A few week’s ago we saw some great racing. At MIS a Bandit battle ran through lapped traffic to get the leaders scrambling. On Saturday there was a lot of good racing, but the late model feature had the leaders racing side by side lap after lap. On Sunday the Midwest Tour came down to just a couple of feet of difference. What great shows. Well, we are in Philemon verses four through seven this week and there’s going to be some great truths here. Even better than the finishes last weekend.
Verse 4 – I thank my God always, making mention of you in my prayers,
Are you thankful? I mean, really thankful? For what? To whom? How often? We have to stop and really think about those questions. Do you live life giving thanks or are you ungrateful? In prayer meetings some nights we go around the room and from the youngest child to the most seasoned gray-haired saint, giving thanks for a long time. These are rich, great times. We need to do that in our families and in our personal prayer life. Can I get you started? I’ve been listening to Luis Contreras and heard him recently say, “God is good. God cannot do anything that is not good.” Let that sink in. Seriously, stop and let that really sink in. WOW! Be thankful but make sure you are thankful to God. Not to self. Not to the universe (whatever that means). Be thankful to the LORD Most High, God Almighty. You might say, “Yes, I am thankful”. How often are you thankful? The Scripture here says “always”. We need to live a life filled with thanks to God. It needs to be on-going, like our prayers. Now look at the end of the verse. Paul is thankful for Philemon, his friend and fellow worker. He mentions Philemon in his prayers. The other night one of the photographers and I were talking about how cool it is that the racing community invited us into their world. It is pretty neat. And one of my greatest blessings is to pray for you guys one on one. I enjoy when guys come up and share a struggle they are going through and I can pray for them. Let’s see what Paul was so thrilled about as he remembered others.
Verse 5 – because I hear of your love and of the faith which you have toward the Lord Jesus and toward all the saints;
Paul gave thanks as he witnessed love and faith. We see some great examples of God’s love demonstrated in person by Jesus Christ, but have you ever tried to describe love? That’s not easy to do. Maybe the best definition of love is found in 1 Corinthians 13, yet even this is more of a list of examples than a definition of love. Webster gives a definition of love as “God’s benevolent concern for mankind.” What Paul is saying in Philemon is that they were caring for each other and putting others before themselves. Paul also saw their faith. Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, something you can’t see or have not seen. It is such a blessing to see those that are faithful and love in God’s way. Are you that person? Terry at Jefferson often reminds the drivers they will not be remembered for their championships but for the respect they showed on and off the track. It’s a good reminder that crosses over to being a Christian. Think about it. Worthy to note is that this love and faith must, MUST, be placed upon the LORD Jesus Christ. He is the author and perfecter of life and we owe Him all that we are. Deuteronomy has some of the greatest verses of the standard. Check out Deuteronomy 4:29; 6:5; 10:12; 11:13; 13:3. Get the picture. It’s a big deal. What’s a big deal? To love God with all, all your soul, all your strength, all your heart. Pause and ponder that. How are you doing on that? LORD have mercy on me as I fall so short in that area.
Verse 6 – and I pray that the fellowship of your faith may become effective through the knowledge of every good thing which is in you for Christ’s sake.
Here we get a clear picture of something to pray for. We should be on the lookout and take note of prayer in Scripture and we should be praying those things. We should be praying Scripture and again, we should be praying continually. So what do we see being prayed for here? That our faith would be effective. The ESV says, “I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective.” Whenever we share our faith in a witnessing encounter the key is to know the gospel, the true gospel. This reminds me of Ephesians 6:19 in that great passage of scripture describing the armor of God, and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel. Know the gospel and preach the gospel often. Don’t miss out. Do it for the glory of God, not for personal gain, and certainly not for a right standing with God, as some might think.
Verse 7 – For I have come to have much joy and comfort in your love, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you, brother.
As humans we want joy and comfort. All too often those can be sought in the wrong places. We need to have joy and comfort in the LORD and seeing others being faithful. The other night I met with a group of guys and we studied just two verses, 1 Peter 1:1-2, but those verses were so rich and the teaching so marvelous that it turned into more of a worship time than a study time. We rejoiced over the thought of God’s election, His foreknowledge, and His work of repentance and sanctification. The guys were teachable. They wanted to know and they soaked it in. I was that night and am still today, rejoicing and thanking God because it’s not always comfortable even in church as doctrine can be so misunderstood and wrongly positioned. But a night like that refreshed me so much. Do you bring that joy to others as you faithfully obey?