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Daily Reading: Philemon 1

Scripture Focus: I am sending him back to you, sending my very heart. (Philemon 1.12)

Devotional Thought: Do you remember that Kenny Rogers song, The Gambler? I'm not one to bet, of course, but there is one particular line in the song that resonates with me: "You got to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em,

know when to walk away and know when to run..." In "laymen's terms" what The Gambler was saying is that you need to know when to strike aggressively and when to wait for a better time.

The Apostle Paul had grasped that concept in the First Century as he dealt with the issue of slavery. Paul found it necessary to send Onesimus, a slave, back to Philemon, a slave-holder. Both Onesimus and Philemon were Christians, owing their salvation to God's work through the ministry of Paul. So when Onesimus was saved, Paul sent him back to Philemon. Sent him back?! To a Christian slave-holder?! We don't understand that in our culture today because we think of slavery in terms of the African slave trade. Slavery in the New Testament time, however, was quite different. At any rate, Paul knew it was a battle for another day. A strategic delay was what was needed.

So, Paul worked within the culture and "inject[ed] the Christian solution into the prevailing culture. The leaven of that concept continues to permeate society for its ultimate betterment and correction." (Neilson, Beacon Bible Commentary, 700) We may not always want to wait, nor should we always wait. But, we must also be aware of when is the best time to address social issues.

Prayer: Father, thank you that it is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Help us to live in such a way that others may know the freedom that comes in serving Jesus Christ. Amen.

Psalm of the Day: 81 My soul longs for your salvation; I hope in your word. 82 My eyes long for your promise; I ask, "When will you comfort me?" 83 For I have become like a wineskin in the smoke, yet I have not forgotten your statutes. 84 How long must your servant endure? When will you judge those who persecute me? 85 The insolent have dug pitfalls for me; they do not live according to your law. 86 All your commandments are sure; they persecute me with falsehood; help me! 87 They have almost made an end of me on earth, but I have not forsaken your precepts. 88 In your steadfast love give me life, that I may keep the testimonies of your mouth. (Psalms 119:81-88)

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