Epaphras: Faithful Friend + Disciple Maker + Prayer Warrior

By Lane Corley

Epaphras is an unsung hero in the New Testament. He’s mentioned only a few times. He started and led churches in three significant cities. He made Paul’s list of faithful companions in Colossians 4. That’s where we learn the most about him. His character has stuck out to me this past year as a model for life and leadership. Who was Epaphras?

A Faithful Friend

As Paul wrote to the Colossians, he called Epaphras “one of you.” Making him a hometown hero of sorts. Paul also calls him “dearly loved” signaling that his reputation was thorough as a friend to all.  

How faithful was Epaphras? Well, Paul calls him a “fellow prisoner.” So he was faithful even to the point of voluntarily going to jail with Paul. Tracing his story, we see that Epaphras was one of several companions who traveled to Rome to be with Paul during his imprisonment. This speaks of his love for Paul and his willingness to sacrifice his own life for his friend and the gospel, as his alliance with Paul would have made him a conspirator in Paul’s supposed crimes. So he was a Faithful Friend through thick and thin. 

Faithful friendship modeled by Epaphras can be as simple as following the One Another’s in the New Testament. And Epaphras’ friendship included the hard ones: Carry One Another’s Burdens, Suffering with One Another, etc.

Who has known my faithful friendship through thick and thin?

Disciple Maker 

Paul calls Epaphras a “faithful minister” and a “faithful servant.” And he reminds the Colossian believers that they “learned it (the gospel) from Epaphras” Col 1:7. This tells us that Epaphras likely started the church in Colossae. Later in chapter 4, Paul says that Epaphras also “works hard” for churches in Laodicea and Hierapolis, two neighboring cities to Colossae.

So, Epaphras was faithful to Jesus’ Great Commission. He made disciples as he went and where he lived. People heard the gospel first from him. As a Disciple of Christ, He leveraged his relational network along with the word of God and the Spirit’s work in the world, and people were saved, groups and churches were started, and eternal destinies were changed. That’s what disciple-makers do.

If you are a Christian, Jesus wants you to be a Disciple Maker. Who has learned the gospel from me? is a question we should ask as we think about Epaphras. It should be a personal ministry. And not just for the super spiritual or classically trained. Beginning a disciple-making ministry can be as simple as this:

  • Make a list of friends who are far from God. 
  • Pray for them every day. 
  • Initiate Gospel conversations with those who express spiritual interest. 
  • Gather them around God’s word to learn the Gospel.
  • Teach them to reach their friends too. 
  • Simple churches may be formed as obedience to the Great Commission happens. 

Epaphras did this in Colossae, then possibly in Laodicea – about 9 miles away, and Hierapolis – about 25 miles away. Imagine the three cities closest to yours having a new witness to the gospel, born out of your disciple-making efforts.

Prayer Warrior

Probably what Epaphras, if known, is most known for, is his life of prayer. His life could be the subject of a book called How to Be a Prayer Warrior. That’s really what the verses in Colossians 4 emphasize for us about his life.

Four words in Colossians 4:12 summarize for us the Epaphras model for prayer that we should all seek to emulate – He was “always wrestling for you.” And Paul tells us what he prayed for: 1) so they will stand, 2) so they will grow, 3) so they will know God’s will. Epaphras prayed for strong, mature, knowledgeable disciples.

In verse 13, Paul continues to describe Epaphras’ life and prayer acknowledging that he “works hard” for the believers and has “deep concern” for their well-being.

Could these descriptions be used to label my life as a prayer partner? Always, Wrestles, For You, Works Hard, Deep Concern. Who have I wrestled/struggled for in prayer? Honestly, compared to Epaphras, my prayer life has been inconsistent, weak, selfish, and apathetic.

How to Be A Prayer Warrior: 

Looking at Epaphras as a model for prayer, how can we become prayer warriors?

