Archive for the ‘Bible Study’ Category

Why

There is a common thread throughout all of my reasons.  That common thread is that I serve God because of who he is.  I serve God because he is amazing!  I serve God because he is unconditional.  I serve God because he is the perfect Father.  I serve God because he is personal.

The reality is that when we are asked “Why do you serve God?” or even “Why do you believe in God” people are too often looking for Janet Jackson faith, “What have you done for me lately”.  When we engage God on the basis of this type of faith it carries us far from the Hupomone faith of Scripture.  We are tossed on the waves of circumstance and appearance.  We become subject to the very thing that Paul warns about in Ephesians 4:14, As a result we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by the craftiness of scheming;

Joseph is a great example of a man whose faith relied not on the circumstances that he found himself in but in who God is.  Abraham followed the directions of God by faith in who God is.  Paul tells us that it was that faith that God recognized as righteousness.  This is a good thing because Abraham like so many of us slipped up on more than one occasion!  When Moses asked God who should I tell the Israelites you are, his answer was “‘I who I am; Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘I am has sent me to you'” Genesis3:14.  This is not to say that God does not remind us from time to time all that he has done from the creation of the world throughout the history of mankind (Psalm 106 for example). However when the rubber meets the road faith requires us to choose him, simply because he Is.  When we rely on circumstances and appearances our faith becomes mechanical.  We run the risk of falling into the trap of tradition that God condemns through Isaiah, “Then the Lord said, ‘Because this people draw near with their words, and honor Me with their lip service, but they remove their hearts far from Me, and their reverence for Me consists of tradition learned by rote,…'” Isaiah 29:13

God wants us to love and serve him because of who he is.  He is not a gumball machine that we put our Quarter of Faith into and out pops the thing that we desire.  We need to desire him.  This has been a long learned lesson for me.  We are so invested in things and circumstances.  But what happens when things and circumstances go bad.  It is only when we serve him because of who he is that we can stand with Job and say:

“Though He slay me, I will hope in Him…” Job 13:15

Job understood that circumstances did not define his relationship with God.  His relationship with God was defined by who God is!  I serve God because he is God and because he is God I know who I am.

For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.  Romans 8:15-17

 

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Why

The question was actually posed to me some time ago by a young German woman. I had befriended her and her husband in an online game that I was playing. She quickly became aware of my faith and one day as we chatted about life she abruptly posed this question.

Why do you serve God? What does he do for you?

My mind quickly went to all the theologically correct answers that I had learned over the years but quickly discarded them. First of all I don’t think her English was up to taking in a bunch of “Christianese” (and my German was certainly not up to conveying anything other than hello and thank you). Secondly my guess is that perhaps somewhere she had already heard the platitudes. She was looking for something more intimate, more personal. She really wanted to know , why did Sam Guidry (or Flamefanner as my gaming friends know me) choose to serve this god. I gave her an answer. I do not even recall what it was, however it set me to thinking and so I give you:

Five Reasons that I serve God: Personal

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.       Hebrews 4:15

We have reached reason number four.  Reason number one is that God consistently amazes me.  Number two is that he is unconditional.  I can count on him regardless of my circumstances.  Number three is that he lets me see myself as he sees me, not as the world would paint me or as circumstances color who I am.  The fifth reason is wrapped up in all of these.  He is not some distant being who manipulates the world around us and requires things of us.  He engages us, amazes us, impacts us and shows us how he sees us through the lens of Jesus Christ and all His wonderful promises.

How amazing it is to be personally engaged by an omniscient God.  He always knows just what I need even when I don’t.  I was recently looking at the Caring Bridge journal that I kept as we walked the journey of Allana’s Leukemia.  It was toward the end of her first course of chemotherapy.  Allana was at her weakest (until the bone marrow transplant treatments).   We had been battered by the brutal side effects of the chemo.  Allana had just lost her hair.  It was at this dark hour that an omniscient God engaged us in a most personal way through a young nurse.  This is not to make light of the incredible support and care that he provided through His people and directly through the ministry of the Holy Spirit but at this time, at this moment we needed something special.  I am guessing that that something special came through a young lady who may never know the place she holds in our hearts. I will let the Caringbridge post speak for itself.

