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. —Philemon 18-19

John MacArthur, in “The Motives of One Who Forgives”

But then notice what he says in parenthesis. “Lest I should mention to you that you owe to me even your own self as well.” What is he saying here? He’s saying, “By the way, I know Onesimus owes you a debt, but may I remind you that you owe me a greater debt than he owes you?” Here’s Paul’s plan. Put his debt on my account, then cancel it because you owe me so much. That’s what he says.

Now there’s a principle here. Philemon is not just a man who is owed the payment of a debt. Philemon is also a debtor who owes a far greater and unpayable debt to Paul. Onesimus owes Philemon a material debt. Philemon owes Paul a spiritual debt. Onesimus owes Philemon a temporal debt. Philemon owes Paul an eternal debt. Why? Paul had given him the gospel. Paul had led him to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. How is he ever going to pay that back? So he says Onesimus’ debt should be put on my account and then cancel because you owe me so much, because I was used by God to deliver you from death and hell.

Now the principle is just that simple. Somebody does something against you, offends you, owes you something, remember this, you owe such unpayable debts to others who have generously and graciously and faithfully and lovingly benefited you with the richest of spiritual blessings and they don’t demand payment and neither could you pay it should they demand it, so can’t you release the simple temporal financial debt or obligation of one who has only offended you in an earthly way? That’s his point.

Luke 20:20-26 So they watched him and sent spies, who pretended to be sincere, that they might catch him in something he said, so as to deliver him up to the authority and jurisdiction of the governor.  So they asked him, “Teacher, we know that you speak and teach rightly, and show no partiality, but truly teach the way of God.  Is it lawful for us to give tribute to Caesar, or not?” But he perceived their craftiness, and said to them, “Show me a denarius. Whose likeness and inscription does it have?” They said, “Caesar’s.”  He said to them, “Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” And they were not able in the presence of the people to catch him in what he said, but marveling at his answer they became silent.

J.C. Ryle comments:

Let us mark, for one thing, in this passage, the cloak of goodness under which some of our Lord’s enemies approached Him. We read that they “sent forth spies, who pretended to be honest men.” We read further that they attempted to trick Him by flattering words

“Teacher, we know that you speak and teach what is right and are not influenced by what others think. You sincerely teach the ways of God.”

These words sounded well. An ignorant bystander would have said, “These are sincere inquirers after truth!” But all was hollow and unreal. It was the wolf putting on the sheep’s clothing, under the vain idea of deceiving the shepherd. “Their words were smoother than butter,” yet there was “war in their hearts.” (Psalm 55:21.)

The true servant of Christ must expect to meet people of this description, as long as the world stands. There never will be lacking those, who from selfish or sinister motives will profess with their lips to love Christ, while in heart they deny Him.

Proverbs 17:22 A joyful heart is good medicine,
but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.

Chuck Swindoll:

To which I shout a hearty “Amen!” having been around many a broken spirit with dried-up bones in my lifetime.

My plea is not that we read the comics, watch mindless sitcoms, or tell a lot of silly jokes to each other. That’s external, superficial, and shallow. I’m suggesting that we become more lighthearted, relishing life more as our confidence in the sovereign Lord grows. After all, He gave us humor to enjoy and genuine smiles when we take pleasure in His gift.

Let’s lighten up rather than surrender to intensity and worry. A truly cheerful face radiates from a relaxed, joyful heart.

A few things in life are absolutely tragic, no question about it. But a joyless Christian . . . that’s ridiculous!

Rejoice in the Lord always;
Again I will say, rejoice! (Philippians 4:4)

Taken from Charles R. Swindoll, “A Joyful Heart . . . It’s Good Medicine!” Insights (March 2001): 1-2. Copyright © 2001, Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights reserved worldwide.

