Sep. 17, 2014

BLOOMBERG

Debt of junk-rated Puerto Rico is beating the entire $3.7 trillion municipal-bond market in 2014 and all U.S. states. Take volatility into account and the securities come in dead last.

President Obama said the Ebola outbreak in western Africa is spiraling out of control and the U.S. must take the lead in delivering supplies and medical personnel to stem its spread.

About 9,000 U.S. taxpayers have each accumulated at least $5 million in individual retirement accounts, said the GAO, raising questions about some investors’ tax-advantaged returns.

Russian investment fell more than analysts forecast last month and retail-sales growth held near the slowest since 2010, as the crisis in Ukraine batters the $2 trillion economy.

The cost of living in the U.S. unexpectedly dropped, 0.2 percent, in August for the first time in more than a year, showing inflation is falling short of the Federal Reserve’s goal as policy makers meet.

U.K. unemployment fell to the lowest in six years, indicating continued strength in the labor market that Bank of England Governor Mark Carney says will eventually boost earnings.

A vote in favor of Scottish independence tomorrow threatens to weigh down a booming housing market should thousands of homeowners become debtors of foreign lenders.

Saudi Arabia will need to keep cutting oil output to sustain prices above $100 a barrel, even after the kingdom’s largest reduction in two years, according to BNP Paribas and Societe Generale SA.

Panasonic, the supplier of lithium-ion cells that plans to help Tesla Motors build a battery factory, said cooperation with the U.S. electric-car maker will probably boost demand from European automakers.

Billionaire Vladimir Evtushenkov was placed under house arrest yesterday on suspicion of money laundering, making him the richest Russian to face criminal charges since Mikhail Khodorkovsky.

Bill Gross is relying on derivatives rather than Janet Yellen to raise his returns on government bonds. The co-founder of Pacific Investment Management Co. sold most of the $48 billion of U.S. Treasuries held by his $221.6 billion Pimco Total Return Fund in the second quarter, replacing them with about $45 billion of futures.

AP Top Stories

It’s like Florida’s version of The Blob. Slow moving glops of toxic algae in the northeast Gulf of Mexico are killing sea turtles, sharks and fish, and threatening the waters and beaches that fuel the region’s economy. Known as “red tide,” this particular strain called Karenia brevis is present nearly every year off Florida, but large blooms can be particularly devastating.

A woman convicted of the 2004 starving death of a 9-year-old boy is scheduled to die on Wednesday by lethal injection at a Texas state prison, authorities said.

Al Qaeda’s South Asia wing has claimed responsibility for hijacking a Pakistani naval ship and trying to use it to fire rockets at U.S.

Cuts to the nation’s food stamp program enacted this year are only affecting four states, far from the sweeping overhaul that Republicans had pushed. As of now, the cuts will only affect Michigan, Wisconsin, New Jersey and New Hampshire. All but New Hampshire have Republican governors.

At least 15 children died after receiving vaccinations in rebel-held parts of Syria, and activists said Wednesday that the death toll from two days of government airstrikes in the central city of Talbiseh climbed to nearly 50, a heavy toll even by the vicious standards of the country’s civil war.

Islamic State has won new recruits in Syria since President Barack Obama signaled last week that air strikes against the group will be expanded from Iraq to its strongholds in northern and eastern Syria, a group monitoring the war said.

The world will be watching the latest announcement from the Federal Reserve a little more closely this time around. The added interest is due in part to the internal struggle going on behind the scenes at the Fed between doves like Chair Janet Yellen and her more hawkish colleagues, including Philadelphia Fed president Charles Plosser, who dissented at the last meeting.

BBC

The Ebola outbreak could have a catastrophic economic impact on the economies of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, the World Bank said.

Ukraine will screen one million civil servants for loyalty to the new government and root out corrupt practices, Prime Minister Arseniy Yatseniuk said.

South Korean authorities said they have detained an American man they believe was trying to swim to North Korea.

South Sudan government issues an order to non-governmental organisations and private firms to fire foreign workers by mid-October amid an aid crisis.

Almost 50 people have been killed by two days of government air strikes in an opposition-held town in central Syria, activists said.

WND

An upstate New York man accused of plotting to kill members of the U.S. military and others faces new charges that he tried to aid the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq.

Concerns about possible independence are pushing Scottish investors to the security of gold.

Nearly half of Chinese millionaires plan to move out of the country in the next five years-a flight that could add to worries over the country’s economy, as more money moves offshore rather than being invested or spent in China.


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Is This a New War on Terror?

Twelve counterterrorism thinkers weigh in on how we should we classify the “light-footprint” president’s new military campaign.

Read more: http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2014/09/is-this-a-new-war-on-terror-111022.html


Is It Wise For Obama To Send Thousands Of U.S. Troops Into The Ebola Death Zone?

When there is a major problem somewhere in the world, Barack Obama loves to show that he is “doing something” by sending a contingent of U.S. troops to the affected area. But is it really wise for Obama to send thousands of young American men and women into the Ebola death zone? What are our troops going to do – shoot the virus? Of course not. The UN already has 6,000 uniformed peacekeepers in the region, and they are not doing much good. The truth is that this is a medical crisis that requires medical personnel. By sending thousands of troops into the heart of the Ebola pandemic, we make it much more likely that Ebola will be brought back to the United States. Obama should keep in mind that hundreds of health workers have become infected even though they wear protective gear and are trained to deal with Ebola patients. Our troops have not been trained to deal with Ebola patients and they probably will not be wearing full protective gear when dealing with the general population. But there are sick people among the general population that could pass Ebola to them. (Read More…)


The Number Of Volcanic Eruptions Is Increasing And That Could Lead To An Extremely Cold Winter

The number of volcanoes that are erupting continues to rise, and scientists cannot seem to explain why this is happening. In 2013, we witnessed the most volcanic eruptions worldwide that we have ever seen in a single year, and this increased activity has carried over into 2014. In recent months, we have seen major volcanoes roar to life in Russia, Peru, Hawaii, Reunion Island, Indonesia, and all over Alaska. It is highly unusual for so many volcanoes to all be erupting at the same time. According to Volcano Discovery, a whopping 34 volcanoes are erupting around the globe right now. This is sending a massive amount of dust and ash into the upper atmosphere, and it may explain why many parts of the planet are experiencing strangely cold weather at the moment. If this trend continues, we could potentially be facing years of crop failures and widespread famines all over the world. (Read More….)


Constitution Day — In the Company of Heroes

Pro Deo et Constitutione
Every September 17th, your Patriot Post team observes Constitution Day.

By Mark Alexander

http://patriotpost.us/alexander/29208


Global Un-Warming? Antarctic Sea-Ice Reaches Record High Levels

In what appears to be an awkward moment of uncomfortable fact, ABC reports satellite imagery reveals an area of about 20 million square kilometres covered by sea ice around the Antarctic continent – the highest level of coverage since records began.

