Daily Archives: March 5, 2017

March 5, 2018 Truth2Freedom Briefing Report (US•World•Christian)

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Top News – 3/5/2017

Netanyahu to urge Russia to say ‘nyet’ to Iranian ops near Israel border
Israel hopes to reach “specific understandings” with Russia to prevent Iran from permanently setting up a base of operations in Syria against Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the cabinet on Sunday. At the opening of the weekly cabinet meeting, Netanyahu announced that he will be traveling to Moscow on Thursday for a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, and the focus of the discussions will be on current efforts to put together new arrangements in Syria.

Stranded in Aleppo: Syrians claiming to be Jews seek aid from Israel
A family from Syria’s war-torn Aleppo is appealing to the state of Israel for refuge, citing their Jewish heritage… “There is nobody who can help us to get out of this place,” said 30-year-old Aleppo resident Razan (real name withheld) in an audio recording aired on the radio station. “We are asking that the Israeli government does not abandon us, but helps us get out of here to another country. I ask that the government demands from the entire world to do this. All my love and loyalty is to this religion [Judaism].”

Headstones toppled in Brooklyn Jewish cemetery
Headstones were found toppled in a Brooklyn Jewish cemetery Sunday morning, ABC7NY reported. It is the latest in a rash of vandalism of Jewish burial grounds. Dov Hikind, a New York State Assemblyman, tweeted photos of the Washington Cemetery vandalism. The cemetery is on Midwood’s Bay Parkway.

US delegation in Israel to study relocation of embassy to Jerusalem
An official United States delegation led by Congressman Ron DeSantis (R-FL) is briefly visiting Israel on Saturday and Sunday to study the possibility of relocating the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. “The delegation is in Jerusalem to learn first hand what it will mean to move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem,” said Ruth Lieberman, a friend of DeSantis and a political advisor in Israel.

Somalia drought: More than 100 die from hunger in one region
Somalia’s Prime Minister, Hassan Ali Haire, says 110 people have died from hunger in a single region in the past 48 hours amid a severe drought. The figure for the south-western Bay region is the first official death toll announced during the crisis. The full impact of the drought on the country is still unknown. Humanitarian groups fear a full-blown famine will follow.

Mexico opens legal aid centres to fight US deportations
Mexico has opened legal aid centres at consulates in 50 US cities, in a move designed to protect its citizens from tougher immigration enforcement. Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray reaffirmed concerns about the human rights of Mexicans in the US. But migrant defence centres would not “promote illegality,” he said.

Loretta Lynch: Need more marching, blood, death on streets
The Obama administration’s former Attorney General Loretta Lynch has made an impassioned video plea for more marching, blood and death on the streets – a video that was later posted on the Facebook page of Senate Democrats as “words of inspiration.” The video is less than a minute long and begins by stating that people are experiencing “great fear and uncertainty,” with the unstated implication it is due to Donald Trump’s takeover of the White House.

In day of pro-Trump rallies, California march turns violent
Supporters of Donald Trump clashed with counter-protesters at a rally in the famously left-leaning city of Berkeley, California, on a day of mostly peaceful gatherings in support of the U.S. president across the country. At a park in Berkeley, across the bay from San Francisco, protesters from both sides struck one another over the head with wooden sticks and Trump supporters fired pepper spray as police in riot gear stood at a distance.

China cuts growth goal, puts focus on reform and ‘firewall’ against risks
China has cut its growth target this year as the world’s second-largest economy pushes through painful reforms to address a rapid build-up in debt, and erects a “firewall” against financial risks. China aims to expand its economy by around 6.5 percent, Premier Li Keqiang said in his work report at the opening of the annual meeting of parliament on Sunday.

Could Artificial Earthquakes Trigger Disaster? Oklahoma’s Risk “Now Equal To That Of San Francisco”
In its annual national earthquake outlook , the U.S. Geological Survey reported Wednesday that a large portion of Oklahoma and parts of central California have the highest risk for a damaging quakes this year: between 5 and 12 percent.

Treasury Department burning through cash as debt ceiling approaches
The Treasury Department has been rapidly spending its large cash reserves ever since President Trump took office, a move that complies with federal law, but could also make it harder for the government to stay under the debt ceiling once the limit kicks in again later this month.Purge from cache

British University Bans All “Politically Incorrect” Words: Here’s The List…
Cardiff Metropolitan University is at the forefront of political correctness sensitivity. The University just banned lecturers from using any sexist or insensitive Words. The list of banned words is wider than you might think… including mankind, homosexual, housewife, manmade, and sportsmanship.