1. Commit to Pray Everyday, All Day – “ALWAYS”

Research has shown that only 15% of Christians pray every day. Maturing Christians have a daily time to meet with God. Do you have time set aside to meet with God, to pray, to listen? If not, make that time today.

2. Devote Energy and Attention to Prayer – “WRESTLING”   

To describe prayer as wrestling is to say that this is the kind of prayer that is focused and attentive. This is not praying on the way to work in the car. Or just a rote prayer before meals. Or a quick prayer before an important meeting. 

Wrestling, struggling, and fighting in prayer is to set aside everything else and focus the energy of your heart and mind on a need and beg God for a solution, an answer, a breakthrough. 

Jesus said to go into your private room and shut the door. Jesus went up on a mountain to pray. He was talking about wrestling and struggling in prayer. 

Prayer warriors don’t do drive-by praying. They devote time, energy, and attention to prayer. 

3. Take Prayer and the Needs of Others Personally – “DEEP CONCERN” – “WORKS HARD”

To be a prayer warrior, you need to prioritize your deep concerns. There are so many things lobbying for our deep concern. Politics, Pleasure, People. The disciple-making, prayer warrior is deeply concerned about the souls of people around them, about the glory of God, about obedience to the Great Commission. Deep concern is where your prayer life is defined. If we’re not prioritizing our deep concerns around the deep concerns of God then we’ll never become prayer warriors. Epaphras was deeply concerned for the needs of his fellow believers and it drove him to pray.

I long to be the kind of friend and disciple-maker that prays like Epaphras. Don’t you?

Reflection:

  1. Faithful Friendship – Who has known my faithful friendship through thick and thin?
  2. Disciple Maker – Who has learned the Gospel from me? 
  3. Prayer Warrior – Who have I wrestled/struggled for in prayer? 

You Can Hope Again: Zechariah and Elizabeth

By Lane Corley

One of the most significant and unsung verses in the Christmas Story and maybe in the New Testament is Luke 1:11. 

An angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing to the right of the altar of incense.

Luke 1:11 CSB

This is the moment that God broke through after 400 years of silence, after allowing the rampaging and devastation and defeat of His chosen people, and after allowing Judaism to become a ritualistic shell of itself. God broke through. God spoke. God set in course the events that would bring salvation to all the world in the person and work of Jesus Christ. 

zechariah-and-elizabeth

Zechariah and Elizabeth’s characters depicted in the movie The Nativity Story

The before and after of this verse goes like this: An aging Priest named Zechariah got the opportunity of a lifetime to offer incense in the Temple’s sanctuary. He and his wife Elizabeth, who was never able to have children, and now was well along in years, made arrangements to fulfill this obligation. As he offered incense, God reached down and spoke. Unexpected events, unexpected people involved, unexpected announcement that Elizabeth would have a baby. That baby would become the way-preparer for the Messiah, John the Baptist. 

This is the moment where God initiated the keeping of His Promises and Securing the Hope of all who believe. This is the moment that those caught up in this story saw their Hope Restored. What does Restored Hope look like? For Zechariah and Elizabeth and that group of ordinaries that surrounded them on this day, it looked like this: 

The Pathway to Hope Again: 

1. Recognition that God’s Word is still true. The prophecy of the coming Messiah and the Way-Preparer IS TRUE! And in the coming days, 100’s of other prophecies would be fulfilled in the coming of Christ. For Zechariah, this was no longer just stale religious ritual, but a dynamic voice, capable of restoring hope and bringing change.  

2. Recognition that God can still use even me. The sun was seemingly setting on Zechariah’s life and ministry, but God broke through and gave he and Elizabeth a place of prominence in the Gospel story. God is never finished. He gets the last word on our significance. 

3. Recognition that God can still accomplish the impossible. Elizabeth’s barren womb and old age would be no obstacle to God’s will and God’s promise being kept. Neither will any obstacle that we face in life and leadership. Nothing will be impossible with God (Luke 1:37) will be a core belief of the hope-filled believers. 

