Summary: God wants you to be a good friend. That means we need to discover new friends, help distressed friends, help divided friends, and know your Divine friend.

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Philemon 1-18

Sermon by Rick Crandall - April 11, 2010

*A wise man said, "A friend is the one who comes in when the whole world has gone out." (1)

-Good friends are a gift from God. And God wants you to be a good friend.

1. That means we need to discover new friends.

*All of his life as a believer, Paul went around making new friends for Jesus Christ. We see some of them in vs. 1&2: Timothy, Philemon, Apphia and Archippus. They were close friends. Paul called them “brother,” “beloved friend,” “fellow laborer” and “fellow soldier.”

*Paul loved to make new friends for Jesus Christ. And now, even though Paul is an older man and in jail for Jesus, he is still making new friends. We see that here in vs. 9&10, where Paul said:

9. 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.

*God wants us to discover new friends for Christ, and He can help us in unexpected ways. Many people would have been so unhappy about being a prisoner, they would have missed the new opportunity to make friends, -- but not Paul. He saw God at work, even through his chains.

*Think about the way you look. Have you ever been unhappy about that? Most of us have. When Gladys Aylward was a little girl, she had 2 great sorrows: One was that all of her friends had beautiful blond hair, while her hair was coal black. The other sorrow was that her friends kept growing long after Gladys stopped at 4’ 10”.

*But then God called Gladys Aylward to be a missionary in China. And when she stood on the wharf in Shanghai, she looked around at the people and saw that every single one of them had black hair. And every one of them had stopped growing when Gladys did. Gladys looked up to God and said: "Lord God, You know what You're doing!" (2)

*God was helping her to make new friends, and He will help us too! So, discover new friends.

2. And help distressed friends.

*Onesimus was in trouble. Apparently he was a runaway slave. Maybe he had also stolen from Philemon. And we see Paul helping Onesimus in vs. 10-14:

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.

*People get into all kinds of trouble. Sometimes it’s their own fault. Many times it’s just the circumstances of life. But Jesus has a way of turning bad things into good things. -- That’s what He did on the cross. And that’s what Paul was talking about in vs. 15&16 when he said:

15. Perhaps he departed for a while for this purpose, that you might receive him forever,

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