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2014-09-15/global-un-warming-antarctic-sea-ice-reaches-record-high-levels


German virologist says world has lost Sierra Leone and Liberia to Ebola; should focus on containing disease

The window has officially closed on containing the Ebola outbreak, apart from massive international assistance. Sierra Leone and Liberia, the two hardest-hit countries, have likely already been lost to the disease, claims Jonas Schmidt-Chanasit Speaking to Germany’s Deutsche Welle (DW), Schmidt-Chanasit anticipates a regional pandemic in West Africa, one that could very well infect nearly everybody with Ebola, killing many of them in the process.

http://revolutionradio.org/?p=82500


Benghazi documents scrubbed to protect Hillary

“She told me, ‘Ray, we are to go through these stacks and pull out anything that might put anybody in the [Near Eastern Affairs] front office or the seventh floor in a bad light,'” Maxwell told The Daily Signal, the news outlet for the conservative Heritage Foundation….[view article]


Trust in Mass Media Returns to All-Time Low

After registering slightly higher trust last year, Americans’ confidence in the media’s ability to report “the news fully, accurately, and fairly” has returned to its previous all-time low of 40%. Americans’ trust in mass media has generally been edging downward from higher levels in the late 1990s and the early 2000s.

http://www.gallup.com/poll/176042/trust-mass-media-returns-time-low.aspx


Why much of what our media say is a lie

Whenever a minority masquerades as a majority, the real majority is made to feel like a minority. Too many of us today have been made to feel awkward and defensive about our lifestyles, values and morality.

http://www.jewishworldreview.com/0914/why_much_of_what_our_media_say_is_a_lie.php3


NFL’s Rice and Peterson scandal outrage underscores this society’s moral disqualification and hypocrisy

(Gabriel Garnica) – Let me begin by making it clear that what Ray Rice and Andre Peterson have done is despicable and heinous, and should rightly be the source of outrage and wide societal disapproval.


ISIS vs the Way of Jesus

ISIS has morphed out of Al Qaeda, a network too liberal for their radical Islamic interpretations. They believe there should be a new national Muslim identity – a Caliphate. They have chosen Iraq and al-Sham (the Levant) as the territory from which this new “state” will emerge. And they have killed thousands, mostly non-Sunnis, in this quest for power….[view article]


Yale chaplain’s resignation reflects larger mainline tensions over Israel

When an Episcopal chaplain at Yale University seemed to suggest that Jews were culpable for Israel’s actions against Palestinians and a related rise in global anti-Semitism, his comments not only led to his resignation but rekindled a debate within mainline Protestant churches about how to respond to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict….[view article]


Albert Mohler Blog: “Biblical Theology and the Sexuality Crisis”

In his recent Blog Essay, “Biblical Theology and the Sexuality Crisis,” Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr. writes about the importance of having a robust biblical theology as Christians engage with the sexual revolution. He writes:

“The sexuality crisis has demonstrated the failure of theological method on the part of many pastors. The ‘concordance reflex’ simply cannot accomplish the type of rigorous theological thinking needed in pulpits today. Pastors and churches must learn the indispensability of biblical theology and must practice reading Scripture according to its own internal logic—the logic of a story that moves from creation to new creation. The hermeneutical task before us is great, but it is also indispensable for faithful evangelical engagement with the culture.”

Click here to read more


The kind of love God has given

by Ken Silva

Due to confusing teaching within Christendom today, in this piece Apprising Ministries looks at who the Bible teaches are the children of God.

http://apprising.org/2014/09/16/the-kind-of-love-god-has-given/


Convention Unanimously Votes to Boot Congregation for Supporting Homosexuality

The California Southern Baptist Convention Executive Board has unanimously voted to withdraw fellowship from a local Southern Baptist congregation after its minister affirmed his support for homosexuality.

http://christiannews.net/2014/09/16/convention-unanimously-votes-to-boot-congregation-for-supporting-homosexuality/


Satanists handing out religious literature at schools

The Satanic Temple of New York City has been granted permission to pass out its literature to students in public schools in the Orlando, Florida, area after district officials declined to prohibit distribution of religious materials.

http://www.wnd.com/2014/09/1235485/


Over 125 Free eBooks Listed Alphabetically by Author

We believe the Church should have open access to Scripturally/Theologically sound edifying Christian literature and that one need not be held back from having a significant Christian library because of cost. Our ministry at Monergism involves providing quality Christian literature in accessible formats for free. Most of these eBooks are high quality and available in both ePub and .mobi (kindle) formats with actively linked table of contents. The link(s) below will take you to the download page. Lord Willing, this list will continue to grow. (We have more… just need to locate them) Read more


Perry Noble & NewSpring Kick-Off Tithing Season with Parody of Themselves!!


 

John MacArthur on The Ordinary Church

Pastor John MacArthur’s recent sermon on Acts 2:42-47 takes up an issue near and dear to our own hearts: the ordinary Christian life and the ordinary church. You can find audio, video, and a transcript of the sermon here. We agree with him that the primary problem is American revivalism and the pervasive influence of Charles Finney. Source

 


Words of Comfort: Faked it.
Jeff Klein said, “I was a believer too, until about 10 years ago. I thought I had a relationship with God too, but I realized that it was just a placebo.”

It’s good that you admit such a truth. You faked it. It was just a placebo. You (and many others on this site) had a false conversion. You never knew the Lord. Read Mark 4 to see what happened, and then http://www.needGod.com for what you can do about it. Source


ADORATION: Address God with Reverence and Awe

Having thus engaged our hearts to approach God. Jeremiah 30:21(ESV)

1
We must solemnly address ourselves to that infinitely great and glorious Being with whom we have to do, as those who are possessed with a full belief of his presence and a holy awe and reverence of his Majesty, which we may do in such expressions as these:

Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come! Revelation 4:8(ESV)

O you whose name is the LORD, who alone are the Most High over all the earth. Psalm 83:18(ESV)

O God, you are our God, earnestly we seek you; Psalm 63:1(ESV) our God, and we will praise you; our fathers’ God, and we will exalt you. Exodus 15:2(ESV)

O you who are the true God, the living God, the one only living and true God, 1 Thessalonians 1:9(ESV) and the everlasting King! Jeremiah 10:10(ESV) The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Deuteronomy 6:4(ESV)

And may we thus distinguish ourselves from the worshipers of false gods.

