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Spirit of Forgiveness

PHILEMON – The Whole Chapter 1:1-25

Greetings from Paul

1 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, 2 and to our sister Apphia, and to our fellow soldier Archippus, and to the church that meets in your house. 3 May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace.

Paul’s Thanksgiving and Prayer

4 I always thank my God when I pray for you, Philemon, 5 because I keep hearing about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all of God’s people. 6 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. 7 Your love has given me much joy and comfort, my brother, for your kindness has often refreshed the hearts of God’s people.

Paul’s Appeal for Onesimus

8 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. 9 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 Onesimus ran away 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.

Paul’s Final Greetings

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.

Life Applications to Every Verse:

Verse 1 > Although neither Paul nor Timothy had visited the church in Colosse, they had, during their earlier travels, met individual Colossians such as Epaphras, Philemon, Archippus, and Apphia who, after their conversion, had returned with the Gospel to their native city. So Philemon was a friend and fellow believer. But this letter does not present doctrine or give commands; instead, it is a request on behalf of another believer. Paul chose to introduce himself in this letter as being in prison for preaching the Good News about our Lord Christ Jesus. This is the only one of Paul’s letters where he used such an introduction.

Timothy visited Paul frequently during his imprisonment (see also Colossians 1:1) and was with Paul in Rome when he wrote this letter. Timothy was not imprisoned with Paul, but he had stayed in Rome to encourage Paul and to help with ministry needs. Although mentioned in the salutation, Timothy is not considered a coauthor. Paul wrote in the first person throughout this letter (the same is true for the letter to the Philippians).

Philemon was a wealthy Greek landowner living in Colosse. He had been converted under Paul’s ministry (Philemon 1:19), perhaps in Ephesus or some other city where he had met and talked with Paul. During Paul’s years of ministry in nearby Ephesus, Philemon had been building up the Colossian church, which would meet in his home (Philemon 1:2). Thus Paul considered him a much loved coworker. Like most wealthy landowners of ancient times, Philemon owned slaves. Onesimus, the subject of this letter, was one of those slaves.

Verse 2 – Apphia probably was Philemon’s wife or another close relative who helped manage his household; otherwise, she would not have been greeted with Philemon in a letter concerning a domestic matter. At this time, women handled the day-to-day responsibilities of the slaves. Thus, the final decision about Onesimus would have been as much her choice as Philemon’s. Paul greeted Apphia as our sister, that is, a sister in the Christian faith. Archippus may have been Philemon’s son, or perhaps an elder in the Colossian church (at the end of the letter to the Colossians, Paul had given special encouragement to a man named Archippus; see Colossians 4:17). In either case, Paul included him as a recipient of the letter, possibly so that Archippus would read the letter with Philemon and encourage him to take Paul’s advice.

The early churches always met in people’s homes. Because of sporadic persecutions and the great expense involved, church buildings were not constructed at this time (church buildings were not built until the third century). Many congregations were small enough that the entire church could meet in one home. Because Philemon was one of those who had worked to begin the church at Colosse, it was natural that believers would meet in his house. The church could refer to the entire body of believers, although it seems unlikely because Paul had been writing a letter to the entire Colossian church at this same time. It may have been that, as in any large city even today, smaller groups of believers met regularly in various private homes. One group met in Philemon’s home; some met in other believers’ homes, such as Nympha’s. Paul had greeted Nympha and the church in her house in Colossians 4:15. (For references to other house churches, see Romans 16:5 and 1 Corinthians 16:19-20.)

Because of the personal nature of this letter, Paul apparently chose not to include his instructions to Philemon in his general letter to the Colossians. Paul greeted the believers who met in Philemon’s home because Paul knew that not only would this group know about the runaway slave, but they would also become Onesimus’s “family” upon his return as a new believer. The church would need to understand Paul’s request and Philemon’s response to it. Then there would be no gossip, and they could immediately and lovingly accept Onesimus into their fellowship.

Verse 3 > Paul used grace and peace as a standard greeting in all his letters. “Grace” is God’s undeserved favor – His loving-kindness shown to sinners whereby He saves them and gives them strength to live for Him; “peace” refers to the peace that Christ made between sinners and God through His death on the cross. Peace refers to that inner assurance and tranquility that God places in a person, producing confidence and contentment in Christ. Only God can grant such wonderful gifts.

The phrase God our Father focuses on the family relationship among all believers as God’s children. In the context of this letter, Paul was emphasizing the family relationship that the master, Philemon, and the slave, Onesimus, had because both were believers. By using the phrase, Lord Jesus Christ, Paul was pointing to our Lord Jesus Christ as a full person of the Godhead and was recognizing Lord Jesus’ full deity. God the Father and Christ the Lord are coequal in providing grace and peace.

Verses 4-5 > Philemon had been converted under Paul’s ministry and then had returned to Colosse. Although Paul had never visited Colosse, he had heard (perhaps from Onesimus or Epaphras) about Philemon’s continued trust in the Lord Jesus and love for all of God’s people. Paul was saying that if Philemon truly loved all the believers, then he certainly would be willing to include another believer – Onesimus – in that love.

 

Verse 6 > This verse describes Paul’s prayer and introduces the request that Paul will make to Philemon in this letter. The word you is singular (as in Philemon 1:4) – this was what Paul prayed for Philemon himself. The Greek word koinonia is rendered in these verses as generous. Koinonia is a difficult word to translate, but it incorporates the true outworking of Christian love in the body of Christ. The word focused on Philemon’s relationship with other Christians. Paul prayed that Philemon’s faith would show itself in koinonia among the believers. Paul prayed that Philemon would put his generosity to work. Paul will soon ask Philemon to welcome Onesimus as if he were Paul, and that Philemon should charge any of Onesimus’s debts to Paul (1:17-19). This is true koinonia, Christians giving to one another and caring for one another because they belong to one another.

Verse 7 > The love that Philemon showed to all the believers (1:5) had also given Paul much joy and comfort. Philemon probably had acted out his faith among the believers in many ways beyond sharing his home for church meetings. But Paul was concerned less about Philemon’s actions than about the spirit in which he was performing them. Paul hoped that Philemon’s loving spirit – which had given others joy, encouragement, and refreshment – would also show itself in his dealings with Onesimus.

 

Verses 8-9 > Carrying on the thought from verse 7 – the love Philemon had shown to the believer and to Paul ought to be extended to include another. This was indeed boldly asking a favor – in the Roman Empire, a master had the right to kill a disobedient slave. In any other situation, Onesimus’s action of running away would have signed his death warrant. But Onesimus had met Paul, and Paul knew Philemon, so Paul mediated because of their common brotherhood in Christ.

Paul first described his right to make this appeal to Philemon. Paul was Philemon’s friend and spiritual father (Philemon 1:19), but Paul was also an elder and an apostle with authority in the name of Christ. Paul was subtly reminding Philemon of his authority. Paul could have demanded how Philemon should act because it was the right thing to do, but Paul based his request not on his own authority, but on his friendship with Philemon and Philemon’s Christian commitment. Paul wanted Philemon’s heartfelt, not grudging, obedience, so he preferred just to ask the favor of Philemon.

Verse 10 > In the Greek text, Onesimus’s name is the last word in this verse, exhibiting Paul’s skillful crafting of this letter. After the introduction and sincere compliments to Philemon, he began to state his appeal. He gave Onesimus’s name at the last possible moment, not broaching the actual appeal until verse 17. Paul approached Philemon with tact and humility.

Philemon probably had been angered that his slave had disappeared (in Roman times, it was like losing a piece of valuable property). Thus, Paul first explained that his appeal was on behalf of someone who had become his son during Paul’s imprisonment – that is, someone Paul had led to Christ from prison. Philemon would be dealing with a fellow believer.

