Faith, Love & Health

Archive for the category “Little People”

Stephanas

gift 

Have you ever met people who authentically care and show their love for each other by meeting people’s needs?  I have seen snap shot pictures of this in my life.  People in the church making meals for those who have been in the hospital, a teacher who actually cares about how a child learns and gives extra time and attention to see the child succeed, a phone call of encouragement, unexpected gifts for those who are in need, people just showing support by sitting with you as you go through tough times in your life and people using their giftings to help you accomplish a need in your home or life.  This could be as basic as household maintenance to using your area of expertise to help a person reach their desired goal – there are endless possibilities. 

The family that scripture marks as a giving family is the household of Stephanas.  We see that from his conversation that “their families heart was devoted to the service of the saints.”  We don’t know the extent of their service, but we do know that it was noble service.  Paul encourages other believers to join the work that this family was doing and not passively stand and watch on the sidelines.

You know that the household of Stephanas were the first converts in Achaia, and they have devoted themselves to the service of the saints. I urge you, brothers, to submit to such as these and to everyone who joins in the work, and labors at it.   I was glad when Stephanas, Fortunatus and Achaicus arrived, because they have supplied what was lacking from you. For they refreshed my spirit and yours also. Such men deserve recognition.  1 Corinthians 16:15-18

(Read more: Paul baptized this family.)  1 Corinthians 1:13-17

We see that they had such a large impact upon the church that Paul also encouraged other believers to submit to the leadership of those like the Stephanas family.  This family must have had a heart of love that extended to those they came in contact with.  They would have been encourager’s in word and in their deeds.  I know many of our Christian communities have individuals like this, but there is a great need for each of us to be part of helping build up the body of Christ. 

I know during the holiday season we are encouraged to help those in need, but it is my hope that the love of Christ will motivate each us to carry the gift of giving throughout the year.  

Advertisements

Hymenaeus

We live in a day where we have many leaders teaching many different ideologies of scripture.  Some of differences that are taught we can agree to disagree, but those who teach in opposition to scripture we must hold strong to scripture and warn those who are in the body of Christ.  Paul had this difficult issue arise in his day.  There was a man by the name of Hymenaeus who professed to be a followers of Christ, but disagreed with the physical resurrection of the believer after death.  They believed that the resurrection was a spiritual resurrection when one was born again.  This teaching spread throughout the Ephesian church and was leading many believers astray. Listen to how Paul addresses Hymenaeus’ teachings. 

Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly.  Their teaching will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus,  who have wandered away from the truth. They say that the resurrection has already taken place, and they destroy the faith of some.  2 Timothy 2:16-18

Timothy, my son, I give you this instruction in keeping with the prophecies once made about you, so that by following them you may fight the good fight, holding on to faith and a good conscience. Some have rejected these and so have shipwrecked their faith.   Among them are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan to be taught not to blaspheme. 1 Timothy 1:18-20

One of the things that we must see is that Hymenaeus along with Philetus were teaching the Gnostic doctrine of the Nicolaitanes, which in essence was a doctrine similar the to teachings of the Sadducees, which stated that there was no such thing as the resurrection of the body. We see in 1 Thessolonians 4:15-17  that “For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.”  It wasn’t just a Sunday morning teaching that spread through the church leading people astray.  It was the godless talk of people sharing this teaching that led them astray.  When we do not know / understand scripture or are not willing to challenge false teaching that people within the church are talking about, this will ultimately spread throughout the church and destroying the faith of many.

The second thing that we must see is that Paul was very direct how he handled the situation.  Hymenaeous was excommunicated from the church and handed over to the world where Satan rules.  This would be a loss of  spiritual covering from the body of Christ and from God himself.  This would be as equivalent today as excommunicating someone from the church and stating that a person’s teachings were of a cult.  People would not associate with this person and would stay away  from anyone associated with them.

 Scripture is clear that we will see more false teaching in the last days.  Each of us need to understand scripture and have an action plan in mind if we are going to battle this destructive force that could shipwreck the faith of those who are part of the body of Christ.  What will your action plan be?  

This a side note:  I just watched a Youtube post at Confessions of a Recovering Pharisee.  It is really sad when you read false teaching in scripture and then you watch Shirley Phelps Roper of Westboro Baptist Church

Tabitha (Dorcus)

Most of us have heard about Mother Teresa.  She has helped the needy and has sought to help those who have been outcast, sick and neglected in India.  Before there was a Mother Teresa in our century, there was a woman with the same compassion in the day of the Apostle Peter.  Her name was Tabitha or some of us know her by Dorcus.  

In Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha (which, when translated, is Dorcas), who was always doing good and helping the poor.  About that time she became sick and died, and her body was washed and placed in an upstairs room.  Lydda was near Joppa; so when the disciples heard that Peter was in Lydda, they sent two men to him and urged him, “Please come at once!”  Peter went with them, and when he arrived he was taken upstairs to the room. All the widows stood around him, crying and showing him the robes and other clothing that Dorcas had made while she was still with them.  Peter sent them all out of the room; then he got down on his knees and prayed. Turning toward the dead woman, he said, “Tabitha, get up.” She opened her eyes, and seeing Peter she sat up.  He took her by the hand and helped her to her feet. Then he called the believers and the widows and presented her to them alive.   Acts 9:36-42

This morning I was flipping through the channnels and stumbled upon Pat Robertson’s show.  I watched as Pat Robertson presented the great need for the children to be fed in Africa.  I know we have seen sences like this on televison before and some of us pass by the channel and others are enriched with compassion for those who are suffering.  I am kinda in the middle, my heart is saddened by the sickness and hunger, but I don’t have a strong compassion that motivates me to reach out to the needy like this. (Maybe the business of ministry in my world clouds out or numbs our universal need to help those who are need.) 

I am truely amazed by the compassion that God places in the hearts of some of his people.  Tabitha was one of those individuals that was motivated by compassion to help the poor.  Scripture states that she was “always doing good and helping the poor.”  Tabitha was more than a person who saw a need and gave toward the need.  She devoted her life to make a difference in the lives of those who were in great need.  She gave of her resources, time, and energy to make sure that the people who were created in the image of God had there needs met.  These are more than foreign people in need, they are our extended family who are in great need.  Who of us wouldn’t do everything possible to help those who were in need in our own families. 

The best question I think we could ask ourselves is how can we develop a heart of a Tabitha – which is really the heart of God.  Here are some things that run across my mind as I ask myslef this question:

#1.  Be an extention of God’s love to those you come in contact with on a daily basis.  It may be a your neighbor, someone you have come across as you go to the grocery store.  It could be someone you meet on a business trip.  What ever the case be open and willing to be an extention of God’s love monetarily, emotionly, and spiritually. 

#2.  Ask God to begin to give us a heart of compassion.  Remember compassion means to suffer.  You literally feel the pain others are going through in their life.  As this is developed in us, so will our motivation to help the needy. 

Tabitha used her abilities, and resources as extentions to communicate God’s love and grace to the poor and the needy.  Those who walk in compassion will always be remembered and be a source of inspiriation to all us to never forget what God has extended to us.  May we never forget, if it was not for Christ, we too could be the needy of this world. 

Susanna

Do you rememer the lyrics from the song Oh SusannaStephen Foster wrote the song back in 1847.  I really don’t remember where I heard the song as I was growing up, but I know I heard it somewhere.  Well today I want to talk about Susanna, but not the lady from Alabama.  The Susanna that I want I want to highlight on is the Susanna that we read about in scripture in the New Testament.  She is only mentioned once in scripture, but let see what scripture says about her. 

After this, Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him, and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out; Joanna the wife of Cuza, the manager of Herod’s household; Susanna; and many others. These women were helping to support them out of their own means.  Luke 8:1-3

One of the things that we see about her is that she was either demon possessed or had an incurable disease.  We know that she had an encounter with Christ.  She was set free from a stronghold and then followed Christ and the twelve disciples, helping support the ministry of Christ through her own means.  We really don’t know what type of means Susanna had, but whatever she had she was willing to use it to help promote the kingdom of God.  Some great things that I see revealed in her life is:

#1 She was a woman that overcame a huge obstacle in her life through the healing power of Christ.  The difficulty in those who struggle with a life controlling problem is that they have to cope with the sickness until they receive the healing.  My mother in law lives with me and has a chronic illness and everyday she must overcome the pain and limitations she has due to this illness.  We continue to believe and wait for the healing, but waiting can be difficult.  Susanna overcame limitations in her life until the healing power of Christ came.  This gives all of us who are waiting on our healing great hope. 

#2 Susanna was totally surrender to Christ and willing to give of herself to help proclaim the kingdom of God.  We live in a culture today that expects the pastoral leadership to do the work of church while everyone else watches.  We call this the consumer mentality.  This was not the case for Susanna, she was serving and giving her time, energy and whatever she may of had to support the ministry of Christ. Many of us think about Jesus’ leadership team being mainly the twelve disciples, but Christ had a huge support leadership team, like Susanna who enabled Him to minister. They helped prepare their conference meetings, where they were going to stay and much more. 