California school district will no longer take part in funeral processions for Navy SEALs, sailors
A Southern California school district will stop taking part in funeral processions for U.S. sailors and Navy SEALs killed overseas, which have drawn thousands of students.

Trump expected to sign new travel ban into US by early next week
President Trump is expected to sign a revised executive order early next week banning travel from several Middle Eastern and African counties, the president’s latest effort to prevent radical Islamic terrorism on U.S. soil.


Beware The New Age Paganism Taught In ‘The Shack’ Movie Opening Tonight Across The Country

Avoid the New Age Universalism heresy of ‘The Shack’

“But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.” Galatians 1:8,9 (KJV)

Let’s not beat around the bush here, let’s get right to the point. Tonight, a movie based on the bestseller ‘The Shack‘ opens in theaters across the country. The movie, like the book, presents ‘another Jesus’ not found within the pages of Scripture, and presents the Trinity as being both male and female.

Burning Down The Shack:

I do not know anything about this man’s ministry, and as such cannot recommend him for anything outside of his uncovering of The Shack. He seems pretty good, but please use your discernment if you listen to anything else he teaches. 

God the Father appears as a black woman named “Papa”, (whaa…??) perfectly fitting right in with the current gender confusion being promoted by the LGBTQP and the Far Left Liberals. The Shack reduces Almighty God to a kind of Mormon “god-man” who isn’t really much different or better than his creation. This is NOT the God of the Bible.

“God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?” Numbers 23:19 (KJV)

Jesus is presented as a kick-back Middle Easterner with rolled up sleeves who is your buddy, and the Holy Spirit is presented as an Asian woman. So instead of showing us the Trinity as the Bible teaches it, we are presented with rainbow-flavored unholy mess. God at no point represents any aspect of Himself as being female, does not identify with being female at any time.

“For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.” 1 John 5:7 (KJV)

In order to push all your buttons and get you emotionally addicted, The Shack tells the story of a sweet young girl who is kidnapped, brutalized and then killed. A horrific story line to say the least, just ask any parent. And it is while you are in this emotionally-driven state that you are then presented with a false gospel about a mythical god who judges no one and only offers “love, peace and hope”. But it’s a false hope from the start.

A Universal God Offering Universal Salvation

Here is a quote from the book, and you tell me if it lines up with the Bible or not:

“Those who love me come from every system that exists. They were Buddhists or Mormons, Baptists or Muslims…. I have no desire to make them Christian, but I do want to join them in their transformation into sons and daughters of my Papa, into my brothers and sisters.” – The Shack’sJesus.” [William Young, The Shack (Windblown Media, 2007) ,p.182]

The Bible teaches that in order to get into Heaven, you must become born again as Jesus Himself commands us to do.

“Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” John 3:3 (KJV)

And the Bible goes on to say that the born again followers of Jesus are in fact called Christians

“And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.” Acts 11:26 (KJV)

NTEB recommends that you stay far away from this very deceptive movie based on a very deceptive book

So when The Shack has their Jesus character say that unconverted followers of religions of Mormonism, the JW’s, Buddhists, Muslims, etc can come as they are and stay as they are, that’s not just a different interpretation, that’s absolute heresy.

If you are a Bible believer, you won’t fall for this New Age slop for a second. I am not concerned about you guys. But for all you “Sunday Christians” who walk around spouting “don’t judge!” this movie views you as its target. The Shack presents a phony “jesus” with a false gospel, designed to deny Biblical truth and deceive the masses.

The Shack movie is beautifully filmed with premium cinematography and a gorgeous soundtrack that will tug at your heartstrings as it feeds you heresy.

Stay away. Far, far away.

“And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:” 2 Thessalonians 2:11 (KJV)


The post Beware The New Age Paganism Taught In ‘The Shack’ Movie Opening Tonight Across The Country appeared first on Now The End Begins.

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A real school of witchcraft is opening this summer in an ancient British castle

Over at AOL, Beth Sawicki informs us that if you have a wand and good humor, you can get involved in a real school of witchcraft:

While you’ll unfortunately never get the chance to roam the halls of Hogwarts with Harry, Ron, and Hermione, this is definitely the next best thing.