Verse 11 > Onesimus’s name in Greek means “useful.” The name was a common name for slaves and is found in many ancient inscriptions. A nameless slave might be given this name with the hope that he would live up to it in serving his master.

Paul used a play on words, saying that Onesimus had formerly had not been of much use to Philemon in the past, but had become very useful both to Paul and, potentially, to Philemon. Under Philemon’s service, Onesimus had failed to live up to his name. Paul was confident, however, that this new man with his new life in Christ would live up to his name if Philemon would take him back. In Colossians 4:9, Paul called Onesimus a “faithful and much loved brother.” Onesimus had become known for his faithfulness.

Verses 12-13 > Although Paul would have liked to keep Onesimus with him, he was sending Onesimus back to Philemon along with Paul’s own heart. Paul asked that Philemon accept Onesimus not only as a forgiven runaway servant, but also as a brother in Christ. This verse suggests that Onesimus himself would deliver this letter to Philemon, so Philemon would need to make his decision as he stood face-to-face with his slave.

Paul was willing to give away his very heart, a part of himself, in order to return Onesimus permanently to Philemon. Onesimus had become part of Paul’s ministry team. This was a sacrifice on Paul’s part, for Onesimus apparently could have helped Paul on Philemon’s behalf. Paul knew that if Philemon were available to be with Paul, he would have helped him in any way he could; therefore, if Paul had kept Onesimus, Philemon would have been helping Paul vicariously. Paul implied that he trusted Onesimus so much that Onesimus’s service could be considered in place of Philemon’s; therefore, Philemon should be able to trust him as well. Paul, imprisoned for preaching the Good News, longed for his friends; how difficult it was for him to send away this man. Yet Paul knew it was his duty to do so – Roman law demanded that a deserting slave be returned to his legal owner (although Deuteronomy 23:15-16 states the opposite). Because Onesimus belonged to Philemon, Paul chose to send him back.

Verse 14 > Paul would have liked to have kept Onesimus with him (Philemon 1:13). However, he decided not to try to talk Philemon into allowing Onesimus to return to Rome to serve Paul; Paul might have felt that this was taking undue advantage of his relationship with Philemon. Paul sent Onesimus back to Philemon, preferring that Philemon make the final decision in the matter. The help probably did not refer to allowing Onesimus to return to Paul, but that Philemon would pardon his slave from severe punishment since Onesimus had become a new person in Christ. Philemon had to think of Onesimus not as a piece of property, but as a brother in the fellowship.

Verse 15 > Paul considered that all that had happened – Onesimus’s desertion and subsequent conversion to Christ – had been part of God’s providence. God can overrule and bring good out of human sin and folly. Onesimus had caused trouble and heartache, but he had become a new person, and Philemon would soon have him back. The little while of Onesimus’s absence would be overshadowed by the devotion that would bind him to his master forever. They would be together for eternity, but Paul also wanted Philemon to take Onesimus back into his service permanently now.

Verse 16 > For Philemon to accept Onesimus back, he would have to do so with the understanding that Onesimus had a new status – he was a person (that is, not merely a slave), and he was also a beloved brother. Paul knew how difficult it might be for Philemon to deal with Onesimus as a “brother” after the trouble he had caused. Paul made it clear that he not only trusted Onesimus (Philemon 1:13) but that he considered Onesimus a brother in Christ. With these words, Paul deftly placed himself, Philemon, and Onesimus all at the same level. While this prisoner, landowner, and slave had very different social positions, they were equals in Christ. While Onesimus had become very dear to Paul, he would mean much more to Philemon because Onesimus’s former relationship with Philemon had laid the groundwork for a lasting relationship between them.

Verse 17 > In this verse Paul stated his request: give him the same welcome you would give me. Like the father of the prodigal son in Jesus’ parable (Luke 15:11-32), Philemon should open his arms to welcome Onesimus back to his household and, as a new believer, to the church. God had welcomed Onesimus; so should Philemon. The word partner is koinonon from the word koinonia, translated as generosity. Philemon and Paul shared the koinonia described in Verse 6. Paul wanted Philemon’s attitude toward Onesimus to be based on his attitude toward Paul.

Verse 18 > Onesimus may have confessed some such act to Paul. The only way Onesimus could have financed his flight was to have stolen from his master money or possessions that he could sell. Even if not, he still would be in debt for the work that had not been performed in his absence. This would cause Onesimus to be extremely afraid to return to his master. It was bad enough that he had run away, but if he had also stolen money or possessions or had harmed his master in any other way, he would be in deep trouble. Thus Paul’s letter served as a buffer – giving Onesimus courage to return and giving Philemon the entire picture so that he might deal kindly with his slave.

Any money or possessions that Onesimus had taken certainly were long gone. Onesimus had no means to repay. Paul asked that any money stolen be charged to his own account; in other words, Onesimus no longer would owe Philemon anything, but Paul would. Paul was not suggesting to Philemon that he simply forgive Onesimus’s debt; the wrong needed to be righted. Instead, Paul took on that debt on Onesimus’s behalf. Onesimus would never know whether the debt was actually demanded and repaid. All he knew was that a debt needed to be paid because of his wrong actions – but that someone else was going to pay it for him. Onesimus got a dose of true Christian love through Paul’s action.

Verse 19 > Often, Paul would use a secretary to write his letters as he dictated them (see Romans 16:22). But sometimes at the end of the letters, he would take the pen and write a few words in his own handwriting to authenticate the letters (see, for example, Galatians 6:11; Colossians 4:18). For Paul to write the words I will repay it emphasized that he was placing himself under legal obligation to do so. Paul was not “just saying” this to placate Philemon; he meant to do so by putting it in writing. If Philemon had demanded repayment, Paul would have had to do it. But it seems that Paul knew his friend well enough to know that he would not demand repayment. While Paul told Philemon to put Onesimus’s charge on Paul’s “page” in the accounting book, Paul also reminded Philemon that he (Paul) had a huge credit already, in that Philemon owed his very soul (his conversion and eternal security) to Paul. Once Onesimus’s debt was put on Paul’s page, it would be canceled. As Philemon’s spiritual father, Paul was hoping that Philemon would feel a debt of gratitude that would cause him to accept Onesimus with a spirit of forgiveness.

Verse 20 > In the matters of ledgers and debts, once Onesimus’s debt was repaid, Paul would still have a credit, for who can ever repay someone for bringing him or her to eternal life? Thus Paul asked that the balance be paid in kindness to Onesimus as a favor to Paul. Onesimus had been useful to Paul (Philemon 1:11); Paul hoped that Philemon would find the same. And as Philemon had refreshed the hearts of the saints (Philemon 1:7), he could hardly do other than refresh Paul’s heart as well.

Verse 21 > Paul was not only confident that Philemon would welcome Onesimus back, but that Philemon would also do even more than Paul asked. This may have been a hint that Philemon would willingly free Onesimus so that he could return to Paul or be freed when Paul got to Colosse. We can be sure that Philemon welcomed Onesimus, but the “even more” is left unknown.

Verse 22 > That Paul would ask Philemon to keep a guest room ready in his home indicates that Paul expected to be released (see also Philippians 2:23-24). Some feel that this was Paul’s way of reminding Philemon of his apostolic authority. Or it may have been a tongue-in-cheek way of securing a kindly reception for Onesimus because Paul hoped to eventually arrive to check up on what had occurred. It is more likely that Paul was simply hoping to eventually visit these friends who had been praying for him.