Maybe this Christmas, you find yourself with lost hope or deferred hope (Proverbs 29:13). Ask God to break through again with these three truths. You can Hope Again. His Word is True. He’s not finished with you. He’s still doing the impossible. Hope Again. Believe Again. 

Father, restore our hope through demonstrating the truth of Your Word. Show us that we are your instruments until the day we die. Open our eyes to see the possibilities of your power and your promise. 

Priesthood of The Believer and A Once for All Sacrifice

“But the doctrine of the universal priesthood of believers is not merely a negative teaching abolishing an order of clergy. For along with that freedom which makes the believer responsible only to God for his faith and life, there is an added responsibility. We are members of a Christian community, “an elect race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession” (1 Peter 2:9). As Christians, then, we are not “laymen,” not mere spectators of the Christian enterprise who may or may not engage in it as we choose, but “priests,” and therefore responsible to God for the faith and lives of others.

We are under obligation to make known this message of salvation. The word
“layman” is not found in the New Testament, nor is there any “layman’s movement” in the Bible. A priest is inevitably involved in the lives of others, and is responsible to God for others. He has the high privilege and duty of making God known to others.

This priesthood, therefore, applies to all believers, and consists of two things: (1) Immediate access to God in prayer for one’s self, and (2) the right and duty of intercession for others. Only as we grasp these ideas can we appreciate the full, rich meaning of the doctrine of the universal priesthood of believers.

Furthermore, we are a royal priesthood. That means that we have been called, chosen, by the King of Kings to be His priests before our fellow men. We are not first of all clergy and laymen. We are first of all a royal priesthood, under obligation individually to make known the message of salvation. And the strength of Protestantism lies precisely here, in the willingness of its people to accept this strange office and all that it means, and to serve in the household of God as the royal priests that we really are.

False religion has created “priest” who inserts themselves between man and God insisting that they alone are the source of God’s marvelous grace therefore you have to come to them. The New Testament says this is a lie.”

“In the Epistle to the Hebrews several chapters are devoted to showing that the Old Testament priesthood has been abolished and that there is no place in Christianity for a sacrificing priesthood, because Christ, “through his own blood, entered in once for all into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption,” and that He has offered “one sacrifice for sins forever” (9:12, 10:12). The many human priests (of OT Israel) with their innumerable animal sacrifices were effective in their work of reconciling the people to God only because they represented the true High Priest and the one true sacrifice that was to come. But after the reality appeared, there would be no more need for the shadows and types that had preceded it.

Hence we read concerning the sacrifice of Christ: “But now once at the end of the ages hath he been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself”(Hebrews 9:26); and again: “We have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Christ once for all” (Hebrews 10:10). The sacrifice of Christ was therefore a “once-for-all” sacrifice which only He could make, and which cannot be repeated. By its very nature it was final and complete.

It was a work of Deity, and so cannot be repeated by man any more than can the work of creation. By that one sacrifice the utmost demands of God’s justice were fully and forever satisfied. Final atonement has been accomplished! No further order of priests is needed to offer additional sacrifices or to perpetuate that one. His was the one sacrifice to end all sacrifices. Let all men now look to that one sacrifice on Calvary!

Any continuing priesthood and any “unbloody repetition of the mass,” which professes to offer the same sacrifice that Christ offered on Calvary, is in reality merely a sham and a recrudescence of Judaism within the Christian Church.”

Source: Roman Catholicism by Lorraine Boettner, p. 43 and 45, online version

Dear Reader, false religion will insert itself between you and Jesus Christ, and tell you they are the source of the grace God wants to freely give you. Jesus said,

Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11: 28-29 NASB, emphasis added)

Do not let any Catholic, Orthodox or Protestant priest/minister stand between you and God. Jesus Christ is your High Priest if your born again and you yourself are a priest before Almighty God (I Peter 2:9). The New Testament exhorts us,

“Since then we have a high priest who has passed through the heavens , Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrew 4:14-16)

If you have not been born again, which Jesus said you must be to enter the Kingdom of God (John 3), I encourage you to put your faith and trust in Jesus’ death on the cross for your sins today. Ask Him to forgive you of your sins, to save you from the wrath to come and be your Lord and Savior. He will. Then He will give you the gift of the Holy Spirit to guide you through this life and to lead you into all truth about our Himself. Then find you a Bible teaching church where you can be baptized and grow in grace and faith feeding on the Word of God only, not the commandments and teachings of men.

