Scripture: “Be thankful in all circumstances for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus” 1 Thessalonians 5:18

The Bible encourages us to be thankful at all times. But how do you thank God when you feel like nothing but bad things are happening in your life?

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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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November 23: The Games We Play

2 Kings 11:1–12:21; Galatians 3:1–29; Proverbs 7:10–20

We live in the age of online résumés, with pages dedicated to us and our faces. We can broadcast our thoughts in seconds and republish ideas that make us look smart by association. And we do it all in an effort to earn recognition or acceptance. We want to be heard in the midst of the noise—to earn a spot in the spotlight. The works of the law that drove Judaism in the first century ad weren’t much different; they were pitched as a way to obtain God’s favor as well as the favor of others.

Paul responds to the ideals of his age: “Who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as having been crucified? I want only to learn this from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?” (Gal 3:1–2). Paul’s questions are rhetorical. We’re not saved by works, but by the graciousness of God. It is not through works that the Spirit dwells among us, but through God’s goodness shown in sending His Son to earth to die for humanity and then rise again.

We struggle to admit that we’re looking for recognition—both from God and others. We know we can’t earn our way into heaven, but that doesn’t stop us from trying. We still think that if we can be good enough, smart enough, or successful enough, God and others will accept us. It’s a game we play that is for naught—we cannot earn what God offers.

What are you fooling yourself into thinking is important?

John D. Barry[1]


November 23

COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS

Johnson Oatman, Jr., 1856–1922

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. (Ephesians 1:3)

For the Christian, gratitude should be a life attitude.

“Count Your Blessings” was written by one of the prolific gospel song writers of the past century, a Methodist lay preacher named Johnson Oatman. In addition to his preaching and the writing of more than 5,000 hymn texts, Oatman was also a successful business man, engaged in a shipping business and in his later years as an administrator for a large insurance company in New Jersey.

It is good for each of us periodically to take time to rediscover the simple but profound truths expressed by Mr. Oatman in the four stanzas of this hymn. In the first two verses he develops the thought that counting our blessings serves as an antidote for life’s discouragements and in turn makes for victorious Christian living. The third stanza of this hymn teaches us that counting our blessings can be a means of placing material possessions in proper perspective when compared to the eternal inheritance awaiting believers. Then as we review our individual blessings, we certainly would have to agree with Mr. Oatman’s fourth verse: The provision of God’s help and comfort to the end of our earthly pilgrimage is one of our choicest blessings.

Each of us could spare ourselves much despair and inner tension if we would only learn to apply the practical teaching of this hymn to our daily living.

When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed, when you are discouraged, thinking all is lost, count your many blessings—name them one by one, and it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

Are you ever burdened with a load of care? Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear? Count your many blessings—ev’ry doubt will fly, and you will be singing as the days go by.

When you look at others with their lands and gold, think that Christ has promised you His wealth untold; count your many blessings—money cannot buy your reward in heaven nor your home on high.

So amid the conflict, whether great or small, do not be discouraged. God is over all; count your many blessings—angels will attend, help and comfort give you to your journey’s end.

Chorus: Count your blessings—name them one by one; count your blessings—see what God hath done.

For Today: Psalm 28:7; 68:19; 69:30, 31; James 1:17

Make a list of God’s blessings. Share this list with your friends and family.[2]


November 23

Intro

Welcome to Daily Treasures from the Word of God. Today’s reading is Hosea 10 through 14. Our lesson is from Hosea 12:6, “Therefore, return to your God, Observe kindness and justice, And wait for your God continually.” (NASU)

Lesson

The Lord’s faithfulness, kindness and mercy are inspiring. Let’s analyze four factors from our text.

First, the people of God are to return to the Lord. This is a constant theme spoken by the prophet to Israel. The prophet is a messenger from God. He/she speaks on behalf of the Lord. The message varies according to the prophet. Some prophetic utterances have to do with future events and others regarding the need for holiness and repentance. Hosea looks to convince the people to change their ways and return to the fold of the Lord.

Next, the people of God are to observe kindness. Repentance does not come alone. It needs to be accompanied with actions. Our text recommends kindness be one of the manifestations of repentance. Kindness is not used in the sense of being courteous. Other translations use love or mercy. The idea is for the people of God as a whole to show love and its different aspects to one another.

Third, the people of God are to observe justice. Justice in biblical terms is different from human standards. The measuring stick is God and His word. It has to do with relationship.

God is the only perfect judge. He cannot be bribed and sees the totality of the person or nation. He also sees beyond the natural to the intentions of the human heart. This is why only Jesus the sinless one could accomplish true justice because He bridged the gap between humanity and the Divine. Justice is right relationship with God and one another.

Last, the people of God are to wait on the Lord. This is probably one of the more difficult things to do. As human beings we are generally prone to want to do things in our manner. Waiting on the Lord requires a negation of one’s plan and a trust in knowing that God’s way is better. We may know this in our head but the practice of this is the challenge.

A biblical example is the prophet Jonah. The Lord had given him a specific mission. The task was to go to Nineveh to preach repentance. He tried his own plan first and failed. Finally through a God-appointed circumstance, he went to Nineveh and everyone repented. Oh how similar we are to the prophet.

In conclusion, the people of God are to return to the Lord. The people of God are to observe kindness. The people of God are to observe justice. And the people of God are to wait on the Lord.

Let’s learn and benefit from Scripture. May we apply it daily to our own particular context.

End

It has been a pleasure to share with you Daily Treasures from the Word of God. Tomorrow’s Bible reading is Joel. 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]


 

November 23

 

From Jacob to Israel

 

“By faith Jacob, as he was dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, and worshiped” (Heb. 11:21).

✧✧✧

Jacob’s life typifies the spiritual pilgrimage from selfishness to submission.

Jacob’s life can be outlined in three phases: a stolen blessing, a conditional commitment, and a sincere supplication.

From the very beginning it was God’s intention to bless Jacob in a special way. But Jacob, whose name means “trickster,” “supplanter,” or “usurper,” tricked his father into blessing him instead of his older brother, Esau (Gen. 27:1–29). As a result, Jacob had to flee from Esau and spend fourteen years herding flocks for his Uncle Laban.

As Jacob traveled toward Laban’s house, God appeared to him in a dream (Gen. 28:10–22) and made him the recipient of the covenant promises first made to his grandfather, Abraham, and then to his father, Isaac.

Jacob’s response is revealing, for he “made a vow, saying, ‘If God will be with me and will keep me on this journey that I take, and will give me food to eat and garments to wear, and I return to my father’s house in safety, then the Lord will be my God’” (vv. 20–21, emphasis added). Jacob’s conditional vow said in effect, “God, if You’ll give me what I want, I’ll be Your man.”

Despite Jacob’s selfish motives, God did bless him, but He humbled him too. By the time he left Laban’s house, Jacob was ready to yield to God’s will unreservedly. Note his change of heart in Genesis 32:10: “I am unworthy of all the lovingkindness and of all the faithfulness which Thou hast shown to [me].”

Then the Lord appeared in the form of a man and wrestled with Jacob all night (v. 24). Jacob refused to let Him go until he received a blessing. That wasn’t a selfish request, but one that came from a heart devoted to being all God wanted him to be. That’s when the Lord changed Jacob’s name to “Israel,” which means “he fights or persists with God.”

Like Abraham and Isaac before him, Jacob never saw the fulfillment of God’s covenant promises. Yet on his spiritual journey from Jacob to Israel, from selfishness to submission, he learned to trust God and to await His perfect timing.

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer: Pray for grace to consistently pursue God’s will and for patience to wait on His timing.

For Further Study: Read Jacob’s story in Genesis 27–35.[4]


November 23

Abundant Blessings

To Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think … be glory.

Ephesians 3:20–21

paul wrote to the Ephesians, God “is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think.” In other words, you can’t begin to ask God for all that He desires to give you. You can’t imagine all that He has for you. I have a pretty good imagination and a pretty good boldness in asking things of God. What an awesome statement about God’s supply house to think that we can’t even imagine all that is contained in God’s riches and that we don’t have enough time on this earth to tap into all that God has made available to us![5]


November 23

Strength That Is Strong

Scripture reading: 2 Corinthians 12:7–10

Key verse: 2 Corinthians 12:9

He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

Often when we face something much greater than our capability to understand or deal with, we become anxious as we wonder how God will intervene. In such a time the apostle Paul discovered a wonderful sense of security in trusting God. Paul prayed three times for the Lord to remove what he called a “thorn in the flesh.”

Paul then wrote, “Concerning this I entreated the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He has said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.’ Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Cor. 12:8–10 nasb).

Our human nature cries out in begging sobs for God to remove the suffering. Yet it is in times of trial that God endears Himself to us in ways that we would not typically experience. Pain, once it is brought into the throne room of God, commands His personal attention.

Paul’s unwavering faith brought a new sense of strength to his life, one that he had never experienced before that moment. Strength that knows it is strong is really weakness. But weakness that cries out to God for help is strength far beyond human understanding.

Lord, give me strength that is strong in You, unwavering faith that surpasses human understanding.[6]


November 23

A Renewed Knowledge

Put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him.

Colossians 3:10

We live in a fallen world, and as a result, our renewed minds need ongoing cleansing and refreshment. God’s chief agent of purifying our thinking is His Word (John 15:3; Eph. 5:26).

The New Testament calls us to the mental discipline of right thinking. Colossians 3:2 says, “Set your mind on things above, not on things on earth.” First Peter 1:13 says, “Gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon… the revelation of Jesus Christ.” And Paul often instructed his listeners to think right and not be ignorant.