His freedom would be secured through these prayers. The words your and you are plural, focusing on Philemon, Apphia, Archippus, and the church in Philemon’s house. Paul had never been to Colosse; the word return in Greek simply means “granted” or “given as a gift” (the root of the word is charis, “grace”). For Philemon and the church in his home to have their prayers answered with a visit from Paul would indeed be a gift of grace. Paul was released from prison soon after writing this letter, but the Bible doesn’t say whether he went to Colosse.

Verse 23 > The you in this verse is singular. These are personal greetings to Philemon. Epaphras was well known to the Colossians because he had founded the church there (Colossians 1:7), perhaps while Paul was living in Ephesus (Acts 19:10). Epaphras may have been converted in Ephesus and then had returned to Colosse, his hometown. He was a hero to this church, helping to hold it together in spite of growing persecution and struggles with false doctrine. His report to Paul about the problems in Colosse had prompted Paul to write his letter to the Colossians. Epaphras’s greetings to and prayers for the Colossian Christians reveal his deep love for them (Colossians 4:12-13).

It is unclear whether Epaphras was actually in prison with Paul. Paul’s words fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus may have been a metaphor of warfare or “captivity to Christ.” It is more likely that Epaphras was with Paul voluntarily and would return to Colosse.

Verse 24 > Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, and Luke are also mentioned in Colossians 4:10, 14. Mark had accompanied Paul and Barnabas on their first missionary journey (Acts 12:25ff.) and eventually wrote the Gospel of Mark. Luke had accompanied Paul on his third missionary journey and was the writer of the Gospel of Luke and the book of Acts. Demas had been faithful to Paul for a while but then had deserted him (see 2 Timothy 4:10). Paul had sent greetings from these same people in the letter to the Colossians. But in that letter, a man “Jesus who is called Justus” also had sent greetings to Colosse. Much speculation has been done as to why his greetings were not included here, but it may simply have been that he was absent on the day Paul wrote this letter to Philemon.

Verse 25 > The word your is plural, indicating that Paul sent this final blessing not to Philemon only, but to the entire church that regularly met in his home (Philemon 1:2). As Paul had begun his letter with grace (1:3), so he ended it with the benediction that the believers would continue to experience God’s unmerited favor. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ is with Christians’ spirits because the Spirit of Jesus Christ indwells the spirits (the inner selves) of believers (see Romans 8:9-11).

Although neither Paul nor Timothy had visited the church in Colosse, they had, during their earlier travels, met individual Colossians such as Epaphras, Philemon, Archippus, and Apphia who, after their conversion, had returned with the Gospel to their native city. So Philemon was a friend and fellow believer. But this letter does not present doctrine or give commands; instead, it is a request on behalf of another believer. Paul chose to introduce himself in this letter as being in prison for preaching the Good News about our Lord Christ Jesus. This is the only one of Paul’s letters where he used such an introduction.

Timothy visited Paul frequently during his imprisonment (see also Colossians 1:1) and was with Paul in Rome when he wrote this letter. Timothy was not imprisoned with Paul, but he had stayed in Rome to encourage Paul and to help with ministry needs. Although mentioned in the salutation, Timothy is not considered a coauthor. Paul wrote in the first person throughout this letter (the same is true for the letter to the Philippians).

Philemon was a wealthy Greek landowner living in Colosse. He had been converted under Paul’s ministry (Philemon 1:19), perhaps in Ephesus or some other city where he had met and talked with Paul. During Paul’s years of ministry in nearby Ephesus, Philemon had been building up the Colossian church, which would meet in his home (Philemon 1:2). Thus Paul considered him a much loved coworker. Like most wealthy landowners of ancient times, Philemon owned slaves. Onesimus, the subject of this letter, was one of those slaves.

 

 

Happy Mother’s Day!

Celebration of Mother’s Day Busuego-Family

Picture was taken before the author’s first book was published on August 2012.

No man succeeds without a good woman behind him. Wife or mother, if it is both, he is twice blessed indeed. – 1963.

Harold Macmillan

“I am successful and spiritually prosperous because of God’s blessings. My wife is the best God’s gift, blessing in my life, and the best mother of my four children, so I am twice blessed indeed.”

Elias A Busuego Jr PhD DTM

I called my wife Christie – MOM! Did you ever noticed that MOM spelled upside down is WOW? That is because my wife is beautiful and amazing mother of my four children: John, Chris, Elias (Jay) and Chrisha. They are all married with children. My youngest, our daughter Christine Elisha (Chrisha) will celebrate her second Mother’s Day with her husband Steve, and their son Nathaniel.

Our son Christopher’s wife Taylor will be her first Mother’s Day celebration with their daughter Zara Rose.

John, our oldest son with his wife Kristin will celebrate Mother’s Day with their children: Greyson, Harper and Maxwell.

Elias (Jay), our youngest son with his wife Sarah will also celebrate Mother’s Day with their children, Miles Elias and Liliana.

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Photo by Giftpundits.com on Pexels.com

Happy Mother’s Day!

As a mother and a wife, the wife must come first, then the mother. It isn’t correct for a mother to interfere and take priority in her married daughter and son’s life. That said, this is hopefully not a path that has to be walked – to me it’s fine for my spouse to spend time with his/her mother, just the two of them!

Wife is a wife , she can’t be your motherMother’s love is unconditional and can’t be replaced by any one that is true. Remember one thing , Mother loves the child because you are born through her, your are her blood. … But wife she is a different blood although she loves you why that is God’s gift and a miracle.

Testimony of a wife 64 years of marriage.

Who should come first: your mother or your wife?

Magda Selmeci
Magda Selmeci, Master of Science Theoretical Physics & Quantum Mechanics, York University (1973) Originally Answered: Is a wife more important than a mother?

In the Bible, the book of Proverbs 31:10-29 says, “A Wife of Noble Character10  Who can find a virtuous and capable wife? She is more precious than rubies. 11  Her husband can trust her, and she will greatly enrich his life. 12  She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life. 13  She finds wool and flax and busily spins it. 14  She is like a merchant’s ship, bringing her food from afar. 15  She gets up before dawn to prepare breakfast for her household and plan the day’s work for her servant girls. 16  She goes to inspect a field and buys it; with her earnings she plants a vineyard. 17  She is energetic and strong, a hard worker. 18  She makes sure her dealings are profitable; her lamp burns late into the night. 19  Her hands are busy spinning thread, her fingers twisting fiber. 20  She extends a helping hand to the poor and opens her arms to the needy. 21  She has no fear of winter for her household, for everyone has warm clothes. 22  She makes her own bedspreads. She dresses in fine linen and purple gowns. 23  Her husband is well known at the city gates, where he sits with the other civic leaders. 24  She makes belted linen garments and sashes to sell to the merchants. 25  She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future. 26  When she speaks, her words are wise, and she gives instructions with kindness. 27  She carefully watches everything in her household and suffers nothing from laziness. 28  Her children stand and bless her. Her husband praises her: 29  “There are many virtuous and capable women in the world, but you surpass them all!”

These verses describe an ideal woman whose virtuous qualities are both a challenge and an encouragement to women striving for the same excellence. The verses form an acrostic or alphabetical poem, with each verse beginning with successive letters of the Hebrew alphabet. The term translated “virtuous” (Proverbs 31:10) refers elsewhere to strength, ability, efficiency, wealth, and valor. She works late into the night (Proverbs 31:18). Earlier, the book noted that an understanding wife is from the Lord (Proverbs 19:14). Here, that gift from God is described in detail. The key to the character of this worthy woman is found in the fact that she “fears the Lord” (Proverbs 31:30; cf. 1:7). The book begins and ends by focusing on this motivating concept.

