Daily Archives: April 15, 2018

April 15: I’ll Take the Arrow

Deuteronomy 29:1–29; 2 Corinthians 7:8–16; Psalm 42:1–43:5

“Better is an arrow from a friend than a kiss from an enemy.”

When I first heard this saying, I was struck by what a truism it is. It wasn’t until years later, though, that I began surrounding myself with wise friends who would tell me the truth even when it was difficult to hear.

Paul was a true friend to the Corinthians, and it’s for this reason that he rebuked them: “For if indeed I grieved you by my letter, I do not regret it.… For grief according to the will of God brings about a repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted, but worldly grief brings about death” (2 Cor 7:8, 10).

I recently felt God asking me to rebuke someone. I was hesitant at first, but I followed through. Afterward, I was tempted to lighten the weight of my words by writing a follow-up explanation, but I was certain that it wasn’t God’s will that I do so; I felt that nearly all the words I had spoken were in His will. I had to be confident that the rebuke had power to lead the person to repentance and that the repentance could lead to salvation. I shouldn’t regret what I had done, but embrace it.

Moses had a similar experience to Paul’s. He spoke harsh words into the lives of the Israelites when renewing God’s covenant with them. He said things like: “You have not eaten bread, and you have not drunk wine and strong drink, so that you may know that I am Yahweh your God” (Deut 29:6). When the Israelites were deprived of things they thought they deserved, it was so that they could learn about God; such deprivation would force them to be dependent upon Yahweh.

I had another experience lately where I was on the receiving end of a truthful rebuke. My typical response is defensiveness, but I sensed from my friend’s voice that he was genuine. He was speaking words of experience, love, and godly wisdom. God worked in my heart and I listened. Even though they hurt, I had to be thankful for the wise words. As I’ve been tempted to fall into my old patterns since then, that rebuke continues to make a difference. I’m thankful for honest friends.

We often use the phrase “Judge not lest you be judged” as an excuse for not speaking the truth to someone (Matt 7:1). But Paul clearly didn’t use it that way. He understood that he was the worst of sinners, and he gladly admitted it. In grace, he issued rebukes.

Judging people incorrectly and out of hate or envy is a problem in our world. But so is failing to speak up when we see someone going astray. Paul didn’t judge—rather, he stated that God would judge according to His plans and oracles. Paul said it like it was, based on what God led him to say. He didn’t degrade people; he promoted godly behavior.

Do you have godly friends who speak honest words to you? If not, how can you go about making friends that will? How can you be open to speaking the truth to others without judging them?

John D. Barry[1]

[1] Barry, J. D., & Kruyswijk, R. (2012). Connect the Testaments: A One-Year Daily Devotional with Bible Reading Plan. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

April 15 Showing Mercy

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy” (Matt. 5:7).


There are many ways to show mercy.

God delights in mercy, and as a believer you have the privilege of showing mercy in many ways. In the physical realm you can give money to the poor, food to the hungry, or a bed to the homeless. God has always wanted His people to be that way. Deuteronomy 15 says, “If there is a poor man with you … you shall not harden your heart, nor close your hand from [him]; but you shall freely open your hand to him, and shall generously lend him sufficient for his need in whatever he lacks” (vv. 7–8). Verses 12–14 instruct Israelites who release a slave to provide for the slave’s needs. That was the merciful thing to do.

In the spiritual realm you can show mercy by pitying the lost. St. Augustine said, “If I weep for that body from which the soul is departed, how should I weep for that soul from which God is departed?” (cited by Thomas Watson in The Beatitudes, p. 144). We mourn over the dead, but do we mourn as much for lost souls? When Stephen was being stoned, he pitied his wretched murderers, asking God to forgive them (Acts 7:60). Jesus did the same (Luke 23:34). That should be our attitude as well.

Another way of showing mercy is to rebuke sin. Second Timothy 2:24–25 says, “The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all … with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth.” It is merciful and loving to rebuke sinners because it gives them a chance to repent and be forgiven.

Prayer is also an act of mercy, as is preaching the gospel. In fact, sharing Christ with someone is the most merciful thing you can do!

There are many more ways to be merciful, but I hope these will stimulate your thinking and will encourage you to discover as many ways as possible to pass on the abundant mercy God has shown to you.


Suggestions for Prayer:  Thank God for the mercies you have received from others. ✧ Take advantage of every opportunity to minister to others.

For Further Study: Determine who receives mercy according to the following verses: Matthew 6:14; Titus 3:5–6; Hebrews 4:14–16; James 2:13; and 1 Peter 2:9–10.[1]

[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 118). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.


I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal.

1 Corinthians 3:1

Read your New Testament again and you will agree that mediocrity in the Christian life is not the highest that Jesus offers. Certainly God is not honored by our arrested spiritual development—our permanent halfway spiritual condition.

We all know that the Bible tells us that we honor God by going on to full maturity in Christ!

Why, then, do we settle for those little pleasures that tickle the saintlets and charm the fancy of the carnal?

It is because we once heard a call to take up the cross and instead of following toward the heights, we bargained with the Lord like a street huckster! We felt an urge to be spent for Christ, but instead of going on, we started asking questions. We began to bicker and bargain with God about His standards for spiritual attainment.

This is plain truth—not about unbelieving “liberals”—but about those who have been born again and who dare to ask, “Lord, what will it cost me?”

O Lord, in my heart of hearts I desire to honor You by going on to full maturity in Christ. Help me not to be satisfied with mediocrity.[1]

[1] Tozer, A. W. (2015). Mornings with tozer: daily devotional readings. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

All the Messages and Panels from T4G posted in order


The messages from T4G are already posted on the T4G website. All the plenary sessions and the panels posted in order below. Lig Duncan’s is one you’ll want to listen to, so I featured it above.
