The idols of the nations are silver and gold, they are vanity and a lie, the work of human hands; Psalm 115:4(ESV) those who make them become like them, so do all who trust in them. Psalm 115:8(ESV) But the Portion of Jacob is not like these, for he is the one who formed all things, and Israel is the tribe of his inheritance; the LORD of hosts is his name, Jeremiah 10:16(ESV) God over all, blessed forever. Romans 9:5(ESV)

Their rock is not as our Rock; our enemies are by themselves, Deuteronomy 32:31(ESV) for he is the Rock of ages; the LORD GOD is an everlasting rock: Isaiah 26:4(ESV) His name endures forever, and his renown throughout all ages, Psalm 135:13(ESV) even when the gods who did not make the heavens and the earth shall perish from the earth and from under the heavens. Jeremiah 10:11(ESV)

Matthew Henry’s Method for Prayer

 

One side says, “Salvation is by grace and grace alone.” The other side counters, “That idea leads to lawlessness. God’s righteous standard in the Law must be upheld.” And someone else chimes in with, “Salvation is by grace, but grace only comes to those who obey God’s Law.” At the root of the debate are differing views on the basis of salvation. The importance of the issue helps fuel the intensity of the discussion.

When the Bible speaks of “the law,” it refers to the detailed standard God gave to Moses, beginning in Exodus 20 with the Ten Commandments. God’s Law explained His requirements for a holy people and included three categories: civil, ceremonial, and moral laws. The Law was given to separate God’s people from the evil nations around them and to define sin (Ezra 10:11; Romans 5:13; 7:7). The Law also clearly demonstrated that no human being could purify himself enough to please God—i.e., the Law revealed our need for a Savior.

By New Testament times, the religious leaders had hijacked the Law and added to it their own rules and traditions (Mark 7:7–9). While the Law itself was good, it was weak in that it lacked the power to change a sinful heart (Romans 8:3). Keeping the Law, as interpreted by the Pharisees, had become an oppressive and overwhelming burden (Luke 11:46).

It was into this legalistic climate that Jesus came, and conflict with the hypocritical arbiters of the Law was inevitable. But Jesus, the Lawgiver, said, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them” (Matthew 5:17). The Law was not evil. It served as a mirror to reveal the condition of a person’s heart (Romans 7:7). John 1:17 says, “For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” Jesus embodied the perfect balance between grace and the Law (John 1:14).

God has always been full of grace (Psalm 116:5; Joel 2:13), and people have always been saved by faith in God (Genesis 15:6). God did not change between the Old and New Testaments (Numbers 23:19; Psalm 55:19). The same God who gave the Law also gave Jesus (John 3:16). His grace was demonstrated through the Law by providing the sacrificial system to cover sin. Jesus was born “under the law” (Galatians 4:4) and became the final sacrifice to bring the Law to fulfillment and establish the New Covenant (Luke 22:20). Now, everyone who comes to God through Christ is declared righteous (2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 Peter 3:18; Hebrews 9:15).

The conflict between Jesus and the self-righteous arose immediately. Many who had lived for so long under the Pharisees’ oppressive system eagerly embraced the mercy of Christ and the freedom He offered (Mark 2:15). Some, however, saw this new demonstration of grace as dangerous: what would keep a person from casting off all moral restraint? Paul dealt with this issue in Romans 6: “What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?” (verses 1–2). Paul clarified what Jesus had taught: the Law shows us what God wants (holiness), and grace gives us the desire and power to be holy. Rather than trust in the Law to save us, we trust in Christ. We are freed from the Law’s bondage by His once-for-all sacrifice (Romans 7:6; 1 Peter 3:18).

There is no conflict between grace and the Law, properly understood. Christ fulfilled the Law on our behalf and offers the power of the Holy Spirit, who motivates a regenerated heart to live in obedience to Him (Matthew 3:8; Acts 1:8; 1 Thessalonians 1:5; 2 Timothy 1:14). James 2:26 says, “As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.” A grace that has the power to save also has the power to motivate a sinful heart toward godliness. Where there is no impulse to be godly, there is no saving faith.

We are saved by grace, through faith (Ephesians 2:8–9). The keeping of the Law cannot save anyone (Romans 3:20; Titus 3:5). In fact, those who claim righteousness on the basis of their keeping of the Law only think they’re keeping the Law; this was one of Jesus’ main points in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:20–48; see also Luke 18:18–23).

The purpose of the Law was, basically, to bring us to Christ (Galatians 3:24). Once we are saved, God desires to glorify Himself through our good works (Matthew 5:16; Ephesians 2:10). Therefore, good works follow salvation; they do not precede it.

Conflict between “grace” and the “Law” can arise when someone 1) misunderstands the purpose of the Law; 2) redefines grace as something other than “God’s benevolence on the undeserving” (see Romans 11:6); 3) tries to earn his own salvation or “supplement” Christ’s sacrifice; 4) follows the error of the Pharisees in tacking manmade rituals and traditions onto his doctrine; or 5) fails to focus on the “whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27).

When the Holy Spirit guides our search of Scripture, we can “study to show ourselves approved unto God” (2 Timothy 2:15) and discover the beauty of a grace that produces good works.[1]

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

 

Though the statement is not found verbatim in the Bible, “idle hands are the devil’s workshop” has its roots in Scripture. The apostle Paul notes that those who waste their time in idleness or in a non-productive manner are easily led into sin: “We hear that some among you are idle. They are not busy; they are busybodies” (2 Thessalonians 3:11). By not using their time productively, these people were tempted to meddle in other people’s business and stand in the way of their progress. “They get into the habit of being idle and going about from house to house. And not only do they become idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying things they ought not to” (1 Timothy 5:13). These idlers and busybodies were wasting time that could have been used to help others. In essence, their lack of activity was leading them into sin.

Idleness is not the same as rest. The Bible advises people to rest, and taking breaks from work is good. By “idle” we mean “lazy” or “doing nothing when you should be doing something.” Idleness often stems from not having a specific goal or purpose in mind. With no goal, one can be easily distracted. The book of Proverbs warns us that sloppy or careless work is akin to malicious destruction: “One who is slack in his work is brother to one who destroys” (Proverbs 18:9).

We live in a sinful world, and a person who doesn’t have something particular to do will invariably be tempted to do something sinful. If we have nothing to do, the devil is all too eager to find things to occupy our time.

Paul and his fellow missionaries set an example of diligence for the church. “You yourselves know how you ought to follow our example. We were not idle when we were with you.… On the contrary, we worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you” (2 Thessalonians 3:7–8). Idleness was not a part of Paul’s lifestyle, and we can’t afford to countenance it in our lives, either.

Yes, “idle hands are the devil’s workshop.” The Lord knew that He needed to be about His Father’s business (Luke 2:49), and so should we. Jesus told us to pray for “workers” to be sent into the harvest field, not idlers (Luke 10:2). There is work to be done for the Kingdom, and we must not be distracted by the things of the world.[1]

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

 

The tree of life, referred to in Genesis, is the symbol of God’s provision for immortality in the Garden of Eden. Of all the trees that were in the Garden of Eden, two were named for their great importance, but just as one—the tree of life—was a blessing to Adam and Eve, the other was to become a curse for all of their posterity. “And the Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil” (Genesis 2:9).