 

The Most Beautiful Heart

The Young Man and Old Man Hearts

 

 

 

man wearing sunglasses
Photo by Bran Sodre on Pexels.com
Author Unknown – alltimeshortstories.com published at RESBC Prime Time May 2020

A young man was proud of his healthy and beautiful heart. One day, standing in the middle of the town, he proclaimed that he had the most beautiful heart in the whole valley. A large crowd gathered to have a look at his heart. His heart was smooth, shiny, and looked very healthy. Indeed, the man had the most beautiful heart in the valley, everyone agreed. The proud young man felt delighted and boasted his perfect which everyone admired. Suddenly, a voice from the crowd said, “Your heart is not as beautiful as mine.”The young man searched for the person behind the voice and an old man appeared in front of him.

“Show us your heart if you believe you have a more beautiful heart than mine”, said the young man. The old man carefully showed his heart. The crowd and the young man looked at the old man’s heart. The heart was beating strongly and healthily, but it was not smooth and shiny as the young man’s heart. Instead, it had scars all over it. It had pieces where some pieces of the heart had been removed and other pieces were put in. The other pieces didn’t fit perfectly and there were several uneven edges. In some places, there were deep gouges where some pieces were missing. The crowd laughed at the old man’s heart. “How can he claim that he has the most beautiful heart when it is all scared and uneven”, they thought.

The young man looked at the old man’s heart and laughed. “You must be kidding. Compare your heart and mine. My heart looks perfect and smooth, and yours is a mess of scars and tears.”

“Yes, your heart looks perfect, but I would never trade your heart with mine”, said the old man. “Every scar in my heart represents a person to whom I have given my love. I tear a piece of my heart and give to them. Often, my loved one gives me back a piece of their heart which fits into the empty place in my heart. Since everyone loves each other in a different way, their piece of heart may not perfectly fit my heart, so you can see some rough edges. These scars and rough edges remind me of the love we shared”, he continued.

“Sometimes I would give a piece of my heart, but the other person may not return of their heart to me. These are the empty gouges. Although these gouges are painful, these remind me of the love I have for these people, too. So, do you now see what a true beauty my heart is?”, asked the old man.

The young man and the crowd stood silently with tears running down their cheeks. The young man walked to the old man, reached into his perfect and beautiful heart, ripped a piece out of it, and offered it to the man with trembling hands.

The old man gratefully received the offering, placed it in his heart, and then took a piece from his old heart and placed it in the young man’s heart.

The young man looked at his heart, it did not look shiny and smooth like it used to. But, it was now more beautiful because he could feel the love from the old man’s heart flowing into his.

This short story is almost similar to my short life story. When I was a Staff Sergeant in the U.S. Marine Corps, I shared my love – the agape love that I received from our Lord Jesus Christ to one of the Marine in my platoon.

 

 

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com
In the Bible, book of Matthew 6:20-21 says, “20 Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. 21 Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.”

How does a person store his treasures in heaven? Storing treasures in heaven includes, but is not limited to, tithing our money. It is also accomplished through bringing others to our Lord Jesus Christ and all acts of obedience to God. That “treasure” is the eternal value of whatever we accomplish on earth. Acts of obedience to God, laid up in heaven, are not susceptible to decay, destruction, or theft. Nothing can affect or change them; they are eternal. The final sentence points out the significance of our Lord Jesus Christ’s words: “Wherever your treasure is, there your heart and thoughts will also be.” Wherever our focus lies, whatever occupies our thoughts and our time – that is our “treasure.” Our Lord Jesus Christ contrasted heavenly values with earthly values when He explained that our first loyalty should be to those things that do not fade, cannot be stolen or used up, and never wear out. He calls for a decision that allows us to live contentedly with whatever we have because we have chosen what is eternal and lasting.

Luke 6:45 says, “A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart.”

Our Lord Jesus Christ reminded His listeners that their deeds and speech (what they say) would reveal their true underlying beliefs, attitudes, and motivations. The good impressions people try to make cannot last if their hearts are deceptive. What is in the heart will come out in a person’s speech and behavior.

 

Proverbs 4:23 says, “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.”

The heart, because it is the depository of all wisdom and the source of whatever affects life and character (Matthew 12:35; 15:19), must be carefully guarded and protected from evil (Philippians 4:8). The heart, like a spring, is to be valued (Joshua 15:13-19; Judges 1:11-15), protected (Genesis 29:2; Exodus 2:17; 2 Chronicles 32:30), and not polluted (2 Kings 2:19.).

Proverbs 27:19 says, “As a face is reflected in water, so the heart reflects the real person.”

Our face is reflected accurately in clean calm water. So a man’s or woman’s heart mirrors who he or she really is.

HFC Response to COVID-19

Home Fellowship Churches Response to COVID-19

The United States is responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and despite “shelter in place” requirements, Born-Again Christian believers of Home Fellowship Churches continue to receive powerful and effective prayer, daily devotionals and inspiring God’s Words and virtual counselling services they have come to expect by faith and trust in God.

The health and safety of our families, relatives, loved ones and neighbors is, as ever, our priority in our prayers. As this situation unfolds, we are taking all necessary steps to protect families and relatives, and collecting true and good news from local, state and federal authorities especially from FoxNews to ensure the safety, dependability, spiritual services with encouragement and inspiration, and insights such as faith, hope, and agape love we share. Our hearts go out to those affected by the virus, and we are committed to accomplish our purpose, vision, and mission being part of spiritual, mental, emotional, relational response to it in the communities we love and serve. We will continue to communicate with all of our families, relatives, loved ones, friends, neighbors, church partners, veterans and their families in the American Legion Post 447 and District 10 about our response of good attitude and behavior, concerns, and prayer requests and as circumstances dictate in the coming weeks or months, hopefully, and God forbid.

Do not be afraid. Be smart and vigilant against this pandemic coronavirus. Have faith and trust God. We will continue to pray for all of you in your homes.

In the Bible, book of James 5:7-8 says, “Dear brothers and sisters, be patient as you wait for the Lord’s return. Consider the farmers who patiently wait for the rains in the fall and in the spring. They eagerly look for the valuable harvest to ripen. 8 You, too, must be patient. Take courage, for the coming of the Lord is near.”

We as believers are to be patient even during injustice especially these hardships, suffering, grieving and mourning. We as Born-Again Christian believers need to endure, trust in God through our trials, and refuse to try to get even for wrongs committed against us (see also James 1:2, 12; Psalm 37). But patience does not mean inaction. There was worked to be done – serving God, caring for one another, and proclaiming the Good News. There is an end point, a time when patience will no longer be needed – our Lord Jesus Christ’s return. At that time, everything will be made right. The early church lived in constant expectation of Christ’s return, and so should we. Because we do not know when Christ will return to bring justice, anti-lynching, and remove oppression, we must wait with patience (see 2 Peter 3:8-10). As an example of patience, James talks about the farmer who must patiently wait for the precious harvest to ripen. Patience must be exercised and developed between the rains. Even nonfarmers have plenty of opportunities to develop patience. The waiting for the arrival of a baby, starting a new job, finishing school, waiting for a loved one’s visit, slowly improving health during a prolonged illness, Shelter-At-Home, sick of coronavirus, drug addictions, spousal and child abuse, all these situations try our patience. We will exercise patience as we concentrate on the result of our waiting. God’s way is seldom the quick way, but it is always the complete way.

