I Thank God When I Remember You

May 8, 2022

Josh Pollard

God has given us the antidote to loneliness. The Letter to Philemon will show us what it is.

I Thank God When I Remember You

May 8, 2022

Josh Pollard

God has given us the antidote to loneliness. The Letter to Philemon will show us what it is.


Philemon 1-7

Hello everyone, my name is Josh Pollard and I’m the Adult Ministries Pastor Here at Renovation Church

If you were here last week, we wrapped up our study of the Book of Luke and we are now jumping into a three-week study of the book of Philemon.

It is one of the shortest books in the whole bible - being only one chapter, 25 verses long.

What is amazing about this letter is that while it may seem small, obscure, and unimportant, when you study it, you will see is that this short letter is extremely practical for your life.

It’s a short personal letter from the apostle Paul to a man named Philemon. Which is very unique, usually Paul writes more broadly on theological topics to whole groups but this is more like personal pastoral ministry.

So, when we ask Why would God cause it so that this little obscure letter, out of all the letters that Paul probably wrote to people, be included in the scriptures, to be known as God’s word, to be authoritative in our lives, we must remember that even the shortest books in the Bible were inspired by a big God.

We believe that the Bible is the Lamp of truth in the darkness and even the smallest bits can light up our world.

We will see that God included this book primarily as a teaching on the relationships we have with each other.

Go ahead and open your Bibles and follow along. It’s small book, near the end of the Bible, so if Its hard to find, know that it’s just before Hebrews. If you are using the Bibles under your chairs, which you are welcomed to keep if you don’t have one, then we’ll be on page 816.

[Philemon 1-7

Page 816]

(Don’t put the whole passage up, just the reference and the page number, keep it up until I’d done reading it.)

Today we will begin our study by focusing on Verses 1-7, usually called the introduction and the thanksgiving.

and that might make you think that it’s unimportant and you can skip right over it to get to the main part of the letter but that’s not how the Bible works.

Like I said before, even the smallest bits of Scripture can light up our world. So before we get to Paul’s main purpose for writing this letter next week, we can really get a lot from today’s section if we look closely.

1 Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother,

To Philemon our dear friend and fellow worker— 2 also to Apphia our sister and Archippus our fellow soldier—and to the church that meets in your home:

3 Grace and peace to you[a] from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

4 I always thank my God as I remember you in my prayers, 5 because I hear about your love for all his holy people and your faith in the Lord Jesus. 6 I pray that your partnership with us in the faith may be effective in deepening your understanding of every good thing we share for the sake of Christ. 7 Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the Lord’s people.

[Go back to title Slide]

The description of a Christian

So, Paul writes this letter to Philemon. Paul and Philemon have a special relationship because, as we’ll see later in the letter that Philemon was led to Christ by Paul some time before. So Paul knows Philemon very well.

Paul describes Philemon as having

a deep love for God’s people and

a deep faith in the Lord Jesus.

He describes him as Paul’s partner,

a dear friend, and

fellow worker.

Paul says his love has given him great joy and

encouragement and that

he’s the type of man that refreshes the hearts of God’s people.

So let me ask you guys: When your community think about you, what is your reputation? -

Are they thankful for you?

Can they say that you have a deep faith in Christ and a deep love for his people?

Would they say you are a dear friend, a fellow worker, a joy and an encouragement? Do you refresh the hearts of God’s people?

The author Oscar Wilde once said, “Some cause happiness wherever they go; others whenever they go.” Which one describes you? Let us strive to be the kinds of people that brings refreshment wherever we go,

because that is the description of a Christian. Not perfect, but faithful and dependent on God and refreshing to God’s people.

Now you may have noticed that Philemon is not the only recipient. We’ve also got Apphia and Archippus.

Now we aren’t totally sure who Apphia or Archippus are but two leading theories. On is that Apphia is Philemon’s wife, and that Archippus is their son.

The other is that Apphia and Archippus are Philemon’s partners in ministry. Either way, this passage shows us a bit about who they were as individual followers of Christ.

If the theory about Apphia being Philemon’s wife and Archippus being their son is true, then it also tells us a few things about being a Christian Family.

We would have Philemon, the dad, who we’ve already looked at a description of that any good father would like to be described as. In fact, Philemon’s name even means “Loving” in Greek.

Then we’ve got Apphia, possibly Philemon’s wife. Apphia ‘s name, again quite telling, means productive or fruitful.

We don’t know much else about her but She’s addressed right alongside Philemon as an important person in the matter that Paul is addressing in the letter.

Women in the New Testament are always held is high regard and as serious partners in ministry. Paul calls her “our sister”, not meaning that she was literally their sister, but as a term of endearment showing how important and meaningful she was to him and the work they were doing.

And then we’ve got Archippus.

