Sweet Start CARD: Philemon part 2 + Watercolor Emboss Resist

It’s another glorious day of life, let’s begin with a Sweet Start!

Philemon, part 2

We left off yesterday’s study with the introduction to Philemon and my notes up to verse 7. If you haven’t already, you can read that post and pick up with us in Philemon verse 8. Here are today’s notes from my study!

  • As Paul begins his plea for Onesimus in verse 8, he speaks lovingly rather than commandingly. Remember, Philemon is his friend!
  • The first theme that dominates this letter: being a prisoner. Paul begins his letter by identifying himself as a prisoner of Christ Jesus. He repeats the phrase again in v. 9, before noting Onesimus’ conversion in v. 10, “while I was in chains.” We know that Paul was imprisoned on several occasions because of the gospel message he professed, and through his imprisonment the gospel message was advanced more fearlessly (See Philippians 1:12-14). Paul saw God’s providence in his imprisonment, so while he was technically a prisoner of Rome, he was giving the credit to God who is sovereign over all: God used Paul’s imprisonment to accomplish His purposes. The other thing to note here is that Paul’s physical imprisonments were momentary, whereas Paul’s self-identity as a prisoner of Christ was permanent, following him wherever he happened to be as he spread the message of the gospel. In the context of this letter, it seems to me that Paul is using his identity as a prisoner in part to equate himself with Onesimus and pull on the compassion of his friend Philemon on behalf of them both. Onesimus was an escaped slave of Philemon, a crime that warranted his imprisonment and return to his master, Philemon, who would then have complete control over his destiny. Because Paul is imprisoned in Rome, he can’t physically go and seek the compassion of his friend on behalf of Onesimus, so he equates himself repeatedly with the escaped slave so that Philemon understands (to echo the words of Jesus), “whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did to Me.” (Matthew 25:40, HCSB) Paul uses pretty strong language to convey the message of equity with Onesimus, such as, “he became my son,” (v.10) “him–who is my very heart,” (v.12) “welcome him as you would welcome me,” (v.17)
  • I really like verses 15 & 16, “Perhaps the reason he was separated from you for a little while was that you might have him back for good– no longer as a slave, but better than a slave, as a dear brother.” First of all, it acknowledges God’s sovereignty in a seemingly bad situation. Maybe it was GOD who allowed Onesimus to run away, so that he could come to faith in Christ. Who can argue with that? How could Philemon punish Onesimus for something that was God-ordained? There is also a sense of fairness in this text. Paul is doing the “right thing” by sending Onesimus back to his master, and he’s hoping that Philemon will do the “right thing” and accept Onesimus back, not as a mere servant, but as a brother in Christ. If social justice is important to you, it might not be totally satisfying that Paul doesn’t comment on the broader issue of slavery here. Regardless, it was revolutionary for him to encourage Philemon to accept his runaway slave, whom he could rightfully put to death for his rebellion, as a loved equal– a dear brother. Isn’t that the heart of the gospel message, though? We have all rebelled against God and chosen to flee His authority. If you think you haven’t, take a quick peek at the 10 commandments and examine how many of God’s fundamental laws you’ve transgressed. We are all sinners. And yet, while we were still in rebellion, Christ Jesus died so that we could be reconciled to God and have our relationship with Him restored (see Romans 5:6-11). Going back to our day 1 study, this letter displays a prime example of living out the message of the gospel, which is GRACE. Grace is undeserved favor, or loving kindness that is not merited. Did Onesimus deserve to be forgiven so thoroughly that he could be considered a dear brother of his master, Philemon? No way! He stole money from Philemon and ran away– in the culture of Rome he deserved to die. And yet, Paul is encouraging Philemon to act out the gospel of grace in regard to Philemon, knowing that Philemon had received the gift of grace himself from a loving God.
  • Paul recognized that Philemon owed him big in verse 19. Why is that? As the person who led Philemon to faith in Christ, Paul is the messenger responsible for his assurance of salvation. Philemon’s eternal life is secure because Paul taught him about Jesus, and he received Paul’s message. “How beautiful are the feet of those who announce the gospel of good things!” (Romans 10:15, HCSB)
  • In closing, Paul expresses his confidence that Philemon will comply with his request and then some. Philemon must have been a pretty cool guy! The Apostle Paul seemed to think very highly of him. Paul also encourages him to prepare a guest room in anticipation of his release from prison according to Philemon’s prayers. I know that Paul believed in the efficacy of prayer, so again, this wasn’t a mere pleasantry. It was hope. Despite everything that Paul had been through and his current imprisonment, he hadn’t lost hope. He was a pretty cool guy, too.
  • Finally, the letter ends as it begins– with the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, whose gospel of grace Paul, and I, will be ever in bondage to.

Next Sweet Start will begin a study in Romans, excuse me while I “gird my loins” and prepare for the journey of a lifetime as we dive into a much longer and more theologically challenging book. What are your thoughts on Philemon? Any big takeaway points you discovered that will benefit your spiritual life? How has your experience of grace deepened your understanding of God’s love? I’d be honored to hear about it in the comments, sweet sister! Now let’s stamp!

You Brighten My Day #2

Here’s the second project in my stamp set challenge, where I’ll be showing off two weeks of projects using the You Brighten My Day stamp set from the promotional Sale-a-bration brochure. Did you know everything in the Sale-a-bration brochure is 100% free? Yep! For every $50 you spend during the promotion (Jan. 6th-Mar. 31st), you get to pick a free SAB product. Sweet! Do you need an Occasions Catalog or Sale-a-bration brochure? If you don’t have a demonstrator yet, I’d be happy to stick a copy in the mail to you, just shoot me an email to let me know you’d like one.

Stampin' Up! You Brighten My Day card with watercolor emboss-resist technique by Becky Gifford.

Do you love that watercolor emboss-resist background? It was not hard to make, but it is a huge part of why this card is one of my favorites. Simply stamp the light bulb image onto watercolor paper using Versamark ink, and heat emboss with clear embossing powder. HINT! Watercolor paper absorbs the ink really quickly, and while the effect still worked out alright, it might have worked even better if I had stamped and embossed the bulbs one at a time instead of stamping them all and then embossing all at once. After that, I used Soft Sky ink and an Aqua Painter filled with water to paint the background, filling in more color at the top and pulling less color as I worked down the paper. You’ll have to go over the top portion with several layers of color until you’re happy with the saturation, but there’s no need to let the ink dry in between.

Stampin' Up! You Brighten My Day card details with watercolor emboss-resist technique by Becky Gifford.

You can see in the closeup photo that the embossing isn’t as raised and shiny on the watercolor paper, but it still blocks ink from coloring the stamped areas leaving you with a lovely emboss-resist background. Do you see the gorgeous patterned paper with an Ikat pattern? It’s called Sweet Dreams Designer Series Paper. We’ve seen Ikat patterns dominate the fields of home decorating and fashion, so I was pleased to see this DSP in the new Occasions catalog. Wait until you see the stamp set it coordinates with, it’s just plain adorable. I layered coordinating Sweet Dreams Designer Washi Tape over top for a subtle pop of color, I like how it turned out!

It’s hard to believe still that it’s 2015, but I hope this year brings you prosperity, spiritual encouragement, and an abundance of inspiration. Maybe you’d like to subscribe to The Social Stamper blog posts as a part of your fresh start!

Many Blessings & Happy Stamping,
Shop Now Signature Becky Gifford The Social Stamper


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