The Lord told Adam that he was free to eat the fruit of any tree in the Garden, except for the tree of the knowledge of good and evil for by doing so he would surely die (Genesis 3:16–17). The tree of life was provided to be continuous reminder that immortality was a consequence of obedience. As long as Adam and Eve were obedient and did not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, they had access to the tree of life. Once they sinned, they were driven from the Garden, and God placed an angel with a flaming sword to guard the tree of life so they would no longer have access to it. Eternal life was now no longer theirs. Just as God had warned, they died, and through Adam all men after him would die (Romans 5:12).

By barring access to the tree of life, God showed compassion in His omniscience. Knowing that because of sin, life would be filled with sorrow and toil, He graciously limited the number of years men would live. To live eternally in a sinful state with its results—pain, disease, heartache, toil, and grief—would mean endless agony for humanity, with no hope of the relief that comes with death. By limiting our lifespan, God gives us enough time to come to know Him and His provision for eternal life through Christ, but spares us the misery of an endless existence in a sinful condition.

Because God knew that Adam would fail the conditions of his immortality, He provided for One who would redeem fallen mankind. Through one man, Adam, sin entered the world, but through another Man, Jesus Christ, redemption through the forgiveness of sin is available to all (Romans 5:17). Those who avail themselves of the sacrifice of Christ on the cross will see the tree of life again, for it stands in the middle of the Holy City, the New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:2, 22:1–2). Its water is the constant flow of everlasting life from God’s throne to God’s people.[1]

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Originally posted on Pastor Joe Quatrone, Jr.:

philippians 3.7Circumstances and people can rob us of joy, but so can things; and it is this “thief” that Paul deals with in Philippians 3. It is easy for us to get wrapped up in “things,” not only the tangible things we can see, but also the intangibles; such as, reputation, fame, and achievement. Jesus warns us that our lives do not consist in the abundance of things we possess (Lk. 12:15). Quantity is no assurance of quality. Many people who have the things money can buy have lost the things money cannot buy. We can be snared by both tangibles and intangibles, and as a result lose our joy.

The key word in Philippians 3:1–11 is count (vv. 7–8). It means to evaluate and assess. “The unexamined life is not worth living,” said Socrates. Yet, few people sit down to weigh seriously the values that control…

View original 1,205 more words

Code: B140917

The book titled I’m Dysfunctional, You’re Dysfunctional, by Wendy Kaminer, debunked much of the mystique of modern psychology.[1] The author did not purport to be a Christian. In fact, she described herself as “a skeptical, secular humanist, Jewish, feminist, intellectual lawyer.”[2]

Yet she wrote as a bitter critic of the marriage of religion and psychology. She noted that religion and psychology have always more or less deemed one another incompatible. Now she sees “not just a truce but a remarkable accommodation.”[3] Even from her perspective as an unbeliever, she could see that this accommodation has meant a change in the fundamental message Christians convey to the world. She wrote:

Religious writers would minimize or dismiss the effect of psychology on religion, fiercely denying that it has made doctrinal changes, but it does seem to have influenced the tone and packaging of religious appeals… Christian codependency books, like those produced by the Minirth-Meier clinic in Texas, are practically indistinguishable from codependency books published by secular writers… Religious writers justify their reliance on psychology by praising it for “catching up” to some eternal truths, but they’ve also found a way to make the temporal truths of psychology palatable.[4]

Some of the criticism Kaminer leveled against evangelicals is unwarranted or misguided, but in this respect she is right on target: Evangelicalism has been infiltrated by a worldly anthropology-psychology-theology that is diametrically opposed to the biblical doctrines of sin and sanctification. As a result of this accommodation, the church has compromised and hopelessly muddled the message it is to proclaim.

Psychology and worldly therapies have usurped the role of sanctification in some Christians’ thinking. Psychological sanctification has become a substitute for the Spirit-filled life.

But can psychotherapy possibly accomplish something that the Holy Spirit cannot? Can an earthly therapist achieve more than a heavenly Comforter? Is behavior modification more helpful than sanctification? Of course not.

The Paraclete

To understand the crucial role the Holy Spirit plays in meeting people’s inner needs, we must go back to what Jesus taught His disciples when He first promised them He would send the Holy Spirit. It happened on the night Jesus was betrayed. His crucifixion was drawing near, and the disciples were fearful and confused. When Jesus spoke to them about going away, their hearts were troubled (John 14:1). In that hour of turmoil, they feared being left alone. But Jesus assured them that they would not be left to fend for themselves. He comforted them with this wonderful promise:

I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you. (John 14:16–17)

“Helper” in verse 16 is the Greek word paraklētos, meaning someone called to another’s aid. First John 2:1 applies the same term to Jesus Himself: “If anyone sins, we have an Advocate [paraklētos] with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” The word is sometimes transliterated into English as “paraclete.”

It describes a spiritual attendant whose role is to offer assistance, succor, support, relief, advocacy, and guidance—a divine Counselor whose ministry to believers is to offer the very things that so many people vainly seek in therapy!

The promises Jesus made with regard to the Holy Spirit and His ministry are staggering in their scope. Let’s look at some of the key elements of this text.

A Divine Helper

The word translated “another” (allos) is a key to understanding the nature of the Holy Spirit. The Greek text carries a precision that is not immediately evident in English. The word means “another of the same kind,” as in, “That cookie was tasty; may I have another?”

In using this word, Jesus describes the Holy Spirit as “another [allos] Helper [of the same kind].” He was promising to send His disciples a Helper exactly like Himself—a compassionate, loving, divine Paraclete. They had grown dependent on Jesus’ ministry to them. He had been their Wonderful Counselor, Teacher, Leader, Friend, and had shown them the Father. But from now on, they would have another Paraclete, One like Jesus, to meet the same needs He had met.

Here, for the first time, Jesus gave the disciples extensive teaching about the Holy Spirit and His role. Note that our Lord spoke of the Spirit as a person, not an influence, not a mystical power, not some ethereal, impersonal, phantom force. The Spirit has all the attributes of personality (mind, Romans 8:27; emotions, Ephesians 4:30; and will, Hebrews 2:4) and all the attributes of deity (see Acts 5:3–4). He is another Paraclete of exactly the same essence as Jesus.

There was, however, a significant difference: Jesus was returning to the Father, but the Holy Spirit would “be with you forever” (John 14:16). The Holy Spirit is a constant, sure, trustworthy, divine Paraclete graciously given by Christ to His disciples to be with them forever.

A Guide to Truth

It is noteworthy that Jesus referred to the Holy Spirit as “the Spirit of truth” (v. 17). As God, He is the essence of truth; as a Paraclete, He is the One who guides us into truth. That is why apart from Him, it is impossible for sinful beings to know or understand any spiritual truth.

Jesus said, “The world cannot receive [Him], because it does not see Him or know Him” (v. 17). Echoing that truth, Paul wrote:

To us God revealed [things which the world cannot see or understand] through the Spirit… Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we might know the things freely given to us by God… But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. (1 Cor. 2:10, 12, 14)

Believers are actually taught spiritual truth by God Himself (see John 6:45). In fact, much of the Holy Spirit’s ministry to believers involves teaching them (John 14:26; 1 Corinthians 2:13; 1 John 2:20, 27); guiding them into the truth of Christ (John 16:13–14); and illuminating the truth for them (1 Corinthians 2:12).

