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Doulos International ~ Robert Barkley

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Re: Doulos International ~ Robert Barkley

Post  Admin on Fri 13 Jan 2017, 11:46 pm

Doulos Meditation on Conscience (#7 of 8)

#7 of 8 Meditations on Conscience. Scripture: 2 Corinthians 4:2—Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.

Reflection: It’s difficult to move from deceiver to one who renounces secret and shameful ways. We are always tempted to revert. But our daily behavior commends or condemns us.

Interestingly, this is not just my conscience problem; it places a conscience problem on each of my associates. Suppose I want to do a shady deal and want my friend to go along. He knows me well and sees me as deceptive and dishonest—yet look what a spot I’m putting him in. Being aware of my “secret and shameful ways” he is faced with turning his back on our friendship, or going along and corrupting his own conscience.

There is no principle of evil more uniformly true than this: Evil always wants bring about evil in others.

The man with no conscience puts all around him in embarrassing, stressful, and conscience corrupting situations. The willful sinner is always looking for converts.

Is this not another facet of the words of Paul, “Be not unequally yoked with unbelievers?” (2 Cor 6:14)

Prayer Starter: Father, in all we do help us to keep our consciences clear and never to place someone else in the position of abusing their conscience by associating with us. Amen.
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Re: Doulos International ~ Robert Barkley

Post  Admin on Thu 12 Jan 2017, 11:27 pm

Doulos Meditation on Conscience (#6 of 8)

#6 of 8 Meditations on Conscience. Scripture: Titus 1:15-16—To the pure, all things are pure, but to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure. In fact, both their minds and consciences are corrupted.

Reflection: To the man (or woman) who wears green sunshades, all things are green. To the one who wears orange sunshades all things are orange.

We see in others only images filtered and distorted by our own selves. The man who steals always suspects others of being thieves; the sensual man detects sexual motives in everything someone else says; the racist attributes racism to the remarks of others.

Paul attributes this to the corrupted mind and conscience of the unbeliever. Filthy streams only produce polluted water.

How important for the Christian to guard his mind and conscience! And how many of us seriously consider what we program our minds with? Have you watched any TV sitcoms lately? Pornography? Blatantly false advertising? Nasty city council meetings? Hmmm.
Are all the toxins in our environment chemical? Do you think that maybe corrupt minds and consciences are the world’s most dangerous weapons of mass destruction?

Prayer Starter: Father, by your Spirit put to death in us all that distorts, contaminates, enfeebles or kills our minds and consciences. Cleanse us daily by the blood of Jesus that we may think pure thoughts, say kind words, do good works, and deal honestly with all people. Amen.


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Re: Doulos International ~ Robert Barkley

Post  Admin on Wed 11 Jan 2017, 11:46 pm

Doulos Meditation on Conscience (#5 of 8)

#5 of 8 Meditations on Conscience. Scripture: 1 Corinthians 8:12—When you sin against your brothers in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ.

Reflection: Violating one’s own conscience is sin; but how am I to deal with someone elses conscience? Occasionally you’ll find someone who for conscience sake does not want to drink a glass of wine (or even a cup of coffee); cross in front of a church altar without making the sign of the cross; enter a Hindu shrine; or even say “damn” if it’s written in a drama script.

There is a second kind of person of evil intent who is always deliberately trying to trample on another’s conscience—pressuring him to try this drug, or that drink, or ridiculing him for going to church.



I suspect there is a correlation between one’s own conscience deficiency and the urge to damage someone else’s. The person who is most sensitive to his own conscience will not likely injure another’s.

The Christian protects with kindness the conscience of another—even if he thinks it misplaced. He sees that others, too, are in process—and he himself is not perfect.

Respect for the Spirit’s work in us demands respect for that same working in another.

Prayer Starter: Lord, teach us to deal thoughtfully and kindly with the inner workings of others hearts. Forgive us of the extensive damage we have done to others in times past. And increase daily our sensitivity to the presence of your Spirit of Truth. Amen.

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Re: Doulos International ~ Robert Barkley

Post  Admin on Wed 11 Jan 2017, 12:27 am

Doulos Meditation on Conscience (#4 of 8)
#4 of 8 Meditations on Conscience. Scripture: Acts 23:1—Paul looked straight at the Sanhedrin and said, “My brothers, I have fulfilled my duty to God in all good conscience to this day.” At this the high priest Ananias ordered those standing near Paul to strike him on the mouth. Then Paul said to him, “God will strike you, you whitewashed wall! You sit there to judge me according to the law, yet you yourself violate the law by commanding that I be struck.”

Reflection: This was a confrontation between a man who lived by conscience and a man whose conscience was badly damaged. Paul looked his accusers straight in the eye—the age old sign of the straight forward man with nothing to hide.

He avowed he had lived according to his conscience. He would not claim for a second that he was guilty of no sin—just that he had lived with the intention of being honest before God.


The high priest, on the other hand, was ready to sit in judgment—not on Paul’s behavior, but on his claim to a clear conscience. As a man whose conscience had been downgraded or ignored, Ananias who claimed to be champion of the law, comfortably violated that same law to satisfy some urge in his own ego.

So it always is. Those with no conscience will not tolerate those who live by conscience—they sit in judgment on others’ motives, inner conflicts, and spiritual guidance from God. Lack of conscience is always a big part of spiritual blindness.

Prayer Starter: Father, deliver us from those whose consciences have died; who are addicted to self praise and self service—who sit in judgment thinking that others are as false as they are, criticizing others’ use of spiritual tools they themselves are lacking altogether. Amen.
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Re: Doulos International ~ Robert Barkley

Post  Admin on Mon 09 Jan 2017, 11:11 pm

Doulos Meditation on Conscience (#3 of 8)



#3 of 8 Meditations on Conscience. Scripture: 1 Peter 3:16—Keep your conscience clear, so that, when you are maligned, those who abuse you for your good conduct in Christ may be put to shame.