A real school of witchcraft is opening in the United Kingdom this summer. The Bothwell School of Witchcraft is held in a 15th century castle, Herstmonceux Castle in East Sussex. Just like in Harry Potter’s world, students are sorted into four houses, compete against each other, take lessons in witchcraft, and end the term with a fabulous banquet.

The school is modeled after a “murder mystery,” an extended game where every player has a specific role and interacts with other characters. According to its website, “all you’ll need is a wand and good humour. If you’ve never experienced anything like this before, don’t worry. We cater for all backgrounds; you can get as much or as little involved as you like and we will have all you need to have a great time.”

View article →


Former Obama Attorney General Loretta Lynch Calls For ‘Marching, Bleeding And Death In The Streets’

The Obama administration’s former Attorney General Loretta Lynch has made an impassioned video plea for more marching, blood and death on the streets – a video that was later posted on the Facebook page of Senate Democrats as “words of inspiration.”

The video is less than a minute long and begins by stating that people are experiencing “great fear and uncertainty,” with the unstated implication it is due to Donald Trump’s takeover of the White House.

Without offering any specifics, Lynch goes on to say that “our rights” are “being assailed, being trampled on and even being rolled back.”

But the strongest words come in a statement that seems to suggest the answer is street action that will inevitably turn bloody and deadly.

“I know that this is a time of great fear and uncertainty for so many people,” Lynch says. “I know it’s a time of concern for people, who see our rights being assailed, being trampled on and even being rolled back. I know that this is difficult, but I remind you that this has never been easy. We have always had to work to move this country forward to achieve the great ideals of our Founding Fathers.”

Lynch, who is scheduled to receive the Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medal of Law from the University of Virginia, goes on to say: “It has been people, individuals who have banded together, ordinary people who simply saw what needed to be done and came together and supported those ideals who have made the difference. They’ve marched, they’ve bled and yes, some of them died. This is hard. Every good thing is. We have done this before. We can do this again.”

Lynch succeeded Eric Holder as Barack Obama’s attorney general in 2014.

Lynch is most well-remembered for her famous private meeting with Bill Clinton, her former boss, on her airplane while a federal investigation into his wife, Hillary Clinton, and the private email server she maintained as secretary of state was under way. Obama stood behind her when the news leaked out about the secret meeting on her plane sitting on the tarmac of Phoenix airport.

Lynch said her conversation with Bill Clinton did not touch on the FBI’s investigation into his wife’s private email setup at State.

Lesser known about Lynch’s history is that she was the prosecutor assigned to the biggest bank scandal in history – the probe of HSBC’s involvement in money laundering for terrorists and drug cartels lodged in 2012 and a scandal revealed first in WND, long before she was nominated for the post of attorney general.

While large fines were levied against the biggest bank in the world, no officials were charged or prosecuted by Lynch. While the subject was raised in Senate confirmation hearings, 10 Republicans approved her nomination — Kelly Ayotte, Ron Johnson, Mark Kirk, Rob Portman, Thad Cochran, Susan Collins, Jeff Flake, Lindsey Graham, Orrin Hatch and Mitch McConnell. source


Top Headlines – 3/5/2017

In Gaza, the road to escalation grows shorter

Ministers debated evacuating Gaza border towns

Tony Blair denies pitching to be Donald Trump’s Middle East envoy at secret White House meeting

Cuomo, Citing ‘Wave of Anti-Semitism,’ Pays Impromptu Visit to Israel

‘The Lebanese Army will fight alongside Hezbollah in a war with Israel’

UN: If confirmed, chemical attacks in Mosul a war crime

Wave of ISIS car bombs targets Iraqi troops in west Mosul

Pentagon: Over 30 airstrikes against Al Qaeda in two straight nights this week

Erdogan anger as Germany-Turkey war of words escalates

Iran tests sophisticated Russian-made air defense system

Oklahoma lawmaker asks Muslims: ‘Do you beat your wife?’

