It is a sad fact that some Christians have committed suicide. Adding to the tragedy is the false teaching that committing suicide automatically consigns one to hell. Many believe that a Christian who commits suicide will not be saved. This teaching is not supported in the Bible.

Scripture teaches that, from the moment we truly believe in Christ, we are guaranteed eternal life (John 3:16). According to the Bible, Christians can know beyond any doubt that they possess eternal life (1 John 5:13). Nothing can separate a Christian from God’s love (Romans 8:38–39). No “created thing” can separate a Christian from God’s love, and even a Christian who commits suicide is a “created thing”; therefore, not even suicide can separate a Christian from God’s love. Jesus died for all of our sins, and if a true Christian, in a time of spiritual attack and weakness, commits suicide, his sin is still covered by the blood of Christ.

According to the Bible, suicide is not what determines whether a person gains entrance into heaven. If an unsaved person commits suicide, he has done nothing but “expedite” his journey to hell. However, that person who committed suicide will ultimately be in hell for rejecting salvation through Christ, not because he committed suicide (see John 3:18). We should also point out, however, that no one truly knows what was happening in a person’s heart the moment he or she died. Some people have “deathbed conversions” and accept Christ in the moments before death. It is possible that a suicide could have a last-second change of heart and cry out for God’s mercy. We leave such judgments to God (1 Samuel 16:7).

The suicide of a believer is evidence that anyone can struggle with despair and that our enemy, Satan, is “a murderer from the beginning” (John 8:44). Suicide is still a serious sin against God. According to the Bible, suicide is murder; it is always wrong. Christians are called to live their lives for God, and the decision of when to die is God’s and God’s alone.

May God grant grace and the psalmist’s perspective to each one who is facing trials today: “Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God” (Psalm 43:5).[1]

 

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

 

Webster’s Dictionary defines perversion as “a diverting from the true intent or purpose; a change to something worse; a turning or applying to a wrong end or use.” Anything can be perverted. Using opiates for non-medicinal purposes, for example, is a perversion of the poppy plant. In the Bible, the word translated “perversion” is used to define a deviation from righteousness in sexual behavior (Leviticus 18:23; Romans 1:27; Ephesians 4:19; Colossians 3:5), speech (Proverbs 10:31), or justice (Ecclesiastes 5:8). In each case, there are warnings against using for evil something that God created as good.

Satan twists things. Every good thing that God created, Satan works to pervert. God created sexuality and called it good (Genesis 1:27–28, 31). Sexual union has a dual purpose—procreation (Genesis 1:28; 9:1) and joining marriage partners as “one flesh” (Genesis 2:24; Mark 10:8; 1 Corinthians 6:16). Since early days, human beings have found twisted uses for sex that accomplish neither of God’s intended purposes. The perversions were so widespread by the time God gave the Law to Moses that admonitions against specific perversions had to be included in detail (Leviticus 18:23; 20:12–13; Deuteronomy 27:20). According to Scripture, any sexual activity outside the marriage union of one woman and one man is a perversion and condemned by God (1 Corinthians 6:18; Hebrews 13:4; 1 Thessalonians 4:3). The New Testament lists some specific sexual perversions such as homosexuality, adultery, and fornication, stating that those who practice such aberrant behaviors “will not inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Corinthians 6:9–10; Galatians 5:19–21).

The book of Proverbs has a lot to say about perverted speech. Our mouths were created to praise God, encourage each other, and speak truth (Psalm 19:14; 120:2; 141:3; Proverbs 12:22). Perverse speech occurs when we use the gift of speech for evil purposes such as cursing, gossiping, using foul language, coarse joking, and lying (Proverbs 10:18; 12:22; 16:27; Ephesians 5:4). Ephesians 4:29 says, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” Colossians 4:6 says, “Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person” (NASB). In Matthew 15:11, Jesus indicates that perversion is a matter of the heart: “What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.”

God also hates the perversion of justice, especially when it victimizes widows and orphans (Exodus 22:22; Deuteronomy 27:19; Isaiah 1:23). God is perfectly just and commands human beings to model that justice. Proverbs 11:1 says, “The LORD detests dishonest scales, but accurate weights find favor with him.” When we choose to seek our own interests at the expense of the rights of others, we have perverted justice. Some examples of perverted justice are the taking and offering of bribes (Proverbs 17:23), oppressing the poor (Amos 5:12), killing the innocent (Exodus 23:7), and bearing false witness (Exodus 23:1; Proverbs 19:5). God loves justice, and godly people will love it, too. God desires His children to actively defend those who are being oppressed (Isaiah 1:17; Micah 6:8).

Satan cannot create; that power belongs to God alone. So he perverts what God has created. If he can entice God’s most cherished creations to follow him in his twisted ideas, he succeeds in perverting the image of God we were designed to magnify (1 Corinthians 11:7). It is Satan who introduced the idea that perversion equals freedom. But he knows quite well that perversion is a slippery path that leads to bondage and then death (Romans 2:5–8; 2 Peter 2:19). By perverting sexuality, speech, or justice, we mar the likeness of God in our own lives. But by using God’s gifts in the way He intended them to be used, we find true freedom and can enjoy a healthy relationship with God (Psalm 24:3–4; Matthew 5:8; Galatians 5:1).[1]

 

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

 

Vacation Bible School, or VBS, is a fun-filled program many churches offer, usually during the summer (“vacation”) months, to connect with the children and families in their communities. Vacation Bible School is an outreach meant to bring in children who don’t normally attend church and to teach them the gospel. As an evangelistic tool, VBS helps churches fulfill the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19).

Vacation Bible School began in the 1890s. A New York doctor’s wife wanted to find a way to keep children off the streets in the summertime, and so she rented a large beer hall in the East Side in order to conduct what she called “Everyday Bible School.” Her idea expanded, and eventually the New York City Baptist Mission Society established several of these Bible schools around the city.

A man named Robert G. Boville, formerly of the Baptist Mission Society, was key in the program’s expansion to other cities around the country. By 1907, he had established a national committee for Vacation Bible Schools.

Today, Vacation Bible School is a popular summer activity for Christians and non-Christians alike. Churches generally run Vacation Bible School for a week, and each program has its own theme (medieval castles, water parks, the Old West, etc.) that children can explore. A week of VBS usually includes games, snacks, crafts, skits, and, of course, Bible lessons. There is always a connection between God and the theme, allowing kids to discover God in a creative way. Many Christian publishing companies offer curricula to guide churches in setting up and running a VBS program, but some churches choose to write their own curricula.

Over the years, many churches have used Vacation Bible School as a fun, low-pressure evangelism tool. Many adults today can attest to the fact that VBS was where they first learned about Jesus Christ, resulting in their salvation. Vacation Bible School is a good way to reaffirm the commitment of God’s people through the centuries: “We will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord” (Psalm 78:4).[1]

 

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

Originally posted on Zwinglius Redivivus:

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Originally posted on Wintery Knight:

It’s easy! Just watch the video of his debate with William Lane Craig, who responds to Atkins’ explanation.

So, just who is this Peter Atkins, and why is he a good spokesman for atheism?

From his Wikipedia bio.

Peter William Atkins (born August 10, 1940) is an English chemist and a fellow and professor of chemistry at Lincoln College of the University of Oxford. He is a prolific writer of popular chemistry textbooks, including Physical Chemistry, 8th ed. (with Julio de Paula of Haverford College), Inorganic Chemistry, and Molecular Quantum Mechanics, 4th ed. Atkins is also the author of a number of science books for the general public, including Atkins’ Molecules and Galileo’s Finger: The Ten Great Ideas of Science.

[...]Atkins is a well-known atheist and supporter of many of Richard Dawkins’ ideas. He has written and spoken on issues of humanism, atheism, and what…

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Originally posted on Joel C. Rosenberg's Blog:

Obama tells "60 Minutes" that US intelligence underestimated the ISIS threat. (source: CBS News)

Obama tells “60 Minutes” that US intelligence underestimated the ISIS threat. (source: CBS News)

For the last several years, President Obama and his top advisors told us over and over again that “al Qaeda is on the run,” and “we decimated al Qaeda.”

In January, the President dismissed ISIS — formerly known as “al Qaeda in Iraq” — as a “jayvee” team and not a serious threat in Iraq or a serious threat to U.S. national security. He said this even though ISIS forces had just seized control of the city of Fallujah days before the January interview with a reporter from the New Yorker.

But as numerous Mideast analysts, myself included, have repeatedly warned, the forces of Radical Islam have grown more powerful and more dangerous in recent years, not less so — and ISIS, in particular, is no “jayvee” squad. They are a vicious, battle-tested, barbaric terrorist organization…

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Originally posted on Pastor Joe Quatrone, Jr.:

Citizens of Heaven_T_NVHaving set forth his life ambition to be more Christ-like, Paul does not hesitate to tell the Philippians to follow his example. He wants them to imitate him. Surely, he does not mean they should imitate every single area of his life, for he had just stated he is not sinlessly perfect. But in the matter of relentlessly pursuing after Christ-likeness, he does call on his readers to follow his own example.

Join together in following my example, brothers and sisters, and just as you have us as a model, keep your eyes on those who live as we do. For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things. But our…

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The number of people who identify themselves as atheists in the United States has been steadily rising in recent years. According to the Pew Research Center, when asked about their religious identity, 2.4 percent of Americans say they are atheists, up from 1.6 percent in 2007.

Here are nine things you should know about atheism:

Read more

Originally posted on Wintery Knight:

Here is the video of the debate:

And Blake’s summary of the debate from his TreeSearch.org web site.

In Justin’s opening statement, he made four arguments:

  1. The existence of rational unbelief is more consistent with naturalism
  2. Darwinian evolution is more consistent with naturalism
  3. The hostility to life in most of the universe is is more consistent with naturalism
  4. The existence of suffering among sentient beings is more consistent with naturalism

These are all good arguments for naturalism. That’s what atheists argue if they are willing to bear the burden of proof – those are quality arguments.

In Blake’s opening statement, he made three arguments:

  1. The existence of “the moral arena” is more consistent with theism
  2. The intelligibility and discoverability of the universe is more consistent with theism
  3. The historicity of the resurrection of Jesus is more consistent with theism

These arguments are also good arguments for theism and the last one is good…

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Originally posted on hipandthigh:

creation_thumb[3]Theistic evolution has emerged in recent years as the “go to” explanation that attempts to accommodate the historical narrative of Genesis with the evolutionary theory of life. Even though theistic evolutionary proponents claim to uphold the inspiration of the Bible, they typically undermine its integrity by yielding to so-called scientific conclusions thus diminishing the authority of God’s Word.

Biologos is the primary mouthpiece popularizing and disseminating theistic evolutionary propaganda to the general pubic.  Under the “Questions” page the curators summarize their position by differentiating theistic evolution from atheistic evolution, intelligent design, and creationism, by writing,

Theism is the belief in a God who cares for and interacts with the creation. Theistic Evolution, therefore, is the belief that evolution is the way by which God created life.

On the webpage where the Biologos Foundation outlines what they are about and what they believe as a group, they write under point 1,

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Originally posted on Possessing the Treasure:

by Mike Ratliff

8 λέγω γὰρ Χριστὸν διάκονον γεγενῆσθαι περιτομῆς ὑπὲρ ἀληθείας θεοῦ, εἰς τὸ βεβαιῶσαι τὰς ἐπαγγελίας τῶν πατέρων, 9 τὰ δὲ ἔθνη ὑπὲρ ἐλέους δοξάσαι τὸν θεόν, καθὼς γέγραπται· διὰ τοῦτο ἐξομολογήσομαί σοι ἐν ἔθνεσιν καὶ τῷ ὀνόματί σου ψαλῶ. 10 καὶ πάλιν λέγει· εὐφράνθητε, ἔθνη, ετὰ τοῦ λαοῦ αὐτοῦ. 11 καὶ πάλιν · αἰνεῖτε, πάντα τὰ ἔθνη, τὸν κύριον καὶ ἐπαινεσάτωσαν αὐτὸν πάντες οἱ λαοί. 12 καὶ πάλιν Ἠσαΐας λέγει· ἔσται ἡ ῥίζα τοῦ Ἰεσσαὶ καὶ ὁ ἀνιστάμενος ἄρχειν ἐθνῶν, ἐπʼ αὐτῷ ἔθνη ἐλπιοῦσιν. 13 Ὁ δὲ θεὸς τῆς ἐλπίδος πληρώσαι ὑμᾶς πάσης χαρᾶς καὶ εἰρήνης ἐν τῷ πιστεύειν, εἰς τὸ περισσεύειν ὑμᾶς ἐν τῇ ἐλπίδι ἐν δυνάμει πνεύματος ἁγίου. (Romans 15:8-13 NA28)

8 For I say that Christ has become a servant to the circumcision on behalf of the truth of God to confirm the promises given to the fathers, 9 and for the Gentiles to…

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Originally posted on Possessing the Treasure:

It is with a heavy heart that I must share news with all of you that I received earlier this evening. I received an email from one of our leaders at Christian Research Network to call a phone number. The message simply stated that it was about Ken. I called the number and was told that our leader, Ken Silva had died, probably yesterday evening. He was found this morning. I am devastated and am grieving. Ken and Jim Bublitz were instrumental in getting me started in this ministry now they are both with the Lord. He will be missed. I have no details about a funeral or anything like that. Please be in prayer for his family and for CRN and the CRN family. – Mike Ratliff

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Day 30

Adoration

There is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom I live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom I live. (1 Corinthians 8:6)

The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His being, upholding all things by His powerful word. After He cleansed our sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name He has inherited is more excellent than theirs. (Hebrews 1:3–4)

Pause to express your thoughts of praise and worship.

Confession

The Lord does not see as man sees. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. (1 Samuel 16:7)

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

Renewal

May I be a person of faith, who does not doubt the promises of God, and not a double-minded man, who is unstable in all his ways. (James 1:6, 8)

May I walk worthy of God who calls me into His kingdom and glory. (1 Thessalonians 2:12)

If I live according to the flesh, I will die; but if by the Spirit I put to death the deeds of the body, I will live. For those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. (Romans 8:13–14)

Pause to add your own prayers for personal renewal.

Petition

Since I have a great cloud of witnesses surrounding me, may I lay aside every impediment and the sin that so easily entangles, and run with endurance the race that is set before me, fixing my eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of my faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. May I consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners, so that I will not grow weary and lose heart. (Hebrews 12:1–3)

Growth in Christ

Greater desire to know and please Him

Greater love and commitment to Him

Grace to practice His presence

Grace to glorify Him in my life

My activities for this day

Special concerns

Intercession

Just as the body is one, but has many members, and all the members of the body, being many, are one body; so also is Christ. (1 Corinthians 12:12)

Churches and Ministries

My local church

Other churches

Evangelism and discipleship ministries

Educational ministries

Special concerns

Affirmation

The Lord is my portion and my inheritance. (Numbers 18:20)

As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord. (Joshua 24:15)

You will honor those who honor You, but those who despise You will be disdained. (1 Samuel 2:30)

Pause to reflect upon these biblical affirmations.

Thanksgiving

I was not redeemed with perishable things such as silver or gold from the aimless way of life handed down to me from my forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish or defect. (1 Peter 1:18–19)

How great is the love the Father has lavished on me, that I should be called a child of God—and I am! Therefore the world does not know me, because it did not know Him. (1 John 3:1)

Pause to offer your own expressions of thanksgiving.

Closing Prayer

I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed and am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day. (2 Timothy 1:12)

May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip us in every good thing to do His will, working in us what is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. (Hebrews 13:20–21)[1]


September 30

THE SPIRIT BREATHES UPON THE WORD

William Cowper, 1731–1800

Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path. (Psalm 119:105)

The Bible is the only book whose Author is always present when one reads it.

Unknown

We can never really be exposed to the truths of God’s Word without our lives being affected. Either we become more desirous of becoming like the author of the Book, or we become increasingly hardened to its truths. It has been said that we must know the Word of God in order to know the God of the Word. However, a study of God’s Word must never stop at merely gaining biblical knowledge. It must always lead us to a more intimate relationship with God Himself.

Although William Cowper, the author of this hymn text, was regarded as one of the leading English poets of his day, he suffered periods of severe depression throughout his lifetime. Yet during times of normalcy he wrote great literary works and worked with John Newton to produce the important Olney Hymns hymnal of 1779, to which Cowper contributed 67 texts. “The Spirit Breathes Upon the Word” was from this collection.

This hymn teaches an important truth: The same Spirit of God who authored the Bible is the One who enlightens it for our understanding and guidance—“The hand that gave it still supplies the gracious light and heat.” May we increasingly use this enlightened Word as we pursue the steps of Christ till they lead us to “brighter worlds above.”

The Spirit breathes upon the Word, and brings the truth to sight; precepts and promises afford a sanctifying light.

A glory gilds the sacred page, majestic like the sun: It gives a light to ev’ry age; it gives but borrows none.

The Hand that gave it still supplies the gracious light and heat; His truths upon the nations rise; they rise but never set.

Let everlasting thanks be Thine for such a bright display as makes a world of darkness shine with beams of heav’nly day.

My soul rejoices to pursue the steps of Him I love, till glory breaks upon my view in brighter worlds above.

For Today: Deuteronomy 4:2; Matthew 4:4; 24:35; 1 Timothy 3:14, 15; 2 Timothy 3:15–17; 1 Peter 2:2

Determine to enter into a fresh study of God’s Word with the desire that the Holy Spirit will bring some new truth and insight into your daily life. Carry this musical truth with you—[2]


 

The Utmost Verge of Light

 

September 30

 

We are enjoying ourselves exceedingly. The meetings are splendid, and of all sorts, so that everybody can be suited. Last night a man preached whose spiritual power is wonderful, and he just seemed to sway that audience of thousands of people as if it had been one man. He preached on reality, and I felt as if no one could ever again endure any shams in religion of any sort. Then he made every body who wanted to be real through and through hold up their hands, and afterwards kneel down all over the ground and ask God to make us real.