Reflection: Walking daily with God involves constant responses to our inner conscience in everything we do or say.



The Holy Spirit works in this inner guidance system, but to no avail if we deliberately choose to ignore the directives of conscience. By cancelling out the signals from conscience, the good that God would do in us is nullified. Our shield against evil is removed. We are exposed to temptation and disarmed internally. Violating conscience is the first step to the destruction and debilitation of this most valuable inner reality.



Maintaining good conscience makes the Christian feel good toward others. He does the best he can in all circumstances; lives in honesty based on his understanding of God’s truth.



Acting in violation of conscience turns that innocent feeling into dread and fear. It desensitizes our hearts and adds hypocrisy to our other sins. It gives Satan a ground for his accusations.



Prayer Starter: Father, what a treasure your presence is in us. Instruct our consciences and teach us to makes choices moment by moment as you direct. Amen.
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Re: Doulos International ~ Robert Barkley

Post  Admin on Sun 08 Jan 2017, 11:40 pm

Doulos Meditation on Conscience (#2 of 8)

#2 of 8 Meditations on Conscience. Scripture: 1 Corinthians 4:4—My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. Acts 24:16—So I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man.

Reflection: Paul, like you and I, recognized that conscience is a utility. It can never serve as the ultimate judge of right and wrong—God alone is the Judge.

But conscience is a most practical tool for your spiritual toolbox. The conscience tool gets better as it’s used. Its basic definitions become refined and perfected as God’s Spirit hones and sharpens our conscience.

For example, I might at age 15 think very little of telling a lie to cover my guilt in some school scandal—at age 30 my conscience would no longer allow me to dodge responsibility like that and I tell the boss “It’s my fault—I broke the copier.” At age 50 perhaps my conscience is more refined still and I pray to God to remove even my pretending before others to be more than I am.

As I age through the 60s, 70s or more, my conscience should get more sensitive and become a more accurate and powerful instrument for helping form me into the image of Jesus.

What as a teenager required an earthquake to get my attention and arouse me to repentance in older years needs only a whisper from the Divine still voice. We learn to listen. That’s one thing God’s Spirit teaches us. Alas, we must also listen to learn. But a person who has kept his conscience bound and gagged in the closet may never realize it starved to death years ago.

Prayer Starter: Father, keep our consciences out in the open where the light of your presence can shine on them, purifying and strengthening them until this beautiful inner guidance system is completely at the disposal of your Spirit who transforms us into the image of Christ. Amen.
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Re: Doulos International ~ Robert Barkley

Post  Admin on Sat 07 Jan 2017, 8:11 pm

Doulos Meditation on Conscience (#1 of 8)

#1 of 8 Meditations on Conscience. Scripture: Romans 2:15…the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness…

Reflection: Conscience is a strange and subtle spiritual power. Each of us has a different amount of it—I met a sheriff once escorting an 11 year old boy to a juvenile facility and who had stopped in the store where I was working.

While the kid was accompanied by another deputy, the sheriff told me they had to watch the boy every minute because he had no conscience—he would think nothing of killing you if he could, and he would have no regrets about it—no inner sensitivity toward right and wrong. I do not know if the sheriff was correct—but they were taking no chances.

In the normal human, there seems to be an innate sense of right and wrong. Not all consciences agree about the details of right or wrong, but this was called in olden days the Law of Nature, i.e. the built in morality common to all.

CS Lewis in Mere Christianity argues that this is a clue to the moral nature of the universe and that we were created by a God who is not neutral and that the roots of conscience lie in the Divine nature himself.

Conscience is the referee between what we believe we know and what we actually do. When these two do not agree, conscience notices it and complains deep inside to the spirit in us that is made in God’s image.

Prayer Starter: Father, we thank you for the sense of morality we possess. Work in each of us to refine, empower, and use this strange quality for your glory and your kingdom. Amen.
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Re: Doulos International ~ Robert Barkley

Post  Admin on Fri 06 Jan 2017, 11:41 pm

Doulos Meditation on Mark 1:19

Scripture: Mark 1:19—As he went a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John, who were in their boat mending the nets.

Reflection: Every occupation has the work of preparation or repair, getting ready for the next client, patient or customer. Getting the house ready to paint is every bit as important as the actual application of paint—it takes longer, requires more effort and if not done right, destroys any hope for a paint job that will last.

Mending nets—painstaking, daily, tedious, boring—can’t you just hear the new employee complaining and looking for a short-cut? The word “mending” is the same word Paul uses in Ephesians 4:12—“…equipping the saints for the work of ministry.”

I am aware of the contextual differences and the differences in translation in the two places—but the point I want to share is both times are talking about preparation! It is just as important for fishers of men as it ever was for fishers of fish.

If you’re concerned that God is not much using you to win souls, serve others, and make a difference—don’t look first at the church, your community, teaching materials, program, or the mission committee. Look first to yourself: Are you equipped, prepared, surrendered, trained, ready and Spirit led?


Prayer Starter: Father, lead me through the tedious preparation work of prayer and study, listening and watching, confessing and sharing; that I may be fully equipped, having mended my nets in preparation for great fishing. Amen.

Doulos Meditation on Galatians 3:29

Scripture: Galatians 3:29—And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to the promise.

Reflection: All who have accepted Jesus as Christ and Lord, are accounted by scripture to be children of Abraham. How important it was to Israelites to trace their lineage to Abraham!

Arabs as well claim Abraham as father through his son Ishmael. But physical descent from Abraham does not establish relationship with God. As John the Baptist wryly put it, “Do not presume to say to yourselves, “‘We have Abraham as our ancestor;’ for I tell you God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham.”

