Monthly Archives: March 2017

March 23, 2017: Verse of the day

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Based on all the marvelous things the Lord has done for them already, God’s children are exhorted to acknowledge his utter uniqueness and obey his commands with the result that this generation and all future generations will experience God’s abundant blessings. Moses challenges his fellow Israelites to “take to heart” or internalize the fact that Yahweh is the universal sovereign (“in heaven above and on the earth below”) and the only sovereign (“there is no other”). In the light of that theological reality, they should gladly obey his commands. Moses affirms that Israel’s genuine obedience to God’s commands will occasion long tenure in the land (and continued enjoyment of covenantal blessings).

Expositor’s Bible Commentary

know … and lay it to your heart. Deuteronomy is constantly concerned with the state of Israel’s heart (see 6:4–5; 7:17; 8:2, 17; 9:4; 10:16).

ESV Study Bible

March 23, 2017: Daily Devotional Guide Collection

March 23

Fishing for Men

Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.

Matthew 4:19

 

Fishermen in the first century used special tools for catching fish. One was a line and hook (Matt. 17:27). Another was a spear or possibly a type of harpoon (Job 41:26). A third was the dragnet (Matt. 13:47). It was sometimes over three hundred feet long and about eight feet wide. Fishermen buoyed up one side with corks and weighed down the other side with lead sinkers. Sometimes they stretched the net between two boats and rowed in a circle. They would then draw in ropes attached to the bottom of the net, trapping the fish (John 21:6).

In today’s verse, however, Jesus was referring to a casting net, which had a circular form (about fifteen feet in diameter) made of fine mesh and lead sinkers around the edge. Attaching a long piece of line to the center of the net, the fisherman would cast it into shallow water. He then would draw up the center of the net by its cord and wade into the water to secure the catch.

Just as the disciples caught a school of fish within the reaches of their circular net, the Lord wants His contemporary disciples to reach out to the men and women around us.[1]


March 23 Jesus’ Humble Identification with Sinners

“… Emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond–servant, and being made in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”

Philippians 2:7–8

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Except for sin, Jesus experienced the everyday things of a normal man; but He was often not appreciated as the God–man.

Jesus could understand what people around Him were dealing with because He lived under the same conditions. He can also identify with us today. It is true that He never married, never went to college, and never used a computer or a VCR. But He still has perfect knowledge about such things, and more. The point is, Christ knows firsthand about our basic physical and emotional needs because He actually lived and worked in a world affected by the Fall.

But there was one element of our world Jesus did not partake in: sin. The conclusion of Hebrews 4:15 says He was “tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.” Even though Jesus never sinned, He knows the struggles and temptations we face daily. Otherwise, He could not be the sympathetic High Priest that the first part of verse 15 mentions.

Although Jesus was a man who identified profoundly with those He came to serve, people around Him did not naturally see the most important thing about Him. Philippians 2:8 views Jesus from the perspective of those people. It says His human appearance was so authentic that most of them didn’t know that He was also God. Many of them simply could not accept that a man like Jesus could also be higher than them: “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does He now say, ‘I have come down out of heaven’?” (John 6:42).

Christ’s close identification with mankind elicited a tragic response for people such as those in John 6. But for us, His humility is a great model and a heart–felt reassurance that He was perfectly man and perfectly God.

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Suggestions for Prayer: Thank God that you can freely approach Him in prayer through Jesus, who can identify so closely with all our struggles as human beings.

For Further Study: Read John 11:1–45, which describes the death and resurrection of Lazarus. How did Jesus demonstrate His humanity and deity to the disciples and other eyewitnesses?[2]


MARCH 23

HE ALWAYS WILL BE GOD

But the LORD is the true God…the living God, and an everlasting king: at his wrath the earth shall tremble, and the nations shall not be able to abide his indignation.

—Jeremiah 10:10

Men and women who think they have all the answers about this life and the next have been mouthing their brave words for generations. They are big, challenging words, but they come from puny, empty hearts and minds. These infidels are too blind to recognize or acknowledge that God does have… a divine plan in which mankind is never permitted to utter the first word or the last….

Humans try to ignore God, continuing to make their own ambitious, selfish plans. In the years before World War I, Germany’s Kaiser Wilhelm… was exceedingly headstrong. At a chapel service attended by the kaiser, a faithful German minister preached on the coming again of Jesus Christ to establish God’s kingdom of righteousness and peace throughout the earth. Wilhelm was greatly offended and spoke to the minister at the close of the service.

“I never want to hear that kind of a sermon again,” he warned the preacher. “Such an event is not at all in keeping with the plans we have for the future and the glory of our Fatherland!”

But Kaiser Wilhelm and, a generation later, Adolph Hitler are merely fading memories—illustrations of that vain human propensity to make ourselves big and God small. JIV016-018

Lord, I acknowledge that You have the first and last word on all things. I bow before Your wisdom. Amen. [3]


March 23

Reasons for Gladness

Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.—Matt. 5:12

Jesus provides us with two reasons for our rejoicing and being glad when we are persecuted for His sake.

First, He says, “Your reward in heaven is great.” Whatever we do for the Lord now, including suffering for Him—especially suffering for Him—reaps eternal dividends.

But God’s dividends aren’t ordinary dividends. They are not only “eternal” but also “great.” We often hear, and perhaps are tempted to think, that it is unspiritual and crass to serve God for the sake of rewards. But that is one of the motives God Himself gives for serving Him. We first of all serve and obey Christ because we love Him, just as on earth He obeyed the Father because He loved Him. But it was also because of “the joy set before Him” that Christ Himself “endured the cross, despising the shame” (Heb. 12:2). It is neither selfish nor unspiritual to do the Lord’s work for a motive that He Himself gives and has followed.

Second, we are to rejoice because the world “persecuted the prophets who were before” us in the same way that it persecutes us. Persecution is a mark of our faithfulness just as it was a mark of the prophets’ faithfulness. When we suffer for Christ’s sake, we know beyond a doubt that we belong to God because we are experiencing the same reaction from the world that the prophets experienced. So realize that if you are persecuted, you belong in the line of that great company of righteous servants.

ASK YOURSELF
What’s your immediate reaction to the idea that we labor for the “reward” of God’s blessing? God knows our hearts. He has given us desires to register our growth and progress in the faith. As long as the reward we seek is more of Jesus and to see Him glorified, should we be averse to wanting return on our faithful investment?[4]

MARCH 23

HERE FOR OUR TIME

Who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?

Esther 4:14

 

Just as those who lived in the past had the privilege of being God’s people of faith then, so do we in our own day! It is good to come to the understanding that while God wants us to be holy and Spirit filled, He does not expect us to look like Abraham or to play the harp like David or to have the same spiritual insights given to Paul.

All of the former heroes of the faith are dead. You are alive in your generation. A Bible proverb says that a living dog is better than a dead lion (see Ecclesiastes 9:4). You may wish to be Abraham or Isaac or Jacob, but remember they have been asleep for centuries, and you are still around!

You can witness for our Lord today! You can still pray! You can still give of your substance to help those who are in need!

In this, your own generation, give God all your love, all your devotion. You do not know what holy, happy secret God may want to whisper to your responsive heart!

 

Thank You, Lord, for the encouragement of this devotional today. It is what I needed to hear. Use me to advance Your kingdom, Lord. Whisper, and I will obey.[5]


March 23 Praying Aggressively

“Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matt. 6:10).

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Praying for God’s will to be done on earth is an aggressive prayer.

Many people assume that somehow everything that happens is God’s will. But that’s not true. Lives destroyed by murderous aggressors and families broken by adultery aren’t God’s will. Children and adults ravaged by abuse or crippled by disease aren’t God’s will. He uses sin and illness to accomplish His own purposes (Rom. 8:28), but they aren’t His desire.

Eventually God will destroy all evil and will fulfill His purposes perfectly (Rev. 20:10–14), but that hasn’t happened yet. That’s why we must pray for His will to be done on earth. We can’t afford to be passive or indifferent in prayer. We must pray aggressively and not lose heart (Luke 18:1).

That’s how David prayed. His passion for God’s will compelled him to pray, “Make me understand the way of Thy precepts, so I will meditate on Thy wonders. … I shall run the way of Thy commandments, for Thou wilt enlarge my heart. Teach me, O Lord, the way of Thy statutes, and I shall observe it to the end. Give me understanding, that I may observe Thy law, and keep it with all my heart. Make me walk in the path of Thy commandments, for I delight in it” (Ps. 119:27, 32–35).

