Imagine opening up your favorite magazine and seeing a personal letter asking for forgiveness for another person on one of the pages. This letter kinda goes into detail while still being vague about why this other person needs forgiveness. Everyone involved is mentioned by name. What would you do? What is your first thought? What if you knew the people mentioned? Why is this letter in the magazine in the first place? Anyone reading this magazine may think the same thing. This is the way I felt when I read the book of Philemon in preparation for our first official week of the BCC (Biblical Core Course). My first thought was why is this very personal letter in the Bible? What can I possibly learn from reading someone else's mail? Well, let me tell you, there is much to learn from the book of Philemon. This letter is written by Paul when he was in prison on house arrest, most likely while in Rome, around 60-63 AD. Paul is writing to Philemon on behalf of a run away slave named Onesimus (pronounced Oh-ni-si-mus) but this letter isn't just addressed to Philemon. If you read carefully you will find that Paul is also writing to the church that meets in Philemon's house. Now this is where it gets a little interesting. It seems that Onesimus ran away from Philemon and at some point, possibly while visiting Paul in prison, gave his life to God and decided to follow Jesus. Keep in mind that slaves in that time period were not what we think of now. They were well taken care of and often liNow, Onesimus would like to do the right thing and return to Philemon but knows that he faces possible death as does Paul for aiding him. So, Paul, being good friends with and a mentor of Philemon, writes this letter of appeal. Paul is requesting that Philemon and all of the other church members to embrace their slaves not just as slaves but as brothers and treat them as such. He wants Philemon to be himself, he is great at encouraging the saints (fellow-believers) and mentoring them. Paul is asking him to do the same for Onesimus. On of the "timeless truths" (basically a key theme from the book that is true always, not matter the setting or situation) I got out of Philemon was to lead by an example of love and not forcefulness. Paul states that he is more than capable of commanding Philemon to do what he wants but instead is appealing out of love (see verse 8). Paul wants Philemon to to understand his heart and understand why he should accept Onesimus back and forgive him and embrace him into the family of God as a brother. He wants Philemon to be an example of Christ to Onesimus but also to the other slave-owners in his church.
Don't take my word for it, search it out, ask your own questions, really read what is written and see what you get out of it. Now read Philemon again and see what you think.
A few months ago, the YWAM base here in Ensenada was filled with laughing children running wildly through the courtyard. All week long they had been anticipating this day. They had listened intently and answered the questions when asked, participated when required. They were ready for this long awaited day. It was time for the treasure hunt, their reward for such good behavior. As part of the treasure hunt they had to follow all of the clues in order to receive the treasure map with the clearly marked X. They knew that X marked the spot of the beloved treasure. They weren’t sure what the treasure was exactly but they knew it was worth it! So they excitedly ran from station to station fulfilling tasks specifically designed to challenge them to remember all they had learned during the VBS of the previous week. They worked together as a team to complete each mission all with the hopes of obtaining a piece of the puzzle. Finally, the time had come. They had all the clues and a copy of the map. They immediately knew where the treasure was hidden. All they had to do was dig it up and partake in the bountiful riches found inside. Now their treasure was simply candy, snacks and toys but to them this was worth more than gold.
The Bible says in Proverbs 5:1-5, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding and if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God.
This is what I am hoping to do over the next 3 months. I want to be like those children. They were caught up in the excitement of the search. When I turned 13 my mom gave me a Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance, the inscription reads, “May this help to unlock the Kingdom of Heaven.” Now for most this would seem like quite a unique gift for a 13 year old but I loved it and have used it on many occasions. Whenever I get stuck on a verse and it doesn’t make much sense to me, I go back to the original Greek or Hebrew and see what that word means and where else it is used. I also love hearing the history and culture of the times and people that Jesus was talking to and Paul was writing about. I want to have a better understanding of God’s Word and His Character. Over the next few months in the Biblical Core Course I am hoping to obtain the next few pieces of the puzzle and finally have the entire treasure map in front of me. I am hoping to be able to immediately know where the treasure is hidden and then be able to dig it up and partake in the bountiful riches inside. Follow me on my treasure hunt.
To get the full flavor of an herb, it must be pressed between the fingers, so it is the same with the Scriptures; the more familiar they become, the more they reveal their hidden treasures and yield their indescribable riches.
— John Chrysostom, A.D. 347-407
I am on an amazing adventure traveling the world with Jesus. Join me on my adventure and learn what I learn.
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