Bob Deffinbaugh comments:

A slight shift in the events recorded in Esther would have doomed the Jews, except as Mordecai said, “help would come from someplace else.” Nevertheless, success in the small details mattered. As an Agagite, Haman may well have used his position against the Jews at the first provocation, whether it came from Mordecai or not. And so we have a web of God’s providence weaved into the fabric of the story:

  • Vasthi was removed as queen.
  • Esther was the young woman among hundreds to find favor with the king to become queen.
  • Mordecai was there to hear the plot against the king.
  • The king was lazy about rewarding Mordecai.
  • There was time granted in the casting of the Pur – nearly a year between the decree and the date of its execution – to allow for King Ahasuerus’ procrastination and for the Jews to prepare for their defense.
  • Esther was twice extended the golden scepter that spared her life.
  • King Ahasuerus agreed to attend the two banquets.
  • King Ahasuerus happened to read about Mordecai’s service between the two banquets.
  • There happened to have been a gallows, built by Haman, on which to hang him. Once the king’s anger subsided, he may have had second thoughts. After all, he did nothing about the Jew’s situation until Esther risked her life a second time.
  • The Jews prevailed over their enemies. It must be remembered that both decrees were in force. One can presume that there were battles fought.

And so the one who knows his God can see His hand even if Mordecai and Esther did not. This is grace and mercy. Unlike Daniel, who would not eat Nebuchadnezzar’s non-kosher food, and who publicly prayed even when it carried a death sentence, Esther concealed her identity and, therefore, ate whatever was placed before her. Neither she nor Mordecai appealed to Passover as a celebration of the Lord’s deliverance from Egyptian slavery, even though the celebration of Passover was at hand.

In short, Mordecai and Esther were not people of faith.

But the Lord God proved faithful to His people, and one of the grand purposes of the Book of Esther is to show the Lord’s preserving hand. We are led to see the Lord moving behind the scenes for the discerning eye to see.

August 25 

Philemon 12-25 (ESV)

12 I am sending him back to you, sending my very heart. 13 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, 14 but I preferred to do nothing without your consent in order that your goodness might not be by compulsion but of your own accord. 15 For this perhaps is why he was parted from you for a while, that you might have him back forever, 16 no longer as a slave [1] but more than a slave, as 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, receive him as you would receive me. 18 If he has wronged you at all, or owes you anything, charge that to my account. 19 I, Paul, write this with my own hand: I will repay it—to say nothing of your owing me even your own self. 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.

Final Greetings

23 Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, sends greetings to you, 24 and so do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, and Luke, my fellow workers.

25 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.

August 25 

Luke 20:20-26 (ESV)

20 So they watched him and sent spies, who pretended to be sincere, that they might catch him in something he said, so as to deliver him up to the authority and jurisdiction of the governor. 21 So they asked him, “Teacher, we know that you speak and teach rightly, and show no partiality, [1] but truly teach the way of God. 22 Is it lawful for us to give tribute to Caesar, or not?” 23 But he perceived their craftiness, and said to them, 24 “Show me a denarius. [2] Whose likeness and inscription does it have?” They said, “Caesar’s.” 25 He said to them, “Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” 26 And they were not able in the presence of the people to catch him in what he said, but marveling at his answer they became silent.

August 25 

Proverbs 17:15-28 (ESV)

15 He who justifies the wicked and he who condemns the righteous
are both alike an abomination to the Lord.
16 Why should a fool have money in his hand to buy wisdom
when he has no sense?
17 A friend loves at all times,
and a brother is born for adversity.
18 One who lacks sense gives a pledge
and puts up security in the presence of his neighbor.
19 Whoever loves transgression loves strife;
he who makes his door high seeks destruction.
20 A man of crooked heart does not discover good,
and one with a dishonest tongue falls into calamity.
21 He who sires a fool gets himself sorrow,
and the father of a fool has no joy.
22 A joyful heart is good medicine,
but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.
23 The wicked accepts a bribe in secret [1]
to pervert the ways of justice.
24 The discerning sets his face toward wisdom,
but the eyes of a fool are on the ends of the earth.
25 A foolish son is a grief to his father
and bitterness to her who bore him.
26 To impose a fine on a righteous man is not good,
nor to strike the noble for their uprightness.
27 Whoever restrains his words has knowledge,
and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding.
28 Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise;
when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent.

