Devotion for Wednesday, May 11, 2022

“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” (Philemon 1:17-18).

Paul is trusting Philemon to do what is right in the sight of the Lord.  Listen carefully to what Paul is teaching us.  At the end of the day, the other will do what they do.  Just because someone has received the Gospel does not mean they will live it.  The church is filled with those who are both faithful and those who go back on their word.  Trust the Lord, but verify others who claim faith.

Yes, it is okay to trust and verify.  Somehow or other, many Christians believe that other Christians are sinless.  They are not.  We live in the reality that we all need Christ and what He alone can do.  Come then, learn the lesson and be one like whom Paul trusts to do the right thing.  Charge everything to the account of grace, but still be prudent and a good steward of these things.

Lord Jesus, You are growing me up to be a child of the Father.  There are many facets of grace and the depth of faith is never-ending, just as the breadth of the reality of who You are is never-ending.  Guide me, Lord, that I would not simply rest in the faith I have obtained by grace but continue to grow in the knowledge of who You are.  Lead me in the mysteries of the faith such that I become Your trustworthy servant in living out the Gospel.  Amen.

Devotion for Tuesday, May 10, 2022

“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 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” (Philemon 1:15-16).

Paul points to that place where all we can do is wonder.  We know that everything is in the Lord’s hands.  We know that He is working everything together for good.  Does He stoop to this level?  Yes, yes He does.  All things means all things.  Do not be led by the ways of this world, but by the truth and goodness of the Lord.  Know that in Him alone is the ability given to join in His goodness.

Lord, You have come that all who believe, see the light and come into Your presence might be guided into Your goodness and mercy.  We begin life in one place, but, if we follow the Lord, end up in an entirely different place.  What should we say to this?  If God be for us, who can be against us?  Come then into the provision of the Lord and leave behind worldly conformity to live into Christ our Savior.

Lord Jesus, You have come to save us completely.  You have come that we may have life and have it abundantly.  When pressed into a corner, as we will be, between what is right in Your eyes and what I do according to the world, help me live into the Christ-life and do what is right in Your eyes.  You have set these things up so that we may walk into the life You offer by Your grace.  Lead me, Lord, into this new life.  Amen.

Devotion for Monday, May 9, 2022

“[B]ut I preferred to do nothing without your consent in order that your goodness might not be by compulsion but of your own accord” (Philemon 1:14).

For love to be love, there must be freedom.  Paul is asking Philemon if he can do what is being requested for love’s sake.  Note that feelings have nothing to do with this.  As we deal with brothers and sisters, we should seek their assent and not just assume it, as many do.  You see, our goodness must not be by compulsion, for then it is not goodness, but only the grudging response of an unwilling heart.

Lord, first, help me to see this and then help me to do these things.  It is hard because I often do not have the right heart.  I often am driven by compulsion and not by a willing spirit.  Lead me away from selfish ambition, Lord, to the place where I willingly love my neighbor and seek always to do the right thing.  Gracious Lord, help me not just come to the place of consent, but to willingly become a gracious giver transformed by Your love.

Lord Jesus, You died on the cross for us all willingly.  Though we do not know (nor do we yet) all that You have done, we do know that You have done this willingly so that we might be with You forever.  Guide me, dear Lord, that I would forever hold fast to Your promises, letting nothing get in the way.  Let me do away with all selfishness motives and be guided by the example of Your true goodness.  Amen.

Devotion for Sunday, May 8, 2022

“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” (Philemon 1:13)

Here is a second principle that is often brushed aside in the church.  We have a hard time being honest.  It is not outright lies, but dishonesty when we conveniently ignore what is true.  We are given a principle that, even if it will cost us, we be truthful about the matter.  Look at the need, look at the truth, and then speak both boldly and with respect and grace.  The Lord is in control.

Lord, this is a difficult thing to do.  On the one hand You call for me to be gracious and on the other hand, You ask that I be bold.  Here is an example of the tension between these two in that moment.  Help me to learn so that when if is my time to make this kind of decision, I may be bold in the right way of speaking and acting.  Grant me passion for Your church and a willingness to live according to Your precepts.

Lord Jesus, You have come to lead the way through all of the turbulent waters that will come my way in this age.  Teach me to always look to You first.  Guide me to know that in You alone is all hope.  Help me confess where I am weak and to walk cautiously when I am unsure.  Through all things, guide me to know that You are the One who is leading me and that Your grace is sufficient.  Amen.  

Devotion for Saturday, May 7, 2022

“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” (Philemon 1:11-12).

Do you focus upon what was?  Conveniently we often do.  Do you think about what you had and then get mad because it is no longer yours?  Whether an item of little or much worth, it makes no difference.  What is your attitude of stewardship?  What really does matter?  Paul is asking Onesimus to think in terms of reality.  His slave had been gone a long time.  Only now, he knew what happened.

Do you want to take things into your own hands, or are you able to place them in the Lord’s hands?  I suppose if Onesimus wanted to, he could had made a case of this.  With this letter in Scripture, it appears he listened to Paul.  What then?  Be one who looks to the Lord and when the Lord calls for your decision contrary to what you would make without Him, honor the Lord.  This is one of the lessons of this Epistle.

Lord Jesus, You always honored the Father, even unto death on the cross.  You did things I cannot imagine were enjoyable, but you did them for our sake.  Help me to move from being an owner of things to being a steward of things.  Guide me in understanding that all things were created by You and for You.  Lead me in the way of knowing that in You Lord is all hope.  Amen.

