Daniel Fast Day 20

Partners that Make a Difference

We have been given the responsibility to live out our faith on a personal level. We must each have our own personal relationship with Jesus Christ. God does not have grandchildren or great grandchildren. Each person must come to the cross, see their spiritual poverty, humble themselves, ask for forgiveness, and allow the Holy Spirit to do the work of regeneration. Our redemption is purchased by Christ’s blood and sealed by the Holy Spirit. Our new birth into this living hope is empowered through His resurrection from the dead. It is personal but it becomes much, much more. Because we are not left to fend for ourselves, we are placed in Christ’s body, which is the church. God saves us one by one but He uses us together as one body. He saves us individually, but He uses us corporately. Our level of fruitfulness can be directly seen in our level of connectivity to the rest of the body of Christ. None of us have a “Lone Ranger” calling, we are called together. 

Our strength is in working together, just like a healthy physical body functions. We all have a part, we all have a role, we all are needed, we all are valuable and we all must contribute. The health of a body is determined by the health of every cell and the function of every organ. We do not see different body parts floating around and then only come together when it is convenient. Nothing can thrive outside of the body; it dies. That is true not just for our physical bodies, but also for the church. Paul writes to the church in Ephesus and says: Ephesians 4:3-7(EASY) “Do your best to let God's Spirit keep you united. You belong together so live in peace with each other.  As God's people, you are like one body. There is one Spirit that gives you life. God has chosen you to be his own people. So you all expect to receive the same great things from God.  There is one Lord. There is one true message that we must believe. There is one baptism.  There is one God, who is the Father of all of us. He has authority over all of us. He works through all of us. He is in all of us. But God has been kind to all of us. Each of us has received a special gift, just as Christ has decided to give us.”

We must do our best to stay in tune with the Holy Spirit so that we can stay in step with one another. We work together, we fight together, we pray together, we believe together, we serve together, we suffer together and we will be rewarded together. We are partners in this grand adventure of building God’s kingdom and displaying His grace. We are dressed like Him to show Him to a world that desperately needs Him. We carry His fragrance everywhere we go and we show what He is like with everyone we meet. We are being woven into this beautiful tapestry of God’s grace, a holy people, a chosen generation called to make known the wonders of this mystery: Christ in us, the hope of glory.

Stop thinking your role is too small or your part is not important. Allow the Holy Spirit to permanently demolish that kind of thinking. No small act of service or unseen labor is irrelevant or unimportant. I love how Paul continues in writing to the Colossians because He gives us a glimpse of what a healthy functioning body looks like. He lists a group of people who are fruitful and faithful to do what is asked of them to do, and we see they do even more. Colossians 4:7-11(NLT) “Tychicus will give you a full report about how I am getting along. He is a beloved brother and faithful helper who serves with me in the Lord’s work. I have sent him to you for this very purpose—to let you know how we are doing and to encourage you. I am also sending Onesimus, a faithful and beloved brother, one of your own people. He and Tychicus will tell you everything that’s happening here.  Aristarchus, who is in prison with me, sends you his greetings, and so does Mark, Barnabas’s cousin. As you were instructed before, make Mark welcome if he comes your way.  Jesus (the one we call Justus) also sends his greetings. These are the only Jewish believers among my co-workers; they are working with me here for the Kingdom of God. And what a comfort they have been!”

We know Paul and we are grateful for what God did through him, but he had partners. He had behind the scenes, little known people working with him and serving faithfully. They came from different places and different races. Some were Jewish believers, others were Gentile believers. Some were wealthy, others were poor. Some were slaves, others were free. Yet they all had this in common, serving together to propagate the Good News of Christ. Tychicus was from Asia Minor. He traveled with Paul and he was a faithful minister. Paul entrusted the letter to the Colossians and the letter to Philemon, to him and Onesimus. Both of these men were with Paul during his first imprisonment in Rome and he relied on them.

Paul wrote the letters, but someone had to deliver them. Tychicus was with Paul, but he was trusted to be sent by Paul. He sent him to Ephesus (2 Tim. 4:12) to allow Timothy to come and visit Paul in prison. He sends him to Crete (Tit. 3:12) to allow Titus to go and visit Paul. He was trusted with resources as he accompanied Paul with the offering the Macedonian church gave to the church in Jerusalem. (Rom.15:25-26) What a faithful man, that can be trusted with responsibility. Can you be trusted with responsibilities? Onesimus was a man with a bad background, a runaway slave that ran away from Philemon after stealing from him and straight into the arms of Paul, in prison. Talk about a chain reaction! Onesimus’ name means helpful and he became exactly that. Once Onesimus received Christ, his life became useful and fruitful (Philemon 1:11). Your background doesn’t matter. What matters is your future in Christ!

This beautiful tapestry of grace that the Holy Spirit is weaving through the writings of Paul just gets better and better. Aristarchus is mentioned with Paul during the riot in Ephesus (Acts 19:29) and was dragged around by the rioters. He was with Paul on his way to Rome (Acts 27:2) and was with Paul in prison. Would you continue serving if you knew that suffering would be the result? If you get dragged around and caught up in a riot due to someone else’s preaching, would you continue to serve them faithfully? Paul writes and says this about Aristarchus, Mark, and Jesus Justus: “These are the only Jewish believers among my co-workers; they are working with me here for the Kingdom of God. And what a comfort they have been!”

