Philemon 1:1-25 (NRSV)

1 Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother, a To Philemon our dear friend and co-worker,2 to Apphia our sister, b to Archippus our fellow soldier, and to the church in your house3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 4 When I remember you c in my prayers, I always thank my God 5 because I hear of your love for all the saints and your faith toward the Lord Jesus. 6 I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective when you perceive all the good that we d may do for Christ. 7 I have indeed received much joy and encouragement from your love, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you, my brother. 8 For this reason, though I am bold enough in Christ to command you to do your duty, 9 yet I would rather appeal to you on the basis of love—and I, Paul, do this as an old man, and now also as a prisoner of Christ Jesus. e 10 I am appealing to you for my child, Onesimus, whose father I have become during my imprisonment. 11 Formerly he was useless to you, but now he is indeed useful f both to you and to me. 12 I am sending him, that is, my own heart, back to you. 13 I wanted to keep him with me, so that he might be of service to me in your place during my imprisonment for the gospel; 14 but I preferred to do nothing without your consent, in order that your good deed might be voluntary and not something forced. 15 Perhaps this is the reason he was separated from you for a while, so that you might have him back forever, 16 no longer as a slave but more than a slave, a beloved brother—especially to me but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord. 17 So if you consider me your partner, welcome him as you would welcome me. 18 If he has wronged you in any way, or owes you anything, charge that to my account. 19 I, Paul, am writing this with my own hand: I will repay it. I say nothing about your owing me even your own self. 20 Yes, brother, let me have this benefit from you in the Lord! Refresh my heart in Christ. 21 Confident of your obedience, I am writing to you, knowing that you will do even more than I say. 22 One thing more—prepare a guest room for me, for I am hoping through your prayers to be restored to you. 23 Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, sends greetings to you, g 24 and so do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, and Luke, my fellow workers. 25 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. h

Philemon V.17(NRSV)

17 So if you consider me your partner, welcome him as you would welcome me.                            

DEVOTION -Daniel Budiantoro (Jakarta, Indonesia)

Recently, Saat Teduh (the Indonesian edition of The Upper Room) readers’ fellowship went to a prison to worship with the inmates.  I imagined the prison to be a godless place.  Bur when we arrived, we discovered something amazing – a well-organized church.  They have a good facility, talented musicians, and even gifted choirs.  They offered us a warm welcome.  They read Saat Teduh every day, and their spirituality is growing.  And even though they live behind prison walls, they have freedom in Christ.  I am excited to know that they are our partners in prayer.

In the apostle Paul’s letter to Philemon we learn that people can change.  Whether at home, in the office, or even in a prison, the place does not matter.  Just as Onesimus’s  faith  allowed him to serve others, I believe that our friends in the prisons can also serve in God’s kingdom.  As part of God’s family they join us in the chain of prayers around the globe.

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: We are all partners in prayer.

PRAYER: Dear Lord, thank you for our partners in Christ.  Teach us to be more devoted to you.  Help us to be a blessing wherever we are.  Amen.