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Blog 2021
Warapungamonday.wordpress.com

Week 52 to Week 1 of 2021

Who walks when you walk in darkness?

Chapter 52

Good Monday Morning to this week 52 of 2021

The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light; they that dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined. Isaiah 9:2

Let’s look at this passage of Isaiah 9.

I love the idea of prophecies referring to a future event in the past tense; not because the event has necessarily happened, but because its occurrence is concrete. There is a finality and certainty to it. It is as if it’s already taken place.

And I love the idea that the future tense of what Jesus will be called isn’t so much an event of the future, but a continuing event of past, present and future. 

Who walks when you walk in darkness?

Who walks when you walk in darkness?
Who stands straight?
Who treads firm?
Who lives in the 
true meaning of the word?

All fade away.
There is no trust
No solid ground.
No resting place,
No journey’s end.

There is no quiet,
No sense of peace,
No sight to guide,
No knowledge to lead.

I ask, who walks when you walk in darkness?

But now, a light has come,
The day has dawned,
The brilliance of the Holy One
Has shone upon the earth.

An heir is born,
A kinsman lives,
A child of ancient promise
Has arrived.

He holds the crown of David
And wears the robe of Solomon,
But as lord of both
He sits.

No dominion endures before him,
No war prevails against him.
No darkness can diminish him
And no depth can consume him.

For the LORD has given him all things,
That he may free the nations.
He loves the ways of justice
And his kingdom of light is eternal.

Wishing you a great start to this last week of 2021 , a transition and expectation
of the new year to come.

Philemon


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POSTED ONDECEMBER 19, 2021EDIT”REMEMBER AND RETURN”

Remember and Return

Good Monday Morning to this week 51 of 2021

All the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the LORD: and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before thee. Psalm 22.27

Have you ever been to Palau? Or do you have Palau on your bucket list? It would be a good idea, the island is subjected to sea level rise that threatens low-lying coastal infrastructure, including schools and transportation, as well as ecosystems and cultural sites.

Palau is a country in the western Pacific Ocean somewhat at the end of the world!
It consists of some 340 coral and volcanic islands perched on the Kyushu-Palau Ridge. The Palau archipelago lies in the southwest corner of Micronesia, with Guam 1,300 to the northeast, Papua New Guinea 650 km to the south, and the Philippines 890 km to the west.

Reading in the magazine of PMA (Pacific Mission Aviation) that both my Mum and Dad were involved in over many years, I see and read some of the urgency that is mentioned in Psalm 22 mentioned above. The Psalm begins abruptly; My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me: a disturbing scene: someone who knows and trusts God is forsaken and cries out to God in agony.

The Cambridge Bible put it this way:
There was a knowledge of God, to which the nations might attain through the witness of His works without and the witness of conscience within. But they ‘forgot Him’ and turned away from Him to idols of their own imagination. But one day they will ‘remember’ and ‘return.’

Martin Luther wrote to this Psalm:
This is a kind of gem among the Psalms and is peculiarly excellent and remarkable. It contains those deep, sublime, and heavy sufferings when agonizing in the midst of the terrors and pangs of divine wrath and death which surpass all human thought and comprehension.

Then after vers 21 something changes, it’s the last: Hasten to help me…

After pouring out his soul in agony, now the Forsaken One has a glorious sense that God has answered Him. The crisis became bearable in the knowledge that God is not removed from His suffering nor silent in it. The deliverance from the crisis itself may be yet to come, but the deliverance from the sense of being forsaken by God in the midst of the crisis was his.

For He has not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; Nor has He hidden His face from him; But when he cried to him, he heard.

The poor shall eat and be satisfied: If God shows such faithfulness to the afflicted, there is hope for the poor. The good God will take care of the poor who trust Him and seek Him. The faithfulness of God to the Forsaken One becomes a foundation for His faithfulness to others in need, such as the poor.

This Psalm 22 shows us much of God in Jesus coming to this world, with a special highlight on the group of those that would “remember and return to the Lord”.

Let’s take this thought into these Christmas days.

Remember and return!

Wishing you a blessed start to this week!

Philemon

POSTED ONDECEMBER 12, 2021EDIT”I THIRST”

I thirst

Chapter 50

Good Monday Morning to this week 50 of 2021

Behold, I send an angel before you to guard you on the way and to bring you to the place that I have prepared. Exodus 23.20

Let’s give this interpretation an attempt, today using an old joke.

A man is walking alone in the desert, his camel has run away with water and food.
After a while, he sees a merchant. He approaches him and says:
Water, please, do you have me some water?
Sorry, Sir, I don’t have water, I only sell ties!

Then the man resumes his road, he is more and more tired and the sun shines high in the sky. A few hours later the man sees a second merchant. Dying of thirst he walks towards him on his knees. And he says to him: Please Sir, I need water… please!
Again this man answers, sorry I only sell ties.

So, the man gets on his way. Half an hour later he came across a third merchant. The man moves forward with difficulty (he crawls) and says breathlessly:

Water…I…beg…you…water!

Oh, sorry my good man, I only sell ties. But a little further, in this direction, there is a bistro where you can get water to drink.

Thank you… Thank you very much!

So the man continues in the direction of the bistro, five minutes later he finally sees the bistro, he starts to run and finally arrives at the entrance of the bar, he practically collapses on the counter and asks:

Waiter, water, water please, I desperately need to drink.

And the waiter answers him:

Sorry sir but here we only serve those who have ties on!

Why did the camel run away, to begin with?
Why were there three merchants on the way, trying to sell ties?
Where exactly was the place that was prepared for him?
Which one of the three merchants was the angel?

We begin this week with a riddle, yet we are not clueless, nor are we lost!
There are provisions on the way, there are signposts, there are angles, the question is if we recognize them!

Wishing you a good morning.
Philemon

POSTED ONDECEMBER 6, 2021EDIT”I HAD A DREAM”

I had a dream

Chapter 49

Good Monday Morning to this week 49 of 2021

The king said to them,
“I had a dream, and I’m troubled by it. I want to know what the dream was.”

I had a dream. I had a dream of a GP, of a General Practitioner. This
man lived out in a subdivision of Lome. Around his cabinet were a few homes,
a football field, a few kiosks, a few clothes shops and many motorbikes
that would pass around his place on the red road in front of his entry.
Let’s call the GP Jean. Jean came to the entry, close to his customer stopper
with a big poster on it offering his services, looking out to the soccer field
while greeting Marie as she passed with a lot of cosmetic products on her head,
greeting him with a big smile. How are you children asks Jean, thanks they are
all well replies Marie.

Jean looks back at his poster, he thinks of the many services he has offered. All
three pregnancies, all the checkups and even two of the three children he delivered
with a midwife right in his little cabinet out in Agoé. Jean smiles as he thinks of these
kids, this family and looks over to the soccer field and then over to the school behind the field. Jean also remembers the last child and the rush to the hospital with both mother and
child being in great danger.

Jean smiles, and then he frowns, he is troubled. What will become of these children?
Of course, he has often blessed the families and the children with the verse from Isaiah

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.

Jean is even reminded of the Message and how well he gets the meaning of the verse

I’ll show up and take care of you as I promised and bring you back home. I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.

Or the Jewish approach;

For I know what plans I have in mind for you,’ says Adonai,

Or the Voice which ends with a very nice little command;

 For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Eternal, “plans for peace, not evil, to give you a future and hope—never forget that.

These passages give him hope, fill his mind and heart with deep satisfaction, knowing that the God he knows is able to do this and will prepare a home for him somewhere yonder.

Back to Jean standing at the entry of his cabinet, his heart and mind are at peace, but his spirit is troubled. He is reminded of Jesus going through cities and villages and finally speaks to his disciples:

When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few;  therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest.”

Jean is still deeply in thought of all these passages as a young man passes by on the road, while he’s knocking on a piece of wood. Hey, what’s it you’re selling today? The man on the road turns and shows him the empty bag. Oh, remarks Jean, why this – why is your bag empty? I’ve sold all my candies and many other things, my bag is empty but what I have now is worth so much more, because I had a dream last night. I had a dream that I would stop selling candies. Every time someone stops to buy something after them hearing the sound, I will stop, I will sit down with them and talk to them about their past and speak to them about their future. I will start to help them to build a vision for their life.

Jean went back to his desk, got out a big marker, quickly went out the poster on the road
and added one more service to his list, right after the “check-up” he wrote:

New Life Vision

The man on the street is touched, excited and walks straight to the next seamstress
and gets the same title sown onto his backpack. New life Vision!

Jean goes back to his cabinet, drinks some Vitale water and lets the next mother with her kids in. Again all three have a cough to which he has some medication, but the words on his lips are the ones he just took in from the encounter with the young man outside.

New Life Vision. For I know what plans I have in mind for you,’ says Adonai!

Wishing you a good start to this week.
Philemon



POSTED ONNOVEMBER 28, 2021EDIT”BELONGING”

Belonging

Chapter 48

Good Monday Morning to this week 48 of 2021

It’s been a day full of many impressions, smiles, talks, blessings, prayers and much more.
What a priviledge to be back in Lomé with the La Vigne churches, Nouvelle Perspective and the many friends I have and know here.

Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other.
Out of Romans 12

I’m touched by deep spirituality and faithful comittment I see and experience here in Lomé. This morning I spoke about this passage. On a side note I mentioned that when someone is blind it’s amazing how the other senses are activated and “jump” in to compensate the loss of sight.

Back in the car, my friend mentions, there will be a musician in the afternoon program that is blind. He’s a great musician and greatly helped us transition through a period of loss.

Much later in the day I got to hear his talent on the keyboard and even got to greet him.
As we talked a little a sentence followed that touched me deeply, and think I’ll never forget.

I remember you Philemon! You used to come visit us when were still at the other building.

This little sentence spoke to me deeply.

Yes we belong to each other!

You might be out there alone, thinking no one see’s you, cares about you. But in the spiritual
realm there is a belonging, there is a spiritual mystery in being one, belonging, being one part of a whole, of something complete.

Wishing you a blessed start to this week!
Philemon

POSTED ONNOVEMBER 21, 2021EDIT”A FEW THOUGHTS TO THE FUTURE OF THE CHURCH”

A few thoughts to the future of the Church

Chapter 47

Good Monday Morning to this week 47 of 2021

Reading an article called, The Church of the future, I found a
a very helpful passage.

I did a quick and incomplete translation out of the German passage.
Einführung in die Evangelische Theologie U. Schnelle

The Church must be a spiritual Church,
one that is indebted to the Spirit and gives space to the
the creative Spirit of God, because the creative Spirit of God is the Spirit of life.

This, “Spirit” is by no means simply the uncontrollable, spectacular seizure by an incalculable power. Rather, the term “spirit” is to be differentiated and concretised in three different terms.

Pneuma, (breath of life)
Nous (reason, intellect or intelligence)
Logos (word, speech)

All three Greek terms are closely related to each other (cf. Romans 12:3-8) and yet
set their own accents and significance.

Pneuma; is the Spirit in the fullest sense”,
which is our being shaped and being gripped
holistically by the entire existence, the breath of God.
Pneuma makes it clear that there is a
deeper spiritual experience that moves and blows far beyond words.

Nous; as reason, intelligence
and insight by the Spirit. This
intellectual dimension of the
of spiritual activity is more and more relevant.
The general, accessible and rational
perception of self and the world, along
with critical consideration and judgement, lead
by Gods Spirit is greatly needed within the Church.

Logos; as “speech, power of thought and spirit”
represents the rhetorical and pedagogical
presentation of the word of the cross and the word of reconciliation.
and shows its priority and deliberate focus.

The Spirit is seen as a transforming
power, as knowledge and power of speech, the representation
a divine gift, which experiences its highest
form in the presence and inhabitancy of love.

In summary,
The level of experience, the level of thought and the level of representation of the Spirit,
build a holistic vocation and calling of our human existence as a Gods creation. Being open to all dimensions of the Spirit of God is a door, a path, a direction to the future of the Church.

Wishing us all a good and blessed start to this week as we wrestle with the implications of the questions of the cooperate future along with our personal calling within the Church.

Philemon

POSTED ONNOVEMBER 14, 2021EDIT”THE HEART ASKS”

The heart asks

Chapter 46

Good Monday Morning to this week 46 of 2021

Moreover, I will give you a new heart. I will put a new spirit within you. I will remove the stony heart from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Ruach within you. Then I will cause you to walk in My laws, so you will keep My rulings and do them. Then you will live in the land that I gave to your fathers. You will be My people and I will be your God.
Ezekiel 36 26-28

Yesterday evening I was reminded by an old friend of my dad how greatly he was inspired by Martin Loyd Jones while doing training in London. Yes, I remember a lot later of all the books still on my Dads bookshelf. Maybe it influenced my theology as well!

In one of Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones sermons “A new Heart,” he elaborates : Man’s greatest need is not that he should become wealthy or emotionally fulfilled. Man’s greatest need is to be made right with God.

David Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899–1981) was a Welsh Protestant minister and medical doctor who was influential in the Calvinist wing of the British evangelical movement in the 20th century. For almost 30 years, he was the minister of Westminster Chapel in London.

This is something that happens to you: it is God dealing with you, and God acting upon you by His Spirit; it is something you become aware of rather than what you do.  It is thrust upon you; it is presented to you and almost forced upon you constantly in this way.

It is a kingdom which is to come, yes.  But it is also a kingdom which has come. “The kingdom of God is among you” and “within you.”  The kingdom of God is in every true Christian.  He reigns in the Church when she acknowledges Him truly.  The kingdom has come, the kingdom is coming, the kingdom is yet to come.  Now we must always bear that in mind.  Whenever Christ is enthroned as King, the kingdom of God is come, so that, while we cannot say that He is ruling overall in the world at the present time, He is certainly ruling in that way in the hearts and lives of all His people

The ultimate test of our spirituality is the measure of our amazement at the grace of God.

We must come back to the soul and to God who made it. We were made for Him, we are meant for Him, we have a correspondence with Him, and we will never come to rest until, like that needle on the compass, we strike that northern point, and there we come to rest – nowhere else.

Our supreme need, our only need, is to know God, the living God, and the power of His might. We need nothing else. It is just that, the power of the living God, to know that the living God is among us and that nothing else matters… I say, forget everything else. Forget everything else. We need to realize the presence of the living God amongst us. Let everything else be silent. This is no time for minor differences. We all need to know the touch of the power of the living God.

Wishing you an inspiring as you continue to know this God along with the mystery of Him living in us.

Philemon 

POSTED ONNOVEMBER 8, 2021EDIT”NARROW SPACES MADE WIDE”

Narrow spaces made wide

Chapter 45

Good Monday Morning to this new week.

These last weeks have been filled with questions, reflections, even some riddles. Here is one concept that makes narrow spaces wider!

Faith

Faith is reason grown courageous.

You can do very little with faith, but you can do nothing without it.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

And without faith, it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.

Faith is a knowledge within the heart, beyond the reach of proof.

Then Jesus answered her, ‘O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.’ And her daughter was healed instantly.

To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible.

Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies.

Faith is the bird that sings when the dawn is still dark.

Faith is to believe what you do not see; the reward of this faith is to see what you believe.

The smallest seed of faith is better than the largest fruit of happiness.

Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.

Life without faith in something is too narrow a space to live.

Faith is not something to grasp, it is a state to grow into.

For we walk by faith, not by sight.

Wishing you a good start to this new week!
Philemon

POSTED ONOCTOBER 31, 2021EDIT”A LION A BEAR AND A SNAKE”

A lion a bear and a snake

Chapter 44

Good Monday Morning to this week 44 of 2021

Do you remember the proverb from Amos 5. 19?

A man was attacked by a lion. By sheer accident, he was able to save himself, but then a bear ran at him. Again he escaped. With the last of his strength, he made it to his house and just barely slammed the heavy door in the bear’s face. Gasping for breath, he leaned his hands against the wall—and a snake bit him. The bite was fatal.

What could this be about? Is the meaning really obvious? Our worst enemies are not outside, they are in our own house? Or is it about our shadows? Or is it temptation that keeps returning? Or is the day of the Lord at hand, as many say?

Wow, this little passage ist is extreme!

Gerhard Lohfink … first gives the parable to many of his students – then makes an attempt to put it into context …

It has to do something about the “Day of the LORD,” the crucial phrase that frames and dominates the parable. Amos is using the parable to explain to his hearers in the Northern Kingdom of Israel what the “Day of the LORD ” means for them. Before war and deportation overtook them the people of the Northern Kingdom lived in fragile security. Their economic situation was good. The rich were getting richer all the time and exploiting the poor. Pompous worship services were celebrated, along with lavish feasts. The political situation was heating up. The people expected God to defeat their enemies, as on the “day of Midian”. For them, that was a day on which God had intervened, a day when God had rescued Israel from its foes. Now they were longing for such another “Day of the LORD .” But the prophet levels that expectation to the ground. The “Day of the LORD ” the people are wishing for will look completely different. Embedded in the prophecy of woe stands the parable of the futile flight. There is no salvation any longer for the people of the Northern Kingdom!

The discussion group then debated for a long time about how open to a variety of interpretations an isolated parable text standing by itself can be. Only the literary context or oral commentary or the actual situation in which a parable is spoken can establish its meaning without a doubt. For that very reason, Amos gave his parable a frame—the “Day of the LORD .”

After this figurative indication of the sufferings and calamities which the day of the Lord will bring, Amos once more repeats in v. 20, in a still more emphatic manner, that it will be no day of salvation, to those who seek evil and not good and trample justice and righteousness.

What is your interpretation?

So many people are talking about this day, calamity coming as the day of the Lord. What if the warning is not about the day of the Lord as a day of losing salvation or redemption, but the day of the Lord is when it’s about those not about seeking justice, but instead about trampling on the less privileged and causing injustice? For many, the bite of injustice is indeed fateful.

The encouragement today is as we had it the other day out of Micah:

To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God!

Wishing you a good start to this week.
Philemon

POSTED ONOCTOBER 31, 2021EDIT”MOUNTAINS”

Mountains


Chapter 39

Good Monday Morning to this week 39 of 2021

In deep thought and awe I sit here in front of large mountain. The mountain is formed like a volcano. As the day passes by, so do the many different variations of clouds, colors and weather patterns. In front of the mountain is a lake and this lake reflects much of what is happening around the mountain. The lake specifically shows the wind and waves and adds to the beauty of the scenery.

Mountains are something we all have in common, we mostly have some connection to, or have experience with them in one way or another. So it was with the writers of the Bible. It’s very common imagary to many of the writers, from prophets to kings. Here a few to meditate this morning.

How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!”

Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the LORD, who has compassion on you.

In the last days the mountain of the LORD’s temple will be established as the highest of the mountains; it will be exalted above the hills, and peoples will stream to it.

In the last days the mountain of the LORD’s temple will be established as the highest of the mountains; it will be exalted above the hills, and peoples will stream to it.

He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the whole world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.

 I lift up my eyes to the mountains— where does my help come from?  My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.

After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone.

For the LORD is the great God, the great King above all gods.  In his hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to him. 

Quotes from Isaiah, Micah, Mark, Matthew, David, Jesus

Wishing you a great start to this new week.

Philemon

POSTED ONOCTOBER 25, 2021EDIT”FREEDOM”

Freedom

Chapter 43

Good Monday Afternoon to this week 43 of 2021

Acts 3:21 says that God’s ultimate goal is the “restoration of all things.” We hear so much about freedom of choice, of body, of government and much more, that motivates me to look a little behind or around this topic of freedom.

A few thoughts from Art Lindsley.

Throughout human history, people of all cultures have sought freedom. Some have emphasized inner spiritual or emotional freedom, and others freedom from external restraints (such as slavery or political freedom). Hindus seek an experience of oneness with the universe that frees them from the illusion of this world of distinction. Buddhists seek enlightenment that involves a detachment from desiring anything in this world. Atheists want to be free from the constraints of any objective moral rules.
In the political arena, there are a variety of liberation theologies. Gustavo Gutiérrez wrote his Theology of Liberation with a focus on the political and economic situation in Latin America. James Cone wrote A Black Theology of Liberation to develop a black theology that identified with the oppressed. Others have developed feminist liberation theology that focuses on cultural problems that have limited women’s freedom. Most of the above perspectives involve freedom from constraints but are not clear about what the liberated situation would look like. 

Many people in our culture believe freedom to be a lack of norms, rules, or laws restraining us from doing what we want to do or be.

In the Old Testament, freedom was primarily freedom from slavery.

This freedom was often referenced in the prophets. Jesus’s inaugural sermon echoed this theme from Isaiah 61:1

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
Because the Lord has anointed me
To bring good news to the afflicted;
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives,
and freedom to the prisoners

There is a consistent thread through the Old Testament pointing to the need for inner and spiritual renewal.

The predominant note of the New Testament is not political freedom but freedom in Christ from bondage to sin, the Law, the old man, and death. It is not that political freedom or freedom from slavery was unimportant but that there was even deeper bondage that had to be overcome first of all. The problem is that even if you were politically free you could still be in bondage.

The emphasis of the New Testament is not political, economic, or religious freedom. However, there is a sense in which we can say, as we saw in the Old Testament, that new inner freedom eventually leads to consequences in the outer world.
Jesus did not fight, as some expected the Messiah to do, for a violent revolutionary overthrow of the Romans.

The inner freedom Christ came to bring has often been the garden out of which other freedoms grow.

Redemption, above all, applies to all of life. Not only are we redeemed from our sin (personal), but we are brought into a new community.

In conclusion

Freedom is not autonomy or doing what you feel like doing without any constraints.

Freedom involves a structure that allows us to be free to be what we are created to be.

Freedom is within the context of Law. The moral Law of Jesus gives us a guide to know how to live and to love.

We are truly free when we know the truth about ourselves and the world. This means throwing off the lies and deceptions to which we are so often captive.

Inner renewal often leads to outer consequences and renewal of the land.

The Bible doesn’t prescribe one type of government but freedom (political, economic, and religious) is consistent with (not contradictory to) the Bible.

Inner freedom inevitably drives toward outer freedom. Inner and outer freedoms are the most ideal state for human beings (Micah 4:4).

God will establish justice in the rabble of nations and settle disputes in faraway places.
They’ll trade in their swords for shovels, their spears for rakes and hoes.
Nations will quit fighting each other quit learning how to kill one another.
Each man will sit under his own shade tree, each woman in safety will tend her own garden.
When God says so, he means what he says.

Wishing you a good week with much of that inner freedom!

Philemon

POSTED ONOCTOBER 18, 2021EDIT”UNDONE”

Undone


Chapter 42

Good Monday Morning to this week 42 of 2021

Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.

In the last five years of writing this blog these short Monday Messages we have mourned very many loved ones from teenagers to parents and many other loved ones. I sometimes sent out a message tackling some theological issue or even some political issue – to later find out that you were mourning the passing of a loved one.

I started writing 2016 after the passing of my Mum. Now I write today with the passing of Dad last week. Unexpected, in sort of rush, quickly he left us last Tuesday. His life was well lived, always ready for change and a new beginning. Now he started the next journey to a place he preached about all his life, actually his last sermon is only 4 weeks back.

We don’t only mourn our loved ones. We mourn homes, jobs, relationships, friendships, old times, youth, strength and much more.

As you realise, the best book I read this year was the biography of Eugene Peterson, yet even better than his biography is the paraphrased Bible he wrote: The Message. Also this verse takes on much more meaning or new aspects of the whole verse and idea of Jesus.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Matthew 5.4 NIV

You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you. The Message

Jamieson Brown puts it this way in his commentary;

This “mourning” must not be taken loosely for that feeling under pressure of the ills of life, nor for sorrow on account of failure. Evidently it is that entire feeling which the sense of our spiritual poverty “having lost what is dear to us” and so the second beatitude is but the complement of the first. The one is the intellectual, the other the emotional aspect of the same thing. It is part of our spirit that says, “I am undone”. Faith according to these verses, is neither a set of intellectual convictions nor a bundle of emotional feelings, but a compound of both. These two beatitudes cohere. The mourners shall be “comforted.” Even now they get beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness. Sowing in tears, they reap even here in joy. Still, all present comfort, even the best, is partial, interrupted, short-lived. But the days of our mourning shall soon be ended, and then God shall wipe away all tears from our eyes. Then, in the fullest sense, shall the mourners be “comforted.”

You too may feel undone this morning.

May you be embraced by the One most dear to you!

Philemon


POSTED ONOCTOBER 11, 2021EDIT”RIVER OF LIFE”

River of Life


Good Monday afternoon to this week 41 of 2021

Greatly motivated by a quote about prayer I read last week I will continue with three more of Teresa of Avila (28.03.1515-15.10.1582)

A Carmelite nun, prominent Spanish mystic, religious reformer, author, theologian of the contemplative life and of mental prayer, she earned the rare distinction of being declared a Doctor of the Church, but not until over four centuries after her death.

Teresa, who had been a social celebrity in her home province, was dogged by early family losses and ill health. In her mature years, she became the central figure of a movement of spiritual and monastic renewal .

First Quote

In a state of grace, the soul is like a well of limpid water, from which flow only streams of clearest crystal. Its works are pleasing both to God and man, rising from the River of Life, beside which it is rooted like a tree.

Second Quote

God gave us faculties for our use; each of them will receive its proper reward. Then do not let us try to charm them to sleep, but permit them to do their work until divinely called to something higher.

Third Quote

May today there be peace within. May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be. May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith. May you use those gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you. May you be content knowing you are a child of God. Let this presence settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love. It is there for each and every one of us.

Wishing you a start of peace and faith into this new week!

