Philemon was a guy who wanted to seek revenge on a former slave, for some crime done against him. The Apostle Paul sent Philemon a letter, along with the former slave, Onesimus, himself. Paul was asking Philemon to extend the kind of forgiveness to Onesimus that Jesus Christ himself had extended to Philemon (are you still following?). And on top of all this, Paul himself is the one who brought Philemon to faith in God, and brought Omesimus to faith in God also. So Paul is asking Philemon to forgive Onesimus based on the debt he owes back to Paul, “his very life”. I don’t know if we know how to forgive in our western culture, like Paul is asking Philemon to forgive. And even beyond this little book, Paul is asking you and I to learn to forgive like this, so that our witness to the world is like that of Jesus Christ. (click here for video).
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Nearing the end of his life, the Apostle Paul is thanking friends for walking with him in faith while in prison for sharing the gospel. The gospel is many things. It is sharing the love of Jesus with the world. The word evangelism is getting a bad rap these days. Maybe it’s the word evangelical, which is diving the country, depending on which way you’re looking at it. But the Apostle Paul still wants you to share your faith in Jesus with others. So, the gospel is relational, the gospel is tenacious, and the gospel includes suffering. We don’t like to embrace suffering, as much as we can help it, but even Jesus himself suffered for representing God. How are you representing God through your life today? Does it align with how people in the Bible shared the gospel? If so, good. If not, why not? (click here to view the video)
Paul is in prison, and writes about how we can encourage one another in the faith. He gives us admonition to be ready to answer anyone for the faith you believe. He recommends that our speech always be seasoned with salt, rather than vinegar. He asks the faith community to pray that God would open doors for the gospel to be shared. I think this “praying for open doors” is a ways of saying we all can look for opportunities to share our faith in God. The clear vision of Paul was that the gospel is relationships and that gospel is life saving in relationships, and that in relationships God is opening doors for His Kingdom to grow and flourish. How are you praying for open doors and open hearts in the lives of your friends? Keep the main thing the main thing, and keep sharing your love for Jesus in this dark world. You never know what God can do.
Paul the Apostle is writing a letter to the churches near Collosae and wants them to know how much he is personally suffering for their sake. He has committed his life to serving them, no matter the cost, so that they might mature in their faith in Christ. What does mature faith in Christ look like to you? Does it mean that God answers your prayers? Does it mean that you receive healing when you’re sick? Does maturity even have anything to do with the blessings you receive, or does maturity mean we look to bring God’s blessing to others? God is always pouring out his blessings, but are we submissive enough to receive blessings in obedience to Jesus?
Crossroads Church of Greeley, Colorado http://www.crossroadsgreeley.com
Pastor Reid Olson of Crossroads Church of Greeley teaches on John 17.
Jesus’ final prayer for the 12 disciples, included a prayer for you and me “those who will believe in their message”. The prayer of Jesus included a plea for unity “oneness” among those with faith, so that the world might see and understand that God sent Jesus to the world. Question for you, how is unity working out?
Many young people are leaving the church “big C” because faith people can’t get along with one another. We aren’t leaving a good example of how to love like Jesus loved, and this is making people wonder if God really is the answer to our problems.
Come on people, let’s learn to love one another and learn to agree in unity, more than we disagree with hatred. Do you ever wonder if your prayers are being answered? I wonder if Jesus’ prayer is being answered, also.
When we compare our lives to someone else, or compare our things to other things, or when we compare our skills to other people, we often come out on the short end of the deal, and feel awful. We might also compare to others, and come out ahead, which is pride. So, either way, we lose. God didn’t design comparison. It came from the devil’s mouth. He compared the first humans to God himself. “You can be like him”, he said. How has comparison slithered into your life, and how does it wreak havoc?
Sometimes we get caught up thinking that our little bit of faith is not enough to change the world. Sometime we think we need to solve EVERYTHING, so we miss out on being a solution in one small thing. We can even post about things we hear around the world, and yet not even be involved in helping our neighbor. How would you have heard the parable of the Good Samaritan back in the day when Jesus told this lawyer how to love his neighbor? What kind of response does it call out in you? Are you an apathetic person regarding your faith?