But David also prayed, “Let God arise, let His enemies be scattered; and let those who hate Him flee before Him. As smoke is driven away, so drive them away; as wax melts before the fire, so let the wicked perish before God. But let the righteous be glad; let them exult before God; yes, let them rejoice with gladness” (Ps. 68:1–3). He loved God’s will, but he also hated everything that opposed it.

When you truly pray for God’s will to be done, you are aggressively pursuing His will for your own life and are also rebelling against Satan, his evil world system, and everything else that is at odds with God’s will.

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Suggestions for Prayer:  Thank God for David’s example and for others who demonstrate a passion for God’s will. ✧ Ask for wisdom to see beyond your circumstances to what God wants to accomplish through them.

For Further Study: Read Psalm 119. ✧ How can God’s Word help you know and obey God’s will? ✧ What was the psalmist’s attitude toward the Word?[6]


MARCH 23

THE TRUE MINISTER: MAN OF GOD SPEAKING TO MEN

But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.

2 TIMOTHY 4:5

The Christian minister, as someone has pointed out, is a descendant not of the Greek orator but of the Hebrew prophet!

The differences between the orator and the prophet are many and radical, the chief being that the orator speaks for himself while the prophet speaks for God.

The orator originates his message and is responsible to himself for its content. The prophet originates nothing but delivers the message he has received from God who alone is responsible for it, the prophet being responsible to God for its delivery only. The prophet must hear the message clearly and deliver it faithfully, and that is indeed a grave responsibility; but it is to God alone, not to men!

It is a dubious compliment to a preacher to say that he is original. The very effort to be original has become a snare to many a young man fresh out of seminary, who rejects the pure wheat of the Word and tries to nourish his congregation on chaff of his own manufacture. It may even be golden chaff, but chaff nevertheless that can never feed the soul.

The true preacher is a man of God speaking to men; he is a man of heaven giving God’s witness on earth. Because he is a man of God he can decode the message he receives from heaven and deliver it in the language of earth![7]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 95). Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman.

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

[3] Tozer, A. W., & Eggert, R. (2015). Tozer on the almighty god: a 365-day devotional. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

[4] MacArthur, J. (2008). Daily readings from the life of Christ (p. 91). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

[5] Tozer, A. W. (2015). Mornings with tozer: daily devotional readings. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

[6] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 95). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

[7] Tozer, A. W., & Smith, G. B. (2015). Evenings with tozer: daily devotional readings. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

40 Days to the Cross: Reflections from Great Thinkers (Week Three: Thursday)

Thursday

Confession: Psalm 38:21–22

Do not forsake me, O Yahweh.

O my God, do not be far from me.

Hurry to help me,

O Lord, my salvation.

Reading: Mark 12:28–37

And one of the scribes came up and heard them debating. When he saw that he answered them well, he asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Listen, Israel! The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God from your whole heart and from your whole soul and from your whole mind and from your whole strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” And the scribe said to him, “That is true, Teacher. You have said correctly that he is one and there is no other except him. And to love him from your whole heart and from your whole understanding and from your whole strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” And Jesus, when he saw that he had answered thoughtfully, said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And no one dared to put a question to him any longer.

And continuing, Jesus said while teaching in the temple courts, “How can the scribes say that the Christ is David’s son? David himself said by the Holy Spirit,

‘The Lord said to my Lord,

“Sit at my right hand,

until I put your enemies

under your feet.” ’

David himself calls him ‘Lord,’ and how is he his son?” And the large crowd was listening to him gladly.

Reflection

Love for God is the first and greatest commandment and the next is love towards our neighbor. The Lord taught that the entire law and the prophets hang upon these two commandments. He did not Himself bring down [from heaven] any other commandment greater than this one, but renewed this very same one to His disciples when He enjoined them to love God with all their heart and others as themselves.

Paul, in like manner, declares that “love is the fulfilling of the law.” (Rom 13:10 nrsv) And [he declares] that when all other things have been destroyed, “faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love” (1 Cor 13:13 nrsv). Apart from the love of God, knowledge avails nothing—nor the understanding of mysteries, nor faith, nor prophecy.… For we do never cease from loving God; but in proportion as we continue to contemplate Him, so much the more do we love Him.

—Irenaeus of Lyons

Irenaeus Against Heresies

Response

In Mark 12:28–37, Jesus references two commandments given to the Israelites immediately following the Ten Commandments of Deuteronomy 5. How does the commandment to love the Lord your God with all your heart sum up the other Ten Commandments? Does your life demonstrate this love?[1]

 

[1] Van Noord, R., & Strong, J. (Eds.). (2014). 40 Days to the Cross: Reflections from Great Thinkers. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I have not come to bring peace but a sword

Possessing the Treasure

by Mike Ratliff

34 Μὴ νομίσητε ὅτι ἦλθον βαλεῖν εἰρήνην ἐπὶ τὴν γῆν· οὐκ ἦλθον βαλεῖν εἰρήνην ἀλλὰ μάχαιραν. Matthew 10:34 (NA28)

34 Do not think that I cam to bring peace on the earth. I have not come to bring peace but a sword. Matthew 10:34 translated from the NA28 Greek text)

The peace that Christians have because they are in Christ is between them and God and because of that, with each other. However, that does not mean that there will be peace between them and those not in Christ. In fact, these words of our Lord in Matthew 10:34-38 make it clear that those truly in Christ will be so changed by the Gospel, the presence of the Holy Spirit in them, and their new nature that there will be inevitable separation between them and those who are not in Christ. This holds true even within families. This is…

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Furtick, Elevation Church activate N.A.R. Apostles.

churchwatch central

With Steven Furtick invited as a keynote speaker at C3’s Presence Conference on April 10-13, 2017, it’s important to “sound the alarm” as to who Phil Pringle is exposing his movement to. Fellow friend and polemicist Amy Spreeman has exposed Furtick’s extreme drift into the New Apostolic Reformation. Amy writes:

“Prophetic Activations” will happen next week at Steven Furtick’s Elevation Church, a clear indicator that Furtick is not just affiliating, but becoming one with the heretical New Apostolic Reformation.I first noticed Furtick dipping his toe into the signs-and-wonders New Apostolic Reformation movement five years ago when he traveled to Australia for the Presence 2012 Conference with John Bevere, for “a golden fire of anointing, vision and miracles.”Next Thursday, Friday and Saturday (March 30 – April 1), Elevation’s downtown location is hosting RESET Charlotte, multi-city Apostles and Prophets tour for RESET/ACTIVATE AMERICA. Attendees will be exposed to the activations…

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March 22, 2017 Truth2Freedom Briefing Report (US•World•Christian)

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Mar. 22, 2017 |

BLOOMBERG

President Donald Trump will travel to Brussels in May to attend a meeting of NATO, his first scheduled trip overseas that comes as European leaders remain anxious about whether the U.S. will continue its level of support for the 28-nation alliance.

A familiar group of conservative rebels stands between House Speaker Paul Ryan and his goal of passing an Obamacare repeal measure on Thursday: the House Freedom Caucus.

A group of wealthy progressive donors that wants to restore the Democratic Party’s clout plans to meet this week with groups that helped kick off protest marches and town-hall confrontations to oppose President Donald Trump’s agenda. The Democracy Alliance,a group of 112 prolific political contributors that includes George Soros, Tom Steyer and Donald Sussman, is expected to draw more than 400 donors in all from 32 states to discuss how to turn the demonstrators’ enthusiasm into electoral success.

Calif. lawmakers introduce bill to require state’s retirement systems to divest pension fund holdings from cos. that win contracts to build President Trump’s proposed border wall.

Sears Holdings Corp. suffered its worst stock decline in six weeks after acknowledging “substantial doubt” about its future; raising fresh concerns about whether a company that was once the world’s largest retailer can survive.

Payless Inc., the struggling discount shoe chain, is preparing to file for bankruptcy as soon as next week, according to people familiar with the matter.

AP Top Stories

More than 2,600 Nigerians who fled into northern Cameroon to escape Boko Haram jihadists have been forced to go home since the start of the year, the UN said Tuesday.