His name is Benjamin Adams, and there is one thing he said years ago which has never left me. It was this that he “always kept his obedience up to the outmost verge of his light.” This is the secret of a true life I am sure.

—To Mary, 1879, Ocean Grove, N.J.[3]


September 30

IF his dark nights are as bright as the world’s days, what shall his days be? If even his starlight is more splendid than the sun, what must his sunlight be? If he can praise the Lord in the fires, how will he extol him before the eternal throne! If evil be good to him now, what will the overflowing goodness of God be to him then? Oh, blessed “afterward!” Who would not be a Christian? Who would not bear the present cross for the crown which cometh afterwards? But herein is work for patience, for the rest is not for to-day, nor the triumph for the present, but “afterward.” Wait, O soul, and let patience have her perfect work.[4]


Morning, September 30

 

“Sing forth the honour of his name, make his praise glorious.”

— Psalm 66:2

 

It is not left to our own option whether we shall praise God or not. Praise is God’s most righteous due, and every Christian, as the recipient of his grace, is bound to praise God from day to day. It is true we have no authoritative rubric for daily praise; we have no commandment prescribing certain hours of song and thanksgiving: but the law written upon the heart teaches us that it is right to praise God; and the unwritten mandate comes to us with as much force as if it had been recorded on the tables of stone, or handed to us from the top of thundering Sinai. Yes, it is the Christian’s duty to praise God. It is not only a pleasurable exercise, but it is the absolute obligation of his life. Think not ye who are always mourning, that ye are guiltless in this respect, or imagine that ye can discharge your duty to your God without songs of praise. You are bound by the bonds of his love to bless his name so long as you live, and his praise should continually be in your mouth, for you are blessed, in order that you may bless him; “this people have I formed for myself, they shall show forth my praise”; and if you do not praise God, you are not bringing forth the fruit which he, as the Divine Husbandman, has a right to expect at your hands. Let not your harp then hang upon the willows, but take it down, and strive, with a grateful heart, to bring forth its loudest music. Arise and chant his praise. With every morning’s dawn, lift up your notes of thanksgiving, and let every setting sun be followed with your song. Girdle the earth with your praises; surround it with an atmosphere of melody, and God himself will hearken from heaven and accept your music.

 

“E’en so I love thee, and will love,

And in thy praise will sing,

Because thou art my loving God,

And my redeeming King.”

 

Evening, September 30

 

“A living dog is better than a dead lion.”

— Ecclesiastes 9:4

 

Life is a precious thing, and in its humblest form it is superior to death. This truth is eminently certain in spiritual things. It is better to be the least in the kingdom of heaven than the greatest out of it. The lowest degree of grace is superior to the noblest development of unregenerate nature. Where the Holy Ghost implants divine life in the soul, there is a precious deposit which none of the refinements of education can equal. The thief on the cross excels Caesar on his throne; Lazarus among the dogs is better than Cicero among the senators; and the most unlettered Christian is in the sight of God superior to Plato. Life is the badge of nobility in the realm of spiritual things, and men without it are only coarser or finer specimens of the same lifeless material, needing to be quickened, for they are dead in trespasses and sins.

 

A living, loving, gospel sermon, however unlearned in matter and uncouth in style, is better than the finest discourse devoid of unction and power. A living dog keeps better watch than a dead lion, and is of more service to his master; and so the poorest spiritual preacher is infinitely to be preferred to the exquisite orator who has no wisdom but that of words, no energy but that of sound. The like holds good of our prayers and other religious exercises; if we are quickened in them by the Holy Spirit, they are acceptable to God through Jesus Christ, though we may think them to be worthless things; while our grand performances in which our hearts were absent, like dead lions, are mere carrion in the sight of the living God. O for living groans, living sighs, living despondencies, rather than lifeless songs and dead calms. Better anything than death. The snarlings of the dog of hell will at least keep us awake, but dead faith and dead profession, what greater curses can a man have? Quicken us, quicken us, O Lord! [5]


September 30th

The commission of the call

Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for His body’s sake. Col. 1:24.

We make calls out of our own spiritual consecration, but when we get right with God He brushes all these aside, and rivets us with a pain that is terrific to one thing we never dreamed of, and for one radiant, flashing moment we see what He is after, and we say—“Here am I, send me.”

This call has nothing to do with personal sanctification, but with being made broken bread and poured-out wine. God can never make us wine if we object to the fingers He uses to crush us with. If God would only use His own fingers, and make me broken bread and poured-out wine in a special way! But when He uses someone whom we dislike, or some set of circumstances to which we said we would never submit, and makes those the crushers, we object. We must never choose the scene of our own martyrdom. If ever we are going to be made into wine, we will have to be crushed; you cannot drink grapes. Grapes become wine only when they have been squeezed.

I wonder what kind of finger and thumb God has been using to squeeze you, and you have been like a marble and escaped? You are not ripe yet, and if God had squeezed you, the wine would have been remarkably bitter. To be a sacramental personality means that the elements of the natural life are presenced by God as they are broken providentially in His service. We have to be adjusted to God before we can be broken bread in His hands. Keep right with God and let Him do what He likes, and you will find that He is producing the kind of bread and wine that will benefit His other children.[6]


September 30

He shall give his angels charge over thee to keep thee in all thy ways

Ps. 91:11

Count no duty too little, no round of life too small, no work too low, if it come in thy way, since God thinks so much of it as to send His angels to guard thee in it.

Mark Guy Pearse[7]


John Bunyan’s Text – Part One

SCRIPTURE
John 6:35-51

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”

So the Jews grumbled about him, because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” They said, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does he now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?” Jesus answered them, “Do not grumble among yourselves. No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. It is written in the Prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me—not that anyone has seen the Father except he who is from God; he has seen the Father. Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”

LESSON

Early in the seventeenth century, a hundred years after the time of Luther, the English Reformation launched the Church of England on its sweet and placid way. After it became quiet, calm, contented, and spiritually dead, there suddenly arose within the church a great movement for more strictness of life and for simplicity of worship. This religious Puritan movement paralleled the political movement which grew into the English Civil War and produced Oliver Cromwell.

Into this atmosphere, John Bunyan was born in November 1628. His father was Thomas Bunyan, a tinker of Elstow near Bedford. In those days, tinkers formed a hereditary caste, low on the social scale of England. John was educated in the village school, where he learned to read and write. He grew up in a strict atmosphere among people to whom religion consisted entirely of, “Thou shalt not…”

When Bunyan was seventeen years old, he enlisted in the Parliamentary army and went through the military campaign of 1645, which defeated the forces of King Charles I. His officers were Puritans. Anyone in the army who swore was fined a shilling; if a man got drunk, he was deprived of two or three weeks’ pay, and was put into the stocks where people could laugh at him. In 1646 Bunyan returned home from the war and about two years later married a poor girl who had, as her total possessions, the clothes that she wore and two books, The Plain Man’s Path to Heaven, and The Practice of Piety. A year or two later Bunyan came into contact with someone who preached Christ to him. Bunyan said, “He did talk pleasantly of the Scripture; wherefore, falling into some love and liking to what he said, I betook me to my Bible and began to take great pleasure in reading, but especially in the historical part thereof. But as for Paul’s epistles, and suchlike parts of Scriptures, I could not away with them.” In other words, they were over his head!

There then followed a long period of tremendous conviction of sin. His head was full of Bible, and his heart was full of misery. The Encyclopedia Britannica article on Bunyan has a tremendous summary of the horror that filled this man’s life during this period.

“In outward things he soon became a strict Pharisee. He was constant in attendance at prayers and sermons. His favorite amusements, were one after another, relinquished, though not without many painful struggles…. To give up dancing on the village green was most difficult, and some months elapsed before he had the fortitude to part with his darling sin. When this last sacrifice had been made, he was, even when tried by the maxims of that austere time, faultless. All Elstow talked of him as an eminently pious youth. But his own mind was more unquiet than ever. Having nothing more to do in the way of visible reformation, yet finding in religion no pleasures to supply the place of the juvenile amusements which he had relinquished, he began to apprehend that he lay under some special malediction; and he was tormented by a succession of fantasies which seemed likely to drive him to suicide or to bedlam.”

Later he began to be plagued by an obsession with the unpardonable sin. He felt a strange haunting curiosity about it, and a strong compulsion to commit it. Day and night, whether at work, at meals, or in bed, he sensed strange demonic forms driving him to say the dreaded words which, he felt, would mean a renunciation of his faith. Finally, exhausted and defeated, he spoke the words, “Let him go if you will.”

Bunyan grew more miserable than he’d been before. He thought he had done what could never be forgiven. Like Esau, he had sold his birth-right. Though strong in body, he trembled and shook for days, so captured was his mind by fear of death and judgment. He was so emotionally distraught that he was unable to digest his food, and he expected to “burst asunder” like Judas, with whom he grimly identified. In one of the most pathetic complaints ever written, Bunyan described his feelings. He felt like a blot upon the face of the universe; he had envied the toads, and the grass by the side of the road, and the crows that cawed in the ploughed land by which he passed. He thought they could never know such misery as that which bowed him down.

STUDY QUESTIONS

What can we learn about grieving our sin from John Bunyan?
Do you think that Bunyan’s obsession with sin was slightly legalistic? Why or why not?
Do you think that Bunyan’s deep concern over sin was cultural or was it merited because of the sober nature of sinfulness? Explain.

Donald Grey Barnhouse


Who is the Greatest in the Kingdom? – Part Two

Theme: Conquered Pride
This week we learn a lesson in humility

SCRIPTURE
Matthew 18:1-4

At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”
He called a little child and had him stand among them. And he said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”

LESSON

What will the citizens of the kingdom be like? “They will be something like children,” Jesus explained, as he called a little child to him and set the child in the center of the group.

Children have characteristics that the people of God are not to copy. Children do not know very much; they lack the ability to focus on any one thing for long periods; they are foolish, easily deceived. We are not to be childlike in those ways. Children have other, positive characteristics too, though Jesus was not thinking of those here either, like open-mindedness or trust. All Jesus was thinking of here was humility, which he makes clear in verse 4: “Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” He was stressing humility because humility is the exact opposite of the disciples’ greedy pride.

D. A. Carson says, “The child is a model, in this context, not of innocence, faith, or purity, but of humility and unconcern for social status. Jesus assumed that people are not naturally like that; they must change to become like little children.”1

The use of a child as an illustration is striking. It is a teaching device typical of what Jesus did so often and so well. But it is the words that are important, more than the illustration, and these words are more than striking. They are shocking, for two reasons.

1. Jesus changed the nature of the question. The disciples had been asking about greatness in the kingdom they believed Jesus would establish and were assuming that greatness in the kingdom was all they had to worry about. They assumed they would be in it. But instead of answering them only on that level, Jesus explained that unless they possessed a nature that was entirely different from what they were betraying by their question they would not even enter the kingdom. Forget about who was going to be most important, Jesus said. What they needed to worry about was being there at all!

It was similar to the way Jesus answered when people asked him why God allowed some apparently innocent people to be killed by Herod’s soldiers or others to be killed when the tower of Siloam fell over on them. Jesus said that they were asking the wrong question, not why these others suffered but why they themselves had not, since they were sinners. The question should have been: “Why am I not in hell at this moment?” (Luke 13:1-5).

Obviously, we have much to learn if we are to learn the ways of God.

2. Jesus insisted on the disciples’ conversion. This is the point D. A. Carson made in the words I quoted earlier. In order to enter the kingdom people must possess the humility of children, but in order to do that they need to be radically changed. People are not humble by nature. We are self-seeking, selfish and driven by pride. What do we need if we are to become humble, trusting what God has done for us in our salvation and not what we can accomplish for ourselves? The answer is: We need to “turn” about or “be converted,” which is God’s work. We need to pray the prayer of Jeremiah 31:18, “Turn me, and I shall be turned, for you are the Lord my God” (my translation). We “must be born again” (John 3 :7).

How do we know if we are converted? The evangelical bishop J. C. Ryle used these words to insist that “the surest mark of [any] true conversion is humility.”2 It is when we humble ourselves in order to trust Jesus alone to save us that we can be sure we are converted.

1 D.A. Carson, God with Us: Themes from Matthew (Ventura, Calif.: Regal Books, 1985), p. 112.
2 John Charles Ryle, Expository Thoughts on the Gospels: Matthew (Cambridge: James Clarke, 1974), p. 220.

STUDY QUESTION

What childlike qualities did Jesus want the disciples to adopt? Why?
How did Jesus turn around the disciples’ question? What question should they have been asking?
What quality indicates a true conversion?

REFLECTION

What qualities do you demonstrate? Do you reflect a conversion?

James Montgomery Boice


September 30

From the Inside Out

Proverbs 15:28

The heart of the righteous studies how to answer.

For many years following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, people would ask one another, “Where were you when Kennedy was killed?” Now another date and event has replaced all others in the modern era as the subject of the “Where were you?” discussions: September 11, 2001. More than any other event in our day, the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, D.C., have redefined life for most people. And many people have come to fear that definition.

The only silver lining in this dark cloud of tragedy is that people are asking questions for which only the Bible has answers: What is our world coming to? Why do people do such things? What can we do to keep terror at bay? The answer that every Christian has discovered and every non-Christian needs to know is this: The world cannot be changed, but people can be. When someone asks you the post-9/11 questions, encourage them with the words of a first-century converted terrorist named Paul: The gospel is the power of God for salvation (Romans 1:16).

The only way the world will be changed is the same way individuals are changed: from the inside out.[8]


September 30

He knows the way that I take; when He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold.

You, Lord God, know my frame. You do not afflict willingly, nor grieve the children of men.

Your solid foundation stands, having this seal: “The Lord knows those who are His,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity.” But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay, some for honor and some for dishonor. Therefore if I cleanse myself from the latter, I will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for You, my Master, prepared for every good work.

You will sit as a refiner and a purifier of silver; and as You will purify the sons of Levi, so purge me as gold and silver, that I may offer to You an offering in righteousness. You will refine me as silver is refined. I will call on Your name, and You will answer me. You will say, “This is one of My people”; and I will say, “The Lord is my God.”

Lord, refine me and purge me of the dross that I may be a vessel of honor for Your kingdom use.

Job 23:10; Psalm 103:14; Lamentations 3:33; 2 Timothy 2:19–21; Malachi 3:3; Zechariah 13:9[9]


September 30

Intro

Welcome to Daily Treasures from the Word of God. Today’s reading is Psalm 119. Our lesson is from Psalm 119:47–48, “I shall delight in Your commandments, Which I love. And I shall lift up my hands to Your commandments, Which I love; And I will meditate on Your statutes.” (NASU)

Lesson

The basic thrust of Psalm 119 is about the passion the author has for God’s word. The words law, statues, commandments are used interchangeably as synonyms. Let’s review three observations made by the writer.

First, the psalmist delights in the commandments of the Lord. To delight in something has to do with enjoying. It may sound trivial but do you enjoy God’s Word? Or is it tedious and burdensome? It should not be fatigued.

The serious study to the Bible should be something all believers should aspire. The Bible helps us to communicate with God and know what God’s plans and thoughts for us are. It assists us in growing in our continual walk with the Lord.

In addition, believers can have guidelines and principles to live out in everyday situations. Relationships with spouses, children and employers are just a few of the ways the Bible can help in shaping our values and how we live. Walking in holiness and righteousness are two more ways that God’s statutes assist us in everyday living. This is why the psalmist delights in God’s commandments.

Next, the psalmist loves the commandments of the Lord. These are some very profound words. The greatest command according to Jesus is to love God with all of our being. The second is similar: to love our neighbor as our self. The Bible is crucial in meeting those requirements.

God’s Word informs us about His character and identity. The true living God has revealed Himself in the Bible. In today’s marketplace of religion there are so many misinterpretations and fallacies regarding the Lord. This is why the Bible is foundational and crucial to a godly life.

Third, the psalmist meditates on the commandments of the Lord. This relates to interaction and reflection on God’s Word. There is a great need for believers to set time aside in today’s fast paced lifestyle to listen to God and His counsel. There are no quick and instantaneous fixes with the Lord. We should not try to rush the study and meditation of the Lord. There are moments where one verse or even a word can bring life and resolve to our situation.

In conclusion, the psalmist delights in the commandments of the Lord. The psalmist loves the commandments of the Lord. And the psalmist meditates on the commandments of the Lord.

Today’s psalm is the longest in the Psalter. Take time to imitate our verse. Read the entire psalm and as you do this, delight, love and meditate on God’s commandments.

End

It has been a pleasure to share with you Daily Treasures from the Word of God. Tomorrow’s Bible reading is Psalms 120 through 124. 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.[10]


September 30: Key Players and Main Narratives

Malachi 2:10–4:6; Acts 28:1–31; Job 31:23–40

The book of Acts ends on a somewhat unsatisfying note. After all that Paul has been through—imprisonment, trial, shipwreck—we expect a showdown with Caesar or mass conversions of the Jews. Instead, the plot seems to sputter out.

Paul arrives in Rome and appeals to the Jews living there. He quotes Isaiah to the Jewish leaders: “You will keep on hearing, and will never understand, and you will keep on seeing and will never perceive” (Acts 28:26). When they fail to respond, Paul determines to reach out to the Gentiles. “They also will listen” (Acts 28:28) and will respond differently.

