ADORATION – Reflect on God’s Greatness
GOD IS GOOD
God is the embodiment of perfect goodness, and is kind, benevolent, and full of good will toward all creation.
Do good to your servant according to your word, Lord.
Teach me knowledge and good judgment, for I trust your commands.
Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey your word.
You are good, and what you do is good; teach me your decrees.
Praise the God of Perfect Goodness
Praise God for his good word. Praise God for his knowledge and wisdom. Praise God for the specific ways he has shown his goodness in your life.
CONFESSION: Confess your sins to God and receive his continued mercy.
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9
THANKSGIVING: Giving thanks to God for his specific blessings in our lives.
“Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.” Psalm 100
SUPPLICATION: Bringing our requests to God.
- Bring your personal prayer requests to God.
- Pray for Christian Challenge as they meet tonight. Ask God to strengthen student’s faith as they gather and help them grow in community.
Philemon – The Message
1-3 I, Paul, am a prisoner for the sake of Christ, here with my brother Timothy. I write this letter to you, Philemon, my good friend and companion in this work—also to our sister Apphia, to Archippus, a real trooper, and to the church that meets in your house. God’s best to you! Christ’s blessings on you!
4-7 Every time your name comes up in my prayers, I say, “Oh, thank you, God!” I keep hearing of the love and faith you have for the Master Jesus, which brims over to other believers. And I keep praying that this faith we hold in common keeps showing up in the good things we do, and that people recognize Christ in all of it. Friend, you have no idea how good your love makes me feel, doubly so when I see your hospitality to fellow believers.
To Call the Slave Your Friend
8-9 In line with all this I have a favor to ask of you. As Christ’s ambassador and now a prisoner for him, I wouldn’t hesitate to command this if I thought it necessary, but I’d rather make it a personal request.
10-14 While here in jail, I’ve fathered a child, so to speak. And here he is, hand-carrying this letter—Onesimus! He was useless to you before; now he’s useful to both of us. I’m sending him back to you, but it feels like I’m cutting off my right arm in doing so. I wanted in the worst way to keep him here as your stand-in to help out while I’m in jail for the Message. But I didn’t want to do anything behind your back, make you do a good deed that you hadn’t willingly agreed to.
15-16 Maybe it’s all for the best that you lost him for a while. You’re getting him back now for good—and no mere slave this time, but a true Christian brother! That’s what he was to me—he’ll be even more than that to you.
17-20 So if you still consider me a comrade-in-arms, welcome him back as you would me. If he damaged anything or owes you anything, chalk it up to my account. This is my personal signature—Paul—and I stand behind it. (I don’t need to remind you, do I, that you owe your very life to me?) Do me this big favor, friend. You’ll be doing it for Christ, but it will also do my heart good.
21-22 I know you well enough to know you will. You’ll probably go far beyond what I’ve written. And by the way, get a room ready for me. Because of your prayers, I fully expect to be your guest again.
23-25 Epaphras, my cellmate in the cause of Christ, says hello. Also my coworkers Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, and Luke. All the best to you from the Master, Jesus Christ!
Copyright © 1993, 2002, 2018 by Eugene H. Peterson
Read Philemon vv. 17-19. By this point in the letter, there are some clear implications. First, it is clear that Paul emphasizes the power of the gospel to transform relationships. Second, Paul believes that unity and reconciliation in the body of Christ, the church, is of paramount importance. The clear application of the letter is forgiveness. We all want to be forgiven, but forgiving others is not easy. Read Ephesians 4:32 and Luke 7:41-47. How do these passages address the difficulty of forgiveness? Is there any unforgiveness that you’re harboring in your heart? If left unchecked, this will consume you. We need to forgive as a part of our own healing. When we forgive others, it is healing because the action involves the grace of God at work in our own hearts. Sometimes reconciliation (as in restored relationship) is not possible or wise. In this sense, forgiveness can be “one-sided.” That’s okay. Only concern yourself with what is in your control. Romans 12:18 says, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” One of the Heart Attitudes at River is to Maintain Clear Relationships. Our assumption is that we are going to offend each other. But our commitment is to maintain clear relationships by asking forgiveness and seeking reconciliation when we sin against others. What would it look like for you to forgive someone and move toward reconciliation?