It was the blooming of Christianity on the stem of Judaism that produced the Abrahamic flower. The ultimate Jew, Paul says, is the one who, like Abraham, receives God’s promise by faith. The physical lineage merely foreshadowed the reality. “…and if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to the promise.” (Gal 3L28, 29)

“A person is a Jew, who is one inwardly, and real circumcision is a matter of the heart—it is spiritual and not literal. Such a person receives praise not from others but from God.” (Rom 2:29)

Prayer Starter: Father, thank you for the rich heritage that we as Christians have inherited from the Jewish race and faith. Show us the path to full acceptance of the promises you made to Abraham—make our faith like his that we may be the inward Jews you desire. Amen.
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Re: Doulos International ~ Robert Barkley

Post  Admin on Wed 04 Jan 2017, 11:51 pm

Doulos Meditation on Revelation 4:10
Scripture: Revelation 4:10…the twenty four elders fall before the one who is seated on the throne and worship the one who lives forever and ever; they cast their crowns before the throne singing, You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.”

Reflection: John Bunyan writes, “The presence of a king is dreadful to his subjects, even if he carries himself ever so condescendingly. If then there is so much glory and dread in the presence of a king, what fear and dread must there be in the presence of an eternal God!”

Koheleth (Ecclesiastes) wrote: “The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God, and keep his commandments.” And one of the Proverbs reads, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.” (1:7)

The fellow who has no fear of God—no respect and no honor—is not the brave individualist he pictures himself to be. He is the fool—the one afflicted with incurable blindness—disease of the heart that is invariably fatal.

Beneath his exterior bravado, he fears judgment, correction, death, failure, isolation and instruction. He fears his past and his future; his relationships and his sins; his failures and his family. The one who rebels against God has everything to fear and no consolation.

The person who fears God, on the other hand, has nothing else to fear. He can face life or death with no fear whatever, but steady trust in the maker of the universe.

Prayer Starter: Father, teach us how great and infinitely holy you are, that we might fear your judgments and respectfully obey your commands. We bow in awe in your presence. Amen.
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Re: Doulos International ~ Robert Barkley

Post  Admin on Tue 03 Jan 2017, 10:18 pm

Doulos Meditation on Matthew 4:9

Scripture: Matthew 4:9…and he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.”

Reflection: This is the most raw and vile of temptations—to worship Satan. I feel angry every time I read this verse. No subtlety—just the purest form of evil (if we can even use the word “pure” to speak of evil). Satan is always promising you something good—he always lies; Satan never has your welfare in mind.

Does serving Satan do anything good? “Note that what is evil is not the end—after all, as the Son of Psalm 2, Jesus will inherit the nations and possess the ends of the earth. The problem is the means, servitude to Satan.” (Matthew, ICC)

It’s like a mafia boss giving a gift to the church for the poor—while living off of immoral gains from extortion and murder. Ends and means rise or fall together. Jesus rejected good ends by way of evil means.

It never works—evil means cannot achieve noble results—that’s a deception in itself. The kingdoms of the world could never have been his, except by obedience to the Father. “…the end ordained by the Father is to be achieved by the manner ordained by the Father, namely the cross.

And any opposition to this is satanic. To reject the way of the cross is to be on the side of the devil” (ibid.) Jesus said, “Take up your cross and follow me…”

Prayer Starter: Father, we have been deceived so often by Satan—by his lies and accusations and his luring us with what looks good if we serve him. We need your help every day. Amen.
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Re: Doulos International ~ Robert Barkley

Post  Admin on Tue 03 Jan 2017, 12:34 am


Doulos Meditation on Obadiah 4

Scripture: Obadiah 4—Though you soar aloft like the eagle, though your nest is set among the stars, thence I will bring you down, says the LORD.

Reflection: The shortest book in the Old Testament is the prophecy of Obadiah whose name meant “servant of Yahweh.” Containing only 21 verses, it is a message condemning the small country of Edom for taking the side of Israel’s enemies when the enemies were attacking Israel.

The country of Edom lay east of the Dead Sea in what is now the country of Jordan. The city of Petra and other strongholds were cut into solid rock that seemed invincible. Upper levels could be reached only by rope ladder—somewhat like the Anasazi ruins in the four corners region of the US.

Many foreigners still visit Petra to see this remarkable city. Try searching for Petra—here’s one photo: http://www.iipt.org/worldpeacetravel/images/lost-city-petra-jordan-big.jpg

The Edomites trusted in their own strength, boasting of their unassailable cities. As Obadiah prophesied, God brought them down.

Edomites had mostly disappeared by Jesus’ time. Herod the Great was known as the Idumean (Edomite); a fellow of mixed blood who was hated by virtually everyone. After Herod, Edomites disappear from history. Their strongholds did not save them. Please read Obadiah—it will only take 5 minutes of your time.
Prayer Starter: Father, keep us from trusting any security that is of this world only. May we not rely on our own strength, but on you. Amen.


Doulos Meditation on Mark 2:15

Scripture: Mark 2:15—And as he sat at dinner in Levi’s house, many tax collectors and sinners were also sitting with Jesus and his disciples.

Reflection: Hardly any of us feel as strongly about the company we keep as did the Pharisees. People whom they classified as “sinners” were not welcome in their homes and they didn’t attend social gatherings with such people. I doubt there were any Pharisees present at Levi’s party. The tax collectors were introduced to Jesus by Levi (his other name was Matthew)—he was one of them. Who were the other “sinners?” I don’t know.

What I believe is that Jesus and his followers were inclusivists. This is the attitude humility produces—opening itself to others without setting requirements.