The poignant end of this book leaves Paul “proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching the things concerning the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness, without hindrance” (Acts 28:30). Facing either rejection or reception, he continues proclaiming the good news to both Jew and Gentile.

Paul is a key player in the Church that is being gathered by Jesus Christ, but the drama cannot end with Paul. Jesus is the main character in the story of humanity’s redemption. The book of Acts leaves the ending open so that we can pick it up and carry it forward. The work of Jesus, through His Church, continues to the present day, and Jesus is using both you and me in His grand narrative.

How do you see your life as a story that honors God as the key player?

Rebecca Van Noord[11]


September 30

The Trials of Life

Scripture reading: 1 Peter 1:13–16

Key verse: 1 Peter 1:16

Because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.”

You are handling the trials of life victoriously when you …

Remove any hindrances to your spiritual walk with the Lord. Sin causes a separation in your fellowship with the Lord. Wrong attitudes and thinking get you spiritually off track. Ask the Lord to set a guard around your mind so the focus of your life will be centered only on Him.

Resolve to remain balanced in your judgment. In times of trouble, doing this can be especially difficult. When an emergency arises, you want to spring to action. If possible, remain steady and watchful, listening for God’s directive voice. He is aware of your need.

Refuse to take the easy, quick way out of a situation. Instead, be committed to His plan. If He has placed you in a certain job or relationship, be willing to remain until He leads you elsewhere.

Recognize that your only true hope is in Christ. God has a purpose for the trials you face. His main desire is for you to seek His encouragement above that of friends and family. One reason He allows you to experience difficulty is so that you can develop a dependency on Him.

Resist the temptation to return to your former lifestyle. When you step back to where you were before you were saved, you compromise your relationship with Jesus Christ. God loves you, but He will not tolerate sin.

Lord, remove any hindrances in my spiritual walk. Help me to remain balanced, to refuse to take the easy way out of situations, and not to return to my former lifestyle.[12]


September 30

Magnificent Grace

Scripture Reading: Luke 15:17–24

Key Verses: Romans 6:1–2

What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?

Family-oriented movies often end by showing a reunion of loved ones. We see family members with arms around each other in an expression of love and support. Through the parable of the prodigal son, Jesus gave us this same picture of our heavenly Father’s attitude toward us (Luke 15:20–24). There, Jesus revealed the magnificence of grace. We see that the one sinned against runs out to eagerly welcome back the one who sinned. The one who was wronged takes the initiative, because of love, to restore the broken relationship; the one mistreated shows compassion to the one at fault.

And there is even more. The prodigal did not know his full rights as a son would be restored. As believers, however, we know in advance what awaits us when we humbly return. Because of grace, we can count on acceptance no matter how long we have been absent from the Father or how far we have wandered. Grace guarantees that the Lord will greet us with compassion and forgiveness and lovingly restore us to full rights as His children.

It is not our performance—not good deeds or even the correct apology—that matters; it is our position in Christ. When God sees that we belong to His Son, He forgives us. The parable of the prodigal points us to the truth that, because of Jesus Christ, we are forgiven even before we return. While this does not give us license to sin (Romans 6:1–2), it does give us reason to celebrate. Our Father waits to welcome us home.

You wait to welcome me home, Father. I am assured of Your magnificent grace. Thank You![13]


September 30

The Risk of Obeying God

Scripture Reading: Luke 5:1–11

Key Verse: Luke 5:4

When He had stopped speaking, He said to Simon, “Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.”

Once Jesus finished speaking to the crowd from the bow of Peter’s boat, He turned to the brawny fisherman and said, “Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for the catch of a lifetime.”

The idea seemed intriguing to Peter, but was it plausible? He was a leader, a man others turned to for wisdom concerning the sea. Jesus’ request appeared preposterous, if not crazy. No one fished in the Sea of Galilee during the daytime. Fishing was done at night and in shallow water.

Yet Peter obediently responded, “Master … at Your bidding I will let down the nets” (Luke 5:5 nasb). Disregarding the questionable looks of his peers, Peter raised the ship’s sails and headed out into deep water. The result of his obedience was a great abundance of fish, so many that the nets began to break and the boat began to sink.

What has God placed His finger on in your life that requires you to launch out into the deep? Is it a new job, a relationship that needs healing, an unmet goal?

Peter wasn’t alone in the boat, and neither are you. Jesus sailed out there with him. So raise the sails of your life, put out into the deep, and prepare for a huge catch!

Dear heavenly Father, I know there are risks, but I am ready. I am willing to leave my comfort zone. I am raising the sails of my life, launching out into the deep, and preparing for a huge catch.[14]


September 30

Unity of the Spirit

Scripture reading: Ephesians 4:1–16

Key verse: Ephesians 4:15

But, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ.

The structure and function of the human body are complex and endlessly fascinating. Even with all of the advances in modern biotechnology, scientists and doctors do not know everything about it. What they do understand, however, is that all of the body’s organs and fluids work together in an intricate harmony.

When something goes wrong with one part, the entire body is affected in some way. All processes must be in good working order for the body to be healthy and growing. That is the way the body of Christ functions as well. We all work together and operate as one organic unit when we recognize our connectedness with Jesus as the Head.

Ephesians 4:15–16 explains this relationship: “But, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ—from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.”

If one part of the body is diseased or hurting, the entire body suffers. Trying to ignore the problems of one person is as futile and ultimately harmful as ignoring cancer and hoping it will just go away. Jesus wants us to come to Him to resolve difficulties and restore wounded members.

Dear heavenly Father, join me in vital union to Your spiritual body. Connect me by the Spirit to Your church.[15]


September 30

Strength and Wholeness

You were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold … but with the precious blood of Christ.

1 Peter 1:18–19

jesus forgives you. He never holds a grudge or puts up a barrier to forgiving all your sins. He completely erases your sinful past—He alone has the full capacity to forgive and forget.…

Jesus never condemns you for your failures. To the contrary, when you fail, He picks you up, dusts you off, and helps you to move forward in your life. He teaches you important lessons from your mistakes so you can experience strength and wholeness.[16]


 

September 30         Freedom That Will Endure

scripture reading:

 

Romans 6

 

key verse:

 

Romans 6:7

 

He who has died has been freed from sin.

Tens of thousands of East Germans have found freedom in Western Europe as communism’s grip has loosened. Although they have rightfully celebrated their new status in the West, the East Germans still must face the same slavish masters of money, passion, and fear that we all must confront.

The truth of God alone sets you free (Eph. 2:13–16). Only God can penetrate the invisible boundaries of your spirit and soul and thereby rescue you from sin’s rule.

As you relinquish your area of bondage to God, remember that the freedom you find in the Lord Jesus Christ will endure. It will stand fast.

The benefits of freedom in Christ may not be visible for a time. Anger may still flare; fear may still lurk in your mind; passion may still burn. But as you trust the Spirit of God to work in your life, results will come. The battle is yours to endure, yet the Holy Spirit will bring the victory. He is at work in your innermost being, even when you think all is lost. He will triumph as you trust in His strong arms.

Begin now to operate on the basis of God’s truth as revealed in the Scriptures and as you are empowered by the Holy Spirit. The truth can set you free forever.

Your truth brings liberty. O Lord, let it penetrate the invisible boundaries of my spirit and soul and free me from sin’s rule.[17]


 

September 30

 

Principles for Spiritual Victory

 

“Finally, be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of His might” (Eph. 6:10).

✧✧✧

You can be victorious!

This month we’ve learned many things about spiritual warfare that I pray will better equip you for victory in your Christian life. In concluding our brief study of Ephesians 6:10–18, here are some key principles I want you to remember: ✧ Remember that Satan is a defeated foe. Jesus came to destroy the Devil’s works (1 John 3:8) and will someday cast him into eternal Hell (Rev. 20:10). ✧ Remember the power of Christ in your life. John said, “Greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4). The same power that defeated Satan indwells you. Consequently, you are never alone or without divine resources. ✧ Remember to resist Satan. You have the power to resist him; so don’t acquiesce to him by being ignorant of his schemes or by deliberately exposing yourself to temptation. ✧ Keep your spiritual armor on at all times. It’s foolish to enter combat without proper protection. ✧ Let Christ control your attitudes and actions. The spiritual battle we’re in calls for spiritual weapons (2 Cor. 10:3–4); so take “every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (v. 5). Feed on the Word, and obey its principles. ✧ Pray, pray, pray! Prayer unleashes the Spirit’s power. Be a person of fervent and faithful prayer (cf. James 5:16).

God never intended for you to live in spiritual defeat. I pray you’ll take advantage of the resources He has supplied, so your life will honor Him. Enjoy sweet victory every day!

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer: Thank God for His promise of ultimate victory in Christ.

For Further Study: Read Ephesians 6:10–18. ✧ Review each piece of armor. ✧ Is any piece missing from your personal defense system? If so, determine what you will do to correct the deficiency.[18]


 

September 30

 

Using Spiritual Gifts

 

“Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things freely given to us by God.”

1 Corinthians 2:12

✧✧✧

To be effective, spiritual gifts must be used in the power of the Holy Spirit, not in the power of the flesh.

One of the constant battles all believers face is to avoid ministering their spiritual gifts in the power of the flesh. Even those of us who are called to be preachers (prophets) need to subject our spirits to other mature believers (1 Cor. 14:32). As a pastor, I am not spiritual just because I stand behind a pulpit and preach. Paul instructs us, “Let two or three prophets speak, and let others pass judgment” (1 Cor. 14:29). Those who teach God’s Word are not infallible; therefore, they must allow other qualified believers to verify the truth of what they proclaim.

Whenever Christians rely on their own strength, wisdom, and desire to minister, whatever they accomplish is a mockery and a waste. But whenever they minister by the Spirit’s power, the result is pleasing to God and has lasting value (“gold, silver, precious stones…. If any man’s work which he has built upon it remains, he shall receive a reward,” 1 Cor. 3:12, 14). Essentially, all a believer needs to pray is, “Spirit of God, use me,” and divine energy will activate and flow through his or her ministry to fellow believers and unbelievers.

You can use your spiritual gift effectively by faithfully following three basic steps: Pray—continually confess and turn from your sins (1 John 1:9) and ask God to use you in the Holy Spirit’s power. Yield yourself—always determine to live according to God’s will, not the world’s (Rom. 6:16; 12:1–2). Be filled with the Spirit—let the Spirit control all of your thoughts, decisions, words, and actions. Commit everything to Him, and He will minister through you.

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer: Confess any and all times lately that you have counted on your human ability rather than on the Spirit’s power to minister to others. ✧ Pray that this week God would give you a clear opportunity to exercise your spiritual gift for His glory.

For Further Study: Read 1 Samuel 15:1–23. In what way did King Saul use his own insight rather than follow God’s command? ✧ What can be the consequence of such disobedience (vv. 22–23; see also 1 Sam. 13:8–14)?[19]


September 30

Who Is Your Neighbor?

“You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

Romans 13:9

 

When Paul says we are to love our neighbors as ourselves, he means that we should have the same care and concern for others that we have for ourselves. Paul said the same thing in this way: “Let each of you look not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others” (Phil. 2:4). You should be just as concerned about the comfort, happiness, peace, and joy of others as you are about your own.

Whose face do you wash in the morning? Whose hair do you comb? Whose wardrobe do you buy? Whose comforts are you concerned about? You are concerned about your self–preservation and self–comfort and should be concerned about others in the same way. Pay as much attention to them as you do yourself. That’s loving your neighbor as yourself.

Who is your neighbor? Anyone who comes across your path. Although it is hard to love everyone, you have a new capacity within you to do that (Rom. 5:5).[20]

 


September 30 – Belief Contrasted with Unbelief

“‘He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God’” (John 3:18–21).

Although God graciously has offered the world salvation through the work of Christ, that salvation is not appropriated except by penitent faith. The lost are condemned because they have “not believed in [literally, “believed into”] the name of the only begotten Son of God.” While the final sentencing of those who reject Christ is still future (cf. 5:28–29), their judgment will merely consummate what has already begun.

Jesus described judgment by contrasting light and darkness. Christ is the Light—He came into the world and “enlightens every man” (John 1:9). But people refuse to come to the Light because they love the darkness where their evil deeds will not be exposed. The Light reveals their sin. But as a result, they seal their own condemnation because they reject the only One who can save them from their spiritual darkness.

In contrast, believers hate their sin and love righteousness (1 John 2:3–6), so they willingly come to the light because they have nothing to hide and no reason to fear what the light will reveal.

Ask Yourself

How many times a day do you participate in activities you hope no one else knows about? Aspire to the freedom of being the same person in private that you are in public—unashamed at and unexposed by the Light.

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.


Reading for Today:

Isaiah 51:1–52:15
Psalm 112:5-10
Proverbs 26:16
Ephesians 2:1-22
Notes:

Isaiah 51:6 heavens will vanish…earth will grow old. This begins to take place in the time of tribulation (Rev. 6:12–14; 8:12, 13; 16:8–10, 21), setting the stage, along with the earthly judgments on land, sea, and fresh water (Rev. 6:14; 8:6–11; 16:3–5), for a renewed earth during the Millennium. The actual “uncreation” or destruction of the present universe, of which Peter wrote (2 Pet. 3:10–13), occurs at the end of Christ’s millennial reign on the earth, when a new heaven and a new earth will replace the present creation (2 Pet. 3:10; Rev. 21:1).

Isaiah 52:14 His visage was marred. The Servant must undergo inhuman cruelty to the point that He no longer looks like a human being. His appearance is so awful that people look at Him in astonishment (53:2, 3; Ps. 22:6; Matt. 26:67; 27:30; John 19:3).

Isaiah 52:15 sprinkle many nations. In His disfigured state, the Servant will perform a priestly work of cleansing not just Israel but many outside the nation (Ex. 29:21; Lev. 4:6; 8:11; 14:7; Num. 8:7; 19:18, 19; Heb. 9:13). shut their mouths. At His exaltation, human leaders in the highest places will be speechless and in awe before the once-despised Servant (Ps. 2). When He takes His throne, they will see the unfolding of power and glory such as they have never heard. Paul applied the principle in this verse to his apostolic mission of preaching the gospel of Christ where Christ was yet unknown (Rom. 15:21).

Ephesians 2:1 dead in trespasses and sins. A sobering reminder of the total sinfulness and lostness from which believers have been redeemed. “In” indicates the realm or sphere in which unregenerate sinners exist. They are not dead because of sinful acts that have been committed but because of their sinful nature (Matt. 12:35; 15:18, 19).

Ephesians 2:21 a holy temple in the Lord. Every new believer is a new stone in Christ’s temple, the church, Christ’s body of believers (1 Pet. 2:5). Christ’s building of His church will not be complete until every person who will believe in Him has done so (2 Pet. 3:9).

DAY 30: How were Gentiles brought into the family of God?

Historically, the Gentiles (the “uncircumcision”) experienced two types of alienation. The first was social, resulting from the animosity that had existed between Jews and Gentiles for thousands of years. Jews considered Gentiles to be outcasts, objects of derision and reproach. The second and more significant type of alienation was spiritual, because Gentiles as a people were cut off from God in 5 different ways (Eph. 2:11, 12): 1) they were “without Christ,” the Messiah, having no Savior and Deliverer and without divine purpose or destiny. 2) They were “aliens from the commonwealth of Israel.” God’s chosen people, the Jews, were a nation whose supreme King and Lord was God Himself, and from whose unique blessing and protection they benefitted. 3) Gentiles were “strangers from the covenants of promise,” not able to partake of God’s divine covenants in which He promised to give His people a land, a priesthood, a people, a nation, a kingdom, and a King—and to those who believe in Him, eternal life and heaven. 4) They had “no hope” because they had been given no divine promise. 5) They were “without God in the world.” While Gentiles had many gods, they did not recognize the true God because they did not want Him.

“But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ”(v.13). “Far off” was a common term in rabbinical writings used to describe Gentiles, those who were apart from the true God (Is. 57:19; Acts 2:39). Every person who trusts in Christ alone for salvation, Jew or Gentile, is brought into spiritual union and intimacy with God. This is the reconciliation of 2 Corinthians 5:18–21.The atoning work accomplished by Christ’s death on the cross washes away the penalty of sin and ultimately even its presence. “He Himself” (v. 14). Through His death, Christ abolished Old Testament ceremonial laws, feasts, and sacrifices which uniquely separated Jews from Gentiles. God’s moral law (as summarized in the Ten Commandments and written on the hearts of all men, Rom. 2:15) was not abolished but subsumed in the New Covenant, however, because it reflects His own holy nature (Matt. 5:17–19.)

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.


 

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

[2] Osbeck, K. W. (1996). Amazing grace: 366 inspiring hymn stories for daily devotions (p. 293). Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications.

[3] 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.

[4] Spurgeon, C. H. (1892). Daily Help (p. 277). Baltimore: R. H. Woodward & Company.

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

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

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

[8] Jeremiah, D. (2002). Sanctuary: finding moments of refuge in the presence of God (p. 285). Nashville, TN: Integrity Publishers.

[9] Jeremiah, D. (2007). Life-Changing Moments With God (p. 293). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

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

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

[12] Stanley, C. F. (2002). Seeking His face (p. 285). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[13] Stanley, C. F. (2006). Pathways to his presence (p. 285). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[14] Stanley, C. F. (1999). On holy ground (p. 285). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[15] Stanley, C. F. (2000). Into His presence (p. 285). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[16] Stanley, C. F. (2004). God’s way day by day (p. 291). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

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

[18] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 286). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

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

[20] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 295). Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman.

