Sermons

Summary: A sermon about how to move on one step in 1) Forgiveness 2) Faithsharing. All from the book of Philemon

Moving on with God: the next step with forgiveness and faithsharing

Philemon. Particularly v4-7

C.S. Lewis said ¡§Everyone thinks forgiveness is a lovely idea, until he has something to forgive.¡¨

Someone once said- evangelism is the most talked about and least practiced thing in our society

Tonight¡¦s sermon is looking at how we can move on with God in being active in these two areas

- and the incitement to do so comes from the book of Philemon

- READ

FORGIVENESS

Here¡¦s the scenario:

- people had slaves in those days

- Philemon, a Christian¡K converted by Paul¡¦s influence

o (we think!) lives in Collossae (near Laodicea) has a slave called Onesimus.

o Suitable name, as it means useful!

- Onesimus runs away. Probably stealing some money (v19) from Philemon.

o Runs to Rome and either

„X Joins the underground movement of slaves OR

„X Gets caught, and thrown in prison

o Either way, Onesimus meets Paul and becomes a Christian

And here¡¦s the whole issue, now. Philemon is a leader of a house-church¡K a respected man

- but will he ACT on his faith

o forgive Onesimus

o take him back?

Forgiveness is easy, when it¡¦s theoretical

- but it¡¦s USELESS when it¡¦s ONLY theoretical

o (as are ALL other aspects of the Xian faith)

I was SO impressed by last Sun pm! Touched! I thought

- THIS is where it counts!

- THIS is where it HAPPENS. Where the ¡¥miracles¡¦ (if you like!) happen

- when people take God at His word and act

- when they see the challenges in scripture that OUR freedom, forgiveness, fullness so often depends on us stepping out and obeying God in forgiveness, first

- as Will said the Lord said to him ¡¥YOU are free¡¦

It was five days before Christmas when a stranger approached ten-year-old Christopher Carrier, claiming to be a friend of his father. "I want to buy him a gift, and I need your help," said the stranger. Eager to do something good for his dad, Chris climbed aboard a motor home parked up the street.

The driver took Chris to a remote field, claiming to be lost, and asked Chris to look at a map. Suddenly Chris felt a sharp pain in his back. The stranger had stabbed him with an ice pick. The man drove the wounded boy down a dirt road, shot him in the left temple, and left him for dead in the alligator-infested Florida Everglades.

Chris lay lifeless for six days until a driver found him. Chris miraculously survived his injuries, though he was blind in his left eye. Because he was unable to identify his attacker, police could not make an arrest. For a long time young Chris remained frightened, despite police protection. Finally at an invitation given after a church hayride, Chris trusted Jesus Christ as his Saviour. He recalls, "I was overwhelmed with emotion¡Kbecause I knew I had never really accepted and personally met the Saviour." This turning point in Chris¡¦s life came three years after the attack. At age 15, Chris shared his story for the first time. He eventually decided to pursue full-time ministry, helping others find the peace he had discovered in Christ.

In 1996 a detective told Chris over the phone that a man had confessed to the crime that had cost him his left eye. The man¡¦s name was David McAllister. Chris made plans to visit the feeble and now blind man, living in a nursing home. The strong young man Chris remembered was now a broken, humbled 77-year-old.

Chris learned from the detective some of the background of what had happened years ago. McAllister had been hired by Chris¡¦s father to work as a nurse for an ailing uncle. Chris¡¦s dad had caught McAllister drinking on the job and had fired him. The senseless attack on Chris had been motivated by revenge.

As Chris now talked to the old man, at first McAllister denied knowing anything about the kidnapping. As Chris revealed more about himself, the old man softened and eventually apologized. Chris said, ¡§I told him, ¡¥What you meant for evil, God has turned into a wonderful blessing.¡¦¡¨ Chris told his attacker how God had allowed his wounds to become open doors to share the good news of Christ.

Chris went home and told his wife and kids about meeting the man who had tried to kill him. The entire family began almost daily visits to McAllister¡¦s nursing home. During one Sunday afternoon visit, Chris popped the most important question he had yet asked McAllister: "Do you want to know the Lord?" McAllister said yes. Both men basked in forgiveness as McAllister gave his heart to Christ. A few days later McAllister died¡Xpeacefully¡Xin his sleep.

Carrier says it is not a story of regret, but of redemption. ¡§I saw the Lord give that man back his life, and so much more,¡¨ Chris said. ¡§I can¡¦t wait to see him again someday¡Xin heaven.¡¨

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