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Doulos International ~ Robert Barkley

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Re: Doulos International ~ Robert Barkley

Post  Admin on Sun 02 Oct 2016, 5:15 pm

Doulos Meditation on 1 Timothy 2:12-13
Scripture: 1 Timothy 2:12-13—Let a woman learn in silence with full submission. I permit no woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she is to keep silent.

Reflection: It was a man’s world in Paul’s day and the nearest we have to that world now is perhaps the male-dominated societies of Asia and the Middle East. In some of these societies men and women sit separately in worship, not eating together (the women serve the men and then eat later themselves), and the husband discusses nothing of importance with the wife, but merely issues his orders for the day. They are rarely seen together in public. Paul supported adherence to the societal norm and cultural standards of his day. 

Christianity over time changed the world. It was Christianity that largely disposed of slavery (though it is not totally unknown today) and it was the Christian faith that elevated women to be full partners in the gospel of Christ. Now, marriage is a cooperative venture, women are recognized for their intellects and learning (the ancient woman was not allowed an education), and today’s woman is often the employer or manager of a company or an independent entrepreneur in her own right. Our society is far from perfect, but it is far improved in its opportunities for women—both in secular life and in Christian ministry.

Prayer Starter: Father, thank you for the great social advances that have been brought about in Christ in every society that has been infused with the gospel. Amen.  

Doulos Meditation on Wine (1 of 8)

#1 of 8 Meditations on Wine. Scripture: Matthew 11:18—For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon;’ the Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’

Reflection: Jesus was faced by a hateful opposition, looking constantly for something to criticize. Not operating from rational logic, they made up their minds first and then tried to justify their accusations. Like all irrational opponents, they often contradicted themselves.

Concerning John, they said “He must have a demon—only a crazy guy would think that there could be something wrong with eating and drinking.” 

They took the opposite tack when they saw Jesus sitting with people they hated—the undesirables of their society—and eating hearty meals accompanied with good wine, conversation and humorous repartee.

To the rational mind, their untenable position is obvious—how can they have any point in criticizing John for abstaining from wine while criticizing Jesus for drinking wine? But the inconsistency is characteristic of the mind-set. Degenerate Judaism, as displayed in Phariseeism did exactly that. Ulterior motives, hatred, accusations without regard to truth—all of these are weapons of the ego-centered flesh; even when it professes religion.

Prayer Starter:  Father, help us look to our own thoughts, examining ourselves for evil motives and irrationalities; then bring us to repentance and intellectual honesty in Christ Jesus. Amen.
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Re: Doulos International ~ Robert Barkley

Post  Admin on Sat 01 Oct 2016, 10:59 am

Doulos Meditation on Numbers 5:6b/James 5:16

Scripture: Numbers 5:6b—When a man or a woman wrongs another, breaking faith with the LORD, that person incurs guilt and shall confess the sin that has been committed. James 5:16—…confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. 

Reflection: Several interesting ideas are in these verses. Notice, for example, that wronging another person is an affront to God.  Have you noticed that since we have less of God in schools, television, politics, and other public places—it seems that manners have deteriorated greatly and wronging others seems of less consequence? Do you think there might be a relationship between our actions toward others and our guilt before God? With the exclusion of God from our society’s consciousness, there is an accompanying diminishment in our feeling of obligation to each other.

Second—meditate on confession of sin. It’s powerful. I have been blessed several times when someone I love as a brother or sister has allowed me to be their mentor/confessor. A result I can testify of is the vibrant spiritual health of the confessing sinner—and conversely I note that there are none so spiritually sick as those who admit no wrong. And I find a bonus blessing to boot—it is not only the sinner who is blessed in confession, but the confessor as well—and my relationship and respect for each of those people is greater now than ever before. 

Prayer Starter: Father, teach us to share our failures and sins with each other. Make our confessions genuine and humble, but protect us from the arrogant and self serving. Amen.
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Re: Doulos International ~ Robert Barkley

Post  Admin on Fri 30 Sep 2016, 4:54 pm

Doulos Meditation on Matthew 5:16

Scripture: Matthew 5:16…let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.

Reflection: If the divine Christ-life were obvious in every person claiming to be Christian, what would the impact on the world be? What people see are often the failures of Christians to practice the faith they espouse. The false is not distinguished from the true in minds of observers, so some modern atheists such as Bertrand Russell have pointed to the medieval church with its sinful inquisitions and said “so that’s what Christianity is about.”

When the religious establishment in Jerusalem condemned the Christ they gave rise forever afterward to anti-Semitic bigots who vilify all Jews for the crucifixion. It’s a fleshly tendency to see something bad and then generalize that behavior to include entire races, denominations, or countries. But such generalizations themselves reek of sin—they flow from small, narrow and worldly minds.  