Trump expected to sign revised travel ban Monday

Mexico tells illegals in U.S. ‘Don’t open door’ for ICE

Immigration courts: record number of cases, many problems

Trump reportedly puts possible Russia deal on hold, citing recent provocations

Trump flashes anger over Sessions recusal, Russia stories in tense Oval Office meeting

The New DNC Chair Had a Hillary Clinton-Esque Email Scandal – Unlike VP Mike Pence, DNC’s Tom Perez violated email laws

Pence criticizes AP for publishing his wife’s email address

Trump accuses Obama of tapping his phones, invokes Watergate

Trump tweets that Obama had his wires tapped on eve of election win

Senators warn: FBI, other agencies work in buildings owned by China

Trump Inherits a Secret Cyberwar Against North Korean Missiles

Trump administration to propose ‘dramatic reductions’ in foreign aid

Trump critics ‘aren’t giving him a chance,’ say supporters in small nationwide rallies

Arrests made after some ‘March 4 Trump’ rallies turn violent

Treasury Department burning through cash as debt ceiling approaches

5.7 magnitude earthquake hits near Surigao, Philippines

5.0 magnitude earthquake hits east of the South Sandwich Islands

Ruiz volcano in Colombia erupts to 25,000ft

Sheveluch volcano on Kamchatka, Russia erupts to 23,000ft

Somali president declares ‘national disaster’ over drought

Somalia drought: At least 110 die as fears of famine grow

Surge in children being admitted to hospital for sleeping disorders with many kept awake by technology

US police agencies with their own DNA databases stir debate

Backlash grows over Disney’s gay ‘Beauty and the Beast’ character

Russia May Ban Disney’s ‘Beauty and the Beast’ Over Gay Character

Josh Gad addresses gay ‘Beauty and the Beast’ character at L.A. premiere: ‘It’s important’

Gay Mardi Gras lights up Sydney

American cocaine use is way up. Colombia’s coca boom might be why.

Facebook begins ‘fake news’ crackdown with ‘disputed’ story tag roll out

Posted: 04 Mar 2017 08:19 PM PST

Facebook has begun rolling out its much hyped ‘fake news’ crackdown initiative, launching its ‘disputed’ news tag on stories deemed false by fact checking organisations…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Evangelicals across UK commemorate 500th anniversary of the Reformation

Posted: 04 Mar 2017 08:13 PM PST

Evangelicals across the UK will commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation by launching a set of prayer and Bible study events starting in April….

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Disney Downplays LGBT Angle Amid ‘Beast’ Backlash, but Can’t Dodge Gay Cartoon Kiss

Posted: 04 Mar 2017 08:07 PM PST

Amidst the controversy over a ground-breaking gay scene in Disney’s upcoming “Beauty and the Beast” movie, director Bill Condon and cast member Josh Gad appear…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

110 Dead in Somalia from hunger in past 48 hours of drought

Posted: 04 Mar 2017 07:32 PM PST

Somalia’s prime minister says 110 people have died from hunger in the past 48 hours in a single region as a severe drought threatens millions…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

UK University Bans ‘Discriminatory’ words like ‘Manpower’ and ‘Christian Name’

Posted: 04 Mar 2017 07:06 PM PST

Cardiff University in the UK has told students and staff to avoid gendered words like “sportsmanship” and “manpower,” also saying that “first name” or “forename”…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

New Jersey Boy Scouts Agree to Pay $18,000 for Excluding Girl Who Identifies as Boy

Posted: 04 Mar 2017 07:01 PM PST

A New Jersey branch of the Boy Scouts has agreed to pay $18,000 to the family of a nine-year-old girl who identifies as a boy…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

6 Major Problems With ‘The Shack’

Posted: 04 Mar 2017 02:19 PM PST

(By Micahel Youssef) This spring, the New York Times bestselling book The Shack by William P. Young will come to the big screen. The emotionally…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Alabama Theatre Bans “Beauty and the Beast” over “Gay Character”

Posted: 04 Mar 2017 02:12 PM PST

An Alabama theatre owner is banning “Beauty and the Beast” because he doesn’t want to expose his customers to the new gay character in the…

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?


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March 5, 2017: Verse of the day

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15 A proper sense of God’s holiness sheds light on our unworthiness (cf. Isa 6:1–5; Lk 5:8). For comparable passages of national lament, see Psalms 44, 60, 74, 79–80, 83, 85, 90, 108, 126, 129, and 137.

Expositor’s Bible Commentary

9:15 no one can stand before You. All were reckoned guilty and had no right to stand in God’s presence, yet they came penitently seeking the grace of forgiveness.

MacArthur Study Bible

9:15 Ezra knows that God is both just and merciful. (For God as “just,” or “righteous,” see also Deut. 32:4; Ps. 119:137.) The very existence of the postexilic remnant proves his mercy; yet equally God would be justified in bringing renewed judgment on the sinful people. The prayer serves as a petition for mercy, and it prompts Ezra and his close associates to turn the people from their sin.