So be it! May God richly bless you and lead you into all Truth. Carl

If I Really Believed…

The question I asked myself today is if I really believe the Scriptures below concerning what Jesus and the New Testament say about the “second death”, what would I do differently today?

My answer was to seize the opportunities that present themselves to share the gospel with a fellow human being. And that is what I was able to do.

What would you do differently?

  1. Revelation 20:14- “And death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire.”
  2. Revelation 21:8 – “But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murders and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.
  3. Revelation 2:11 – “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches, He who overcomes will not be hurt by the second death.
  4. Revelation 20:6 -“Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years.”
  5. Matthew 10:28 – Jesus says: “Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”
  6. John 3:16 – Jesus says: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. “
  7. (“Perish” means to experience the second death.)
  8. Romans 5: 8-10 – “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.
  9. (“the wrath of God” – the second death is the ultimate expression of His just wrath.)
  10. Ephesians 2:7-9 – “…in order that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God…”

If you possess this “gift” of salvation, please find a way to share it with the hopeless and dying souls all around us that are unknowingly headed to a second death.

Be faithful to God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ,

Carl

“…Constantly…”

“Wherefore, my beloved ones, as you always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, carry to its ultimate conclusion [likeness to the Lord Jesus] your own salvation with a wholesome, serious caution and trembling, for God is the One who is constantly putting forth His energy in you, both in the form of your being desirous of and of your doing His good pleasure.”  (Paul writing to the Philippians in 2:13)

Amazing! Today. All day today.  Everyday. God is CONSTANTLY releasing  His energy into our lives — in our decisions, in our battles, in our relationships, in our work, in our ministry, in our idle time, in our busy time, in our trial, in our victory, in our suffering, in our joy, in our sickness, in our vigor, in everything — for the purpose of bringing OUR salvation to it’s ultimate conclusion:  more likeness to the Lord Jesus….NOW, not when we get to heaven, NOW, while we live on earth, NOW, while we can still make an eternal difference in our family, our friend’s lives, and lives of others. NOW, before I die and I am ashamed to stand before Him at the Judgement Seat of Christ. 

What an awesome God we serve. What provisions He has made for His children. How He is committed to His Purpose for you and me!

Enjoy walking with God today!

“Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless, ….” (II Peter 2:14)

Carl

The Big Difference

How does keeping of the Old Testament Law and walking in New Testament grace compare?

Do this and live, the Old Testament Law demands, but gives neither feet or hands.

A better word the Gospel brings. It bids me fly and gives me wings.

Author Unknown

Born again believers get their “wings” by understanding the truths found in Paul’s letter to the Romans in chapter six through eight.  Listen to what Apostle Peter said about these truths in II Peter 1: 3-4 (Wuest Expanded Translation):

“Seeing that all things to us His divine power has generously given, the things which pertain to life and godliness, through the experiential knowledge [which the believer has] of the One who called us [into salvation] by means of His own glory and virtue, by means of which [glory and virtue] there have been generously given to us the precious and exceedingly great promises in order that through these you might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped by flight the corruption which is in the world in the sphere of passionate carvings.”  [emphasis mine]

I hope you have your “wings” mentally on today.  Have a blessed day walking in the Spirit!