There are three (3) truths to remember:

  1. Waiting reveals what we worship. When the Israelites’ plans were delayed, they pursued instant gratification because that’s what they valued. When we find ourselves dissatisfied with our situation (loneliness, emptiness, self-quarantine, sick, etc.) what do we turn to? Government officials, scientist, data medical models, etc.? What we focus on reveals what we value, and what we value determines what we worship.
  2. Waiting is never wasted. God wasn’t withholding His promise from the Israelites – He was preparing them for it. God’s timeline is different than ours, but our waiting might be preparing us for the plans and purposes God has for us.
  3. Waiting helps us focus on God’s faithfulness. God’s faithfulness hasn’t changed. The God who patiently protected and provided for the Israelites also conquered death so that we could experience eternal life.

If we find ourselves growing weary from waiting, look up and look back for learned lessons on what God’s done for us. This will help us hold onto hope.

Hoping in God is never wasted because the One and mighty God, our Lord Jesus Christ who conquered death is still in control, in the person of God – the Holy Spirit. The Holy spirit is always at work in our waiting.

Again, have faith and trust God. God bless you all!

 

The Battlegrounds

The Battlegrounds are in our thoughts (minds) where we have to make the right choices and decisions.

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 We need to learn and apply how to battle first in worshipping our God, who was, and is, to come as King of kings and Lord of lords.

 We need to know and understand that this is where we should always win in this world, by renewing our mind with God’s Words and in the power of the Holy Spirit. Our mind is the battleground. When we chose and obey God’s commandments in the power of the Holy Spirit, we are winning, in contrast, when we chose and live the needs of our flesh (body and soul), then we are losing.

 We need to demolish arguments and every pretension, affectation, posturing or self-importance that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive, prisoner, detainee, hostage every thought to make it obedient to Christ. We will be ready to punish, chastise, discipline, penalize, castigate, reprove, rebuke or reprimand every act of disobedience, once our obedience is finish or complete.

Ephesians 6:10-18 stated, “10 A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. 12 For we* are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. 14 Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. 15 For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared.* 16 In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil.* 17 Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.”

Be strong with the Lord’s mighty power refers to strength derived from God, not strength we humans have to somehow obtain. The words “be strong” describe continual empowering of the Christian community. God’s strength and power are part of the Kingdom blessings available to God’s people. The power that raised our Lord Jesus Christ from the dead empowers us, God’s people as we prepare for the spiritual battle we must face on this earth.

God empowers His people, but He does not send them into battle unarmed. We as God’s people – Born-Again Christian believers must put on all of God’s armor (see also Romans 13:12). The panoplia, or full armor, means complete equipment, head-to-toe protection, both defensively and offensively. This gear was for hand-to-hand combat. This “armor of God” was mentioned in the Old Testament. Isaiah 59:17 describes God as wearing the breastplate of righteousness and the helmet of salvation. Paul wrote this letter while chained to a Roman soldier. Certainly the soldier’s armor must have brought this metaphor to mind. Paul described a divine and complete “outfit” that God gives believers in order to provide all we need to stand firm against all strategies and tricks of the Devil. The Devil rules the world of darkness, the kingdom opposed to God. “Stand against” was a military term meaning to resist the enemy, hold the position, and offer no surrender. The Devil will not fight fair; he uses subtle tricks and schemes. Our ability to stand firm depends on our use of the armor.

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Faith involves three things: first, the perception of truth; second, an interest in it; third, the commitment of the mind to be interested in and controlled by the truths that faith perceives.

Perception of the truth must come first, for we cannot believe a truth that we do not know or perceive. Next, there must be an interest in the truth that will wake up the mind to focused and active attention. And third, there must be a voluntary commitment of the mind to be controlled by truth. The mind must wholly yield itself up to God to be governed entirely by His will.

Faith receives Christ. The mind first perceives Christ’s character and how He relates to us; it sees what He does for us. Then, when the soul deeply feels its need of such a Savior and such an inner work as He alone can do, it goes forth to receive and embrace Jesus as its own Savior. This action of the soul in receiving and embracing Christ is not sluggish; it is not done in a state of sleepy passivity. No, it involves the soul’s most strenuous activity. This commitment of the soul must become a glorious, living, energizing principle. Not only must the mind perceive, but also it must yield itself up with the most fervid intensity to be Christ’s and to receive into the soul all the benefits of His salvation.

“Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.” (Revelation 3:20 NLT). What could more powerfully and beautifully teach the doctrine that by faith Christ is introduced into the very soul of the believer to dwell there by His gracious presence?

Ever since our minds have been drawn to this subject, we have been astonished to see how long we have been dim sighted in respect to this particular view of faith. For a long time we scarcely saw it. Now we see it beaming forth in lines of glory on almost every page of Scripture. The Bible seems to blaze with the glorious truth. “For God wanted them to know that the riches and glory of Christ are for you Gentiles, too. And this is the secret: Christ lives in you. This gives you assurance of sharing His glory.” (Colossians 1:27 NLT), of God dwelling in our bodies as in a temple, “Don’t you realize that all of you together are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God lives in you? “ (1 Corinthians 3:16 NLT). I am amazed that a truth so rich, so blessed, and so plainly revealed in the Bible was so dim to my sight. Christ received into the very soul by faith and thus brought into the nearest possible relationship to our hearts and lives; Christ Himself becoming the all-sustaining power within us by which we gain victory over the world; Christ living in and energizing our hearts – This is the great central truth in the plan of sanctification. Because believers value victory over the world and the living communion of the soul with its Maker, no Christian should fail to understand this truth.

 

The Cross at the Calvary

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The Cross of Calvary

We can only experience to become a new person when we accept the love of God, His righteousness from the Cross of Calvary. As soon as we accept Him as our personal Savior, we have been adopted to family of God. The Holy Spirit quickened our dead spirit and regenerated into new person spiritually.

The power of prayer is most forceful on the battlefield in the midst of the noise and strife of the conflict. Paul was preeminently a soldier of the Cross. For him, life was no flowery bed of ease. Moreover, in sight of the end, we hear him chanting his final song of victory. “I have fought a good fight” (2 Timothy 4:7). Reading between the lines, we see that he is more than a conqueror!

 

Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war,
With the cross of Jesus going on before.
Christ, the royal Master, leads against the foe;
Forward into battle see, His banners go!

Chorus:
Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war,
With the cross of Jesus going on before.

“The sure way for the sick is, first to the cross for cleansing, then to the Upper Room for the gift of the Holy Spirit, then to the mount appointed for a life commission, and, lastly, to the Great Physician for strength for service.” – As I quoted from Bryant – F.F. Bosworth.

 

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The power of prayer is most forceful on the battlefield in the midst of noise and strife of the conflict. Paul was preeminently a soldier of the cross. For him, life was no flowery bed of ease. And in the sight of the end, we hear him chanting his final song of victory, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful.” (2 Timothy 4:7 NLT). Reading between the lines, we see that he is more than a conqueror!

Christians often hunger for a deeper and more meaningful relationship with the Father, one that is full of His interaction with them. This is the work of the Holy Spirit, the work 1 Corinthians chapters 12, 13, 14 speak of: a releasing of charismata or spiritual gifts to empower believers into His presence. Unfortunately, we have all witnessed or heard of the misuse and abuse of gifts, which cause many to fear the Holy Spirit’s ministry. It is important to say at the outset of this discussion that people, including many Christians, tend to abuse whatever it is that God gives to bless us. We have often abused the life-giving grace of the cross, taking advantage of the death and resurrection of Christ. Fortunately, God does not withdraw grace due to humans abusing it. In like manner, when we abuse the gifts and ministry of the Holy Spirit, we are taught in the Word to correct our behavior, not do away with the Holy Spirit’s ministry.” 

Imagine this scene in heaven prior to the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. The Father looks at His beloved Son and says, “Son, will you go to earth? Will you become flesh? Will you bear the sins of the world and die on a cruel Roman cross?”