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Returning to Rome: How Mystical “Contemplative Spirituality” is Drawing Evangelicals Into the Cult of Catholicism

Absolute Truth from the Word of God

My research on a pastor who insists that our God and Allah are one and the same, made me curious as to what other errant teachings might also abound in the Evangelical churches. Suddenly, I realized that I was seeing only the proverbial tip of the iceberg.

“Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.” Acts 20:30 (KJV)

It seems that the Emergent Church which teaches Contemplative Spirituality/Mysticism (CSM) has slithered its way into our Evangelical churches. The proper spirituality of the Christian, being sola Scriptura, is being replaced by Spiritual Mysticism, which can be traced back to the Roman Catholic church.

When preachers lose sight of their need to depend on and teach from the Word of God alone, their lofty and contrived ideas land them on a slippery slope which eventually leads to total apostasy.

What is Contemplative Spirituality?

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Putin: History pinned blame on US for ‘bloody carnage’ in Yugoslavia & Iraq, same will be with Syria

History will set things straight on Syria for the US, which is already responsible for a chain of “bloody carnage” in other countries, Russian President Vladimir Putin said following the US-led attack on the country.
Read Full Article at RT.com

‘Double standards: US, UK, France stand by Saudis in Yemen but pose as moral crusaders in Syria’

The Syria attack reveals the hypocrisy of the West – which fuels the Saudi-led bombing campaign in Yemen despite documented abuses – but relies on unverified claims to punish Syria, journalist and broadcaster Neil Clark told RT.
Read Full Article at RT.com


Article Image
• thedailybell.com By John Vibes


Unfortunately, as we are seeing with the Syrian escalation, governments thrive on war, as it gives them a pressing excuse to grab more power and take extrajudicial measures—both at home and abroad.

To get around the obstacle of public opinion, governments have an extensive history of lying their way into war. This is hard to believe for people who think that government has their best interest in mind, but it is something that rulers have been doing since the beginning of time. In the modern United States, people are led to believe that the establishment accidentally flounders its way into war with the good intentions of protecting the country from harm or liberating an ally in distress.

Laura Ingraham, Alex Jones and Other Right-Wing Media Allies Turn on Trump…

https://www.yahoo.com, Tom Porter


Some of Donald Trump’s most fervent supporters in the media turned on the president Friday over his decision to launch military strikes against Syria in retaliation for an alleged chemical weapons attack.

On Fox News, hosts Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham were uncharacteristically critical of the president, questioning Trump’s decision to launch the strikes.

Fox News’ Laura Ingraham criticised Trump over his decision to launch airstrikes against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad Screen grab

“I guess it feels good because there are horrible things happening there,” Ingraham said, sparring with former White House official Sebastian Gorka. “But what do we really accomplish here tonight in Syria? This is not why Donald Trump got elected.”

Noting Trump’s criticism of the Iraq war on the 2016 campaign trail, Carlson remarked “This is clearly not something he ran on, and and it’s inconsistent with a lot of things that he’s said over the years.”

Russian Foreign Ministry on Syria and Skripal False Flag

by Stephen Lendman (stephenlendman.org – Home – Stephen Lendman)

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova (MZ below) commented on Syria before overnight Friday US-led aggression.

Conditions in the country remain hugely dangerous and deplorable, liberating East Ghouta entirely from US-supported terrorists the only good news.

MZ: “(O)n April (al-Qaeda-linked) White Helmets) report(ed) on (an alleged) chemical attack (in) Douma” – the Big Lie used as a pretext for overnight Friday US-led aggression on Syrian targets.

MZ described “the absurd video sequence shot by the…White Helmets in which children and adults are seen spraying water on each other.”

“They presented it as evidence that chemical weapons were used. News agencies that pretend to be respectable also took on face value another astoundingly fake report showing a half-ton bomb lying on a neatly made-up bed against the background of a shattered window with intact glass.”

“All the opponents of Syria’s legitimate government called on the international community and primarily the US to interfere and punish…Damascus…What a classical scenario” – the aftermath now known.

“Russian military personnel, including doctors and experts in protection against chemical weapons visited Douma where the chemical weapons attack allegedly happened, but did not find neither any signs that chemical weapons were used  nor any victims of the mythical attack.”

Facts on the ground don’t deter ruthless US imperial aims or tactics. Multiple Syrian targets were terror-bombed – based on a Big Lie.

MZ: “At the same time, major international media outlets and official representatives of foreign capitals remain silent on the discovery of large stockpiles of chemical weapons in warehouses of the terrorists in liberated parts of Eastern Ghouta.”

Facts conflicting with or exposing the official narrative are suppressed, disinformation alone featured.

The World Health Organization (WHO) disgraced itself by supporting the Big Lie about Douma, its information coming from White Helmet terrorists and scoundrel media propaganda.

Its top officials were unavailable for comment, MZ explained.

On April 11, a bus with Russian journalists aboard was attacked returning to Damascus from East Ghouta after filming the enclave’s liberation, said MZ – one journalist and two cameramen wounded.

MZ: “Everyone knows about the information campaign, or rather warfare of the UK authorities against Russia over the so-called Skripal case.”

“They are using all the propaganda means and methods they can get their hands on. It is a long time since we last saw an ill-disguised and unscrupulous anti-Russia campaign of this dimension.”

“The UK authorities are disregarding the standards of international law, diplomatic rules and principles, and elementary human ethics.”

“New versions and more discrepancies are coming to light” – exposing official Big Lies.

