INTRO.- I say PhI-lemon. Some say Phile-mon. What do you say? You know old Philemon, don’t you? He was a slave owner. Onesimus had run away and came back a Christian, consequently, Paul asked Philemon to receive him back and treat him kindly.
It pays to be kind, don’t you know? What you sow is what you reap.
Proverbs 11:17 “A kind man benefits himself, but a cruel man brings trouble on himself.”
Faith in the Lord makes all the difference in the world, don’t you think? Just think how miserable life would be without faith in our Creator and our Savior who have promised us eternal life?!
Faith in the Lord is what should govern and/or control our lives. It should makes us the people we are. It should make us better people than perhaps those around us. Our faith in the Lord should affect every aspect of our lives: our marriage, our family life, our work, our friends, our recreation, etc.
How has your faith affected you? How has Christ affected you and changed you? And what does your faith do for you every day?
ILL.- Have you heard or prayed this prayer? “Dear Lord, So far today, I’ve done all right. I haven’t gossiped, haven’t lost my temper, haven’t been greedy, grumpy, nasty, selfish, or over indulgent. I’m very thankful for that. But, in a few minutes, God, I’m going to get out of bed. And from then on, I’m probably going to need a lot more help.”
And God does give us help in life. That’s how faith affects us.
If our faith doesn’t have a positive affect in our lives then something is wrong. And generally, what is wrong is not our faith. The problem is that we are not letting faith rule in our lives. Self is ruling our lives.
But Christ is supposed to change us. When Christ saw the multitudes he had compassion on them and that’s the change He should bring about in us as well, that is, Christ should change us into compassionate people. From self-serving to people-serving servants!
PROP.- In our text, Paul speaks to Philemon about true faith in the Lord. What is it? What does it do?
1- True faith demonstrates the love
2- True faith shares the faith
3- True faith refreshes the saints
I. TRUE FAITH DEMONSTRATES THE LOVE
4 I always thank my God as I remember you in my prayers, 5 because I hear about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints.
Your love for all the saints. I believe that true faith in the Lord demonstrates love for all the saints, meaning all the Christians.
How do you treat your brothers and sisters in Christ? Those in your church and those in other churches?
ILL.- Some time back Kevin, Wendy, Barrett and Easton Cunningham moved from Jonesboro for Kevin’s new job in Dresden, TN. We hated to see them move. And they really didn’t want to move, but it was a financial thing, not a church thing! They didn’t leave because they didn’t like us! BECAUSE THEY DID LIKE US! I think they felt the love we had for them!
In fact, here’s a note that Wendy wrote to me following their going away party here at the church on July 4th.
“After you announced and recognized us - i wanted to speak and say more than I did, but i started to cry and couldn’t speak! We LOVE the church and our church family- we will miss everything and everyone at JCC. Thanks again! The money will come in handy for the next few weeks helping to pay for Kev’s gas to and from Dresden, TN. We love you guys too!”
Wasn’t that a nice “thank you” note? I would say that we must have done something good for those folks! I would say we demonstrated love to them, but how could we keep from it? Those cute little boys were easy to love!
Some people are just easier to love than others, but love, we must. We must demonstrate love to our brothers and sisters as best we can. Say “howdy do” and do a “howdy” deed and that will demonstrate your love.
ILL.- One of my preacher friends wrote me that he had a couple of calls to make that day. One lady he characterized as being somewhat “crazy.” Well, haven’t we all known a few people like that. Nevertheless, we call on them and demonstrate love to them as best we can.
We need to demonstrate to all the saints: in the church and outside our church. You see, I do believe there are saints and/or saved people in many other churches that preach Jesus as the Son of God and Savior of the world.
How do we treat those people? We should treat them with love.
ILL.- I attended the Southwest Church of Christ VBS one year because they had a speaker I knew and had heard before and wanted to hear him again. His name is Randy Harris of Abilene Christian University. Interesting guy and a committed bachelor. He said he does marriage counseling with one word: “DON’T!”
The first night I went to hear Randy I first went to introduce myself to the preacher, Jimmy Adcox. I said, “I guess you know you have some people from Jonesboro Christian Church?” He said, “Yes, and they are very good people.” I wanted to say, “Well, I want them back.” BUT I DIDN’T SAY THAT.
There is no doubt in my mind that the Southwest Church of Christ is full of devout Christian people, but there are some churches that wouldn’t accept us, if you know what I mean.
And that’s not right. And that’s not demonstrating love either!
ILL.- Remember when I wrote, “I HAD A VISITOR”? I had a visitor on Wed. morning, July 21st. It was Elmer Nugent, pastor of First Assembly of God in Camden, AR. He just wanted to thank me for my sermons on sermoncentral, which he said helped him at a difficult time in life when he lost his 26 year old son in a car accident.
He went on to tell me about a preacher in his town who thinks he and his church are the only ones who will be saved. We all have known some people and preachers like that. Elmer would occasionally visit with this preacher but that preacher told him he was going to hell. Elmer said, “Well, pray for me then.”
