Father I commit my next season into your hands ! I trust you – The Porter of ALL seen and unseen, I submit every bit of my life to Your Essence and declare I am Yours, use me any way you desire.🙏🏾
So, chosen by God for this new life of Love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as The Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it, Amen.
Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other. None of this going off and doing your own thing. And cultivate thankfulness. Let the Word of Christ—the Message—have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct and direct one another using good common sense. And sing, sing your hearts out to God! Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in The name of The Master – Jesus, thanking God The Father every step of the way.
Chosen from birth. He utilized the passion first to uphold that which he understood and knew.
Passion for something: “And when the blood of your martyr Stephen was shed, I stood there giving my approval and guarding the clothes of those who were killing him.” Acts 22:20
Paul, a servant of The LORD God; prayed ceaselessly without pause. In his acts, words and ministry. Do we speak with The LORD constantly? God KnowsALL! So, taking it to The Lord in prayer is our approaching The Throne of grace, Amen
c. A.D. 6 Born a Roman citizen to Jewish parents in Tarsus (in modern eastern Turkey)
c. 20–30 Studies Torah in Jerusalem with Gamaliel; becomes a Pharisee
c. 30–33 Persecutes followers of Jesus of Nazareth in Jerusalem and Judea
c. 33–36 Converted on the way to Damascus; spends three years in Arabia; returns to Damascus to preach Jesus as Messiah
c. 36 Flees Damascus because of persecution; visits Jerusalem and meets with the apostles
36–44 Preaches in Tarsus and surrounding region
44–46 Invited by Barnabas to teach in Antioch
46 With Barnabas visits Jerusalem to bring a famine relief offering
47–48 First missionary journey with Barnabas, to Cyprus and Galatia
49 At the Council of Jerusalem, Paul argues successfully that Gentile Christians need not follow Jewish law; returns to Antioch; confronts Peter over question of Jewish law
49–52 Second missionary journey with Silas, through Asia Minor and Greece; settles in Corinth; writes letters to Thessalonians
52 Visits Jerusalem and Antioch briefly; begins third missionary journey
52–55 Stays in Ephesus; writes the letters to Galatians and Corinthians
55–57 Travels through Greece and possibly Illyricum (modern Yugoslavia); writes letter to Romans
Paul’s Arrest & Death
57–59 Returns to Jerusalem and arrested; imprisoned at Caesarea
59–60 Appears before Festus and appeals to Caesar; voyage to Rome
60–62 Under house arrest at Rome; writes letters to Philippians, Ephesians, Colossians, and Philemon
62–64 Released; journeys to Spain?; writes letters to Timothy and Titus
64 Returns to Rome; martyred
It’s from the only physical description of Paul, in an early Christian document, the Acts of Paul. (Its author, a second-century church leader, was fired over the book because he attributed to Paul some unorthodox teachings such as sexual abstinence in marriage.)
A more literal translation of the description of Paul in Greek reads, “A man of middling size, and his hair was scanty, and his legs were a little crooked, and his knees were far apart; he had large eyes, and his eyebrows met, and his nose was somewhat long.”
This may be little more than imaginative writing from a century after Paul died, but it does not clash with the way Paul’s critics described him: “His letters are weighty and forceful, but in person he is unimpressive” (2 Cor. 10:10).
2. Was Paul Married?
Probably not. But because Paul said almost nothing about this, there’s plenty of room to debate the matter.
When counseling singles and widows at Corinth, he wrote, “It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I am” (1 Cor. 7:8).
But when listing the rights of an apostle and arguing on behalf of himself and Barnabas, he said, “Don’t we have the right to take a believing wife along with us, as do the other apostles and the Lord’s brothers and Cephas?” (1 Cor. 9:5).
In interpreting this statement, some scholars say Paul’s question, taken with his statement that he was unmarried, suggests he was a widower who had at least occasionally traveled with his wife. Others see Paul using this question to emphasize …
During the closing years of Caesar Augustus’s reign, a boy was born to a Jewish family in Tarsus, capital of the Roman province of Cilicia (in modern-day Turkey). The family traced its descent from the tribe of Benjamin, and they named their son after the most illustrious member in their family’s history: Saul, the first king of Israel. As a Roman citizen, the boy had three names, by one of which he became famous: Paulus.
