A & D

Biker Ministries

DOC'S BLOG

October 23, 2017

 

“RISKY CHRISTIANITY

 

Matthew 14:22-33 (NLT)

 

Remember the Lethal Weapons movies?  There is another new TV series based on them!  In the movies, there was a good, safe cop (Roger Murtaugh), played by Danny Glover, who always did everything conservatively and by the book.  He didn’t take unnecessary risks.  Then there was the character played by Mel Gibson (Martin Riggs) who was ALWAYS taking risks.  He would jump off buildings, fight anyone, and do almost anything that involved taking a risk.

 

A few years later, Mel Gibson took a huge risk of his own.  He risked his own money, his reputation and his status in Hollywood - in an attempt to make a film about the Passion of the Crucifixion of Jesus.  Many people warned him not to do it.  They said he would fail; and that no company would pick up and finance the film. 

 

Mel Gibson made the movie with his own money, and directed it himself.  People said he was crazy, but this was something that he felt God was calling him to do.  He took the risk, and God greatly blessed The Passion of the ChristDid you see the movie?  Were you impacted by it?

 

Maybe God is asking YOU to take a risk. 

 

Does it surprise you to think that there is a risk God wants you to take? 

 

Not only does He want you to take a risk, He expects you to take a risk! 

 

Actually . . . God commands it!

 

Matthew 19:26 (NLT)

Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible.

But with God everything is possible.”

 

Someone once said that it is risky for a plane to take off, but that is what planes are meant to do.  And you know what?  It’s a waste for a plane to just sit on the ground and rust! 

 

It’s risky for Christians to step out of our comfort zones and attempt the impossible for God, but that’s what we’re called to do.  We call it stepping out in faith! 

 

Maybe that’s easy for you.  Maybe you’re a risk taker by nature.  Most of us fall into the category of ‘safety seekers’ . . . and that’s OK, too.  But, God calls us, on occasion, to step out of our safe place and take a calculated risk of faith.  Just maybe, you and I should take that risk in our lives!

 

Matthew 14:22-33 (NLT)

22 Immediately after this . . .

 

Immediately after what?  After a grueling day of preaching, healing people, and feeding over 5,000!

22 Immediately after this Jesus insisted that his disciples get back into the boat and cross to the other side of the lake, while he sent the people home.  23 After sending them home, he went up into the hills by himself to pray.  Night fell while he was there alone.  24 Meanwhile, the disciples were in trouble far away from land, for a strong wind had risen, and they were fighting heavy waves.  25 About three o’clock in the morning Jesus came toward them, walking on the water.  26 When the disciples saw him walking on the water, they were terrified.  In their fear, they cried out, “It’s a ghost!”  27 But Jesus spoke to them at once.  “Don’t be afraid,” he said.  “Take courage.  I am here!”  28 Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.”  29 “Yes, come,” Jesus said.  So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus.  30 But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink.  “Save me, Lord!” he shouted.  31 Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him.  “You have so little faith,” Jesus said.  “Why did you doubt me?”  32 When they climbed back into the boat, the wind stopped.  33 Then the disciples worshiped him.  “You really are the Son of God!” they exclaimed.

 

It had already been a tough day.  Jesus and the disciples had been ministering all day, and they were exhausted.  They had just witnessed a miracle where Jesus fed 5,000 people with only 5 biscuits and 2 fish!  No doubt it was a day of emotional and spiritual highs.  As the day came to a close, Jesus sent the disciples to the other side of the lake - and He goes to pray.

 

What was supposed to be a simple trip across the water ends up taking longer than they expected.  You know, those “short trips” that seem endless - where you end up getting squirrely and irritated . . . especially if you’ve already had a long day!

 

Between 3 a.m. and 6 a.m., Jesus began to make His way to the disciples.  (Remember, they had been traveling between 9 and 12 hours on what should have been a short trip!)  The wind was blowing hard and the waves were slapping against their boat.  Their lives weren’t in danger, but they had been blown off course.  I’m sure they were frustrated, tired, and fed up.

 

25 About three o’clock in the morning Jesus came toward them, walking on the water.  26 When the disciples saw him walking on the water, they were terrified.  In their fear, they cried out, “It’s a ghost!”  

 

Fear can be a good thing; it can help keep you alive.  The disciples are afraid.  That’s wasn’t a new emotion for them . . . but here, they were terrified!

 

Then, Jesus called out to them . . .

 

27 But Jesus spoke to them at once.  “Don’t be afraid,” he said.  “Take courage.  I am here!” 

 

Have you ever noticed the number of times Jesus told the disciples not to be afraid?  How often the disciples were either scared or asleep!  This is the part of the story that I really like.  Peter asks if he can come out and walk on the water to Jesus!

