Philemon 1

Vs. 17, “So if you consider me a partner, welcome him as you would welcome me.”  Philemon was one of the early leaders in the church at Colosse and they met in his home (vs. 2).  The early New Testament churches did not have their own facilities, so they would meet in their homes.  Notice how Paul respected and honored Philemon in his introduction (vs. 1-7).  This was going to be an opportunity for Philemon to forgive as he was forgiven by Christ.  While Paul could have used his authority to demand forgiveness or even not return Onesimus, he wanted to give Philemon the opportunity to have his own rights.  We see a beautiful extension of love from Paul as he offers to pay back any loss incurred upon Philemon (vs. 18-25).  Notice too that Onesimus must have surely agreed upon this and repented of his actions.  He was willing to go back and suffer any consequences.

Regarding application…Price to Pay.  Vs. 19, “I, Paul, am writing this with my own hand. I will pay it back—not to mention that you owe me your very self.”  Someone was going to have to pay for the losses of this relationship.  Paul was willing to pay for it because Philemon had suffered loss.  Onesimus was willing to take any consequences and lose his life again as a slave.  Philemon would have to incur loss if he forgave Onesimus.  Bottom line; living a Christian life of forgiveness means someone is going to pay.  Ultimately, Jesus Christ paid the price on the cross for the forgiveness of sins.  Forgiveness is not cheap.  It can cost our grief, our money, our selfishness and even reputation among others.  But brothers and sisters, let us be people willing to pay the price.  We may not always get back what we feel we deserve.  I recall lending money to a few people over the years.  Rarely did they pay me back.  That wasn’t my money in the first place.  And besides, there were plenty of times when someone graciously lent me their time and money.  Let us love with grace each other.

I Corinthians 6

Vs. 11, “And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”  Paul makes this comment after rebuking the Corinthians of suing each other in the secular courtrooms (vs. 1-11).  The Corinthians claimed to be so wise (chapter 4), but couldn’t even settle disputes within the church.  It wasn’t that the Corinthians Roman courts were bad, but it was the testimony behind it (vs. 6).  They were to stop living like people who are of this world (vs. 9-10) and be reminded that they are new creations (vs. 11).  A lasting comment, be mindful that there are some disputes and situations where we certainly can seek justice in the court of law by way of suing.  Paul was more focused on the fact that it was Christians suing Christians without seeking wisdom from the church.  In yesterday’s chapter, we read about how the Corinthian church was not dealing with a sexually immoral family in the church.  Now, Paul directs his attention to sexual immorality on a broader scope (vs. 12-20).  Remember, Corinth had a temple dedicated to the love goddess Aphrodite and prostitution was a huge business.  Paul quotes a well known saying in Corinth at the time (vs. 12) about everything being permissible.  Just because they were no longer technically under the letter of the Old Testament law, didn’t mean that they shouldn’t follow the spirit of the Law.  The Corinthians logically stated that if they were hungry they ate, likewise, if they wanted sexual desires, they satisfied those too.  Sexual immorality cannot rightly be addressed in a simple paragraph reflection.  There is something very sacred in the joining of sex that God gave to His creation (vs. 15-17).

Regarding application…We Were Bought.  Vs. 20, “you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.”  Here we are reminded of the picture of being a slave.  We were bought at a price.  Paul reminds us in his letter to the Romans (Which he later wrote while in Corinth on his 3rd missionary journey) that we were once slaves to sin, but we are now slaves to righteousness (Romans 6).  That is why we flee.  Like young Joseph who fled from Potipher’s wife (Genesis 39).  When you think about it, no one in the church proudly runs around saying they are committing fortification (sex before marriage) or adultery (cheating on your spouse).   No one generally is declaring they are steeped deep into sexual addictions.  Why, because we know it’s wrong.  It’s a foothold the enemy is quite effective in the church still today.  We were bought at a price that is more than we can imagine.  Let that be a reminder of His love and desire to sanctify us and move on towards living as new creations!  If you struggle with this, pray to the Lord and talk to people in the church that can help you.

Hosea 4

Vs. 1 “Hear the word of the LORD, you Israelites, because the LORD has a charge to bring against you who live in the land: “There is no faithfulness, no love, no acknowledgment of God in the land.”  Question: What is going on here?  The example of Hosea’s relationship with Gomer is now coming to light with Israel.  Israel is being charged by God as if they were in a court of law.  The increase of sin is bringing a breakdown of morality over the land.  Notice also how the LORD’s charge gets more specific and directed towards the supposed leaders of Isarel; the priests (vs. 4-14).  The spiritual leaders have a huge impact.  But Israel’s leaders were leading the charge towards immorality.  This was a time in Israel where there was relative peace.  King Jeroboam II was reigning and the priesthood was increasing.  However, just like in Jesus’ day, there was corruption in the sacrificial system and priests were profiting (vs. 7-11).  As the prophecies of judgment came forth by Hosea, all he saw was the continued stubborn responses of hardened hearts (vs. 16).

Regarding application…Knowing God.  Vs. 6a, “…my people are destroyed from lack of knowledge…”  There is much talk of the declining education system in America these days.  But I would contend there is a much steeper decline in the church education system.  I commend the church for we are doing a wonderful job in sharing the Gospel and bringing people to church.  But it seems we stop at the point of salvation.  John Mitchell, founder of Multnomah Bible College, coined his famous question, “Don’t you folks ever read your Bibles?”  Just like in Hosea’s time, we are in a period where we lack the knowledge of God.  We know more about Algebra, English Lit, Entertainment, sports, technology, cars, etc…than we do about the Living Word of God!  Brothers & Sisters, this should not be.  That is why I try to encourage each of you daily the importance of growing in your knowledge of God!  Question: How can you live out a genuine faith if you are not spending time knowing God?  It would be like me never spending time with my wife, but telling others I really do have one.  Open your heart and let God’s word change and renew you to a deeper walk with Him!

Hosea 3

Vs. 1 “The LORD said to me, “Go, show your love to your wife again, though she is loved by another and is an adulteress. Love her as the LORD loves the Israelites, though they turn to other gods and love the sacred raisin cakes.”  Lost in this narrative is the raw emotion that must have been going on in Hosea’s heart.  Sure, Hosea had a right to divorce and leave Gomer.  Though, Jesus mentioned divorce was permissible due to unfaithfulness only because of our own hardened hearts (Mark 10:5).  Hosea goes to find Gomer and it’s interesting because it looks like she was owned by another man.  This man might have sold her to other men for a profit.  At first, Gomer might have enjoyed this lifestyle free from a husband and her children.  However even listen to present day prostitutes and they live a very sad life of regret.  This is an amazing picture of love and grace Hosea would extend to his estranged wife.  Also, don’t forget about the imagery of the LORD’s love for His people!

Regarding application…Bought at a Price.  Vs. 2, “So I bought her for fifteen shekelsof silver and about a homer and a lethek of barley.”  Hosea bought Gomer from a life of prostitution and in many ways a life of slavery.  She was a slave to sin and the price Hosea bought her at would have been close to that of a female slave.  This of course brings a reminder that we too were bought at a price (I Cor. 6:20).  Gomer was bought and turned back to her husband with love.  We too are bought and have an opportunity to turn back to Jesus.  Paul later tell us not to live as slaves of men (I Cor. 7:23).  Since we were paid and bought with such a high price, it’s time to take our faith and put it into action!  Turn to Jesus today!