Carl

 

Apostle Peter’s Advice On How To Have A Good Life

“For he who desires to be loving life and to see good days, let him stop the natural tendency of his tongue towards evil, and the natural tendency of his lips to the end that they speak no craftiness, but let him rather at once and once for all turn away from evil and let him do good. Let him seek peace and pursue it, because the Lord’s eyes are directed in a favorable attitude towards the righteous, and His ears are inclined into their petitions, but the Lord’s face is against those who practice evil things.”  (I Peter 3: 10-12 quoting Psalm 34: 12-13) (Wuest Fuller Translation)

A Prayer: Father God I present myself to You as one alive from the dead and the members of my body as instruments of righteousness.  Forgive me where I have sinned with my mouth.  Thank you for your Spirit which gives me the desire and power to obey your Word.  By your power I purpose to glorify the Lord Jesus today and everyday  with my words and actions.  Thank you my old sinful nature will not be master over me because of what You and the Lord Jesus have accomplished and my faith in what you have done. In Jesus’ Mighty Name.  Amen

When The Grace of God Appeared

For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.

For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another.

But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace, we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. (Titus 2:11-14; 3:3-7)

Praise Almighty God for His grace that has appeared to us! Bless His Holy and Righteous Name. May we all respond fully to the teaching of His Spirit contained in that ancient book, the Bible.

Carl

Now What Do I Do?

But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith… (James 1:5-6a)

Who does not need wisdom? We all do! Wisdom for dealing with issues involving children, grandchildren, sports, career, relationships, health, spouse, siblings, end of life, our nation, the church and life in general.

Jesus’ half-brother James, author of the quote above, was not a disciple of Jesus. The New Testament plainly tells us that. He only realized that his older brother was the promised Messiah and Savior when Jesus revealed Himself to James, and probably His other siblings, after He was resurrected. Can you imagine the shock of seeing his dead brother alive in a glorified, resurrected body? Could you imagine what it would be like to realize your older sibling was God?

James had a lot to ponder after that encounter. As James and his brothers waited in the upper room with the other disciples for the promise of the Father to be poured out at Pentecost, I would imagine they were all praying for wisdom. Therefore, when he tells us to ask for wisdom he speaks from experience.

An amplified version could read, “If anyone falls short of wisdom let him keep asking of God, who has come along side you as the Holy Spirit to help you and gives to all graciously and generously without throwing your past mistakes into your teeth or up in your face. But he must ask believing in God’s beneficent activity and have a personal reliance on Him …”

James tells us not to just ask once but to keep on asking for wisdom from the true God that has come along side us to lead us into all truth, not a distant and uncaring God. Knowing that He is not going to reproach us by reminding us of our past mistakes and failures but will graciously and generously give us the wisdom that we request and need, maybe desperately need.

The only requirement is that we believe that He is the Only One that is truly Good and produces Good, performing acts of kindness and charity for those who rely on Him as their God.

James’ half-brother and Lord, Jesus, said it this way,

Keep asking, and it will be given to you; keep seeking and you will find; keep knocking, and it will be open to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.

Or what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he?

If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him! (Matthew 7:7-11)

If you need wisdom, keep asking, keep seeking and keep knocking. Our Father God has promised to answer.

Carl

Remedy For Immorality

“The remedies for this sin are fasting, prayer, and keeping at a distance from it. For other vices may be subdued by fighting, but in this we conqueror by flight, and by not coming near it; of which we have an example in Joseph. We must pray to the Lord daily, that He would remove far from us the sin of lasciviousness, and grant us the gift of understanding and chastity.”

Source: An excerpt from a Waldenses barb’s (pastor) defense of Waldenses’ teaching and character from accusations by Roman Catholic Pope, Bishops and Priests seeking to justify their extermination by labeling them heretics – From History of Ancient Christians Inhabiting the Valley of the Alps: Part I. The Waldenses, Part II. The Albigenses, Part III. The Vaudois by Jean Paul Perrin (1843): P. Miller, New York

The Word of God says:

“Now flee from youthful lusts, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.” Paul to Timothy — II Timothy 2:22

“For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in lustful passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God…” Paul to the Thessalonian Church — I Thessalonians 4:3-5

May sanctifying grace and tranquil peace from God the Father and Jesus Christ be upon each of you.