Originally posted on Wretched with Todd Friel:

Episode 1456

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Originally posted on Joel C. Rosenberg's Blog:

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu addressed the UN General Assembly on Monday on the threat of "militant Islam" to his country and the world.

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu addressed the UN General Assembly on Monday on the threat of “militant Islam” to his country and the world.

UPDATED: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed the opening Fall session of the United Nations General Assembly on Monday by noting that “militant Islam is on the march” and warning the leaders of the world that “to defeat ISIS and leave Iran as a threshold nuclear power would be to win the battle and lose the war.”

The Israeli premier cast the recent war with Hamas as part of the broader Radical Islamic jihad that is sweeping across the region from Gaza to Syria to Iran. But he stated that the greatest threat to his country and the world was a nuclear armed Iranian regime, or one that could rapidly produce nuclear warheads.

Netanyahu said he sees a new alignment of interests between Israel and moderate Arab nations in the region, and suggested such a…

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Arrogant worship is an oxymoron, a contradiction in terms. —R.C. Sproul

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Sep. 29, 2014

BLOOMBERG

President Obama said U.S. airstrikes in Iraq are an example of the country leading a coalition to aid an ally, not a direct confrontation with Islamic State militants. “This is not America against ISIL,” Obama, using the administration’s shorthand for Islamic State, said.

Over 190 U.S. strikes in Iraq have contributed to militants abandoning some territory they have seized since June, according to figures released by the Pentagon. Yet Iraq’s government is struggling to win over enough Sunni tribal leaders to support the air campaign and deliver the militants a major defeat.

A new study from Bloomberg Government threatens to bring the Affordable Care Act back to center stage — and in a way that will likely hurt the electoral chances of incumbent Democrats, all of whom voted for the law. To date, the report concludes that the health-care law has cost taxpayers $73 billion. And that number doesn’t include projected spending on the law’s Medicaid expansion, which if included would bring costs to more than $90 billion.

Representative Michele Bachmann said the U.S. needs a more “forceful” strategy to combat Islamic State including deploying military troops.

Consumer spending in the U.S. rebounded in August as further job gains encouraged households to loosen their purse strings.

While Mario Draghi, the European Central Bank president, says the exchange rate isn’t a policy target, officials aren’t secretive about their approval of the currency’s almost 10 percent slide.

The Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen and her colleagues signaled this month they would be willing to push unemployment below its so-called natural rate — a feat Greenspan as chairman managed in the late 1990s without fanning much inflation. Yellen showed less desire to pursue her predecessor’s “measured” approach to raising interest rates in the mid-2000s, suggesting his strategy may have fostered complacency that made a small contribution to the financial crisis.

Speculators increased wagers on higher U.S. gasoline prices by the most since February as refinery closures constricted supply.

Contracts to purchase previously owned homes declined 1 percent in August after a 3.2 percent increase in July as tighter credit and limited wage growth weigh on potential buyers.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which attracted investors such as hedge-fund manager Bill Ackman even as the mortgage giants hand over their profits to taxpayers, are tumbling again.

AP Top Stories

North Korea’s authoritarian leader makes no public appearances for three weeks, skipping a high-profile event he usually attends. An official documentary shows him limping and overweight and mentions his “discomfort.” What follows is a smorgasbord of media speculation about what’s eating Kim Jong Un.

The shaky truce between pro-Russian rebels and the Ukrainian military was challenged when 12 soldiers and civilians were reported killed in a surge of fighting across the separatist east.

Bureaucrats in Ferguson, Missouri, responding to requests under the state’s Sunshine Act to turn over government files about the fatal shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown, are charging nearly 10 times the cost of some of their own employees’ salaries before they will agree to release any records. The move discourages journalists and civil rights groups from investigating the shooting and its aftermath.

Five babies have tested positive for tuberculosis infection in El Paso after being at a hospital where hundreds of newborns may have been exposed to TB by a diseased worker at the facility.

Rutgers University’s John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development published its latest findings on the consequences of long-term unemployment, which provides a dreary picture of a highly troubled and disaffected slice of U.S. society “devastated” by the Great Recession.

Walking may never become as trendy as CrossFit, as sexy as mud runs or as ego-boosting as Ironman races but for fitness experts who stress daily movement over workouts and an active lifestyle over weekends of warrior games, walking is a super star.

Solar energy could be the top source of electricity by 2050, aided by plummeting costs of the equipment to generate it, a report from the International Energy Agency (IEA), the West’s energy watchdog, said.

BBC

Tens of thousands of pro-democracy protesters blocked Hong Kong’s streets, shutting down its business hub and ignoring appeals to leave.

California became the first US state to require students to have active consent before all sexual activity, as it seeks to tackle rape on campus.

The trial of a Canadian man accused of killing his lover and sending parts of his body in the post to political figures has begun in Montreal.

A search is under way for dozens of Mexican students after they clashed with police at a protest in the southern town of Iguala.

Serbia’s first Gay Pride march for four years has been held in the capital Belgrade, amid huge security, including Special Forces and armored vehicles.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has accused Israel of carrying out a “war of genocide” in Gaza in his speech at the UN General Assembly.

WND

Russia’s state-run OAO Rosneft said a well drilled in the Kara Sea region of the Arctic Ocean with Exxon Mobil Corp. struck oil, showing the region has the potential to become one of the world’s most important crude-producing areas.

Tim Berners-Lee, a computer scientist who invented the web 25 years ago, warned the freedom of the internet is under threat by governments and corporations interested in controlling the web.

Health officials are investigating nine cases of muscle weakness or paralysis in Colorado children and whether the culprit might be a virus causing severe respiratory illness across the country.


A Bearish Message from Small- and Mid-Caps?

Chris Kimble

The Russell 2000 & Mid-Cap 400 indexes happened to bottom together in the fall of 2008, ahead of the S&P 500, sending a bullish signal to the broad markets.

Turning the page forward, they both started started reflecting weakness earlier this year after they both hit respective Fibonacci 161% extension levels. Both have been diverging against the S&P 500 for the past few months.

Read more


Smoking Gun Evidence That The New York Fed Serves The Interests Of Goldman Sachs

For years, many people have suspected that the New York Fed is more or less controlled by the “too big to fail” banks. Well, now we have smoking gun evidence that this is indeed the case. A very brave lawyer named Carmen Segarra made a series of audio recordings while she was working for the New York Fed. The 46 hours of meetings and conversations that she recorded are being called “the Ray Rice video for the financial sector” because of the explosive content that they contain. What these recordings reveal are regulators that are deeply afraid to do anything that may harm or embarrass Goldman Sachs. And it is quite understandable why Segarra’s colleagues at the New York Fed would feel this way. As a recent Bloomberg article explained, it has become “common practice” for regulators to leave “their government jobs for much higher paying jobs at the very banks they were once meant to regulate.” If you think that there is going to be a cushy, high paying banking job for you at the end of the rainbow, you are unlikely to do anything that will mess that up. (Read More.…)


 

Daily Digest for Monday

September 29, 2014

“I hope it is practicable, by improving the mind and morals of society, to lessen the disposition to war; but of its abolition I despair.” –Thomas Jefferson, Letter to Noah Worcester, 1817

Obama Throws Intelligence Under the Bus

The U.S. intelligence community is now sporting the tread marks of the Obama-Mobile after the commander in chief said they “underestimated” the rise of the Islamic State. In a CBS “60 Minutes” interview, Barack Obama said it’s “absolutely true” that U.S. intelligence “underestimated what had been taking place in Syria.” He admitted al-Qaida in Iraq “went back underground” until chaos gave them a chance to “reconstitute themselves” — and we missed it. This blame game is yet another pathetic political dodge by the president. He is the one who repeated the 2012 campaign fairytale that al-Qaida was “decimated,” despite the large intelligence haul from the bin Laden raid indicating otherwise. He is the one essentially seeking a mulligan on his failed policy of fleeing Iraq. Yet the pathological narcissist in the Oval Office is telling us it’s really the fault of U.S. intelligence. The buck stops, er, over there. More…

Obama and Congress May Be in Agreement Over ISIL War

The logjam in Congress could soon break over the war against ISIL. While Barack Obama has authorized airstrikes over Iraq and Syria based on the 2002 Authorization to Use Military Force that allowed George W. Bush to enter Iraq, his administration is still saying it wants to repeal that authorization. As for Congress, both Democrats and Republicans would like to take up the issue. House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) told ABC News, “The president typically in a situation like this would call for an authorization vote and go sell that to the American people and send a resolution to [Capitol] Hill. The president has not done that. He believes he has authority under existing resolutions to do what he’s done.” Boehner continued, “I think he does have the authority. But the point I’m making is this is a proposal that the Congress ought to consider.” But Obama has “gone rogue” with his recent actions, according to David Harsanyi, because going it alone is expedient but cowardly. Let’s see if he respects the Constitution and the deliberative process of Congress this time when the political wind shifts in that direction. More…

Beheading Suspect Converted to Islam

The FBI is investigating a beheading in Oklahoma because the suspect was allegedly trying to convert fellow workers to Islam. “The alleged suspect, Alton Nolen, 30, was recently fired from Vaughan Foods in Moore prior to Thursday’s attack,” Fox News reports. “Moore Police Sgt. Jeremy Lewis told KFOR that Nolen drove to the front of the business and struck a vehicle before walking inside. He then attacked Colleen Hufford, 54, stabbing her several times before severing her head. He also stabbed another woman at the plant, 43-year-old Traci Johnson. Lewis said Mark Vaughan, the company’s chief operating officer and a reserve county deputy, shot Nolen as he was stabbing Johnson, who remains hospitalized in stable condition [as of] Friday.” Fortunately, there was a good guy with a gun to stop this “workplace violence.” The message of Islam, meanwhile, is convert to the Religion of Peace™ … or else. More…

Ferguson Police Officer Shot, No Riots

The police department in Ferguson, Missouri, appears to be trying new tactics to be a more community-based and accountable police department, but so far it’s not working. On Saturday, a police officer exchanged gunfire with a suspect, or two, in an incident that left the officer wounded in the arm. Ferguson police say the incident is unrelated to the protests and riots that happened ever since the department killed Michael Brown. But the department also said the officer discovered two men burglarizing a business initially, and later revised the story to say the officer discovered two men behind the community center. The details are few, because the officer’s body camera was turned off, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. One thing is sure — there have been no riots over this shooting. More…

Obama on Same-Sex Marriage: Holder ‘Opened the Door’

We noted that Attorney General Eric Holder supported the introduction of same-sex marriage into states by judicial fiat. He also refused to defend the Defense of Marriage Act. Indeed, Barack Obama hailed Holder’s activism, saying, “[H]e recommended that our government stop defending the Defense of Marriage Act — a decision that was vindicated by the Supreme Court, and opened the door to federal recognition of same-sex marriage, and federal benefits for same-sex couples. It’s a pretty good track record.” Blithely ignoring Rule of Law is hardly a “good track record.” By that logic, being held in contempt of Congress is simply par for the course. Standing alongside Obama, Holder chimed in with his own remarks. “I’m also grateful for the support [Obama] has given me and the department as we have made real the visions that you and I have always shared,” Holder brazenly declared. “I often think of those early talks between us, about our belief that we might help to craft a more perfect union.” The self-proclaimed racial-justice activist’s tenure, as he illustrated, was never about upholding the Constitution, but reshaping America through his own “visions.” More…

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Where ObamaCare Isn’t Working

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Next March will be the five-year anniversary of the Affordable Care Act, better known as ObamaCare. Despite the fact it was sold as a way to make sure the 30 to 50 million uninsured in this country could get health insurance at affordable prices, the law has never been popular with Americans. You may recall we were promised more health care for more people at lower rates thanks to increased competition. Of course, the most famous of what turned out to be many BIG Lies about the law was this: “If you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan.” Over the last couple years as the law was implemented, millions have found that’s not the case.

Just in time for the ramp-up to both the midterm election and the next open enrollment period, commentator Ezra Klein decided it was time to convince Americans that this bitter pill of ObamaCare is really good for them. Klein attempts to make the case that ObamaCare really isn’t as bad a disaster as those in conservative media portray because now “[t]hey know that premiums are lower than projected and insurers are joining the exchanges.” He adds, “So the argument has developed a good-news-is-bad-news quality.”

If you look at the argument in those limited terms, perhaps Klein is correct. Instead of being a sudden calamity, perhaps we’re witnessing a slow-motion disaster.

As health insurance expert Bob Laszewski writes, “We won’t know what the real Obamacare rates will be until we see the 2017 rates — when there will be plenty of valid claim data and the Obamacare reinsurance program, now propping the rates up, will have ended.” Look for an executive order in the next year or so to extend that reinsurance program for an extra year to remove a potential October surprise for the 2016 Democrat nominee.

This also helps explain why additional insurers are joining the exchanges, as the reinsurance program can cover them in case of loss. The insurance industry is not known for stupidity, nor is it immune to standing in line for taxpayer handouts, and the expansion of Medicaid rolled into ObamaCare simply put Uncle Sam first in a very long line.

In short, Klein’s piece is the Left’s latest attempt to squeeze some lemonade out of the truckload of lemons we received with ObamaCare.

But after all the false starts, accounting tricks, carve-outs for favored groups and industries, and years of toil on a half-finished website, we have only to think back to the system it replaced. While the employer-based health insurance system has numerous flaws and many people could slip through the cracks, it was effective in most cases. Americans still had a significant choice of providers and plans depending on how much they wished to pay, while those who chose to forgo coverage or participate in the market via their own health savings account (HSA) had those options, too. Now we have decreased choice in smaller networks, with higher co-pays and deductibles, and increased restrictions on HSA spending. All this comes with the added bonus of the IRS breathing down your neck if you still wish to opt out of health insurance.

Finally, there’s a philosophical question that Klein doesn’t address but was brought up by ObamaCare architect Ezekiel Emanuel, who hopes to die at the age of 75. Namely, how much value will bureaucrats put on your life?

Because most over 75 are covered under Medicare, which isn’t a sustainable model without taxpayer assistance — witness the annual fight over whether to slash Medicare payments to physicians as a budget fix — bean counters, not doctors and patients, will determine what age constitutes a full life. Perhaps Emanuel will “stop getting any regular preventive tests, screenings, or interventions [and] will accept only palliative — not curative — treatments if [he is] suffering pain or other disability,” but what if those who wish to prolong their life find the treatment will no longer be covered under insurance because the government has to allocate its scarce resources toward those who are younger or healthier? We’ve opened this Pandora’s box with ObamaCare.

And with a president who prescribes painkillers over pacemakers, the answer may not be the one with which Liberty seekers would agree.

Midterm Victory a Function of GOP Unity

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The media are devoting much space to this year’s midterm election, which has had the Republicans on track to win back the majority in the U.S. Senate. A GOP win would move Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) to the minority, as well as clear the way for hundreds of bills currently gathering dust after passing the GOP-led House.

However, if the captains and crew of the conservative, constitutional ship don’t stop their bickering and infighting and start paddling together, the November results will be a shipwreck.

Read the rest here.

Challenging the Public School Status Quo

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There is a two-pronged battle occurring in Jefferson County, Colorado, public schools. And despite every effort by the Leftmedia to highlight one agenda as a means of obscuring the other, a forceful challenge to the miserable status quo that has ruined the nation’s public school system is the most important battle taking place.

Read the rest here.

The Gipper: “Excellence demands competition. Without a race there can be no champion, no records broken, no excellence — in education or in any other walk of life.”

Columnist Peggy Noonan: “If Republicans can’t make, catch and ride a wave in an environment like this, they’ve gone from being the stupid party to the stupid loser party. … Shouldn’t the Republican Party make it clear right now exactly what it is for and what it intends to do? … The cliché is that Republicans are old, white, don’t like women or science, are narrow, numeric and oppose all modern ways. The cliché probably isn’t as powerful as it used to be because the president has made so many new Republicans, but it’s still there. But Republicanism right now has a special duty to be dynamic and serious. It has to paint a world of the possible. It has to make people feel that things can be made better. … When you have a poor brand, do you spend all your time saying the other guy is worse? Or do you start rebuilding your reputation? In politics that means saying what you are for, not what you are against, and what you will do, not what the other guy will do if the voters let him.”

Columnist Burt Prelutsky: “The argument Obama made was that [ISIL] is not Islamic because no religion condones killing innocents.’ The problem is that Islam doesn’t consider Christians or Jews as innocents; it regards them as infidels whose very existence is an affront to Allah, and killing them is therefore nothing less than a religious obligation. … The question that occurs to me … is why our leaders feel compelled to lie about our enemies. … What is it about Islam, which can best be described as a wolf in wolf’s clothing, that has our commanders-in-chief mincing words and pussyfooting around the truth? Just for the record, Voodoo is practiced by about 60 million people worldwide. If it was practiced by a billion, would our presidents feel obliged to speak respectfully of a belief system that involves the sacrificing of goats, sheep and dogs, and the drinking of animal blood?”

Twitter satirist @hale_razor: “A Muslim beheading a co-worker doesn’t represent the peaceful religion, but every idiotic thing Fred Phelps did STANDS FOR ALL CHRISTIANS! … Obama was so upset by a Muslim beheading an Oklahoma woman that he almost spilled champagne on his tux at [Friday's] DNC fundraiser.”

Semper Vigilo, Fortis, Paratus et Fidelis!

Join us in daily prayer for our Patriots in uniform — Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen — standing in harm’s way in defense of Liberty, and for their families.

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Obama to United Nations: ‘The U.S. Is Not at War with Islam; Islam Teaches Peace’ 

(CN) — In his address to the United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday, Barack Obama asserted that the United States is not fighting the religion of Islam in its efforts to stop the insurgency of the group known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), because Islam, he said, is peaceful.

