Posts Tagged ‘joy’

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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 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

Fourteen years, three years, six years, Anniversaries, they help us keep track of our lives.  They give stability in a fast-moving world.   We celebrate anniversaries that are as varied and different as we are.  Marriage, birth, graduation, achievement, establishment, destruction, death; they are all worthy to be commemorated in their own way and we do commemorate them.  They are annual anchors for humanity as we all try to get our heads around the incredibly complex simplicity of the thing we call time.

Too often we use them to measure success, or failure.  They are dark tools in the hands of depression.  They can be nasty weapons in the hands of hate and anger.  They can be billboards of self-promotion.  However as I look up at the fourteen pictures above, as I think of the many anniversaries, the anchor moments that have made up my life. I see the very hand of God leading me, sometimes across mountaintops of joy, sometime through the valley of the shadow of death and most often across the prairies of life with the ruts, briars and yes the incredible beauty of creation.

While the anniversaries stand out, I know that it is the steady influence in between those salient moments that God uses most to shape me into the man who He desires me to be.  It is the time spent with him every….ok most mornings perusing His Word, praying over those in need or simply over those laid on my heart. Combine that with the common schedule of life, the friends, acquaintances and those who momentarily impact my life and who I am begins to take shape.  The shape that God has planned for me.  The shape that reflects His image through the image of His son Jesus Christ.  It is that shape, that plan managed by God;  “Yet, O LORD, you are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.” Isaiah 64:8; the result of my daily relationship with Him that prepares me for moments in my life that I will forever remember, both the joys and the trials.

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What a wonderful week!  It started off a little rough, Nisa was not feeling well but she came around just in time for us to make the trip to the Assembly of God Fine Arts Festival for the Michigan District held in Lansing.  While it was great to be able to watch so many teens on fire for God and sharing their talents, it was even more wonderful to see Allana blossom this week.  It was really about two weeks ago that she seemed to make a real breakthrough but she really shined this weekend.  Even after the busy two days of Fine Arts she was up and ready to go to hear Dustin Reed bring a great word at Compelled Church and then share a wonderful evening of fellowship and vision with CityLight Church!  I am so thankful for God’s miraculous hand in all the events of the past year and a half.  I am so thankful for God’s gift of Perseverance during this difficult time in our lives.  However as we look at this Biblical concept a little more closely it becomes clear that God does not just provide Perseverance for the tough times.  This gift needs to be a core characteristic of every Christian.

Peter in his second recorded epistle links this quality to our participation in the divine nature of God!  Everyone appreciates getting gifts but how special it is when one receives a gift that extends from the very nature of the giver.  So many gifts are gifts of obligation but when the gift proceeds from the heart and represents the very being of the giver it becomes that much more special.

2 Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord ; 3 seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. 4 For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust. 5 Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, 6 and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, 7 and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. 8 For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 1:2-7, the bold is mine)  

Even more important this gift is one that is critical to the transformation process that Life in Christ Jesus brings.

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.  Romans 12:2

But we all, with unveiled facebeholding as in a mirror the glory of theLord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to gloryjust as from the Lord, the Spirit.  2 Corinthians 3:18

It is only when we persevere, remaining “under” Jesus Christ that the wonderful transformation into His Spiritual image can take place.  While it is a gift from God perseverance also requires intentionality from the recipient.  It is a gift that only functions when the recipient is fully focused on the giver.  Kyle Idleman tells us that idols are created when gifts from God become more important than the giver (gods at war).  This is what happens when perseverance becomes completely focused on the events of our life (usually the negative ones) and not on Jesus Christ.

For You have been my help, And in the shadow of Your wings I sing for joy.  Psalm 63:7

Don’t wait for disaster to strike to rest in the shadow of His wings.  The more we remain there, the more we will experience the joy of true perseverance.

 

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“He has done it!” ends David’s psalm 22.  The New American Standard Bible labels this Psalm: “A Cry of Anguish and a Song of Praise”.  David accepted  that all suffering is simply the path to the miraculous for those who are followers of Jesus.    Nisa will be for us a miracle of new life.  Our family in many ways is born again with the impending birth of this precious girl.  This is an attribute of the miraculous.  It brings rebirth to those it impacts.  Our very transformation from beings steeped in sin and unacceptable in the presence of God to children of the living God and those who are guaranteed an eternity in His presence is perhaps the greatest miracle of all.

If one dares the term, lesser miracles also carry this sense of new beginnings.  They are those points in our lives when our cries of anguish turn to songs of praise.  They are intended to transform on a spiritual level not just impact our physical beings.  It is this spiritual aspect of the miraculous that is so confusing to us.  When we approach the miraculous as simply God impacting our earthly lives (perhaps as reward or even punishment) it fogs the very nature of the miracles.  We become magicians searching for the “spells” or the correct formula of prayer (or behavior) that will manipulate God into acting the way that we conceive that he should.  Paul was singing praises in prison not because he thought this would enable, encourage or force God to act on his behalf.  He did it because he anticipated the miraculous in whatever form it would come.  (Acts 16:25ff)

Right now I can only anticipate and imagine the incredible joy that I will feel when I hold Nisa in my arms.  I am living in the confidence of Paul.