The exclusivists are those who evaluate, compare, and choose the company they will permit to have social interactions with them. They set standards for others. Anyone that does not qualify is simply excluded—not invited, not welcomed.

If forced to interact with sinners, the Pharisees patronized, flattered, criticized or castigated them as the situation permitted. I wonder which group more resembles Jesus’ behavior. Which group is effective in soul-winning? Which group is more characterized by humility, prayer, and gratitude? In which group are you? Are you and Jesus in the same group?

Prayer Starter: Father, just as your love was wide and inclusive, make us into the image of Jesus who gave his life for even those who rejected and hated him. In the name of Jesus, Amen.
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Re: Doulos International ~ Robert Barkley

Post  Admin on Sun 01 Jan 2017, 10:20 pm

I just wanted to weigh in with a greeting to all our readers. Here it is in the evening on December 31, 2016 and waiting for mid-night to come and bring in the new year. I hope you have had a joyous 2016 and are looking forward to the new year.

This has certainly been a year of uncertainty with the election and everything that went with it---but that's all over now so we can settle down to several years of peace and quiet (?) before it all begins again. We have certainly had our share of deaths and births this year.

But the continuity of life continues. God is still on his throne and in charge of all that is high and beyond our human comprehension. The path to real peace still leads through Jesus Christ, worship of God the Father, and the blessing of the Holy Spirit.

Aim at loving others more this year; at understanding them on a baser level and giving of yourself for their benefit. You will be blessed by it and rewarded with a peace that passes all understanding.

Please communicate with me this year about how we can serve other better, love others more, give glory to God in increasing measure and prepare ourselves for the time when we will be ushered into his presence.

Sincerely, Robert Barkley and a host of other conspirators who help to make this website great.
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Re: Doulos International ~ Robert Barkley

Post  Admin on Sat 31 Dec 2016, 11:54 pm


Doulos Meditation on 1 Corinthians 13 (#14 of 15)

#14 of 15 Meditations on 1 Co 13. Scripture: 1 Corinthians 13:12—For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall understand fully, even as I have been fully understood.

Reflection: Ancient mirrors were made of polished metal—copper, silver or brass. You could see your reflection, but you looked like your driver’s license picture—not very good. The colored metal made your reflection dim and irregularities in the surface distorted the image. Paul says humans do not see clearly.

Listen to the people you have coffee with—is there a clear, clean-cut understanding of politics, religion, society, government—or any other subject you can raise?

Can you sense a constant stream of contradictions, people claiming to know what they do not, misunderstandings, prejudices, axes to grind, and people who are clueless?

Knowledge derives from experience—but since we only know time and space we are limited—the supernatural is far beyond our comprehension. This passage speaks of the end of time—in eternity we will see things as they really are. That sounds exciting—clear vision at last!

On the other hand, we may be terrified of what we see.

Prayer Starter: Father, lead us to greater knowledge of your love and your purposes. Give us clearer understandings of your actions and the roles we play in your plans. When we begin to think too highly of ourselves or think we know it all, bring us down. But gently. Amen.

Doulos Meditation on 1 Corinthians 13 (#15 of 15)

#15 of 15 Meditations on 1 Co 13. Scripture: 1 Corinthians 13:13—So faith, hope, love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

Reflection: Faith is great and so is hope, but love is greater! Faith and hope are both creature-qualities—not God-qualities. They are natural complements to God’s gracious calling and the atoning sacrifice of Jesus. They are appropriate to the believer.

But love? Love is not what we generate and offer to God. Of course we love because he first loved us—but love is great because it characterizes God himself.

This is the divine quality that we experience in Christ---the greatest of God’s gifts. It is superior to all response-gifts like faith, hope, good deeds, worship, and the like. Love as the nature of God is everlasting—his nature is as eternal as his existence. It is unchanging—for it derives from the unchanging God.

Love is powerful—the very motive power of God—“For God so loved the world he gave his only begotten Son…”

Love is unconditional—God loves me when I’m not loveable. Love overflows—when we are filled with God’s love, among our beneficiaries are our neighbors, family, brothers and sisters in Christ, business associates, other races and cultures—and, oh yes, our enemies.

God is love. How could love not be the greatest of all gifts?

Prayer Starter: God of love, we bow in humility before your throne and thank you a thousand—a million times for loving us and through Jesus the Christ showing your love to all people for all time and throughout all eternity. Move us to tell others about your love. Thank you. Amen.
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Re: Doulos International ~ Robert Barkley

Post  Admin on Sat 31 Dec 2016, 12:05 am


Doulos Meditation on 1 Corinthians 13 (#12 of 15)

#12 of 15 Meditations on 1 Co 13. Scripture: 1 Corinthians 13:9—For our knowledge is imperfect and our prophecy is imperfect; but when the perfect comes, the imperfect will pass away.

Reflection: Imperfect means incomplete—not finished, not fully formed. It’s really difficult to think of many positive things in life that are finished.

I graduated, but I’ve never finished my education. I’ve traveled a little—but there are many places I haven’t seen. My kids are grown—but I know they are not finished.

This passage speaks of the heavenly life. There completeness can be found. The incomplete things of earth—knowledge, tongues, and prophecy are all good things, but they suffer from the characteristic incompleteness of earth.

In God’s presence all partial and temporary things will simply not be needed any longer. What does this have to do with love? Think with me—will there ever be a time when the very nature of God will be superseded by something more complete so that it can be dropped? We’re coming to the climatic point of this love chapter and Paul is setting the stage at this point.

Prayer Starter: Father, we live in an incomplete world but we desire the fruit of your Spirit who plants your love in us which will not be discarded or lost even in eternity. Amen.

Doulos Meditation on 1 Corinthians 13 (#13 of 15)

#13 of 15 Meditations on 1 Co 13. Scripture: 1 Corinthians 13:11—When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became a man, I gave up childish ways.


