Matthew 18:20 “Where two or three are assembled in my name, I am there among them.”
Christians regularly appeal to this saying in order to reassure themselves that, no matter how few their numbers when they gather for public worship or for prayer, Jesus himself will be present.
Matthew Henry: ‘Every believer has the presence of Christ with him; but the promise here refers to the meetings where two or three are gathered in his name, not only for discipline, but for religious worship, or any act of Christian communion.’
Ryle: ‘There is comfort in these words for all who love to meet together for religious purposes.…
The exhortation to “abide” has been frequently misunderstood, as though it were a special, mystical, and indefinable experience. But Jesus makes clear that it actually involves a number of concrete realities.
First, union with our Lord depends on His grace. Of course we are actively and personally united to Christ by faith (John 14:12). But faith itself is rooted in the activity of God.…
From Paul Tautges (summarising part of Resisting Gossip, by Matt Mitchell):
#1: The Spy – In Proverbs 11:13, the Hebrew word translated “gossip” means “‘a peddler (of secrets), a huckster/hawker, deceiver, or spy.’ The English Standard Version uses the phrase ‘whoever goes about slandering’….We might use the word ‘informer’….Spies know how to wheedle a story out of us.”
#2: The Grumbler – Another Hebrew word commonly translated “gossip” refers to a whisperer. The Hebrew dictionaries say that this “is one who is ‘murmuring about another person behind their back rather than openly complaining about their behavior.’”
#3: The Backstabber – “Backstabbing gossip overflows from a heart bent on revenge, retaliation and real malice.…
Tim Challies has helpfully drawn together some ways in which the Bible can guide our prayers for unbelievers.
Here’s a summary:-
1. Praying for them
We begin with prayers for salvation. Each of these prayers seeks the same thing, but in a different way or from a different angle or using different language. Each of them is grounded in a specific text of Scripture.
‘Pray that God would circumcise their hearts,‘ Deut 30:6.
‘Pray that God would give them a heart of flesh,‘ Ezekiel 11:19.…
eternal purpose – we have been ‘predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son’ (Romans 8:29).
historical purpose – ‘we…are being transformed [or changed] into his image’ (2 Corinthians 3:18).
eschatological purpose – ‘we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him’ (1 John 3:2).
Here, then, are three perspectives: past (we have been predestined), present (we are being changed), and future (we shall be like him), which all point to the same thing: that God wants us to be like Christ.…
[This is a repost of something I wrote in February 2008. It kept attracting spam comments, so let’s see if re-locating it throws the spammers off the trail.]
Many psychologists emphasise the healing power of forgiveness. Professor Aaron Lazare, Dean of the University of Massachusetts medical school, however, has written a book called On Apology. As reported at the time in The Independent, 28/12/04, Lazare says that saying sorry has the power ‘to heal humiliations, free the mind from deep-seated guilt, remove the desire for vengeance, and restore broken relationships.…
How should the Greek word makarios be translated in the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3ff)? It is tempting to use the more contemporary word ‘happy’. But (writes Scott McKnight), this is problematic:-
While recognising the measure of truth found in the thoughts noted above, we should note that the quest for happiness is both good and inevitable. The question then becomes, ‘In what (on in whom) do I find my happiness?’; and, ‘How shall I find it?’ Shall we seek it in the created things, or in the Creator?…