Useful

Do you ever feel like a useless person, that you have never made any difference in anyone’s life, even your own?  We all like to feel useful.  We enjoy it when we hear someone tell us “Well done” on a job we have done, a race we have run, or even as a preacher, a sermon we have preached.

In the apostle Paul’s epistles, there is a one chapter epistle he wrote as a personal letter to a man by the name of Philemon who had a runaway servant, by the name of Onesimus.  That name means “Useful”.

Onesimus ran away, and found was directed in his running away unto Paul, and the apostle gave him the gospel of Jesus Christ, and Onesimus began to live up to his name.  Hear the words of the apostle to Philemon…

“If thou count me therefore a partner, receive him as myself. If he hath wronged thee, or oweth thee ought, put that on mine account; I Paul have written it with mine own hand, I will repay it: albeit I do not say to thee how thou owest unto me even thine own self besides.” Philemon 1:17-19 (KJV)

This is an account of Paul being an intercessor for Onesimus in taking this letter to his master.  I think we must give Onesimus much credit here.  Philemon could have pronounced his death, and killed Onesimus himself, if he chose to do so. Onesimus may have stolen from Philemon before he ran away.  That does seem implied by Paul’s statement, “If he has wronged you, or owes you…”.  So Onesimus’ journey was probably filled with some dread, but also relief.

Paul is stepping in like a savior, and willing to take the brunt of the punishment.  He is resting too, in the truth that Philemon is a follower of Jesus Christ as well.

What can we learn from Philemon, Paul, and Onesimus?

  1.  Philemon has the opportunity to forgive and not only receive back a servant but a brother and servant of Jesus Christ; all he must do is forgive;
  2.  Paul shows us what it is to intervene on the behalf of someone else, even if it cost us something;
  3.  Onesimus teaches us what it means to have a changed life through the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Do you want to live a “Useful” life?  You become useful when you give your life to Christ through faith in Him and His finished work on Calvary’s cross.  Useful was useless, until he came to Jesus Christ.  Then, his name meant something.

Day 85 – Pastors, Brethren, and Priests

My reading today was Titus 1 through Hebrews 6.  A wonderful reading.  I read of Titus a faithful Christian pastor on the Isle of Crete (1:5), and his ministry to the people.  Paul’s call to Titus for the appointing of “Elders” which is another word for “Pastors”.  Titus is the third and final “Pastoral Epistle”

You can see that the words “Elder” and “Bishop” are similar; because of how Paul uses them in verses five and seven. Paul addresses several issues for Titus; and warns him of several thins such as “Not giving heed to Jewish fables, and commandments of men, that turn from the truth” (1:14).

“But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine: that the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience.  The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; that they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.  Young men likewise exhort to be sober minded.”  Titus 2:1-6 (KJV)

Sound doctrine is of much importance for the pastor of a Christian congregation.  Yet, in 2012 there are some who are more in favor of staying away from Biblical and Christian doctrine.  For fear of offense or offending others and driving them away from the “faith”.  People need Christ.  If we present not the cross of Christ and the correct doctrine of the cross no one will be saved, but will temporarily feel better, maybe.

Christian conduct in this world is given by Paul in chapter three; and he stresses the grace and mercy of God,

“Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; which He shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; that being justified by His grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” Titus 3:5-7

Philemon, a small letter written by Paul while he is imprisoned for the faith of Christ; is written to this man for Onesimus who was a slave of Philemon.  He had evidently left Philemon without consent, maybe even taking some thing or things that did not belong to himself.  Onesimus became a believer and follower of Jesus Christ.  Onesimus has desire to make things right with Philemon, but fears for his life.  Philemon is a brother in Christ, now Onesimus is a brother in Christ, and the apostle exhorts Philemon to receive him as a brother.  I believe Philemon received Onesimus as a brother, and probably freed him.  I can see him grabbing Onesimus when he reads this letter and hugging his neck; forgiveness flowing from the heart of his brother.

“For perhaps he therefore departed for a season, that thou shouldest receive him for ever; not now as a servant, but above a servant, a brother beloved, specially to me, but how much more unto thee, both in the flesh, and in the Lord?  If thou count me therefore a partner, receive him as myself.”  Philemon 15-17 (KJV)

The letter addressed to the Hebrew Christians is one dealing with the Deity and Priesthood of Christ Jesus.  The Hebrews were familiar with the issue of angels, Moses, and Melchizedek (Genesis 14:17-20; Psalm 110).  The writer of Hebrews points out that Jesus is greater than angels, Moses and is a priest after the order of Melchizedek (Hebrews 6:20)

Because of the work of Jesus Christ on the cross we have the power and authority to approach the very throne of God.  Hear the Word of God,

“Seeing then that we have a Great High Priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.  For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.  Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”  Hebrews 4:14-16 (KJV)

Jesus is the Christ, Son of the Living God; crucified, buried, and bodily raised from the grave; ascended into Heaven, seated at the Father’s right hand, and is coming again to set things right forever.

Blessed be the name of the LORD.

-Tim A. Blankenship