Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Week 9 - Learning from the Foot Notes of History

Have you ever heard of the name Pat Renolf? How about the name Nai Keng? Today, I want to share with you a piece of their story. This comes to us through the our denomination’s magazine, called aLife. Let’s take a moment and listen to their story.

So Pat Renolf was the first missionary to the Hmong people, and Nai Keng was his helper/partner. If you google Pat Renolf, it will take you a while to find him. Even harder to find would be Nai Keng. In the greater history books of the world, both of their names will never be mentioned. Never to be praised by historians, never to be but maybe a foot note in the texts of missionary activities. Yet, both were used by God to impact generations of the Hmong people.
We’re at the end of the book of Colossians. We have spent 8 weeks understanding the over-arching points that the Holy Spirit was communicating through the Apostle Paul. We learned that as a church, we are to know Jesus and be in prayer. We learned that as individuals, God wants us to live in his fullness, and he intends for us to live in this fullness now. We learned that we live in this fullness through developing an intimate relationship with Jesus, by allowing him to kill the things that hold us back from experiencing him, and to have him make the things come alive that are needed to experience him.
We then learned, that in order for us to experience God’s fullness the way he intends, we must realize the the relationships we have with people, are just as important, as our relationship with him. The two cannot be separated. And only when we are knowing Jesus intimately, and serving the people around us, can we begin to experience God’s fullness.
Then the last time I was able to share with you, we talked about how we need to take all that we have learned, and be people who are salting our lives. We are to be people who build up people, enhance other’s lives, and bond ourselves to people.
And that’s where we come to today’s final section of the book of Colossians. So if you have your Bibles, we’re in the book of Colossians, chapter 4, starting in verse 7.
At the end of his writing to the Colossians Church, Paul does something that is not uncommon. Something that isn’t unique in his writings, or the proper writing style of the time period. But still holds something that we can learn from. 

So let’s read Colossians chapter 4, starting in verse 7.

7 Tychicus will tell you all the news about me. He is a dear brother, a faithful minister and fellow servant in the Lord. 8 I am sending him to you for the express purpose that you may know about our circumstances and that he may encourage your hearts. 9 He is coming with Onesimus, our faithful and dear brother, who is one of you. They will tell you everything that is happening here.
10 My fellow prisoner Aristarchus sends you his greetings, as does Mark, the cousin of Barnabas. (You have received instructions about him; if he comes to you, welcome him.) 11 Jesus, who is called Justus, also sends greetings. These are the only Jews among my co-workers for the kingdom of God, and they have proved a comfort to me. 12 Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends greetings. He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured. 13 I vouch for him that he is working hard for you and for those at Laodicea and Hierapolis. 14 Our dear friend Luke, the doctor, and Demas send greetings. 15 Give my greetings to the brothers and sisters at Laodicea, and to Nympha and the church in her house.
16 After this letter has been read to you, see that it is also read in the church of the Laodiceans and that you in turn read the letter from Laodicea.
17 Tell Archippus: “See to it that you complete the ministry you have received in the Lord.”
18 I, Paul, write this greeting in my own hand. Remember my chains. Grace be with you.

We just read through a list of names, that have no meaning to us. Sure if you did a little research you’ll learn somethings about some of these people. Tychicus was a common messenger for Paul, who had accompanied him on many journeys. 
Onesimus was a runaway slave. Aristarchus, was another person like Tychicus. Mark is the writer of the Gospel of Mark. Luke is the writer of both the Gospel of Luke and of Acts. 
There are others that Paul points out, such as Nympha, who holds Church gatherings in her house, and Archippus who might be in need of a little encouragement.

There’s a lot of names there, most of which are kind of meaningless to us. I mean they're  no Paul, no Peter, no John, no Moses, nor Noah. There definitely no David, or Daniel, or Abraham. 
No, they are none of those. They’re just like Pat Renolf, and Nai Keng. People lost to the recesses of human history.

But the impact they have will be felt through eternity. In the book of Matthew, chapter 16, verse 18, Jesus says this, “And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.”

Now matter how you interpret that statement, whether it be on Peter himself, or the answer that Peter gives to Jesus, here is the truth: Jesus builds his Church on the proclamation that Jesus is the only way to God. In the passage, Peter was asked by Jesus who do people say that he is. Peter replied Elijah, or a prophet. Then Jesus asked who do you say I am. Peter replied the Christ, the Messiah.
This truth that Peter states, is what Jesus builds his Church upon. And he uses people like Pat Renolf, Nai Keng, Tychicus, Onseimus, Nympha, Mark, Luke and you, to proclaim it. 

These people didn’t merely just say a prayer accepting Jesus as their Savior. These people lived in the fullness that God had brought them into. These people cultivated an intimate relationship with Jesus, putting to death those things that would hold them back, and seeing those things come alive that would push them deeper into God. They served people, meeting the needs as God showed them. They became salt in their life, building up, enhancing lives, and bonding themselves to people.

And we can be there too. We might not be a Paul, a Billy Graham, a Noah, a David, but we can be a Nai Keng. We can be a Pat Renolf, we can be a Tychicus. All we need to do is put into practice what Paul has written about in the book of Colossians. 

But how do we do that? We can’t all be Missionaries like Pat Renolf, so how do we stand with these type of people?
Let’s look at three things that we see from this list.

First you have people like Tychicus, Onseimus, and Archippus. These guys were messengers. They took what Paul talked about and went out to others. They delivered letters, encouraged the churches they visited, and talked to people about Jesus. We can do that. Maybe we find someone during the week, and share with them what we learned on a Sunday. Maybe, ask them what they think, starting up a conversation with them. If you listen to the Christian radio station 90.3 Alive FM out of Lake Havasu City, AZ, there is a show personality in the afternoon called Wally. He has a segment called Monday School, where he talks about what he learned that Sunday at his church. What if we had Monday school conversations with people?

Second, you have people like Mark and Luke. These guys are writers. They pen the words of the Scriptures. God used their writing ability to communicate his word to the world. Are you a writer? Can you pen words. Maybe you’re not able to start, or hold a conversation, but you can put in down on paper. Did you know that there are these things called blogs online. They’re free to write on. You can write all you want, and maybe God will use it to reach people. I have a blog, the one you’re reading, that is connected to the church’s website. And I write a thought of the day for the church’s Facebook page. It’s one way I can reach out to people with what God is teaching me.

Finally, we have someone like Nympha. She opened her house up so that the people of God had a place to meet. You know, one of the things I would love to see happen in our church, is for homes that are able, to open up so that small groups could meet in them. I would love to train leaders to lead small group discussions that reach their neighbors and friends. I would love to see the Alliance Church meet as different small groups in different homes during the week. And then for us to join together here on Sunday to worship God as a community of believers.

As we end this time in the word, here is the challenge I want to challenge you to ask God if you could do one of the three things that we talked about today. Can you be a Monday school conversationalist, a writer for the king, or a host for a small group? Think about it, pray about it during the music time, and make it a point to begin today.

So what did you think about going through the book of Colossians? I enjoyed it and hope to go through another book soon. May God bless you richly as you seek to be the person that he has called you to be. Amen.