Posts Tagged ‘Jesus’

I always thank my God as I remember you in my prayers, because I hear about your love for all his holy people and your faith in the Lord Jesus. I pray that your partnership with us in the faith may be effective in deepening your understanding of every good thing we share for the sake of Christ. Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the Lord’s people. Philemon 1:4-7

Philemon,  I have to wonder if it is the least read of all the books of the New Testament.  It is unfortunate because it contains one of the most beautiful stories of redemption and reconciliation ever.  The story centers around three men, Paul the Apostle, Onesimus the slave and our subject today Philemon.  Philemon was a leader of the church that met in his home.  This was typical of the early church.  He was also a slave owner, specifically he owned a slave named Onesimus.

Strangely enough we are not going to focus on the theme of the letter, instead we are going to take a quick look at the man and the qualities that I find qualify him as a hupomone man.

People pray for him – Specifically in this case Paul.  However if the Apostle Paul remembered Philemon in his prayers I choose to assume that others were also. A true hupmone man inspires prayer by the example that he leads.

Paul’s words are very specific here.  “I always thank God AS I remember you…”  We might make the mistake of thinking that Paul here is referring to a prayer of thanksgiving for this wonderful man of God.  There would be nothing wrong with this but it is not what he is saying.  Paul is praying for Philemon as he continues his hupomone ministry in Colosse.

The placement of this phrase immediately following the greeting speaks of the importance that he knows Philemon places on this subject.  The hupomone man values prayer.  He values a life of constant communication with God (1 Thessalonians 5:17) and in this particular case he values the prayers of others on his behalf.

People talk about him – People talk about the hupomone man.  They don’t talk about the amazing “things” he has accomplished.  They don’t talk about all the books he has written.  They don’t even talk about the incredible ministry that he has built.  “I hear about your love for God’s holy people and your faith in the Lord Jesus…”  They talk about his love for people and his faith in Jesus.  Now don’t get me wrong all of the hupomone men that we have discussed over the last few years in this blog were men of action, but it is the heart and soul that defines hupomone, not the results of that heart and soul.

He is willing to collaborate – Partnership comes naturally to the hupomone man. I pray that your partnership with us in the faith may be effective in deepening your understanding of every good thing we share for the sake of Christ. The Holy Spirit cultivates collaboration among God’s people, very often among people very dissimilar or with competing priorities.  Consider the struggles of Paul and Barnabas, the motley crew of the twelve disciples.  Jonathon’s future clashed directly with the anointing on David.  The spies at Jericho and Rahab had so little in common yet together they brought down a city and brought forth the Messiah!  These collaborations serve to deepen our understanding of the faith.

He cultivates joy and encouragement – If the joy of the Lord is his strength, the hupomone man likes to spread his strength around. Your love has given me great joy and encouragement. It is the essence of the Holy Spirit flowing out of him to those around that extinguishes fear with encouragement that is not tied to circumstances but to the source of all hupomone, God Himself.

He refreshes – The word that Paul uses here is the same word that is used to quote Jesus when he said, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest” Matthew 11:28.  The hupomone man is quite simply allowing the very basic qualities of his Lord and Savior flow out of him.  He calls out to those around him to cease their futile labors. Anapaow is an emphasized form of the Greek word for pause.  Literally it is an “up pause”.  The presence of a hupomone man brings “up pause”.

Paul gives us a snapshot of the hupomone man.  It is the mirror for Philemon to look into as he stepped into a personal and cultural challenge.  Onesimus, his slave/property had run away.  Potentially he had stolen from Philemon as well.  Somehow this run-away slave met up with Paul in Rome.  Onesimus became a brother in the faith and told Paul what had occurred.  Paul sent Onesimus back to Philemon instigating a journey in faith and hupomone living for both of them.  Scripture leaves us to our own interpretation of the outcome of the journey, but church tradition tells us that some years later Philemon and Onesimus are martyred side by side proclaiming the Gospel message and establishing them both as hupomone men.

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“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”

John 10:10

Hupomone

  1.  steadfastness, constancy, endurance
  2. in the NT the characteristic of a man who is not swerved from his deliberate purpose and his loyalty to faith and piety by even the greatest trials and sufferings
  3. patiently, and steadfastly
  4. a patient, steadfast waiting for
  5. a patient enduring, sustaining, perseverance

So far we have talked about characteristics of the men we call the major prophets that qualify them as Hupomone Men.  They were all called by God to be His (just as we are).  They all committed there way to him in body, mind and soul….and perhaps more importantly in action daily.   They recognized and imitated God’s undying love for a disobedient people. Finally their core purpose was to serve God, even when it meant death.

