QTVOTD: Heart Refreshment from the Saints…

20 Yes, brother, I want some benefit from you in the Lord. Refresh my heart in Christ.
21 Confident of your obedience, I write to you, knowing that you will do even more than I say. 22 At the same time, prepare a guest room for me, for I am hoping that through your prayers I will be graciously given to you. Philemon 1:20-22 [ESV]

Today is my final reading in Philemon! Feels like it has been so quick.

What affected me the most when I read this passage was what Philemon had to offer Paul…a refreshed heart. Paul says here that he essentially needs benefit from Philemon; and it is through the body of Christ (through Philemon) that Paul finds this refreshment. Al throughout the New Testament, we see Paul as a man who saw the face of Jesus, heard Him speak to Paul on the road to Damascus, and he (Paul) had a very clear mission given from Jesus to preach the gospel and win over the Gentiles to the Kingdom of God. But here we see Paul with needs, and those needs fulfilled through Philemon.

Finally, Paul’s last words here contain a confident declaration that Philemon will come through and take back Onesimus and do even more than what Paul has asked for. Additionally, we see Paul asking Philemon to prepare a room for him (Paul) in hopes that through prayer, Paul will be released from prison to come see him. I love this continued surrender to the Lord and dedication to fulfilling His will and purposes. Paul is essentially saying, “God willing, I plan to come to you and stay.”


I need to look to the church body around me for ‘refreshment of the heart’ in Jesus but through the saints. I need to be humble to understand that a lot of the goodness God has for me here on earth comes from those Christians around me. I also need to have the mindset that “God willing” this or that can happen. This harkens back to my reading in James where he had similar teaching.

QTVOTD: Christ Likeness…

Philemon 1:17-19 [ESV]
So if you consider me your partner, receive him (Onesimus) as you would receive me. If he has wronged you at all, or owes you anything, charge that to my account. I, Paul, write this with my own hand: I will repay it—to say nothing of your owing me even your own self.

This is such a beautiful picture of Christ to us. Paul is modeling what it looks like to successfully apply the answer to “What would Jesus do?” I see Jesus using similar language to God the Father for me – Father, receive Ben into your Kingdom. Accept him as you would accept Me. Any sin Ben has committed against you, please charge that to Me. I bare the stripes, the marks of the nails, the hole in My side, and the experience of being separated in death from You.


Paul says in his letter to the Ephesians to imitate God and he modeled this for us. I must apply this to my life as a husband, father, son, friend, and co-worker. It is not enough to read God’s word; I must also apply it for it to actually work in me.

Ephesians 5:1 [AMP]
THEREFORE BE imitators of God [copy Him and follow His example], as well-beloved children [imitate their father].

James 1:22-23 [AMP]
But be doers of the Word [obey the message], and not merely listeners to it, betraying yourselves [into deception by reasoning contrary to the Truth].
For if anyone only listens to the Word without obeying it and being a doer of it, he is like a man who looks carefully at his [own] natural face in a mirror;

QTVOTD: Seeing Changed Hearts is Powerful…

For this perhaps is why he was parted from you for a while, that you might have him back forever, no longer as a bondservant but more than a bondservant, as a beloved brother—especially to me, but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord. Philemon 1:15-16 [ESV]

I really like the thought Paul has here in 15 & 16. Essentially, he is saying that maybe Onesimus needed to run away that he might find Christ for himself…and in this then return to Philemon forever as a brother in Christ rather than his bondservant. Paul knows this because Onesimus has been that (a brother) to him.

When Paul says “both in the flesh and the Lord” he means in a practical and helpful way as well as a spiritual way. Practical and helpful now because before he ran away, he had stolen from Philemon and betrayed his trust. Now as a ‘New Man’ Onesimus will be so much more to Philemon than he was. On top of that Onesimus will be a spiritual member of the body providing in those ways as well; being used by God for the furthering of Philemon’s church.


This may seem simplistic but when it is applied is very powerful. Understanding the potential impact of a born-again human being is not something to be underestimated. When the Lord grabs ahold of a wayward heart, the profound transformation we often see is staggering; it grows our faith!