Following MZ’s report, Swiss state Spiez lab analysis of the substance harming father and daughter Skripal revealed it’s an incapacitating 3-Quinuclidinyl benzilate or BZ toxin – not a novichok military-grade nerve agent as falsely reported.

BZ is harmful but not lethal – why Yulia Skripal and UK detective Nick Bailey recovered enough to be discharged from hospitalization, Sergey Skripal markedly improved.

The Swiss lab analyzed samples provided to the OPCW by Britain. The organization shamefully rubber-stamped the official UK claim, falsely calling the toxin novichok.

Swiss lab analysis proved otherwise. London continues stonewalling Russia, refusing to answer key questions on the Salisbury incident.

MZ: “We do not see any intention on the part of the UK authorities to disprove false information planted in the media and blatant lies.”

“(T)his massive propaganda campaign involving all types of media is fully in keeping with London’s anti-Russia strategy.”

“The UK authorities are actually encouraging the deliberate distortion of facts. It is clear why they are doing this.”

“If government agencies and (Western) media…decided to get to the bottom of this case, if they started questioning (the official narrative), this would have rocked the European public’s belief in Russia’s alleged involvement.”

“And the people would have asked the question that should have been addressed to London earlier on in the case: What has really happened at Salisbury?”

It was a US/UK false flag demonizing Russia – followed by the Douma false flag and aftermath.

More of the same is virtually certain to come, likely making a bad situation far worse.

Is East/West confrontation just a matter of time? Is global war unavoidable? Humanity holds its breath fearing the worst.

The lunatic in the White House surrounded and influenced by crazies makes the unthinkable possible.

Source: Russian Foreign Ministry on Syria and Skripal False Flag

April 15, 2018 Afternoon Verse Of The Day

The Speech of Prayer

Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving. (4:2)

It is fitting that Paul begins with prayer, because it is the most important speech the new man can utter. Prayer is the strength of the believer’s fellowship with the Lord and the source of his power against Satan and his angels (cf. Eph. 6:18). Through prayer, believers confess their sin, offer praise to God, call on their sympathetic High Priest (Heb. 4:15–16), and intercede for each other. Prayer from a pure heart (Ps. 66:18) is to be directed to God (Matt. 6:9), consistent with the mind and will of the Holy Spirit (Eph. 6:18), in the name of Christ, and for the glory of the Father (John 14:13).

In 4:2, Paul touches on an often overlooked aspect of prayer, that of perseverance. Devote yourselves is from proskartereō, a compound word made up of kartereō (“to be steadfast,” or “to endure”) with an added preposition that intensifies the meaning. The verb means “to be courageously persistent,” “to hold fast and not let go.” Paul is calling strongly on believers to persist in prayer. They are to “pray at all times” (Eph. 6:18; cf. Luke 18:1), “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17), and be devoted to prayer (Rom. 12:12). By so doing, they follow the example of Cornelius (Acts 10:2) and the apostles (Acts 6:4).

Praying at all times is not necessarily limited to constant vocalizing of prayers to God. Rather, it refers to a God consciousness that relates every experience in life to Him. That does not, however, obviate the need for persistence and earnestness in prayer. Such persistence is illustrated repeatedly in Scripture. The 120 disciples gathered in the Upper Room “were continually devoting themselves to prayer” (Acts 1:14). The early church followed their example (cf. Acts 2:42).

Our Lord told two parables illustrating the importance of persistent prayer:

Now He was telling them a parable to show that at all times they ought to pray and not to lose heart, saying, “There was in a certain city a judge who did not fear God, and did not respect man. And there was a widow in that city, and she kept coming to him, saying, ‘Give me legal protection from my opponent.’ And for a while he was unwilling; but afterward he said to himself, ‘Even though I do not fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow bothers me, I will give her legal protection, lest by continually coming she wear me out.’ ” And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge said; now shall not God bring about justice for His elect, who cry to Him day and night, and will He delay long over them? I tell you that He will bring about justice for them speedily.” (Luke 18:1–8)

And He said to them, “Suppose one of you shall have a friend, and shall go to him at midnight, and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves; for a friend of mine has come to me from a journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; and from inside he shall answer and say, ‘Do not bother me; the door has already been shut and my children and I are in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything.’ I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will get up and give him as much as he needs. And I say to you, ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it shall be opened.” (Luke 11:5–10)

The point of both those parables is that if unwilling and sinful humans will honor persistence, how much more will our holy, loving heavenly Father?

Virginia Stem Owens wrote the following about wrestling with God in earnest prayer:

Christians have always interpreted the splitting of the temple veil during the crucifixion as symbolic of their liberation from the mediated presence of God. Henceforth they were “free” to approach him directly—which is almost like telling someone he is “free” to stick his head in the lion’s jaws. For once you start praying there is no guarantee that you won’t find yourself before Pharaoh, shipwrecked on a desert island, or in a lion’s den.

This is no cosmic teddy bear we are cuddling up to. As one of the children describes him in C. S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia, “he’s not a tame lion.” [Jacques] Ellul is convinced that prayer for persons living in the technological age must be combat, and not just combat with the Evil One, with one’s society, or even one’s divided self, though it is also all of these; it is combat with God. We too must struggle with him just as Jacob did at Peniel where he earned his name Israel—“he who strives with God.” We too must be prepared to say, “I will not let you go till you bless me.”

Consider Moses, again and again intervening between the Israelites and God’s wrath; Abraham praying for Sodom; the widow demanding justice of the unjust judge. But in this combat with God, Ellul cautions, we must be ready to bear the consequences: … “Jacob’s thigh was put out of joint, and he went away lame. However, the most usual experience will be God’s decision to put to work the person who cried out to him.… Whoever wrestles with God in prayer puts his whole life at stake.”

