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December 22

GOOD CHRISTIAN MEN, REJOICE

Latin carol, 14th century

Translation by John M. Neale, 1818–1866

Shout for joy, O heavens; rejoice, O earth; burst into song, O mountains! For the Lord comforts His people and will have compassion on His afflicted ones. (Isaiah 49:13)

As this sprightly carol reminds us, Christmas should be the most joyous season of the year for all true Christians. Our lives should be filled with gratitude to God for the immeasurable love shown to us in the gift of His Son. Out of joyous hearts we should be exuberant in “heart and soul and voice!” This ancient hymn uses frequent repetition to impress upon us that the birth of Christ won for us “endless bliss” by opening the way to heaven and conquering our fear of death through His assurance of eternal life.

The festive spirit of Christmas, however, should not fade away as the holiday passes. The joy and peace that Christ brings to our lives should enable us to be continually rejoicing Christians, regardless of the circumstances. The blessings that came to us on Christmas morn have illuminated our lives forever!

“Good Christian Men, Rejoice” is an unusual combination of 14th century Latin phrases and vernacular German expressions. The original Latin text was titled “In Dulci Jubilo,” meaning “in sweet shouting.” Over the years German people added their own wording, making this a “macaronic carol”—one that combines two or more languages. The carol was later given a free rendering English translation by John M. Neale, the noted 19th century scholar and translator of ancient hymns. It first appeared in Neale’s Carols for Christmastide in 1853.

Good Christian men, rejoice with heart and soul and voice; give ye heed to what we say: News! news! Jesus Christ is born today! Ox and ass before Him bow, and He is in the manger now: Christ is born today! Christ is born today!

Good Christian men, rejoice with heart and soul and voice; now ye hear of endless bliss: Joy! joy! Jesus Christ was born for this! He has opened heaven’s door, and man is blessed evermore: Christ was born for this! Christ was born for this!

Good Christian men, rejoice with heart and soul and voice; now ye need not fear the grave: Peace! peace! Jesus Christ was born to save! Calls you one and calls you all to gain His everlasting hall: Christ was born to save! Christ was born to save!

For Today: Isaiah 40:1–11; Luke 1:77–79; Luke 2:10–20; Ephesians 1:3–12

Determine by God’s help to maintain the joy of Christmas in your life. Seek to minister an encouraging word to some lonely person. Share this musical message—[1]


December 22: A False Form of Righteousness

Jeremiah 42:1–43:13; Romans 9:30–10:21; Proverbs 24:23–34

Zeal can be treacherous if it’s misplaced. It may lead us to set and strictly follow standards that have nothing to do with God’s work—standards that make us feel like good people but that can devastate our lives and the lives of others.

Paul addresses the misplaced zeal of many Jewish people in his letter to the Roman church: “Brothers, the desire of my heart and my prayer to God on behalf of them is for their salvation. For I testify about them that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For ignoring the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes” (Rom 10:1–4).

Many Jewish people who had rejected the Messiah were attempting to make themselves right with God by keeping the ot law. In doing so, they missed God by seeking their own righteousness. Paul tells the Romans that these Jewish people ignored the “righteousness of God”—God’s work of salvation in Jesus Christ. It’s only by submitting to God that they could be “right with God” through Jesus Christ.

This lesson isn’t applicable only to the Jewish people and their relationship to the law. Jesus restored relationship with God when we couldn’t. We only have to believe in Him. Yet a dangerous zeal can still trip us up. If we rest in anything except Christ’s work and try to reach God by being good people, we are sure to miss Him. And in the process, we can become stumbling blocks in the lives of others.

Are you trying to attain righteousness through your own effort? How does your life reflect humility because of Christ’s work in you? How can you lovingly point others toward the righteousness of God, found only through His son, Jesus Christ?

What are you trying to attain? How can you focus your hope and the hope of others on Christ and the righteousness He has attained for you?

Rebecca Van Noord[2]


December 22

Intro

Welcome to Daily Treasures from the Word of God. Today’s reading is Luke 5 through 8. Our lesson is from Luke 7:22, “And He answered and said to them, ‘Go and report to John what you have seen and heard: [the] blind receive sight, [the] lame walk, [the] lepers are cleansed, and [the] deaf hear, [the] dead are raised up, [the] poor have the gospel preached to them.’ ” (NASU)

Lesson

John the Baptist is a leader who is the hinge between the Old and New Testaments. He was called the greatest of men born from a woman yet the least in the kingdom of God is greater than John. Let’s look at three presuppositions from our text.

First, Jesus told John’s disciples to return to John. In our analysis, we need to make sure that we do not think that there was competition between John and Jesus. Let’s not forget that John submitted totally to Jesus. He was humble and admitted that Jesus needed to grow while he needed to decrease. What a great example of a servant leader!

Next, Jesus told John’s disciples to tell John what they had seen. Signs and wonders are an integral part of the advancement of the kingdom of God. It was a reality in the life and ministry of Jesus also with the disciples in the Book of Acts.

There are many modern day examples of how signs and wonders continue to operate in many parts of the world. There are documented testimonies of people being healed in the name of Jesus. Just like John’s disciples, the church must continue to tell others what they have seen. We are called to be witnesses of God’s actions in our contexts.

Last, Jesus told John’s disciples to tell John that the gospel was preached to the poor. Jesus quoted from the prophet Isaiah. The poor has to do with those in need. It can mean those who have little or no finances but also those who have wealth yet are in great spiritual need.

An emphasis of the Gospel of Luke has to do with the marginalized. Luke wants to communicate that Jesus is able to meet the needs of those who come to him. The lepers, blind and others were considered unclean in the eyes of the people. However, Jesus provided healing and a place of dignity for them.

In conclusion, Jesus told John’s disciples to return to John. Jesus told John’s disciples to tell what they had seen. And Jesus told John’s disciples to tell John that the gospel was preached to the poor.

Take a moment to reflect on the persons that you are in daily contact. Do they know Christ? If not, pray that you be God’s witness. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you in demonstrating God’s love. Let’s continue Jesus’ mission in our world.

End

It has been a pleasure to share with you Daily Treasures from the Word of God. Tomorrow’s Bible reading is Luke 13 through 16. Let’s not forget the words of the psalmist, “The law of Your mouth is better to me than thousands of gold and silver pieces.” Until tomorrow and may God bless you in abundance as you study the Word of God.[3]


 

December 22

 

Confirmation from God

 

“How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? After it was at the first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard, God also bearing witness with them, both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will” (Heb. 2:3–4).

✧✧✧

God confirmed the truth of the gospel preached through Christ with many miracles.

When Jesus preached the gospel, He performed miracles that made what He said believable. He said, “Though you do not believe Me, believe the works” (John 10:38). Jesus claimed to be from God, then made it obvious He really was from God.

Nicodemus came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “No one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him” (John 3:2). Jesus confirmed His ministry by His own miracles. Peter reiterated that fact on the day of Pentecost: “Jesus the Nazarene [was] a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs” (Acts 2:22).

God also gave these same confirming signs to His second generation of preachers—the apostles, so no one could dispute the validity of their message. What the apostles said was not their own opinion; it was divine truth substantiated by signs, wonders, and miracles.

Signs, wonders, and miracles are synonyms referring to all the supernatural things the apostles did. But the apostles also confirmed the Word with “gifts of the Holy Spirit.” That’s a reference to the temporary sign gifts described in Scripture, such as tongues and healings, not to the permanent edifying gifts given to the church for all time.

Today God attests to the gospel with the miracle of His written Word. Let it not be said that you neglected Jesus Christ. History confirms that hours of neglect cost Napoleon Waterloo. Neglecting Christ’s salvation will cost you eternal blessing and joy and will bring you damnation. Don’t allow yourself to drift past God’s grace.

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer: Thank God for His Word and that through it you have all the truth you need to communicate the gospel.

For Further Study: Read Acts 5–19, and list all the miracles performed by the apostles to confirm the gospel.[4]


December 22

Contentment

I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound.

Philippians 4:11–12

paul said that he learned to be content regardless of his circumstances—in whatever state he was in. Paul was not content with troubles, trials, suffering, pain, or need. He felt pain and need just as much as any other person. But he learned to be content in times of difficulty. His internal state was one of contentment even when his outward state was one of turmoil, trial, or trouble.…

His contentment was in Christ—not in things or in circumstances. His contentment lay in his relationship with the Need Meeter, not in the fact that his needs were met momentarily.[5]


December 22

Beginning a New Adventure

Scripture reading: Isaiah 60:1–3

Key verse: Psalm 31:3

For You are my rock and my fortress; Therefore, for Your name’s sake, Lead me and guide me.

Remember the last time you began a new adventure? Maybe it was to visit a faraway city or to fulfill a desire you longed to achieve, such as riding horses, learning how to play tennis, writing poetry, studying watercolor painting, or climbing mountains. How did it feel to approach a new beginning? Was there a twinge of hopeful anticipation present?

The feelings can be quite different when sorrow is involved. The disappointment that comes from the loss of a job, the grief of betrayal, or the shock of a friend’s rejection can leave you feeling hopeless. God wants you to know whatever your situation, He is aware of it. He knows painful circumstances can leave you wondering if you will ever enjoy a sense of hope again.

Before he became president of the United States, Abraham Lincoln was defeated for public office four times in twelve years. The last public office he held before being elected to the nation’s highest office was a seat in the U.S. Congress in 1846. It was not until 1860 that he was elected president.

Lincoln dared to believe in the impossible. He refused to give up. God is your constant Source of encouragement. His strength is released in your life when you make a conscious decision not to give up but to continue in faith. If there is darkness, pray for His light to rest over your life, guiding you into a new season of hope and revival.

Dear heavenly Father, let Your light rest over my life, guiding me into a new season of hope and revival. I am ready to begin a new adventure with You![6]


December 22

No Other Name

There is no other name under heaven.

Acts 4:12

The angel that appeared to Joseph emphasized the meaning of Jesus’ name: “She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for it is He who will save His people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21). Jesus, from the Hebrew Joshua, or Jehoshua, means “Jehovah will save.” The name itself was a testimony to God’s salvation. But, the angel told Joseph, Mary’s Son would be the very embodiment of Jehovah’s salvation. He Himself would save His people from their sins.

After Jesus’ resurrection, Peter, speaking before the Sanhedrin, also emphasized the importance of Jesus’ name: “There is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).[7]


December 22          The Reigning Lord

scripture reading:

 

Philippians 2:5–11

 

key verse:

 

Luke 2:11

 

There is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

Some people just cannot seem to get excited about Jesus Christ. Perhaps they have lost sight of who He was and what He did for us. Perhaps they have never known.

Jesus is the Son of God—our reigning Lord. He was that before time began, and He will be that at time’s ending. He was in the Garden with Adam. His heart received sin’s first blow.

Throughout time He watched His people struggle. He led them through the desert and longed for them to worship only Him. When Israel was blocked in on every side, He made a way through the wilderness. Still, they forgot Him and worshiped other gods.

Year after year, Jesus watched and prayed from heaven’s doorway. When the longing to save and redeem His people grew to an overwhelming portion, He came to us.

However, the people of His day wanted a military leader—someone who would exalt the Jewish nation. They could not accept that Jesus was the Messiah. They plotted His death. His life was purchased for the price of a slave. He died a criminal’s death, but God raised Him up as Lord.

May you know the power of His reigning love today.

Lord, over every circumstance of my life, You reign! Thank You that You made a way through the wilderness of this world to Your promised land of peace.[8]


December 22

An Assured Destiny

Scripture reading: Revelation 9:11–21

Key verse: Revelation 9:11

They had as king over them the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in Hebrew is Abaddon, but in Greek he has the name Apollyon.

William Bradbury’s song, “The Solid Rock,” underscores the faith and hope we have in Jesus Christ:

My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;

I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’ name.

When darkness veils his lovely face, I rest on his unchanging grace;

In every high and stormy gale, my anchor holds within the veil.

When he shall come with trumpet sound, O may I then in him be found.

Dressed in his righteousness alone, faultless to stand before the throne.

On Christ, the solid rock, I stand;

All other ground is sinking sand,

All other ground is sinking sand.

Our world is one of turmoil and grief. And if we’re not careful, we will begin to wonder whether God has forgotten His promises to us, but He never does. He knows us perfectly and is preparing us for that glorious day when He will return and gather us unto Himself.

The other part of His return is His triumph over the Beast and the False Prophet (Rev. 19). Revelation makes it clear that the victory belongs to Jesus Christ, and we should never be discouraged by the sorrows of the world.

The surest place to be found is in the care of God’s Son. He is not only your future hope; He is also your present help in every situation. He is your solid Rock.

O God, You are not only my future hope—You are my present help in every situation. I praise You that because of this, I can walk in victory today.[9]


December 22

Your work of faith.

This is Your work, Lord God, that I believe in Him whom You sent.

Faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. Faith works through love. If I sow to my flesh I will of the flesh reap corruption, but if I sow to the Spirit I will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. I am Your workmanship, God, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which You prepared beforehand that I should walk in them. You gave Yourself for me, that You might redeem me from every lawless deed and purify for Yourself Your own special people, zealous for good works.

I thank You, God, because my faith grows exceedingly, and the love of every one of us abounds toward each other. I pray always that You, my God, would count me worthy of this calling, and fulfill all the good pleasure of Your goodness and the work of faith with power. It is You, God, who works in me both to will and to do for Your good pleasure.

Please continue to grow my faith and my love for You and Your people so that my works of faith will glorify You.

1 Thessalonians 1:3; John 6:29; James 2:17; Galatians 5:6; Galatians 6:8; Ephesians 2:10; Titus 2:14; 2 Thessalonians 1:3, 11; Philippians 2:13[10]


December 22

Be not doubtful, but followers of them also, through faith and patience, inherit the promises

Heb. 4:12

God makes a promise. Faith believes it. Hope anticipates it. Patience quietly awaits it.

Selected[11]


 

Out of Unbelief and an Avalanche of Doubt

 

December 22

 

In all your turnings and overturnings, darling, you must never forget the fact of me. With an utterly unbelieving nature, and with avalanches of doubt hurled on me from every side, I have come out into a place of knowledge which is absolutely intuitional to me now. I could as easily think of myself apart from myself as to think of myself apart from God. I believe you will get there too sometime, but I do not want to see you floundering too long.

I must say one word in reply to your suggestion that all motive for work would be gone if we believed everything was working out all right. It is this, that we are in a world which can be made better, and which we individually can help to make better, because we are in a developing world. But when things are developing we do not worry over the different stages, we simply do all we can to help in each stage and then wait in patient confidence for the future developments. If we are making something for instance, its unfinished conditions during the making process don’t discourage or distress us if we are only sure what it will be in the end. If we thought they were finalities, they would distress us, but not when we know they are only stages. And the fact that there are stages is really an encouragement to go on working, since the end will surely pay for it all. Then too, for our own sakes, for our own development, our share of the work must be done all the time.

—To Daughter, Baltimore, Maryland, Saturday, November 7, 1884[12]


December 22

IT is our wisdom, as well as our necessity, to beseech God continually to strengthen that which he has wrought in us. We often forget that the Author of our faith must be the Preserver of it also. The lamp which was burning in the temple was never allowed to go out, but it had to be daily replenished with fresh oil; in like manner, our faith can only live by being sustained with the oil of grace, and we can only obtain this from God himself.

Let us, then, day by day, go to our Lord for the grace and strength we need. We have a strong argument to plead, for it is his own work of grace which we ask him to strengthen. Only let your faith take hold of his strength.[13]


Day 22

Adoration

You are the Lord; You do not change. (Malachi 3:6)

God is light; in Him there is no darkness at all. (1 John 1:5)

Fear God and give Him glory, because the hour of His judgment has come. Worship Him who made the heavens and the earth, the sea and the springs of water. (Revelation 14:7)

Pause to express your thoughts of praise and worship.

Confession

My ears had heard of You

But now my eyes have seen You.

Therefore I despise myself

And repent in dust and ashes. (Job 42:5–6)

Ask the Spirit to search your heart and reveal any areas of unconfessed sin. Acknowledge these to the Lord and thank Him for His forgiveness.

Renewal

May I not let any corrupt word come out of my mouth, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may impart grace to those who hear. (Ephesians 4:29)

I have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God. Therefore, may I put away all malice and all guile and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. (1 Peter 1:23; 2:1)

Since I have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, let me speak not as pleasing men but God, who tests my heart. May I not seek glory from men. (1 Thessalonians 2:4, 6)

Pause to add your own prayers for personal renewal.

Petition

May I not follow the crowd in doing wrong. (Exodus 23:2)

May I not accept a bribe, for a bribe blinds those who see and perverts the words of the righteous. (Exodus 23:8)

Personal Concerns

Spiritual warfare

The world

The flesh

The devil

Growth in character

Personal disciplines

Physical health and strength

My activities for this day

Special concerns

Intercession

Salvation belongs to the Lord. May Your blessing be on Your people. (Psalm 3:8)

World Affairs

The poor and hungry

The oppressed and persecuted

Those in authority

Peace among nations

Current events and concerns

Affirmation

God set me apart from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace. (Galatians 1:15)

I have believed in the Lord Jesus, so that I will be saved—me and my household. (Acts 16:31)

He who is joined to the Lord is one with Him in spirit. (1 Corinthians 6:17)

None of us lives to himself alone and none of us dies to himself alone. If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. (Romans 14:7–8)

Pause to reflect upon these biblical affirmations.

Thanksgiving

When I was dead in my trespasses and in the uncircumcision of my flesh, God made me alive with Christ. He forgave me all my trespasses, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against me and was contrary to me; He took it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross. (Colossians 2:13–15)

God did not appoint me to suffer wrath but to obtain salvation through my Lord Jesus Christ. He died for me, so that, whether I am awake or asleep, I may live together with Him. (1 Thessalonians 5:9–10)

Pause to offer your own expressions of thanksgiving.

Closing Prayer

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit are with us. (2 Corinthians 13:14)

Blessed be the Lord forever!

Amen and Amen. (Psalm 89:52)[14]


Morning, December 22  

 

“I will strengthen thee.”

— Isaiah 41:10

 

God has a strong reserve with which to discharge this engagement; for he is able to do all things. Believer, till thou canst drain dry the ocean of omnipotence, till thou canst break into pieces the towering mountains of almighty strength, thou never needest to fear. Think not that the strength of man shall ever be able to overcome the power of God. Whilst the earth’s huge pillars stand, thou hast enough reason to abide firm in thy faith. The same God who directs the earth in its orbit, who feeds the burning furnace of the sun, and trims the lamps of heaven, has promised to supply thee with daily strength. While he is able to uphold the universe, dream not that he will prove unable to fulfil his own promises. Remember what he did in the days of old, in the former generations. Remember how he spake and it was done; how he commanded, and it stood fast. Shall he that created the world grow weary? He hangeth the world upon nothing; shall he who doth this be unable to support his children? Shall he be unfaithful to his word for want of power? Who is it that restrains the tempest? Doth not he ride upon the wings of the wind, and make the clouds his chariots, and hold the ocean in the hollow of his hand? How can he fail thee? When he has put such a faithful promise as this on record, wilt thou for a moment indulge the thought that he has outpromised himself, and gone beyond his power to fulfil? Ah, no! Thou canst doubt no longer.

 

O thou who art my God and my strength, I can believe that this promise shall be fulfilled, for the boundless reservoir of thy grace can never be exhausted, and the overflowing storehouse of thy strength can never be emptied by thy friends or rifled by thine enemies.

 

“Now let the feeble all be strong,

And make Jehovah’s arm their song.”

 

Evening, December 22

 

“The spot of his children.”

— Deuteronomy 32:5

 

What is the secret spot which infallibly betokens the child of God? It were vain presumption to decide this upon our own judgment; but God’s word reveals it to us, and we may tread surely where we have revelation to be our guide. Now, we are told concerning our Lord, “to as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to as many as believed on his name.” Then, if I have received Christ Jesus into my heart, I am a child of God. That reception is described in the same verse as believing on the name of Jesus Christ. If, then, I believe on Jesus Christ’s name—that is, simply from my heart trust myself with the crucified, but now exalted, Redeemer, I am a member of the family of the Most High. Whatever else I may not have, if I have this, I have the privilege to become a child of God. Our Lord Jesus puts it in another shape. “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” Here is the matter in a nutshell. Christ appears as a shepherd to his own sheep, not to others. As soon as he appears, his own sheep perceive him—they trust him, they are prepared to follow him; he knows them, and they know him—there is a mutual knowledge—there is a constant connection between them. Thus the one mark, the sure mark, the infallible mark of regeneration and adoption is a hearty faith in the appointed Redeemer. Reader, are you in doubt, are you uncertain whether you bear the secret mark of God’s children? Then let not an hour pass over your head till you have said, “Search me, O God, and know my heart.” Trifle not here, I adjure you! If you must trifle anywhere, let it be about some secondary matter: your health, if you will, or the title deeds of your estate; but about your soul, your never-dying soul and its eternal destinies, I beseech you to be in earnest. Make sure work for eternity. [15]


December 22

The Truth About Consequences

Scripture Reading: Proverbs 26:23–28

Key Verse: Galatians 6:7

Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.

Think about what life would be like if the consequences of all our actions were immediate, just as in the story of Pinocchio. If you lied, your nose would grow. If you gossiped, your mouth would get bigger. In such a scenario, one thing is for certain—there would be a great number of funny-looking people.

In the real world, however, consequences don’t always come at the exact moment an offense is committed, yet the long-term results of going against one of God’s principles are there nevertheless. Proverbs 26:27 (nasb) makes this connection clear: “He who digs a pit will fall into it, and he who rolls a stone, it will come back on him.”

The reaction may not be immediate, but it will come; this is God’s way. In a sense, you can never truly violate one of His immutable principles, in the same way that you cannot go against the natural law of gravity.

Ultimately the Lord has set up boundaries and guidelines for your life to be a source of protection and blessing (Ps. 119). What many nonbelievers interpret as the negative “don’ts” of Christianity are really positives, as though God were saying: “Do live according to My plans, and then you will find real reward.”

Almighty God, I realize there are consequences to my actions. Give me wisdom and understanding to walk Your way. Take my hand and guide me on my journey.[16]


December 22

God’s Awesome Love

Scripture Reading: Luke 2:15–20

Key Verse: Luke 2:20

Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them.

With great awe and in complete reverence, the shepherds looked upon the baby Jesus. It was true. Everything. All the words spoken to them by the angel in the sky were truth! The Savior had arrived!

And almost instantly, the shepherds realized that this kind of news didn’t need to be hidden. Others needed to know that the Savior had arrived—even more prophecy was about to be fulfilled. Were these the first missionaries? No, these were the first witnesses, understanding that along with the knowledge of this great information came the responsibility to tell others.

As we grow in our relationship with Christ and deepen our knowledge of Him through intimacy, there is no need for us to keep this information to ourselves. In light of what Christ has done for us—through not only His birth, but also His death and resurrection—we should desire to share this with others.

Our method of sharing the good news with others might vary. But regardless of the method in which we proclaim Christ, the message of Christmas—God’s awesome love for mankind—is a story that warrants being told again and again.

Lord, we are Your witnesses on earth as surely as were the shepherds of Bethlehem. Help us to announce the Christmas message with the same enthusiasm and urgency.[17]


December 22

The Source of Song

Psalm 40:3

He has put a new song in my mouth—praise to our God; many will see it and fear, and will trust in the Lord.

