Yesterday we wrote about Epaphras, a little-known member of the Colossian church, who is mentioned in both chapter one of Colossians and in today’s verse.
Antonio Figureiredo was a devout Portuguese believer who is now with the Lord. He faithfully attended the church we served in New England back in the nineties Several years after we moved to Lancaster County we went back to visit the church. What a joy it was to see Antonio again as well as others in the congregation we had served for over seven years.
Before the service he warmly shook Brooksyne’s hand, looked directly at her with tears welling up in his eyes and meekly said, “I still pray for your family.” He then softened his voice in a timid, half-apologetic tone and proceeded to say, “I pray for you every day in my Portuguese language.” (As if that made any difference to God! In fact, it was heartening to know that God was hearing prayers offered up for our family in a language unknown to us.)
Our brother’s words uplifted us and made us thankful for the spiritual “long snappers” God has placed in our lives (see Monday’s message). Long Snappers are by no means prominent in the Body of Christ, but truly a team member who is vital. Another analogy is “the spiritual adhesive that keeps the building blocks of any Christian foundation from crumbling”.
Many of you are familiar with the term “prayer warriors”, used to describe those who have a special passion for prayer. These prayer warriors make such a valuable, unseen contribution to our lives and in the life of a church. I hope we all can identify these types of individuals in our lives who especially uphold us in prayer. They have one of the most important, yet often under-rated ministries. We recall Al and Thata Book, an elderly missionary couple who died in a vehicle accident in Africa. A stirring moment at their Memorial Service came when one of the grandchildren reflected upon the sudden absence of his grandparents. He, his siblings and cousins were assured daily of their grandparents’ faithful prayers on their behalf and they were certainly going to miss that.
Epaphras is mentioned just three times in the Bible (twice here in Colossians and once in Philemon). It appears that Epaphras initially took the message of Christ to Colossae (1:7), which is located in the southwest corner of modern day Turkey, and there he planted the Colossian church. The missionary journeys recorded in Acts do not mention Paul ever visiting this city. In Philemon Epaphras is mentioned as a fellow prisoner with Paul (perhaps the same person).
- “who is one of you” likely means he was from Colossae. What a connection Paul was making here. Wherever we reside we consider a special connection to people that were or are from our home town. In Epaphras’ case he had taught them the Word of God.
- “and servant of Christ Jesus” which essentially repeats a point Paul had made in the first chapter, “a faithful servant of Christ” (v.8).
- “sends greetings”. What a blessing these two words must have been to the original recipients in Colossae.
Purpose: But the purpose of Epaphras’ prayer is so unlike the typical “bless ’em” prayers we might quickly say for another in the faith. Intercessory prayer was a priority in his walk with God. So much so that his spirit wrestled in prayer as he regularly engaged in a spiritual tug of war with the devil, the believer’s combative enemy. To examine each of the elements of content in this prayer would violate a fundamental premise of this devotional (brevity). But I want you to take note of the rich spiritual interest that he expressed in the phrase, “that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured”.
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, we want to stand firm in Your will, maturing in our faith, and we desire full assurance that You will lead us in the paths of righteousness for Your name’s sake. Just like Epaphras who wrestled in prayer for his brothers and sisters in the faith, help us to wrestle in prayer for our loved ones, and our brothers and sisters in the faith who wage war against the enemy. Our intercessory prayers are not waging war against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world. How reassuring that You have the ultimate authority to intervene and give us victory in these ongoing struggles with good and evil. Amen.
- “I vouch for him”! What a blessing for Epaphras to have the commendation from Paul.
- “That he is working hard for you” The sense in which he was working hard is difficult to understand since he was in prison with Paul, though much could be gleaned by Paul during conversation with Ephaphras during their time of captivity. What’s more prayer is hard work!
- “And for those at Laodicea and Hierapolis” This reveals his big heart. Although Epaphras was from Colossae his ministry extended beyond that city to the region. Both Laodicea and Hierapolis” were in the same region as Colossae and relatively close by (Laodicea is about 9 miles west (here on a Google map) and Hierapolis is about 12 miles north (here)
Yesterday we shared a photo of a new mailbox in our neighborhood and thought we would also post a head-on view since viewers glean ideas for their own home projects. As I took the photo I noticed the solar light attached to the log cabin/mailbox and even the vented cupola on top.