Earlier today White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany held a press briefing with the press pool. [Video and Transcript Below]
Earlier today White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany held a press briefing with the press pool. [Video and Transcript Below]
On Feb. 29, U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams implored Americans to stop buying masks.
“They are NOT effective in preventing general public from catching coronavirus, but if healthcare providers can’t get them to care for sick patients, it puts them and our communities at risk!” Adams wrote on Twitter.
Many on the White House Coronavirus Task Force echoed Adams — especially Dr. Anthony Fauci, an immunologist and director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases who serves on the Task Force.
“There is no reason for anyone right now in the United States, with regard to coronavirus, to wear a mask,” Fauci told Spectrum News DC on Feb. 14.
“There’s no reason to be walking around with a mask,” Fauci told CBS’s “60 Minutes” on March 8. “When you’re in the middle of an outbreak, wearing a mask might make people feel a little bit better and it might even block a droplet, but it’s not providing the perfect protection that people think that it is. And, often, there are unintended consequences—people keep fiddling with the mask and they keep touching their face.”
Now we know why he told Americans not to wear masks — he was lying.
“Well, the reason for that is that we were concerned the public health community, and many people were saying this, were concerned that it was at a time when personal protective equipment, including the N-95 masks and the surgical masks, were in very short supply,” Fauci told The Street. “And we wanted to make sure that the people, namely the health care workers, who were brave enough to put themselves in a harm way, to take care of people who, you know, were infected with the coronavirus and the danger of them getting infected,” had access to the masks.
Fauci also said “masks are not 100 percent protective.”
“However, they certainly are better than not wearing a mask. Both to prevent you, if you happen to be a person who maybe feels well, but has an asymptomatic infection that you don’t even know about, to prevent you from infecting someone else,” Fauci said. “But also, it can protect you a certain degree, not a hundred percent, in protecting you from getting infected from someone who, either is breathing, or coughing, or sneezing, or singing or whatever it is in which the droplets or the aerosols go out. So masks work.”
Unless he’s lying — again.
The Conservative Baptist Network named its Steering Council Wednesday afternoon. The Steering Council is 48 Southern Baptists including former Southern Baptist Convention president Charles Stanley, Family Research Council president Tony Perkins, former Arkansas Governor and television host Mike Huckabee, seminary professors, seminary presidents, pastors, denominational leaders and laymen. The Steering Council includes 48 Southern Baptists dedicated to expanding the conservative Baptist movement in the Southern Baptist Convention.
The Conservative Baptist Network Steering Council contains a diverse group of Southern Baptists committed to “an allegiance to Scripture and a desire to reach the lost with the gospel of Jesus Christ,” the CBN said in a statement.
The recognizable names include Charles Stanley, former SBC president and pastor of First Baptist Church of Atlanta, and Family Research Council President Tony Perkins. Perkins is an influential conservative and Christian voice in politics.
Other notables include past SBC Executive Committee Chairman Mike Stone. Stone is joined on the Steering Council by fellow SBC Executive Committee member Rod Martin.
Here is Steering Council:
Anthony Allen, president of Hannibal-LaGrange University; Mark Ballard, president of Northeastern Baptist College; Stoney Benfield, pastor Prospect Baptist Church of Albermarle, NC; Lee Brand, VP and Dean Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary; Brad Bright, President and CEO of Bright Media Foundation; Steve Brumbelow, Senior Pastor Southview Baptist Church Rosharon, TX; Sam Bunnell, associate pastor South Reno Baptist Church, Reno, NV; Emir Caner, President Truett McConnell University; Kelvin Cochran, Chief Operating Officer Elizabeth Baptist Church, Atlanta, GA; Nathan Cole, VP Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary; Scott Colter, Executive Director of the Sandy Creek Foundation; Sharayah Colter; journalist and owner of Colter & Co.; Mark Coppenger, retired professor from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary; Mike Courtney, Evangelist Garland, TX; Nathan Davis, Senior Pastor First Baptist Church Coushatta, LA; Anthony George, Senior Associate Pastor FBC Atlanta; Blake Gideon, Senior Pastor Edmond’s First Baptist Church, Edmond, OK; Brad Graves, Senior Pastor Ada First Baptist Church, Ada, OK; Jim Gregory, Sr. Pastor First Southern Baptist Church of Mountain Home, ID; Tom Hatley, Sr. Pastor Immanuel Baptist Church Global Outreach Center of Rogers, AR; Gerald Harris, retired editor The Christian Index; Jason Hobbs, Sr. Pastor Calvary Baptist Church of Gainesville, TX; Mike Huckabee, former Governor of Arkansas, former President Arkansas State Baptist Convention; Chris Hughes, President and CEO of The Christhall Corporation; Brad Jurkovich, Sr. Pastor First Bossier; Chuck Kelley, President Emeritus and Distinguished Research Professor of Evangelism at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary; Joe Knott, Lawyer; Bill Logan, Sr. Pastor Immanuel Baptist Church, Ridgecrest, CA; Rod Martin, Founder & CEO The Martin Organization; Sherri Martin, Co-Founder The Martin Foundation; Michael O’Brien, Christian Musician & Recording Artist; Tim Patterson, Exec. Director & Treasurer Baptist State Convention of Michigan; Bob Pearle, Sr. Pastor Birchman Baptist Church of Ft. Worth, TX; Tony Perkins, President The Family Research Council; Tom Phillips, VP The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association; Jessica Pigg, author and pastor’s wife Fellowship Church of Immokalee, FL; Tim Pigg, Sr. Pastor Fellowship Church of Immokalee, FL; Lewis Richerson, Sr. Pastor Woodlawn Baptist Church of Baton Rouge, LA; Phil Roberts, former President Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary; Ronnie Rogers, Sr. Pastor Trinity Baptist Church of Norman, OK; Jeff Schreve, Sr. Pastor First Baptist Church of Texarkana, TX; Corey Smith, Sr. Pastor Heritage Baptist Church, Shreveport, LA; Michael Spradlin, President Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary; Lorine Spratt, Exec. Assistant First Bossier; Charles Stanely, Founder In-Touch Ministries and Sr. Pastor of FBC Atlanta; Mike Stone, Sr. Pastor Emmanuel Baptist Church of Blackshear, GA; Chris Tompson, Sr. Pastor of South River Baptist Church of Statesville, NC; Randy Zeigler, Student Pastor at First Bossier. (SOURCE) https://conservativebaptistnetwork.com/steering-council/
“We are so excited to share this steering council with our Network and broader Southern Baptist family,” Network spokesman Brad Jurkovich said. “We had so looked forward to sharing this at our launch event scheduled in Orlando at our SBC annual meeting. Even though that was cancelled, we are moving forward with tremendous enthusiasm, and we are thankful to have incredible pastors and leaders who are committed to helping us see positive change in our Southern Baptist Convention in order to continue to reach our world with the hope of Jesus and His sufficient Word.”
HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:
__ World Health Organization says more understanding needed on steroid that was shown in a British trial to reduce deaths among critically ill patients.
— Germany says the impact of the pandemic on developing countries could have security implications for Europe unless steps are taken to help struggling nations.
— Pakistan announces plans to repatriate tens of thousands of citizens stranded around the world.
— President of Honduras tests positive for coronavirus.
— China’s capital reports a slight increase in the numbers of confirmed new coronavirus cases Was it seeks to battle the recent outbreak in Beijing.
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
ST. PETERSBERG, Florida — Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez says that due to a rise COVID-19 cases enforcement will be stepped up to shut down businesses not following rules put in place to safely reopen during the pandemic.
St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman, meanwhile, said Wednesday that all employees who have contact with the public will be required to wear masks. That is something that some South Florida cities hard hit by the virus have been doing for weeks.
Kriseman is also preparing a second ordinance to require residents to wear masks when inside businesses or other public spaces.
He criticized Flordia Gov. Ron DeSantis for only encouraging people to use masks rather than requiring their use.
PHOENIX — Arizona hospitals are treating a record number of coronavirus patients amid a surge of new cases that has made the state a U.S. virus hotspot.
The state’s Health Services Department reported a record number of emergency room visits for the virus as well.
The agency confirmed 1,827 new cases and 20 new deaths Wednesday, bringing the total confirmed cases to 40,924 and deaths to 1,239.
Hospitals were treating 1,582 patients on Tuesday, an increase of more than 500 from two weeks earlier.
Emergency room visits for patients with virus symptoms soared to nearly 1,100.
On June 3, hospitals reported seeing 638 patients in the ER. The new records come as Republican Gov. Doug Ducey is under increasing pressure to take steps to stop a major increase in cases. Health providers and Democratic politicians are urging him to require people to wear masks in public, but so far he has rejected a mandate while suggesting mask-wearing.
JOHANNESBURG — South Africa’s president has reminded China that African nations are seeking significant debt relief as they battle the coronavirus pandemic.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed Chinese President Xi Jinping during an online China-Africa summit to discuss the virus that has infected more than 260,000 people across Africa.
African nations early in the pandemic called for a two-year suspension of debt payments and other relief that would allow them to focus resources on the health crisis.
But China, Africa’s biggest creditor, has not indicated it will offer a sweeping solution and experts say it will focus instead on bilateral arrangements with countries.
South Africa’s president urged China to offer more relief “or to propose alternative solutions,” warning that “the worst is still to come” for Africa in the pandemic.
The Chinese president in his speech said he hopes the international community, “especially developed countries and multilateral financial institutions, will act more forcefully on debt relief and suspension for Africa.”
ISLAMABAD — Pakistan is announcing plans to repatriate all of its those citizens stranded around the globe, including in the Middle East, as a result of the pandemic.
Syed Zulfiqar Bukhari, who advises Prime Minister Imran Khan about Pakistanis living abroad, told a news conference Wednesday that between 40,000 and 45,000 of their nationals will be brought home every week, starting June 20.
He said all international passenger flights are being allowed to resume their operations at 25 percent capacity as per social distancing regulations. About 120,000 Pakistanis are expected to return in the coming weeks and they will have to quarantine themselves at homes for 14 days.
In recent months, about 75,000 Pakistanis have already returned home through special and regular flights amid a surge in COVID-19 deaths and infections. On Wednesday, Pakistan reported 116 more COVID-19 deaths, the highest single-day number of fatalities from the new coronavirus, raising its total of cases to 154,760, including 2,975 deaths.
In a bid to contain the virus, Pakistan has sealed off high risk residential areas across the country.
LONDON — The emergencies chief of the World Health Organization welcomed the news this week that dexamethasone, a cheap steroid, was shown in a British trial to reduce deaths among patients critically ill with the coronavirus, but said it was too soon to change how patients are treated.
“It’s one of the breakthroughs we’re going to need to effectively deal with COVID-19, but it’s still preliminary data,” said Dr. Michael Ryan at a press briefing on Wednesday. “We will pull together the necessary expert group… and come to a decision around our clinical advice to countries.”
Ryan said that “this is not the time to rush to change clinical practice” and that it was crucial to understand issues like what dose should be used on patients, how patients would be assessed and if there were adequate supplies of the drug.
On Tuesday, when the British researchers announced their findings, the department of health said the dexamethasone had been approved to treat all hospitalized COVID-19 patients, effectively immediately.
WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus noted that in the last two months, more than 6 million coronavirus cases have been logged and said cases were still accelerating globally. In the first two months, only 85,000 cases were reported, mostly from China.
WASHINGTON — U.S. health regulators have pulled their authorization of a COVID-19 blood test after determining it could deliver inaccurate results.
The Food and Drug Administration said late Tuesday that the problems with the test from Chembio Diagnostic System could mislead patients about whether they have had COVID-19.
The move comes as FDA regulators attempt to verify the accuracy of dozens of antibody tests that the agency allowed onto the market earlier this year without evidence that they worked. Critics said that approach created a ‘Wild West’ of unregulated tests. Last month the FDA said testing companies must submit testing data to remain on the market.
Antibody tests are different from the nasal swab tests currently used to diagnose active infections. Instead, the tests look for blood proteins called antibodies, which indicate someone had a previous infection but fought off the virus. Most of the tests use a finger-prick of blood on a test strip.
The Chembio test was one of the first tests that the FDA authorized as meeting federal standards. However, the FDA said follow-up data submitted by the company showed the test delivered an unacceptable number of false results. As a result, the test can no longer be sold.
The FDA has granted emergency authorization to 21 other antibody tests. Meanwhile, roughly 190 antibody tests launched under the agency’s previous policy are awaiting FDA review.
ATHENS, Greece — Authorities in Greece have reported 55 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 and two new deaths — a relatively high number of new infections compared with the average seen in recent weeks.
Authorities are keeping a close eye on the daily tally after the country formally launched its tourism season Monday, relaxing restrictions for air travelers and reopening the airport in Greece’s second-largest city, Thessaloniki.
The Health Ministry Wednesday did not provide any details on the new infections. The death toll has reached 187 while the total number of confirmed infections is 3,203.
More travel restrictions are due to be lifted on July 1 when airports on the Greek islands and other regional destinations are due to be lifted.
ROME — As it has since the first days of Italy’s COVID-19 outbreak in late February, the northern region of Lombardy accounted for by far the biggest share of the country’s daily new cases.
According to Health Ministry figures Wednesday evening, 242 of the 329 coronavirus infections confirmed in the nation in the last 24 hours were registered in Lombardy.
In comparison, the region with the next highest daily new case figure was neighboring Piedmont, with 41 confirmed new infections.
Overall, Italy counts 237,828 confirmed cases, but since many persons who aren’t hospitalized or have only mild symptoms aren’t tested, the total number is presumed to be much higher. There were 43 deaths of infected patients in the same 24-hour period ending Wednesday, raising to 34,448 the number of those who died with confirmed COVID-19 infections.
SKOPJE, North Macedonia — Authorities in North Macedonia have introduced a rotation system for medical staff on a nationwide basis following a spike in COVID-19 cases.
Doctors and other staff from regional public hospitals were brought to the capital Wednesday to replace exhausted colleagues who have been grappling with a post-lockdown increase in cases.
Health Minister Venko Filipce On Wednesday announced 193 new confirmed infections and nine deaths in the latest 24-hour recording period, bringing the total number of confirmed infections to 4,482 and the death toll to 210.
UNITED NATIONS — The president of the United Nations General Assembly has banged his gavel to open U.N. elections under dramatically different voting procedures because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The U.N. headquarters complex in New York remains open for essential workers, but Secretary-General Antonio Guterres ordered staff members to work from home until July 31 as a health precaution.
So instead of ambassadors from the 193 U.N. member nations gathering in the horseshoe-shaped General Assembly chamber for the elections that include filling two seats on the U.N. Security Council., a new voting process using spaced time slots was adopted.
And instead of voting separately for the next General Assembly president, five new members of the Security Council, and 18 new members of the Economic and Social Council, the three elections are being held concurrently by secret ballot.
Among the early voters were U.S. Ambassador Kelly Craft and the ambassadors of Poland and Turkey.
AUSTIN, Texas — Texas Supreme Court Justice Debra Lehrman says her COVID-19 symptoms were “quite severe” but she has recovered.