After Jesus ascended to heaven, one of the crucial ministries of the Holy Spirit was to bring to the disciples’ minds what Jesus had said and to teach them what He meant: “These things I have spoken to you while abiding with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you” (John 14:25–26).

That means that the Holy Spirit enabled the disciples to recall the precise words Jesus had spoken to them, so that when they recorded them as Scripture, the words were perfect and error free. This assured that the gospel accounts were recorded infallibly, and that the apostolic teaching was unadulterated.

But this promise of our Lord also reveals the Holy Spirit as a supernatural Teacher who ministers truth to the hearts of those whom He indwells. The Spirit guides us into the truth of God’s Word. He teaches us, affirms the truth in our hearts, convicts us of sin, and often brings to mind specific truths and statements of Scripture that are applicable to our lives.

The Indwelling Presence

Look a little more closely at Jesus’ words at the end of John 14:17: “He abides with you and will be in you.” Our Lord was promising that the Holy Spirit would take up permanent, uninterrupted residence within His disciples. It was not only that the Spirit would be present with them; the greater truth was that He would be resident within them permanently.

This promise was not limited to the eleven apostles who were present that night. The Holy Spirit indwells every Christian. In verse 23, Jesus said, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him” (emphasis added). Paul, writing to the Corinthians, said, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?” (1 Corinthians 6:19). Thus each believer enjoys the permanent, continuing presence of the Holy Spirit living within.

The Holy Spirit in Biblical Counseling

The new birth is the Holy Spirit’s sovereign work (John 3:8). And every aspect of true spiritual growth in the life of the believer is prompted by the Spirit, using the truth of Scripture (17:17). The counselor who misses that point will experience failure, frustration, and discouragement.

Only the Holy Spirit can work fundamental changes in the human heart. Therefore, the Holy Spirit is the necessary agent in all effective biblical counseling. The counselor, armed with biblical truth, can offer objective guidance and steps for change. But unless the Holy Spirit is working in the heart of the counselee, any apparent change will be illusory, superficial, or temporary, and the same problems or worse ones will soon appear.

Conclusion

It is futile to follow the path of psychology and look within ourselves to find answers to our problems. And it is certainly true that those who focus on themselves, their childhood traumas, their wounded feelings, their emotional cravings, or other egocentric sources will never find genuine answers to their troubles.

The true believer, however, does have a Helper who dwells within. He is the Holy Spirit, who applies the objective truth of Scripture in the process of sanctification. Yet even He does not draw our attention inward, or to Himself. Instead, He directs our focus upward, to Christ. Jesus said, “When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me” (15:26).

Ultimately, it is unto Christ that the counselee’s focus must be directed. “Beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, [we] are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit” (2 Corithians 3:18). That is the process of sanctification. And it is the ultimate goal of all truly biblical counseling.

(Adapted from Counseling: How to Counsel Biblically)

[1] Wendy Kaminer, I’m Dysfunctional, You’re Dysfunctional (Reading, Mass.: Addison-Wesley, 1992).

[2] Ibid., 121.

[3] Ibid., 124.

[4] Ibid., 124-125.


Available online at: http://www.gty.org/resources/Blog/B140917
COPYRIGHT ©2014 Grace to You

 

swordIt’s a word with which much of the world has unfortunately become familiar in recent years: “jihad.” “Jihad” is the Arabic word which carries the idea of “struggle,” and is often referred to as “holy war” within Islam.

While not all Muslim scholars agree on the way in which holy war should look, one need not look far to understand what it means to many in our world today.

But though such wars have been going on for centuries, Christ would in no way attribute the term “holy” to them. Worship and devotion to the true God means loving, not murdering, our enemies. Those of different faiths are not to be the object of our killing, but praying.

There is, however, a true holy way commanded by God. This war is spiritual in nature. It is a war against ourselves, and against the lack of holiness within, the moment we become a Christian. The true holy war is physically peaceful towards others, but spiritually aggressive towards self. Its not about strategically hunting down, and systematically taking out, the enemies outside of us, but the enemy inside of us.

While God’s agenda advancement for his disciples today does not consist of killing others, it certainly consists of killing our own sin.

“Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry” (Col 3:5).

john-owen-by-john-greenhillThe 17th century puritan pastor, John Owen, has been greatly used of God to help the church in the holy war. He writes, “Do you mortify? Do you make it your daily work? Be always at it [while] you live; cease not a day from this work; be killing sin or it will be killing you.”

Now, studying sin may seem strange and undesirable to many. But our sin is not something we forget about simply because we are forgiven of it. An attraction to sin still exists inside the Christian because of our residual fallenness, the flesh. As such, it is our great enemy within. And its the thing which keeps us from doing what we most want: to love Christ. That’s why the true holy war is one of the sine qua non’s of the Christian life.

Here are 7 truths to arm God’s people for the holy war:

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Originally posted on Defending. Contending.:

After Bible Study the other night, we were sitting around talking, and someone mentioned that, before he knew the Lord, he wouldn’t attend church because he knew he wasn’t living right. Thankfully, he finally hit a place where he surrendered to the Lord, changed the things he knew needed to change, and surrendered his life to Christ.

I understand why churches stress the importance of coming to Jesus as you are instead of waiting to be cleaned up but it also seems like way too many stay as they are, even after making a profession of faith. Isaiah 1:18 says, “‘Come now, and let us reason together,’ said the LORD: ‘though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.'” This doesn’t mean your sins become white but that your life of sin disappears as you…

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Originally posted on Wintery Knight:

First it was “you can keep your doctor” then it was “you can keep your health plan”. Now it’s funding of abortions.

CNS News reports:

President Obama promised that under his health care plan, “no federal dollars will be used to fund abortion,” but that’s just another broken promise, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office, which indicates that public funding of abortion is happening on a large scale.

“This confirms what we have long suspected,” Rep. Joe Pitts (R-Penn.) said in a conference call with reporters on Monday.

Pitts and other Republicans asked the GAO to find out which taxpayer-subsidized plans in the Obamacare exchanges fund abortion and if consumers know about that coverage.

The report concluded that in 2014, more than a thousand federally subsidized Obamacare policies paid for abortion on demand, sometimes unbeknownst to policyholders. And in five states, every plan offered on…

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Originally posted on Samuel at Gilgal:

Bishop J. C. RyleBishop J. C. Ryle:

“Do nothing that you would not like God to see. Say nothing you would not like God to hear. Write nothing you would not like God to read. Go no place where you would not like God to find you. Read no book of which you would not like God to say, “Show it to Me.”

Never spend your time in such a way that you would not like to have God say, “What are you doing?”