The Son responds, “Father, for Me to go to earth, become a man and bear the sins of the world, I would need the Holy Spirit to go with Me. I would need His power to make Me flesh. I would need His power demonstrated through my life on earth to prove to all that I am your Son. I would need His power to endure the cross and to rise from the dead.”

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It was the Holy Spirit who gave our Lord Jesus Christ the power to feed the multitudes, walk on water, and raise the dead, demonstrating that He was indeed the Son of God. It was the Holy Spirit who helped Him endure the cross. And it was the Holy Spirit who raised Him from the dead. The Holy Spirit was fully the presence and power of God in our Lord Jesus Christ.

Our Lord Jesus Christ would soon die on the cross, be raised from the dead, and ascend to heaven. But He promised to ask the Father to send us “another Helper” (14:16, NKJV). Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself was the first Helper, and He promised to send another Helper – the Holy Spirit after He was gone.

The word Gospel means “Good News.” There are many reasons why the news is good. It is good because it is all about grace, eternal life, and union with our Lord Jesus Christ. But the best thing about the Good News is that forgiveness for sin was immensely or greatly simplified when Jesus took upon Himself the sacrificial work of Golgotha (The Cross).

It is for this reason that Paul exhorts the believers to forgive others. Haven’t they been forgiven through the finished work of Christ on the cross? The Law of Moses did not misunderstand the seriousness of sin, but it did make forgiveness a complex matter involving the taking of an animal to the temple and having it slain. But now our Lord Jesus Christ has removed the effort from the process of obtaining God’s loving forgiveness. Our Lord Jesus Christ has died and risen again, and we are forgiven merely for the asking. The blood atonement is still required, but our Lord Jesus Christ took care of it finally on the cross.

The beginning of all worship is Love. Can those who do not have an intimate relationship with Christ praise Him? Can they worship Him if they have not experienced His gift of grace? If those who do not know God’s love could but for one moment stand at the cross and gaze into the face of Jesus Christ, they would know how every value they esteem or respect is trivial compared to what they behold in that one brief, thorn-crowned smile of grace.

This is God’s love for us: that He cares for us enough to bring about His will in our lives. But we must mark this love as behind all of God’s dealings with us. He celebrates our instant yielding as a triumph of His love. When He has to break our hard hearts, He celebrates that, too. He is willing – if we will have it no other way – to use a Cross to fashion us in the image of His dear Son – Jesus Christ

 

 

Our Companionship With Our Lord JESUS CHRIST

Acts 26:9-18 (NLT)  says, 9 “I used to believe that I ought to do everything I could to oppose the very name of Jesus the Nazarene. 10 Indeed, I did just that in Jerusalem. Authorized by the leading priests, I caused many believers there to be sent to prison. And I cast my vote against them when they were condemned to death. 11 Many times I had them punished in the synagogues to get them to curse Jesus. I was so violently opposed to them that I even chased them down in foreign cities.
12 “One day I was on such a mission to Damascus, armed with the authority and commission of the leading priests. 13 About noon, Your Majesty, as I was on the road, a light from heaven brighter than the sun shone down on me and my companions. 14 We all fell down, and I heard a voice saying to me in Aramaic, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is useless for you to fight against my will.’
15 “‘Who are you, lord?’ I asked.
“And the Lord replied, ‘I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting. 16 Now get to your feet! For I have appeared to you to appoint you as my servant and witness. You are to tell the world what you have seen and what I will show you in the future. 17 And I will rescue you from both your own people and the Gentiles. Yes, I am sending you to the Gentiles 18 to open their eyes, so they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God. Then they will receive forgiveness for their sins and be given a place among God’s people, who are set apart by faith in me.’

While he was addressing the king singularly concerning their ancestral “hope” in Acts 6:7, Paul addressed his question to the whole audience, which was mostly Gentile. He asked them why it was so incredible (literally, “unbelievable”) to any of them that God can raise the dead.
Since so much of the Jewish hope was tied to a belief that God raises people to continued life beyond this one, why were the Jews arguing with Paul about resurrection? The reason, of course, was one well-documented case of a certain resurrection that had been confirmed by hundreds of eyewitnesses. This had become the lifework of those who had been closest to the scene of this resurrection. In addition, many had already given their very lives for the cause – a cause whose whole credibility rested on the veracity of the resurrection of this one whom Paul was about to name.

Paul named himself as one who theoretically believed in the resurrection of the dead as a solidly educated Pharisee but who vigorously opposed the movement that believed in the resurrection of Jesus. He not only refused to believe that Jesus of Nazareth had been resurrected, he also thought he should do everything he could to oppose the movement.

With the authorization of the leading priests, Paul had captured believers in Jerusalem and sent them to prison. He even went so far as to cast his vote against Christians when they were condemned to death. Much of Paul’s work was done through the synagogues, where Paul found most of the Christians in the early days of the movement. This would remind Agrippa that the Christian movement had Jewish roots. In the synagogues Paul would have believers whipped in order to try to force them to curse Christ. Paul was so passionate, so violently opposed to those who knew Christ, that he hounded them in distant cities of foreign lands. He took his campaign of terror on the road, headed to Damascus.

About noon, Paul saw a light from heaven brighter than the sun, blazing around him and his traveling companions. The presence of this bright light from heaven is mentioned in all three accounts – in chapter 9 (the actual event), in chapter 22, and here. The voice from heaven is also central to all three accounts. The revealed word of the risen Christ to the apostle Paul is the centerpiece of the story. In Aramaic, Paul had been addressed and asked, “Why are you persecuting me?” Notice, as has been the case in every account, Jesus made it clear that Paul had not been persecuting heretics but, rather, Christ Himself .
One important addition to Christ’s words here is not included in either chapter 9 or 22. Paul added that Christ had said, “It is hard for you to fight against my will.” Paul’s passion and his conviction were commendable, but he was not headed in the direction that God wanted him to go.

Upon Paul’s inquiry as to the identity of the speaker, the voice answered: “I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting.” The information to follow is also unique to this particular recounting of the Damascus road experience. From his prostrate position, Paul was commissioned by Christ Himself. He was to be Christ’s servant (1 Corinthians 4:1) and Christ’s witness (the ongoing theme of Acts predicted in Christ’s words in 1:8). Paul would tell the world about not only this experience at Damascus but also about the other times that Christ would appear to him. Paul was to be the recipient of a great deal of God’s “light” to both Jews and Gentiles.

When Jesus said, “I will protect you,” inherent in this statement was the promise of danger from which Paul would need protection. The two sources of the danger would be his own people (the Jews) and the Gentiles, in whose court he stood. Christ’s words of commission to Paul sound like the work predicted of the Messiah in places like Isaiah 35:5; 42:7, 16; 61:1. Paul was to turn many people from darkness to light, which he did (see 2 Corinthians 4:4; Ephesians 4:18; 5:8; Colossians 1:12-13). Paul was to be God’s instrument of turning Gentiles from the power of Satan to God, inviting them to receive forgiveness for their sins, which he did (13:38; Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 1:14). Paul was also to offer Gentiles a place among God’s people (Romans 8:17; Colossians 1:12). Paul took every opportunity to remind his audience that the Gentiles had an equal share in God’s inheritance. This inheritance is the promise and blessing of the covenant that God made with Abraham (Ephesians 2:19; 1 Peter 1:3-4).