Lehrman is one of nine judges on the U.S. state’s highest court for civil law. She announced May 21 that she and her husband tested positive for the coronavirus despite being diligent about following social distancing guidelines. She is the highest-ranking state official in Texas known to have gotten the virus.
Texas set record highs for both new coronavirus cases and the number of COVID-19 patients hospitalized on Tuesday. Lehrman did not give details about her treatment but says she plans to donate blood plasma to help other patients.
BERLIN — The foreign minister of Germany says the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on developing countries could have security implications for Europe unless steps are taken to help struggling nations.
Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said Wednesday that Germany would try to use its presidency of the U.N. Security Council and of the European Union starting next month to help prevent a health crisis from becoming a humanitarian emergency.
Maas said Germany’s particular focus will be on Africa, the western Balkans, non-EU members in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, and the Middle East.
A German Cabinet paper obtained by The Associated Press says further destabilization of countries in Africa and the Middle East could fuel existing conflicts, terrorism and irregular migration with “serious consequences also for Germany and the EU.”
The paper stresses the importance of the World Health Organization in leading and coordinating the global response to the pandemic, and other agencies in helping develop vaccines and effective drugs.
–By Frank Jordans in Berlin.
MALE, Maldives — The Parliament of the Maldives was shut for decontamination after a staff member tested positive for the new coronavirus.
Officials say health authorities began sterilizing the building Wednesday and tracing those who came into contact with the staff member.
The Maldives capital of Male has been under a lockdown since April because of the virus. Lawmakers recently resumed meetings at the Parliament building after meeting online.
The archipelago state has reported 2,094 virus cases and eight deaths.
BERLIN — Authorities in the western German region of Guetersloh have ordered the closure of all schools and childcare centers after hundreds of workers at Germany’s biggest slaughterhouse tested positive for COVID-19.
Regional daily Westfalen-Blatt reported Wednesday that some 475 people tested positive for the new coronavirus, adding to 128 cases already known. A further 400 test results were still pending.
The outbreak at the Toennies slaughterhouse in Rheda-Wiedenbrueck has pushed the number of cases in the region far above the government’s threshold for emergency measures, which is set at 50 new infections in a week per 100,000 inhabitants.
Officials planned to announce later Wednesday whether further measures will be taken, such as closing stores and restaurants, to contain the outbreak.
Westfalen-Blatt reported that officials believe some of the cases were imported from other countries by migrant workers who took advantage of newly reopened European borders to visit their families.
BANGKOK — Thailand’s leader says the country is beginning to see “the light at the end of the tunnel” in its fight against COVID-19 but is some distance away from declaring total victory.
Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha said Wednesday in a televised speech that Thailand has been recognized for controlling the spread of the coronavirus and was now relaxing as many restrictions as possible, but had to stay alert against a second wave of the disease.
“We must be extremely careful, continuing to wear masks, practicing social distancing and hand hygiene, and generally being careful about gathering together,” he said.
Thai authorities earlier in the day announced no new cases of the disease, leaving the country’s total since January at 3,135 with 58 deaths.
Prayuth also addressed the economic devastation wreaked by the coronavirus crisis, saying “restoring people’s ability to earn a fair living” was an even bigger challenge.
VILNIUS, Lithuania — Lithuania has ended its three-month long lockdown regime imposed due the coronavirus pandemic but the government says the Baltic nation will continue its emergency declaration.
The quarantine that began March 16 was lifted Wednesday and the Lithuanian government hals halted most restrictions to curb the spread of COVID-19.
Among other things, larger public gatherings are allowed and protective facemasks are no longer required in public places. Most European citizens are allowed to enter the country except residents of Britain, Portugal and Sweden.
As of Tuesday, a total of 1,776 coronavirus cases and 76 deaths had been recorded in Lithuania, a nation of nearly 3 million.
DHAKA, Bangladesh — Bangladesh’s coronavirus caseload is nearing 100,000 as the country reported another 4,008 new positive cases and another 43 deaths.
Nasima Sultana of the Health Directorate said Wednesday the death toll from the virus reached 1,305 with the latest fatalities and the total number of infections stood at 98,489. The country’s Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi was among the new positive cases.
Bangladesh, a nation of 160 million people, has a weak healthcare system. that is being heavily tested during the pandemic.
MEXICO CITY — Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández has tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
A statement issued by the presidency late Tuesday said Hernández had followed recommended health precautions but “because of the nature of his work, it wasn’t possible to remain in total isolation.”
His office said Hernández began to feel ill over the weekend and his viral infection was confirmed on Tuesday. The statement said he was being treated with microdacyn, azithromycin, ivermectin and zinc.
It said the first lady has shown no COVID-19 symptoms.
Honduras has reported more than 9,100 confirmed virus cases and 322 deaths.
Source: Associated Press
Representative Devin Nunes appears on FOX Business’ with Elizabeth MacDonald to discuss how conservative voices are being censored and targeted by the ideology of Big Tech, against the backdrop of latest examples of Google targeting websites.
President Donald Trump calls-in to the Sean Hannity television show to discuss current events including police reform, the coronavirus pandemic, and his re-election campaign.
So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.
(John 8:36, NIV)
When your desire to go forward becomes greater than the memories of your past, you’ll begin to live again. Purpose always overcomes pain! Solomon said, “Where there is no vision, the people perish” (Proverbs 29:18). Until you have a vision of tomorrow, you’ll always live in yesterday’s struggles. The very fact that God is putting desire back into your spirit again means that better days are coming. David said, “I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living” (Psalm 27:13).
When T. D. Jakes was a boy, he had a dog named Pup. He was a ferocious animal, so they kept him chained to a post in their back yard. Nobody believed he could break that chain, though he had often tried. One day, Pup saw something he really wanted, and suddenly the motivation before him became greater than the chain that held him. In that moment, the chain snapped, and he was free. God can do that for you, too! The chain that’s held you back will snap, and you’ll move from defeat to victory. When you finally understand that you’re loose, you’ll start behaving like it. You’ll go wherever God takes you, and you’ll become all that He wants you to be.
Rejoice, that promise is for you!
 Gass, B. (1998). A Fresh Word For Today : 365 Insights For Daily Living (p. 168). Alachua, FL: Bridge-Logos Publishers.
He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry.
To many people, fame is nearly as desirable as wealth. This is because acceptance is one of our basic needs, and there’s nothing like seeing your name in bright lights to make you feel accepted and admired. Some come to fame because of exceptional talent or brilliance. Others just happen upon it, being at the right place at the right time. Artist Andy Warhol once predicted that, due to expanding TV technology, we’ll all experience fame at some point in our lives, even if for just ten or fifteen minutes. Fame is fleeting, as they say, but elusiveness only adds to its enticement.
Christians should avoid the allure of fame. It can seduce us away from our foremost desire to serve God. Paul tells us that the Holy Spirit gives us gifts. We are to discover our gifts and be diligent with them, using them for God’s glory. Because of the nature of certain gifts, some of their beneficiaries may incidentally become famous. But the real purpose of spiritual gifts is to lead the church to a more meaningful relationship with the Lord.
 Jeremiah, D. (2002). Sanctuary: finding moments of refuge in the presence of God (p. 176). Nashville, TN: Integrity Publishers.
Have you noticed that the truths in this series of truths you should know are telling a story? It’s the ultimate story, the true story of God and his work in the history of his creation. As with most stories, this true story has conflict. It has a problem to be solved—a big problem with no easy solution.
The Problem of Sin
You may remember the problem, because we discussed it in a previous post. It all started in the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve disobeyed God and everything changed. Sin entered creation and history, and now nothing is quite right in the world.
Humankind is corrupted by sin, and each one of us is alienated from God because of it. We are born “hostile to God” (Romans 8:7; see also Colossians 1:21). By nature, we are estranged from our creator. And he is alienated from us, too. God, in his holy righteousness, hate sin and must separate himself from it. And separating from sin entails separating from us, because sin corrupts every part of our being.
In this post, we’re focusing on the solution to God’s side of this two-way alienation. (We’ll deal with the fix for human hostility toward God later.) God’s perfectly holy, righteous and just response to sin is, to use the terminology of scripture, the outpouring of his wrath. God’s just nature requires that he give us our due, and what our sin has earned us is a death sentence (Romans 6:23). We all stand condemned to death, awaiting the execution of the judgment against us.
And there’s nothing we can do about it. We can’t fix this problem.
The Riddle of Forgiveness
Thankfully the story doesn’t end here (although had God chosen to simply leave all sinners to face his wrath, he could have). Instead of executing justice against all humanity, God made a plan to save people from condemnation. He designed a way to forgive their sins and reconcile with them.
Forgiving sinners required a plan of action because God can’t simply ignore sin. He is the perfect judge of the universe and he assures us that he “will not acquit the wicked” (Exodus 23:7). He will, he says, “by no means clear the guilty” (Exodus 34:7), which is exactly what we ought to expect from a judge who always does what’s right.
And there’s the rub. If God never acquits sinners, how can he forgive them? How can he show them mercy, but also leave none of their sins unpunished? Mark Dever calls this “the riddle of the Old Testament,”1 but we could also call it the riddle of forgiveness.
God’s plan of salvation answers this riddle. Because of the work of Jesus, God can forgive human sin in a way that preserves his justice. As the eternal Son fulfills his mission, he provides a way for God to show mercy to justly condemned sinners without any sin going unpunished.
Jesus Brings Peace
Christians call the work Jesus did to provide a way for God to save sinners atonement. The New Testament presents what Jesus accomplished when he died on the cross for sinners in several ways: It was sacrifice, redemption, reconciliation, and more. These word pictures are different ways to see this one complex work of God. Here, I’ve chosen to look through the lens of reconciliation, but at the end of this post I’ve listed a few resources that explain these other ways to view the atoning work of Jesus.
The death of Jesus on the cross shields sinners from God’s righteous response to their unrighteousness. Jesus turned away, or propitiated, God’s wrath toward sin, and reconciled God to sinners.
The Heart of the Gospel
The death of Jesus propitiates God’s wrath because it is a penal substitution. In his death, Jesus represented his people, and endured their death penalty. On the cross, God counted human sins to the sinless Jesus, and he bore the just punishment for them. He stood in our place and bore God’s wrath on our behalf. The term penal substitution comes from these truths: Jesus substituted for sinners and endured their penalty or punishment.
That Jesus endured the wrath of God against our sin on our behalf is the reason we can be pardoned. Our death sentence was not merely waved away, but it was carried out when Jesus died in our place. Propitiation through penal substitution makes it right for God to forgive sinners. It solves the problem of sin and answers the riddle of forgiveness.
There is much more that could be said about Jesus’s saving death, but then this is just a blog post. His death is the centerpiece of God’s plan for his creation, the heart of the gospel, the sinner’s only hope, and the subject of the song of the redeemed throughout eternity:
And they sang a new song, saying,
“Worthy are you …
for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God
from every tribe and language and people and nation … . (Revelation 5:9)
Worthy is he, for he died in our place to remove the barrier to our forgiveness!
Suggested resources for further learning:
1 The Message of the Old Testament by Mark Dever, page 104.
Previous posts in this series:
Therefore I want the men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and dissension. (2:8)
Therefore indicates that this verse goes with the preceding section, not with what follows. The change of subject comes in verse 9, as the word “likewise” shows (cf. 3:8, 11). Having stressed the importance of evangelistic prayer, Paul now tells us with what attitude we are to pray. Want is from boulomai, and could be translated “I command,” or “I purpose.” Men is from anēr, and means men as opposed to women. Men are the leaders when the church meets for corporate worship. When prayer is offered for the lost during those times, the men are to do it. In the synagogues, only men were permitted to pray, and that was carried over into the church. The phrase in every place appears four times in Paul’s writings (cf. 1 Cor. 1:2; 2 Cor. 2:14; 1 Thess. 1:8). All four times it refers to the official assembly of the church.
Some might argue that this teaching contradicts 1 Corinthians 11:5, where Paul permits women to pray and proclaim the Word. That passage, however, must be interpreted in light of 1 Corinthians 14:34–35, which forbids women to speak in the assembly. Women are permitted to pray and proclaim the Word, but not “in church”—that is, when the church meets for its corporate worship services. That in no way marks women as spiritually inferior (cf. Gal. 3:28). Not even all men proclaim the Word in the assembly, only those so called and gifted. (For a further discussion of this issue, see my book Different By Design [Wheaton, Ill.: Victor, 1994].)
The Old Testament saints frequently prayed lifting up their hands (cf. 1 Kings 8:22; Neh. 8:6; Pss. 63:4; 134:2; 141:2; Isa. 1:15). But Paul’s emphasis here is not on a particular posture for prayer. The hands symbolize the activities of life, thus holy hands represent a holy life. That is a prerequisite for effective prayer (cf. Ps. 66:18). Holy translates hosios, which means “unpolluted,” or “unstained by evil.” Those who pray for the lost must not be characterized by wrath and dissension. They must be holy in heart and deed.
The greatest example of evangelistic praying is our Lord Himself. Isaiah 53:12 tells us He “interceded for the transgressors.” On the cross He prayed, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). God answered those prayers with three thousand converts on the Day of Pentecost, and countless thousands more through the centuries.
Do we pray for the lost like that? Do we have the passion that inspired John Knox to cry out, “Give me Scotland or I die”? Is our attitude that of George Whitefield, who prayed, “O Lord, give me souls or take my soul”? Can we, like Henry Martyn, say, “I cannot endure existence if Jesus is to be so dishonored”?
God honors evangelistic prayer. Standing among those who killed Stephen was a young man named Saul of Tarsus. Could it be that the great apostle’s salvation was in answer to Stephen’s prayer, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them”? Evangelism begins with evangelistic prayer.
8 Paul now moves past his first main point (the offering of all kinds of prayer, vv. 1–2) to his second (related) injunction (oun, “then,” here [untranslated in NIV] and in v. 1). He wants the “men” in the congregation to unite in prayer (proseuchomai, GK 4667; cf. v. 1 and 5:5) without any hint of “anger” (orgē, GK 3973) or “disputing” (dialogismos, GK 1369). Just as ritual purity was essential for Jews, NT believers were to pray with their hands cleansed from all spiritual defilement or impurity (“holy hands”). The plural seems to reflect a plurality of men leading the congregation in prayer and worship (cf. 2:12; 3:2, 5; 4:11–16; 5:17).
The immediate reference of “everywhere” (lit., “in every place”) is to the various house churches making up the Ephesian church (so Thomas R. Schreiner, “An Interpretation of 1 Timothy 2:9–15: A Dialogue with Scholarship,” in Women in the Church, ed. Andreas J. Köstenberger, Thomas R. Schreiner, and H. Scott Baldwin [Grand Rapids: Baker, 1995], 113), though ultimately the scope is universal (Barrett, 54: “in every Christian meeting place”; Kelly, 65: “wherever the gospel is preached”; cf. 1 Co 1:2; 2 Co 2:14; 1 Th 1:8; cf. Mal 1:11 [LXX]; see Quinn and Wacker, 208–9).
