Not of Necessity, but Willingly

Philemon 1:14. “But without thy mind would I do nothing; that thy benefit should not be as it were of necessity, but willingly.”

The importance of Paul’s attitude in his appeal to Philemon is important. He is not demanding or commanding. His is pleading. He understands that Philemon has the legal right to do as he pleases with his slave.

I was doing a little more research into the whole topic of slavery in Paul’s day. Rome and its influence had pretty much covered the known world. In the city of Rome itself, and its suburbs, there were upwards of 60 million slaves! One of the biggest concerns among free citizens was the very real possibility of a slave uprising. Slaves were merchandise. They were worth more if they were young and strong, less if they were feeble in some way, or if they were old. They were expendable. They could be tossed into prison for far lesser offenses than running away. If they were caught, they could be branded with a red-hot iron on the forehead with the letter “F” for fugitive. Slaves were routinely crucified for what we would see as minor offenses.

With all that in mind, Paul pleads his case for mercy toward Onesimus, but he makes it clear that he wants Philemon to choose out of love and mercy, not out of pressure to please Paul.

Jesus chose to die for us out of love and mercy, not because He had to!

Good works that are forced, and not from the heart, lose their sweetness.

Ask. . .in My Name

John 14:12-14.

Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on Me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto My Father.

And whatsoever ye shall ask in My Name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.

If ye shall ask any thing in My Name, I will do it.

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This precious promise struck me in a whole new way today, the final day before the most important Election Day America has ever faced. I’ll say no more, because this is not a political post.

The importance of prayer cannot be over-emphasized. It is through prayer that we are blessed with the power of God; prayer allows us to ask Him for anything, and He has promised that when we ask in His Name, He will do it.

The disciples heard Jesus utter these words. I’ve often wondered if they were amazed, surprised, lacked understanding; were they confused? Did they realize that He was truly leaving them, and that their access to God through Him would then be only through prayer? I’m sure they learned quickly, after He rose from the grave and then a few days later ascended back to heaven and the presence of the Father. We know they returned to that upper room and began to pray as they had never prayed before, and that the Spirit of God descended on them in a wonderful way.

Have you ever experienced a wonderful and miraculous answer to prayer? I have, and I’m telling you that there is nothing to compare to actually seeing God at work, giving you what you have begged Him to give you.

Phil. 4: 4-9 is a wonderful passage. Among other things, it teaches us that we are to pray with thanksgiving; that we are to supplicate (beg, plead, beseech). And when we pray that way, God will hear us and will answer our prayer, and we will experience the peace that passes understanding.

Learning to pray this way is a growth process. We must pray always; that is, be in an attitude of prayer that is ongoing, always in touch with the One Who has promised to do as we ask when we pray in Jesus’ Name.

Satan hates it when we pray this way. He knows he has no power against the fervent, effectual prayer of godly believers. There have been times, down through the centuries, that it seemed as if Satan was winning. He may have had some victories in battle, but the war isn’t over until God says it’s over, and Satan will be defeated finally and completely.

It will be the begging, beseeching prayers of believers that will free us, now and always, from the chains of sin with which Satan seeks to bind us.

Galatians 5:1. “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.”

Stand fast. Don’t give in to despair. We have the victory in Christ Jesus!