One last comment—it is very important that you live credibly as a Christian—if you are not going to, please do us all a favor and quit calling yourself a Christian—that might stop anyone from being lost to Christ because of you. Mohandas Gandhi wrote in his Autobiography, “It was only after I came in contact with…Christians that I resolved…I should be termed a Hindu…”

Prayer Starter: Father, forgive us for the embarrassments and shame we bring on your Son, your Gospel, and your people. Make us genuine or remove us from the lamp stand. Amen.
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Re: Doulos International ~ Robert Barkley

Post  Admin on Wed 28 Sep 2016, 10:34 pm

Doulos Meditation on James 1:14

Scripture: James 1:14—But one is tempted by one’s own desire, being lured and enticed by it.

Reflection: Traditional view of soul is that this is the internal structure of man which wants, thinks, and feels (will, intellect and emotion). Of these three, the will is foremost. I had a teacher who said “Your strength is also your weakness,” and I’ve learned from experience that he is right. If you are known for your bravery, the odds are good that your bravery will get you killed. If you are good at talking, your danger is that you talk too much. If you’re analytical, you may suffer “analysis paralysis” and do nothing. You guard against your weaknesses—it’s your strengths that will be your downfall.

What a dangerous possession is the will!  Wanting is the essence of all sin. The thief steals because he wants your money; the adulterer has sex because he wants someone’s wife; the liar lies because he wants to deceive you; the murderer kills because he wants someone out of the way. I challenge you to find a sin that is not the result of wanting, i.e. will. A short definition of sin: wanting anything other than what God wants. This soul triad of will, intellect and emotion is the very “self” that Jesus said we must deny. When we take up a cross, we are crucified to the world in Jesus’ crucifixion—and Paul spoke of being “dead to sin, but alive to God.” The short definition of conversion is “not my will but thine be done.”   

Prayer Starter:  Father, our desires are corrupt and in the flesh we find ourselves trapped by the law of sin and death. Bring us to see we are irretrievably lost in the desires of our hearts and bring us to abandon ourselves in surrender to your mercies and your will. Amen
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Re: Doulos International ~ Robert Barkley

Post  Admin on Tue 27 Sep 2016, 3:05 pm

Doulos Meditation on Acts 16:14

Scripture: Acts 16:14—The Lord opened her heart to listen eagerly to what was said by Paul.

Reflection: The open heart is a gift from God—I don’t know what variety of means he uses to induce openness—family, friends, life experiences, or perhaps some internal work of the Spirit. The decision to trust him however is ours—but it cannot be made by the person whose heart is locked from the inside with a Keep Out sign on the door.  

Are you interested in winning others to Christ? A good starting place is to pray for an open heart in yourself and in those you talk with. I have prayed many times, “Lord, lead me to some soul today…”and he has answered many times—but it is always someone I never expected! We mustn’t guess the outcomes of our prayers—but demonstrate God’s love daily to all, testify what God is doing in us, and speak earnestly with any who will dialogue about the magnificence of the gospel.  Some will say no, but what a glorious thing it is when God brings us an open heart who is listening eagerly for his word. God knows those who are his and he provides the genuine soul winner with a steady stream of open hearts who are open to the gospel. When that happens, praise and thanksgiving are in order.    

Prayer Starter: Our Father, make us totally submissive and surrendered to your will. Then bring us to others who have open hearts and minds—for your glory and our joy. Amen.
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Re: Doulos International ~ Robert Barkley

Post  Admin on Mon 26 Sep 2016, 1:24 pm

Doulos Meditation on 1 Corinthians 2:4-5

Scripture: 1 Corinthians 2:4-5—My speech and my proclamation were not with plausible words of wisdom, but with a demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might rest not on human wisdom but on the power of God.


Reflection: The preaching of the modern church is largely powerless! The church is becoming irrelevant to our world. Has God retired from the scene? Or has the Gospel been rendered impotent by the forward development of a glorious humanism that is more effective in dealing with the needs of humans? The churches with effective outreach are the minority. Some 1200+/- new churches begin each year, but some 3500+/- disappear. Why? At the same time, never before has America had so many preachers with advanced degrees or seen published so many books on religion and faith. Churches are big business. TV evangelists are powerful movers and shakers. Politicians are blessed or burdened by their association with pastors.


The quest for an answer must begin with the basic theology of the church. Is the church a social organization full of wise, well educated but self directing and self serving people? Or is it an organism whose internal parts are connected and empowered by God’s Holy Spirit—with God in control and supplying the wisdom and direction for all we do? If American churches disappear faster than they appear—does it take a rocket scientist to extrapolate the results? 