Carl

Wise Advice

“Stick close to the exercise of Repentance, till the end of thy life, and never think of obtaining pardon “ab humano die”(from the human), because he who has made thee make this Promise, has deceived thee.  As thou hast properly sinned against the Lord, so seek thy Remedy only at his hand.”

Ambrose, Bishop of Milan 374 AD – quoted in Bishop Nicea of Aquileia (420-485 AD) Book “ab Virginem lap-sam” – quoted in Some Remarks Upon Ecclesiastical History of the Ancient Churches of Piedmont by P. Allix D.D. – London, 1690

A Word For The Saints Today

If you have fallen into the habit of wringing your hands over your failure and inability, and if in the back of your mind you think that this somehow excuses you, please understand something. It does not. It is now time for you to rise up as a soldier of the Cross, put on the whole armor, and go out to fight the good fight of faith in total reliance upon the One who has called you, who has promised to be with you and give you His victory. Stop concentrating on your weaknesses and failures and look instead to Him. Fall in love with Him afresh because of who He is and what He has done. You need to turn from your own inadequacies and trust God.

“And the Lord said unto Joshua, “Rise up!” Why is it that you have fallen on your face? Israel has sinned, and they have also transgressed My covenant which I commanded them. And they have even taken some of the things under the ban and have both stolen and deceived. Moreover, they have also put them among their own things.” — Joshua 7:10-11

Source: Berean Call

The Trouble With Man

The state of the world today is nothing but an appalling monument to human failure. We have come to realize that a man can be educated and cultured and still be a beast! The whole case of the Bible is that the trouble with man is not intellectual (in the mind) but moral (in the heart). If the “grace” you have received does not help you to keep the law, you have not received grace. The Christian way is a difficult way of life. It is too glorious to be easy. The New Testament way of handling sanctification is never an appeal, it is a command.


The man whose doctrine is shaky will be shaky his whole life. There is nothing so fatuous as the view that Christian doctrine is removed from life. There is nothing which is more practical. I always find that those who are driven with every wind of doctrine are those who are too lazy to study doctrine. I spend half my time telling Christians to study doctrine and the other half telling them that doctrine is not enough. My observation over the years is that it is the people who have not been taught the truth negatively as well as positively who always get carried away by the heresies and cults, because they have not been forewarned and forearmed against them.


D. Martyn Lloyd Jones“The Wisdom of Martyn Lloyd-Jones “selected by Dick Alderson, Banner of Truth ,August/September 1986.

Absent From The Earthly Body

Oh! what a glorious thing it must be to get out of the body, — I mean, a body that has grown to be sixty years of age, and that has been stricken with paralysis, and that has been upon the verge of death for many a month, — what a joy it must be to be quite clear of it! We do not know what it is to be undressed of this body; but there must be a wonderful freshness to the unclothed spirit! And what must it be to be free from all doubts and fears, and all tendencies to sin of every sort, and to be absolutely perfect? And then, what must it be, in the midst of ten thousand times ten thousand kindred spirits, all joying and rejoicing in one common, glorious God, and in the Christ whose life shall be the light that shineth over all? I warrant you that five minutes in heaven is better than Methuselah’s life on earth, even if spent in the highest happiness that life here below can afford. Oh, how our brother Mills would chide us if he could look back, and see us weeping! How he would reprove us, and tell us that the best thing that could have happened to him had happened, and ask us wherefore we deplored it. —C.H. Spurgeon (from a sermon he preached at the funeral of Mr. Mills) Source: Berean Call

Apostle Paul was looking forward to this day when he wrote: “we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord.” (II Corinthians 5:8)

Earthly pilgrim, are you looking forward to that day? We are just passing through this old world on our way to the new heavenly Jerusalem where God, the holy angels and all the saints dwell. The precious blood of Jesus has made the Way for us.