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Originally posted on Possessing the Treasure:

by Mike Ratliff

25 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full of robbery and self- indulgence. 26 You blind Pharisee, first clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, so that the outside of it may become clean also. 27 “ Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. 28 So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. (Matthew 23:25-28 NASB)

Because of our old church going Purpose Driven in 2006, my wife and I left. The journey to find a new local church fellowship was a long and difficult one. One of the churches along the way was…

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7–8 James’s discussion of the tongue’s destructiveness continues by comparing it to the wildest of animals. James notes that every species of animal, bird, reptile, and sea creature is being tamed and has been tamed by human beings. “Tamed” can also mean “controlled” or “subdued.” The point is that, in relation to the other species of the earth, humans are distinct. In the creation of people and animals on the sixth day (Ge 1:24–28) God stated this distinction explicitly. He proclaimed in Genesis 1:26, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” James’s point is that the creation mandate of ruling over the lesser beasts had been carried out. Animals, birds, reptiles, and sea creatures are subdued. One must not think here of “tamed” as in a circus; rather, James has in mind humans as dominant.

Yet, irony of ironies, that small beast, the tongue, defies subjugation. James states plainly, “but no man can tame the tongue.” He probably speaks hyperbolically in v. 8, since his appeal is that those of the congregations do just that. Yet the two descriptions at the end of the verse leave no room for doubt concerning the seriousness with which the tongue must be taken. Like a wild animal pacing about, attack and tearing in its every thought, the tongue is a “restless evil.” The word “restless” (akatastatos, GK 190) also connotes the concept of being “unstable” and occurs in James’s description of the double-minded person of 1:8. In one ancient work, slander is personified as a “restless demon” (Shepherd of Hermas, Mand. 2:3). Moreover, this wild animal is full of death-dealing poison. The thought parallels Paul’s quote of Psalm 140:3 at Romans 3:13. There the apostle conflates a number of OT passages to speak of the comprehensive nature of human sin, pointing out that sin is often associated with the “mouth” (i.e., speech). He includes the quotation from Psalm 140:3, a psalm that describes wicked people of violence who devise evil plans and slander with their poisonous tongues: “The poison of vipers is on their lips.” So too James points out that the tongue is like a wild, poisonous animal that kills with its blows.

The Expositors Bible Commentary

Reading for Today:

Isaiah 25:1–26:21
Psalm 107:23-32
Proverbs 25:18-19
2 Corinthians 9:1-15
Notes:

Isaiah 25:8 swallow up death. God will swallow up death, which itself functions as a swallower of human beings (5:14; Prov. 1:12). Paul notes the fulfillment of this promise in the resurrection of believers (1 Cor. 15:54). wipe away tears. The Lord God will remove the sorrow associated with death (65:19).Revelation alludes to the tender action of this verse twice—once in 7:17 to describe the bliss of the redeemed in heaven, and once in 21:4 to describe ideal conditions in the New Jerusalem. rebuke…He will take away. Israel will be the head of the nations and no longer the tail (Deut. 28:13).

Isaiah 26:3 perfect peace,…trusts in You. A fixed disposition of trust in the Lord brings a peace that the wicked can never know (48:22; 57:21). Such reliance precludes double-mindedness (James 1:6–8) and serving two masters (Matt. 6:24).

Isaiah 26:15 have increased the nation. With prophetic certainty from the perspective of Israel’s future restoration, Isaiah saw the expansion of Israel’s borders as an accomplished fact.

2 Corinthians 9:12 administration of this service. “Administration,” which may also be translated “service,” is a priestly word from which we get “liturgy.” Paul viewed the entire collection project as a spiritual, worshipful enterprise that was primarily being offered to God to glorify Him. supplies the needs of the saints. The Greek word for “supplies” is a doubly intense term that could be rendered “really, fully supplying.” This indicates the Jerusalem church had an extremely great need. Many residents of Jerusalem had undoubtedly lost their jobs in the waves of persecution that came after the martyrdom of Stephen (Acts 8:1). However, the Corinthians were wealthy enough (they had not yet suffered persecution and deprivation like the Macedonians) to help meet the huge need with a generous monetary gift.

2 Corinthians 9:15 Paul summarized his discourse by comparing the believer’s act of giving with what God did in giving Jesus Christ (Rom. 8:32), “His indescribable gift.” God buried His Son and reaped a vast harvest of those who put their faith in the resurrected Christ (John 12:24). That makes it possible for believers to joyfully, sacrificially, and abundantly sow and reap. As they give in this manner, they show forth Christ’s likeness (John 12:25, 26; Eph. 5:1, 2).

DAY 17: What does God look for in our financial giving?

“He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully” (2 Cor. 9:6). The simple, self-evident agrarian principle—which Paul applied to Christian giving—that the harvest is directly proportionate to the amount of seed sown (Prov. 11:24, 25; 19:17; Luke 6:38; Gal. 6:7). When a generous believer gives by faith and trust in God, with a desire to produce the greatest possible blessing, that person will receive that kind of a harvest of blessing (Prov. 3:9, 10; 28:27; Mal. 3:10). God gives a return on the amount one invests with Him (Luke 6:38).

“So let each one give as he purposes in his heart” (v. 7). The term translated “purposes” indicates a premeditated, predetermined plan of action that is done from the heart voluntarily, but not impulsively. “Grudgingly.” Literally, “with grief,” “sorrow,” or “sadness,” which indicates an attitude of depression, regret, and reluctance that accompanies something done strictly out of a sense of duty and obligation, but not joy. “Of necessity” or “compulsion.” This refers to external pressure and coercion, quite possibly accompanied by legalism. Believers are not to give based on the demands of others or according to any arbitrary standards or set amounts. “God loves a cheerful giver.” God has a unique, special love for those who are happily committed to generous giving. The Greek word for “cheerful” is the word from which we get “hilarious,” which suggests that God loves a heart that is enthusiastically thrilled with the pleasure of giving.

God possesses an infinite amount of grace, and He gives it lavishly, without holding back (v. 9). Here “grace” does not refer to spiritual graces but to money and material needs. When the believer generously—and wisely—gives of his material resources, God graciously replenishes them so he always has plenty and will not be in need (2 Chr. 31:10). “Always having all sufficiency.” In secular Greek philosophy, this was the proud contentment of self-sufficiency that supposedly led to true happiness. Paul sanctifies the secular term and says that God, not man, will supply everything needed for real happiness and contentment (Phil. 4:19). “May have an abundance for every good work.” God gives back lavishly to generous, cheerful givers, not so they may satisfy selfish, nonessential desires, but so they may meet the variety of needs others have (Deut. 15:10, 11).

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.

“When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to Him, ‘They have no wine.’ And Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, what does that have to do with us? My hour has not yet come.’ His mother said to the servants, ‘Whatever He says to you, do it’” (John 2:3–5).

Returning to the wedding at Cana we come across a major crisis—the wine ran out because the supply was insufficient. This potential embarrassment for the couple and their families could have stigmatized them for the rest of their lives. Mary was apparently helping to oversee the catering of the celebration and became aware of this serious problem. She anxiously said to Jesus, “They have no wine.”