Prayer Starter:  Father, work in each of us to humble us that your message might shine forth radiantly—not filtered through our own egos, educations, or denominational biases. Amen.
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Re: Doulos International ~ Robert Barkley

Post  Admin on Mon 26 Sep 2016, 1:18 pm

Doulos Meditation on 1 Peter 5:8

Scripture: 1 Peter 5:8—…Like a roaring lion your adversary the devil prowls around, looking for someone to devour. 1 Corinthians 3:2—I fed you with milk…

Reflection: Two images of feeding and eating emerge in scripture. God and by extension his children are feeding, nourishing, enhancing, health-giving in orientation. “Taste and see that the LORD is good…” Spiritual gifts in Corinth had the dedicated purpose of “building up” the body of Christ. “I am the Bread of Life” Jesus said and “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness…”

A second image is Satan devouring and consuming. J.K. Rowling wrote, “Dementors are among the foulest creatures that walk this earth. They infest the darkest, filthiest places, they glory in decay and despair, they drain peace, hope, and happiness out of the air around them. Even Muggles feel their presence, though they can’t see them. Get too near a dementor and every good feeling, every happy memory will be sucked out of you. If it can, the dementor will feed on you long enough to reduce you to something like itself…soulless and evil. You’ll be left with nothing but the worst experiences of your life.” (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban)

Prayer Starter:  Our God, give us each day our daily bread. Nourish us in body, soul, and spirit that we might grow into the image of your Son and shield us from the Evil One. Amen.
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Re: Doulos International ~ Robert Barkley

Post  Admin on Sun 25 Sep 2016, 4:29 pm

Doulos Meditation on Psalm 68:3
Scripture: Psalm 68:3—But let the righteous be joyful; let them exult before God; let them be jubilant with joy.

Reflection: I went with a friend one time to two different meetings of religious people—both ostensibly Christian—each group largely unaware of the other. I asked my friend what he saw as the difference between the two groups, mostly to see where my friend was coming from in his thinking.

He could have mentioned doctrines, differences in traditional backgrounds, or different ideas about how to worship God—these things I would have expected in response and have heard hundreds of times from hundreds of people. But my friend surprised me a little. Pointing to one of the groups we had visited he commented “These are the happy ones.” 

What food for thought! We are always seeking evidence for stuff—for doctrinal rightness, traditional authenticity, for orthodoxy. Yet a key piece of evidence is right before our faces and we largely miss it. People experiencing real relationship with God are happy—where there is religious cancer there is pain. Characterized by bitterness, argument, one-upmanship, jealousy, judgmental spirit, self serving, self righteousness, the diseases of spirit kill happiness in churches, individuals, politics, and society in general. If you want my advice about which group you should join—choose the happy one. You will not go far wrong.

Prayer Starter:  There is no life so joyous as the life we experience with you, O God. Our buckets overflow with your abundance—our hearts are made glad by your presence. Amen.
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Re: Doulos International ~ Robert Barkley

Post  Admin on Fri 23 Sep 2016, 10:17 pm

Doulos Meditation on Romans 11:33

Scripture: Romans 11:33—O the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!

Reflection: Christianity is paradoxical through and through. “Claiming to be wise, they became fools…” Paul wrote (Rm 1:22) concerning those ancients who took it upon themselves to sit in judgment on God. Opting to have their own opinion and serve their own interests, they dumped the real God for the false, true wisdom for utter foolishness, moral spirits for rule keeping, faith for self confidence, fear of God for arrogance. Far from God is the man who proclaims he has God figured out. The foolishness of self deception is everywhere—especially to be heard in statements about what God does, thinks, will do and is like.

The man destined for knowing is the one overwhelmed and consumed by his ignorance. The one who will be righteous is the one who cries “Lord have mercy on me, a sinner.” The one who surrenders will be more than a conqueror. The one who denies himself will have the self God intended. The one who gives up all he is and has will be the recipient of all that has been and will be. The true believer stands in awed silence before the Almighty—the fool loudly proclaims his (in) competence. Listening in humility trumps speaking out of self-confidence.

Prayer Starter:  Father, in your infinite wisdom destroy every false notion that contaminates our minds. Banish our darkness with your light for without you it is dark indeed. Amen.
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Re: Doulos International ~ Robert Barkley

Post  Admin on Fri 23 Sep 2016, 1:32 am

Doulos Meditation on John 1:1



Scripture: John 1:1—In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

 

Reflection: Is Jesus God? In a word—yes. This is certainly the view of the New Testament writers. In the Greek language there are many instances where two nouns are connected with the word “and” where the first noun has the article but the second does not. In such cases, the two nouns refer to the very same person or object (not to two different objects)—and this usage extends far back into classical Greek grammar.

 

Two passages for your consideration: 2 Peter 1:1—“To those who have received a faith as precious as ours through the righteousness of our God (has the article) and Savior (no article) Jesus Christ.” Titus 2:13—“…while we wait for the blessed hope and the manifestation of the glory of our great God (has article) and Savior (no article), Jesus Christ.” The major heresies of the Christian faith have stemmed from trying to see Jesus as only human, or only divine, or as some emanation of God. He was not a good man whom we have apotheosed (elevated to divinity)—Scripture speaks of him as the real God who took on flesh, forever uniting in himself the divine and the human. What a stumbling block for fleshly minds—what a joy and comfort for the believer!