Awful things happen to people who pray. Their plans are frequently disrupted. They end up in strange places. Abraham “went out, not knowing where he was to go”.… After Mary’s magnificent prayer at the annunciation, she finds herself the pariah of Nazareth society.… How tempting to up the stakes, making prayer merely another consumer product. How embarrassing to have to admit not only that prayer may get you into a prison, as it did Jeremiah, but also that while you’re moldering away in a miry pit there, you may have a long list of lamentations and unanswered questions to present to your Lord. How are we going to tell them they may end up lame and vagrant if they grasp hold of this God? (“Prayer—Into the Lion’s Jaws,” Christianity Today, November 19, 1976, pp. 222–23; italics in the original)

That stands in marked contrast to the glib, self-centered prayers of our day. Much of the contemporary church has lost its reverence for God. He is too often viewed as a sort of cosmic automatic teller machine. If we punch in the right code, He’s obligated to deliver what we want. The Lord might well ask the twentieth-century church what He asked the rebellious priests of Malachi’s day: “ ‘A son honors his father, and a servant his master. Then if I am a father, where is My honor? And if I am a master, where is My respect?’ says the Lord of hosts” (Mal. 1:6).

True prayer often involves struggling and grappling with God, proving to Him the deepest concern of one’s heart. Prayer is to be a persistent, courageous struggle from which the believer may come away limping.

Such prayer gives the believer a holy boldness to pray forcefully when convinced of God’s will, as the following example shows.

In 1540 Luther’s great friend and assistant, Friedrich Myconius, became sick and was expected to die within a short time. On his bed he wrote a loving farewell note to Luther with a trembling hand. Luther received the letter and sent back a reply: “I command thee in the name of God to live because I still have need of thee in the work of reforming the church.… The Lord will never let me hear that thou art dead, but will permit thee to survive me. For this I am praying, this is my will, and may my will be done, because I seek only to glorify the name of God.”

Those words are shocking to us, but they were certainly heartfelt. Although Myconius had already lost the ability to speak when Luther’s letter came, he recovered completely and lived six more years to survive Luther himself by two months.

There is a tension between boldness and waiting on God’s will. That tension is resolved by being persistent, yet accepting God’s answer when it finally comes.

True prayer also involves keeping alert. In its most basic sense, that means to stay awake and not fall asleep during prayer. While in Gethsamane, Jesus “came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, ‘So, you men could not keep watch with Me for one hour? Keep watching and praying, that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak’ ” (Matt. 26:40–41). It is impossible to pray while sleeping. Christians should choose times when they are awake and alert to pray.

Paul’s thought here, however, is broader than mere physical alertness. He also means that believers should look for those things about which they ought to be praying. Christians sometimes pray vague, general prayers that are difficult for God to answer because they do not really ask anything specific. To be devoted to prayer requires something specific to pray for. We will never persistently pray for something we are not concerned about. And to be concerned, we must be alert to specific needs.

A third element in prayer is an attitude of thanksgiving. This is the fifth time that Paul has mentioned gratitude in this epistle. Believers are to be grateful for salvation (1:12), for growth (2:6), for fellowship with Christ and His church (3:15), for the opportunity to serve (3:17), and, here, for the guarantee that God will answer prayer in accordance with His purpose. That, of course, is what is best for our good in time and our glory in eternity.

When believers pray, they can begin by being thankful for the following spiritual blessings and privileges. First, believers are to be thankful for God’s presence. In Psalm 75:1, the psalmist writes, “We give thanks to Thee, O God, we give thanks, for Thy name is near.” Second, believers are to be thankful for God’s provision. Adrift at sea in the midst of a raging storm, Paul nevertheless was grateful to God for the food He provided: “He took bread and gave thanks to God in the presence of all” (Acts 27:35). Third, believers are to be thankful for God’s pardon. Paul said in Romans 6:17, “Thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed.” Christians should be grateful for their salvation. Fourth, believers are to be thankful for God’s promise: “Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 15:57; cf. 2 Cor. 2:14). “For as many as may be the promises of God, in Him they are yes; wherefore also by Him is our Amen to the glory of God through us” (2 Cor. 1:20). Finally, believers are to be thankful for God’s purpose: “We know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Rom. 8:28).[1]

2 Earlier in the letter, Paul informed the Colossians that he and Timothy prayed incessantly for them (1:3, 9). In concluding the epistle, he informs the congregation that Epaphras is always agonizing in prayer on their behalf (4:12). Here, the apostle enjoins the assembly to persevere in prayer (cf. Ro 12:12; Eph 6:18; 1 Th 5:17). Paul presupposes the importance of prayer and encourages believers to be at prayer (cf. 1 Co 7:5; Php 4:6). He shared a commitment to prayer with his fellow Jews, including Jesus, and with the early church (Mt 6:5–13; Lk 5:16; Ac 1:14; 2:42; Jas 5:13–18).

The Colossians are to devote themselves to and be “watchful” in prayer. Holding spiritual sleep in abeyance, they are to be alert in prayer and not to succumb to slumber as Jesus’ disciples did in the garden of Gethsemane (Mt 26:40–46). Watchful prayer enables disciples to see what God is doing and to discern what sinister forces might be seeking to undo (cf. 1 Pe 5:8). The eschatological orientation of Paul’s admonition to be watchful in prayer should be noted. The gospel of Luke explicitly conjoins watching and praying with Christ’s coming (Lk 21:36; cf. also Mk 13:32–37), and it is altogether likely that Paul is tapping into this stream of Jesus tradition (so, rightly, Dunn, 262; contra Caird, 210).