August 25 

Esther 9-10 (ESV)

The Jews Destroy Their Enemies

9:1 Now in the twelfth month, which is the month of Adar, on the thirteenth day of the same, when the king’s command and edict were about to be carried out, on the very day when the enemies of the Jews hoped to gain the mastery over them, the reverse occurred: the Jews gained mastery over those who hated them. 2 The Jews gathered in their cities throughout all the provinces of King Ahasuerus to lay hands on those who sought their harm. And no one could stand against them, for the fear of them had fallen on all peoples. 3 All the officials of the provinces and the satraps and the governors and the royal agents also helped the Jews, for the fear of Mordecai had fallen on them. 4 For Mordecai was great in the king’s house, and his fame spread throughout all the provinces, for the man Mordecai grew more and more powerful. 5 The Jews struck all their enemies with the sword, killing and destroying them, and did as they pleased to those who hated them. 6 In Susa the citadel itself the Jews killed and destroyed 500 men, 7 and also killed Parshandatha and Dalphon and Aspatha 8 and Poratha and Adalia and Aridatha 9 and Parmashta and Arisai and Aridai and Vaizatha, 10 the ten sons of Haman the son of Hammedatha, the enemy of the Jews, but they laid no hand on the plunder.

11 That very day the number of those killed in Susa the citadel was reported to the king. 12 And the king said to Queen Esther, “In Susa the citadel the Jews have killed and destroyed 500 men and also the ten sons of Haman. What then have they done in the rest of the king’s provinces! Now what is your wish? It shall be granted you. And what further is your request? It shall be fulfilled.” 13 And Esther said, “If it please the king, let the Jews who are in Susa be allowed tomorrow also to do according to this day’s edict. And let the ten sons of Haman be hanged on the gallows.” [1] 14 So the king commanded this to be done. A decree was issued in Susa, and the ten sons of Haman were hanged. 15 The Jews who were in Susa gathered also on the fourteenth day of the month of Adar and they killed 300 men in Susa, but they laid no hands on the plunder.

16 Now the rest of the Jews who were in the king’s provinces also gathered to defend their lives, and got relief from their enemies and killed 75,000 of those who hated them, but they laid no hands on the plunder. 17 This was on the thirteenth day of the month of Adar, and on the fourteenth day they rested and made that a day of feasting and gladness. 18 But the Jews who were in Susa gathered on the thirteenth day and on the fourteenth, and rested on the fifteenth day, making that a day of feasting and gladness. 19 Therefore the Jews of the villages, who live in the rural towns, hold the fourteenth day of the month of Adar as a day for gladness and feasting, as a holiday, and as a day on which they send gifts of food to one another.

The Feast of Purim Inaugurated

20 And Mordecai recorded these things and sent letters to all the Jews who were in all the provinces of King Ahasuerus, both near and far, 21 obliging them to keep the fourteenth day of the month Adar and also the fifteenth day of the same, year by year, 22 as the days on which the Jews got relief from their enemies, and as the month that had been turned for them from sorrow into gladness and from mourning into a holiday; that they should make them days of feasting and gladness, days for sending gifts of food to one another and gifts to the poor.

23 So the Jews accepted what they had started to do, and what Mordecai had written to them. 24 For Haman the Agagite, the son of Hammedatha, the enemy of all the Jews, had plotted against the Jews to destroy them, and had cast Pur (that is, cast lots), to crush and to destroy them. 25 But when it came before the king, he gave orders in writing that his evil plan that he had devised against the Jews should return on his own head, and that he and his sons should be hanged on the gallows. [2] 26 Therefore they called these days Purim, after the term Pur. Therefore, because of all that was written in this letter, and of what they had faced in this matter, and of what had happened to them, 27 the Jews firmly obligated themselves and their offspring and all who joined them, that without fail they would keep these two days according to what was written and at the time appointed every year, 28 that these days should be remembered and kept throughout every generation, in every clan, province, and city, and that these days of Purim should never fall into disuse among the Jews, nor should the commemoration of these days cease among their descendants.