The lifting up of hands in prayer was practiced in OT times and is attested in Jewish intertestamental, Greco-Roman, and Christian literature (cf. Knight, 128–29). By this time, lifting up hands in prayer may have become a figurative expression similar to “washing the feet of the saints” (5:10). In this congregation devoted to prayer, there must be neither “anger” (cf. Eph 4:31; Col 3:8) nor “disputing” (cf. Php 2:14). The apostle’s teaching here mirrors that of Jesus (Mt 5:22–24 cf. 6:14–15; 18:21–35; Mk 11:25).
Paul’s concern (similar to that of Jesus) is the removal of barriers to ensure effective prayer (1 Co 7:5; Eph 4:26–27; 1 Pe 3:7; cf. Did. 14:2). The apostle’s main emphasis is on the adjective “holy” (hosious, GK 4008; cf. Tit 1:8; Heb 7:26). The picture painted here is that of a church submitted to authority and united in prayer for the salvation of all.
8 At this point, Paul engages the congregation according to gender groups. In this adaptation of a household code, he takes the men first and speaks to them authoritatively, enlarging on the instruction about community prayer22 initiated at 2:1. There are several issues to be addressed. First, in Greek the term “men” is ambiguous and could mean “husbands” or “men.” Typically either a standard modifying possessive pronoun or similar device will clearly indicate “husband” (e.g. 3:2, 12; 5:9; Titus 1:6; 2:5; 1 Pet 3:1; Eph 5:22), or something else in the context will specify the meaning. The absence of such a signal might support the more generic reference, but the context nonetheless suggests the husband/wife relationship is largely in view (especially when discussion of the women is considered, see below). On the one hand, the norm for men and women was marriage, and this is the assumption in reference to the women and childbearing in v. 15. On the other hand, the language and content of the proscribed “sumptuousness” of wealthy women in 2:9–10 has in mind mainly a trend among wealthy married women (and widows; see on 5:6, 11–15) to adopt a new liberated lifestyle of dress and sexual promiscuity (see below). If this is the case, the generic categories of “men” and “women” are almost certainly intended to express more precision.
Second, Paul is specifically concerned about the holiness and demeanor of men when they pray. This is set out in positive terms first by reference to the symbolic gesture of raising the hands in prayer (coupled with allusion to the rite of hand washing to signify purity). The background is the biblical tradition in which prayers in various contexts (invoking God’s intervention, pronouncing blessing on others) were accentuated by the raising or extending of hands. Within Israel’s cultic regimen, the actual outward act of washing the hands was a fundamental preparatory step for priests to enter the Tent of Meeting (Exod 30:19–21). The visible public act of purification signified the presumed inward condition of purity/holiness of those about to engage in ministry. From the act and its significance, the image of “purified hands” acquired metaphorical status in its reference to moral purity (e.g. 1 Clement 29:1; LXX Pss 25:6; 72:13) just as the image of “bloody” or stained hands signified metaphorically the reverse (Isa 1:15). The combination of the adjective, “holy/pure,” and the symbolic gesture depicts one who is completely (outwardly and inwardly) ready for ministry.
Measured negatively, the holiness that facilitates acceptable prayer is devoid (“without”; 5:21) of attitudes and actions that put relationships at risk. Here Paul highlights two such things. First, the presence of “anger” indicates the absence of patience, kindness and forgiveness, all of which are requisite to the maintenance and fostering of relationships. Consequently, refusing to harbor anger (and related feelings) towards other people (Eph 4:31; Col 3:8), along with taking the positive step of forgiveness (e.g. Mark 11:25), is a condition of effective prayer. Second, hostile feelings issue in hostile actions, and Paul illustrates this with a very relevant reference to “disputing.” This is an almost certain reference to the modus operandi of the false teachers, whose false doctrines and teaching style engendered disputes and division in the community.28 But in the nearer context a reference to some kind of volatile interaction between men and women (who teach) may also be in mind. For the thought that one’s moral condition will affect one’s prayer, positively or negatively, see James 1:19–20 and 1 Pet 3:7.
Third, a subtly inserted phrase often overlooked in translations and commentaries, “in every place” (“everywhere,” TNIV) initiates an OT echo designed to invite the readers/hearers to understand the significance of their entire worship activity in the eschatological framework of God’s redemptive promise to save the nations.29 In the NT the phrase is Pauline, restricted elsewhere to three occurrences (1 Cor 1:2; 2 Cor 2:14; 1 Thess 1:8). Notably, in each of these instances either Paul’s prayer (1 Cor 1:2) or preaching mission (2 Cor 2:14; 1 Thess 1:8) is in view. Both of these features and the sense of universality suggest that the phrase originated in and consciously echoes Mal 1:11:
For from the rising of the sun to its setting my name is great among the nations, and in every place (en panti topō) incense is offered to my name, and a pure offering; for my name is great among the nations, says the LORD of hosts.
Within Judaism, Mal 1:11 was associated in the Targumic tradition with prayer. Didache 14:3, perhaps influenced by the interests in 1 Tim 2:8 and certainly by those of Judaism, later conflated Mal 1:11 and 14 to construct a citation, attributed to the Lord, that instructed those quarreling to reconcile before praying. But in the OT context, “prayer,” that is, the offering of incense and declaring of God’s name, is not the sole topic; it is rather symbolic of the gracious outward turn of God to the nations and pronouncement of judgment on the corrupt temple-centered worship.
The function of the echo in the Pauline texts is to explore the implications of this prophetic promise in the new eschatological reality of the church. Viewed within this line of OT promise, the churches’ prayer (1 Cor 1:2; 1 Tim 2:8) and Paul’s apostolic ministry (2 Cor 2:14; 1 Thess 1:8; 1 Tim 2:7) become signs of the fulfillment of God’s promise to offer salvation to “the nations.” Equally, the church in its proclamation and prayer becomes the vehicle by which promise is fulfilled. This is exactly the eschatological perspective Paul had of his ministry (Rom 9–11; 15:9–13; Gal 1:15–16), so it is hardly surprising to find it extended here to a discussion of the church’s prayer responsibility within the Pauline mission.33 Within the broader context of 1 Tim 2:8, this echo of Mal 1:11 resonates with the theme of universality and prayer in support of Paul’s mission (2:1–6) and Paul’s self-understanding of his calling to the Gentiles (“herald, apostle … teacher of the Gentiles”; 2:7) to underline the intrinsic place of prayer within the gospel ministry and the ministry of this church. Paul’s audience would have been sensitive to the thematic cue. But equally this missiological frame forces the conduct both of Christian men (holiness) and women (modesty) to be evaluated in terms of its effect on observant outsiders.
2:8 / This sentence is tied to what precedes by the conjunction oun (“therefore”), untranslated in the niv (probably because it was understood to be transitional). “Therefore,” Paul says, “while we’re on the subject, as the people gather to pray be sure it is for prayer and not in anger or disputing.” That is, the instruction is neither that men should pray nor that only men pray nor that they should do so with uplifted hands, but that when at prayer they should do so without engaging in controversies.
This is to be so everywhere, that is, “in every place where believers gather in and around Ephesus” (the house-churches). To lift up holy hands while in prayer is the assumed posture of prayer in both Judaism and early Christianity (see note). The imagery is that of ritual purity, hands cleansed before praying, and here refers to their not being “soiled” by anger or disputing, the particular sins of the false teachers.
2:8. Therefore, I desire men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger and disputing.
This verse picks up the theme of prayer from 2:1. Paul instructs men in the church to pray and he lays down a few guidelines for how they are to pray. It is important to see from the outset the universal nature of this command. Paul desires men ‘in every place’ to pray. This clearly goes back to verse 1, where Paul commands prayer ‘for all people’. Wherever there is a community of God’s people, the men are to pray.
The universal quality of this command sets the tone for the entire passage. Those who deny that Paul’s instructions to women in the verses that follow apply to the church today typically do so on the basis that his words are conditioned by the culture of the day or the local situation. However, nothing in the verses that follow warrants such an understanding, and the universality of Paul’s command here suggests that these are his instructions for propriety in all the churches of God. The direct instructions for men to pray makes it clear that men are to lead in public worship (cf. 1 Cor. 14:33–36).
Paul goes on to say two things about how that prayer is to be offered. First, men are to pray ‘lifting up holy hands’. The practice of praying with lifted hands was common in the Old Testament (e.g., Exod. 9:29; 1 Kings 8:22; Isa. 1:15) and was adopted by Jews and the early Christians. It symbolizes the lifting up of our hearts to God, seeking his face and worshipping him. Therefore, our hands must be ‘holy’; that is, our prayers to God should be lifted up from pure hearts.
Secondly, prayer is to be offered ‘without anger and disputing’. This qualification expounds Paul’s reference to ‘holy’ hands, though the absence of anger and disputing is certainly not the totality of what it means to be holy. These sins are only representative. Scripture clearly teaches elsewhere that our relationships with others directly affect our prayers to God (cf. 1 Peter 3:7; Matt. 6:15). ‘Anger’ indicates rupture in church relationships, not the peace and forgiveness that are to characterize the people of God. Paul’s reference to ‘disputing’ may reflect the dissension caused by the false teachers in Ephesus, yet lack of unity is common wherever ransomed sinners meet together. Indeed, it seems to characterize all the churches that Paul addresses in his letters.
Ver. 8.—Desire for will, A.V. the men for men, A.V. in every place for everywhere, A.V. disputing for doubting, A.V. I desire, etc. He takes up the subject again which he had opened in ver. 1, but had somewhat digressed from in vers. 4–7, and gives further directions as to the persons who are to make the prayers spoken of in ver. 1, viz. men (τοὺς ἄνδρας), not women, as it follows more at large in vers. 9–15. The stress is clearly upon “men” (or, “the men”—it makes no difference); and there is no force in Alford’s remark that in that case it would have been τοὺς ἄνδρας προσεύχεσθαι. The prayers had been already ordered in ver. 1; the additional detail, that they were to be offered by men, is now added. In every place; not, as Chrysostom thinks, in contrast to the Jewish worship, which was confined to the temple at Jerusalem, but merely meaning wherever a Christian congregation is assembled. Lifting up holy hands. Alford quotes Clem. Rom. ‘To the Corinthians,’ Ep. i. ch. 29: Προσέλθωμεν … ἐν ὁσιότητιψυχῆς ἁγνὰς καὶ ἀμιάντους χεῖρας αἴρουντες πρὸς αὐτόν (comp. Ps. 26:6; 28:2; 44:20; 63:4; 2 Chron. 6:12, 13). Without wrath. It appears from several passages in Chrysostom that the habit of praying angry prayers was not unknown in his day. “Do you pray against your brother? But your prayer is not against him, but against yourself. You provoke God by uttering those impious words, ‘Show him the same;’ ‘So do to him;’ ‘Smite him;’ ‘Recompense him;’ … and much more to the same effect” (‘Ham.’ vi.). In ‘Hom.’ viii. his comment on this passage is: “Without bearing malice.… Let no one approach God in enmity, or in an unamiable temper.” And disputing (διαλογισμοῦ). The exact meaning of διαλογισμός is perhaps best seen in Luke 5:21, 22, where both the verb and the substantive are used. The διαλογισμοὶ are cavillings, questionings proceeding from a captious, unbelieving spirit. They are διαλογισμοὶ πονηροὶ (Matt. 15:19). The word is always used in a bad sense in the New Testament. Forms of prayer were not yet established in the Church, but these cautions show the need of them.
8. I wish therefore that men may pray. This inference depends on the preceding statement; for, as we saw in the Epistle to the Galatians, we must receive “the Spirit of adoption,” in order that we may call on God in a proper manner. Thus, after having exhibited the grace of Christ to all, and after having mentioned that he was given to the Gentiles for the express purpose, that they might enjoy the same benefit of redemption in common with the Jews, he invites all in the same manner to pray; for faith leads to calling on God. Hence, at Rom. 15:9, he proves the calling of the Gentiles by these passages. “Let the Gentiles rejoice with his people.” (Ps. 67:5.) Again, “All ye Gentiles, praise God.” (Ps. 117:1.) Again, “I will confess to thee among the Gentiles.” (Ps. 18:49.) The material argument holds good, from faith to prayer, and from prayer to faith, whether we reason from the cause to the effect, or from the effect to the cause. This is worthy of observation, because it reminds us that God reveals himself to us in his word, that we may call upon him; and this is the chief exercise of faith.
In every place. This expression is of the same import as in the beginning of the First Epistle to the Corinthians, “with all that in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord,” (1 Cor. 1:2,) so that there is now no difference between Gentile and Jew, between Greek and barbarian, because all in common have God as their Father; and in Christ is now fulfilled what Malachi had foretold, that not only in Judea, but throughout the whole world, pure sacrifices are offered. (Mal. 1:11.)
Lifting up pure hands. As if he had said, “Provided that it be accompanied by a good conscience, there will be nothing to prevent all the nations from calling upon God everywhere. But he has employed the sign instead of the reality, for “pure hands” are the expressions of a pure heart; just as, on the contrary, Isaiah rebukes the Jews for lifting up “bloody hands,” when he attacks their cruelty. (Isa. 1:15.) Besides, this attitude has been generally used in worship during all ages; for it is a feeling which nature has implanted in us, when we ask God, to look upwards, and has always been so strong, that even idolaters themselves, although in other respects they make a god of images of wood and stone, still retained the custom of lifting up their hands to heaven. Let us therefore learn that the attitude is in accordance with true godliness, provided that it be attended by the corresponding truth which is represented by it, namely, that, having been informed that we ought to seek God in heaven, first, we should form no conception of Him that is earthly or carnal; and, secondly, that we should lay aside carnal affections, so that nothing may prevent our hearts from rising above the world. But idolaters and hypocrites, when they lift up their hands in prayer, are apes; for while they profess, by the outward symbol, that their minds are raised upwards, the former are fixed on wood and stone, as if God were shut up in them, and the latter, wrapped up either in useless anxieties, or in wicked thoughts, cleave to the earth; and therefore, by a gesture of an opposite meaning, they bear testimony against themselves.
Without wrath. Some explain this to mean a burst of indignation, when the conscience fights with itself, and, so to speak, quarrels with God, which usually happens when adversity presses heavily upon us; for then we are displeased that God does not send us immediate assistance, and are agitated by impatience. Faith is also shaken by various assaults; for, in consequence of his assistance not being visible, we are seized with doubts, whether or not he cares about us, or wishes us to be saved, and things of that nature.
They who take this view think that the word disputing denotes that alarm which arises from doubt. Thus, according to them, the meaning would be, that we should pray with a peaceful conscience and assured confidence. Chrysostom and others think that the apostle here demands that our minds should be calm and free from all uneasy feelings both towards God and towards men; because there is nothing that tends more to hinder pure calling on God than quarrels and strife. On this account Christ enjoins, that if any man be at variance with his brother, he shall go and be reconciled to him before offering his gift on the altar.
For my part, I acknowledge that both of these views are just; but when I take into consideration the context of this passage, I have no doubt that Paul had his eye on the disputes which arose out of the indignation of the Jews at having the Gentiles made equal to themselves, in consequence of which they raised a controversy about the calling of the Gentiles, and went so far as to reject and exclude them from the participation of grace. Paul therefore wishes that debates of this nature should be put down, and that all the children of God of every nation and country should pray with one heart. Yet there is nothing to restrain us from drawing from this particular statement a general doctrine.
8. Paul now resumes the subject of prayer. The authority which he has just vindicated shines out in the opening verb I want (boulomai), which may be regarded almost as a command. Paul is expressing more than a passing desire. For him prayer was a matter of great importance.
Presumably the singling out here of men as those who should pray must be taken in conjunction with what is afterwards said about women (verse 9). In using the phrase everywhere (lit. ‘in every place’), Paul may be echoing Malachi 1:10–11 (cf. Brox), but the phrase is typically Pauline (cf. 1 Cor. 1:2; 2 Cor. 2:14; 1 Thess. 1:8), while the practice of lifting up hands was common among Jews and pagans as well as Christians when in the attitude of prayer (cf. Lock). Although constant prayer is here regarded as a matter of Christian obligation, the gesture mentioned is incidental to the qualifying adjective holy. Worshippers with hands stained by unworthy deeds must first be cleansed before approaching God in prayer (cf. Ps. 26:6). The closing words of this verse without anger or disputing show that wrong attitudes of mind are as alien to the holy place of prayer as sullied hands. Not merely pure actions but pure motives are essential in Christian worship.
Everywhere (literally ‘in every place’, namely wherever public prayer is offered) the men are to lift up holy hands … without anger or disputing (8). Here are three universal characteristics of public prayer, or, expressing them negatively, three hindrances to prayer, namely sin, anger and quarrelling. The reference to ‘holy hands’ reminds us of Psalm 24, in which those who wish to ascend the hill of the Lord and stand in his holy place must have ‘clean hands and a pure heart’. Here too Paul uses ‘the outward sign for the inward reality, for our hands indicate a pure heart’. So it is useless to spread out our hands to God in prayer if they are defiled with sin.79 As for anger and quarrelling, it is obviously inappropriate to approach God in prayer if we are harbouring resentment or bitterness against him or other people. As Jesus himself insisted, reconciliation must precede worship.
So holiness, love and peace are indispensable to prayer. But what about the lifting up of our hands—is this equally essential? No, bodily postures and gestures in prayer are cultural, and a wide range of variations occurs in Scripture. The normal posture while worshipping was to stand, as when the Levites summoned the people to ‘stand up and praise the Lord your God’. And while standing before God, it seems to have been common either to ‘lift’ the hands to him or to ‘spread’ them before him, as an expression of dependence and faith. So we read: ‘I lift my hands towards your Most Holy Place’, and ‘Let us lift up our hearts and our hands to God in heaven’.82 Meanwhile, the eyes could also be lifted up in expectation or else be cast down in humble penitence.84
But standing was not the only acceptable prayer posture. David ‘sat before the Lord’, and many times we read of people, especially in times of humiliation, anguish or confession, bowing down or kneeling before God.86 Sometimes it seemed natural to God’s people to express their sense of awe in his presence by prostrating themselves, with their faces to the ground, especially after a vision of the majesty of God.88
To sum up, although holiness, love and peace should always accompany our prayers, yet whether we stand, sit, bow down, kneel or fall on our faces, and whether our hands are lifted, spread, folded, clasped, clapping or waving are matters of little consequence, although we may be inclined to agree with William Hendriksen that ‘the slouching position of the body, while one is supposed to be praying, is an abomination to the Lord’. Otherwise, we need to make sure that our posture is both appropriate to our culture and genuinely expressive of our inward devotion. For Jesus warned us of the dangers of religious ostentation,90 and our worship must never be allowed to degenerate into ‘a piece of sacred pantomime’.
2:8 In every place of worship. Lit., “in every place” (en panti topō [3956/5117, 4246/5536]) probably refers to multiple house churches. As the community of believers in a particular locale grew too large to meet in one house, other house churches were formed.
I want. This does not simply denote wishing that something were so. It includes the expectation that it will indeed happen: “I will it” (boulomai [1014, 1089]).
holy hands. In Greek, words with the stem hosi- pertain to the service or worship owed by human beings to God. When used to describe a person, hosios [3741, 4008] means “pious,” “devout,” or “religious.”
lifted up to God. The words “to God” are implied by the context.
controversy. The Greek term dialogismos [1261, 1369] has to do with family squabbles rather than church intrigue.
III. Where it is to be offered. “Everywhere.” Now, this is opposed to restriction or respect. Let us see what we can make of it in either of these views. You remember the Assyrians thought that the God of Israel was the God of the hills, and not of the valleys. And when Balaam was baffled in one of his endeavours to curse Israel, he went to another place to see if he could be more prosperous, and to try if he could curse them from thence. You see how the devotions of the heathens always depended upon times, and places, or pilgrimages. Anong the Jews, who were for a time under a Theocracy, God chose a place where He might reside, and where were the symbols of His presence, and there all the males resorted thrice in the year; but even then God said to Moses, “In all places where I record My name, I will come unto thee and bless thee.” What think you of those sons and daughters of superstition and bigotry who would confine God to particular places and stations? Where was Jacob when he said, “This is none other than the house of God and the gate of heaven”? Where did Paul take leave of his friends? “He kneeled down on the seashore.” Where did the Saviour pray? “He went out into a private place,” “He went into a desert place,” “He went up into a mountain to pray.” When Jones, a famous Welsh preacher, was commanded to appear before the Bishop of St. David’s, the bishop said to him, “I must insist upon it that you never preach upon unconsecrated ground.” “My lord,” said he, “I never do; I never did; for ‘the earth is the Lord’s and the fulness thereof’; and when Immanuel came down to set His foot upon our earth, the whole was sanctified by it.” God is no more a respecter of places than of persons. This should also encourage you when you are under disadvantageous circumstances. For instance, if you are called to assemble in a very poor place, or in a very small place, He Himself hath said, “Where two or three are gathered together in My name”—let it be where it will—“there am I in the midst of them.” But now, further, as men may pray everywhere, so they ought to pray everywhere. The injunction not only allows, but enjoins, universal prayer. The duty is more opposed to neglect than even restriction. Men should pray everywhere, because they may die everywhere. They have died in all places: they have died in a bath, they have died in a tavern, they have died upon the road, they have died in the temple of God. You are therefore to pray everywhere. But what are we to say of those who, instead of praying “everywhere,” pray nowhere?
A Scripture description of prayer:—
III. The reasons by which this employment in this spirit may especially be enforced. 1. First, this employment in this spirit is directly commanded by God. 2. Again; this employment in this spirit is connected with numerous and invaluable blessings. Is it not associated with blessing to ourselves, and have we not been distinctly informed that the great instrument of the continuance of spiritual blessings to us, when converted by Divine grace, has been the agency of prayer? 3. And then it must be observed that the neglect of this employment in this spirit is attended and succeeded by numerous and by fatal evils. No man is a converted man who does not pray. No man can be a happy man who does not pray. No man can possess the slightest indication of the spiritual favour of God who does not pray. (J. Parsons.)
Prayer without anger:—“Anger,” says he, “is a short madness, and an eternal enemy to discourse and a fair conversation: it is a fever in the heart, and a calenture in the head, and a sword in the hand, and a fury all over and therefore can never suffer a man to be in a disposition to pray. For prayer is the peace of our spirits, the stillness of our thoughts, the evenness of recollection, the rest of our cares, and the calm of our temper; prayer is the issue of a quiet mind, of untroubled thoughts: it is the daughter of charity and the sister of meekness: and he that prays to God with an angry, that is, with a troubled and discomposed spirit, is like him that retires into a battle to meditate, and sets up his closet in the out-quarters of an army, and chooses a frontier garrison to be wise in. For so have I seen a lark rising from his bed of grass, and soaring upwards, and singing as he rises, and hopes to get to heaven, and rise above the clouds; but the poor bird was beaten back with the loud sighings of an eastern wind, till the little creature was forced to sit down and pant, and stay till the storm was over: and then it made a prosperous flight, and did rise and sing, as if it had learned music and motion from an angel.” (Jeremy Taylor.)
Praying everywhere:—Forty years ago, Audubon, the distinguished American naturalist, was pursuing his vocation in a wild, remote, and, as he believed, perfectly uninhabited district of Labrador. Rising up from the bare ground after a cold night’s rest he beheld, on one of the granite rocks which strew that desolate plain, the form of a man accurately outlined against the dawn, his head raised to heaven, his hands clasped and beseeching. Before this rapt and imploring figure stood a small monument of unhewn stones supporting a wooden cross. The only dweller on that inhospitable shore had come out from his hut to the open air, that without barrier or hindrance his solitary supplication might go up directly unto Him who does not dwell in the temples that are made with hands.
Wrath and prayer:—Prayer is represented in the gospel as a holy and solemn act, which we cannot surround with too many safeguards, in order to prevent anything of a profane and worldly nature from interfering with the reverential freedom of this con verse between the creature and its Creator. Prayer prepares for acts of self-denial, courage, and charity, and these in their turn prepare for prayer. No one should be surprised at this double relation between prayer and life. Is it not natural that we should retire to be with God, that we may renew our sense of His presence, draw on the treasures of light and strength which He opens to every heart that implores Him, and afterwards return to active life, better provided with love and wisdom? On the other hand, is it not natural that we should prepare by purity of conduct to lift up pure hands to God, and carefully keep aloof from everything that might render this important and necessary act either difficult, or formidable, or useless? The words introduced at the end of the verse so unexpectedly, and which we believe, for a moment, excite surprise in every reader—these words, “without wrath and doubting,” contain a very marked and impressive allusion to the circumstances in which Christians were then placed. The question is anew brought before you at every new attack of your enemies; in other words, every new attack will necessarily tempt you to wrath and disputation as you are men, if it do not urge you to prayer as you are Christians. You cannot escape from wrath except by prayer, nor from hatred except by love; and not to be a murderer, since hatred is murder, you must as much as in you lies give life to him to whom you wished to give death. At least it is necessary to ask it for him, it is necessary by your prayers to beget him to a new existence; it is necessary in all cases, while praying for him, to exert yourselves in loving him. It is necessary that wrath and disputation be extinguished and die away in prayer. Two classes of men may excite in us wrath and disputation. The former are the enemies of our persons, those who, from interest, envy, or revenge, are opposed to our happiness, and more generally all those who have done us wrong, or against whom we have ground of complaint. The latter are those who become our enemies from the opposition of their views and opinions to ours, or the opposition of their conduct to our wishes. Both are to us occasions of wrath and disputation. The gospel requires that they be to us occasions of prayer. In regard to the former, I mean our personal enemies, I might simply observe that God does not know them as our enemies. God does not enter into our passions, or espouse our resentments. He sanctions and approves all the relations which He has Himself created, those of parent and child, husband and wife, sovereign and subject. But the impious relation of enemy to enemy is entirely our work, or rather the work of the devil. God knows it only to denounce it. Besides, in His eye the whole body of mankind are only men, and some in the relation which they stand to each other, only brethren. You would wish to pray for your friends alone; but this very prayer is forbidden, and remains impossible, if you do not extend it to your enemies. And if you persist in excluding them from your prayers, be assured that God will not even accept those which you offer to Him in behalf of the persons whom you love. Your supplications will be rejected; the smoke of your offering will fall back upon your offering; your desires will not reach that paternal heart which is ever open. Not only ought we to pray for our enemies, although they be our enemies; but we ought to pray for them because they are our enemies. As soon as they again become to us like the rest of mankind another distinction takes place, and a new right arises in their favour. They are confounded for a moment with all our other fellows, in order afterwards to stand forth from the general mass as privileged beings, with a special title to our prayers. When we meet with an opposition which frets and irritates us, Christian prudence counsels us to pray that the temptation may be removed; and, in particular, that our self-love and injured feelings may not weaken our love for our neighbour. But this prudence, if it counsels nothing further, is not prudent enough. If the same feeling which disposes us to pray does not dispose us to pray for our enemies or opponents, it is difficult to believe that it is a movement of charity. Charity cannot be thus arrested. Its nature is to overcome evil with good, and this means not merely that it does not render evil for evil, but that in return for evil it renders good. It would not be charity if it did less. Its first step overleaps the imaginary limit which it does not even see or know. It does not restrict itself to not hating; it loves. It would not do enough if it did not do more than enough. Can we renew our hatred for one for whom we have prayed? Does not every desire, every request which we send up to God for him endear him to us the more? Does not each prayer set him more beyond the reach of our passions? No; not till then is the work of mercy accomplished. We have no evidence of having pardoned an enemy until we have prayed for him. For to allege the gravity, the extent of the offence which we have received, has no plausibility. If we have brought ourselves to pardon him who has committed it, we might surely bring ourselves to pray for him; and if we cannot pray for him we have not pardoned him. An offence! But think well of it; can we really be offended? The term is too lofty, too grand for us. The offence may have grated very painfully on our feelings, or thwarted our interests, but it has gone no farther. Whatever injustice may have been done us, whatever cause we may have to complain, that is not the real evil. What evil absolutely is there in having our faith tried and our patience exercised? Because our fortune has been curtailed, our reputation compromised, our affections thwarted, does the world go on less regularly than it did? Not at all. The evil, the only real evil is the sin of that soul, the infraction of the eternal law, the violence offered to Divine order; and if any other evil is to be added to this, it will be by our murmurings, since the effect of them will be to make two sinners in place of one. Do you then seek a reason for refusing your intercession, and consequently your pardon to your adversaries? I have found one, and it is a fit ground for resentment: God your Father was insulted in the insult which you experienced. But show me, pray, the extraordinary man who, quite ready to pardon on his own account, cannot resolve to pardon on God’s account! It may belong to God to be angry with them; us it becomes only to pity them, and pity them the more, the more grievously God has been offended. But alas! instead of seeing in the injury which we have received only an injury done to God, we insolently appropriate to ourselves the offence of which He alone is the object. In what hurts Him we feel ourselves offended, and consequently become angry, instead of being grieved. It will be well if, instead of praying, we have not cursed! Contrast the ordinary fruits of wrath and debate with these results of prayer. In yielding to the former, not only do you place yourself in opposition to the holy law of God, but you destroy the peace of your life and the peace of your soul; you aggravate the evils of a situation already deplorable; you kindle up hatred in the heart of your enemy; you render reconciliation on his part, as well as on yours, always more difficult; you run from sin to sin in order to lull your pride, and this pride gives you only a bitter, poisoned, and criminal enjoyment. How much better, then, is prayer than wrath and strife! But personal enemies are not the only ones who are to us the occasion of wrath and strife. The class of enemies, as we have already said, includes all those whose opinions, views, and conduct are in opposition to our interests or our principles. How little does the impatience which they excite differ from hatred! With regard to such enemies, our usual method is to hate in silence if we feel ourselves weak, or to dispute obstinately if we believe ourselves strong. The gospel proposes another method. It approves neither of hatred nor strife. Zeal, courage, perseverance, indignation itself, must all be pervaded with charity, or rather, proceed from charity. Indignation and prayer must spring from a common source; the former from love to God, the latter from love to men, and consequently both from love. How widely different is this conduct from that which is commonly pursued in the world! Let Government commit an error, it is greedily laid hold of and bitterly commented on; and this is all that is done. Let a religious teacher profess a system which is judged dangerous; his minutest expressions are laid hold of, and isolated so as to distort their meaning; his life is boldly explained by his opinions, or his opinions by his life, and there the matter rests. To pray, to entreat the Lord to shed His enlightening Spirit on this government, on that teacher, on that individual; to wrestle for them in presence of the Divine mercy, ah! this is what is seldom thought of. Ah! the Divine Intercessor must have fully established His abode in the soul before the spirit of intercession can dwell there! How difficult is it for the old leaven to lose its sourness! What seeds of hatred, what homicidal germs are in the heart which has received Jesus Christ! How much of Cain still remains in this pretended Abel! And what avails it to believe much if we love little, or to believe if we do not love? And truly, what have we believed, in whom have we believed, if we do not love? (A. Vinet, D.D.)