The other was through a nurse, a young lady in the healing profession who stood over and for Allana tonight and prayed her heart out. The presence of God filled the room as she proclaimed healing and peace and blessing over Allana and myself. The uncontrollable tears that are for me a sign of a special stirring of the Holy Spirit (Lord anytime you can come up with a different sign for me I will really be ok with that!) came and I think all three of us just bathed in that presence. God truly directs the steps of His People and he directed her to be at the right place, at the right time and then used her to bless our socks off.

Today was a day of weariness, loss and some pain but more importantly today was a day that God reminded us….again…. that Leukemia has won nothing. The Victory is won and Jesus is His name.  Caringbridge, Allana Guidry January 25, 2013.

And yes, my eyes are full of tears again.  How can they not be when I have such a great God and Father who loves and cares for me in such a personal way?  While the circumstances may enhance the intensity of God’s personal intervention here, it is only one among a multitude of instances.  As Allana and I have moved along in our faith walk He has repeatedly engaged us in a deeply personal way that helped us to grow and mature in our faith (the great unconditional impacting the conditional).  Whether it was speaking the phrase “fan into flame” so deeply into our hearts or inspiring Allana to proclaim the “True Beauty in Christ” that is our true identity.  He has moved us to be in just the right places for the growth that we needed throughout our time together.  Separately he turned our hearts to Him at a time when we were both dealing with the repercussions of our own poor decisions before bringing us together, companions on the walk of faith.

Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written, “FOR YOUR SAKE WE ARE BEING PUT TO DEATH ALL DAY WE WERE CONSIDERED AS SHEEP TO BE SLAUGHTERED.” But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Romans 8:35-39

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Why

The question was actually posed to me some time ago by a young German woman. I had befriended her and her husband in an online game that I was playing. She quickly became aware of my faith and one day as we chatted about life she abruptly posed this question.

Why do you serve God? What does he do for you?

My mind quickly went to all the theologically correct answers that I had learned over the years but quickly discarded them. First of all I don’t think her English was up to taking in a bunch of “Christianese” (and my German was certainly not up to conveying anything other than hello and thank you). Secondly my guess is that perhaps somewhere she had already heard the platitudes. She was looking for something more intimate, more personal. She really wanted to know , why did Sam Guidry (or Flamefanner as my gaming friends know me) choose to serve this god. I gave her an answer. I do not even recall what it was, however it set me to thinking and so I give you:

Five Reasons that I serve God

Britt Nicole’s song Through Your Eyes summarizes this weeks reason.

‘Cause you stood right there
And then you broke apart the lies
You told me I had something beautiful inside
You brought to life the part of me I thought had died
‘Cause you stood right there until I saw me
I saw me through your eyes (saw me)
I saw me through your eyes (saw me)
I saw me through your eyes

God sees me through the divine lens of His Word not based on the shifting sands of my human condition.  Then he provides Scripture, His Written Word, and the Holy Spirit to open my eyes to the Truth that He sees.  In a world where our identity too often rests on the circumstances of our lives what a blessing it is to have an anchor of truth about who I am.  The cool thing is that this anchor isn’t the kind of anchor that holds me in one place battered by the waves and storms of life.  It is a “Sea Anchor” (sea an·chor- sē ˈaNGkər/noun/ an object dragged in the water from the bow of a boat in order to keep the bow pointing into the waves or to lessen leeway.)  No matter how bad the storm gets I can hold on to the promises of Scripture and the power of the Holy Spirit to continue to move forward, becoming more and more like Christ, maturing in my faith.  When the storms of life get rough we are so tempted to cut the line freeing ourselves from our anchor because the lie is “This anchor is driving you deeper into the storm where you will be destroyed.”  It seems that running before the storm letting it guide us with the wind and waves to our back is the better course of action.  Indeed it is the path of least resistance but that is not the path that we are called to.  No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. Romans 8:37.  Conquerors rise out of conflict.  They come through the storm not get driven before it.  No matter how bad it gets the anchor is always there and even if you do cut the line, even that is a lie.  We only have to reach out our hand in faith and it turns us back into the wind and back into His plan.

