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Confident in the Lord's Goodness

Philemon 1:22
And one thing more: prepare a guest room for me, because I hope to be restored to you in answer to your prayers. (NIVUK)

Although Paul was in prison because people hated his faith in Jesus (Acts 25:10-12), he knew he had more work to do.  During his incarceration he had the opportunity to tell Philemon’s runaway slave, Onesimus, about Jesus and His saving power (Philemon 1:10).  The fugitive became a faithful believer and Paul was sending him back to his master in Colossae, asking him to receive him with grace and forgiveness (Philemon 1:15-18).  It would be a real demonstration of God’s love.

Onesimus and Paul’s colleague, Tychicus, brought this letter to Philemon with another to the Colossian church (Colossians 4:7-9).  Paul expects that Philemon will welcome his servant back home, and underlines that by saying that he soon hoped to stay in Philemon’s house.  So, Paul's request to stay with Philemon was also a reminder that he needed to enable Onesimus to be reintegrated by the time he was released from prison.  What an act of faith by somebody who had been in a Roman prison for so long!  

It was faith and not presumption.  Paul believed that God answers prayer (Philippians 1:19), including the prayers of the church in Colossae.  Therefore, he could be confident of the Lord's goodness to him.  He was not overconfident, demanding that God would have him released, but quietly hopeful and trusting the Lord (Psalm 112:7).

Although we can only live one day at a time, it is good to plan for future ministry and to consolidate previous ministry. Looking ahead is not presumption if we allow the Lord to have the final say with our diary. James 4:13-15 says, "Now listen, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.’  Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.’"  So, as we pray in line with God's will, we may be confident that He will answer in the way which He knows is best.

Dear Lord God, my loving heavenly Father. Thank You that You know the future and that You answer the prayers of Your children. Forgive me when I push ahead to plan what I want, without reference to You. Help me to live in line with the light You have already given me, so that I can pray in accordance with Your will, and make plans with quiet confidence that You will direct circumstances and bring everything together for Your glory. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams