This week’s guest devotion was written by missionary Rev. Jordan Tomesch. Rev. Tomesch, who is fluent in German, will be serving alongside LCMS sister church body in Germany, The Independent Evangelical Lutheran Church (SELK), in Hamburg. There he will work with refugees, offering proclamation, mercy, catechetical instruction and more.
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I thank my God always when I remember you in my prayers, because I hear of your love and of the faith that you have toward the Lord Jesus and for all the saints, and I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective for the full knowledge of every good thing that is in us for the sake of Christ. For I have derived much joy and comfort from your love, my brother, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you. Accordingly, though I am bold enough in Christ to command you to do what is required, yet for love’s sake I prefer to appeal to you—I, Paul, an old man and now a prisoner also for Christ Jesus—I appeal to you for my child, Onesimus, whose father I became in my imprisonment. (Formerly he was useless to you, but now he is indeed useful to you and to me.) (Philemon 1:3-11 ESV).
–By Rev. Jordan Tomesch
We all can remember a person who has shown us incredible love. For me it was my grandmother, who would live with us for a few months each year. I specifically remember her sitting next to me and my sisters on her bed. She would cut us apples and even take the peel off. And she was always fair; everyone got the same amount of apple slices. Even as I remember this story, it fills me with such joy and encouragement. When I face hardship I will often remember her and the love she gave me. This memory and other memories strengthen my faith as well, for I know it is Christ who loved me through my grandmother.
It seems that Paul remembers Philemon with the same fondness that I remember my grandmother. Paul says Philemon has “refreshed the hearts of the Lord’s people.” It’s important to note here that love refreshes human hearts, our hearts, your heart. Love is for humans. Paul does not say he is encouraged by how much Philemon loves God. Paul is encouraged by how much Philemon refreshes the hearts of the Lord’s people. Paul is encouraged by how Philemon loves people.
It is here that I remember what love is and who love is for. 1 John 4:10 says, “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” God loves us by forgiving us and this refreshes us. I am sure Philemon also forgave people their sins, even though it isn’t recorded here and even if he wasn’t a pastor. Nevertheless, forgiveness is a huge part of being refreshed. After all, refreshed is the word we use to describe ourselves after receiving the forgiveness of sins and partaking in the Lord’s Supper, at least in the Lutheran liturgy. And so as I write this devotion on October 5th, I pray that all Christians throughout all the earth would be refreshed. I pray that they would have Christian communities. I pray that they would have faithful pastors, who would speak the forgiveness of sins. And I pray that the people who are sleeping and do not yet know Christ, would be awakened and refreshed by His love. Amen.
- Read last week’s devotion.
- Learn more about Rev. Tomesch.