2:8 “Therefore I want the men in every place to pray” Not all men can pray in public/corporate worship. The phrase “in every place” probably refers to house churches in or near Ephesus. Acceptable prayer is defined in three ways in verse 8: (1) lifting holy hands, (2) unstained by anger, and (3) without dissensions. These qualifications clearly show Paul is speaking to the faithful believers and excluding the false teachers, their surrogate speakers (possibly young widows), and their followers.
© “lifting up holy hands” This was the normal position of Jewish prayer. It mandates that believers’ words and lives ought to agree (cf. James 4:8).
© “without wrath” This is the Greek term orgā, which means “a settled opposition” (cf. Matt. 5:23–24; 6:15). Anger at others does affect our relationship with God (cf. Matt. 5:21–24; Mark 11:25; 1 John 2:9, 11; 4:20–21).
|NRSV, TEV, NJB
Greek philosophers used this term for a teaching session or dialogue. In the NT it has a negative connotation. Here, it refers to either the context of the teachings or the inappropriate, angry, and disruptive attitude of the debaters.
8. I will then that in every place the men offer prayer.
Paul, exercising his full authority as an apostle of Jesus Christ, continues to give directions. The translation of the A.V. “I will” fits the context and suits the word that is used in the original. The word then (either loosely inferential or continuative; cf. N.T.C. on John, Vol. II, p. 386, footnote 246) connects this paragraph with the preceding. Prayers must be offered in behalf of all people (verses 1–7); hence, let these prayers be offered; not, however, by the women but by the men (verse 8). It is clear that the verb offer prayer or simply pray must here be taken in the broadest sense, including every form of invocation mentioned in 2:1 (see on that passage).
Such prayers must be offered “in every place” of public worship. Often a large room in the house of one of the members would be used for that purpose. There were probably several places of worship in Ephesus and surroundings. In order and manner of worship the customs prevailing in the synagogue were followed as far as possible. The idea that the men should lead in prayer cannot have surprised those who were used to the synagogue, except in so far as Paul’s emphasis on the equality of the sexes “in Christ” (Gal. 3:28) may have caused some to wonder whether this spiritual emancipation of women might not imply a change in their position in public worship. Moreover, it must be borne in mind that many of the converts had been gathered from the Gentile world. And the church was still very young, with new centers of worship being established right along. Moreover, the possibility that false teachers had been spreading erroneous ideas with respect to the respective roles of men and women “in church” must not be entirely dismissed. However this may have been, Paul knew, at any rate, that instruction was necessary with respect to this point. He emphasizes that the Christian faith does not call for a complete break with the past. The presence of women in the religious assembly is, of course, assumed. Paul’s point is that these women should pray as Hannah did, “She spoke in her heart; only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard” (1 Sam. 1:13).
As for the men, they should offer prayer, lifting up holy hands without wrath and evil deliberation. Posture in prayer is never a matter of indifference. The slouching position of the body while one is supposed to be praying is an abomination to the Lord. On the other hand, it is also true that Scripture nowhere prescribes one, and only one, correct posture during prayer. Different positions of arms, hands, and of the body as a whole, are indicated. All of these are permissible as long as they symbolize different aspects of the worshipper’s reverent attitude, and as long as they truly interpret the sentiments of the heart. Note the following Prayer Postures:
(1). Standing: Gen. 18:22; 1 Sam. 1:26; Matt. 6:5; Mark 11:25; Luke 18:11; Luke 18:13. (Note the contrast between the last two passages. It makes a difference even how and where one stands.)
(2). Hands Spread Out or/and Lifted Heavenward: Ex. 9:29; Ex. 17:11, 12; 1 Kings 8:22; Neh. 8:6; Psalm 63:4; Psalm 134:2; Psalm 141:2; Is. 1:15; Lam. 2:19; Lam. 3:41; Hab. 3:10; Luke 24:50; 1 Tim. 2:8; James 4:8. (Compare the “Orantes” of the Catacombs. And see A. Deissmann, Light From the Ancient East, translated by L. R. M. Strachan, fourth edition, New York 1922, pp. 415, 416.)
(3). Bowing the Head: Gen. 24:48 (cf. verse 13); Ex. 12:27; 2 Chron. 29:30; Luke 24:5.
(4). The Lifting Heavenward of the Eyes: Psalm 25:15; Psalm 121:1; Psalm 123:1, 2; Psalm 141:8; Psalm 145:15; John 11:41; John 17:1; cf. Dan. 9:3; Acts 8:35.
(5). Kneeling: 2 Chron. 6:13; Psalm 95:6; Is. 45:23; Dan. 6:10; Matt. 17:14; Mark 1:40; Luke 22:41; Acts 7:60; Acts 9:40; Acts 20:36; Acts 21:5; Eph. 3:14.
(6). Falling Down with the Face Upon the Ground: Gen. 17:3; Gen. 24:26; Num. 14:5, 13; Num. 16:4, 22, 45; Num. 22:13, 34; Deut. 9:18, 25, 26; Jos. 5:14; Judg. 13:20; Neh. 8:6; Ezek. 1:28; Ezek. 3:23; Ezek. 9:8; Ezek. 11:13; Ezek. 43:3; Ezek. 44:4; Dan. 8:17; Matt. 26:39; Mark 7:25; Mark 14:35; Luke 5:12; Luke 17:16; Rev. 1:17; Rev. 11:16.
(7). Other Postures: 1 Kings 18:42 (bowing, with face between the knees); Luke 18:13 (standing from afar, striking the breast).
As is clear from this final reference, the indicated postures and positions of members of the body may occur in various combinations. In Luke 18:13 (1) and (7) are combined. 1 Kings 8:22 (Solomon) combines (1) and (2). Neh. 8:6 combines (1) and (3). John 11:41 (see verse 38) links (1) with (4). In addition to being combined with (1), number (2) may also be combined with (5), “Solomon arose from the altar of Jehovah, from kneeling on his knees, with his hands spread forth toward heaven” (1 Kings 8:54; cf. Ezra 9:5). Moreover, the bow (3) was often so deep that the person would fall prostrate upon the ground (6). See, for example, Num. 22:31. In fact, a favorite method of prostration among Orientals has always been falling upon the knees (5), then gradually inclining the body, bowing the head until it touches the ground (3), which may become (6). And even in most cases where Scripture does not definitely indicate this, it may be gathered from the context that the man who spread out or lifted up his hands was standing. That is the case also in our present passage (1 Tim. 2:8).
Now all these postures were appropriate. The standing position (1) indicates reverence. The lifting up or spreading out of the hands (2)—arms outstretched, with palms upward—is a fit symbol of utter dependence on God and of humble expectancy. Bowing the head (3) is the outward expression of the spirit of submission. The lifting heavenward of the eyes (4) indicates that one believes that his help comes from Jehovah, from him alone. Kneeling (5) pictures humility and adoration. Falling down with face toward the ground (6) is the visible manifestation of awe in the divine presence. Striking the breast (7) beautifully harmonizes with the feeling of utter unworthiness.
The present custom of closing the eyes while folding the hands is of disputed origin. Though unrecorded in Scripture and unknown to the early church, the custom may be considered a good one if properly interpreted. It helps the worshipper to shut out harmful distractions and to enter the sphere where “none but God is near.” It is, at any rate, far better than some postures of the body that prevail among moderns when prayer is being offered.
What is stressed, however, throughout Scripture and also in the passage now under study, is not the posture of the body or the position of the hands but the inner attitude of the soul. The hands that are lifted up must be holy, that is, they must be hands unpolluted by previous crimes. A man who has just committed a murder or an act of adultery or a theft must not think that without pardon and restitution, when this “making good” is possible, his hands can now be lifted up in a prayer that is pleasing to God. See Psalm 24:3, 4; cf. Matt. 5:23, 24.
Moreover, this lifting up of hands must be done “without wrath and evil deliberation.” Wrath (cf. N.T.C. on John 3:36), that is, settled indignation against a brother, the attitude of the unmerciful debtor of the parable (Matt. 18:21–35), makes prayer unacceptable (see also, in this connection, Matt. 6:14, 15; Eph. 4:31, 32; Col. 3:8; Jas. 1:19, 20). And so does evil deliberation of any kind whatever. The word used in the original is related to our English word dialogue. The soul of man is so constituted that it can carry on a dialogue with itself. Thus a man can debate within himself whether he shall do this to his neighbor or that, balancing one thought against another (our word deliberate—from Latin de and libra—literally means to thoroughly weigh, libra being a balance). Although the word used in the original does not in itself brand the dialoguing as being evil (see Luke 2:35, in which passage the deliberations referred to are not necessarily evil), yet it is worthy of note (cf. Gen. 6:5; 8:21) that in almost every passage in which it is used the deliberation referred to is clearly of a sinful nature (Matt. 15:19; Mark 7:21; Luke 5:22; 6:8; 9:46, 47; Rom. 1:21; 14:1; 1 Cor. 3:20; Phil. 2:14. In Luke 2:35 it indicates doubting, questioning). Here in 1 Tim. 2:8 the use of the word in conjunction with wrath makes this meaning certain.
The sum and substance, therefore, of the present admonition is that in public worship the men, not the women, should stand with uplifted hands and offer prayer aloud. The elders naturally would take the lead (1 Tim. 5:17). These hands, however, must be holy, and the prayer must be offered in the proper spirit. If the heart of a person is filled with wrath or malice against his brother, so that he is planning evil against him, prayer will not be acceptable.
Paul next turned his concern to orderly, proper worship. Though his comments were directed to particular disturbances and troubles within the Ephesian church, we can extract principles that are applicable to all times and cultures.
2:8. Paul wrote, I want men everywhere to lift up holy hands in prayer. His first directive for worship was given to men. He did not use the generic word signifying mankind, but a word specifically targeting males.
In the original Greek text the sentence begins, “Therefore, I want men.” This connective word takes us back to the beginning of the preceding paragraph where Paul urged the congregation to pray especially for those in authority. He reasoned that if Christians could live in peace and harmony, this would create an environment for the spread of the gospel. With the salvation of the lost in mind, Paul looked at the men of the church and instructed them in effective prayer.
As followers of Jesus Christ, we are encouraged to “approach the throne of grace with confidence” (Heb. 4:16) and to come with the affection and security of a child, by the Spirit crying, “Abba, Father” (Rom. 8:15). Even so, we must remember that in prayer we are approaching God himself. Along with reassurance comes warning: we must be in proper relationship with our holy God.
Paul’s emphasis was on holiness, not physical posturing. The most general demeanor for prayer in the ancient world, for pagans, Jews, and Christians alike, was to stand with hands outstretched and uplifted, palms turned upwards. The frescoes in the Roman catacombs provide vivid illustrations from the life of the early church. The Jews ceremonially washed their hands before prayer as a symbol of spiritual cleanness because the hands represented the condition of a person’s soul and heart. “Who may ascend the hill of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart” (Ps. 24:3–4). It was in the spirit of such understanding and practice that Paul instructed men to pray with holy hands—to pray out of a character of righteousness, of complete devotion to God, unpolluted with sin. The implication is that our standing before God must be right.
In addition, Paul called for proper relationship among believers: Prayers must issue forth to God without anger or disputing.
The Spirit of God promotes unity, harmony, and order; these are divine qualities. Any time we pervert our identity in Christ and become entangled in divisions, factions, and chaos, the church’s mission is compromised, and our prayers are hindered. Our standing with others must be right.
 Köstenberger, A. (2006). 1 Timothy. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians–Philemon (Revised Edition) (Vol. 12, p. 513). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
 Calvin, J., & Pringle, W. (2010). Commentaries on the Epistles to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon (pp. 63–65). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.
 Utley, R. J. (2000). Paul’s Fourth Missionary Journey: I Timothy, Titus, II Timothy (Vol. Volume 9, p. 30). Marshall, Texas: Bible Lessons International.
 Larson, K. (2000). I & II Thessalonians, I & II Timothy, Titus, Philemon (Vol. 9, p. 168). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.
I have the privilege to talk to you about something that you may not need to hear about today. You may not need to hear about it this year, you may not need to hear about it this decade, but if you live long enough in this sin-cursed world, you will need to hear and think about the subject of how to deal with pain that won’t go away. Certainly all of us as biblical counselors are seeking to grow in our ability to minister hope to those that are struggling with pain. I believe that God in His kindness has given us three expressions of His grace to us as we face and deal with chronic pain. They are prayer, promises, and people. For prayer, we’re talking about a particular kind of prayer. We’ll look at this in detail; we’ll spend most of our time focusing on the kind of prayer that’s found in Psalm 13. Then we have the promises of God that sustain us in the crucible of suffering. Lastly, God has given us a people to do life with while we’re suffering—that, of course, is the local church.
The first gift God gives to us when the pain will not leave is prayer. We’re going to talk about how to honor God when you’re in pain—not a little pain, not just having a bad day, we’re talking about pain that doesn’t go away over a prolonged period of time. It could be linked to the loss of physical health. It could be tied to the disintegration of a dream relationship. It could be wrapped up in the loss of a dream job and the tailspin that came following that. The point is, it is some very significant loss, and something that is compounded by the fact that when you pray, you don’t know what to say anymore. You love God. You have prayed, but you don’t know what to pray about this any longer because every time you pray and get up off your knees, it doesn’t seem like anything has changed the situation.
What do you do when you find yourself in a season of life like that—a season of pain with no end in sight? Now, I’m always hesitant to do what I’m about to do, and that is become personal for a few moments. I’ve experienced pain more than once where I’ve hurt so badly that I found myself on the floor crying out to the Lord. A big part of it was the physical pain. I’ve battled migraine headaches for 31 years. Over that time I’ve tried fifteen different doctors, five neurologists, and whole bunch of other things to deal with migraine pain that came 15 days a month for several years. I’m grateful, which I’ll tell you a little more about later, that has changed in the last year and a half some.