Tarsus was ancient and prosperous; Saul described it as “no ordinary city.” Industries in Tarsus included weaving and tentmaking—a craft Saul would use later to subsidize his travels.
His Roman citizenship implied that his family owned property. It also carried with it privileges—the right to a fair trial, exemption from degrading punishments like whipping, and the right of appeal.
Early on Saul learned a trait that would stand him in good stead in later life: how to cross cultural boundaries. Though born in a center of Greek culture, Saul was sent to school in Jerusalem, where he studied the Jewish scriptures and religious law under renowned rabbi Gamaliel “the Elder.”
Gamaliel was a member of the Jewish ruling council (the Sanhedrin) and grandson of the famous rabbi Hillel. Gamaliel was gracious. When the Sanhedrin raged against members of a local sect who taught that Jesus of Nazareth, recently executed, was Messiah, he counseled forbearance. The council demanded the death penalty; Gamaliel convinced them to enforce a lesser punishment and let the cult members go.
Saul, however, did not adopt his teacher’s moderation, especially toward members of this messianic sect. Saul joined the growing number of Jewish leaders who steadily harassed and even killed followers of “The Way,” as it was called.
The first two centuries of the Christian era were great days for a traveler, writes historian Lionel Casson: “He could make his way from the shores of the Euphrates to the border between England and Scotland without crossing a foreign frontier.… He could sail through any waters without fear of pirates, thanks to the emperor’s patrol squadrons. A planned network of good roads gave him access to all major centers, and the through routes were policed well enough for him to ride them with relatively little fear of bandits.”
Because of the Pax Romana (Roman Peace) of Emperor Augustus (27 B.C. – A.D. 14), such conditions prevailed when Paul traveled the Roman world. The Stoic philosopher Epictetus (d. about 135) declared, “There are neither wars nor battles, nor great robberies nor piracies, but we may travel at all hours, and sail from east to west.”
New Testament archaeologist W.M. Ramsay concludes, “The Roman roads were probably at their best during the first century after Augustus had put an end to war and disorder.… Thus St. Paul traveled in the best and safest period.”
What would it have been like to travel with Paul during this unique era of ancient history?
Roads Built to Last
By the time of Emperor Diocletian (c. A.D. 300), the Romans had built a marvelous network of over 53,000 miles of roads throughout the Empire, primarily for military purposes. They were generally 10 to 12 feet wide and models of road construction. Plutarch writes about one official’s work:
“The roads were carried through the country in a perfectly straight line, and were paved with hewn stone and reinforced with banks of tight-rammed sand. Depressions were filled …
Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved. [Romans 10:1]
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. [Romans 12:12]
May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. [Romans 15:5–6]
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. [Romans 15:13]
I urge you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to join me in my struggle by praying to God for me. Pray that I may be rescued from the unbelievers in Judea and that my service in Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints there, so that by God’s will I may come to you with joy and together with you be refreshed. The God of peace be with you all. Amen. [Romans 15:30–33]
I always thank God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus. For in him you have been enriched in every way— in all your speaking and in all your knowledge—because our testimony about Christ was confirmed in you. Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. He will keep you strong to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful. [1 Corinthians 1:4–9]
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort. [2 Corinthians 1:3–7]
But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him. For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life. And who is equal to such a task? [2 Corinthians 2:14–16]
This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, men will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has give you. Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift! [2 Corinthians 9:12–15]
To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” [2 Corinthians 12:7–9a]
Now we pray to God that you will not do anything wrong. Not that people will see that we have stood the test but that you will do what is right even though we may seem to have failed. For we cannot do anything against the truth, but only for the truth. We are glad whenever we are weak but you are strong; and our prayer is for your perfection. [2 Corinthians 13:7–9]
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers. [Galatians 6:18]
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. . . . [Ephesians 1:3ff.]
