Preparation for Praise

John 4:19-24

Worship service is a term often used to describe a Sunday morning gathering of a church. But is real worship actually happening there? God isn’t looking for attendees to fill up the pews; He’s seeking true worshippers.

When Jesus encountered the Samaritan woman, part of their discussion was about religious observance. She was focused on the right place of worship, but Jesus explained that there were two much more important aspects. Genuine worship of God must be done “in spirit and truth” (John 4:23).

Spirit means our praise can never be simply another item on our to-do list. Authentic worship is not an obligation, burden, or some weekly task, but rather a total spiritual recognition of God’s gracious lovingkindness and divine majesty.

Truth means that worship is not just an emotional experience. Unless it is based on the truth of God’s Word, then all we have is a soothing sentimental feeling. And that kind of experience will neither last nor promote the spiritual growth God desires for us.

Take some time this week to do a spiritual checkup. Think about why you attend church. Ask yourself, Is it merely a habit or duty? Am I seeking an experience, or do I honestly come to praise and adore God?

No To Another Gospel

“I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.” (Galatians 1:6-7)

Some have confessed difficulty with these verses, especially with the words “another gospel: Which is not another.” This problem finds resolution in an understanding of two distinct Greek words that, unfortunately, are both here translated as “another” in this passage.

In verse 6 Paul uses the Greek word heteros, which implies something of a totally different sort altogether—something diametrically opposed to the one to which it is compared. But in verse 7 he uses the word allos, which implies a comparison of two items of the same sort. The thought might be conveyed as follows: “You are removed from the true gospel of the grace of Christ unto a totally different belief system, which is not simply a similar but legitimate expression of the true gospel. Instead, it is quite opposite to the truth.” Paul goes on to teach that this “different” gospel is a perversion of the true gospel, and instead of bringing peace, it brings about a troubling of the mind.

The primary theme of the entire book of Galatians is salvation by grace through faith in Christ, as opposed to salvation by works and law. “No man is justified by the law in the sight of God….The just shall live by faith” (3:11). This marvelous good news had been denied by many in the Galatian church, but Paul had received the message of grace “by the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1:12). Any mixture of works with grace constituted a perversion of God’s plan, and any who would teach such perversion warranted strong condemnation from Paul. “If any man preach any other [Greek para, meaning contrary] gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed” (1:9). JDM

Secular and Sacred

Romans 12:1

This call to present to God our bodies refers, primarily, to this body by means of which I have my being and earn my living—which is another way of saying that divine service is not limited to a particular hour on a Sunday, but covers all that takes place both in my work week as well as in my hours of leisure.

The purpose of the Christian faith is needlessly curtailed if its application is limited to special times and special areas of life. The redemptive purpose of God is as concerned with the way in which a man uses his time and spends his money as the way in which he says his prayers.

We all know that there is a plain difference between a place of worship and an industrial plant, though the balance of life requires our attendance at both. But to suppose that what goes on in the one—but not the other—is of interest to God, is to deprive man of his only hope of a salvation which can redeem the whole of his life.

The shoe repairer who helps to keep people’s feet dry, the shopkeeper who serves wholesome food over his counter, the garage mechanic whose repair job is utterly dependable—and all others like them—can present their bodies, that is to say, what they do, to God as their acceptable service.

In the second place, we are to present to God not only what the body does but what the body is. We would miss an important part of the meaning of this command if we limited it to our physical and mental activities.

For what is the body intended to be? “The temple of the Holy Spirit” is the Christian answer. The body is more than a structure of flesh and bones. In this sense the body means the whole personality. “Your very selves,” translates the New English Bible. This self or personality, presented to God, can be the temple or home of His Spirit, thus becoming yet another human instrument which God can use to accomplish His will on earth.

This is what holy living means—the dedication of as much as I possess to as much as I know of the will of God for me. And far from this total response cramping any man’s style, it ennobles him who makes it and glorifies the God whose service is always perfect freedom.

Frederick Coutts, Essentials of Christian Experience

Your True Greatness

But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; and whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant.

—Matthew 20:26-27

The essence of [God’s] teaching is that true greatness lies in character, not in ability or position. Men in their blindness had always thought that superior talents made a man great, and so the vast majority believe today. To be endowed with unusual abilities in the field of art or literature or music or statecraft, for instance, is thought to be in itself an evidence of greatness, and the man thus endowed is hailed as a great man. Christ taught, and by His life demonstrated, that greatness lies deeper….