 

28 Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.”  29 “Yes, come,” Jesus said.  So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus.  30 But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink.  “Save me, Lord!” he shouted.   

Pete is asking to do something that he KNOWS is impossible.  He’s been around water all his life.  And he has probably never seen a lake frozen over and people walking on it.  But, Pete wants to be close to Jesus and he asked the impossible. 

 

The scripture continues . . .

 

30 But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink.  “Save me, Lord!” he shouted.   

 

It seems that when people read this scripture they forget the request, and the steps Peter took, and all they remember is that he sank.

 

We ought to give Peter a standing ovation!  He did something that the other 11 disciples didn’t do.  Peter got out of the boat!  Peter took a risk of doing something that he had never done before . . . something that you and I know is impossible to do.  Peter does this because he wants to get to Jesus. He takes a risk, just to get close to Jesus.

 

Why do you think the other 11 disciples didn’t try to walk on water, also?  I think the two main reasons are similar to the reasons why WE fail to take steps of faith in our lives today:

 

1) They were fearful

 

The winds were blowing, the waves were crashing, they thought Jesus was a ghost, and . . . the waves were just too big!  I think the greatest fear they had was that they would fail.  They might step out and sink to the bottom.

 

Many of us might be afraid to take risks in our Christian walk, because we are afraid we might fail.  But . . . The best things in life happen only when we are willing to go out on a limb and take a risk!

 

I remember how scared I was when I first asked Donna if I could kiss her.  I had wanted to for a while, but I was afraid of being rejected.  What if she said, “NO!”, or slapped me, or . . .?

 

I leaned over and asked, “Donna, may I kiss you?”  Do you know what she said?  “Did you brush your teeth?”  I’m just kidding!  I really don’t remember what she said . . . but I did take the risk . . . and the reward was worth it!  The best things in life happen only when we are willing to go out on a limb and take a risk.

 

Now many of us are so fearful of taking risk that we never get to experience many of life’s wonders and joys.  And, there is no telling what God can do through us if we can just overcome our fears - and step out in faith - for Him!  Maybe you have a great testimony of what God has done in your life, but you’re so afraid of speaking it to others that you keep it to yourself.

 

Think of how many people are missing out on that blessing because of your fear!  We ALL grow in our faith, when we share the story of what God has done in our lives.

 

So the first reason why the other 11 disciples didn’t take the risk is that they were afraid:

1) They were fearful

Is that where you are at today?

 

The second reason why they didn’t take a risk is . . .

 

2) They preferred the certainty (safety) of the boat to the uncertainty (risk) of the water

 

The disciples were content with the safety of the boat - but look at what they were missing . . .

A chance to walk on the water with Jesus!

 

When a Christian, or a congregation, holds back and ‘stays in the boat’ - is it for the same reasons?  Is it because of fear or comfort or uncertainty?

 

When is ‘the reward’ big enough for us to want to take ‘the risk’?  When will the potential result be worth our efforts?  Will the chance to join Jesus, where He is working, be enough?

 

Someone once wrote:  “You can live on bland food to avoid an ulcer.  You can drink no tea or coffee or other stimulants, in the name of health; and go to bed early and stay away from nightlife.  You can avoid all controversial subjects and never offend anyone.  You can mind your own business and avoid involvement in other people’s problems.  You can spend money only on necessities and save all that you can.  And you can still fall and break your neck by slipping in the bathtub . . . and it will serve you right!”

 

Peter took a risk getting out of that boat, but it was a “step of faith!”  God doesn’t want us to take unnecessary risks, but steps of faith - that are based on His leading and calling us to move forward. 

 

Notice a few things Peter did here:

 

Peter sought the will of Jesus FIRST.

 

28 Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.” 

 

Peter didn’t just hop out of the boat; he sought out Jesus first, and said, “Lord, You tell me to do it.”  He did not make a rash decision; it was truly a step of faith.

 

Second, Peter wasn’t going out there alone.

 

When he said, “Jesus, tell me to come to You,” he wanted to make sure Jesus was going to be right there with him!  You know, risks are always easier to make when you have someone with you.  It helps us to know that we are not alone.

 

When our two youngest children were small, Daniel had NO fear of the water!  We had to put on him a “Swimming Unitard.”  It was bright yellow, and had a built-in inner tube around the waist.  Daniel would take off running . . . and he would jump in the deep end of the pool . . . popping up and bobbing around.  People always crack up laughing at him.  It was wild to see!

Katie, on the other hand, was pretty scared.  When she was Daniel’s age, I had to coax and coax her to go into the water . . . even when I would just carry her in my arms, and walk slowly, into the very shallow end of the pool.  One day, she finally agreed to jump off the side of the pool and into my arms - if I promised to catch her and not let her head go under water!  Katie finally took the leap!  But, she never would have done it if I had not been there to catch her.  Soon, she started to enjoy the water, too!