I’ve experienced pain, pressure in my forehead, temples, eyes, and the agony of being in the presence of any stimulus—like light, or the perfumes my wife used to love, fabric softeners, things that would trigger that. I’ve known the inability to lay down and sleep. But it’s not just the physical. During a three-month sabbatical break in 2012, which our church family was so gracious to give, I found myself two-thirds of the way into the break when I started to plummet into depression. My physical pain was actually worse into the break. I had been to the Cleveland Clinic, they’re trying different medications, and yet I’m worse than I was when I started the break.
I’m thinking, “What good is a pastor that can’t use a computer? It’s hard to read my Bible. I don’t want to be with people. I’m spending considerable amounts of time in dark rooms. And I love being a pastor. I love the ministry God’s called me to, and I’m not able to do that or I don’t think I’m going to be able to continue to do that.”
Now as I’m struggling with the physical, there’s this turmoil that’s going on.
I’m hesitant to be so transparent for many reasons. One of which is I understand that for what I have just described, you may be thinking, “Wait until you really suffer.” You may have a PhD and I’m in elementary school when it comes to pain. But I’ve learned something about pain. Pain is a relative thing. What you consider to be a difficult pain and what someone else might—there are differences.
First Corinthians 10:13 helps me know that a sovereign God allows us to face differing amounts of pain. We have different load capacities when it comes to suffering. The issue isn’t to compare your pain with someone else’s pain. The issue is that you’re in a situation where you’re struggling with a pain that doesn’t go away and it’s affecting how you do life. First we’ll answer the question, “How do you pray?”
We’ll read through Psalm 13. This isn’t being melodramatic: This Psalm has saved my life many times, and I commend it to you, and I encourage you to use this Psalm with your counselees. It’s a Psalm that shows us how to pray when the pain doesn’t go away.
When you’re in that kind of pain, you need to pray and bring three things to God: Your questions (vv. 1-2), your requests (vv. 3-4), and your praise (vv. 5-6).
The heading for this Psalm tells us this is a Psalm of David. He doesn’t give the specifics that prompted him to write the Psalm. Maybe it was at the time in his life when his father-in-law tried to kill him. I mean that’s a gut wrencher for a guy in his 20s or 30s. Or maybe it was when he was in his 50s, and his own son is trying to kill him. I think that could have prompted what comes out of his heart and mouth. Maybe it was when one of his best friend’s, Ahithophel, betrayed him. Maybe it was when the Ziphites betrayed him to Saul after all he had done to help them. He doesn’t identify the time. Here he is Israel’s shepherd, and the Spirit of God is using David to minister to the people of God by showing them through his experience how to respond when you face suffering.
This is for us who, by the grace of God, have been saved from our sins by the atoning work of Jesus. These times of pain do come for Jesus’ followers.
What are we supposed to do? Pray. But pray what? Pray as follows. First of all, bring your questions to God. Psalm 13:1-2 says,
“How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I take counsel in my soul
and have sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?”
David repeats the question “how long” over and over. This so instructive, because when we feel overwhelmed this is not natural for us. We tend to turn away from God rather than to Him when we’re in a season like this. Initially we turn to Him. We ask for His help, but when the help doesn’t come quickly enough or in the way we want it, we figure we might as well look somewhere else for help. So we hunker down and start looking within ourselves, maybe to other people, perhaps to a pill, television, the bed, etc. We look to something other than God.
Another tendency I’ve noticed is that we’re prone to try and figure things out on our own. We think God doesn’t seem to be helping and people don’t seem to have any solutions.
On a humorous note, I’ve kept track over the years of all the things people have suggested as solutions for my migraines. Many times I’ve been in conversations with others saying, “Have you tried this, Brad?” One of my favorites was a 90-year-old man in our church. His wife had passed away, and when he was going through her stuff he found a newspaper clipping. It was a recommendation for migraines to take alcohol and peppermint oil and mix it together.
He gives me this clipping. There’s no ratio, it’s basically a promotion for a book you’re supposed to buy that talks about this remedy. The following weekend I had a terrible migraine. I said to my wife, “We have got to get some alcohol.” Well, that’s a whole different subject, but Wheelersberg was a dry community at the time. My wife goes to the next community on a Saturday night and goes into a Kroger store that has liquor and says, “What’s the highest proof alcohol you can sell me?” He says, “Honestly, I can’t sell it to you unless you have a license.” And he explains that their highest proof is used by plumbers to blow out their pipes. So she ends up buying a bottle of 152-proof vodka. She brought it home, and I had some peppermint oil. So we poured it into a little container mix it up. You thought it was going to be something you intake, but it’s topical. I put it on my forehead and it burned so badly, I forgot that I had a migraine for about 10 minutes. And then it came back with a vengeance.
So you’ve tried everywhere—people give you ideas. Then what do you do? We need to do what David did. He asked the Lord how long he’s going to feel abandoned. Is that reality? How long did God really forget David and hide His face from him? That’s not reality. An omniscient God can’t forget us, but this is precisely how David felt. He felt forgotten and alienated and cut off. So, what are you going to do if you feel that way and you’re praying? What are you going to say to God? Are you going to deny it? That would be foolish. He already knows what you’re feeling.
David gives us an example to follow by telling God how he feels. But make sure you do it the way David did. These are important words and they will be for your counselees: Be reverently honest.
David asked the Lord how long this inner turmoil was going to last. “How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart?” That’s vivid language. Have you ever been in a wrestling match with your thoughts? That’s not a pleasant experience.
David asked the Lord how long will this inner turmoil last? How long his enemy would prevail? Again, we don’t know which enemy he has in mind. It doesn’t matter. We do know that David had faced Goliath. David knows what God can do. Goliath is Exhibit A in his life of what God can do to an enemy. So why isn’t God doing the same to this enemy? That’s the challenge for him.
I find David’s example so helpful and I commend him to you and your counselees. There will be times in life when you feel abandoned and overwhelmed with pain. What will you do? You’ll feel like running from God. You’ll feel like trusting no one but yourself, but please don’t do that. Not only is that at its root idolatry, it leads to self-destruction, and along the way there’s a lot of peripheral destruction on the people closest to us. It’s far better to do what David did. David doesn’t play games with God. To use the language of Hebrews 4:16, he comes boldly to the throne of grace to obtain grace to help in time of need.
God can handle our questions. I don’t think this meant to be a prayer to recite—it’s a framework for praying when we’re in pain and suffering. Begin with honestly, reverently bringing our questions to God.
The second movement of the Psalm shows us to bring our requests to God. Here are David’s requests from Psalm 13:3-4, “Consider and answer me, O Lord my God; light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death, lest my enemy say, ‘I have prevailed over him,’ lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.”
There are a couple of things to note about David’s petitions. First of all, what he asked was very straightforward. He’s saying, “This is what I’m desperate for. Please help me, God.” Give light to my eyes. Think of it this way: Look and answer, give me light.” In other words, literally, “Enlighten my eyes, Lord. Help me to see what I’m missing in this situation I’m in right now. I know who you are. I know what you’re like, I’m not seeing something that I need. Please help me to see that.”
He talks about not just about the “what,” he metions the “why.” There are a couple of reasons he’s being so bold. Reason number one: Look on me and answer O Lord my God, give light to my eyes or I will sleep in death. I’m afraid I’m going to die.
Ever been there? Where you think, “I am hurting so badly right now, I don’t know how I’m going to make it through. If you don’t come now, I think I’m going to sleep the sleep of death itself.”
And the second reason: My enemy will say, “I’ve overcome him,” and my foes will rejoice when I fall. David’s saying, “I’m afraid of what the enemy will say about me and you if that happens. This is about your reputation Lord, your fame, your honor, your kingdom purposes. Please act.”
Remember David is God’s chosen king. God made a promise to David that he will be the link through which the Messiah will come into the world to provide salvation for sinners from every nation, language, and tribe. David knows this—he’s not praying a selfish prayer here. He’s praying with God’s great reputation in mind. He knows that God’s reputation is affected by what happens to him. This is true of you, and it’s true of me. We too are in a covenant relationship with the living God. We are His children if we place our faith in His son, and His death, burial, and resurrection. He calls us by His own name. If we go under, the world mocks Him. God is passionate about His name and loves to work on behalf of those who pray for His honor.
When you’re in that season of pain that won’t go away, bring your questions to God, bring your requests to God, but don’t stop there. David shows us we must finish this prayer—and every prayer—by bringing our praise to God. I love what happens in Psalm 13:5-6. David says, “But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, because he has dealt bountifully with me.”
The change in tone is so obvious. David began on his face in the pits. Now, he’s got his hands raised and he’s praising God. He ends by affirming the truth regarding God. It’s not his pain that captivates him. Now, it’s: “your unfailing love,” “your salvation,” “your goodness.” He affirms the truth of who God is.
Hesed is one of the most important words in the Old Testament. There is no one English word that captures the fullness of the Hebrew word Hesed. If you take grace, mercy, faithfulness, covenant loyalty, and truth, put all of that together and you have this word. David says this is what he’s trusting in: “I trust in your Hesed.”
One Hebrew dictionary offers this definition: A love or affection that is steadfast, based on a prior relationship. God’s affection toward us is steadfast not because we deserve it, but on the basis of a prior relationship, which He established first by creating us and then by redeeming us—bringing us into His family through adoption on the basis of the blood that His Son has shed as our substitute.
This part of this message from Psalm 13 came out of what happened back in 2012 on my sabbatical break. I finished the sabbatical break, and I came back after those three months and I sat down with our leadership. I said, “I don’t know how to say this, but the reality is I’m not any better than I was when I started this. I don’t know what that means for us right now.” The guys are so very supportive and they said, “Well, what are you thinking?” I said, “We’ve asked many of you pray. We’ve prayed as a church family. You prayed for me that God would take this away. I don’t think God wants to take this away. I think He wants to use it. I think He wants to use this season of suffering that’s going to continue for His purposes in this church. One of the things that I want to do here in these first weeks and I’m back is open the Scriptures up with the church family and share some things God’s been doing in my life.”
The message I preached week number two back was this message: How do you pray when the pain doesn’t go away from Psalm 13.
And the week before I preached that message, the Thursday prior to it, I was out running that morning in our neighborhood. I came up to a stop sign, and there in a deep ditch by the stop sign was a mangy-looking, flea-infested, ugly, old dog. I like dogs. We have a dog, but about this one I thought, “I don’t want to be near this dog.” And I went around and kept on going on my run. That evening a car goes driving in front of our house, and this guy’s got his window down and he’s saying, “Anybody seen my dog? I’ve lost my dog.” I’m thinking, “Man, if that was the dog I would just let it stay right where it was.”
I walked out to the car and I said, “Hey, I saw a dog this morning in a ditch just on the other side of the loop here, it was laying in the water in the ditch.” He said, “That’s my dog. I’m sure it was my dog, he loves the water. I was trying to give it a bath; I had its collar off and he ran away from me. I don’t know where it is now.” That night as we were going to bed, my wife Sherry says, “Did you see how disturbed that man was about losing his dog?”
And that’s the week I’m studying this work hesed: a devotion based on a prior relationship, which has been established. It isn’t because this dog was worthy of that man’s affection. He had chosen to love this dog and as an old dog, he was committed to that dog. By the way, for you dog lovers, I won’t leave you hanging—he was able to find and reconnect with his dog later. Now, you’re all feeling much better about the story.
I may feel like I’m stranded in the ditch and at times forgotten, but the truth is God’s love for me is steadfast, because it’s based not on my worth and merit, but on a prior relationship, which He established by making me and redeeming me. He will never stop loving me, for reasons meant to bring about His glory and my ultimate good. He may allow me to feel forsaken and alone, but even then He is pursuing me and keeping me safe and in the end, He will bring me home.
When I’m in the pit of pain, I need to affirm the truth of God’s unfailing love. This is who my God is—not someone who has forgotten me.
David takes it a step further. He affirms the truth of what God does: He saves. “My heart rejoices in your salvation.” Now, there’s a translation issue going on here that we could talk about, but it doesn’t change the point here. Some translations say “my heart shall rejoice in your salvation,” while others say, “my heart rejoices in your salvation.” Which direction is David looking? Is he looking ahead to what God’s going to do in terms of His saving work, or is he looking back? The point is that God is a saving God. The pain is still there, but David’s focus is now to say, “My heart rejoices in this characteristic of my God. He is a saving God.” If it’s past tense, you saved me in the past. Is he talking about big picture terms? Saying, “God, you saved me from being alienated from you and brought me into a relationship with you.” Is he talking about how God saved him all the times he faced challenges in his life from Goliath onward?
What David is doing is what we need to do in our hurting. He’s affirming the truth about God. Our God saves us. How many times have you cried out to Him and He saves you? He saves you from eternal hell, but He saves you from the challenges in your life.
Then David affirms the truth of what God has done in the past, saying, “You have been good to me.” The ESV says, “You have dealt bountifully with me.” When you’re in pain, you’re inclined to feel that you’ve gotten a raw deal out of life. “That’s not true,” says David, “You’ve been good to me.”
In other words, David says, “I may not understand what you’re doing now Lord, but I choose to interpret my painful present reality in light of your past goodness to me.” Then David ends with action verbs and he’s talking to himself. This is so vital when you’re in persistent pain after a while. It starts to wear on you and wear you down. But you cannot afford to be passive when in pain—you must do something, something very God-pleasing like David in this final movement of the prayer Psalm.
He does three things. First of all, he verbalizes. “I trust in your unfailing love.” He doesn’t just think it—he says it. He actually is writing it for the benefit of the people of God. A moment ago he was asking the Lord “how long,” now he is saying the words, “I trust.” Secondly, he verbalizes, “My heart rejoices in your salvation.” Is it possible to rejoice when your body is in pain, or when your most cherished earthly relationship has gone sour, or when you can’t see any way in the near future that life’s going to be different? Can you rejoice then? David did. There was something more important to him than health, spouse, children, job, anything that this world might offer. He says, it’s this: “My heart rejoices in your salvation. You the one that established this relationship in your hesed.” And then he announces, “I will sing to the Lord, for he has been good to me.”
He’s bringing his swirling mind back into submission to truth. He began by sharing how he felt with his head spinning in the clouds. Now, he finishes his prayer with his feet on the ground and he’s doing what a man of God is created and redeemed do: sing to the Lord. What’s so important about singing to the Lord? When we sing to the Lord, we are choosing to use what he has given us—our voices, our minds, our breath, our time, our focus, our energy—and we’re going vertical with it, to bring attention to Him. We’re reminding ourselves why we’re here when we sing. We’re engaging mind, soul, body, the whole person. We’re not just thinking, we’re not just talking, we are singing and this pleases God greatly and the byproducts are absolutely phenomenal for us.
It’s hard to keep moping and despair when you’re singing about the goodness of your God. It’s hard to keep rehearsing your list of complaints when you’re expressing out loud in song the works of your God in the past. I don’t have to feel like singing to do it.
When David says he will sing to the Lord, I don’t think he means, “I’m going to check that off my list.” I think this is going to be his mode of living moving forward. It’s vital that we who know Christ be a singing people.