The Old Testament also calls us to right thinking. King Solomon said, “Incline your ear to wisdom, and apply your heart to understanding; yes, if you cry for discernment, and lift up your voice for under–standing,… then you will understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God” (Prov. 2:2–5).

Dwelling on the right things takes initiative and effort. But if you are faithful to make the maximum effort, God will give you understanding (cf. Ps. 119:34).[7]


November 23          The Praise of His Glory

scripture reading:

 

Psalm 19

 

key verse:

 

Psalm 8:1

 

O Lord, our Lord, How excellent is Your name in all the earth, Who have set Your glory above the heavens!

Psalm 19:1–4 painted this picture:

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.

Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge.

There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard.

Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. (niv)

Our Maker designed all creation to be to the praise of His glory. The tiniest pebble and the tallest mountain bear testimony to God’s power and love. Warbling birds, chirping crickets, and croaking frogs lend their special voices to the chorus.

Have you ever been outdoors on a clear night in an open space, where there are no artificial lights to get in the way? You cannot count the thousands of stars in the sky. In that moment outside, your feelings of awe may well up so strongly inside that you are unable to speak.

Psalm 8:1 is a wonderful prayer: “O Lord, our Lord, / How majestic is Thy name in all the earth, / Who hast displayed Thy splendor above the heavens!” (nasb).

O Lord, my Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth. You have displayed Your splendor above the heavens.[8]


November 23

Working Together for Good

Scripture reading: Hebrews 11:23–29

Key verse: Hebrews 6:19

This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil.

Oswald Chambers wrote, “Suffering either makes fiends of us or it makes saints of us; it depends entirely on our relationship towards God.”

Most Christians deny having anger toward God when trouble comes. But their irritation shows when they are quick to recall how He is in control of all things. A mere nod from Him is enough to stop any form of trial or persecution.

When heartache or disappointment comes, try dropping to your knees in humble prayer. Searching for a way out only magnifies the problem. God is your heavenly Counselor. You can go to Him anytime, and He will give you strength and a new perspective. You also can ask Him to show you why He allowed the hurt to touch your life. He had rather you come to Him than run from Him, as Adam did in the Garden of Eden.

In some cases it is wise to talk your feelings out with someone who understands what you are experiencing. In most cases this is healthy. However, make sure the person you talk with is someone who loves the Lord and wants His best for your life. Confidentiality is a sign of true trust. End your conversation in prayer, asking God to take your hurt and frustration and bring something good out of them.

Romans 8:28 is much more than a time-worn cliché. If we allow Him the opportunity, God will work everything together for our good and His glory.

Dear Lord, please take my hurt and frustration and bring something good out of them. Give me a new perspective on my circumstances and renewed strength to face the challenges ahead.[9]


November 23

Whoever listens to me will dwell safely, and will be secure, without fear of evil.

Lord, You have been our dwelling place in all generations. I dwell in the secret place of the Most High and shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. Your truth shall be my shield and buckler.

My life is hidden with Christ in You, Lord God. He who touches me touches the apple of Your eye. I stand still, and see Your salvation. You, Lord, will fight for me, and I shall hold my peace. You, God, are my refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore I will not fear.

Jesus comforted His disciples, “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.” The resurrected Jesus asked, “Why are you troubled? And why do doubts arise in your hearts? Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have.” I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that You are able to keep what I have committed to You.

Thank You for the safety and security You provide, Lord God.

Proverbs 1:33; Psalm 90:1; Psalm 91:1; Psalm 91:4; Colossians 3:3; Zechariah 2:8; Exodus 14:13–14; Psalm 46:1–2; Matthew 14:27; Luke 24:38–39; 2 Timothy 1:12[10]


November 23

MOST of us know what it is to be overwhelmed in heart. Disappointments and heart-breaks will do this when billow after billow rolls over us, and we are like a broken shell hurled to and fro by the surf. Blessed be God, at such seasons we are not without an all-sufficient solace; our God is the harbor of weather-beaten sails, the hospice of forlorn pilgrims. Higher than we are is he, his mercy higher than our sins, his love higher than our thoughts. A rock he is since he changes not, and a high rock, because the tempests which overwhelm us roll far beneath at his feet. O Lord, our God, by thy Holy Spirit, teach us the way of faith, lead us into thy rest.[11]


Day 23

Adoration

Rejoice in the Lord, O you righteous;

Praise is becoming to the upright. (Psalm 33:1)

Walking in the way of Your laws,

O Lord, I wait for You;

Your name and Your memory are the desire of my soul. (Isaiah 26:8)

Pause to express your thoughts of praise and worship.

Confession

Woe to me, for I am undone!

Because I am a man of unclean lips,

And I live among a people of unclean lips;

For my eyes have seen the King,

The Lord of hosts. (Isaiah 6:5)

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 have found grace in Your sight, teach me Your ways, so I may know You and continue to find favor with You. (Exodus 33:13)

May I consecrate myself and be holy, because You are the Lord my God. May I keep Your statutes and practice them, for You are the Lord who sanctifies me. (Leviticus 20:7–8)

Pause to add your own prayers for personal renewal.

Petition

May I examine all things, hold fast to the good, and abstain from every form of evil. (1 Thessalonians 5:21–22)

Faithfulness as a Steward

Of time

Of talents

Of treasure

Of truth

Of relationships

My activities for this day

Special concerns

Intercession

O Lord, God of our fathers Abraham, Isaac and Israel, keep this desire in the hearts of Your people forever, and keep their hearts loyal to You. (1 Chronicles 29:18)

Government

Spiritual revival

Local government

State government

National government

Current events and concerns

Affirmation

Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? But to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God. (1 Corinthians 1:20, 24)

If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. (Galatians 6:3)

Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord. (1 Corinthians 1:31)

Pause to reflect upon these biblical affirmations.

Thanksgiving

Concerning the lost, Jesus said, “What man among you, if he has a hundred sheep and loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the one that is lost until he finds it? And when he finds it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes into his house, he calls his friends and neighbors together and says to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance. There is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” (Luke 15:4–7, 10)

Pause to offer your own expressions of thanksgiving.

Closing Prayer

Now I know that the Lord saves His anointed;

He answers him from His holy heaven

With the saving strength of His right hand.

Some trust in chariots and some in horses,

But I will remember the name of the Lord my God. (Psalm 20:6–7)

Love the Lord, all you His saints!

The Lord preserves the faithful,

And fully repays the proud doer.

Be of good courage and He will strengthen your heart,

All you who hope in the Lord. (Psalm 31:23–24)[12]


Morning, November 23

 

“Fellowship with him.”

— 1 John 1:6

 

When we were united by faith to Christ, we were brought into such complete fellowship with him, that we were made one with him, and his interests and ours became mutual and identical. We have fellowship with Christ in his love. What he loves we love. He loves the saints—so do we. He loves sinners—so do we. He loves the poor perishing race of man, and pants to see earth’s deserts transformed into the garden of the Lord—so do we. We have fellowship with him in his desires. He desires the glory of God—we also labour for the same. He desires that the saints may be with him where he is—we desire to be with him there too. He desires to drive out sin—behold we fight under his banner. He desires that his Father’s name may be loved and adored by all his creatures—we pray daily, “Let thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth, even as it is in heaven.” We have fellowship with Christ in his sufferings. We are not nailed to the cross, nor do we die a cruel death, but when he is reproached, we are reproached; and a very sweet thing it is to be blamed for his sake, to be despised for following the Master, to have the world against us. The disciple should not be above his Lord. In our measure we commune with him in his labours, ministering to men by the word of truth and by deeds of love. Our meat and our drink, like his, is to do the will of him who hath sent us and to finish his work. We have also fellowship with Christ in his joys. We are happy in his happiness, we rejoice in his exaltation. Have you ever tasted that joy, believer? There is no purer or more thrilling delight to be known this side heaven than that of having Christ’s joy fulfilled in us, that our joy may be full. His glory awaits us to complete our fellowship, for his Church shall sit with him upon his throne, as his well-beloved bride and queen.

 

Evening, November 23

 

“Get thee up into the high mountain.”

— Isaiah 40:9

 

Each believer should be thirsting for God, for the living God, and longing to climb the hill of the Lord, and see him face to face. We ought not to rest content in the mists of the valley when the summit of Tabor awaits us. My soul thirsteth to drink deep of the cup which is reserved for those who reach the mountain’s brow, and bathe their brows in heaven. How pure are the dews of the hills, how fresh is the mountain air, how rich the fare of the dwellers aloft, whose windows look into the New Jerusalem! Many saints are content to live like men in coal mines, who see not the sun; they eat dust like the serpent when they might taste the ambrosial meat of angels; they are content to wear the miner’s garb when they might put on king’s robes; tears mar their faces when they might anoint them with celestial oil. Satisfied I am that many a believer pines in a dungeon when he might walk on the palace roof, and view the goodly land and Lebanon. Rouse thee, O believer, from thy low condition! Cast away thy sloth, thy lethargy, thy coldness, or whatever interferes with thy chaste and pure love to Christ, thy soul’s Husband. Make him the source, the centre, and the circumference of all thy soul’s range of delight. What enchants thee into such folly as to remain in a pit when thou mayst sit on a throne? Live not in the lowlands of bondage now that mountain liberty is conferred upon thee. Rest no longer satisfied with thy dwarfish attainments, but press forward to things more sublime and heavenly. Aspire to a higher, a nobler, a fuller life. Upward to heaven! Nearer to God!

 

“When wilt thou come unto me, Lord?

Oh come, my Lord most dear!

Come near, come nearer, nearer still,

I’m blest when thou art near.”[13]


November 23

The Spirit of Truth

Scripture Reading: John 16:7–15

Key Verse: John 14:26

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 things that I said to you.