 

When you take a risk that you have prayed about, and you know that it’s God’s will for you, it’s such a help to know that God won’t leave you on your own.  He will be with you every step of the way!

 

The final thing I want you to see here is this:

 

Peter knew that the reward was so worth the risk

 

Peter might sink, he might drown . . . but he had the chance to walk on the water with Jesus!  Who could pass that up?  Peter knew that the rewards were great!

 

I’ve read many stories of people who left longtime careers, with good salaries, because Jesus called them to get out of their boat and walk with Him - into specific ministries.  They saw Jesus on the waters of their life and they decided to take a risk. 

 

Everyone who does so is rewarded with a closer walk with Jesus.  And the encouragement we receive helps us to take additional risks for God!

 

What is God calling you to do that is risky?  Is He asking that you risk possible embarrassment of talking to your neighbor about his or her soul?  Is He asking you to risk rejection by telling your co-worker that you are going to be faithful to God above all else, no matter what?  Is He calling you to volunteer for some form of ministry that you never even thought about before?  Whatever He is calling you to do, remember that if you want to walk on the water, you have to get out of the boat! 

 

And you may sink.  Peter did.  But Jesus picked him up . . . and boy did Pete have a story to tell his grandchildren!  It was the story of how, with the help of Jesus, he did something impossible.

 

What risk will you take . . . with jesus?

 

October 16, 2017

 

“THE WORD OF GOD”

 

Hebrews 4:12-13 (NLT)

12 For the word of God is alive and powerful.  It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow.  It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.  13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God.  Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes, and he is the one to whom we are accountable.

 

Hebrews 4:12-13 are the foundational verses upon which A&D Biker Ministries is built.  Look closely at our logo (it’s on the bottom edge of the pages of the Bible.)  These verses are on our patches, our Tri-folds, and nearly everything we produce!  WHY?  

 

This is one of those rare places in the Bible where the Scripture actually talks about the Scripture! Every now and then, you will read in the Bible it talks about itself . . . and those passages are always important to understand!

 

Whether you like to read books, or not, here are some interesting facts that I recently looked up.  I researched several different sources, to determine what have been the top 100 bestselling books in history.  Here are the Top 5 Best Selling Books of all time, and honestly, I was a little surprised at this list.

 

1. A Tale of Two Cities (1859), Charles Dickens

200 million copies sold

 

2. The Lord of the Rings (1954), J.R.R. Tolkien

    150 million copies sold

 

3. The Little Prince (1943), Antoine de Saint-Exupery

    140 million copies sold (This is a French novel.)

 

4. And Then There Were None (1939),
    Agatha Christie, 100 million copies sold (Agatha Christie is the first female writer in this list.)

 

5. Dream of the Red Chamber (1791), Cao Xueqin    
    100 million copies sold (It is the only book on the list in which its first publication was not in   

    English - it was in Chinese.)

 

Those Top 5 best-selling books of all time have sold 700 million+ copies!  BUT, do you know how many Bibles have been sold / given away to others?

 

No one does . . . because there have been too many Bibles sold / given away to count! 

 

It is estimated that between 3 and 6 billion copies of the Bible have been printed.  (And, I admit it - at least a dozen of those copies are in my library!)

 

Hands down, The Bible is the most influential, the all-time, best-selling book in ALL of human history!

 

People from every continent, every country, and almost every ethnic background know about the book called, The Bible.

 

For over 4,000 years, people have heard it preached about, have shared it with others, bought it, read it, discussed it, wrestled with it, lived it out, and died for it!

 

There is a reason why people today, in 2017, still turn to the Bible as a ‘must read’ book.

 

Those reasons are found in Hebrews 4:12-13.

 

1. THE BIBLE IS GOD’S WORD TO US

 

12 For the word of God is alive and powerful.  It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. 

 

The Word of God (the Bible) exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.

 

Skeptics say that the Bible was made up . . .

 

Cynics say it’s a book of fairy tales and myths . . .

 

But the evidence says something different!

 

Countless witnesses throughout history confirm the reliability of God’s word.

 

And archaeological finds confirm what is recorded in God’s Word!

 

2 Timothy 3:16 (NLT)

All Scripture is inspired by God (God-breathed) and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives.  It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.

 

We believe that the Scripture comes from God’s mouth.  It is his words to our ears . . . and, it is God’s story.

 

It’s the story of how God chose a nation, to bring forth a Savior for the world, so that ALL people who trust in the Savior could have eternal life.

 

In the Word of God (the Bible) we found advice, wisdom, and teaching about morality and ethics.

 

In the Word of God (the Bible) there are practical guidelines for family, finances, even government.  In the Word of God (the Bible) there is teaching on praying, and serving, and witnessing.