Philemon

POSTED ONOCTOBER 4, 2021EDIT”CAKE”

Cake

Chapter 40

Good Monday Morning to this week 40 of 2021

Who baked the first cake in the Bible?

Rachel
Rebekah
Miriam
Sarah

And Abraham went quickly into the tent to Sarah and said, “Quick! Three seahs of fine flour! Knead it, and make cakes.

When the three men had accepted the hospitable invitation, Abraham, just like a Bedouin sheikh of the present day, directed his wife to take three seahs of fine meal, and back cakes of it as quickly as possible (round unleavened cakes baked upon hot stones). The eating of material food on the part of these heavenly beings was not in appearance only, but was really eating; an act which may be attributed to the corporeality assumed, and is to be regarded as analogous to the eating on the part of the risen and glorified Christ

Were these three “men” angelic beings who appeared to Abraham in the form of men. However, Genesis 18:1 says that it was “the LORD” (Yahweh) who appeared to Abraham. It is the LORD who speaks other verses as Abraham stands “before the LORD” in verse 22. So, one of the three “men” must have been God Almighty taking on the appearance of a man. But it does seem clear from the context that one of the visitors was God Himself.

Abraham’s response to the appearance of the three men also suggests that he instinctively knew that he was in the presence of God. A typical response to visitors in that culture was to rise and wait for them to approach the home. But Abraham ran to meet them and “bowed low to the ground,” a prostrate posture reserved for royalty or deity.

Abraham was well acquainted with the LORD and would have instantly recognized Him, because the Lord had spoken and/or appeared to him many times before.

These three visitors whom Abraham entertained were heavenly, and Abraham and Sarah were in the company of God Himself. The story teaches us that God is aware of what is happening on earth, and He is involved. God can even visit or send His heavenly messengers to help fulfil His plans.

The next time you’re asked to bake a cake …
Who know’s to what divine occasion you are baking it for!

Wishing you a good start to this week!

Philemon

POSTED ONSEPTEMBER 27, 2021EDIT”MOUNTAINS”

Mountains


Chapter 39

Good Monday Morning to this week 39 of 2021

In deep thought and awe I sit here in front of large mountain. The mountain is formed like a volcano. As the day passes by, so do the many different variations of clouds, colors and weather patterns. In front of the mountain is a lake and this lake reflects much of what is happening around the mountain. The lake specifically shows the wind and waves and adds to the beauty of the scenery.

Mountains are something we all have in common, we mostly have some connection to, or have experience with them in one way or another. So it was with the writers of the Bible. It’s very common imagary to many of the writers, from prophets to kings. Here a few to meditate this morning.

How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!”

Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the LORD, who has compassion on you.

In the last days the mountain of the LORD’s temple will be established as the highest of the mountains; it will be exalted above the hills, and peoples will stream to it.

In the last days the mountain of the LORD’s temple will be established as the highest of the mountains; it will be exalted above the hills, and peoples will stream to it.

He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the whole world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.

 I lift up my eyes to the mountains— where does my help come from?  My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.

After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone.

For the LORD is the great God, the great King above all gods.  In his hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to him. 

Quotes from Isaiah, Micah, Mark, Matthew, David, Jesus

Wishing you a great start to this new week.

Philemon

POSTED ONSEPTEMBER 19, 2021EDIT”WAYS OF HEART”

Ways of Heart


Chapter 38

Good Monday Morning to this week 38 of 2021

…. and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6.8

Last week I left out this very important part of the verse out.
Not sure why, probably because I was so focused on the selective justice part.
But, oh yes, how important these ways of heart that Micah writes of are!

…. to walk humbly with thy God!

Micah is a master poet filled with metaphors, similes, wordplay and symbolic imagery. Micah judiciously balances oracles of judgment and oracles of redemption, with a uniquely clear view of the sovereign grace of God, and of the origin and divine nature of the coming Messiah. On this occasion, Micah is looking over the hills of Judah from the city of Moresheth to the Philistine cities. He knows of the kings of Judah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah and was active until 728 BC. Micah’s message of judgment is interspersed with words of hope!
In the end, judgment would be replaced by the Lord’s grace, unfailing love, faithfulness, forgiveness, pardon, and compassion. Israel would be restored and renewed, and God would fulfill his promise! In a time of turmoil, dishonesty, division and imminent horror, he warned the people in ways of heart.

…. and to walk humbly with thy God!

The “walk” metaphor is used often in Scripture to describe the overall direction one’s life is heading. Walking in the way of the Lord or walking the light are two examples. This poetic picture envisions a comfortable relationship of presence with God and a life that fits into that path. For walking with God there must be communion, based in love, and resulting in imitation. And that communion must be constant and run through all of our lives.

another beautiful analogy:
“to live continually grasping the hand of God, and conscious of His overshadowing wing at all moments at every step of the walk.”

The Message is a little less poetic but very pragmatic:
.. and don’t take yourself too seriously— take God seriously!

The adverb “humbly” moves us away from arrogance and the egocentric need to always be better than others, to the simple acceptance of the gifts that God has placed within us. A famous hymn gets in a nutshell:

When we walk with Him, He abides with us!

Wishing you a good start to this week!

Philemon



POSTED ONSEPTEMBER 19, 2021EDIT”JUSTICE IS NOT SELECTIVE”

Justice is not selective


Chapter 37

Good Monday Morning to this week 37 of 2021

Micah 6:8 “What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness!

I think it’s important that people take this opportunity to really expound on things like equality, inclusion, diversity. These words need to become transformed into our lives in a relative way that they are applicable, that we are actually working it, that people can actually say well if this is what I believe, if I truly believe in equality, if I truly believe in justice for all, it is justice for all, not justice that is selective, because … a justice that is selective … is an oxymoron, that’s not justice at all. Rev. Mykal Slack, Congregational Life

A challenging quote in a time of much division and much injustice.

Wishing you peace and kindness and clarity to see God’s justice this week!

Philemon

POSTED ONSEPTEMBER 5, 2021EDIT”WE RISE”

We rise

Chapter 36

Good Monday Morning to this week 36 of 2021

Stood alone on a mountain top, starin’ down. I could go east, I could go west, it was all up to me to decide. Just then I saw a young hawk flyin’ and my soul began to rise. B Seger

This Saturday I got two messages from two friends. Both were within one hour from each other and contained their current observation of hawks. One was a video showing a hawk, circling wildly around a few trees that were in great motion because of the wind. The second was an observation of four, then three then two hawks coming from the bushes. The four birds rose, then one left, three returned, finally two remained and were engaged in a fight or struggle right above the observers head very near an open field where the person observed.

If it’s wild to your own heart, protect it, preserve it, love it and fight for it. Dedicate yourself to it, whether it’s a mountain range, an activity or a relationship. It doesn’t matter if it’s wild to anyone else: if it’s what makes your heart sing if it’s what makes your days soar like a hawk in the summertime, then focus on it. Because for sure, it’s wild, and if it’s wild, it’ll mean you’re still free. R. Bass

But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles, they shall run and not be weary, and they shall walk and not faint. Isaiah 40.31

In the Barnes Commentary, I quote: But they that wait upon the Lord – The word denotes properly to wait, in the sense of expecting. The phrase, ‘to wait on Yahweh,’ means to wait for his help; that is, to trust in him, to put our hope or confidence in him. Shall renew their strength or to change. The Hebrew word commonly means to change, to alter; and then to revive, to renew, to cause to flourish again. They shall mount up with wings as eagles – ‘They shall put forth fresh feathers like the moulting eagle;’ and in his note on the passage remarks, that ‘it has been a common and popular opinion that the eagle lives and retains his vigour to a great age; and that, beyond the common lot of other birds, he moults in his old age, and renews his feathers, and with them his youth. ’So that thy youth is renewed like the eagles,’ refers to this fact a common and popular opinion among the ancients. The opinion was, that at stated times the eagle plunged itself in the sea and cast off its old feathers, and that new feathers started forth, and that thus it lived often to the hundredth year, explaining the meaning of ‘They shall put forth fresh feathers like eagles.

Let us rise to the challenges of this week – with the rising wind of God and the fresh feathers of faith!

Philemon

POSTED ONAUGUST 29, 2021EDIT”BUILT BY ANGLES”

Built by Angles

Chapter 35

Good Monday Morning to this week 35 of 2021

Instead, you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to myriads of angels, a festive gathering. Hebrews 12.22

In recent weeks, the TPLF forces have captured the town of Lalibela, in the northern Amhara region, the site of a cluster of some of Christianity’s oldest houses of worship. The Lalibela churches were carved by medieval Ethiopian Christians as an alternative pilgrimage site to Jerusalem. 

The Lalibela churches take their form, placement, and orientation from both geological features and structures within the complex. While precise dating for the complex and its components has yet to be determined, scholars generally agree that it was constructed in four or five phases between the seventh and thirteenth centuries. Ethiopian tradition ascribes the whole construction to the reign of King Gebre Mesqel Lalibela (r. ca. 1181–1221).

Each of the 11 monolithic structures is dramatically stamped into the mountainous landscape, plunging 40 to 50m into the Earth and pierced with cross-shaped chiselled openings to let sunlight into the hollowed-out interior.

According to the writings of the saints, they were carved over a period of twenty-four years with the assistance of angels.

It is true that each preserved monument ‘speaks for itself. But unfortunately, it speaks in a language that the average visitor cannot comprehend. Beauty and the majesty of natural forces need no interlocutor. Tilden

The mount Zion is frequently described as the dwelling-place of God. Likewise, the heavenly Jerusalem is called the city of the living God, not so much because he,  the living and acting God be the architect, but because He has His throne there. So is it’s no longer so far removed of a thought that he would send his angles from the court of heaven to assist the King of Lalibela to build these magnificent houses of worship.

Now, dear Lord, our prayer is, come with your assistance of angles, as so many things are in danger of being torn down, being destroyed and so many new things are being built. Come with this assistance to the continued building of your Church, a church that will represent you and worship you for many many years to come. 

Wishing you this assistance in this week ahead.

Philemon 

POSTED ONAUGUST 22, 2021EDIT”SACRED SPACE”

Sacred Space

Chapter 34

Good Monday Morning to this new week 34 of 202

Here’s what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace. Matthew 6.6


Be present, O merciful God, and protect us through the silent hours of this night, so that we who are wearied by the changes and chances of this fleeting world may rest in your eternal changelessness; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Much of the content of the sermon on the mount centres around the secret heart.

Jewish homes had a place for secret devotion. Over the porch, or entrance of the house, there was frequently a small room of the size of the porch, raised a story above the rest of the house, expressly appropriated for the place of retirement. To this place, to the “upper room”,  the disciples were guided to when they wished to hold communion with God.

Prayer in secret is an incredible privilege, we get the privilege of being with our Father in heaven. Only He completely knows what we will receive at his hand in those moments with him, while we gain peace from his presence, and from casting our cares upon him.

A closed room, a closet, a grove, a mountain, a garden, a hill …. The closed-door is more likely referring to the door of your heart. Pray your prayers between you and God, and isn’t it there where faith begins?

God the Father is a spirit he is also unseen, a secret mystery. Yet God is also omnipresent, He sees what is secret, and even knows the mysteries of a person’s heart. Through the mystery and quiet of opening and closing doors in the secret place, there is great reward in knowing God and coming to him by faith.

The New King James has a very special way of concluding the verse;
“and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly”.  If we take the metaphor of the door of the closet; it is part of our decision to go to him, to “close the door” while it is God’s presence and Gods grace to be there and “open the door”.

Wishing you a great start to this new week.

Philemon 

POSTED ONAUGUST 15, 2021EDIT”ACCES TO GOD”

Acces to God

Chapter 33

Good Monday Morning to this week 33 of 2021

Be especially careful when you are trying to be good so that you don’t make a performance out of it. It might be good theater, but the God who made you won’t be applauding.
Matthew 6.1

Some people misread the Sermon on the Mount by interpreting the whole thing as a sustained warning to those who would presume they can achieve the righteousness of the kingdom of heaven by their own effort. Not so. Read on its own terms, the Sermon resounds with words of promise, beginning with Jesus’ opening about the poor in spirit. Our passage repeatedly assures that God sees and blesses our genuine service and worship. Jesus promises that people enjoy magnificent access to God, even — or especially — through the most simple and understated expressions of devotion.

Does Jesus deconstruct the religion of the Pharisaism with the Sermon on the Mount? Interesting how Islam took on the three great duties of the religious life, almsgiving, fasting, and prayer, rather than the part of sacrifices and offerings.

Jesus changes the perspective of almsgiving and the righteousness of the time. He is introducing the ways of the Kingdom of Heaven. The two words righteousness and almsgiving were nearly synonymous with the Jews, partly because the poor had a right to share in the produce of the land; partly because almsgiving was the most natural and obvious external work of righteousness. In the same way agapé (love), a leading Christian virtue, has lost its original breadth of meaning and had been reduced to the modern and restricted sense of charity.

