Wednesday, November 16, 2022

            Philemon is a personal letter from Paul to an individual.  The apostle wrote to make a personal appeal to Philemon to receive back Onesimus who was once a slave.  This once runaway slave had been converted to faith in Christ through the preaching and influence of Paul.  There is an inference or suggestion in verse 18 that he might have robbed his master and fled to Rome to go into hiding.  Paul even offered to pay back and to settle any outstanding debts that needed resolution (verse 19).  Paul asked Philemon to receive Onesimus back as though he were receiving back the apostle himself.
            There certainly are times in faith where we have to do the hard thing.  It might be easier to look away or even to run away (as Onesimus did).  But the Lord calls us to do the right thing and the right thing may often be very hard to recognize and even harder to bring into reality.  God often closes certain doors so that we have only the right door to open or the right pathway to pursue.  It could be that God is closing some doors in your life at this moment.  Maybe God is directing your steps in a new and different way.  It can be frightening to move in new directions.  And complacency can often be a tempting alternative.
            God often works in ways that seem inconceivable or incredible to us.  Paul pled with Philemon to welcome back Onesimus not as a slave but as a brother in Christ.  That’s a substantial upgrade in relationship. Paul wrote, “Perhaps the reason he was separated from you for a little while was that you might have him back forever— no longer as a slave, but better than a slave, as a dear brother. He is very dear to me but even dearer to you, both as a fellow man and as a brother in the Lord” (Philemon 15-16).  God was at work to change the dynamics from slave/master to brothers-in-Christ.  Only God could do something that extraordinary.  Only God could make that transformation happen.
            But in Christ, all things are possible.  We can enjoy new life and renewed relationships.  We can enjoy new doorways and pathways that take us from where we are to where we could be—an experience with life in a new and amazing way.  The enemy often deceives us into thinking that we are simply stuck—stuck in a place in life from which there is little hope and no discernible means of escape.  The enemy would have us believe that we have no other recourse or plan to follow.  But Paul’s letter shows us that God can overcome obstacles and barriers to set us on a new course that leads to a better place.  The journey may not be easy but it will be right. 
            This coming Sunday is our Harvest of Thanks Day as we collect new supplies for the Cabarrus Women’s Center, join together in Bible study and worship and catch up on our tithes and offerings for the year.  We hope to see you on Sunday as we gather to thank and to honor God for His blessings.  Remember you can worship any time at youtube.com/FirstBaptistKannapolis.   
             
               
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