I usually wake up around 4:30 each morning. I make a cup of coffee. Freshly brewed coffee in my hand, I walk over to our couch —old Blue—and sit down to read something in my Bible or on one of my Bible apps. Rice, one of our lovable cats, curls up in my lap. This is his modus operandi anytime I plop down on the couch.
This particular morning, I read Philemon. My co-worker and fellow preaching team member, Rodney, led a Bible study and delivered a sermon on Philemon recently ahead of Juneteenth. It encouraged me to sit down and read the Apostle Paul’s letter to his friend. Rodney had chosen to preach on Philemon because of its connection to Juneteenth and emancipation.
Interestingly, Opal Lee, the woman who doggedly pursued the National reckoning commemorating June 19, was born in my hometown of Marshall. Now a lifelong resident of Fort Worth, Mrs. Lee campaigned for decades to make Juneteenth a Federal holiday. Finally, last June, she saw her quest fulfilled.
Juneteenth commemorates the emancipation of enslaved African Americans by President Abraham Lincoln. Originating in Galveston, Texas, June 19 has been celebrated, albeit unofficially, since 1865. While Lincoln had issued his famous Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, news that they’d been freed did not reach slaves in Texas until two years later, in 1865.
In his letter entitled Philemon, the Apostle Paul writes from his Roman jail cell to his friend Philemon concerning Onesimus, Philemon’s runaway slave.
Accused of being a thief, Onesimus found himself imprisoned in a Roman jail. Providentially, it turned out to be the same jail where Paul and his team of evangelists were also incarcerated. While in jail, Onesimus comes to faith in Jesus. Upon Onesimus’ release, Paul writes a letter beseeching Philemon, once Onesimus’ slave master, to welcome Onesimus home as his brother in Christ.
Slavery is an old institution. In Ancient Days, when a nation conquered another nation, it would indenture the indigenous people as slaves. A unique difference in the slavery of those times versus the enslavement of Africans is that conquering nations generally left the native citizens in their home country. Enslavement of Africans sparked the global industry of exporting humans for financial gain.
The harsh truth is that we are all born slaves to sin. Sin chains us in bondage until we are set free by placing our faith and trust in the Son of God, Jesus Christ.
Have you found freedom in Jesus Christ?
Hallelujah! if your answer is yes. If you haven’t yet, I pray you will soon, before it’s too late.
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The Devotional Guy™