The design of the whole discourse was to teach true righteousness. It’s about how we give to the poor, acknowledging the expectation that we do have an obligation to care for the poor. The metaphor with the blowing of trumpets to add a very vivid picture with the warning he gives concerning the applause. The “blowing of the horn” is to illustrate to advertising your own piety, seeking the applause of man. The second part of this verse is saying if you crave public applause for your deeds, that applause is all the reward that you will get. To simply put it, seeking credit from others does not equal receiving credit from God, but the spontaneous giving to the poor reflects someone who is truly righteous in the eyes of the Lord.

This passage shows that we can never gain enough favor in the eyes of our peers for God to accept us. He is also an all-knowing and loving God who will reward us for your actions which stem from your love for God. This passage reveals that we will always feel the need to be noticed and that we want instant gratification for our actions, a reward we can see. This passage shows that we have a personal relationship with God. He is not just someone we know of, but someone who is with us and notices all that we do. God is aware of our actions and wants us to want to grow our discipleship and relationship with him.

Never futile is the work (for the poor) for it is a product not of the mind of man but of the sovereign grace of God. W. Hendriksen

Wishing you a good start to this week!

Philemon

POSTED ONAUGUST 8, 2021EDIT”HOT AND COLD”

Hot and Cold

Chapter 32

Good Monday Morning to this week 32 of 2021

I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to vomit you out of my mouth. Revelation 3: 15-16 

The large population and extensive textile industry in Laodicea required an ample water supply. The three major cities around the valley, Laodicea, Colossae, and Hierapolis, all had distinct water sources. Laodicea piped water from the mountains to the south. After 6 miles in an aqueduct, the water arrived lukewarm with a gritty concentration of calcium carbonate.

Colossae was tucked into the foot of Mount Honaz where cold mountain run-off water poured down to supply the city with fresh water. Hierapolis was positioned on magnificent hot springs that emitted mineral rich waters attracting visitors from all over Asia to its therapeutic baths. Hierapolis had hot water beneficial for therapeutic purposes and Colossae had cold water for a refreshing drink, Laodicea’s piped water was best suited for the textile industry, or flushing the city’s plumbing system. If you ingested the water, it would function as an emetic an agent causing you to vomit.

Let’s look at the spiritual metaphor used by the author.

Do you think that it teaches that Jesus prefers people to hate him or love him, or just not to “sit on the fence.”?  Jesus doesn’t want anybody to hate him. That common teaching from this passage is not only crazy when you stop and think about it; it’s bad Bible interpretation.

Is the implication that Jesus is saying “any decision is better than indecision”? Isn’t it far more telling us to serve a purpose? Hot water could heal. Cold water could refresh. We should bring a similar blessing to people around us. In serving Him our actions were meant to embody his values and contribute to his redemptive mission. When we just live for ourselves like the lukewarm water that contributed to the wealth engine of the Laodicean textile industry, we are useless. We lose our purpose while serving ourselves.

I think this text is calling for us to embrace our redemptive role and purpose.

Wishing you a blessed start to this week!

Philemon 

POSTED ONAUGUST 1, 2021EDIT”GATES, PORTALS AND DOORS”

Gates, Portals and Doors

Chapter 31

Good Monday Morning to this week 31 of 2021

Very seldom do I take a go at understanding Revelation with all it’s deapth and many metaphers to the coming Kingdom. It’s so full of wonderful promises and encouragement to our journey, I’ll give it a attempt nevertheless.

I see what you’ve done. Now see what I’ve done. I’ve opened a door before you that no one can slam shut. You don’t have much strength, I know that; you used what you had to keep my Word. You didn’t deny me when times were rough. Revelation 3.8, The Message

I the Lord see interiors and exteriors at once. I have opened a door, the admission is ready, you have done works of faith in word and deed, and now this door won’t be your own work, this you cannot open yourself, this is where I need to come to your rescue. You have been lead along the path, the way of truth and the life, there have been gates to open, there have been many tests and much truth to uphold and stand for along the way. Jesus said, Strive to enter in at the straight gate, for many will seek to enter in, and shall not be able (Luke 13:24). Gates, portals and doors are all part of the way and the plan. At many a gate were angels waiting and revealing the glory of the King encouraging you to continue the journey.

Gates may have been closed or shut, then reopened, but this coming door no one is able to shut. No other forces will prevail against it. When it is opened, the Lord alone opens. The ones with little power are not in regard to their journey, faith or strength, it’s in regard to the lacking ability or power to open this door themselves. Faith lead the journey along through the gates, past portals and finally to this door, this door that He the Almighty is waiting to open for you.

Wishing you a journey full of faith as you go from paths to gates, to another path to another gate, holding fast to the amazing promise of seeing what He has done and what He will do for you, as He opens again another door of His grace.

Philemon 

POSTED ONJULY 25, 2021EDIT”HOW GREAT THOU ART”

How great Thou art

Chapter 30

Good Monday Morning to this new week 30 of 2021

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. Romans 1.20

This morning I read that in the last night a record amount of Lightning flashes (bolts) came down over the area of Switzerland, the amount of 25’000 bolted down.

The meteorological light shows that what we experience here on earth are one of God’s own ideas, and His Word mentions the phenomenon quite often – in historical accounts, in poetry, and as descriptive comparisons where no other thing was appropriate.

In fact, the Bible says that once man has seen the magnificence, the intricacies, and the beauties of what has been created, we then have no excuse for not knowing about God.

When Moses stretched out his staff toward the sky, the Lord sent thunder and hail, and lightning flashed down to the ground. So the Lord rained hail on the land of Egypt. Moses

On the morning of the third day, there was thunder and lightning, with a thick cloud over the mountain, and a very loud trumpet blast. Everyone in the camp trembled. Moses

See how he scatters his lightning about him, bathing the depths of the sea. Job

Do you know how God controls the clouds and makes his lightning flash? Job

Do you send the lightning bolts on their way? Do they report to you, ‘Here we are’? Job

He makes clouds rise from the ends of the earth; he sends lightning with the rain and brings out the wind from his storehouses. Psalms

When he thunders, the waters in the heavens roar; he makes clouds rise from the ends of the earth. He sends lightning with the rain and brings out the wind from his storehouses. Jeremiah

I looked, and I saw a windstorm coming out of the north an immense cloud with flashing lightning and surrounded by brilliant light. The center of the fire looked like glowing metal Ezekiel

Then the Lord will appear over them; his arrow will flash like lightning. The Sovereign Lord will sound the trumpet; he will march in the storms of the south. Zechariah

The Son of Man in his day will be like the lightning, which flashes and lights up the sky from one end to the other. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. Luke

Seeing in the time of the scriptures, they trembled at the flashes of lighting and read much meaning into the dangerous light show in the heavens, over the day and night sky.
A few meanings … it was indicating the power of God, the power of God is shown in His command of the forces of nature, and He is the only one who knows the secrets of nature.

David sings figuratively and poetically of Yahweh: He sent …. lightning manifold, and discomfited them. He also used it to describe the speed and velocity of God: The chariots …. run like the lightning, His arrow shall go forth as the lightning. The living creatures ran and returned as the appearance of a flash of lightning. Luke described the coming of the kingdom as described by Jesus as the shining of the lightning from one part of heaven to another, even “from the east unto the west”. Daniel used the meaning of lightning with the use of the adverbs bright and shining. In his vision he saw a man and his face was as the appearance of lightning.

We look to God as we experience these many storms, floods and troubling times.

Wishing you His protection and care and great awareness as the lyrics of the hymn remind us. How Great Thou Art, by Carrie Unterwood and Swedisch poem written by Carl Boberg.

Oh Lord, my God
When I, in awesome wonder
Consider all the worlds Thy hands have made
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder
Thy power throughout the universe displayed
(with 9 more verses)

The inspiration for the poem came when Boberg was walking home from church near Kronobäck, Sweden, and listening to church bells.

Carl Boberg and some friends were returning home to Mönsterås from Kronobäck, where they had participated in an afternoon service. Presently a thundercloud appeared on the horizon, and soon lightning flashed across the sky. Strong winds swept over the meadows and billowing fields of grain. The thunder pealed in loud claps. Then rain came in cool fresh showers. In a little while the storm was over, and a rainbow appeared. When Boberg arrived home, he opened the window and saw the bay of Mönsterås like a mirror before him… From the woods on the other side of the bay, he heard the song of a thrush… the church bells were tolling in the quiet evening. It was this series of sights, sounds, and experiences that inspired the writing of the song.

Philemon

POSTED ONJULY 19, 2021EDIT”SOLO GRATIA”

Solo gratia

Chapter 29

Good Monday Morning to this new week

A powerful and short quote with yet another awesome aspect to the topic of grace.

Grace is not something God creates to give you when needed. Grace is the very presence of God Himself. To ask to be granted grace, is to ask for Him who is grace itself to infuse you with a greater capacity to contain Him. M. Chironna

Wishing a week filled with His presence!

Philemon

POSTED ONJULY 12, 2021EDIT”OPPORTUNE”

Opportune

Chapter 28

Good Monday Morning to this new week.

If the snake bites before the charming, the snake charmer will not succeed. Eccl. 10:11

The last proverb of this little series shows the necessity of seizing the right opportunity. Surely the serpent will bite without enchantment. If one handles a serpent without due precaution or without knowing the secret of charming it, one will suffer for it. The taming and charming of poisonous snakes is still, as heretofore, practiced in Egypt and the East. What the secret of this power is has not been accurately determined; whether it belongs especially to persons of a certain idiosyncrasy, whether it is connected with certain words or intonations of the voice or musical sounds, we do not know. If a man is bitten before he has time to use his charm, it is no profit to him that he has the secret, it is too late to employ it when the mischief is done. The maxim enforces the warning against being too late; the greatest skill is useless unless applied at the right moment.

The two hardest tests on the spiritual road are the patience to wait for the right moment and the courage not to be disappointed with what we encounter. Paulo Coelho

Wishing you the right moment to use your skills this week!

blessings

Philemon

POSTED ONJULY 4, 2021EDIT”DELIVERANCE”

Deliverance

Chapter 27

Good Monday Morning to this week 27 of 2021

There on the mountains are the feet of a messenger who announces the good news: “All is well!” Celebrate your festivals, Judah! Keep your vows! This wickedness will never pass your way again. It will be completely removed. Nahum 1.15

When will this peace of Nahum come?

Nahum predicts a future time of peace, stating, “Look, there on the mountains, the feet of one who brings good news, who proclaims peace! . . . No more will the wicked invade Judah.

To discover when this time of peace will occur, we must consider the larger context of Nahum. The book of Nahum was written to communicate the pending destruction of the city of Nineveh. Nahum then looks back and declares that the destruction of Nineveh by the Babylonians would be “good news”. Why?

Nineveh with the Assyrians was an enemy of Judah. We know from history that this destruction of Nineveh took place in 612 B.C. at the hands of the Medes causing that to that time, Judah was rid of one of its most dangerous enemies. The report of this news would have been considered the “good news” to everyone. This made Judah able to fulfil their vows to God at the temple in Jerusalem.

Peace in Hebrew is sometimes used in reference to deliverance or freedom from enemy attack. Paul in the New Testament also writes, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” He used this verse to connect the good news with the deliverance providing with by God’s salvation.

God is just, He is committed to justice and will not allow any arrogant, violent or evil nation to endure forever. However, while He defeats evil, He is also good and cares for the innocent. He will provide a refuge on the day of distress for anyone who humbles himself before God, believes in God’s justice and trusts that in His time He will bring down oppressors in every time and place.

Nahum is a powerful appearance of God’s glory. God the all-powerful creator is at work in history at every age and He won’t allow violent empires to stand forever, very similar to the message of Daniel. God’s judgement on evil is good news the central theme along with the beginning of Nahum with the reference to Moses. The Lord is slow to anger but great in power!

Let’s take this prophecy for our time and week!

Wishing peace and deliverance!

Philemon

POSTED ONJUNE 27, 2021EDIT”OPEN SPACES”

Open Spaces

Chapter 26 

Good Monday Morning to this week 26 of 2021 


Last week we farewelled a few people out of our staff. In writing the cards for them I came across this passage in Genesis 26.22. The three leaving invested over ten years in our church and “dug many wells”. Now in their leaving my wish for them is that they get to the well called Rehoboth – “open spaces”! 

He moved from there and dug another, and they did not quarrel over it. He named it Open Spaces and said, “For now the Lord has made room for us, and we will be fruitful in the land. Genesis 26.22

Having moved some distance away from the main population of Gerar, supposed to in Wady er-Ruheibeht about 20 miles south of Beersheba.  Isaac’s men have dug two wells so far. In both cases, they were challenged by the local herdsmen over the rights to the water. Isaac named both wells to represent the disputes that came from them. The first was called Esek, the second Sitnah, meaning “contention” and “quarrel,” respectively. This choice seems to reflect a passive attitude on the part of Isaac since he’s clearly powerful enough to keep those wells by force if he so chose.