ESV Study Bible

9:15 can stand The Hebrew term used here is a legal term meaning “to be acquitted” (Pss 1:5; 130:3). None are regarded as guiltless before Yahweh.

Faithlife Study Bible

9:15 Ezra’s conclusion is that even now the people live only because of God’s grace.

Reformation Study Bible

March 5, 2017: Daily Devotional Guide Collection

March 5

Ready to Suffer

Since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind.

1 Peter 4:1

 

One of the blessings of being a Christian is our identification with Christ and its resulting privileges. However, just so we won’t take those blessings for granted, assuming that they will result in our being loved and respected by the world, God also allows us to suffer. In fact, the apostle Peter in his first epistle clearly shows that those most blessed in the faith suffer the most.

The Christian life is a call to glory through a journey of suffering. That’s because those in Christ are inevitably at odds with their culture and society. All Satan–energized systems are actively at odds with the things of Christ. The apostle John said a person can’t love both God and the world (1 John 2:15), and James said, “Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God” (James 4:4).[1]


March 5 The Nearness of God

“He will draw near to you.”

James 4:8

✧✧✧

God will come near to the truly humble, who have by faith sought to be close to Him.

One of the greatest promises in the Bible is that God responds to the humble and draws near to them. Such people will yearn for a closeness to God by which they can know Him, love Him, learn His Word, praise Him, pray to Him, and fellowship with Him. In summary, the humble will be true worshipers, those who “worship the Father in spirit and truth” (John 4:23).

John 4:23 concludes with the statement, “for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers.” This strongly implies that God wants to have a relationship with the humble, which means He will respond to us. This idea of the Lord reaching out to us and responding to our humble obedience is also found in the Old Testament, when David instructed Solomon: “As for you, my son Solomon, know the God of your father, and serve Him with a whole heart and a willing mind; for the Lord searches all hearts, and understands every intent of the thoughts. If you seek Him, He will let you find Him; but if you forsake Him, He will reject you forever” (1 Chron. 28:9).

The principle of God’s drawing near to the humble is illustrated by Jesus’ parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11–32). First, the prodigal son manifests humility and repentance: “Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son” (vv. 18–19). Next, his behavior pictures a longing to draw near to God: “he got up and came to his father” (v. 20). Finally, there is the picture of God drawing near to us: “while he was still a long way off, his father saw him, and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him, and kissed him” (v. 20).

You might not find yourself in the same predicament as the prodigal son did, but you will experience the same response from God if you have humbly drawn near to Him in faith and worshiped Him in spirit and in truth.

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer: Pray that God would help you be a true worshiper of Him.

For Further Study: Read and meditate on Psalm 40. What things did David find true about God’s nearness?[2]


MARCH 5

A ROYAL DISPLAY

In his hand are the deep places of the earth: the strength of the hills is his also. The sea is his, and he made it: and his hands formed the dry land.

—Psalm 95:4-5

A new rich mine would be opened in our consciousness if we could learn to recognize God in nature as well as in grace. For the God of nature is also the God of grace….

Because sin has injured us so deeply, and because the whole transaction of repentance and deliverance from the guilt and power of iniquity makes such a mighty impression upon us emotionally, we naturally tend to appreciate the work of God in redemption more than in nature. But everything God does is praiseworthy and deserves our deepest admiration. Whether He is making or redeeming a world, He is perfect in all His doings and glorious in all His goings forth….

If we miss seeing God in His works we deprive ourselves of the sight of a royal display of wisdom and power so elevating, so ennobling, so awe-inspiring as to make all attempts at description futile. Such a sight the angels behold day and night forever and ask nothing more to make them perpetually satisfied. OGM145-147

Lord, I so often look at the grandeur and the infinite variety of Your creation, and I bow in worship before the great Creator. Thank You for providing this natural world for us as a glimpse of Your majestic nature. Amen. [3]


March 5

What Results from Mercy?

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.—Matt. 5:7

When we are merciful and we receive mercy, we experience God’s cycle of mercy. God is merciful to us by saving us through Christ; in obedience we are merciful to others; and God in faithfulness gives us even more mercy, pouring out blessing for our needs and withholding severe chastening for our sin.