 

Prayer Starter: Dear God, we praise you as the God who became one of us yet did not cease to be God. In our Lord Jesus we are united with you forever and for this we are grateful. Amen.
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Re: Doulos International ~ Robert Barkley

Post  Admin on Fri 23 Sep 2016, 1:29 am

Doulos Meditation on Camels (#4 of 4)



#4 of 4 Meditations on Camels. 

Scripture: Matthew 23:24—You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel. 19:24—Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.

 

Reflection:  The camel played a role in the humor and hyperbole of Jesus. It was an animal large, strong, stupid and useful. It was the largest animal common to the areas of the Bible and was known by every person who heard Jesus speak. In the Talmud is a reference to the elephant with similar sentiment—“an elephant through a needle’s eye”—but fewer people in that area had seen an elephant.

 

The fanciful notion that there was a gate into Jerusalem called “needle’s eye” is pure fiction and worthless—invented by some unknown person ignorant of hyperbole and literature but amply endowed with imagination. Such never existed, but the misinformation (like all such) lingers on. Hyperbole utilizes images everyone knows buts arranges them in a way that is wildly ridiculous and unforgettable. Jesus, like many another Middle Eastern teacher, used hyperbole as a basic teaching tool. Remember this one?—“…how can you say to your neighbor, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye, while the log is in your own eye?’“ Or, “Let the dead bury the dead.”

 


Prayer Starter:  Father, we praise you again for the wonders of your world and for the many fascinating insights your scripture provides. Thank you for the teachings of Jesus and for his shrewd approach to making things memorable—through parable, paradox and especially through hyperbole. Amen.
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Re: Doulos International ~ Robert Barkley

Post  Admin on Tue 20 Sep 2016, 9:22 pm

Doulos Meditation on Camels (#3 of 4

#3 of 4 Meditations on Camels. 

Scripture: Mark 1:6—Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey.

Reflection:  The hair of the camel was harvested mostly from the back, neck and around the hump. As thread for weaving, it is used to make garments that are tough, but coarse and scratchy. Camels were common in the desert country that bordered the Jordan. Though not mentioned in our passage, John may also have drunk camel’s milk. Note Gen 32:15 where Jacob presents Esau with 30 milch camels; the Bedouin of today still drink camel milk—the camel is their most valuable animal.

The camel has a padded fibrous foot which traverses desert sands with amazing ease where horses and asses cannot navigate. Yet the camel is quite incompetent on muddy ground and slippery soil or rock. The camel’s food is chiefly chopped straw, beans, oil cake, and occasionally grain. “There seems, however, to be no thorn too sharp for its relish” (Hastings Bible Dictionary). The hump is mostly fat reserve. The camel has a compound stomach which stores reserve water, giving it tremendous endurance in harsh climates.

Prayer Starter:  Father in heaven, we praise you for the diversity in your world—the way you provide for our sustenance and development in every climate and topography of earth. Amen.
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Re: Doulos International ~ Robert Barkley

Post  Admin on Mon 19 Sep 2016, 10:59 pm

Doulos Meditation on Camels (#1 of 4)

#1 of 4 Meditations on Camels. 

Scripture: Judges 7:12—The Midianites and the Amalekites and all the people of the east lay along the valley as thick as locusts; and their camels were without number, countless as the sand on the seashore.

Reflection: You can see the similarity between the English word Camel and the Hebrew Gamal (plural gamalim). What a view Gideon had standing on a hilltop and watching the raiders from the east assembled in the valley with their vast numbers of gamalim! (Jud 7:8, 12) With his mere 300 men, he posed a surprise attack in the darkness and God delivered the pillagers into his hands. “When they blew the three hundred trumpets, the Lord set every man’s sword against his fellow…” (Jud 7:22) I can imagine the chaos that resulted with camels and fighters scattering in the dark, killing each other, shouting and cursing and calling on their pagan gods.

The camel was essential to the desert life of the tent dweller. It served as transport for goods and people, occasionally food (the Jews were forbidden it, though), and a source for tough coarse hair that provided rope and hair garments. The C. dromedarius (one hump camel) was most common in bible lands and was the burden bearer that carried heavy loads (600 to 800 pounds is normal). A different breed was used for speedy travel (called the hajin). This latter could run 8 to 10 miles per hour for 18 out of 24 hours. The desert tribes with their great animals had unbelievable ranges and speeds at their disposal.  

Prayer Starter: Lord, what a marvelous deliverance you worked in the middle of the night and what images we see over 3000 years later as we read about the desert raiders and their camels as they invaded the land of Israel. Thank you for scripture. Amen. 

Doulos Meditation on Camels (#2 of 4)

#2 of 4 Meditations on Camels. Scripture: Genesis 12:16—And for her sake he dealt well with Abram; and he had sheep, oxen, male donkeys, male and female slaves, female donkeys, and camels. 13:2—Now Abram was very rich (kabed) in livestock, in silver, and in gold.

