Posts Tagged ‘joy’

This is a social media post from my brother.  I am not going to go into all the history and details of why I hold him in high regard as a Hupomone Man.

I have, to some degree, learned the tension of walking through the valley of the shadow of death while still expecting blessing. I can navigate suffering (relatively speaking) but expect blessing. So when I knew I was flying to Shanghai I decided to be specific in my request to God. I bought a coach seat but wanted an upgrade. Not only did I want an upgrade, I wanted to be upgraded to the upper deck of the 747 aircraft in seat 77. When I checked my flight just before our Sunday gathering at The Bridge Metrowest, I saw I had been upgraded to seat 77. See, in the grand scheme of things it’s a small thing. In light of recent events it’s insignificant. But it means something to me that the Father cares about the little things that seem big to His kids in the moment. That’s what Dads do. He’s a good good Father.

Walking in the miraculous should be a way of life for the Hupomone man.  It is a lifestyle that extends from our faith.  (For a look at Walking in the Miraculous click here ).

As my brother says we have a good, good Father; one who gives his children good gifts (Luke 11:13).  The mistake that we make too often is linking the gifts from our Father to the circumstances of our lives and our own expectations.  When we become a new creation we are freed from circumstances and our only expectation is “that all things work together for good…” (Romans 8:38).

Our freedom and expectation of  God’s good makes the miraculous details of God’s love all the more amazing because whether you get upgraded to seat 77 or your flight is canceled and you are stuck in the airport for 36 hours the goodness of our Father remains, along with the expectation of the miraculous.  This reality does not diminish the joy of the above story, in fact it enhances it because the joy is guaranteed.  We just need to walk it out.  This is not the giddy joy of circumstance, it is the hupomone joy.  It is the joy that remains regardless of circumstance but brings those oh yeah moments when he opens up the gates of heaven to bless in demonstrative fashion to strengthen the hupomone faith of creatures born of circumstance.

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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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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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