Christianity is a religion of song. Agnosticism has no carols. Confucianism and Brahmanism have no anthems or alleluias. Dreary, weird dirges reveal no hope for the present or for the future. Christianity, however, is filled with music. Only the message of Christ puts a song in a person’s heart.

When you have Christ in your heart something changes inside of you, and a melody starts to form that you can’t really control. It is unlike any other belief system.

As we read the stories of Christmas in the Book of Luke, we find six different songs recorded almost back-to-back: the “Beatitude of Elizabeth,” when she was visited by Mary; the “Magnificat of Mary,” Mary’s song; the “Benedictus of Zacharias,” the father of John the Baptist; the “Song of Simeon,” when he was presented with the Christ Child at the temple; the “Evangel Song” of the angel of the Lord over the plains; and finally, the “Gloria” of the angelic hosts. When Jesus came into the world, music was reborn.[18]


December 22nd

The drawing of the Father

No man can come to Me, except the Father which hath sent Me draw him. John 6:44.

When God draws me, the issue of my will comes in at once—will I react on the revelation which God gives; will I come to Him? Discussion on spiritual matters is an impertinence. Never discuss with anyone when God speaks. Belief is not an intellectual act; belief is a moral act whereby I deliberately commit myself. Will I dump myself down absolutely on God and transact on what He says? If I will, I shall find I am based on Reality that is as sure as God’s throne.

In preaching the gospel, always push an issue of will. Belief must be the will to believe. There must be a surrender of the will, not a surrender to persuasive power; a deliberate launching forth on God and on what He says until I am no longer confident in what I have done, I am confident only in God. The hindrance is that I will not trust God, but only my mental understanding. As far as feelings go, I must stake all blindly: I must will to believe, and this can never be done without a violent effort on my part to dissociate myself from my old ways of looking at things, and by putting myself right over on to Him.

Every man is made to reach out beyond his grasp. It is God Who draws me, and my relationship with Him in the first place is a personal one, not an intellectual one. I am introduced into the relationship by the miracle of God and my own will to believe, then I begin to get an intelligent appreciation and understanding of the wonder of the transaction.[19]


 

December 22

 

Submitting to Christ as Lord

 

“God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name … that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.”

Philippians 2:9, 11

✧✧✧

To receive Christ as Savior is to submit to His authority as Lord.

Is Jesus Lord? According to the declaration of the Father, He is. We cannot know Him any other way than as Lord. That’s why the first creed in the history of the church, given in Philippians 2:11, says, “Jesus Christ is Lord.” Every Christian must acknowledge that. It is the foundation of the Christian faith, the very substance of what we believe. We don’t make Him Lord after salvation. Every time I hear someone say, “You need to make Jesus Lord,” it is as repellent to me as hearing fingernails scraped down a blackboard. We never make Jesus Lord—God has already done that.

Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior, and those who would receive Him must take Him for who He really is. Puritan John Flavel put it this way: “The gospel offer of Christ includes all his offices, and gospel faith just so receives him; to submit to him, as well as to be redeemed by him; to imitate him in the holiness of his life, as well as to reap the purchases and fruits of his death. It must be an entire receiving of the Lord Jesus Christ.”

In a similar vein, A.W. Tozer said, “To urge men and women to believe in a divided Christ is bad teaching, for no one can receive half of Christ, or a third of Christ, or a quarter of the Person of Christ! We are not saved by believing in an office nor in a work.” Jesus is Lord, and if you refuse Him as Lord, you cannot call Him Savior. If you have truly received Him, your life will be characterized by submission to His authority.

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer: Take time to acknowledge the lordship of Christ in your own life.

For Further Study: Read Romans 10:9–13. What is a sinner to confess if he is to be saved? ✧ According to 2 Corinthians 4:5, what message did Paul preach?[20]


December 22.—Morning. [Or December 11.] “Ye have an unction from the Holy One.”

1 John 2:12–28

I WRITE unto you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for his name’s sake. (Little children have sins; they need to be forgiven; and they may be forgiven at once. Should not every child go to Jesus and ask to be washed in his precious blood? To be little children in Jesus Christ is a great privilege, and to such the word of God is directed as much as to the more advanced saints.)

13 I write unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning. (These established saints, having a deeper knowledge of their Lord, were bound to lend the more earnest attention to his word, and to carry it out more fully.) I write unto you, young men, because ye have overcome the wicked one. (These young men are the flower of the army of the Lord of Hosts. By their victories already won the apostle summons them to new conflicts. The Spirit of God has a call for believers in all stages of the divine life.) I write unto you, little children, because ye have known the Father.

14 I have written unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning. I have written unto you, young men, because ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one.

15 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

He may use it, but love it he must not, unless he will renounce the love of God.

16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.

17 And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.

18 Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time. (The spirit of antichrist has many forms, and is present in every age. Everything which robs Christ of his glory is anti-christian.)

19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us. (Bad teachers leave the church of God because they never in truth belonged to it. When they go over to Rome they go to their own place.)

20 But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things. (An experimental knowledge of the truth is the best preservative against error.)

21 I have not written unto you because ye know not the truth, but because ye know it, and that no lie is of the truth.

22 Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? (This is the greatest of all falsehoods, and it insults both the Father and the Son by doubting their testimony.) He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son.

23 Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: [but] he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also.

24 Let that therefore abide in you, which ye have heard from the beginning. If that which ye have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, ye also shall continue in the Son, and in the Father. (You cannot find a better gospel; persevere, then, in what you already know.)

25 And this is the promise that he hath promised us, even eternal life.

26, 27 These things have I written unto you concerning them that seduce you. But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.

28 And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming. (Being full of love he pleads with us never to desert our Lord, or listen to the false gospels which would lead us astray. Ever may this family be true to Jesus, to the gospel, and to holy living: and may none of us ever be deceived by false doctrine, or tempted into sin.)

One there is to whom we’re going,

One to whom we owe our all;

Daily grace is he bestowing,

He sustains us when we fall.

Precious Jesus!

Thou to us art all in all.

December 22.—Evening. [Or December 12.] “Beloved, now are we the sons of God.”

1 John 3

BEHOLD, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.

Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.

And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.

Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.

And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin.

Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him. (We understand by this not that believers are perfectly free from sinning, but that they do not sin habitually, wilfully, and openly as the unregenerate do. Their lives are holy, and when faults occur they grieve over them. The river of their lives runs towards righteousness, and though there are eddies in it these do not affect the main current.)

Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous.

He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.

Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.

He cannot sin with his whole heart, or continuously, or finally, or as the main act of his life. Sin is not his element, or his delight.

10, 11 In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother. For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. (The beloved John seems to breathe out only love. Like the harp of Anacreon his heart resoundeth “love alone.”)

12, 13 Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother’s righteous. Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you. (That hatred has existed from the beginning. The very first man who died was martyred for the faith.)

14 We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.

15 Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.

16 Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.

17 But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?

18 My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.

He whose whole religion lies in words is a hypocrite worthy of the scorn of all mankind. Above all things let us be real in all that we do.

19 And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him.

20 For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things.

21 Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God.

22 And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight.

23, 24 And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment. And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.

Behold, what wondrous grace

The Father hath bestow’d

On sinners of a mortal race,

To call them sons of God!

Nor doth it yet appear

How great we must be made;

But when we see our Saviour here,

We shall be like our Head.

If in my Father’s love

I share a filial part,

Send down thy Spirit, like a dove,

To rest upon my heart.[21]


Monday, December 22, 2014

Unknowable, Unapproachable, and Inaccessible

The glory of the LORD shall be revealed. Isaiah 40:5

What is this glory of the Lord? And what does it mean for this glory to be revealed? The glory of the Lord is the full wonder of who God is, the splendor of God himself.

Moses said to God, “Please show me your glory” (Exodus 33:18). Here’s the fascinating thing about that prayer: God had already made himself known to Moses. He had done this in the burning bush and in the miracle of crossing the Red Sea.

More than that, we’re told “the glory of the LORD appeared in the cloud” (Exodus 16:10). “The appearance of the glory of the LORD was like a devouring fire” (Exodus 24:17). “The cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle”(Exodus 40:34).

Something of the glory of God had already been revealed. Notice how it was revealed – in cloud (means it’s unknowable), and in fire (means it’s unapproachable). When the cloud filled the tent of meeting, Moses was not able to go inside. The glory of God was inaccessible.

So Moses says to the Lord, “I’ve seen reflections of you in the fire and in the cloud, but I want to see the full wonder of who you are! I want to see your face! Show me your glory!”

God says, “You cannot see my face… and live” (Exodus 33:20). So, God hides Moses in the cleft of a rock and covers Moses with his hand. Then God causes his glory to pass by, and Moses is allowed to see the after burn of the glory of God: “You shall see my back, but my face shall not be seen” (Exodus 33:23).

How do you understand God’s statement: “You cannot see my face and live”?

That’s this week’s LifeKEY!

Colin S. Smith

This devotional is taken from the sermon series “Waiting for the Lord” by Pastor Colin S. Smith.


Reading for Today:

Nahum 1:1–3:19
Psalm 145:17-21
Proverbs 30:16
Revelation 12:1-17
Notes:

Nahum 1:11 wicked counselor. The phrase, literally, “counselor of Belial,” suggests satanic influence on the leadership, identified as the king of Assyria (3:18). Specific reference could be to Ashurbanipal (669–633 B.C.) or more likely to Sennacherib (705–681 B.C.), who invaded Judah in 701 B.C. and of whom Isaiah speaks in similar language (Is. 10:7).

Nahum 3:1 bloody city. The first accusation was a charge well documented in history. Assyria proved to be an unusually cruel, bloodthirsty nation. lies. Assyria employed falsehood and treachery to subdue her enemies (2 Kin. 18:28–32). robbery. Preying upon her victims, she filled her cities with the goods of other nations.

Revelation 12:3 great, fiery red dragon. The woman’s mortal enemy is Satan, who appears as a dragon 13 times in this book (v.9; 20:2).Red speaks of bloodshed (John 8:44). seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems. Figurative language depicting Satan’s domination of 7 past worldly kingdoms and 10 future kingdoms (Dan. 7:7, 20, 24). Satan has and will rule the world until the seventh trumpet blows (11:15). He has inflicted relentless pain on Israel (Dan.8:24), desiring to kill the woman before she could bring forth the child that would destroy him.

Revelation 12:9 dragon was cast…to the earth. Satan and his demons were cast out of heaven at the time of their original rebellion, but still have access to it (Job 1:6; 2:1). That access will then be denied, and they will be forever barred from heaven. Devil and Satan. “Devil” comes from a Greek verb meaning “to slander” or “to falsely accuse.” He is a malignant liar (John 8:44; 1 John 3:8). His accusations against believers (v. 10) are unsuccessful because of Christ our Advocate (1 John 2:1). Satan, meaning “adversary” or “enemy,” appears especially in Job and the Gospels. deceives the whole world. As he has throughout human history, Satan will deceive people during the Tribulation (13:14; 20:3; John 8:44). After his temporary release from the bottomless pit at the end of the Millennium, he will briefly resume his deceitful ways (20:8, 10).

DAY 22: Who was the prophet Nahum, and how was his message related to the prophet Jonah?

The significance of the writing prophets was not their personal lives; it was their message. Thus, background information about the prophet from within the prophecy is rare. Occasionally one of the historical books will shed additional light. In the case of Nahum, nothing is provided except that he was an Elkoshite (1:1), referring either to his birthplace or his place of ministry. Attempts to identify the location of Elkosh have been unsuccessful. Suggestions include Al Qosh, situated in northern Iraq (thus Nahum would have been a descendant of the exiles taken to Assyria in 722 B.C.), Capernaum (“town of Nahum”), or a location in southern Judah (1:15). His birthplace or locale is not significant to the interpretation of the book.

Nahum forms a sequel to the Book of Jonah, who prophesied over a century earlier. Jonah recounts the remission of God’s promised judgment toward Nineveh, while Nahum depicts the later execution of God’s judgment. Nineveh was proud of her invulnerable city, with her walls reaching 100 feet high and with a moat 150 feet wide and 60 feet deep. But Nahum established the fact that the sovereign God (1:2–5) would bring vengeance upon those who violated His law (1:8, 14; 3:5–7). The same God had a retributive judgment against evil which is also redemptive, bestowing His loving kindnesses upon the faithful (1:7, 12, 13, 15; 2:2).The prophecy brought comfort to Judah and all who feared the cruel Assyrians. Nahum said Nineveh would end “with an overflowing flood” (1:8); and it happened when the Tigris River overflowed to destroy enough of the walls to let the Babylonians through. Nahum also predicted that the city would be hidden (3:11). After its destruction in 612 B.C., the site was not rediscovered until 1842 A.D.

From The MacArthur Daily Bible Copyright © 2003. Used by permission of Thomas Nelson Bibles, a division of Thomas Nelson, Inc, Nashville, TN 37214, http://www.thomasnelson.com.


December 22 – God’s Kingdom Is Priceless

“‘. . . finding one pearl of great value’” (Matthew 13:46).

Job’s ancient description of humanity’s relentless quest for wealth sounds amazingly up-to-date:

Man puts an end to darkness, and to the farthest limit he searches out the rock in gloom and deep shadow. He sinks a shaft far from habitation, forgotten by the foot; they hang and swing to and fro far from men . . . Its rocks are the source of sapphires, and its dust contains gold. . . . He hews out channels through the rocks, and his eye sees anything precious. (Job 28:3–4, 6, 10)

For all the efforts to mine and process precious metals and gems, none of those riches offers anything of lasting value (cf. Job 28:12–15, 21, 23, 28).

The blessing of being a kingdom citizen—a child of God through faith in Jesus Christ—is truly priceless and more valuable than all the world’s greatest riches combined. That citizenship is so incomparable because it is “an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away” (1 Peter 1:4). This heavenly inheritance includes the unsurpassed, divine spiritual blessings of forgiveness, love, peace, purity, righteousness, eternal life, and more.

Even with its priceless nature and ultimate value, God offers His kingdom to any person who surrenders all, repents, and trusts in Christ as Lord and Savior. Whatever values a man or woman has clung to in the past, God will happily exchange for the priceless kingdom treasure.

Ask Yourself

Are you in one of those phases of life in which Christianity feels like all cost and little return? Reflect today on the treasures of faith. Ask God to bring them to mind whenever you get discouraged or weary of the battle. They are worth much, much more than the price of admission.

From Daily Readings from the Life of Christ, Vol. 1, John MacArthur. Copyright © 2008. Used by permission of Moody Publishers, Chicago, IL 60610, http://www.moodypublishers.com.


Come to the Banquet – Part One

THEME: Unmerited Favor
This parable offers an illustration of those who reject and those who accept Christ.

SCRIPTURE
Matthew 22:1-14

And again Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son,and sent his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding feast, but they would not come. Again he sent other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, “See, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding feast.”’ But they paid no attention and went off, one to his farm, another to his business, while the rest seized his servants, treated them shamefully, and killed them. The king was angry, and he sent his troops and destroyed those murderers and burned their city. Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding feast is ready, but those invited were not worthy.Go therefore to the main roads and invite to the wedding feast as many as you find.’ And those servants went out into the roads and gathered all whom they found, both bad and good. So the wedding hall was filled with guests.
“But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment. And he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ For many are called, but few are chosen.”

LESSON

From time to time in our study of the parables I have noted that a particular parable is difficult to interpret, and have mentioned several ways the details of the story could be taken. That problem does not exist with the parable of the wedding banquet, however. On the contrary, it is all too clear. It speaks of God’s gracious invitation to us in the gospel and of the indifferent and arrogant way men and women sometimes respond to it. It speaks of hell, the end of those who attempt to enter the king’s presence without the wedding garment of Christ’s righteousness. Wise is the man or woman who learns from it.

This parable occurs in more than one place and in slightly different form in each place. The fullest form is in Matthew, so we will use Matthew as a starting point. But it also occurs in Luke 14:15-24, which contains elaboration on the excuses of those who refused the king’s invitation.

The story begins with a certain king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son, and sent servants to those who had been invited to tell them that the feast was now ready and that they should come. But they refused to come. Their refusal was a great insult, of course. It was dishonoring to the son, the king, and even to the servants who carried the king’s message. But the king did not get angry. Instead, he sent other servants to repeat the invitation: “Tell those who have been invited that I have prepared my dinner: My oxen and fattened cattle have been butchered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet” (v. 4). Again they refused, but this time, those who had been invited did not merely reject the invitation. They also mistreated the messengers and killed some of them. The king sent an army to destroy the murderers and burn their city (vv. 1-7). After that he invited others.

The thing that makes the parable so easy to understand is that nearly every part is discussed in plain terms elsewhere. The king is God, sitting upon the throne of the universe. The son is his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. The messengers are the prophets and early preachers of the gospel. The banquet is the marriage supper of the Lamb. Those to whom the gospel was first preached were Jews and those who actually came to the banquet were Gentiles, as is taught in John 1:11-12. “He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.”

As with the preceding parable, this is one of a special class of parables that deals with the refusal of Israel to respond to the Lord Jesus Christ when he came first to his own people. That was a major issue during the lifetime of the Lord, as well as afterward, so it is not surprising to find a number of parables dealing with it either directly or alluding to it indirectly. The character of the older son in the parable of the prodigal represents Israel (as well as those Gentiles who possess the same spirit of resentment). So do those workers in the vineyard who were hired early but were paid the same as those who came late. So does the Pharisee in the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector (Luke 18). Those stories explore the thinking of people who supposed they had worked long and faithfully for God, unlike others, and who were envious and resentful when the grace of God was shown to those they considered unworthy.

STUDY QUESTIONS

Explain this parable. Who is the king? Who is the son? The messengers? Those invited to the feast?
What is the banquet? Who came to the banquet?
What theme in this parable is similar to that of the parable of the vineyard owner?

James Montgomery Boice


God Put You Here “On Purpose” – Part Two

SCRIPTURE
John 20:19-23

On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”

LESSON

In the second place, let us look at some of the things that God proposes to do in us now. God is beginning to work in us who are believers, rooting and preparing the purposes that He plans to work out now and in eternity.

In Romans 9:23 it says He saved us in order “that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory.” We were vessels of mercy. We had been vessels of wrath, and then we became vessels of mercy. Now a vessel is a vase, it is a container. And He says that we are vessels of mercy, prepared to glory. We are, if you will, candles that God intends to light up with a fire that burns and is not consumed as we blaze forth His glory. The angels in eternity, when they see us, will know that the Lord Jesus Christ came from heaven to save us from the pit, lifted us up, and gave us eternal life.

They will know that Jesus was made lower than the angels and stooped to the cross in order to bring us from the depths of the depravity of sin; that everyone of us who is thus lifted, and made like Christ, shall call forth from the full and angelic world the thought of “How great is the grace of God! Look at that flashing saint! Look at that child of God! Look at that human being become an heir with Christ! How great is the grace of God that dust has been taken to heaven and has been fashioned to show forth the glory of Christ!”

But God has done that already. In the midst of a world that knows not Jesus Christ we can already witness to the fact that our vessels of wrath have become vessels of mercy. And such were some of you: but you were washed. You were by nature children of wrath and children of disobedience. “But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ” (Ephesians 2:4-5). God chooses to use us as torch lights that shall flame His glory through eternity. And He wants that process to begin right now so that anyone coming in contact with you shall say, “That is a redeemed one.”

One of the tragedies of Christians in America today is that so many fundamental Christians get together with each other. They have their parties together, they have their fellowship together, their socials together, their picnics together, and all of their friendships together. Many of them are not aware of the light they could cause outside. Oh, some of you run up against it in business life. But even business life is organized in such a way that it’s rather possible for nice people to have their lives bounded on one side by their home, and the other side by their office, with occasional side trips to this amusement or that amusement, or to this church or that church. But you do not know the horror of what life is outside of Christ. And yet, God has meant that we be in the midst of this world as shining lights, holding forth the Word of Life.

Not only does God want us to be vessels of mercy, but it tells us in Ephesians 3:10-11 that another purpose in saving us is “that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places. This was according to the eternal purpose which he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord.” In other words, God is saying, “The reason that I have saved you, the true church, is that I wanted to exhibit you in the invisible realm. I wanted to let all the angels of heaven that followed the devil to look on the earth and see you. I want them to realize that the principles I established in the beginning are true, that I don’t take men to the highest heaven by their own climbing. I take men who deserve to go to hell, who go down to the cross, and by virtue of the death of Jesus Christ, pass out of death and into life. I lift them up through Jesus Christ. The moment I do so, I have proclaimed the eternal law,” says God, “that power does not come from grasping, that power does not come through climbing, but power, true power comes through descending, through surrender, through yielding. The way to climb up is down. `For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased”‘ (Luke 14:11). Each believer is a witness before the forces of Satan that God’s way of doing things is the only way that works. And that’s why we must learn to say in response to Him, “Make me a captive, Lord. Then I shall be free. Force me to render up my sword, and I shall conqueror be.”

Another purpose of God that has already begun now, and will be carried on forever, is defined in Romans 8:29 where it says, “He also did predestinate [us] to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.” The reason God saved us is that out of this world and out of the mud of the fall, He might reach down and grasp in sovereign grace countless multitudes from Adam’s race and then transform them and shape them into the image of Jesus Christ. And just as a butterfly flying around your garden probably can’t tell the difference between a man of seventy and a boy who is twenty, or the difference between a man and a woman, so in the future, in heaven, an angel looking up to God will have trouble telling the difference between you and Jesus Christ.

Now it’s tremendous as we understand what is being taught here-that we might be shaped to the image of His Son, that we might be the “firstborn among many brethren” in God’s family. Now you can readily see that, if He has begun this in us, He desires greatly that this work be continued.

In Ephesians 1:4, God gives another purpose for saving us. It tells us He saved us in order “that we should be holy and without blame before him in love.” He wants to begin this in us NOW. He has given us the holiness that is in Christ. He had made us without blemish in His sight. Because we are already saved, we are seen in the perfection and glory of Jesus Christ.

He wants us to be holy, without blemish, in our practical life and living. The moment we understand God’s eternal purpose in saving us, that eternal purpose becomes a divine imperative to call us to yield ourselves to Him, and to walk worthy of the calling wherewith we have been called.

Still another purpose is set forth in Ephesians 1:12 where it states, “That we should be to the praise of his glory.” Anyone-men, angels, or demons-seeing us should say, and we should say of one another, “How wonderful is the grace of God that He should be able to touch me without dirtying His finger! How wonderful the grace of God that He was able to take hold of us and that we are the monuments of His love and His grace.”

STUDY QUESTIONS

What is a vessel of wrath?
What is a vessel of mercy?
Why is it fitting that God predestined us? How do being vessels of wrath or mercy teach us about predestination?

Donald Grey Barnhouse


Mon, December 22, 2014

Deity Present among Us

What we have in the Christian doctrine of the Holy Spirit is Deity present among us. He is not God’s messenger only, He is God. He is God in contact with His creatures, doing in them and among them a saving and renewing work.

The Persons of the Godhead never work separately. We dare not think of them in such a way as to “divide the substance.” Every act of God is done by all three Persons. God is never anywhere present in one Person without the other two. He cannot divide Himself. Where the Spirit is, there also is the Father and the Son. “We will come unto him and make our abode with him.” For the accomplishment of some specific work one Person may for the time be more prominent than the others are, but never is He alone. God is altogether present wherever He is present at all.

Verse
I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him.
John 1:32

Thought
Every act of God is done by all three Persons. God is never anywhere present in one Person without the other two.