While Donald Trump’s political fortunes were rising, his net worth was dropping to a mere $3.5 billion, or roughly a third of what he claimed during his successful campaign for the U.S. presidency, according to the latest Forbes list of the world’s billionaires. Trump tumbled more than 100 spots to No. 544 on the magazine’s 31st annual list.

China’s Foreign Ministry on Wednesday denied reports that China will begin preparatory work this year for an environmental monitoring station on disputed Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea.

Mexico’s government on Tuesday warned Mexican companies that it would not be in their best “interests” to participate in the construction of U.S. President Donald Trump’s border wall, though there will be no legal restrictions or sanctions to stop them if they tried.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has governed on a platform that has garnered international praise by refugee advocates for its welcoming stance. But a number of Canadians aren’t a fan of the country’s border policies, and actually support ramping up deportation efforts of undocumented immigrants, a new poll shows.

The company building the Dakota Access pipeline said Monday that the project remains on track to start moving oil this week despite recent “coordinated physical attacks” along the line.

The number of unmanned aircraft, or drones, in the United States will jump dramatically over the next five years, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. The increase comes after the Obama administration in 2016 implemented new rules that opened the skies to low-level small drones for education, research and routine commercial use. Policy makers are still debating whether to allow a sweeping expansion in drone use for activities like deliveries where aircraft would fly beyond the sight of an operator.

A Czech zoo is taking no chances after the recent killing of a rhinoceros at a wildlife park near Paris by assailants who stole the animal’s horn – the zoo has started to remove the horns from its 21 rhinos as a precaution.

U.S. mortgage application activity fell from a nearly four-month peak as borrowing costs on 30-year home loans held at their highest level almost three years, Mortgage Bankers Association data released on Wednesday showed.

BBC

An aircraft cabin ban on large electronic devices was prompted by intelligence suggesting a terror threat to US-bound flights, say US media. The so-called Islamic State group (IS) has been working on ways to smuggle explosives on to planes by hiding them in electronics, US sources tell ABC. The tip-off was judged by the US to be “substantiated” and “credible”.

Germany’s cabinet has backed a bill to clear men handed sentences for homosexuality after World War Two under a Nazi-era law. The notorious Paragraph 175 of the penal code was eventually relaxed in 1969, but not before 50,000 men were convicted. Many were sent to jail and some took their own lives because of the stigma.

Two in five North Koreans are undernourished and more than 70% of the population relies on food aid, the United Nations said.

Australia’s Northern Territory has decriminalized abortion as part of wide-ranging reforms on the medical termination of pregnancy.

A new start-up says that it intends to offer an electric-powered commercial flight from London to Paris in 10 years. Wright Electric said by removing the need for jet fuel, the price of travel could drop dramatically.

WND

The fence-jumper who wandered around the White House complex for 17 minutes was able to elude the Secret Service in part because the agency has taken down alarm sensors along an area of one fence that he scaled, according to two sources.

Some of the wealthiest New Yorkers are asking the state to raise their taxes. Eighty people including George Soros, Steven Rockefeller and Abigail Disney wrote to lawmakers and Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo saying they and other top earners should pay more to support schools, roads, bridges and programs to help poor and homeless residents of the state.


The Briefing 03-22-17

Judge Neil Gorsuch remains poised and unscathed as Supreme Court nomination hearing continues

Time for every brand to pick a political side? The politicization of every dimension of American life

Beyond ‘He’ or ‘She’? TIME magazine and the hyper-individualization of gender and sexuality

The post The Briefing 03-22-17 appeared first on AlbertMohler.com.


Top News – 3/22/2017

Was Top FBI Official Financially Compromised During Clinton Investigation?
FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe was the subject of scrutiny last year when it was revealed that his wife received campaign money from one of Hillary Clinton’s close political allies, but a new Freedom of Information Act request reveals that he wasn’t just hiding those contributions from the public – he was hiding them from the FBI.

NSA: Nation State Cyber Attack Included Virtual ‘Hand-to-Hand Combat’
Foreign government hackers caught secretly breaking into a U.S. national security network waged a 24-hour battle with cyber security officials trying to counter the cyber attack, the deputy director of the National Security Agency said Tuesday. “It was a nation state actor who had gotten in and what we saw for the very first time, the adversary, once we detected them, instead of disappearing they fought back,” “So it was basically hand-to-hand combat in a network where we would take an action [and] they would then counter that,”

Terrifying EARTHQUAKE fears as cities at risk of being ‘dropped into sea’
California is at risk of falling by at least three feet as a result of a devastating earthquake, the study warned. The findings showed the Orange County coast is prone to a dramatic and sudden “sinking” after discovering evidence of ancient tsunami activity that dropped land in the region. Robert Leeper, who carried out the study with the help of the US Geological Survey, said: “It is not just a gradual sinking. This is boom — it would drop.

Strong 6.4 magnitude earthquake strikes off Bali
A powerful earthquake has just struck off the coast of Bali. The quake, measuring in as a magnitude 6.4 on the richter scale, struck 35 km South East of Badung around 7.10am local time, according to Geoscience Australia. It hit at a depth of 124km and could have been felt by people up to 278km away.

Latest Iranian threat: Drones in Yemen
Iran is increasing its support for Houthi forces in Yemen through the transfer of new technology and advanced weaponry. That is the conclusion of a new report by Conflict Armament Research, a UK-based organization that identifies and tracks conventional weapons. In their March 2017 report, “Iranian technology transfers to Yemen,” the findings indicate that drones are “used by Houthi forces to attack coalition missile-defense systems.”

Kuwait trying to oust Knesset from Inter-Parliamentary Union
Kuwait has decided to forge ahead with a move that would attempt to expel Israel from the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU). The Arab country…officially decided to pursue this step during a gathering of the Arab Parliamentary Union…in Morocco…Marzouq Al-Ghanim, said that his country was inspired to lead the effort to oust Israel from the IPU after the Kuwaiti parliament was tasked with preparing a list of clauses that would determine the sanctions that should be imposed on parliaments that breach the basic principles of the IPU.

‘If antisemitic parties rise to power, we will call on European Jews to flee’
A European Jewish leader said Monday that the rise of extremist parties in Europe could ultimately lead to an exodus of Jews from countries where antisemitism is becoming increasingly visible. Speaking at the annual conference of the Rabbinical Center of Europe in Pomezia, Italy, the organization’s director, Rabbi Menachem Margolin, warned that it will not be long before extremist parties which now have a great deal of power become the ruling parties in Europe.

Boko Haram crisis: Cameroon ‘forcing Nigeria refugees home’
The UN refugee agency has criticised Cameroon for the forced return of hundreds of refugees to north-east Nigeria after they had fled from the Islamist Boko Haram insurgency. The UNHCR said forced returns had “continued unabated” despite an agreement earlier this month. Under the deal, any returns would be voluntary and only “when conditions were conducive”.

Pakistan reinstates secret military courts despite criticism
Pakistan’s lower house has passed a bill to reinstate secret military courts, despite criticism from human rights activists. Military courts were first set up as a response to the 2015 attack on a military-run school by the Pakistani Taliban that killed 134 children. The courts, which try civilians charged with terrorism offences, had a two-year mandate that expired on 7 January.

IS conflict: Air strike ‘kills dozens in village near Raqqa’
At least 33 people have been killed in an air strike on a school in a village west of the Islamic State-held Syrian city of Raqqa, a monitoring group says. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the building in al-Mansoura was being used as a shelter for displaced people when it was hit on Monday night. The activist group Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently said the fate of 50 families who were there was unknown.

Israel plans mass evacuation if war erupts again
If Islamic militants in Gaza or Lebanon go to war with Israel, they could find their usual targets empty. Israel is drawing up contingency plans to evacuate up to a quarter-million civilians from border communities to protect them from attacks from Hamas, Hezbollah or other Islamic militant groups. The mass evacuations would be the biggest in Israel’s history, part of a bigger plan where the army works with municipalities to keep civilians safe.

Exclusive: North Korea has no fear of U.S. sanctions move, will pursue nuclear arms – envoy
North Korea has nothing to fear from any U.S. move to broaden sanctions aimed at cutting it off from the global financial system and will pursue “acceleration” of its nuclear and missile programs, a North Korean envoy told Reuters on Tuesday.

