Philemon is one of those books that we don't talk about much is it?  Is it because it is small?  Is it because we aren't sure if it is pronounced:  Is it Feye lee mon?  Is it Fill uh mon?  Is it something else?  Maybe it's because we sometimes forget it even exists!  Like in the 27/40 Read thru guide.  It should be with 1, 2 Timothy and Titus.   But to show you that it is important, we will be posting the entire book of Philemon below for your reading enjoyment.

Philemon 1:1-25 (NASB) 
1  Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother, To Philemon our beloved brother and fellow worker, 2  and to Apphia our sister, and to Archippus our fellow soldier, and to the church in your house: 
3  Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 
4  I thank my God always, making mention of you in my prayers, 5  because I hear of your love and of the faith which you have toward the Lord Jesus and toward all the saints; 6  and I pray that the fellowship of your faith may become effective through the knowledge of every good thing which is in you for Christ's sake. 
7  For I have come to have much joy and comfort in your love, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you, brother. 
8  Therefore, though I have enough confidence in Christ to order you to do what is proper, 
9  yet for love's sake I rather appeal to you—since I am such a person as Paul, the aged, and now also a prisoner of Christ Jesus— 10  I appeal to you for my child Onesimus, whom I have begotten in my imprisonment, 11  who formerly was useless to you, but now is useful both to you and to me. 
12  I have sent him back to you in person, that is, sending my very heart, 13  whom I wished to keep with me, so that on your behalf he might minister to me in my imprisonment for the gospel; 14  but without your consent I did not want to do anything, so that your goodness would not be, in effect, by compulsion but of your own free will. 
15  For perhaps he was for this reason separated from you for a while, that you would have him back forever, 16  no longer as a slave, but more than a slave, a beloved brother, especially to me, but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord. 
17  If then you regard me a partner, accept him as you would me. 18  But if he has wronged you in any way or owes you anything, charge that to my account; 19  I, Paul, am writing this with my own hand, I will repay it (not to mention to you that you owe to me even your own self as well). 
20  Yes, brother, let me benefit from you in the Lord; refresh my heart in Christ. 21  Having confidence in your obedience, I write to you, since I know that you will do even more than what I say. 22  At the same time also prepare me a lodging, for I hope that through your prayers I will be given to you. 
23  Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, greets you, 24  as do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, Luke, my fellow workers. 
25  The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. 

Defending Ourselves in Ministry

In 2 Corinthians 11, Paul takes up a defense of himself in his ministry.  He then goes on one of his famous run-on sentences.  In this dissertation, Paul delineates a few of his accomplishments:

  • He preached for free
  • Not burdensome
  • He is a Hebrew
  • He is an Israelite
  • A descendant of Abraham
  • Servant of Christ
  • Far more labors
  • Far more imprisonments
  • Beaten
  • In danger of death
  • Five times he was flogged
  • Three times he was beaten with rods
  • Stoned
  • Shipwrecked
  • Spent a night and a day in the deep
  • Danger from rivers, robbers, from his own countrymen, Gentiles, in the city, in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, amongst false brethren
  • Many sleepless nights
  • Hungry, thirsty, without food, in the cold and exposed

I don't know about you, but reading that makes my palms sweat, my head hurt, and my knees ache.  He finishes his 'resume' in chapter 12, verse 1...boasting is necessary, though it is not profitable.    

Paul viewed his sufferings as badges to wear; badges of honor.  He approached his 'boastin' somewhat reluctantly.  But when he got rolling, wow...did he ever get rolling!?  But it makes me think about what my journey as a Christian has been like.  Thankfully, I live in a country where I am able to worship freely (just not too loudly).  I am blessed to have a forum such as this to type.  I don't pray for persecution, and I am glad I have not experienced it.  But I wonder, has my lack of persecution made me soft?  I mean, I look at Paul's resume and I can't help but ask, "Why did you keep pressing on?"  

I think the answer has to be found in Acts 9.  My NASB bible has a heading of "The Conversion of Saul."  And it is an amazing story of God coming to earth, again.  Speaking to Saul/Paul.  His conversation wasn't just an impression, a small quiet whisper.  It was of such a volume, that the men traveling with Saul/Paul could hear the voice, but could see no one.  Saul/Paul was assaulted by a light from heaven and the voice of Jesus engaged Saul/Paul right where he was!  This encounter was the key to Saul becoming Paul and Paul becoming the most prolific writer of the New Testament.  It is also what Paul would have referred back to in those lonely times.  While bobbing like a piece of driftwood in the Mediterranean Sea, while the lashes came, while imprisoned, while stoned, in danger, sleepless nights, etc.  

I am convinced that any encounter with the Living God will give you some 'stickiness'.  You will stick to what you are called to.  God called Paul to be an apostle.  He didn't let a little shipwreck bother him!  

So, when we feel like life is tough, when we think we cannot possibly go on, when none of it makes sense, remember--God is with you as much as He was with Paul.


Ephesians is Missing!

So, a very astute reader of the Bible pointed out something super important about the 27/40 read thru: Ephesians still exists in the New just is not on the guide. If you haven't read it yet, please add it wherever you feel it best fits. Going forward, it will be paired with Galatians. My deepest and most sincere apologies.

Continuing the Discussion

We are a week into the challenge.  How are you holding up?  Has God given you any a-ha moments?  For me, I was surprised that a passage of scripture I have read numerous times held a piece of information I'd never seen before. 

In Mark 6, in the context of Jesus walking on water and calming the storm, Jesus tells the disciples to "Take courage; it is I, do not be afraid." 

And then in verse 51, Jesus gets in the boat, the wind stopped, and the disciples were utterly astonished. 

Finally, in verse 52, "for they had not gained any insight from the incident of the loaves, but their heart was heartened." 

Have you ever experienced that moment of, "I know I have read this before, but I had never seen those words!"  I had that moment this week.  I was so encouraged by it too.  That tells me that the Bible will remain as fresh today as it was 19 years ago when I first came to faith.  

If you feel inclined to share below, share a story or two about some a-ha moments God has gifted you with.