Jump Start # 2897
Colossians 4:12-13 “Epaphras, who is one of your number, a bondslave of Jesus Christ, send you his greetings, always laboring earnestly for you in his prayers, that you may stand perfect and fully assured in all the will of God. For I bear him witness that he has a deep concern for you and for those who are in Laodicea and Hierapolis.”
Her name is Savannah. She’s a typical teenager, full of life, active and a bit shy. Her smile is contagious. But there is something else about Savannah, she has cancer. That ugly, dreaded word, cancer. She is in the early stages of chemo. Our congregation, which is her family, has busted the seams with support. It is amazing to see all the things that have been done. There are T-shirts with the expression, “Savannah Strong, her fight is our fight.” After services last Wednesday, her birthday, there was a caravan of cars that drove by her house and left her cards and gifts, waved and honked our horns. In that caravan was a fire truck, multiple police cars and over fifty cars from our church family. Nearly every prayer in our services names her. We love her and her family and we want her to beat this, which she can.
And, all of this takes us to dear ole’ Epaphras and our verse today. I hope someday that I can stand beside him in Heaven. I know if Epaphras was among us that he’d lead the way in praying for our Savannah. When people play the game who they would like to be like, some say Paul, others say Joseph or Apollos—mine is Epaphras.
Notice what our verse tells us about him:
First, he belonged to Jesus. He was a bondslave of Jesus Christ, is how Paul put it. Did Epaphras preach? Probably. And, if he didn’t he’d be one of the greatest cheerleaders for those who preached. He was one of the Lord’s. That’s powerful. Who do you belong to? America? Your congregation? How about Jesus, first. How about Jesus, always.
Second, he sent his greetings. That’s a nice way of saying encouragement. Many people think of others, but they never know it. Sending greetings is so easy today. Pick up the phone. Send a text. Send an email. Mail a card. Facetime. Facebook message. Just let others know you are thinking about them. That’s enough to drive the clouds away and put some sunshine in someone’s heart and soul. Epaphras sent his greetings. I expect that meant a lot for the Colossian church.
Third, always laboring earnestly for you in prayers. Epaphras was a man of prayer. He prayed. He prayed for others. He prayed hard. I especially like the expressive way the NIV states this: “He is always wrestling in prayer for you.” Sounds as if he was fighting a bear! No, repeating the same ole’ words every time. He was working hard in prayer. Just as Jacob wrestled an angel, Epaphras was wrestling in prayer.
And, this makes us pause and wonder about how we pray. Is merely running through a check list actually praying? We “bullet point” our prayers, but do we labor and wrestle with them? Do we pour our heart and our soul into our prayer? Do we bust it hard in prayer? Does our prayers cause us to sweat, agonize and feel tired? When Jesus prayed, his sweat became blood. Image that taking place on a Sunday morning in the pulpit?
And, what was my friend, Epaphras working so hard over in his prayers? He was praying for the Colossians. He was praying hard that they be mature, another word for perfect, and be complete, or strong. His prayers were not about Caesars in Rome, jobs, the weather, but the spiritual wellbeing of the people he loved. I doubt this prayer was short. Most wrestling matches take awhile.
Fourth, he did these things because he had a deep concern for the Colossians. But he had a similar concern for Laodicea—that church that became infamous in Revelation for being lukewarm. They had someone caring for them. They had someone praying hard for them. And, another church, Hierapolis, was also in his prayers and in his heart. He cared. That’s where prayers and service begin. Without love, without care, nothing gets done.
We’ve been praying hard for our sweet Savannah. She is tough. She’s strong. Her family is awesome. And, with a mighty army of God’s people around them, they’ll get through this. The Lord can whip cancer. Could I ask you to take a moment today and pray for our Savannah? And, while you are at it, thank the Lord for all that He does for us. We are certainly blessed.
Epaphras—I just love that guy. I wish I was him.