The disciples were worried. Jesus was talking more and more about the time when He would leave them. Who would tell them what to do and how to act? Who would answer the tough questions?

Jesus put their fears to rest: “I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper shall not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you … But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come” (John 16:7, 13 nasb).

Jesus was not leaving them to muddle about in confusion and uncertainty; on the contrary, He promised them revelation and understanding of His truth beyond their current experience.

The Holy Spirit is actually the One who takes the words of the printed page of God’s Word and reveals the meaning to your heart and mind. He uses many human “tools” as aids in the process, including pastors, teachers, and your personal traits. But without the Spirit, the words would remain just that—words.

If you’ve ever avoided a difficult passage because you feel you won’t understand it, don’t turn away. God promises to enlighten your heart (1 Cor. 2:14). You are the intended recipient of every meaningful word.

O Lord, how I thank You that You did not leave me to muddle about in confusion and uncertainty. You promised revelation and understanding beyond my abilities. I receive it![14]


November 23

Blind Spots

Scripture Reading: 1 John 2:7–11

Key Verse: 1 John 2:9

He who says he is in the light, and hates his brother, is in darkness until now.

Of the five senses, sight may be the most appreciated. Our eyes enable us to see the beauty of God’s creation and allow us to navigate through it. Imagine for a moment that your sight is suddenly limited. As disturbing as physical blindness would be, the Bible warns us of a more formidable disease called spiritual blindness—an ailment that limits our ability to distinguish dark (evil) from light (that which is of God).

Even those of us who have a personal relationship with Christ are not immune to this condition. If we are not living each day with Christ as the central focus of our lives, we can become desensitized to the lures of the world. Satan enjoys nothing more than to distract a believer away from the truth.

In the second chapter of 1 John, we are provided with an example of how we could unknowingly experience spiritual blindness—hating our brother even though we claim to be in the light (verse 9). Essentially, if we call ourselves Christians and then treat others badly, speak out in anger, or harbor resentment toward others, we are actually living in darkness. Our actions are not only displeasing to God, they are damaging to those around us.

D. L. Moody once said, “Where one man reads the Bible, a hundred read you and me.” Pray today that God will show you any “blind spots” in your walk.

Heavenly Father, show me any blind spots in my relationship with You. Don’t let me be distracted from the truth of Your Word.[15]


November 23

Train Up a Child

Proverbs 22:6

Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.

Each child needs to know that he is unique and not like any other child God ever created. The Hebrew phrase “in the way” describes the habit or character of an individual at his own age level. The emphasis is on the importance of adjusting our training according to the ability of the child at each stage of his development. Each child has his own way, and by paying attention, we can determine what that way is.

The root meaning for the term “train up” is “palate or roof of the mouth.” The Arab midwife would take olive oil or crushed dates on her finger and rub the palate of a newborn baby to create in the infant a desire to suck. A real meaning of “training” is to create a taste or desire. Our task is to develop in our children a hunger or desire for spiritual things, to cultivate an urge to follow God.[16]


 

With All Your Heart

 

November 23

 

I had quite an “opening” this morning in meeting on the text “The Lord taketh pleasure in His people.” I was thinking of you and of Logan and Alys, and of the intense pleasure I take in you when you are happy and good. I thought of how I enjoy your letters where you tell of your happiness, and of how sometimes the tears of joy fairly will come when some point or proof of your goodness comes to my attention.

And I seemed to have an insight into the heart of God towards us, and of the pleasure He takes in us when we are happy and good. If you did not tell us of your happiness we could not take half as much pleasure in it, and the God, in whose image we are made must like also to have us tell Him how happy we are. Of course He knows it, but He likes to hear it, just as we like to hear our loved ones say the things which we already know are in their hearts. Then I went on with the verse “He will beautify the meek with Salvation,” and I thought of how I love to see you look nice and to dress you beautifully, and then realized how God was just the same towards us and enjoys making us beautiful with spiritual graces.

Keep claiming your promise whenever it comes into your mind, and soon, darling, all other love will fade into insignificance compared to the depth and reality of thy love for God. It has with me. No one is of any account beside Him! But perhaps it is the disappointments of life that have helped to bring me here; and you will need to know more of these. And yet he is able to make all grace, and consequently this grace, abound towards you, even without any disappointments. At any rate your position in regard to it is right, to trust Him to enable you to obey His command “thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart.” It will come somehow I am sure.

—To Daughter Mary, September 24, 1882[17]


November 23rd

Distraction of antipathy

Have mercy upon us, O Lord, have mercy upon us: for we are exceedingly filled with contempt. Psalm 123:3.

The thing of which we have to beware is not so much damage to our belief in God as damage to our Christian temper. “Therefore take heed to thy spirit, that ye deal not treacherously.” The temper of mind is tremendous in its effects, it is the enemy that penetrates right into the soul and distracts the mind from God. There are certain tempers of mind in which we never dare indulge; if we do, we find they have distracted us from faith in God, and until we get back to the quiet mood before God, our faith in Him is nil, and our confidence in the flesh and in human ingenuity is the thing that rules.

Beware of “the cares of this world,” because they are the things that produce a wrong temper of soul. It is extraordinary what an enormous power there is in simple things to distract our attention from God. Refuse to be swamped with the cares of this life.

Another thing that distracts us is the lust of vindication. St. Augustine prayed—‘O Lord, deliver me from this lust of always vindicating myself.’ That temper of mind destroys the soul’s faith in God. ‘I must explain myself; I must get people to understand.’ Our Lord never explained anything; He left mistakes to correct themselves.

When we discern that people are not going on spiritually and allow the discernment to turn to criticism, we block our way to God. God never gives us discernment in order that we may criticize, but that we may intercede.[18]


November 23

Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it

1 Thess. 5:24

Earthly faithfulness is possible only by the reception of heavenly gifts. As surely as every leaf that grows is mainly water that the plant has got from the clouds, and carbon that it has got out of the atmosphere, so surely will all our good be mainly drawn from Heaven and Heaven’s gifts. As certainly as every lump of coal that you put upon your fire contains in itself sunbeams that have been locked up for all these millenniums that have passed since it waved green in the forest, so certainly does every good deed embody in itself gifts from above. And no man is pure except by impartation; and every good thing and every perfect thing cometh from the Father of lights.

Alexander Maclaren[19]


 

November 23

 

Playing the Fool

 

“Behold, I have played the fool.”

1 Samuel 26:21

✧✧✧

A Christian should not act like a fool.

In Deuteronomy 32:6 Moses looked out at the belligerent children of Israel who had failed God so many times and said, “Do you thus repay the Lord, O foolish and unwise people?” The children of Israel were playing the fool. Sadly, God’s people today continue to play the fool.

One way they do so is through disbelief. On the road to Emmaus, Jesus appeared to two disciples who didn’t believe that He had risen from the dead. Jesus said to them, “O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken!” (Luke 24:25). To disbelieve God and His Word is to play the fool.

Another way believers play the fool is through disobedience. In Galatians 3:1 the apostle Paul says, “You foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified?” And in verse 3 he says, “Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?” They started out well but were disobedient and got caught up in the works of the law.

Still another way Christians play the fool is through desire for the wrong things. First Timothy 6:9 says, “Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires.” If you desire the wrong things, you play the fool.

Finally, you can play the fool through doing the wrong things. James 3:13–17 says that there are two kinds of wisdom. Godly wisdom produces “good behavior” (v. 13), but foolish wisdom produces “jealousy and selfish ambition” (v. 16). A self–centered person plays the fool.

It’s sad to see so many Christians playing the fool. It doesn’t make any sense. Why should Christians live as blind, ignorant, foolish people when they have the wisdom of God?

Paul says at the end of Romans, “I want you to be wise in what is good, and innocent in what is evil” (16:19). If you have to be a fool at all, be a fool (unknowing, unacquainted) about evil.

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer: Make Paul’s exhortation in Romans 16:19 your prayer.

For Further Study: Read Proverbs 2:1–22 as a reminder of what benefits you’ll receive from following true wisdom instead of playing the fool.[20]

 


Reading for Today:

Ezekiel 37:1–38:23
Psalm 132:1-9
Proverbs 29:4
James 4:1-17
Notes:

Ezekiel 37:3 can these bones live? The many dry bones (v. 2) picture the nation Israel (v. 11) as apparently dead in their dispersion and waiting for national resurrection. The people knew about the doctrine of individual resurrection; otherwise, this prophecy would have had no meaning (1 Kin. 17; 2 Kin. 4; 13:21; Is. 25:8; 26:19; Dan. 12:2; Hos. 13:14).

Ezekiel 37:4–6 Prophesy to these bones. Ezekiel is to proclaim God’s pledge to reassemble Israelites from the world and restore the nation of Israel to life (v. 5) and give them His Spirit (v. 14) in true salvation and spiritual life. Clearly, God is promising the resurrection of the nation of Israel and its spiritual regeneration (36:25–27).

James 4:4 friendship. Appearing only here in the New Testament, the Greek word describes love in the sense of a strong emotional attachment. Those with a deep and intimate longing for the things of the world give evidence that they are not redeemed (1 John 2:15–17). enmity with God. The necessary corollary to friendship with the world. The sobering truth that unbelievers are God’s enemies is taught throughout Scripture (Deut. 32:41–43; Pss. 21:8; 68:21; 72:9; 110:1, 2; Is. 42:13; Nah. 1:2, 8; Luke 19:27; Rom. 5:10; 8:5–7; 1 Cor. 15:25).