Prayer
Praise Your name, Holy Father, the three-in-one Godhead!

A. W. Tozer


ADORATION: Own your Relation to God

7
We must declare this God to be our God and own our relation to him, his dominion over us, and propriety in us.

Our souls have said to the LORD, “You are our Lord, we have no good apart from you; Psalm 16:2(ESV) neither if we are righteous are you the better.” Job 35:7(ESV)

You are our King, O God: Psalm 44:4(ESV) Other lords besides you have ruled over us, but your name alone we bring to remembrance. Isaiah 26:13(ESV)

We declare today that the LORD is our God, and that we will walk in his ways, and keep his statutes and his commandments and his rules, and will obey his voice and give ourselves to him, to be his people for a treasured possession, as he has promised, that we may be a holy people to the Lord our God; Deuteronomy 26:17-19 and might be to him for a name, a praise, and a glory. Jeremiah 13:11(ESV)

O Lord, truly we are your servants; we are your servants, born in your house, and you have loosed our bonds: Psalm 116:16(ESV) We have been bought with a price, and therefore we are not our own; 1 Corinthians 6:19-20(ESV) and so we yield ourselves to the Lord, 2 Chronicles 30:8(ESV) and join ourselves to him in an everlasting covenant that will never be forgotten. Jeremiah 50:5(ESV)

We are yours, save us, for we seek your precepts; Psalm 119:94(ESV) it is your own, Lord, that we give you, and that which comes from your hand. 1 Chronicles 29:16(ESV)

Matthew Henry’s Method for Prayer


[1] Osbeck, K. W. (1996). Amazing grace: 366 inspiring hymn stories for daily devotions (pp. 381–382). Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications.

[2] Barry, J. D., & Kruyswijk, R. (2012). Connect the Testaments: A One-Year Daily Devotional with Bible Reading Plan. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[3] Venditti, L., & Venditti, N. (2012). Daily Treasures from the Word of God. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

[4] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 369). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

[5] Stanley, C. F. (2004). God’s way day by day (p. 379). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[6] Stanley, C. F. (2002). Seeking His face (p. 373). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[7] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 383). Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman.

[8] Stanley, C. F. (1998). Enter His gates: a daily devotional. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[9] Stanley, C. F. (2000). Into His presence (p. 373). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[10] Jeremiah, D. (2007). Life-Changing Moments With God (p. 381). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[11] Hardman, S. G., & Moody, D. L. (1997). Thoughts for the quiet hour. Willow Grove, PA: Woodlawn Electronic Publishing.

[12] Smith, H. W., & Dieter, M. E. (1997). The Christian’s secret of a holy life: the unpublished personal writings of Hannah Whitall Smith. Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

[13] Spurgeon, C. H. (1892). Daily Help (p. 360). Baltimore: R. H. Woodward & Company.

[14] Boa, K. (1993). Handbook to prayer: praying scripture back to God. Atlanta: Trinity House.

[15] Spurgeon, C. H. (2006). Morning and evening: Daily readings (Complete and unabridged; New modern edition.). Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers.

[16] Stanley, C. F. (1999). On holy ground (p. 373). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[17] Stanley, C. F. (2006). Pathways to his presence (p. 373). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[18] Jeremiah, D. (2002). Sanctuary: finding moments of refuge in the presence of God (p. 373). Nashville, TN: Integrity Publishers.

[19] Chambers, O. (1986). My utmost for his highest: Selections for the year. Grand Rapids, MI: Oswald Chambers Publications; Marshall Pickering.

[20] MacArthur, J. (1997). Strength for today. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

[21] Spurgeon, C. H. (2009). The Interpreter: Spurgeon’s Devotional Bible (pp. 754–755). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Originally posted on Possessing the Treasure:

by Mike Ratliff

13 Who is there to harm you if you prove zealous for what is good? 14 But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. And do not fear their intimidation, and do not be troubled, 15 but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence; 16 and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame. 17 For it is better, if God should will it so, that you suffer for doing what is right rather than for doing what is wrong. 18 For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the…

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Scripture: “[Jesus] Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross! Philippians 2:6-8

Before Jesus came to Earth, he lived in Heaven. In Heaven there is no sin and angels praised Him all day. Because Jesus loves us, He willingly gave this up and set aside His power to become a tiny, helpless human baby. This is where the story of sacrifice begins.

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“God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.” 1 John 5:11

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December 21

WE THREE KINGS OF ORIENT ARE

Words and Music by John H. Hopkins, 1820–1891

And when they were come into the house, they [the wise men] saw the young child with Mary His mother, and fell down, and worshiped Him; and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto Him gifts: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. (Matthew 2:11)

Each of the participants involved with Christ’s birth—Mary and Joseph, the inn keeper, the angels, shepherds, and wise men—has much to teach us.

Although there is no scriptural basis for stating dogmatically that there were three wise men, the fact that three distinct gifts are mentioned has given rise to this traditional idea. Master artists throughout the centuries have depicted three wise men on camels as one of their favorite nativity themes.

The number of wise men is not important, but the fact that they persisted in following the light that was given them until they found the object of their search, that they responded in worship, and that they returned home to share their experience with others—all has much to tell us. Also, the gifts presented to the Christ-child were both significant and appropriate: gold, symbolic of His kingly reign; frankincense, symbolic of His priestly ministry; myrrh, symbolic of our redemption through His death. How important it is that our gifts of love and devotion be offered to Christ after we have first found Him and then have bowed in true adoration before Him.

The author and composer of this well-known Christmas hymn was an Episcopalian minister from Pennsylvania. John Hopkins has been credited with contributing much to the development of music in his denomination during the 19th century, writing a number of fine hymns and hymn tunes. One of his publications, Carols, Hymns and Songs, enjoyed four editions.

We three kings of Orient are, bearing gifts we traverse afar, field and fountain, moor and mountain, following yonder star.

Born a King on Bethlehem’s plain, gold I bring to crown Him again, King forever, ceasing never over us all to reign.

Frankincense to offer have I; incense owns a Deity nigh; prayer and praising, all men raising, worship Him, God on high.

Myrrh is mine; its bitter perfume breathes a life of gathering gloom: Sorr’wing, sighing, bleeding, dying, sealed in the stone-cold tomb.

Glorious now behold Him arise, King and God and Sacrifice; alleluia, alleluia! Earth to heav’n replies.

For Today: Matthew 2:1–11

Follow the light of God’s Word and the leading of His Holy Spirit to worship Christ and to share His love. Carry this tuneful message—[1]


December 21: Expenses

Jeremiah 39:1–41:18; Romans 9:13–29; Proverbs 24:1–22

It’s important to pause occasionally to reflect on the cost of sin. If we don’t, we can find ourselves living in it without thought of the ramifications. Few passages illustrate the cost of sin more vividly than the fall of Jerusalem recorded in Jer 39. The fall of Jerusalem is brutal, depressing, and sadistic, but we can learn from Jeremiah’s account of the event.

We could view Jeremiah’s depictions as merely historical, or we could recognize the theological lessons they offer: Sin is expensive. Sin will destroy you. Sin will bring a nation to its knees. Sin will leave you begging for mercy. Sin is death. That’s what God’s people learned from this event: Disobeying Yahweh is a costly action. It’s not that God wants His people to endure this pain, but pain is a natural consequence of their decisions. He cannot defend people who refuse to live as beacons of light—of goodness, beauty, and blessing—to the world. If they aren’t willing to live in His image, then He is not willing to be their defender. If Yahweh did not allow for Nebuchadnezzar to destroy Jerusalem, the people would never learn. And the exile that comes in this moment is also a natural result of their sin.

When we’re faced with the horror of the destruction of Jerusalem, we’re given a choice: Will we listen to the prophets of our age and respond accordingly? Will we hear God when He calls us back to obedience? Or will we continue to live in sin and suffer the consequences?

As a side effect of the grace that God has given us in Jesus, many people assume that sin is somehow okay—that it’s okay to allow it to exist. God’s response is the opposite. The grace is unmerited, and we must respond with the only merited response: complete dedication and obedience to Him. We must see the death of sin and deny it.

What sin is currently present in your life? What do you need to repent from? Have you asked God for direct you in this?

John D. Barry[2]


December 21

Intro

Welcome to Daily Treasures from the Word of God. Today’s reading is Luke 1 through 4. Our lesson is from Luke 4:21, “And He began to say to them, ‘Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.’ ” (NASU)

Lesson

Chapter 4 in Luke is crucial to understanding the relationship of Jesus and the Holy Spirit. It is also where we see what Jesus came to do—His mission. Jesus is tempted by Satan at the onset of the chapter in three areas: having to do with the appetites, with power and the spectacular. He overcomes them all through the power of the Holy Spirit. Let look at three areas of the work of the Holy Spirit in the ministry of Jesus.

First, the Spirit empowers Jesus to teach (v. 14–15). The synagogue is the venue for Jesus to teach. He reads from Isaiah 61:1–2. He was a respected teacher and honored by the common people. We see how later, the Lord applies these words to Himself. Scripture is inspired by the Holy Spirit and it is He who helps give the proper interpretation.

Next, the Spirit anoints Jesus to preach. What is the message? It is the Gospel. Who does not want to hear good news? The best news of all is that Jesus has overcome Satan and the powers of darkness in the cosmic war. Jesus is the King of kings and Lord of lords.

The ones who benefit from Christ’s victory are His people. Those who believe that Jesus died and rose from the dead are partakers of His victory. He has made the poor rich. Poor is not only those who do not have economical resources but those who are destitute due to sin and its consequences. This is every human being. We are all sinners in need of a Savior.

Third, the Spirit sends Jesus to proclaim freedom. Freedom is not being captive to Satan and the kingdom of darkness. In addition, we can overcome the flesh and its desires. The blind can see and are set free from oppression. This is what is known as the favorable year of the Lord. Jesus through the work of the Holy Spirit provides His people with favor before God. How blessed we are!

In conclusion, the Spirit empowers Jesus to teach. The Spirit anoints Jesus to preach. And the Spirit sends Jesus to proclaim freedom.

Jesus Christ fulfilled His destiny and Scripture as seen in today’s text. We must have a sense of destiny in our lives and ministry. Let us learn from Jesus that we need to depend on the work of the Spirit. To be equipped for ministry we must be empowered, anointed and sent by the Spirit. This is Good News and the favor of the Lord. Rejoice in the Spirit because of the Lord’s work in you!

End

It has been a pleasure to share with you Daily Treasures from the Word of God. Tomorrow’s Bible reading is Luke 5 through 8. Let’s not forget the words of the psalmist, “The law of Your mouth is better to me than thousands of gold and silver pieces.” Until tomorrow and may God bless you in abundance as you study the Word of God.[3]


 

December 21

 

The Certainty of Judgment

 

“If the word spoken through angels proved unalterable, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense, how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?” (Heb. 2:2–3).

✧✧✧

There is certain judgment for everyone who does not receive Christ as Savior and Lord.

Today the majority believes that God is a God of love and grace but not of justice. One brief look at Hebrews 2:2–3 ought to convince anyone otherwise. The writer’s point is this: Since the Old Testament makes it clear that transgression and disobedience met with severe and just punishment, how much more so will equal or greater punishment be rendered under the New Testament, which was revealed by the Lord Jesus Christ Himself!

Both the Old and New Testaments confirm that angels were instrumental in bringing the law (Deut. 33:2; Acts 7:38). The law the angels spoke, primarily the Ten Commandments, was steadfast. That meant that if someone broke the law, the law would break the lawbreaker. The law was inviolable; punishment for breaking it was certain.

“Every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense” (v. 2). “Transgression” refers to stepping across a line—a willful, purposeful sin. “Disobedience,” however, refers to imperfect hearing—the sin of shutting one’s ears to the commands, warnings, and invitations of God. It is a sin of neglect or omission—doing nothing when something should be done.

Hebrews 2:2 also puts to rest the notion that God is not fair. The writer says every sin received “a just recompense.” God, by His very nature, is just. Every punishment He meted out to those who defied Him was a deterrent to the sin He wanted to stop.

God severely punished the nation of Israel because they knew better. That leads to the important principle that punishment is always related to how much truth one knows but rejects. The person who knows the gospel, who has intellectually understood it and believed it, yet drifts away will experience the severest punishment of all.

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer: Ask God to give you an even greater appreciation of the punishment He has saved you from in order to motivate you to pursue the lost more vigorously.

For Further Study: Read Matthew 11:20–24, 12:38–42, and Luke 12:47–48 to discover Christ’s attitude toward those who know the truth and yet rebel against it.[4]


December 21

Our Best Friend

No longer do I call you servants, … but I have called you friends.

John 15:15

all who call Jesus Savior and Lord are invited to be His friend.

What kind of friend is Jesus? He is the best friend you will ever have. He does for us what no one else can do, He helps us in ways no one else can help us, and He loves us as no one else can ever love us.

We may have difficulty seeing Jesus as our Friend, but Jesus doesn’t have any difficulty seeing us that way.[5]


December 21

A Source of Refreshment

Scripture reading: Psalm 32

Key verse: Psalm 62:2

He only is my rock and my salvation;

He is my defense;

I shall not be greatly moved.

It’s hard to contemplate the dog days of summer in the middle of winter, but try to picture this scene. It is the hottest day in July, the humidity is high, and not a breeze is stirring. Then imagine that you are outside running on baking asphalt. Sweat is pouring off your body, and you can’t wait to get to a glass of water. You feel as though you can’t make another step.

That is the feeling that David described as a result of an exhausted conscience: “For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer” (Ps. 32:4 niv).

The most deeply troubling times often have little to do with external circumstances. When the Holy Spirit is nudging your conscience about a sin in your life, and you choose not to respond, the misery you experience inside can be indescribable. Do you recall such a time? Every activity in your day seemed a tiresome chore. You had to expend great emotional energy just to deny that something was wrong in your spirit.

The only cure for this kind of heart sickness is confession and repentance: “Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity … and you forgave the guilt of my sin” (Ps. 32:5 niv). If your spirit is exhausted by running from God, turn to Him for refreshment right now.

Lord, I am exhausted by running from You. I turn to You right now for refreshment.[6]


December 21

Christ’s Virgin Birth

After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit.

Matthew 1:18

The virgin birth is an underlying assumption in everything the Bible says about Jesus. To throw out the virgin birth is to reject Christ’s deity, the accuracy and authority of Scripture, and a host of other related doctrines that are the heart of the Christian faith. No issue is more important than the virgin birth to our understanding of who Jesus is. If we deny that Jesus is God, we have denied the very essence of Christianity. Everything else the Bible teaches about Christ hinges on the truth we celebrate at Christmas—that Jesus is God in human flesh. If the story of His birth is merely a fabricated or trumped–up legend, then so is the rest of what Scripture tells us about Him. The virgin birth is as crucial as the resurrection in substantiating His deity. It is not an optional truth. Anyone who rejects Christ’s deity rejects Christ absolutely—even if he pretends otherwise (see 1 John 4:1–3).[7]


December 21          The Secret to Sustained Peace

scripture reading:

 

Philippians 4:6–7

 

key verse:

 

John 14:27

 

Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

Peace initiatives by various parties and factions capture the attention of the news media almost daily. The terminology of these endeavors has so occupied our front pages, TV screens, and political agendas that we have defined peace as “the absence of conflict.”

Even those of us who toil in the office, farm, or home tend to describe peace in the same manner. Peace is the removal of tension between husband and wife, parents and children, employers and employees.

We know, however, that peace can be elusive, even when such ideal conditions exist. This kind of harmony does not remove the ache, anger, and turmoil that boil within because of frustrated dreams, unreached potential, and disillusioning circumstances.

True peace is not external, not dependent upon the environment. It is internal, springing from your innermost being. This peace comes only through the inner presence of the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ. He can settle your spirit and mind, regardless of external disarray.

If you have been restless and anxious, look to Christ for stability. His initiative at Calvary has brought you peace with God and the peace of God. This peace can never be disturbed.

O Lord, please settle my spirit and mind in the midst of the busyness of this season. Remove the anger and turmoil. Give me true peace.[8]


December 21

True Contentment

Scripture reading: John 4:3–18

Key verses: John 4:13–14

Jesus answered and said to her, “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.”

In talking to the woman at the well, Jesus spoke of life-giving water. The water of the world can never satisfy the God-shaped void that is in the heart of each lost person. However, there is an even starker reality: even after we become believers, the things of the world cannot bring true, lasting contentment. No matter how much money we have, we are never satisfied apart from Jesus Christ.

He waters your heart with His unfailing hope. He fills you with His blessed presence so that you do not fear as the world fears. He comforts you in times of sorrow and holds you close when disappointment and rejection strike. He is your ever-present Savior and Lord.

God does not want you to live a life that feels empty and unrewarding. When you feel either of these, you may end up taking great risks with the hopes that something along the way will fill the void inside. The woman at the well had tried in vain to find true happiness. Yet nothing worked before she met the Savior.

Today, Jesus stands waiting to touch your life with fresh hope. Drink of Him, and be blessed by His unconditional love for you.

Dear Lord, thank You for Your unfailing hope that waters my heart. Thank You for Your presence that alleviates my fears. Thank You for Your comfort in times of sorrow.[9]


December 21

The days of your mourning shall be ended.

Eternal God, Your Word says, in the world I will have tribulation. The whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. And … I also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even I myself groan within myself, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of my body. I who am in this tent groan, being burdened, not because I want to be unclothed, but further clothed, that mortality may be swallowed up by life.

In the vision of the future You showed John the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore they are before Your throne, Lord God, and serve You day and night in Your temple. And You who sit on the throne will dwell among them. They shall neither hunger anymore nor thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any heat; for the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to living fountains of waters. And You, God, will wipe away every tear from their eyes.

Lord, I look forward to the day when You will wipe away every tear from my eyes, as well, when the days of my mourning shall be ended.

Isaiah 60:20; John 16:33; Romans 8:22–23; 2 Corinthians 5:4; Revelation 7:14–17[10]


December 21

The sea wrought, and was tempestuous

Jonah 1:11

Sin in the soul is like Jonah in the ship. It turns the smoothest water into a tempestuous sea.

Selected[11]


 

Confident Faith

 

December 21

 

And now about Lillian. You can do a great deal for her just by being such a rock of goodness yourself that, in her mind, she can always hold to you like an anchor. Don’t pay much attention to her varying emotions or excitements. But hold up a steady standard of right, and bring L. to it. And then, darling, do not, whatever else you do, let yourself be worried or anxious. This is a far greater hinderance to helping than any one yet appreciates. After all, real help is only in the spiritual region, and therefore the spiritual part is the part to keep perfectly right. People often think their anxiety and unhappiness will not hurt people if they refrain from expressing it. But I have found by experience, and I am convinced from philosophy, that the subtle unseen spiritual forces that emanate from our spirits are far more important than the outward tangible influence that we exert consciously.

Therefore you must trust for Lillian. You must hold her to God by the power of your own confident faith; not by your efforts, remember, but by your trust. And perhaps, darling daughter, this may be one of God’s ways of bringing you blessings. We can bring cheer and help into the midst of others sorrow by our cheerful confidence that it will ultimately result in blessing.

Meanwhile, Lillian is not very unhappy. This is a “stage” through which she must pass, I suppose; but she will come out of it when she has developed a little more, and thee can do nothing but wait. Be good yourself that is the principal thing, and keep your nature strong and healthy. Especially avoid being worried or unhappy about L. Do not let thyself lie awake at night to worry about her. Commit her to God, and trust.

I have tried both ways, darling, and I have invariably found that when I trusted about the person who was on my heart I helped them, and when I worried and was unhappy I dragged both them and myself down. All whom I have helped have told me afterwards that it was not half so much what I said or did that helped them, as what I was, my calmness and cheerfulness and hopefulness. It is not saying cheerful and hopeful things that does it but being hopeful and cheerful. And you may help Lillian in this way, for God loves her and has her in His care.

Love Divine, of such great loving

Only mothers know the cost,

Cost of love that, past all loving,

Gave itself to save the lost.

—To Daughter, November 3, 1884[12]


December 21

THE more you know about Christ, the less will you be satisfied with superficial views of Him; and the more deeply you study his life and the fulness of His grace which shines in all His offices, the more truly will you see the King in his beauty. Long more and more to see Jesus. Meditation and contemplation are often like windows of agate, and gates of carbuncle, through which we behold the Redeemer. Meditation puts the telescope to the eye, and enables us to see Jesus better than we could have seen him if we had lived in the days of his flesh. Would that we were more taken up with the person, the work, the beauty of our incarnate Lord.[13]


Day 21

Adoration

I will express the memory of Your abundant goodness

And joyfully sing of Your righteousness.

The Lord is gracious and compassionate,

Slow to anger, and great in lovingkindness.

The Lord is good to all,

And His tender mercies are over all His works. (Psalm 145:7–9)

My Redeemer, the Lord of hosts is Your name;

You are the Holy One of Israel. (Isaiah 47:4)

Pause to express your thoughts of praise and worship.

Confession

Out of the depths I have called to You, O Lord.

O Lord, hear my voice,

And let Your ears be attentive

To the voice of my supplications.

If You, Lord, should mark iniquities,

O Lord, who could stand?

But there is forgiveness with You,

That You may be feared. (Psalm 130:1–4)

Ask the Spirit to search your heart and reveal any areas of unconfessed sin. Acknowledge these to the Lord and thank Him for His forgiveness.

Renewal

If I died with Christ, I believe that I will also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, cannot die again; death no longer has dominion over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. In the same way, may I consider myself to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus. (Romans 6:8–11)

Having begun in the Spirit, may I not seek to be perfected by the flesh. (Galatians 3:3)

Pause to add your own prayers for personal renewal.

Petition

May I not hate my brother in my heart, but reprove my neighbor frankly and not incur sin because of him. (Leviticus 19:17)

May I not take vengeance or bear a grudge against others, but love my neighbor as myself. (Leviticus 19:18)

Family and Ministry

Family

Ministry

Sharing Christ with others

Helping others grow in Him

Career

My activities for this day

Special concerns

Intercession

Finally, brethren, pray for us that the word of the Lord may spread rapidly and be glorified, just as it is with you, and that we may be delivered from perverse and evil men, for not all have faith. (2 Thessalonians 3:1–2)

Missions

Local missions

National missions

World missions

The fulfillment of the Great Commission

Special concerns

Affirmation

If the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did the grace of God and the gift that came by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abound to the many. And the gift of God is not like the result of the one man’s sin, for the judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification. (Romans 5:15–16)

The law was added that the transgression might increase. But where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 5:20–21)

Pause to reflect upon these biblical affirmations.

Thanksgiving

Once I was alienated from God and was an enemy in my mind because of my evil works. But now He has reconciled me by His fleshly body through death to present me holy and blameless in His sight and free from reproach. (Colossians 1:21–22)

My citizenship is in heaven, from which I also eagerly await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform my lowly body and conform it to His glorious body, according to the exertion of His ability to subject all things to Himself. (Philippians 3:20–21)

Pause to offer your own expressions of thanksgiving.

Closing Prayer

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort. (2 Corinthians 1:3)

The God of hope will fill me with all joy and peace as I trust in Him, so that I may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13)[14]


Morning, December 21   

 

“Yet he hath made with me an everlasting covenant.”