How do you begin your day? I urge you, in addition to reading your Bible and praying, to sing to your Savior. Sing a song about the cross as you begin your day. How do you finish your day? Look back and sing, Great is Your Faithfulness.
In the middle of the day, when you encounter that challenging person, “Oh How He Loves You and Me.” For the past couple of years, I’ve been using Hymns of Grace in my devotional time. I’ve been singing right through the hymn book, two or three hymns a day to the Lord. I began making a list of all the hymns that deal with suffering, and there are many! I’ve counted 52 hymns dealing with suffering. Some of them I knew, some of them I didn’t. One I didn’t know was, “Jesus I My Cross Have Taken” by Harry Lyte. Verse 4 of that song says,
“Go, then, earthly fame and treasure,
Come disaster, scorn and pain
In Thy service, pain is pleasure,
With Thy favor, loss is gain
I have called Thee Abba Father,
I have stayed my heart on Thee
Storms may howl, and clouds may gather;
All must work for good to me.”
A song that was more familiar to me,
“When trials come no longer fear
For in the pain our God draws near
To fire a faith worth more than gold
And there his faithfulness is told
And there his faithfulness is told”
Prayer is not about getting God to do for us what we want. Prayer is worshipping and adoring God for who He is, even when He’s doing things our tiny little minds can’t understand. In fact, why would we expect this all-knowing, omnipotent, unrivaled God to do things that would make sense to my little pea-sized brain? He is God and singing helps us bring everything back into focus. When I don’t understand what’s going on in seasons of pain that don’t go away, I do what David does here.
We need to teach our counselees to bring questions to God. But don’t stop there or we’re being irreverent. Bring our requests to God, but don’t stop there or we’re being independent—thinking we can figure this thing out. Finish by bringing our praise to God. Affirm the truth about who He is. This is where Psalm 13 ends. Notice David’s circumstances haven’t changed one iota. David apparently is still in pain. David’s enemy is still on the attack. But what changed when David was down on his knees crying out to God bringing questions, requests, and praises to God was David. David changed. He’s not who he was when he began this time of praying. The whole tone of the Psalm is different at the end.
I can’t underscore how important this way of praying is. God just keeps reminding me of this. I was in Timisoara, Romania in 2015 and I was in a church service about to speak on how to pray when the pain doesn’t go away from Psalm 13. In the first part of the service, they were singing in Romanian. I had a lot of time to be praying while they were singing, and I remember I prayed a specific prayer, “Lord, would you do something is in this service that you alone can do to bring honor and glory to yourself?”
After they finished singing, everybody sat down and a little girl named Carla—about 8 years old—got up on the platform. There were about 200 people there that Sunday evening, which is pretty large for a Romanian church service. She gets up and she starts talking to the audience. I leaned over to Alex my translator and I said, “What is she saying?” He says, “She memorizes and recites Scripture. She’s really good at this.” I asked, “What passage is she quoting?”
Alex listens for a moment and then tells me she’s quoting Psalm 13. I said, “I’m going to preach from that in a moment. Did she know that?” He says, ‘How would she know that? I didn’t know that.” And he leans across to Pastor Peter on the other side and says, “That’s the passage he’s going to preach on.” And I’m thinking, “God’s going to do something in this service!” As if God doesn’t do something every time His word is open, but sometimes He gives us great reminders of His working.
If there’s anything the Romanian people know about—particularly the older folks—they know about suffering. I watched God take His Word that night encourage people from Psalm 13.
What do we do with this? Some suggestions: I encourage you to memorize Psalm 13, and other Psalms of Lament. When in times of pain, you’ll want this tucked away in your heart. Encourage your counselees to do the same. Music can help. I’ve written a simple song to help me memorize Psalm 13. I’ve sung it many times to the Lord and the quietness of my home.
Secondly, follow the pattern you see from David. Bring your questions, requests, and praises to God. Don’t leave out your questions.
Thirdly, share Psalm 13 with others gently. That’s key to do it gently. You may not need Psalm 13 right now, but you probably know others who do—but they don’t need it dumped on them. It shouldn’t be, “Hey, I just learned this week what you need to start doing and you won’t be moping around so much.” Yes, they need Psalm 13, but they need it gently, as in “Hey, can I just share with you something? I know you’ve been going through a tough season. Can I pray with you right now? Can I even use the words of David?”
Keep in mind Job’s friends, from Job 42:7, “the Lord said to Eliphaz the Temanite: “My anger burns against you and against your two friends, for you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has.”
Promises to Live by in the Crucible of Suffering
The second gift God gives when the pain won’t leave is promises to live by in the crucible of suffering.
Week two back from the sabbatical I preached that message on praying from Psalm 13. The next ten weeks, I preached on the promises from God’s Word that had really been helpful in my own life, in that darkness. As biblical counselors, you know these promises, let’s just rehearse them quickly.
The promise of a way of escape. “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it” (1 Corinthians 10:13). When we turn this promise into a prayer, it sounds something like this, “Father right now, I feel like I can’t go on, that there’s no way out of this pain, but you’ve given this promise. You can’t lie. You said there’s a way out of this despair I’m feeling. There is a way for me to stand up in it and honor you in this trial. Help me to see that way and walk in it.”
The promise of a good outcome. “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers” (Romans 8:28-29). Turning that promise into a prayer might sound like, “Father, my feelings say otherwise, but right now I affirm this wonderful reality. You’re up to something eternally good through this pain—for me, for others, for Christlikeness. Thank you for that.”
The promise of forgiveness. We all need this one. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). This is a critical promise for those in chronic pain because at times—in fact, many times—we cross the line. We are not reverential in our crying out, nor are we trusting. Then what? Then we practice this amazing promise, “Lord, I’ve done it again. I’ve sinned against you in my response to what you’ve ordained for my life this night. Please forgive me for that. Please cleanse me.”
The promise of God’s provision. “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33). This verse helps us clarify where our focus should be in the pain: on God’s kingdom purposes. It also ensures us when our focus is right, what we need will be granted. You can pray, “Father, I do seek your kingdom first now, that’s what I want more than feeling good. And you promised to give me what I need for that to happen. So I ask for the ability to sleep.”
By the way, my view of night times is changing. I can’t say it has changed—I like to sleep at night—but it’s changing. I’ve learned one of the most special times of my life is the night time season. Most of us, I think, tend to rob ourselves of what God is wanting to do because we think, “I gotta sleep,” and if we don’t sleep we become really bitter about that. Someone taught me this prayer request; “Lord, would you help me to get a good night of sleep or would you help me when I get up in the morning to feel like I had a good night of sleep, even if I didn’t?” It’s really it’s served me well, because life goes on tomorrow, right?
The promise of God’s provision.
The promise of God’s guidance.
The promise of a harvest. “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9). You can pray, “Lord, help me to not become weary in this pain. You said the harvest would come.”
The promise of wisdom. “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him” (James 1:5). How we need this promise! Moment by moment we need wisdom. “Should I take this pain medicine or just gut it out?” “Should I try to push through the pain or rest?” “Should I say yes to this ministry opportunity or block out my schedule today?” I need wisdom. As I told you, over the years I’ve been to five neurologists, fifteen doctors, and a lot of non-conventional options. Every time I learned about a potential treatment wisdom was needed. The question, “Try it or not?” came up so much. Then a year and a half ago new medicine comes out; “Try it or not?”
It’s a monthly shot, and I took it. I’ve been on it about a year and a half now. I’m down from 15 migraines a month to five (sometimes down to two). I tried a lot of other things before that, always needing wisdom to answer, “Do I try it or not?” And God says, “Ask, I’ll give you wisdom.” I don’t know what the side effects are doing. My wife says I can’t remember anything I tell her anymore, but I’m feeling a whole lot better about it.
The promise of sufficient grace. I so appreciate Tim Keller’s quote, “God will either give us what we ask or what we would have asked if we knew everything he knows.” This prayer might sound like, “Father, thank you for hearing me every time, for always doing what’s best.”
The promise of the life to come. In Revelation 21, John records that he sees the New Jerusalem. He hears a voice from the throne: God is going to dwell with men. God’s going to live with His people. They will be His people and He will be their God. He’s going to wipe away all their tears. There will be no more death, mourning, crying. The old order has passed away. He hears the person seated on the throne announcing His intent, revealing His identity, declaring His promise. And then for everyone else there’s this promise of a fiery lake. This is what sustains us.
Tim Keller preached a sermon on Revelation 21 that I was listening to and he tells a couple of stories that illustrate this point. One of the stories is that many years ago two men were thrown into a horrible prison for 10 years. On the way into the prison, the first man frantically looks for his wife and son and was told, “They’re dead. You’ll never see them again.”
The other man’s wife and son were there and said to him through the bars, “We’ll be waiting for you when you get out.” In the harsh conditions of prison life, the first man lasted about two years and then gave up—dying as a forgotten man. The second man persevered through the hardship, knowing that he would see his loved ones again. The difference that hope makes is huge.
The other illustration is about two men who are working jobs in a factory that made widgets. The first man was told, “The work is tedious, but if you do well you’ll receive $20,000 at the end of the year.” The man agreed began to work. The second man is offered the job and is told, “The work is tedious, but do it well and you’ll receive $20 million at the end of the year.” You can guess what happened: The first man lasted about two months—the monotony frustrated him. He finally said, “This is not worth it. I’m out of here.” The second guy whistled all 12 months thinking, “Man, this is great.” What made the difference? If you have hope, you know what’s coming.
The third gift that God has given us when the pain will not leave is people to do life with—the church. By God’s design, we’re not alone.
First Corinthians 12:13 says, “For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free.” We have been placed into the body of Christ. We are to do life that way.
The burning log that loses contact with the fire stops burning, the goose that drops out of the V Formation is soon overcome by the resistant wind. The chronic sufferer needs the church and the church needs the chronic sufferer. We need a solid Biblical Theology of care and by looking at the Epistles we discover the life-changing implications of having a people to do life with as we suffer. The God of comfort comforts us, so that we can comfort others.
I preached that message week two on prayer, the next series was Promises to Live by in the Crucible of Suffering, and next we spent about 10 weeks going through the epistles of looking at all the one another commandments to see how life works, particularly when you’re suffering. We see all kinds of instructions: bear one another’s burdens, speak the truth to one another, accept one another as Christ accepted you, admonish, counsel one another, encourage one another, spur one another onto love and good deeds, pray for one another. The one another commands aren’t simply a call to action, they’re actually tangible expressions of divine grace.
My concluding premise is the Lord intends to use the one another activities of the church to bring hope and help to His hurting children, so that together we will grow up into Christlikeness and manifest the beauty of His gospel to a needy world.
When I think of suffering with chronic pain, I have to tell the story of Nancy Ray. In 1954, Nancy Ray was getting ready to graduate from high school, when a drunk driver hit her and she became a quadriplegic. She was a member of our church, and she spent the next 52 years in a wheelchair as a quadriplegic. She almost died, then she wished she would have died because life was so not what she was hoping it was going to look like, but then God began to fill her with hope. Romans 8:28 became her life verse.
Whether she had the ability and didn’t know or just God gave it to her at that point, she found out in rehab that she had the ability to paint, and so she painted with a paintbrush in her mouth. Not only did she find out, she began to paint paintings and became a member of the International Handicap Arts Association. Her brother is a missionary to Papa New Guinea, heading there in 1984 to what was basically a Stone Age tribe. She begins to sell her paintings to support her brother, other missionaries, and charitable causes.
When we had her memorial services at the church, it was phenomenal. We asked people to bring the paintings that she had done and we put them around the building. You just can’t measure what God’s up to in the moment. You’ve got to see it in the big picture and in the bigger picture of the redemption story. Praise God for how He uses our pain for His glory.
I shall behold man no more, with the inhabitants of the world.—Isaiah 38:11.
My soul! though thou art, I trust, prepared for thy great change, and in an habitual state for death, whenever the Lord shall come to take thee home, yet there is also an actual state of being on the look-out for it, so that it is proper at times to go down to the grave, in imagination, before thou art carried thither in reality; that by earthing thyself, thou mayest consider what will be the immediate consequence of death in those things which are now most about thee, and with which thou art necessarily much occupied. “Thou wilt behold man no more, with the inhabitants of the world:” would it not be proper, then, to wean thyself from too great an acquaintance with them now, that the separation may be the less felt? Thou wilt be called upon to enter upon a state altogether new, and a path thou hast never before trodden; and would it not be wise to send forth inquiries concerning them, such as scripture gives the clearest answer to, and study the best way to make preparation, in Jesus, for thy change? What a blessed example hath the apostle Paul left upon record of his conduct in this particular: “I protest (said he to the Corinthian Church, speaking on this subject) by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily.” (1 Cor. 15:31.) Such were both the habitual and actual frames of Paul’s mind, that he was every day, and all the day, waiting and looking for his master’s call. The fact was, he knew the certainty of the ground on which he stood; he had no farther question to ask concerning his safety in Christ; and, therefore, he rather wished to bring the hour on than to put it off. His whole heart, his whole affections, centered in Christ: and as such, though to live was Christ, yet to die was gain. My soul! what sayest thou to this blessed frame? Oh! for the same earnestness and from the same cause; that whether this night, or at cock-crowing, or in the morning, when the Lord comes, though thou wilt behold man no more, with the inhabitants of the world, yet thou wilt behold the face of God in glory; and when thou awakest after his likeness, thou wilt be satisfied with it.
An important question every Christian must ask is, What does it mean to be a disciple of Christ? Very simply, a disciple will observe all that Christ commanded. In other words, a disciple of Jesus Christ will be characterized by certain behaviors. Christians are a new people of God (1 Peter 2:9) whose behavior should emerge from and reflect their biblical beliefs and values. This is why Scripture gives such attention to the behavior of Christians; it should be holy as God is holy (1 Peter 1:15–16). Although Christians are new creatures (2 Cor 5:17) with new hearts of obedience to Christ (Rom 6:17–18), holy behavior is not something that comes automatically. Observing Christ’s commands, as the Great Commission explicitly states, is something that must be taught. In other words, true conversion is not simply assent to certain facts; it is a life-changing entrance into communion with God. It is “turn[ing] to God from idols to serve a living and true God” (1 Thess 1:9–10).
Understanding that discipleship begins with evangelism but involves more, the question remains as to how Christians are shaped as disciples. Certainly much of what is involved with such Christian sanctification is coming to know more truth. Without a proper set of beliefs, one will not behave in a manner worthy of Christ. However, data transmission is not all there is to discipleship for at least three reasons. First, Christian behavior is more than simply a collection of right beliefs. Jesus did not just say, “teaching them all that I have commanded”; he said, “teaching them to observe all that I have commanded.” Christian behavior is a collection of skills, and development of a skillset requires more than a certain amount of knowledge.
Second, making disciples is more than data transmission because the reality is that most actions are not the result of deliberate, rational reflection upon beliefs. Some are, but most of how people act on a daily basis is due to ingrained habits. We may understand the gospel and diligently learn biblical doctrines, but that will not necessarily make a disciple who is characterized by Christian moral living, especially if we have many habitual behaviors that conflict with biblical living. A drug addict will still have to deal with his addiction, a petty thief may find himself unintentionally slipping things off the shelf into his pocket, and a lazy husband will have difficulty finding the energy necessary to help with the kids. Old habits die hard, even for a Christian.