“[W]e have reaffirmed that the United States is not and never will be at war with Islam. Islam teaches peace,” he said to the gathering of world leaders in his sixth address before the UN. “Muslims the world over aspire to live with dignity and a sense of justice. And when it comes to America and Islam, there is no us and them—there is only us, because millions of Muslim Americans are part of the fabric of our country.”

Construction to Begin Next Month on Historic Bible Museum in Washington, D.C.

(CN) — New details have emerged about an enormous Bible museum in Washington, D.C., that will feature thousands of biblical artifacts once it opens in early 2017.Steve Green is the Christian president of the popular American craft chain Hobby Lobby. As previously reported, Green opened a temporary Bible exhibit in Israel last year to showcase a large collection of scriptural fragments and manuscripts.

Nick Jonas Abandons Purity Ring, Claims ‘Relationship with God’ Despite Stripping at ‘Gay’ Club

(CN) — Nick Jonas, one-third of the former boy band The Jonas Brothers and son of a former worship leader and pastor, outlined in an interview this week that he has abandoned his purity ring, but claimed that his relationship with God and love for the Church remains of utmost importance despite his recent appearances in dramatized sex scenes and at “gay” clubs.“This is a real growth in me and that’s not something I’m doing anymore,” he told HuffPost Live’s Caitlyn Becker in response to a question from a fan about his much-publicized ring, which signified his commitment not to have sex before marriage. “But I’ve got my set of values, things that are important to me now at this point in my life, and that’s all that matters.”

Joel Osteen: Moses Saw Sun Stand Still for Joshua, Hebrews Thrown in Fiery Furnace

(CN) — Author and megachurch speaker Joel Osteen raised eyebrows this week when he wrote on his popular Facebook page that Moses was present to see the sun stand still under Joshua’s leadership and that he witnessed the Hebrew boys being thrown into the fiery furnace.“God said in Numbers 11:23, ‘Moses, is there any limit to My power?’ Osteen, leader of the 43,000 member Lakewood Church, posted on Monday, and then proceeded to expound. “He was saying, ‘Moses, you saw Me part the Red Sea, stop the sun for Joshua, keep three Hebrew teenagers safe in a fiery furnace, don’t you realize that I can bring water without rain?’ There’s no limit to God’s power.” Continue reading this story >>

1 in 4 Americans 25-54 Not Working…

Nearly 1 In 4 Americans In Prime Working Years Are Not Employed.previewA new chart from the minority side of the Senate Budget Committee shows a startling fact: Almost 1 in 4 Americans between the ages of 25-54 (or prime working years) are not working.  Here’s a chart showing those in that age group currently employed (95.6 million) and those who aren’t (28.9 million):  “There are 124.5 million Americans in their prime working years (ages 25–54). Nearly one-quarter of this group—28.9 million people, or 23.2 percent of the total—is not currently employed. They either became so discouraged that they left the labor force entirely, or they are in the labor force but unemployed. This group of non-employed individuals is more than 3.5 million larger than before the recession began in 2007,” writes the Republican side of the Senate Budget Committee. “Those attempting to minimize the startling figures about America’s vanishing workforce—workplace participation overall is near a four-decade low—will say an aging population is to blame. But in fact, while the workforce overall has shrunk nearly 10 million since 2009, the cohort of workers in the labor force ages 55 to 64 has actually increased over that same period, with many delaying retirement due to poor economic conditions. More


New documentary explores biblical signs end is near

Joel Richardson’s new documentary film, “End Times Eyewitness,” opens with a series of pointed questions. “What are the signs” to look for among those expecting the second coming of Jesus Christ? “How do the events being played out on the world stage today relate to biblical prophecy?” “How are level-headed, responsible Christians to relate to the biblical prophets and the unfolding of chaos throughout the world?” Richardson, author of the “The Islamic Antichrist” and “The Mideast Beast,” traveled throughout the Middle East interviewing pastors, missionaries and theologians, as well as Islamic and Jewish leaders, searching for answers. After spelling out in Jesus’ own words, in Matthew 24, why it is important for believers to study the prophets and be watchful of the signs of the times, Richardson makes his case that the signs of His coming are all around. From the historic return of the Jewish people to the land of Israel to the rise of radical Islamic, he said, world events are leading up to the grand showdown between good and evil. Read More


World won’t listen to Netanyahu’s UN speech

Sick and tired of hearing about Hamas terror and IDF’s successful operations, Western world is preparing to impose a solution on Israel and Palestinians.

Read more


Obama Sits Down With 60 Minutes, Blames Everyone But Self For Burning World

Last night President Obama sat down for an interview on 60 Minutes where he discussed everything from ISIS to the economy.

Read more


Good news, bad news: Barna shares state of church, family

Pollster George Barna told the Values Voter Summit that the United States is not the same country it was 20 years ago. The three foundations of our past strength – family, church, and government – are all “cracked if not broken.” He said,
•Four percent of adults have a biblical worldview
•The number of couples who choose to cohabitate has doubled since 1990 while marriage has declined from 72 percent in 1960 to 51 percent in 2012
•Only 33 percent of Americans say they follow politics closely
On the positive side, Barna said, “Do not give up hope.” There are still enough Christians in the country to turn the tide if they can be mobilized.

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Netanyahu heads to US to dispel Abbas, Rouhani’s ‘slander and lies’

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was set to leave for New York on Sunday morning to “refute the slander and lies” in Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s “deceptive speech” and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ “inciteful speech” at the UN General Assembly.

Netanyahu will speak at the UN on Monday. Before leaving, the prime minister vowed to “tell the truth of Israel’s citizens to the entire world.”

“In my UN General Assembly speech and in all of my meetings I will represent the citizens of Israel and will – on their behalf – refute the slander and lies directed at our country,” Netanyahu went on to say.

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Vote Biblically: Grassroots Effort

Vote Biblically is a grass roots movement whose goal is to communicate the importance of the Christian Vote in restoring the Biblical Values our forefathers originally built into the U.S. Constitution.

Our present major initiative is to unleash the pent-up power of the Christian Vote to determine the direction of legislation and jurisprudence in this country. We believe that much of what is being acted on, from gay marriage to abortion is the result of the godless politicians being elected at every level of government. We use yard signs and vehicle decals to draw attention to and focus thinking on Voting Biblically, thus electing officials who will act to bring God back into the American way of life.

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A reverend, a rabbi and an imam join faiths for the House of One

The world continues to rush towards a global religion. . .

After officials in the German capital offered his parish a prime site to build a new house of worship, the Rev. Gregor Hohberg had a kumbaya moment. Why not transform a city stained by the Nazi era into a place of spiritual healing by building a church, a mosque and a synagogue all under one roof?

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Are Conservative Christians Being Censored by the Government and Social Media?

Charles McVety, president of Canada Christian College, explained that, in Canada, Christian pastors have been fined or censored for expressing socially conservative views on the air or even attempting to do so.

“I have experienced a lot of censorship and have also been censored by our government for not speaking with a politically correct tone,” he said, emphasizing that the Canadian government monitors and censors sermons broadcast on television.

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Lack of Discipline Against Homosexuality Prompts Mennonite USA Church to Leave Denomination

Lake, Ohio – A Mennonite congregation in Ohio has voted to leave the Mennonite Church USA in part due to concerns over what it believes is a lack of discipline against those who engage in homosexual behavior. “We felt that Mennonite Church USA and [our church] were going in different directions concerning scriptural authority and holiness,” Ross Miller, pastor of Hartville Mennonite Church in Lake, told the Mennonite World Review this week. He said that concerns about various aspects grew over a number of years, but when the Mountain States Conference, a division of the Mennonite Church USA, approved the ministerial license of a Colorado woman who identifies as a lesbian, it expedited matters and resulted in a recent vote to part ways. “We felt there needed to be church discipline, and there hasn’t been,” he said, referencing disappointment that the Ohio Conference failed to pass a resolution urging the denomination headquarters to address the Mountain States’ actions, as well as a statement from an executive board member that he felt was less than satisfactory. Read More


Values Voters Want Ted Cruz, Ben Carson for President in 2016

The Family Research Council, a social conservative Christian advocacy group, announced Saturday that Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, has won the annual Values Voter Summit straw poll for the second consecutive year, while retired neurosurgeon and best-selling author Ben Carson finished first in the polling for vice president.

Cruz earned 25 percent of the vote for president, while Carson finished five percentage points behind him earning 20 percent of the vote. Carson won the poll’s vice presidential voting with 22 percent, 8 percentage points ahead of Cruz. Cruz earned 228 presidential votes, while Carson earned 179.

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Deadly Standard Options

Driving a Lexus might not be a sin, but watching their latest commercial might lead you to sin. I’ll explain, next on BreakPoint. | Download


When Do You Leave a Church?

When to LeaveIt is the conversation with church members every pastor dreads but inevitably comes to every man who has shepherded a local flock: “Pastor, we need to meet with you and discuss our future at the church. We have been praying about transferring our membership to another church.” Naturally, you ask the inevitable question, “Why?” The answers are as varied as the variety found in wayfaring members, ranging from “The church up the street has more to offer my youth/children” to “We just don’t find things exciting here anymore,” or most troubling, “We love you and your preaching, pastor, we we don’t really like this church.”

There are certainly legitimate reasons to leave a church and sadly, it sometimes become necessary or even a duty to find a more biblically faithful body. Sometimes churches become theologically or morally bankrupt, leaving a sound believer no choice. But it seems in our self-intoxicated, consumer-driven evangelical culture, what is often referred to as “church hopping” seems to have reached a virtual epidemic. There are a number of reasons for this reality with biblical illiteracy, a loss of a robust ecclesiology, a distaste for authority, the disappearance of church discipline and the decay of meaningful church membership ranking high among them. Read more


You are not a Rock Star: 4 Guidelines for Worship Leaders

I use “worship leader” in the vernacular sense of the guy who leads the music. Of course, musical worship is only a smidgen of the worship that happens on Sunday. It’s one candle in the worship array of preaching, fellowship, serving, giving, and parking far away so that the elderly can park closer.

But when people talk about liking/hating “the worship” they generally mean “the band.” One congregant who should avoid this is the worship leader.

Here are four guidelines for the leader of a worship band...

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Is Catholicism a true or false religion?

What does it mean to ask if Catholicism is true or false? It is a religion, but is it true? Does it lead to salvation and does it represent Christianity properly? Read more


Does Galatians 5:4 teach that we can lose our salvation?

Galatians 5:4, “You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.”

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The papacy of the Roman Catholic Church

by Ken Silva

With more and more evangelicals seeking full Christian fellowship with Rome, Apprising Ministries shares some vital background concerning this antichrist office of the Roman Catholic Church.

http://apprising.org/2014/09/27/the-papacy-of-the-roman-catholic-church/


Family Members of Late Pastor Chuck Smith Sue Calvary Chapel
Claim Elder Abuse and Wrongful Takeover of His Property

Kong Hee Trial: Finance manager cracks under intense questioning

Former wife of bishop convicted of rapes speaks out

Christian Pastor Accused of Blasphemy Killed in Pakistan Jail


3 Dozen Quotes of Note from Gospel-Centered Counseling: How Christ Changes Lives 

 


The Six Faces of Sloth – Church & Culture Blog

If you’ve been in almost any Christian bookstore or card shop, you’ve probably seen a plaque or bookmark, print or wall-hanging, featuring a story called “Footprints in the Sand.”

It tells of a man who dreamed that he saw his life in terms of a walk along the beach with God. Throughout the years, there were two sets of footprints. One was his, and the other was God’s. Yet he noticed that during the most difficult times of his life, only one set of footprints appeared in the sand. In his dream, he asks God about the single set of footprints and is told that those were the times God carried him.

“Awww.”

Let me give you a new and improved version that a friend once e-mailed me:

One night I had a wondrous dream,
One set of footprints there was seen,
The footprints of my precious Lord,
But mine were not along the shore.

But then some stranger prints appeared,
And I asked the Lord, “What have we here?
Those prints are large and round and neat.
But Lord, they are too big for feet.”

“My child,” he said in somber tones,
“For miles I carried you alone.
I challenged you to walk in faith,
But you refused and made me wait.”

“You disobeyed, you would not grow,
The walk of faith, you would not know.
So I got tired, I got fed up.
And there I dropped you on your butt.”

Because in life, there comes a time,
When one must fight, and one must climb,
When one must rise and take a stand,
Or leave their butt prints in the sand.

For some reason, I don’t think I’ll see that one hanging from a wall, much less printed on a greeting card. But it probably should be, because it speaks to one of the most critical barriers to the transforming work of God in our lives, the sin of sloth. Read more


THANKSGIVING: Thank God for Making you in His Image

2.2.2

2dly, With reference to ourselves in particular.

We must give thanks that he has made us reasonable creatures, capable of knowing, loving, serving, and enjoying him, and that he has not made us like the beasts that perish.

We praise you, for we are fearfully and wonderfully made; and that our souls, our nobler part, know very well; Psalm 139:14(ESV) for no man knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him. 1 Corinthians 2:11(ESV)

You have made us of that rank of beings which is a little lower than the heavenly beings and is crowned with glory and honor; Psalm 8:5(ESV) for it is the spirit in man, the breath of the Almighty, that makes him understand; Job 32:8(ESV) and the spirit of a man is the lamp of the LORD. Proverbs 20:27(ESV)

Our bodies are capable of being the temples of the Holy Spirit, 1 Corinthians 6:19(ESV) and our souls of having the Spirit of God dwell in them; 1 Corinthians 3:16(ESV) we therefore glorify you with our bodies and with our spirits, which are both yours. 1 Corinthians 6:20(KJV)

You, Lord, have formed us for yourself, that we might declare your praise. Isaiah 43:21(ESV)

Matthew Henry’s Method for Prayer

 

The man of lawlessness in 2 Thessalonians 2:1–12 is the Antichrist who will come on the world scene at the beginning of the Day of the Lord. This Day, sometimes called the “end times,” starts after the rapture of the church in 1 Thessalonians 4:13–18 (cf. 1 Thessalonians 5:1–11). It is good to note that the Day of the Lord is not a twenty-four-hour period of time; rather, it is an extended period of time that includes the seven-year tribulation, the return of Christ to put down all rebellion against Him, the 1,000-year reign of Christ on earth, the final defeat of Satan, and the Great White Throne Judgment.

The Antichrist is given the title “man of lawlessness” because he will oppose in every way the biblical God and His law. He will be completely lawless. Daniel 7 speaks of this man as a “boastful” king who will “try to change the set times and the laws” (verses 11 and 25). He will come offering a false peace to the world and will with his charismatic personality, incredible promises, and breathtaking miracles unite all nations politically, economically, and religiously under his leadership. At the same time, he will make a covenant with Israel for three and one-half years (cf. Daniel 9:27, where “seven” indicates seven years). In the middle of the seven years, the man of lawlessness will break his covenant with Israel, stop their sacrifices (Daniel 9:27), and enter the temple to set himself up as “god” and demand worship (2 Thessalonians 2:4). This is the “abomination that causes desolation” that Jesus spoke of in Mark 13:14.

Satan works through the Antichrist, for Satan himself is not able to become incarnate. By possessing and controlling the Antichrist, Satan is worshipped in the temple where the biblical God is to be worshipped. No wonder the Antichrist is called the man of lawlessness. To act as “god” is the ultimate rejection of the biblical God’s character and laws.

This action of the Antichrist will cause an upheaval in his worldwide kingdom, and forces from the East will gather to fight against him. But instead of fighting each other, the forces of the world unite to fight the King of kings and Lord of lords, who comes to put down the man of lawlessness and his allies in the great battle of Armageddon (Revelation 16:16; 19:19). Of course, the man of lawlessness loses that battle. He and his false prophet are then cast into the lake of fire (Revelation 19:20). The Word of God (Revelation 19:13), Jesus Christ, will be the Victor.

A quick observation of the happenings in our world today reveals that lawlessness is on the rise. Such lawlessness will continue and increase (2 Timothy 3:13), and when the man of lawlessness appears on the scene, he will be welcomed with open arms. Those who have rejected the true Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ, will fall for the Antichrist’s empty promise of peace. It is vitally important that each of us is sure that we have accepted Jesus Christ as our personal Savior and are living for Him. “Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come” (Mark 13:33).[1]

 

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

 

The World Mission Society Church of God (WMSCOG) was founded by a man named Ahn Sahng-Hong in South Korea in 1964. He was born in 1918 to Buddhist parents and spent many years with the Seventh-day Adventists. He claimed to have rebuilt the Church of God—the same Church that Jesus established and with the same truths of the Early Church. Ahn Sahng-Hong died in 1985.

The WMSCOG believes in God the Father and God the Mother, who came to earth in the flesh. Ahn Sahng-Hong’s spiritual wife, Zahng Gil-Jah, is known as “the Heavenly Mother.” According the WMSCOG, “God the Mother is the core of our faith and the figure that guides us.… God the Mother stands by and prays for us whenever we face hardships.” The Bible does not teach the existence of a “heavenly mother.” God is consistently referred to as our Father. Revelation 21:2 describes the New Jerusalem as a beautifully adorned bride. But verses 9–10 show that the “wife of the Lamb” and the “New Jerusalem” are synonymous terms. Obviously, the New Jerusalem is a city, not a person. In this case, the city is the church, the redeemed of the Lord living in God’s heavenly city. The Lamb’s “wife,” then, is figurative, not literal.

