Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Wednesday, 14 September 2022:
1 Samuel 19:6 – And Saul listened to the voice of Jonathan. Saul swore, “As the Lord lives, he shall not be put to death.”
With a selfish, self-centered person, a vow made before God is easily broken. In the end, the idol of self is worshipped by this person more than God is, regardless of how much the name of God is used to justify ungodly decision-making.
1 Samuel 19:17 – Saul said to Michal, “Why have you deceived me thus and let my enemy go, so that he has escaped?” And Michal answered Saul, “He said to me, ‘Let me go. Why should I kill you?’’’
There was no trust in Saul’s house between Saul and his children, and deception went both ways.
1 Samuel 19:18-24 — Saul had lost all respect for the “church” and was prepared to use force against it.
1 Samuel 19:18-24 — God can easily control the hearts and souls of men in order to protect His servants. If He doesn’t, then there is a reason.
Note: Here is a link to a video summary of Philemon: https://youtu.be/aW9Q3Jt6Yvk
Philemon 1:1 – Paul, a prisoner for Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother….
Paul had many jobs in his lifetime. He was a Jew, and he was a Roman citizen, but he identified himself, first and foremost, as a fully committed follower of Jesus and a member of the family of Christ. How do you introduce yourself to others? For what are you most known?
Philemon 1:1, 2 – To Philemon our beloved fellow worker and Apphia our sister and Archippus our fellow soldier….
Christians are both workers and soldiers. Do you work for the Kingdom and fight for righteousness? Is that your focus today, or are you consumed by the worries of the world and wrapped up in earthly pursuits? It is critical that you walk through the day with the right perspective and focus, that you are not distracted. Your world view will impact every decision you make. Seek first the Kingdom one day at a time. The truth of the Bible cannot me just a philosophy to you, it must be your action plan.
Philemon 1:3 – Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Paul’s goal was that others might truly know, receive, and enjoy the grace and peace that comes through Jesus. Are you know by others as unnaturally graceful, gracious, and peaceful? Do the words that come out of your mouth exude surprising grace and peace? In the most chaotic environments, do you remain unflustered like Jesus sleeping in the back of a boat tossed about by the storms of the sea while everyone else panicked? If not, ask yourself why not.
Philemon 1:4-7 – I thank my God always when I remember you in my prayers, because I hear of your love and of the faith that you have toward the Lord Jesus and for all the saints, and I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective for the full knowledge of every good thing that is in us for the sake of Christ. For I have derived much joy and comfort from your love, my brother, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you.
Do you always thankfully pray for your brothers and sisters in Christ? How about today? Are others hearing about the impact your love and faithfulness is having on others? Are you knowing Jesus and making Him known to others more and more with each day, and are you praying that others would do the same? Does your love bring comfort and refresh others?
We cannot fully mature in Christ outside of relationships with others. The sharing of our faith is required to truly “know” the power of the Spirit within us. God has given us the mandate of discipleship and evangelism. If we are not faithful to Christ in our relationships, we live fruitless lives.
Philemon 1:8, 9 – Though I am bold enough in Christ to command you to do what is required, yet for love’s sake I prefer to appeal to you—I, Paul, an old man and now a prisoner also for Christ Jesus.
Do you command others to do what is right or do you appeal to them? Which approach is more loving? Are your emotions held captive (as a prisoner) by the love of Christ?
Philemon 1:14 – I preferred to do nothing without your consent in order that your goodness might not be by compulsion but of your own accord.
Paul wanted to give others the opportunity to do what they should by their own choice, inspired by love, rather than forcing them to do it. This comes with risk and takes great patience.
Obedience out of a sense of duty or responsibility does not have the power of obedience inspired by love.
Philemon 1:17-19 — So if you consider me your partner, receive him as you would receive me. If he has wronged you at all, or owes you anything, charge that to my account. I, Paul, write this with my own hand: I will repay it—to say nothing of your owing me even your own self.
Paul dedicated his life to sharing the Gospel and serving as an ambassador for Christ, entrusted with the message and ministry of reconciliation. (2 Corinthians 5) However, Paul didn’t just preach the Gospel, he lived in accordance with the Gospel as is evidenced in Paul’s letter to Philemon concerning Onesimus, Philemon’s former bondservant who had apparently wronged Philemon in some way.
Jesus paid our debt of sin on the cross and accredited His righteousness to us so we could have reconciliation and access to the Father, unity in Spirit. This was Jesus’ prayer to the Father: “The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.” (John 17:22, 23)
- Luke 9:23 — “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.
To God’s glory as a true follower of Jesus, Paul mirrors the Gospel he so passionately preached by serving as an agent of reconciliation between Philemon and Onesimus, offering to pay Onesimus’ debt and transferring his good name to Onesimus – “If you consider me your partner, receive him as you would receive me.” (Philemon 1:17)
Notice that Paul tells Philemon that, though in Christ he has the authority to command Philemon to forgive Onesimus and receive him back, he prefers to appeal to Philemon in love, giving Philemon the opportunity to join Paul in the work, sacrifice, and fellowship of the Gospel. Similarly, Jesus affords us the opportunity to join Him in the work, sacrifice, and fellowship of the Gospel by serving as His ambassadors and His messengers and ministers of reconciliation to others through the Gospel.
Confident in Philemon’s positive response to his request and their subsequently strengthened unity Christ, Paul asks Philemon to prepare a guest room for him in hope of a future visit. To His disciples, Jesus says, “In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?” (John 14:2) Join Jesus in the work of the Gospel today as you await that future day with Him in Paradise – “I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective for the full knowledge of every good thing that is in us for the sake of Christ.” (Philemon 1:6)
Philemon 1:20 – Yes, brother, I want some benefit from you in the Lord. Refresh my heart in Christ.
Paul could freely and confidently ask, and Philemon could confidently accept, because Paul was not motivated by any selfishness. Being solely committed to the work of Jesus, Paul presented Philemon with a decision of whether or not to serve Jesus, not Paul.
Philemon 1:21 – Confident of your obedience, I write to you, knowing that you will do even more than I say.
Love causes us to do more than what is asked or expected. Jesus said walk an extra mile, even for the unrighteous Roman centurion.
Philemon 1:25 – The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.
Paul began all conversations with a focus on grace and peace and ended all conversations with a focus on grace and peace. One of your biggest challenges today and everyday will be to not lose focus on your purpose and mission as an ambassador for Jesus and a reconciler. In your interactions with others, you cannot, as an ambassador, represent your own interests or speak on your own behalf but must represent Jesus and speak on His behalf; and regardless matter at hand, you must not lose focus on the goal of revealing Christ a bit more to the other purpose and seeking their reconciliation with Jesus, drawing them just a bit closer to Jesus. Don’t let the “issue,” whatever it may be, become the focus and a distraction from Jesus. Overwhelm the other person with the grace and peace of Jesus. Be willing to lose the argument or suffer temporal loss in order to win the true victory.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 14 September 2022: Live out the Gospel in practical ways today as you share the Gospel message with others.