The third well, however, brings no dispute from the locals. Perhaps they gave up challenging Isaac once they realized he would just keep digging wells. Or, perhaps Isaac’s family has moved far enough away that it’s just not worth a challenge from the locals anymore, we don’t know, but Isaac appears to be satisfied. He names this well Rehoboth, which means “broad places” or “room,” “open space”  and he gives credit to the Lord for providing it.
Specifically, Isaac notices that the Lord has made room for his enormous estate to settle in the region. Nothing would now stand in the way of the fruitful growth of all of his possessions.

This my wish for you all this week, that as you dig new wells, you can say, the Lord has made room – new open spaces – a place to be fruitful in the land you cultivate!

Philemon 

POSTED ONJUNE 20, 2021EDIT”SOJOURNERS”

Sojourners

Chapter 25

Good Monday Morning to this week 25 of 2021

Middle Eastern cultures are famous for their hospitality. For example, Abraham invited the angelic visitors into his tent and provided a lavish meal for them.  Even so, strangers among the different tribal groups were looked at with suspicion, often conned or taken advantage of, and not treated well, especially if they were poor. God’s instructions were countercultural. Jesus follows the Old Testament pattern and takes it a step further by saying that how we treat strangers indicates whether we are his followers. We are to invite the stranger in if we are his disciples.

Maskoun was a privileged but average young man in Syria before the war broke out. His father owned an international jewellery business in Aleppo and his mother was a professor of Arabic. He’d already completed his engineering degree and his siblings seemed ready to follow in his footsteps. “I had everything that I needed,” Maskoun says in fluent English. “I had my education, I did my engineering, I had my car, my friends, the little house I thought I’d get married in one day.”

Then, suddenly, he didn’t. It was a clear choice: flee or be killed.

The Maskouns fled Syria and made their way across borders and nations, mercifully safe and eventually together to the outskirts of Paris. By being granted asylum in France, Maskoun had a chance to start a new life. But at first, it was hard to feel anything but lost, and lonely.“The refugee is a broken person when he arrives in a new country,” Maskoun says.

The foreigners residing among you must be treated as native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the Lord your God.—Leviticus 19:34

You won’t find the term “refugee” in the Bible but it has plenty to say about people called “strangers” and “sojourners” or “foreigners” referring to people who were from other ethnic groups and had chosen to live with the Jews in Israel.

For instance, Ruth the widow from the tribe of Moab who chooses to accompany her mother-in-law, Naomi, back to Israel and live there with her. We see her ask Boaz, in whose field she is gleaning, “Why have I found such favor in your eyes that you notice me — a foreigner?” She understands her status as being outside the tribe of Israel.

Right after Maskoun arrived in France he did receive much, but quite soon after he started to give. He made friends and invited them to his home to eat Syrian food. When he was recruited for an internship and later an enviable job as a project engineer, he always looked for ways to extend opportunities to former classmates. He paid his taxes, and got involved in political life. He taught math and physics to refugee kids for free.

“They call me refugee, but I consider myself a guest,” Maskoun says. “I start my lectures in French so they think I’m a French person,” he says. “Then I switch to Arabic, tell them my story, tell them I was in their place, didn’t speak French, got two masters, learned the language and inspire them. I quote Maskoun: “The main thing we try to work on is to empower refugees, and make them believe in themselves and that they can do it again, “They are here, they are alive. With some effort, they can do it again. We tell them their first responsibility is to the country that took them in. The second is to their own country, to gain skills to take back.”

Refugees, strangers, foreigners, sojourners should be viewed as people, not a crisis. With an effort on everyone’s part, they can be a value added to society. Maskoun feels at home now as he walks through the streets he feels that France is his country. But he has not forgotten Syria. And although he is as much a part of French society as the next monsieur, he reminds himself that he is still a guest. Because someday, he hopes, he will return to his homeland.

Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters. Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers for by doing that some have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.—Hebrews 13:1-2

Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household. Ephesians 2.19

This verse lays out how we are also the “foreigners” and “strangers” a used metaphor for our condition before our new found faith. Now because of His grace we are now part of God’s community — strangers who have been welcomed in.

Praying for displaced persons, refugees, migrants, immigrants, asylum seekers, stateless persons and many more fitting one of these many categories.

Wishing a good start to this new week.
Philemon

POSTED ONJUNE 13, 2021EDIT”THAT DIVINE DARKNESS”

That divine Darkness

Chapter 24

Good Monday Morning to this week 24 of 2021

God is his attributes in infinite measure. He is maximally alive; he could not be more alive than he is eternally. The church fathers liked to make this point by calling God pure act (actus purus). He cannot be more perfectly in act than he is, otherwise, he would be less than perfect, finite and in need of improvement.

Isaiah famously foretold prophecy was the Savior’s birth, the birth of Immanuel, and the works of Jehovah through him, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives. The book is full of symbolism and poetry making much of his teaching veiled, yet understandable with the aid of the Holy Spirit. Isaiah was the last of the major prophets to teach all of the twelve Israelite tribes before they were scattered to the north and east.

Hebrew poetry plays with repetition as an artistic device. Everywhere in the Psalms and prophets you can find two to four to six lines of “rhymed meaning”. Starting with two:

Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth (Isaiah 1:1) 

Often more than a simple repetition. The mention of ear is more concrete than the first to hear.

The ox knows its owner, and the ass its master’s crib (Isaiah 1:3)

From a silhouette of a farmer to a definite picture of a donkey and crib.

They have forsaken the LORD, they have despised the Holy One of Israel (Isaiah 1:4)

To “despise” is not a more definite picture than “forsake,” but it says something more intense.

In the poetry it goes from a pair of successive lines to a succession of four lines that have alternate rhymes.

For you shall be ashamed of the oaks in which you delighted:

and you shall blush for the gardens which you have chosen.

For your shall be like an oak whose leaf withers,

and like a garden without water. (1; 29-30)

The first two lines with its oaks and gardens parallels are followed by the second with its oaks and gardens. Within each we find the familiar dynamic of concretization and intensification: the generic “be ashamed” becomes the more concrete “blush”; the more preliminary stage of “delight” becomes the further, hardened state of “choose”.

(ashamed becomes blush, from delight to choice)

Or even a more elaborate structure of text: / / Enter into the rock, \ and hide in the dust / from before the terror of the Lord, \ and from the glory of his majesty. / The haughty looks of man shall be brought low, \ and the pride of men shall be humbled; \ And the Lord alone will be exalted on that day.

Notice how Isaiah balances a single line against all three previous. “And the Lord alone will be exalted on that day.” This solitary line standing in contrasting parallel to all three before, it emphasizes with this one line, so much structural weight and emphasizes how exalted the Lord’s will will be done.

This is the effect poetry can have: you do not simply know about God’s majesty, but you feel that it is in front of you like a mountain or a tree. You feel that you could close your eyes and still know where God’s majesty is, the way you can locate furniture in a dark but familiar room. It is not a knowledge primarily of the mind, not knowledge of an object, but a kind of sympathy or connection by nature with the known, knowledge in the mode of a subject.

That divine Darkness is the unapproachable light in which God dwells. Into this Darkness, rendered invisible by its own excessive brilliance and unapproachable by the intensity of its transcendent flood of light, come to be all those who are worthy to know and to see God. We pray that we may come unto this Darkness which is beyond light, and without seeing and without knowing, to see and to know That which is above vision and above knowledge. Dionysius

Coming from the poetry of Isiah we landed at mystical contemplation with Him the God of all Darkness and Light who transcends all being and all knowledge.

Wishing a week with a deep sense of this God and creator being with us.

Philemon 

POSTED ONJUNE 6, 2021EDIT”CONVIVENCIA”

Convivencia

Chapter 23

Good Monday Morning to this week of 23 of 2021

Convivencia – Coexistence

The Mezquita–Cathedral of Córdoba is located in the Spanish region of Andalusia. Due to its status as a former Islamic mosque, it is also known as the Great Mosque of Córdoba. According to traditional accounts, Christian Basilica of Saint Vincent of Saragossa, originally stood on the site of the current Mosque-Cathedral. The Great Mosque was constructed on the orders of Abd ar-Rahman I in 785. The mosque was converted to a cathedral in 1236 when Córdoba was captured by the Christian forces of Castile during the Reconquista. Starting in the 19th century, modern restorations have in turn led to the recovery and study of some of the building’s Islamic-era elements.Today, the building continues to serve as the city’s cathedral and Mass is celebrated therein daily. This amazing building leads me to some thoughts on coexistence.

Accept him whose faith is weak without passing judgement on disputable matters. One man’s faith allows him to eat everything, but another man, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. The man who eats everything must not look down on him who does not, and the man who does not eat everything must not condemn the man who does, for God has accepted him. Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand. Romans 14:1-4

There is so much that divides us nowadays. This current pandemic has highlighted this in many more ways that we would have liked to be true. Its as if there was always something to disagree on right now.

A few years ago there were many attacks on Christians in Egypt. Many churches were vandalised and looted. During all of this an this image by and Jesuit writer is communicated, showing Muslim leaders backing up Christians. The picture shows several Islamic men standing in front of a large church, protecting congregants as they attend mass.

Located between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv is the Oasis of Peace (‘Neve Shalom, a Jewish-Arab community founded in 1970. The village is composed of about 50 families; half are Jewish, half are Arab, and the majority are secular. The Oasis of Peace serves as an example of the possibility of coexistence in Israel. The name “Neve shalom” is taken from a passage in Isaiah 32:18: “My people shall dwell in an oasis of peace.

I call for more coexistence, for the pursuit of peace, for seeking that with unites and not divides.

In Mark 4: 39, Jesus rose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. Jesus commanded the wind and the waves to be at peace, and they had to obey him! He also wants us to be at peace. Many times in the scriptures, God instructs his children to be at peace. Jesus is the Prince of Peace. He is the source of peace. Jesus shared with his disciples of how he would arrange peace with Holy Spirit: Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world gives, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

Wishing you a week of blessed coexistence with much peace !

Philemon

POSTED ONMAY 30, 2021EDIT”IF THE PARADOX IS TO BE PONDERED.”

If the paradox is to be pondered.

Chapter 22

Good Monday Morning to this week 22 of 2021

This morning, one very long sentence, so full, so rich, so deep, so satisfying, so spiritual,
so deep and able to make one ponder for a whole morning or even six mornings, up until
the beginning of the next sabbath.

Here we go, and by the way, don’t worry, I needed it read it several times, will need to continue reading it, over and over again.

“If the paradox is to be pondered, as part of growing in understanding the nature of the life of faith, then there are surely implications for the kind of qualities,
communal and individual, that believers should over time acquire: such qualities as to dig deeper in trust, be less glib* in speech and prayer, to look beyond the immediate to the long term, and to offer more support to those currently in pain and perplexity.
For when the psalms are contextualized in prayer and worship, their language is not only expressive but also transformative, able to make a difference to those who use these ancient and enduring words.”

R.W.L. Moberly, Old Testament Theology

*fluent but insincere and shallow.

Wishing you a wonderful start to this new week.

Philemon

POSTED ONMAY 24, 2021EDIT”THE MOUNTAINS QUAKE”

The mountains quake

Chapter 21

Good Monday Morning to this week 21 of 2021

A volcanic eruption in eastern Congo left a smoking trail of destruction half a mile wide on Sunday that buried hundreds of houses and left residents searching for missing loved ones, before halting just short of the city of Goma. Mount Nyiragongo, is one of the world’s most active and dangerous volcanoes, erupted, turning the night sky an eerie red and sending a wall of orange lava downhill towards the lakeside city of about 1 million.

I grew up next to Mount Giluwe, 4367m one of highest peaks of Papua New Guinea. Though dormant, we learnt many of the signs of activity including smoke, or a warm water stream near our home. This volcano is part of my walk with God and finding him amidst fear of a new eruption.

The world’s largest volcanic eruption to happen in the past 100 years was on June 15, 1991, the eruption of Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines after being dormant for 600 years. The ash cloud turned day to night, many thought this was the end of life. The eruption was so fierce that that the ash caused global temperatures to be lower for two years. With Global Network I travelled there a few months after the eruption to do ministry and relief work in Zambales for the following 2 years.

 In the story of Moses, Sinai was enveloped in a cloud, it quaked and was filled with smoke, while lightning-flashes shot forth, and the roar of thunder mingled with the blasts of a trumpet; the account later adds that fire was seen burning at the summit of the mountain. In the biblical account, the fire and clouds are a direct consequence of the arrival of God upon the mountain. According to the biblical story, Moses departed to the mountain and stayed there for 40 days and nights in to receive the Ten Commandments.

There are many more references in the writings of the Old Testament in regard to volcanos.