In addition to being watchful in prayer, the Colossians are to be “thankful” in their praying. Thanksgiving, a theme woven through this letter, appears here for the final time (cf. 1:3, 12; 2:7; 3:15–17). Gratitude is a grace that Christian people are to cultivate. Instead of continually complaining to or presuming upon God, believers would do well to recall that we have nothing that we did not receive from God (1 Co 4:7), the One from whom and through whom and to whom all good things flow (Ro 11:36; cf. Jas 1:17). Paul would have concurred with the psalmist: “It is good to give thanks to the Lord” (Ps 92:1 NASB). His admonition to the Thessalonians is applicable to all Christians in all places at all times: “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Th 5:18; cf. Eph 5:20). Thankfulness should be threaded through our lives even as it is throughout this letter.[2]

Prayer and the believer (vv. 2)

Does God really answer prayer? If so, God’s Children need to ‘continue [persevere] earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving’. Prayer prevails with God because we are his adopted Children (Gal. 4:6). These words echo the words of our Saviour who taught that ‘men always ought to pray and not lose heart’ (Luke 18:1). Time must be set aside for prayer. Jesus told the parables of the friend at midnight (Luke 11:5–8) and the unjust judge (Luke 18:1–8) to encourage us to intercede until the answers come.

prayer is a battle: ‘continue earnestly in prayer’. Mental, emotional and physical effort is involved in prayer, and one can feel exhausted by it all. This is because it has to do with the whole person. Thus when we pray the mind is engaged (1 Cor. 14:15), the will is involved (Acts 12:5) and the heart is burdened (James 5:16). This is illustrated both by our Saviour in Gethsemane, where he was ‘exceedingly sorrowful, even to death’ (Matt. 26:38–44), and by Jacob, when he wrestled in prayer at Peniel and would not let Jehovah go until he was blessed by him (Gen. 32:24–31).

prayer is a ministry: ‘being vigilant in it’. Prayer is vital if the ‘spoilers’ are not to corrupt the minds and hearts of the believing members. Satan wants to irritate and distract with disputes, problems, etc., but it is a saint’s duty to bring all these issues to God in prayer. When this is done, Satan will fail and the ‘spoilers’ will not succeed (James 4:8). Prayer cannot be made if you are asleep, as it is wakeful fellowship and communion with the Father through the Son by the help of the Holy Spirit (Matt. 26:40–41a).

prayer brings victory: ‘with thanksgiving’. Prayer brings victory when it is full of thanksgiving. Paul adds the element of thanksgiving deliberately, because praise of this sort ‘imparts spiritual freshness to prayer’ (Carson). Let every Christian be grateful for grace, happy about holiness and delighted with so great a salvation (1 Thes. 5:18). The Fatherhood of God is evident here, and the mystical spiritual relationship which believers have with Christ is emphasized. The best types of prayers are those ‘according to his will’ (1 John 5:14–15). Jesus taught us in the Lord’s Prayer to say ‘Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven’ (Matt. 6:10). Faith tells us that God’s good pleasure is best for us because his wisdom is to be preferred to ours. We need therefore to submit to his will with meekness, while putting away self-will and pride.[3]

4:2 / The opening verse in this section continues the ideas on corporate worship that were developed in 3:16–18. The summons to devote yourselves to prayer is a theme that is repeated a number of times in the nt (Luke 18:1; Acts 1:14; 1:24; 6:4; Rom. 12:12; Eph. 6:18). This idea of persistence is emphasized by the additional exhortation to be watchful (grēgoreō) and thankful. Thus it is not just the importance of prayer but the manner in which it is offered that is stressed.

This exhortation may be a caution against casualness in prayer. The call to “watchfulness” formed one of the categories of the baptismal (catechetical) instruction that was given to new Christians (cf. Eph. 6:18–20: “Pray … be alert”; 1 Pet. 4:7; “clear minded … pray”; 5:8: “Be self-controlled and alert”). Its inclusion in Colossians is another example of traditional material that was taken over and applied to the situation at Colossae.

Prayer is to be offered in thanksgiving. This is the seventh time that thanksgiving is mentioned in the letter (1:3, 12; 2:7; 3:15, 16, 17). Both thanksgiving and prayer are appropriate responses of the Christian and should be exercised by the worshiping community as well as by the individual. It is the pattern that Paul followed in the letter as he thanked God for the Colossians (1:3–8) and then prayed specifically for them (1:9–14).[4]

Communication: Sharing Our Most with God (v. 2)

Supporting Idea: Believers should pray with diligence, awareness, and thanks.

4:2. Paul has reminded believers that they are identified with an extraordinary Christ who has absolute supremacy. He has called believers (ordinary people) to live their ordinary lives in an extraordinary way. How is the believer to accomplish such a challenging assignment? Is assistance available? Yes. The believer is not alone in a world of temptation and deception. Strength and perspective are always available by looking above in prayer. Paul exhorts believers to pray with (1) diligence, (2) awareness, (3) gratitude.

Prayer should be done with diligence. Devote means “be busily engaged in,” persist in, or give constant attention.” Prayer in the believer’s life is not just an option for occasional emergencies. If believers are to withstand the constant pressures of a fallen and unfriendly world, an attitude of persistence and perseverance in prayer is needed.