The Mainstream Media Is Using “Trolling” As An Excuse To Censor The Right
“…a ‘review team’ is subjectively deciding which content it will censor. What happened to the programmers and objectively censoring ‘trolls’ and abuse? The whole thing is much more similar to McCarthyism, except instead of targeting ‘communists’ during the Cold War, they are targeting ‘right-wing’ websites and individuals. Truly a threat to ‘national security’ in the same vein as ISIS, isn’t it?”

Top Hezbollah Commander Mustafa Badreddine Assassinated By Own Group: Israeli Military
Israel’s military chief said Tuesday that a top Hezbollah commander who died last year was assassinated by members of his own group, the Iran-backed Lebanese Shiite militia.Mustafa Badreddine died near the Syrian capital, Damascus, in May 2016, and Hezbollah said that Syrian rebel shelling caused his death.

They Thought She Was Crazy: Doctor Extracts RFID Chip From Sex Trafficking Victim
If someone walks into a hospital and claims that they’re being tracked, and that they need to have a tracking device removed, there’s a pretty good chance that they’re going to be sent to a mental institution instead. However, according to a doctor who wished to remain anonymous to protect his patient, that very situation occurred last October and it didn’t end how you might expect.

Banks Slash Loan Books While Equities Hover Near All-Time Highs; Someone Is Massively Wrong
Loan issuance to businesses and consumers is plunging while metrics like auto delinquencies and credit card charge offs are soaring to ‘great recession’ levels.  Of course, all this loan data continues to deteriorate as equities surge to all new highs with each passing day.  So, who’s right?

Police: Chicago Teen Apparently Gang-Raped On Facebook Live
A 15-year-old Chicago girl was apparently sexually assaulted by five or six men or boys on Facebook Live, and none of the roughly 40 people who watched the live video reported the attack to police, authorities said Tuesday.


Have We Reached A Turning Point For Stocks? Tuesday Was The Worst Day For The Stock Market In 6 Months

New York Stock Exchange Trading Floor - Public DomainThe post-election stock market rally is officially over.  After hovering near record highs for the past couple of weeks, U.S. stocks had their worst day in six months on Tuesday.  For quite some time it has been clear that the momentum of the post-election rally had been exhausted, and a pullback of this nature was widely anticipated.  But even though stocks fell by more than 1 percent during a single trading session for the first time since last September, it is going to take a whole lot more than that to bring stock prices back into balance.  In fact, stocks are so overvalued at this point that it would take a total decline of about 40 to 50 percent before key stock valuation measures return to their long-term averages. (Read More…)


Franklin Graham: Pray for Gorsuch — ‘Atheist Progressives’ Want to ‘Marginalize Christians,’ Strip God From Society

….adding that “atheist progressives” are working furiously to “strip God and all references to Him” from the public square and are pushing Christians “into the shadows.”

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Note to parents: Remember the saga of Katy Perry

Pop singer Katy Perry – a preacher’s kid raised in a Christian home – received an award over the weekend from the Human Rights Campaign, the largest pro-homosexual lobby in the U.S. In her acceptance speech, she stated:

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Hillary’s New Look—And What It Means – Ed Klein

Experience tells us that when Hillary experiments with her hair style, she’s up to something. I reported on that “something” a month ago when I revealed that, as fanciful as it might seem, Hillary has plans to run again for president.

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Top Headlines – 3/22/2017

Lack of 2 state solution is existential threat to Israel – ex-Mossad chief

Netanyahu: Building in East Jerusalem is non-negotiable

Tel Aviv to get Israel’s first 100-floor skyscraper

‘A third of secular Israeli Jews want to move abroad’

Israel plans mass evacuations if war erupts again

Hamas tried to get more accurate maps to aim rockets

Shin Bet: Hamas stealing Gaza aid from Turkish charities

Hamas aims to improve its image with new ideological document, but won’t revoke charter

Gazan teen said killed by IDF while attempting to cross border

Eisenkot: IDF will keep thwarting arms transfers to terror groups

Amid border tensions, IDF chief alludes to strikes on Hezbollah convoys

IDF chief: Hezbollah commander killed by his own men last year

Iran Reportedly Built Weapons Factories in Lebanon for Hezbollah

Iran says it’s ‘completely ready’ to restart nuclear program

Mossad chief: Iran is main threat to Israel with or without nuclear deal

Intelligence official says Russia must contain Iran in Syria

Syrian rebels report fresh Israeli airstrikes near Damascus

Netanyahu: The Russian policy regarding Israel’s attacks in Syria has not changed

‘Please don’t forget us’: the hellish search for Syria’s lost prisoners

Five years after ouster, Egypt’s Mubarak walks free

Attack in central Nigeria kills at least 17, official says

US drone kills militant blamed for attack on Sri Lanka cricket team in

Turkey’s Erdogan says may review ties with Europe after referendum

EU official: Turkey putting membership bid at risk

The Media’s Cheery Ignorance about Islam’s Hostile Ideology

No electronics ban on flights to US from Israel

Britain will ban electronic devices on flights from six Middle Eastern nations amid terror threat

AQAP trying to hide explosives in laptop batteries, official says

US, UK officials: No specific terror threat behind laptop ban

Fallout from electronics ban worries travel advocates

Bid to strip terrorist’s citizenship may mark new Trump way

North Korea to Tillerson: We Are Ready for ‘Any War the U.S. Would Like’

Trump administration weighing broad sanctions on North Korea

North Korea has no fear of U.S. sanctions move, will pursue nuclear arms – envoy

US expects next North Korean missile launch soon

North Korea fails in new missile test, Seoul says

China says number of “terror attacks” is down, but threat remains high

FBI head confirms Russia election probe, says Moscow backed Trump

Kremlin says US intelligence committee is “confused”

EU official: we can make members accept refugees

Rape focuses critical attention on ‘sanctuary’ states

U.S.-Mexico border wall fight: California considers divesting from companies involved in the project

San Francisco supervisors move to bar border wall contractors from doing business with the city

Mexico violence: Skulls found in new Veracruz mass grave

Mexico threatens to ditch US corn imports

Saudi Arabia’s Oil Supremacy Falters

Billionaire bunkers: How the 1% are preparing for the apocalypse

One-third of Americans say they’d have trouble coming up with an emergency $2,000

$20 trillion debt deserves as much attention as Dow hitting 20,000

Stock market falls 1.2%, ending longest streak of calm since 1995

Dow and S&P post first 1% fall in 5 months as banks tumble, health care reform worries remain

EU to threaten Britain with court action if Theresa May refuses to pay 50bn Euro Brexit divorce bill

Goldman Sachs Does The Obvious – Moves Staff From London To EU Over Brexit

Goldman building robo-adviser to give investment advice to the masses

Drone-catchers emerge on a new aerial frontier

Walmart wants to deploy in-store drones

Twitter software helps find, ban users advocating violence

Google Steps Up Effort to Keep Ads Away From Controversial Content

Pope tells young to resist ‘false’ reality of social media

Hyperloop tech company offers first look at futuristic travel pods

Trump signs NASA bill aimed at sending people to Mars

Travel Tips From a Real Space Tourist: Get Ready to Feel Awful

Rosetta comet orbiter films deep-space landslide

5.5 magnitude earthquake hits near Banjar Pasekan, Indonesia

5.3 magnitude earthquake hits near Kotaagung, Indonesia

5.0 magnitude earthquake hits near Mutis, Colombia

5.0 magnitude earthquake hits near Calama, Chile

Chirinkotan volcano on the Kuril Islands erupts to 20,000ft

Sheveluch volcano on Kamchatka, Russia erupts to 18,000ft

Sinabung volcano in Indonesia erupts to 14,000ft

Mudslides in Peru create water crisis, treatment systems severely clogged

The unnamed phenomenon behind Peru’s extraordinary flooding

Israel issues Peru travel warning amid heavy rains, flooding

First endangered bee in the United States named

20 million at risk of starvation in world’s largest crisis since 1945, UN says

13 killed in Kenya in drought-related violence

Israeli-American partnership to launch cannabis sleep aid

Trump to Republicans: Vote for Obamacare repeal or lose your seat

Conservatives rebuff Trump, say they have votes to derail health bill

Gorsuch to Feinstein: Abortion ruling is ‘precedent’ and acknowledged the ruling had been reaffirmed ‘many times’

Transgender rapist moved to women’s prison after sex change

Power Rangers Introduces First Openly Gay Cinematic Superhero

Sandy Simpson – Screwtape Legacy

Furtick, Elevation Church activate N.A.R. Apostles

More Hillsong victims appearing at Royal Commission: Brian Houston summoned again?