Reflection: Abram was not a poor man. Before he ever set foot in Egypt, he had brought from Haran all his possessions and slaves plus his various family members. We can well picture him travelling by caravan of camels with Sarai perched atop a “saddle” (like Rachel did later as she hid the idols of Laban in the saddle—Gen 31:34). His trip to Egypt only added to his wealth—and it was largely defined in terms of animals, among which were camels—the most important transportation available. He probably mounted his private army on camels to go rescue Lot from the kidnappers (Gn 14:14). The root kbd (from whence kabod, kabed) is the source of the Old Testament term for glory (and implies such adjectives as magnificent, heavy, shining.) Yes, Abram was gloriously rich—his caravans of camels and flocks and herds were unmatched.

Prayer Starter:  Father, help us to visualize those ancient patriarchs as they lived lives now difficult to imagine—but richly rewarding when we can look into your scripture and allow you to enlighten our understanding. Thank you for that desert animal we have so little experience with in our country, but which played such an important role in developing your people. Amen.
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Re: Doulos International ~ Robert Barkley

Post  Admin on Sat 17 Sep 2016, 9:43 pm

Doulos Meditation on Mark 16:12-13

Scripture: Mark 16:12-13—After this he appeared in another form to two of them, as they were walking into the country. And they went back and told the rest, but they did not believe them.


Reflection: Just an afterthought on resurrection—what Luke details, Mark only mentions, the story of the two disciples who encountered Jesus on the road to Emmaus. It’s an instructive bit because it gives us insight into the new relationship between Jesus and his disciples. He walks, talks, eats, asks them questions, and discusses scripture with them. He chides them for being slow to believe the prophets and their words about the Messiah.


Is this a model explaining what we can expect from discipleship? Do we walk, talk, eat with Jesus—conscious of his presence? How much residual slowness to believe does he find in us? Does his presence enlighten us as we peruse the scripture (or do we use it as a digging ground for proof texting to substantiate our own arguments)? Is the “breaking of bread” Eucharistic—and if so, is the Holy Communion a prime place for knowing Jesus? I suggest the accounts here and Luke 24 are there for more reasons than just to footnote the resurrection event.


Prayer Starter:  Father we want to walk moment by moment with Jesus as his disciples. Thank you for this story of the two disciples going to Emmaus. Amen.
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Re: Doulos International ~ Robert Barkley

Post  Admin on Fri 16 Sep 2016, 9:02 pm

Doulos Meditation on Holy Week (#8 of 8)

#8 of 8 Meditations on Holy Week: Sunday: Day of Unutterable Joy (Mt 28; Mk 16; Lk 24; Jn 20). 

Scripture: Luke 24:31-35—Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. They said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?” That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together. They were saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!” Then they told what had happened on the road and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread.

Reflection: I believe Jesus was raised up from death by the power of God and that the experience of those first Christian witnesses shaped the core of the Christian message for all time to come. I can understand the man who doesn’t believe and I’m sympathetic to his plight. He may be trying to filter divine wisdom through human rationality—it won’t work. Rather, faith begins with surrender—a deliberate decision I can make. If I do, the gateway to my soul is open to God and he will show me himself and bring me to confidence in Jesus and his resurrection. I come to know because I have relationship—never the reverse. Faith is not produced by knowing—but by trusting. Paul wrote, “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death, if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead.” (Phil 3:10f) Jesus’ claims are validated, he is alive and accessible, and the Christian message is ultimate truth—because of the resurrection.

Prayer Starter:  Father, we praise you in all this earth for your love and power demonstrated most vividly in the crucifixion and resurrection of our Lord Jesus the Christ. Amen.
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Re: Doulos International ~ Robert Barkley

Post  Admin on Thu 15 Sep 2016, 9:07 pm

Doulos Meditation on Holy Week
#7 of 8 Meditations on Holy Week: Saturday—Day of Sabbath Rest. 
Scripture:  Luke 23:56b—On the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment.

Reflection: Only Luke mentions the disciples observed the Sabbath that week. What was usually a happy time—a family time—a time of prayer and scripture study—was this week a day of heart sickening sorrow. The emotional impact of Jesus’ death blasted away their peace. They struggled to understand—just to comprehend the immensity of the injustice that had been done. His death was very real and the women had already prepared the burial spices but the beginning of Shabbat forbade them embalming the body until the next day. They were ready to go early the next day to the tomb—they had seen the body and where Jesus lay.

I suspect the disciples gave up hope. They had hoped the new world was beginning—but now they saw only failure and impossibilities. Peter wept aloud in the very midst of his friends, confessing again and again his big boasts and little faith. Perhaps John was depressed and went where he could be alone to mourn. Judas was gone forever and he was a bitter topic of conversation among these disciples. Those faithful, quiet women of faith no doubt talked with each other and prayed to God their inner thoughts.