Devotion for Friday, May 6, 2022

“I appeal to you for my child, Onesimus, whose father I became in my imprisonment” (Philemon 1:10).

See what is happening.  You who know the story, know that Onesimus is the slave of Philemon.  It is a strange thing to us.  See the story behind this.  Paul is a father in the faith to them both.  They are no longer just master and slave, but now brothers under the same father.  It is not so complex.  The real question for us is how are we to behave?  By the rules of the world or by the rules of faith?

Lord, I do find that I often operate by the rules of the world.  Help me learn to be obedient in this world, but that when there is a conflict, enable me to choose the way You have established, the way of forever.  Guide me, Lord, in the upward path to which You have called me so that even when it costs me, I choose the direction You know I need to go in order to live the godly grace-filled life to which You have called me.

Lord Jesus, I need the grace You give to accomplish these things.  Guide me, Lord, now and always, so that when confronted with two or more choices, I would choose the way that is right in Your eyes.  Lead me according to Your goodness and mercy and help me now and always to see through what the world says that I may choose the better way.  Guide me always, Lord, in the upward way.  Amen.

Devotion for Thursday, May 5, 2022

“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” (Philemon 1:8-9)

In our day of both political freedoms and contrasting superiors in authority keeping us under fear of retaliation, we forget that there are levels and chains of command You have ordained.  It is not that everyone who so desires can tell another what to do, but there are those who can and should.  It is this way in the church too.  There are leaders whom the Lord has appointed by whatever means and we are to honor that.  But also, we are equals, one to the other.

Lord, I do understand this.  A parent to a child: there is equality when they are adults, and yet, the child is always the child.  Help me to apply this principle so that I would now and always hold to the truth You are teaching me.  Help me when I am in a position of inferiority to honor the one above and when in a position of superiority to honor the one below so that in either case I love and respect all others.

Lord Jesus, You are God in the flesh.  Guide me in Your goodness to follow Your example and see that in You alone I can learn how to behave as You would have me behave.  You are God in the flesh, yet You bid us come and learn to be a friend.  Teach me the proper and honorable balance I need in order to live this relationship in a godly way.  Thank You, Lord, for the patience and grace I need to do this.  Amen. 

Devotion for Wednesday, May 4, 2022

“For I have derived much joy and comfort from your love, my brother, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you” (Philemon 1:7).

A leader in the church always rejoices when they encounter another who displays maturity and wisdom.  It is refreshing to encounter one who does things the way the Lord wants them done.  Be one who refreshes the hearts of others.  Be guided by the Holy Spirit and do what the Lord gives you to do.  Be one who is willing to comfort others with the comfort you have received from our Lord.

You know where I can become better at these things, Lord.  Show me where these places are and then guide me in the way that will take me to these places such that all these things become a part of who I am.  Teach me, Lord, how to be wise and then help me to be a willing servant of all.  Continue to guide me in the upper way that, like the saints of old, I may demonstrate my faith through what I say and how I act.

Lord Jesus, if one looks at You, the distance between the two extremes at the boundaries of who You are, are striking.  On the one hand, you are so ordinary and approachable.  On the other, You are God in the flesh.  I will never be You, of course, for which I thank you Lord; but stretch me so that I become more like You, the servant of God, each day.  Guide me and help me to be willing to move into this direction that You are leading me.  Amen. 

Devotion for Tuesday, May 3, 2022

“[B]ecause 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” (Philemon 1:5-6).

There is maturity in faith.  There is growth that continues even after we reach the place of knowing that Christ is our Savior.  Do not think that you are done when you have only reached the first step.  Come into the fullness of Christ in order that you may see the effect of the full knowledge of every good thing that is for the sake of Christ.  Do not settle for status quo until the Lord tells you, “well done, good and faithful servant.”

You know where I am Lord and how far I need to continue today so that I may progress on the journey of becoming like You.  Help me to not be distracted by worldly things but come fully into Your purpose and presence.  This faith we have needs nurturing and tending and that is why Scripture needs to be studied daily.  You know that, too often, I think myself exempt from these things.

Lord Jesus, in You alone is all hope and an eternal future.  Guide me, Lord, so that I may be led by You and not by my own whims, or the fancies of others, let alone the wickedness of this age.  Help me, Lord, to understand that in You alone is all hope.  Grow in me Your wisdom and maturity in order that I may become more and more like You in all things.  Aid me in running so I win the prize by keeping my eyes upon You, Lord, Amen.

Devotion for Monday, May 2, 2022

“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” (Philemon 1:3-4)

We hear the words often, but do we truly desire others to be in the grace and peace of our Lord?  These are things we can and should desire for our neighbor.  When we say, “peace” to our neighbor, it is not wishful thinking, but asking that our neighbor be filled with the Holy Spirit and walk in His provision.  Yes, we should love our neighbor such that we desire for them what we want for ourselves.

Do you pray for your neighbor as you would want them to pray for you?  Do you remember others in prayer?  Do you care for others and lift them up to the Lord?  Being Christian is not about just having a right attitude, but about the very real work of caring for your neighbor in real and tangible ways.  Come then and live and give God’s peace and pray even for your enemies.

Holy Trinity, in You alone does existence have its meaning.  Guide me into the life You know I need, my Lord.  Help me in seeking to please You Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  Come, Holy Spirit, and fill my heart so that I would be faithful.  In all of these things, help me this day to be true to You in thought, word, and deed.  May I join in being thankful for every opportunity to serve You.  Amen.