I am the well loved child of God

“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” 1 John 3:1

I am an heir with all those rights and privileges

“Now if we are children, then we are heirs — heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.”   Romans 8:17

I am forgiven

“All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.” Acts 10:43

I am saved

“For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Thessalonians 5:9

My life is not an accident or a series of accidents

“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'” Jeremiah 29:11

When we become solid in our identity as God sees us then we can walk the journey of Spiritual Maturity with Paul the Apostle.

Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.  Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, have this attitude; and if in anything you have a different attitude, God will reveal that also to you;  however, let us keep living by that same standard to which we have attained. Philippians 3:12-16

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Why

The question was actually posed to me some time ago by a young German woman. I had befriended her and her husband in an online game that I was playing. She quickly became aware of my faith and one day as we chatted about life she abruptly posed this question.

Why do you serve God? What does he do for you?

My mind quickly went to all the theologically correct answers that I had learned over the years but quickly discarded them. First of all I don’t think her English was up to taking in a bunch of “Christianese” (and my German was certainly not up to conveying anything other than hello and thank you). Secondly my guess is that perhaps somewhere she had already heard the platitudes. She was looking for something more intimate, more personal. She really wanted to know , why did Sam Guidry (or Flamefanner as my gaming friends know me) choose to serve this god. I gave her an answer. I do not even recall what it was, however it set me to thinking and so I give you:

Five Reasons that I serve God

Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. Hebrews 13:8

Reason #2: God has engaged me without condition

In a world that is conditional, God is unconditional.  We often talk of God’s unconditional love but I think that sometimes we envision a schizophrenic god who has many aspects and that he changes from aspect to aspect based on what we do. I serve God because he exists unconditionally. What I mean by that is that there is absolutely nothing anyone can do to change the way that God is or the way that God interacts with creation. This means that no matter how screwed up I got or acted, no matter how fast I ran from Him, He still is God. I cannot manipulate a single change in His being through prayer, through sin or any other behavior or attitude that I can conceive of. Uh oh, does that mean it is useless for me to pray or that it doesn’t matter what I do? With Paul I say “May it never be!” (Romans 6:2) Paul continues on to say, “How shall we who die to sin live in it”. Of course this is Paul’s answer to the questions, “Should we sin more that grace may increase?”, however the real question being asked is can we manipulate God by our behavior? How does Paul answer it? It is not about God, it is about us!

Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow. James 1:17

If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask.  Matthew 7:11

God provides for His children not because we ask, he does so because it is in His unconditional nature to do so.  The barrier to receiving good gifts is not that we need to manipulate God into giving them, it is that we need to position ourselves to receive them.  When we allow the Great Unconditional to impact the conditional  we move into a relationship that opens us up to what God has for us.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness,faithfulness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:23

For this reason we can say with Jeremiah and Thomas Chisholm, “The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.”  (Lamentations 3:22-23, Great is thy Faithfulness. 1923)  No matter what circumstances I encounter, no matter what I do  God is my rock that I can count on to remain my heavenly Father.  It is with this great comfort that I can turn from trying to manipulate Him to maturing myself in the Faith.

For this reason also, since the day we heard it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously giving thanks to the Father… Colossians 1:9-12

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Why

I started this series some time ago but never finished it.  So I am going to present both a question and a series of answers over the next few weeks.  

The question was actually posed to me some time ago by a young German woman.  I had befriended her and her husband in an online game that I was playing.  She quickly became aware of my faith and one day as we chatted about life she abruptly posed this question.

 Why do you serve God?  What does he do for you?

My mind quickly went to all  the theologically correct answers that I had learned over the years but quickly discarded them.  First of all I don’t think her English was up to taking in a bunch of “Christianese” (and my German was certainly not up to conveying anything other than hello and thank you).  Secondly my guess is that perhaps somewhere she had already heard the platitudes.  She was looking for something more intimate, more personal.  She really wanted to know , why did Sam Guidry (or Flamefanner as my gaming friends know me) choose to serve this god.  I gave her an answer.  I do not even recall what it was, however it set me to thinking and so I give you:

Five Reasons that I serve God

Great is the Lord, and highly to be praised, And His greatness is unsearchable.  One generation shall praise your works to another and shall declare your mighty acts.  On the glorious splendor of your majesty, And on your wonderful works I will meditate.  Men shall speak of the power of your awesome  acts and i will tell of your greatness.