Prayer Starter:  Father, thank you for preserving these disciples at this moment when they thought all was lost and there was no hope, on the day of rest when no one rested. Amen.
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Re: Doulos International ~ Robert Barkley

Post  Admin on Wed 14 Sep 2016, 11:19 pm

Doulos Meditation on Holy Week

#5 of 8 Meditations on Holy Week: Thursday—Day of Love and Deep Emotion (Mt 26:17-56; Mk 14:12-52; Lk 22:7-52; Jn 13:1-18:11). 

Scripture: John 13:34-35—“I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Reflection:  Thursday saw the Passover meal and Lord’s Supper; the “new commandment” of love and the promise of the Holy Spirit. Jesus foretold Peter’s denial; dismissed Judas to do his nefarious deed and comforted the disciples, saying “I have said this to you, so that in me you may have peace. In the world, you face persecution. But take courage, I have conquered the world.” (Jn 16:33) This day included the prayers of agony in Gethsemane, the extended conversations with the disciples, and the actual betrayal and arrest of Jesus late in the evening. This was a private day—to his closest friends, Jesus over and over expressed his love and the meaning of being God’s people. He was  deeply moved and disturbed in his spirit both at the betrayal and crucifixion now arrived, and the still bewildered disciples arguing about who would be greatest in the kingdom.

Prayer Starter:  Our God, thank you for your love manifested in Jesus our Lord as he reached into the heart of Judaism at Passover and revealed for all time the meaning of religion, the degeneracy of our race, the love of God, and the cost of our salvation. Amen.
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Re: Doulos International ~ Robert Barkley

Post  Admin on Tue 13 Sep 2016, 3:35 pm

Doulos Meditation on Holy Week


#4 of 8 Meditations on Holy Week: Wednesday—Day of Treason (Mt 26:14ff; Mk 14:10ff; Lk 22:3ff). 


Scripture: Mark 14:10---Then Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve, went to the chief priests in order to betray him to them. When they heard it, they were greatly pleased and promised to give him money. So he began to look for an opportunity to betray him.
 
Reflection:  Tuesday night seems to have been spent in Bethany in the house of Simon the Leper (Mk 14:1ff) and it was “two days before the Passover.” The woman with the expensive ointment anointed Jesus at a dinner there. Nothing is detailed of the next day (Wednesday) but this seems to have been the time when Jesus took a teaching break and remained in Bethany and Judas went to the priests. Nothing is certain, of course, in the chronology.
 
Ever notice how money and greed are displayed in the Holy Week sequence? The merchants in the temple and the greed of their high priestly sponsors—the startling contrast of the widow with the two coins—the arrogant, lying, self serving done by Judas over the use of the costly ointment (Mk 14), and now the outright and crass selling of Jesus to those who lusted for money but did not love God.  
 

Prayer Starter:  Father, we weep not so much at the death of Jesus—for this you ordained and performed in your wisdom for our salvation—and turned our sorrow to joy by resurrection. But we weep even today over our race’s depravity that enacted this shameful drama. Have mercy on us—for we, too, are sons of perdition and have sold out the one who loves us. Amen.   
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Re: Doulos International ~ Robert Barkley

Post  Admin on Sun 11 Sep 2016, 8:35 pm

Doulos Meditation on Holy Week

#3 of 8 Meditations on Holy Week: Tuesday—Day of Confrontation. (Mt 21:23-26:13, Mk 11:27-14:9; Lk 20:1-21:38). 

Scripture: Matthew 22:37-40—He said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”

Reflection:  Tuesday seems to be the busiest day of Holy Week for Jesus’ teaching and interacting. The list of parables, confrontations, and events is too long even to list here. He spoke devastating teachings about the evils of the established religion—for example the parables of the two sons, the wicked tenants, and the wedding feast. His confrontations included the tax question and authority question but there were touching points of impact such as the widows offering (Mk 12:41ff). It was on this day that serious discussion was afoot on how to kill Jesus. As for Jesus himself, he never lost focus—bottom lining the greatest commandment in the midst of controversy. Has God confronted you and your conscience over Jesus and your response to him? Do you love God more than your family, your money, your life? At this critical point in the last week of Jesus’ earthly life, all around were rapidly pooling into two groups—those who put God first and those who did not.

Prayer Starter: Father, so much religion is just pretending—worthless, meaningless, deadly. Forgive us and somehow get hold of our inner selves that we may be saved. Amen.
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Re: Doulos International ~ Robert Barkley

Post  Admin on Sat 10 Sep 2016, 5:24 pm

Doulos Meditation on Holy Week

#2 of 8 Meditations on Holy Week: Monday—Day of Authority (Mt 21:12-22; Mk11:12-19; Lk 19:45-48). 

Scripture: Matthew 21:12-13—Then Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who were selling and buying in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves. He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer, but you are making it a den of robbers.’”


