Daily Devotion for June 2, 2014
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever.
George Washington's Monday Morning Prayer
O eternal and everlasting God, I presume to present myself this morning before thy Divine majesty, beseeching thee to accept of my humble and hearty thanks, that it hath pleased thy great goodness to keep and preserve me the night past from all the dangers poor mortals are subject to, and has given me sweet and pleasant sleep, whereby I find my body refreshed and comforted for performing the duties of this day, in which I beseech thee to defend me from all perils of body and soul.
Direct my thoughts, words and work. Wash away my sins in the immaculate blood of the lamb, and purge my heart by thy Holy Spirit, from the dross of my natural corruption, that I may with more freedom of mind and liberty of will serve thee, the ever lasting God, in righteousness and holiness this day, and all the days of my life. In the name of Holy Christ, I pray,
[Having the freedom of mind to serve God.]
Prayer for Physical Renewal
Lord, I come before you today in need of your healing hand. In you, all things are possible. Hold my heart within yours, and renew my mind, body, and soul.
I am lost, but I am singing. You gave me life, and you also give me the gift of infinite joy. Give me the strength to move forward on the path you've laid out for me. Guide me towards better health, and give me the wisdom to identify those you've placed around me to help me get better. In your name I pray,
Dedication to Service
Now, oh heavenly Father, I ask to be called as a witness to your love by the love I extend to others; a precursor of your justice by my unfailing commitment to what is right and good; a lamp set on a hill, reflecting the light of Christ in my forgiveness, mercy and compassion; and a harvester of souls through my humble and dedicated servanthood. In Jesus' name, I pray,
(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.
How can you love those who have stolen from you, assaulted or abused you, or tried to blow you up and completely destroy you? How can you forgive those who have kidnapped, tortured and killed someone you love? Yet this is where reconciliation has to begin.
~ Andrew White, from Father, Forgive
Philemon 1:2-22 (ESV)
Overview of the New Testament: The Epistles
13. Paul's Epistle to Philemon
To Philemon our beloved fellow worker and Apphia our sister and Archippus our fellow soldier, and the church in your house: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
I thank my God always when I remember you in my prayers, because I hear of your love and of the faith that you have toward the Lord Jesus and for all the saints, and I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective for the full knowledge of every good thing that is in us for the sake of Christ. For I have derived much joy and comfort from your love, my brother, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you.
Bible Historiael (France, 1372)
Accordingly, though I am bold enough in Christ to command you to do what is required, yet for love's sake I prefer to appeal to you — I, Paul, an old man and now a prisoner also for Christ Jesus — I appeal to you for my child, Onesimus, whose father I became in my imprisonment. (Formerly he was useless to you, but now he is indeed useful to you and to me.) I am sending him back to you, sending my very heart. I would have been glad to keep him with me, in order that he might serve me on your behalf during my imprisonment for the gospel, but I preferred to do nothing without your consent in order that your goodness might not be by compulsion but of your own accord. For this perhaps is why he was parted from you for a while, that you might have him back forever, no longer as a bondservant [slave] but more than a bondservant, as a beloved brother — especially to me, but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord.
So if you consider me your partner, receive him as you would receive me. If he has wronged you at all, or owes you anything, charge that to my account. I, Paul, write this with my own hand: I will repay it — to say nothing of your owing me even your own self. Yes, brother, I want some benefit from you in the Lord. Refresh my heart in Christ.
Confident of your obedience, I write to you, knowing that you will do even more than I say. At the same time, prepare a guest room for me, for I am hoping that through your prayers I will be graciously given to you.
Notes on the Scripture
The quoted text is almost the entirety of this odd little epistle. It is a personal letter, written by Paul to someone named Philemon, who was apparently a rich man in Colossus. Philemon sponsored a house church, so perhaps this can be called a “pastoral” epistle. In it, Paul asks Philemon to accept the return of a runaway slave, Onesimus, who had become a Christian in Rome and repented of his sins toward his master. The letter implies that he had stolen valuable property.
Paul makes several puns in the letter; onesimus means “useful” or “beneficial” in Greek. The end of the next-to-last paragraph reads, “I want some onesimus from you in the Lord.”
Paul would keep the man with him, to ease his imprisonment, but would prefer the benefit of reconciliation between the two. In the selfish and self-justifying mindset of the world, each of them undoubtedly felt aggrieved by the other. (Just think of all the emotions, on all sides, when McDonald's workers went on strike for higher wages!) But with Onesimus having repented his own wrong, Paul prefers the greater good of having two brothers in Christ reconciled. And, at law, Philemon had a right to have a bondservant or slave (we are not sure which — the same word is used for both in Greek) returned to him; in fact, Onesimus was liable for execution. But Paul urges him, and apparently expects him, to treat Onesimus as a “beloved brother”.
The very factual and practical nature of this epistle create a near-narrative, very different from any other epistle. Rather than theoretical theology or general rules, this is a story of the practical application of Christian thought to a difficult situation, involving two angry parties, to show how even a great argument might be ended in love and reconciliation.