— 2 Samuel 23:5

 

This covenant is divine in its origin. “He hath made with me an everlasting covenant.” Oh that great word He! Stop, my soul. God, the everlasting Father, has positively made a covenant with thee; yes, that God who spake the world into existence by a word; he, stooping from his majesty, takes hold of thy hand and makes a covenant with thee. Is it not a deed, the stupendous condescension of which might ravish our hearts for ever if we could really understand it? “he hath made with me a covenant.” A king has not made a covenant with me—that were somewhat; but the Prince of the kings of the earth, Shaddai, the Lord All-sufficient, the Jehovah of ages, the everlasting Elohim, “He hath made with me an everlasting covenant.” But notice, it is particular in its application. “Yet hath he made with me an everlasting covenant.” Here lies the sweetness of it to each believer. It is nought for me that he made peace for the world; I want to know whether he made peace for me! It is little that he hath made a covenant, I want to know whether he has made a covenant with me. Blessed is the assurance that he hath made a covenant with me! If God the Holy Ghost gives me assurance of this, then his salvation is mine, his heart is mine, he himself is mine—he is my God.

 

This covenant is everlasting in its duration. An everlasting covenant means a covenant which had no beginning, and which shall never, never end. How sweet amidst all the uncertainties of life, to know that “the foundation of the Lord standeth sure,” and to have God’s own promise, “My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips.” Like dying David, I will sing of this, even though my house be not so with God as my heart desireth.

 

Evening, December 21

 

“I clothed thee also with broidered work, and shod thee with badgers’ skin, and I girded thee about with fine linen, and I covered thee with silk.”

— Ezekiel 16:10

 

See with what matchless generosity the Lord provides for his people’s apparel. They are so arrayed that the divine skill is seen producing an unrivalled broidered work, in which every attribute takes its part and every divine beauty is revealed. No art like the art displayed in our salvation, no cunning workmanship like that beheld in the righteousness of the saints. Justification has engrossed learned pens in all ages of the church, and will be the theme of admiration in eternity. God has indeed “curiously wrought it.” With all this elaboration there is mingled utility and durability, comparable to our being shod with badgers’ skins. The animal here meant is unknown, but its skin covered the tabernacle, and formed one of the finest and strongest leathers known. The righteousness which is of God by faith endureth for ever, and he who is shod with this divine preparation will tread the desert safely, and may even set his foot upon the lion and the adder. Purity and dignity of our holy vesture are brought out in the fine linen. When the Lord sanctifies his people, they are clad as priests in pure white; not the snow itself excels them; they are in the eyes of men and angels fair to look upon, and even in the Lord’s eyes they are without spot. Meanwhile the royal apparel is delicate and rich as silk. No expense is spared, no beauty withheld, no daintiness denied.

 

What, then? Is there no inference from this? Surely there is gratitude to be felt and joy to be expressed. Come, my heart, refuse not thy evening hallelujah! Tune thy pipes! Touch thy chords!

 

“Strangely, my soul, art thou arrayed

By the Great Sacred Three!

In sweetest harmony of praise

Let all thy powers agree.”[15]


December 21

Consider the Options

Scripture Reading: John 6:53–69

Key Verse: John 6:69

We have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.

Jesus’ earthly ministry up to John 6 mainly focused on healing the sick, teaching about the kingdom of God, and bringing insight to the words of the prophets. However, this changed with the introduction of John 6:53–69: “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life” (vv. 53–54 nasb).

Warren Wiersbe explained, “All Jesus said was, ‘Just as you take food and drink within your body and it becomes a part of you, so you must receive Me within your innermost being so that I can give you life.’ ” Jesus’ words were not meant to be taken literally. They were spiritual in nature and, if heeded, would lead His followers into a closer walk with God.

Realizing that many were turning from Jesus discouraged the disciples. Jesus confronted their fears: “You do not want to go away also, do you?” Peter answered for the group: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life. And we have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God” (vv. 67–69 nasb).

There will come a time in your life when you will have to decide whom you will follow. At times, God’s Word may seem difficult; but remember, He has the larger picture in mind. Can you trust Him as Peter did and say with him, “Lord, You have the words of eternal life, and I believe in You”?

Dear heavenly Father, there are no options for me. I choose Your way. I choose the way of the Word. To whom else can I go? You have the words of eternal life.[16]


December 21

The Message of Christmas

Scripture Reading: Luke 2:1–13

Key Verse: Luke 2:10

Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.”

For the shepherds watching their sheep outside Bethlehem one evening, the sudden sight in front of them was terrifying. A glorious angel shining brightly in the sky was enough to make anyone rub his eyes and take a second look … and run.

But the first words from the angel’s mouth were words to calm their frightened hearts: “Do not be afraid” (Luke 2:10). One of the messages that we learn from the Christmas story is that of peace. While God might appear overwhelming at times, He always wants to give us the assurance that with Him, peace reigns, even in the announcement of His Son’s birth.

The peace we receive from the Christmas message calms our hearts, letting us know everything will be all right as long as we trust God. However, it also includes a message of peace that assures us that Jesus and His methods of teaching were all designed to draw us to the heavenly Father.

Jesus’ birth was no different. Salvation would soon be realized for all mankind. Some people have never heard the message of Christmas. They don’t understand its purpose. When we tell them, they might get frightened. However, like God desired to assure the shepherds that there was no need to fear, He gives us the peace we need to submit to Him.

Dear Father, You laid Your mighty plan of salvation before a humble band of shepherds. Thank you that those who humble themselves before You receive those same good tidings today![17]


December 21

The Greater Message

Luke 10:20

Do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven.

I read about a group of short-term missionaries who recently held evangelistic meetings in Africa. During those meetings, these believers reported, a blind man miraculously received his sight. When the believers came back to report to the sending churches, that was just about all they could talk about. Yet during those same meetings, many embraced Jesus Christ as Savior and found eternal salvation. Many stepped out of spiritual blindness into the light of God’s kingdom. But that news always seemed to receive second billing to “the miracle.”

If we could only view these things as God does! The message of reconciliation meets the basic needs of every man and woman, every boy and girl. In miracles, only God’s power and goodness are revealed, but in conversion, God’s grace is revealed—something that causes even the angels to look over the rampart of heaven in wonder (1 Peter 1:12).

The message of the saving grace of God is the greater message. The death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ have given to us in this generation the greatest message that has ever been communicated to any people. Anywhere. At any time. Period.[18]


December 21st

Experience or revelation

We have received … the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. 1 Cor. 2:12.

Reality is Redemption, not my experience of Redemption; but Redemption has no meaning for me until it speaks the language of my conscious life. When I am born again, the Spirit of God takes me right out of myself and my experiences, and identifies me with Jesus Christ. If I am left with my experiences, my experiences have not been produced by Redemption. The proof that they are produced by Redemption is that I am led out of myself all the time; I no longer pay any attention to my experiences as the ground of Reality, but only to the Reality which produced the experiences. My experiences are not worth anything unless they keep me at the Source, Jesus Christ.

If you try to dam up the Holy Spirit in you to produce subjective experiences, you will find that He will burst all bounds and take you back again to the historic Christ. Never nourish an experience which has not God as its Source, and faith in God as its result. If you do, your experience is anti-Christian, no matter what visions you may have had. Is Jesus Christ Lord of your experiences, or do you try to lord it over Him? Is any experience dearer to you than your Lord? He must be Lord over you, and you must not pay attention to any experience over which He is not Lord. There comes a time when God will make you impatient with your own experience—‘I do not care what I experience; I am sure of Him.’

Be ruthless with yourself if you are given to talking about the experiences you have had. Faith that is sure of itself is not faith; faith that is sure of God is the only faith there is.[19]


 

December 21

 

Jesus Is Savior and Lord

 

“God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name … that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.”

Philippians 2:9, 11

✧✧✧

The Jesus who is Savior cannot be separated from the Jesus who is Lord.

Scripture never speaks of any human being’s making Jesus Lord. It is God who made Him Lord (Acts 2:36). Yet we often read statements such as this: “It is imperative to trust Christ as personal Savior and be born again. But that is only the first decision. Trusting Christ as Savior and then making Him Lord are two separate and distinct decisions. The two decisions may be close or distant in time. Salvation must always precede lordship. But it is possible to be saved without ever making Christ Lord of your life.” In effect that is saying Christ isn’t Lord unless we give Him permission—a completely unbiblical assertion. To be saved you must confess Jesus as Lord.

Jesus is called Lord throughout the New Testament. To omit the lordship of Christ from invitations to salvation would result in the elimination of numerous passages of Scripture. Peter’s sermon in Acts 2—“Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Acts 2:21)—would need to be modified. Paul and Silas’ method of presenting the gospel—“Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you shall be saved” (Acts 16:31)—would need to be corrected.

The centrality of the lordship of Christ is clear in the New Testament gospel. The Jesus who is Savior cannot be separated from the Jesus who is Lord. God cannot be separated from His authority, dominion, rulership, and right to command. When we acknowledge that Jesus is God, we mean He is all that God is.

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer: Worship the Lord Jesus Christ, using Psalm 8, a Messianic psalm, as the basis of your prayer.

For Further Study: Jesus is called Lord over 700 times in the New Testament. Use a Bible concordance as a handy way to check some of these many references to Christ as Lord.[20]


December 21.—Morning. [Or December 9.] “The day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night.”

2 Peter 3

THIS second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance:

That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour:

3, 4 Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. (They insinuate that there is no God, or that if there be he takes no interest in the affairs of men, or else surely he would have come to judge his enemies long ere this.)

5, 6 For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished:

They wilfully forget that there was one grand interposition of vengeance, and therefore it is not altogether true that the machinery of nature has from time immemorial moved on regardless of human sin. Once by water has the world been destroyed, and by another element it shall soon be overwhelmed.

7, 8 But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.

The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is long-suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

He waits that men may wait on him. He gives the race space to repent; but, alas, it abuses his longsuffering!

10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.

11 Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness,

12 Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?

13 Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.

14–16 Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless. And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction. (Good doctrine can be twisted to bad purposes. This is not the fault of the doctrine, but of the foolish or wicked minds which pervert it. We must not neglect the study of those great truths which Paul treats of, for it is the ignorant who wrest them, and therefore we should not be of the number. If we are well acquainted with the deep things of God we shall, by God’s grace, be all the less likely to abuse them.)

17 Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness.

18 But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.

Jesus, thy church with longing eyes,

For thy expected coming waits;

When will the promised light arise,

And glory beam from Zion’s gates?

Yes, thou wilt speedily appear;

The smitten earth already reels;

And, not far off, we seem to hear

The thunder of thy chariot wheels.

Teach us, in watchfulness and prayer,

To wait for the appointed hour,

And fit us by thy grace to share

The triumphs of thy conquering power.

December 21.—Evening. [Or December 10.] “Truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.”

1 John 1

THE apostle John plunges at once into his subject, and begins to discourse upon the Word made flesh, in whom his soul delighted.

1–3 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;) That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. (How strong are John’s expressions as to the certainty of our Lord’s having appeared in the flesh. He had been heard, seen, studiously observed, and actually touched; his appearing was no fiction or pious legend, but a sure matter of fact, and he who appeared was none other than Jesus, the eternal life.)

And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full. (Fellowship with Jesus and joy lie so closely together, that the apostle could aim at both at the same time.)

This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.

These little words contain a mint of meaning. What a wondrous sentence,—“God is light!”

6, 7 If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. (Only in truth and holiness can we have fellowship with God, and to render this possible to such sinful creatures as we are, the precious blood of Jesus must purge us from sin. Have we all been cleansed by it?)

8–10 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. (God only acts according to the truth, he will meet us as sinners, for that is our true character; but if we claim to be innocent, he cannot admit that falsehood, and will not commune with us.)

1 John 2:1–11

MY little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: (This one sentence is worth the whole of the kingdoms of the world.)

And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for our’s only, but also for the sins of the whole world. (He did not die for Jews alone, but to all races the way of salvation is opened by his atoning blood.)

And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. (Our life and conversation are to ourselves as well as to others the best evidence as to our state.)

4, 5 He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him.

He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.

7, 8 Brethren, I write no new commandment unto you, but an old commandment which ye had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which ye have heard from the beginning. Again, a new commandment I write unto you, which thing is true in him and in you: because the darkness is past, and the true light now shineth. (The love of our brother is in one sense an old command, for it is the substance of the second table of the law; but the gospel sets it in a new light beneath the cross, and binds us to keep it by new and powerful obligations.)

9–11 He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now. He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him. But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes. (Hatred is darkness, love is light; the revengeful man is an heir of eternal midnight. Let us purge ourselves from all anger, malice, and envy, for these are evils of the darkest dye.)[21]


Reading for Today:

Micah 6:1–7:20
Psalm 145:10-16
Proverbs 30:15
Revelation 11:1-19
Notes:

Micah 6:6,7 Micah, as though speaking on behalf of the people, asked rhetorically how, in light of God’s faithfulness toward them, they could continue their hypocrisy by being outwardly religious but inwardly sinful.

Micah 6:8 Micah’s terse response indicated the people should have known the answer to the rhetorical question. Spiritual blindness had led them to offer everything except the one thing He wanted—a spiritual commitment of the heart from which right behavior would ensue (Deut. 10:12–19; Matt. 22:37–39). This theme is often represented in the Old Testament (1 Sam.15:22; Is. 1:11–20; Jer. 7:21–23; Hos. 6:6; Amos 5:15).

Revelation 11:7 the beast. The first of 36 references to this person in Revelation, who is none other than the Antichrist (see chap. 13). That he will ascend out of the bottomless pit indicates that his power is satanic. kill them. Their ministry completed, God will withdraw the two witnesses’ supernatural protection. The beast will then be able to accomplish what many had died trying to do.

Revelation 11:13 earthquake. God punctuates the ascension of His prophets with a shattering earthquake. The destruction and loss of life may be primarily among the leaders of the Antichrist’s forces. the rest. This refers to the Jews still living, who will not yet have come to faith in Christ. gave glory to the God of heaven. A genuine experience of the salvation of Jews (Luke 17:18, 19), in contrast to those who blaspheme and refuse to glorify God (16:9). This makes a key fulfillment of Zechariah’s prophecy (12:10; 13:1) and Paul’s (Rom. 11:25–27).

DAY 21: Who are the “two witnesses” of Revelation 11?

In v. 3, John is told that “I will give power to my two witnesses.” These individuals are granted special power and authority by God to preach a message of judgment and salvation during the second half of the Tribulation. The Old Testament required 2 or more witnesses to confirm testimony (Deut. 17:6; 19:15; Matt. 18:16; John 8:17; Heb. 10:28), and these 2 prophets will be the culmination of God’s testimony to Israel: a message of judgment from God and of His gracious offer of the gospel to all who will repent and believe. “They will prophesy one thousand two hundred and sixty days,” which is 42 months or 3 1/2 years, “clothed in sackcloth.” Coarse, rough cloth made from goat or camel hair. Wearing garments made from it expressed penitence, humility, and mourning. The witnesses are mourning because of the wretched wickedness of the world, God’s judgment on it, and the desecration of the temple and the holy city by the Antichrist.

The imagery in v. 4 is drawn from Zechariah 3, 4. Zechariah’s vision had both a near fulfillment (the rebuilding of the temple by Joshua and Zerubbabel) and a far future fulfillment (the 2 witnesses, whose ministry points toward Israel’s final restoration in the Millennium). “Two olive trees and the two lampstands.” Olive oil was commonly used in lamps; together the olive trees and lampstands symbolize the light of spiritual revival. The 2 witnesses’ preaching will spark a revival, just as Joshua’s and Zerubbabel’s did in Israel after the Babylonian captivity.

While it is impossible to be dogmatic about the identity of these 2 witnesses, several observations from vv. 5, 6 suggest they might be Moses and Elijah: 1) like Moses, they strike the earth with plagues, and like Elijah, they have the power to keep it from raining; 2) Jewish tradition expected both Moses (Deut. 18:15–18) and Elijah (Mal. 4:5, 6) to return in the future (John 1:21); 3) both Moses and Elijah were present at the Transfiguration, the preview of Christ’s Second Coming; 4) both Moses and Elijah used supernatural means to provoke repentance; 5) Elijah was taken up alive into heaven, and God buried Moses’ body where it would never be found; and 6) the length of the drought the 2 witnesses bring (3 1/2 years) is the same as that brought by Elijah (James 5:17).

From The MacArthur Daily Bible Copyright © 2003. Used by permission of Thomas Nelson Bibles, a division of Thomas Nelson, Inc, Nashville, TN 37214, http://www.thomasnelson.com.


December 21 – God’s Kingdom Must Be Personally Appropriated

“‘The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid again’” (Matthew 13:44).

Jesus’ concise but profound parables of the hidden treasure and the pearl of great value show us that, above all, we must personally appropriate God’s kingdom. People automatically at birth become members of their parents’ family and country, but such natural inheritance doesn’t apply regarding the kingdom.

Everyone is under God’s dominion because they live on the earth, which is under His sovereign control. And if unbelievers associate with believers, they can potentially enjoy many kingdom benefits. But if an unbeliever attends a biblical church, enjoys sound preaching, and gets baptized, he or she is not necessarily a kingdom citizen. More often than not, such are “sons of the kingdom [who] will be cast out into the outer darkness” where “there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matt. 8:12)—in other words, they are not really children of God.

Paul reminds his readers, Jews in particular, “They are not all Israel who are descended from Israel; nor are they all children because they are Abraham’s descendants” (Rom. 9:6–7). Even during the Old Testament era one could be Jewish—fully identified with God’s people racially, nationally, and religiously—and still not be a member of the true spiritual Israel.

Similarly, you can be a member of a family that has had membership in a good church for many generations and yet not be part of Christ’s true church. Being born into a godly family does not make you a believer. Under the Spirit’s guidance, you must personally decide to trust Jesus as Lord and Savior.

Ask Yourself

Here toward the end of the year, settle this issue in your heart once and for all. You can live with the full assurance of your salvation by surrendering your life to Christ—repenting of your sins and believing in His sacrifice on your behalf. Don’t live another day unsure.

From Daily Readings from the Life of Christ, Vol. 1, John MacArthur. Copyright © 2008. Used by permission of Moody Publishers, Chicago, IL 60610, http://www.moodypublishers.com.


Sun, December 21, 2014
Unbegotten Love!
In the poetical works of Frederick Faber I have found a hymn to the Holy Spirit that I would rank among the finest ever written, but so far as I know it has not been set to music, or if it has, it is not sung today in any church with which I am acquainted. Could the reason be that it embodies personal experience of the Holy Spirit so deep, so intimate, so fiery hot that it corresponds to nothing in the hearts of the worshipers in present-day evangelicalism? I quote three stanzas:

Fountain of Love! Thyself true God!

Who through eternal days

From Father and from Son hast flowed

In uncreated ways!

I dread Thee, Unbegotten Love!

True God! sole Fount of Grace!

And now before Thy blessed throne

My sinful self abase.

O Light! O Love! O very God

I dare no longer gaze

Upon Thy wondrous attributes

And their mysterious ways.

These lines have everything to make a great hymn, sound theology, smooth structure, lyric beauty, high compression of profound ideas and a full charge of lofty religious feeling. Yet they are in complete neglect. I believe that a mighty resurgence of the Spirit’s power among us will open again wells of hymnody long forgotten. For song can never bring the Holy Spirit, but the Holy Spirit does invariably bring song.

Verse
Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
2 Corinthians 3:17

Thought
Song can never bring the Holy Spirit, but the Holy Spirit does invariably bring song.

Prayer
O Light, O Love, O very God, Holy Spirit, bring a new song to our hearts!

A. W. Tozer


LORD’S PRAYER: Your Will be Done

4
Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

And as an evidence that your kingdom comes, and in order to the sanctifying of your name, Father in heaven, let your holy will be done. We know, O LORD, that whatever you please, that you do in heaven and on earth, in the seas and all deeps; Psalm 135:6(ESV) your counsel shall stand, and you will accomplish all your purpose: Isaiah 46:10(ESV) Even so let it be, Holy Father, not our will, but yours, be done. Luke 22:42(ESV) As you have planned, so let it be, and as you have purposed, so let it stand. Isaiah 14:24(ESV) Do all according to the counsel of your will. Ephesians 1:11(ESV) Make even those to serve your purposes who have not known you, and who do not so intend, nor do their hearts so think. Isaiah 10:7(ESV)

Father, let your will be done concerning us and ours: 1 Samuel 3:12(ESV) Behold, here we are; it is the LORD, let him do to us what seems good to him; 1 Samuel 3:18(ESV) let the will of the Lord be done. Acts 21:14(ESV) O give us to submit to your will in conformity to the example of the Lord Jesus who said, “Not as I will, but as you will”; Matthew 26:39(ESV) and to say, “The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD. Job 1:21(ESV) Shall we receive good from the Lord, and shall we not receive evil also?” Job 2:10(ESV)

Father, let the Scriptures be fulfilled; the Scriptures of the prophets, Matthew 26:56(ESV) which cannot be broken. John 10:35(ESV) Though heaven and earth pass away, let not an iota, not a dot, of your word pass away. Matthew 5:18(ESV) Do what is written in the book of truth, Daniel 10:21(ESV) and let it appear that forever, O LORD, your word is firmly fixed in the heavens. Psalm 119:89(ESV)

Matthew Henry’s Method for Prayer


[1] Osbeck, K. W. (1996). Amazing grace: 366 inspiring hymn stories for daily devotions (pp. 380–381). Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications.

[2] Barry, J. D., & Kruyswijk, R. (2012). Connect the Testaments: A One-Year Daily Devotional with Bible Reading Plan. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[3] Venditti, L., & Venditti, N. (2012). Daily Treasures from the Word of God. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

[4] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 368). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

[5] Stanley, C. F. (2004). God’s way day by day (p. 378). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[6] Stanley, C. F. (2002). Seeking His face (p. 372). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[7] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 382). Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman.

[8] Stanley, C. F. (1998). Enter His gates: a daily devotional. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[9] Stanley, C. F. (2000). Into His presence (p. 372). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[10] Jeremiah, D. (2007). Life-Changing Moments With God (p. 380). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[11] Hardman, S. G., & Moody, D. L. (1997). Thoughts for the quiet hour. Willow Grove, PA: Woodlawn Electronic Publishing.

[12] Smith, H. W., & Dieter, M. E. (1997). The Christian’s secret of a holy life: the unpublished personal writings of Hannah Whitall Smith. Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

[13] Spurgeon, C. H. (1892). Daily Help (p. 359). Baltimore: R. H. Woodward & Company.

[14] Boa, K. (1993). Handbook to prayer: praying scripture back to God. Atlanta: Trinity House.

[15] Spurgeon, C. H. (2006). Morning and evening: Daily readings (Complete and unabridged; New modern edition.). Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers.

[16] Stanley, C. F. (1999). On holy ground (p. 372). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[17] Stanley, C. F. (2006). Pathways to his presence (p. 372). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[18] Jeremiah, D. (2002). Sanctuary: finding moments of refuge in the presence of God (p. 372). Nashville, TN: Integrity Publishers.

[19] Chambers, O. (1986). My utmost for his highest: Selections for the year. Grand Rapids, MI: Oswald Chambers Publications; Marshall Pickering.