Jane Whaley/WOFF – Trial date requested in Word of Faith abuse case

6 Signs of a Toxic ‘Apostle’

Posted: 22 Mar 2017 09:05 AM PDT

(By J.Lee Grady) I’ve just spent two weeks in South America, where the Holy Spirit is moving in unprecedented ways. Churches are growing and average…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

What the Bible Actually Says About Profanity

Posted: 22 Mar 2017 09:02 AM PDT

(By Kerby Anderson) While profanity is exploding in culture and society, it should never be excused by people of faith. Your children are facing an…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

BREAKING NEWS: Shots fired at UK Parliament; officer stabbed and assailant shot

Posted: 22 Mar 2017 08:51 AM PDT

DEVELOPING – A police officer has been stabbed and an alleged assailant was reportedly shot after gunfire broke out at the UK Parliament in London…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Should High School’s Islamic Prayer Room Be Open To ALL Religions?

Posted: 22 Mar 2017 07:33 AM PDT

It appears a new debate is heating up in Texas and this one is regarding a public High School that recently opened up a prayer…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

The Wilderness Will Make Or Break You!

Posted: 22 Mar 2017 07:23 AM PDT

(By Ricky Scaparo) In this message, I will discuss four things that inevitably always happen during a prolonged time in the Wilderness with a lack…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Have We Reached A Turning Point For Stocks? Tuesday Was The Worst Day For The Stock Market In 6 Months

Posted: 22 Mar 2017 07:10 AM PDT

(Reported By Michael Snyder) The post-election stock market rally is officially over. After hovering near record highs for the past couple of weeks, U.S. stocks…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Texas A&M’s first openly gay student body president to take office

Posted: 22 Mar 2017 07:07 AM PDT

Texas A&M just made history with it’s first “openly gay” president to take office. The report indicates that Bobby Brooks the 21-year-old junior has been…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Mexico Threatens to End US Corn Imports

Posted: 22 Mar 2017 06:55 AM PDT

This next story is far from being corny! According to reports, Mexico is now pulling out all the stops to use as weapons in its…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Retired NBA Star Shaquille O’Neal Joins “Flat Earth” Hysteria

Posted: 22 Mar 2017 06:45 AM PDT

Look who just joined the “Flat Earth”, “Round Earth” hysteria that has been taking theological circles by storm. According to reports, Retired basketball superstar Shaquille…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

NY School Pushes ‘Total Indoctrination,’ Comparing Trump to Hitler and Mussolini

Posted: 22 Mar 2017 06:35 AM PDT

(Reported By Todd Starnes) A group of moms in Saratoga Springs, New York has decided to fight back against what they call the radical left-wing…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Israel Preps Mass Evacuation Plans For War, Netanyahu Warns Putin More Strikes Will Come

Posted: 22 Mar 2017 06:28 AM PDT

Are we about to see a major war take place in the Middle East that will thrust us into the fulfillment of Psalm Chapter 83…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Shocking Bible Code Matrix Contains The Exact Day And Year That David Rockefeller Would Die

Posted: 21 Mar 2017 08:03 PM PDT

(Reported By Michael Snyder) Did someone know in advance that David Rockefeller would die on March 20th, 2017? What I am about to share with…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Jerusalem to Host This Year’s “Gay Parade”

Posted: 21 Mar 2017 07:46 PM PDT

Revelation 11:8– And their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Britain Bans Electronic Devices On Flights from 6 Mideast Nations Amid Terror Threat

Posted: 21 Mar 2017 07:29 PM PDT

British passengers have been banned from bringing laptops, tablets and other electronic devices on board of flights from the Middle East and North Africa after…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

PAYLESS Filing for Bankruptcy as Soon as Next Week…

Posted: 21 Mar 2017 07:14 PM PDT

Payless Shoe store looks to be the next company to bite the dust in the ongoing economic purge of retail stores across the Nation. According…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

BREAKING NEWS: Bali Struck by Strong 6.4 Magnitude Earthquake

Posted: 21 Mar 2017 06:52 PM PDT

We are receiving reports of a strong earthquake measuring 6.4 that has struck Bali. Sources indicate that Quake shook up the resort island but did not…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Three Right-Now Presidential Prayer Strategies

Posted: 21 Mar 2017 05:08 PM PDT

(By Kelly McDonald, Jr) Our country is at a tremendous crossroads. We have internal strife between conservatives and liberals. There is strife within the Christian…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Pastor Alarid Prophesies Over New Mexico Governor

Posted: 21 Mar 2017 04:26 PM PDT

(by Kelly McDonald, Jr) Charisma News recently released a report about a pastor who put his faith into practice. Brian Alarid is the lead pastor…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Samuel Alito Issues Warning About Eroding Religious Freedoms

Posted: 21 Mar 2017 04:23 PM PDT

(by Kelly McDonald, Jr) In 2015, Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito spoke prophetically when he stated that the acceptance of gay-marriage in America would lead…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Twitter Ends more than 636,000 accounts since 2015 to tackle extremism

Posted: 21 Mar 2017 01:43 PM PDT

Twitter along with Facebook and Google are making unprecedented efforts in purging their sites from what they consider as “Extremism”. Twitter alone has just reported that…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

North Korea Poses No Fear of Sanctions! Plans to Accelerate Nuclear Pursuit

Posted: 21 Mar 2017 01:34 PM PDT

It appears that we are moving full steam ahead towards a future military conflict with North Korea as reports are now indicating that the communist…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

School Orders Boy to “Tolerate” Undressing with Girl and Make it “Natural”

Posted: 21 Mar 2017 01:26 PM PDT

(Reported By Todd Starnes) A teenage boy was told by his principal that he had to “tolerate” undressing in front of a female student and…

Read more at End Time Headlines.


What is The Gospel?


Who Do You Think That I Am?

Selected Scriptures

Code: A335

With that brief question Jesus Christ confronted His followers with the most important issue they would ever face. He had spent much time with them and made some bold claims about His identity and authority. Now the time had come for them either to believe or deny His teachings.

Who do you say Jesus is? Your response to Him will determine not only your values and lifestyle, but your eternal destiny as well.

Consider what the Bible says about Him:

JESUS IS GOD

While Jesus was on earth there was much confusion about who He was. Some thought He was a wise man or a great prophet. Others thought He was a madman. Still others couldn’t decide or didn’t care. But Jesus said, “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30). That means He claimed to be nothing less than God in human flesh.

Many people today don’t understand that Jesus claimed to be God. They’re content to think of Him as little more than a great moral teacher. But even His enemies understood His claims to deity. That’s why they tried to stone Him to death (John 5:18; 10:33) and eventually had Him crucified (John 19:7).

C.S. Lewis observed, “You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come up with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to” (Mere Christianity [Macmillan, 1952], pp. 40-41).

If the biblical claims of Jesus are true, He is God!

JESUS IS HOLY

God is absolutely and perfectly holy (Isaiah 6:3), therefore He cannot commit or approve of evil (James 1:13).

As God, Jesus embodied every element of God’s character. Colossians 2:9 says, “In Him all the fulness of Deity dwells in bodily form.” He was perfectly holy (Hebrews 4:15). Even His enemies couldn’t prove any accusation against Him (John 8:46)

God requires holiness of us as well. First Peter 1:16 says, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”

JESUS IS THE SAVIOR

Our failure to obey God—to be holy—places us in danger of eternal punishment (2 Thessalonians 1:9). The truth is, we cannot obey Him because we have neither the desire nor the ability to do so. We are by nature rebellious toward God (Ephesians 2:1-3). The Bible calls our rebellion “sin.” According to Scripture, everyone is guilty of sin: “There is no man who does not sin” (1 Kings 8:46). “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). And we are incapable of changing our sinful condition. Jeremiah 13:23 says, “Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard its spots? Neither can you do good who are accustomed to doing evil.”