While a few philosophers and religionists of pre-Christian times had seen the fallacy in man’s idea of greatness and had exposed it, it was Christ who located true greatness and showed how it could be attained. “Whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; and whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant” (Matthew 20:26-27). It is that simple and that easy—and that difficult.   BAM050

Lord, this truth is indeed contrary to the philosophy of the world. Stimulate my heart this morning to desire this true greatness for Your glory. Amen.


We have known and believed God’s love

We have known and believed the love that God hath to us.—1 John 4:16.


Not what I am, O Lord, but what Thou art!

That, that alone can be my soul’s true rest;

Thy love, not mine, bids fear and doubt depart,

And stills the tempest of my tossing breast.

Horatius Bonar.


When you go to prayer, your first thought must be: The Father is in secret, the Father waits me there. Just because your heart is cold and prayerless, get you into the presence of the loving Father. As a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth you. Do not be thinking of how little you have to bring God, but of how much He wants to give you. Just place yourself before Him, and look up into His face; think of His love, His wonderful, tender, pitying love. Tell Him how sinful and cold and dark all is; it is the Father’s loving heart will give light and warmth to yours.

Andrew Murray.


God is not found in multiplicity, but in simplicity of thoughts and words. If one word suffice for your prayer, keep to that word, and to whatever short sentence will unite your heart with God.

Margaret Mary Hallahan.


If A Triple Promise

“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” 2Chron. 7:14

Called by the name of the Lord, we are nevertheless erring men and women. What a mercy it is that our God is ready to forgive! Whenever we sin let us hasten to the mercy-seat of our God, seeking pardon.

We are to humble ourselves. Should we not be humbled by the fact that after receiving so much love we yet transgress? O Lord, we bow before thee in the dust, and own our grievous ingratitude. Oh, the infamy of sin! Oh, the sevenfold infamy of it in persons so favored as we have been!

Next, we are to pray for mercy, for cleansing, for deliverance from the power of sin. O Lord, hear us even now, and shut not out our cry.

In this prayer we are to seek the Lord’s face. He has left us because of our faults, and we must entreat Him to return. O Lord, look on us in thy Son Jesus, and smile upon thy servants.

With this must go our own turning from evil, God cannot turn to us unless we turn from sin.

Then comes the triple promise of hearing, pardon, and healing. Our Father, grant us these at once for our Lord Jesus Christ’s sake.


Another Archaeological Find, Another Confirmation That Events Recorded in Bible Actually Happened

May 2, 2019 By John Stonestreet

Holy Bible (left) (Photo by Stephen Morton/Getty Images) and Nathan-Melech bulla found in the City of David (right) (Screenshot)

No one names their son Jehoahaz. It’s just too tough to pronounce. On the other hand, most of us know a Josiah or two. Not only is it a much more pronounceable, but as we read in 2 Kings chapter 22, “Josiah was eight years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem thirty-one years … He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord and followed completely the ways of his father David, not turning aside to the right or to the left.”

See, King Josiah stands out among Judah’s final monarchs. Not only did he refuse to take part in idol worship, he tore down the high places and the Asherah poles, and he reinstated the worship and feasts of the true God.

According to the Bible, Josiah did all this because of a discovery in the Temple of a scroll of the Law, which had long been neglected and forgotten. He wept over Judah’s disobedience and recommitted his kingdom and people to the covenant recorded in that scroll. As a result, God promised that the judgment He would eventually send would not occur during Josiah’s lifetime.

A much more recent discovery brought this particular section of 2 Kings to light even more. The Times of Israel recently described two tiny objects unearthed at a dig in the City of David: an agate stone and a lump of burnt clay that both had Hebrew inscriptions which were the names of two individuals—“Ikkar son of Matanyahu”—and “Nathan-Melech, Servant of the King.” Whoever can tell me which one of those two names appears in Scripture deserves this week’s Bible trivia award.

These were seals, you see—the kind once pressed into wax or dipped into ink to sign letters. According to Yiftah Shalev of the Israel Antiquities Authority, where these seals were found sets the 2,600-year-old signets apart for archaeologists. They were discovered in the remains of what was likely an administrative building dating to the 8th century B.C.