James 4:6 more grace. The only ray of hope in man’s spiritual darkness is the sovereign grace of God, which alone can rescue man from his propensity to lust for evil things. That God gives “more grace” shows that His grace is greater than the power of sin, the flesh, the world, and Satan (Rom. 5:20). The Old Testament quote (from Prov. 3:34; 1 Pet. 5:5) reveals who obtains God’s grace—the humble, not the proud enemies of God. The word “humble” does not define a special class of Christians, but encompasses all believers (Is. 57:15; 66:2; Matt. 18:3, 4).

DAY 23: What do the 10 commands that fill James 4:7–10 have to do with grace?
These verses contain a series of 10 commands that prepare a person to receive saving grace. These commands delineate a person’s response to God’s gracious offer of salvation and reveal what it means to be humble. Each command uses a Greek imperative to define the expected action:

1. Submit to God (v. 7)—James used the word to describe a willing, conscious submission to God’s authority as sovereign ruler of the universe.

2. Resist the devil (v. 7)—those who consciously “take [their] stand against” Satan and transfer their allegiance to God will find that Satan “will flee from” them; he is a defeated foe.

3. Draw near to God (v. 8)—pursue an intimate love relationship with God (Phil. 3:10).

4. Cleanse your hands (v. 8)—the added term “sinners” addresses the unbelievers’ need to recognize and confess their sin (5:20).

5. Purify your hearts (v. 8)—cleansing the hands symbolizes external behavior; this phrase refers to the inner thoughts, motives, and desires of the heart (Ps. 24:3, 4).

6. Lament (v.9)—to be afflicted, wretched, and miserable. This is the state of those truly broken over their sin (Matt. 5:4).

7. Mourn (v. 9)—the internal experience of brokenness over sin (Ps. 51:17; Matt. 5:4).

8. Weep (v. 9)—the outward manifestation of inner sorrow over sin (Mark 14:72).

9. Grieve without laughter or joy (v. 9)—the signs of denial; the flippant laughter of those foolishly indulging in worldly pleasures without regard to God, life, death, sin, judgment, or holiness.

10. Humble yourself (v. 10)—this final command sums up the preceding 9. The word “humble” comes from a word meaning “to make oneself low.” Those conscious of being in the presence of the majestic, infinitely holy God are humble (Is. 6:5).

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.


November 23 – Grainfields and the Sabbath

“At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath, and His disciples became hungry and began to pick the heads of grain and eat. But when the Pharisees saw this, they said to Him, ‘Look, Your disciples do what is not lawful to do on a Sabbath’” (Matthew 12:1–2).

Keeping the Sabbath was still a binding ceremonial duty for the Jews of Jesus’ day, but most of them had little idea of God’s original purpose for the day. Instead of being a day of rest, it had become a day of burden with thousands of man-made restrictions. Ironically it became harder to “rest” than to work the other six days.

The Sabbath had ceased being a delight for people but had become oppressive and frustrating. They were undoubtedly tired of the unscriptural system imposed on the day and welcomed any proper teaching about the Sabbath.

It’s difficult to know what the Pharisees were doing in the fields this day, other than to be watchdogs over the human traditions of the Sabbath. Their accusation that Jesus’ disciples had broken the Sabbath law was simply wrong because it elevated human tradition to the level of God’s Word. Centuries of observing rabbinic ritual had given it the status of legitimate law in the legalistic minds of the Pharisees. They gave only lip service to Scripture and merely used it to justify their traditions, many of which “invalidated the word of God” (Matt. 15:6).

The Jewish leaders’ indictment of Jesus and His disciples on this occasion illustrates a desire to merely protect their distorted, man-made conventions. In that way it perverted God’s original purpose for the Sabbath, which was to give humanity a special day to rest and serve Him, not to deal with an exasperating list of regulations.

Ask Yourself

How do you deal with others’ expectations, even when you know they’re forcing unreasonable requirements on you? Do you fulfill them out of a need to be thought highly of? How does a person balance freedom with proper responsibility?

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, November 23, 2014

His Likeness

However deep the mystery, however many the paradoxes involved, it is still true that men become saints not at their own whim but by sovereign calling. Has not God by such words as these taken out of our hands the ultimate choice? “It is the Spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing . . . All that the Father giveth me shall come to me . . . No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him . . . No man can come unto me, except it were given him of my Father . . . Thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him. . . . It pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace, to reveal his Son in me.”

God has made us in His likeness, and one mark of that likeness is our free will. We hear God say, “Whosoever will, let him come.” We know by bitter experience the woe of an unsurrendered will and the blessedness or terror that may hang upon our human choice. But back of all this and preceding it is the sovereign right of God to call saints and determine human destinies. The master choice is His, the secondary choice is ours. Salvation is from our side a choice, from the divine side it is a seizing upon, an apprehending, a conquest by the Most High God. Our “accepting” and “willing” are reactions rather than actions. The right of determination must always remain with God.

Verse
“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.”
John 6:44

Thought
The master choice of salvation is His, the secondary choice is ours.

Prayer
Conquer our wills, Holy Father, and help us to realize that our choice to accept You is but a reaction to Your initial call.

A. W. Tozer


PETITION: Pray for Faith

4.3.6

We must pray for faith.

Lord, let it be granted to us to believe; Philippians 1:29(ESV) for the faith by which we are saved is not our own doing, it is the gift of God. Ephesians 2:8(ESV)

Lord, increase our faith, Luke 17:5(ESV) and supply what is lacking in it, 1 Thessalonians 3:10(ESV) that we may grow strong in faith, as we give glory to God. Romans 4:20(ESV)

Lord, give us so to be crucified with Christ, as that the life we now live in the flesh, we may live by faith in the Son of God, who loved us and gave himself for us; Galatians 2:20(ESV) and so to carry in us continually the death of Jesus, as that the life also of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal bodies. 2 Corinthians 4:10(ESV)

As we have received Christ Jesus the Lord, enable us so to walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as we were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. Colossians 2:6-7(ESV)

Let every word of yours benefit us, being united by faith, Hebrews 4:2(ESV) by which we receive your testimony and set our seal to this: that God is true. John 3:33(ESV)

We beg you, work in us that faith which is the assurance of things hoped for and the conviction of things not seen, Hebrews 11:1(ESV) by which we may look above the things that are seen, that are transient, and may look at the things that are unseen, that are eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:18(ESV)

Enable us by faith to set the LORD always before us, Psalm 16:8(ESV) and to have our eyes ever towards him, Psalm 25:15(ESV) that we may act in everything, as seeing him who is invisible, and may look to the reward. Hebrews 11:26-27(ESV)

Let our hearts be cleansed by faith, Acts 15:9(ESV) and let it be our victory to overcome the world; 1 John 5:4(ESV) and let us be kept from fainting by believing that we shall look upon the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Psalm 27:13(ESV)

Matthew Henry’s Method for Prayer


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

[2] Osbeck, K. W. (1996). Amazing grace: 366 inspiring hymn stories for daily devotions (pp. 350–351). Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications.

[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. 340). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

[5] Stanley, C. F. (2004). God’s way day by day (p. 348). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[6] Stanley, C. F. (2002). Seeking His face (p. 342). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[7] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 352). 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. 342). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[10] Jeremiah, D. (2007). Life-Changing Moments With God (p. 350). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[11] Spurgeon, C. H. (1892). Daily Help (p. 331). Baltimore: R. H. Woodward & Company.

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

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

[14] Stanley, C. F. (1999). On holy ground (p. 342). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[15] Stanley, C. F. (2006). Pathways to his presence (p. 342). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[16] Jeremiah, D. (2002). Sanctuary: finding moments of refuge in the presence of God (p. 342). Nashville, TN: Integrity Publishers.

[17] 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.

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

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

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


Originally posted on Possessing the Treasure:

By Mike Ratliff

3 I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, 4 and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God. 6 Yet we do speak wisdom among those who are mature; a wisdom, however, not of this age nor of the rulers of this age, who are passing away; 7 but we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages to our glory; (1 Corinthians 2:3-7 NASB)

When we observe those “Christian Leaders” espousing the social activism of new evangelicalism, which is rooted in Semi-Pelagianism and Humanism, it should make us wonder at what motivates them. Why would these people seek to create a new version…

View original 1,847 more words

One great power of sin is that it blinds men so that they do not recognize its true character. —Andrew Murray

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California Photographers Decide to Close Business Rather Than Shoot Same-Sex ‘Weddings’

(CN) — A California couple has decided to shutter their photography business rather than be forced to shoot same-sex “wedding” ceremonies.

Nang and Chris Mai operate Urloved Photography–that is, until recently, when the couple announced that it was discontinuing its business due to harassment from homosexual advocates over making a referral rather than agreeing to shoot a same-sex ceremony.

Continue reading this story >>


Parents Pull Son from Class after Learning Middle School Teaching ‘Five Pillars of Islam’

(CN) — The parents of a middle school student in California are expressing concern after learning that their son was sent home with homework that required the student to outline key teachings of the Islamic religion.

The parents, who maintained their anonymity in a recent local television broadcast, showed reporters a copy of the papers their son had to complete for his homework assignment from Manhattan Beach Middle School. “What are the teachings of the Koran?” it asked. “What is the sunna?” “What are the five pillars?”

Continue reading this story >>


Satanists Seeking to Distribute Satanic Coloring Books Results in School Board Banning Bibles

(CN) — A Florida school board has moved to change its policies to ban the distribution of Bibles and all other religious materials after a New York-based Satanic organization sought to distribute coloring books to students.

“This really has, frankly, gotten out of hand,” Orange County Chairman Bill Sublette told reporters this week. “I think we’ve seen a group or groups take advantage of the open forum we’ve had.”