29 Then Queen Esther, the daughter of Abihail, and Mordecai the Jew gave full written authority, confirming this second letter about Purim. 30 Letters were sent to all the Jews, to the 127 provinces of the kingdom of Ahasuerus, in words of peace and truth, 31 that these days of Purim should be observed at their appointed seasons, as Mordecai the Jew and Queen Esther obligated them, and as they had obligated themselves and their offspring, with regard to their fasts and their lamenting. 32 The command of Queen Esther confirmed these practices of Purim, and it was recorded in writing.

The Greatness of Mordecai

10:1 King Ahasuerus imposed tax on the land and on the coastlands of the sea. 2 And all the acts of his power and might, and the full account of the high honor of Mordecai, to which the king advanced him, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the kings of Media and Persia? 3 For Mordecai the Jew was second in rank to King Ahasuerus, and he was great among the Jews and popular with the multitude of his brothers, for he sought the welfare of his people and spoke peace to all his people.

Proverbs 17:3 The crucible is for silver, and the furnace is for gold,
and the Lord tests hearts.

God tests us, tests our hearts.  Repeatedy in the Bible, we read that HE refines us, tests us, just as precious metals are refined to remove impurities.  Read these other passages, and ask yourself what remains after going through the “furnace of affliction.” Gold will become pure.  Silver will become pure.  The rest?  Kindling.

The Refiner's Fire by Lars Justinen (www.larsjustinen.com)

Isaiah 48:10 Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver;  I have tried you in the furnace of affliction.

Jeremiah 9:7 Therefore thus says the Lord of hosts:
“Behold, I will refine them and test them,
 for what else can I do, because of my people?

Zechariah 13:9 And I will put this third into the fire,
and refine them as one refines silver,
and test them as gold is tested.
They will call upon my name,
and I will answer them.
I will say, ‘They are my people’;
and they will say, ‘The Lord is my God.’”

1 Corinthians 3:10-15 According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it.  For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.  Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw—  each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done.  If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward.  If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.

What will God find when you are tested? Kindling or gold?

Ray Stedman on Esther 7:

gallowsThe chapter opens with an intimate supper in a private banqueting room where Queen Esther, the king, and Haman, the evil prime minister, are gathered, and it closes with a man nailed, screaming, to a tree until he is dead. Here is one of those frequent timeless foreshadowings of the cross of the Old Testament. Here is a king who is ignorant of what is going on in his kingdom. He is troubled, perplexed, concerned, deluded, and unknowing. It is a picture of your human soul with its power of will and choice, but also its blindness and ignorance of the true nature of events in your life. And here is a queen who has been informed by her wise cousin, Mordecai, exactly what is happening. She knows what is going on and is moving to avert disaster. This, as we have seen, is a picture of the regenerate human spirit which, indwelt and taught by the Holy Spirit, is able to recognize the true nature of evil and is the base from which God moves in our lives to prevent disaster. Here is Haman, a descendent of Agag, the Amalekite, the sworn enemy of God, who is plotting to destroy the people of God from the kingdom of Ahasuerus and to exalt himself. What a picture this is of the principle of self in each of us — that deadly ego which has as its central purpose the exaltation of self and which hates the control of God in our lives.

last_supper_davinciCenturies after this supper, another supper was held in a private banqueting room upstairs in a building in Jerusalem. A similar occasion occurs. Three forces are represented there: Here are eleven disciples who do not know what is going on. Their hearts are troubled. They are concerned and perplexed. They are full of questions. They are ignorant and unknowing. Here is Jesus Christ, their Lord, their master, the perfect Son of man, indwelt by the Father, filled with the Spirit, aware of everything, fully awake to the danger of the hour and moving to avert the world’s greatest disaster. And here, also, is Judas, the traitor, intent only on fulfilling his own desires, ready to destroy everything if by hypocrisy and pretense he can get what he wants, unconcerned for the terrible results that will follow his deed because he is intent only upon the fulfillment of his own desire, his own will. That supper, too, ended with a man hanging upon a tree, nailed, skewered to a gallows.

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