QTVOTD: An Honorable Man…

Philemon 1:13-14 [ESV]
I would have been glad to keep him with me, in order that he might serve me on your behalf during my imprisonment for the gospel, but I preferred to do nothing without your consent in order that your goodness might not be by compulsion but of your own accord.

I am tiptoeing through this book; trying to think through and put myself in the place of all three primaries – Paul, Philemon, and Onesimus. I know Paul is just a man, although a man who was stopped and talked to by Jesus on the road to Damascus. However, in this book I see so much more of his humanity. He has grown so close to Onesimus but knows he must provide the way back to Philemon for him. Also out of respect for Philemon even though Onesimus has been such a companion for Paul while he has been imprisoned, Paul does not feel it’s appropriate to keep Onesimus with him now that he has grown into a Godly man and transformed from his previous life where he stole from Philemon.


Paul’s heart is not only big here but the honor and integrity he shows in these two verses is so humbling. I have to ask myself whether I am this quick to adhere to an honorable path like Paul has done. I can’t imagine anyone would have thought ill of Paul for continuing to keep Onesimus as a faithful companion; but Paul knew that this approach was His honoring and honoring to both Onesimus and Philemon. I need to be sure that I am this kind of honorable man of God; quick to listen and follow the leading of the Holy Spirit when He tugs on my heart in this way.

QTVOTD: A Spiritual Child…

Philemon 1:10-12 [AMP]
I appeal to you for my [own spiritual] child, Onesimus [meaning profitable], whom I have begotten [in the faith] while a captive in these chains.
Once he was unprofitable to you, but now he is indeed profitable to you as well as to me.
I am sending him back to you in his own person, [and it is like sending] my very heart.

It is so tender to hear Paul’s heart for Onesimus. Paul had truly taken him in as his own. If I think about this in todays circumstances, it would be like me taking in someone (like a work contractor) that botched a kitchen remodel and had abused their access to my friend’s home by stealing from them in the process. I then would mentor and invest in this person spiritually, winning them over to the Lord and assist in building them up in their sanctification.

What Paul is doing with Philemon would be like me asking my friend to take back this contractor, trusting them again with work on their home and trusting them not to steal again. On top of that I would be asking my friend to treat that person as though they were my child; my heart. When I think about this way, it was a super tall order to appeal to Philemon to do.


I am searching my judging heart and interrogating myself on whether I would accept this appeal to re-associate with someone who had wronged my in a way like Onesimus did to Philemon. Jesus is a 100% accepter of changed hearts…I too need to have a heart that accepts reconciled children of God.

QTVOTD: Brotherly Treatment…

Today was filled with many wonderful moments…I took the ‘Littles’ a little earlier than the rest of the family to Cabella’s to do some shopping and for the kiddos to see all the taxidermy animals, which they loved! Then, Marianne and the older girls came, and we saw Santa. We did a little more shopping at Cabella’s and then headed to the Seattle Premium Outlets to do even more shopping. Then later this evening I took my mom out to dinner for her birthday which was last weekend, but I was on the East Coast on business. Finally, I came home, and Marianne was just putting the finishing touches on lighting the Christmas tree. A great day!

8 Accordingly, though I am bold enough in Christ to command you to do what is required, 9 yet for love's sake I prefer to appeal to you—I, Paul, an old man and now a prisoner also for Christ Jesus— Philemon 1:8-9 [ESV]

I know this is just a short passage today, but it really hit me how Paul is taking a loving approach to Philemon to take back Onesimus into his care. I think there are so many times were we feel ‘Justified’ in making stronghanded suggestions for our fellow believers..,and in accountability, these are sometimes warranted. But, here you see not only Paul’s love for Philemon but his respect for him as well and a desire to appeal to his godly character that Philemon’s sanctification has benefitted him. I have been sitting here thinking about the times that I have maybe been too quick to pronounce something that needs to happen versus ‘appealing’ to the biblical sensibilities of a fellow believer. If you think about it, it tears down a lot of the potential for conflict where a receiver is forced to face what Jesus has to say in the bible for a given situation rather than respond with a knee-jerk of the flesh to the perceived mandate.