Continue reading this story >>


Islamic Imam Leads U.S. House of Representatives in Prayer ‘In the Name of Allah’

(CN) — An Islamic imam led the U.S. House of Representatives in prayer ‘in the name of Allah’ this week, as those representing the people from states across America stood with their heads bowed and eyes closed.

Imam Hamad Ahmad Chebli of the Islamic Society of Central Jersey in Monmouth opened the day on Thursday, being introduced by Speaker John Boehner.

Continue reading this story >>


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Yearning for His Coming

Next week comes Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and, oh yeah, that Christian season of Advent. Stay tuned to BreakPoint.
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Some here, some there — November 21, 2014

by Dan Phillips
Here’s the first burst. I’ll start some major adds after my Bible etc. reading, so check back. Priorities!

  • I go to Doug Wilson’s site daily. But it may be a week, two or three, before something grabs me. Then when Doug’s in the ten-ring, he is just In. The. Ten. Ring. Like this brilliant takedown of Greg Boyd.
  • Friends don’t let friends indulge their revulsion against God’s sovereignty. See Pinnock. See Boyd. See a host of others.
  • It often seems to be the case that when Doug is brilliant, he’s brilliant by clusters. So the above was followed soon thereafter by Remanded to Sensitivity Camps, which is, well, brilliant. It’s a thought from the same seedbed as this post, which even Challies admitted seeing.
  • Which makes it hard not also to recall:
  • Pause to reflect on the commentary that subsequent history added to both Tweets.
  • Now, to be fair: if anyone knows of any retractions and apologies — which is to say, any welcome deviations from PA#2 — let me know so that I can share.
  • Not related, and not theological, but still fairly awesome.
  • To us:
  • To the Pope:
  • In between? Don’t know.
  • Used to be that Multnomah Press was a sure sign of Biblically-faithful Christian books. No longer. But in a rarity, the publisher is splitting into two labels, to deal with conservative titles and those that aren’t so much. They’re being up-front with buyers, that some of their titles are going away from Biblical fidelity. You know, just like Eerdmans, Baker, and Zondervan didn’t.
  • Remember how Houston’s lesbian mayor Annise Parker was seeking sermons and correspondence from some local pastors touching on homosexuality, her conduct in office, related matters? Remember how her legal team launched it, she doubled down, then she retracted? Turns out it seems to be ongoing.

Source


Do Not Be Surprised. . . This ‘n’ That

  • We didn’t start the fire and unfortunately, we can’t stop it either.

 

  • Here’s a great review of the new Discovering Romans book. Have you ordered your copy yet? Here’s a tip: Do it. I’ve read the book. You need it on your bookshelf.
  • And the most difficult text to preach is…
  • Here’s your weekly dose of adorable.
  • Well, hm, okay. That’s awkward. (Note: I shouldn’t have to give this disclaimer, but since some people think that I agree with every article I link to, I feel it’s necessary here: the article I’ve linked to is found at an atheist blog. I do not agree with the opinions expressed at that site.)
  • This is great. I bet the Minor Prophets have never been more exciting.
  • You can’t really beat Bing Crosby at Christmas. It’s almost time for me to start bombarding you with Christmas music…
  • Tim Challies wishes he could see John Owen debate Joel Osteen.
  • Who do you say that I am?
  • The most misunderstood parable:

Source


Weekly Blogs

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The Legacy of No Evangelism & Poor Evangelism In Scotland’s Schemes – 20schemes

The Internet: The Great Evangelical Op-Ed Tabloid – Feeding on Christ

An Accurate Parody: On Andrew Wilson and Matthew Vines – Mere Orthodoxy | Christianity, Politics, and Culture

Internet Porn: An Entirely New Child’s Game

A Great Pro-Life Idea | Gentle Reformation

It’s Official: Mormon Founder Had Up To 40 Wives

4 Dangers for Complementarians | TGC | The Gospel Coalition

Believers struggle to make sense of salvation for the mentally ill | Deseret News National

What is Seasonal Affective Disorder? | Yellowbrick

A Letter to the Anxious Christian | Gentle Reformation

Don’t Waste Your Two Most Productive Hours — Science of Us

Stephen Nichols Writes History For The Church

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Battle Plan | Challies

6 Reasons Not To Read A Book

Are Rewards A Valid Motive For Sanctification?

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Stand Up For The Truth Weekly Watchman

RECENT POSTS:

Leaving churches: The rise of the “Dones”

Keeping our eyes fixed on Him

Would the Son of God Contradict the Father?

Scoffers in the modern church

Christian pastors: Let’s get out of the marriage business

The price of contending

“My pastors don’t believe in Genesis. Should I leave?”

Jude, Peter, and why watchmen can’t be ignored

Confirmed: Muslim Group ISIS Beheaded American Aid Worker

Pentatonix and the elephant in the sanctuary

Should Christians dialogue with obvious apostates and heretics?


Leaving churches: The rise of the “Dones”
Nov 21, 2014 08:48 am | A.Spreeman

Researchers from organizations like Pew Forum and Barna Research have come up with all sorts of names for our behavior and practices. We’ve heard of the “unchurched,” the “De-Churched,” and this past year we’ve heard the term, “the Nones,” the number of Americans who do not identify with any religion. Well now there’s a new […]

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Keeping our eyes fixed on Him
Nov 20, 2014 08:35 pm | A.Spreeman

Today we’re seeing some Churches taking a stand for God’s Word as truth. Two pastors have said they are getting out of the marriage business for the state, and are asking other churches to join them. We’re also seeing an influx in an agenda that is teaching our young students a different worldview than the […]

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Would the Son of God Contradict the Father?
Nov 20, 2014 07:26 am | Marsha West

Is it true that Jesus never mentioned anything about homosexuality?  That He never brought it up, even once?  Most of us have heard the argument that the Gospels have no record of Jesus condemning homosexuality.  There are individuals, especially from the militant homosexual rights movement, who utter this fabrication with all the raw hostility of liberals who think abortion is their […]

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Scoffers in the modern church
Nov 19, 2014 12:34 pm | A.Spreeman

Today we’re talking about about how to stand firm on God’s Word as truth, as a growing number of churches continually teach otherwise. Many times it’s leadership who tells you to stop contending in the name of “love.” Plus we’re seeing a blending of Christianity and the blackness of our culture. It’s a slippery slide… […]

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Christian pastors: Let’s get out of the marriage business
Nov 19, 2014 12:28 pm | A.Spreeman

Interesting news as we navigate the ever-changing church landscape in the homosexual marriage arena. Two pastors say they are so concerned about how the government is changing the definition of marriage, they have started a movement encouraging clergy to refuse to perform all civil marriages. Christopher Seitz and Ephraim Radner, Episcopal and Anglican pastors respectively, […]

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The price of contending
Nov 18, 2014 11:34 am | A.Spreeman

Often believers are told they are intolerant, unloving and narrow-minded for not going with the flow of an ever-changing culture. Many Bible believing Christians are dismayed by the way they are being rejected by not just the world, but their friends, family members and even those in their church for standing firm on God’s Word […]

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The-price-of-contending-shortened-sorry-guest-Scott-Alan-Buss-11-18-14.mp3 55.1 MB
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“My pastors don’t believe in Genesis. Should I leave?”
Nov 17, 2014 10:25 am | A.Spreeman

When a Creation website publishes a letter like this one and then offers tips for how to deal with a church where her pastors don’t believe in Genesis as truth, you’d expect some teaching or apologetics – at least a Scripture verse or two – to equip readers to stand firm on God’s Word as […]

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Jude, Peter, and why watchmen can’t be ignored
Nov 17, 2014 08:12 am | A.Spreeman

Simon and Jude martyred; ms. circa 1455. (Photo credit: Wikipedia) Did you know that Jude is the only book given entirely to the great apostasy?  The Book of Jude is only one chapter with 24 verses. It may be the shortest book of the Bible, but it is very important. The very first verse identifies […]

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Confirmed: Muslim Group ISIS Beheaded American Aid Worker
Nov 16, 2014 09:51 pm | A.Spreeman

Source: Christian News Network The Islamic terrorist group ISIS, also identifying themselves as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, has beheaded an American aid worker, according to a new video released by the barbaric Muslim faction and confirmed to be authentic by the Obama administration. “This is Peter Edward Kassig, a U.S. citizen of […]

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Pentatonix and the elephant in the sanctuary
Nov 16, 2014 04:26 pm | A.Spreeman

NOTE: The reason for writing/posting about this is not to point fingers at the world, but to ask questions of the visible Church. A big shift is happening, and many are going along with the cultural tsunami rather than make waves being set apart. This time of year many Christians share beautiful hymns and music […]

The post Pentatonix and the elephant in the sanctuary appeared first on Stand Up For The Truth.

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Should Christians dialogue with obvious apostates and heretics?
Nov 16, 2014 02:23 pm | A.Spreeman

This era of the Church is one of extreme deception due to compromise with the standards and focus of the world. Separation between the Church and the world is not being kept. Instead, the holy barrier between the two has been breached as false prophets have welcomed in not only the world and its ways into their churches,

The post Should Christians dialogue with obvious apostates and heretics? appeared first on Stand Up For The Truth.

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TGC Spotlight 11.21.14

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 to Unveil Plan for Unilateral Action on Immigration

What is President Obama’s immigration plan?

Last night, in a national televised address, the President provided details about his plan to take unilateral executive action on immigration Obama’s decision is an expansion of his 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. DACA, created by executive action after Congress failed in its attempt to pass the similar-themed DREAM Act, allowed 600,000 qualified immigrants ages 5 to 31 to remain and work in this country without fear of deportation.

What will the new plan do?

