I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective when you perceive all the good you may do for Christ.
This is Paul’s letter to Philemon and the church that meets at his house.
Paul recalls Philemon’s love for the saints and faith In Christ. He prays that his faith sharing will be effective.
Paul turns to the issue of Onesimus a slave who had run away from Philemon’s household and had since become a christian under Paul’s ministry. Paul urges Philemon to receive Onesimus not as a slave but a brother. Paul promises to make up any financial loss Philemon might have incurred.
Some people say that Paul tacitly excused slavery because he did not write against it. In a society that was economically dependent on human labour, slavery was a given fact of life. In a situation where christians had no power, writing against slavery would not have changed anything.
Here in the short letter to Philemon we see how the gospel works to transform society one person at a time. Paul’s argument is that Philemon should treat Onesimus as a brother for whom Christ had died not as property.
Our situation is different but the principle is the same. We share the gospel and act for righteousness, and lives are changed one at a time. We cannot easily end abortion but we can offer alternatives to people considering a termination, changing one life at a time. We may not be able to remove tensions between ethnic groups but we can build bridges of friendship and help individuals to find reconciliation and peace in Christ.
When christians all work on their little piece of the puzzle we find that together the Body of Christ is able to have a big influence.
Lord, where are you asking me to bring change today? Show me the one person I can share my faith with today. Amen.
The vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter’s hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as seemed good to him.
The Lord tells Jeremiah to go to the house of the potter. Jeremiah goes and sees a potter working at a wheel. The vessel he is working on goes wrong so he reworks it into a different shape and purpose.
The Lord then speaks to Jeremiah and says that He is the potter shaping the nations, including Israel, to His purposes. He may declare disaster on a nation, but if that nation repents of its evil ways, He will save it. Likewise, He may plan to bless a nation, but if the nation turns to evil then He will withdraw the blessing.
He then warns Israel that He is planning judgement on the nation but there is still a chance to turn from its wicked ways.
It is a sobering thought that we are clay on the Potter’s wheel. We want to think that we are captains of our own destiny, but the truth is that the Lord is shaping us for His purposes.
There are few fixed points in our future. Our sin will reap its rewards, but if we repent we can avoid eternal judgement. Likewise all of our good deeds count for nothing if there is sin in our hearts. Our relationship with God, in Jesus, is the key to becoming vessels fit for use.
Only Jesus can rework our lives and reshape the vessel of our heart.
Lord Jesus, I submit myself to you again. You are the Potter, I am the clay. Use me for your purposes. Amen
The sermon for August 28th 2016 is now available on the New Life web-site.
In this sermon, which is based on Matthew 6:16-18, I talk about fasting.
Click here to listen or here to download the mp3
Bill Leak again nails the hypocrisy and wilful blindness of government and community leaders in this nation. No doubt there will be a twitterstorm of abuse accusing him of islamophobia
“All who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
At a banquet Jesus notices that people are jockeying for the best places. He tells them that it is better to choose a lower place so that the host promotes you than to choose an honoured place and have the host move you to make space for another.
It is better to give a banquet for the poor, the crippled and the lame who cannot repay you than to only invite your friends. Jesus assures us that we will receive our reward in heaven.
In a culture that relentlessly encourages self-promotion, Jesus’ teaching seems crazy. Why not put yourself out there and make people take notice of you?
The pathway of humility- being realistic about ourselves and others- is actually more productive in the long term, and certainly in the Kingdom of God.
We live not for the glory of men but for the affirmation of God. At least we should live for the affirmation of God.
Is it better to have the “Well done!” of creatures of limited senses or to have our heavenly Father who created the cosmos with a word say “Great effort!”?
It is too easy to have our goals and desires shaped by sinful people. God wants us to keep our our eyes on the goal of eternity.
Lord I understand that you are training me for an everlasting Kingdom. Please help me to set my eyes and my heart on what pleases you. Amen.
For here we have no lasting city, but we are looking for the city that is to come.
We are to continue to show love to one another, practise hospitality to strangers and pray for prisoners. We should have pure lives free from adultery and greed.
We must imitate the lives of our leaders and their faith. We should always look to Jesus our sacrifice, and not allow others to divert us with strange teachings. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and for ever.
Our city is not in this world. We must continually go outside the city to the place of sacrifice, allowing Jesus to transform our lives.
If we dissect this passage and list out the rules which must be obeyed then we will become overwhelmed by the things we have to do to please God.
This passage is not about obeying rules as such. Jesus is the focus of the passage. We need to keep our focus on Jesus Christ who is the same yesterday, today and for ever. If we do that, we find our natural inclination is for the Holy Spirit to transform our lives so that we become the people the “rules” command us to be.
Jesus is our eternal sacrifice. He takes away the sins of the world and presents us faultless to the Father. Hallelujah!
Lord God, please dwell in my life with such radiance that sin has no attraction to me. Amen.
When Governments step in to “regulate” or “help” certain industries in the interests of consumers, the effects are always bad for consumers. You can see from the graph below which services are regulated by the U.S. Government.