Putting God's Word into Practice…

Philemon ~ A Beautiful Picture of Good News

on February 18, 2013

I think I could stay in this book for several days.  I might…  Philemon was a man who Paul led to salvation in Jesus Christ and opened his home up for the church of Colossae to meet.  He had a servant named Onesimus (which means “useful”) who stole something from him and ran away.  In Onesimus’ running, he made it all the way to Rome and coincidentally bumped into Paul…ha!  No coincidence–God was pursuing Onesimus!  Onesimus heard and believed the truth about Jesus Christ’s ability to save and set free and became His follower.  Paul was sending this letter to Philemon to appeal to him to receive back Onesimus as more than a useful helper but as a brother!  Paul promises to take responsibility for anything that Onesimus may owe Philemon and pay it back himself.

When I read this letter, it reminded me of my story and maybe your story, too.  We were created to belong to God, but instead we stole His glory for ourselves and ran away and tried to hide from our Master.  We rendered ourselves useless for our true purpose.  But through God’s providence and pursuit, in our journey we met His grace and forgiveness.  In receiving that gift, we also received a new, useful life!  Jesus–our Advocate and Intercessor–promised to pay our debt so that we could belong to God forever–adopted into His family–more than a servant of God, but His very child!

I am so thankful for the grace of God and for my salvation!  I’m so thankful for the new life that He gave me and how He erased all my sins and I don’t have to try to hide from Him anymore.  I’m thankful that I was enslaved to sin, and now I am set free and welcomed by God.  If you haven’t ever trusted Jesus to pay your debt and set you free, it is no coincidence that you are reading this.  God wants to give you forgiveness and grace.  Tell Him you are sorry for your sins and for running from Him.  Receive His gift of new life in Jesus, and be free!

Read the whole story for yourself:

This letter is from Paul, a prisoner for preaching the Good News about Christ Jesus, and from our brother Timothy. I am writing to Philemon, our beloved co-worker, and to our sister Apphia, and to our fellow soldier Archippus, and to the church that meets in your house. May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace.

I always thank my God when I pray for you, Philemon, because I keep hearing about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all of God’s people. And I am praying that you will put into action the generosity that comes from your faith as you understand and experience all the good things we have in Christ. Your love has given me much joy and comfort, my brother, for your kindness has often refreshed the hearts of God’s people.

That is why I am boldly asking a favor of you. I could demand it in the name of Christ because it is the right thing for you to do. But because of our love, I prefer simply to ask you. Consider this as a request from me—Paul, an old man and now also a prisoner for the sake of Christ Jesus.

10 I appeal to you to show kindness to my child, Onesimus. I became his father in the faith while here in prison. 11 Onesimus hasn’t been of much use to you in the past, but now he is very useful to both of us. 12 I am sending him back to you, and with him comes my own heart.

13 I wanted to keep him here with me while I am in these chains for preaching the Good News, and he would have helped me on your behalf.14 But I didn’t want to do anything without your consent. I wanted you to help because you were willing, not because you were forced. 15 It seems you lost Onesimus for a little while so that you could have him back forever.16 He is no longer like a slave to you. He is more than a slave, for he is a beloved brother, especially to me. Now he will mean much more to you, both as a man and as a brother in the Lord.

17 So if you consider me your partner, welcome him as you would welcome me. 18 If he has wronged you in any way or owes you anything, charge it to me. 19 I, Paul, write this with my own hand: I will repay it. And I won’t mention that you owe me your very soul!

20 Yes, my brother, please do me this favor for the Lord’s sake. Give me this encouragement in Christ.

21 I am confident as I write this letter that you will do what I ask and even more! 22 One more thing—please prepare a guest room for me, for I am hoping that God will answer your prayers and let me return to you soon.

23 Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, sends you his greetings.24 So do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, and Luke, my co-workers.

25 May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.

(P.S. If you read that, you just read a whole book of the Bible!!  Keep going!)


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