Reflection: The Corinthians were focused on things like tongues and prophecy (good things coming from a good God), but their perspectives were immature—they longed for supernatural gifts; arguing and boasting about them, but they were not fully experiencing the love that could have been theirs.

In fact, their childish view of these gifts was keeping them from seeing something larger and more important.


A little child lives in his own small world. Things important at age 3 will be seen differently at age 18.

Paul is trying to show the Corinthians a bigger world—the real one in fact—where God’s love is the core reality of the universe. Without love, tongues and prophecies accomplished nothing but occasioned arguing and boasting. Even good things from God can become useless if we elevate them until they assume a fraudulent life of their own.

The Corinthians suffered from myopia—short sightedness. The gifts were right there in their assembly—they reveled in their new spiritual experiences. But these gifts could never replace the dynamic of love that flows from the nature of God. Without love, gifts are useless—exciting and strange—but worthless.

Prayer Starter: Father, thank you for every gift you give through the power and presence of your Holy Spirit; but mature us in love so that we will have your perspective about what is important and what is less. Shed your love abroad through us. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
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Re: Doulos International ~ Robert Barkley

Post  Admin on Wed 28 Dec 2016, 11:29 pm

Doulos Meditation on 1 Corinthians 13 (#11 of 15)

#11 of 15 Meditations on 1 Co 13. Scripture: 1 Corinthians 13:8—Love never ends… prophecies… tongues… knowledge… it will pass away.

Reflection: Christians differ in their understandings about the gifts of the Holy Spirit. The “love chapter” of the bible is about the Spirit’s most important gift of all—the love of God. Have you heard people argue about tongues or prophecy and because of their attitude began to wonder if they were perhaps lacking the greatest gift of all?

We cannot know all the Spirit does and we need to be very slow to presume we understand someone else’s interactions with the Spirit. But it is plain enough that love is the great gift.

It is implanted in every believer—it is not temporary and it works in this life and in heaven itself. Love is the eternal nature of the eternal God.

In Paul’s time, tongues and prophecies seem to be special purpose tools that testify to the power of God and the authenticity of the gospel message. And while the Spirit gives special purpose tools to whomever he chooses, He gives the greatest gift to every believer—the gift of God’s own nature.

This gift of love always accompanies eternal life and is suitable for all occasions and all places. Like tongues and prophecy, love also is evidence of God’s presence and power.

Jesus pointed to love as evidentiary: “By this they will know that you are my disciples if you love one another.”

Prayer Starter: Our Father, we are grateful that you are a loving and giving God. We are grateful for every blessing that comes from your hand and we recognize that your gift of love makes all other gifts meaningful. We love you, Lord, but we know that you first loved us. Amen.
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Re: Doulos International ~ Robert Barkley

Post  Admin on Tue 27 Dec 2016, 6:33 pm


Doulos Meditation on 1 Corinthians 13 (#10 of 15)

#10 of 15 Meditations on 1 Co 13. Scripture: 1 Corinthians 13:7—Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things.

Reflection: The best way to see this verse is to invert the statement: “A love free life bears nothing, believes nothing, has no hope and endures nothing.” How would you like to be around someone like that?

(1) A person unwilling to bear any pain, responsibility, or carry any load for another—who only serves himself.

(2) A person who trusts no one. No matter what he’s told, who tells it, or what the evidence is, he takes no risks but self protects and guards his gold and turf. Friendships cannot survive his skepticism.

(3) A person with no hope. It’s hope that makes the movie thriller thrilling! The hero in trouble still has hope. If the hero is doomed and there is no hope—it makes for a dull movie—and a dull life.

(4) A person who endures nothing. When work, sweat, thinking, patience, or holding on are required, he vanishes.

Love alone can deliver us and God alone is the source of such love. Only the Holy Spirit can work God’s love in our lives and without his presence our lives are without meaning and we are useless to God. That’s what chapter 13 is about—it’s more than filler to separate 12 and 14.

Prayer Starter: Father, we hardly see what these phrases are about until we imagine a world where there is no love. Fill us with your Spirit that we may share your love with those who do not yet know you. Amen.
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Re: Doulos International ~ Robert Barkley

Post  Admin on Mon 26 Dec 2016, 12:06 am

Doulos Meditation on 1 Corinthians 13 (#8 of 15)

#8 of 15 Meditations on 1 Co 13. Scripture: 1 Corinthians 13:5…it is not irritable or resentful…

Reflection: I sometimes get irritated and resentful. Do you? It’s a condition easy to acquire and difficult to overcome. It harms inner peace and outer relationships. Remaining calm and laid back is characteristic of heroes—strong people not frustrated by small irritations. They fight great battles but only for great causes; they do not get bent over every little obstacle.

Jack (a retired pastor) lives near the gulf coast and loves fishing. He’s an expert in fact! My long time fishing partner Roy and I went with Jack fishing in the bay a few years back.

Roy drew back his rod to cast and accidentally set his hook in Jack’s hand. Aside from the fact that Jack would probably not be very good bait, it pained me to see Jack with a fishhook in his hand. Jack was not irritated or resentful. He didn’t say a word—no verbal explosions or cursing.

He moved with deliberation to get his pliers from his tackle box. He pushed the hook on through the flesh (ouch!) until the barb protruded and he could snip it off and remove the hook.

Roy was apologizing profusely; I was sympathetic, thinking what it must feel like to be in Jack’s place, but it was Jack who was the hero—calm, not irritated—not one time betraying any bad feeling toward Roy. I wonder how irritated I would have been if it were my hand that got hooked.