But only those who are merciful qualify to receive mercy. David said of the Lord, “With the kind You show Yourself kind” (2 Sam. 22:26). Yet James says, “For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy” (James 2:13). The emphatic truth is that God will respond with chastening for an unforgiving disciple.

Jesus is not speaking, however, of our mercy gaining us salvation. We cannot earn salvation by being merciful. We must be saved by God’s mercy before we can truly be merciful. We cannot work our way into heaven even by a lifetime of merciful deeds, any more than by good works of any sort. God does not give mercy for merit; He gives mercy in grace. He gives mercy because it is needed, not because it is earned.

If we have received from a holy God unlimited mercy that cancels our unpayable debt of sin, it surely follows that we should be merciful to others.

ASK YOURSELF
At several points along the way, we’ve paused to celebrate the immensity of our salvation. Here at the end of our look at mercy, let’s drop to our knees again in awe and thanksgiving, realizing the depths He has pulled us from and imagining the glories that await us—all because of His grace and love through Christ.[4]

MARCH 5

LORD OF RIGHTEOUSNESS

But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness.

1 Corinthians 1:30

 

In the midst of all the confusions of our day, it is important that we find out that Jesus Christ is the Lord of all righteousness and the Lord of all wisdom.

Righteousness is not a word easily acceptable to lost men and women in a lost world. Outside of the Word of God, there is no book or treatise that can give us a satisfying answer about righteousness, because the only One who is Lord of all righteousness is our Lord Jesus Christ, Himself. A scepter of righteousness is the scepter of His kingdom. He is the only One in all the universe who perfectly loved righteousness and hated iniquity.

Our great High Priest and Mediator is the righteous and Holy One—Jesus Christ, our risen Lord. He is not only righteous, He is the Lord of all righteousness!

Then, there is His wisdom. The sum total of the deep and eternal wisdom of the ages lies in Jesus Christ as a treasure hidden away. All the deep purposes of God reside in Him because His perfect wisdom enables Him to plan far ahead! Thus history itself becomes the slow development of His purposes.

 

Lord, I admit that my mind at times has difficulty wrapping around the concept of Your depth of wisdom and knowledge. I am humbled that You think of me, care for me, and love me.[5]


March 5 Praying According to God’s Will

“The word of the Lord [came] to Jeremiah the prophet for the completion of the desolations of Jerusalem” (Dan. 9:2).

✧✧✧

Effective prayer is always consistent with God’s will.

It is characteristic of God’s people to identify with God’s purposes and to conform their will to His. Learning to pray according to His will is a major step in that process because it drives you to the Word and demonstrates a humble, submissive heart.

Jesus emphasized the priority of God’s will when He said, “I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me” (John 6:38). He accomplished that goal, saying to the Father, “I glorified Thee on the earth, having accomplished the work which Thou hast given Me to do” (John 17:4). Even when facing the horror of the cross, Jesus didn’t waver. Instead He prayed, “Father, if Thou art willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Thine be done” (Luke 22:42).

Jesus taught His disciples the same priority, instructing them to pray, “Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matt. 6:9–10).

Daniel knew what it meant to pray according to God’s will. After reading the prophecy of a seventy-year Babylonian Captivity, he immediately accepted it as God’s will and began to pray for its fulfillment. His prayer wasn’t passive resignation to some act of fate beyond his control. It was active participation in God’s plan as revealed in Scripture. He wasn’t trying to change God’s will, but was doing everything he could to see it come to pass. That’s the essence of praying according to God’s will.

When you pray according to God’s will, you can be confident that He hears you and will grant your requests (1 John 5:14–15). Live in that confidence today!

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer:  Be a diligent student of the Word so you will know God’s will. ✧ Ask God to reveal areas in which your will is not conformed to His. As He does, take immediate steps to deal with the situation.

For Further Study: Read Revelation 22:6–21, noting God’s will for Christ’s return and how we’re to respond to it.[6]


MARCH 5

CHRISTIANITY IS WHAT CHRIST SAYS IT IS

Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.

COLOSSIANS 3:2

No one who knows what the New Testament is about will worry over the charge that Christianity is “otherworldly.”

Of course it is—and that is precisely where its power lies!

Christianity, which is faith in Christ, trust in His promises and obedience to His commandments, rests down squarely upon the Person of Christ.

What He is, what He did and what He is doing—these provide a full guarantee that the Christian’s hopes are valid.

Christianity is what Christ says it is. His power becomes operative toward us as we accept His words as final and yield our souls to believe and obey.

