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Redemptive Love

Imagine being a slave in the Roman Empire. Most of the time slaves were captives from conquered lands. In other cases struggling families sold their children into slavery. Lucky was the slave who had a good master “…but the vast majority of the wealthy and noble, given up without restraint to the indulgence of lust, passion, and appetite, made their slaves the wretched victims of caprice and tyranny.” (Acts of the Apostles, p. 456)

Small was the chance of survival for any runaway slave. It was customary to torture and kill those who were caught. Many lucky ones fled to Rome, where they hid among the great population. Trying to change his future, Onesimus, fled from his master Philemon, who happened to know Paul and was a Christian. Onesimus managed to travel over 600 miles from Colossae to Rome with some stolen riches. Not having much in Rome, Onesimus found himself in great distress, “…Paul sought to relieve the poverty and stress of the wretched fugitive and then endeavored to shed light of truth into his darkened mind.” (ibid., p. 456)    

While Onesimus was running away from his earthly master he came to know his Heavenly Master. He was converted to Christianity by Paul. Endearing himself to the apostle he ministered to him while in prison. Great was the love and affection of the two. Noticing the talents of Onesimus, Paul counseled him to return to Philemon and ask for forgiveness and thus no longer be a fugitive. Convicted of his evils and wrongs that he had done, Onesimus decided to go back not knowing what the consequences would be. A letter from Paul to Philemon accompanied Onesimus. In this letter we find one of the most heartfelt messages; a personal letter supplicating Philemon to love Onesimus.    

The letter to Philemon is a letter of love. The type of love Paul wants is redemptive love.  Paul begins to acknowledge Philemon’s great love for God. He says, “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.” (Philemon 1: 4, 5) Paul then appeals to Philemon to treat Onesimus not as what he deserves “no longer as a bondservant, but more than a bondservant, as a beloved brother…I appeal to you for my child, Onesimus, whose father I became in my imprisonment…I am sending him back to you, sending my very heart.” (vv. 16, 10, 17)     

Everyone calls themselves Christian today, but is everyone willing to forgive like Christ? Note, that Philemon had all the legal right to make a prosecution and punish Onesimus. Yet Paul’s advice is to treat Onesimus as he would treat Paul. (v. 17) Paul even goes on to say, “If he has wronged you at all, or owes you anything, charge that to my account.” (v. 18) Note, that Paul is willing to pay the price of Onesimus's wrongs so that he could be treated as one who has done no wrong.  

Paul’s conduct reminds me of Jesus. Jesus paid the price for my wrongs so that I can be a free man.  The example of Jesus is truly Paul’s example and it is the same example Paul is asking Philemon to follow. It is easy to be called a Christian and not forgive him who has done you wrong. How easy is it to treat him who has done something offensive as a runaway slave and not like a fellow brother? It is easy to love those who love us. It is easy to point out sin, but to lift the sinner up from the ground, to bring back the self-respect and honor to the castaway is a different story. While we are told to call sin by its right name we are called to act in a redemptive way, and sometimes that is done by forgiving and embracing the erring. The appeal to Philemon, to love and redeem, is the same appeal that God gives to each one of us towards those who have erred for they are his dear children too.   

Andrew Vargas, Intern Pastor

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CENTRAL CORNER

This Week (July 25 to 30): 

• Tuesday @ 10:00 AM – Women’s Bible Study

• Tuesday @ 7:00 PM – Prayer Meeting with Pastor Chris Buttery

• Wednesday @ 7:00 PM - Spanish Group Prayer Meeting

• Various L.I.F.E. groups (in-home small group Bible studies) take place across Sacramento. To locate one near you contact our small groups’ coordinator, Richard Anger @ (916) 681-3990

• Sabbath @ 9:00 AM – Morning Manna with Silvia Ballesteros

• Sabbath @ 9:30 AM – Central Study Hour with Pastor Fred Dana + Children/Youth/Adult Sabbath School Classes

• Sabbath @ 10:50 AM – Worship Service with Pastor Art Branner

• Sabbath @ 1:00 PM – Guest Fellowship Lunch

• Sabbath @ 2:00 PM – Family Life Seminars

Upcoming Events

Healthy Plate: Join us tonight (July 25) at 7 PM in the Chapel for the next Healthy Plate presentation, “Lose Weight Naturally!” with Dr. David DeRose. You’ll be glad you came!

Family Life Sabbath is July 30 here at Central. Join us as Pastor Art & Esmie Branner and Tyra Taylor-Cooks lead out in two very engaging afternoon seminars.  The program runs from 10:50 AM to 3:30 PM.