Reflection: Monday saw the cleansing of the temple and the cursing of the fig tree—both frontal assaults on the practice of degenerate Judaism. Jesus condemned the greedy mind that saw religion as a way to make money and the fig tree though green and promising that bore no fruit. Each of these acts forms a “prophetic action” somewhat like the great dramatized enactments of Jeremiah and Hosea in the Old Testament. Nights were spent during Holy Week at Bethany, near Mount Olivet. Events during Holy Week have chronological inconsistencies between the four gospels as you will notice—is the temple event on triumphal entry day or the next day? But don’t get lost in the details—rather see the building drama of the week when God’s judgment is pronounced on sin and the world. The merchants in the temple formed a concession by the high priestly family who controlled and profited by the commerce. At the very heart of what should have been the worship of God’s chosen people lay the self serving greed that epitomizes the world without God.  

Prayer Starter: Father, how could people of your own choosing whom you love dearly have fallen so far into such religious pretending? Guard us all for we too are vulnerable. Amen.
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Re: Doulos International ~ Robert Barkley

Post  Admin on Fri 09 Sep 2016, 10:22 pm

Doulos Meditation on Holy Week

#1 of 8 Meditations on Holy Week: Palm Sunday, Day of Symbolism

Scripture: Matthew 21:8-11—A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds…were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven!” When he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was in turmoil, asking, “Who is this?” (Also vid Mk 11; Lk 19; Jn 12)

Reflection: In the western church holy week (the last week of Jesus’ earthly ministry) begins with Palm Sunday.  In Judaism the palm fronds for centuries characterized victory celebrations and ancient thought said if the king rode a donkey, he came in peace, but if on a horse he came seeking war. People chanted Psalm 118, “Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the LORD,” and the crowds were intoxicated with the idea the Messiah would end the Roman occupation. Can you feel the impact of that psalm which also reads, “The stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone, and Zechariah’s prophecy, “See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey(9:9)? Read and reflect on this moving event. John did and wrote, “After this I looked and there was a great multitude…with palm branches in their hands...They cried…Salvation belongs to our God who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb.” (Rev 7:9ff)


Prayer Starter:  Lord, the greatest drama of the ages is the one you produced and directed that week long ago. We are moved inwardly but words fail us. Amen.
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Re: Doulos International ~ Robert Barkley

Post  Admin on Thu 08 Sep 2016, 11:16 pm

Doulos Meditation on Acts 13:3

Scripture: Acts 13:3—Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off.

Reflection: Characteristic of the first Christians was their commission to service of those who were starting out with a mission. The church did not originate the mission—they listened to the Holy Spirit who is the initiator, empowerment, and steering dynamic behind all that is truly Christian. They saw their role as channels of God’s active enlistments—and God has always used men and women of faith for such purposes.


There is not much sense of ritual, formality, command or doctrine in such things—but rather spontaneous response to what God was doing at that time and place. Scripture mentions the Holy Spirit spoke to them saying “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” It was God’s calling and mission—but what great blessing they experienced participating as the support team. Some churches today still fast, pray and lay their hands on God’s sent ones—but it’s not as common as before. Is that a commentary on our perception of God and the immediacy of our task?   

Prayer Starter:  God, we love being a part of your calling and commissioning process. Use us to strengthen the hands of those who work at your bidding. In the name of our Lord, Amen.


Doulos Meditation on Romans 12:15

Scripture: Romans 12:15—Rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep. Sirach 7:34—Do not avoid those who weep, but mourn with those who mourn.

Reflection: The human soul is more aware of its own existence than it is of other souls. I am more sensitive to my own thoughts and feelings than I am to yours. This is both good and bad. It is good that I am not the victim of your emotions—you can be down but I am not forced into the same pit. It works the other way, too. You may be celebrating with gusto—and I can remain laid back and objective about it all.

Christian concern for others, however, involves deliberately establishing rapport with others. “How are you?” is not just a pleasantry for the believer—it is an earnest inquiry into your welfare. The difference between the genuine and the actor becomes easy to see here. The authentic believer actually wants to know and really listens to the response. The pretender only uses the question “How are you” as a way to get past the encounter in a socially acceptable way. In the body of Christ there are no independent parts, but every organ prospers or suffers according to the welfare of others. Are you sensitive to others or merely pretending?

Prayer Starter: Father grant us hearts that feel the harmonics of others—that vibrate in sympathy with their sorrows and their rejoicings. Destroy our pretending. Amen.   
God is always bringing us closer to Him.
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Re: Doulos International ~ Robert Barkley

Post  Admin on Wed 07 Sep 2016, 12:10 am

Doulos Meditation on 1 Chronicles 11:1

Scripture: 1 Chronicles 11:10—Now these are the chiefs of David’s warriors, who gave him strong support in his kingdom, together with all Israel, to make him king, according to the word of the Lord concerning Israel.