Watchful literally means “stay awake” and refers to an attitude of being spiritually alert. Using the same term, Peter encouraged his readers to “be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Pet. 5:8, emphasis added). Believers need to be alert because Satan wants to devour them. Colossians tells believers to be alert because false teachers want to deceive them. Believers need to be aware of the evil forces which seek to tantalize and capture them. If believers wish to be wide awake in their prayer life, the insight of C. S. Lewis can be helpful:

No one in his senses, if he has any power of ordering his own day, would reserve his chief prayers for bedtime—obviously the worst possible hour for any action which needs concentration.… My own plan, when hard pressed, is to seize any time, and place, however unsuitable, in preference to the last waking moment.… The body ought to pray as well as the head” (The Joyful Christian, New York: Macmillan Publishing Co., 1977, 88–89).

Finally, Paul calls believers to thankful prayer. Believers who pray with gratitude for God’s blessing will be less likely to be led astray by the lures and lies of the enemy.[5]

4:2. As Paul is now approaching the close of the letter he issues certain admonitions of a general nature, as in 3:1–17; with emphasis on the positive, cf. 3:12–17. It is not surprising that, having spoken about the word (3:16), the apostle now stresses the importance of prayer, for word and prayer belong together: in the former God speaks to us, in the latter we to him. Says Paul: Persevere in prayer. Prayer is the most important expression of the new life. As such it is the means of obtaining for ourselves and for others the satisfaction of needs, both physical and spiritual. It is also a divinely appointed weapon against the sinister attack of the devil and his angels, the vehicle for confession of sin, and the instrument whereby the grateful soul pours out its spontaneous adoration before the throne of God on high. Accordingly, perseverance in prayer is urged. See also Acts 1:14; Rom. 12:12; Eph. 6:18. This is in keeping with the teaching of Jesus in which he admonished his disciples to persevere in prayer, and not to lose heart when a petition is not immediately answered (Acts 18:1–8). Paul adds, keeping alert in it. This admonition to remain fully awake in prayer reminds one of Matt. 26:41; Mark 14:38; Luke 22:40, 46. Yet, in these Gospel passages the wakefulness referred to is to be taken more literally, as the respective contexts indicate. What the apostle has in mind is that, while continuing in prayer, the worshiper shall be alive to such matters as: a. his own needs and those of the family, church, country, world, b. the dangers that threaten the Christian community, c. the blessings received and promised, and (last but not least) d. the will of God. Cf. Acts 20:31; 1 Cor. 16:13; 1 Thess. 5:6; 1 Peter 5:8; Rev. 3:2, 3. From the Greek verb which expresses this necessity of being vigilant—a form of grēgoréō (I am awake, I remain alert)—the early Christians coined a favorite proper name: Gregory.

Now when one is deeply and humbly conscious of blessings received and promised he will express his gratitude to God. Hence, Paul continues: with thanksgiving. Cf. Eph. 5:20; 6:18; Phil. 4:6; 1 Thess. 5:18; and see also above, on Col. 3:15, 17. It is worthy of note that the apostle wedges his admonitions to particular groups (3:18–4:1) in between two reminders to give thanks to God (2:17 and 4:2), as if to say, “Wives, husbands, children. fathers, slaves, masters, obey these instructions spontaneously, prompted by gratitude for the many blessings received.”

It should be borne in mind that the man who issues this directive is a prisoner. However, this prisoner is able to thank God even for his chains (Phil. 1:12–14). Surely, on the basis of the thought expressed so beautifully in Rom. 8:28 the believer can be thankful for whatever happens to him.[6]

4:2 Paul never tires of exhorting the people of God to be diligent in their prayer life. Doubtless one of the regrets we all will have when we get to heaven will be that we did not spend more time in prayer, especially when we will realize the extent to which our prayers were answered. There is a great deal of mystery in connection with the whole subject of prayer, many questions which cannot be answered. But the best attitude for the Christian is not to seek to analyze, dissect, or understand prayer’s deeper mysteries. The best approach is to keep praying in simple faith, leaving aside one’s intellectual doubts.

Not only are we to continue earnestly in prayer, but we are also to be vigilant in it. This immediately reminds us of the Lord Jesus’ request to the disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane: “Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation.” They were not vigilant, and so fell sound asleep. Not only are we to watch against sleep, but also against wandering thoughts, listlessness, and unreality. And we are to watch to see that we are not robbed of time for prayer (Eph. 6:18). Then again, our prayers are to be with thanksgiving. Not only are we to be thankful for past answers to prayer, but in faith we can also thank the Lord for prayers He has not answered. Guy King summarizes nicely: “His love wants the best for us; His wisdom knows the best for us; and His power gets the best for us.”[7]

[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1992). Colossians (pp. 179–183). Chicago: Moody Press.

[2] Still, T. D. (2006). Colossians. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians–Philemon (Revised Edition) (Vol. 12, p. 345). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[3] McNaughton, I. S. (2006). Opening up Colossians and Philemon (pp. 82–84). Leominster: Day One Publications.

[4] Patzia, A. G. (2011). Ephesians, Colossians, Philemon (p. 96). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[5] Anders, M. (1999). Galatians-Colossians (Vol. 8, pp. 344–345). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[6] Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953–2001). Exposition of Colossians and Philemon (Vol. 6, pp. 179–180). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

[7] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (pp. 2015–2016). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

04/15/18 My Rock

By Chuck Lawless on Apr 15, 2018 01:30 am

READING: Psalm 18

“Lord, you light my lamp; my God illuminates my darkness.”

Psalm 18:28

No matter what we face today, we can find hope in the words of the psalmist in psalm 18. Using multiple warfare images, he reminds us of God’s care and protection for us. In fact, the psalmist piles up the terms as if to say, “Don’t miss these truths. God is all we need.” He is our strength (that is, our source of strength), our rock (the one in whom we hide), our fortress, and our deliverer. We find our refuge in Him, the One who is our shield and our strength (the “horn of our salvation”). He is our protection, our stronghold, our shelter among the rocks. Given all that God is, it’s no wonder the psalmist expressed a deep and emotional love for Him: “I love you, Lord, my strength” (Psa. 18:1).

