Thinking of the new year

I happened to read Colossians 4 recently. I came across a passage that read, “Our dear friend Luke, the doctor, and Demas send greetings.” It brought to mind a one of the few messages I remember from my student days in the ministry at Penn State over 30 years ago.

The message was about Demas. He is only mentioned three times in the New Testament. All from Paul’s letters.

This is the probable chronology:

  • Philemon 24. Demas was identified in a list of names that Paul calls “fellow workers”.
  • Colossians 4:14. This may have been written about the same time Philemon was. Paul simply mentions him with no other acknowledgement. Is there an underlying thought behind the lack of acknowledgement?
  • 2 Tim 4:10. Written 4-6 years later. Paul asks for help “for Demas because he loved this world, has deserted me and has gone…”

How sad, to be named a fellow worker and included with those important to the cause and then later to be a deserter. Were there hints? Could this have been foreseen?

As I was reviewing this, my mind wandered to a very familiar passage: John 6.
66.  From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.
67.  “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve.
68.  Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.
69.  We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.”
70.  Then Jesus replied, “Have I not chosen you, the Twelve? Yet one of you is a devil!” (He meant Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, who, though one of the Twelve, was later to betray him.”
Judas Iscariot was named among the Twelve. Even after all but the Twelve deserted Christ for his “hard teaching”, he was still there. Apparently, that trial had not been enough to reveal his true character.

I wondered: What is my character?  Have my trials revealed who I really am?  What would cause me to desert?

Yes. I know I need to focus on walking with the Lord today, be filled with the Holy Spirit day by day, obey him in what he tells me to do today and not worry about tomorrow.

This is the thirteenth year of sending coaching tips. I will be sharing ideas that others are using to launch movements, utilize volunteers, employ a variety of coaching approaches and coach multiple movements.

But I wanted to take this first tip to say that you will be hitting the ground running in a few days, if you haven’t already. Let’s take care to, as Paul says, “Buffet my body to make it a slave so that lest I successfully minister to others, I myself be disqualified.” Ministry activity is not necessarily an indication of spiritual vitality.

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