On 11th Feb 2014, we attended the City Harvest Church service at the Suntec Convention Center. The service started at 10 am with beautiful praise and worship by Joe Pringle.
3 things about Philemon:
- Face your fears and failures. Forgive and be forgiven
The book of Philemon was a letter written by Paul to him, his family and his church. Slavery was common practice during Paul’s time; a slave would have no rights, and runaway slaves were branded and severely punished. Philemon was a wealthy man and Paul had used his place for church gatherings. The background of the book of Philemon was that Philemon had a slave, Onesimus, who stole from him and ran away to Rome where he was caught and thrown into jail. Paul met Onesimus in jail and led him to receive Jesus as his Lord and Savior.
In Philemon 1:12, Paul revealed that he was sending back Onesimus, now a believer, to Philemon. “This is one of the most difficult things to do in life–to go back and face the music,” said Pringle. “We lose control over our lives when we run away from our responsibilities, putting it into the hands of our circumstances instead.” For Onesimus to return to Philemon would take tremendous courage, given the background of how slaves were treated and the wrong that he had done.
Pringle reminded the church that victory is never won by running away from the problem. The only way to overcoming problems is to face the issue and address it.
While Paul was encouraging Onesimus to face his fears and receive forgiveness, he was also exhorting Philemon, his family and the church to be a family who is accepting and forgiving.
“Our job is not to judge but to love. Unforgiveness is like drinking poison and hoping the other person will die,” taught Pringle. Unforgiveness opens a hole in a Christian’s spiritual covering and gives the enemy a chance to torment him; forgiveness, on the other hand, sets the forgiver’s heart free.
In Philemon 1:16-17, Paul beseeches Philemon not to receive Onesimus as a slave, but as a brother. A runaway slave should be branded on his forehead and receive punishment, but Paul asked Philemon to receive him as he would have received Paul himself. Paul went a step further, saying in Philemon 1:18 that if Onesimus owed Philemon anything, he would assume the debt.
“Paul is behaving like Jesus Christ here,” Pringle said. “He is making intercession for Philemon, just like how Jesus would intercede for us sinners; Through His death and sacrifice, He is now making intercession for us such that our standing with the Father is as His own. And Jesus had asked God not to charge us for our sins, just like how Paul said he would pay for Philemon, Jesus said He will pay the full price for our sins.” Even though mankind is fallen and undeserving, God’s heart is not for merciless judgment, but redemption.
“Believe in people, that they are more than they are. That is how God believes in us too. Express confidence in one another,” said Pringle.
- Usefulness creates opportunities we are profitable when we become skilled. Be Happy and enthusiastic. Be Reliable. Do more than anticipated. Prepare well and complete the job. Be wise, discrete and prudent. Stay Healthy, fit and strong.
- Fresh Encounter with Jesus Christ. The most transforming thing that can happen to anybody in this world is to meet Jesus Christ,” said Pringle. “From that point onwards, your entire life would be transformed.”Philemon 1:6 exhorts the believer to acknowledge the good things in us in Christ. Believers have to learn to speak to their lives through confessing Scripture rather than acknowledging the bad things in life. Negativity blocks the believer’s faith and make life ineffective.
After the sermon, pastor Phil invited the people who wanted to accept Jesus as their Savior to come forward. He shook hands and led the people into sinner’s prayer. Praise God for a wonderful time.