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 1/26

a-new-year-thriveIn upcoming weeks, the Thrive ministry at TVBC will present different mentoring options available for our women. Rather than only offering large group bible studies throughout the year, we are also going to include one-on-one bible studies in which women can pair up and work through together at the convenience of their own schedule, as well as mentoring guides to facilitate the Titus 2 commandment found in Scripture (older paired with the younger). Why are we passionate about this? Read the following article for 5 great reasons we should pursue one-on-one discipleship and mentoring. (Sara)

Last week we looked at the importance of one-on-one ministry and some of the key aspects of mentoring. Today, let’s consider five reasons why mentoring is worth incorporating into women’…

Source: 5 Reasons for Mentoring in Women’s Ministry

A New Year: Thrive 1/25

a-new-year-thriveO Lord, our Lord,
    how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory above the heavens.
Out of the mouth of babies and infants,
you have established strength because of your foes,
    to still the enemy and the avenger.

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
    the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
what is man that you are mindful of him,
    and the son of man that you care for him?

Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings[b]
    and crowned him with glory and honor.
You have given him dominion over the works of your hands;
    you have put all things under his feet,
all sheep and oxen,
    and also the beasts of the field,
the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea,
    whatever passes along the paths of the seas.

O Lord, our Lord,
    how majestic is your name in all the earth!

(Psalm 8)

I watched a video once of Louie Giglio describing just how indescribable our God is. (Watch here). In this video we are shown pictures of our galaxy and that which exists beyond our galaxy, giving us a glimpse of how physically small we really are.download

I couldn’t help but come away from seeing those images thinking about how big God is and how insignificant I really seem. My thoughts echoed that of the psalmist above,

what is man that you are mindful of him?

And yet a few verses later, the psalmist described our position, our standing, our worth before our Creator of this cosmos. We are God’s crowning creation. We are given a purpose, to have dominion over that which He created. We bear His image.

In light of the majesty of God and the worthiness of following His calling on my life, how disastrous would it be if I missed His purpose for my life? What if all the good works I am doing fall short of the one work He has called me to, and how do I discern what that is?

missionstatementA group of ladies at TVBC are reading through “What’s Best Next: How the Gospel Transforms the Way You Get Things Done” by Matt Perman during the month of January, and these kinds of questions are the ones we are tackling. Matt suggests we start with writing a Mission Statement that includes our Core Purpose, Core Values, and Core Beliefs. He shows us scriptures that contain examples of those elements and charges us to begin to find our life calling by doing what we are doing with excellence.

In group discussion a few weeks ago, we noted that imitation is the highest form of flattery. With regards to writing our mission statement, this means that as we share our first drafts of mission statements with one another this next week, we have the freedom to borrow ideas and phrases from others as we hear someone beautifully pen a thought we couldn’t quite express ourselves!

A few years ago when I attempted my first mission statement, I did the very same thing. Using scriptures and other examples Matt presents in the book, I drafted my first (seen below). Have you ever written one yourself? Seen a mission statement that stuck with you? If so, will you share your thoughts below?

As the old saying goes, if you aim at nothing you will hit it every time. Let’s be people of eternal purpose as we bear our Creator’s image and fulfill our callings.

Sara Burt

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A New Year: Thrive 1/17

a-new-year-thriveIn November 2013, I (Marilyn) attended a Bible Study in an Assisted Living Center in a small Texas panhandle town. Bob, a 67-year-old resident, was leading a study on Acts 4. As he read the chapter discussing each verse, his passion, knowledge and love of Jesus was evident. Bob, pastor of a tiny church nearby, was not an ordained or trained pastor. Without notes, he taught the lesson from his heart as he shared Luke’s words sprinkled with God-inspired personal insights.

Bob, a humble and simple man who clearly loved Jesus with all his heart and soul; a man who found joy and peace in the challenges of his life; a man whose greatest desire was to serve Jesus and share the gospel in both word and deed — made an impression on my life that day. He challenged me to be BOLD in my faith, to speak out in BOLDNESS, and to share with others.

Thanks to Bob, I no longer ‘just read’ Acts 4 and specifically Acts 4:12. Each time I read or study this scripture, I remember Jesus’ humble servant, Bob, and the passionate love for Jesus that radiated from him as he spoke of the disciples’ sacrifice and Jesus’ gift of salvation.

“Salvation is found in no one else (but Jesus), for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”

(Acts 4:12)

839b6a61932169b592f3044905a1ffbeThank you Lord for crossing my path with Bob’s. May you bless him. May he continue to serve you all his days. May we too BOLDLY share the truth of salvation with the passion and love exemplified so clearly by this simple man named Bob.

Marilyn Hoeth

A New Year: Thrive 1/16

a-new-year-thriveAfter our second session studying “What’s Best Next” by Matt Perman yesterday, I was reminded of when I was first learning Perman’s principles for productivity. The biblical way he approaches “getting organized” forced me to become a disciple again of God’s Word and learn something new for immediate practice. As it goes with most kinds of change, the process was challenging and at times painful. But just as we have read the last few weeks in his book, we are called to be good stewards of our time because we love God and therefore love people. Love and generosity should drive our productivity as well as our daily choices.

A few years ago a friend mommy blogger hosted a blog series, asking women to write entries on varied subjects while including practical tips relevant to their topic (see my original post here). Since I was at the time halfway through the pursuit of a Masters in Theological Studies, she asked me to write one offering tips on going back to school mid-mommyhood. As requested, I included practical tips that had helped me survive (including reading the book “What’s Best Next“!), but I also gave an apologetic for why I had chosen to go back to school in the first place. Below is an excerpt:

“At first thought, it may seem as if going back to school is a decision “for me.” Au contraire. My husband and I are approaching our 13th wedding anniversary, and of those 13 years, he was enrolled in either undergraduate or graduate school for almost a decade.

sara-family-2While there were several very difficult years (we added 4 to our family count in 7 years), I truly enjoyed the innumerable late night conversations as he stretched my brain working out his thoughts. Our little family stood beside him when he graduated with his Masters of Divinity, feeling like we all owned a part of that degree.

