2017-10-29
Pastor Jonathan Falwell

Key Verse: Philemon 7 For we have great joy and consolation in your love, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed by you, brother.

Today, we’re going to begin a a short series, just three weeks, focusing on some small books in the New Testament. They’re not small in content or impact, just small in size. We’ve entitled this series, Tiny Giants, and today we’re going to spend time in the book of Philemon, the third shortest book in the Bible (335 words.) Next week, we will move to 2 John (245 words) and then conclude the series with 3 John (219 words.)

Philemon 1 (NLT) This letter is from Paul, a prisoner for preaching the Good News about Christ Jesus, and from our brother Timothy. I am writing to Philemon, our beloved co-worker, 2 and to our sister Apphia, and to our fellow soldier Archippus, and to the church that meets in your house. 3 May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace. 4 I always thank my God when I pray for you, Philemon, 5 because I keep hearing about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all of God’s people. 6 And I am praying that you will put into action the generosity that comes from your faith as you understand and experience all the good things we have in Christ. 7 Your love has given me much joy and comfort, my brother, for your kindness has often refreshed the hearts of God’s people. 8 That is why I am boldly asking a favor of you. I could demand it in the name of Christ because it is the right thing for you to do. 9 But because of our love, I prefer simply to ask you. Consider this as a request from me—Paul, an old man and now also a prisoner for the sake of Christ Jesus. 10 I appeal to you to show kindness to my child, Onesimus. I became his father in the faith while here in prison. 11 Onesimus hasn’t been of much use to you in the past, but now he is very useful to both of us. 12 I am sending him back to you, and with him comes my own heart. 13 I wanted to keep him here with me while I am in these chains for preaching the Good News, and he would have helped me on your behalf. 14 But I didn’t want to do anything without your consent. I wanted you to help because you were willing, not because you were forced. 15 It seems you lost Onesimus for a little while so that you could have him back forever. 16 He is no longer like a slave to you. He is more than a slave, for he is a beloved brother, especially to me. Now he will mean much more to you, both as a man and as a brother in the Lord. 17 So if you consider me your partner, welcome him as you would welcome me. 18 If he has wronged you in any way or owes you anything, charge it to me. 19 I, Paul, write this with my own hand: I will repay it. And I won’t mention that you owe me your very soul! 20 Yes, my brother, please do me this favor for the Lord’s sake. Give me this encouragement in Christ. 21 I am confident as I write this letter that you will do what I ask and even more! 22 One more thing—please prepare a guest room for me, for I am hoping that God will answer your prayers and let me return to you soon. 23 Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, sends you his greetings. 24 So do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, and Luke, my co-workers. 25 May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.

Mercy Matters

1. The Right Testimony

Verses 4-7 I always thank my God when I pray for you, Philemon, 5 because I keep hearing about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all of God’s people. 6 And I am praying that you will put into action the generosity that comes from your faith as you understand and experience all the good things we have in Christ. 7 Your love has given me much joy and comfort, my brother, for your kindness has often refreshed the hearts of God’s people.

– Philemon was a church leader who found Christ through Paul, probably in Ephesus

– The church actually met in his home

– His testimony was one that had even reached Paul, in prison, in Rome (1300 miles)

– Our testimony is an important part of our faith walk as it allows us to be known for the things of God

– Paul wrote this letter to bring healing to a tense situation and to restore fellowship

2. The Right Response

Verse 8 That is why I am boldly asking a favor of you. I could demand it in the name of Christ because it is the right thing for you to do.

Verse 10 I appeal to you to show kindness to my child, Onesimus. I became his father in the faith while here in prison

– Key phrase is here is “That is why…” Paul was asking based on what he already knew about Philemon’s character

– Onesimus was a thief, a deserter, and according to Roman law, could have been legally and rightfully punished for his actions.

– Yet, Paul said the right thing to do was forgive and restore

3. The Right Action

Verse 21 I am confident as I write this letter that you will do what I ask and even more!

– Here is the concept of “over-deliver

– Paul knew it was the right thing to do, but he desired for Philemon to not only forgive but to restore and to develop a relationship that had never existed before

– This was not “I’ll forgive but I won’t forget” (1 Cor. 13 – no record of wrongs)

4. The Right Example

Verse 25 May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.

– Key word – GRACE

This short book is a picture of how to deal with the certain conflicts of life with others, from both perspectives.  Paul knew it was the right thing to do for Philemon to forgive and restore. But, Paul also knew it was the right thing to do for Onesimus to go back. Onesimus didn’t have to tell Paul of his wrongdoing, but he did. Every element of this story is a great example of how to do everything right.

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