[20] MacArthur, J. (1997). Strength for today. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

[21] Spurgeon, C. H. (2009). The Interpreter: Spurgeon’s Devotional Bible (pp. 752–753). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Originally posted on Possessing the Treasure:

by Mike Ratliff

11 “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matthew 5:11-12 NASB)

Christian apologetics and discernment are very serious things. It is very easy to incorporate the ways of the world into method and focus in this. When this happens then attacks on professing Christians come from an impure motive. This then causes the ones making the accusations to use slander, speaking evil against their target falsely. They revile the Christian, persecuting him and his ministry using innuendo. They have no real evidence that their accusations are true. Guilt by association is their bludgeon and their usage is meant to deceive many into believing their false report. How are…

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Had any other condition been better for you than the one you are in, Divine Love would have put you there. —C.H. Spurgeon

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America Just Lost It’s Very First Cyber-War With Sony Pictures Hack

US official states that North Korea responsible for hacking of Sony over The Interview film

Sony Pictures underwent a massive breach of their online systems in November, resulting in incredible embarrassment and the cancellation of various scheduled movie premiers.

sony-pictures-north-korea-china-interview-seth-rogan-hacked-america-lost-first-cyber-war

 

Most analysts say it was North Korea who did the hacking to stop the movie “The Interview” from being released, and today various US experts say North Korea was aided by China. In any event, the fallout has been catastrophic on many levels.

Lost Revenue

Variety reported that Sony stands to lose upwards of $75 million on the cancelled release of “The Interview” alone. That figure includes the $44 million that Sony spent producing the film, as well as the $30 million it shelled out to promote it, according to two people with knowledge of the matter. One of those sources said that Sony had originally planned on spending $36 million to market the picture domestically and was eight days away from premiering it in theaters when it was shelved. That meant most of its billboards, posters, other promotional materials and TV ad spend were already in place.

Lost Standing

The Telegraph UK reports that the hackers who launched a cyber-attack on Sony Pictures praised the company’s decision to cancel the release of The Interview on Friday and said its data will be secure if they continue to comply, CNN reported.

It’s very wise that you have made a decision to cancel the release of ‘The Interview,’” the message said, according to CNN. “We ensure the security of your data unless you make additional trouble.”

Meanwhile, George Clooney started a petition calling for The Interview to be released immediately online, saying “we cannot be told we can’t see something by Kim Jong-un, of all —-ing people”.

The Hollywood star said it was “insane” that North Korea has been allowed to “dictate content”. “We should be in the position right now of going on offence with this,” Clooney told the Deadline on Thursday.

Where is the FBI in all this, or the CIA? President Obama vowed a “US response” to the action by North Korea, but if it’s anything like his “response” to the Benghazi terror attack on 9.11.12, we will be waiting a long, long time. “We will respond,” Mr Obama told reporters on Friday, declining to offer specifics. “We will respond proportionately and in a space, time and manner that we choose.”

The rest of the world is watching, and should Obama choose his usual socialist-passive response to this egregious act, then expect the number of cyber-attacks against America to skyrocket.

The post America Just Lost It’s Very First Cyber-War With Sony Pictures Hack appeared first on Now The End Begins.


ISIS Harvesting Human Organs From Live Hostages For Sale On Black Market

IS is hiring foreign doctors to harvest organs in hospitals in Iraq and Syria

The Islamic State has turned its hand to human organ trafficking to fund terror across the Middle East, it has been claimed. The jihadist group has until now filled its $2million-a-year war chest from a variety of shadowy sources including oil production, human trafficking and drug smuggling.

isis-harvesting-human-organs-from-live-hostages-for-sale-black-market

But it was revealed today that it has been recruiting foreign doctors for months to harvest the internal organs not only from the bodies of their own dead fighters but also from living hostages – including children – snatched from minority communities in Iraq and Syria.

The report went on: ‘Surgeries take place within a hospital and organs are quickly transported through networks specialized in trafficking human organs. Mosuli said that the organs come from fallen fighters who were quickly transported to the hospital, injured people who were abandoned or individuals who were kidnapped.’

Most of the organs are then smuggled out of Syria and Iraq into neighboring countries like Saudi Arabia or Turkey where criminal gangs sell them on to shady buyers across the globe, the Assyrian International News Agency reported.

Read the rest of the story on Daily Mail UK…

 

The post ISIS Harvesting Human Organs From Live Hostages For Sale On Black Market appeared first on Now The End Begins.


Obama’s Attorney General Eric Holder Declares Being Transgendered To Be A ‘Civil Right’

Attorney General Holder announced today that the Department of Justice will take the position in litigation that the protection of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 extends to claims of discrimination based on an individual’s gender identity, including transgender status.

“Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.” 1 Corinthians 6:9,10

WARNING! Protecting Pedophiles Will Be Next: NYT writer: Pedophilic attraction a ‘mental disability’ that should be protected in law

Attorney General Holder informed all Department of Justice component heads and United States Attorneys in a memo that the department will no longer assert that Title VII’s prohibition against discrimination based on sex excludes discrimination based on gender identity per se, including transgender discrimination, reversing a previous Department of Justice position.  Title VII makes it unlawful for employers to discriminate in the employment of an individual “because of such individual’s…sex,” among other protected characteristics.

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“This important shift will ensure that the protections of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 are extended to those who suffer discrimination based on gender identity, including transgender status,” said Attorney General Holder.  “This will help to foster fair and consistent treatment for all claimants.  And it reaffirms the Justice Department’s commitment to protecting the civil rights of all Americans.”

The Attorney General’s memo is designed to foster consistent treatment of claimants throughout the government and reduce confusion.  In addition to applying to the department’s civil obligations in defending federal interests, this memo clarifies the Civil Rights Division’s ability to file Title VII claims against state and local public employers on behalf of transgender individuals.  The Department of Justice does not have authority to file suit against private employers.

The post Obama’s Attorney General Eric Holder Declares Being Transgendered To Be A ‘Civil Right’ appeared first on Now The End Begins.


Weekly Watchman

RECENT POSTS:

How did Christians Destroy Conservatism?

Is America in Serious Decline? What Should Christians Do About it?

The forecast calls for heat

Sharing truth and holding opinions lightly

Blocked from @Rick Warren on Twitter

A Duty To Resist

Gender Chaos: The Insanity (and Impossibility) of “Sex Change”

Of students and teachers


How did Christians Destroy Conservatism?
Dec 19, 2014 07:06 am | Scott Alan Buss

How did we end up with “conservatives” defending everything from Social Security and Medicare to State-controlled children’s “education”, which is straight out of the Communist Manifesto? How did we get a supposedly “right wing” political movement in America that is effortlessly molded and mobilized in support of one explicitly Socialist/Marxist policy after another, all while most of its members […]

The post How did Christians Destroy Conservatism? appeared first on Stand Up For The Truth.

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Is America in Serious Decline? What Should Christians Do About it?
Dec 19, 2014 06:55 am | mlemay

Six years ago Barack Obama became President of the United States and he promised to fundamentally transform the United States of America. Now regardless of what you think of the President’s policies, you cannot argue that he has been successful in his promise to fundamentally transform our nation in many aspects. If you lean progressive […]

The post Is America in Serious Decline? What Should Christians Do About it? appeared first on Stand Up For The Truth.

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The forecast calls for heat
Dec 18, 2014 08:33 am | A.Spreeman

If you are someone who keeps up with news headlines and what’s going on with world governments, you probably have some theories about what will happen in the near future as we see those “chess pieces” moving. So today we’re asking all of us, “What should Christians look forward to in 2015 politically, socially and […]

The post The forecast calls for heat appeared first on Stand Up For The Truth.

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Sharing truth and holding opinions lightly
Dec 17, 2014 01:05 pm | A.Spreeman

As the famous 1980s theologians 38 Special sang, “Hold on loosely, but don’t let go.” It’s not easy sharing the Truth of God’s Word in a world that doesn’t want to hear it. It’s even harder sharing truth with those who have a religion but not an understanding.  We know that the Bible is God’s […]

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Blocked from @Rick Warren on Twitter
Dec 16, 2014 12:48 pm | A.Spreeman

Last night I saw a Facebook post about something that Pastor Rick Warren had tweeted. I haven’t looked at the pastor’s tweets in a while, so I clicked on the link, and found this: Curious indeed. I don’t interact with @Rick Warren, and the last time I posted anything with his name on it would […]

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A Duty To Resist
Dec 16, 2014 08:46 am | A.Spreeman

A little later we are going to respond to an email we got at the end of the program yesterday from Therese, who shared: I have been told I am losing my joy in the Lord because I have Been trying to wake up my family to the wolves in the church. We promised we’d […]

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Gender Chaos: The Insanity (and Impossibility) of “Sex Change”
Dec 15, 2014 07:35 pm | Scott Alan Buss

One of the more, um, flamboyant manifestations of the wrath of God pouring out upon a proud, unrepentant America, is our culture’s embrace of an “anything goes” approach to sexuality, which has metastasized into an anything goes attitude on the very concept of gender itself. We see it everywhere – in Starbucks commercials, Apple ads, […]

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Of students and teachers
Dec 15, 2014 08:52 am | A.Spreeman

Today we’re talking about the new normal for public school students, and the strange case of one teacher who went off the doctrinal rails a couple years ago. Up first,  student surveillance, and spying on our kids. plus training teachers to teach about racism and Ferguson, and a new twist on school lunch policies. We’ll […]

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TGC Spotlight 12.19.14

http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/tgc-spotlight-12.19.14

TGC Spotlight highlights TGC articles from earlier in the week, previews articles coming next week, and links to items around the web that you might have missed. 

Around the Web

President Obama Announces Changes in U.S.-Cuban Relations

Yesterday, President Obama announced that, “the United States of America is changing its relationship with the people of Cuba.” He instructed Secretary Kerry to immediately begin discussions with Cuba to reestablish diplomatic relations that have been severed since 1961. High-ranking officials will visit Cuba and the U.S. will reestablish an embassy in Havana. He also instructed Secretary Kerry to review Cuba’s designation as a State Sponsor of Terrorism.

The President also says the U.S. will take steps to increase travel, commerce, and the flow of information to and from Cuba. Americans who travel to Cuba will be able to use American credit and debit cards on the island. U.S. financial institutions will be allowed to open accounts at Cuban financial institutions and exporters will be able to sell goods to the country.

Here are a few answer to questions about the policy change.

Can the President do all that?

Sort of. The president controls the State Department, but the Congress controls the money. Senator Rubio (R-FL) has said that he’ll do everything he can to block funding for a Cuban embassy and prevent an ambassador from being selected.

The trade embargo between the U.S. and Cuba also cannot be lifted without congressional approval. The executive branch has the authority under current law merely to issue licenses that permit US citizens and corporations to do business with Cuba, travel there, and send money to family members there.

Why the change now, after 50 years?

President Obama has wanted to normalize relations with Cuba since he took office. But according to news reports, the surprise announcement came at the end of 18 months of secret talks that produced a prisoner swap negotiated with the help of Pope Francis.

The United States sent back three imprisoned Cuban spies who were caught in 1998. They were traded for Rolando Sarraf Trujillo, a Cuban who had worked as an agent for American intelligence and had been in a Cuban prison for nearly 20 years.

Why is there an embargo?

The U.S. began imposing sanctions against Cuba after Fidel Castro seized power in 1959, nationalized the economy, and stole more than $1 billion in American assets on the island.

Diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba broke off in 1961 as tensions between the two nations increased after Cuba signed a trade agreement with the Soviet Union. Even though the Cold War ended, not much has changed in the relationship between Cuba and the U.S.

What does the embargo do?

The embargo prevents American companies from doing business in Cuba and prohibits most Americans from traveling directly there or spending money as tourists,

Will this change have an impact on the U.S. economy?

Not really. Cuba’s economy is too small to have much impact (at an estimated GDP of $71 billion, it’s about half the state of Iowa’s economy).

Quick Takes

• In case you missed it, Collin Hansen outlined the TGC initiatives of the years and listed his 10 favorite resources from 2014.

• How would humanity feed itself if a super-volcanic eruption blocked out the sun for five years? Here’s one answer: “We can convert existing fossil fuels to food by growing bacteria on top of it—then either eat the bacterial slime or feed it to rats and bugs and then eat them.”

• Christianity Today released their book awards for 2014.  A lot of great books, many from friends of TGC.

• Think Xmas means Christ-less? No so. R.C. Sproul explains what the X in Xmas really means.
(For even more links, see the “Remainder Bin” at the end of this post.)

Featured TGC Articles

Eat the Law and Live | William Ross

Paul says the law brings death (Rom. 7:10). So why does Psalm 19:7 portray God’s law as spiritually nourishing food? Could it be that God’s law is the answer for much of our spiritual malnourishment?

TGC Staff Cite Best Books From 2014 | Matt Smethurst

Still Christmas shopping? TGC staff members cite their favorite books from 2014.

How To Ruin a Moses Movie | Joe Carter

Here are few lessons Scott can teach future generations of filmmakers about how to ruin a movie about Moses.

3 Christmas Pitfalls For Parents | Lindsey Carlson,

If you’re looking to make a change in your children’s hearts this year, start by examining and humbling your own.

The Sacred-Secular Divide is Pure Fiction | Bethany Jenkins

It is pure fiction to say that there is a sacred-secular divide in our vocations because we all have on baptism, one gospel, and one faith.

Featured TGC Contributor Articles

How to Use the Back of a Napkin to Prove to a Jehovah’s Witness That Jesus Is God | Justin Taylor

Years ago I read the following simple but effective illustration from Greg Koukl on how to use a napkin, a pen, and a Bible verse to show a Jehovah’s Witness that Scripture teaches (even in their own translation) that Jesus must be God.

Top Ten Books of 2014 | Kevin DeYoung

This list is not meant to assess the thousands of Christian books published each year, let alone every interesting book published in 2014. I read a lot of books, but there are plenty of worthy titles that I never touch (and never hear of).

 

My 10 Favorite Reads of 2014 | Trevin Wax

Every December, I select the ten books that I most enjoyed reading during the year. I am not claiming these are the most important books of 2014 (since many weren’t even published this year).

 

A Model of Charity, Clarity and Courage in Pastoral Care | Thabiti Anyabwile

We pastors often find ourselves speaking during troublesome and difficult times. We address biblical texts with thorny truths that offend people. We appear at bedsides to comfort the dying and the grieving. We sometimes get called upon to help the wider community navigate calamity and crisis. Pastors speak. And there are times when not speaking amounts to a dereliction of duty.

 

Jesus is the Fulfillment and the Fulfiller | Ray Ortlund

Old Testament prophecy . . . needed only the coming of the One in whom all the prophecies of the Old Testament would be fulfilled, in whom all those themes of hope in the Old Testament would be gathered up and realized, the Fulfillment and the Fulfiller. . .

 

An Advent Prayer: The Weakness, Paradox, and Glory of Jesus’ Birth | Scotty Smith

Dear Lord Jesus, I am so thankful you came to fulfill everything mentioned in these hope-saturated words from Isaiah; and I’m in awe, once again, as I reflect on your humble entrance into our world. The contrast between your birthing and calling is staggering.

 

A Hymn | Jared C. Wilson

The LORD our God is Lord of Hosts. He holds all time within his hand. The Father, Son, and Holy Ghost From all eternity will stand.

 

Coming Next Week at TGC

Joy to the World: A Christmas Hymn Reconsidered | Alyssa Poblete

Alyssa Poblete invites readers to interpret the class Christmas hymn ‘Joy to the World’ as an ode to Christ’s second coming, not his first.

 

Two Disgraced Women Who Changed the World | Rob Schwarzwalder

Rob Schwarzwalder on how Elizabeth and Mary changed the world.

 

Why You Should Read Bavinck | Derek Rishmawy

Derek Rishmawy offers six reasons you should read Herman Bavinck’s ‘Reformed Dogmatics.’

 

Upcoming Events

Albuquerque Regional Conference (March 20-22, 2015)

Assembled Under the Word: Preaching and Christ. Speakers include Alistair Begg, D.A. Carson, and David Helm.

2015 National Conference (April 1-15, 2015)

Heading Home: A New Heaven and a New Earth. Speakers include Tim Keller, D.A. Carson, John Piper, Mark Dever, Voddie Baucham, Philip G. Ryken, Ligon Duncan, and many others.

Remainder Bin

American Culture

Why aren’t there more babies? Cable TV access reduces fertility rates
Siri Srinivas, The Guardian

The US fertility rate is dropping, threatening future economic growth. But economists can only guess at the reason.

Iowa developing driver’s licence app
BBC

The US state of Iowa is developing an application to put residents’ driver’s licences on mobile devices.

What happened to work in America?
James Pethokoukis, AEI Ideas

The share of American men 25 to 54 years old who are not working has more than tripled since the late 1960s to 16%.

How modern art became trapped by its urge to shock
Roger Scruton, BBC

There are two kinds of untruth – lying and faking. The person who is lying says what he does not believe. The person who is faking says what he or she believes, though only for the time being and for the purpose in hand, writes Roger Scruton.

Bioethics

UK: Rules for babies ‘from three people’
James Gallagher, BBC

The rules for creating babies from three people – which state only two would be classed as parents – have been announced by the UK government.

If Fetal Surgery Can Save the Life of an Unborn Child, Why Do Some Oppose It?
Gabriella Morrongiello, The Daily Signal

Roughly three percent of babies born each year in the United States suffer from a complex birth defect, according to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

Why the Abortion Rate Is the Lowest It’s Been Since 1973
Ryan T. Anderson , The Daily Signal

The abortion rate keeps dropping. The latest numbers from the CDC, released last week, show that the abortion rate is the lowest it’s been since 1973, the year the Supreme Court manufactured a constitutional right to abortion in Roe v. Wade.

Justices Let Stand a Ruling Blocking an Arizona Abortion Law
Adam Liptak, New York Times

The Supreme Court on Monday let stand a decision temporarily blocking an Arizona law that limits the availability of medicinal, nonsurgical abortions. As is its custom when it denies review, the court gave no reasons for its action.

Christianity and Culture

Racism Alone? – Reflections on the Current National Divide
Carl F. Ellis, Prophets of Culture

Some claim that these killings demonstrate the existence of racist structures that permeate our society. Others claim that these killings resulted from criminal behavior or “a lack of personal responsibility.” While both positions point to contributing factors, they both continue to ignore the elephant in the room, namely culture – a factor that dwarfs the previous two.

What Do Evangelical Professors Do, Anyway?
Owen Strachan, Patheos

I have a suggestion for a fun question you could throw out at your annual Christmas party. “Professors,” you could say vaguely. “What is it they do, anyway?”

A Black Church Wins the Hearts of Whites in Harlem
Samuel G. Freedman, New York Times

On a Sunday morning in September 2011, Eloise Louis stood on a street corner in Harlem, looking for a church. She was just hours off a plane from her native France, jet-lagged and buzzy with anticipation

CIA techniques report draws mixed reviews
Tom Strode, Baptist Press

Southern Baptist ethics commentators greeted a new report on interrogation of detainees by the Central Intelligence Agency with mixed reviews, some criticizing the report’s approach while others either condemned or supported the government entity’s practices.

Pastors Who Podcast
Ruth Graham, Slate

Whatever your theology, your denomination, your interests, and your appetite for cursing, there’s a Christian podcast for you.

Crime

Google Has Tagged A Vast Database Of Child Porn Images — Making Them Impossible To See
Joshua Barrie, Business Insider

Google is going to start using a database of thousands of pornographic images and videos of children to block people from searching them.

Drugs and Alcohol

What Percentage of Teens Use Marijuana? The Answer Might Surprise You.
Kate Scanlon, The Daily Signal

Marijuana use is down among teens, according to a new study by the National Institutes on Drug Abuse and the University of Michigan.

Congress ends federal medical marijuana ban
Brook Hays, UPI

The federal spending bill passed last week is full of buried provisions, allocations and defunding in its more than 1,600 pages. One of the quieter add-ins was a measure that essentially ends the federal ban on medical marijuana.

 Family Issues

It’s (Not Just) The Economy, Stupid: Why Is the Working-Class Family Really Coming Apart?
W. Bradford Wilcox, Family Studies

Without access to work allowing them to be good providers, men have often fallen prey to a kind of toxic masculinity.

Half of All Kids Are Traumatized
Olga Khazan, The Atlantic

And nearly a quarter experience two or more stressful childhood events, setting them up for worse physical and mental health later in life.

How the American Family Has Changed Dramatically
Belinda Luscombe, Time

The difference between the haves and the have-nots have never been this steep.

The death of the American family dinner has been greatly exaggerated
Roberto A. Ferdman, Washington Post

Maybe you’ve heard somewhere that no one eats dinner together anymore. There’s even some pushing the idea that instead of scrambling to eat dinner together, families should aim for breakfast. And maybe you believed that family dinners were dead, based on your household’s experience.

Government and Politics

Judge declares Obama immigration action unconstitutional
Lawrence Hurley, Reuters

President Barack Obama’s new plan to ease the threat of deportation for 4.7 million undocumented immigrants violates the U.S. Constitution, a federal judge found on Tuesday, handing down the first legal ruling against the plan.

Health Issues

Wealth, power or lack thereof at heart of many mental disorders
ScienceDaily

Donald Trump’s ego may be the size of his financial empire, but that doesn’t mean he’s the picture of mental health. The same can be said about the self-esteem of people who are living from paycheck to paycheck, or unemployed.

International Issues

Taliban assault on Pakistani school ends, 130 dead, mostly children
Jibran Ahmad and Mehreen Zahra-Malik, Reuters

At least 130 people, most of them children, were killed on Tuesday after Taliban gunmen broke into a school in the Pakistani city of Peshawar and opened fire, witnesses said, in the bloodiest massacre the country has seen for years.

The 15 Most Powerful Militaries In The Middle East
Amanda Macias, Skye Gould, and Jeremy Bender, Business Insider

A mixture of transnational threats like ISIS and domestic insurgencies from local militant groups, along with larger regional rivalries, all force Middle Eastern countries to develop their armed forces.

Father Christmas Is Now Better Known Than Jesus In China
The Economist

In the first decades of Communist rule in China Christianity was banned, along with other religions. Now there are tens of millions of Christians in China and faiths of all kinds are blossoming.

Marriage Issues

A Response to the Cohabitation Epidemic
Arland K. Nichols, Crisis Magazine

The proliferation of research and literature about the sexual and marital habits of “Millennials” is staggering. Research indicates a casual or cavalier approach to sexual intimacy and of marriage.

Religious Liberty

A New Movement Against Religious Persecution
Jonathan Sacks, Wall Street Journal

My prayer on Hanukkah: For people of all faiths to work together for the freedom of all faiths.

Religious Freedom Requires Rights
Greg Forster, Hang Together

Last month I gave a talk at the Evangelical Theological Society in which I defended the idea of human rights – not sham Rawlsian rights but real rights, grounded in objective claims about truth, justice and the nature of the human person. That is, rights as correlative to duties – I have a right to religious freedom because (and only because) I have a duty to worship God sincerely rather than insincerely.

Gay Weddings and the Shopkeeper’s Dilemma
Russell Nieli, Public Discourse

One option for pro-marriage business owners: obey the law and serve gay weddings, but make it known publicly that you believe that the law forcing you to do this is unjust, needs to be changed, and is obeyed only out of your respect for law and the democratic process.

Sexuality Issues

Fayetteville, Ark., LGBT law repealed
Tom Strode, Baptist Press

Voters in a northwest Arkansas city have overturned a pro-homosexual/transgender ordinance that many claimed posed a threat to religious liberty.

Christian Colleges vs. Hookup Culture
Kimberly Thornbury, Christianity Today

The good intentions behind conservative campus rules.

Porn Industry Loses Free-Speech Fight In Federal Appeals Court
Erin Fuchs, Business Insider

Two porn companies and a couple of adult film actors faced an enormous setback Monday in their fight against a Los Angeles law that requires adult movie actors to wear condoms.