AFCOE-To-Go will take place right here at Central, starting Friday, August 5 from 6:30 PM (onsite FREE registration begins at 6 PM) and running all day Sabbath, August 6. Plan to join us for fellowship lunch.  Supper will be provided.

Collegiate Sabbath School will be starting August 6 in the North Upper Sanctuary Room here at Sacramento Central Church. This class will be for collegiate students ages 18 to 25.

Family Matters

Welcome New Ministry Leaders! Congratulations to the following: Richard Anger as Head Elder, Arbenit Rrustemaj as Elder, Matt Davis as Assistant Head Deacon, Jesse Henda, Liviu Ilyes & Dennis Mitchell as Deacons, and Bryant Yee as Assistant Community Services/Food Closet Leader. Please not only keep these individuals in prayer, but support them in their ministry!

Looking for Apartment to Rent & Car: This came in from one of our members: “We are looking for a place to live [in or near the greater Sacramento area] where it is relatively quiet, has basic functioning facilities for three people (mother, sister and myself), and open to accommodating a pet (we have a small mixed breed female dog -- though this is not essential as we'll find her a loving home if it is necessary). Willing to pay $6-700/month.

“Additionally, I am looking for a new car as the one I currently own is in bad shape. Anyone who has a vehicle they are looking to part with can contact me at (669) 350-9673 or through email at RLAllen86@gmail.com, so we can discuss price and payment.

Sacramento Central Prayer Ministry has conference calls open to the entire church twice daily, at 5:30 AM and 7 PM, for approximately 30 minutes. If you happen to log in during the prayer time, please do not say your name. Call 712.770.4010, access code: 361097.

Podcasts Available! If you didn't know, every Central Study Hour and worship service can be viewed and downloaded by going to our website (https://zqh.orf.mybluehost.me/saccentral/sermons). This is an easy way for you to invite friends and family to listen to important Bible messages coming from Central church. The podcasts are uploaded a week after the live presentation.

Watch Us On Television! Enjoy viewing Central’s flagship program, Central Study Hour, every Friday night at 7 PM (NEW TIME) and Sabbath morning at 6 AM (PST) on 3ABN Proclaim! Also enjoy our Receiving the Word, 30-minute programs weekly on Sunday at 11 AM, Tuesday at 11:30 AM, Wednesday at 8:30 PM, and Thursday at 9 PM on Sacramento Faith TV. These can also be viewed on our website (www.saccentral.org) and our YouTube channel (www.youtube.com/thecentralconnection). Let everyone know where they can receive timely Bible messages!

News & Events From Elsewhere

Tell the World. After years of planning, fundraising and production, Tell the World, which tells the history of the global denomination’s pioneers, is finished. Tell the World was produced by Hope Channel, the official broadcast network of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, in Australia. It is also the largest media production in the denomination’s history. IT will air on October this year. To watch the trailer, go here. 

Watch Summer Shows, beginning July 17. Hope Channel Classics will feature documentaries on Martin Luther, John Wesley, Corrie ten Boom and more. Musical artists from My Story, My Song will perform an encore in mini concerts. Also back is Barry Black in Higher Ground. In addition to the return of these favorites is Arnion, a brand new show that presents a fresh, contemporary look at the book of Revelation. For air times, check the program guide. Watch Hope Channel on DirecTV 368, streaming online, on Roku, and mobile apps.

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NEWS HEIGHTS

Resources

Breath of Life is a valuable resource for uplifting and spiritually based media. The ministry, led by Carlton P. Byrd, senior pastor of the Oakwood University Church, features an online Breath of Life media store offering CDs and DVDs of Byrd’s timeless and Bible-focused message. There is also a selection of books and music discs to encourage growth and learning of the everlasting gospel. Click here to learn more - http://breathoflife.tv/

Find out what’s new from Pacific Press®, including Joe Wheeler’s Favorite Prayer Stories, Glimpses Into the Life of Ellen White by Jim Nix, and Guide’s Greatest Friendship Stories edited by Lori Peckham. The catalogue includes plenty of sweet summer specials and several coupons.

Be Inspired 

Making the Sabbath a Delight. Is the Sabbath really a “happy day” for our children? Here are some good ideas that you and your family can try out this coming Sabbath. Click here for the details.

If you want others to enjoy receiving this e-newsletter as much as you do, please invite them to sign up by going to www.saccentral.org/central-happenings

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