We might be tempted to think that the Hupomone life is a horrible grind.  We may even take on the attitude that life is horrible but as men of God we will endure it.  There have been (and are) entire movements of faith based on this very concept, that somehow our lives as men of God should be this slogging through a swamp of suffering.   This is not the lot of the Hupomone Man.  In our title scripture Jesus makes this clear.  Nor is the Hupomone Man going to walk through life without negative circumstances.

Daniel survived the siege of Jerusalem.  He was ripped from his family and taken to Babylon to serve the man who destroyed his home.  Every move that Daniel makes and records for us reflects the Hupomone Man and the abundant life that God affords to those who follow Him.  It is an abundance that is not dependent on circumstances.  It is an abundance born of patience, of perseverance.  It is an abundance that causes three young men to face a mighty king and say, “…our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king.  But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”  Daniel 3:18  Daniel faces the lion’s den with the aplomb of someone who recognizes the abundance of the Hupomone life.  It is an abundance that transcends death itself.  It is a life that is based on the very Word of God, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in Righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for good work.” 2 Timothy 2:16-17  Paul called on all followers of Christ to live the hupomone life.  It is life that does not depend on circumstances but is anchored firmly on the rock, Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.

“But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” 2 Timothy 4:5

“And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” Romans 5:3-5

The Hupomone Man has enveloped himself in the hope that does not disappoint.  Peter calls it a “living” hope. (1 Peter 1:3).  It is this hope that is at the base of the abundant life we have in Jesus and at the core of hupomone living.

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GiftFor who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?  1 Corinthians 4:7

 

I had a wonderful opportunity yesterday to share in the ordination service of a wonderful friend and ministry partner.  The day started rather inauspiciously with a flat tire repair.  However the beautiful location of the Annual Western Ohio Conference of the United Methodist Church gathering more than made of for the trials experienced in the morning.  I could say that the idyllic setting of Lakeside, or the wonderful hospitality of our friend, indeed of the entire Western Ohio Conference, or event the wonderful ice cream and coffee offered by the local shops was the highlight of the day. However Bishop Gregory Palmer came to the podium and served up a message that should be listened to by every minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ everywhere.  “It’s a gift”!  I believe that I was in the majority of people who were gathered to celebrate the “accomplishment” of ordination for our friends or family members.  Bishop Palmer reminded us that it is at times like these that we tend to “smell our selves”, in my family we might have said “get too big for our britches”.  We grab onto this wonderful accomplishment that we have achieved and forget that everything we have, everything we are and everything that we do is a gift from God.  We forget that it all starts and emanates from the cross and the great gift of salvation by faith, not by any works that we could possibly conceive to “accomplish”.  Whether it is ordination, the growth of a church or the establishment of a ministry these are all gifts.  It is when we start to “smell ourselves” and rest on the great things that we have done that the trouble starts.  We stake out territories.  We begin to do things to extend our accomplishments that hurt the heart of God and create strife within the body of Christ.  We demean others as less important than ourselves, justifying our manipulation or even persecution of them, all because we lose sight of the fact that “It’s all a gift”.

What a wonderful opportunity all of us who have been entrusted with such a gift have.  Whether we are ordained, licensed or simply called the children of God we have this opportunity, this day, this moment to share all this that we have received from the hand of our gracious Lord and Savior.  “It’s all a gift!”

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Good Morning!

So yes I have taken a break from writing while Allana was writing her “90 Day Faith Walk”.  I share some of the posts here but if you would like to do the whole “Walk” you can find it HERE.  Also her women’s group True Beauty is open for new members from April 26th until May 17th.  There is currently a waiting list but Allana will be adding additional members.  The group operates on Facebook and is by invitation only.  If you are interested you can email me for more information.

 

The LORD, the Psalmist’s Shepherd.
A Psalm of David.
1 The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want. 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. 3 He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake. 4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me 5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; My cup overflows. 6 Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, And I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever .

So here is the reality of The Nineteen days.  We never know when we are living them out.  The Guidry’s are not really unique in this experience.  I would guess that everyone of you has walked through their own Nineteen Days, innocent of the storm that was just over the horizon.  The fact is that this was not my first journey through the Nineteen Days, but it is my first journey through them where I truly understood David’s heart as he penned this Psalm.  How we walk out the Nineteen Days is a function of this Psalm.  Sentence by sentence it is a guide written by a man who walked through his own Nineteen Days many times over.

David knew about enemies.  He faced them in a literal way that few of us have ever (and most of us will never) experience.  Whether it was the giant Goliath or his own son Absalom David’s life was filled with the turmoil that mortal enemies brings. We are unlikely to face an armored giant or have our son plot to steal everything we have but the enemies we face are just as real as those that assaulted David’s peace. Sometimes we are our own worst enemy.  Other times ( and this phrase is a poetic restatement of the “Valley of the shadow of death”) the simple fact that we are God’s people in an ungodly world places us in the presence of our enemies.  God’s table provides sustenance and hospitality in the presence of those who hate him and us and it IS God’s table.  He does not call us to prepare our own tables in enemy territory.  He calls us to sit at his table under the covering of his hospitality.  Just as wisdom prepares a place for those who seek God in Proverbs 9, God has prepared this haven in the midst of turmoil.