The first thing we learn from Archippus is not to read too much into name meanings because his name means Horse Master. Dads, the next time you have a kid and want to name him Horse Master, you just go right on ahead – It’s Biblical. I tried to name our last kid Osprey, after my favorite bird, but the wife wasn’t having it so… should have gone with Horse Master.

Paul calls him “our fellow-soldier.” If he is their son, then I think it’s informative for how we should view the young people in our Church. Not just as age group to reach, but as a group of fellow soldiers to include in our work. and we’ve structured much our church with that in mind.

- If you have kids or teens then bring them to the prayer meetings that we have before the service.

- And then, Check out the local outreach opportunities we do on our website, they were all intentionally chosen in part because young people can be involved in them.

- If you have High Schooler, sign up for a Renovation U class with them this summer.

Don’t just teach them about Jesus, show them what it looks like to follow Him.

The second things we might glean from this if he is there son is the need to have meaningful intergenerational relationship.

Paul is an old man and in prison at this point. Notice that and he doesn’t say, To Philemon and your family, or to Philemon, and Apphia, and the kids,

but he address Archippus directly.

Research shows that when young people have meaningful relationships with 5 adult Christians, they weather the storm of growing up and more often mature into adult Christians with a strong and useful faith.

For your kids, those five adults are going to be your friends, their friend’s parents, and their babysitters.

So often we think about protecting our kids from dangerous adults but we completely neglect helping them build good relationships with good adults.

So consider, who in your life can you intentionally help your kids build a relationship with?

The Church Family

If Philemon, Apphia, and Archippus are not family, at the very least they are a church family.

Whether we have a good family or not, God has given us a Church Family. This is extremely important.

You see, the Gospel changes everything.

Not only does it change your relationship with God but it also changes your relationship with people and when you become a child of God, you have siblings!

Now I have a bunch of kids at home and I have a bunch of siblings of my own and I have a bunch of aunts and uncles and I can tell you that being a sibling is hard work. It’s not always pretty. But when it goes well, Siblings can be the best things ever.

They are there through thick and thin. And we see that here in this passage. In verse 2 Paul calls Apphia “our sister”. In verse 7, he calls Philemon his “bother” and in Verse 3 he calls God “Our Father.”

When we come together as a church we are coming together as a family. A family that can get through thick and thin if we stick with each other, if we lean on each other.

It’s work sometimes, but with our Father’s help it can be so amazing.

Let’s look at verse 4-7

4 I always thank my God as I remember you in my prayers, 5 because I hear about your love for all his holy people and your faith in the Lord Jesus. 6 I pray that your partnership with us in the faith may be effective in deepening your understanding of every good thing we share for the sake of Christ. 7 Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the Lord’s people.

I read this section and I feel like it is such a good description of our church. Honestly.

I don’t think our church is perfect by any means - it’s made up of broken and messed up people. But I think we are pretty good brothers and sisters.


I think of our elders, all the guys that lead our house groups. I just had a meeting and three of them the other day and I could not help but feel so thankful for them. You elders, I know some of you are here, you refresh my heart and I pray and thank God for you,

you are such an encouragement not just to me but to so many of our brothers and sisters.


I think of all the small group leaders. If you were a small group leader this year, and there were almost 70 of you this year and I’m continually blown away at your faith and love for God’s people.

I had a meeting the other day with a man going through a hard time in his life and whenever we brought up his small group, he would choke up and get tears in his eyes, knowing that he had brothers there to support him.

I thank God for you small group leaders all the time when I pray.


And we see in verse 2 that Philemon had a church that met in his home. I think of our house group hosts from this past year and the impact that has had on this church’s ability to be a family and not just a group of strangers.

Having a church in your home is a time-honored tradition that goes all the way back to the earliest days, and I thank God for your partnership in the faith.

It’s a short personal letter from the apostle Paul to a man named Philemon.


And I think of all of the volunteers and especially ministry team leaders that serve every Sunday! Their love for this church gives me such great joy and encouragement! Where would we be without them.


And I think of the staff that I get to serve with each day. They have each become dear friends to me that have helped me glorify and enjoy our God each day. It is humbling to see them in action.

And when I get down and my heart is low, I know I can be refreshed by my brothers and sisters. I always am!

So thank you to all of you that I get to serve along side in this church. It’s an honor and privilege to have you all as my fellow workers and a great joy to have you as my brothers and sisters.

When God called us into his family, it was such a great gift to get one another as siblings.

Thank you, God, for these people.

Do you guys remember how Jesus said people will know that we are his disciples?

[put John 13:35 on the screen just for the moment while I say it.]

In John 13:35 he says “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

And do you know who it tells us to take care of in Galatians 6:10? It says

[put Galatians 6:10 on the screen just for the moment while I say it.]

“…as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.” God has given us a special relationship with each other and a special responsibility to each other.