10 Things I Wish Everyone Knew About the Christian View of Sexuality
Glenn T. Stanton, On Faith

Why traditional Christians believe as they do regarding gender, sexuality, marriage, and the family.


 

 

 

Some Here, Some There — December 19, 2014

by Dan PhillipsNOTE: an important announcement about the conference is included below.

Here you go:

  • Last week I mentioned the “celibate gay” Christian Wheaton hired to be… well, I guess to be a “celibate gay” Christian, and I made and linked to commentary. Now see also Robert Gagnon’s comments.
  • Through the one-way glass: on the subject of “gay Christians,” Owen Strachan says much that we’ve said, and more, and very very well.
  • If you missed last Monday Music — well, for shame. And here.
  • Reviewing anti-Christian filmmaker (is that a tautology?) Ridley Scott’s Exodus: Gods & KingsBrian Mattson says that if Scott’s target had been Islam, he’d spend the remainder of his life in a bunker in an undisclosed location.
  • It is interesting to note how those brave Hollywood liberals (is that an oxymoron?) pretty invariably target those whose very religion prevents violent response.
  • I think of Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary as the little (?) seminary that could and does. Were I seeking a seminary today, I’d look very closely at them. The DBTS journal is excellent, and its blog is always worth checking. In this article, Ben Edwards notes one of many TGC inconsistencies, this one relating to dispensationalism. You don’t have to be a dispie to nod. Another case of natural co-belligerents being split by the unreasoned prejudice (or elitism?) of one party.
  • BIG NEWS about the Sufficient Fire Conference. Providential turns have resulted in our moving the conference from the Berry Center to Copperfield Bible Church. The program is unchanged. But this move brought us substantial financial savings, which we’ve translated into offering free registration. If you already paid for your tickets, your money will be refunded in PayPal. The conference is not free to the sponsor, of course, and your financial support would be right and appreciated. But note carefully: only register if you will come, God permitting. Seating is limited, so don’t take the seat of someone who would come if one were available.
  • What is the one sentence pastors most dread hearing? Thom Rainer offers his opinion, explains it, and offers a solution. I think he’s made an excellent pick. Another would be when someone faults you for not accomplishing, in your sermon, what you never set out to accomplish — but I can’t reduce that to words. Like you’ve pulled out all the stops and poured your heart out to glorify God’s eternal gracious love, and someone says he didn’t see how that helps him be a better WalMart greeter, or something. What’s your nominee?
  • Do you know anyone who’s just too darned happy? Try sharing some Werner Herzog Inspirationals.
  • You may be aware that there was a panel discussion ostensibly on racial relations chaired by a very scary-looking Ed Stetzer. Here it is (a sort of registration is required). It evidently was called by Bryan Loritts; if you don’t know who Bryan is, you need to know this, and this as well. Anyway, it may quite astonish you — you particularly — to hear Loritts say, in the context of racial reconciliation, how he “wondered aloud, ‘Where are the conservative, evangelical voices?'”
  • If you were watching, you may have said back to the screen, “Well, I know where two of them are, at least: on Pyromaniacs! One recent post at least was a sweeping Gospel-centered address the whole situation. In fact, didn’t Thabiti Anyabwile say he was in agreement with that post?” Indeed he did:
  • So (I continue) you may have thought, “Pyromaniacs is high-traffic, hardly invisible. How can Loritts say ‘silent’?”
  • One could hazard a guess:
  • Re. Bell: as usual, you-know-where was well ahead of the curve, and more than once. Sadly, this gracious entreaty and invitation from Frank Turk was ignored.
  • Because, you know, the important thing today isn’t that these timely warnings, if spread and heeded at the time, might have prevented much misery and harm. The really important thing is not to note that fact, so that nothing will improve going forward.
  • Because nowadays people seem to celebrate folks who come on a burnt building and intone sage, measured, nuanced, judicious remarks about the ruinsmore than they do people who say of the still-standing building, “Say… I smell smoke.”
  • Because you know, these days, only shielding the elitist celebrity culture from even the most obvious criticisms and calls for accountability and reform is deemed conduct becoming us Christian serfs.
  • If you tweeted a snatch from a cult’s hymnody as if expressing your own words, wouldn’t you want to know? Yeah, me too.
  • On to another cult: on the 12th we reminded you that the Piano Guys were Mormons. A few days later Challies offered some very good expansions and warnings about Mormons and their prosyletizing methods. (I can’t call it “evangelism”; there’s no evangel there.)
  • So, amid the bad news, wouldn’t some good news be nice? Here you go: reader “Rowdie Jones” pointed me to a series of posts (beginning here) in which former Assemblies of God charismatic Dan Michael Cogan explains his journey from the mess that is charismaticism to affirming the sufficiency of Scripture.
  • Courtney Reissig has a good word for wives, but it works just as well for husbands. Be grateful for the 80%, trust God with the 20%.
  • Dear bro David Murray (who himself has a wonderful Scottish accent) shows us what “a depressed Scottish S’more” looks like:

Dan Phillips's signature

Do Not Be Surprised… This ‘n’ That

  • “Mormonism does not have to offer theology because it speaks to the realm of felt needs.”
  • “God Himself is fully manifest in the Person of His Son, who is none other than Jesus Christ.”
  • The Church of England has announced its first female bishop.
  • As soon as someone adapts this to be dairy and soy free, call me. I’ll be your taste-tester.
  • This is pretty sobering (no pun intended).
  • Um, okay, but what if it isn’t really God? Wouldn’t we be better off just reading the Bible?
  • It was brought to my attention that I recently offered you too many consecutive doses of feline adorable. With that, here is your weekly dose of (non-feline) adorable.
  • The Tel Dan Stele will be on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. My inner archaeological nerd is totally bummed that New York is so far away.
  • Why is it that Christians are the only ones who seem to be confused about the realities of yoga? Stop trying to ‘Christianize’ a pagan practice!
  • Did you know that the movie White Christmas was not the first time Bing Crosby sang that song on film? The song actually was first introduced in the 1942 movie Holiday Inn. Now you know.
  • Someone asked me this week for a recommendation of a good devotional. While a devotional ought not be a substitute for daily, in-depth Bible study, it can be a good way to focus our minds and hearts on the Word and the Christ who saved us. This is by far one of my favorite devotionals.
  • The Word became flesh:

Source


Blogs

Pyromaniacs: Short Christmas sermon: How not to find Jesus

BibleX: Why Preachers Struggle with Sermon Application

The State of Theology: Worshiping Alone by Stephen Nichols | Ligonier Ministries Blog

Best Books on the Best Sermon | TGC

Preempt The Next Newsflash: Reflections on #ATimeTo Speak

How to Use the Back of a Napkin to Prove to a Jehovah’s Witness That Jesus Is God | TGC

5 of the Best Free Bible Study Tools | Free Daily Bible Study

What Changes for a Church when Counseling Becomes Formal? | Brad Hambrick

14 Top Biblical Counseling Books of 2014

Sorrow, Depression, and the Holidays | The Cripplegate

How Do You Sleep?

How to beat the forces that keep low-income students from graduating | The Washington Post

Jesus and Moses – Reformation21 Blog

Videos

A Time to Speak Webcast Replay
We’ve heard and seen lots of secular pundits pontificate racial issues over the past few weeks. Here’s our opportunity to listen to a number of Christians discussing the same issues in a Christian spirit, with biblical content, and a Gospel focus. You may also wish to read John Piper’s reflections on this important event.
kainos

Darkness | Light | Life

Logic on Fire: the Life and Times of Dr. Martyn-Lloyd Jones

Introducing Indigenous Church Planting in the North of England


Email Brigade News Report

 

What doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God. ~ Micah 6:8

 

December 20, 2014

 

And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God.

~ Luke 1:35

 

MARSHA WEST’S COLUMN

Fight the spiritual forces of wickedness — and win!

Some of the news headlines this past week gave me reason for concern. …Satanism…religious liberty…beheadings…gender confusion…ecumenicalism. My tendency is to fret about such things, even though God reminds us in His Word: Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Would the Son of God Contradict the Father?

Bethel Church’s “Apostle” Bill Johnson: A Comedy of Errors Part 1   Part 2

 

FEATURED ARTICLES

New

District Court Declares Obama Immigration Amnesty Unconstitutional—Andrew McCarthy

http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/394799/district-court-declares-obama-immigration-amnesty-unconstitutional-andrew-c-mccarthy

A federal judge in Pennsylvania has ruled that President Obama’s actions in decreeing effective amnesty — i.e., guarantee against prosecution plus the provision of positive legal benefits — violates the Constitution.     In a 38-page opinion, Judge Arthur J. Schwab held that the president’s action exceeds executive authority.

 

Out of the Washington fog: focused committee vows the truth on Benghazi scandal—Wes Vernon

http://www.renewamerica.com/columns/vernon/141218

Former CBS News Correspondent Sharyl Attkisson is the kind of intrepid reporter who will pursue the tough investigations no matter how many doors are slammed in her face.     These include the gun-running Fast-and-Furious scandal; the “Green Energy” taxpayer rip-offs; and the Benghazi Islamist attack and its computer-hacking cover-up. When she was blocked in pursuit of the Benghazi story, both “in-house” and by outside powers (and we do use that italicized term for its literal meaning), she quit her job at the pinnacle of success. Today, she freelances and continues to “go after the story.”

 

WHAT? ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

New

Churchywood – bigger than Broadway!

Behind the scenes of Prestonwood Baptist Christmas Pageant

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2a_1GUJSwY8

FOX 4 takes you behind the scenes at Prestonwood Baptist’s huge Christmas pageant production.

 

NEWS TO KNOW

New

House cybersecurity chairman warns: First Sony, next the electric grid, Wall Street

http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/house-cyber-chair-warns-first-sony-next-the-electric-grid-wall-street/article/2557607

 

Sony defends decision to shelve release of ‘The Interview,’ saying studio ‘had no choice’

http://www.foxnews.com/entertainment/2014/12/19/sony-defends-decision-to-shelve-release-interview-saying-studio-had-no-choice/

 

U.S. to Restore Full Relations With Cuba, Erasing a Last Trace of Cold War Hostility

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/18/world/americas/us-cuba-relations.html?_r=1

 

Firefighters refuse to remove firehouse Christmas message

http://video.foxnews.com/v/3949835256001/firefighters-refuse-to-remove-firehouse-christmas-message-/?#sp=show-clips

 

Japan scientist quits as cell research discredited

http://bigstory.ap.org/article/7afd44f9a991472b8395d5d73e8d3326/japan-scientist-quits-cell-research-discredited

 

CULTURE CLASH

 

CULTURE

New

Holder Decrees Cross-dressing Protected Under Federal Law

http://pjmedia.com/jchristianadams/2014/12/19/holder-decrees-crossdressing-protected-under-federal-law/

This means that the Justice Department could now, for example, consider the decision by a school or church to not hire a transvestite as a violation of federal law. …

 

Arkansas Voters Repeal Local Law Allowing ‘Transgendered’ Men in Womens’ Restrooms

http://christiannews.net/2014/12/19/arkansas-voters-repeal-local-law-allowing-transgendered-men-in-womens-restrooms/

 

EDUCATION – Research Links

Previous

Virginia Attorney Wants Public Schools to Stop Renting to Churches

http://christiannews.net/2014/12/15/virginia-attorney-wants-public-schools-to-stop-renting-to-churches/

 

HOMOSEXUALITY — Research Links

 

The revolution of the family: the Marxist roots of ‘homosexualism’

Porn may be only place gay youth see gay sex portrayed ‘positively’: UK ‘sex health’ charity head

300 Articles You Have to Read to Understand Homofascism

Homosexual Promiscuity: Breeding a national health problem

Speaking of Homosexuality

Big ‘Gay’ Brother is Watching You

Truth-Telling and Homosexuality

New

LGBTQ “Future Pastors” to train, plan for the pulpit—Amy Spreeman

http://standupforthetruth.com/2014/02/lgbtq-future-pastors-train-plan-pulpit/

More evidence that our visible churches are soon going to be lead by homosexual pastors and pastrixes. Coming soon to Indiana, more than 50 LGBTQ pastors-in-training will meet to strategize and plan for what they hope will be future jobs behind the pulpit. At a retreat center this summer, a group of more than 50 “future pastors” have signed up to  become an ordained pastor in the Presbyterian Church.

Previous

Christian Asks Thirteen Gay Bakeries For Traditional Marriage Cake, All Deny Him Service http://barbwire.com/2014/12/15/christian-asks-thirteen-gay-bakeries-traditional-marriage-cake-deny-service/

 

EX-GAYS/EX TRANSEXUALS

 

Trouble In Transtopia: Murmurs Of Sex Change Regret

Truth Matters In Ex-Gay Debate

Nine fallen ‘exgay’ leaders seek spotlight with therapy ban alliance

Why Gays Cannot Speak for Ex-Gays

120 EXhomosexual video testimonies

 

Previous

‘Nobody is born gay’ billboard stuck over Virginia highway until next year

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/outrage-born-gay-billboard-va-highway-article-1.2042003

 

LEFT-WING MEDIA

New

Gergen: Obama’s Significant Foreign Policy Achievement is Climate Change

http://www.mrc.org/biasalerts/gergen-obamas-most-significant-foreign-policy-achievement-climate-change

 

LIFE & DEATH – Research Links

 

Parents Release Photo of Daughter Born at 24 Weeks to Stop Late-Term Abortions

Amazing Video Shows Life Before Birth: “Everything a Newborn Baby Does, a Fetus Has Already Done

Abortion, Depression, Suicide

 

New

Suicide Rate for Women Having Abortions is Six Times Higher Than Women Giving Birth

http://www.lifenews.com/2014/12/19/suicide-rate-for-women-having-abortions-is-six-times-higher-than-women-giving-birth/

 

MARRIAGE & FAMILY

 

Ryan Anderson explains why gay marriage doesn’t exist

Our last chance to save traditional marriage

 

Previous

Former director of ‘ex-gay’ ministry Love in Action marries same-sex partner

http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/ex-gay-minister-marries-same-sex-partner-article-1.2021030

 

RELIGION

 

OF INTEREST

New

Pakistani Court Orders Arrest of Muslim Clerics After Mob Kills Couple Accused of Blasphemy

http://christiannews.net/2014/12/18/pakistani-court-orders-arrest-of-muslim-clerics-after-mob-kills-couple-accused-of-blasphemy/

Previous

Christmas: God’s Glory Returns–Mike Riccardi

http://thecripplegate.com/christmas-gods-glory-returns-2/

 

CREATION VS EVOLUTION – Research links

 

Why is biblical Creationism so important?

The Giraffe: God’s Outstanding Animal

 

Previous

Arizona Biology Teacher Mocks Jesus, Biblical Creation in Lecture Slide

http://christiannews.net/2014/12/15/arizona-biology-teacher-mocks-jesus-biblical-creation-in-lecture-slide/

 

CHRISTIAN PERSECUTION

New

Iraq: 150 women executed after refusing to marry ISIL militants

http://www.turkishpress.com/news/415983/

 

TEACHING/DEVOTIONAL

New

Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy- laden, and I will give you rest—Mike Ratliff

http://mikeratliff.wordpress.com/2014/12/18/come-to-me-all-who-are-weary-and-heavy-laden-and-i-will-give-you-rest/

 

WATCH OUT!

 

Where do Christians get solid food? From voices in their heads, intuition, imaginations, flights of fancy, signs, wonders? No. Solid food is consumed by feeding on the meat of the written

Word of God. ~ Sandy Simpson

 

Alcoholics Anonymous

 

New Booklet Tract: The Spiritual Truth Behind Alcoholics Anonymous–And Why Christians Should Think Twice About Joining A.A.

 

New

Disturbing History of AA—John Lanagan

http://mywordlikefire.com/2014/12/17/some-disturbing-history-of-a-a/

 

Angels – Research links

 

Three Reasons You Should Not Try To Bind Satan

Unbiblical ideas About Angels

 

Ann Voskamp

 

Romantic Panentheism, a Review of One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp

Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts: A Christianized Version of “Sexytime” with Ghosts?

 

Beth Moore

 

Has so-and-so false teacher always been false, or did it just start now?

The Low-Information Evangelical, Part 1  Part 2

Examining Beth Moore’s teaching

 

“Blood Moons”

 

Is Jesus going to return during the blood-red moon of 2015?

Divine Sign for Israel? Hagee Explains Blood Moons

Will Lunar Eclipses Cause Four Blood Moons in 2014 and 2015?

 

Charismatic Movement

 

Strange Fire Q&A: Answering the Critics—Phil Johnson interviews John MacArthur

Where is IHOP Going? An interview with Sarah Leslie

 

Church Growth Movement/Seeker/Market-Driven

 

Straight Talk About the Seeker Church Movement

Why this pastor left the church-growth model

Who is Peter Drucker, and what did he do with our church?

Rick Warren’s Catholic television interview

 

Contemplative Prayer – Research Links

 

The “Tree of Contemplative Practices” – Is Your Church Practicing Some of These?

What Is Spiritual Formation and Why Does It Matter?

Contemplative Terms

Ecumenism

 

Rick Warren’s Call for Christians to Unite With Catholics, ‘Holy Father’ Raising Concerns

 

Previous

Wisdom from the Holy Spirit—Mike Ratliff

http://mikeratliff.wordpress.com/2014/12/14/wisdom-from-the-holy-spirit/

 

Emergent Church – Research Links

 

McLaren’s CANA Initiative marks new era for Neo Emergents

Listen: Emergent Church finally shows its real intentions!-

Emerging towards convergence

Emergent /Emerging Church Documentary

 

Previous

Let’s Stop Petting the Wolves—Amy Spreeman

http://standupforthetruth.com/2014/12/lets-stop-petting-wolves/

 

Controversial pastor [?] Rob [No Hell] Bell and wife, Kristen, share new view on marriage

http://jonathanmerritt.religionnews.com/2014/12/02/rob-bell-kristen-marriage-advice

 

Hillsong Church

 

Hillsong NYC’s “biblical” silence about homosexuality

Hellsong – The Music of Hillsong – In Praise of Folly

 

“Jesus Calling” – Research Links

 

Changing “Jesus Calling”—Damage Control for a False Christ

In Jesus Calling: Jesus Contradicts Himself

Is Hit Book “Jesus Calling” Pushing New Age?

Articles and links exposing the New Age “Jesus” and New Age teachings

in Sarah Young’s “Jesus Calling” devotional

One Woman’s Story About Jesus Calling: A Surprise I Never Expected That Changed My Life

 

Jonathan Cahn

 

“Rabbi” Jonathan Cahn’s Most Recent Duping of the People of God: “The Mystery of the Shemitah”

 

Joyce Meyer

 

The Prosperity Priestess and the Pied Piper of IHOP

Joyce Meyer’s teaching

 

Kay Arthur

 

Kay Arthur With Erroneous Contemplative Interpretation of Psalm 46:10

Christian Meditation: What’s Biblical and What’s

 

Mark Driscoll

 

5 Early Leadership Lessons from the Dissolution of Mars Hill Church

Part 1: “We Are Not ABANDONED”   Part 2: “Under the Bus” and “Off the Map” – The Out-of-Control Bus That Runs Over Sheep  Part 3: The Culture Which Gave Rise to Driscoll

 

“The Message” Bible

 

Eugene Peterson’s “The Message” is a parody of the Bible

 

Mormonism — Research Links

 

Mormon Church Admits Founder Joseph Smith Had About 40 Wives

Was Joseph Smith Really a Prophet from God?

What is Mormonism – What do Mormon’s Believe

The Mormon version of “Holy, Holy, Holy” is missing something

 

Previous

A big evangelical stood up to Glenn Beck

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ppnYKHAZQ1I#t=26

 

New Age Movement/New Thought/Spirituality — Research Links

 

The New Age Peale Factor: Norman Vincent Peale and the Occult, Part 1  Part 2

Mysticism & Global Mind Change

Panantheism

What is “The Secret”? What is the “Law of Attraction”?

 

Previous

Controversial pastor [?] Rob [No Hell] Bell and wife, Kristen, share new view on marriage

http://jonathanmerritt.religionnews.com/2014/12/02/rob-bell-kristen-marriage-advice

 

New Apostolic Reformation/Dominionism – Research Links

 

We have had enough of false prophets

Bethel Church’s “Apostle” Bill Johnson: A Comedy of Errors Part 1  Part 2

What is an Apostle?

Rick Joyner’s alleged visit to heaven where he claims he met Enoch

 

Occult

Previous

This Year’s Christmas Must Have A…Ouija Board–SUFTT

http://standupforthetruth.com/2014/11/years-christmas-must-ouija-board/

 

Roman Catholicism

 

Rick Warren’s Call for Christians to Unite With Catholics, ‘Holy Father’ Raising Concerns

The Papacy of the Roman Catholic Church

‘Secrets of the Vatican’ exposes moral crises facing Catholic Church’s new pope

Do eucharistic miracles really happen?

 

Social Justice/Progressive Christianity

 

Shameful Social Gospel

The Social Justice Gospel, Yesterday and TodayPart 2

 

Transhumanism/Nephilum

 

Spiritual Seduction

Extraterrestrials, Noah’s Flood, Pseudo-Humans, Pseudo-Science,

Nephilim and Space Alien DNAPart 2

 

Vision Casting

 

Casting a Vision of Commandeering Control

 

Witchcraft – Research Links

 

Word of Faith/Prosperity Gospel — Research Links

 

Bethel Church’s “Apostle” Bill Johnson: A Comedy of Errors, Part 1   Part 2

The True Origins of the Prosperity Gospel

T.D. Jakes and Joyce Meyer teaching word-faith “Little Gods” doctrine

 

Previous

Creflo Dollar Says Myles Munroe Came to Him in a Dream Three Days After He Died and He Was Leading His Own Funeral

http://www.christianpost.com/news/creflo-dollar-says-myles-munroe-came-to-him-in-a-dream-three-days-after-he-died-and-he-was-leading-his-own-funeral-131117/

 

ENTERTAINMENT

 

Previous

Prof: ‘Elf on the Shelf’ conditions kids to accept surveillance state

http://eagnews.org/prof-elf-on-the-shelf-conditions-kids-to-accept-surveillance-state/

 

HEALTH

 

New

Half of Dr. Oz’s health advice is bad, study finds

http://www.foxnews.com/health/2014/12/19/half-dr-oz-health-advice-is-bad-study-finds/

“Misleading at best, total nonsense at worst” is how Julia Belluz describes her gut feeling over the years about the accuracy of Dr. Mehmet Oz’s medical advice, she writes at Vox.com.

 

MUSIC


Pope Francis Revealed To Be Deal-maker Behind Obama’s Cuba Foray

Bowing down before the Holy Father

“And there came one of the seven angels which had the seven vials, and talked with me, saying unto me, Come hither; I will shew unto thee the judgment of the great whore that sitteth upon many waters: With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication.” Revelation 17:1,2

The stunning revelation comes today that Pope Francis held secret, closed-door meetings in the Vatican where representatives of the United States and Cuba placed themselves under his authority and allowed Rome to broker a deal for “peace” between the two nations that have not had relations for over half a century. Wow.

pope-francis-obama-castro-united-states-cuba-dealmaker

The Atlantic reports thatThe Holy See received Delegations of the two countries in the Vatican last October and provided its good offices to facilitate a constructive dialogue on delicate matters, resulting in solutions acceptable to both Parties.”

After the deal was struck, President Obama said “In particular, I want to thank his Holiness Pope Francis, whose moral example shows us the importance of pursuing the world as it should be, rather than simply settling for the world as it is.”