This new executive action will give temporary visas to undocumented immigrants whose children were born in the U.S. It is expected to protect an additional 4 million and 5 million undocumented immigrants from deportation for at least the remainder of Obama’s presidency. Obama will also expand a program that gives work permits for up to 29 months to foreign graduates of U.S. universities with degrees in science, technology, engineering, and math. The president is also expanding the pool of young undocumented immigrants eligible for DACA. Currently, only people who can apply are those who have lived in the U.S. since June 15, 2007.

Will this action provide a path to U.S. citizenship?

Not directly. The action will not grant citizenship or legal permanent residence (i.e., a “green card”). People will be required to register with the federal government and, if they clear a series of background checks and other requirements, will be shielded from deportation proceedings. They will be given work permits and assigned Social Security numbers, so they can legally work and pay taxes.

Can Obama do these things unilaterally?

That’s a key point of contention.

The executive branch, through the Department of Homeland Security, is required to enforce immigration laws and deport people who have violated such laws. However, the Homeland Security has some discretion in determining the best way to implement and enforce the law. The White House’s argument is they since they are not stopping deportations completely (they’ll still deport about 400,000 people a year) that they are complying with their requirements.

Critics disagree and say the discretion function of the executive branch was always intended to allow for prudent actions on a case-by-case basis and not used as a blanket policy that circumvents the will of Congress and the American people (a recent poll found that 46 percent of Americans say the president should wait for Congress to take action on the issue). Even some supporters of the administration and its pro-immigration stance say that the action is violating the law and, as the editorial board of the Washington Post said, is equivalent to “tearing up the Constitution.” Many also fear that President Obama, who previously renounced such unilateral acts by previous presidents, is setting a dangerous precedent for future executive action. For example, a future president could say that the IRS is not going to focus on collecting specific taxes on favored interest groups.

For more on TGC’s coverage of the immigration issue, see:

Romans 13 and the Immigration Crisis (July 11, 2014)

Immigration Policy and Ministry (May 8, 2012)

Evangelical Leaders Call for Immigration Reform (June 14, 2012)

The Gospel and Immigration (May 1, 2012)

 

Quick Takes

• “Gospel-centered” has become a popular buzzword in Reformed evangelical circles. John Piper explains three things it means in this brief video.

• A 100-second animated explanation of Edmund Burke’s difference between the beautiful and the sublime.

• Four rabbis were recently murdered while praying in a Jerusalem synagogue. Jewish writer David Goldman explained the Har Nof massacre to his Christian friends by saying, “this is roughly comparable to terrorists invading a cathedral and killing a Cardinal among other clergy. Rabbi Moshe Twersky H”YD . . . was one of our sages. Our grief and outrage are past description.” Here is a brief explainer on this most recent terrorist attack.

What is reparative therapy? Heath Lambert explains, and says that “in spite of some positive elements, RT is an unbiblical and ultimately unhelpful approach to change for same-sex attraction.”

(For even more links, see the “Remainder Bin” at the end of this post.)

Featured TGC Articles

Mothering In The Internet Age | Betsy Childs

Contrary to what online voices communicate, you’re not really in control of your child’s life—God is. And that is good news.

 

Man, Woman, And The Mystery Of Christ: An Evangelical Protestant Perspective | Russell Moore

The sexual revolution cannot keep its promises. People are looking for a cosmic mystery, for a love that is stronger than death. They cannot articulate it, and perhaps would be horrified to know it, but they are looking for God.

 

Is Open Theism Still A Factor 10 Years After Ets Vote? | Jeff Robinson

Open theism is no longer debated within ETS, but its adherents now spread the openness view of God through more popular channels.

 

Trip Lee Brags On The King | Matt Smethurst

There aren’t many musicians more successful right now than rapper Trip Lee. But the man off the stage might surprise you a bit.

 

Featured TGC Contributor Articles

A New Film on Selma, Alabama (1965), and the Best Thing to Read | Justin Taylor

I am really looking forward to this new film, Selma, coming out in January 2015.

 

Who Do You Say That I Am? | Kevin DeYoung

The greatness of God is most clearly displayed in his Son. And the glory of the gospel is only made evident in his Son. That’s why Jesus’ question to his disciples is so important: “Who do you say that I am?”

 

Overcoming Evangelistic Paralysis with an Unbelievably Good Gospel | Trevin Wax

Earlier this year, I read Jonathan Dodson’s book, The Unbelievable Gospel: Say Something Worth Believing (Zondervan), and found it to be a solid resource that gives careful attention to the message we proclaim as well as the person with whom we are speaking.

 

Will Ferguson Be Our Transformative Moment? | Thabiti Anyabwile

We’ve felt this feeling before, that sitting on the edge of your seat, stomach in knots, hoping to win but not hoping to offend feeling. We waited this way in 1992 to see what the jury would do when four officers were caught on tape beating Rodney King.

 

This is that mystery | Ray Ortlund

“This is that mystery which is rich in divine grace to sinners: wherein by a wonderful exchange our sins are no longer ours but Christ’s, and the righteousness of Christ not Christ’s but ours.”

 

A Prayer for Those of Us with Loved Ones Impacted by Memory Loss | Scotty Smith

Dear heavenly Father, though Isaiah used the image somewhat metaphorically, mothers and fathers do forget the children they have brought into the world. I know this quite well, having lived through the journey of watching my dad forgetting my name, then my face, then everything about me. The process was very painful, yet you met us time and again, with your mercy and grace.

 

Remainder Bin

Bioethics

India’s dark history of sterilisation Soutik Biswas, BBC

The death of 15 women at two state-run sterilisation camps in Chhattisgarh has put a spotlight on India’s dark history of botched sterilisations.

Down syndrome mom: the “death with dignity” debate insults my son’s life Anne Penniston Grunsted, Quartz

Earlier this month, Brittany Maynard made the much publicized decision to end her life rather than wait for her Stage IV cancer to inevitably kill her instead. Like many people around the world, I felt great sadness and sympathy for the choice she made, a choice I believe she had the right to make.

J.S. Mill and the Pro-Life Cause Christopher O. Tollefsen, Public Discourse

In spite of its many problematic aspects, the political thought of J.S. Mill provides a low but solid foundation for the essential convictions of the pro-life movement: that the unborn, in virtue of their common humanity, deserve the full protection of the law.

Christianity and Culture

5 Ways Christian Relationships Look Different Corrie Mitchell, OnFaith

Much of what culture teaches us about relationships is pretty off base from a Christian perspective.

10 Things I Wish Everyone Knew About the Black Church Nicole Symmonds, OnFaith

There’s more to the story than soulful music and whooping preachers. Way more.

10 Things I Wish Everyone Knew About Evangelicals Warren Cole Smith, OnFaith

A reporter offers his insights on a religious movement everyone talks about but few understand.

A Theolgoy of Sport: On the Rebound Lincoln Harvey, First Things

As I argue in my book, sport is a regulated form of physical play that is specifically designed to produce both winners and losers. Of course, some sporting contests do end up in frustrating ties or sterile dead-heats, but this outcome is never the aim of the game.

Church of England Approves Plan Allowing Female Bishops Katrin Benhold, New York Times

The Church of England overturned centuries of tradition on Monday with a final vote allowing women to become bishops, with the first appointments possible by Christmas.

Drugs and Alcohol

How Marijuana Really Affects the Brain Laura Tedesco, Yahoo Health

Clearing the air: New science reveals that toking up may be more addictive than previously thought.

Colorado panel makes no progress on edible marijuana Kristen Wyatt, Associated Press

A Colorado task force wrapped up a final task force meeting on Monday with no consensus on what marijuana-infused foods and drinks should look like.

Hello ladies, goodbye Communion? The Economist

If this week is remembered as an important one by church historians, it may be for a different reason: it was the moment when the archbishop of Canterbury finally acknowledged that the Anglican Communion, the global family of churches numbering about 80m of which he is head, may be impossible to hold together.

Family Issues

Is There a Link between Childhood Homelessness and Single Parenthood? Leslie Ford, The Daily Signal

A new report from The National Center on Family Homelessness concludes that “the challenges of single parenting” is one of the serious causes of homelessness. This conclusion makes sense. Single-parenthood drastically increases the likelihood of poverty and the risks of negative outcomes for children.

Health Issues

Drowning: ‘Hidden childhood killer’ Smitha Mundasad, BBC

Drowning is one of the 10 leading causes of death for children and young people across the world, a World Health Organization (WHO) report reveals.

Ebola patient Dr. Martin Salia dies in Omaha Mike Dubose, CBS News

A surgeon who contracted Ebola while treating patients in Sierra Leone has passed away in a hospital in Nebraska, where he had been flown for treatment, officials announced Monday.

 

International Issues

Deaths Linked to Terrorism Are Up 60 Percent, Study Finds Alan Cowell, New York Times

As Western governments grapple with heightened apprehension about the spread of Islamic militancy, an independent study on Tuesday offered little solace, saying the number of fatalities related to terrorism soared 60 percent last year.

Israel Shaken by 5 Deaths in Synagogue Assault Jodi Rudoren and Isabel Kershner, New York Times

The Orthodox Jewish men were facing east, to honor the Old City site where the ancient temples once stood, when two Palestinians armed with a gun, knives and axes burst into their synagogue Tuesday morning, shouting “God is great!” in Arabic.

Marriage Issues

Pope Francis stands firm on marriage at Humanum Colloquium Phillip Bethancourt, ERLC

Pope Francis began the Humanum Colloquium on the complementarity of man and woman in marriage by stating that “this complementarity is at the root of marriage and family.” Throughout the message, he was clear about the necessity and value of marriage despite progressive “ideological notions” on the family in our day.

Same-Self Marriage Timothy George, First Things

It’s only a trickle, not yet a trend, but it is out there, and it has a name: sologamy. Sologamy is the marriage of someone to one’s own self—the his- or herness of it is not relevant, although it seems to be mostly women who are doing it.