 

And throughout the Bible there is a there a theme which has been carefully woven into each page, written by authors over thousands of years . . . there is redemption through God’s Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ.

 

This book, the Bible, is the message of salvation!

 

1. The Bible is God’s Word (message) to us.

                                   

2. THE WORD OF GOD IS ALIVE

 

12 For the word of God is alive and powerful.  It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow.  It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. 

 

Only people have really spent time with the Word of God can understand what this statement means.

 

The Bible is not just a book containing some good advice. 

 

The Bible is not just a book containing heartwarming stories.

 

The Bible is not just an interesting literary novelty, among many other philosophical books, that we should ponder.

 

The Word of God is ALIVE . . . and a living thing interacts with its environment.  The purpose of all living things is to produce more life.  And that is exactly what the Bible does for us - it points all people to eternal life.

 

The living (ALIVE) Word of God speaks about the deepest needs in our lives . . . and it challenges us to reconsider and revaluate and to change our lives.

 

The Word of God is relevant to our current situation, no matter what our current situation might be . . . because the Word of God is ALIVE.

                                    

Have you ever heard of The Library of Congress?  The Library of Congress is in Washington D.C. and within that building there are more than 35 million books.  There are books there on everything you could possibly imagine:  novels, poetry, science, self-help, nature, kids’ books, biographies . . . it’s reported that there is even the book, Where’s Waldo?

 

Get this:  there are over 3 million recordings, 15 million photographs, 5 million maps, and 61 million manuscripts.

 

But in The Library of Congress, there is only one single book that can accurately be called ALIVE . . . and that is, The Word of God (the Bible)!

 

1. The Bible is God’s Word (message) to us.

                                   

2. THE WORD OF GOD IS ALIVE

3. THE WORD OF GOD IS POWERFUL

 

12 For the word of God is alive and powerful.  It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow.  It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. 

 

It is very important that we really understand this, because the Word of God has power to help change and shape our lives!

 

Understand This:  The Bible is NOT a part of the Holy Trinity.  There are only three members to the Trinity, not four (and I don’t see any vacancies in the Trinity coming open soon!).

 

So, even though the bible is considered holy, we do not worship the Scripture!

 

And, we don’t consider Scripture / the Bible / the Word of God apart from the God who inspired it . . . because God is ultimately the source of real power!

 

The Bible points people to God.

 

I remember when I was a kid (about 100 years ago) my parents took us on vacation to somewhere out west.  One night, we stayed in a cheap motel.  In our motel room, they had a “Magic Fingers Bed.”  Do you know what I’m talking about?

 

There was a little sign on the table beside the bed, and a metal box that said, “Insert .25 cents.” 

 

I laid down on that bed, and wasn’t too impressed.  I asked my dad if I could have a quarter to drop in the slot, to experience ‘the magic’ of the Magic Fingers Bed.  Dad smiled and gave me a quarter.

 

I dropped the quarter in, and the bed began its magic - it magically began to vibrate, jiggling and shaking my little body!  I discovered in that moment that the Magic Fingers Bed was not magical . . . without that quarter.  The quarter brought it to life!

 

It’s a lot like that with Scripture.  Without God, the Bible is just a book.  God is the power that makes the Scripture (the Word of God) come alive!

 

We are saved today, because we experienced the power of God’s Word.  We heard a message from God’s Word and it spoke to our spirit.  It made a powerful and radical change in our behavior, when we were confronted with a verse or a passage.

 

When we open the Word of God, we CAN experience change . . . of heart and attitude . . .

 

We can have a breakthrough in our marriage, when we finally yield ourselves to God’s word . . .

 

We can have a breakthrough in our addictions and habits, when the word of God speaks into our heart!

 

Have YOU experienced the Living and Powerful message of Christ’s forgiveness in the pages of God’s Word?  Remember, there are people all around us who make it through each day by clinging to the living power of God’s promises in his Word!

 

Lord willing, in 2 weeks, we will continue this study on The Word of God.

 

 

October 9, 2017

 

SHARE YOUR STORY!

 

Have you ever witnessed an automobile accident, in real time, as it happened?  I have.  And because I actually saw what happened, I was interviewed by a police officer afterward . . . because I was “a witness to what actually happened.”  I’ll admit that at first I was a bit intimidated in talking to the police officer.  But I quickly learned that what the officer needed, was for me to simply state the facts.  He did not need me to embellish my testimony, or try to make it more entertaining or more interesting.  I simply needed to clearly and boldly tell the officer what I had seen and experienced.

 

It a lot the same with our testimony, our witness, about us becoming a Christian!  We need to boldly share with others the facts of what we have personally experienced!

 

Psalm 40:9-10 (TLB)

I have told everyone the good news that you forgive people’s sins.  I have not been timid about it, as you well know, O Lord.  10 I have not kept this good news hidden in my heart, but have proclaimed your loving-kindness and truth to all the congregation.

