with the terrible danger of being spiritually deceived. We live in an age that is well supplied with impersonators, pitch men and con artists. I once heard of a farmer whose horses kept slobbering over everything. He saw an advertisement in a farm magazine offering a cure for this for a fee of $20. He scraped together the money and wrote asking for the secret. In return he received a very thin envelope containing a single sheet of paper, on which were written the words, "Teach your horses to spit."||18 8 2010||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanThe Things that can Ruin your Faith (Colossians 2:16-23)||I should like to read to you the introduction to Colossians in the Student Bible, a new and exciting version whose notes are written by our good friends, Philip Yancey and Timothy Stafford: You see them in strange outfits on street corners, chanting phrases with too many vowels and punctuating the chants with a noisy tambourine. Or in airports, thrusting books or flowers into your face. Or in California, all over California. You think of them as crazy cults populated by misfits. Then one day you hear about a friend of yours. She seemed normal until suddenly, without warning, she snapped. Her parents searched desperately, even hiring private detectives to help get her back. They found her surrounded by allies, with a new name, a new hairstyle and, so it seemed, a new brain. She stared at them with clear eyes and told them they were missing out on the most wonderful experience of life. She had joined a cult. Cults come in all varieties, often with exotic names like Hare Krishna or Urantia, or the Church of Scientology. They demand much from their members: a lifetime of discipline and absolute loyalty, and they also promise much in return: the pathway to a secret, hidden knowledge, available only to those who follow them.||11 8 2010||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanTrue Human Potential (Colossians 3:1-11)||In our last study in Colossians we saw the siren song of theological error that was threatening to deprive the Colossian Christians of all vitality and vigor in their faith. And today, two thousand years later, the same error, under the guise of the New Age Movement, is luring thousands into spiritual slavery by offering them the secret of fulfilled human potential. It is sad to see these ideas being propagated by celebrity evangelists who are enticing people into concepts and mysteries that will only leave them disillusioned and enslaved.||4 8 2010||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanPut on the New (Colossians 3:12-17)||There was a popular song some years ago, sung by Bing Crosby and others of my generation, that went like this: You've got to accentuate the positive, Eliminate the negative, Latch on to the affirmative, And don't mess with Mr. In-between. Those lyrics are an accurate description of the passage we have before us in Colossians, chapter 3, beginning with verse 12. Listen to these affirmative words: "Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you." (Colossians 3:12)||28 7 2010||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanLiving Christianly (Colossians 3:18-4:6)||How to live Christianly is one of the great problems we face as believers. It is helpful to remember that the secret of Christian living can be put in one sentence. Paul actually does that in his letter to the Galatians: "Walk in the Spirit and you will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh."||21 7 2010||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanThe Early-Day Saints (Colossians 4:7-18)||In our final study in the letter to the Colossians we come to a list of names of associates and friends of the apostle Paul. We could call these people "the early-day saints." Down the street from this church there is another church building, called "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints." Mormons believe that the Scripture has been so garbled in translation through the centuries that it has lost all authenticity, so that God had to begin again with a new revelation which they call the Book of Mormon. Thus, they think of themselves as the Latter-Day Saints.||14 7 2010||Free||View in iTunes|