Reflection: David alone could never have become a king. He was always quick to give the credit for his success first to God and then to the people through whom God had worked to bring him the monarchy. Chronicles indexes the foremost of these mighty warriors who brought David to power. The glimpses we have of their activities are impressive.  

It was David and Eleazar who stood in a barley field and fought Philistines after the ordinary people had fled—but scripture comments “the LORD saved them by a great victory.” And it was “the three,” David’s truest and strongest who braved the enemies camp to bring water to David from the well of Bethlehem. And one Benaiah was “a doer of great deeds” who in the snow, killed a lion and repeated himself the story of David and Goliath. “…he killed an Egyptian, a man of great stature, five cubits tall. The Egyptian had in his hand a spear like a weaver’s beam; but Benaiah went against him with a staff, snatched the spear out of the Egyptian’s hand, and killed him with his own spear.” God uses all who will place their abilities at his disposal—there will always be a need for those with courage, strength, skill, loyalty, and honesty. David seems to have attracted such again and again. We attract to ourselves people of like nature.

Prayer Starter: Father, we thank you for those who act fearlessly and put their abilities at your service. Thank you for David’s mighty men and their true valor for you. Amen. 


Doulos Meditation on Acts 13:3
Scripture: Acts 13:3—Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off.

Reflection: Characteristic of the first Christians was their commission to service of those who were starting out with a mission. The church did not originate the mission—they listened to the Holy Spirit who is the initiator, empowerment, and steering dynamic behind all that is truly Christian. They saw their role as channels of God’s active enlistments—and God has always used men and women of faith for such purposes.

There is not much sense of ritual, formality, command or doctrine in such things—but rather spontaneous response to what God was doing at that time and place. Scripture mentions the Holy Spirit spoke to them saying “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” It was God’s calling and mission—but what great blessing they experienced participating as the support team. Some churches today still fast, pray and lay their hands on God’s sent ones—but it’s not as common as before. Is that a commentary on our perception of God and the immediacy of our task?   

Prayer Starter:  God, we love being a part of your calling and commissioning process. Use us to strengthen the hands of those who work at your bidding. In the name of our Lord, Amen.
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Re: Doulos International ~ Robert Barkley

Post  Admin on Mon 05 Sep 2016, 8:23 pm

Doulos Meditation on Genesis 14:3

Scripture: Genesis 14:3—All these joined forces in the Valley of Siddim (that is, the Dead Sea.)

Reflection:  As far as I know, this is the first time this area is mentioned in the bible. The Valley of Siddim was probably the southern part—the word itself means “tilled fields.” Some believe that the peninsula extending out into the Dead Sea once went across the entire valley and formed the southern shore of the sea. This area has three striking characteristics—it is very beautiful, extremely dry, and very hot.

The Dead Sea itself is fascinating. The waters look heavy—the waves move a little unnaturally it seems. Maybe it’s subconscious, but the highly mineralized water simply doesn’t move quite like water that is purer. Every stick and stone along the edge is white with salt deposits. The waters remind you of melted lead—sort of a pewter color. The ancient valley had pits of oozing asphalt—death traps for the careless or unwary. Even over this inhospitable land kings fought; here four against five. Their kingdoms were little more than a city with its surrounding fields and tent dwellers. Lot was a victim of their wars and Abram had to rescue him. Modern tourists can ride in their air conditioned bus to the area and swim in the leaden waters.   

Prayer Starter:  Father, thank you for the drama and excitement of scripture and the glimpses it gives into antiquity as you proceeded to develop the agendas of history. Amen.
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Re: Doulos International ~ Robert Barkley

Post  Admin on Sat 03 Sep 2016, 8:38 pm

Doulos Meditation on Genesis 3:12-14a

Scripture: Genesis 3:12-14a—The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit from the tree, and I ate.” Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said “The serpent tricked me, and I ate.” The LORD God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this…”

Reflection: What a world of ideas this little passage presents! First it sounds exactly like some people I have known well—“George did it.” “I did not—Sam did it.” “If you two don’t quit arguing, I’m leaving.” “If you don’t like it, then go ahead and leave.” (Apologies to everyone named George or Sam.) Don’t you get weary of hearing this kind of stuff? Maybe I’m not patient enough. People in the blame game never solve a problem or learn to love. The reasoning of the flesh binds the spirit and prevents the Holy Spirit from pursuing his transformations.  

Secondly, it is Satan at the root of it all. That’s scary isn’t it? When people bicker and blame, argue and accuse—they are puppets in the hands of an evil spirit who hates them. Notice that in the passage God told the man and woman they would suffer consequences from their sins but the root responsibility he lays at Satan’s feet—“Because you have done this…” The only way out of this fleshly trap is through the empowerment of the Holy Spirit—and He lives only in those who are born from above in total surrender to the will and mind of God.   

Prayer Starter: Father, by your power and presence, make us fixers and not blamers. Amen.
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