For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way. [Ephesians 1:15–23]
For this reason, I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. [Ephesians 3:14–21]
Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should. [Ephesians 6:19–20]
I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. [Philippians 1:3–6]
And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God. [Philippians 1:9–11]
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. [Phil. 4:6–7]
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen. [Philippians 4:23]
We always thank God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all the saints—the faith and love that spring from the hope that is stored up for you in heaven and that you have already heard about in the word of truth, the gospel that has come to you. All over the world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing, just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and understood God’s grace in all its truth. You learned it from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on our behalf, and who also told us of your love in the Spirit. For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. [Colossians 1:3–14]
Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. [Colossians 4:2–4]
We always thank God for all of you, mentioning you in our prayers. We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. [1 Thessalonians 1:2–3]
And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is at work in you who believe. For you, brothers, became imitators of God’s churches in Judea, which are in Christ Jesus: You suffered from your own countrymen the same things those churches suffered from the Jews, who killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets and also drove us out. They displease God and are hostile to all men in their effort to keep us from speaking to the Gentiles so that they may be saved. In this way they always heap up their sins to the limit. The wrath of God has come upon them at last. [1 Thessalonians 2:13–16]
How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy we have in the presence of our God because of you? Night and day we pray most earnestly that we may see you again and supply what is lacking in your faith. Now may our God and Father himself and our Lord Jesus clear the way for us to come to you. May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you. May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones. [1 Thessalonians 3:9–13]
May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it. [1 Thessalonians 5:23–24]
We ought always to thank God for you, brothers, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love every one of you has for each other is increasing. Therefore, among God’s churches we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring. . . . [2 Thessalonians 1:3ff.]
With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may count you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may fulfill every good purpose of yours and every act prompted by your faith. We pray this so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ. [2 Thessalonians 1:11–12]
May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word. [2 Thessalonians 2:16–17]
And pray that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men, for not everyone has faith. But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen and protect you from the evil one. We have confidence in the Lord that you are doing and will continue to do the things we command. May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance. [2 Thessalonians 3:2–5]
Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you. [2 Thessalonians 3:16]
I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me faithful, appointing me to his service. [1 Timothy 1:12]
I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men—the testimony given in its proper time. . . . [1 Timothy 2:1ff.]
I thank God, whom I serve, as my forefathers did, with a clear conscience, as night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers. Recalling your tears, I long to see you, so that I may be filled with joy. I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also. For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. [2 Timothy 1:3–7]
May the Lord show mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, because he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains. On the contrary, when he was in Rome, he searched hard for me until he found me. May the Lord grant that he will find mercy from the Lord on that day! You know very well in how many ways he helped me in Ephesus. [2 Timothy 1:16–18]
I always thank my God as I remember you in my prayers, because I hear about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints. I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ. Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the saints. [Philemon 4–7]
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. [Philemon 25]
When it comes to reading, studying, and interpreting the Scriptures, one thing my Christian college taught me well was the importance of context.
As a high school senior turned college freshman, I was serious about my relationship with Jesus, but majorly confused when it came to living out every command the Bible proclaims. All around me, I heard voices of rules to follow, activities to partake in, and life verses to quote and live by daily.
As I grew and developed into a more mature Christian, I was startled by the number of people around me that would quote a verse during my suffering and strike it onto every situation without understanding its connection or background.
“For I know the plans I have for you” was slapped on like a bandaid (Jeremiah 29:11).
“God will give you your heart’s desires” rooted pride in unseen places (Psalm 37:4).
“I can do all things through Christ” bred self-contentment and personal satisfaction (Philippians 4:13).
And while their words probably came from a sincere place of integrity, kindness, and hope, using Scripture severed from its placement is not biblical, holy, or helpful.
What are some of these misunderstood, misplaced, and misused commands? Unfortunately, some of the Bible’s best and most loved words of God are those that face the repercussions of displacement. As followers of The Way, The Truth, and The Life, it’s crucial that we place these verses back in context and live with the understanding that true knowledge and wisdom will come only through the Lord’s willingness to reveal such beauties to us by His guidance of discernment.
1. Jeremiah 29:11
Out of Context: As a friend gave me in college, Jeremiah 29:11 is often quoted when young teens or adults make significant life transitions. Combatting fear with Scripture, on the surface, it doesn’t seem harmful to note that the Lord has good plans for you wherever you go. Whether you go to the Dollar Store to buy a graduation greeting card or talk to a well-versed Christian, we quote this verse a lot.