Deuteronomy 4:11, 5.23 And ye came near and stood under the mountain; and the mountain burned with fire unto the midst of heaven, with darkness, clouds, and thick darkness. And it came to pass, when ye heard the voice out of the midst of the darkness, (for the mountain did burn with fire,) that ye came near unto me, even all the heads of your tribes, and your elders. Or in Judges; The mountains melted from before the LORD, even that Sinai from before the LORD God of Israel. Or in Psalms, The hills melted like wax at the presence of the LORD, at the presence of the Lord of the whole earth. He looketh on the earth, and it trembleth: he toucheth the hills, and they smoke. Bow thy heavens, O LORD, and come down: touch the mountains, and they shall smoke. Or another prophet Isaiah. And the streams thereof shall be turned into pitch, and the dust thereof into brimstone, and the land thereof shall become burning pitch. It shall not be quenched night nor day; the smoke thereof shall go up for ever: from generation to generation it shall lie waste; none shall pass through it for ever and ever. Oh that thou wouldest rend the heavens, that thou wouldest come down, that the mountains might flow down at thy presence. As when the melting fire burneth, the fire causeth the waters to boil, to make thy name known to thine adversaries, that the nations may tremble at thy presence! When thou didst terrible things which we looked not for, thou camest down, the mountains flowed down at thy presence.

 In these writings of volcanos and in the experience of living close to a volcano, it represents anger, vengeance, revenge, emotions, hidden emotions, destruction and unpredictable situations of life. On the positive side, lava and ash deposited during an eruption breaks down to provide valuable nutrients for the soil, this creates very fertile soil which is good for agriculture.

There has been a lot written about the connection between volcanos and creation or even the creator God. In the current time man feels himself isolated from the cosmos. He is no longer involved in nature or has lost the emotional participation to natural events and their symbolic meaning. Thunder is no longer the voice of God, no river contains a spirit as no tree means a persons life, no snake the embodiment of wisdom, no mountain bears or carries the great daemon.

Herein maybe lies one of troubles with humankind. The great umbilical cord that once existed between human beings and the natural world has been severed. That which was once part of the natural human understanding has become hidden or is not longer existent.

We could take the stance on the volcano and call it a living thing with it’s own stories and behaviours, eccentricities with all it’s activity and unpredictability, a rock of the earth in the most living and changeable form, tremendous and powerful.

The volcano with it’s active living spirit of magna, gas, steam and rock not to mention the beauty and terror has inspired many through it’s natural activity. Before the 19th century the medieval Christian mind portrays volcanos as the portals of the abyss of hell. Yet, the the very word volcano is derived from the Latin vulcanus, the Roman god of fire. Christian symbolism emphasis in on the dualities, a need for wholeness, good and evil yet coming from the same as portrayed in nature with the volcano. This raises the question if there is a possibility that these two powers can live alongside one another and coexist? Rather than seeing volcanos as portals to the abyss another metaphor would be to see them as centers of the cosmos where formlessness, movement and response exist and bring them to the center of creating the new.

Back to Goma, I pray for the people, those who have lost loved one, kids that have lost their parents and those who lost house, home, land and much more. God have mercy.

For us, i see this devotional as a call to remember the creator, calling on him to use the power of formlessness to create movement and response in the many difficult situations of our lives.

Wishing you a blessed Monday and good start to this week.

Philemon

POSTED ONMAY 16, 2021EDIT”TUMBLING TOWARDS US”

Tumbling towards us

Chapter 20

Good Monday Morning to this week 20 of 2021

The parable of the lost sheep (Matthew 18: 10–14)
Jesus tells the parable of the lost sheep to show that the Kingdom of God is accessible to all. The shepherd leaves the 99 others and searches high and low for the lost sheep.

Theologian Martin Buber adds another dimension as he wrote in his great work, I and Thou:

“Of course God is “the wholly other”: but he is also the wholly same: the wholly present. Of course he is the mysterium tremendum that appears and overwhelms: but he is also the mystery of the obvious that is closer to me then my own I. God is there and here at once, at the same time. He’s with the ninety-nine sheep and he’s with me, too. His searching for us knows no limits – no bounds. His is in a relentless search for us. We can move back and forth every moment between his being in us and separate from us at the very same instant. He’s the searcher but he’s also here, in us, the found.

“That you need God more than anything, you know at all times in your heart. But don’t you know also that God needs you – in the fullness of his eternity, you? How would man exist if God did not need him, and how would you exist? You need God in order to be, and God needs you – for that which is the meaning of your life. Teachings and poems try to say more, and say too much: how murky and presumptuous is the chatter of the “emerging God” – but the emergence of the living God we know unswervingly in our hearts. The world is not divine plan, it is divine fate. That there are world, man, the human person, you and I, has divine meaning.

We are tumbling toward God all our lives. Sometimes we know it; sometimes we don’t. And God is tumbling toward us as well. He’s seeking us – the one of the hundred – and he wants us found. And, one at a time, he also looks for the other ninety-nine.

Tumbling as adjective: tipped or slanted out of the vertical —used especially of a cattle brand …. gives it even more meaning!

Jesus is very much alive and he’s with us, we as also spiritual beings. Jesus is most aware of our spirit self because he also spirit. Our spirit selves have amazing abilities – more than we can comprehend at this time. Jesus is with us and know us as spirit, we as beloved children of God, know by Him the creator, the universal breath.

The only possible relationship with God is to address him and to be addressed by him, here and now—or, as Buber puts it, in the present.

Wishing you a blessed week in the present found state as you tumble towards God and God tumbling towards you!

Philemon

POSTED ONMAY 9, 2021EDIT”BECAUSE YOU ARE UNIQUE”

Because you are unique

Chapter 19

Good Monday Morning to this week 19 of 2021

Psalm 139.14
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made ….

Here a little story of company fully embracing this, finding the solution in it’s biggest crisis in making an emphasis in being unique together!

Akiyama is a biometric identification company that operates in various forms of application of biometrics . The company was founded in 2005, it has a factory in Pato Branco in Brazil. The company developed a system that collects and analyzes fingerprints, thanks to the simple and intelligible interface, the tool can be used by anyone.

Thaís and Ismael Akiyama had big plans for 2020. It was the year they would expand Akiyama, their Brazil-based business to new markets. Their two new companies were positioned for explosive growth. Massive projects were lined up, and profits were expected to hit record highs.

Yet, as King Solomon warns in Proverbs, “Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth.” An invisible storm was swiftly approaching that would plunge the world into crisis and force business owners in every industry to confront a threat to their very survival. When the coronavirus hit, no sector was safe. As 2020 spiraled and business leaders were forced to making hard decisions, navigating unforeseen challenges, the Akiyamas saw everything they had built start to crumble. The Brazilian government, slashed its biometric budget, payments only trickled in, and hospitals delayed adapting their new technology as they struggled with an overwhelming influx of COVID-19 patients. 

Managing three different companies with three distinct missions was a juggling act even before the pandemic. Once it hit, things looked bleak for the Akiyamas, yet they didn’t falter. They digitally gathered their team of administrators and employees across all three companies and made a commitment to the whole group summed up in the hashtag #strongertogether.

“The storm came for all of our companies, and we understood that we couldn’t find a way out by ourselves,” says Thaís Akiyama. “We needed to join together, building a community and identity as a group.”

The Akiyamas consolidated the disparate companies under one umbrella and mission, and it served as a catalyst for transformation. They took the crisis as an opportunity to be intentional about their faith anchored in hope and declared 2020 a year of revival. The Akiyamas changed their presentation, no longer letting their action be swayed or influenced by the system of bribery so pervasive in the Brazilian business word. Employees across the three companies started collaborating on community projects.

In this business story I see a great lesson. Being unique is not in contradiction to serving and joining in community and finding identity not only as individual but also as group.

Wishing you a blessed week as you all seek ways out and through this unprecedented pandemic leaving no stone unturned.

Philemon

POSTED ONMAY 2, 2021EDIT”WORDS LIKE BALM TO THE SOUL”

Words like balm to the soul

Chapter 18

Good Monday Morning to this week 18 of 2021

For she said; If I may but touch of his clothes, I shall be whole.

Frances Ellen Watkins Harper was born on September 24,
1825, in Baltimore, Maryland. She was one of the most well known
African American writers of the nineteenth century. Harper published
several collections of poetry, including Forest Leaves in 1846.

One beautiful poem out of Mark 5.28

For she kept saying to herself, “If I could touch even his clothes, I know I will be healed.
(coming from the Greek word  “sozo” with many meanings including; safe and sound, healed, delivered, made whole, rescued, restored, and saved.

Life to her no brightness brought,
Pale and sorrow’d was her brow,
Till a bright and joyous thought,
Lit the darkness of her woe.

Long had sickness on her prayed;
Strength from every nerve had gone;
Skill and art could give no aid,
Thus her weary life passed on.

Like a sad and mornful dream,
Daily felt she life depart;
Hourly knew the vital stream,
Left the fountains of her heart.

He who’d lull’d the storm to rest,
Cleans’d the lepers, raised the dead;
Whilst a crowd around him prest
Near that suffering one did tread.

Nerv’d by blended hope and fear,
Reason’d thus her anxious heart, –
If to touch him I draw near,
All my suffering shall depart.

While the crowd around him stand,
I will touch, the sufferer said, –
Forth she reach’d her timid hand,
As she touch’d, her sickness fled.

“Who hath touch’d me.” Jesus cried,
Virtue from my body’s gone;
From the crowd a voice replied,
Why inquire, thousands throng.

Faint with fear thro’ ev’ry limb,
Yet too grateful to deny;
Tremblingly, she knelt to him,
“Lord,” she answered, “It was I.”

Kindly, gently, Jesus said,
Words like balm unto her soul,
Peace upon her life be shed,
Child, thy faith has made thee whole.

Wishing a blessed week with words like balm to your soul!

Philemon

POSTED ONAPRIL 25, 2021EDIT”MAKING THE WORDS SING”

Making the words sing

Chapter 17

Good Monday Morning to this week 17 of 2021

Last week Chris Green made the minor prophets sing.

I’m still amazed at his summary of Hosea:
God’s love wounds, God’s love can be wounded, God’s love, wounded, heals the wounding!

Having read the Biography of Eugene Peterson this weekend, I found another, that could make the Bible sing in many wonderful ways.

Four “Blessings” out of the Beatitudes of “The Message” to start this week.

Blessed are the poor in spirit …
You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope.
With less of you there is more of God and his rule.

Blessed are the peacemakers ….
You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family.

Blessed are the merciful ….
You’re blessed when you care.
At the moment of being ‘care-full,’ you find yourselves cared for.

Blessed are the pure in heart …
You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.

Wishing you a care-full start to this new week!

Philemon

POSTED ONAPRIL 25, 2021EDIT”THE LONG WAY HOME!”

The long way home!

Chapter 16

Good Monday Morning to this week 16 of 2021

The Gospel According to the Minor Prophets by Chris Green

Not sure how I stumbled upon this, but it’s too good, not to share!

The Gospel according to Hosea:
God’s love wounds
God’s love can be wounded
God’s love, wounded, heals the wounding.

The Gospel according to Joel:
Dream, children! Dream, slaves!
There’s nothing now to fear! When God throws the party
the first serve the best wines to the last.

The Gospel according to Amos:
Some truths only nobodies know
like God prefers bent sticks to fine lines
and Justice is worship dead to rights.

The Gospel according to Obadiah:
Because of your pride, I bring you down
In my humility, I go down with you
There, we become sanctuary for others.

The Gospel according to Jonah:
The word of judgment is nothing but the word of mercy
taking the long way home!

The Gospel according to Micah:
The story of salvation: God leaves home
alone in the dark, looking just like his father
limping because of his hip.

The Gospel according to Nahum:
Bloody ones, your cruelties are endless
so I myself will be your end—I’l make your grave my own.

The Gospel according to Habakkuk:
The only praise God wants to hear
comes after nervy protest and the unnerving silence that follows.

The Gospel according to Zephaniah:
You say I’m a do-nothing God, but my day’s coming
I’ll act and when I’m done there’ll be nothing left—but jubilee.

The Gospel according to Haggai:
The poor are God’s signet ring
Only those with nothing left to lose can believe
how good our future may be.

The Gospel according to Zechariah:
What do I see? A city without walls or sentries
A table set for all God’s giddy friends
Faces bright with joy.

The Gospel according to Malachi:
Our curse: we cannot tell how we wound God and neighbor
But the curse is cursed! God, as neighbor, heals.

I’m not sure which is my favorit … but the the one of
Mercy .. is talking the long way home really hits home with me this morning!

Wishing you a blessed week!
Philemon

POSTED ONAPRIL 11, 2021EDIT”BE REAL”

BE REAL

Chapter 15

Good Monday Morning to this week 15 of 2021

St. Ignatius of Antioch 35 – 107

As the second (or third) bishop of Antioch, one of the most important churches of the day, he was certainly one of the most prominent Christians of the time immediately succeeding the apostles. 

Ignatius was overseer (bishop) of the Christians in Antioch in Syria during one of the persecutions that broke out while Trajan was emperor. When Ignatius was arrested, he refused to acknowledge the official gods and, not being a Roman citizen, was sentenced to die in the amphitheater in Rome. The soldiers with whom he traveled to Rome allowed him to visit some of the Christian communities along the way.

