Daily Devotion for January 13, 2020
“There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28)
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.
Something to get our engines running for the week ahead! I love Donnie McLurken’s Jamaican tunes and simple, powerful lyrics. I’ve got my mind made up!
Prayer to Change to Better Serve God
Holy God, I believe that you will change people and many things, if asked and if it is your will. Change me Lord, if it is your will, for I would lead a better life. Touch me, I pray, great God whose touch transforms. Reach out your mighty hand to me, and to all who seek you in the name of your Son. Heal us, transform us, and make us whole; reach out your mighty hand to lift us up to serve you; touch me and all of us this very day, O Lord, that our own hands may bring your hope and healing to this broken world.
Oh holy God, you know the misery I am in and the suffering I feel. Please let your Holy Spirit come to me; if I must suffer, dear God, I will suffer for you. I love you more than anything. I pray, give me the strength just to put one foot in front of another until this episode of depression gets past. Let me know that the pain is going to end at some point and just hold on until it passes.
I suffer for you, Lord Christ, for I know that you suffered even more than I do. I love you and kiss your broken feet. I will live for you, to show my love for you; for despite whatever sin I might commit this day, I know that you have put me here for some reason, even though I cannot find it or see it because of my psychological state. And thank you for my friends who are praying for me, for I know that at least one person on earth cares about me enough to petition you in my behalf.
And I pray for healing, Lord. Let me see that my shame and guilt have been forgiven and destroyed by your sacrifice and your great power. I am clean and perfect in your eyes, and you love me. Heal me of some or all of this affliction of pain, if it is your will, I pray.
“Preach the gospel everyday; if necessary, use words.”
~ Francis of Assisi
A Prayer After Reading Scripture
May the word I have read, Lord, be planted deeply in my mind and heart. Help me not to walk away and forget it, but to meditate on it and obey it and so built my life on the rock of your truth.
Think of the day ahead in terms of God with you, and visualize health, strength, guidance, purity, calm confidence, and victory as the gifts of His presence.
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, but as a brother rather than a slave. Onesimus had become a Christian in Rome and repented of his sins toward his master. The letter implies that Onesimus 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 like to keep the man with him, to ease his imprisonment, but he wants to give Philemon the chance to reconcile himself with Onesimus and thus demonstrate love for Christ over love of property and/or revenge. 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.