Evangelical Lutheran Diocese of North America

Saturday in Ascensiontide

Posted on May 20, 2023 by Pastor Dulas under Devotions
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Scripture: Philemon 3-21 (NKJV)
3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
4 I thank my God, making mention of you always in my prayers, 5 hearing of your love and faith which you have toward the Lord Jesus and toward all the saints, 6 that the sharing of your faith may become effective by the acknowledgment of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus. 7 For we have great joy and consolation in your love, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed by you, brother.
8 Therefore, though I might be very bold in Christ to command you what is fitting, 9 yet for love’s sake I rather appeal to you—being such a one as Paul, the aged, and now also a prisoner of Jesus Christ—10 I appeal to you for my son Onesimus, whom I have begotten while in my chains, 11 who once was unprofitable to you, but now is profitable to you and to me.
12 I am sending him back. You therefore receive him, that is, my own heart, 13 whom I wished to keep with me, that on your behalf he might minister to me in my chains for the gospel. 14 But without your consent I wanted to do nothing, that your good deed might not be by compulsion, as it were, but voluntary.
15 For perhaps he departed for a while for this purpose, that you might receive him forever, 16 no longer as a slave but more than a slave—a beloved brother, especially to me but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord.
17 If then you count me as a partner, receive him as you would me. 18 But if he has wronged you or owes anything, put that on my account. 19 I, Paul, am writing with my own hand. I will repay—not to mention to you that you owe me even your own self besides. 20 Yes, brother, let me have joy from you in the Lord; refresh my heart in the Lord.
21 Having confidence in your obedience, I write to you, knowing that you will do even more than I say. 22 But, meanwhile, also prepare a guest room for me, for I trust that through your prayers I shall be granted to you.
Onesimus is a slave who runs away from his master. That St. Paul calls him “unprofitable” would suggest that he was not that great of a slave, either. By the grace of the Lord God, this slave named Onesimus ends up in Rome and meets St. Paul, who is in chains for preaching the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. A slave of man meets a slave of Christ. Having met St. Paul, the slave of Philemon receives the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ willingly and gladly. Onesimus is converted through the Word of God, through the preaching of St. Paul. St. Paul then sends this slave back to Philemon.
This reflects our condition. We are unprofitable slaves to sin. We rebel against our Lord and Master whenever we flee from Him and His Commands by our unholy, sinful actions. But by the grace of the Lord we end up sitting at the feet of a faithful preacher of the Word of God, who proclaims into our ears the good things that our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ has done for us. Through the preaching of the Gospel we turn from our sin and cling in faith to the works and merits of our Savior Jesus Christ. We are transformed from slaves to sin into brothers of one another, and of our Master, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Prayer: Grant, we beseech Thee, Almighty God, that like as we do believe Thine Only-begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, to have ascended into the heavens; so may we also in heart and mind thither ascend, and with Him continually dwell, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, ever One God, world without end. Amen.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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