British Rabbi Tells Vatican Conference We Must Defend the Family of “Man, Woman and Child” Aleteia

Rabbi Lord Sacks blames the breakdown of the traditional family for society’s ills.

How the War on Poverty Has Hurt American Marriage Rates Robert Rector, The Daily Signal

It is no accident that the collapse of marriage in America largely began with the War on Poverty and the proliferation of means-tested welfare programs that it fostered.

Gay Marriage Could Happen in Mississippi Very Soon David Knowles, Bloomberg

A federal judge appointed by President Obama could decide this week whether to issue an injunction blocking the state’s ban on same-sex unions.

Military

Fearing Bombs That Can Pick Whom to Kill John Markoff, New York Times

As these weapons become smarter and nimbler, critics fear they will become increasingly difficult for humans to control — or to defend against. And while pinpoint accuracy could save civilian lives, critics fear weapons without human oversight could make war more likely, as easy as flipping a switch.

Why Air Force Cadets Need to Study Philosophy Alexandra Ossola, The Atlantic

Greater emphasis on humanities means more well-rounded decision making.

Other Faiths

10 Things I Wish Everyone Knew About Sikhism Simran Jeet Singh, OnFaith

Despite being the fifth largest world religion, Sikhism is one of the least understood traditions.

Religious Liberty

Air Force Amends Instruction On Religious Freedom and Accommodation Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

Last week, the U.S. Air Force announced that Air Force Instruction 1-1 on Air Force Culture has been updated as of Nov. 7 to clarify standards on free exercise of religion and religious accommodation. The amended Instruction (full text) strengthens free exercise and religious accommodation rights of military personnel, and weakens restrictions on proselytizing.

Sexuality Issues

First magazine aimed at gay teenagers is launched Theo Merz, The Telegraph

The publishers of one of the UK’s top gay magazines have launched a digital offering for the youth market.

Source


Truth2Freedom Blog Disclaimer: The blog post headline links in this blog post are given so as to keep people informed about current events and discussions taking place within our church and culture. A headline link on this blog post doesn’t necessarily mean that there is agreement or approval with all the views and opinions expressed within the headline linked article. Caution is also warranted with regards to the advertisements and links that are embedded within the headline linked article.

usa-dm2Are deliverance ministries Biblical? Do demons exist today? Is Satan real? Pastor Mike answers these questions and more on today’s show.

“Have you no wish for others to be saved? Then you’re not saved yourself, be sure of that!”

Emergent

The Emergent Church movement is a progressive Christian movement that attempts to reduce or eliminate Christian doctrine in favor of experience and feelings. Most do not believe man can know what is absolute truth, and believe God must be experienced outside of traditional biblical doctrines.

We know the Emergent church is alive and well, although it has morphed into something unrecognizable to many who don’t want to see it, and so they don’t.  Founder of the movement Brian McClaren has formed the ultimate umbrella organization CANA Initiative, which is a catch-all for every emergent organization out there. And he has said that it was Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven movement that really sparked the Emergent conversation.

That said, the following article is a must-read for those of you who think the emergent movement is dead. It is truly a fascinating article on the emergent movement, originally posted in the Christian Post by Chelsen Vicari, who serves as the Evangelical Program Director for the Institute on Religion and Democracy. (Images mine) Following that is more research for you to read and learn. First, the article:

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To understand what the Bible teaches about genuine salvation we must also have a category in our minds for false conversion. Many who profess faith in Christ are not truly regenerated (born again).

The following is a transcript from an excerpt of a sermon by Dr. R. C. Sproul concerning Mark chapter 4 and the Parable of the Sower. Quoting the text Dr. Sproul says:

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Holy Hill steeple

I originally posted this late last year, but we’ve had some many requests from people who are looking for a new church home that I’m re-posting to bump it higher:

If you are looking for a new church, you need to ask some very important questions of church leadership before you become a member. Here are 35 to get you started:

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Make no mistake about it. Obama’s illegal amnesty will not just apply to 5 million individuals

Lie #1: Every President has Taken Executive Action on Immigration: No other president has ever issued an amnesty of anywhere near this scope, created it out of thin air, or built it upon a prior executive action instead of a statute. And in the case of President Eisenhower, his executive action was to deport 80,000 illegal immigrants.

Lie #2: Illegal Immigrant Crossings are Down: Actually, this is the third straight year that border crossings have gone up, not to mention the entirely new wave from Central America.

obama-executive-order-illegal-immigration-amnesty

Lie #3: It does not grant citizenship or the right to stay here permanently: Under the royal edict, the work permits can be renewed every three years, and most likely, they will be renewed at the same 99.5% acceptance rate as DACA applications.  And once they get Social Security cards, they are going nowhere.  So yes, this is permanent.  And yes, they will be able to get green cards, which puts them on an automatic path to citizenship: “we are reducing the time that families are separated while obtaining their green cards.  Undocumented immigrants who are immediate relatives of lawful permanent residents or sons or daughters of US citizens can apply to get a waiver if a visa is available.”

Lie #4: Only 5 Million: Make no mistake about it.  Obama’s illegal amnesty will not just apply to 5 million individuals.  It will apply by default to all 12-20 million illegals in the country as well as the millions more who will now come here to enjoy the permanent cessation of borders and sovereignty.  Given the numerous options for people to become eligible for amnesty, ICE and CPB will be restricted from enforcing the law against anyone because each individual has to be afforded the opportunity to present themselves and apply for status.  There is no way those who were here for less than 5 years will be deported and there’s no way the new people rushing the border and overstaying their visas will be repatriated.

Lie #5: Deport Felons: Obama claims he is going to focus on deporting felons. Yet, he has done the opposite.  36,000 convicted criminal aliens were released last year, 80,000 criminal aliens encountered by ICE weren’t even placed into deportation proceedings, 167,000 criminal aliens who were ordered deported are still at large, 341,000 criminal aliens released by ICE without deportation orders are known to be free and at large in the US.  Again, this is cessation of deportations for everyone. They are leaving no illegal behind.

Read the rest of the story on Conservative Review…

The post The Top 10 Lies From Obama’s Amnesty Speech Last Night appeared first on Now The End Begins.

the donesResearchers from organizations like Pew Forum and Barna Research have come up with all sorts of names for our behavior and practices. We’ve heard of the “unchurched,” the “De-Churched,” and this past year we’ve heard the term, “the Nones,” the number of Americans who do not identify with any religion. Well now there’s a new term: The Dones.  These are folks who are done with church as an institution. They’ve stopped going. Probably for good.  We want to know why.

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Source

From 17 to 19 November 2014, Pope Francis hosted at the Vatican the Humanum conference, the focus of which was: An International Interreligious Colloquium on the Complementarity of Man and Woman.

The event gathered faith leaders from around the globe, including America’s own prominent Southern Baptists, Russell Moore and Rick Warren. The OC Register reports on Warren’s talk, “The Biblical Meaning of Marriage”:

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John Owen Portrait 2In recent years, many Christians have become increasingly familiar with Jonathan Edwards. As a result, many know that in addition to Edwards’ many theological masterpieces (like The End for Which God Created the World, The Freedom of the Will, and Original Sin), he also wrote what he called Miscellanies. These were reflections of various lengths on miscellaneous theological and practical topics. In other words, they were 18th-century Puritan blog posts.

Well, Edwards wasn’t the only one to do that. John Owen, perhaps the greatest theological mind of Puritanism, also penned these short, blog-post-like, reflections—though he called them “Discourses” instead of “Miscellanies.” A number of Owen’s Discourses are contained in Volume 9 of his Works, under the heading, “Several Practical Cases of Conscience Resolved.” There, he answers numerous practical questions within the span of 3 to 5 pages or so. Some examples include: “How does a Christian recover from neglect of the spiritual disciplines?” and “What does it mean for a sin to be ‘habitual’?” and “How are we to prepare for the coming of Christ?”

The tenth discourse in this collection answers the question: “What shall a person do who finds himself under the power of a prevailing corruption, sin, or temptation?” I don’t know about you, but I’d sure jump at the chance to read John Owen’s blog, and especially his answer on how to mortify a particular besetting sin. You’ll need to read it a bit more slowly and carefully than perhaps you would a contemporary blog post, but my experience with Owen’s writing has been that it’s worth the effort. Here’s John Owen, the blogger.

*     *     *     *     *

Question. What shall a person do who finds himself under the power of a prevailing corruption, sin, or temptation?

[…]

I answer,—

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Acts 4

Code: B141121

by John MacArthur

By God’s grace, not all believers face harsh legal or physical persecution for their faith. Many of us don’t live under the threat of being beaten or hauled into court for preaching the gospel. But there are many places around the globe right now where that is the daily reality for believers. And as the world grows more hostile to the truth of Scripture, we can expect those kinds of persecution to become more commonplace.

But one of the blessed byproducts of persecution is that it often spawns courtroom ministries and prison ministries. Opposition creates opportunities to boldly proclaim the truth to persecutors (Philippians 1:12-14).

That was the case for Peter and John in Acts 4. They were arrested for preaching the gospel and healing a man who had been crippled from birth. The next day they were hauled before the Sanhedrin. That elite group of priests, scribes, elders, and other dignitaries would have seen the apostles as nothing more than troublemakers—just a couple Galilean fisherman-turned-street evangelists who threatened their authority with stories of a resurrected Christ.

Perhaps that’s why the members of the Sanhedrin unwittingly gave Peter and John a perfect opportunity to confront them head-on with the truth of the gospel. In Acts 4:7, they demanded these uneducated men answer for their teaching: “By what power, or in what name, have you done this?” That was all the invitation Peter needed.