In isolation, the verse proclaims that God has good plans for you, including riches, peace, and prosperity. While God does have good plans for you, the wealth, peace, and means that He brings are not evaluated or understood by earthly measures but heavenly ones.
In Context: It is not God’s will for you to be rich, happy, and living the American Dream, but to live a life worthy of the calling He’s placed on each of our lives. God may call you to periods of suffering, loss, and hardship just as much if not more than the periods of carefree, wealthy, and free living. However, He does promise to always be with you through the storms and find a future and hope that reside in Him alone.
Addressing the Hebrews exiled in Babylon, Jeremiah 29:11 was a promise God gave to His people during a testing time. According to Greek and Hebrew roots, “I know the plans” defines “yada” and “hashav” as God making a new plan for His people. “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you” likewise expresses “shalom” and not “ra,” meaning that these new plans bring peace and not evil.
Application: God does know the plans that He has for you; after all, He’s the Creator of the Universe who formed you and understood every step before you’d ever take it. But when it comes to our future, it’s His plans full of peace and spiritual salvation that take precedence in our hearts. Jeremiah 29:11 is not a selfish declaration that the Lord will fulfill your goals with wealth, riches, and fame, but a confirmation that His will for your life will take priority over all.
2. Philippians 4:13
Out of Context: One of the worst ways that I’ve ever heard this verse used was to defend the righteousness of impure actions and motives. Declaring that on their strength, all things were possible because the Lord would be with them, I shuddered at the heart behind the proposition.
In Context: Paul is writing an appeal, encouragement, and prayer to those in Philippi that in his experience, even though he’s had to endure many trials, the Lord sustained him through each of them. While Paul likely wrote Philippians during his Roman imprisonment in AD 61 or 62, he did not write his message from the crisis but from support and hope.
Though he faced persecution, pain, and imprisonment, Paul knew what it was like to live with everything he needed or nothing at all. He genuinely knew what it meant to depend on the Lord for food, travel, and life itself because facing plenty and hunger, abundance or need, he sought the price of the cross above all else.
Application: Today, Philippians 4:13 can encourage us to press into the Lord for providence no matter what situation we are facing, but it should not be used as a means to state that we can do all things we want under the sun. While many things are permissible, remember that not everything is beneficial, and when it comes to serving the Lord, it’s not about “I can,” but “Him who strengthens me”.
The supernatural strength to face joys and hardships comes from He who sits upon the throne and has nothing to do with our power. This Scripture should incline our hearts to say “I can do all things” because of Him and not us. Philippians 4:13 is not a phrase to throw around before Ohio State faces Michigan in the playoffs or a plead for a test you didn’t study for, but a serious, loving command that reminds us it was never about “I” but “Him.”
3. Matthew 7:1
Out of Context: In the society we live in, people disagree over minor inconsistencies and then pull out this Scripture to note that they can do whatever they want when they desire, and no one should judge them. But shouting “Only God can judge me” is not holy, nor should it be used as a cop-out excuse to justify a misconstrued biblical theology.
In Context: In Matthew 7, Matthew writes a summary statement asking people to refrain from judging others around them without grave error or cause. Here, Biblical insights from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount deals with a call for righteousness over the Pharisees’ intellectual decisions.
While the Pharisees were preoccupied with the Law, they missed the Law standing in front of them, asking them to place away trivial affairs, and focus on what matters eternally (a relationship with Jesus!). With these commands, Jesus wanted to get to the heart of an individual. He wanted them to see that making oneself more righteous isn’t only an irrevocable disgrace of grace but a way of living that brings turmoil, heartache, and despair.
Application: Although many who quote this verse don’t understand the context surrounding it, Jesus tells us that if we judge others without taking a close look at ourselves, nothing fruitful will be produced for them or us. When Mathew 7:1 says, “Judge not,” the Scriptures are not proclaiming a free-all for ill-made intentions or sporadic decisions, but a grace with which we must choose to walk in daily.