Jesus’ abrupt reply, “Woman, what does that have to do with us?” signaled a major change in their relationship. It was an idiomatic expression that asks rhetorically what the two parties in question have in common, and has the effect of distancing them. By calling Mary “Woman” (a polite, but not intimate, form of address) instead of “Mother,” Jesus politely but firmly informed her that their relationship was no longer to be what it had been while He was growing up. His public ministry had begun, and earthly relationships would not direct His actions. Mary was to relate to Him no longer as her son but as her Messiah, the Son of God, her Savior.

Undeterred by the mild rebuke, and aware that He was not saying no to the request, Mary said to the servants, “Whatever He says to you, do it.” Mary shows us how we should respond to the Lord.

Ask Yourself

Is your relationship with Jesus such that you can receive His rebuke without taking offense or crawling into a corner? Can you respond to His truth—even a hard truth—by adjusting your life to His right way of thinking and then continuing to serve Him as faithfully as before?

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.

 

Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.

Matthew 5:44–45

 

When I was a little boy, a friend and I once got into trouble when we were caught stealing some things from a store. The police took us to the city jail. At the time, my father was out playing golf with some deacons from our church. He was notified about what had happened and came to the jail thinking a mistake had been made. Then he had to explain to the deacons what his son was doing in jail.

When I got home, my mother was crying because she thought I would never do such a thing. Someone told me, “Johnny MacArthur, have you forgotten who your father is?” I never forgot that statement. I owed something to my father. He had given me my very life, and I was happy to be his son. I’m also glad to be my heavenly Father’s son, so it’s only right that I manifest something of His character.[1]

 

[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 282). Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman.

“Speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord.”

Ephesians 5:19

✧✧✧

If we are Spirit–filled, we will have songs of praise in our hearts and on our lips.

Once a Christian knows about being Spirit–filled and walking by the Spirit, it is still fair for him or her to ask, “But how can I know if the Holy Spirit is really at work in my life?” Ephesians 5:19 answers this question by declaring one of the unmistakable evidences of the Spirit’s full operation in our lives—we will have a song in our hearts.

The Bible does not give us much detail about the practical use of music and song, but there are enough references so that its significance to God and His people is clear. The Israelites praised God after He rescued them from the Egyptians (Ex. 15). The Psalms are filled with songs and praise, epitomized by the final verse, “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord!” (150:6).

In the New Testament, Jesus and the disciples closed the Last Supper by singing a hymn (Matt. 26:30). Paul and Silas sang while they were imprisoned at Philippi (Acts 16:25). During his vision in Revelation 5, the apostle John sees this: “When He [Christ, the Lamb] had taken the book, the four living creatures and the twenty–four elders fell down before the Lamb, having each one a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song” (vv. 8–9).

That “new song” John was about to hear sung before God’s throne was not just new chronologically—it was new qualitatively. Here as elsewhere in the New Testament, “new” is used in relation to God’s salvation, which means it makes perfect sense for us to sing a new song—one that is far better than the world’s songs—if we are saved and filled with the Holy Spirit. Words of genuine praise should well up in our hearts often and at the appropriate times break forth from our lips as we reflect the joy of the Spirit–filled life.

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer: Thank God specifically for some of your favorite hymns.

For Further Study: Read Revelation 5:1–14 for the complete context of John’s new song. What is the song’s theme? ✧ How many eventually join in the praises?[1]

 

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

“Stand firm … having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace” (Eph. 6:14–15).

✧✧✧

Standing firm while in the conflict requires the right kind of spiritual footwear.

I’ll never forget a game that took place at the Rose Bowl during my college football days. Being wintertime and late in the football season, the field was in bad shape from several days of rain and an entire season of wear and tear. However, the grounds crew painted the field green; so it looked much better than it actually was. I had two pairs of football shoes—one with long spikes for bad turf and one with short spikes for good turf. Thinking the field looked pretty good, I opted to wear the short spikes.

On the opening kickoff I caught the ball on the 4 yard line, took two steps, and immediately landed on my backside. That’s not unusual after a tackle, but in this case there wasn’t an opponent in sight! I had slipped in the mud; my shoes had betrayed me.

Proper shoes are important in athletics and are even more important when you’re fighting for your life. Roman soldiers took great care in selecting just the right shoe. Typically they wore a thick-soled semi-boot with straps securing it to the leg. On the bottom of the soles were hobnails that protruded like the cleats of a track or baseball shoe. The thick soles protected the feet from injury; the hobnails provided traction when maneuvering on the soil.

The Christian’s spiritual footwear is the “gospel of peace” (Eph. 6:15). Romans 5:1 says, “Having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” God has reconciled you to Himself through the death of His Son (v. 10). Once you were His enemy; now you are His child. Once He opposed you; now He is on your side.

No matter how difficult your circumstances may be or how many opponents come against you, realize that the invincible God of the universe is on your side. He makes war against His enemies (Rev. 2:16), and against Him no one can stand. So stand firm in that confidence. Focus on your Great Ally rather than on your feeble enemies.

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer: Thank God for His peace, presence, and protection in your life.

For Further Study: Read Judges 7. How did Gideon demonstrate his confidence that God was on his side?[1]

 

[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 273). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

scripture reading: Romans 12:1–2

key verse: Proverbs 23:7

For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.

Computers may appear much the same to the eye, but they function in thousands of different ways. The critical distinction is always in the software—the internal programming that performs multitudes of discriminating tasks.

Christians, persons who have received the Spirit of God at salvation, have entered God’s kingdom. They are new spiritual creatures (2 Cor. 5:17), but they retain the memory banks of previous years. Habits, thoughts, inclinations, and affections can still influence behavior as before.

That is exactly why too many Christians live in such a miserable state. They do not want to return to their former state, but on the other hand, they cannot enjoy their new standing as children of God.

Yet there is hope. Your internal being—mind, emotions, will—can come under the influence of the Holy Spirit who now indwells you. Your old mental grid system can be replaced by an entirely new set of thoughts and behavior through the power of God’s truth.

A new way of living is possible when you view life from God’s perspective and His truth takes up residence in your inner being. Real victory and genuine godliness take root and bear the unmistakable fruit of a Christ–filled life.

Heavenly Father, please reprogram my internal computer. Replace all the old thoughts and behavior patterns with the fruit of a Spirit–filled life.[1]

 

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

 

The young lions lack and suffer hunger; but those who seek the Lord shall not lack any good thing.