Little did I know God was preparing me for my own journey back to school as a homeschooling mom of 4.

Why go back?” “Who will this benefit?”

screen-shot-2017-01-16-at-8-11-59-amFive years ago, my oldest was given a school assignment while studying the medieval time period. The assignment required the family to design and create a family crest. After much discussion (read debate), we all agreed on the following family motto: Amo, Disco, Duco: (I love, I learn, I lead). The motto was birthed out of Matthew 22:36-39 (ESV),

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

If you think about it, these verses drive the desire to be educated. As our love for God grows, we want to know Him more. As we know Him more, our love for Him grows. We know wisdom’s source:

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight” (Proverbs 9:10 ESV).

The Burt family motto, Amo, Disco, Duco merely speaks to the two greatest commandments Jesus provided as the foundation for our existence. In loving God we desire to learn. His love drives us to love and lead others, following in Christ’s footsteps.

Furthermore, do we ever cease to be a disciple? God has called and gifted each of us, empowering us to participate in the Cultural Mandate (Genesis 1:28). This means God is glorified as we cultivate and sharpen the gifts He has graciously given each of us, aiming to influence our culture.”

12359830_10207529807859740_1953154052611412749_nWith the Lord’s help and the never-ending support of my family, I finished the degree half a year later. Yet the journey with discipleship, loving God with my heart, soul, mind, and strength, is a lifelong endeavor.

 

If you are diving into What’s Best Next with Thrive this month, yesterday’s session was a day of many practical tips full of change – which can be challenging. But don’t give up. Take the first steps this week.

  1. Come up with a draft of your mission statement, the declaration of your core purpose that stands true even when your world falls apart.
  2. Next write down a few of your core principles that guide your life.
  3. Finally, jot down your core beliefs including the baseline principle for why you do what you do – the gospel, what God has done for us in Christ.

I can finish this post the same way I finished the guest blog for my friend:

“Bottom line – women rock. You can do this and even enjoy the process! Above all, God will be glorified as you love Him with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. So buy some frozen dinners, brew a cup of coffee, and dive in.”

A New Year: Thrive 1/3

a-new-year-thriveHeritage of Faithfulness

The beginning of each New Year is a chance to look back over the past year and reminisce. For me it is a great time to look back and remember how you arrived at the place you are today. One of my favorite scripture passages is found in the book of Hebrews, Chapter 11. Hebrews 11 is sometimes called the Faithfulness Hall of Fame. The chapter is filled with stories about men and women who were faithful to God’s calling: Abraham, Jacob, Moses, Rahab, David and many others are included. When I read Hebrews 11 I can’t help but marvel at the rich heritage of faithfulness we all come from. Furthermore, my lineage of faithfulness continues from the 1st Century Church all the way to my parents who introduced me to Christ. The stories of many of those generations are not recorded anywhere and those that were, lost. However, faithfulness must have continued in order to bring me where I am now.

My mother spent many weekends at the Treadway family farm, and there a strong love for Jesus was instilled in her by my great-grandmother, Granny Treadway. When my mother grew up she took over where Granny left off and poured her love for Christ into my sisters and me. All of my childhood memories of Granny are of an old fragile woman whose mind was broken by Alzheimer, but as an adult I have come to know her as a pillar of my faith.

On my other familial side, my father is a first generation believer. As a teenager, his sister decided to go to church and take her little brother with her. There, he met Jesus. As an adult he was intentional and diligent in ensuring his children grew up in church together as a family. He found older men to mentor him in godly living and child rearing. As a child, I did not always appreciate his godly discipline, but now I know he was building a foundation for me that would stand forever.

So that is my heritage of faithfulness passed down from men and women who loved God, beginning with Noah and Abraham to my parents. Now, after you read chapter 11 in Hebrews, you have to continue and read Hebrews 12:1 which says,

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.

Therefore, since Abraham, Moses, John, Paul and many unnamed others passed down their faith, I should too.

Therefore, since a grandmother in the 60’s and 70’s poured her love for Christ into a little girl, I too should pour my love of Christ into others.

Therefore, since a man chose to change forever the destiny of his family by following Jesus and teaching his children to do the same, I should too.

That is my legacy and those are my witnesses to follow. I know each of you have your own marvelous stories of faithfulness in your lives. I challenge you at the beginning of this New Year to recall your heritage of faithfulness. Then go run your race so you can take your place in the next generation’s great cloud of witnesses.

Dannyelle Turner

 

 

A New Year: Thrive 1/2

a-new-year-thriveFear and Hope

As we begin another New Year, many uncertainties tend to cross our minds. Some can even cause great concern and fear of what is to come. Let us go to God’s Word for some encouraging words. First, what does Job have to say? He certainly faced many hard times.

“But as for me, I would seek God, and to God I would commit my cause, who does great things, and unsearchable, marvelous things without number.”

“He sets on high those who are lovely, and those who mourn are lifted to safety. He frustrates the devices of the crafty, so that their hands achieve no success.”

“But He saves the needy from the sword of their mouth and from the hand of the mighty, so the poor have hope, and injustice shut her mouth.”

(Job 5:8, 9, 11, 12, 15, 16 ESV)

Isaiah also had encouraging words appropriate for the New Year.

“But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”

(Isaiah 40:31 ESV).

May the New Year fill you with God’s hope and blessings and may you “mount up like an eagle.”

Kathleen Holland

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