Psalm 145:3-6

Reason 1:  God Never Ceases to Amaze Me

David served God as perhaps no other.  Yes he got to be king but he certainly did not serve God because his life was smooth and easy.  As we read his words here our first reason rings loud and clear.  David never ceased to be amazed by God.  He knew the Scriptures,

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”  Genesis 1:1- Pretty amazing

“So the Lord shifted the wind to a very strong west wind and drove them(the locusts) into the Red Sea”  Exodus 10:19

“…and the Lord swept the sea back by a strong East wind all night and turned the sea into dry land” Exodus 14:21

All amazing stuff but this Psalm is not the words of a man who experienced God only from the pages of Scripture, David had an intensely personal relationship with God.  God never ceased to amaze him.  In the same way Scripture speaks to us of His incredible acts throughout history.  Gideon defeats the Midianite nation with 300 men.  David slays Goliath, “You come to me with a sword, a spear and a javelin but I come to you in the name of the Lord of Hosts, the God of the armies of Israel.” 1 Samuel 17:4  From little things like floating axe blades (2 Kings 6), to Jonah and the Whale, to the Virgin Birth of Jesus Christ our Lord, his death and resurrection.  Scripture amazes us with the deeds of a God who takes an active interest in His people.

God takes a young hot headed prince of Egypt and makes him the Spiritual leader of His people.  The shepherd boy is anointed to become king.  The arrogant, self indulgent businessman becomes an urban missionary….oh yeah, that’s me. (and not of course found in Scripture)  I could spend yours reciting the amazing things that we find in Scripture about our God.  I could spend hours telling you all of the amazing things that God has done in my life (some of which can be found recorded on the pages of this blog).  Some are big things but many are just day to day blessings that rise out of the nature of a personal relationship with God.

I know that if you take the time to get to know my Lord and Savior that you will be amazed too!

Joshua told the people, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do amazing things among you.”  

Joshua 3:5

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FIFM

For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. 2 Timothy 1:6

God spoke this verse to Allana and I back in 2003.  We had only been together a couple of years.  These were difficult years.  Allana had to adjust to being married, having two sons and caring for our little Sami.  Chayla was born in April and to top it off I was working crazy hours.  In the midst of all of that God was doing incredible things in our lives.  Fan Into Flame Ministries was born out of that crucible.  The idea would grow and be tempered over the years by moments of spirit led engagement and by intense personal suffering.  For Allana these days bore the fruit of True Beauty.  For me the focus became Hupomone (because I am a geek and Greek is cool) or Patience, Endurance, Perseverance.  Yet still, it continued to be at the core, the call to Fan Into Flame that gift, in ourselves and in others.

Let’s back track a little.

1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, according to the promise of life in Christ Jesus, 2 To Timothy, my beloved son: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. 3 I thank God, whom I serve with a clear conscience the way my forefathers did, as I constantly remember * you in my prayers night and day, 4 longing to see you, even as I recall your tears, so that I may be filled with joy. 5 For I am mindful of the sincere faith within you, which first dwelt in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am sure that it is in you as well.

Paul takes Timothy down memory lane for a minute.  He reminds him that he is Paul’s son in the faith.  Why does Paul do this?  He wants Timothy to remember a very special moment in his life, the moment that he received Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.  The moment that God’s Gift was so graciously bestowed on a young man.  I have to wonder if Timothy didn’t tear up a little, thinking of his father in the faith facing death in Rome.  Perhaps he felt a little shame that the difficulties of ministry in Ephesus had worn him down.  Yet Paul tears all that away.  Striking to the core of Hupomone, without using the word, “Fan into flame the gift of God…”  There is nothing else that we can do to endure as children of God.

I have actually heard this verse taught as a call to utilize those very special and individual gifts that God has bestowed on each one of us.  However the context of the verses that follow this verse (not that He doesn’t desire each of us to serve him with all our gifts) make it clear that Paul is talking about one gift.  I will designate it the Gift.  The cool thing is that this Gift is the same for us all and yet manifests itself very differently in each of us.