That doesn’t mean we’re incapable of performing acts of human kindness. We might even be involved in various religious or humanitarian activities. But we’re utterly incapable of understanding, loving, or pleasing God on our own. The Bible says, “There is none righteous, not even one; there is none who understands, there is none who seeks for God; all have turned aside, together they have become useless; there is none who does good, there is not even one” (Romans 3:10-12).

God’s holiness and justice demand that all sin be punished by death: “The soul who sins will die” (Ezekiel 18:4). That’s hard for us to understand because we tend to evaluate sin on a relative scale, assuming some sins are less serious than others. However, the Bible teaches that all acts of sin are the result of sinful thinking and evil desires. That’s why simply changing our patterns of behavior can’t solve our sin problem or eliminate its consequences. We need to be changed inwardly so our thinking and desires are holy

Jesus is the only one who can forgive and transform us, thereby delivering us from the power and penalty of sin: “There is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

Even though God’s justice demands death for sin, His love has provided a Savior, who paid the penalty and died for sinners: “Christ … died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, in order that He might bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18). Christ’s death satisfied the demands of God’s justice, thereby enabling Him to forgive and save those who place their faith in Him (Romans 3:26). John 3:16 says, “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.” He alone is “our great God and Savior” (Titus 2:13).

JESUS IS THE ONLY ACCEPTABLE OBJECT OF SAVING FAITH

Some people think it doesn’t matter what you believe as long as you’re sincere. But without a valid object your faith is useless

If you take poison—thinking it’s medicine—all the faith in the world won’t restore your life. Similarly, if Jesus is the only source of salvation, and you’re trusting in anyone or anything else for your salvation, your faith is useless.

Many people assume there are many paths to God and that each religion represents an aspect of truth. But Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me” (John 14:6). He didn’t claim to be one of many equally legitimate paths to God, or the way to God for His day only. He claimed to be the only way to God—then and forever.

JESUS IS LORD

Contemporary thinking says man is the product of evolution. But the Bible says we were created by a personal God to love, serve, and enjoy endless fellowship with Him

The New Testament reveals it was Jesus Himself who created everything (John 1:3; Colossians 1:16). Therefore He also owns and rules everything (Psalm 103:19). That means He has authority over our lives and we owe Him absolute allegiance, obedience, and worship.

Romans 10:9 says, “If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved.” Confessing Jesus as Lord means humbly submitting to His authority (Philippians 2:10-11). Believing that God has raised Him from the dead involves trusting in the historical fact of His resurrection—the pinnacle of Christian faith and the way the Father affirmed the deity and authority of the Son (Romans 1:4; Acts 17:30-31).

True faith is always accompanied by repentance from sin. Repentance is more than simply being sorry for sin. It is agreeing with God that you are sinful, confessing your sins to Him, and making a conscious choice to turn from sin and pursue holiness (Isaiah 55:7). Jesus said, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments” (John 14:15); and “If you abide in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine” (John 8:31).

It isn’t enough to believe certain facts about Christ. Even Satan and his demons believe in the true God (James 2:19), but they don’t love and obey Him. Their faith is not genuine. True saving faith always responds in obedience (Ephesians 2:10).

Jesus is the sovereign Lord. When you obey Him you are acknowledging His lordship and submitting to His authority. That doesn’t mean your obedience will always be perfect, but that is your goal. There is no area of your life that you withhold from Him.

JESUS IS THE JUDGE

All who reject Jesus as their Lord and Savior will one day face Him as their Judge: “God is now declaring to men that all everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead” (Acts 17:30-31).

Second Thessalonians 1:7-9 says, “The Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. And these will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power.”

HOW WILL YOU RESPOND?

Who does the Bible say Jesus is? The living God, the Holy One, the Savior, the only valid object of saving faith, the sovereign Lord, and the righteous Judge.

Who do you say Jesus is? That is the inescapable question. He alone can redeem you—free you from the power and penalty of sin. He alone can transform you, restore you to fellowship with God, and give your life eternal purpose. Will you repent and believe in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior?


Available online at: https://www.gty.org/library/articles/A335
COPYRIGHT ©2017 Grace to YouYou may reproduce this Grace to You content for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Grace to You’s Copyright Policy (http://www.gty.org/connect/copyright).


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(Alternative News, Apologetics, Current Events, Commentary, Opinion, Theology, Discernment Blog, Devotionals, Christian Internet Evangelism & Missions Activist).

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The Gathering Storm: Religious Liberty in the Wake of the Sexual Revolution

In this essay, Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr. discusses the challenge to religious liberty Christians will face in this generation. Mohler writes:

“These are days that will require courage, conviction, and clarity of vision. We are in a fight for the most basic liberties God has given humanity, every single one of us, made in his image. Religious liberty is being redefined as mere freedom of worship, but it will not long survive if it is reduced to a private sphere with no public voice. The very freedom to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ is at stake, and thus so is the liberty of every American. Human rights and human dignity are temporary abstractions if they are severed from their reality as gifts of the Creator. The eclipse of Christian truth will lead inevitably to a tragic loss of human dignity. If we lose religious liberty, all other liberties will be lost, one by one.”

Click Here to Read More

Barna Update | Pastors and Parents Differ on Youth Ministry Goals

The tug-of-war between a parent’s protective instincts and their desire to raise fearless kids is felt in youth ministries. In partnership with Youth Specialties and YouthWorks, Barna conducted a major study on the state of youth ministry in the United States, looking at the expectations of pastors, youth leaders and parents.

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More Hillsong victims appearing at Royal Commission: Brian Houston summoned again?

churchwatch central

More victims of Frank Houston are coming forward and appearing this Friday (the 24th) at the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse as well as the Australian Christian Church (ACC) (formerly known as the Aseemblies of God (AOG)) and other “Pentecostal” churches. This means there is a high probability that Brian Houston will be there again.

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse – Case Study 58: a public hearing concerned with the institutional response to child sexual abuse of the Australian Christian Churches (ACC) and its affiliated churches.

(NOTE: to this date, victims have still received no offer of compensation from Brian Houston or Hillsong church.)

Brian Houston swearing on the bible to tell the truth and the whole truth at the Royal Commission.


Before looking at the details of the upcoming case study at the Royal Commission,
it is important people understand what the AOG…

View original post 694 more words

Legalism and Sanctification

Philippians 2:12-13

Code: B170322

Legalism is harder to avoid than you might think. Don’t assume you’re not a legalist just because you’re not trying to work your way into heaven. It’s not that simple.

As we saw last time, the Pharisees believed they could keep the Mosaic law through their own efforts. But that wasn’t the full extent of their legalism. They also took simple elements of God’s law and buried them under a mountain of fine print. John MacArthur elaborates on this in his sermon, “Jesus Is Lord of the Sabbath, Part 1”:

It was God who defined Sabbath in Genesis 2:3, He ceased completely from the work of creation. And so, Sabbath came to refer to that day when people ceased working. That’s all the Old Testament says. It simply says you’re not to work. . . .

But the hypocritical Pharisees and scribes had developed all kinds of things to make Sabbath worse than every other day because of its unbelievable restraints. . . .

You couldn’t travel more than three thousand feet. Some say you can’t go more than nineteen hundred and ninety-nine steps, if you take the two thousandth step, you’ve violated Sabbath. This would be from Friday when the sun goes down till Saturday when it goes down. . . .

No burden could be carried that weighed more than a dried fig, or half a fig carried two times. . . . If you threw an object in the air and caught it with the other hand, it was a sin. If you caught it in the same hand, it wasn’t. If a person was in one place and he reached out his arm for food and the Sabbath overtook him, he would have to drop the food and not return his arm, or he would be carrying a burden and that would be sin. A tailor couldn’t carry his needle. The scribe couldn’t carry his pen. A pupil couldn’t carry his books. . . . Wool couldn’t be dyed. Nothing could be sold. Nothing could be bought. Nothing could be washed. A letter could not be sent. . . . No fire could be lit. Cold water could be poured on warm, but warm couldn’t be poured on cold. It goes on and on.

The Pharisees’ proclivity for such absurdly detailed laws provoked a blistering rebuke from the Lord. Drawing from Isaiah 29:13, Jesus renounced their burdensome legal system: “In vain do they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men” (Mark 7:7).

Thankfully, we don’t have to live under the oppressive minutia of pharisaical rules. Nonetheless, many Christians do live their lives in bondage to a similar strain of legalism—one where their Christian identity is largely defined by man-made rules.