Prayer Starter: Our God, living for you is our whole purpose. Mature us in your love and grow in us the qualities of heroes—the calm, laid back day
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Re: Doulos International ~ Robert Barkley

Post  Admin on Sun 25 Dec 2016, 12:36 am

Doulos Meditation on 1 Corinthians 13 (#7 of 15)

#7 of 15 Meditations on 1 Co 13. Scripture: 1 Corinthians 13:5—Love does not insist on its own way…

Reflection: The headquarters of sin is the soul—the inner part that wants, thinks, and feels (will, intellect, emotion). Of these three directors, the Chairman of the Board is the will—what I want. Original sin was generated by the will—Eve saw “the tree that it was good for food (I want something to eat), and that it was a delight to the eyes (I see something I want), and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise (I want to get in on this knowing good and evil like God does)—she took of its fruit and ate…” (Gen 3:6)

Because of what our ancestors wanted, sin came to have dominion over all flesh. Not a good thing!

Would Paul attribute this failure to a lack of love? Did our ancestors fail to love God?—had they done so, do you think they would have insisted on doing what God had forbidden?

They wanted, they acted, and they sinned! Now name me a church problem, an argument, an estrangement, someone who left the church, an ugly word, loss of effectiveness, unfairness, injustice, employee abuse—anything that corrupts church and society—that is not directly or indirectly connected with someone insisting on his own way!

Paul says real love doesn’t! Is the number of people who love smaller than the number who claim to be Christians?

Prayer Starter: Father, grant us ample wisdom and love—wisdom to see our own real motives in all we do—and love so we can choose rightly when not to insist on our own way. Amen.
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Re: Doulos International ~ Robert Barkley

Post  Admin on Fri 23 Dec 2016, 11:38 pm

Doulos Meditation on 1 Corinthians 13 (#6 of 15)

#6 of 15 Meditations on 1 Co 13. Scripture: 1 Corinthians 13:5—It is not arrogant or rude.

Reflection: Two more correlatives—arrogance and rudeness. I love teenagers, so I’m not at all putting them down. But do you find it difficult to talk to some teenagers because of their arrogance?

This is not throwing stones—I am still repenting some of the stupid things I said as a teenager! These are young people who do not yet know that they know nothing—that their strength is their weakness—that their bravery is bravado—that their parents are not stupid—that operating out of the loveless ego is the sure way to failure—that persistence in this path renders them useless to God and society.

Rudeness follows arrogance. You see it in comments on blogs and chat rooms. Teachers face it in the classroom. Parents don’t know what to do.

If you’re arrogant and rude, let me make a suggestion. Try interacting with people at school or work for one hour without (a) showing any evidence that you are better, smarter, or more capable than the person you are talking to, and (b) exercise deliberate respect and good manners to someone.

You may be amazed what God can do through you. Do this daily and begin to pray that God’s Spirit lead you—the undreamed of may happen. You will be happier and your life will be richer in every way. Begin today.
Prayer Starter: Father, forgive us of arrogance and rudeness. Open our eyes to see their source and the damage they do to your purposes. Fill us with humility and respectful love. Amen.
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Re: Doulos International ~ Robert Barkley

Post  Admin on Thu 22 Dec 2016, 11:12 pm

Doulos Meditation on 1 Corinthians 13 (#4 of 15)

#4 of 15 Meditations on 1 Co 13. Scripture: 1 Corinthians 13:4:--Love is patient and kind…

Reflection: Let’s see—if love comes from God, where does impatience come from? Fathers are at times impatient with sons (“Get your stuff and get out. If you’re old enough to do that you’re old enough to do without my help,”) children with parents (“Mom, just leave me alone—you’ll never understand!”), religious nit-pickers with almost everyone (“You’re going to hell if you don’t change—that’s a false doctrine if there ever were one,”) and political spin doctors (“The democrats/republicans are to blame for that. You can’t trust what’s-his-name.”)

Let’s bottom-line impatience: it comes from an unloving ego—an arrogant, self-serving, greedy, jealous, self righteous heart that sees your faults but is blind to its own.

Impatience is loveless—that’s the problem. I am impatient when I don’t get my way—my rightness is not recognized—my rights are infringed upon. Love is an unfailing mark of the authentic Christian, coming from God’s Spirit. It is the invariable birthmark of the new birth.

Do you know church leaders who are not patient? Have you seen someone claiming to be a Christian who is demanding, cruel, imposing his will on others, parading his righteousness at the expense of someone else’s humiliation?

Pray for discernment. The same Spirit that brings you love will give you insight into who is serving God and who is serving self. Patience and Kindness are unfailing clues.

Prayer Starter: Father, live in us and transform our hearts to be like your heart. You’ve been patient with us—make us patient and kind to others. Amen.

Doulos Meditation on 1 Corinthians 13 (#5 of 15)

#5 of 15 Meditations on 1 Co 13. Scripture: 1 Corinthians 13:4…love is not jealous or boastful…

Reflection: Several of Paul’s two-word verbal units are correlatives—that is, where you find one you will certainly find the other! How about jealousy and boasting?

The same internal personality dynamic is at work in each: if I am losing, or merely being outperformed by another, then jealousy dominates. It is tied intimately with boasting—if I am winning or showing up someone then boasting happens.

You can be sure that a jealous person will boast when conditions change and a boastful person will be jealous if others succeed. People sometimes use good manners to cover up their jealousy—it even happens in religious discussions.

We have two new behaviors (jealousy, boasting) but the same root cause: the missing ingredient is the Holy Spirit caused love in the heart. Just as impatience and unkindness are caused by the absence of love, so are jealousy and boasting.

Paul wrote, “As many as are led by the Spirit are children of God.” We could logically add, “And those who are not, are not.” Do you want authenticity in your Christian life? Then quit reading books about how to conquer impatience, jealousy or boasting. These are only symptoms.