[Go back to title Slide]

We say all the time here that Renovation isn’t a cruise ship, it’s a row boat, so pick up an oar.

So, If you are newer to this family, don’t just sit back and observe, but take small steps and get plugged in.

We need you in our lives. Join a Renovation U class next month, join a ministry team today, get connected to this family because we would love to be connected with you.

The Christian Motivation

So we see here that the Gospel changes strangers into families and houses into churches buildings, and friends into forces for love.

The Gospel, does amazing things, but before we conclude we must be sure to ground ourselves in why it does such amazing things.

How is it that it has such an impact on relationships?

Well, the answer to that is right in verse 6 where Paul says “I pray that your partnership with us in the faith may be effective in deepening your understanding of every good thing we share for the sake of Christ.”

You see, we don’t work hard to be good people just because it’s the moral and ethical thing to do.

We don’t serve just because it’s so fun – no one has even been like “I love welcoming people at the door so much, I need to go find a church or something so that I can enjoy my pastime of greeting people at the door more often.”

No one accepts the call to be a Small Group Leader just to fill all the free time they have.

People don’t usually come to church on Sunday just because it’s so relaxing to get everyone ready and out the door on time.

We do these things so that our understanding of the goodness of our God will be deepened.

We do these things to know him better as our Good Father, as a servant king, and a caring friend.

Our relationships as people are altered by the gospel, because our relationship with God is altered by the Gospel.

Because we have seen Goodness in him, we want to be good to others.

Because we know him as a good father, we want to be good parents.

Because we know he is humble and gentle and kind, we want to be humble and gentle and kind to one another.

We come together as a church family, so that we can grow together to know our Father in heaven better and better.

You see, the Gospel, which just means Good News, The Good News is that our Father in Heaven, who is completely Just and completely holy and perfect, would choose in his divine wisdom to also be gentle and slow to anger, and would send Jesus, the Son of God, to come to earth and die in our place.

That news is something that we share together.

It is a powerful shift in reality in how we view each other. We are no longer needing to be at odds with each other but we can know that we are on even footing in front of our Heavenly Father.

Broken, messed up, unsure, lonely , confused, hurt, and sinful.

We share this knowledge that compared to God we are nothing, but to God we are everything, we are his precious beloved children.

And when we have our eyes on that we can care for each other through even the most challenging times.


So if you are tired of doing life on your own, and you see the goodness of God in the gift of his family, know that you are welcomed. He wants you to be his child as too, and we want you as a sibling.

No matter what you’ve been through, or who you are, or what you have done, know that you are welcomed in this family, God’s family.

And know that God will change you. When you join this family you fall so in love with God that He helps you become more and more like him and less and less like your old self.

And you’ll see that the greatest refreshment of your heart, the greatest joy, is not something here on this earth, but it is God himself. And you will get more joy from Him then anything worldly thing that you’ve ever experienced.

To join the family you have to go to the Father first and you have to put your trust in him. And you have to turn from your old life and give yourself to him.

It may sound scary but you won’t be alone, we’ve all been in that same position and you’ll get an entire family to walk alongside you and help you.

And when you go to the Father you will find that His gentle and understanding arms have been waiting for you, and that he is so glad that you are finally home where you belong.

So I want to give anyone that wants to do that, and to go to God and join his family and begin the process of knowing Him more deeply, an opportunity to do just that.

So I’m going to have everyone close your eyes to give everyone a moment of privacy with God. [If you are already a believer then pray for those around you. We pray the impossible because with God all things are possible.]

And if you are tired of living alone, and want to be adopted into the family of God then here is an opportunity to do that. If you know that it’s time to turn your life over to God and become his child then what I want you to do is just raise your hand.

[If someone raised their hand]

For those of you that raised your hand, we want to pray with you. We want to go to our Father with you.

So let’s all pray this prayer together. It’s not magic but it’s a good starting place for a young faith and a good reminder for an old faith because this is what we all believe.

Repeat after me

1. Dear God

a. I confess to you, that I have sinned against you.

b. But God I believe, that you sent your Son Jesus, to take my place

c. And God, I thank you, for forgiving my sins.

d. And now I commit, to following you, with my life.

Now while everyone is still praying and thanking God for this amazing miracle, for those of you that rose your hand, you’ve just made the most important decision of your life, so we want to give you some more information about what comes next. So, in a second here I’m going to pray and we’re going to move into a final song, and I want you to head out into the lobby where it’s a bit quieter and Our follow up team and I will get you some more information. You won’t walk out alone, there will be others that walk out with you, and our follow up team as well.

The rest of us, let’s praise God during this last song for nothing other than who He is our Good Father.

Alright, I’m going to pray so you can head on out.


[If no one raises their hand]

Then let me join you all in prayer.


Copyright: Josh Pollard
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN

You may use this material all you like! We only ask that you do not charge a fee and that you quote the source and not say it is your own.