St Ignatius of Antioch has some very practical tips for our daily walk in faith.
A few of my favorites:

Christianity is not a matter of persuading people of particular ideas, but of inviting them to share in the greatness of Christ. 

It is better to be silent and be real than to talk and not be real.

Take heed often to come together to give thanks to God and show forth His praise. For when you assemble frequently in the same place, the powers of Satan are destroyed, and the destruction at which he aims is prevented by the unity of your faith.

Do everything as if He were dwelling in us. Thus we shall be His temples and He will be within us as our God – as He actually is.

A Christian is not his own master, since all his time belongs to God.

It is not that I want merely to be called a Christian, but actually to be one. Yes, if I prove to be one, then I can have the name.

Let no man’s place, or dignity, or riches, puff him up; and let no man’s low condition or poverty abase him. For the chief points are faith towards God, hope towards Christ, the enjoyment of those good things for which we look, and love towards God and our neighbor.

Pray without ceasing on behalf of other men…For cannot he that falls rise again?

Pray as if God will take care of all; act as if all is up to you.

Wishing you a good, practical start to this new week!

Philemon


POSTED ONAPRIL 5, 2021EDIT”ATONEMENT”

Atonement

Chapter 14

Good Monday Morning to this week 14 of 2021

It’s the combination of “at one,” as in, “to be in harmony with”. You are at “at one” with God, you atone. The atonement then is “man’s reconciliation with God through the sacrificial death of Christ.”

How and why is this achieved?

Andrew Springer lays out 5 views in an article he published shortly before Easter. It would be great to also hear some views of Asia or the Africa. (I still regret leaving my book in a Rwandan Air flight “Theology Brewed in an African Pot”.)

1 — The Ancient View: Christ as Ransom

For the first thousand years of Christianity, most Christians believed that Christ was a ransom that was paid to Satan in exchange for releasing humans from the bondage of sin. Jesus himself said “Just as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many” That dualism is what concerns most critics of the ransom theory. One writer called that dualism dangerous because “among other things, [it] threatens the very sovereignty of God.” Basically, in some respects, it makes Satan equal to God.

2 — The Medieval View: Christ as Substitute

In this theory, it is God’s honor that is offended by our sin. And that offense cannot go unanswered, God’s honor must be restored. But man, being so much less than God, can never restore that honor on his own. “The debt is total, the obligation to pay it, total, the power to pay it, zero.” The answer then is found in the sacrifice of Christ: fully human, he can atone for man, fully God, he can restore God’s honor. This is Substitutionary Atonement.At about the same time Anselm was crystalizing his theory that God demands satisfaction, the feudal system was emerging in Europe in the late middle ages. 

3 — The Reformed View: Christ Receives Your Punishment

“The Father, because of his love for human beings, sent his Son (who offered himself willingly and and gladly) to satisfy God’s justice, so that Christ took the place of sinners. The punishment and penalty we deserved was laid on Jesus Christ instead of us, so that in the cross both God’s holiness and love are manifested.”This is called the Penal Substitutionary theory of atonement. “In Christ as Ransom theory, punishment is averted. In penal substitution, punishment is absorbed.”

4 — The Ethical View: Christ as an Example

The work of Christ chiefly consists of demonstrating to the world the amazing depth of God’s love of sinful humanity… There is nothing inherent in God that must be appeased before he is willing to forgive humanity. The problem lies in the sinful, hardened human heart, with its fear and ignorance of God… Through the incarnation and death of Jesus Christ, the love of God shines like a beacon, beckoning humanity to come and fellowship. Critics of moral influence atonement argue that at its best it doesn’t sound like atonement at all, and at its worst, dangerously veers into the ancient heresy , those who argued that Christians could be saved by their good works without divine help. But more generally, critics say moral influence theology doesn’t answer the question, “what do we need saved from?”

5 — The Battlefield View: Christ as Victor

Christus victor means “Christ as conquerer” or “Christ as victor,”. In a large way, Aulén reinterpreted our first theory of atonement, the ransom theory. The dualism demonstrated in that theory returns. The earth and heaven are locked in a cosmic struggle between good (God) and evil (Satan). Christ was sent to battle with and triumph over the elements of darkness in his kingdom. All of us are standing in the middle of a cosmic war zone. This view of atonement lies in sharp contrast to other views by its emphasis on the cosmic significance of Christ over the significance of personal salvation. “We are reconciled because the cosmos (all of creation) has been reconciled. Because the rebel powers have been put in their place, we can be presented ‘holy and blameless’ before God.” supporters point to many motifs found in various passages throughout the New Testament, like the power of Satan and his demonic hosts and our slavery to sin. Not to mention literally the entire book of Revelation, which casts the end times as the ultimate and final battle between good and evil.

To be fair, most, if not all, of these theories tend to crumble when pressed too hard. No theory of atonement seems complete or absolutely correct, at least to human understanding. 

As we ponder these five views and theories of atonement, there are many more, this Easter of 2021 we are in awe of the power of the cross and the atoning work of Christ. Because despite of, or in fact because of, its mystery, this debate, and these endless questions, people still find the answer as they have for two thousand years—in Jesus.

I wish you a blessed Monday Morning as you contemplate these thoughts!

Philemon

POSTED ONMARCH 29, 2021EDIT”REVOLUTION OF EASTER”

Revolution of Easter

Chapter 13

Good Monday Morning to this week 13 of 2021

“The message of Easter is that God’s new world has been unveiled in Jesus Christ and that you’re now invited to belong to it.”  N. T. Wright

a few more thoughts of the book “Surprised by Hope”

Let’s go back to the ancient Jewish expectation, which is rooted in Daniel and in the Psalms and Isaiah, that one day God Himself would come back and would overthrow the powers that have been running the world.

This is the great revolution, which like revolutions of our own day, is all about people who have been chafing under alien rule and feel their lives being squashed and crushed when they suddenly find that someone has done something to overthrow the tyrant.

That is precisely what happened when Jesus died on the cross. The “revolution” was secret for two and half days because it was only with Jesus’ resurrection that anyone could look back at His cross and say, “He’s defeated sin so the power of sin, the power of evil, has been overthrown.”

Easter a genuinely revolutionary movement that happened.

Easter commands us to think about a non-corruptible physicality, about a physical world that isn’t subject to decay and death anymore.

How about another angle to celebrating Easter? We could do in creative new ways: in art, literature, children’s games, poetry, music, dance, festivals, bells, special concerts, anything that comes to mind. This is our greatest festival. Take Christmas away, and in biblical terms you lose two chapters at the front of Matthew and Luke, nothing else. Take Easter away, and you don’t have a New Testament; you don’t have a Christianity; as Paul says, you are still in your sins…

…if Lent is a time to give things up, Easter ought to be a time to take things up. Christian holiness was never meant to be merely negative…. The forty days of the Easter season, until the ascension, ought to be a time to balance out Lent by taking something up, some new task or venture, something wholesome and fruitful and outgoing and self-giving. But if you really make a start on it, it might give you a sniff of new possibilities, new hopes, new ventures you never dreamed of. It might bring something of Easter into your innermost life. It might help you wake up in a whole new way. And that’s what Easter is all about.”

Wishing you a blessed start into this new week!

Philemon

POSTED ONMARCH 21, 2021EDIT”OMNIS SCIPTURA DIVINITUS INSPIRATA”

Omnis Sciptura divinitus inspirata

Chapter 12

Good Monday Morning to this week 12 of 2021

Omnis Scriptura divinitus inspirata ….

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works. 2. Timothy 3.16

A few thoughts from Peter Enns : The Bible Tells Me So

If your dominant vision of God is of a sovereign king, enthroned above, who communicates to his subjects through written decrees mediated to inspired men borne along by God’s spirit to insure the accuracy of the divine oracles, you will likely describe the Bible as necessarily: historically accurate, logically consistant, self-evidently divine, inerrant, fully and absolutely authoritative in all it teaches.

Passages, such as 2 Tim 3:16, are elevated as a super-authoritative standard that trumps any alleged “evidence” to the contrary.

Perhaps it is not the view of God that yields the expectation of Scripture, but the need for a certain type of Scripture that yields a particular view of God.

Ot maybe a little of both?

Either way, our view of God and our view of the Bible go hand in hand—paying attention to the one will always tell us something about the other.

The Bible presents a variety of points of view about God and what it means to walk in his ways. This stands to reason, since the biblical writers lived at different times, in different places, and wrote for different reasons. In reading the Bible we are watching the spiritual journeys of people long ago. Jesus, like other Jews of the first century, read his Bible creatively, seeking deeper meaning that transcended or simply bypassed the boundaries of the words of scripture. Where Jesus ran afoul of the official interpreters of the Bible of his day was not in his creative handling of the Bible, but in drawing attention to his own authority and status in doing so. A crucified and resurrected messiah was a surprise ending to Israel’s story.

This is the Bible we have, the Bible where God meets us. Not a book kept at a safe distance from the human drama. Not a fragile Bible that has to be handled with care lest it crumble in our hands. Not a book that has to be defended 24/7 to make sure our faith doesn’t dissolve. In other words, not an artificially well-behaved Bible that gives false comfort, but the Holy Bible, the Word of God, with wrinkles, complexities, unexpected maneuvers, and downright strangeness. This is the Bible God has given his people. This Bible is worth reading and paying attention to, because this is the Bible God uses, as he always has, to point its readers to a deeper trust in him.

We are free to walk away from this invitation, of course, but we are not free to make a Bible in our own image. What the Bible looks like is God’s call, not ours.

Wishing you a creative handling of your spiritual journey this week.

Philemon

POSTED ONMARCH 14, 2021EDIT”WHEN THE KINDNESS APPEARED”

When the Kindness appeared

Chapter 11

Good Monday Morning to this week 11 of 2021

But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared Titus 3.4 following to 7

The power source is the transforming love of three in one God announced in the gospel.
Apostle Paul wrote a very beautiful poem to help us UNDERSTAND IT.

****************
When the KINDNESS and LOVE

of GOD our Savior appeared,

He SAVED US

Not because of our right behavior,

But because of His mercy

We were saved through the WASHING

of REBIRTH and RENEWAL

Through the HOLY SPIRIT,

Whom God poured out on us through

JESUS  the Messiah, Our Saviour.

And so we are DECLARED RIGHTEOUS

By His G R A C E

And become heirs

of the HOPE of ETERNAL LIFE

*****************

Wishing you week filled with the kindness and love
of God!

Philemon

POSTED ONMARCH 8, 2021EDIT”JUSTIFIED EQUALITY”

Justified Equality

Chapter 10

Good Monday Morning to this week 10 of 2021

But above a servant, a brother beloved. Philemon 1.16

Philemon is a one page letter, the shortest book of the Bible.

Onesimus is a metaphor for us all.

This letter mainly concerns a slave named Onesimus who belonged to
Philemon and, at one time, had been rather useless; but after being with Paul and
receiving the gospel, was changed and became useful.

Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all. Forgive as the Lord forgave.

Christianity is a faith which erases ethnicity, social distinctions, employment status, etc. All are equal in Christ and must be treated as brothers and sisters.

Christ forgave us everything, and welcomed us in as equal brothers and sisters we are one in Jesus.

So this onus is for us, now that we are all “useful”.

The power of the gospel will and can transform a person from useless into useful, from someone with a slave mentality to a son and daughter, to a brother and sister in the family of God. Christ alone can work these holy transformations, changing a temporal servitude into an eternal brotherhood

And that, my friends, is why this little “book” is such an important part of our Bible.

Wishing you a good start to this week in this concept of justified equality.

Philemon

POSTED ONMARCH 1, 2021EDIT”HIDE IN HIS FAITHFULNESS”

Hide in His faithfulness

Chapter 9

Good Monday Morning to this week 9 of 2021

How does one find and write about “only one” verse to write about in Hebrews? There is so much wisdom shown in and through this book.

And now we have run into his heart to hide ourselves in his faithfulness. This is where we find his strength and comfort, for he empowers us to seize what has already been established ahead of time—an unshakeable hope! 19 We have this certain hope like a strong, unbreakable anchor holding our souls to God himself. Our anchor of hope is fastened to the mercy seat Hebrews 6. 18-19 TPT

The consolation (comfort after loss, disappointment or distress), received from God, is strong enough to support us, His people, under their heaviest trials. Here is a refuge for all who flee to the mercy of God according to the covenant of grace, laying aside all other confidences.

Though we be as ship at sea, tossed up and down and in danger of being cast away, we need an anchor to keep us sure and steady. First we experience his consolation as we hide in his faithfulness. Out of this place of protection, tent of his faithfulness we find, this certain hope, strong and unbreakable, as an anchor in the storms of this time empowering us to seize what is promised and lies ahead of us.

Wishing a very good start to this week!

