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)
See, in our day, as in theirs, it is easy to learn about religion and play all the right games with church. This game is not what Paul had in mind. He was empowering his people to no longer live in the darkness of the world, rather to live in the light of God. Jesus has redeemed us to be light in this dark world, and it has nothing to do with us, it’s all Jesus. This portion of Paul’s letter makes a stand that he wants people to grow up in God, and be joyful in thanksgiving, so that we truly live into our real identity in Christ. Maybe these words are foreign to you, if you don’t understand where your identity lies. Maybe you need to realize that in Jesus, you are a new person; transformed for God’s good work in the world. This is what Paul is talking about.
Paul the Apostle wrote a letter to a group of faith people he didn’t know, in a city where he wouldn’t visit, and wanted to encourage them in their faith. He wanted them to remember their purpose in Jesus, not getting caught up in superstitious practices of mysticism and emotional faith. Paul wants us to know, in our present culture, that we don’t need to fall victim to relativism of truth. Today, everyone’s truth is relative to their social culture and “their perspective” while missing the person of Jesus Christ. This truth comes from the Gospel of Jesus Christ and is displayed in transformation of the soul while bearing fruit in spiritual maturity of faith. Don’t be dismayed by the distractions in the world, the politics that lead us into angry arguments, or taking sides on issues that divide people. Place your faith in Jesus Christ and trust that Jesus is enough for complete salvation. Our purpose is to share this Gospel with others. Don’t forget your purpose.
Have you ever thought of the 10 Commandments as a gift? God wanted the former 400 years of slavery in Egypt to be removed from His peoples’ thinking, so God gave them a Sabbath Principle. Remember the Sabbath day, and make it holy. How do you remember the Sabbath day in your life? And, how do you make it holy unto God? Do you have sabbath practices that break your chains of slavery? What are you enslaved to in your life? Cookies, caffeine, sugar, shopping, entertainment and even working can become a slave driver in our lives, I know that even ministry (heaven forbid) can become an idol for me. This week we want you to learn to rest, and trust that the God who made you doesn’t make mistakes, and He wants you to rest in Jesus and trust that the world will continue to spin without you holding the steering wheel. Learn to take a weekly sabbath to rest in God’s grace.
Paul, the Apostle, teaches people they can have peace with God. When we are anxious, we are to give our anxiety to God through prayer petitions and offerings to God. We can learn to no longer be anxious about anything, but in everything, in every way, give your thoughts to God and He will guard your hearts and minds in God’s understanding of Peace. Wouldn’t it be nice to stop worrying about things we can’t control anyways? Wouldn’t it be something to be able to not fret over money, or time, or upcoming events? There is a way to learn the Peace of God for every situation.
Crossroads Church of Greeley, CO http://www.crossroadsgreeley.com
Pastor Reid Olson of Crossroads Church of Greeley teaches on reframing your mindset to think the things of God, rather than be trapped by our own wrong habitual way of thinking. The Apostle Paul tells us to reshape our thinking, so we think the thoughts of God. We often get trapped in “stinking thinking” and get our minds all wrapped around some false way of self destruction. God wants so much more for us in Jesus. You have the capacity to re-calibrate your own thinking to get out of the ditches, and move into the space of freedom that God desires for you. Won’t you choose to elevate your thinking.