There is the key phrase, “in the midst”, David says “In the presence”.  This is a concept that too many Christians just don’t get; that too many preachers and teachers ignore.  It is attractive to us, to just avoid the whole “valley of the shadow of death”.  Certainly if I pray right and have enough faith I can just stay on the mountaintop all the time!  When Allana was first diagnosed with cancer we had several very well meaning brothers and sisters in Christ who assumed that if we just prayed and had faith Allana would be instantly and miraculously healed.  Now don’t get me wrong I completely believe that God does heal!  I also believe that God intervened on many occasions throughout our journey through Cancer.  However when Allana and I prayed and sought God, especially following our first round of Chemotherapy, His answer was “I need you to walk through the valley of the shadow of death, My rod and My staff will comfort you.  I will prepare a table in the presence of your enemies.  You will dwell in My house forever.”  The fruit that has come from the walk in the valley has been truly amazing.  God has provided opportunity after opportunity for us to share Him with so many.  Here is the cool thing about the tradition of hospitality in the Old Testament times, strangers were welcome at the table.  The table that God has prepared for us “in the presence of mine enemies” is one that we are free to invite ALL to join.  It is not a table that we are supposed to wall off or cower under.  It is a place that is made for us to introduce our enemies to our most gracious (literally full of grace) host Jesus Christ our saviour and Lord.  Who will you invite to sit at God’s table?

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Yes FM Morning Munch

January 9th Fan Into Flame

Audio File

Talk about Fan into Flame weather!  Nothing like the winter session of the Morning Munch.  As I walked in it was more like the Morning crunch, crunch, crunch, that special sound that really, really cold snow makes when you walk on it.

Timothy had a lot on his mind as leader of the Ephesian church but fortunately for him sub-zero wind chills and drifting snow were not on the list! Unfortunately, Pagans assaulting the church from the outside and heretics picking away from the inside were the trials du jour.  Add in all the details of a new community gathering together and young Timothy was stretched to the max.  I would be interested to read the letters and messages that Timothy was sending to Paul, detailing the latest provocations from the pagan guilds or the newest twisting of the Gospel message by self-seeking, self-appointed prophets.  Timothy’s youth, intelligence, honesty and leadership had been questioned and insulted time after time.  While the Mediterranean climate kept the physical temperature moderate there was definitely a chill in the spiritual air for this new Christian leader.

Timothy needs more than an action plan, he needs more than a cheerleader even more than a great shoulder to cry on.  Timothy needs a principle, a resolution to end all resolutions that will keep him going whether times are tough or easy (sometimes the easy times are harder on faith than any others!)

Paul inspired by the Holy Spirit gives us the resolution to end all resolutions and the action plan to back it up.

For this reason I remind you to kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline. Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord or of me His prisoner, but join with me in suffering for the gospel according to the power of God, who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity,  but now has been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, for which I was appointed a preacher and an apostle and a teacher. For this reason I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day. Retain the standard of sound words which you have heard from me, in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus.  Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you.

Here is the hook!  You already have everything that you need.  It is the gift that you have already received.  That feeling that you are not equipped, that God has let you down and not supplied you everything that you need for the ministry he has selected for you is a lie.  He has given you The Holy Spirit full of power, love and self-discipline.  All you have to do is Fan that gift into Flame.  How do you do that?

  1. Don’t be ashamed!  Christ is not ashamed of you and few things will put the fire of the Holy Spirit out in your life as fast as hiding it in shame.
  2. Soong-kak-op-ath-eh-o join with me in suffering:  don’t go it alone.

 

And today we look at the 3rd and 4th points of Paul’s Action Plan for Building a Fire.

 

  1. “Retain the standard of sound words which you have heard from me, in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus.”  Several other versions say, “hold on to the pattern of sound teaching…”  If you want to Fan the Flame of the Active Presence of God in your life don’t go chasing after slick teachers, big personalities and pop-theology.  Spend time in the Scriptures.  Let the Holy Spirit open your eyes to the pattern of sound teaching that the Bible presents and you will see miraculous power, love and self-discipline rise up in your life in ways that you could not even imagine.
  2. “Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you.”

Jesus Christ is guarding what you entrusted to him by placing your faith in Him and declaring Him Lord and Savior of your life.  We are called to Guard the deposit of Salvation, the treasure of the Gospel but we don’t have to do it alone.  The very gift that we are fanning into flame comes to our aid, indeed becomes the agent of protection.  In fact any efforts spent outside of the Holy Spirit are wasted and vain.