Christ is not on trial; He needs no character witnesses to establish His trustworthiness!

He came as the Eternal God in time’s low tabernacle. He stands before no human tribunal, but all men stand before Him now and shall stand for judgment at the last. Let any man bring the faith of Christ to the bar of man’s opinion, let him try to prove that the teachings of Christ are in harmony with this philosophy or that religion and he is in fact rejecting Christ while seeking to defend Him!

Let no one apologize for the powerful emphasis Christianity lays upon the basic doctrine of the world to come. When Christ arose from death and ascended into heaven He established forever three important facts, namely, that this world has been condemned to ultimate dissolution, that the human spirit persists beyond the grave and that there is indeed a world to come![7]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 78). 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. 73). 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. 77). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

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

Blessed Are the Peacemakers and the Persecuted Matthew 5:9-12

Matthew 5:9-12

Code: B170202

What sets you apart from the world as a Christian?

It’s not merely what you say you believe—plenty of people pay lip service to biblical theology without it penetrating their hearts. Others point back to an emotional event or a momentary confession as evidence for assurance of faith. And still others presume their good works will eventually outweigh the bad, and they will achieve God’s favor and forgiveness.

In the Beatitudes, Christ shatters those erroneous notions, and vividly describes the righteous character of those who truly belong to Him. In the final two Beatitudes, He highlights two godly characteristics that reflect how believers live in an ungodly world.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matthew 5:9-12)

The Peacemakers

If we’re going to understand the full weight of what it means to be a spiritual peacemaker, we need to think beyond the kind of temporary peace the world settles for.

There’s a big difference between a truce and peace. A truce just says you don’t shoot for a while. Peace comes when the truth is known, the issue is settled, and the parties embrace each other. Stopping a war just makes it boil. Approaching peace that way may develop a far worse situation.

The peace of the Bible never evades issues. The peace of the Bible is not peace at any price. It is not a gloss. The peace of the Bible conquers the problem. It builds a bridge. Sometimes it means struggle, sometimes it means pain, sometimes it means anguish; but in the end, real peace can come. Biblical peace is real peace. [1]

The peacemaking Christ describes in Matthew 5:9 is not aiming for momentary détente. It’s not about letting sleeping dogs lie or agreeing to disagree—it’s about solving the problem altogether. As John MacArthur says, “Being a peacemaker is not avoiding the issue; it’s diving right into the middle of it and trying to bring about a righteous solution.” [2]

That doesn’t mean we should be looking for fights to get into, or stirring up strife on our own. Romans 12:18 plainly says, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.” Hebrews 12:14 echoes the sentiment: “Purse peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord.” One of the requirements for godly leaders in the church is that they are not “pugnacious, but gentle, peaceable” (1 Timothy 3:3).

But in what initially sounds like a contradictory statement to the verses mentioned above, Christ told His disciples, “Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword” (Matthew 10:34). Here’s how John MacArthur explains the apparent contradiction.

What He means is that He did not come to bring peace at any price. He knew there had to be strife before there could be peace. . . .

We have to be contentious about some things. So, we bring the gospel to bear, and it ruffles feathers; it convicts, and it brings contention and strife. But when the conflict is resolved by faith in Jesus Christ, there is real peace. We are not to abandon doctrine or conviction, and we are not to avoid bringing up truth just because it offends somebody.

On the contrary, we must bring it up and let it offend so the person can get to real peace. If you deal with truth, you’ll be a divider, a disturber, a disrupter. There is no way around it.[3]

Every conflict we encounter is ultimately the result of sin. Therefore, any proposed solution that fails to deal with the underlying sin cannot truly solve the problem. In that sense, peacemaking isn’t about merely playing referee in a world filled with angst and strife. It’s about the work of the gospel in a world at war with God. It’s the work Paul described in 2 Corinthians 5:18-20.

Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal though us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.

Christ promised a reward for such peacemakers: “They shall be called sons of God” (Matthew 5:9). Here’s how John MacArthur describes the depth of that rich blessing:

Have you ever considered what it means to be a son of God? God has a personal, eternal love for you. God bears with your weakness and your sin. God accepts your imperfect service. God provides for your every need, shields you from every danger, reveals to you His eternal truth. He forgives you and keeps on forgiving your every sin.