A monument should have risen in the desert. Saul of Tarsus, while on the road to Damascus, met the Christ he did not believe in. Not only was he changed, but the world itself also reeled under this desert encounter. Not only did Paul find peace for his life, but the world also benefited from the fervor and dedication of a man in love with God. Paul met Jesus on the Damascus road, and the world was never the same again – because Paul was forever changed. Paul had been a devout Jew, and there can be no question about his devotion to his religious tradition. But the question is: “How did the nature of his personal worship change after he met Jesus?” Before his conversion, Paul was undoubtedly committed to God, as well as to Judaism with all its attributes and traditions. He must have entered the temple with a deep love for God and fervor for all Jewish truths. So fervor was him, in fact, that he gave himself to the purpose of destroying Christianity. He believed God wanted Judaism to be unrivaled by any new “ism.” He must have surveyed the temple with pride, adored the Pentateuch, and kept the feasts and observances in utter sincerity. Then Paul met Jesus! Suddenly his adoration took on a very personal tone. From the beginning of his new life in Christ, he must have realized that he had finally discovered a way of worship that focused on truth, for truth resides in the person of Christ, the fountain of all truth. Now Paul began to worship in truth, and the result of that worship was a sweet peace that centered on Jesus. There can be no doubt that Christianity is a religion of relationships. Like Paul, we worship truth insofar as that truth adheres to the person of Christ and to his teaching. We were born again because we became related to Christ. We sing “What a Friend We Have in Jesus,” not “What a Friend We Have in Doctrine.” We do not go to church to exalt the six rules of peace, the eight principles of grace, or even the Ten Commandments or meeting our friends and others. We are concerned with dogma only because Jesus has called us to God’s truth, to righteous living and to clear thinking. But our worship is reserved for God and God alone. When that attitude of worship is in place, we live and walk in an atmosphere of peace.

Luke 24:13-16, 30-35 (NLT) says, 13 That same day two of Jesus’ followers were walking to the village of Emmaus, seven miles from Jerusalem. 14 As they walked along they were talking about everything that had happened. 15 As they talked and discussed these things, Jesus Himself suddenly came and began walking with them. 16 But God kept them from recognizing Him.

This event occurred on Sunday, the same day as the Resurrection. Two followers of Jesus were leaving Jerusalem and walking the seven miles to the village of Emmaus. Little is known of these disciples; one was named Cleopas (Luke 24:18), and the other was not one of the eleven disciples, as noted by Luke 4:33. During their walk, they were talking about everything that had happened.

The two men were deep in discussion as they walked along. Apparently a man walking in the same direction drew up beside them (they knew he had been in Jerusalem, Luke 24:18). This man was Jesus Himself, but they were kept from recognizing Him. In other appearances after the Resurrection, Jesus was also not recognized at first (John 20:14; 21:4). Here, God prevented these men from seeing Jesus until Jesus was ready to reveal himself to them (Luke 24:30-31). God’s divine sovereignty kept them from understanding until the full reality of the bodily resurrection of Jesus could be understood.

In verses 30-35 says, “As they sat down to eat, He took the bread and blessed it. Then He broke it and gave it to them. 31 Suddenly, their eyes were opened, and they recognized Him. And at that moment He disappeared! 32 They said to each other, “Didn’t our hearts burn within us as He talked with us on the road and explained the Scriptures to us?” 33 And within the hour they were on their way back to Jerusalem. There they found the eleven disciples and the others who had gathered with them, 34 who said, “The Lord has really risen! He appeared to Peter.” [Jesus Appears to the Disciples.] 35 Then the two from Emmaus told their story of how Jesus had appeared to them as they were walking along the road, and how they had recognized Him as he was breaking the bread.”

Charles Spurgeon once said of the all-sufficiency of Christ, “Look to the Living One for life. Look to Jesus for all you need between the gate of hell and the gate of heaven,” In Jesus is the ultimate rule of peace.

In 1954, Oberlin College gave Theodore Steinway an honorary degree. At that time, Steinway Pianos had made and sold 342,000 pianos. If we multiply 342,000 (pianos) by 243 (strings in each instrument), and then multiply that number by 40,000 (the pounds of pressure exerted by the strings within each piano), we come to realize that the Steinway Piano Company was filling the world with tension. Yet Theodore Steinway was not given an honorary degree for creating tension in the world. He was given a degree of promoting harmony and beautiful music around the world. Theodore Steinway and his predecessors had created harmony and music out of tension.

            Our Lord Jesus Christ walked along the road to Emmaus with two people who were staggering beneath an immense load of grief. Their hearts were heavy. There was enough tension within each of them to make even a Steinway Piano feel unstressed. Yet their testimony, upon reflection, was, “Were not heart burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” (Luke 24:32).

            When we discuss this passage, not much is made of the fact that our Lord Jesus Christ opened the Scriptures, yet how fundamental this is to our inner peace. If the resurrected Christ can bring Scripture into the life of the tormented, God’s Word might also serve as a part of our recipe of peace.

FAITH, HOPE and LOVE

  • This Good News tells us how God makes us right in His sight. This is accomplished from start to finish by faith. As the Scriptures say, “It is through faith that a righteous person has life. [Romans 1:17]
  • Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see. [Hebrews 11:1]
  • By faith we understand that the entire universe was formed at God’s command, that what we now see did not come from anything that can be seen. [Hebrews 11:3]
  • And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to Him must believe that God exists and that He rewards those who sincerely seek Him. [Hebrews 11:6]
  • 8 God saved you by His grace when you believed (through faith). And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. 9 Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. [Ephesians 2:8-9]

HOPE

I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in Him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit. [Romans 15:13 NLT]

I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in Him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit. I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit. [Romans 15:13 NLT]

LOVE

 

No Other Gospel – Paul Called by God

Galatians 1:10-12 (NIV) says, 10 “Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant.
Paul’s Message Comes from Christ
11 Dear brothers and sisters, I want you to understand that the Gospel message I preach is not based on mere human reasoning. 12 I received my message from no human source, and no one taught me. Instead, I received it by direct revelation from Jesus Christ.”

Undoubtedly the Judaizers had accused Paul of compromise, saying that he taught freedom from the Jewish law to the Gentiles in order to be a people pleaser and thus win as many converts as possible. But Paul explained that his purpose was always to please God.

Paul’s use of the word still offers a glimpse into his inner self and his past life as a Pharisee. Paul understood that by living a strict, law-abiding, judgmental, and appearance—focused life of a Pharisee, his goal had really been to please people. Religious and pious people may receive mountains of praise for their supposed character and good works. Christians are rarely accorded such praise. Thus if Paul were trying to please people, he would not be Christ’s servant. As there is no compromise with the truth, there is no compromise for the Christian with “this evil world” (Galatians 1:4). The life of serving Christ does not put people in the limelight, offer great material rewards, or promise worldly security. Thus, if Paul wanted to please people, he could have chosen many other routes or stayed a Jewish Pharisee.

Much of church growth philosophy centers on a “market” approach, discovering what people want and need. For a culture that treats God and the Bible as irrelevant, this approach may be the only way to break through barriers. But we must have our motives clearly understood. If our desire is to please people, our packaging of the gospel may take priority over the content. If our purpose is evangelism, then reaching people through felt needs can be legitimate. We must not forget that our allegiance to Christ comes first. We must never water down his authority in the life of a believer in order to bring him or her into a church.

In verse 1, Paul had introduced himself as appointed by God. As Paul launched into a repudiation of those who would refuse to recognize his authority as an apostle, he began at the beginning. Paul wanted the Galatian believers to be assured that he was an apostle – called separately from the Twelve and received as an equal by the Twelve.

The Good News that Paul preached was the true gospel, not any false gospel, as he had discussed in verses 6-9. The gospel Paul taught was not based on mere human reasoning or logic—that is, it was not a belief or doctrine handed down to him through Jewish tradition.