The book of Revelation says that the Vatican system is the driving force behind kings and nations, conspiring and creating deals to advance it’s kingdom and influence. The power that Rome will wield during the time of the Great Tribulation will be unprecedented in human history, albeit short lived. What we are seeing now is the re-awakening of papal power and the ascendance of Rome on the world stage.

Pope Francis is the “man with a plan”, and doing exactly what scripture has said the False Prophet will do.

“For God hath put in their hearts to fulfil his will, and to agree, and give their kingdom unto the beast, until the words of God shall be fulfilled. And the woman which thou sawest is that great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth.” Revelation 17:17.18

The post Pope Francis Revealed To Be Deal-maker Behind Obama’s Cuba Foray appeared first on Now The End Begins.


NEWS ALERT: 100 Reported Kidnapped, 33 Dead, in Wake of Boko Haram Attack

Boko Haram Militants Stormed Gumsuri Sunday, Killing 33 and Kidnapping 100, Including Women and Children

12/18/2014 Nigeria (International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that at least 100 villagers, including women and children, were reportedly kidnapped from a remote village in Northeast Nigeria by Boko Haram militants during an attack Sunday.

Read more


Christian Refugees In Iraq Face Up To A Bleak Christmas

ICC Note: For more than 100,000 Christians, Christmas this year will likely be a time of morning, as they remember all that they’ve lost. They’ve been driven from their homes as jihadists from ISIS captured a large part of western and central Iraq.

Read more


Nativity Scene will Remain in Franklin County, Indiana this Christmas

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.,—On the heels of their spirited hearing this morning before U.S. District Judge Tanya Walton Pratt, Thomas More Society has reached an agreement with the ACLU of Indiana that the Franklin County Nativity Scene will remain in place this Christmas. The agreement was reached on behalf of the two organizations’ respective clients-Franklin County and the Freedom from Religion .

Read more


Thanks to PC western leaders, it’s Happy Hunting for the Terrorists

When terrorists look in the rear view mirror after their latest slaughterhouse jihad in any land, they clearly see the cowardice of all western leaders and plenty of opportunities in what millennials would call “wiggle room.”

Read more


Christians Around World Under Siege

ICC Note: The reality is that in far too many countries Christians face incredible risk simply for their faith. Some make the headlines, but much more “is unseen by the world” and the daily reality of persecution that Christians face.

Read more


Bobby Jindal Draws Criticism Over Prayer Event Participation

Louisiana Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal has stirred up a hornet’s nest, simply by making plans to kneel and pray. Jindal plans to be the headline speaker at a massive prayer rally scheduled for Jan. 24 at the Pete Maravich Center on the campus of Louisiana State University (LSU) in Baton Rouge, but it’s the sponsoring group of the rally that has everyone in a tizzy.

Read more


Fewer US-Born Americans Have Jobs Now Than In 2007

Fewer Americans born in the U.S. have jobs now than were employed to November 2007, despite a working-age population growth of 11 million. The amazing drop in employment highlights President Barack Obama’s slow recovery from the deep 2008 shock, but also spotlights many companies’ growing reliance on foreign migrant labor.

Read more


12 million home and business routers vulnerable to critical hijacking hack

More than 12 million routers in homes and small offices are vulnerable to attacks that allow hackers anywhere in the world to monitor user traffic and take administrative control over the devices, researchers said….

Read more


Headlines of Interest

David Auerbach: ‘The media fiddles while Sony burns’

Letter to the Editor: There is No Doubt That Moody Has Gone Contemplative – This Year’s Radio Programs Proves It.

Is Jesus the only way to be saved?


How To Make Bulletproof Coffee With Butter For More Energy

Everybody loves coffee and Dave Asprey – author of “The Bulletproof Diet” – says he has come up with a coffee that will give its drinkers a lot more energy.

http://www.businessinsider.com/bulletproof-coffee-energy-butter-2014-12


Imagine No Religion: The Western Media and Islamic Terror :: Ibrahim in FrontPage

by Raymond Ibrahim

FrontPage Magazine

December 19, 2014

http://www.meforum.org/4933/imagine-no-religion-the-western-media


 

Love Came Down at Christmas

I’m guessing you’ve already had enough of “Jingle Bell Rock.” Good. I have a suggestion for Christmas music that will draw you closer to the mystery of God’s love.
Download


India’s Christians Fear Further Persecution as Hindu Radicals Push for More Conversions

ICC Note:

As the Christmas holiday approaches, India’s Christian community begins to celebrate the holiday in a slightly more security conscious manner.  Attacks on religious minorities by Hindu radicals have increased dramatically over 2014 and many Christians fear these attacks will only increase during the Christmas holiday. Last week, a group of Christmas carolers were beaten in Hyderabad by a group of Hindus who claimed they were attempting to forcefully convert people. Also, massive re-conversion ceremonies have been planned by Hindu nationalist groups amid reports of forced or fraudulent conversions. Is religious freedom under threat in India? 

Read more


 

Pro-Homosexual Bakeries Refuse Christian’s Cake Order for ‘Traditional Marriage Celebration’

Over a dozen pro-homosexual bakeries refused to fulfill a Christian’s order for a cake bearing the message “Gay Marriage Is Wrong” in an experiment meant to see if such bakeries would accept orders against their beliefs just as they expect of Christians. As previously reported, in May of this year, Ashers Baking Company in Newtonabbey, North Ireland—founded by Christians and named after Genesis 49:20—was approached by a same-sex “marriage” supporter to bake a cake bearing the phrase “Support Gay Marriage,” which also was to feature the logo for the homosexual advocacy group QueerSpace. When the bakery declined, the customer reported Ashers Baking Company to the Equality Commission of Northern Ireland, which in turn sent a warning to to McArthur, stating that he and his bakery had discriminated against Lee. The bakery was ordered to either pay or face legal action. More


What Your Tongue Can Tell You About Your Health

Odd as it may sound, it is a fact that the condition of your tongue is a vital clue to your overall health status. Both ancient Chinese physicians and modern 21st Century physicians agree that a quick look at the tongue can often be enlightening. But perhaps this should not be surprising since doctors have long been accustomed to asking patients to stick their tongue out and say “ah.” More


1,200 Turtles Have Washed Ashore In Cape Cod, Mystery Remains of Cause

Weak, immobile, and close to death, the turtles wash limply on to the sand. The wind and waves draw them up to the shore, where their cold bodies — incapacitated by the frigid, late-autumn ocean — will lie prone on the beach, unable to move or defend themselves. Here, they can do nothing but await rescue. Each week since mid-November, staff members and volunteers from the Massachusetts Audubon Society’s Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary in South Wellfleet, Mass., have diligently patrolled the shoreline, both day and night, searching for these stranded sea turtles, which have washed up on the shore in droves this year — a mysterious event that has left wildlife experts scratching their heads. Every year, a few sea turtles — usually 200 at most, in recent years — linger a little too long in Cape Cod Bay after the rest of their brethren have drifted back out to sea in search of warmer waters. These turtles somehow miss their cue to leave and end up staying behind as the waters cool. As the autumn draws to a close, temperatures start to drop in the bay, and the turtles eventually become so cold that they’re unable to move. The natural movement of the ocean, helped by the wind, pushes these stiffened turtles up onto the beaches. So, wildlife experts in the area devote time each season to gathering up the stranded turtles and nursing them back to health. More


Flu outbreak spreading rapidly in U.S.

Flu season is picking up steam just in time to ruin a lot of people’s holidays. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports widespread flu activity in 29 states, primarily in the South and Midwest. That’s twice as many states as the previous week. Most of the patients who have been hospitalized with severe cases of the flu are either very young or the very old. In recent days flu outbreaks have forced schools in Ohio, Tennessee, Georgia and North Carolina to close. So far this season, the virus has killed 11 children. More


Magnitude 5.9 earthquake hits Japan’s Honshu island

A 5.9 magnitude earthquake hit Japan’s Honshu island on Saturday, the U.S. Geological Survey said, shaking Fukushima where crippled nuclear power plants are located, but local media said there was no tsunami warning. USGS said the quake’s epicentre was located 42 miles (68 km) east-northeast of Iwaki on Honshu. It was measured at a depth of 22.9 miles (37 km). A spokesman for Tokyo Electric Power, which owns the nuclear plants, said no irregularities have been found at its Fukushkma Daiichi or Daini plants. More


Chaotic Situation That Led to Famed Pastor’s Resignation Has Prominent Church Expert Issuing a Major Warning

There’s no doubt that megachurches are growing in popularity and prevalence — facts that have led Christian consultant William Vanderbloemen to issue a warning to houses of worship, vocally encouraging them to more diligently prepare for their futures. Vanderbloemen, who has assisted countless megachurches with structuring and employment needs through his Vanderbloemen Search Group, told TheBlaze that being equipped to cope with possible shake-ups and calamity is paramount. He specially pointed to what recently happened surrounding Mark Driscoll, the former pastor at Mars Hill Church in Seattle, Washington. More


Five dead, dozens ill from bacteria linked to caramel apples

Five people have died and 21 others have been hospitalized in recent weeks in a listeria outbreak linked to caramel apples, federal health officials said on Friday. A total of 28 people infected with listeria have been reported from 10 states, according to a statement from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. The CDC warned consumers not to eat any pre-packaged, commercially-produced caramel apples, including those with other toppings such as nuts, chocolate or sprinkles, until more information is available. More


Russia’s Largest Bank Warns Of A ‘Full-Scale Banking Crisis’

Evgeny Gavrilenkov, the chief economist at the investment banking arm of Russia’s largest lender Sberbank CIB, has warned that actions taken by the Russian authorities to bail out Russia’s troubled banking sector could cause a “full-scale banking crisis”. “If the Central Bank of Russia continues to provide refinancing in exchange for non-marketable securities that banks can generate in almost unlimited amounts, the system will gradually ramp up to full-scale banking crisis,” Gavrilenkov said. More


‘Every Religious Organization Should Be Worried': Kentucky Wants Ark Encounter to Hire Non-Christians

Ken Ham, the founder and president of the Kentucky-based ministry Answers in Genesis (AIG), is expressing concern over new demands that the state is requiring of its proposed Ark Encounter, namely its requirement that the ministry not engage in “religious preference” in its hiring—meaning that it can’t refuse applicants simply because they are non-Christians. “AIG as religious organization has the legal right to hire people who believe in our Christian faith—which is a right for any religious organization, whether Christian or not,” he said in the four-minute video posted to Facebook on Saturday. Ham said that the matter became an issue when the state asked his ministry to resubmit its application for a sales tax refund, since the scope for the theme park had changed, and will open its various attractions incrementally instead of simultaneously. “As we reapplied for the incentive, the state surprised us with two conditions not found anywhere in the law,” he said. “That is, one, we can’t show religious preference in our hiring, and two, we couldn’t share our faith at the ark.” More


Arkansas Voters Repeal Local Law Allowing ‘Transgendered’ Men in Womens’ Restrooms

Voters in Fayetteville, Arkansas have repealed a law passed by city council earlier this year that would allow men who identify as women to use womens’ restrooms and vice versa. By a vote of 52 to 48 percent, residents rejected Ordinance 119 approved in August by the Fayetteville City Council, which voted 6-2 for the controversial measure. In addition to making provision for “transgendered” persons to use the restroom of their choice, the law also prohibited landlords from turning away homosexual couples who sought to cohabitate on their property, banned employers from rejecting homosexual applicants, and disallowed businesses from refusing services that pertained to homosexuality. Non-compliance would result in criminal penalties. Following the passage of the ordinance, Duncan Campbell, an area pastor, formed a group called Repeal 119 and launched a petition drive that obtained enough signatures to warrant a special election over the matter. More


‘Every Religious Organization Should Be Worried': Kentucky Wants Ark Encounter to Hire Non-Christians

(CN) — Ken Ham, the founder and president of the Kentucky-based ministry Answers in Genesis (AIG), is expressing concern over new demands that the state is requiring of its proposed Ark Encounter, namely its requirement that the ministry not engage in “religious preference” in its hiring—meaning that it can’t refuse applicants simply because they are non-Christians.

“AIG as a religious organization has the legal right to hire people who believe in our Christian faith—which is a right for any religious organization, whether Christian or not,” he said in the four-minute video posted to Facebook on Saturday.

Continue reading this story >>


Report: Islamic Saudi Arabia Passes Law That May Impose Death Penalty on Bible Smugglers

(CN) — Recent reports state that officials in the Islamic country of Saudi Arabia have passed a law that may impose the death penalty on Bible smugglers and any others distributing religious materials that are not of the Muslim religion.

“[T]he new law extends to the importing of all illegal drugs and ‘all publications that have a prejudice to any other religious beliefs other than Islam,’” Paul Washer’s HeartCry Missionary Society outlines in a post on their website. “In other words, anyone who attempts to bring Bibles or gospel literature into the country will have all materials confiscated and be imprisoned and sentenced to death.”

Continue reading this story >>


Arizona Biology Teacher Mocks Jesus, Biblical Creation in Lecture Slide

(CN) — A biology teacher who describes himself as “an open-minded skeptic” purportedly showed a slide in one of his classes that mocks Jesus and describes biblical creation as “magic.”

Christofer Bang is a lecturer at Arizona State University who teaches biology and ecology courses. According to his academic profile page, his areas of “expertise” include ecology, evolution and plant biology.

Continue reading this story >>


Atheist Who ‘Prayed’ to Mother Earth, Satan Denied Request to Open Palm Beach Meeting

(CN) — A professing Florida atheist who recently led an invocation to Mother Earth, Satan and other entities at a public meeting in Lake Worth has been denied his request to do the same at a commission meeting in Palm Beach County.

As previously reported, as Preston Smith of Miami stepped to the podium to deliver the invocation on Dec. 2, a number of commissioners–as well as Mayor Pam Triolo—exited the room so they would not be participants in what was about to take place.

Continue reading this story >>


Other Top News Stories of Interest:

American Pastor Imprisoned in Iran Remains Strong in Faith Despite Suffering ‘Severe Pain’

Officer Delivers Truckloads of Groceries to Grandmother Caught Stealing Eggs to Feed Toddlers

U.S. Army Reprimands Chaplain for Citing Bible in Suicide Prevention Training Session

Atheist Activist Group Threatens Lawsuit Over School Bible Distribution


Holder decrees cross-dressing protected under federal law

by Marsha West

According to Pajamas Media:

Attorney General Eric Holder has issued an edict, through a memorandum [PDF], that cross dressing and transsexualism is now protected under federal civil rights laws which were designed to protect women from sex discrimination. Existing federal law provides no statutory support for treating cross-dressers and transsexuals as the law treats female victims of discrimination.

This means that the Justice Department could now, for example, consider the decision by a school or church to not hire a transvestite as a violation of federal law.

http://pjmedia.com/jchristianadams/2014/12/19/holder-decrees-crossdressing-protected-under-federal-law/


Arkansas voters repeal local law allowing ‘transgendered’ men in women’s restrooms

by Marsha West

Christian News Net reports:

Voters in Fayetteville, Arkansas have repealed a law passed by city council earlier this year that would allow men who identify as women to use womens’ restrooms and vice versa.

By a vote of 52 to 48 percent, residents rejected Ordinance 119 approved in August by the Fayetteville City Council, which voted 6–2 for the controversial measure. In addition to making provision for “transgendered” persons to use the restroom of their choice, the law also prohibited landlords from turning away homosexual couples who sought to cohabitate on their property, banned employers from rejecting homosexual applicants, and disallowed businesses from refusing services that pertained to homosexuality. Non-compliance would result in criminal penalties.

http://christiannews.net/2014/12/19/arkansas-voters-repeal-local-law-allowing-transgendered-men-in-womens-restrooms/


George Clooney, Angelina Jolie, You, and Me

“It is only a matter of time before something like this happens to someone you know. At some point you may well be faced with the opportunity to go rooting through another person’s emails after they have been hacked and made public. So let me ask: Will you read those emails? Will you read your pastor’s emails if they are suddenly available to the public? Will you read your favorite celebrity preacher’s emails if they are just a click or two away?”

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Husbands, Make Submission Joyful

“Christ is the picture given to the husband to follow in leadership. He must be willing to give up the greatest personal comforts for the sake of his bride, just as Christ was. Therefore, the husbands concern in marriage is not his happiness and ease, but his wife’s.”

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Ten Historical Myths about World Christianity

Everyone loves a good myth-busting! Another ten items could easily be added to this list, but Stanley has given us a great start. Don’t be snowed by pseudo-history; read on and gird your loins against some of the more egregious myths about Christianity through the ages.

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Gospel Clarity vs. “The Fog,”

“When you walk into the churches in decline you are immediately brought into ‘the Fog.’ What is the fog? It is the inability to be clear about anything. . . . In the ‘fog,’ Jesus Christ is just one of many noble teachers in the world. In the ‘fog,’ the Bible is filled with contradictions and outdated commands. In the ‘fog,’ the pastor has learned through years of experience to spend 20 to 30 minutes talking, and say absolutely nothing of consequence about anything.”

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‘Twas the Night Before the Last Christmas!


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Selected Scriptures

Code: B141219

by John MacArthur

That first Christmas, earth was oblivious to the significance of a simple birth in a quiet town. But heaven wasn’t. The holy angels waited in anticipation to break forth in praise and worship and adoration at the birth of the newborn Christ. This Child’s birth meant deliverance for mankind. The angel told Joseph: “He will save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).

Unlike Isaac, who ascended the mountain unaware he was to be the sacrifice, Jesus descended from heaven in full awareness of what the Father had in store for Him. Scripture records for us what may have been a farewell message Jesus gave just prior to His incarnation.

When He comes into the world, He says, “Sacrifice and offering You have not desired, but a body You have prepared for Me; in whole burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin You have taken no pleasure.” Then I said, “Behold, I have come . . . to do Your will, O God.” (Hebrews 10:5-7)

That passage of Scripture gives us a remarkable look at the heart of the Savior before His birth. He knew He was entering the world to be the final and ultimate sacrifice for sin. His body had been divinely prepared by God specifically for that purpose. Jesus was going to die for the sins of the world, and He knew it. Moreover, He was doing it willingly. That was the whole point of the incarnation.

The important issue of Christmas is not so much that Jesus came, but why He came. There was no salvation in His birth. Nor did the sinless way He lived His life have any redemptive force of its own. His example, as flawless as it was, could not rescue men from their sins. Even His teaching, the greatest truth ever revealed to man, could not save us from our sins. There was a price to be paid for our sins. Someone had to die. Only Jesus could do it.

Jesus came to earth, of course, to reveal God to mankind. He came to teach truth. He came to fulfill the Law. He came to offer His kingdom. He came to show us how to live. He came to reveal God’s love. He came to bring peace. He came to heal the sick. He came to minister to the needy.

But all those reasons are incidental to His ultimate purpose. He could have done them all without being born as a human. He could have simply appeared—like the angel of the Lord often did in the Old Testament—and accomplished everything in the list above, without actually becoming a man. But He had one more reason for coming: He came to die.

Here’s a side to the Christmas story that isn’t often told: Those soft little hands, fashioned by the Holy Spirit in Mary’s womb, were made so that nails might be driven through them. Those baby feet, pink and unable to walk, would one day stagger up a dusty hill to be nailed to a cross. That sweet infant’s head with sparkling eyes and eager mouth was formed so that someday men might force a crown of thorns onto it. That tender body, warm and soft, wrapped in swaddling clothes, would one day be ripped open by a spear.

Jesus was born to die.

Don’t think I’m trying to put a damper on your Christmas spirit. Far from it—for Jesus’ death, though devised and carried out by men with evil intentions, was in no sense a tragedy. In fact, it represents the greatest victory over evil anyone has ever accomplished.

The author of Hebrews illustrates how the full story of His birth includes His sacrificial death:

But we do see Him who was made for a little while lower than the angels, namely, Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone. For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings. . . . Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives. (Hebrews 2:9-10, 14-15)

It’s appropriate to commemorate the birth of Christ. But don’t make the mistake of leaving Him as a baby in a manger. Keep in mind that His birth was just the first step in God’s glorious plan of redemption. Remember that it’s the triumph of Christ’s sacrificial death that gives meaning to His humble birth. You can’t truly celebrate one without the other.

(Adapted from The Miracle of Christmas.)


Available online at: http://www.gty.org/resources/Blog/B141219
COPYRIGHT ©2014 Grace to You

By John McAteer

“Do you believe in coincidence?” This is a key question in Exodus: Gods and Kings, the 2014 film directed by Ridley Scott of Alien and Blade Runner fame. Joshua’s father Nun (played by Ben Kingsley) believes his chance meeting with Moses (played by Christian Bale) has been ordained by God. At this point early in the film, Moses is skeptical. Sometimes it is hard to tell if something is meaningful or a coincidence. Sometimes the coincidences pile up until we have no choice but to believe they are the intentional design of an intelligent Being. At other times, an unusual occurrence may just be a coincidence that we are reading too much into. Not every natural disaster is God’s judgment, and not every dream is a message from God.

Exodus establishes the theme of ambiguous coincidences right from the start. The film begins with an Egyptian priestess examining the entrails of a sacrificed bird. “What do the entrails say?” Pharaoh asks her. “They don’t say anything,” replies the priestess. “They imply,” and thus they are open to “interpretation.”

CLICK HERE for Amazon Kindle deals in Christian Apologetics: Over 200 titles from 99 cents to $5.99!

As a film, Exodus is also open to interpretation. It can be hard to see this if we approach the film unaware of our own assumptions. As believers, we are often so familiar with biblical stories, we read into cinematic portrayals things that are not there. To evaluate a movie’s interpretation of the Bible, we should ask ourselves how a non-Christian would interpret the movie if he or she didn’t know anything about the Bible. We have to be sure to see only what is there and not what we assume is there.

In the case of Exodus, the film is ambiguous. Director Ridley Scott is a self-described atheist, so why would he make a film about religion? He has something to say about religion, but he can’t say it unambiguously, or Christians won’t go to see his movie. And he needs Christians to see the movie in order to recoup his $140 million budget. So he doesn’t say anything about religion. He implies it.

For those who have eyes to see, Exodus: Gods and Kings presents an important picture of American cultural attitudes toward religion today. Scott has updated the old-fashioned biblical epic for the twenty-first century. But he does more than simply add computer effects to a story we’ve already seen before. He uses the biblical story to reflect a new idea about religion. For Scott, as indeed for many people these days, religion is an irrational superstition, and the God of the Bible is a moral monster. This is a biblical epic Richard Dawkins could love…

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Originally posted on Wretched with Todd Friel:

Episode 1522

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Originally posted on :

SBC state conventions are teaching “Vision Casting,” Beth Moore is receiving direct divine revelation about hairbrushes, SBC seminary professors are giving credence to Heaven Tourism and Lifeway is selling Sarah Young’s divine revelation. Obviously, there’s lots of evidence that the SBC largely became tongueless charismatics a long time ago.

A few things are indicating the SBC is going well beyond tongueless charismania and beginning to embrace (if not promote) the Word of Faith. First was Ed Stetzer (Director of Lifeway Research) tweeting a pic of Hillsong’s Word-of-Faith Pastrix, Christine Caine.10347542_10204243242780159_791120990500868926_n

Have no fear! Christine Caine has also preached (yes, preached) for other Southern Baptists, including Steven Furtick and Beth Moore. And then comes this unbelievable tweet from Steve Gaines (above). The content is truly amazing. Not only are we placing “spiritual curses” by using “curse words” but “words are verbal seeds that reap a harvest.” Folks, this…

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Originally posted on Zwinglius Redivivus:

via the twitter

via the twitter

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Originally posted on Wintery Knight:

I saw that Triablogue quoted this passage from William Lane Craig’s April 2013 newsletter, which made me very excited and happy.

