Joy from a Distance

If you missed last weeks post, we started a series on New Beginnings; using the book of Philemon (in the Bible) as our focus. 

Catch it HERE if you missed it.

Simple Review:

This book is a personal letter written from Paul to Philemon. Surely, Paul never thought centuries of Christians would read. It was regarding a personal matter.

This book has three main characters: 

  • Paul – an apostle of Jesus who writing from a prison cell in Rome; jailed for his faith.
  • Philemon – a Pastor of a church in Colosse (present day Turkey). The church Paul started and meets in his home. There are indications he was a wealthy man.
  • Onesimus – a man known to Paul and Philemon

Let’s jump right into Verses 4-7 today:

Verse 4

I thank My God always, making mention of you in my prayers, …

Paul affectionately tells Philemon, he talks to God about him. Even thanking God for creating Philemon and making him part of his life and ministry.

These few simple “Christian words” many of us utter without thinking or taking action. They are common place in Christian culture; barely holding meaning.

Let’s try to pretend we were opening the letter and PAUL, the Apostle, told us … 

I thank God for you, Elaine (fill in your name), ALWAYS! AND, TALK TO GOD ABOUT YOU!!!

WHAT?? He talks to God about me?!? Are you kidding, Always!! He’s grateful God made me? What affirmation and affection! My heart would leap and my pulse quicken!

Could my name be whispered to anyone more important?! Someone speaking my name to God is the sweetest gift they can give!

Prayer is a conversation between us and God … it might go something like this…

Good Morning, Father.

I just wanted to tell you how much my friend/sister, Elaine (fill in your name) means to me. Thank you for blessing my life with her. I know I’ve told you before, but since You are the One who created her, I want to remind you again of what a gift she is to my life. I’d also like to ask that you lead her, guide her, supply her with strength, endurance. Shower your love and favor on her. ….

Melt my heart …. talking to the all-powerful, all-knowing Creator God about me! My affection just quadrupled toward Paul, as perhaps, Philemon’s did. These are personal, soul piercing, heart words.

These few simple Christian words, ACTED OUT, are infusions of life to workers in the field struggling to move forward the gospel of Christ.

My heart would have been pulsing with love for Paul, as I read this simple verse!

Read On:

5 because I hear of your love and of your faith which you have toward the Lord Jesus and toward all the saints (God’s people). 6 I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective and powerful because of your accurate knowledge of every good thing which is ours in Christ. 7 For I have had great joy and comfort and encouragement from your love, because the hearts of the saints (God’s people) have been refreshed through you, my brother.

Wow … Paul’s words of encouragement are abundant! In Rome, all the way from Turkey (look at a map), Paul is hearing about Philemon’s love and faith and commending him for his actions; his witness, his teaching, and encouraging other Christians in the faith.

Honestly, we seldom know how far-reaching our actions travel. Today’s methods are far more expedient than back in Paul’s day. News travels fast; ever heard that?

Philemon’s actions are bringing Paul great joy, comfort and encouragement
… In Prison.

It may not have traveled fast in 61 AD, but the message arrived loud and clear. Paul noted Philemon’s actions and told him so!

I can’t imagine how encouraging this letter’s first seven verses were to Philemon. If I were he, I would have been thinking… I should be the one writing you a letter! Paul was his mentor, spiritual leader and in prison!! Surely, I should have been the one penning words of encouragement.

In these verses, we find Paul encouraging Philemon from a prison cell: exhorting his Christian commitment and behavior. These are not words written to a stranger; there is kinship and love written in and between the lines.

Maybe as this year begins, there is someone who you need to encourage; pen some words and send them off. Their actions may inspire your own. Their name may be whispered in your prayers. They need to know.

You can not know how far reaching your actions will be.

Living out your Christian faith may bring joy to someone beyond your borders, perhaps shackled by scars, war-torn, helpless, etc.

Who needs to hear from you today?

Encouraged by a Letter,

Feel free to share with a friend(s).

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