 

So, what about you?  Are you timid or restrained in sharing your testimony?  Do you keep this good news hidden in your heart?  If you have accepted Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, and have received the gift of having all of your sins forgiven, then YOU have a salvation story!  YOU have a testimony!  YOU ARE A WITNESS!!

 

Every Christian has a testimony.  Some are dramatic and may include huge changes in lifestyle, habits, and actions.  Others may be the simple story of growing up in a Christian home and hearing the Gospel story of Jesus / watching the Christian lived out from the time one was a baby.  Whatever one’s personal history may be, every Christian should be able to tell about God’s work in their heart that helped to bring about understanding AND personally accepting Jesus as my personal Savior.

 

Do you ever question why you’re on the road in life that you’re on?  Because God so wants to transform you, He allowed your life to follow the road it did before you became a believer - in order that you would recognize His work at some point along the way.  Now, seeing and understanding that, you are responsible to tell others what He has done!  That is your Christian witness!  Maybe you’ve been a Christian for only an hour, or a day, or for many years.  What is God doing in your life right now?  That is your Christian testimony!  You are an eyewitness to the works of Jesus Christ in your life.  Your life in Christ is your Christian story!

 

Let’s be honest.  Anyone who is a Christian has or will face pain, loss, trials and all kinds of unpleasant junk in this life!  Yet, the Bible tells us:

 

James 1:2-4 (TLB)

Dear brothers, is your life full of difficulties and temptations?  Then be happy, for when the way is rough, your patience has a chance to grow.  So let it grow, and don’t try to squirm out of your problems.  For when your patience is finally in full bloom, then you will be ready for anything, strong in character, full and complete.

We need to KNOW, and always remember, that we can overcome anything the world throw at us . . . through Jesus Christ and our testimony! (see Revelation 12:10-11) 

 

You cannot overcome anything without your testimony!  Do you realize that God has a purpose in everything that you face in life?  You have a testimony.  Are you ready to testify / to be a witness for the presence of God in your life?

 

Don’t ever underestimate the power of your testimony.  Don’t ever shy away from telling the story of God’s grace in your life.  Don’t ever get weary of hearing of God’s work in the lives of other believers.  You will be amazed at how many similar life experiences we share with other Christians!  But how can we know, if we keep our experiences to ourselves?  Share your story!

 

You have a testimony.  Perhaps your testimony is of God’s love, God’s forgiveness, God’s deliverance from some addiction, or God protecting and preserving your life.  Whatever you’ve been through, good or bad or ugly, you have a testimony.  SHARE YOUR STORY!

 

Sharing your witness, your testimony, your story of Jesus spiritually transforming your life - will make you spiritually stronger in your faith AND you will encourage others along the way in their spiritual journey.

 

SHARE YOUR STORY!

 

 

October 2, 2017

 

FORGIVENESS

A Sermon Series on Philemon

           

“The Motivation Of One Who Forgives”

 

 

During the month of September, we’ve done a short sermon series on the letter of Paul to Philemon.  This single chapter (25 verses) letter, is all about Forgiveness & Reconciliation.  Today, we will conclude this sermon series.

 

Philemon was a rich, godly Christian who lived in the city of Colossae.  He had a slave named Onesimus.  A conflict arose between them (we don’t know the exact nature of it), and Onesimus ran away from Philemon.  He may have stolen money from Philemon in the process.  Onesimus went to Rome.  While in Rome, he met Paul (who was in prison).  Paul shared the gospel with Onesimus, and he became a Christian. 

 

Onesimus served Paul very well, but Paul knew that Onesimus must return to Philemon.  So, Paul wrote a personal letter to Philemon (the New Testament book of Philemon), asking him to forgive Onesimus and to be reconciled to him.

 

About Slavery - Slavery was common in the ancient world.  While slavery meant that a person was property of another person, it was NOT like slavery in this country was (more than 150 years ago).  Slavery in this country was based on ethnicity. 

 

In ancient times, people became slaves because they were war captives, born into slavery, or owed someone a great debt.  By the time of the New Testament, slaves were often better off than free men.  Slaves were guaranteed meals, clothing, and shelter.  Slaves could become doctors, musicians, teachers, artists, etc.  Also, slaves could purchase their own freedom.

 

Biblical Christianity planted the seeds for the elimination of slavery, by teaching a message not of institutional change but of changed hearts.  Paul’s letter to Philemon does not request him to free Onesimus from slavery . . . but to treat him as a brother in Christ!  By doing this, Paul was effectively crushing the abuses of slavery. 

 

One scholar wrote, “The principles of the gospel not only curtailed [slavery’s] abuses, but destroyed the thing itself; for it could not exist without its abuses.  To destroy its abuses was to destroy it.”