#3  I already said this, but I want to make sure we don’t neglect to understand that Susanna gave of her own means.  She managed her resources well and gave what she had to make sure that the ministry of Christ could have the resources needed to continue. I know in the back of minds we are saying to ourselves that Jesus didn’t need Susanna’s support, Jesus could have made food and any other supplies needed to just appear as he spoke them to life.  I would agree that he could have done this on a regular basis, but that would have been a disservice he would have done to his twelve disciples, if he choose to raise up his core ministry team without teaching them the value of the body of Christ.  We all have different giftings and talents to edify and build each other up.  I have to believe that Christ encouarged his beleivers to operate according to the giftings and function in accordance to his teaching about the body of Christ. 

I know it is so easy to pass by the gospel of Luke and not give attention to Susanna, but when we do this, we neglect to see the need that each of us have for Christ to take care of our needs and enable us to be the church.  An active church that brings life giving change through Christ as we come in contact with people in our everyday life. 

Rhoda

Some people we read about in the Bible we don’t have a clear picture of their character, but we can see their actions and how they respond to situations.  One of the people we read about in scripture is the servant girl Rhoda.  The only thing we really know about Rhoda is that she serves in Mary’s house.  It would also appear that she was a follower of Christ.  

 The only time Rhoda is mentioned in scripture is once in the books of Acts:   

Peter knocked at the outer entrance, and a servant girl named Rhoda came to answer the door.   When she recognized Peter’s voice, she was so overjoyed she ran back without opening it and exclaimed, “Peter is at the door!”  “You’re out of your mind,” they told her. When she kept insisting that it was so, they said, “It must be his angel.”   – Acts 12:13-15

The picture that we see in this passage is that Mary’s house is full of praying believer’s, seeking the face of God.  I’m sure they were interceding for Peter.  While everyone was in prayer Rhoda hears a knock on the outer entrance door and goes to answer the door.  Rhoda then hears a familiar voice, it is Peter (Apostle Peter) and she became so over-whelmed after hearing the voice of Peter that she ran inside the house to tell everyone!  I love the response of everyone.  You’re crazy Rhoda it’s just an angel you are hearing, but she continues to insist that it was Peter at the door.  Then finally they hear Peter knocking on the door and they see for themsleves who is at the door.  It was Peter! 

A couple things stand out as I read this story: 

#1 The servant girl must of built relationships with others (She wasn’t passive relationally when around people.) or been around Peter a lot.  For her to recognize his voice without opening the door communicates to us that Peter must of ministered at Mary’s house on a regular basis.  Rhoda must of been a regular part of this church and committed to those in the body of Christ.

#2 Rhoda was confident and persistent in what she believed.  She wasn’t a passive servant girl, but one who stood strong on what she believed.  This is a needed mentality in the church today.  We need to be confident in who we are in Christ and persistent  in communicating Biblical truth to edify and build the body of Christ. 

#3 Without stretching out this story too far, I believe that she was a woman of prayer.  We see in this passage that the church was gathered together in prayer for Peter and Rhoda was also there. We could say that Rhoda was their doing her job, but her excitement after hearing Peter’s voice was so large, I believe she was there praying, also.  It would be as exciting as praying for God to help us in a difficult situation and in the middle your prayer God brought the provision.  Who wouldn’t be excited! 

As we look through the window of Rhoda’s life we see just a glimpse of who she was, but we must not forget the huge role that she played in the life of the body of believers.  She was a key person in the life of those who were part of the church that met in Mary’s house.  It’s the servants of the church that get the job done.  Without the servants the main leaders would not be able to do their job.

Man of God – Unknown

There a few people that read about in the Bible that we have no idea what their name is.  We read about one of these individuals in 1 Kings the 13th chapter.  The only name that is given to this man is “Man of God.”  We don’t know much about his background, but we do know that God used this man to communicate to Jeroboam after he became King and began building false idols throughout Judea.  One of Jeroboam’s greatest fears was that the people would go to Jerusalem and pledge their allegiance to King Rehoboam (King Solomon’s Son) rather than supporting his kingdom. 

After the Man of God gave the word of the Lord to King Jeroboam, the king was furious and stretched out his hand to have him seized, but when the king did this, his hand shriveled up.  Then the king begged for the Man of God to intercede to God on his behalf to have he hand restored.  When the man of God did this, King Jeroboam’s hand was restored. 

