Reconcile: A Study of Philemon

now available!

Introduction To Philemon
by Dr. Frank Teat

Picture the worst looking group of weeds in your flowerbed.
 Can you see them?
FOUL WEED
Now picture your favorite fruit.
 Watermelon? Grape? Orange? Apple? Raisin?
CHOICE FRUIT
This letter Paul wrote to Philemon describes a word picture of what you were thinking about.
Except it’s not about plants.
          It’s about God’s crowning creation.
                Man

Philemon describes in one verse how men can transform from a foul weed, to choice fruit. Onesimus means “useful.” Paul, using a play on words, describes Onesimus’ transformation from useless to useful. Philemon 11 reads, “Formerly he was useless to you, but now he is indeed useful to you and to me.”

Why did I ask you to picture the worst looking group of weeds and your favorite fruit at the beginning of this introduction? I prompted that imagery because in the Old Testament, the Hebrew utilizes the words useless and useful to describe weeds and plants.(1) “Bashaw” describes a useless plant and foul weed. “Zimrah” on the other hand, is not only a useful plant, but a choice fruit.

You are God’s “choice fruit.” King David desired to be the “apple of God’s eye” in Psalm 17:8, a choice fruit. Why did he choose that phrase? Maybe David was repeating a phrase from the Law (Pentateuch) he had meditated on many times. In Deuteronomy 32:10, God promised He would care for and guard His people, the “apple of His eye.”

God is in the business of molding the useless into the useful. This is what God does. He reconciles that which is broken back to Himself through Christ. He calls us to be vessels of reconciliation as we bear His image. I pray through the reading, studying, and meditating on this letter to Philemon, you recognize your purpose.

Why study Philemon?

  • Philemon is a timely letter for those feeling useless – to know there is hope.
  • Philemon is a timely letter for those who know someone like Onesimus and to champion their cause.
  • Philemon is a timely letter for those who, like the letter’s namesake, might need a word of encouragement from a trusted brother or sister in the Lord. Maybe you need accountability to make the right decision concerning reconciliation with others.
  • Philemon is a timely letter for those who have been reconciled to God and are walking the journey – from useless to useful.

Pastor Frank Teat, Ph.D.

Frank has been married to his beautiful bride, Carol Beth, for forty years. He started his career as a teacher and coach, and was called into full-time ministry in 1987. For 22 years Frank served as Student Pastor at North Orange Baptist Church in Orange, Texas and then at First Baptist Church in Henderson, Texas. God then called him to serve as Pastor of Administration/Education at Summer Grove Baptist Church. He is currently the Pastor of Connections (Discipleship and Ministries) at First Baptist Bossier City in Louisiana.

     Frank loves spending time with his two children (Sara and Jonathan), their spouses and children (six grandkids!!), teaching God’s Word, hunting, running/fitness, reading, and really enjoys playing the guitar and helping lead worship!

Frank

1 Spiros Zodhiates, Hebrew-Greek Key Word Study Bible : New American Standard Bible.

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A New Year: Thrive 1/12

a-new-year-thriveIt occurred to me while writing this piece that every year we make a big fuss…almost in a panic. Oh no?! It’s New Year’s Eve!! How am I going to enhance or improve in my life?

Let’s see: I’m already in church, read the Word…oh wait…only a minute on Sundays during church. (Shhh…did I say that out loud?!) I need to work on doing that everyday.

Ok, what is my New Year’s resolution?

Because I never keep the resolutions anyway, my solution is no resolution. I need to just take inventory of my life, write down what I need to do, should do, and can do.

My plate is always full: kids, relatives, work, errands…my work is never done. Sometimes I need to write a note to find the note that it seems I have lost and can’t find. Sometimes after taking care of what seems like everybody else, I seem to have lost myself.

One thing I’ve learned is a new year is just a new date. If you are serious about getting yourself together you wouldn’t wait until a new year starts. You would say the Nike logo to yourself…JUST DO IT…and move toward change.

We have all been through trials and tribulations. We have all had days when we wish we could pull the covers over our head and hide from the world, or wish we had a magic wand to make everything right.

So, I’m asking you to commit to a 21 day jump start to improving yourself and your life. Choose a devotional plan. Here’s a few examples I saw online that caught my attention: 21 day devotional plan for busy women, 21 days of powerful breakthroughs, a 21 day challenge-Made to Crave, 21 day devotional to beat depression, 21 days with the Holy Spirit, and 21 days of prayer…just to name a few.

Remember, Philippians 4:13 says,

“I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.”

In Mark 9:23 Jesus said,

“If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.”

Finally my personal favorite from Ephesians 6:11.

“Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.”

No one is perfect, but YOU must perfect what you want in your life. Here’s to New Year’s solutions for 2017!

Trisha Williams

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A New Year: Thrive 1/1

a-new-year-thriveWe all have a story and your story matters. Your story tells the history of your journey with Christ and speaks to the beauty of humanity. We engage in sharing our stories because our stories connect us. As the New Year begins, we want to be women who embrace new beginnings. We serve a God of second chances, and what better opportunity than the New Year to encourage one another to risk hoping for a new beginning!

Through the years, God has taught the women at Taylor’s Valley Baptist Church immeasurable truths about Himself and how our connections matter. Our connections often provide the fuel for vulnerability, a trait necessary for new starts. Over the next 31 days you will meet 31 different women sharing 31 different stories. Our hope is that by sharing our stories, we will show God’s faithfulness in our everyday lives and encourage you to look for God in all the new beginnings of a new year.  Get ready to belly laugh, shed a few tears (grab a tissue), and prepare your heart for God to speak through, “A New Year: Thrive.”

Second Chances

“I called to the LORD in my distress, and He answered me.” (Jonah 2:2).

When was the last time you felt the Holy Spirit nudging you a particular direction and your first instinct was to flee? If whatever the task before me requires battling insecurities, my flesh begs me to forgo the fight and just flee.

A few years ago I was asked to serve in a capacity I had only dreamed about in my home church. Almost as quickly as the excitement built at the thought of using my gifts and talents in this area, an equal amount of apprehension overwhelmed my spirit. I reflected on my previous track record with similar tasks. Isn’t that how we evaluate potentially new tasks, through considering and analyzing what we have been able to accomplish in the past?

Despite reciting scriptures encouraging me to trust God’s promise to enable and empower me to complete the task ahead, I stalled and filibustered when pressed to confirm. I was hesitating to step into leadership though I knew God was calling me to that specific purpose.

As God would have it, the next few weeks’ worth of sermons covered the book of Jonah. Though I was familiar with his story, Jonah’s experiences with second chances washed over me in a fresh and powerful way. Jonah flat out refused to obey God’s command to preach to the Ninevites. God could have used another prophet to preach His message of coming judgment, but He loved Jonah enough to punish him, leading Jonah to repentance.

Our God gives second chances. He delights in our steps toward the right direction. Furthermore, when He calls us to a task, He will empower us. Philippians 2:13 says, “For it is God who is working in you, enabling you both to desire and to work out His good purpose.” This verse speaks truth in the face of apprehension. Not only does God work in me to accomplish the task, He also enables me to desire to complete it.

So if God is calling you to a specific role, task, or purpose, and you are hesitating to obey, know God delights in your steps toward His calling. Know He will birth the desire to complete it, and above all, He will work it through you for His good purpose and glory.

Love,

Sara Burt, Director of TVBC Women’s Ministry: Thrive

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