The Christian call is not to judge others but to show them love, and that starts with dealing with our sins and errors before we go pointing out the specks in others’ hearts that sin differently than we do.
I’ve heard it said, “Don’t judge someone just because they sin differently than you.” While that quote can also be taken out of context, I find it crucial to understand that while Scripture does not prohibit examining others’ lives for helpful rebuke and teaching, that does not give us an excuse to do so with a severed and impure conscience.
While the Great Commission calls us to make disciples and help others wage war against sin, Matthew 7 warns against these actions in self-righteousness or hypocrisy. Correcting someone else comes at the price of being judged ourselves, and though we strive to strengthen one another in our weaknesses, don’t forget that to remove their speck, you have to be willing to pull out your log as well.
4. Ephesians 5:22
Out of Context: Though I am not married, if there is one verse that gets me fired up and defensive about, it’s Ephesians 5:22. Perhaps it’s because I’ve seen too many people use and abuse this verse for improper means or simply because I’m a female. Still, this Scripture needs to be adequately defined, especially regarding the concept of submission.
“Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.” (Ephesians 5:22)
As I prepare for pre-engagement, engagement, and marriage, my boyfriend and I have made it a point to discuss the implications of obedience and what I call “give and take” in marriage. While I do not claim to be an expert, I believe that the number of men who use this verse to get women and wives to do whatever they want when they please is humiliating and abhorring.
In Context: According to Scripture, Ephesians 5 was written by the Apostle Paul during the same time frame as Philippians. Calling us to walk in love, Paul explains how to love ourselves and our brothers and sisters in Christ and then extends this love to husbands and wives. Calling us to be careful how we walk, I find it highly ironic that so many men tell their wives “you have to do X” because Scripture says, “wives submit to their husbands.” Sadly, this X is often filled with forced sexual pleasures, household duties, or whatever they see fit at the time.
While Scripture does make it clear that a husband and wife hand over their conjugal rights to one another once they are united as one, it is said that they do so out of love. It is not suitable for a husband to pressure or even force his wife to have sex with him, for is that love as Christ would love the Church? Absolutely not.
In the same manner, is it righteous for spouses to withhold sex from each other out of anger or disdain? Highly unlikely. Instead, both parties must work together to express their concerns and find a happy medium where they submit to one another mutually; that’s the love that Christ calls men and women to obey.
Application: The Christian marriage and commitment given to men and women through mutual submission are spiritual. The Christian marriage and responsibility given to men and women through force, coercion, and unequal submission are secular and deathly.
This idea of humility and meekness has nothing to do with a one sex reigning precedent over another, but two parties working together to represent Christ to the world. They work together as a robust military force would.
A loving wife or woman should be willing to show love to her husband, but a loving husband must treat her with the honor, respect, and love that Christ would give her. Our God is love, and love is not forced, coerced, or placed as a weight over someone’s head to get them to do what you want. We express mutual submission in love not because we have to, but because the Lord commands it, and we fear Him above all else. The motive for proper and Godly submission is not the Law but demonstrating a relationship with Christ to the world because we respect what His Law says.
5. Psalm 46:10
Out of Context: While I, too, have been guilty of quoting this verse out of context, I believe that the most problematic use with this verse is that we stop halfway through it.
“Be still and know that I am God,” we rattle off like a prayer (Psalm 46:10). But if we finish the Scripture, the entire verse reads, “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”
Resting in the Lord is an excellent and necessary proclamation to live by, but choosing to relax and do nothing else, is problematic and dangerous to the Christian faith.
In Context: In the fullness of our verse, Psalm 46:10 tells us that no matter what we face in life, we can be still and know that God is God. However, resting in this place of contentment is only possible because He will preside over every circumstance life throws our way, and He will be praised.
Application: As a planner who loves spontaneity, I suspect that many of you reading this wish you knew everything about life. When you try to rest in the Lord, anxiety and a fear of the unknown overtake your neophobic soul like they do mine. It’s good to declare that if we choose to rest in the Lord, we can proclaim His goodness, for He is in control. However, what’s not good is to forge that interpretation without looking at the rest of the Scripture.
