Bringing the Church Back Together
April 9, 2017, 12:24 am
Filed under: Searching for our Savior in His book | Tags: , , ,

First John is the heartfelt writings of a man who sought to please God in all He did. Although at one time, this son of thunder, called upon Christ to bring fire down upon a group of people who didn’t receive Jesus he would have his life changed. Instead of speaking in anger, the Holy Spirit who was working in him transform him into Christ-likeness, and by the time of the epistle, he was known as the Apostle of love. His heart ached for his people to have the relationship with God that was a part of His plan. John writes to guide his people toward this relationship that brings joy and fulfillment. As a result, John write to encourage young Christians not to give up and become mediocre. Here are the four reasons for John writes the epistle:
I John 1:4- “These things write we unto you, that your joy may be full.”
I John 2:1- “My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not.”
I John 2:26- “These things have I written unto you concerning them that seduce you.”
I John 5:13- “These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life.”
In our world today, we have a tremendous problem with the “unchurched” or “de-churched”. Two thousand years ago, John the beloved apostle wrote to people who were facing the same problem. Seemingly, there were those within the church that struggled with sin, which hindered the Holy Spirit’s control in their life, robbing them of joy. In their desire to be happy in the midst of their persecution, the turned to false teachers who misled them as they pointed them in the wrong direction. John writes to remind these believers to focus on Jesus, the Son of God, and to realize that it was in Him and Him alone that they were given the gift of eternal life. This personal relationship with God, when cultivated and developed produces true faith, godly ethics, and a passionate love for our God and for His people.


I Thank God For You! (Philemon 4 to 7)
June 8, 2015, 3:08 am
Filed under: Searching for our Savior in His book | Tags: , , ,

Philemon 1:4-7
I Thank God For You!