“For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 1:6

Paul gives this statement as a basis for his ongoing joy.  He anticipated the miraculous.  Our ability to live out this type of anticipation is a function of the degree to which we embrace the initial miracle of our rebirth into the family of God and our ability to keep our spiritual eyes focused on Jesus.  It is the understanding that the miraculous is not so much about our physical circumstances as our spiritual lives and our relationship with God.  The miraculous operates within its own economy, one established and ordained by God.  It is an economy that ensures  joy for those who live by faith and anticipate the miraculous.

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                  (Nisa- Miracle)

Faith

Guidry

We have prayed for this day for 9 years.  We have ached for the losses and doubted our faith.  We refused to give up even when we were labeled as a “Chronic Miscarriage” case.  When the entire world (and even God himself from a purely worldly standpoint) seemed to be saying emphatically NO, the Holy Spirit whispered in our ears to leave it in the Father’s hands.  So we did.  Don’t get me wrong we cried, we wailed, we begged over and over again.  We wanted at times to throw in the towel and act out of our own understanding.  We still do not completely understand, but understand this:  We have a mighty heavenly Father who cares for us in ways that I cannot begin to fathom.  He loves us in a way that is so far beyond my understanding that I only touch the edges of what AGAPE really means!

Several weeks ago while in prayer God gave me the name Nisa Faith.  Indeed she is a miracle of faith, not the simple faith of a single prayer or even the cry for healing but the faith of a 9 year journey.  She represents to us the faith of Abraham as he led his entire family to Canaan.  She represents the faith of Joseph as he waited in slavery, in prison for God to act.  She is even now, yet in the womb that miracle, an incredible act of God.

The difficult part to grasp is that my statement about our Father’s love for us is not just true because Nisa is healthy and strong.  It is an eternal truth that is expressed in both the tragic and the joyful.  He does not love us more now than he did on the very days that we miscarried our other seven precious babies.  The reality is that our journey to the fulfillment of the call that He had placed on our lives led us directly through David’s “Valley of the Shadow of Death”.  While we might prefer a detour around the Valley, God does not promise that.  He does promise that he will be with us, standing by us with His rod and staff and even more importantly for New Testament believers dwelling in us.  Many times it is not until after we are through the Valley that we are able to look back and see that God wielded His rod and staff on our behalf as we walked that  difficult road.

Even more than she represents the miracle of life to us, she is the miracle of faith itself.  Perhaps a better way to say it is that she is an expression of miraculous faith.  Faith inspired by the ongoing presence of God in our lives.  It is the faith that kept Abraham going on his 400 mile journey.  It is the faith that kept him in relationship with God even when he arrived only to face famine.  It is the faith that saw the birth of Isaac and the substitution of a ram for his only child on the mountain before God.  It is not a faith of the perfect life or of perfect people. It is a faith that traverses pitfalls and carries us through our own mistakes; faith that originates not with us but in the very heart of God and comes to us as a gift from the hands of our heavenly Father.  It is Nisa Faith.

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.  He makes me to lied down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters.  He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake.  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.  You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; My cup overflows.  Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

PSALM 23

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I Proclaim Liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants

8 “‘Count off seven sabbaths of years—seven times seven years—so that the seven sabbaths of years amount to a period of forty-nine years. 9 Then have the trumpet sounded everywhere on the tenth day of the seventh month; on the Day of Atonement sound the trumpet throughout your land. 10 Consecrate the fiftieth year and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you; each one of you is to return to his family property and each to his own clan. 11 The fiftieth year shall be a jubilee for you; do not sow and do not reap what grows of itself or harvest the untended vines. 12 For it is a jubilee and is to be holy for you; eat only what is taken directly from the fields.  

Leviticus 25:8-12

In this the Sabbath year of Sabbath years of Sabbath days I proclaim to you the Lord of Lords, the King of Kings, the Son of the Living God Jesus Christ.

34 Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. 35 Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

John 8:34

 

We live in the year of Jubilee.  The Son of God has come and declared freedom for all the inhabitants of the the land.

18The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,

 19To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.

Luke 4:18-19

 

We have all been captives.  We have all been oppressed.  Some of us still are trapped in a false sense of freedom, trapped in the lie that sin is liberating.  This captivity, this oppression knows no ethnic, national, economic or social boundaries.  It chains the rich and poor alike.  It causes destruction and oppression in the halls of power and the boardrooms of the world.  It brings death and hopelessness to the streets of poverty. It spreads darkness and despair in the homes of the middle class. It mocks us, declaring hope and escape in money, power, pleasure and self-seeking lives.  In the end it brings death to ALL those in its grasp.

    I Proclaim Liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants

With Peter we must cry out our soberness and sanity before men as we proclaim the great work of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ:

 

“Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. 15 These men are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning! 16 No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:

17 “‘In the last days, God says,
I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
your young men will see visions,
your old men will dream dreams.
18 Even on my servants, both men and women,
I will pour out my Spirit in those days,
and they will prophesy.
19 I will show wonders in the heaven above
and signs on the earth below,
blood and fire and billows of smoke.
20 The sun will be turned to darkness
and the moon to blood
before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord.
21 And everyone who calls
on the name of the Lord will be saved.’[c]

22 “Men of Israel, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. 23 This man was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men,[d] put him to death by nailing him to the cross. 24 But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.

Acts 2:14-24

Call on the name of the Lord and be saved.  Call on the name of the Lord and experience the pouring out of His Spirit!

I Proclaim Liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants

 

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