Resting in the Lord doesn’t mean sitting all day, twiddling your thumbs, and waiting on God to do everything. God created us to work and find fulfillment in that work, but while we do so, He wants us to reside in Him alone for our strength, nourishment, and fill-up.
As God’s people, His will comes to fruition, but as we live, we are called to live in obedience to Him.
“Everything happens for a reason” teaches you valuable lessons. Let’s go back to the phrase “the universe is always changing.” So that means so do you. Everything that happens for a reason teaches you valuable lessons. It can even shatter your old beliefs, literally changing you into a better version of yourself.
And we start praying ALL ways, Amen
We are moved to know this from individuals like us:
1) “Realize that if a door closed, it’s because what was behind it wasn’t meant for you.” ― Mandy Hale, The Single Woman: Life, Love, and a Dash of Sass
2) “Eventually all things fall into place. Until then, laugh at the confusion, live for the moments, and know EVERYTHING HAPPENS FOR A REASON.” — Albert Schweitzer
3) “I believe that everything happens for a reason. People change so that you can learn to let go, things go wrong so that you appreciate them when they’re right, you believe lies so you eventually learn to trust no one but yourself, and sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together.” — Marilyn Monroe
4) “There will always be a reason why you meet people. Either you need them to change your life or you’re the one that will change theirs.” – Angel Flonis Harefa
5) “I trust that everything happens for a reason, even if we are not wise enough to see it.” — Oprah Winfrey
6) “Someday, everything will make perfect sense. So for now, laugh at the confusion, smile through the tears, be strong and keep reminding yourself that everything happens for a reason.” — John Mayer
7) “Do you believe that there are no coincidences in life? Everything happens for a reason. Every person we meet have a roll in our life, either it is big or small. Some will hurt, betray and make us cry. Some will teach us lesson, not to change us, but to make us to be a better person.” — Cynthia Rusli
What a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God (Hebrews 10:31), for those who do not know him as their Savior! When the day of his wrath shall come, he will arise to shake terribly the earth (Isaiah 2:21) and the nations shall not be able to endure his indignation. The Day of the LORD may seem long in coming, but it shall come at last, and what a fearful day that will be for many!
O Lord God, we pray for those that do not know You, that You will have mercy and that they will repent before it is too late. We pray for lost family members, friends, coworkers, and neighbors. We know that no one can endure Your wrath. May our loved ones run to Jesus Christ for refuge from that fearful day. Amen
What is the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning? David sets us a great example: ‘As for me… I shall be fully satisfied when I awake to find myself beholding your form and having sweet communion with you’ (v.15, AMP). Start each day seeking God’s presence and finding satisfaction in him.
This is the heart of what prayer is all about. It is not just about asking for things; it is about seeking God’s face and enjoying ‘sweet communion with him’.
This is the context of David’s request. He cried out to God for help in the face of his enemies (vv.13–14). God heard and answered his prayers with a positive response, ‘Yes’.
Lord, each day, when I awake, may I enjoy sweet communion with you and ‘be satisfied with seeing your likeness’ (v.15b).
Bill Hybels writes, ‘If the request is wrong God says “No”. If the timing is wrong God says “Slow”. If you are wrong God says “Grow”. But if the request is right and the timing is right and you are right, God says “Go”.’
In this passage we see two requests. The first receives the answer ‘No’ (vv.20–28) and the second the answer ‘Yes’ (vv.29–34).
Two requests In both cases Jesus asked, ‘What do you want?’ He said to the mother of Zebedee’s sons, ‘What is it youwant?’ (v.21). He said to the two blind men, ‘What do youwant me to do for you?’ (v.32).
In a way it must have been obvious what they wanted (in the second instance they were blind, so they must have wanted to see), but God wants us to be actively involved. The apostle James says, ‘You do not have, because you do not ask God’ (James 4:2). Jesus says, ‘Ask and it will be given to you… For everyone who asks receives’ (Matthew 7:7–8). It may seem an obvious point, but the starting point of answered prayer is actually asking.
Two responses In the case of the request of the blind men, Jesus’ response was ‘Yes’. ‘Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed him’ (v.34).