Tackle the root of the problem—with deliberate humility get on your knees and stay there. Confess your sins and failures and ask that the Spirit transform your inner self with God’s love. God will do it.

Prayer Starter: Father, expose our self centered behavior—especially those things that come from the ego that knows no love—the heart in which the Holy Spirit does not work. Amen.
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Re: Doulos International ~ Robert Barkley

Post  Admin on Tue 20 Dec 2016, 11:34 pm

Doulos Meditation on 1 Corinthians 13 (#2 of 15)

#2 of 15 Meditations on 1 Co 13. Scripture: 1 Corinthians 13:2—And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.

Reflection: The Corinthian church was obsessed with powers given by the Spirit—in addition to tongues speaking (vs. 1) he cites prophecy, knowledge, and faith (note 12:8-11.) This is almost certainly a condensed list—God’s Spirit empowers many more than these; but these were flashy things they could argue about. Paul is not disparaging these gifts.

But he is insisting that the supreme gift is not ability but a heart transformation.

Chapter 12 deals with spiritual gifts—so does chapter 14.

Question: Why does chapter 13 come between 12 and 14? (Yes, I know what you’re thinking!) Has Paul drifted from the subject of 12, then regained himself in 14? No way!

Chap 13 concerns the Spirit’s greatest gift—the love of God. That involves heart-transformation and that’s what makes every other gift of value. “…God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.” (Rom 5:5) The absence of love destroys the value of all other gifts. Has God gifted you with looks, money, power, brains, talent, experience, opportunity and more? If you don’t have the Spirit transforming your heart with God’s love, what have you that is not in the long run worthless?

Prayer Starter: Father, we praise you for every gift; but guard us from the fatal danger of valuing the gift more than we love the giver. How great is the gift of your presence in us with its transforming quality of divine love. Thank you. Amen.

Doulos Meditation on 1 Corinthians 13 (#3 of 15)

#3 of 15 Meditations on 1 Co 13. Scripture: 1 Corinthians 13:3—If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love I gain nothing.


Reflection: In the landscape of Christian religion there are those who work hard because they believe their actions put them right before God. Hear me clearly—the Christian has work and works to do—God never calls a person to himself without commissioning him for a lifetime of obedience and service.

But are such things a means to an end—done in order to be right with God? Is our religion what we do for God—or what God is doing through us?

If I do not have God’s Spirit in me producing the God-love that marks the authentic Christian, will my gifts and sacrifices achieve anything before God? If I perform spectacular feats of strength, intelligence, or heroism—will those gain me eternal life?

As artifacts flowing out of me and caused by God’s Spirit and characterized by his love, they are a monument before God. But trying hard to produce these things out of my own self will only give relatives something they can inscribe on my tombstone and inscriptions on tombs don’t impress God.

Prayer Starter: Father, keep us from the terrible misunderstanding that says we have no law or work to do as Christians—but also from the misunderstanding that by law or works we can place ourselves in good stead before you. We surrender our lives to you and ask that you do in us what you want done—exactly, fully, happily, purposefully and eternally. Amen.
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Re: Doulos International ~ Robert Barkley

Post  Admin on Sun 18 Dec 2016, 5:28 pm

Doulos Meditation on 1 Corinthians 13 (#1 of 15)

#1 of 15 Meditations on 1 Co 13. Scripture: 1 Corinthians 1:1—If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.


Reflection: Two kinds of experts cannot communicate. The first is the person who knows well some area of learning—owns a doctoral degree from MIT or Harvard and has spent a lifetime in a laboratory discovering new drugs or designing new cars. But his writing is klutzy—wooden, stilted and obscure. Reading his paper is the dullest chore a student was ever assigned.

The other expert is the slickest car salesman on the strip. (Apologies to all car salesmen) He knows the words and how to close. He can sell refrigerators to Polar bears.

But he hasn’t a clue about the meaning of life. Living a hollow life, he manipulates, hoards, deceives. The first has content, the second has skill. Neither can speak to your heart. Paul is describing this second guy in our passage—the eloquent preacher with no faith—the con man after your money.

But no genuine love of God is in him. He is an empty shell, a noisy gong, a clanging cymbal. Society is full of people talking—but few have anything of value to say. But if I fail, I would rather have God’s love and be tongue tied than to speak golden words and have nothing inside.

Prayer Starter: Father, fill us with your love and make our lives rich and full so that we don’t become mere ghosts making noises, or empty wells or whitewashed tombs. Amen. Doulos Meditation on 1 Corinthians 13 (#1 of 15)

#1 of 15 Meditations on 1 Co 13. Scripture: 1 Corinthians 1:1—If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.


Reflection: Two kinds of experts cannot communicate. The first is the person who knows well some area of learning—owns a doctoral degree from MIT or Harvard and has spent a lifetime in a laboratory discovering new drugs or designing new cars. But his writing is klutzy—wooden, stilted and obscure. Reading his paper is the dullest chore a student was ever assigned.

The other expert is the slickest car salesman on the strip. (Apologies to all car salesmen) He knows the words and how to close. He can sell refrigerators to Polar bears.

But he hasn’t a clue about the meaning of life. Living a hollow life, he manipulates, hoards, deceives. The first has content, the second has skill. Neither can speak to your heart. Paul is describing this second guy in our passage—the eloquent preacher with no faith—the con man after your money.

But no genuine love of God is in him. He is an empty shell, a noisy gong, a clanging cymbal. Society is full of people talking—but few have anything of value to say. But if I fail, I would rather have God’s love and be tongue tied than to speak golden words and have nothing inside.

