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2 Now when John [the Baptist], while imprisoned, heard of the works of Christ, he sent word by his disciples 3 and said to Him, “Are You the Expected One, or shall we look for someone else?” 4 Jesus answered and said to them, “Go and report to John what you hear and see: 5 the blind receive sight and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them. 6 And blessed is he who does not take offense at Me.

Matthew 11:2-6 NASB

Doubt is a constant in a world filled with uncertainty. It can creep up within you when you least expect it and when you least desire it. Doubt is a major stumbling block to faith, and subsequently progression. It does not discriminate against any individual; if you open up the door, it will gladly walk in and settle comfortably inside without a second thought! Even those whom you consider to be pillars of faith have most likely wrestled with doubt at some point in their lives. Although we are not defined by our doubt, it is still a very real human experience nonetheless! No one is exempt from it, which is why assurance that originates from truth serves as a powerful weapon to disarm doubt!

Perhaps one of the most perplexing cases of doubt among the pillars of the Christian faith in the Bible is John the Baptist. In Luke 1, the angel Gabriel appears to Zacharias, John the Baptist’s father, and informs him that he and his barren wife Elizabeth will conceive and give birth to a son who will walk in the spirit and power of the prophet Elijah as a forerunner before Jesus Christ! According to Gabriel, John the Baptist would turn many of the sons of Israel back to the Lord their God and the hearts of many fathers back to their children, in order to ultimately make the people ready for the coming of Jesus Christ, the Messiah (cf. Malachi 4:5-6, Luke 1:13-17). In fulfillment of this prophecy, John the Baptist appears in the wilderness in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar and begins preaching the gospel of repentance for the forgiveness of sins to all the people surrounding the Jordan River (cf. Matthew 3:1-2).

It was he whom the prophet Isaiah spoke of in the Old Testament saying, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘Make ready the way of the Lord, and make His paths straight(cf. Isaiah 40:3). John the Baptist fulfilled the prophecy concerning his ministry, as many people came to him to confess their sins and to be baptized in response to his call to repentance. The confidence John exuded concerning Jesus was evident in many of his statements: “As for me, I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming after Me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove His sandals: He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire(cf. Matthew 3:11a). He demonstrated this same level of humility when Jesus came to be baptized by him: "But John tried to prevent Him saying, ‘I have need to be baptized by You, and do you come to Me?'" (cf. Matthew 3:14). He fully understood and acknowledged who he was in light of Christ: “You yourselves are my witnesses that I said ‘I am not the Christ (Messiah)’, but ‘I have been sent ahead of Him’" (cf. John 3:28).

Sometime after he baptized Jesus, John the Baptist was imprisoned by Herod, the same Herod who issued the decree to kill all male babies born in Bethlehem born two years & under during the time of Jesus' birth (cf. Matthew 2:16). Being the repentance preacher that he was, John the Baptist reprimanded Herod for selfishly divorcing his wife and marrying Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip (cf. Matthew 14:3-4). As a result, John was confined to prison for simply doing what he had always done: call people to turn away from their sinful behavior! While John the Baptist was imprisoned, he apparently grew discouraged and even doubtful of whether Jesus truly was who He said He was, even as he heard about all the miraculous works Jesus was doing, such as healing, cleansing, and casting out demons. Seeking reassurance, John the Baptist instructs two of his disciples to ask Jesus a very important question on his behalf: “Are You the Expected One, or shall we look for someone else?

This was the same John who had loudly proclaimed the coming of the Messiah in the wilderness, called everyone to repent of their sins, and baptized numerous people in the Jordan River, including Jesus Himself. This was the same man who declared that he himself was not the Messiah, but that He who had been sent ahead of Him was indeed the Messiah! What happened to John the Baptist that made him question whether this same Man whom he spoke of with such confidence and reverence was actually the Coming and Expected One? Perhaps sitting in prison unjustly, not knowing what his fate would be or how long he would be confined and being unable to see the Messiah at work with his own eyes opened up a door for doubt to settle in John's mind and heart. Although he heard about the miraculous works that Jesus was doing, John wanted to hear from Jesus Himself!

