Articles & Devotionals
With God, All Things Are Possible
Hello Church of Christ family, I hope this devotional message finds you all doing well and staying healthy!! I have been studying this week from the book of Philemon and I am strengthened by the words of Paul to Philemon and I want to share that with you today. This book seems to me like a book that I don’t look at very often and certainly have not taken much time to study from, so it is an encouragement to dig into it. It’s a short book with only 1 chapter so I promise it won’t take you long to get through it and I hope to inspire you to take a few minutes today and read it.
The letter to Philemon was written by Paul from prison probably at the same time he wrote the letters to the Ephesians, the Philippians, and the Colossians, approximately AD 60-62. It’s a simple letter about a former slave, Onesimus, who was Philemon’s servant. The background is that this slave stole money from Philemon and ran away fleeing to Rome. In Rome he met Paul, we don’t know how as it is not recorded, and a bond was formed. The gospel was shared and Onesimus became a fellow believer in Christ. Paul quickly grew to love Onesimus and wanted to keep the former slave in Rome with him. Paul also knew that he had to clean up his past and I think Onesimus wanted to clear his name as well. So, the decision was made for him to go back to Philemon and make his past wrongs right.
In the text, Paul starts by praising Philemon’s friendship as the leader in Christ that he is, after all, it would appear that the church in Colosse met in Philemon’s house!! Not that much different then what we are doing today with current conditions. Paul then makes a plea for Onesimus as a new believer and a faithful Christian. A believer who wants to fix his past sins. A person like me, a person maybe like you. We all probably have things in our past that haunt us in some way or another but we are new creatures and how refreshing is it for Paul to see the transformation of this man as he brings Christ in his life. How edifying is it to see his conviction and willingness to set the record straight.
Many of us who are parents can also see this parallel in our children’s lives. Maybe it’s easier to see when you have a big adoptive family like ours but certainly some people take a little longer than others to find their path and calling in life like Onesimus. When that calling comes not only is it a physical maturity, but it’s a spiritual maturity as well and they work hand in hand when coupled with Christ. When those moments happen how powerful is it when others around us can see it also. Maybe they even see it enough to want to help as Paul did here in this situation.
This story also reminds me of a close friend who as of today is losing his battle with cancer. I visited him a few days ago and read him this story because it reminds me of a man he is a mentor to. The similarities of this book and my friend are very parallel in regards to coming into spiritual maturity. The growth of his student is something I didn’t think was able to be done. I thought, here is a man who is set in his ways and not willing to change who he is or what he stands for. The saying we all hear and I think of is the following, “With God, all things are possible,” and let me tell you the difference in 2 years in this man's life has been 180 degrees. Why is that? Because my friend Mark sewed into him, taught him, shared scripture with him, poured into him and the fruit it has produced is beautiful.
Today as Mark prepares to move on to a heavenly place, his friend is by his side almost daily while still working a full-time job, raising a family and traveling from Gastonia to Kannapolis faithfully to spend time with Mark. As I read this story to Mark, tears flowed from my eyes thinking of that relationship and the fruit it has borne.
So, as you go about your day think of who you can touch by sharing God's word or maybe just simply asking a stranger – How can I pray for you?! Who knows the fruit that will bear.