1 Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother,
To Philemon our dear friend and fellow worker— 2 also to Apphia our sister and Archippus our fellow soldier—and to the church that meets in your home:
3 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Thanksgiving and Prayer
4 I always thank my God as I remember you in my prayers, 5 because I hear about your love for all his holy people and your faith in the Lord Jesus. 6 I pray that your partnership with us in the faith may be effective in deepening your understanding of every good thing we share for the sake of Christ. 7 Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the Lord’s people.
Paul’s Plea for Onesimus
8 Therefore, although in Christ I could be bold and order you to do what you ought to do, 9 yet I prefer to appeal to you on the basis of love. It is as none other than Paul—an old man and now also a prisoner of Christ Jesus— 10 that I appeal to you for my son Onesimus, who became my son while I was in chains. 11 Formerly he was useless to you, but now he has become useful both to you and to me.
12 I am sending him—who is my very heart—back to you. 13 I would have liked to keep him with me so that he could take your place in helping me while I am in chains for the gospel. 14 But I did not want to do anything without your consent, so that any favor you do would not seem forced but would be voluntary. 15 Perhaps the reason he was separated from you for a little while was that you might have him back forever— 16 no longer as a slave, but better than a slave, as a dear brother. He is very dear to me but even dearer to you, both as a fellow man and as a brother in the Lord.
17 So if you consider me a partner, welcome him as you would welcome me. 18 If he has done you any wrong or owes you anything, charge it to me. 19 I, Paul, am writing this with my own hand. I will pay it back—not to mention that you owe me your very self. 20 I do wish, brother, that I may have some benefit from you in the Lord; refresh my heart in Christ. 21 Confident of your obedience, I write to you, knowing that you will do even more than I ask.
22 And one thing more: Prepare a guest room for me, because I hope to be restored to you in answer to your prayers.
23 Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, sends you greetings. 24 And so do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas and Luke, my fellow workers.
25 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.
He was a young man from Tehran, and he came to England to study the English language at a small school, within a theological college, situated just outside a leafy Surrey village. In his first year he found himself sharing a tiny dormitory with a ‘radiant’ Christian man. About eighteen months after meeting this man he was to say to him one day, ”Anthony, many times you talked to me about Jesus. But one day I saw Jesus in your face, and now I want to become a Christian too!’
This was a ‘divine appointment.’
”Not only in the words you say,
Not only in your deeds confessed.
But in the most unconscious way
Is Christ expressed.
Is it a beatific smile?
A holy light upon your brow?
Oh no, I saw His presence when
You laughed just now.
To me twas not the truth you taught,
To you so clear to me so dim.
But when you came to me
You brought a sense of Him.
And from your life He beckons me,
And from your lips His love is shed.
Til I lose sight of you and see the Christ instead.”
Paul was a prisoner when he met Onesimus, the runaway slave, but it was a ‘divine appointment.’ Paul saw himself as Christ’s prisoner (1,9). He knew that all of his life was under Christ’s sovereign control, and if he was a jailbird the Lord had His reasons. Certainly one of them was so that he would encounter Onesimus, who formerly had been ”useless”, but once he was converted began to live up to his name (which actually means ‘useful’; see v.11).
You never know who you might run into whose life may change because of the meeting. Or it might be you who will be changed. Possibly both of you!
“We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps.”
(Proverbs 16:9, NLT).
Someone prayed this great prayer:
”Father, thank You for ordering my steps. Thank You for divine appointments that keep me on the right path. Help me to discern the opportunities You have placed in front of me and see clearly Your hand guiding me in Jesus’ name. Amen.”
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