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Goodness Is The Virtue Of The Written Word Of God

The Fruit of the HOLY SPIRIT

Podcast Episode: The Fruit of the HOLY SPIRIT – GOODNESS #5

“But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: LOVE, JOY, PEACE, PATIENCE, KINDNESS, GOODNESS, FAITHFULNESS, GENTLENESS, AND SELF-CONTROL. There is no law against these things.” [Galatians 5:22-23 NLT]

Podcast – Goodness #5

The Manifestation of the HOLY SPIRIT is on FIRE!

Promised Rest For God’s People

In Hebrews 4:12-13 NLT says, “12 For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. 13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before His eyes, and He is the one to whom we are accountable”.


Donations for Author’s Books

This book, "From The WORDS And THOUGHTS To The SWORDS And BATTLEGROUNDS" is planned and designed with three goals in mind (thought): • To help us become more like our Lord Jesus Christ - so much like Him that our family, loved ones, friends, and others in our lives can see Him manifested and reflected in our words, actions, and attitudes. • To help us surrender and submit to God and resist the devil. • To help us be always victorious in our lives by winning the spiritual battles. Author's next book is coming soon, entitled, "From The BATTLEGROUNDS and WARS To The OVERCOMING And VICTORIES"

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Goodness Is The Result Of Imitating Our Lord Jesus Christ

The Fruit of the HOLY SPIRIT

Podcast Episode: The Fruit of the HOLY SPIRIT – GOODNESS #4

“But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: LOVE, JOY, PEACE, PATIENCE, KINDNESS, GOODNESS, FAITHFULNESS, GENTLENESS, AND SELF-CONTROL. There is no law against these things.” [Galatians 5:22-23 NLT]

Podcast – Goodness #4

The Manifestation of the HOLY SPIRIT is on FIRE!

Living In The Light

In Ephesians 5:1-2 NLT says, “1 Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are His dear children. 2 Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered Himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.”


Donations for Author’s Books

This book, "From The WORDS And THOUGHTS To The SWORDS And BATTLEGROUNDS" is planned and designed with three goals in mind (thought): • To help us become more like our Lord Jesus Christ - so much like Him that our family, loved ones, friends, and others in our lives can see Him manifested and reflected in our words, actions, and attitudes. • To help us surrender and submit to God and resist the devil. • To help us be always victorious in our lives by winning the spiritual battles. Author's next book is coming soon, entitled, "From The BATTLEGROUNDS and WARS To The OVERCOMING And VICTORIES"

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Goodness Is Implanted Into Our Lives Through Our Lord Jesus Christ

The Fruit of the HOLY SPIRIT

Podcast Episode: The Fruit of the HOLY SPIRIT – GOODNESS #3

“But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: LOVE, JOY, PEACE, PATIENCE, KINDNESS, GOODNESS, FAITHFULNESS, GENTLENESS, AND SELF-CONTROL. There is no law against these things.” [Galatians 5:22-23 NLT]

Podcast – Goodness #3

The Manifestation of the HOLY SPIRIT is on FIRE!

Donations for Author’s Books

This book, "From The WORDS And THOUGHTS To The SWORDS And BATTLEGROUNDS" is planned and designed with three goals in mind (thought): • To help us become more like our Lord Jesus Christ - so much like Him that our family, loved ones, friends, and others in our lives can see Him manifested and reflected in our words, actions, and attitudes. • To help us surrender and submit to God and resist the devil. • To help us be always victorious in our lives by winning the spiritual battles. Author's next book is coming soon, entitled, "From The BATTLEGROUNDS and WARS To The OVERCOMING And VICTORIES"

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PATIENCE Is Living By God’s Timetable

The Fruit of the HOLY SPIRIT

Podcast Episode: The Fruit of the HOLY SPIRIT – PATIENCE #3

“But the Holy Spirit” produces this kind of fruit in our lives: LOVE, JOY, PEACE, PATIENCE, KINDNESS, GOODNESS, FAITHFULNESS, GENTLENESS, AND SELF-CONTROL. There is no law against these things.” [Galatians 5:22-23 NLT]

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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.

 

 

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.

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!