Rather than condemn John the Baptist for doubting, Jesus gives something profound to John’s two disciples to bring back to him: assurance. Jesus tells John’s two disciples to report back to John what they have seen and heard:

The blind receive sight

The lame walk

The lepers are cleansed

The deaf hear

The dead are raised up

The poor have the gospel preached to them

In stating that the blind have received sight (cf. Isaiah 35:5) and that the poor have had the gospel preached to them (Isaiah 61:1), Jesus specifically quoted two prophetic passages from Isaiah in which Isaiah is speaking of the future works of Jesus Himself! By fulfilling these prophecies, Jesus was confirming to John the Baptist through his two disciples that He was indeed the Messiah, the Expected One! Jesus was not only doing what the Old Testament prophets said that He would, but He was doing only what He could do as God in the flesh! Essentially, when John asked Jesus whether he should look for someone else, Jesus through His miraculous works instructed John the Baptist not to look any further, for the true Messiah had arrived!

Similar to John the Baptist, we often find ourselves doubting God as to whether He is who He says He is amid what we deem to be unfair circumstances! We especially question Him when we cannot visually perceive what He's doing! As a result, we turn to other sources outside of Him in search of aid, answers, and assurance. When we feel tempted to look beyond the God of the universe to fulfill our deepest longings, we must remember and continually ground ourselves in this truth: only the Lord can satisfy! Everything we need and earnestly desire can only be found in Him! In His presence, there is fullness of joy (cf. Psalm 16:11). He alone satisfies the longing soul, and fills the hungry soul with good things (cf. Psalm 107:9). He is El Shaddai, the All-Sufficient One (cf. Genesis 17:1). The Lord stands before each one of us daily and instructs us to look no further! The things that man, the world, and other false deities offer simply cannot compare to the offerings of an eternal, All-Sufficient God!

#livetransformed #mondaydevotional #weeklydevotional #looknofurther #elshaddai #dontdoubt #onlybelieve #assurance #faith #Messiah #psalm16 #psalm107 #genesis17 #matthew11 #bible #inspirationfortheweek

  • Live Transformed

10 "As for the days of our life, they contain seventy years, or if due to strength, eighty years, yet their pride is but labor and sorrow; for soon it is gone and we fly away. 11 Who understands the power of Your anger and Your fury, according to the fear that is due You? 12 So teach us to number our days, that we may present to You a heart of wisdom."

Psalm 90:10-12 NASB

Time is such a complex concept, so much so that the fact that God exists outside of the parameters of time can be somewhat difficult to grasp. However, if there is one thing about time that we can be certain of, it’s that it does not stop for anyone, meaning its continuity is independent of our circumstances. Jobs may be lost, loved ones may pass away, global tragedies may occur, and yet, time will still continue on. This is why time management is such a prized and coveted skill, both for work and life. The individual who knows how to maximize their time well can be successful in anything! Furthermore, it is wisdom that teaches us how to manage our time effectively, to make the most of the time we have!

Here in Psalm 90, Moses, one of the most notable men of the Old Testament, asks the Lord to teach him this very thing in the latter verses! In this Psalm, also known as the "Prayer of Moses the man of God", Moses is laboring in intercession on behalf of the wicked and rebellious people of Israel whose faithless grumbling incites God to enact a fatal sentence upon them (cf. Psalm 90:13-14). In Numbers 14:26-35, God declares that every Israelite who is 20 years of age and older, with the exception of Caleb and Joshua, will die in the wilderness while wandering in the wilderness for a total of 40 years. This was God's righteous judgment upon the Israelite population for choosing to believe the faithless report of the 10 spies who were sent to spy out the Promised Land of Canaan instead of believing the faith-filled report of Caleb and Joshua, the only two faithful spies! Their children would also spend a total of forty years wandering in the desert along with them, but unlike their parents, these children would be allowed to enter into the Promised Land!