Working together for the kingdom of God and being a comfort to the great apostle Paul. Does your service bring comfort or agony to the people you are called to serve? These men were willing to suffer together for a purpose. These are the caliber of people that make a difference. Not only do they do what is asked, they do more than is required and they are willing to pay whatever price necessary. They run the high road of the second mile because they are not in it for themselves. They are partners in service, but also partners in prayer.  Colossians 4:12-15(NLT) “Epaphras, a member of your own fellowship and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends you his greetings. He always prays earnestly for you, asking God to make you strong and perfect, fully confident that you are following the whole will of God.  I can assure you that he prays hard for you and also for the believers in Laodicea and Hierapolis.  Luke, the beloved doctor, sends his greetings, and so does Demas.  Please give my greetings to our brothers and sisters at Laodicea, and to Nympha and the church that meets in her house.”

Epaphras, who highly likely started the church in Colossae, is fully vested in the spiritual growth and well-being of the church, and for the believers in the surrounding areas. He cares deeply and he prays earnestly. He is willing to petition the throne of God so that they may fully follow God’s will. These fruitful men and women had one desire and that was to build the kingdom of God regardless of the cost. They were willing to be prayer partners, travel partners, suffering partners, serving partners, and resource partners, like Nympha. Nympha opened up her home so the church could have a place to meet. 

Ordinary people completely surrendered to an extraordinary purpose. There is one name, however, that needs special mentioning, Demas. This is not a “saved the best for last” name. It is actually a warning to us all. We know that Demas was with Paul during his first imprisonment in Rome. (Philemon 1:24) Demas started well, but did not finish well. 2 Timothy 4:10a(NLT) “Demas has deserted me because he loves the things of this life and has gone to Thessalonica.”  The way that Paul communicates is that Demas did not simply leave Paul, he dropped him like a hot potato. Paul was facing a death sentence and Demas decided to leave. But the implication is that his love for the things of this life was greater than his love to fulfill his God ordained purpose. Let’s heed this warning and make sure that we frequently evaluate where our affection lies.

The body of Christ is filled with this kind of hall of faith people. The unknowns to man but known to God. The ones that are willing to give up all that they are for all that He wants them to be (Tychicus). The ones who serve faithfully, no matter the cost (Aristarchus). The ones who came from a bad background, but refuse to be defined by it (Onesimus). The ones who are willing to admit their mistakes and get back to doing what God is asking of them (Mark, cousin of Barnabas). The ones who do not care to have notoriety or fame, the quiet servant (Jesus Justus). The ones who are willing to fight on their knees for the benefit of other saints, the prayer warriors amongst us (Epaphrus). The ones who regardless of their status in this life, know all that matters is Christ (Luke the Physician). The ones who give generously and are willing to use whatever they have been given for the building of His kingdom (Nympha).

Here’s to all those saints whose names not many know, whose acts not many see, but whose service blesses us all. Thank you for serving others the way Jesus showed us to serve. We are better together than we are apart. We are stronger together than we are on our own. We are healthier when we love, serve, and give together. When we are one, we become the answer to the prayer of Jesus. In the words of my mother-in-love, “Let’s stay in faith, stay in love and stay together!”

Prayer and Reflection:
  • How can you grow and develop a greater servant’s heart?
  • To become fruitful requires faithfulness in the small, not just the big. Where in your life are you neglecting the small things that hinder your fruitfulness? What will you do about it?
  • Can you be trusted with responsibility? Can others rely on you to do what needs to be done, or are you better at making excuses? Do you bring comfort or pain to those you serve?
  • Serving when it’s convenient can be done in our own strength, but serving when it is sacrificial can only be done by the power of the Holy Spirit. Are you relying on your strength or the Holy Spirit’s strength to serve?  How can you tell the difference?
  • Even though you failed before in your faithfulness you can always begin again. Will you renew your commitment to be a servant? How committed are you to stay in community and fellowship with other believers? 
  • What affection must you check before it brings destruction in your life, like Demas? Do you love Jesus more than the things of this life? Does your life reflect that? Be honest. 

Father, thank You, that You are always faithful. Thank You that I can trust in Your goodness, Your mercy, and Your kindness. Thank You that Your Word says; the steps of righteous people are ordered of You. I ask that You will order my steps every day. I pray, help me to fulfill Your will completely and fully. I am so grateful that I can serve You. It is a privilege to serve in Your kingdom with my fellow believers. Help all of us to serve like Jesus. Thank You that You have called all of us for a specific purpose. We all have a function and we all have a place. Thank You that You placed us in Your body. Help us to submit one to another and to forget ourselves into greatness. Help us to get over ourselves and give ourselves for Your Glory.

Where we have failed, please forgive us. Where we have been selfish and self-absorbed,
give us a heart for others. Even if it means we have to suffer to fulfill Your will. Show us that greater is He that is in us, than he that is in this world. Let our eyes stay focused on You and not on the fleeting pleasures of this temporary life. Remind us daily that nothing we do for You is ever useless. Father, make us fully useful for Your kingdom. We confess that You are the only God, who is the Father of all of us. You have authority over all of us. You work through all of us and You are in all of us. Here we are Lord, available for Your purposes. In Jesus Name, Amen!
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