The Lord created us and knows everything about us, but instead of
following His plan for us to live by and recognizing the difference between
good and evil, we are attracted away by the evils of this world; and instead
of having heavenly peace, we end up with worldly troubles.
This is what David wrote about in Psalm 139:1-6.
1. O LORD, you have searched me
and you know me.
2. You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
3. You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
Nothing can be hidden from the Lord our God; He knows all our thoughts and actions, whether they are good or bad
4. Before a word is on my tongue
you know it completely, O LORD.
5. You hem me in — behind and before;
you have laid your hand upon me.
6. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.
Yet still most people live by the ways of the world, and end up with worldly
troubles that infect the whole world, as does a plague.
The world draws us away from the peaceful and heavenly ways of God.
It hardens the hearts and souls of those who listen and makes them indifferent to the suffering of millions of our fellow human beings who are caught up in our warring madness, and the billions of animals that suffer and die for human greed.
The result of all these worldly troubles are the plagues we bring upon ourselves in the form of our chronic diseases that come from eating animals.
Jeremiah 18:1-12 speaks of these same worldly troubles, but in this case the plague comes in the form of the people being led into captivity.
1. This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD:
2. "Go down to the potter's house, and there I will give you my message."
3. So I went down to the potter's house, and I saw him working at the wheel.
4. But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him.
5. Then the word of the LORD came to me:
6. "O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter does?" declares the LORD. "Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel.
The Lord is prepared to do the same to us, today, as He was prepared to do with Israel in the days of Jeremiah.
7. If at any time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be uprooted,
torn down and destroyed,
8. and if that nation I warned repents of its evil, then I will relent and not inflict on it the disaster I had planned.
This is the same kind of true repentance we talked about last week.
And we strongly believe that we have been playing around on the edge of disaster for far too long, and the Lord’s patience is giving out.
9. And if at another time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be built
up and planted,
10. and if it does evil in my sight and does not obey me, then I will reconsider the good I had intended to do for it.
This also sounds like the way that our society has been living, and the Lord seems to be acting upon our refusal to obey Him.
11. "Now therefore say to the people of Judah and those living in Jerusalem, 'This is what the LORD says: Look! I am preparing a disaster for you and devising a plan against you. So turn from your evil ways, each one of you, and reform your ways and your actions.'
The Lord wants us to be transformed into the loving, compassionate, and peacemaking children of God that He desires us to be.
12. But they will reply, 'It's no use. We will continue with our own plans;
each of us will follow the stubbornness of his evil heart.'"
These are exactly the same kinds of answers we receive from people when we
tell them about all the pain and suffering that they are inflicting,
directly or indirectly, upon billions of animals every year, and they tell
us that they don’t care and want their meat.
And we believe that God and Jeremiah are speaking to us, today, just as they did thousands of years ago.
Let’s now move on to Luke 14:25-35, and take a look at more worldly troubles and problems.
25. Now great multitudes were going along with Him [Jesus]; and He turned
and said to them,
26. "If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple.
Jesus does not mean that we are to actually hate our family, because He
tells us elsewhere to love them and our neighbors.
What He is saying is that by comparison, our love for God and our service to Him as a follower of Jesus should be so high above this physical world with all its worldly troubles and problems that our love for our family would seem like we hate them, which of course we don’t.
Our commitment to the service of God must be total.
27. "Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.
Here again, we are given a comparison: we should have such a repentant heart and soul at all times, that it would seem as if we were carrying our own cross.
28. "For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first
sit down and calculate the cost, to see if he has enough to complete it?
29. "Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation, and is not able to finish, all who observe it begin to ridicule him,
30. saying, 'This man began to build and was not able to finish.'
Jesus is presenting us with another comparison of the cost, both monetary
and physical, of what it takes to be a true disciple.
We need to weigh carefully in our minds what it is going to take to serve the Lord as a loving, compassionate, and peacemaking child of God.
