October 28th – The Warning Word

Imagine how you would feel if you had word that people who were very dear to you were being systematically fed with poison. Would you get angry and tearful? I know that you would act on it at once. You would have to do something.You could hardly stand by and let it happen without a shout of warning or blowing the whistle on what was going on.
Imagine that when you got the dread news you were out of the country, and that there were no phones, and no express mail services, and to crown all this, you were chained up in a prison cell for an undetermined period. In such a crisis you would find some way of getting word to them, and it would be a loving but impassioned warning to them, setting out what was going on and about which they seemed to be blind. You would say all you could in a letter and get it sent by personal messenger at once, and then you’d have to wait and see what happened as a result. If you are an activist, you would find the waiting as hard as your feeling of helplessness, by just being there in jail when there must be so many people out there needing you and so much work for you to do.
Well, stop imagining and sense how Paul was feeling when he wrote his letter from prison to the people of the town of Colossae, where, up till then, he had never personally visited. He knew well the district and the two nearby church communities of Heirapolis and Laodicea, and he sent his urgent letter by a personal messenger – one of Paul’s team – called Tychichus, who came from there. Paul says “He will give you all the news about how Philemon’s slave Onisimus has become a Christian and has come back with him to his lawful master”. He took with him a letter – a copy of which you can read yourself – it’s called “Paul’s Letter to Philemon”.
Paul asked the Collosians to have this letter read also in the two other area churches, because what he was so concerned about was a danger common to that entire area surrounding them. The Letter opens with prayerful thanksgiving for them, and then quickly gets down to brass tacks: the danger they were in. That occupies all the remainder of the letter, right up to the personal greetings at the end. We will look at Paul’s warning words tomorrow, for now hear how he begins his urgent message – not in panic, but in prayer!
Paul, an apostle in Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother.
To the holy and faithful brothers in Christ at Colosse: Grace and peace to you from God our Father. We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all the saints …”Colossians 1: 1-4.
A Prayer:
Thank you Lord that I am in a family, most of which I’ve never seen, but who are my brothers and sisters in Jesus.
Now read Colossians 3:18 to 4:18.

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