Philemon

POSTED ONFEBRUARY 21, 2021EDIT”SOWN IN PEACE”

Sown in peace

Chapter 8

Good Monday Morning to this week 8 of 2021

Today from the book of James

The fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. James 3:18

St Mary’s Catholic Church in Umbarger, Texas, was an unlikely place for an international work of art. But toward the end of World War II, seven Italian prisoners of war, who were being held at a large camp nearby, were chosen to help decorate the church’s plain brick walls.

The prisoners were reluctant to aid their captors, but they agreed on the condition that their efforts be considered a contribution toward Christian brotherhood and understanding. But as they worked on their paintings and a woodcarving of the Last Supper, one of the POWs later recalled, “A spontaneous stream of good feelings began almost at once to flow among us.” No one spoke of the war or the past because “we were here for a work of peace and love.”

Our lives are filled with unlikely settings for introducing God’s peace. We can feel imprisoned by hard feelings, strained relationships, and confining circumstances. But peace has the power to break out anywhere. James reminded us that “the wisdom that is from above is . . . peaceable, gentle, willing to yield . . . . The fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. James 3:17-18

The best peacemakers are those who know the peace of God.

Wherever we are today, ask God to use you as His peacemaker.

Wishing a good start to this new week!

Philemon

POSTED ONFEBRUARY 15, 2021EDIT”PEACE WITHIN”

Peace within

Chapter 7

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 1. Peter 5.7

Good Monday Morning to this week 7 of 2021

There is no question that we live in a high-pressured time, we have responsibilities, personal expectations, work, family and alongside many personal goals. The further and the longer this pandemic goes on, the more anxiety is around, not knowing of how the illness or the consequences will change us or augment anxiety. Often anxiety can be like an inner pressure-cooker.

King Solomon wrote: “Anxiety in the heart of a person causes dejection, but a good word will turn it into joy.” The Hebrew word and thinking we find for dejection – “yashchenah”, has three different meanings, depending on how the word is read. It can mean:

1. to suppress.
2. to ignore.
3. to articulate.

A first level – Suppression

Suppression can be necessary in terms of both ourselves, and of the situation. Very often we become so obsessed with a situation that we forget that there are other important and issues. Recognizing this can lessen its intensity. The problem may still be there, but it has been cut down to size and no longer threatens to crush us. This all in regard to anxiety.

Another level – Disassociating

Ignoring like in separating ourselves from it, disassociating from it. The lesson here is that the mind is never empty. According to the laws of physics, nature abhors a vacuum, and emptiness is going to attract something. Therefore we remove ourselves from the negative by ignoring it, separating ourselves from it, and embracing “the God” perspective

A third level – Articulating

Is this where Peter comes in? Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you!

“If there is anxiety in the heart of a person, articulate it, speak about it, and a good word will bring joy. We need to have people in our lives who we respect and to whom we turn for advice. In the Torah the idea has often been advocated, of having someone to speak with, finding a counselor, someone with whom you can speak and who can help give you guidance. When we speak about something, we bring it out into the open and in Peter’s words we bring it to the Creator.

He who best can do something about it. With renewed strength and perspective we walk through anxiety.

In Psalm 55.22 it says, “cast your burdens/anxiety upon the Lord, he shall sustain thee!

Wishing you peace within!

Philemon

POSTED ONFEBRUARY 7, 2021EDIT”GOD’S TIME IS PATIENCE”

God’s time is Patience

Chapter 6

Good Monday Morning to this week 6 of 2021

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. 2 Peter 3.9

Peter continues to answer the mocking of the false teachers. They ask, “Where is this coming Jesus promised?” They teach that it’s been too long, He is not coming. The first reminder was to remember that God is not bound to human time. For God, a thousand years is like a day and vice versa. God is not subjected to our limitations of time, or even our confusion about it, or the way we get stressed about it.

Peter insists that this implies in a equal way, as to the question of time, it implies to his promises. God is not slow in keeping His promises, He the one who set the schedule. He cannot be “late.” nor ahead of time. Instead, God keeps these His promised, every promise at His, God’s time.

For us this feeling of being delayed, can mean the opposite, it is a witness of God’s patience not his tardiness. In His love-driven patience, God is willing to give more time for the fulfillment of the promises and the enfolding of His coming Kingdom. In the heart of God is that none be lost, not even “one of the 100 sheep” as in another parabol. In His sovereignty and power God decided not to demand by force. Peter shares and show us this exactly, God’s heart for his people. Mercifully God is creating more space and time for the fulfillment of His promises.

This thought fills me with hope, it’s not just God’s patience, but His time creating more space for the fulfillment of His promises!

Wishing you a good start to this new week!

Philemon

POSTED ONJANUARY 31, 2021EDIT”CONFIDENCE”

Confidence

Chapter 5

Good Monday Morning to this week 5 of 2021

This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him. 1 John 5. 14-15

This is the confidence – the liberty of access and speech, that if we ask anything according to his will, that is, which he has promised in his word.

His word is a revelation of his will, in the things which concern salvation and redemption. All that God has promised we are justified in expecting; and what he has promised, and we expect, we should pray for.

Prayer is the language of God. He who is been received of God speaks this language. He calls God Abba, Father, in the true spirit. Prayer also is the language of dependence on God. Faith and prayer are not boldly to advance claims upon God; we must take heed that what we ask and believe for is agreeable to the revealed will of God.

What we find promised, that we may plead.

This phrase “according to his will.” is only used two other times in the New Testament. In Luke 12, a parable is told about a servant who did not act “according to his [master’s] will” and received judgment. In Hebrews 2:4, the author mentions gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed “according to his will.”

Verses such as this clear up the common misconception that God promises to give us “absolutely anything” we ask for, no matter what. God is not a vending machine, or a robot. He acts according to His ways, not ours.

He hears our prayers, but it should come as no surprise that He responds to those prayers “according to His will”. This all reminds me of the other 3 principles; Ask, Seek, Knock!

“Keep asking, and it will be given to you. Keep searching, and you will find. Keep knocking, and the door will be opened to you. Matthew 7.7

Pray, as in asking.
Seek, with diligence .
Knock, persevere importunately in that diligence.

All in great confidence as we continue to approach God!

Yes, I have this confidence, but in regard to the many people I know, living in great poverty, and praying exactly these prayers, I conclude that without the faith in the confidence I am not completely satisfied. These verses remain a challenge to me as I think and pray for many in great need.

Wishing you a good start to this week!

blessings

Philemon

POSTED ONJANUARY 25, 2021EDIT”WALK IN IT!”

Walk in it!

Chapter 4

Good Monday Morning to this week 4 of 2021

And this is love, that we walk after his commandments. This is the commandment, that, as ye have heard from the beginning, ye should walk in it. 2. John 1.6

Second John was written around 95 A.D. from Ephesus where John served after being released from exile on the island of Patmos. If there is one thing to summarize the message of 2 John, it’s walking with God. So how are we to walk with God?

Twenty-five people embarked on a trip from Urfa to Hebron about 900km from Turkey to Israel, following Abraham’s legendary walk from what may have been his place of birth, to the place he is believed to be buried. This journey, from womb to tomb, laid the foundation for a visionary and hopeful project: the development of walking trails approximating the travels of Abraham and his family in Mesopotamia, who shared hospitality with people they met along the way. Walkers foster friendships across sometimes challenging divides, enriching understanding of this region and its peoples.

Walking is a tool for deepening understanding of self and other; it allows an experience of culture that is unattainable from the seat of a bus. The simple act of walking has connected people around the world since time immemorial. The Abraham Path Initiative has seeded walking trails here in order to reintroduce this storied region as one of irrepressibly hospitable people. This walk evokes the beloved regional origin story that shows up in everyday life: residents welcome strangers in honor of Abraham, a spiritual ancestor of over half of humanity.

By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. Hebrews 11.8

This verse defines the kind walk John speaks of. Here, it means obeying or walking God’s commandments, also in faith! Love is not merely an emotion, but requires actions based on truth and movement along with a selfless focus on other people

John re-emphasizes that this command is one the reader should already be familiar with and apply by being able to “walk in it” or obey it.

Wishing you a good walk of faith in this week!

Philemon

POSTED ONJANUARY 17, 2021EDIT”TRUTH”

Truth

Chapter 3

Good Monay Morning to this week 3 of 2021

I’m following in the pattern, one verse to one book of scripture. Today to 3. John:

I greatly rejoiced when some of the brethren arrived and testified to the truth of your life, as indeed you do follow the truth. (3 John 1:3)

Speaking of being consistent in his actions:

He showed the truth in his life, what impressed John was not that he knew the truth, but that he followed the truth. He lived it. He had a consistent life.

Truth’ involves both the quality of “faithfulness, fidelity, loyalty, sincerity, veracity”, and that of “agreement with fact or reality”.

Truth is the property of being in accord with fact or reality. In everyday language, truth is typically ascribed to things that aim to represent reality or otherwise correspond to it, such as beliefs, propositions, and declarative sentences.

Merriam Webster defines truth as :

: the truth
: the real facts about something
: the things that are true
: the quality or state of being true
: a statement or idea that is true or accepted as truth. In many Judeo-Christian churches the definition of truth is based upon statements made by new testament authors and the messiah. Truth, reality; the unveiled reality lying at the basis of and agreeing with an appearance; the manifested, the veritable essence of matter. The Hebrew thought and the culture is the driving force behind all of the translations. The word translates as truth, true, truly, right, faithfully, assured, assuredly , established, faithful, sure, verity, firmness, faithfulness, sureness, reliability, stability and continuance.

While that gives us a little more revelation, it is still not concrete, actually looking deeper we find out that truth is not antiquated or fulfilled.

Truth was, is, and is to come! This is wording we are very familiar with:
Who is, who was and who is and who is coming!

A great concept to tackle the concept of truth in our daily lives!

Wishing a blessed week, full of truth!

Philemon

POSTED ONJANUARY 10, 2021EDIT”CONVICTION”

Conviction

Chapter 2

Good Monday Morning to this week 2 of 2021

This year i’m planning on taking 52 verses out of 52 books of the Bible.

Jude 1:21 – keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life.

Keep yourselves in the love of God  ….

Jude’s words are but the echo of the tenderer words of his Master and ours, when He said, ‘As My Father hath loved Me, so have I loved you. Abide ye in My love. If ye keep My commandments ye shall abide in My love.’

The words are in great harmony with the general tenor of Bible and Jesus language: , and, in “continue ye in my love” or in Pauls language “the love of Christ constraineth us”.

looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ ….

The verb implies, that the “mercy” is thought of as in the future. There is no ground, however, for limiting it to this significance, and it may well include all acts of mercy to which men were looking forward in patient expectation, as in store for them during the remainder of their earthly pilgrimage.

Thoughts for Every-Day Living writes it beautifully:

“Keep yourselves in the love of God” does not mean keep yourselves loving God, but keep believing and rejoicing that God loves you. “Conviction” is a good word there, because it comes from con and victum—conquered, or vinculum—a chain. Be conquered, be enchained, by the thought that God loves you. “Keep” means guard, protect, as in a fortress. Live in this castle, and no enemy of doubt or fear can by any means hurt you.

Wishing you a great sense of conviction of God’s love for you as you start into this new week.

Philemon

POSTED ONJANUARY 4, 2021EDIT”REVERSAL”

Reversal

Good Monday Morning to this first and week Nr. 1 of 2021

Chapter 1

And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” Revelation 21.5

God is making all things new? Is this a prophecy, a wish, a desire, a vision ….

The first and only time that God addresses the seer, or speaks again after the verse in which he names himself as the Alpha and Omega. The almost unbroken silence assigned to God in the Revelation corresponds to the Egyptian idea of the divine Reason needing no tongue but noiselessly directing mortal things by righteousness. (Expositor’s Greek Testament)

A new conception of God. Often referred to a “new name” of God, for us to discover yet another part of God as he let’s this be known to us.

A a new spiritual body, a corruptible exchanged for the incorruptible.

A new character with new dispositions and habits.

A new social condition. Probably nothing will be more marked in the Kingdom of God than the new and then total reversals of the judgments and patterns of injustice currently prevailing .

A new dwelling place. Not literally, no need that we should take it that way. But as the other changes take place so with these changes result therefrom. In Psalm 107 there is much emphasis of this reversal. He turneth the wilderness into a standing water, and the dry grounds into water springs.” So is it for the righteous. So many are the aids to the faith, that, given a new moral character, there will be a new dwelling place.

The regeneration of the earth on which they dwelt is fulfilled in  Psalm 67: “All the people praise thee, O God; then shall the earth yield her increase; God shall bless us, and all the ends of the world shall fear him.”

Now, of all this, and much more is part of this this blessed spring tide. This spring tide needs to carry a seed. Have we, then, the seed of the life of God within us?

“I am come,” said the Lord, “that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” S.C

Lord, send us this spring tide, carrying the seed of life with these reversals for this earth, your creation, all people and nations, for us, create in us, create with us this “new thing” in this new year 2021.

Wishing all to see more of these “new things” and reversals this year.

Philemon

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