 

So if your New Years resolution is already a bust, try Paul’s on for size.  Fan some Holy Flames of your own.  Walk with confidence and pride as a Child of the Most High God. Soong-kak-op-ath-eh-o ,Join with your brothers and sisters in Christ, walking out the trials and hardships of holy living in an unholy world together.  Hold on to the pattern of sound teaching that God has provided us in His Word and as the flames build Guard the treasure entrusted you through the gift given to you:  The Spirit of Power, Love and Self-Discipline.

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Yes FM Morning Munch

Audio Link

January 8th Fan Into Flame

I am sensing a pattern here and if it continues I may just have to call in from home on Friday morning because the glaciers are coming.  There was an undercurrent of glee in the children’s classes at church last night as the kids anticipated another day off from school with temperatures and wind chills plunging well into the danger zone.

In weather like this a flame can be the difference between life and death.  I recall a movie from my youth where one of the characters is desperately trying to kindle a flame with hand that have no feeling and a body that just wants to lay down and sleep.  Honestly I cannot recall if he gets the fire going or not.  However I do know this there have been times in my life as a child of God that I have felt just like that.  My spirit is numb and cold.  I feel like I fumble everything that I try to do.  I just want to lay down and sleep.  I have become convinced of my own ineffectiveness, shame overcomes my desire to serve, perhaps even my desire to live.  I have fallen prey to the lies of the enemy that tell me I am unloved, unworthy and will never amount to anything.

It is definitely time to Fan Into Flame the Gift of God, to refuse to be ashamed to testify about our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and to move on to Paul’s second step for Fanning into Flame the active presence of God in our lives.

“Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord or of me His prisoner, but join with me in suffering for the gospel according to the power of God,”  2 Timothy 1:8

Paul does not call Timothy to do something that he has not done or is unwilling to do. Here is one of those translation idiosyncrasies that just makes my day (yes I know that is pathetic but what can you do).  Our next step in Fanning the Flame is “Join with me in suffering” and in the Greek that is 1 yes count it 1 word…  soong-kak-op-ath-eh’-o  perhaps even better than hupomone (if you want to follow that rabbit trail you can look it up on fanintoflame.net or you can look through the past two years of Yes FM morning munches to find the series on hupomone) Ok off the rabbit trail and back to the suffering.  Paul tosses out this big word (which only he uses and only twice and only in this book) to give Timothy a key to Fanning that gift of power, love and self-discipline into a raging fire.  Join with me in suffering, in experiencing the rough stuff in all the irritations, inconveniences and yes sometimes flat out persecution that comes with being a child of the living God in an ungodly world.  You do not have to go it alone.  Jesus said “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”  Walk the path of hardship and do not be afraid to ask someone to walk with you or if your path is currently smooth do not be afraid to walk the path of hardship with a brother (or sister) and remember that no matter where you walk, Jesus is walking there with you.

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Yes FM Morning Munch

January 6th

Audio File 

Fan Into Flame, Fire Building

 

It is the sixth day of January, the year is no longer quite new.  If the statistics mean anything New Year’s resolutions are already beginning to fall by the wayside.  Yesterday we talked about Paul’s New Year’s resolution for Timothy.  “Fan into flame the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God did not give us a spirit of timidity but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline”   I believe two things about this statement: 1. Paul was bringing Timothy back to the moment of his conversion, to the moment when he first felt that overwhelming presence of the Holy Spirit in his life 2. The frustrations and struggles of this new church’s leader reflected a larger struggle within the church itself.  This is the same church that Jesus himself would address through the Apostle John in Revelation

 Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place. (Revelation 2:4-5)

The language is different but the message is the same.  That intimate, powerful burning relationship that you had with the Holy Spirit at the beginning of your walk with God, rekindle that flame.  And why do we want to rekindle that flame, because it is the flame of a Spirit of Power, a Spirit of Love a Spirit of Self-discipline.  It is the Spirit that dwells in those who have been adopted as sons and daughters of the Living God.  It is the Spirit that came upon the Judges of Israel fulfilling the promises of God.  Othniel, Sampson and Gideon all defended Israel by its power against overwhelming odds.  Gideon is one of my favorite stories in Judges.  Here is a man that was hiding in a pit when God spoke to him but when the Spirit of the Lord came upon him he (somewhat reluctantly) kindled that spark into a flame that would save his people and do it in such a way that God’s hand in it could be seen by all.  As wonderful and amazing as all of those stories are, the really thrilling thing for us as brothers and sisters in Christ is that it is no longer a matter of the Spirit coming upon us, God has given us this wonderful gift of the Holy Spirit entering into us as a an ever present source of power, love and self-discipline.

Paul, always the systematic writer, doesn’t just leave us hanging with this call to rekindle God’s gift of the Holy Spirit in our lives.  Join me as over the next few days we take a look at Paul’s Guide to Spiritual Fire Building in difficult times.

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