The Judaizers, refusing to acknowledge Paul as an apostle, most likely claimed that Paul owed his salvation and gospel knowledge to Peter and James in Jerusalem and that he had to turn to them for approval and support of his teaching. But, as Paul would point out, he had become a believer before he ever met these leaders in the Christian church. Nor was Paul taught the Gospel. As a young man, Paul had sat at the feet of Gamaliel, learning by rote and repetition the Hebrew Law and Scriptures. But that was not the Gospel, nor could it give salvation.

Instead, the message Paul preached came by direct revelation from our Lord Jesus Christ Himself. We do not know the extent or manner of this revelation. Paul could be referring to his vision of Christ on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:3-6), to the time after Ananias returned Paul’s sight (Acts 9:17-19), to the three years spent in Arabia (Galatians 1:17-18), or to his ongoing contact with Christ in his ministry (Acts 9:19-22; 22:17-18). Paul was probably referring to something more than his Damascus road experience. Paul didn’t say it, but he implied at this point: “How can anyone doubt my authority? How can anyone doubt the divinely revealed truth about Jesus Christ?”

Paul believed that the peace he had received in Christ was not obtainable from any earthly sources. It had been revealed to him. Peace is the subject of many popular self-help books and the theme of many hot-line telephone numbers. But peace is not to be spoon-fed into our lives like cereal, nor is it instantly derived from our disciplines. Peace is revealed. If God does not show us both its meaning and its source, we will not possess it. Consider the verses in today’s reading and ask yourself, “What did Paul’s acceptance of a higher will really mean in relationship to his service to others?” It meant this: Paul could really minister to others once the turmoil from his own heart and life had been removed. Notice his testimony in the verses that immediately follow.

“For you have heard of my previous way of life in Judaism, how intensely I persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it … But when God, who set me apart from birth and called me by His grace, was pleased to reveal His Son in me so that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not consult any man, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before I was, but I went immediately into Arabia and later returned to Damascus” (Galatians 1:13, 15-17). We need to remember that the voice that spoke to Paul on the Damascus road said to him, “It is hard for you to kick against the goads” (Acts 26:14). The implication here seems to be that Paul’s conscience was far from settled with regard to his persecution of Christians. Into his troubled thoughts, God spoke and Paul finally found peace.

            Great ideas gain acceptance very slowly in stubborn hearts. Peace comes equally slowly. In fact, peace usually gets a little blood on its tranquility before trowelled hearts come to acceptance. The human hearts is subject to turmoil, but our Lord Jesus Christ enters our hearts to save us, and a calm falls over all our agitation like oil falls on water. Jesus and turmoil cannot coexist for long within any human heart. Where Jesus is, there is peace (Colossians 3:15). Peace is ours when we have accepted a higher will. When Paul accepted the call of God, he began to minister in ways he might never have imagined. He was freed to bring peace to others out of his own peace. When we focus on the will of God in our lives, we find peace, and we find that we can spread that peace to others.

An Invitation to Meet our Lord Jesus Christ

We hope that our “Home Fellowship Churches” has not only helped all of you understand and experience more about the Bible, and first and foremost, knowing the Way, the Truth, and the Life at this moment of adversities especially this COVID-19., forced us to – Stay At Home.

Perhaps it has also caused you to think seriously about your own relationship with God. If your life were to end today or tomorrow, God forbid -, and it certainly will someday – what valid reason would you give the living God that you should spend eternity in heaven?

If you have always assumed that “being a good person” or “not killing anybody” was the requirement for heaven, that is not a correct assumption. The Bible says we have all sinned and that our sins separate us from a holy and loving God. No human being can be good enough to qualify for heaven. That is why our Lord Jesus Christ came, that is why our Lord Jesus allowed Himself to be put to death on a Cross, and that is why He conquered death by His resurrection. The only way to be assured of eternal life is to depend completely on the grace and mercy of God expressed through Jesus Christ.

If you would like to be certain of your eternal destiny and begin a new relationship [not new religion] with God today – you can do both in the next few moments – here is how:

  1. First, you need to recognize and acknowledge that you need God’s forgiveness offered only in Jesus Christ.

All have sinned; all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet now God in His gracious kindness declares us not guilty. He has done this through Christ Jesus, who has freed us by taking away our sins. [Romans 3:23-24]

  • You must repent of your sin – that is, turn away from anything in your life that you know to be wrong before God – and resolve to walk in a path that is obedient to our Lord Jesus Christ. Each of you must turn from your sins and turn to God. [Acts 2:38]
  • You must walk ask Jesus Christ, through the power of the Holy Spirit, to give you spiritual rebirth and to come and live in you. Our Lord Jesus Christ replied, “I assure you, unless you are born again, you can never see the Kingdom of God.” [John 3:3] “Look! Here I stand at the door and knock. If you hear Me calling and open the door, I will come in.” [Revelation 3:20]
  • You must commit yourself completely to knowing, loving, and serving Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior for the rest of your life.

The apostle Paul said, “I am focusing all my energies on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead. I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us to heaven.” [Philippians 3:13-14]

I invite and encourage you to begin your new life with our Lord Jesus Christ today. You can take the steps outlined above by talking to God just as you would to a friend and/or just as you are. You can pray something like this:

Dear God,

I acknowledge that I have sinned – intentionally or unintentionally – and that I fall short of your standard of perfect goodness and holiness. I know that I cannot save myself by good works. I believe that Jesus Christ, Your Son, died on the Cross to pay for my sins, that He rose from the dead to give me the hope of eternal life, and that one day He will return to take me to be with Him in heaven forever. Lord Jesus Christ, I ask you to forgive my sins. Please send your Holy Spirit into my life and begin to teach me and shape me as you wish. I commit myself to knowing, loving, and serving you as my personal Savior and Lord for the rest of my life. Please help me to do that, in the name of Jesus, Amen!

You do not need to pray exactly those words. Just talk to God honestly from your heart. He will hear you and understand. You may or may not feel anything special as you talk to Him, but if you genuinely want to belong to Christ, rest assured that He will welcome you into His family of Born-Again Christian believers. Think of it – the God of the universe, who created you, will forgive all your sins and make you a new person with a new start! [2 Corinthianso 5:17]

He will live in you by His Spirit and be your loving Savior and Lord. He will guide you throughout this life and welcome you into heaven when you die. The Bible says that if you have turned from your sins and asked God to save you and make you His, the Angels in heaven are rejoicing over you. [Luke 15:10]

                If you are a new Born-Again Christian, we encourage you to do two things:

                First, begin to read your Bible and talk to God every day. Prayer is simply talking honestly with God. As you do that, you will begin to sense God reminding you of the Bible’s truths and giving you strength to obey Him through the Holy Spirit. As you probably already noticed, the pages and posts in our new, “Home Fellowship Churches” includes Bible Studies. If you do not already have a hard copy of the Bible, let us know, and will ship the Bible to you for free. You might consider purchasing one of the new translations that include helpful study notes. You might try the Life Application Bible published by Tyndale House Publishers, and/or download the Bible App, “YouVersion” from www. bible.com.

                Second, all Christians are encouraged find a local church where they can share in the experience of worshiping with other believers, learn, from the teaching, and enjoy getting to know other Christians. It may take some time to find just the right church for you. Make it a top priority to do so. A good church will be a great encouragement and help as you grow in your new Christian life and spiritual maturity.

                For the meantime, while this pandemic, COVID-19i s still around, and simultaneously looking around to find the right church for you, you are welcome to join us at www.trinityblessings.org, and/or www.homefellowshipchurches.org

May God bless you richly as you begin your journey of faith with our Lord Jesus Christ! Amen!

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