 

Eventually, slavery was abolished in many places around the world.

 

In our study of Philemon, we’ve seen the Character and the Actions of one who forgives.  Today, let’s look at “The Motivation Of One Who Forgives.”

 

One again, let’s read the entire letter of Paul to Philemon.  Our text for today is verses 19-25.

 

 

Philemon (NLT)

This letter is from Paul, a prisoner for preaching the Good News about Christ Jesus, and from our brother Timothy.  I am writing to Philemon, our beloved co-worker, and to our sister Apphia, and to our fellow soldier Archippus, and to the church that meets in your house.  May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace.  I always thank my God when I pray for you, Philemon, because I keep hearing about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all of God’s people.  And I am praying that you will put into action the generosity that comes from your faith as you understand and experience all the good things we have in Christ.  Your love has given me much joy and comfort, my brother, for your kindness has often refreshed the hearts of God’s people.  That is why I am boldly asking a favor of you.  I could demand it in the name of Christ because it is the right thing for you to do.  But because of our love, I prefer simply to ask you.  Consider this as a request from me - Paul, an old man and now also a prisoner for the sake of Christ Jesus.  10 I appeal to you to show kindness to my child, Onesimus.  I became his father in the faith while here in prison.  11 Onesimus hasn’t been of much use to you in the past, but now he is very useful to both of us.  12 I am sending him back to you, and with him comes my own heart.  13 I wanted to keep him here with me while I am in these chains for preaching the Good News, and he would have helped me on your behalf.  14 But I didn’t want to do anything without your consent.  I wanted you to help because you were willing, not because you were forced.  15 It seems you lost Onesimus for a little while so that you could have him back forever.  16 He is no longer like a slave to you.  He is more than a slave, for he is a beloved brother, especially to me.  Now he will mean much more to you, both as a man and as a brother in the Lord.  17 So if you consider me your partner, welcome him as you would welcome me.  18 If he has wronged you in any way or owes you anything, charge it to me.  19 I, PAUL, WRITE THIS WITH MY OWN HAND:  I WILL REPAY IT. AND I WON’T MENTION THAT YOU OWE ME YOUR VERY SOUL!  20 Yes, my brother, please do me this favor for the Lord’s sake.  Give me this encouragement in Christ.  21 I am confident as I write this letter that you will do what I ask and even more!  22 One more thing - please prepare a guest room for me, for I am hoping that God will answer your prayers and let me return to you soon.  23 Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, sends you his greetings.  24 So do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, and Luke, my co-workers.  25 May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.

 

William Blake once said, “The glory of Christianity is to conquer by forgiveness.”  We who are Christians have been conquered by the forgiveness of God.  When we come to God in faith and in repentance for our sin, He graciously and mercifully grants us His forgiveness - and that’s a glorious thing!

 

When we sin against another person and go to him in humility and repentance, and receive his forgiveness, it too is a glorious thing.

 

This is the beauty and glory of Christianity:  forgiveness conquers sin.

 

But, one might ask, “What the motivation is for one who forgives?”  The Apostle Paul addressed this very thing, he asked Philemon to forgive Onesimus.

 

Today, let’s look at 6 points of motivation for a Christian who forgives.

 

1. The Offer of Restitution (verse 19)

The first motivation, of one who forgives, is the offer of restitution.

 

The slave, Onesimus, had run away from his master Philemon.  Philemon suffered the loss of Onesimus’ labor, and may have had to purchase another slave to replace Onesimus.

 

Also, it’s possible Onesimus had stolen money from Philemon. 

 

So, at this point in the letter, the Apostle Paul took the pen from Timothy (who was writing the letter as Paul dictated it), and Paul wrote verse 19 himself:

 

19 I, PAUL, WRITE THIS WITH MY OWN HAND:  I WILL REPAY IT.  AND I WON’T MENTION THAT YOU OWE ME YOUR VERY SOUL! 

 

Last week, I mentioned that the Bible teaches that restitution for lost possessions is entirely warranted (Numbers 5:6-7).  Of course, the person who suffered the loss may graciously cancel the debt, but he is not obligated to do so.  THAT is why Paul offered to make restitution for Onesimus’ debt!  Paul did not want the lack of restitution to hinder forgiveness and reconciliation, and that was the reason for his offer of restitution.

 

The first motivation, of one who forgives, is:  the offer of restitution.

 

The second motivation, of one who forgives, is:

2. The Opportunity of Refreshment (verse 20)

 

In verse 7, Paul said to Philemon:

 

Your love has given me much joy and comfort, my brother, for your kindness has often refreshed the hearts of God’s people. 