Third, whether or not people are acting on the basis of a deliberate decision or a habitual response, people ultimately will act not primarily based on the knowledge in their minds, but rather on the inclinations of their hearts. A child who is terrified of dogs will not pet one no matter how many statistics you give her about the docile nature of domesticated canines. A man whose heart is captivated by pornography will sin continually no matter how much he knows it is wrong. Another way of saying this is that people act more based on their feelings than on their knowledge. The way many evangelicals try to combat this reality is to urge people to live according to their beliefs rather than their hearts, but it is not quite that simple. The problem is not that we have replaced what drives our actions with our hearts instead of our minds. We cannot help but be driven by the inclinations of our hearts, and philosophers from Plato to Augustine to Edwards to Lewis all recognized this. If the intellect and the heart conflict, we will always do what we want to do rather than what we know we should do; this is the nature of humanity. Thus in order to cultivate holy living, we must concern ourselves with nurturing moral virtue.
Scott Aniol is the founder and Executive Director of Religious Affections Ministries. He is Chair of the Worship Ministry Department at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, where he teaches courses in ministry, worship, hymnology, aesthetics, culture, and philosophy. He is the author of Worship in Song: A Biblical Approach to Music and Worship, Sound Worship: A Guide to Making Musical Choices in a Noisy World, and By the Waters of Babylon: Worship in a Post-Christian Culture, and speaks around the country in churches and conferences. He is an elder in his church in Fort Worth, TX where he resides with his wife and four children. Views posted here are his own and not necessarily those of his employer.
Blessed are ye when men … persecute you.—Matthew 5:4.
LISTEN to Paul in the jail at Philippi. “If God wants me to go to heaven by way of this prison,” he says, “it is all the same to me; rejoice and be exceeding glad, Silas. I thank God that I am accounted worthy to suffer for Jesus’ sake.” And as they sang their praises to God, the other prisoners heard them; but, what was far more important, the Lord heard them, and the old prison shook. Talk about Alexander the Great making the world tremble with his armies. Here is a little tent-maker who makes the world tremble without any army!
 Moody, D. L. (1900). The D. L. Moody Year Book: A Living Daily Message from the Words of D. L. Moody. (E. M. Fitt, Ed.) (pp. 103–104). East Northfield, MA: The Bookstore.
“The Patriot Post” (https://patriotpost.us)
Torah Codes Reveal: Trump Wins Re-Election in 2020
Six months before the next presidential elections are scheduled to be held, Rabbi Matityahu Glazerson, an expert in Bible codes, made a bold prediction; President Trump will win his bid for reelection. Rabbi Glazerson uses software to find hidden clues in equidistant letters in the Torah and six months before the 2016 elections, at a time when Hillary Clinton was almost universally predicted to win the presidency, Rabbi Glazerson used his Bible-based technique to predict a Trump victory. “We are really exactly in the time of the Messiah.”
Three Indian Soldiers Killed in Border Clash with China
Three Indian soldiers were killed during a clash on the border with China, the Indian army stated on Tuesday. The deaths came on the heels of weeks of increased tensions between the two nations. The soldiers seemingly died from being beaten to death with batons as India also said that neither side fired any shots during the clash. The indecent makes it the first deadly confrontation between the two countries in decades.
Putin Stopped Obama from Destroying Israel new Report Reveals
It has recently come to light that a plot to potentially destroy Israel at the UN Security Council was upended by Russian President Vladimir Putin. Moscow apparently showed a rare willingness to use its UNSC veto power on behalf of Israel to block an Obama-led resolution that would have compelled Israel to establish a Palestinian state based on the 1948 borders. The 1949 Armistice Lines is akin to calling for the end of the Jewish state according to the ZOA.
Report: Greek PM Visits Israel for Help with Military Confrontation Against Turkey
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis visited Israel on Tuesday. Mitsotakis and Netanyahu are expected to discuss energy as well as Jerusalem’s upcoming plans to annex parts of the Judea and Samaria. Mitsotakis might be seeking help from Israel over a recent border confrontation between Greece and Turkey.
New Horizons becomes first spacecraft to demonstrate stellar parallax
NASA’s New Horizons deep-space probe has, for the first time, returned images to Earth that show stellar parallax, or how the positions of stars shift when seen from two different places. This phenomenon could one day be used for interstellar navigation.
Artificial synapses and living cells communicate using brain chemicals
Now scientists have successfully bridged the gap between organic and artificial, with biohybrid synapses that let living cells communicate with electronic systems, not with electrical signals but with neurotransmitters like dopamine. This is a remarkable breakthrough, the team says. Similar devices usually still communicate using electrical signals, but this biohybrid artificial synapse is using the same electrochemical signals that an organic brain uses.
New bio-ink could be used to 3D-print body parts inside the patient
Although we’re hearing more about the prospect of 3D-printed replacement body parts, those parts need to be implanted via relatively large incisions. That may not always be the case, however, thanks to a new “bio-ink” that could allow parts to be printed within the body.
Rare ‘Ring of Fire’ Eclipse “from Book of Joshua” to Appear on June 21
The first solar eclipse of 2020, a rare annular eclipse, will appear in the heavens over Israel on Sunday. According to academicians, this type of eclipse described as a “ring of fire” was responsible for Joshua’s miraculous ‘stopping of the sun’ during battle exactly 3,227 years ago. The first solar eclipse of 2020, a rare annular eclipse, will appear in the heavens over Israel on Sunday. According to academicians, this type of eclipse described as a “ring of fire” was responsible for Joshua’s miraculous ‘stopping of the sun’ during battle exactly 3,227 years ago. …the Talmud (Sukkot 29a) specifically described solar eclipses as being a bad omen for the nations …
Hurricane forecasters tracking disturbance near Carolinas
As of 7 a.m., a non-tropical low pressure area was about 150 miles southeast of the North Carolina-South Carolina border, the National Hurricane Center said. It is producing disorganized showers and thunderstorms.
Russia: Scientist gave state secrets to China; charged with treason
A Russian scientist has been charged with high treason over allegations he passed classified information to China. Valery Mitko, the president of the St. Petersburg-based Arctic Academy, was charged on Monday. The charges allege Mitko, 78, took classified information with him during business trips to China. That classified information reportedly included information about methods for detecting submarines.
Grenada records more than 1000 small earthquakes at underwater volcano
Grenada has recorded more than a 1,000 small earthquakes at the underwater volcano, Kick ‘Em Jenny, last week and this has caused the National Disaster Management Agency (NDMA) to issue an advisory reminding marine traffic and communities within proximity about the build-up of activity.
Scandinavia is overheating – Sweden almost hit +30 °C on Sunday, Jun 14th
… unusually very warm to almost hot days have been reported this weekend – heatwave developed over Scandinavia. Sweden (Swedish Lapland) almost hit +30 °C! (86 F) Very warm weather is likely to continue through this week.
90,000 immigrants expected in Israel in next 18 months, says minister
Minister of Aliyah and Integration Pnina Tamano-Shata said on Wednesday that the latest forecasts estimate that 90,000 new immigrants will arrive in Israel from around the world in the next 18 months…organizations dealing with aliyah have all stated of late that the COVID-19 pandemic has prompted a large spike in the number of Jews around the world who have expressed heightened interest in immigrating to Israel.
Nasrallah: Hezbollah will keep its weapons, Lebanon will not starve
As the economic crisis in Lebanon worsens, Hezbollah secretary-general Hassan Nasrallah warned that if the situation becomes one of starvation versus weapons, the terrorist movement will keep its weapons. Speaking Tuesday evening, Nasrallah said, “Our weapons will remain in our hands and we will not starve; we will kill you.”.
Fed chair warns of ‘significant uncertainty’ around US recovery
Despite some recent positive signs, “significant uncertainty” remains about the recovery of the US economy from the coronavirus pandemic, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said Tuesday. And unless consumers feel confident COVID-19 has been defeated, “a full recovery is unlikely,” Powell warned in his semi-annual testimony before the Senate Banking Committee.
Soldiers fell to their deaths as India and China’s troops fought with rocks
The hand-to-hand combat lasted hours, on steep, jagged terrain, with iron bars, rocks and fists. Neither side carried guns. Most of the soldiers killed in the worst fighting between India and China in 60 years lost their footing or were knocked from the narrow Himalayan ridge, plunging to their deaths.
North Korea ‘to mass troops near border’ and slams ‘mongrel dog’ South Korea after blowing up ’embassy’ building
NORTH Korea has threatened to mass troops near the border with its “mongrel dog” neighbour South Korea, hours after blowing up an ex-embassy. The threat – reported by the dictatorship’s state media – is the latest in a string of increasingly belligerent actions by the North in recent weeks.
Japan Halts Introduction of U.S. Missile-Defense System
Japan suspended plans to introduce a multibillion-dollar American missile-defense system, citing major new costs and delays from modifications needed to ensure rocket debris from the system doesn’t endanger local residents. Two Aegis Ashore batteries were scheduled to be deployed around 2025 in southern and northern Japan that would provide the country with a new layer of defense against ballistic missiles.
U.S. scrambles jets to escort Russian nuclear-capable bombers near its border: RIA
The United States scrambled fighter jets to escort four Russian nuclear-capable Tupolev Tu-95MS strategic bombers as they carried out a planned flight near the U.S. border, the RIA news agency cited the Russian Defence Ministry as saying. The Russian aircraft carried out an 11-hour flight over neutral waters of the Chukotsk, Bering and Okhotsk Seas as well as the northern part of the Pacific Ocean…
Scientists made 1 small edit to human embryos. It had a lot of unintended consequences.
A human embryo editing experiment gone wrong has scientists warning against treading into the field altogether. To understand the role of a single gene in early human development, a team of scientists…removed it from a set of 18 donated embryos. Even though the embryos were destroyed after just 14 days, that was enough time for the single edit to transform into “major unintended edits,” OneZero reports.
Syria war: New US sanctions target Assad government’s foreign backers
Tough new economic sanctions aimed at deterring foreign business activity with Syria’s government have been imposed by the United States. The measures in the Caesar Act seek to compel the government to “halt its murderous attacks” on civilians and accept a peaceful political transition. But there are fears that the sanctions will make the plight of ordinary Syrians even more desperate.
8.5 million people affected, 63 killed as intense downpours continue to pound southern China
Intense downpours continue to batter southern China, leaving at least 63 people dead or missing and almost 8.5 million affected. Worsening floods have also displaced nearly 500 000 and caused direct economic losses of about 4 billion dollars or 21 billion yuan.
Google Begins Censoring Conservative Sites With Opening Shots At Zerohedge And The Federalist As Purge Of Anti-Left Voices Heating Up
If the currency of the 21st century is information, and it is, dystopian search engine giant and complete Internet dictator Google is old man Potter in charge of the bank. Google is the most-powerful company on the face of the earth, hands down, no question about it. When you control the information, you control everything. So when Google decide that certain voices will not be heard, and they do all the time, it has a very chilling effect and immediately conjure up images of Hitler burning books at the library.
Elon Musk And SpaceX Launched 58 Starlink Satellites And Three Planet SkySats Into Orbit On June 13 To Begin Circling The Planet With Internet
Elon Musk is riding high these days, on a wave of technological success not seen from a single person since perhaps the days of Tesla and Edison. Seemingly everything he puts his hand to succeeds beyond even his wildest expectations, he seems to have a limitless source of power and inspiration. Does that come from God, or is it coming from the ‘other guy’? Let’s take a look.
Trans activists bully author into ‘withdrawing’ from public life
The author of a book published in the United Kingdom encouraging children to appreciate the body in which they were born says “bullying” from transgender activists has forced her to retreat from public life.
Initial Publicized China Coronavirus Mortality Rates Were Garbage and Current Reports of a Second Wave In Progress Are Garbage Too
We’ve pointed out since March that predictions on mortality rates related to the China Coronavirus were garbage. Based on this alone, we know that current reports of a second wave of the China Coronavirus starting now are garbage too.
SCOTUS’s Transgender Ruling Firebombs The Constitution
In Monday’s ruling inserting “gender identity” into the word “sex” in a 1964 employment law, the U.S. Supreme Court called a man a woman, possibly leading to eventually forcing everyone else to do so also. The ruling will lead to a tsunami of polarizing court cases and further degradation of Americans’ natural rights to free speech, to free association, and to worshipping God as their consciences require. All this in the name of “equality,” a word that has become a totalitarian weapon.
Muslim Convert Convicted in Plot to BEHEAD Pamela Geller Asks for “Compassionate Release”
Nicholas Rovinski and his two coreligionists, Usaamah Abdullah Rahim and Daoud Wright, plotted to behead me for violating the speech laws under Islam. En route to jihad slaughter, Rahim was killed after he was stopped for questioning in Boston and threatened officers with a large knife.
The Monument Mobs Don’t Hate The Confederacy, They Hate America
Angry mobs are tearing down and defacing monuments across America. They make no distinction between Confederate and Union, abolitionist and pro-slavery, 15th-century figures and 20th. They don’t care when a monument was erected, who built it, or why. They have not come to debate or persuade their fellow citizens to relocate these statues to museums or private property. They believe the debate is over and that they have won.
UK begins trial of latest vaccine candidate for coronavirus
Scientists at Imperial College London will start immunizing people in Britain this week with their experimental coronavirus shot, becoming the latest entry into the race to find an effective vaccine to stop the pandemic.
Russian Scientist Charged with Treason for Passing State Secrets to China
Russian scientist Valery Mitko, president of the Arctic Academy of Sciences in St. Petersburg, was charged with treason on Monday for allegedly passing state secrets to China.
New Contact Tracing Policies: Marching In BLM and Antifa Protests Should Not Be Logged! The Hypocrisy of It All!
Contact tracing usefulness has come and gone as it is only effective in the first few days and only should be used to assess the degree of penetration of a virus in the early stages. This is a disguised snitch program that is being brought in through the backdoor.
The Democrats Are Signaling End-Game Atrocities In a Post-Trump Take-Over
…I apologize and I do not wish to call anyone ignorant and uninformed, who rejects the notion of FEMA Camps, but they are indeed woefully ignorant usually by choice. The above material can also be found in Obama’s Executive Order 13603. Both Obama’s Executive Order and FM 39.4 are public record and as such, are irrefutable in these claims. The fact that Obama’s 13603 EO is almost identical to this part of FM 39.4 demonstrates the resolve of the globalists to carry out this plot.
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“A simple layman armed with Scripture is to be believed above a pope or a council without it…” – Martin Luther
Tuesday, Fox News Channel’s Tucker Carlson opened his prime time cable news show with a warning about the threats so-called Big Tech poses to Americans’ liberty, particularly as a chilling effect has been sent through those that typically engage in political discourse due to Black Lives Matter.
What would America look like if the Left got everything it wanted? What would America look like if the Right got everything it wanted? PragerU’s Will Witt fleshes out each of these scenarios in this provocative thought experiment.