Prayer Starter: Father, fill us with your love and make our lives rich and full so that we don’t become mere ghosts making noises, or empty wells or whitewashed tombs. Amen.
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Re: Doulos International ~ Robert Barkley

Post  Admin on Fri 16 Dec 2016, 11:49 pm

Doulos Meditation on Hebrews 6:19

Scripture: Hebrews 6:19—We have this hope, a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters the inner shrine behind the curtain, where Jesus…has entered…

Reflection: Do you have hope?—not the little wishes we make--“I hope it rains today”—“I hope to graduate this next fall”—“I hope she can find a new boyfriend.”

The bible speaks of hope of the soul as a transcendent anchor—something that keeps your soul from drifting. Have you ever seen one of those giant anchors in a large naval ship? They are massive and are raised and lowered by chains bigger than your leg in diameter.

The Hebrews writer says our hope is anchored beyond the curtain—in the symbolism of this book he means in heaven itself—the place where Jesus went of which the “holy of holies” in the temple was only the shadow.

A soul adrift is a pitiable sight—a person with no goals or friends, who quests endless among drugs, sex and food for happiness, who lives daily with no plan, who works for money to spend on self but is never happy with his possessions—who is discouraged and discouraging; with a heart full of suspicion, jealousy, resentment and fear.

But the soul of the believer is provided with an anchor that never fails.

Prayer Starter: Our God, give us hope that transcends our mortality, our sin and weakness, and our finiteness—and set that anchor firmly in the inner shrine where you live. Amen.
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Re: Doulos International ~ Robert Barkley

Post  Admin on Thu 15 Dec 2016, 11:33 pm

Doulos Meditation on Zechariah 8:23

Scripture: Zechariah 8:23—Thus says the LORD of hosts: In those days, ten men from nations of every language shall take hold of a Jew, grasping his garment and saying, “Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.”


Reflection: Two thoughts come to my mind. First, what God did by calling Abraham and making of him a great nation is astounding. He probably began life as a pagan worshiping the gods of the Chaldeans. But through his faith in God he left idolatry and became the great forerunner of the Jewish people, and the spiritual ancestor of all who follow Jesus.

The Jewish people were blessed greatly by God in their calling, their revelations of truth, their scriptures, and their lineage through which Jesus came. Blessed indeed! Like all God’s children they often rejected God’s direction—but that does not negate their blessed calling.

Second, I want to call your attention to the psychological principle in the passage. People love to join the winner. “Let us go with you” is how all truly successful missions are accomplished.

Instead of sitting and waiting for God to activate your life, try launching out in faith. I’ve noticed that when we go and do what God directs and pursue it tenaciously, people and resources appear where we thought there were none. We’ve experienced this for a fact. Every move we make in mission results in someone saying “Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.”

Prayer Starter: Father, lead us to do your will without worrying about what others are doing. Free us from the slavery of peer pressure, majority opinions, and committee meetings. Amen.

Doulos Meditation on Philippians 2:14

Scripture: Philippians 2: 14—Do all things without murmuring and arguing…

Reflection: What’s a synonym for murmuring? We don’t use that word much—but what would we use? How about complaining?

Lately, I’ve noticed many (not all) of the early morning coffee drinking world (you know—those old codgers who gather like a swarm of bees in the corner of some fast food place that serves senior citizen coffee for cheap)—have little to say about beauty, love, happiness, faith in God, hope, education, world peace, science, or travel.

But they expound endlessly on taxes, elections, potholes in the streets, zoning ordinances, city council meetings, who’s running around on his wife, traffic tickets, and inefficiency of local officials.

Is it my age or deteriorating outlook? Complaining and arguing seem to be major industries.


Is complaining an addiction? Is arguing? Are they related? I am rather adept at spotting these addictions on the internet—even in short phrases—like “he’s generally okay, but…” or “that’s a big church, but…” or “those people think they are Christians, but…” My new “Law of CA Addiction” reads: the real world view of the Complaining Addict comes after the but. Everything before that is just a set up for his pronouncement of judgment on others.

Prayer Starter: Father, deliver us from every addiction, especially the socially acceptable ones like complaining and arguing. Help us think what Jesus would say if he drank coffee. Amen.
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Re: Doulos International ~ Robert Barkley

Post  Admin on Tue 13 Dec 2016, 10:57 pm

Doulos Meditation on Salt (#10 of 10)

#10 of 10 Meditations on Salt. Scripture: Genesis 19:24-26—Then the Lord rained on Sodom and Gomorrah sulfur and fire from the LORD and he overthrew those cities…and what grew on the ground. But Lot’s wife, behind him, looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.

Reflection: In preparing to visit the Holy Land many years ago, I read from an old 19th century book the experiences of a man who pre-dated the automobile or the internet.

He wrote, “A few miles south of Masada is Jebel Usdum—mountain of Sodom—or Khasum Usdum, a word signifying cartilage of the nose: a ridge very uneven and rugged, varying from one hundred to one hundred and fifty feet in height, the main body being a solid mass of rock-salt…of a greenish color…portions of the salt cliff are constantly splitting off…the debris at the base is too loose to permit of any climbing…no regular plateau on the top, but, instead, a forest of little peaks…forming impassable gulfs from one to the other.

Is it not probable that some one of these pinnacles has been taken for the pillar of salt...Josephus asserts that the pillar existed in his day, and that he himself had seen it…even modern travelers have fancied that they discovered the peak which represented that miraculous pillar.

I suspect the existence of this astonishing ridge of rock-salt, with its pinnacles, some of which are over one hundred feet high, has led to the conclusion…that Sodom…was situated in this neighborhood…” (Wm McClure Thomson, The Land and the Book, 1880)

Prayer Starter: Lord, thank you for the stories in Genesis preserved for us as though packed in salt for our learning and edification. Expand our understanding of those ancient people who lived in the salt land beside the Salt Sea. In Jesus name, Amen.
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