We will arrive there on His schedule. The apostle John said “and everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.” (I John 3:3)

Let us be purifying ourselves in body and spirit.

Look forward to seeing you on that day.

Carl

Does One Replace The Other?

“Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said,

“I WILL DWELL IN THEM AND WALK AMONG THEM; AND I WILL BE THEIR GOD, AND THEY SHALL BE MY PEOPLE, THEREFORE, COME OUT FROM THEIR MIDST AND BE SEPERATE,” says the Lord. ‘AND DO NOT TOUCH WHAT IS UNCLEAN; and I will welcome you. And I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to Me,” says the Lord Almighty.

THEREFORE, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” (II Corinthians 6:14 thru 7:1 NASB -emphasis added)

Please note in the proceeding scriptures, that faith and hope in these magnificent promises of God does not replace or destroy our fear of God, who taketh pleasure in those that fear him and hope in his mercy.

The healthy, overwhelming, profound, adoring, awed respect (aka fear) of God prolongs life (Proverb 10:27), is a fountain of life that one may avoid the snares of death (Proverb 14:27), causes one to sleep satisfied untouched by evil (Proverb 19:23), is the beginning of wisdom (Proverb 9:10) and causes numerous other blessings to occur in a believer’s life.

So hold on to His wonderful and magnificent promises but also walk in that reverence toward Him that only He is deserving of.

Thank you for your time. May His blessing rest upon you.

Carl

Singular Fruit

“Someone has beautifully analyzed the fruit of the Spirit in Gal. 5: 22, and shown that all the graces there mentioned are but various forms of love itself. The apostle is not speaking of different fruits, but of one fruit, the fruit of the Spirit, and the various words that follow are but phrases and descriptions of the one fruit, which is love itself. Joy, which is first mentioned, is love on wings; peace, which follows, is love folding its wings, and nestling under the wings of God; longsuffering is love enduring; gentleness is love in society; goodness is love in activity, faith is love confiding; meekness is love stooping; temperance is true self-love, and the proper regard for our own real interests, which is as much the duty of love, as regard for the interests of others.”

― Albert Benjamin Simpson, (December 15, 1843– October 29, 1919, founder of The Christian Missionary Alliance, The A.B.Simpson Collection).

Berean Call

How We Should Handle A Compliment

Roses For Jesus

(The following true story is from our first pastor’s wife.)

Roses For Jesus

Around 1975, during one of his visits in our home, Dr. Charlie Culpepper * noticed that I stumbled awkwardly when I was given a compliment. He gently exhorted me to think differently. And he couldn’t have used an example that would have left more of an impression on me because I loved “The Hiding Place,” Corrie Ten Boom’s story of her years in Holland and prison during World War II.

Having been a personal friend of Miss Ten Boom, Dr. Charlie said she told him that after returning from the Nazi prison camps, she was taken aback by the overwhelming response that she received from those with whom she shared her testimony. She found it difficult to accept the admiration or praise of others for herself, and so she would turn away with no response when complimented.

Her reasoning was that she must remain “humble” for she unmistakably knew that it was the grace of God that had sustained her through those most difficult years.

But she realized that she was offending those who had offered her their appreciation. So, she asked her heavenly Father what she should do. And the Lord said to her, “Corrie, you know it is Me they see in you. So, take their compliment as a 🌹rose, and tell them ‘Thank you!’ And then as you walk through your day, gather the roses you are given, and at the end of the day, bring your bouquet to Me.”  🌹🌹🌹🌹🌹🌹🌹

From that day forward, she said she was excited to have a bouquet of roses to bring to her Lord, full of rejoicing that He had been evident in her life!

Oh my! How many times have I been reminded of that story! You see, the passage in James 4:10 says, “Humble yourself before the Lord – and He will lift you up in honor!” He’s not trying to “bring you down” – No! He will lift you up!

