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In this familiar story, Paul sends Onesimus, who is probably an enslaved man who has run away, back to his master, Philemon. Paul appeals to Philemon not to enslave Onesimus but to accept Onesimus as “a beloved brother.” Most societies no longer permit the ownership of one person by another,...

Gracious God, thank you for the gift of humanity that we share with others. Make us more sensitive to the fact that we are all siblings in your intended family of humankind. Amen.


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Lectionary Week
September 2–8, 2019
Scripture Overview

Jeremiah brings another warning of impending judgment. If the people will not turn to the Lord, God will break the nation and reshape it, just as a potter breaks down and reshapes clay on a wheel. The psalmist praises God for God’s intimate knowledge of each one of us. Even from the moment of conception, God knows us and has a plan for our lives. Philemon is often overlooked, but it packs a punch. A text that some used in the past to justify slavery teaches a very different message. Paul warns Philemon not to enslave Onesimus again but to receive him back as a brother. Secular power structures have no place in God’s kingdom. In Luke, Jesus uses striking examples to teach us that the life of faith cannot be lived well with half-hearted commitment.

Questions and Suggestions for Reflection

Read Jeremiah 18:1-11. As clay, how can you better respond to the Potter’s guiding hand?
Read Psalm 139:1-6, 13-18. God knows you better than you know yourself, yet God has given you the ability to make your own decisions. How do you respond to God?
Read Philemon 1-21. How do you honor the full humanity of those who serve you through their work?
Read Luke 14:25-33. What does it mean for you to take up the cross in your life?

Respond by posting a prayer.

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"We use The Upper Room Disciplines as a daily devotion and weekly Bible study session for several church groups. We have used it for five years and are quite pleased. We like the reflection questions and variety of contributors." 

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