7 For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.

There it is, the Gift.  It is nothing less than God Himself given to each of us that believe and confess.  It is this Gift that makes us bold endowing us with power, love and self-discipline.  It is a special power available only through Jesus Christ.  It is power not as the world gives, or recognizes power.  It is the power to testify of Jesus and to stand with our brothers and sisters in Christ.  It is power that is inextricably joined to love.  Indeed 1 Corinthians 13 tells us that power without love is vain and useless.

8 So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner. Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God.

This Gift is one that empowers without limit, motivates in love and operates with self-discipline even as Christ Himself cried out in Gethsemane, “39 And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.” Matthew 26:39  In a moment that the whole world around Him saw as the greatest weakness, Jesus exploded the chains of sin and death with the greatest demonstration of power, motivated by love and operating in Self-discipline as only God himself could.

9 He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, 10 but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.

HE HAS SAVED US!  And called us by grace, a grace that is eternal.  But he did not just call us to a holy life and leave us to our own pitiful attempts.  He provided the Gift.  It is the Gift of revealed Grace.  It is the Gift of revealed Life Eternal.  It is the Gift of the Truth, the Gift of the Good News and Great Joy which shall be to all People.  It is the Gift that endows us with the same power that confounded the law and threw the world into confusion.  How foolish would we be not to fan THAT GIFT into flame in our lives.

 

 

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solomons-temple

 

When we think of the Old Testament temple most of us think of Solomon in all his glory.  The son of King David, usually recognized as the greatest King of the Jewish people.  He was rich beyond measure, recognized for his wisdom and had incredible international influence.  He reigned over an unprecedented era of peace for Israel.

Solomon was called upon by God to build the temple to house the Ark of the Covenant and God’s revealed presence in Israel.  He was able to call upon the best of the best materials and artisans in the known world.  Gifts poured in from all over to help complete this monumental task.  1 Kings 5-7 provides us with the glorious details of this building like no other in history.  The author of 1 Kings provides us with wonderful detail about the construction, decor and furnishings that defined this wonderful project.  All the wealth and influence that God provided to Solomon was represented in Solomon’s obedience to this command of God.

There is another temple builder in the Old Testament.  He is less known.  One is unlikely to find anyone named after him.  In comparison to Solomon he did not have the wealth, the fame or the influence that Solomon was able to bring to bear on the building of the first Temple.  Zerubbabel was returning to Judah, less than half of the kingdom that Solomon ruled.  He was returning to a land that had been laid wasted by Nebuchadnezzar, suffering the consequences to rebellion both against God and against Babylon.  He returned to Jerusalem with a ragtag group exiles, born and raised in a foreign land.  He came from the line of David, but he was not really a king.  He ruled at the pleasure of Babylon and the land he governed was more of province than a kingdom.  He was surrounded by adversaries, not allies.  Zerubbabel did not command the immense respect given to Solomon.  Biblically he takes a backseat to Ezra and even to Cyrus King of Persia.  Even after the temple was completed, it was not all pats on the back and cheers.  There were jeers in the crowd also.  Those few old enough to remember the former glory of the Temple built by Solomon, decried this new temple as inadequate. Yet through all of this Zerubbabel ruled over an incredible revival in Judah.

Comparison is one the greater weapons that Satan uses to undermine the faith of the Hupomone man.  Here we have two men, both called to the same task, one from a position of wealth, strength and glory, the other from a place of defeat, servitude and subjection.  Zerubbabel could have well fallen into a rut of rebellious comparison.  “But God you gave Solomon everything to build your temple and I have nothing. I am not even really a king.”  We are so tempted to view the path that God has laid before us in comparison to others who seem to have it all.  Sometimes we even compare our current call to a place where we were before.  Paul well understood this risky place when he penned the words, “I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstances I have learned the secret of being filled and growing hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.  I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:12-13

This is the position of the Hupomone man.  He sees the nature of obedience resting not in the arms of ever changing circumstance but in the arms of an unchanging God.  We do not know a lot of details about Zerubbabel, but this son, of a son of exile did not shirk his duty to serve Yaweh.  He obeyed the call of God on his life and was true to his position as a son of David even when faced with opposition that compared his humble state to the glory days of Israel.  Though relegated to the closet of history, he stands as an example of the Hupomone man that we would do well to follow.

 

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