Many such artifacts hit the antiquities market, but often no one is really sure where they come from. These, however, were found in “their true archaeological context.”

The name that astute students of Scripture might recognize, by the way, is Nathan-Melech, an official who gets just a passing mention in 2 Kings 23:11, just as Josiah is purging Jerusalem of the trappings of idolatry. Outside of the Bible, this tiny clay seal is the first confirmation of this man’s existence.

And to be clear, it’s the obscurity of his name—both in recorded history and in Scripture—that should amaze us.

In biblical archaeology, it’s often the big players we look for—Moses and David and Paul. Last year’s announcement of a ring bearing Pontius Pilate’s name was big news, and rightly so. It’s a name we say every time we recite the Apostles’ Creed, proclaiming that Jesus’ redeeming work happened in real history.

Still, names like Nathan-Melech, Servant of the King, may offer an even stronger confirmation that the events recorded in the Bible actually happened. The seemingly insignificant name from 2 Kings reminds us that King Josiah, who rediscovered the Law in the Temple and cleansed the nation of idols, isn’t just a character from a mythical story. He was a man in history; he had court officials and administrative headquarters; and he was part of the lineage that led to another King—the Lion Who sits on the throne of Judah and is ushering in a Kingdom—one that, unlike ancient Jerusalem—will never be conquered.

Of course, we don’t believe this big story because someone unearthed a piece of clay with an obscure name on it. But it is exciting to see how even the smallest details in Scripture can hold up under the digging and the scrutiny.

John Stonestreet is President of The Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview and BreakPoint co-host.

Editor’s Note: This piece was originally published by BreakPoint.

VIDEO 2019 National Day of Prayer, There Will Always Be a Need for Unified Public Prayer

May 2, 2019 By Michael Morris

Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) (Photo by Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images)

On May 2, 2019 Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) issued a statement on the 2019 National Day of Prayer, stating that “There will always be an abiding need for unified public prayer by Americans.”

“Today we celebrate the National Day of Prayer,” said Rep. Louie Gohmert in a Press Release statement. “This significant day was designated by the United States Congress in 1952 by a joint resolution. Today Christians all over the country are urged to turn to God in prayer and fervent meditation.

“Throughout the history of this nation, prayer has played a meaningful role,” Rep. Gohmert continued. “In fact, the first call to prayer was in 1775 when the Continental Congress asked the colonies to pray for wisdom in forming a nation. This country’s founding fathers sought after the wisdom of God when faced with serious decisions, and today this practice should also be very important. It is God’s guidance and provision that safely steers our vessels to their safe harbor. There will always be an abiding need for unified public prayer by Americans for our guidance, for wisdom, and for his loving, protective, unseen hand of protection.”

The National Day of Prayer, as noted on the National Day of Prayer website, began when “a bill initiated by Mr. Conrad Hilton of Hilton Hotels and Senator Frank Carlson of Kansas “was passed (Public Law 82-324) that the [p]resident of the United States was to set aside an appropriate day each year, other than Sunday, as a National Day of Prayer.”

Later, in 1987, Republican Senator Strom Thurmond wrote a bill (S.1378), which would amend public law 82-324. The bill went on to pass unanimously in the Senate and a few days later in the House, and on Thursday, May 8, 1988, “Ronald Reagan sign[ed] into law Public Law 100-307 the designation of the first Thursday in May as the annual observance for the National Day of Prayer.”

Congressman Gohmert included Scripture in his statement on the National Day of Prayer:

“I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— 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 people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” – 1 Timothy 2:1-4

Continuing on in his statement, Rep. Gohmert stated, “It is both my hope and my prayer that today we will look past our differences, and truly come together as citizens from all backgrounds to humbly and earnestly pray for our beloved nation. For all who sense that there is a God, may we set aside time, not just today but routinely, to prayerfully beseech our Heavenly Father for his direction.

“We should pray as did George Washington, that God would ‘dispose us all to do justice, to love mercy, and to demean ourselves with charity, humility and pacific temper of mind, which were the characteristics of the Divine Author of our blessed religion, and without an humble imitation of whose example in these things, we can never hope to be a happy nation.,’” said Rep. Gohmert.

Trump defends clinicians’ right to refuse to do abortions

The Trump administration on Thursday moved to protect the rights of clinicians who object to participating in abortions with a regulation intended to safeguard those with religious and moral objections.