It is in God's sentence of death upon the elder generation of the nation of Israel that we see a sharp contrast between the infinite nature of God and the brevity of mortal human life due to sin (cf. Psalm 90:1-6). Moreover, it is disobedience that incurs divine judgement, for the divine wrath & anger that the nation of Israel experienced was a direct result of their continuous rebellion against God! In light of this revelation, Moses declares that the days of our lives are seventy years, or eighty years due to vigor & strength, which is consistent with the average human life span of 78.7 years (“FastStats - Life Expectancy", 2020). While living seventy plus years is deservingly praised among us as human beings, Moses reminds us that our days in light of God's eternalness are few and fleeting ("As for the days of our life, they contain seventy years, or if due to strength, eighty years, yet their pride is but labor and sorrow; for soon it is gone and we fly away.") As a result, Moses likens himself to a student and pleads with the Lord saying, "Teach us to number our days, that we may present to You a heart of wisdom."

Moses realizes that in light of the frailty of mankind, God's infinite nature best qualifies Him to teach His people how to make the most of their remaining days on the Earth! And truly what better person is there to show us how to make the most of our time than God? Unlike other deities, God is eternal, so although we live in a finite world, He can teach us how to live and operate with an eternal perspective here on the Earth! In Psalm 139:16, David declares that "Every day of my life was recorded in Your book." Because God knows the exact length of each of our lives, it would behoove us to seek Him for wisdom on how to best invest, manage, and spend our time! If there is anything we can learn from the elder generation of Israelites, it's that time spent in rebellion against God incurs very costly circumstances! For forty years, the elder generation wandered in the wilderness until each one of them died. What an unfortunate waste of time and opportunity on their part to possess and dwell richly in the promises of God!

By numbering our days, we designate each day as a day of purpose, no matter what the day itself brings, understanding that God causes all things to work together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (cf. Romans 8:28)! By numbering our days, we understand and recognize that our very lives are extremely precious yet also short, and would be best spent walking in obedience to the will of God as opposed to disobedience! By making the most of our days according to God's directives, we can ultimately present back to Him the fruit of the application of His precepts: hearts both full of and transformed by wisdom! God, grant us the supernatural wisdom to manage our time, to find the time to both work and rest, to discern and choose the right opportunities to seize, and to glorify You and Your purposes!

Works Cited

FastStats - Life Expectancy. (2020, October 30). Retrieved November 08, 2020, from https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/life-expectancy.htm

#mondaydevotional #weeklydevotional #livetransformed #morningdevotion #numberingourdays #psalm90 #wisdom #timemanagement

  • Live Transformed

Updated: Nov 6

12 "Epaphras, who is one of your number, a bondslave of Jesus Christ, sends you his greetings, always laboring earnestly for you in his prayers, that you may stand perfect and fully assured in all the will of God. 13 For I testify for him that he has a deep concern for you and for those who are in Laodicea and Hierapolis."

Colossians 4:12-13 NASB

Where would we be in life without those special individuals who labored with us at various stages in our development? For every athlete, there is that one special coach. For every student, there is that one special teacher. For every employee, there is that one special supervisor. He or she stepped into our lives and endeavored not only alongside us, but also within themselves to ensure that we would reach and even exceed our greatest potential! Even when we did not see them working, they were toiling behind the scenes to set us up for success! Ultimately, they labored with us because they cared for us!

While the apostle Paul deeply loved and appreciated the saints at Colossae, there was one individual whose commitment to this particular group of saints stood out even greater. In his letter to the saints at Colossae, the apostle Paul introduces a gentleman by the name of Epaphras as a “faithful servant of Christ Jesus” and a “beloved fellow bond-servant(cf. Colossians 1:7). Epaphras served as a representative of the apostle Paul, and an intermediate between him and the Colossian saints, constantly informing Paul about their steadfast faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and the love they had for all their fellow saints in the Holy Spirit (cf. Colossians 1:3-4, 8).

