First Sunday after Epiphany                    13 January 2019 A.D.

First Sunday after Epiphany                    13 January 2019 A.D.

Psalm 97         First lesson. Proverbs. 8:22-35     Second lesson. Colossians. 1:9-29

                               O Lord, we beseech thee mercifully to receive the
                               prayers of thy people who call upon thee; and grant
                               that they may both perceive and know what things they
                               ought to do, and also may have grace and power faithfully
                               to fulfill the same; through Jesus Christ our Lord.     Amen.

  Do you sometimes feel as if the Lord has abandoned you ?  Do you sometimes think that living a Christ-like life doesn’t seem to work ?  What is going on when these thoughts invade your mind?   If you think about it, the Prince of the power of the air, Satan, has the ability to cloud or redirect our minds from the heavenly direction we should strive for. 
We can be so distracted by the everyday whirling of this world, the constant din of busyness and activity, that we totally lose sight of the Light that was revealed to us by the Gospel.
 How can we remedy this ever present issue in our lives ?
  Let us focus on St. Paul’s letter to the Colossians, where we read of encouragement, prayers of strength, and thanksgiving for salvation; all the tenets of the Christian faith.  
   This seems to be following a pattern, Paul is showing that believers do have problems with their faith and yet should not give up, instead, they should seek the Lord; ‘being filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding’. 

21 And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled
22 In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight:
23 If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister;

   It wasn’t that Paul was writing in circles, he was pointing to the variable in everyday Christian life.   One day you seem to be following the Lord, the next day you question or doubt the very foundations of your faith.  This is not really that hard to understand.  Here is a fact: if you were Satan’s, if you were without faith, if you had no hope in the Resurrection, then you would not doubt, you would not wonder if you were saved.   Does that make sense ?   ‘A house divided against itself cannot stand’.   If you are in Satan’s camp, why in the world would he get you to doubt your salvation. He’d leave well enough alone, he doesn’t want you wondering about the afterlife.  He wants you to think all is well, there is no need for salvation, after all you aren’t that bad...right ? He does this to keep the lost blinded to the fact that dying without Christ is eternal damnation. 
    Notice what Paul writes, ‘...sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works....yet now hath he reconciled’.    We can be turned about by our own thoughts, we can be led away from Christ by wicked enemies in your mind, or wicked works in your mind, but in the work of Christ death, he reconciles us, he presents us holy, unblameable and unreproveable in his sight. 
  Now look at the first twelve verses in our Epistle selection:   
a. if you have any doubts about being aided by prayers and supplications, here is proof.
Daily, around the world, there are ‘prayer warriors’ who are lifting you up to the Lord, they pray for your daily ‘spiritual’ up keep, they pray for your physical upkeep, they pray for you because you are in the family of God.
This model, as presented by St. Paul, is something that has been replicated over the eons since the early church.
b. in these dozen verses is the whole Gospel presented in a most concise manner, one that is easy to understand and to share.  
9 For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;
10 That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God;
11 Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness;
12 Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light:
13 Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:
14 In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:
15 Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:
16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:
17 And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.
18 And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.
19 For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell;
20 And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.

 So to conclude this lesson we can take comfort in the comfort in the following couple of verses from the letter to the church at Colossi:
27 To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:
28 Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus:
29 Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily.

       So instead of wasting time worrying about things that are surmountable by faith in Christ, let us look at the job we are to do.  We are to show the world, by our example, by the hope of glory, by the very fiber of our being, that there is a reason for the hope that we have.   As St. Peter wrote in 1Peter 3:15, “...But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear...”
    No matter who we are in Christ, we are constantly showing the Gospel in our lives.  We don’t have to be ordained ministers, church leaders or workers per se, we just have to live our lives in such a manner that they become the Gospel.

    Let us go and do likewise.

Let us pray:

HEAVENLY Father, we beseech Thee to help us in the personal influence, both conscious and. unconscious, which we exert from day to day, May we be a hindrance to no one either by word or example, but by the purity, gentleness and unselfishness of our lives. may' we lead many to serve their fellow-men and glorify Thee; through Jesus Christ our Lord. AMEN. 
O LORD Jesus Christ, who has said, "My Father worketh hitherto, and I work"; Grant us, we beseech Thee, such zeal in Thy service, that we may never be weary in well doing, but may labor steadfastly unto the end; through Thy mercy, O our God, who art blessed, and livest and reignest for ever and ever. AMEN.