Another false teaching of the WMSCOG is that God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit are not different Persons but simply different manifestations of one God. This teaching is a heresy called modalism. The Bible presents God as one God, but then speaks of three Persons—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

The World Mission Society Church of God believes that Jehovah is the Father, Jesus is the Son, and Ahn Sahng-Hong is the Holy Spirit. The Bible tells us that the Holy Spirit is a divine Person, a being with a mind, emotions, and a will. The fact that the Holy Spirit is God is clearly seen in many Scriptures, including Acts 5:3–4. For any man to declare he is the Holy Spirit is blasphemy.

The WMSCOG teaches that salvation is in the names of Jehovah, Jesus, and Ahn Sahng-Hong, and that baptism is required for salvation. The Bible declares that salvation is through Jesus Christ alone (Acts 4:12; John 14:6). Salvation is in the name of Jesus Christ. To claim salvation in the name of Ahn Sahng-Hong is blasphemy. Requiring anything in addition to faith in Jesus Christ for salvation is a works-based salvation. To add anything to the gospel is to say that Jesus’ death on the cross was insufficient to purchase our salvation. The Bible says that Jesus’ death alone paid for our sins (Romans 5:8; 2 Corinthians 5:21). Jesus’ righteousness is appropriated to our account by faith alone (John 3:16; Acts 16:31; Ephesians 2:8–9). Therefore, baptism cannot be a requirement for salvation.

The WMSCOG claims that “Christ Ahn Sahng-Hong” came as the Savior in the age of the Holy Spirit and was truly the Second Coming of Christ. This teaching conflicts with what the Bible says about the second coming in Revelation 19:11–16: “He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God.” To claim to be the very Word of God is blasphemy.

Ahn Sahng-Hong was a false prophet. He predicted Christ would return in 1967, then changed the date to 1988. The WMSCOG believed the world would end in 1967, then 1988, and then at the end of 2012. History has proved Ahn Sahng-Hong wrong. It is noteworthy that one of the signs of the end times is the increase in false prophets and false messiahs. Ahn Sahng-Hong clearly falls into the category of false prophet and false messiah.

The beliefs of the World Mission Society Church of God are not compatible with Christianity.[1]

 

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

 

Author: Isaiah 1:1 identifies the author of the Book of Isaiah as the Prophet Isaiah.

Date of Writing: The Book of Isaiah was written between 701 and 681 B.C.

Purpose of Writing: The Prophet Isaiah was primarily called to prophesy to the Kingdom of Judah. Judah was going through times of revival and times of rebellion. Judah was threatened with destruction by Assyria and Egypt, but was spared because of God’s mercy. Isaiah proclaimed a message of repentance from sin and hopeful expectation of God’s deliverance in the future.

Key Verses: Isaiah 6:8, “Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?’ And I said, “Here am I. Send me!” ”

Isaiah 7:14, “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.”

Isaiah 9:6, “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

Isaiah 14:12–13, “How you have fallen from heaven, O morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations! You said in your heart, “I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain.”

Isaiah 53:5–6, “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.”

Isaiah 65:25, “The wolf and the lamb will feed together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox, but dust will be the serpent’s food. They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, says the LORD.”

Brief Summary: The Book of Isaiah reveals God’s judgment and salvation. God is “holy, holy, holy” (Isaiah 6:3), and therefore He cannot allow sin to go unpunished (Isaiah 1:2; 2:11–20; 5:30; 34:1–2; 42:25). Isaiah portrays God’s oncoming judgment as a “consuming fire” (Isaiah 1:31; 30:33).

At the same time, Isaiah understands that God is a God of mercy, grace, and compassion (Isaiah 5:25; 11:16; 14:1–2; 32:2; 40:3; 41:14–16). The nation of Israel (both Judah and Israel) is blind and deaf to God’s commands (Isaiah 6:9–10; 42:7). Judah is compared to a vineyard that should be, and will be, trampled on (Isaiah 5:1–7). Only because of His mercy and His promises to Israel, will God not allow Israel or Judah to be completely destroyed. He will bring restoration, forgiveness, and healing (43:2; 43:16–19; 52:10–12).

More than any other book in the Old Testament, Isaiah focuses on the salvation that will come through the Messiah. The Messiah will one day rule in justice and righteousness (Isaiah 9:7; 32:1). The reign of the Messiah will bring peace and safety to Israel (Isaiah 11:6–9). Through the Messiah, Israel will be a light to all the nations (Isaiah 42:6; 55:4–5). The Messiah’s kingdom on earth (Isaiah chapter 65–66) is the goal towards which all of the Book of Isaiah points. It is during the reign of the Messiah that God’s righteousness will be fully revealed to the world.

In a seeming paradox, the Book of Isaiah also presents the Messiah as one who will suffer. Isaiah chapter 53 vividly describes the Messiah suffering for sin. It is through His wounds that healing is achieved. It is through His suffering that our iniquities are taken away. This apparent contradiction is solved in the Person of Jesus Christ. In His first advent, Jesus was the suffering servant of Isaiah chapter 53. In His second advent, Jesus will be the conquering and ruling King, the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6).

Foreshadowings: As stated above, chapter 53 of Isaiah describes the coming Messiah and the suffering He would endure in order to pay for our sins. In His sovereignty, God orchestrated every detail of the crucifixion to fulfill every prophecy of this chapter, as well as all other messianic prophecies of the Old Testament. The imagery of chapter 53 is poignant and prophetic and contains a complete picture of the Gospel. Jesus was despised and rejected (v. 3; Luke 13:34; John 1:10–11), stricken by God (v.4; Matthew 27:46), and pierced for our transgressions (v. 5; John 19:34; 1 Peter 2:24). By His suffering, He paid the punishment we deserved and became for us the ultimate and perfect sacrifice (v. 5; Hebrews 10:10). Although He was sinless, God laid on Him our sin, and we became God’s righteousness in Him (2 Corinthians 5:21).

Practical Application: The Book of Isaiah presents our Savior to us in undeniable detail. He is the only way to heaven, the only means of obtaining the grace of God, the only Way, the only Truth, and the only Life (John 14:6; Acts 4:12). Knowing the price Christ paid for us, how can we neglect or reject “so great a salvation”? (Hebrews 2:3). We have only a few, short years on earth to come to Christ and embrace the salvation only He offers. There is no second chance after death, and eternity in hell is a very long time.

Do you know people who claim to be believers in Christ who are two-faced, who are hypocrites? That is perhaps the best summary of how Isaiah viewed the nation of Israel. Israel had an appearance of righteousness, but it was a facade. In the Book of Isaiah, the Prophet Isaiah challenges Israel to obey God with all of their heart, not just on the outside. Isaiah’s desire was that those who heard and read his words would be convicted to turn from wickedness and turn to God for forgiveness and healing.[1]

 

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

Originally posted on Possessing the Treasure:

Image
My brethren, my dear friend Jon Cardwell is launching a pretty big free promotion for Christ and Him Crucified at the end of this month, September 30th through October 1st. If you don’t already have a copy, You can check the book out by CLICKING HERE.

If you know anyone who would be interested in getting a free copy of the book when it is made available during its two free days, please let them know. 

A note from Jon, “If you already have a copy of the book, I sure would appreciate an honest review on Amazon.com. It doesn’t have to be elaborate. A couple of sentences will do. I welcome any constructive criticism of my writing as sales of my books help to supplement my income so I may continue to serve in the ministry. (You’ve probably noticed that the cover art has been changed– please…

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Originally posted on Joel C. Rosenberg's Blog:

Speaking at Moody Bible Institute's chapel on "Three Threats To America, Israel & The Church In The Middle East."

Speaking at Moody Bible Institute’s chapel on “Three Threats To America, Israel & The Church In The Mideast.”

It was an honor to be on the campus of Moody Bible Institute in downtown Chicago in early September. Several weeks ago, at the invitation of Dr. Paul Nyquist, president of MBI, and Dr. Michael Rydelnik, a professor and head of the Jewish Studies Program, I was invited to teach a class on the Holocaust, another class on modern Israeli politics and society, speak on an evening panel on “Israel & The Gaza Conflict,” tape two programs for Moody Radio. I also had the joy and honor of addressing the student body — some 1,600 future Christian leaders — one morning at chapel.

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Originally posted on Possessing the Treasure:

by Mike Ratliff

1 Ὀφείλομεν δὲ ἡμεῖς οἱ δυνατοὶ τὰ ἀσθενήματα τῶν ἀδυνάτων βαστάζειν καὶ μὴ ἑαυτοῖς ἀρέσκειν. 2 ἕκαστος ἡμῶν τῷ πλησίον ἀρεσκέτω εἰς τὸ ἀγαθὸν πρὸς οἰκοδομήν· 3 καὶ γὰρ ὁ Χριστὸς οὐχ ἑαυτῷ ἤρεσεν, ἀλλὰ καθὼς γέγραπται· οἱ ὀνειδισμοὶ τῶν ὀνειδιζόντων σε ἐπέπεσαν ἐπʼ ἐμέ. 4 ὅσα γὰρ προεγράφη, εἰς τὴν ἡμετέραν διδασκαλίαν ἐγράφη, ἵνα διὰ τῆς ὑπομονῆς καὶ διὰ τῆς παρακλήσεως τῶν γραφῶν τὴν ἐλπίδα ἔχωμεν. 5 ὁ δὲ θεὸς τῆς ὑπομονῆς καὶ τῆς παρακλήσεως δῴη ὑμῖν τὸ αὐτὸ φρονεῖν ἐν ἀλλήλοις κατὰ Χριστὸν Ἰησοῦν, 6 ἵνα ὁμοθυμαδὸν ἐν ἑνὶ στόματι δοξάζητε τὸν θεὸν καὶ πατέρα τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ. 7 Διὸ προσλαμβάνεσθε ἀλλήλους, καθὼς καὶ ὁ Χριστὸς προσελάβετο ὑμᾶς εἰς δόξαν τοῦ θεοῦ. (Romans 15:1-7 NA28)

1 Now we who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of those without strength and not just please ourselves. 2 Each of us is to please his…

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Day 29

Adoration

The Lord reigns; He is clothed with majesty;

The Lord is robed in majesty and is armed with strength.

Indeed, the world is firmly established; it cannot be moved.

Your throne is established from of old;

You are from everlasting.

Your testimonies stand firm;

Holiness adorns Your house,

O Lord, forever. (Psalm 93:1–2, 5)

God sits enthroned above the circle of the earth,

And its inhabitants are like grasshoppers.

He stretches out the heavens like a curtain

And spreads them out like a tent to dwell in.

He reduces rulers to nothing

And makes the judges of this world meaningless. (Isaiah 40:22–23)

Pause to express your thoughts of praise and worship.

Confession

Forgive me when I desert the Rock who begot me,

And forget the God who gave me birth. (Deuteronomy 32:18)

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

By Your grace, I want to hear the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Enter into the joy of your Lord.” (Matthew 25:21)

May I not love praise from men more than praise from God. (John 12:43)

I am the Lord’s servant; let Your will be done in me according to Your word. (Luke 1:38)

Pause to add your own prayers for personal renewal.

Petition

May I not throw away my confidence; it will be richly rewarded. Let me persevere so that when I have done the will of God, I will receive what He has promised. (Hebrews 10:35–36)

Personal Concerns

Spiritual warfare

The world

The flesh

The devil

Growth in character

Personal disciplines

Physical health and strength

My activities for this day

Special concerns

Intercession

Many are saying, “Who will show us any good?”

O Lord, lift up the light of Your countenance upon us. (Psalm 4:6)

World Affairs

The poor and hungry

The oppressed and persecuted

Those in authority

Peace among nations

Current events and concerns

Affirmation

God raised Jesus from the dead, freeing Him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for Him to be held by it. (Acts 2:24)

Just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom He wishes. (John 5:21)

God gives life to the dead and calls into being things that do not exist. (Romans 4:17)

He who believes in the Son of God has everlasting life. (John 6:47)

God both raised the Lord and will also raise me up through His power. (1 Corinthians 6:14)

Pause to reflect upon these biblical affirmations.

Thanksgiving

Though I have not seen Jesus, I love Him; and though I do not see Him now but believe in Him, I rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, for I am receiving the end of my faith, the salvation of my soul. (1 Peter 1:8–9)

Since I am receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, may I be thankful and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for my God is a consuming fire. (Hebrews 12:28–29)

Pause to offer your own expressions of thanksgiving.

Closing Prayer

I will ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.

I will ascribe to the Lord the glory due His name

And worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness. (Psalm 29:1–2)

To the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. (1 Timothy 1:17)[1]


September 29

HOLY BIBLE, BOOK DIVINE

John Burton, Sr., 1773–1822

Oh, how I love Your law! I meditate on it all day long. (Psalm 119:97)

Nobody ever outgrows Scripture; the Book widens and deepens with our years.

Charles H. Spurgeon

The Bible is truly an amazing book. It has rightfully been called “The Book of Books.” The first book ever printed was the Bible—the German Gütenberg Bible between the years 1450–1455. Today, it is printed in more than 600 languages, and portions of it are printed in more than 1,000 tongues and dialects. It has long been the world’s best seller.

In addition to being God’s love letter and self-disclosure of Himself, the Bible clearly spells out His plan for our redemption and restored fellowship. It is also our final authority for all matters of faith, morals, and practice. Through the inspired Word, God the Holy Spirit illuminates and guides believers in their Christian walk and also prepares them for their future heavenly destination.

Our finite minds will never be able to comprehend all of the teaching of Scripture, but the essential truths related to our redemption and Christ-like living cannot be misunderstood. It was Abraham Lincoln who once observed: “Read the Bible for whatever reason you can accept and take the rest on faith, and you will live and die a better man.”

John Burton, author of “Holy Bible, Book Divine,” was an English Sunday school teacher with a concern for teaching spiritual truths to children. This text appeared in 1806 in Burton’s Sunday school hymnal, which was titled Incentives for Early Piety. These words have since been spiritually profitable for both young and old:

Holy Bible, Book divine, precious treasure, thou art mine; mine to tell me whence I came, mine to teach me what I am;

Mine to chide me when I rove, mine to show a Savior’s love; mine thou art to guide and guard, mine to punish or reward;

Mine to comfort in distress—Suff’ring in this wilderness; mine to show, by living faith, man can triumph over death;

Mine to tell of joys to come and the rebel sinner’s doom: O thou holy Book divine, precious treasure, thou art mine.

For Today: Matthew 24:35; John 15:7; 2 Timothy 3:15–17; Hebrews 4:12

It was George Mueller who said: “The vigor of our spiritual life will be in exact proportion to the place held by the Word in our life and thoughts.” Determine to give the Bible a greater place in your life. Sing this child-like hymn as you go—[2]


 

You Bid Us; We Obey September 29

Have you seen the “Praise Meeting of the Birds?” I want to send you my portion out of it.

And the birds which migrate praise You,

For guiding us aright

When, at Your summons given,

We take our mystic flight.

Urged by a vague strange longing

We flee from storm and cold;

O’er mountains, seas, and forests,

Our onward course we hold.

We know not why we wander,

You bid us; we obey,

And through the pathless azure

Follow the appointed way.

We trust You; and Your answer

Smiles in the summer sun,

That warms us into vigor

When the far goal is won.

Ah! if we stayed to question,

To prove, to understand,

Winter and death would seize us

In the forbidden land.

—To Anna, 1879[3]


September 29

OUR God’s tender love for his servants makes him concerned for the state of their inward feelings. He desires them to be of good courage. Some esteem it a small thing for a believer to be vexed with doubts and fears, but God thinks not so. Our Master does not think so lightly of our unbelief as we do. Our Lord loveth not to see our countenance sad. It was a law of Ahasuerus, that no one should come into the king’s court dressed in mourning; this is not the law of the King of kings, for we may come mourning as we are; but still he would have us put off the spirit of heaviness, and put on the garment of praise, for there is much reason to rejoice.[4]


Morning, September 29

 

“Behold, if the leprosy have covered all his flesh, he shall pronounce him clean that hath the plague.”

— Leviticus 13:13

 

Strange enough this regulation appears, yet there was wisdom in it, for the throwing out of the disease proved that the constitution was sound. This morning it may be well for us to see the typical teaching of so singular a rule. We, too, are lepers, and may read the law of the leper as applicable to ourselves. When a man sees himself to be altogether lost and ruined, covered all over with the defilement of sin, and no part free from pollution; when he disclaims all righteousness of his own, and pleads guilty before the Lord, then is he clean through the blood of Jesus, and the grace of God. Hidden, unfelt, unconfessed iniquity is the true leprosy, but when sin is seen and felt it has received its death blow, and the Lord looks with eyes of mercy upon the soul afflicted with it. Nothing is more deadly than self-righteousness, or more hopeful than contrition. We must confess that we are “nothing else but sin,” for no confession short of this will be the whole truth, and if the Holy Spirit be at work with us, convincing us of sin, there will be no difficulty about making such an acknowledgment—it will spring spontaneously from our lips. What comfort does the text afford to those under a deep sense of sin! Sin mourned and confessed, however black and foul, shall never shut a man out from the Lord Jesus. Whosoever cometh unto him, he will in no wise cast out. Though dishonest as the thief, though unchaste as the woman who was a sinner, though fierce as Saul of Tarsus, though cruel as Manasseh, though rebellious as the prodigal, the great heart of love will look upon the man who feels himself to have no soundness in him, and will pronounce him clean, when he trusts in Jesus crucified. Come to him, then, poor heavy-laden sinner,

 

Come needy, come guilty, come loathsome and bare;

You can’t come too filthy—come just as you are.

 

Evening, September 29

 

“I found him whom my soul loveth: I held him, and would not let him go.”