Here it is:

One overwhelming impression of these engagements is the way in which the intellectual defense of Christian faith attracts men. Both at Texas A&M and again at Miami every single student who got up to ask a question was a guy! I wondered if the girls are just shy. But then I remembered a lengthy clip Jan and I watched of cast members of Downton Abbey doing a Q&A with an audience in New York. Almost every person who came to the microphone at that event was a woman! It wasn’t until late into the evening that a man finally asked a question, which was remarked by all the cast members. Why the difference between that session and the ones I experienced?—simply because the Downton Abbey…

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Given what I’ve written in the previous posts (PART 1, PART 2, PART 3 and PART 4), I think the best model of interaction between science and theology is convergence. What is convergence? Philosopher Garry DeWeese defines it this way: “Science and theology sometimes tell us different kinds of things, and sometimes the same kind of things, about the same thing (the real world). When done ideally, they will not conflict but will converge on a unified description of reality” (in his handout entitled, “The Relation Between Science and Theology”). Let us examine several important features of convergence.

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Originally posted on J.W. Wartick -"Always Have a Reason":

st nicholas-heretics-presentsMerry Christmas everybody! It’s just around the corner and I wanted to share some apologetics posts related to Christmas and our Lord going into this week. We have some awesome topics and reading here, so be sure to check them all out and let me know what you think!

Advent Series: Christological Heresies- Here, you can read about a number of historic Christological heresies. Why would you want to? Well the easiest answer is that heresies keep popping up with new names and supporters. Read through this series for some solid Christology.

God and Santa Claus- Are the cases for evidence for Santa Claus and God really on par as atheists sometimes claim? Here’s a brief post highlighting some errors with this notion.

The Jewish Background of the Incarnation in the Gospel of John- Eric Chabot here puts forward a wide-ranging look at Jewish views that are…

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And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.
– John 1:14 -

Over the past two weeks, I’ve been considering Christmas according to John, as John gives us a fresh, theological look into the significance of Christmas in the opening of his Gospel. My goal has been to fight against the familiarity of Christmas and cause us to be properly affected by the glory of the incarnation as John presents it, particularly in John 1:14.

Two weeks ago, we looked at how Yahweh dwelt among His people in His tabernacle. Then, last Friday, we considered how the dwelling place of Yahweh is inseparable from His glory. We saw that first in the tabernacle, then in the temple, and finally in Jesus. And so John is proclaiming to his audience that in the same way that the glory which filled the tabernacle and temple were Yahweh’s own self-expression and the manifestation of His presence, so this Jesus is Yahweh’s own self-expression and the manifestation of His presence.

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This should be read and re-read!
What you believe makes a big difference in your Christian life. Even if the categories of formal theology seem remote and unfamiliar, you have a theology. Everything you think about God, Jesus, law, sin, salvation, holiness, the Spirit, the church, human nature, life, death, and eternity is theological. We are all theologians. The real question is whether or not our theologies are true to Scripture.

One of the most important areas of theology is sanctification: the doctrine that concerns our consecration to God, the restoration and renewal of God’s image within us, and our practical progress in holiness. I’ve seen a number of common errors that Christians make in this area. In fact, here are seven errors to avoid in following Christ.
Click HERE for the article.

@JoelOsteen tweets “When you get up in the morning, declare that something good is going to happen.”

“That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:10,11

joel-osteen-almost-never-mentions-name-of-jesus-when-he-tweets-twitter

Joel Osteen is the pastor of the largest church in America, Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas. His form and likeness appear on magazine covers at the supermarkets, on best-selling books, on board games, and on nearly every talk and interview show on television. He is very active on social media, especially on Twitter where he has logged over 12,000 tweets to over 3 million followers.

So just for fun tonight, I paid a visit to his Twitter account and read through every text for the past year. His most recent text was today, and his oldest, visible text was posted on November 25th, 2013. As I scrolled through his tweets, I made some shocking discoveries for the man referred to as “America’s Pastor”.

In the last year, Joel has tweeted roughly 806 times. He used the word God in a general sense 261 times, he never quoted the bible, and used the words “dream” or “dreams” as in achieving your dreams 66 times. Here is what searches for the following words turned up:

  • Jesus, Christ (2 tweets for Easter) – April 19th
  • Christ (1 tweet for Easter) – April 20th
  • Jesus (1 tweet as a plug for movie he was promoting “Son Of God) – February 27th
  • Scripture Quotes – None
  • God – 261 times
  • Dream – 47 times
  • Dreams – 19 times
  • Salvation – None
  • Hell – None
  • Repent – None
  • Sin – None
  • Sins – 1 time
  • Blessing – 18 times

But here was the biggest shocker of them all. The most visible and most popular Christian pastor in America only used the words “Jesus” and “Christ” 2 times each! And 3 of those tweets was because it was Easter, and the other was a plug for a movie! In the past 13 months, Osteen has invoked the Name of Jesus Christ less than 0.0025% in all his public tweets.

That means Joel has almost never tweeted about the redeeming love of Jesus, almost never tweeted about His shed blood on the cross, never tweeted about Jesus Christ for any reason except to promote a movie and the pagan holiday of Easter.

Here are Joel’s only two Jesus tweets:

Joel Osteen’s Twitter account contains no bible, no verses, no gospel, no salvation, and worst of all, no Jesus Christ. The 43,000 people who fill his stadium week should rise up with one voice and demand he begin to preach the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ as the Apostle Paul commanded. And because I am positive that Joel could not, on a bet, find that gospel in the bible, NTEB is providing it here, free of charge, for him:

“Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:” 1 Corinthians 15:1-4

Seriously, Joel, you should be ashamed…and you will be when you stand before Him whose Name you are so ashamed of. Jesus Christ.

The post The Shocking Missing Word That Joel Osteen Has Almost Never Tweeted appeared first on Now The End Begins.

Spent the vast majority of the program reviewing the videos I responded to from Kiev regarding Rick Warren.  Since some folks do not follow the blog or FaceBook, and only listen to the DL, I felt it important to address Warren’s claims and statements on the program.  And, of course, I could go into more detail on the DL.  Then, right at the end, I played a few moments from a “deep fractal zoom” on the Mandelbrot Fractal.  See the video, and Dr. Jason Lisle’s discussion of this incredible “fingerprint of God” below.

Here is the audio player for the show:

Here is the YouTube link:

Source

by NTEB Feature Story Contributor Geri Ungurean

In my testimony “From Jew to Completed Jew” I spoke of searching to find the truth about Yeshua from childhood

“Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.” Romans 10:1

I would imagine that this desire, which I believe God placed in my heart, is not the case with most Jews. So, how should a believer share the Good News that Yeshua is indeed the long awaited Jewish Messiah with Jewish people?

The Christian couple who told me about Jesus, and prayed with me that night in 1983 to receive Him as my Lord and Savior, showed me so much love before that night. They knew that someone very close to me had taken her own life. They knew that I was so sad and very fragile.

They loved me with their words, but they showed that love was genuine by their actions. They cooked food, watched our kids, and made themselves available to us during those very dark days before the funeral. It was the night of the funeral that I broke down in front of them, telling them that I just didn’t understand how God could allow something like this to happen.

sharing-salvation-in-jesus-christ-yeshua-messiah-with-jewish-people-israel-genesis-12-3-john-3-16

During college, the Gospel had been shared with me on two occasions. Both times I rejected the Gospel message, and told both groups of Christians that I was Jewish. I told them that they should not talk to Jews about Jesus.

When I think of that now, it seems humorous – Yeshua, who they called Raboni (Rabbi) should not be shared with Jews? And who were the first Christians? They were not a bunch of Italians! They were Jews!

So, getting back to sharing Jesus with Jewish people, it seems that most people don’t even want to try. As a Jewish Christian, I feel that I should give encouragement, and perhaps some pointers to those of you who want very much to know how to share our Lord with Jewish people.

Become friends first

My people are pretty smart. They know if you really care about them. Nothing will turn them off faster than if they think you are looking at them as a project. Get to know them and show interest in them and what they believe. Many people are surprised to find out that most Jews are secular. A lot of Jews do not even know much about the Old Testament. A lot don’t even believe that God is real!

Most Jews are very proud of their history and traditions. When I was schooled in the synagogue, my teacher spoke of the persecution we suffered through the centuries, and how we were always scapegoats. I have learned most of the Old Testament as a Jewish Christian!

Use the Bible

There is so much power in the Word of God. Most Jews have no knowledge of the New Testament, and very little of the Old Testament! Remember what the Bible says about God’s Word:

“So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.”
(Isaiah 55:11)

Talk about the Old Testament. Even thought most Jews have not studied it, it will mean a lot to them that you love it. The Scriptures should always be our reference when witnesses to Jews or to anyone!

Present Yeshua as a person

Do not get discouraged if your Jewish friend rejects Christianity. Most Jews view Christianity as persecution — and to a point, they are right! They don’t understand the difference between the Vatican and Evangelical Christians. It’s best to present Jesus the Messiah to a Jewish person. Better yet, call Him Yeshua the Messiah.

There are Jews who think that Jesus was once a nice Jewish boy, but then He converted. I know that sounds ridiculous to those of us who have been redeemed, but please remember that most Jews have been hardened to the Gospel. In Romans 11, Paul so eloquently explains why there was a partial hardening. It was for the sake of the Gentiles, until the fullness of them have come into the Kingdom.

They will not give up their Jewishness Make sure that your friend knows that you are not asking them to “convert.” Reassure them that you are simply attempting to help them see the Jewish Messiah.

Watch your terminology

Practice not using certain words and replace them with better ones for Jewish people. Use Messiah instead of Christ. When speaking of the Cross – use tree instead. When referring to Jesus, use Yeshua. These changes will make a big difference to how your witnessing progresses with your Jewish friend.

Affirm your friend’s Jewishness

Speak of the Jewish holidays. Ask questions about the some of the holidays. It will endear the friend to you that you are interested in these things. Make sure they know that believing in Yeshua does not mean giving up their Jewish identity.

Speak about your love for Israel. So many in the world are anti-Semitic. It will mean the world to your Jewish friend to know that you love Israel!

Share your Testimony

It will mean a lot to your Jewish friend, to hear that you had to come to faith in Yeshua too! Your personal testimony is a powerful tool in witnessing to everyone! Look for a need they might have, to pray for them. When there is something serious going on in someone’s life, rarely do they turn down prayer.

Introduce your friend to a Jewish believer

If it is possible, introduce the friend to another Jew who has believed in Yeshua for salvation. I tell people all the time to feel free to share my testimony with Jewish friends, and even to give them my email if they want to converse with me.

Studying the Gospels

If your friend seems even a little bit interested, suggest that they study the Gospels for him/her self. Again, there is incredible power in the Word of God.

The Messianic Prophecies

I’ve never met a Jewish person who has any idea of the hundreds of Messianic prophecies from the Old Testament being fulfilled to the letter in the New Testament. That is powerful stuff!!

I have taken this directly from Chosen People Ministries. If you go to this source, you will find much more detail of these prophecies. This is beautifully presented, and should be printed out for reference when witnessing to your Jewish friend: [1]

Studying Messianic prophecy

Another good way to study is to review Old Testament Messianic prophecy-which paints a picture of the Messiah-and then look to the New Testament for the fulfillment of those prophecies. Remember, your Jewish friend is beginning his study with little background, even in the Old Testament. Begin with some of the major Messianic prophecies.

Try to point out the context of the passages and allow your friend to discover many of the truths for himself. Ask questions as you go over the text. Let your friend read the passage and see if he can answer some questions you ask of the text. “To what does the prophet refer?” “Who fits that description?” These questions will help your Jewish friend grapple with the text and come to his own conclusions.

Encourage your friend to use his own Jewish Bible if he has one. Be aware, though, that the order of the books is different, and some verses are numbered slightly differently as well (we will note it when there is a difference).

We will now briefly outline some major Messianic prophecies. Try not to present too many of them at once. Your Jewish friend will need some time to “digest” the information before you go on!

1. The origin and birthplace of the Messiah

Prophecy: Micah 5:2 (5:1 in the Jewish Bible)

“But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.”

Fulfillment: Matthew 2:1

“Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem….”

2. The birth, ministry, and victory of Messiah

Prophecy: Genesis 3:15

“And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.”

Fulfillment: Galatians 4:4; Matthew 27:62-63; 1 John 3:8

“But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law”

3. A descendant of Abraham

Prophecy: Genesis 12:1-3

“Now the Lord had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee: And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.”

Fulfillment: Matthew 1:1

“The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.”

He sent out 72 of His disciples to preach the Gospel, a number which many believe parallels the list of nations in Genesis 10. Finally, when Jesus called Saul of Tarsus to be an Apostle, His specific commission to Saul (renamed Paul) was to “bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel” (Acts 9:5,15).

4. From the tribe of Judah

Prophecy:  Genesis 49:10

“The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be”

Fulfillment: Luke 3:33

“Which was the son of Aminadab, which was the son of Aram, which was the son of Esrom, which was the son of Phares, which was the son of Juda,”

5. From the house of David

Prophecy: 2 Samuel 7:12-13

“And when thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build an house for my name, and I will stablish the throne of his kingdom for ever.”

Fulfillment: Luke 3:31

6. Born of a virgin

Prophecy: Isaiah 7:14

“Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”

Fulfillment: Matthew 1:18, 22-23

7. God in the Flesh

Prophecy: Isaiah 9:6-7 (9:5-6 in Hebrew)

“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.”

Fulfillment: Matthew 1:1; John 1:14

“The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.”

“And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.”

8. A prophet like Moses

Prophecy: Deuteronomy 18:15

“The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken”

Fulfillment: John 6:14

“Then those men, when they had seen the miracle that Jesus did, said, This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world.”

9. The humility of Messiah

Prophecy: Zechariah 9:9

“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.”

Fulfillment: John 12:12-14

“On the next day much people that were come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, Took branches of palm trees, and went forth to meet him, and cried, Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord. And Jesus, when he had found a young ass, sat thereon; as it is written”

10. The crucifixion of Messiah

Prophecy: Psalm 22

“My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring?”

Fulfillment: Matthew 27, Mark 15, Luke 23, John 19:22-18; John 19:23-24).

“Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took his garments, and made four parts, to every soldier a part; and also his coat: now the coat was without seam, woven from the top throughout. They said therefore among themselves, Let us not rend it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be: that the scripture might be fulfilled, which saith, They parted my raiment among them, and for my vesture they did cast lots. These things therefore the soldiers did.”

11. The Suffering Servant

Prophecy: Isaiah 53

“Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed? For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.”

Fulfillment: John 1:1; Matthew 8:16-17; 26:62-63; 27:12-14, 38, 57-60; Mark 15:27-28; Luke 23:33; Romans 4:25; 1 Corinthians 15:3

Your Jewish friend might think, when he reads this passage, that he is reading from the New Testament. He may be surprised to see this in his own Bible!

This is perhaps the strongest of the Messianic prophecies. The prophecy actually begins in chapter 52 verse 13. It describes the priestly ministry of the Messiah Who would die as an innocent offering for the sins of the Jewish people. The prophecy has numerous points of fulfillment recorded in the Gospel accounts of the death of the Messiah. He was “like a lamb led to the slaughter,” an innocent sufferer who died on behalf of others.

This prophecy should affect your Jewish friend if he is really seeking the Lord. He might go back to a rabbi and hear that the prophecy refers to the nation of Israel, but the text does not support this interpretation. Notice verses 5 and 8, where the servant suffers for “our sins” and the “sins of my people.” Someone is suffering for the sins of another group. In Isaiah, the “group” can only be Israel. Therefore, the one suffering for Israel has to be one other than Israel. It can only be Messiah. The earliest rabbinic authorities ascribed this passage to the Messiah. [1]

These are just a few of the Messianic Prophecies fulfilled in the New Testament.

Don’t forget to pray for your Jewish friend every day. Ask the Lord to open their eyes and hearts to the truth of His Word!!

Shalom in Yeshua!

MARANATHA!

http://www.chosenpeople.com/main/evangelism/157-presenting-messiah-to-your-jewish-friend [1]

The post How To Share Yeshua The Messiah With The Jewish People appeared first on Now The End Begins.

About End-Times Events

By Patrick Wood

There are a number of well-known ministry leaders who are creating a large measure of confusion and fear among Bible-believing Christians regarding events that might take place in the “end days” that precede the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.

There are primarily two points of contention. First, there are those who speculate that fallen angels, or demons, are performing experiments using genetic modification and possibly even copulation with human women, to produce a hybrid race of beings that corrupts humanity and traps it in its fallen state. This often wraps in various sci-fi ideas and mystical notions of the Transhuman movement, which attempts to achieve godhood by applying science and technology to the human condition.

The second point concerns the study of Bible prophecy and how the book of Revelation should be interpreted and integrated with the many portions of the Old Testament that deal with prophecy. This centers primarily on the timing of the rapture of the church relative to the other events taking place during the Tribulation. The traditional view of a pre-tribulation rapture is under heavy attack in favor of other and newer views, such as mid-, post-, pre-wrath or intra-seal-tribulation rapture, prompting many Christians to wonder if they will, indeed, have to live through any part of the Tribulation or if they are destined to be martyred during that period.

This writer has no immediate intention of addressing these errors because it has been done already by others in numerous publications. However, it will suffice to offer the following counsel to help serious students of the Bible to find the truth and thus be insulated from deception and error that seems to be all around us.

Read more

The Scriptures tell us, “He who wins souls is wise” (Proverbs 11:30). If we are wise, we will discern the condition of a person’s heart. If he is a sincere Nicodemus, tell him the good news; if he is like the arrogant lawyer (Luke 10:25–29) who has no understanding of sin, righteousness, and judgment, use the Law to stir his conscience and will. If he is not conscious of his sin, use the Law to convict him. If he has knowledge of sin, give him the gospel. When the fruit is ripe, it should practically fall off the tree, as with the Ethiopian eunuch. God led Philip to a soul that was ripe for salvation! If you have to twist and pull an apple off a branch, you will probably find it to be sour.

Source

Those who eat a balanced and wholesome diet should seldomly become ill. Healthy people are usually able to combat minor infections without showing any symptoms. However, even healthy people become sick when their exposure to pathogens is persistent or they become too lax in their diets. Emotional stress can weaken the immune system too.

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Our usual recommendations about the avoidance of most sugars, and a diet featuring vegetables should be disregarded during sickness. While these healthy habits may be ideal for preventing illness, they can actually slow a body’s recovery when an infection has taken hold. During sickness, normal digestion is essentially suspended, and it is very common for the intestinal yeast to overrun the beneficial bacteria that normally helps to digest the more challenging foods, like vegetables.

What the body needs most during routine illnesses are sugary, salty, and fatty foods. Most people crave junk foods when they are sick because the body needs the ingredients of these foods to repair and defend itself. Sugars are generally regarded as villains, but it is important to remember that sugar is what gives the body energy. When a body is busy fighting an infection, sugars will provide emergency energy that a body needs, and they also help the patient to be more active. Foods that are high in fat allow the body to defend the nervous system from attack, and some of the fat will be used for energy production.

Most health-conscious people consume only small amounts of salt due to the categorical slander of salt by the medical establishment. As a result, health-conscious people are often deficient in salt, and the trace minerals that accompany sea salt. Salt helps to defend the body against invaders. Because of this, those who eat processed foods regularly are ironically better protected against routine illnesses than the health conscious are; but of course, those with healthier lifestyles fare much better against serious diseases. The white, minerally-stripped, and processed table salts have contributed to our modern epidemics by lacking the important minerals that salt is supposed to contain, so stick with sea salt if possible. Increasing salt intake during sickness would be a wise approach.

Some processed foods will actually be better for a person who is sick than what we normally consider to be healthy foods. The wisest approach during sickness is to obey any food cravings that arise, because the body knows exactly what it needs.

Some of the people who read this section will assume that our recommendations are terrible because the recommendations will produce an acidic body pH. This is true. However, it is impossible to maintain an alkaline body pH during times of infectious illness. The pattern is so reoccurring that the human body might actually be designed to become more acidic, as a means of creating an inhospitable environment for pathogenic invaders. We certainly know that attempts to maintain an alkaline pH during an infection are futile and counter-productive. Thus, a patient should try to work with whatever the body is doing, instead of against nature. When wellness is obtained again, all of the rules revert back to normal.

The following supplements are anti-viral and anti-bacterial. They will help the body to fight an infection. The dosages provided are just estimates, and minor changes will not be harmful.

The Anti-Virals

• Colloidal silver (3 fluid ounces 2-4 times a day)

• Neem * (500 mg. per 125 lbs. of body weight)

• Echinacea (400 mg. per 100 lbs. of body weight)

• St. John’s Wort * (300 mg. per 150 lbs. of body weight)

• Zinc (25 mg. per 100 lbs. of body weight)

• Yarrow (300 mg. per 150 lbs. of body weight)

• Goldenseal root (500 mg. per 120 lbs. of body weight)

• American ginseng (panax ginseng)

• Feverfew (250 mg. per 150 lbs. of body weight)

• Vitamin C (1 gram / 1,000 mg. twice a day for adults, and half for children)

• Alcohol (Explained later)

Read the rest of the article

Getting prepared for the chaos that is coming to America in the years ahead is not that complicated. Help is out there – if you know where to look. And it doesn’t have to be expensive either. In this article, I have put together a list of 122 of the best prepper websites on the Internet that will teach you how to prep for free. The great thing about the prepper community is that there are always highly skilled people that are willing to freely share their knowledge and experience with the general public. As the publisher of The Economic Collapse Blog, I am constantly being asked about what people need to do in order to get prepared for the hard times that are coming to this country. And when I am asked, I do my best to encourage people to build up their emergency funds, to store food and supplies, to put together bug out bags and to do everything that they can to become more independent of the system. But sometimes people need a lot more than that. Sometimes people need to have someone give them some real hands on practical advice about things like canning food or setting up home defense systems. So in this article my goal is to connect you with some of the top experts from all over the nation for free. I think that this list is going to be a great resource for people that they can reference again and again, so don’t forget to bookmark it. (Read More…)

Celebrating the birth of Christ

Join us in celebrating the birth of Christ! As our special gift to you we wanted to make this in-app and online broadcast of “The Birth of Jesus: Myth or Miracle?” available to you.

On December 25th millions of people will celebrate Christmas and look toward Bethlehem as the place Jesus was born. There are many questions surrounding the birth of Jesus: Was His birth a miracle or a myth? Does archaeological evidence support the Gospel accounts? Was Jesus miraculously born of a virgin? Many details of Jesus’ conception and birth appear only in Luke. Can we trust what he said? Did the “virgin birth” story spring from pagan mythology? Were the Gospel writers trying to cover up the fact that Jesus was illegitimately born?

Learn from some of the world’s leading scholars including:

Dr. Craig Blomberg, Dr. Darrell L. Bock, Dr. William Lane Craig, Dr. Craig Evans, Dr. Claire Pfann, Dr. Stephen Pfann, Dr. Ben Witherington, Dr. N.T. Wright, Dr. Gary Habermas

Broadcast: The Birth of Jesus: Myth or Miracle?

Watch Part 2 of Series

Watch Part 3 of Series

Read more

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