I pray today is a great day for you. If this day is difficult, though, cling to God as your hiding place. He is indeed “worthy of praise” (Psa. 18:3), and it is right for us to respond with thanksgiving: “Therefore I will give thanks to you among the nations, Lord; I will sing praises about your name” (Psa. 18:49).


  • Let this day be a day filled with God’s praise, perhaps by singing the song, “I Will Call upon the Lord.”
  • Lean on Him for your strength throughout the day.

PRAYER: “I love You, Lord. I truly love You.”


Source: 04/15/18 My Rock

April 15 Dealing with the Leprosy of Life

When anyone has a defiling skin disease, they must be brought to the priest. Lev 13:9

The purpose of this chapter is to enable the detection of leprosy. When the Bible uses this term, it is not merely referring to the disease that we call leprosy today, Hansen’s disease. That is included in the term, but the Hebrew word translated leprosy here also includes other contagious and infectious skin diseases. They all were recognized to be dangerous and damaging, a serious threat not only to the individual but to the whole camp of Israel, and so they were to be detected. The process of detection was prolonged and careful inspection. The priest was to look at the symptoms, then shut the diseased person up for seven days, examine him again, and shut him up for another seven days. At the end of that time he could determine whether it was leprosy or something less serious.

All of this has its counterpart in our own spiritual lives. This passage is talking to us about the afflictions and diseases of the spirit, the hurtful attitudes we have, the burning resentments, the feelings of anger and upset we go through, and the grudges we carry around in our hearts toward one another. These are to be detected because they can be very dangerous, and the process is to expose them to a priest. Remember, now, that in the New Testament pattern all believers are priests together. We are all blind to ourselves. In my own eyes I am a very genial, gracious, inoffensive person. I don’t know why it is, but others don’t always seem to see me the same way. I find myself very blind to my own failings. We all have these blind spots. That is why we need each other. And so the Israelite was instructed, when he had a manifestation of disease, to bring it to a priest.

Transferring this to the spiritual realm, this means that the evil in question must be brought under the judgment of the Word of God in order to be cleansed. The evil must be faced and named for what it is, as God sees it. All the defenses that we have tried to build around it to protect it are to be taken down, and we must realize that it is wrong, and admit it. Then God can cleanse us from it and it goes out of our life. The scars may remain, but there is no need to fear any longer; the action of the evil has been arrested. What a beautiful picture this is of 1 John 1:9: If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. What a gracious provision this is!

Are your leprous spots being judged? Are they being dealt with openly in the light of the Word of God? Are they being brought to the One who can heal leprosy with a touch? Or are they being protected, covered over, hidden to avoid examination? Your moods, your disposition, your temperamental outbursts, your displays of anger or depression — what about them?

Lord Jesus, how often I have injured others by my leprous condition. I know that you want me to be clean and to walk in victory. So, by the faithfulness of your Spirit, please judge the leprosy in my life. Touch it and heal it, as I bow before you.

Life Application
Are we open to others’ observations about our attitudes and behaviors? What about our priestly service to others who may need our insight but most of all our compassion?
Related Message
For more on this portion of Scripture read the message:
Dealing with the Leprosy of Life


But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our LORD and Saviour Jesus Christ….

2 PETER 3:18

It is possible for a whole generation of professing Christians to be victims of poor teaching, low moral standards and unscriptural or extrascriptural doctrines, resulting in stunted growth and retarded development. It is little less than stark tragedy that an individual Christian may pass from youth to old age in a state of suspended growth and all his life be unaware of it!

Those who would question the truth of this have only to read the First Epistle to the Corinthians and the Epistle to the Hebrews; and church history adds all the further proof that is needed.

In today’s Christianity, we have measured ourselves by ourselves until the incentive to seek higher plateaus in the things of the Spirit is all but gone!

The fact is that we are no longer producing saints. We are making converts to an effete type of Christianity that bears little resemblance to that of the New Testament. The average so-called Bible Christian in our times is but a wretched parody on true sainthood!

Clearly, we must begin to produce better Christians! We must insist on New Testament sainthood for our converts, nothing less; and we must lead them into a state of heart purity, fiery love, separation from the world and poured-out devotion to the Person of Christ. Only in this way can the low level of spirituality be raised again to where it should be in the light of the Scriptures and of eternal values![1]

[1] Tozer, A. W., & Smith, G. B. (2015). Evenings with tozer: daily devotional readings. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

April 15 Slander Equals Murder

Whoever says to his brother, “You good-for-nothing,” shall be guilty before the supreme court.—Matt. 5:22b

The word (raca) translated by the New American Standard Bible “good-for-nothing” has been variously rendered elsewhere as “brainless idiot,” “worthless fellow,” “blockhead,” and the like. It was a term of malicious abuse and slander that really has no precise modern translation. David graphically described persons who used such slander as those who “sharpen their tongues as a serpent; poison of a viper is under their lips” (Ps. 140:3). The Roman soldiers who tortured and crucified Jesus could well have used the term to mock and disrespect Him (cf. Matt. 27:29–31).

According to Jewish legend, a young rabbi had just come from a session with his famous teacher. He felt especially proud of how he had handled himself before the teacher. As he basked in those feelings of superiority, he passed an especially unattractive man who greeted him. The young rabbi responded, “You Raca! How ugly you are. Are all men of your town as ugly as you?”

“That I do not know,” the man replied, “but go and tell the Maker who created me how ugly is the creature He has made.”