President Donald Trump made the announcement during a speech in the White House Rose Garden to mark the National Day of Prayer.

“Just today we finalized new protections of conscience rights for physicians, pharmacists, nurses, teachers, students and faith-based charities,” Trump said. “They’ve been wanting to do that for a long time.”

The conscience rule was a priority for religious conservatives who are a key part of Trump’s political base, but some critics fear it will become a pretext for denying medical care to LGBT people.

According to the Department of Health and Human Services, the rule requires hospitals, universities, clinics and other institutions that receive funding from federal programs such as Medicare and Medicaid to certify that they comply with some 25 federal laws protecting conscience and religious rights.

Most of these laws and provisions address medical procedures such as abortion, sterilization and assisted suicide.

Clinicians and institutions would not have to provide, participate in, pay for, cover or make referrals for procedures they object to on moral or religious grounds, HHS said. The rule also addresses conscience protections involving so-called advance directives that detail a patient’s wishes for care at the end of life.

Asserting that previous administrations have not done enough to protect conscience rights in the medical field, HHS under Trump created a new division within its Office for Civil Rights to investigate complaints.

HHS said last year the office received more than 1,300 complaints alleging discrimination in a health care setting on account of religious beliefs or conscience issues. There was only a trickle of such complaints previously, officials said, about one per year.

The National Women’s Law Center, which advocates for abortion rights, said in a statement that the regulation will allow “anyone from a doctor to a receptionist to entities like hospitals and pharmacies to deny a patient critical — and sometimes lifesaving — care.”

“Personal beliefs should never determine the care a patient receives,” it said.

National Right to Life, an organization that opposes abortion, praised Trump’s action.


Associated Press writer David Crary in New York contributed.

Trump marks National Day of Prayer with synagogue victims

President Donald Trump has celebrated the National Day of Prayer with victims of last weekend’s California synagogue shooting.

Trump and rabbi Yisroel Goldstein of the Chabad of Poway synagogue spoke by telephone after Saturday’s shooting. Goldstein told celebrants during a ceremony Wednesday in the White House Rose Garden that Trump was the first person “who began my healing.”

Goldstein thanked Trump for being, “as they say in Yiddish, a mensch par excellence.” Mensch is Yiddish for a “person of integrity and honor.” Trump said Goldstein is an “incredible man.”

Two other victims of the shooting, including an off-duty Border Patrol agent who fired at the alleged gunman, attended the ceremony.

One woman was killed and three others were injured in the shooting, including the rabbi, who lost a finger.

Trumps, Pences participate in National Day of Prayer at White House


Where am I Going to Graze?

The same came therefore to Philip, which was of Bethsaida of Galilee, and desired him, saying, Sir, we would see Jesus.

—John 12:21

Toward anything like thorough scholarship I make no claim. I am not an authority on any man’s teaching; I have never tried to be. I take my help where I find it and set my heart to graze where the pastures are greenest. Only one stipulation do I make: my teacher must know God, as Carlyle said, “otherwise than by hearsay,” and Christ must be all in all to him. If a man have only correct doctrine to offer me I am sure to slip out at the first intermission to seek the company of someone who has seen for himself how lovely is the face of Him who is the Rose of Sharon and the Lily of the Valley. Such a man can help me, and no one else can.   POM xiv

Forgive me, Lord, and give me afresh and new vision of Youso that any pasture I spread will be worth grazing in. Amen.


When the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful

But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.—Matthew 19:22.

We too, in our own way, have often a quiet impression that we are keeping all the commandments sufficiently, and inheriting the eternal life. One day a tremendous duty opens before us, and we are aghast at its hardness. What shall we do? What shall we answer? Is Christ deserving of everything from us, or only of part? It is a tremendous test which all cannot stand.

Anthony W. Thurold

A great necessity is a great opportunity. Nothing is really lost by a life of sacrifice; everything is lost by failure to obey God’s call. The opportunities of generously serving Jesus Christ are few, perhaps not more than one in a lifetime. They come, they do not return. What we do upon a great occasion will probably depend upon what we already are; what we are will be the result of previous years of self-discipline under the grace of Christ, or of the absence of it.

Henry Parry Liddon.


Things are not to be done by the effort of the moment, but by the preparation of past moments.

Richard Cecil.