True humility is recognizing that He has given you His Authority in this earth, and that everything you are is because of Him! Yes! Jesus deserves all the “glory” the “honor” and the “praise!”

Today, I say to you my friend, receive the “rose” when others see “good” in you and remember that they are simply seeing “Jesus in you!” No need to make a speech about it! Simply say, “Thank you,” and save the rose for Him!🌹

The Apostle Peter, who went through it all – pride, defeat, suffering, discipline from the Lord and from Paul – learned true humility and wrote at the end of his life, “Praise God for the privilege of being called by His name!” (1Peter.4:16).

Shelia Hart Artt

*Dr. C. L. Culpepper was a Southern Baptist missionary in China in 1920s and 40s who was a leader in the Shantung Revival. In 1971 he wrote The Shantung Revival detailing how God prepared the missionaries for the revival and then used them and the Chinese Christians to bring revival to the precious people of China and Korea. The book is available on Amazon. You would be blessed by what God did. He would like to do the same today with you and me.

The More We know

The more we know of God, the more unreservedly we will trust him; the greater our progress in theology, the simpler and more child-like will be our faith.

― J. Gresham Machen (1881–1937, New Testament scholar and educator in the early 20th century) – Berean Call

Paul rebuked the Corinthians for their willful ignorance that kept them from understanding the resurrection of our earthly bodies. Throughout the book of 1st Corinthians he uses the term “do you not know” nine times and he uses it twice in Romans 6 plus he uses other terms in his writings to ask or imply the same question.

What am I missing in my spiritual walk because I give large chunks of time to unprofitable things, interest that will not build me up spiritually? For example, faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. I need more faith, then I should be spending more time knowing God as revealed in His Book, the Bible.

God, please forgives us for our willful ignorance.

Man has made it complicated to understand and follow Jesus but it is not so. Paul warns us not to be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ (I Cor. 11:3).

Therefore, keep learning about your mighty God and amazing Savior Jesus. Keep growing. Get yourselves in order spiritually. Build yourselves up in Christ.

For He is coming back to get you or you are going to Him. Let us purify ourselves therefore.

Blessing on you,

Carl

A Small Portion

If God has given you but a small portion of the world, yet if you are godly He has promised never to forsake you (Heb. 13:5). Providence has ordered that condition for you which is really best for your eternal good. If you had more of the world than you have, your heads and hearts might not be able to manage it to your advantage.

— John Flavel (1627-1691, English Presbyterian clergyman)

What Constrains Us?

For the love which Christ has [for me] presses on me from all sides, holding me to one end and prohibiting me from considering any other, wrapping itself around me in tenderness, giving me an impelling motive, having brought me to this conclusion, namely, that One died on behalf of all, therefore all died, and that He also died on behalf of all in order that those who are living no longer are living for themselves but for the One who died on their behalf….

(II Corinthians 5: 14-15 Wuest Expanded Greek Translation (Emphasis added))

“What such should do, for whom Christ died; namely, that they should live to Him. This is what Christ designed, that those who live, who are made alive unto God by means of His death, should live to Him that died for them, and rose again for their sakes also, and that they should not live to themselves, v15.

We should not make ourselves, but Christ, the end of our living and actions: and it was one end of Christ death to cure us of this self-love, and to excite us always to act under the commanding influence of His love. A Christian’s life should be consecrated to Christ; and then do we live as we ought to live when we live to Christ, who died for us.”

(A Commentary of the Whole Bible – Matthew Henry, 1700s)

In Matthew 23:25, the Lord rebukes the scribes and Pharisees for being self-indulgence. Will He have to rebuke us, His children, for our excessive or unrestrained gratification of our appetites, desires or whims? Let us be diligent to examine ourselves and repent of this sin, if we find ourselves guilty of it.

Let us thank Him for His great love for us, which was revealed on the Cross, and rejoice in it.

May His mercy and grace be abundant to you in this New Year!!

Carl

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