Tuesday, July 26, 2016, 3:03 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Broken Hearts.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Philemon 1:1-20 (ESV). Paul, a prisoner for Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother, To Philemon our beloved fellow worker and Apphia our sister and Archippus our fellow soldier, and the church in your house: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I thank my God always when I remember you in my prayers, because I hear of your love and of the faith that you have toward the Lord Jesus and for all the saints, and I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective for the full knowledge of every good thing that is in us for the sake of Christ. For I have derived much joy and comfort from your love, my brother, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you. Accordingly, though I am bold enough in Christ to command you to do what is required, yet for love's sake I prefer to appeal to you—I, Paul, an old man and now a prisoner also for Christ Jesus— I appeal to you for my child, Onesimus, whose father I became in my imprisonment. (Formerly he was useless to you, but now he is indeed useful to you and to me.) I am sending him back to you, sending my very heart. I would have been glad to keep him with me, in order that he might serve me on your behalf during my imprisonment for the gospel, but I preferred to do nothing without your consent in order that your goodness might not be by compulsion but of your own accord. For this perhaps is why he was parted from you for a while, that you might have him back forever, no longer as a bondservant but more than a bondservant, as a beloved brother—especially to me, but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord. So if you consider me your partner, receive him as you would receive me. If he has wronged you at all, or owes you anything, charge that to my account. I, Paul, write this with my own hand: I will repay it—to say nothing of your owing me even your own self. Yes, brother, I want some benefit from you in the Lord. Refresh my heart in Christ. The Story The Lord Jesus is using this story this morning to talk with me about something that is presently going on in the world and in the church, so I am going to share what he is teaching me, and I hope it will help to encourage and to strengthen your hearts. This is a story about a man, Onesimus, who was a slave to a slave owner, his master, Philemon. Onesimus, nonetheless, appears here to be a fugitive slave, one who had disobeyed and who had deserted his master. Yet, under the ministry of Paul, while Paul was in chains for the gospel, Onesimus believed in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of his life. Paul said of him that formerly he was useless to Philemon, probably because of his rebellion and desertion, but that now Onesimus was useful to both Paul and to Philemon because of his faith and his obedience to Christ and to the gospel. So, Paul was sending Onesimus back to Philemon, and he asked him to receive him back, no longer as a slave, but better than a slave, as a dear brother. He asked that Philemon would welcome Onesimus as he would welcome Paul. And, then Paul said something remarkable. He said, “If he has wronged you at all, or owes you anything, charge that to my account.” Useless So, this is what the Lord is teaching me this morning through this passage: In the Old Testament and until Jesus Christ died and was resurrected from the grave, the Jews were God’s chosen people. They were his servants and he was their master. Throughout various times in their history, though, they rebelled against God, their Lord and master, and they did what their flesh desired. They deserted their God who had nurtured them, cared for them, loved them, and had delivered them time and time again from their enemies. They wandered off to follow after the gods of this world, and they mixed their worship of the one true God with the worship of idols. So, they were useless to God because they had deserted him and had wandered off to go the way of the world and to follow after their own flesh. Then, the Lord fast-forwarded me to today. After Jesus died and was resurrected from the grave he made the way possible for all of us to come to God and to be restored to him via faith in Jesus Christ. Whether Jew or Gentile by birth, he made us all one through faith in Jesus Christ. He delivered us out of bondage to sin and he rescued us from the control of Satan over our lives, and he became our owner-master and us his slaves-servants. Only those who have faith in Jesus Christ are now God’s children – the children of promise – and have the hope of eternal life with God in heaven (See: Gal. 3-4). Nonetheless, many of God’s children (bondservants) have deserted him, have disobeyed him, and have wandered off to follow after the gods of this world or are trying to mix their worship of the one true God with the worship of idols made by man. They are listening to humans instead of to God, and they are being persuaded to desert the Jesus of the Bible and the gospel as taught by Jesus and his NT apostles. Instead they are accepting and are embracing a diluted gospel message which tolerates sin, and preaches that we don’t have to repent of our sins and that we don’t have to obey Christ. They have replaced the teachings of scripture with man-made philosophies and marketing schemes, and many are buying into a message of “unity,” which is intended to lead us all to a one-world religion. The Call God has been calling out to his wayward children for some time now, just as he did with the Israelites of old, and he has been confronting them with their sins of adultery and idolatry, and has been calling them to come home to God, to repent of their sins, to reform their ways, and to follow Jesus Christ with their lives in faithful obedience and in surrender to God’s will and purposes for their lives. But, many who call themselves Christians, and who say they are followers of Christ, are not listening to God but are following their own stubborn ways, much like God’s children of old. So, God is sending divine discipline upon them in order to get them to repent of their sins, and to forsake their idols and their adulterated religious practices. He is calling them to repent of their rebellious ways and to submit to his Lordship over their lives. I believe that much of the distress and unrest that we are seeing in the world today, including now in America, is God’s divine discipline against his wayward church in order to get them to repent and to return to their Lord and master. He is using people in positions of wealth and power in the world as his divine instruments of judgment to wreak havoc in our nations, who will then bring “order out of chaos” (the chaos they first created), only it is a one-world order with a one-world “unity” religion (See: Rev. 2-3; Rev. 13, et al). Useful Now In Jeremiah 31 there is a promise of restoration and renewal for the repentant, and there is a promise that God’s people will be revived spiritually. This promise was to encourage the hearts of those who had labored long and hard in being the Lord’s servants and witnesses in taking God’s messages to the people, and who had wept over the spiritual decline and rebellion of God’s children. I believe that same promise of restoration and revival applies to the wayward church today and is given to those who have labored long and hard in being the Lord’s servants and witnesses in the sharing of the gospel to the world and in the sharing of messages of repentance to the wayward church. I believe there is hope, and that through difficult times and the persecution of the church that we are going to see revival. We have hope because of what Jesus Christ did in dying on the cross for our sins. When Jesus died on the cross, he who knew no sin became sin for us. Our sins were, thus, charged to his account, and he took our punishment so that we can go free. Through faith in Jesus Christ, his righteousness is credited to our account. This is true forgiveness! If we believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and as Savior of our lives, even if we have wandered away, for a time, and we have followed the ways of man, and have been involved in adopting a diluted and adulterated gospel message, our Lord is ready to take us back if we repent of our sins, and we choose to come home to Jesus (See: Rev. 2-3). You are never too far gone to be forgiven of sin or to be restored back to your relationship with your Lord (owner-master) Jesus Christ. He longs for you to come to him (or to return to him). Broken Hearts / An Original Work / December 14, 2012 Based off Jeremiah 31:15 (cf. Matt. 2:18) Weeping in Ramah; Her children no more. Rachel is weeping; Her comfort forlorn. Jesus is waiting; Her comforter be, When she calls on Him, Down on bended knee. He has provided our Sins’ sacrifice, When He died for our sin, Paying the price. Our hearts are broken; We’re feeling her pain; Looking for answers And someone to blame. Jesus is calling us; Him to believe; Turning from our sins, So we can be free. Trust in His promises. Lean on His grace; Living for Jesus, Eternal life gain. Days of confusion, Distress, pain and grief; Looking for someone To give us relief. Our God and Father In heaven above Is looking down to us; Providing love. Call upon Him in your Sadness and pain. Trust your life with His Son; Live life again.