Apparently, the way in Philemon treated fellow Christians was wonderfully refreshing.  So now, in verse 20, Paul said to Philemon:

 

20 Yes, my brother, please do me this favor for the Lord’s sake.  Give me this encouragement in Christ. 

 

Paul wanted Philemon to ‘refresh his own heart’ . . . by forgiving Onesimus!

 

Have you experienced how wonderfully refreshing it is to be forgiven of your sins, not only by God, but also by those against whom you have sinned?  IT IS TRULY AMAZING!

 

The first motivation, of one who forgives, is:  the offer of restitution.

 

The second motivation, of one who forgives, is:  the opportunity of refreshment.

 

The third motivation, of one who forgives, is:

3. The Confidence of Response (verse 21)

 

Paul was very confident of Philemon’s response to his request to forgive Onesimus.  So, he wrote in verse 21:

21 I am confident as I write this letter that you will do what I ask and even more! 

Paul’s confidence in Philemon’s response of obedience was a motivation to Philemon to do what God required of him: forgive Onesimus and be reconciled to him.

 

Some commentators believe that Paul’s statement in this verse was a call for Philemon to free Onesimus from slavery.  Maybe, but it’s more likely that he was urging Philemon to welcome Onesimus with open arms, as a brother in Christ.  Regardless, Philemon was motivated to forgive Onesimus - because he wanted to be obedient, and he knew that Paul was confident of his response.

 

The first motivation, of one who forgives, is:  the offer of restitution.

 

The second motivation, of one who forgives, is: the opportunity of refreshment.

 

The third motivation, of one who forgives, is:  the confidence of response.

 

The fourth motivation, of one who forgives, is:

4. The Anticipation of Inspection (verse 22)

 

The fourth motivation, of one who forgives, is the anticipation of inspection.

 

There’s a saying that goes like this: “People don’t always do what you expect, but they are far more likely to do what you inspect.”

 

It almost seems that Paul had this in mind when he wrote to Philemon verse 22:

 

22 One more thing - please prepare a guest room for me, for I am hoping that God will answer your prayers and let me return to you soon. 

 

Paul believed that he would soon be released from prison, and then he would visit the Colossian church which was meeting in Philemon’s home.

 

That meant that Paul would be able to see firsthand how Philemon received Onesimus.  Would Paul find that Onesimus was forgiven or not forgiven?  It was this ‘anticipation of inspection’ by Paul - that motivated Philemon to forgive Onesimus.

 

The first motivation, of one who forgives, is:  the offer of restitution.

 

The second motivation, of one who forgives, is:  the opportunity of refreshment.

 

The third motivation, of one who forgives, is:  the confidence of response.

 

The fourth motivation, of one who forgives, is:  the anticipation of inspection.

 

The fifth motivation, of one who forgives, is:
5. The Maintenance of Fellowship (verses 23-24)

 

Paul closed off his letter to Philemon with some final greetings.  He said in verses 23-24:

23 Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, sends you his greetings.  24 So do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, and Luke, my co-workers. 

 

Apparently, Philemon knew each of these men.  By mentioning them to Philemon, Paul wanted him to recognize that the Christian life is not lived in isolation from other believers . . . it is lived in fellowship with other believers!  These 5 men knew that Paul was asking Philemon to forgive Onesimus and to be reconciled to him.  Failure to forgive would mean broken fellowship with other believers, including these men.

 

So, a motivation for Philemon to forgive Onesimus was To Maintain Fellowship With Fellow Believers.

 

The first motivation, of one who forgives, is:  the offer of restitution.

 

The second motivation, of one who forgives, is:  the opportunity of refreshment.

 

The third motivation, of one who forgives, is:  the confidence of response.

 

The fourth motivation, of one who forgives, is:  the anticipation of inspection.

 

The fifth motivation, of one who forgives, is:  the maintenance of fellowship.

 

The sixth motivation, of one who forgives, is

6. The Prerequisite of Grace (verse25)

 

By the time Philemon had read to this point in his letter from the Paul, he had been reminded of the character of one forgives, the actions of one who forgives, and the motivation of one who forgives. 

 

Where in the world would anyone find the strength to do all of that?  Paul said, in verse 25:

 

25 May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.

 

Paul’s closing line is really a prayer that reminded Philemon that he could do nothing in the Christian life - apart from the enabling grace of the Lord Jesus Christ!

 

WE do nothing in our Christian lives, in our own strength.  It is only by God’s grace that we are enabled to forgive anyone from the heart.  That is why we all need God’s enabling grace, on a daily basis, to do what he has called us to do and to be!

 

The first motivation, of one who forgives, is:  the offer of restitution.

 

The second motivation, of one who forgives, is:  the opportunity of refreshment.

 

The third motivation, of one who forgives, is:  the confidence of response.

 

The fourth motivation, of one who forgives, is:  the anticipation of inspection.

