Interceding on behalf of others

Scripture Philemon 1 4 When I remember you in my prayers, I always thank my God 7 I have indeed received much joy and encouragement from your love, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you,  8 For this reason, though I am bold enough in Christ to command you to do your duty, 21 Confident of your obedience, I am writing to you, knowing that you will do even more than I say. Observation Paul had gotten to know a runaway slave, Onesimus, while in prison.  This slave had come to know Paul who had led him to faith in Jesus Christ.  He was a changed man and had become very precious to Paul.  However, Paul knew that the right thing to do was to send Onesimus home, and this was rather disconcerting.  How would Onesimus' master respond?  Paul saw it as his duty to intercede for Onesimus.  Paul's responsibility, or duty did not end with brining this one to Christ, but included a support system that would allow Onesimus to return to life as a follower of Christ. Application We who are followers of Christ have a responsibility to lead people to Christ, but then to go beyond this and become an intercessor, actually leading to a life where they can live out their faith.  Too often we fall short in this entire responsibility.  First, I'm not even sure that many in the church feel a burden for the lost.  We need to just open our eyes and see the harvest field around us.  There are spiritually hungry individuals everywhere we look.  Paul found them in prison where he could have sat around griping but instead saw it as an opportunity to tell others about Christ.  But when God gives us these opportunities we must not stop there.  If this person has gone down a destructive path, we must be intercessors who will help to set them on a path where they can now live out their faith.  It means stepping into the life of the sinner and helping them figure out how to move on.  Maybe it's interceding with a boss to get them out of a bad job...or interceding with someone who should hire them...pleading for a chance.  Maybe it's helping this person move to a new neighborhood, getting them out of the place where the temptations run rampant on a daily basis. Ultimately our responsibility to one another goes to the heart of transformation.  It will cost us something to become involved with those who need Christ.  This cost includes putting ourselves out there and interceding on their behalf, when they themselves are powerless.  Paul's example here is beautiful, and we must believe it was successful.  A runaway slave becomes a useful member in the body of Christ.  That is the redemptive power of God available to each and everyone of us.   Prayer Lord, may each one of us see those around us who need you, and become intercessors for them.  Amen.

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