At Sunset on Sunday we prayed for those in the way of Florida’s Hurricane Irma, as well as those who went through Harvey in coastal Texas recently. Lord, hear our prayers.
The Sunset pastor continued our theme, “Raised with Christ,” with a message, “Field Work,” on Sunday. The text was from Colossians 4:8, “I am sending him… that he may encourage your hearts….”
Our lives are built not on the big things but the small things we do every day. They are important, regular things done in ordinary time. I call it field work.
Did you ever work in the field? A real field? I remember when I was young my family visited one of my Arkansas uncles, and we all went to the field for a few hours to pick cotton. The main thing I remember was that my uncle killed a big copperhead we discovered under a board.
The other thing I remember is that field work was regular, ordinary, real work. We didn’t stay in the field all day, but if we had, we would have been real tired that night.
Field work is also good and necessary work. Cotton is good for clothes, but someone has to work the field to get it.
The pastor made six points from the text about spiritual field work: (1) Greeting; (2) Working; (3) Wrestling; (4) Encouraging; (5) Doctoring; (6) Completing.
(1) Greeting. Paul mentions greeting in these verses at least seven times. V10: “My fellow prisoner Aristarchus sends you his greetings.” Why so much emphasis on greeting? What was the purpose?
Peter wrote (1 Peter 2:17): “Love the brotherhood of believers.” Greeting one another is an essential element of loving, receiving and blessing each other in Christ. Greeting is mentioned at least 73 times in the New Testament. We greet when we meet each other, and it’s good that we do. If we don’t, we’re missing something.
(2) Working. V13: “I vouch for Epaphras that he is working hard for you and for those at Laodicea and Hierapolis.” Epaphras had become a Christian through Paul’s ministry, and then became a church planter, and had planted the church at Colosse. It took real work—bringing Roman idolaters from their idol worship to worshipping God, not to mention travel—usually by walking—over the empire.
(3) Encouraging. V8: “I am sending Tychicus that you may know our circumstances and that he may encourage your hearts.” The world is full of critics (it’s easy), but it takes real work to be an encourager.
We can’t live anyone’s life for him or her, but we can encourage each other, and we all need to be encouraged to do the right thing.
Closely related is v11: “Aristarchus and Jesus (called Justus) are the only Jews among my fellow workers for the kingdom of God, and they have proved a comfort to me.” They let Paul know he is not alone. We are with you. In a difficult field, some comfort is important.
(4) Wrestling. V12: “Epaphras… is always wrestling in prayer for you.” Wrestling denotes an intense struggle, in this case, by one person struggling in prayer for another. Sometimes the only and best thing we can do for another is to pray fervently for them. God hears and acts.
(5) Doctoring. V14: “Our dear friend Luke, the doctor.” Luke, the author of the gospel, was a trained medical doctor. Some of what we do requires book learning, experience and formal training. Auto mechanics study manuals; home builders are trained to read blueprints; physicians study anatomy. It’s good to get two or three usable skills, and allow God to use you.
(6) Completing. V17: “Tell Archippus: ‘See to it that you complete the work you have received in the Lord.” Paul: Persevere in what God has called you to. Keep on keeping on, facing opposition, pressure and difficulty, with help from the Holy Spirit.
“The Lord will respond to the prayer of the destitute; he will not despise their plea.” [Psalm 102:17]
May our prayers rise to the Almighty for those in need, and, according to his promise, may He hear our prayers — our hope for you from your friends at Sunset Christian Church.