Find Strength in the Holy Spirit

The next verse highlights another response believers need to have in the face of persecution: “Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them . . .” (Acts 4:8). Just as Peter did, persecuted Christians need to find their strength in the Holy Spirit.

Thanks to rampant false teaching and abuse of the third member of the Trinity, today there’s considerable confusion about what “filled with the Holy Spirit” means. But what happened to Peter in the midst of the Sanhedrin wasn’t an emotional experience or an ecstatic exhibition.

Instead, being filled with the Spirit is setting aside your will, your wisdom, your strength, and your expertise, and instead relying on God’s. It’s yielding to the power of God at work in you through the Spirit to use you as a vessel for His truth. It’s not a passive, trance-like experience—your mind is fully engaged; it’s surrendered to the Lord, not spinning on your own steam.

In the face of strong persecution, believers may likely feel underprepared, overwhelmed, and outmatched. But in those moments, we need to remember that God uses our weakness to display His strength (2 Corinthians 12:10).

Boldly Proclaim the Gospel

What Peter said as he was filled with the Spirit is remarkable. Boldly answering the Sanhedrin, he declared:

Rulers and elders of the people, if we are on trial today for a benefit done to a sick man, as to how this man has been made well, let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by this name this man stands here before you in good health. He is the stone which was rejected by you, the builders, but which became the chief corner stone. And 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 4:8-12)

In the face of harsh persecution, boldness may seem counterintuitive. Most people would be more likely to try to smooth things out with an apology or some overt contrition.

But not Peter. Filled with the Holy Spirit and aware of the gospel opportunity before him, Peter pokes a verbal finger into the chests of Christ’s condemners, highlighting their hypocrisy and spiritual blindness.

Beginning in verse nine, Peter turns the tables on his indicters.

If we are on trial today for a benefit done to a sick man, as to how this man has been made well, let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by this name this man stands here before you in good health. (Acts 4:9-10)

He starts by acknowledging that they’ve been unjustly arrested for doing a good deed—healing a man crippled from birth (Acts 3:1-10). He then answers their question by declaring that it was accomplished through the power of Jesus Christ, whom they had just weeks earlier condemned to death.

Including the name “Christ” was a reference to Jesus’ role as the Messiah the Sanhedrin was supposedly looking for. This turned Peter’s explanation into a damning condemnation. While the Romans actually carried out Christ’s death sentence, Peter identifies the Sanhedrin as His true murderers.

In the face of severe persecution, Peter didn’t soften or tamp down the truth of the gospel. He remained bold and direct, in spite of the consequences. Why? Because for the gospel to take hold in a person’s life, sin must be exposed and confronted.

Some people will tell you that softening the harsh edges of the gospel—and particularly the truth about sin and hell—is a good way to make the truth more acceptable to the world. That it would make Christians less off-putting and more relatable if we just “love on people” instead of being so confrontational. But that approach only shows the world that we’re willing to compromise, and that the gospel isn’t so exclusive after all.

That was not Peter’s approach. In fact, he made sure to highlight the exclusivity of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

He is the stone which was rejected by you, the builders, but which became the chief corner stone. And 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 4:11-12)

That’s a far cry from the claims of many contemporary preachers who foolishly say, “Who am I to say who will be accepted by God? That’s up to Him.”

Instead, with his life potentially on the line, Peter made abundantly clear the facts of the case. The Sanhedrin had conspired to murder Christ, whom they should have recognized as Messiah. Jesus wasn’t defeated by their plot or the grave–God raised Him from the dead. Only through faith in Him can anyone hope to find salvation.

Facing similar circumstances, would we have the same boldness? Regardless of our situation, we ought to be no less committed to faithfully and accurately preaching the truth of the gospel, particularly to those who are hostile to God’s Word.

Next time we’ll see how the Sanhedrin reacted to Peter’s explanation, and consider another aspect of responding biblically to persecution.


Available online at: http://www.gty.org/resources/Blog/B141121
COPYRIGHT ©2014 Grace to You

Members of the EIT, a broad coalition of evangelical organizations and leaders who have been advocating for immigration reform consistent with some of the same biblical values invoked by Obama Thursday, however, have expressed divided positions on how President Obama has decided to help the strangers living in the shadows.

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In Agents of the Apocalypse, Dr. David Jeremiah, noted author and Bible teacher, takes a new approach to unpacking what is possibly one of the Bible’s most popular yet confusing books — and he recently shared his thoughts on why America seems absent from the Book of Revelation and other prophetic writings regarding the eschaton.

Revelation, the final book of the Christian Bible, has long served as a source of inspiration and speculation for pulpits, printing presses, and movie studios. The colorful apocalyptic work is credited in the text to Jesus Christ’s “servant John,” also described as a prophet. John, not to be mistaken with Jesus’ apostle, some scholars argue, tells of experiencing several visions, some of them related to future happenings, such as Jesus Christ’s Second Coming and God’s final judgment of the world.

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Are you in better shape financially than you were last Thanksgiving? If so, you should consider yourself to be very fortunate because most Americans are not. As you chow down on turkey, stuffing and cranberry sauce this Thursday, please remember that there are millions of Americans that simply cannot afford to eat such a meal. According to a shocking new report that was just released by the National Center on Family Homelessness, the number of homeless children in the U.S. has reached a new all-time high of 2.5 million. And right now one out of every seven Americans rely on food banks to put food on the table. Yes, life is very good at the moment for Americans at the top end of the income spectrum. The stock market has been soaring and sales of homes worth at last a million dollars are up 16 percent so far this year. But most Americans live in a very different world. The percentage of Americans that are employed is about the same as it was during the depths of the last recession, the quality of our jobs continues to go down, the rate of homeownership in America has fallen for seven years in a row, and the cost of living is rising much faster than paychecks are. As a result, the middle class is smaller this Thanksgiving than it was last Thanksgiving, and most Americans have seen their standards of living go down over the past year. (Read More….)

First Things, a conservative religious publication, has launched a movement encouraging pastors to refuse to perform marriages as representatives of the state. (Merritt, Religion News Service)

Full Story

The on-line retailer Amazon recently revealed the most popular verse in the Bible for Americans. No, it’s not the ubiquitous John 3:16 displayed on posters at sporting events everywhere.

Instead, Americans are increasingly turning to Philippians 4:6-7 which the apostle Paul begins with these words: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”

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You’ve no doubt heard of “Black Friday,” the day after Thanksgiving that features, along with countless sales, the more-than-occasional trampling of shoppers by their frenzied peers.

In many ways, “Black Friday” has become a bigger deal than Thanksgiving. So much so that many major retailers have announced that they are opening their doors on Thursday.

The hope is that the possibility of buying something you don’t really need for a little less than you would pay a few weeks later will help people work off the turkey and pumpkin pie and get down to some serious Christmas shopping.

The problem is that it isn’t Christmas yet—at least not for Christians.

The weeks leading up to Christmas day are properly called Advent in Western Christianity, from the Latin word adventus, meaning “coming.”[i]

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As a reminder of where we’ve been thus far, it might be helpful to list the Ten Tenets again. The Ten Tenets are these:

1. The faith that we are defending must begin with, and necessarily include, the Triune God — Father, Son and Holy Spirit — who, as God, condescends to create and to redeem.

2. God’s covenantal revelation is authoritative by virtue of what it is, and any Covenantal, Christian apologetic will necessarily stand on, and utilize, that authority in order to defend Christianity.

3. It is the truth of God’s revelation, together with the work of the Holy Spirit, that brings about a covenantal change from one who is in Adam to one who is in Christ.

4. Man (male and female) as image of God is in covenant with the Triune God, for eternity.

5. All people know the true God, and that knowledge entails covenantal obligations.

6. Those who are and remain in Adam suppress the truth that they know. Those who are in Christ, see that truth for what it is.

7. There is an absolute, covenantal antithesis between Christian theism and any other, opposing, position. Thus, Christianity is true and anything opposing it is false.

8. Suppression of the truth, like the depravity of sin, is total but not absolute. Thus, every unbelieving position will necessarily have within it ideas, concepts, notions, etc that it has taken and wrenched from its true, Christian context.

9. The true, covenantal, knowledge of God in man, together with God’s universal mercy, allows for persuasion in apologetics.

10. Every fact and experience is what it is by virtue of the covenantal all-controlling plan and purpose of God.

This month, we want to provide an explanation of Tenet 9.

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“Fundamentally, Reformed theology is theology founded on and fashioned by God’s Word. For it is God’s Word that forms our theology, and it is we who are reformed by that theology as we constantly return to God’s Word every day and in every generation. At its core, this is what the sixteenth-century Reformation was all about, and it’s what being Reformed is all about—confessing and practicing what God’s Word teaches. God’s Word and God’s Spirit reform the church.”

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There are three basic approaches or schools of what is called “apologetics.” This word comes directly from the Greek, which has to do with the idea of giving a defense. So what is being talked about is how one goes about trying to defend the truth of the Christian faith. That there are three approaches, however, does not mean that everyone fits neatly into one of them. People do borrow from each; and while a person might prefer one school over another, it is not uncommon for such a person to grant the value, and even, at times, the necessity, of the others.

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November is National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month and National Family Caregiver Month. As the number of people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s diseases continues to surge, our systems of care have struggled to meet the need. After the initial diagnosis, care often moves out of the doctor’s office and into the community—giving Christians and churches both the challenge and opportunity of responding to this question: How can I love my neighbor with dementia?

We can start by learning about Alzheimer’s disease and build upon that by living out the gospel in their care. Here are 10 things to remember about Alzheimer’s and caregiving.

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