To slander someone made in God’s image is to slander God Himself and is the same as murdering that person. Jesus called such harsh contempt murder of the heart. The contemptuous person was as much as “guilty before the supreme court” (the Jewish Sanhedrin, which tried the most serious cases and pronounced the ultimate penalty—death). We dare not trifle with any kind of contemptuous language toward others.


Remember, this is not just an injunction against speaking unkind, judgmental words, but also of thinking them in our minds. When God has led you to seasons of victory in your thought life, how has He accomplished it? What stopped evil thoughts from ever coming up?[1]

[1] MacArthur, J. (2008). Daily readings from the life of Christ (p. 114). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

April 15 Defending the Faith

Always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear.

1 Peter 3:15

When society attacks, you need to be ready to make a defense. The Greek term for “defense” often referred to a formal defense in a court of law. But Paul also used the word informally to describe his ability to answer anyone who questioned him—not just a judge, magistrate, or governor (Phil. 1:16–17). Furthermore, including the word always in today’s verse indicates that you should be prepared to answer in all situations, not just the legal sphere.

Whether in an official setting or informally to anyone who might inquire, you need to be ready to provide an answer about “the hope that is in you” (1 Pet. 3:15)—that is, give a description of your Christian faith. You should be able to give a rational explanation of your salvation.[1]

[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 120). Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman.

April 15, 2018 Morning Verse Of The Day

119:87 Spurgeon said, “If we stick to the precepts we will be rescued by the promises.” Even if we reach the place where we despair of life, we should never falter in our obedience. Help will come. Only believe!

119:88 The best prayer comes from a strong, inward necessity. Here the psalmist prays that the Lord will spare his life so that he can go forth to glorify God by obeying His Word.[1]

119:87–88 Even though the psalmist faces danger, he remains loyal to God’s directions. He asks God to help him so that he might continue to love Him and follow His directions.[2]

119:87 but I have not forsaken your precepts. The psalmist would not allow his obedience to depend on his situation.[3]

[1] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 742). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[2] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Ps 119:87–88). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[3] Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2005). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (p. 847). Orlando, FL; Lake Mary, FL: Ligonier Ministries.

April 15 Reaching Out to Others

“Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.”

Luke 23:43


The circumstances are never too adverse, nor the hour too late, to offer the gospel of Christ to someone.

Jesus was crucified between two criminals (thieves)—one on each side of His cross. At first the two men both joined the onlookers in hurling unbelieving rhetoric at the Lord (Mark 15:32). But one of the thieves obviously had a change of heart as the hours elapsed. He rebuked the other thief by pointing out Jesus’ sinlessness (Luke 23:40–41) and then expressed his need of salvation: “Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom!” (v. 42). And Jesus graciously answered the thief’s request.

The dying thief’s conversion is an extraordinary story. At Calvary there was nothing convincing or favorable about Jesus. From man’s vantage point He was dying because He had been completely rejected; even the disciples had deserted Him. Jesus appeared weak, disgraced, and ashamed. When the thief uttered his plea for help, no one was pointing to Jesus and saying, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29).

Given the circumstances, it is difficult to comprehend how Christ could be concerned with the immediate salvation of a wretched thief who was justly being executed for his crimes. But our Lord cared very much about the destiny of that man’s soul. Jesus’ desire to see sinners saved was constant, because He came to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10). His concern for the unsaved is the supreme example and motivation to us in reaching out to others.

The thief’s salvation is also a clear illustration of the sovereignty of God in redemption. So often the church wants to attribute someone’s salvation to human cleverness in presenting a well–crafted message at just the right time and in the most appropriate place. But salvation is always the direct result of God’s intervening grace. The sovereign work of God’s Spirit, not circumstances, gave the thief a saving understanding about who Jesus was and what His death was accomplishing.


Suggestions for Prayer: Ask God for the courage to reach out with the good news of salvation no matter what the circumstances.

For Further Study: Read John 4:1–42. What excuses could Jesus have used for not talking to the woman? ✧ How did He keep His focus during His conversation with her?[1]

[1] MacArthur, J. (1997). Strength for today. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.


Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity.

—Habakkuk 1:13

A lot of people have talked about the goodness of God and then gotten sentimental about it and said, “God is too good to punish anybody,” and so they have ruled out hell. But the man who has an adequate conception of God will not only believe in the love of God, but also in the holiness of God. He will not only believe in the mercy of God, but also in the justice of God. And when you see the everlasting God in His holy, perfect union, when you see the One God acting in judgment, you know that the man who chooses evil must never dwell in the presence of this holy God.

But a lot of people have gone too far and have written books and poetry that gets everybody believing that God is so kind and loving and gentle. God is so kind that infinity won’t measure it. And God is so loving that He is immeasurably loving. But God is also holy and just. AOG107

We praise You for your love and mercy, Lord, but may we never take lightly Your awesome holiness and Your fearful justice. Amen.[1]

[1] Tozer, A. W., & Eggert, R. (2015). Tozer on the almighty god: a 365-day devotional. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

April 14 Daily Help

IF I once wandered on yon mountain top, and Jesus climbed up and caught me, and put me on his shoulders, and carried me home, I cannot and dare not doubt that He is my Shepherd. If I had belonged to some other sheep-owner, he would not have sought me. And from the fact that He did seek, I learn that He must be my Shepherd. Could I trace my deliverance to the hand of a creature, I should think that some creature might be my shepherd; but since he who has been reclaimed of God must confess that God alone has done it, such a one will feel persuaded that the Lord must be his Shepherd, because He brought him, He delivered him.[1]

[1] Spurgeon, C. H. (1892). Daily Help (p. 108). Baltimore: R. H. Woodward & Company.