Look Back | Look Down
Begin your time by reviewing the Scriptures and the important points of the sermon taught in The Row.
Welcome to the final week of our winter series, Making Your Mark, exploring the lives of a handful of helpful people mentioned at the end of Paul’s letter to the Jesus community in Colossae. This week, East Paris Campus Pastor Bob King walks us through Epaphras’ story. Paul describes Epaphras as a “fellow servant.” When we think Epaphras, we should think “serving.”
Epaphras is a co-worker of Paul. He started the Jesus community in Colossae and visits Paul in prison to give an update on the church. Through the life of Epaphras, we learn about the gospel as well as three aspects of serving: prayer, words and work.
Spend five minutes reading Colossians 1.7-8 and 4.12-13 aloud. Discuss what you notice in these verses. More in- depth questions will follow.
Look In | Look Around
In The Circle, consider together what God is asking you to do and encourage each other.
Epaphras intentionally prays for the Jesus community at Colossea. It isn’t just a one-line prayer or something he does once in a while. Paul writes that Epaphras “wrestles” in prayer for them. Do you find it hard to commit to intentional times of prayer for others? If so, what are some of the challenges? If not, what drives or compels you to prayer?
We learn Epaphras’ prayer concerns the challenge of the warped gospel confronting the church. Yet, we see he prays for internal growth to withstand the challenge. He doesn’t just pray the challenge would go away. What is the difference between praying for internal change instead of just asking for the situation to change?
What are some common challenges we often ask God to remove instead of asking us to grow through?
Paul is in a tough spot. He is sitting in prison. When Paul was in a position that could lead to discouragement, Epaphras shows up to encourage him. Paul even uses the word “delight” as a result of Epaphras’ encouragement. Have someone share how a timely word of encouragement made a difference in a difficult season.
Encouragement comes naturally for some people. It is difficult for others. Where do you fall on the spectrum? What are some ways we can become better at encouraging others?
Paul says Epaphras is “working hard” for three churches. This hard work includes walking 13 miles (around a 4 hour walk). He did it because he had a passion for the spiritual growth of the people. Walking 13 miles definitely cost Epaphras something. Discuss the relationship between serving and paying a cost.
Epaphras was “walking for” the people of the churches. He cared about them and wanted to see them follow the Christ. Pastor Bob King challenged us to identify someone we are “walking for.” Share with the group who you are “walking for” and why.
Epaphras’ prayers, words and work were all for the spreading of the good news of Jesus. We find in Epaphras’ report to Paul that people were trying to convince the Jesus community in Colossae that Jesus loves them because of what they do. This is a warped view of the gospel. How have you experienced times or seasons where you felt like Jesus loved you because of what you do?
The good news Epaphras delivers is that the church has been able to resist the warped view. Instead, they are holding to what Epaphras had taught them—that Jesus loves them because of who Jesus is and what he has done. If Jesus’ love for us is not conditioned on our actions, how is this different than some people’s perceptions of Christianity? What are some ways you successfully remind yourself that we don’t earn Jesus’ love and he gives it to us freely?
This week concludes our “Making Your Mark” series. From Tychicus, we learn we need to bring our best self to our availability. John Mark teaches us the importance of reconciling relationships. Nympha demonstrates how to live with open hands by using our talent and treasure for others. Luke exemplifies a friend who sticks around and helps in many ways. Onesimus models a life given a new purpose and reoriented to be in line with Jesus’ priorities. Epaphras helps us understand the motivation and role of service. Where have you been challenged the most in this series and why?
Look Forward | Look Out
This coming week, spend time in The Chair with God and go engage the broken world around you.
In the Chair this week…
- Write an encouraging note to a family member or friend.
- Ephaphras’s story helps us understand service. Identify steps you can take to “walk for” someone.
- Thank God for loving you because of who Jesus is, what he did and not because of anything you can do.