— Song of Solomon 3:4

 

Does Christ receive us when we come to him, notwithstanding all our past sinfulness? Does he never chide us for having tried all other refuges first? And is there none on earth like him? Is he the best of all the good, the fairest of all the fair? Oh, then let us praise him! Daughters of Jerusalem, extol him with timbrel and harp! Down with your idols, up with the Lord Jesus. Now let the standards of pomp and pride be trampled under foot, but let the cross of Jesus, which the world frowns and scoffs at, be lifted on high. O for a throne of ivory for our King Solomon! Let him be set on high for ever, and let my soul sit at his footstool, and kiss his feet, and wash them with my tears. Oh, how precious is Christ! How can it be that I have thought so little of him? How is it I can go abroad for joy or comfort when he is so full, so rich, so satisfying. Fellow believer, make a covenant with thine heart that thou wilt never depart from him, and ask thy Lord to ratify it. Bid him set thee as a signet upon his finger, and as a bracelet upon his arm. Ask him to bind thee about him, as the bride decketh herself with ornaments, and as the bridegroom putteth on his jewels. I would live in Christ’s heart; in the clefts of that rock my soul would eternally abide. The sparrow hath made a house, and the swallow a nest for herself where she may lay her young, even thine altars, O Lord of hosts, my King and my God; and so too would I make my nest, my home, in thee, and never from thee may the soul of thy turtle dove go forth again, but may I nestle close to thee, O Jesus, my true and only rest.

 

“When my precious Lord I find,

All my ardent passions glow;

Him with cords of love I bind,

Hold and will not let him go.”[5]


September 29: God Enjoys His Creation

Another characteristic of love is that it takes pleasure in its object. God enjoys His creation. The Apostle John says frankly that God’s purpose in creation was His own pleasure. God is happy in His love for all that He has made. We cannot miss the feeling of pleasure in God’s delighted references to His handiwork. Psalm 104 is a divinely inspired nature poem almost rhapsodic in its happiness, and the delight of God is felt throughout it. “The glory of the Lord shall endure forever: the Lord shall rejoice in his works.”

The Lord takes peculiar pleasure in His saints. Many think of God as far removed, gloomy and mightily displeased with everything, gazing down in a mood of fixed apathy upon a world in which He has long ago lost interest; but this is to think erroneously. True, God hates sin and can never look with pleasure upon iniquity, but where men seek to do God’s will He responds in genuine affection. Christ in His atonement has removed the bar to the divine fellowship. Now in Christ all believing souls are objects of God’s delight. “The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing.”

Verse
“The Lord your God is with you, / he is mighty to save. / He will take great delight in you, / he will quiet you with his love, / he will rejoice over you with singing.”
Zephaniah 3:17

Thought
God hates sin and can never look with pleasure upon iniquity, but where men seek to do God’s will He responds in genuine affection.

Prayer
You us love us, Father. You delight in Your creation, Your children. Praise Your name!

A. W. Tozer


Something For Nothing – Part Three

SCRIPTURE

John 6:1-14

After this Jesus went away to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, which is the Sea of Tiberias. And a large crowd was following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing on the sick. Jesus went up on the mountain, and there he sat down with his disciples. Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was at hand. Lifting up his eyes, then, and seeing that a large crowd was coming toward him, Jesus said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?” He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he would do. Philip answered him, “Two hundred denarii worth of bread would not be enough for each of them to get a little.” One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are they for so many?” Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, about five thousand in number. Jesus then took the loaves, and vwhen he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated. So also the fish, as much as they wanted. And when they had eaten their fill, he told his disciples, “Gather up the leftover fragments, that nothing may be lost.” So they gathered them up and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves left by those who had eaten. When the people saw the sign that he had done, they said, “This is indeed the Prophet who is to come into the world!”

Lesson

In my New York Bible class I was asked the question, “If God is all powerful, could He make a five-year-old tree grow old in ten minutes?” I said, “Why not?” Look at what He did in this case here.

In His fingers, the years and the seasons fell apart. He who was the God of eternity demonstrated that He was the Lord of the months and the growing seasons. The one who took the bread and put it in baskets was the one who had said, “While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease” (Gen. 8:22). While the seasons rolled on, the Lord of the harvest demonstrated that He was able to create, that He was the Creator. And He did the same with the fish. Creation happened in that moment, as His fingers broke the bread and the fish.

Jesus Christ is the Lord Jehovah of Hosts. He is the Creator. He can take not only bread and fish to feed your bodies, but He can also take you and break you and with you feed the world-if you’re willing to be broken by Him, to be handed out day by-day so that those around you may feed. And just as He said, “I am the light of the world” and “you are the light of the world,” so He says, “I am the bread of life and so are you.” When we are broken we can go out to feed others. The feeding, of course, will not be anything of our doing. It will be the work of the Lord Jesus Christ and Him alone.

Notice how Jesus elaborated on this in verses 48 and following. “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness and they died. This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that a man may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any man eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread which I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”

At this point, the Jews asked a very natural question. They said, “How can this man give us flesh to eat?” And we might ask the same question. But Jesus is not talking about cannibalism. When we say, “Feed on Christ,” we mean that the life we receive from Him spiritually is that which makes us live spiritually. Jesus said it this way, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.” (See vv. 52-54.)

Let me give you an illustration about this. Suppose you are at a football game. You see a young fellow running out for a pass. All of a sudden he catches it and starts to run-broken field running ninety yards down the field for a touchdown. What caused him to run like that? Well, that was the steak he ate two days ago. A little while later, he kicks a field goal. That was the mashed potatoes and milk he ate yesterday. The food that he ate yesterday, two days ago, last week, has been transferred into energy. Everything you do physically is done as a result of this chemical exchange-food being eaten and becoming energy. If a man knocks a home run, that’s his steak transmuted into power.

Or maybe you see a young man who could make fifty thousand dollars a year as a surgeon. But he says, “I’m going out to the heart of Africa and I’m going to bury myself there for Christ.” What makes him do that? Well, just as the beef steak makes the football man run down the field, so feeding on Christ transforms the life and sends that man to Africa. And feeding on Christ, seven days a week, makes a person live for Christ right in his own hometown.

Those men, when they had seen the miracle that Jesus did, said, `’his is indeed the prophet who is to come unto the world!” That shows you how blind people can be. This was not a prophet. This was Jehovah God. Men look in the direction of Jesus, even today, and call Him, “the Master,” “the Nazarene,” “the Galilean,” “the Older Brother.” How blind can natural man be?
Oh, Christians, don’t ever be guilty of calling the Lord Jesus Christ “the Nazarene,” and “the Galilean,” and “the Master.” Call Him, as the Scripture through all of the epistles calls Him, “Lord Jesus Christ,” “Jehovah,” “Saviour,” “Messiah.” He is our Creator. He is our Saviour. He is our God. And thus, it was demonstrated in that hour.

The lessons are there very easy to see. There is the lesson of who He is. John said at the end of his Gospel, “These are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name” (John 20:31). So I present it to you that you might believe who Jesus is, and that believing, you might have life. I am not talking only about eternal life. I want you to have life for now, life that will enable you to overcome sin, life that will enable you to say no to the things you desire of yourself, life that will enable you to be crucified with Jesus Christ, life that will enable you to comprehend the nothingness of yourself and your need for the creative touch. You need Christ to come and stand by the cipher of your being, the zero that can make you effective for Him. And when you comprehend this whole thing in relationship to this temporary, very temporary struggle between God and Satan, then you will know that you have been chosen to be on the side of eternity against time, on the side of God against Satan, on the side of supply over the demand of need. You and I have been called for His purpose.

STUDY QUESTIONS

Why does studying scripture help us to finish the race?
What benefits does reading scripture bring to the Christian in their walk with Christ?
Is reading scripture primarily concerned with the heart, mind or both? Explain.

PRAYER

Pray that you would have a deeper desire to study God’s word and to teach others about the bread of life.

Donald Grey Barnhouse


Who is the Greatest in the Kingdom? – Part One

Theme: Conquered Pride
This week we learn a lesson in humility

SCRIPTURE
Matthew 18:1-4

At that time he disciples came to Jesus’ and asked. “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”
He called a little child and had him stand among them. And he said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”

LESSON

What was it Shakespeare wrote?

Be not afraid of greatness: some men are born great,
some achieve greatness,
and some have greatness thrust upon them.
(Twelfth Night, Act 2, Scene 5)

Pity the disciples! They were with true greatness in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. He was great as only God is great. They were not. They had not been born great. They had not achieved greatness. They had not had greatness thrust upon them. Yet they wanted to be great so much.

They were thinking of an earthly kingdom to be established by Jesus who they now believed to be the Messiah, and they were wondering which of them would be the greatest when Christ’s kingdom came. Luke says that they were arguing about it and that Jesus knew what they were thinking (Luke 9:46-47). Mark adds that they had been on their way to Capernaum; when they got to Capernaum, Jesus asked what they had been arguing about and they were silent, probably because they were embarrassed by their worldly thoughts (Mark 9:33-34). Matthew says that they then asked Jesus directly, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” (Matt. 18:1).

This question became the catalyst for a new direction in Jesus’ private teaching of these men which has been taking place in Matthew 13-20. It has to do with what the citizens of the kingdom should be like, the fourth of six collections of Jesus’ teachings in the gospel. Earlier collections have been: the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5-7), the commissioning of the disciples (Matt. 10), and the seven parables of the kingdom (Matt. 13). The others are in Matthew 23 and Matthew 24, 25. Matthew 18 is a collection of teachings gathered from talks given over the course of Jesus’ ministry, as the earlier collections also probably were.

The question was amazing in some ways. For one thing, Jesus had already taught about the type of people who would be citizens of his kingdom: “the poor in spirit,” “the meek,” “the merciful,” and so on (Matt. 5:3, 5, 7). Even more amazing is the fact that almost immediately before this Jesus had explained that he would be betrayed and killed (Matt. 17:23). Matthew says that they “were filled with grief.” But their pain didn’t last long. They were convinced Jesus was the Messiah. The Messiah was going to establish a glorious earthly kingdom. Therefore they began to anticipate who would be greatest in that kingdom when it came and to jockey for position.

The kind of kingdom they were thinking about becomes clear in Acts 1 where they asked Jesus, even after the resurrection, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” (v. 6). John Stott notes, “The verb restore shows that they were expecting a political and territorial kingdom; the noun Israel that they were expecting a national kingdom; and the adverbial clause at this time that they were expecting its immediate establishment.

They were wrong on all counts. The kingdom was going to be a spiritual kingdom of those who were being saved from sin through faith in Jesus. It was for all people, not just the people of Israel, and it was to develop over time as God through the preaching of the gospel and the power of the Holy Spirit brought individuals to faith.

But those were all concepts they would need to learn later. In this chapter Jesus is concerned to teach what the citizens of the kingdom must be like since at this point the minds of the disciples were still miles distant from genuine Christianity.

STUDY QUESTIONS

What caused the disciples’ silence? What did they eventually ask?
On what matters were the disciples wrong?
Why did Jesus not correct the disciples on these matters at this point?

James Montgomery Boice


September 29th

The consciousness of the call

For necessity is laid upon me: yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel! 1 Cor. 9:16.

We are apt to forget the mystical, supernatural touch of God. If you can tell where you got the call of God and all about it, I question whether you have ever had a call. The call of God does not come like that, it is much more supernatural. The realization of it in a man’s life may come with a sudden thunder-clap or with a gradual dawning, but in whatever way it comes, it comes with the undercurrent of the supernatural, something that cannot be put into words, it is always accompanied with a glow. At any moment there may break the sudden consciousness of this incalculable, supernatural, surprising call that has taken hold of your life—“I have chosen you.” The call of God has nothing to do with salvation and sanctification. It is not because you are sanctified that you are therefore called to preach the gospel; the call to preach the gospel is infinitely different. Paul describes it as a necessity laid upon him.

If you have been obliterating the great supernatural call of God in your life, take a review of your circumstances and see where God has not been first, but your ideas of service, or your temperamental abilities. Paul said—“Woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!” He had realized the call of God, and there was no competitor for his strength.

If a man or woman is called of God, it does not matter how untoward circumstances are, every force that has been at work will tell for God’s purpose in the end. If you agree with God’s purpose He will bring not only your conscious life, but all the deeper regions of your life which you cannot get at, into harmony.[6]


September 29

This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith

1 John 5:4

The world conquers me when it succeeds in hindering me from seeing, loving, holding communion with, and serving my Father, God. I conquer it when I lay my hand upon it and force it to help me to get nearer Him, to get more like Him, to think oftener of Him, to do His will more gladly and more constantly. The one victory over the world is to bend it to serve me in the highest things—the attainment of a clearer vision of the divine nature, the attainment of a deeper love to God Himself, and a more glad consecration and service to Him. That is the victory—when you can make the world a ladder to lift you to God. When the world comes between you and God as an obscuring screen, it has conquered you. When the world comes between you and God as a transparent medium you have conquered it. To win victory is to get it beneath your feet and stand upon it, and reach up thereby to God.

Alexander Maclaren[7]


September 29

Who Prays?

James 5:16

Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another.

The ancient historian Eusebius portrayed James as a Nazirite, an Israelite wholly devoted to God (Numbers 6:1–23), whose times of prayer for his nation were frequent and prolonged.

Most of us find it very hard to identify with a man like James. Who do we know who prays so much that he develops knots on his knees? Perhaps the better question might be, “Who do we know who prays—really prays?” That’s not an unfair question, nor is it calculated to instill guilt. It reflects the surveys that have been taken by both Christian and secular researchers. It seems Christians today are too busy to pray!

One of the New Testament’s strongest passages on prayer is contained in James’s final words to his fellow Jewish believers. In James 5:7–12, the word for “patience” is used seven times. In this passage, the word for “prayer” occurs seven times. When patience is required, prayer is the key.[8]


September 29

By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us.

Father, the love of Christ passes knowledge. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. I know the grace of my Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for my sake He became poor, that I through His poverty might become rich. If You, Lord God, so loved me, I ought to love others. Enable me to be kind to others, tenderhearted, forgiving others, even as You in Christ forgave me. Help me bear with others, and forgive others, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave me. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many. Christ suffered for me, leaving me an example, that I should follow His steps.

I ought to wash another’s feet. For Jesus has given me an example, that I should do as He has done. I also ought to lay down my life for the brethren.

The path is clear, but walking it isn’t easy, Lord. Help me love and serve as Jesus did.

1 John 3:16; Ephesians 3:19; John 15:13; 2 Corinthians 8:9; 1 John 4:11; Ephesians 4:32; Colossians 3:13; Mark 10:45; 1 Peter 2:21; John 13:14–15; 1 John 3:16[9]


September 29

Intro

Welcome to Daily Treasures from the Word of God. Today’s reading is Psalms 113 through 118. Our lesson is from Psalm 115:9, “O Israel, trust in the Lord; He is their help and their shield.” (NASU)

Lesson

Today’s psalm demonstrates the confidence that the believers have in the Lord: in marked contrast are those who trust in idols. Let’s review three exhortations.

First, the Lord is trustworthy. Trustworthiness from the Lord is one of the most needed qualities for someone to succeed. Our psalm is about trusting in the Lord because as we trust in Him we can be successful. However, the psalm also speaks of those who trust in idols.

Idols do not have life in and of themselves. They have feet yet do not walk. They have ears and do not hear. They have a mouth but do not speak. This is the tragedy of following idols who are false gods. They are an outrage to the living God because they give the glory that only belongs to the true God to a man-made object.

In contrast to trusting in idols is trusting in the God of Israel. Those who trust in Him will not be ashamed. Unlike the idols, the living God has a vibrant relationship with His people. He lives and gives life in abundance. He cares and is involved in the lives of the people. How wonderful it is to know that one is not alone and has at his/her disposition the Lord God of the universe that can be trusted fully.

Second, the Lord is a helper. Who has not lived and needed help? I know that sometime or another that we have all needed someone to come alongside us to help us. There is no better helper than the Lord through His Holy Spirit. It is the Spirit of the living God who dwells in the believer who is ready to come alongside us in order to help with the maturing process. The goal of the Holy Spirit is to make the Church more like Jesus Christ. The fruit of the Spirit is to be lived out in our everyday circumstances.

Third, the Lord is a shield. The shield is a defensive weapon which protects a person from dangerous objects that can harm him/her. The Lord protects a person from anything that is thrown his/her way. He defends His people at all times from any destruction that comes from the enemy of our soul and the kingdom of darkness.

In summary, the Lord is trustworthy. The Lord is a helper. And the Lord is a shield.

Read and meditate on today’s psalm. As you deliberate, let the Holy Spirit search your heart. Surrender to the Lord any areas of your life that need to come under His Lordship. May His grace fill all areas of your life and ministry.

End

It has been a pleasure to share with you Daily Treasures from the Word of God. Tomorrow’s Bible reading is Psalm 119. 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.[10]


September 29: Rebuilding Is Not Always Wise

Malachi 1:1–2:9; Acts 27:1–44; Job 31:9–22

Who can rebuild what Yahweh tears down? The prophets articulate this message again and again. Yahweh tears down evil things; evil people rebuild them; the prophets insist that He will just tear them down again. God tolerates evil for a time, waiting for people to repent, but when His patience is up, it’s up.

“ ‘I have loved you,’ says Yahweh, but you say, ‘How have you loved us?’ ‘Is Esau not Jacob’s brother?’ declares Yahweh. ‘I have loved Jacob, but Esau I have hated. I have made his mountain ranges a desolation, and given his inheritance to the jackals of the desert.’ If Edom says, ‘We are shattered, but we will return and rebuild the ruins,’ Yahweh of hosts says this: ‘They may build, but I will tear down; and they will be called a territory of wickedness, and the people with whom Yahweh is angry forever.’ Your eyes will see this, and you will say, ‘Yahweh is great beyond the borders of Israel’ ” (Mal 1:2–5).