31. "Or what king, when he sets out to meet another king in battle, will not
first sit down and take counsel whether he is strong enough with ten
thousand men to encounter the one coming against him with twenty thousand?
32. "Or else, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks terms of peace.
33. "So therefore, no one of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions.
In other words, God comes before everything we have.
34. "Therefore, salt is good; but if even salt has become tasteless, with
what will it be seasoned?
35. "It is useless either for the soil or for the manure pile; it is thrown out. He who has ears to hear, let him hear."
Our salt is our faith and trust in the Lord, and in our total desire to live
by our Father’s heavenly will, for it is only here that we can truly avoid
Now let’s take a look at the way that Paul addresses the worldly troubles and problems of his day in his letter to Philemon in verses 1-25.
1. Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother, to Philemon
our beloved brother and fellow worker,
2. and to Apphia our sister, and to Archippus our fellow soldier, and to the church in your house:
3. Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
In his greeting Paul doesn’t address any worldly problems, but only our peaceful life in the heavenly will of our Father.
4. I thank my God always, making mention of you in my prayers,
5. because I hear of your love, and of the faith which you have toward the Lord Jesus, and toward all the saints;
6. and I pray that the fellowship of your faith may become effective through the knowledge of every good thing which is in you for Christ's sake.
7. For I have come to have much joy and comfort in your love, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you, brother.
Paul is addressing Philemon in the love that he knows the Lord wants to fulfill in him. Paul wants to remind Philemon of this before he addresses the worldly problems of slavery which is holding back the effectiveness of Philemon’s faith.
8. Therefore, though I have enough confidence in Christ to order you to do
that which is proper,
9. yet for love's sake I rather appeal to you — since I am such a person as Paul, the aged, and now also a prisoner of Christ Jesus —
10. I appeal to you for my child, whom I have begotten in my imprisonment, Onesimus,
11. who formerly was useless to you, but now is useful both to you and to me.
12. And I have sent him back to you in person, that is, sending my very heart,
13. whom I wished to keep with me, that in your behalf he might minister to me in my imprisonment for the gospel;
14. but without your consent I did not want to do anything, that your goodness should not be as it were by compulsion, but of your own free will.
Philemon must rid himself of his former worldly troubles and problems, which are based in his desire to own slaves.
15. For perhaps he was for this reason parted from you for a while, that you
should have him back forever,
16. no longer as a slave, but more than a slave, a beloved brother, especially to me, but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord.
It appears that Onesimus was Philemon’s slave who had escaped, and it is
this slavery which is the worldly problem before us in this study and in the
To force another living being into slavery is both unloving and ungodly, no matter whether it involves Philemon’s “ownership” of Onesimus, or it involves the more than 50 billion animals that are held in slavery for the human greed of killing and eating them.
With this in mind let’s return to Paul’s letter to Philemon.
17. If then you regard me a partner, accept him as you would me.
18. But if he has wronged you in any way, or owes you anything, charge that to my account;
Paul wants Onesimus to be completely free with no encumbrances, and for
Philemon to accept him as an equal.
So to emphasize the fact, Paul goes on…
19. I, Paul, am writing this with my own hand, I will repay it (lest I
should mention to you that you owe to me even your own self as well).
20. Yes, brother, let me benefit from you in the Lord; refresh my heart in Christ.
21. Having confidence in your obedience, I write to you, since I know that you will do even more than what I say.
22. And at the same time also prepare me a lodging; for I hope that through your prayers I shall be given to you.
23. Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, greets you,
24. as do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, Luke, my fellow workers.
25. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.
Paul has confidence that Philemon will comply with his request and give
Onesimus his complete freedom.
But what about us, today?
Are we going to rid ourselves of the worldly troubles plaguing us because of our desire to keep animals in slavery?
If our answer is negative, our worldly troubles only get worse, but if we truly and completely repent of our evil ways, we will once again be blessed by God with true and lasting peace.