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Communion 2010

Philemon

Originally scheduled for April 18, 2010

One of the shortest books of the New Testament is Paul’s letter to Philemon. In it Paul makes his plea for a slave who has run away from Philemon. That was a serious crime with grievous consequences. But that slave, Onesimus, met Paul and became a Christian. He went from being useless to useful; it is a picture of what happens when any man receives the Lord.

Paul makes his argument in a way which parallels our Lord’s own sacrifice at the Cross. Hear his words:

Charge it to me; I will pay it back. Has the slave wronged you? I will take care of the matter, just as Christ paid the penalty for our sins. By his stripes we are healed.

You owe me your very self. Even though we, as Christians, owe our very souls to Christ, he does not make his forgiveness part of a bargain. His forgiveness is a gift.

Any favor you do will not be forced. The Christian life is not one of compulsion but of love. Christ loves you; he wants your response to imitate that love.

Prepare a guest room. Christ asks for a guest room in the heart of the believer – and tells us that he will definitely come again.

That last is important. We are told that we celebrate Communion “until he comes again.” For now, forgiveness is available because of the sacrifice of Christ. The day will come, however, when our Lord returns. This memorial will cease, as he will be with us. But then it will be too late to prepare.

So I urge you now to examine yourself. Are you prepared for his soon return? Have you forgiven? Have you been forgiven? Let a man examine himself – and so prepare a guest room for the Lord himself.

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