On the other hand, Jesus, in effect, said ‘No’ to the mother of Zebedee’s sons. This response also stemmed from compassion. Her request was for glory, power and promotion for her boys. He points out that she does not seem to understand all the implications of her request.
He said, ‘Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?’ (v.22). The Old Testament prophets spoke in several passages of the ‘cup of his (God’s) wrath’ (for example, Isaiah 51:17–22; Jeremiah 25:15–29).
Shockingly, Jesus speaks of drinking this cup himself. He is going to ‘give his life as a ransom for many’ (Matthew 20:28). The Greek word for ‘for’ (‘anti’), means ‘instead of’. This is the clearest example in the whole New Testament of Jesus explaining his death in terms of substitution.
Two reasons The apostle James writes, ‘When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives’ (James 4:3). Behind the requests here lay different motives. Both requests were to do with lordship. The request of the blind men came from the recognition that Jesus is Lord, and a desire for something good (Matthew 20:30–33). On the other hand, Jesus points out that the mother’s request came from a desire to ‘lord it over’ others (v.25).
True greatness does not come from lording it over others or from what the world regards as success (wealth, position, fame or having a ‘successful’ ministry). Rather, Jesus says that true greatness comes from becoming ‘a servant’ – following his example in choosing ‘to serve, not be served’ (vv.26–28). This is an example of where the disciples were wrong and God said ‘Grow’.
I think I have learnt more in my own life from the times when my prayers have not seemed to be answered than from the times when they have been answered with a ‘Yes’. Certainly the disciples must have learnt a huge amount from this ‘unanswered’ prayer.
Lord, thank you for the lessons that we learn from ‘unanswered’ prayer. Thank you that you showed us true greatness. Help me to devote my life to your service and to the service of others.
Do you realise that, whatever difficulties you are facing, right now Jesus is praying for you?
Poor Job had to put up with increasingly irritating speeches from his friends in which they condemned him more and more, wrongly accusing him. Job described them as ‘miserable comforters’ (16:2), with their ‘long-winded speeches’ (v.3a). They were absolutely no help to him at all (v.4).
Some people wrongly believe that our suffering in this life is always caused by our own sin, or even by sin in a former life. So, if people are born in poverty or with some genetic disorder, it must be their fault. This blame must be a terrible additional unnecessary suffering (the idea of reincarnation is totally repudiated in the Bible, see Hebrews 9:27). This is how Job’s so-called ‘friends’ spoke about him.
When your friends are suffering avoid being a ‘miserable’ comforter (Job 16:2). Rather, as Job suggests, ‘encourage’, ‘comfort’ and ‘strengthen’ them and ‘soothe their suffering’ (v.5, NIV and AMP).
One thing you can always do is to intercede (pray on their behalf) for them. Job said:
‘My intercessor is my friend as my eyes pour out tears to God; on behalf of a human being he pleads with God as one pleads for a friend’ (vv.20–21).
We are not told who the intercessor was, but whoever it was, he was a real friend to Job because he was pleading to God for him.
The prayers of the intercessor may not seem to have been answered immediately, but they were eventually when God restored Job’s fortunes. His answer to Job’s intercessor and to Job was ‘Wait’. Later it was Job’s intercession for others that was the immediate cause of his restoration (42:8–10).
Who is Job’s intercessor? Job says, ‘Even now my witness is in heaven; my advocate is on high’ (16:19). In the New Testament we see that the one ‘who represents mortals before God’ (16:21, MSG) is Jesus. He is your ‘advocate with the Father’ (1 John 2:1, RSV). He is interceding for you (Hebrews 7:24–25).
Jesus was Job’s advocate. He was interceding for him. Jesus was pleading with God ‘as one pleads for a friend’ (Job 16:21). There is a similarity between Job’s experience and that of Peter. Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail’ (Luke 22:31–32).
As John Wimber used to say, ‘The good news is that Jesus is praying for you. The bad news is that you are going to need it!’
Lord, thank you so much that you promise to be my advocate. Thank you that in the times when, like Job or Peter, it seems that Satan is sifting me like wheat, you are praying for me. Thank you that I know that, even if it seems like I am having to wait, the answer to my advocate-in-Heaven’s prayer will always ultimately be ‘Yes