Even when it comes to my own household it can be better to appeal to a fellow believer’s heart in the suggestion of a biblical way forward. Obviously, this is a harder approach with someone who is ‘of the world’ and has no interest or investment in how the Lord would have them act. Prayer goes before and I myself must be aligned with the heart of God before approaching someone about a path forward that is like the one with Paul and Philemon here.

QTVOTD: The Love and Encouragement of a Brother…

Tonight, we had a wonderful couple over for some coffee and a chat. They are an amazing Godly husband and wife who love the Lord and each other. They realize that their marriage is about what God wants to do in and through them more than anything else. They were such and encouragement to us and we so enjoyed their company and perspective. In reading through just this one verse tonight, I was immediately struck by what Philemon meant to Paul; how even Philemon was an encouragement to him because of Philemon’s obedience and service of love to those around him.

We serve at our church with this lovely couple and knowing the impact they have had on our church body; this verse rang true for me as I ponder the love, obedience, service, and faithfulness of this couple on the community of believers at Canyon Hills.

7 For I have derived great joy and comfort and encouragement from your love, because the hearts of the saints [who are your fellow Christians] have been cheered and refreshed through you, [my] brother. Philemon 1:7 [AMP]

These are the powerful relationships God has in store for us in each other as we walk through this land as foreigners. Through our citizenship in heaven, we connect with each other on a level that puts others above ourselves; seeking to serve our ultimate King.


First, I want to pour more into this budding relationship with this couple we spent time with tonight. We are close in age and have similar experiences in our families of girls. I want to find more ‘Brothers’ that can pour as much into and challenge me as I seek to come alongside and serve others.

QTVOTD: Starting Philemon…

Today I start a study of the book of Philemon. This is a letter from Paul, while he was in prison, to Philemon, Apphia (Philemon’s Wife), Archippus, and to the church who meets in Philemon’s house.

One of the primary subjects of the letter is in regard to Onesimus. Evidently Onesimus had escaped from Philemon in Colosse to Rome where he became a believer and associated with Paul. As a slave he was the legal property of Philemon. In addition, Onesimus had stolen some of Philemon’s goods. With this letter Paul sends Onesimus back to Philemon, emphasizing that Christian conduct should permeate their relationship. Paul especially pleads for forgiveness for Onesimus, asking that he be accepted as a Christian brother. The appeal is written very tactfully and is organized in such a way as to build rapport, persuade the mind, and move the emotions.

4 I give thanks to my God for you always when I mention you in my prayers,
5 Because I continue to hear of your love and of your loyal faith which you have toward the Lord Jesus and [which you show] toward all the saints (God’s consecrated people).
6 [And I pray] that the participation in and sharing of your faith may produce and promote full recognition and appreciation and understanding and precise knowledge of every good [thing] that is ours in [our identification with] Christ Jesus [and unto His glory].
 Philemon 1:4-6 [AMP]

I just love the heart of Paul in calling out his admiration and gratitude for Philemon in these first several verses. Paul does this in some of his other letters, but you get the sense that there is an enduring personal relationship between Paul and Philemon. When I think about all of the churches Paul influenced and the leadership he put in place at each one, the amount prayer had to have been staggering if he was continually praying for all of them in the way that he mentions here. That personal relationship must have meant a lot to Paul for him to thank God for Philemon each time he thought to pray for him.

These next 2 verses (5 & 6) have some interesting points. Love of Christ, Loyal Faith towards Christ -> sharing these attributes with all of the saints around him (Philemon) produce a recognition, appreciation, and knowledge of everything we good that we have in and through Christ Jesus. I like how the Amplified says “in our identification with Christ” and “unto His glory”.


There is no doubt what the focus is of Paul in this passage. Love, loyal faith, and recognition of ‘good’ is nothing if we don’t direct and appropriate them entirely in the context of Jesus and to glorify Him. Just in this opening set of statements from Paul, it helps me see that I must live every moment of my life with the context of my identity in Jesus and Jesus being the sole recipient of any glory. Paul mentions Philemon but the kudos he (Paul) gives is because Philemon is centered correctly on Jesus in recognition of good and works of love and loyal faith being birthed from a desire to please Jesus and be more like Him. I am still sitting here absorbing this…