Brothers and sisters, we must demonstrate love to all who claim Christ as their savior. Some people will be easier to love than others, but we must love them no matter what. That’s what true faith in the Lord does!
II. TRUE FAITH SHARES THE FAITH
6 I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ.
Active in sharing your faith. That’s what true faith in the Lord does! We become active in sharing Christ with others. Do you? Have you? How so? Anyway you can.
ILL.- It’s like that story about preacher Dwight L. Moody. One time a man criticized him for his evangelistic methods. Moody replied, “I like my way of doing it better than your way of not doing it.” ISN’T THAT THE TRUTH?
I believe that when we are sold on Christ we will somehow try to sell Him to others!
ILL.- I’ve never been a car salesman but I know how to sell people on something I’m compassionate about. I talk about it a lot! I did that one time when I bought my first front-wheel drive car back in 1978, which was a Subaru. It was just a little 4-door, 4 speed on the floor, 4 cylinder car but it would really get the gas mileage. I consistently got 42 to 45 and several times I even beat 50 mpg, consequently, I told everybody about it because I was sold on it. And I finally sold another guy on Subaru and I wasn’t even a car salesman.
But this is true for us all. If we’re truly passionate about something, some product, and truly sold on it, we will talk about it and we may well sell somebody else on it!
What have you sold to others? A certain type of car? A brand of toothpaste or washing liquid? A style of clothing? A brand of shoes? A certain restaurant or type of food?
We folks are or can be pretty passionate about certain things in life. How about a church? And how about Christ?
I think any way we approach witnessing is better than no way. We can talk about the positive things in the church. That’s always a good thing to do and sometimes, will open the door to even more witnessing.
Anyway we can open the door to witness for Christ, we should. And if we think about it, we can always think of ways to point people to Christ no matter what they talk about.
ILL.- Preacher Roy Weece was a master of doing that kind of thing. One time a man knocked on his door in the evening. Roy opened the door and the man said, “I’m lost.” Well, what would you say to that man? After listening to the man, Roy said, “There is more than one way to be lost” and proceeded to witness to him about Christ who could save him from being lost in sin.
Another time, Roy overheard some women talking in a booth next to him in a restaurant. One told the others how she’d found a fortune-teller who could tell her all about her life and for only $5. Roy stepped up and said, “I know of a book that will tell you all about your life and it won’t cost you a thing.” And then pointed them to God’s Word.
If we have on our “thinking caps” and we are passionate enough about Christ we will watch for these opportunities to point people to Jesus and say something.
Please don’t be afraid to speak for Jesus! In fact, the more you speak for Him, the more you’ll find greater boldness in doing this. True faith in the Lord shares that faith because we know He is the way, the truth, and the life!
III. TRUE FAITH REFRESHES THE SAINTS
7 Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the saints.
ILL.- Remember Dr. Pepper, the friendly pepper-upper? Well, that’s what the ad used to say. How old is this slogan? 1950s: "The Friendly Pepper Upper."
The "Be a Pepper" series referred to fans of Dr Pepper as "Peppers", and often featured crowd dance scenes with elaborate, over-the-top choreography.
One popular ad jingle from 1977 to 1985 was:
I’m a Pepper, he’s a Pepper,
She’s a Pepper, we’re a Pepper,
Wouldn’t you like to be a Pepper, too?
Be a Pepper. Drink Dr Pepper.
I’d really like to be a Pepper in the sense of being a “pepper-upper” to people! I’d like to be a refresher to people, wouldn’t you? I’d like to be a builder-upper of people rather than a “putter-downer” of people.
I’m not sure Dr. Pepper would do the trick, but it’s a good thought.
7 Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the saints.
We all need to be “pepper-uppers” to people. That’s what true faith in the Lord does!
Romans 1:11-12 “I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong— that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.”
Colossians 4:7-8 “Tychicus will tell you all the news about me. He is a dear brother, a faithful minister and fellow servant in the Lord. I am sending him to you for the express purpose that you may know about our circumstances and that he may encourage your hearts.”
1 Thessalonians 3:2 “We sent Timothy, who is our brother and God’s fellow worker in spreading the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you in your faith.”
1 Thessalonians 5:10-12 “He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”
Do you get the idea that we need to “pepper-uppers” to one another? I to you and you to me. We need to encourage one another and refresh one another in the faith as best we can.
Be a “Pepper!”
You’ve heard people say, “Well, that’s what separates the men from the boys.” What is it that separates the men from the boys? It could be hard work. Boys tend to want to play and true men are always willing to work.
What about the people of faith? What separates the men from the boys in regard to the faith? Work is one thing. Sharing your faith. Having an active faith. But also loving the brethren.
True faith in Christ demonstrates love, shares the faith with others, and works to build up people.
Steve Shepherd, Jonesboro Christian Church, AR