April 25    
Today's Bible Readings
     Numbers 2
     Psalm 36
     Ecclesiastes 12
     Philemon 1
''I Appeal to you for my son Onesimus, whom I have begotten while in my chains, who once was unprofitable to you, but now is profitable to you and to me." (Philemon 1:10-11)
            The book of Philemon could more appropriately be called a ''postcard' ' than a letter. In this brief epistle of only 25 verses, Paul is confronting the issue of genuine love and true forgiveness in a very practical way. Does Christian brotherly love really work even in situations of extraordinary tension and difficulty? What about the case of a prominent slave owner and one of his runaway slaves who has perhaps cheated, stolen, and left a trail of anger and hurt. Paul has no doubt that his strange request will work in the Christian community. He is writing on behalf of Onesimus, a deserter, thief and formerly worthless slave, but now Philemon's brother in Christ. It seems that Paul may have won this man to Christ when they were both prisoners and in chains. With much tact and tenderness, Paul asks Philemon to receive his former slave back with the same gentleness with which he would receive Paul himself.
            Paul promises to make good any debt that Onesimus owes. Since he knows Philemon so well, Paul is confident that brotherly love and forgiveness will carry the day. The Greek word for forgiveness is aphiemi and carries with it a wonderful meaning. It means to dismiss. When a person truly forgives, he does his very best to dismiss this matter from his mind. The word also means to depart from the matter. Though you cannot forget, you will seek to forsake the matter.
It also means to disregard the offense of another. This means a person pushes from his mind, and departs from, and dismisses the offense.
            Forgiveness also means discharging. In Matthew 18:27, Jesus tells the story of a man who forgave a man a great debt. This means he erased the debt. Another meaning associated with forgiveness is the word discussion. This simply means you put this matter in the past and refuse to discuss it again. This is what Paul is asking Philemon to do for Onesimus. He has great confidence he will do it. I think Paul realized that it was not the nature of Philemon to forgive, but that Christ in him could do no less. The Christian community is well-known for its forgiveness because we have been forgiven most.
            Has He forgiven you? Then He will forgive others through you!
            Nepal is an impoverished nation of some 35 million souls. There has been a thrilling growth to the church in Nepal. By the year 2000, there were approximately 400,000 believers compared to only about 50,000 in 1985. Now there are more than 500,000 believers in the growing church of Nepal. The secret has been prayer, willingness to suffer for Jesus, dynamic Nepalese initiative in evangelism and church planting, and God's miracle working power. There is now a church planted in every one of the 75 districts of Nepal, and there are at least some believers in most people's groups in the country.
            The greatest need is to train leadership for these growing churches.  Our organization has been invited there to present our second RHEMA Institute, which  is 10 weeks of intensive training for these potential pastors. Pray for the development and response to this invitation, and for God's provision for the funding necessary to train pastors in Nepal.
            ''The only cure for bitterness is forgiveness. It is essential for the believer to forgive to have a right relationship with his Heavenly Father."
Dr. Robert S. McGee, Christian Psychologist