That was certainly the case in my earliest experiences as a new Christian. The church I attended had roots in the holiness movement, and the pastor was certainly old school. He believed that salvation was solely by God’s grace, but maintaining that salvation was another story altogether.

My early Christian education primarily revolved around what not to do. Drinking, gambling, dancing, and close proximity to the opposite sex were all strictly taboo. Maintaining that code of conduct made me a member in good standing at my local congregation. Admittedly, I believe following those rules spared me from a lot of personal grief as a young man. But trying to live out those prohibitions was detrimental to my theology—I developed an inverted view of sanctification, believing that good works were the requirement rather than the natural fruit of spiritual regeneration.

That sort of behavioral sanctification has become synonymous with the fundamentalist movement in America. It’s unfortunate, because fundamentalism has far more noble origins. It was the bulwark against the liberal theology that invaded America a century ago after destroying the Protestant churches in Europe. John MacArthur acknowledges the heroic biblical roots of fundamentalism:

Evangelicals from both sides of the Atlantic united in writing and publishing a series of articles titled The Fundamentals. Originally published in twelve volumes, those articles laid the basis for a movement that became known as fundamentalism. With men like J. Gresham Machen, James Orr, and R. A. Torrey leading the way, fundamentalism employed sound doctrine to combat liberalism, higher criticism, evolutionary theory, and modernism. [1] John MacArthur, Reckless Faith (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 1994), 93–94.

Sadly, almost immediately after its greatest triumph, the fundamentalist movement began to splinter and then morph into a completely different animal. One faction began to pursue academic credibility to an unhealthy and compromising degree. The other side overreacted by shunning serious biblical scholarship altogether and shifting their focus to matters of external behavior and appearance.

This right wing of the fundamentalist movement was relentlessly fragmented by militant separatism. Legalism led to an extreme emphasis on external issues. Petty concerns often replaced serious doctrine as the matter for discussion and debate. This branch of the movement quickly reached the point where some of its adherents spent more time arguing about men’s hair length and women’s clothing than they spent defending the real fundamentals of the faith. [2] Reckless Faith, 95–96.

Fundamentalists are now widely derided as legalists by most Christians, and as party poopers by an unbelieving world. And that’s a tragic outcome for a movement that I still hold strong affections for, with founders whom I count among my spiritual forefathers.

Nonetheless, the trajectory of fundamentalism furnishes us with a powerful lesson on the dangers of creeping legalism. Spiritual identity must not be bound up in external behavior or appearance. Yet that’s what we see every time we drive through an Amish community. It’s what we hear every time a Seventh Day Adventist admonishes us about Sunday worship. And it’s what we display every time we start legitimizing our Christianity on the basis of the things we do or don’t do.

Does this mean we shouldn’t concern ourselves with external righteousness? In the words of the apostle Paul: “May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it” (Romans 6:2). Our growth in righteousness matters to God. But as I stated earlier, our sanctification is the result of true conversion, not the guarantee. That’s not to say that righteousness occurs passively, but rather when you “work out your salvation” (Philippians 2:12) you are only able to do that because God “is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13). It says “His good pleasure” and not “our self-restraint”—if our good works only come through gritted teeth, they may well point to a heart that is not yet regenerated by the Holy Spirit.

Ezekiel beautifully points to the external righteousness that manifests in the lives of those who are internally transformed by the Holy Spirit: “I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances” (Ezekiel 36:27). We should give glory to God for even the good things we do. As John MacArthur argues, justification isn’t where God’s work ends, but rather where it begins:

Those who argue against lordship salvation often base their theology on the faulty assumption that the work of God in salvation stops with justification. The rest, many believe, is purely the believer’s own effort. Sanctification, obedience, surrender, and all aspects of discipleship are left up to believers to do or not do as they choose. Thus while touting salvation by grace apart from works, they have actually established a system that is almost wholly dependent on human works for any measure of practical righteousness.

Thankfully, the gospel according to Jesus does not abandon believers to their own energies. The glorious justification our Lord spoke of is only the beginning of the abundant life He promised (cf. John 10:10). “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water’” (John 7:38). The salvation He promised brings not only justification, but also sanctification, union with Him, the indwelling Holy Spirit, and an eternity of blessing. [3] John MacArthur, The Gospel According to Jesus, 3rd ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2008), 200.

God is the author of our salvation and the power source for a transformed life. True liberty from the shackles of legalism awaits those of us who find our Christian identity and value, not in what we do or don’t do, but in Whom we belong to. In other words, our position in Christ is a far more trustworthy gauge of our spiritual status than our behavior.

Available online at: https://www.gty.org/library/blog/B170322
COPYRIGHT ©2017 Grace to You

You may reproduce this Grace to You content for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Grace to You’s Copyright Policy (http://www.gty.org/connect/copyright).

March 22, 2017: Verse of the day

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Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift! (9:15)

This simple concluding benediction is one of the richest statements in Scripture. God’s indescribable gift is, of course, His Son—the most magnanimous, glorious, wonderful gift ever given, the gift that inspires all other gifts.

For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. (Isa. 9:6)

“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)

He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? (Rom. 8:32)
But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law. (Gal. 4:4)

By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (1 John 4:9–10)

God’s gift of the Lord Jesus Christ is the basis for Christian giving. Jesus was the “grain of wheat [that] falls into the earth and dies, … but if it dies, it bears much fruit” (John 12:24). God, as it were, dies, it bears much fruit” (John 12:24). God, as it were, planted Him as a seed and reaped a harvest of redeemed people. Believers are called to “be imitators of God, as beloved children” (Eph. 5:1), and they are never more like Him than when they give.

Subsequent history reveals how the Corinthians responded to Paul’s plea in chapters 8 and 9 regarding the offering. Sometime after writing 2 Corinthians, Paul visited Corinth as he had planned (2 Cor. 12:14; 13:1–2). He remained there about three months (Acts 20:1–3), during which time he penned Romans. In that letter, Paul revealed that the Corinthians had responded positively concerning the collection:

Now, I am going to Jerusalem serving the saints. For Macedonia and Achaia have been pleased to make a contribution for the poor among the saints in Jerusalem. Yes, they were pleased to do so, and they are indebted to them. For if the Gentiles have shared in their spiritual things, they are indebted to minister to them also in material things. (Rom. 15:25–27)

Not only had they contributed, but “they were pleased to do so”; they were joyful, happy, cheerful givers. They were on the path to true prosperity.

MacArthur New Testament Commentary

March 22, 2017: Daily Devotional Guide Collection

March 22

The Model of Witnessing

Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.

1 Corinthians 11:1

 

Christ is the perfect model to imitate in witnessing to others. First, He was available. Although there were times when He left the crowds, Jesus was regularly among the people, even when He was busy.

Second, He wasn’t partial. Often Jesus was with common people, lepers, prostitutes, and tax collectors—those belonging to the lower classes socially and morally. But He also helped a Roman centurion, a man of dignity and stature (Matt. 8:5–13), and ministered to wealthy Jairus, whose daughter needed a miracle (Mark 5:22–24, 35–43). Jesus reflected the mind of God, who is no respecter of persons (Acts 10:34).

Third, He was sensitive to the pain of others. In Mark 5, a lady with a hemorrhage for twelve years reached out and touched Christ’s garment. Jesus asked, “Who touched My garments?” (v. 30) out of concern for her.

Last, He secured a public confession from those who believed in Him, such as the blind man (John 9:1–41), and the Samaritan leper (Luke 17:11–19).

Follow Christ’s example as you witness to others.[1]


March 22 The Humility of Jesus’ Servanthood

“Who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond–servant, and being made in the likeness of men.”

Philippians 2:6–7

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Jesus is the role model of the suffering servant.

Jesus not only gave up His divine privileges when He emptied Himself, but He also became a servant. For us, this is the next phase in His supreme example of humility. Paul’s phrase “the form of a bond–servant” can also be translated “the essence of a slave.” Christ’s servanthood was not just external—it extended to the essential, down–to–earth role of a bond–slave doing the will of His Father.

We would expect Jesus, the God–man, to be a servant only in the truest fashion. His servitude was not performed like a stage player putting on and taking off the costume of a servant. Jesus truly became a servant. He perfectly fulfilled everything Isaiah predicted about Him (52:13–14). Jesus was the Messiah who was a suffering servant.

