Monday, September 19, 2011

The Hearts Of The Saints

Each Sunday is special at North Side!  This past Sunday was no exception.  I had the privilege of meeting several new families who were excited about becoming a part of the fellowship.  They spoke of how they were led to our church and about the individuals who had encouraged them to come.  Some of these will be in the Connection Class next Sunday.  God is good!!

Over 1200 were in our worship services yesterday (over 1300 last Sunday).  Something you may not be aware of is that our 9:30 a.m. attendance is now even with our 11:00 a.m. attendance.  This even split sure makes things easier for utilization of our space.  However, the higher numbers mean we need more assistance in ushers, greeters and child care so if you are looking for a place to serve stop by the Outlet or Greeters Booth and let them know. 

I was glancing through the book of Philemon when I came across these very beautiful words of Paul as he shared his letter of recommendation for his former slave and now a special brother in the Lord, Onesimus. 

I thank my God always, making mention of you in my prayers, because I hear of your love and of the faith which you have toward the Lord Jesus and toward all the saints; and I pray that the fellowship of your faith may become effective through the knowledge of every good thing which is in you for Christ's sake. For I have come to have much joy and comfort in your love, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you, brother.  Therefore, though I have enough confidence in Christ to order you to do what is proper, yet for love's sake I rather appeal to you-  Philemon 1

Philemon was evidently a man marked by love, who expressed love by welcoming and refreshing the hearts of the saints.  Even so Paul prayed that Philemon would “have a full understanding of every good thing.” Paul was about to stretch Philemon’s capacity to love by asking him to welcome back his runaway slave and he knew he had to trust him to be loving and gentle with him.  

The quality of our love and understanding will be shown when we too are challenged to love someone we might have reason to despise! It’s going the extra mile that shows the great depth of Christian love—and reveals a mature understanding of what is good. 

But what really caught my eye was what the way Paul asked for his assistance.  He said, Therefore, though I have enough confidence in Christ to order you to do what is proper, yet for love's sake I rather appeal to you.  Did you catch that?  Paul knew that using his authority in the church he could demand that they receive Onesimus, but he instead appealed to them on the basis of love.  Here is a lesson for all Christian leaders...influence, not power, is the secret of Christian leadership. 

What is the difference? Power coerces others, forcing them to do what we wish whether they want to or not. Influence respects the rights of others to choose, and makes it clear that others have the freedom to make up their own minds. While Paul did give a variety of strong arguments that made it very clear what he thought Philemon should do, he was confident that Philemon would respond as a Christian should.  As a matter of fact, he closed with a confident gratitude that Philemon would even go beyond his desires because of what Christ had done in him: Yes, brother, let me benefit from you in the Lord; refresh my heart in Christ. Having confidence in your obedience, I write to you, since I know that you will do even more than what I say. Philemon 1:20-21

How wonderful when we can have confidence that we can trust our fellow believers to treat people as they should be treated!  Maybe there lies the secret of North Side...trusting one another to be who they have said we are...a loving, caring congregations of believers in Jesus Christ!  Yes, North Side is a special place that you can be comfortable inviting others to knowing they will be loved and accepted.
(submitted by: Pastor Van)

Devotional Archive