God makes you an heir to everything He possesses. God works everything for your good. He keeps you from perishing forever. And He gives you heaven. [4]

The Persecuted

Those rich rewards stand in stark contrast to the realities of life in this world. Christ’s final Beatitude looks ahead to a life of conflict with the world.

Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matthew 5:10-12)

As Paul warned in 2 Timothy 3:12, “All who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” Peter told his readers, “Do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you . . . as though some strange thing were happening to you” (1 Peter 4:12). James was similarly blunt about the inevitability of trials (James 1:2-4).

Christians ought to expect persecution. Christ made that point clear in the Beatitudes. He emphasized it again to His disciples in the upper room:

If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. (John 15:18-19)

Our new nature in Christ and the Spirit’s transforming work mark us as targets in a world at war with God. As John MacArthur explains, living up to the standard of the Beatitudes is an offense the world cannot overlook.

All the virtues of the Beatitudes character are intolerable to an evil world. The world cannot handle somebody who is poor in spirit, because the world lives in pride, in a state of self-promotion and ego substantiation. The world cannot tolerate mourning over sinfulness. It wants to bypass sin altogether and convince itself that it’s all right. The world cannot tolerate meekness; it honors pride. The world cannot tolerate someone who knows he is nothing and seeks something that cannot be earned. The world knows little about mercy, about purity, about making peace. These characteristics flagrantly counter the system. [5]

In that sense, our suffering at the hands of the world ought to be a great source of encouragement, and even assurance.

If you’re living the kind of life the world can comfortably ignore, you need to question whether you’re living up to the standard Christ described in the Beatitudes. Not every believer will be chased out of his or her town with torches and pitchforks, and we don’t want to intentionally irritate and provoke the wrath of the unbelieving world. But if you fit seamlessly into secular society, you need to consider what the testimony of your life says to others about your relationship to Christ—or if it says anything at all.

By contrast, the believer who lives the lifestyle described in the Beatitudes will stand distinctly apart from the world, and will likely draw its ire. The unbelieving world simply has no stomach for godly righteousness.

Scripture even identifies friction with the world as a blessing. In Philippians 1:28-29, Paul praised the faithfulness of his readers, that they were

in no way alarmed by your opponents—which is a sign of destruction for them, but of salvation for you, and that too, from God. For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake.

In 1 Thessalonians 3:3, he wrote to encourage suffering believers, “so that no one would be disturbed by these afflictions; for you yourselves know that we have been destined for this.” In fact, Paul knew that his suffering created further opportunities for God to be glorified. “I am well content with weakness, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10).

In His final Beatitude, Christ acknowledges that the righteous life will be marked with hardship and opposition. But He doesn’t focus on that temporary suffering—instead, He once again points us toward eternity. “Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great” (Matthew 5:12). As John MacArthur explains,

If we are willing to pay the price now, God says the glory that shall be revealed is incomparable. Double blessed are the persecuted, for theirs is the kingdom, and all that the kingdom could possibly contain. I think Christ is talking about the here and now when the living King dwells within us and reveals and gives us the fullness of kingdom life spiritually.

He is also talking about a millennial element when the physical fulfillment of kingdom life will belong to us in that wonderful, renewed earth. I also think He’s talking about the eternal kingdom, when we’re face-to-face with the Son of God in glory. He is saying all that the kingdom can possibly convey, all that there possibly can be of God’s great and glorious gift will compensate for our struggle. [6]

There’s one more element included in Christ’s encouraging words at the close of the Beatitudes. He identifies our present suffering along with that of all the saints who have gone before us: “For in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matthew 5:12). There is considerable comfort in knowing that the persecution and hardship we face is not unique to us, but that it is common to all God’s people, including the heroes of our faith.

And when you remember that the Lord’s emphasis throughout the Beatitudes was on the nature of true faith and assurance, there is perhaps no more encouraging way for Him to conclude His thoughts.

Persecution is a verification that you belong to a righteous line. Here is the believer’s security. Here is the climax of the Beatitudes. Jesus offers salvation and tells how to know you have it. It does not come from some theological prescription. It does not come from knowing that you made a decision way back when. Your security comes from knowing that you are living a confrontive life in the midst of an ungodly world and that you are being persecuted for righteousness’ sake. When that comes, not only will you be rewarded in heaven, but you also stand in the line of prophets of God who have received the same reaction through all of history.

In other words, the whole matter will become a testimony to you that you belong to God. [7]

 


Available online at: https://www.gty.org/library/blog/B170202
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