After this, the King invited the Man of God to go back to the palace for some food, drink and a gift with him, but the man of God explained, “I cannot turn back and go with you, nor can I eat bread or drink water with you in this place.  I have been told by the word of the LORD : ‘You must not eat bread or drink water there or return by the way you came.‘ ” So the man of God departed in a different direction then he originally came.  You would think at this point all was well, but it gets sticky! 

 The son’s of a old prophet who lived In Bethel was at the altar where all of this took place and told their father what happened.  After hearing all that took place the old prophet told his son’s to saddle his donkey so that he could go find the man of God.  After traveling in the direction that man of God left, the old prophet find the man of God sitting under an Oak tree.  The old prophet ask are you the man of God that God used in Bethel?  He responded by saying “Yes I am he.”  Then the prophet asked for the man of God to come to his house for food and drink, but the man of God says, ” I cannot turn back and go with you, nor can I eat bread or drink water with you in this place.  I have been told by the word of the LORD : ‘You must not eat bread or drink water there or return by the way you came.‘ ” Then the old prophet lies and tells him that he was a prophet and an angel appeared to him and said it was okay for the man of God to come to his house for food and drink, so then the man of God agreed and went home with the prophet. 

Finally they arrive at the old prophet’s home and a word of the Lord come to the old prophet.  ‘You have defied the word of the LORD and have not kept the command the LORD your God gave you.  You came back and ate bread and drank water in the place where he told you not to eat or drink. Therefore your body will not be buried in the tomb of your fathers.’”  After the man of God finished eating and drinking he left and on his way back home a lion met him and killed him. Later the old prophet learns what happened to the man of God saddles up his donkey and brings the man of God back to Bethal and has him buried in the old prophet’s grave. 

There are a couple things that stands out to me as I read about the man of God. 

1.  We should never take what God has spoken to us lightly. 

2.  Don’t defile what God has entrusted you with.

3.  Listen to God for yourself, don’t let someone tell you what God is speaking to you.

I think the man of God’s mistake was he allowed someone else to speak into his life and he listened to them, when he had originally heard from God for himself and this caused him his life.  We need to make sure that we are men and women of God that listen to God and not others.  When we listen to God, we have the chance to live in complete obedience and that is when we become true men and women of God. 

Anna the Prophetees

One of my favorite things to do is watch people.  Especially the elderly.  I find many of the things that the elderly do are humerous.  (I want to make it clear that I am in no way making fun of the elderly.  In fact I have a great respect and honor for many of the elderly that I have spent time with.)  Some of the things that I love to watch older people do are how older couples relate to each other, how they enjoy life, what is funny to them and what they value in life.  Today I want to focus on one amazing elderly woman who God chose to use while she was in her 80’s.  Check out this scripture:

There was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and then was a widow until she was eighty-four.  She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying.  Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.  Luke 2:36-38

Many of us have read about the prophetess Anna in scripture, though we don’t know much about her, we do know that she was a devout Jew.  We also know that her father was named Phanuel who was from the Tribe of Asher.  She was married for seven years and then her husband passed away. 

What is simply amazing to me is the devotion that Anna had to God.  She wasn’t just a Sunday attender, she was devoted to worship.  Night and day she could be found praying and fasting.  I want us to stop and take note that she was recognized as a devout Jew because she was caught seeking after God.  When people seen her, she was regularly seeking after God.  I believe it was due to her devotion to God, that God could trust her to use her as a prophetees.   When we place a value on prayer we hear God’s voice more clearly and God is able to use us more regularly. 

Some of the keys for God to use us are:

1. Can God trust us with the information that He reveals to us? 

2. Will we know what to do once God reveals truth to us?

3.  We must not look to recieve the glory, God must be the focal point of our worship.

I know most people in today’s culture don’t give attenetion to the elderly as past generations did, but we can find rich understanding and insight when we choose to watch and learn how past generations were used by God.  Then if we apply these timeless truths to our life, we too could be the people that are written about in todays culture due to the amazing work of God and Savior – Jesus Christ. 

Grandparents of The Faith – Lois

For many of us our grandparents play a big role in our lives.  We remember the special times that they had spent with us throughout the years, the hugs, and of course for those special grandparents – their faith.  I know I have had the honor to have great grandparents of faith in my family.  They have been a source of encouragement and inspiration to my life and to those who have come in contact with them throughout the years. 