Philemon bible study, CSI Bible, Bible 8 thank God for you

For whom do you thank God? I thought of this question, and my first thought was “who in my life really impacted me?” You know the answer to that question isn’t really as easy as you might think. The original question includes the thought of thanking God for the person, so it is apparent that the person made a positive impact on my life. Of course, I thank God for my parents. Both my mom and dad helped shape the type of person I am today. I had two school teachers that really impacted my life in a positive way, Miss Morgan and Mrs. Kilby. They were my first and second grade teachers (it may have been Mrs. Morgan and Miss Kilby. One was married and the other single and they were sisters.) They helped develop a love for learning that I still have today. I thank God for them. I also remember a man called Tom Hamilton. He was my first coach, first in football and then in baseball. He really made an impact on me. I suppose the first pastor who made an impact on me was actually not my pastor, but my second cousin. God used him to bring my dad to Jesus Christ and later to bring me to Christ. The first pastor to impact my life was Jerry Gibson, who today is still the pastor of Gethsemane Baptist in Radford, Virginia. He taught me and trained me to follow after Jesus Christ and to take God’s Word very seriously. Many professors at Piedmont Bible College (now Piedmont International University) taught me about God and showed me what a real relationship with Him was. Quickly coming to mind was Professors Bowman, Reiner, Bollinger, Green, and Allred, great men of God. Certain pastors like Bud Owen, Zeno Groce, and Jeff Clawson have impacted my life for God.
But, when I looked at the question and Paul’s answer, I realized that the people that I most likely would thank God for are my students, both past and current. When I first started teaching, I had a young lady named Ann in one of my science classes. Poor Ann! I had applied for the position of teacher but the only remaining position was for a middle school science teacher. I told the principal, that I could teach a lot of different classes, but the one I was sure I couldn’t do was science. I left the school and went home to eat lunch. Teresa, my wife, greeted me and asked the interview went. I told her I was sure I wouldn’t get the position. About that time, the phone rang, and I was a science teacher. Poor Ann and all my students. I thought that a Christian school was like heaven on earth and that we would all pray for each other and sing Christian camp fire songs. For those of you who have never taught at a Christian school, you realize that all students are humans and some are Christians. Poor Ann! She had to endure the most ineffective and poorly prepared teacher in the history of mankind. Her class was very creative and very smart, and they soon realize that I had no clue of what a teacher was suppose to do. I sure that each day was a miserable experience for each student including Ann. But I tried my best, and I tried to show Jesus in all that I did. I realize that I didn’t make much of an impact on my students, but Ann was still one of my students. She went on and graduated from high school and I lost track of her. For a short time, Ann and her husband went to the same church that I did, but because of the size, we seldom saw each other. But God led us both, at different times to the same new church. I was surprised to see Ann as a part of the praise team. I was shocked when she sang a solo. Today, I thank God for Ann because she is a part of that praise team that leads our worship in church each Sunday. I am amazed at the Christian leader that she is and the love she has for God. I thank God for Ann each time I think of her. I could start telling brief stories about many of my students, and praise God for the faithful way that they are impacting our world for Jesus Christ. Sometimes when I read of what they are doing to share Christ with others, I am overwhelmed by their love and faithfulness. I think that was what Paul was doing when he turns his attention to Philemon. From a convert to Jesus Christ, Philemon had matured into a person who was allowing God to make a real difference through him. Who would you thank God for today because you watched them mature into Christians following Jesus.
From this passage of Philemon, we can learn several things about relationships. First, we are people created to have personal relationships. We develop relationships with people with whom we come into contact. God is constantly bringing people into my life with whom He is trying to impact. Sometimes, I miss the opportunity to impact someone else because I am so consumed with me. My self-centered life far too often misses the opportunity to introduce someone to Christ or to help them in some struggle that God knows they are going through. I realize that I need to ask God to make me aware that He is bringing people into my life that have needs that He has decided that I can be used to meet. The second great commandment is to love others. I need to love myself, so I can love them in the same way, but I really need to be sensitive to people around me. Have you ever been dealing with something in your life and another person’s reaction to you either made the situation better or worse? We do that each day. Ask God to use you to make others’ lives better. God shows us both in the lives of Paul and Philemon that He wants to work through us. Paul had invested in others and we see that his investment was still going on. He kept up with what was going on in Philemon’s life. We have a wonderful opportunity to keep up with those people God has brought into our lives through social media, through text messages, through phone calls, or, heaven help us, through personal visits.
I noticed what Paul mentioned that he had heard about Philemon. I also notice that although Philemon was a successful and wealthy man, Paul didn’t remember his financial achievements or status as an important leader in the city of Colosse. Paul realized that the important things in the life of Philemon were his acts of love and faith. Philemon had a reputation of a man who loved others and had a faith in God. I’m sure that Paul took notice of Philemon obeying both the commandment to love God and to love people. His faithfulness in doing the acts that expressed true and authentic love for others was something that demonstrated a real relationship with God.
A third thing found in this section is that Paul prayed specifically for Philemon. He never prayed generalized prayers, but prayed that as Philemon shared his story of faith, people would see Jesus in all of it. We live in a world in which it is easier not to follow Jesus and share our story of how Jesus changed our lives with others. So Paul prayed that Philemon would be effective in sharing his story with others. He also prayed that Philemon would remember that every good thing in his life was because God was in his life. James reminds us that every good gift and every perfect or complete gift comes down from God. We are people blessed by a God who is gracious because He loves and blesses saint and sinner. God showers us all with love. We can glorify Him by reminding all that God is good. We state that God is love. We show how gracious and merciful God is to those who rightly deserve His justice, but is showered by His blessings. Paul prayed that Philemon never forgot that all that he had was given to him by a loving and gracious God, who made a relationship possible. Philemon got to faithfully share that message of love. He got to demonstrate love through kind actions.
The final thing I noticed is that Paul had joy in Philemon’s acts that brought encouragement and support to other Christians. I have three children in whom I have invested much time and love. I have encouraged, disciplined, taught, and loved my children through great times of success and difficult times of failure. Recently, I have had the pleasure of having people acknowledging the remarkable Christian adults that my children have become. I have learned of people who see the impact that they make in so many lives and on so many levels. When I hear of that, I have more joy than if someone said that about me.
For whom do you thank God? I pray that as you follow Jesus, He will bring you into the path of many who need to know Him. I pray that you invest in others and rejoice in their success as they follow Him and impact others for His glory.