This scene seems brutal upon first reading. If you’re on Jacob’s side, you’re fine—Yahweh loves you even though you don’t acknowledge it. But if you’re on Esau’s (Edom’s) side, you’re left wondering why God hates you so much—unless you know the backstory: Edom ravaged the lands of God’s people and committed atrocities against them in their greatest time of need. When foreign nations invaded Israel, Edom preyed on its brothers instead of coming to their defense. This is the reason for Yahweh’s anger—and why He will tear down whatever Edom builds.

How often do we try to excuse ourselves as Edom did—to defend our behavior as justifiable retribution for previous offenses? What does God think about the state of our hearts and the actions we take against others as a result?

How must your plan of action change, today, in light of God’s will and His standard?

John D. Barry[11]


September 29

The Storms of Life

Scripture reading: Philippians 4:4–9

Key verse: Philippians 4:7

The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Here are some things you can know about the storms of life:

God knows exactly where you are emotionally and mentally when trouble hits. He understands your frustration and need to ask why a certain event has taken place. He never condemns your feelings. Instead, He provides wisdom for all you face.

He will not leave you comfortless. That was a promise Jesus made to His disciples before His death. Today, it is one of our greatest sources of encouragement. Jesus does not leave us on our own to deal with heartache and trials. He has given us the Holy Spirit to comfort and support us when we are too weak to continue. When feelings of anxiety rise, practice growing still before the Lord. Think on His goodness and how He never fails you.

At times, God does allow the pressures of life to build so that we can learn how to deal with them from a position of faith and not fear. Philippians 4:6–7 (nasb) is a promise you can claim: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Are you ready to listen for God’s voice? He avails Himself to all who seek His face. Therefore watch, listen, and pray. Then you will discover the mind and hope of God.

Father, I am so glad You know where I am emotionally and mentally when trouble hits. You understand my frustration and my need to question. Thank You for not condemning me for my feelings, and for providing wisdom for all I face.[12]


September 29

Restored by Grace

Scripture Reading: Luke 15:11–16

Key Verse: Luke 15:14

But when he had spent all, there arose a severe famine in that land, and he began to be in want.

Independence is a highly valued quality. We teach it to our children, and we demand it for ourselves. There is even a statue called the Independent Man on top of the state capitol of Rhode Island. It stands as a tribute to self-sufficiency and freedom.

In the story of the prodigal son, we see a different aspect of independence in someone who takes charge of his own life and shuns his father’s care and protection. The account reveals both the downward spiral of sin and the restoring grace of God.

Sin means acting independently of God’s will. It begins with a desire that is outside His plan. Next comes a decision to act on the desire. When we act, we find ourselves, like the prodigal, in a distant country, which is anywhere outside the will of God.

To remain there requires deception. We deceive ourselves by thinking that we know better than God, and ignoring any consequences. Defeat follows. For a time, all will seem fine, but, like the reckless son in the story, we will find our way leads to defeat. Finally, we will arrive at despair resulting from famine of spirit, emotions, or relationships. That leads into desperation, where our choices are few, and all distasteful.

The prodigal son ended up there. But desperation is not the end of the prodigal’s story, nor is it the end of ours when we sin. Jesus gave this account of an earthly father’s forgiving love because He desired to point us to the restoring grace of our heavenly Father. God waits with open arms for us, His wandering children.

Father, thank You for the assurance of Your love—that You wait with open arms to welcome Your wandering children home.[13]


September 29

Your Place in the Marketplace

Scripture Reading: Ephesians 6:5–9

Key Verse: Colossians 3:23

Whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men.

The slogan of a major automobile manufacturer is this: “Quality is job one.” The company tells customers that its priority is sending top-notch cars off the assembly line. Manufacturers know that consumers look for quality in everything they buy. You don’t want to purchase items you know are below par and don’t represent someone’s best effort.

The way you do your job every day reflects your personal quality standard. With each assignment or phone call or meeting, you tell others how you value your job and your employer. Do you work just enough to get by, or do you work at maximum capacity?

You can discover real and lasting motivation when you understand that your accountability is to Jesus Christ (Col. 3:24).

Perhaps your boss is unreasonable or your job doesn’t meet your expectations. Maybe you aren’t paid what you feel the position is worth. Remember, Jesus is the One who understands your needs and gives you the strength for every task, no matter how difficult or how trivial it may seem.

In every job, your goal is the same—to point those around you to your Savior and Master by working with a passion for excellence.

Dear Lord, help me work with a passion for excellence in all I do. Help me remember I am accountable to You. Let my personal standards point those around me to You.[14]


September 29

Responding to Rejection

Scripture reading: Colossians 1:18–22

Key verse: John 1:22

Then they said to him, “Who are you, that we may give an answer to those who sent us? What do you say about yourself?”

It is one of Satan’s favorite traps to get a child of God to feel belittled by himself. Often, when people feel a gnawing sense of rejection, it comes not from an outside source such as criticism, but from within. Many people feel rejected because they’ve rejected themselves.

The root of these feelings could be one of many factors: something that happened in the past, an overbearing or apathetic parent, perceived physical flaws. These feelings also can manifest themselves for decades. Well into their adult years, people who feel rejection may practice perfectionism or be domineering or seek isolation.

If you are a believer, you are a child of God. If Satan buffets you with feelings of rejection or the notion that you do not measure up, let your Father answer him:

  • John 1:12 declares, “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.”
  • John 3:16 tells you that God loves you so much that He sent His Son, Jesus, to die for your sins.
  • In 1 John 3:1, you again learn the liberating truth that the only opinion that matters belongs to God.
  • And you belong to Him too: “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!” (1 John 3:1).

I am Your child, Father—a child of the King. Help me realize it and act like who I really am in You.[15]


September 29

Disappointment

Be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.

James 1:22

many people today get in trouble because they will not wait for either God’s timing or God’s method. They are so consumed with the problem of their need that they act ahead of God or instead of God. They manipulate circumstances, people, and events on their own, seeking to resolve their need according to their own timing and cunning schemes … which are acts of disobedience before God.

Take any sin in any place at any time, and you are going to find a great deal of manipulation at work.

The end result is never entirely good. Oh, the immediate result may seem good. But not for long. The end result will always be heavily marred by disappointment, dissatisfaction, lack of fulfillment, and diminished success.[16]


September 29         Complete Transformation

scripture reading: Acts 2:14–36
key verse: Acts 2:14

Peter, standing up with the eleven, raised his voice and said to them, “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and heed my words.”

Can you remember the first time you were truly excited about learning something new? Maybe it was the day you learned how to ride your first bicycle. For days you tried to pedal without tipping over, but you continued to fall. Finally one afternoon, it all came together and you knew exactly how to do it.

The disciples knew that feeling. Jesus had spent three years with them. His crucifixion had left them despondent and lonely. But the Resurrection changed their view. For the first time they grasped what He had been saying. Can you imagine what it was like to be with Peter when he finally understood?

Acts 2:14–36 provides this account. The man who stood up and spoke on the day of pentecost was not the same man who had denied Christ on the night of His arrest. What changed Peter was not merely being around Jesus; the indwelling of Christ’s Spirit made the transformation complete.

Make Christ the focus of your days and the emphasis of your praise. He knows where He is leading you, and He is aware of all that is needed to make your life complete.

Neither should you become discouraged over the times you fall short of your expectations. Allow God to be in control, and you will discover freedom unlike any you have ever known.

O God, You are the focus of my life. You are all I need to make my life complete. You are in complete control. You are free to set me free.[17]


 

September 29 Praying for Others

“With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints” (Eph. 6:18).

✧✧✧

God wants you to look beyond your own problems and pray for the needs of others.

The great preacher D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones wrote, “Before the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War, in Barcelona, Madrid and other places, there were psychological clinics with large numbers of neurotics undergoing drug treatments and others attending regularly for psychoanalysis and such like. They had their personal problems, their worries, their anxieties, their temptations, having to go back week after week, month after month, to the clinics in order to be kept going.

“Then came the Civil War; and one of the first and most striking effects of that War was that it virtually emptied the psychological and psychiatric clinics. These neurotic people were suddenly cured by a greater anxiety, the anxiety about their whole position, whether their homes would still be there, whether their husbands would still be alive, whether their children would be killed.

“Their greater anxieties got rid of the lesser ones. In having to give attention to the bigger problem they forgot their own personal and somewhat petty problems” (The Christian Soldier: An Exposition of Ephesians 6:10 to 20 [Grand Rapids: Baker, 1978], p. 357).

That’s a negative illustration of a positive principle: your own problems pale as you pray in the Spirit on behalf of others. Praying “in the Spirit” (Eph. 6:18) is praying in concert with the Holy Spirit—in harmony with His Person and will. It’s synonymous with praying according to God’s will (1 John 5:14).

The Holy Spirit intercedes for you (Rom. 8:26–27), and you are to intercede for others. That’s not always easy in our contemporary religious environment where self-centeredness is praised rather than shunned and more and more professing Christians are embracing the health, wealth, and prosperity heresy. But God’s mandate is for us to love one another, pray for one another, and look out for one another’s interests (Phil. 2:3–4). Let that mandate govern all your relationships.

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer: Make a list of people for whom you want to intercede. ✧ Spend time praying for each person, asking God to show you specific ways to minister to his or her needs.

For Further Study: Read Philippians 2:1–11. ✧ What should be your attitude toward other believers? ✧ How did Christ set an example of proper attitudes?[18]


 

September 29 Spiritual Gifts

“But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.”

1 Corinthians 12:7

✧✧✧

God wants every Christian to understand spiritual gifts and use his or hers wisely.

A spiritual gift is a channel through which the Holy Spirit ministers to the Body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:11). The day we were born again into God’s family, His Spirit distributed to us a spiritual gift. Therefore, having a spiritual gift does not mean a believer is “spiritual.” What we really must ask is, “Is the channel clear?” Hypothetically, someone could have all the recorded spiritual gifts and not be using any of them. Or that believer could be greatly abusing some gifts. In either case, such a person would not be spiritual.

It is also incorrect to equate a natural ability with a spiritual gift. Someone might say, “My gift is baking pies”; another might say, “I’m good at playing the piano.” Those are wonderful and useful abilities, but they are natural abilities, not spiritual gifts.

Paul illustrates the difference between abilities and gifts. He could have used his knowledge of philosophy and literature to write and deliver great orations. However, this is what he said to the Corinthians: “I did not come with superiority of speech or wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified” (1 Cor. 2:1–2). The Holy Spirit uses the abilities of people like Paul and speaks through them, but He expresses Himself in a supernatural way, which is not necessarily related to the person’s natural skills.

If we rely on our own ability to produce spiritual fruit, we hinder what the Spirit wants to do in us. Instead, ponder what Peter says about using your gift: “As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. Whoever speaks, let him speak, as it were, the utterances of God; whoever serves, let him do so as by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 4:10–11).

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer: Thank the Lord for the special spiritual gift He has given you. Ask that He would help you use it faithfully, to its full potential.

For Further Study: Read Romans 12:4–8 and list the spiritual gifts mentioned there. What does 1 Corinthians 12, especially verses 12–31, emphasize regarding the use of the various gifts within the church?[19]


September 29

Love Me, Love Men

On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.

Matthew 22:40

 

Jesus said that the Ten Commandments could be summed up in two commands: love Me, and love men. Perhaps you wonder how you can ever live up to all the commands in the Bible. The answer is very simple: love God, love men, and do what you want.

When you love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and you love your neighbor as yourself, you can do what you want because you will be the person God wants you to be. Because of your love, you won’t kill anyone, defile anyone, steal anything, or covet what another person has. The Spirit will cultivate in your heart a love that precludes any desire to do wrong.[20]


September 29 – The Offer of Salvation

“‘For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him’” (John 3:16–17).

God’s gracious gift of salvation is freely available to whoever believes in Christ. The free offer of the gospel is broad enough to encompass the vilest sinner (1 Tim. 1:15), yet narrow enough to exclude all who reject Christ (John 3:18). But to those who come to Him on His terms, Jesus said, “The one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out” (John 6:37)—they will never perish.

To “perish” is to face God’s eternal judgment. It is true that “God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world.” Jesus Himself declared in John 12:47, “I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world.” Yes, God will ultimately judge those who reject His Son, but this was not the mission of the Son in His first coming.

Furthermore, the point of Jesus’ coming was not to redeem Israel and condemn the Gentiles, “but that the world might be saved through Him.” God’s gracious offer of salvation extended beyond Israel to all mankind. Once again, Nicodemus should have known this, for in the Abrahamic covenant God declared, “I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed” (Gen. 12:3). Gentile salvation was always God’s purpose.

Ask Yourself

Are you ever troubled that your salvation is perhaps still in doubt, eligible for recall if you don’t toe a certain line or achieve a base level of righteousness? Take heart in the promise that coming to Christ equates to never being “cast out.”

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.


Reading for Today:

Isaiah 49:1–50:11
Psalm 112:1-4
Proverbs 26:13-15
Ephesians 1:1-23
Notes:

Isaiah 49:8 acceptable time…day of salvation. The Messiah is represented as asking for the grace of God to be given to sinners. God gives His favorable answer in a time of grace (61:1) when salvation’s day comes to the world (Gal. 4:4, 5; Heb. 4:7). At His appointed time in the future, the Lord will, by His Servant, accomplish the final deliverance of Israel. Paul applied these words to his ministry of proclaiming the gospel of God’s grace to all people (2 Cor. 6:2). a covenant to the people. When the Lord saves and regathers Israel, they will return to the land, to which Joshua brought their ancestors after their exit from Egypt, now restored and glorious (44:26; Josh. 13:1–8).

Isaiah 50:6 My back…My cheeks…My face. The Servant remained obedient though provoked to rebel by excessively vile treatment. Jesus fulfilled this prophecy by remaining submissive to the Father’s will (Matt. 26:67; 27:26, 30; Mark 14:65; 15:19; Luke 22:63; John 18:22).

Isaiah 50:7 set My face like a flint. So sure was He of the Lord God’s help that He resolutely determined to remain unswayed by whatever hardship might await Him (Ezek. 3:8, 9). Jesus demonstrated this determination in setting His face to go to Jerusalem to be crucified (Luke 9:51).

Ephesians 1:13, 14 sealed with the Holy Spirit. God’s own Spirit comes to indwell the believer and secures and preserves his eternal salvation. The sealing of which Paul speaks refers to an official mark of identification placed on a letter, contract, or other document. That document was thereby officially under the authority of the person whose stamp was on the seal. Four primary truths are signified by the seal: 1) security (Dan. 6:17;Matt. 27:62–66); 2) authenticity (1 Kin. 21:6–16); 3) ownership (Jer. 32:10); and 4) authority (Esth. 8:8–12). The Holy Spirit is given by God as His pledge of the believer’s future inheritance in glory (2 Cor. 1:21).

Ephesians 1:19, 20 exceeding greatness of His power. God’s great power, that very power which raised Jesus from the dead and lifted Him by ascension back to glory to take His seat at God’s right hand, is given to every believer at the time of salvation and is always available (Acts 1:8; Col. 1:29). Paul therefore did not pray that God’s power be given to believers but that they be aware of the power they already possessed in Christ and use it (3:20).

DAY 29: Why does Paul use the word “mystery” so often in his letter to the Ephesians?

Paul actually uses the word “mystery” six times in this letter (1:9; 3:3, 4, 9; 5:32; 6:19). By comparison, the word appears twice in Romans, once in 1 Corinthians, four times in Colossians, once in 1 Timothy, and nowhere else. Contrary to our use of “mystery” as a series of clues to be figured out, Paul’s use of the word points to mystery as a heretofore unrevealed truth that has been made clear. The word “mystery” preserves the sense that the revealed truth has such awesome implications that it continues to amaze and humble those who accept it.

Ephesians introduces various aspects of the “mystery.” Paul explained his use of the word in 3:4–6 by saying, “that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel.” When the unsearchable riches of Christ are preached among the Gentiles, one result is an understanding of the “fellowship of the mystery” (3:9). And when God’s plan for human marriage is used to explain the unique relationship between Christ and His bride, the church, Paul reminded his readers that the real subject is a great mystery (5:32). And finally, Paul asked the Ephesians to pray for him that he would be able “boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel” (6:19).The gospel is not mysterious because it is hard to understand. It is mysterious because it is unexpected, unmerited, and free. Though Paul didn’t use the word in this passage, his summary of the mystery for the Ephesians can be found in 2:8,9:“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”

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.


 

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

[2] Osbeck, K. W. (1996). Amazing grace: 366 inspiring hymn stories for daily devotions (p. 292). Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications.

[3] 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.

[4] Spurgeon, C. H. (1892). Daily Help (p. 276). Baltimore: R. H. Woodward & Company.

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

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

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

[8] Jeremiah, D. (2002). Sanctuary: finding moments of refuge in the presence of God (p. 284). Nashville, TN: Integrity Publishers.

[9] Jeremiah, D. (2007). Life-Changing Moments With God (p. 292). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

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

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

[12] Stanley, C. F. (2002). Seeking His face (p. 284). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[13] Stanley, C. F. (2006). Pathways to his presence (p. 284). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[14] Stanley, C. F. (1999). On holy ground (p. 284). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[15] Stanley, C. F. (2000). Into His presence (p. 284). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[16] Stanley, C. F. (2004). God’s way day by day (p. 290). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

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

[18] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 285). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

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

[20] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 294). Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman.

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