Christ’s entire earthly ministry is the yardstick by which we can measure servanthood. As God, He owned everything; as the servant, He had to borrow everything: a place to be born, a boat in which to cross the Sea of Galilee and preach from, a donkey (itself a symbol of humility and servitude) to ride into Jerusalem for His triumphal entry, a room to celebrate His final Passover in, and a grave to be buried in.

Our Savior acknowledged His role as a servant very simply: “I am among you as the one who serves” (Luke 22:27). And it was all done with love, with consistency, with humility, without the pretense of outward form.

As we continue to look to our Lord Jesus as the role model of humility, the challenge for us is to follow His attitude and practice. Paul instructs those who would be servants of Christ, “Let love be without hypocrisy…. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord” (Rom. 12:9–11).

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Suggestions for Prayer: Thank and praise the Lord that Jesus was such a humble but willing servant on your behalf.

For Further Study: Isaiah 52:13–53:12 is known as the Suffering Servant passage. As you read it, write down the various ways it describes Jesus’ suffering. ✧ How is His humility in evidence?[2]


MARCH 22

INFINITE EXCELLENCE

Let them praise the name of the LORD: for his name alone is excellent; his glory is above the earth and heaven.

—Psalm 148:13

I once heard Dr. George D. Watson, one of the great Bible teachers of his generation, point out that men can have two kinds of love for God—the love of gratitude or the love of excellence. He urged that we go on from gratefulness to a love of God just because He is God and because of the excellence of His character.

Unfortunately, God’s children rarely go beyond the boundaries of gratitude. I seldom hear anyone in worshipful prayer admiring and praising God for His eternal excellence.

Many of us are strictly “Santa Claus” Christians. We think of God as putting up the Christmas tree and putting our gifts underneath. That is only an elementary kind of love.

We need to go on. We need to know the blessing of worshiping in the presence of God without thought of wanting to rush out again. We need to be delighted in the presence of utter, infinite excellence. WHT087

Lord, quiet my heart and minister to my spirit. I’ll take time to unhurriedly meditate on Your infinite excellence and worship You without asking for a thing! Amen. [3]


March 22

Posture for Gladness

Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.—Matt. 5:12

The Christian’s response to persecution and affliction should not be to retreat and hide. Jesus told us we are the “salt of the earth” and the “light of the world” (Matt. 5:13–14). For our salt to flavor the earth and our light to lighten the world, we must be active in the world. The gospel is not given to be hidden but to enlighten. “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (v. 16).

When we become Christ’s salt and light, our salt will sting the world’s open wounds of sin, and our light will irritate its eyes that are accustomed to darkness. But even when our salt and light are resented, rejected, and thrown back into our face, we should “rejoice, and be glad.”

The meaning of “be glad” is to exult, to rejoice greatly, to be overjoyed. Jesus used the imperative mood, thus commanding us to be glad. Not to be glad when we suffer for Christ’s sake is to be untrusting and disobedient.

The world can take away a great deal from God’s people, but it cannot take away their joy and their happiness. When people attack us for Christ’s sake, they are really attacking Him (cf. Gal. 6:17; Col. 1:24). And their attacks can do us no more permanent damage than they can do to Him.

So rejoice in the privilege we have been given to be salt and light, no matter the reaction.

ASK YOURSELF
Gladness joins many of the other qualities that make up the beatitudes, character traits that are unnatural enough to be impossible without the Holy Spirit’s empowerment. So, what does it tell you when gladness bubbles up from within you? How can fear of persecution rival the joy of knowing that Christ is living and active in your heart?[4]

MARCH 22

GOD’S OVERCOMERS

These…have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

Revelation 7:14

 

I insist that if we are burdened with genuine concern, we have the responsibility of examining the true spiritual condition of men and women within the church’s ranks.

We do live in a time of soft, easy Christianity. It is an era marked by a polite “nibbling” around the edges of the Word of God. There is a mind-set within present-day Christianity that supposes one should get into trouble or suffer embarrassment for Christ’s sake!

My brethren, what does it mean to be loyal to Jesus Christ? To confess that Jesus Himself is more important to us than anything else in the world?

Many find it hard to understand how large numbers of Christian believers could have died for their faith in our own generation! With a sense of distant admiration, we call them simple-hearted nationals. God calls them overcomers!

Professing Christians in our North American churches can hardly comprehend so costly a price for the faith we take for granted. Material prosperity and popular acceptance have sapped the vitality of our Christian witness!

 

Lord, I want to be counted among Your overcomers, and I pray especially for my brothers and sisters in Christ who profess Your name in antagonistic cultures.[5]


March 22 Praying with Commitment

“Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matt. 6:10).

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Your prayers make a difference!

Matthew 6:10 literally says, “Whatever You wish to have happen, let it happen immediately. As Your will is done in Heaven, so let it be done on earth.” That’s a prayer of active commitment to God’s will.

Many people don’t pray like that because they don’t understand God’s character. They think their prayers don’t matter and that God will impose His will on them no matter what they do. They tend to pray with passive resignation, indifference, or resentment.

I remember praying such a prayer. After my freshman year in college, I was in a serious auto accident. The driver lost control of the car at about seventy-five miles per hour, and it rolled several times before coming to a stop. I was thrown clear of the vehicle and ended up sliding down the highway on my backside for about a hundred yards. I lost a lot of skin and had some third-degree burns and other injuries, but fortunately I didn’t break any bones.

I was conscious during the entire ordeal and vividly remember thinking, All right, God. If You’re going to fight this way, I give up! I can’t handle this! You see, I knew God was calling me into the ministry, but I’d been focusing my life in another direction.

I think God used that experience to get my attention, and my prayer of passive resignation soon turned to active commitment as He refined my heart and drew me to Himself.

Perhaps God has dealt severely with you, too. If so, it’s only because He loves you and wants to produce the fruit of righteousness in you (Heb. 12:11). Don’t despise His chastening, and don’t be fatalistic or resentful in your prayers. Godly prayers make a difference (James 5:16); so commit yourself to praying expectantly, knowing that God is gracious and wise and always responds for His glory and your highest good (Rom. 8:28).

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer:  If you tend to pray with indifference, passive resignation, or resentment, ask God’s forgiveness. Study His character, and cultivate deep communion with Him through disciplined, trusting prayer.

For Further Study: Read Luke 18:1–8. ✧ Why did Jesus tell this parable? ✧ What principles do you see here that apply to your life?[6]


MARCH 22

GOD IS GLORIFIED IN OUR MORAL VICTORIES

For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.

ROMANS 8:6

In the Pauline epistles, the gravitational pull of the heart in one direction or another is called “the mind.” In the eighth chapter of Romans, for instance, when Paul refers to the “mind” he is referring to the sum of our dominant desires.

The mere intellect, then, is not the mind: the mind is intellect plus an emotional tug strong enough to determine action!

As Christians, our only safety lies in complete honesty. We must surrender our hearts to God so that we have no unholy desires, then let the Scriptures pronounce their judgment on a contemplated course. If the Scriptures condemn an object, we must accept that judgment and conform to it, no matter how we may for the moment feel about it.

To want a thing, or feel that we want it, and then to turn from it because we see that it is contrary to the will of God is to win a great battle on the way to spiritual mindedness.

To bring our desires to the cross and allow them to be nailed there with Christ is a good and a beautiful thing.

To be tempted and yet to glorify God in the midst of it is to honor Him where it counts. This is more pleasing to God than any amount of sheltered and untempted piety could ever be!

God is always glorified when He wins a moral victory over us, and we are always benefited, immeasurably and gloriously benefited!

The blood of Christ will cleanse not only actual sins but the very inward desires so that we will not want to sin. A blessed state indeed, and blessed are they that reach it![7]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 94). Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman.

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

[3] Tozer, A. W., & Eggert, R. (2015). Tozer on the almighty god: a 365-day devotional. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

[4] MacArthur, J. (2008). Daily readings from the life of Christ (p. 90). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

[5] Tozer, A. W. (2015). Mornings with tozer: daily devotional readings. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

[6] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 94). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

[7] Tozer, A. W., & Smith, G. B. (2015). Evenings with tozer: daily devotional readings. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.