Timothy also had a grandparent of faith, her name was Lois.  We see in scripture that Paul was reminded of her sincere faith through the life of Timothy.  Paul said, “that the same faith that was in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice, I see in you.” (2 Timothy 1:5)  What a commemoration to Timothy’s grandmother.  Her life so inspired Paul that he took note of her sincere faith.  The best way to describe this sincere faith is to say that it was genuine – without hypocrisy. It is an individual who relentlessly follows after Christ no matter the circumstances, pain or loss.  She is one that other believers would look to for spiritual insight and hope in the mist of their challenges in life.   Now Paul tells Timothy, “I see her in you!”   What a great honor those words must have been to young Timothy.  To say that this woman of faith has lived a life that has transfered to his mother and now to Timothy.  This must have been a tremendous source of courage to keep pressing forward.  I’m sure that is why Paul continues by saying, “fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands.” (2 timothy 1:6)  Keep going, your grandmother had it, your mom had it and you have it too!  Keep going!  Pursue everything that God has for you. 

 Lois lived a life that kept living and now Timothy continued to live out his sincere faith and service just like his grandmother did. 

I’d like to say thank you to all of the grandparents of faith.  You have inspired and left a legacy of faith that the Timothy’s of our day long to continue. 

Heman

I remember when I was growing up in the 80’s watching the television show – Heman!  He was the most powerful man in the universe that battled the evil forces of Skeletor! Though Heman was a fictional character on TV, the boy in me wanted to believe that there was such a man with powers to fight the forces of evil.  As I have been going through the book of 1 Kings I found another Heman who has great strength in wisdom and in leadership.  Check out what scripture says:

Solomon’s wisdom was greater than the wisdom of all the men of the East, and greater than all the wisdom of Egypt. 31He was wiser than any other man, including Ethan the Ezrahite—wiser than Heman, Calcol and Darda, the sons of Mahol. And his fame spread to all the surrounding nations.  1 Kings 4:30-31

The musicians, the descendants of Asaph, were in the places prescribed by David, Asaph, Heman and Jeduthun the king’s seer. The gatekeepers at each gate did not need to leave their posts, because their fellow Levites made the preparations for them. 1 Chronicles 35:15

As we see in scripture Heman was full of wisdom.  He was the grandson of Samuel and son of Joel.  We also see that King David and King Solomon used Heman’s wisdom in making decisions about organizing events.  We don’t know in detail everything he did, but we do know that he was a great leader.  I’m sure there were many who looked up to Heman in his day and would aspire to be like Him. 

We also see in 1 Chronicles 16: 41-43 that Heman had a background in music.  We see that Solomon had him along with others, oversee the sounding of the trumpet, cymbals and other instruments.  I’m not sure about you, but I’m not going to appoint a person who has no idea about music over the orchestra.  That would be disastrous! You would never know what kind of sounds would come from them!  I would want someone who has shown he has the ability to lead my orchestra. 

 Heman isn’t recorded as the strongest man battling the powers of darkness, but we do see that he is a leader, full of wisdom -He was ranked just below Solomon, and a worshiper!  This guy was making a difference by embracing the gifts that God had given him and used them to impact a nation and a people as he served the kings of Israel. 

Rufus

Paul had an amazing family working with him in his ministry.  Serving with him and holding him up in prayer.  The mother of the family took personal time to serve Paul and was like a mother to him.  Though the whole family is amazing, I want to focus on one of the son’s of the family – Rufus.  To give you a little background, Rufus’ father is Simon from Cyrene who carried the cross for Christ.  Though we don’t know much more about this family, we do know that God used this family to support and encourage Paul in his ministry.  Here is what scripture says about Rufus. 

A certain man from Cyrene, Simon, the father of Alexander and Rufus, was passing by on his way in from the country, and they forced him to carry the cross.  – Matthew 15:21

Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord, and his mother, who has been a mother to me, too. – Romans 16:13

 The only phrase that we see mentioned in scripture about Rufus is that he is “chosen in the Lord.”  We all know that we are God’s chosen, but Paul must have seen something special in Rufus’ life that set him apart from other believers.  If he took after both of his parents it would be easy to say that he had a deep love for God and maybe even nurturing like his mother. 

I believe the most important phrase for all of us to hear is that “we are God’s chosen,” marked by God’s character.  We, like Rufus, should carry God’s character to all men.  If you think about it Rufus’ father carried the cross of Christ, but Rufus choose to carry the character of God to support the ministry of Paul and probably to reach people with the gospel message.  May it be our prayer today that our lives be a blessing to those we come in contact with and to further the message of Christ to the world.   

Post Navigation