 

The fifth motivation, of one who forgives, is:  the maintenance of fellowship.

 

And the sixth motivation, of one who forgives, is:  the prerequisite of grace.

 

We, too, should ask God to help us to forgive others and to be reconciled with them!

 

So, did Philemon forgive Onesimus?

 

It’s very likely, for two reasons:

 

First, Paul eventually did get out of prison and most likely visited Philemon and the Colossian church.  If Paul had discovered that Philemon had NOT forgiven Onesimus, he would undoubtedly have corrected Philemon, and that would be recorded in Scripture. 

 

The second reason that Philemon likely did forgive Onesimus, is really awesome.  Many decades after Paul wrote to Philemon, there was a man named Onesimus who became bishop of the Ephesian church.  Many believe that this Onesimus was the same Onesimus Paul asked Philemon to forgive! 

 

We know about Bishop Onesimus from Ignatius, who, on his way to Rome to be martyred, wrote to the church in Ephesus:  “In God’s name, therefore, I received your large congregation in the person of Onesimus, your bishop in this world, a man whose love is beyond words.  My prayer is that you should love him in the Spirit of Jesus Christ and all be like him. Blessed is he who let you have such a bishop.”

 

The Gospel not only empowers one to forgive, it also transforms the one who’s forgiven.  Even today!

 

At 7:55 a.m., on Sunday, December 7, 1941, the Japanese attacked the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

 

In less than two hours, 2,403 American soldiers, sailors, and civilians were killed.  Another 1,178 were wounded.  Other losses included 188 planes, and much of the United States Pacific Fleet was either damaged or destroyed.

 

The raid was led by a thirty-nine-year-old Japanese Navy pilot named Mitsuo Fuchida, whose idol was Adolf Hitler.  Although his plane was hit several times by ground fire, he survived the raid.  The attack on Pearl Harbor led to the United States’ entry into World War II, and ultimately to the devastation of the Japanese homeland by American bombs - both conventional and atomic.

 

After the war, Fuchida was haunted by memories of all the death he had witnessed.  In an attempt to find solace, he took up farming near Osaka. 

 

His thoughts turned more and more to the problem of peace, and he decided to write a book on the subject.  In his book, which he intended to call No More Pearl Harbors, he urged the world to ‘pursue peace.’  However, Fuchida struggled to find a principle upon which peace could be based.

His story is picked up by Donald A. Rosenberger, an American Navy man, who survived the Pearl Harbor attack.  Rosenberger wrote:

 

[Fuchida] heard two stories about prisoners of war that filled him with excitement. They seemed to illustrate the principle for which he was searching.  The first report came from a friend - a lieutenant who had been captured by the Americans and incarcerated in a prisoner of war camp in America.  Fuchida saw his name in a newspaper, in a list of POWs who were returning to Japan, and he determined to visit him.  When they met, they spoke of many things.

 

Then Fuchida asked the big question that on his mind:  ‘How did they treat you in the POW camp?’

 

His friend said they were treated fairly well, although they suffered much mentally and spiritually.

Then he told Fuchida a story which, he said, had made a great impression upon him and upon every prisoner in the camp.

 

‘Something happened at the camp where I was interred,’ he said, ‘which has made it possible for us who were in that camp to forego all our resentment and hatred and to return with a forgiving spirit and a feeling of lightheartedness instead.’

 

There was a young American girl, named Margaret (Peggy) Covell, whom they judged to be about twenty, that came to the camp on a regular basis doing all she could for the prisoners.  She brought things to them they might enjoy, like magazines & newspapers. She looked after their sick, and she was constantly looking to help them in every way.

 

They received a great shock, however, when they asked her why she was so concerned to help them.  She answered, ‘Because my parents were killed by the Japanese Army!’

 

Such a statement might shock a person from any culture, but it was incomprehensible for the Japanese.  In their society, NO offense could be greater than the murder of one’s parents.

 

Peggy tried to explain her motives.  She said her parents had been missionaries in the Philippines. 

When the Japanese invaded the islands, her parents escaped to the mountains in North Luzon for safety.  In due time, however, they were discovered.  The Japanese charged them with being spies and told them they were to be put to death.  They earnestly denied that they were spies, but the Japanese would not be convinced.  They were executed.

 

Peggy didn’t hear about her parents’ fate until the end of the war.  When the report of their death reached her, her first reaction was intense anger and bitter hatred.  She was furious with grief and indignation.  Thoughts of her parents’ last hours of life filled her with great sorrow.  She envisioned them trapped, wholly at the mercy of their captors, with no way out.

 

She saw the merciless brutality of the soldiers.  She saw them facing the Japanese executioners and falling lifeless to

Daily Bible Verse 10/23/2017
Commit yourself to instruction; attune your ears to hear words of knowledge. Proverbs 23:12 NLT