Monthly Archives: February 2019

Effective Faith

I thank my God, making mention of you always in my prayers, hearing of your love and faith which you have toward the Lord Jesus and toward all the saints,that the sharing of your faith may become effective by the acknowledgment of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus. – Philemon 4-6

The brief letter of Paul to Philemon is an often overlooked passage of Scripture. In all my years of attending church and being in Christian media, I doubt I have heard a message from Philemon more than a handful of times. Unfortunately, its brevity may be associated with its importance to modern believers. Yet, I have found this epistle written from a prison in Rome, to an individual in a church hundreds of miles away, to be one which speaks to us about the practical application of our faith.

The church of Colossae met in the home of Philemon (vs 2) as it seems Philemon and his wife Apphia opened up their place for the saints to gather there to worship. They must have been wonderful hosts as in verse 7, Paul tells them “the hearts of the saints have been refreshed by you.”

Paul speaks of the “effective” faith on the part of Philemon, yet there is no indication Philemon was the leader. He and his wife served as the hosts of the church. They were faithful in doing the role God had for them. They were effective or productive in serving Him.

Too often people think it is only the person who have the title of “pastor” are serving God. Pastors or ministers of a church are put on a pedestal and thought of as being the only ones capable of serving. They are the only people who are devoted to Jesus in full-time ministry. Yet, Paul is indicating in this passage how Philemon (and his wife) are serving Jesus, by their service to others. They are so diligent at it, Paul describes their efforts as being “effective” faith.

The term used here, most often translated as “effective” means productive or energetic. There is considerable activity being generated and it is being put to good use. Philemon isn’t just making noise or wasting time, but he is serving God because “the hearts of the saints have been refreshed by you.” His faith is effective.

The challenge to me – and I think to all of us – let’s make sure our service to God is like Philemon’s. make sure we are effective or productive. We don’t all have to host a church in our home, but we all have some part to play. All of us have something to do. We all are to be effective, productive, full of positive activity as we serve Him and others.

What has He called you to do? Where is your faith effective?

Something About Worship

Worship is a term used to describe an event, or a segment of a church service, usually corporate singing. We’ll make comments how the “worship was very good today” or maybe it’s a negative remark, “I didn’t enjoy the worship music.” Few issues have caused such disagreements in churches as worship. We even throw around a term, “The Worship Wars” when describing the issue. But is this how “worship” is supposed to be? Is it just a performance we attend featuring our preferred music?

In reading the first 9 verses of Mark, I find this story of a woman (we know her name was Mary from the John account of the same event) who worshiped Jesus. There are a few quick thoughts I have on this passage covering this concept of worship. I’ll call them the 3 “C’s” of Worship.

And being in Bethany at the house of Simon the leper, as He sat at the table, a woman came having an alabaster flask of very costly oil of spikenard. Then she broke the flask and poured it on His head. – Mark 14:3

Worship comes with a Cost – The woman anoints Jesus using perfume made from the “oil of nard.” This was a very costly oil made from the stem of a plant found in India. The oil was worth a year’s salary for the common laborer. The oil was kept in a special flask, called an alabaster, which had a sealed lid. She breaks the lid and pours the perfume on the LORD.

I often wonder if we miss something with worship. I think it needs to cost us something. Worship when we give something of value to Him. It can be financial, but it’s service, time, humility etc. Too often, I expect worship to be a simple event I attend. I stand and participate or read a passage of scripture, but miss this vital point. Worship is costly. To worship Him, I offer Him something of value to me.

But there were some who were indignant among themselves, and said, “Why was this fragrant oil wasted? For it might have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor.” And they criticized her sharply.- Mark 14: 4-5

Worship Will Often Draw Criticism – The people in the house who witnessed this event could worship and rejoice with her. Instead they spoke harshly about her. The term indignant is used here, meaning they were pretty upset about this.

Sometimes, our worship can upset people. Because others see no value in what we are doing (they ascribe no “cost” to our activity) and find it a waste of time or resources.

I can remember this was the topic of discussion in a small group I attend and we realized we must always be careful when we look upon another church or organization and find their worship so different than ours, we become “indignant” about how other believers worship.

But Jesus said, “Let her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a good work for Me. – Mark 14:6

Worship is Commended By Jesus – Jesus sees this woman’s act as worship and commends her for it. He defends her and accepts her worship.

When one comes before the LORD with proper motives, with an understanding of serving and/or giving honor to Him, it’s worship. It’s not a pre-set list of activities or singing in 4 part harmony. It’s not a manner of dress or speaking in King James English, but it is a heart issue. It’s pleasing to the LORD and He appreciates it.

Remember the 3 C’s of worship. It’s not about you or even the 30 minutes of music on Sunday. It’s about Him.