Psalm 34:10

god sees your whole life, and He views your life as a whole. You cannot divide your life into compartments and say, “This is my spiritual life and this is my material life and this is my home life and this is my financial life.” Your life functions as a whole. And the whole of you is in Christ when you become a Christian. Christ is involved in every area of your life. He makes you whole; He does not divide you or separate the areas of your life one from another. This means, of course, that Christ Jesus is involved in every aspect of your neediness. He is concerned not only with your spiritual neediness, but also with your financial, material, physical, relational, and emotional needs.[1]

 

[1] Stanley, C. F. (2004). God’s way day by day (p. 278). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

 

Scripture reading: 2 Corinthians 1:1–5

Key verse: 2 Corinthians 1:5

As the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ.

When you see someone struggling with large packages, what is your first thought? Of course, you have the natural urge to give him a hand. You wouldn’t just stand there empty-handed and watch him flounder around and drop things.

What happens, though, when you know someone who is hurting emotionally or struggling under a burden that isn’t tangible? That’s much more difficult to assess. You wonder whether the person even wants your help or whether it would be right for you to get involved.

The essence of burden bearing is not problem solving. You don’t have to fix things for the other person; you simply need to come alongside him and show you care. That’s true encouragement. In fact, the person may be more open to your words if he knows you are approaching him in love instead of correction.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God” (2 Cor. 1:3–4).

When you see someone hurting, don’t be afraid to offer comfort and compassion. The Lord will show you what to do from there.

Lord, help me reach out to others today to demonstrate comfort and compassion. Make me Your hands extended to a lost and hurting world.[1]

 

[1] Stanley, C. F. (2000). Into His presence (p. 272). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

 

Scripture Reading: Ephesians 5:15–17

Key Verse: Psalm 90:12

Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.

Time is life and how you spend it. It is the sum of your accomplishments and memories. Are you satisfied with your time management, or do you feel as if your schedule for the day, the week, the month is already filled with obligations of a career or commitments to others?

You can change. You can manage time without its managing you. Like Moses, you can ask God to teach you to number your days, that you may present to Him a heart of wisdom (Ps. 90:12).

Begin with setting goals and priorities. What are your gifts and talents? What has God called you to do with them? How can you take small steps to reach them? This winnows out the insignificant and forms a mental picture of the essentials.

If necessary, find a space of a day or so to think soberly about where you have been and where you want to go. Pray, read, ponder, and write down what God impresses on your heart. Commit yourself to spend time daily with God. Doing that in itself may seem burdensome at first if your schedule is harried. However, you will find the time as God grants insight and prudence for your varied agenda.

Getting the big picture helps connect the daily dots of appointments, meetings, interruptions, and assorted duties. Time will become your ally, not your enemy.

O God, teach me to number my days. Help me manage time wisely. Let it become my ally instead of my enemy.[1]

 

[1] Stanley, C. F. (1999). On holy ground (p. 272). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

 

Scripture Reading: Hebrews 12:5–11

Key Verse: Hebrews 12:5

And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: “My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him.”

Have you ever doubted God’s love for you? In times of crisis, we are often tempted to blame God, or to accuse Him of instigating our pain.

Oftentimes, believers feel that God is punishing them for a sin they may have committed. It is important to understand the difference between punishment and discipline. Punishment is God executing His judgment upon the wicked. Discipline is God’s correction of His children in order to protect them from further disobedience and harmful consequences.

You may wonder how God can discipline us and love us at the same time. The answer lies in Hebrews 12:5–6. Because God loves you, He wants to bless you with opportunities to grow in faith. As your faith increases, your trust in Him will increase, and your life will show the evidence of maturity.

If you feel that you are experiencing a period of discipline from God, do not resist it. God wants to use you in a mighty way. First, He must file away the rough spots in your life. Trust Him and be assured of His undying love as He shapes you into a beautiful vessel that He can use.

Father, I fear discipline, yet I know I cannot become who You want me to be without it. I give You my heart. I trust You to govern it as only a loving parent would.[1]

 

[1] Stanley, C. F. (2006). Pathways to his presence (p. 272). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

 

Scripture reading: Exodus 2:11–16; 3:1–4

Key verse: Psalm 139:17

How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God!

How great is the sum of them!

Moses was not fit for service in God’s kingdom the instant he became aware of his heritage. He knew the suffering of God’s people, but he was not ready to identify with them by becoming their leader. The story in Exodus 2 tells that when he was a baby, his mother set him adrift in a basket made of pitch and tar. Pharaoh’s daughter pulled him from the water and raised him in royalty. Later, as a young man, he was forced to confront his destiny.

It was a tremendous trial having all the pleasures of palace life eliminated, but Moses discovered something worth much more than earthly treasure. After years of living as an outcast, he was given an opportunity to step into the presence of the living God.

The Bible tells us: “The angel of the Lord appeared to him in a blazing fire from the midst of a bush … yet the bush was not consumed. So Moses said, ‘I must turn aside now and see this marvelous sight’ ” (Ex. 3:2–3 nasb).

Brokenness is a process, and Moses was on a divine course. The moment he turned aside to “see” the burning bush was the very moment the Lord called out to him. Moses would not have noticed any call before that one.

God knows when you have been broken in such a way that you are willing to respond to Him. Are you broken and weary? Lift up your eyes and behold the marvelous sight of God’s burning love for you.

Lord, help me to recognize that the process of brokenness is at work in the circumstances of my life. Help me to recognize Your love and concern for me in every situation and to respond in a positive way.[1]

 

[1] Stanley, C. F. (2002). Seeking His face (p. 272). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

 

Micah 7:1–20; Acts 15:22–16:5; Job 24:1–11

How should we respond when those around us seem to be not only falling short of the glory of God, but actually abandoning God’s work? What should we do when we witness neighbors or friends tolerating or even justifying acts of injustice, oppression, greed, or idolatry? We live in such a time. So did the prophet Micah:

“Woe is me! For I have become like the gatherings of summer, like the gleanings of the grape harvest, when there is no cluster of grapes to eat or early ripened fruit that my soul desires. The faithful person has perished from the land, and there is none who is upright among humankind. All of them lie in wait; each hunts his brother with a net. Their hands are upon evil, to do it well; the official and the judge ask for the bribe, and the great man utters the evil desire of his soul; and they weave it together” (Mic 7:1–3).

Micah did what should be done—he spoke up; he told the truth. When we find ourselves in evil times among evil people, we must do the same. God may be calling us to be a voice crying in the wilderness (John 1:19–25; compare Isa 40:3). By boldly proclaiming the truth, we may make a way for others to come back to God.

Much of the world is corrupt, and it is our job as Christians to fight such corruption, to stand above it, and to help others find the better way—God’s way. The brokenness of our world is not simple. How many people are led astray unconsciously? How often does money or power trump the rights of the vulnerable? Do we recognize injustice when we see it? Do we have the courage to speak up, even when it hurts?

Micah provides an example here, too. Although he spoke vividly about God’s coming judgment on Samaria, he also told us where we would find the Savior who would heal our brokenness once and for all—in Bethlehem.

How are you standing against the evils of our age?

John D. Barry[1]

 

[1] Barry, J. D., & Kruyswijk, R. (2012). Connect the Testaments: A Daily Devotional. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

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