More notably, Epaphras taught the gospel message (the word of truth) to the Colossian saints, more specifically the grace of God in truth (cf. Colossians 1:5-7). Epaphras was also a Colossian himself (“Epaphras, who is one of your number, a bondslave of Jesus Christ”...). Certainly, his dedicated service to these saints stemmed from their mutual residence within this prominent city. In verse 12, Paul emphasizes Epaphras' servanthood unto Jesus Christ for a third consecutive time, thereby affirming his commitment to the advancement of the true gospel and the selfless manner in which he did so.

While sitting in a Roman prison, the apostle Paul informs the Colossians that Epaphras is “always laboring earnestly for [them] in his prayers...”. Epaphras had traveled to Rome to minister to Paul during his imprisonment, and so Paul witnessed firsthand the great extent to which Epaphras prayed and interceded on behalf of the Colossians. In the Greek language, the phrase “laboring earnestly” means “to struggle” in three different regards: “to compete for a prize”, “to contend with an adversary”, and “to endeavor to accomplish something”. In all three regards, there are varying degrees of struggle involved with the ultimate goal being to conquer and win. In all forms of competition, the aim is to beat all the other competitors and claim the ultimate prize. Contending with an adversary certainly involves struggle because both individuals are fighting to gain the upper hand and subdue the other. Likewise, endeavoring to accomplish a goal certainly does not transpire without opposition and difficulty. In essence, the apostle Paul made it clear that when Epaphras went to intercede on behalf of the Colossian saints, he went to war!

Moreover, Paul emphasizes the frequency in which Epaphras labored earnestly for the Colossians: always! This term “always” in the Greek contains no hidden meaning; it literally means “at all times”. Epaphras prayed for the Colossian saints devoutly; it had become as innate as breathing to him. He developed the discipline of prayer through consistency! With all of this contending, striving, and warring in prayer, certainly Epaphras was contending for something specific on behalf of the Colossians: “that you may stand perfect and fully assured in all the will of God.” Ultimately, Epaphras hoped that through his prayers the saints at Colossae would stand firm, mature, complete and confident in the will of God for their lives!

In verse 13, the apostle Paul informs the Colossians of the source of Epaphras’ intense intercession: “For I testify...that he has a deep concern for you...”. It was Epaphras’ profound care and concern for his fellow Colossians that fueled his faithful intercession on their behalf. Having been the first to share with them the gospel of Jesus Christ, he was concerned for their well-being as they sought to guard themselves against the false teaching that was running rampant throughout their city in his absence. Yet and still, Epaphras prayed that He who had begun a good work in the lives of the Colossian saints through his service would continue to perfect and complete it.

As demonstrated by Epaphras, one of the keys to laboring in intercession on behalf of your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ is developing a fervent desire to see them become all that God has ordained them to be! Yearn to see them walk in a manner that is worthy of the Lord and their calling in Him, to be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, to please Him in all respects, and to bear fruit in every good work they set their hands to do (cf. Colossians 1:9-10). While it is ultimately their responsibility to ensure that they walk in such a way, you can uplift them in prayer as they seek to do so!

You must yearn for your fellow brothers and sisters in the Lord to grow and excel in these areas and others just as much as you desire to do the same in your own life! Furthermore, we should labor earnestly in prayer for unbelievers alike, that they would respond to the Father’s call to draw near to Him so that they might ultimately receive Jesus Christ as their Lord & Savior! Consider the joy and comfort you experience when you know that others are praying for you, especially during those seasons when it is difficult to pray for yourself! He or she may not know it, but they are being held up by the power of God through your very prayers because you’ve been laboring on their behalf as if your very life depended on it! We as believers should continue to pray and intercede without ceasing for we know that the effectual, fervent prayers of the righteous availeth much!

#christiandevotionals #transformationchristianfellowship #inspiration #mondaymotivation #weeklydevotional #morningdevotion #laboringinprayer #laboringinintercession

Transformation Chistian Fellowship Logo church located in Clarksville/Columbia, MD DC area.




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